July 1 in sports history: One last, magical fight for ‘The Bird’

Here’s a look back at notable sports news on July 1 through the years:

1982: In 1976, rookie right-hander Mark “The Bird” Fidrych was a phenomenon with Tigers, finishing 19-9 and winning AL Rookie of the Year. His strange gyrations on the mound and his talking to the baseball and assorted other goofiness made him a fan favorite.

By 1980, though, Fidyrch was out of the big leagues, done in by an arm injury. Hoping to work his way back to the bigs, he signed on with Boston’s Pawtucket, Rhode Island, minor league team.

On a magical night, nearly 9,400 fans somehow packed the Pawtucket ballpark designed to accommodate 5,800 to watch “The Bird” pitch against the Yankees’ Triple-A farm team. Slumping Dave Righetti, the 1981 AL Rookie of Year who had been sent down to the minors, started for Columbus.

Nearly 125 media members had credentials for the game — mostly to see Righetti. “I have never seen anything like it,” Columbus manager Frank Verdi told the Boston Globe.

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By John Banks | Last updated 6/26/2

MLBPA offers 70 games, split playoff revenue to MLB owners

The Major League Baseball Players Association has countered an offer made by MLB owners and increased the number of requested regular-season games amid the coronavirus pandemic from 60 to 70.

In the same week MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told ESPN’s Mike Greenberg he was “not confident” there would be any season after negotiations between the two parties fell apart, owners submitted a proposal of 60 games with fully prorated pay on Wednesday.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that the players would want more games to make up for salaries lost due to the shortened season, however, and that seems to be the case. On Thursday, Passan and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic both tweeted the players have asked for 70 games, a split of playoff revenues, and a universal designated hitter.

Passan adds he believes owners will reject this offer.

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By Zac Wassink | Last updated 6/18/20

NASCAR welcomes fans to June 14 Homestead-Miami race, June 21 Talladega event

Pockets of NASCAR fans won’t have to wait long to watch live racing in person despite concerns regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday, NASCAR announced its plans to welcome spectators to Sunday’s (June 14) Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway and to the June 21 GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Per an official statement, NASCAR explained all fans will be screened upon arrival, they will be required to wear masks and they are asked to respect social-distancing guidelines at six feet apart. Social distancing will be enforced by track staffs.

Spectators won’t have infield access. While tailgates are prohibited, Homestead-Miami Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway will both offer concessions. Forty-four RV camping spaces will be made available for the GEICO 500 atop the Alabama Gang Superstretch. Screening for those spots begins Friday, June 19.

The NASCAR statement added that 1,000 South Florida military members will be honorary guests for the Dixie Vodka 400. Up to 5,000 fans can attend the GEICO 500. Ticket information is found on the official websites for those venues.

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By Zac Wassink | Last updated 6/9/20

Evander Holyfield interested in charity boxing match with Mike Tyson

Evander Holyfield is open to a charity boxing match with Mike Tyson.

Both Tyson and Holyfield have been posting videos on social media that hint at boxing returns, and they seem to be building toward a fight with each other. Holyfield says he would do it so long as Tyson asks.

“If I ask him, it’s almost like me being a bully saying I want to go against somebody I’ve beaten twice,” Holyfield told the BBC. “I don’t want pressure on me that ‘you just want to fight Mike because you know you can beat him’.”

On May 6, Holyfield even posted a message on Instagram saying he would be returning to the ring for a charity boxing match.

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Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports | By Larry Brown | Last updated 5/25/20

The top 25 NBA duos of all time Posted 15 hours ago

The NBA, at least over the last few four of five decades, has been a league of superstars. However, when it comes to team success and winning championships, two are usually better than one.

Here’s a ranking of the NBA’s top teammate duos throughout league history. 1 of 25

25. LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers

As of early May, James and Davis have not played a full season together. However, they have the Lakers in a good place with each averaging at least 25 points per contest. This pair makes the list for its potential going forward — however long they are playing together in Los Angeles, that is, which, at the moment, has Lakers fans excited and believing this could lead to plenty of success.

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5-21-2020  By Jeff Mezydlo

Belmont Stakes moved to June 20 without fans as race is shortened

The Triple Crown series won’t be business as usual in multiple ways this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

As reported by ESPN and other outlets, the New York Racing Association announced Tuesday that the Belmont Stakes has been rescheduled from June 6 to June 20. The race has been shortened from 1½ miles to 1⅛ miles, and fans will not be permitted to attend.

NYRA president Dave O’Rourke offered the following statement:

The Triple Crown’s other races were previously rescheduled. The Kentucky Derby was moved from May 2 to Sept. 5, and the Preakness Stakes will serve as the final leg on Oct. 3.

“The Belmont Stakes is a New York institution that will provide world-class entertainment for sports fans during these challenging times. While this will certainly be a unique running of this historic race, we are grateful to be able to hold the Belmont Stakes in 2020. Thanks to our partners at NBC Sports, fans across the country can look forward to a day of exceptional thoroughbred racing at a time when entertainment and sports are so important to providing a sense of normalcy.”

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By Zac Wassink | Last updated 5/19/20

Five underrated players who could be traded during the NFL Draft

We’ve read all about big-name players being on the trade block ahead of this week’s NFL Draft. There’s a number of household names who could be moved.

On the other end of the ledger, we fully expect some lesser-known players to be traded. That includes a franchise-tagged guard in New England and an electric young running back currently calling Northern California home.

Here is a look at five underrated players who could be moved during the three-day draft starting Thursday evening.

Joe Thuney, guard, New England Patriots

New England’s decision to place the franchise tag on Thuney now looks like a bad idea. He will earn $14.78 million next season. Given that the Pats are like to struggle following the departure of QB Tom Brady, look for them to move the 27-year-old guard.

The Pats likely won’t get the compensation they’re hoping for here. They are looking at nothing more than a third-round pick. Even then, other teams with needs at guard could come calling. It would require signing Thuney to a long-term deal, but could be well worth it.

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Originally posted on Sportsnaut | By Vincent Frank | Last updated 4/22/20

Top takeaways from XFL Week 3

Week 3 of the XFL season featured much better quality of play compared to last weekend. That’s to be expected for the start-up league.

It included the St. Louis BattleHawks putting up a heck of a performance in front of a packed crowd in their home debut. Meanwhile, Houston Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker immediately showed why he’ll be considered by NFL teams.

On the other side of the ledger, Cardale Jones and his DC Defenders laid an egg against the previously winless Los Angeles Wildcats while the Tampa Bay Vipers continue to fall all over themselves.

These are among the top takeaways from Week 3 of the inaugural XFL season.

BattleHawks backfield is scary

The St. Louis BattleHawks absolutely dominated a lesser New York Guardians squad in front of an electric home crowd on Sunday. That included some tremendous play on defense and a few exceptional performances on special teams. It led to St. Louis not having to rely a lot on Jordan Ta’amu under center.

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Originally posted on Sportsnaut | By Vincent Frank | Last updated 2/23/20

Report: Greg Olsen could decide NFL future by Friday

After visiting with multiple NFL teams to open the offseason and drawing rave reviews for his work in the broadcast booth, former Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen could be nearing a decision regarding his future in football.

According to reports , Olsen could decide by Friday whether or not he will return to the NFL for the 2020 season or step away from the game and move into broadcasting. Olsen, 34, reportedly has multiple television offers, along with offers from the Washington Redskins, Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks to play next season.

Carolina parted ways with Olsen in January. Olsen, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, immediately received interest from other teams following his release.

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Originally posted on Sportsnaut | By Matt Johnson | Last updated 2/13/20

Vanessa Bryant honors Kobe and Gianna by renaming foundation

Vanessa Bryant continues to mourn the loss of her husband and daughter in a tragic helicopter accident. They were two of nine people killed after a chopper went down in Southern California on Jan. 26.

As Vanessa and her family attempt to move forward, she has decided to rename the Mamba Sports Foundation to pay homage to her late daughter, Gianna.

Mrs. Bryant made the announcement on Instagram with a heartfelt post.

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Originally posted on Sportsnaut | By Vincent Frank | Last updated 2/13/20