Welcome to the roundup of must-see sports news from Friday, highlighted by the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays clinching the American League Wild Card berths and Kyrie Irving reflecting on his time with the Celtics and the personal journey he went through that soured his final season in Boston.
We’ll also take a look at the New York Mets’ Pete Alonso making Major League Baseball history by tying the rookie record for home runs in a season.
All this and more as we get you up to speed with the sports world on this Saturday!
WILD THINGS: Oakland Athletics, Tampa Bay Rays Clinch American League Wild Card Berths
The American League picture is now all but set, as the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays both clinched Wild Card berths on Friday night.
The A’s punched their ticket to the postseason when the Cleveland Indians lost 8-2 to the Washington Nationals. Oakland will return to the Wild Card game, where they lost to the New York Yankees last season.
The Rays locked up their playoff spot by beating the Toronto Blue Jays 6-2. Tampa makes its return to the playoffs for the first time since 2013, despite having the lowest Opening Day payroll in baseball – $62.1 million.
The A’s and Rays will meet Wednesday night in the American League Wild Card Playoff Game at 8:09 p.m. ET.
Home field advantage for the game has yet to be decided, with both teams sharing the same record in the standings heading into today’s action. If the teams finish with the same record come Sunday night, the A’s would host the Wild Card game since they won the season series with the Rays, 4-3.
Kyrie Irving Reflects on Rocky Time in Personal Life That Affected His Last Season in Boston
Kyrie Irving reflected on his time with the Boston Celtics and opened up about why things went sour last season, during the Brooklyn Nets’ media day on Friday.
Irving signed with the Nets in July after having played for the Celtics for the past two seasons. The six-time NBA All-Star said at the beginning of last season that he was planning on resigning with the Celtics but things began to change once his grandfather passed away in late October.
The 27-year-old explained on Friday how the loss of his grandfather affected him and how it took away his joy of playing basketball last season.
“Basketball and the joy I had from it was sucked away from me,” said Irving. “There was a facial expression that I carried around with me throughout the year. Didn’t allow anyone to get close to me in that instance, and it really bothered me. I didn’t take the necessary steps to get counseling or get therapy to deal with somebody that close to me dying. I’ve never dealt with anything like that.”
The Celtics, whose locker room became fractured, were eliminated by the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the 2019 playoffs.
Irving, who had distanced himself from his teammates in Boston, spoke about how he failed them as a leader.
“So, throughout that year, just became rocky and a lot of the battles that I thought I could battle through in the [Boston] team environment, I just wasn’t ready for,” Irving said during media day on Friday. “And I failed those guys, in the sense that I didn’t give them everything I could have during that season. … In terms of me being a leader in that environment and bringing everyone together, I failed.”
With his days of turmoil in Boston now behind him, Irving has been given a fresh start with the Nets, who made a huge splash this offseason by not only signing him but also adding his best friend and two-time NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant.
“We want to build our careers together, we want to do this as a team,” Irving said of having the opportunity to play with Durant and another good friend, DeAndre Jordan. “And what better place to do it than Brooklyn, with all these guys who had worked their tails off?”
MORE FROM HEAVY.COM: Durant Explains Why He Left Warriors
DON’T MISS THESE STORIES: Rounding Up the Top Headlines
- New York Mets’ Pete Alonso ties MLB rookie record with 52nd home run
- Arizona State upsets No. 15 California 24-17
- No. 12 Penn State blows out Maryland 59-0
- Eagles CB Avonte Maddox flies home with team after scary injury during TNF
- Tony Romo misses cut at PGA TOUR event, will be in CBS booth for NFL on Sunday
WHAT’S ON TAP IN THE SPORTS WORLD ON SATURDAY
COLLEGE FOOTBALL: No. 5 Ohio State (4-0) at Nebraska (3-1)
No. 5-ranked Ohio State will have its toughest test to date when they visit a hostile prime-time environment in Lincoln to take on 3-1 Nebraska.
WHEN: Tonight, 7:30 p.m. ET
COLLEGE FOOTBALL: No. 10 Notre Dame (2-1) vs. No. 18 Virginia (4-0)
Notre Dame will have to win out in order to get back into the mix for the College Football Playoff, after going toe-to-toe in a loss to No. 3 Georgia last week. The Fighting Irish will begin their campaign today against undefeated Virginia.
WHEN: Today, 3:30 p.m. ET
MLB: Fight for the National League Central Crown
The race for the NL Central title is down to the final two days of the regular season, with the St. Louis Cardinals leading the Milwaukee Brewers by only one game. The team who finishes second in the division will be one of the NL’s Wild Card teams and will face the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night.
CARDINALS vs. CUBS: Tonight, 7:15 p.m. ET (FOX)
BREWERS at ROCKIES: Tonight, 8:10 p.m. ET
Missed Yesterday’s Roundup? Click here for it.