👋 Good morning! Let's sports.
Today's word count: 1,905 words (7 minutes).
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
At the turn of the century, futurist Watts Wacker predicted that sports stadiums of the future would essentially be sound stages optimized for TV, rather than coliseum-like structures built to seat thousands of fans.
The state of play: Our sports-less odyssey is nearing its end, but fans won't be packing stadiums any time soon, meaning a return to normalcy is still months away.
The big picture: For athletes and coaches, empty stadiums will create a surreal environment that lacks the energy and noise that fans provide.
"There's a reason why people say fans play such an integral role in the process of the game. When you don't have fans and that atmosphere, it becomes flat. And it becomes a lot of forced energy and a lot of moments you are trying to create instead of it creating it for you."— Diamondbacks pitcher Luke Weaver, via USA Today
As for the broadcasts, fanless games will likely accelerate changes already in development, sports media consultant and former ESPN executive John Kosner tells me. And some of those changes could be permanent.
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios
Since last Thursday's NFL schedule release, the Las Vegas Raiders (still sounds weird) have enjoyed immense success in the ticket sales department, Axios' Jeff Tracy writes.
By the numbers: According to data from SeatGeek, the Raiders are not only the top-selling team, but also boast by far the highest average ticket price ($622), roughly 30% higher than the second-place Seahawks ($439).
The big picture: Fan interest tends to spike when a team arrives in a new city, but even with that taken into account, the Raiders have sold more tickets than many in the industry expected, given the uncertainty surrounding the NFL season.
Looking ahead: This is inarguably great news for the Raiders, the NFL and the city of Las Vegas, but that hardly means we're out of the woods yet.
Sebastian Vettel, the four-time Formula One world champion (2010-13), and Ferrari, the sport's most iconic team, have mutually agreed to part ways at the end of 2020, ending a six-year partnership.
P.S. ... Today is the 70th anniversary of the first ever Formula 1 race. It was held in Silverstone, England, and won by Giuseppe Farina of Alfa Romeo.
EVERFI, an education technology company whose mission is to help students learn life skills beyond the classroom, has joined forces with six sports leagues to launch the EduCup Challenge — a two-week competition for kids stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
How it works: Students will complete digital courses designed by EVERFI and the participating leagues, with the opportunity to win academic scholarships and other prizes. Leagues will post daily social media challenges related to the courses, and students will compete by region.
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.
Honestly, you look at the names in this lineup and wonder why it's not at least five or six spots higher, but then you remember the Coors Effect and say, "Ah. Right." I hate being that guy, and perhaps I'm docking them for their advantageous environment more than I should — but life goes on.
On the mound: SP Ubaldo Jiménez (18.3)
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.
62 years ago today, Stan Musial became just the eighth player to collect 3,000 hits, smacking a double in a rare pinch-hitting appearance.
The big picture: Musial was the perfect exemplar of what it meant to be a baseball player. Despite being one of the greatest who ever lived, by all accounts many people couldn't decide if he was a better ballplayer or person.
By the numbers: Musial's name isn't thrown around as often as Ruth, Mays, Mantle or the like, but you'd be hard-pressed to find someone with a better statistical résumé.
Fun fact: Musial and Ken Griffey Jr. were both born on Nov. 21 in the small town of Donora, Pennsylvania, exactly 49 years apart.
🎥 Go deeper: Career tribute (YouTube)
🏈 Inside the latest chapter of former Ohio State star Maurice Clarett's life turnaround (Adam Rittenberg, ESPN)
"Clarett says his main mission is deeply personal: to help others and make a positive impact for those who face the same demons that once derailed him. 'I want to talk about my life, I want to talk about what's next,' he says. 'OK, you f--ked up. S--t happened. Own it.'"
🏀 How much credit and blame does Jerry Krause really deserve? (Rodger Sherman, The Ringer)
"The villain of 'The Last Dance' is responsible for dismantling the most iconic dynasty in NBA history. But there's another part of Krause's legacy that the documentary fails to acknowledge."
🏇 Starved for action, bettors turn Nebraska horse track into must-see TV (Joe Drape, NYT)
"Since making the switch to weekdays, Fonner Park has averaged more than $2.8 million in bets each day, more than eight times its action from a year ago. Its wagering total of $71.3 million over the past three months dwarfed last year's February-through-April total of $7.5 million."
Photo: Vincent Laforet/AFP via Getty Images
During the 1994-95 season, Scottie Pippen led his team in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. Since then, just three players have accomplished that feat.
Answer at the bottom.
Nate P. (Indianapolis) writes:
"I grew up in a Catholic family in rural northern Michigan, and from the time I was old enough to know what sports were, I was a Notre Dame fan.
"Much of this love for Notre Dame came from my grandfather, who was the unquestioned patriarch of our family — patient, wise, selfless, revered and rock-steady in everything he did.
"My grandfather had seen some of the best players in Notre Dame history, but none were held in higher regard than Johnny Lujack, a star QB who led the Irish to three national titles and won the 1947 Heisman Trophy.
"So when I came across a photo of Lujack and the 1947 team at a memorabilia booth in 2017, I just knew I had to buy it for him for Christmas. Every year I look forward to unwrapping presents at my grandparents house, but that year I was FIRED UP as we pulled into their driveway.
"After dinner, we gathered in the living room for the gift exchange. One of the last gifts remaining was the picture. As he unwrapped it, I sat there anxiously, hoping his reaction matched my anticipation. It did.
"For just the second time in my life, I saw my grandfather cry. He turned to me and managed a 'thank you' as he fought back tears, then went back to the picture as he pointed out names of the players he remembered.
"For the next several hours he sat with the picture on his lap, leaving the living room conversation every now and then to steal glimpses. He was a man of few words, but he didn't have to say anything. I could tell how much it meant to him, and I still don't have the words to describe the joy I felt.
"That picture, which still hangs on the wall above my grandfather's beloved La-Z-Boy, would be one of the very last gifts I would ever give him. Shortly after Christmas, he was diagnosed with an advanced form of cancer and passed away the following May.
"In the days after his death, we milled about my grandparents' house consoling one another and reminiscing. At one point, I went and sat in the den where the picture hangs, and an overwhelming sense of gratitude rushed over me.
"Certainly, a part of me was thankful to have had such an incredible man and role model in my life. But an even larger part was thankful that I had found some way to give back to him. And just in the nick of time."
✍️ 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 "I need to play this immediately" Baker
Trivia answer: Kevin Garnett (2002-03), LeBron James (2008-09), Giannis Antetokounmpo (2016-17)