Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has suspended Red Sox video replay system operator J.T. Watkins for the 2020 season and docked Boston a second-round pick, following an investigation into 2018 sign-stealing allegations,

Why it matters: After months of speculation regarding the severity of Boston's wrongdoings and expected punishments, MLB found the Red Sox scheme far less devious than the Astros' scheme, holding just one low-level staffer responsible for the whole thing.

  • Manfred also suspended former Red Sox manager Alex Cora through the 2020 postseason, though that was exclusively for his role as the Astros bench coach in 2017, The Athletic reports.

What they're saying: Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy issued a statement, saying "MLB acknowledged the front office's extensive efforts to communicate and enforce the rules and concluded that Alex Cora, the coaching staff, and most of the players did not engage in, nor were they aware of, any violations."

  • According to Manfred, many players told investigators that "they were unaware that in-game sign decoding from the replay station had been prohibited in 2018 and 2019."
  • That's despite the now-famous Apple Watch incident of 2017, which Manfred used as the impetus to create guidelines regarding the legal use of technology during games.
  • In other words, those players either lied to investigators or kept their headphones on during the front office's aforementioned "extensive efforts to communicate and enforce the rules." Either way, not a great look.

The bottom line: With everyone's attention on coronavirus, MLB was glad to have the Astros scandal mostly in the rearview, but the shadow of an unfinished investigation into the Red Sox still hung over the league.

  • By releasing his findings on the eve of the NFL draft, Manfred effectively tried to bury what he hopes is the final chapter of the worst scandal to hit baseball since the steroid era.

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

France reported more than 2,500 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours — the largest single-day number since May. French officials said the situation was "clearly worsening," per France 24.

By the numbers: Over 745,600 people have died of the novel coronavirus globally and over 20.4 million have tested positive, per Johns Hopkins. Almost 12.7 million have recovered from the virus.

Biden campaign raises $26 million in 24 hours after announcing Harris as running mate

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Joe Biden's campaign announced on Wednesday that it raised $26 million in the 24 hours after revealing Sen. Kamala Harris as his vice presidential pick.

Why it matters: The cash influx signals that Harris has helped the Democratic presidential campaign pick up steam. Nearly 150,000 contributors were first-time donors, according to the campaign statement.

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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

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