👋 Good morning! Let's sports.
Today's word count: 1,691 (6 minutes)
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The inaugural season of the Premier Lacrosse League came to a close in Philadelphia on Saturday, with league MVP Matt Rambo and the Whipsnakes beating the Redwoods, 12-11, in an OT thriller.
Why it matters: Over the course of 4 months, the PLL was able to create more buzz around lacrosse than the sport has seen in quite some time — and maybe ever. A few areas where the league excelled...
And then there's the tour-based model. Unlike traditional leagues, where each franchise calls one city home, the PLL's 6 teams traveled to the same city each weekend to play their games.
Interview: I spoke with PLL co-founder (and midfielder) Paul Rabil about why they launched with a tour-based model, and he pointed to 3 main reasons:
What's next: Now comes the hard part — sustaining the momentum into Year 2. The PLL might also need to rethink its venue strategy after their ambitious plan to play in huge stadiums generated buzz but led to plenty of empty seats on TV.
"Initially, some of the venues that we had were a little bit too big, so I think we're going to focus more on going to venues where fans will have a much more intimate experience. When they played in those 8,000- to 10,000-seat venues, they did very well."— Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports, tells Axios
Houston's D'Eriq King. Photo: Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images
Houston senior QB D'Eriq King will not play the remainder of the season so that he can redshirt and preserve his final year of eligibility, the school announced yesterday. Senior WR Keith Corbin will do the same.
Why it matters: This is an unprecedented decision that takes advantage of a rule change implemented last year that allows players to take a redshirt after participating in up to 4 games in a season.
The intrigue: King's situation is completely different. Unlike Bryant, who transferred after Trevor Lawrence took his job, King is firmly entrenched as Houston's starter and easily the team's best player.
The big picture: It's unclear if King, who set the American Athletic Conference record with 50 TD last season, will return to Houston next season or enter the transfer portal and play his final season elsewhere.
And if it's the latter, and King is in a different uniform next year? Add him to the growing list of superstar QBs who have transferred in recent years. It's crazy...
"It's never too late to acknowledge you were wrong," writes USA Today's Nancy Armour.
Mitchell Trubisky's 36-yard TD pass to Taylor Gabriel in the Bears' 31-15 win over the Redskins last night had a completion probability of 10.4%, per Next Gen Stats, making it the least probable completion this season.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has given Russia 3 weeks to explain how multiple positive drug tests were deleted from a database during the agency's investigation into the massive doping scandal that broke in 2016.
The Islanders broke ground yesterday on their new $1.3 billion arena at Long Island's Belmont Park, home of the Belmont Stakes.
Lionel Messi, Jill Ellis, Jurgen Klopp, Megan Rapinoe. Photo: Simon Hofmann/FIFA via Getty Images
The world's best soccer players and coaches were in Milan last night for FIFA's annual Best Football Awards ceremony.
Best Men's Player: Lionel Messi
Best Women's Player: Megan Rapinoe
81 years ago today, 22-year-old American Don Budge became the first tennis player to complete the calendar Grand Slam by winning the U.S. Open, Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon all in the same year.
Dodgers star Cody Bellinger (46 HR) has a chance to become the first left-handed hitter to hit 50-plus homers in a season since 2013.
Answer at the bottom.
⚾️ The untold story of Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, and the remarkable 2009 under-18 U.S. national team (Marc Craig, The Athletic)
"They were assembled to compete in the Pan Am junior world championships, an event that had been dominated by the world's preeminent amateur power, Cuba. ... Only a relative few from their own country watched them play, and even fewer remember what they did. But their exploits have lived on in their own minds."
🏈 In the Ivy League, football season is finally here (Billy Witz, NYT)
"If ninth-ranked Florida were to reach the championship game, its season would be nearly six months long. Contrast that with the Ivy League, whose schedule is devised in a simple manner: Circle the Saturday before Thanksgiving for the final game, then count back nine weeks and you have the start date. No byes, no playoff games."
🏇 The man who would kill horse racing (Ryan Goldberg, Deadspin)
"Without [Patrick Battuello], we might never know exactly how many racehorses die. And we would only rarely hear their names."
A large Chinese flag is held up during a soccer match on Sunday in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong Province, to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.
See you tomorrow,
Kendall "Bryce looks 12" Baker
Trivia answer: The Orioles' Chris Davis (53 HR in 2013)