Good morning, sunshine! Welcome to Thursday.

I’m having a great hair day this morning (and not just because there are no flies in it) and that’s always a great sign to start the day. If this flow could talk, it’d probably say there are only great things ahead for you today. Let that be a beacon of inspiration with your morning coffee.

Of course, you could also find inspiration in what we’ve got on the sports calendar today, too. Another big day of four playoff baseball games, plus some sweet, sweet NFL action (featuring my former king, Tom Brady). Yeah, it kinda sucks we’ve got a second straight night without the NBA Finals, but we’ve gotta save a little action for tomorrow night too, you know?

Let’s get you caught up on what you need to know. 


📰 What you need to know

1. Dodgers survive dramatic Game 2 against Padres ⚾

MLB’s Divisional round continues to roll on and the Los Angeles continue to put on a show. Last night’s Game 2 between the Dodgers and Padres was a pure adrenaline rush that brought pretty much everything you want in playoff baseball — home runs, big momentum swings, great defense, a dramatic finish and a little bit of bad blood. It was tremendous. 

Ultimately, the Dodgers held on for the 6-5 win, giving them a 2-0 series lead in the best-of-five against San Diego and putting them one win away from the NLCS. Los Angeles remains undefeated (4-0) this postseason, and now the Padres are gonna have to find a way to beat them three straight times in order to save their own season.

Sorry to my San Diego people but, uh, good luck with that. The Dodgers are 6-0 all-time when leading 2-0 in a best-of-five. 

But the Dodgers aren’t the only team on the brink of advancing, so here’s a rundown of what else happened yesterday:

  • Rays push past Yankees: After dropping Game 1, the Rays earned their second straight win yesterday and now they’re a victory away from the ALCS. Randy Arozarena (who?) continues to rip it up for Tampa Bay. He homered in his third straight game and is now 8-for-12 at the plate in the series. Not bad for a guy I had literally never heard of before this series
  • A’s live to fight another day: Oakland tied a franchise postseason record with five home runs and climbed out of a 7-4 deficit in the seventh inning to win 9-7. Liam Hendricks was massive in the victory, recording the final nine outs for the A’s. He struck out four and allowed just two baserunners
  • Braves blank Marlins: Uh, there’s not a whole lot to say about this one. The Braves won 2-0 in a bit of a snoozer that only saw seven total hits. Ian Anderson pitched well (5.2 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 8 SO) and Atlanta now has a commanding 2-0 series lead

Oh, and Giancarlo Stanton? Yep, he homered for the Yankees again. That’s five straight games with a dinger (six HRs in total) and he becomes the first player in MLB history to homer in each of his team’s first five games of the playoffs. Also, his 13 RBIs are the most ever by a player through the first five playoff games.

At some point his Yankees teammates may want to consider giving him a little help…


2. Titans players broke protocol to work out during outbreak 🏈


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Things are a bit of a mess in the NFL right now thanks to coronavirus infiltrating the league and disrupting the operations of several teams. In New England, Stephon Gilmore tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday (he was one of the Patriots players potentially  exposed by Cam Newton) and now suddenly there’s plenty of concern over the fact that Gilmore played in Monday’s game in Kansas City and could have spread it to others — including Patrick Mahomes.

But the biggest mess remains in Tennessee, and that may largely come as a result of the Titans reportedly not following league safety protocols.

  • The Titans had two more positive COVID-19 tests this week, adding to the 18 positive tests they had over a six-day span last week
  • The team reportedly violated league COVID-19 protocol by holding an off-site practice while the league oversaw cleaning of their facilities following the outbreak. A large group of Titans players (including Ryan Tannehill) were photographed working out at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville
  • NFL guidelines call for absolutely no physical contact in the direct aftermath of an outbreak

Obviously, this is  a serious violation and it could potentially carry serious consequences. The Titans could be at risk of facing a huge fine, loss of draft pick(s) and/or forfeiture of games thanks to their carelessness and irresponsibility. It’s also not a great reflection on coach Mike Vrabel, either.

I’d imagine that a lot of other teams around the league aren’t thrilled with the Titans right now, either — especially the Steelers, who had to have their schedule modified thanks to last weekend’s game against Tennessee being postponed. Not only are the Titans creating unnecessary headaches and becoming the coronavirus epicenter of the NFL, but the league may give less leash to other teams if they find that the Titans weren’t following guidelines.


3. Dwayne Haskins getting a raw deal in Washington 🏈

 
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The good ol’ Football Team in Washington has had plenty of starting quarterbacks over the years — especially recently — and yet few of those quarterbacks have had much success, if any at all. After starting the season 1-3, they’re going to try yet another QB this weekend. 

The team is benching Dwayne Haskins in favor of Kyle Allen, who will get the start against the Rams on Sunday. On one hand, you can find reason in the decision. Haskins hasn’t been amazing (though he had one of the best statistical games of his NFL career last weekend) and Washington is rolling downhill quick. The NFC East is still very winnable with the 1-2-1 Eagles holding sole possession of first in the division.

On the other hand, though, did Washington even give Haskins enough of a fair shot? Our Jason La Canfora certainly doesn’t think so.

  • JLC: “Haskins was a player caught up in a vortex of organizational failure on every level, and — worst of all in this league when it comes to quarterbacks — he was a young passer without a benefactor, without anyone left in his building who was truly invested in his success or gave much of a damn about catering to what he did best. He had no advocates… Let’s keep it real here: Sure, Haskins has some blemishes… But he was also a product of his environment.”

I think I’m on JLC’s side here. They spent a first-round pick on this kid just to cast him aside after 11 starts when he’s far — and I mean FAAAAAAAR — from from the only problem with that team. Even if they feel like they can win the division, we can all agree that whatever team finishes atop the NFC East is going to get waxed by a superior team in the playoffs, right? Letting your young QB grow and develop while continuing to build around him is probably more valuable than being the crappiest division winner in football.

The timing is strange and it just feels like Ron Rivera is looking for any excuse to go to a guy he’s more familiar with in Allen. It doesn’t seem that fair to Haskins. By the way, “Vortex of Organizational Failure” is one heck of a phrase and I vote that should become the team’s new name. The Washington Vortex of Organizational Failure not only has a nice ring to it, it also paints a pretty accurate picture of the brand.


4. Pete Prisco’s Week 5 picks 🏈


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Thursday means we’ve got NFL action, and dare I say that this Thursday Night Football game is actually… good? Tom Brady versus that Bears defense? I can toast to that.

With another slate of games set to kick off, it’s a good time to check in with Pete Prisco to find out who’s he picking in Week 5. He’s had himself a fine opening quarter to the season, going 43-19-1 straight up (37-25-1 against the spread) with his picks through the first four weeks. Even as someone who likes to make fun of Pete at any given opportunity, I gotta say… not too shabby.

Who does he like this week? Let’s get a few choice selections:

  • The Buccaneers will cover (-4.5) against Chicago tonight because the Bears stink on offense and Tampa should be able to limit them. Pick: Bucs 28, Bears 20
  • The Bills will take advantage of the Titans’ dysfunction and Josh Allen will pick apart a Tennessee defense that has issues.
    Pick: Bills 30, Titans 27
  • The Falcons (-2.5) get their first win against Carolina to save Dan Quinn’s job for at least another week. Pick: Falcons 30, Panthers 23

You can find the rest of Prisco’s picks right here.


📝 Odds & Ends


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📺 What to watch tonight

Rays vs. Yankees, 7:10 p.m. | NYY -130 | TV: TBS 

🏈 Buccaneers vs. Bears, 8:20 p.m. | CHI +3.5 | TV: NFLN


📝 Top scores from last night

 
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⚾ Rays 8, Yankees 4

Tampa Bay knocked around Masahiro Tanaka, who gave up eight hits and five runs in four innings pitched. 
💵 Winning Wagers: TB +116, Over (9)

⚾ Dodgers 6, Padres 5

Cody Bellinger hit a home run and took one away from Fernando Tatis Jr. with a sick leaping grab. The Dodgers then survived a scary ninth inning.
💵 Winning Wagers: LAD -232, Over (8.5)

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