👋 Good morning! How do you defend a Damian Lillard-Giannis Antetokounmpo pick-and-roll? Asking on behalf of 29 NBA teams.
🏈 The saga continues: Taylor Swift is reportedly planning to attend the Chiefs' game against the Jets on Sunday night at MetLife Stadium.
⚾️ Miggy matches Mel: Miguel Cabrera's home run on Wednesday, just his fourth of the season, was the 511th of his career, tying him with Mel Ott for 25th all-time.
🏈 Tucker fired: Michigan State officially fired Mel Tucker for cause, voiding the $75 million owed to him. Tucker is expected to contest the terms of his firing in court.
⚽️ Houston 2, Miami 1: The US Open Cup final was supposed to be the Lionel Messi show. Instead, he sat out with a mysterious injury and the Dynamo took the crown.
THE LILLARD BLOCKBUSTER
There's a new superstar duo in the NBA — and a new title favorite.
ICYMI: Damian Lillard was traded to the Bucks on Wednesday in a three-team trade involving Portland, Milwaukee and Phoenix.
As part of the deal, Jrue Holiday, Deandre Ayton, Toumani Camara and picks are going to the Blazers.
The Suns land Jusuf Nurkić, Grayson Allen, Nassir Little and Keon Johnson.
Context: Lillard spent 11 seasons with the Trail Blazers before requesting a trade on the second day of 2023 free agency.
The Heat were long believed to be in pole position to acquire the seven-time All-Star, who made it known he wanted to play in Miami.
In the end, he was shipped to Milwaukee, which is close to the opposite of Miami. Turns out there are limits to player empowerment.
A tantalizing duo: Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo will become just the second teammates in NBA history to play together after each averaging 30+ points per game the prior season, joining Jerry West and Elgin Baylor.
On numerous occasions this summer, Antetokounmpo publicly questioned Milwaukee's commitment to winning championships. Clearly, those comments did not fall on deaf ears.
Following the trade, the Bucks overtook the Heat as title favorites (+400 at BetMGM). And with their new star duo signed for multiple years, they should contend for the foreseeable future.
What's next: This blockbuster could beget another blockbuster, with the Blazers expected to flip Holiday. Potential suitors include the Heat, Clippers, Celtics and Knicks.
Farewell, PDX… Lillard, the Blazers' all-time leading scorer, released a single titled "Farewell" under his artist handle Dame D.O.L.L.A. as a thank you to Portland fans.
MLB SNAPSHOT: FOUR DAYS LEFT
Another big night in the majors on Wednesday as the Braves clinched the NL's best record, the Cubs fell out of the playoff picture, the Rangers nearly locked up the AL West and the Astros got one step closer to clinching their seventh consecutive trip to the postseason, Jeff writes.
Astros 8, Mariners 3: Houston took back its 1.5-game wild card lead over Seattle in a game that saw the benches clear, though the 'Stros gained no divisional ground on the Rangers, who shut out the Angels, 5-0.
Braves 6, Cubs 5: Chicago suffered another brutal loss to Atlanta — their fifth loss this month after leading in the eighth inning or later — dropping them out of the wild card entirely. The Braves, meanwhile, clinched the NL's No. 1 seed.
Orioles 5, Nationals 1: The O's held the Nats to just one run in their four-game season series, the fewest runs per game allowed in a season (0.25) against an opponent in MLB history.
AL East: The Orioles and Rays both won, so Baltimore remains 2.5 games ahead of Tampa Bay and is now just one win (or a Rays loss) from clinching.
AL Wild Card: The Blue Jays' lead over the Astros for the second wild card is down to just 0.5 games, while the Mariners are 1.5 games behind Houston for that final spot.
AL West: The Rangers have all but wrapped this up, leading the Astros by 2.5 games. Any combination of two Texas wins or Houston losses will clinch the division for the Rangers.
NL Wild Card: The Diamondbacks extended their lead for the second wild card to two games over the Marlins, who have the same record as the Cubs but hold the tiebreaker. The Reds are 1.5 games back.
*Wild stat: Judge can max out at just 107 games played and has 37 home runs — the second-most ever hit in a season of fewer than 110 games (Mark McGwire hit 39 in 104 games in 1995).
PHOTO OF THE NIGHT
Ronald Acuña Jr. stole his 70th base of the year on Wednesday, lifting it out of the ground and raising it up like a trophy.
What a season: Acuña is the first member of the 40-70 club, a truly remarkable feat that should earn him NL MVP.
THE CALEB WILLIAMS SWEEPSTAKES
USC's Caleb Williams is the dream No. 1 pick for NFL teams this year. Where will he end up? Week 4 could tell us a lot.
The situation: Thanks to a scheduling coincidence, all of the NFL's remaining winless teams collide on Sunday.
Broncos at Bears
Vikings at Panthers
The intrigue: History suggests the results of those games could decide Williams' fate, notes Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson.
Consider the numbers: The last time the No. 1 pick went to an expansion franchise was the Texans in 2002. In 15 of the 21 drafts since then (71.4% of the time), the No. 1 pick went to a team that started 0-4.
DAILY RANKING: RYDER CUP GOLFERS
Match play golf is about so much more than individual rankings, but did you really expect us not to see how Team USA and Team Europe stack up on paper?
Ranking the field: All 24 participants in this weekend's Ryder Cup fall inside the top 82 of the Official World Golf Rankings. The Americans have more depth (all 12 inside the world top 25), while the Europeans are more top-heavy (three of the top four).
🇺🇸 Scottie Scheffler: No. 1
🇬🇧* Rory McIlroy: No. 2
🇪🇸 Jon Rahm: No. 3
🇳🇴 Viktor Hovland: No. 4
🇺🇸 Patrick Cantlay: No. 5
🇺🇸 Xander Schauffele: No. 6
🇺🇸 Max Homa: No. 7
🏴 Matt Fitzpatrick: No. 8
🇺🇸 Brian Harman: No. 9
🇺🇸 Wyndham Clark: No. 10
🏴 Tyrrell Hatton: No. 11
🇺🇸 Jordan Spieth: No. 12
🏴 Tommy Fleetwood: No. 13
🇺🇸 Brooks Koepka: No. 17
🇺🇸 Collin Morikawa: No. 19
🇺🇸 Sam Burns: No. 20
🇦🇹 Sepp Straka: No. 22
🇺🇸 Justin Thomas: No. 24
🇺🇸 Rickie Fowler: No. 25
🇮🇪 Shane Lowry: No. 34
🏴 Justin Rose: No. 37
🏴 Robert MacIntyre: No. 55
🇸🇪 Ludgiv Åberg: No. 80
🇩🇰 Nicolai Højgaard: No. 82
*The Union Jack is technically the official flag of McIlroy's Northern Ireland, though we would have used the Ulster Banner — the country's unofficial but still recognized flag — if there were an emoji for it.
SEP. 28, 1941: TEDDY BALLGAME HITS .406
82 years ago today, 22-year-old Red Sox star Ted Williams ended the season with a .406 batting average. No MLB player has broken .400 since, Jeff writes.
No rounding up: Entering the final day of the season, Williams' .39955 average would have counted as .400 if he'd sat out, but he had no interest in doing that. "Teddy Ballgame" suited up for Boston's doubleheader and went 6-for-8 to raise his average to .406.
Williams' final numbers that year, his third in the majors: 37 HR, 120 RBI, .406/.553/.735, 147 walks against just 27 strikeouts (!!!) and 10.4 wins above replacement.
Despite those gaudy numbers, most of which led baseball, he finished second for AL MVP to Joe DiMaggio and his legendary 56-game hitting streak*.
⚾️ 1920: Eight members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox were indicted for throwing the World Series, with all eight ultimately banned for life in the infamous "Black Sox" scandal.
🏈 1951: Rams QB Norm Van Brocklin threw for an NFL record 554 yards in a season-opening victory over the short-lived New York Yanks. That record still stands.
*Fun fact: Even during DiMaggio's 56-game streak, Williams had a higher average (.412 to .408).
WATCHLIST: DIVISIONAL BATTLE
The Packers host the Lions tonight at Lambeau (8:15pm ET, Prime) in a matchup of NFC North frontrunners.
Where it stands: Green Bay and Detroit are tied atop the division at 2-1, with comfortable leads over the 0-3 Bears* and 0-3 Vikings.
Betting lines: Spread: DET -1.5 | O/U: 46 | Money: DET -125, GB +105
More to watch:
⚾️ MLB: 11 games … Rangers at Mariners (9:40pm) is the game of the night. Jordan Montgomery (3.25 ERA) vs. Logan Gilbert (3.75 ERA) with a lot on the line.
🏉 Rugby World Cup: Japan vs. Samoa (3pm, Peacock)
*Chicago is reeling: Their 13-game losing streak dating back to last season is the longest in franchise history.
Damian Lillard averaged 32.2 points per game last year, third-most in the NBA.
Question: Which two players did he trail?
Hint: One East, one West.
Answer at the bottom.
PICKLEBALL ON THE MALL
Jeff and I are playing in a media pickleball tournament today on the National Mall in Washington, DC.
The teams: We'll be going head-to-head with the Washington Post, New York Times, Axios, Politico, NPR, CBS, Fox News, The Hill, Reuters and others.
Wish us luck! If you're in DC and want to come watch, the action begins at 4pm ET.
Trivia answer: Joel Embiid (33.1 ppg) and Luka Dončić (32.4)