Yahoo Sports AM: Welcome to Cooperstown

In today's edition: Cooperstown's newest Hall of Famers, a rugby star chooses football, our latest NBA mock draft, and more.

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🚨 Headlines

🏈 Mammoth ratings: Led by the Chiefs-Bills game (50.4 million viewers), last weekend's Divisional Round was the most-watched since at least 1988, averaging 40 million viewers per game.

🏀 Bucks fire Griffin: The Bucks fired head coach Adrian Griffin halfway through his first season despite a 30-13 record, and are reportedly eyeing Doc Rivers to replace him.

⛳️ The Match: The ninth edition of "The Match" (Feb. 26) will be the first to feature women as Rory McIlroy and Max Homa will be joined by 11-time LPGA champion Lexi Thompson and rising star Rose Zhang.

🏀 Heat-Hornets swap: The Heat traded veteran PG Kyle Lowry and a 2027 first-round pick to the Hornets for Terry Rozier, who's averaging career-highs in points (23.2) and assists (6.6).

🏀 McDonald's All-Americans: Duke commit Cooper Flagg and Rutgers commits Ace Bailey and Dylan Harper headline the McDonald's All-American boys roster. The game is on April 2 in Houston.

⚾️ Welcome to Cooperstown

(Henry Russell/Yahoo Sports)
(Henry Russell/Yahoo Sports)

Adrián Beltré, Todd Helton and Joe Mauer were elected to the Hall of Fame on Tuesday, joining manager Jim Leyland — elected by the Contemporary Era Committee last month — in Cooperstown's 2024 class, Jeff writes.

By the numbers: Beltré (95.1% of the vote), Helton (79.7%) and Mauer (76.1%) were the only players to be named on at least 75% of the 385 ballots cast.

  • Beltré (first year on the ballot): The fifth Dominican-born player in the Hall of Fame is one of 12 players with 3,000 hits and 400 HR. His 477 HR and 93.5 WAR rank third among third basemen, behind only Mike Schmidt and Eddie Mathews.

  • Helton (sixth year): The slugging lefty first baseman joins Larry Walker as the only Rockies in Cooperstown. A career .316 hitter, his .372 average in 2000 is tied for the best mark this century (Nomar Garciaparra and Ichiro Suzuki).

  • Mauer (first year): Catchers have won just seven batting titles in MLB history. Three of those belong to the Minnesota native and Twins lifer who also won three Gold Gloves and the 2009 American League MVP.

The other candidates:

  • Just missed: Billy Wagner (73.8%) fell five votes shy in his penultimate year. The lefty closer whose 422 saves rank sixth all-time is well-positioned to make it in next year.

  • Too little, too late: Gary Sheffield climbed from 11.6% in his first year to 63.9% in his final year and must now rely on the Contemporary Era Committee, which next meets in 2025.

  • Remains on the ballot: Andruw Jones (61.6%), Carlos Beltrán (57.1%), Alex Rodriguez (34.8%), Manny Ramírez (32.5%), Chase Utley (28.8%), Omar Vizquel (17.7%), Jimmy Rollins (14.8%), Bobby Abreu (14.8%), Andy Pettitte (13.5%), Mark Buehrle (8.3%), Francisco Rodríguez (7.8%), Torii Hunter (7.3%), David Wright (6.2%)

  • Fell off the ballot: José Bautista (1.6%), Victor Martinez (1.6%), Bartolo Colon (1.3%), Matt Holliday (1%), Adrián González (0.8%), Brandon Phillips (0.3%), José Reyes (0%), James Shields (0%)

Calls to the hall: One of the best parts of this process is seeing these guys find out they've achieved baseball immortality, so please enjoy Beltré, Helton and Mauer's calls to the hall.

Looking ahead: Next year's first-timers will be headlined by Ichiro, who could join Mariano Rivera as the only unanimous Hall of Famers, plus former Cy Young winners Félix Hernández and CC Sabathia.

🏉 A rugby star's NFL dream

(David Rogers/Getty Images)
(David Rogers/Getty Images)

Louis Rees-Zammit should be preparing to lead Wales in next month's Six Nations Championship. Instead, the rugby star has his sights set on a different goal: playing in the NFL, Jeff writes.

Switching sports: Rees-Zammit, 22, has announced that he's joining the NFL's International Player Pathway program, a seven-year-old initiative aiming to grow the league's global footprint.

  • Rugby players have made the switch to football before, but Rees-Zammit isn't just any rugby player — he's a superstar.

  • In fact, the 6-foot-3 speed demon nicknamed "Rees Lightning" is perhaps the best athlete from any sport to ever join the pathway program.

What they're saying: "If you talk to his teammates, they'll tell you his speed is ridiculous," former Welsh rugby star James Hook told Fox Sports. Indeed, Rees-Zammit's 100-meter time (10.44 seconds) isn't too far off from Dolphins' speedster Tyreek Hill's personal best (10.19).

How it works: Rees-Zammit is one of 16 people in this year's class, which features athletes from eight nations (Australia, Austria, Dominican Republic, England, Ireland, Nigeria, Scotland and Wales) transitioning from sports like rugby, basketball, track and Australian rules football.

  • Those athletes will spend the next 10 weeks at a training camp in Florida before showcasing their talents for NFL scouts in March.

  • Their goal: Earn a spot on an NFL practice squad, and eventually make the team.

Easier said than done: Since the program's launch in 2017, only 37 players have signed with an NFL team and just five have made an active roster. Eagles OT Jordan Mailata is by far the most successful, landing a four-year, $64 million contract in 2021 and starting last year's Super Bowl.

🎾 Aussie Open: Semis set

Dayana Yastremska: from qualifier to the semifinals. (Phil Walter/Getty Images)
Dayana Yastremska: from qualifier to the semifinals. (Phil Walter/Getty Images)

The Australian Open semifinals are nearly set, with one match remaining (Carlos Alcaraz and Alexander Zverev are playing as we speak!).

Men: If No. 2 Alcaraz comes back to beat No. 6 Zverev (down two sets to one as of 8:30am ET), the semis will comprise the top four seeds. Not something you see too often.

  • No. 1 Novak Djokovic (Serbia) vs. No. 4 Jannik Sinner (Italy)

  • No. 3 Daniil Medvedev (Russia) vs. Alcaraz or Zverev

Women: Dayana Yastremska is the second qualifier to ever reach the Aussie semis, and Coco Gauff vs. Aryna Sabalenka is a rematch of the U.S. Open final.

  • No. 2 Sabalenka (Belarus) vs. No. 4 Gauff (USA)

  • No. 12 Qinwen Zhang (China) vs. Yastremska (Ukraine)

Full coverage: Stats, scores, schedules

🏀 NBA mock draft 4.0

Cody Williams. (David Zalubowski/AP Photo)
Cody Williams. (David Zalubowski/AP Photo)

Colorado freshman Cody Williams, the younger brother of OKC's Jalen Williams, tops our latest 2024 NBA mock draft, courtesy of Yahoo Sports' Krysten Peek.

What we're hearing: The general feel from NBA scouts and executives is that this draft is wide open. Unlike last year with Victor Wembanyama, there's no consensus No. 1 pick.

  • Williams, a versatile wing and elite defender, is the latest prospect to top Peek's mock draft, replacing French 7-footer Alex Sarr, who plays in Australia.

  • Sarr replaced USC freshman Isaiah Collier, who replaced Matas Buzelis, a 2023 McDonald's All-American who skipped college to join G League Ignite.

The lottery:

  1. Pistons: Cody Williams, F (Colorado, Fr.)

  2. Wizards: Alex Sarr, C (Australia)

  3. Spurs: Zaccharie Risacher, G/F (France)

  4. Hornets: Ja’Kobe Walter, G (Baylor, Fr.)

  5. Trail Blazers: Ron Holland, G/F (G League Ignite)

  6. Grizzlies: Nikola Topić, G (Serbia)

  7. Spurs: Rob Dillingham, G (Kentucky, Fr.)

  8. Rockets: Matas Buzelis, F (G League Ignite)

  9. Hawks: Zvonimir Ivišić, F (Kentucky, Fr.)

  10. Trail Blazers: Stephon Castle, G (UConn, Fr.)

  11. Thunder: Reed Sheppard, G (Kentucky, Fr.)

  12. Bulls: Dalton Knecht, G (Tennessee, Sr.)

  13. Pelicans: Kyle Filipowski, C (Duke, So.)

  14. Thunder: Isaiah Collier, G (USC, Fr.)

Full mock draft: All 30 projected first-round picks

📆 Jan. 24, 2016: One final matchup

(Jeff Haynes/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)
(Jeff Haynes/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

Eight years ago today, Peyton Manning's Broncos beat Tom Brady's Patriots, 20-18, in the AFC title game — the 17th and final matchup between the legendary QBs, Jeff writes.

By the numbers: Brady won their all-time series, 11-6, but his loss in this game gave Manning a 3-2 edge in the playoffs, making him the only QB to beat Brady more than twice* in the postseason.

More on this day:

  • 🏀 2014: Carmelo Anthony scored 62 points in a win over the Bobcats, the most ever scored at the current Madison Square Garden (opened in 1968).

  • ⚖️ 2018: Larry Nassar was sentenced to upwards of 175 years in prison for sexually abusing more than 150 young gymnasts. "I just signed your death warrant," said the judge.

*Beating the GOAT: Joe Flacco and Eli Manning are the only other QBs to beat Brady twice in the playoffs, and just six others beat him once: Nick Foles, Ryan Tannehill, Mark Sanchez, Dak Prescott, Jake Plummer and Matthew Stafford.

📺 Watchlist: Chet vs. Wemby, Round 2

(Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images)

Victor Wembanyama and Chet Holmgren face off for the second time tonight when the Spurs host the Thunder (9:30pm ET, ESPN). The two 7-footers have been phenomenal and find themselves locked in a tight battle for Rookie of the Year.

  • Holmgren: 17.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.6 blocks and 54.1% FG (38.2% 3PT) in 30.1 minutes (43 games).

  • Wembanyama: 20.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 3.2 blocks and 46.4% FG (29.9% 3PT) in 28.5 minutes (37 games).

More to watch:

  • 🎾 Australian Open: Day 11 (7pm, ESPN+) … The main event, if you want to wake up for it, is No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka vs. No. 4 Coco Gauff in the semifinals (3am).

  • 🏀 NBA: Suns at Mavericks (8:30pm, ABC)

  • 🏒 NHL: Hurricanes at Bruins (7:30pm, TNT/Max); Blackhawks at Kraken (10pm, TNT/Max)

  • 🏀 NCAAM: No. 8 Auburn at Alabama (7:30pm, ESPN); Kansas State at No. 23 Iowa State (9pm, ESPN2)

  • 🏀 NCAAW: Oklahoma at No. 10 Texas (7pm, ESPNU)

  • ⛳️ PGA: Farmers Insurance Open* (11:45am, ESPN+; 3pm, Golf) … At Torrey Pines.

  • ⚽️ Women's Champions League: Matchday 5 (12:45-3pm, YouTube)Four matches.

*Early start: This weekend's tournament is running from Wednesday to Saturday instead of Thursday to Sunday to avoid going up against the NFL conference championships.

🏈 NFL trivia

(Taylor Wilhelm/Yahoo Sports)
(Taylor Wilhelm/Yahoo Sports)

All four starting QBs in this weekend's conference championship games are in their 20s.

Question: Rank them by age, oldest to youngest.

  • Lamar Jackson

  • Patrick Mahomes

  • Jared Goff

  • Brock Purdy

Answer at the bottom.

🏒 14 and counting...

(Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Oilers won again on Tuesday, beating the Blue Jackets, 4-1, for their 14th straight victory.

History on the horizon: The NHL record for consecutive wins is 17 by the 1992-93 Penguins. The 2016-17 Blue Jackets are second with 16 straight.

Trivia answer: Jared Goff (29), Patrick Mahomes (28), Lamar Jackson (27), Brock Purdy (24)

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