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Coalition Eager To Hear NBA's Plan For Black Causes Before Restart –



Avery Bradley says his group is eager to hear from the league office, ownership and sponsors on how they plan to address issues of importance to the black community before the NBA’s return-to-play in Orlando.

Bradley and the players’ coalition want improved hiring practices for black front office and head coaching candidates as well as donations to organizations serving black communities as well as partnerships with black-owned businesses and arena vendors.

“Regardless of how much media coverage will be received, talking and raising awareness about social injustice isn’t enough,” Bradley told ESPN. “Are we that self-centered to believe no one in the world is aware of racism right now? That as athletes, we solve the real issues by using our platforms to speak?

“We don’t need to say more. We need to find a way to achieve more. Protesting during an anthem, wearing T-shirts is great, but we need to see real actions being put in to the works.”

The NBA has eight black general managers, but only four with final authority on basketball decisions. The NBA has seven black head coaches. Toronto’s Masai Ujiri has the title of president and full authority on basketball.

“The actual act of sitting out doesn’t directly fight systemic racism,” Bradley said. “But it does highlight the reality that without black athletes, the NBA wouldn’t be what it is today. The league has a responsibility to our communities in helping to empower us — just as we have made the NBA brand strong.”

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Blue Jays’ Favourite Player: Mid Rotation Starter (Post-2000) – Bluebird Banter



Position player polls: C / 1B / 2B / SS / 3B / LF / CF / RF / DH / Bench

Pitcher polls: Ace / #2 Starter / Pre-2000 Mid

After looking at the mid-rotation starters up to 2000 the other day, we move on the mid-rotation starters who joined the team for the 2000 season or later. This is a list of guys who had some pretty good seasons for the Blue Jays, and individually could have had seasons that push them into the #2 territory, but overall they just were not quite as good as the guys on that list.

Esteban Loaiza (2000-2002)

The Blue Jays added Loaiza prior to the trade deadline in 2000, in the ill-fated trade that sent Darwin Cubillan and future All Star Michael Young back to Texas. At the time of the trade, the Jays were 1.5 games back of first place, in possession of a very powerful offense (that was the year with 7 different players over 20 home runs), and had a few bright spots on the pitching staff but just needed a bit more. Loaiza came over and had a pretty good finish to his season (3.62 ERA over 92 innings), but that wasn’t enough to propel the Jays to the playoffs.

His next two seasons in Toronto weren’t as good, as he went 20-21 with a 5.33 ERA (116 ERA-), although his FIP suggests he was pitching much better than the results he was getting, putting up a 4.51 mark in 2001 and even better 4.19 in 2002 (98 FIP- total over the 2 seasons).

The season after Loaiza left the Jays, he had easily the best season of his career, when he went 21-9 with a 2.90 ERA, finishing in second place to Roy Halladay. He was the starting pitcher for the AL in the All Star game that year too. But he was never that pitcher with the Jays. After his playing career was over, he has made a name for himself doing some not so great things.

Shaun Marcum (2005-2010)

The Jays drafted Marcum out of college in the third round of the 2003 draft, and he made his way to the Majors fairly quickly. He was in the bullpen as a September callup in 2005, and then spent the next couple years splitting time between the bullpen and rotation, picking up a 15-10 record and a 4.44 ERA.

He had a great season in 2008, making 25 starts and going 9-7 with a 3.39 ERA over 151.1 innings. However, after struggling to stay fully healthy throughout the second half of the season, he ended up blowing out his UCL in a September 16 start, and missed the entirety of the 2009 season as he recovered from Tommy John Surgery.

Fully recovered, Marcum took the ball for the Jays on opening day in 2010, and had another great season. He went 13-8 with a 3.64 ERA over 195.1 innings, putting up 4.1 bWAR and a 3.5 fWAR. That December, the Blue Jays shipped him off to Milwaukee, bringing back Brett Lawrie in return.

J.A. Happ (2012-2014, 2016-2018)

The Blue Jays sent several players to Houston prior to the 2012 trade deadline, bringing back their prized haul in Happ. Happ made 50 starts and another 8 relief appearances in his first stint, going 19-20 with a 4.39 ERA. The Jays traded Happ away after the 2014 season, bringing back Michael Saunders from the Mariners.

The Mariners flipped him to Pittsburgh at the trade deadline in 2015, and Happ revamped his game there. His success as a Pirate convinced the Jays to bring him back on a 3 year, $36m deal prior to the 2016 season.

Happ did not disappoint in his first season back, as he went 20-4 with a 3.18 ERA over 195.1 innings. He placed 6th in the Cy Young voting, and had some success in the playoffs that year too. He made just a pair of starts, allowing 3 runs over 10 innings, picking a win over the Rangers but a loss against Cleveland.

He was nearly as good his final year and a half as well, picking up another 20 wins for non-competitive teams, and completing his second stint as a Blue Jay with a 40-21 record and a 3.55 ERA. Overall, his entire Blue Jay career amounts to a 59-41 record with a 3.88 ERA, 11.1 fWAR and 10.6 bWAR.

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Mark Buehrle (2013-2015)

The Blue Jays brought Buehrle and a host of other expensive Major Leaguers over from the Marlins in the ill-fated Jeff Mathis trade in November 2012. The future Hall of Famer ended up being the best player that came to Toronto, and the only one still left on the team when they clinched the playoff spot in 2015. Sadly, Buehrle was left off the postseason roster, as his season wound down and he was clearly out of gas.

Buehrle had a pretty strong 3 year run in Toronto. Overall, he went 40-28 with a 3.78 ERA over 604.1 innings. He crossed the 200 inning threshold in the first 2 seasons (and 14 consecutive in his career), but fell 4 outs short of that mark in 2015 as a last ditch effort on 1 day of rest resulted in 8 runs over 0.2 innings in game 162.

He threw 5 complete games and 2 shutouts in his 3 seasons here. In the 4 years since he left, the Jays have 0 shutouts and just 3 complete games – 2 by Marcus Stroman, and 1 by Ryan Feierabend, a 5 inning rain shortened loss that will stump you on a future Sporcle from Minor Leaguer.

Papa Buehrle was a great mentor the younger pitchers, specifically Stroman. He brought a love of the game and a strong work ethic to the clubhouse, and he was a veteran that you could actually see providing the coveted yet unmeasurable Veteran Presence.

R.A. Dickey (2013-2016)

After the Jays pulled off the Mathis trade, the Jays realized that they still had a hole at the top of their rotation, and they traded for the reigning 2012 NL Cy Young winner. This Cy Young winner was a bit different though, as the 38 year old knuckleballer had just started coming into his own, and obviously wasn’t your typical overpowering ace. Nonetheless, Alex Anthopoulos pulled the trigger on the trade to send future ace Noah Syndergaard and top catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud back to the Mets.

The charismatic Dickey had a solid few years in Toronto, overall putting up a 49-52 record with a 4.05 ERA across 130 starts. He was also the 2013 AL Gold Glover winner on the mound, showing that he had some defensive value as well. That amounted to a 7.1 bWAR, but that also doesn’t account for the -2.0 bWAR that his personal catcher, Josh Thole, provided the Jays in that time too.

When the Jays finally made it to the playoffs in 2015, Dickey was right there making the start in game 4 of the ALDS against the Rangers, pitching 4.2 innings while allowing just 1 run. He didn’t fare nearly as well against the Royals in the ALCS however, lasting just 1.2 innings in game 4 while allowing 5 runs to kick off a 14-2 loss. Dickey was around in 2016, but was shut down in September and never made the playoff roster.

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Marco Estrada (2015-2018)

The Jays traded fan favourite first baseman/designated hitter Adam Lind to the Brewers prior to the 2015 season to bolster their pitching depth with Marco Estrada. Estrada was meant to go to the bullpen and provide a backup plan if there were holes in the rotation, but mainly be a swingman jumping between the bullpen and rotation as needed. After a month in the bullpen, he made his first start on May 5, and never pitched out of the bullpen for the Blue Jays again.

Estrada and his incredible changeup had some remarkable starts for the Blue Jays, with his best regular season effort coming on June 24 in Tampa Bay. He was perfect through 7 innings, ultimately making it 8.2 innings of 2 hits, no walks or runs, and 10 strikeouts. His ability to limit hits was incredible, and he led the league in hits allowed per 9 innings in both 2015 and 2016. Unfortunately back problems plagued a lot of his time with the Blue Jays, and he was never able to pitch more than 186 innings in any of his 4 seasons.

But he certainly was healthy when it came time for the playoffs. He pitched some of the biggest games for the Jays, including staving off elimination with gems in both game 3 of the 2015 ALDS, and game 5 of the 2015 ALCS. Over 41.2 playoff innings with the Jays, Estrada allowed just 10 earned runs on 29 hits, good enough for a 2.16 ERA. And when he was on, he made batters look absolutely foolish at the plate. (<— you want to click this link)

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Who was your favourite post-2000s mid rotation starter?

  • 0%

    Esteban Loaiza

    (0 votes)

  • 14%

    Shaun Marcum

    (52 votes)

  • 18%

    J.A. Happ

    (67 votes)

  • 18%

    Mark Buehrle

    (68 votes)

  • 0%

    R.A. Dickey

    (3 votes)

  • 47%

    Marco Estrada

    (175 votes)

365 votes total

Vote Now

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NHL, players’ association reach tentative agreement on protocols to resume season



The NHL and NHL Players’ Association agreed Sunday on protocols to resume the season, a major step toward the return of hockey this summer.

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press there was an agreement on protocols for training camps and games and the sides are still negotiating an extension of the collective bargaining agreement, which is crucial to the process.

A person with knowledge of the situation said the return-to-play protocols would only go into effect if each side votes to approve the full package of the CBA extension and return-to-play agreement. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because CBA talks are still ongoing.

To complete a return, two-thirds of the league’s board of governors and majorities of the players’ executive committee and full membership must vote in favour.

If everything is ratified, it will end a pandemic-forced shutdown that began in mid-March. Games would resume in late July or early August with 24 teams taking part in an expanded playoffs, finishing with the Stanley Cup being awarded in October.

The agreement was first reported by TSN.

The 47 pages of protocols outline the health and safety measures the league and players agreed to after several weeks of negotiations. Any player has until 5 p.m. EDT on Tuesday to notify his team if he’s choosing to opt out of participating in training camp and games, with an additional deadline expected after ratification of the agreement.

For those playing, each team is limited to 30 skaters and an unlimited amount of goaltenders for camp and total roster of up to 31 players for games. Each team is limited to 52 personnel in its game city, a group that must include two trainers, a doctor and compliance officer in addition players, coaches and management.

They are expected to be quarantined from the general public during play at least for the qualifying and first two traditional playoff rounds. Family members will be permitted to join when play is moved to one city for the conference finals and Stanley Cup Final.

All team and league employees plus hotel, restaurant and arena staff coming in contact with players will be tested daily in the two “hub” cities.

One player’s positive coronavirus test result is not expected to shut down play entirely. The league has said it would isolate any player or staff member who tests positive, acknowledging an outbreak would threaten the remainder of the season.

“The players will be pretty well-protected from being exposed,” Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson said during a conference call in June. “It’s going to be a completely different way for you all and us watching hockey and being around a team because players will be really well protected throughout the process.”

The protocols include a provision for Commissioner Gary Bettman in consultation with NHLPA executive director Don Fehr to postpone, delay or cancel games in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Assuming the protocols are approved, teams are expected to open training camps July 13 before travelling to the two hub cities for games. Players have been able to skate and train off-ice in voluntary, small-group workouts since June 8 — nearly three months after hockey was halted March 12 with 189 regular-season games remaining.

Returning for the playoffs is seen as a stirring victory for the NHL, which like other top leagues faced the prospect of losing millions more without the television revenue tied to the post-season. There were deep concerns about cancelling the rest of the season and word of positive tests didn’t help: 26 players since June 8, in addition to almost a dozen before that.

Boston defenceman Matt Grzelcyk called the positive test results “eye-opening” but expected. A few players expressed concerns in recent weeks about the uncertainty surrounding a return.

“We have obviously a unique situation right now,” Montreal goaltender Carey Price said. “The NHL and the NHLPA are trying to make the best of a very difficult situation. Moving forward I’d like to play, but we have a lot of questions that need to be answered and a lot of scenarios that need to be covered.”

If the protocols and an CBA extension cover those scenarios for enough owners and players, there will be a path forward to hand out the Stanley Cup. Only twice since 1893 has the Cup not been awarded: in 1919, when the final couldn’t be completed because of the Spanish flu pandemic, and 2005 when the season was wiped out by a lockout.



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NHL, NHLPA tentatively agree on protocols to resume play as CBA talks continue –



The NHL and NHLPA have tentatively agreed on protocols to resume play, Sportsnet can confirm. The two sides continue to negotiate an extension to the collective bargaining agreement.

Once a CBA extension is agreed upon, the NHL’s board of governors and the full membership of the NHLPA will vote on both the extension and the return-to-play protocols that were agreed to on Sunday.

The newly agreed-upon protocols cover Phase 3 and 4 of the NHL’s return-to-play plan. According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, this includes a framework for how the return-to-play would be called off if the COVID-19 virus cannot be contained.

According to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, the return-to-play protocols include an opt-out clause for any player that does not want to resume play this season without penalty. He adds that coaches will not be required to wear face coverings on the bench during games and no dress code will be imposed upon players on game day.

Friedman also reports that the return-to-play protocols include a framework for how the league’s two hub cities will be enforced.

“Individuals leaving… without permission may be subject to consequences up to and including removal,” Friedman reports the agreement as saying, adding “violations… will result in, for clubs, significant penalties, potentially including fines and/or loss of draft choices.”

Additionally, Friedman reports that all players will undergo “a Pre-Participation Medical Examination.” If the doctor administring the exam and the team’s infectious disease expert determine a player is unfit to return to play due to the “substantial risk of developing a serious illness” from COVID-19, that player may seek a second opinion.

In May, the NHL and NHLPA agreed to a framework for what return to play would look like and the two sides have been negotiating finer details ever since. The return-to-play format will see 24 teams return to the ice in two hub cities, each hosting one conference. The top four teams in each conference by points percentage at the time of the season pause in March will play each other to determine playoff seeding. The next eight teams in each conference have been paired up based on points percentage and will play best-of-five series to determine the other playoff spots.

The NHL initially was considering 10 cities to be hubs for these games, with Edmonton and Toronto expected to be chosen.

The NHL’s return plan has been broken down into four stages. Phase 1 began shortly after the season was suspended and saw all team facilities closed and players allowed to return home. Phase 2 began June 8 and is ongoing, with players allowed to return to team facilities to skate in small groups after testing negative for COVID-19. According to the NHL, from June 8 to 29, more than 250 players were tested under Phase 2 protocols and 15 tested positive. Additionally, 11 players tested positive outside of Phase 2 protocols in that same time period.

Phase 3 of the return plan would cover training camps for the returning teams and eventual travel to the hub cities while Phase 4 would cover playing games. Specific dates for the beginning of these phases won’t be determined until the CBA negotiation is complete and the board of governors and NHLPA membership approve the plans and CBA in a vote.

With files from The Associated Press

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