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PLAY BALL IN PITTSBURGH: Blue Jays land home away from home for 2020 – Toronto Sun

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The Blue Jays have firmed up plans for their summer retreat not far from the banks of the Allegheny River.

Late Tuesday, a source close to the negotiations said that the displaced Major League Baseball team would make Pittsburgh home for the majority of its 30-game home schedule in the abbreviated 2020 season.

As first reported by the Toronto Sun, the Jays will share lovely PNC Park with the National League’s Pittsburgh Pirates, creating what looks like a seamless solution for the homeless ball club.

The Jays were forced to go stadium hunting after the Canadian government denied the team’s request to host regular season games at Toronto’s Rogers Centre.

Sportsnet’s Hazel Mae was the first to confirm that the deal is done, reporting late Tuesday that the Jays were informed by MLB that PNC Park will be available to them, paving the way to work out the remaining logistics.

It is believed there are still some details to be finalized, but with the season due to begin on Thursday, there was an urgency to have the Jays situation resolved as soon as possible. Toronto opens the 60-game campaign in St. Pete, Fla. on Friday and will likely have an extended road trip because of the stadium situation and the need for temporary renovations to accommodate them at PNC Park.

While the schedule has yet to be finalized, there are some easy and logical tweaks that can be made at the start to address conflicting home dates between the Jays and Pirates. The Jays first “home” game action is scheduled to be a July 29-30 series against the World Series champion Washington Nationals. The Pirates are in Pittsburgh for those dates, but given that the Jays will already be in D.C. for games on July 27-28, both teams will likely remain in Washington with the Jays batting last in the second two games.

It remains to be seen how long it will take to make renovations to accommodate the Jays at PNC Park, leaving the possibility that Toronto’s next three home dates against the Phillies on July 31 through Aug. 2 could be played in Philadelphia.

If the schedule evolves that way, the Jays era in Pittsburgh would begin on Aug. 11 against the Marlins.

Landing PNC Park is as close to an ideal scenario as could be imagined for the Jays. Once the team was banished from Toronto because of the Canadian government’s understandable reluctance to allow frequent border crossing by multiple teams, Jays president Mark Shapiro was committed to finding a MLB stadium to share.

From players, to coaches, to the front office, the Jays felt they would be at a distinct competitive disadvantage if they were forced to play at Buffalo’s Sahlen Field, home of their Triple A affiliate Bisons. That belief was shared at least in part by MLB and the players association, not just from the Jays perspective but from that of their opponents.

Though other alternatives were considered, almost immediately after the federal government announced its decision this past Saturday, Pittsburgh became the frontrunner based on the teams’ respective schedules and their reluctance to settle on Buffalo. There are only seven conflicting home dates, which will be among the details to be worked out before the arrangement is officially announced.

The PNC Park option picked up steam on Monday when Pirates president Travis Williams said the team would welcome a shared arrangement with the Jays for the good of baseball. There will be logistics to overcome in the interim, but with no fans attending games this summer, there will be plenty of room at PNC Park, one of the most scenic stadiums in baseball, to accommodate both teams.

An MLB source said that details of the Jays tenure in Pittsburgh — as well as the schedule — are expected to be announced by Thursday, if not sooner.

rlongley@postmedia.com

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Kyle Lowry Signs With Miami Heat Leaves Toronto – HYPEBEAST

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Kyle Lowry is bidding farewell to the city of Toronto after nine years to join the Miami Heat. For many years, Lowry has been the face of the Toronto Raptors, bringing in an immeasurable impact to not only the franchise but the Canadian community worldwide.

It is hard to quantify Lowry’s effect on the team, the city and the country but Lowry did definitely had a hand in shifting the franchise from being an underdog to an NBA champion. As Lowry departs the Raptors for South Beach, fans are possibly calling him the greatest player of the Canadian NBA franchise. Lowry holds the most assists (4,277), steals (873), three-pointers (1,518) and triple-doubles (18) in Raptors history.

Lowry is set to join the Miami Heat in free agency and is expected to sign a three-year sign-and-trade deal with the Toronto Raptors. Sources have reported that Lowry prefers a three-year deal with no options. The specific terms of the deal have yet to be announced, but Lowry took to Instagram and Twitter to seemingly confirm his move to Miami.

The 35-year-old NBA veteran averaged 17.2 points, 7.3 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game last season. His move to Miami will give him the opportunity to play with Heat’s star Jimmy Butler.

In other sports news, Simone Biles announced she is competing in the balance beam event at the Tokyo Olympics.


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Kyle Lowry joining Heat after nine seasons with Raptors – Sportsnet.ca

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TORONTO — Raptors star guard Kyle Lowry is headed to the Miami Heat.

Lowry put out a social media post to his more than 907,000 Twitter followers saying “Miami Heat X Kyle Lowry” and “Let’s Goo!!” followed by five fire emojis.

The post came less than 45 minutes after free agency officially kicked off Monday at 6 p.m. ET. Deals will not be considered official until noon Friday, with the Raptors saying they would have nothing to say until then.

Citing a source, The Associated Press reported Lowry had agreed to a three-year deal worth an estimated US$90 million in a sign-and-trade with Toronto that will send veteran point guard Goran Dragic and power forward Precious Achiuwa to the Raptors. There was no immediate word whether those players will stick in Toronto or head elsewhere in another thread to the deal.

A 15-year NBA veteran, the 35-year-old Lowry has spent the last nine seasons as a Raptor.

Miami, New Orleans, Dallas, the New York Knicks and Philadelphia had been seen as possible suitors come free agency. The debate over Lowry’s future had started prior to the trade deadline but he remained a Raptor, finishing out a difficult 27-45 season played in Tampa due to pandemic-related travel restrictions.

Lowry was seen as a key player in the free-agent guard sweepstakes, one of the first dominoes to drop and set the stage for future signings.

Several outlets reported that guard/forward Gary Trent Jr., is remaining with the Raptors after agreeing to a $54-million, three-year deal, with the third year a player option. The 22-year-old restricted free agent came to Toronto at the trade deadline in the deal that sent Norm Powell to Portland.

With Lowry’s contract expiring, it was the long goodbye for the star guard. In February, there were reports Lowry — who was in Tampa with the rest of the Raptors due to pandemic-relayed travel restrictions — had put his Toronto home on the market.

Then the March 25 trade deadline came and went.

As free agency approached, the Heat appeared to be making moves to pave the way to acquire Lowry in a sign-and-trade. They picked up the option on Dragic’s $19.4-million contract for the 2021-2022 season, which would help to make the numbers work in a deal.

Lowry is also said to be close to Heat star Jimmy Butler, who reportedly was nearing a contract extension with Miami.

“To be honest with you, my family will be a major factor in this,” Lowry said in his end-of-season media meeting in May, when asked about what will shape his decision on what’s next. “And also money talks and years talk and all that stuff. Let’s be real.

“I play this game for the love for the game. But at the end of the day I want to make sure my family is still taken care of for generations and for time to come. Even though they are now, I want to continue to be able to do that for my family.”

But the six-time all-star made it clear he is not ready to walk away from the game.

“Until that time comes, I still have a lot more to give, I have a ton of basketball left in me,” he said.

He also made it clear he wanted to play for a contender.

“I want championships, That’s always been the goal. Money comes with that and you get paid, but championships are a big key into why I play this game,” he said.

The Raptors will look to Fred VanVleet to take over as floor general.

Toronto drafted guard Malachi Flynn in the first round (29th overall) of the 2020 draft and last week took Canadian Dalano Banton (Nebraska, 46th) and fellow guard David Johnson (Louisville, 47th).

Lowry became the face of the Toronto franchise, a gritty combative guard who helped lead the team to the promised land in 2019 when it dispatched the Golden State Warriors in six games. He has made a career out of proving people wrong.

“I enjoy the challenge of people counting me out, counting the team out,” he said in May.

Scotiabank Arena became Lowry’s house. His two young sons were often in the Raptors dressing room, playing video games or just hanging out with dad.

On the court, Lowry was the Raptors’ conductor.

He averaged 17.2 points and 7.3 assists a game last season, when he was restricted to 46 games due to injury. Toronto finished out of the playoffs, in 12th spot in the East.

Listed at six foot and 196 pounds, Lowry makes his living in a land of giants. And he is willing to put his body on the line, with a league-leading 166 charges taken over the last five seasons.

Lowry was acquired by Toronto in a July 2012 trade with Houston that sent Gary Forbes and a protected future first-round draft pick (the Rockets eventually moved to the pick to Oklahoma City which used it to select centre Steven Adams) the other way.

“We feel we’ve added a solid starting-calibre point guard to our team who will bring toughness, grit and playmaking at a very important position,” then-Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo said at the time. “At (26 years old), I would say Kyle represents what I would characterize as the future of the position.”

He was selected in the first round (24th overall) by Memphis in the 2006 NBA draft. Three years later he was dealt to Houston in a three-team trade that also involved Orlando.

Lowry is Toronto’s franchise leader in triple-doubles (16), three-points goals (1,518), assists (4,277) and steals (873). And with 10,540 points, he ranks second to good friend DeMar DeRozan (13,296) in the Raptors record book.

With 601 games and 20,813 minutes played in Toronto colours, Lowry is also second to DeRozan.

In January 2019, he added to his legacy by joining a select group with 5,000 career assists. Lowry found Serge Ibaka on a pick-and-roll and the big man beat Deandre Ayton to the hoop for a dunk in a 111-109 win over the Phoenix Suns.

“He’s been in the league a long time and he’s had the ball in his hands and got it to a lot of people,” Toronto coach Nick Nurse said at the time.” Since I came here five-and-a-half years ago, it was the first thing I noticed — how he’d find the right guys to get the ball to. He really commands the offence and knows where to get it.”

Lowry’s pay was $30.5 million last season. According to HoopsHype, the Villanova University product has earned more than $190 million over his playing career.

Lowry is the latest member of the Raptors’ 2019 championship team to leave the fold. Kawhi Leonard, Marc Gasol, Danny Green, Norm Powell and Ibaka are among those who have already moved on.

Toronto Mayor John Tory paid tribute to Lowry, calling him “the greatest Raptor of all time.”

“He showed our city who we want to be. The fighter. The leader,” Tory said in a statement. “The player who’s got your back and leads the charge. Who takes the charge. Who falls down and gets back up. Again and again.”

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Olympic high jumpers overcome with emotion after sharing gold medal – Yahoo Canada Sports

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This is what the Olympics are all about. (Photo by Elif Ozturk Ozgoncu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

All Olympic athletes arrive at the Games with aspirations to perform their best and hopefully bring home some hardware.

In addition to fierce competition, however, the Olympics are a great platform to show the world the importance of sportsmanship.

On Day 9 of the Tokyo Games, fair play was on full display in the men’s high jump final between Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi.

Clearing 2.37m, both competitors successfully arrived at the 2.39m jump without any failed attempts. After Barshim and Tamberi fell short of making the jump three times apiece, an Olympic official approached the two, pitching that they compete in a jump-off to determine the winner.

What happened next, though, was truly a lasting moment of the 2020 Games.

“Can we have two gold?” Barshim asked.

The official green-lighted the request, which sent Barshim and Tamberi into pure euphoria.

“I look at him, he looks at me, and we know it. We just look at each other and we know, that is it, it is done. There is no need,” Barshim said, according to CBC.

“He is one of my best friends, not only on the track, but outside the track. We work together. This is a dream come true. It is the true spirit, the sportsman spirit, and we are here delivering this message.”

What an amazing moment between two athletes at the absolute peak of their sport.

Belarussian Maksim Nedasekau, who also cleared 2.37, took home bronze via the countback.

The win marked the first gold medals for Barshim and Tamberi at the Olympics, and it created a moment that will last a lifetime.

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