Greetings from the sports desk located somewhere below decks of the Good Pirate Ship RedState. Sammy the Shark and Karl the Kraken are, of course, watching preseason hockey highlights. So, as always, I’ll handle the rest of the sports reporting. It’s a good thing those two accept fish crackers in lieu of pay.
Much to Sammy and Karl‘s annoyance, the big news today comes from the basketball world, with the Portland Trailblazers trading Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks in a three-team deal that includes the Phoenix Suns. This allows Lillard to team up with Giannis Antetokounmpo, which is good because no other players presently appear on the Bucks roster. Slight exaggeration, but not really.
The deal puts Milwaukee firmly in the “win right now“ category. In addition to giving up multiple players, including the superbly talented at both ends of the court Jrue Holiday, the Bucks are surrendering a lot of draft picks to the Trailblazers. As to Portland’s part of the deal, despite Holiday’s skills, Portland will most likely seek to trade him as quickly as possible, given how they are committed to their current young backcourt and are now completely in rebuilding mode. They will have no lack of suitors for Holiday’s services, as a team with present title aspirations but lacking at the point guard position would be hard-pressed to do better than him. Phoenix apparently believes that Deandre Ayton is not their answer at center, preferring to make its own “win right now” run with Jusuf Nurkic complementing an aging Kevin Durant as their centerpiece.
A final note regarding the trade. Leading up to it, Lillard made no bones about wishing to be traded to the Miami Heat. Portland doubtless hopes he won’t notice he’s going to a different city starting with the letter M. However, the moment Lillard sets foot outside his house in February on his way to Fiserv Forum, it should be fairly evident by the absence of palm trees and the plethora of white stuff falling out of the sky that he, in fact, is not in Florida. At least, one hopes he’ll notice.
On to the NFL. The first of Week Four’s two most intriguing matchups transpires on Thursday, September 28, when the Detroit Lions travel to the not-yet-frozen tundra of Lambeau Field to play the Green Bay Packers. The other comes on Sunday, October 1, when, much to the players’ annoyance, as they would probably prefer swapping the game location with the January 7, 2024 date in upper New York, the Buffalo Bills travel to Florida to play the Miami Dolphins. The Lions and Packers game features Green Bay’s somewhat surprising strength thus far, with Jordan Love’s quarterbacking leading the offense, versus the Lions’ overall greatly improved team led by Jared Goff. This looks to be strength on strength, so it should be a fun game. Meanwhile, after running up the score against the hapless Denver Broncos on September 24 to the extent that one wondered if the Dolphins had, in fact, entered into the realm of arena football (70 to 20? Really?), Miami will take on a Buffalo team determined to prove that it, and not Miami, is still the top dog in the AFC East. Or, if you prefer, that bison tops cetacean, although chances are high neither have seen the other in the wild.
Elsewhere around the league, injuries are the primary concern. The Indianapolis Colts may or may not have rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson back from a concussion for their game at home against the Los Angeles Rams. While thus far Richardson has shown a propensity for making the big play, especially running the ball, the suggestion presents itself that he not be quite so enthusiastic about taking off from the pocket as he has not yet actually finished a game on the field. Given that Aaron Donald is on the other side of the ball, perhaps he should heal up and let Garner Minshew do the quarterbacking for this one. However, given how porous the Colts’ pass blocking has been thus far, Minshew Mania could rapidly turn into Minshew Memorial if he doesn’t get better support from his teammates. Meanwhile, New Orleans Saints quarterback Derek Carr is week-to-week with an injured shoulder, thereby leaving the Saints in Jameis Winston‘s hands, which doubtless doesn’t give cause for a whole lot of comforting sleep to Saints fans. And Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is in concussion protocol, thus leading to the possibility of either Brian Hoyer or rookie Aidan O’Connell lining up behind center against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Raiders do have the advantage of the game being at SoFi, so it’ll be a home game in everything but name only.
Baseball is wrapping up its final week of the regular season with not all playoff spots decided. Four of the six division championships are done deals, with the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers holding the upper hand in the American League East and West, respectively. The wildcard chase remains wild. The Chicago Cubs and Miami Marlins are fighting it out for the final spot in the National League, while in the American League, the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners are in an equally heated battle for the final AL wildcard spot. For some strange reason, 99.44 percent of all baseball aficionados, who are normally unaware that Seattle has a team in the major leagues, have suddenly become diehard Mariners fans. Go figure.
And finally, in the sport we here at the sports desk know is the number one top priority among all RedState readers — namely, the WNBA — rumors are rampant that the league will shortly announce it is adding a team in San Francisco starting next year or the year after next. Like, what took so long?