Round-table sports update

Victor Hedman hoists the Stanley Cup for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who became the first team to win a championship in a major US sport since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo courtesy of Yahoo Sports.

Peter Burtnett
Sports Editor

As the calendar has turned to October, the Stanley Cup has been won, college football has ramped up, and the NBA and WNBA Finals intersect with the Division Series in MLB, all while the NFL deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.

To start with, the NHL season concluded with the Tampa Bay Lightning defeating the Dallas Stars in six games to win the 2020 Stanley Cup Final. Led by MVP Victor Hedman, the absence of star player Steven Stamkos was not enough to keep the Lightning from hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup.

In college football, the Big 12 has been a minefield for disaster, with Oklahoma falling to Kansas State and Iowa State in consecutive weeks, and Texas faltering against TCU to put the conference in a major predicament for making the College Football Playoff.

The SEC is now two weeks in, with Alabama, Georgia and Florida looking strong and poised to battle for a CFP spot. The first top-10 win of the year went to Georgia in a 27-6 win over Auburn. With the Big 12 now relying on 3-0 Oklahoma State for their chance at the CFP, two of the three SEC teams could very easily find themselves in a CFP spot.

Photo by Tony Walsh/Courtesy UGA Sports Comm

Clemson has continued their constant dominance of the ACC, but a big match-up this Saturday against No. 7 Miami (FL) will be a chance for the 5-time defending conference champions to continue that dominance.

Staying in the same sport, the NFL is now four weeks in, but it hasn’t been smooth sailing. Through the first three weeks, it appeared Commissioner Roger Goodell had things handled, but in the build-up to Week 4, the Tennessee Titans had 20 positive cases, half of which were players. This caused the postponement of their Sunday match-up with the Steelers, now scheduled for Oct. 25. 

George Walker IV, AP

The second delay was the match-up between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs, which was pushed back to Monday night after Cam Newton tested positive for COVID-19. 

Now, after another positive test in the Titans organization and Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore testing positive, the NFL is still in a precarious position to finish the season.

Moving out of the NFL, we progress into America’s pastime, baseball. In the inaugural Wild Card Series best-of-three, the central divisions flopped (0 of the 7 teams advanced), the home runs flew around the ballparks, and inter-division match-ups were set for the Division Series. 

The home run theme has continued through the Division Series, specifically in the American League, where the series between the Yankees-Rays and Athletics-Astros have resulted in almost two dozen home runs. The Rays and Astros are both up 2-1 in their respective series, one win away from a date in the ALCS.

In the NLDS, both the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers have jumped out to 2-0 leads, with the chance to advance as early as Thursday.

Speaking of Los Angeles, the Lakers hold a 3-1 lead against the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, with a crucial Game 4 to be played tonight. After injuries to two Heat starters in a Game 1 loss (Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo), and a tough Game 2 loss, the Heat rallied behind 40 points from Jimmy Butler in Game 3 to keep themselves alive.

Adebayo returned for Game 4, but the Lakers responded with a big win to give themselves a 3-1 lead. LeBron James now has the chance to win his fourth NBA championship Friday night. 

Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

In the WNBA Finals, Breanna Stewart and the Seattle Storm called the Las Vegas Aces’ hand in a 3-0, winning the first two games by 13 points in both, dominating Game 3, 92-59, to give WNBA legend Sue Bird her fourth championship and second in three years (2018). 

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