👋 Good morning! The Champions League Round of 16 begins today, with four games across Europe set for 3pm ET kickoffs today and tomorrow (TNT, B/R Live).
Today's word count: 1,416 words (5 minutes).
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred's decision to grant Astros players immunity in exchange for confessions about their sign-stealing scheme has undermined his reputation — and he only made himself look worse on Sunday.
The interview: In a 45-minute conversation with ESPN, Manfred asserted that public shame was punishment enough for the Astros. He also called the World Series trophy "just a piece of metal" and said that taking a title away from Houston "seems like a futile act."
The reaction: Fans and the media were critical of the first comment, confused as to why it was up to them, not him, to impose some kind of lasting toll on the Astros. And Justin Turner laid into him for the "just a piece of metal" line:
"I don't know if the commissioner has ever won anything in his life. Maybe he hasn't. But the reason every guy's in this room, the reason every guy is working out all offseason ... is specifically for that trophy, which, by the way, is called the Commissioner's Trophy.
"So for him to devalue it the way he did yesterday just tells me how out of touch he is with the players in this game. At this point the only thing devaluing that trophy is that it says 'commissioner' on it."— Dodgers infielder Justin Turner
More player backlash:
The big picture: As I pointed out on Friday, MLB's problems extend far beyond Houston, with things like juiced balls and minor league cuts making Manfred the target of even more scorn. But his "just a piece of metal" comment, in particular, has taken the outrage in a new direction.
Ryan Newman is in "serious condition" but expected to survive after a major wreck less than 100 yards from the finish line at the Daytona 500 that sent him careening into the wall and lifted his car into the air after a direct collision with a trailing driver.
Denny Hamlin won his second straight Daytona 500 (and third in five years) by less than a foot, but his celebration was subdued in light of the Newman crash.
President Trump arrived via Air Force One and served as the grand marshal, leading the drivers in a lap around the 2.5-mile racetrack and giving them the command to start their engines in front of a sold-out crowd of 101,500 people.
The race was postponed after two lengthy rain delays halted Sunday's action and choked some of the excitement from an event that had been a raucous celebration all weekend, with RVs and sponsored pop-ups (Wendy's, Barstool Sports, Anheuser-Busch) littering the infield.
👀 Coming tomorrow: I was there. It was wild. Will share my experience tomorrow.
Caption: "The Man In The 🏟" Are You Not Entertained?! 👑 #ThekidfromAKRON
P.S. ... The new NBA All-Star Game format was wonderful.
The Tokyo Marathon is barring nearly 40,000 participants from its annual race because of new cases of the novel coronavirus confirmed within Japan. The race will be restricted to elite runners only (~200 people).
The big picture: As China pushes to contain the spread of coronavirus — placing around 780 million people under travel restrictions, per CNN — the repercussions continue to be felt globally.
What to watch: There are some signs that new cases are growing at a slower rate now, although the World Health Organization said Monday it's "too early to tell" if this will continue.
🎧 Listen: The next pandemic (Axios Pro Rata podcast)
No. 1 Baylor and No. 3 Kansas just keep winning, setting up an epic showdown on Saturday that could decide not only the Big 12 title but the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament.
Meanwhile, in the land of the unranked ... North Carolina (10-16, 3-12) blew a 15-point lead to Notre Dame last night and has now lost six straight games, the longest losing streak of the Roy Williams era.
📚 Read: Filip Petrusev is right where he belongs at Gonzaga (The Athletic)
UConn fell to No. 6 in the latest women's AP poll, ending a streak of 253 consecutive weeks as a top-five team — a historic run that dwarfs the No. 2 all-time mark of 96 set by Louisiana Tech in the 1980s.
🎥 Highlight: Preseason No. 1 Stanford moved back into the top five thanks to Kiana Williams' buzzer-beater against Colorado on Sunday.
34 years ago today, Spurs guard Alvin Robertson recorded the NBA's second-ever quadruple double with 20 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists and 10 steals in a win over the Suns.
The others: Only three other NBA players have ever recorded a quadruple double, though Robertson is the only one to do it with steals rather than blocks.
Worth noting: Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain recorded multiple quadruple doubles (and maybe even a quintuple double) in their day, but since blocks and steals weren't official NBA statistics until 1972, they are considered unofficial.
Kílian Jornet, arguably the finest endurance runner and probably the greatest adventure skier in the world, trains in Norway.
🎬 Watch: "Summits of My Life" (Movie trailer)
Photo: Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images
The Tampa Bay Lightning won their 11th straight game last night, which is both a franchise record and the team's second double-digit winning streak of the season.
Answer at the bottom.
Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
A "miserable" John Beilein and the Cavaliers are considering parting ways after just 54 games — a reminder of how challenging the jump from college to the pros can be for head coaches.
Question: Is the college-to-pros transition more difficult for basketball coaches or football coaches? Click to vote.
Kendall "Aaron Gordon got robbed" Baker
Trivia answer: Florida Panthers and Anaheim Ducks ("Mighty Ducks of Anaheim")