Jul 2, 2020

Axios Sports

By Kendall Baker
Kendall Baker

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Good morning! No newsletter tomorrow (federal holiday). Hope everybody has a wonderful Fourth of July weekend โ€” see you back here on Monday.

  • ๐ŸŽง "Axios Today" โ€” our new 10-minute podcast, hosted by Niala Boodhoo โ€” is ready for your ears. Today's lead story: The race to replace nursing homes.
  • ๐Ÿˆ Stat du jour: Larry Fitzgerald has more career tackles (40) than drops (29).

Today's word count: 1,584 words (6 minutes).

1 big thing: โšพ๏ธ Blessed with ballpark views
A view of Nationals Park from a shared roof deck. Courtesy: Nick DiChiara

No fans will be in attendance when baseball returns this month, as games are set to be played in empty ballparks across the country (at least for now), Axios' Jeff Tracy and I write.

Yes, but: A handful of apartments, hotels and rooftops offer views of MLB ballparks, meaning a small contingent of lucky residents, hotel guests and traveling fans will still presumably get to enjoy live baseball in 2020.

Behold, the ballpark views.

NL
  • Nationals Park (Washington, D.C.): Nick DiChiara, 26, watched last year's Nationals World Series run from his apartment building's shared roof deck (above). This year, he'll be one of the few D.C. residents who can even see the field. DiChiara told us he currently has no plans to rent his apartment, partly due to his landlord's "no Airbnb" policy. (How much money would a Nats fan be willing to pay for a three-night/three-game stay? Probably a lot.)
  • Truist Park (Atlanta): The Braves' stadium is surrounded by a development called "The Battery," which includes an Omni Hotel with views into the park.
  • Wrigley Field (Chicago): The famed Wrigley Rooftops are still figuring out their plans, representatives told Axios. If they do open up, catching a Cubs game there will undoubtedly be the pinnacle of baseball viewing in 2020.
  • Busch Stadium (St. Louis): Hilton at the Ballpark has rooms with field views.
  • Petco Park (San Diego): The Marriott Gaslamp Quarter plans to reopen its rooftop bar this week, per WSJ (subscription). And if you know someone who lives in the Legend Condominiums โ€” like, say, Chip Messenger, who snapped the photo below from his balcony โ€” we recommend inviting yourself over.
Screenshot: @ChipMessenger (Twitter)
AL
  • Oriole Park at Camden Yards (Baltimore): The Hilton Baltimore Inner Harbor has rooms and a roof deck that look directly into the ballpark through center field.
  • Progressive Field (Cleveland): Metropolitan At The 9, a luxury hotel, has a private top floor called RSRV that offers rooms "with amazing views into Progressive Field," per their website.

P.S. ... The Toronto Marriott City Centre Hotel is built inside Rogers Centre (as in, you can literally step out your window into the stadium). But hotel staff told us stadium-view rooms will be closed for baseball season. It also sounds like Blue Jays players and staff might live in the hotel.

Courtesy: Toronto Marriott City Centre Hotel
2. โค๏ธ Maya Moore is a hero
Screenshot: @MooreMaya (Twitter)

"Jonathan Irons, whose bid for freedom from a 50-year prison sentence was embraced and pushed by the WNBA star Maya Moore, walked out of a Missouri penitentiary on Wednesday, nearly four months after a judge overturned his conviction on charges of burglary and assault," writes NYT's Kurt Streeter.

  • Why it matters: The greatest player in her sport โ€” and one of the greatest in history โ€” left basketball behind in her athletic prime to seek justice for a man she met while doing prison ministry in high school. That man is now free.
  • Watch: Here's Irons, 40, taking his first steps as a free adult after 22 years behind bars (convicted at age 18).

Go deeper: Inside Maya Moore's extraordinary quest for justice (ESPN)

3. ๐Ÿˆ Pressure builds to change Redskins name

Photo: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The national dialogue about racism has renewed calls for the Washington Redskins to change their name โ€” and now protesters are targeting their sponsors, something a former high-ranking team official called "different."

  • Driving the news: Nike, FedEx and PepsiCo each received letters signed by 87 investors and shareholders worth a combined $620 billion asking the brands to cut ties with the Redskins unless they change their name, AdWeek reports.
  • The backdrop: When a 2016 Washington Post poll found nine in 10 Native Americans weren't offended by the name, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder said the team, fans and community believe it "represents honor, respect and pride."

Meanwhile, in D.C., officials made it clear Wednesday that Snyder will not be able to build a new stadium on the 190-acre, federally-owned RFK Stadium site unless he changes the team's name, per WashPost.

  • "There is no viable path, locally or federally, for the Washington football team to return to Washington, D.C., without first changing the team name," said D.C. Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio. (They currently play in Landover, Md.)
  • "The time [for the name] has ended. There is no way to justify it. You either step into this century or you don't," said U.S. Rep. Raรบl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.).
4. โšก๏ธ Catch up quick
Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise, Naema Ahmed, Danielle Alberti/Axios

๐Ÿ˜ท Coronavirus: COVID-19 cases have increased in 48 states over the past week, and decreased only in New Jersey, Delaware and Washington, D.C., Axios' Andrew Witherspoon and Caitlin Owens report.

Courtesy: Sofi Stadium

๐ŸŸ NFL: SoFi Stadium, the future home of the L.A. Rams and Chargers, is 97% complete and they just finished installing a double-sided, 2.2 million-pound, 70,000-square-foot videoboard called the "Oculus."

Data: NHL; Table: Axios Visuals

๐Ÿ’ NHL: Edmonton and Toronto are expected to be announced as the two "hub cities" for the NHL's restart, per multiple sources. Edmonton would host the Western Conference, while Toronto would host the Eastern Conference.

5. ๐Ÿ€ Ranking the NBA's all-time rosters (No. 22)
Expand chart
Player data: Basketball Reference; Graphic: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

We're ranking the all-time rosters for all 30 NBA teams. Note: Rosters and stats based only on time spent with this specific team. Thoughts? Email me atย jeff@axios.com.

22. Brooklyn Nets

Like the Pacers, the Nets rode an ABA dynasty to their only franchise titles. In fact, those two combined to win five of the seven ABA Championships between 1970-and 1976.

  • Year established: 1967 (as the ABA's New Jersey Americans)
  • All-time record: 1,854-2,432 (.433)
  • Championships: 2 (both in ABA)
  • Hall of Famers (indicated by *): 3

Starters:

  • Jason Kidd*, G (14.6 pts, 7.2 reb, 9.1 ast, 19.4 PER/56.6 WS)
  • Vince Carter, G (23.6 pts, 5.8 reb, 4.7 ast, 21.0 PER/43.6 WS)
  • Julius Erving*, F (28.2 pts, 10.9 reb, 5.2 ast, 26.8 PER/51.8 WS)
  • Buck Williams, F (16.4 pts, 11.9 reb, 1.5 ast, 16.7 PER/62.8 WS)
  • Brook Lopez, C (18.6 pts, 7.1 reb, 1.5 ast, 21.0 PER/49.6 WS)

Sixth man: Rick Barry*, G (30.6 pts, 7.2 reb, 4.5 ast, 22.1 PER/19.1 WS)

Bench:

  • Derrick Coleman, F/C (19.9 pts, 10.6 reb, 3.1 ast, 19.8 PER/35.9 WS)
  • Kerry Kittles, G (14.3 pts, 3.9 reb, 2.6 ast, 16.1 PER/44.6 WS)
  • Draลพen Petroviฤ‡, G (19.5 pts, 2.8 reb, 2.9 ast, 16.5 PER/18.4 WS)
  • Richard Jefferson, F (17.4 pts, 5.4 reb, 3.0 ast, 16.8 PER/50.6 WS)
  • Kenyon Martin, F (15.1 pts, 7.6 reb, 2.4 ast, 15.9 PER/20.7 WS)
  • Kenny Anderson, G (15.3 pts, 3.4 reb, 7.8 ast, 17.4 PER/23.0 WS)

Notes:

  • Erving spent five years in the ABA, winning MVP three times. He's one of just eight players with over 30,000 career points (ABA and NBA combined) and the only one who started in the ABA.
  • Kidd's 107 triple-doubles rank fourth all-time, behind Oscar Robertson (181), Russell Westbrook (146) and Magic Johnson (138).

ICYMI ... 30. Grizzlies, 29. Timberwolves, 28. Hornets, 27. Raptors, 26. Pelicans, 25. Pacers, 24. Clippers, 23. Mavericks

Stats, explained: Player Efficiency Rating (PER) is a measure of a player's per-minute productivity (20+ is elite); Win Shares (WS) attempts to divvy up individual credit for team success (6 per season is elite).

6. July 2, 1921: ๐ŸฅŠ "The Fight of the Century"

Photo: Bettmann Archives/Getty Images

99 years ago today, American Jack Dempsey and Frenchman Georges Carpentier fought in boxing's first ever million-dollar match. Dempsey knocked Carpentier out in the fourth round, his third title defense in as many years.

The backdrop: Legendary promoter Tex Rickard had already been responsible for the two largest bouts in history prior to shattering the record in 1921.

  • July 4, 1910: Jack Johnson def. James Jeffries (Gate: $270,775)
  • July 4, 1919: Dempsey def. Jess Willard (Gate: $452,522)
  • July 2, 1921: Dempsey def. Georges Carpentier (Gate: $1,789,238)

The state of play: Rickard pulled out all the stops, borrowing a staggering $250,000 to erect a massive stadium in Jersey City, New Jersey, called Boyle's Thirty Acres, which had a seating capacity of 91,613 โ€” the largest in history.

  • Despite fighting on his native soil, Dempsey was the anti-hero going into the fight, as he'd recently been embroiled in a trial accusing him of draft-dodging.
  • Rickard sold out the fight, charging $50 for ringside seats (~$750 today), and Dempsey made $300,000 (~$3.9 million today). For reference, Babe Ruth, who rivaled Dempsey as the decade's most popular athlete, made ~$70,000 annually ($927,000 today) at the height of his career.

The big picture: The 1920s has been called the "Golden Age of American Sports." It saw athletes become national icons, and for the first time, large numbers of post-war Americans were willing to pay money to attend sporting events.

Go deeper:

Bonus ... July 2, 1941: โšพ๏ธ Joe's record streak
Joe DiMaggio shakes hands with manager Joe McCarthy after tying Willie Keeler's record on July 1, 1941. He broke it the following day. Photo: New York Times Co./Getty Images

79 years ago today, Yankees legend Joe DiMaggio extended his hitting streak to 45 games, breaking Willie Keeler's MLB record. DiMaggio's streak would eventually reach 56 games โ€” a record that still stands.

7. ๐Ÿ“š Good reads

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

๐Ÿ“บ Streaming price hikes make it less of a cheap cable alternative (Sara Fischer, Axios)

"YouTube TV and ESPN+ both raised their prices Tuesday, even though both packages rely on live sports rights to entertain consumers, and the pandemic has shut down live sports."

๐ŸŽ™ The future of the Black play-by-play announcer (Bryan Curtis, The Ringer)

"Broadcasters in the booth are the narrators of our games, but there are disproportionately few Black voices in those roles."

๐Ÿ Let's race two: Behind Indy-NASCAR doubleheader (Jerry Garrett, NYT)

"For the first time, NASCAR and IndyCar will run races at the same venue on the same weekend. Is this the start of a new tradition?"
8. The Ocho: ๐Ÿ“ 360ball
Source: John Collins (YouTube)

360ball combines Spikeball and racquetball.

  • Teams of two compete using rackets and a small rubber ball in a 360-degree, walled arena centered around a disc.
  • As you can see above, gameplay is remarkably similar to Spikeball, but the enclosed court makes for some nuanced strategies.

๐ŸŽฅ Watch: Highlights (YouTube)

9. ๐Ÿˆ NFL trivia

Terrell Suggs in 2016. Photo: Larry French/Getty Images

Terrell Suggs is the NFL's active leader in career sacks (139).

  • Question: Only two other active players have at least 100 career sacks. Can you name them?
  • Hint: One plays in the AFC West, the other is a free agent.

Answer at the bottom.

10. โค๏ธ Why we love sports
Saints fans celebrating on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. Photo: Cheryl Gerber/Getty Images

Leon L. (Atlanta) writes:

"In 1967, my parents took me to Tulane Stadium to watch the Saints' first-ever game. John Gilliam returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, and I've been a lifelong fan ever since.
"I now live in Atlanta, and my 80-plus-year-old parents live in Las Vegas. When the Saints advanced to the Super Bowl in 2010, I couldn't decide whether I wanted to take them to Miami for the game, or back to New Orleans.
"I decided on New Orleans, and it's the best decision I ever made. We, along with tens of thousands of current and former NOLA residents, took over the French quarter for three days โ€” a homecoming that coincided with Mardi Gras.
"After the Saints' victory, we poured out into the streets. Holding hands, we shouted, cried and danced with strangers until the early morning. Just pure joy for a couple of octogenarians and their son. It's a moment I will always treasure."
Leon's parents in 2010. Courtesy: Leon L.

โœ๏ธ 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.

Kendall Baker

Enjoy the weekend,

Kendall "Weekend vibes" Baker

Trivia answer: Von Miller (106 sacks), Cameron Wake (100.5)