We start with the conclusion of the NBA Finals. The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Miami Heat in convincing fashion after a blowout Game 6, and LeBron James now has his fourth ring. Naturally, the accomplishment has revived the old question of whether LeBron did/can/should unseat Michael Jordan as the GOAT. The Hot Takedown team is pretty skeptical of the usefulness of the question but does believe that with this championship, LeBron has attained some achievements so singular not even the most ardent Jordan defenders can argue with them — although, of course, they will. We’re living in a much more player-driven era now, in no small part because LeBron was willing to switch teams, so James winning three championships with three different franchises speaks to his ability to be the driving force behind a successful postseason and to play the kind of smart, team-driven basketball that makes the current game so good. Whether one prefers the kind of hero ball that Jordan played is just that: a preference.
Next, we turn to the four remaining teams in the MLB postseason. Well, specifically, we talk about the heels of the league, the Houston Astros: whether their hot play in the postseason is strange (it isn’t); whether the cheating scandal has had an effect on the way their 2020 has gone (maybe); and whether a World Series appearance would change their recent legacy (probably not much). What’s been the most impressive surprise, besides the Tampa Bay Rays proving that even the smallest player can change the course of the future, is how the Atlanta Braves’ pitching has stepped up right when it needed to, bolstering the team’s incredible offensive talent. In our very serious and consequential World Series draft, Geoff has the Los Angeles Dodgers, the most likely winner according to our model, and Sara has the remainder of the field. Our hosts have plenty of sympathy for the Dodgers, a consistently great team whose time should be now. But Neil, at least, is inclined to bet on the field.
Finally, in the Rabbit Hole, Sara takes us into the world of team mascots and why so many teams across all levels of sports still use Native American names and iconography. We’ve seen a bunch of schools change their names — and in some cases adopt nightmarish gargoyle replacements — in recent years, but there are still 45 high schools across the United States using the Washington Football Team’s former name. So it will be interesting to see if the number of teams using Native names and images continues to diminish, or if communities who see these mascots as a way to preserve their identity further entrench themselves.
What we’re looking at this week: