December 9, 2022

Happy Monday, all. Hope you enjoyed a nice weekend.

Let’s get right to it.

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Good morning to everyone but especially to…

MLB’S ALL-STARS…

The MLB All-Star Game starters were announced Friday and the reserves were revealed last night as the game is now just eight days away. Starters were voted in by fans while reserves were determined via player voting and the commissioner’s office.

Here are some key tidbits from the rosters:

  • Yankees star Aaron Judge received the most fan votes and will start in the outfield for the AL. Braves standout Ronald Acuña Jr. earned the most fan votes of any NL player to get the start in the outfield as well.
  • Angels two-way wonder Shohei Ohtani was selected as a batter and as a pitcher for the second straight season. No one in MLB history has done that even once. He’ll be the AL’s starting DH.
  • Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera made their respective rosters as “special selections.”
  • With Bryce Harper injured, Braves slugger William Contreras will start at DH for the NL while Cubs catcher Willson Contreras gets the start behind the plate. They’ll be the first set of brothers to start the All-Star Game since Roberto and Sandy Alomar in 1992.

Overall, the Yankees lead the way with six players (Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Trevino, Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes, Clay Holmes) while the Astros have five. It’s always fun to see your favorite team’s player(s) get selected — every team gets at least one All-Star — but that also leaves some snubs … and we’ll get to those in a bit.

… AND ALSO A GOOD MORNING TO NOVAK DJOKOVIC AND ELENA RYBAKINA

Good luck stopping Novak Djokovic at the All England Club. The Serbian superstar captured his seventh career — and fourth consecutive — Wimbledon title with a thoroughly entertaining 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) win over Nick Kyrgios yesterday morning.

  • Djokovic’s terrific defense and ground game were on display especially over the final three sets, when he racked up 38 winners compared to just 12 unforced errors.
  • Though Kyrgios produced 30 aces — twice as many as Djokovic — Djokovic won 83% of his first-serve points, compared to 70% for Kyrgios.
  • It’s Djokovic’s 21st career major win, one behind Rafael Nadal’s 22 for most all-time by a man.

Djokovic, though, may not be able to chase slam number 22 for a while. He remains unvaccinated from COVID-19, which prevented him from playing in the Australian Open (where Nadal won) and may prevent him from playing in the upcoming US Open. The next major after that is the 2023 Australian Open. Djokovic said he has no plans to get vaccinated.

On the women’s side, Elena Rybakina came back from a set down to best Ons Jabeur 3-6, 6-2, 6-2. Rybakina, who was born in Russia but has represented Kazakhstan since 2018, is the first player representing Kazakhstan to win a major. She’s also the first woman to win the Wimbledon final from a set down since Amelie Mauresmo in 2006.

Honorable mentions

And not such a good morning for…


USATSI

THE MLB ALL-STAR GAME SNUBS

The best part about All-Star Games is all the guys who make it. The worst part is all the guys who didn’t — and should have.

Our MLB expert Matt Snyder listed 19 snubs from this year’s contest, including…

  • Snyder: Freddie Freeman: Part of the issue… was a crowded position, exacerbated by the Rockies needing a representative and C.J. Cron being their best selection. Freddie Freeman is having another Freddie Freeman season, though, slashing .304/.381/.494 with 11 homers and 54 RBI. He’s been so important in the middle of the Dodgers‘ order as they’ve dealt with injuries and some disappointing performances.”

Freeman has made each of the last three All-Star Games, and while he could still be selected to replace Harper, he’s a snub for now. You can check out Matt’s entire list here.

Not so honorable mentions

Team Wilson beats Team Stewart in WNBA All-Star Game; Players show support for Griner 🏀


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Aces sharpshooter Kelsey Plum poured in a WNBA All-Star Game record-tying 30 points to lead Team Wilson over Team Stewart, 134-112, and cap a busy WNBA All-Star Weekend.

Perhaps most important yesterday, league commissioner Cathy Engelbert addressed the media with several updates, including…

  • The season will grow to a record 40 games in 2023.
  • The league hopes to expand by up to two teams by 2025 at the latest. Philadelphia is among the cities under consideration.
  • The WNBA will charter flights for the Finals and increase the playoff prize pool.

Damian Lillard gets huge extension; James Harden closes in on deal with 76ers 🏀


USATSI

Two of the NBA’s biggest stars are getting paid — one significantly less than he had been.

Damian Lillard signed a 2-year, $122-million extension tying him to Portland through at least 2025-26 with a player option for 2026-27. Lillard, 31, was drafted by Portland in 2012 and has played with the Trail Blazers ever since. He’s a six-time All-NBA selection, second in franchise history in points and minutes played and first in 3-pointers. But still, the Blazers have never made the Finals — and have made just one Western Conference Finals — with Lillard in town. 

Lillard said “it wouldn’t be as fulfilling” to win a title elsewhere.

Also hoping to win his first title is Sixers star James Harden, who opted out of a $47.3-million player option to take significantly less money. While the deal isn’t done yet, it will be soon and is expected to be for 2 years at about $32 million per year. Harden struggled with the 76ers after being acquired from the Nets, and the pay cut — initiated by Harden himself — is a good deal for both sides, writes our NBA expert Michael Kaskey-Blomain.

  • Kaskey-Blomain: “Harden, 32, created financial flexibility for the Sixers this summer — flexibility that the team used to bolster the roster with additions like P.J. Tucker and Danuel House. … Sure, [Harden] loses money in the short-term, but he secured more overall income over the life of the contract if he picks up his option for the ’23-24 campaign. Plus, the deal basically gives him a chance to boost his own stock. If he comes out and has a stellar season and shows that his skills aren’t declining, he’ll put himself in a position to secure another big payday next summer.”

Xander Schauffele wins Scottish Open as Open Championship looms 🏌


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Xander Schauffele has added another impressive win to his recent stretch of outstanding play. Now he’s hoping he can add his first major in six days’ time. Schauffele blew, regained and then held onto his lead to win the Scottish Open by one over Kurt Kitayama.

  • Schauffele has won consecutive PGA Tour starts after winning the Travelers Championship just over two weeks ago. He also won the Zurich Classic alongside teammate Patrick Cantlay back in April. Overall, it’s Schauffele’s seventh career PGA Tour win.
  • This win came just days after he won the two-day JP McManus Pro-Am (a DP World Tour event), played last Monday and Tuesday.
  • Schauffele joins Scottie Scheffler as the only players to win consecutive starts this season. He also rises from No. 11 to No. 5 in the Official World Golf Rankings.

He’ll be a popular pick for this week’s Open Championship at St. Andrews, notes golf expert Dean Straka. Meanwhile, Trey Mullinax won the Barbasol Championship. Not only is it his first PGA Tour win, but it also earns him a spot in The Open, which begins Thursday.

What we’re watching Monday 📺

Mets at Braves, 7:20 p.m. on FS1
USWNT vs. Mexico, 9 p.m. on Paramount+

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