Hi everybody! It's Gabe once again running the newsletter on back-to-back mornings. Hope you had a restful Thursday night, and if not, at least the freakin' weekend is on its way.
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With the weather warming up in my neck of the woods, it got me thinking of summer plans. I moved to the neighborhood I live in smack dab in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, so most of my travel plans actually involve checking out the nearby scenery in terms of restaurants, night life and so on. It's nice because the most amount of planning will involve trying to find the time to fit in as many O's games as possible in the coming months. Got any fun sports plans for the summer? Let me know on Twitter.
Speaking of pseudo-travel, let's make our ways over to the highlights of sports news from last night. Here we go.
📰 What you need to know
1. Wizards demolish Pacers in final Eastern Conference play-in game 🏀
After Wednesday night's extravaganza between two of the greatest guys to ever play the sport of basketball, NBA fans wondered how the league would follow up such an unforgettable match up with the sole play-in game on Thursday. Long story short: it wasn't quite as competitive.
- The Wizards stomped the Pacers, 142-115 -- which ended Indiana's season
- Washington is now the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference
- The score line ended a lot closer than the game actually was. By halftime, the game looked over as a lost Pacers team tried to keep up with a Wizards squad that was emulating the Showtime Lakers of the 1980s in comparison to their opponents
Up next for Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal's team is the honor of taking on the Philadelphia 76ers -- the top seed in the conference. Unless you're a deluded Wizards fan (like myself), you're justifiably thinking this series will be a formality for one of the league's best teams.
But you can make the case that this series will still be interesting no matter how it ends because of one big thing: beef. That's right, for those who may not remember, Westbrook and Joel Embiid have a bit of a tense history together.
Thanks to famous basketball-knower and Twitter guy Rob Perez, there now exists a compilation of the, albeit brief, history of beef the two have towards one another. Whether this series ends in four games or seven, two players that dislike one another sharing a court is always a must-watch.
2. The best potential new homes for Julio Jones 🏈
Falcons fans, look away; everyone else, hello and welcome to the latest edition of Where Should This Prominent Athlete Go? On this episode, we look at Falcons veteran receiver Julio Jones. No. 11 has been one of the league's top receivers for quite a few seasons now, and rumors are swirling that Atlanta is looking to move on from his services as the team tries for a potential rebuild. Jones's age and salary numbers don't mesh well with
For an intelligent discussion on what teams the Pro Bowl receiver could land on, check out Jared Dubin's breakdown of seven top landing spots. For those who want to stick around, I'll be giving my hair-brained reasons for why Jones should go to some of the teams that Dubin mentions.
- Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers is on the verge of maybe quitting the sport he was born to play in favor of being a TV game show host. Want to keep him from cracking jokes at your franchise's expense on primetime programming? Trade for Julio
- New England Patriots: It's been a while since the league teams trembled whenever New England appeared on their schedule, and frankly, I'm bored of the NFL's Evil Empire being reduced to an annoying serfdom. What better way to bring back the fear than trading for a player who'd be the franchise's best wide receiver since Randy Moss? It'd also make the Brady-Belichick reunion this season that much more interesting. I'm looking forward to regretting writing these words when Mac Jones breaks the single-season touchdown record with Jones by his side
- Baltimore Ravens: Like any good journalist, I'm obligated to disclose that I'm a Ravens fan. So you'll forgive me when my analysis for this move is "YES OH GOD PLEASE YES." Seriously, I'll offer my first-born son to whatever deity I need to so that this trade can go through
3. College Football starts in 100 days 🏈
Summer is just over a month a way which means that it's time to look forward to fall sports. But since there's still 100 days -- or 99 by the time you're reading this -- until the start of the college football season, you've got plenty of time to read up on what's the come on Saturday's this upcoming fall.
With that free time you could do a variety of things. You could mow your lawn to look like your alma mater's football field, map out your tailgating plans for the season, or even practice your message board trash talk for when your favorite team takes on their arch rival.
In between all of that, you could take the time to read Chip Patterson's list of 100 things about college football to care about and keep an eye on.
There was plenty to choose from in terms of selecting a snippet to highlight here, but I figured the best approach would be to snag one of his bold predictions for the season, and place it right here to get the blood boiling for some of you this A.M. Enjoy!
- 6. Bijan Robinson will win the Heisman Trophy: "Maybe the Heisman electorate has also gotten tired of the quarterback run, and Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith's 2020 win was a turning point in the way voters think about contenders ... Robinson has the potential to match that (Smith's) profile with his explosiveness leading to highlight-worthy plays and the all-purpose nature of how he could be used in Texas' offense basically guarantees yards and touchdowns both on the ground and through the air. Steve Sarkisian thrived as a game-planner and play-caller by moving Smith around and getting him the ball in space with Alabama last year, and he can do the same with Robinson with similar end-of-year results."
4. The Twins vs. Yermin Mercedes saga ends in suspensions ⚾
I know, I know. I can't believe I'm still writing about this either, but there's some good news: it's finally over! Major League Baseball, unlike White Sox manager Tony La Russa, did, in fact, see something wrong with Tyler Duffey throwing behind White Sox rookie Yermin Mercedes in retaliation for the heinous crime of -- let me just check my notes here ... ah, yes --- hitting a home run in a blowout.
The Twins reliever was punished for his role in the retaliation and will serve a three-game suspension. On top of that, Minnesota's manager Rocco Baldelli, who decided to make himself look silly and argue with the umpires when they decided to throw Duffey out after the incident, will be suspended for one game.
So, to recap: La Russa now not only had the players on the team he's managing openly disagree with his take on this whole situation, he also now has a statement from the league that basically says the way he's thinking is not in line with how the game should be played. Seems like a less-than-ideal situation for a purported clubhouse leader to be in, but I'm not leading the AL Central standings, so what the hell do I know?
If you'd prefer the take of someone who's actually played the game on this whole thing, you should definitely check out CC Sabathia's incredible rant about La Russa.
📝 Odds & Ends
- Albert Pujols hit the first home run as a member of the Dodgers last night. It still didn't make the image of him in blue look any less weird
- Seven medical professionals have been charged with homicide in the death of soccer legend Diego Maradona
- The NBA doesn't take too kindly when you publicly allege conspiracy theories about certain teams succeeding, as Hawks coach Nate McMillan found out yesterday when he was find $25,000
📺 What to watch tonight
🏒 Bruins vs. Capitals, 6:30 p.m. | BOS -170 | TV: NBCSN
🏒 Predators vs. Hurricanes, 7:30 p.m. | NASH +130 | TV: USA
🏀 Warriors vs. Grizzlies, 9:00 p.m. | GSW -175 | TV: ESPN
🏒 Penguins vs. Islanders, 3 p.m. | O/U 5.5 | TV: NBC
⚾ Dodgers vs. Giants, 7:15 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV
🏀 Trail Blazers vs. Nuggets, 10:30 p.m. | DEN -1 | TV: ESPN
🏌 PGA Championship, 1 p.m. | TV: CBS
Best thing I saw on the internet 🏅
Montreal forward Paul Byron scored one of the craziest goals of this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs when he was able to get a short-handed goal past Montreal's Andrei Vasilevskiy while falling to his knees. Even better? That goal ended up being the difference in Montreal's win.