The Lists

how to talk about sports this week like a pro

TWIST: This Week in Sports Talk is our weekly recap of how to talk about sports this week like a pro. If you’re just starting to learn about sports, or need a quick summary of what’s up in your favorite league, or just want to know why your spouse keeps obsessively checking the sports scores during important social occasions, these are the top stories in sports this week. Here’s what you need to know to talk with a sports fan the week of February 10, 2019.

how to talk with a sports fan this week

We begin with a dynasty that grows ever stronger

Surely you know by now that the Los Angeles Rams lost to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta last Sunday. It was a generational face-off, and the elders won. 41-year old Tom Brady of the Pats, the NFL’s oldest quarterback, won his 6th Super Bowl ring (in his 9th appearance at the big game). The Proven (the Pats) handily defeated the Prodigies (the Rams), 13-3. It was lowest-scoring game in Super Bowl history, and reasonably dull to watch, we must say.

Here are some of the highlights of the immediate aftermath of this year’s Super Bowl:

The week’s festivities

The Pats partied late into the night on Sunday in Atlanta. Tom Brady and Julian Edelman (the game’s MVP) went to Disney World the next day. Tuesday there was ticker-tape parade in Boston. That night, Edelman dropped the puck on the ice for the Boston Bruins. Then everyone went to the Boston Celtics game on Thursday night. LeBron James (LBJ) was in town, and the LA Lakers beat the Celts at the buzzer. The media got a photo of LBJ and Pats head coach Bill Belichick shaking hands before the game – RESPEKT! Those two have a lot of championship rings between them. Belichick has long tried to get LBJ to come to the Pats as a wide receiver or tight end.

The Pats’ Julian Edelman and Tom Brady in Disney World the day after the Super Bowl

The beard

After all of that, on Friday Julian Edelman went on Ellen Degeneres’ talk show and she shaved his beard off  (she made a $10,000 contribution to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston for the privilege, and he matched it). When asked if he had a final message to his beard before Ellen took a buzzer to it, Edelman said, “I love you, beard. It’s been a hell of a year.”  We say: Hello, Mr. Edelman! Behind that beard is a seriously good-looking dude, if we may offer our humble opinion on the topic. And Ellen has mad skills as a barber! Who knew?

Ellen Degeneres and Julian Edelman, post-shave

The Crimson Tide Correlation

A trend has developed over the years between the Pats, the NFL’s modern dynasty, and the Alabama Crimson Tide, their college equivalent. The two organizations have still never won a title in the same year despite combining for 11 titles. Since 2014, they have consistently alternated years with wins and losses in championship games. Our Sports Desk poses the pressing question: are they the weird devil children of the same mother? Was it inevitable that since ‘Bama lost, the Pats would win in 2019? Turns out there’s also a correlation between the Crimson Tide’s victories and those of LeBron James. Coincidence? Hmmm. The whole thing is bit freaky.

The bling

The last time the Pats won the Super Bowl, team owner Robert Kraft commissioned a Super Bowl ring for each member of the 53-man roster containing 283 diamonds each (that’s a not-so-subtle reference to the fact that the Pats were down 28-3 and came back to win the game). In case the math eludes you, that’s 14,999 diamonds just for the player’s rings. Staff and others also get rings, so that was just the start of the bling-fest.

Can’t wait to see what the new ones will look like! They should be unveiled in early June.

The Patriots Super Bowl LI Rings

what you need to know to talk about sports this week 

For Those Who Do Not Avidly Follow Professional Sports and Want to Be Able to Talk to a Sports Fan, here are the happenings that you should know about for the week of February 10, 2019:

1. NBA

Must know:

The NBA trading deadline has expired, and star center Anthony Davis remains in New Orleans. All-NBA center Anthony Davis (known as “Unibrow”) asked to be traded from the New Orleans Pelicans. The Los Angeles Lakers made an initial offer described as “underwhelming.” But the offer was basically to trade most of the team for him.

Word of this got out, and now many of the Lakers players are highly unmotivated. They lost a game this week by 42 points to the Pacers – the largest loss ever taken by LeBron James (LBJ) in a game. A photo from the game shows LBJ sitting on the sideline of the court, with three empty seats between him the rest of the team. Coincidence? Probably. But the underlying theme of “LBJ wants to get Davis so he can create a super team, and the rest of us are disposable” was stark and unmistakable.

Magic Johnson, the Lakers’ president of basketball operations, plans to meet with the team this weekend in Philadelphia to address the morale issues.

Nice to know:

The NBA All-Star game is on February 17, 2019. It’s always a glamorous and event-filled weekend, and this year is likely to be no exception.

Extra Credit:

In the first-ever live NBA All-Star Game Draft, team captain LBJ selected almost every major player who it is rumored he’d love to lure to Los Angeles to play with him.  James picked Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis and Klay Thompson. Smart man.

2. MLB

Must know: In the surest sign that spring is almost in view, the Major League pitchers and catchers report to spring training in 5 days. They report a couple of weeks earlier than other players. Meanwhile, as of this posting the hottest free agents in the league — Bryce Harper and Manny Machado — remain unsigned.

Nice to know: Hall of Fame player and first African-American Manager in the MLB Frank Robinson passed away yesterday at 83 after a long battle with bone cancer.  Our Sports Desk reports that Robinson is probably the most underappreciated Hall of Fame member: he is the only player to win the MVP in both NL (Reds) and AL (Orioles). He also won Baseball’s Triple Crown in 1966, leading the league in home runs (49), Runs Batted In (122) and Batting Average (.316).

MLB hall of fame member Frank Robinson Photo Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Extra Credit: There are a number of proposed rule changes on the table to speed up game, including the adoption of the Designated Hitter in the National League (making the DH universal across both leagues). Other proposals? A rule requiring pitchers to face a minimum of three batters, except in the case of injury or when finishing an inning. A 20-second pitch clock. A reduction in mound visits from six to five per game. A rule in which each half-inning in extra innings would begin with a runner on second base. A rule that would permit two-sport athletes, such as Kyler Murray, to sign major league contracts as an enticement to play baseball.

3. Other happenings in the NFL 

Must know:

Post-mortems on the Super Bowl abound. Here are few facts and assertions you can drop into the conversation.

  • The consensus is that the Pats’ Belichick out-coached the Rams’ Sean McVay. McVay started with a flawed plan and then didn’t change it. The Pats executed really well on defense, especially Stephon Gilmore; even though they were poor on offense, they did enough to get the win.
  • No one knows why the Rams’ Todd Gurley did not play much or well. Rams quarterback Jared Goff had a poor game and missed a few opportunities. Brandyn Cooks probably should have had one or more of those passes.
  • Julian Edelman played really well (although there’s debate on whether or not he earned the MVP title). Rob Gronkowski delivered when it counted. Tom Brady was actually mediocre for most of the game, but made a characteristic drive in the fourth quarter to win the game.
  • Memes rule – here’s one you can share with your sports fan:

Nice to know:

There’s lot of continued speculation in Pittsburgh about the Steelers. Will Antonio Brown get get traded or not? There are rumors of Le’Veon Bell getting slapped with the franchise tag again, which would be incredible given that he refused to play all of last season.

Extra credit:

The Vegas odds are already out on next year’s Super Bowl.  The Pats are the favorites at 6/1, then the Kansas City Chiefs at 7/1, the New Orleans Saints at 8/1 and the LA Rams at 9 to 1. New Yorkers will be thrilled to know that the New York Giants are 40/1. And the Jets are 100/1. So they actually have a chance! Personally, we hope the Cleveland Browns surprise us all next season.

Bonus Round:

The next big milestone in the NFL calendar is the draft. The most prominent current controversy is Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, the 2018 Heisman Trophy winner. Murray still will not commit to whether he’ll be playing pro football or pro baseball.  Since he won’t say, it’s unlikely that a team will waste a draft pick on him. Another factor with Murray is that he is reportedly 5’9” tall. The magic number for success as an NFL quarterback is being at least 5’10”. Watch this space for further details.

Kyler Murray

That’s what you need to know to talk with a sports fan this week. You’re good to go. See you next week!

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