👋 Happy Friday! I'm currently en route to the airport to fly from San Francisco to Orlando for this weekend's Daytona 500. If you'll be there, let me know. We'll hang out.
Today's word count: 1,613 words (6 minutes).
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. 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 this cheating scandal, don't lose sight of the many other problems the league faces as commissioner Rob Manfred enters his sixth season at the helm.
The bottom line: This is going to be a pivotal decade for baseball, and it's hard to imagine the 2020s getting off to a worse start.
"In his first five years on the job, Manfred changed the oil at regular intervals and kept the machine running. ... Those days are over. It is time for Manfred to act, and he knows it. He must decide on the kind of game he wants to shepherd."— Tom Verducci, SI
The Bucks hold a 6.5 game lead over the Raptors at the All-Star break, while the Cavaliers — who were in the Finals as recently as four years ago — sit in dead last.
Go deeper: The Raptors weren't supposed to be this good (FiveThirtyEight)
The Lakers hold a four game lead over the Nuggets at the All-Star break, while the Warriors — who were in the Finals last year — sit in dead last.
Go deeper: The Nuggets and Jazz are ready to make their cases as contenders (The Ringer)
The Genesis Invitational got underway yesterday at L.A.'s historic Riviera Country Club, with Matt Kuchar (-7) holding a three-shot lead over the rest of the field after 18 holes.
A look at the back nine...
Hole 10, par 4 (315 yards): Though reachable from the tee, only a perfect drive will hold this extremely narrow green. The smart play is a safe iron shot down the left side, but the temptation to go for the green remains eternally tantalizing.
Hole 18, par 4 (475 yards): The 18th begins with a semi-blind drive played to a fairway hidden beyond a steep hillside and finishes with a bunkerless green nestled in a natural amphitheater beneath the clubhouse, making it one of golf's most famous finishing holes.
ICYMI ... From yesterday's newsletter: A look at the front nine
Just before Super Bowl LIV, Fox aired a video commemorating the NFL's 100th anniversary. It featured a young boy running a football across America, with various NFL legends telling him to "Take it to the house, kid!"
Who is he? The star of the commercial is 13-year-old football and track prodigy, Maxwell "Bunchie" Young, who was named SI's "Sportskid of the Year" in 2017 and was recently featured on "No Days Off," a YouTube show about sports prodigies from Whistle (previously Whistle Sports).
🎥 More episodes:
68 years ago today, the 1952 Winter Olympics opened in Oslo, Norway — the birthplace of modern day skiing.
The backdrop: Japan and Germany were making their returns to winter Olympic competition after being forced to miss the 1948 Games in the aftermath of World War II.
Starring for Team USA...
Andrea Mead Lawrence (center), a 19-year-old from Rutland, Vermont, won both the slalom and giant slalom events and remains the only American alpine skier to earn two gold medals in the same Olympics.
Richard "Dick" Button, a 23-year-old from Englewood, New Jersey, earned his second consecutive Olympic gold medal by landing the first triple-jump in international competition.
On Wednesday, American kayaker Dane Jackson (see that little red dot above?) safely navigated the 134-foot Salto del Maule waterfall in the mountains of Chile — the second-tallest such descent on record. Here's the video.
What he's saying: I spoke with the 26-year-old national kayaking champion, who is based in Tennessee but spends 10 months out of the year living in an RV or traveling abroad.
Through 10 NBA games, Zion Williamson is averaging 22.1 points and 7.5 rebounds (while playing just 27.4 minutes per game).
See you Tuesday.
Enjoy the weekend,
Kendall "Apology not accepted" Baker
Trivia answer: Shaquille O'Neal in 1992 (23.8 points and 15.8 rebounds)