⚾️ Good morning! Following a 90-minute delay, Athletics starter Mike Fiers tossed the second no-hitter of his career last night in a 2-0 win over the Reds.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
In the last few months, multiple big name brands have pumped significant dollars into women's sports, signaling that an increase in media exposure could be having a seismic impact on the business of female athletics.
What's happening: Former WNBPA director Pam Wheeler told sports business outlet, JohnWallStreet, that she believes this heightened sponsorship interest is a byproduct of the increased visibility of women's sports.
The backdrop: Brands have historically ignored women's pro sports, as have televised news and highlight shows — two realities that go hand-in-hand.
The big picture: When the WNBA debuted in 1996, the league had almost no young fans. Fast-forward to today: "My 12-year-old daughter has never lived in a world without professional women's basketball, so the fan demographics have become far more appealing to an advertiser," said Wheeler.
The bottom line: As Wheeler points out, this is the first time time in women's pro sport history that sponsorship deals are being made as the result of "economic decisions, as opposed to emotional connections."
What's next: Now it's up to the leagues to ensure that this influx of sponsorship cash trickles down to the players.
Photo: Rich Linley/CameraSport via Getty Images
Liverpool had the faintest of hope going into yesterday's second leg of their Champions League semifinal (7% chance to win). Facing a 3-0 deficit, they needed to score four times and prevent Barcelona from netting what would likely be a decisive away goal.
What happened: The Reds pulled off a comeback for the ages, winning 4-0 to advance 4-3 on aggregate and secure their spot in the Champions League final for the second consecutive year.
The backdrop: For Barcelona, this is their second straight Champions League collapse. 13 months ago, they led Roma 4-1 heading into the second leg of their quarterfinal matchup, only to see Roma win 3-0 and advance on the away goal tiebreaker.
What they're saying:
"The whole game was too much. It was overwhelming. … I saw James Milner crying on the pitch after the game. It means so much to all of us. There are more important things in the world, but creating this emotional atmosphere together is so special."— Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp
What's next: Klopp's side will play the winner of today's other semifinal between Ajax and Tottenham (3pm ET, TNT), with Ajax leading 1-0.
Above: "Liverpool's players stood in front of [their fans], their heads shaking in disbelief, their arms draped over one another's shoulders, as if they needed to hold on to something, anything, to make sure it was real," writes the NYT's Rory Smith.
Above: Miracles are a hell of a drug.
Above: When the final whistle blew, "all the color had drained from Messi's face," writes Smith. "No player in soccer history has turned so many games to his will. ... This, though, proved beyond even him. There was to be no moment of salvation, no deliverance, no destiny."
Above: Tears of joy. Sports, man...
Photo: Tim Warner/Getty Images
Photo: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Patrick Maroon's goal in double overtime pushed the Blues past the Stars and into the Western Conference Finals. Could this finally be the year St. Louis stops disappointing its fans?
The big picture: There are few fan bases as tortured by their team's constant inability to win a championship as those who support the Blues. They're almost always good, yet they've never been able to get over the hump.
The bottom line: As St. Louis inches closer to a championship (eight wins away!), their fans inch closer to finally experiencing something other than disappointment.
What's next: The Blues' Western Conference Finals opponent will be determined tonight, as the San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche face off in a decisive Game 7 (9pm ET, NBCSN).
The olympic torch in Los Angeles. Photo: Francolo and Simon/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
35 years ago today, the Soviet Union announced its boycott of the 1984 Olympic games in Los Angeles, citing "chauvinistic sentiments and anti-Soviet hysteria" in the U.S. as a danger for its athletes.
Answer at the bottom.
Photo: Vano Shlamov/AFP/Getty Images
Every spring in the village of Shukhuti, Georgia, a black leather ball is sewn together to play Lelo Burti, a brutally physical folk game that's part rugby and part street fight.
Details: On game day, the village is split in two — Upper and Lower Shukhuti — and each team competes to carry the ball back to their side of town.
See you tomorrow,
Kendall "Playoff SZN continues to deliver" Baker
Trivia answer: Jake Arrieta (April 21, 2016, while pitching for the Cubs)