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🥇 New sports: Baseball and flag football are among the sports that could be added to the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles. A decision is expected next Monday.
🏳️🌈 Pride Tape ban: The NHL has reportedly banned players from using Pride Tape for the 2023-24 season.
🎓 Zags to Big 12 buzz: The Big 12 and Gonzaga have reportedly resumed talks about the Bulldogs potentially joining the conference next year.
🏒 THE NHL SEASON HAS ARRIVED
The 2023-24 NHL season begins tonight with a triple-header on ESPN, Jeff writes.
Blackhawks at Penguins (8pm): No. 1 overall pick Connor Bedard*, 18, makes his NHL debut for Chicago.
Kraken at Golden Knights (10:30pm): Vegas kicks off its title defense at home, where they’ll raise their championship banner prior to puck drop.
🏈 JSU AND JMU: THRIVING WHILE INELIGIBLE
Jacksonville State (5-1) and James Madison (5-0) are thriving in their second years as FBS programs. But despite both teams already being one win shy of bowl eligibility, neither will be able to play in one, Jeff writes.
How it works: The NCAA has a two-year “transition rule” to dissuade teams from leveling up to FBS before they’re ready and give them time to build up the necessary infrastructure. During this time, teams are ineligible to play in bowl games.
Just last week, the NCAA increased the transition application fee from $5,000 to $5 million to further deter programs from rushing into such a move.
JSU and JMU began their transitions last year, so they won’t be bowl eligible until next season — unless there aren’t enough eligible six-win teams this fall.
Meet the teams: The Jacksonville, Alabama-based Gamecocks (JSU) play in Conference USA under second-year coach Rich Rodriguez. The Harrisburg, Virginia-based Dukes (JMU) play in the Sun Belt under fifth-year coach Curt Cignetti.
Like most transitioning teams, the Gamecocks spent last year still in the FCS, going 9-2 and winning the ASUN before joining C-USA this season.
The Dukes, a perennial FCS contender, were unique in that they joined the Sun Belt right away, finishing 8-3 last season and becoming the first, first-year FBS program to be ranked in the top 25.
Of note: Not all FBS newcomers are thriving. Sam Houston, which joined C-USA this year alongside Jax State, is currently 0-5.
It’s not just football: The NCAA has a similar rule in basketball, with programs enduring four years of postseason ineligibility while transitioning to Division I. Bellarmine (ASUN tourney champ in 2022) and Merrimack (NEC tourney champ in 2023) were both on the wrong side of that unpopular rule in recent years.
What to watch: Jax State goes for win No. 6 tonight against Liberty, one of 14 remaining undefeated FBS teams.
🏀 NBA LEVELS: MEET LEVEL 3
Each week in October, the Yahoo Sports NBA team will be unveiling the 40 best players in the league — one level at a time.
Meet Level 3: These are All-Star and/or All-NBA-caliber players who are integral to winning a championship, but couldn’t win on their own.
Dan Devine: An exercise like this reminds you .. how narrow the separation is from one level of acclaim to the next, how thin the line can be between “best player on a champion” and “elite complementary piece.”
Ben Rohrback: Jamal Murray is this level’s poster child, and it’s remarkable that someone who has never made an All-Star Game is so clearly a No. 2 on a title team.
Jake Fischer: On the surface, Devin Booker fits the bill for this level perfectly: a younger All-Star, who’s welcomed a bona fide championship alpha dog to help lead his franchise to the promised land. Booker, though, is so much more than that.
Vincent Goodwill: Zion Williamson is intriguing because apparently, he’s finally taking the proper approach to his conditioning and preparation — funny how that was missed in the rookie handbook.
🇺🇸 AMERICA IN PHOTOS
⚽️ DAILY RANKING: PREMIER LEAGUE STANDINGS
Two London-based teams sit atop the Premier League table as the two-week long October international break begins, Jeff writes.
Tottenham*: 20 points (6-2-0)
Arsenal: 20 (6-2-0)
Manchester City: 18 (6-0-2)
Liverpool: 17 (5-2-1)
Aston Villa: 16 (5-1-2)
Brighton: 16 (5-1-2)
West Ham: 14 (4-2-2)
Newcastle: 13 (4-1-3)
Crystal Palace: 12 (3-3-2)
Manchester United: 12 (4-0-4)
Chelsea: 11 (3-2-3)
Fulham: 11 (3-2-3)
Nottingham Forest: 9 (2-3-3)
Wolverhampton: 8 (2-2-4)
Brentford: 7 (1-4-3)
Everton: 7 (2-1-5)
Luton Town: 4 (1-1-6)
Burnley: 4 (1-1-6)
Bournemouth: 3 (0-3-5)
Sheffield United: 1 (0-1-7)
*Tottenham thinking title: Spurs are off to their best start since the 1960-61 season, which was also the last time they won the title in English soccer’s top flight.
📆 OCT. 10, 2017: USA’S STUNNING LOSS
Six years ago today, the 28th-ranked USMNT lost to 99th-ranked Trinidad and Tobago, 2-1, in a qualifier, resulting in the Americans missing the World Cup for the first time in 32 years, Jeff writes.
Signs of progress: The USMNT has rebounded nicely from that 2017 low point. The Americans are ranked 11th in the world, reached the knockout stage of the 2022 World Cup and will co-host in 2026.
*Their streak ultimately ended at 21 straight wins, which is still the record — two ahead of the 2010-11 Packers. The longest active streak is five games, shared by the Eagles and 49ers.
📺 WATCHLIST: ORIOLES ON THE BRINK
The Orioles face the Rangers tonight (8pm ET, Fox) down 0-2 on the road, as the No. 1 seed looks to avoid getting swept for the first time in 513 days*.
Historic streak: Baltimore has gone 91 straight series of two or more games without getting swept, which is the third-longest streak in MLB history.
More to watch:
*It’s been a while: The last time the Orioles got swept was May 15, 2022. Adley Rutschman made his MLB debut a week later and it hasn’t happened again since.
⚾️ MLB TRIVIA
The Diamondbacks have won four straight playoff games for the first time since 2001, when they went on to win the World Series.
Question: Who did they beat in the World Series that year?
Answer at the bottom.
⚾️ DEAN KREMER: ISRAEL ON HIS MIND
Dean Kremer will be thinking about Israel when he makes his postseason debut tonight in the Orioles’ elimination game.
Context: Baltimore’s starter has US-Israeli dual citizenship* and most of his extended family lives in Israel, where war erupted over the weekend.
“I still want to pitch, but, I mean, it’s going to be in the back of my head,” Kremer said Monday.
“Gave him my support and sympathies,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “I think he’s really looking forward to pitching.”
*Team Israel: Kremer pitched for Israel in the World Baseball Classic this past spring, hurling a scoreless start in their lone victory.
Trivia answer: Yankees
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