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This Week in Sports

The San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard celebrates after hitting the game-winning shot with seconds left on the clock against the Orlando Magic at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla., on February 10, 2016. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)

Welcome to another weekly roundup in the world of sports. This week, Kawhi Leonard requests a trade from the San Antonio Spurs, the Houston Astros win their 11th straight, the U.S. Open has its first back-to-back champion in almost 30 years and the World Cup starts off with a bang.

National Basketball Association

After much speculation about the relationship between the San Antonio Spurs and their star player, Kawhi Leonard last season, it appears Leonard’s time in San Antonio may be done. According to multiple sources, Leonard has requested a trade out of San Antonio.

This all comes after a season where Leonard missed all but nine games and his teammates and coaching staff questioned his commitment to the team. Leonard has made it clear that he prefers to go to Los Angeles to join the Lakers, but the Spurs don’t have to give into his demands. Leonard has one more year remaining on his contract and the Spurs could choose to keep him for this last year.

The odds are however, they’ll shop him and see where they can get the most return for their star player. He’s a top five player in the NBA and it would be hard for them to part ways with him, but teams have learned from Oklahoma City’s handling of Kevin Durant that’s it’s better to get something in return than to lose a player to free agency.

LeBron James and Paul George are both free agents this summer and most believe they’re going to team up in Los Angeles with the Lakers. If Leonard can work a trade to the Lakers, there’s a chance of a new super team in the West to challenge the defending champion Golden State Warriors.

Major League Baseball

The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox continue to go toe-to-toe and battle for American League East supremacy. They remained tied at the top of the division separated by only a few percentage points. While they battle it out atop the division, the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays battle for third place. They have identical records and are 15 games out of first. And then there is the lowly Baltimore Orioles. Currently the worst team in baseball, they lost nine straight games before winning for the first time in nearly two weeks on Sunday.

Don’t look now but the Detroit Tigers are only two and a half games out of first place behind the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central. Cleveland sits at 37-33 but Detroit has won five straight games and is now just one game below .500. The Minnesota Twins remain not far out either as they are only five games back of Cleveland. The Chicago White Sox have scratched and clawed their way out of last place in the division and now sit in fourth place 13 games out of first. The Cental’s new last place team is the Kansas City Royals. Losers of six straight and nine of the last 10, Kansas City is 15.5 games back and is one loss away from their 50th on the season.

The defending champions are making a push right now and are the hottest team in baseball. The Houston Astros have won 11 straight games and are in first place in the AL West. The Seattle Mariners remain close just a game and a half back of the Astros. Taking a step back this past week was the Los Angeles Angels. They’ve lost six of their last 10 and have fallen to nine and a half games out of first place. The Oakland Athletics are sitting at .500 and have stayed steady without gaining or losing ground in the division as of late. The Texas Rangers remain in the cellar 19 games out.

The Atlanta Braves continue to surprise and are playing great baseball. They have a three and a half game lead in the National League East over the Washington Nationals, a team most thought would run away with the division. The Nationals have lost three in-a-row and have the Philadelphia Phillies right on their heels. The Phillies are a half game back of Washington and four games out of first. The New York Mets meanwhile, have continued to struggle and have fallen to 30-38 and are 10.5 games out of first and only have a four-game lead over the last place Miami Marlins.

In the NL Central, the Chicago Cubs have moved into a first place tie with the Milwaukee Brewers. The Cubs have been gaining ground in the division over the last couple of weeks and this week, they gained more ground. The St. Louis Cardinals are four and a half games behind the Cubs and Brewers and have the Pittsburgh Pirates two and a half games behind them. The Cincinnati Reds remain the odd team out in this division with a 26-45 record.

The NL West has remained interesting. All five teams are within six and a half games of each other. The Arizona Diamondbacks hold the top spot in the division and the Los Angeles Dodgers are right behind them trailing only by a game and a half. The San Francisco Giants are two games below .500 and are four and half games out of first with the once promising Colorado Rockies just a half game behind them. The San Diego Padres are in last place, but unlike all the other last place teams, they are still within striking distance of the division-leading Diamondbacks.

ESPN’s top five power rankings

1. Houston Astros (48-25)
2. New York Yankees (46-21)
3. Boston Red Sox (49-24)
4. Chicago Cubs (40-27)
5. Seattle Mariners (46-26)

The Collegiate’s top five power rankings

1. Houston Astros (48-25)
2. New York Yankees (46-21)
3. Boston Red Sox (49-24)
4. Seattle Mariners (46-26)
5. Chicago Cubs (40-27)

West Michigan Whitecaps

The West Michigan Whitecaps started this past week off hosting the South Bend Cubs for the final game of a five game series. The Cubs ended up winning the game 6-3 and four out the five games in the series.

Following the tough home stand, the Whitecaps hit the road for a midweek, three game series against the Great Lakes Loons. The week before, the Loons visited Fifth Third Ballpark and were swept by the Whitecaps. This week, the Loons were looking for some revenge on their home turf. The Loons took the first two games of the series on Tuesday and Wednesday but the Whitecaps avoided being swept with a 9-6 victory on Thursday.

Friday night, the Whitecaps came back home for a three-game, Father’s Day weekend series against the Dayton Dragons. The Collegiate was at the game Friday night to watch Grand Rapids Community College President Bill Pink throw out the first pitch before an exciting 5-4 walk-off win. Saturday, the Dragons tried to rebound from that tough loss the night before. West Michigan had other things in mind however, and beat Dayton 9-4. The Whitecaps were looking for a sweep on a hot and humid Father’s Day. They ended up treating all the fathers on hand to an 8-0 win and completed the sweep of the Dragons.

The Whitecaps will get a three-day break at the beginning of the week before heading to Fort Wayne, Indiana on Thursday to take on the Tincaps for a four game series. West Michigan doesn’t return home until Thurs., June 28 when they host the first place Bowling Green Hot Rods for a four-game series. The Whitecaps are now 36-34 and sit in third place 11.5 games behind Bowling Green. To find tickets to upcoming games click here.

Professional Golfers’ Association

For the first time since 1989, the U.S. Open saw a repeat champion. 28-year-old Florida native, Brooks Koepka won his second straight U.S. Open at the Shinnecock Hills golf course in Southampton, New York on Sunday. Koepka finished at one over par and beat out Tommy Fleetwood by one stroke. Koepka is currently the ninth ranked golfer on the PGA tour and took home $2.1 million for his win this weekend.

Noticeably absent from the open this weekend were some big names. Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Bubba Watson all missed the cut for the U.S. Open this week. These are among the biggest names in the world of golf and their absence may have hurt viewership of the tournament. The ratings have not yet been released, but it will be interesting to see what, if any effect these players’ absences had on overall viewership.

The next major championship is The Open, formerly known as The British Open. It will be played July 19-22 in Angus, Scotland at Carnoustie Golf Links. The Open is the oldest of the four major championships in the PGA. Jordan Spieth won the tournament last year and will look to defend and take home a large portion of the $10.25 million purse.

The World Cup

Sunday saw the World Cup’s first upset. The defending World Cup champion German club played Mexico at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia. Hirving Lozano of Mexico scored the game’s only goal in the 35th minute of the first half. Mexico held on to win the game 1-0. Germany dominated in time of possession having the ball 61 percent of the game but couldn’t capitalize on the advantage. Germany also had eight corner kicks to only one from Mexico.

The other games Sunday saw Serbia beat Costa Rica 1-0 and Brazil and Switzerland finish in a 1-1 tie.

There are three games on Monday, starting with an 8 a.m. matchup between Sweden and South Korea. Belgium will play Panama at 11 a.m. followed by Tunisia taking on England. For a full list of matchups and times, click here.


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