Update on the latest sports
Mets-Nats opener delayed after positive COVID test, tracing
UNDATED (AP) — Coronavirus concerns are affecting the Major League Baseball schedule on opening day.
Thursday night’s game between the Nationals and Mets has been postponed after one of Washington’s players tested positive for COVID-19. The Nationals issued a statement saying “ongoing contact tracing involving members of the Nationals organization” was the reason for scrapping the game at their stadium.
Washington general manager Mike Rizzo said Wednesday that one of his team’s players had tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, before the team left spring training camp. Rizzo said four other players and one staff member were following quarantine protocols after contract tracing determined they were in close contact with the person who tested positive. Rizzo did not identify any of those involved.
The contest was not immediately rescheduled, even though Friday already had been set up as an off day that could accommodate a game pushed back from Thursday if necessary. The Nationals said the game “will not be made up on Friday.”
The 2019 World Series champions — who finished tied for last in the NL East in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season — were supposed to send Max Scherzer to the mound to face New York’s Jacob deGrom in a matchup between pitchers who own a total of five Cy Young Awards.
All 30 MLB teams had been scheduled to play Thursday, with varying numbers of fans allowed at the ballparks. But the Red Sox postponed their opener against the Baltimore Orioles because of rain in Boston that is forecast to continue throughout the day. The game and opening day ceremonies are being moved to Friday, which had been scheduled as an off day.
Gerrit Cole set to throw the first pitch of the season against Toronto at Yankee Stadium. Clayton Kershaw and the World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers start in Colorado.
Elsewhere around the majors:
— Francisco Lindor (lihn-DOHR’) has committed to the Mets for the long haul before his first game. A person familiar with his contract told The Associated Press that Lindor agreed to a $341 million, 10-year deal with New York late Wednesday night. The deal will be the largest ever for a shortstop, passing Fernando Tatis Jr.‘s $340 million, 14-year contract with San Diego signed in February. The 27-year-old Lindor, acquired from Cleveland in January, was eligible for free agency after this season and said this spring he wouldn’t negotiate with the Mets on a long-term contract after opening day. With the ink hardly dry, Lindor will make his Mets debut Thursday night in Washington. He won’t play his first game in New York until next Thursday.
— Infielder Joe Panik was put on the Toronto Blue Jays’ major league roster and George Springer went on the 10-day injured list, among a dozen roster moves ahead of the season opener at the New York Yankees. The 30-year-old Panik agreed to a minor league contract before spring training and was selected from Triple-A Buffalo. He gets a one-year contract paying $1.85 million while in the major leagues and $150,000 while in the minors. Springer was placed on the 10-day injured list with a strained left oblique muscle that will delay his debut with the Blue Jays.
— President Joe Biden told ESPN it was a mistake for the Texas Rangers to allow full capacity at their ballpark for their first game. Speaking on the eve of opening day, Biden said he thinks the move is “not responsible.” The Rangers’ Globe Life Field can seat 40,300 people. Biden also said he supports discussions between Major League Baseball and the players’ union on moving the All-Star Game from Atlanta over concern about legislation adopted in Georgia restricting voting rights.
— The Atlanta Braves will expand capacity at Truist Park to 50% for their second homestand beginning April 23 against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Braves are permitting 33% capacity at their initial homestand to allow for ample social distancing, limiting the crowd to about 13,500. Those standards will be in place for the first seven home games. Capacity will increase to 50%, or roughly 20,500, for at least the next seven home games, and the Braves have said they will review their seating policies before each homestand. The Braves’ capacity will be among the highest in the big leagues.
— Major League Baseball and its teams plan to distribute $1.5 million in free tickets this season to essential workers. The tickets will go to, among others, doctors, nurses, police, firefighters, public safety personnel, corrections workers and teachers. The tickets will be divided evenly among the 30 teams, and each club will select recipients, games and seat locations.
Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams retiring after 33-year run
UNDATED (AP) — North Carolina announced Thursday that Hall of Fame basketball coach Roy Williams is retiring after a 33-year career that includes three national championships.
The decision comes two weeks after the 70-year-old Williams closed his 18th season with the Tar Heels after a highly successful run at Kansas. Williams won 903 games in a career that included those three titles, all with the Tar Heels, in 2005, 2009 and 2017.
UNC lost to Wisconsin in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in his final game, which was Williams’ only first-round loss in 30 tournaments.
Williams spent 10 seasons at his alma mater as an assistant coach to late mentor Dean Smith before leaving to take over the Jayhawks program in 1988. He spent 15 seasons there, taking Kansas to four Final Fours and two national title games.
He passed on taking over at UNC in 2000 after the retirement of Bill Guthridge, but ultimately couldn’t say no a second time and returned as coach in 2003 after the tumultuous Matt Doherty era that included an 8-20 season.
Williams had just one losing season — an injury-plagued 14-19 year in 2019-20 — and otherwise missed the NCAA Tournament only in his first season at Kansas when he inherited a program on probation and in 2010 with a UNC team that reached the NIT final.
In other college basketball news:
— Oklahoma State star freshman Cade Cunningham announced Thursday that he will enter the NBA draft after a dynamic season that saw him named a first-team AP All-American. The 6-foot-8 point guard is expected to be a high pick — possibly No. 1 overall. His decision was no surprise — he participated in Senior Night activities before the Cowboys faced Oklahoma in Stillwater.
— Christian Bishop, who excelled as Creighton’s undersized center the past two years, is planning to transfer. Bishop announced on Twitter on Wednesday night he would enter the NCAA transfer portal. The 6-foot-7, 220-pound Bishop averaged 11 points and 6.4 rebounds as a junior, and his 68.1% shooting ranks No. 2 on the school list for single-season field goal percentage. He started all 62 games the past two seasons. He averaged 13 points and 10.3 rebounds in the Bluejays’ three NCAA Tournament games and had double-doubles in their wins over UC Santa Barbara and Ohio.
AP survey: ADs fear sharing revenue with college athletes
UNDATED (AP) — A bill introduced by two U.S. senators would require schools to share the profits they make from revenue-generating sports with that athletes that play those games. An Associated Press survey of Division I athletic directors found 69% said they would strongly oppose “being required to give college athletes a share of university revenue derived from sports.”
Another 19.6% said they what somewhat oppose sharing athletic department revenue with athletes. Almost 77% of athletic directors said many fewer schools would be competitive in sports if schools had to share revenue with athletes and another 13% said somewhat fewer schools would be competitive.
COLLEGE SPORTS-SURVEY-GENDER ISSUES
In AP survey, ADs raise worries about women’s college sports
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A new AP survey of athletic directors and conversations with ADs and conference commissioners during March Madness show concern about what would happen to women’s college sports under proposals that would put more money in the pockets of some athletes.
The most striking of the survey results released Thursday is that 94% of respondents say it would be somewhat or much more difficult to comply with Title IX gender equity rules if their school were to compensate athletes in football and men’s basketball. More than 70% said some sports would lose funding or be cut. An AP count showed only 14% of Division I ADs are women.
Mayor, governor want to cancel Osaka legs of Olympic relay
TOKYO (AP) — The Tokyo Olympic torch relay has run into trouble after the governor of Osaka prefecture and the mayor of the city of Osaka asked that the relay going through the city be canceled with the games opening in less than four months.
Osaka prefecture and two others have been selected to come under strict new measures to counter rising cases of COVID-19. Osaka Mayor Ichiro Matsui says “it’s very unfortunate but I think we should call it off” because “people tend to gather and those places get crowded.” Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura echoed the mayor, saying ”I think the torch relay through the middle of Osaka should be canceled.”