👋 Good morning! Let's sports.
Today's word count: 1,869 (7 minutes).
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
While sports are still a long way from resuming normal schedules and staging events in front of thousands of fans, May looks to be the month when we will finally get the chance to watch real live sports on TV again.
Why it matters: For better or worse, sports serve as a barometer of how countries are handling the coronavirus.
Back at practice:
The bottom line: Nothing is certain in this ever-shifting world, but the No Sports Era appears to be nearing its fateful and surreal conclusion.
Photo: G Fiume/Getty Images
With U.S. sports nearly two months into their indefinite hiatus, leagues have finally begun updating their ticket refund policies, directing teams to decide for themselves how they'd like to proceed, writes Axios' Jeff Tracy.
"Getting a refund for an event that is postponed until who-knows-when may seem like small potatoes, but for a lot of people without their paycheck, that might be a cart of groceries or a bottle of prescription medicine."— Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), via WSJ
The backdrop: Over the first month or so of lockdown, leagues instructed teams to treat missed games as standard postponements (i.e. exchange for credit on a future ticket, or keep the ticket and use it at the rescheduled event).
The bottom line: As with everything else at the moment, the only thing certain about this updated refund policy is that, at some point, it's likely to change. But if it eases the pain of this crisis for even a few extra people, it's a good place to start.
In related news ... Despite the 2020 NFL schedule being released tonight, the Jets said they won't be selling tickets to games for now. Don't be surprised if more teams do the same.
Photo: Dylan Buell/Getty Images
MLB expects to offer a return-to-play proposal to the players' union within a week, and teams are encouraging players to prepare for a "spring" training that could begin in mid-June and a season that could start in early July, ESPN's Jeff Passan reports.
Go deeper: War, fever and sports in 1918 (Axios Sports Special)
We're ranking the all-time rosters for all 30 MLB teams — from the weakest starting lineup to the strongest. Note: Rosters based only on time spent with this specific team. Thoughts? Email me at email@example.com.
Another day, another team that won a World Series on a walk-off! I feel particularly compelled to mention it for Toronto because the hero, Joe Carter, was my final cut for this roster. His overall numbers weren't quite strong enough, but he and the Blue Jays will always have this.
On the mound: SP Roy Halladay (48)
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.
17 years ago today, Arsenal crushed Southampton, 6-1, in the penultimate game of the 2002-03 Premier League season.
Why it matters: That victory began a historic run for the Gunners, who went unbeaten in a record 49 straight league games (36-0-13) before finally losing to Manchester United, 2-0, in October 2004.
The key players: Arsenal were led by an in-his-prime Thierry Henry and managed by Arsène Wenger, then just seven years into his tenure.
The bottom line: It's been four years since Arsenal have finished in the top four, and when play stopped in March, they were planted firmly in the middle of the table, headed for yet another disappointing finish.
🎥 Watch: How Wenger made Arsenal invincible (YouTube)
🏀 Deni Avdija hopes to be Israel's first NBA star (Ben Pickman, SI)
"Basketball has given Israelis several memorable moments of national import. But it's never given them an NBA star they can call their own. Deni Avdija ... would like to change that."
🏈 The XFL is dead, long live the XFL (Adam Kramer, B/R)
"The season is canceled and the league is bankrupt, but for the players, coaches and innovators at the heart of the XFL, the dream it represented lives on."
👟 Ranking the top 74 sneakers in NBA history (Nick DePaula, ESPN)
"From overly built high-tops to space-age heat-molded constructions to the phone-syncing sneakers of today, NBA players have laced up more collective design, technology and innovation than any other association."
Meet the Biñho board. A combination of foosball and goalie wars that I'd never heard of before yesterday and may very well have purchased by the time you're reading this.
Chris Paul, who turned 35 yesterday, is one of four players in the top 10 in NBA history in both assists and steals.
Answer at the bottom.
Dave L. (Wilmington, Vt.) writes:
"As a young boy in the mid-1950s, I experienced moderate success in the autograph department by writing to ball players in Florida during spring training. However, my fondest memory of getting an autograph was on Oct. 13, 1959. I had just turned 11 years old.
"A group of self-appointed American and National League 'All-Stars' — captained by Willie Mays and Rocky Colavito — had played their first two exhibition games in Philadelphia and Syracuse, and they were playing their final game at Red Wing Stadium in my hometown of Rochester, New York.
"In the lineup that night was my hero, Gil Hodges, of my beloved Dodgers. After the game, even though it was a school night, my parents consented to letting me wait outside the National League clubhouse with the hope of seeing him.
"After what seemed to be far too long, a tall, muscular man with a kind, round face and pale blue eyes suddenly appeared. It was Gil Hodges. He began walking toward the team bus, carrying the largest equipment bag I'd ever seen.
"A small flock of boys followed him in hopes of getting his autograph, and I did the same, handing him my little sister's notepad and my No. 2 pencil. He signed it and returned the pad to my waiting hands, dwarfed by his. And then, just like that, he was gone.
"60 years later, that pencil, used in school and sharpened down to an inch in length, has long since disappeared. That two-by-four inch piece of notepad paper, however, still rests securely in a plastic cover in my baseball card binder.
"It serves as a reminder of a time when young boys could have a hero and, if they were lucky enough, could share a moment with that hero. For the hero, it would quickly evaporate into a mist of thousands of similar moments. But for the young boy, that moment would last a lifetime."
✍️ 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 "The days are blurring together" Baker
Trivia answer: John Stockton, Gary Payton, Jason Kidd