Connect with us


Jays eye major-league stadiums after being turfed from Rogers Centre – Toronto Sun



So is it shuffle off to Buffalo? Or dance the COVID-19 dance in Dunedin, Fla.?

While those two Blue Jays minor-league venues remain a possibility for the team now that its bid to return to Toronto has been denied, both have glaring weaknesses in the eyes of club management and the player-development department.

As a result, for weeks now the Jays front office has been exploring multiple options beyond those two. And as a source told the Toronto Sun on Saturday, the alternatives very much include other MLB stadiums, assuming schedules and logistical concerns can be worked out.

As they awaited the fateful federal government decision over the past couple of weeks, the Jays have been working in concert with MLB and commissioner Rob Manfred on contingencies. And it’s clear that the more creative of those alternatives involved are exploring locations other than minor-league parks.

“We’re looking at all options that provide the best circumstances for player safety and competitiveness,” a source familiar with the Jays’ contingency options said. “And major-league stadiums are certainly among the best fit for those variables.”

During a Zoom conference call on Saturday, Jays president Mark Shapiro was transparent about the issues related to the stadiums that have conventionally been assumed as the front-runners.

As the Jays spring training home, TD Ballpark is the stadium Shapiro called “the only one that’s 100% seamless right now and ready to go but, from a player health standpoint, has its challenges.”

In other words: Good for baseball, bad for living. The Jays don’t want to go anywhere near Florida right now. An undisclosed number of players already caught the virus last month and the numbers in that state are exploding off the charts. Shapiro has maintained all along that player health and safety is paramount.

While a terrific fan-friendly stadium, Sahlen Field in downtown Buffalo is sub-standard from a baseball standpoint. The batting cages and weight rooms are far inferior to what big-league players are accustomed to, the clubhouses lack space and the stadium lighting is inferior.

Shapiro said the Jays have been working on logistics to make Buffalo a viable home, but work remains. And more than once in his 22-minute press conference, the Jays president expressed concern about surrendering a competitive disadvantage to the opposition in this truncated 60-game campaign.

“It’s obviously not a major-league facility,” Shapiro said when asked specifically about Buffalo. “And the teams we are competing against are playing in major-league facilities as far as cages, weight room, training room, the sizes of those.

“We are weighing that against other alternatives, as well.”

At issue with sharing another big-league team’s venue is space. Clubhouses need to be spread out to ensure social distancing and not all stadiums have such room. That said, most have family rooms for wives and children of players and, since luxury suites won’t be used in empty stadiums, those could be options.

Shapiro said there is no drop-dead date to determine where the Jays will play their home dates — beginning with a July 29 game against the World Series champion Washington Nationals. Shapiro acknowledged there is an urgency to making the decision, however.

“We’re talking about alternatives with the commissioner’s office (and expect) clarity in the next couple of days,” Shapiro said. “I’m confident we’ll be in our best possible situation that satisfies player health and competitiveness when we start our season.

“We want to make sure we put the Blue Jays in the best position possible and we are all confident that can happen.”

The Jays fancy themselves among league leaders in high-performance developments and sports-science initiatives. With a young, developing team, the last thing the front office wants right now is to stunt that growth. And finding a shared, temporary home in a big-league arena is the best way to prevent it.


In part because of the uncertainty with the team’s situation, for the most part Jays players have been careful not to say much about the non-Rogers Centre alternatives. But as opening day starter Hyun-Jin Ryu acknowledged on Saturday, The Show is The Show.

“It’s not the same type of environment if we do end up playing in a minor-league stadium,” Ryu said via Zoom, after pitching five innings in a Saturday evening intrasquad game. “We just have to adjust to the environment.”

The big, South Korean left-hander, who was signed to a four-year, $80-million US contract in the off-season, was eagerly looking forward to his first season in Toronto before the pandemic hit.

“Obviously, you play half the season at home, so there is definitely some sort of comfort level you develop over time,” Ryu said. “But right now, the situation itself, you just have to deal with it as players. One of our challenges is to adapt to new situations.

“COVID-19 still exists and there are hard-working people on the front line trying to battle the virus. So you have to respect the Canadian government’s decision to keep the public safe.”


Is it possible that the Jays would consider playing home games at more than one venue? On one level anyway, it may make some sense.

Take the Pittsburgh Pirates for example and compare their home schedule with that of the Jays. With just a handful of overlapping dates, could Toronto play day games on the conflicting days in Buffalo while mostly being based in the Steel City, a short flight or even bus ride away?

While it may sound like a stretch and would be a long shot, the pandemic requires creative thinking. And if the Jays are committed to avoiding a minor-league facility, you can expect that such options are being explored.

Why not swing for the fences?

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


Maradona's Manager Reportedly Says Football Icon Was Tired, Let Himself Die – Sputnik International



REUTERS / Marcos Brindicci

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Football legend Diego Maradona was tired and let himself die, Maradona’s manager and friend, Stefano Ceci, told La Gazzetta dello Sport on Friday.

“Diego was always alone. Diego was tired, yes, he let himself die. He did not want to live anymore. Diego stopped being Diego when he turned 15: since he became Maradona, he was alone. I was living close to Diego for 20 years. Diego was a fragile and shy man. Diego’s personality was the opposite of Diego-footballer,” Ceci said, as quoted by the Italian media outlet.

The manager added that, two years ago, Maradona remained active and even played football with younger people, but, finally, family scandals exhausted him.

“In recent months Diego became very tired. I saw that something changed. Two years earlier, he played football in Dubai with people, who were 15-20 years younger than him. Chaos in the family bothered Diego, who never had peace,” Ceci said.

The iconic forward passed away on Wednesday at the age of 60 due to cardiac arrest. Clashes and riots engulfed Buenos Aires on Thursday as the authorities removed the casket with his body from public viewing for early burial. Maradona was buried at a cemetery in the Bella Vista residential area near Buenos Aires.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


Best moments from Phil Mickelson and Charles Barkley's win at The Match – Golf Channel



Score one for the underdogs!

Phil Mickelson and Charles Barkley entered the latest iteration of The Match, The Match III, as betting underdogs to favorites Stephen Curry and Peyton Manning. However, Mickelson and the 25-handicap Barkley got the job done in convincing fashion, winning 4 and 3 on Friday at Stone Canyon Club in Oro Valley, Arizona.

“Two people thought this was going to happen: you and me,” Mickelson told Barkley as they walked off the 15th green.

After dropping the first hole, Mickelson and Barkley won four straight holes to take command. As Curry struggled with his game and Manning couldn’t do much to pick up the slack, the two went 4 down after 10 holes. In total, they won just three holes.

While there were still plenty of Classic Chuck shots to make things entertaining, Mickelson performed well as a player, coach and caddie to headline a strong team performance.

Oh, and the banter wasn’t “turrible,” either.

Here are some of the most memorable moments from the day:

To: Chuck, From: Tiger

Barkley’s golf ability and knack for self deprecation make him an easy target, so it’s no surprise that Tiger Woods’ needle found him.

Woods sent some gifts Barkley’s way before the match, including a reflective vest and airhorn.

The joke, though, was mostly on Tiger. Barkley didn’t need any of his presents early. He hit a nice baby draw off the first tee and didn’t miss a fairway until the fifth hole. And while Barkley did hit some foul balls later, the match was well in hand by then.

Early over-club

Mickelson put on his caddie hat right away after bombing a drive into the left rough at the opening hole. As Barkley sized up a wedge shot, Mickelson shot the flag with his rangefinder.

“70 yards,” Mickelson said.

Barkley clipped it a little thin, sending the ball well over the flag and rolling it onto the back fringe, some 80 feet away from the flag.

Mickelson then conceded that he over-clubbed Barkley on purpose.

“It was actually 55,” he said to Barkley. “I didn’t want to tell you that because I wanted you to be aggressive. … I’ve underestimated your ability.”

Pray for the zebras?

Steph Curry was easily the best dressed player on the course, and Phil Mickelson agreed: “I think he looks amazing.”

But Andre Iguodala, one of Curry’s former Warriors teammates who was part of the broadcast team, disagreed.

“How many zebras had to die for you to look fly?” Iguodala quipped.


Barkley’s Gary Player story

Speaking of outfits, Barkley’s all-black attire prompted a tweet from Gary Player.

“Glad to see that Chuck has channeled his inner Black Knight with his all black attire today,” Player said. “Let’s go Chuck & Phil.”

Barkley then mentioned that he and Player teed it up recently.

“One of the highlights of my life was getting to meet Gary Player about six weeks ago,” Barkley said. “I always wanted to meet him, we played a great round of golf and it was an honor and a privilege.”

Unsurprisingly, Player made some comments about Barkley’s weight during their round together.

“I’ll tell you what, he made me feel bad about being fat, though,” Barkley said. “He told me I need to get in the gym.”

Barkley’s hecklers

Tiger and Gary weren’t the only ones making fun at Barkley’s expense. Barkley’s “NBA on TNT” colleagues – Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal – joined the telecast from their homes.

“I’ve got $100,000 on Steph Curry,” O’Neal said to Barkley, who chunked his tee ball at the sixth hole amid the trash talk.

Finally, Mickelson had enough.

“I’m tired of your colleagues disrespecting you,” he said before handing a dozen Callaway golf balls with Shaq’s face logoed on them to Barkley. 

Barkley’s next shot from the drop zone missed the green, as well.

“200,000 on Steph Curry,” O’Neal added.

“Where’s the hitch?” Kenny Smith asked Barkley as he walked toward the green.

O’Neal then had the best zinger of them all as Barkley lined up a birdie putt off of Mickelson’s tee shot.

“Chuck, if you can’t read words how you gonna read greens?” O’Neal asked.

Mickelson’s advice – “Quiet your mind, my friend” – paid off, though, as Barkley nestled one close to clinch the halve after Manning lipped out a short birdie try.

‘Strong, cocky move’

With Barkley facing a long birdie putt from the fringe at the fifth hole, Curry had a chance to chip he and Manning’s fourth shot close and put some pressure on.

However, he duffed it.

With the ball still in the rough, Mickelson decided to conceded the bogey to his opponents.

“That’s a strong, cocky move right there,” he said to Barkley, who ended up lagging one 4 feet past and setting up a Mickelson par make for the hole.

‘I bought it’

Who said the Super Bowl had the best commercials?


Here’s the ball flight we’re used to out of Chuck. Warning: It’s not for the shank of heart.


After Barkley declared the match basically over with he and Mickelson leading 3 up at the turn, the pair went 4 up after 10 holes. But Curry and Manning managed to get one back at the par-4 11th hole as Mickelson and Barkley spent some quality time in the desert.

Nice out by Mickelson, even if Barkley would later miss a putt for double bogey.

As for Barkley’s club toss? In Chuck’s words: Turrible!

Great – but meaningless – shot!

Not much went right for Curry and Manning on Friday.

Even this beauty of a bunker shot by Steph, at No. 12,  resulted in a lost hole.

Great shot, but Curry still might not want to check his Twitter for a while. Better to let the plus-1 handicap skepticism die down first.

Block or charge?


And the winning putt…

Mickelson sealed the deal with this birdie make, but man, wouldn’t it have been great if Barkley had drained the game-winner instead?

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


Alejandro Pozuelo reveals injury as Toronto FC focus on contending again in 2021 –



Even in a condensed season, with rotation aplenty as travel and fixture congestion forced MLS clubs to rely on the depth of their squads, Toronto FC talisman Alejandro Pozuelo started all 25 of his club’s matches in 2020. 

Pozuelo started the year on fire but didn’t quite live up to his lofty standards at the end of the season and failed to make an impact as Toronto lost to Nashville SC in Round One of the 2020 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. 

The finalist and favorite for the Landon Donovan MLS MVP award revealed he was carrying an injury towards the end of the season. 

“Physically, I feel good but in the last games I had some problem in my leg,” Pozuelo told media on a virtual press conference. “The last two or three weeks I played through an injury but nobody knew because we tried to force through the last month. This is not an excuse. I play a lot of games because I want to play, I felt good enough to play. When I don’t feel good, I say no. But I felt good (enough to play).”

Pozuelo had just one goal and no assists in his final six games, including the playoff loss, after eight goals and 10 assists in the first 19 games of the season.

“The MVP (award) is not important for me,” Pozuelo said. “We lost in the first round, we don’t feel good. We know we could have done more, we have more expectations in this team. The MVP is not important, I feel no good when we lose in the first round.”

Toronto persevered a difficult season, most spent away from home. With difficulties between the United States-Canada border with quarantine guidelines brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Toronto spent the second half of their season playing “at home” in Connecticut. A number of players noted how difficult it was to be away from families but didn’t want to blame that on their disappointment in the playoffs. 

“This season was tough for everybody, but we tried to do our job,” defender Chris Mavinga said. “It wasn’t easy but I think we did well. We didn’t do it in the playoffs, but we have to be proud what we did in the regular season, then learn from it so we can do better next season.”

Toronto are now focused on the offseason and returning strong in 2021. 

“I want to play on a good team, I want us to have as many good players as possible,” midfielder Michael Bradley said. “As many competitors as possible, a team that steps on the field and goes for it every single weekend. That’s all I want. When you look at the club’s track record in the types of players and personalities they’ve brought in, by and large, it’s been quite good.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading