The daily sports news cycle is crazier than ever. Don't have the stamina to keep up to speed? Around The Bases is your daily morning destination to stay in the know on the biggest stories in both local and professional sports. We’ll start at first base with an intriguing story or event, and bring you home with a must-read story in the North Peace sports scene.
First Base - Serge Ibaka suspended three games
Serge Ibaka was handed a three-game suspension yesterday for his role in the fight with Marquese Chriss in the Raptors' ugly loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, March 11. It's still kind of an ugly thing to watch — Ibaka falls down, seemingly on his own, and reacts to a comment Chris makes and shoves Chriss by the throat into the net. Chriss at least threw the first punch, which prompted Ibaka to throw his, though it's not an excuse. Either way, it's hard to argue about the suspension. I only thought it would be one or two games, but whatever, these games aren't the most important right now and the NBA didn't have much of a choice.
Second Base - Ronaldo saves Juventus with hat trick
The Christiano Ronaldo on Juventus era has started a bit quietly in his first year with the Italian squad. Sure, the team is absolutely dominating Serie A, but he was brought there to win a Champions League. However, in just the Round of 16, Juventus was down 2-0 to Atletico Madrid after the first leg. In the second leg yesterday, Ronaldo broke through and finally had his signature game with Juventus. He scored a hat trick, with the final goal coming on a penalty kick in the 86th minute. Juventus completely dominated the game, and won 3-2 on aggregate to advance to the quarterfinals. It was nice to see a flash of his former self (I'm slightly exaggerating, as his former self was evident as recent as last summer's World Cup), and I'm excited to see if Juve can ride this momentum for a long Champions League run.
Third Base - Mark Shapiro doesn't know when Jays will contend again
Surprise, surprise. Blue Jays President Mark Shapiro said yesterday that he doesn't know when the Jays will be a contender again, and won't put a timeline on it. This confirms that this season will be a waste and hard to watch, as they'll constantly be cycling through different young players to see what they have, without the goal of actually trying to win games. It's even more frustrating because I was hoping to really get back into watching the Jays this season and that seems like a futile gesture. Yes, it does make a little sense, and this is likely Shapiro refusing to make news and back himself into a corner if the Jays becoming good sooner or later than he thought. In reality, he and the team would be happy to have the team be good within a year or two, but his words do little to inspire confidence in us fans. Also, with the strained oblique injury that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. sufferred, the Jays will be even more cautious in terms of when he'll make his big league debut.
Home Base - Cleveland Browns trade for Odell Beckham Jr., Bell signs with Jets
The NFL free agency period has been icredibly exciting. While there wern't a lot of star players on the market at first, a ton of money was being tossed around and it was cool to see so many teams make big moves. But now, the big names are starting to sign. First, the Oakland Raiders traded and then extended wide receiver Antonio Brown. Then, last night the Cleveland Browns shocked the football world by trading for Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants. The Browns gave up a first round draft pick this year as well as a third round draft pick, plus safety Jabril Peppers. The Browns now have Beckham, Beckham's LSU teammate Jarvis Landry, Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt on offense, making them one of the most intriguing and exciting offenses in the NFL. For the Giants, the trade, in terms of what they got back, wasn't terrible, but the decision to trade him this year was. The team could have traded Beckham last year for a first round pick instead of signing him to his current deal (the Giants will have to eat $13 million of dead money), and could have used that pick last year to get a quarterback. Instead, while it does look like they are rebuilding, that rebuild has been delayed a year when it could have started last season. Last last night, the New York Jets also made news, signing running back Leveon Bell to a four-year, $52 milion contract, with $35 million guaranteed. His annual salary of $13.25 million makes him the second highest paid running back behind Todd Gurley. While Bell did pass up a one-year deal worth $14.5 million from the Pittsburgh Steelers last season, he did get the guaranteed money he was looking for, and doesn't have to worry about getting injured the next two seasons.
Around the Bases runs Monday through Friday. If you have a news tip or story to share, email Dillon Giancola at firstname.lastname@example.org.