MLB

Serena Williams isn’t done just yet, plus the 49ers’ QB situation somehow gets weirder

Happy Tuesday morning, everyone. Hope you’re well.

Let’s get right to it.

Good morning to everyone but especially to…

SERENA WILLIAMS

Serena Williams sure knows how to host parties in Queens. She’s done it for more than 20 years, and this year’s party — however many there are — will be extra special. Ahead of her impending retirement from tennis and with a raucous, star-studded crowd behind her all the way, Williams opened her final US Open with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Danka Kovinic.

  • After going down 3-2 in the first set, Williams took control, rattling off four straight games.
  • In the second set, Williams’ dominant serve proved the difference. She won 16 of 19 service points in the set.
  • Williams is now 21-0 in first-round US Open matches.

It was a magical night for the six-time US Open champ, and we should appreciate her greatness — whatever form that takes — as long as we can, writes… hey, I wrote that! Here’s some more of my thoughts on the GOAT:

  • Pereles: “Often, the beauty of sport is that there can only be one winner. But this time, when it comes to this player at this tournament, the beauty is in the fight. The perseverance and the courage to try to overcome all the factors working against her. Williams certainly needed it during her rocky start, and we should consider ourselves lucky that we get to watch it, likely for the last time.”

Williams will face No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit tomorrow.

Honorable mentions

And not such a good morning for…


USATSI

JIMMY GAROPPOLO, TREY LANCE AND THE SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

It’s been roughly a year-and-a-half since the 49ers traded three first-round picks to move up to No. 3 in the 2021 NFL Draft and select Trey Lance. It was the beginning of the end for Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco. It’s now turned into one of the oddest quarterback situations in recent memory, and the team has no one to blame but itself.

Garoppolo on Monday agreed to a reworked one-year contract to stay with the 49ers and back up Lance after it appeared for months that Jimmy G would be on his way out of San Fran.

  • The reworked deal includes $6.5 million guaranteed and incentives that can take the deal all the way up to $16 million — still way down from his original 2022 base salary of $24.2 million but more than any backup quarterback.
  • The deal also includes no-trade and no-tag clauses, essentially guaranteeing Garoppolo is a free agent next year, unless he consents to a trade before then.
  • The 49ers gave Garoppolo’s agents permission to pursue a trade in July, but his high salary and shoulder surgery earlier this offseason meant a market never really developed.
  • Even going all the way back to May, head coach Kyle Shanahan expected Garoppolo to be traded.

If last year was a bridge year (which nearly ended in a second Super Bowl appearance in three years) before Garoppolo would leave the team, what is this year supposed to be? Shanahan has been emphatic that it’s Lance’s team, but Lance struggled in the preseason finale and now has an established starter looming over his shoulder.

Now, the 49ers have to balance necessary learning experiences for Lance with the fact that they are ready to win right now. Oh, and making this all the more interesting is that they have proved they can do that with Garoppolo at the helm. What the 49ers have done is move on from Garoppolo, but they haven’t really moved on from Garoppolo. Now they will have to hope Lance is ready or risk things somehow getting even more awkward than they are.

Not so honorable mentions

National championship predictions, Heisman picks and more from our experts 🏈


Graphic by Mike Meredith

Week 0 of the college football season is in the books, and, with all due respect to those games, Week 0 was a light appetizer and Week 1 is 10 main courses. It’s an absolutely loaded slate that includes three ranked matchups:

  • No. 11 Oregon at No. 3 Georgia
  • No. 23 Cincinnati at No. 19 Arkansas
  • No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 2 Ohio State

So, with college football getting into full swing, our experts have made their picks and projections for the upcoming season. Here are some big takeaways:

  • All 7 of our experts have both Alabama and Ohio State in the playoff.
  • Six of seven have Alabama as the No. 1 seed and Ohio State as No. 2.
  • After that, the most popular No. 3 is Georgia (click here to see everyone’s projected field).

Who wins it all? Five of our experts are rolling with the Crimson Tide, including David Cobb.

  • Cobb: “Legendary coach Nick Saban viewed Alabama’s 2021 season as something of a rebuilding year, yet the Crimson Tide still won the SEC championship and reached the CFP National Championship. With reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young back at quarterback and CBS Sports Preseason Player of the Year Will Anderson Jr. anchoring the defense, the Tide are an easy pick to finish the job and win the national title.

Young will try to join Archie Griffin as the only two-time Heisman Trophy winners. But the most popular pick to win college football’s top individual award is a different quarterback, per our experts.

Be sure to check out picks for most overrated and underrated teams, as well as plenty of other predictions here.

MLB Power Rankings: World Series contenders versus pretenders ⚾

With just over a month left in the regular season, the top of MLB reporter Matt Snyder’s Power Rankings have settled in. The Dodgers still reign supreme, followed by the Astros and Mets and then the Braves, Yankees, Cardinals and Phillies. All seven of those clubs were in the top seven last week, too.

Then come the Rays, winners of 12 of their last 16 and falling into Matt’s “Underestimate at your peril” category.

  • Snyder: “The Rays are dangerous because they are the Rays. This is one of those ‘if you know, you know’ things. It isn’t unreasonable to believe Shane McClanahan, Corey Kluber and Drew Rasmussen form a lethal top three in the playoff rotation while the Rays’ bullpen shuts everyone down and Playoff Randy Arozarena carries the offense.”

Of course, that’s not the top tier. There’s only one team in “The Terminator” tier: the Dodgers, who are threatening records left and right. Then there are three teams — I won’t give away which ones — in “The Other Powerhouses.”

Everyone loves some good tier rankings, and Matt has delivered them.

Who will win the 2023 NCAA Tournament? Coaches — yes, coaches! — make their picks 🏀


Graphic by Keytron Jordan

It’s one thing to have experts make their championship picks. Just scroll up a couple of sections and we have just that from our own experts. But it’s another thing to get the coaches of the sport to make their picks, and that’s exactly what college basketball insiders Matt Norlander and Gary Parrish did: they talked to nearly 100 Division-I basketball coaches and got their picks for who’s most likely to win the upcoming title in their excellent “Candid Coaches” story.

The most popular answer is no surprise. Here are the teams that got at least five percent of the vote:

  • 1. North Carolina (37%)
  • 2. Houston (28%)
  • 3. Gonzaga (20%)
  • 4. Kentucky (5%)

However, the results do show how bunched it is at the top: 12 different teams got at least one vote.

This was a really fun piece to read, and it makes me wish the offseason would hurry up and end. Oh well. We’ll make it through together!

What we’re watching Tuesday 📺

Sassuolo vs. Inter Milan, 12:15 p.m. on Paramount+
Inter Milan vs. Cremonese, 2:30 p.m. on Paramount+



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