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The GIST's Quick Hits - US (May 6, 2021)

May 06, 2021
Source: Bleacher Report/Twitter
Source: Bleacher Report/Twitter

⚾️Baseball: The hurlers are proving the haters wrong. Following up LA Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani’s incredible dual-threat performances, Tuesday saw Atlanta pitcher Huascar Ynoa become the first pitcher to blast a grand slam since 2018. Go off.

  • And while some pitchers are getting hits, others aren’t allowing any. Baltimore Oriole John Means no hit the Seattle Mariners yesterday, marking this season’s third no-hitter that also just missed being a perfect game. Close, but no cigar.  

🏒Hockey: Here’s a doozy: On Monday, Washington Capitals right winger Tom Wilson who has a history of rough play and subsequent disciplinary action — acted severely outside traditional hockey violence boundaries and went after Rangers’ star Artemiy Panarin, injuring him. Wilson was only issued a slap on the wrist $5,000 fine. Um, WTF?

  • In response, the Rangers put out a statement calling for the firing of the NHL’s head of player safety on Tuesday. But on Wednesday, the Rangers made their own firing, abruptly cutting ties with their president and general manager. Didn’t see that coming.
  • The teams faced off again in their final meeting of the season last night, and unsurprisingly, things started with a line brawl. The first period alone ended with 20 penalties and Wilson leaving with an upper body injury. Saw that one coming. 

⚾️(Minor League) Baseball: Following last year’s COVID-19 cancellation, Minor League Baseball (MiLB) returned on Tuesday, 595 days after the last season ended. Highlights from Opening Day include Tampa Bay Rays prospect (and the No. 1 prospect in baseball) Wander Franco going 3-for-5 in his Triple-A debut, including an RBI triple. What a welcome.

⚽️Soccer Football: USMNT forward Christian Pulisic continues to shine across the pond. His sweet assist in yesterday’s Champions League semifinal helped lift Chelsea to a 2–0 win (3–2 on aggregate) over Real (pronounced REY-al) Madrid. Chelsea is the first club to send their women’s and men’s teams to a Champs League final in the same season. Bloody cool.

Thorns Host Gotham FC in NWSL Challenge Cup Final

May 06, 2021
Source: Portland Thorns FC
Source: Portland Thorns FC

The game: It all comes down to this. After four weeks of play, the Portland Thorns will host NJ/NY Gotham FC on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET in the second iteration of the Cup. And thanks to loosening COVID-19 restrictions in Oregon, the stadium will host around 3,800 fans, giving the Thorns an extra home-field advantage boost.

  • And for the non-live fans (present!), CBS will air the match in the U.S. and Twitch will stream it live internationally. 

The teams: Both enter the Cup final undefeated, but the Thorns are the stronger squad. In the group qualifying stage, they notched three wins and a draw (aka tie) to win the West division. On the other hand, Gotham FC won two and drew two on their way to the top of the East and haven’t scored since their second match.

  • Portland has the upper hand, especially with legendary players like Lindsey Horan and Christine Sinclair on the roster. But if Gotham striker Midge Purce, who’s already scored twice, can find the net again, they’ll have a good chance to stun the favorites. 

The off-field dynamics: In other NWSL news, 15-year-old Olivia Moultrie filed an antitrust lawsuit against the league to let her sign a contract. Moultrie, who turned pro at 13, trains with the Thorns, but NWSL rules state players cannot sign contracts until they’re 18 (a rule that doesn’t exist in MLS, BTW). Any chance they can get this sorted by game time Saturday?

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New York: If it weren’t messy, it wouldn’t be fun

May 06, 2021
Source: Adam Hunger/Reuters
Source: Adam Hunger/Reuters

🏀NBA:Despite the Knicks’ 97–113 loss to the Denver Nuggets last night, they’ve still won 12 of their last 14 games and have clinched at least a spot in the play-in tournament. And while that’s already huge, if the Knicks can stay within the top six, they’ll avoid the play-ins altogether. 

  • Over in Brooklyn, the Nets are headed in the opposite direction after three straight losses, including a pair to the Milwaukee Bucks — who are hot on the Nets’ tail for the East’s second seed. Spare us the stress, and secure that second seed.

⚾️MLB: After losing 4–1 to the St. Louis Cardinals, the Mets benched starting shortstop Franciso Lindor for their next game, which the Mets won 7–2. The high-profile Lindor hasn’t earned a hit in his last 24 at-bats (the fourth longest of any Met in a decade), which might be part of the reason why the Mets fired hitting coaches Chili Davis and Tom Slater on Monday. Interesting.

Over in the Bronx, the Yankees beat the Houston Astros 6–3 in the teams’ second matchup this week. Tuesday’s 7–3 pinstripe win came at the cost of a knee sprain for second baseman Rougned Odor. Womp.

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Philadelphia: They don’t like us, we don’t care

May 06, 2021
Source: Penn State WSOC/Twitter.com
Source: Penn State WSOC/Twitter.com

⚽️Union: The Union and Atlanta United drew 1–1 in the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals on Tuesday. Thankfully, the Union’s 3–0 victory in the first leg secured their semifinals spot. But Tuesday’s match didn’t come without some tension (this time, between coaches). Spicy.

  • The semifinals won’t take place until mid-August at the earliest, so for now, we’re just going to keep gloating, er, celebrating

🎓⚽️🏐Nittany Lions: In yesterday’s Round of Sixteen, the Penn State women’s soccer team took an early lead over the top-ranked Florida State Seminoles when Lions midfielder Frankie Tagliaferri scored off Sam Coffey’s beautiful assist. Unfortunately, the lead didn’t last long, and the Seminoles powered back to win 3–1. So much heart from these Lions.

  • In usual dominant fashion, PSU is one of only five schools to have both women’s and men’s teams in soccer’s Sweet 16 this year. The men’s team takes the pitch against the Georgetown Hoyas today at noon ET. We Are!
  • On the court, the blue and white men’s volleyball team fell 3–0 to the Lewis Flyers in the Elite 8 on Tuesday; the Lions’ struggling offense couldn’t keep up with the Flyers’ attacks. Sigh. 

A golf super league has been proposed

May 06, 2021
Source: Peter Morrison/AP Photo
Source: Peter Morrison/AP Photo

The idea: A golf super league to rival the PGA TOUR, initially called the Premier Golf League and now the Super Golf League (SGL), has been proposed. We know what you’re thinking: “Not this again?!” But, despite its poor timing just two weeks after soccer’s European Super League debacle, the SGL has been somewhat-well received

  • Word of the SGL has been floating around for at least a year, but with some solid financial backing from Saudi oil magnates, organizers are now ready to get it off the ground.

The set-up: The league has started reaching out to players to join, and only the best of the best are receiving invitations. Golfers like world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and No. 10 Brooks Koepka (pronounced KEP-ka) are being asked to play in the 18-event season starting September 2022 that would have them compete both as individuals and teams.

The payout: If it comes down to it, players will have to choose between the legacy of the PGA and the “money grab” of the SGL. And if they go for the latter, they’ll likely face a permanent ban from the PGA TOUR. 

And even though the PGA TOUR recently announced a $40-million Player Impact Fund for the game’s 10 biggest social media stars to split, the SGL could see each participant earn at least $30 million a year. Uh, where’s our invite?