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Today's word count: 1,843 words (7 minutes).
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Over the weekend, a bombshell WSJ report (subscription) revealed that the Astros' front office was not only aware of the sign-stealing that was going on but, in fact, created the system in the first place. It even had a name: "Codebreaker."
Why it matters: This directly contradicts MLB commissioner Rob Manfred's Jan. 13 statement, which described the sign-stealing scheme as "player-driven" and "not an initiative that was planned or directed" by the front office.
Inside the operation...
1. Tom Koch-Weser: The Astros' director of advance information sent multiple emails to GM Jeff Luhnow in 2017 that referenced "the system" and a "sign-stealing department," per WSJ.
2. Kevin Goldstein: A special assistant to the GM, the former baseball writer was identified as the unnamed executive who suggested using cameras to steal signs leading up to the 2017 postseason.
3. Derek Vigoa: While serving as an intern in 2016, he showed Luhnow a PowerPoint presentation about "Codebreaker" and assumed the GM knew it would be used in games because that was "where the value would be," per WSJ.
The big picture: In a letter to Luhnow on Jan. 2, Manfred said that "there is more than sufficient evidence to support a conclusion that you knew ... that the Astros maintained a sign-stealing program that violated MLB's rules."
The bottom line: Spring training opens this week, and baseball is not only dealing with a shocking cheating scandal — it's also dealing with a growing suspicion that there's more to that scandal than has been revealed.
P.S. ... According to multiple reports yesterday, MLB is mulling significant changes to its postseason format. This is the league using the media to try to change the conversation.
Philip Rivers will enter free agency this offseason, officially ending his 16-year run with the Chargers.
What they're saying:
By the numbers: Rivers led the Chargers to the playoffs six times, including an appearance in the 2007 AFC Championship Game. He has the most wins, passing yards and passing TD of any QB to not appear in a Super Bowl.
Looking ahead: Rivers joins a free-agent QB market that could include Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Ryan Tannehill, Jameis Winston, Teddy Bridgewater and ... Taysom Hill. Where might Rivers land?
Go deeper: Rivers' top moments as a Charger (ESPN)
BOSTON — Northeastern beat Boston University in a thrilling 5-4 double OT victory to claim the school's third straight Beanpot title.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Thousands poured into Angel Stadium for a public memorial honoring the Altobelli family, who were among the nine people killed in last month's helicopter crash that also took the lives of Kobe and Gianna Bryant.
TORONTO — D'Angelo Russell scored 22 points in his Minnesota debut, but it wasn't enough to prevent the Raptors from beating the Timberwolves, 137-126, and extending their winning streak to 15 games, the second-longest in the NBA this season.
The top 9 teams remained unchanged in the latest AP men's college basketball poll, Seton Hall moved into the top 10 after beating Villanova and preseason No. 1 Michigan State — losers of three straight — dropped out of the rankings entirely.
The big picture: ESPN analyst Joe Lunardi's latest bracket projection features one of the most inexperienced fields in the history of the NCAA tournament — a reflection of just how chaotic this season has been.
Fun fact ... A No. 1 seed quartet of San Diego State, Baylor, Gonzaga and Kansas would have a combined 136 all-time tournament wins to its name, which would tie 2014 (Florida, Arizona, Virginia, Wichita State) for the least established group of top seeds in the past 30 years, per FiveThirtyEight's Jake Lourim.
South Carolina earned the No. 1 ranking in the women's AP poll for the fifth straight week on Monday — and followed that up hours later with a dominant 70-52 win over No. 5 UConn.
Why it matters:
More women's hoops:
Photo: Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
CBS Sports said yesterday that William Hill, a sportsbook operator, will be the official sportsbook and provider of wager information for the network, writes Axios' Sara Fischer.
Why it matters: It's the latest media company to partner with a sportsbook to increase engagement with its content — and the latest sportsbook to partner with a media company to acquire more customers.
"We need to acquire customers, and we think that the existing CBS database of customers, 80 million+ in CBS Sports' digital audience and tens of millions on social, is an attractive audience for us to reach. ... We expect a far more efficient customer acquisition cost because CBS has the right audience of prospective sports betters that we can try to tap into."— Joe Asher, CEO of William Hill US, tells Axios
What to watch: The partnership will tip off with initial integrations in March on CBS Sports digital platforms, with a full rollout planned for the fantasy football season.
30 years ago today, Buster Douglas pulled off one of the biggest upsets in sports history, knocking out the previously undefeated Mike Tyson (37-0) in the 10th round to win the world heavyweight title.
"Best of Breed" awards were handed out yesterday at the 2020 Westminster Dog Show, with breeds like Pomeranians, Terriers and Standard Poodles taking center stage.
What's next: By tonight, the judges will have narrowed a field of hundreds of dogs down to just seven for the "Best in Show" finale at Madison Square Garden.
📸 Go deeper: More photos (NYT)
Philip Rivers and Eli Manning were two of the four QBs selected in the first round of the 2004 NFL draft.
Answer at the bottom.
30-year-old ultra-runner Jim Walmsley has smashed records at 50 and 100 miles. Now he hopes to make the Olympics in a distance he's never run: 26.2 miles.
"Distance running is always a negotiation; it's about quieting a compelling, insistent whisper telling you to stop. At an Olympic marathon pace ... that whisper can turn into a scream. Walmsley's long-shot chance — his intangible advantage — is that running has always been his path away from pain. He knows what real suffering feels like. He has yet to find it in a race."
Read: Can the king of ultrarunning conquer a race as short as the marathon? (Joseph Bien-Kahn, NYT)
Kendall "Carson Daly is an American institution" Baker
Trivia answer: The Steelers picked Ben Roethlisberger from Miami (OH) at pick No. 11, and the Bills took J.P. Losman from Tulane at pick No. 22.