- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 24, 2020

MLB

NEW YORK (AP) - Major League Baseball issued a 60-game schedule Tuesday night that will start July 23 or 24 in empty ballparks as the sport tries to push ahead amid the coronavirus following months of acrimony.

A dramatically altered season with games full of new rules was the final result of failed financial negotiations. But for fans eager to see any baseball this year, at least now they can look forward to opening day.

One day after the players’ association rejected an economic agreement and left open the possibility of a grievance seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, the bickering sides agreed on an operations manual. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred then unilaterally imposed the schedule, his right under a March agreement with the union.

In a twist, the sides expanded the designated hitter to games between National League teams for the first time and instituted the radical innovation of starting extra innings with a runner on second base.



Playoff teams remain at 10 for now - there is still talk of a possible expansion. The rejected deal had called for 16 teams.

Players will start reporting for the resumption of training on July 1.

NASCAR

The noose found hanging in Bubba Wallace’s garage stall at Talladega Superspeedway had been there since at least last October, federal authorities said Tuesday in announcing there will be no charges filed in an incident that rocked NASCAR and its only fulltime Black driver.

U.S. Attorney Jay Town and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp Jr. said an investigation determined “although the noose is now known to have been in garage number 4 in 2019, nobody could have known Mr. Wallace would be assigned to garage number 4 last week.”

A crew member for Richard Petty Motorsports discovered the noose Sunday at the Alabama race track. NASCAR was alerted and contacted the FBI, which sent 15 agents to the track to investigate. They determined no federal crime was committed.

The statement said the garage stall was assigned to Wallace last week in advance of the race scheduled for Sunday but held Monday because of rain. Through video confirmed by NASCAR it was discovered the noose “was in that garage as early as October 2019.”

The agencies said the evidence did not support federal charges.

NBA

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley has decided to sit out the NBA’s upcoming resumption of the season in Florida.

He told ESPN on Tuesday night that he wants to remain with his wife and three children, including a 6-year-old son with a history of respiratory illnesses. By sitting out, Bradley figures to lose a projected $650,000 in salary.

Bradley averaged 8.6 points and 2.3 rebounds while starting 44 games before the season was shut down in March due to the coronavirus. The Lakers are the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference heading into the 22-team restart.

DENVER (AP) - All-Star forward Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets has tested positive for the coronavirus and is quarantining in his native Serbia, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

Jokic is expected to return to Denver long before the team leaves for the Disney complex for the restart of the NBA season next month, said the person who spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday on condition of anonymity because neither the player nor the team acknowledged the positive test publicly.

ESPN and The Denver Post previously reported Jokic’s positive test.

-By Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds.

TENNIS

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) - Novak Djokovic tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday after taking part in a tennis exhibition series he organized in Serbia and Croatia.

The top-ranked Serb is the fourth player to test positive for the virus after first playing in Belgrade and then again last weekend in Zadar, Croatia. His wife also tested positive.

Viktor Troicki said Tuesday that he and his pregnant wife have both been diagnosed with the virus, while Grigor Dimitrov, a three-time Grand Slam semifinalist from Bulgaria, said Sunday he tested positive. Borna Coric played Dimitrov on Saturday in Zadar and said Monday he has also tested positive.

NFL

DETROIT (AP) - Martha Firestone Ford is stepping down as principal owner of the Detroit Lions.

The Lions announced Tuesday that Ford’s daughter, Sheila Ford Hamp, is taking over as the team’s principal owner and chairman.

Ford had been in charge of the Lions since 2014, when her husband, William Clay Ford, died.

Hamp, 68, has been one of the team’s vice chairmen during her mother’s ownership.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

West Virginia has placed defensive coordinator Vic Koenning on administrative leave after a player alleged in a social media post that the assistant coach made a series of insensitive remarks, including against Hispanics.

West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons announced the move Tuesday after safety Kerry Martin posted the allegations on his Twitter account about Koenning.

“I want to thank Kerry Martin for having the courage to bring his concerns to light,” Lyons said in a statement.

Koenning, who was brought to West Virginia from Troy when coach Neal Brown was hired last year, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

WNBA

ATLANTA (AP) - Tiffany Hayes has become the second Atlanta Dream guard to announce plans to sit out the 2020 season.

The Dream announced Tuesday that Hayes, a 2018 all-WNBA first-team selection, said she will not play this season. Hayes did not mention social protests or the coronavirus pandemic in her statement released by the team, but she said sitting out the season “is in my best interest with everything going on right now.”

Hayes said she made her decision “after much thought and consideration.”

Earlier, Renee Montgomery said she will opt out of the season to focus on social injustice and voter registration.

WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL

BOSTON (AP) - Longtime Bentley University women’s basketball coach Barbara Stevens is retiring after a four-decade run that included more than 1,000 wins, the 2014 NCAA Division II national championship, and recent election to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

The 65-year-old coach made the announcement Tuesday, ending a 34-year stint at Bentley in which she compiled a 901-200 record, made 31 Division II tournament appearances and 14 in regional championships.

Stevens retires as the fourth-winningest coach in NCAA women’s basketball history with a 1,058-291 career record. She trails only Pat Summitt (1,098), Tara VanDerveer (1,094) and Geno Auriemma (1,091) in career victories.

SOCCER

U.S. national team players Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath and Christen Press have opted out of the National Women’s Soccer League tournament kicking off this weekend in Utah.

Heath and Press, who played with Rapinoe on the champion World Cup team last summer in France, cited concerns about the coronavirus.

The Challenge Cup opens Saturday with a game between the Thorns and the defending champion North Carolina Courage. The league’s teams announced their rosters on Tuesday.

COURTS

A federal judge has denied a request by American women’s soccer players to allow an immediate appeal of his decision to throw out their claim of unequal pay against the U.S. Soccer Federation.

U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner in Los Angeles has scheduled a trial for Sept. 15 on the players’ remaining claim of discriminatory work conditions.

Lawyers for the women had asked him to enter a final judgment on his decision to dismiss the pay claim, which would have allowed them to take the case to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

“The granting of an immediate appeal will not eliminate the possibility of two trials or the possibility of successive appeals involving interlocking facts,” Klausner wrote Tuesday. “The court has declined the parties’ request to stay trial pending the resolution of any appeal. And should a jury render a verdict unfavorable to plaintiffs on their remaining claims, there is no reason to think plaintiffs will not appeal that decision.”

NEW YORK (AP) - Fifteen minor league baseball teams have filed a lawsuit alleging breach of contract by insurance providers after being denied claims for business-interruption insurance due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Major League Baseball announced Monday that it will attempt to play a 60-game regular season, but its minor league clubs - many under threat of losing affiliations amid negotiations with MLB - are unlikely to play until at least 2021.

Minor league franchises said in the suit filed Tuesday that even though they continue to pay yearly premiums to insurance providers for business-interruption insurance, they have been denied coverage after Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred indefinitely suspended their seasons in March.

OBITUARY

BRIDGNORTH, England (AP) - Liam Treadwell, an English jockey who rode a horse with odds of 100-1 to victory in the Grand National Steeplechase in 2009, has died. He was 34.

Treadwell’s death was confirmed by horseracing trainer Alastair Ralph.

Police attended the home of Treadwell after his death, which is being treated as unexplained, Britain’s Press Association reported. Police said they did not suspect any third-party involvement.

Treadwell was riding in the Grand National for the first time when he guided Mon Mome to one of the most surprising wins in the history of the grueling race in 2009.

It was one of more than 300 winners in Treadwell’s career.

___

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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