Friday's sports stories

Jul 31, 2020 - Sports

A deeper look at MLB's new extra innings rule

Rays CF Kevin Kiermaier lays down a bunt. Photo: Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Extra innings in 2020 will begin with a man on second base — a temporary rule adopted by MLB to speed up games in this sprint of a season.

Why it matters: Some people hate the rule, but at the end of the day it leads to quicker games and more nuanced strategy.

Jul 31, 2020 - Sports

The NHL is back

Table: Axios Visuals

The NHL's race to the Stanley Cup begins Saturday, with 24 teams split between two bubbles — one centered around the Toronto Maple Leafs' Scotiabank Arena, the other around the Edmonton Oilers' Rogers Place.

The state of play: Once they reach the conference finals, the two remaining East teams will travel to Edmonton, where their families will be able to join them.

Jul 30, 2020 - Sports

Phillies delay series after 2 staff members test positive for coronavirus

The Phillie Phanatic stands on the dugout during a game between the Miami Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies on July 26. Photo: Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Philadelphia Phillies postponed its weekend series against the Toronto Blue Jays after two staff members tested positive for the coronavirus, ESPN reports.

Why it matters: It's the latest in a streak of scheduling shifts as Major League Baseball tries to pull off a 60-game season during the pandemic. The positive tests come after the Phillies faced the Miami Marlins — a team that has reports of multiple positive tests.

Go deeper: How baseball's coronavirus reckoning affects everything

Jul 30, 2020 - Sports

SEC announces conference-only football season

Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey announced on Thursday that the conference will hold a 10-game football schedule eliminating non-conference opponents to begin on Sept. 26.

The big picture: The "pandemic-forced decision ... pushes major college football closer to a siloed regular season in which none of the power conferences cross paths," AP writes. SEC joins other conferences, including the Ivy League, that have limited or canceled their fall sports altogether over concerns surrounding the coronavirus. The SEC's title game will be held December 19, two weeks later than planned, in Atlanta.

Go deeper: Michigan State football team to quarantine or self-isolate

Jul 30, 2020 - Podcasts

Deadspin "defector" on getting the band back together

Last year, nearly the entire editorial staff of sports-focused media site Deadspin quit in protest over private equity-backed management interference in their editorial decisions. Now they've reunited to form a company called Defector Media without any outside investors.

Why it matters: The broader media industry is watching Defector very carefully, particularly journalists who were either laid off or are worried about being laid off. Axios Re:Cap digs in with Defector co-founder Giri Nathan.

Jul 30, 2020 - Sports

Fall college sports face a great unknown

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

As colleges continue making decisions regarding both academics and athletics for the fall semester, the coronavirus continues to show it's far from run its course.

Driving the news: The New York Times released results of a nationwide survey yesterday, linking at least 6,300 coronavirus cases to roughly 270 colleges.

Jul 30, 2020 - Sports

The NBA is back

Table: Axios Visuals

The NBA returns tonight with a Western Conference doubleheader — Jazz vs. Pelicans and Clippers vs. Lakers — kicking off a 10-week race to the finish, all within the friendly confines of what's become an exceptionally well-run Disney World bubble.

The state of play: 22 teams made the trip to Orlando, and for the next two weeks they'll each play eight "seeding games" to determine the playoff field.