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Nobody likes us, and we don’t care

November 10, 2020
SOURCE: PHILADELPHIA UNION/TWITTER.COM
SOURCE: PHILADELPHIA UNION/TWITTER.COM

The GIST: With the country’s eyes on Philadelphia this week, it was amazing to see how impactful Philly athletes, including Gritty, were in encouraging civic engagement. But with the election mostly behind us and the Eagles on a bye, let’s dive into the Union’s best-in-the-league regular season performance.

Show me some hardware: Yesterday, the Union beat the New England Revolution 2–0 to close out the regular season. Forwards Sérgio Santos and Cory Burke each found the back of the net by being at the right place at the right time. With this win, Philly achieved a 14-5-4 (wins, draws, losses) record, securing the Supporters’ Shield.

  • The Shield is the first trophy the Union have won in their 10-year history, and the club owes much of this success to Sporting Director Ernst Tanner. He was brought on in 2018 and, since then, has successfully revamped the Union’s roster and their mentality.

For all the marbles: The top-ranked Union now have 10 days to rest and prepare for the Audi 2020 MLS Cup while the lower-ranked qualifying teams in the Eastern Conference compete in play-in games on November 20th. The Union will face the lower-seeded team of the two play-in winners in Round One, and thanks to that No. 1 ranking, the Union will host all of their games throughout the tournament.

  • While we wait for playoff soccer to start, sit back, relax, and hope goalkeeper Andre Blake will return in time for the playoffs. Let’s go!
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Road to Upcoming NHL, NBA Seasons

November 05, 2020
SOURCE: DOUGLAS P. DEFELICE/GETTY IMAGES
SOURCE: DOUGLAS P. DEFELICE/GETTY IMAGES

The GIST: Much like the road to 270 electoral votes, the journey to the new NBA and NHL seasons is all over the place.

How so?: Let’s start with the NBA. Originally, they wanted to wait to begin the season until fans could attend games (imagine!), then they teased us with a Christmas Day tipoff, and last week they floated an MLK Day start date. Now it looks like they’re back to December. Just as Taylor predicted.

  • The NBA’s players association will formally vote on the December 22nd start date as soon as today, and if the date is approved (which it’s expected to be), then the league will target a 72-game season. If it’s not approved and no games are played in December, the league could lose up to $1 billion.

And the NHL?: They’ve flip-flopped, too. Initially aiming for December 1st, it looks like a January 1st start date is the new goal — though the annual New Year's Day Winter Classic game has already been canceled. The season will have 48 games at a minimum, but it could go the full 82.

  • The issue for the NHL’s return to play is spectators. In comparison to the NBA, the NHL relies more on ticket revenue, so playing in empty arenas would be financially infeasible for most teams. Some team owners have even suggested calling off the season to save money, but NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has shut that down. Phewf.
  • Bettman has said, though, that the season doesn’t have to end the same way it started. That’s to say, if the season starts without fans, it could move to a bubble or have full capacity crowds by the end of it — it all depends on the state of COVID-19 in North America. Just like literally everything else.
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Hope For DC Sports

November 05, 2020
SOURCE: MARK J. REBILAS/USA TODAY SPORTS
SOURCE: MARK J. REBILAS/USA TODAY SPORTS

The GIST: The Washington Football Team (WFT) is looking to come out of bye week swinging and the United are trying to squeak into playoffs. It’s not how you start, but how you finish, right?

🏈Refreshed and rejuvenated: The WFT returns from bye week on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET in a rematch against their NFC East counterpart: the NY Giants. Despite an action-less Tuesday trade deadline, the team did shake things up a bit by naming wide receiver Terry McLaurin a team captain yesterday (who wouldn’t, with a speech like that).

  • The Giants squeaked out a 20–19 win over the WFT in October, so you better believe QB Kyle Allen is looking to avoid turnovers like this one this time around. Meanwhile, the defense hopes to slow down Giants’ QB Daniel Jones after his team gave the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a surprising run for their money on Monday. The Burgundy and Gold allowed the Giants their only win this season...let’s not make it two.

⚽️Waiting ’til the last minute: After languishing at the bottom of the table for much of the season, the United amazingly rattled off three straight (!!!) wins before dropping a high-scoring affair to the New England Revolution last Sunday. With their late-season push, they could make the playoffs with a bit (okay a lot) of help. Wild.

  • Sunday’s 3:30 p.m. ET match against the Montreal Impact is a must-win. The rest is up to the soccer goddesses.
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This Week in Chicago Sports

November 05, 2020
SOURCE: RYAN MEYER / TNNDN
SOURCE: RYAN MEYER / TNNDN

The GIST: This week has been a wild ride, and while we’ve been stuffing our faces with our favorite comfort food, our teams have been doing big things and prepping for big games.

⚾️The rookie and the vet: You probably missed it (because there were much more important things going on…), but the MLB announced the winners of the Gold Glove Awards on Tuesday night. Seriously, guys? The award honors the top defender at each position in each league, and this year the Cubs led in finalists with seven while the White Sox had five.

  • White Sox rookie center fielder Luis Robert won a glove, while Cubs shortstop Javier Báez earned his first (!!!) and first baseman Anthony Rizzo took home his third straight. Whaddya say?

🏈Living on a prayer: Our 5-3 Bears face the 5-2 Tennessee Titans on Sunday, and it’s going to be a battle for this win as both teams need it after back-to-back losses. The Titans have struggled to keep opponents off the scoreboard, while the Bears’ most consistent (and potentially only) strength is their defense.

  • We know the Monsters of the Midway can hold ’em, but the question will be whether or not QB Nick Foles and the offense can score enough to keep winning ugly.

🏈College rundown: The ACC’s biggest game of the year is on Saturday, but the ACC’s biggest star won’t be there. The No. 1 Clemson Tigers’ QB, Trevor Lawrence, will remain sidelined following his COVID-19 diagnosis as his team takes on the No. 4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The Irish will attempt to prove that they’ve returned to the college football elite, while the Tigers will try to hold on to the top spot despite injuries and absences.

  • Not a fan of the Irish? Catch the Northwestern Wildcats as they take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers at 12 p.m. ET/11 a.m. CT or the U of I Illini vs. the Minnesota Gophers at 3:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. CT.

🏈Coronavirus Still Messing With NFL Schedule

November 05, 2020
SOURCE: SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS/TWITTER
SOURCE: SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS/TWITTER

The GIST: Get ready for Thursday Night Football as the San Francisco 49ers play host to the Green Bay Packers...or not?

Why not?: Because COVID-19, of course. Niners wide receiver Kendrick Bourne tested positive for the virus yesterday morning, leading to a shutdown of the team’s facilities. Talk about bad timing. Packers running back AJ Dillon also tested positive earlier this week, and three other Niners were added to the COVID-19 reserve list last night.

  • There’s still a solid chance they’ll play tonight (kickoff is set for 8:20 p.m. ET), in which case we highly recommend you make your GIST NFL pick ’em pool picks ASAP as possible. But if any other tests come back positive today, this game could be in jeopardy.

Is anyone else affected?: There were some other cases this week, including Denver Broncos legend and current president John Elway. Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey “got the Rona,” leading to seven “high-risk close contact” teammates also being placed on the COVID-19 reserve list. And Detroit Lions quarterback (QB) Matthew Stafford is on the list, too.

  • The rising case count (in the NFL, and well, everywhere) doesn’t seem to be stopping teams from practicing, playing or letting fans into stadiums for games, though. The Dallas Cowboys could have around 25,000 fans cheering them on in an old-school rivalry matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday (guess we’re just ignoring that Texas is a hotspot?).
  • That said, letting fans in isn’t all bad. Many stadiums were used as polling locations in the presidential election, and Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes even split the six-figure cost with his team to ensure Arrowhead Stadium would double as a voting site. The real MVP.