The Viral Roundup – Final Fantasy Edition
Happy Friday! Welcome to a special TGIF (Not The Mama™) go-around of The Viral Roundup to lead you into the weekend. We’re your friendly one-stop shop for all the big news, big buzz and big developments headlining a new day in the world of sports. In today’s edition: The Warriors and Cavaliers slug it out in their opening title round tilt, Detroit stumbles to an unlucky seven and Tal’s Hill is hitting the bricks at the end of the season.
Did You Hear?
After a messy start, Game 1 of the NBA Finals settled into a spot where there were some serious thrills and an OT finish. Golden State pulled away in extra time to send the crowd in Oakland home with delirious memories of a 108-100 win. On the flip side, Cavs fans were likely in tears watching Kyrie Irving exit late in the game with clear knee problems. Cleveland couldn’t get going in overtime scoring a paltry two points over the five minutes. Naturally, the Splash Brothers came out strong with a combined 47 points between Curry and Thompson, but King James also left his mark on the scoreboard. LeBron scored 44 points in a losing cause, although the key shots failed to fall once regulation time was up. The two teams will do battle again on Sunday night with Cleveland aiming to get a series split before returning to Ohio. It won’t be easy. Golden State are now a colossal 47-3 when playing at home.
Did You See?
The Stanley Cup Finals roll on with Game 2 on Saturday night with the Tampa Bay Lightning looking to even the series against the scary good Chicago Blackhawks. (The Bolts enter as a -130 moneyline home favourite, by the way.) The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon have gone back to the Tonight Show Superlatives well to help tide you over while you wait for the puck to drop on more NHL Playoff action. If you’ve ever wondered which Lightning blueliner would be named “Most Likely To Be The Love Child Of Brad Pitt And Benicio Del Toro” you can wonder no longer!
Did You Know?
- Dave Cameron’s work behind the bench is being rewarded with a contract extension. The Ottawa Senators head coach has reportedly agreed to a two year extension following a year where he took over for fired bench Paul MacLean and guided the Sens to a surprise playoff appearance before getting bounced in Round 1 by Montreal.
- Houston is doing away with Tal’s Hill and its accompanying flagpole is taking a hike too. The Astros announced yesterday that their ballpark’s trademark incline will be no more once renovations are done to the stadium in the offseason. Minute Maid Park is getting a $15 million makeover that will result in a bunch of new bars, food outlets and field seating spots moving into the park. The center field fence will be pushed closer to the plate which will (presumably) assist the heavy-hitting bats in Houston’s lineup.
- Speaking of Minute Maid Park, the ballpark played host to a tight matinee tilt between Houston and Baltimore. The Orioles (a +155 moneyline road underdog) squeaked by the Astros 3-2 with closer Zach Britton striking out the side in the bottom of the 9th to nab his 14th save of 2015. Adam Jones went yard in the 8th to give Baltimore its winning run and Houston’s hot-handed hurler Dallas Keuchel was tagged with a no decision ending to his stat line.
- Detroit’s nasty stretch keeps rolling on. The Tigers have dropped their seventh straight with Oakland once again inflicting woe on Motown. Athletics starter Jesse Hahn kept Detroit on a trim five hit diet over seven innings to collect his third win of 2015 in the 7-5 victory. Detroit looked like they might come back in the bottom of the 9th with a rally that melted Oakland’s lead from 7-1 down to 7-5, but that’s as close as things got. Oakland’s been strong of late winning 9 of their last 12 contests.
- 9th inning errors make Pablo Sandoval a sad panda. The Twins and Red Sox were knotted up at 4 going into the final frame but a bobbled Sandoval throw set into motion the first of four runs that allowed Minnesota to escape Fenway Park with an 8-4 win. The series ends in a 2-2 split, but Minnesota’s assembled an impressive run over the past couple weeks. The Twins have scored Ws in nine of their last twelve games.
- Josh Hamilton’s happy homecoming is going to be set on pause for the next while. The Rangers slugger will be out of the lineup for 3-4 weeks with a strained hamstring. Hamilton’s looked right at home in his return to Texas hitting .273 with a pair of homers and 5 RBI in seven appearances.
- Hamilton wasn’t available for the Rangers, but the club still edged out an extra innings victory. A walkoff single from Shin-Soo Choo in the 11th provided Texas with a 2-1 win over the White Sox. The Rangers have been on a tear since mid May collecting twelve positive results in their last fifteen outings. Texas will look to keep this trend going tonight in Kansas City, while the White Sox open up a set at home versus the tailspinning Tigers.
- Brandon Phillips had a sterling outing on Thursday evening. The Reds second baseman went 3-5 with 2 RBI and a stolen base in Cincy’s 6-4 thumping of the Phillies. Anthony DeSclafani recovered from giving up two runs in the opening frame to settle into a performance with only six hits given up over seven innings. The Phillies are in the midst of a miserable stretch where they’ve lost eight of their last ten.
- The Tarheels are facing some serious charges from the NCAA that could usher in stiff consequences for their athletics department. The University of North Carolina has been charged with five violations following an academic probe that determined student athletes were granted special treatment by the school. The NCAA has determined that UNC committed a “severe breach of conduct” and we’ll have to wait and see what comes next.
- The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup gets underway this weekend in the Great White (and unfortunately turfed) North. The 24 team tournament begins Saturday and will wrap up in Vancouver on July 5. The United States enter play as the favourite on the futures board holding an 11/5 favourite status. Germany trail closely behind at 3/1 odds and France face 7/1 odds. The defending champs, Japan, come in at 9/1. Canada’s saddled with 12/1 odds as the host nation.
- The Big Easy is the site of the latest UFC Fight Night event. The card is headlined by decorated MMA veteran Dan Henderson fighting #13 ranked Tim Boetsch in a middleweight bout. Hendo enters the Octagon as a +170 underdog. The event was originally scheduled to showcase Daniel Cormier and Ryan Bader in an intriguing light heavyweight bout, but that main event was axed when Cormier was brought in to face (and ultimately defeat) Anthony Johnson at UFC 187 for Jon Jones’ vacated UFC Light Heavyweight Championship.
- Oddsmakers like American Pharaoh’s chances of being the first horse to win the first Triple Crown since Affirmed. The Kentucky Derby and Preakness champ is being saddled with 3/5 odds to win the Belmont this weekend. Frosted (a 5/1 shot) and Materiality (at 6/1) are also considered relatively strong competitors. The horse with the longest shot at Belmont Park? That would be Frammento in Post 4 at 30/1.
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