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NFL Makes No Adjustment to Regular Season Schedule on Account of Virus

Late summer is going to be a pretty busy time for sports fans.

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Sports are returning to the world, albeit very slowly.

Last week, ESPN kicked it off by airing live professional baseball games from the Korean Baseball Organization late at night.  No, it wasn’t the sort of game we’d expect from a packed Fenway with the Yankees in town, but it was objectively good baseball.  If you prefer small-ball to slugfests, it might even be your cup of tea.

Just days ago Germany jumped on board, stating that their top tier soccer league, the Bundesliga, would return to empty stadiums on May 15th.

The NFL this week announced that they too would plan to return for 2020, with no noticeable adjustments being made to their schedule on account of COVID-19.

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The NFL revealed its 2020 regular-season schedule Thursday, with the Kansas City Chiefs kicking off their Super Bowl title defense against the Houston Texans in Week 1.

The league announced its schedule in anticipation of playing a normal season despite the coronavirus pandemic. However, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told all 32 teams in a memo this week that adjustments could happen if necessary.

“We will continue to work in a deliberate and thoughtful way to plan for the 2020 season, including with [Thursday’s] schedule release,” Goodell said. “We will be prepared to address any contingencies as they arise.”

The American football organization could have some stiff competition, however, with MLB, MLS, the NHL, and the NBA all possibly looking to extend their seasons late into the year on account of viral delays.

 

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MLB Owners Ready to Play Ball with New Season Start Date Approved

And the dat is oh, so fitting.

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Baseball is coming back, folks, and soon.

No, I’m not talking about the Korean Baseball Organization, whose live games have been filling the hole in sports fans’ hearts during the wee hours of the morning on the US East Coast.  I’m talking about The Bigs.  The national pastime.

I’m talking about the bonafide majors.

Major League Baseball owners reportedly approved a plan that could start the coronavirus-delayed season around the Fourth of July in ballparks without fans.

Spring training could start in early-to-mid June and the National League would use a designated hitter during the 2020 season, according to multiple reports.

Each team would play an 82-game regular season with most teams playing games in their own divisions and interleague not going past regional matchups such as AL East vs. NL East, AL Central vs. NL Central and AL West vs. NL West.

The postseason would expand to 14 teams by doubling the number of wild cards in each league to four.

Teams will have some choices to make, however, as they’ll be allowed to conduct spring training either in their regular-season home stadiums, or at their Florida or Arizona training facilities.

The current coronavirus travel restrictions will also make things difficult for the lone international team in MLB, the Toronto Blue Jays, who could be forced to play their home games at their facility in Dunedin, Florida.

There is a chance that the All-Star Game will be nixed as well, which will only add to the uniqueness of the 2020 baseball season – a campaign that will almost certainly be accompanied by an enormous asterisk in the record books.

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Sports

MLB Preparing to Send Pandemic Proposal to Players’ Union to Get Ball Rolling on 2020 Season

There is some hope left for a 2020 MLB season.

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With the news that Germany’s top flight soccer league, the Bundesliga, would be returning to action in just over a week, American sports fans are getting antsy.

Just days ago, ESPN inked a deal with the Korean Baseball Organization to bring some live sports action to our televisions.  These KBO games high level baseball, but it’s not quite what American fans are accustomed to.  Korean big-leaguers are facing pitches topping out around 90 or 92 miles per hour – not the 100+ that the USA is used to.  Furthermore, the KBO uses a “deadened” baseball, in an effort to maintain a “small-ball” feel to the game.

Good news has arrived this week, however, as the MLB takes the next steps in bringing the bigs back to life.

Major League Baseball expects to offer a return-to-play proposal to the MLB Players Association within a week, as teams have begun to encourage players to prepare for a “spring” training that could begin in mid-June and a season that could start in early July, sources familiar with the discussions told ESPN.

Although a significant number of hurdles remain and some industry leaders believe June and July return dates are overly optimistic, ownership’s approval of a plan and dialogue about specifics with the union would mark two vital steps toward baseball’s return from a season so far delayed six weeks by the coronavirus pandemic.

General managers and managers from at least a dozen teams have reached out to players to suggest that they ramp up baseball activities, those familiar with the conversations — including executives, players and agents — told ESPN. Some teams have suggested that players prepare for a spring training that could begin as early as June 10 and a season that could begin July 1, dates first suggested publicly by former player Trevor Plouffe. Other teams, sources said, are being more general in their timetables, understanding the complications that hard dates can cause and wanting instead to nudge players toward being in game shape.

While the news is certainly comforting, it is not yet known whether or not the upcoming season will be played to empty seats, or if Americans will once again be able to get their frankfurter fix in the stands of their local ballpark.

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Sports

Baseball is Back! ESPN to Air Live Games from South Korea Beginning This Week

You don’t want to miss the season opener, as the NC Dinos take on the Samsung Lions at 1am EST on Cinco de Mayo.

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For American sports fans, this current coronavirus pandemic has packed a powerful secondary punch, as leagues throughout the nation abstain from putting their players and fans at risk of becoming infected.

This means no NBA, no MLS, no NHL…Even NASCAR has been affected, with the stock car league moving to fan-less stadiums and a highly abbreviated season.

But baseball is back….sort of.

ESPN will finally air live sports this week, finding the one professional league taking the field during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Disney-owned network has reached an agreement with Eclat Media Group to air games from the KBO League, the professional baseball outfit in South Korea. The KBO League will kick off its season on Tuesday.

ESPN will air six games a week, starting with Opening Day – NC Dinos vs. Samsung Lions – on Tuesday, May 5, at 1 a.m. ET / Monday, May 4, at 10 p.m. PT. As part of the agreement, ESPN will become the exclusive English-language home for KBO League live games and highlights for the 2020 season. The deal includes the postseason and the Korea Series best-of-seven championship.

“We’re thrilled to become the exclusive English-language home to the KBO League and to showcase its compelling action and high-level of competition. We have a longstanding history of documenting the game of baseball and we’re excited to deliver these live events to sports fans,” said ESPN executive vice president of programming Burke Magnus.

The MLB has reportedly been working on a plan to also play an abbreviated schedule of 100 games, with a new three-division arrangement that was created to alleviate as much travel between teams as possible.  There is no official word on whether or not this will come to fruition, however, as the news broke via an anonymous insider familiar with the negotiations.

 

 

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Sports

America, Start Your Engines: NASCAR Sets Date to Resume 2020 Season

It may not have the patriotic heritage of the MLB, but sports fans will surely just be glad that they have something to watch. 

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As Americans around the nation continue to debate one another over the merits and safety of restarting the economy, our sporting world has taken an enormous hit.

The only weapon that we currently have against COVID-19 is social distancing.  We’re essentially attempting to starve this novel strain of coronavirus until such a time as we can develop a vaccine against it, or until a proven treatment method emerges – whichever comes first.

Of course, this means that gathering to watch sports in a crowded arena is out of the question.  It also means that contact sports are inherently risky as well, and we all know that the high powered lawyers of the sports world aren’t too fond of the idea of potentially-infected baserunners colliding with catchers at the plate, either.

But NASCAR – that’s horsepower of a different color.

NASCAR said Thursday it is set to return May 17 with an elite Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina, the first of seven events in an 11-day stretch across the top three series.

There will be no practice, no qualifying and drivers will jump into their cars for the first time since March 8 and attempt to tackle “The Track Too Tough To Tame.”

“Events are going to look different than they have in the past,” said John Bobo, NASCAR vice president of racing operations.

NASCAR has set guidelines to safely hold the events using CDC guidelines on social distancing and personal protective equipment. The entire venue will be used to maintain distancing in garage stalls and where the haulers are parked, while drivers will have to self-isolate in their motorhomes as they prepare to compete.

“Our priority right now is to try and get back racing in a safe way,” said Steve O’Donnell, chief racing development officer.

The season will be a blitzkrieg of sorts:

NASCAR’s revised schedule goes only through May and has a pair of Wednesday Cup races, fulfilling fans’ longtime plea for midweek events. The first of those races will be at Darlington, three days after the return race at the 70-year-old, egg-shaped oval.

And while it may not have the patriotic heritage of the MLB, sports fans will surely just be glad that they have something to watch.

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Sports

MLB Secretly Floating Plan for Fan-Less, Late June Start with New Geographical Divisions

The 2020 MLB season appears to be coming back online, but there’ll be a heavy asterisk in the historical record.

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At this point, many deprived sports fans would likely settle for a national marble racing league, just so long as they could have some form of competition to watching after a long day of quarantine.

But, remarkably, a plan to bring the national past time back is gaining steam within the MLB.

Major League Baseball officials have become cautiously optimistic this week that the season will start in late June, and no later than July 2, playing at least 100 regular-season games, according to three executives with knowledge of the talks. They requested anonymity because the plan is still under consideration.

And not only would baseball be played, but it would be played in their own major-league ballparks, albeit with no fans.

MLB is considering a three-division, 10-team plan in which teams play only within their division – a concept gaining support among owners and executives. It would abolish the traditional American and National Leagues, and realign the divisions based on geography.

The plan, pending approval of medical experts and providing that COVID-19 testing is available to the public, would eliminate the need for players to be in isolation and allow them to still play at their home ballparks while severely reducing travel.

One of the major changes, outside of the heavily abbreviated schedule and lack of fans, would be a new organizational structure based on geography instead of tradition.

EAST

  • New York Yankees and Mets, Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays, Miami Marlins

WEST

  • Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels, San Francisco Giants, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Texas Rangers, Houston Astros, Seattle Mariners

CENTRAL

  • Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox, Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Royals, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Minnesota Twins, Atlanta Braves, Detroit Tigers

The plan is still very much up in the air, so it may not be time to invest in those foam fingers just yet.

 

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MLB Again Floating Plans to Start Season at Spring Training Facilities, Sans Fans

Is opening day a lot closer than we think?

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All of this social distancing is getting a little boring for some, as their desire to binge-watch Netflix wanes….and quickly.

Any other time, we would be practically begging the universe to give us a few days at home to catch up on pet projects.  You could finally paint that bathroom, or replant the azaleas.  You’ll have time to organize that closet or tinker with that mower that’s always running rich.

But still we yearn for more entertainment, some nightly escape.  For sports fans, this time of year always meant a return to the ballparks of America to catch the obligatory glimpse of the national pastime.  Thanks to coronavirus, however, opening day has yet arrive.

The MLB is working on that problem, and we might still get to see some baseball this spring…just not in person.

Putting all 30 teams in the Phoenix area this season and playing in empty ballparks was among the ideas discussed Monday by Major League Baseball and the players’ association.

The sides held a telephone call to talk about paths forward for a season delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, people familiar with the discussion told The Associated Press. They spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because no details were announced.

Ideas are still in the early stage, and the Arizona option would have many obstacles to overcome, the people said.

“MLB has been actively considering numerous contingency plans that would allow play to commence once the public health situation has improved to the point that it is safe to do so,” the commissioner’s office said in a statement Tuesday. “While we have discussed the idea of staging games at one location as one potential option, we have not settled on that option or developed a detailed plan.”

Arizona is home to ten spring training stadiums and the Diamondbacks’ ballpark, all within an hour drive of one another, leaving only the issue of quarantining players for their safety left for discussion.

 

 

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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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