Rafael\’s Return

August 31, 2022

By: Carlos Alvarez


More US Open and MLB coverage in today\’s edition, as some of the biggest names in their respective sports made headlines last night.

Letter Rip!



Rafael\’s Return


Rafael Nadal Defeats Rinky Hijikata in Surprisingly Thrilling Opener


Last night marked the first time Rafael Nadal has played in the US Open since he won it all back in 2019, and his hands were full in his opening round match against Rinky Hijikata, a relatively unknown 21-year-old who was competing in his first Grand Slam. Hijikata immediately raised eyebrows by taking the first set, which marked the first time Nadal has ever lost his first set at the US Open. Ultimately, the four-time champion weathered the storm, winning the next three sets 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 to advance to the next round, but it didn’t come without a challenge.


It was likely a combination of Nadal shaking off the rust of playing in just his second match since injuring his abdominal at Wimbledon and him not knowing anything about his opponent, but Hijikata made the absolute most of his opportunity. The 21-year-old battled with Nadal for three hours and eight minutes, giving the icon everything he had, including fighting match point off four times in the final set. While he may have come up short in his efforts to pull off one of the biggest upsets of all time, he earned the respect of the New York City crowd for hanging with Rafa as long as he did.


Looking forward, Nadal is now scheduled to match up against Fabio Fognini in the second round, who has historically played Rafael tough throughout their matchups against one another over the years.


Additional Storylines

ESPN: Emma Raducanu\’s Rocky Year From Champion to First-Round Exit

Bleacher Report: Venus Williams Falls to Alison Van Uytvanck in 1st Round of 2022 US Open




Aaron Judge Launches 51st Home Run Before September


What else is there to say that we haven’t this season about Aaron Judge? While the Yankees have recently been a roller coaster of high highs and low lows, one thing has been consistent throughout, and that’s Aaron Judge destroying baseballs. Last night, Judge hit his 51st home run of the season in New York’s 7-4 victory over the Angels. The blast puts him just ten away from reaching the illustrious 61 mark set by Roger Maris. With a little over a month left in the season, I like Judge’s chances to end up making history and surpass Maris.


On top of one of the greatest power-hitting seasons we’ve ever seen, Aaron Judge is also on track to win his first MVP award as well. Admittedly, it is hard to reasonably say anyone is more valuable than the unicorn that is Shohei Ohtani, but Judge is truly putting up a performance for the ages. Currently, his 51 homers, 113 RBIs, and 104 runs are already numbers worthy of MVP. The crazy thing is that he has another 32 games to juice them up even more. On top of all that, Judge is tied for third in the MLB with a .398 on-base percentage. As he rounds out one of the best hitting seasons we’ve seen in recent memory, it’s getting harder and harder by the day to say that Judge isn’t the AL MVP.


Watch: Aaron Judge Hits 51st Homer of the Season


MLB Quick-Hitters


Dodgers Continue Their Dominance Against the Mets

With the two best teams in the National League facing off, it was the Dodgers continuing to roll as they took the first of a three-game series against the Mets with a 4-3 victory. It’s apparent that LA has New York’s number, as they are now 25-7 against the Mets since 2017.


Justin Verlander Goes on the IL

Houston announced on Tuesday that Justin Verlander has suffered a right calf injury. The 39-year-old is currently in the midst of a resurgence, as he is currently the favorite to win the Cy Young award for the third time in his career after missing essentially two full seasons due to injury.


Additional Storylines

Yahoo!: Judge Hits 51st HR as Yankees Snap Skid, Top Angels 7-4

ESPN: Los Angeles Dodgers\’ Clayton Kershaw to Return vs. New York Mets on Thursday 



\"⚾️\" Jake Reed\’s Emotional Save

Just a couple of months ago, Jake Reed was let go by the Mets. After being picked up off of waivers by the Dodgers for the second time in his career, Reed stepped up for a LA bullpen that desperately needed some rest and got his first career save against the team that had just gotten rid of him.



\"🏀\" LeBron James Wants to Play With His Sons, Bronny and Bryce

It was all but a foregone conclusion the King planned on playing in the NBA with his oldest son, Bronny, who just started his senior year of high school. But in this recent interview, LeBron said he\’d also like to play with his middle child, Bryce, who is currently just a sophomore. (SI)


\"⚾️\" An Early Look at the 2022 MLB Free Agency Class

As the summer winds down, it means we\’re inevitably getting closer to the end of the MLB season. Once the World Series trophy is hoisted at the end of October, Aaron Judge will without a doubt be the top target on the free agent market. But who else should teams be keeping their eyes on this winter? (CBS)


\"🏈\" The Biggest Winners and Losers of 2022 NFL Preseason

With the preseason officially behind us, it\’s time to take a look back at the players who made the most of their opportunities, those who struggled, and those who may have played themselves out of the league with exceptionally poor performances these past few weeks. (Bleacher Report)