Good morning! Shower thought: The person who invented the first invention also invented inventions (via Reddit).
Photo: Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images
Outdoor batting practice is nearly as old as baseball itself, but does it actually provide value to hitters? Some teams say no and are gradually phasing it out.
What's happening: The Toronto Blue Jays are one of a handful of teams that will make batting practice optional this season, preferring their hitters to focus on indoor cage work, instead, The Athletic's John Lott reports (subscription). Here's why:
The other side: Plenty of hitters still prefer outdoor BP, as it lets them get a feel for the playing surface and weather conditions.
Rewind: In 2015, Bryce Harper took some heat when he acknowledged that he hadn't taken BP all year because "it's about hitting homers and showing off. I don't need to show off. I don't need to hit homers then. I can do that in a game."
From Mike: Troubling financials, negative press and NCAA rules have put the future of junior college football (or JUCO) on shaky ground. Several programs have shut down in recent years, and the fear is that this trend will continue.
Why it matters: Junior college football has long been a lifeline for players who might have otherwise fallen through the cracks, while also serving as a farm system for Division I's top programs.
What's happening: Junior colleges face significant hurdles just to stay afloat, and those hurdles have gotten higher in recent years.
What's next: A class action lawsuit is being filed that could lead to the reinstatement of one of the recently shuttered programs, and plenty of administrators and coaches across the country are working to fix the system.
The bottom line: Junior college football is devouring itself. Fewer programs mean more travel. More travel means less money. And less money means less football.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
"After two years of being interrupted by a trip to Mexico, the Sunshine State has retaken its place as a four-tournament run of events as the Masters draws closer," writes ESPN's Bob Harig.
Why it matters: The PGA Championship switched from its traditional mid-August time slot to mid-May this year, meaning all four majors will take place in a 15-week span between April and July.
Photo: Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/Getty Images
Nine years ago today, 22-year-old Sidney Crosby scored an overtime goal to lift Canada over the U.S.A. 3-2 in the gold-medal game in Vancouver.
Fun fact: The victory was the first time a host nation won a men's hockey gold medal since 1980, when a group of collegians from the U.S. defeated Finland after stunning the Soviet Union in the semifinals.
John Tavares returns to Long Island tonight (7 pm ET, ESPN+) for the first time since he ditched the Islanders for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Answer at the bottom.
"Everyone's different. Some people make models out of matchsticks. Some people climb Everest. Some people become managing directors. And some people are stone skimming champions."
That's the opening line of the trailer for "Sink or Swim," a new BBC documentary about the World Stone Skimming Championships.
Details: The event is held each year on the tiny Scottish island of Easdale where water has filled massive quarries and created the world's first stone skimming arena.
P.S. The full documentary is only available in the U.K., which is annoying, but just knowing that this exists is enough. Made my week.
Over 400 people applied to drive the Nationals' bullpen cart this season, and 21 of them were recently invited to the ballpark for tryouts. As SI's Emma Baccellieri learned, their job won't be nearly as easy as it looks.
"If symbolism and history are never far from each other in the South, in Mississippi they are often intertwined. And in this quaint college town, home to the state's flagship university, they seem inextricable."
🏈 The NFL is drafting quarterbacks all wrong (FiveThirtyEight)
FiveThirtyEight's Josh Hermsmeyer built a model to better identify successful QB prospects. Turns out deep throw accuracy is crucial. His top two prospects: Kyler Murray and Will Grier.
SB Nation's "Beef History" explores the long, delicate beef between Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter.
Kendall "Don't leave us, Dwyane" Baker
Trivia answer: Alex Ovechkin, WAS (44); Patrick Kane, CHI (40); Leon Draisaitl, EDM (39)