Biles bows out; Osaka loses in straight sets; A-Rod is back with the Pack; and WFT and Caps re-sign stars to long-term deals
The Tuesday afternoon edition of "Twelve things to know before midnight" is here
Once again - my apologies for today’s issue of Snippets running extra-ordinarily late, but that is because I stayed up to watch the Team USA women play Australia in their final futbol/soccer group stage match. Also, we have the most topics I have ever covered in a single post with twelve unique headlines across both the Olympics and pro sports here in the United States. So, let’s get started.
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1) Simone Biles pulls out of gymnastics team events today as U.S. earns silver in team competition
In the biggest, most stunning development of the Tokyo Olympics, famed gymnastics G.O.A.T. Simone Biles disqualifies herself in the team’s gymnastics’ final - not due to any physical injury… but actually mental injury after suffering her worst outing on the vault in her illustrious career this morning (Japan Tuesday evening).
Biles performed poorly, as this ESPN article discusses below, and the judges deducted as such:
“The vault requires a roundoff back handspring onto the table followed by 2½ twists. Biles instead did just 1½ twists with a big leap forward after landing. She sat down and talked to U.S. team doctor Marcia Faustin, then headed to the back while her teammates moved on to uneven bars without her.
When Biles returned several minutes later, she hugged her teammates and took off her bar grips. And just like that, the greatest of all time's night was over.”
During the interviews, this is what she said:
You gotta feel for Biles - not only the whole country’s weight on her shoulders, but the entire world’s - especially since she is the only US gymnast representing the country and recovering from the abuse by Larry Nassar. Good for her to take a step back for the good of the team and herself.
Biles has said there is no timetable for her return, making Thursday’s all-around individual events questionable for her, as of right now.
2) After two dramatic finishes, US softball once again is upended by Japan in gold medal match
At the same time the women’s gymnastics team final was going down, so was this gold medal match in softball between Team USA and Japan (7 AM EST this morning). And like the American female gymnasts, the softball team also will be receiving silver, after a dominant 2-0 win by Japan in which Japanese starting pitcher, 39-year old Yukiko Ueno, a legend in Japanese circles, only allowed three hits in six innings of work.
This was a rematch of the last softball gold medal game in the Olympics, as these same two teams (as well as both starting pitchers [U.S. started 38-year old Cat Oserman today]) squared off then and had a similar result.
The Americans had their opportunity in the bottom of the 6th inning, as they had runners on first and second base and one out, with one of their best hitters at the plate in Amanda Chidester. She hit a line drive that ricocheted off of the Japanese third baseman Yu Tamamoto’s arm to shortstop Mana Atsumi, who then caught the ball for the second out and threw to her second base teammate to double-up the baserunner at 2B to end the inning. The US softball women’s team was left shell-shocked and flabbergasted at what just happened, realizing that their gold medal chances were almost over. They could not recover in the following inning, losing 2-0 in the end.
3) Lackluster group stage finale tie between Team USA women’s soccer and Australia puts knockout quarterfinal match vs. Netherlands in doubt
Well… this match was surprisingly uneventful. This last group stage game before the knockout rounds between two of the top teams in women’s soccer was reason to watch this game at 4 AM EST (and one major reason why this edition of Snippets is up so late), and the game was as bland as Alfredo pasta. With Team USA winning 6-1 against New Zealand on Saturday morning, you would think the team would continue their goal-scoring success against a more elite team in the Matildas (Team Australia); unfortunately, both teams were satisfied with scoring zero combined goals (as both teams were comfortable in their standings and both advancing with a draw), as this game ended in a 0-0 tie.
Do you know how boring this was? There was as many combined shot attempts on goal as one has fingers on one hand. So boring, that in the last twenty minutes of play, The Matildas were fine just passing the ball among their four defenders with nary any an American pressure. I am not exaggerating in that there was possibly fifty passes connecting with The Matildas’ back-line to end what was a mighty frustrating game for all viewers.
And with this draw, Team USA women finish in second place in their group (1-1-1), behind undefeated Sweden. They now will face the Netherlands on Friday (7 AM EST) in the first game of the quarterfinals (a rematch of the 2019 World Cup final in which that was a 0-0 draw at halftime but saw the US pull away, 2-0). But with this draw against Australia (and the loss to Sweden last week), I have little hope in these Olympics for what once was a dominant soccer/futbol team. Like I said on Twitter as an instant reaction following today’s game, I actually would be very shocked if the team does not suffer a similar fate as the 2016 Olympics, in which that team was bounced-out after their first round quarterfinal match.
4) Naomi Osaka, the Japanese tennis phenom who lit the flame during Olympics Opening Ceremony, loses in the third round
The famed tennis superstar was set to do wonders at this year’s Olympics, as one of the members of the host nation after stepping aside from Wimbledon earlier this year. But alas, Naomi Osaka was unable to reach the quarterfinals, losing to unranked Czech Marketa Vondrousova in straight sets, 1-6, 4-6. But just like Biles, Osaka also felt that same struggle, that same pressure to give a perfect performance - this, from ESPN:
“I'm disappointed in every loss, but I feel like this one sucks more than the others… I definitely feel like there was a lot of pressure for this. I think it's maybe because I haven't played in the Olympics before and for the first year [it] was a bit much.”
5) Tuesday’s Olympics Medal Count Update
6) Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are finally back together… with one exception
Adam Schefter @AdamSchefterPackers are offering concessions and are close to an agreement that would bring Aaron Rodgers back to Green Bay for at least this season, sources tell ESPN. Deal is not done but it is close. More on NFL Live at 4.
He’s back! After months and months of speculation regarding Aaron Rodgers and him wanting out of Green Bay (due to a variety of reasons; team drafting a rookie QB in the 1st round last year to not focusing on adding receiver depth to his desire to move west with his actress fiancee and have a Jeopardy! career as host…etc.), both he and the team came to a resolution yesterday. And, Rodgers made his triumphant return to Green Bay as training camp started today for the Packers.
The solution? Voiding the last three years of Rodgers’ contract such that he is only here for one more season, then him having the final say come seasons’ end. The team will not outright release him after this coming season, however, as the Packers will still have his rights and will want assets in return, should Rodgers find greater opportunity elsewhere.
But still a great sign for Packers’ faithful, as the former MVP returns home to Green Bay for the 2021-2022 season.
7) Jonathan Allen and Logan Thomas agree to multi-year extensions with WFT
And, in local news, the Washington Football Team re-signed two of their own players to long-term deals. It’s a great sign that both players want to return to the Burgundy-and-Gold for the foreseeable future and that the team locked both players up on cap-friendly deals before the salary cap significantly rises next off-season.
8) Ovechkin and Capitals agree to a long-term deal
Well… who saw this coming? (sarcasm, of course). Speaking of local teams re-signing their star players, the Washington Capitals did the same this afternoon, signing their star captain to a five year, $47.5 million deal that has the 35-year old playing until he is 40, as Alexander Ovechkin makes his push towards history (chasing the great Wayne Gretzky and his 894 career goals); Ovi has 730 goals to-date, and according to Capitals’ beat reporter Samantha Pell:
Such a chase towards greatness is possible, if Ovi is healthy for the next five or so years. But it is wonderful that The Great Eight is staying home with this massive re-signing.
9) Oklahoma and Texas have officially, formally asked for SEC invite in 2025
What was previously rumored is now official - the two Big 12 universities in Oklahoma and Texas have both formally submitted their invites to the South-Eastern Conference (SEC), starting in 2025, when both universities’ media contracts are up. This is the first stage (of many) to migrate to a new conference - one of the main hold-ups might be the votes from each of the now-current presidents of each of the SEC’s 12 universities. But such votes might and should be universally upheld as both the Sooners and the Longhorns may eventually be SEC members within the next five years.
10) Grizz and Pels swap centers in NBA trade leading to Thursday’s draft night
And, in case you missed it, we had a significant trade in the NBA, as we inch closer and closer to the NBA Draft on Thursday night. The deal is essentially swapping the Memphis Grizzlies’ and New Orleans Pelicans’ starting centers, with Memphis moving seven spots up in the first round.
The reason why the Grizzlies did this trade? They are actually wanting to move up further into the top-10 of this year’s draft, as they are coveting certain draft prospects. The addition of Steven Adams seems like a neutral move, and reports say that Eric Bledsoe will not stick around with the Grizzlies. As for the Pelicans? They get rid of both monster contracts of both Adams and Bledsoe, while getting a better fit at center with rising superstar Zion Williamson in acquiring Jonas Valanciunas, who can space the floor better than Adams ever could.
11) Really, Nats? This would have to be the ultimate low-light of the season
And, in baseball, we had the low-lights of the season for the Washington Nationals last night - first off, in the first inning, Philadelphia Phillies’ catcher J.T. Realmuto was at the plate and hit a weak grounder to Nats’ first baseman Josh Bell. In case you did not know, catchers are routinely the slowest baseball players. So what happened? Bell casually walks to first as Realmuto charges to the base. The first base umpire rules safe. So, the first low-light of the night was that a catcher reached safely on a supposed ground ball put-out.
The next was inevitable, given the Nats’ recent slide; the team’s closer in Brad Hand blew his second consecutive save in allowing a walk-off three-run home run to Phillies’ outfielder Andrew McCutchen to complete the comeback and the Phillies’ 6-5 win.
12) Mariners come back from down 7-0 to win in crazy finish
And last but not least on this sports-heavy content this Tuesday afternoon, we had one of the best comebacks of the season in the late Monday night game between the Houston Astros and the Seattle Mariners. The home team in the Mariners was down 7-0 after three and a half innings, mainly due to a six-run first inning against M’s starting pitcher Darren McCaughan. After he was yanked, the M’s comeback began. The Seattle Mariners received extra-base hits from catcher Cal Raleigh and third baseman Kyle Seager to cut the deficit to 8-6 after five innings. They then gut the lead to one after a Terrance Long Jr. single scored first baseman Luis Torrens the following inning (8-7). And the night was capped off by pinch hitter (and typical starting shortstop) Dylan Moore, who completed the comeback by hitting a grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning off Astros’ relief pitcher Brooks Raley. 11-8, Mariners, as they closed out the top of the ninth inning without allowing a single run.
Phew! Got all that? What a loaded day of sports content. We are done with another edition of my Snippets on this July Tuesday afternoon. Enjoy the Olympic events taking place this evening. So, until next time, signing off.