👋 Good morning! Let's sports.
Today's word count: 1,382 words (5 minutes).
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Barstool Sports used to be a media company. But on the heels of a $163 million investment from Penn National Gaming, it is now, in many respects, a sports betting company.
Why it matters: Barstool's evolution speaks to where the sports betting industry stands at the outset of 2020.
What to watch in 2020...
1. More media deals: Since the Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on sports betting 20 months ago, fantasy sports companies like DraftKings and FanDuel have benefitted from being top of mind among casual bettors, while most gambling operators have struggled with brand awareness.
2. Continued legalization: By the end of 2020, more than half of U.S. states could realistically have legalized betting — a tipping point for an industry that is currently catering to a fragmented audience.
3. Startup explosion: Many of the startups that got off the ground last year are either entering major growth phases or on the verge of rolling out their MVPs (minimum viable products) in 2020.
4. Branded sportsbooks: As I mentioned earlier, the Barstool acquisition lets Penn funnel users directly into its retail sportsbooks and mobile app. But hang on — why not take it a step further and just rebrand to ... "Barstool Sportsbook?"
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
To understand the scope of his favorite team's cheating scandal, angry Astros fan Tony Adams spent the last few weeks meticulously sorting through every home game with available video from the 2017 regular season.
By the numbers:
In other news ... the Astros have hired Dusty Baker, 70, as their new manager. Good luck, man.
Photo: Apu Gomes/Getty Images
"Once heralded as the next Nike, Under Armour has faltered, hurt by slumping sales and unflattering revelations about its corporate culture," write NYT's Julie Creswell and Kevin Draper.
"The fashion cycle moved away from them. They stayed true to their muse, performance footwear and apparel. But that's just not where the business is. Right now, it's all about fashion and athleisure."— Matt Powell, analyst at NPD Group
Go deeper: How Under Armour lost its edge
Men: Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer in straight sets 7-6, 6-4, 6-3 to book his eighth trip to the Australian Open final. He'll play the winner of Thiem-Zverev (3:30am ET).
Women: So long in the shadows of other Americans, 21-year-old Sofia Kenin ousted No. 1 seed Ashleigh Barty 7-6 (6), 7-5 to advance to her first Grand Slam final. She'll play unseeded Garbiñe Muguruza, who knocked out No. 4 seed Simona Halep.
My take: On one hand, watching pitchers swing through fastballs isn't exactly my idea of a good time (pitchers hit .131 last year). On the other hand, double switches add a much-needed element of managerial strategy to baseball. Tough call, but I'd vote "no."
P.S. ... Here's an idea from a reader that's kind of fun:
"Both leagues have a DH as long as the starting pitcher is in the game. As soon as the starter is out, the DH is out and the pitcher takes that spot in the batting order. This would give the advantage of having a DH early in the game but retain the strategy that comes with replacing pitchers and double switches late in the game. And it rewards starting pitchers who go deep."
72 years ago today, the 1948 Winter Olympics — the first Olympics to be celebrated after World War II — kicked off in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
Barbara Ann Scott (above) became the first and only Canadian woman to win gold in figure skating. On the men's side, 18-year-old American Dick Button completed the North American sweep.
The U.S. sent two hockey teams to compete in St. Moritz due to issues around amateurism, and it nearly caused the cancellation of the entire tournament.
Bobsled drama: "A controversy erupted when it was alleged that the sleds of the U.S. team had been sabotaged. After news broke ... a truck driver stepped forward and admitted to having accidentally backed into the shed housing the bobsleds." (Wikipedia)
NYT reporter John Branch pulls back the curtain on Japan's skateboarding culture, which is about to have its moment at the Tokyo Olympics...
"Skateboarding's history and culture in Japan is an echo of the United States — imported a generation ago, through rebellious teens skating in the dim corners of polite Japanese society.
"One big difference from America? Skateboarding, with all its noise and commotion, has never been welcomed on the streets and sidewalks of Japan.
"But that has not hindered its growth. Skateparks are popping up everywhere, skateboarding's countercultural vibe has hit the mainstream, and Japan is expected to dominate its competitors when skateboarding makes its Olympic debut at this year's Summer Games."
Sofia Kenin (21 years, 79 days old) is the youngest Australian Open women's finalist since 2008, when two 20-year-olds squared off in the finals.
Answer at the bottom.
Kendall "Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme" Baker
Trivia answer: Maria Sharapova