👋 Good morning! Let's sports.
Today's word count: 1,926 words (7 minutes).
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios
Whether baseball is played this season hinges on an extremely contagious virus that is unlike anything we've ever seen. But next in line is whether MLB owners (billionaires) and players (mostly millionaires) can settle an economic dispute.
Why it matters: If the 2020 MLB season doesn't happen because of safety or logistical concerns, that's understandable. But if money is the issue a year after MLB grossed a record $10.7 billion in revenue, it would be a PR disaster — and the sport might never recover.
The backdrop: In late March, MLB and the MLBPA struck a deal that guaranteed players prorated salaries based on the number of games played. From the union's perspective, this ends the matter and no new negotiations are needed.
The state of play: The two sides are in their second week of a contentious back-and-forth about a potential 2020 season. The hope is they can reach an agreement by June 3, with players reporting to spring training on June 10, and the season starting around July 1.
"As is almost always the case when there is a work stoppage in sports, the players will get the brunt of the criticism. They are more visible, and the average fan finds their salaries stunning. But here's a fact: The owners are far more wealthy and ... won't be putting their health at risk."— John Feinstein, WashPost
The bottom line: As baseball weighs a return to the diamond, owners and players are embroiled in a very public argument, starring "leaked" documents, a so-called "smoking email," and a viral Twitch video. So much for sports being an escape, huh?
Normally, Memorial Day weekend is absolutely packed with sporting events. Of course, you don't need me to tell you that won't be the case this year. Here's a glimpse at what we're missing this weekend, writes Axios' Jeff Tracy.
American Pharoah winning the Triple Crown in 2015. Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images
Jeff writes: The Belmont Stakes, generally held the first week in June, has been rescheduled for June 20, leaving us with the following Triple Crown slate:
Why it matters: For the first time ever, the Belmont will be the first leg of the Triple Crown, not the last. It will also be shorter than usual, giving this year's trio of races an entirely different feel.
The big picture: "The Test of the Champion" may no longer be a fitting slogan for Belmont given the reduced distance, but in the long run this change could actually be beneficial for the entire sport.
The bottom line: It remains to be seen how owners, trainers, jockeys and horses will take to the revamped 2020 schedule, but for a sport so steeped in tradition, a shake-up like this might prove that just because something's always been done one way, doesn't necessarily make it right.
DARLINGTON, S.C. — Denny Hamlin puts on a "happy face" mask after winning the rain-shortened Toyota 500 at Darlington Raceway last night, NASCAR's second race since returning to live racing at the same track on Sunday.
CLEARWATER, Fla. — Spectrum Field, the spring training home of the Phillies, sits idle as plans for a return to spring training in June remain up in the air.
PETALUMA, Calif. — 14-year-old Olympic hopeful skateboarder Minna Stess trains in her backyard skatepark. Great kid.
DUBLIN, Ireland — Forty Foot, a historic bathing pool at the southern tip of Dublin Bay that is considered on of the best places in the world to swim, re-opened to the public yesterday.
SEOUL, South Korea — Doosan Bears cheerleaders during the KBO League game between the second-place Bears and first-place NC Dinos. Full standings.
CHANDIGARH, India — Golfers sanitizing their bags after playing a round at the recently re-opened Chandigarh Golf Club.
We're ranking the all-time rosters for all 30 MLB teams. Note: Rosters based only on time spent with this specific team. Thoughts? Email me at email@example.com.
This team is super deep, and the heart of the order is scary: Harmon Killebrew led the league in homers six times, Rod Carew and Joe Mauer won a combined 10 batting titles and Kirby Puckett led the league in hits four times. They're also the clubhouse leader in best names ranking. Killebrew? Kirby? Goose!?! Killer stuff.
On the mound: SP Walter Johnson* (164.5)
ICYMI ... 30. Tampa Bay Rays; 29. Kansas City Royals; 28. Arizona Diamondbacks; 27. Toronto Blue Jays; 26. Los Angeles Angels; 25. San Diego Padres; 24. Colorado Rockies; 23. Milwaukee Brewers; 22. Washington Nationals; 21. New York Mets; 20. Baltimore Orioles
Huge thanks to Tom Stone, whose book "Now Taking the Field: Baseball's All-Time Dream Teams for All 30 Franchises," provided the inspiration for these rosters.
Photo: Michael Buholzer/AFP via Getty Images
116 years ago today, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) was established in Paris by seven founding national associations: Belgium, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Membership: Today, FIFA boasts 211 member associations, including 129 women's national teams, broken down further into regional confederations. Just 12 members of these regional confederations are not also associated with FIFA.
The big picture: Corruption has plagued FIFA in recent years, with then-president Sepp Blatter forced to resign in 2015 due to a decades-long scandal.
🎥 Watch: Meet one of the world's best all-around cyclists (Red Bull)
"Rob Warner travels to France to meet with Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, the only rider in history to hold cross-country, cyclocross and road racing world titles at the same time."
📚 Read: Coronavirus shut down the "experience economy." Can it come back? (David Gelles, NYT)
"In recent decades, a growing share of job growth and gross domestic product has come from the business of getting people together — from college sports [to] music festivals. ... Even the boom in restaurants was about atmospherics as much as it was about food."
🎧 Listen: How can the NBA return? ("Winging it with Vince Carter," The Ringer)
"Vince Carter and 'NBA on TNT' host Ernie Johnson Jr. discuss the future of the NBA during the COVID-19 pandemic pending a decision from commissioner Adam Silver."
Competitors from around the world descended on Las Vegas in January for the 13th Annual World Sign Spinning Championship, where they were judged on three categories: style, technical ability and execution. Haha unreal.
Answer at the bottom.
Andrew T. (Atlanta) writes:
"My little brother, Luke, is six years younger than me, and we did not get along growing up at all. We shared a room for around 10 years up until I left for college and were constantly fighting and getting on each other's nerves.
"It didn't help that I was very into sports and he was not. Everything I did was sports related — playing sports, watching sports, trading sports cards with friends — while Luke couldn't care less. And that made it hard for us to connect.
"Then, out of the blue, he started to show more interest in sports. So I started taking him to games in an effort to spend more quality time together. Our first game together was a Texas Rangers game, then I brought him to a few Texas A&M football and baseball games during my time as a student there.
"Slowly but surely, this helped us begin to build more of a relationship. We went from never texting to texting regularly about Texas A&M football, the Cowboys and the Mavericks.
"Every now and then, Luke will mention when we went to our first baseball game together and how that meant a lot to him. And I may not tell him enough, but it sure did mean a lot to me, too.
"Luke ended up attending Texas A&M like I did, which has helped our bond grow even stronger. When I'm back home from Atlanta (where I live now), we'll always find some time to talk Aggies football.
"Long story short, my brother and I had a strained relationship growing up, and honestly we still struggle at times today. But there's a real connection now, built largely around sports, and for that I am very thankful."
✍️ Submit your story: Do you have a fondest sports memory? Or an example of sports having a positive impact on your life? If you'd like to share, simply reply to this email. We'll be telling your stories until they run out.
See ya Tuesday,
Kendall "Handing the mic over to Jeff" Baker
Trivia answer: Win a batting title (1976, 1980, 1990)