AP Sports Digest
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Major League Baseball is talking about having as many as 16 teams in the playoffs this year if the season is able to start after a long delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The 16 teams would be a big increase over the 10 clubs that have made the postseason in recent years. In fact, it would mean more than half of the 30 MLB clubs get into the postseason. That’s been more common in the other major sports, but would represent a huge change for baseball. MLB presented that plan in its latest proposal to players in an effort to start the season. By Ben Walker. UPCOMING: 715 words, photos by 3 a.m.
FBC--FIRST STEP TO FOOTBALL
College football is scheduled to kick off in less than three months. There are plenty of reasons to be hopeful that games will be played Labor Day weekend. Universities across the country are taking the first cautious, detailed steps toward playing football in a pandemic. They are trying to build virus-free bubbles around their teams as players begin voluntary workouts. Thousands of athletes will be tested for COVID-19, though not all. Some players are back at it this week. Others will wait a few more weeks. By Ralph D. Russo SENT: 1,100 words, photos.
CHICAGO — The U.S. women’s national team wants the U.S. Soccer Federation to repeal the anthem policy it instituted after Megan Rapinoe started kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The U.S. women’s team also wants the federation to state publicly that the policy was wrong and issue an apology to the team’s black players and supporters. Rapinoe took a knee during the anthem at a pair of national team matches in 2016. She said she wanted to express solidarity with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who silently took a knee during the national anthem before NFL games to raise awareness of police brutality and racial injustice. SENT: 300 words.
TOKYO — It’s been 2 and a half months since the Tokyo Olympics were postponed until next year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. So where do the games stand? So far, many ideas about how the Olympic can take place are being floated by the International Olympic Committee, Japanese officials and politicians. The focus has been on soaring costs, possible quarantines for athletes, and cutting back to only “the essentials.” And there is a large question if fans will be allowed to attend. If so, how many? Many of these questions will come up this week when the International Olympic Committee holds a meeting and hears from Japanese organizers. By Stephen Wade. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.
FBN—JIM LITKE COLUMN-GOODELL’S DARE
In a minute-long mea culpa, Commissioner Roger Goodell admitted the NFL wronged players who took a knee to protest against social injustice and vowed to join them going forward. But if he learned anything from his “come-to-Jesus” moment, it better be that listening is only half the battle. Goodell put himself and the owners on the line to create a more equitable league, daunting for an organization where 75% of the players are people of color but only four coaches, two GMs and one owner, Shad Kahn of the Jaguars, are. It’s going to be a heavy lift. By Jim Litke. SENT: 744 words, photos.
The money, the scouting, the buzz, it was all different when Major League Baseball held its annual June draft a half-century ago. With this year’s picking set to start Wednesday night, Mike Schmidt remembers how it was when he was chosen in 1971. The Philadelphia Phillies took him in the second round as a shortstop out of Ohio University. The player chosen directly ahead of him? A high school shortstop in California named George Brett. Schmidt and Brett both made the Hall of Fame as third basemen. Brett was credited with one more RBI than his friend, a fact that makes Schmidt laugh. By Mike Schmidt. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 3 a.m.
NEW YORK — Major League Baseball made another try to start the coronavirus-delayed season in early July, proposing a 76-game regular season, expanding the playoffs from 10 teams to as many as 16 and allowing players to earn about 75% of their prorated salaries. Players have refused cuts beyond what they agreed to in March shortly after the pandemic began, part of baseball’s again acrimonious labor relations. The arduous negotiations have jeopardized plans to hold opening day around the Fourth of July in ballparks without fans and provide entertainment to a public still emerging from months of quarantine. By Baseball Writer Ronald Blum. SENT: 900 words, photos.
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes have made Xavier Gutierrez the first Latino team president and CEO in NHL history. Gutierrez’s hiring was announced by Alex Meruelo, who became the NHL’s first Latino controlling owner when he bought a majority stake in the Coyotes last year. Gutierrez previously served as managing director at Clearlake Capital Group and was chief investment officer of Meruelo Group, which is owned by Alex Meruelo. By John Marshall. SENT: 420 words, photos.
SOC--WOMEN'S WORLD CUP-BRAZIL BID
SAO PAULO — Brazil has withdrawn its bid to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup, arguing it cannot offer FIFA the financial assurances it needs because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The Brazilian Football Confederation also says it will support Colombia’s bid against Japan and the joint candidacy of Australia and New Zealand. South America has never hosted the tournament. A final decision is expected on June 25. By Mauricio Savarese. SENT: 200 words, photos.