Getty Images

This is an article version of the CBS Sports HQ AM Newsletter, the ultimate guide to every day in sports. You can sign up to get it in your inbox every weekday morning here.

⚾ Good morning to everyone but especially ...


The 2024 Baseball Hall of Fame vote promised plenty of drama, and it did not disappoint: Adrián Beltré, Todd Helton and Joe Mauer are headed to Cooperstown. Beltré and Mauer were in their first year on the ballot; Helton was on his sixth. Those three join Jim Leyland, who was elected by the Contemporary Baseball Era Non-Players Committee in December, in the 2024 class.

  • Beltré was a no-doubter, garnering 95.1% of the vote (366 out of 385). He's one of 12 players with at least 3,000 hits and 400 home runs, and he complemented that with excellent defense, winning five Gold Gloves at third base. Beltré played for the Dodgers, Mariners, Red Sox and Rangers. Here are the top 10 moments of his career.
  • Helton spent his entire career with the Rockies, making five All-Star games, winning three Gold Gloves at first base and winning the 2000 batting title. After receiving just 16% of the vote in his first year on the ballot, Helton steadily climbed and just received 79.7% this year.
  • Mauer received 76.1% of the vote and, like Helton, spent his entire career with one team -- something that's becoming increasingly rare, writes Matt Snyder. The Twins' backstop won the 2009 AL MVP, won three Gold Gloves and is the only catcher in MLB history with three batting titles.
  • Here's the moment each player found out.

Billy Wagner (73.8%) fell five votes short of election but has one year left on the ballot, and Matt explained why Wagner is set up for success. Gary Sheffield (63.9%) fell off the ballot after his 10th and final year and joined the oh-so-close club.

That's a club two other big names hope to avoid, Matt notes:

  • Snyder: "Andruw Jones jumped from 58.1% to 61.6%. It's a gain, albeit a modest one. The pro-Jones camp would've loved to see more of a leap forward here in his seventh year on the ballot. ... Carlos Beltrán saw more than modest gains, going from 46.5% in his first year to 57.1% in his second. ... If a Beltrán fan asked me how it'll go down, I'd say to be cautiously optimistic that he makes it via the BBWAA vote, eventually. As for Jones, probably a little less optimism, but similar sentiment."

Matt also looked ahead to the 2025 class, which will feature Wagner in his final year and several intriguing first-year candidates, including Ichiro Suzuki.

👍 Honorable mentions

🦌 And not such a good morning for ...

Getty Images


Let's establish three facts right away:

  1. The Bucks are 30-13, second in the Eastern Conference.
  2. Adrian Griffin's 30-13 record -- a .698 winning percentage -- is fourth-best by any coach in NBA history.
  3. Griffin is no longer the Bucks' head coach.

Milwaukee fired Griffin just 43 games into his head-coaching career, a tenure that seemed rocky from the start.

The 30-13 record looks much better than the underlying numbers. Milwaukee is second in offensive efficiency but 22nd in defensive efficiency; last year it was 14th and fourth, respectively. But a defensive drop off was always in the cards with Lillard arriving and Jrue Holiday leaving; Brad Botkin says Griffin's inability to get the most out of Lillard offensively cost him his job.

Joe Prunty will take over as the interim coach, and the Bucks are already looking for a full-time replacement. Milwaukee has several potential candidates and reportedly reached out to Doc Rivers. Bill Reiter, however, says hiring Rivers would be a mistake.

👎 Not so honorable mentions

🏀 Heat acquire Terry Rozier from Hornets

Getty Images

The Heat were looking for an offensive boost. Terry Rozier was quietly having an excellent offensive season for the rebuilding Hornets. The seemingly perfect match came true Tuesday with Miami acquiring Rozier and sending a first-round pick and Kyle Lowry back to Charlotte.

  • Rozier, 29, is on track for career highs in points per game (23.2), assists per game (6.6) and field goal percentage (45.9%). Miami (24-19) is 20th in offensive efficiency this season.
  • The first-round pick that Charlotte received is lottery-protected in 2027 and, if it doesn't convey that year, unprotected in 2028. The 10-31 Hornets will try to trade Lowry, 37, ahead of the Feb. 8 trade deadline and could move other veterans as well.

It's a win-win trade, James Herbert writes in his trade grades.

  • Herbert: "Heat: A- ... Miami needs offense, and Rozier can provide it. He doesn't need to dominate the ball, but he can initiate offense and relieve Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro of playmaking responsibility. ... He gives Miami another player who can hunt mismatches and get buckets when opposing teams are switching and the halfcourt offense is getting bogged down."

🐓 South Carolina upsets No. 6 Kentucky


The nation's top-scoring offense ran into a roadblock, and Lamont Paris might just have something cooking after a rough first year. South Carolina throttled No. 6 Kentucky, 79-62, the Gamecocks' highest-ranked win since 2010 and their largest win over a top-10 team ever.

  • South Carolina made 11 of 24 (45.8%) 3-pointers, with Jacobi Wright making four. He entered the night shooting 22.7% from deep.
  • Against a Kentucky backcourt loaded with future NBA talent, Ta'Lon Cooper was the best player on the floor, tallying 20 points, six rebounds, five assists and zero turnovers. The last player to go 20/5/5/0 against Kentucky was Tim Quarterman in 2016.

It was the defense, though, that really impressed. The Wildcats entered the game averaging 91.6 points but fell woefully short of that. South Carolina was organized defensively, allowing just seven fast-break points against one of the nation's fastest teams. South Carolina, which won just 11 games last season, is already up to 16 this season and has matched its four-win SEC total from a year ago. This one will look really good come Selection Sunday, notes Kyle Boone.

  • Boone: "Entering Tuesday, South Carolina was projected as a No. 9 seed, according to CBS Sports Bracketology Expert Jerry Palm. But the resume was still relatively light. Beating Kentucky, which counts as South Carolina's second Quad 1 win, brings some insulation from the bubble for the time being."

🏀 NBA midseason awards and latest Power Rankings

Getty Images

In yesterday's newsletter, we highlighted midseason NBA grades. Today, we're focusing on midseason awards picks, which conveniently come after Joel Embiid's 70-point game. Five of our seven NBA writers picked Embiid to repeat as MVP, and that makes sense.

The number that might matter most, though, is games played: The NBA instituted a 65-game minimum for several honors, including MVP, this offseason. Embiid is on pace for 62. You can see our experts' awards picks and Finals predictions here.

Embiid's historic performance fueled the 76ers to the top of Colin Ward-Henninger's weekly Power Rankings, too. Here's the top five:

  1. 76ers (previous: 10)
  2. Celtics (2)
  3. Nuggets (6)
  4. Bucks (1)
  5. Clippers (9)

📺 What we're watching Wednesday

🏀 Oklahoma at No. 10 Texas (W), 7 p.m. on ESPNU
🏀 No. 8 Auburn at Alabama (M), 7:30 p.m. on ESPN
🏒 Hurricanes at Bruins, 7:30 p.m. on TNT
🏀 Suns at Mavericks, 8:30 p.m. on ABC
🏀 Kansas State at No. 23 Iowa State (M), 9 p.m. on ESPN2
🏀 Thunder at Spurs, 9:30 p.m. on ESPN
🏒 Blackhawks at Kraken, 10 p.m. on TNT