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Just before Super Bowl LIV, Fox aired a video commemorating the NFL's 100th anniversary. It featured a young boy running a football across America, with various NFL legends telling him to "Take it to the house, kid! before switching to the live broadcast, where the young boy ran onto the field and handed the ref the game ball.
Who is he? The star of the commercial is 13-year-old football and track prodigy, Maxwell "Bunchie" Young, who was named SI's "Sportskid of the Year" in 2017 and was recently featured on "No Days Off," a YouTube show about sports prodigies from Whistle (previously Whistle Sports).
The Astros had three months to craft a thoughtful apology for the team's sign-stealing scandal. Instead, José Altuve and Alex Bregman spoke for a combined 90 seconds — and owner Jim Crane questioned whether sign-stealing even helped his team win games.
The big picture: While baseball grapples with the fallout, don't lose sight of the many other problems Major League Baseball faces as commissioner Rob Manfred enters his sixth season at the helm.
The Houston Astros are very sorry for cheating their way to a World Series win, even as their owner bizarrely flip-flopped on whether their cheating changed any games.
Why it matters: The sign-stealing scandal is among the biggest since the steroid era, spilling over into other clubs and giving MLB some nasty publicity.
100 years ago Thursday, the Negro National League was founded by former pitcher and executive Rube Foster.
Why it matters: The NNL became the first Negro league to achieve stability and last more than one season. It "proved that African American players could play on even terms with their white counterparts — and draw just as much interest from baseball fans," per the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Basketball shoe sales are down for the fourth consecutive year, and the industry is being crushed by the athleisure wave.
By the numbers: Basketball shoe sales currently represent less than 5% of the athletic shoe market, a huge drop from their 13% market share in 2014, per research firm NPD.
The average NBA franchise is now valued at $2.12 billion, per Forbes — a figure that has grown 476% in the past decade.
Why it matters: Thanks to the NBA's international growth and the $24 billion TV deal it signed with ESPN and Turner in 2014, team values have grown at a much faster rate than the other three major U.S. sports leagues.
Over the weekend, a bombshell Wall Street Journal report revealed that the Astros' front office was not only aware of the sign-stealing that was going on but, in fact, created the system in the first place. It even had a name: "Codebreaker."
How it worked: Using an in-game live feed, someone would log the catchers' signs and the type of pitch that was thrown into an Excel spreadsheet. An algorithm would then decipher what each sign meant and that information was communicated to a baserunner, who would relay it to the hitter.
Major League Baseball is considering expanding the postseason to nearly half the 30 teams and allowing higher-seeded wild-card teams to choose opponents, the AP reports.
The state of play: The playoffs would grow from 10 clubs to 14, with four wild cards in each league, up from two. The selections would be made on a televised show.
The coronavirus outbreak has halted work and travel in China, and the ripple effects are now impacting the NHL.
The state of play: New Hampshire-based Bauer and Montreal-based CCM supply roughly 75% of NHL players with sticks, which are highly customizable and made in small batches in China. With the country at a standstill, the NHL has been unable to get fresh stock.
The Milwaukee Bucks are in the midst of one of the best regular seasons in NBA history.
Why it matters: The Bucks have a per-game average point differential of +12.4, which is higher than any team's full-season rate in NBA history.