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Val Sweeting finally breaks through at Scotties after so much heartbreak – TSN

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MOOSE JAW, Sask. – It took some extra drama, but Val Sweeting has finally reached the top of the Canadian curling mountain.

The vice for Kerri Einarson’s Manitoba rink captured her first Scotties Tournament of Hearts championship Sunday night with an 8-7 extra ends victory over Rachel Homan’s Ontario foursome.

“I’ve had quite a few heartbreaking final losses, so I definitely needed that,” an emotional Sweeting said after the game. “It’s hard to get back up, but we did and got back to that final.

“I’m so proud of us.”

Sweeting on finally winning Scotties: ‘I’m so proud of us’

After a few years of experiencing heartbreak at the Scotties, Team Manitoba third Val Sweeting spoke about how much it means to finally be able to win the Scotties and represent Team Canada.

Einarson, who also won her first Scotties on Sunday after dropping the 2018 final to Jennifer Jones in Penticton, B.C., says she couldn’t be happier for Sweeting.

“Val is such a wonderful player. So smart and talented. Her and I together, I think work really well,” said Einarson. “We’ve come a long way. We really focused on the little things that matter.”

The 32-year-old Sweeting has had her fair share of heartbreak at the Canadian championship in the past. Sweeting skipped Alberta to back-to-back national finals in 2014 and 2015, losing both times to Homan and Jones respectively, with the latter final happening right here at Mosaic Place. Those Moose Jaw Scotties were the last Sweeting competed in until this week.

Sweeting lost in the next two Alberta provincial finals (2016 and 2017) before dropping the page playoff 3 vs. 4 game in 2018. Her heartbreak wasn’t restricted to just traditional curling either. Sweeting and teammate Brad Gushue made it all the way to the 2018 Canadian Olympic Mixed Double trials finals before losing to John Morris and Kaitlyn Lawes. That tandem would go on to win the first ever gold medal in that discipline in Pyeongchang, South Korea a few months later.

“It was heartbreaking for sure. I didn’t know how many times I could get back up,” said Sweeting of all those losses. “It just shows that you have to and I’m so honoured to get that Maple Leaf.”

At one point Sunday it seemed it was going down the same nightmarish route once again.

Manitoba held a four-point lead with two ends to play. Homan put up a deuce in the ninth before Einarson was heavy on her last throw in the 10th, giving Ontario a steal of two and a tie game.

Sweeting says she didn’t let her mind go to a dark place.

“Maybe for a second,” said Sweeting, who shot 83 per cent in the final. “I just thought ‘oh that sucks.’ I knew that we would regroup and have a really strong 11 and ultimately just leave the skip the four-foot. Kerri played amazing all week. Especially through playoffs and our last games.”

Einarson executed on a similar shot in the 11th end to win the Canadian title.

Einarson ‘so incredibly proud’ of her teammates

Team Manitoba skip Kerri Einarson couldn’t stop praising her teammates following her Scotties win and spoke about her winning shot that secured the victory.

“What an emotional roller coaster,” said Einarson. “This is so amazing. I’m so incredibly proud of my teammates and they played so well all week. If it wasn’t for them I don’t know where I’d be today.”

Shannon Birchard, the second on the team, said they won this one for Sweeting and their skipper.

“We said before the game ‘we’re doing these for Val and we’re doing this for Kerri,’” said Birchard, who was on that Jones’ 2018 Scotties team as a replacement for Lawes. “For those two, losing the national final, it must have been heartbreaking. We just really wanted to do it for them this week.”

Sweeting’s first national championship came in her home province as she was born in Redvers, Sask., and has lived in Edmonton for many years as the team’s lone out-of-province curler. Sweeting says she could feel the support from multiple parts of Canada despite wearing the buffalo.

“Although I had the Manitoba logo on, I felt like I was representing everybody and I felt that support from everybody,” she said.

This rink out of the Gimli Curling Club made headlines when they formed prior to last season as Einarson, Sweeting, Birchard and lead Briane Meilleur were all skips of their own teams prior to coming together.

Birchard and Meilleur weren’t major contenders on the elite curling level circuit, so their moves weren’t shockers, but Sweeting’s swap to the third position was surprising. Could all these skips work together? Were there too many cooks in the kitchen?

“I think we all really owned our positions,” said Sweeting. “We really bought in and learned what we needed to do in each of our roles.”

In their first campaign together 2018-19, Team Einarson won multiple times on the World Curling Tour, but lost to Team Tracy Fleury in the Manitoba final and then lost the Scotties Wild Card game to Team Casey Scheidegger in Sydney, N.S. A good first season, but Sweeting knew they could reach another level.

Birchard on sacrifices made by ‘four skips’ to come together for Manitoba

Team Manitoba second Shannon Birchard spoke about what sacrifices each member of the team made to join together, especially given the experience each curler brought to the table.

“I think we really identified a lot of little things this season that we wanted to work on and I think we just owned them,” she said.

Birchard says all four teammates having a skip mentality can be an advantage.

“I know that Briane and I are always thinking about strategy. We’re always keeping everything in check and Val as well. It just helps. It’s definitely a team effort out there,” explained Birchard.

Now, Team Einarson will trade in the yellow and black for red and white as they will represent Canada at the world women’s curling championships next month in Prince George, B.C.

“We’ve got some work to do,” said Sweeting. “There’s so many good teams there and we’ll draw on players who have had experiences there and good coaching. We’ll just work really hard and do everything we can to bring a medal back to Canada.”

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Report: NBA eyeing rapid COVID-19 testing – TSN

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According to ESPN’s Baxter Holmes, the NBA and NBAPA are looking into the viability of devices that could test and provide accurate results for the COVID-19 virus within minutes as the league and players attempt to get back to action as soon as possible.

The multiple blood-testing devices are reportedly similar to what diabetics use on a daily basis. After a prick of a finger, accurate results could be delivered within 15 minutes.

The tests have been approved by the FDA and Illinois-based Abbott Laboratories began shipping its tests across the United States last week, according to the Washington Post.

League sources have said the rapid-testing devices are still only in an “exploratory phase,” reports Holmes.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Monday night that he doesn’t expect a decision to be made regarding the possible resumption of the 2019-20 season until at least May.

“Essentially, what I’ve told my folks over the last week is that we just should just accept that, at least for the month of April, we won’t be in a position to make any decisions,” Silver said. “And I don’t think that necessarily means on May 1 we will be.”

One anonymous NBA general manager told Holmes that the devices would be “key” to a return to sports and everything else.

“Rapid testing results are key to return to work, return to sports, everything,” the GM said. “Whatever job you have and environment you work in, if you’re interacting with people, we’re all going to have to feel safe doing that. Sports isn’t any different.”

Even if the devices are approved and become readily available, questions remain where the NBA lies on the priority list.

“We are going to be clearly second in line to healthcare workers, transportation workers, public workers, things along those lines,” said a NBA head athletic trainer.

The NBA suspended its season on March 11 after two members of the Utah Jazz tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

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Blue Jays: What happens now with Mark Shapiro’s contract? – Jays Journal

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Mark Shapiro, the President and CEO of the Blue Jays, is only under contract until the end of the 2020 season. What happens now for him in Toronto?

There will be a lot of complicated variables for MLB executives to navigate over the coming weeks and even months, and I imagine things will be very much in limbo until we have some answers about the future of baseball in 2020.

That’s the unfortunate reality for the players, the fans, and for the front offices across the game, but there could be another interesting factor to deal with at some point this year. The Blue Jays were set to enter the season with Mark Shapiro working under the final year of his current contract as President and CEO, and the two sides had yet to work out an extension.

According to the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, there were talks around the idea back in October, but it didn’t sound like anything was particularly close at the time. We do know that Ross Atkins, the Blue Jays GM, is under contract until after the 2021 season, and he has been closely tied to Shapiro throughout his career in baseball, including being hired by Shapiro to come to Toronto. All along I personally expected that Shapiro would be extended until the end of 2021, and all parties could re-evaluate at the end of the 2020 campaign to see where things were at with the front office.

More from Jays Journal

Fast forward to today, and we’re now facing the very real threat that there may not be any baseball in 2020. That’s a terribly depressing thought for a number of reasons, but it could also be relevant when it comes to the Blue Jays’ situation with Shapiro. For the purposes of this thought train, let’s assume there will be no baseball this season.

Without having any inside information whatsoever, I would still be surprised to see Shapiro leave with Atkins under contract for another year. The Blue Jays could decide to move on to a different front office group and fire Atkins with a year left on his contract this fall, but it’s hard to see them making that decision now, especially without a 2020 campaign to evaluate their work. After focusing on building a homegrown core and rebuilding the roster for the last few years, Atkins and company went out and acquired some real help this winter including Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark, Chase Anderson, and more. On paper it was an exciting winter for the Blue Jays, and it would be hard to justify moving on from the front office team without getting to see the fruits of their work.

All that said, Shapiro has been linked to other positions in the past, even in other sports. It’s hard to know what could be on the table for the 53-year-old until a decision has been made either way,  he has downplayed any rumours of that sort, and has repeatedly stated he is interested in seeing the job through.

“I’ve been clear and consistent about enjoying where I am and wanting to be here. From a competitive perspective, I want to finish the job. That’s incredibly important to me.”

Once again, my assumption is that if there’s no baseball this year, the Blue Jays and Shapiro will be interested in at least a one year extension to his current deal. Without getting a chance to see what this current group can do, it’s pretty hard for anyone to make a decision about the future at the moment.

Next: Even for half of a season, Price was worth it

As I said at the beginning, I don’t expect it will be a priority for the immediate future for the Blue Jays or for Shapiro, but we’ll see if and how that changes as the suspension of play continues. Hopefully there will still be baseball this season, but one way or another the decision on Shapiro’s future is coming later this year.

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How the field will likely look for a November Masters – Golf Channel

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While many questions remain about what a Masters might look like in November, one area where we have some clarity is what the field will look like.

Augusta National Golf Club announced Monday that this year’s tournament has new “intended dates” of Nov. 9-15. But part of that announcement included language from club chairman Fred Ridley about who will be invited down Magnolia Lane this fall.

The Grand Slam landscape has been dramatically uprooted by the coronavirus pandemic with golf’s major championship bodies announcing a schedule makeover.

“We want to emphasize that our future plans are incumbent upon favorable counsel and direction from health officials,” Ridley wrote. “Provided that occurs and we can conduct the 2020 Masters, we intend to invite those professionals and amateurs who would have qualified for our original April date.”

Masters qualification was already winding down when global competition ground to a halt last month, with only two remaining pathways to an invite: win one of four remaining full-point PGA Tour events, all of which have since been canceled, or sit inside the top 50 of the Official World Golf Rankings on March 30.

But 92 players had already qualified for this year’s Masters, a larger number than some fields in recent years even with those 11th-hour avenues removed. Eighty-seven players participated each of the last two years, while the field grew to 93 in 2017. The Masters has not had a field size over 100 since 1966, when 103 players participated.

Here is a look at what the PGA Tour currently has proposed on its schedule for the remainder of the 2019-20 season.

If the tournament committee opted to make the final top-50 cutoff based on what the world rankings looked like when they were frozen on March 20, four more players who were not otherwise exempt would be invited: No. 44 Collin Morikawa, No. 45 Scottie Scheffler, No. 47 Christiaan Bezuidenhout and No. 49 Graeme McDowell. That could potentially swell the field to 96, though winners of tournaments should competition resume this summer will earn invites to the 2021 event.

“We would not be adding players to the field between now and the November event,” an Augusta National spokesperson told GolfChannel.com. “Those would be picked up by the 2021 tournament, per our usual qualifications.”

There are 19 Masters qualifying criteria, although lucky No. 19 is the final OWGR cutoff that had not yet come to pass. Here’s a look at how all 92 players for this year’s field qualified, with players who gained entry via multiple criteria listed only by the first way by which they qualified:

1. Masters champions (lifetime exemption): Angel Cabrera, Fred Couples, Sergio Garcia, Trevor Immelman, Zach Johnson, Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle, Phil Mickelson, Larry Mize, Jose Maria Olazabal, Patrick Reed, Charl Schwartzel, Adam Scott, Vijay Singh, Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, Mike Weir, Danny Willett, Tiger Woods

2. U.S. Open champions (last five years): Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Gary Woodland

3. Open champions (last five years): Shane Lowry, Francesco Molinari, Henrik Stenson

4. PGA champions (last five years): Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jimmy Walker

5. Players champions (last three years): Si Woo Kim, Rory McIlroy, Webb Simpson

6. Current Olympic gold medalist (one year): N/A

7. Current U.S. Amateur winner and runner-up: James Augenstein (a), Andy Ogletree (a)

8. Current British Amateur champion: James Sugrue (a)

9. Current Asia-Pacific Amateur champion: Yuxin Lin (a)

10. Current Latin America Amateur champion: Abel Gallegos (a)

11. Current U.S. Mid-Amateur champion: Lukas Michel (a)

12. Top 12 and ties from 2019 Masters: Patrick Cantlay, Tony Finau, Rickie Fowler, Justin Harding, Matt Kuchar, Ian Poulter, Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele

13. Top 4 and ties from 2019 U.S. Open: Justin Rose, Chez Reavie

14. Top 4 and ties from 2019 Open: Tommy Fleetwood, Lee Westwood

15. Top 4 and ties from 2019 PGA Championship: Matt Wallace

16. Individual winners of PGA Tour events that offer full FedExCup points: Cameron Champ, Tyler Duncan, Dylan Frittelli, Lanto Griffin, Tyrrell Hatton, Max Homa, Sungjae Im, Sung Kang, Andrew Landry, Nate Lashley, Marc Leishman, Sebastian Munoz, Kevin Na, Joaquin Niemann, C.T. Pan, J.T. Poston, Cameron Smith, Nick Taylor, Brendon Todd, Matthew Wolff

17. Qualifiers for 2019 Tour Championship: Abraham Ancer, Paul Casey, Corey Conners, Bryson DeChambeau, Lucas Glover, Charles Howell III, Kevin Kisner, Jason Kokrak, Hideki Matsuyama, Louis Oosthuizen, Brandt Snedeker

18. Top 50 from final Official World Golf Ranking of 2019: Byeong-Hun An, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Adam Hadwin, Billy Horschel, Shugo Imahira, Jazz Janewattananond, Victor Perez, Andrew Putnam, Erik van Rooyen, Bernd Wiesberger

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