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🏒 A little bit more

February 20, 2020
A little bit more

Hockey: We love International Women’s Day. And this year, March 8th can’t come soon enough. Why? Because for the first time ever, an NHL game will be broadcast and produced by an all-female crew, including Team USA speed-demon Kendall Coyne Schofield serving as the “Inside the Glass” announcer.

  • This is a huge step in the right direction, but there are still rumblings online that this is a PR stunt. Is it? Maybe. But will it encourage more permanent female producers and broadcasters? You bet your bottom dollar.

NCAAWBB: No. 2 Baylor’s 77–62 victory over Texas Tech on Tuesday marked their 17th win in a row, but the victory helped head coach Kim Mulkey hit an even bigger milestone: Mulkey made Division I history by becoming the fastest coach, man or woman, to reach 600 wins! Mulkey has seven Big 12 Coach of the Year awards and has led Baylor to three national titles, 10 Big 12 titles and 19 March Madness tournaments over the past 20 seasons. What, like it’s hard?

NCAA Softball: Amidst all the baseball drama, we were remiss to mention that the women’s college softball St. Pete Clearwater Invitational 16-team tournament, which kicks off the season, ended on Sunday. To no one’s surprise, the defending national champs, UCLA, knocked off three Top 25 teams to improve to 11-0 on the season. Now that’s perfection! You can find the whole DI schedule here.

DAYTONA 500: Although NASCAR isn’t always in our repertoire, the Daytona 500 is a BFD. And during the final lap of Monday’s race (after it was delayed a day due to rain) top racer Ryan Newman was involved in a terrifying crash and admitted to hospital. Despite the horrible crash, Newman was released from the hospital after just two days (!!!) and was seen walking out with his two daughters. Wishing him a speedy recovery...but maybe less speed on the track for a little bit!

🏒 Jill of all trades

February 20, 2020
Jill of all trades

The GIST: The NHL is getting in on trading — and we don’t mean Pokémon cards. The trade deadline is Monday at 3 p.m. ET.

Remind me what the trade deadline is: It’s the last time in a season that teams are able to trade eligible players. That said, to make things complicated, teams can still make trades after the deadline, but those players are NOT eligible to play for their new team for the rest of the season or in the playoffs, so most teams don’t bother.

And what’s the point of the trade deadline?: Basically it’s to keep the competitive balance among teams by ensuring they’re locked and loaded before the playoffs start in April. So up until 3 p.m. ET on Monday, expect some trade activity as playoff-contending teams try to add some top talent for their playoff push.

Cool. Who’s been moved so far?: The blockbuster trade of the season happened back in December, when the New Jersey Devils shipped their superstar forward, Taylor Hall, to the Arizona Coyotes in a five-player deal. And although there’s been a lot of movement, no real “big fish” have been traded yet. Looks like teams are waiting to catch trade ’em all.

So who might be next?: Rumor has it (sing that to the tune of Adele) the biggest star on the trading block is New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider. The Rangers might extend his contract to keep him in the Big Apple for a few more years, but since the Rangers are in rebuild mode and Kreider is a free agent after this season anyway, we wouldn’t be surprised if the Rangers were desperate enough to make a last-minute move.

It’s (not) handled

February 20, 2020
It’s (not) handled

The GIST: The MLB’s sign-stealing scandal looked like it was over, but now there are more plot twists than Betty and Jughead’s cases on Riverdale.

Quick, remind me how this started: In January, the Houston Astros were found guilty of illegal sign-stealing — using technology to decipher signals from the opposing team’s catcher, pitcher and coaches to predict the next pitch — during their 2017 championship-winning season. The MLB fined Houston $5 million (which, although it is the largest allowable fine in baseball, it seems like chump change to us), gave one-year bans to the now-fired manager and general manager and revoked a few important draft picks.

Got it. Then what?: Last week, an exposé revealed that the scheme began with one of the MLB’s most famous and now-retired players, Carlos Beltrán — the so-called “Godfather” of sign-stealing — when he joined the Astros in 2017. We also learned that the Astros’ executives not only knew about the sign-stealing, but also had an intern (c’mon guys) create an Excel spreadsheet called “Codebreaker” (double c’mon guys) to help keep track of everything.

Woah. So, what’s the latest?: League commissioner Rob Manfred has, of course, come under intense scrutiny for how he chose to handle (or not handle) the crisis. Manfred didn’t penalize any players involved, didn’t revoke Houston’s 2017 World Series title and didn’t take away second baseman José Altuve’s 2017 American League (AL) MVP Award.

  • On top of all that, things got worse on Monday when Manfred referred to the World Series trophy as “a piece of metal”...yeah that actually happened.

Jeez. What are people saying about this mess?: You better believe that athletes (even those in other sports) and fans are not happy about it. And, boy, have people let Manfred know how they feel.

  • Even the usually soft-spoken New York Yankee outfielder Aaron Judge made it known that he felt “sick to his stomach” about the Astros’ actions and specifically Altuve, who narrowly edged him out for the AL MVP Award that year. NBA star LeBron James also sounded off, taking to Twitter to express his disgust. Yeah, you and us both.

What’s The GIST’s take?: Like a lot of people, we feel cheated. It’s not just scandals that create trust issues with baseball, it’s also the messy, and arguably unfair, way they’re handled that ruins the integrity of the sport — a sport that’s been so widely loved for more than a century. If this off-season is any indication of what this regular season will be like, hang on to your hats, because it will definitely be a rollercoaster.

🏀 Hey now

February 13, 2020
Hey now

The GIST: It’s NBA All-Star Weekend, baby! Cue Smash Mouth.

What’s the NBA All-Star Weekend all about?: Every February, the NBA takes a break to showcase the league’s biggest stars in a skills competition on Saturday and main event game on Sunday. The All-Star Weekend doesn’t really mean anything, it’s just a for fun event in the middle of the season before the big postseason push.

  • But unlike other men’s professional leagues, these festivities are a BFD and a lot of fun to watch.

Cool! How is it set up?: This year’s All-Star Weekend is being hosted in Chicago for the first time in 32 years. The weekend kicks off on Friday with the celebrity game — featuring a mixture of stars, including perfect 10 and viral gymnast sensation Katelyn Ohashi — and a next generation game called “Rising Stars.”

Tell me about the dunk contest: Keep your eye on a couple of dunkers who are coming for the 2020 crown with a vengeance: LA Laker and 2008’s champion Dwight “Superman” Howard wants to reclaim his throne, while Orlando Magic’s Aaron Gordon wants redemption after being robbed losing despite a stunning performance in 2016.

And on Sunday?: It’s time for the game. The teams are captained by the top fan-voted stars from each conference: Laker LeBron James in the West and Milwaukee Buck Giannis Antetokounmpo (pronounced YONNIS ANDEDO-KOONPO) in the East. In a good ol’ fashioned schoolyard pick (sorry if this brings up bad memories), LeBron and Giannis each drafted their own squads who will battle it out for bragging rights and local charities.

Anything else?: This weekend will largely be a tribute to the late 18-time All-Star Kobe Bryant who, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others, died in a tragic helicopter accident in January. In honor of Kobe and Gianna, No. 24 (one of Kobe’s numbers) will be worn by Team Giannis while Team LeBron will wear No. 2 in honor of GiGi. Every player will also wear a patch with nine stars in memory of all the victims.

Best of the rest

February 13, 2020
Best of the rest

WNBA: We’re only three days into the WNBA’s (super undercovered) official free agency period and we already have a blockbuster move: former Dallas Wings superstar Skylar Diggins-Smith is heading to the Phoenix Mercury to link up with fellow heavy hitters Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner, essentially creating the WNBA’s first “Big Three” (it’s giving us real early 2010s Miami Heat vibes).

  • Thanks to the newly signed CBA, teams have more cap space (aka total amount of money they’re allowed to spend) and therefore can offer more enticing max contracts to the elite players. For example, the reigning champ Washington Mystics just extended their star Elena Delle Donne. Just a casual reminder of how opportunities for women can make a huge difference!

NHL: It was a scary scene in Anaheim on Tuesday night when St. Louis Blues defenceman Jay Bouwmeester suffered a cardiac episode while on the bench during a game against the Ducks. Bouwmeester’s teammates noticed him collapse and called for the team’s training and medical staff.

  • Thanks to the staff’s quick action and an on-site defibrillator, the 17-year NHL veteran was stabilized and is said to be doing well in hospital. Let this be a lesson to us all: get CPR certified!

Gymnastics: A basketball analyst is in big trouble (and rightfully so) after making an inappropriate comment on-air. Barry Booker, who commentates on the SEC Network, said he’d like to spend Valentine’s Day watching “scantily clad women,” in reference to the gymnasts participating in this weekend’s NCAA tournament.

  • Booker immediately — and we repeat, rightfully so — faced online backlash, with one former gymnast calling him out for sexualizing a sport that has already been the unwilling face of sexual abuse. Booker has since apologized, but he’s now facing an internal investigation. It’s 2020 and there’s absolutely no room for sh!t like this.

NFL: Yesterday the NFL announced that Cleveland Browns pass rusher Myles Garrett will be reinstated from his indefinite suspension — the “indefinite” only lasting six games — for smacking Pittsburgh Steeler Mason Rudolph in the head with his own helmet during a game in November. The NFL’s not exactly known for sticking to harsh punishments, so despite the controversial response, we’re not surprised about this one.