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Dodgers and Rays to Face Off in World Series

October 20, 2020
SOURCE: TAMPA BAY RAYS/TWITTER
SOURCE: TAMPA BAY RAYS/TWITTER

The GIST: The World Series matchup is officially set! Both league championship series took all seven games and a whole lot of drama to be decided, building to a star-studded Fall Classic between the Tampa Bay Rays and the LA Dodgers.

Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays gave everyone something to celebrate by defeating the Houston Asterisks Astros with a nail-biting Game 7 victory on Saturday. With the win, the Rays punched their ticket to the World Series for the second time in franchise history and are now just four wins away from their first-ever title.

  • A key player to watch is rookie outfielder Randy Arozarena, who has seven (!!!) postseason home runs, a rookie record. On the defensive side, keep an eye on starting pitcher Charlie Morton. Morton boasts an incredible 0.57 earned run average (ERA) this postseason. Domination station.

LA Dodgers: The Dodgers defied the odds, coming back from a 3-1 series deficit to force Game 7 and win an epic 4–3 duel with the Atlanta Braves, thanks to outfielder Cody Bellinger’s clutch go-ahead home run. Entering the season as the favorites to win it all, the Dodgers now look to avenge their World Series losses in 2017 and 2018 and claim their seventh franchise title.

  • This stacked team features a laundry list of talent, including shortstop Corey Seager, who has six home runs and a team-leading 15 RBIs this postseason. For pitching, the Dodgers will lean on starting pitcher Walker Buehler and his 29 strikeouts through four postseason starts.

Who’s going to win it all?: This World Series matchup is sure to be one for the history books, with the winningest teams from each league squaring off. Riding their come-from-behind NLCS energy, we expect the star-powered Dodgers to keep that momentum rolling against the Rays and ultimately live up to their preseason favorite status.

  • First pitch of Game 1 is set for 8:09 p.m. ET tomorrow. Grab your favorite blanket and get cozy for the October baseball finale!

🏒Guide to Hockey

October 17, 2020
Guide to Hockey

The GIST

The point of the good ol’ hockey game is to have the most goals after three, 20 minute periods of play. Each team has five players (three forwards and two defence) plus one goalie on the ice at a time.

How is it organized?

The most popular hockey league in the world is the National Hockey League, aka the NHL or “chel” if you’re a true “hockey beauty” *rolls eyes*. Teams are divided into the Eastern and Western Conferences and are then further divided by divisions. There are 31 teams (until Seattle’s expansion team begins its franchise in 2021-22) and 82 regular season games. 

At the end of the regular season, the top three teams in each division and then the remaining top two teams in the conference, regardless of the division (this playoff format is v. controversial because sometimes one division is stronger than the other, meaning that two of the best teams in the conference may have to play each other in the first round) will move on to the playoffs. This means each division will have a minimum of three and a maximum of five teams in the playoffs. The playoffs consist of four rounds of best-of-seven series (teams must win four of the possible seven games to advance) with a chance to win the coveted Stanley Cup aka “Lord Stanley” in the end.  

The best of the best

The 2020 Stanley Cup Champions are the Tampa Bay Lightning! The Lightning claimed the first (and hopefully last) bubble championship and their second Stanley Cup in franchise history, defeating the Dallas Stars in six games. Centre Brayden Point led the Lightning offense with 14 goals and 19 assists (!!!) throughout the playoffs. On the defensive side, defenseman Victor Hedman was awarded the Conn Smythe trophy (the award for the MVP during the playoffs). Other top players in the league include Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins), Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado Avalanche), Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers) and Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks)

When will the next NHL season start?

COVID-19 paused the NHL regular season in March forcing a four-month hiatus in play. In a normal year, the new NHL season would begin in October...but we all know 2020 is certainly not normal. With the 2020 season wrapping up in late September, the league is targeting January 1st as the potential start date for the 2021 season, although nothing’s set in stone just yet. We'll be waiting for that puck to drop!

All my ladies, let me hear y’all!

The women’s hockey scene has gotten mighty messy as of late. At the end of its 2019 season, the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) (one of two professional women’s hockey leagues based in North America at the time) unexpectedly folded due to unsustainable business operations. It consisted of six teams, four based in Canada, one in the US, and one in China, and left a lot of female hockey stars without a team.

Then there’s the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) which has just five teams centralized in the Northeastern US. However, in both the former CWHL and the current NWHL, players get paid next to nothing compared to their male counterparts. Most of the league’s players juggle full-time work and pro-hockey as the league’s average salary is just $15k. To put this in perspective, the lowest amount an NHL team can pay a player is $700k. Can you say #WageGap?

So in 2019, more than 200 of the world’s best female hockey players joined forces to fight for change forming the Professional Women's Hockey Players Association. They are currently boycotting (refusing to play) in the current professional hockey league structure with the goal of creating a viable cross-border league with better working conditions (is health insurance so much to ask?) and better pay. That means no Marie-Philip Poulin, no Hilary Knight and no Brianne Jenner to watch this season. Welp. 

But, you can watch them on their Dream Gap Tour this year. It’s a short-term band aid but will hopefully help create a long-term solution. For now, the conversation seems to be at a standstill and the future of women’s hockey hangs in a kind of uncomfortable limbo. Subscribe to The GIST and follow our social channels to stay up-to-date on more of this news.

Fun facts

  • The Stanley Cup was created in 1893. It was named for Lord Stanley of Preston, a Canadian Governor General.
  • The Pittsburgh Penguins (that’s Sidney Crosby’s team!) used to have a real-life penguin mascot. Pete, as he was affectionately called, was introduced in 1968 before a game against the Pennsylvania state rival Philadelphia Flyers.
  • There are more than 2,200 names engraved on the Stanley Cup (FYI, each team has their names engraved after winning), but only 12 women have made the cut, either as owners or team executives. Let’s get to adding to this tally, shall we?

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Guide to Golf

October 17, 2020
SOURCE: GIPHY.COM
SOURCE: GIPHY.COM

The GIST

A full round of golf is 18 holes. Holes generally range from 100 to 500 yards. Unlike most other sports, the goal is to have the lowest score (counted by strokes) at the end of the game — meaning take the least amount of swings or putts to get the ball in the hole. Each hole on the course is given a number of strokes that it should take for a person to get the ball in the hole (this is called par) and typical championship courses have a full par value of 72. 

How is it organized?

Similar to tennis, men’s professional golf players play in PGA (Professional Golf Association) Tour and women play in LPGA (Ladies’ Professional Golf Association) tournaments. A tournament consists of four rounds of golf (one per day from Thursday until Sunday). The biggest tournaments are called majors. The PGA hosts four majors each year: the Masters, the US Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship. The ladies have one additional major on the LPGA circuit. Their five majors are the ANA Inspiration, U.S. Women's Open, Women's PGA Championship, Women's British Open and the Evian Championship. 

Outside of the majors, there are also various other tourneys the pros can partake in. A player’s world ranking is based on how they do in each tournament. The most well-known and prestigious tournament is the Masters, played in Augusta, Georgia. In addition to winning copious amounts of cash money, players also receive the green jacket (super cool to win, super impractical to wear). The Masters is unique because winners are automatically invited back to play in the tournament annually for the rest of their lives!

Golfin’ greats

This isn’t just your grandparents’ game anymore! While golf is a sport where experience is incredibly important, the past decade has shown that you can be young and still be at the top of your game. The best golfers today include Dustin Johnson (American who is married to Wayne Gretzky’s daughter, Paulina Gretzky), Rory McIlroy (Irish sweetheart), Brooks Koepka (American who won back-to-back US Open and PGA Championship tourneys) and Jordan Spieth (young American stud). 

And then there’s Tiger Woods. Tiger dominated the game for over a decade, winning 14 major tournaments. And then things crashed (literally) and burned for the golfing superstar. Tiger was caught cheating on his wife and Swedish model, Elin, claiming that he had a “sex addiction”. More recently, Tiger was arrested in Florida in 2017 for a DUI after crashing his SUV. He has since made a rather spectacular comeback and is back to being one of the top ranked golfers in the world. 

Gals who golf

It’s a myth that ‘golf’ stands for “Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden”, but only just barely. For decades, golf has been seen almost exclusively as a man’s game, but thankfully ladies have continued to break down those barriers. Professional women play in the LPGA (Ladies PGA) which is organized similarly to the men’s. And Canadian sensation Brooke Henderson is one of the best in the world — she holds the record as the youngest woman to ever win an LPGA tournament AND is the winningest pro golfer in Canadian history (male or female) with nine career titles. Just unreal.

In 2019, the LPGA awarded its largest ever prize ($1.5M USD) to South Korea’s Sei Young Kim at the CME Group Tour Championship. That’s $500k more than the previous record prize. Even though the overall prize money handed out in the LPGA pales in comparison to the PGA, there is reason for optimism. The LPGA’s 2020 schedule features 32 events with record prize money and at least 500 hours of televised content. Keep making moves, ladies!

Prep for your next trivia night by making sure you know these facts:

  • A hole-in-one means you took just one stroke to get the ball all the way into the hole. Tradition says that that golfer must then buy a drink for each person in the clubhouse. But fear not, most courses have hole-in-one insurance so that you actually don’t have to pay. Hilarious.
  • Jack Nicklaus is strongly considered the best golfer of all-time winning 18 majors, which remains the record for most ever.
  • Have you ever sipped on an Arnold Palmer, that delicious blend of iced tea and lemonade? Well, the drink is named after a very successful pro golfer who was known to request the combination! The late Arnold Palmer won four (!!!) Masters tournaments and seven majors over his career.

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🏀Guide to Basketball

October 17, 2020
Guide to Basketball

The GIST

Professional basketball is made up of four quarters lasting 12 minutes each. Five players on each team are on the court at the same time. The point of the game is to shoot a basketball in a hoop to get the most baskets (and the most points). A basket counts as either two or three points, depending on how far the shooter was from the basket they hit the shot. Courtside seats gives fans unprecedented access to the players, so basketball brings out celebrity sightings like no other sport. Just look at Drake getting up close and personal with Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse during the 2019 playoffs.  

How is it organized?

The highest level of the sport is the National Basketball Association aka NBA. The league is divided into two conferences (East and West), and each of those conferences are further divided into three divisions. There are 30 teams in the league, and only one team in Canada - our Toronto Raptors! In the 2018-19 season, the Raptors went all the way to the NBA Finals against the thought-to-be-unstoppable Golden State Warriors and WON, bringing the Larry O’Brien trophy (like the Stanley Cup of the NBA) home to Toronto. Unreal.

The best of the best

The reigning NBA champions are the LA Lakers. The Lakers claimed their 17th (!!!) NBA title in franchise history during the NBA’s historic 2020 bubble season played at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Superstar LeBron James led his Lakers squad, earning NBA Finals MVP honors by averaging nearly 30 points per game throughout the Finals. King James became the first player to ever win the MVP honors with three different franchises. True royalty.

James had some help from teammate Anthony “The Brow” Davis, who averaged 25 points throughout the Finals. Talk about a dynamic duo.

The 2020 bubble season was historic for many reasons, most notably the wildcat strikes for social justice which nearly ended the season midway through the playoffs. With these strikes and calls to action, these players and franchise put social justice at the forefront all season long.

In addition to King James and Davis, the league’s most notable stars also include 2019-20 league MVP Giannis Antetokoumpo (pronounced YAWN-IS ANT-TET-TO-KOOM-PO), who could stir up some drama by joining a new team this offseason, and Houston Rockets guard James “The Beard” Harden.

When does the next NBA season start?

The 2019-20 NBA season ended on October 11th, right around when the new season would typically begin. The start date for the new season is still in the works, as the league contends with uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and the start of the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo. Subscribe to our free twice-weekly newsletter for the latest on the NBA and when the new season will tip off!

Play like a girl (it’s better that way)

The WNBA is one of the best professional sports leagues for women in North America as these basketball bosses actually get airtime on top sports networks. Keep your eye on:

  • WNBA legend and 2020 Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks)
  • Kia Nurse (New York Liberty), who in 2019 became just the third Canadian to ever play in the WNBA All-Star game #proud
  • 2018 league MVP and 2020 Finals MVP Breanna Stewart, who led her Seattle Storm to their fourth (!!!) title in franchise history.
  • Reigning WNBA MVP A'ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces. Last season, Wilson lifted the Aces to a WNBA-best 18-4 record.
  • 2020 No. 1 draft pick Sabrina Ionescu of the New York Liberty, who will be returning from a heart-breaking season-ending injury. We can't wait to see her back out on the court!

Wow! Can I get more info on the WNBA?

Absolutely! The WNBA season (typically) runs from May until late September or early October, with each of the 12 teams playing 34 regular season games. The league has actually been around since 1997, though only three teams remain from inception: the New York Liberty, Los Angeles Sparks and Phoenix Mercury. Go deeper on how the league is organized here.

These women still have a long way to go before reaching parity with their professional male counterparts. But thanks to 87 nationally televised regular season games (more of this, please!), the WNBA saw an incredible 68% increase in viewership during the 2020 season. Amazing what happens when you put women's sports on TV!

And prior to the historic wubble season, we finally saw the WNBA bet on itself by signing a groundbreaking new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that will significantly benefit the players. Among other things, players receive an increase in salary that improves the average compensation from $79k to $130k (!!!) with the league’s top players set to earn $500k — more than three times the previous maximum. Cardi B would be so proud. 

There’s obviously still a long way to go before there’s parity with the men’s professional leagues. That being said, this is a BFD — the WNBA listened to its players and took their input into account more than ever before. It’s refreshing to see a league partner with its players and bet on its women to move closer to closing the inequality gaps that still exist in women’s sports. 

One last thing…

The most important (although we are admittedly biased) fact about basketball is that the sport was created in 1891 by Canadian James Naismith! O’ Canada, indeed!

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⛸️🎾🏒

Skate Canada International, CANWNT Travel Plans Canceled

October 15, 2020
SOURCE: PAUL CHIASSON/CANADIAN PRESS
SOURCE: PAUL CHIASSON/CANADIAN PRESS

⛸⚽️Stop right there: It’s not just football, folks. The pandemic is now putting a stop to even more of our national pastimes. Skate Canada International, which was set for October 30th–31st in Ottawa, has officially been canceled. The event was supposed to be one of six international Grand Prix of the skating season, but now our skating stars must look ahead to January’s nationals event.

  • In other relatable news, our women’s national soccer team had their travel plans kiboshed. The still-coachless team was set to head over to jolly old England this month for a pre-planned training camp, but the World No. 8 squad decided to cancel on the advice of public health officials. Way to set a good example, queens!

🎾Keep it rolling: Denis Shapovalov and Milos Raonic (pronounced MEE-LOSH RAUNITCH) missed the memo. Canada’s top tennis stars are still on the road, having traveled from the French and Italian Opens, respectively, to the St. Petersburg Open in Russia, and it seems (knock on wood) to be worth the trip. Both players are through to the round of 16 in the ATP 500 event and will play for a spot in the quarter-finals today. Follow along here.

🏒Here, there and everywhere: A few big names have found new homes since NHL free agency began last week, but luckily, some of our favorites are staying put. The Montreal Canadiens signed Brendan Gallagher to a six-year contract extension and Jake Allen to a two-year extension, and Nick Paul is sticking with the Ottawa Senators for another two years.

  • The Toronto Maple Leafs have a new backup goalie in Aaron Dell and picked up Joey Anderson in a trade, and the Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks all re-signed players over the past few days. Guess a four-day work week really can be productive in Canada!