Happy Friday! With the Kentucky Derby on the horizon, take some time today to read Hunter S. Thompson's iconic essay about the race.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
In 2017, Major League Baseball players launched a record 6,105 home runs. This season, they're on pace for nearly 6,500 after a record 1,444 were hit in March in April (2.62 per game).
Why it matters: This home run explosion has caused lots of speculation throughout the baseball world, with fans and players alike wondering if the balls have been "juiced."
The backdrop: MLB has repeatedly denied this, insisting that there has been no change in the manufacturing of the baseball.
And now this: On top of the skyrocketing home run numbers in the big leagues, what's happening in the minor leagues is arguably even weirder — and further proof that something fishy is going on.
What they're saying: USA Today Sports conducted interviews with multiple pitchers, and they all seem to agree that something is up. They're not even mad, they just want an explanation.
The bottom line: It certainly seems like MLB juiced the baseballs ... and decided not to tell the players.
PHILADELPHIA — Joel Embiid (33 points, 10 rebounds) led the Sixers to a 116-95 win over the Raptors to take a 2-1 series lead. Philly's starting five, which has only been together for a few months, is starting to mesh at just the right time.
COLUMBUS — Tuukka Rask made 39 saves and the Bruins finally got some production from their top-liners in a 4-1 win over the Blue Jackets that evened the series at 2-2.
DENVER — Philipp Grubauer made 32 saves for his first career playoff shutout and Nathan McKinnon recorded a point for the eighth straight game as the Avalanche beat the Sharks 3-0 to even the series at 2-2.
Trainer Bob Baffert leads Game Winner to the track for a Thursday morning workout. Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images
From Mike Sykes: The 145th running of the Kentucky Derby was thrown a curveball on Wednesday when betting favorite Omaha Beach was ruled out due to a breathing issue.
Fun fact: Game Winner, Roadster and Improbable are all trained by Bob Baffert, who also trained the last two Triple Crown winners — Justify and American Pharoah.
Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan are back. Photo: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
The U.S. women's national team has released its 23-player roster for the World Cup, which kicks off in France in 35 days.
Fresh off the success of "Tom [Brady] vs. Time," director Gotham Chopra is back with another Facebook Watch series, this time focusing on Steph Curry.
Interview: I spoke with Chopra about what it was like documenting Steph's day-to-day life and how that compared to his experience with Tom.
P.S. ... My favorite quote was from Steph's wife, Ayesha:
"The past four years have been overwhelming with his success … It's crazy. … It's almost one of those things where we need to take a step back at some point just to sit down and breath and take a look at everything that's happened. I almost feel like everybody's more aware of what's gone on than we are."
🎬 Watch: Episode I is available now
Football's rules led to the birth of the NCAA. Photo: Bettmann/Getty Images
109 years ago today, the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States was renamed the National Collegiate Athletic Association — what we know today as the NCAA.
The backdrop: The name was changed in 1910, but the organization was established in 1905 after President Theodore Roosevelt convened with member schools in response to injuries and deaths in college football.
Go deeper: The first 25 years of the NCAA
C.C. Sabathia recently became the third left-handed pitcher in MLB history to record 3,000 career strikeouts.
Answer at the bottom.
The crowd at a Premier League Darts event. Insane. Photo: Tim Williams/Action Plus via Getty Images
The Ringer's Bryan Curtis went deep on the sport of darts, which has become the second-biggest televised sport in England — a minor miracle considering how little actually happens.