Feb 13, 2020 - Sports

The Negro National League's lasting legacy, 100 years on

Rube Foster (center) and the Chicago American Giants. Photo: Diamond Images/Getty Images

100 years ago Thursday, the Negro National League was founded by former pitcher and executive Rube Foster.

Why it matters: The NNL became the first Negro league to achieve stability and last more than one season. It "proved that African American players could play on even terms with their white counterparts — and draw just as much interest from baseball fans," per the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

  • League champions: The Chicago American Giants won five titles (1920, 1921, 1922, 1926, 1927), the Kansas City Monarchs won four (1923, 1924, 1925, 1929) and the St. Louis Stars won three (1928, 1930, 1931).
  • Colored World Series: From 1924 through 1927, the NNL winner met the champion of the rival Eastern Colored League in the Colored World Series, with the American Giants going 2-0 and the Monarchs going 1-1.

The big picture: The financial hardships of the Great Depression forced the NNL to shut down, but the league would resurface in 1937 as the Negro American League, featuring many of the same teams from the NNL days.

  • 10 years later, in 1947, the Monarchs' very own Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball's color barrier.

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The MLB's problems extend far beyond Houston's cheating scandal

The Astros' second baseman José Altuve during a press conference in West Palm Beach, Florida. Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Astros had three months to craft a thoughtful apology for the team's sign-stealing scandal. Instead, José Altuve and Alex Bregman spoke for a combined 90 seconds — and owner Jim Crane questioned whether sign-stealing even helped his team win games.

The big picture: While baseball grapples with the fallout, don't lose sight of the many other problems Major League Baseball faces as commissioner Rob Manfred enters his sixth season at the helm.

Go deeperArrowFeb 14, 2020 - Sports

How an inconsistent baseball threatens trust in MLB

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Astros' sign-stealing scandal is a huge black eye for Major League Baseball and threatens public trust in the sport, but there is something that poses an even bigger threat to that trust — the baseball itself.

Catch up quick: The "juiced baseball" emerged as a storyline last season, but the inconsistency of MLB's baseballs has been a theme for years.

Go deeperArrowFeb 4, 2020 - Sports

Overwatch League is taking esports local in 2020

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Over its first two seasons, the Overwatch League's city-based esports franchises played their matches in a designated arena in L.A. This year, the league goes local, with all 20 teams hosting competitions in their home cities. This weekend's hosts: NYC and Dallas.

Why it matters: This home-and-away format represents a giant leap in the maturation of an esports league that eventually wants to look like the NFL, except on an international scale, according to Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, which developed the game and operates the league.

Go deeperArrowFeb 6, 2020 - Sports