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Houston Astros Fire Two Managers in Massive Cheating Scandal

The Houston Astros fired manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow after Major League Baseball suspended them.

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On Monday, the Houston Astros fired manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow after Major League Baseball suspended them for a year due to accusations of sign-stealing.

The Astros’ actions came only an hour after the managers were suspended for the far-reaching investigation into a scheme to steal signals from rival teams, an act that some say taints the Astros’ 2017 World Series win.

An MLB investigation maintains that during the 2017 and 2018 seasons the Astros chiefs used a series of cameras and video monitors to scrutinize signs by opposing catchers then relayed those signs to their batters to prepare them for pitches. Along with the suspensions, the league fined the team five million dollars and took away two of its draft picks for both 2020 and 2021.

Astros owner Jim Crane noted that once the league handed down its ruling, he fired Hinch and Luhnow. “We need to move forward with a clean slate. [We] will not have this happen again on my watch,” Crane said. Crane also said he was unaware of the scheme.

Trending: In China People Are Posting Signs Cheering Coronavirus Deaths in the U.S.A.

The investigation into sign stealing also threatens to engulf Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who was bench coach for the Astros in 2017. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred’s investigation claims that Cora was an active participant in the scheme.

The league continues to allow sign stealing if done visually on the field, but electronic devices are banned from use. But the winning stats in Houston’s Minute Maid Park seems to show how effective the electronic devices were as the team had a 8-1 record at home but only a 3-6 record on the road where they were not able to use their sign-stealing tech.

Still, despite the obvious disparity, the league will not invalidate the team’s 2017 World Series Title.

In his statement, Commissioner Manfred said that the Astros’ scandal “caused fans, players, executives at other MLB Clubs and members of the media to raise questions about the integrity of games in which the Astros participated. And while it is impossible to determine whether the conduct actually impacted the results on the field, the perception of some that it did causes significant harm to the game.”

Manfred also added that most of the Astros player “received sign information from the scheme or participated in the scheme by helping to decode signs.” Still, no individual player will be punished.

“Assessing discipline of players for this type of conduct is both difficult and impractical,” Manfred said. “It is difficult because virtually all of the Astros’ players had some involvement or knowledge of the scheme, and I am not in a position based on the investigative record to determine with any degree of certainty every player who should be held accountable, or their relative degree of culpability.”

Hinch apologized to the league on Monday for his part in the scheme: “I regret being connected to these events, am disappointed in our club’s actions within this timeline, and I accept the Commissioner’s decision. As a leader and Major League Manager, it is my responsibility to lead players and staff with integrity that represents the game in the best possible way. While the evidence consistently showed I didn’t endorse or participate in the sign stealing practices, I failed to stop them, and I am deeply sorry.”

Luhnow, though, denied having any detailed knowledge of the scheme. But Manfred’s investigation claimed that Luhnow did know, but just did not pay it much attention.

“I am not a cheater. . . . I did not know rules were being broken,” Luhnow said in a statement. He continued saying, the scheme “was executed by lower-level employees working with [Cora]. I am deeply upset that I wasn’t informed of any misconduct because I would have stopped it.”

Along with the one-year suspensions for Hinch and Luhnow, former Astros assistant general manager Brandon Taubman was also handed a suspension through the end of the 2020 season. Taubman had already been fired after unleashing a rant against female reporters last October.

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MLB’s Uniform Supplier Pivots to Join Coronavirus Effort

As we patiently await the return of our national pastime, uniform manufacturers are knocking it out of the park.

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Americans are coming together these days, and in ways that many of us have only read about.

It’s a national mobilization.  Every man, woman, and child has a role to play in our effort to defeat our common viral enemy, COVID-19.  Most of us are practicing good “social distancing” to prevent the spread of the disease.  Some, like medical professionals, are working on the front lines to combat the illness.  Others still are using their fortunes and factories to lend a hand.

With Major League Baseball and the rest of American sports on-hold for the time being, the folks who manufacture uniforms for the big show have decided to shift their focus, and supply our nation’s medical specialists with some much needed equipment of their own.

Fanatics, the company that manufactures uniforms for Major League Baseball, has suspended production on jerseys and is instead using the polyester mesh fabric to make masks and gowns for hospitals in Pennsylvania and nearby states.

New York Yankees and Phillies pinstripes were still in vogue on baseball’s scheduled opening day — only stitched on the protective wear made by the apparel company.

Michael Rubin, the founder and executive chairman of Fanatics, was watching TV last week when he was struck by the idea to turn the 360,000-square foot facility in Easton, Pennsylvania, into a factory for the COVID-19 virus fight.

While Rubin considered how he could make it happen, St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem reached out to Fanatics late last week about the possibility of the company manufacturing masks. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Attorney General Josh Shapiro each contacted Rubin over the weekend and told Rubin the state was in “dire need” of more masks and gowns.

While we may not be able to catch any live baseball for several weeks to come, that doesn’t mean that Americans aren’t capable of teamwork or knocking one out of the park.

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Sports

Olympic Games to be Postponed as World Battles Coronavirus

It was likely only a matter of time before this news broke.

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We’ve known for some time that the effort to contain and curb this novel strain of coronavirus was going to be a gargantuan endeavor, but the latest news out of japan seems to reiterate that belief in ever more serious ways.

Sports fans around the world have understood the severity of the virus for some time, as every major league sport in the nation has postponed or cancelled months’ worth of games in an effort to curb its spread.  The move followed the positive diagnosis of a player for the Utah Jazz of the National Basketball Association, with MLS and MLB announcing their adjustments almost immediately following the NBA.

It was around the same time that the English Premier League suspended play, as well as a slew of international sporting organizations that aren’t often in the spotlight.  It was enough to convince ESPN to bring back the The Ocho, the fictional ESPN8 channel from the frat-pack movie Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.

Now, in much less goofy sporting news, the International Olympic Committee is poised to make a stunning announcement.

Veteran International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound told USA TODAY Sports Monday afternoon that the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are going to be postponed, likely to 2021, with the details to be worked out in the next four weeks.

“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” Pound said in a phone interview. “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.”

Pound, a Canadian who has been one of the most influential members of the IOC for decades, said he believes the IOC will announce its next steps soon.

“It will come in stages,” he said. “We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense.”

It was likely only a matter of time before the coronavirus impacted the world games, and while the ramifications of the postponement could be considered negative in the short term, we will likely realize at the end of this mess that it was the right choice to make.

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Sports

Return of American Sports Pushed Back Again After CDC Warning

This is a truly unprecedented moment in American sports history, and one that will be written about for many decades to come. 

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For many Americans, sports are an all-important part of our lives…and rightly so.

For children, learning a sense of teamwork and sportsmanship is essential to progressing through the social order in a productive way.  For adults, not only are involved in the aforementioned youth sports as coaches and mentors, but the major leagues provide an endless array of entertainment options for single adults and families alike.

But, as our nation deals with the great unknowns of COVID-19, we will need to refrain from enjoying many of these sports due to the potential health risks.  At first, leagues had implemented their own criteria for hiatus.  Major League Soccer opted for a 30-day shutdown.  The MLB pushed opening day back two weeks.  The NHL, NBA, and NASCAR all just boarded up shop with a bit of “TBD” in the game plan moving forward.

Those plans will need to be fluid, however, as the CDC issues further guidance on the matter.

But new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday night seem to suggest that sports in this country could for all intents and purposes be gone until May, if not later.

“CDC, in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings, recommends that for the next 8 weeks, organizers … cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States,” it said. “Events of any size should only be continued if they can be carried out with adherence to guidelines for protecting vulnerable populations, hand hygiene, and social distancing.”

The eight-week window easily exceeds what would have been the remainder of the NBA and NHL regular seasons, plus would cover about the first 25% of the MLB season — or roughly 40 games per team. It would also cast serious doubt on the ability to hold other major U.S. sporting events as planned, such as the Kentucky Derby in early May.

This is a truly unprecedented moment in American sports history, and one that will be written about for many decades to come.

 

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Sports

Every Pro Sport Cancels, Games, Seasons, Tournaments Over Coronavirus Fears

Nearly every major pro sports league has now canceled games and seasons over fears of spreading the coronavirus.

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Nearly every major pro sports league has now either postponed, suspended, or canceled games and seasons over fears of spreading the coronavirus.

The actions from the pro leagues came all at once on Thursday after the CDC proclaimed the coronavirus to be an official pandemic.

The NFL “paused” its 2019-2020 season:

Pro baseball canceled its remaining spring training games:

Pro golf announced that its matches would be played without fans standing around to watch:

The NBA suspended the season due to fears over the virus:

Major League Soccer has suspended games for 30 days with the option of revisiting the suspension at the end of that period:

As to pro football, the NFL announced that it cancelled its spring meeting to address the virus:

College sports have also been affected.

The NCAA also announced that all “Power 5” leagues had cancelled conference tournaments:

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Sports

Major League Soccer Set to Join NBA in Postponing Season Over Virus Fears

Those who are forced to stay home on account of the coronavirus may want to invest in some good books to read.

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When it comes to the COVID-19 strain of coronavirus that is currently flourishing around the globe, it’s not the disease itself that is so terrifying but, rather, it’s the speed at which the virus spreads that has medical authorities spooked.

Those in good health who contract the illness are likely to survive with only minor symptoms, however, even those who don’t show symptoms can unwittingly spread the disease to those around them.  This has the CDC and World Health Organization concerned, and rightly so.

To add insult to injury, the panicked consumerism that has led to toilet paper and face mask shortages around the globe is adding to the trouble, spooking citizens in the US and beyond.

In order to mitigate the ability of COVID-19 to bloom, organizations and corporations that rely on heavily populated events are being forced to rethink their operations…including the NBA.

The NBA is the league in America that has been most affected. They suspended the 2019-20 season on Wednesday night after a Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. His teammate Donovan Mitchell has also tested positive.

As college basketball’s postseason, MLB Opening Day and the NBA and NHL stretch runs approach, the coronavirus is set to have a serious effect on American sports. Abroad, soccer games in Europe are already being played in empty arenas without fans in certain countries.

Major League Soccer, who have experienced massive growth over the past three seasons, looks to be taking the same approach.

Major League Soccer suspended match play for 30 days effective immediately Thursday, making it the latest professional sports league to take dramatic measures to address concern about the fast-spreading novel coronavirus.

MLS said it will provide updates on plans for the resumption of the 2020 season at the appropriate time, after examining the impact of the COVID-19 virus, with its medical task force and public health officials.

“Our clubs were united today in the decision to temporarily suspend our season — based on the advice and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Public Health Agency Canada, and other public health authorities, and in the best interest of our fans, players, officials and employees,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said.

By mitigating the risk of transference, the MLS and the NBA are hoping to speed up the recovery process, and get back to the pitch and the court sooner rather than later.

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Sports

Houston Astros Suffer Embarrassment at Hands of Chicago Little Leaguers

Astros players are sure to get beaned by the dozens this year, but this may be the rebuke that hurts the most.

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There are few things in the sporting world more despicable than cheating in baseball.  This is the national pastime after all, and an American tradition like no other.

If you were to make a list of the most American things out there, the top of that list would be cowboys, apple pie, and baseball – and not necessarily in that order.

So when the Houston Astros were caught stealing signs throughout the 2017 and 2018 seasons, with the team having won the World Series in the first of those years, the American people were rightfully peeved.  We see this as a sullying of the sport’s good name, and we expect there to be retribution.

It won’t be surprising to hear some cheering as Astros batters get plunked throughout their 2020 campaign.

But perhaps the most painful recourse that the Astros face will come from little leaguers around the nation.

Little League decision-makers from California to Pennsylvania have started a movement banning the “Astros” name from their youth teams as a result of the organization’s electronic sign-stealing scandal. That, coupled with the team’s perceived lack of contrition, has drawn ire from MLB players and the general public alike.

Over the weekend, a pair of Little Leagues in California — Long Beach and East Fullerton — both outlawed the use of the “Astros” nickname among their teams.

“Parents are disgusted,” Long Beach Little League president Steve Klaus told the Orange County Register. “They are disgusted with the Astros and their lack of ownership and accountability. We know there’s more to this scandal. What’s coming tomorrow? With the Astros, you’ve got premeditated cheating.”

The movement is likely to spread as the weather warms, and as the Major Leagues continued to struggle with the fallout from this incorrigible scandal.

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POTUS Prepares to Take LITERAL Victory Lap at Daytona 500 After Impeachment Acquittal

There’s nothing subtle about it.

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Reelection campaigns are always a little bit giddy, by nature.  Incumbent Presidents almost always get reelected, after all, focusing these second term contests on the other side, attempting to get in the head of your opponents before the next election.  Predicting the next move from your political opponent is key, and when trying to beat an incumbent, the lesser side will have to show its entire hand.

Knowing what they’re holding allows their opponents to craft a candidate with the unique strengths necessary to win, rinse and repeat, ad nauseam, forever and ever.

In the case of President Donald Trump, this reelection effort has been almost celebratory, as the Democrats continues to flounder late into the nomination process.  As such, Trump’s mind is at ease, and he’s not afraid to let the world know this.

President Trump’s appearance at the Daytona 500 on Sunday may feature a guest appearance from the presidential limousine known as “The Beast.”

Trump is planning to take a lap around the track at Daytona International Speedway prior to the venerable NASCAR event, Fox News chief White House correspondent John Roberts reported on Friday, citing multiple sources familiar with the matter. Plans have not yet been finalized.

NASCAR named Trump the grand marshal of the Daytona 500, marking the first time a sitting president has held the honor. He is the latest of several presidents to visit the historic race.

For some, this literal lap represents the figurate victory lap that Trump may feel entitled to after escaping the Democrats’ attempts to have him removed from office via impeachment.

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