👋 Good morning! Let's sports.
Today's word count: 1,354 words (~5 mins).
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Now that Giannis Antetokounmpo has won the NBA's MVP award, Milwaukee boasts reigning MVPs in both baseball (Christian Yelich) and basketball.
Why it matters: If you add in two-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers, who plays 120 miles north in Green Bay, there is a legitimate case to be made that Wisconsin has been the MVP capital of the world over the past quarter century.
By the numbers: In the past 25 years, the three major sports teams in Milwaukee and Green Bay (Bucks, Brewers, Packers) have produced eight MVPs: Brett Favre (3x), Rodgers (2x), Ryan Braun, Yelich and Antetokounmpo.
Total MVPs (past 25 years):
MVPs per team (past 25 years):
P.S. … Perhaps most impressive of all, Milwaukee/Green Bay is the only market to produce MVPs in the NBA, MLB and NFL in a six-year window (2014–19), beating out New York (seven years; 1970–76) and Los Angeles (eight years; 1969–76).
As we pointed out last week, the current MLB season has been dominated by home runs and strikeouts. Now, another major trend is beginning to emerge: bad bullpens.
By the numbers: For the first time since 1973, relievers have a higher ERA (4.50) than starters (4.44). And this comes at a time when bullpens are being used more than ever (a record 3.62 innings per game).
Why it matters: Modern baseball is "based on the premise that a phalanx of power-armed relievers is a better option than a starter facing a lineup for a third time," writes SI's Tom Verducci.
What they're saying:
"Look at it this way. If you bring four or five relievers into a game every night, what are the chances that one of them is going to have a bad night? Pretty good, right? And if you do use four or five relievers every night, there's going to be an attrition factor. As hitters, we've gone back to the idea of 'Let's get into their bullpen.'"— Freddie Freeman, Braves 1B, per SI
A half decade ago, Alex Rodriguez was banned from baseball for an entire season and seemed destined to live out his days in PED jail with the words "liar" and "cheater" plastered on his forehead like scarlet letters.
Fast forward: Since then, A-Rod has made one of the most miraculous comebacks in the history of humankind. It's truly remarkable.
The big picture: Six years after gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated alongside the title "The Last Days of A-Rod," the former slugger finds himself back on the cover sporting an entirely reinvented image and reputation.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
What's next: With the last two Asian teams eliminated, the Women's World Cup quarterfinals will feature a record seven European teams alongside the favored United States.
RENNES, France — Saki Kumagai was visibly distraught after her unlucky handball cost Japan a spot in the quarterfinals. Once the final whistle blew, her club teammate Shanice Van De Sanden immediately tried to comfort her.
Dusan Domovic Bulut (L) is the top 3-on-3 player in the world. Photo: Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images
The BIG3 tipped off its third season last weekend in Detroit with an impressive collection of talent taking the floor to compete in 3-on-3 hoops.
Driving the news: Missing from that list is Dusan Domovic Bulut, aka the Serbian Michael Jordan. The 33-year-old was drafted in May by the BIG3's Ball Hogs (captained by Brian Scalabrine, himself), but an international feud has prevented him from joining them.
🎥 Watch: Bulut's signature move
Photo: Steve Grayson/WireImage via Getty Images
23 years ago today, the Charlotte Hornets drafted Kobe Bryant with the 13th pick in the 1996 NBA draft only to trade him to the Los Angeles Lakers for Vlade Divac a few days later.
Details: Though Bryant swears he wasn't involved in the trade, some believe he angled his way to LA through workout refusals and threats to play professionally in Italy.
By the numbers: Kobe holds numerous Lakers records, including most career points (33,643) and most titles won (tied for first with five).
Go deeper: The draft day trade that changed NBA history
Only 10 NFL MVP winners have also won the Super Bowl in that same season.
Answer at the bottom
High-tech sailboats navigated unpredictable winds as they raced across the Hudson Bay this past weekend during the inaugural New York SailGP.
How it works: This is the first year of the SailGP championship series, which takes a unique approach to racing.
What's next: Three races have been completed (Sydney, San Francisco, New York) with two more to go (Cowes, England, in August and Marseille, France, in September).
🏀 Kevin Durant's Absence Might Make Us Finally Appreciate Him (The Ringer)
"One of the most purely enjoyable basketball players ever to exist made NBA fans dislike him by successfully doing the thing they loved to watch him do. Now he has a chance to make them like him again, by not doing it."
"Current and former employees have been excoriating the federation's top executives online in an effort to alert leaders to what they called a 'toxic' culture."
"About 19% of college athletic trainers reported in a recent survey that a coach played an athlete who had been deemed 'medically out of participation,' ... [revealing] concerns about college coaches having too much influence in medical decision-making."
See you tomorrow,
Kendall "Wisconsin: Cheese, beer, serial killers and MVPs" Baker
Trivia answer: Kurt Warner (1999)