Jun 19, 2019

Axios Sports

By Kendall Baker
Kendall Baker

☀️ Good morning! Today's word count: 1,270 words (~5 mins).

  • Reminder: Refer a friend to Axios Sports using your unique referral link and both you and that friend will secure spots in our Women's World Cup Group Stage bracket, which begins later this week.
1 big thing: ⚽️ Marta, the G.O.A.T.

Photo: Rico Brouwer/Soccrates/Getty Images

Brazilian great Marta scored on a second-half penalty to secure a 1-0 victory over Italy and guarantee Brazil a spot in the knockout round.

Why it matters: This was Marta's 17th World Cup goal, making her the most prolific scorer in World Cup history (both men and women).

  • All-time leaders: Marta, Brazil (17 goals); Miroslav Klose, Germany (16); Ronaldo, Brazil (15); Birgit Prinz, Germany (14); Abby Wambach, USA (14); Gerd Muller, Germany (14).
  • The 33-year-old Marta also became the first player to score at five different World Cups, a testament to her longevity and a reminder of just how long she's been one of the faces of this sport.

The big picture: Marta is a six-time FIFA World Player of the Year (now called Best FIFA Women's Player), winning four straight awards from 2006 to 2010, and then another one last year while starring for the Orlando Pride of the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL).

  • She's widely regarded as the most gifted woman to ever play the game. And yet, like the great Lionel Messi, Marta has never won a World Cup. Her best finish: 2007 runner-up.
  • Yesterday's goal was historic, but the most important thing is that Brazil advanced to the next round, breathing new life into Marta's pursuit of a world championship and the immortality that comes with it.

More Women's World Cup:

  • Australia 4, Jamaica 1: 25-year-old Samantha Kerr, who plays for the NWSL's Chicago Red Stars, scored all four of Australia's goals.
  • Title IX effect: The global impact of Title IX is on full display at the Women's World Cup, with NCAA-schooled internationals anchoring many of the world's top squads.
  • Today, 3pm ET: Group D action: England (6 pts) vs. Japan (4) — Argentina (1) vs. Scotland (0)
2. 🏟 How on-site sportsbooks could transform stadiums

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In recent weeks, Illinois and New York have introduced bills that would allow in-person sports betting at sports stadiums and arenas.

  • Driving the news: The Cubs are considering opening a sportsbook inside and outside of Wrigley Field.
  • Be smart: The teams would outsource the actual bookmaking, as that would be considered a conflict of interest. So they'd basically be operating sports betting lounges. Think TVs, couches and kiosks.

Why it matters: Sports venues are among the most underutilized pieces of real estate on Earth. NBA teams play 41 home games per year, NFL teams play just eight, and when you go to those games, it's not like they let you hang out. Here you have this immaculate structure and they're ushering you out the door.

  • Once in-stadium betting arrives, it could transform the game-day experience, giving fans a place to congregate before and after the game as opposed to, say, the bar across the street.
  • Even those without tickets would likely be drawn to the on-site sports book, which would presumably be accessible from outside and could spawn additional investment in the surrounding area (restaurants, shopping).

The bottom line: "Imagine Madison Square Garden — in the heart of midtown Manhattan and located atop the busiest railroad station in the Western Hemisphere — repurposed as the world's largest sportsbook," writes The Athletic's Daniel Wallach (subscription).

  • "The economic impact of such an arrangement could be a game-changer for states."
3. ⚾️ MLB: Three up, three down

Three up

  • Charlie Blackmon: During his current eight-game hitting streak, the Rockies outfielder is hitting .571/.571/1.167 with 6 HR and 15 RBI, raising his average from .295 to .341. He's also just the sixth player in the past 50 years with 3+ hits in five straight games.
  • Max Kepler: The young outfielder twice played the hero as the Twins pulled out a 4-3 victory over the Red Sox in 17 innings last night, the longest game in Target Field history.
  • The White Sox: Eloy Jimenez hit a two-run homer in the ninth to beat the crosstown rival Cubs, his former team. Also, Lucas Giolito (10-1, 2.22 ERA) finally looks like the ace he was supposed to be and is on the mound today. Good times on the South Side.

Three down

  • Max Scherzer's nose: The Nationals ace suffered a broken nose after taking a ball off the face while practicing bunts in batting practice (see above).
  • The Orioles: The current record for most home runs allowed in a season is 258. The 2019 Orioles are on pace to allow 326.
  • The Mets, Nats and Marlins: "In what once looked like a crowded division battle, the Braves and Phillies have emerged as clear favorites," writes FiveThirtyEight's Neil Paine. "Although the division is far from locked up, the two teams at the top now have a combined 86% chance of winning the East."
4. 🎓 Bellarmine graduates to Division I

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Bellarmine University's move from Division II athletics to Division I has been in the works for years, but yesterday the jump became official.

  • Details: The private Catholic college in Louisville will become the 10th member of the Atlantic Sun Conference, joining current members Florida Gulf Coast, Jacksonville, Kennesaw State, Liberty, Lipscomb, NJIT, North Alabama, North Florida and Stetson.

The big picture: Bellarmine president Susan Donovan says the move is part of the university's "strategic plan" to increase enrollment and expand its geographic reach.

Yes, but: Moving to Division I doesn't come without risks. Just look at Savannah State, which will drop back down to D-II this season because of financial concerns. The school's football program, once a source of revenue and pride, turned into a laughing stock at the D-I level.

  • Bellarmine must ensure that the same thing doesn't happen to its men's basketball program, which has been a D-II powerhouse for years and won the national championship in 2011.

The bottom line: A whole new world awaits Bellarmine beginning in 2020 — a world full of recruiting battles, shiny new facilities and, if they're lucky, the kind of national exposure only Division I athletics can provide.

5. ⚾️ College baseball's ultimate all-star lineups

Frank Thomas hit .403 with 19 HR at Auburn in 1989 before winning back-to-back AL MVPs four years later. Photo: Auburn University/Getty Images

Rain postponed play at the College World Series yesterday, setting the stage for a triple-header in Omaha beginning this afternoon.

Today's slate (all times ET):

  • 12pm: Louisville vs. Auburn resumes (Louisville was up 4-1 going into the bottom of the fifth when the tarp came out)
  • 2pm: Vanderbilt vs. Mississippi State
  • 7pm: FSU vs. Texas Tech

Rewind: With play suspended, I scoured the internet for alternative college baseball content and landed on a real winner: "The Utimate All-Star Lineups in NCAA Baseball History" by ESPN's David Schoenfield.

  • Methodology: He chose 15 players — eight position players, a DH, a bench player and five pitchers — based solely on what they did in the majors and ranked each school by cumulative WAR of those players.

Top 10 teams:

  1. USC (1B Mark McGwire, SP Randy Johnson)
  2. Arizona State (LF Barry Bonds, CF Reggie Jackson)
  3. UCLA (2B Chase Utley, 3B Troy Glaus)
  4. Texas (SP Roger Clemens, 1B Brandon Belt)
  5. San Diego State (RF Tony Gwynn, SP Stephen Strasburg)
  6. Stanford (SP Mike Mussina, C Bob Boone)
  7. Long Beach State (3B Evan Longoria, 1B Jason Giambi)
  8. Georgia Tech (1B Mark Teixeira, SP Kevin Brown)
  9. Minnesota (CF Paul Molitor, RF Dave Winfield)
  10. Auburn (1B Frank Thomas, SP Tim Hudson)
6. June 19, 2016: 🏀 Cleveland does the impossible

Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Three years ago today, the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead.

7. 🏈 NFL trivia

With Josh McCown announcing his retirement, the entire 2002 draft class is out of the NFL and only four players remain from the 2000-2003 drafts.

  • Question: Can you name those four players?
  • Hint: Two quarterbacks, one tight end and one defensive end/outside linebacker.

Answer at the bottom.

8. The Ocho: 💰 Checking in on the World Series of Poker
Photo: Dan Tuffs/Getty Images

The World Series of Poker is underway in Las Vegas, with the world championship $10,000 buy-in Main Event set to begin on July 3.

  • A true world series: "Baseball's alleged World Series is the championship of the United States and Toronto. The WSOP Main Event is the championship of the world — last year, 83 nations were represented, with 2,116 of the 7,874 entrants from outside the U.S.," writes WashPost's Norman Chad.
  • Fun fact: Many U.S. presidents were poker players. Richard Nixon loved playing in the Navy, winning enough to help finance his first congressional campaign and FDR regularly hosted games in the White House study.

Go deeper: Schedule/results

9. 📚 Read this

Just trust me.

10. 🏈 Vote: The People's Choice, Semifinal #2
Photos: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images; John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We're trying something new this week called "The People's Choice," where we pose a question and then you, the readers, decide the answer through a week-long head-to-head bracket.

This week's question: The two best college football coaches in the country are clearly Alabama's Nick Saban and Clemson's Dabo Swinney. Who is the third-best?

  • Where things stand: Monday's top four vote-getters advanced to the semis. Yesterday: No. 2 seed Lincoln Riley vs. No. 3 seed Jim Harbaugh (winner unveiled tomorrow). Today: No. 1 seed vs. No. 4 seed.

Click to vote: The winner will advance to tomorrow's championship.

Kendall Baker

See you tomorrow,

Kendall "Remember Freddy Adu?" Baker

Trivia answer: Tom Brady (2000 draft), Drew Brees (2001), Jason Witten (2003), Terrell Suggs (2003)