👋 Good morning! Welcome back. Starting today, we'll be sharing your fondest sports memories at the bottom of each newsletter. Scroll down to see today's submission from Patrick T. in New York.
Today's word count: 2,178 words (8 minutes).
One of the last Super Basketball League games before all games were moved to a smaller training center. Photo: Gene Wang/Getty Images
Taiwan's Super Basketball League is believed to be the world's only professional basketball league that is currently operational — a feat made possible by a swift response to COVID-19 (six deaths in a country of 24 million people).
Why it matters: Despite being much smaller than the NBA (five teams compared to 30), the SBL's game-night protocols and empty arenas provide a glimpse of what NBA games might look like if conditions allow for its return this season.
The state of play: The SBL has relocated all of its games to the HaoYu Basketball Training Center and essentially built a bubble around it, ensuring that the building never has more than 100 occupants.
What they're saying: Former Duke guard Matt Jones scored 29 points on Thursday night to lead Bank of Taiwan to an 85-77 win over Taoyuan Pauian Archiland, led by former G League All-Star Charles Garcia.
"It feels like an adult league. ... The only noise is from your teammates. I don't even drink Red Bull, but I'm drinking Red Bull now before a game to find energy. When I get a dunk, you want to scream, but you can't. It's pointless. So I just run back on defense."— Charles Garcia, via NYT
The big picture: While the NBA will certainly be keeping tabs on the SBL, it will be paying much closer attention to the 20-team Chinese Basketball Association, which provides a more comparable case study as it looks to resume play.
Photo: Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images
Despite being linked to MLB's billion-dollar ball clubs, minor league baseball teams are essentially just small businesses. And like most other small businesses right now, the pandemic has put their future in jeopardy, writes Axios' Jeff Tracy.
By the numbers: MLB's gross revenue in 2019 was $10.7 billion, 50% of which came from media rights deals. MiLB, by comparison, has an entirely different model, relying much more heavily on ticket sales and the in-stadium experience.
What they're saying: Add all that up, and you can understand why MLB's proposal of playing without fans isn't a viable option for the minors, where an extra rainout can be the difference between being in the black and being in the red.
"Our entire business model is people coming to our stadium. The concept of even playing a game in our stadium with no people is so far outside of our business model that it almost seems like a wasted effort to even ponder it."— Scott Hunsicker, GM of the Reading Fightin Phils, via WSJ
The backdrop: Long before COVID-19 arrived, MLB proposed cutting 25% of minor league clubs as part of a massive restructuring plan. So it's safe to say these two parties didn't have the best working relationship at the time this crisis struck.
The bottom line: The way minor league clubs operate as small businesses is one of the many charming aspects of professional baseball in this country. But if they're left to fend for themselves, the whole system is in danger of collapsing.
Oilers forward Colby Cave, who had been in a medically induced coma for nearly a week after suffering a brain bleed, passed away Saturday morning. He was 25, and by all accounts, a phenomenal human being.
"Colby was the kind of guy that is just salt of the earth. He is the epitome of a class act. Always being first to say hi, always a smile on his face. There is no better guy — husband, brother, friend — than Colby Cave. The world needs more Colbys."— Chandler Stephenson, Golden Knights forward and longtime friend, via The Athletic
From the Hungary team that shattered England's delusions to Brandi Chastain's iconic penalty kick, here are the six games that explain modern soccer, according to NYT's Rory Smith (arguably the best soccer writer in the game).
Nov. 25, 1953: Hungary 6, England 3 (Friendly)
May 8, 1960: Real Madrid 7, Eintracht Frankfurt 3 (Euro Cup final in Glasgow, Scotland)
June 21, 1970: Brazil 4, Italy 1 (World Cup final in Mexico City)
May 31, 1972: Ajax 2, Inter 0 (Euro Cup final in Rotterdam, Netherlands)
June 8, 1990: Cameroon 1, Argentina 0 (World Cup group stage in Milan, Italy)
July 10, 1999: USA 0, China 0; USA wins 5-4 on penalties (World Cup final in Pasadena, California)
BOSTON — The "Teammates" statues of former Red Sox Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky and Dom DiMaggio wear makeshift masks.
TAOYUAN, Taiwan — The Rakuten Monkeys played their home opener in front of cardboard cutouts.
OUDENAARDE, Belgium — With the 104th Tour of Flanders postponed indefinitely, the famous Koppenberg hill has been painted with the names of healthcare workers.
Photo: Augusta National/Getty Images
23 years ago today, Tiger Woods donned the first of his five green jackets, winning the Masters and launching one of the greatest careers in sports history.
The big picture: Tiger's career has, thus far, broken into three distinct phases.
ICYMI ... CBS replayed the final round of last year's Masters, and Jim Nantz interviewed Tiger at various points before, during and after the round. Made for some awesome TV.
Jeff writes: Even the most solitary of sports — distance running — is not immune to the coronavirus lockdown. And so, runners who've adapted to their new reality banded together in the spirit of competition and held the first ever Quarantine Backyard Ultra.
How it worked: For (at least) 63 consecutive hours, runners had to complete 4.167 miles every hour at any pace, targeting 262 miles. They used a combination of live-streaming and the honor code to ensure no corners were being cut, and the last man or woman standing was to be crowned the winner.
By the numbers:
What they're saying: NYT's Christine Hauser paints a vivid picture of how far-reaching and eclectic this race became:
"In Dubai, a Russian man ran around his living room for 20 hours. A Canadian, Matt Shepard, wanted to avoid frostbite so he ran part of the race inside a coffee shop. ... Greg Armstrong, of Lebanon, Tennessee, had to pause on his treadmill at one point to remove a snake from his house."
The bottom line: We already knew runners, particularly ultra-marathoners, were made of something different, stronger ... perhaps a little crazier. Still, it's nice to get indisputable evidence to back up that claim.
P.S. ... This isn't Wardian's first offbeat victory. He's also completed 10 marathons in 10 days, and holds the world record for fastest 50-kilometer run on a treadmill and fastest marathon while dressed as Elvis.
Photo: Grant Halverson/Getty Images
ESPN aired a seven-hour spelling bee marathon yesterday, revisiting some of the best national finals in recent years. With that theme in mind...
Answer at the bottom.
Reader Patrick T. (New York) writes:
"My parents split up when I was 11, and like a lot of young boys in the New York area, an intense love of the Yankees brought my father and I closer together. The 90s were a great time to be a Yankee fan and there was no greater Yankee to root for than No. 2 himself, Derek Jeter.
"The new stadium opened in 2009 and being the 'old-school' guy that he is, my dad had no desire to go. Finally, in 2011, I bought us tickets for his birthday and gave him no choice but to say yes. As the date approached, we realized we had a chance to witness Jeter record his 3,000th career hit.
"On the day of the game, we could sense the excitement in the air the second we got off the train, and Jeter's first-inning single had the whole stadium feeling like we were destined to witness history.
"To this day, it's still hard to put into words the feeling of the loving embrace my father and I shared after Jeter crushed that sinking off-speed pitch into the left field bleachers for hit No. 3,000. We haven't gone a summer since without going to a game together, and I have Derek Jeter to thank for that.
"I love you dad."
✍️ Submit your story: What's your fondest sports memory? Maybe it's a moment you shared with your dad. Maybe you witnessed history. Could be anything! Reply to this email letting me know. We'll be sharing your stories all month.
Kendall "Shushefski" Baker
Trivia answer: Krzyzewski