The Silver Lining

July 28, 2021

By: Carlos Alvarez

Good Morning,

It’s another beautiful day for sports in Tokyo. The United States has pulled away in the Olympic medal count, but it wasn’t all gold on Day 5. We’ve got all the highlights from a silver-laced Tuesday and a bounce-back night for the men’s basketball team.

Letter Rip!



Enjoying The Sportsletter’s Olympics coverage? Know someone else who might enjoy it? Pass the ball and share the sports with friends and family.



Total Medals

🇺🇸 USA (29)

🇨🇳 China (23)

🇯🇵 Japan (20)

🇷🇺 Russia (19)

🇦🇺 Australia (15)

🇬🇧 Great Britain (15)

🇮🇹 Italy (14)

🇰🇷 South Korea (10)

🇨🇦 Canada (9)

🇳🇱 Netherlands (9)

🇫🇷 France (8)


Gold Medals

🇯🇵 Japan (11)

🇺🇸 USA (10)

🇨🇳 China (10)

🇷🇺 Russia (7)

🇦🇺 Australia (6)

🇬🇧 Great Britain (5)


*Medal Count Accurate as of Midnight ET (July 28)


The Silver Lining

Photo: Loic Venance / Getty Images

Team USA Women’s Sports: Simone Biles Withdraws, USA Gymnastics & Softball Finish With Silver Medals


Two Team USA women’s sports failed to secure gold on Tuesday morning in Tokyo after a bizarre turn of events regarding Simone Biles. The world’s greatest gymnast, arguably of all-time, withdrew after the first rotation. A few moments later, the USA softball team also failed to win their gold medal game against Japan. While both USA squads were the favorites, silver medals are spectacular accomplishments. Biles’ courage and team-first attitude provided a silver lining to a silver Tuesday.


Women’s Gymnastics: USA Places 2nd Behind Russia

After placing second in the qualifying round, Team USA women’s gymnastics finished second to Russia again in the team event. Simone Biles withdrew herself from the event for “medical reasons” after a misstep in her vault landing. She did not have a significant injury. She later discussed mental health and pressure challenges at the podium. Biles suggested that her confidence was shaken as she stepped aside to let her teammates shine. The United States had won every Olympics and World Championships event in the last decade.


🚨 BREAKING NEWS: Biles has officially withdrawn from the women’s all-around competition on Thursday.


USA Softball: USA Loses to Japan in Finals

After going undefeated in group play, the USA softball team was shutout by Japan (2-0). The 39-year-old Japanese pitcher Yukiko Ueno went six scoreless innings while giving up just two hits and zero runs. Canada defeated Mexico on Monday to win the bronze medal.


Other Team USA Highlights


Women’s Soccer: USA Draws Australia (0-0)

The USWNT played Australia to a 0-0 draw in Tuesday’s third and final match of group play. The women’s squad was seemingly content to take the draw and advance into the quarterfinals. They’ll face the Netherlands at 7:00 am ET on Friday morning.


Women’s Surfing: Hawaii’s Carissa Moore Wins Gold

In the inaugural year of surfing as an Olympic sport, Hawaii’s Carissa Moore won the gold medal in women’s surfing by beating South Africa’s Bianca Buitendag. Moore is a four-time World Surf League champion, and now a gold medal winner.


Women’s Swimming: Katie Ledecky Wins 1500M Free

After finishing with a silver in the 400-meter freestyle on Sunday, Katie Ledecky failed to medal in the 200-meter freestyle last night, but she wasn’t done. About an hour after a disappointing swim, Ledecky won gold in the first-ever 1500-meter freestyle. USA teammate Erica Sullivan took silver in the event. Women’s swimmers Alex Walsh and Kate Douglass also took silver and bronze, respectively, in the 200-meter individual medley to round out a four-medal night in the pool.


Additional Storylines

USA Today: Simone Biles Withdraws From All-Around Final on Thursday

Yahoo! Sports: What Simone Biles Said to Her Teammates After Withdrawing From Team Competition



USA Basketball Back On Track

Photo: Gregory Shamus / Getty Images

Damian Lillard Catches Fire as Team USA Throttles Iran (120-66) in Group A


Everyone expected the USA men’s basketball team to bounce back against Iran, but a 54-point blowout? The United States was as dominant as ever following their loss to France in the Olympic opener on Sunday. They shot 50 percent from 3-point range (19-for-38) thanks to Damian Lillard’s 21 points on seven 3s (7-for-13). Lillard got hot early as the USA busted out a 28-12 lead after the first period. Rare misses were the story in Game 2. Every player on the roster made a field goal, and not one player shot below 45 percent, individual. The USA turned Iran over 21 times while committing just six turnovers of their own. They’re back on track, but there’s plenty of work to do.


Top Performers

D. Lillard: 21 points, 5 assists

J. Tatum: 14 points, 4 rebounds

Z. LaVine: 13 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds

K. Durant: 10 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds


Full Recap: USA Crushes Iran by 54 Points in Game 2

*Highlights Unavailable Due to Schedule


Upcoming Schedule

USA vs. Czech Republic (Sat. 8:00 am ET)


Additional Storylines

ESPN: Team USA Men’s Basketball Bounces Back in Big Way

CBS Sports: Are FIBA Basketballs Impacting Team USA’s Shooting? Why One Ex-NBA Player Calls it a ‘Huge Deal’



The MLB Home Run Race

Photo: Icon Sportswire / Getty Images

Shohei Ohtani & Fernando Tatis Jr. Keep Crushing Bombs


Another night in the majors brought trade deadline speculation but no big moves. In place of a major deal, two of the league’s young stars hit a pair of massive, towering home runs to boost their leads in the MLB home run race. One day after Shohei Ohtani hit his 35th home run and recorded his 100th strikeout from the mound, the Angels’ MVP candidate smashed No. 36 last night — a 463-foot rake. Just south in California, Padres’ superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. sent a 440-foot homer for his 31st of the season. The Blue Jays’ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (32) is also in the mix, but Toronto’s matchup with Boston was postponed on Tuesday night. The three young bats are running away in the HR race with two months left in the regular season. Here’s where they stand.


MLB Home Run Leaders

36 — Shohei Ohtani (Angels)

32 — Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays)

31 — Fernando Tatis Jr. (Padres)

27 — Rafael Devers (Red Sox)

27 — Matt Olson (Athletics)

25 — Joey Gallo (Rangers)

25 — Mitch Haniger (Mariners)

25 — Kyle Schwarber (Nationals)


On Pace for History: Ohtani (36) is on pace for 62 HRs by season’s end. Only Sammy Sosa (66), Mark McGwire (70) and Barry Bonds (73) have ever hit more in a single season, and they had some help.


Additional Highlights

MLB: Juan Soto Smacks 7th HR in 11 Games Since All-Star Break

USA Today: Angels Manager Joe Maddon on Ohtani’s MVP Season: “It’s Not Even Close”



🏈  The Rodgers Arrival

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers showed up at Lambeau Field in style on Tuesday, a day before the first practice of training camp, apparently ready to get to work for 2021… After that? Well, we’ll all have to wait and see what next offseason holds. (FOX Sports)


🏅 Russia’s Olympic Ban is Laughable

If you were confused about the ROC athletes competing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, you’re not alone. It stands for the Russian Olympic Committee. And even though Russia was banned from participating under the national flag, they rank 4th in overall medals. (USA Today)


🏈  College Football Realignment Fallout

Oklahoma and Texas have officially made their request to join the SEC, leaving an imminent Big 12 fallout. What’s next for the Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12? Expect the other power conferences to make some moves — quickly — and TV networks to have their say. (CBS Sports)



Aaron Rodgers Reports to Green Bay in Time for Packers Training Camp

(Yahoo! Sports)


Texas & Oklahoma Formally Submit Request to Join SEC Beginning in 2025

(CBS Sports)


Vegas Golden Knights Trade Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to Chicago Blackhawks



Nike Signs Projected No. 1 Pick Cade Cunningham to Multiyear Endorsement Deal



Tampa Bay Rays Targeting Trades for Nationals’ Max Scherzer, Cubs’ Kris Bryant

(Bleacher Report)


Alex Ovechkin Re-Signs With Capitals on 5-Year, $47.5 Million Deal

(USA Today)


Seattle Mariners Players Feel ‘Betrayed’ After Kendall Gravemen Traded to Astros

(CBS Sports)


Dolphins CB Xavien Howard Requests Trade 2 Years After Signing 5-Year, $75 Million Extension

(NBC Sports)



Day 5 Continued (This Morning)


Men’s Gymnastics

All Around (Wed. 6:00 am ET)


Day 6 (Tonight)


Men’s Golf

First Round (Wed. 6:30 pm ET)


Men’s & Women’s Swimming

Finals (Wed. 8:00 pm ET)


Men’s Water Polo

USA vs. Italy (Wed. 8:00 pm ET)


Women’s Volleyball

USA vs. Turkey (Thurs. 2:00 am ET)


All Team USA events will air live on Peacock / NBC or tape-delayed on NBC affiliates.


Full Olympics Schedule & Results