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NBA releases restart schedule after sides sign off on final terms of Florida plan – CBC.ca

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Acknowledging that no option would have been risk-free during a pandemic, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Friday that the concern shared by the league and its players surrounding next month’s restart of the season is rising as coronavirus cases in Florida keep climbing.

That said, the league and the National Basketball Players Association are moving forward — finalizing the deal that will bring the game back and see teams start arriving at the Disney campus near Orlando, Fla., in less than two weeks.

The defending champion Toronto Raptors will resume their season on Aug. 1 against the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Raptors, along with the NBA, announced their revised eight-game schedule on Friday.

Under the format for the restart, the 22 participating teams will have eight “seeding games,” selected from their remaining regular-season matchups.

Toronto will also play Miami, Orlando, Boston, Memphis, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Denver, with the seeding games concluding by Aug. 14.

All games will be played at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida with no fans in attendance.

The Raptors held down the second seed in the Eastern Conference when play was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NBA’s reopening night on July 31 will see New Orleans against Utah and the Clippers versus the Lakers.

Many of the details of the return-to-play agreement were already known: that “stringent health and safety protocols” would be in place for the participating teams, that no fans will be present and that games will be held in three different arenas at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex.

But when those protocols were completed, the Orange County, Fla., area — which includes Orlando — had seen a five per cent rate of positive coronavirus tests over the preceding 10 days. In the 10 days that have followed, the rate of positive tests there has soared to just over 15 per cent.

“We ultimately believe it will be safer on our campus than outside it,” Silver said Friday afternoon. “But the signal we are sending is this is definitely not business as usual. This is far from an ideal way to finish our season, and it will require tremendous sacrifices from all those involved.”

WATCH | Former Raptors star Vince Carter calls it a career:

After playing for a record 22 seasons, 43-year-old Vince Carter, who launched his career with the Raptors, announced his retirement, leaving behind a complicated legacy in Toronto. 2:42

Silver said the league is working with Disney to test at least some of its on-site employees who could be in the same room as NBA players, which he believes will make the setting even safer.

Once players get to Disney, they will be tested daily. Testing is currently in an every-other-day mandatory phase for the teams set to participate in the restarted season. The results from Tuesday’s first 302 tests showed that 16 players were positive for the virus.

“I think one would have been concerning,” NBPA executive director Michele Roberts said. “But, God forgive me, I was frankly to some extent relieved that the number was not higher…. If nothing else, it told me that the great majority of our players have been doing exactly what they should have been doing to keep themselves safe.”

Silver said it may be possible that, if there was a significant spread of the virus within the Disney campus, “that might lead us to stopping.” He said the league has not precisely concluded what number of positive tests it would take to shut down the season once it resumes, and he continues working with the players and health officials to determine what that number should be.

Social justice a priority

The league and the union announced earlier this week that addressing racial issues and inequality in the country will be a priority during the restarted season. Silver, Roberts and others — including union president Chris Paul of the Oklahoma City Thunder — stressed Friday that those matters will be an extremely critical component of what happens at Disney, both on and off the floor.

While dealing with the plans for pulling off a restarted season and then playing a full post-season during a pandemic, the league and the union have had numerous meetings to discuss options for how to address issues such as the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, the ongoing problem of police brutality and furthering the Black Lives Matter movement.

“We all understand how powerful our voice is,” Paul said. “Even if we’re back to playing, our voice can still be heard … on an unbelievable platform. You’re going to continue to hear us. It’s never a `shut up and dribble’ situation. You’re going to continue to hear us.”

Silver said the NBA sees itself as a key partner to the messages that players want to be seen and heard at Disney during a time of what he called enormous social unrest.

“We may be the most uniquely qualified organization in the world to effect change,” Silver said, noting that the league’s players are some of the best-known Black personalities on the planet.

The NBA suspended its season on March 11 because of the virus. It took the league more than three months just to get to this point, and it would seem very unlikely that once teams get into what the league hopes is a secure environment at Disney, issues such as more positive tests wouldn’t be a factor.

There are countless business reasons to play, with massive revenue streams at stake for players, the league and the NBA’s media partners — Disney included. And Silver acknowledged that even though the league “hasn’t worked through every scenario” regarding the possibility of on-site positive tests at Disney, he believes coming back is the best move.

“Ultimately, whether it’s fighting racism or a pandemic, we’re coming back because sports matter in our society,” Silver said. “They bring people together when we need it the most and they can show how we can balance public health and economic necessity.”

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Tough day for MLB: Price out, Freeman positive, Tanaka hurt – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Steve Megargee, The Associated Press


Published Saturday, July 4, 2020 7:42PM EDT


Last Updated Saturday, July 4, 2020 8:17PM EDT

Freddie Freeman tests positive for COVID-19. Masahiro Tanaka gets hit in the head by a line drive. David Price announces he won’t play this season.

On this Fourth of July, even the return of baseball didn’t offer much cause for celebration.

As teams prepared to start their pandemic-shortened season, sobering examples of the game’s potential danger took place at camps across the country.

Major League Baseball is getting ready for a 60-game season that won’t include Price, a former Cy Young Award winner who was traded from the Boston Red Sox to the Los Angeles Dodgers in February.

“After considerable thought and discussion with my family and the Dodgers, I have decided it is in the best interest of my health and my family’s health for me to not play this season,” the five-time All-Star tweeted Saturday.

“I will miss my teammates and will be cheering for them throughout the season and on to a World Series victory. I’m sorry I won’t be playing for you this year, but look forward to representing you next year,” Price said.

The 34-year-old Price said he was opting out about five hours after Atlanta manager Brian Snitker announced Freeman had tested positive along with Braves pitchers Will Smith and Touki Toussaint as well as infielder Pete Kozma. Snitker said Smith and Toussaint were asymptomatic and noted Kozma had a fever.

Freeman is “not feeling great,” Snitker said.

“It will be a while before we can get him back,” he said of the four-time All-Star first baseman.

It was uncertain whether Freeman would be ready for the start of the season, scheduled for July 23.

The New York Yankees said All-Star infielder DJ LeMahieu and pitcher Luis Cessa tested positive for COVID-19 before travelling to New York and were self-isolating at home. Manager Aaron Boone said LeMahieu was asymptomatic and Cessa had mild symptoms.

Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez and Twins first baseman Miguel Sano also tested positive.

Due to concerns about medical privacy laws, MLB isn’t making a practice of disclosing which players test positive. For example, Baltimore Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said the team doesn’t intend to reveal to the general public if anyone has tested positive. The Pittsburgh Pirates acknowledged there were positive tests within the organization but didn’t get into specifics.

In the Braves’ case, the four players who tested positive permitted Snitker to reveal their names. It’s a move he applauded.

“For me, I think it’s good in the industry and society, to know that this is a real deal,” Snitker said. “This virus is real. It’s nothing to mess with.”

Snitker said Braves first base coach Eric Young Sr. already has opted out due to COVID-19 concerns.

Houston’s Dusty Baker, who at 71 is the oldest MLB manager, added that “I admire Freddie Freeman and his group for coming out saying what the problem is. And hopefully this can get through to other people, other young people.”

Indeed, the news surrounding Freeman offered a reminder to players across the league that anyone is potentially susceptible. Freeman joins Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon as four-time All-Stars who have tested positive.

“It doesn’t matter – age, race, ethnicity, religion,” Milwaukee Brewers star Ryan Braun said. “Nobody is immune from this thing. I think there are constant reminders when you see the amount of athletes who have tested positive, the amount of big-name athletes who have tested positive and you hear some of their stories.”

San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey says he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of sitting out this season, assuming the games are actually played. The six-time All-Star isn’t yet convinced there will even be a season.

“The way I would project it is I wouldn’t be surprised by anything at this point,” Posey said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we played 60 games with no hiccup and I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t play a game at all and I wouldn’t be surprised if we played half the games. That’s just the variability of this to me.”

“I just really think there’s no way we can give a hard line answer one way or another to what this is going to look like a week from now much less two months from now,” he said.

Posey’s comments came one day after three-time AL MVP Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels said he still doesn’t “feel that comfortable” about playing this season with his wife expecting their first child in August. Trout said he is planning to play at this point but that much would depend on how he feels the next couple of weeks.

Texas Rangers outfielder Nick Solak said that “after getting tested, just waiting for the results, there’s a level of anxiety.” He acknowledged that anxiety might subside as the season wears on and players get more accustomed to going through the tests.

The most frightening scene of the day didn’t involve the coronavirus at all.

During the Yankees’ first official summer camp workout, Tanaka got hit in the head by Giancarlo Stanton’s live drive. Tanaka immediately collapsed and stayed own for a few minutes before sitting up and eventually walking off.

The Yankees said in a statement that Tanaka was responsive and walking under his own power. He was sent to New York-Presbyterian Hospital for further evaluation.

That was the scariest moment of baseball’s bizarre and eerie return to the Bronx.

Before they even began their first official workout, Yankees players were startled mid-stretch around when someone set off a firework just outside the ballpark that echoed throughout the empty stadium. Similar bangs went off intermittently throughout the workout.

About 45 minutes after Tanaka was hit, a deafening siren went off in Yankee Stadium, drowning out music playing through the PA system for about 30 seconds. Emergency lights flashed around the stadium for about five minutes, as well.

AP sports writers Dave Ginsburg, Will Graves, Stephen Hawkins, Janie McCauley, Charles Odum, Kristie Rieken, Jake Seiner and Steven Wine contributed to this report.

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Yankees' Tanaka released from hospital after line drive to head – CANOE

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New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, who was hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of teammate Giancarlo Stanton on Saturday, has been released from hospital, the Major League Baseball team said on Saturday.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Tanaka had concussion-like symptoms before leaving for the hospital but they have since dissipated and a CT scan returned negative. Tanaka will have to go through concussion protocol before returning to the field, Boone said.

The incident happened the same day the Yankees announced that infielder DJ LeMahieu and right-hander Luis Cessa have tested positive for COVID-19 and are away from the team.

According to Boone, both players tested positive before arriving to New York and are self-isolating at their homes, outside the state. He said LeMahieu was asymptomatic while Cessa has mild symptoms.

“We are hopeful (their absence) will be a short time but they are not here at this point, so we’ll see how that continues to unfold over the next several days,” Boone said during a virtual news conference with reporters following workouts.

In a terrifying scene during his team’s first official workout since returning from the COVID-19 layoff, the right-handed Japanese pitcher immediately dropped to the ground where he remained for several minutes.

Trainers and teammates rushed to the mound where Tanaka, 31, was tended to. He was then helped to his feet and walked off the field with the assistance of trainers.

“Anytime you see that on a baseball field and then add a layer, that it’s a teammate, I mean that stops you in your tracks and you hope for the best,” said Boone.

Tanaka, who was facing his third batter of the day in the simulated game, was responsive after the incident but was sent to hospital for further evaluation and testing.

After the incident a protective screen was placed in front of the mound before Jordan Montgomery took over pitching duties.

“I was a little timid after seeing that, a little squirrelly,” said Montgomery.

“That’s kind of a freak accident, a one-in-a-million chance of happening. And then it does, it’s terrifying. Especially as a teammate and friend, you don’t want to see anybody hurting.”

Tanaka became the fifth-highest paid MLB pitcher when the prized free agent signed with New York in 2014 following a dominant career with Japan’s Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.

In 2019, Tanaka finished the season with a record of 11-9 in 31 starts with an earned-run average of 4.45.

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The long and the short of Webb Simpson and Bryson DeChambeau – TSN

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They are arguably the two hottest golfers in the game, two players who’ve been fixtures at the top of the leaderboard since the PGA Tour restarted play.

Yet the styles of play of Webb Simpson and Bryson DeChambeau couldn’t be more different. As they head into the weekend at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, they find themselves separated by just a shot at the top of the leaderboard.

In the three and a half tournaments since the tour returned to action, Simpson has a missed cut and a win, the latter coming at the RBC Heritage. He leads the FedEx Cup standings and sits sixth on the Official World Golf Ranking. He also has the lowest scoring average on the PGA Tour at 68.662.

A win or runner-up finish this week would make Simpson the top-ranked American golfer.

His game has been a model of consistency for some time, mind you. The missed cut at the Charles Schwab Challenge was just his second in his last 38 starts.

Last week, he skipped the Travelers Championship after his daughter tested positive for COVID-19, a test that Simpson said later showed to be a false positive. Still, the week at home was a good rest and allowed him to keep his well-tuned swing in shape.

“Coming off Hilton Head feeling like everything in the golf swing was simplified, I felt like there was not a whole lot to work on or improve upon, so it was more just kind of like maintenance work,” he said.

“I’ve tried to become more well-rounded through the bag and I’m seeing results. I’m having fun out there.”

DeChambeau has finished tied for third, tied for eighth and tied for sixth in three tournaments so far. He’s had a legitimate chance to win all of them. His play puts him 12th on the FedEx Cup points list and 10th in the world ranking. He has the third-best scoring average on tour with a mark of 68.822.

Despite the great numbers and results, DeChambeau is far from satisfied with his bulked-up body and how it’s translated into his overall game

“Playing the golf that I want to play, if I was to give myself a grade, and I know people are going to say things about this and people are going to chirp and chime in on what they think, ‘oh, he’s playing unbelievable golf,’ I’d really say it’s B game right now,” stated DeChambeau. “It’s not 100 per cent, but it’s not bad, either. I’m still able to get it in, I’m able to score, which is great, but I still have to refine some things.”

One of those is his wedge play, which lags behind the rest of his game. He sits 104th in Strokes Gained: Around the Green and is 194th in Scrambling from outside 30 yards.

But the big difference in the games of the two players comes at the start and finish of every hole.

DeChambeau and his newfound muscle feature a game built to overpower the golf course, while Simpson’s relies on accuracy and touch.

This week, DeChambeau sits unsurprisingly in top spot in Driving Distance with his longest whallop travelling 377 yards. Simpson is at the opposite end of that statistic, sitting in 89th spot with an average of 293.6.

But in accuracy off the tee, the numbers flip around. Simpson is tied for fourth while DeChambeau is well back in a tie for 93rd. Simpson also has a healthy lead in hitting greens, reaching 32 of 36 so far. DeChambeau has only found 27.

It proves once again that in golf, it doesn’t matter how you do it, just how many strokes it takes to get it done.

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