Thursday, July 25, 2024

2024 MLB All-Star Game starters announced; why Lakers are big losers this offseason

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One quick programming note: With the holiday, this will be the only newsletter today, and Chris will have the afternoon newsletter tomorrow to bring us into the weekend.

⚾ Good morning to everyone, but especially to …


After learning Aaron Judge and Bryce Harper would be All-Star Game starters last week, we learned who will join them in the starting lineups for the Midsummer Classic.

In the AL …

  • Catcher: Adley Rutschman, Orioles 
  • First baseman: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays
  • Second baseman: Jose Altuve, Astros
  • Third baseman: José Ramírez, Guardians
  • Shortstop: Gunnar Henderson, Orioles
  • Outfielders: Aaron Judge, Yankees; Juan Soto, Yankees; Steven Kwan, Guardians
  • Designated hitter: Yordan Alvarez, Astros

And in the NL …

  • Catcher: William Contreras, Brewers
  • First baseman: Bryce Harper, Phillies
  • Second baseman: Ketel Marte, Diamondbacks
  • Third baseman: Alec Bohm, Phillies
  • Shortstop: Trea Turner, Phillies
  • Outfielders: Christian Yelich, Brewers; Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres; Jurickson Profar, Padres
  • Designated hitter: Shohei Ohtani, Dodgers

The pitchers and reserves will be announced Sunday.

👍 Honorable mentions

🏀 And not such a good morning for …


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Based on just the surface-level headlines, you would think it was a great day for the Lakers.

But when you dig deeper, the first and third bullet points are more reasons that this summer has been a failure for Los Angeles, Sam Quinn writes.

You may remember that James was reportedly willing to take a pay cut if it would help the Lakers add a key player. Instead, they whiffed on Klay Thompson, and Jonas Valanciunas and James Harden — other players for whom James would have taken a pay cut — who all signed elsewhere.

Now, James has all the flexibility in the world — a no-trade clause and an option to hit free agency after this season following his long-awaited season with his son — and the Lakers have almost none. Unless Dalton Knecht is the rare immediate-impact outside-the-lottery rookie, the Lakers have made no upgrades to a roster that wasn’t close to contending last season.

Even the Brooks and McMillan news came after a rejection from Dwane Casey. The Redick hiring, of course, came after Dan Hurley rejected a low-ball offer.

The last few weeks have been an indictment of the franchise, Sam writes.

  • Quinn: “Through this context, it’s not hard to see why people might be a bit hesitant to join the Lakers. The team is often a circus. The front office continues to escape accountability for the team’s on-court failures even as coach after coach is jettisoned for them. It’s not clear what exactly the on-court plan is. … Right now, the Lakers are a Play-In team that is just getting older and worse in a conference steadily getting younger and better.”

At least they’re not alone, even in their own city. Bill Reiter wrote about how both the Lakers and Clippers have fallen into mediocrity.

👎 Not so honorable mentions

🏀 More NBA offseason winners, losers


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Los Angeles isn’t the only multi-team NBA city. On the other side of the country, Brad Botkin ranked the Nets dealing Mikal Bridges to the Knicks as the best move this offseason, as it accomplishes goals for both teams. The Knicks are deeper, more versatile and simply better. The Nets got a ton of draft picks and are bottoming out ahead of what should be a loaded 2025 draft class.

As such, both teams land in the “winners” column of Brad’s offseason winners and losers. Not every team was so lucky, though. While most title contenders — Knicks included — got better, one in particular got worse:

  • Botkin:Loser: Denver Nuggets — Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was Denver’s best point-of-attack defender and a perfect offensive component within the Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray galaxy — in which he fired 3s and cut for layups and curled off two-man actions for pull-up mid-range jumpers with attention always shifted elsewhere. … As it looks right now, Denver will only look to replace Caldwell-Pope internally, probably by promoting Christian Braun into the starting lineup. Braun is a nice spark-plug player. He’s not KCP. Denver was already low on shooters and it just got worse.”

🌭 Why Joey Chestnut won’t be at hot dog eating contest


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There will be a big name — the big name — missing from today’s Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. Sixteen-time champion Joey Chestnut won’t compete, meaning we’ll have a non-Chestnut winner for the first time since 2015. Chestnut, who holds the all-time record with 76 hot dogs and buns eaten at the 2021 event, has won 16 of the last 17 contests. 

Just under a month ago, Major League Eating barred Chestnut from the competition due to his endorsement deal with Impossible Foods, which makes vegan hot dogs and competes with Nathan’s.

Chestnut detailed in an interview that he would be open to a return in the future.

However you regard eating contests, not having the GOAT is a bummer. It’s like a prime Tiger Woods missing a major … but if there was only one major per year. In terms of competitiveness, this actually might make this year’s contest better considering how dominant Chestnut has been, but stars make competitions go ’round. This year just won’t be the same. 

📺 What we’re watching Thursday and this weekend


🎾 Wimbledon, 6 a.m. on ESPN
🌭 Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, noon on ESPN2
Cardinals at Pirates, 12:35 p.m. on ESPN+
 Copa America — Quarterfinal: Argentina vs. Ecuador, 9 p.m. on Fox


🎾 Wimbledon, 6 a.m. on ESPN
 Euro 2024 — Quarterfinal: Spain vs. Germany, noon on Fox
 Euro 2024 — Quarterfinal: Portugal vs. France, 3 p.m. on Fox
Phillies at Braves, 7:20 p.m. on Apple TV+
 Copa America — Quarterfinal: Venezuela vs. Canada, 9 p.m. on FS1


🎾 Wimbledon, 7 a.m. on ESPN
 Euro 2024 — Quarterfinal: England vs. Switzerland, noon on Fox
🏀 Liberty at Fever, 1 p.m. on CBS
Red Sox at Yankees, 1:05 p.m. on FS1
 Euro 2024 — Quarterfinal: Netherlands vs. Turkey, 3 p.m. on Fox
🏀 Summer League: Lakers at Kings, 4:30 p.m. on ESPN
 Copa America — Quarterfinal: Colombia vs. Panama, 6 p.m. on FS1
🏀 Summer League: Heat at Warriors, 6:30 p.m. on ESPN
Brewers at Dodgers or Phillies at Braves, 7:15 p.m. on Fox
 Copa America — Quarterfinal: Uruguay vs. Brazil, 9 p.m. on FS1


🎾 Wimbledon, 7 a.m. on ESPN
⚽ Racing Louisville FC at Courage, 1:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network
🏀 Wings at Aces, 3:30 p.m. on ESPN
MLB All-Star Game pitchers/reserves announcement, 5:30 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Summer League: Lakers at Warriors, 6:30 p.m. on NBA TV
Red Sox at Yankees, 7 p.m. on ESPN

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