Yahoo Sports AM: The Caitlin Clark Effect

In today's edition: The Caitlin Clark Effect, $100M NBA players are on the horizon, Team USA's American football failure, and more.

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🚨 Headlines

⚾️ Last day to vote: The MLB All-Star starters will be revealed tonight (7pm ET, ESPN). You have until noon to cast your ballot.

🎾 First-round stunners: No. 6 Andrey Rublev lost his Wimbledon opener to No. 122 Francisco Comesaña; No. 6 Markéta Vondroušová, the defending champ, lost her opener to No. 83 Jessica Bouzas Maneiro.

⚽️ The last dance: Cristiano Ronaldo says this will be his last European Championship. The Portugal star is the tournament's all-time leading scorer with 14 goals.

🏀 March Madness lawsuit: Over a dozen former men's college basketball players are suing the NCAA, six conferences and Turner Sports for the unauthorized use of their NIL in March Madness advertisements.

⚾️ Marlins DFA Anderson: In 2019, Tim Anderson won the AL batting title with the White Sox. On Tuesday, he was designated for assignment by the Marlins as his years-long downward spiral reached a new low.

🏀 The Caitlin Clark Effect

Clark takes a shot in front of a sold-out crowd in Las Vegas. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Clark takes a shot in front of a sold-out crowd in Las Vegas. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Caitlin Clark has had a profound impact on the WNBA since arriving in April, and the evidence was everywhere on Tuesday night.

Historic attendance: Clark's game against the defending champion Aces posted the WNBA's largest regular-season attendance since 1999, with 20,366 fans at a sold-out NHL arena.

  • The Aces' popularity surely played a role in that number, as they were already the first team in WNBA history to sell out all regular-season home games.

  • But make no mistake: The whole reason this game was moved to T-Mobile Arena (home of the Golden Knights) was due to increased ticket demand stemming from Clark's popularity.

All-Star voting: The Fever point guard was named an All-Star, finishing first in the fan voting portion that counts for 25%. Just look at how many more fans voted this year than last year… It's incredible what's happening.

Top vote-getters (2023):

  1. A'ja Wilson: 95,860 votes

  2. Breanna Stewart: 87,586

  3. Brittney Griner: 72,637

  4. Aliyah Boston: 72,294

  5. Jackie Young: 63,262

Top vote-getters (2024):

  1. Clark: 700,735 votes

  2. Boston: 618,680

  3. Wilson: 607,300

  4. Stewart: 424,135

  5. Angel Reese: 381,518

Meanwhile, on the viewership front… Here are the WNBA's average numbers across all networks (as of last week):

  • Clark games: 1.18 million

  • All other games: 428k

  • All games this time last year: 301k

A rising tide lifts all boats: Clark is a massive draw, attracting eyeballs unlike any other player. But the WNBA's other teams are seeing a 42% increase in viewership, too.

🏀 A $100 million player? It could happen sooner than you think

(Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo Sports)
(Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo Sports)

Jayson Tatum and Paul George both signed gargantuan contracts this week, with Tatum landing the richest deal in NBA history ($63 million annually) and George joining the 76ers on the league's eighth-richest active deal ($52.8 million annually).

Those eye-popping numbers beg the question: Could an NBA player eventually make $100 million per year?

  • What was once considered impossible is now very likely — and it could happen sooner than you think thanks to the life blood of all pro sports leagues: TV money.

  • The NBA is currently negotiating new media rights deals worth a reported $6.9 billion annually over 11 years, which is more than double the $3 billion the league will get next season in the final year of its contracts with Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery.

  • A primary beneficiary of that enormous increase? NBA players, whose salaries are a direct reflection of league-wide revenue.

When could this realistically happen? The NBA could have its first $100 million player by the 2032-33 season, notes The Athletic's Mike Vorkunov ($).

"That's assuming a salary cap of $141 million next season, as the league currently projects, and then 10% cap-raises after that. Under that forecast, the salary cap would hit more than $302 million, which would allow a number of players to cross the $100 million threshold."

🏈 Team USA failed to medal... in football?

Team USA during their win over Panama. (USA Football)
Team USA during their win over Panama. (USA Football)

American football was invented in the United States, where it has become a religion. So how the heck did Team USA fail to even medal at last week's Junior World Championship?

Fourth-place finish: The U.S. finished fourth at the U-20 tournament, where they were joined by Panama, Japan, Austria, Brazil, Australia and host Canada, which fielded two teams.

  • After routing Panama, 86-12, in the first round, Team USA lost to Japan, 41-20, in the semifinals and fell to Austria, 32-25, in the bronze medal game.

  • Canada won its third straight gold medal, and fourth overall, with a 20-9 win over Japan, which became the first nation outside of North America to finish in the top two.

How did this happen? In short, we didn't send our best. The tournament roster featured only a handful of three- and four-star recruits, and the team selection process — from tryouts to training — was mostly done virtually.

It wasn't always like this: Team USA used to dominate this event, reaching the first four gold medal games and winning twice. At the inaugural event in 2009, they went 3-0 with a combined score of 174-3 behind multiple future NFL players including All-Pro Bills safety Jordan Poyer.

  • Many other NFL players have gone through the junior national team, including Jameis Winston, Chase Young, Todd Gurley and Trevon Diggs.

  • In 2018, they failed to reach the gold medal game for the first time, which should have been a wake-up call. Instead, things only got worse at this year's tournament.

The big picture: While the main story here appears to be the decline of Team USA's junior football program, it's also fair to wonder: Is the rest of the world catching up? They've got a ways to go before that becomes a real conversation, but the sport is indeed growing abroad.

Looking ahead: The Senior World Championship is next year, the first time it's been held in a decade. The Americans are three-time defending champs and will be heavy favorites, but as this tournament showed, nothing is guaranteed if they don't bring the A-Team.

📸 Photo of the week

Taka Higashino of Japan competes in the Moto X Best Trick at X Games California. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Taka Higashino of Japan competes in the Moto X Best Trick at X Games California. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

What a photo…

📆 July 3, 1966: Pitcher hits two grand slams

Cloninger lugs around an armload of bats after his historic day at the plate. (Robert
Cloninger lugs around an armload of bats after his historic day at the plate. (Robert "Sammy" Houston/AP Photo)

58 years ago today, Braves righty Tony Cloninger became the first and only pitcher to hit two grand slams* in the same game.

What a day: Cloninger also threw a complete game in Atlanta's 17-3 win over the Giants, and he added an RBI single for good measure. His nine RBIs that day were more than he had in any other season in his 12-year career.

More on this day:

*Two grand slams in a game: Cloninger is one of 13 players to accomplish the feat, joined by Yankees 2B Tony Lazzeri (1936), Red Sox 3B Jim Tabor (1939), Red Sox 1B Rudy York (1946), Orioles 1B Jim Gentile (1961), Tigers OF Jim Northrup (1968), Orioles RF Frank Robinson (1970), White Sox 3B Robin Ventura (1995), Orioles C Chris Hoiles (1998), Cardinals 3B Fernando Tatís (1999), Red Sox SS Nomar Garciaparra (1999), Red Sox 3B Bill Mueller (2003) and Nationals OF Josh Willingham (2009). Tatís is the only one to hit both in the same inning.

📺 Watchlist: Euro and Copa quarters

Kylian Mbappé and Cristiano Ronaldo, seen here in a 2020 match, will face off on Friday. (Franck Fife/AFP via Getty Images)
Kylian Mbappé and Cristiano Ronaldo, seen here in a 2020 match, will face off on Friday. (Franck Fife/AFP via Getty Images)

The Euro and Copa América quarterfinals take place over July 4th weekend, as both continental championships narrow their fields to the final four.

  • Thursday: Argentina vs. Ecuador (9pm ET, Fox)

  • Friday: Spain vs. Germany (12pm, Fox); Portugal vs. France (3pm, Fox); Venezuela vs. Canada (9pm, FS1)

  • Saturday: England vs. Switzerland (12pm, Fox); Netherlands vs. Turkey (3pm, Fox); Colombia vs. Panama (6pm, FS1); Uruguay vs. Brazil (9pm, FS1)

More to watch:

  • 🎾 Wimbledon: Second Round through Round of 16 (Wed-Sun, ESPN/ESPN+/ABC)

  • 🚴‍♂️ Tour de France: Stages 5-9 (Wed-Sun, Peacock)

  • 🌭 Competitive Eating: Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest* (Thu. 10:45am, ESPN App/ESPN2)

  • ⚾️ MLB: Tigers at Reds (Fri. 7pm, Apple); Phillies at Braves (Fri. 7pm, Apple); Red Sox at Yankees (Sat. 1pm, FS1; Sun. 7pm, ESPN); Diamondbacks at Padres (Sun. 4pm, Roku)

  • 🏀 WNBA: Sun at Lynx (Thu. 8pm, Prime); Mystics at Aces (Thu. 10pm, Prime); Liberty at Fever (Sat. 1pm, CBS); Wings at Aces (Sun. 3:30pm, ESPN)

  • ⚽️ MLS: 27 games (Wed-Sun, Apple)

  • ⚽️ NWSL: Portland vs. San Diego (Fri. 10pm, Prime); Chicago vs. Houston (Sat. 1pm, ESPN); North Carolina vs. Louisville (Sun. 4:30pm, CBSSN)

  • ⛳️ PGA: John Deere Classic (Thu-Sun, ESPN+/Peacock/Golf/CBS) … At TPC Deere Run in Illinois.

  • 🏁 F1: British Grand Prix (Sun. 10am, ESPN2)

  • 🏁 NASCAR: Chicago Street Course (Sun. 4:30pm, NBC)

  • 🏁 IndyCar: Grand Prix of Lexington (Sun. 1:30pm, NBC)

  • 🥍 PLL: Week 5 (Fri-Sat, ESPN2/ESPN+)

  • 🏀 BIG3: Week 4 (Sun. 1pm, CBS)

*The GOAT's new plans: With 16-time champion Joey "Jaws" Chestnut banned from the event for signing a deal with vegan brand Impossible Foods, he's taking his talents to a different contest at an army base in Texas.

⚽️ Soccer trivia

(Stefan Milic/Yahoo Sports)
(Stefan Milic/Yahoo Sports)

Question: Which Copa América quarterfinal matchup has the lowest combined FIFA world ranking between the two teams?

Just to clarify: Lowest means best in this context (i.e. No. 1 vs. No. 2 would be the lowest possible matchup).

Answer at the bottom.

⚽️ The save of his life


Mert Günok made the save of his life on Tuesday in the waning seconds of Turkey's 2-1 win over Austria.

The call on Türkiye TV: "MERT! MERT! MERT! MERTTTT!"

Trivia answer: Brazil (No. 4) vs. Uruguay (No. 14)

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