Good morning, my friend! As always, your favorite newsletter writer is here to deliver the sports news straight to you as you start your day. Let it be noted that not only did Tom Fornelli take an unnecessary shot at my beloved Arsenal yesterday afternoon, he also screwed up your Pats-Jets pick. And he also said the game would make you "bored out of your mind." Wrong again, Tom! You fool!
We'll get to the AFC Least showdown on Monday Night Football here in a second, but we've also got some Masters preview material, a bit of unexpected MLB news and an exciting NBA update in store as well. We're gonna have to survive a pretty light schedule over the next couple of days before action tees off at Augusta and football gets busy again, but we always find plenty to chew on as we prepare for the day.
Let's get to it.
📰 What you need to know
It wasn't necessarily "good" football but last night's Patriots-Jets game ended up being miles more fun and entertaining than Sunday's primetime showdown between the Saints and Buccaneers. Who saw that coming?
The Tank Bowl turned out to be everything I thought it might be -- two bad teams doing their best to out-suck one another so that they could continue drawing hearts all over their Trevor Lawrence poster for the rest of the season. No joke: at points it legitimately felt like both teams were trying their best to lose last night.
Ultimately, though, the Patriots squeaked out a 30-27 win as the Jets proved they're better (and more experienced) at being painfully bad, especially in crunch time. Let's get some takeaways:
- Why the Patriots won: Despite trailing by 10 points in the fourth quarter, the Pats made just enough plays down the stretch... and the Jets let them. New England held the football for most of the second half and won the turnover battle. Damien Harris and Rex Burkhead ran hard and Jakobi Meyers had a career-best performance (12 catches for 159 yards). And last but not least, Nick Folk drilled the game-winning field goal from 51 yards out at the buzzer
- Why the Jets lost: Aside from the fact that they're the New York stinkin' Jets? Well, Joe Flacco throwing an inexplicable arm punt into double coverage while the Jets were up by seven points with less than six minutes to go in the fourth quarter... yeah, that didn't help.
Regardless of what the scoreboard read, I think it's fair to say that Jets fans are feeling better about last night's game than Patriots fans. At 0-9, New York's tank is very much on track and they're still primed to land the top overall pick in this year's draft, which could put Lawrence in green. Meanwhile, the Patriots move to 3-5, which essentially takes them off the board for Lawrence.
2. Nine golfers to watch at Augusta National 🏌
We're just a few days away from the start of the Masters and it promises to be a pretty unique experience at Augusta National this year. Not only has the pandemic pushed the event to the fall, but it'll be played without any raucous fans in attendance. We'll have shorter days and less atmosphere, but we'll still have the best golfers in the world pushing for the elusive and iconic green jacket... and isn't that what truly matters?
Last year, Tiger Woods stunned the golf world by rediscovering glory at Augusta National and it was incredible to watch. So who should we be rooting for this year? I'm glad you asked because our Kyle Porter has nine candidates that would move the needle. Let's check in on a few of them:
- Tiger Woods: Duh, right? Nobody in golf moves the needle quite like Tiger. The chances of him putting together back-to-back improbable runs at Augusta seem slim, especially given the rough year he's had, but stranger things have happened
- Rory McIlroy: This is another obvious one. The Masters has been Rory's white whale, as he's won basically all there is to win in golf with the exception of the green jacket. Maybe a quieter version of the Masters will finally bring him good luck
- Collin Morikawa: He's become one of golf's rising stars and he's incredible easy to root for, even if only for that wonderful smile. Plus, this is his first Masters and the last player to win the green jacket as a rookie was Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979
- Bryson DeChambeau: Come on... who doesn't love a little pure chaos?
While I'm certainly going to miss the crowds (and even the food/drink/merchandise coverage) , I am intrigued to see how different the experience will be this year. I'm very curious to see if the course plays drastically different in November and if a lack of daylight might wreak some havoc on the event. For those of us who have been waiting for this since April, it just feels good that it's almost here.
3. Tony La Russa arrested for DUI in February ⚾
If you were already confused by the Chicago White Sox hiring Tony La Russa earlier this offseason, join the club. But that hiring became a little bit more perplexing last night, when news broke that La Russa, 76, was charged with DUI a day before the team hired him.
- La Russa was arrested in February under suspicion of drunk driving after he drove his car into a curb. He had a BAC of 0.08 at the time of his arrest, which resulted in a misdemeanor charge
- Charges weren't officially filed until the day before La Russa accepted the Chicago managerial job. The team says they were aware of the incident but declined to comment further
- When reached by phone, La Russa reportedly told ESPN "I have nothing to say" before hanging up
- This is La Russa's second DUI; he pled guilty after a 2007 arrest in Florida
Somehow this weird hiring just only keeps getting weirder. The timeline looks something like this: ChiSox fire Rick Renteria, say they're going to hold an exhaustive search for his replacement and prefer to hire a manager who has won recently, then hire an old guy who hasn't managed in almost a decade and ...oh yeah... he's also in the middle of some legal trouble.
I'll go ahead and assume that this isn't going to help change anyone's mind that La Russa was hired because he's Jerry Reinsdorf's friend.
4. NBA, NBAPA set schedule for 2020-21 🏀
Last week the NBA and NBAPA came to an agreement to start next season before Christmas, and now it appears they've put the finishing touches on the schedule leading up to that December 22nd season opener. Both sides have agreed to an amended CBA and there are a couple big notes with this latest update:
- Free agency will begin November 20, two days after the 2020 Draft
- The salary cap will be $109.1 million and the luxury tax $132.6 million, both the same as last season
For your bookkeeping purposes, here's the updated schedule of important dates:
- Oct. 16-Nov. 16: Teams can begin to conduct in-person interviews with draft prospects
- Nov. 18: 2020 NBA Draft
- Nov. 20: Start of free agency
- Dec. 1: Start date to begin training camps for 2020-21 season
- Dec. 22: Opening night for 2020-21 season
It feels like last season just ended like a week ago but we're going to be moving very quickly into next season, starting with some big-time draft and free agency buzz as we approach those key dates next week. Speaking of the draft, it sounds like LaMelo Ball is going to go No. 1... even if he doesn't end up on the Timberwolves.
📝 Odds & Ends
- Here are the five biggest questions surrounding the MLB offseason
- Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo has tested positive for COVID-19
- Gonzaga is ranked No.1 in the preseason AP Top 25 college basketball poll
- LSU is currently battling a COVID-19 outbreak within its program ahead of this weekend's game against Alabama
- Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey may miss time after suffering a shoulder injury vs. the Chiefs
📺 What to watch tonight
🏈 Miami (OH) vs, Buffalo, 8 p.m. | BUF -9.5 | TV: ESPN
📝 Top scores from last night
Cam Newton threw for 274 yards and had two rushing touchdowns.
💵 Winning wagers: NYJ +9.5, Over (41.5)