🎉 Happy Friday! You made it.
Today's word count: 1,630 words (6 minutes)
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
In 2016, the Cubs snapped a 108-year World Series drought and seemed destined to build a modern dynasty.
Why it matters: The death of the Cubs' dynasty (that never really existed) proves just how difficult it is to sustain greatness in baseball.
The bottom line: "Ultimately, maybe none of the Cubs' struggles should come as too much of a surprise," writes WSJ's Jared Diamond (subscription).
Yes, but: The Astros have dynasty written all over them after taking a similar path as the Cubs (tank, rebuild, emerge as contender), all while relying more heavily on analytics and doing a much better job developing talent.
Photo: Dylan Buell/Getty Images
In the closest thing you can get to a "must-win" game in Week 4, the Eagles carved up the Packers' defense and were able to stop a red-hot Aaron Rodgers down the stretch en route to a 34-27 win.
Yes, but: 2 players — Packers RB Jamaal Williams and Eagles DB Avonte Maddox — left the game on stretchers after head-to-head collisions. Thankfully, both have feeling and movement in their extremities.
1. Free throw experiment: This season, the NBA G League will experiment with a new rule under which trips to the free throw line "will include only a single foul shot that will be worth one, two or three points depending on the nature of the foul leading to the attempt," per ESPN.
2. Verifying player heights: "The listed heights of NBA players have long been widely considered more art than science, but the league notified teams this week that they are required to certify and submit each player's height and age within the first week of training camp," per NYT's Marc Stein.
3. Top 15 players in NBA history: 1. Michael Jordan, 2. LeBron James, 3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 4. Magic Johnson, 5. Larry Bird, 6. Shaquille O'Neal, 7. Tim Duncan, 8. Bill Russell, 9. Wilt Chamberlain, 10. Steph Curry, 11. Oscar Robertson, 12. David Robinson, 13. Hakeem Olajuwon, 14. Kobe Bryant, 15. Kevin Durant
SEATTLE — With tears in his eyes, an emotional Felix Hernandez walked off the mound as a Mariner for what was likely the final time in his career last night in a losing effort against the A's.
NAPA, CALIF. — Tony Romo shot a 2-under 70 at the PGA Tour's Safeway Open, putting him in a tie for 28th after the 1st round — 5 shots back of leaders Adam Scott and Andrew Landry.
KOBE, JAPAN — Joe Cokanasiga (above in red) and England routed the USA, 45-7, to maintain their perfect start to the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
No. 18 Virginia at No. 10 Notre Dame (-12.5)
No. 21 USC at No. 17 Washington (-10.5)
No. 5 Ohio State (-17) at Nebraska
Go deeper: Predicting which of college football's 23 undefeated teams will lose in Week 5 (USA Today)
11 years ago today, Greg Maddux won the final start of his career, a 2-1 Dodgers victory over the Giants (box score).
By the numbers: Over the course of his 23-year Hall of Fame career, Maddux won 355 games with the Cubs, Braves, Dodgers and Padres — the 8th-most in MLB history.
All-time wins leaders (see full list):
From the vault: "Greg Maddux is the best righthander in the past 75 years — but he would rather you didn't know it" (SI, 1995)
Answer at the bottom.
This weekend, the best Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighters in the world will descend upon Anaheim, Calif. for the biennial Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) Submission Wrestling World Championships.
Go deeper (via FloGrappling):
🥊 The future is now for Errol Spence Jr. (Greg Bishop, SI)
"The question, moving forward, is whether Saturday's [Spence-Porter] bout will mark the dawn of the next great welterweight era, the start of something like what happened in the 1980s with Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran."
🏟 What the future of the American ballpark should look like (Scott Hines, SB Nation)
"Rethinking a stadium isn't just a matter of changing the field dimensions or facade materials. It's a matter of breaking the stadium out of the box it's been confined to for so long."
🏀 The greatest minor league basketball player of all time spent a career forgetting his dream (Matt Giles, Deadspin)
"Much of [Renaldo] Major's basketball career has been spent ... adjusting to the situation he faced, not the one he dreamed. A juco coaching change that led to Major first understanding his potential. A lack of draft interest allowed him to learn how to enjoy a limelight-less basketball career. A routine physical saved his life."
Photo: Steven King/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Go deeper: Predicting the best 50 players for the 2019-20 season (ESPN)
Enjoy the weekend,
Kendall "One free throw, everybody knows the rules" Baker
Trivia answer: Malcom Brogdon (92.8%)