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Welcome to the Blue Jays, George Springer and Marcus Semien

January 28, 2021
Source: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Source: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The infielder: The Jays signed Marcus Semien to a one-year, $18 million contract, pending a physical (which, as we learned from Caris LeVert, are pretty important). Semien had been with the Oakland A’s for six seasons before becoming a free agent, and he was nominated twice for the Gold Glove Award

  • Fun fact: Semien hit his first major league home run against the Blue Jays back in 2013, when he was a member of the Chicago White Sox. And he’s hit another 114 since then. Not bad.

The pitcher: After the Semien signing, word got out that the Jays will be picking up a new pitcher, too. They’ll acquire Steven Matz from the New York Mets in exchange for three pitching prospects. Matz may not have the same star power as the other recent signings, but he and his grandfather were fan favorites in New York, so we’ll take it.

The impact: Semien played as a shortstop for most of his career with the A’s, but the Jays are expected to move him to the left, to the left to cover second base. This addition should be exactly the thing needed to elevate the Jays’ defence from good to great. And Matz will only add to an already solid bullpen. Again, we ask, is it April yet?!

🏀Candace Parker Signs With Hometown Team Chicago Sky

January 28, 2021
Source: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images
Source: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

🏈Buccaneers, Chiefs, and 22,000 Fans Are Going to the Super Bowl

January 25, 2021
Source: Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Source: Stacy Revere/Getty Images

NFC Champions: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times for quarterback (QB) Tom Brady yesterday. Sure, he threw three touchdowns (TDs) in the Bucs 31–26 win over the Green Bay Packers and he’s going to the Super Bowl again...

  • But Brady also threw three straight interceptions to end the game on a bit of a sour note. Luckily for him, his defense picked up the slack to stave off the Packers’ second half comeback. 
  • The Bucs will become the first team to ever have home field advantage at the Super Bowl. Because of course Tom Brady broke the curse

AFC Champions: It was only the best of times for Kansas City’s QB Patrick Mahomes, who threw three TDs and zero interceptions in KC’s 38–24 win over the Buffalo Bills. If there was any worry of lingering effects from the concussion he suffered last week, Mahomes quickly put those fears to bed.

  • Like Brady, Mahomes had a solid defense to propel the win. Unlike Brady, Mahomes relied heavily on his tight end, Travis Kelce (pronounced KEL-SEE), who tied a record for most receptions in a conference championship with 13. 
  • With the win, KC now has a chance to win back-to-back Super Bowls, the first team to do so since...sarcastic drum roll...Tom Brady’s New England Patriots in 2005. 

Up next: Before we can get to the biggest football game of the year, we have to first endure the most boring game of the year: next Sunday’s Pro Bowl. Once described as “a pillow fight,” the NFL’s version of an All-Star game will take place virtually this year, with the chosen rosters competing via Madden NFL 21. Fire up the PS5.

🏒Patrick Laine Traded to Columbus Blue Jackets

January 25, 2021
Source: Mark Blinch / NHLI via Getty Images
Source: Mark Blinch / NHLI via Getty Images

The trade: Patrik Laine (pronounced LIE-NAY) was a superstar and fan favorite with the Winnipeg Jets since being drafted second overall in 2016. But despite helping the team make the playoffs for the past three seasons, the 22-year-old had yet to graduate to the first line. Getting restless, he wanted a chance to shine elsewhere.

  • Enter Pierre-Luc Dubois. Similarly unhappy with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Dubois has been vocal about wanting out, and Columbus head coach John Tortorella was more than happy to get rid of him. Hence the swap. Laine’s heading to Columbus, leaving big skates in Winnipeg for Dubois to fill.
  • Dubois promises to be a great addition to the Jets’ line-up, though with the government deciding his quarantine length, we might not see him in action for a couple of weeks.

The rest of the North: Elsewhere, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens are duking it out for the top spot in the division. The Leafs have won five of seven games, while the Habs are hanging on to first place without a single regulation loss (though they’ve lost twice in overtime). 

  • And those standings won’t change today, with just one tilt on the NHL schedule tonight: the sixth-placed Vancouver Canucks play the seventh-placed Ottawa Senators at 10 p.m. ET. Past our bedtimes. 
🏒🏀

The GIST's Bits & Bites - Toronto Six and Toronto Raptors

January 25, 2021
Source: Toronto Six/Twitter
Source: Toronto Six/Twitter

🏒NWHL: As you most definitely read in yesterday’s Sunday Scroll, the NWHL’s super-condensed two-week season in the “N-Dubble” began on Saturday, with the league’s first-ever Canadian team debut. 

  • The Toronto Six had a tough start to the season, losing Saturday’s game 3–0 to the 2018 Isobel Cup–winning Metropolitan Riveters and yesterday’s game 6–5, in a shootout to the reigning champs, the Minnesota Whitecaps. Game three is tomorrow at 8:30 p.m. ET, against the Boston Pride.

🏀NBA: The Toronto Raptors we know and love are clawing their way back to us. After a rocky (read: awful) start to the season, the Raps have won five of their last six games, including yesterday’s 107–102 game against the Indiana Pacers, and guys from the 2019 championship-winning roster, like Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby and Norm Powell, are putting up big numbers.

  • That said, the Raps are still boasting a 7-9 record and fan favorites Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry are out with injuries. We’re cautiously optimistic...for now.

⚽️Football (the European kind): The FA WSL’s Manchester City may have forgotten which sport they’re playing. Last weekend’s 7–0 win over Aston Villa and yesterday’s 7–1 win over Brighton & Hove Albion look more like football scores of the NFL variety.

  • Amongst the goal scorers in yesterday’s blowout is Canada’s very own Janine Beckie, who notched this “extra point” to close out the match. Jolly good.