This Week in Sports Talk (TWIST) is our weekly report on the big sports news headlines and major events, plus a preview of what’s up next. For April 9, 2023, here are the weekly top 10 sports news headlines to know – the big stories and major events in sports news this week in the NBA, MLB and more.
weekly top 10 big sports news headlines and major events: April 9, 2023
1. Augusta National is a bit . . . awkward this year.
It’s Masters weekend, and things have been a little awkward at Augusta this year. Players for the upstart LIV league and the longstanding PGA are both competing. Given the bad blood between the two organizations, the social events have taken on an air of Jets versus Sharks.
For example, the annual pre-tournament dinner attended by the former champions and hosted by last year’s champion (who also gets to choose what’s on the menu) was a bit less collegial this year. Phil Mickelson – who first trashed the Saudis and then took a lot of their money to join the LIV, to much criticism from the American press corps – was there. Reports are that he sat through the entire meal without saying a word.
The weather at the beginning of the tourney was stormy, with play being cancelled and trees coming down on the famous course on Friday. So Mickelson was not the only one with a thundercloud over his head.
2. Tiger Woods withdraws from Masters on final day
Sentimental fans had high hopes for five-time Masters champ Tiger Woods this year, and at first it looked as if they might be rewarded with a comeback story. Woods made the cut for the 23rd consecutive time – tying Fred Couples and Gary Player for the longest streak in the tournament’s history. But he struggled yesterday, and then made the announcement that he was withdrawing “due to reaggravating my plantar fasciitis.” In the wake of a car crash in February 2021, Woods has gamely fought to get back in the game. But cold weather is particularly tough on his reconstructed leg, and the cold and rain proved to be too much for him to handle.
As of this posting, Brooks Koepka leads Jon Rahm going into the final round, with Viktor Hovalnd still in the hunt. Koepka left the PGA last year to join the LIV. Could be a sweet victory for a lot of people if he pulls this one off.
3. NBA Regular Season is almost over, with 2 tight races for no.1 seeds
NBA is starting to get close to the playoffs with the play-in tournament starting next week, first round of the playoffs start the week of April 15.
The East has two strong teams battling once again for the top seed: the Milwaukee Bucks are currently just 2 games ahead of the Boston Celtics. The Philadelphia 76ers are currently in third place, five back.
The Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies are in an even tighter race, with Denver just one game ahead of Memphis as of this posting. The Sacramento Kings are four back.
But what about the Phoenix Suns? After acquiring Kevin Durant from the Brooklyn Nets, all eyes were on the team to be the best in the West. They’re currently in fourth place, seven games back. Our Sports Desk says don’t sleep on them, though. A lot can change quickly in the postseason.
In case you’re wondering, our Golden State Warriors are tied with the LA Clippers, nine back. And LeBron’s LA Lakers are tied with the New Orleans Pelicans, ten back.
4. Tampa Bay is still undefeated in MLB
It’s still early days in the MLB season, but so far the AL East’s Tampa Bay Rays are exceeding expectations – at 8-0, they’re the only team still undefeated this season.
In Gotham, it’s a different story. The New York Yankees are 5-3 and New York Mets are 5-4. Not a particularly thrilling start to a season that looks promising for both franchises.
The Mets postponed this week’s home owner from Thursday to Friday and delivered a dazzling win, 9-3 over the Miami Marlins. The team’s ace Justin Verlander is currently out, but the good news is that he said he expects to return from a muscle strain before the end of April.
Their other superstar pitcher, Max Scherzer, is off to a disappointing start this season. But on a brighter note, slugger Pete Alonzo hit his 4th homer of season and the 150th of career this week. Our Sports Desk notes that he’s the second-fastest player to reach 150. It took him 538 games; the record holder is Ryan Howard of the Phillies, who did it in 495.
5. Climate change may be behind record number of homers in MLB?
Speaking of MLB home runs . . . global warming may actually be making it easier for players to hit them. According to researchers at Dartmouth College, warmer temperatures helped batters hit at least 500 more homers from 2010 to 2019.
NBC News notes: “The research was based on their simple premise that ‘air density is inversely proportional to temperature,’ according to the paper, and that with all ‘else being equal, warmer air is less dense and a batted ball will carry farther.'”
Hmm . . . maybe Aaron Judge had a little help from Mother Nature during his epic run last season? Leave it to the smarty-pants at Dartmouth to try to take even that victory away from Yankees fans. We suspect the Red Sox are behind this.
6. In the end, men’s final in March Madness was a bit . . . meh.
The UConn men’s team completed their dominant NCAA Tournament run on Monday night, defeating San Diego State 76-59 to earn their first national title since 2014. Given the lopsided score, it was a fairly mundane end to a tournament that is usually high on drama and emotion. Lower television ratings bear out the anti-climactic end to a bracket-busting and highly unpredictable (and exciting) tournament.
7. Women’s March Madness final was fabulous – and fashionable.
Last weekend’s women’s national championship game was a lot more of a thriller. LSU defeated Iowa to win their first-ever title, 102-85.
USA Today explains the significance of this win: “Just two years after taking over a downtrodden 9-13 LSU program, coach Kim Mulkey led the Tigers to a 34-2 record and won her fourth national title. She previously led Baylor to championships in 2005, 2012 and 2019.”
We note that Coach Mulkey, 60, made headlines for her courtside fashions as she led her team to the top. She wore a sequined tiger print suit with pointed-toe black pumps to the final game. People notes that throughout the tournament, she variously rocked an all white ensemble; a pink blazer with thick pink ruffles to match her granddaughter’s dress; and “a long, sparkly, rainbow sequin duster that she wore with black pants and a tight pink cami.”
Three words, coach: You. Go. Girl!!!
8. Rodgers and Jackson still unsigned
The NFL draft end will take place at the end of the month, but all eyes are currently on two experienced free agents. There’s been no announcement on whether Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be signing with the New York Jets. Our Sports Desk reports that the word on the street is that the San Francisco 49’ers seem to be in play for Rodgers now, too. No team has stepped up to sign Lamar Jackson yet, either. Both are likely to be resolved shortly before or after the draft.
Of note, wide receiver and new NY Jet (and former Green Bay player) Alan Lazard worked out with Rodgers recently, strengthening the case that Rodgers is heading to New York. He’ll fit in perfectly here – we love weird people who are talented and always into something odd. Bring the crazy, Aaron! We’ve seen plenty worse.
9. Belichick may be shopping for a new quarterback
CBS Sports reported this week that the New England Patriots are reportedly shopping their 2021 first-round pick, quarterback Mack Jones. At the owners meetings last week, Bill Belichick reportedly suggested that there will be a quarterback competition between Jones and Bailey Zappe for the starting position.
10. Frozen Four doesn’t disappoint
Forget the Final Four . . . this weekend was all about the Frozen Four. The tournament sees the best teams in men’s college hockey meet in a single-elimination showdown. Already deemed an “instant classic,” yesterday’s men’s game was one for the books. For the first time in program history, Quinnipiac defeated Minnesota 3-2 in overtime to win the 2023 NCAA Division I men’s hockey national championship.
Sorry, Golden Gophers. Maybe next year.
Weekly Top sports news headlines and major events to know: April 9, 2023
That’s our take on the big sports news headlines and major events, and a preview of the week ahead, including what to know about basketball, baseball and more. Have a great week, dear reader. See you next Sunday.