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Blue Jays host Marlins in Buffalo ‘home’ opener

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The Toronto Blue Jays will have their second home opener of the season Tuesday night when they start a two-game set against the Miami Marlins in Buffalo, N.Y.

After playing their first 21 home games this season at their spring-training stadium in Dunedin, Fla., the Blue Jays are returning to Sahlen Field, where they played home games in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions in Canada.

The difference this season is that there will be fans in attendance at the home park of the Blue Jays’ Triple-A affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons. The Bisons are playing their home games in Trenton, N.J.

“Hopefully, it’ll become more of a home-field advantage because it wasn’t in Dunedin,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “Every team we played, they had more fans than we did. So hopefully it will become more of a home and be more comfortable for our players to play.”

The Blue Jays were 10-11 in their home games in Florida.

Toronto will start left-hander Robbie Ray (2-2, 3.81 ERA) Tuesday against Miami right-hander Sandy Alcantara (2-4, 3.46)

Ray faced the Marlins once in 2020, allowing four hits and one earned run in 3 1/3 innings on Sept. 1. He is 2-3 with a 2.31 ERA in seven career appearances (six starts) against Miami. Alcantara has never faced the Blue Jays.

Both teams had Monday off. The Marlins had their game against the Red Sox in Boston on Sunday postponed due to rain while the Blue Jays split a doubleheader with the host Cleveland Indians.

The Blue Jays came close to sweeping the doubleheader and the three-game series from the Indians.

Left-hander Steven Matz was cruising and the Blue Jays were leading 4-0 going into the bottom of the sixth inning of the second game on Sunday. But an error led to a four-run inning that tied the game.

The Blue Jays regained the lead on Marcus Semien’s RBI single in the top of the seventh of the seven-inning game. But in the bottom of the seventh, reliever Tyler Chatwood walked four straight batters with one out to tie the game before being replaced by Anthony Castro, who allowed a sacrifice fly and Cleveland won 6-5.

Montoyo has been criticized for his handling of the inning,

“For us to be good, Chatwood needs to do the job,” Montoyo said. “He needs to be the reliever that he has been. So you’ve got to give him the chance to regroup and do the job, get a double-play ball or something. He just couldn’t do it. … He was our best reliever for the first two months, and he just needs to get it back.”

The Marlins have lost three in a row and four of their past five games after winning three straight.

Miami has dealt with injuries. Center fielder Starling Marte (non-displaced rib fracture) was reinstated from the injured list on Friday after missing 34 games. That injury did create an opportunity for Magneuris Sierra, who batted .283 in May with two doubles and two steals in 25 games (15 starts).

“It’s nice to get him out there,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.

“I have more playing time,” Sierra said, “a lot more at-bats, a lot more situations where I can play and keep improving and working on my game.”

 

–Field Level Media

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CFL to return in August

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The Canadian Football League (CFL), which saw its entire 2020 campaign wiped out by the COVID-19 outbreak, said on Monday its board of governors voted unanimously to kick off a shortened 14-game season in August.

The CFL, whose biggest source of revenue comes from ticket sales rather than TV deals like those enjoyed by larger U.S.-based leagues, also said fans will be able to return to the stands in line with provincial guidelines.

“This is an exciting day for Canadian football and for Canada itself,” CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a news release.

“I want to thank our fans, players, coaches, and partners for their incredible support and patience as we’ve worked together towards this day.”

The season will begin Aug. 5 while the Grey Cup championship game will be played Dec. 12 in Hamilton, Ontario.

The full schedule will be released on Tuesday along with each of the league’s nine team’s plan for distributing tickets to season ticket holders and, where government restrictions on stadium capacity allow, ticket sales to the general public.

After first delaying its 2020 season, the CFL decided to scrap it entirely following a last-ditch effort to secure financing from the Canadian government to stage a shortened campaign that would have been held entirely in Manitoba was turned down.

The CFL had previously said it would only move forward with a 2021 season if it could secure the government approvals for its plans to keep players and coaches safe and the green light to allow a “significant” number of fans to attend games.

“We are on track to receive all of the necessary health and safety approvals, thanks to our tireless medical advisers and staff, and the dedicated government officials who have been working with them,” said Ambrosie.

“And while the outlook for fans in the stands varies from province to province, we are confident that process is also on the right track.”

 

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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Mixed Martial Arts-Door is open for YouTube’s Paul brothers in MMA

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Logan and Jake Paul would make great Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters, Bellator president Scott Coker has said as he targets exhibition matches featuring the YouTube personalities such as the former’s boxing bout against Floyd Mayweather.

Logan Paul went the distance, surviving eight rounds against unbeaten (50-0) five-division world boxing champion Mayweather in an exhibition on Sunday at Miami’s Hard Rock stadium.

USA Today reported the fight brought in one million pay per view buys with $50 million generated from sales in the United States.

It was only the second fight of Paul’s career, while his brother Jake has fought in three professional boxing matches, beating former MMA fighter Ben Askren in April.

Critics have labelled the bouts a sideshow due to the lack of sporting credibility of the duo, who made their names as social media personalities and have millions of subscribers on YouTube.

However, Coker told Reuters the brothers have impressive physiques and the door is open for them to move into MMA.

“I met with Logan Paul about two years ago and I’ve spoken to Jake Paul’s manager and Jake on a zoom call recently… The one thing I said was hey, if you want to do MMA we would love to promote you guys,” the 58-year-old said in a Zoom interview.

“These guys are young, athletic, strong and you saw the fight on Sunday night these guys they came and did their work.

“Mayweather couldn’t finish him and I know he tried, I heard he wanted to knock this kid out so bad,” he added.

“When I heard both had high school wrestling backgrounds in Ohio, which is a prominent wrestling state in the U.S., it really made me interested in pursuing them in some super fights in Mixed Martial Arts – and that door is continually open.”

HEADLINE FIGHT

Bellator, owned by Viacom, is gearing up for a busy month of events, starting with Bellator 260 on Friday with the headline fight between reigning welterweight world champion Douglas Lima and the undefeated Yaroslav Amosov.

However, super fights and exhibitions are where Coker is targeting a younger audience.

“My 14-year-old niece, I told her I was going to the Logan Paul fight and she thought that was the greatest thing,” he said.

“She asked me who he was fighting and I said Floyd Mayweather and she said ‘who’s that?’ – I thought wow, she doesn’t know boxing, she doesn’t know MMA, she’s just a 14-year-old girl on the internet doing what they do.”

As the sporting world gears up for the delayed Tokyo Olympics starting in July, Coker believes MMA will feature in future Games.

“When you think about mixed martial arts, what you’re talking about is boxing, wrestling, judo, taekwondo, karate – those are all Olympic sports,” he said.

“Why wouldn’t mixed martial arts eventually get into the Olympics because six out of the seven disciplines MMA is known to use really is already there.

“There’d be a lot of details to work out but to me I think it will happen, it’s just a matter of time.”

 

(Reporting by Christian Radnedge,; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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Montreal will host the 2024 world figure skating championships

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Montreal will host the 2024 world figure skating championships, the International Skating Union (ISU) said on Wednesday, after the 2020 event Canada was to host was cancelled due to COVID-19.

The championships will return to Montreal from March 18-24, marking the 11th time Canada has staged the event.

“Skate Canada has a proven track record of holding successful ISU events and we are looking forward to bringing the world’s best skaters to the fantastic Canadian city of Montreal,” said Debra Armstrong, CEO of Skate Canada, in a statement.

 

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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