🎉 Happy Friday! Today's word count: 1,202 words (~5 mins).
Julian Alaphilippe remains in the lead entering Stage 19. Photo: Jean Catuffe/Getty Image
"One big Alpine stage completed, just two more to go, and Julian Alaphilippe is still in yellow with France yet another step closer to having a first Tour winner since 1985." (AP)
Standings: Alaphilippe enters Stage 19 with a lead of one minute and 30 seconds over Egan Bernal, with defending champ Geraint Thomas five seconds further back in third.
Today's race: After a grueling day in the mountains (highlights), Stage 19 provides yet another test as riders continue their climb through the French Alps.
In 2018, NFL teams attempted to gain first downs on fourth-and-short (five yards or fewer) 401 times on 1,406 chances. That's a 28.5% mark — the highest the league has seen in 20 years, writes Axios' Mike Sykes.
P.S. … Are you a data nerd? We partnered with Sports Reference on this story, and they actually have their own stats-centric newsletter. Check it out.
23-year-old Argentine boxer Hugo Alfredo Santillán died yesterday from injuries sustained during a recent bout near Buenos Aires.
Context: Santillán is the second boxer to die this week. On Tuesday, 28-year-old Russian boxer Maxim Dadashev passed away after suffering brain injuries during a fight that aired on ESPN+ last Friday.
"You have to ask yourself ethical and moral questions at times like this about supporting the sport. And yet … I love boxing. I'm glad it exists."— ESPN's Max Kellerman, in response to Dadashev's passing
Lamar Odom and Stephon Marbury during a loss to Puerto Rico in the 2004 Olympics. Photo: Andreas Rentz/Bongarts/Getty Images
The U.S. men's Olympic basketball team has failed to win gold three times, all 16 years apart (1972, 1988, 2004). And now, with Tokyo 2020 on the horizon, the team appears to be in danger of keeping that 16-year curse alive.
Driving the news: The FIBA World Cup begins in China next month, and virtually every NBA star who was invited has declined (James Harden, Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Kevin Love, the list goes on).
The bottom line: "When the Olympics begin next year in Tokyo, it will be 16 years since the last Team USA Olympic basketball loss, which was 16 years after the previous Team USA basketball loss, which was 16 years before the previous Team USA basketball loss," writes The Ringer's Rodger Sherman.
Troy Tulowitzki. Photo: Elsa/Getty Images
⚾️ MLB: Troy Tulowitzki has retired at age 34, concluding an injury-plagued career that leaves us wondering what could have been. "At his best, Tulowitzki was Mike Trout at shortstop," writes ESPN's Dan Mullen. Injuries stink.
🏀 NBA: The ex-wife of slain former NBA player Lorenzen Wright has pleaded guilty to facilitating his murder, "a surprise development in one of the biggest murder cases in the history of Memphis."
🏈 NFL: Most training camps are now officially underway. Here's everything that happened across the league yesterday.
👟 Running: India's "Hell Ultra" is a 298-mile race that takes runners through five different mountain passes that reach up to 17,500 feet — "equivalent to the higher of the two main Mt. Everest base camps." Yeah, no thanks.
🏀 WNBA: During the All-Star Game tomorrow night, the WNBA will experiment with hockey-style substitutions that will see players in a designated "check-in spot" wait for their teammates to tag them onto the floor.
Photo: Diamond Images/Getty Images
47 years ago today, Chicago businessman Robert Irsay purchased the L.A. Rams and traded them to Carroll Rosenbloom in exchange for the Baltimore Colts.
The impact: This swap impacted the NFL in drastic ways, the effects of which can still be felt today.
"Fox Sports is certainly betting on it. And it just might have the stars to make it work," writes The Ringer's Bryan Curtis.
"In 1986, Ian Allan and Bruce Taylor … made a life-altering decision: They started a fantasy football league. That doesn't seem like a big deal now … but back then the hobby was in its nascent stages. It was like a secret shared among associates."
"The future of Major League Baseball is unfolding nightly in the Atlantic League. Players are stealing first base, umpires are using AirPods to call balls and strikes and defensive shifts are prohibited. This is what it's like to spend time in MLB's ever-changing laboratory."
🏀 Thunder GM Sam Presti: Looking Back, Thinking Forward (The Oklahoman)
"[S]mall market teams operate with significant disadvantages. There is no reason to pretend otherwise. This in no way means we cannot be extraordinarily successful ... It simply means we must be thinking differently, optimistically, finding our advantages by other means."
Ticket marketplace Vivid Seats teamed up with social platform opendorse to determine the most popular NFL team in each U.S. county, as well as the most impactful player on social media.
Have the best weekend,
Kendall "MARK IT ZERO" Baker
Trivia answer: Rick Barry, Bernard King, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West and Michael Jordan (five times)