👋 Good morning! One more sleep until the NFL returns. We'll have a full season preview for you tomorrow.
— Kendall Baker, Jeff Tracy
🇪🇸 Vilda fired: The Spanish soccer federation has fired women's head coach Jorge Vilda, the latest in the ongoing scandal stemming from a controversial kiss during last month's World Cup trophy celebration.
⚾️ 400 dingers: Three days after Aaron Judge became the fastest player to 250 homers, his teammate Giancarlo Stanton became the fourth-fastest to 400, trailing Mark McGwire, Babe Ruth and Alex Rodriguez.
👽 Aaron's UFO story: On the season finale of "Hard Knocks," Aaron Rodgers shared a story about the time he saw a UFO in 2005. "It was like a scene out of 'Independence Day' ... We just stood there in disbelief."
🔥 Altuve's on fire: Coming off a two-homer game on Monday, José Altuve hit three more (in the first three innings!) on Tuesday to lift the Astros past the Rangers.
CABLE VS. ESPN
Are we in the middle of the war to end all wars when it comes to streaming vs. cable? That depends on the outcome of the game of chicken currently being played by Disney and Charter, Yahoo's Jay Hart writes.
Since last Thursday, Disney channels have been unavailable on Charter Spectrum cable systems, leaving 15 million households — which represent about 20% of all cable subscribers — without ESPN.
If an agreement isn't reached this week, those 15 million households won't be able to watch No. 4 Alabama vs. No. 11 Texas on Saturday night, the final weekend of the US Open, or Aaron Rodgers' Jets debut on Monday Night Football.
The latest issue is this: In an effort to offset cord-cutting losses (which is already impacting Disney-owned ESPN somewhere between $2-3 billion annually), Disney has turned to a premium subscription model: ESPN+.
The "plus" version may not be the bulk of ESPN's business now, but it will be in the future, and in order to build up that subscription base, ESPN is putting more and more quality content behind its own paywall.
Charter doesn't like that. If it's going to pay the $2 billion annual price tag Disney wants in exchange for its collection of networks, then Charter wants to give its subscribers access to Disney's premium content, i.e. all the +s (ESPN, Disney, etc).
How ESPN lost its leverage: ESPN has forever been able to bully cable providers into ponying up whatever it asks for. People can't live without sports, the thought process went.
Well, that was partly true. Some people can't live without sports. But a lot of people can, and when a solid alternative arrived (Netflix, Prime, etc.) they cut the cord and never looked back.
This is the existential crisis ESPN is facing. Non-sports fans no longer have to foot a bill they never wanted to in the first place but were forced to pay, because where else were they going to go to watch premium TV?
Here's a hypothetical: Charter knows cable is dying. If it leaves that business behind, how many of its 15 million subscribers will seek out another cable provider because they absolutely need ESPN?
Let's say half find another provider because they need sports. That still leaves ESPN with a $1 billion annual void. Can that be made up via "plus" subscribers?
That depends on how many are willing to pay for it, which begs the question: How much would you be willing to pay for all of ESPN’s content? $20/month? $30? $40?
To sum it all up: Unless Disney and Charter come to a compromise, the end date of the standard-issue cable bundle will be pushed up dramatically. In turn, watching sports on TV is going to get more expensive, not to mention more complicated, very soon.
🎾 In related news… Disney has quietly provided logins to a Disney app to some players at the US Open, as many have been unable to watch opponents' matches, FT reports.
WHEN CONTRACTS GO BAD
Anthony Rendon will always be a D.C. sports legend thanks to his superb Nationals career. It's safe to say Anaheim won't remember him quite so fondly, Jeff writes.
Rewind: Rendon, 33, spent seven outstanding years in the nation's capital, culminating in a top-three MVP finish and a World Series title. That earned him a seven-year, $245 million deal with the Angels in 2019 that made him the highest-paid infielder ever (by average annual value).
But after a solid pandemic-shortened campaign in 2020, injuries have limited him to just 148 of a possible 463 games. In the past three seasons on the West Coast, he's hit a grand total of 13 home runs.
Rendon, who famously finds baseball "boring," is still owed $114 million over the next three years. Unless something drastically changes, we're talking about an all-time bad contract.
The latest: Rendon, who's been out since July 4 after fouling a ball off his shin, was characteristically cagey with reporters on Monday when asked for an injury update.
"No habla inglés today," he said before putting on a hoodie and leaving the clubhouse.
We'll go out on a limb and say that Angels fans, already frustrated for a million other reasons, don't love that attitude or response.
Strange but true… Two of the worst contracts in MLB history were not only identical, but given to former teammates two days apart. The $245 million deal the Nats gave Stephen Strasburg, who's now set to retire, is even worse than Rendon's.
BELICHICK'S OTHER FAVORITE SPORT
Days before Bill Belichick's Patriots host the Eagles at Gillette Stadium, their home field welcomed Belichick's other favorite sport: lacrosse.
The Premier Lacrosse League postseason began Monday in Foxborough, with four quarterfinal tilts.
The higher seed won all four games, setting the stage for this weekend’s PLL semifinals in Long Island, New York.
Bill's second love: Belichick was introduced to lacrosse as a young boy in Annapolis, and went on to play midfield and goalie at D-III Wesleyan (Conn.), where he also played tight end and center for the football team.
As a young special teams assistant for the Lions, Belichick moonlighted as the boys' lacrosse assistant at nearby Birmingham Detroit Country Day.
He coached his kids in youth lacrosse and all three played in college — Amanda at Wesleyan, Brian at D-III Trinity, and Stephen, now the Patriots' outside linebackers coach, at Rutgers.
Alex Prewitt, writing for GQ: "Scour the highest levels of coaching and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone more obsessed with a sport other than the one they obsess over for a living — let alone a legend with six Super Bowls."
Sport on the rise… Professional lacrosse has come a long way this century. In 2001, the Boston Cannons played home games at a high school field. On Monday, they played at Gillette.
AROUND THE WORLD IN 60 SECONDS
🇪🇸 Castalla, Spain — Here's a lovely photo of the peloton passing through a sunflower field during the 78th Tour of Spain (Vuelta a España). The Beatles got it wrong… Sunflower fields forever.
🇵🇭 Manila, Philippines — It was a day of blowouts at the FIBA World Cup, as the USA trounced Italy, 100-68, and Serbia crushed Lithuania, 87-68, to reach the semifinals.
🇦🇷 Buenos Aires, Argentina — After an epic start to his MLS career, Lionel Messi has reunited with his World Cup-winning Argentina teammates as they prepare for this month's 2026 World Cup qualifiers.
🇫🇷 France — All 20 competing nations have settled into their base camps ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, which begins this weekend. France takes on New Zealand in Friday's opener.
AP POLL, WEEK 2
Duke and Colorado moved into this week's AP poll after pulling off the biggest Week 1 upsets.
Rising/falling: Florida State climbed four spots to No. 4 after crushing LSU, which fell nine spots to No. 14. This is FSU's first top-five ranking since 2016 but their 240th since 1980, trailing only Alabama (281).
11-25: 11. Texas, 12. Utah, 13. Oregon, 14. LSU, 15. Kansas State, 16. Oregon State, 17. UNC, 18. Oklahoma, 19. Wisconsin, 20. Ole Miss, 21. Duke, 22. Colorado, 23. Texas A&M, 24. Tulane, 25. Clemson
SEPT. 6, 1995: THE IRON MAN
28 years ago today, Cal Ripken Jr., played in his 2,131st consecutive game, breaking Lou Gehrig's 56-year-old record to become baseball's new Iron Man, Jeff writes.
The streak: It began on May 30, 1982, and lasted 16 years before Ripken finally sat out in late September 1998. That ended his streak at an unfathomable 2,632 straight games, 24% longer than Gehrig's and more than twice as long as third place (Everett Scott: 1,307).
Braves 1B Matt Olson is the active leader in consecutive games played at 433. Just another 14 years and you'll be hot on Cal's tail, Matt!
⚾️ 1883: The Chicago White Stockings (now the Cubs) scored an MLB record 18 runs in a single inning in their 26-6 win over the Detroit Wolverines*.
🎾 2020: Novak Djokovic was disqualified from the US Open after (accidentally) hitting the line judge in the throat with a ball he'd smacked away.
*Fun fact: The Chicago ballpark where they played this game had a short right field fence (~230 feet). Any ball hit over that fence was ruled a double, not a home run.
WATCHLIST: FRIENDLY FOES
Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, childhood friends who've developed a family-like bond, will face off today for a spot in the US Open semifinals.
More to watch:
🏀 FIBA World Cup: Canada vs. Slovenia (8:30am, ESPN+) … Quarterfinal.
⚾️ MLB: 15 games … All 30 teams in action.
🏀 WNBA: Storm at Dream (7pm, NBA)
Quick link:Yahoo Sportsbook
NFL STADIUM TRIVIA
Only five NFL stadiums have been built in the past 10 years, which suggests a construction boom is coming, Sportico notes.
Question: Can you name those five stadiums?
Hint: Two are in the same state.
Answer at the bottom.
HERE'S MY FANTASY TEAM
I drafted my fantasy team last night on Yahoo alongside my best friends from high school. Team name: Bishop Sycamore.
We've got a quirky setup: Two QBs (instead of one) and three WRs (instead of two). This makes QBs super valuable and leaves very little talent on the waiver wire each week.
Here's my squad: I had the first pick in a 10-team snake draft. My first five selections were Patrick Mahomes (1st), Travis Kelce (20th), Tua Tagovailoa (21st), Travis Etienne (40th) and Jahmyr Gibbs (41st).
QB: Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs) … Best player in football. Take us to the promised land, Pat!
WR: DJ Moore (Bears) … Not gonna lie, I don't feel great about DJ as my WR1. More of a WR2.
WR: DeAndre Hopkins (Titans) … I'm loyal to D-Hop, who has won me a league or two.
WR: Michael Pittman Jr. (Colts) … This is a bet on Anthony Richardson.
RB: Travis Etienne Jr. (Jaguars) … 1600+ rushing yards incoming.
RB: Jahmyr Gibbs (Lions) … Offensive Rookie of the Year. You heard it here first.
TE: Travis Kelce (Chiefs) … I think Tuesday's injury news spooked some people. Not me!
QB: Tua Tagovailoa (Dolphins) … Durability is a concern, but his ceiling is sky-high.
K: Jake Elliott (Eagles) … Grabbed a random kicker. Seems fine. Let's go, Jake!
D/ST: Didn't draft one. I like picking up whoever is playing a bad team that week (and hoping a consistently good defense falls into my lap).
Bench: WR Chris Godwin (Bucs), WR George Pickens (Steelers), RB Brian Robinson (Commanders), WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba (Seahawks), RB Rashaad Penny (Eagles), WR Tyler Boyd (Bengals), WR Courtland Sutton (Broncos)
Tonight is the last night before the start of the NFL season to create or join a Yahoo Fantasy Football League. Happy drafting!
Trivia answer: SoFi Stadium, Rams/Chargers (2020); Allegiant Stadium, Raiders (2020); Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Falcons (2017); US Bank Stadium, Vikings (2016); Levi's Stadium, 49ers (2014)