Players counter MLB plan by proposing 70-game season
UNDATED (AP) — Baseball players have proposed a 70-game regular-season schedule, leaving them and the teams 10 games and about $275 million apart on plans to start the coronavirus-delayed season.
As part of the union’s proposal Thursday, players would wear advertisement patches on their uniforms during all games for the first time in major league history. People with knowledge of the proposal said it included $1.73 billion in salaries, plus a $50 million postseason pool.
On Wednesday, Major League Baseball said a framework for the season had emerged from discussions between Commissioner Rob Manfred and players' association head Tony Clark. People familiar with the proposed framework said it called for a 60-game regular-season schedule that would have $1.48 billion in salaries plus a $25 million players' postseason pool.
Both MLB and the union proposed starting the season on July 19, and players said it should end Sept. 30, three days later than management.
In other news related to the COVID-19 pandemic:
— Japanese baseball has managed to do what American baseball has not: play ball. The world’s second-most famous league has opened a season that will be shortened from its regular 143 games to 120. That’s twice as many MLB figures to play. The regular season is to end on Nov. 7 and be followed by post-season play. The start of the season was delayed for three months by the coronavirus pandemic. All 12 teams were scheduled to begin play in stadiums without fans. Two games were in open-air stadiums in Tokyo and Yokohama. The other four were in domed facilities in Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka and Saitama prefecture.
— The University of Texas says 13 football players have tested positive for COVID-19 or are presumed positive, and contact tracing has 10 more in isolation. Texas started bringing football players back to campus for workouts on June 8. The school has also identified four other players who tested positive for the COVID-19 antibody. Elsewhere, Kansas State officials reported Wednesday night that eight Wildcats athletes have tested positive for COVID-19 out of 130 tested.
— Michigan State’s athletic department says it conducted COVID-19 testing on 124 athletes, and one tested positive and will be isolated for 10 to 14 days. Michigan also disclosed results from its testing. A physician with the athletic department says the school has had two positive tests on athletes, out of 221 tests. Both schools said no athletic department staff members tested positive.
— The Atlantic Coast Conference is moving its football media days online. That makes it the last of the 10 Football Bowl Subdivision leagues to announce it is going virtual because of concerns about COVID-19. The ACC Football Kickoff was originally scheduled to be held at The Westin in Charlotte, North Carolina. It has been rescheduled for July 21-23 with coverage on the ACC Network.
— The Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx are cutting pay and staff because of the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both teams are owned by Glen Taylor. The organization said it has temporarily reduced salaries for employees earning $70,000 or more annually and laid off an unspecified amount of its full-time workforce. The virus outbreak prompted the NBA to halt play on March 11. The WNBA has yet to begin the 2020 season.
NFL Network, RedZone goes dark on DISH Network, Sling TV
LOS ANGELES (AP) — NFL Network and NFL RedZone went dark on DISH Network and Sling TV Thursday night as both sides try to reach a new distribution agreement.
The league says in a release that “while NFL Media remains committed to negotiating an agreement and has offered terms consistent with those in place with other distributors, DISH has not agreed.”
DISH says on its website that “the NFL has chosen to remove their channels during these unprecedented times” and that they hope to reach an agreement before the season starts.
The lack of an agreement impacts 11.32 million subscribers. DISH has 9.01 million and Sling TV accounts for another 2.31 million.
In other NFL news:
— A person with direct knowledge of the situation says All-Pro safety Jamal Adams has requested a trade from the New York Jets amid a contract dispute. The 24-year-old has been seeking a contract extension, and the Jets have said they want the safety to remain a member of the team his entire career. But the conflict apparently is about the timing: Adams wants the extension now, while the team prefers to wait until next year, at the earliest.The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Thursday because neither Adams nor the team announced the player's trade request. ESPN and the New York Daily News first reported Adams seeking a trade.
— Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward is confident the club will present a united front if it opts to make a public stand against social injustice. The Steelers inadvertently caused a firestorm in 2017 when a miscommunication left tackle and Army veteran Al Villanueva on the field for the national anthem while his teammates waited in darkness in a tunnel. Heyward said the fallout from the mix-up still stings. He said the team will make any public stand together, pointing out players will have plenty of opportunities off the field to express their own personal impact in the change Heyward says is necessary.
Southeastern Conference pushing Mississippi to change flag
UNDATED (AP) — The Southeastern Conference is considering barring league championship events in Mississippi until the state changes its Confederate-based flag.
Commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement that “It is past time for change to be made to the flag of the State of Mississippi,” Sankey said “In the event there is no change, there will be consideration of precluding Southeastern Conference championship events from being conducted in the State of Mississippi until the flag is changed.”
The NCAA already said it would not schedule postseason events in Mississippi because of the flag that features the Confederate Battle Flag in the upper left corner.
Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum released a statement after Sankey’s comments.
GATOR BAIT CHANT-FLORIDA
Univ. of Florida ends 'gator bait' cheer, cites racism
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The University of Florida is ending its “gator bait” cheer at football games and other sports events because of its racial connotations.
President Kent Fuchs said in a letter to the university's faculty, students and staff Thursday that the cheer has a “horrific historic racist imagery” involving African American people, especially children, being used as bait for alligators.
The university's sports teams in the Southeastern Conference are nicknamed the Gators. In the past, the school's band would strike up a “gator bait” tune and fans would respond with their arms doing a chomping motion while shouting the slogan.
The letter outlined other steps the university in Gainesville, Florida, is taking on racial issues following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. Floyd's death has sparked nationwide protests focused on police brutality against African Americans.
Tennessee coach says RB Tim Jordan no longer with Vols
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt says running back Tim Jordan is no longer on the team after he was arrested May 30 in Florida on gun and marijuana charges.
Jordan would have been a senior for the Volunteers, and the native of Bartow, Florida, played in 12 games last season. He finished third with 428 yards rushing on 104 carries with one touchdown, and he also caught six passes for 46 yards.
Asked about Jordan's status on the Volunteers during a video conference call Thursday, Pruitt said only: “He is no longer on our team.”
Jordan was released on $2,000 bail May 30 after being arrested during a traffic stop that morning in Lakeland near his hometown. He was charged with carrying a concealed firearm, possessing narcotic paraphernalia and having 20 grams or less of cannabis.
Mets sign Joe Suozzi, son of Queens congressman, for $20,000
UNDATED (AP) — Boston College outfielder Joe Suozzi, whose father is a congressman representing parts of Queens and Long Island, has agreed to a minor league contract with the New York Mets that includes a $20,000 signing bonus.
The Eagles made the announcement. The Mets said they plan to announce all their amateur signings simultaneously at a later date.
Souzzi hit .414 with 14 runs and 16 RBIs and had a 14-game hitting streak in a season shortened to 15 games due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Thomas Suozzi was elected to congress in November 2016. He is a former Nassau County executive and mayor of Glen Cove.
In other MLB news:
— Minnesota Twins slugger Miguel Sanó has told a Dominican Republic newspaper he's being blackmailed, having been accused of kidnapping and assault. The Twins said Thursday they're aware of the report in El Nuevo Diario and still trying to gather more information about the situation surrounding Sanó, who signed a three-year, $30 million contract in January.
Poulter sets pace and Spieth turns it around at Hilton Head
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — The RBC Heritage began two months later than usual with a little rain, a little sunshine, a lot of birdies — and the only fans were residents whose homes line the course.
Ian Poulter holed a 30-foot birdie putt and followed with a 5-iron to 4 feet for a birdie that closed out his round of 7-under 64, giving him a share of the lead Thursday with Mark Hubbard at Hilton Head.
The RBC Heritage, typically a week after the Masters in April, is the second tournament since the PGA Tour returned after 90 days from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The top three players in the world are at Hilton Head — Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas — and none broke par on a day in which 66 players in the 151-man field shot in the 60s
Jordan Spieth made a triple-bogey 7 and then had a career-best six straight birdies on his back nine and finished with seven birdies over his last eight holes for a 66.
Colonial winner Daniel Berger, Brooks Koepka, Ernie Els and that incredible bulk, Bryson DeChambeau, were in the large group at 67.
Rubio introduces NIL bill to push NCAA changes
UNDATED (AP) — Sen. Marco Rubio is introducing a bill that would protect the NCAA from being challenged in court if the association changes its rules to allow athletes to earn money for endorsement deals and personal appearances.
The Florida Republican’s bill comes six days after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into a law a bill that allows college athletes to be compensated for their names, images and likenesses. That law goes into effect July 2021. The NCAA is seeking help from Congress as more states push forward their own bills.
Earlier this week, the NCAA was hit with an antitrust lawsuit seeking damages for current and former athletes that could cost the association millions.