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This Week in Sports Talk: August 2, 2020

This week in sports talk August 2, 2020

This Week in Sports Talk (TWIST) is our weekly roundup of top headlines from the past seven days in the world of sports, plus a preview of what’s up next. Heading into the week of August 2, 2020, here’s the top sports news, with a twist. Skim it, and you’ll be good to go all week.

This Week in Sports Talk: August 2, 2020

Awaken, sports fans, from your lockdown-induced stupor! Three of the four major sports leagues in America are actually in action – at least for now. The NBA, NHL and MLB are all playing at the moment. And the NFL start date is only weeks away. So there’s actually something to talk about! Here are the top 10 stories to know heading into the week of August 2, 2020.

1. the NBA is back!

Opening Night for the NBA was Thursday in the “bubble” at Disney World in Orlando. Almost all of the players took a knee during the national anthem. Many sported rallying cries for social justice and police reform on their jerseys and warm-ups jackets, too.

The night saw two highly-anticipated games. First was the Utah Jazz versus the New Orleans Pelicans. Utah staged a comeback after trailing by double-digits late in the game, and won 106-104. Pelicans superstar Zion Williamson played for only 15 minutes and they were uneventful. 

this week in sports talk August 2, 2020

This week in sports talk August 2, 2020: Zion Williamson took to the court for a short time in the opener on Thursday night. Photo Credit: CBS Sports.

The Big Game of the night, though, was the Battle of L.A.: the Lakers with LeBron James (LBJ) and Anthony Davis versus the Clippers and Kawhi Leonard. LBJ made a game-winning last-second shot to lift the Lakers over the Clippers, 103-101.

This week in sports talk August 2, 2020: LeBron James’ last-minute score led the Lakers to a victory over the Clippers Thursday night. Courtesy Photo.

While few of the stars seemed fully up to speed on Thursday night, for most sports fans it was just great to finally have something to watch live and cheer over. If you want to sound extra-informed when the topic comes up, you might casually mention that CBS Sports says Dion Waiters may be a sleeper hit for the Lakers – and that many blame coaching decisions by Doc Rivers for the Clippers’ loss.

this week in sports talk August 2, 2020

This week in sports talk August 2, 2020: Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers. Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images.

Meanwhile, the PDX fans on our Sports Desk want to point out that Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers beat the Memphis Grizzlies to pull within 2.5 games of the playoffs. Go Dame! BTW, we are totally putting this photo on our dorm room wall. Dreamy!

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2. First inning score: Coronavirus 1, MLB 0

Less than a week into the 2020 Major League Baseball season, the plans to play despite the COVID-19 virus outbreak are on somewhat shaky ground.

This week in sports talk August 2, 2020: the Miami Marlins played the Philadelphia Phillies. Hello, masks? Anybody? Photo Credit: AP Photo/Chris Szagola.

it began with the Marlins

On Monday, the Miami Marlins had to postpone their home opener after seven players (and a few coaches) tested positive for coronavirus. Positive cases in the Marlins organization jumped to 20 over the next couple of days. During the previous weekend, the Marlins had been playing the Philadelphia Phillies. Three Philly coaches tested positive in the days following the game (although Sports Illustrated is now reporting that two of those cases were false positives).

The league shut both teams down and re-jiggered the week’s schedule. The Phillies and Marlins will resume their seasons on Monday and Tuesday of this week, respectively. Yesterday morning, Marlins second baseman Isan Diaz opted out of the rest of the season.

This week in sports talk August 2, 2020: the St Louis Cardinals have had to postpone games due to Covid-19 positive cases on the team. Photo credit: Jim Mone, Associated Press.

then it hit the Cards

Meanwhile, mid-week in the Midwest, the St. Louis Cardinals reported two positive cases, causing the league to postpone games on their schedule. As of this posting, 3 players and 3 coaches on the team have reportedly tested positive.

These COVID-19 flare-ups have resulted in 16 postponed games in the season’s first 10 days. This weekend alone, six teams — comprising 20 percent of the league — have been shut down for reasons related to the virus. Ugh!

now what?

MLB will try to make up all postponed games later in the season via doubleheaders and eliminating off-days (the league and the players have agreed that double-headers will have seven-innings instead of the usual nine to try to spare pitchers from arm injuries). Commissioner Rob Manfred says that the season is in jeopardy of being canceled if these outbreaks of Covid-19 aren’t contained by players and team staff members more strictly adhering to the league’s safety protocols. 

This week in sports talk August 2, 2020

This week in sports talk August 2, 2020: the New York Yankees’ Giancarlo Stanton. Photo Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images.

Meanwhile, our Sports Desk would like to point out that after defeating their long-time nemesis – the Boston Red Sox – last night, the New York Yankees are in first place, with the best record in baseball: 6 – 1.

3. Beware The Wrath of the Dodgers

The LA Dodgers played the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston for the first time since the news of the infamous 2017 sign-stealing scandal broke. The fraud may have kept the Dodgers from a World Series slot that year. And to say there is some bad blood between the two teams would be a significant understatement.

Sure enough, Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly came perilously close to hitting batter Alex Bregman with a fastball. Later in the game, he nearly plunked Carlos Correa. Kelly ultimately struck out Correa. And then yelled “nice swing, b—hbefore mockingly making faces at him.

Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly mocking the Houston Astros’ Carlos Correa. Photo Credit: Getty Images.


You won’t be surprised to learn that a full scale melee ensued, with both teams’ dugouts emptying out onto the field for a good old-fashioned brouhaha. So much for social distancing.

The league has suspended Kelly for 8 games as punishment for his unsportsmanlike behavior, which equates to about one-eighth of this shortened season. Our Sports Desk notes that it’s a higher percentage of missed games than the ones the Astros players got after admitting to stealing signs from other teams – which was the original sin that triggered the retaliation in the first place.

The benches emptied between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros after Joe Kelly almost plunks Carlos Correa. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

In what might be karma – or just sheer bad luck – in another game this week, Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander suffered a forearm strain. He could be out for the rest of the season, although the player said it was not a season-ending injury. Watch this space for further updates.

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4. NFL news

NFL owners and players agreed on a protocol to play the 2020-21 season safely.  And almost as soon as they announced it, a number of players opted out. More on that in a moment.

This week in sports talk August 2, 2020

This week in sports talk August 2, 2020: Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is #4 in the Top 100 list, despite a Super Bowl victory and MVP award. Courtesy Photo.

First, some other news from the NFL this week:

  • Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes bought a stake in the MLB’s Kansas City Royals
  • #1 draft pick Joe Burrows signed his rookie contract with the Cincinnati Bengals: 4 years, $36.1 million.
  • Antonio Brown (AB) has been suspended for the first 8 games of the 2020-21 season for multiple violations of the NFL personal conduct policy. He can, however, participate in preseason activities if he is signed by a team. The Seattle Seahawks are rumored to be interested in the troubled receiver, with quarterback Russell Wilson lobbying on his behalf.
  • The NFL Network announced the results of the player vote for the top 100 players of 2020. The outcome was not without controversy. The ranking? #1 Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (last season’s MVP); #2 Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson; #3 Los Angeles Rams Defensive Tackle Aaron Donald; and #4 Kansas City Chiefs Patrick Mahomes. As the reigning Super Bowl champion quarterback and MVP, fans of Mahomes are understandably angry at what they perceive as a ‘diss. Meanwhile, Mahomes himself tweeted: “? – taking notes… ” We’re pretty sure this will just be bulletin board material for him.

5. Are the Pats tanking for Trevor?

The biggest cluster of NFL players opting out of the 2020-21 season is within the New England Patriots roster (in fact, the Pats account for approximately one-third of all the opt-outs to date).

Among those opting out are linebacker Dont’a Hightower; offensive tackle Marcus Cannon; safety Patrick Chung; fullback Danny Vitale; and receiver Marqise Lee. The consensus is that this will definitely hurt the Pats’ chances, and some opined that this was a natural response given Tom Brady’s departure. If the team doesn’t have much of a chance anyway, why risk your health?   

Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images.

Because it’s the Pats, of course there are also conspiracy theorists who see sinister motives at work here. Could this be Head Coach Bill Belichick’s master plan to land one of the top college quarterbacks in next spring’s draft? Like maybe Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence? Or Ohio State’s Justin Fields?

Cooler heads note that there are perfectly legitimate reasons for the decisions each of these players has made. For example, Hightower just became a father about a month ago, and his mother suffers from diabetes, making her a high-risk individual for coronavirus. Cannon is a cancer survivor who is high-risk himself. And Chung’s wife is pregnant.

Hmmm . . . what do you think, dear reader?

6. Tampa Bay Watch

Meanwhile, quarterback Tom Brady and his fellow Buccaneers are practicing at training camp in Tampa Bay. Reports are that Brady (“TB12”), tight end Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski and the gang are enthusiastically engaged. Ain’t no opt-outs here.

TB 12 on the beach in his new home state. Photo by GONZALO/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images.

The Bucs added to their offense this week with the signing of a one-year deal with running back LeSean McCoy. He was part of the Chiefs’ victorious Super Bowl run last year. Our Sports Desk says that unfortunately, at age 32, the 11-year veteran “Shady” McCoy is past his peak. But he’s a steady presence and good backup should some of the promising younger players need some backup.

One motivator for all that practicing down in TB by TB? The quarterback landed at No. 14 in the Top 100 Players of 2020 vote, his lowest ranking in the program’s 10-year history. There’s nothing like being an underdog to motivate a competitive athlete.

And finally, in other TB 12 news, there’s this. A Buffalo woman’s obituary included one final emphatic declaration of her dislike of Tom Brady. According to her family, the late Carole Scarsella of Lackawanna, New York “loved the New York Yankees and LeBron James. She HATED Tom Brady.” It was one of five facts shared about Scarsella, along with her love of reading, smoking cigarettes, and slot machines.

We are almost without words here. Carole sounds like the kind of girl we would have loved to hang out with. And while the posthumous middle finger to TB 12 seems a little extreme, we get it. Who doesn’t have a strong opinion about this dude?

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7. College football

The SEC announced Thursday that it has moved to a 10-game, conference-only schedule for this season. They also pushed the start of the season to September 26. Two other Power Five conferences, the Big Ten and Pac-12, had already announced conference-only schedules this year. 

This week in sports talk August 2, 2020: The SEC joined others in the Power Five by moving to a conference-only schedule this year. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

The ACC announced a day earlier that it will play an 11-game schedule with 10 intraleague contests and one nonconference game. Independent Notre Dame will play in the ACC this season only (if there is a season . . . ), making the Irish eligible to compete in the ACC Championship and ACC bowl game opportunities.

The moves mean that many beloved non-conference rivalry games won’t happen this year (including Florida-Florida State; Clemson-South Carolina; and Georgia-Georgia Tech).

8. NHL

After three final exhibition games on Thursday, the NHL is officially back in action with the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs this weekend. 

The 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers began yesterday in the hub cities of Edmonton and Toronto. The top four teams in both conferences will play a three-game round robin for seeding in the First Round. The Stanley Cup Qualifiers will be best-of-5 series.

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9. PGA Golf

While Brooks Koepka held the lead after Day 1 of the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis, the third round on Saturday proved to be a surprising up-and-down run.

Golfer Justin Thomas at the 2020 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. Photo Credit: PGA.

As of this morning, Brendon Todd leads by one stroke over Ben An, with Koepka, Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas rounding out the top 5. The final round is this afternoon.

10. Tennis

As with other sports, tennis is already dealing with potential issues around scheduling and playing this fall.

The French Open and the US Open are only about 6 weeks apart, and traveling between continents is highly restricted right now. While the US has granted a blanket exception to these rules for athletes, Europe has given no such exceptions to date. So, if the US Open ends on September 13, and the French Open starts on September 27, it’s going to be cutting it very tight if players traveling from the US have to quarantine for 14 days before playing at Roland Garros.

This week in sports talk August 2, 2020: World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty of Australia will not play at the U.S. Open this year.. Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images for LTA.

This week, world number one Ashleigh Barty pulled out of the U.S. Open, citing the risks of traveling during the pandemic. The defending champion has not yet made the call on whether or not she will make the trip to Paris for the French Open. World No. 2 Simona Halep, No. 6 Bianca Andreescu and No. 10 Naomi Osaka have also said they won’t be playing at the U.S. Open this year.

Just another day in 2020, people.

This Week in Sports Talk August 2, 2020

That’s it. You’re good to go with the top headlines and coming attractions heading into the week of August 2, 2020. Stay safe and healthy. See you next week.

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For access to insider ideas and information on the world of luxury, sign up for our Dandelion Chandelier newsletter here. And see luxury in a new light.

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