It’s back! It’s finally back. After about four months of waiting, major pro sports have returned to Toronto. The Toronto Blue Jays had their opening night on the road in Tampa Bay (their new “home” is going to be Buffalo this season), while the Raptors played their first exhibition game in the bubble in Florida. Hockey is about three days away, so let’s see how those two games went, shall we?
Toronto Blue Jays 6, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 4
The Jays came out swinging in the opening game of the season, and in particular Cavan Biggio, who knocked a three-run homerun in the fifth to give his team a 6-1 lead that they held till the end of the game. Biggio also kicked off a three-run fourth inning with an infield single that gave the Jays their initial lead.
Before the game, Biggio took a knee during the national anthem for his teammate Anthony Alford, who Biggio said was having second thoughts before the game due to his roster status. Biggio describes their conversation and it’s an absolutely beautiful story. This is what we want, people lifting each other up and supporting each other.
Cavan Biggio on his decision to take a knee during the national anthem prior to tonight's Blue Jays game pic.twitter.com/onvSdlgcHI— Arden Zwelling (@ArdenZwelling) July 25, 2020
Shi Davidi has the larger story over on Sportsnet, including quotes and the atmosphere of the moment.
Hyun-Jin Ryu, the star ace signing for the Blue Jays started the game, but failed to earn the win after being pulled in the fifth inning after giving up a three-run homerun and a hit to the Rays. He was having a good opening outing before the fifth inning when he started to face the Rays lineup for the third time, his stat line finished with four hits, three earned runs, three walks, four strikeouts, in four and two thirds innings. Jordan Romano, Anthony Bass, Rafael Dolis, and closer Ken Giles finished the game with an inning (ish) apiece.
Reigning NBA Champion Toronto Raptors 94, Houston Rockets 83
The Raptors had their first exhibition game within the NBA bubble last night, and it was the Serge Ibaka Show. The Centre scored 18 points in 17 minutes of gametime, finishing 8/10 from the field and 2/3 from three-point range. Ibaka even provided the highlight of the night, celebrating a three-point shot from teammate Matt Thomas
Celly>shot without a doubt 😂😂 https://t.co/6MymONvWZW— Matthew W. Thomas (@Theiceman_21) July 25, 2020
The secondary unit had the best plus/minus of the team chris Boucher finished the game a +21 and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson finished +14. Pascal Siakam had a good night with 13 points, Kyle Lowry earned himself a lot of free throws and 11 points. The entire Raptors squad showed few signs of rust, despite the four month layoff without any basketball. They look dialed in, they’re clicking, and look really ready for another deep run.
Here are some of the highlights:
Vintage Raptors basketball pic.twitter.com/HPnmIrPbsS— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) July 25, 2020
Point gawd at work pic.twitter.com/UMQhIYpv28— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) July 25, 2020
Don't care if it's a scrimmage— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) July 25, 2020
KLow over everything pic.twitter.com/L5gTUtefkL
Oh! And a very Happy Birthday to the DILF, Nick Nurse!
Various Hockey Branches
Annie’s “fashion” breakdown of the Seattle Kraken logo was a really fun read, plus the conversations in the comments got to be really fun.
It looks like the Arizona Coyotes are preparing to give boy genius John Chayka his first heartbreak. There’s a growing sense that he won’t join the team in the bubble and could be out of the GM job very soon. I would be surprised if he keeps his job through the NHL Draft in October.
Six weeks ago, Coyotes CEO Xavier Gutierrez reacted with surprise when asked if there was any reason John Chayka wouldn’t be the long-term GM.— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) July 24, 2020
However, there's now a growing sense that Chayka and the team are headed for divorce, @FriedgeHNIC reports.https://t.co/m63RYbKiBd
These are some really terrifying numbers from Women and Sport Canada. It shows a dramatic decline in women aged 15 or older participating in sports over the last 28 years.
Brent Seabrook is 35-year-old and coming off a season where he scored four points and had a 44% shot share. He will not be joining his Chicago teammates in the bubble for the playoffs, but is adamant on playing hockey next season. Whether he’s going to play it well is another question.
Brent Seabrook: "I'm playing hockey next year. That's the bottom line for me.” #Blackhawks— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) July 24, 2020
Puck tracking was supposed to arrive to the NHL at the start of the 2020 Playoffs, but it appears it has been delayed until later in the tournament. The data won’t be made public right away so it’ll largely be useless, save for some weird tidbits and factoids about how many days on Earth EXACTLY Auston Matthews is, or something.
Puck tracking technology won’t be used until final rounds but used full time in 2020-21.— Lance Hornby (@sunhornby) July 24, 2020