The Best of the West

February 13, 2020

By: Jeff Yoder

Good Morning,

Never had an edition feature three of the most iconic names in sports all at once (LeBron James, Tom Brady, Tiger Woods). Also never had an edition feature three top storylines from the same state (California). That changes today. Tune in tomorrow for Valentine’s Day and a new-look newsletter.

Letter Rip!



Photo: Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images

How the West is Being Won

Lakers Make 50-Year History as LeBron Tallies 12th Triple Double

LeBron James and the Lakers escaped the Nuggets last night in overtime (120-116) to win their 17th consecutive road game against Western Conference opponents. The significance of that run is two-fold. The franchise hasn’t done something like it since 1970 (50 years) despite 11 NBA titles since then. It also proves this Laker team can go into any arena — like the 2nd-best West team in Denver — and come out victorious. That spells trouble for the rest of the West in the playoffs.

Stat of the Night: LeBron James recorded his league-best 12th triple double of the season with 32 points, 14 assists, and 12 rebounds. He also had another thunder-dunk go viral (highlights below).

Highlights | Read More (ESPN)

NBA Quick-Shots

Nets Halt Raptors’ Run: Toronto’s 15-game win streak came to an end last night in Brooklyn (101-91), without Kyrie Irving, no less. The Raps and Nets are currently the No. 2 and No. 7 seeds, respectively, and on a collision course for a first-round playoff meeting. (HoH)

Pacers Snap Skid: T.J. Warren (35 points) shot 84 percent to lead Indiana past the Bucks (118-111) and end a six-game losing streak. Warren became the first Pacer since Reggie Miller to drop 35 on an 80-percent-plus shooting night. (NBA)

Luka’s Return: Luka Doncic returned to the court after a seven-game absence with an ankle injury. He and Kristaps Porzingis combined for 60 points in the Mavs’ win over the Kings (130-111). (ESPN)

Dame Goes Down: Blazers all-star Damian Lillard suffered a groin injury that will keep him out of this weekend’s NBA All-Star festivities. Portland lost to Memphis (111-104), and there’s no timetable yet for Lillard’s return. (B/R)



Photo: Adam Glanzman / Getty Images

California Dreamin’

Analyzing the 2020 NFL Free Agent QB Market

This week’s free-agent quarterback news fueled the fire, or maybe we’re all just victims of smokescreen season once again. Either way, something is burning. With one month until NFL free agency, teams began making headlines surrounding two veteran quarterbacks; Tom Brady and Philip Rivers. Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft is allowing Brady to test free agency before making an offer (what?), and the Chargers said goodbye to Rivers, officially. It’s been 17 years since those two teams had a different franchise QB. Feels weird. Also feels kind of right. Here’s why:

Brady to the Bolts?
Much like LeBron James’ move to Los Angeles in the twilight of his career, Brady wants to build his brand beyond his playing days. Despite his aspirations to play forever, he can’t, and L.A. makes sense for the TB12 empire. The native Californian has also played his entire career in the cold northeast and he’s earned the right to end on his own terms. To top it all off, the Chargers’ fanbase has been a disgrace since the move to L.A. Tom Brady in Charger Blue could be the franchise’s salvation.

Top 2020 Free Agent Quarterbacks
Tom Brady (Patriots), Philip Rivers (Chargers), Drew Brees (Saints), Dak Prescott (Cowboys), Ryan Tannehill (Titans), Teddy Bridgewater (Saints), Jameis Winston (Bucs), Case Keennum (Redskins)

Other QBs to Watch This Offseason
Cam Newton (Panthers), Marcus Mariota (Titans), Derek Carr (Raiders), Andy Dalton (Bengals)

Additional Reads
CBS Sports: Robert Kraft Allowing Brady to Test Free Agency
NFL: Top 25 Free Agents of 2020: No Shortage of Intriguing QBs



Photo: Harry How / Getty Images

Tiger’s Next Shot at 83

Today: Genesis Invitational

The Genesis Invitational tees off today from the Riviera Country Club in California, and nine of the world’s Top-10 golfers are in attendance. Brooks Koepka makes his 2020 debut while Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, and others join the field. Most notably, Tiger Woods returns to the spotlight in search of his record-setting 83rd PGA Tour victory. He’s currently tied with Sam Snead (82) for most all-time, but the Riviera hasn’t been kind to Tiger in the past — it’s the only venue he’s played more than four times and failed to win.

Notable Tee Times (ET)
10:16 AM: D. Johnson, P. Cantlay, R. McIlroy
10:27 AM: B. Koepka, P. Mickelson, B. Watson
10:37 AM: X. Schauffele, A. Wise, J. Day
2:41 PM: T. Woods, J. Thomas, S. Stricker
2:52 PM: J.B. Holmes, J. Rahm, J. Rose
3:03 PM: M. Homa, J. Spieth, T. Finau

View All Tee Times

Golf Digest: 2020 Genesis Picks: The Case For and Against Tiger Woods



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The New 2020 MLB Rulebook

One of these days we’ll leave sports the way they are. Today is not that day. MLB announced some subtle-yet-significant rule changes for the upcoming 2020 season on Wednesday. Some of the new rules were previously reported, but they became official in the 2020 rulebook. Here they are:

New MLB Rules in 2020

  • 3-Batter Minimum: Relief pitchers must face a minimum of three batters or complete the half-inning.
  • Active Roster Limits: Active rosters increase from 25 to 26 with September rosters limited to 28 instead of 40.
  • 2-Way Players: Players who appear as both pitchers and positional players must be designated by the team and will not count toward team pitching limitations.
  • Manager Challenges: Better hurry. Managers only have 20 seconds to challenge calls compared to 30 seconds a year ago.

MLB.comNew Rulebook Released for 2020 Season

🏒 NHL: Pastrnak Posts Hat Trick
David Pastrnak paced the Bruins with a hat trick in Boston’s win over the Canadiens (4-1). He also took over as the NHL goal leader with his 41st of the year. (SportsNet)
🏀 NCAAB: Georgia Tech Upsets #5 Louisville
It feels like a Top-10 team falls nightly in college basketball. It’s your turn, Louisville. The 5th-ranked Cardinals fell to Georgia Tech last night in Atlanta (64-58). (ACCN)
NFL Reinstates Browns DE Myles Garrett After Helmet-Swinging Suspension
(Bleacher Report)

Phoenix Mercury Acquire Four-Time All-Star Skylar Diggins-Smith from Dallas Wings
(Sports Illustrated)

Formula 1 Postpones Chinese Grand Prix Due to Coronavirus
(CBS Sports)

Michigan State Football Hires Colorado’s Mel Tucker as New Head Coach

Two Ohio State Football Players Charged With Rape, Kidnapping
(Yahoo! Sports)