⚾️ Play Ball!

MLB season preview, Lakers-Bucks 2OT, Rangers clinch playoff berth, NFL news, and more...

It’s Wednesday! America's pastime. Fresh-cut grass. $18 hot dogs. Dads catching foul balls with babies in their arms. Other grown men asking 20-year-old players for autographs. Contracting trench foot in the dead of summer because you went to the Oakland Coliseum. John Sterling mistaking a can-of-corn pop fly for a home run. Walk-offs. Web gems. Sticky stuff. Delusional Mets fans accepting their team’s inevitable implosion. It's all back. Tomorrow. Opening Day is just one sleep away, and we have a full MLB season preview on deck for you this morning. And while a 162-game marathon awaits on the diamond, playoff races in the NBA and NHL are in the home stretch with just about 10 regular season games remaining. Who’s climbing? Who’s cramping? And lastly, how can you not be romantic about baseball?

WTF Stat: Duke has not beaten a higher-seeded team in the men’s NCAA Tournament since 1994. Since then, the Blue Devils are 0-5 against higher-seeded teams (2003 vs. No. 2 Kansas, 2013 vs. No. 1 Louisville, 2016 vs. No. 1 Oregon, 2018 vs. No. 1 Kansas, 2023 vs. No. 4 Tennessee) - No. 4 Duke plays No. 1 Houston in the Sweet 16 on Friday.

Written By: Ian Dardani

Hello. We've been trying to reach you concerning your vehicle's extended warranty. You should've received a notice about your car's extended warranty eligibility. If you believe this is not for you, press "Share the Blitz" to be placed on our do-not-call list.

🏈 NFL owners approved a modification of the kickoff play that calls for all players on the kicking team to line up at the receiving team’s 40-yard line while the receiving team lines up at least nine players on its own 35 - the format originated in the XFL (see an example here)

🏈 Rams and former Bills CB Tre’Davious White have agreed to a 1-year, $8.5M contract, with a max value of $10M - White, 29, spent seven years with Buffalo and was named to two Pro Bowls but tore his Achilles last season in Week 4

⚾️ Diamondbacks and former Rangers SP Jordan Montgomery have agreed to a 1-year, $25M contract, with a vesting player option for the 2025 season - Montgomery, 31, posted a career-best 3.20 ERA in 2023 and helped Texas win the World Series after being traded from St. Louis before the deadline

⚾️ Play Ball!

Photo: Hall of Famer Ham Porter | Source: The Sandlot

MLB 2024 Season Preview

We will see you tomorrow night!” The grass is cut, the dirt is groomed, and the lines are painted. Baseball is officially back (tomorrow). The six-month, 162-game marathon gets underway in a mere ~24 hours. But before all 30 teams take the field Thursday, let's brush up on some key storylines entering the season and see who has the best odds to be crowned world champions.

Top Storylines

  • Can anyone stop Shohei and the Dodgers? If at first you don’t succeed, spend, spend, and spend again. After a second consecutive loss in the NLDS, the back-to-back AL West champions return with even more firepower, having added two-time AL MVP Shohei Ohtani (OF/SP) and two-time Silver Slugger Teoscar Hernandez (OF) in free agency. Now, an offense that averaged the second-most runs per game last season (5.59) has seven players in its starting lineup who hit at least 20 or more home runs in 2023, including three former MVPs in Ohtani, Freddie Freeman (1B), and Mookie Betts (OF). Ohtani won’t take the mound this year due to a UCL injury, but the pitching staff has plenty of juice, led by newly acquired aces Tyler Glasnow and Japanese star Yoshinobu Yamamoto. With a surplus of talent, Los Angeles is the odds-on favorite to win it all, and it’s a pretty good bet — but don’t tell that to Shohei (Lol).

  • Who runs the AL East? The O’s took the division crown last year for the first time since 2014, yet the revamped Yankees enter Opening Day with the shortest odds to win the AL East. After a nightmarish 2023 campaign, the Pinstripes picked up wunderkind Juan Soto (OF) this offseason in a blockbuster deal with the Padres. The lefty slugger will benefit from Yankee Stadium’s short porch in right field, and hitting in front of Aaron Judge (OF) won’t hurt either, but New York will begin the year without their AL Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole, leaving big questions surrounding their rotation. Meanwhile, Baltimore returns their star-studded young core, headlined by Adley Rutschman (C) and Gunnar Henderson (SS), along with a collection of exciting prospects. Couple that with a Rays club that won 99 games last season and a talented Toronto team, and you get all the makings of what should be a robust divisional race. As for the Red Sox, you can never count them out, but a disappointing offseason has things looking bleak in Boston.

  • Can the Braves get back on top? After winning it all in 2021, the Braves looked to be on their way to another title in 2023. They led the MLB in batting average (.276), hits (1,543), RBIs (916), slugging percentage (.501), home runs (307), and of course, wins (104), only to lose to the Phillies in the NLDS for the second straight year. The good news in Atlanta is their championship window is still open. Ronald Acuna Jr. (OF) became the first MLB player to join the 40-70 club with 41 homers and 73 stolen bases last season, earning himself the NL MVP Award, and Matt Olson (1B) led the league in homers with 54 long balls. The powerful duo spearheads a feared lineup of hitters, and Atlanta also bolstered its rotation by trading for Red Sox ace Chris Sale. On paper, the Braves are perhaps the best team in the bigs, but they won’t be able to silence the critics until October and beyond.

  • Are the Rangers and Diamondbacks here to stay? Last year’s Fall Classic featured a surprising matchup between two wild-card teams who exceeded expectations with unlikely October runs. But can they stay atop the sport in 2024? The defending champion Rangers were no fluke; they finished the regular season second in the AL in homers (232) and first in batting average (.263), and now add two AL Rookie of the Year candidates, Wyatt Langford (OF) and Evan Carter (OF), to their lineup alongside three-time Silver Slugger Corey Seager (SS). The Diamondbacks’ run was less foreseeable, but the Snakes still boast a contact-heavy lineup littered with speed that finished second in the majors in stolen bases last year (166) while recording the fourth-fewest strikeouts. They signed a good pitcher in Eduardo Rodriguez and then added former Ranger Jordan Montgomery last night to complete a well-rounded rotation. However, given the NL’s firepower, it will be a tough road back to the final two.

  • Quick Hits: Who will win the stacked AL West? Is there a true contender in either Central division? Who’s the favorite to win the AL MVP in Shohei's absence? Can the Phillies get over the hump? Can the Mets bounce back? Can the A’s get any worse? Will Mike Trout remain an Angel? Will Fanatics recover from their uniform snafus?

Division Winners Odds

AL East

  • New York Yankees (+165)

  • Baltimore Orioles (+200)

  • Toronto Blue Jays (+380)

  • Tampa Bay Rays (+500)

  • Boston Red Sox (+1900)

AL Central

  • Minnesota Twins (-130)

  • Cleveland Guardians (+300)

  • Detroit Tigers (+380)

  • Kansas City Royals (+1000)

  • Chicago White Sox (+5500)

AL West

  • Houston Astros (-115)

  • Texas Rangers (+210)

  • Seattle Mariners (+300)

  • Los Angeles Angels (+4500)

  • Oakland Athletics (+25000)

NL East

  • Atlanta Braves (-280)

  • Philadelphia Phillies (+280)

  • New York Mets (+1300)

  • Miami Marlins (+3500)

  • Washington Nationals (+12000)

NL Central

  • St. Louis Cardinals (+150)

  • Chicago Cubs (+200)

  • Cincinnati Reds (+400)

  • Milwaukee Brewers (+700)

  • Pittsburgh Pirates (+1200)

NL West

  • Los Angeles Dodgers (-600)

  • San Diego Padres (+1100)

  • Arizona Diamondbacks (+1100)

  • San Francisco Giants (+1200)

  • Colorado Rockies (+20000)

World Series Winner Odds

  • Los Angeles Dodgers (+320)

  • Atlanta Braves (+450)

  • Houston Astros (+700)

  • New York Yankees (+900)

  • Baltimore Orioles (+1400)

  • Texas Rangers (+1400)

  • Philadelphia Phillies (+1500)

  • Toronto Blue Jays (+1800)

  • Seattle Mariners (+2000)

  • Minnesota Twins (+2100)

  • Tampa Bay Rays (+3000)

  • St. Louis Cardinals (+3000)

  • Chicago Cubs (+3500)

  • Arizona Diamondbacks (+4000)

  • New York Mets (+4500)

  • San Francisco Giants (+4500)

  • San Diego Padres (+5000)

See the full World Series odds here and tomorrow’s schedule here.

Photo: Milwaukee Meltdown | Source: USA Today

NBA - All Games

  • Los Angeles Lakers 128, Milwaukee Bucks 124 (2OT): Despite being without LeBron James (ankle) and down 19 points with 8:25 remaining, Anthony Davis (34 PTS, 23 REB, 4 BLK) and the Lakers put together an epic rally to force extra basketball, where Austin Reaves’ (29 PTS, 14 REB, 10 AST) tiebreaking three in the final minute of double overtime helped Los Angeles steal a massive win from Giannis Antetokounmpo (29 PTS, 21 REB, 11 AST) and the Bucks on their home floor - Los Angeles (40-32) has won four in a row and is only two-games back of Sacramento (42-30) for the seventh-seed in the West

  • Dallas Mavericks 132, Sacramento Kings 96: One day after setting an NBA record with his 54th consecutive double-double in a win over the Sixers, Domantas Sabonis (12 PTS, 11 REB, 9 AST) stuffed the stat sheet again to extend his streak, but Luka Doncic (28 PTS, 11 REB, 6 AST), Kyrie Irving (24 PTS, 8 AST), and the Mavs got the win to leapfrog Sacramento for the sixth-seed in the West - Doncic had 26 points at the half before sitting out the entire 4th quarter

  • Golden State Warriors 113, Miami Heat 92: Miami led 55-51 at the break, but Klay Thompson (28 PTS, 6-14 3PT, 5 REB) and Stephen Curry (17 PTS, 3-10 3PT, 6 AST) blew the game open in the second half, as the Warriors waltzed past Bam Adebayo (24 PTS, 9 REB, 5 AST) and the Heat in Miami for a bounce-back win after losing two straight games - Miami was without Jimmy Butler due to illness

  • Oklahoma City Thunder 119, New Orleans Pelicans 112: After fumbling a 20-point lead in the 3rd quarter, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (24 PTS, 5 REB, 8 AST) and the Thunder used a late run sparked by Jalen Williams (26 PTS, 5 AST) to edge out Zion Williamson (29 PTS, 5 REB, 10 AST) and the Pelicans in New Orleans, marking their eighth W in ten games - OKC (50-21) is a half-game back of Denver (51-25) for the top spot in the West

See the full NBA scoreboard here and the current standings here.

NHL - Top Games

  • New York Rangers 6, Philadelphia Flyers 5 (OT): The Blue Shirts are officially playoff-bound! After an electric 3rd period at MSG that saw seven goals and ended with Tyson Foerster’s (1 G) game-tying score for Philadelphia, Adam Fox (1 G, 1 A) wristed home the OT-winner 36 seconds into the extra frame to give New York its third straight playoff berth - the Rangers (48-20-4) are the first team to clinch a playoff spot this season, and it was HC Peter Laviolette’s 800th career win

  • Boston Bruins 4, Florida Panthers 3: Both teams entered the night tied atop the Atlantic Division and it was the Bruins who took the two-point edge, as Trent Frederic’s (1 G) power-play goal knotted things up at three late in the 3rd period before Pavel Zacha (1 G, 1 A) delivered the game-winner with 2:21 remaining, giving Boston a pivotal road win

  • Edmonton Oilers 4, Winnipeg Jets 3 (OT): In another clash between two Cup contenders, Winnipeg erased a 3-1 deficit in the 3rd period with goals from Brenden Dillon (1 G) and Sean Monahan (1 G) to give us free hockey, but Zach Hyman (1 G) said goodnight in overtime with his 51st bingo of the season - Winnipeg (44-22-6) has now lost four straight games

See the full NHL scoreboard here and the current standings here.

Newsletters we love, and think you will too:

Podcast DeliveryThere are lots of great podcasts out there but they’re not always easy to find. Leave it to us – subscribe today and get your first podcast recommendation on Monday.
Down To FootballWeekly Fantasy Football and NFL Insights and Rundowns you need to win your Fantasy league and your NFL Bets

How many conferences are represented in the Sweet 16 of this year's men's NCAA Tournament?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Photo: Michael Phelps, 2001 | Source: One Country

On March 27, 2001, a 15-year-old kid named Michael Phelps broke the 200m butterfly world record (1:54.92) at the US World Championship Trials in Austin, Texas. At just 15 years and nine months old, Phelps became the youngest male swimmer to ever set a world record. Three years later, Phelps became a household name in his first Olympic Games by winning a record-tying eight medals in Greece, consisting of six gold (including the 200m butterfly) and two bronze. Phelps held the world record in the 200m butterfly until 2019 and broke his own mark eight times within that 18-year span. He would again win gold in the event in the 2008 Beijing Games (on his way to a record eight gold medals) and then once more in the 2016 Rio Games. The American legend finished his Olympic career with a record 23 gold medals and 28 total medals across five Games, making him the most decorated Olympian of all time - the 2024 Paris Olympic Games begin on July 26.


  • Golden State Warriors @ Orlando Magic 7:00pm ET, Local

  • LA Clippers @ Philadelphia 76ers 7:30pm ET, ESPN

  • Phoenix Suns @ Denver Nuggets 10:00pm ET, ESPN

  • Full Schedule


  • Ottawa Senators @ Buffalo Sabres 7:00pm ET, NHLPP / ESPN+

  • Boston Bruins @ Tampa Bay Lightning 7:30pm ET, TNT

NCAA Men’s Basketball NIT - Quarterfinals

  • Seton Hall vs. UNLV 7:00pm ET, ESPN2

  • VCU vs. Utah 9:00pm ET, ESPN2

Trivia Time Answer

B. 8. There are eight different conferences represented in this year’s men’s Sweet 16: the ACC (4 teams), Big East (3), Big Ten (2), Big 12 (2), SEC (2), Pac-12 (1), Mountain West (1), and WCC (1). Outside of Virginia, who lost in a First Four play-in game, all four ACC teams that made the tournament are still alive (North Carolina, Duke, Clemson, NC State). All three Big East teams that made the tournament are also still alive (UConn, Marquette, Creighton). The Big 12 and SEC led the 68-team field with eight representatives each, and went 7-6 and 5-6, respectively, during the tournament’s first week.

Prime Lock of the Day

Subscribe to Blitz Prime to unlock this betting slip. For those already signed up, enjoy the winner!


  • Lakers @ Bucks: LAL +8.5 (-110)

Spin zone on the WTF Stat about Duke: it’s actually impressive that they’ve only been the lower seed five times in 30 years…

Full Sweet 16 preview coming tomorrow!