Category Archives: Sports

Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Edgar Santana suspended 80 games

Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Edgar Santana will miss all of the abbreviated 2020 campaign after being suspended 80 games for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

MLB revealed Sunday that Santana tested positive for Boldenone, a performance-enhancing substance.

The 28-year-old Santana is in the process of a comeback after missing all of the 2019 campaign following reconstructive surgery on his right elbow in September 2018. Santana is 3-4 with a 3.31 ERA in 88 career games, all with the Pirates. He worked five hitless innings of relief in spring training before the MLB season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2018, he appeared in 69 games for the Pirates, going 3-4 with a 3.31 ERA. He struck out 74 in 66⅓ innings that season.

Pirates general manager Ben Cherington called Santana’s suspension “disappointing.”

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“The Pirates are disappointed to learn of today’s news that Edgar Santana has received an 80-game suspension as a result of a violation of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program,” Pirates GM Ben Cherington said in a statement. “Because of the confidentiality requirements of the Program, we will not have further comment on this matter.”

In one of the last rounds of roster moves the Pirates made before the MLB roster freeze that went into place due to the coronavirus shutdown, Santana was optioned to Triple-A. This was a bit of a surprise as he appeared to have a great chance to make the MLB roster out of spring training.

Santana’s salary of $581,500 was reduced to $215,370 due to the shortened season, and he will lose all of it. He received a $60,000 salary advance, however, and that money will be repaid to the team from the International Tax Fund.

This suspension will be a big blow to Santana’s career. When he is eligible to pitch in games again he will be 29-years-old. While 29 is not old, the last time he pitched in a MLB match he was 26. Also, missing back-to-back seasons is difficult for any player to overcome.

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Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr Fully recovered from January hip, groin surgery

According to Cleveland Browns coach Kevin Stefanski, receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is now 100% and fully recuperated from offseason surgery.

Beckham underwent the surgery Jan. 21 to address hip and groin injuries that hampered him throughout last campaign.

“He’s free and clear,” Stefanski said. “He’s looking really good.”

Beckham suffered the sports hernia injury early in training camp last year. While playing through it, he compiled the worst statistical season of his career, save his injury-shortened one with the New York Giants in 2017. Beckham concluded with more than 1,000 yards receiving in 2019, but he had only four touchdown grabs.

In May, Beckham posted a video to his YouTube channel in which he talked about how the injury affected him.

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“So pretty much, I was just f—ed up the whole year,” he said. “I really didn’t try and say anything about it. Probably one of the worst surgeries I’ve ever had. Recovery’s going well. Guess I’m really just trying to put my body back together.”

In the video, Beckham went on to predict a big bounce-back performance in 2020.

“I would honestly say this is probably going to be one of my best seasons,” said Beckham, who this month caught passes from former 

“Odell’s free and clear. He’s 100 percent,” Stefanski said during a conference call with reporters on Thursday. “He’s looking really good.”

As for Beckham’s close friend and colleague, Jarvis Landry, Stefanski said that while the 5-time Pro Bowl selection is on a different timeline, his recovery is also going well. In February, Landry underwent surgery to repair a hip injury suffered at some point during the 2020 campaign. “Jarvis, to his credit, he’s looking great,” Stefanski said. “Some of the videos I’ve seen of him moving around. So we’ll have a plan for them.”

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Jones teases multiyear holdout, expects UFC deal

UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones said if he needs to sit out several years to stand up for what he considers is right, it’s something he will be remembered for more than his fighting. But he is optimistic the UFC ultimately will meet him halfway in negotiations.

Jones has said he would be willing to vacate his belt after talks for a superfight with heavyweight knockout artist Francis Ngannou fell through. Jones and fellow UFC superstar Jorge Masvidal are waging social media battles with the UFC and promotion president Dana White to get more money and rise revenue sharing among fighters.

“I’m not asking for anything outrageous, and I know we’re in a pandemic, and I know when you’re a multimillionaire and you’re asking for more, it makes you seem like this greedy person,” Jones said on Steve-O’s “Wild Ride” podcast. “I’m very aware of all of this, but I’m also very aware that I have the voice and the platform to make difference.

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“Most of the guys who are doing the absolute worst are not in the position that they can say publicly, ‘I have a second job, I’m borrowing money from my parents.’ I know so many fighters who are living in the Jackson Wink MMA gym because they can’t afford to have their own apartment, and they’re UFC fighters. So this is sad.

“And if I have to have a bad relationship with Dana, sit out for two years, three years, to bring light to what’s happening, then these are the things people remember you for more than winning belts. I stood for the younger fighters.”

White, who has described Jones as the greatest MMA fighter of all time, recently stated Jones can fight whenever he wants.

He said Jones and Masvidal both signed new contracts within the past year.

“Being the greatest of all time doesn’t mean you get $30 million. It’s being able to sell,” said White, who added that UFC walked Jones through the recent numbers on his fights. “[Jones] said, ‘I don’t give a f— what the numbers are. I want what I want.’

“That’s not how life works.” Jones said he wished he had a better relationship with White.

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Yankees and Dodgers co-favorites to win World Series

The New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers are the consensus favorites to win the World Series in a season that guarantees to be like no other in Major League Baseball’s history.

The Yankees and Dodgers are co-favorites at 7-2 to win the World Series at Caesars Sportsbook. The Houston Astros are next at 11-1, followed by the Atlanta Braves and Minnesota Twins, who are each 15-1 at Caesars.

On Tuesday, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred revealed a plan for a 60-game regular season that is expected to start July 23 or July 24 and last until late September. Teams will play their four divisional opponents 10 times and five interleague opponents in the same geographical area four games apiece.

The playoff format stays the same as recent seasons, with 10 teams — three division winners and two wild-card teams from each league — reaching the postseason.

The condensed season and insecurity caused by the coronavirus pandemic have oddsmakers wary of long shots that could surprise.

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“It would seem plausible to me that there will be money for some of the midrange to longer-shot teams that might field young lineups — think Toronto — or hot shot, young pitching that the league hasn’t seen much of yet,” Rex Beyers, senior oddsmaker for Caesars Sportsbook, told ESPN.

In addition to the Blue Jays, Beyers pointed to the Detroit Tigers and Colorado Rockies as examples of teams with longer odds that he presumes to attract betting interest. The Blue Jays are 75-1, the Rockies are 100-1 and the Tigers are 250-1 at Caesars Sportsbook.

Some bettors already have taken early stabs on a few long shots to win the World Series. Bookmaker William Hill U.S. reported having taken a $1,000 bet on the San Francisco Giants at 125-1 and a $100 bet on the Baltimore Orioles at 1,000-1.

For now, though, the Yankees and Dodgers are the clear-cut favorites. Both teams added superstars during the offseason, with starting pitcher Gerrit Cole going to the Yankees and right fielder Mookie Betts joining the Dodgers.

The defending-champion Washington Nationals are 18-1, along with the Tampa Bay Rays. The Chicago Cubs, Oakland Athletics and Cincinnati Reds are each 20-1.

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Brooks Koepka’s caddie tests positive

Brooks Koepka has withdrawn from the Travelers Championship after his caddie, Ricky Elliott, tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The pro golfer, 30, told Golfweek that Elliott tested positive for the virus on Wednesday morning at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut.

“I’m going to pull out to protect everybody else. I think it’s the right thing to do,” Koepka said. “I don’t want to risk anyone’s life if they have respiratory issues or underlying conditions. The only way this tour can continue is if guys to do this sort of thing and be proactive about it.”

Koepka, Elliott, and Koepka’s coach Claude Harmon III all were originally tested for COVID-19 as a precaution after playing a practice round with Graeme McDowell, whose caddie, Ken Comboy, had tested positive.

“We all got tested Monday—myself, Claude and Ricky. We all came back negative,” Koepka said. “We had no symptoms. Nothing.”

However, Elliott’s additional test on Wednesday came out positive, which led Koepka to immediately withdraw from the Travelers Championship. “Ricky has my full support in this. I feel bad for him,” Koepka said. “We have got to do everything we can to not spread it. We have to protect the field. That’s the reason we have these rules.”

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Koepka stated he and his team have been on strict lockdown during the first three events back on tour, staying together with a chef in rented homes and leaving only to go to the golf course or get tested.

The only occasion on which someone left from isolation was on Monday, June 15, when Elliott joined McDowell and Comboy at the funeral of a close friend in Orlando.

McDowell, 40, told Golfweek that Comboy now thinks he may have been exposed to the virus during a commercial flight he took two days earlier on June 13 from Dallas to Orlando after the Charles Schwab Challenge.

Koepka said that he and his girlfriend Jena Sims, as well as his chef, are all being tested for coronavirus Wednesday at the golf course. Based on the results, he will decide whether to return home to Jupiter, Florida, or quarantine in Connecticut.

The PGA Tour has since put in place a health and safety plan that forces any player who tests positive to be “immediately isolated” for a minimum of 10 days “after the positive test and no subsequent symptoms or two negative test results at least 24 hours apart.”

The tour said that 369 players, caddies and essential personnel were all tested on-site before the RBC Heritage initiated, and none tested positive.

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MLB targets 60-game season starting July season

Major League Baseball plans to hold a 60-game campaign that will start around July 24 but first needs players to sign off on a health-and-safety protocol and to pledge to arrive at home stadiums by July 1 to prepare for the season, sources familiar with the situation told ESPN.

Owners voted to implement a 60-game season on Monday, hours after the MLB Players Association rejected a 60-game proposal that would have included an expanded postseason and other ancillary salary bumps.

After nearly three months of fruitless negotiations, MLB opted to use the right given to it in the parties’ March 26 agreement to impose a calendar of its desired length. By choosing a season of 60 games, the league will pack in about as many games as it can through Sept. 27, the league’s self-imposed cutoff for the regular season.

Additionally, the 60-game season could serve as a buffer against a grievance by the MLBPA, which in the case of a potential implementation has been expected to charge that the league did not fulfill its duty to complete as full a season as possible.

The league could file a grievance against the union as well.

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After commissioner Rob Manfred flew to the Phoenix area to meet with union executive director Tony Clark last Tuesday, the league considered it had the framework of a deal in place. But union members balked at the 60-game framework and proposed 70 games plus a larger chunk of postseason bonus money than the $25 million the league was offering, as well as a cut of TV revenue from playoff expansion in 2021.

Owners were livid. They rejected the proposal and asked players to consider the original 60-game framework. On Monday evening, the players rejected it by a 33-5 vote, setting the stage for the implementation. With implementation, that is all moot. What isn’t is that after all this time, Major League Baseball finally looks like it will try to have a season.

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Pacers’ Victor Oladipo to ramp up activity before committing to restart

All-Star guard Victor Oladipo plans to ramp up activity with the Indiana Pacers beginning next week and evaluate his repaired torn quad tendon before to making a final commitment to playing in the season’s restart in Orlando, he told ESPN on Saturday.

Oladipo, 28, is hopeful to return to play with the Pacers, but prefers to limit the risk of significant injury after returning in January from a full year of rehabilitating the torn right quad tendon.

“I feel a whole lot better,” Oladipo told ESPN. “I know there’s risk going into it with the unique situation that I’m in — being off so long and trying to ramp it up that fast. I’ve just got to be smart, that’s all.”

The Pacers have been cautious and working cooperatively with Oladipo throughout his rehab and return, and plan to keep closely monitoring and managing his recovery with the looming restart.

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Players must inform teams by Wednesday if they plan to participate in the season’s 22-team restart in Orlando — and teams must provide the league a roster of eligible players by July 1. However, Oladipo and the Pacers can push a decision on his return through the month of July as he ramps up in Indianapolis and Orlando for training camps.

Indiana would simply keep Oladipo on its active roster until a decision is made.

A team can sign a substitute player from an eligible pool of players to replace a roster player — and that replaced player will be ineligible to return.

Oladipo had his best match of the season — 27 points versus the Boston Celtics — in his last performance prior to the March 11 shutdown of the campaign.

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Gabriel Flores defeats Josec Ruiz by unanimous decision

Blue-chip lightweight prospect Gabriel Flores Jr. continued his development with a one-sided unanimous decision triumph over Josec Ruiz on Thursday at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.

All three judges scored it 100-89 for Flores (18-0, 6 KOs), who started quickly and outboxed Ruiz (21-3-3, 14 KOs) the rest of the way.

In the second round, Flores, 20, stunned Ruiz with a counter left hook and followed with a right cross that sent him down. It looked as though Flores might score an eye-opening knockout, but he eventually had to settle for a decision victory.

While Flores dominated every round, it was a solid learning experience for him. He got some quality rounds while facing a veteran who had never been knocked down coming into this contest.

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Flores, who recently relocated to Las Vegas from his hometown of Stockton, California, is a young fighter with a high boxing IQ and has a keen understanding of ring generalship.

Blessed with quick hands and great footwork, he is relying on his skills from the outside to win fights. Now he is waiting for some physical maturity so he can finish fights more emphatically.

After Thursday’s victory, Flores, coming off a 117-day layoff, exposed that he had suffered a lower back injury during a training session.

“It happened in my last sparring [session],” Flores said. “My lower back, it hurts severely. I feel probably 50 percent, with the punches I could’ve thrown tonight. I wasn’t tired, at all.”

Despite the victory, Flores wasn’t totally satisfied with his effort.

“Tonight was the night to show everybody what a great performance was, and I didn’t get to show them,” Flores said. “Fifty percent of me, that’s what I showed tonight.”

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Dak Prescott plans to sign franchise tag by Monday

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott plans to sign his $31.4 million exclusive franchise tender by Monday, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The two sides still have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal. The Cowboys had placed the franchise tag on Prescott on March 18.

By signing his franchise tender, Prescott will be contractually forced to report to training camp on time, whether or not he and the Cowboys can figure out a long-term deal.

Prescott’s decision to sign the franchise tender is not an indication that a long-term agreement is close, league sources told ESPN’s Ed Werder.  The fact that Prescott will be one of the highest-paid players in the NFL — and the potential his franchise tag increases by a obligatory 20% next season to $37.7 million with a flat or lower cap in 2021 — is incentive for Dallas to secure a long-term deal before the July 15 deadline.

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This offseason, the Cowboys made a long-term offer to Prescott that would put him among the highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL, ESPN’s Todd Archer previously reported.  Seattle’s Russell Wilson is the highest paid at $35 million per campaign, followed by Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger at $34 million.

Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones and executive vice president Stephen Jones have repeatedly expressed their belief that Prescott is the team’s quarterback of the future and capable of leading the franchise back to a Super Bowl.

Prescott, who turns 27 on July 29, has said on multiple instances that he never wanted to leave the Cowboys.

Prescott completed 388 of 596 passes for 4,902 yards and 30 touchdown passes last season. Despite career highs in yardage and touchdowns, Prescott had his worst record as a starter (8-8) as the Cowboys missed the playoffs. His growth as a passer, however, was obvious as the Cowboys had two 1,000-yard receivers in Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup.

In his four seasons, Prescott ranks among the top five quarterbacks in victories (40), passing touchdowns (97), rushing TDs (21) and Total QBR (68), becoming one of the NFL’s biggest bargains. He earned $4 million in salary and signing bonus the past four seasons.

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Yankees, Mets to train in New York if MLB resumes

The Yankees and Mets will train in New York if Major League Baseball and its players try to start the coronavirus-delayed season.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the announcement Saturday, and the teams confirmed the decisions. Cuomo stated he would like to stop by to see them train.

“I think New York now is especially attractive, compared to the other states, because we have such a low transmission rate, and this is a state that is ready, willing and able to partner with sports teams so that they can play,” Cuomo said.

The Yankees initially had intended to return to their spring training complex in Tampa, instead of Yankee Stadium in New York. The Mets had said they were unclear between Citi Field and their training camp in Port St. Lucie. Florida at first appeared preferable because the complexes have more fields. But positive cases for COVID-19 in the state have increased markedly in recent days, while the percentage of positive tests in New York City has dropped sharply.

New York is set to enter Phase 2 of reopening on Monday, letting stores and outdoor restaurant seating to reopen with social distancing.

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MLB had hoped to start the season during the first week of July, but teams and the players association are engaged in a bitter fight over how to apportion revenue losses caused by the pandemic.

Both sides agree that players need three weeks of training before the increasingly slight season could start.

Even as he celebrated the news, Cuomo, a Democrat, brought up Florida’s current issues. The Sunshine State, where Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is still ordering arriving New Yorkers to quarantine for two weeks, is now in a much more precarious health situation, with infection rates soaring.

On Friday, the Phillies shut down their complex in Clearwater after announcing five players and three staff members had tested positive for the virus. On the same day in Dunedin, the Blue Jays shut down their facility as they awaited results on a player on their 40-man roster who showed symptoms of the virus.

All 30 major-league teams have closed their spring camps in Florida and Arizona this weekend over virus concerns.

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