👋 Good morning! In the latest bombshell Astros report from The Athletic (subscription), we learn that Carlos Beltran was the relentless "Godfather" in the sign-stealing campaign.
Today's word count: 1,342 words (5 minutes).
The average NBA franchise is now valued at $2.12 billion, per Forbes — a figure that has grown 476% in the past decade.
Why it matters: Thanks to the NBA's international growth and the $24 billion TV deal it signed with ESPN and Turner in 2014, team values have grown at a much faster rate than the other three major U.S. sports leagues.
Most valuable teams: The Knicks ($4.6 billion) grabbed the top spot for the fifth straight year, followed by the Lakers ($4.4 billion) and Warriors ($4.3 billion). Among all American sports, only the Cowboys ($5.5 billion) and Yankees ($4.6 billion) can rival them.
Wild stat ... In 1999, the Warriors were the seventh-least valuable NBA franchise and the Clippers ranked dead last. Two decades later, they are now the third- and sixth-most valuable NBA franchises, respectively.
NCAA president Mark Emmert at yesterday's hearing. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
NCAA president Mark Emmert and four other witnesses testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee yesterday, as the issue of student-athletes profiting off their name, image and likeness (NIL) took center stage in the nation's capital.
"Sports is something that cuts across party lines, it cuts across geography and it's so ingrained in our culture. Everyone wants to see that if nothing else in our country works, they want to see our sports work."— Sen. Jon Thune (R-S.D.)
Driving the news: During the hearing, senators questioned whether the NCAA could be trusted to get this right — and even Emmert publicly acknowledged that, as the NCAA works to revamp its rules, "we may need Congress' support in helping maintain uniform standards in college sports."
What to watch: For all the frustration lawmakers projected yesterday, Congress "did not seem poised to act immediately," notes NYT's Alan Blinder — a result of a Washington consumed with election-year politics and "rooted in lobbying" (the NCAA spent $750,000 last year on lobbying).
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester was taken to the hospital after suffering a cardiac episode on the bench during last night's game against the Ducks, which was postponed as a result. Thankfully, Jay is currently "conscious and alert," per the team.
PHILADELPHIA — Joel Embiid was booed by Philly fans following his recent Twitter drama, but he turned jeers into cheers by leading the Sixers to a 110-103 win over the Clippers. Meanwhile, Ben Simmons (26-12-10) recorded his 28th career triple-double — the third-most ever through a player's first three seasons.
NEW YORK — "Siba, a black standard poodle with a meticulously groomed coat and a taste for chicken, won best in show at the 144th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show ... defeating a final group of contenders that included a wildly popular golden retriever and two repeat best in show contestants." (NYT)
Most Americans subscribe to multiple video services, but not multiple audio services, according to Nielsen. That could soon change if more podcasts begin to be offered exclusively on certain platforms, writes Axios' Sara Fischer.
The big picture: Podcast companies are looking to invest more in their own exclusive content to lure users to pay subscription fees to their services.
The bottom line, via Axios' Ina Fried: "The big question is whether this [Ringer deal] and other moves by Spotify and Luminary will mark the end of a world in which podcasts were largely openly and freely distributed."
144 years ago today, Albert G. Spalding opened his first sporting goods store in Chicago, marking the birth of an iconic American brand that is still around today.
Biography: "Spalding's life story could have been written by Horatio Alger. He had three careers — as a baseball pitcher, a club owner, and a sporting goods tycoon — and was very successful at all of them," per the Society for American Baseball Research.
1909 vintage ball...
Photo: Vyacheslav Oseledko/AFP via Getty Images
Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Titans star Derrick Henry could become the NFL's highest-paid RB this offseason.
Answer at the bottom.
Kendall "Spalding!! Spalding!!!!" Baker
Trivia answer: Ezekiel Elliott (Cowboys), Todd Gurley (Rams), Le'Veon Bell (Jets), David Johnson (Cardinals)