👋 Good morning! Let's sports.
Word count: 1,561 words (6 minutes).
Photo: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images
Future Hall of Fame TE Rob Gronkowski, who left the NFL after the 2018 season but didn't officially retire, has been traded by the Patriots to the Buccaneers, where he will be reunited with longtime QB and close friend Tom Brady.
The big picture: Gronk's decision to unretire and join Tom in Tampa Bay isn't all that shocking. After all, he quit football at the unusually young age of 29, spent the last year half-teasing at a return and has always said he never wants to play with another QB.
Between the lines: Before you start roasting the nearest Patriots fan, understand one thing: this is ultimately a gift.
In other words ... Belichick just turned a wrestler into a fourth-round pick, two days before the Patriots' most important draft in decades. Bill, your thoughts?
Go deeper: The top 10 NFL QB-pass catching duos of the 21st century (The Ringer)
Gronk saved his greatest Patriots moment for last, making six catches for 87 yards in Super Bowl LII against the Rams and hauling in a 29-yard reception in the fourth quarter to set up the go-ahead TD.
President Trump has spoken regularly about the return of sports. But in Canada, where large gatherings have been banned through August in much of the country, there's less urgency to bring them back.
Why it matters: Canada is home to 12 franchises that are part of North America's five major sports leagues, all of whom are currently weighing how and when to resume play.
Driving the news: Representatives from all four leagues said they have "open lines of communication" with Canadian officials, but that serious discussions about holding games in Canada have yet to occur, per NYT.
What to watch: Leagues have considered playing games in one centralized location without fans, an idea Anthony Fauci supports and one that would remove any Canadian obstacles.
The Louisville Slugger factory — the oldest bat manufacturer in the world — has temporarily closed due to COVID-19, with 90% of its staff being furloughed and all remaining employees taking a 25% pay cut, Axios' Jeff Tracy writes.
By the numbers: The factory produces 1.8 million wood bats annually, with pros ordering between 100–120 each season. According to the company, 80% of all batters in the Hall of Fame were under contract with Louisville Slugger.
The origin story: In 1884, 17-year-old Bud Hillerich took a day off work from his father's wood shop to catch a Louisville Eclipse game — the city's major league team.
The big picture: For decades, just about everyone used Louisville Sluggers. Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, Ken Griffey Jr., Derek Jeter, to name a select and elite few.
The state of play: New contenders often enter an established space to shake things up, and Marucci Sports — which owns both the Marucci and Victus brands — is no different.
The bottom line: Louisville Slugger is still the official bat of Major League Baseball, but unlike all uniforms being made by Nike, or all balls being made by Rawlings (which, by the way, MLB owns), players can choose their bat-maker.
Photos from Mexico City...
"It's the mathematical potential for a single game to last forever, in a suspended world where no clock rules the day, that aligns baseball as much with the dead as the living."— Columnist Bill Vaughn
"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."— Playwright George Bernard Shaw
"You are never really playing an opponent. You are playing yourself, your own highest standards, and when you reach your limits, that is real joy."— Tennis legend Arthur Ashe
More photos from Mexico City because they're just too good...
"Somewhere behind the athlete you've become, and the hours of practice, and the coaches who have pushed you, is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back. Play for her."— USWNT star Mia Hamm
"The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct."— Renowned psychologist Carl Jung
"Sports do not build character. They reveal it."— UCLA coach John Wooden
114 years ago today, the 1906 Intercalated Olympic Games got underway in Athens, Greece.
Background: The modern Olympics launched in 1896 in Athens, and bolstered by their success, Greece wanted to permanently host the games.
The big picture: While the IOC no longer recognizes the Intercalated Games as an official Olympics, the events of 1906 live on. The Opening and Closing Ceremonies were introduced that year, as was the Olympic Village and the tradition of raising each winner's national flag.
The bottom line: Though Athens wouldn't host again until 2004, if not for these forgotten games of 1906, the Olympics' flame may have extinguished long ago.
Colin Cowherd named his top 10 NFL players yesterday, and it's a strange list. Probably because it was designed in a lab to stoke debate on Twitter and get that sweet, sweet social media engagement. Anyway, here are our top 10 lists.
Kendall's top 10 list:
Jeff's top 10 list:
Mexican Lucha Libre wrestler, "El Hijo del Soberano" making themed protective face masks in a studio in Torreón, Mexico.
🎥 Watch: "Nacho Libre" trailer (YouTube)
The Mariners — who went 18 years without reaching the playoffs before breaking through in 1995 — are mired in yet another 18-year drought, the longest active streak in the majors.
Answer at the bottom.
Craig S. (New York) writes:
"Any kid growing up in the New York area in 1986 will tell you, there was nothing quite like the '86 Mets. The team captivated the whole area and everyone had their favorite players. Doc, Straw, Gary The Kid, Hojo, the list went on.
"I remember ripping open packs of Topps cards, trying to find as many Mets as I could. I remember playing sandlot ball with my friends and pretending we were Lenny Dykstra and Ray Knight. I remember the joy I felt when my mom bought me a Mets T-shirt with Gary Carter's name and number on the back.
"One day, my uncle called to invite us to a game at Shea Stadium. He was going to be part of a ceremony celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Mets, so he had gotten us tickets. When the day finally arrived, I put on my Carter shirt, my sister put on her pink Mets shirt, and we were off.
"When we arrived at the ballpark, the usher led us lower and lower until I realized my uncle had gotten us front row seats right behind the Mets dugout. I had never seen these larger-than-life legends that close up. I was so excited!
"After the pregame ceremony, my uncle walked over to my sister and I and put his arms out. 'Come on,' he said. We weren't sure what was happening, but the next thing we knew he lifted us both over the railing and onto the field.
"He walked us over to Keith Hernandez who shook our hands and signed our baseballs, and then we were introduced to each player one by one. At that moment, I could not think of anything more exciting that could ever happen to me in my entire life.
"I was never that close with my uncle, who passed away years later, but he gave me and my sister a day we'll never forget. So why are sports important? Sports create memories. And memories are what make life great."
✍️ 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 all month.
Kendall "Good boy, Leroy" Baker
Trivia answer: Marlins (16), Padres (13), White Sox (11), Phillies (8)