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This Week in Sports Talk: November 22, 2020

this week in sports talk November 22, 2020

This Week in Sports Talk (TWIST) is our weekly roundup of top headlines and current events from the past seven days in the world of sports, plus a preview of what’s up next. Heading into the week of November 22, 2020, here’s how to talk about the top sports news of the moment. Skim it, and you’ll be good to go all week.

This Week in Sports Talk: November 22, 2020

Normally, Thanksgiving Week is a big one in the world of sports. Thanks to coronavirus, that’s not the case in 2020. Nevertheless, there’s still some action to cover, and some news to know. Here are the top 10 stories of note heading into the week of November 22, 2020.

1. MLB Hall of Fame ballot announced; the Mets’ Cano suspended for the ’21 season

New York Mets second baseman Robinson Cano tested positive for the performance-enhancing drug stanozolol and will be suspended for the entire 2021 season. As a result, he’ll have to forfeit his $24 million salary. It was the player’s second positive test (Cano previously tested positive in 2018). The only bright spot for Mets fans? Now the new owner, hedge fund manager Steve Cohen, has an extra $24 million to spend next season.

The New York Mets’ Robinson Cano. Courtesy Photo.

On Monday, the Baseball Hall of Fame released the names of the 25 players on the ballot for the potential class of 2021. It’s entirely possible that nobody will be elected on this ballot, which hasn’t happened since the voting for the would-have-been class of 2013. Notables up this year again include the controversial players Curt “bloody sock” Schilling, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds. Each is in their ninth year of eligibility (players are eligible to remain on the ballot for only 10 years). The results will be announced on January 26, 2021.

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2. Steelers are still undefeated; Jets are still winless

We’re on a wash-rinse-repeat cycle with this particular headline. Yes, heading into Week 11 of the NFL season, the Pittsburgh Steelers (9-0) remain undefeated, having beaten Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals (2-6-1).

And the last time the New York Jets (0-9) took the field, the New England Patriots (4-5) beat them. Any questions?

The Pittsburgh Steelers remain undefeated this season. Courtesy Photo.

3. Other Notable news from NFL Week 10

Saints QB Brees out with injuries for at least 3 weeks

The New Orleans Saints (7-2) won their game against the San Francisco 49ers (4-6). But their starting quarterback Drew Brees will be on the IR list for the next few weeks. He broke several ribs in the previous week’s game against Tampa Bay. He broke a few more in this game, and had a collapsed lung in the middle of matchup. Yikes!

With Brees on the sidelines, most people assumed that the former No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston would take his place in today’s game against the Atlanta Falcons. After all, he’s currently the NFL’s reigning passing champion.

But instead, today’s announced starter is “Swiss Army Knife” Taysom Hill. One member of our Sports Desk sees a possible bait and switch in progress, suggesting that head coach Sean Payton named Hill as the starter so the Falcons will formulate a game plan against him. And that he’s planning to insert Winston to throw them off. Others on our Sports Desk note, however, that Taysom Hill has Atlanta’s number. In his last game against them, he scored a running touchdown, a receiving touchdown and a punt return touchdown. Maybe the coach will start Taysom and then pull him quickly? Or substitute them in and out? Catch the game and see for yourself.

Bucs trounce the Panthers; Pats upset the Ravens

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3) delivered a decisive 46-23 win over the Carolina Panthers (3-7). And the New England Patriots (4-5) brought their A Game and beat one of the top teams in the AFC with a 23-17 win over the Baltimore Ravens (6-3).

play of the week: the Murray Miracle

But the news of the week was the epic conclusion of the Arizona Cardinals (6-3) -Buffalo Bills (7-3) game. Herewith to be known as the miraculous Murry Hail Mary. With 34 seconds left in the fourth, the Bills took a 30-26 lead. Arizona got the ball back and held possession with 11 seconds left. Adorable quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray avoided a sack, and tossed an off-balance Hail Mary to the end zone. He connected with DeAndre Hopkins, who reached above three Bills defenders to make the game-winning catch for a 32-30 win. It’s a truly unbelievable play. Watch it here. Like the announcer says, it’s Murray Magic, cats and kittens. And he’s just getting started.

Herbert gets a haircut

In other breaking news, this week the LA Chargers rookie quarterback Justin Herbert got a new haircut. And was immediately mocked for looking like a middle schooler. It was reportedly his first haircut since 2017 or 2018. And the team’s conditioning coach John Lott was allegedly the barber. Dude, all we can say is that every girl knows it’s just hair . . .  a bad cut eventually grows out. Of course, the shame endures forever.

Justin Herbert, before and after his recent haircut. Photo Credit: the New York Post.

4. NFL Week 11 Games of the Week

The Seattle Seahawks (7-3) took on the Arizona Cardinals (6-4) in a big NFC West divisional game on Thursday Night Football, and the Seahawks won, 28-21. A last-minute sack of the Cards’ quarterback Kyler Murray sealed the victory.

The Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs (8-1) are slated to play the Las Vegas Raiders (6-3) in prime time tonight. The last time the teams met, the Raiders upset the Chiefs. At home. So consider this a grudge match. The complicating factor is . . . wait for it . . . coronavirus. Earlier this week, the Raiders had practically their entire defense in COVID-19 protocol all week. Vegas is just two games back of the Chiefs in the AFC West heading into this match-up, so there’s a lot on the line. The game is still on as of this posting.

Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers (7-2) visit the Indianapolis Colts (6-3)  this afternoon. Both teams are playoff contenders. It’s one of the best defensive lines against one of the highest-scoring teams this season. And it should be good.

The Baltimore Ravens (6-3) are hoping to get back on track against the Tennessee Titans (6-3). The Titans won in a dramatic playoff upset last January against the Ravens.

On Monday night, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3) play the LA Rams (6-3) in a big NFC battle.

And finally, the New York Jets (0-9) will get another shot at their first win of the season in today’s game against the LA Chargers (2-7). Pray for them, dear reader. Lots of Jets fans are hoping for a loss at this point, with dreams of drafting Trevor Lawrence dancing in their heads.

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5. Week 12 of college football

Back in the Before Times, we would have been at a college football rivalry game this weekend. Yes, it would have been The Game – Harvard v Yale. Instead? We spent the afternoon cleaning out our sock drawer. Freakin’ 2020.

But there were some college football games played yesterday. No. 3 Ohio State beat No. 9 Indiana, 42-35. No. 19 Northwestern upset No. 10 Wisconsin, 17-7. And in the annual rivalry game known as the Bedlam Series, No. 18 Oklahoma rolled over No. 14 Oklahoma State, 41-13.

Meanwhile, the clock seems to be running out on head coach Jim Harbaugh at the University of Michigan. Heading into the weekend, the Wolverines were 1-3 — the program’s worst start since 1967. Yesterday may have granted him some breathing room, though. In triple overtime, Michigan beat Rutgers, 48-42.

6. NBA Draft

It’s been a tough year for the NBA’s top incoming prospects (no one has escaped the fiendish twists and turns of 2020). This class of young athletes missed out on their final NCAA March Madness Tournament when it was canceled due to coronavirus. And the NBA Draft was supposed to happen in June – but it was pushed back to this week. Again, due to coronavirus.

But the big day finally came, with the NBA holding a remote draft on Thursday. Georgia’s Anthony Edwards went to the Minnesota Timberwolves as the first overall selection.

In a more entertaining headline, stage father LaVar Ball saw another son drafted in the first round. This time, it’s LeMelo Ball, this year’s #3 pick. He’s headed to the Charlotte Hornets, the team owned by the iconic Michael Jordan. How’s this for awkward? LaVar Ball talks a lot of smack, including telling USA Today in 2017 that he “would kill” Jordan in a one-on-one game in his prime.

When asked about this potential match-up at his introductory news conference this week, LeMelo gracefully smiled and said he “doesn’t think it’s going to happen.” We’re just imagining Thanksgiving at the Ball home this year. And thinking . . . maybe not.

And we giving a joyful shout-out to our friend Crystal Anthony. Her son Cole Anthony was drafted at #15 and he’s heading to the Orlando Magic. Woo-hoo!!!

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7. NBA Free Agency Frenzy

With the NBA Draft done, the NBA offseason is officially underway and the crazy has already started. Some players are being signed to “supermax” contracts by their existing teams. And ’tis the season for free agents to see big paydays. Some believe this is a good year to go into free agency, as there are few superstar free agents this year, meaning there’s more demand than supply.

Western Conference moves

For starters this week, Chris Paul was traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Phoenix Suns. It’s his third new team in as many years, and the fifth franchise of his career. The early word is that with this move, the Suns are now a legitimate playoff threat in the West.

Golden State Warriors fans (that would be us) are heartbroken that Klay Thompson, after missing last season with an ACL tear, tore his Achilles in a workout this week and will miss the entire season again. Ugh!!! In the face of this disappointing news, Golden State is reportedly finalizing a deal to acquire Kelly Oubre Jr. from the Thunder. Assuming Steph Curry is back at full force, the team seems committed to a rebuild after losing Kevin Durant to the Brooklyn Nets last season.

eastern conference trades

In the East, the Milwaukee Bucks this week acquired Jrue Holiday from the New Orleans Pelicans (that would be Zion Williamson’s team), and Bogdan Bogdanovich and Justin James from the Sacramento Kings. Both are seen as statement moves indicating that the front office is willing to do whatever it takes to help convince its superstar player Giannis Antetokounmpo to stick around.

Rumors continue to swirl around the Houston Rockets and the futures of both James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Harden reportedly turned down a two-year, $103 million extension from the Rockets that would have made him the first $50 million-per-year player in league history.

Word is that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irvin have spoken with Harden and want him to join them on the Brooklyn Nets roster. Late yesterday, word spread that the Nets front office was moving on from Harden. But then it seemed that all of it could be a negotiating tactic, and that Harden is still very much in the mix for Brooklyn. Watch this space for further updates.

8. Medvedev and Theim beat Nadal and Djokovic in semi-finals at the ATP Finals

The 2020 Nitto ATP World Tour Finals are underway at the O₂ Arena in London. In a shocking upset yesterday, Daniil Medvedev recovered to beat Rafael Nadal for the first time in his career to reach the final. Also yesterday, Dominic Thiem (the reigning US Open champion) defeated Novak Djokovic in a final-set tie-break in their semi-final match. Djokovic was close to becoming the second six-time champion in Nitto ATP Finals history, tying Roger Federer’s record tally. But it wasn’t his moment.

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9. Dustin Johnson wins his first Masters Tournament

Dustin Johnson finished at -20 at Augusta National, the lowest score to par in the history of the Masters. In clinching his first win at Augusta, Johnson also tied the mark for lowest score to par in major championship history.

An entertaining pop culture sideshow has ensued in the wake of Johnson’s big win thanks to his long-time fiancée Paulina Gretsky. She’s the daughter of hockey great Wayne Gretsky. But you probably know her better as the star of the feature film Guns, Girls and Gambling (2012). The two have been engaged since 2013. And they have 2 kids. Our cursory research indicates that Ms. Gretsky has an affinity for low-cut tank tops. And she’s been on the cover of Golf Digest, sporting a crop top and leggings (which is what everyone wears to play golf, right?). Let’s see. Famous father, famous boyfriend, dramatic displays of décolletage – the “It Girl” trifecta! It works for Kim Kardashian West, and it’ll work for you, too.

Despite the boobalicious presence of Ms. Gretsky, sadly the television ratings for the Masters Final were a disappointment. We know, it makes no sense to us, either, but there it is. The NFL on Fox drew 10.5 million viewers; the Masters saw only 5.6 million. So, an ordinary NFL game drew twice as many viewers as the final day of one of the biggest major golf tournaments of the year. If Tiger Woods is not winning, golf is not winning. That’s just the way the world works, and not even a hot mom in a tank top can change it.

10. Creativity in Cleveland

In the ongoing mash-up of sports, art, fashion and design, this week there’s further proof of the inexorable pull of the world of culture on the NBA. Or maybe it’s vice-versa, actually.

Dior x Daniel Arsham Limited Edition Future Relic Basketball. Photo Courtesy Dior.

Anyway, the point we wanted to make is that artist Daniel Arsham has been named the creative director of the Cleveland Cavaliers. His mandate includes everything from the imagery on the team’s jerseys and home court to key aspects of its social-media presence. He’ll lead collaborative initiatives with Cleveland-based artists. And of course, he’ll be creating capsule collections and other merchandise for the arena’s team shop and online.

If you can’t wait to get your hands on one of his new creations, ask Santa about the possibility of leaving one of Arsham’s limited edition Dior basketball sculptures ($12,000) under the tree this year. Encrusted with quartz crystal, the Eroded Basketball Future Relic is packaged in “a custom art crate.” And delivered with “one pair of white gloves, a certificate with numeration and a specially made sand timer.” Wow. That’s a lot to take in. But hey, you’ve been nice all year, right? And pink works perfectly with any home décor scheme. We think you should go for it.

This Week in Sports News November 22, 2020

That’s it. You’re good to go with the top headlines and coming attractions heading into the week of November 22, 2020. Stay safe and healthy, dear reader. And Happy Thanksgiving! See you next week.

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