👋 Good morning! Let's sports.
Today's word count: 1,996 words (8 minutes).
Photo: Quality Sport Images/Getty Images
The USWNT's claim that they had long been underpaid was rejected by a federal judge on Friday, after the players accused the U.S. Soccer Federation of "institutionalized gender discrimination" last year.
Driving the news: In a written decision, Judge R. Gary Klausner said the women hadn't provided enough evidence of pay discrimination to take the issue to the scheduled June 16 trial.
The other side: In an appearance on "Good Morning America" on Monday, USWNT captain Megan Rapinoe said the women were never offered the same contract as the men, undercutting Judge Klausner's dismissal.
What's next: The team is appealing the decision. The case is still scheduled to go to trial on June 16, albeit with a narrower focus (i.e. unequal treatment regarding travel) that falls short of the "equal pay" precedent the players hoped for.
"We are shocked and disappointed ... but we will not give up our hard work for equal pay. We are confident in our case and steadfast in our commitment to ensuring that girls and women will not be valued as lesser just because of their gender."— Molly Levinson, USWNT spokeswoman
The big picture: "U.S. Soccer has said that compensating the women at the level they demand would be ruinously expensive," writes the New Yorker's Louisa Thomas (for reference, they're seeking ~$67 million in back pay).
Over 20% of the average monthly cable bill in the U.S. goes towards sports, and ESPN alone generates $7.89 per subscriber, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence.
Driving the news: The attorney general of New York last week demanded cable and satellite operators (i.e. Comcast, AT&T) stop charging customers for live sports, since they're not providing that service.
The state of play: While a growing number of people are cutting the cord, more than 80 million households still have cable or satellite, meaning a quarter of the American population is paying for sports networks that consist mainly of re-runs and documentaries.
The bottom line: "[T]he longer we don't have sports, the more pressure will be placed on leagues, networks and operators," writes Bloomberg's Lucas Shaw.
Photo: Focus on Sport/Getty Images
Don Shula, the NFL's winningest coach who led the Dolphins to the league's only perfect season, died on Monday in Florida. He was 90.
The big picture: "Shula's career embodied the transition from an era of grind-it-out football to the high-flying modern one of glitzy entertainment and glamour," writes NYT's Ken Belson.
🎥 Watch ... Don Shula: A Football Life (YouTube)
In December, USA Today published an investigation called "Predator Pipeline" that examined how NCAA athletes move from school to school and continue to play sports even after being found responsible for sexual assault.
In related news ... Full list: 2020 Pulitzer Prize winners for journalism (Axios)
We're ranking the all-time rosters for all 30 MLB teams — from the weakest starting lineup to the strongest. Note: Rosters based only on time spent with this specific team.
Jeff Tracy writes: I like the Royals. George Brett's an inner-circle Hall of Famer (No. 35 on The Athletic's Top-100 all-time), the bullpen is strong and the defense for this team would be stout. Still, you can't score if you can't hit, and there are just too many easy outs in this lineup.
On the mound: SP Bret Saberhagen (40.7)
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: Jerry Cooke/Corbis via Getty Images
47 years ago today, Secretariat, jockeyed by Ron Turcotte, won the 99th running of the Kentucky Derby (watch the race).
The big picture: In most competitions that require speed or power, technological innovations in training or equipment make it difficult for records to last long. Track and field's oldest world record is in the women's 800 meter race (1983), while no swimming record is more than 12 years old.
The bottom line: It's hard to argue with Secretariat's legendary 1973 season standing near the top of the list of greatest seasons ever. As it turns out, there was a reason for his utter dominance: Heart.
"The heart of the average horse weighs about nine pounds. This was almost twice the average size, and a third larger than any equine heart I'd ever seen. And it wasn't pathologically enlarged. All the chambers and the valves were normal. It was just larger. I think it told us why he was able to do what he did."— Thomas Swerczek, the vet who did Secretariat's autopsy
Go deeper: The thrilling life and emotional death of Secretariat (SI)
🏈 When Peyton Manning speaks, the NFL listens (Kalyn Kahler, B/R)
"He's been sought by teams he once beat since before he retired and chased by networks since he did, and though he doesn't have a formal job in the game, few have more sway in football than No. 18."
🏀 Shooting, for the stars, is not as easy as you'd think (Marc Stein & Scott Cacciola, NYT)
"Many players say they have gone weeks without playing because they don't have a basketball hoop at home and the pandemic has cut off their access to a gym. ... The Washington Wizards and Dallas Mavericks said only two of their 17 players initially had access to a basket."
⚾️ How the internet created a sports-card boom — and why the pandemic is fueling it (Emma Baccellieri, SI)
"Take one part American pastime, add a twist of gambling, and then a global health crisis: Hours-long livestreams of people opening packs of sports cards had already become popular enough to save the sports card business, but now, interest is surging to a new level."
Yesterday was May the 4th, aka. "Star Wars Day." Some photos to honor the occasion...
Darth Vader throws out the ceremonial pitch before a 2014 Rangers game in Arlington, Texas. "Luke, I am your middle reliever."
The Houston Rockets Power Dancers perform wearing stormtrooper costumes during Star Wars night in 2017.
A competitor dressed as a stormtrooper pushes himself to the limit during the 2011 Tough Guy Challenge on farmland in Perton, England.
Four MLB players have had at least three 30 HR/30 SB seasons. None of them are in the Hall of Fame.
Answer at the bottom.
Veterans Stadium in 1996. Photo: MLB via Getty Images
Philip F. (Lake Placid, N.Y.) writes:
"My first visit to Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium was in 1974. I was in awe of the earth-tone colored seats, the sparkling green Astroturf and the roar of the crowd. I was hooked.
"Even though I grew up in upstate New York, I talked my dad into taking me to the Vet once every summer, and those weekends became our special time together. He'd drive the 200 or so miles each way without complaint, while I filled his mind with statistics and useless trivia about the Phillies."
"The late 70's were a great time to be a Phillies fan. We'd watch the playoff games on TV and we were together in 1980 when Tug McGraw leapt off the mound to celebrate the first championship in Phillies history. Ironically, that was about the time we stopped going to games, as I went off to college.
"In 2003, my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I knew the odds and they were not good. I'd read the Phillies were getting a new stadium and the Vet would be closing. I knew we needed to go to one last game.
"My dad was living in Maryland by that time, so I met him there. We set out for the game, just like old times, but this time I drove.
"When we walked into the Vet for the first time in over two decades, the familiar smells descended upon us and I swear the PA announcer was the same guy. For an afternoon, the pain of cancer and the uncertainty of life were a distant matter.
"Baseball may just be a game, but over the years, I've learned that it can also provide a remembrance of the carefree days of my youth, and the important time I spent with my dad. That afternoon, it did.
"As we left the Vet and headed back to the car, I turned and took one final look. The place had been the site of so many special moments in our lives, but none, I knew, would be as special as the last."
✍️ 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.
Kendall "Please never stop submitting these stories" Baker
Trivia answer: Barry Bonds (5x — 1990, 1992, 1995, 1997); Bobby Bonds (5x — 1969, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1978); Alfonso Soriano (4x — 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006); Howard Johnson (3x — 1991, 1989, 1987)