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There might be an end in sight for the MLB lockout, plus Ja Morant makes history in second straight win

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Happy Tuesday everyone, and welcome to the best sports month of the year.

Let’s get right to it.

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Good morning to everyone but especially to…

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

OK, hear me out. There’s no deal done yet, but there’s also no games canceled… yet. And when it comes to the current battle between the MLB and MLBPA, at this point we’ll take no canceled games as good news.

After a long, long negotiation session that started Monday morning and bled into the early hours of this morning, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players’ Association still don’t have an agreement but the owners did extend their self-imposed Feb. 28 “deadline” that was supposed to be the last day before games would be canceled. The new deadline is today at 5 p.m.

Here’s what happened during the negotiations:

  • The two sides ended up agreeing on a 12-team playoff format. The matter of the competitive balance tax (a.k.a. the luxury tax) threshold — and the relating penalties for exceeding said threshold — discussions are ongoing. More trivial matters such as defensive shifting restrictions were also reportedly part of discussions. 
  • Back to the deadline: it was never official, but it was more a goal date. While this can’t really drag on much longer before games are impacted, we’re not there quite yet.
  • If you want a full timeline of the lockout as it creeps toward the three-month mark, you can check it out here.

While it’s not good that this “deadline” wasn’t met, I can’t stress enough how good it is that we haven’t canceled games yet, something commissioner Rob Manfred himself said would be “disastrous” a few weeks ago. The long negotiations last night seem like the first time there’s been hope that we may in fact get a normal, 162-game season. That still remains to be seen, but we may finally get an answer by 5 p.m. today.

Our MLB experts provided live updates to the lockout overnight and will be doing the same today, so follow along here. Make sure you have those live updates up as you cross your fingers, put on your lucky socks or do whatever else you need to do as we all hope today is the day this lockout finally, mercifully ends.

And also a very good morning to…

JA MORANT

On Saturday, Ja Morant broke the Grizzlies record for most points in a game. On Tuesday, Ja Morant broke the Grizzlies record for most points in a game.

No, it’s not a typo. Yes, it is amazing. After racking up 46 points Saturday in a strong win over the Bulls, Morant scored a jaw-dropping 52 points last night in a victory over the Spurs. Prior to Saturday, the Grizzlies had played 2,126 games, and no Grizzlies player had ever scored more than 45 points in a game. Morant’s now done it twice… in the last two games.

Here’s the list of players 22 or younger to score at least 45 points in back-to-back games his team won:

  • Ja Morant
  • LeBron James
  • Kobe Bryant
  • Rick Barry

That’s some pretty incredible company for a pretty incredible player. Morant’s absurd highlights last night — a huge dunk and a ridiculous buzzer-beater chief among them are the latest evidence that he is must-see TV, writes our NBA guru Brad Botkin:

  • Botkin: “If you’re a League Pass subscriber and you’re not checking out Grizzlies games on the regular, you’re making a mistake. If you’re not a League Pass subscriber, you may want to reconsider. Morant is worth the cost by himself. … Honestly, there are no words that can do proper justice to the show this guy has become.

Honorable mentions

Not so honorable mentions

Gonzaga, Arizona remain 1-2 in AP Poll; Bracketology heating up 🏀

After seven of last week’s AP Top-10 teams lost over the weekend, we knew Monday’s standings would look very different, and we were right. Gonzaga and Arizona remained at No. 1 and No. 2 respectively, but the rest of the top 10 got a major shakeup.

  • 1. Gonzaga (previous: 1)
  • 2. Arizona (previous: 2)
  • 3. Baylor (previous: 10)
  • 4. Duke (previous: 7)
  • 5. Auburn (previous: 3)
  • 6. Kansas (previous: 5)
  • 7. Kentucky (previous: 6)
  • 8. Purdue (previous: 4)
  • 9. Providence (previous: 11)
  • 10. Wisconsin (previous: 13)

No. 3 Baylor and No. 4 Duke were the only two top-10 teams that did not lose last week, hence their big jumps. Up top, even though Gonzaga lost at Saint Mary’s, the Bulldogs deserved to stay at No. 1, writes our college basketball reporter Gary Parrish.

  • Parrish: “They’re still 8-3 in Quadrant 1 games with zero losses outside of the first quadrant and wins over four schools in Monday morning’s updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings — namely No. 11 Texas Tech, No. 16 Texas, No. 17 Saint Mary’s and No. 20 UCLA. Their adjusted efficiency margin is still more than five points better than anybody else’s, according to KenPom.com. If the 2022 NCAA Tournament started today, they’d still be the No. 1 overall seed, according to CBS Sports Bracket Expert Jerry Palm.

Speaking of Jerry Palm’s Bracketology, Gonzaga is joined by Auburn, Arizona and Baylor as No. 1 seeds with Wisconsin, Kansas, Providence and Duke on the 2 line.

Derek Jeter steps down as Marlins CEO ⚾


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Citing differences in “the vision for the future of the franchise,” Derek Jeter stepped down as CEO of the Marlins — a position he had held for the last five seasons — on Monday Jeter joined the organization in 2017 as part of Bruce Sherman’s ownership group and had significant say in the team’s front office and baseball operations departments.

The abrupt departure — and reasoning for it — will raise some eyebrows. According to reports, Jeter expected to have $10 million to $15 million more to spend on the roster once the lockout is lifted, but that is no longer the case. Organizations not spending money and therefore not fielding the most competitive team they can has been a central issue during the lockout itself. Several current players, including Francisco Lindor and Justin Turner, praised Jeter’s decision to step away.

The Marlins went 295-412 with Jeter as CEO, the third-worst record in all of MLB over that span. However, the team has consistently been near the bottom of the majors in payroll during that time, too, and it let go of top-end talent such as Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, JT Realmuto and Marcell Ozuna shortly after Jeter arrived

The long rebuild has been just that — very, very long — and as seen Monday, it became longer than Jeter, who had one more year left on his contract, cared to stick around for.

Russia suspended from international soccer; IOC calls for ban on Russian athletes 🏆


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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to many sanctions in the sports world. On Monday, FIFA and UEFA suspended Russian teams from international competition, including the World Cup. This means…

  • Russia will not compete in the World Cup or World Cup qualifying. Russia was scheduled to face Poland on March 24. The winner of that match would have played the winner of Sweden-Czech Republic with a place in Qatar 2022 on the line.
  • Spartak Moscow has been removed from UEFA’s Europa League competition.
  • UEFA had already stripped Saint Petersburg of its status as host of the Champions League final, which will now be played in Paris.
  • UEFA is working on removing Russia’s women’s team from European Championships this summer.
  • UEFA also ended its relationship with Russia’s state-owned energy corporation Gazprom.

Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee called for Russian and Belarusian athletes to be banned from international events. If that proves not possible, the IOC recommended having athletes compete under a neutral country name — the IOC has used “Russian Olympics Committee” for example. Furthermore, the International Tennis Federation has suspended all events scheduled to take place in Russia.

What we’re watching Tuesday 📺

🏀 No. 9 Providence at No. 11 Villanova, 6:30 p.m. on FS1
🏀 Hawks at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. on TNT
🏀 No. 8 Purdue at No. 10 Wisconsin, 9 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Mavericks at Lakers, 10 p.m. on TNT
🏀 No. 2 Arizona at No. 16 USC, 11 p.m. on ESPN


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