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Blue Jays Receive National Interest Exemption To Return To Canada On July 30 – MLB Trade Rumors

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The Blue Jays announced they’ve received a national interest exemption from the Canadian government to return in time for their July 30 homestand. Shi Davidi of Sportsnet (Twitter link) reported the news shortly before the formal announcement.

The Jays will host the Royals in the Rogers Centre two weeks from now in the first game at their home ballpark in nearly two full calendar years. Border closures resulting from COVID-19 have kept the Jays from returning home in either of the past two seasons. They played the abbreviated 2020 campaign in Buffalo, the home of their Triple-A affiliate. They began this season hosting games at their Spring Training complex in Dunedin before relocating to Buffalo at the beginning of June.

July 30 will mark one of the more momentous dates in recent Jays’ history. After their three-game set against the Royals that weekend, Toronto will host series against the Indians, Red Sox and Angels through mid-August. Their final “homestand” in Buffalo — this weekend against the Rangers and early next week with the Red Sox — commences tonight before a seven-game road trip.

It remains to be seen whether the plan will require some sort of “bubble” format for players on the Jays and visiting clubs who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19. It stands to reason more details will become clear upon a formal announcement of approval from the Canadian government.

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Tokyo Olympics: Penny Oleksiak could become Canada's most decorated Olympian tonight – The Globe and Mail

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Penny Oleksiak doves during a training session at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre ahead of the start of the Tokyo Olympics. She’s since won six Olympic medals, and is up for a seventh in the 100 m freestyle.

Melissa Tait/The Globe and Mail

Latest Olympic highlights

OLYMPIC EVENTS FOR JULY 29
  • Swimming: Penny Oleksiak had the fifth fastest time of the 16 swimmers in Thursday’s two semi-finals for the 100m freestyle (9:59 p.m. ET), swimming another season-best time of 52.86 seconds and finishing third in her race. She’ll compete in the final tonight, and if she reaches the podium, she’ll become Canada’s most-decorated Olympian ever. That feat was almost reached last night when Canada came in fourth at the women’s 4 x 200m freestyle relay along with Summer McIntosh, Kayla Sanchez, Rebecca Smith. Meanwhile this morning, Kylie Masse and Taylor Ruck swam the third and sixth fastest times overall in the 200m backstroke and moved onto the semifinals tonight (10:35 p.m. ET).
  • Rowing: Caileigh Filmer and Hillary Janssens – a duo of Olympic rowers from B.C. – have brought home Canada’s fifth bronze medal of the Tokyo Games in women’s pair. They finished with a time of 6:52:10, behind the gold medal team from New Zealand and the Russian silver medalists. Tonight, Canada’s Women’s Eight competes for a medal (9:05 p.m. ET).
  • Russia (but not Russia): For a country that’s not at the Olympics, Russia sure is winning a lot of things here. Barred from competing under their country’s flag or its name by the World Anti-Doping Agency over a doping scandal, Cathal Kelly explains how the 335 Russian athletes at the Games are still thwarting the IOC’s plan to humiliate them. Aslo, Cathal joined Tamara Khandaker this morning on The Decibel podcast to discuss why these Games are a dud.
OFF THE FIELD

Get the Olympic highlights in your inbox every day with our newsletter, or follow @globeandmail on Twitter for breaking news. Here are yesterday’s Olympic highlights in case you missed them.

Situation in Tokyo, by numbers

WHAT IS THE OLYMPIC MEDAL TALLY IN TOKYO SO FAR?

JAPAN’S LATEST COVID-19 DATA

WHAT TIME IS IT IN TOKYO RIGHT NOW?

More Olympic updates for July 29

  • Beach volleyball: Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes remain undefeated after their first three games in Tokyo. The pair of medal contenders will move on to the knockout rounds which kick off on July 31.
  • Gymnastics: Canada’s Brooklyn Moors placed 16th in the women’s individual all-around, with a score of 53.299.
  • Golf: Canada’s Corey Conners and Mackenzie Hughes are tied at 2-under 69 after the first round of men’s golf at Tokyo Olympics.
  • Judo: Canada’s Shady El-Nahas lost the bronze-medal judo match to Jorge Fonseca, finishing fifth overall.
  • Basketball: Canada pulled off a victory over South Korea in basketball, with Bridget Carleton, a Minnesota Lynx WNBA player, bringing in 18 points and seven rebounds for the women’s team. The team will play Spain on Sunday to close off the group stage.

The Olympic experience

Keep up with the latest behind-the-scenes stories and images from the Olympics in our reporters’ notebook from Tokyo.

Nathan VanderKlippe spoke to bronze medalist Caileigh Filmer after her podium finish with teammate Hillary Janssens in women’s pair rowing. Filmer discussed “going internal” with Janssens to maximize their performance on the water. It’s not a bad analogy for a Games characterized by isolation.

TOKYO OLYMPICS: THE DAY IN PHOTOS

From The Globe’s Olympic Team

Brent Hayden is back for his fourth Olympics after finding new perspective in the pool

Rachel Brady: “Hayden doesn’t have a lot of miles on his body like many athletes would at 37. That’s because he took seven years off from the sport after he made the podium at the 2012 London Olympics, before deciding to plunge back in and try to make a comeback for Tokyo – his fourth Olympics.”

For Hong Kong, Tokyo Olympics are its best Games in history, at a time when it needs wins more than ever

James Griffiths: “The bitterness and anger left over from the protests that rocked Hong Kong in 2019 have not faded. While public unrest is not seen today, that is only because the Chinese government imposed a national security law on the city last year, not because any of the issues which sparked the protests have been solved.”

A dispatch from Tokyo 2020: Simone Biles, extreme heat and Canada’s performance so far

Tokyo Olympic events to watch tomorrow, July 30

  • Diving: Pamela Ware and Jennifer Abel compete in the 3m springboard (2 a.m. ET)
  • Soccer: Canada’s women’s soccer team takes on Brazil in the quarter final (4 a.m. ET)
  • Athletics: Mohammed Ahmed will race in the men’s 10,000 m final (7:30 a.m. ET)
  • Swimming: Friday morning the heats for the men’s and women’s 4 x 100m freestyle relay begin (7:48 a.m. ET) with teams from Canada in both. Friday night, Kylie Masse hopes to race in the finals for women’s 200-metre backstroke. (9:37 p.m. ET).
  • Check the full Olympic schedule for the latest event times and competitors.

The Tokyo Olympics: Essential reads

What athletes and teams should Canadians look out for? Consult our guide.

Penny Oleksiak bears the hopes of a nation in Tokyo – and that’s just fine with her. Rachel Brady spoke with the now six-time medal winner before the Games began

How did Canada’s swimmers use data to get stronger? Grant Robertson and Timothy Moore explain.

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"What are they doing?": Edmonton Oilers a loser of NHL free agency, NHL commentators say – Edmonton Journal

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The reviews are in from pundits and commentators outside of Edmonton on the first day of NHL free agency.

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And the reviews are not positive. Zach Hyman was considered a winner of the free agency period, but not the Edmonton Oilers, which had one of the most active and consequential days in team history.

Edmonton’s move included:

OUT:

Adam Larsson left as free agent, Ethan Bear traded, Jujhar Khaira left as free agent, James Neal bought out, Caleb Jones and third round pick traded.

IN:

Zach Hyman signed to a seven-year, $5.5 million per year deal, Tyson Barrie signed to a three-year, $4.5 million per year deal, Cody Ceci signed to a four year, $3.25 million per year deal, Derek Ryan signed to a two year, $1.25 million per day, RFA Warren Foegele acquired in a trade, Mike Smith signed two years. $2.2 million per.

Here is some of what the commentators had to say:

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Mike Brehm of USA TODAY had Hyman as a winner: “He played with skilled forwards Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner in Toronto. Now he’ll get a chance to play alongside Connor McDavid in Edmonton. Plus, the winger gets a seven-year, $38.5 million contract after averaging $2.25 million in his last contract.”

But Matt Larkin, The Hockey News on youtube had Edmonton as a loser: “I just don’t understand. What are they doing? … I’ll put the Zach Hyman deal aside. I’m willing to defend it. I think he’s going to actually be very helpful in the
short term.  You have to give him that term and money because it’s competitive to sign him. I think he’ll be a really nice fit
playing with McDavid… I think that move is totally fine but bringing in guys like Cody Cedi and with term, I just don’t understand what this team is doing. You’re bringing Duncan Keith. You lose Adam Larsson.  You trade away Caleb
Jones. You trade Ethan Bear… You’ve also resigned Mike Smith into his 40s now for multiple seasons.

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“I just can’t condone the decisions over all of this team… I  don’t know if this team is better. I don’t believe that they are but I could be wrong.”

Larkin added: “I do think that the Oilers could save their offseason. They could steal Tomas Tatar on a cheaper deal kind of like what they gave to Dominik Kahun last summer.”

Scott Burnside of The Athletic gave the Oilers a 4.5 out of 10 grade. “That’s some weird stuff going on for an Oilers team that was embarrassingly swept by Winnipeg in the first round of the playoffs. Young defensive depth went out the door in the form of Caleb Jones (Chicago) and Ethan Bear (Carolina) replaced by 38-year-old Duncan Keith and Cody Ceci, who was pretty good in Pittsburgh and is now an Oiler at $3.25 million for the next four years. Ceci is the kind of player, and that is the kind of contract, that fans in Edmonton will turn on in an instant… This is at best a blue line in transition and at worst in regression. Love Zach Hyman up front and the Oilers will love him too but not likely for the entirety of his seven-year deal at $5.5 million).”

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Commentator Josh Wegman of The Score, also had the Oilers as a loser:  “The Oilers general manager’s reputation has taken a turn for the worse over the past couple of weeks. The Oilers made a handful of questionable moves Wednesday, leaving them with one of the most suspect blue lines in the league… The Bear-for-Foegele trade isn’t entirely bad in itself, but the fact that the Oilers shipped out a promising, homegrown blue-liner to make room for Barrie and Ceci is bad optics. Outside of Nurse, this back end is littered with question marks… Holland did do well to improve Edmonton’s forward depth, bringing in Foegele, Derek Ryan, and Zach Hyman, but the latter’s seven-year deal worth $5.5 million per season is a massive overpay. The Oilers also didn’t address their issues between the pipes, missing out on all the top free-agent options and failing to pull the trigger on a deal for Kuemper.”

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Lyle Fizsimmons of Bleacher Report also had the Oilers as losers, says that Holland “made a series of moves Wednesday that could be labeled anywhere from optimistic to misguided… iI’s the defensive moves—particularly the Bear trade—that reminded fans of past moves that saw young assets bloom elsewhere. The Oilers traded Matt Greene, then 25, to Los Angeles in 2008 and saw him win two Cups with the Kings; dealt Jeff Petry, then 27, to Montreal in 2015 and saw him emerge into one of the league’s best blueliners and later help the Canadiens to the Cup Final this season; and dispatched Justin Schultz, then 25, to Pittsburgh in 2016 where he, too, went on to win a pair of Stanley Cups.”

My take

1. These commentators have varying degrees of knowledge and expertise about the Oilers and about the true talent of the players Edmonton move out and moved in. Nonetheless, I find it interesting what outsiders have to think. Quite often they get it right in evaluating Edmonton’s moves, but they also get it wrong. For example, last year the re-signing of Mike Smith was widely criticized but it worked out well.

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2. The comment I most agreed with came from Larkin when he said: “I  don’t know if this team is better. I don’t believe that they are but I could be wrong.” It’s excellent when any commentator recognizes the limitation of their her or his own knowledge, and the limitation of anyone’s predictive power in general, and owns up that they could very well be wrong. That’s a sign of wisdom.

3. I’m fascinated by those fans and commentators who aren’t expert in these players, who haven’t seen many of them play much this past season and certainly haven’t studied them closely enough to give an expert take on their value, yet come out with complete certainty on the merit of a trade.

For example, we can tell certain things about Foegele from his statistics and from what others say of him, but that’s not the kind of deep analysis needed to get a fair and accurate sense of his true talent. It’s the best we can do, and it’s fun to engage in this kind of judgement as fans and commentators, but how could we possibly be certain of our predictive powers regarding the outcome of a trade when our knowledge base is so incomplete?

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Even if we have a deep understanding of the value of a player, as many Oilers fans do with players like Larsson and Bear, it’s hard to know just how they’re going to perform next year. For one thing, so much depends on the player’s health and his usage. Will Larsson’s back hold up? Will Bear get thrown into the deep end, over his head, against the toughest competition?

But it’s also difficult to guess if a player like Bear will do what it takes and get the right coaching and opportunity to take a step up. And it’s also difficult to know how much more one more year of grinding will impact Larsson’s game.

4. The best we can do with players we know well is offer a probability, such as me guessing Larsson has an 80 per cent chance of playing as well as he did this past season and suggesting it’s a coin flip as to whether Bear will progress or regress this coming year. As for players I haven’t seen and studied thoroughly, such as Foegele, Keith, Ceci and Ryan, my guesses about how they’ll play are utterly crude, not anything I would state with certainty.

5. As for Larkin wondering what the Oilers are up to, that’s a fair question, but I think the answer is obvious: Edmonton was scrambling to fix its defence after Larsson unexpectedly left, and this is what made most sense to the organization. When you’re scrambling, it’s not easy. Ask any quarterback. Sometimes you get sacked, even concussed. Sometimes you’re able to improvise a touchdown pass.

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Filmer, Janssens capture bronze in women’s rowing pair at Tokyo Olympics – CityNews Toronto

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Canada has its first rowing medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

Victoria’s Caileigh Filmer and Hillary Janssens of Surrey, B.C., took bronze on Thursday in the women’s pair with a time of six minutes 52.10 seconds.

The 2018 world champions finished behind the gold-medal winning duo of Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler of New Zealand (6:50.19) and the Russian Olympic Committee’s Vasilisa Stepanova and Elena Oriabinskaia (6:51.45).

Conlin McCabe of Brockville, Ont., and Kai Langerfeld of North Vancouver, B.C., were the other Canadian rowers in a final Thursday, finishing fourth in the men’s pair on the 2,000-metre course at Sea Forest Waterway.

Canada’s women’s eight will race for a gold Friday.

The country’s rowers are looking to rebound after a disastrous showing at the 2016 Rio Games that saw the program secure just one medal.

The Canadians qualified 10 boats for Tokyo — the most since the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta — and have a gender-neutral team for the first time in their history.

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