Major League Baseball’s plan to use all 30 home ballparks for a shortened, 60-game season met an immovable obstacle on Saturday: the Canadian government. The Toronto Blue Jays, the only team in the league that is based outside the United States, will not be allowed to stage home games during the coronavirus pandemic.
Marco Mendicino, Canada’s immigration minister, announced on Saturday that the government had turned down the Blue Jays’ request to play at Rogers Centre, where their first game had been scheduled for July 29 against the Washington Nationals.
The Blue Jays have been training at home this month and had gotten permission from the city of Toronto and the province of Ontario to play games there. But the federal government ruled that the travel required to host 10 series involving eight visiting teams was not worth the risk.
“Unlike preseason training, regular-season games would require repeated cross-border travel of Blue Jays players and staff, as well as opponent teams into and out of Canada,” Mendicino said in a statement. “Of particular concern, the Toronto Blue Jays would be required to play in locations where the risk of virus transmission remains high.”
He continued: “Based on the best-available public health advice, we have concluded the cross-border travel required for M.L.B. regular-season play would not adequately protect Canadians’ health and safety. As a result, Canada will not be issuing a National Interest Exemption for the M.L.B.’s regular season at this time.”
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In a statement, the Blue Jays said they were “in the process of finalizing the best home location,” without specifying where that would be.
“The team completely respects the federal government’s decision,” Mark Shapiro, the Blue Jays’ president and chief executive, said in a statement. “Though our team will not be playing home games at Rogers Centre this summer, our players will take the field for the 2020 season with the same pride and passion representative of an entire nation.”
An official with knowledge of the Blue Jays’ plans, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for the team, said the likely destination would be Buffalo, nearly a two-hour drive south and home of the Blue Jays’ Class AAA team.
“As Mayor of Buffalo,” the city’s mayor, Byron W. Brown, wrote on Twitter, “I would love to see the @BlueJays play at Sahlen Field.”
The Blue Jays’ spring training complex in Dunedin, Fla., is a less likely landing spot because of the surge in coronavirus cases in Florida. M.L.B. already has two teams in Florida — the Miami Marlins and the Tampa Bay Rays — but they have been training there all month, and it would seem unwise to ask a whole new group of players to relocate to a virus hot spot.
Sahlen Field in Buffalo — named for a local meatpacking company — opened in 1988 with hopes of landing an expansion team or luring an existing team to town. The ballpark added a $1 million lighting system in 2011, according to The Buffalo News, but that was before advancements in LED lighting that a major league team might require.
There are two other Class AAA parks in upstate New York, in Rochester and Syracuse, and the Blue Jays’ Class AA team plays in Manchester, N.H., in a state that has never hosted a major league game. The closest major league facility to Toronto is Comerica Park in Detroit — though the Tigers, of course, will be playing games there.
Asking the Blue Jays to play all 60 games on the road would seem impractical, especially considering the health risks of so much extra travel. If Buffalo becomes their temporary home, it would give the state of New York three home teams — for one mini-season, anyway — for the first time since 1957, when the Giants and the Dodgers fled to California and left the Yankees alone in New York.
Teams have been forced out of their home ballparks before. Miller Park in Milwaukee was a temporary home for the Cleveland Indians in 2007 and the Houston Astros in 2008 because of weather conditions in those cities.
In 1991, the Montreal Expos shifted their final 13 home games to opponents’ parks after a 55-ton chunk of concrete fell at Olympic Stadium. Three years later, the Seattle Mariners ended their season with a 20-game road trip after ceiling tiles fell from the Kingdome roof. In 1998, the Yankees moved a home game to Shea Stadium after a concrete-and-steel beam fell into the loge-level seats at Yankee Stadium before a game with the Angels.
Buffalo had a National League franchise, the Bisons, from 1879 through 1885, with the Hall of Fame pitcher Pud Galvin the team’s biggest star. To signify how much baseball has changed since then, consider that Galvin won 46 games while pitching more than 600 innings in 1883 — and then did it again the next year.
Broncos’ Kendall Hinton QB experiment falls short against Saints’ defence – Sportsnet.ca
DENVER — Taysom Hill didn’t look much like an NFL quarterback Sunday when the Denver Broncos held him to 78 yards passing, intercepted him once and sacked him three times.
Despite a paltry passer rating of 43.2, it wasn’t Hill who looked out of position in a game New Orleans won handily 31-3 for their first win over the Broncos since Dec. 24, 1994.
It was Broncos QB Kendall Hinton who looked lost _ and for good reason: until Sunday he was a practice squad receiver, and he was forced into action when all of Denver’s quarterbacks were disqualified over coronavirus concerns.
By comparison, Hill looked like Tom Brady.
“Taysom played this thing just how I wanted him to play it, and it doesn’t have to be esthetically pleasing to be effective,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “The job is to win and he did a good job of that.”
In a grind-it-out slugfest like from pro football’s early days, the Saints won their second straight game with Hill subbing for the injured Drew Brees. But Hill wasn’t nearly as sharp as a week earlier against the Falcons, when he completed 18 of 23 passes for 233 yards and a 108.9 passer rating.
Hill did run for 44 yards and two touchdowns against the Broncos and Latavius Murray rushed for 124 yards and two scores to help the NFC-leading Saints (9-2) overcome a slow start and win for the eighth straight time.
“The game plan changed the last 24 hours. So, my mindset changed as well and I really became a game manager at that point and certainly the way Sean called the game reflected that,” Hill said. “We’re not going to take any unnecessary risks and put the defence in a bad situation.”
The Broncos (4-7) were forced to play without any of their four quarterbacks because of coronavirus concerns, so they promoted Hinton from their practice squad two hours before kickoff.
“When I got the call it was pure excitement,” Hinton said. “Of course, there was nerves and disbelief but the encouragement the team gave me … made it a lot easier for me.”
The former Wake Forest quarterback who converted to wide receiver his senior year went just 1-for-9 for 13 yards with a sack, two interceptions and a passer rating of zero.
“He did everything he could,” Broncos coach Vic Fangio said. “That was a big, big ask.”
The Broncos (4-7) also sprinkled in some wildcat snaps to running backs Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay, who left in the second half with a knee injury.
The Broncos were thrust into this quarterback quandary when their passers failed to wear masks as mandated by the NFL’s COVID-19 protocol last week.
Starting quarterback Drew Lock, backup Brett Rypien and practice squad veteran Blake Bortles were disqualified over the weekend when the NFL discovered the three weren’t wearing masks around each other before No. 3 QB Jeff Driskel tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday.
The Broncos managed 37 yards and a single first down before heading into halftime down 17-0 after the Saints scored twice off turnovers in the final 2:22 of the second quarter.
Centre Lloyd Cushenberry III’s low snap skittered past Lindsay and Kwon Alexander was headed for the end zone after scooping it up. Broncos left tackle Garett Bolles, who signed a four-year, $68 million extension Saturday, tripped him up at the 23.
Hill, who scored from 1 yard in the first quarter, added a 2-yard TD run to make it 14-0. Two plays later, Janoris Jenkins intercepted Hinton’s underthrown pass to DaeSean Hamilton, and that set up Wil Lutz’s 40-yard field goal as the clock expired.
It took Brandon McManus’ 58-yard field goal to keep the Broncos from getting shut out at home for the first time ever _ 465 games.
The field goal was set up by another undrafted Wake Forest rookie, cornerback Essang Bassey, who returned an interception 26 yards to the Saints 40-yard line in the third quarter.
The Broncos tried to persuade the NFL to delay the game to Monday or Tuesday night like the Ravens-Steelers game was pushed back from Thanksgiving after a virus outbreak on the Ravens. When that failed, they turned to Hilton, who played quarterback his first three seasons at Wake Forest before moving to receiver in 2019, when he caught 73 passes for 1,001 yards and four touchdowns.
He signed with Denver as an undrafted free agent and spent all of training camp with the Broncos before being waived on Sept. 5. He rejoined the practice squad on Nov. 4.
Hinton’s last touchdown pass came on Oct. 7, 2017, against Clemson, which is more recently than Hill, whose last TD throw was on Nov. 26, 2016, for BYU against Utah State.
An hour before kickoff, Lock tweeted an explanation and a mea culpa in which he admitted the QBs weren’t wearing their masks when they gathered Wednesday.
While some players such as tight end Noah Fant were incredulous over the league forcing Denver to play a game without any of its QBs, other Broncos took the news in stride.
Von Miller and Bradley Chubb both made posts comically suggesting they could play quarterback, and the team’s Twitter account even had a mock request inquiring if Nuggets supreme passer Nikola Jokic might be available.
On Saturday night, Fant also tweeted, “Anybody know if Peyton Manning is busy tomorrow? Laughing but serious”
Saints placed backup G Derrick Kelly on the reserve/COVID-19 list Sunday.
Saints: visit Atlanta for the second leg of a three-week road trip.
Broncos: Visit Kansas City to try snapping a 10-game losing streak to the Chiefs.
Mike Tyson dominant as he fights to a draw with Roy Jones Jr. in exhibition – National Post
Mike Tyson showed age has not robbed him of his power as the former heavyweight champion, in his long-awaited return to the ring, dominated Roy Jones Jr. in an exhibition fight on Saturday in Los Angeles that was surprisingly ruled a draw.
While there were no ringside judges to score the eight-round contest between two of boxing’s all-time greats, both over 50, and no official winner, the World Boxing Council formed a set of judges that remotely scored the bout.
“I’m used to doing it for three minutes,” 54-year-old Tyson said of the shorter rounds. “Sometimes, that two minutes felt like three minutes. I’m happy I got this under my belt to keep doing this and go further.”
Tyson, 15 years removed from his ignominious defeat to Irishman Kevin McBride in the last professional fight of his career, came out firing and was in control of the bout the entire way.
Jones Jr, 51, was the more visibly fatigued of the two fighters but managed to pick up the pace in the later rounds enough to earn the win on one scorecard and a draw on the other while Tyson took the third scorecard.
Investigators search doctor’s office in Maradona death probe – Al Jazeera English
Tearful Leopoldo Luque tells reporters he gave investigators all records of his treatment of the football star.
Argentine police have searched the home and office of one of Diego Maradona’s doctors, taking away medical records as part of investigations into the death of the 60-year-old football star that caused a wave of grief across the country.
Neurologist Leopoldo Luque told reporters after the searches that he had given investigators all of the records of his treatment of Maradona, as well as computers, hard drives and cellphones.
Weeping at times, he insisted he defended his treatment of the troubled football legend, who died on Wednesday of a heart attack following a November 3 brain operation.
“I know what I did. I know how I did it … I am absolutely sure that what I did the best for Diego, the best I could,” he said on Sunday.
Luque said he was not Maradona’s chief physician, but part of a medical team.
The search order was requested by prosecutors in the affluent Buenos Aires suburb San Isidro and signed by a local judge, according to a statement issued by the prosecutor’s office.
“Yesterday [Saturday] the investigation and substantiation of evidence continued with the taking of statements from people including direct relatives of the deceased,” it said.
“By virtue of the evidence that was collected, it was considered necessary to request searches at the home and office of doctor Leopoldo Luque,” the prosecutor’s office said in the statement.
The prosecutor’s office is overseeing a probe into the medical attention that Maradona received before his death, which caused an enormous outpouring of emotion across Argentina and among football fans across the world.
It provided no information on what prompted the investigation.
Maradona’s lawyer, Matias Moria, on Thursday said he would ask for a full investigation of the circumstances of the football legend’s death, criticising what he said was a slow response by the emergency services.
“The ambulance took more than half an hour to arrive, which was a criminal idiocy,” Matias said on Thursday in a Twitter post.
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