Aliu takes aim at NHL and lack of inclusivity; Duchene puts health, integrity for return above all else — Toronto Sun

Hockey is not for everyone. Read More

Aliu takes aim at NHL and lack of inclusivity; Duchene puts health, integrity for return above all else — Toronto Sun

Hockey is not for everyone.

That’s the argument being made by Akim Aliu in a story he has written for The Players’ Tribune, published on Tuesday.

It’s also the title of the piece, with Aliu taking to task the National Hockey League’s “Hockey is for Everyone” campaign.

“The purpose of this story is not to drag everyone in hockey, or the sport itself, into the mud,” Aliu wrote. “This is about the biggest problems facing the game I love — and how we can fix them.

“I’m talking about the racism, misogyny, bullying and homophobia that permeates the culture of hockey. These issues have ramifications that most cannot — or will not — see. They are not fun to talk about.”

Aliu recounted some of his experiences that have been documented previously, including hazing incidents in the Ontario Hockey League involving Steve Downie, his Windsor Spitfires teammate at the time, and incidents with Bill Peters, his coach with Rockford of the American Hockey League, during which Peters used the N-word. Peters acknowledged last November using the “offensive language” a decade ago toward Aliu and resigned from his job as coach of the Calgary Flames.

“I speak about the racism in the game because that’s what I endured,” Aliu said. “But there are countless stories of white boys and girls being chewed up and spit out by hockey because of the sexuality or their gender identification — and those issues deserve just as much attention.”

Aliu noted he was “fortunate” to meet with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly at the end of 2019 to discuss some of the issues that he sees in the game, and that those discussions toward greater inclusivity continue.

But much work has to be done, Aliu said. Changes at the grassroots level would be a start, and the NHL could be more open to interviewing minorities for coaching positions.

“We should be showing off the diversity our game is capable of having,” Aliu said. “I know there are kids like me out there who have a hard time seeing themselves in the NHL.”

To finish the piece, Aliu said: “Hockey is not for everyone. Not yet.

But it damn sure should be.”

An attempt by Postmedia to reach Downie was not successful.

VITAL ISSUES

For Matt Duchene, the return of the NHL to play at some point in the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic, if that happens, must have two vital elements: Health and safety for all involved, and integrity of the game.

“For the players, for the coaches, the training staff, everything — it needs to be safe,” the Nashville Predators forward said during an interview Sportsnet 590 The Fan on Tuesday.

“We can’t have any risk of anybody getting this thing and I think that’s going to be our ultimate, biggest hurdle for every sport coming back. Guys have families, guys have young children, I think it’s just (important) that we can’t put sports and the business of sports and the revenue and all that above that.”

The NHL seriously is considering a 24-team playoff format once play resumes, with the majority of logistics to be ironed out. It’s not yet clear how the announcement on Tuesday by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the Canada-U.S. border will be closed to all non-essential travel for another month will impact the NHL’s plans, but the league is hopeful that any affect would be minimal.

“The integrity of our game has to be maintained,” Duchene said, “with what the Stanley Cup means with the guys’ names on the Cup, what they went through, 82 games, and then 20-plus games to win the Stanley Cup.

“I would like to see as traditional a format as possible. There is no fair way to say who should be in and who should be out because of not playing the full season.

“For lack of a better word, somebody is going to get screwed. Let’s keep it as traditional as possible. I would love to see us jump to a 16-team playoff, normal playoff, four out of seven, maybe you are playing a little more frequently because guys are going to be fresh and you can play a game at 3 o’clock on Friday and play at 7 on Saturday and there is no travel.

“You don’t want to have a COVID Cup. I’m worried that if we come back and force this thing and it’s gimmicky or if it’s not quite right, whoever wins the Cup is going to have people trying to take it away from them their whole lives. They don’t deserve that, the guys who come back and ultimately win it.

“Our game is one of the games that has the most integrity in the world and I know guys are going to want this to mean something if we do come back.”

ICE CHIPS

CCM Hockey announced that the first 100,000 surgical masks it is donating to protect front-line medical workers in the battle against COVID-19 have arrived. The Montreal-based company, with help from Air Canada, has arranged for delivery of the masks and has coordinated with health authorities across Canada to distribute the masks immediately … The National Women’s Hockey League announced that the Toronto entry to begin play in the 2020-21 season will be called the Toronto Six … Your 2019-20 American Hockey League all-rookie team: Goaltender Cayden Primeau (Laval/Montreal); defencemen Joey Keane (Hartford/Charlotte/Carolina) and Brogan Rafferty (Utica/Vancouver); and forwards Alex Formenton (Belleville/Ottawa), Josh Norris (Belleville/Ottawa) and Jack Studnicka (Providence/Boston).0 

Angry ump: Garcia says he kept quiet to protect son-in-law — Networthy Newz

Former umpire Richie Garcia ended a decade of silence over his firing as a Major League Baseball supervisor, telling The Associated Press he kept quiet to protect his son-in-law and daughterBy RONALD BLUM AP Baseball WriterMay 19, 2020, 6:39 AM5 min readNEW YORK — Richie Garcia was among baseball’s best-rated and most popular umpires, and…

Angry ump: Garcia says he kept quiet to protect son-in-law — Networthy Newz

RONALD BLUM AP Baseball Writer

May 19, 2020, 6: 39 AM

5 min read

NEW YORK —
Richie Garcia was among baseball’s best-rated and most popular umpires, and like many umps was known for the ones he missed: the Jeffrey Maier call in the playoffs, the pitch to Tino Martinez in the World Series.

He lost his job in the failed labor strategy of mass resignations in 1999 and was welcomed back to Major League Baseball two years later as a supervisor. Then, out of nowhere it seemed, he was fired on the eve of the 2010 season.

Garcia stayed quiet for a decade, not wanting to cause any problems for son-in-law Vic Carapazza, among the top umps of the current group.

Now, at 77, Garcia is fed up. He’s feeling impugned by a former colleague in a lawsuit Garcia has nothing to do with.

“I worked too hard to keep a good reputation in baseball for these people to just come out and say whatever the hell they want, to just say things just out of the clear blue sky,” Garcia said during a series of interviews in the past month with The Associated Press.

“I’ve kept my mouth shut all these years because of my son-in-law. I kept my mouth shut because I’m protecting him and my daughter. And I’m just sick of it,” he said.

A big league umpire from 1975-99 and a supervisor for nine years, Garcia was abruptly dismissed. The commissioner’s office announced his departure two days before opening day. No reason was given.

Garcia never tried to explain.

Then last month, a May 2019 deposition by umpire supervisor Randy Marsh was publicly filed by lawyers for umpire Ángel Hernández, who sued MLB for race discrimination. Marsh alleged Garcia was fired because he attended minor league games involving Carapazza, who worked his first big league game seven days after Garcia’s departure was announced.

“His son-in-law was umpiring in the minor leagues, was in strong consideration for promotion to the major leagues, and he was told not to go watch him work, because of being related to him,” Marsh testified. “He continued to do so. He had been told not to do it, and he continued to do it.”

Marsh told the AP in a telephone interview Monday that he spoke incorrectly during his deposition and he wanted to set the public record straight.

“I had no idea what reasoning they gave him for being fired and had heard from working with Rich Rieker — who was a supervisor during all those times — was that at one point he was told not to go watch his son-in-law umpire,” Marsh said. “I probably mis-worded it when I was deposed. It shouldn’t come out like that.”

Garcia attributed his firing to Rob Manfred, then MLB’s executive vice president for labor relations and now commissioner, and Jimmie Lee Solomon, then executive vice president of baseball operations. Garcia was let go along with fellow supervisors Marty Springstead and Jim McKean, and they were replaced by Marsh and Charlie Reliford.

MLB declined comment on behalf of Rieker and Manfred, who succeeded Bud Selig as commissioner in 2015.

“Nobody had it in for anybody,” said Solomon, who left MLB in 2010. “But there was a desire, a general desire, to upgrade our situation a little bit. The old-school ways we felt were going to end up biting us and we needed to get some new blood in.”

Garcia said his relationship with Manfred became strained when he allowed his photo to be used by ESO, a company launched by former vice president of umpires Ralph Nelson. Garcia said Solomon was upset over Garcia’s decision to terminate a minor league umpire, which Solomon denied.

After reading Marsh’s testimony, Garcia was concerned the allegation might harm Carapazza, who is married to Garcia’s daughter Stephanie.

“I wanted to clear his ability to be a big league umpire and not have people think he got there because of me,” Garcia said.

Garcia, now living in Clearwater, Florida, worked four World Series and was behind the plate for Len Barker’s perfect game in 1981.

He still is criticized for two postseason decisions. He didn’t call fan interference on the 12-year-old Maier and allowed Derek Jeter’s home run over Baltimore right fielder Tony Tarasco in the 1996 AL Championship Series opener.

In Game 1 of the 1998 World Series at Yankee Stadium, Garcia called a ball on a 2-2 pitch by San Diego lefty Mark Langston that appeared to be in the strike zone. Martinez hit the next pitch for a tiebreaking grand slam.

Garcia got a glowing year-end appraisal from then-supervisor Mike Port in 2008 — Garcia said it was the last one he received. “Consistently exceeds goals and competencies,” it read, according to a copy obtained by the AP.

Joe West, head of the umpires’ union at the time of the firing, backed Garcia’s account.

“‘I don’t want to be in a situation where I have a conflict of interest because he’s my son-in-law,‘” West recalled Garcia explaining. “And then he said: `I’m just not going to write a report on him.’”

———

Magic Johnson will provide $100 million to fund loans for minority-owned businesses struggling amid pandemic — KTLA

Lakers legend Magic Johnson may no longer be playing in the NBA, but the Hall of Fame member is still making valuable assists. Johnson announced that EquiTrust Life Insurance Co., of which he owns a majority, is providing $100 million in capital to fund federal loans for minority and women business owners who have been […]

Magic Johnson will provide $100 million to fund loans for minority-owned businesses struggling amid pandemic — KTLA

Lakers legend Magic Johnson may no longer be playing in the NBA, but the Hall of Fame member is still making valuable assists.

Johnson announced that EquiTrust Life Insurance Co., of which he owns a majority, is providing $100 million in capital to fund federal loans for minority and women business owners who have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

EquiTrust will work with MBE Capital Partners, a lender that specializes in asset-based loans for minority-owned small businesses, to distribute the loans through the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program.

The loans are aimed at supporting people of color and women who operate businesses in underserved communities, according to a news release.

The news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

“These are incredible businesses, small businesses, that have been the pillar of our community that also employ a lot of black and brown people in our community,” Johnson said Sunday on MSNBC. “… We wanted to make sure that minority-owned businesses got small business loans through the PPP program.”

Concerns about people of color accessing loans

The partnership was borne out of a concern that women and people of color were having difficulty accessing the loans offered by the Small Business Administration’s emergency coronavirus relief program — part of the federal government’s massive stimulus package.

“Johnson’s EquiTrust is providing critical financial support to underserved communities and businesses that have been traditionally neglected,” EquiTrust and MBE Capital Partners said in a joint news release. “These small and diverse businesses often have difficulty developing strong lending relationships with big banks.”

The goal is to help 100,000 businesses secure resources that will sustain them through the pandemic, MBE Capital CEO Rafael Martinez said on MSNBC.

SBA program has come under criticism

The Paycheck Protection Program has been plagued by technical hiccups and questions about whether lenders were prioritizing the businesses that needed the money most after several deep-pocketed companies received loans, including the Los Angeles Lakers — the storied NBA franchise that Johnson was long affiliated with. The team returned the money.

After the initial $349 billion Congress allocated to the program ran dry, lawmakers replenished the fund with an additional $310 billion. Still, there have been concerns that money earmarked for smaller lenders is running low.

Advocacy organizations say businesses owned by people of color are inherently at a disadvantage. The funds are accessed through banks and participating SBA lenders — relationships that people of color are less likely to have.

The Center for Responsible Lending estimated in April that approximately 95% of black-owned businesses, 91% of Latino-owned businesses, 91% of Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander-owned businesses and 75% of Asian-owned businesses were unlikely to receive a PPP loan through a mainstream bank or credit union.

The federal CARES Act, which created the Paycheck Protection Program, instructed the SBA to prioritize underserved and rural markets. But a recent inspector general report found that the agency had not communicated this priority to lenders.

The report also found that the SBA did not require demographic data to identify borrowers of the program in underserved markets, making it hard to determine how much funding was going towards the intended communities.

Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic undergoing season ending wrist surgery —

Utah Jazz Forward Bojan Bogdanovic will not be returning to the Jazz this season. Bogdanovic will be undergoing surgery on his right wrist that will make him miss the remainder of the season if the NBA returns. Bogdanovic hurt his right wrist earlier on in the season, but decided to keep playing and have surgery […]

Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic undergoing season ending wrist surgery —

Belmont Stakes will lead off Triple Crown on June 20 without fans — Press Telegram

The Belmont Stakes will be run June 20 in New York without fans and serve as the opening leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown for the first time in the sport’s history. The New York Racing Association on Tuesday unveiled the rescheduled date for the Belmont, which will also be contested at a shorter distance…

Belmont Stakes will lead off Triple Crown on June 20 without fans — Press Telegram

The Belmont Stakes will be run June 20 in New York without fans and serve as the opening leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown for the first time in the sport’s history.

The New York Racing Association on Tuesday unveiled the rescheduled date for the Belmont, which will also be contested at a shorter distance than usual. The 2020 Belmont will be 1 1/8 miles instead of the 1 1/2-mile “test of the champion” that has been the race’s trademark for almost a century.

“The Belmont Stakes is a New York institution that will provide world-class entertainment for sports fans during these challenging times,” NYRA president and CEO Dave O’Rourke said. “While this will certainly be a unique running of this historic race, we are grateful to be able to hold the Belmont Stakes in 2020.”

This is the first time the Belmont will lead off the Triple Crown ahead of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. The Kentucky Derby was moved from May 2 to Sept. 5 and the Preakness from May 16 to Oct. 3 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Belmont was originally scheduled for June 6. But racing in New York halted in late March after a backstretch worker tested positive for COVID-19, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo didn’t give the green light to resume until Saturday.

Live racing is gradually ramping up operations across North America because tracks feel they can operate safely and still make money without fans on site because of online betting and TV revenue. More than $90 million was wagered off track last year on Belmont day, and NYRA gets a cut of that money along with revenue from NBC.

Horse racing officials have grappled with the complexities of a shifted Triple Crown season that doesn’t require the same of 3-year-olds in contention as it has in years past. The Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont are usually run during a six-week span in the spring.

“Everything’s going to be different this year, right?” trainer Mark Casse said. “If well-planned out, it can be just as exciting. Why not? I don’t know if it’s necessarily the time of year. It’s just the events, and you’re still going to have great events.”

The Belmont is only being run two weeks after it was scheduled, but the shorter distance changes the complexion of the race and the Triple Crown. It has been run at 1 1/2 miles each year dating to 1926 and last ran at 1 1/8 miles in 1894.

NYRA said the distance adjustment was made “to properly account for the schedule adjustments to the Triple Crown series and overall calendar for 3-year-olds in training.”

Just 13 horses have won the Triple Crown, most recently Justify in 2018 and American Pharoah in 2015. –The Associated Press.

Kevin Durant gone from the Warriors, far from forgotten — Times-Standard

Hey Kevin Durant, the night man from the Hotel California would like a word with you: You can check out of the Golden State any time you like, but you can never leave. It’s going on 11 months since Durant forced his passage from the Warriors to the Brooklyn Nets and it seems he has…

Kevin Durant gone from the Warriors, far from forgotten — Times-Standard

Hey Kevin Durant, the night man from the Hotel California would like a word with you:

You can check out of the Golden State any time you like, but you can never leave.

It’s going on 11 months since Durant forced his passage from the Warriors to the Brooklyn Nets and it seems he has never left. During that time he has rehabilitated his torn Achilles tendon. He has (presumably) bonded with his new besties. He has mused about representing the United States in the 2020 Olympics in Japan (when that was still a thing). He revealed that before the 2015-16 season he intended to bolt the Oklahoma City Thunder to join the Warriors because his game was growing and “I didn’t play with a lot of skill guys.”

What Durant has not done in the interim: play in an official game, disengage from former teammate Draymond Green, and shaken the dust off his Warriors’ tenure.

Give you an example: Recently the San Francisco Chronicle excerpted a new book, “The Victory Machine: The Making and Unmaking of the Warriors Dynasty,” authored by Ethan Strauss, who has covered the team for ESPN, and most recently, The Athletic.

The excerpts, to say the least, feed into the narrative that Durant is sensitive and thin-skinned.

From the book:

“KD … accused me of trying to ‘rile up Steph’s fans. He expressed that this was a constant theme in the Bay. All of us local (reporters) just wanted to kiss Steph’s ass at (Durant’s) expense. This was KD’s consistent lament. He would frequently squabble in direct-message conversations with the Warriors fans on Twitter, frequently accusing them of favoring Steph at his expense. In one such exchange that foreshadowed things to come, he was asked by the WarriorsWorld account whether two-time MVP Steph Curry or Kyrie Irving was the better player. ‘I gotta really sit down and analyze it,’ (Durant) said.”

In fairness, Durant was in the spotlight his entire time with the Warriors, and was a target for fans and NBA players who believed he “broke the NBA” when he joined up with the dynastic Warriors. He didn’t ask for that. But he seemed incapable of ignoring the noise.

The Chron’s post included an exchange between Durant and Connor Letourneau, the newspaper’s Warriors beat reporter who had appeared on a podcast of which Durant was made aware. Again, the encounter fed into the KD scouting report — seemingly seeking validation.

“I’m just standing in the locker room near the door, on my phone and he is walking out of the locker room and he stops and he looks at me and he just goes, ‘Have I been good to you?,’” Letourneau told Strauss. “I’m like, ‘What do you mean have you been good to me?’ And he just keeps repeating himself over and over, ‘Have I been good to you? Have I been good to you?’ He’s kind of creeping towards me, and I have no idea what he’s upset about at this point. I have no idea what’s going on.”

Finally, over the weekend Warriors GM Bob Myers who has been watching “The Last Dance,” the story of the Michael Jordan Bulls, couldn’t help but see parallels between the Bulls and the the Warriors — starting with two great teams trying to mesh strong personalities, and navigate the grind of high-stakes competition.

“The second (NBA title) with Kevin it felt like, ‘Well, we just did what we were supposed to do, and great job,” Myers told ESPN’s Nick Friedell. “It wasn’t joy. I’m sure a lot of people felt differently. It wasn’t anybody’s fault. I think there’s just a weight to everything.”

Jaylen Brown Explains Awesome Way He’s Stayed In Shape During NBA Hiatus — NESN.com

Professional athletes have had to get creative in regards to their training with the coronavirus pausing seasons and closing team facilities. Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown has been able to do just that. With help from his grandfather, Willie Brown, the fourth-year Celtic is working hard to make sure he’s ready for whenever the NBA…

Jaylen Brown Explains Awesome Way He’s Stayed In Shape During NBA Hiatus — NESN.com

Professional athletes have had to get creative in regards to their training with the coronavirus pausing seasons and closing team facilities. Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown has been able to do just that. With help from his grandfather, Willie Brown, the fourth-year Celtic is working hard to make sure he’s ready for whenever the NBA season resumes. Jaylen told The Boston Globe that Willie, who spent his earlier days sparring with Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and Sonny Liston, has been training the 23-year-old with a pair of boxing gloves on. “We said we needed him to help me train and get back ready for the season, so he could feel comfortable sticking around here,” Jaylen told The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach in a story published Monday. “But on the other side of that, he’s like, ‘OK, we’re going to train then.’ We’ve been training hard and a lot,” the No. 3 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft said. “On one hand, it’s great that he’s comfortable being here, but on the other he’s making me work my (butt) off.” Jaylen admitted the workouts are a bit different than the ones he’s grown used to at Auerbach Center. “He has me doing a lot of things I’ve never done before,” Jaylen said. “It’s the old way of training. Everything he does is kind of a throwback, but it’s good. He’s never been stagnant, and I got that from him.” Boston fans certainly are eager to see how it will pay off for Jaylen when the Celtics (hopefully) are able to return to the hardwood.

Read more at: https://nesn.com/2020/05/jaylen-brown-explains-awesome-way-hes-stayed-in-shape-during-nba-hiatus/

LeBron James Trained For NFL During 2011 NBA Lockout, Received Contract — NESN.com

Could LeBron James actually have taken his talents to the NFL? While the thought may have ran its course in years past, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar admitted the rumors actually were true. James, speaking on his own brand’s “Uninterrupted” podcast on Monday, explained that he did begin to “train to be a football player”…

LeBron James Trained For NFL During 2011 NBA Lockout, Received Contract — NESN.com

Could LeBron James actually have taken his talents to the NFL? While the thought may have ran its course in years past, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar admitted the rumors actually were true. James, speaking on his own brand’s “Uninterrupted” podcast on Monday, explained that he did begin to “train to be a football player” during the 2011 NBA lockout, which lasted 161 days from July to December. “To be honest, it actually was. I had no idea how long the lockout was going to be and myself and my trainer, Mike Mancias, we really started to actually train to be a football player when it came to like October and November,” James said. “We started to clock our times with the 40s. We started to add more to the bench presses and things of that nature. We started to add more sledding to our agenda with our workouts. “The thoughts came into my mind, the thoughts came into my mind,” James added. “But never having the ability to finish my high school career of playing like my senior year, I have dreams all the time of playing football.”

Read more at: https://nesn.com/2020/05/lebron-james-trained-for-nfl-during-2011-nba-lockout-received-contract/