NEW YORK — Major League Baseball will look somewhat like high school ball this year under protocols to deal with the new coronavirus, with showers at ballparks discouraged and players possibly arriving in uniform, like they did when they were teenagers.
Team personnel will be banned from eating at restaurants on road trips.
Even the Phillie Phantic and Mr. Met will be missing, banned from the field along with all other team mascots.
The traditional exchange of lineup cards would be eliminated, along with high-fives, fist bumps, and bat boys and girls, according to a 67-page draft of Major League Baseball’s proposed 2020 Operations Manual. A copy was sent to teams Friday and obtained by The Associated Press. The guidelines, first reported by The Athletic, are subject to negotiation with the players’ association.
Teams will be allowed to have 50 players each under the plan, with the number active for each game still to be negotiated.
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Spitting is prohibited along with water jugs and the use of saunas, steam rooms, pools and cryotherapy chambers. Hitting in indoor cages is discouraged, batting gloves encouraged.
Batting practice pitchers are to wear masks, dugout telephones disinfected after each use. Players may not touch their face to give signs, and they’re not allowed to lick their fingers. Teams are encouraged to hold meetings outdoors, players spread apart.
Protocols include details on testing for team staff, who are divided into three tiers. All others may not enter clubhouses, dugouts and the field.
Seats in the empty stands near the dugout should be used to maintain distance, according to diagrams in the manual, and the next day’s starting pitcher can’t sit in the dugout. Everyone must keep their distance during “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America.”
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Fielders are “encouraged to retreat several steps away from the baserunner” between pitches. First and third base coaches are not to approach baserunners or umpires, and players should not socialize with opponents.
Managers and coaches must wear masks while in the dugouts. The entire travelling party — including players — must wear personal protective equipment while on buses and flights. Restaurants are off limits on the road, including the ones in hotels, as are hotel fitness centres.
“We emphasize that this is a first draft, and will undergo several rounds of changes as we collect comments and suggestions from the clubs, the players’ association, players, and government officials,” deputy commissioner Dan Halem wrote in an email to owners, team presidents and CEOs, and general managers that accompanied the protocols.
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“The document is designed to set minimum standards and identify best practices, but we have attempted to provide clubs with enough flexibility to achieve the desired health and safety objectives in a manner that is tailored to their particular circumstances, including ballpark configuration, location, and the nature of any local governmental regulations or restrictions,” Halem wrote.
Scoreboard video is prohibited but music allowed. While there won’t be fans, at least not at the start, it will provide a familiar background audio for the telecasts critical to MLB’s bottom line.
A ball will be thrown away after it is touched by multiple players, and throwing the ball around the infield will be discouraged. Personnel who rub baseballs with mud for the umpires must use gloves.
“Individuals must avoid any physical interactions (such as high-fives, fist bumps, or hugs) while at club facilities,” the manual says.
Tier 1 people in the plan include players, managers and coaches plus two each from among physicians, athletics trainers and bullpen catchers plus one strength and conditioning coach.
Tier 2 includes clubhouse staff, additional coaches, medical and training staff, travelling staff, owners, front office, translators, communications staff, video personnel, the head groundskeeper and security plus players’ union and MLB staff along with contractors.
Tier 3 covers broadcast personnel and other event services.
Players must wear masks while in restricted areas “except while on the field or engaging in other strenuous activities” and lockers must have at least 6 feet between them. If needed, temporary clubhouse space will be added, preferably outdoors or areas with better ventilation.
“Showering in club facilities should be discouraged,” the plan says. “To the extent showering occurs, clubs should explore modifications to facilities to allow for physical distancing and hygiene” such as installing partitions and limiting the number of players using the showers at the same time.
Teams “should consider requiring (on-field staff) to arrive at club facilities dressed for the day’s activities in order to limit time spent in the clubhouse or locker room.”
Only medical personnel allowed near injured players.
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There will be staggered reporting dates for the resumption of spring training. When pitchers and catchers arrive, only five players may work out at a time. Then come full team workouts, with small groups encouraged but not required, followed by exhibition games. There will be intake screening upon arrival followed a self-quarantine for 24-48 hours until results are available. Players not assigned to big league team when the season starts will remain at spring training or another separate facility.
All games at spring training facilities in Florida and Arizona, whether exhibition or regular season, must be scheduled for 7-9 p.m. local time unless MLB gives specific consent.
A fifth umpire would be allowed when the temperature reaches a certain level, allowing for rotation, including sharing of plate umpire duties, Teams should take batting practice on back fields.
Among the road trip changes:
- Use of Uber, subways and public buses is banned.
- Private airports encouraged and if not available, teams are to use private aviation facilities to board and exit.
- Transportation Security Administration screen should take place at ballparks if it can be arranged.
- In-flight catering is limited.
- Lower floors are to be used if possible at hotels, so stairs can be used instead of elevators, and private areas arranged for entrances, exits and check-in.
- Six staggered bus trips will be scheduled to and from the ballpark.
Team staff, including players, will be given thermometers for self screening and are to take two tests in quick succession each morning.
At the ballpark, people will be given temperature checks twice a day and multiple fluid swabs each week. Comprehensive Drug Testing will collect samples and Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Salt Lake City is to provide results within 24 hours.
Family members of players, umpires and the households of anyone covered under the plan will be offered access to testing and PPE. The individuals are encouraged to avoid crowd when away from ballpark.
Anyone with a temperature of 100 or higher or who exhibits COVID-19 symptoms or has come in contact with someone confirmed to be infected will be subject to rapid testing at a nearby site. A person cannot rejoin the team until testing negative twice in tests taken at least 24 hours apart. The person also must not exhibit symptoms or COVID-19, and the team physician and MLB medical staff must determine the person not at risk.
If an individual is exposed to a person with an infection, that person must show no signs of disease, be tested daily for at least seven consecutive days and undergo more frequent temperature checks. The person also must wear a mask at all times except while on the field.
Each spring training and regular season ballpark must have dedicated testing and isolation areas. MLB also will offer testing of people who live in same household as covered individuals and to health care workers/first responders in big league cities.
Most tests will take saliva but there may be oral or nasal swabs. Blood samples will be collected less frequently for serology testing used to detect antibodies.
© 2020 The Canadian Press
Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl, Alphonso Davies share bond in pursuit of history – Sportsnet.ca
EDMONTON — Different, but the same.
The Davies’ arrived in Edmonton 15 years ago with next to nothing, Alphonso and his brother receiving their first bikes and soccer balls from an Edmonton charity called Sport Central. Draisaitl, meanwhile was the son of German hockey royalty, though he admits, “Germany just isn’t a big hockey country. That’s how it is.”
Today, Draisaitl is the Art Ross Trophy winner, the first German to become a scoring champion in an international league. Meanwhile Davies is in Deutchland, playing for Bayern Munich and fast becoming the best left back in the Bundesliga, if not the world.
“It’s funny,” Draisaitl said on a Friday Zoom call. “I actually talked to him today over the phone.”
The African kid with dazzling feet met the Cologne kid with 100-point hands when Davies dropped a puck at an Oilers game over the winter. He rolled in for the morning skate, and the two exchanged numbers.
“We stay in touch,” said Draisaitl, bedecked in a ball cap sporting the ‘K’ of his hometown soccer team (Koln). “I guess I kind of know what he’s going through right now, with soccer being so big back home, and hockey being so big in Canada. Coming over and trying to adjust. Find your rhythm, find your game… find your life a little bit, I guess.
“He’s becoming a very, very good player, he’s fun to watch and it’s fun to see.”
It will be fascinating to watch these two ascend in their sports, as both appear destined for a place not just near the top. But at the top, where only the very best players reside.
You’re rolling your eyes? Read on:
Draisaitl was the only 100-point player in the NHL this season, and as such, the only NHL player to have back-to-back 100-point seasons. Only Alex Ovechkin (99 goals) has more than Draisaitl’s 93 goals in the past two seasons.
Draisaitl is still 24, remember, with two 100-point seasons and one 50-goal season under his belt. He is in his fifth full NHL season.
Jarome Iginla played 21 seasons — more than 1,500 games — and is a walk-in, first ballot Hall of Famer in these eyes. He had two 50-goal seasons, but never scored 100 points.
Mats Sundin, a lanky, smooth centreman like Draisaitl: Never scored 50, had one 100-point season.
The Sedins brothers: One 100-point season each — neither scored 50.
Same for Daniel Alfredsson.
The great Saku Koivu? A career-high 75 points in 2006-07.
Young Mark Scheifele, a Team Canada shoe-in at the next international tournament, hasn’t had a 90-point season yet.
Draisaitl will turn 25 on Oct. 27, maybe later this season, perhaps early next. He’s is just now entering his prime, with an early scoring resume that many Hall of Famers already can’t touch.
“You know, when you come to numbers like this, there are always people who help you get there,” he said. “You dream of these things, no question. But until you do it, it seems so far away. I’m proud, in a way, but I still have lots of things to work on. It’s the cliché: There are many things in my game I can improve.”
We’ve said many times that Draisaitl has become what Evgeni Malkin is to Sidney Crosby for Connor McDavid. And as the Oilers furnish their two superstar centremen with enough wingers to consistently deploy them on separate lines, Draisaitl has found a way to be the power play shooter that McDavid needs him to be, and the puck-trading centreman Ryan Nugent-Hopkins requires. He was en route to a career year before the pause.
Along the way, Draisaitl has helped to solve a riddle that has puzzled this organization since they drafted Taylor Hall a decade ago. He has grown into a leader, a quality the Oilers no longer need to import from outside.
“When you’re young there’s not much for you to say,” Draisaitl said. “First of all, your play on the ice doesn’t have as big of an impact as it does now, at 24 years old and being in the league for a while. You change as a player, you change as a person a little bit… It’s been great to stick around the same group of guys for so many years now. Watching them grow, watching the team, the organization grow.”
McDavid is growing into his captaincy, the way his role on the Return to Play Committee helps him mature in his role as one of the faces of the game. Darnell Nurse is a leader here, a kid who grew up around athletes and has the DNA that it may take to finally resurrect this franchise as a winner.
If the NHL is the best league in the world, then the Oilers have two of the Top 10 players in the world in Draisaitl and McDavid. There is no reason, no excuse, why the Stanley Cup should not return to Edmonton in the near future.
“It’s definitely a lot of fun to be a part of,” Draisaitl said. “We still have a lot of upside as a team, and it’s fun to go through that, essentially with the same guys you started with.”
Report: NBA owners expected to approve Orlando restart with 20-22 teams – theScore
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The NBA’s board of governors is expected to approve commissioner Adam Silver’s recommendation to resume the 2019-20 season in Orlando in a vote scheduled for June 4, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne.
A 22-team format is gaining support among the board’s members, who are also considering a 20-team proposal, Wojnarowski and Shelburne report.
The recommendation lines up one of the proposals Silver and the board reportedly discussed during a Friday conference call; under that proposed format, teams within six games of a playoff berth would continue to play regular-season games, with a play-in tournament determining the final postseason field.
Six teams outside the playoff picture were within six games of a berth when the league announced a hiatus on March 11 due to COVID-19: the Portland Trail Blazers (3.5 games behind), New Orleans Pelicans (3.5), Sacramento Kings (3.5), San Antonio Spurs (four), and Phoenix Suns (six) in the Western Conference, and the Washington Wizards (5.5) in the East.
Targeting July 31 as the date for the NBA’s return to action was also reportedly discussed during Friday’s call.
Dr. Bonnie Henry open to special arrangement for NHL teams visiting BC | Offside – Daily Hive
After firmly stating that British Columbia wouldn’t “bend the rules” for NHL teams earlier in the week, in the event that Vancouver was chosen as a hub city, Dr. Bonnie Henry has clarified things.
The BC Provincial Health Officer noted that a different arrangement could be made for visiting NHL teams, allowing them to quarantine as a group, rather than in self-isolation. Her comments echo what Alberta’s top doctor said one day prior.
“We certainly have been talking about how it could be done safely in British Columbia as well,” said Dr. Henry. “The bottom line is I have not seen any proposal, certainly not any written proposal from the NHL about how this could propose to be worked. So it’s hard to respond to what we think they might be thinking.
“But I do see how we could potentially have small numbers of people cohort together and in self isolation, for example in a hotel and management monitoring regularly. And I know if anybody could do that, then the NHL is probably set up to do it. So I can see how we could have something like that work in British Columbia as well.”
Canada’s mandatory 14-day self-isolation quarantine rule is a problem for the NHL, as the league doesn’t want to stunt the fitness of some its players prior to restarting their season. If a different arrangement isn’t made for the NHL, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly indicated that the league would not select a hub city in Canada. Vancouver, Edmonton, and Toronto are currently on the NHL’s shortlist, along with seven cities in the United States.
NHL teams are expected to operate in a figurative bubble, with an arena, practice facility, and hotel blocked off from the public. Commissioner Gary Bettman has said the league would need an “unbelievable amount of testing” for its players, but noted that it would not want to disrupt local medical needs.
Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl, Alphonso Davies share bond in pursuit of history – Sportsnet.ca
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