👋 Good morning! Let's sports.
Today's word count: 1,198 (~4 mins)
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
Earlier this week, Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis unveiled a reimagined front-office structure called Monumental Basketball.
What's new: Instead of going the traditional route and hiring one Wizards general manager, Leonsis hired three additional people with vastly different backgrounds to serve as peers — each with distinct areas of focus.
The brain trust:
The big picture: Monumental Basketball gives off the impression of a forward-thinking vision. Whether it will actually produce results remains to be seen, but in the interim, I do think it points to two larger trends in both sports and society.
1. A commitment to diversity: "The only way you can get [a] competitive advantage is to try to get that added value from diversity," Leonsis told USA Today's Jeff Zillgitt.
2. A desire for fresh, new ideas: During his time in Cleveland, Sashi Brown worked alongside Paul DePodesta, a longtime baseball executive of "Moneyball" fame who is now the Browns' chief strategy officer.
Madison Bumgarner once seemed destined to be traded. Now it looks like the surging Giants might keep him. Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Four months ago, Major League Baseball announced that it was eliminating the Aug. 31 waiver deadline, which had essentially allowed teams to make trades for a whole month after the initial July 31 trade deadline (in short, it made no sense).
What's happening: More teams than usual feel like they have a glimmer of hope this season, which has blurred the line between "buyers" (contending teams looking to improve) and "sellers" (non-contending teams looking to sell off assets).
The bottom line: "The lack of clear sellers has emboldened them to ask for strong returns. Buyers are waiting for prices to come down, fearful of overpaying," writes ESPN's Jeff Passan.
Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Last weekend's British Open marked an earlier-than-usual conclusion to golf's major championship season, which saw the PGA Championship move from August to May this year.
Why it matters: The schedule change was a business decision by the PGA Tour to ensure that the FedEx Cup playoffs wrapped up before the start of the NFL season. (It's hard to maintain viewership once football comes back, ya know?)
What they're saying: So far, players aren't loving the major-a-month schedule, which feels "too condensed," Justin Rose told WSJ (subscription).
"I really do think it's going to take everybody two to three years to find their groove. Before this year, I would say you could probably get 40 or 50 guys in a room and they could tell you their schedule before the season even started."— Justin Thomas, the 2017 PGA champion, tells WSJ
P.S. ... Next year will bring another twist, with many players expected to compete in the Olympics.
Kevin Byard. Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Kevin Byard has agreed to a five-year, $70.5 million deal with the Titans, making him the highest-paid safety in NFL history.
Go deeper: Here are the top earners by average annual value (AAV) at every position, per Spotrac:
QB: Russell Wilson, Seahawks ($35m AAV)
RB: Todd Gurley, Rams ($14.4m)
WR: Odell Beckham Jr., Browns ($18m)
TE: Jimmy Graham, Packers ($10m)
OL: Trent Brown, Raiders ($16.5m)
DL: Aaron Donald, Rams ($22.5m)
LB: Khalil Mack, Bears ($23.5m)
CB: Xavien Howard, Dolphins ($15.1m)
S: Kevin Byard, Titans ($14.1m)
Photo: Dimitri Iundt/VCG via Getty Images
27 years ago today, the 25th Olympic Games opened up in Barcelona, featuring 169 countries participating in 257 events across 25 sports.
The highlight: The IOC allowed NBA players to participate for the first time, leading to the creation of the "Dream Team." The superstar-laden squad destroyed opponents by an average of 44 points and quickly became a global sensation.
"I look to my right, there's Michael Jordan. I look to my left, there's Charles Barkley or Larry Bird. I didn't know who to throw the ball to."— Magic Johnson, per the Chicago Sun Times
Gleyber Torres is the third player in Yankees history with multiple 20-homer seasons through their age-22 campaigns.
Answer at the bottom.
According to the Air Hockey Players Association, there are 24 professional air hockey players in the world, and just 10 of them are considered "masters."
P.S. ... A few years ago, 17-year-old Colin Cummings became the youngest air hockey champion ever.
See you tomorrow,
Kendall "Almost Friday" Baker
Trivia answer: Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio (played together in 1951)