First, we discuss Naomi Osaka’s abrupt withdrawal from the French Open, following her announcement that she was refusing to attend the mandatory post-match press conferences for reasons of mental health. It’s a tricky issue. Player agency and mental health struggles are beginning to be treated with the seriousness that they deserve, and the post-match conferences at the French Open aren’t particularly rich grounds for good journalism. But it’s also interesting that other tennis players didn’t join Osaka in opting out of press conferences. We can only hope this will be a teachable moment for sports organizations in how not to handle a player who is opening up about their history of depression and anxiety — and that we’ll see Osaka back on the court soon.
Next, we take a look at the NBA playoffs and their injuries — so many injuries. The Sixers and Lakers are both worried about their big men, with Joel Embiid and Anthony Davis each exiting early from their most recent games. The bigger worry may be the Mavericks, who looked adrift without an ailing Luka Dončić. The Clippers came up with big wins over the weekend but, at least for us, that doesn’t erase their shaky reputation in the playoffs. They’re built to win titles, not slip past Dallas. Another early exit, and the team’s current structure might well collapse. It will be fascinating to see how they perform during the rest of this postseason, and it would be nice if fans across the league stopped throwing things at players in the meantime. Look, if the Clippers can dream, so can we.
Finally, in the Rabbit Hole, Neil talks about where a few MLB stats stand right now — just shy of 60 games into the season, right about when we were ending the regular season last year. We’re all very grateful to have over 100 games ahead of us, but in exactly one respect, it’s a shame we can’t freeze the numbers here: There are some surprising players having unexpectedly great starts and some rookies who would have had stunning first “years” if the season ended now, but who will probably regress to the mean.
What we’re looking at this week: