Bryce’s B-Day Bash


By: Jeff Yoder

Good Morning 

I found out yesterday that I’m older than Bryce Harper, but I still can’t grow a beard that luxurious. Philly’s athlete beards are superb — Bryce Harper, James Harden, Jason Kelce. There must be something in those cheesesteaks…

We go coast to coast in today’s edition, from Philly to Los Angeles, and we’ll take a look at the preseason college basketball poll. But first, some pick ‘em praise.

Letter Rip!


Happy Harper: Bryce’s Birthday Bash

Photo: Elsa / Getty Images

Phillies Take NLCS Game 1 Behind 3 HRs (5-3), Rangers Continue Perfect October With Game 2 Win (5-4)

We’re one step closer to a Phillies-Rangers World Series, but not just yet. Philadelphia took Game 1 of the NLCS against the Diamondbacks with a home-run barrage on Bryce Harper’s birthday, and the Rangers just refuse to lose in October. Texas (7-0) and Philadelphia (6-1) are a combined 13-1 this postseason. It’s 1-0 (NLCS) and 2-0 (ALCS), respectively, but there’s a lot of ball to play in the Championship Series.

NLCS Gm 1: Phillies def. D-Backs (5-3)

Happy birthday, Bryce Harper! The Phillies superstar celebrated his 31st birthday with a home-run in the 1st inning just moments after Kyle Schwarber hit a first-pitch, lead-off solo blast. It was 2-0 Phillies in the blink of an eye. They proceeded to tack on another dinger from Nick Castellanos in the 2nd, and rung up a 5-0 lead by the 5th inning to back Zack Wheeler’s gem (6 IP, 8 Ks, 3 Hits, 2 Runs). Wheeler eventually gave up two in the 6th. Philly held on for a Game 1 win, and Red October continues. PHI Leads Series (1-0)

ALCS Gm 2: Rangers def. Astros (5-4)

Another night in Texas, another win for the Rangers in October. Texas also had a fast start in Game 2, jumping out to a 4-0 lead before the Astros even stepped to the plate. Houston responded, though, and Yordan Alvarez piped two home runs to make things interesting. Nathan Eovaldi (6 IP, 9 Ks, 5 Hits, 3 Runs) managed to keep the Astros in check. Make it seven straight playoff wins for Texas, and a commanding 2-0 lead before heading back to Arlington for Games 3, 4 and 5. TEX Leads Series (2-0)

Tonight’s Schedule

NLCS Gm 2: D-Backs at Phillies (8:07 pm, TBS)

Read More

ESPN: B-Day Bash: Harper Celebrates Birthday With HR & Game 1 Win

MLB: Travis Kelce & Jason Kelce Embrace Their NLCS Era at Game 1 in Philly



MNF: California Cowboys

Photo: Michael Owens / Getty Images

Cowboys Stave Off Chargers (20-17) on Monday Night Football, Bounce Back From Week 5 Blowout

No laughs from Stephen A. Smith this week. The Cowboys went back to California for their second straight primetime game in the Sunshine State, but this time, they got it done. Dallas held off a late Chargers push (20-17) thanks to a key play in the 4th quarter and a defensive stop to ice it late. That play was a highlight you’ll see for the next 48 hours — one where QB Dak Prescott escaped the pocket and hit RB Tony Pollard with a throw across his body. Pollard scampered for a huge gain to flip the field. The Cowboys nearly coughed it away with a punt-return blunder that gave L.A. a game-tying TD in the 4th, but a much-needed win for Dak, Jerry (Jones), Mike (McCarthy), and the ‘Boys have righted the ship in Big D. 

Dallas ‘D’ in Overdrive: While Dak and the offense showed more life than last week, it was the Cowboys’ defense that continues to keep them in games. They only had one sack from Micah Parsons, but Monday marked the 19th game in the past two seasons where Dallas had 15-plus QB pressures. No other team is even close in that time frame (Chiefs: 15 games; Bills: 13 games). *Via ESPN Stats & Info

Dak Attack: Prescott did it all for the ‘Boys in primetime, logging season-highs in passing (272) and rushing yards (40). It was his best game on the ground and one of his most accurate air attacks of the season (70% completion).

QB Comparison

D. Prescott (DAL): 21/30, 312 total yards, 2 TDs

J. Herbert (LAC): 22/37, 247 total yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT

Other Top Performers

RB T. Pollard (DAL): 21 touches, 110 yards

WR C. Lamb (DAL): 7 receptions, 117 yards

WR K. Allen (LAC): 7 receptions, 85 yards, 1 TD

Watch: Cowboys Hold Off Chargers in L.A. (20-17)

Cowboys (4-2) / Chargers (2-3)

Read More

SI: Cowboys Get the Best of Kellen Moore, Chargers in Mistake-Filled ‘Revenge Game’

B/R: Cowboys & Dak Prescott Applauded by Fans for Bounce-Back Game



College Hoops Preseason Poll

Image: Jeff Yoder / The Sportsletter

Kansas Starts as Overwhelming No. 1 With Duke, Purdue & Michigan State in the Hunt

We’re 20 days away from the tip-off of the 2023-24 NCAA men’s basketball season. Yesterday brought the AP Preseason Poll, and we now know where teams stand before launching their upcoming campaigns. The Kansas Jayhawks were the overwhelming No. 1, but Duke, Michigan State and Purdue return with plenty of firepower. Last year’s Cinderella story from Florida Atlantic also starts the year at No. 10. 

Here’s how Preseason No. 1s have stacked up since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985:

  • 18 Reached Final Four (49%)
  • 6 Won National Title Game (16.2%)
  • 8 Lost in National Title Game (21.6%)
  • 28 Reached Sweet 16 (75.7%)
  • 1 Failed to Make NCAA Tournament (UNC, 2023)

Preseason AP Top-25

1. Kansas (46)

2. Duke (11)

3. Purdue (3)

4. Michigan State (1)

5. Marquette

6. UConn (2)

7. Houston

8. Creighton

9. Tennessee

10. Florida Atlantic

Rest of Top-25: 11. Gonzaga | 12. Arizona | 13. Miami (FL) | 14. Arkansas | 15. Texas A&M | 16. Kentucky | 17. San Diego State | 18. Texas | 19. North Carolina | 20. Baylor | 21. USC | 22. Villanova | 23. Saint Mary’s | 24. Alabama | 25. Illinois | Full AP Poll Article

*Stay Tuned for the Women’s College Basketball Preseason Poll



 NWSL Playoff Preview

The NWSL’s final day of the 2023 regular season did not disappoint in drama or chaos. The San Diego Wave won the NWSL Shield in their second season, and Angel City won a playoff spot on the final day. The Wave and Portland Thorns earned the top-two seeds and first-round byes. (The Athletic)

 Bill Belichick’s Anti-Masterpiece

There’s something about the feeling of permanence in this Patriots futility. It can’t be fixed in a bye week or explained away as a snapshot in time from one game. This is turning into a fresco painted into the walls and ceilings of the franchise. This is becoming Bill Belichick’s anti-masterpiece. (Yahoo! Sports)

 NBA Player Rankings (2023-24)

Which stars made or missed the cut? Which rookies are already making noise in the top 100? Where did MVP contenders such as Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, and reigning winner Joel Embiid check in? Where did LeBron James land as he enters season No. 21? (ESPN)





Today’s Must-Watch List

MLB Playoffs

NLCS Gm 2: D-Backs at Phillies (8:07 pm, TBS)


USMNT vs. Ghana (8:30 pm, TNT)


Lightning at Sabres (7:30 pm, ESPN)

Oilers at Predators (8:00 pm, ESPN+)

Avalanche at Kraken (10:00 pm, ESPN)

Stars at Golden Knights (10:30 pm, ESPN+)

*All Times ET

Download The Sportsletter’s Must-Watch Calendar