The Field of Dreams Game will be awesome — despite the Cubs and Reds. Plus, Tigers finally fire Al Avila

Happy Thursday, folks. Hope you’re doing well.

Let’s get right to it.

Good morning to everyone but especially to…

THE CHICAGO CUBS AND THE CINCINNATI REDS

Tonight’s game between the Cubs and the Reds doesn’t have any playoff implications; those hopes died long ago. The pitching matchup isn’t particularly notable, and neither team has a high-powered offense.

But it will be the best game you can watch, because it’s the Field of Dreams Game, and the Field of Dreams Game is awesome.

The teams will meet at 7:15 p.m. in Dyersville, Iowa, on a field that pays homage to the classic 1989 film. They’re wearing throwback uniforms and hoping to put on a game half as entertaining as last year’s Field of Dreams Game, when the White Sox beat the Yankees, 9-8 thanks to Tim Anderson‘s walk-off home run into the corn.

That game was watched by nearly six million viewers, making it the most-watched MLB game on any network since 1998. This year’s game will again have plenty of cool features, and you should make sure to watch, as it may be the last Field of Dreams Game for a bit: the stadium is set to undergo construction, and a 2023 game appears unlikely.

Honorable mentions

And not such a good morning for…


Getty Images

AL AVILA

The Tigers‘ seemingly endless rebuild has finally cost executive vice president and general manager Al Avila his job. Avila, who’s been with the club since 2002 and GM since 2015, was fired as the Tigers sport the third-worst record in baseball.

  • Detroit has the worst record in MLB since Avila became GM and hasn’t made the playoffs over that span.
  • This stretch follows Detroit winning the AL Central every year from 2011-2014.
  • This year, Detroit has one of MLB’s worst offenses despite adding Javier Báez and Austin Meadows this offseason.

It’s not hard to see why it was time for Avila to go, notes our MLB guru Matt Snyder.

  • Snyder: “Under Avila, the Tigers have traded the likes of Justin Verlander, J.D. Martinez, Justin Upton and Nick Castellanos. They’ve also had the No. 1 overall pick in the draft twice and had very high selections most other seasons. Still, the farm system has consistently ranked toward the bottom third of the league by most outlets.”

Tigers chairman Christopher Ilitch will oversee the hiring process of a new GM.

Not so honorable mentions

Deshaun Watson expected to start preseason game, even though Roger Goodell says he deserves full-season ban

The Browns plan to start Deshaun Watson in tomorrow’s preseason opener at Jacksonville, even as the possibility of a suspension hangs over the quarterback.

  • The NFL is currently appealing Watson’s six-game suspension issued by former U.S. Judge Sue L. Robinson. Former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey will oversee the appeal hearing.
  • NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said that Watson deserves a full-season suspension due to multiple “egregious” violations of the NFL’s personal conduct policy as well as “predatory behavior.”
  • Watson faced 24 civil lawsuits that accused him of sexual misconduct during massage sessions when he was with the Texans. He has settled 23 of the 24 lawsuits and denied any wrongdoing. He also was not indicted on criminal charges by two Texas grand juries earlier this offseason.

There is no timetable for Harvey’s decision, according to Goodell, though the Browns’ plan to start Watson tomorrow could change that. Under the collective bargaining agreement, Harvey’s decision constitutes a “full, final and complete disposition of the dispute” that cannot be appealed.

Should Watson be unable to play, the Browns will likely turn to Jacoby Brissett. Overall, Cleveland plans to play “most of their starters” tomorrow.

Wake Forest star QB Sam Hartman out indefinitely with non-football related condition 🏈

Sam Hartman, the standout Wake Forest quarterback who was second in preseason ACC Player of the Year voting, is out indefinitely as he undergoes treatment for a non-football related condition. Hartman sought medical assistance during Tuesday’s practice, and subsequent testing results showed he needs to be away from the team.

Demon Deacons head coach Dave Clawson said he expects Hartman to return at some point this season.

  • Hartman’s 72 career passing touchdowns are a program record. He also set the school mark for passing yards in a season (4,228) last year while accounting for 50 touchdowns (39 passing, 11 rushing).
  • Wake Forest is coming off an 11-3 season that included an ACC Championship Game appearance and a Gator Bowl victory.
  • Redshirt freshman Mitch Griffis will take over as starter. He has appeared in eight games in his career and thrown just 15 passes.

This is obviously a huge blow for Wake Forest and for Hartman, a fifth-year junior who has dealt with injury and later battled back to regain the starting job during his time in Winston-Salem prior to this ailment. Clawson described him as “such a good leader for our program” at ACC Kickoff in July.

Kevin Durant views Celtics as ‘desirable landing spot’ 🏀


Getty Images

Another day, another twist to the Kevin Durant drama. The Nets superstar reportedly has the Celtics as a “desirable landing spot” … should he be traded. 

Durant’s trade request has been on the table for over a month, but there seems to be little momentum for a trade currently. Let’s go back a bit and look at some of the teams most strongly connected to Durant as a potential landing spot:

  • Suns: Initially a frontrunner, the Suns’ best asset was Deandre Ayton, but when the Pacers agreed to a 4-year, $133-million max offer sheet with him, the Suns immediately matched that, keeping him in Phoenix until at least Jan. 15, 2023.
  • Heat: The Heat were another early frontrunner, but their most attractive asset is Bam Adebayo, who can’t play alongside current Net Ben Simmons because the NBA has a rule that a team cannot trade for multiple players who have max extensions after their rookie contract. Simmons came to Brooklyn as part of the James Harden trade.
  • Celtics: Boston emerged in late July, reportedly offering Jaylen Brown, Derrick White and a first-round pick. Brooklyn countered with Brown, Marcus Smart, multiple draft picks and potentially one more rotation player.

Even with this latest report, this all could take a while before it gets solved, writes NBA expert Sam Quinn.

  • Quinn: “The Celtics are the only team to have thus far put a young star on the table. That puts them in the driver’s seat here. That is especially true if Durant continues to pressure the Nets to make a trade. … Such an action will likely lower Durant’s trade value, but the Nets appear determined to get fair value back in a trade. That means this thing could lag into training camp.”

Which teams could cause major chaos this college football season? 👀


CBS Sports Graphic

The best thing about college football is the chaos. Only four out of the 131 FBS teams make the College Football Playoff. From the beginning of the season (less than three weeks away!) to conference championship weekend, the field of title contenders will be whittled down by unexpected, thrilling and — for lack of a better word — chaotic upsets.

So, who’s going to cause all this chaos? Who’s going to ruin a season with a big-time win? College football expert (and my fellow CBS Sports HQ newsletter writer) Tom Fornelli has five teams who could shake things up big time, including Auburn, who gets…

  • Penn State (Sept. 17)
  • at Georgia (Oct. 8)
  • Texas A&M (Nov. 12)
  • Alabama (Nov. 26)

Auburn and chaos, after all, go hand-in-hand.

  • Fornelli: “How could one write about chaos in college football and not mention Auburn at some point? Chaos is the only non-chaotic thing about the program… Auburn is never more dangerous than when you expect nothing of it, so be wary, playoff contenders within the SEC … Should the Tigers pair that defense with a good day on offense in those games, they could destroy somebody’s season.”

What we’re watching Thursday 📺

🏈 Giants at Patriots, 7 p.m. on NFL Network
Field of Dreams Game: Cubs at Reds, 7:15 p.m. on FOX
🏀 Sky at Aces, 10 p.m. on NBA TV

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