Major League Baseball players are creatures of habit — especially starting pitchers — but good luck trying to find some normalcy during the most unpredictable season in the history of the sport. Read MoreShoemaker, Jays try to win ‘mental and physical battle’ of constant schedule disruption — Toronto Sun
Brad Stevens is encouraged by Kemba Walker’s recovery. The Boston Celtics head coach told reporters Saturday, following the team’s 119-112 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night, the veteran point guard has “responded well.” Walker, who has been nursing a knee injury throughout much of the season, played 19 minutes on what Stevens explained…Brad Stevens Explains How Kemba Walker’s Knee Has Fared After Friday’s Loss — NESN.com
The NBA’s suspension on March 11 was just the first domino to fall in what would become a worldwide swath. Continue reading →NBA champions Toronto Raptors ready to pick up where they left off — Global News
By Lori Ewing The Canadian Press
Posted August 1, 2020 12:12 pm
The Toronto Raptors were the hottest team in the NBA in early March, on a league-best four-game winning streak, coming off a solid west coast road swing and having just clinched a playoff spot. They were gleefully making their pre-season critics eat their words.
Then the threat of COVID-19 swept through sports like a prairie fire. The NBA’s suspension on March 11 was just the first domino to fall in what would become a worldwide swath.
Now, 145 days after the Raptors last played a meaningful game — a 101-92 win against the Jazz on March 9 — the Raptors will resume defence of their NBA championship Saturday against the Los Angeles Lakers in a world that looks vastly different than when they walked off the court in Utah.
The Raptors will try to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy again in the NBA bubble’s almost-empty arena at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., while the coronavirus rages all around them. And they hope to continue their work on social justice while they’re at it.
After the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer that sparked an American uprising, players worried that the NBA’s resumption would stall the momentum. Their voices wouldn’t be heard. So the league and its players have dedicated much of the restart to racial justice work.
As the team’s senior basketball adviser Wayne Embry says in a Raptors’ promo video: “We are not just returning to play, we are coming back to fight — ball in hand and fist held high.”
The Raptors are No. 2 in the Eastern Conference (46-18), and shouldn’t fall any lower than third through the eight seeding-round games that determine post-season matchups.
While the loss of Kawhi Leonard to the Los Angeles Clippers last summer had people scoffing at Toronto’s chances at another deep playoff run, the Raptors paid no attention, climbing to second in the conference despite being hobbled by injuries — Toronto was fifth worst in the league in games lost to injury.
A place in the NBA Finals would mean being sequestered at the NBA’s campus until mid-October. Coach Nick Nurse believes his team has what it takes to ring in the fall at Disney World.
“I think we’ve got some special players, I think we’ve got a good combination of experience with some energetic youth, I think we play defence and we really like to play defence. I think if you play defence at a level that we’re capable of doing it, you can go a long ways any season, really,” he said.
Nurse spoke of the “specialness” of certain players, and then proceeded to list off virtually his whole roster.
“It’s a good group of guys, and we’ve got some toughness and we love to play and we love to compete,” he said. “We’re looking forward to being able to do what we do out there and we think we’re hard to beat.”
The Raptors have the toughest schedule of the 22 teams in the bubble, facing teams such as Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Boston over the next two weeks.
Nurse said his players can’t wait to get going.
“The feel, there’s an excitement and an energy there but it seems to be very similar, back to regular season,” he said. “It feels like it’s March . . . as far as the games go, it’s an attitude that it’s March rather than November, October (the traditional start of the regular season), whatever.”4:05Coronavirus: How major sports leagues are returning to play amid pandemicCoronavirus: How major sports leagues are returning to play amid pandemic
Injuries are a concern after a four-month layoff that for many players was the longest of their career.
Nurse likely won’t tighten up his rotation until the playoffs, to allow his players time to ease back into playing full-out games. But it could be tough to rein them in.STORY CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
“You know it’s gonna be too hard for me and players like myself and all pros to hold back,” scrappy guard Kyle Lowry said. “Nick’s gonna do his best for us and we trust him and what he’s gonna do and we’re gonna roll with the decisions that he makes and we’re gonna go out there and try to get better and try to win every game.”
Serge Ibaka believes the Raptors’ experience and sense of togetherness will carry them far into the post-season.
“We have that confidence in us now, after last year, we believe in us,” he said. “I think it’s our confidence, nobody can take that from us, we trust each other, we know what to do to win. . . No matter what’s going around out there, whatever they’re saying (about us), I think that’s one thing they cannot take from us is our confidence, and how we live with each other, how we know how to play with each other, I think one thing that nobody can take that from us.”
Is there anything Lowry is curious about seeing from his team after the long hiatus?
“Nah,” he said. “I just want to get back to work, to be honest with you.”
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With yet another team ravaged by COVID-19, the very viability of the 2020 MLB season is in jeopardyReport: More than five St. Louis Cardinals players test positive for COVID-19 — HardballTalk | NBC Sports
Craig Mish reports that “more than five” St. Louis Cardinals players and/or staff have tested positive for COVID-19.
Yesterday the Cardinals-Brewers game was postponed due to two positive tests. With more than seven now, there is no way the Cardinals can field a team or responsibly play, so assume the entire Cardinals-Brewers series will be postponed. UPDATE: tonight’s game is postponed. See below for additional schedule alterations and updates regarding the Cardinals, Brewers, Phillies, Marlins, and other teams.
This news comes less than an hour after reports that the Miami Marlins had no new positive tests, keeping their number at 18. it also comes after the Phillies announced that they had no new positives either. While it’s hard to draw any hard and fast conclusions from all of that, there is a strong suggestion that cross-team infection — say, between the Marlins and the Phillies — might be a smaller concern than expected (at least one of the infected Phillies was the visiting clubhouse attendant for the Marlins and was in close proximity with them). The Marlins’ and now the Cardinals’ examples, however, suggest that once a team starts getting infections its own roster can be quickly ravaged.
Which shines the light not on the activity of playing baseball, which may not entail a super high risk but, rather, on the protocols surrounding travel, housing, clubhouse deportment, etc., to which individual teams are subject.
Yesterday Rob Manfred pointed the finger at player behavior, saying that they have to shape up or else risk the season being cancelled, but it’s not at all clear yet whether those protocols are sufficient in and of themselves, whether players simply did not properly adhere to them, or whether it was some combination of the two. There is a suggestion that the Marlins acted irresponsibly, but that may not apply to all of their infections. We have no idea yet what may have caused the St. Louis Cardinals outbreak.
All we know for now is that yet another team, and its immediate opponents, stand to be idled for an extended period of time. And that the very viability of the 2020 baseball season is in serious doubt.
UPDATE, 3:29 PM:
Major League Baseball has issued a press release further elaborating on the Cardinals positive tests and laying out the schedule, to the extent it’s able to do so, for the coming days. What follows is the latest information the league is providing.
St. Louis Cardinals: After two Cardinals tested positive on Friday, the entire team was tested in Milwaukee using a rapid COVID-19 test in addition to the normal saliva samples which were sent to the MLB laboratory. The rapid tests indicated that one additional Cardinals player and multiple staff members may be positive. The MLB saliva test results are not yet back.
Philadelphia Phillies: Three Phillies staff members have tested positive since the Marlins series last weekend but no players have. MLB’s press release says, “it appears that two of those individuals’ tests were false positives, and it is unclear if the third individual contracted COVID-19 from Marlins players and staff based on the timing of the positive test.” MLB does not say how it knows they are false positives. The Phillies are scheduled to resume play against the Yankees in New York on Monday. It will be a four-game home-and-home series beginning with two games at Yankee Stadium on Monday, August 3rd and Tuesday, August 4th, followed by two games at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday, August 5th and Thursday, August 6th.
Miami Marlins: The Marlins’ remaining players and staff have been quarantining in Philadelphia since Sunday and have not engaged in any baseball or other activities. The Marlins reported no new positive test results in Friday’s sample collections. The current plan is for the Marlins to resume play against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday in Baltimore where they will play a four-game series from Tuesday, August 4th through Thursday, August 6th with one day including a doubleheader. The Marlins will be the home team for two games.
- The originally scheduled game between the Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on Thursday, August 6th will be rescheduled as part of a doubleheader on Saturday, August 8th. The remainder of their four-game series on Friday and Sunday will remain as scheduled;
- The Marlins and Orioles, who were originally scheduled to play four games against one another this past week, will reschedule that series at a later date, as will the originally scheduled game between the Yankees and Orioles on August 5th.
MLB concluded by saying it will “continue to follow a conservative approach in addressing positive test results because the health and safety of our players, employees and the public at large is paramount. We are in daily contact with the Players Association, public health officials, and our own medical experts in order to make decisions that will best protect individuals from being exposed to COVID-19. We will continue to provide further scheduling updates as necessary.”
So that’s where we are.
Montrezl Harrell is hurting. The Clippers forward has shared some of those feelings publicly the past the few days on Instagram, including Saturday, when he posted a tribute to his grandmother, whom he’d left the team and the bubble to be with before she died. “I LOVE U GRANDMA,” wrote Harrell, the 27-year-old from North…Montrezl Harrell will return to Clippers ‘when he’s ready,’ Doc Rivers says — Press Telegram
Lorenzo Cain is the 15th player to opt out this season.Lorenzo Cain is opting out of 2020 season — HardballTalk | NBC Sports
The Milwaukee Brewers announced that outfielder Lorenzo Cain is opting-out of the 2020 season. He joins 14 other players who have already opted-out.
In the club’s announcement, team president and general manager David Stearns said that the the Brewers “fully support Lorenzo’s decision, and we will miss his talents on the field and leadership in the clubhouse.”
Cain has played in five Brewers games this season, and has gone 6-for-18 with three walks in 21 plate appearances. He is coming off a subpar 2019 campaign in which he hit .260/.325/.372 but during which he provided considerable value on defense, taking home a Gold Glove and posting a leather-heavy 3.0 bWAR.
The decision by Lorenzo Cain to opt-out comes as the Brewers have sat idle for two days while their scheduled opponent this weekend, the St. Louis Cardinals, have experienced a COVID-19 outbreak. It’s unclear when they, or the Brewers for that matter, will play again. It’s understandable that Cain has taken the past day or so to reassess his plans for the year.
The other players who have thus far opted-out:
- Mike Leake, Diamondbacks
- Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals
- Joe Ross, Nationals
- Ian Desmond, Rockies
- Tyson Ross, Free Agent
- David Price, Dodgers
- Welington Castillo, Nationals
- Félix Hernández, Braves
- Nick Markakis, Braves — who then opted back in on July 29
- Hector Noesi, Pirates
- Buster Posey, Giants
- Michael Kopech, White Sox
- Jordan Hicks, Cardinals
- Collin McHugh, Red Sox
- Tim Collins, Rockies
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) August 1, 2020
The New England Patriots reportedly are losing veteran wide receiver depth and have another roster spot to fill. Wide receiver Marqise Lee, who was signed by the Patriots in April, has elected to opt out, a league source told The Boston Globe’s Jim McBride. Lee joins linebacker Dont’a Hightower, safety Patrick Chung, right tackle Marcus…NFL Rumors: Veteran Receiver Becomes Seventh Patriots Player To Opt Out — NESN.com
Not once, but twice Giannis Antetokounmpo narrowly dodged fouling out Friday night. The Milwaukee Bucks star had a pair of calls that would have marked his sixth foul of the night overturned, and it allowed him to stay in and ultimately sink the Celtics in Boston’s 119-112 loss to the Bucks in the first seeding…Marcus Smart Shades Refs For Overturned Giannis Antetokounmpo Foul Call — NESN.com
How he feels in the morning obviously is more important, but for now Kemba Walker is feeling pretty good. Out of an abundance of caution, the Boston Celtics kept the star point guard on a minutes restriction in Friday night’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, and he’ll likely be limited throughout the seeding round. It’s…Kemba Walker’s Knee Felt Good In Minutes-Restricted Game Vs. Bucks — NESN.com