2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Overview, Round Robin And Qualifying Schedule

2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Overview, Round Robin And Qualifying Schedule

The NHL returns tomorrow, and—even in a bubble environment with no fans—the Stanley Cup Playoffs should again deliver arguably the most exciting stretch of play in all of sports. Things will feel more normal when the top eight seeds in each conference are determined, but let’s get right to the look of an unprecedented 2020 race to the Stanley Cup.

 

Locations

 

Due to COVID-19, the Stanley Cup Playoffs will take place entirely within two hub cities:

 

Eastern Conference: Scotiabank Arena in Toronto

Western Conference: Rogers Place in Edmonton

 

Playoff Format

 

Round Robin

The top four teams in each conference play each other to determine first-round playoff seeding 1-4. The eight teams (four each conference) in the round robin have already qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Regular season overtime rules will be used during round robin play.

 

Eastern Conference

Boston Bruins

Tampa Bay Lightning

Washington Capitals

Philadelphia Flyers

 

Western Conference

St. Louis Blues

Colorado Avalanche

Las Vegas Golden Knights

Dallas Stars

 

Qualifying Round

The next eight teams in each conference will play best-of-five series to determine which team will advance to the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Postseason overtime rules (i.e. full five-on-five 20-minute periods, no shootouts) will be in effect for the qualifying round.

 

Eastern Conference matchups

5) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 12) Montreal Canadiens

6) Carolina Hurricanes vs. 11) New York Rangers

7) New York Islanders vs. 10) Florida Panthers

8) Toronto Maple Leafs vs. 9) Columbus Blue Jackets

 

Western Conference matchups

5) Edmonton Oilers vs. 12) Chicago Blackhawks

6) Nashville Predators vs. 11) Arizona Coyotes

7) Vancouver Canucks vs. 10) Minnesota Wild

8) Calgary Flames vs. 9) Winnipeg Jets

 

Playoff Seeding

After the round robin play and the qualifying round, seeding is set for the First Round. Seeding is then reset for the Second Round (so the highest seed will play the lowest remaining seed, etc.).

 

Stanley Cup Playoffs

From there, the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the race to the Final will look like it normally does, with best-of-seven series in each conference before the Eastern Conference champion and the Western Conference champion face off for the Stanley Cup. Both the conference finals and the Stanley Cup Final will take place in Edmonton.

 

Schedule (*if necessary)

 

EASTERN CONFERENCE

 

Round Robin

Sunday, Aug. 2: Flyers vs. Bruins (3:00 PM ET, NBC)

Monday, Aug. 3: Capitals vs. Lightning (4:00 PM ET, NBCSN)

Wednesday, Aug. 5: Lightning vs. Bruins (4:00 PM ET, NBCSN)

Thursday, Aug. 6: Capitals vs. Flyers (TBD)

Saturday, Aug. 8: Flyers vs. Lightning (TBD)

Sunday, Aug. 9: Bruins vs. Capitals (TBD)

 

5) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 12) Montreal Canadiens

Saturday, Aug. 1 – 8:00 PM ET, NBC

Monday, Aug. 3 – 8:00 PM ET, NBCSN

Wednesday, Aug. 5 – 8:00 PM ET, NBCSN

Friday, Aug. 7 – TBD

Saturday, Aug. 8 – TBD

 

6) Carolina Hurricanes vs. 11) New York Rangers

Saturday, Aug. 1 – 12:00 PM ET, NBCSN

Monday, Aug. 3 – 12:00 PM ET, NBCSN

Tuesday, Aug. 4 – 8:00 PM ET, NBCSN

Thursday, Aug. 6 – TBD

Saturday, Aug. 8 – TBD

 

7) New York Islanders vs. 10) Florida Panthers

Saturday, Aug. 1 – 4:00 PM ET, NBCSN

Tuesday, Aug. 4 – 12:00 PM ET, NBCSN

Wednesday, Aug. 5 – 12:00 PM ET, NBCSN

Friday, Aug. 7 – TBD

Sunday, Aug. 9 – TBD

 

8) Toronto Maple Leafs vs. 9) Columbus Blue Jackets

Sunday, Aug. 2 – 8:00 PM ET, NBCSN

Tuesday, Aug. 4 – 4:00 PM ET, NBCSN

Thursday, Aug. 6 – TBD

Friday, Aug. 7 – TBD

Sunday, Aug. 9 – TBD

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE

 

Round Robin

Sunday, Aug. 2: Blues vs. Avalanche (6:30 PM ET, NBCSN)

Monday, Aug. 3: Stars vs. Golden Knights (6:30 PM ET, NBCSN)

Wednesday, Aug. 5: Avalanche vs. Stars (6:30 PM ET, NBCSN)

Thursday, Aug. 6: Golden Knight vs. Blues (TBD)

Saturday, Aug. 8: Golden Knights vs. Avalanche (TBD)

Sunday, Aug. 9: Stars vs. Blues (TBD)

 

5) Edmonton Oilers vs. 12) Chicago Blackhawks

Saturday, Aug. 1 – 3:00 PM ET, NBC

Monday, Aug. 3 – 10:30 PM ET, NBCSN

Wednesday, Aug. 5 – 10:30 PM ET, NBCSN

Friday, Aug. 7 – TBD

Saturday, Aug. 8 – TBD

 

6) Nashville Predators vs. 11) Arizona Coyotes

Sunday, Aug. 2 – 2:00 PM ET, USA Network

Tuesday, Aug. 4 – 2:30 PM ET, NBCSN

Wednesday, Aug. 5 – 2:30 PM ET, NBCSN

Friday, Aug. 7 – TBD

Sunday, Aug. 9 – TBD

 

7) Vancouver Canucks vs. 10) Minnesota Wild

Sunday, Aug. 2 – 10:30 PM ET, NBCSN

Tuesday, Aug. 4 – 10:45 PM ET, USA Network

Thursday, Aug. 6 – TBD

Friday, Aug. 7 – TBD

Sunday, Aug. 9 – TBD

 

8) Calgary Flames vs. 9) Winnipeg Jets

Saturday, Aug. 1 – 10:30 PM ET, NBCSN

Monday, Aug. 3 – 2:30 PM ET, NBCSN

Tuesday, Aug. 4 – 4:45 PM ET, NBCSN

Thursday, Aug. 6 – TBD

Saturday, Aug. 8 – TBD

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Ice Cream Truck Snacks

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Ice Cream Truck Snacks

While summer hasn’t been quite in full swing for most of the world due to COVID-19, the July 4 holiday is coming up this weekend. It’s a good time for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday to feature the best ice-cream-truck snacks for the summer. Please note that this list accounts for generic ice cream trucks (so essentially snacks that come wrapped and no soft serve).

 

10. Snow cone

 

 

Snow cones are a simple option, as it’s basically flavored ice. They would have a case to be higher than No. 10 if it wasn’t the pre-packaged version that comes from most ice cream trucks.

 

9. Ice cream cone

 

 

Think of something like the Nestle Drumstick for what you’ll get from a non-Mister-Softee ice cream truck. If we were talking custard from an ice cream parlor, a cone (or bowl or milkshake) would likely be No. 1 on the list.

 

8. Rocket pop

 

 

A Rocket pop or “Bomb Pop” or “Firecracker” hits you with three different flavors and stands out among the traditional popsicle sticks.

 

7. Push-up pop

 

 

Sherbert in a compact little tube, push-up pops are a novel summer treat. They are just the right amount of sweet.

 

6. Character pop

 

 

Some people could probably do without the gumball eyes, but character pops offer plus flavor along with variety. SpongeBob, Spider-Man, and Batman are among the usual standouts.

 

5. Choco Taco

 

 

First of all, the name Choco Taco is just so catchy that it’ll stick with most kids. But chocolate and ice cream lovers get a little bit of everything with a Choco Taco.

 

4. Ice cream sandwich

 

 

The ice cream sandwich might not look like much on the surface, but it’s a definitive summer staple that needs a spot in the top five. The ice cream sandwich is timeless.

 

3. Orange creamsicle

 

 

The mix of the orange cream and the ice cream found in a creamsicle is an ideal blend of fruit flavor with conventional ice cream. This and No. 2 are known as lunch-room classics.

 

2. Strawberry/Chocolate éclair

 

 

Strawberry shortcake likely gets the edge for most, but both the strawberry and chocolate éclair ice cream bars combine for the No. 2 spot among the best summer treats. The very center is packed with flavor, and you also get ice cream on the inside and a cookie crunch around the outside.

 

1. The Original Chipwich

 

 

A couple of chocolate chip cookies, ice cream, and chocolate chips all in one? The chipwich might not be the most refreshing summer snack, but you’ll get your money’s worth with it.

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Difficult Sports To Play

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Difficult Sports To Play

Recently, a ranking of the top 60 sports in terms of difficulty has been going viral, with boxing in the top spot ahead of ice hockey and football. But, as you would expect from this type of list, there’s been plenty of disagreement and outrage over the rankings. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday gives it a shot ordering the most difficult sports to play. Of course, no one in the world has played every single sport at a high level, so it’s difficult for anyone to really judge with accuracy. Also, while everyone can improve at something if they work at it, it’s all relative to natural ability, too. Share your thoughts on the imperfect TTT in the comment section below!

 

10. Skiing

The No. 10 spot on the list was difficult, but the nod goes to skiing. Winter sports like skiing and snowboarding are not exactly something most people will be able to just pick up with ease for fun, and competitive levels of the sport takes it to another level.

 

9. Soccer

Soccer is regarded as the world’s most universal language because the sport can bring people of all ages together to kick the ball around—but running around the pitch for over an hour in an actual game is no joke. Soccer also requires both finesse and power, speed and pace, and precision along with the use angles on passes, shots, and runs.

 

8. Tennis

Pros like Roger Federer might make it look effortless at times, but tennis takes superb agility and overall skill. Getting into position and then getting the ball up and over the net—while attempting to make it a challenge for your opponent’s return—is harder than it looks on TV. You might be a ping pong master, but tennis uses much more energy and strength.

 

7. Rugby

Rugby is pretty relentless—players run at full speed and take massive hits without wearing helmets or pads. Clearly, it’s not for everybody.

 

 

6. Golf

The biggest complaint from the top-60 ranking of the most difficult sports in the world is probably how low golf is ranked. Golf is a game many will play and put up triple-digit scores, and it belongs in the top ten because of how difficult it is to get to an expert level. Becoming a scratch golfer as a non-professional is an excellent accomplishment and quite uncommon.

 

5. Water Polo

Imagine having to stay afloat in the water for a dozen or so minutes at a time. Already doesn’t sound that fun. Then imagine having to exert energy playing a physical handball, lacrosse type of sport in the pool. Water polo is squarely among the world’s toughest sports.

 

4. Football

In a physicality comparison, American football is similar to rugby. There’s no question the United States’ most popular game has lightened up over the years as the NFL and lower level games push for player safety, but it still takes a different mindset—especially at the less glamourous positions—to play. Against fast or super strong offenses and defenses, having success in football takes toughness, talent, accuracy, and everyone doing their jobs. The strategy and deep playbooks for football can get complex and add another element to the sport.

 

3. Ice Hockey

First and foremost, most average unbiased fans would probably say that hockey players have the toughest athletes in team sports. Then you take into account the skating (ice skating was another sport that could have made the top ten) while wearing pads, and the necessity of stick handling and puck control—all while keeping your head on a swivel to avoid getting checked in open ice or by the boards.

 

2. Baseball

Many argue that hitting a baseball is the most difficult thing in sports. Hitting a 90 MPH fastball (let alone speeds pushing toward the 100 MPH territory) is almost impossible without a ton of practice, but then hitting off-speed pitches like curveballs is arguably even more of a challenge. Among the facets of the game that don’t get enough recognition are the knowledge of baserunning (reading the pitcher and where the defenders are as the ball is hit), communication in the field, footwork around the bag, and judging balls of the bat in the field. As a batter, having success 30% of the time throughout your career almost means you’re an automatic Hall of Famer.

 

1. Boxing/MMA

Yes, boxing and mixed martial arts are competitors, but they’re getting thrown together in the same category at No. 1 here. Both sports can be very gruesome, and it takes both mental and physical fortitude to even step into the ring or octagon. For boxers in particular, going the distance in bouts takes serious stamina and mental toughness. And in MMA, you must be prepared to defend more than just your upper body.

Potential Big Professional Sports Changes Resulting From COVID-19

Potential Big Professional Sports Changes Resulting From COVID-19

Shortened seasons, canceled events, virtual offseasons—much has changed for sports in 2020 due to COVID-19. As we await the return of team sports, there are some big potential changes to keep in mind for the long term.

 

MLB: Universal DH

First, we need the owners and players to come to an agreement so that Major League Baseball even has a season in 2020. If and when that happens, the most obvious huge change stemming from COVID-19-impacted shortened season is that the MLB goes to a universal designated hitter forever. It feels like it’s only a matter of time before the National League adopts the DH on a full-time basis, and this year could be a test course for all 30 teams to use it.

 

There are obvious downsides to using a DH—the risk of alienating longtime loyal fans that decide they’ve had enough of change and decide they don’t need to spend their time watching baseball every night anymore and the elimination of another strategy element to the game (like double switches). However, playing this season with all teams using the DH almost out of necessity might make it easier for fans to accept it as a full-time thing potentially in 2021.

 

NFL: More virtual

The 2020 NFL Draft was almost like a fantasy football draft on a very large scale, as it had to be held virtually, with all 32 teams working separately and mostly using applications like Zoom and Microsoft Teams to stay connected with colleagues throughout the three-day event. Everything went very smoothly, and the virtual draft was considered a major success all around.

 

With coaches and executives locked out of team facilities, many of them admitted that it was nice to spent more time at home with family during the offseason. We could see more of that moving forward, as technology makes it extremely easy for them to still watch film and get plenty of stuff done in their houses.

 

NBA: Schedule overhaul

After the 2019-2020 NBA season officially concludes this fall with an October NBA Finals, the 2020-2021 season is expected to tip off in December. There are a lot of moving parts to the situation, but this could be a blessing in disguise to some degree.

 

Before COVID-19 really threw a wrench into just about everything around the world, Hawks CEO Steve Koonin had suggested moving the NBA season to a December start with the Finals running in August instead of June. Koonin acknowledged that the NBA “gets crushed” by the NFL if they have an opening night game go up against Thursday Night Football, and moving the season back (maybe to the first Thursday night when TNF is done in December) would help them create “relevance” and decrease competition. Also, there is not much team sports action late in the summer, so the NBA champion being determined in August could be a massive draw.

 

A June NBA Finals is tradition, and it would be weird to change that. But it makes sense from a business perspective, and now would be the time to make that change if the league ever wants to do it.

 

The NHL (which, despite what people might say to get attention, is a major U.S. professional sport) is not likely to make a wholesale change like the NBA might, as—despite air conditioned arenas allowing the game to be played in any weather—hockey is better to be completed before summer rages on.

Top Ten Tuesday: Social Distancing Games For The Summer

Top Ten Tuesday: Social Distancing Games For The Summer

Much of the world is making major progress on defeating COVID-19, but it’s still smart to social distance (especially from strangers) whenever possible. Today’s Top Ten Tuesday highlights ten of the best social-distancing games—which you can play together while mostly staying several feet apart—for the start of the summer.

 

10. Have a catch

Whether you want to toss around a football or grab a glove and have a baseball catch, throwing the ball around is a very simple activity where you can’t be too close to your partner to do it. Throwing around the football in particular can get you some nice exercise if you are running some routes on air.

 

9. Billiards

This is the lone inside game on the list, but pool/billiards is an ideal social-distancing game. Stand on opposite sides of the table, and you should be good. They aren’t quite the recommended six feet of distance, but generally you’re probably fine if you stay a pool cue distance away from your opponent.

 

8. H-O-R-S-E

Just shooting the basketball is an option, but playing some H-O-R-S-E adds more of a challenge element if you’ve got a ball and a hoop around. A game in your backyard or at a playground can’t be much worse than the game of H-O-R-S-E that ESPN tried to broadcast during quarantine.

 

7. Spikeball

There have been a number of viral Spikeball clips recently, and it might be a game many are looking to try out at some point. It’s a 360-degree type of activity, so it might be hard to always keep your distance while playing—but this is definitely something most people will be playing with friends only at first.

 

6. Cornhole

Cornhole is a prototypical classic backyard summer game, and the two boards are placed 27 feet apart—obviously more than enough distance if you want to social distance. If you’re playing with the customary four participants, just have the pairings on each side alternate stepping up and back if you’d like.

 

5. Tennis

Tennis is another game where you are more than far enough apart, and you can probably feel comfortable playing it against strangers. Hopefully we see professional tennis return soon, but the sports actually might not return until after team sports like basketball and hockey.

 

4. Golf

As the charity golf match between Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady showed on Sunday while avoiding handshakes and physical contact, you can safely play 18 holes throughout the pandemic. Golf is only at No. 4 instead of higher simply because it might be difficult to find an open course (and it can be costly to play).

 

3. Wiffle ball

A game that is not costly is wiffle ball, as all you need is a cheap bat (or even a stick) and some type of ball (preferably a Wiffle ball). Running the bases is an option, but wiffleball games can easily award bases (single, double, etc.) based on where the ball is hit.

 

2. Ping pong

Standard ping pong tables are nine-feet long, so ping pong is another game that’s tailor-made for social distancing. A big reason ping pong is up at No. 2 on the list is because it’s much easier to play than tennis, and ping pong tables are probably more readily available for most people than tennis courts.

 

1. Kan Jam

Finally, Kan Jam has exploded in popularity over the past several years, arguably becoming the best overall lawn game to play in the summer. A Kan Jam set (two targets and one flying disc) costs just around $40 to purchase, and they are very durable. Like cornhole, ladder toss, and other classic backyard games, you stand far apart from your partner, which is perfect. Hopefully everything gets back to normal soon, but for now, there’s no reason most people can’t think about playing some Kam Jam.

The Match II Lives Up To The Hype, Raises $20 Million For COVID-19 Relief

The Match II Lives Up To The Hype, Raises $20 Million For COVID-19 Relief

Four living sports legends—Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning, Phil Mickelson, and Tom Brady—hit the golf course for 18 holes of match play to raise money for COVID-19 relief yesterday. The first nine holes were the best ball format, and the back nine was played with modified alternate shot rules. The pairing of Woods and Manning won the match by just one point, and the event was highly memorable and loads of fun.

 

While America continues opening the country back up, many have still been stuck at home—and not much U.S. professional sports action has occurred in months. But “The Match II” with Woods, Manning, Mickelson, and Brady delivered a few hours of superb entertainment to help people get their minds off things for a moment.

 

The friendly-yet-competitive match saw plenty of good-natured trash talk—most of it coming from the quarterbacks, but Woods had a good jab at Brady, saying that a shot he hit on Hole 3 will be on the fairway… “on [Hole] 7”.

 

After the match, Mickelson said that he was a bit nervous at the beginning, and Manning said you could imagine how he and Brady felt as a non-professional golfer playing with Woods and Mickelson. Brady did not start off well, but he probably had the shot of the day on Hole 7 and clearly became more comfortable from there, instantly opening up and talking more while playing looser.

 

NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley was helping announce the match, and he had his normal hilarious commentary throughout. Barkley also appeared to light a bit of a fire under Brady before the birdie on Hole 7:

 

 

From Eli Manning (who just joined Twitter a couple of days ago) to Brooks Koepka (who jumped in and donated $100,000 after Brady hit a par on the birdie shot) to Russell Wilson (who will donate 300,000 meals after Mickelson, Manning, and Brady got within 12 feet of the hole on Hole 16), a ton of athletes live tweeted the event.

 

 

 

 

The event was also cool because it allowed viewers to see the personalities of the four amazing athletes a bit more via the live mics. Mickelson and Brady appeared to talk more and have better team chemistry (maybe because they had to rally together to stage a comeback), but Woods and Manning handled their business and held off a great comeback attempt after jumping to a three-point lead on the front nine.

 

Best of all, “The Match II” raised $20 million for charity, and people want more. Expect to see more high-profile charity golf matches into the future, and maybe we’ll even get some other activities like ping pong or Kan Jam tournaments. The power of sports was on full display yesterday, and things should be rolling at its usual maximum levels before we know it as the world works to defeat COVID-19.

How Do Sports Return And Help Get Things Back To Normal?

How Do Sports Return And Help Get Things Back To Normal?

We are two months from the birthdate of the United States, but things are going to feel much different because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That extends to America’s beloved sports, as major professional sports leagues (and most high school, college, and youth sports) will not be able to run business as usual one or two months from now. However, Independence Day could help mark the closing in on the return to normalcy, bringing hope for the rest of the summer following the July 4 holiday.

 

It feels like it’s been five years since Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors topped the Warriors in last season’s NBA Finals, and the NBA sent the biggest early coronavirus shockwaves on March 11—a date that will live in sports infamy—when Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus, leading to the suspension of the season. Since then, the NCAA Tournament was canceled, the NHL season also postponed, and the MLB season unable to begin, among many other events.

 

NASCAR is finally returning this month, without fans, but all other sports are at a standstill with return dates uncertain. So how do we get team sports back?

 

MLB

There have been numerous reports and rumors about what Major League Baseball will do with its 2020 season, but July 4 has been talked about as a potential Opening Day date, which would be fitting as the sport looks to begin the process of getting things back to normal by getting some baseball in the air of summer.

 

The thought is that the MLB will try to get as many games in as possible (with 100 regular season games as a potential target), but there are a few things they can do to make an accelerated season a reality:

 

  • Have 7-inning double-headers often.
  • Expand gameday rosters from 25 to 30+ to add more pitchers and bench players. The addition of a third catcher would be critical.
  • Expand 40-man rosters to include more reserve players that can easily be brought up to the big leagues.

 

The minor league season is where it gets more difficult, but hopefully prospects can at least work out in a confined setting with their organizations. The bad news is that no actual games this year (and no sales and revenue) would be detrimental to minor-league franchises.

 

NBA

Lakers star LeBron James and others have said that the NBA season has to return to finish its season, and it would be shocking if The Association does not find a way to make it so a champion is legitimately crowned in a seven-game series like every other year. Ultimately, the best course of action might be playing games without fans either a) in home arenas, or b) all games take place at a big sports complex (Disney World in Orlando has been suggested).

 

Obviously putting the overall terrible impact of COVID-19 aside, the NBA finishing their season later could be a good thing, as it could lead to the 2020-2021 season not starting until December, with the Finals occurring in August. Sports in July and August would get a lot more exciting if the NBA playoffs were thrown into the mix.

 

NHL

The NHL has indicated they might just jump right into the Stanley Cup Playoffs when their season is able to resume. The league has indicated that there is no issue with playing ice hockey later into the summer months, as they can keep the ice cool inside of arenas with today’s technology. With both the NBA and NHL following relatively similar paths with their seasons, and both leagues working with the U.S. government to safely and smartly re-open, expect hockey to return at around the same time as basketball.

 

Sports will almost certainly resume at some point this year. There is major optimism surrounding the NFL and college football beginning as usual this fall. Hopefully the MLB, NBA, and NHL can start up soon and give the United States and the world more hope as we work to defeat COVID-19.

Sports Will Be Back, And It Will Bring Us Together

Sports Will Be Back, And It Will Bring Us Together

Yesterday was supposed to be Major League Baseball’s Opening Day, one of the best sports days on the calendar every year. Instead, because of the COVID-19 outbreak across the globe, there’s a question of whether this baseball season will ever be played. Both the NHL and NBA playoffs were set to start next month, and now that isn’t going to happen, either. Even the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have been postponed to sometime next year.

 

Fantasy leagues and drafts from three of the four major American sports leagues have also been impacted as the world feels what it’s like without sports in the United States and around the world. Whether it’s due to the virus, financial issues, or the boredom of being stuck at home with no sports to watch every evening, millions of people are struggling in some way.

 

If there is any good that can be taken from the coronavirus pandemic, it’s that we are learning not to take things for granted. Aside from cleaner air and a cleaner earth overall, which will hopefully stay that way when we beat the coronavirus, we should also find a new value in our beloved sporting events.

 

When sports do return—hopefully in a matter of weeks—it will be a momentous moment of triumph and togetherness. Whenever MLB’s 2020 Opening Day occurs (and we need to have faith that it will happen at some point), the National Anthem and announcement of the starting lineups will highlight a newfound pride in the ability to go to a ballgame or flip it on via television.

 

The NHL and NBA playoffs should be as entertaining as ever, and a late NBA Finals, for example, could be a blessing in disguise if the entire NBA season is moved back. An annual August Finals just ahead of the return of football could be a lot of fun. And let’s not entertain the idea of no football this year—we need to believe that will not come close to happening.

 

Sports can and will help bring the country together in a time when we need it. Politics should be put aside as everyone—even non-sports fans—can at least appreciate the return and the presence of some of the world’s athletic pastimes.

 

So the next time you’re watching Mike Trout smash a baseball or Tom Brady, who is nearing the end of his career, throw a pass, be thankful that we get to watch it happen. Or if you’re playing a sport—from Little League to a pickup game to the big leagues—don’t take the ability to play a game with others for granted.

 

This pandemic will end, and people are going to love and appreciate sports, the world, and freedom in general more than ever when it happens.

White Wolf Changes Its Name To Wolf Sports

White Wolf Changes Its Name To Wolf Sports

White Wolf today announced its new name is Wolf Sports. The name change emphasizes the focus on sports, while keeping the same distinctiveness and loyalty to readers. A primary goal of Wolf Sports has always been to have people think for themselves and to not treat them like sheep. Our new company name continues to reflect that.

 

Wolf Sports’ substance will only improve moving forward, headlined by our unique NFL, NFL Draft, and fantasy football content. The new name will not affect previously existing accounts on the site, and no users or readers have to worry about big changes aside from getting used to Wolf Sports instead of the White Wolf name.

 

Fantasy Consigliere remains an integral part of Wolf Sports, with exclusive rankings, cheat sheets, analytics, projections, betting advice, a personal Consigliere Counsel, and more. You can sign up here to Join The Pack if you are not already a member.

 

While our chief focus is on football and fantasy football, Wolf Sports will continue delivering content from all around the sports world and into the realms of entertainment and technology. You can follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

The Best Sports Teams Of The Decade (2010-2019)

The Best Sports Teams Of The Decade (2010-2019)

Our countdown of some of the top things of the decade concludes with the best sports teams from the 2010s.

 

Athletes of the decade

Sports moments of the decade

Movies of the decade

TV shows of the decade

 

10. 2019 Washington Nationals

The overall regular season record was not exceptional for this year’s Nationals, as the team did not win their division and got into the MLB postseason as a wild card team. But when the postseason hit, Washington toppled a 106-win Dodgers team and a 107-win Astros team for their first World Series title. After a slow start, the Nats had the best record in baseball since May 24, and they had an all-around squad led by three top-tier starters and a deep, potent lineup.

 

9. 2018 Boston Red Sox

There were a number of worthy MLB teams among the decade’s best, but the 2018 Red Sox take the crown as the top team over the past ten years. Boston won 108 games during the regular season despite playing in a stacked American League with another 100-win team (the Yankees) in the division, and then they got through the playoffs with relative ease despite playing three heavyweights in the Yankees, Astros, and Dodgers, going 11-3 in that world championship stretch.

 

8. 2013 Seattle Seahawks

The 2013 Seahawks were the first team since the legendary 1985 Chicago Bears to lead the NFL in points allowed (231), yards allowed (4,378), and takeaways (39), and the unit is thought to be one of the greatest defenses in league history. Led by a brash, star-filled group that included Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Bobby Wagner, Kam Chancellor, and Malcolm Smith on defense, with Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch commanding the offense, Seattle’s destruction of a Peyton Manning-led Broncos team in Super Bowl XLVIII sealed their place among the best teams of the 2010s.

 

7. 2012 Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama football won four national championships during the decade, including two in the College Football Playoff; but their best two teams might have been from 2011 and 2012 during the BCS era. The Crimson Tide team from 2012 took a step up offensively under a more-experienced A.J. McCarron at quarterback while adding an explosive 1,000-yard freshman receiver in Amari Cooper, and the group returned four starting offensive linemen from the previous championship season. Bama’s lone loss was to magician-like Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, but Alabama blew out Notre Dame in the title game.

 

6. 2012-2013 Miami Heat

The “Big Three” of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh took some time to click, but it all came together following their first title, as the Heat became one of the best teams in NBA history during the 2012-2013 campaign. James won league MVP, and the supporting cast including the great Ray Allen—whose shot in Game 6 of the Finals is one of the most memorable of all-time—all played their roles to perfection. Miami had a couple of tough battles against the Pacers and Spurs in the postseason, but they won 27 consecutive games during the regular season (the second most in a season in history) of a year capped with a second straight championship.

 

5. 2011-2012 Kentucky Wildcats

John Calipari has had some talented Kentucky rosters during his tenure at the school, but his 2011-2012 team was the most accomplished of any, with a 38-2 mark and a national title. The 38 wins broke a record for most in a single season in NCAA Men’s Division I history. Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (the top two picks in the NBA Draft following their one year in college), and Marquis Teague were three top freshman in the starting five, and AD and MKG helped the team record the most blocks in NCAA history. The Wildcats lost in the SEC Tournament Championship, but they got through a tough path in the NCAA Tournament and beat Kansas in the final.

 

4. 2014 New England Patriots

The 2016 Patriots (the season with the Super Bowl LII comeback against the Falcons) are also in the mix among the decade’s best sports teams, but the 2014 Patriots were probably the best of the three Super Bowl champions for New England since 2010. The previously mentioned Seahawks were looking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, but the Patriots rallied in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLIX and shut down a potential dynasty while winning their first title in ten years. Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski were on the field for the championship, making the Tom Brady-led offense incredibly difficult to stop; and shutdown cornerback Darrelle Revis gave Bill Belichick a fun chess piece to work with on defense.

 

3. 2019 USWNT

The loss in the 2016 Olympics was stunning, but the USWNT had a couple of teams that could have been considered among the best of the decade for their 2015 and 2019 World Cup victories. The dominance from the start for the U.S. in this year’s World Cup—a record-breaking 13-0 victory against Thailand, including five goals from Alex Morgan—while being chased as the previous tournament’s champion makes them one of the top teams from the 2010s. The 2019 USWNT had just one loss all year (their first game of 2019) and felt like the squad was always in full control on the pitch.

 

2. 2016-2017 Golden State Warriors

The Warriors were already a dynasty, but adding former NBA MVP Kevin Durant was something you probably couldn’t even pull off in the NBA 2K video games, and it made Golden State nearly a cheat code in real life. The lineup of Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala was basically unstoppable, and the team went an NBA-record 16-1 in the postseason—and a record (in any of the four major American professional team sports) 15-0 to begin a postseason—following a 67-15 regular season.

 

1. 2018 Clemson Tigers

Dabo Swinney built up Clemson’s college football program, and it simply got better and better by the year to the point where they completely dominated last season, becoming the first program to go 15-0 since Penn all the way back in 1897. Freshman phenom quarterback Trevor Lawrence looked like a four-year starter given his poise while leading a stacked offense with star running back Travis Etienne and a talented receiving corps; and the defensive line was sensational, with Dexter Lawrence, Clelin Ferrell, Austin Bryant, and returning senior Christian Wilkins (who easily could have been a first-round pick in the NFL Draft if he left school) powering an elite defense. The Tigers were the first ever unbeaten College Football Playoff champion, and they are our pick for best team of the decade.

The Best Athletes Of The Decade (2010-2019)

The Best Athletes Of The Decade (2010-2019)

Tomorrow is the final day of the decade, and today we are celebrating with the top athletes from 2010-2019. A number of exceptional athletes missed the cut, with some names that missed the list sprinkled throughout below. The main accomplishments shown for each athlete are from this decade only.

 

10. Novak Djokovic

Main accomplishments:

*15 total Grand Slams

*6x Australian Open winner (2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019)

*5x Wimbledon winner (2011, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019)

*3x U.S. Open winner (2011, 2015, 2018)

*1x French Open winner (2016)

*4x Tour Finals (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)

 

Usain Bolt was the closest athlete to just miss the cut, but Novak Djokovic grabs the No. 10 spot. The beginning of the decade was superb for Djokovic, as he went 10-1 against Rodger Federer and Rafael Nadal (both of whom also could have been on this list) and won three Grand Slams (Australian Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open) during the 2011 season. Djokovic also won all three of those tournaments in 2015 before completing a career Grand Slam by winning the French Open the next year.

 

9. Sidney Crosby

Main accomplishments:

*2x Stanley Cup champion (2016, 2017)

*2x Olympic gold medalist (2010, 2014)

*1x Hart Memorial Trophy (2014)

*2x Ted Lindsay Award (2013, 2014)

*1x Art Ross Trophy (2014)

*2x Maurice Richard Trophy (2010, 2017)

*3x NHL First All-Star Team (2013, 2014, 2016)

 

Alexander Ovechkin and Patrick Kane both have a case for the best NHL players of the past decade, but Sidney Crosby was able to add back-to-back Stanley Cup titles to his resume, along with a couple of Olympic gold medals. Crosby finishes with the second most points of the decade despite missing a chunk of action from 2010-2012 due to injury.

 

8. Michael Phelps

Main accomplishments:

*9x Olympic gold medalist (2012, 2016)

*3x Olympic silver medalist (2012, 2016)

*4x FINA World Championship (2011)

*8x Pan Pacific Swimming Championship (2010, 2014)

 

Michael Phelps was more dominant in the previous decade when he set a bunch of world records as a dominant swimmer, but he added nine more gold medals in the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, becoming the most decorated Olympian in history, finishing with 23 gold medals for his career.

 

7. Kawhi Leonard

Main accomplishments:

*2x NBA champion (2014, 2019)

*2x NBA Finals MVP (2014, 2019)

*2x NBA Defensive Player of the Year (2015, 2016)

*2x All-NBA First team (2016, 2017)

*1x NBA All-Rookie First Team (2012)

 

Because he doesn’t say much or bring attention to himself, Kawhi Leonard flies far under the radar among the world’s top athletes, but he’s a two-time NBA champion that won it all against two “superteams.” Leonard—an elite defender, which should be taken into account more than it is—was one of the top clutch performers in sports over the past several years, and he basically ended two dynasties with his play. Also, in college at the beginning of the decade, Leonard led his San Diego State team to a 34-3 record and a Sweet 16 appearance (losing to the eventual national champions, UConn) in his final season.

 

6. LeBron James

Main accomplishments:

*3x NBA champion (2012, 2013, 2016)

*1x Olympic gold medalist (2012)

*3x NBA Most Valuable Player (2010, 2012, 2013)

*3x NBA Finals MVP (2012, 2013, 2016)

*9x All-NBA First team (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)

*4x NBA All-Defensive First team (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013)

 

The consistency of LeBron James is what has him ranked as the top basketball player of the decade. Jumping around to three different teams—including a Miami Heat superteam—knocks him down a peg among the overall athletes, but there is little question James belongs in the top ten after his prime seasons occurred in the past ten years.

 

5. Serena Williams

Main accomplishments:

*16 total Grand Slams

*12 Grand Slam singles

*4 Grand Slam doubles

*2x Olympic gold medalist (2012)

*4x Wimbledon winner, singles (2010, 2012, 2015, 2016)

*3x Australian Open winner, singles (2010, 2015, 2017)

*3x U.S. Open winner, singles (2012, 2013, 2014)

*2x French Open winner, singles (2013, 2015)

*2x Wimbledon winner, doubles (2012, 2016)

*1x Australian Open winner, doubles (2010)

*1x French Open winner, doubles (2010)

*3x Tour Finals (2012, 2013, 2014)

 

Despite playing most of the decade in her 30s, Serena Williams continued to rack up Grand Slam titles in both singles and doubles formats, along with a couple of Olympic gold medals in 2012. Williams’ last major title was in 2017 at the Australian Open, but her supremacy in women’s tennis was clear over the past ten years.

 

4. Simone Biles

Main accomplishments:

*4x Olympic gold medalist (2016)

*1x Olympic bronze medalist (2016)

*19x World Championships gold (2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019)

*2x Pacific Rim Championships gold (2016)

 

22 years old and already considered by many as the greatest gymnast ever, Simone Biles has already become the most decorated athlete in her sport in world championship history, taking home an insane 19 golds (25 world medals total) starting in 2013. A member of the “Final Five” at the 2016 Olympics, Biles won four gold medals in Rio, and the transcendent American will look to add to her total in 2020.

 

3. Carli Lloyd

Main accomplishments:

*2x World Cup champion (2015, 2019)

*1x Olympic gold medalist (2012)

*2x CONCACAF champion (2014, 2018)

*2x FIFA Player of the Year (2015, 2016)

*1x World Cup Golden Ball (2015)

*1x CONCACAF Player of the Year (2015)

*1x. U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year (2015)

 

In the biggest moments, you could count on Carli Lloyd making a big play for the U.S. Women’s National Team like she did in two major titles in 2012 and 2015. In 2012, she scored both goals in the USWNT’s gold medal win over Japan in the Olympics; and the 2015 World Cup was complete domination from Lloyd, who captained the squad and scored a hat trick in the first 16 minutes of the final, including a mind-boggling shot from major distance. Similar to Serena Williams in tennis—while no one would assert the women are better than the men if they competed against each other—many people probably immediately thought of Lloyd instead of Ronaldo or Messi when asked for the best soccer player in the world around 2015. Alex Morgan gets an honorable mention behind Lloyd.

 

2. Mike Trout

Main accomplishments:

*3x AL MVP (2014, 2016, 2019)

*7x AL Silver Slugger Award (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019)

*2x AL Hank Aaron Award (2014, 2019)

*1x AL Rookie of the Year (2012)

*1x All-MLB First Team (2019)

 

Some people already regard 28-year-old Mike Trout as the best baseball player in history given the Angels star’s legitimate five-tool ability on the diamond. Built like an NFL running back, Trout’s top-notch athleticism translates into superiority of skill, and the Millville, New Jersey native is remarkably consistent, with a case for American League MVP every season he’s on the field. The only thing missing for Trout from the decade was a championship, but he did numerous things that hadn’t been done before him and had an historic first 1,000 games in the majors.

 

1. Tom Brady

Main accomplishments:

*3x Super Bowl champion (XLIX, LI, LIII)

*2x NFL MVP (2010, 2017)

*2x Super Bowl MVP (XLIX, LI)

*2x First-team All-Pro (2010, 2017)

*1x NFL Offensive Player of the Year (2010)

 

If asked back before the start of this decade, conventional wisdom would say that the previous ten years (three Super Bowls, a 50-touchdown undefeated regular season, etc.) probably would have been Tom Brady’s best. But Brady simply got even better from 2010-2019, reaching uncommon mastery of his job as the quarterback of the New England Patriots. In the decade, Brady went 122-39 in the regular season and 14-6 in the postseason, with five more Super Bowl appearances and three more championships while winning the division every year. At the end of games with a title on the line, it almost feels like a lock that Brady will make the right decisions and lead his team to victory—he had two iconic comeback wins in Super Bowl XLIX and Super Bowl LII, and he was at the top of the sport all decade while not missing any games aside from his sham four-game suspension.

The Best Sports Moments Of The Decade (2010-2019)

The Best Sports Moments Of The Decade (2010-2019)

Sports are filled with moments of heartbreak, triumph, and redemption that aren’t easy to find elsewhere. Many great moments missed the cut, but these are our top sports moments of the decade from 2010-2019.

 

10. Mayweather-McGregor (2017)

 

 

In terms of pure hype and anticipation, the fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor might have been the biggest sporting event of the 2010s. McGregor held his own in his first boxing match, and Mayweather improved to an immaculate 50-0 in “The Biggest Fight in Combat Sports History”.

 

9. Clemson tops Alabama to win national title (2017)

 

 

Dabo Swinney had been building up Clemson’s college football program, and the CFP National Championship Game in 2017 brought the Tigers to the level of any school in the nation. Deshaun Watson hit Hunter Renfrow for the game-winner in Clemson’s first title win since 1981.

 

8. Cubs end World Series drought (2016)

 

 

It took the Chicago Cubs 108 years, but the perfect team came together for a world championship that was over a century in the making—and it fittingly happened in a Game 7.

 

7. Villanova wins national title on Kris Jenkins’ buzzer beater (2017)

 

 

It does not get much better than hitting a buzzer beater to win a championship, and Kris Jenkins had ice in his veins on a deep game-winning three as time expired in the Villanova Wildcats’ victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels in 2016.

 

6. Eagles pull off “Philly Special”, win first Super Bowl (2018)

 

 

Led by Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, everything clicked for the Philadelphia Eagles in the postseason following the 2017 season, and the franchise won its first Super Bowl title, sparked by the memorable “Philly Special” play in the first half against the New England Patriots.

 

5. “Kick Six” (2013)

 

 

Nick Saban’s Alabama teams had four national titles in the decade, but unfortunately, they fall on the wrong side of a couple of the top moments from the 2010s. The “Kick Six” capped an awesome Iron Bowl in 2013, with the Auburn Tigers stunning the Crimson Tide on a 109-yard returned field goal for a touchdown by Chris Davis Jr. as time expired.

 

4. Tiger Woods wins the 2019 Masters (2019)

 

 

Tiger Woods was reeling from his personal issues at the start of the decade, and then he struggled to stay healthy for much of the decade. But the all-time great golfer completed his story of redemption with a fit-for-Hollywood story by winning the 2019 Masters for his first major championship in 11 years.

 

3. Michael Phelps sets Olympic record for medals (2012)

 

 

In the long and storied history of the Olympic Games, no athlete has won more medals than Michael Phelps, who set the Olympic record with his 19th medal in 2012. Phelps added to the total in the 2016 Games, and the now-retired swimmer has 28 medals.

 

2. Malcolm Butler seals Super Bowl XLIX with goal-line interception (2015)

 

 

The end of Super Bowl XLIX was playing out like a chess match—no one wants to give credit to Bill Belichick for not calling a timeout, instead making the clock run so that the Seattle Seahawks had no choice but to pass at least once on their final three opportunities. The Seahawks tried to catch Belichick’s defense with a quick pass at the goal line, but cornerback Malcolm Butler stepped in for the interception in a sudden, jaw-dropping end to seal another championship for the New England Patriots.

 

1. Patriots come back from 28-3 to win Super Bowl LI (2017)

 

 

With 8:36 remaining in the third quarter of Super Bowl LI, the Atlanta Falcons led the New England Patriots by a score of 28-3. The largest comeback in Super Bowl history was ten points (accomplished three times), so it did not seem likely that the Pats would get back into the game. But Tom Brady and company had other plans, as defense made key plays—like the Dont’a Hightower strip sack—and the offense became legitimately unstoppable down the stretch as the franchise won its fifth championship in unforgettable fashion in the first overtime Super Bowl in NFL history.

XFL Releases Uniforms For All Eight Teams

XFL Releases Uniforms For All Eight Teams

The XFL has released its official uniforms for each of its eight franchises, and the uniforms are inspired by the cities that represent each team. The league logo can be found in the exact same spot on the upper right front shoulder/torso area for every jersey, but each uniform has a distinctive look and color scheme to differentiate between squads. As is typically the case for most football teams, the colored and black jerseys are for home uniforms, while the white are for away uniforms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With eight teams scattered around the country, many fans might go by team name, logo, color scheme, and uniform design when selecting their favorite XFL team. Feel free to share your thoughts about your favorite uniform in the comment section below!

 

The XFL kicks off in 2020 following the Super Bowl.

Top Ten Tuesday: Halloween Candy 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Halloween Candy 2019

For the final Top Ten Tuesday of October, there might be some controversy (particularly at No. 8), but our candy ranking concludes the Halloween month of TTT’s—following up the best movies to stream, shows to stream, Halloween songs, and costume ideas.

 

10. Skittles

Most of the candy that makes the list is chocolate-based, but a fruity option needs to be thrown in, and Skittles got the edge over Starburst and Nerds. Just be wary of the “rotten zombie” flavor for those that buy the Halloween edition.

 

9. Twix

As George Costanza once said, “Twix is the only candy with the cookie crunch,” and that uniqueness gives it a spot on the list.

 

8. Candy Corn

Most seem to believe that candy corn is an abomination that should be wiped off the face of the Earth, but I disagree. While you shouldn’t eat it by the handful, candy corn is great when eating a few pieces at a time.

 

7. 3 Musketeers

Nougat inside chocolate doesn’t have widespread popularity (people either like it or don’t), but 3 Musketeers has the formula perfected with a whipped/fluffy interior that can melt in your mouth.

 

6. Hershey’s Special Dark

A case could be made for this being more of a Christmas candy, but kids and adults alike should have no complaints if offered a piece of “Special Dark” chocolate this Halloween.

 

5. Butterfinger

Personal preference will certainly change things for everyone, but the top five is pretty much locked in as all classics. Butterfinger’s crispy peanut butter core provides a good change up compared to other popular candy.

 

4. Snickers

Snickers is holding it down for all candy bars that include nuts, which could be a selling point for those who want to be somewhat health conscious around Halloween. It can also help you not play football like Betty White.

 

3. M&M’s

I certainly wouldn’t argue about people putting M&M’s in the No. 1 spot, as the variety is unbeatable when you consider there is regular, dark, peanut, caramel, pretzel, mint, etc., so there’s something for everyone (if you like chocolate).

 

2. Kit Kat

“Break me off a piece of that… I am totally blanking. What is the thing?” – Andy Bernard

 

1. Reese’s

Reese’s has some versatility, but the simple peanut butter cup is the best of the best. For kids that gather all their candy together and made trades, Reese’s would probably be considered an “untouchable.”

Top Ten Tuesday: Halloween Costume Ideas 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Halloween Costume Ideas 2019

Ahead of Halloween weekend, we’re counting down the top costumes for 2019. If you missed spooky movies to stream, spooky shows to stream, or the top Halloween songs, check them out, too.

 

10. A character from Friends or Seinfeld

 

Sony

 

Both classic sitcoms enjoyed anniversaries this year, so for those who need a last-minute idea, now might be a good time to bring out your best ‘90s clothing to be anyone from Friends’ Rachel to Seinfeld’s Newman.

 

9. Woody

 

Disney

 

Toy Story 4 was predictably another hit for the franchise, and you can’t go wrong with a retread by dusting off the cowboy hat and boots to dress up as Woody this Halloween.

 

8. Captain Price

 

Activision

 

Whether you used to be or still are a gamer, Captain Price is a great choice as perhaps the most legendary character in the Call of Duty series, and the new game releases on Friday.

 

7. Dr. Manhattan

 

Warner Bros.

 

You might need a professional to do the blue body/face paint to avoid looking like Tobias from Arrested Development, but with HBO’s Watchmen just premiering a couple of days ago, the all-powerful Dr. Manhattan should be a hit at a party with people that know the character.

 

6. Gardner Minshew

 

ESPN

 

Minshew Mania has taken the NFL by storm this season, and the Jaguars’ sixth-round rookie will likely be one of the most popular costume ideas of 2019, which has to be pretty surreal for him.

 

5. Jesse Pinkman

 

Netflix

 

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie was basically an epilogue for Jesse, and fans of Breaking Bad could go out as any version of Walter White’s sidekick that they want, including (*spoiler alert for El Camino*) the turtleneck attire from the end of the movie for a wintry look.

 

4. Kylo Ren (or any Star Wars character)

 

Disney

 

The Skywalker saga will end this holiday season with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and Kylo Ren—the last known surviving member of the family—is a conflicted villain that fans can pull off either with or without the mask.

 

3. Jon Snow (or any Game of Thrones character)

 

HBO

 

Game of Thrones will forever be an iconic show that can be used as a Halloween costume every year, but since it ended in the spring, now is a great time to be Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, or any number of fan-favorites.

 

2. Cliff Booth or Rick Dalton or Sharon Tate

 

Sony Pictures Entertainment

 

Quentin Tarantino’s latest film—Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood—brilliantly merged reality with fiction, and it wouldn’t take much effort to be Brad Pitt’s Cliff Booth, Leonardo DiCaprio’s Rick Dalton, or Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate (the only real person of the three), as all of them had a distinct style that would be instantly recognizable.

 

1. Joker

 

Warner Bros.

 

Every year, the Clown Prince of Crime is one of the most popular costumes for adults and kids alike, but we obviously have a new version after Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal in Joker. “Send in the clowns.”

Top Ten Tuesday: All-Time Best Popsicle Flavors

Top Ten Tuesday: All-Time Best Popsicle Flavors

Popsicle Double Pops are making a return thanks to one hundred thousand retweets on a tweet promising to bring them back. In honor of the return of Double Pops, this week’s Top Ten Tuesday goes over the best Popsicle flavors throughout the years. This includes flavors that have since been discontinued, and it ranks them based on the height of their runs (you can make the argument that, like many things, the quality has declined over the years).

 

10. Pop Ups

The Big Stick, Lick-A-Color, orange flavor, white pops (with mystery flavor), and Scribblers are among the other notable Popsicles not to make the list, but Pop Ups get the No. 10 on the list. “Push-Up Pops” are a Nestle product, but that’s what the Popsicle version tends to go by anyway. Both deliver fruity flavor in a softer, sherbert-like form.

 

9. Banana

 

 

This hasn’t gotten as much recognition as the 100K+ RT tweet bringing back the Double Pop, but 100K retweets on this tweet will also bring the banana flavor back. Banana is a good mix up from the traditional Popsicle flavors.

 

8. Spider-Man

 

 

The Spider-Man Popsicle is still around, but you’ll need to find an ice cream truck to get your hands on one. The frozen gumballs for the eyes aren’t great, but the strawberry and lemon combination of the actual pop part is fantastic.

 

7. Cyclone

 

 

The old classic Popsicle Cyclone is difficult to find these days, and reviews indicate they don’t make them like they used to. At their peak, the Cyclone came in different flavors, and they provide a different texture in the swirly design.

 

6. Cherry

 

 

In a Twitter poll by the official Popsicle account, Cherry is dominating the vote among four flavors for the one people want to see first from the Double Pop. Thus, the traditional flavor that turns mouths red undoubtedly earns a spot in the top ten.

 

5. Firecracker

 

 

So Popsicle’s Firecrackers are a rip-off of Blue Bunny’s Bomb Pop, but you can’t go wrong with either one. The cherry, white lemon, and blue raspberry flavored Firecrackers are ideal for hot summer days perhaps more than any other Popsicle.

 

4. Fudge

 

 

The branding technically changes to “Fudgsicle” for Popsicle’s fudge pops, but it’s obviously the same company and falls under the criteria for this Top Ten Tuesday. The original “fudge bars” are a little thicker if you go with them, so that gives Fudgsicles a boost.

 

3. Grape

 

 

Grape is not doing well in the aforementioned Popsicle Twitter poll, but it’s right there with cherry among the classic straightforward flavors. For sugar-free, grape isn’t close to as good, which is why some people might hold it in lower regard.

 

2. Root Beer

 

 

While banana was given a 100K RT opportunity by Popsicle, the Root Beer flavor is what the masses really appear to be clamoring for. Root beer floats are nice on a summer day, and the flavored Popsicle is a quick, cheap, and convenient to get a similar flavor. These would be best if they’re brought back in the bar form like Fudgsicles are offered.

 

1. Creamsicle

 

 

The Creamsicle is a prime example of things not being made like they used to. Both size and consistency of the cream bars are unpredictable now, but back in their heyday, Creamsicles were the best of the best from “The Original Brand” of colored ice on a stick.

Kawhi Watch: NBA Star Among Best Free Agents In Sports History

Kawhi Watch: NBA Star Among Best Free Agents In Sports History

As the United States celebrates the Fourth of July, there’s a lot of attention north of the border on Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard. Free-agents like this don’t become available often, and these are the greatest free agents of all-time. The NFL is in the mix, too, but the NHL is probably the league where an entire team is most important, and no hockey players made this list. To note, Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer (the former signing with the Devils and the latter leaving the Devils) are among the best free agents to become available in NHL history.

 

Peyton Manning

It was unprecedented for a franchise quarterback like Peyton Manning to become available on the open market, and a similar situation isn’t likely to happen again. When Manning missed an entire season with a neck injury and it was unclear if he’d play again or be the same, the Colts went 2-14 and received the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, with the opportunity to select generational quarterback prospect Andrew Luck. Indy went with Luck, and they released Manning, making the future first-ballot Hall of Famer an unrestricted free agent. Manning is arguably a top-three quarterback of all-time, and his position is the most important in sports, so he’s probably the best free agent in the history of sports. It worked out for the Broncos, as they went to two Super Bowls and won one with Manning at the helm.

 

Reggie White

In a league that didn’t pass nearly as much as it does today, Reggie White still managed to put up mind-boggling sack numbers from the moment he arrived with the Eagles after the USFL folded. White had sack totals of 13, 18, 21, 18, 11, 14, 15, and 14 in his eight seasons in Philadelphia, for 124 sacks before he hit free agency, which is absolutely absurd. The Eagles decided not to pay White as a free agent, so he went to the Packers on a four-year, $17 million contract. Arguably the greatest defensive player in NFL history, White recorded another 68.5 sacks in six seasons with Green Bay, and like Manning, he won a Super Bowl with his new team.

 

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard just turned 28 years old, and he already has two championships and two NBA Finals MVP awards with two different franchises. He doesn’t get the publicity of a LeBron James, but his decision as a free-agent is arguably more critical for the NBA from an on-court perspective. Whichever team Leonard signs with will likely be the title favorite for the 2019-2020 season, and if he takes the path of LeBron and joins a superteam, the Lakers will be nearly unbeatable for the next few years.

 

Barry Bonds

Many people remember Barry Bonds for the steroid-enhanced seasons with the Giants, but he was an elite five-tool player that was easily on track for Cooperstown during his first seven MLB seasons with the Pirates. As a free agent at age 27, Bonds already had 176 career home runs and 251 career stolen bases, with a .275 average and .380 on-base percentage. His best baseball was ahead of him regardless of future steroid use, and his $43.8 million contract with the Giants was the most in MLB history at the time. Bonds is the only player listed here not to win a championship after signing elsewhere in free agency, but he became Major League Baseball’s all-time home run leader.

 

LeBron James

Last year’s free agent decision by LeBron James wasn’t quite as impactful as the first two, and he felt he had unfinished business at home in Cleveland and seemed to be going there no matter what for his second decision. But LeBron’s 2010 decision (actually titled “The Decision” in the special that aired on ESPN when he announced his intention to join the Heat) was monumental for the NBA. James was just 25 years old and was arguably the best player in the league, so he might have been the best free agent of all-time to have prime years left to build a franchise around.

 

Greg Maddux

After finding his footing the first two years of his big-league career with the Cubs, Greg Maddux won at least 15 games in his next five seasons, but he was coming off his best season—including his second All-Star appearance, 20 wins, a 2.18 ERA, and a Cy Young award—in 1992, the year before he hit free agency. Maddux was also a superb fielder as a pitcher (he has a record 18 Gold Glove awards), and there probably isn’t a better player at his position to ever hit free agency. Maddux would sign with the Braves and win three more Cy Young awards in a row his first three seasons in Atlanta.

 

Shaquille O’Neal

Shaquille O’Neal was a dominant true center in his first four seasons with the Magic, but he was apparently low-balled by the franchise in a move that had major ramifications for the NBA. At just 24 years old, Shaq was a Rookie of the Year, a three-time All-NBA player, an MVP runner-up, a scoring leader, and a player that had been to a Finals. Back in the NBA of the 90s, big men were critically important, and Shaq was arguably the best by far and was yet to enter his prime (no disrespect to Hakeem Olajuwon, who was in his mid 30s at the time). O’Neal won three Finals MVPs with the Lakers after signing with Los Angeles.

 

Deion Sanders

The super-athletic Deion Sanders was one of the best draft prospects in history, and he earned the nickname “Primetime” with electric plays on defense and in the return game after he was selected fifth overall by the Falcons in 1989. After being named a First-team All-Pro in his final three seasons with Atlanta, Sanders hit free agency as a shutdown cornerback, was named an All-Pro for a fourth straight year, and won a Super Bowl in his lone season with the Niners, then hit free agency again. It was coined the “Deion Sweepstakes”, and the Cowboys won it, getting another four All-Pro seasons out of Deion and a Super Bowl in their first year together. Years later, cornerback Darrelle Revis also became a big-time free-agent player at his position, earning over $100 million in his career.

Summer Is Here: Best Backyard Games To Play This Season

Summer Is Here: Best Backyard Games To Play This Season

It’s summer! The longest day of the year delivers plenty of sunlight, and there’ll be a lot of time for outdoor fun these next few months. Whether you’re looking to kill some time on the weekend with a few friends or want to offer a selection of games during a backyard party, these are the best backyard games to play this summer.

 

Kan Jam

Kan Jam has been around since the 1980s, but it’s exploded in popularity in recent years and can really energize a backyard bash or a tailgate. The rules for the frisbee-toss game are straightforward, and it’s easy for most people to play once they get the hang of throwing a frisbee. It’s one point for a deflection that hits the can, two points for a direct hit of the can, and three points for slamming the frisbee into the top; and because of the automatic win for slotting the frisbee directly into the can, it’s not over until it’s over. Instead of buying a Kan Jam set (which costs around $40), you can also build the game yourself using old recycle or garbage cans and a regular frisbee.

 

Volleyball

You’ll need at least six-to-eight people to play volleyball, but buying a set can be relatively inexpensive if you go the route of an easy-install plastic net. It can be difficult for little kids to play, but you can obviously go lenient on the rules and allow them to double-hit (or allow more than three hits before it has to get over the net to the other team) to make it an enjoyable game for everyone. Just be careful of putting athletes that might take the game a little too seriously with youngsters or unathletic people that might have trouble avoiding a spike.

 

Cornhole

Perhaps more commonly known as bean-bag toss or sack toss today, cornhole is a mainstay at tailgates because it isn’t really dangerous with plastic resin bags being tossed at low velocity (a frisbee like used in Kan Jam could potentially cause some damage to people if it slips away). Cancellation scoring (so if your team scores four points and the other team scores three points, the total for the round is a net gain of one point for your team) adds another element to the game.

 

Wiffle Ball

Like volleyball, you’ll need a few people to play wiffle ball, but the variation on the timeless “stick and ball” game isn’t too difficult for most people to pick up—just keep your eye on the ball. Wiffle ball is probably better for kids than it is adults, but everyone can still join in on the fun for an inning or two.

 

Ladder Toss

Ladder toss (or ladder golf) is probably easier to play with just two people for a one-on-one match than cornhole, but it’s similar to most backyard games in that it goes to 21 points. The cancellation scoring is also used in ladder toss, and you can play in teams (by alternating each turn with a teammate) if you want.

 

Pool Basketball

Unless you’re staying at a hotel with an indoor pool and net or you’re lucky enough to have an indoor pool, this game is a quintessential summer game because it can only be played in the summer. Pool basketball is typically reserved for younger people looking to move around a lot, but you can also play a game of horse while cooling off in the pool instead of playing on hot pavement. Also, many people are able to dunk in the pool when they can’t come close to doing so on an official ten-foot net outside the pool, so that’s a major bonus.

 

Horseshoes

Quoits is another longtime traditional option for a backyard game, but horseshoes is closely related. This is more of a mature game reserved for adults or older youths that can handle a heavy metal horseshoe. And you can use the term “ringer” in horseshoes, which is pretty cool.

 

Giant Jenga

You’ll have to keep a close watch so that the blocks don’t all fall atop a small child, but people of almost all ages can get involved in Giant Jenga. A cute Labrador puppy was even able to get involved and get a tough block out during a Jenga game last month:

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Books To Read This Summer

Top Ten Tuesday: Books To Read This Summer

Summer officially begins in just a few days, and many people will spend some of their free time reading outside or at the beach. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday goes over some of the hottest novels to read this summer. The list slants toward newer novels instead of classics like The Great Gatsby and To Kill A Mockingbird, and all quoted recaps are via Amazon.com.

 

10. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Ranked No. 10 because most of the list is newer novels, but with the HBO original series Game of Thrones over, now might be a good time to give the A Song of Ice and Fire series the show was based on a try.

 

“Winter is coming. Such is the stern motto of House Stark, the northernmost of the fiefdoms that owe allegiance to King Robert Baratheon in far-off King’s Landing. There Eddard Stark of Winterfell rules in Robert’s name. There his family dwells in peace and comfort: his proud wife, Catelyn; his sons Robb, Brandon, and Rickon; his daughters Sansa and Arya; and his bastard son, Jon Snow. Far to the north, behind the towering Wall, lie savage Wildings and worse—unnatural things relegated to myth during the centuries-long summer, but proving all too real and all too deadly in the turning of the season.

 

Yet a more immediate threat lurks to the south, where Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King, has died under mysterious circumstances. Now Robert is riding north to Winterfell, bringing his queen, the lovely but cold Cersei, his son, the cruel, vainglorious Prince Joffrey, and the queen’s brothers Jaime and Tyrion of the powerful and wealthy House Lannister—the first a swordsman without equal, the second a dwarf whose stunted stature belies a brilliant mind. All are heading for Winterfell and a fateful encounter that will change the course of kingdoms.

 

Meanwhile, across the Narrow Sea, Prince Viserys, heir of the fallen House Targaryen, which once ruled all of Westeros, schemes to reclaim the throne with an army of barbarian Dothraki—whose loyalty he will purchase in the only coin left to him: his beautiful yet innocent sister, Daenerys.”

 

9. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Published this year, this new psychological thriller said to [mini spoiler alert] have a major twist.

 

“Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

 

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

 

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations―a search for the truth that threatens to consume him….”

 

8. Thin Air by Lisa Gray

Author Lisa Gray creates a small-town cast of characters with a great backstory about the main character.

 

“Private investigator Jessica Shaw is used to getting anonymous tips. But after receiving a photo of a three-year-old kidnapped from Los Angeles twenty-five years ago, Jessica is stunned to recognize the little girl as herself.

 

Eager for answers, Jessica heads to LA’s dark underbelly. When she learns that her biological mother was killed the night she was abducted, Jessica’s determined to solve a case the police have forgotten. Meanwhile, veteran LAPD detective Jason Pryce is in the midst of a gruesome investigation into a murdered college student moonlighting as a prostitute. A chance encounter leads to them crossing paths, but Jessica soon realizes that Pryce is hiding something about her father’s checkered history and her mother’s death.

 

To solve her mother’s murder and her own disappearance, Jessica must dig into the past and find the secrets buried there. But the air gets thinner as she crawls closer to the truth, and it’s getting harder and harder to breathe.”

 

7. One Day in December by Josie Silver

For those interested in a warm novel, One Day in December is recommended by the Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club.

 

“Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away.

 

Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.

 

What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.”

 

6. Beneath a Scarlett Sky by Mark Sullivan

Set to become a movie, Beneath a Scarlett Sky is a story of perseverance and triumph.

 

“Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He’s a normal Italian teenager—obsessed with music, food, and girls—but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, and falls for Anna, a beautiful widow six years his senior.

 

In an attempt to protect him, Pino’s parents force him to enlist as a German soldier—a move they think will keep him out of combat. But after Pino is injured, he is recruited at the tender age of eighteen to become the personal driver for Adolf Hitler’s left hand in Italy, General Hans Leyers, one of the Third Reich’s most mysterious and powerful commanders.

 

Now, with the opportunity to spy for the Allies inside the German High Command, Pino endures the horrors of the war and the Nazi occupation by fighting in secret, his courage bolstered by his love for Anna and for the life he dreams they will one day share.

 

Fans of All the Light We Cannot See, The Nightingale, and Unbroken will enjoy this riveting saga of history, suspense, and love.”

 

5. The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

The anticipated debut novel of Daniel Mallory, writing under the pen name A.J. Finn.

 

“Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

 

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, mother, their teenaged son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

 

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.”

 

4. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Reese Witherspoon was also a fan of Little Fires Everywhere, and she and Kerry Washington are starring in a Hulu limited series about the book.

 

“From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives.

 

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned—from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

 

Enter Mia Warren—an enigmatic artist and single mother—who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

 

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town—and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides.  Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

 

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood—and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.

 

Perfect for book clubs! Visit celesteng.com for discussion guides and more.”

 

3. The Nightengale by Kristin Hannah

With over 38,000 reviews on Amazon, Kristin Hannah’s The Nightengale was made into a controversial movie releasing more widely in the United States this summer.

 

“France, 1939 – In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France … but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requisitions Vianne’s home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.

 

Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can … completely. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others.

 

With courage, grace, and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of World War II and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingaletells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France―a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.”

 

2. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Released in 2014, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is an emotional tale that won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

 

“From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the stunningly beautiful instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

 

Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

 

In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.

 

Doerr’s “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle) are dazzling. Ten years in the writing, a National Book Award finalist, All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer “whose sentences never fail to thrill” (Los Angeles Times).”

 

1. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Another 4.8/5.0 on Amazon, Where the Crawdads Sing is the first novel by Delia Owens, and it’s received a ton of love since its 2018 release. Hello Sunshine is making the novel into a movie.

 

“For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

 

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.”

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Moments In U.S. Sports History

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Moments In U.S. Sports History

With the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup kicking off today for the USWNT, now is a good time to take a look back at some of the greatest moments in U.S. sports history. Here are the top ten.

 

10. US Men’s Basketball Refuses Silver

All the moments are American triumphs, and despite Team USA not officially bringing home gold in 1972, most likely agree that this counts as one, too. The US beat the USSR after holding them from scoring in the final seconds (there was even an on-court celebration), but officials basically ignored the international rule that states a timeout can not be called following a free throw, which allowed the Soviets to get another opportunity to win gold. Instead of accepting silver, the United States protested—and the protest stands to this day.

 

9. Team USA Wins First Curling Gold Medal

This wasn’t a huge event that had the entire country watching like basically everything else on the list, but I stayed up until the early-morning hours for the 2018 Winter Olympic Curling Final, which was close throughout until a knockout blow by John Schuster basically sealed things against Sweden. Considering the prior success for Team USA (their best ever finish was bronze in 2006), it was a monumental upset.

 

8. Underdog Rulon Gardner Wins Gold

Speaking of upsets, no one expected unknown wrestler Rulon Gardner to win it all in 2000 Summer Olympics, but he shocked the world by defeating Russian Aleksandr Karelin—who hadn’t lost an international match in 13 years or given up a point in six years—to win gold for the United States.

 

7. Kerri Strug Overcomes Injury

In the 1996 Summer Olympics (which took place in Atlanta), Kerri Strug courageously fought through a significant ankle injury from her first jump in the competition, jumping again—and sticking the landing on basically one leg—to seal gold on the final jump against the favored Russian team. Strug couldn’t compete in the individual events the rest of the way, so it makes her effort to bring home team gold all the more impressive.

 

6. Carli Lloyd Takes Over In 2015 WC Final

The United States was expected to get a very difficult game against Japan in the 2015 Women’s World Cup Final, but the now-legendary Carli Lloyd came out with one of the greatest performances in the history of sports—scoring a hat trick in just 16 minutes. Fans should certainly remember the final of her three goals coming from midfield, and it cemented Lloyd as one of the all-time USWNT greats.

 

5. The Dream Team

The United States men’s Olympic basketball team was represented by non-professionals in 1988, which led to them settling for bronze. But in 1992, things changed, as NBA superstars—headlined by Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, and others—made up the roster of the “Dream Team”, and they absolutely dominated in retribution for ’88. The closest game was a 38-point victory in the semifinal.

 

4. Michael Phelps Wins 8 Gold Medals

Michael Phelps is arguably the greatest Olympian of all-time, and his prime came during the 2008 Summer Olympics when he took home gold a whopping eight times (a world record). United States swimmer Mark Spitz had the previous record for seven gold medals in the 1972 Olympics, and it was awesome to see Phelps top him with the final event being a team 4×100-meter medley relay.

 

3. USWNT Wins 1999 World Cup

It doesn’t get much more intense than a shootout for gold, and Brandi Chastain was able to come up clutch and create an everlasting legacy for herself and women’s soccer by scoring against China on the team’s final kick in the 1999 final. Chastain’s iconic celebration where she ripped off her jersey and went to the ground in joy remains one of the most memorable images in U.S. sports history.

 

2. Jesse Owens Dominates 1936 Olympics

You could say that Jesse Owens had the first ever victory over Hitler and Nazi Germany, as he took home four gold medals in 1936, ruining Hitler’s hopes to show German athletes dominating on the world stage. Owens won three track events and the long jump, causing the German leader to apparently leave before the award ceremonies.

 

1. “Miracle on Ice”

The Soviet Union had entered the 1980 Olympics winning five of the previous six gold medals in men’s ice hockey, and they were heavy favorites once again thanks to an experienced roster. At the same time, the U.S. was the youngest team in the field, but were able to advance to the medal round—where they were set to take on the USSR. The young Americans held their own entering the third period down 3-2, and they scored two goals to shock the world, leading to Al Michaels’ memorable call: “Do you believe in miracles?! Yes!” Team USA would eventually take home gold by beating Finland.

Live Sporting Events That Should Be Broadcast In 4K

Live Sporting Events That Should Be Broadcast In 4K

As White Wolf first reported back in February, the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup will be broadcast in 4K on DIRECTV. All 52 matchups from the Group Stage to the Final will be shown in ultra-high-definition. Now, the World Cup is a huge worldwide event, but there are other big sporting events that should be broadcast in 4K sooner rather than later, too.

 

Stanley Cup Final

If you have the right television, hockey already pops off the screen because of the bright white ice; but the sport would look really awesome in ultra-high-definition broadcasts. Hockey in 4K would allow you to see the puck more clearly, along with the ice flying up as players zoom around the rink—and ideally, we’d at least get it for the final round with the Cup on the line. NBC broadcasts the Stanley Cup Final, and they aired a wide-ranging event like the Olympics in 4K, so it should be possible to get seven hockey games in the high-end format.

 

World Series

Championship rounds always have a different atmosphere, and that feels most clear for the Super Bowl and World Series, with the crowds clearly sounding more energized even from sitting on the couch at home. The picture quality should also get crisper for the Fall Classic, which would make the entire experience in 4K feel more like you’re actually at the stadium than at home. Like hockey, baseball deals with a smaller object of play (a hockey puck and a baseball), so getting higher resolution helps viewers track the ball better around the diamond.

 

PPV Fights

HBO got out of boxing, which is disappointing, but those remaining players in the fight game—like Showtime, ESPN, and DAZN—should do their best to get out consistent 4K broadcasts to make fight night a bigger and better event worth spending a weekend night on. Boxing and UFC fights don’t need a bunch of cameras to capture as many angles as professional team sports, so a 4K broadcast should be easier to accomplish. One issue is inconsistent internet connection and the bandwidth requirements for ultra-HD on streaming platforms like ESPN+ and DAZN, especially for live events as opposed to pre-recorded 4K content.

 

NFL Sunday Ticket

DIRECTV’s contract for NFL Sunday Ticket can expire after this season because the NFL has an opt-out, and it’s obviously a very lucrative package for them to offer to their customers, so they’ll be doing whatever they can to extend the partnership with the NFL. The AT&T company would be smart to offer a 4K option for Sunday Ticket in 2019, which would make many customers very happy and more loyal as the NFL decides where to place Sunday Ticket for the next several years. Whichever network eventually gets Sunday Ticket, 4K should be a must so America can watch its favorite sport in the highest quality video available for 17 Sundays of the year. Cable companies might get mad that the NFL allows DIRECTV to broadcast in 4K, but fans that spend hundreds of dollars per year in extra to watch every game should get that perk.

 

Super Bowl

Finally, it’s time we get the Big Game in 4K. As stated earlier, NBC broadcasts the Olympics in 4K; and FOX (World Cup) and CBS (golf tournaments) have used the ultra-high-definition format, too. With all three Super Bowl networks having the capability to air live sports in 4K, it’s a bit ridiculous the biggest sporting event of the year (in the U.S., at least) doesn’t get that treatment. Yes, the majority of viewers would not have access to the Super Bowl in 4K because only DIRECTV and Dish currently offer 4K live sports (though that could change next year), but if the networks can get enough cameras to show the game in ultra-HD, they should simply show it for the people that can see it.

Full 2019 Women’s FIFA World Cup Schedule

Full 2019 Women’s FIFA World Cup Schedule

The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup will begin tomorrow with Group Stage play, and if you missed it, all the games will be broadcast in 4K. Below is the full schedule (all games listed in ET) for tomorrow’s kickoff game through the World Cup Final. [Note: games for the USWNT are in bold and italics.]

 

Group Stage

 

Friday, June 7

Group A: France vs. Korea Republic | 3:00 PM ET | FS1

 

Saturday, June 8

Group B: Germany vs. China PR | 9:00 AM ET | FS1

Group B: Spain vs. South Africa | 12:00 PM ET | FOX

Group A: Norway vs. Nigeria | 3:00 PM ET | FOX

 

Sunday, June 9

Group C: Australia vs. Italy | 7:00 AM ET | FS1

Group C: Brazil vs. Jamaica | 9:30 AM ET | FS1

Group D: England vs. Scotland | 12:00 PM ET | FOX

 

Monday, June 10

Group D: Argentina vs. Japan | 12:00 PM ET | FS1

Group E: Canada vs. Cameroon | 3:00 PM ET | FS1

 

Tuesday, June 11

Group E: New Zealand vs. Netherland | 9:00 AM ET | FS1

Group F: Chile vs. Sweden | 12:00 PM ET | FS1

Group F: USA vs. Thailand | 3:00 PM ET | FOX

 

Wednesday, June 12

Group A: Nigeria vs. Korea Republic | 9:00 AM ET | FS1

Group B: Germany vs. Spain | 12:00 PM ET | FOX

Group A: France vs. Norway | 3:00 PM ET | FOX

 

Thursday, June 13

Group C: Australia vs. Brazil | 12:00 PM ET | FOX

Group B: South Africa vs. China PR | 3:00 PM ET | FOX

 

Friday, June 14

Group D: Japan vs. Scotland | 9:00 AM ET | FS1

Group C: Jamaica vs. Italy | 12:00 PM ET | FOX

Group D: England vs. Argentina | 3:00 PM ET | FOX

 

Saturday, June 15

Group E: Netherlands vs. Cameroon | 9:00 AM ET | FS1

Group E: Canada vs. New Zealand | 3:00 PM ET | FS2

 

Saturday, June 16

Group F: Sweden vs. Thailand | 9:00 AM ET | FS1

Group F: USA vs. Chile | 12:00 PM ET | FOX

 

Monday, June 17

Group B: China PR vs. Spain | 12:00 PM ET | FS1

Group B: South Africa vs. Germany | 12:00 PM ET | FOX

Group A: Nigeria vs. France | 3:00 PM ET | FOX

Group A: Korea Republic vs. Norway | 3:00 PM ET | FS1

 

Tuesday, June 18

Group C: Jamaica vs. Australia | 3:00 PM ET | FS2

Group C: Italy vs. Brazil | 3:00 PM ET | FS1

 

Wednesday, June 19

Group D: Japan vs. England | 3:00 PM ET | FS1

Group D: Scotland vs. Argentina | 3:00 PM ET | FS2

 

Thursday, June 20

Group E: Cameroon vs. New Zealand | 12:00 PM ET | FS1

Group E: Netherlands vs. Canada | 12:00 PM ET | FOX

Group F: Sweden vs. USA | 3:00 PM ET | FOX

Group F: Thailand vs. Chile | 3:00 PM ET | FS1

 

Round of 16

 

Saturday, June 22

TBD: 9:00 AM ET | FS1

TBD: 12:30 PM ET | FOX

 

Sunday, June 23

TBD: 11:30 AM ET | FS1

TBD: 3:00 PM ET | FOX

 

Monday, June 24

TBD: 12:00 PM ET | FS1

TBD: 3:00 PM ET | FS1

 

Tuesday, June 25

TBD: 12:00 PM ET | FS1

TBD: 3:00 PM ET | FS1

 

Quarterfinals

 

Thursday, June 27

TBD: 3:00 PM ET | FOX

 

Friday, June 28

TBD: 3:00 PM ET | FOX

 

Saturday, June 29

TBD: 9:00 AM ET | FS1

TBD: 12:30 PM ET | FS1

 

Semifinals

 

Tuesday, July 2

TBD: 3:00 PM ET | FOX

 

Wednesday, July 3

TBD: 3:00 PM ET | FS1

 

Third Place Playoff

 

Saturday, July 6

TBD: 11:00 AM ET | FOX

 

Final

 

Sunday, July 7

TBD: 11:00 AM ET | FOX