April 25th, 2019

The GIST’s Quote of the Week

“You want me to talk about the curse or you guys good?”
- Drake being extra sassy to the media after he showed up to cheer on the Toronto Raptors to a Game 5 series win over the Orlando Magic. Curse? What curse.

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Here’s Vladdy!  

The GIST: The day that every Toronto Blue Jays fan has been waiting for is finally here! The No. 1 prospect in baseball, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., will make his much anticipated MLB debut in tomorrow’s game against the Oakland Athletics.
 
Back up. Who’s Vladdy?: 20-year-old Vladdy Jr. is a Canadian-Dominican (born in Montreal!) third-baseman. You might recognize him as the son of Hall-of-Famer and former Montreal Expo, Vladdy Guerrero Sr. Vladdy Jr.’s been playing in the Blue Jays farm systemsince 2015 so that he could fully develop as a player before making it to the bigs.

  • And, although he could, and arguably should, have played for the Jays last year, the Jays declined to bring him up because of “service time” so that they could keep him on contract for an extra year (it’s complicated). He also had an injured oblique earlier this season.

Why was he the No. 1 prospect?:He’s far and away been the best player in the minor leagues. He has incredible game sense, is a raw talent, plays pretty good defence at third base, and can hit the ball like nobody’s business. Get ready for some home runs.

This is a BIG DEAL:Let’s face it. The Jays are not good this season. They’re currently 11-14 and are having a reallytough time filling their stadium. But with an entertaining, young talent like Vlad joining the squad, the Jays have all of a sudden gone from “meh” to MUST-SEE TV!

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There's Always Next Year

The GIST: The wacky first round of the NHL playoffs have wrapped up. Much to our chagrin, no Canadian teams remain, and, much to our surprise, no division champions remain.
 
That’s right: The Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets and Toronto Maple Leafs were all eliminated in the first round. Canada has now gone 26 years (!!!) without bringing a Stanley Cup north of the wall border. Sad.

  • We’re most surprised about the Calgary Flames. They were the best team in the West this season and were beaten by the Colorado Avalanche—who just snuck into the playoffs as the second wild card team—in five games. Crazy.
     

  • Meanwhile, we’re most shook about the Leafs. Yet again, the Leafs were knocked out by the Boston Bruins in Game 7. It’s a gut-wrenching deja vu for the Leafs, who also lost Game 7s to Boston last year and in 2013.
     

  • This year though, in addition to defenceman Jake Gardiner’s Game 7 struggles, and Nazem Kadri’s suspension, coach Mike Babcock is taking the heat. In this do-or-die game, the Leafs’ best players didn’t get enough ice time, and fans took notice. FYI, Babs still has four years left on his coaching contract. Strap in Leafs fans.

But…: Just because the Canadian teams are out doesn’t mean there aren’t any teams to cheer for. Some Canadians to keep a close eye on are the Avalanche’s sniper Nathan McKinnon, St. Louis Blues goalie Jordan Binnington and Columbus Blue Jacket forward (and Ottawa Senators alum) Matt Duchene.
 
Just nutty: The wildest finishes in this Round 1? San Jose’s epic Game 7 comeback win over the Vegas Golden Knights thanks to a referee’s botched call (watch the highlights here), and the Carolina Hurricanes Game 7 double overtime 4-3 win over the reigning champions, the Washington Capitals, last night.
 
What’s next?: Click here to check out all of the Round 2 matchups, puck drops tonight.

  • Note: Who would have thought that all four wild-card teams would beat the division champions in the first round, including the best regular season team and the reigning Stanley Cup champions. It just goes to show that truly ANYTHING can happen in the playoffs.

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In West Philadelphia Born and Raised

The GIST: The Toronto Raptors made easy work of the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night, winning 115-96 in Game 5 to advance to the second round.
 
What’s next for the Raps?: The dinos now have to get through the Philadelphia 76ers led by Joel Embiid (pronounced JOE-ELLE EM-BEED), Ben Simmons (who, by the way, is Kendall Jenner’s boyfriend) and Jimmy Butler (yes, that drama queen king).
 
So who’s going to win?: The Raptors finished second in the Eastern Conference while the 76ers finished third. So, it’s going to be close. Nonetheless, the Raptors are favoured going into this one and with home-court advantage, it will be their series to lose.

  • Fun fact: Kawhi Leonard has never, ever lost a game to Philly. He’s 13-0 dating back to his time with the San Antonio Spurs. Move over Will, Kawhi’s the real Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

More on the NBA: In easily the most ridiculous game finish of Round 1 so far, the Portland Trailblazers ended Oklahoma City Thunder’s season with this must-see buzzer beater from Damian ‘The Dame’ Lillard (which gave him an absurd 50 points on the night). The shot. The swagger. The family reaction. Wow. Just wow.

What’s next?: The NBA is making quick work of the first round of the playoffs. See who’s in and who’s out here.

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That New New

The GIST: Canada is getting its very own men’s professional soccer league and the inaugural season kicks off on Saturday.
 
Why now?: The league is called the Canadian Premier League (CPL) and it will feature seven different teams from coast to coast. Rumour has it that Canada had to create a professional league in order to co-host the FIFA World Cup in 2026. And, although the MLS has three teams in Canada, it’s still an American league.

  • So, the CPL will aim to fill that soccer void, give a place for Soccer Canada to develop players AND create a league for youngsters to get their start before making the leap to the next tier.

Who are the teams?: Calgary FC (Foothills Country, AB), FC Edmonton, Forge FC (Hamilton, ON), HFX Wanderers FC (Halifax, NS), Pacific FC (Langford, BC), Valour FC (Winnipeg, MB) and York9 FC (Toronto, ON).
 
How’s it organized?: The league is using a split season format. Teams will play 10 games in the spring season from April 27 to July 1 then take a v short break until the fall season from July 6 to October 19 for another 18 matches. Buckle in for a great season of soccer!

Everything Else

“What do you have on draft?”: The NFL draft (where teams select top talent mostly from U.S. colleges to play on their teams in the future) is going down at 8 p.m. ET. Here’s #thegist of it:

  • The Arizona Cardinals will draft first and are expected to pick quarterback (QB) Kyler Murray, who famously bailed on an MLB contract with the Oakland A’s (yes, he’s good enough to play two pro sports) to try his luck, and to get more money, in the NFL.

  • The San Francisco 49ers have the second pick and, despite his hefty baggage, are expected to choose defensive linemen Nick Bosa.

  • Bosa has stirred up controversy for posting—and then deleting—tweets about political and racial subjects. The tweets range from dissing Beyonce (WTF) and supporting Donald Trump to calling former 49er QB Colin Kaepernick (the guy who started #TakeAKnee to protest police brutality and racial injustice and hasn’t played an NFL game since because of speaking out for what he believes in) a “clown”. Like, c’mon.

In other news that will make your skin crawl: The Sacramento Kings’ head coach Luke Walton has been accused of sexually assaulting Kelli Tennant, a former sports TV host, sometime before he was named the LA Lakers head coach in April 2016. In response, Walton’s attorney has called the allegations “baseless.”
 
Where my girls at?: We missed you on Easter Monday, so here’s #thegist of how women got sh!t done over Easter weekend: Canadian golfer Brooke Henderson made her-story at the ripe age of 21 years old, our Canadian women’s rugby sevens team brought home goldfrom the HSBC Rugby Sevens Series in Japan and now sit second overall (!!!) in the series, and the WNBA and CBS agreed to a massive multi-year deal to air 40 games in primetime and on weekends next season—a huge milestone in women’s basketball.
 
Getting local: In OHL action, our Ottawa 67’s are on an absolute tear. Last night they swept the Oshawa Generals marking their twelfth-straight (!!!) playoff game win. The boys are now off to the Final for the first time since 2005. You can get your tickets to watch them live here. #NoQuit

What’s Up This Week

Tonight: Round 2 of the NHL playoffs starts tonight with the Boston Bruins hosting the Columbus Blue Jackets (friendly reminder they beat Tampa Bay, the best regular season team in Round 1) at 7 p.m. ET while the St. Louis Blues host the Dallas Stars at 9:30 p.m. ET.
 
Saturday: The CPL’s inaugural match kicks off at 1 p.m. ET (watch here) as Hamilton’s Forge FC plays host to Toronto’s York9 FC. Then, the Raptors kick off Round 2 against Philly. Game time is TBD, so keep an eye out.
 
Sunday: The Ottawa Fury are hosting the Atlanta United 2 at 2 p.m. ET.
 
All Weekend: The Toronto Blue Jays are hosting the Oakland Athletics on Friday at 7:07 p.m. ET, Saturday at 3:07 p.m. ET and Sunday at 1:07 p.m. ET. (Psstt, if you’re like us and are curious about why the games start on the 07, have a read here.)

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Sign me up!