November 10, 2022
👋 Good morning! We're off tomorrow for Veterans Day, so we'll see you back here on Monday morning.
Today's word count: 1,591 words (6 minutes).
1 big thing: ⚽️ World Cup roster revealed
The USMNT revealed its World Cup roster on Wednesday night at an event in Brooklyn, New York.
The squad: The 26 players comprise a roster whose average age at kickoff will be just 25 years, 175 days — the youngest of 32 teams heading to Qatar and the second-youngest in USMNT's World Cup history.
- Goalkeepers (3): Ethan Horvath (age 27), Sean Johnson (33), Matt Turner (28)
- Defenders (9): Cameron Carter-Vickers (24), Sergiño Dest (22), Aaron Long (30), Shaq Moore (26), Tim Ream (35), Antonee Robinson (25), Joe Scally (19), DeAndre Yedlin (29), Walker Zimmerman (29)
- Midfielders (7): Brenden Aaronson (22), Kellyn Acosta (27), Tyler Adams (23), Luca de la Torre (24), Weston McKennie (24), Yunus Musah (19), Cristian Roldan (27)
- Forwards (7): Jesús Ferreira (21), Jordan Morris (28), Christian Pulisic (24), Gio Reyna (19), Josh Sargent (22), Tim Weah (22), Haji Wright (24)
Notable omissions … Keeper Zack Steffen and striker Ricardo Pepi were both integral to the team's success during qualifiers, making their omissions particularly tough decisions for coach Gregg Berhalter.
Looking ahead: The USMNT's first game is in 11 days. Given this is their first appearance in eight years, you might want to block off your calendar for their three group stage matches:
- Nov. 21: vs. Wales
- Nov. 25: vs. England
- Nov. 29: vs. Iran
Go deeper: Youth defines the USMNT (SI)
2. 🏀 Americans in Russia
Even as war rages and Brittney Griner begins her nine-year sentence in a penal colony, American men are still availing themselves of the lucrative opportunity to play hoops in Russia.
State of play: Roughly 30 American men are playing basketball in Russia this season despite being cautioned against doing so by the U.S. government.
- These players often earn upwards of $1 million and are given free housing and cars in deals that exceed what they might find elsewhere, reports NYT.
- In fact, Russian teams significantly increased their offers this year to persuade players to come "because of the perception of what's going on there," one agent told NYT.
What they're saying: "Everybody’s going to say, 'Why would you go there?'" K.C. Rivers, playing his first season for BC Samara, told NYT. "At the end of the day … you still have family to provide for."
The other side: WNBA players have agreed en masse not to play in Russia until Griner is brought home, and they're hardly the only ones who feel that way.
- "I think we should be boycotting the place," NBA agent Aaron Goodwin told USA Today. "We shouldn't support it no matter how much money it is."
- "Let's be honest — the U.S. is at war with Russia right now. This is not the time to go [there]," added Mike Cound, an agent who represents dozens of women playing internationally.
Zoom out: WNBA players heading abroad in the offseason has only become standard practice because of their relatively low domestic salaries: the WNBA maximum is about a quarter of the NBA minimum.
3. 🏈 NFL power rankings: Week 10
Halfway through the season, our power rankings more or less reflect the playoff picture, which could feature a vastly different set of teams from last year.
State of play: Just four teams in our top 10 made last year's playoffs, two have already surpassed their 2021 win total (Jets, Giants), and three are just one win shy of last year's total (Eagles, Vikings, Seahawks).
Current playoff picture…
- Bills (6-2)
- Chiefs (6-2)
- Ravens (6-3)
- Titans (5-3)
- Jets (6-3)
- Dolphins (6-3)
- Chargers (5-3)
- Eagles (8-0)
- Vikings (7-1)
- Seahawks (6-3)
- Buccaneers (4-5)
- Cowboys (6-2)
- Giants (6-2)
- 49ers (4-4)
4. ⚡️ Lightning round
🏀 First to 10: Two NBA teams on Wednesday became the first to 10 wins — the Bucks (10-1) and Jazz (10-3), who continue defying expectations. No team is scoring more than Utah's 118.8 points per game.
🏈 Commanders update coming: The D.C. attorney general will hold a news conference today to "make a major announcement" about the Commanders, who are the subject of multiple investigations.
⛳️ Tiger's return: Tiger Woods announced Wednesday he'll play in December's Hero World Challenge, a tournament in the Bahamas he's hosted since its establishment in 2000. It will be his first competitive event since July's British Open.
⚾️ Award winners: Aaron Judge and Paul Goldschmidt were named the AL and NL's Hank Aaron Award winners for outstanding offensive performance. Of the 46 previous winners, 22 went on to win MVP.
5. 🏀 Stat du jour: Coaches who played
The Nets officially hired Jacque Vaughn as head coach on Wednesday, removing the interim tag and giving him a deal through the 2023-24 season.
State of play: Vaughn — a former player — replaced another former player in Steve Nash, keeping the league-wide total of active NBA coaches who once played at 12.
Zoom out: That's just the third-highest total among the "Big Four," where nearly half of all head coaches or managers (61 of 124) once played at the highest level.
- MLB (21 of 30): Torey Lovullo (ARI), David Ross (CHC), David Bell (CIN), Bud Black (COL), Dave Roberts (LAD), Skip Schumaker (MIA), Craig Counsell (MIL), Bob Melvin (SD), Gabe Kapler (SF), Dave Martinez (WSH), Alex Cora (BOS), Terry Francona (CLE), A.J. Hinch (DET), Dusty Baker (HOU), Phil Nevin (LAA), Rocco Baldelli (MIN), Aaron Boone (NYY), Mark Kotsay (OAK), Scott Servais (SEA), Kevin Cash (TB), Bruce Bochy (TEX)
- NHL (20 of 32): Dallas Eakins (ANA), Jim Montgomery (BOS), Darryl Sutter (CGY), Rod Brind'Amour (CAR), Luke Richardson (CHI), Brad Larsen (CBJ), Todd McLellan (LA), Dean Evason (MIN), Martin St. Louis (MTL), Lindy Ruff (NJ), Lane Lambert (NYI), Gerard Gallant (NYR), D.J. Smith (OTT), Mike Sullivan (PIT), Craig Berube (STL), Sheldon Keefe (TOR), Bruce Boudreau (VAN), Bruce Cassidy (VGK), Peter Laviolette (WSH), Rick Bowness (WPG)
- NBA (12 of 30): Vaughn (BKN), Nate McMillan (ATL), Billy Donovan (CHI), Jason Kidd (DAL), Steve Kerr (GSW), Rick Carlisle (IND), Tyronn Lue (LAC), Darvin Ham (LAL), Willie Green (NO), Doc Rivers (PHI), Monty Williams (PHX), Chauncey Billups (POR)
- NFL (8 of 32): Kliff Kingsbury (ARI), Dan Campbell (DET), Jeff Saturday (IND), Doug Pederson (PHI), Kevin O'Connell (MIN), Todd Bowles (TB), Mike Vrabel (TEN), Ron Rivera (WAS).
6. ⛳️ Bernhard Langer's still got it
Bernhard Langer, 65, won his 44th career PGA Tour Champions event last weekend in Florida.
Why it matters: Langer broke his own record as the oldest winner on golf's 50-and-over circuit and is now one win shy of tying Hale Irwin for the most wins ever on the tour.
- He'll get the chance to tie Irwin this weekend at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix, the season's final event.
The backdrop: The German's PGA Tour career wasn't so bad, either. He's a two-time major champion (Masters in '85 and '93), and in 1986 he became the first official world No. 1 after the creation of the OWGR.
Wild stat: In 1987, at age 30, Langer's average driving distance was 260.3 yards. This year, thanks to advancements in club technology, it's 272.4 yards — 12 yards farther than in his prime.
7. ⚽️ In photos: World Cup fan village
Qatar unveiled a 6,000-cabin fan village on Wednesday, where for $200/night — or $270 with board — you can stay in a shipping container near the airport in Doha.
8. 📺 Watchlist: The NFL's German debut
Because we're off tomorrow, today's watchlist will preview the long weekend.
The Buccaneers face the Seahawks on Sunday (9:30am ET, NFL) in the NFL's first-ever regular-season game in Germany.
- Ticket demand: The NFL says it got 3 million ticket requests for the game. Only 67,000 can attend.
- Stadium: Allianz Arena (Bayern Munich's home) — Germany's second-largest stadium behind Dortmund's Westalenstadion — began renovations for its first NFL game five months ago.
More to watch:
- 🏈 NFL: Falcons at Panthers (Thu. 8:15pm, Prime); (Sun. 9:30am, NFL); Vikings at Bills (Sun. 1pm, Fox); Chargers at 49ers (Sun. 8:20pm, NBC)
- 🏈 CFB: No. 9 Alabama at No. 11 Ole Miss (Sat. 3:30pm, CBS); No. 22 UCF at No. 17 Tulane (Sat. 3:30pm, ESPN2); No. 25 Washington at No. 6 Oregon (Sat. 7pm, Fox); No. 4 TCU at No. 18 Texas (Sat. 7:30pm, ABC)
- 🏀 NBA: 76ers at Hawks (Thu. 7:30pm, NBA); Nuggets at Celtics (Fri. 7pm, NBA); Timberwolves at Grizzlies (Fri. 9:30pm, ESPN); Rockets at Pelicans (Sat. 8:30pm, NBA); Nets at Lakers (Sun. 9:30pm, NBA)
- 🏒 NHL: Lightning at Capitals (Fri. 7pm, NHL); Senators at Flyers (Sat. 1pm, NHL); Penguins at Canadiens (Sat. 7pm, NHL); Stars at Flyers (Sun. 1pm, NHL); Capitals at Lightning (Sun. 7pm, ESPN)
- ⚽️ Friendly: USWNT vs. Germany (Thu. 7pm, FS1; Sun. 5pm, ESPN)
- 🏀 NCAAM: Michigan State vs. No. 2 Gonzaga on an aircraft carrier (Fri. 6:30pm, ESPN); Stanford vs. Wisconsin at the Brewers' American Family Field (Fri. 7:30pm, FS1)
- 🏀 NCAAW: No. 1 South Carolina at No. 17 Maryland (Fri. 6pm, ESPN2)
- ⚽️ Premier League: Tottenham vs. Leeds (Sat. 10am, Peacock); Newcastle vs. Chelsea (Sat. 12:30pm, NBC); Fulham vs. Man United (Sun. 11:30am, USA)
- 🏁 F1: Brazilian Grand Prix (Sun. 1pm, ESPN) … Penultimate race of the season.
- 🥊 UFC: Israel Adesanya (23-1) vs. Alex Pereira (6-1) (Sat. 10pm, ESPN+ PPV)
- ⛳️ Golf: Pelican Women's Championship, LPGA; Houston Open, PGA; Charles Schwab Cup Championship, Champions (all Thu.-Sun. Golf)
9. 🏀 NBA trivia
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown on Wednesday scored 30+ points in the same game for the 15th time, the third-most by any pair of teammates over the last 30 seasons.
- Question: Which two pairs did it more?
- Hint: One pair is still active, but no longer teammates.
Answer at the bottom.
10. ☑️ 1 Twitter thing: Verification chaos
Twitter's new paid verification feature rolled out on Wednesday, causing chaos as verified accounts impersonating sports figures flooded users' timelines.
Some examples: "Adam Schefter" said the Raiders fired head coach Josh McDaniels, "LeBron James" requested a trade and "Aroldis Chapman" announced he'd re-signed with the Yankees.
Enjoy the long weekend!
Jeff "Actually verified" Tracy
Trivia answer: Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant (Thunder); Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant (Lakers)
- Correction: Wednesday's trivia question about UCLA being the only school to produce a World Series MVP, Super Bowl MVP and NBA Finals MVP should have also included Bill Walton as an answer (1977 NBA Finals MVP).
🙏 Have a great day! Follow us for more (@kendallbaker and @jeffreytracy). Friends can sign up here. Thanks to Nick Aspinwall for copy edits.