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Sigh, Realignment

We are dizzy

As each hour passes, I become more convinced conference realignment is being decided by a poorly coded AI chatbot. Every single update is sillier than the last. Take yesterday’s development as evidence:

  • The ACC is considering adding Stanford and Cal. California teams joining the Atlantic Coast Conference, whose most western member is Louisville? Sure! How would it work? Who knows! Nothing makes sense anymore.

That would leave Oregon State and Washington State as the last remaining survivors of the zombie Pac-12, currently conference-less in 2024 until our next chat prompt is answered. Maybe the Sun Belt has a spot for them. The Mountain West would actually make a lot of sense, but there’s no precedent for sense in these times.

Though this bicoastal move seems unlikely, I understand why moves are happening in general. It’s kinda all about football, but it’s really all about money, as Chris Vannini wrote yesterday. It’s just going to be a mess. The Big Ten’s coast-to-coast logistics will be a nightmare, even for bigger sports like basketball, where coaches have “zero clue” how it’ll all work.

How does this all end? I think football ends up in its own entity, separate from other varsity sports at each school, playing in its own tournament and abiding by its own rules. It’ll still make gobs of money, but it will feel more hollow.

But we still have one more season of normalcy, which we should all savor, as Ari Wasserman points out. And we even have our first coaches’ poll out today. The top five:

1. Georgia
2. Michigan
3. Alabama 
4. Ohio State
5. LSU

See the rest of the list here, including our thoughts on who’s most overrated. Surely not LSU.

P.S. I thought this piece on Arizona’s role in the Pac-12 disintegration was great, mainly for the dynamite quote from Arizona president Robert Robbins comparing the conference’s proposed Apple media rights deal to “selling candy bars for little leagues.”


Things You Need to See

The art of ejections

Aaron Boone has not had a great time as Yankees manager. But man, the guy can get thrown out of a game in style. Just look at the form last night:

There is an artistry to managerial ejections, something we don’t see in any other sport. Imagine Sean McVay running onto the field and mimicking a ref bungling a call like that. It would never happen. But Boone gets to express himself, just like that time he got ejected while informing the umpire his players are “f—ing savages” in the batter’s box.

The last-place Yankees lost last night, 5-1, to fall further out of playoff contention. It’s another file in what’s been a disastrous season.


News to Know

Anderson suspended
The message from that Guardians-White Sox brawl over the weekend is clear: It’s worse if you start a fight, not if you land the biggest punch. MLB suspended Tim Anderson six games over the brouhaha, while sidelining José Ramírez for three. Both managers were suspended for a game each. Ramírez plans to appeal.

Matt Ryan’s ‘s—show’
The former Falcons and Colts quarterback opened up to The Athletic’s Josh Kendall about his last 18 months, which included a trade, a benching, and enduring last season’s “s— show” in Indianapolis. Ryan also said that while he’s preparing for life in the CBS booth this season, he’s staying in shape in case someone needs a QB.

More news:


Blunders

The O’s fumble the spotlight

About 40 miles south of Baltimore, there is an entire fanbase celebrating the departure of a loathed owner. Thanks to Dan Snyder’s exit in Washington, it is really, really easy to be a good sports owner in the general vicinity right now, PR-wise. And yet, Orioles ownership appears keen to crash the party.

As The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli confirmed yesterday, the team took announcer Kevin Brown off the air for what can only be described as doing his job. A few dumb layers here:

  • On July 23, Brown was performing his normal on-air pregame routine just before the Orioles played the Rays in Tampa. Brown pointed out a simple fact: Baltimore has won as many games at Tropicana Field in 2023 as it did in the last three years combined. Impressive, right?
  • Ownership didn’t think so, determining the comment somehow made them sound cheap, according to Ghiroli’s report. The Orioles did start this year with the second-lowest payroll in the majors, but to connect the comments feels like a stretch. Still, Brown got the boot.
  • Even worse: The statistic was in the game notes provided by the team’s PR staffThe call is coming from inside the house. On a completely innocuous stat that makes your current team look good. I’m losing my mind here.

It’s just an absolute looney tunes situation, and this all comes with the team in first place, enjoying its best season since, if we sort by winning percentage, 1997. Imagine messing up that goodwill.

Ghiroli has plenty more reported details in the full story, which illustrates how well-liked Brown is. The comment section is also full of fans asking for the Angelos family to sell the team. Fun.

And don’t miss her column on the whole situation, which points out the absurdity of not calling Brown’s absence a suspension. Multiple broadcast teams across baseball ridiculed the decision, too. I thought the Mets’ Gary Cohen was especially sharp.

Later this morning, Ken Rosenthal and Levi Weaver will share their thoughts on the mess in The Windup.


Pulse Picks

What’s in a signature? I loved Cody Stavenhagen’s piece today on how MLB players develop their autographs. There’s a lot more to this practice than a scribble.

Paul Tenorio takes us inside the Messi roadshow, which includes a whole new set of security concerns for Inter Miami and the MLS teams it visits.

The SEC has been pretty quiet in this last realignment round. In Seth Emerson’s latest mailbag, he wonders if Florida State could fit.

Forget the soccer transfer window — it’s also F1 silly season. Luke Smith has rumblings on Lewis Hamilton, Daniel Ricciardo and more.

On the podcast front, Robert Mays and Nate Tice predicted the top 10 defenses in the NFL this year. Those two are a must-listen as football inches nearer.

Ian Mendes has more on the Erik Karlsson trade, specifically how his legacy has always been tied to Pittsburgh. Now he gets to write another chapter wearing the uniform.

(Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/ Getty Images)



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