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Scenes: History in the heartland
In football, Nebraska — for the moment — is a has-been. A proud program ever on the search to regain the glory of its halcyon days, which seem farther away each year. In volleyball, though? For the sport’s winningest program, the halcyon days never left.
Its might was on full display last night, when a staggering 92,003 fans packed into Nebraska’s football stadium to watch the No. 4 Huskers defeat Omaha. It was a historic sight:
- The event set a world attendance record for a women’s sporting event, beating out the 2022 Champions League semifinal between FC Barcelona and Wolfsburg (91,648). Let me repeat: The most-attended women’s sporting event in the recorded history of our planet happened last night, and it was a college volleyball match.
- It felt like a capital-M Moment. Sellouts are the norm for Nebraska volleyball, a longtime powerhouse under coach John Cook, but their normal venue seats about 8,000. Last night comes as women’s sports are exploding in popularity across the board. And the atmosphere was electric.
- Mitch Sherman explained yesterday how the entire event came together — including the gem that this event sold out its initial allotment of 82,900 tickets in just three days. The story is worth a read, and it’s clear no other volleyball program could do this.
They even had a flyover before the match. Other women’s sports programs will surely try to top this number (some SEC school will make a good run at this, right?), but we’ll always remember this one as the first.
Very, very cool. If you missed it, just watch this walkout video to feel the vibes. Immaculate:
The tunnel walk to a stadium filled with thousands of volleyball fans 🤩
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) August 31, 2023
Milestones: An MLB gold card?
Every year, it feels like baseball gets more math-y. The sport lends itself to such a trend. Every play can be broken down into infinitesimal parts, each bit analyzed and used to project the future.
Stephen Nesbitt has a great story today on what MLB players actually value in their careers. Most care little about their final WAR or xFIP. It’s about career accomplishments, and not the ones you’d think, either. I grabbed a few interesting ones:
- Eight years of service: When a player reaches the threshold, he receives a literal gold card, which grants him and a guest free entry to any regular-season MLB game for life. I want to go to a game with a gold-card guy now.
- 160 games: Players call this “posting,” shorthand for posting up every day. It’s a feat of durability, highly valued among players. Just eight reached the 160-game mark last year.
- 100 strikeouts: This is only for relievers, and it’s a mark few reach every year. The life of an MLB relief pitcher can be stressful. Pressure abounds on every pitch. You are extremely replaceable. To reach 100 strikeouts signals a longevity and mental fortitude rare in the game.
Read the full story for more, including the feat that brought Freddie Freeman to tears.
News to Know
Colts GM: Taylor situation ‘sucks’
In a press conference yesterday, Colts general manager Chris Ballard lamented the Jonathan Taylor deadlock, but said the relationship between player and team was “reparable.” And yet the situation seems as bleak as ever — with no end in sight. Sorry, Colts fans.
Bosa won’t be traded
Speaking of contract situations: The 49ers and star defensive end Nick Bosa still cannot agree on a contract and, despite rumors, general manager John Lynch said yesterday the team would not trade Bosa anytime soon. Bosa has held out for all of training camp. It seems like a deal could get done soon, though.
Another Franco investigation
Authorities in the Dominican Republic are investigating a second formal complaint against Wander Franco about an alleged inappropriate relationship with a minor. In all, three underage girls have accused Franco of misconduct. Read the full update here.
- The sound you hear: sighs across the Cincinnati area. Joe Burrow returned to practice yesterday.
- Golfer Gary Woodland, the 2019 U.S. Open champion, is undergoing brain surgery in September.
- AAC commissioner Mike Aresco says the conference has “contingency plans” if SMU bolts for the ACC.
- An Inter Miami game happened in which Lionel Messi didn’t score. The 0-0 tie with Nashville diminishes playoff hopes for the MLS upstarts.
- Rising USMNT star Folarin Balogun is moving to Monaco from Arsenal after the two sides completed terms yesterday. For USMNT, it’s a good thing if Balogun gets consistent playing time.
The Good Bets: Football’s on tonight
Big Nebraska day in this newsletter: The football Huskers, who caught some strays up top, have a chance to make their own good headlines as legit Week 1 action begins. Two notables for this evening:
- Florida at No. 14 Utah
8 p.m. ET on ESPN
- Nebraska at Minnesota
8 p.m. ET on FOX
Early Week 1 games means early Week 1 bets. We are riding high after going 2-0 in last week’s picks. Surely the streak will continue here. Full Week 1 bets:
- Utah (-6.5) over Florida: The Gators might be real, real bad this year. I believe in Utah’s roster more than Florida’s, even if quarterback Cam Rising is hurt. The Utes get at least a touchdown of separation.
- West Virginia (+20.5) vs. Penn State: The Nittany Lions will probably be great this year, but that line is massive. I’m taking the points.
- LSU (-2.5) vs. Florida State: I guess I have to pick this one. My heart hopes for a blowout Tigers win. My brain tells me it will be stressful. LSU wins by a field goal — not blocked this time — to get revenge for last year.
More: Expert picks | Best bets
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(Photo: Steven Branscombe/ Getty Images)