☀️ Good morning from the Bay Area, where the Raiders are already sick of Antonio Brown's antics and it's not even September.
The knuckleball has never been a popular pitch by any means (fewer than 100 MLB pitchers have used it as their primary pitch, per FanGraphs), but did you ever think it'd go extinct?
By the numbers: Just 727 knuckleballs were thrown in the majors last season, the fewest in the pitch-tracking era (2008-present). And since the guy who threw 719 of them, Boston's Steven Wright, has been limited to just six innings this year, we're on track for another record low.
Knuckleballs thrown in 2019:
The big picture: The knuckleball's peak came in 1970, when seven knuckleballers — including Hall of Famers Phil Niekro and Hoyt Wilhelm — combined for 47 wins and 44 saves.
The final word:
"It will be sad when it's a lost thing. It's a great piece of curiosity that keeps people engaged .... The hopeful part of my heart says it's the natural ebb and flow of the pitch. The realistic part of my heart feels more and more front offices are not so inclined to give that type of pitch a chance over a guy who throws hard."— R.A. Dickey, per WashPost
Go deeper: "Knuckleball" movie trailer (YouTube)
Mike Leach. Photo: Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Washington State will star in HBO's college version of "Hard Knocks" this season, which is fantastic news because it means more camera time for Cougars head coach Mike Leach — the most interesting man in college football.
His QB meetings sound hilarious:
"Maybe five plays into watching film, something happened that sparked a classic Mike Leach tangent. For at least an hour ... he talked about everything from growing up in Wyoming to having a pet raccoon, getting paddled by the principal at his junior high, the origins of football and eventually just a full-blown Native American history lesson."
"The one-hour meeting lasted probably three hours. I remember looking at the veteran QBs in the room with a 'what is happening right now?' look on my face, but I could tell by their reactions that this was just a normal thing."— Former WSU QB Isaac Dotson, per The Athletic
And he has a unique coaching style:
"All through my senior year, I was probably calling 70% of the plays. He would give me a formation and then I would call the play. His coaching philosophy is, you're out there on the field, you can see the way the defense is lined up better than I can. So it's my job to get you to the best point of believing in yourself and believing in your ability to call the plays.."— Former WSU QB Connor Halliday, per The Athletic
Meanwhile, the guy is super successful, has one of the most impressive coaching trees in the country and literally invented the "Air Raid" offense, which produced QBs like Patrick Mahomes and Kyler Murray and is taking the NFL by storm.
Go deeper: Mike Leach's most memorable quotes (SB Nation)
BERLIN — Fans of the newly promoted Bundesliga club Union Berlin held up photos of supporters who passed away before getting the chance to see them play in Germany's top division. Sports, man.
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, PA. — The Cubs beat the Pirates 7-1 in the third annual Little League Classic — a one-night celebration of baseball in its purest form that Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said was "like a trip to an amusement park."
ANAHEIM, CALIF. — Stipe Miocic avenged his 2018 loss to Daniel Cormier and regained the UFC heavyweight championship with a fourth-round knockout on Saturday night, which begs the question: Is he the greatest heavyweight in UFC history?
Justin Thomas celebrates winning the BMW Championship yesterday. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
After two events, just 30 golfers remain in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, and all 30 of them will be at the Tour Championship in Atlanta next week with a chance at the $15 million prize.
How it works: Not everyone starts at even par this week. Instead, the leader of the year-long points race — that would be Justin Thomas, who won this weekend's BMW Championship — starts at 10 under. Second place starts at 8 under, third place starts at 7 under, etc.
Top 10 leaderboard:
Notably absent: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day all failed to qualify, meaning their seasons are officially over.
🏀 Auction: A Punahou School basketball jersey believed to be worn by Barack Obama during his high school basketball days sold at Heritage Auctions for $120,000 on Saturday.
⚾️ MLB: Mets rookie Pete Alonso hit his 40th home run last night, moving him past Cody Bellinger for the NL rookie record. With 38 games remaining, Alonso trails only Aaron Judge (52) and Mark McGwire (49) on the all-time rookie list.
⚽️ La Liga: 19-year-old Joao Felix, the Portuguese wunderkind who has been compared to a young Cristiano Ronaldo, dazzled for Atletico Madrid in his La Liga debut before limping off with a hip injury. This nutmeg is filthy.
18 years ago today, 12-year-old Danny Almonte pitched a perfect game in the Little League World Series. But what happened afterwards is what people will never forget.
"They just told me 'say what I say. If I say you're 12, you're 12.' The way I was raised, if my dad says something you've got to do it."— Danny Almonte, per ESPN
The big picture: Almonte continued playing baseball, but never made the majors. Today, he serves as an assistant high school baseball coach in New York City.
Go deeper: Revenge of the baseball gods (ESPN)
Answer at the bottom.
This week, we'll be exploring the world of cliff diving. More specifically, we'll be taking you inside the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series — a multi-stop tour that takes divers all across Europe.
What to expect: Over the next few days, you'll learn everything there is to know about cliff diving and get a taste of what's in store for the divers in Mostar.
Welcome to Cliff Diving Week. See you back here tomorrow.
See you tomorrow,
Kendall "This made me cry" Baker
Trivia answer: Top row: LeBron, D-Rose, AI, Kobe, Blake Griffin ... 2nd row: Shaq, Penny Hardaway, Kyrie, Westbrook, CP3 ... 3rd row: Steph, T-Mac, Kawhi, Paul George, Klay Thompson ... 4th row: Damian Lillard, Dwight Howard, Lonzo Ball, John Wall, D-Wade ... 5th row: Giannis (unsure about this one, tbh), MJ, KD, Melo, Harden.