👋 Good morning! Lots to get to this morning, Let's sports.
Today's word count: 1,683 words (6 minutes).
Photo: Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images
Playing in their home state of Louisiana, LSU capped off one of the most magical seasons in recent memory with a convincing 42-25 win over defending champion Clemson.
By the numbers, per ESPN:
Few things in sports are more powerful than a strong coach-player bond. Wins and losses fade. Relationships are forever.
What a night to be an LSU cheerleader.
The graph above depicts the in-game "trading" activity on BallStreet Trading, which hosts in-play contests during live sports. The price fluctuations show how fan sentiment changed throughout.
A.J. Hinch (left) and Jeff Luhnow. Photo: Bob Levey/Getty Images
In the most dramatic ruling of his tenure, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred came down hard on the Astros yesterday for illegally stealing signs in 2017.
"Neither one of those guys implemented this ... But neither one did anything about it. That's unfortunate and the consequences are severe."— Crane
The ripple effects: The Astros franchise has suffered irrevocable damage as a result of this investigation, but the ripple effects extend far beyond Houston.
The big picture: While MLB's strict punishment will likely dissuade teams from breaking the rules, further action is still required to quell public concerns about cheating — especially with the rise of legal betting.
Go deeper: Nine key takeaways (The Ringer)
Baylor ascended to the No. 2 spot in the AP poll after notching road wins last week at Texas Tech and Kansas, where they beat the Jayhawks for the first time in 18 tries at Allen Fieldhouse.
South Carolina moved up three spots to No. 1 in the AP women's poll after the top three teams from last week — UConn, Oregon and Oregon State — all lost.
P.S. ... Here's the top of the latest WNBA mock draft, per High Post Hoops: 1. Sabrina Ionescu (Oregon) to New York; 2. Lauren Cox (Baylor) to Dallas; 3. Satou Sabally (Oregon) to Indiana; 4. Chennedy Carter (Texas A&M) to Atlanta; 5. Beatrice Mompremier (Miami) to Phoenix.
The Devils and Flyers play 3-on-3 in overtime in 2015. Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
In an attempt to cut the number of games being decided by shootouts, the NHL introduced 3-on-3 overtime in 2015. It's been a resounding success — and has inspired the creation of a new 3-on-3 professional hockey league.
Driving the news: "Debuting in June 2021, the 3ICE league will essentially be a traveling road show," per ESPN.
🔥 6 days
Less than a week out from the Australian Open, organizers are scrambling to cope with the heavy smoke blanketing Melbourne, caused by the bushfires to the east. The city had the world's worst air quality Monday night, forcing one player to retire due to a coughing fit in the middle of her qualifying match.
🏀 37.7 points
Here's your friendly reminder that we're halfway through the NBA season and James Harden is averaging 37.7 points per game. No other player is averaging even 30, and Giannis Antetokounmpo (29.8) and Luka Dončić (29.1) are the only ones averaging 29.
🏒 50 goals, 120 points
Through 45 games, Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon is on pace to sniff 50 goals and surpass 120 points, a combo last reached by Jaromir Jagr in 2005–06. SI's Alex Prewitt explores the arsenal of tricks he uses to power his lethal shot.
Photo: Bettmann/Getty Images
52 years ago today, the NFL's defending champion Green Bay Packers defeated the AFL champion Oakland Raiders, 33-14, in Super Bowl II at the Orange Bowl in Miami.
The big picture: Two weeks later, the legendary Vince Lombardi stepped down as Packers head coach, continuing as GM. And in 1969, he became head coach and GM of the Washington Redskins, leading them to their first winning season in 14 years before passing away from colon cancer in 1970.
"It is essential to understand that battles are primarily won in the hearts of men. ... [O]nce you have won his heart, he will follow you anywhere."— Lombardi
Welcome to Day 2 of Squash Week. Here's Day 1 if you missed it.
Invented in 1830, squash is often referred to as "physical chess." It's played by two players (singles) or four players (doubles) in a four-walled court measuring 31 feet x 21 feet x 18.5 feet.
Word of the day: The "T zone" refers to the intersection of lines at the center of the court. When playing a ball, it's advantageous to get yourself to the T, as it gives you the best chance of playing the next shot.
Coming tomorrow: Full coverage from the 2020 Tournament of Champions, where we have a reporter on the ground. While you wait, here are some highlights from yesterday.
Longtime UConn coach Jim Calhoun (now at D-III Saint Joseph) recorded his 900th career win last week, becoming just the fourth coach in men's college basketball history to coach at least 10 seasons in D-I and notch 900 victories.
Answer at the bottom.
"Joe Burrow hasn't taken it easy on anyone all year. He earned that cigar. He earned that moment, and all the Louisiana hagiology that will follow. He can beat you with a wand. He can beat you with a sledgehammer. And for the rest of time in a football-mad region, they'll be talking about which way he did it best."— Barry Svrluga, WashPost
Each day this week, we'll be giving away three custom Axios Sports hats.
Kendall "Slingin' hats" Baker
Trivia answer: Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim and Bob Knight