🏀 Portland on pause: Portland's bid for a WNBA expansion team has been deferred after discussions between the league and millionaire Kirk Brown broke down.
🏈 Mock draft: Drake Maye, Caleb Williams and Marvin Harrison Jr. are the first three players off the board in Yahoo Sports' first 2024 NFL mock draft.
🏀 Streak snapped: LeBron James (35 points) led the Lakers past the Clippers, 130-125 (OT), to snap an 11-game losing against their L.A. rivals.
⚾️ CHAMPS AT LAST
Welcome to the club, Texas. 62 years after the franchise debuted as the Washington Senators, the Rangers are finally champions, Jeff writes.
ICYMI: The Rangers blanked the Diamondbacks, 5-0, on Wednesday in Phoenix to win their first World Series and finish 11-0 on the road this postseason.
Game recap: The Snakes looked for a while like they might live to see another day as Zac Gallen pitched six no-hit innings. The only issue? Their offense stranded nine men on base in that time, keeping the score 0-0.
Texas finally got to Gallen in the seventh, scoring a run on three straight hits to open the frame.
Then they added four insurance runs in the ninth, capped by a two-run blast from Marcus Semien.
Big Game Nate: Entering Wednesday, Nathan Eovaldi had pitched in four potential playoff clinchers, going 3-0 with a 1.33 ERA and 24 strikeouts against zero walks. He added to his legend on Wednesday, tossing six scoreless innings to earn the win.
Eovaldi went 5-0 with a 2.95 ERA in six starts this postseason, becoming the first pitcher in MLB history to win five starts in a single postseason.
Overall, his teams have won 11 of his 12 postseason starts, including all six in the past month. What a run.
MVP: Corey Seager had another multi-hit effort, including the single that ended Gallen's no-no bid, to earn World Series MVP honors for the second time (2020).
He's just the fourth player to win the award twice, joining Reggie Jackson (1973, 1977), Bob Gibson (1964, 1967) and Sandy Koufax (1963, 1965).
His final playoff stats: .318/.451/.682, six doubles, six HRs, 12 RBIs, 18 runs and more walks (15) than strikeouts (12).
Season in review: Texas came storming out of the gates with a historically good offense, helping them hold at least a share of first place for 148 of the first 149 days of the season. But they lost 20 of 30 games from mid-August to mid-September, preventing them from running away with the division, which they ultimately lost to the Astros on the final day of the season.
They shelled out $185 million for Jacob deGrom in the offseason only to lose him to Tommy John after six starts. They traded for Max Scherzer, who was limited to just three abbreviated starts in the postseason due to injury.
But it never seemed to matter. Whether it was MVP candidates like Semien and Seager, reclamation projects turned stars like Adolis García, or out-of-nowhere rookies like Evan Carter, the guys they had just kept fighting and winning when it mattered most.
World Series notes:
Five teams left: The Rangers' victory leaves five teams without a World Series: Padres (debuted in 1969), Brewers (1969), Mariners (1977), Rockies (1993) and Rays (1998).
Historic turnaround: The Rangers went 68-94 last year, the worst record of any team in the season prior to winning the World Series.
City Grand Slam: Dallas is now the ninth metro area to win a title in each of the "Big Four," joining New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Detroit, St. Louis and Washington D.C.
Three teams, three rings: Rangers reliever Will Smith is the first player in "Big Four" history to win a championship with three different teams in three years: Braves (2021), Astros (2022), Rangers (2023).
Looking ahead: The Rangers open with the fourth-best odds to win next year's World Series (+1000 at BetMGM). The Braves (+650) are the favorites, followed by the Dodgers (+800) and Astros (+900).
🏆 A TRIO OF FIRST-TIME CHAMPS (AGAIN)
For the second time in four years, the MLB, NBA and NHL champions were all first-time winners.
2023: Rangers (debuted in 1961), Nuggets (1976*), Golden Knights (2017)
2019: Nationals (1969), Raptors (1995), Blues (1967)
*The Nuggets franchise actually debuted in 1967 (as the Denver Rockets) but that was in the ABA. Their first NBA season was 1976-77.
🏀 RIP, BOB KNIGHT
Bob Knight, one of college basketball's winningest coaches and most polarizing figures, died Wednesday at his home in Bloomington, Indiana. He was 83.
From Yahoo Sports' Dan Wetzel:
He was brilliant. He was a bully. He coached some of the most perfectly disciplined basketball ever played, and then acted undisciplined in his own life.
He was an American original and a cultural touchstone with oversized impact, in ways good and, yes, sometimes less so.
Complicated? They don't get much more complicated than Robert Montgomery Knight, one of the greatest coaches of all time. He combined a demanding will and a legendary temper to become as famous for his authoritarian outbursts as decades of dominance.
There was the right way to do things (namely his way). The game would be played with discipline, fundamentals, toughness, smarts, preparation, respect and always featuring man-to-man defense. Everything else was just a distraction, or someone getting in the way.
Mostly it was about building a team, building a culture, building players into something more than they ever dreamed possible. He wasn't for everyone. He wasn't for many, actually. He never tried to be. He was just himself, a singular force, a true one of one.
🏈 WEEK 9 POWER RANKINGS
The Eagles, the only one-loss team remaining, sit atop this week's NFL power rankings from Yahoo Sports' Frank Schwab, Jeff writes.
Where it stands: The 49ers fell out of the top five after their third straight loss, the Saints jumped seven spots after scoring a season-high 38 points, the Titans jumped five spots after Will Levis' electric debut and the Vikings tumbled nine spots after losing Kirk Cousins for the year.
Eagles: 7-1 (up 1)
Chiefs: 6-2 (down 1)
Ravens: 6-2 (up 1)
Dolphins: 6-2 (up 1)
Lions: 6-2 (up 1)
Cowboys: 5-2 (up 1)
49ers: 5-3 (down 4)
Jaguars: 6-2 (–)
Bills: 5-3 (up 1)
Bengals: 4-3 (up 2)
Seahawks: 5-2 (–)
Browns: 4-3 (down 3)
Jets: 4-3 (–)
Chargers: 3-4 (up 3)
Saints: 4-4 (up 7)
Steelers: 4-3 (down 2)
Falcons: 4-4 (down 1)
Texans: 3-4 (–)
Buccaneers: 3-4 (–)
Titans: 3-4 (up 5)
Broncos: 3-5 (up 3)
Rams: 3-5 (down 1)
Colts: 3-5 (down 3)
Vikings: 4-4 (down 9)
Commanders: 3-5 (up 1)
Raiders: 3-5 (down 3)
Patriots: 2-6 (–)
Packers: 2-5 (–)
Bears: 2-6 (–)
Giants: 2-6 (–)
Panthers: 1-6 (up 1)
Cardinals: 1-7 (down 1)
Coming up: The Dolphins and Chiefs head to Frankfurt for the first of two Germany games this season. Stateside, the Steelers host the Titans tonight, the Bengals host the Bills on Sunday night and the Jets host the Chargers on Monday night.
Further reading: The 5 biggest takeaways at halftime of a weird NFL season
❤️ THE ROCKY RIDE
A few weeks ago, I received an email from Tim Ogden in West Chester, Pennsylvania. He told me about his son — who loves to read this newsletter despite being legally blind — and about the annual race to raise money for his rare genetic syndrome.
Since 2017, my son Nathanael and I have been doing the "Rocky Ride," a 35-mile ride from our home to the Philadelphia Art Museum, where we run up the steps [like Rocky Balboa]. Why? To raise money for Bardet Biedl Syndrome (BBS), an ultra-rare genetic syndrome that has cost Nathanael his vision (along with other issues).
Nathanael became legally blind in seventh grade and now, in his senior year of high school, has very little vision left. He's a huge NFL fan and an avid "reader" of your newsletter (he uses screenreader software to access content). Every Sunday afternoon, he's following almost every game using the screenreader software to read the online "play-by-play."
I followed up with Tim and we made a plan to feature Nathanael (who I hope is reading this right now! Hey man!) and the Rocky Ride in his favorite morning newsletter. Below are some photos from this year's event, which was held on Saturday.
From Tim: "BBS is ultra-rare (affects ~1 in 200,000 people) and interferes with how messages are passed in the body. This leads to retinal degeneration and blindness, deficiencies in other sensory systems, obesity (since hunger signals never turn off), trouble developing muscle (since the body doesn't respond to exercise) and kidney disease."
Nate the Great: "Nathanael is about to turn 18 and is a senior at Henderson High School in West Chester, Pennsylvania, where he's in the National Honor Society and part of the Varsity Academic Team. From my perspective, pretty impressive for a young man with the challenges he's faced."
The Rocky Ride has raised over $185,000 for the Bardet Biedl Syndrome Foundation, and Tim says they're hoping to get to $200,000. You can donate here.
📆 NOV. 2, 2016: CUBS BREAK THE CURSE
Seven years ago today, the Cubs ended 108 years of heartbreak by winning the World Series, beating the Indians in one of the best games ever.
How it happened: Chicago fought back from a 3-1 series deficit to force Game 7 in Cleveland, where they took a 6-3 lead into the eighth inning.
With one on and two out, Aroldis Chapman came in for the four-out save. Instead, he allowed a double and a game-tying homer to Rajai Davis — just the third HR he gave up all season.
Then, another twist: The skies opened up and there was a 17-minute rain delay after the ninth inning. Once play resumed, the Cubs scored two runs in the 10th and held off one last Indians rally to win their first title since 1908.
The big picture: As one curse ended, another lived on. Cleveland's active 75-year World Series drought is the longest in MLB. The second longest, meanwhile, ended on Wednesday when the Rangers finally won in their 63rd season.
⚾️ 1934: A team of MLB All-Stars led by Babe Ruth began a 12-city barnstorming tour through Japan against a team of Japanese All-Stars. That team stayed together, becoming Japan's first pro team two years later. They still exist today as the NPB's Yomiuri Giants.
🏀 1990: The Suns beat the Jazz, 119-96, at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, marking the first regular-season game in the "Big Four" leagues* played outside North America.
*The rest: MLB's first such game came in 1996 (Monterrey, Mexico), the NHL's came in 1997 (Tokyo) and the NFL's came in 2005 (Mexico City).
📺 WATCHLIST: TNF IN PITTSBURGH
The Steelers (-2.5) host the Titans tonight (8:15pm ET, Prime) in Pittsburgh, where Tennessee will look to get back to .500 behind rookie QB Will Levis, Jeff writes.
Historic debut: The second-rounder out of Kentucky balled out in his debut on Sunday (19/29, 238 yards, 4 TDs), joining Fran Tarkenton (1961) and Marcus Mariota (2015) as the only QBs in NFL history with four passing TDs in their first career game.
More to watch:
🎾 WTA Finals: Day 5 (3:30pm, Tennis) … Group stage.
🎾 Paris Masters: Day 4 (6am, Tennis) … Round of 16.
⛳️ PGA: World Wide Technology Championship (9:25am, ESPN+; 4:30pm, Golf) … At El Cardonal at Diamante* in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
*Fun fact: This is the first Tiger Woods-designed course ever used for a PGA Tour event.
⚾️ WORLD SERIES TRIVIA
Bruce Bochy is the sixth manager to win at least four World Series.
Question: Can you name the other five?
Hint: Three managed the Yankees (and a fourth managed a different New York team).
Answer at the bottom.
⚽️ STUNNING UPSET: DOWN GOES BAYERN
Third-tier FC Saarbrücken stunned Bayern Munich on Wednesday, scoring a stoppage time game-winner to knock the German giants out of the DFB Pokal, Germany's version of the FA Cup, Jeff writes.
Bayern are in the midst of the greatest run in European soccer history, having won the last 11 Bundesliga titles.
Saarbrücken play in German soccer's third division, and that's only after being promoted from the fourth division in 2020. Just an absolutely stunning upset.
Must watch: The home crowd went ballistic when Marcel Gaus' game-winner found the back of the net.
Trivia answer: Joe McCarthy (seven titles), Casey Stengel (seven), Connie Mack (five), Joe Torre (four), Walter Alston (four)