👋 Good morning! I'd like to give a shoutout to all the "Why we love sports" stories. They've touched so many people, and some really cool things have happened behind the scenes that make me extremely proud of this community. A few examples:
🎂 And here's a message from one reader to another: "Here's a very special birthday shoutout to Connecticut's golden boy, Spencer Lovejoy. Cheers!" - From Lolita
Today's word count: 1,967 words (7 minutes).
After a 10-week hiatus, NASCAR returns to the racetrack this Sunday at South Carolina's Darlington Raceway.
The backdrop: Given the lack of physical contact between competitors, it's no surprise that auto racing is one of the first sports back in action, but the path that NASCAR traveled to get here was "anything but precise, a constantly redrawn road map that ... remains written in pencil," writes ESPN's Ryan McGee.
"Can Goodyear provide tires? Can we get fuel? It's incredibly complicated. We're on version 65, maybe version 70, of the plan. We do have pivot plans. Frankly, there's been days of the week where things have changed by the hour."— John Bobo, NASCAR VP of racing operations, via ESPN
The new rules:
Looking ahead: Darlington will host a second race on Wednesday, and then NASCAR will head to Charlotte Motor Speedway for two more races on May 24 and May 27. Then comes the following slate, which was announced last night:
Germany's Bundesliga will resume play on Saturday, becoming the first major European soccer league to return to action.
Player to watch: While 19-year-old Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland has quickly become soccer's most-wanted teenager, I'd like to draw your attention to his teammate, 17-year-old American Giovanni Reyna.
"Visions abound of Reyna and Pulisic teaming up to lead the U.S. back to the World Cup in Qatar two years from now, and then really making their mark when the tournament is played on home soil in 2026. For an American soccer public still hoping for the sport to truly break through in the U.S., the possibilities are intoxicating."— Sam Stejskal, The Athletic
Game of the weekend: Reyna and Borussia Dortmund face off against Schalke 04, which is one of their bitter rivals and features another young American in Weston McKennie.
Go deeper: The Bundesliga's delicate balancing act (The Ringer)
Next season will be Spalding's 37th and final season as the NBA's official basketball manufacturer, with Wilson — which made balls for the league from 1946 to 1983 — set to replace them, writes Axios' Jeff Tracy.
A brief history of basketballs...
The early years: A.G. Spalding was a dominant pitcher for the Boston Red Stockings in the 1870s, using a baseball he developed himself. (Fun fact: His .795 career winning percentage is the best in history.)
The Wilson era (1946–1983): Despite Naismith's early insistence that Spalding be the official ball, when the NBA launched in 1946, it did so with Wilson basketballs.
The Spalding era (1984–present): At last, Naismith got his wish when Spalding became the official ball beginning in the 1983-84 season.
"It feels like one of those cheap balls you buy at the toy store. ... I look for shooting percentages to be way down and turnovers to be way up, because when the ball gets wet you can't really control it. Whoever did that needs to be fired. It was terrible, a terrible decision. Awful."— Shaq
Wilson (again): Starting in 2021, Wilson — already the official ball of the NCAA — will return to the top of the basketball world.
We're ranking the all-time rosters for all 30 MLB teams. Note: Rosters based only on time spent with this specific team. Thoughts? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just wanted to take this space to quickly mention Jayson Werth, who didn't quite make the cut with a two-year peak (8.8 WAR) that comprised nearly his entire statistical contribution to the team (seven years, 9 WAR total). But a star deciding to sign with a club mired in mediocrity and then taking the mantle of emotional leader through a decade that saw them win the fourth most games in the sport is much more impactful than his on-field production. Plus: this home run.
On the mound: SP Max Scherzer (36.2)
Huge thanks to Tom Stone, whose book "Now Taking the Field: Baseball's All-Time Dream Teams for All 30 Franchises," provided the inspiration for these rosters.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Zach Smith won his first tournament as a professional on Thursday, shooting a final-round 62 to claim victory at the Scottsdale AZ Open at Talking Stick Golf Club.
MOUNT AIRY, Md. — U.S. Paralympian Daniel Romanchuk, who competes primarily in wheelchair racing events and has won the New York City, Boston, Chicago and London marathons, trains near his home.
NEW YORK — A family dons masks while fishing in Central Park.
79 years ago today, Joe DiMaggio went 1-for-4 with an RBI single, quietly starting what would become a historic, 56-game hitting streak.
Anatomy of 'The Streak": From May 15 to July 16, DiMaggio raised his average from .306 to .375 on the back of 22 multi-hit games (also, getting at least one hit a day tends to help in that department).
By the numbers: It's a toss-up which number 1941 is more well-known for: 56 or .406.
Fun fact: In his 13-season career, DiMaggio belted 361 homers ... and struck out 369 times.
Go deeper: The heroes of 1941 (MLB)
🎓 USC graduate picked up where he left off more than 60 years ago (Bill Plaschke, L.A. Times)
"Tom Capehart, 85, will be the literal definition of a graduating senior this week when [the former four-sport athlete] passes a two-credit course and completes his pursuit of a USC degree. 64 years after he started."
🏀 Michael Jordan faced better competition than LeBron James (Mike Prada, FiveThirtyEight)
"[The] data can't settle the MJ-LeBron debate entirely, but it can give us insight into whose roads to victory were tougher – albeit with some caveats."
🥇 Two climbers. Best friends. Only one ticket to the Olympics. (Ari Scheider, NYT)
"The Tokyo Games have been put off, but the battle to get there created an unusual rivalry in an event that has never been in the Olympics before."
Blitzball is essentially Wiffle Ball, but with a specially-designed plastic ball that makes even the most impressive Wiffle curves look pedestrian, Jeff writes.
Claudio Reyna in action during the 2006 World Cup. Photo: Patrick Hertzog/AFP via Getty Images
Reyna's 112 caps (i.e. appearances in international games) ranks 10th in USMNT history.
Answer at the bottom.
Sean M. (Long Island, N.Y.) writes:
"My grandparents emigrated from Santiago, Chile, to Long Island, New York, in 1969. In this move, my grandpa, Nino, had to sacrifice one of his favorite pastimes: soccer. Due to soccer's lack of popularity in America at the time, he felt there was something missing in his new home.
"To Nino, soccer was more than a game. It was an obsession. He was hopefully optimistic that his sport would catch on in the U.S., as Pelé continued to gain international attention and the New York Cosmos entered the local scene in 1971. Regardless, there was still a void in his life.
"In 1972, a new hockey team moved to their area: the New York Islanders. Hockey was a new game to Nino, but much of the gameplay and fandom drew parallels to the sport he grew up loving. With this, he found a new love for the sport, team and community.
"In many ways, hockey became a bridge into the new culture that he would spend the rest of his life living in. He followed the Islanders from year-to-year, through highs and lows, and got to cheer them on during their historic early 80's run.
"Growing up, I remember Nino bringing me to games at the Nassau Coliseum. Most recently, I was able to bring him and my father to an overtime win against the Vegas Golden Knights to celebrate Nino's 84th birthday (see above).
"That's why sports are more than just a game. To me, sports are a way to make priceless memories with the people I love. For Nino, sports are a part of an immigrant's tale of growing into a new culture.
"For now, I can only see Nino through a glass door, but maybe one day we can go back to the Coliseum and shout 'Yes! Yes! Yes!' after an Isles win. Until then, we must stay safe and recognize the things that we love are worth waiting for."
✍️ Submit your story: Do you have a fondest sports memory? Or an example of sports having a positive impact on your life? If you'd like to share, simply reply to this email. We'll be telling your stories until they run out.
Enjoy the weekend,
Kendall "Wilsonnnnnnnnn!!!!" Baker
Trivia answer: Cobi Jones