Aug 15, 2019

Axios Sports

By Kendall Baker
Kendall Baker

👋 Good morning!

Today's word count: 1,131 words (4 mins)

1 big thing: 🏈 Jay-Z touts NFL deal as "next phase"

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Roc Nation

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and music mogul Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter held a news conference yesterday to officially announce a multiyear partnership between the NFL and Carter's entertainment company, Roc Nation.

  • Details: The deal will give Carter a prominent role in the league’s social justice program, while also making Roc Nation a co-producer of the Super Bowl halftime show.

Why it matters: Carter was repeatedly asked to explain his reasoning for partnering with the NFL on social justice initiatives while Colin Kaepernick, whom he has strongly supported, remains conspicuously absent from the league.

Carter's response:

"We forget that Colin's whole thing was to bring attention to social injustice. In that case, this is a success. This is the next phase. There [are] two parts of protesting. You go outside and you protest, and then the company or the individual says, 'I hear you. What do we do next?'"
"I think we have moved past kneeling. I think it's time to go into actionable items."

The bottom line, per NYT's Ken Belson: "In the end, the deal announced Wednesday may lead to a more entertaining Super Bowl. It may also raise a lot more money for groups fighting social injustice that the league is backing through its 'Inspire Change' campaign."

  • "But even with all its resources, the league is probably going to have a hard time shaking the Kaepernick questions."

P.S. … Kaepernick has yet to publicly comment on the Roc Nation-NFL partnership, but hours after the news conference, he took to social media to mark the three-year anniversary of his initial protest.

Screenshot: @Kaepernick7
2. ⚾️ The Little League World Series starts today

Photo: Alex Trautwig/MLB via Getty Images

The 2019 Little League World Series begins today (1pm ET) in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with 10-to-12-year-olds from all over the world vying to be crowned champions.

U.S. teams:

  • West: Central East Maui (Wailuku, Hawaii)
  • Mid-Atlantic: Elmora Youth (Elizabeth, N.J.)
  • Great Lakes: Bowling Green East (Bowling Green, Ky.)
  • Northwest: Sprague (Salem, Ore.)
  • New England: Barrington (Barrington, R.I.)
  • Midwest: Coon Rapids Andover American (Coon Rapids, Minn.)
  • Southeast: Loudoun South (South Riding, Va.)
  • Southwest: Eastbank (River Ridge, La.)

International teams:

  • Canada: Coquitlam (Coquitlam, B.C.)
  • Asia-Pacific: Chung Nam (South Chungcheong, South Korea)
  • Australia: Cronulla (Sydney, New South Wales)
  • Caribbean: Pablo (Willemstad, Curacao)
  • Europe-Africa: Emilia Romagna (Bologna, Italy)
  • Japan: Chofu (Chofu City, Japan)
  • Latin America: Cacique Mara (Maracaibo, Venezuela)
  • Mexico: Epitacio “Mala” Torres (Guadalupe, Nuevo León)


  • Meet Maddy: Coon Rapids' starting second baseman, Maddy Freking, is the 19th girl — and first since Mo'ne Davis — to play in the LLWS.
  • New age limit: The eligibility cut-off date has been switched from Dec. 31 to Aug. 31, making this the first year without any 13-year-olds.
  • New tiebreaker: If the score is tied after the regulation six innings, the last batter in the previous inning will be placed at second, and this will continue each frame until the tie is broken.

Look: Full schedule.

3. ⚽️ Mediation talks over equal pay collapse

Photo: Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images

The long-anticipated mediation talks between the U.S. women's national team and the U.S. Soccer Federation collapsed without a resolution yesterday.

What they're saying:

  • USWNT: "Today we must conclude these meetings sorely disappointed in the federation's determination to perpetuate fundamentally discriminatory workplace conditions and behavior," said spokeswoman Molly Levinson in a statement. "It is clear that USSF ... fully intend to continue to compensate women players less than men. They will not succeed."
  • U.S. Soccer: "Unfortunately, instead of allowing mediation to proceed in a considerate manner, plaintiffs' counsel took an aggressive and ultimately unproductive approach that follows months of presenting misleading information to the public in an effort to perpetuate confusion.”

What's next: With no further mediation sessions scheduled, the USWNT's gender discrimination lawsuit will likely proceed to federal court — and perhaps to a trial next year.

4. 🏈 Fantasy Rankings: Top 25 TEs

Travis Kelce. Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

This week, we're unveiling our 2019 Fantasy Football rankings. ICYMI: Monday's QB rankings, Tuesday's RB rankings and Wednesday's WR rankings.

1. Travis Kelce, Chiefs: The 29-year-old has finished as the top fantasy TE in each of the past three seasons, and there's nothing to suggest he can't do it again. In fact, look for him to challenge Gronk's TE scoring record (331 PPR points in 2011).

2. George Kittle, 49ers: The 25-year-old set the single-season record for receiving yards by a TE last year (1,377 yards), and that was with C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens under center. Now that Garoppolo is back, Kittle's ceiling is sky-high.

3. Zach Ertz, Eagles: The 28-year-old set the single-season record for receptions by a TE last year (116 receptions). That number could go down with the addition of DeSean Jackson and a few other pickups, but he still remains a top three option.

4. Evan Engram, Giants: While Baker Mayfield's stock rose after the Odell Beckham Jr. trade, the 24-year-old Engram may have benefitted the most. Look for him to approach triple digit targets this year.

5. O.J. Howard, Buccaneers: The biggest concern is health, as both of the 24-year-old's first two seasons were cut short due to injury. Conversely, here is the list of players with a career yards per target mark greater than 11.4: O.J. Howard.


  • 6-10: 6. Jared Cook (Saints), 7. Vance McDonald (Steelers), 8. Hunter Henry (Chargers), 9. Eric Ebron (Colts), 10. Greg Olsen (Panthers)
  • 11-15: 11. Austin Hooper (Falcons), 12. David Njoku (Browns), 13. Mark Andrews (Ravens), 14. Trey Burton (Bears), 15. Delanie Walker (Titans)
  • 16-20: 16. Jordan Reed (Redskins), 17. Jack Doyle (Colts), 18. Kyle Rudolph (Vikings), 19. Jimmy Graham (Packers), 20. Will Dissly (Seahawks)
  • 21-25: 21. T.J. Hockenson (Lions), 22. Noah Fant (Broncos), 23. Ben Watson (Patriots), 24. Tyler Eifert (Bengals), 25. Chris Herndon (Jets)
5. 📸 Yesterday in photos
Photo: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

ISTANBUL — Liverpool beat Chelsea 5-4 on penalties following a 2-2 draw to win the European Super Cup, which pits the reigning champs of the Champions League and Europa League against each other.

Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

MEDINAH, ILLINOIS — Final preparations have been made ahead of today's BMW Championship at Medinah Country Club's No. 3 course (site of the 1999 and 2006 PGA Championships, as well as the 2012 Ryder Cup). The top 30 finishers will advance to next week's Tour Championship. Here's everything you need to know.

Photo: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

PHILADELPHIA — 75-year-old Charlie Manuel, who managed the 2008 Phillies team that won the World Series, made his debut as the team's new hitting coach yesterday. The offense responded with an 11-1 victory over the Cubs that featured two dingers from Bryce Harper.

6. Aug. 15, 2012: ⚾️ King Felix is perfect

Photo: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Seven years ago today, Seattle Mariners legend Felix Hernandez pitched the 23rd — and most recent — perfect game in MLB history, shutting down the Tampa Bay Rays.

Fun facts:

  • Hernandez's perfect game was the third one thrown in 2012 following Phillip Humber (White Sox) and Matt Cain (Giants), making it the first time three were thrown in one season.
  • The Mariners became the only team in MLB history to win and lose a perfect game in the same season following their loss to Humber in April.
  • For the Rays, this marked the third time in four seasons that they had fallen victim to a perfect game (Mark Buehrle in in 2009 and Dallas Braden in 2010).

Watch: Hernandez's final perfect pitch (YouTube)

7. ⚾️ MLB trivia

Albert Pujols recorded his 3,167th hit last night to set a new record for foreign-born players.

  • Question: Whose record did Pujols break?
  • Hint: He retired after last season.

Answer at the bottom.

8. The Ocho: 🇳🇴 "Death Diving"

"Death Diving" is a Norwegian extreme sport in which divers jump from a 10-meter-high board with their arms and legs spread out in an X-formation.

  • In other words, it's basically people jumping off a platform and performing bizarre "tricks," then trying to tuck their legs at the last second so they don't injure themselves.

Please enjoy.

Kendall Baker

See you tomorrow,

Kendall "How can you not love Jürgen Klopp?" Baker

Trivia answer: Adrian Beltre