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#pounditThursday, August 11, 2022

Stories by Aaron Mansfield:

10 must-watch U.S. athletes at the Winter Olympics

Mikaela Shiffrin

Though the Winter Olympics are sometimes looked at as the “little brother” of the Summer Games — there’s no basketball, track and field, or gymnastics! — the events always prove to be entertaining.

And though there’s one extra knock on the upcoming Pyeongchang Winter Games — NHL players won’t be competing — it’s all but certain Americans will still find themselves glued to the action. NBC’s coverage of the 2014 Sochi Games averaged 21.4 million viewers, which is a number comparable to the viewership of an early-round NFL playoff game or a much-hyped regular season game, an impressive feat considering the Games span 17 nights.

With the competitions based around less-heralded sports such as curling, speed-skating, and snowboarding, there are always a few breakout stars. In the 2014 Sochi Games (can you believe it’s been four years?), the U.S. had T.J. Oshie, Mikaela Shiffrin, and Sage Kotsenburg — not to mention the incredible commentary of Johnny Weir.

With this year’s Games less than one month away (they’ll run Feb. 9-25), we thought some of you could use a primer on a handful of the key United States athletes who will compete in South Korea. Here are 10 home-grown athletes who will likely dominate NBC’s coverage.

1. Lindsey Vonn, Skier

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Astros top Yankees 2-1, take 1-0 ALCS lead

The Houston Astros jumped out to a 1-0 series lead over the New York Yankees with a 2-1 win in the series opener in Houston Friday night.

It was a pitchers’ duel early on, with New York’s Masahiro Tanaka and Houston’s Dallas Keuchel both stymying batters. Keuchel amassed six strikeouts in his first four innings of work, and Tanaka had a no-hitter through three.

In the fourth inning, Houston’s offense showed signs of life and the Astros got on the board. Carlos Correa drove home Jose Altuve, and Yuli Gurriel drove home Correa. Those would prove to be the only runs Houston would need.

The Yankees came close to scoring in the following frame. Aaron Judge nailed a line drive to left field, and it looked like Greg Bird would score from second. However, Houston leftfielder Marwin Gonzalez showed off his canon and gunned Bird out at the plate.

Ken Giles, who is now 35/39 on save opportunities this year, closed out the game. Bird drilled a solo shot to right field to put the Yankees on the board with two outs in the ninth inning, but Giles struck out Jacoby Ellsbury to end the game.

Keuchel got the win, while Tanaka, who was marvelous in defeat and only gave up four hits in six innings of work, took the loss.

Game 2 will take place Saturday at 4:30 p.m. EST at Houston’s Minute Maid Park. Luis Severino and Justin Verlander are the expected starting pitchers. The game will air on Fox; it is the lone game in this series that will not appear on FS1.

Syracuse upsets Clemson, ending longest win streak in NCAA Football

Dabo Swinney

The No. 2 Clemson Tigers suffered a massive upset Friday night at the hands of the Syracuse Orange. Syracuse won, 27-24, claiming the victory at home. The Orange fans stormed the field after the upset.

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Kawhi Leonard will miss start of season with thigh injury

Kawhi Leonard

Spurs swingman Kawhi Leonard has missed the team’s training camp and preseason with a left thigh injury. It isn’t clear yet when he will be fully recovered, but we do now know that Leonard will miss some regular season time.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told reporters Friday that Leonard will not play in the team’s regular season game against Minnesota Wednesday in San Antonio.

“He won’t be available,” Popovich said.

Popovich didn’t have a timetable for Leonard’s return.

“I don’t gauge it,” Popovich told reporters. “He’s still rehabbing and when he’s ready, he’ll be ready. I try not to qualify it.”

Leonard last season averaged 25.5 points and 5.8 rebounds. He was a finalist for the NBA’s MVP award.

Marwin Gonzalez guns runner out at plate to keep Astros ahead

The Astros and Yankees are currently battling in Game One of the American League Championship Series.

In the fourth inning, Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel gave the Astros a 2-0 lead. In the following frame, however, the Yankees threatened to get right back into it.

With a man in scoring position, Aaron Judge drilled a sharp line drive to left field. Greg Bird charged toward home.

Houston leftfielder Marwin Gonzalez came up huge, though, and gunned Bird out at the plate.

The throw kept Houston up by two runs, and in the bottom of the sixth, the score remains the same. The Astros are three innings from a 1-0 series lead.

Clemson QB Kelly Bryant leaves game with concussion

Kelly Bryant

Clemson junior quarterback Kelly Bryant, the heir apparent to Deshaun Watson, left the Tigers’ game against Syracuse in the first half Friday. Bryant had to be helped off the field after taking a brutal hit from Syracuse lineman Chris Slayton. Slayton slammed Bryant, who was scrambling, to the turf.

At the half, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney told ESPN Bryant suffered a concussion.

Athletic trainers helped Bryant to his feet and he slowly walked off the turf. He was 12 of 17 for 116 yards at the time of the injury.

Entering Friday’s game, Bryant had thrown for 1,259 yards, four touchdowns, and four interceptions. He had also rushed for 401 yards and seven touchdowns.

The teams were tied at 24 at the end of the third quarter.

The next man up under center for the Tigers is redshirt freshman Zerrick Cooper.

Correa, Gurriel give Astros first lead of ALCS in pitchers’ duel

Carlos Correa

The American League Championship Series was a pitcher’s duel early on. In the first three innings, New York’s Masahiro Tanaka didn’t allow a hit, and Houston’s Dallas Keuchel amassed five strikeouts.

In the fourth, however, the Astros became the first team to get on the board in the series.

Jose Altuve singled, then stole second base, narrowly beating the throw. Then, with the speedy Altuve in scoring position, Carlos Correa singled on a line drive to left field. Correa brought Altuve home, putting Houston up 1-0.

Tanaka retired the next batter he faced, Marwin Gonzalez, but Yuli Gurriel singled, and Correa, who advanced on Gonzalez’s groundout, scored from second.

Heading into the fifth inning, Houston had a 2-0 lead.

Drake wears ‘Kentucky Dad’ hoodie, addresses crowd at Big Blue Madness

Drake Doris Burke shirt

Sorry, Ashley Judd — Drake is the most famous Kentucky basketball fan on the planet. The Wildcats super fan is a fixture at the basketball program’s biggest events.

Friday, the program had its Big Blue Madness event, and of course, Drake was there. He even spoke to the crowd and gave a hug to his friend, head coach John Calipari. He also wore a hoodie that read “Kentucky Dad.”

Speaking to the crowd, Drake called himself “a Wildcat through and through.”

The Canadian hip-hop star added that he’ll one day put on a free concert for students.

“I want my players and anyone out there to know if you want to emulate excellence, yet maintain humility, emulate Drake,” Calipari told the Courier-Journal. “If you want to emulate a strong drive, embracing the biggest stage and the goodness of a compassionate heart, you emulate Drake.”

In case you’re wondering, no — Drake didn’t put up any jumpers at this Big Blue Madness.

NFL longsnapper Jon Dorenbos shares story of his emergency open heart surgery

The talented NFL longsnapper and musician Jon Dorenbos had a serious health scare last month. After the Eagles traded him to the Saints, Dorenbos had a physical with his new team. Doctors discovered the 37-year-old had an aortic aneurysm.

Thursday, Dorenbos shared details of his emergency open heart surgery.

One month ago today I underwent emergency open heart surgery. My wife never left my side. She held my hand every step of the way. Life is crazy. One min I was a professional athlete, the next min I was fighting for my life. The video in this collage shows how the simplest things in life we sometimes take for granted. May we all be thankful for the beautiful people and world that surround us every day. To the UPENN Cardiac Care Nurses (Silver10) you all are #Saints – thank you! You make this world a better place. #SpecialPeople – Dr Bavaria, whom performed my surgery, I love you man!! You are a genius. You are an artist. You are a savant. Thank you for making valve replacement and aortic aneurysms your thing!! You are the best in the world for a reason. This world is a better place with you in it #ImAlive #goodDay

A post shared by Jon Dorenbos (@jondorenbos) on

“Life is crazy,” Dorenbos wrote. “One min I was a professional athlete, the next min I was fighting for my life…may we all be thankful for the beautiful people and world that surround us every day.”

In the caption he expressed gratitude for the medical staff that saved his life. It seems unlikely that Dorenbos will play in the NFL again, but there is certainly a happy ending to this story.

Klay Thompson and Roger Federer plan epic ping-pong match

Roger Federer

Roger Federer is one of the greatest tennis competitors of all-time. Klay Thompson is one of the greatest shooters in the history of basketball. So, any athletic competition between these two would be a treat.

It appears there is potential for a legendary ping-pong match between the two. It started with Warriors coach Steve Kerr relaying a conversation between the athletes that happened last week in Shanghai.

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