2023 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship
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Good morning to everyone but especially to...


If there's one thing LSU knew how to do this season, it's bounce back. There were consecutive series losses in May, a tough SEC Tournament exit in June and the need for consecutive triumphs against Wake Forest, the nation's top team, just to reach the College World Series Finals last week

So after being on the wrong end of a record-setting thumping from Florida in Game 2, the Tigers did what they did best, responding with a historic walloping of their own: an 18-4 beatdown to claim the program's seventh national title.

  • It looked like Florida's offensive explosion would carry over when star Wyatt Langford launched a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning.
  • Then came LSU with a six-run second inning, knocking two-way star Jac Caglianone out of the game in the process.
  • The relievers didn't fare much better. Overall, LSU notched a MCWS-record 24 hits. Stars Dylan Crews and Tommy White combined for eight hits, five runs and four RBI, and Josh Pearson and Brayden Jobert both homered for the Tigers.
  • Thatcher Hurd allowed just two runs over six innings to earn the win.

LSU started the season ranked No. 1 and, now, ends it as champions. What a year for the Tigers.

Honorable mentions

Not so honorable mentions

Damian Lillard meets with Trail Blazers ownership: What comes next? 🏀

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Damian Lillard has preached loyalty over and over and over again.

Now, he and the Blazers have seemingly doubled down again. Lillard met with team brass Monday to discuss the future of the franchise and his reported "serious interest" in joining the Heat.

  • In a statement, GM Joe Cronin said, "I met with Dame and [agent] Aaron Goodwin this afternoon. We had a great dialogue. We remain committed to building a winner around Dame." If that sounds more like a non-statement than a statement, you're not wrong.
  • Lillard, 32, has spent his entire career with Portland and is the franchise's all-time points leader. He's a seven-time All-Star and was named to the NBA's 75th Anniversary Team.
  • Despite Lillard's accolades and individual brilliance, the Trail Blazers have made the conference finals just once -- where they were swept by the Warriors in 2019 -- with him and have missed the playoffs each of the last two seasons, when Lillard has played in 87 of a possible 164 games.

The Trail Blazers drafted explosive point guard Scoot Henderson third overall last week, a move that earned them an A+ in our draft grades and was the right decision, according to our Brad Botkin. Still, it furthered questions two timelines: the win-now Lillard timeline vs. the future timeline headlined by Henderson (19 years old), Shaedon Sharpe (20) and, potentially, Anfernee Simons (24) -- if he isn't traded away.

Long story short, it's an awkward fit for a team in an awkward position, writes our Sam Quinn. We'll see what Portland does to make good on Cronin's statement.

NHL Awards: Connor McDavid joins exclusive company with third Hart Trophy 🏒

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It's not necessarily the hardware he wanted to be holding at the end of the year -- the chase for that elusive Stanley Cup continues -- but Connor McDavid's third career Hart Trophy puts him in some historic company after he received 195 of a possible 196 first-place votes.

  • McDavid is the fifth player to win three Hart Trophies (given to the league MVP) within his first eight seasons. The others are Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, Bobby Clarke and Alex Ovechkin
  • McDavid scored 153 points this season, becoming the first player to surpass the 150 mark since Mario Lemieux in 1995-96.
  • McDavid also won the Ted Lindsay award (most outstanding player as voted on by NHLPA) and had already secured the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy (top goalscorer) and Art Ross Trophy (top point scorer). His four individual trophies match the all-time record for a single season.

As for the guy trying to prevent goals, Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark won the Vezina Award. It's the fifth time a Bruin has won the award and the first since Tuukka Rask in 2014.

You can see all of the award winners here.

Hawks trade John Collins to Jazz, clear up cap space 🏀

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John Collins has been in trade rumors for years. Monday, he was finally, actually traded.

The Hawks are sending the talented 25-year-old forward to the Jazz in return for Rudy Gay and a future second-round pick.

  • The biggest reason behind the trade is money. Collins is due more than $78 million over the next three seasons (including a player option in 2025-26) after signing a massive extension with Atlanta in August 2021. With the move, the Hawks clear up a $25.3-million trade exception, which they can use to either add a player or extend one of their own, with Dejounte Murray, Onyeka Okongwu and Saddiq Bey as top candidates.
  • Collins emerged as a top young big man in the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season, averaging 21.6 points and 10.1 rebounds while shooting over 58% from the floor and over 40% on 3-pointers. But his productivity dipped after that season, and especially after signing the extension in 2021. He shot just 29.2% from deep this past campaign.

It may seem like a frustrating end to a frustrating time for Collins in Atlanta, but this is a win-win deal, writes our Brad Botkin in his trade grades.

  • Botkin: "Atlanta did what it had to do here. In a league that, under the new CBA, is about to make life hell on big spenders, the Hawks, who will reportedly remain active in trying to upgrade the roster, get under the tax (for now) and generate meaningful flexibility as they look ahead... The Jazz aren't in a rush. They have a wheelbarrow of draft picks after the Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert trades. They have cap space. Kicking the tires on Collins is pretty much all upside."

NFL training camp battles: Jets finally don't have QB problem, but have questions elsewhere 🏈

New York Jets v Miami Dolphins
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As soon as he takes the field in Week 1, Aaron Rodgers will be the best quarterback to ever suit up for Gang Green. Add in a terrific defense, and Jets faithful are rightfully as excited as ever.

But football isn't a simple equation of "new quarterback + strong defense = Super Bowl parade." And with training camp nearing, the Jets have plenty of key position battles to help support Rodgers, writes our Cody Benjamin.

  • Benjamin: "Jets wide receivers: Allen Lazard vs. Corey Davis vs. Mecole Hardman vs. Randall Cobb -- Reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Garrett Wilson is a lock to serve as Rodgers' No. 1. Beyond him, it's a crowded group vying for the No. 2/3 jobs.. ... Jets offensive tackles: Duane Brown vs. Mekhi Becton vs. Billy Turner -- If there's one camp battle that deserves far more attention than it'll get, it's this. ... While everyone talks up Aaron Rodgers' weaponry in New York, it's fair to be concerned with his protection on the edges."

Cody is spot-on with that last line. During his back-to-back MVP campaigns of 2020 and 2021, Rodgers was pressured on just 25% of his dropbacks, fourth-lowest of 37 qualifying players over that span. Last year, Jets quarterbacks were pressured on 35.9% of dropbacks, 26th in the NFL. That must be solved to keep all parties -- Rodgers in particular -- happy and productive.

Oh yeah, and it looks like Hard Knocks may be on hand to document it all. You can see all of Cody's top training camp competitions here.

What we're watching Tuesday 📺

🏀 Liberty at Sun, 7 p.m. on NBA TV
Twins at Braves, 7:20 p.m. on TBS
🏀 Wings at Mercury, 10 p.m. on CBS Sports Network