👋 Good morning! A day after his name was mentioned 11 times in MLB's report on the Astros' sign-stealing scandal, Alex Cora is out as Red Sox manager. What an insane week for baseball.
Today's word count: 1,408 (5 minutes)
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
The WNBA and its players' union have come to terms on a new eight-year collective bargaining agreement that includes higher salaries, improved family benefits and better travel accommodations.
"We believe it's a groundbreaking and historic deal. I'm proud of the players; they bargained hard, they unified, they brought attention to so many important topics."— WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert
Why it matters: This represents a turning point for women's basketball and could ultimately lead to a substantial shift in how female athletes — across all sports — are compensated.
Between the lines: NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in 2018 that the WNBA had lost more than $10 million in each year of its operation, a figure that has been pointed to in the past as a reason to keep salaries low.
The bottom line per NYT's Howard Megdal: "The implications of the agreement stretch far beyond basketball at a time when women around the world are demanding increased pay and benefits, on their own merit and as a challenge to historically unequal pay that leaves them earning less than men for similar work."
FC Barcelona — which fired its manager on Monday — generated a record $933 million in revenue during the 2018–19 season, per Deloitte's annual report, making it the world's wealthiest soccer club for the first time.
Go deeper: Soccer jerseys are prime real estate for advertisers and sponsors (Axios)
Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium, which will host Sunday's AFC Championship Game. Photo: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Despite being America's most popular sports league, the NFL still faces the same attendance concerns as its peers. Proof: In 2019, teams averaged 66,648 attendees per game, the lowest in 15 years.
The response: At every NFL game, league employees are hidden in the crowd, tracking everything that happens. The goal: To better understand — and enhance — the fan experience and keep people interested in attending live games.
CLEMSON, S.C. — Three days after beating UNC in Chapel Hill for the first time ever, Aamir Simms (25 points) and Clemson knocked off No. 3 Duke, 79-72. Can you imagine if the Tigers had won on the gridiron Monday night? Would have been easily the greatest stretch in Clemson sports history.
PITTSBURGH — After missing 28 games recovering from core muscle surgery, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby returned to the ice with a vintage performance, posting a goal and three assists (and shattering ankles) in a 7-3 win over the Wild.
LOS ANGELES — Kawhi Leonard became the third player in the shot-clock era to score at least 43 points in under 29 minutes, as the Clippers cruised to a 128-103 win over the Cavaliers.
76ers All-Star Joel Embiid will launch his first signature shoe with Under Armour this fall, making him the 16th current NBA player — and only center — to have one.
Players with signature shoes:
⛳️ 60 seconds
The PGA Tour has unveiled a new pace-of-play policy that will see its slowest players placed on an observation list if they exceed 60 seconds to play a shot. An ensuing "bad time" will produce a warning, and any following bad times will result in a one-stroke penalty.
🎰 $3.29 billion
Helped by a surge in sports betting, Atlantic City's casinos won $3.29 billion from gamblers in 2019, an increase of over 15% from 2018 — and a huge boon for a city that's still recovering from a mid-decade meltdown that saw five casinos close.
🛒 25% greater
According to Fanatics, sales of LSU championship merchandise are on track to set a record as the best-selling college sports championship event in the retailer's history, with sales on pace to be 25% greater than the previous record set by Ohio State in 2015.
128 years ago today, James Naismith published the original rules of "Basket Ball" in "Triangle Magazine," a monthly journal published by Springfield College, where Naismith was a graduate student and instructor.
Go deeper: Basketball's birth, in James Naismith's own spoken words (NYT)
NEW YORK — Hey folks, Jordan Brail here (Axios correspondent for the week) reporting live from the 2020 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions inside Manhattan's Grand Central Terminal.
Here's how the rest of the action went down...
Women's draw: One semifinal matchup is set, while the other will be decided today.
Men's draw: One semifinal matchup is set, while the other will be decided today.
Coming up: You can watch the livestream of tonight's action here.
99 days from now, Joe Burrow will likely become the third player since the AFL/NFL merger to (a) win the Heisman Trophy, (b) win the national title and (c) go No. 1 overall in the draft.
Answer at the bottom.
The Enterprise Center, host of the 2020 NHL All-Star Game. Photo: Joe Puetz/NHLI via Getty Images
At the 2020 NHL All-Star Weekend in St. Louis later this month, a new skills competition will feature players shooting pucks from the stands, over the fans and at targets on the ice, ESPN reports. "It's hockey meets Topgolf," a source says.
💬 Question for you: What skills competition would you add to an existing All-Star Weekend/Pro Bowl? It can be any sport. Reply to this email with your idea, and I'll share the best ones tomorrow.
Each day this week, we'll be giving away three custom Axios Sports hats.
Kendall "Basket Ball" Baker
Trivia answer: Cam Newton (2011) and Jameis Winston (2015)