👋 Good morning! I heard your best friend isn’t reading Yahoo Sports AM yet. Let’s fix that by sending them this link.
— Kendall Baker (email), Jeff Tracy (email)
🏈 MNF doubleheader: The Eagles beat the Buccaneers, 25-11, to stay undefeated. The Bengals squeaked past the Rams, 19-16, to avoid an 0-3 start.
⚾️ Nearly empty: Almost no fans showed up at Yankee Stadium on Monday for the Bombers’ home finale, a 6-4 win over the Diamondbacks.
🏈 Namath sounds off: Jets legend Joe Namath called for the team to clean house, starting with QB Zach Wilson: “I’ve seen enough.”
⚾️ Trout speaks: Mike Trout was visibly emotional on Monday talking about his injuries and the Angels’ disappointing season, but did say he plans to be “wearing an Angels uniform in the spring.”
✈️ Emergency landing: The Steelers’ charter plane from Las Vegas made an emergency landing in Kansas City on Monday morning. Everyone is okay.
BLUE BLOODS RULE THE GRIDIRON
The four core college basketball “Blue Bloods” — Kentucky, Kansas, Duke and North Carolina — all started 3-0 in football last year for the first time ever. This year, they’ve one-upped themselves with a quartet of 4-0 starts, Jeff writes.
No. 15 UNC: The Tar Heels have beaten teams from four different conferences already, toppling South Carolina (SEC), App State (Sun Belt), Minnesota (Big Ten) and Pitt (ACC).
No. 17 Duke: The Blue Devils have their highest ranking since 1994 under second-year head coach Mike Elko, who led them to a 9-4 record and bowl victory last season.
Kansas: The Jayhawks have started 4-0 in consecutive seasons for the first time in over 100 years (1913-15).
Kentucky: The Wildcats haven’t been tested yet, but that’s about to change with five of their next six games coming against currently-ranked SEC foes.
Flipping the script: No one is calling these football schools, but you could be forgiven for letting it slip after their futility on the hardwood this past March. Duke, Kansas and Kentucky all lost in the second round, and UNC missed the tournament entirely.
Coming up: UNC is off this weekend, but the other three have big games: Kentucky hosts No. 22 Florida, Duke hosts No. 11 Notre Dame and Kansas visits No. 3 Texas.
A’JA, STEWIE OR ALYSSA: WHO YA GOT?
The WNBA MVP will be announced tonight, concluding perhaps the most stacked and closest race in the league’s 27-year history, Jeff writes.
Three women, one award: Pick your poison. Do you go with the reigning MVP having a career year for the No. 1 seed, the all-time great who turned New York into a superteam, or the do-it-all playmaker who’s pulling off a spot-on impersonation of Oscar Robertson?
1. A’ja Wilson: The Aces big is looking to become the fourth player to win three MVPs and just the second to win the award in consecutive years (Cynthia Cooper, 1997-98).
Stats: Wilson, 27, set career highs in points (22.8), rebounds (9.5), blocks (2.2) and FG% (55.7%), and finished top five in the league in all four categories (min. 20 games).
X-factor: She tied the highest-scoring game in WNBA history when she dropped 53 points last month against the Dream. Not bad for the two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year.
2. Breanna Stewart: The Liberty big and 2018 MVP has finished in the top three each of the last three seasons, including second place behind Wilson in both 2020 and 2022.
Stats: Stewart, 29, set career highs in points (23.0) and assists (3.8) while also finishing top three in rebounds (9.3) and blocks (1.6).
X-factor: No one can pour it in like Stewie, who scored at least 40 points four times this season. No one else has ever had more than two such games in a season.
3. Alyssa Thomas: The Sun playmaker authored an all-time campaign in her 10th season, rewriting the record books with some eye-popping stat lines.
Stats: Thomas, 31, set or tied career highs in points (15.5), rebounds (9.9) and assists (7.9). No other player had ever averaged even 7-7-7, much less 15-10-8.
X-factor: She had twice as many triple-doubles this season (six) as anyone else has had in their career (three), and now has one-third of all triple-doubles in WNBA history (10 of 30).
What to watch: All three take the court tonight in the semifinals, including a head-to-head matchup between Stewart and Thomas in Brooklyn.
Through three weeks, there have already been three NFL Scorigamis, meaning a score that’s never happened before.
Week 1: Ravens 25, Texans 9 (1,076th unique score)
Sunday: Dolphins 70, Broncos 20 (1,077th unique score)
Monday: Eagles 25, Buccaneers 11 (1,078th unique score)
Of note: There were just four Scorigamis all of last season, so we’re off to quite the start.
Worth a follow: There’s a Scorigami Twitter bot that tweets out current scores and chances that games will end in Scorigami. It’s a thrill every Sunday!
VERLANDER, ASTROS PAD WILD CARD LEAD
Justin Verlander and the Astros shut down the Mariners on Monday night in Seattle to pad their lead in the AL Wild Card race, but the Rangers still control the division after winning their sixth straight game, Jeff writes.
Vintage Verlander allowed just three hits and one run over eight innings in a 5-1 win as Houston extended its lead over Seattle to 1.5 games for the third and final wild card spot.
The Rangers beat the Angels, 5-1, behind four solo homers to maintain a 2.5-game lead over the Astros for the AL West crown.
Elsewhere… Just two other games on a quiet night around the league, both with NL Wild Card implications.
The Yankees beat the Diamondbacks, 6-4, dropping Arizona into a tie with the Cubs for the second wild card. The Marlins trail them by one game.
The Giants beat the Padres, 2-1, behind Logan Webb’s second complete game of the season. San Francisco is still 4.5 games out, but kept their hopes alive.
Further reading: MLB postseason tracker
DAILY RANKING: NFL HEAD COACHING WINS
The Chiefs’ blowout win over the Bears on Sunday was Andy Reid’s 271st victory as an NFL head coach (including playoffs), passing Cowboys legend Tom Landry for fourth-most all-time.
The top 10:
Don Shula: 347 wins (328 regular season/19 postseason)
Bill Belichick: 330 (299/31)
George Halas: 324 (318/6)
Reid: 271 (249/22)
Landry: 270 (250/20)
Curly Lambeau: 229 (226/3)
Paul Brown: 222 (213/9)
Chuck Noll: 209 (193/16)
Marty Schottenheimer: 205 (200/5)
Dan Reeves: 201 (190/11)
Looking ahead: The active head coaches closest to cracking the top 10 are Seattle’s Pete Carroll (174 wins), Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin (173), Dallas’ Mike McCarthy (168) and Baltimore’s John Harbaugh (160).
SEP. 26, 1981: NOLAN PASSES SANDY
42 years ago today, Nolan Ryan pitched his fifth career no-hitter in a 5-0 Astros win over the Dodgers, breaking Sandy Koufax’s record for the most all-time, Jeff writes.
Seven no-no’s: Incredibly, Ryan tossed two more no-hitters at age 43 and 44 for a total of seven*, nearly twice as many as any MLB pitcher has ever thrown.
🏈 1967: Cincinnati was granted the 10th and final AFL franchise, which owner Paul Brown named the Bengals. In 1970, they joined the NFL as part of the merger.
⚾️ 1971: Jim Palmer won his 20th game after teammates Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar, and Pat Dobson had already done so, making the Orioles the second team in MLB history (1920 White Sox) with a quartet of 20-game winners.
*No-hitter leaders: 35 pitchers have thrown multiple no-hitters (including playoffs), but just six have thrown at least three: Ryan (7), Koufax (4), Justin Verlander (3), Bob Feller (3), Cy Young (3) and Larry Corcoran (3).
WATCHLIST: WNBA SEMIFINALS
The WNBA semifinals continue tonight in New York and Las Vegas before the series head to the lower seeds’ hometowns, Jeff writes.
Sun (up 1-0) at Liberty (8pm ET, ESPN2): The Liberty will look to bounce back after Breanna Stewart and Sabrina Ionescu combined to go just 11-39 from the field (28.2%) in their Game 1 loss.
Wings (down 1-0) at Aces (10pm, ESPN2): The reigning champs handled business on Sunday led by A’ja Wilson (34-8), Jackie Young (19-10-7) and Kelsey Plum (25-5-4).
More to watch:
*Unstoppable force, meet immovable object: Steele has given up just 13 home runs all season (.08 per inning). How will he fare against an Atlanta team poised to break the single-season HR record?
Jalen Hurts already ranks 19th all-time in QB rushing touchdowns (29) despite playing just 48 games.
Question: Who ranks first all-time with 75 rushing touchdowns?
Answer at the bottom.
SPORT TO KNOW: FORMULA KITE
You’ve heard of Formula One, but what about Formula Kite?
In the news: The world’s top kite foil athletes competed in the Formula Kite European Championships over the weekend in Portsmouth, England for a spot in the 2024 Paris Games, where the sport will be making its Olympics debut.
How it works: Kite foiling is a lot like kiteboarding, but with the addition of a hydrofoil under the board that lifts the rider above the surface and allows them to reach upwards of ~50 mph.
Trivia answer: Cam Newton
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