Jan 23, 2019

Axios Sports

Happy Wednesday. Let's sports...

1 big thing: 🎉 Class of 2019

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Mariano Rivera was raised in a small fishing village in Panama, signed with the New York Yankees as an amateur in 1990 for $3,000 and struggled early in his career as a starter (in 1995, he posted a 5.51 ERA as a 25-year-old rookie).

  • Now, he is the first player to ever be unanimously voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame — and the first human being to ever get 425 sports writers to agree on something. Now that's legendary.
  • Fun fact: The number of people who have walked on the moon: 12. The number of people who have scored against Mariano Rivera in the postseason: 11.
  • Watch: Sports, man.

Roy Halladay (85.4%), who sadly passed away in 2017, "outlasted his opponents within a game and a season in a way no pitcher really has since," writes The Ringer's Michael Baumann." Hope you're smiling up there, Roy. You did it, man.

  • Read: "Being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame is every boy's dream," Roy's widow Brandy wrote in a statement. "If only Roy were here to personally express his gratitude for this honor, what an even more amazing day this would be." More reactions.

Edgar Martínez (85.4%) benefited from a late surge of support to get into the Hall in his final year on the ballot. You know what's crazy? Four years ago, he received just 27% of the vote.

  • Watch: Martínez's game-winning double in the 1995 ALDS, known simply as "The Double," is considered the biggest hit in Mariners history and the play that defined his career.

Mike Mussina (76.9%) won at least 15 games and threw at least 200 innings 11 times in his 18-year career — one spent entirely in the AL East (10 seasons with the Orioles, 8 with the Yankees).

  • Read: "When someone that we enjoyed for many years finally gets into the Hall of Fame ... it feels warm to go back to the beginning and remember the whole journey with the freshness of those early days." (Thomas Boswell, WashPost)
2. ⚾️ Hall of Fame (cont'd)
❌ Missed the cut
  • Will appear on future ballots: Curt Schilling (60.9%), Roger Clemens (59.5%), Barry Bonds (59.1%), Larry Walker (54.6%), Omar Vizquel (42.8%), Manny Ramirez (22.8%), Jeff Kent (18.1%), Scott Rolen (17.2%), Billy Wagner (16.7%), Todd Helton (16.5%), Gary Sheffield (13.6%), Andy Pettitte (9.9%), Sammy Sosa (8.5%) and Andruw Jones (7.5%).
  • Removed from future ballots: Fred McGriff (39.8%), Michael Young (2.1%), Lance Berkman (1.2%), Miguel Tejada (1.2%), Roy Oswalt (0.9%), Placido Polanco (0.5%) and 11 more (0%).
📅 Class of 2020?
  • Derek Jeter, whose 5-year waiting period ends next year (feel old yet?), is the the only real lock on the ballot. The 14x All-Star finished 6th all-time in hits (3,465) and 11th in runs scored (1,923).
  • Other first-timers: Cliff Lee, Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi, Josh Beckett, Eric Chavez, Adam Dunn, Rafael Furcal, Paul Konerko and Alfonso Soriano.
3. Down goes Serena; Djokovic advances
Photo: Jason Heidrich/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

Serena Williams fell to No. 7 seed Karolína Plíšková, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, in the quarterfinals last night. Williams had a 5-1 lead in the third set, but it all collapsed after she suffered a foot fault and a twisted ankle on consecutive plays. Match highlights.

  • Semifinals: No. 7 Karolína Plíšková vs. No. 6 Naomi Osaka // No. 8 Petra Kvitová vs. 25-year-old American Danielle Collins (both matches on late tonight)
  • Fun fact: Collins, who attended UVA, is the first collegiate women's tennis player to make a major semifinal since Meredith McGrath at Wimbledon in 1996. She's also the "underdoggiest of underdogs."

Meanwhile, in the men's bracket: Top-seeded Novak Djokovic advanced to the semis a few hours ago after an exhausted Kei Nishikori retired from their match down 6-1, 4-1.

  • Semifinals: No. 14 Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. No. 2 Rafael Nadal (Thursday) // No. 30 Lucas Pouille vs. No. 1 Novak Djokovic (Friday)
4. Pause for buzzer-beaters

Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Above: Charles Matthews celebrates with teammates after just barely — and I mean barely — beating the buzzer to give Michigan the 59-57 win over Minnesota. Here's the broadcast angle, and here's the view from the expensive seats.

Below: The San Jose Sharks defeated the Washington Capitals 7-6 (OT) in an absolute thriller last night. In the final seconds of regulation, it looked like the Caps were going to win 6-5 — until Evander Kane beat the final horn.

Source: NBC Sports/Giphy
5. 🏈🌲 CBS is not high on marijuana

CBS rejected a Super Bowl advertisement that would have advocated for the legalization of medical marijuana, Bloomberg reports.

What happened: Acreage Holdings, the cannabis company backed by former House Speaker John Boehner, was hoping to raise awareness for "constituents who are being lost in the dialogue."

  • The proposed ad features a veteran with combat injuries and a child with seizures, both of whom have benefitted from medicinal cannabis.
  • According to Acreage, which is one of the most valuable weed companies with a market value north of $2.4 billion, CBS nixed the ad after seeing a rough outline.
6. The WNBA without Maya is like the NBA without LeBron

Photo: Sam Wasson/Getty Images

There's a possibility we'll be watching a Maya Moore-less WNBA next season, as the superstar and the Minnesota Lynx are currently engaged in a standoff, writes Axios' Mike Sykes.

What's happening: Moore "might retire, or take a year off, or even ask to be traded," according to a report by Minneapolis TV station WCCO.

  • The source of the feud remains a mystery, though some suspect this is Moore's response to the Lynx using their core player designation on her last week.
  • The core player designation, like the NFL's franchise tag, keeps players from signing with other teams. If you're a disgruntled star, sometimes the only way to change teams is to threaten to sit out (Moore's very own teammate, Sylvia Fowles, did this in 2015 and her trade demands were met mid-season).

The big picture: Moore is the LeBron James of the WNBA. If she gets moved, it would be the biggest trade in league history, rivaled only by Elena Delle Donne's trade to the Washington Mystics in 2017.

  • P.S. Last year's MVP runner-up Liz Cambage has officially requested a trade from the Dallas Wings... The WNBA is pure chaos right now.
7. 🥇🥈🥉 trivia

Next year, Tokyo will host the Summer Olympics for the second time.

  • Question: What year did Tokyo first host the Olympics?
  • Hint: Lyndon B. Johnson was president and the year's top song was "I Want to Hold Your Hand" by The Beatles.

Answer at the bottom.

8. The Ocho: Squash for dummies

Photo: Courtesy of U.S. Squash

Welcome to Day 2 of Squash Week. Here's Day 1 if you missed it.

Squash, invented in 1830, is a sport played by 2 players (singles) or 4 players (doubles) in a 4-walled court that measures 31 feet x 21 feet x 18.5 feet.

  • The basic rules: (1) Don't hit the small, hollow rubber ball below the bottom line on the front wall (aka, the "tin") or above the top line (aka, the "outline") on any wall. (2) Don't let the ball bounce twice. (3) Don't get in the way of your opponent.
  • To begin a point, the ball is served from the back quarter of the court with 1 foot in the small "service box," and the serve must go above the middle line (aka, the "service line") and below the top line.
  • Match structure: Best 3 out of 5 games. Games are to 11, and you must win each game by 2 points.

Film breakdown: There was a point during yesterday's quarterfinal matchup between world No. 1 Mohammed Elshorbagy and world No. 11 Diego Elias that demonstrates why squash has been dubbed "physical chess." A few things to point out before you watch:

  • "The Rail" is when a player hits the ball straight down the wall to the back of the court. This is the foundation for any squash player.
  • "The Boast" is when the ball hits the sidewall before the front wall. This can be used both defensively (when the ball is behind the player) or offensively (by hitting the ball harder and lower).
  • "The T" refers to the center of the court. Notice how Elias and Elshorbagy fight over it so that they're always equidistant from all four corners.

🎥 Watch: Roll the tape

9. On this date: 1/23/2015

Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Four years ago today, Klay Thompson set the NBA record for most points (37) and three-pointers in a quarter (9), finishing with 52 points in the Warriors' 126-101 win over the Kings. Enjoy.

  • Personal story: In 2015, I was a production assistant at ESPN, and my first big boy assignment was to cut the SportsCenter highlight for this very game. Given Klay's performance, I knew virtually every sports fan would be watching, and let me tell you — I've never been so nervous in my life.
10. Everything else

⚽️ After going undefeated in 2018, the USWNT started 2019 with a 3-1 loss to World Cup host France, but they bounced back yesterday with a 1-0 victory over Spain.

🥊 "What does your favorite UFC fighter have in common with your Lyft driver? Both are classified as contractors, giving them few labor rights. But several efforts underway ... seek greater protections for the men and women grappling in the cage." (The Ringer)

🏈 The Rams and Patriots have completely reversed roles since their first Super Bowl meeting.


Kendall "I think I love squash" Baker

Trivia Answer: 1964 (Tokyo was also going to host the 1940 Olympics but, ya know, WWII and all)