Jun 17, 2020

Axios Sports

By Kendall Baker
Kendall Baker

๐Ÿ‘‹ Good morning! Lots to cover this morning. Buckle up and enjoy.

Today's word count: 2,283 words (9 minutes).

1 big thing: ๐Ÿ€ NBA details Disney World plan

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

In a document sent to players on Tuesday, the NBA provided a detailed look at what life will be like when play resumes inside the league's "bubble" at Walt Disney World in Florida next month.

Key dates:

  • June 22: Deadline for players to report to home cities (Toronto Raptors will report to Florida Gulf Coast University).
  • June 23โ€“30: Players begin being tested for COVID-19 every other day.
  • June 24: Deadline for players to inform their teams whether they plan to participate in the return-to-play plan.
  • July 1โ€“11: Mandatory individual workouts at team facilities.
  • July 7โ€“21: Teams travel to Disney World. Once they arrive, they will self-isolate in hotel rooms for up to 48 hours until they have two negative tests.
  • July 22โ€“29: Teams play three scrimmages against other teams staying in the same hotel.
  • July 31โ€“Oct. 13: The games begin. Once the first round of the playoffs ends, each of the remaining eight teams can reserve 15-17 hotel rooms for guests.

Players will be tested for COVID-19 "regularly." When someone tests positive, they will be placed in isolation, where they will remain for at least 14 days. Once they test negative twice in a span of more than 24 hours, they can leave isolation.

  • The NBA will use video technology to help with contact tracing. Anyone who was within six feet of someone who tested positive for at least 15 minutes or had "direct contact with infectious secretions and excretions" (i.e. was coughed on) will be considered a "close contact" and also be tested.

More details:

  • Smart rings: Players and staff will have the option to use wearable rings that track temperature, heart rate, respiration rate and other variables. They also display an "illness probability score."
  • Masks: Mask usage is required indoors except when eating or when in an individual's room. During games, players, referees, bench players and coaches in the first row of seating will not be required to wear masks.
  • Anonymous hotline: The NBA will establish an anonymous hotline to report violations, with discipline ranging from fines to suspensions to removal from campus.
  • Precautions: Players will be told to not spit or clear their noses, wipe the ball with their jerseys, lick their hands or touch their mouths unnecessarily while playing.
Screenshot: Magic Guides

Teams will stay at three resorts based on seeding, and each team will have a travel party of 37 people, consisting of 15โ€“17 players, 18โ€“20 support staff, a PR official and a "content creator."

  • Grand Destino Tower at Coronado Springs (green circle above): Bucks, Lakers, Raptors, Clippers, Celtics, Nuggets, Jazz, Heat. Take a tour.
  • Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (blue circle): Thunder, 76ers, Rockets, Pacers, Mavericks, Nets, Grizzlies, Magic. Take a tour.
  • Yacht Club Resort (red circle): Trail Blazers, Kings, Pelicans, Spurs, Suns, Wizards. Take a tour.

More details:

  • Amenities: 24-hour VIP concierge, players-only lounge (TVs, gaming, card tables, ping pong), mental health services, pools, barbers, manicurists, yoga, meditation.
  • Food: Each team will have a dedicated Disney culinary team and players will get "three freshly-prepared meals a day, and four meals a day on game days."
  • Entertainment: Movie screenings (including unreleased Disney movies like "Black Widow") and other daily entertainment will be provided, and teams will eventually be able to visit isolated restaurants, golf courses and more.

Games will be held in three arenas at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (yellow circle above). A limited number of players can attend games they're not playing in, and there will be limited media, team executives, league employees and even sponsors allowed in.

Game day schedule (7pm ET game), per The Athletic's Shams Charania:

  • Morning: Breakfast at hotel; Shootaround at practice facility (seven locations throughout park).
  • Afternoon: Post-shootaround lunch at hotel, downtime at hotel.
  • Pre-game: Drive to Wide World of Sports (4:30pm); Warmup on non-game court (5โ€“6:15pm); Meeting in locker room (6:15โ€“6:40pm); Warmup on game court (6:40โ€“7pm).
  • Post-game: Team meeting (9:40โ€“9:50pm); Media availability (9:50โ€“10:20pm); Drive to hotel (10:25โ€“10:40); Showers and meal (11pm).

My take: My brain hurts just imagining all of these moving parts. If this is what's required to resume the NBA season, how exactly do college football programs think they're going to play this fall?

Go deeper:

2. โšฝ๏ธ The Premier League is back
Data: Premier League; Note: Manchester City facing two-year Champions League ban; Table: Axios Visuals

The English Premier League resumes play today following a 100-day absence, with Aston Villa and Sheffield United squaring off behind closed doors at Villa Park.

  • Aston Villa sits in 19th place in the standings and desperately needs every point it can pick up the rest of the way to avoid being relegated.
  • Sheffield United is in a battle with five other clubs โ€” including heavyweights Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal โ€” to determine who qualifies for European cup competition in 2020-21.

The state of play: "Sheffield at Villa is emblematic of so many of the Premier League's 92 remaining matches," writes FiveThirtyEight's Terrence Doyle.

  • "Most of the division's 20 clubs have just nine matches left to contest, and most have something โ€” whether a relegation scrap or a European dream โ€” left to play for."
  • "At the moment, eight points separate fourth-place Chelsea from ninth-place Arsenal; eight points also separate 15th-place Brighton and Hove Albion from 20th-place Norwich City."

What they're saying:

"Barely a day will pass before the end of July when there is no soccer at all in England. All of it will be televised. Some of it, for the first time in 32 years, will even be broadcast free-to-air, on the BBC.
"But while the saturation coverage illustrates the scale of the demand, it is through its absence that we have been able to see just to what extent soccer ... has become England's overwhelming obsession, its driving cultural force."
โ€” Rory Smith, NYT

Go deeper: 14 things to remember about the Premier League so far (ESPN)

3. โšพ๏ธ For Royals, doing good means doing well

Royals general manager Dayton Moore. Photo: Ed Zurga/Getty Images

The Kansas City Royals have already made a big splash in the undrafted free agent market, signing six players since the window opened on Sunday, including two of the top 20 undrafted seniors and four of the top five players signed in the first 24 hours, Axios' Jeff Tracy writes.

Why it matters: They were able to accomplish this in part by treating their existing players well during the pandemic, news of which reached these prospective draftees over a month ago.

The backdrop: With the pandemic leading to furloughs and budget cuts across all levels of baseball, most MLB teams slashed minor leaguers' stipends ($400 per player per week) or simply cut them outright as a way to save money.

  • Though some teams walked back original plans, simply floating the idea from the start was a bad look.
  • Meanwhile, Kansas City stood behind its players from the start, committing to making no cuts and paying all minor leaguers in full.

What they're saying:

  • Royals GM Dayton Moore in May: "Understand this โ€” the minor league players, the players you'll never know about ... have as much impact on the growth of our game [as] 10-year or 15-year veteran players. ... They're growing the game constantly because they're so passionate about it. So we felt it was really, really important ... to stand behind them."
  • New Royals signee Kale Emshoff on how that influenced his decision to sign with Kansas City: "You want to know that when you're in the organization you're going to be taken care of ... that plays a huge role in the decision-making process."

The bottom line: By sacrificing their bottom line in the short term, the Royals actually improved their standing going forward โ€” a lesson MLB could stand to learn right about now.

4. ๐Ÿ“Š By the numbers

Photo: M. Donato/FC Bayern via Getty Images

  • โšฝ๏ธ 8 straight titles: Bayern Munich clinched its eighth straight Bundesliga title on Tuesday, tying Juventus โ€” which can extend its streak to nine this season โ€” for the most consecutive titles in the history of Europe's top five leagues.
  • ๐Ÿˆ $140 million: Financiers Josh Harris and David Blitzer, who own the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils, have acquired a stake of less than 5% in the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bloomberg reports. Based on the team's estimated $2.8 billion valuation, they likely paid around $140 million.
  • ๐ŸŽ 6 whips: The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission passed a new rule Tuesday that would limit riders to six uses of the whip after the first furlong (1/8th mile). For reference, the jockey who rode American Pharoah to victory in the 2015 Kentucky Derby whipped the horse between 29 and 33 times.
5. โšพ๏ธ Ranking MLB's all-time rosters (No. 1)
Expand chart
Player data: Baseball Reference; Graphic: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

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 atย jeff@axios.com.

1. New York Yankees

Like it could be anyone else. Four of the 11 players who've won at least three MVPs are on this team, and Babe Ruth isn't even one of them, as his prime coincided with an era when previous winners were deemed ineligible. 27 rings and the highest winning percentage in baseball history doesn't hurt, either.

  • Year established: 1903 (as the New York Highlanders)
  • All-time record: 10,378-7,840 (.570)
  • World Series Championships: 27
  • Hall of Famers (indicated by *): 14

Starting lineup:

  1. SS Derek Jeter* (71.3 bWAR with team)
  2. OF Mickey Mantle* (110.2)
  3. 1B Lou Gehrig* (114.1)
  4. OF Babe Ruth* (142.8)
  5. OF Joe DiMaggio* (79.1)
  6. 3B Alex Rodriguez (54)
  7. 2B Robinson Canรณ (44.4)
  8. DH Don Mattingly (42.4)
  9. C Yogi Berra* (59.4)

On the mound: SP Whitey Ford* (57.1)


  • Infield: 2B Tony Lazzeri* (45.9), 3B Graig Nettles (44.4), SS Phil Rizzuto* (42), C Bill Dickey* (57.3)
  • Outfield: Bernie Williams (49.6), Charlie Keller (42.4), Earle Combs* (43.9)
  • Utility: Roger Maris (26.4), Jorge Posada (42.7)
  • Rotation: Red Ruffing* (56.7), Andy Pettite (50.8), Ron Guidry (47.8), CC Sabathia (29.3)
  • Bullpen: Mariano Rivera* (56.3), Dave Righetti (22.9), Goose Gossage* (18.6)

Additional notes:

  • Rivera holds the record for most saves (652) and games finished (952). He's also the only player to earn unanimous induction into the Hall of Fame.
  • Ruth has the highest lifetime slugging percentage (.690) and OPS (1.164).

ICYMI ... 30. Rays, 29. Royals, 28. Diamondbacks, 27. Blue Jays, 26. Angels, 25. Padres, 24. Rockies, 23. Brewers; 22. Nationals, 21. Mets, 20. Orioles, 19. Twins, 18. Astros, 17. Marlins, 16. White Sox, 15. Athletics, 14. Phillies, 13. Braves, 12. Pirates, 11. Mariners, 10. Rangers, 9. Cardinals, 8. Dodgers, 7. Indians, 6. Cubs, 5. Reds, 4. Tigers, 3. Giants, 2. Red Sox

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.

6. June 17, 1994: ๐Ÿš” The white Ford Bronco
Motorists stop and wave as police cars pursue the Ford Bronco. Photo: Jean-Marc Giboux/Liaison

26 years ago today, O.J. Simpson and his friend, Al Cowlings, led the LAPD on their infamous chase along Los Angeles' I-405 in Cowlings' white Ford Bronco.

Why it matters: The chase captivated the American public (its 95 million viewers were five million more than the Super Bowl that year), and it took place on a day that was hardly devoid of other notable sporting events.

A brief recap...

Mark Messier (sunglasses) and teammates at the Rangers ticker tape parade. Photo: Keith Torrie/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images
  • The New York Rangers, fresh off their fourth Stanley Cup championship, were parading through the Canyon of Heroes.
  • The New York Knicks, making their first NBA Finals appearance since winning it all in 1973, hosted the Houston Rockets in Game 5, as Patrick Ewing desperately pursued a long evasive championship in the Garden.
The 1994 World Cup Opening Ceremony. Photo: Chris Wilkins/AFP via Getty Images
  • The World Cup had its opening ceremony at Chicago's Soldier Field. Oprah emceed, Diana Ross performed and President Bill Clinton spoke before the opening game, a 1-0 victory by Germany over Bolivia, with future USMNT coach Jรผrgen Klinsmann scoring the lone goal.
  • Ken Griffey, Jr. hit his 30th HR of the season, becoming the first player since Babe Ruth to hit that many before the end of June. Elsewhere, MLBPA executive director Donald Fehr met with 55 players to discuss the owners' salary cap proposal โ€” a meeting that set in motion the events that led to the players' strike two months later.
Arnold Palmer tees off during the 1994 U.S. Open. Photo: J.D. Cuban/Allsport/Getty Images
  • 64-year-old Arnold Palmer, 21 years removed from his last PGA Tour victory, played the final U.S. Open round of his career in Oakmont, Pennsylvania.

๐ŸŽฅ Go deeper ... 30 for 30: "June 17, 1994" (ESPN)

7. ๐Ÿ“š Good reads
Photo: Craig Jones/ Allsport/Getty Images

๐Ÿ€ "Some Michael Jordan-type s**t": An oral history of Vince Carter's UNC days (Brendan Marks, The Athletic)

Antawn Jamison: "I've never sat with Vince and he's eaten in under an hour. He's probably got one of the worst appetites I've seen โ€” and I played with Shaq."

๐ŸŸ We hope your cheers for this article are for real (Andrew Keh, NYT)

"Most sporting events coming back in the pandemic have not permitted fans, leading broadcasters to use fake crowd noise, for better or worse."

๐Ÿ˜ท "Hydrate and sanitize!" That's the call as high school sports return in Iowa (Elizabeth Merrill, ESPN)

"The hopeful eyes of America's coaches, athletes and school administrators will be watching Iowa this summer as it navigates the first sanctioned high school season during the coronavirus pandemic."
8. The Ocho: ๐Ÿ Bossaball
Source: Bossaball International (YouTube)

Bossaball originated in Spain in 2005, when Belgian expat Filip Eyckmans formalized an idea that had been percolating since his trips to Brazil in the '90s, Jeff writes.

  • On the beaches of Brazil, he fell in love with the way dance, soccer, volleyball and music all fused together to form an overall feeling of "positive vibrations."
  • Bossa is Brazilian Portuguese for style, attitude and flair (a la bossa nova, the samba-influenced Brazilian musical genre), and that's exactly the vibe Eyckmans was aiming for.
  • With that in mind, he came up with a new sport that combined all those elements into one.

How it works: The court is essentially an inflatable volleyball court with a trampoline in the middle of each side, and games are played four on four.

  • Each team gets five touches, which must be a combination of volleys (with the hands) and soccer touches (any other body part), as one attacker in the middle uses the trampoline to prepare for a spike.
  • More points are scored if the ball hits your opponent's trampoline than the outer court, and more are awarded for a soccer-spike than a volley.
  • Music is integral to the atmosphere. Though it doesn't affect gameplay, each game's judge is called a "samba referee," who's responsible for not only making calls, but emceeing and DJ'ing the event.

๐ŸŽฅ Watch: 2013 World Cup highlights (YouTube)

9. ๐ŸŽฎ Madden trivia
Courtesy: EA Sports

Lamar Jackson was revealed as the "Madden 21" cover athlete on Tuesday, becoming the fifth AFC North player to earn that honor this century.

  • Question: Can you name the other four players?
  • Hint: WR, RB, LB, S.

Answer at the bottom.

10. โค๏ธ Why we love sports

Fans lined up outside Comiskey Park before Game 1 of the 1959 World Series. Barry, where you at? Photo: Bettmann Archives/Getty Images

Barry Z. (Chicago) writes:

"My dad and I were a study in contrasts, but despite that we were blessed with a close and loving relationship. Many of our best times together involved Chicago sports, which I regarded as part of our special bond.
"The game I remember most is the one I almost didn't attend. In September, 1959, there was great excitement in Chicagoland as the White Sox had become AL champs. The evening before the first game of the World Series, my dad surprised me with two tickets.
"Now, I don't want to be too hard on myself, so let me just say that I was a fussy child. I told him I didn't think I could be absent from school; 4th grade had just started and I was afraid I'd miss something important. My dad said he understood, and we left it at that.
"The next morning, I'm sitting in class when there's knock at the door. My teacher opens it and there's my dad dressed in a coat and tie, trench coat, and a felt hat, as was typical in those days. After a brief conversation, my teacher comes over and tells me it's fine, I won't miss anything, and that I'm going to the World Series.
"As my dad and I are walking down the stairs, I asked him what he said to my teacher. He looked down at me, and kindly, directly, and probably not realizing what a profound statement he was about to make, said, 'I told her you'd have to become a genius a day later.'
"So, instead of sitting in math class, I was at the World Series with my dad, watching Early Wynn pitch seven shutout innings, Ted Kluszewski hit two monster home runs, and the Sox beat the Dodgers, 11-0.
"Sports continued to bring us together throughout our lives. I don't think my dad ever missed a game of mine from my youth through high school, and after I graduated college, we played golf once a week. I even had the privilege of returning the favor by taking him, and my son, to a World Series game.
"Toward the end of his life, the hospital called to tell me that I should come as soon as possible. As sad as I was that I didn't get there in time to say goodbye, it was a comfort to see that the TV was on โ€” and that he'd been watching a baseball game."
Barry and his father, Hank. Courtesy: Barry Z.

โœ๏ธ 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 Baker

Talk tomorrow,

Kendall "Now a Royals fan" Baker

Trivia answer: Antonio Brown (2019), Peyton Hillis (2011), Troy Polamalu (2009), Ray Lewis (2005)