AP source: MLB rejects 114-game plan, tells union no counter

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball is no closer to starting the 2020 that it was when the union made its latest proposal on Sunday.

A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that MLB has rejected the players’ offer for a 114-game regular season with no additional salary cuts. The person added that management did not plan to make a counterproposal.

MLB proposed an 82-game schedule last week and further reductions in player salaries as the sport tries to salvage a season delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. Management has told the union it had no interest in extending the season into November, when it fears a second wave of the coronavirus could disrupt the postseason and jeopardize $787 million in broadcast revenue.

Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem wrote a letter Wednesday to chief union negotiator Bruce Meyer that was obtained by The Associated Press. Halem mentioned that players are unified in their view that they will not accept less than 100% of their prorated salaries, and management has no choice but to accept that representation. Halem said that based on the players’ salary position and the significant health risk of extending the regular season past September, management does not have any reason to believe a negotiated solution for an 82-game season is possible.


AP source: NBA presents players with plan for season restart

UNDATED (AP) — NBA fans could receive very good news within the next 24 hours or so.

A person with knowledge of the situation says the league has told the players association that it will present a 22-team plan for restarting the season to the league’s board of governors on Thursday.

The person says the 22 teams would play eight games near Orlando to determine playoff seeding before the postseason begins there. The Western Conference would have 13 teams heading to Florida, while the East would be represented by nine teams. The 22 teams are those within six games of a playoff spot at this point. Playoffs would start in August, and the NBA Finals will likely stretch into October, according to the person.


MLS soccer players approve new CBA

UNDATED (AP) — Major League Soccer players have approved a new collective bargaining agreement that will allow for the league to return this summer with a tournament in Florida.

The Major League Soccer Players Association has announced the ratification of the CBA. Players had approved economic concessions for this season. The league countered the proposal from the players and set a Wednesday deadline for ratification.

The sides had agreed to a five-year CBA in February but that had not been ratified when the coronavirus pandemic began. The season was suspended March 12 after just two games because of the pandemic.

Details of the Florida tournament were still under consideration, but the league’s 26 teams and limited staff would be sheltered at hotels with games played without fans at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World.

In other virus-related sports developments:

— Two more Oklahoma State football players have tested positive for COVID-19 since returning to campus for voluntary workouts. That brings the total to three, all athletes. Senior associate athletic director Kevin Klintworth wrote on his Twitter account that of the 150 staff, administrators and athletes tested, three had asymptomatic positives.

— The PGA Tour has announced a deal with Sanford Health to conduct COVID-19 testing of players, caddies and essential personnel five days before the season resumes. That applies to every stop on the PGA Tour, PGA Tour Champions and the developmental Korn Ferry Tour. Sanford Health is based in South Dakota and is title sponsor of a PGA Tour Champions event. The company has three mobile testing units it will deploy across the country. Each one has a driver and three lab technicians. A unit will be at tournaments from Saturday through Thursday before leaving for the next closest event.

— The chief executive of the European Tour says the fate of this year’s Ryder Cup will be decided by the end of the month. Keith Pelley says in an extensive interview with the McKellar Journal podcast that the European Tour and the PGA will have “conversations” about the Ryder Cup now that the revamped schedules of both tours have been announced. The Ryder Cup is still on schedule for Sept. 25-27 at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin despite massive disruption to the sports schedule because of the outbreak.

— Wright State is dropping its softball and men’s and women’s tennis programs as part of a plan to cut $2 million from its athletic department budget. The Dayton, Ohio, school is reducing expenditures across the board because of decreases in enrollment and state funding because of the pandemic. Wright State will have 11 sports and must be granted a waiver from the NCAA to remain in compliance with Division I requirements.

— Players from all levels of college baseball are set to compete in the three-day, four-team Collegiate Summer Baseball Invitational in Bryan, Texas. The players, coaches, umpires and other event staff arrived in Bryan on Monday and were tested for COVID-19. They are being quarantined at a hotel through Saturday and allowed outside only to go to and from the ballpark.

— English soccer team Tottenham says a person at the club has tested positive for the coronavirus. The Premier League club did not identify the person. It was the only positive case after the Premier League tested a further 1,197 players and club staff. The testing is taking place ahead of the planned resumption of the league on June 17. The competition was suspended in March.

— Two people familiar with the situation say the WNBA has decided to hold its games at just one location if there is a season this year and that the MGM Resorts in Las Vegas and the IMG Academy in Florida are the top candidates. There is still no date when the WNBA's 2020 season will tip off. WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert told the AP last month that the league was considering a handful of scenarios, including playing at one or two sites. 

— A part-time student worker in the Iowa State athletic department has tested positive for COVID-19 and four athletes are experiencing symptoms. ISU says the student worker notified the athletic department of the positive test last weekend. The four athletes from two sports began experiencing symptoms after being in close contact with individuals outside the athletic department who have been infected. Those athletes are in quarantine and awaiting test results.

— Two players with Japan’s most famous baseball team have tested positive for COVID-19. The Tokyo-based Yomiuri Giants called off a preseason game with the Seibu Lions scheduled for Wednesday because of the positive tests. It also raises questions about the start of the delayed season. Japan hopes to open its postponed baseball season on June 19 in stadiums without fans.

— A Ukrainian soccer team has found 25 cases of the coronavirus among players and staff. The Ukrainian soccer association says the cases at Karpaty Lviv came from tests on 65 people. None of the players or staff members have been named. The Ukrainian league restarted last week without Karpaty.

— The metal detectors that greet sports fans at the gates might soon be accompanied by thermal body scanners. It’s part of the big task of better protecting venues from virus spread in order to bring the games back for in-person viewing.


Pirates' Archer out for the season following surgery

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Chris Archer won't pitch for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2020 and his time with the club may be over.

The Pirates have announced that the 31-year-old Archer underwent surgery to relieve symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome. The team added that Archer will not be available this season if Major League Baseball finds a way to put together a truncated schedule.

The Pirates were banking on a bounce back year by Archer, who is 6-12 with a 4.92 ERA in 33 starts since he was acquired from Tampa Bay at the 2018 trade deadline for outfielder Austin Meadows and pitcher Tyler Glasnow.


Johnny Majors, former Tennessee and Pitt coach, dies at 85

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Johnny Majors, the coach of Pittsburgh’s 1976 national championship football team and a former coach and star player at Tennessee, has died.

Majors died Wednesday at his home in Knoxville, according to his wife. He was 85.

Majors compiled a 185-137-10 record in 29 seasons as a head coach at Iowa State, Pitt and Tennessee.

In his playing days, he finished second to Notre Dame’s Paul Hornung in the 1956 Heisman Trophy balloting.

Majors was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1987.  


Brees still against kneeling during anthem

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Drew Brees (breez) is taking sharp criticism from fellow high-profile athletes after the Saints' quarterback reiterated his opposition to kneeling during the National Anthem.

Asked by Yahoo to revisit former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick's 2016 kneeling protest against police brutality against minorities, Brees said he will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States. He added that the national anthem reminds him of two grandfathers who served in the armed forces during World War II.

Brees said that “In many cases, it brings me to tears thinking about all that has been sacrificed, and not just in the military, but for that matter, those throughout the Civil Rights movements of the '60s, and all that has been endured by so many people up until this point.”

Critical responses to Brees' statements appeared on social media from major professional athletes including the Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James and Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins.

Jenkins was Brees' teammate when the Saints won the Super Bowl in the 2009 season.


Germany won't punish players for George Floyd protests

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The German soccer federation will not punish players who protest against the killing of George Floyd and racism.

Several players in Germany have made statements with gestures or messages on their clothing since Floyd died on May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee for several minutes on his neck.

The federation says it opposes punishing any players because it believes their anti-racism messages match the federation’s own principles.

Germany’s approach has the backing of FIFA. The governing body of world soccer said Tuesday that such demonstrations “deserve an applause and not a punishment.”


AFC urged to mandate human rights into 2027 Asian Cup bids

UNDATED (AP) — A global activist group is urging Asia’s soccer body to mandate respecting human rights into bidding for and organizing the 2027 Asian Cup.

Expected bidders include India, Iran, Qatar and Saudi Arabia ahead of a June 30 deadline set by the Asian Football Confederation to enter the contest.

The Sport & Rights Alliance is a group of trade unions and rights advocates including Human Rights Watch and Transparency International. It has asked the AFC to apply the same rights standards FIFA set for the 2026 World Cup that the United States, Mexico and Canada will co-host.

Key issues cited include protecting labor rights, minority groups and media, plus allowing independent monitoring of tournament operations for the next seven years.


Fauci is runner-up at Belmont

NEW YORK (AP) — A horse named Dr. Anthony Fauci made his much-anticipated debut Wednesday at Belmont Park.

He honored his namesake’s stance on social distancing while finishing second in the third race, well behind Prisoner and well ahead of third-place Indoctrinate. The 2-year-old colt is the first of a series of horses inspired by the coronavirus pandemic and the latest tribute to the respected director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Co-owner Phillip Antonacci picked the name Fauci in mid-March after the 79-year-old started doing daily coronavirus briefings from the White House.