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World Series to be played in Arlington as MLB moves to bubble for post-season



Positive tests for coronavirus played havoc with regular season

The World Series will be played entirely at the Texas Rangers’ new ballpark in Arlington, Texas, as part of a bubble agreement between Major League Baseball and the players’ association, the first time the sport’s championship will be played entirely at one site since 1944.

As part of an agreement finalized Tuesday, the Division Series, League Championship Series and World Series will be part of a bubble designed to minimize exposure to the coronavirus, which decimated the regular season and limited it to a 60-game schedule for each club. The best-of-three first round of the post-season — expanded from 10 to 16 teams this year — will be at the top-seeded teams.

The World Series will be at Globe Life Park in Arlington, a retractable roof stadium with artificial turf that opened this year adjacent to the Rangers’ old ballpark. The American League Championship Series will be at San Diego’s Petco Park, and the National League at Globe Life Park.

The AL Division Series will be at San Diego and Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium, and the NL Division Series at Globe Life and Houston’s Minute Maid Park.

Texas is last in the AL West at 17-30 entering Tuesday, with little chance of advancing to the post-season.

“In the view of our infectious disease experts, the biggest risk of exposure for players and staff is contact with family members and friends who have been exposed to COVID-19 in their communities,” Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem wrote in a memo sent to teams Monday night. “Nearly all of the positive test results that have been reported for players and staff in the last month can be traced back to contact with an infected family member, domestic partner, or friend outside of club facilities.”

Halem said MLB and the players’ association were in the process of finalizing details of the agreement, which provides for players to be tested daily during the post-season.

While the NFL plays the Super Bowl at a neutral site selected in advanced, baseball has resisted the idea, which has been long advocated by prominent agent Scott Boras.

The World Series was last played at one site in 1944 at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis, where the Cardinals beat the Browns 4 games to 2. New York’s Polo Grounds hosted all the games in 1921 and 1922, the last two seasons it was the home of both the New York Giants and Yankees. The Giants won both titles.

AL teams in mathematical contention are to start a transition period on Sept. 22 and NL teams the following day in which up to 28 active roster players, 12 taxi-squad players and 50 additional personnel ranging from bullpen catchers to front-office staff must remain at the team’s transitional hotel or travel with the team on the road.

Provisions for family

Under an exception wanted by the players’ association, any player who either lives him himself, lives with a spouse or domestic partner who is pregnant or has special medical needs documented by a physician or is living with children may quarantine at home during the transition period, with a provision that MLB will not approve a large number of requests to quarantine at home.

Only spouses, domestic partners, children and child care providers can stay with players during the transition period, and people other than players may not bring family to the transition hotel or on the road. Family members will not be allowed into the bubble hotels at the four sites unless they complete a supervised seven-day quarantine.

A player also may have up to six family members and quests stay at separate family hotels at the four sites. MLB said it will use best efforts to arrange visits in supervised, outdoor places.



USL team walks off pitch, forfeits game after alleged homophobic slur against teammate




San Diego Loyal co-owner, coach Landon Donovan says ‘we have to speak, and we have to act’

For the second time in a week, the San Diego Loyal SC of the USL Championship found themselves in the middle of a controversy over alleged hate speech, this time walking off the pitch in protest after the club claimed an opposing player used a homophobic slur against a Loyal player.

The alleged incident happened Wednesday night during the first half of a game between Loyal and Phoenix Rising FC in San Diego. According to the Loyal’s Twitter feed, a Phoenix Rising player called the Loyal’s Collin Martin a homophobic slur in the first half. In June 2018, Martin came out as gay while with MLS’ Minnesota United.

The San Diego club is co-owned and coached by Landon Donovan, the joint all-time-leading goal-scorer in U.S. men’s national team history.

In a post-game statement posted to the Loyal’s Twitter feed, Donovan said Martin brought the slur to referees’ attention as the first half ended, just after Martin was given a red card with San Diego up 3-1.

Shortly thereafter, an animated Donovan was caught on video discussing the incident with Schantz and the referee at the start of halftime, with Donovan at one point turning away from Schantz incredulously.

According to Donovan, the referee admitted he heard the word at the heart of the issue, but the referee would not send the player off because the referee did not understand the phrase, allegedly a Jamaican slur. Donovan said that Schantz also would not substitute the player out of the game.

During a halftime that Donovan called “a really difficult 20 minutes,” the Loyal decided to take the pitch for the second half, but if the player who allegedly made the slur was still not removed from the game, the Loyal would walk off the pitch and refuse to play the second half.

“If we wanted to be true to who we are as a club, we have to speak, and we have to act,” Donovan said in the statement.

“If they’re not willing to act, then we have to act. We have no choice,” Donovan said of the officials and of Schantz after the alleged offender was allowed to remain in the game.

In refusing to play the second half, the Loyal forfeited, ultimately costing themselves any shot at the playoffs.

Player denies using slur

Later Wednesday night, Rising forward Junior Flemmings tweeted that he was the one accused of using a slur, but he denied ever using it. Flemmings is from Jamaica.

“This evening in our match against the San Diego Loyal I was accused of making a homophobic slur towards a San Diego Loyal player,” the statement began. “This accusation is false and my fellow teammates will support my claim.”

“The referee admitted he did not hear any homophobic slurs and was utterly confused by the situation,” the statement added later. “At no point did I say a homophobic slur towards Collin Martin. I do not know Collin personally, but I respect all of my opponents equally, Collin included. I am disappointed by San Diego’s actions this evening as I have been mauled and ridiculed online with no opportunity to defend myself. This is my statement. I stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ movement.”

The Rising issued a statement, which read in part, “Phoenix Rising is investigating the claim of a homophobic slur being used by one its players who has vehemently denied these allegations. Phoenix Rising stands with the USL in rejecting and punishing any homophobic behavior.”

USL issues statement

USL also issued a statement: “We are aware of the alleged use of a homophobic slur in tonight’s match between San Diego Loyal SC and Phoenix Rising FC. Foul and abusive language of any type has absolutely no place in our society and will not be tolerated in USL matches. An investigation is currently underway to determine the facts surrounding the incident and more information will be provided as soon as it is available.”

On Sept. 23, LA Galaxy II defender Omar Ontiveros used a racial slur against the Loyal’s Elijah Martin, a Black player. The Loyal earned a point for a draw in that game, but on Friday the club announced it wanted to forfeit that point. Ontiveros was released by the LA Galaxy II on Saturday.

“We went through a really hard incident last week in the L.A. match and we made a vow to ourselves, to our community, to our players, to the club, to USL, that we would not stand for bigotry, homophobic slurs, things that don’t belong in our game,” Donovan said in the video, adding that the team’s biggest regret from the Galaxy II incident was not taking a stand at the moment the slur was used.

The Galaxy II’s win on Wednesday officially eliminated the Loyal from postseason contention.


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Steelers-Titans game postponed until later in season after more positive COVID-19 tests




2 more cases brings Tennessee total to 11, including 5 players

The NFL postponed Sunday’s Pittsburgh Steelers game at Tennessee until later in the season after one additional Titans player and one personnel member tested positive for COVID-19.

The announcement Thursday came one day afer the league said it hoped to play the game on Monday or Tuesday. The NFL said a new game date would be announced “shortly.”

“The decision to postpone the game was made to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel,” the league said. “The Titans facility will remain closed and the team will continue to have no in-person activities until further notice.”

On Tuesday, the Titans placed three players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including key players defensive captain and lineman DaQuan Jones and long snapper Beau Brinkley. Outside linebacker Kamalei Correa became the fourth on that list Wednesday.

With the two new cases, the Titans’ total is now 11: five players and six other organization members.


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Canada Artistic Swimming closes Montreal training centre amid investigation into abuse and harassment




Emails from swimmers, staff allege culture of silence and abuse

The Montreal training centre used by the senior national Canada Artistic Swimming team closed its doors on Monday as an external firm investigates allegations of abuse and harassment.

The team learned the news in a meeting with Julie Healy, the organization’s chief sport officer. Radio-Canada Sports has obtained a recording of that meeting.

“We’re temporarily suspending operations of our full-time training group,” Healy is heard saying in the recording.

“We can’t continue to operate in an environment where athletes don’t feel safe, where coaches do not feel they can work without being accused of being hostile, harassing, abusive.”

Healy told Radio-Canada that the investigation was prompted by a series of emails complaining of incidents of abuse the organization was unwilling to recognize.

Laura Swift, a coach at Dollard Synchro who is part of the organization, wrote in one email that there is a “culture of fear and compliance” at Canada Artistic Swimming.

The emails followed an incident involving a coach at the Olympic Stadium pool in Montreal last Thursday. Some swimmers complained they heard offensive comments made by the coach about Black, Muslim and LGBTQ people.

Swift says that was not the only incident.

“I’m speaking now because it’s enough, and because I’m exhausted and I’m heartbroken and I want better for them. And they deserve better,” she said in an interview.

Healy said the complaints allege that swimmers were being “forced to keep quiet” about incidents of harassment and abuse, and that they singled her out along with criticizing the entire organization.

The emails allege that harassment and abuse had been occurring since January 2019.

“Our people are not being investigated. Our issues are being investigated,” Canada Artistic Swimming president Jackie Buckingham said in an interview.

She invited swimmers to take part in the investigation, and said the athletes were her priority.


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Former French Open champ Ostapenko stuns No. 2 seed Pliskova




Latvian Ostapenko won the 2017 title as an unseeded player

Former champion Jelena Ostapenko ousted second seed Karolina Pliskova from the French Open with a 6-4 6-2 win in the second round of the French Open on Thursday after an error-ridden performance from the Czech player.

Latvian Ostapenko, who won the 2017 title as an unseeded player, played aggressively from the start and hit 27 winners as a strangely subdued Pliskova struggled to rein in her unforced errors under the closed roof of Court Philippe Chatrier.

The 23-year-old Ostapenko broke her opponent’s serve three times in the first set and twice in the second to seal her victory and ensure that Pliskova remained the only active former world number one who has not won a Grand Slam.

Ostapenko converted her third match point when Pliskova, who had 25 unforced errors, sent a forehand long and she will next meet the winner of the clash between former U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens and Spaniard Paula Badosa.

2017 champion and world No. 43 player Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia eliminated Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-2 to advance to the third round of the French Open. 1:25

Danish teen Clara Tauson’s surprise run is over after losing to American player Danielle Collins 6-2, 6-3 in the second round.

The 17-year-old Tauson came through the qualifying rounds. She upset U.S. Open semifinalist and No. 21 seed Jennifer Brady in the first round.

That victory made her the first Danish woman in the second round of any major tournament since 1989 other than former Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki.

The unseeded Collins next faces 2016 champion and No. 11 seed Garbine Muguruza or Kristyna Pliskova.


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Watch Red Bull Crankworx World Tour mountain biking




Live coverage begins on Thursday at 4 a.m. ET

The top mountain biking athletes will take to the skies as they compete at the Redbull Crankworx World Tour from Innsbruk, Austria. 0:00

Click on the video player above to watch action from the Red Bull Crankworx event in Innsbruck, Austria.

Live coverage begins on Thursday at 4 a.m. ET with the dual slalom competition, followed by the pump track challenge at 12 p.m. ET.

Friday’s action begins at 3 a.m. ET with the slopestyle competition. The speed and style event follows at 9:30 a.m. ET,

The downhill event concludes the action on Sunday at 7:30 a.m. ET.


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Christine Sinclair nets hat trick as Thorns take down Reign in NWSL action




Match was originally scheduled for Sept. 12, but postponed due to poor air quality

Christine Sinclair had three goals and the Portland Thorns beat OL Reign 4-1 on Wednesday night in a National Women’s Soccer League fall series match.

Sinclair scored her first in the 40th minute off a pass from Lindsey Horan, then added a penalty kick in stoppage time before the half.

Sinclair hadn’t scored against he Reign since 2013, a string of 18 matches. The longtime captain of the Canadian national team is the international goals record holder among men or women.

Portland’s Rocky Rodriguez scored from near the penalty spot in 57th minute. After Bethany Balcer scored for the Reign to close the gap to 3-1, Sinclair completed her third NWSL hat trick in the 74th.

The Thorns were coming off a 3-0 win over the Utah Royals in the fall series. The NWSL’s regular season was cancelled because of the coronavirus, but the teams have been playing regional games in local markets after playing in the Challenge Cup tournament in Utah this summer.

The Reign were coming off a 2-2 draw against the Royals on Saturday.

The match was originally scheduled for Sept. 12, but because of poor air quality in the Pacific Northwest caused by wildfires, it was pushed to Sept. 15. When conditions didn’t improve, it was eventually moved to Wednesday.


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Davis, James lead way as Lakers roll past Heat to take early edge in NBA Finals




Los Angeles stars combine for 59 points in Game 1 blowout against Miami

LeBron James finally got an easy Game 1 in the NBA Finals.

A very easy one, at that.

Anthony Davis scored 34 points in his finals debut, James had 25 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists and the Los Angeles Lakers rolled past the Miami Heat 116-98 on Wednesday night.

The Heat left beaten and battered.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 13 points, Danny Green had 11 and Alex Caruso finished with 10 for the Lakers. They returned to the finals for the first time in a decade and sent a very clear message. James’ teams had been 1-8 in Game 1 of past finals, with losses in each of the last seven openers.

Not this one.

“We kind of picked it up on both ends of the floor,” Davis said.

Jimmy Butler fought through a twisted left ankle to score 23 points for Miami. The Heat lost point guard Goran Dragic at halftime to a left foot injury and saw All-Star centre Bam Adebayo leave in the third quarter after apparently aggravating a left shoulder problem.

Kendrick Nunn scored 18 points for the Heat, Tyler Herro had 14 and Jae Crowder 12. Adebayo was held to eight points in 21 minutes, and Miami went with subs for a fourth-quarter burst that turned a total rout into something only slightly more palatable in terms of final margin.

Game 2 is Friday night.

The Lakers did whatever they wanted. They outrebounded Miami 54-36, led by as many as 32 points, and made 15 3-pointers — a big number for a team that doesn’t necessarily count on piling up that many points from beyond the arc. They’re 21-3 this season when making at least 14 3s.

The only stretch that provided hope for Miami came in the first six minutes. The Heat scored on six consecutive possessions in what became a 13-0 run to take a 23-10 lead midway through the opening period.

So, the first six minutes were fine for Miami.

Everything else was all Lakers.

The simplest way to sum up what happened over the rest of the opening half is this: Lakers 55, Heat 25. The Lakers came into Game 1 ranked 21st out of the 22 teams that spent time in the bubble from 3-point range, making only 33.6 per cent of their tries from deep at Disney. They were the only team in the post-season to have two games shooting less than 25 per cent on 3s.

Perhaps they were due. The Lakers went 9-for-11 on 3’s in the final 16 minutes of the first half. Of the nine Lakers who played in the first two quarters, eight tried a 3-pointer — and all eight made at least one.

They closed the first quarter on a 19-3 run. Herro banked in a 3 from a sharp angle for a 43-41 Miami lead with 7:33 left in the half, and then the Lakers took off again, this time on a 24-5 burst to go into the break with a 65-48 lead.

And if things weren’t already bad enough for Miami, the Heat determined at the half that Dragic — playing in his first finals game — couldn’t keep going in Game 1 because of a left foot injury.

The Lakers started the third on another run, this one 18-3, and the rout was officially underway.

The NBA Finals record book is basically a James scrapbook of career achievements, and he raised his spot on some of those lists Wednesday. He became the seventh player to appear in 50 NBA Finals games (he could climb all the way to a tie for third on that list if this series goes seven games) and passed Michael Jordan and George Mikan for fifth in finals free throws made.


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Championship parade in 2020: Lightning celebrate Stanley Cup title on boat




Alex Killorn rides jet ski; Speeches and ceremonies at NFL stadium follow

The Tampa Bay Lightning celebrated their Stanley Cup title with a boat parade and ceremonies Wednesday at Raymond James Stadium.

The boat parade featured forward Alex Killorn on a jet-ski with Steven Stamkos riding on the back as they held up the Stanley Cup and did laps around the boats in the Hillsborough River. The parade was followed by a public trophy celebration at the stadium with a capped attendance of 16,000 people.

“We’re excited to share this with Tampa,” Killorn said. “I know they weren’t here throughout the series and in the bubble, but this is our time to enjoy it with them because [the fans] are a big part of this team.”

Among the highlights of the celebration was a video package of the Lightning’s playoff run and a congratulatory video message from ESPN broadcaster and Lightning season-ticket holder Dick Vitale.

The players returned to Tampa on Tuesday after being in the NHL’s “bubble” in Toronto and Edmonton for the past 65 days. They were greeted at the airport by their families and held a private on-ice ceremony for friends and family.

Lightning owner Jeff Vinik said that the circumstances in which the Lightning won the Stanley Cup make it an even more impressive feat than winning in a normal year.

“This was not only a hockey Stanley Cup,” Vinik said. “This was a mental Stanley Cup to get through that period of time. Kudos to them and kudos to their families for being so supportive. That’s a long time away from home and I don’t think any of us can appreciate how tough that was.”

In his (final) daily recap, Rob Pizzo wraps up the strangest Stanley Cup playoffs in history. 4:26


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