National Basketball Association playoff games will resume on Saturday after players ended a work stoppage in return for a commitment from the league to social justice measures including the conversion of stadiums into polling places in the 2020 presidential election.
The agreement ends a protest that began on Wednesday when the Milwaukee Bucks refused to take part in a playoff match in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake Jr, a 29-year-old African-American man, by a white police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, 40 miles from the team’s base.
The protest had put completion of the NBA season under threat after play had resumed in a socially distanced “bubble” during the coronavirus pandemic. The matches at ESPN Wide World of Sports, part of Florida’s Disney World resort, are critical to the NBA’s revenues, which came to roughly $8bn last year.
In a statement, Michele Roberts, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, and Adam Silver, NBA commissioner, said that talks involving players, coaches and team officials had been “candid, impassioned and productive”.
Under the agreement, the league and its players will set up a social justice coalition to encourage greater participation by voters and advocate for “meaningful” reform of the police and justice system.
In cities where teams own their arenas, the clubs and election officials will collaborate to enable people to vote in the 2020 general election. The league and the players union said the move would allow for “safe in-person voting” for communities at risk of Covid-19.
Each playoff game will include advertising to promote “greater civic engagement” in elections.
“These commitments follow months of close collaboration around designing a safe and healthy environment to restart the NBA season, providing a platform to promote social justice, as well as creating an NBA Foundation focused on economic empowerment in the black community,” said Ms Roberts and Mr Silver.
President Donald Trump, asked on Friday night what he thought about the recent cancellations of games in the professional sports leagues, said: “I think what they’re doing to the NBA in particular is going to destroy basketball.” He added: “It’s very bad for the NBA and it’s going to prove to be very bad for [American] football.”
Blue Jays pushing Ryu to Game 2 vs. Rays – TSN
The Toronto Blue Jays will start Matt Shoemaker in Game 1 of their playoff series against the Tampa Bay Rays and push ace Hyun-Jin Ryu to Game 2.
Shoemaker will face Rays ace Blake Snell in Game 1 while Ryn will face Tyler Glasnow in Game 2.
If the best-of-three series goes to a Game 3, the Jays will send Taijuan Walker to the mound to take on Charlie Morton.
As TSN Blue Jays Reporter Scott Mitchell reported, Ryu has been slightly more dominant with an extra day’s rest this season.
In 12 regular season starts for the Blue Jays this season, Ryu finished with a 5-2 record, 2.69 earned run average, and 72 strikeouts in 67 innings.
Shoemaker meanwhile, made six starts for the Jays this season, finishing with a 0-1 record, 4.71 ERA, and 26 strikeouts in 28.2 innings.
Walker, since being acquired from the Seattle Mariners mid-season, had a 2-1 record, 1.37 ERA, and 25 strikeouts in 26.1 innings.
The Wreck of the Tampa Bay Rays? – Bluebird Banter
When Alejandro Kirk doubled in two runs with two out in the bottom of the 6th on Thursday to extend the lead over the Yankees to 4-0 in their playoff clincher, I was inspired in the moment to quickly adapt a part of the first verse of Gordon Lightfoot’s indelible ballad The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald in tribute. Looking a little further, it struck me that even more of the ensuing verses was readily adaptable or somewhat applicable to Kirk.
The problem, of course, is the song is fundamentally about the tragedy of a great ship sinking in a storm with 29 lives lost. Not exactly the comparison to be conjured up for a promising prospect, especially given the Blue Jays’ history of catchers of the future floundering. With the then-likelihood and now-certain reality of facing their divisional nemesis in the playoffs, it was suggested that instead it could be the Wreck of the Tampa Bay Rays.
And so, I present The (Hopefully Impending) Wreck of the Tampa Bay Rays at the Hands of Alejandro Kirk:
The legend lives on from Rogers Centre on down
Of the backstop they called Alejandro
Captain Kirk, it is said, hammers fastballs dead red
When the games of September might be woe
With a load of fans twenty-six milligrams more
Than Tropicana stadium weighed empty
The good ship Blue Jay was bound to be prey
When the games of October came early
Young Kirk was the pride of the Mexican side
Coming up from the farm in Dunedin
As short ballplayers go, he was bigger than most
With quick hands, a keen eye though not seasoned
Concluding some terms with divisional firms
They left fully loaded for Rays-land
And later that week when “play ball” rang
Could it be the Trop’s ghosts they were feelin’?
Balls lost in the roof fell safely in fair ground
Routine pop-ups clanged right off the catwalk
And everyone knew, as El Capitan did too,
T’was the witch of the Trop come to shock
The throw came in late, offline from the plate
As the Tampa Bay runners came crossin’
When the late innings came it all seemed in vain
In the face of a cursed playing surface
When few outs remained, Captain Kirk came on deck sayin’
Fellas, it’s time for a rally
Seven pitches in, a ball hung over the plate, he said
Fellas, this one’s in the alley
Kevin Cash wired in so many runs comin’ in
His bullpen and bench in a deep daze
And later that night when the last out went outta sight
Came the wreck of the Tampa Bay Rays
Does any one know where the love of God goes
When Dolis turns the minutes to hours?
The statheads all say they shouldn’t have been in the fray
But Manfred put fifteen more teams alongside ‘em
They might have been lucky or they might have collapsed
They may have broke form in close losses
But all that remains is the faces and the names
Of the hitters and pitchers and the coaches
The offence rolls, Teoscar dings
In the confines of revamped Sahlen Field
Pearson’s fastball steams like a young man’s dreams
The change-ups and curves are for Hyun Jin
It happened below Lake Ontario
Just east of Lake Erie for 2020
And the fly balls go though the Mariners won’t know
When the year of corona’s remembered
Stay ahead of the boys in Detroit they prayed,
In the Triple-A players’ cathedral
The foghorn blared till it went twenty-eight times
For each man on the Jays’ playoff roster
The legend lives on from Rogers Centre on down
Of the backstop they called Alejandro
Tropicana, they said, always leaves the Jays dead
But the hosts at the Trop have a new foe
NBA Finals 2020: Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers become unprecedented NBA Finals opponents – NBA CA
The Miami Heat are headed back to the NBA Finals. Making their sixth appearance, and the first since 2014, Miami becomes the third-lowest seeded team to reach the NBA Finals since 1984.
They will be contesting the Los Angeles Lakers, making this the first Finals matchup between two teams who missed the playoffs the previous season. And they eliminated the Boston Celtics, who now join the Rockets in recent ignominy as the co-leaders for most playoff wins (29) without a Finals appearance over the last five seasons.
Also of note: The Heat or Warriors have played in the last 10 NBA Finals. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra becomes only the eighth coach to appear in a fifth Finals.
And 2014 NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala joins an ultra-exclusive (and Boston-heavy) list of players to appear in six consecutive championship rounds; LeBron James and James Jones are the only non-Celtics.
Lowest-seeded teams to reach NBA Finals*
Teams to reach The Finals year after missing playoffs*
*Since the NBA/ABA merger
Players to reach six consecutive NBA Finals
• Bill Russell; 10
• Sam Jones, Tom Heinsohn; 9
• Frank Ramsey, LeBron James; 8
• Bob Cousy, K.C. Jones, James Jones; 7
• Tom Sanders, Andre Iguodala; 6
Head coaches to appear in at least 5 NBA Finals
• Phil Jackson; 13
• Red Auerbach; 11
• Pat Riley; 9
• Johnny Kundla, Gregg Popovich; 6
• K.C. Jones, Steve Kerr, Erik Spoelstra; 5
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