Happy Friday, everyone! Congrats on (nearly) making it through another week.
It’s a big weekend ahead, highlighted by the Kentucky Derby. More on that in a minute, but I should let you know that SportsLine is where you should go to get the best gambling advice on the race.
OK, now let’s get to the news.
Good morning to everyone but especially to…
THE WNBA AND ALL OF ITS FANS…
Welcome back, WNBA! It’s so good to have you back with four games tonight and another five games over the weekend.
Our WNBA expert Jack Maloney has published his first Power Rankings of the season, and it’s no surprise who’s on top.
- Maloney: “The defending champion Sky have earned the right to start the season atop the Power Rankings. With nearly the entire championship core back in Chicago, and former Finals MVP Emma Meesseman in as a perfect reinforcement, they will have a chance to win it all again. The challenge for the Sky this season will be staying more consistent along the way.”
Here’s the full top five:
- 1. Sky
- 2. Storm
- 3. Sun
- 4. Aces
- 5. Mercury
I’ll be rooting on the Mystics, and I’m pumped for the return of Elena Delle Donne. The last time she was on the court at full strength was 2019, and you know how that year ended? With the Mystics winning the title. She’s far from the only impact player coming back this season, notes our Isabel Gonzalez. In fact, she’s not even the only former MVP making a return.
- Gonzalez: “Breanna Stewart — The 2021 WNBA Commissioner’s Cup MVP suffered an injury on Sept. 7 during the Storm’s 105-71 win against Washington. She underwent surgery for a minor repair and reinforcement of the Achilles tendon in her left leg, which led to her missing the last two games of that regular season and the postseason. It appears the offseason gave her more than enough time to recover. She had a solid performance on her first game back with 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting during Seattle’s 81-69 preseason win over the LA Sparks on April 23.”
We also have expert predictions for individual awards and title picks and five under-the-radar players for this season.
… AND ALSO A GOOD MORNING TO THE NEW YORK METS… AND SHOHEI OHTANI
Nights like last night are why they say it ain’t over ’til it’s over. The Mets scored seven runs in the ninth inning to beat the Phillies, 8-7. It’s the first time the Mets have won after being down six or more entering the ninth inning since 1997.
Here’s how it all went down:
- Francisco Lindor (two-run HR), Mark Canha (RBI single) and J.D. Davis (RBI double) cut the deficit to 7-5.
- Brandon Nimmo tied things up with a two-run single.
- Starling Marte — who started off the inning with a single ahead of Lindor’s home run — then doubled in Nimmo.
- Entering last night, the Mets had been 0-330 over the last 25 seasons when trailing by six-plus entering the ninth inning.
That wasn’t the only historically impressive feat on the diamond yesterday. Here are the last two players to bat fourth or earlier and start on the mound in the same game at Fenway Park:
- Babe Ruth in 1919
- Shohei Ohtani
Mind you, Ohtani didn’t just “bat fourth or earlier” and “start on the mound.” He struck out 11 and walked none and went 2-4 with an RBI and a run in an 8-0 Angels win. I hope we don’t lose track of not just how good Ohtani is, but how rare he is. As the above list shows, he’s a once-in-a-lifetime player. Let’s not take games like yesterday’s for granted.
- Last night’s NHL winners: Rangers, Panthers, Avalanche, Stars
- Marcus Smart seems likely to return for Game 3.
- Robert Covington got a contract extension from the Clippers.
- Emory Jones is headed to Arizona State.
And not such a good morning for…
Do you feel like there have been fewer home runs this season? You’re not alone… and you’re right. Teams are hitting just 0.90 home runs per game this season, on track to be the second-lowest rate this millennium. Why? MLB tinkered with the baseball… again.
Let our MLB reporters Mike Axisa and Dayn Perry explain:
- Axisa & Perry: “MLB wants more contact and more balls in play, and more action on the field in general. The thinking is that, by deadening the ball and making home runs harder to hit, batters will instead focus on contact. Sensible. The only problem is that adjustment can’t be made overnight, and now a bunch of would-be homers are becoming fly outs, and offense is down around the league. … This is best shown with barrels. … On this specific subset of batted balls — there are thousands of barrels around the league each year, so it’s not a small sample — batters are hitting the ball harder than ever and at the same launch angle, yet the ball is not traveling as far.”
Another explanation? The humidor is being used in all 30 ballparks.
This was a super smart and interesting piece — with plenty of numbers to back it up — and I encourage you to read it.
Not so honorable mentions
- Draymond Green owes the NBA money.
- Dillon Brooks was suspended for Game 3.
- It doesn’t look like Baker Mayfield is leaving Cleveland any time soon.
- Brad Marchand and Derek Forbort owe the NHL money.
It’s Derby weekend! Best bets and more for the 148th Run for the Roses 🏇
Happy Kentucky Derby weekend all! I’m certainly no horse racing expert, but I’ll be watching Saturday night (make sure you know how to do so, too).
Here are the post positions:
- 1. Mo Donegal
- 2. Happy Jack
- 3. Epicenter
- 4. Summer Is Tomorrow
- 5. Smile Happy
- 6. Messier
- 7. Crown Pride
- 8. Charge It
- 9. Tiz the Bomb
- 10. Zandon
- 11. Pioneer of Medina
- 12. Taiba
- 13. Simplification
- 14. Barber Road
- 15. White Abarrio
- 16. Cyberknife
- 17. Classic Causeway
- 18. Tawny Port
- 19. Zozos
- 20. Ethereal Road
Looking to make some money this weekend? Look no further than SportsLine, which has expert picks and formulas to help you find an edge. Reporter and analyst Michelle Yu — who nailed her Medina Spirit pick last year — has made her pick for this year. Jody Demling — who correctly picked six straight winners at one point in 2020 — has also made his pick.
Which NFL rookies will make an instant impact? 🏈
The best part about the NFL offseason is that hope springs eternal. Every early draft pick is a future star. Every late-round quarterback is potentially the next Tom Brady. Everyone is going to find a way to contribute to turning their team into a winner. It never turns out that way, of course, but how else are we going to fill the next four months?
Some rookies will make major immediate impacts. Just look at Micah Parsons and Ja’Marr Chase last season. So, who’s most likely to make an immediate impact this season? NFL expert Chris Trapasso compiled a list of 10 candidates, and a wide receiver takes the top spot.
- Trapasso: “Skyy Moore, WR, Chiefs — This was a pairing decided by the football cosmos. It will become a ‘well, it’s the rest of the NFL’s fault for letting Moore land in Kansas City’ type situation. He was the sixth wideout picked in the second round! How in tarnation did that happen? Moore’s film was riveting, he tested like a high-caliber athlete and doesn’t turn 22 until September. … Moore will, sooner than later, stand out as a Patrick Mahomes — and Andy Reid — favorite in the Chiefs’ already dynamic offense.”
One of my favorite prospects just missed out on the Top 10 and fell into the “Honorable Mention” category.
- Trapasso: “David Bell, WR, Browns — As a draft analyst who respects the way Bell changes speeds to get open because he’s not overly fast or explosive, I’d love to see him thrive in the NFL. Of course, speed does matter at receiver, but had Bell run a few tenths of a second faster at the combine or his pro day, he would’ve been a first-round receiver. Everything else about his game is tremendous.”
You can check out the full list here.
What we’re watching this weekend 📺
- We’re watching the NBA playoffs. Here’s how you can, too.
- We’re also watching the NHL playoffs. Here’s how you can, too.
🏀 Fever at Mystics, 7 p.m. on Facebook
🏀 Sparks at Sky, 8 p.m. on NBA TV
🏀 Aces at Mercury, 10 p.m. on NBA TV
⚾ Tigers at Astros, 4:05 p.m. on FS1
🏀 Sun at Liberty, 6 p.m. on ESPN
🏇 148th Kentucky Derby, 6:57 p.m. on NBC
⚾ White Sox at Red Sox, 11:35 a.m. on NBC
⚾ Dodgers at Cubs, 7 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Mystics at Lynx, 8 p.m. on ESPN2
🏀 Storm at Aces, 10 p.m. on ESPN2