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Blue Jays clinch playoff spot for first time since 2016 – Sportsnet.ca

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BUFFALO, N.Y. — A two-word message — Respect Toronto — was emblazoned on the T-shirts the Blue Jays put on shortly after locking down a playoff berth Thursday night.

A team that many baseball observers didn’t think would make the cut for the expanded playoffs has proven the doubters wrong. The Blue Jays are in — likely as the eighth seed in the American League — but are resolute in the feeling that they belong.

“I think we’re a pretty scary team,” said Toronto infielder Cavan Biggio. “We’ve seen what we can do with the bats. It’s hard to put us out of games, especially with the way we can score runs.”

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., homered and ace Hyun-Jin Ryu threw seven shutout innings as the Blue Jays beat the New York Yankees 4-1 to secure their first post-season berth in four years.

When Rafael Dolis fanned Aaron Hicks in the ninth for his third strikeout of the inning, the celebration was on at Sahlen Field. There were no fans in the stadium but the Blue Jays still whooped it up near the dugout of their temporary home in this pandemic-shortened season.

“We keep believing in ourselves,” said manager Charlie Montoyo. “It’s awesome. I’m so proud of this group. I’m the happiest guy right now.”

The Blue Jays survived some nervous moments after a stellar performance from Ryu. Reliever Anthony Bass struggled with control in the eighth and it nearly proved costly.

Bass was pulled after loading the bases with his third walk of the frame. Dolis came on and got pinch-hitter Gary Sanchez to fly out on a ball that Randal Grichuk caught against the wall in left-centre field — missing a grand slam by a couple feet — for the third out.

The Blue Jays (30-27) were in control of their playoff destiny after entering play with a magic number of one. The two teams that had a chance of catching Toronto — the Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners — were idle.

Regular-season play continues through Sunday and the playoffs will begin Tuesday. All first-round series will be best-of-three matchups.

It’s possible the Blue Jays could still move up in the seeding order, but they are good bets to stay in the No. 8 position. If the season ended Thursday night, Toronto would meet the top-seeded Tampa Bay Rays.

“I think the pressure is off — honestly,” Montoyo said. “Just go out and play and have fun. We’re going to enjoy every minute of it. We know that what’s coming is not easy, but that’s fine. It hasn’t been easy the whole time.”

Under Major League Baseball’s expanded playoff structure, 16 teams will reach the playoffs. Division winners will be seeded Nos. 1-3 in each league, second-place teams will be seeded fourth through sixth, and two third-place wild-card teams will get the seventh and eighth seeds.

“I think not many teams are going to want to face us just because of the edge we play (with), the offence and the bullpen that we have,” Biggio said. “It’s going to be exciting and I’m looking forward to it.”

Guerrero had three of Toronto’s 10 hits on Thursday night. He hit a solo homer off New York starter Jordan Montgomery in the second inning and scored on Alejandro Kirk‘s two-run double in the sixth inning.

Ryu pitched into the seventh inning for the first time this season, allowing five hits and two walks. He had four strikeouts and threw 62 of his 100 pitches for strikes.

Gio Urshela doubled off Ryu (5-2) in the second inning to extend his hitting streak to 13 games. He was left stranded when Clint Frazier struck out.

Guerrero turned on a 1-1 pitch from Montgomery (2-3) in the bottom half of the frame for his eighth homer. Back-to-back doubles from Biggio and Bo Bichette in the third made it a 2-0 game.

The Yankees (32-25) threatened in the sixth inning after singles by Luke Voit and Hicks. But Ryu struck out Giancarlo Stanton, got Gleyber Torres to fly out and then retired Urshela on a groundout.

Kirk, a rookie catcher who served as designated hitter, lashed a pitch from Adam Ottavino into the left-field corner to help the Blue Jays double their lead. Grichuk scored ahead of Guerrero, who hustled around third base and slid just under Kyle Higashioka’s tag.

New York can’t catch first-place Tampa Bay in the East and has a magic number of one to secure second place in the division.

The Blue Jays won the wild-card game en route to an appearance in the American League Championship Series in 2016.

Toronto’s last World Series victory came in 1993. A long playoff drought followed until the Blue Jays reached the ALCS in 2015.

Notes: The game took three hours 11 minutes to play. … Dolis earned his fifth save. … Before the game, the Blue Jays activated right-hander Nate Pearson after a month-long stint on the injured list due to right elbow tightness. Reliever Wilmer Font was designated for assignment. … The Blue Jays will start a three-game series against the visiting Baltimore Orioles on Friday. The Yankees will close their season with a weekend set against the Miami Marlins. … Toronto won three of four against New York and split their 10 games against the Yankees this year. … The Blue Jays improved to 15-8 at Sahlen Field.

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U.S., Britain call out Russian hacking spree, cyberattacks against Olympics – CNBC

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U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division John Demers speaks at a news conference at the Department of Justice, in Washington, U.S., October 19, 2020.
Andrew Harnik | Reuters

Britain and the United States on Monday condemned what they said were a litany of malicious cyberattacks orchestrated by Russian military intelligence, including attempts to disrupt next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

British and U.S. officials said the attacks were conducted by Unit 74455 of Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency, also known as the Main Centre for Special Technologies.

In an indictment unsealed on Monday, the U.S. Justice Department said six members of the unit had played key roles in attacks on targets ranging from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to the 2017 French elections. The charges covered four years of malicious cyber activity, from 2015 to 2019.

British officials said the GRU hackers had also conducted “cyber reconnaissance” operations against organisers of the 2020 Tokyo Games, which were originally scheduled to be held this year but postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The officials declined to give specific details about the attacks or whether they were successful, but said they had targeted Games organisers, logistics suppliers and sponsors.

Justice Department Assistant Attorney General John Demers declined to discuss the more recent attacks against the 2020 Games.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “The GRU’s actions against the Olympic and Paralympic Games are cynical and reckless. We condemn them in the strongest possible terms.”

FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich said: “The FBI has repeatedly warned that Russia is a highly capable cyber adversary, and the information revealed in this indictment illustrates how pervasive and destructive Russia’s cyber activities truly are.”

A poster showing six wanted Russian military intelligence officers is displayed before a news conference at the Department of Justice, on October 19, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Andrew Harnik | Getty Images

Russia was banned from the world’s top sporting events for four years in December over widespread doping offences, including the Tokyo Games which were originally scheduled for this year but postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The attacks on the 2020 Games are the latest in a string of hacking attempts against international sporting organisations that Western officials and cybersecurity experts say have been orchestrated by Russia since its doping scandal erupted five years ago. Moscow has repeatedly denied the allegations.

Britain and the United States said on Monday the hackers were involved in other attacks, such as the hack of the 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in South Korea, which compromised hundreds of computers, took down Internet access and disrupted broadcast feeds.

The attack in South Korea had previously been linked to Russia by cybersecurity researchers but was made to look like the work of Chinese or North Korean hackers, Britain’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The attacks on the 2020 Summer Games are the latest in a campaign of Russian malicious activity against the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” it said.

“The UK is confirming for the first time today the extent of GRU targeting of the 2018 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea.”

Other offensive cyber operations allegedly conducted by the GRU officers since 2015, according to the Justice Department, included the global cyberattack known as NotPetya.

In 2017, destructive NotPetya malware spread globally out of Ukraine, infecting and locking up thousands of computers belonging to major corporations. Experts say NotPetya caused upwards of $1 billion in losses. At the time, companies publicly affected by NotPetya included FedEx Corporation and pharmaceutical giant Merck.

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Coach K Told A Kobe Bryant Story About 2008 Olympics That Proves The Mamba’s Competitive Level Was Unmatched – BroBible

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There are two athletes in the past 30+ years who proved to be next level in their preparation and obsession to compete: Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. With 11 NBA championships between them, “The Black Mamba” and “His Airness” were unmatched in their relentless drive, going above and beyond in order to win at all costs. It’s why they’re two of the best ballers to ever lace ’em up — and why people truly believe in the “Mamba Mentality” implemented by Kobe.

While we got a behind-the-scenes look at Jordan’s mentality during this year’s amazing documentary, The Last Dance, following the tragic death of Bryant in January, we’ve been getting a bunch of stories about what made him so unique and what drove him. Similar to MJ, Kobe was different, man, and had a desire that just couldn’t be duplicated.

In the latest example of that, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who also guided Team USA to the gold medal in the 2008 Olympics, sat down with The Old Man and the Three with JJ Redick and Tommy Alter to talk shop. Naturally, Kobe Bryant came up, with Coach K telling an awesome story about the Lakers superstar taking on the challenge of shutting down the best scorer on every opposing team America played during the tournament.

Considering Bryant averaged 28.3 points a game during the 2007-08 season prior to the Olympics, it’s wild to hear Coach K talk about the guy’s willingness to try and stop another player from scoring instead of scoring himself. But, hey, that’s part of what made Kobe Bryant so incredible: His desire and mindset.

Here’s a snippet from the interview Coach K did during his time on The Old Man and the Three with JJ Redick and Tommy Alter podcast a few days ago.

“‘I need to ask you a favor. I want to guard the best perimeter defender on every team that we play.’

“Now, he’s the NBA scoring champ. He’s the best player in the league at that time. He had seven 50-point games that year. And he knew that he’d have to change a little bit to be a leader.”

“He pauses and, you know, his eyes, he and Jordan had the same eyes; they killed you with their eyes. And he leans forward and says, ‘Coach, I promise you I’ll destroy them.’ So I thought, ‘holy shit,’ this is good.

“So we go and have a team meeting, and, in the first practice, he doesn’t take a shot. He does not take one shot.”

“I call him over afterwards and he said, ‘Coach, I promised you, I’ll destroy them.’ And I said, look, you’ll destroy teams offensively… will you shoot the friggin’ ball? And he said from then on that I was the only coach, ever, to ask him to shoot.

“You know what he was doing, JJ? He knew that, for us to win the gold medal, we would have to beat Argentina, whether it be the semis or the Gold Medal Game, and that he wanted to guard Ginobili. Believe me, he already had that figured out. And he was going to prepare to guard Ginobili.”

You can watch the entire interview with Coach K below, which dives into a lot about the legendary Duke coach’s career, as well as some of his experiences around the great Kobe Bryant.

[embedded content]

(H/T The Spun)

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UK Authorities Allege Russian Hackers Targeted the 2020 Olympics – Gizmodo

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Photo: Carl Court (Getty Images)

As if the 2020 Olympics haven’t had enough hurdles to contend with, it looks like we can add cyberattacks to the list. Earlier today, UK officials put out a memo noting that hackers working with the GRU—Russia’s military intelligence agency—had carried out numerous cyberattacks against major sponsors, organizers, and other key players at this year’s Olympic Games, which were scheduled to take place in Tokyo over the summer before they were postponed.

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While authorities across the pond didn’t go into detail about what these cyberattacks looked like, there’s a chance the actors involved could be related to the six GRU agents who were just indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice for carrying out years of cyberattacks targeting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, the 2017 French presidential election, and more.

As part of his statement on the recent string of Olympics hacks originating from Russian soil, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also explained exactly what went down in 2018 as part of his statement. At the time, the GRU deployed a strain of VPNFilter malware against the IT systems running the Winter Games meant to either wipe data from those computers and networks or disable them entirely. While administrators at the time were able to isolate the buggy devices and replace them in time to get the Olympics back on track with minimal disruption, it was still clear to the UK’s cyber authorities that this was a move on Russia’s part to completely “sabotage” the entire process of the Winter Olympics.

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The DOJ’s own indictment goes into further detail, noting that hosts, participants, and attendees of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics—not to mention South Korean citizens, officials, and athletes—were attacked with “spearphishing campaigns and malicious mobile applications” meant to hoover sensitive data from their devices.

There’s a good chance that the current cyberattack—like the attack back in 2018—can be tied back to Russian athletes being excluded from the Olympics over longstanding doping violations. In 2019, the World Anti-Doping Agency formally banned Russia from competing in the Olympics for the next four years, also barring the country from hosting international events on its home turf. At the time, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev chocked the ban up to “chronic anti-Russian hysteria.”

But the latest round of indictments against the six GRU officers seems to be anything but.

“For more than two years we have worked tirelessly to expose these Russian GRU Officers who engaged in a global campaign of hacking, disruption, and destabilization,” U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady said in a statement, noting that these attacks, stretching back to 2015, tallied up to be “the most destructive and costly cyberattacks in history.”

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“The crimes committed by Russian government officials were against real victims who suffered real harm,” he added.

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