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Dolphins place Fitzpatrick on COVID-19 list – TSN

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As the Miami Dolphins stand on the precipice of their first playoff appearance in four seasons, the team will be forced to get there without Ryan Fitzpatrick.

The team placed the veteran quarterback on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday, leaving rookie Tua Tagovailoa to start in the team’s Week 17 game at the Buffalo Bills. In a corresponding move, QB Jake Rudock has been signed from the team’s practice squad.

The fifth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft out of Alabama, Tagovailoa will make his ninth start of the season. In nine games this year, the Ewa Beach, HI native has thrown for 1,453 yards on 151-for-232 passing with 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. Tagovailoa has rushed for another three TDs.

The playoff scenarios for the Dolphins are relatively straightforward. Beat the AFC East champion Bills and they’re in or, failing that, hope that any one of the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens or Indianapolis Colts loses, which would also earn the team their first berth since 2016.

The Bills (12-3) and Dolphins (10-5) already met in Week 2 in Miami when the Bills emerged as 31-28 victors. Fitzpatrick threw for 328 yards and two TDs in the loss.

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BBWAA rejects Schilling's removal request – TSN

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Curt Schilling’s request to be removed from Baseball Hall of Fame consideration appears to be heading for rejection.

A day after the three-time World Series champion asked to have his name taken off the ballot for 2022 following his failure to reach Cooperstown for a ninth time, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America released a statement saying that such an accommodation cannot be made and is a violation of the rules set forth by the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s board of directors.

 The BBWAA secretary Jack O’Connell cited one rule in particular that would prevent Schilling’s wish from being granted:

“The duty of the Screening Committee shall be to prepare a ballot listing in alphabetical order eligible candidates who (1) received a vote on a minimum of five percent (5%) of the ballots cast in the preceding election or (2) are eligible for the first time and are nominated by any two of the six members of the BBWAA Screening Committee.” 

Schilling appeared on 71.1 per cent of ballots, falling 16 votes shy of the 75 per-cent threshold. The BBWAA urges the board to leave the six-time All-Star on the ballot for his final year of eligibility in 2022.

The Hall of Fame assigned the BBWAA to be the electorate in 1936,” O’Connell said. “This association has abided by the rules for 85 years and shall continue to do so. The BBWAA urges the board to reject Mr. Schilling’s request.”

Schilling’s candidacy has been a controversial one because of the views espoused by the 54-year-old right-hander in retirement.

A staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, Schilling voiced support for the Capitol riots of Jan. 6, causing a number of Hall of Fame voters to ask if their votes for Schilling could be rescinded.

Along with Schilling, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will also appear on the ballot for the final time in 2022.

Schilling is not the first person to ask to have his name removed from the ballot.

In 2009, after falling a single vote short of Cooperstown, former MLBPA executive director Marvin Miller asked to be taken off the 2010 ballot.

“Many years ago, those who control the Hall of Fame decided to re-write history instead of recording it,” Miller said at the time. “The aim was to eradicate the tremendous impact the players union on the progress and the development of the game as a competitive sport, as entertainment and as an industry.”

Miller would finally be elected to Cooperstown in 2019, seven years after his death in 2012.

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Tkachuk-Muzzin fireworks add new chapter to Flames’ growing rivalry with Leafs – Sportsnet.ca

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CALGARY – On his knees at the final buzzer, crushed by the Flames’ second loss in a row, Matthew Tkachuk had hockey’s version of sand kicked in his face.

Standing a few feet away from the Flames agitator, Jake Muzzin turned and deliberately flipped the puck at Tkachuk’s chest, punctuating the Leafs’ 4-3 win with a big ol’ middle finger.

Given Tkachuk’s penchant for perturbing, there aren’t many players in the league who wouldn’t love sending a similar message his way.

Fair enough.

Infuriated at the disrespect, Tkachuk sprung to his feet and immediately launched into the Leafs veteran, doing his best to square off with Muzzin while other Leafs and an official stepped in to separate them.

For his efforts, Muzzin was handed a meaningless unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, while an enraged Tkachuk stormed down the tunnel to the dressing room, attempting to smash several water bottles along the way.

What a shame these two don’t play again until Feb. 22.

Not just because it’s now clear the Leafs really did take exception to Tkachuk’s fall on Jack Campbell’s back a game earlier after all, but because the two just engaged in a whale of a see-saw battle.

Now we know there’s some juice in this matchup.

All it really ever takes is a little familiarity with Tkachuk for an opponent to start digging in against him. The Leafs and Flames are now building that animosity, with a full seven games left in their season series.

Don’t forget who Muzzin played alongside for many years in Los Angeles – yes, the man who Tkachuk has had a very public, running feud with: Drew Doughty.

You can bet that Doughty’s evening ended with a text to his old pal that included a string of supportive emojis.

As bush and symbolic as a puck flip into an opponent’s chest is, it sets the stage for more wonderful theatre and storylines when the two next meet. That’s what this North Division could – and should — be all about: vitriol, animosity, payback and passion.

On Tuesday, the game itself was entertaining, and that can normally carry the day. But the NHL is in the entertainment business and few things in sport are more entertaining than conflict.

As far as the game went, the Flames pulled another first-period no-show, outshot 10-1 and lucky to trail just 2-0 thanks to their new nightly saviour, Jacob Markstrom.

The Flames flipped the script in the second, outshooting the visitors 18-5 to set up a third period in which they bridged their 3-2 deficit with a tying goal from Johnny Gaudreau, his second of the game.

Although league scoring leader Mitch Marner would eventually break the deadlock with a snipe from the high slot that won the game with eight minutes left, nobody was feeling it more than Gaudreau on this night.

As part of a solid start to his season, Gaudreau had his first two-goal game since Dec. 12, 2019.

Alas, as usually happens when the Leafs win, Toronto’s big boys were the difference. Marner and Matthews both had a goal and a helper to clinch a two-game sweep over a Calgary club that spent the bulk of both games playing catch-up.

“First period was awful for the whole team, other than Marky,” said Gaudreau, slumped in his chair.

“We just didn’t show up in the first. Not the way we’re going to win games.”

The Flames can take solace in the fact that for the third time this season they followed up a horrific period with a doozy. But there wasn’t much else to take away from a game in which Geoff Ward’s defensive demands were ignored with regularity.

“We didn’t start on time, that’s for sure,” said Ward. “We got outworked early and we were really porous. We looked like we’d never tracked before in our life. Everything we do has to come from the fact we can check. You can’t give up four goals in this league regularly and expect to win games. We have to be committed to being good away from the puck.”

But nobody will be talking about that on Wednesday, as the Flames make their way to Montreal to play the red-hot Habs.

They’ll discuss the pettiness of a puck flip, the possibility of payback and the reality that we may just get playoff-type hostility long before the post-season begins.

For that we can thank Mr. Muzzin and Mr. Tkachuk, who’s next time together in the sandbox is already being discussed.

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Blue Jays snag Marcus Semien on one-year deal for infield upgrade – Toronto Sun

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The Blue Jays continued their pursuit of moving towards serious playoff contention on Tuesday by signing free agent Marcus Semien to bolster their infield.

Once again showing they mean business, the Jays reached agreement with the veteran shortstop, who most recently held that position with the Oakland Athletics. A source told the Toronto Sun that the one-year deal is worth $18 million US, pending a physical.

Semien is one season removed from the best campaign of his career when he hit .285 with 33 home runs and finished third in 2019 American League MVP voting. Presumably that offensive flash was attractive enough for the Jays to overlook a regression in 2020 when Semien got off to a tardy start and never recovered, batting just .223.

The 30-year-old has spent most of his career at shortstop, which will make for some interesting decisions for manager Charlie Montoyo. The likelihood in Toronto, however, is that Semien — who the team feels will be a plus-defender — is to play at second and shift Cavan Biggio to third base.

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