Update on the latest sports
Phoenix Suns to allow limited fans starting Sun’
UNDATED (AP) — The Phoenix Suns will allow fans to attend a home game for the first time this season when they host the Boston Celtics on Sunday.
The team says up to 1,500 fans will be allowed into Phoenix Suns Arena, which underwent a major renovation during the offseason. Sunday’s game will include free tickets for health care workers and their families, who will also get 40% percent off items in the team shop. Single-game tickets will go on sale for season-ticket holders on Thursday for games beginning on Feb. 8 against the Cavaliers. Non-season-ticket holders can buy tickets starting Friday.
In other NBA news:
— Thunder point guard George Hill had a procedure on his right thumb Tuesday and will be out of action for at least four weeks. Hill joined the Thunder in the four-team deal that sent Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams to New Orleans. He is averaging 11.8 points and 3.1 assists per game in 14 games. He is shooting 50.8% from the field and 38.6% percent on 3-pointers.
NHL postpones Sabres-Islanders due to snowstorm
UNDATED (AP) — The Buffalo Sabres are the latest NHL team to be shut down because of players in COVID protocol. The league has announced the Sabres are shut down through at least Saturday after two players were added to the COVID-19 protocol list. Buffalo played New Jersey twice over the weekend, and the Devils are also off through at least Saturday with 10 players on the list. Buffalo’s game at he New York Islanders scheduled for tonight was already postponed. This move postpones three additional games, bringing the NHL’s total to 18 so far.
Grant Jackson, winning pitcher in ‘79 World Series Game 7, dies at 78
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Grant Jackson, the winning pitcher in Game 7 of the 1979 World Series for the Pittsburgh Pirates, has died from COVID-19 complications. He was 78.
Jackson was a reliable left-hander for 18 seasons in the majors. He was 86-75 with 79 saves and a 3.46 ERA in 692 games from 1965-82. He was 3-0 with a 2.55 ERA in 13 postseason appearances. Jackson was an NL All-Star in 1969 with pitched in the World Series with Baltimore in 1971, the New York Yankees in 1976 and the ’79 Pirates.
In that 1979 Game 7, Jackson entered in the fifth inning with the Pirates trailing Baltimore 1-0. He pitched 2 2/3 hitless innings at Memorial Stadium and was replaced by Kent Tekulve in the eighth with Pittsburgh ahead 2-1. Pittsburgh won 4-1, completing a comeback from a deficit of three games to one.
In other baseball news:
—The San Diego Padres have promoted general manager A.J. Preller to president of baseball operations and extended his contract through the 2026 season. The Padres also promoted Erik Greupner from president of business operations to CEO and extended his contract through 2026. Preller has rebuilt the Padres into a playoff team. They ended a 13-year postseason drought in 2020, beating the St. Louis Cardinals in a wild card series before losing to the rival Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Division Series.
—Pitching coach Mickey Callaway has been suspended by the Los Angeles Angels after allegations of inappropriate behavior toward several women who work in sports media. The Angels announced their decision a day after the allegations against the former New York Mets manager appeared in a report by The Athletic. Angels spokesperson Marie Garvey says the team “will work closely with MLB to conduct a full investigation.” The five women who spoke to The Athletic on condition of anonymity gave detailed accounts of multiple instances of aggressive, inappropriate acts by Callaway over five years while he was employed by three teams.
— Former major leaguer Denard Span has been hired by the Tampa Bay Rays as a special assistant in baseball operations. The 36-year-old native of Tampa batted .281 with 71 homers and 490 RBIs over 11 seasons with the Rays, Minnesota Twins, Washington Nationals, San Francisco Giants and Seattle Mariners. He’s among six new additions to Tampa Bay’s baseball operations department.
—The Red Sox have used a platoon of players at second base over the past three seasons since Dustin Pedroia’s major league future was disrupted by a knee injury in 2017. A day after the four-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner announced he’d end his attempts to return and retire, his former team officially began the process of moving on. The Red Sox announced the signing of Enrique Hernández, a 29-year-old who arrives fresh off contributing to the Dodgers’ World Series title during last year’s pandemic-shortened season.
Thomas, Johnson headline US roster for AmeriCup qualifying
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — USA Basketball has finalized the 14-player roster for the final round of AmeriCup qualifying later this month, a group led by NBA All-Stars Joe Johnson and Isaiah Thomas.
Both Johnson and Thomas have past USA Basketball experience as well. Johnson was a member of the U.S. team that won the bronze medal at the 2006 World Cup. Thomas was a member of the 2018 USA Basketball Men’s National Team.The roster includes five other players with NBA regular-season experience: Josh Boone, Treveon Graham, James Nunnally, Dakota Mathias and Jordan Sibert. Mathias played in eight games with Philadelphia this season.
Also on the team that will compete in San Juan, Puerto Rico are Paul Atkinson, Cat Barber, Chris Daniels, Will Davis II, KJ Feagi, Ra’Shad James and Tre’Shawn Thurman.Former Milwaukee Bucks coach and longtime NBA assistant Joe Prunty will coach the squad, with Othella Harrington and Yale coach James Jones on his staff.
FIBA holds draws for Olympic basketball tournaments
UNDATED (AP) — USA Basketball won’t have to wait long for intrigue at the Tokyo Olympics. The U.S. men will face France in its group opener and the U.S. women were placed in the same group as host Japan when the draw for the rescheduled Tokyo Games was held Tuesday.
The U.S. men will also face Iran and the winner of the qualifying tournament in Canada as its other Group A rivals.
The last time the Americans played France was in 2019 in the quarterfinals of the Basketball World Cup in China. France prevailed to end the U.S. medal hopes. The U.S. men are seeking a fourth consecutive gold medal.
The Tokyo Games open July 23, one day after the NBA says is the last possible date for this season’s NBA Finals. USA Basketball’s roster won’t likely be finalized until June at the earliest and will undoubtedly hinge on how deep some players like LeBron James go into the postseason.
Federer targets tournament comeback in Qatar next month
BASEL, Switzerland (AP) — Roger Federer is aiming to play his first tournament after two knee surgeries and more than one year away next month in Qatar (KUH’-tur).
Federer told Swiss radio station SRF on Tuesday he has targeted the Doha Open from March 8-13. The 20-time Grand Slam champion said he preferred a smaller tournament where he “wouldn’t be in the spotlight too much and the stress is also a little less.”
Now 39, Federer last played in January 2020 at the Australian Open, losing in the semifinals to Novak Djokovic while clearly struggling with injury.
Federer said he could play one more event after Doha and then focus on the clay-court season. His main targets are Wimbledon, the Tokyo Olympics and, after he turns 40, the U.S. Open.
Wisconsin high school referee dies after collapse on court
RICHLAND CENTER, Wis. (AP) — A high school basketball referee in Wisconsin has died after collapsing on the court during a game.
Tracy Krueger was 69. His death was confirmed in an email by son Brendan Krueger. No cause was given.His father was stricken while officiating a game between Richland Center and Mount Horeb on Monday night. Richland Center High School principal Jon Bosworth said Krueger blew his whistle during the second half to indicate he needed a break.
Bosworth said Krueger collapsed as people gathered to help him. Bosworth said it was “a matter of seconds” before Krueger was tended to by medical professionals at the game. He was taken to a hospital and died that night.
SPORTS BETTING-SUPER BOWL
Virus may reduce total Super Bowl bets, but online to surge
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Here’s one more thing the coronavirus pandemic has ruined for at least some people: betting on the Super Bowl.
The American Gaming Association, the gambling industry’s national trade group, released a report Tuesday predicting that the number of people planning to make a bet on the big game will decrease this year. That’s largely because many people still haven’t returned to work settings, where office pools and squares pools are often circulated and filled out, as well as because fewer people are planning to make bets at in-person sports books, including casinos and horse tracks.
But at the same time, the report predicts that the rapid growth of legal sports betting in the U.S. should easily smash records in terms of the amount wagered online — the manner in which most sports bets are made. The AGA report says 23.2 million Americans plan to bet on the game that pits defending champions Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That would be a decline of 12% from last year’s levels.
It says the $4.3 billion they are projected to wager, both legally and otherwise, would be down 38% from last year’s Super Bowl.
But it also forecast a record 7.6 million Americans betting with online sportsbooks, up 63% from last year.