Everyone have a wonderful Wednesday! I hope your week is going well so far.
Good morning to everyone but especially to…
THE TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
For the second day in a row, we have some major news to discuss before we go on to the rest of the day. The Broncos apparently agreed to a buy and sale agreement with Walmart heir Rob Walton late Friday night. Walton and his family are expected to pay $4.65 billion for the Broncos. That is the highest price ever paid for an American sports franchise.
You don’t win two straight Stanley Cups by accident. The Lightning showed their championship pedigree with a dominant 4-1 win last night over the Rangers to even the Eastern Conference Final at two games apiece.
Pat Maroon opened the scoring in the first period, and Nikita Kucherov doubled the lead in the second. Steven Stamkos made it 3-0 in the third before Artemi Panarin made it 3-1. Ondrej Palat scored an empty-netter late to finish things off.
Andrei Vasilevskiy made 33 saves on 34 shots.
After losing the first five meetings of this season between these teams (three regular-season games plus Games 1 and 2 of this series), the Lightning have won two straight.
Just three days ago, the Lightning were a period away from a 3-0 series hole. Now, they’re headed back to New York tied 2-2, and the quest for a three-peat is very much still alive.
As it turns out, losing a dozen games in a row isn’t great for your job security. The Angels fired manager Joe Maddon yesterday after a promising start to the season was derailed by a 12-game losing streak. That streak was extended to 13 games last night in their first game under interim manager Phil Nevin.
Maddon finishes this stint with the Angels with a 130-148 record and zero playoff appearances.
The Angels’ playoff chances surged as high as 81.4 percent in mid-May according to FanGraphs; currently they are around 30 percent.
Maddon is the second manager to be fired this season, joining former Phillies skipper Joe Girardi, who was fired on June 3. There are plenty of similarities between the two situations, notes our MLB expert Mike Axisa.
Axisa: “Similar to the Phillies and Girardi, the Angels gave Maddon a star-laden yet top heavy roster that was short on depth. Both teams have obvious roster construction issues, but, like Girardi, Maddon did not seem to do the best he could with the personnel available to him. His lineup and bullpen decisions left a lot to be desired, especially lately, during the 12-game losing streak.”
The Angels can only hope that there are similarities between how both teams respond, too. Philadelphia is 4-0 under interim manager Rob Thomson, including a sweep of — hey, look at that! — the Angels. Not so honorable mentions
Mike Trout finally broke out of his slump… and then left the game with an injury.
Astros reliever Héctor Neris got suspended four games.
Yesterday was a wild and impactful day for golf. Let’s catch you up: Dustin Johnson resigned from the PGA Tour in favor of LIV Golf. He joins Kevin Na, Louis Oosthuizen, Sergio Garcia, Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace with that decision.
The USGA announced that the LIV Golf commits can still play in the US Open.
LIV Golf then proceeded to make an absolute mockery of itself.
Tiger Woods, meanwhile, announced he will <em>not</em> play in the US Open, which begins next week.
We touched on Johnson’s decision a little bit in yesterday’s newsletter, so let’s talk about his new league: LIV Golf — the deep-pocketed, Saudi Arabia-backed league (here’s everything you need to know about it) — hosted press conferences and its player draft yesterday, ahead of its debut event in London.
It went… quite poorly. Talor Gooch said he wasn’t smart enough to understand sportswashing.
Graeme McDowell defended his decision to the join the league, in part, by saying “we are not politicians.”
A media member was cut off mid-question and removed from a press conference for not being “polite.”
The team logos and names, as golf expert Kyle Porter so eloquently put it, “both look as if they were conceived in an art contest for children of the league’s participants.”
Before its first event even started, LIV Golf made a fool of itself, and there are big questions to be answered, writes Porter.
On the other hand, it wasn’t all bad news for LIV Golf and its players. The US Golf Association said LIV Golf players who are qualified for this year’s US Open can indeed play in it. The PGA Tour has been adamant that players who go to LIV will face disciplinary action, but the PGA Tour doesn’t run the majors. That’s a win for LIV and a loss for the PGA Tour, noted our golf reporter Patrick McDonald. Porter: “LIV Golf has applied to receive OWGR points, through which its players could maintain statuses as top-50 or top-20 golfers in the world so they can continue to play their way into the majors. … If the folks running the OWGR don’t recognize LIV Golf as a legitimate tour — a monstrous, sport-shaping ‘if’ at this point — then LIV Golf will be propped up by D.J. and Lefty in the short term but will struggle to sustain itself in the long-term once those players cycle out of playing in the majors and eventually retire.”
Check the latest Sports news section for latest updates.