Happy Friday, everyone! One week of 2022 down, and we’re rewarded with a loaded next few days of sports.
Please check the opt-in box to acknowledge that you would like to subscribe.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox.
There was an error processing your subscription.
Let’s get right to it.
Good morning to everyone but especially to…
SPORTS BETTORS IN NEW YORK
Rejoice, sports fans in New York! Mobile sports betting in your state becomes legal at 9 a.m. Saturday.
It will be available through four different sportsbooks:
- Caesars Sportsbook
- Rush Street Interactive
New York is the biggest state (in population) to legalize mobile sports betting so far, and it’s just in time for one heck of a sports weekend.
If you want some betting advice from yours truly, I love Tampa Bay (-8) at home against Carolina. Tom Brady and company won this matchup 32-6 two weeks ago, and Carolina has lost six straight, with the last five all by at least eight points.
If I’m right, you can thank me later. If I’m wrong, well, you should know all the good advice comes from Tom Fornelli’s afternoon newsletter anyway.
- Hello, Knicks! R.J. Barrett banked in a game-winning three at the buzzer to cap a 25-point comeback and beat the Celtics 108-105. Evan Fournier had a career-high 41 points for New York, which picked up its largest comeback win since 2004(!!!).
- Kawhi Leonard is reportedly ahead of schedule in his ACL rehab, and there’s a “strong possibility” he’ll return this season.
And not such a good morning for…
Hopefully this will be the last time I’ll have Antonio Brown in this newsletter for a few days, but no guarantees. On Thursday, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians fired back at the wide receiver’s allegations, and the team officially released him.
- On Sunday, Brown stripped off his helmet, jersey, shoulder pads and tank top and left the field in the third quarter of the Buccaneers’ game against the Jets. After the game, Arians said Brown was “no longer a Buc.”
- On Monday, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported that Brown felt he was too injured to play and twice refused to enter the game, leading Arians to say “Get out.” Arians once again refuted that sequence of events.
- On Wednesday, Brown broke his silence on the situation with a lengthy statement released through his attorney. Brown accused the Bucs of an “ongoing cover-up” of the ankle injury and of “promoting a totally false narrative” surrounding Brown’s departure Sunday.
Then on Thursday, Brown took to social media to call out Tom Brady as well as Brady’s trainer Alex Guerrero. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Brown was unhappy with his targets Sunday and that earlier in the week, Brown’s agent had approached Buccaneers GM Jason Licht about guaranteeing remaining incentive money in Brown’s contract, to which Licht said no.
Finally, Arians addressed the media about the situation yesterday:
- Arians: “At no point in time during that game did he ever ask the trainer or doctor about his ankle. … He was very upset at halftime about who was getting targeted, but got that calmed down — players took care of that. It started again on the sideline. We called the personnel group that he had played in the entire game, but he refused to go in the game. … [He said], ‘I ain’t playing.’ [I said], ‘What’s going on?’ [He said], ‘I ain’t getting the ball.’ That’s when I said, ‘You’re done. Get the F outta here.’ That’s the end of it.”
It won’t really be “the end of it,“ but the combination of calling out Brady (who helped revive Brown’s career), being frustrated over lack of targets with money on the line and formally being released made Thursday a bad day for Brown.
Not so honorable mention
- The Yankees hired Eric Chavez as an assistant hitting coach on Dec. 21. They didn’t even keep him for three weeks. The Mets swiped Chavez away, hiring him as their hitting coach Thursday.
- On Wednesday night, Wizards announcer Glenn Consor said Rocket guard Kevin Porter Jr., “like his dad, pulled that trigger right at the right time” after Porter Jr.’s game-winning shot. A bit of background here: Porter Jr.’s father pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of a 14-year old girl in 1993 and was shot and killed in 2004. Consor apologized, saying he thought Porter Jr. was the son of former NBA player Kevin Porter. Still, it’s a terrible mistake.
Pete Prisco’s picks for the final week of the regular season 🏈
With one week left in the regular season, there are seven teams still looking to clinch a playoff berth. Five of those teams reside in the AFC. Pete Prisco has made his picks for the weekend, and let’s start with one that holds significant playoff weight: Colts at Jaguars.
- Prisco: “The Colts need this to get into the playoffs, while the Jaguars are heading for vacation after a horrible season. They traditionally play the Colts tough, but that won’t be the case here. Their offense is terrible. Jonathan Taylor has had big days against the Jaguars and will here too to lead the Colts. Pick: Colts 27, Jaguars 10“
If that game plays out the way Prisco expects, the AFC playoff picture becomes much simpler: The winner of Chargers-Raiders will nab the final spot.
- Prisco: “The Raiders surprised many by beating the Colts on the road, and they did it with their defense. That unit will be challenged here by Justin Herbert. I think the Chargers play well enough on offense to win this one. They get to the postseason. Pick: Chargers 31, Raiders 23“
It’s only been a week, but we might have a contender for “saddest sports fan of the year.”
Abdiell Suero has filed a lawsuit seeking $2 billion in monetary damages and $4 billion in punitive damages, with claims against the Giants and Jets that include false advertising and deceptive practices as both teams brand themselves as “New York” but play in New Jersey.
The lawsuit also claims that the plaintiff and the class, which includes all Giants and Jets fans that live in New York, have suffered “mental and emotional damage, including depression, sadness and anxiety.” The suit requests the teams rebrand themselves as the as the East Rutherford Giants/Jets and that they return to New York state by 2025.
Man oh man, where do I start with this one?
- How about the fact that the Giants have not spent a single second with a winning record in the last five seasons?
- Or that Joe Judge is going on hilariously bad and completely bizarre monologues during another lost season?
- And that he’s going to be back next season?
- Or that the Jets are, well, the Jets?
I’ve seen more than my fair share of terrible results growing up a Washington fan, but I never once thought of suing them for playing in their abomination of a stadium in Landover.
Maybe New Yorkers should be glad they don’t share a state with the Giants and Jets, whose playoff droughts stand at five years and 11 years, respectively. Or focus on the Bills, who not only play in the state, but are actually good! I don’t know, just a couple of thoughts.
When will the MLB lockout end? ⚾
Our MLB reporters gave their answers in the latest “Batting Around” roundtable. R.J. Anderson had the most optimistic tone by saying late January, while Mike Axisa is on the opposite end of things:
- Axisa: “March 1. Then we’ll get a two-week ‘offseason,’ a three-week spring training, and Opening Day will be pushed back one week. Under Manfred, MLB’s M.O. has been to wait until the last minute to do anything, and this is an extremely complex negotiation.”
What we’re watching this weekend 📺
🏀 Bucks at Nets, 7:30 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Hawks at Lakers, 10 p.m. on ESPN