Jul 6, 2020

Axios Sports

By Kendall Baker
Kendall Baker

👋 Happy Monday! Hope you enjoyed the long weekend. Let's sports.

Today's word count: 1,994 words (8 minutes).

1 big thing: 😷 Sports return stalked by virus

Mariners participate in drills during summer workouts at T-Mobile Park. Photo: Abbie Parr/Getty Images

When MLB teams arrived at the ballpark this weekend for the first summer workouts of a surreal 2020 campaign, the comforting sounds of baseball brought smiles to players' faces.

  • But even the loudest crack of the bat couldn't mask the eerie silence, or distract from the ever-present coronavirus threat.
  • Players stayed six feet apart wherever possible. Virtually no staff members were on the field. Clubhouse attendants cleaned balls with disinfectant after use. And masked reporters watched from the empty stands.
  • 31 players and seven staff tested positive for COVID-19, an encouragingly low percentage (1.2% of 3,185 tests). 19 teams had at least one player test positive.

The state of play: Mike Trout, an expecting father, said he still hasn't decided whether to play this season, reflecting the difficult individual choices being made around the country — and making baseball's best player "the human face of the sport's difficult plight," as WashPost's Dave Sheinin put it.

The big picture: As sports slowly and carefully try to return, the surging pandemic casts a shadow over all levels of competition.

  • NBA/MLS: Florida shattered its daily coronavirus infections record on Saturday, reporting 11,458 new cases. MLS is set to kickoff at Walt Disney World on Wednesday, and NBA teams — including the Bucks and Kings, who both shut down their practice facilities Sunday due to a positive test(s) — will fly there this week.
  • NFL: Player reps pushed back on opening plans on a call Thursday, asking why they're rushing back if the virus is such a threat, ESPN reported.
  • College: Williams College (Massachusetts), Tufts University (Massachusetts), Grinnell College (Iowa) and Morehouse College (Atlanta) are among the schools that have canceled all fall sports.
  • High school: Three weeks into the resumption of high school sports in Iowa, "the early June hopes of coaches, players and parents have turned to nervousness as coronavirus cases and word of possible infections have suspended or halted some summer games," writes ESPN's Elizabeth Merrill.
  • Youth: Without a centralized authority, the youth sports industry has responded to the pandemic in patchwork fashion, forcing parents to navigate a "confusing smorgasbord of restrictions and recommendations that vary depending on which entity is organizing a particular league or event — sometimes even in the same town," writes USA Today's Tom Schad.
2. 📺 The sports streaming landscape
Data: Axios research; Table: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

It's been so long since we've had regularly scheduled sports, perhaps you've forgotten the best way to actually watch them. We're here to help, Axios' Jeff Tracy writes.

  • This brief overview comes on the heels of YouTube TV, fuboTV and ESPN+ all raising their prices, even though their packages rely on live sports rights, and the pandemic has shut down most live sports.
YouTube TV
  • Base price: $64.99/month
  • Included: Big Ten, ACC and SEC Networks; CBS, NBCSN and FS1/FS2; Golf and Tennis Channels; MLB Network and NBA TV; full ESPN suite; MotorTrend
  • Missing: Pac-12 and Longhorn Networks; NFL Network and RedZone; NHL Network; beIN Sports; various RSNs
  • Add-ons: NBA League Pass ($40/month); Fox Soccer Plus ($15/month)
Sling TV
  • Base price: $45/month (for the best package, which combines their "Blue" and "Orange" services)
  • Included: NBCSN and FS1; ESPN and ESPN2; MotorTrend
  • Missing: NFL Network and RedZone; Big Ten Network; Fox Soccer Plus; local ABC and CBS affiliates, plus most Fox RSNs
  • Add-ons: "Sports Extra" ($15/month with the Blue/Orange combined package) includes FS2; NBA TV, MLB and NHL Networks; beIN Sports; NBC Golf; Pac-12, SEC, ACC and Longhorn Networks; Tennis Channel; ESPNews and ESPNU.
Hulu Live
  • Base price: $54.99/month
  • Included: ACC, Big Ten and SEC Networks; CBS Sports and FS1/FS2; NBCSN and NBC Golf; ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNews and ESPN College Extra; various Fox and NBC RSNs
  • Missing: Pac-12 and Longhorn Networks; Fox Soccer Plus and beIN Sports; MLB and NHL Networks; NBA TV; NFL Network and NFL RedZone
  • Add-ons: N/A
fuboTV
  • Base price: $54.99/month (increasing to $59.99 in August)
  • Included: Pac-12 and Big Ten Networks; FS1/FS2; NBCSN and NBC Golf; CBSSN; NFL Network; beIN Sports; MotorTrend; SNY and MSG; ACC and SEC Networks, plus ESPN all coming this summer
  • Missing: Longhorn Network; Fox RSNs
  • Add-ons: "Sports Plus" ($10.99/month) includes NFL RedZone, NHL and MLB Networks and NBA TV
AT&T TV NOW
  • Base price: $55/month
  • Included: ESPN and ESPN2; NBCSN and Fox Sports 1
  • Missing: NFL Network and RedZone; Pac-12 Network; beIN Sports
  • Add-ons: "Max Package" ($80/month) also includes Big Ten, ACC, SEC and Longhorn Networks; CBSSN and FS2; ESPNews and ESPNU; NBC Golf; Tennis Channel; YES and MSG. More expensive packages include MLB and NHL Networks, plus NBA TV.

Other:

  • DAZN: $19.99/month; limited U.S. offerings outside of boxing and MMA.
  • ESPN+: $5.99/month (up from $4.99 starting in August) for the full suite of ESPN channels and "30 for 30" library.
3. 🏈 Redskins, Indians weighing name changes
Washington Redskins helmet circa 1970. Photo: Nate Fine/Getty Images

A source close to the negotiations tells Axios there is "no question" the Washington Redskins are expected to change their name before the first kickoff this fall, scheduled for Sept. 10.

  • The backdrop: The Redskins announced Friday that they are conducting a review of the team's name after mounting pressure from the public and corporate sponsors.
  • What they're saying: "It was hard to fathom that it was in any way a racist thing, to be honest with you," new head coach Ron Rivera, who spent part of his childhood in the D.C. area, told WashPost. "Now, putting it in perspective, there's been a change."

Meanwhile, the Redskins' three minority owners — Robert Rothman, Dwight Schar and Frederick W. Smith — are seeking to sell their stakes, per WashPost.

  • The three businessmen, who own roughly 40% of the team, are reportedly "not happy being a partner" of majority owner Daniel Snyder.

Related news:

  • The Cleveland Indians, who removed Chief Wahoo from their uniforms and caps in 2019 (they continue to sell merchandise with the logo), announced Friday that they are looking into changing the team name given "the recent social unrest in our community."
  • The Atlanta Braves gave no indication they are willing to consider a similar change. "[The organization] honors, supports and values the Native American community," the team said in a statement. "That will never change."
4. ⚡️ Catch up quick

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

  • 🎓 College sports: Four universities officially made the jump to Division I athletics on July 1: Bellarmine (Louisville, Kentucky.); Dixie State (St. George, Utah); Tarleton State (Stephensville, Texas); and UC San Diego.
  • ⛳️ Golf: After six straight top-10 finishes, Bryson DeChambeau got a win at Detroit Golf Club, finishing a career-best 23-under 265 to win the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Wild stat: The 26-year-old, who put on 20 pounds during the layoff to add power, crushed Tiger Woods' record for largest average driving distance in a PGA Tour win (350.6 yards, compared to Woods' 341.5).
Photo: Mark Thompson/AFP via Getty Images
  • 🏎 Formula 1: Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas (in black) won the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix. Ferrari's Charles Leclerc (red) took second and 20-year-old Lando Norris (blue) took third for McLaren, becoming the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third-youngest ever in F1.
  • 🏁 NASCAR/IndyCar: America's two biggest auto racing series shared a venue on the same weekend for the first time, hosting a doubleheader at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Kevin Harvick won the NASCAR race, while Scott Dixon won the IndyCar race.
Photo: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
  • 🏀 Recruiting: Five-star senior Makur Maker committed to Howard, making him the highest-ranked prospect to choose an HBCU since the ESPN recruiting database started in 2007. "I need to make the HBCU movement real so that others will follow" said Maker, who will join a team that went 4-29 last season and hasn't had a winning season since 2002.
  • 🥊 UFC: Negotiations for next week's Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal UFC welterweight title fight are done, sources told ESPN. Both fighters have agreed to terms to compete Saturday on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi (aka, "Fight Island").
5. 🏀 Ranking the NBA's all-time rosters (No. 21)
Expand chart
Player data: Basketball Reference; Graphic: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

We're ranking the all-time rosters for all 30 NBA teams. Note: Rosters and stats based only on time spent with this specific team. Thoughts? Email me at jeff@axios.com.

21. Cleveland Cavaliers

What is there to say other than: Down 3-1; the block; the dagger; and "Cleveland! This is for you!" Also, apologies to NBA champion Matthew Dellavedova for not making the roster. You just missed the cut.

  • Year established: 1970
  • All-time record: 1,867-2,168 (.463)
  • NBA Championships: 1
  • Hall of Famers (indicated by *): 0

Starters:

  • Mark Price, G (16.4 pts, 2.6 reb, 7.2 ast, 20.4 PER/65.4 WS)
  • Kyrie Irving, G (21.6 pts, 3.4 reb, 5.5 ast, 21.3 PER/40.4 WS)
  • LeBron James, F (27.2 pts, 7.3 reb, 7.3 ast, 27.0 PER/154.1 WS)
  • Larry Nance, F (16.8 pts, 8.2 reb, 2.6 ast, 20.0 PER/56.0 WS)
  • Brad Daugherty, C (19.0 pts, 9.5 reb, 3.7 ast, 18.9 PER/65.2 WS)

Sixth man: Austin Carr, G (16.2 pts, 3.0 reb, 2.9 ast, 15.3 PER/33.3 WS)

Bench:

  • Zydrunas Ilgauskas, C (13.8 pts, 7.7 reb, 1.6 blk, 18.8 PER/63.4 WS)
  • Hot Rod Williams, F/C (12.9 pts, 7.1 reb, 2.1 ast, 16.4 PER/58.3 WS)
  • Kevin Love, F (17.2 pts, 10.0 reb, 2.3 ast, 19.7 PER/35.0 WS)
  • World B. Free, G (23.0 pts, 2.9 reb, 3.9 ast, 19.2 PER/21.9 WS)
  • Tristan Thompson, C (9.4 pts, 8.7 reb, 1.0 ast, 15.6 PER/43.1 WS)
  • Campy Russell, F (16.1 pts, 5.1 reb, 2.8 ast, 17.8 PER/28.3 WS)

Notes:

  • James is third all-time in scoring (34,087), eighth in assists (9,298), fifth in triple-doubles (94), second in PER (27.52) and third in WS (236.12). Oh yeah, he's also won four MVPs, opened a school and started a voting rights group.
  • Price has the third-best FT% in NBA history (.9039), behind only Steve Nash (.9043) and Steph Curry (.9056).

ICYMI ... 30. Grizzlies, 29. Timberwolves, 28. Hornets, 27. Raptors, 26. Pelicans, 25. Pacers, 24. Clippers, 23. Mavericks, 22. Nets

Stats, explained: Player Efficiency Rating (PER) is a measure of a player's per-minute productivity (20+ is elite); Win Shares (WS) attempts to divvy up individual credit for team success (6 per season is elite).

6. July 6, 2002: 🎾 Serena beats Venus in London
Photo: Mike Egerton/EMPICS via Getty Images

18 years ago today, Serena Williams won her first Wimbledon singles title, beating her sister, Venus, 7-6, 6-3 (highlights).

  • The backdrop: Venus was the dominant older sister before Serena burst onto the scene. Before 2002, she had four Grand Slams to her sister's one, but Serena quickly took control of the sibling rivalry.
  • By the numbers: The Williams sisters have faced off in nine Grand Slam finals, with Serena winning seven of them.
  • The big picture: This was Serena's first of seven Wimbledon singles titles. She's also won seven Australian Opens, six U.S. Opens and three French Opens, giving her 23 career Grand Slams, second only to Margaret Court (24).
Serena Williams holding her seven Wimbledon trophies. Photos: AFP via Getty Images
7. ⚾️ Good read: "Prohibition baseball"
Screenshot: Google Maps

When spring training shut down abruptly in March, players had no idea what was coming. But they didn't want to stop working out, so a select few decided to stick around and keep playing.

  • What formed from there was a group of 30+ big leaguers — including superstars like Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Paul Goldschmidt and Giancarlo Stanton — holding secret workouts at a Palm Beach high school.
  • They scrimmaged, talked labor relations, gave each other pointers and best of all, no one got sick.

Keep reading (subscription).

8. The Ocho: 🍿 "Home Game" (Netflix)
A view of the 2013 Calcio Storico in Florence, Italy. Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images

"Home Game" is a new Netflix docuseries that profiles eight unique traditional sports from around the world that would be right at home in The Ocho, Jeff writes.

Episodes:

  • Calcio Storico: A combination of soccer, rugby and wrestling that originated in 16th century Florence and is played today in historical costume.
  • Highland Games: Imagine track and field, but without the track portion and if all the field events used medieval instruments.
  • Freediving: Deep-sea diving in the Philippines without oxygen tanks. Not for the faint of lungs.
  • Roller Derby: An exhilarating combination of speed and physicality, roller derby originated in Chicago in 1935, but now has a global following.
  • Kok Boru: Kyrgyzstan's national sport is sort of like polo, except the ball is ... a goat carcass.
  • Catch Fétiche: Congolese voodoo wrestling. Enough said.
  • Makepung Lampit: Not your typical drag race. In the Jembrana region of Bali, competitors race on water buffaloes through flooded rice fields.
  • Pehlwani: The ancient Indian sport, which translates to "heroic wrestling," has been around for 7,000 years. And I thought baseball had a long history.

🎥 Watch: "Home Game" (Netflix)

9. ⚾️ MLB trivia
Giphy
  • Question: Who tallied the most RBIs in MLB last decade?
  • Hint: Played in both leagues.

Answer at the bottom.

10. ❤️ Why we love sports
Richard (R) and Bruce's son, Johnny, at the Red Sox-A's game. Courtesy: Bruce T.

Bruce T. (Punta Gorda, Fla.) writes:

"In the summer of 1991, our family hosted a 12-year old boy, Richard, from Northern Ireland. Since we had an identically aged son, a Red Sox game was a must.
"We picked a good one. It started in July and ended in August. Rickey Henderson homered for the A's on the game's first pitch and the fireworks never stopped. Jose Canseco had two doubles, Wade Boggs had five hits.
"But the star was Red Sox DH Jack Clark. He crushed a grand slam in the third, a solo shot in the eighth, and after the Sox mounted an amazing comeback to send the game to extras, he sent us all home with a two-out walk off in the 14th.
Driving home the next day. Courtesy: Bruce T.
"The game took more than five hours, and it was so late we couldn't even find a pizza shop open. We were happy but hungry.
"A couple of years ago we visited Richard, then pushing 40 years of age, in Belfast. I think he believes that 11-10 is the typical American baseball score."
Richard (L) with Bruce and his wife, Dorrit, in Belfast in 2018.

✍️ Submit your story: Do you have a fondest sports memory? Or an example of sports having a positive impact on your life? If you'd like to share, simply reply to this email. We'll be telling your stories until they run out.

Kendall Baker

Talk tomorrow,

Kendall "Calcio Storico is completely insane" Baker

Trivia answer: Albert Pujols (963)

Editor's note: The second item has been corrected to reflect that fuboTV's current price is $54.99 (not $65) per month, and that the price will increase to $59.99 per month in August.