The Play by Play
We. Are. The. Champions
This week saw a handful of champions crowned. For starters, the Washington Capitals defeated the Las Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 on Thursday night to win the Stanley Cup, the first championship for the franchise and for its captain Alexander Ovechkin. A clearly emotional victory, Ovechkin has barely let the Cup out of his sight, as though it were his child, and TJ Oshie dedicated the victory to his father who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. Perhaps the team can thank Alexander’s ritual of eating chicken parmesan before each and every game. Having started as a team activity back when he first donned a Capitals’ jersey in 2005, it has since dwindled to just him. And his commitment to Mamma Lucia’s and to his team finally paid off.
Just one night later, the Golden State Warriors took home the Larry O’Brien trophy, sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers in four games to win the NBA Finals. They now have won three of the last four and two in a row, with Steve Kerr, the head coach, adding an eighth championship ring to his collection (he won five as a player for the Bulls and Spurs, and three as the Warriors coach). Kevin Durant was named the MVP of the playoffs for the second straight year, making him only the sixth player in history to win in consecutive seasons. With Steph Curry once again failing to get the votes, some question if that will affect his legacy as a league great.
What might draw even more attention is the fact that LeBron James played the last three games with a severely injured hand. Following the Cavaliers’ game 1 loss, James punched a whiteboard out of frustration, a move that resulted in a deep bone contusion. Even with the injury, LeBron managed to average over thirty points a game. It just wasn’t enough to stave off the Warriors. With the NBA season now officially over, fans are already thinking about next year, particularly where James, a free agent, will end up.
And last but not least, Justify won the Belmont Stakes. Leading from start to finish, eventually crossing 1 ¾ lengths ahead of the nearest horse, Justify became the thirteenth to win the Triple Crown and only the second to capture the title while remaining undefeated. Some controversy has erupted concerning the tactics of the jockey riding Restoring Hope, a horse also trained by Bob Baffert. Mike Repole, co-owner of two horses in the race, believes Restoring Hope was used to run interference, giving Justify a clearer path to victory. We’ll see what comes of the complaint.
The Faces and Facts
Featured Female – Simona Halep (Tennis): A Romanian tennis player who beat Sloane Stephens to win the French Open. After having lost all three of her Grand Slam finals appearances, including last year’s French Open, Halep finally claimed her first ever Grand Slam title.
Julian Edelman (Football): The latest athlete entangled in a performance enhancing drug controversy. The Patriots’ wide receiver, who missed the entire 2017 season due to an ACL injury, faces a four game suspension. This means the team may be forced to start the 2018 season without a crucial player. While Edelman apologized, he also claims he “doesn’t know what happened.”
Jose Torres (Baseball): A relief pitcher for the San Diego Padres suspended for the remainder of the season due to violating the MLB’s domestic abuse policy. Torres will not fight the decision despite pleading not guilty in court to the charge of assault with a deadly weapon.
Stephen Colbert (Baseball): The Late Show host turned national anthem singer. Along with actor Patrick Wilson, he sang an outstanding rendition of the Star Spangled Banner before the Mets game.
US Open (Golf): The second of the four major tournaments in the 2018 golf season. Tiger Woods is set to play with Dustin Johnson (the number one ranked golfer) and Justin Thomas for the opening round. Experts pick Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day to be among the top contenders for the 118th US Open Championship Trophy (the current cup replaced the original back in 1947). Tune in Thursday, June 14th – Sunday, June 17th to watch the players tackle the course at Shinnecock.
2018 FIFA World Cup (Soccer): The biggest soccer tournament on earth kicks off this Thursday, June 14th. Thirty two teams (sans Italy and the US), split into eight sections, battle for the next few weeks to determine the best team in the world. The tournament starts in the group rounds and promises many interesting matchups. Spain faces off against Portugal on June 15th (the last time these two met in a major tournament was in 2012 with Spain coming out on top). Argentina, with one of the best players of this generation, meets Iceland, playing in its first ever World Cup, on June 16th. And Brazil plays Switzerland on June 17, the former certainly looking for redemption following their elimination in last year’s World Cup, which they hosted. There are also a handful of younger players to keep an eye on, to watch how they perform on the world’s stage. For any and all information about the tournament, visit the FIFA website.
The Social Hour
Along with judging their play on the field, we can’t miss the opportunity to analyze the jerseys each of the 32 FIFA World Cup teams are set to wear. Nigeria claims the top spot with bold colors and designs while Tunisia finds itself dead last. Take a look and form your own opinion, maybe even buy one to don in support of your favorite team.