May 24, 2019

Axios Sports

By Kendall Baker
Kendall Baker

👋 Happy Friday! Today's word count: 1,214 (<5 mins)

Tim Skinner of Arcadia, Calif. is our first back-to-back Pick 3 winner, which means he gets to dedicate today's newsletter to someone. Who's it gonna be, Tim?

  • "I want to dedicate today's edition to your trivia buffs in training — my kids Evan, Dylan and Hannah — who also all love sports, and being right!"

P.S. ... Refer 5 friends using your unique link = Earn a $20 Fanatics gift card. No, really.

1 big thing: 🏀 Toronto takes control

Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Toronto Raptors got the best of the Milwaukee Bucks for the third straight game last night, winning 105-99 to give themselves a chance to close out the series at home on Saturday.

Winners:

  • Kawhi Leonard: The Claw scored 35 points, his seventh 35+ point game in these playoffs (11th player to ever do that). He also had a career-high nine assists, all of which led to threes, meaning he accounted for 59% of Toronto's points ... all while shutting down Giannis on the other end.
  • Toronto's bench: For the second straight game, Toronto's reserves outscored Milwaukee's (35-15). Dad-mode Fred VanVleet was lights out once again following the birth of his son (21 points on a career-high seven threes).

Losers:

  • Eric Bledsoe: For the second straight year, Bledsoe looks completely out of sync in the playoffs. Yes, he had 20 points, but he also had some horrible turnovers and is now shooting 28.8% from the field and 15% on threes this series.
  • Aaron Rodgers: I remember my first beer.

P.S. ... The All-NBA teams were just announced. Poor Klay.

  • First team: Stephen Curry, James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, Paul George.
  • Second team: Damian Lillard, Kevin Durant, Joel Embiid, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving.
  • Third team: Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, LeBron James, Rudy Gobert, Kemba Walker.
2. 🏎 F1 heads to Monaco for the year's biggest race
Expand chart
Map: Aïda Amer and Naema Ahmed/Axios; Data: Travel Stack Exchange, Google Earth

The Monaco Grand Prix takes place this weekend in the Monte Carlo neighborhood of Monaco. Mercedes will be looking for its record sixth straight 1-2 finish.

Standings:

  1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes): 112 points
  2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes): 105 points
  3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull): 66 points
  4. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari): 64 points

Details: The Circuit de Monaco is arguably the most famous circuit on the Formula 1 calendar and the whole weekend is an absolute spectacle.

  • The track itself is extremely narrow, making it virtually impossible to overtake drivers. As three-time world champion Nelson Piquet once said, "driving in Monaco is like trying to ride a bike in your living room."

Key features:

  • Grand Hotel Hairpin: This area of the track requires drivers to pull off a nearly 180 ° turn. It's so tight that many F1 teams must redesign their steering and suspension to deal with this turn, specifically.
  • The Tunnel: One of just two tunnels on the F1 calendar, it presents a huge challenge for drivers due to the quick switch from light to dark — then back to light again — at one of the track's fastest points.
  • The Chicane: Out of the tunnel, drivers must brake hard for the tight left-right-left Chicane, which has been the scene of several large accidents over the years. This is one of the only places where overtaking can be attempted.

Go deeper:

3. 💰 Endeavor files for IPO

Ari Emanuel. Photo: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for The Hollywood Reporter

Sports business spotlight: On Monday, we covered Fanatics. On Tuesday, we covered Nasdaq. On Wednesday, we covered the Sports Business Awards. Yesterday, we covered Opendorse. Today: Endeavor.

Endeavor Group, the talent agency and live events company led by Ari Emanuel, filed for an initial public offering yesterday.

  • Fun facts: Emanuel was the inspiration behind Jeremy Piven's Ari Gold character on "Entourage." He's also the brother of former White House chief of staff and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Between the lines: Endeavor is perhaps best known for representing movie stars. But according to the filing, more than 70% of its $3.6 billion revenue last year came from creating and licensing content — much of it in sports.

  • Endeavor owns the UFC and Professional Bull Riders (PBR), as well as a video streaming business with clients like the NFL, NBA, MSG, Big Ten Network and WWE.

The big picture: While legacy media businesses have spent billions of dollars building "pipes" (cable networks, movie theaters), Endeavor has focused on owning premium content that can then be distributed through those pipes.

The bottom line: Emanuel writes in the IPO prospectus:

"Content is no longer defined solely by the traditional categories on which our businesses were founded. Television, movies and live events have been joined by others including podcasts, experiences, social media, multiplayer video games and esports. Wherever you are in the world and whatever way you define content, Endeavor is likely playing a role."
4. 🏀 2019 WNBA season primer
Giphy

From Mike Sykes: The WNBA tips off tonight with two games: Dallas Wings vs. Atlanta Dream and Indiana Fever vs. New York Liberty. Here's a quick season primer.

Storylines to watch:

  • Cathy Engelbert, former Deloitte CEO, is officially the WNBA's first actual commissioner. Don't forget: Labor negotiations are right around the corner.
  • The Las Vegas Aces are the league's newest super team, featuring back-to-back-to-back No. 1 picks (Kelsey Plum, A'ja Wilson, Jackie Young) and the league's most dynamic scorer (the recently acquired Liz Cambage).
  • The Seattle Storm have already lost Breanna Stewart (Achilles) and Sue Bird (knee) to major injuries. Could be a rough season for the defending champs.

Players to watch:

  • MVP frontrunner: Washington Mystics star Elena Delle Donne is the early MVP favorite, and she'll be playing with a monster chip on her shoulder after last year's Finals sweep.
  • Rookie of the Year watch: Liberty guard Asia Durr (No. 2 pick out of Louisville) and Dallas Wings guard Arike Ogunbowale (No. 6 pick out of Notre Dame) are co-favorites.
  • China connection: Han Xu (Liberty) is the WNBA's first Chinese draftee since 1997 and one of China's biggest hoops ambassadors since Yao Ming.

Go deeper:

5. 📚 Worthy of your time

If you enjoy fascinatingly complex, borderline insane American sports figures, you need to dive into this piece on jockey Mary Bacon immediately. Epic read.

"Mary Bacon took a bullet while pilfering fruit as a child. Mary Bacon dropped out of school in the sixth grade and was pregnant by age 16. Mary Bacon had a romantic relationship with Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke. Mary Bacon was kidnapped by a stalker. ... Not all of those sentences are complete horseshit."

Dive in.

6. ⚾ May 24, 1935: Baseball stays up late
MLB's first night game. Photo: Cincinnati Museum Center/Getty Images

84 years ago today, the Cincinnati Reds beat the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 at Crosley Field in Major League Baseball's first ever night game.

  • The backdrop: Teams initially saw lights in stadiums as a gimmick. For over 50 years, MLB games were played exclusively in the daytime.
  • The big picture: The Reds drew impressive crowds in their seven night games in 1935, leading the rest of the league to follow suit (other than the Cubs, of course, who didn't host their first night game until 1988).

Go deeper:

7. ⚾️ MLB trivia

Earlier this week, Zack Greinke (2,502) joined Felix Hernandez (2,501), Max Scherzer (2,545), Justin Verlander (2,795) and C.C. Sabathia (3,020) as the only active pitchers with 2,500 strikeouts.

  • Question: Which active pitcher is closest to joining the 2,500 strikeout club?
  • Hint: He's spent the majority of his career in the NL East.

Answer at the bottom.

8. The Ocho: 💦 Diving 'round the world
Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull via Getty Images

PALAWAN, PHILIPPINES — Constantin Popovici of Romania dives during the first stop of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series last month. The winning dives were insane.

Photo: Romina Amato/Red Bull via Getty Images

PALAWAN, PHILIPPINES — Yeah, they're pretty high up there.

Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull via Getty Images

DUBLIN, IRELAND — Stop No. 2 took the divers to Dublin earlier this month. Event highlights.

Photo: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

LONDON, ENGLAND — Meanwhile, in the sport of indoor diving, the FINA Diving World Series just finished up. Above are two Russian divers competing in the men's synchronized springboard.

9. 🎰 Make your picks!
Courtesy: The Action Network/Axios

Today's Pick 3 contest will take place within The Action Network app.

Yesterday's results: 48% said the Bucks (-7) would not cover the spread … 56% said Bucks-Raptors would go under 217 points … 3% said Kawhi Leonard would score 35 points.

  • One player nailed all three: Mike McDonald (Charlotte, N.C.)
Kendall Baker

Enjoy the long weekend. See you Tuesday,

Kendall "Brutal way to lose" Baker

Trivia answer: Cole Hamels (2,475)