Sidelines: this week in sports

Antonio Brown gets released … again

After signing with the Patriots not even two weeks ago, disgruntled receiver Antonio Brown has been released for the second time in the past month. Brown played just one game with New England and reminded everyone that he led the league in touchdowns a season ago with his performance against Miami. But once again, his off-the-field behaviour has come to the forefront, with more details about his alleged sexual assault coming to fruition. Safe to say that is not the Belichick way, so Brown was released. While his agent said he is healthy and looking forward to his next opportunity, it seems hard to believe he will play again this year. That statement gave me a little bit of hope as an Antonio Brown fantasy owner, but then Brown tweeted that he will not play in the NFL again until the owners pay him his ‘guaranteed money’? I mean I’d like to skip all my classes and be given 90s too. Turns out you actually have to attend work to get paid. Steelers fans must be loving all this.

Final weeks of the MLB season

With just a couple weeks left to go in the 2019 MLB regular season, playoff pictures are starting to become a little more clear, especially in the A.L. The division leaders are set in stone (or are being chiseled as we speak), with the Yankees having won the East for the first time since 2012. The Minnesota Twins’ magic number is three and with a four-game lead on the second-place Indians, the Twins are poised to win the Central for the first time since 2010. The Astros just won their third straight A.L. West title, and along with the Yankees, seem to be the frontrunners to win the pennant. The Wild Card race is where the real action is, as the Oakland A’s, Cleveland Indians and Tampa Bay Rays are all fighting for two spots in the Wild Card game. As of Saturday night, Oakland has a two game lead, with Cleveland and Tampa tied for second. Oakland has the luxury of having the easiest schedule the rest of the way, with series against the lowly Mariners and Angels to end off the season. With their two game cushion it seems safe to say that the A’s have once again Billy Beane’d their way into the playoffs. Unfortunately for the Rays and all 300 of their fans, Tampa still has a pair of games against the Yankees, who are still trying to clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Rays will finish their season off against the Blue Jays who will look to play spoiler late in the season. The red-hot Indians have won 10 out of their last 13 games, and have an easy series against the 68-87 White Sox next week, before a tough series against a Nationals team who is in their own wild card hunt as well. In the N.L., the Braves and Dodgers have already clinched their respective divisions, with the Cardinals on pace to win the Central as well. That realistically leaves the Nats, Cubs and Brewers (sorry Mets fans) jostling for two spots. The Brewers were essentially written off after losing Christian Yelich, but have been able to leapfrog the Cubs and currently hold the second spot by four games. The Cubs got swept by St. Louis this weekend, and with Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant still not 100 percent healthy, the Cubs will most likely finish on the outside looking in come October. An easy three-game series against Pittsburgh should allow them to get back into the swing of things, before they end the year off with another three games against St. Louis. The Brewers have the easiest schedule of all, with games against Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Colorado, all losing teams. The Nats play five against a Phillies team that is mathematically still in the race, but realistically out of it. The last couple days will mean a lot to all six of these teams fighting for Wild Card spots, and who knows, maybe we’ll have a 163rd game to decide things like we did a season ago.

Takeaways from Leafs preseason

The official NHL season hasn’t even started and Auston Matthews may have already made the best power move of the year. No, it wasn’t a goal, but a hilarious moment in the preseason opener against Ottawa where Matthews tried to figure out who was chirping him by peeking around the back of #49 on the Sens. The guy’s name is Scott Sabourin, and he’s played over a decade in the minors, so it’s understandable why Matthews needed to do a quick on-ice Google. Shenanigans aside, he’s looked great to start the preseason, scoring three goals in his first two games. You know who’s also looked great? William Nylander. I guess it does help to attend training camp. Nylander — who is rocking #88 this season — led the team with 15 shots against Buffalo on Friday, and set up a beautiful goal that Matthews tapped in. Hopefully the two will keep up this chemistry and play together the whole year, as Kasperi Kapanen seems to be filling in for the injured Zach Hyman on the Tavares/Marner line. The blue line looks promising as well, as 19-year-old Rasmus Sandin has impressed everyone thus far, and I’ve had that Jake Muzzin hit on a loop ever since Saturday. Ben Harpur, looks, um, big — the guy has single-digit points in his career, but he’s 6’6/220 so it’s forgivable. Given that the Leafs have been lacking toughness since the likes of Colton Orr and Darcy Tucker, Harpur seems like he can fill in nicely until Travis Dermott recovers from offseason shoulder surgery.

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