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There’s No Easy Goodbyes In Baseball

First, we talk about Albert Pujols’s release from the Los Angeles Angels, with just one year remaining on his 10-year deal. It’s the kind of contract for an older player that we’re not likely to see again in MLB, although long-term deals do pay off, especially for pitchers — just ask the Nationals about Max Scherzer. But even though the Angels never got the performance they wanted from Pujols, his time there isn’t likely to damage his first-ballot Hall of Fame status. We’ll probably think of him in a similar way to Ken Griffey Jr. as time goes by, and the dropoff later in his career won’t spoil the incredible things he did in St. Louis. Maybe now he can relax and be honest about his age.

Next, we turn to the WNBA, which kicks off its regular season on Friday. There’s already been a fair bit of drama, Nicki Collen leaving the Atlanta Dream to take the head coaching job at Baylor just before the season gets underway. But Baylor is one of those programs that don’t open up very often, so Collen’s departure probably has less to say about the state of the WNBA or Atlanta as a franchise (although they’re also now down a GM) than it does about the draw of one of the best jobs in women’s college basketball. As for what’s coming this season, our brand new WNBA predictions — which will be out on the site Wednesday — give the Seattle Storm a 1 in 3 chance to repeat as champs. The Storm should probably be getting a little bit more credit than they did for the dominating performance they put on last year, but we’re excited for the Las Vegas Aces and the Connecticut Sun to make it interesting. 

Finally, in the Rabbit Hole, Neil looks at the incredible season Connor McDavid is having offensively. It’s impressive to score more than 100 points any year in hockey, but to do it in a pandemic season that has been truncated by over 30 games is unreal. Adjusted, McDavid’s stats put him right with Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux (as well as a couple guys from the 1920s). The Oilers have a small shot at the Stanley Cup this year, but if you were to time-travel McDavid back to the ’80s, he could probably score 200 points for Edmonton.

What we’re looking at this week: 

Sarah Shachat is Hot Takedown’s producer.

Sara Ziegler is the former sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Neil Paine was the acting sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Geoff Foster is the former sports editor of FiveThirtyEight.