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Today's word count: 1,457 (5 minutes).
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios
The Astros' sign-stealing scandal is a huge black eye for Major League Baseball and threatens public trust in the sport, but what if I told you there was something that poses an even bigger threat to that trust? And what if I told you it was the baseball, itself?
Catch up quick: The "juiced baseball" emerged as a storyline last season, but the inconsistency of MLB's baseballs has been a theme for years.
The big picture: It would appear that baseball's most essential piece of equipment — one that affects every pitch, every player, every team, every championship — is either being intentionally modified to produce certain results or unintentionally altered from batch to batch.
What they're saying:
The bottom line: Baseball has a transparency problem, right down to its literal core.
P.S. ... In related news, the Astros hired former Rays executive James Click as their new general manager.
With Thursday's trade deadline fast approaching, discussions are being had, rumors are beginning to swirl and Woj is ... probably not sleeping.
Go deeper: Buying and selling the latest trade buzz (B/R)
BU 5, BC 4 — Freshman Wilmer Skoog (that name!) scored 7:20 into the second overtime against Boston College to punch Boston University's ticket to the Beanpot final next Monday, where the Terriers will be vying for their 31st title, most in the tourney's 68-year history.
Northeastern 3, Harvard 1 — Brendan van Riemsdyk (younger brother of NHLers James and Tyler) scored the tie-breaking goal for Northeastern, which is looking to win its third straight Beanpot and sixth overall, the least of the four participating schools (BU has 30, BC has 20, Harvard has 11).
Go deeper: The Beanpot has a truly stirring history (NHL.com)
Baylor, Gonzaga, Kansas and San Diego State remained atop the men's AP poll for the third straight week and have begun to separate themselves from the rest of the pack in the race for the four No. 1 seeds.
In related news ... The Wooden Award Watch List has been revised and reduced from 25 to 20 players. The current candidates:
The top seven teams remained unchanged in the latest women's AP poll, but after what went down in Hartford last night, we already know that won't be the case next week.
Driving the news: No. 3 Oregon destroyed No. 4 UConn 74-56 in Monday's marquee matchup, handing the Huskies their first loss on campus in seven years and their worst home loss since 2005.
13 years ago today, heavy rain fell over Miami — "and for those planning the Super Bowl XLI halftime show, so did a sense of dread," writes The Ringer's Alan Siegel.
What happened next: Prince happened. Instead of ruining the show, the rain made it iconic, with drops of water creating stars on the camera lenses and a thick mist providing a dreamlike backdrop.
An oral history of his iconic performance...
Kim Berry (hairstylist): "People ask me, 'Was there an umbrella on the stage? How did he not get wet?' I said, 'That man was pure magic.' He was one that could dance underwater and not get wet."
Ruth Arzate (manager): "When they announced Prince, and you see the symbol light up and all of that, the crowd. It's all dark. The crowd goes nuts. And I'm like, 'Are these white people really gonna be into Prince?'"
Mark Caro (reporter): "Just seeing him basking in that guitar solo on 'Purple Rain,' with the rain coming down ... It just was like, 'Whoa, this is really something.' This is an artistic statement rather than just a guy pushing those buttons and promoting his product. You just were in awe of him."
Above: A local surfer near the island of Enoshima, which will host the sailing events at the upcoming 2020 Olympics. Mount Fuji, an active volcano that last erupted in 1708, sits in the background.
Below: 23-year-old American Kevin Bickner competes during the Ski Jumping World Cup in Sapporo, which hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics.
Curtis Granderson, who announced his retirement on Friday, recorded the fifth-most triples of any player this century.
Answer at the bottom.
Kendall "That surfing pic..." Baker
Trivia answer: Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins, Carl Crawford, Ichiro Suzuki