Need to Know Sports: May 7, 2015

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I’m introducing a new thing this week. It’s called Need to Know Sports and its a daily email that answers the question, “What do I need to know about sports today?” Whether you’re someone who needs to know everything about sports to feel alive or someone who views sports as being strictly on a need to know basis, this is a good way to start your day.

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Here’s a preview of today’s edition.

Subject: Need to know sports: May 7, 2015

Dear Sports Fan,
What do I need to know about sports today?

Today’s Top Stories

DEFLATEGATE RETURNS: Remember that big bruh-ha-ha before the Super Bowl about how the New England Patriots may or may not have (but probably did) illegally deflate the footballs they were playing offense with in their AFC Championship game against the New England Colts? Well the official NFL investigation finally published their findings yesterday. After three months and 243 pages, the NFL’s conclusion is pretty much what we started out with. The Patriots, quarterback Tom Brady in particular, “more probably than not” broke the rules by intentionally deflating footballs. While some of the reaction to this release has been a condemnation of Brady and the Patriots as cheaters, even more of it has been making fun of the NFL for being the type of overly officious organization that needs a 243 page report created over three months to confirm the obvious. The next step will be the NFL deciding how to punish Brady and the team. That will generate another big offseason football story soon. If you want to read the whole report (and apparently there are some very funny txt message conversations in it) you can find its full text here.

Yesterday’s Games, Today’s Conversations

National Basketball Association – Things evened up in the NBA Playoffs last night. The Cleveland Cavaliers, who had lost Game One of their series against the Chicago Bulls, beat the Bulls 106-91 to even up the series 1-1. The Houston Rockets had the same scenario against the Los Angeles Clippers and came away with the same result, winning 115-109. This sends both series to the lower seeded home court for Games Three and Four with the series tied 1-1.

National Hockey League – The Montreal Canadiens 2-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning are now up 3-0 in the series and are only one win away from advancing. The Canadiens are one loss away from being swept. Hockey is the one sport where coming back in the playoffs from down 3-0 is actually somewhat common — maybe it happens once every two years — but it still seems like the Canadiens would need a miracle to stay alive. In the other Eastern Conference series, the Washington Capitals took a three games to one lead against the New York Rangers after beating them 2-1 in a game that featured a rare playoff fight.

MLB Baseball – It’s a mixed bag for the New York Yankees this year. They’re in first place, which most people did not expect to happen, but one of their important pitchers, C.C. Sabathia has yet to win a game. He’ll have to wait another week or so after pitching last night against the Toronto Blue Jays and taking the loss in a 5-1 game.

Champions League Soccer – The dream matchup between Barcelona and Bayern Munich lived up to expectations in some ways and not in others. It was an exciting game, full of incredible skill. Where it fell down was in creating a suspenseful second game between the two teams — after Barcelona scored three goals in the last 25 minutes of the game, to win the game 3-0, there seems to be almost no doubt about which team will advance to the finals this year.

Today’s Sports Forecast

NHL Hockey

Montreal Canadiens at Tampa Bay Lightning, 7 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network: There’s no rest for these teams who just played last night. It’s hard to tell who that will help. Will the Lightning, up 3-0, benefit from Montreal not having time to regroup? Or will the Canadiens use the strength desperation gives them to overcome a fatigued Lightning?

Chicago Blackhawks at Minnesota Wild, 9:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network: The Wild are also facing elimination tonight, down 3-0 to the Blackhawks. Losing in four straight games to the hated Blackhawks would be a sorry way for the Wild to end their year. I’m hoping they can pull out a victory tonight for their fans at home.

NBA Basketball

No playoff action tonight. Weird. The NBA does sneaky stuff with their playoff schedule to get their best games on during the weekend.

MLB Baseball

Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals, 1:45 p.m. ET on regional cable: Believe it or not, despite their being 11 games on the MLB schedule today, this is the only one between two winning teams. It’s a traditional rivalry too, although it’s hard to have a real rivalry when one team (the Cardinals) has a history of success and the other (the Cubs) hasn’t won a world series in over 100 years. Cubs fans had high hopes this Spring that this would be the team to break the streak of losing and it still could be, but not if the Cardinals, who have a league leading 20 wins, continue to play so well.

Verisimilitude (or How to Sound Like a Sports Native)

It’s hard to believe the story of Mike Burke who went from college football player to soldier to spy to hollywood consultant, back to spy, to the circus (really) to television before finally becoming the president of the New York Yankees. Read this editorial written by a Rutgers senior, Joe Rivera, who argues for the return of the college’s crew program to Varsity status. Barry Bonds became one of the biggest villains in sports by taking performance enhancing drugs and annoying teammates and journalists alike with his arrogance but this is actually a pretty nice post-career profile about his newfound passion of cycling and the support he gives to a women’s professional team.

Thanks for reading,
Ezra Fischer

Photo by Sponchia.

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