🎉 Happy Friday! Let's sports.
Today's word count: 1,392 (5 minutes)
Plenty of teams are still in the hunt. 15ish games left for everyone. Buckle up...
American League: The Yankees (up 10 games on the Rays) and Astros (up 7.5 games on the Athletics) are virtual locks to win their divisions, while the Twins and Indians (3.5 games back) battle it out in the Central.
National League: The Dodgers have already clinched the West, and the Braves hold a comfortable 8.5-game lead in the East. Things are much tighter in the Central, where the Cardinals are just 4 games up on the Cubs and Brewers.
Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie is turning his 3-year, $34 million contract into a "digital investment vehicle," per Shams Charania of The Athletic (subscription).
How it works, per Deadspin's Chris Thompson:
The bottom line: If there are any galaxy-brain readers out there who want to explain the intricacies of this to me, my inbox is open.
P.S. … Dinwiddie just bought the highest penthouse in Brooklyn. This guy!!!
Yesterday, I highlighted Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey and Bucs LB Devin White ahead of their Thursday Night Football matchup. McCaffrey was held to 53 total yards and White left with a knee injury. I'll see myself out.
The NFL just announced the NFL Helmet Challenge — a contest to see who can create the safest possible helmet. Engineers, manufacturers and others will compete for $3 million ($1 million prize, $2 million grant to build a prototype).
Entering the season, the Patriots had the easiest projected schedule in the NFL, which seems like a sick joke. Welp, now that Jets QB Sam Darnold is out indefinitely with mono, it just got even easier.
🎾 Tennis: Former world No. 1 Kim Clijsters, 36, announced yesterday that she's coming out of retirement for the 2nd time. The Belgian mother of 3 said tennis-playing moms like Serena Willams inspired her.
🥊 Boxing: 20-year-old American Devin Haney (22-0, 14 KO) takes on Zaur Abdullaev (11-0, 7 KO) for the WBC interim lightweight title at Madison Square Garden tonight (7pm ET, DAZN).
🚲 Cycling: The 74th Vuelta a España (Tour of Spain) — the third and final Grand Tour of the summer race season — is currently underway. Here's the race map.
No. 1 Clemson (-27.5) at Syracuse
No. 19 Iowa (-2.5) at Iowa State
Pittsburgh at No. 13 Penn State (-17)
⚾️ Home Runs Are Soaring. Could Declining Backspin Be A Factor? (Travis Sawchik, FiveThirtyEight)
"The spin rate of the baseball has been a focus of late, but primarily in regard to pitching. ... It turns out that spin rate matters for hitters, too — a little less of it might help."
"The Raiders are set to host the Chiefs on Sunday at the Oakland Coliseum in their final home game before the end of the World Series. With the Coliseum the last stadium left that hosts an NFL and baseball team and the Raiders set to move [to Las Vegas], no more players will have to deal with the travails of infield dirt."
⚽️ George Best And The Soccer Battle Of The Sexes That Changed … Well, Nothing (Paul Brown, Deadspin)
"Fifty years ago, on a drizzly Sunday afternoon in Manchester, Eva Haraldsted played soccer against George Best. ... The game was a comic sketch rather than a sporting contest, because the only women's soccer that was allowed in England in 1969 was the kind that was a joke."
27 years ago today, the Bills beat the 49ers, 34-31, in a shootout that featured a combined 1,086 yards, 8 TD and, for the first time in NFL history, no punts.
"You just do your normal routine, get ready, get ready, get ready, and hope they make a first down. Eventually, you just look at the clock and say, 'I guess I'm not going to punt today.'"— Bills punter Chris Mohr, per ESPN
The big picture: There have only been 3 other no-punt games in NFL history.
Yesterday's loss to Serbia marked the first time that Team USA has lost 2 straight tournament games with NBA players since 2002.
Answer at the bottom.
Do not recommend.
Go deeper: How Spikeball became mainstream (ESPN)
Kendall "Good vibes heading into the weekend" Baker
Trivia answer: George Karl