Local Sports

White Sox Call Up 2B Madrigal

The Chicago White Sox promoted second baseman Nick Madrigal on Friday, adding one of their top prospects to the roster.

 

The 23-year-old Madrigal had been training at the team’s auxiliary site in Schaumburg, Illinois. Veteran reliever Kelvin Herrera was designated for assignment to make room on the roster before the opener of a three-game series at Kansas City.

 

Madrigal was selected by Chicago with the fourth overall pick in the 2018 draft after a standout collegiate career at Oregon State. He will wear uniform No. 1.

 

The 5-foot-8 Madrigal hit .311 with four homers and 55 RBIs in 120 games over three minor league stops last season, finishing the year at Triple-A Charlotte. Known for his bat-to-ball skills, he had 44 walks and 16 strikeouts in the minors in 2019.

 

Herrera signed an $18 million, two-year deal with the White Sox in January 2019. He had a 6.14 ERA in 57 appearances in his first year with the team. He was charged with four runs in two innings in Chicago’s 14-2 loss to Minnesota on Sunday.

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Cardinals, Brewers Friday Game Postponed Due to Positive Tests in Cardinals Organization

The coronavirus forced another change in Major League Baseball’s schedule, bringing the league’s total to eight teams affected in the first nine days of the season.

 

Friday’s game between St. Louis and Milwaukee was postponed after two Cardinals players tested positive for the coronavirus.

 

The league announced the schedule change hours before the game was to be played. It said the postponement in Milwaukee is “consistent with protocols to allow enough time for additional testing and contact tracing to be conducted.”

 

The Cardinals said in a statement that they learned Thursday night about positive tests from samples collected Wednesday. Players and staff have been instructed to isolate in their hotel rooms in Milwaukee, and the club did not leave the hotel Friday for Miller Park.

 

The Brewers and Cardinals plan to resume their schedule Saturday night at Miller Park, pending results from the testing and contact tracing, and makeup Friday’s game as part of a doubleheader Sunday.

 

Two other games scheduled for Friday involving the Marlins, Nationals, Blue Jays and Phillies had already been postponed because of an outbreak among Miami players and two positive tests on Philadelphia’s coaching staff.

 

The Cardinals played in Minnesota on Tuesday and Wednesday before a scheduled day off Thursday. The Twins hosted Cleveland on Thursday night, and the Indians used the same visiting clubhouse as St. Louis.

 

It’s uncertain if the Indians and Twins will move forward with their scheduled game Friday night. Cleveland planned to hold a team meeting early in the afternoon to discuss the situation.

 

A week into its virus-shortened season of 60 games in 67 days, Major League Baseball is scrambling to adjust its schedule.

 

The Marlins haven’t played since Sunday, and Miami’s situation has also led to schedule changes for the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles.

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Bears Put DT Jenkins on COVID List

The Chicago Bears placed defensive tackle John Jenkins on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday, meaning he tested positive for the coronavirus or is being quarantined after coming in close contact with someone infected.

 

Jenkins played in 16 games for Miami last year. He appeared in eight games with Chicago in 2017.

 

Jenkins likely would have backed up nose tackle Eddie Goldman, who has opted out of this season.

 

The Bears have three players on the COVID-19 list, including tight end Eric Saubert and running back Artavis Pierce.

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Cubs, Reds Postponed Due to Rain

The finale of a four-game series between the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds was postponed Thursday because of rain.

 

No makeup date was set in this virus-shortened season. The Cubs are scheduled to return to Cincinnati for a three-game series Aug. 28-30.

 

Rain moved in several hours before the scheduled start and was expected to last well into the evening.

The rainout slowed Chicago's fast start to the season, with four wins in the first six games. Chicago took two of three in Cincinnati, the first time it has opened with back-to-back series wins since 2017.

 

Chicago's offense is on a tear, scoring eight, eight and seven runs in the three games in Cincinnati. The Cubs have homered in each of their first six games - they hadn't done that since 2009.

 

Right-hander Colin Rea was recalled from Chicago's alternate training site and right-hander Dillon Maples was optioned. Rea, 30, was last in the majors with the Marlins in 2016. Maples struggled in two relief appearances.

 

Bryant was in the scheduled starting lineup for the second straight game after missing one with a sore left elbow.

 

Chicago opens a series against the Pirates at Wrigley Field.

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MLB, Players Agree to 7-Inning Double Headers

Shortened season, shorter games.

 

Big league doubleheaders will now become a pair of seven-inning games, baseball’s latest radical rule change during a season reshaped by the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Major League Baseball and the players’ union reached agreement Thursday on the new twinbills, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. 

 

ESPN first reported the doubleheader deal.

 

Baseball is filled with examples going back more than 100 years of major league games being shortened on the fly because of weather, darkness or a team’s travel schedule. But this is believed to be the first mandate across the sport to play games shorter than nine innings.

 

MLB had already added designated hitters to National League games this year and added an automatic runner at second base to start all half-innings in extras. The free runner will take his spot in doubleheader games that are tied after the seventh.

 

There are no doubleheaders currently scheduled in the majors, although the Chicago Cubs and the Reds will try to figure out a way to make up Thursday night’s rainout in Cincinnati.

 

Said Los Angeles Angels manager Joe Maddon: “If the doubleheaders were to pile up for whatever reason, I would have it like in a contingency plan.”

 

“You just accelerate what you’re doing, just like we’re doing with the season. So I get it from the perspective of expediency if it’s necessary. ... I’m in for anything right now. I’m not going to speak badly of any kind of suggestion right now that people believe is going to help us get through the season, get through the playoffs and conclude them.”

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SEC To Play 10-Game, Conference Schedule Only; ACC To Play 11 Games

With college football schedules across the country in flux amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the SEC announced Thursday afternoon that it has moved to a 10-game, conference-only schedule for the 2020 season. The SEC is also pushing the start of its season to Saturday, Sept. 26, what was originally scheduled to be Week 4 of the 2020 campaign.

 

With the shift of the start of its season to Sept. 26, the SEC Championship Game will be pushed back two weeks to Saturday, Dec. 19. This creates flexibility amongst teams with two opportunities for makeup games as the adjusted schedule will feature a midseason bye week for each school and an open date for all programs on Dec. 12, one week before the title game.

 

It is unknown at this time how the SEC will fill out the additional two games of its conference-only schedule as the revised set of games will be announced by the league at a later date. SEC members traditionally play eight conference games each season: six inside their respective divisions, one permanent cross-division opponent and one rotational cross-division opponent.

 

 

 

The ACC has made its decision about college football this fall, as well as its other fall Olympic sports. The conference announced Wednesday that its football season will begin play during the week of Sept. 7, originally scheduled as Week 2 of the 2020 season. ACC teams -- plus partial league member Notre Dame -- will play 11 games, including 10 ACC contests and one nonconference game against an opponent that resides in the home state of league members.

 

Notre Dame will partake in the festivities and play a full 10-game ACC conference schedule, making it eligible to compete in the ACC Championship Game as a temporary 15th member of the conference in 2020. The ACC championship will be contested between the two teams at the top of the standings as the ACC will not play with divisions in 2020. The ACC Championship Game will be played on either Dec. 12 or Dec. 19 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.

 

All of Notre Dame's nonconference games will still be televised on NBC, and accrued the television revenue -- from both Notre Dame and the other 14 ACC schools -- will be tallied and distributed equally among the 15 schools.

 

The completed schedule, which the ACC says "will be released in the future," will be at least 13 weeks long, allowing each team two open dates. These will either be used as off weeks or as possible replacement dates should there be interruptions.

 

As far as the nonconference games each team will play, programs are in control of scheduling those contests; however, all nonconference games must be played in the ACC school's home state. This preserves potential annual marquee rivalry games such as Florida State-Florida, Louisville-Kentucky, Georgia Tech-Georgia and Clemson-South Carolina.

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Koepka Starts Fast at WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational

The defending champ Brooks Koepka matched his career best with an 8-under 62 to take a two-stroke lead over Rickie Fowler and Brendon Todd after the first round of the FedEx St. Jude Invitational.

 

A week after missing the cut in Minnesota in the 3M Open, Koepka had nine birdies and a bogey on a windy day at TPC Southwind in the World Golf Championship event. 

 

He needed 26 putts after working earlier this week with Phil Kenyon.

 

Fowler, who last missed the cut at Memorial, chipped in from 30 feet to tie Koepka. Then Fowler two-putted for bogey after putting his tee shot in the left rough on his final hole to finish at 64.

 

It was Fowler’s lowest round after missing three cuts since the PGA Tour’s return to play in June.

Sung Kang shot 65. Justin Thomas, who can move back to No. 1 in the world with a victory, shot a 66 and was tied with Matt Kuchar, Chez Reavie and Max Homa.

 

Jon Rahm, playing his first event since becoming No. 1 with a win at Memorial, shot 70.

 

Rory McIlroy also could move back to No. 1 with a win. He opened with a 73.

 

Koepka, teeing off in the next-to-last group, made clear his injured left knee won’t slow down his title defense. He birdied his first four holes to shoot up the leaderboard and went to 4 under to share the lead with Bryson DeChambeau after rolling in a 23-footer for birdie on the par-3 No. 4.

 

Tee times for the second round were moved to Friday morning to avoid predicted thunderstorms. 

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Illini Beat Writer Remembers Coach Henson As Great Coach, Better Person

Beyond being an underrated coach, Coach Lou Henson was a spectacular person. 

 

That is how Illini sports beat writer Bob Asmussen described the hall of fame former Illinois basketball coach who passed away over the weekend in Champaign. 

 

 

Asmussen arrived in Champaign to cover Illinois sports the fall after Illinois reached the final four under Henson but reminds that Henson had some very good teams even after the 'Flyin' Illini'. He says Henson was the perfect media guy.

 

 

In his years following retirement, Henson remained active at the U of I and was beloved by fans and coaches that followed. Coaches on the Illinois sideline have donned the Orange blazer he made famous and had the floor of the State Farm Center named after him in 2015. 

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IHSA Executive Director Discusses Wednesday Decision

The IHSA has released a modified schedule for the 2020/2021 school year. The football season will start in mid-February says IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson.

 

 

Sports like cross country and golf will be allowed beginning in August. Boys and girls basketball will start in mid- November. Baseball and softball are scheduled to start in May.

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Sox Blank Indians

Yasmani Grandal and Eloy Jimenez hit sacrifice flies and the Chicago White Sox, who couldn't do anything against Zach Plesac for eight innings, scored four runs in the ninth - three charged to ineffective Cleveland closer Brad Hand - to beat the Indians 4-0 on Wednesday night.

 

The Indians got eight terrific innings from Plesac, their No. 5 starter who truck out a career-high 11, shut out the White Sox on three hits and continued a strong run of Cleveland pitching to start the season.

 

But once he left, the White Sox finally put something together against Hand (0-1). The left-hander gave up a walk and hit a batter in the ninth before the sac flies and rookie Luis Robert's two-run single helped Chicago snap a three-game losing streak and salvage one game in the series.

 

White Sox starter Lucas Giolito matched Plesac pitch for pitch through six, holding the Indians scoreless on four hits. It was a nice bounce back by the All-Star right-hander, who gave up a home run in Minnesota on his first pitch of the season and was touched for seven runs in 3 2/3 innings.

 

The White Sox were flustered by Plesac. The right-hander broke a couple bats, made Tim Anderson smash his in frustration near the plate and befuddled Chicago's hitters. But once he was pulled after throwing 97 pitches, the White Sox went to work.

 

Anderson doubled leading off the ninth before Hand walked Yoan Moncada and hit Jose Abreu. Grandal then gave the White Sox all the runs they would need with a liner to right.

 

Cleveland loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth off Alex Colome, who finally closed it out to protect the win for Aaron Bummer (1-0).

 

The White Sox get Thursday off before opening a three-game series at Kansas City on Friday with Dallas Keuchel starting.

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Reds Topple Cubs

Mike Moustakas and Nick Senzel homered in their returns from a COVID-19 scare, Nick Castellanos added a grand slam, and the Cincinnati Reds ended a four-game losing streak by beating the Chicago Cubs 12-7 Wednesday night.

 

Sonny Gray (2-0) extended his major league record to 35 consecutive starts allowing six hits or less. He gave up only Ian Happ's double and fanned 11 as he pitched into the seventh inning.

 

Moustakas and Senzel missed the last three games after feeling sick a day after teammate Matt Davidson went on the injured list because he tested positive for the coronavirus. After passing tests, they returned and helped the Reds to their best run total of the season.

 

Kyle Hendricks (1-1) threw a three-hit shutout against the Brewers in the season opener but couldn't make it through the fifth inning against Cincinnati. Moustakas had a two-run shot in the fourth, and Hendricks left after Eugenio Suarez's bases-loaded single an inning later.

 

Castellanos connected for his fifth career grand slam off Rex Brothers, and Senzel added a solo shot in the 27-minute half-inning.

 

Hendricks gave up seven hits and six runs in 4 1/3 innings, his second straight rough outing at Great American Ball Park. He allowed seven runs in 2 2/3 innings of a 10-1 loss last Aug. 10.

 

Yu Darvish (0-1) is 3-2 in eight career starts against the Reds with a 3.60 ERA. He gave up six hits and three runs in a loss to the Brewers in his first start.

 

Luis Castillo (0-0) is 4-2 in 10 career starts against the Cubs with a 3.56 ERA. In his start against the Tigers on Saturday, he gave up one run and six hits in six innings.

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Twins Blank Cardinals

Eddie Rosario homered, Nelson Cruz hit an RBI double, and Alex Avila, another Minnesota newcomer, added an RBI single. Taylor Rogers pitched a perfect ninth for his first save, and the Twins finished a two-game sweep to improve to 4-1.

 

The 40-year-old Hill needed only 68 pitches to pick up his first victory for the team that signed him this winter with the assumption he'd be ready around midsummer after his recovery from elbow surgery. When the coronavirus pandemic put baseball on pause for four months, Hill was available for the rotation right away.

 

The left-hander even had his start pushed back by four days out of caution for some inflammation in his shoulder, and he was in fine form, allowing two singles and a walk.

 

The Cardinals, after winning their first two games against Pittsburgh, have scored four runs on 15 hits over a three-game losing streak.

 

Daniel Ponce de Leon (0-1) struck out eight over 3 2/3 innings. He gave up two hits, three walks and all three runs as a fill-in for Miles Mikolas, who was declared out for the season for forearm surgery.

 

After an off-day Thursday, the team's second in four days, RHP Jack Flaherty takes the mound on Friday night to begin a three-game series in Milwaukee.

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NBA Returns Tonight

After an almost five-month hiatus, the 2019-20 NBA season is set to resume from the Disney World bubble on Thursday. The first game back will be the Pelicans vs. the Jazz at 6:30 p.m. ET, followed by the Lakers and Clippers at 9 p.m. ET. There will be six more games on Friday, and with that, we'll be off and running. This continues to be a fingers-crossed situation, but so far the NBA's bubble plan appears to be working as well as anyone could've hoped. 

 

Each of the 22 teams in Orlando will play eight "seeding" games that will constitute the close of the regular season, at which point the top seven playoff seeds in each conference will be locked. As for the No. 8 seeds, if the No. 9 seed is within four games in the standings at the conclusion of the eight seeding games, there will be a playoff for the final spot, with the No. 9 seed having to beat the No. 8 seed twice. 

 

Once the playoffs start, it will be business as usual: four rounds, seven-game series. If all goes well, the NBA Finals will conclude within the first two weeks of October. 

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Loaded Field Highlights WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitation

The WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational gets underway on Thursday in Memphis. The field is loaded with star golfers, led by reigning champion Brooks Koepka, who could desperately use a repeat of his masterful 2019 performance to reinvigorate what has otherwise been an uninspiring season for him.

 

Koepka is coming off a missed cut and miserable showing at the 3M Open last week, which marked the second missed cut for him in his last five showings since the PGA Tour restarted. For Koepka, the St. Jude Invitational in 2019 was a cherry on top of a remarkable season -- his eighth top-five finish of the season, and his third win on the tour -- so a chance to revive that groove in 2020 at TPC Southwind could be a turning point for him as the PGA Championship fast approaches.

 

Along with Koepka is a star-studded cadre comprised of the sport's best and brightest competing for a win on tour this week. The field includes new world No. 1 Jon Rahm, who took last week off after winning the Memorial Tournament two weeks ago, as well as major headliners like Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Thomas.

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IHSA Shifts Select Fall Sports to Spring, Spring Sports to be Played During the Summer

A year like no other for high school athletes will continue into 2021.

 

The IHSA announced Wednesday afternoon select sports will be played in the spring of 2021, creating a summer sports season comprised of spring sports.

 

The IHSA is shifting football, boys soccer, and girls volleyball to the spring, a season to begin February 15 and among sports being shifted to the spring will be cross country and girls swimming.

 

The football season will be a seven-game season with a regional postseason at a minimum. Football games will begin March 5 and the spring sports season will open March 1. 

 

There can only be two competitions per week per sport, except for obviously, football which will play one game per week.

 

Fall sports unimpacted by the shift in season include boys and girls golf, girls tennis, boys and girls cross country and girls swimming (both of which will also have a spring sports season).

 

Groups of 50 or less will have to be distanced by at least 30 feet and crowds will have to follow IDPH guidelines and competitions must fall in a COVID region or a conference matchup.

 

Winter sports are left largely intact with the season to begin on November 16 and end February 13, with a state series to be determined at a later date. Competitions can begin November 30 within a COVID region or conference matchup. Schools will again be limited to only two competitions per week and no tournaments will be allowed.

 

Winter sports will include boys basketball, wrestling, boys swimming and diving, dance, boys and girls bowling and girls gymnastics.

 

The temporary summer season will begin May 3 and last until June 26 and will include baseball, softball, track and field, girls soccer, boys volleyball, lacrosse, and boys tennis.

 

Competitions will begin May 17 with a maximum of two competitions per week, baseball and softball can play three if one is a double-header. A state series will be determined at a later date.

 

Spectators for all events will have to follow current IDPH guidance. 

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Gov. Pritzker Lays Out Youth Sports Restrictions

GOVERNOR J-B PRITZKER IS ANNOUNCING NEW GUIDELINES FOR YOUTH AND ADULT RECREATIONAL SPORTS. 

 

THE RESTRICTIONS APPLY TO REC LEAGUES, SCHOOL SPORTS, CLUB SPORTS AND MORE, AND ARE BASED ON THE OF RISK OF SPREADING THE CORONAVIRUS. THE GOVERNOR SAYS HE KNOWS THIS IS HEARTBREAKING FOR KIDS AND THEIR FAMILIES.

 

 

THE GUIDANCE PLACES EACH SPORT IN A RISK CATEGORY OF LOWER, MEDIUM OR HIGHER. FOR EXAMPLE, TENNIS WOULD BE LOWER WHILE FOOTBALL WOULD BE HIGHER. THEN THERE ARE FOUR LEVELS OF PLAY ALLOWED BASED ON CURRENT INFECTION RATES, RANGING FROM ONLY NO-CONTACT PRACTICE ALLOWED TO TOURNAMENT PLAY.

 

 

THE GUIDELINES APPLY TO SCHOOL SPORTS, PARK DISTRICT SPORTS, TRAVELING TEAMS, RECREATIONAL LEAGUES AND MORE. VISIT: CORONAVIRUS DOT ILLINOIS DOT GOV FOR ALL THE DETAILS.

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Hall of Fame, Former Illinois Basketball Coach Lou Henson Dies

Lou Henson, the plain-spoken coach who took New Mexico State and Illinois to the Final Four during a 21-year career that included nearly 800 victories and a feud with fellow Big Ten coach Bob Knight, has died. He was 88.

 

Henson died Saturday at his home in Champaign and he was buried in a private service Wednesday, the Illinois athletic department said.

 

Henson left the game as the winningest coach at both Illinois and New Mexico State, and still ranks fifth all-time among Big Ten coaches in total wins (423) and conference wins (214). In 2015, he was named to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, an honor his fans thought might never come.

 

Henson stressed preparation and discipline. But his best team, the 1988-89 Flyin’ Illini that reached the NCAA semifinals, won with a fluid mix of athleticism and style.

 

Henson was gracious and gregarious, yet also serious. But he made headlines for his contentious dispute with Indiana’s Knight, while his comb-over hair style, the Lou-Do, served as a source of amusement.

 

And for years after Henson left the sidelines, he and his wife, Mary, were widely loved, unofficial ambassadors for both Illinois and New Mexico State and the towns where they’re located, Champaign, Illinois, and Las Cruces, New Mexico.

 

Illinois coach Brad Underwood called Henson’s death “a sad day for the Illinois basketball family and Illini nation.”

 

Henson, a native of Okay, Oklahoma, played college basketball at New Mexico State in the early 1950s. After coaching at Las Cruces High School — where he won three state titles — and Hardin-Simmons University in Texas, Henson took over at New Mexico State in 1966.

 

His Aggies made the NCAA Tournament in each of his first five seasons, including a Final Four appearance in 1970.

 

Wins at New Mexico State led Henson to Illinois in 1975, where he took over a program that had struggled since an NCAA scandal in the 1960s.

 

He wanted to build with players from Illinois, and particularly talent-rich Chicago, but warned that might be a slow process.

 

Henson had to wait for his fifth Illini team to win 20 games. Henson took Illinois to the NCAA Tournament in his sixth season, in 1980-81.

 

He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2003 and coached for a time from a wheelchair on the sidelines. But Henson left coaching for good the following season, finishing with a 779-412 record.

 

Henson dealt with health concerns related to his illness and its treatment for the rest of his life, but he also swam and golfed regularly. He routinely practiced chips in his Champaign front yard before dawn.

 

Henson also remained a presence on both Illinois’ and New Mexico State’s campuses.

 

Henson is survived by his wife, Mary, and daughters Lisa, Lori and Leigh Anne. A son, 35-year-old Lou Henson Jr., died in a 1992 car accident.

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Cubs Outslug Reds

Javy Baez led the way offensively Tuesday night and Alec Mills went six solid innings for an 8-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds that fit Chicago's early pattern.

 

Chicago has won four of its first five games, scoring first in each one. Jason Kipnis' triple - Shogo Akiyama lost it in the sun - sparked the offense. Baez took it from there, emerging from a slow start that included only a pair of singles in the first four games.

 

Mills (1-0) added to Chicago's stretch of impressive starts. Mills, who made four spot starts last season, held the Reds to two hits in six innings. Chicago's starters have a 1.80 ERA and a .131 opponent batting average this season.

 

The Reds got two-run homers by Nick Castellanos - his first since signing a $64 million deal - and Freddy Galvis but fell to 1-4, tied for the worst start in the majors.

 

Baez had a solo shot and a two-run homer as the Cubs pulled away, loudly cheering each hit and celebrating each run in the dugout.

 

Kipnis tripled in the third off Tyler Mahle - Akiyama lost sight of the ball in center field - and scored on Nico Hoerner's single. Kipnis added an RBI single an inning later.

 

Akiyama was in center field for Nick Senzel, who missed his third game because of sickness. The Reds had no update on his condition Tuesday. Senzel remains on the active roster.

 

Matt Davidson went on the injured list Saturday after testing for the coronavirus. Senzel and Mike Moustakas felt sick a day later, and the Reds put Moustakas on the injured list.

 

Castellanos said after the game that Senzel and Moustakas had negative COVID-19 tests and could return for the final game of the series.

 

Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez extended his season-opening slump to 0 for 16 with a strikeout in the sixth and snapped his bat over his right thigh on his way back to the dugout. He doubled his next time up.

 

Rizzo singled in his final at-bat. He's reached base safely in each of his last 11 games at Great American Ball Park.

 

Kris Bryant got a day out of the starting lineup because of a sore left elbow. Ross said the injury isn't serious.

 

Kyle Hendricks (1-0) threw a three-hit shutout against the Brewers, becoming the first Cub since 1974 with a shutout in a season opener. He's 6-3 in 17 career starts against the Reds with a 3.84 ERA.

 

Sonny Gray (1-0) tries to extend his major league record streak of 34 consecutive starts without allowing more than six hits. He's 3-1 in five career starts against the Cubs with a 2.70 ERA.

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IHSA Decision on Fall Sports Due Today

The uncertainty surrounding the fall high school sports season should go away today. 

 

The Illinois High School Association is meeting today and is expected to reveal their plan for at least what the fall season may or may not look like. Governor JB Pritzker says his office isn’t offering up a mandate but he takes pause when he thinks of sports and competitions moving forward.

 

 

The IHSA says they expect to announce their plan in the early afternoon, perhaps around 2 pm.

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Indians Sweep Double-Header With White Sox

Francisco Lindor and Bradley Zimmer each homered and drove in two runs, propelling the Cleveland Indians to a 4-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox in the first game of a doubleheader on Tuesday.

 

Aaron Civale (1-0) struck out a career-high nine and allowed two runs over six innings in his first start of the season. Brad Hand gave up an RBI single to Yasmani Grandal in the ninth before picking up his second save for the Indians, who never trailed.

 

Lindor hit a two-run homer in the first inning and Zimmer had a solo shot in the second as Cleveland took a 3-0 lead off Dylan Cease (0-1). Zimmer added an RBI single in the third to make it 4-1.

 

Tim Anderson, last year's AL batting champ, went 3 for 5 with a third-inning homer, two doubles and all three of Chicago's runs. Jose Abreu's RBI groundout in the fifth scored Anderson, cutting the Indians' lead to 4-2.

 

The White Sox loaded the bases with one out in the eighth against Nick Wittgren, but Leury Garcia hit into a fielder's choice and Zack Collins flied out.

 

Cease gave up four runs and seven hits in 2 1/3 innings. Five relievers combined to blank Cleveland the rest of the way.

 

 

 

Carlos Santana hit a three-run homer, Oscar Mercado had a two-run single and the Cleveland Indians beat the Chicago White Sox 5-3 to complete a doubleheader sweep on Tuesday night.

 

Santana's first inning blast helped spoil the return of White Sox pitcher Carlos Rodon (0-1) from Tommy John surgery. The left-hander gave up five runs in 3 2/3 innings in his first appearance since May 1, 2019.

 

Mercado drove in Franmil Reyes and Domingo Santana in the fourth, extending Cleveland's lead to 5-1. James McCann hit a solo homer for Chicago in the second, and Jose Abreu added another in the sixth off right-hander Adam Plutko (1-0).

 

Abreu, who went 3 for 4, doubled in the eighth and scored on Nicky Delmonico's single that pulled the White Sox within 5-3. Zack Collins followed with a drive to the wall in center, but Mercado made a tremendous leaping catch to end the inning.

 

Rookie Cam Hill earned his first save with a perfect ninth. Plutko struck out four over six innings in his season debut.

 

Carlos Santana and Jose Ramirez had two hits apiece for the Indians, who have won three in a row. Santana reached base in all four plate appearances in the opener and played all 18 innings at first base.

 

White Sox rookie CF Luis Robert raced to straight-away right and stepped in front of RF Leury Garcia to catch a routine fly ball in the fifth inning of the nightcap.

 

Eloy Jimenez (head) took batting practice and ran the bases but was held out of both games. The 23-year-old slugger was hurt Sunday when he crashed into the left-field wall against Minnesota.

 

Lucas Giolito (0-1, 17.18 ERA) allowed seven runs in 3 2/3 innings on opening day against Minnesota. He has thrown 14 2/3 consecutive scoreless frames against the Indians.

 

Shane Bieber (1-0, 0.00 ERA) starts the three-game series finale Wednesday. The 2019 All-Star Game MVP struck out 14 over six scoreless innings against Kansas City on opening day.

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Twins Double Up Cardinals

Josh Donaldson homered and drove in two runs in his Target Field debut with Minnesota, Jorge Polanco hit a two-run shot and the Twins beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-3 in their home opener on Tuesday night.

 

Homer Bailey (1-0) pitched five innings in his first start for the Twins, allowing a two-run homer to Tyler O'Neill in the fifth. Bailey had a 6-0 lead before that thanks in part to Donaldson, the heralded addition to an already potent lineup who signed a four-year, $92 million contract during the winter.

 

Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez (0-1) was pulled after 3 2/3 innings, when the homer by Donaldson ended his night. Polanco's drive capped a five-run second for the Twins, with Max Kepler delivering an RBI single and Donaldson contributing a sacrifice fly.

 

The stumble by Martinez was ill-timed, considering the Cardinals placed Miles Mikolas on the injured list before the game with a tendon injury in his forearm that needs surgery and will knock him out of the rotation for the entire season.

 

Tommy Edman took Trevor May deep in the eighth for the Cardinals, despite 2017 Gold Glove winner Byron Buxton's well-timed jump from the back of the warning track in center field. The ball simply bounced off the bottom of his mitt and onto the grass berm beyond the wall, prompting an incredulous expression from Buxton as he dropped to his knees in disgust over missing the catch.

 

Matt Carpenter, who fouled a pitch off his left knee Sunday, was back in the lineup. He went 2 for 4. 

Daniel Ponce de Leon will take the mound Wednesday night in place of Mikolas. Ponce de Leon has a 3.29 ERA over 82 career innings, including 12 starts.

 

Rich Hill makes his first start with the team in the finale of the two-game series. Hill, who used the pandemic pause to recover from offseason elbow surgery, had his turn pushed back three days for extra rest. The 40-year-old spent the last four seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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Aaron Rodgers Talks Future With Packers

Aaron Rodgers has spent all 15 seasons of his NFL career with the Green Bay Packers. Team management believes he'll still be around for "quite a while." Coach Matt LaFleur expects him to be "the leader of this football team" for "a long time." But none of the public embraces of Rodgers in recent months have swayed the quarterback's own opinion of his future in Green Bay. Speaking with Kyle Brandt for The Ringer on Tuesday, Rodgers made it clear he foresees finishing his career with someone other than the Packers.

 

Rodgers told Brandt when asked whether Green Bay will ultimately decide to move on from him or keep 2020 first-round pick Jordan Love on the bench, quote - "I think that's probably what happens, you know, based on the circumstances around everything. Just look at the facts. They traded up, they drafted him, obviously they like him, they wanna play him."

 

Fresh off a trip to the NFC Championship, the 36-year-old Rodgers is technically under contract with Green Bay through 2023. But considering he expects to play into his 40s, he's aware the Packers will at some point be forced to pick between he and Love, who was taken 26th overall out of Utah State in April.

 

He added quote - "And I get it, I really do. I don't harbor any ill will about it. Like, was I bummed out? Of course. Who wouldn't be? I wanted to play my entire career in Green Bay. I loved the city. I grew up there ... But look, I get it. I see it completely clearly, and I'm not bitter about it. It just kind of is what it is."

 

Rodgers has shared similar thoughts before, saying he was surprised by the Packers' decision to take a QB so early but understands the business side of the NFL. His latest remarks, though, are the closest he's come to all but offering an early farewell to Green Bay.

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Chargers DE Bosa Gets Mega-Deal

Defensive end Joey Bosa has agreed to a contract extension that will make him the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL.

 

Two people familiar with the deal said the five-year extension is worth $135 million, which includes $78 million guaranteed at signing and $102 million overall. 

 

ESPN was the first to report on the deal.

 

The deal eclipses the five-year, $125-million extension that Cleveland’s Myles Garrett signed two weeks ago. That contract included $100 million guaranteed for Garrett, a defensive end who was the top pick in 2017.

 

The Chargers confirmed Bosa has agreed to the extension but did not disclose financial terms.

 

Bosa was entering the fifth and final season of his rookie contract. There was some thought that he would hold out if an agreement had not been reached, but he reported to camp on Tuesday.

 

The 6-foot-5, 280-pound Bosa was the third overall pick in the 2016 draft and has been selected to two Pro Bowls. He tied for second in the AFC last season with 11.5 sacks and has double-digit sacks in three of his four seasons. He was third among defensive ends and second in the AFC with 60 tackles, including 16 for loss. Bosa also had 25 quarterback hits and forced a fumble.

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Iowa Pauses Basketball Workouts; Ohio State to Allow Limited Tailgating

Iowa has paused its men’s basketball workouts for 14 days after two players tested positive for COVID-19, the school announced Tuesday.

 

Iowa’s protocol requires individuals who test positive to be in isolation and for people who might have been exposed to someone with the virus to be quarantined.

 

Last week, Michigan State suspended football workouts and players began a 14-day quarantine after a staff member and player tested positive.

 

 

Ohio State will limit home crowds to about 20,000 and prohibit tailgating if the football season is played this fall.

 

Fans inside Ohio Stadium will be required to wear masks and observe social distancing to help stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Concessions will be limited.

 

The traditional “Skull Session” pregame pep rallies at St. John’s Arena will not be held.

 

Athletic director Gene Smith informed season-ticket holders of the new rules in a letter Tuesday, first reported by Cleveland.com.

 

The guidelines limit capacity of the 105,000-seat stadium to 20%.

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White Sox, Indians Postponed by Rain

Monday's series opener between the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians has been postponed by rain.

 

The teams will make up the game as part of a traditional doubleheader on Tuesday, starting at 3:40 p.m.

 

A severe storm pushed through Northeast Ohio and forced both teams indoors for batting practice at Progressive Field before the game was called about 75 minutes before the scheduled first pitch.

 

Cleveland's Aaron Civale will start Tuesday's first game against Chicago's Dylan Cease. Adam Plutko will start the second game for the Indians against Carlos Rodon.

 

Before Monday's game was postponed, the White Sox announced manager Rick Renteria will be kept away from the team pending the results of medical tests. Renteria woke up Monday with ''a slight cough and nasal congestion'' and the team had him taken to a hospital.

 

Renteria has tested negative and is expected to rejoin the team in time for Tuesday's games.

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Cubs Outlast Reds

Anthony Rizzo homered for the third time as Chicago built a seven-run lead, and the Cubs let most of it slip away before Jeremy Jeffress closed out an 8-7 victory over a Cincinnati Reds team coping with coronavirus uncertainty.

 

Down 8-1 in the seventh inning, the Reds cut it to 8-5 on Joey Votto's two-run single. Craig Kimbrel walked the bases loaded with one out in the ninth, and then hit Freddy Galvis and walked Tyler Stephenson to cut it to 8-7.

 

Rizzo scored three times as the Cubs won for the third time in four games. The Reds dropped to 1-3, an especially disappointing start after their $165 million offseason makeover.

 

The Cubs arrived at a ballpark that had a brush with COVID-19. Reds infielder Matt Davidson went on the injured list Saturday after testing positive for the coronavirus, and teammates Mike Moustakas and Nick Senzel were sick a day later. The Reds were awaiting further results Monday.

 

Wade Miley hit Kris Bryant with his second pitch, walked Rizzo, and gave up Willson Contreras' double. Steven Souza Jr. doubled home two more in his Cubs debut, and David Bote's single made it 4-0 after only 28 pitches.

 

Javier Baez doubled home another run in the second, and Miley left after retiring only five of the 13 batters he faced. Rizzo hit a solo homer in the sixth off Tejay Antone.

 

Lester (1-0) handed a 6-0 lead over to the Cubs' bullpen, having thrown 76 pitches on a muggy night. Jesse Winker got the Reds' first hit an inning later, an RBI single off Rowan Wick.

 

Stephenson homered in his first major league plate appearance, the third in Reds history to do so and the first since Ted Tappe on Sept. 14, 1950, at Brooklyn.

 

The start of the game was delayed an hour and 47 minutes as a storm moved through.

 

Alec Mills makes his third career start against the Reds. He got his first career victory against Cincinnati at Sept. 16.

 

Tyler Mahle starts in place of Anthony DeSclafani. Mahle is 2-1 in five career starts against the Cubs with a 4.93 ERA.

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Pirates Top Cardinals

Pittsburgh's Derek Shelton staged baseball's first major, socially distanced umpire argument, then got his first victory as a big-league manager as the Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-1 on Sunday.

 

Colin Moran and Jose Osuna homered, and Mitch Keller pitched five solid innings for the Pirates.

Shelton came out to argue with plate umpire Jordan Baker in the third inning after pitcher Derek Holland was ejected from the dugout for arguing balls and strikes.

 

Shelton pulled a gaiter over his face as he left the dugout, and Baker pulled a face mask out of his pocket and held it to his face as Shelton argued from about six feet away. Baker let Shelton say his peace, and the first-year skipper was not ejected.

 

Pittsburgh avoided being swept and beat the Cardinals for just the second time in their last 14 meetings.

 

Keller (1-0) faced St. Louis for the first time in his career. He gave up one run, two hits and three walks while striking out three. His only blemish came when Kolten Wong scored on Tommy Edman's infield single in the third inning.

 

Cardinals starter Dakota Hudson (0-1) gave up four runs, including two homers, in 4 1/3 innings. Hudson lost for the first time in four career starts against the Pirates, and it was his first loss against an NL Central opponent after winning his previous five starts in 2019.

 

Pittsburgh scored three runs in the fourth. Moran homered with two outs, and that was followed by Phillip Evans' infield single and a two-run shot to center by Osuna for a 3-1 lead.

 

Jacob Stallings scored on a sacrifice fly from Josh Bell to make it 4-1 in the fifth. They made it 5-1 in the eighth when Bell scored from first on a Phillip Evans double.

 

Carlos Martinez (4-2, 3.17 ERA, 24 saves in 2019) makes his first start for the Cardinals since July 30, 2018, Tuesday in Minnesota against the Twins to start a seven-game road trip. Martinez is 0-2 in his career against the Twins.

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Cubs Power Past Brewers

Tyler Chatwood pitched three-hit ball over six innings, Willson Contreras homered and the Chicago Cubs beat the Milwaukee Brewers 9-1 on Sunday to take two of three in their opening series.

 

Chatwood (1-0) gave the Cubs just the sort of outing they were looking for after working mostly out of the bullpen last season. He struck out eight and walked two in an impressive start for a pitcher who struggled with his control his first two years in Chicago.

 

Contreras smacked an RBI double in the Cubs' four-run fourth and a long solo homer in the seventh. Ian Happ added a two-run drive in the eighth and Anthony Rizzo belted a solo shot one out later. It was the second homer for both Happ and Rizzo.

 

A day after things got testy between the two teams, the piped-in noise seemed loud enough to drown out any chatter between the dugouts. But the Brewers, who broke through against Yu Darvish in an 8-3 win after they were shut out by Kyle Hendricks on opening day, couldn't get much going.

 

Leading 1-0, the Cubs sent 10 batters to the plate in the fourth. The first six reached safely, starting with Kyle Schwarber's walk and Contreras' double.

 

Freddy Peralta then walked Jason Heyward before Corey Knebel gave up RBI singles to Nico Hoerner, Victor Caratini and Happ, making it 5-0.

 

Chatwood didn't allow a hit until back-to-back singles by Ben Gamel and Orlando Arcia with two out in the fifth that cut the lead to four.

 

Peralta (0-1) was charged with four runs and three hits in three-plus innings.

 

Jon Lester — Chicago's opening-day starter last year — makes his first appearance as the Cubs open a four-game series at Cincinnati. LHP Wade Miley makes his Reds debut after struggling down the stretch with Houston last season.

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White Sox Hope to Get Moncada Back In Cleveland; Cardinals Hope OF Bader To Return This Week

White Sox infielder Yoán Moncada, who missed the start of summer camp due to COVID-19, got Sunday off for rest but is expected to play all three games in Cleveland, manager Rick Renteria said. 

 

Additionally, outfielder Nomar Mazara, who went on the 10-day IL Wednesday for an undisclosed reason, is "progressing well," Renteria said.

 

Cardinals outfielder Harrison Bader was out of the starting lineup after being hit by two pitches Saturday. Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said it felt like the right time just to give Bader a break. "Harrison's fine. You know, he's a tough dude." 

 

Releiver Giovanny Gallegos (undisclosed illness) is expected to be added the roster for Tuesday's game in Minnesota.

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Robert Hits First Big League HR But Twins Blast White Sox in Series Finale

Jake Cave hit a grand slam, Nelson Cruz homered twice and Kenta Maeda was strong in his debut with his new team, helping the Minnesota Twins beat the Chicago White Sox 14-2 on Sunday.

 

Cruz added two doubles and drove in seven runs for the reigning AL Central champion Twins, who won two of three. Maeda (1-0), a Japanese right-hander who was traded in February from the Los Angeles Dodgers, allowed two runs and struck out six in five innings.

 

Highly touted rookie Luis Robert hit his first career home run and right-hander Reynaldo López (0-1) and left fielder Eloy Jiménez exited early with injuries for the White Sox.

 

Cave hit his second career grand slam in the first. Jiménez crashed into the fence chasing the ball and left the following inning because he was light-headed.

 

Cruz hit a three-run double before Eddie Rosario doubled and Luis Arraez singled to extend the Twins' lead to 9-0 in the second inning.

 

Cruz smacked a 435-foot solo shot in the fourth and added a three-run drive in the eighth for his 35th career multi-homer game. He went 7 for 13 with 10 RBIs and three home runs in the series.

Marwin Gonzalez added a solo shot in the ninth for the Twins, who hit a major league-record 307 homers last season.

 

Robert hit a first-pitch, two-run homer off Maeda to cut the Twins' lead to 10-2 in the fifth.

 

López exited with right shoulder tightness after recording just two outs, throwing 38 pitches and allowing four runs. Lopez was 0-3 with a 9.60 ERA in three starts against the Twins last season.

Dylan Cease, who was 4-7 with a 5.79 ERA last season, starts at Cleveland to open a three-game series Monday. RHP Aaron Civale pitches for the Indians.

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Bears Trade TE To Dolphins

The Chicago Bears collected tight ends like no other this offseason, most notably adding Jimmy Graham via free agency and Cole Kmet through the draft. Now, with 2020 training camp right around the corner, they've narrowed the competition. As reported by ProFootballTalk, the team has traded former second-round pick Adam Shaheen to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for a conditional 2021 sixth-rounder.

 

Shaheen's exit isn't necessarily a surprise. The writing was on the wall for the fourth-year veteran even after the club's release of former prized free agent Trey Burton in April, namely because of the big investments in Graham and Kmet, who was selected 43rd overall out of Notre Dame. The trade does, however, mark an official end to a disappointing run for Shaheen, who entered the NFL as a hot prospect out of Division-II Ashland University and was even once referred to as "Baby Gronk."

 

The 6-foot-6 reserve scored on his first career catch and finished his rookie season with three touchdowns, but injuries repeatedly prevented him from ascending the depth chart. A chest issue sidelined him after several weeks starting for the injured Zach Miller in 2017, and the following two seasons were even more limited. Slated to split time with Burton in 2018, he went down with a pair of injuries in the preseason, landed on injured reserve and finished the year with just five catches in six games. His 2019 wasn't much better; he appeared in just eight games, totaling 74 yards and zero scores.

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President Trump Backs Off Commitment To Throw Out First Pitch at Yankees Home Opener

President Donald Trump won’t throw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium next month after all.

In a tweet Sunday, Trump blamed the turn of events on his “strong focus” on the coronavirus, vaccines and the economy. “We will make it later in the season!” he promised.

 

Just three days ago, Trump revealed during a White House briefing that he’d throw the first pitch at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 15. Trump made the announcement on Major League Baseball’s opening day Thursday as former Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera watched from the briefing room.

 

After months of playing down its seriousness, Trump recently began starting to show the public that he is taking the virus seriously. He has resumed holding televised briefings about virus developments and last week canceled Republican convention events that had been set for late August in Jacksonville, Florida. Florida is among several states where the virus is raging.

 

But on Saturday, the White House tweeted a photo of Trump and former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre after they played golf at Trump’s private club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

 

With baseball teams playing in largely empty stadiums, Trump wouldn’t have had to contend with crowd reaction to his appearance at the Bronx stadium. Some of Trump’s previous appearances at major sporting events have drawn mixed responses.

 

But another issue could have been tricky for Trump, who has been very critical of athletes taking a knee during the national anthem before games.

 

The Yankees and the Washington Nationals took a knee before the season’s opening game last Thursday in Washington, then stood for the national anthem. New York also had two players kneel for the national anthem Saturday, Aaron Hicks and Giancarlo Stanton. Both have said they will continue to kneel during the anthem throughout the season.

 

During an interview last Thursday night with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Trump said he would take part in the prestigious tradition of throwing out the first pitch for the Yankees, but said he hoped players would stand during the national anthem.

 

“It’s great that baseball is back, and other sports are back. I hope everyone’s standing; I hope they’re not going to be kneeling when the flag is raised. I don’t like to see that,” Trump said.

 

Some New York City politicians, including Mayor Bill de Blasio and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., had complained loudly about Trump throwing the Yankees’ first pitch.

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Knicks Closing in on Deal With Former Bulls Coach

Tom Thibodeau is coming back to the New York Knicks, who are still seeking the success they enjoyed when he was an assistant two decades ago.

 

The Knicks are finishing a deal to make Thibodeau their coach, a person with knowledge of the details said Saturday.

 

No contract has been signed but a deal is expected to be announced next week, the person told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because negotiations were ongoing.

 

ESPN first reported that the Knicks and Thibodeau were completing a five-year contract.

 

When they do, the 2011 NBA Coach of the Year in Chicago will become the 13th different person to coach the Knicks since Jeff Van Gundy resigned early in the 2001-02 season.

 

Thibodeau was an assistant under Van Gundy, who led the Knicks to the 1999 NBA Finals and into the postseason in every season he was there. New York has reached the playoffs just three times since Van Gundy’s departure.

 

The Knicks went 21-45 this season, missing the playoffs for a seventh straight year. Mike Miller finished the season as interim coach after David Fizdale was fired 22 games into the season.

 

New Knicks President Leon Rose then interviewed a number of candidates before choosing Thibodeau from a field that included Jason Kidd, former Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson and Miller, who impressed Rose while going 17-27 before the season was suspended in March.

 

San Antonio assistants Will Hardy and Ime Udoka were also candidates. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said both will get their opportunities but praised the choice of Thibodeau.

 

Thibodeau is regarded as a demanding coach who is one of the top defensive minds in the game. He devised the defense that carried the Boston Celtics to the 2008 NBA championship as an assistant before becoming Chicago’s coach in 2010.

 

He guided the Bulls to a 62-20 record as a rookie, the first of five straight postseason berths even as the team battled constant injuries to star guard Derrick Rose and others.

 

Overall, he is 352-246 as a head coach. He led the Minnesota Timberwolves to the postseason in 2018 but was fired the next year during a rocky season that began with star Jimmy Butler asking to be traded.

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Bears Cancel Season Ticket Packages Due to Coronavirus

The Chicago Bears canceled season ticket packages on Friday because they’re not sure how many fans — if any — will be allowed at Soldier Field due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Team President Ted Phillips cited “a need to reduce the seating capacity to build a plan that allows for social distancing” in a letter to season ticket holders. He said the Bears “continue to work closely” with city and state officials as well as public health experts.

 

Season ticket holders can get refunds for this year or have their payments credited toward 2021.

 

The NFL and players’ union agreed to cancel all preseason games. If fans are allowed to attend regular-season games, no multi-game packages will be sold. Single-game tickets will be available to season holders only, with first priority given to personal seat license holders.

 

Though stadiums in Illinois are allowed to operate at 20% capacity with social distancing and face coverings required, Chicago has not given the green light for teams to allow fans at games.

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IESA Cancels Fall Jr. High Sports Season

Junior high school students in Illinois will not have a chance to compete in fall sports.

 

The IESA Board of Directors held a special meeting on Thursday to discuss fall sports and whether those activities could be held in accordance with the current limitations placed on schools and activities by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

 

After much discussion, the Board unanimously approved to cancel the regular season and IESA state series in the sports of boys and girls golf, boys baseball, girls softball, and boys and girls cross-country for the 2020-21 school year. 

 

There are no plans to try and re-schedule the activities or conduct them later in the school year in part due to if and when high schools in Illinois play their contests. 

 

In a Friday statement, the IESA said quote - "We know that there will be many people within the school system who will applaud this decision and there will be many who will be strongly opposed. At the forefront of the Board's decision is that the activities must be conducted within the current limitations that have been placed on the schools by the IDPH. In particular, the mandate that there can be no physical contact between athletes and that students must be socially distanced (6 ft. of separation) makes the administration and conduct of games and contests very difficult and in some cases impossible to adhere to the mandates."

 

Adding quote - "While there are plenty of youth league baseball and softball teams playing games and tournaments this summer, many are not adhering to the same stringent guidelines. Because summer leagues and travel ball are taking place, this may make the decision of the IESA Board of Directors seem odd. The difference is that schools will be held to the IDPH mandates and the youth summer contests are not. It would make little sense for IESA to move forward with these activities that would require schools to be in direct conflict with mandates by state agencies that have regulatory control over the schools."

 

IHSA officials will meet next week with perhaps a permanent decision on the future of fall sports at the high school level.

 

The IESA added, quote - "This decision is not the end of the world. It is not the news that most students and parents want. At the end of the day, we work with junior high and middle school students. They are not professional athletes; they are not college athletes; they are not even high school athletes. They will not be missing out on any college scholarships. These are mainly 12-14-year-old kids who will have many more opportunities to participate. Activities, despite their importance in the development of students, can never take precedence over the health and safety of those same students as well as the health and safety of contest officials, game management, and parents/fans who attend contests."

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Talks Continue for High School Sports in Illinois

August 10th is the tentative official start of fall high school sports in Illinois. But will those practices start on time? It’s a question that many have right now. 

 

The Executive Director of the Illinois High School Association says a decision needs to be made soon, but it’s not as easy as it seems to just pick up fall sports and shift them to the spring. Craig Anderson says he worries about all the spring sports athletes that missed out on an entire season last year. So just switching seasons carries a burden.

 

 

The IHSA Board is scheduled to meet next Wednesday.

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Baseball is Back!

In his five-plus seasons as a mainstay of the Chicago Cubs' starting rotation, Kyle Hendricks has accomplished quite a bit. He's pitched Game 7 of the World Series, won an ERA title and never finished a season with a WHIP over 1.19.

 

But Friday night's season opener with the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field will mark a first in what so far has been a nice career.

First-year manager David Ross tapped Hendricks to make the Opening Night start, breaking Jon Lester's string of three straight Opening Day starts for the Cubs.

 

Coming off an 11-10 season in which he posted a 3.46 ERA, Hendricks earned the coveted assignment based on his apparent readiness to go deep into a game. During an intrasquad game on July 14, Hendricks needed just 70 pitches to negotiate 6 1/3 innings.

 

By contrast, Yu Darvish, who will take the ball on Saturday, used 60 pitches to get through only 3 2/3 innings. With starting pitchers' endurance a big concern in this shortened season after an extended break due to COVID-19 concerns, Hendricks' efficiency and potential to go deep into a game was attractive to Ross.

 

While Chicago tries to take its first step towards reaching the playoffs after missing last year, Milwaukee eyes a third straight postseason appearance. The Brewers figure to score a lot of runs with a power-packed lineup but must figure out a way to get good starts from a largely unproven rotation.

 

Manager Craig Counsell will hand the ball to Brandon Woodruff for the opener. The hard-throwing right-hander enjoyed a breakout season last year, although it was chopped up by injury. Woodruff went 11-3 with a 3.62 ERA over 22 starts and 121 2/3 innings, whiffing 143 and posting a solid 1.14 WHIP.

 

Brewers star Christian Yelich has won the past two NL batting titles while clubbing 80 homers during the span. He was MVP in 2018 and finished second last season when his campaign was cut short by a fractured kneecap on Sept. 10.

 

 

 

Pitchers who finished strong last season will make the Opening Day starts when the St. Louis Cardinals host the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday.

 

Jack Flaherty (11-8, 2.75 ERA in 2019) was the Cardinals' clear choice to launch the season at Busch Stadium. He became the staff ace last season while going 7-2 with a 0.91 ERA in 15 second-half outings.

With pitchers Chris Archer and Jameson Taillon sidelined by season-ending injuries, Joe Musgrove (11-12, 4.44 ERA last season) got the opening nod from new Pirates manager Derek Shelton.

Musgrove made some mechanical adjustments with his delivery late last season. He went 3-0 with a 2.89 ERA and 32 strikeouts in his last five starts.

 

Flaherty was 1-0 with a 0.60 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 15 innings against the Pirates last season. He is 4-1 with a 1.84 ERA in seven career starts against them.

 

Pittsburgh's Kevin Newman (2-for-6, double, RBI) and Josh Bell (3-for-12, two doubles, a homer, two runs and two RBIs) have enjoyed some career success against Flaherty.

 

Musgrove is looking to reverse his fortunes against the Cardinals. He went 0-4 with a 10.00 ERA against them last season, and his career numbers (1-6, 7.05 ERA in seven starts) aren't much better.

 

St. Louis' Paul Goldschmidt (6-for-12, a homer, six walks, five runs, three RBIs, 1.500 on-base-plus-slugging percentage), Dexter Fowler (6-for-13, two doubles, triple, homer, three walks, four runs, six RBIs, 1.545 OPS) and Yadier Molina (3-for-5, two doubles, three runs, RBI) have hit Musgrove hard.

The Pirates are opening the season without outfielder Gregory Polanco, closer Keone Kela and third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes. Each tested positive for COVID-19. Infielder Kevin Kramer (hip surgery) and catcher Luke Maile (broken finger) are out for the season.

 

Kyle Crick could close games in Kela's absence.

 

The Cardinals are missing utility player Brad Miller (sore heel), late-inning reliever Giovanny Gallegos (delayed camp arrival), closer Jordan Hicks (medical opt-out) and pitchers Genesis Cabrera and Alex Reyes, who missed much of summer camp after positive COVID-19 tests.

Newcomer Kwang Hyun Kim will open the season as the Cardinals' closer. He struck out the side in the ninth inning of a 6-3 exhibition victory over the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday.

 

 

 

Prolific power steered the Minnesota Twins to an American League Central division title last season, with eight players blasting at least 20 home runs as the club smacked a major league record 307.

 

Minnesota scored 51 percent of its franchise-record 939 runs via the long ball in 2019, and then added slugging third baseman Josh Donaldson in the offseason.

While the Twins realize they won't come close to replicating those offensive numbers during a 2020 campaign shortened to 60 games due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the club nonetheless remains confident about its versatility. Beginning with Friday's season opener against the White Sox in Chicago, the Twins know they will need that trait in their bid to repeat as division champs.

 

Minnesota earned its first 100-win season since 1965 a year ago behind a 50-26 record within the division. That included a 13-6 mark against the White Sox, whose fusion of offseason veteran additions such as catcher Yasmani Grandal and left-hander Dallas Keuchel with a budding young core featuring reigning AL batting champion Tim Anderson has the team primed to unseat the Twins.

 

White Sox ace right-hander Lucas Giolito (14-9, 3.41 ERA in 2019) is set to oppose Twins righty Jose Berrios (14-8, 3.68) on Friday. Giolito enters with a 4-5 record and 4.58 ERA in 10 career starts against the Twins, while Berrios is 11-2 with a 2.40 ERA in 14 career starts against Chicago.

 

The White Sox toted plenty of confidence into spring training, and that hardly waned during the nearly four-month hiatus prompted by the pandemic.

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Baseball Playoffs to Be Expanded

Major League Baseball and the players’ union agreed Thursday to expand the playoffs from 10 teams to 16 for the pandemic-delayed season, a decision that makes it likely teams with losing records will reach the postseason.

 

The agreement was reached hours before the season opener between the New York Yankees and World Series champion Washington Nationals. The deal applied only for 2020 and included a surprise benefiting the Yankees the most: Collection of baseball’s luxury tax will be suspended this year, a person familiar with the details told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because no announcement was made.

 

Sixteen of the 30 teams will advance to a best-of-three first round: the first- and second-place teams in every division and the next two clubs by winning percentage in each league. Those winners move on to the best-of-five Division Series, where the usual format resumes. The final four teams are in best-of-seven League Championship Series, and the pennant winners meet in the best-of-seven World Series.

 

In each league, the division winners will be seeded 1-3, the second-place teams 4-6 and the teams with the next two-best records 7-8, which means up to four teams in one division could be in the postseason. The first round pairings will be 1 vs. 8, 2-7, 3-6 and 4-5.

 

The higher seed in the first round will host all games from Sept. 29 to Oct. 2.

 

Tiebreaker games, which have produced famous home runs by Bobby Thomson and Bucky Dent, are eliminated. Ties would be broken by head-to-head record, followed by better record within a team’s division and record in the last 20 games within the division. If still tied, the standard would be last 21 games within a division, then 22, etc.

 

Teams could finish the regular season with differing games played; regular-season postponements would be made up at the discretion of Manfred.

 

As part of the deal, MLB agreed to guarantee a postseason pool that would be $50 million: $20 million if the first round is played and $10 million for each additional round. The postseason pool usually comprises ticket money from the postseason, but baseball anticipates playing the entire year in empty ballparks due to the coronavirus.

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Hamlin Holds Off Keselowski In Kansas City

Denny Hamlin hung around the front of the pack all night, avoiding trouble that cost several playoff contenders in the final stage, then breezed past Kevin Harvick for the lead in the closing laps. Hamlin then held off charging Brad Keselowski for his NASCAR Cup Series-leading fifth victory of the season and 42nd overall. He also won for the second straight time at Kansas Speedway on Thursday night.

Hamlin had struggled the past three weeks, failing to finish better than 12th. But after showing good speed early, his Joe Gibbs Racing team made all the right calls during a crash-filled final stage. Keselowski finished second and Martin Truex Jr. came across third. Harvick wound up sliding to fourth and Erik Jones capped a big day for the Gibbs boys in fifth.

William Byron led the race as he chased his first career race, but he slide backward after a late caution and wound up finishing 10th. Alex Bowman also made a charge to the lead but finished behind Aric Almirola and Cole Custer in eighth.

 

Truex may have had the fastest car on the track by the end of the night, which began with temperatures in the mid-90s and a heat index approaching triple digits. But he ran out of time trying chase down his teammate.

 

Joey Logano led early before his night really ended in disaster — and took some playoff contenders with him.

 

His problems began when a tire got loose on pit road during the first stage, sending him to the back.

 

He was working his way forward early in the final stage when his left front tire went down, sending Logano into the outside wall. Matt DiBenedetto and Jimmie Johnson, the last two drivers on the good side of the playoff cut line, sustained heavy damage as the field checked up. So did Austin Dillon, who was the surprise winner last weekend at Texas.

 

Kyle Busch finally had something go right during his frustrating season. The defending series champ, whose only win in his last 41 starts in the Cup Series came in last year’s finale, held off Hamlin and Truex to win his first stage this year.

 

It was another race between teammates on Stage 2. This time, it was Keselowski getting around Team Penske teammate Ryan Blaney — who was dominant at Texas but failed to win — on the penultimate lap to take the stage.

 

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s challenging year continued when he went to the garage early with a mechanical problem. It also was a rough night for Bubba Wallace, who spun early in the race coming out of Turn 4 and then plowed into Matt Kenseth when he spun in the middle of the same turn early in the final stage.

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Richy Werenski Surges to Top of Leaderboard, DJ Withdraws

Richy Werenskimade a short birdie putt on the par-5 18th for an 8-under 63 and the first-round lead at the 3M Open from TPC Minnesota. 

 

Dustin Johnson withdrew because of a back injury after a 78.

 

Werenski broke a tie with Michael Thompson with his ninth and last birdie on the warm, windy afternoon at the TPC Twin Cities. Defending champion Matthew Wolff, Tony Finau, Nick Watney, Ryan Moore, Xinjun Zhang and Max Homa were tied for third at 65. There’s an 11-way tie behind them at 5 under.

 

Thompson, who entered the week in 151st place in the FedEx Cup standings, enjoyed a bogey-free round, also thanks to the accuracy of his short game.

 

Johnson’s departure further depleted the star power of the second edition of the event that landed right after the Memorial and right before the World Golf Championship and the PGA Championship following the pandemic-forced reshuffling of the schedule. Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood and Finau were the only entrants in the top 25 of the world ranking. This tournament, like all the others since golf’s restart, is being played without spectators.

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NFL, NLFPA Has Return to Play Agreement, Scraps Preseason Games

The NFL Players Association has agreed to the league’s plan to drop all preseason games for the 2020 season, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press.

 

The union also agreed to a 80-player roster limit for training camp, instead of the usual 90.

According to reports, union leadership told players about the preseason agreement during a conference call on Tuesday.

 

The agreement between the union and the league came a day after league proposed scrapping the preseason because of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

The players’ association originally had sought no preseason games and the league had reduced the exhibition schedule to two games. But on Monday evening, the NFL said it would eliminate those preseason contests and also would offer players 18 days for acclimation, up from seven days.

 

Also on Monday, the league said players will be tested daily for the coronavirus for at least the first two weeks of training camp, per the league’s new testing protocols.

 

Rookies have started reporting this week and all players are expected to report next week.

 

The league and the NFLPA already finalized protocols regarding team travel, media, and treatment response, and updated the facilities protocol to specifically address training camp based on recommendations from a joint committee of doctors, trainers and strength coaches formed by the league and players’ union.

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NHL MVP Finalists Announced

The NHL Hart Trophy voters agreed with NHL players in selecting Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl, Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon and Artemi Panarin of the New York Rangers as MVP award finalists.

The finalists were announced by the NHL on Tuesday, and determined by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. The three were also named finalists for the Ted Lindsay Trophy, honoring the league’s most outstanding player as voted on by players.

 

The 24-year-old Draisaitl is seeking to become the first German-born player to win the Hart after leading the NHL with 110 points (43 goals, 67 assists). He registered a point in 56 of 71 games and also led the league in assists and 44 power-play points.

 

Draisaitl is a first-time finalist, and has an opportunity to become the fourth Oilers player to win the Hart, and first since teammate Connor McDavid in 2017.

 

MacKinnon, who is also a Lady Byng finalist for sportsmanship this year, played a key role in helping the Avalanche overcome a rash of injuries to finish second in the Western Conference standings.

 

The 24-year-old Canadian had 35 goals and 58 assists for 93 points, which ranked fifth in the league, and 43 more than his closest teammate.

 

MacKinnon finished second in the Hart voting in 2018, and is in position to become the franchise’s third player to win the honor, and first since Peter Forsberg in 2003.

 

Panarin had a breakout year in his first season in New York, finishing fourth in the NHL with a team-leading and career-best 95 points (32 goals, 63 assists). The Rangers had a 34-16-4 record when he registered a point, and finished 37-28-5, marking a five-win improvement over the previous season despite playing 12 fewer games.

 

The 28-year-old Russian was the NHL rookie of the year with Chicago in 2016, and a first-time Hart finalist. Panarin has an opportunity to become the fifth Rangers player to win the honor, and first since Mark Messier in 1992.

 

The winners will be revealed at a yet-to-be-determined date during the conference finals, which are scheduled to be held in September as the NHL is set to resume play on Aug. 1 with an expanded 24-team playoff format.

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Governor asked about high school sports in the fall

Will there be high school sports competitions this fall in Illinois?

 

The Illinois High School Sports Association says they are going to defer to the IDPH and Governor’s office when it comes to the determination on getting back to competition. Governor JB Pritzker says he has tracked a study in Europe where there is concern about young athletes taking COVID-19 back to their families.

 

 

A few states have already moved contact sports, including football to the spring.

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Downstate AD puts return to play proposals together for Illinois high school sports

A downstate athletic director puts pen to paper and prepares “return to play” proposals for high school sports in Illinois. The calendar would look different and some seasons would switch. Mark Briggs from Roxana High School admits his plans may not be perfect, but says they serve as a good starting point for discussions.

 


One of Briggs’ proposals would have baseball and softball played in the fall with football played from April through July and high school wrestling from February through April.

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Pacers G Brogdon Explains Why He Wears Mask

Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon, one of the NBA players who tested positive for COVID-19, says he has been wearing a mask at practice for two reasons: To help get in shape and to make his teammates comfortable he won’t spread the disease.

 

Brogdon was a late arrival in Orlando, Florida, after announcing June 24 that he had a positive test. He returned to practice for the first time Wednesday and intends to wear the mask until games start.

 

Coach Nate McMillan said the decision is entirely up to Brogdon.

 

Brogdon also is coming back from a torn quad muscle in his thigh he suffered March 4. The Pacers had listed Brogdon as week to week when the season was suspended in mid-March.

 

He also says he intends to carry a message on the back of his jersey though he declined to say what it will say.

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Moncada Returns to Sox Camp

Star third baseman Yoán Moncada rejoined the Chicago White Sox after missing the start of their summer camp because he contracted the coronavirus.

 

Moncada revealed that he tested positive for COVID-19 on a video conference call with reporters. He said he didn’t experience any major symptoms but it was a difficult time for him and a little scary.

 

He hopes to be ready for opening day July 24.

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Finau Surges Late To Take Lead at Memorial

Tiger Woods opened with a 10-foot birdie and there was silence. He finished with a 15-foot birdie for a 1-under 71, leaving him five shots behind Tony Finau in the Memorial at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, and he walked to the side of the green and stood with Rory McIlroy, chatting briefly before they nudged their elbows toward one another without touching.

 

Finau finished with seven birdies over his last 10 holes on a Muirfield Village course that was faster and tougher than last week in the Workday Charity Open. That gave him a one-shot lead over Ryan Palmer.

 

The greens are being replaced after the Memorial, so there’s no concern about them dying out. They were 2 feet faster on the Stimpmeter, the wind was strong and often changed direction without notice. That showed in the scoring. Only seven players broke 70, compared with 35 rounds in the 60s for the first round last week.

 

This is the first itme in 63 years the PGA Tour has played consecutive weeks on the same course.

Bryson DeChambeau hit one drive 423 yards with the wind at his back, leaving him 46 yards to the pin on No. 1, a hole where he recalls hitting 5-iron in the past. That was a rare birdie. With wedges in his hand, he still managed only a 73.

 

DeChambeau brought the pop with five more tee shots at 350 yards or longer, two of them over 400 yards. Some of his tee shots wound up in places where players normally hit into the trees or rough and can’t reach the green. But he failed to capitalize with short clubs in his hands.

 

He hit a wedge into a bunker on the 14th and his chip went over the green, which would not have happened last week. He had to make a 6-footer to save bogey. He also was a victim to the swirling wind at the worse time — a 7-iron from 230 yards over the water to the par-5 fifth. The wind died and he never had a chance, leading to bogey.

 

Collin Morikawa won at Muirfield Village last week at 19-under 269, beating Justin Thomas in a playoff. Morikawa opened with a 76. Thomas, who didn’t make a bogey until his 55th hole last week, had two bogeys after two holes. He shot 74.

 

Dustin Johnson shot 80, his highest score on the PGA Tour in more than four years. Rickie Fowler shot 81.

 

U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland and Brendan Steele each shot 68, with Jon Rahm among those at 69.

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Cardinals Closer Hicks Opts Out of Shortened MLB Season

Hard-throwing St. Louis Cardinals reliever Jordan Hicks has opted out of playing this season, citing pre-existing health concerns.

 

The 23-year-old Hicks was diagnosed in high school as having Type 1 diabetes.

 

Hicks, who routinely tops 100 mph, is recovering from Tommy John surgery on June 26, 2019. The right-hander’s availability for this season was uncertain.

 

Hicks had been taking part in workouts at Busch Stadium, leading up to the Cardinals’ opener on July 24 at home against Pittsburgh.

 

Dodgers pitcher David Price, Giants catcher Buster Posey and Washington infielder Ryan Zimmerman are among about a dozen players who have opted out this year.

 

Hicks was 2-2 with 14 saves and a 3.14 ERA last season before he injured his elbow. He has hit 105 mph with his fastball.

 

Hicks was due $214,370 as a prorated share of his $578,800 salary. He gets paid if the pre-existing health concern has been determined to make him a high-risk individual.

 

Ryan Helsley and Giovanny Gallegos are expected to handle the late innings out of the Cardinals’ bullpen.

 

Carlos Martinez led St. Louis with 24 saves last season, posting his first save on June 1. The Cardinals had been working in spring training in February to move Martinez to the rotation, where he was a two-time All-Star.

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Chicago Marathon Canceled

The Chicago Marathon has been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

The race was scheduled for Oct. 11. Organizers say registered participants are eligible for a refund or can defer their place and entry fee to the Chicago Marathon in 2021, 2022 or 2023.

 

Carey Pinkowski, the executive race director of the Chicago Marathon, said in a release, quote - “Hope drives us as runners and as humans. My hope was to see everyone on the start line on Sunday, October 11, but our highest priority has always been the safety of our participants and our volunteers.”

 

Organizers say they are working on plans for a virtual experience “to recognize the dedication and commitment of everyone who would have taken part in the 43rd running” of the marathon.

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Cubs Manager Ross Forced to Skip Workout Because of Testing Delay

Chicago Cubs manager David Ross is skipping the team’s Monday morning workout because he is awaiting his completed result from his Saturday coronavirus test.

 

The team says five other Tier 1 individuals also missed the workout for the same reason. Tier 1, according to baseball’s 2020 operations manual, includes players and other on-field personnel.

 

“Out of an abundance of caution, we think it makes sense for the six of us to wait for clarity,” Ross said in a release. “Situations like this have not been a worrisome indicator of a positive test result to date.”

 

The Cubs say there should be “further clarity” later in the day.

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NFL, Oakley Come Up With Face Shield for Helmets

With NFL training camps set to start at the end of the month, the league believes it is closer to one answer when it comes to player safety amid the coronavirus pandemic: face shields for the players’ helmets.

 

The NFL and the players’ union agreed to several protocols in a 42-page document last week, including team travel, media and treatment response. They have also updated the facilities protocol, specifically addressing training camp, using recommendations from a joint committee of doctors, trainers and strength coaches.

 

However, the two sides haven’t agreed on testing and screening protocols for the coronavirus.

 

One idea suggested by the union’s medical director, Dr. Thom Mayer, to help control the spread of the virus was to have players wear face masks. The league’s engineers and a sports equipment company tested prototypes for the masks, but players shot it down.

 

The face shield was designed by Oakley, which already provides visors for the players.

 

Dr. Jeff Crandall, chairman of the NFL’s Engineering Committee, said quote - “Clear plastic with slits or holes in it that block any direct path of a droplet, but do promote air flow, communication, soundwaves.”

 

With training camps scheduled to start in a couple of weeks, there’s still no timeline for the helmets with face shields to make their debut.

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Testing of NHL Players Continues

The NHL says 43 players tested positive for the coronavirus from June 8 through the end of the league’s optional workouts.

 

That number announced Monday includes 30 who tested positive at team facilities and 13 the league is aware of who tested positive outside the league’s protocols for its Phase 2.

 

The NHL opened Phase 3 Monday with the start of training camps for the 24-team playoffs, scheduled to open in two hub Canadian cities — Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta — on Aug. 1. Players had until Monday evening to elect to opt out of competition without penalty.

 

All players who tested positive self-isolated. The NHL is not sharing names of the players who test positive or the teams involved.

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IHSA To Hold Special Board Meeting This Month

The IHSA Board of Directors will be meeting later this month to discuss a number of options as the fall sports season approaches. 

 

Among the topics include delaying the start of the season, shortening seasons, flipping seasons or worst-case scenario, canceling the fall season, but no final decision has been made at this point says IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson.

 

 

Currently, the first day of fall sports practices are scheduled for August 10th per the IHSA calendar.

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Rookie Custer Escapes With Upset Victory at Kentucky

Cole Custer became the first rookie regular to win in the NASCAR Cup Series in nearly four years, surging to the lead in a four-wide, final-lap scramble Sunday at Kentucky Speedway.

 

Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. were dueling side by side for the lead on the Lap 266 final restart when Custer — with a push from Matt DiBenedetto on the outside — made his move from sixth in the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford. As the leaders bunched in Turn 1, Custer slid ahead and outlasted Truex’s Toyota.

 

Making his 20th series start, the 22-year-old Custer celebrated with a frontstretch burnout as his crew happily ran to greet him.

 

He’s the first rookie to win a non-rain-shortened race since Juan Pablo Montoya in 2007. Brad Keselowski won a race in 2009, Trevor Bayne in 2011 and Justin Haley in 2019 while not racing full seasons. All three would have been classified as rookies had they been competing a full year. Chris Buescher won a rain-shortened race in August 2016 while competing for rookie of the year.

Custer also won at Kentucky last July in the Xfinity Series.

 

Matt Kenseth’s Turn 4 spin forced the final caution and created the opportunity for Custer’s victory.

DiBenedetto was third, and Harvick fourth — both in Fords. Kurt Busch, the winner last year, was fifth.

The final hundred laps created plenty of lead changes but nothing like the final 20 where Harvick, Truex, Blaney all had their shots.

 

Even seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson — back behind the wheel after missing last week’s race in Indianapolis following a positive coronavirus test — was running in the top three late with a chance to win. A spin into the front stretch grass on a lap 255 restart ended his quest and left his No. 48 Chevy 18th in his final Kentucky start.

 

The race’s intrigue wasn’t shocking the concerns centered around Kentucky’s first day race since Kenseth won a rain-postponed event in 2013. While it favored previous winners — including five Cup champions who combined for nine wins — the opportunity was there.

 

Aric Almirola made his case at the start, pushing pole-sitter Kyle Busch forward from the outside and chasing in the early laps before taking over nine laps later and threatening to run away from it.

 

Almirola led 128 of the first 137 laps — nearly 40 more than he has led all season.

 

Blaney and DiBenedetto took their turns in front before Keselowski inherited it on pit road during green-flag pit cycles. That didn’t last long as Truex quickly stalked him on the last-stage restart and took over on 181 in hopes of his third Kentucky win in four years.

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Morikawa Outlasts JT to Win Workday Open

Still three shots behind Justin Thomas with three holes to play, Collin Morikawa made only one birdie and it was enough for a 6-under 66 to force a playoff.

 

The three times he played the 18th hole, he twice could only watch as Thomas had 10-foot putts for the win.

 

The other time, Morikawa had to make a 25-foot putt to keep playing.

 

The only dull moment Sunday at the Workday Charity Open was the end, when Morikawa took two putts for par from just inside 10 feet to beat Thomas on the third playoff hole and win for the second time in his career.

 

Thomas had 10 straight one-putt greens, the last one a 25-foot eagle putt on the par-5 15th for the three-shot lead with three holes to play. And while he made two bogeys for a 69 that allowed for a playoff, he had reason to think it was over when he made a 50-foot birdie putt from the back of the 18th green.

 

Thomas missed a 10-footer for par in regulation, and a putt close to that same line for birdie on the second extra hole. He was done in by a tee shot on No. 10 that wound up in the rough behind a tree, forcing him to pitch out 102 yards short of the green. He missed his 15-foot par putt, leading to Morikawa’s two-putt par and the win.

 

It was a wild ride for Thomas, too. He started with a two-shot lead, trailed by three after just five holes, made four straight birdies and was ahead by three shots 10 holes later, and ultimately lost in a playoff.

 

It was his second playoff since the PGA Tour returned June 11 from the COVID-19 pandemic. Morikawa lost on the first extra hole at Colonial by missing a 3-foot putt. He had a 2-foot putt in regulation on Sunday that caught the left edge of the cup and swirled in.

 

Viktor Hovland of Norway had a 71 and finished alone in third. He was in the final group of three young stars, all of whom had the lead at some point during the final round.

 

Hovland’s hopes ended with two shots — finding a bunker from the 10th fairway for bogey, and a driver on the reachable 14 that only missed by about 5 feet, enough to slowly tumble down the bank and into the water.

 

They return in four days for the Memorial on a Muirfield Village course expected to be as fast as a U.S. Open.

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PAC-12 Latest To Cut Non-Conference Games

The Pac-12 has become the second major conference to shift to a conference-only fall schedule amid growing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

 

The announcement came after a meeting of the Pac-12 CEO Group on Friday and a day after the Big Ten opted to eliminate nonconference games for all fall sports.

 

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement, quote - “The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports continues to be our No. 1 priority. Our decisions have and will be guided by science and data, and based upon the trends and indicators over the past days, it has become clear that we need to provide ourselves with maximum flexibility to schedule, and to delay any movement to the next phase of return-to-play activities.”

 

Two hours later, the Pac-12 announced that Scott had tested positive for COVID-19 and was under self-quarantine.

 

The Atlantic Coast, Big 12 and Southeastern conferences are still weighing options for fall sports. On Wednesday, the Ivy League became the first Division I conference to suspend all fall sports until at least January, leaving open the possibility of moving some sports to the spring if the pandemic is under better control.

 

The Pac-12′s decision covers football, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball. Conference-only schedules will be announced no later than July 31.

 

The conference is also delaying the start of mandatory athletic activities until a series of health and safety indicators become more positive. Athletes who choose not to participate in the next academic year due to COVID-19 concerns will continue to have their scholarships honored and will remain in good standing with their teams.

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Redskins Expected to Remove Name Today

Washington’s NFL team will get rid of the name ‘Redskins’ on Monday, according to multiple reports.

It’s unclear when a new name will be revealed for one of the league’s oldest franchises.

 

USA Today, ESPN, The Washington Post, Washington Times and Sports Business Journal reported Sunday night that owner Dan Snyder is set to “retire” the name. Yahoo, on Saturday, reported a name change was imminent.

 

The team launched a ‘thorough review’ of the name July 3 that the NFL supported. That came in the aftermath of prominent sponsors FedEx, Nike, PepsiCo and Bank of America asking the team to change the name.

 

FedEx is the title sponsor of the team’s stadium in Landover, Maryland, and CEO Frederick Smith is a minority owner. Nike and other companies pulled team gear from their online stores.

 

Over a dozen Native American leaders and organizations wrote to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last week demanding an immediate end to Washington’s use of the name. In the letter that was obtained by The Associated Press, they said they “expect the NFL to engage in a robust, meaningful reconciliation process with Native American movement leaders, tribes, and organizations to repair the decades of emotional violence and other serious harms this racist team name has caused to Native Peoples.”

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ISU President Anticipates Fall Sports Going on As Planned

ISU President Larry Dietz says as of today (Thursday) all athletics will go on as planned. However, Dietz says things can change at any moment...

 

 

Dietz added that he is still waiting on the official word from the NCAA on if fans will be allowed to attend athletic events. Thursday, the Big Ten announced they would be limited fall sports competitions to conference-events only.

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Big Ten Scraps Non-Conference Fall Sports Events

The Big Ten Conference announced Thursday it will not play non-conference games in football and several other sports this fall, the most dramatic move yet by a power conference because of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

The conference cited medical advice in making its decision and added ominously that the plan would be applied only “if the conference is able to participate in fall sports.”

 

Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said it was “much easier if we’re just working with our Big Ten institutions” in terms of things like scheduling and traveling.

 

Warren told the Big Ten Network, quote “We may not have sports in the fall. We may not have a college football season in the Big Ten.

 

“So we just wanted to make sure that this was the next logical step to always rely on our medical experts to keep our student-athletes at the center of all of our decisions and make sure that they are as healthy as they possibly can be from a mental, a physical, and emotional health and wellness standpoint.”

 

There has been deep unease that the pandemic will deal a blow to fall sports after wiping out hundreds of games, including March Madness, this past spring. More than a dozen schools have reported positive tests for the virus among athletes in the past month but the bad news picked up this week as the Ivy League canceled all fall sports and Stanford announced it was cutting 11 varsity sports.

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Morikawa Surges Late, Leads Day 1 of Workday Charity Open

Colin Morikawa finally had a forced weekend off two weeks ago after 22 consecutive cuts to start his PGA Tour career, three short of the standard set by Tiger Woods. He bounced back Thursday in the Workday Charity Open with a 7-under 65 for a one-shot lead over Adam Hadwin.

 

It was a quiet day of work, typical for the PGA Tour with no spectators allowed in the return from the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. It was never more evident at Muirfield Village, which typically has enough fans to frame just about every hole.

 

His shot into the par-5 fifth settled 3 feet away for eagle. All but one of his birdie putts was inside 12 feet. The only setback was a bogey from the fairway on the 18th.

 

For the first time in 63 years, the PGA Tour will have tournaments on the same course in consecutive weeks. The Workday Charity Open fills a void this year for the John Deere Classic, which decided to cancel without being able to have spectators, a pro-am or corporate hospitality.

Phil Mickelson made plenty of noise, at least for nine holes. Lefty was 4 under at the turn and narrowly missed a 10-foot birdie chance on the 11th. He made bogey from the bunker. He missed a 5-foot par. He needed two chips from 25 feet to get on the 14th green. He hit in the water for double bogey on the 16th. He shot 41 on the back for a 73.

 

Brooks Koepka played for the first time since withdrawing from the Travelers Championship two weeks ago after his caddie tested positive for the coronavirus. He used PGA Tour winner Marc Turnesa as a caddie for this week, which might be a short week. Koepka opened with a 74.

 

Most of the good scoring came in the morning. Hadwin had five birdies over his last eight holes for a 66. Nick Taylor, a new father who chose to stay home in Canada for an extra month after the tour resumed, had an eagle at No. 11 and kept bogeys off his card for a 67. He was joined by past Muirfield Village winner Hideki Matsuyama.

 

Keegan Bradley had a 69 and was among 35 players who shot in the 60s. One shot summed up the environment at PGA Tour events at the moment. He hit a 6-iron on the par-3 fourth hole for an ace.

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IHSA Executive Director Weighs in On Possibly Flipping Sports Seasons

Some state high school associations are contemplating “flipping seasons”, where football would be moved to the spring due to ongoing concerns from the coronavirus pandemic. The IHSA’s Craig Anderson was asked about that issue.

 

 

Currently, the first day of high school football practice in Illinois is set for Aug 10.

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Jimmy Johnson Cleared to Return to Racing

Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson has twice tested negative for the coronavirus and will race Sunday at Kentucky Speedway.

 

Johnson missed the first race of his Cup career when he tested positive last Friday. He was tested after his wife received a positive result.

 

Hendrick Motorsports said Johnson tested negative on Monday and Tuesday and will return to the No. 48 Chevrolet at Kentucky. NASCAR confirmed Wednesday that Johnson has been cleared to return.

 

Johnson’s streak of 663 consecutive starts — most among active drivers — was snapped when he didn’t race Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Justin Allgaier replaced him at the Brickyard 400 and finished 37th after an early multi-car crash on pit road.

 

Johnson is the only NASCAR driver to test positive for the coronavirus since the series resumed racing on May 17. He is scheduled to retire from full-time NASCAR competition at the end of this season.

 

Johnson never experienced any symptoms; his wife, Chani, was tested after suffering from what she thought was routine seasonal allergies. When she received her positive result, Johnson and their two young daughters were tested. Their daughters were negative.

 

Hendrick Motorsports had four crew members tested for COVID-19 after Johnson’s diagnosis and all four received negative results. The No. 48 team will have its regular personnel roster for Sunday’s race.

 

Missing the Brickyard 400 dropped Johnson to 15th in the driver standings, 46 points above the cutoff for playoffs.

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White Sox Fans Able to Purchase Cardboard Cutouts to Be Set Up in Stadium During Games

The Chicago White Sox are giving fans the opportunity to purchase cardboard cutouts of themselves that will be displayed at Guaranteed Rate Field during the team’s season-opening homestand.

 

The cutouts cost $49 and will be available while supplies last. Proceeds will benefit the team’s charitable arm.

 

The White Sox open with a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins starting on July 24.

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Golf's Ryder Cup, President's Cup Bumped

Ryder Cup officials postponed the September matches of the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin until next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, making it increasingly unlikely the loudest event in golf could have spectators.

 

The Ryder Cup was scheduled for Sept. 25-27 at Whistling Straits along the Lake Michigan shore. Because of a reconfigured schedule created by golf being shut down for three months, the matches would have been held one week after the U.S. Open.

 

Now, the Ryder Cup will move to Sept. 24-26, 2021, the second time in the last two decades it was postponed. The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks led the 2001 matches to be postponed two weeks before they were set to be played.

 

The decision mean Europe’s next home Ryder Cup set for Italy has been pushed back until 2023. The European Tour thrives on Ryder Cup revenue.

 

And it affects the PGA Tour, which already has lost millions this year while trying to keep canceled tournaments solvent. The Presidents Cup in 2021 at Quail Hollow in North Carolina was a sellout in corporate hospitality, and it now gets pushed back a year.

 

Quail Hollow instead will host the Wells Fargo Championship next spring, and that event will move to the TPC Potomac in 2022 during the Presidents Cup year.

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Solid Field Highlights First of Two Events in Ohio for PGA Tour

The Workday Charity Open this week is loaded with a great field and some premium featured groups. Throw in what should be a lush Muirfield Village, and the first, and perhaps only, version of this tournament should be tremendous.

 

The most intriguing of those featured groups is the trio of Viktor Hovland, Jon Rahm and Gary Woodland.

 

The most volatile group is Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson and Patrick Cantlay.

 

Regardless, a great field that includes three of the top five players in the world, as well as some of the other biggest names in the sport, is set for yet another strong week of PGA Tour play.

 

Groups of interest starting at hole 1 Thursday:

 

7:56 a.m. -- Andrew Landry, J.B. Holmes, Bubba Watson
12:59 p.m. -- Patrick Reed, Rickie Fowler, Matthew Wolff

 

Starting from hole 10 Thursday

 

7:45 a.m. -- Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Jason Day
7:56 a.m. -- Justin Rose, Xander Schauffele, Billy Horschel

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Blackhawks Say They Will Continue to Use Team Name

The Chicago Blackhawks say they will continue to use their team name because it honors a Native American leader who has been an inspiration to generations.

 

“The Chicago Blackhawks name and logo symbolizes an important and historic person, Black Hawk of Illinois’ Sac & Fox Nation, whose leadership and life has inspired generations of Native Americans, veterans and the public,” the NHL team said in a statement Tuesday.

 

“We celebrate Black Hawk’s legacy by offering ongoing reverent examples of Native American culture, traditions and contributions, providing a platform for genuine dialogue with local and national Native American groups. As the team’s popularity grew over the past decade, so did that platform and our work with these important organizations.

 

“We recognize there is a fine line between respect and disrespect, and we commend other teams for their willingness to engage in that conversation. Moving forward, we are committed to raising the bar even higher to expand awareness of Black Hawk and the important contributions of all Native American people. ”

 

The Athletic first reported on the team’s statement.

 

Under renewed pressure to change their name, the NFL’s Washington Redskins announced a “thorough review” of the issue. In baseball, the Cleveland Indians are also looking into it while the Atlanta Braves declined.

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More MLB Workouts Canceled; Cubs Workout Delayed

As baseball nears the two-week countdown to the start of its delayed season, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep more players, including Boston Red Sox projected opening day starter Eduardo Rodriguez, off the field.

 

On Tuesday, one day after Major League Baseball released its 60-game schedule, there was continued evidence of the difficulties caused by the pandemic.

 

The San Francisco Giants suspended workouts at Oracle Park as they awaited the results of weekend tests for the coronavirus. The Chicago Cubs’ workout was delayed.

 

The Cubs’ workout was delayed a few hours as the team awaited test results. On Monday, Cubs slugger Kris Bryant criticized the lack of frequency of the tests and delays in getting results.

 

Manager David Ross said Tuesday’s delay “isn’t a huge deal” and seemed bigger ”with what’s been going on with some teams the last day or so.”

 

Ross said quote “We can’t just crush MLB because this is new to them, too, and the testing facility.”

The two teams from last year’s World Series, the champion Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros, resumed workouts after canceling practices on Monday because of testing delays.

 

Oakland left-hander Jake Diekman, who has ulcerative colitis, an autoimmune condition, said teams having to call off workouts because of delays in test results “just can’t happen.”

 

Giants manager Gabe Kapler said one missed day wouldn’t put his club behind. He said he expects the testing process to improve.

 

The Giants already have had prospect Hunter Bishop and pitcher Luis Madero test positive.

 

Rodriguez, who broke out in 2019 as a star, and Red Sox prospect Bobby Dalbec tested positive for the virus.

 

Rodriguez had not reported to camp after informing the team that he had been around relatives who had been ill. Dalbec, a third baseman, also is home and is asymptomatic.

 

Manager Ron Roenicke said it is “just unfortunate” the positive test could jeopardize Rodriguez’s chances to start on opening day. Rodriguez had career-best numbers with 19 wins and a 3.81 ERA in 2019.

 

Also, the Kansas City Royals announced right-hander Brad Keller and first baseman Ryan O’Hearn had positive tests and gave the team permission to announce the results.

 

Keller, 24, said he has “minor symptoms that remind me more of an allergy attack.”

 

The threat of an infection was enough for the Cleveland Indians to keep outfielder Franmil Reyes away from camp. Reyes was told to stay home after he was seen on social media attending a weekend holiday party without wearing a mask.

 

It was an example that off-field activities can affect a player’s status.

 

Manager Terry Francona said Reyes would be re-tested “when it’s appropriate.”

 

Francona said Reyes could have exposed himself and his teammates to the virus by not practicing social distancing or wearing a mask. Francona said he has used the incident as a teaching point for other players. He said Reyes has apologized.

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Mets to Host Yankees on 20th Anniversary of 9/11

The New York Mets will host the crosstown Yankees on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 next season, according to a person familiar with the decision.

 

The clubs will play at Citi Field in a game sure to be full of emotions for the city that’s also reported over 18,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths this year. 

 

The decision was first reported by Newsday.

 

The 20th anniversary game will be played not far from the site of demolished Shea Stadium, where Hall of Famer Mike Piazza hit a memorable home run for the Mets against the Braves on Sept. 21, 2001 in the first major sporting event in the city following the attacks. New York wore hats honoring the city’s first responders for the game.

 

Mets slugger Pete Alonso is sure to have a hand in the planning.

 

The 25-year-old reigning NL Rookie of the Year sidestepped MLB rules to create customized cleats for all of his teammates honoring 9/11 victims and first responders for New York’s home game last Sept. 11. Alonso later donated his spikes to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

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Monticello Cross Country Coach Discusses Return to Play Guidelines

The IHSA last week announced approval from the Illinois Department of Public Health to move into Phase 4 of the return to play guidelines for Illinois schools, coaches and athletes.

 

Dave Remmert is the Cross Country coach at Monticello High School. Many may also know Remmert as the Director of the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department. He says the fact the CDC is saying youth are not only at low risk of the coronavirus but are also not deemed 'super-spreaders' leaves him optimistic a fall sports season should take place.

 

 

Case numbers locally and across the country have spiked but Remmert is not very concerned about the latest trends. He says young, healthy people are the ones mostly getting the virus right now and their quick recoveries are a good sign and will help establish herd immunity.

 

 

Last year, Remmert's boys cross country squad won the Class 1A state title for the second time under his leadership. Luke Sokolowski finished 11th and Josh Baysore finished 28th. Monticello boys finished third in 2013 in Remmert's first year with their first state title coming in 2014 and the boys' team has never finished lower than 6th. 

 

Additionally, last year the girls finished second in the state. Mabry Bruhn finished 10th and Rachel Koon finished 12ths. The girls finished 3rd in 2017 under Remmert. 

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Cardinals Among Teams to Cancel Workouts Amid Coronavirus Testing Delay

Baseball’s two World Series teams canceled workouts Monday because of coronavirus testing delays that one executive worried could endanger the season.

 

The defending champion Washington Nationals and reigning American League champion Houston Astros called off training camp practices after not receiving test results from Friday. The St. Louis Cardinals also scrubbed their scheduled workout for similar reasons.

 

The cancellations come amid delays around Major League Baseball, with some players opting out, and in the aftermath of Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle criticizing slow test results and a lack of some personal protective equipment.

 

MLB said in a statement that 95% of its intake testing had been completed and the Utah laboratory it’s using had reported 98% of results, a majority of those a day after samples were collected. MLB said it addressed delays caused by the holiday weekend, doesn’t expect them to continue and commended teams for canceling workouts.

 

But frustration is building around the majors over testing delays.

 

The Los Angeles Angels were forced to collect their own saliva samples Sunday when testers didn’t show up at their training complexes in Anaheim or Long Beach. They also delayed their workouts Monday to accommodate the testers, eventually turning their usual morning drills into an optional afternoon session.

 

Angels manager Joe Maddon believes “this will be a short-lived situation” and pinned the problem on the holiday weekend.

 

Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, who voiced concern that some teammates haven’t been tested in a week, said quote - “I think if we really want this to succeed, we’re going to have to figure that out. If you can’t really nail the easy part, which is right now ... we’ve got a big hill to climb.”

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Chicago White Sox Announce Two Players Test Positive for Coronavirus

The Chicago White Sox say two players have tested positive for COVID-19 and are in isolation.

 

The team said Sunday that the two unidentified players are asymptomatic, and contact tracing for both was conducted. They are being monitored by team medical staff and will receive follow-up testing in the coming days.

 

They will be allowed to return to baseball activities after they test negative twice and pass other appropriate COVID-19 protocols.

 

The White Sox say both players requested privacy, meaning the team isn’t able to comment further.

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IHSA Releases Phase 4 Guidelines

The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) announced on Friday the Stage 2 Return To Play Guidelines have been approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). The IHSA also announced that they will also now refer to the guidelines as the Phase 4 Return To Play Guidelines to match the Restore Illinois plan verbiage and the Phase 1 Return To Play Guidelines that were implemented on June 5th will also now be referred to as the Phase 3 Return To Play Guidelines.

 

These guidelines go into effect as of July 5th, 2020. 

 

IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said, quote -  “Safety remains at the forefront of everything that the IHSA is doing as we move into Phase 4 and beyond. We appreciate the collaborative efforts of the SMAC and IDPH in recognizing the physical, mental, and emotional benefits for our student-athletes and coaches as they progress into training in a more traditional practice setting. Our focus now shifts to continuing to work with state leadership to determine how to provide the safest environment possible for fall sports.”

 

Previously only groups of 10 were allowed in Phase 3 and now groups of up to 50 will be allowed. There were other significant changes with Phase 4 including allowing the use of sport-specific equipment and competitions. 

 

Games are allowed to take place either inside or outside, but there are certain restrictions that will be in place. Multiple groups of 50 are permissible for contests held outside, but only if they’re spaced at least 30 feet apart. Indoor games, the group limit for everyone remains at 50 except for fans. 

 

Spectators are allowed, but there will be a 20 percent capacity limit for the venue that must be enforced.

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DeChambeau Surges to Win at Rocket Mortgage Classic

With jaw-dropping drives and some clutch putts, Bryson DeChambeau won the Rocket Mortgage Classic by three strokes Sunday for his first victory of the season and sixth overall. He became the first PGA Tour player since 2004 to lead a tournament in driving distance, along with shots gained off the tee and putting.

 

DeChambeau shot a 7-under 65 at Detroit Golf Club, birdieing four of the first seven holes and closing with three straight. He finished at a career-best 23-under 265.

 

Matthew Wolff (71) was second. He started the day with a three-shot lead and hurt his chances with five bogeys over his first 10 holes. Kevin Kisner (66) finished another stroke back as part of a relatively weak field that continued to trend of exceptional play since the PGA Tour restarted.

 

DeChambeau made a 30-foot birdie putt at No. 16, which he said was his shot of the day. He also had a short putt for birdie on the next hole. And finally, he uncorked a 367-yard drive to set up another short putt at 18.

 

DeChambeau came into the week with six straight top-eight finishes and was the only player with top 10s in the first three events after the restart from the coronavirus pandemic. He won for the first time since the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in November 2018.

 

DeChambeau has dramatically altered his body, packing about 240 pounds on his 6-foot-1 body, and took advantage of the extra time he had to work on his physique during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

DeChambeau’s power was on full display in the Motor City with drives that went 351 yards on average after looking like he might swing out of his spikes.

 

When DeChambeau was on the tee box at the 399-yard, par-4 13th, he waited for the next group to leave the green before hitting his drive so that he didn’t hit any fellow competitors.


His drive on the 621-yard, par-5 fourth went way left and landed in greenside rough on an adjacent hole. He cleared towering trees and landed just short of the green, sending his approach 276 yards and he two-putted from 37 feet.

 

On Saturday, DeChambeau had a testy exchange with a TV cameraman after a bogey on the sixth hole. After the third round, he bristled that it isn’t right showing a potential vulnerability and hurting someone’s image.

 

DeChambeau, though, tried to soften his stance on the issue Sunday by saying the cameraman was just trying to do his job.

 

During the final round, he was also briefly distracted by a commotion outside the course.

 

While a Black Lives Matter protests was gathering outside the Detroit Golf Club, breaking the silence of the fan-free event with chants and air horns, DeChambeau took some time to reset before hitting a 366-yard drive.

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Harvick Outlasts Field for Brickyard Win

As the sunset Sunday over Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Denny Hamlin seven laps from one of the few victories that has eluded him, he went careening into the first turn wall with a flat right front-side tire, and Kevin Harvick beat Matt Kenseth off the final restart to win his second straight Brickyard.

 

Not only did Harvick race to his 53rd victory to move within one of tying Lee Petty for 11th on NASCAR’s career list, teammates Aric Almirola and Cole Custer, a rookie, finished third and fifth Sunday. Fellow Stewart-Haas driver Chase Briscoe won the Xfinity Series race Saturday or the road course.

 

Harvick tied Hamlin with a season-high fourth victory and lead in the points. The California driver has four straight top-10 finishes.

 

And for the third straight race, it looked as if it would be another one-two finish for Harvick and Hamlin.

 

But until the late, stunning twist, Hamlin looked as though he would take his first Brickyard.

 

After trading victories and runner-up finishes at Pocono last week and Sunday’s result, they’ve combined for seven of 12 victories since the season restarted at Darlington in mid-May and it’s only the second time in seven races Hamlin and his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing entry hasn’t finished in the top seven.

 

One person was noticeably absent: Seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson in No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports car. Johnson watched the race from his Colorado home as the series’ longest active streak of consecutive and fifth-longest in series history ended at 663. Johnson was hoping to become the third driver to win five races on the 2.5-mile oval.

 

Instead, Justin Allgaier replaced him in the car and he didn’t stick around long.

 

Allgaier was involved in a six-car pileup near the entrance to pit road that brought out a red flag on Lap 16 when one of Ryan Blaney’s crew members was pinned between two cars. Track workers put Zachary Price on a stretcher. He was eventually transported to a nearby hospital but there was no immediate post-race update.

 

Two laps later, Allgaier’s day was over.

 

Kurt Busch also had a rough day after making his 700th career start. After starting second, his hopes for winning one of the Cup’s crown jewels faded with an early pit stop mistake. A plane flew over the track during pre-race activities to celebrate the milestone, which broke a tie with Hall of Famer Buddy Baker for No. 16 on the series career list.

 

NASCAR’s weather problems also continued, this time with the start delayed 55 minutes for lightning.

 

But once the race started, it was clean sailing for Harvick. He led for most of the first stage before giving way to William Byron, who chose not to pit with nine laps to go, and then won the second stage before earning the big prize.

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NHL, NHLPA Agree on Protocols to Resume Play

The NHL and NHL Players’ Association agreed Sunday on protocols to resume the season, a major step toward the return of hockey this summer.

 

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told The Associated Press there was an agreement on protocols for training camps and games and the sides are still negotiating an extension of the collective bargaining agreement, which is crucial to the process.

 

A person with knowledge of the situation said the return-to-play protocols would only go into effect if each side votes to approve the full package of the CBA extension and return-to-play agreement. 

To complete a return, two-thirds of the league’s board of governors and majorities of the players’ executive committee and full membership must vote in favor.

 

If everything is ratified, it will end a pandemic-forced shutdown that began in mid-March. Games would resume in late July or early August with 24 teams taking part in an expanded playoffs, finishing with the Stanley Cup being awarded in October.

 

The agreement was first reported by TSN.

 

The 47 pages of protocols outline the health and safety measures the league and players agreed to after several weeks of negotiations. Any player has until 5 p.m. EDT on Tuesday to notify his team if he’s choosing to opt out of participating in training camp and games, with an additional deadline expected after ratification of the agreement.

 

For those playing, each team is limited to 30 skaters and an unlimited amount of goaltenders for camp and total roster of up to 31 players for games. Each team is limited to 52 personnel in its game city, a group that must include two trainers, a doctor and compliance officer in addition players, coaches and management.

 

They are expected to be quarantined from the general public during play at least for the qualifying and first two traditional playoff rounds. Family members will be permitted to join when play is moved to one city for the conference finals and Stanley Cup Final.

 

All team and league employees plus hotel, restaurant and arena staff coming in contact with players will be tested daily in the two “hub” cities.

 

One player’s positive coronavirus test result is not expected to shut down play entirely. The league has said it would isolate any player or staff member who tests positive, acknowledging an outbreak would threaten the remainder of the season.

 

The protocols include a provision for Commissioner Gary Bettman in consultation with NHLPA executive director Don Fehr to postpone, delay or cancel games in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.

 

If the protocols and an CBA extension cover those scenarios for enough owners and players, there will be a path forward to hand out the Stanley Cup. Only twice since 1893 has the Cup not been awarded: in 1919, when the final couldn’t be completed because of the Spanish flu pandemic, and 2005 when the season was wiped out by a lockout.

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Decades Old Tradition Coming to An End for Packers

The Green Bay Packers will have a six-decade NFL training camp tradition end as they won’t be staying at nearby St. Norbert College because of coronavirus concerns.

 

The Packers instead will have their entire training camp operations at Lambeau Field. Housing arrangements are still being finalized.

 

Packers officials said they made the switch due to NFL protocols asking clubs to maximize use of their own facilities to mitigate exposure to the virus.

 

St. Norbert had hosted the Packers for training camp since 1958

 

The Packers have traditionally eaten dinner at St. Norbert and stayed in a residence hall on campus while commuting to their training-camp workouts at Lambeau Field.

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IHSA Hoping for 'Return to Play' Phase 2 Guidelines to Be Approved Next Week

The IHSA is waiting on final approval from the Illinois Department of Public Health on Stage 2 “Return to Play” guidelines. 

 

IHSA executive director Craig Anderson says it would allow for outdoor and indoor gatherings of 50 or fewer players, coaches and officials. It would also allow for athletic contests and practices. 

 

 

IHSA Stage 1 “Return to Play” started last month and the policy allows for strength, conditioning and speed workouts for groups of ten or less.

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Cubs Pitching Coach Recovering from Coronavirus

Chicago Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy is recovering from a severe case of COVID-19 that had him quarantined for 30 days.

 

The 38-year-old Hottovy broke down Wednesday as he detailed a harrowing ordeal during a conference call. The Cubs resume workouts Friday for the first time since Major League Baseball shut down camps on March 12.

 

Hottovy is in his second season as the Cubs’ pitching coach. The former major leaguer said he experienced fevers, breathing trouble and an increased heart rate. The symptoms worsened at night, making it difficult to sleep.

 

Because he didn’t want his wife and young children to catch the virus, Hottovy isolated himself in a spare bedroom at home. He struggled during one Zoom meeting with pitchers, and manager David Ross took over for him.

 

Things got so bad that Hottovy spent eight hours at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago on the 12th day he was sick. He finally tested negative about two weeks ago.

 

Hottovy said he’s still weakened from the illness. He considered opting out of the season while he was sick but decided against that.

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Kings Forward, Former Chicago Standout Jabarri Parker Returns to Practice Following Positive Coronavirus Test

Sacramento Kings coach Luke Walton says forward Jabari Parker has been cleared to end his self-isolation following a positive test for the coronavirus. Walton also spoke to Parker about handling himself in public after photos surfaced last week of the forward playing tennis without a mask following his positive test.

 

Center Alex Len and guard Buddy Hield also announced they contracted the coronavirus, and Walton says all three are “doing much better” while being tested every other day. No players have told Walton they don’t want to take part as the Kings (28-36) prepare to play their final eight games in Orlando beginning at the end of this month.

 

Walton said on a call Wednesday, quote “This is a grown men’s league. We talk to our guys but you can’t make them do anything. All we can do is encourage them to follow the guidelines that we’ve all been given: Do your best to social distance, wear a face mask when you’re out, wash your hands as often as possible, stay away from shaking hands, those type of things.”

 

One of Walton’s top priorities now is “making sure everyone’s comfortable” — which will mean players bringing their own workout gear and leaving an extra pair of shoes that stay at the practice facility or arena.

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Cardinals to Replace Yankees in Field of Dreams Game

The St. Louis Cardinals have replaced the New York Yankees as the opponent for the Chicago White Sox in the Field of Dreams game on Aug. 13 at Dyersville, Iowa.

 

According to reports, the schedule change caused by the new coronavirus pandemic meant the White Sox no longer play the Yankees this season. 

 

Major League Baseball hopes to announce its new schedule next week. Each team will play 60 games, 40 against division rivals and 20 against teams in the corresponding regional division in the other league.

 

It remains unclear whether fans would be allowed at the game, which is to be televised nationally by Fox.

 

A temporary 8,000-seat stadium is nearing completion at the site, about 200 miles west of Chicago, adjacent to where the movie was filmed on a diamond in a cornfield. This would be the first major league game played in Iowa.

 

The movie, released in 1989, starred Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones, Burt Lancaster and Ray Liotta.

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NFL Slashing Preseason, Moving Exhibition Start Date Back

The NFL will cut its preseason in half and push back the start of exhibition play so teams have more time to train following a virtual offseason made necessary by the coronavirus pandemic, a person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press.

 

Players are still discussing with their union whether to ask for the cancellation of all preseason games, according to two people familiar with their thinking. Both people spoke on condition of anonymity because a decision hasn’t been made.

 

The pandemic forced teams to conduct their entire offseason programs via videoconference. So, teams will be gathering together for the first time when training camps open July 28.

 

Minus the usual minicamps, on-field practices and in-person weight training from April to June, players’ conditioning won’t be what it normally is. So, eliminating the first week of preseason games Aug. 13-16 will give them more time to ratchet up their football fitness.

 

Teams will now play exhibitions Aug. 20-24 and Aug. 27-31 during what were originally the second and third weeks of exhibition play, with all 32 teams playing one home and one road game.

 

Most of those games will remain the same as originally scheduled, although some matchups in that second slate will have to be changed so every team gets a game at home.

 

The exhibition finales on Sept. 3 were also scrapped, giving teams more time to get ready for the regular season, which opens Sept. 10 with Houston at Kansas City.

 

There are no changes to the regular-season schedule.

 

The league continues to draw up protocols, not only for COVID-19 mitigation but for ramping up practices during the first few weeks of training camp.

 

The annual Hall of Fame Game pitting Pittsburgh and Dallas on Aug. 6 was recently scrapped as the induction ceremonies were pushed back to 2021.

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Baseball Cancels Minor League Season

Baseball’s minor leagues canceled their seasons Tuesday because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the head of their governing body said more than half of the 160 teams were in danger of failing without government assistance or private equity injections.

 

The National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the minor league governing body founded in September 1901, made the long-expected announcement. The minors had never missed a season.

 

National Association president Pat O’Conner estimated 85-90% of revenue was related to ticket money, concessions, parking, and ballpark advertising. The minors drew 41.5 million fans last year for 176 teams in 15 leagues, averaging 4,044 fans per game.

 

MLB teams are planning for a 60-game regular season and most of their revenue will derive from broadcast money.

 

O’Conner said many minor league teams had received money through the federal Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act.

 

He hopes for passage of H.R. 7023, which would provide $1 billion in 15-year federal loans from the Federal Reserve to businesses that had 2019 revenue of $35 million or less and “have contractual obligations for making lease, rent, or bond payments for publicly owned sports facilities, museums, and community theaters.”

 

In addition, the Professional Baseball Agreement between the majors and minors expires Sept.. 30, and MLB has proposed reducing the minimum affiliates from 160 to 120.

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1st Overall Pick Agrees to Deal with Tigers, In Player Pool

No. 1 overall draft pick Spencer Torkelson and the Detroit Tigers agreed to a minor league contract on Tuesday, and the team said the infielder will join its player pool for this abbreviated season.

 

Torkelson’s deal includes an $8,416,300 is a signing bonus, which is $1,000 above slot value, and a $2,500 contingent bonus for days on the roster of a minor league affiliate, which cannot be earned until 2021. He is to receive $100,000 within 30 days of the deal’s approval by Major League Baseball, and 50% of the rest on each July 1 in 2021 and 2022.

 

Detroit had the top pick for the second time in three years after drafting right-hander Casey Mize in 2018.

 

Undrafted out of high school, Torkelson hit 54 home runs at Arizona State. The Tigers took the slugging first baseman with the top pick, then said they intended to try him at third.

 

He’ll get a chance to show what he can do, sooner rather than later. Detroit announced 58 selections for its player pool Sunday, leaving two spots open. On Tuesday, the Tigers said Torkelson will be added to that group.

 

The Tigers also included Mize and several other top pitching prospects in that player pool, meaning it’s possible that some of Detroit’s biggest young names could reach the majors at some point this season.

 

Torkelson hit .340 with six home runs and 11 RBIs in 17 games this year during a college season shortened by the coronavirus pandemic.

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MLB Teams Will Not Be Able to Disclose Coronavirus IL Players

Trying to find out the status of a baseball player coming back from an ankle injury definitely will be easier than learning whether someone tested positive for the coronavirus.

 

Major League Baseball said Tuesday that a team will not specifically announce a COVID-19 injured list placement for a player who is removed from the club after testing positive, just an IL trip.

 

MLB’s operations manual says a positive test, exhibiting symptoms that require isolation for additional assessment or exposure to someone who has had the virus are cause for placement on the new COVID-19 IL.

 

Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement states that for any medical condition not related to employment “a club may disclose only the fact that a medical condition is preventing the player from rendering services to the club and the anticipated length of the player’s absence from the club.”

 

Cashman noted the situation continues to evolve as MLB and the players’ union continue discussions. Testing of players and staff will begin Wednesday as they report to their teams to resume workouts. They will be tested once every two days.

 

Last week, Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies became the first MLB player known to have tested positive. According to reports, the All-Star outfielder was one of three Colorado players to have a positive test.

 

Numerous other teams have said they have players who have tested positive for the virus without identifying any of them. The Philadelphia Phillies announced seven, while the Detroit Tigers said one player who was living in Florida but not working out at the team’s spring training facilities in Lakeland also tested positive.

 

Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said a few players have tested positive but declined to specify how many. Several Toronto Blue Jays players and staff members also have tested positive.

 

Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said remaining educated about best practices is going to be crucial for everyone.

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