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Argos beat Blue Bombers in first game back at BMO Field in nearly two years –



TORONTO — Nick Arbuckle made his first CFL start in more than two years a memorable one – and rewarded starved Argonauts fans with a victory in their first home game in nearly two years.

Arbuckle threw one touchdown pass and dove in for his own to lift the Argos to a 30-23 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, in Toronto’s long-awaited return to BMO Field on Saturday.

Moments after the win, he scooped up his 15-month-old daughter Aaliyah, who wore a custom-made No. 9 Argos jersey. Aaliyah wasn’t yet born the last time her dad started a CFL game, with Calgary in 2019.

“This was the first game that my daughter’s ever been to. And we got the win,” Arbuckle said with a grin.

DaVaris Daniels scored on the reception, while D.J. Foster added a rushing touchdown for Toronto (2-1).

Darvin Adams and Rasheed Bailey had touchdown receptions for the Bombers (2-1), while Jesse Briggs scooped up a fumble and ran 83 yards in Winnipeg’s first loss of this abbreviated season.

The victory was revenge for Toronto, who dropped a 20-7 decision in Winnipeg a week earlier. It was also a fitting victory for the Argos, who hadn’t played a game at their BMO Field home for 665 lone days – not since a big 39-9 victory over Ottawa on Oct. 26, 2019. Then the global COVID-19 pandemic erased the 2020 CFL season.

“It’s great,” Argos rookie head coach Ryan Dinwiddie said. “We were happy to be playing at home, show them the new Argos, so we appreciated it.”

A smiling Argos general manager Pinball Clemons took the mic pre-game to address the sundrenched 9,866 fans in attendance on a steamy 28 C afternoon. Ontario COVID-19 guidelines allowed for 15,000 fans at the game.

“Hopefully we can get some more guys coming to our next game, and we can build off that,” Dinwiddie said. “We want to build relations with the fans . . . players are out there now shaking hands and doing those things to let them know we appreciate them.”

Arbuckle made his Argonauts debut a week earlier when Dinwiddie sent him in the second half in place of veteran McLeod Bethel-Thompson. Dinwiddie had said there was a sense of familiarity with Arbuckle, as Dinwiddie had been the quarterbacks coach in Calgary when Arbuckle played there.

The 27-year-old quarterback completed 23-of-32 pass attempts for 310 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions.

Bombers QB Zach Collaros was 18 of 33 for 204 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

Boris Bede booted three field goals for Toronto, from 52, 31 and 37 yards.

The tone of the game changed early in the second half when Daniels took a massive hit from Brandon Alexander that knocked his helmet off before he hit the ground. Daniels was down for several nervous minutes before he was helped off the field. Alexander was whistled for unnecessary roughness – and a 15-yard penalty – on the play.

“That changed the attitude of the offence a little bit,” Arbuckle said. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get going and score as many points after that as we wanted to. We were all kind of playing with a little bit of an edge and unfortunately kind of showed up in the (referee’s) whistle a few times, but we felt like we needed to protect a guy that they injured with what we felt like was a cheap shot.”

Foster scored Toronto’s first touchdown of the game, running it in from 10 yards out at 7:39 of the first to cap a 61-yard touchdown drive from Arbuckle.

Former Argos QB Collaros had a pass attempt picked off by Dexter McCoil Sr., that led to an Argos field goal that summed up the Bombers’ slow start to the game.

Bede booted two field goals in the quarter and Toronto led 13-0 to start the second quarter.

The Bombers finally got on the scoreboard when Jackson Jeffcoat batted the ball out of Arbuckle’s hands from behind. Briggs scooped up the ball and sprinted virtually unchallenged for an 83-yard touchdown at 3:14 of the second.

Winnipeg pulled to within 16-14 on Adams’ 51-yard touchdown catch at 12:04 of the second.

Arbuckle threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Daniels to cap a 63-yard drive that sent Toronto into the dressing room at halftime with a 22-14 lead.

Arbuckle tossed a 31-yard pass to rookie Dejon Brissett – brother of Indiana Pacers/former Toronto Raptor power forward Oshae Brissett – that put Toronto on the one-yard line. Arbuckle muscled his way in for the touchdown at 7:55 of the third for a 29-15 lead.

The Bombers made things interesting in the final minutes when Collaros capped his 83-yard drive with a seven-yard TD pass to Bailey at 12:48 to slice the difference to seven points. But it was too little too late.

“You can tell from our demeanour right now that we’re upset about that,” Alexander said. “We laid an egg on our side. You can’t do nothing about it now, but just go back and watch film and correct a couple things. We all left a lot of plays out there, myself included.”

Bombers special teams ace Mike Miller had two tackles on the afternoon to break the CFL all-time special teams record. He now has 191, topping the 190 tackles by Jason Arakgi (2008-2016 with the B.C. Lions).

Because of COVID-19, the CFL pushed back the start of the season by nearly two months, and shortened the regular season from 18 to 14 games with no pre-season.

The Argos host the Edmonton Eskimos on Thursday, while the Blue Bombers return home to host Calgary on Aug. 29.

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Blue Jays' stadium capacity to rise to 30,000 as Ontario increases limits for sporting and event spaces –



The Toronto Blue Jays will get a home-field advantage boost when they return to Rogers Centre next week.

Seating capacity at the downtown stadium will be doubled to 30,000 starting with Tuesday night’s series opener against the New York Yankees.

The Blue Jays received approval from the Ontario government for the increase on Friday.

Ontario announced Friday it is easing capacity limits in certain sports and event venues that require proof of vaccination.

Starting Saturday, capacity limits at outdoor events where people stand will increase to up to 75 per cent capacity or 15,000 people, whichever is less.

For outdoor events where people are seated, capacity limits will be increased to up to 75 per cent capacity or 30,000 people. Proof of vaccination will now be required in outdoor settings where the normal capacity is 20,000 people or more.

The Rogers Centre will be treated as an outdoor venue even with the roof closed, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said, citing the building’s ventilation system.

Noting almost 80 per cent of eligible Ontarians are fully vaccinated, Moore said “we are able to recommend cautiously easing capacity limits in certain settings.”

The Blue Jays announced Thursday that they would make additional tickets available for their final home stand next week. They were hopeful that government regulations would be loosened for those six games and any post-season home games should the team qualify.

Forced to play south of the border last season and part of this season due to pandemic-related travel restrictions, the Blue Jays received clearance to return home in mid-July.

The team played its 2021 Rogers Centre opener on July 30 after receiving a national interest travel exemption from the federal government. The Blue Jays were approved to treat the stadium as an outdoor venue at just less than one-third of the stadium’s regular 49,000-seat capacity.

Other professional teams in the province, including NHL, MLS and CFL clubs, returned to play earlier this year with limited attendance due to government restrictions.

Attendance for Maple Leaf and Raptors games at Scotiabank Arena will be capped at 50 per cent capacity starting Saturday.

The Blue Jays, meanwhile, could certainly use the extra boost from a raucous home crowd as Canada’s lone Major League Baseball club makes a push for the post-season.

Toronto, currently wrapping up a road trip with a weekend series in Minnesota, will entertain the Yankees in a critical three-game set before closing out the regular season against the Baltimore Orioles next weekend.

The Blue Jays will open the stadium’s top deck — the 500 level — for the first time this season and additional seats were made available in the 100 and 200 levels. The team would have issued refunds to ticket purchasers if capacity was not expanded.

Team president Mark Shapiro has said the stadium’s retractable roof would be open as long as the weather allows, and additional measures had been taken to ensure proper ventilation.

The Blue Jays require proof of full COVID-19 vaccination for all fans aged 12 and older upon entering Rogers Centre. A negative COVID-19 test is no longer accepted except for individuals with a doctor’s note indicating they can’t receive the vaccine due to medical exemptions.

The Blue Jays played last year’s condensed schedule at the home field of their triple-A affiliate in Buffalo. The team started the 2021 campaign at its spring training home in Dunedin, Fla., before moving back to Buffalo and then finally to Toronto.

Entering play Friday, Toronto was one game behind New York in the race for the second American League wild-card spot. The Yankees were two games behind the Boston Red Sox, who held the first spot.

The AL wild-card game is scheduled for Oct. 5. The winner advances to a best-of-five AL Division Series starting Oct. 7.

The Blue Jays reached the playoffs last season but were swept by the Tampa Bay Rays in a best-of-three wild-card series. It was Toronto’s first post-season appearance since 2016.

Toronto’s last World Series title came in 1993.

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Rory McIlroy is sitting a Ryder Cup session for the first time in his career – Golf Channel



SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – For the first time in a storied Ryder Cup career, Rory McIlroy will play the role of cheerleader on Saturday at Whistling Straits.

McIlroy was not in European captain Padraig Harrington’s foursomes lineup after going 0-2, including a 5-and-3 loss to Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele in the morning foursomes session, on Day 1 at Whistling Straits. Paired with Shane Lowry in the afternoon fourball session McIlroy lost, 4 and 3.

“He’s already a leader. You saw him out there after a tough day, he was out following those matches and supporting his team,” Harrington said. “He is very much a leader amongst his peers and I couldn’t have asked more from him during the year, I couldn’t have asked more from him today.”

Match scoring for the 43rd Ryder Cup

McIlroy had played 26 consecutive matches (including his singles starts) before Saturday. Because of weather delays in Wales in 2010 that forced officials to combine the second and third sessions he only played four times.

McIlroy’s overall record in the Ryder Cup is now 11-11-4.

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Wiggins denied COVID-19 vaccination exemption by NBA – CTV News



The NBA has denied Andrew Wiggins’ request for a vaccination exemption, leaving the Golden State Warriors swingman ineligible to play home games until he meets San Francisco’s vaccination requirement.

The ruling was announced Friday hours after the New York Knicks said their entire roster is vaccinated, making all their players eligible to play in their home games.

Because of local coronavirus regulations in New York and San Francisco, the Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Warriors are required to be vaccinated to play in their home arenas unless exemptions for medical or religious reasons apply.

Wiggins sought an exemption from the league for religious reasons.

“The NBA has reviewed and denied Andrew Wiggins’ request for religious exemption from the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s order requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all participants age 12 and older at large indoor events,” the league said in a statement. “Wiggins will not be able to play in Warriors home games until he fulfills the city’s vaccination requirements.”

Unvaccinated players are allowed to play this season, though the NBA has said that they will have to be tested daily on practice and travel days and at least once — possibly more — on game days, while fully vaccinated players will not be subject to daily testing.

However, the Knicks, Nets and Warriors face stricter rules because of their local regulations, which the NBA has told teams do not apply to clubs visiting them.

The Knicks are the first of those teams to say they have met the mandate.

“I’m proud to say that our organization — players, coaches and staff — are 100 percent vaccinated,” general manager Scott Perry said Friday. “And I think it’s a credit to our players, too, in particular that they took this thing very seriously and took the responsibility to get that done.”

Nets general manager Sean Marks said earlier this week that a couple players wouldn’t yet be eligible, but he was confident everyone would be able to participate by the time the regular season began on Oct. 19.

Wiggins still has time, as San Francisco’s mandate doesn’t take effect until the middle of next month. Training camps open Tuesday.

The NBA has struck agreements this offseason to have virtually all parties involved in games — referees, coaches, stat-crew workers and anyone else who will be in close proximity to players on or off the court in NBA arenas — vaccinated in order to participate.

The one exception: The players themselves, with the National Basketball Players Association rebuking all efforts from the NBA to mandate that they be vaccinated. About 85% of players were vaccinated at the end of last season. The leaguewide figure is believed to have increased since.

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau credited the Knicks’ medical staff for keeping the organization educated and aware about virus protocols. Perry praised the players for acting on the information they were given, saying their decision to get vaccinated was unrelated to any rules.

“As an organization we’re obviously following laws and mandates for the league and state government, but a lot of this was internal, internally driven,” Perry said.


AP basketball writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.

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