Good morning! March Madness has arrived.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
The NCAA Tournament bracket is out, which means it's time for analysts to start complaining about the teams that got snubbed — and time for you to start practicing opening and closing browser windows at your desk with speed and precision.
First Four: The action tips off tomorrow in Dayton, Ohio. All First Four games are on truTV.
First Round: Opening round games take place on Thursday and Friday on CBS, truTV, TNT and TBS (cord-cutters guide).
The Buffalo Bisons (Blue Jays Triple-A affiliate) on Opening Day last season. Photo: David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images
The Toronto Blue Jays plan to increase the salaries of their minor league players by roughly 50%, The Athletic reports (subscription).
Why it matters: Minor league salaries have been a hot topic around baseball in recent years, as a mix of litigation and innovation has opened the public's eyes to the indignity of farm system life.
The big picture: Financial concerns make it difficult for minor leagues to maximize their potential, with many unable to afford decent housing (it's not uncommon to live in a host family's basement), healthy food or offseason training.
What they're saying:
"We hope that it allows our players to have the freedom and comfort to make some good choices, whether it's where to live, where to eat, etc. We just feel like it's consistent with our values of trying to be a player-centered organization and give them every resource possible to be at their best."— Ben Cherington, Blue Jays VP of Baseball Operations
Photo: Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images
18-year-old Canadian Bianca Andreescu stunned three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, yesterday to win the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells and capture her first career title.
P.S. We had another upset over in the men's bracket, as Dominic Thiem came back from a set down to defeat some guy named Federer, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5.
Rory McIlroy in the locker room after winning The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. Photo: Chris Condon/PGA Tour/Getty Images
The final round of The Players Championship was a "knock-down-drag-out race to the wire, with eight players holding at least a share of the lead … before Rory McIlroy took command," the NY Times' Karen Crouse writes:
The backdrop: In his five previous starts this year, McIlroy hadn't finished worse than a tie for sixth — with no trophy to show for it.
The big picture: With the victory, the 29-year-old McIlroy joins Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus as the only players since 1934 (when the first Masters was held) to win at least 15 PGA Tour events and four majors before the age of 30.
What's next: Rory will be the favorite at the Masters in mid-April, where he'll be vying to win his first green jacket and complete the career Grand Slam.
Fans cheer during FC Cincinnati's inaugural home match at Nippert Stadium. Photo: Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Kicker Nick Novak celebrates with his Birmingham Iron teammates after kicking the game-winner against the San Diego Fleet yesterday. Photo: Denis Poroy/AAF/Getty Images
From Mike: With Week 6 in the books, we've officially passed the midway point of the inaugural Alliance of American Football season.
What to watch: The last-place Memphis Express just picked up Johnny Manziel after his exile from the Canadian Football League. This could be his last chance.
Yesterday's Giannis Antetokounmpo (52 pts, 16 reb) vs. Joel Embiid (40 pts, 15 reb) faceoff was the first time in the past 35 seasons that two dueling players finished with at least 40 points and 15 rebounds.
Answer at the bottom.
Above: Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas won the Australian Grand Prix, the opening race of the 2019 F1 season, finishing 20 seconds ahead of Mercedes teammate and defending world champion Lewis Hamilton.
Below: Kyle Busch, NASCAR's greatest villain, earned his 200th career victory, joining Hall of Famer Richard Petty as the only drivers with 200 wins.
The Lord Mayor of London and Lord Derby, great-great-grandson of Lord Stanley, with the Stanley Cup. Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images
127 years ago, Sir Frederick Arthur Stanley, aka Lord Stanley of Preston, presented the first-ever Stanley Cup (then known as the Silver Cup) as a prize for the best amateur hockey club in Canada.
Background: From 1893 to 1906, the Stanley Cup holder was determined by challenge games involving the top amateur teams in Canada.
Kendall "In all seriousness, my sleeper pick is Virginia Tech" Baker
Trivia answer: James Harden, Paul George, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, LeBron James