Update on the latest sports
Tigers announce partnership with sportsbook operator
DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Tigers have become the first Major League Baseball team to reach a deal with a sports gambling company, announcing a multiyear partnership with PointsBet.
Detroit said the agreement will enhance fan engagement and game-day excitement. Johnny Aitken, CEO of PointsBet USA, says it is the first legal sports betting operator in U.S. history to partner with a Major League Baseball franchise.
Aitken says PointsBet owns its technology environment from end to end, which allows it to be nimble on product innovation and personalized offerings. As part of the deal, PointsBet will have branding at Comerica Park and will be featured on the Detroit Tigers Radio Network.
In other baseball news:
– All 30 Major League Baseball teams will train at their regular-season ballparks for the pandemic-shortened season after the Toronto Blue Jays received a Canadian federal government exemption to work out at Rogers Centre. Toronto will move training camp from its spring training complex in Dunedin, Florida. This exemption does not cover the regular season and player travel between the U.S. and Canada. MLB required an exemption to a requirement that anyone entering Canada for nonessential reasons must self-isolate for 14 days. The U.S.-Canada border remains closed to nonessential travel until at least July 21.
— The Boston Red Sox are getting ready to open their spring training reboot at Fenway Park. The team is scheduled to hold its first workouts Friday. Weights and exercise equipment were set up in the concourse Thursday to allow players to work out with more social distancing than the usual cramped facilities would allow. Masked grounds crew members worked to get the field ready. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker was at Fenway to sign an order allowing the Red Sox to open the ballpark without fans.
— New York Mets hitting coach Chili Davis will keep on working remotely when the team opens summer training camp Friday. The New York Post was first to report that the 60-year-old Davis won’t be on site at Citi Field for the beginning of practices because of concerns about the coronavirus. First-year Mets manager Luis Rojas says it’s uncertain when Davis will join the club. The Post, citing anonymous sources in its report, said Davis does not have the virus. Rojas said all other coaches and players have reported for intake screening. Assistant hitting coach Tom Slater will substitute on site for Davis, who lives in Arizona during the offseason. Minor league hitting coordinator Ryan Ellis will assist Slater.
— Chicago Cubs left-hander José Quintana had surgery to repair nerve damage in his pitching thumb Thursday after he cut himself washing dishes and is out indefinitely. The Cubs said Quintana lacerated his thumb at his home in Miami on Saturday and needed five stitches. He had surgery in Chicago on Thursday morning. The 31-year-old Quintana is expected to resume throwing in about two weeks. The Cubs will then get a better idea of how much time he will miss.
— Infielder Breyvic Valera has been claimed by the Toronto Blue Jays off waivers from the San Diego Padres. Toronto also placed four players on the 10-day injured list in moves retroactive to Tuesday: right-handers Elvis Luciano and Hector Perez, third baseman Brandon Drury and center fielder Jonathan Davis. The 28-year-old Valera hit .234 in 17 games last season for the New York Yankees and the Blue Jays, who claimed him off waivers on Sept. 20. He hit his first career home run on the final day of the regular season. San Diego claimed him from Toronto on Feb. 12.
— Right-hander Max Meyer has agreed to a $6.7 million signing bonus as part of a minor league contract to join the Miami Marlins, and he’ll take part in training camp starting Friday. The deal was for less than his slot value of $7,221,200 as the No. 3 overall pick in last month’s amateur draft. Meyer had a 2.07 career ERA at the University of Minnesota. He’s in the Marlins’ 60-man player pool and could crack their rotation at some point this year.
AP Source: NFL to play Black anthem before national anthem
UNDATED (AP) — “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” will be performed live or played before “The Star-Spangled Banner” prior to each NFL game during Week 1 and the league is considering putting names of victims of police brutality on helmet decals or jersey patches, a person familiar with the discussions told The Associated Press. The person said the league is working collaboratively with players to recognize victims of systemic racism throughout the season in a variety of ways. The person spoke to the AP on Thursday on condition of anonymity because discussions between the league and the NFL Players Association are ongoing.
76ers’ Simmons recovered from back injury for restart
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Ben Simmons says he’s finally healthy and ready join the Philadelphia 76ers for the NBA restart. Simmons says he’s feeling better now than he did at the start of the season. His last game was Feb. 22 when he took such a hard fall in Milwaukee that he was left lying on his back, vomiting from the pain. He is good to go now and can help the Sixers resume their push to win their first NBA title since 1983. The NBA resumes July 30 at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Florida.
In other NBA news:
— The coronavirus numbers are rising in Florida and across the NBA. The league says a total of 35 players and staff from the 22 teams that will take part in the rebooted season have tested positive since such checks became mandated on June 23. And statewide, Florida reported more than 10,000 new cases in a single day for the first time. All that news comes less than a week before teams begin arriving at the Disney complex near Orlando.
— Ja Morant has taken advantage of the NBA’s hiatus and added 12 pounds of muscle, and the NBA’s likely rookie of the year knows exactly what he wants when the Grizzlies go to Orlando. With Morant leading the way, the Grizzlies won four of their final six before the NBA stopped play March 12. Memphis goes into Orlando’s seeding games sitting in the eighth spot in the Western Conference with a 3 1/2-game lead trying to clinch the franchise’s first playoff berth since 2017. The extra pounds not only make Morant stronger, but the guard listed at 6-foot-3 and 174 pounds when play stopped expects he will be able to absorb contact better.
Flyers’ Lindblom completes treatment for rare bone cancer
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom has completed radiation treatments for a rare form of bone cancer. He rang the bell at Abramson Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital, which signifies that he has completed his radiation treatments. The 23-year-old was diagnosed in December with Ewing’s sarcoma, a cancerous tumor that grows in the bones or in the tissue around bones. Lindblom says he’s grateful the cancer was caught early and he’s happy to be alive.
Texas A&M, Jimbo Fisher handed recruiting penalties by NCAA
COLLEGE STATION (AP) — The NCAA has put Texas A&M’s football program on probation and coach Jimbo Fisher has been given a six-month show-cause order.
The Aggies were found to have violated recruiting and other rules beginning in January 2018. The NCAA says Fisher and an assistant coach had impermissible contact with a recruit.
Fisher was banned from phone calls, emails and texts with prospects for nine days in January. The school was fined $5,000 and given other recruiting restrictions.
Boise State cuts baseball, women’s swimming
UNDATED (AP) — Boise State is cutting its baseball and women’s swimming and diving programs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program cuts, along with additional department and program operating reductions, will reduce the overall athletic budget by nearly $3 million.
The cut to baseball comes after the program was recently reinstated. The school announced in 2017 that baseball was being added after it had been discontinued following the 1980 season. The 2020 season was Boise State’s return, but the Broncos played only 14 games before the season was canceled.
The school said all scholarships for athletes in the affected programs, including incoming 2020 signings, will be honored.
In other sports news affected by the virus outbreak:
— Finishers of the virtual Boston Marathon will receive their medals in an Amazon package instead of having a volunteer drape it around their necks on Boylston Street. Race organizers announced plans for the event on Thursday. Runners will have from Sept. 7-14 to complete the 26.2-mile distance and submit proof. There is no time limit, but it must be completed in one continuous run. Also included in the post-race package will be a participation shirt, a program, a bottle opener and other unspecified celebratory items. The virtual race is open for those who had already registered for the real one, which was scheduled for April 20 and then put off until Sept. 14 before it was canceled.
French Open to allow fans in stands at the tournament
PARIS (AP) — The French Open will allow fans to attend this year’s postponed tournament.
The French Tennis Federation says up to 60% of the stands can be filled with fans when play starts in September at Roland Garros. Tickets will go on sale on July 16 for the Sept. 27-Oct. Oct. 11 tournament.
The clay-court tournament had been scheduled to start on May 24 but was postponed to Sept. 20 because of the coronavirus pandemic. It then got pushed back another week.
The FFT has prepared a health and safety protocol to ensure the safety of fans.
In other tennis news:
— Novak Djokovic says he and his wife have now tested negative for the coronavirus. The top-ranked player tested positive for the virus after playing in an exhibition series he organized in Serbia and Croatia with zero social distancing amid the pandemic. His media team says “Novak Djokovic and his wife Jelena are negative for COVID-19.” The statement says both had no symptoms and that they were in self-isolation in the Serbian capital since testing positive 10 days ago. Djokovic was the fourth player to come down with the virus after participating in matches held in Belgrade and Zadar, Croatia.
— The cancellation of the Wimbledon tennis tournament has led to a “berry” big boon for health care workers in London. The All England Club says it will donate 200 portions of strawberries to workers on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic every day. Wimbledon says it is a “small gesture of appreciation for the dedicated service of the NHS during what would have been The Championships Fortnight.” Wimbledon was canceled this year for the first time since World War II because of the pandemic. The tournament had been scheduled to start on Monday.
Watkins Glen open again, optimistic for NASCAR weekend
UNDATED (AP) — Watkins Glen International is open again for racing in upstate New York.
Track president Michael Printup says most of the employees who were furloughed because of the pandemic have returned to work.
Printup says it’s too early to speculate, but if all goes according to plan he estimates the track could host at least 20,000 fans for NASCAR weekend in mid-August. That will snap a string of five consecutive sellouts that has attracted more than 90,000 fans annually. It would still be a welcome boost for the local economy.
In other racing news:
– NASCAR and IndyCar have come together for an unprecedented weekend of racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.IndyCar will start the racing on Saturday afternoon, followed by the Xfinity Series making its debut on the road course. Then NASCAR’s elite Cup Series will race on the oval on Sunday. Fans aren’t allowed to attend what is considered a major milestone for American motorsports.
— Townsend Bell is putting his own unique twist on “double duty” this weekend. The NBC Sports analyst will call the IndyCar race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday before jetting off to Florida to compete in the IMSA sports car race at Daytona. When the IndyCar race ends, a police escort will take him and car owners Jimmy Vasser and James Sullivan to a chartered plane to make it back to Daytona for the 6:10 p.m. start.
PGA of America removes Horton Smith’s name from award
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — The PGA of America is removing Horton Smith’s name from one of its awards because of his history opposing Blacks. Smith is best known as the first winner of the Masters. The Hall of Famer was president of the PGA of America from 1952 to 1954. The PGA of America board decided to rename the Horton Smith Award after a review found that Smith defended the “Caucasian-only” clause while PGA president. The clause was rescinded in 1961. The honor will now be called the PGA Professional Development Award. It’s given to a member for outstanding contributions to professional education.
American women hire appeals lawyers in equal pay lawsuit
LOS ANGELES (AP) — American women players suing the U.S. Soccer Federation for equal pay have hired a pair of appellate lawyers, even before a trial. Nicole Saharsky and Brian Netter of Mayer Brown joined the legal team on today. Netter is a former clerk of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. Players sued in March 2018 under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and they asked for more than $66 million in damages. U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner threw out the pay claims in May but allowed discriminatory work conditions allegations to go to trial. That’s scheduled for Sept. 15.
Hamilton feels responsibility to push for more F1 diversity
SPIELBERG, Austria (AP) — Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton feels it’s his responsibility as a global star to keep pushing for more diversity in his profession and beyond.
Hamilton has spoken widely about racism in recent weeks following the killing of unarmed Black man George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis in May. Hamilton has attended a Black Lives Matter march in London and is setting up a commission to increase diversity in motorsport.
Hamilton says “I’ve got a platform and I think it would be irresponsible of me not to utilize that.”
World Athletics freezes Russia panels because of unpaid fine
MONACO (AP) — World Athletics has frozen the program allowing Russian track athletes to compete internationally after the country’s federation failed to pay a fine on time. The Russian track federation owes a $5 million fine and another $1.31 million in costs for various doping-related work and legal wrangles. World Athletics says it will freeze the work of its Russia task force and its panel for vetting those who want to compete internationally. They will remain shut down until the World Athletics council meets at the end of July.