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.
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.
— The Philadelphia Phillies have placed infielder Scott Kingery and pitchers Hector Neris, Ranger Suarez and Tommy Hunter on the 10-day injured list with no specified injuries. The team opens camp on Friday but the four players won’t be eligible to return until late next week at the earliest. The Phillies had seven players test positive for Covid-19 last month, but manager Joe Girardi couldn’t answer whether any of the players were among them because of medical privacy.
— 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.
— New York Mets hitting coach Chili Davis will keep on working remotely when the team opens summer training camp Friday. 60-year-old Davis won’t be on site at Citi Field for the beginning of practices because of concerns about the coronavirus. 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
— 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.
FedEx asks Redskins to change their name
WASHINGTON (AP) — The title sponsor of the Washington Redskins’ stadium wants the NFL team to change its name. In a statement today, FedEx said they “have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name”. The company paid the team $205 million in 1999 for the naming rights to FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. In addition to the stadium name and sponsorship agreement, FedEx CEO Frederik Smith is a minority owner. Majority owner Daniel Snyder has shown no indications he’ll change the name since buying the team in 1999.
On Thursday night, Nike appeared to remove all Redskins gear from its online store. The other 31 NFL teams were listed and a search for “Redskins” came up with no results. Nike did not immediately respond to an email message seeking comment.
Elsewhere in the NFL:
— Fewer preseason games following an offseason without on-field workouts creates more challenges for new coaches, players who changed teams and rookies. The NFL is cutting the exhibition schedule in half and pushing back the start of the preseason to allow teams more time to train because the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of organized team activities and minicamps. Players are strongly considering asking for even fewer exhibition games.
— “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:
— Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson says he feels like he’s in good shape as he prepares to help lead New Orleans’ eight-game push to make the NBA playoffs. Williamson says his top priorities include bonding with teammates after the NBA this week allowed team facilities to reopen for mandatory workouts. Williamson says the Pelicans can be “really special” if they are healthy and in sync when the season resumes July 30 in Orlando. Williamson has averaged 23.6 points in 19 games since coming back from a preseason knee injury.
— 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.
– The sudden suspension of the NBA season was a double disappointment for Anthony Davis because it happened on his birthday. Davis is back at work with the Lakers on achieving their interrupted goals after a few homebound months spent largely improving his video game skills. The Lakers were leading the Western Conference and preparing for their first playoff run together when the season stopped. Davis still loves the Lakers’ chances of contending for the franchise’s 17th championship largely because his team is healthy. Davis, LeBron James and the Lakers are gathered for individual workouts this week in preparation for their trip to Orlando.
— 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.
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 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. 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.
– Soccer-starved Argentines have found a way to play their beloved sport while social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. The rules have been altered, and the dazzling end-to-end dashes produced by national legend Diego Maradona are impossible. The system has been dubbed “metegol humano,” or “human foosball.” It involves dividing the field with white chalk into 12 rectangles and restricting each player to a defined space. The ball can be passed across rectangles, and players can dribble inside their areas, but leaving one’s rectangle incurs a penalty. The modified game emphasizes passing and shooting over running and fancy footwork.
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.
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 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.
GOLF-ROCKET MORTGAGE CLASSIC
Doc Redman in 3-way tie for lead at Rocket Mortgage Classic
DETROIT (AP) — Doc Redman took a step toward remaining among those to make the cut in every event since the PGA Tour resumed, opening with a 7-under 65 to share a one-shot lead with Scott Stallings and Kevin Kisner in the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Redman closed his first round Thursday with four straight birdies and seven over the last eight holes at the Detroit Golf Club. He went from being a Monday qualifier to finishing second at the inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic last year. The 22-year-old Redman is shooting to take the next step with his first PGA Tour victory.
Elsewhere in the PGA:
— 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.
— Chase Koepka gave up a rare chance to play on the PGA Tour by withdrawing from the Travelers Championship out of safety involving the coronavirus. Now the younger brother of Brooks Koepka is being rewarded . The tour is adding Chase Koepka to the field next week for the Workday Charity Open at Muirfield Village. Koepka got into Travelers as a Monday qualifier. He played a practice round with his brother and Graeme McDowell. Their caddies tested positive for the virus. That led Chase Koepka to withdraw to protect the field in case he wound up with the coronavirus.
— Cameron Champ was added to the field in the Rocket Mortgage Classic under a modified PGA Tour policy that allows players who test positive for the coronavirus to be eligible if they had no symptoms and get two negative test results at least 24 hours apart. Champ says he does not believe he ever had COVID-19 based on what specialists have told him. The decision to let Champ play on the eve of the tournament was the latest change to an evolving plan as the tour enters its fourth week back from the pandemic-induced shutdown.
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 furloughed employees 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.
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 attended a Black Lives Matter march in London and is setting up a commission to increase diversity in motorsport.
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.
RACIAL INJUSTICE-OKLAHOMA ST
Oklahoma St finds ‘no signs’ of racism in football program
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma State’s athletic director says an internal review has found “no sign or indication of racism” in the football program under coach Mike Gundy.
Two weeks ago, star running back Chuba Hubbard criticized Gundy for wearing a T-shirt promoting a far-right news channel that has been critical of the Black Lives Matter movement. Gundy apologized.
Athletic director Mike Holder says Gundy needs to invest more time building relationships with his players. But he says he is confident in his coach.