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Tennis

🎾Your Guide to the French Open

September 24, 2020
SOURCE: HYPEBEAST VIA. @SERENAWILLIAMS
SOURCE: HYPEBEAST VIA. @SERENAWILLIAMS

The GIST: The US Open ended a whopping 11 days ago and somehow it’s already time for another major tennis tournament: the French Open (aka Roland-Garros). Isn’t that lovely?

What’s the set-up?: The French Open is usually the second major of the year, held in May and June, during what’s known as clay court season thanks to a line-up of tennis tournaments held on European clay courts. This year’s tournament was obviously postponed, so it’ll be the last of three majors this year (reminder: Wimbledon was canceled).

  • Starting Sunday, the single-elimination tournament will be played over two weeks (though qualifiers have already started) with next-day schedules released daily, so you might want to bookmark this page.

Who’s in it?: A lot of familiar faces on the men’s side. After skipping the U.S. Open, the “King of Clay” Rafael Nadal is back to defend his title and is a v. strong contender for a record-setting 13th French Open trophy.

And the women?: On the flip side, defending champ and World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty has decided to opt out of this year’s tournament (she’s keeping herself busy with a new sport, apparently), along with 2020 U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka and 2019 U.S. Open champ Bianca Andreescu (who called off her whole season on Tuesday).

  • In the running are this year’s Italian Open winner and 2018 French Open champ Simona Halep, 2020 Australian Open champ Sofia Kenin and none other than the legend herself, Serena Williams, who’s still working on a record for the ages: 24 Grand Slam titles. Can you spell G-O-A-T?
🎾

Toronto Blue Jays Could Secure Wild Card Spot Tonight

September 24, 2020
TORONTO BLUE JAYS/TWITTER
TORONTO BLUE JAYS/TWITTER

The GIST: Things might be a little dicey in Canada right now (darn you to H-E-double-hockey-sticks, COVID-19) but at least we have sports to look forward to, eh?

Baseball: The Toronto Blue Jays are oh so close to clinching an unlikely spot in the MLB playoffs. The Jays have just four games left over the next four days to nab the playoff berth, and if they play like they did last night, they should be just fine.

  • They notched an incredible 14–1 win against the New York Yankees, and another win tonight to finish the series would help them solidify their Wild Card spot. Game starts at 6:30 p.m. ET.

Tennis: The Bianca news is no bueno, we’ll admit, but at least it leaves the spotlight open for a few other Canuck phenoms. After a recent resurgence, former World No. 5 Eugenie Bouchard will be looking to make it past the first round of the French Open for the first time since 2017, and 18-year-old Leylah Annie Fernandez is hoping to advance in just her third career Grand Slam.

🏀🏒🏈🎾

Podcast Episode 36: The GIST, but rapid fire

September 23, 2020
Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP
Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP

 Listen to this episode of The GIST of IT here.


 

Ellen: What is up GISTers? Welcome to The GIST of It, I'm Ellen Hyslop.

Steph: And I'm Steph Rotz.

Ellen: And we're just two old pals and we're two gals and we're here to give you the gist of what's going on in the sports world. Let's get right to it. Steph, it is so great to see you and your new pink hair again this week. How's your week going and how's the day going and how are you feeling?

Steph: I felt like I should be on @LeagueFits yesterday, walking to the grocery store, I had my WNBA sweater with my GIST cap and a Nebraska Cornhuskers jacket on. I was feeling sporty, feeling spicy.

Ellen: You are a sporty and a spicy gal. You can always count on Steph to be dressing for the occasion. Honestly, Steph since grade four. From the moment I met you in grade four, you have always been spicy. Back then, the spice was Emily Strange and now it's moved into the sporty realm as opposed to the Gothic kind of emo Emily Strange vibe that you were in maybe in grade four to grade six.

Steph: How are you, dearest Ellen?

Ellen: I'm doing well. Today is kind of a crazy day up here because we have the remnants of hurricane Teddy coming in. So it's been raining all day, kind of gross out. And in those days, I started the day off really strong, lighting some candles, making it cozy. But then halfway through the day, I just ate so much cheese. I just all of a sudden I was like, oh, my God, I just need to put some cheese literally to my dome right now. And that's all I've been doing all day, is just eating cheese. Finally managed to have a workout, had to put on Beyonce's lemonade to just at least get me inspired to move at all. But it's just one of those days where it's so gross and it's raining outside and so many things are going on. But I'm glad that we are here and chatting now about everything that's happening in sports.

Steph: There's always a lot going on in our lives somehow, even though it's a pandemic. And of course, there's still so much going on in the world of sports that we love so dearly. So today, mostly because we couldn't decide on one topic to talk about. We're going to try something new here and we're going to give our hot take on seven different sport topics. Going to keep it short, going to keep it sweet. Stay with us this episode. Let's start with the NHL as they're further along in their playoff journey, the Stanley Cup finals started over the weekend with the Dallas stars taking on the Tampa Bay Lightning in Edmonton. The best of seven game series is tied at one game apiece. And honestly, the part of the Stanley Cup finals so far that was the most fun was when Jimmy Kimmel chirped US Canadians at the virtual Emmys on Sunday night after Canadian TV show Schitt's Creek won nine Emmys. And he noted that a Canadian team hasn't won the Stanley Cup in our lifetime in 27 years.

Jimmy Kimmel:  Schitt's Creek won seven. Oh, they fell just short. This is a killer. If they'd won one more Emmy, they would have been able to trade them in for this. A Stanley Cup. But they didn't. So we're going to keep it here for another 27 years. Sorry, Canada.

Ellen: Jimmy Kimmel is such a troll. Honestly, kudos to him. I freakin love it. He knew how to just get at Canadians guts and hearts and be like, I don't care about your nine Emmys. You still haven't won a Stanley Cup in twenty seven years, which Steph, as you mention, is basically our lifetime being born in 92. We saw the Habs in 93. And like to be honest, I don't care if the Habs win a frickin Stanley Cup. So it's been a long time since there was someone in Canada who I cared about actually won a Stanley Cup. I have to say, Steph I'm upset at myself because I'm not that engaged in the Stanley Cup final as much as I thought that I would be. But the key thing that I am looking out for is whether or not Tampa Bay Lightning Captain Steven Stamkos is going to come back for game three or four. He's been out since the end of February with a core muscle injury. And he actually had surgery at the beginning of March. And as I was reading this, prepping for the podcast, I thought to myself, how amazing would it be to actually have core muscles to tear? I actually could not imagine having a core muscle that I could tear. Must be nice having an eight pack of abs or something like that.

Steph: Ok, moving along to basketball, the NBA is in their conference finals. In the east, the Miami Heat are up two games to one over the Boston Celtics. Game four is tonight, Wednesday night. Meanwhile, as of this recording, the L.A. Lakers are up two games to none over the Denver Nuggets. Have a quick Google to see where those series are at.

Ellen: Gotta love Google. What would we do without Google? I truly don't know. But in comparison to the Stanley Cup finals, which I said I haven't been that engaged in, and they've kind of been a little bit snoozy. The NBA has been the complete opposite. After losing the first two games of the series to Miami, the Boston Celtics had serious locker room drama and kind of this family type of blow up between each other. And then at the same time, the L.A. Lakers are shooting buzzer beaters and draining buzzer beaters while they're mouthing Kobe at the same time. It's just so different from the NHL. It is just so dramatic. And I'm having a lot of fun watching it. And I'm really, really hoping that the Denver Nuggets just do what the Denver Nuggets do and come back and force a Game seven, because it would just be so fun to see that series go to seven, especially with Canadian Jamal Murray playing so well.

Steph: Oh, I'm so with you there, Ellen with that hot take. It has been so much fun. It's also been super fun to see how NBA analysts and true icon Doris Burke has been absolutely thriving. These NBA playoffs becoming the first woman to call a conference in NBA finals. So freaking cool.

Ellen: She is absolutely the best person. And I do think that this is an important time for us to highlight some more things that have been going on in terms of men in the sports media industry calling out women, saying that they weren't doing the proper things on their NBA ballots, are voting for certain things and saying that women only got jobs because of their looks. I would like those men to step back for a moment. These women got their jobs because they're so talented at what they do. They're incredibly smart. They deserve every single thing. And for those men to be taking away things from sports journalists like Maria Taylor and Katie Nolan is just absolutely ridiculous. So we're going to link what's happened with Katie Nolan as well as Maria Taylor to the show notes so that anyone who's listening can understand a little bit more. But I'd just like to say, support women in the industry they're in the industry because they fucking deserve it and because they've worked hard.

Steph: Oh, my God, it's so hard to be a woman in the industry. Of course, they've worked hard too. That goes so unnoticed.

Ellen: Sticking on the basketball theme, the WNBA is in its semifinals, so we have the Connecticut Sun and the Las Vegas Aces through two games, whereas the Seattle Storm and Minnesota Lynx just started their series on Tuesday night after their game on Sunday was postponed due to inconclusive COVID-19 tests.

Steph: Yeah, kind of a weird situation. The inconclusive test results came from three Seattle players we learned today on Twitter those "players in question went through additional testing and did come back with negative test results." But going off of the most recent WNBA press release that came out on Tuesday, the day that we recorded this one player is still waiting to be cleared to play. So one of those three players is still not cleared. But, you know, shout out to the WNBA and shout out to the WNBA Commissioner Kathy Engelbart for taking on the executive decision to postpone that original game.

Ellen: Yeah, shoutout to Kathy, I think that she's done a great job so far in her role as commissioner. And speaking of the WNBA, I'm so surprised at how far the Connecticut Sun have gone. I didn't think that they'd make it this far. So I'm wondering, Steph, who makes it out of these final four? Who makes it to the finals for you?

Steph: Oh, my gosh. Last week I bet against the Connecticut Sun. And I'm not about to do that again because they are on fire. And I would love to see them take their next series against the Las Vegas Aces, which are the first seed. And they've got the league MVP on their team. But I'm still going for the Connecticut Sun in that matchup. How about you, Ellen?

Ellen: Yeah, I don't know. That matchup scares me. I think too with Connecticut. I just always trip up on how to spell Connecticut. So I never actually end up voting for them because I'm like, how do you spell this name? But no, I'm still sticking with the Seattle Storm. I just got a ride with them. They're my ride or die. Oh, they're going right through. I think they're going to win the finals. OK, now moving on to the MLB, the MLB aren't in the playoffs yet, but they will be soon. Their regular season ends on Sunday, which means that playoffs are going to be starting next week. And I must say that I am totally amped. There is truly nothing like postseason baseball, especially when October baseball comes around. There's just something so magical about it. And literally when I think about it, I actually get shivers. There's something that's just so cool about playoff baseball, where even if I didn't have time to watch a full game within the last couple of weeks, all of a sudden I'll sit down and literally watch every single game because I'm just obsessed with playoff baseball. It's so fun.

Steph: What I'm a little bit more excited about and honestly, just so happy after that Rocky COVID-19 regular season is that the MLB is going to be moving to that bubble format for the postseason. Now, they're not calling it a bubble. These are going to be called, "neutral sites." But the American League is playing in California while the National League will be playing in Texas. And there will actually be some fans at the World Series. And then the World Series, as a reminder, is the finals where the champion from American League plays the champion from the National League.

Ellen: How do you feel about those fans, Steph, you were a little bit hesitant there?

Steph: Oh, well, it's just not a priority. Like, we should just be thankful that baseball is even happening at all. Why are we putting people in the stadiums? But what do I know?

Ellen: There you go. Hot take. But, you know, Steph, I do think fans aside for the World Series, I do think that they made the right decision in pivoting and doing a Ross Geller pivot, they obviously made the wrong decision off the hop with all of the COVID cases that they had. And I'm glad that they're moving to these neutral sites because at least they've learned their lesson and they're acting on it. So we have to give kudos to MLB as well as the Players Association for doing that. Another thing, too, that I think is special with these playoffs is that it's formatted completely differently than what it normally is. So instead of the usual 10 teams that are in the mix, it's actually expanded to include six teams who will make the playoffs this year, which means knock on wood. The Toronto Blue Jays, against all odds, are going to make the playoffs this year, which is just so exciting. And I cannot wait. And I wish that there was baseball in Toronto. But what can you do? Anyway, that's the first thing. The second thing is that instead of the single elimination, sudden death wild card game that only occurs with the wild card teams, there's actually going to be a three game wildcard series that all teams are part of, which I think is really, really interesting, especially in a shortened season. You never know what's going to happen. And then it goes back to the regular: the division series is best of five and then the LCS, the League Championship Series and then the World Series are best of seven.

Steph: Ellen, when you're excited, I'm excited. And this weekend and this week, it's going to be very, very important for teams who are looking to clinch and for seeding. So be sure to tune into our newsletter at thegistsports.com for all of the MLB updates that you'll truly want this Monday.

Ellen: All right, so now that we've covered the playoffs in the big leagues, I really want to talk about the French Open. It's the second major tennis tournament of the year, and it was postponed from its regular May start date to now because of COVID-19, obviously, but similar to the other majors, this one is hitting a little bit different. So on the women's side, U.S. Open winner, this year's U.S. Open winner, Naomi Osaka, is out with a hamstring injury. So that's really too bad because she would have had a really great chance to go back to back and world number one Australian Ashleigh Barty and young gun, Canadian Bianca Andreescu are both out due to COVID-19 concerns, but also because they just feel like they aren't in match shape, given everything that's gone on with the pandemic. The good news, though, is that our girl, Serena Williams, is in it. She's still searching and hunting for that twenty fourth Grand Slam. And Simona Halep, who didn't want to travel over to North America to participate in the U.S. Open because of COVID-19 concerns. She is European, so she's saying, yep, I'm totally in the French Open and she just won the Italian Open. So it'll be so great to be able to see her at a major and hopefully Halep and Serena final, depending on what side of the bracket they're in.

Steph: We just really want Serena to win her 24th Grand Slam to tie Margaret Court so bad, especially because Court continues to be a vocal critic of LGBTQ plus rights so she can just go away. And so if Serena could tie her for that record, that would be fabulous. On the men's side, we're still without Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The French Open is a clay court tournament, which I swear I learned about with Mario Tennis back in the day. It's a very slippery surface. And we're going to miss Nadal, who has won 12 French Open titles, which is so wild. Unfortunately, my bet is going to be on Novak Djokovic to win this one. But I really hope I'm wrong.

Ellen: He is so slimy. He just rubs me the wrong way. I'm just so over the Joker. Ok, bringing things back to North America, Steph, let's talk the NFL, you know that I love talking NFL, so let's get to it. The first thing, though, that I have to say is that there are so many people in the media and I'm seeing so many articles being like, oh, my God, I'm so surprised what's happening in the first two weeks of the season. And I just kind of want to be like, chill, guys. It's been two weeks out of 16 regular season games. Of course, there's fucking surprises. They didn't have a preseason. Everyone is still sorting their shit out. People are figuring things out. And so to me, if someone is 2-0 or 0-2, it's a crapshoot and really doesn't make a difference. I feel like once we get into that fourth game, things are really going to start to settle down and to really show what the playoff picture is going to look like. So for anyone who's freaking out about their fantasy or their pick 'em pool with The GIST, don't worry, plenty of time to make that up. What I will say is that from week two, I'm very, very gutted about all of the injuries that we saw. So we saw New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, San Francisco 49ers defensive ends, Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas and Denver Bronco Courtland Sutton all go down with season ending ACL tears. And that is just such a tough injury to have. And it makes me so sad because you know how much all of these guys have worked so hard to get to the place where they're on top of their games. And it just makes me so sad.

Steph: That is really sad. I don't want anyone to get injured. And you know, what sucks is really sad, Ellen, having to tell a grown ass man to wear their masks on the sideline. The NFL fined three coaches, Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio and 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan with 100K fines each. And then their teams also got slapped with a 250K fine. Wear your mask.

Ellen: Yeah, if that fine does not tell those NFL coaches, but also people everywhere, the importance of masks, I don't know what does. I also think that Bill Belichick, the New England Patriots coach, should have probably been fined. I don't know if you saw his mask, but it looked like he was wearing a bird beak for a Halloween mask. He totally put his mask only on top of his nose, nothing on top of his mouth. It was completely useless.  He honestly just looked like Big Bird. He's hilarious. He just does whatever the hell he wants, but he needs some covering over his mouth.

Steph: It's not Halloween yet, son. Put it over your mouth.

Ellen: Ok, and last but not least, because we said we're going to cover seven different things going on in sports, we wanted to mention college sports, particularly football and basketball, coming out of the PAC 12 conference, which is one of the power five conferences down in the U.S. They're supposed to be coming up with their decision this week as to whether or not their return to play isn't after the fall, but actually during the fall. So doing a complete 180 on what they initially said with the PAC 12, though, they've been a little bit slow at making these decisions. So I feel like what I'm doing right now is really just an announcement for an announcement that's going to come. So look out for an announcement.

Ellen: Ok, so as mentioned last week, to close out our podcast, we're going to feature a WTF moment / story submitted by you, our GISTers. We got a lot of submissions. It was super exciting, but one that we really wanted to feature was submitted by Alexis from Philly. And this one was the most recent one for us. And it's coming at you straight from one of our favorite leagues, the NHL.

Steph: I actually think I mouthed WTF when I saw the NHL latest ad for the Stanley Cup finals. "There is a price to pay." It's an ad that blabs on about a minute and ten seconds of how true winners in the sport are willing to sacrifice their bodies for a win. The video reads as some masculinity, propaganda, garbage and two time Stanley Cup champion Daniel Carcillo. And he's generally an advocate, too, for improving hockey culture, responded to the NHL on Twitter asking for his name to be removed from the Stanley Cup twice over. This comes on the heels, two of TSN airing a documentary exposé to on Tuesday night on TSN saying the problem of pain and going into how playing through an injury, sacrificing your body and the other complications of being an NHL player are a little bit problematic.

Ellen: I cannot believe that they put out that ad. And for any Americans that are listening, TSN is our ESPN equivalent, ESPN has a stake in TSN. So basically the same thing. We have all the same sound brand, all of that sort of stuff. But for Danny to say, take my name off of the Stanley Cup, that guy worked freaking hard for that. If he's going to be saying take my name off the Stanley Cup, he's serious about how bad that NHL ad is. It's just in complete poor taste. I don't know what they were thinking.

Steph: Oh, and the NHL trolls are coming for him as well. So good for you, Danny.

Ellen: Go, Danny. We love that. And also, thank you so much, Alexis, for submitting your WTF moment. We would love to hear more WTF moments or happy moments if you have them, especially WTF moments from you guys, our GISTers it could be from anywhere in the pro sports world, the amateur sports world or even just a moment you've had in your own life your intramural soccer, your beer league hockey. Or maybe you're better at sports than us and you're actually still playing really high level sports and you want to give us a what the fuck moment about it. We want to hear it. So over the next week or so, email us at pod@thegistsports.com or DM us @thegistnews.ca or @thegistnewsusa on Instagram or Twitter. Give us your WTF moment and you might just be featured on our podcast next week.

Steph: All right sports pals. That was The GIST of It from Ellen and I. Thanks so much for tuning in. If you like us, if you like what you heard, help us get a word out, leave a review and give us those five stars. And you can also tell your friends to subscribe to The GIST of It on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play or Stitcher.

Ellen: Yes. And after you're done giving us those five stars and telling all of your friends about your new favorite podcast, you have to check out thegistsports.com and sign up for our free twice weekly newsletter, where every Monday and Thursday morning we give you the gist of what's going on in the sports world. Again, you could subscribe at thegistsports.com. Otherwise, as we already mentioned, we love to hear from you. You can get in touch with Steph and I at pod@thegistsports.com, over email. And again, you can DM us on Instagram @thegistnews.ca or @thegistnewsusa. Again, I'm Ellen Hyslop.

Steph: And I'm Steph Rotz.

Ellen: And this has been The GIST of It. Take care of yourselves and we'll talk to you next week. 

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This Week in Golf, Cycling, Tennis

September 21, 2020
SOURCE: JIMMIE48/WTA
SOURCE: JIMMIE48/WTA

Tennis: Mondays aren’t all bad. In a warm up to next week’s French Open (aka Roland-Garros) major, the Italian Open is giving us not one, but two rare Monday finals to look forward to. First up, the tournament’s top two seeds, Simona Halep and Karolína Plíšková, will face off in the women’s final at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Golf: Yesterday, Bryson DeChambeau won the U.S. Open (the second of three PGA majors this season) and in the end, it wasn’t even close. DeChambeau finished with a six-under-par score, six strokes ahead of runner-up Matthew Wolff, and was the only player to finish under par. Yeesh.

  • This was the first major win for the newly jacked and quirky golfer, who uses brain-training, advanced algebra and equal length clubs to perfect his game. He also wears an ivy cap, loves Fortnite and signs his autograph backwards with his non-dominant hand, so this is a true win for the nerds.

Cycling: There were quite a few changes to this year’s iconic Tour de France. First, it was postponed from its usual July start to late August. Then they did away with the “podium girls” (damn right!). And finally, in a race usually dominated by steroids, er, we mean experience, a very fresh face was crowned the winner.

  • Tadej Pogačar of Slovenia won the three-week race yesterday, just a day ahead of his 22nd birthday, making him the youngest winner since 1904 and the first rookie to win since 1983. Generation Z is making its mark.
🎾

Lee Wins ANA Inspiration; Osaka, Thiem win U.S. Open

September 14, 2020
SOURCE: GOLF CHANNEL VIA GETTY IMAGES
SOURCE: GOLF CHANNEL VIA GETTY IMAGES

The GIST: On top of all of the big league fun, two major tournaments in golf and tennis also finished up this weekend, giving us three new major winner winner chicken dinners.

Golf: The ANA Inspiration is our favorite major on the LPGA schedule, based solely on the fact that the winner has to jump into a pond after their round. This year, South Korea’s Mirim Lee continued the tradition, along with her belly-flopping caddie.

  • Lee came from behind to force a three-way playoff between her, American Nelly Korda and Canadian Brooke Henderson before ultimately winning with a 15 under par score.
  • Not only did Lee win a cool $465,000 (which is nowhere close to the men’s $15 million check from last week...ugh), she also took home the brand-new champions’ robe. Let’s be real, bathrobes are better than green jackets anyway.

Tennis: After two glorious weeks, the U.S. Open ended with two finals for the ages. On Saturday, Naomi Osaka earned her second U.S. Open and third career Grand Slam with a win over Victoria Azarenka. We loved watching Osaka win, but we loved watching her rally call for social justice even more.

  • On the men’s side, on-court rivals and off-court besties Dominic Thiem (pronounced TEEM) and Alexander Zverev (pronounced SVAIR-EV) took it to a full five sets in yesterday’s final. Thiem rallied from two sets down and intense muscle cramping to win the championship in a fifth set tiebreaker, marking his first-ever Grand Slam.