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Harlem Globetrotters Swanson, Rivers Join Samuelsson On Home Plate: New York Premiering Tuesday

Harlem Globetrotters stars ‘Hot Shot’ Swanson and ‘Jet’ Rivers join award-winning chef, entrepreneur, author and food activist Marcus Samuelssonin thenewest episode of the YES App original series Home Plate: New York premiering Tuesday, June 18 at 11 AM.

The YES App’s Home Plate: New York series features Samuelsson teaming up with New York Yankees stars and other high-profile athletes and entertainers to visit New York City restaurants specializing in food from the guests’ respective cultures and family heritages. 

The episode debuting on June 18 features series host Samuelsson, Swanson and Rivers visiting Sylvia’s, the world-famous soul food restaurant in Harlem known as “The Queen of Soul Food.”

Samuelsson is a renowned chef and restaurateur, owning multiple restaurants across the globe. He was the youngest chef to receive a three-star review from the New York Times and has won multiple James Beard Foundation awards including Best Chef: New York City.

Standing at 4’5,” Swanson is one of the team’s most celebrated athletes. Born in the Bronx and raised in Harlem, he started his basketball career playing college basketball at Monroe College in the Bronx. The 6’1” Rivers, who hails from Elizabeth, New Jersey, began his basketball career at Wagner College, where he was a two-time all-conference selection and led the team to their most victories during his four-year reign.

Among the episode’s highlights:

  • Sylvia’s chef Marcus Woods explains how his grandmother Sylvia Woods founded Sylvia’s in 1962 and built it up into a culinary and cultural institution still owned by the Woods family that is visited by global dignitaries, celebrities and locals
  • Marcus Samuelsson recalls coming to Sylvia’s to ask for advice for his restaurants, given the amount of knowledge and expertise Sylvia possessed.  Marcus Woods says that Marcus Samuelsson is like family to the Woods
  • ‘Jet’ and ‘Hot Shot’ help season and cook the restaurant’s signature fried chicken
  • Kenneth Woods, Marcus Woods’ father, says that when you come to Sylvia’s the first time, you are a guest, but the second time you come, you are family.

Previous Home Plate: New York episodes have featured New York Yankees ace pitcher Gerrit Cole and his wife Amy, The Sopranos stars Lorraine Bracco and Steve Schirripa, Olympic Soccer Gold Medalist Kelley O’Hara, former New York Rangers legend Henrik Lundqvist, NBA Hall of Fame player Tracy McGrady, four-time New York Yankees World Series Champion and Latin Grammy nominee Bernie Williams and New York Giants defensive lineman Kayvon Thibodeaux.

YES launched the YES App in March 2021 for authenticated users in its regional coverage territory, and it quickly became the #1 free sports app in the Apple App Store.   Direct-to-consumer access to the YES Network has been available through the YES App since March 2023.  In addition to providing fans with a live stream of the YES Network, the YES App features a variety of app-exclusive original sports and lifestyle programming similar to Home Plate: New York.

The app also serves up customizable push notifications, personalized content, live stats, play-along games and watch-party functions in conjunction with YES’ exclusive Yankees and Nets telecasts. It has won two New York Emmy Awards in its first two years of eligibility.  Fans in YES’ regional coverage territory can access the YES App by going to www.watchyesnetwork.com.

Kitman Labs Strikes Deal With Top Club In J1 And WE League, Tokyo Verdy

Kitman Labs, the global enterprise SaaS platform providing the only single, centralized operating system for performance intelligence in Sports, today agreed to launch its advanced operating system with Tokyo Verdy. The deal will include the immediate deployment of iP: Intelligence Platform across the Academy Teams (M’s U9-U18; W’s U15, U18) and is ultimately expected to expand to include the Men’s First Team (J1 League) and Women’s First Team,Nippon TV Tokyo Verdy Beleza (WE League – Japan Women’s Empowerment Professional Football League).

The Academy will be utilizing the Performance Medicine, Performance Optimization and Coaching & Development Solutions in iP – combining medical, performance and talent development data into a centralized, interactive data and analytics system to unlock player performance outcomes and inform talent development strategy. iP will ultimately enable the Club to integrate and unify all data and analytics from the Academy to the men’s and women’s first teams in one platform.

This “whole club data solution” will serve to drive cross-departmental collaboration, eliminate data and information silos, and provide internal stakeholders with a complete, real-time view of each athlete for the purposes of unlocking performance potential and systemizing a talent development pipeline.

The analytics capabilities enabled by The Intelligence Platform will allow us to support our coaches, practitioners and athletes with the information necessary to make objective, evidence-based decisions across every aspect of the Club and more specifically, across the areas of player health, performance and development,” said Takaaki Nakamura, President of Tokyo Verdy. “From a player and pathway development perspective, we can now combine the unique approach and philosophy of the Verdy Method with the data science of the platform to create a more informed, repeatable strategy for success across all teams.”

“We’re thrilled to partner with Tokyo Verdy as they look to integrate a robust data and analytics infrastructure into the Organization – informing both tactical and strategic decision-making and ultimately, leveraging that intelligence to accelerate the advancement of the clubs within their respective leagues,” said Stephen Smith, CEO and Founder of Kitman Labs.

Kitman Labs has an established track record of working with top teams and leagues across a variety of sports, including soccer, basketball, rugby, and American football. The company’s technology has been used by some of the world’s most elite soccer organizations, including Bayer Leverkusen, Chelsea FC, Liverpool FC and Sporting Lisbon. Kitman Labs recently announced the launch and deployment of The Football Intelligence Platform across all Premier League Academies, MLS Next and the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).

The company represents the industry’s largest network of elite and youth organizations (2000+), creating the industry’s largest dataset of talent, performance, and medical data for all stages of the athlete lifecycle.

Florida Edges Edmonton in Seven Games in Strat-O-Matic Simulation of NHL Championship

Carter Verhaeghe scored a series-high five goals, including the game winner in the seventh game as Florida topped Edmonton, four games to three as Strat-O-Matic (@strat-o-matic), the market leader in sports simulation games, simulated the NHL championship series which begins Saturday in Sunrise, Fla.

Florida got off to a fast start in the series, taking the first two at home by counts of 5-4 and 6-2. The Panthers won the opener on a tiebreaking goal by Anton Lundell midway through the third period, then used two goals in each period and sharp goaltending from Sergei Bobrovsky (32 saves) for the Game 2 triumph.

When the scene switched north of the border, Edmonton rebounded with two straight wins, 3-1 and 5-2, with Connor McDavid scoring four, including a hat trick in Game 4, then won at Florida, 2-1, to get to within a game of the title.

But Florida scored four unanswered third-period goals to erase a 4-1 Oilers lead in Game 6 to send it back to the Sunshine State, where Verhaegue’s marker with 12:39 left broke a 2-2 tie before tallies by Matthew Tkachuk, his fourth of the series, and Gustav Forsling, iced Game 7 at 5-2.

Edmonton was led by McDavid’s five goals and four by Zach Hyman.

Game 1 1  2  3     F

Edmonton   3  0  1  –  4  

Florida    3  0  2  –  5  

Game 2 1  2  3     F

Edmonton   1  0  1  –  2  

Florida    2  2  2  –  6

Game 3     1  2  3     F 

Florida    0  0  1  –  1  

Edmonton   2  0  1  –  3

Game 4     1  2  3     F 

Florida    1  0  1  –  2  

Edmonton   2  1  2  –  5

Game 5     1  2  3     F 

Edmonton   1  1  0  –  2  

Florida    0  0  1  –  1

Game 6     1  2  3     F 

Florida    0  1  4  –  5  

Edmonton   3  1  0  –  4

Game 7     1  2  3     F 

Edmonton   0  2  0  –  2  

Florida    2  0  3  –  5

Boston Wins 18th Title over Dallas in Five Games in Strat-O-Matic Simulation

In a battle between the deeper, more balanced Boston squad and top-heavy Dallas, it’s the Celtics who came out ahead in a five-game NBA Finals as Strat-O-Matic (@strat-o-matic), the market leader in sports simulation games, simulated the championships series which begins Thursday in Boston. Fans may recall that the Celtics were tabbed as the champion in Strat-O-Matic’s preseason simulation as well.

Paced by the trio of Jayson Tatum (28.4 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 5.6 apg), Jaylen Brown (26.2/7.0/3.8) and Derrick White (19.4/6.0/5.0), with support from former Mav Kristaps Porzingis (16.4/6.6/2.4) and Jrue Holiday (12.8/5.2/7.2), Boston used that depth to its advantage in taking a 2-0 series lead at home with competitive 135-127 and 128-124 victories.

After Dallas pulled to within two games to one with a 115-108 win at home, Boston took game four, 118-103, and game five back home, 123-103, by more comfortable margins, for its 18th championship.

Dallas’s Luka Dončić led all scorers in the series at 35.6 ppg, nearly averaging a triple double with 9.6 rpg and 9.0 apg, and Kyrie Irving contributed 26.8 ppg and 5.6 apg.

Game One 1 2 3 4 TOT
DALLAS 24 46 32 25 127
BOSTON 39 38 27 31 135
Dal: Dončić 38, Irving 21; Bos: Tatum 36, Brown 25

Game Two 1 2 3 4 TOT
DALLAS 25 29 36 34 124
BOSTON 27 29 38 34 128
Dal: Dončić 35, Irving 31; Bos: Tatum 34, Holiday 24

Game Three 1 2 3 4 TOT
BOSTON 24 29 26 29 108
DALLAS 24 23 38 30 115
Bos: Brown 27, Porzingis 22; Dal: Dončić 43, Irving 24

Game Four 1 2 3 4 TOT
BOSTON 29 25 31 33 118
DALLAS 35 13 29 26 103
Bos: Brown 26, Tatum 24; Dal: Dončić 26, Irving 26

Game Five 1 2 3 4 TOT
DALLAS 30 35 19 19 103
BOSTON 32 37 33 21 123
Dal: Dončić 36, Irving 22; Bos: Brown 31, Tatum 27

Buffalo Bandits’ Back-to-Back Championships Cap Record-Setting NLL 2023-24 Season

A record-setting sellout crowd for the clinching championship game, a significant uptick in content consumption across all media channels, and the historic launch of its new grassroots youth participation initiative are among the superlatives as the National Lacrosse League (@NLL) closed its 37th season with a second straight Buffalo Bandits’ title with a pair of wins over the upstart Albany FireWolves in the NLL Finals presented by AXIA Time.

The NLL’s first-ever brand campaign, “Welcome to The Next Major League” kicked off a transformative season for the largest professional lacrosse league in the North America:

  • The total NLL attendance of 1,150,369, inclusive of the regular season and playoffs, marks the second straight year that the League surpassed one million in attendance.
  • The Bandits’ championship was the sixth for the franchise, tying the Toronto Rock and Philadelphia Wings for most in NLL history.
  • The Bandits are the first back-to-back champions in the NLL since the Edmonton and Saskatchewan Rush did so in 2015 and 2016. In all, eight teams have won consecutive NLL championships.
  • Buffalo’s Josh Byrne became the fifth player in NLL history to win both the regular season and Finals MVP awards. Dane Dobbie was the last to achieve the feat in 2019.
  • The NLL engaged more fans than ever across its official media channels, including a 42% increase in social video views. (source: Emplifi)
  • The League’s broadcast team produced 135 regular season and 10 playoff games, totaling approximately 365 hours of coverage. Additionally, more than 100 games were produced and distributed in NLL team markets across the U.S. and Canada, adding more than 250 hours of live game coverage to fans via local outlets.
  • The NLL expanded its League-wide activation of the award-winning Every Child Matters initiative, with all 15 teams participating in a campaign helping to bring awareness to the forcible placement of Indigenous children in residential and boarding schools by the Canadian and United States governments from the 19th century to as recently as 1996.
  • The NLL moved forward with its most significant grassroots initiative ever, creating NLL UnBOXed™, a school-centric curriculum and equipment endowment platform aiming to introduce the NLL’s fun, sixes-style game play to a new generation of fansin more communities across North America. The campaign opened with eight new “NLL UnBOXed Lacrosse Communities” joining the 15 existing NLL teams for the 2024 launch.
  • Buffalo’s Dhane Smith set the all-time playoff assists mark, notching nine in Game 1 on Friday to set the mark, and adding five more in the championship-clinching Game 2 on Saturday. His career total of 125 passed John Tavares (116). Smith also added four goals in the two-game sweep, moving into fifth place on the all-time playoff list with 63.

NLL Finals presented by AXIA Time summary:

(4) Buffalo Bandits vs. (3) Albany FireWolves

  • Game 1 – Buffalo 12, at Albany 9, Friday, May 17
  • Game 2 – at Buffalo 15, Albany 13, Saturday, May 18

UFL Launches Performance Medicine Solution From Kitman Labs As Advanced EMR

The United Football League (UFL) and Kitman Labs, the sports technology and analytics company setting the industry standard for how elite sports organizations use data, today announced the deployment of the Kitman Labs Intelligence Platform (iP) as the new EMR of record for the League, inclusive of the 8 member teams.

The Performance Medicine Solution – one of four Solutions offered as part of Kitman Labs’ iP: Intelligence Platform – will provide the centralized technology and infrastructure to automate and power accurate, league-wide medical data collection and analysis, drive collaboration among all relevant league and team stakeholders, yield actionable intelligence to support specific performance outcomes and enable data-led decision-making and research.  

Each Team in the UFL will operate from a distinct, configurable system designed to support their respective operating philosophy and will aggregate and mobilize all player medical data in one integrated platform – providing an accurate, real-time view of each player from a health, injury and readiness perspective.

iP: Intelligence Platform will enable the UFL and Teams to:
• Unify, consolidate and standardize league-wide medical documentation and data collection – eliminating data gaps, inconsistencies and inaccuracy and facilitate club-level compliance
• Collaborate and align relevant internal stakeholders across both the Medical and Performance Teams to support evidence-based decision-making around player health, care and wellness
• Enable practitioners to spend less time dedicated to data collection, analytics and administrative oversight and more time with athletes
• Establish a solid and complete data set to support ongoing and future league-wide research initiatives and innovation 
• Establish a data and analytics infrastructure that can scale, adapt and grow as the League continues to evolve
 
“The UFL needed to ensure that we unify data, people, and processes around shared infrastructure and technology to support the continued improvement and evolution of both the League and teams,” said Phil Hedrick, Director of Athletic Training, UFL. “Kitman Labs’ iP and Performance Medicine Solution allows us to provide best-in-class technology and tools to empower our medical teams, practitioners, and players while leveraging medical data to advance player health, wellness, and performance outcomes across the League.”
 
“It’s clear that the UFL is laying the foundation for sustainable growth and innovation at the League and Club-level.  By deploying a league-wide medical solution, the UFL is providing a platform not only capable of aggregating and analyzing disparate data sets and ensuring data integrity, but powering the advanced analytics and actionable intelligence necessary to maximize player health and performance outcomes,” said Stephen Smith, Founder & CEO Kitman Labs. “Each team within the UFL will have a configurable operating system, designed to support the unique needs of their particular club and operating style, providing each with the insights necessary to support data-led decision-making at every level of the organization ”
 
Kitman Labs has an established track record of working with top governing bodies, leagues, teams and athletes across a variety of sports, including soccer/global football, basketball, rugby, and American football. The company’s technology has been used by teams in some of the world’s most elite sports organizations and universities including the NFL, NBA, Premier League, MLS, NWSL and NCAA.
The company represents the industry’s largest network of elite and youth organizations (2000+) and iP: Intelligence Platform represents the industry’s largest dataset of talent, performance, and medical data for all stages of the athlete lifecycle..
 
For more information about Kitman Labs, visit www.kitmanlabs.com.

AXIA Time joins the expanding NLL partner roster as the ‘Official Timepiece of the NLL’

The National Lacrosse League (NLL) today announced a new, multi-year partnership with AXIA Time as the “Official Timepiece of the NLL” and the presenting partner of the upcoming 2024 NLL Finals presented by AXIA Time that starts this Friday between the defending NLL champion Buffalo Bandits and the Albany FireWolves.

AXIA (pronounced ahx-EE-ah) Time creates heirloom-quality timepiece to commemorate life’s biggest moments. AXIA has been rapidly expanding its portfolio of partners and events. Notable recent projects include ultra-custom timepiece for the University of Michigan’s college football national championship and the University of Connecticut’s men’s basketball back-to-back national championship. Last week, AXIA Time unveiled its new collaboration with Zach Edey, Purdue University, and the Naismith Awards – commemorating Edey’s back-to-back Player of the Year honors.

“Storytelling is vital to the NLL as we advance towards our goal of becoming ‘The Next Major League’ in North America,” said Kurt Hunzeker, NLL Executive Vice President, Commercial Operations. “The biggest and best story of any NLL season centers on celebrating championship teams, and AXIA Time specializes in celebrating life’s biggest achievements and memorializing them in remarkable timepieces that tell so much more than time.”

“We wanted to create a premium item that players, coaches, and fans would appreciate and want to wear to remind them of one of the best times in their lives, and AXIA Time is the perfect partner to bring our vision to life,” Hunzeker said.

“As a life-long lacrosse person, it’s an honor to be partnering with the NLL to create ultra-custom, heirloom-quality timepieces for their fans, players, and partners,” said John Kanaras, AXIA Time founder. “The NLL is making great progress toward creating the next major sports league, and that aligns with our vision to make AXIA Time the next great watch brand in the U.S.”

The 2024 NLL Finals presented by AXIA Time begin Friday, May 17, 7 p.m. ET at MVP Arena in Albany before the series shifts to Buffalo’s KeyBank Center on Saturday, May 18 at 7:30 p.m. ET.

All 2024 NLL Finals presented by AXIA Time games will be televised live on TSN and on the TSN+ streaming service in Canada, and available live via ESPN+ in the U.S.

Fanatics Sportsbook & Casino Launches in New Jersey 

Fanatics Betting and Gaming, a subsidiary of Fanatics Holdings Inc, a global digital sports platform, launched the Fanatics Sportsbook & Casino today in New Jersey. Sports fans living in and visiting New Jersey will be able to download the Fanatics Sportsbook on iOS and Android and begin their Fanatics Sportsbook and Casino experience.  The Fanatics Sportsbook is now available to approximately 95% of the addressable online sports bettor market in the U.S.

On April 3, 2024, Fanatics Betting and Gaming completed its acquisition of the U.S. businesses of PointsBet.  Today in New Jersey, PointsBet customers’ username, password, account balance, rewards points and responsible gaming settings will be automatically migrated to the Fanatics Sportsbook. New Jersey is the final PointsBet state and marks the twentieth state for the Fanatics Sportsbook and fourth state for Fanatics Casino. 

The Fanatics Sportsbook makes being a fan easy with fast signup, easy betting, transparent withdrawals and is disrupting the sports betting industry with the following new features:  

  • Building a better sportsbook: The Fanatics Sportsbook app was built natively on iOS and Android. The design, speed and quality of the navigation experience rival the sports betting apps in the market today that were not built specifically for iOS and Android. 
  • FanCash: Get up to 5% FanCash back on bets, win or lose.  Every bet gets you closer to more rewards like team merchandise, bonus bets, and more.
  • Live Betting: Real-time game and stat updates keep customers informed.
  • Discover: Get everything a customer cares about—marquee games, key stats and trending bets delivered straight to the Discover feed. 
  • Search: Find promos, bets, and trending topics all from the advanced search functionality. Bet directly from the search results and spend time enjoying the game, not looking for a bet.
  • One App, One Wallet: Fanatics customers in NJ will now have a seamless sports betting experience and can travel to other legal sports betting states (like NY, PA and CT) to place wagers using one app and one wallet on the Fanatics Sportsbook.

As part of the launch in New Jersey, Fanatics Betting and Gaming will also launch its new online casino, embedded in the Fanatics Sportsbook app. The newly designed Fanatics Casino will feature a range of classic and popular casino favorites like roulette, slots and blackjack along with offering customers the following exciting new features: 

  • Play with IGT Play Digital: Fanatics Casino players can enjoy a range of highly engaging IGT PlayDigital games including many of the classic titles that iGaming players love including Cash Eruption™, Fortune Coin™ and Cleopatra™, as well as a suite of MegaJackpots™ titles, proprietary table games and video poker content.
  • Evolved Live Casino Games: Fanatics Casino has partnered with Evolution to provide customers with world-leading live casino games including Blackjack, Roulette, Craps, Baccarat and Poker variants. In addition, Evolution will provide Fanatics Casino with an exciting lineup of online slots, the award-winning Lightning Roulette, and many more. 
  • Wonderful New Games: Light & Wonder will provide Fanatics Casino with a wide range of the company’s first party titles, including top-performing games 88 FORTUNES™, JIN JI BAO™ ENDLESS TREASURES™, DANCING DRUMS EXPLOSION™, and ULTIMATE FIRE LINK™ CHINA STREET™. In addition, Light & Wonder will offer Fanatics Casino customers access to third party aggregated content from some of the world’s biggest studios such as Big Time Gaming, Reel Play and Hacksaw. 
  • Rewards: Casino customers can earn FanCash back on bets, spins and hands.
  • Fanatics Game Studios: Fanatics Betting and Gaming has produced exclusive content including the new Fanatics Blackjack and Fanatics Multi-hand Blackjack games developed in partnership with Boom Entertainment.    

National Lacrosse League Announces Finalists for 2023-24 NLL Awards

The National Lacrosse League (@NLL) today announced the finalists for its annual season-end awards honoring the best NLL players, coaches, and executives for the 2023-24 regular season.

Highlighting the major awards is the NLL Most Valuable Player honor, with two Buffalo Bandits – Josh Byrne and Dhane Smith — joining the Toronto Rock’s Nick Rose as finalists.

The award winners will be announced in advance of the 2024 NLL Finals.

Most Valuable Player

  • Josh Byrne – Forward – Buffalo Bandits
  • Nick Rose – Goaltender – Toronto Rock
  • Dhane Smith – Forward – Buffalo Bandits

Rookie of the Year

  • Owen Grant – Transition – Vancouver Warriors
  • Tye Kurtz – Forward – Albany FireWolves
  • Alex Simmons – Forward – Albany FireWolves

Goaltender of the Year

  • Doug Jamieson – Albany FireWolves
  • Chris Origlieri – San Diego Seals
  • Nick Rose – Toronto Rock

Offensive Player of the Year

  • Josh Byrne – Buffalo Bandits
  • Dhane Smith – Buffalo Bandits
  • Jeff Teat – New York Riptide

Transition Player of the Year

  • Ian MacKay – Buffalo Bandits
  • Shane Simpson – Calgary Roughnecks
  • Jake Withers – Halifax Thunderbirds

Defensive Player of the Year

  • Mitch de Snoo – Toronto Rock
  • Ryan Dilks – Vancouver Warriors
  • Brad Kri – Toronto Rock

Sportsmanship Award

  • Keegan Bal – Vancouver Warriors
  • Tom Schreiber – Toronto Rock
  • Lyle Thompson* – Georgia Swarm

Les Bartley Award (Head Coach of the Year)

  • Glenn Clark – Albany FireWolves
  • Curt Malawsky* – Vancouver Warriors
  • Matt Sawyer – Toronto Rock

General Manager of the Year

  • Glenn Clark – Albany FireWolves
  • Jamie Dawick – Toronto Rock
  • Curt Malawsky – Vancouver Warriors

Executive of the Year

  • John Catalano – President and Chief Executive Officer, Halifax Thunderbirds
  • Mike Hancock – Director of Communications and Lacrosse Operations, Toronto Rock
  • Oliver Marti – Chief Executive Officer, Albany FireWolves

Tom Borrelli Award (Media Person of the Year)

  • Teddy Jenner* – TSN play-by-play and co-host, “Off the Crosse Bar” podcast
  • Adam Levi – NLL.com, Inside Lacrosse, NLLPA contributing writer and host, “Lacrosse Matrix” podcast
  • Graeme Perrow – NLL Chatter

*denotes 2023 winner

Each NLL team had the opportunity to nominate and vote for each of the awards with the exception of Teammate of the Year, as each NLLPA Player Representative nominated a player from their team for this honor that was voted on by the NLLPA and its 15 Player Representatives. The Teammate of the Year will be announced with all awards’ winners.

The League added Offensive Player of the Year to the lineup of awards this year to align with the other position-based honors: Defensive Player of the Year, Transition Player of the Year, and Goaltender of the Year.

Once nominations were finalized, each NLL team cast three ballots for each award and select media were eligible to vote for all awards except Teammate of the Year and Executive of the Year.

Voting members selected their top five choices for each award among all nominated persons. Points were distributed for each first through fifth place vote as follows:

  • 1st Place – 10 points
  • 2nd Place – 7 points
  • 3rd Place – 5 points
  • 4th Place – 3 points
  • 5th Place – 1 point

The person that accumulated the most points will be announced as the winner, while the top three in each category are designated as the award finalists. The All-NLL and All-Rookie teams are determined by the top vote getters in each position-based award. The All-Rookie team will be made up of six rookies, regardless of position. The All-NLL First Team and All-NLL Second Team will be made up of six individuals – two forwards, one transition player, two defenseman, and one goaltender – per team.

Walter Johnson, Mickey Mantle, Sandy Koufax Items Head Most Valuable Items in New Heritage Auction

Countless offerings among the almost 3,200 available in Heritage’s May 16-18 Spring Sports Catalog Auction could serve as its centerpiece, its highlight — that one thing that belongs in a museum, if not a Hall of Fame. Like, say, the road New York Yankees jersey worn by Mickey Mantle during his final season in 1968, then signed and inscribed to a Yanks batboy. Or the photo-matched road Brooklyn Dodgers jersey Sandy Koufax wore during his rookie season in 1955 when he was not yet known as The Left Hand of God. Or the bat Ty Cobb used in 1922, his third — and final — season as a .400 hitter.

The list of must-sees and must-owns is seemingly endless, whether it’s a box of unopened Fleer basketball cards from 1961-62 or the pair of Adidas Crazy 8’s photo-matched to Kobe Bryant’s first All-Star Game in 1998. As has become tradition, the Spring Sports Catalog Event brims with the jerseys, sneakers, gloves, bats and helmets worn and used by some of sports’ most towering titans, from Willie Mays to Lionel MessiReggie Jackson to Gale SayersWarren Spahn to Tom BradyHank Aaron to Jim PlunkettCarl Hubbell to Terry Bradshaw. The abundance of photo-matched jerseys in this auction alone qualifies it as historic, as do the cards featured throughout, among them a near-mint 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle, a gem-mint Ty Cobb from the fabled Black Swamp find and the only known Elgin Baylor Topps card from 1969 graded a perfect 10.

But to begin, the relatively plain flannel jersey in this auction — gray, pinstriped, a small “W” stitched into each short sleeve — draws the eye first. It’s also a century-old jersey that still has tales to tell.

Collectors have always known who wore it: Walter Johnson, who spent all of his 21 seasons in the sun as the right-handed hurler for the Washington Senators. Johnson’s name is stitched into the collar in red cursive, just below the A.G. Spalding & Bros. label. We’ve always known, too, when Johnson wore it: during the 1919-1922 seasons, when the man sportswriter Grantland Rice called “The Big Train” was teammates with another right-handed pitcher, Eric “Swat” Erickson, to whom Johnson gifted the jersey upon Erickson’s retirement from the big leagues following his 1919-1922 stint with Washington.

Only days before this auction opened, Resolution Photomatching determined that the “one-time king of pitchers” — as Johnson was called in 1933’s Who’s Who in Baseball – wore this very jersey on April 29, 1920. That’s when the Nationals downed the New York Yankees 2-1 in front of 5,000 at the hallowed Polo Grounds.

Johnson recorded eight strikeouts that spring afternoon in New York, two coming against a newly minted Yankee right fielder named Babe Ruth, who recorded just a single hit (and RBI) against Johnson. The Big Train, who batted last in the Nats’ lineup, also got a hit that afternoon — a triple. In his 1920 book The Home-Run King, Ruth wrote that Johnson was “the best of them all.”

Earlier this month, Resolution photo-matched the jersey to a photo distributed by news agency Underwood & Underwood, whose caption heralds Johnson as “the unsurpassable speed twirler of the Nationals.” The photo also notes that Johnson’s “remarkable speed ball aroused all balldom several years ago” and that he pitched against the Yankees that April afternoon “with the same ‘pep’ that characterized his name.”

Two known Johnson jerseys have survived his storied career, during which The Big Train recorded 3,509 strikeouts (putting him at ninth on the all-time list), 417 wins (the most all-time behind only Cy Young’s 511 victories) and 110 shutout wins (still the record). One, from 1927, is on display at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. The other is in this auction.

“We have had the opportunity at Heritage Auctions to offer some incredible and museum-worthy jerseys over the decades,” says Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Auctions at Heritage. “But this Walter Johnson example, photo-matched to his first dual with the great Babe Ruth in Yankees pinstripes, certainly qualifies it as a cream-of-the-crop rarity.”

The Koufax and Mantle jerseys are no less significant, as they serve as sort of spiritual bookends to two mythical Hall of Famers who were each a king of New York — at least until the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles after Koufax’s three seasons playing for his hometown team.

The Dodgers jersey — worn by the native son of Borough Park, Brooklyn, when he was a 20-year-old rookie who made his debut in the fifth inning of a game against Milwaukee — has been photo-matched to two spring training games in 1956, when it was common for ballplayers to reuse the previous season’s uniforms. It has Koufax’s name embroidered into its tail, inside which Rawlings sewed washing and drying instructions — right next to the tag that reads “Set I 1955.” It hails from the collection of James Harwell, a Louisiana hurler who played minor-league ball for the Dodgers in the 1950s.

(The jersey would pair well with the PSA Mint 9 Koufax rookie card in this auction, one of just 25 of his 1955 Topps cards to receive the grade — with just three graded higher.)

NLL Announces Television Slate for National Lacrosse League Semifinals

The 2024 National Lacrosse League (@NLL) Playoffs will take center stage again this weekend with both best-of-three semifinal matchups on linear television in Canada and the U.S.

TSN features complete coverage of the top-seeded Toronto Rock (16-3) and defending champion and #4 seed Buffalo Bandits (12-7) series between the long-standing rivals. In the U.S., ESPNU will be the linear home for the second-seeded San Diego Seals (14-5) and #3 Albany FireWolves (12-7) first-ever postseason battle.

ESPNU will also present Game 2 of Toronto vs. Buffalo series. All NLL postseason games will also stream live on ESPN+ and TSN+.

The Toronto-Buffalo series, a rematch of last year’s NLL Eastern Conference semifinals, will feature the commentator team of Jon Abbott, Pat Gregoire,and Brianne Foley. Play begins with Game 1 on Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET from Hamilton, Ontario. Game 2 follows on Sunday live from Buffalo at 5:30 p.m. ET, with Game 3, if necessary, scheduled for Saturday, May 11, at 7 p.m. back in Hamilton, Ontario.

San Diego and Albany, a first-time playoff winner, opens on Friday at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT from San Diego, with Cooper Perkins, Nick Ossello,and Raine Michaels on the call. The teams travel to Albany for Game 2 on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET, with Brendan Glasheen, Dan Bahl,and Ashley Miller calling the action. Game 3, if necessary, is scheduled for Friday, May 10, at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT, with Perkins, Ossello and Michaels on the call.

The winners of each semifinal series will face off in the best-of-three 2024 NLL Finals, scheduled for Thursday, May 16, through Sunday, May 19, and Thursday, May 23, through Sunday, May 26. Additionally, should both semifinal series end in two games, the NLL may move the 2024 NLL Finals up to the preceding week.

To view the 2024 NLL Playoffs bracket, visit https://www.nll.com/standings/.

The complete 2024 NLL Playoffs semifinal round broadcast schedule:

(4) Buffalo Bandits vs. (1) Toronto Rock

  • Game 1 – Buffalo at Toronto, Friday, May 3, 7:30 p.m. ET, FirstOntario Centre, Hamilton, ON, TSN, ESPN+ (Abbott, Gregoire, Foley)
  • Game 2 – Toronto at Buffalo, Sunday, May 5, 5:30 p.m. ET, KeyBank Center, Buffalo, TSN, ESPNU, ESPN+ (Abbott, Gregoire, Foley)
  • *Game 3 – Buffalo at Toronto, Saturday, May 11, 7 p.m. ET, FirstOntario Centre, Hamilton, ON, TSN, ESPN+ (Abbott, Gregoire, Foley)

(3) Albany Firewolves vs. (2) San Diego Seals

  • Game 1 – Albany at San Diego, Friday, May 3, 10:30 p.m. ET, Pechanga Arena, San Diego, ESPNU, ESPN+, TSN+ (Perkins, Ossello, Michaels)
  • Game 2 – San Diego at Albany, Sunday, May 5, 3 p.m. ET, MVP Arena, Albany, NY, ESPNU, ESPN+, TSN+ (Glasheen, Bahr, Miller)
  • *Game 3 – Albany at San Diego, Friday, May 10, 10:30 p.m. ET, Pechanga Arena, San Diego, ESPNU, ESPN+, TSN+ (Perkins, Ossello, Michaels)

Kitman Labs Artificial Intelligence Platform Breaks Down Sleepers FOR NFL Draft

Kitman Labs, the global enterprise SaaS platform providing the only single, centralized operating system today revealed its first-ever sleeper predictions for the NFL Draft, being held the next three days in Detroit Michigan.

For the 2024 NFL Draft, Kitman Labs  used their Artificial Intelligence models on NCAA and NFL datasets from 2010 to present to identify players that they think will be successful in the NFL. Kitman Labs staff also spent significant time on site at the NFL Combine again this year, looking at all data sets provided and using their own AI to help project results.

Below highlights five sleeper picks, the Kitman AI believes could have significant potential for NFL success.

Bo Nix – Oregon – QB  

NFL Draft Projection: 5th QB Selected

Kitman AI Projection: 73% chance of NFL Success – 1st QB

Looking like coming in at a 2nd round pick, Bo Nix ranks as the most likely Quarterback to be successful in this year’s NFL draft. Looking at his college stats it is easy to see why the model has this belief. 34 passing Touchdowns in your final college season are required by the model to have a significant increase in NFL success – Nix has 11 more. He also surpasses the threshold for Yards by nearly 700, his completion percentage is over 6% higher than required. While his rushing stats are not standout, the number of yards gained last season is high enough to show athletic ability, and his yards per carry is significantly over the threshold required by the model to increase his success rate.

Joe Milton III – Tennessee – QB  

NFL Draft Projection: 10th QB Selected

Kitman AI Projection: 31% chance of NFL Success – 3rd QB

Something that is apparent when investigating what our model values in a successful NFL QB, is that it believes that a Quarterback must possess either absolute elite arm talent, or have the explosive rushing ability to make splashy plays.  While the AI model highlights that Milton’s does not rank amongst the elite prospects in passing, and punishes him accordingly, it sees his rushing ability and gives him a significant chance of lasting several years in the league. Coaches and GMs may feel they can mould an athletic prospect, seeing future potential, and this phenomenon is something the AI may well be reaching back to.

Kendall Milton – Georgia – RB

NFL Draft Projection: 17th Drafted RB

Kitman AI Projection: 12% chance of NFL Success – 4th RB

The Kitman Labs AI model shows that an ability to get into the end zone in college is the number one indicator of future NFL success, far more so than yards, efficiency, or speed. With 14 rushing touchdowns in his final college season, Kendall Milton exceeded the required threshold for NFL success by 3 touchdowns. Our model also surprisingly rewards physical stature, with a taller running back being more likely to be successful. Perhaps this is due to a taller player’s greater ability to effectively carry mass, or their ability to participate in an NFL passing game. Whatever the cause, at over 6’1” Milton is one of the taller backs in the draft and the model rewards this accordingly. While Kendall Milton does have some drawbacks – the model penalizing him for lack of receiving ability, and him not hitting a required threshold in rushing yards – his ability to put points on the board see him nearly twice as likely to be a successful NFL running back than the average prospect at his position.

Malik Washington – Virginia – WR

NFL Draft Projection: 21st Drafted WR

Kitman AI Projection: 42% chance of NFL Success – 3rd WR

In a stacked 2024 WR draft class – our model rates this is by far the best class of the last decade and a half – it’s not surprising that some top tier talent is going to go in later draft rounds. However, our AI model surprisingly projects Malik Washington as being one of the top prospects in this year’s class. College receiving yards is the main indicator of future NFL success and longevity, and with 1426 yards in his final season Washington has approximately 40% more yards than the model believes necessary for a significant increase in NFL success probability. His 40 time of 4.47 seconds is also deemed fast enough to stand up in the NFL. Though this is right on the threshold our model has identified, in combination with his receiving yards and other statistics it significantly increases his chances of success. Interesting nugget; Washington did not participate in the 20-yard shuttle in the combine, but the AI has inferred from his other statistics he would have excelled at this.

Tahj Washington – USC – WR

NFL Draft Projection: 29th Drafted WR

Kitman AI Projection: 22% chance of NFL success – 15th WR

Tahj Washington is a curious case for our AI model. Not having participated in the 20-yard shuttle, the 3 cone drill, or the 40-yard dash at the combine, there are a lot of unknowns about this player. However, given his receiving yards, and his strong showing in both the broad jump and vertical leap, the model has inferred that he would have competed well, particularly in the 20-yard shuttle. Having completed these tests at his pro day, a dataset the AI had no access to, we can see he is potentially slightly below average in the 40 and 20 yards drills, but elite in the 3 cone drill. How this information would have influenced the models is unclear; however, overall the 3 cone drill ranks as the third most important feature for projecting success, so while the exact inference was wrong the model has seemingly correctly identified some possible elite athletic behavior from other available statistics. Washington still only ranks as 15th in our list of receivers, but given he is projected to be a day 3 pick and his success probability is twice that of an average WR, he still may present significant value in the draft.

NLL Welcomes Tampa General Hospital as the First NLL UnBOXed Lacrosse Community Presenting Partner

A few months after launching its innovative continent-wide grassroots initiative, NLL UnBOXed™, the National Lacrosse League today announced its first local market, multi-year presenting partnership as Tampa General Hospital (TGH) will join the League to bring the NLL’s fast-paced lacrosse game play to more young boys and girls throughout the Tampa Bay area.

The “Tampa Bay Snowbirds™ presented by Tampa General Hospital” will begin the initial phase of NLL UnBOXed activations this year, with the League providing Snowbirds and TGH-branded lacrosse equipment to participating Tampa Bay-area elementary and middle schools for use in physical education classes for all students.

“A primary goal for NLL UnBOXed always centered on partnering with influential local leaders and community-driven companies to help us introduce and foster a new love of NLL-style, fast-paced lacrosse to young boys and girls across North America,” said Kurt Hunzeker, NLL Executive Vice President, Commercial Operations. “We are thrilled to begin this exciting journey with our friends at Tampa General Hospital and bring the Tampa Bay Snowbirds to life in Bay Area schools starting this fall.”

While the first wave of Tampa Bay-area schools who registered to bring NLL UnBOXed to their students will be announced in the coming weeks, any elementary and middle school administrators, athletic directors, and/or physical education teachers can request to become an inaugural participating school by registering at NLL.com/UnBOXed.

“Tampa General Hospital is committed to promoting health and wellness in our community to prevent illness and chronic health conditions,” said Kim Christine, administrator of community health and wellness at Tampa General Hospital. “This partnership not only helps us connect youth to the growing game of lacrosse, it allows us to invest in creating a healthier Tampa Bay.”

Tampa Bay joined seven other North American markets in the League’s inaugural class of “NLL UnBOXed Lacrosse Communities” unveiled in November 2023. To illustrate its commitment to growing box lacrosse participation and skill development across Canada and the United States, the NLL created community-relevant team names and bold brand identities for each of the nine markets: Baltimore Ghost Crabs™, Charlotte Cobras™, Minnesota Lake Dragons™, Montréal Castors™, Seattle Shipwrecks™, St. Louis Howlers™, Tampa Bay Snowbirds™ presented by Tampa General Hospital, and Utah Spikes™.

NLL UnBOXed will drive the expansion of the League’s current multi-national activation footprint to include approximately 60 North American communities by the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles when sixes lacrosse, similar to the NLL’s 6-on-6 box lacrosse game play style, returns as a medal sport for the first time since 1908.

Officially licensed NLL UnBOXed merchandise, including a wide selection of Snowbirds’ apparel and collectibles, will debut later this year with exclusive reveals all summer via the League’s social media channels.

The 2023-24 NLL regular season wraps up this week before the 2024 NLL Playoffs begin on Friday, April 26.

American Association Hires Chris Browne As Vice President-Sponsorships

The American Association of Professional Baseball has named Chris Browne as, Vice President of Sponsorships.  Browne brings more than 30 years of experience in professional sports, including 23 years as an executive in baseball.  

In his role, Browne will handle sponsorship services for the league, coordinate sponsor related jewel events including the All-Star Game, the Miles Wolff Cup, and Baseball Champions League in addition to other leaguewide initiatives.  

“Chris Browne brings to the American Association a long history in sports business.  Specifically, his ideas around activation and relationship building will provide the American Association with an accretive element beneficial to our sponsors,” said Joshua Schaub, American Association Commissioner.

Browne previously spent twelve years as Vice President and General Manager of the Kansas City Monarchs predecessor brand, the Kansas City T-Bones, during 2008-2020.  Under his leadership, the club was twice named Organization of the Year and appeared in two league championship series, winning the Miles Wolff Cup in 2018.  Browne was also recognized by the Kansas City Kansas Convention and Visitors Bureau with the 2011 Excellence in Hospitality Award and named Tourism Advocate of the Year in 2015.  

In 2019, Browne was named as the Kansas City Sports Executive of the Year by the Kansas City Sports Commission.  The prestigious award had previously been given to Kansas City Chiefs CEO/Owner Clark Hunt and Kansas City Royals VP/GM Dayton Moore.  

Most recently, Browne led Perfect Game USA’s Midwest operation in Kansas City.  

“I am thrilled to join the American Association office and their dynamic leadership team led by Commissioner Josh Schaub and Deputy Commissioner, Josh Buchholz.  I look forward to working with our staff, partners, and member clubs,” said Chris Browne.

A native of Kansas City, Browne started his career working as a Clubhouse Attendant and Bat Boy for seven years for the Kansas City Royals, including the 1985 World Champion season.  After completing his degree with an emphasis in Sports Management from the University of Missouri, Browne worked as an executive for the Class AA Jacksonville Suns (now Jumbo Shrimp) and was Assistant General Manager for Major Arena Soccer League’s Kansas City Comets.  

Browne resides in Lenexa, KS with his wife Becky, son Brett and daughter (Pee Wee) Reese.  

National Lacrosse League Playoffs Begin Saturday; Schedule to Feature Broadcasts on TSN and ESPNU

The National Lacrosse League’s (@NLL) new unified standings aimed to make every game count, and it took until its 135th and final regular season game to set the 2024 NLL Playoffs bracket and schedule. With Rochester defeating Philadelphia, 12-3, the postseason field of eight is set, with quarterfinal play beginning on Saturday, April 27.

The top-seeded Toronto Rock (15-3) and No. 2 San Diego Seals (13-5) are joined by the No. 3 Albany FireWolves (11-7) and No. 4 Buffalo Bandits (11-7) in hosting single-elimination quarterfinal games next weekend.

Two teams, the No. 7 Panther City Lacrosse Club (9-9) and No. 8 Rochester Knighthawks (8-10), punched their tickets based on the wild final weekend results.

This year’s field includes six teams that advanced to the postseason in 2023, including defending champion Buffalo.

TSN will feature Rochester at Toronto to start quarterfinal weekend on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET. ESPNU’s coverage will include the No. 5 Georgia Swarm at Buffalo Saturday night, 7 p.m. ET, and No. 6 Halifax Thunderbirds (10-8) at Albany on Sunday at 3 p.m ET. Every postseason game can be seen on ESPN+ and TSN+.

Here is the complete 2024 NLL Playoffs quarterfinals’ broadcast schedule (all times ET):

  • Saturday, April 27 – #8 Rochester at #1 Toronto, 4:30 p.m., TSN, ESPN+, TSN+
  • Saturday, April 27 – #5 Georgia at #4 Buffalo, 7 p.m., ESPNU, ESPN+, TSN+
  • Saturday, April 27 – #7 Panther City at #2 San Diego, 10 p.m., ESPN+, TSN+
  • Sunday, April 28 – #6 Halifax at #3 Albany, 3 p.m., ESPNU, ESPN+, TSN+

Quarterfinal winners advance to their respective best-of-three semifinal series, which will commence on Thursday, May 2, through Sunday, May 5, and continue Thursday, May 9, through Sunday, May 12.

The best-of-three 2024 NLL Finals are scheduled for Thursday, May 16, through Sunday, May 19, and Thursday, May 23, through Sunday, May 26.

Additionally, should both semifinal series end in two games, the League may move the 2024 NLL Finals up to the preceding week.

Exact dates and broadcast schedules for TSN and ESPN for the semifinals and NLL Finals rounds will be announced after the pairings and dates are set. To view the 2024 NLL Playoffs bracket, visit https://www.nll.com/standings/.

Kitman Labs Expands Performance Deal With NWSL Expansion Team, Bay FC

Kitman Labs, the global enterprise SaaS platform providing the only single, centralized operating system for performance intelligence in the elite performance industry, today announced a new deal with NWSL expansion team, Bay FC. On the heels of the NWSL’s deployment of the Performance Medicine Solution from Kitman Labs as its league-wide advanced EMR, Bay FC will expand the use of iP: Intelligence Platform across the Club’s First Team to include Performance Optimization and Coaching & Development.

Bay FC will now be able to combine player medical, performance and development data in a centralized and fully integrated advanced operating system – driving cross-departmental communication and supporting evidence-based, data-led decision-making across the Club. All relevant stakeholders will have access to a complete, real-time assessment of each player. In addition, both players and practitioners will be able to access and input data through a dedicated Coach and Player App to allow for real-time data capture on and off the pitch.

As a new club, it’s important to us that we lay a technology foundation that is best-in-class, scalable and capable of immediately providing value to our coaching staff and players in terms of yielding actionable intelligence to help unlock our performance, health and wellness goals,” said Lucy Rushton, Bay FC General Manager.

“We’re thrilled to be working with Bay FC to not only help expand their data and analytics infrastructure but to partner with the Club to leverage the resulting intelligence to help accelerate their success within the League” said Stephen Smith, CEO and Founder of Kitman Labs. “In addition to providing a flexible framework to support the Club where they are today, iP: Intelligence Platform will future-proof the Club – ensuring they have the ability to continually innovate in terms of data collection and data science capabilities while supporting the kind of advanced analytics and research necessary to help propel the team forward season after season.”

Kitman Labs has an established track record of working with top leagues, teams and regulatory bodies across a variety of sports, including soccer, basketball, rugby, and American football. The company’s technology is currently being used by leagues and teams within some of the world’s most elite sports organizations, including the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), Major League Soccer (MLS), Premier League and National Football League (NFL). Kitman Labs has recently announced deals with Angel City FC, Gotham FC and the Houston Dash.

Lax.com Announces Acquisition Of Industry Competitor Universal Lacrosse

Lax.com, the leading lacrosse e-retailer and team dealer, today announced a substantial expansion of their scope in the marketplace, acquiring one of its chief competitors, Universal Lacrosse. The acquisition makes Lax.com the largest ecommerce (Lax.com and Universallacrosse.com) and team dealer dedicated strictly to the sport of lacrosse. Lax.com will also be acquiring Universal’s 10 retail stores.

“This move puts Lax.com in a great position to scale the business. The addition of John Flanagan and his team provides the added talent to launch Lax.com into an exciting new chapter” stated John Arrix, CEO of Lax.com. “As we unite these two companies, we are poised to harness the unparalleled expertise of our lacrosse team sales force, and we will raise the bar for customer service excellence in the industry. Our unwavering commitment to seamless relationships with our valued customers will drive a transformation of the Lax.com online platform, bolstered by synergies with Universallacrosse.com and our array of digital properties,” continued Arrix.

John Flanagan, CEO and Founder of Universal, stated, “We are excited for the future. The strategic positioning of Universal Lacrosse stores will remain instrumental in servicing vital lacrosse communities, strengthening Lax.com’s omnipresence from online to team to retail and ensuring that customers can engage with us on their own terms. This comprehensive approach underscores our dedication to meeting diverse consumer needs and preferences.”

Looking ahead to the remainder of 2024 and beyond, Lax.com’s growth trajectory will be guided by the collective efforts of the veteran teams, united under a shared vision of success. Together, the platform can capitalize on synergies, innovate relentlessly, and propel our combined group to new apexes of accomplishment within the lacrosse market. Universal’s 10 retails stores will continue under the Universal name. Lax.com and Universal will continue to run separate ecommerce platforms. Universal’s team sales division will move under Lax.com.

Additional details on the new combined business will be available in the coming weeks.

Kitman Labs Expands Performance Deal With Houston Dash

Kitman Labs, the global enterprise SaaS platform providing the only single, centralized operating system for performance intelligence in the elite performance industry, today announced a new deal with the NWSL’s Houston Dash. Capitalizing on the NWSL’s recent deployment of the Performance Medicine Solution from Kitman Labs as its league-wide advanced EMR, the Houston Dash will expand the use of iP: Intelligence Platform to include Performance Optimization for the Club’s First Team.

The Houston Dash will now combine player medical data with performance data (eg. game, training, gym, physical testing and more) in a single, fully integrated advanced operating system. By combining the critical data sets in one integrated platform, stakeholders and practitioners alike will have access to a complete, real-time, 360 view of each player and the ability to generate the analytics, insights and actionable intelligence necessary to support evidence-based decision-making across the team. In addition, the centralized platform will enable cross departmental communication, collaboration and knowledge transfer, eliminating the information silos that can cause inefficiencies, misdiagnoses and subjectivity.

“In our pursuit of enhancing player health and performance, it’s imperative to consolidate data from disparate sources. By centralizing both data and personnel within a unified platform, we equip ourselves with the transparency and analytical tools crucial for informed decision-making and achieving our desired outcomes,” expressed Alex Singer, General Manager of Houston Dash.

“Fragmented data leads to internal confusion and inertia” said Stephen Smith, CEO and Founder of Kitman Labs. “Our technology enables teams like the Houston Dash to harness the power of data to inform strategic and tactical decision-making at every level of the organization. The centralization and integration of that data in a single advanced operating system means practitioners and players can spend less time collecting and interpreting data and more time applying insights and practical intelligence on the pitch.”

Kitman Labs has an established track record of working with top leagues, teams and regulatory bodies across a variety of sports, including soccer, basketball, rugby, and American football. The company’s technology is currently being used by leagues and teams within some of the world’s most elite sports organizations, including the National Football League (NFL), Premier League, Major League Soccer (MLS), National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU).

This launch follows other recent business strategy moves Kitman Labs has undertaken including two strategic acquisitions of The Sports Office and Presagia Sports. The combined companies represent the industry’s largest network of elite and youth organizations (2000+), creating the industry’s largest dataset of talent, performance, and medical data for all stages of the athlete lifecycle.

Elvis, Lennon, Monroe, DiMaggio Photos Key Historic Auction

Some 35 years ago, Jack Kramer asked a dear friend a favor: Would she make a scrapbook out of his mementos so he could relive fond memories stashed away and nearly forgotten long ago? The friend happily obliged Kramer, who was a solid right-hander in the majors from the late 1930s until the early 1950s — in fact, he won Game 3 of the 1944 World Series as a St. Louis Brown.

Kramer’s box contained newspaper clippings, programs, some baseballs — the usual keepsakes. But there was also something extraordinary in that box: the photograph of Mickey Mantle that became his 1951 Bowman rookie baseball card — a photo that’s “one of the true grails of Type 1 collecting,” according to no less an authority than Professional Sports Authenticator.

That photograph bats leadoff in Heritage’s Photo Legends Type 1 Showcase Auction on April 7.

While assembling that scrapbook, Kramer’s friend discovered a plain brown envelope bearing the New York Yankees’ logo, Yankee Stadium’s Bronx address and a handwritten note: “Pictures of 1952 New York Yanks all individuals.” Inside was an original, freshly printed set of 8-by-10 glossy black-and-white photos featuring members of the 1951 Yankees, for whom Kramer played his final season in the big leagues. They were taken by the team’s photographer, Bob Olen. Kramer was there alongside the legendary likes of Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto and a 19-year-old kid from Oklahoma named Mantle.

The photo is among the most defining of his career: Mantle wearing No. 6, with a bat perched on his right shoulder as he stares into the distance as though awaiting a pitcher’s delivery. This same image, colorized but otherwise barely altered, was used on Mantle’s first baseball card: the 1951 Bowman, the second-most valuable Mantle behind only the 1952 Topps card that reshaped a hobby. This immortal image was so perfect it was used time and again — for Mantle’s 1952 Berk Ross card and his 1953 Topps offering.

This photo, only the fourth known example of that iconic image, remained in that brown envelope for decades, sealed in a Ziploc bag and stored in a cedar chest. It has never been available at auction until now.

Olen’s 1951 photo of Mantle joins an auction rife with makers of monumental moments depicted in more than 120 familiar, beloved and iconic images developed from the original negative.

That’s how PSA defines Type I photos: “A 1st generation photograph, developed from the original negative, during the period (within approximately two years of when the picture was taken).” They have become among the most coveted collectibles in recent years, as desired as any Ansel Adams landscape of the American West, Dorothea Lang Depression-era portraits or Annie Lebowitz celebrity session, given their role in documenting history in the present tense.

Shortly after PSA authenticated the Mantle photo, they proudly posted it to social media. The offerings in this auction are all PSA-authenticated, and they run the gamut from triumph to tragedy, sports to space, entertainment to editorial. Many were used in newspapers and magazines and meant to be disposable — publicity photos promoting Jane Fonda’s star-making turn as Barbarella or the latest James Bond movie or a new TV show called Star Trek, news photos of President John F. Kennedy in his limo driving through Dallas or lying in state in the Capitol Rotundaportraits of Mantle’s Yankee teammates or a 1978 party pic of KISS’ Gene Simmons with a young Brooke Shields.

Fanatics Betting and Gaming Closes its Acquisition of the US Businesses of PointsBet

Today, Fanatics Betting and Gaming (FBG), a subsidiary of Fanatics Holdings Inc., closed on the final state, Illinois, in its previously announced acquisition of the U.S. businesses of PointsBet.  PointsBet Holdings Limited (ASX:PBH) confirmed receipt of the final installment of the headline purchase price of $225 million and has transferred the remaining entities to FBG, including all of the remaining entities that make up PointsBet’s United States sports wagering, advance-deposit wagering and iGaming operations, Banach Technology, a copy of the PointsBet platform and a license to use that proprietary technology platform. 

The acquisition accelerated the company’s growth plans, making the Fanatics Sportsbook available to 95% of the addressable online sports bettor market in the U.S.  By the end of the month, Fanatics Betting and Gaming will be operating online in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia, pending regulatory approvals. Fanatics Casino is available online in Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia with New Jersey to follow. Fanatics Betting and Gaming will also provide the betting operations to nineteen retail locations, including the only retail sportsbook inside an NFL stadium at Commanders Field in Maryland. 

“The acquisition of the US businesses of PointsBet has super charged our expansion plans,” said Matt King, CEO of Fanatics Betting and Gaming.  “In addition to our migration of PointsBet customers and technology to the Fanatics Sportsbook and Casino platform, we have also added an incredibly talented team of passionate leaders from the ranks of PointsBet USA that have already made an impact on our business.” 

Mark Hughes and Aonghus Mulvihill will join the executive leadership team at Fanatics Betting and Gaming from PointsBet USA.  In addition, more than 200 PointsBet employees are joining FBG in a variety of roles and the company has taken over the leases of the former PointsBet offices in Denver, CO and Dublin, Ireland.  

Over the last year, Fanatics Betting and Gaming has been seamlessly migrating PointsBet customers onto the Fanatics Sportsbook and Casino platform and incorporating PointsBet’s risk management platform and quantitative driven trading models from Banach Technology to enhance its market offerings. The Fanatics Sportsbook is the most rewarding online sportsbook giving customers up to 5% of their wager back in FanCash.  The Fanatics Sportsbook makes being a fan easy with fast signup, easy betting and transparent withdrawals.  The design, speed and quality of the navigation experience rival the sports betting apps in the market today that were not built specifically for iOS and Android.  The newly designed Fanatics Casino is embedded in the Fanatics Sportsbook app and features a range of classic and popular casino favorites like roulette, slots and blackjack.  Fanatics Betting and Gaming has also produced exclusive casino content including the popular Fanatics Blackjack game developed in partnership with Boom Entertainment.