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Seattle: Storm Lose First Road Game of 2021 WNBA Season

June 28, 2021
Source: WNBA/Twitter
Source: WNBA/Twitter

🏀Storm: The Storm lost their first road game of the season yesterday, falling 95–92 to the Las Vegas Aces in a hard-fought overtime battle. This matchup between the league’s top two teams featured 11 (!!!) Olympians, but it was the Aces’ first-time Olympian, Chelsea Gray, who delivered the dagger. Boo.

⚾️Mariners: Despite a foreign substance-related ejection, the Mariners beat the Chicago White Sox in the first game of yesterday’s weather-induced doubleheader. Two home runs from center fielder Taylor Trammell and a cheeky bat flip? King.

  • The M’s didn’t fare so well in the second match, falling 7–5, but the three-game series win was already theirs. Sea us rise.

⚽️Soccer: The Sounders are hot, but OL Reign are not. In a rivalry matchup with the Vancouver Whitecaps, Seattle maintained their undefeated season with a 2–2 draw, thanks to midfielder Jimmy Medranda’s equalizer. As for the Reign...the less said about their 3–0 loss to NJ/NY Gotham FC, the better. 

🏒Stanley Cup Finals Preview

June 28, 2021
SOURCE: NHL/GIPHY
SOURCE: NHL/GIPHY

QUOTE OF THE DAY

One of the great rules of hockey is: On the Stanley Cup, all germs are healthy.

New York Times sports columnist George Vecsey (pre-COVID-19, obviously).

🏒 The Stanley Cup Final

SOURCE: NHL.COM

And then there were two. Sixteen of 31 (soon-to-be 32) teams emerged from the shortened but jam-packed regular season to compete in the NHL postseason six weeks ago, and now only two remain in the annual battle for the Stanley Cup: the Montreal Canadiens and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Having first been awarded in 1893, the Stanley Cup is the oldest league championship in North America and is also the most storied. It’s been used as a baptismal font, found at the bottom of a swimming pool, left on the side of a road and traveled the world.

  • The only championship trophy with its own full time “keeper,” the Cup includes the names of every man and woman who have helped a team win it. And sometime in the next two weeks, a new cast of characters will join the Cup’s engraved history.

🏙🌆 A tale of two cities

SOURCE: FRANK GUNN/CANADIAN PRESS

The year was 1993. Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” was on the radio, Jurassic Parkwas in theaters, Justin Bieber hadn’t been born yet and the Montreal Canadiens were Stanley Cup champions.

  • That win — a Game 5 victory over the Los Angeles Kings — was the Canadiens’ 24th championship and marks the last time a Canadian team won the Cup. The country that gave the world the Stanley Cup is itching for it to return home.

The year was 2020. No one was listening to the radio (because Spotify), nothing was in theaters (because pandemic), Justin Bieber was married and the Tampa Bay Lightning were Stanley Cup champs.

  • The team’s second championship (the first came in 2004) was won in a pandemic-forced bubble in Edmonton, without live fans and the comforts of home. A repeat win would give the reigning champs the fanfare they mostlymissed out on in 2020.

🇨🇦 The underdogs

SOURCE: RYAN REMIORZ/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The journey: The Habs aren’t supposed to be here. After squeaking into fourth place in the North Division and ending the regular season on a five-game losing skid, they were supposed tolose in the first round to their biggest rivals and the North’s top team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Instead, they won the series in Game 7.

  • They were supposed to lose to the Winnipeg Jets in the second round, after the Jets swept the Edmonton Oilers and the dream duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. But, the Habs swept the Jets.
  • And in the conference finals, they were supposed to lose to the Vegas Golden Knights, a favorite to win the Cup before the season even started. The Habs won the series 4-2, setting up the underdogs for their first Stanley Cup Final appearance in almost 30 years.

Difference maker: Yes, hockey is a team sport, but a lot of the Habs’ success can be attributed to one guy: goalie Carey Price. Often the best player on the ice, the future Hall-of-Famer has an unreal postseason save percentage, superhuman reflexes and the coolness of a cucumber.

Impact player: The lack of a legitimate superstar means that the Canadiens’ front line players share the glory, but there is one future superstar: Cole Caufield. The rookie has made a name for himself thanks to defining plays like his overtime goal against the Maple Leafs.

Leader of the pack: Captain Shea Weber leads the Habs stoically from the blue line, and that strong defense has been one of the team’s keys to success during this postseason run. The Habs’ D has shut down scoring stars like Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and Mark Stone, largely due to Weber’s influence.

⚡️ The favorites

SOURCE: JASON FRANSON/CANADIAN PRESS

The journey: The Tampa Bay Lightning finished the regular season third in the super tight Central Division, setting them up for an intrastate round one against the Florida Panthers. The Bolts took the series 4-2, before completing a “gentleman’s sweep” of the Carolina Hurricanes in round two.

  • Tampa's last series against the plucky New York Islanders was their toughest (and probably the most similar matchup to what they’ll face in Montreal). The Bolts won the series in seven games, including a 8–0 Game 5 win.

Difference maker: If anyone can give Carey Price a run for his money, it’s Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. He’s the best in the league, winning the Vezina Trophy (awarded to the season’s best goalie) in 2019 and has led ’tendy wins for three straight seasons.

Impact player: Brayden Point lives up to his name. He had a nine-game scoring streak over the last two series and has a knack for finding goals when needed (hence his “Mr. Clutch” nickname in the locker room).

Leader of the pack: Captain Steven Stamkos was one of those once-in-a-generation talents when he was drafted first overall in 2008. And although he’s struggled with injuries over the last few years, a second Cup would cement his place in the history books alongside peers like Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. No pressure.

🏆 The series

SOURCE: SEAN DOUGHERTY/USA TODAY SPORTS

As much as we’d like to predict a winner,the Canadiens have taught us to expect the unexpected. We think this series will feature the best goaltending of all time, we assume the Lightning will light up the scoreboard, we hopethe Canadiens can restore the faith of a nation in its national pastime. But we’re not putting money on it just yet. First, let’s watch some hockey.

  • Both teams are on Eastern Standard Time, so the first six games of the series are all set for 8 p.m. ET (Game 7, if necessary, is a 7 p.m. ET start). Tune into Game 1 tonight on NBCSN in the U.S. and Sportsnet in Canada. We’re on the air!

🏀Dallas: Mavs Make Controversial Move with New Coach Jason Kidd

June 28, 2021
Source: Elias Valverde II/The Dallas Morning News
Source: Elias Valverde II/The Dallas Morning News

🏀Mavericks: On Friday, reports emerged that the Mavs had hired former Dallas star Jason Kidd as the franchise’s 10th HC. Kidd played 19 seasons in the NBA and was a key player during the Mavs’ 2011 championship run. He also has a disturbing history, including an arrest in 2001 for domestic abuse.

  • With their own troubled history of toxicity in the workplace, the head coaching vacancy presented an opportunity for the Mavs to make a much-needed change. Mark Cuban tearfully apologized in 2018, but proved he learned nothing by hiring Kidd. 
  • On the court, Kidd’s playing skills certainly didn’t transfer to his coaching abilities. He has a head coaching record under .500 and lasted just one season with the Brooklyn Nets. There’s no way to spin it: this is a terrible hire.

🏀Wings: We want to end on a high note, so we’ll turn to the WNBA. Thanks to Arike Ogunbowale’s (pronounced ah-REE-kay oh-goon-boh-WAH-lay) 30-point performance, the Wings defeated the Washington Mystics 85–74 on Saturday. Next up, the squad will go for their third straight win against the Chicago Sky on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT. Ready for takeoff. 

🏅🏆

Boston: Red Sox Sweep Yankees for 2nd Time this Season

June 28, 2021
Source: Steven Senne/AP Photo
Source: Steven Senne/AP Photo

⚾️Red Sox: Rafael Devers went three-for-four and blasted his 19th home run of the year yesterday, helping the Sox to a 9–2 win and a series sweep over the NY Yankees. It’s the second time Boston has swept the Yankees this season. Some rivalry, huh?

  • The Sox now face the Kansas City Royals tonight at 7:10 p.m. ET, but while you wait, you can vote for Boston’s four All-Star finalists beginning today at noon. 

👟Track & Field: Massachusetts will be well-represented on the international stage in Tokyo. As we mentioned, Harvard grad Gabby Thomas qualified for her first-ever Olympics with a blazing fast finish in the 200m.

  • She’ll be joined by Peabody-native, UMass Amherst alum and Dunkin’ lover Heather MacLean, who finished third in the 1,500m, and former UMass Boston star Wadeline Jonathas, who qualified in the 400m. Wicked proud.

🎾Wimbledon Preview

June 27, 2021
SOURCE: WIMBLEDON/GIPHY
SOURCE: WIMBLEDON/GIPHY

QUOTE OF THE DAY

My dad said, 'Pick a tournament that you want to win more than any other tournament,' and I chose Wimbledon.

— Seven-time Grand Slam singles champion Venus Williams, on the importance of her five Wimbledon titles, which on multiple occasions came at the expense of her sister Serena. We love a Sister Slam.

📗 The history

SOURCE: HULTON ARCHIVE

The Championships, Wimbledon, also known simply as The Championships, date back to 1877, making it the oldest tennis tournament in the world and arguably the most prestigious.

Originally played only by male amateurs, the tournament invited women to play singles in 1884, the same year the men’s doubles event was introduced; however, the tournament wasn’t open to professionals until 1968.

✔️ The details

SOURCE: TENNISMAJORS.COM

Until last year, the Championships had only been canceled twice before in its 144-year history — once from 1915 to 1918 due to World War I and again from 1940 to 1945 during World War II. COVID-19 caused the third cancellation to occur in 2020, but the summer event is back in full swing this year.

Over the next two weeks, 128 of tennis’ best and brightest will compete in the men’s and women’s singles throughout six elimination rounds. Then, all eyes will be on Centre Court for the July 10th and 11th singles finals, with a full capacity crowd no less.

  • As for the doubles competitions, men's, women's and mixed pairs begin mid-week with the last rounds set for the final weekend.

A prize pot of £35 million (about $48.7 million USD) is up for grabs and we can once again expect an equal shake out of rewards to both the men’s and women’s singles winners: each will receive a cool £1.7 million (about $2.36 million USD). Cha-ching.

🎾 The surface

SOURCE: WIMBLEDON

Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam tennis eventplayed on grass, and like clay, pros either excel or fall victim to the unique terrain.

  • The grass is precious to the club, so precious that Serena Williams was fined a whopping $10,000 (!!!) in 2019 for damaging the court during practice. You can expect to hear, “Keep off the grass!” more than once throughout the contest.
  • The lawn received a facelift of sorts in 2001, changing its makeup from 70% rye and 30% creeping red fescue to 100% perennial rye (whatever that means). The update also brought oodles of controversy.

But not all of the stadium’s focus is on the ground. In 2009, organizers were looking up when they installed a retractable roof over Centre Court in preparation for those rainy English days. But this change was met with, you guessed it...more controversy.

Another element unique to the Wimbledon experience is the advertising, or lack thereof. Compared to other Grand Slams, the club sells a marginal number of advertising spots around the court.

  • They work with a few chosen partners, like Rolex, IBM and Slazenger, to supply the clocks, statistics and balls. And there’s no commitment issues here. Slazenger, for one, has partnered with Wimbledon since 1902. Talk about loyalty.

🍓 Traditions

SOURCE: THE JAKARTA POST

If you haven’t already noticed, The Championships have a very strict dress code for participants, complete with a list of rules dedicated specifically to clothing and equipment.

  • White will be the new black in England for the next two weeks. It has been the staple color since the inaugural tournament. And white means white, all the way down to the inside of your cap.
  • The original reasoning behind the color choice was due, in part, to the supposed cooling effects, but it also allowed athletes to sweat discreetly on hot summer days since signs of sweat were deemed “improper.” Uh, we’re talking about sports here, right?
  • While we can’t deny the dress code is part of the fun of watching, many players have challenged it. If they don’t abide by the rules? They may be asked to change and even disqualified.

While avoiding the tournament’s fashion police,spectators can pig out elegantly nibble on another Wimbledon tradition, strawberries and cream.

  • This sweet treat has become such a tournament staple it’s estimated that 10,000 liters (about 2,642 gallons) of cream and 28,000 kilograms (about 61,729 pounds) of strawberries are consumed on average each year.
  • The price at Wimbledon for strawberries and cream has remained the same since 2010: £2.50 a pop (about $3.48 USD). Spectators are allowed to bring their own bottle of wine or champagne or two cans of beer to cut down on costs. Classy frugality.

Speaking of class, it’s not Wimbledon without a member of the Royal Family making an appearance. While the Queen has only attended four times, with her last time in the Royal Box coming back in 2010, her grandsons and their partners have been known to enjoy the tournament more frequently.

  • This year’s Championships might be too much of a trip for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle though, with the recent birth of their daughter and, well, the family drama.

✨ Memorable moments

SOURCE: WIMBLEDON

Now that we know what not to wear, what to eat and who we might see, it’s on to the action. Wimbledon has supplied some of the greatest moments in tennis history so before we witness what this year’s tournament has in store, let’s take a short walk down memory lane, shall we?

Fire and Ice: In one of, if not the greatest matches in tennis history, rivals (and polar opposites) Björn “Ice-Borg” Borg of Sweden and U.S. hothead John McEnroe met in the men’s singles finals at the 1980 edition of The Championships.

  • It was there that the two found themselves in a fourth set tiebreaker and 20 minutes of back-and-forth point scoring ensued. Borg ultimately claimed his fifth Wimbledon title that day and the crowd certainly got their money’s worth.

Sister, Sister: As competitors, the aforementioned Willams sisters have produced nail-biting finals matches. As partners, the two have an undefeated doubles record at Wimbledon. In 2008, Serena already had two Wimbledon wins against her sister but that year, Venus was the superior grass-court player.

  • When the two met in the finals, Venus secured a calm victory over her sister with an impressive 7–5, 6–4 performance. Whether they’re competing against or with one another, these two have always rooted for each other.

Nadal-Federer showdown: Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have battled on numerous occasions, but their 2019 semifinals Wimbledon match was certainly a stand-out clash. It was their first time meeting at The Championships since the epic 2008 final, and the two were firing on all cylinders in front of an energetic crowd.

  • It was Federer though, who claimed a 7–6(3), 1–6, 6–3, 6–4 win and advanced to the final where he suffered a tough loss to Novak Djokovic (pronounced JOCK-uh-vitch).

💪 Women to watch

SOURCE: CARL RECINE/REUTERS

World No. 8 Serena Williams: All eyes will be on the GOAT as the seven-time singles champ goes after her record-tying 24th Grand Slam title once again. Williams was knocked out of the fourth round of the French Open, but we’re hoping she’ll come back swinging on the lawn in London.

World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty: After suffering an injury during the second round of the French Open, Barty enters the Championships as the No. 1 seed (again) and the Australian competitor will certainly have a target on her back.

World No. 23 Coco Gauff: In 2019, Gauff became the youngest player in the Open era to earn a main draw Wimbledon berth by coming through Qualifying. She’s coming off a tough quarterfinal elimination at the French Open this year, but the 17-year-old has proven that while she may still be learning, she’s also winning.

World No. 112 Venus Williams: While she didn’t quite make the ranking cut-off for The Championships this year, just days after her 41st birthday, Venus was offered a wild card invitation to compete and make her 23rd Wimbledon appearance. This is her favorite Slam, so expect her to bring it.

👊 Men to watch

SOURCE: TENNISHEAD.COM

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic: "Nole" will be back on the grass to defend his singles title. After his French Open victory earlier this month, Djokovic became just the third man in Open era history to win each Grand Slam title at least twice. With a Wimbledon win this year, he’d also tie Federer and Nadal with 20 Grand Slam singles titles overall.

  • If he does come out on top, Djokovic could become the first male player to complete the “Golden Slam” –– winning all four majors and a gold medal at the Olympic Games in the same calendar year. Sheesh.

World No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas (pronounced see-see-PAS): Djokovic’s fellow finalist at the French Open is ready to compete again on the grass court. While the Greek competitor hasn’t had the best results at Wimbledon in the past, he’ll be looking to change his luck in this year’s edition.

World No. 8 Roger Federer: With eight Wimbledon singles titles under his belt, Federer enters the tournament as the former World No. 1, but the grass court vet may be out for blood with a chance to meet Djokovic in the final once again.

World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev: Medvedev was knocked out in the third round of The Championships in both 2018 and 2019 and will be looking to avenge that early exit this year. The Russian seed said that Federer is likely going to be his toughest opponent due to his style of play on the lawn.

😢 Who will be missed?

SOURCE: BBC

World No. 2 Naomi Osaka isn't making the trip to England, as she announced she will use the time to prepare for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

  • Osaka’s history at Wimbledon is rocky. After suffering a loss to Yulia Putintseva in 2019, Osaka had a particularly rough time during the post-match press conference. If she needs a break to focus on her mental health, we certainly support it.
  • After tearing a muscle in May’s Italian Open, world No. 3 Simona Halep also withdrew from the tournament, leaving the field pretty wide open.

On the men’s side, the aforementioned Nadal won’t be seen on the grass this year, either. Citing injury, the Spanish star pulled out of Wimbledon and the Olympic Games next month.

  • World No. 5 Dominic Thiem, who had already pulled out of the Olympics, also announced his Wimbledon withdrawal after a suffering a wrist injury during a warm-up tournament last week.

🎥 How to tune in

SOURCE: WIMBLEDON

Catch all the white hot action beginning tomorrow on ESPN and The Tennis Channel in the U.S. and TSN in Canada. No TV? No problem. Follow along with live updates here.