👋 Good morning! I hope you got your 13-14 hours of sleep last night. (This will make sense after you read today's edition).
Poll results: 42% of you said SoFi Stadium (Los Angeles) should host the 2026 World Cup Final. 34% said MetLife Stadium (New York/New Jersey) and 24% said AT&T Stadium (Dallas/Arlington).
🏀 Final Four: The Sun beat the Lynx on Wednesday to make their fifth straight WNBA semifinals. The Aces-Wings and Liberty-Sun series both begin on Sunday.
⚽️ Messi exits: Lionel Messi made his Inter Miami return on Wednesday but exited early with mysterious "fatigue." Miami rallied without him, beating Toronto 4-0.
⚾️ PEDs suspension: Brewers pitcher J.C. Mejia was suspended 162 games after his second positive test for Stanozolol, a performance-enhancing drug.
🏈 Akers trade: The Rams have traded starting RB Cam Akers to the Vikings, who have a league-worst 69 rushing yards through two games.
See what else is trending on Yahoo Sports.
TIGER IS ALL-IN ON VIRTUAL GOLF
Tiger Woods has spent much of the 21st century dominating golf — in the real world. Now, he's turned his attention to its virtual form, Jeff and I write.
In the news: Woods and Justin Timberlake opened a virtual golf-themed sports bar called T-Squared Social on Wednesday in Manhattan, complete with four golf simulator bays, bowling lanes, upscale dining and the biggest TV in New York City (200 inches).
Tiger goes virtual: This isn't Woods' first foray into virtual golf. In fact, the 15-time major champion is such a believer in the concept that he's launching a full-blown professional league.
Woods and Rory McIlroy are co-founders of TGL, a "tech-infused golf league" that will launch in January with six city-based teams.
All matches will be played at a purpose-built, 2,000-seat venue in Palm Beach, Florida, that combines a massive simulator screen (46x64 feet) with a real-life putting and chipping area.
18 PGA Tour golfers will be split in teams of six, and the 12 who've already signed on include Woods, McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler.
15.5 million of the record 41.1 million Americans who played golf in 2022 did so exclusively in off-course activities like simulators, per the National Golf Foundation, a 25% increase from 2021.
Five Iron Golf, whose offerings are similar to T-Squared, launched a franchising program earlier this year to keep up with demand.
The global golf simulator market was $1.6 billion last year and is expected to climb to $3.4 billion by 2030.
From socializing to spectator sport: The case for T-Squared seems clear — urbanites want to socialize and hit some balls. But virtual golf as a spectator sport? That's a much flimsier pitch, though that hasn't stopped major investors from buying.
Falcons owner Arthur Blank (Atlanta), Serena and Venus Williams (Los Angeles), Mets owner Steve Cohen (New York) and Fenway Sports Group (Boston) have already bought four of the six teams.
TV networks are eyeing broadcast rights to TGL's 15 "primetime" Monday night matches that will begin, intentionally it seems, right when ESPN's "Monday Night Football" schedule ends.
The betting angle: It's 2023, so naturally there's a betting angle to all this. According to Rahm, TGL's short, fast-paced matches (they're only two hours) will "allow for probably a lot more live gambling, which is what a lot of people are trying to do nowadays."
CARROLL JOINS 20-50 CLUB
Arizona's Corbin Carroll joined an exclusive club on Wednesday, becoming the first rookie — and ninth player — in MLB history with 25 HR and 50 stolen bases in a season.
The 25-50 club:
César Cedeño (1973 and 1974)
Joe Morgan (1973 and 1976)
Ryne Sandberg (1985)
Eric Davis (1986-87)
Rickey Henderson (1986 and 1990)
Barry Bonds (1990)
Hanley Ramirez (2007)
Ronald Acuña Jr. (2023)
Rookies of the year: Carroll, the 16th pick in the 2019 draft, will win NL ROY. Baltimore's Gunnar Henderson, the 42nd pick in 2019, is also a virtual lock to win the AL award.
NIL LEGISLATION MOVES AT A SNAIL'S PACE
The NCAA has long pled with Congress to pass a federal law regulating name, image and likeness. This week in Washington, top officials got another chance to speak face-to-face with lawmakers, Jeff writes.
Where it stands: NIL is governed by the NCAA's own policy and the 30+ states who've passed laws. There's a general consensus that uniform, federal legislation would be beneficial, but there's been little movement so far.
What they're saying: At first thought to be a bipartisan issue, the matter has divided an already splintered U.S. Senate, Yahoo Sports' Ross Dellenger reports from the nation's capital.
"What are the odds that [an NIL bill] passes Congress soon?" one athletic director asked lawmakers on Tuesday.
"I think the odds are 60-40 we get it done," answered Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), the ranking member of the committee that holds jurisdiction over such bills.
But later, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) offered his rebuttal: "The chances are not 60-40. They are less than 50-50 that Congress does something comprehensive in the short term."
The key sticking point: Should student athletes be viewed as employees of their university? Murphy thinks that "is increasingly attractive," but Sen. Ted Manchin (D-W.Va.) vehemently disagreed: "Should student-athletes be employees? Jesus criminy! Are you crazy?"
Still no movement: There was a two-hour NIL congressional hearing on Wednesday — the ninth in the past four years. The talking points remained mostly the same as they've been from Day 1.
Further reading: Ohio State AD Gene Smith has his own idea on how to solve NIL
MEN'S TENNIS GREATS, RANKED
Rafael Nadalconceded the title of GOAT to Novak Djokovic on Wednesday, saying "there is nothing to discuss" after his longtime rival won his record-extending 24th grand slam.
On that note, here are our top 10 men's tennis players of all-time:
🇨🇭 Roger Federer
🇺🇸 Pete Sampras
🇦🇺 Rod Laver
🇸🇪 Björn Borg
🇨🇿 Ivan Lendl
🇺🇸 Andre Agassi
🇺🇸 John McEnroe
🇺🇸 Jimmy Connors
Of note: Lefties make up just 10% of the world population — but they represent 40% of this list (Nadal, Laver, McEnroe, Connors).
SEPT. 21, 1991: DREAM TEAM ANNOUNCED
32 years ago today, USA Basketball announced the "Dream Team" roster ahead of the Barcelona Olympics, where NBA players were eligible for the first time, Jeff writes.
The final roster: Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Scottie Pippen, John Stockton, Chris Mullin, Clyde Drexler, Christian Laettner*.
🥊 1955: Rocky Marciano won his final fight, knocking out Archie Moore at Yankee Stadium to retire with a perfect 49-0 record.
⚾️ 2008: The Yankees beat the Orioles, 7-3, in the final game at the original Yankee Stadium. There it is again!
*The college kid: USA Basketball reserved a spot on the team for a college player and chose Duke's Laettner over LSU's Shaquille O'Neal, Georgetown's Alonzo Mourning and others.
WATCHLIST: NINERS LOOK TO STAY PERFECT
Dynamic duo: The Niners are 7-0 in the regular season since Brock Purdy became their starter and 12-1 in the regular season since trading for Christian McCaffrey, with the only loss coming in his debut.
More to watch:
⚽️ Friendly: USWNT vs. South Africa* (7:30pm, TNT) … Cincinnati hosts the USWNT's first match since their early World Cup exit.
🏉 Rugby World Cup: France vs. Namibia (3pm, Peacock)
Farewell, Julie: Tonight will be the final match of Julie Ertz's career. The USWNT has won 100 of 122 matches Ertz has played in, good for an 88.9% win percentage.
There are nine winless teams in the NFL through the first two weeks. Can you name them all without looking?
Answer at the bottom.
A LIFE OF LUXURY
Blue Jays pitcher Yusei Kikuchi left Tuesday's game with cramps and blamed his lack of sleep the night before: only 11 hours.
Kikuchi says he normally gets 13-14 hours of sleep, typically going to bed at 11pm and waking up at 1pm.
For reference, most health experts recommend adults get 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
A life of luxury: When I grow up, I want to be an MLB starting pitcher. Work once every ~five days. Make millions. Sleep until 1pm. Crush sunflower seeds and gum. Occasionally run to first base but mostly just walk to and from the mound at a leisurely pace. What a gig!
Trivia answer: Bears, Bengals, Broncos, Cardinals, Chargers, Panthers, Patriots, Texans, Vikings