This Week in Sports Talk (TWIST) is our weekly recap to help you learn how to talk about sports right now. If you’re just starting to learn about sports, or want a quick summary of the headlines, or even if you just want to fake a modicum of sports knowledge at work or at the bar, read on. Here’s how to talk to a sports fan the week of May 19, 2019.
how to talk sports the week of May 19, 2019
First, some short takes for those still shaking off their Saturday night slumber.
PGA Bethpage Black
This weekend’s big event in the world of golf is the PGA Bethpage Black tournament in Long Island. The course is best suited for long ball hitters like Brooks Koepka. Not surprisingly, he set a course record in Round 1. Koepka has won three of the last eight major championships and is well on pace to win Bethpage Black. He enters today’s final round at 12 under par. Meanwhile, after his spectacular come-back at the Masters last month, Tiger Woods failed to make the cut and is out of the tournament. The consensus going in was that Bethpage is too long and not a great course for Tiger.
In a comical aside, golfer John Daly – who is recovering from a knee injury – received approval to use a golf cart at the tournament. Known for chain smoking and drinking large quantities of Diet Coke, he got some shade from Tiger Woods, who declared “I walked the course with a broken leg”! Video captured Daly hopping stiff-legged into his cart in Round 1. “How’s the knee?” a bystander asks. Daly replies, “Sh*t.” And drives off. OK, then. Anybody got any other questions?
With the top 4 horses from the Kentucky Derby not running the second leg of the Triple Crown, there was little interest in what would normally be a showcase event in horse racing. Will of War easily won the 144th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico yesterday.
Boston bragging rights
The Boston sports crowd is feeling some pride this week, even with the Celtics out of the NBA Playoffs. With the Bruins victory and a place in the Stanley Cup Finals, this is Boston’s 18th championship event in 18 calendar years. As one Boston paper put it: “It began with the Patriots’ victory in the Super Bowl in February 2002. Boston teams are 12-5 in this century in the final round. The Patriots are 6-3 in Super Bowls, the Red Sox 4-0 in World Series, while the Celtics and Bruins are 1-1 as the B’s prepare for the Sharks or Blues.”
For those keeping score, since 2002, New York-based teams are 4-6.
If the Bruins can win the Stanley Cup, Boston will be home to the reigning champs in football, baseball, and hockey from now until at least October. The only time any city has had three championship teams simultaneously was in 1935-36. That’s when the Detroit Tigers, Red Wings, and Lions were all champs in our hometown, Motown.
OK, people. Now that we’re warmed up, let’s get to the real deal updates.
how to talk to a sports fan the week of May 19, 2019
For Those Who Do Not Avidly Follow Professional Sports and Want to Be Able to Talk to a Sports Fan, here’s what you really need to know if you want to talk sports this week.
The Golden State Warriors are positioned for a sweep in the Western Conference Finals. As of this posting, they are 3-0 against the Portland Trail Blazers after a come-from-behind win last night in Portland. The Western Conference Finals have been a match-up of Curry versus Curry, as Steph of the Warriors faces his brother Seth of the Blazers. No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win in the NBA playoffs. If they cinch the conference win, it will be the fifth consecutive year that the Warriors are in the NBA Finals.
In the East, the results so far are similarly lop-sided: The Milwaukee Bucks and their star player Giannis Antetokounmpo are up 2-0 versus the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals. To date, the Bucks are 10-1 in the NBA playoffs. Antetokounmpo has been fighting to establish himself as the best player in the East – over Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard. Seems to be working so far.
It could be Curry, Durant and Thompson against Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez and company in the NBA Finals this year. Which could make for some excellent basketball.
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The NBA lottery to determine which team gets the first draft pick was held this week, and to the massive disappointment of Knicks fans, the New Orleans Pelicans won the #1 pick. They will almost certainly draft Zion Williamson, the phenom from Duke. The New York Knicks had to settle for number 3. Right now the expectation is that the Knicks will pick Williamson’s teammate from Duke, R. J. Barrett.
Trade rumors continue to swirl around a number of NBA players. Interestingly, Vegas now has the Knicks at number 3 in the odds to win the NBA title next year. They’d be up from the worst record in the league this year, and the improvement seems to be all on the basis of the rumors that Kevin Durant (KD) will make a move from the Warriors to New York post-season.
The second round of the NHL Playoffs is underway. In the Eastern Conference Final, the Boston Bruins on Thursday night advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the 20th time in franchise history. They swept the Carolina Hurricanes in 4 games and dominated the entire series; only one of the games was decided by less than 3 goals. Bruins’ goaltender Tuukka Rask has had a spectacular post-season performance.
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The San Jose Sharks are up 2-1 against the St. Louis Blues in the NHL Western Conference Finals.
Disputed referee calls are happening in every professional sports league this season. In the NHL, the Sharks won Game 3 in overtime, and there was some officiating drama. The winning goal was scored on a play where one of the Sharks players clearly used his hand to pass the puck to a teammate, who then scored. Viewers could see it, but the referee did not. It is not a play that can be challenged, so the final score stands. Understandably, outrage has ensued.
Finally, in the NFL the biggest news of the week is that the New York Jets fired their General Manager Mike Maccagnan. Apparently, he had a dispute with the new coach he hired, Adam Gase. And the team’s owner decided to fire him. Gase was named the interim General Manager.
The entire episode is viewed as odd and not well thought out. Jets ownership let Maccagnan make $100 million in free agency and draft moves, and then fired him. They opted to side with a brand-new coach who many saw as a questionable hire in the first place (Gase had a 23 – 25 record in Miami). And they fired the General Manager with no replacement ready.
The New York tabloids are having a field day with this episode, writing that the “Jets can’t stop making clueless decisions” and that they’re “the two steps forward, one step back franchise”. Observers had been starting to see some promise in the draft and free agency moves made by the team. The Jets finally have a strong starting quarterback, and a good nucleus of talent on offense and defense. Now that momentum feels at least temporarily on hold. Apparently, the biggest source of Gase’s unhappiness was about was the signing of LeVeon Bell from the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The rumor is that the Jets are pursuing Peyton Manning as their new General Manager. Reportedly, Manning had a lot to do with Gase ending up in New York in the first place. So maybe there is a Master Plan at work here? Stay tuned.
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Odell Beckham Junior (OBJ), who was traded to the Cleveland Browns during the post-season, has already started to exhibit some questionable judgement. He left the Organized Team Activities (OTA’s) because he needed to be “mentally ready” to play. Huh?
When players either don’t show up, or show up late, or leave early from pre-season events like this, it’s usually a sign that they’re unhappy about something. Or just really high maintenance. Neither is a good look for a new player on a team. Here’s hoping it settles. ‘Cause we like the Browns! And we like you, too, OBJ. Maybe ask yourself: What Would Tom Brady Do?
The Arizona Cardinals’ Pro Bowl cornerback, Patrick Peterson, was suspended for the first 8 games of the season because of Performance-Enhancing Drug (PED) use. Rumors were he was going to be traded to Kansas City, a team that seems to be a magnet for troubled players lately.
That’s how to talk to a sports fan the week of May 19, 2019. You’re good to go. See you next week!
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