The Play by Play
Hoops Have Returned
Remember when there were just three sports to track? We’ll sure wish for the good ol’ days now that basketball has started, bringing our tally to four active professional sports. While baseball is winding down, for the next few weeks we will truly test our knowledge limits, packing multiple sports into each post. A quick snapshot of the NBA: The season consists of eighty two games, half at home and half on the road. There are thirty teams in the league and all but one are based in the United States, with the Raptors just across the border in Toronto. Even though 80+ games remain, experts are already predicting which team will win it all and which players will win the awards. While there is some debate about the order, the same six teams seem to appear on every list. Charles Barkley, former all-star and now TNT commentator, said it best in a New York Times article, “The toughest thing for me is I have to get on TV and fake it for seven months that it’s not going to be the Warriors and Cavs in the finals again. Yes, it is.” Needless to say, it looks like this season is shaping up to look awfully similar to last’s. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be just as exciting!
The 2017-2018 season opened with the Cavaliers and Celtics battling it out, highlighting the somewhat recent Kyrie Irving – Isaiah Thomas trade. Unfortunately, just a handful of minutes into the game, and into the regular season, Celtics star Gordon Hayward left the court on a stretcher, having suffered a gruesome ankle injury. Players and fans alike looked on in shock, while others in the NBA took to Twitter to express condolences. A truly tragic start to the season for one of the league’s best. And if that wasn’t enough drama, Kyrie Irving, whose return to Cleveland last night was met with boos from the crowd, ended the game by missing a game-tying 3 point shot. Apparently the move he mastered while playing for the Cavs needs a bit more work on the Celtics…
Walking off into History
Sunday night, Justin Turner walked into the Dodgers’ history books with his 9th inning walk-off home run. A 1-1 score going into the bottom of the ninth inning, most of the game revolved around the pitching, with only seven hits allowed, total. And then, with one out remaining and a seasoned closer on the mound, Turner entered the batter’s box. While his impressive playoff beard and flowing red locks might have immediately grabbed your attention, he was, in fact, the last person the Cubs wanted at the plate, as one of the Dodgers best hitters. He certainly did not disappoint, launching a three-run homer into the stands, propelling the Dodgers to a 4-1 victory and a 2-0 lead in the series. If that wasn’t remarkable enough, 29 years ago, to the day, was the last time the Dodgers won a postseason game on a walk-off home run. On October 15th, 1988, during the World Series, Kirk Gibson blasted a home run that brought the LA Dodgers a Game 1 win. A hit that our very own Justin Turner vividly remembers watching, at the age of 3, as an avid Dodgers fan. Baseball, for a one-time fan and now player, comes full circle. Having also played Tuesday night, the series is now 3-0 in favor of the Dodgers.
The Faces and Facts
Yasiel Puig (Baseball): While Justin Turner grabbed headlines for the home run, his teammate Yasiel did so due to his on-the-field antics. The Dodgers right fielder, having ended last season in the minor leagues, does not appear to be wasting a moment of this opportunity or the spotlight. During Game 1 against the Cubs, Puig slid into third base, accenting his crucial triple with an animated tongue wag, a move not often, if ever, seen in the MLB, but that gained him instant notoriety. Keeping the media on the tip of its toes, wondering what he’d do next, Yasiel then licked his bat between pitches in Game 2. I guess it didn’t taste as sweet as the victory did.
Keith Hupp (Baseball): The man who caught Turner’s home run. Almost immediately following the one-handed snag, Hupp was ushered into a private hallway, and soon face to face with Justin Turner himself. Clearly an important ball to both men, after some negotiating, the terms of which are still unknown, Hupp presented Justin with his home run ball. A relatively smooth exchange of hardware, which isn’t always the case after a historic play occurs. Remember that one time first baseman Doug Mientkeiwicz kept the game winning ball in the Red Sox 2004 World Series victory (their first WS win in 86 years)? He received death threats and never really lived it down. Consider the lesson learned.
Al Michaels (Football): An announcer who always works Sunday Night Football, alongside Cris Collinsworth. During the Broncos v Giants game, Michaels made what he thought was a joke comparing the Giants week to that of Harvey Weinstein’s. Except that it wasn’t funny and social media took note. While Michaels later apologized during the broadcast, people are left wondering why these well-known sports celebrities keep making light of issues that are anything but. Think back to Cam’s comments to the reporter…
The Midweek Rundown
The Basketball Court: Having covered the basics of the hockey rink last week, it seemed only fitting to do the same for basketball.
Baseline and Sidelines: Mark the boundaries of the court. If you step out of bounds while holding the ball or your team is the last to touch the ball before it crosses one of these lines, the other team gets possession.
Free Throw Lane: Usually referred to as the paint or the lane because it is a different color than the rest of the court. The most common rule regarding the lane is called three seconds. An offensive player cannot be in the lane for more than three seconds and (in the NBA) a defensive player in the lane must be guarding a player within that same amount of time. This means teammates are constantly moving in and out of the paint.
Free Throw line: Sometimes a player is fouled while he or she is shooting the ball. If that is the case, the player gets to take between one and three shots from the free throw line, depending on whether or not the initial basket was made and/or from where the player took the shot. The rest of the players line up along the outside of the free throw lane, unable to defend. They actually can’t move, even to rebound, until the ball hits the rim.
Three point line: When a player’s entire body is behind this line (toes included) while shooting, the basket is three points. Any shot taken inside the arc is worth only two.
Midcourt Line: Separates a team’s offensive (front court) and defensive (back court) zones. Once the ball crosses into the offensive zone/front court, it can’t cross back into the defensive zone unless first touched by someone from the other team.
Houston Astros and New York Yankees Game 5: The series is now tied at two games a piece, with the Astros having lost both at Yankee Stadium. Momentum is certainly in New York’s favor. While it is now a best of seven (a team has to win 4 to move on), every game matters. Tune in Wednesday, October 18th at 5:08 pm to see who gets one win closer to the World Series.
Chicago Cubs and LA Dodgers Game 4: It’s win or go home for the Chicago Cubs, who find themselves down 0-3. However, this is anything but new territory for the Cubs, having come back from a 0-3 deficit against the Cleveland Indians last year to win the World Series (for the first time in 108 years). If there’s a team to pull this off, it’s certainly the Cubs although the Dodgers are hoping to close it out in 4. First pitch is Wednesday, October 18th at 9:01 ET.
New York Knicks v. Oklahoma City Thunder: While the Knicks have had lackluster seasons in years past, this game requires special attention because it involves Carmelo Anthony’s former (Knicks) and present (Thunder) teams facing off. With or without his hoodie, Melo is bound to put up big numbers, if for no other reason than to preserve his ego. Tip off is at 8pm ET on Thursday the 19th.
The BONUS Social Hour
Even athletes tap into sports-related Halloween costumes and teammates Russell Westbrook and Nick Collison nailed it. White Men Can’t Jump is 1992 classic, starring Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend. Even the girlfriends got in on the costume action. Well played.