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CFL cancels season after request for financial help turned down –



The CFL has cancelled its 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It marks the first year the Grey Cup won’t be presented since 1919.

“Our league governors decided today it is in the best long-term interests of the CFL to concentrate on the future,” commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a statement. “We are absolutely committed to 2021, to the future of our league and the pursuit of our vision of a bigger, stronger, more global CFL.”

The decision dashes hopes of a shortened season in the hub city of Winnipeg and comes after the CFL couldn’t solve a number of issues in an effort to try to salvage a season.

The league was unable to secure financing from the federal government after presenting Ottawa with a $30-million, interest-free loan request Aug. 3 to stage an abbreviated 2020 season.

“Even with additional support, our owners and community-held teams would have had to endure significant financial losses to play in 2020,” Ambrosie said. “Without it, the losses would be so large that they would really hamper our ability to bounce back strongly next year and beyond. The most important thing is the future of our league.”

The league had maintained it required government funding to stage a shortened season, despite having a far more stable ownership situation than in previous years.

The CFL said the federal government suggested the league pursue a commercial loan, which would be partially backed by Ottawa.

“That kind of arrangement would hamper our recovery more than bolster it. On two occasions, in June and again at the beginning of August, the government reached out to us with new indications they might step up and help in a more meaningful way. But at the end of the day, the help we needed to play this year never materialized,” Ambrosie said.

“This outcome after months of discussions with government officials is disappointing. But we’re focused now on the long-term future and we will continue to work with the federal and provincial governments in that context.”

Steven Guilbeault, minister of Canadian heritage, said he was sorry for the CFL’s decision and defended the government’s attempts to find a solution.

“Over the past few months, my colleagues and I, both federal and provincial, have had several conversations with commissioner Randy Ambrosie and his team to try to find a solution for the CFL,” Guilbeault said in a statement. “Our government helped the CFL navigate through the existing COVID-19 Emergency Response programs that are helping tens of thousands of businesses across Canada with revenue and liquidity challenges during this time.

“Although the league was able to benefit from some of these programs, its board members ultimately made the decision not to pursue the upcoming season.”

Gate-driven league

With the cancellation, the CFL becomes one of the few major North American pro sports leagues to wipe out play in 2020. Major League Baseball is running a shortened season, while the NHL, NBA and Major League Soccer have resumed play. The NFL says it’s planning to start its season on time next month.

Unlike other major leagues in North America, however, the CFL does not have the luxury of a billion-dollar television contract. While its deal with TSN has become more lucrative over the years, the CFL remains a gate-driven league — which is a major problem when fans aren’t allowed in the stands.

CFL officials announced in late July they had chosen Winnipeg as a hub city for a regular season with six games, followed by an eight-team playoffs. No fans were scheduled to be in attendance.

But it was contingent on the league securing financial assistance from the federal government, solidifying an extension of the collective bargaining agreement and approving health-and-safety protocols.

While the CFL said it could have staged the Grey Cup game after its traditional late November date, time was running out to get about half the league’s players back to Canada, follow quarantine rules, stage training camps and hold a season and playoffs.

The CFL also couldn’t line up federal funding. In late April, Ambrosie told The Canadian Press the CFL was seeking up to $150 million in federal assistance in the event of a wiped-out season.

WATCH | Randy Ambrosie tells MPs league is in ‘jeopardy’:

Testifying before the House of Commons standing committee on finance on Thursday, CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie stated the league could need up to $150 million from the federal government if their season is wiped out due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 4:47

The league dropped its ask to about $44 million in the summer as it tried to find a way to grapple with next to no revenue. Later, it requested the loan of $30 million.

Meanwhile, the league also struggled to mend fences with the CFL Players’ Association. Politicians from all major parties criticized the CFL for not having its players involved in its initial financial assistance request.

While the players eventually supported the league’s second financial assistance proposal, the two sides could not come to terms on an extension of the CBA, though the CFL said it was close to a deal when it called off the season Monday.

The cancellation also puts the new-look Edmonton team on hold. The team announced it was dropping its name this summer after facing pressure from sponsors, along with other teams with racist or stereotypical names.

Now, the Edmonton Football Team faces the challenge of creating a new name with extremely limited revenue.

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Eugenie Bouchard books spot in 3rd round at French Open –



Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard is heading to the third round of the French Open.

Bouchard, from Westmount, Que., beat Australia’s Daria Gavrilova 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 on Wednesday.

It will mark Bouchard’s first appearance in the third round of a Grand Slam since the world’s 168th-ranked player won two matches at the 2017 Australian Open.

A former world No. 5 after reaching the Wimbledon final in 2014, Bouchard’s ranking has tumbled in recent years. But she’s made some strides in recent months, reaching the final of an event in Istanbul before being awarded a wild-card into the French Open.

WATCH | Bouchard wins in 2nd round of French Open:

Eugenie Bouchard of Westmount, Que., defeats Daria Gavrilova 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 and advances to the 3rd round of Grand Slam for the first time since the 2017 Australian Open. 1:51

Bouchard will face world No. 54 Iga Swiatek of Poland in the third round.

Meanwhile, in women’s doubles first-round play, the fifth-seeded team of Gabriela Dabrowski of Ottawa and Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia beat Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan and Arina Rodionova of Australia 7-5, 6-3.

Leylah Annie Fernandez of Laval, Que., and partner Diane Parry of France lost 6-2, 6-4 to Nina Stojanovic of Serbia and Jill Teichmann of Switzerland.

Fernandez also has advanced to the second round in women’s singles, along with No. 9 seed Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., on the men’s side.

Azarenka ousted

U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka is out of the French Open in the second round.

The 10th-seeded Azarenka lost to 161st-ranked Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-2, 6-2.

Azarenka’s exit means all four women who reached the semifinals in New York earlier this month already are gone in Paris. Serena Williams withdrew from the French Open because of an injured Achilles tendon, Jennifer Brady lost in the first round at Roland Garros and U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka did not make the trip to France.

Schmiedlova had lost 13 consecutive Grand Slam matches in a streak dating to 2015 until beating Venus Williams in the first round this week.

Azarenka is a former No. 1 and a two-time champion at the Australian Open.

Defending champ Nadal advances

Defending champion Rafael Nadal reached the third round by beating American player Mackenzie McDonald 6-1, 6-0, 6-3.

The No. 2-seeded Spaniard is looking to win his record-extending 13th French Open title and equal Roger Federer’s men’s record of 20 major titles overall.

WATCH | Nadal aiming for 13th French Open title:

12-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal advances to the 3rd round of the French Open with a 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 win over Mackenzie McDonald. 0:32

Nadal improved his record at Roland Garros to 95-2 when he sealed victory on his first match point.

He next faces either Kei Nishikori of Japan or Stefano Travaglia of Italy.

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Eugenie Bouchard advances at French Open after three-set win over Daria Gavrilova – TSN



Canadian Eugenie Bouchard has advanced to the third round of the French Open after defeating Australian Daria Gavrilova 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.

The win moves Bouchard into the third round of Grand Slam for the first time since the 2017 Australian Open.

Bouchard, who defeated Anna Kalinskaya, entered the tournament ranked 168th in the world. In her most recent tournament appearance, she reached the finals in Istanbul, receiving a berth into the French Open a short time later. She was ranked 330th in the WTA in August.

The 26-year-old reached the semifinals at the French Open in 2014.

More details to follow.

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Blue Jays face more tough decisions ahead of win-or-go-home Game 2 –



TORONTO – The Blue Jays had the better part of five days to prepare for their first playoff game since 2016. They’ll have less than 24 hours to prepare for their next playoff game – and this time the stakes are even higher.

Game 2 against the Rays is now a must-win for the Blue Jays, who lost the wild card series opener at Tropicana Field, 3-1, on Tuesday despite some strong pitching. There’s a reasonable debate to be had about whether Matt Shoemaker should have stayed in the game beyond the third inning, but wherever that discussion takes you, it doesn’t lessen the challenge now facing the Blue Jays. Unless they win Wednesday, their season ends.

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“You’ve got to let this game go,” manager Charlie Montoyo said after Game 1. “An outstanding game. We didn’t hit today. Let’s get ready for (Tyler) Glasnow tomorrow.”

Already, we’ve seen how impactful tactical decisions can become in a short series, and from this point on the margin for error is even thinner for the Blue Jays. On and off the field, every choice will be amplified whether it works out or not. With that in mind, here are a few areas worth watching in the days ahead…

How do Blue Jays line up vs. Glasnow?

One night after facing former Cy Young winner Blake Snell, the Blue Jays will face a pitcher whose stuff is just as good. Thanks to a fastball that averages 97 m.p.h. and an effective curve, right-hander Tyler Glasnow struck out 14.28 batters per nine innings this year. That presents a tough matchup for any team, especially one that has sometimes struggled against high-velocity arms.

For Montoyo and the Blue Jays, this creates some potentially tough choices in the lineup. While Alejandro Kirk impressed in Game 1 with an opposite-field single, he might not start Wednesday. With Hyun Jin Ryu on the mound, Danny Jansen is certain to catch and the designated hitter spot may go to the left-handed hitting Rowdy Tellez, who collected a pinch-hit single in his first game in three weeks.

Not only did Tellez put together a good at-bat, he stayed in the game as a baserunner and scored, showing that his knee has healed enough to make him more than a pinch-hit option.

“He’s actually not that slow, and he ran the bases pretty good,” Montoyo said.

If Tellez starts at DH, Kirk would be available off the bench to pinch-hit. Meanwhile, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the left-handed hitting Joe Panik start at second base against Glasnow with Cavan Biggio remaining at third.

What’s next for Shoemaker?

In a way, Shoemaker’s efficiency slows his progression back from the lat strain that sidelined him for most of September. After throwing 54 pitches in his tune-up start against the New York Yankees last week, the 35 pitches he threw in Game 1 don’t exactly build him up toward the longer outings he’d be asked to complete should the Blue Jays advance.

On the other hand, that efficiency opens up options for the Blue Jays. For example, if they force a Game 3 and find themselves short-handed, could Shoemaker become an option? From a workload standpoint, he’s recovering from a far shorter outing than usual.

“Anything goes in a Game 3 scenario,” Shoemaker said. “That’s a must-win. Whoever wins moves on, and move on from there. Hopefully we win the next two days and I move into my bullpens accordingly.”

How does the bullpen factor in from here?

If one Blue Jays starter has the leeway to pitch into the sixth or seventh inning, it’s Hyun Jin Ryu, whose start was delayed until Game 2 partly because of the hope that a little extra rest would help.

But even with Ryu on the mound, the bullpen needs to be ready. In five of the left-hander’s 12 starts this year, he went five innings or fewer, and none of those games were must-win. There’s a decent chance the Blue Jays will have to go to their bullpen for four innings, and if they do they’ll have plenty of options, including a fully rested Rafael Dolis — plus Thomas Hatch, Ryan Borucki and A.J. Cole, all of whom threw 14 pitches or fewer Tuesday.

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“That’s why we wanted Shoemaker and Ray to give us six innings,” Montoyo said. “That way our bullpen would be fresh for the next two days. And we’ve got our ace tomorrow (so) hopefully we don’t need that many, but they’ll be fine for tomorrow if we need them.”

Considering how impressive Nate Pearson looked in his return from the injured list, the Blue Jays may want to use him at some point in Game 2 as well. Since Pearson was able to loosen up quickly before facing the Orioles on Friday, the Blue Jays could even call on him mid-inning. And if Pearson’s appearance is short enough, the Blue Jays are open to using him again in a potential Game 3, according to general manager Ross Atkins.

Of course they have to get there first, with no shortage of tactical decisions to make along the way.

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