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What’s at stake on final day of MLB regular season – Sportsnet.ca

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Four teams, two National League playoff spots.

And the AL Central champion.

Besides post-season seeding, that’s what remains to be decided on the last scheduled day of this bizarre baseball season. It could all come down to the wire at once in a wild rush, too, with every meaningful game Sunday starting just after 3 p.m. EDT.

“If you said that to me before the season started or on opening day, I would probably look right at you very honestly and say, `I would not be surprised if this season came down to the very last game.’ And that’s what we get,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said.

Christian Yelich and the Brewers control their own fate. So do Yadier Molina and the Cardinals. The winner of their matchup Sunday in St. Louis punches a post-season ticket. Brett Anderson (4-3) pitches for Milwaukee against Austin Gomber (1-1).

San Francisco is still breathing, but needs help. Bryce Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies need even more.

One more chance to play in October as part of a playoff field expanded to 16 teams this year following a rocky regular season reduced to 60 games because of the coronavirus.

“It’s frustrating because you see the team that you have around you and you know we should be there — we should easily be there,” Phillies outfielder Andrew McCutchen said Saturday night after a 4-3 loss at Tampa Bay left Philadelphia on the brink of elimination. “To be on the outside looking in right now, it can be frustrating at times.”

The Phillies (28-31) got a reprieve hours later, staying in the race when San Francisco lost to San Diego. They need a win Sunday over the Rays and losses by the Giants and Brewers to land their first playoff berth in nine years.

San Francisco (29-30) needs a victory over the visiting Padres and a Brewers loss. The Cardinals (29-28) make it with a win or a Giants loss. Milwaukee (29-30) is in with a win or losses by the Giants and Phillies.

“We just have to keep our head up and try to win,” San Francisco pitcher Johnny Cueto said.

Over in the American League, all eight teams are set. All that’s left to be determined is seeding — and first place in the Central.

Minnesota has a one-game lead and can lock up its second consecutive division crown — and the No. 2 seed in the AL — with a win at home against Cincinnati or a White Sox loss at home to the Cubs.

“I look at that 2019 banner a lot up there at the stadium, so it’d be nice to put another one up there,” Twins reliever Taylor Rogers said.

If the teams finish tied, Chicago wins the division because it holds the tiebreaker over the Twins.

“It would mean a lot for all of us that have been here for the last couple of years,” White Sox infielder Yoan Moncada said through a translator. “It would be a really good starting point for us for the next season because we would have that foundation there.”

AL East champion Tampa Bay has clinched the league’s top seed. Oakland won the AL West and will also play a best-of-three first-round series at home beginning Tuesday — possibly against rival Houston.

Even without winning the Central, Minnesota is assured of playing at home, where the Twins are a major league-best 24-6. Cleveland can earn home-field advantage with a win over last-place Pittsburgh and a White Sox loss.

The Yankees and Blue Jays are also in, but headed out on the road.

Anthony Rizzo and the Chicago Cubs clinched the NL Central crown Saturday night even while losing to the crosstown White Sox. So the third-seeded Cubs will open at home Wednesday just like the other National League division winners, top-seeded Los Angeles and No. 2 seed Atlanta.

“This one feels good,” Rizzo said.

San Diego will be the No. 4 seed. Cincinnati and surprising Miami have also secured spots, though their seeds are still to be determined.

Houston (29-30), Milwaukee (29-30) or Philadelphia (28-31) could become the first team in major league history to qualify for the post-season with a losing record.

The Astros, who close their season at Texas, have already clinched their fourth straight playoff appearance. That means first-year manager Dusty Baker will take his fifth different franchise to the post-season in that role.

And there’s also a possibility the regular season could extend to Monday.

If the Cardinals lose Sunday and San Francisco wins, St. Louis must head to Detroit for a doubleheader Monday to make up two games postponed by the Cardinals’ coronavirus outbreak this summer.

Makeup games to settle the playoff race. Certainly would be a fitting way to finish the 2020 season.

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Two tied for 36-hole lead at Bermuda Championship – pgatour.com

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“This guy is pretty damn good for an old guy,” said Taylor, who shot an 81, one of nine players who shot in the 80s on the windswept day in Bermuda.

“He fought back and he made the cut, and not many 64-year-olds can do that in the world,” he said. “It was fun to watch him play.”

Funk is the oldest player to make the cut on the PGA TOUR since 65-year-old Tom Watson five years ago in the RBC Heritage at Hilton. The only other players 64 or older to make the cut since 1970 were Jack Nicklaus and Sam Snead.

“And then Funk. You throw that in there, it doesn’t sound right, does it?” Fred Funk said. “I don’t know whether I compete, but making the cut was big.”

It wasn’t easy on a day like this, where the wind was so strong it was difficult to stand up, especially on some of the holes along the ocean.

“Today was really hard,” Armour said. “We didn’t know whether to say get up, get down, what to tell it. We couldn’t judge the distance very well and we had some balls going sideways out there and my ball doesn’t usually go sideways. And it would just get up in the wind and it would go 20 yards further left or right than you wanted it to.”

That made the performance by Clark even more remarkable, although the wind finally caught up with him when he took bogeys on the par-5 seventh and the par-3 eighth to fall back into a tie with Armour.

Clark wasn’t caught up in the late bogeys, especially the last one.

“We all were hitting 6- and 5-irons into a par 3 from 160, and I missed about a 5-footer,” Clark said. “It’s bound to happen. If I didn’t bogey those, it would be one of the best rounds of my career. But it’s pretty hard to play a round with 30 mph wind and not make any bogeys.

“I’m not looking at those last two bogeys,” he said. “I’m up there in contention, and that’s all that matters.”

The best round of the day belonged to Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who not only shot 66, he played bogey-free. He was three shots behind, while Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington used all his Irish experience in the wind for a 71 — two birdies, two bogeys, 14 pars — and was four shots behind.

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As Ontario reaffirms no bodychecking stance, OHL says it will follow studies – Sportsnet.ca

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The Ontario Hockey League intends to make its return on Feb. 4, but how that return will look in practice may need to be different from what fans and players are accustomed to.

On Friday, shortly after the Ontario provincial government reaffirmed its stance that bodychecking and deliberate physical contact would not take place during sports amid the COVID-19 pandemic, OHL commissioner David Branch said the league will follow the results of scientific studies in crafting its return-to-play plan, but did not align his position fully with the province’s mandate.

“If there’s studies that really, clearly state that body contact is a contributor to the spread of the virus, then obviously we’ll have to look at it,” Branch said during an appearance on Sportsnet 590 THE FAN’s Writers Bloc. “But we’ve not looked at it yet.”

Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s minister of sport, made clear in her Friday announcement solidifying the bodychecking ban, and in subsequent follow-up Tweets on the topic, that the mandate was an important part of playing sport during the COVID-19 era — and was not negotiable.

“Not just in the OHL, not just in hockey in general, but in all sports,” MacLeod said during a speech delivered to the Empire Club of Canada. “We’re in a very serious game right now and the reality is we have to take those public health precautions.”

According to Ontario’s “Framework For Reopening Our Province Stage 3,” a publicly available document released by the province that outlines best-practices for individuals and organizations during this stage of Ontario’s pandemic response, “prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sports” is not permitted.

“Our public health officials have been clear,” MacLeod wrote on Twitter. “Prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sports is not permitted. We will continue to work with [the OHL] on a safe return to play.”

Writers Bloc

OHL Commissioner David Branch discusses upcoming season

October 30 2020

The document goes on to say that in team sports where body contact between players is an integral component of the sport, or commonly occurs while engaged in the sport, those sports will not be permitted unless the way they’re played can be modified to prevent prolonged or deliberate physical contact.

“I suspect [the OHL] will have to modify their play until there is a vaccine or at the very least public health clearance that we have contained the spread of COVID-19,” MacLeod said on Friday.

In the summer, Ontario hosted the NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, using Toronto as one of its hub cities, and did not require rule changes that would prevent prolonged or deliberate physical contact. The success of the NHL’s model — a sequestered bubble to limit exposure and remove travel risks, rigorous testing and contact tracing — would be challenging, if not impossible, for a league like the OHL to afford.

Ontario’s confirmation that bodychecking in the OHL would be subject to its reopening mandates comes as daily, reported COVID-19 cases hover near all-time highs.

Over the past seven days, the province has seen a daily average of nearly 900 new cases, according to publicly available tracking data.

“This isn’t politics and hockey,” MacLeod tweeted. “It is a global pandemic and we are guided by healthcare policy to mitigate against the spread of a deadly virus.”

It is not clear at this time how the policy banning “prolonged or deliberate physical contact” would impact other, non-bodychecking elements of hockey games such as battles for the puck along the boards.

Earlier this month, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League resumed play without any modifications to its rules. Its schedule has been disrupted by several COVID-19 outbreaks among teams, as well as provincial restrictions on travel.

The challenge the league experienced, in part, helped solidify Ontario’s decision that bodychecking cannot take place, MacLeod said. According to Branch, that policy decision has not factored into the OHL’s return-to-play planning to this point.

“We haven’t even contemplated that, quite frankly,” Branch said. “At the end of the day, so much of what we’re attempting to do is provide the opportunity for our players to get back on the ice. We have to take them into consideration here and what’s best for their development, their ongoing development.”

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No bodychecking allowed in upcoming OHL season, says Ontario sport minister – CBC.ca

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The Ontario Hockey League will not have bodychecking this coming season, according to Lisa MacLeod.

Ontario’s minister of sport said Friday afternoon in a speech delivered to the Empire Club of Canada that removing purposeful physical contact is a necessity for all sports in the province to slow the spread of COVID-19

“Not just in the OHL, not just in hockey in general, but in all sports,” said MacLeod. “We’re in a very serious game right now and the reality is we have to take those public health precautions.”

The OHL announced on Thursday that it plans to start a shortened season on Feb. 4, the last of Canada’s three major junior leagues to release a schedule.

WATCH | MacLeod says bodychecking barred from OHL:

Ontario’s Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries discusses the OHL’s return to play proposal during the pandemic. 1:04

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season started earlier this month, but the schedule has been affected by several COVID-19 outbreaks as well as provincial government restrictions. After play was restricted to Maritimes Division teams the past two weeks, some Quebec teams are scheduled to resume play this weekend.

The Western Hockey League said earlier this month it plans to start its season on Jan. 8.

MacLeod said the decision to ban bodychecking was influenced by the outbreaks in the QMJHL.

“I suspect [the OHL] will have to modify their play until there is a vaccine or at the very least public health clearance that we have contained the spread of COVID-19,” said MacLeod.

The MPP for Nepean said she normally has no problem with physical play in the sport, but the pandemic is an exceptional circumstance.

“I have done a lot of work on concussion awareness so I do take very seriously the safety but if done appropriately in regular times I wouldn’t,” MacLeod said.

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