May 17, 2020 11:14 AM

Sunday Sports Headlines

Posted May 17, 2020 11:14 AM

Update on the latest in sports:


AP Exclusive: MLB projects $640K per game loss with no fans

UNDATED (AP) — Major League Baseball owners have made their pitch as they try to convince players to accept less pay due to the coronavirus pandemic.

MLB has told players their prorated salaries would contribute to an average loss of $640,000 for each game over an 82-game season in empty ballparks. That's according to a presentation from the commissioner's office to the union that was obtained by The Associated Press.

The 12-page document was dated May 12 and paints a grim picture of a $10 billion industry shuttered by the pandemic. It was an initial step in negotiations aimed at starting the delayed season around the Fourth of July.

Some players have publicly balked at the notion of less pay, and the union has called for more transparency in baseball's financial records.

Teams say the proposed method of salvaging a season delayed by the coronavirus pandemic would still cause a $4 billion loss and would give major league players 89% of revenue. The Yankees would have the highest loss at $312 million.

Teams contend they lose more money with each additional game played. The players' union, however, believes clubs would lose less money with more games. In addition, many teams and/or their owners have stakes in their regional sports network that would benefit from additional games.

Owners voted Monday to propose salaries be based on a 50-50 split of revenue, a framework players say is tantamount to the kind of salary cap they'll never accept. Teams gave the players' association their virus-testing plan Friday and have waited to make their economic proposal.

Meanwhile, MLB has created a 67-page draft of its proposed 2020 Operations Manual, which has been obtained by The Associated Press and was first reported by The Athletic.

Among the routine changes include players possibly arriving in uniform and being discouraged to take showers at ballparks. Team personnel will be banned from eating at restaurants on road trips, and mascots like the Phillie Phanatic and Mr. Met would be prohibited from the ballparks. The traditional exchange of lineup cards would be eliminated, along with high-fives, fist bumps, bat boys and bat girls.

Spitting is prohibited along with water jugs and the use of saunas, steam rooms, pools and cryotherapy chambers. Hitting in indoor cages is discouraged, batting gloves encouraged.

Batting practice pitchers are to wear masks, dugout telephones disinfected after each use. Players may not touch their face to give signs, and they're not allowed to lick their fingers. Teams are encouraged to hold meetings outdoors, players spread apart.

Teams will be allowed to have 50 players each under the plan, with the number active for each game still be negotiated.

In other developments related to the coronavirus pandemic:

— Former Washington Redskins star Dexter Manley is hospitalized and receiving oxygen to treat breathing issues related to the coronavirus. Two of his children told The Washington Post the 61-year-old Manley was hospitalized Friday in the Washington area. Daughter Dalis Manley said the former defensive end tested positive for the coronavirus May 2 and has steadily run a temperature between 101 and 104 degrees. Manley helped Washington win two Super Bowl titles in nine seasons with the team.

— The 145th Preakness Stakes has been rescheduled for Oct. 3. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan disclosed the new date for the Preakness on NBC, which also had a hand in the decision because it televises the race. Saturday's announcement was delivered less than hour before the original post time for the Triple Crown race.

— Live golf returns to television Sunday with a four-man charity Skins game at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Florida, to benefit coronavirus relief. There won't be any caddies, so Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson against Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff will be carrying their own bags. The only rake will be carried by a rules official. Another rules official will be the only person to handle the flagstick, if necessary. It will be the first live action on TV since the opening round of The Players Championship on March 12.

— New York will allow horse racing tracks and Watkins Glen International car track to reopen with the easing of the coronavirus outbreak. But Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Saturday was quick to add a caveat: "No crowds. No fans." At his daily briefing, the Democrat says he could envision a return of Major League Baseball in New York, also without fans, adding: "If it works economically, that would be great."

— Germany's Bundesliga (BOON'-dehsh-lee-guh) resumed its soccer season resumed Saturday after a two-month break caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Borussia Dortmund defeated Schalke 4-0 in the first Ruhr derby (DAHR'-bee) to be played in an empty stadium. Also, Hertha Berlin won 3-0 at Hoffenheim, Freiburg drew at Leipzig 1-1, Paderborn drew at Fortuna Düsseldorf 0-0, and Wolfsburg won 2-1 at Augsburg. They were the first games to be played in the league since March 11.

— The head of the World Health Organization said Saturday it will not be easy to make next year's Tokyo Olympics a safe global gathering after the pandemic. The WHO's director general called for "national unity and global solidarity" to fight the coronavirus outbreak ahead of the Olympics. The Summer Games were postponed this year and should bring athletes from more than 200 countries to Japan. The opening ceremony is now due on July 23, 2021.


Giants cornerback sought by police turns himself in

UNDATED (AP) — New York Giants cornerback DeAndre Baker has turned himself in to police in Broward County, Florida.

Baker has been charged with four counts of armed robbery with a firearm and four counts of aggravated assault with a firearm. His lawyer, Bradford Cohen, says he has affidavits that will prove Baker's innocence.

Baker had been sought by police since Thursday, along with Seattle Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar. Warrants were issued for both men after multiple witnesses accused them of an armed robbery at a party Wednesday night in Miramar, Florida.

Dunbar had not surrendered to police as of Saturday afternoon.

In other NFL news:

— Redskins receiver Cody Latimer is facing five charges, including felony illegal discharge of a firearm, following his arrest in a Denver suburb Saturday morning. The Douglas County sheriff's office says deputies arrested the 27-year-old after responding to a report of shots fired inside an apartment in Englewood, Colorado. Deputies say they found three individuals in the apartment, one with minor injuries unrelated to a gunshot. Latimer came to the Redskins from the Giants after starting 10 of his 15 games last season, catching 24 passes for 300 yards and two touchdowns.

— The Rams have re-signed defensive end Morgan Fox and released defensive tackle Tanzel Smart. The team didn't disclose the terms of its new deal with Fox, who has been a depth contributor on the Rams' defensive line since 2016. He signed with Los Angeles as an undrafted free agent out of Colorado State-Pueblo.

— Former Chicago Bears CEO Michael McCaskey has died after a lengthy battle with cancer at 76, according to the team. McCaskey assumed operational control of the franchise in 1983 as president and CEO following the death of George Halas, a founding father of the NFL and the franchise. Michael McCaskey became chairman in 1999 and remained in that role until George McCaskey took over in 2011.

— Former NFL studio host Phyllis George has died at 70 following a long fight with a blood disorder. The 1971 Miss America became a female sportscasting pioneer on CBS's "The NFL Today." George got into television in 1974 at CBS on "Candid Camera" and joined Brent Musburger and Irv Cross in 1975 on "The NFL Today."


Alex Bowman signs 1-year extension with Hendrick Motorsports

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Alex Bowman has signed a one-year contract extension to remain with Hendrick Motorsports through 2021.

The announcement Saturday came the day before NASCAR resumes its season at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina. Bowman goes into the event already qualified for the playoffs as winner at California on March 1, two weeks before the season was suspended by the coronavirus pandemic.

Bowman is fourth in the Cup standings and in his third full season driving the No. 88 for Hendrick.


Golfer Ernie Gonzalez dies

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Former PGA golfer Ernie Gonzalez has died at 59. The PGA Tour said he died Friday in a Chicago hospital of Alzheimer's.

Gonzalez played 119 events over a four-year span from 1985 through 1988, when he finished 207th on the money list. The Californian's lone victory was in the 1986 Pensacola Open, when he made five birdies and an eagle over his final nine holes of the second round for a 63 and a one-shot lead. The last 36 holes were wiped out because of rain, making Gonzales the victor.

His largest payoff was $48,000 for a tie for third in the Vantage Championship, two weeks after his victory in Pensacola.


Ex-Stanford two-sport star Zach Hoffpauir dies at 26

UNDATED (AP) — Zach Hoffpauir, a two-sport standout at Stanford who was recently hired to coach safeties on the University of Northern Colorado football team, has died at age 26. The university says he died in his sleep Thursday.

Hoffpauir earned All-Pac 12 honors as a safety in football and played two seasons in the Arizona Diamondbacks' minor league system after starring as an outfielder on the Cardinal baseball team.


Park Hyun-kyung wins Korean title in return to live golf

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — In a return to official live tournament golf after the coronavirus epidimic, Park Hyun-kung shot a final-round 67 Sunday to win the Korean Ladies Professional Golf tournament by one stroke.

Park had a four-round total of 17-under 271 on the Lakewood Country Club course.

Bae Seon-woo (68) and Lim Hee-jeong (71), who led by three strokes after the third round, were tied for second.

The tournament was played without fans and with players using hand sanitizers and following social-distancing rules. Caddies wore masks and players were allowed to play without them.

On Sunday, when players finished their rounds, most gave each other fist or elbow pumps instead of the usual hugs or hand shakes.

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May 17, 2020 11:14 AM
Loss of State Tournaments and Major Spring Events Affects Communities Nationwide

The spikes will not be laced up this spring, the batons will not be passed, and the hurdles will not be cleared. The baselines won’t be chalked, the bubble gum and sunflower seeds won’t be chewed, and the eye-black won’t be applied. The iconic declaration that it is time to “play ball” will not be heard. Soccer balls will remain in their bags, lacrosse sticks will not need to be taped and there will be no practice rounds on the golf course.

Outside of a few southern states that employ an earlier cycle, “the spring season that never was” is the unfortunate reality facing high school student-athletes across America. And for the senior class of 2020, there is no next year. Hopes of a final chance to set a school record, hoist a state championship trophy or even make bus-trip memories with the closest of friends – all dashed unceremoniously by the Coronavirus pandemic.

The loss, however, goes much deeper than the student-athletes. Parents lost an opportunity to witness their children grow in the environment only athletics can provide; communities – particularly those with just one high school – go without one of their most sacred and fundamental sources of pride.

“That’s why we waited as long as we possibly could (to cancel spring sports), and let people know we were doing everything possible to try and make a spring season happen,” said Bernard Childress, executive director of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA). “We know the student-athletes – the seniors especially – their communities, their schools, their fans, their parents and everyone involved in the athletic family is affected by this and paid a tremendous price.”

The collective price Childress refers to is a heavy one, but one that is exacted differently in each state given the unique opportunities provided by each NFHS member association. For some student-athletes it would have been the chance to play in a major- league, minor-league or collegiate venue, where they could dig into the same batter’s boxes or toe the same pitcher’s plates as some of their favorite professionals. Some were looking forward to competing in nationally renowned events ripe with tradition and nostalgia dating back a century or more. Still others missed out on a uniquely centralized state tournament setup that embodies the true spirit of supporting one another. While every competition within the education-based athletics model is special regardless of the sport, there are some instances that only come around once in a lifetime and simply cannot be replicated.

Take California as an example. Each year, the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) hosts its State Track and Field Championships, which have most recently been held at Buchanan High School in Clovis since 2009. Over the two days of competition, Buchanan’s Veteran’s Memorial Stadium attracts a yearly average of almost 20,000 spectators.

Outside of a three-year span during World War II, the state meet has been conducted annually since 1915 and has seen some of the greatest athletes the United States has ever produced. Among the lengthy list of alumni are Major League Baseball’s (MLB) Bobby Bonds, the National Football League’s (NFL) Lynn Swann, Olympic beach volleyball gold medalist Misty May-Treanor and Olympian and World War II hero Louis Zamperini, the subject of the 2014 feature film Unbroken.

And just as it has become a perennial tradition to see spectacular athleticism, so it has to see the same faces make the pilgrimage to take in the experience.

“We have people show up to our track and field meet who drive from all over the state, and they’re there every year,” said CIF Executive Director Ron Nocetti. “We see the same people sitting by the finish line and many of them ran in those events when they were in high school. They get together with their former teammates and they drive from various places in the state to that meet.”

In the southern part of the state, baseball programs in the CIF’s Los Angeles City Section Open Division and Division I strive to win a sectional championship in Dodger Stadium – the home of MLB’s Los Angeles Dodgers – while teams in Divisions II and III square off at the University of Southern California’s Dedeaux Field.

Playing baseball in world-class facilities are also among the highlights during the high school spring seasons in Georgia and Mississippi. Both the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) and the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) utilize partnerships with the various levels of the Atlanta Braves (MLB) organization for their championships.

Of the four GHSA baseball state championship sites, three of them belong to the Braves and their affiliates, including state-ofthe- art Truist Park – currently the newest ballpark in the MLB.

“We have a great partnership with the Braves, and they’ve made it very easy for us economically,” said GHSA Executive Director Robin Hines. “We partnered with them for the first time last year and they enjoyed it so much that we signed a multi-year contract, so we’ll be there for a while. It’s just a matter of moving it by a day or two to make sure the three teams – the Atlanta Braves, Gwinnett Stripers (Triple-A) and the Rome Braves (Single-A) – are out of town. It’s been a very good deal for us.

While a professional team no longer plays there, the fourth GHSA venue is very much noteworthy in its own right. Built in 1929, Luther Williams Field in Macon has had nine different tenants over the course of its existence and is listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places.

Trustmark Park, the home of Atlanta’s Double-A farm team – the Mississippi Braves – plays host to all six of the MHSAA’s state championship baseball games. The softball games are split between two of the best university facilities in The Magnolia State – Mississippi State University in Starkville and The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.

“It’s special to be one of the last 12 baseball teams or one of the last 12 softball teams left playing at the end,” said Don Hinton, executive director of the MHSAA. “To get the chance to play baseball at Trustmark Park is really special. This is our seventh year I believe that they’ve had it, and it’s something everyone really looks forward to in the springtime. It’s in Pearl, so it’s centrally located within the state and it’s probably the best place to play in Mississippi, and even in some parts of The South. We always get great crowds. And for softball, both of our host universities do a tremendous job providing our young ladies with a championship atmosphere. The experience they offer certainly fits the stage.”

While it is still in the preliminary stages and is not yet official, there is a strong possibility that makeshift baseball and softball seasons will take place in Mississippi over the summer. Teams would remain within their geographic regions for competition and there would be no official MHSAA state champions crowned, but all of that would be dwarfed by the purpose of giving student-athletes one more chance to represent their schools.

Hinton is thrilled by the initiative on the part of his state’s coaches and has offered his full endorsement.

“They will have (the MHSAA’s) blessing and we will help them however we can,” he said. “We’ll do anything we can to make their summer as joyful and as meaningful as it can possibly be.”

Should the pandemic conditions run deeper into the summer months, the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) will be in jeopardy of losing its Summer Conference and All-Star Sports Week and may be forced to move its Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame Induction for the second time.

The AHSAA Summer Conference and All-Star Sports Week is currently slated for mid-July and is not only a massive professional development and fellowship opportunity for athletic administrators that sees more than 4,000 registrants each year, it’s a chance to showcase the very best junior athletes in the state. Over the course of the week, the association hosts 11 different All-Star games/competitions that bring thousands of fans streaming to Montgomery.

“We truly hope that we’ll be able to hold it because it’s a tremendous event for our state, but the ability to bring that large a group of people together in July is questionable at this time,” said AHSAA executive director Steve Savarese.

The Alabama Sports High School Hall of Fame Induction has already been moved to June from its original date in mid-March, but, as more and more time passes, Savarese fears it could potentially have to wait until September.

Tennessee is home to what is arguably the nation’s most prominent state championship structure for spring sports. Titled the TSSAA Spring Fling Championships, the event bears a resemblance to the Olympic Games. Over Memorial Day weekend, 4,300 to 4,500 student-athletes descend upon Rutherford County to compete for championships in baseball, softball, soccer, boys and girls tennis and boys and girls track and field, which are all contested simultaneously at various high school fields, as well as Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.

“It’s an unbelievable event that we hold that gives our student- athletes the opportunity to cheer for their other teams and support one another across Rutherford County,” said Childress. “The Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce does an outstanding job of hosting it each year.”

While these events certainly serve to create unforgettable memories for student-athletes and the invested individuals who follow and support them, the anticipation and subsequent disappointment that they are canceled is felt mutually by the cities and towns that band together to put them on.

“We were definitely disappointed for our student-athletes, but evaluating the big picture, we were disappointed for the entire state,” Savarese said. “In our communities, so many people make huge investments in hosting our events who count on their economic impact.”

Savarese detailed the longstanding relationship between the AHSAA and the city of Huntsville, which has been the site of the organization’s soccer state championships since their inception.

“(The city of Huntsville’s) investment into our soccer championship is unparalleled,” he said. “And that goes way beyond the economic impact – they truly love the event. The economic impact is the small part; the love for the sport and what they put into this – it’s a labor of love for them and they’re going to miss out on seeing the kids play and sharing those experiences with them.”

In Clovis, restaurants go as far as to adjust their hours to accommodate the influx of people for the CIF State Track and Field Championships, which is an apparent extension of the entire town’s sentiment.

“What’s unique about Clovis and that entire Fresno area is the sheer number of volunteers that we get,” Nocetti said. “We get 400 volunteers over two days for our track and field championships; the community just completely buys in. When we’ve gone down there over the years, the biggest comment we get from our families and our student-athletes is just how welcoming that entire community is.”

“It’s special for them to host, and with people coming into town who maybe haven’t been around before, it’s important financially,” said Hinton of his baseball championships. “They’re coming and spending the night and eating and spending money on gas and those types of things.”

Even though the courts, fields, courses and pools are all currently vacant and empty and an enormous void exists within high school athletic communities everywhere, an argument remains that the promotion of life lessons through participation in athletics and activities continues uninterrupted – and given their transmission comes through a painful break in the action – that promotion is perhaps stronger than ever.

“We know that education-based athletics provides so much more than just the wins and losses for student-athletes,” Nocetti said. “It builds character and resilience, and if nothing else, you can imagine that for the student-athletes in this class that resiliency is going to be something that they’re going to be able to draw upon with all that they’ve gone through.”