FALCON POINTS

Why the bubble has been a sports fan's dream come true

Photo by Getty Images.

The NBA playoffs are under way, with all day basketball. The NHL playoffs are also in full swing, and after a play-in round, we are getting three or four games a day.

From a fan's perspective, they have both been rousing successes.

While it sucks people can't be at the games, both leagues have done a terrific job of managing the events. The quality of play has been better than expected after a long layoff, and we have seen some incredible moments.

The feared Covid spread has not happened, so the bubble concept is clearly working.

The leagues themselves are losing millions with no fans, but they are at least getting TV money. The good news? If they have to start next season without fans, they now have a workable model.

With many people stuck working from home, it is possible to get work done and watch all the games at the same time. It is also a betting person's bonanza.

Many were skeptical that this could be pulled off, but Dana White was doing it for months with the UFC. Constant testing, limited contact and social distancing have worked like a charm.

In the case of the NBA, the 8-9 seed play-in was a huge success. Who got in to that matchup came down to the last shot of a game only made it better. In the NHL, the play-in round gave teams like Chicago and Montreal - who would have missed the playoffs in a normal year - a chance to earn a spot in the big tournament.

In essence, what we have seen is very much like the first week of the NCAA Tournament, which is one of the best sporting events of the year. One game after another, exciting action and all of our favorite players.

It would be cool to see both leagues maybe implement a version of this going forward. Yes, it waters things down to have so many playoff teams, but the atmosphere has been incredible.

The NFL should consider something similar, but they seem committed to the baseball model. Despite some Covid cases, that has worked well also. There was never going to be a scenario where there would be no one getting sick. Considering how few outbreaks there have been, it has to be considered a success as well.

So all in all, sports have returned, and they have been worth the wait. The bubble has worked. The set up has worked. The playoffs are working.

The leagues have made the best of a bad situation, and somehow made it even better.

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Houston now trails in the fall classic

Astros fall in World Series Game 1 as Braves come out swinging

Framber Valdez had a forgettable start in World Series Game 1 as the Braves tagged him with five runs. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a dominant end to win the ALCS and American League pennant, the Houston Astros welcomed in the National League champion Atlanta Braves for World Series Game 1 at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday. With Houston favored to win not just this game but the entire series, the Braves shook up those expectations by finding early success at the plate to build a lead they would hold to take a 1-0 series lead.

Final Score: Braves 6, Astros 2

World Series (Best of Seven): Atlanta leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: A.J. Minter

Losing Pitcher: Framber Valdez

Valdez unable to replicate ALCS Game 5 success as Braves mount early lead

For the optimist, not having home-field advantage in an MLB postseason series affords you a benefit: you can score first and take captive momentum first in the series. The Braves did that against Framber Valdez, as Jorge Soler became the first player in league history to hit a homer in the first plate appearance of a World Series, putting Atlanta out to an immediate 1-0 lead. They would get another in the first frame, getting a one-out infield single by Ozzie Albies, who would steal second to get in position for an RBI double by Austin Riley.

Houston had the chance to respond in their first inning against former teammate Charlie Morton, getting a single and two walks to load the bases with no outs. They'd strand all three runners, though, as Morton made it through unscathed but having used 26 pitches. Atlanta kept putting stress on Valdez, extending their lead to three runs with back-to-back singles to start the second before later getting an RBI groundout.

Valdez gave up two more in the top of the third, once again allowing a leadoff single, this one setting up a two-run homer to make it a 5-0 Braves lead and forcing Houston's starter out of the game early. Yimi Garcia entered and was able to retire the three batters he faced to end the frame.

Braves lose Morton to injury as both bullpens begin long night

After stranding the bases loaded in the bottom of the first to keep the Astros off the board, Morton followed it up with a 1-2-3 second. He started the bottom of the third by retiring his fifth batter in a row, getting a strikeout of Jose Altuve. He would immediately call trainers to get him out of the game, though, as he would later be diagnosed with a fractured fibula, presumably from a ball that ricocheted off his leg in the prior inning, ending his season in a disappointing turn of events for the Braves.

That set up a long night for both bullpens, and next up for Houston was Jake Odorizzi. He started with a scoreless fourth, working around a two-out error to keep it a five-run game. The Astros began a rally in the bottom of the fourth, getting runners on the corners with one out on a Kyle Tucker double and Yuli Gurriel single. Chas McCormick brought in the first run of the board for Houston, but that's all they would get as Atlanta's lead remained four runs.

Astros drop Game 1

Odorizzi kept going on the mound, tossing a 1-2-3 fifth, then getting one out before a one-out single in the top of the sixth would prompt Dusty Baker to move on to Phil Maton, who finished the inning. Maton returned in the top of the seventh, getting a strikeout before a double and a walk would result in the call to bring in Ryne Stanek.

A double play against his first batter allowed Stanek to finish the seventh, and then he returned in the eighth. He faced three batters that frame, getting one out before a walk and a single would put runners on the corners as Houston moved on to Brooks Raley. A sac fly by Freddie Freeman off of Raley made it a five-run lead again, but a leadoff triple by Yordan Alvarez in the bottom of the inning would set up Carlos Correa for an RBI, a groundout to make it 6-2.

Atlanta's bullpen continued to do well, though, limiting the damage to that one run in the eighth, then returning to hold on to the four-run lead in the bottom of the ninth to give the Braves the upset win to start the series. The loss extends their home losing streak in the World Series to five games (having lost all four at home in the 2019 World Series against the Nationals) and puts them down 0-1 and in need of a win in Game 2 to try and reset the series into a best-of-five.

Up Next: World Series Game 2 will be another 7:09 PM Central scheduled start time on Wednesday from Minute Maid Park. The expected pitching matchup is Max Fried, who is 1-1 with a 3.78 ERA in three postseason starts, for the Braves, and Jose Urquidy, who went just 1.2 innings while allowing six runs (five earned) in his start in the ALCS.

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