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Postponement of Blue Jays-Phillies series due to MLB’s new attrition –



TORONTO – Every day brings about another redefinition of attrition in baseball amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with positive tests and scheduled games lost replacing the usual rhythm of player-injury-to-roster-move churn.

The postponement of the Toronto Blue Jays’ weekend series in Philadelphia after the Phillies, exposed to the outbreak-struck Miami Marlins last weekend, came up with two novel coronavirus cases Thursday, is the latest bit of chaos for a sport increasingly winging its path forward.

For those counting, the Phillies and Marlins now both have at least seven games to make up, with the Blue Jays three behind, which would be problematic under normal circumstances, but all the more so in a 60-game season shoehorned into 67 days.

The Blue Jays and Phillies, for instance, have just two off-days in common, on Aug. 20 and Sept. 14, although they are due to play again Sept. 18-20 at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, N.Y. Making up for this weekend means a lot of doubleheaders in a compressed time frame, which is why seven-inning twin-bills are coming, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

First, though, the Phillies need to get back on the field, something MLB “will co-ordinate with health experts and the Major League Baseball Players Association,” it said in a release. Any reputable health expert is sure to recommend a 14-day isolation period for both the Phillies and Marlins to cover the virus’ incubation period, which would only further expand the fallout.

Meanwhile, both the Blue Jays and Washington Nationals, who won 6-4 Thursday in the final meeting between the teams this season, will spend the weekend in D.C. working out at Nationals Stadium. The notion of adjusting the schedule for them to play each other didn’t gain traction because of balance concerns.

All of it is gross before you even consider the health ramifications, including the oft-ignored matter of whether disease is being vectored by baseball into the general public. Between integrity of the schedule, competitive fairness and the legitimacy of results, each improvisation brings about a new set of questions moving forward.

“It is a lot of uncertainty,” Blue Jays reliever Jordan Romano said of his team’s predicament, a statement that applies league-wide, too.

Still, Major League Baseball is determined to bulldoze its way to the pot of gold waiting on the bridge from the regular season to the playoffs with the same stubborn constancy that’s a badge of honour in the usual 162-game grind.

Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo dropped the usual bromides about staying positive amid trying circumstances “because negative stuff doesn’t help anybody,” and while he’s not wrong, there’s a difference between complaining and acknowledging pandemic realities.

Trying to play a season while remaining within the general population of a country in which COVID-19 is spreading at an alarming pace increasingly looks like a recipe for disaster. May’s hopeful vision can’t be executed in July’s dire circumstances.

“I don’t know. Because I don’t know how the other teams are,” Montoyo replied when asked if he questioned whether the season is still a good idea. “I don’t want to go that far because I don’t want to speculate. I know we’re following the guidelines and hey, it could happen to any team at any time, as you can tell. We’re going to keep playing, we’re going to be ready to play until they say we can’t play.”

At this point, the Blue Jays know they can’t play this weekend, and they’ll fly Sunday night to prepare for their next action Tuesday in Atlanta, another COVID-19 hot-spot. Typically teams plan in chunks of the season, but that’s not happening now.

“I was ready for the Phillies, we had everything ready, matchups and that’s not going to happen now,” said Montoyo. “The main thing to do is to go day-to-day and make sure Saturday and Sunday we have live BPs to try and keep guys sharp for Atlanta. That’s our game-plan for now.”

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The Blue Jays took the field Thursday knowing only that they were no longer taking a bus afterwards to Philadelphia, where several players expected to reconnect with family.

Even that simple act is a production, as loved ones seeking to meet up with players must first produce a negative test, said Montoyo. Travis Shaw, away from the team for a family matter, was also to rejoin the team in Philadelphia, but now he too must wait for a decision on where to go next, not to mention test negative twice before re-entering the team’s loose bubble.

Major League Baseball is expected to implement further changes to the health and safety guidelines governing clubs, including adding a compliance officer to each team and mandating isolation at hotels on the road.

Montoyo was all for the former, saying that was one less thing for the coaching staff to worry about, and said while he expects the latter to arrive, his Blue Jays already do that.

“It’s a hard situation,” said outfielder Teoscar Hernandez, who hit two homers Thursday. “I try to stay in my room, not going out, not just for me but for my teammates and for me team.”

The Phillies, who like the Blue Jays had an outbreak at their spring facility at the end of June, were careful, too, but that’s obviously not enough.

Major League Baseball has sought to paint the Marlins’ outbreak as a Marlins problem — easily corrected with better behaviour. It’s not. Really, it’s a math problem, a matter of probabilities which outside a bubble contains too many uncontrollable variables.

Barring a substantive change to how the season is being staged, the new attrition is a fact of life everyone is signing up for.

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Mixed Martial Arts-Door is open for YouTube’s Paul brothers in MMA



Logan and Jake Paul would make great Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters, Bellator president Scott Coker has said as he targets exhibition matches featuring the YouTube personalities such as the former’s boxing bout against Floyd Mayweather.

Logan Paul went the distance, surviving eight rounds against unbeaten (50-0) five-division world boxing champion Mayweather in an exhibition on Sunday at Miami’s Hard Rock stadium.

USA Today reported the fight brought in one million pay per view buys with $50 million generated from sales in the United States.

It was only the second fight of Paul’s career, while his brother Jake has fought in three professional boxing matches, beating former MMA fighter Ben Askren in April.

Critics have labelled the bouts a sideshow due to the lack of sporting credibility of the duo, who made their names as social media personalities and have millions of subscribers on YouTube.

However, Coker told Reuters the brothers have impressive physiques and the door is open for them to move into MMA.

“I met with Logan Paul about two years ago and I’ve spoken to Jake Paul’s manager and Jake on a zoom call recently… The one thing I said was hey, if you want to do MMA we would love to promote you guys,” the 58-year-old said in a Zoom interview.

“These guys are young, athletic, strong and you saw the fight on Sunday night these guys they came and did their work.

“Mayweather couldn’t finish him and I know he tried, I heard he wanted to knock this kid out so bad,” he added.

“When I heard both had high school wrestling backgrounds in Ohio, which is a prominent wrestling state in the U.S., it really made me interested in pursuing them in some super fights in Mixed Martial Arts – and that door is continually open.”


Bellator, owned by Viacom, is gearing up for a busy month of events, starting with Bellator 260 on Friday with the headline fight between reigning welterweight world champion Douglas Lima and the undefeated Yaroslav Amosov.

However, super fights and exhibitions are where Coker is targeting a younger audience.

“My 14-year-old niece, I told her I was going to the Logan Paul fight and she thought that was the greatest thing,” he said.

“She asked me who he was fighting and I said Floyd Mayweather and she said ‘who’s that?’ – I thought wow, she doesn’t know boxing, she doesn’t know MMA, she’s just a 14-year-old girl on the internet doing what they do.”

As the sporting world gears up for the delayed Tokyo Olympics starting in July, Coker believes MMA will feature in future Games.

“When you think about mixed martial arts, what you’re talking about is boxing, wrestling, judo, taekwondo, karate – those are all Olympic sports,” he said.

“Why wouldn’t mixed martial arts eventually get into the Olympics because six out of the seven disciplines MMA is known to use really is already there.

“There’d be a lot of details to work out but to me I think it will happen, it’s just a matter of time.”


(Reporting by Christian Radnedge,; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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Montreal will host the 2024 world figure skating championships



Montreal will host the 2024 world figure skating championships, the International Skating Union (ISU) said on Wednesday, after the 2020 event Canada was to host was cancelled due to COVID-19.

The championships will return to Montreal from March 18-24, marking the 11th time Canada has staged the event.

“Skate Canada has a proven track record of holding successful ISU events and we are looking forward to bringing the world’s best skaters to the fantastic Canadian city of Montreal,” said Debra Armstrong, CEO of Skate Canada, in a statement.


(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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Andreescu splits with coach Bruneau after French Open exit



World number seven Bianca Andreescu on Tuesday announced she has split with longtime coach Sylvain Bruneau, a week after falling in the first round of the French Open.

The pair had worked together for four years as Andreescu made her breakthrough with three titles in 2019, including the U.S. Open.

“It is with a heavy heart that I would like to inform my fans that my long time coach, mentor and friend, Sylvain and I, have mutually decided to end our incredible coaching relationship,” Canadian Andreescu wrote on Twitter

“Our friendship will live forever … I am very grateful for everything we accomplished together and all of our great memories.

“Sylvain was more than a coach… he is family.”

Andreescu, 20, returned to action at this year’s Australian Open, having missed 15 months due to a knee injury.

A positive COVID-19 test subsequently ruled Andreescu out of both Madrid and Rome before an abdominal injury forced her to pull out of Strasbourg at the quarter-final stage.

Her most recent appearance at Roland Garros ended with a 6-7(1) 7-6(2) 9-7 defeat by Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek.


(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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