Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart, Seattle Storm
With the help of both Bird and Stewart, two UConn women’s basketball icons, the Seattle Storm have managed to fight their way deep into the WNBA postseason. They swept the Washington Mystics 2-0 to advance past round one of the playoffs and find themselves in a semifinal date with the top-seeded Las Vegas Aces. After winning game one of the series, the Storm yielded their next two games to the Aces and found themselves down 2-1 heading into a win-or-go-home game on Tuesday night. Though the fate of that game will have already been decided by the time of publication of this article, Seattle can hardly blame their deficit on the performances of Bird and Stewart. Stewart scored 24 points and had six rebounds while Bird recorded 12 assists in that Game 1 victory. The pair followed up their act with performances of 32 points by Stewart and an all-around showing (six points, six assists, four rebounds) by Bird in a narrow 78-73 loss in Game 2. In Game 3, Stewart and Bird had perhaps their best combined stat line of the postseason. Stewart managed 20 points to go with 15 rebounds and six assists in addition to the 17 points and eight assists recorded by Bird in the 110-98 overtime loss. Should the Storm fail to force a decisive Game 5 by winning on Tuesday night, then Bird would have played her final WNBA game after she announced back in June that the 2022 season would be her last. After a storied college and professional career, Bird is a surefire hall-of-famer and will be eligible for enshrinement in the National Basketball Hall of Fame in 2027.
George Springer, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
Springer has been hot for the better part of the last month. In his last 30 games through Tuesday afternoon, the slugging outfielder has put together a batting average of .306 with a couple of home runs and 18 runs batted in. However, his last month of action has been plagued by the rough stretch that Springer currently finds himself in: in his last 31 at-bats, Springer is hitting only .161 with one RBI. In his prior 31 at-bats, Springer managed to slash .483 with eight RBIs and a whopping 10 more hits than he’s managed in his current stretch. Many believe that Springer has simply lost his plate discipline and is chasing pitches that aren’t strikes. He’ll need to readjust his approach and do a better job of recognizing pitches if he wants to produce at his typical level. While the Blue Jays have managed to continue to win games without the star production that they’ve grown accustomed to expecting from their starting center fielder, a turnaround from Springer would bode well for Toronto’s playoff hopes. After victories in their previous five contests, the Blue Jays have secured sole possession of the third and final American League wild card position and have a 4.5 game lead over the next-place Baltimore Orioles. With aspirations of chasing a World Series title, having a more-disciplined Springer will do wonders for a dangerous Toronto lineup that includes stars Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Teoscar Hernández.
In other news… Andre Blake, GK, Philadelphia Union
Last Wednesday marked a special day for Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Andre Blake as he made his 200th MLS regular season start. The former first overall selection in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, Blake has spent nine seasons with the Union. Over those nine seasons, he has amassed three MLS All-Star Appearances, two MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Awards and owns most of the major records for goalkeepers in Union history.