Tribune News Service

Sports Budget for Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Updated at 6 p.m. EDT (2200 UTC)

This budget is now available at http://www.TribuneNewsService.com, with direct links to stories and art. See details at the end of the budget.


^With no games and no patrons, sports bars scramble to stay afloat during the coronavirus shutdown<

SPORTSBARS-CHICAGO-SPORTSPLUS:TB — A few weeks ago, when the coronavirus still lived somewhat in the backdrop of the national consciousness, Palace Grill owner George Lemperis worried that business at his Blackhawks-themed diner near the United Center would slide a bit because of the hockey team's fading playoff hopes.

Then, about a week and a half ago, he knew his bottom line would take a hit when the NHL and other leagues halted their seasons, just as U.S. coronavirus cases began to spike and the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

1450 by Phil Thompson in Chicago. MOVED


^Dayton star Obi Toppin to enter NBA draft<

BKC-DAYTON-TOPPIN:DY — Dayton Flyers forward Obi Toppin announced Wednesday he will enter the NBA draft, ending his college career after three years at the University of Dayton and two seasons on the court.

Toppin made the announcement, which has been expected by everyone who saw his draft stock rise all season, with a video on Twitter. He had two years of eligibility remaining, but at 22, he's the age of a college senior and he's expected to be a lottery pick in June. There was no doubt he would turn pro this spring.

550 by David Jablonski in Dayton, Ohio. MOVED

^Karl-Anthony Towns reveals his mother is in hospital battling COVID-19<

BKN-TWOLVES-TOWNS-MOM:MS — Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns said his mother is in the hospital and currently in a medically-induced coma as she battles COVID-19, an illness caused by a novel strain of coronavirus.

Towns made the announcement early Wednesday morning on his Instagram page, saying that his mother, Jacqueline Cruz, gradually got worse to the point that doctors put her on a ventilator and eventually induced the coma as she fights the disease.

400 by Chris Hines in Minneapolis. MOVED


^NHL postpones 2020 draft amid coronavirus pandemic<

HKN-DRAFT-POSTPONEMENT:LA — The NHL announced the postponement of its draft, scouting combine and annual awards ceremony on Wednesday, the latest major events to be disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

When they will take place, and how the teams will evaluate potential prospects, however, remains to be seen. The combine was scheduled for June 1-6 in Buffalo, N.Y. The draft was originally slated for June 26-27 in Montreal.

250 by Jack Harris in Los Angeles. MOVED



^Bryce Miller: Padres optimist Peter Seidler balances his health with uncertainty of the times<

BBN-MILLER-COLUMN:SD — You might expect just a subtle hint of dread or alarm talking to Peter Seidler, the general partner of the Padres. He's slugged through heavyweight prize fights with non-Hodgkin lymphoma — once in 2011-12 and another bout 2 1/2 years ago. He's a Type 1 diabetic.

These are unsettling times for all, let alone those considered at higher risk as the coronavirus shakes the globe. That isn't Seidler. Not even close. He's the optimist. He's the silver-linings guy. He eyes promising horizons when many see storm clouds.

850 by Bryce Miller in San Diego. MOVED


^Derrick Goold: Baseball's future is now. Welcome to virtual spring training.<

BBO-GOOLD-COLUMN:SL — It would be another few hours before the clubhouse closed, a few days before he closed up his spring rental, and another week before Florida closed all gyms. Still, as a few teammates got in their final throws before vamoosing home, Cardinals pitcher Daniel Ponce de Leon stopped to consider how to maintain himself for the opportunities he forced open.

A strong spring had followed a winter in which he invested in a modern upgrade to his pitching, and now, as baseball abruptly stopped, he had to consider how to stay in shape, stay strong, stay sharp, and be ready to go — at some point. How will he do that?

1600 by Derrick Goold in St. Louis. MOVED

^Scott Boras pitches 162-game MLB schedule with a World Series game on Christmas<

BBO-CORONAVIRUS-BORAS:LA — Imagine waking up Christmas morning, exchanging gifts with the family, having a midday brunch and then gathering around the television to watch Game 6 of the World Series?

What seems absurd to many makes perfect sense to agent Scott Boras, who has used the downtime caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to brainstorm ideas for how baseball can maintain the integrity of its traditional 162-game schedule and four-tiered playoff system despite a lengthy delay to the start of the season.

1000 (with trims) by Mike Digiovanna in Los Angeles. MOVED



^Mike Preston: Addition of Stefon Diggs makes Bills a top contender in AFC<

^FBN-PRESTON-COLUMN:BZ—<When the 2019 NFL season ended, there seemed to be one AFC team that was a player away from possibly going to the Super Bowl. That changed last week when the Buffalo Bills acquired former Maryland star receiver Stefon Diggs from the Minnesota Vikings.

He is a game-changer and a play-maker.

So now, put the Bills up there with the Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs as favorites to win the conference title. In exchange for Diggs and a 2020 seventh-round pick, Buffalo gave up first-, fifth- and sixth-round picks this season and a 2021 fourth-rounder, but that's what happens when a team believes they have found a difference-maker.

750 by Mike Preston. MOVED


^Vikings add receiver Tajae Sharpe, defensive lineman Anthony Zettel<

FBN-VIKINGS-SHARPE-ZETTEL:MS — The Vikings added wide receiver Tajae Sharpe to their roster on Wednesday, giving them another veteran receiver who can compete with Bisi Johnson for the No. 2 receiver spot and help add some depth behind Adam Thielen following last week's Stefon Diggs trade.

The former Titans receiver agreed to a one-year deal with the Vikings. He caught 25 passes for 329 yards and a career-high four touchdowns in Tennessee last year, though his playing time dwindled and his targets slipped in a run-heavy offense in 2019.

350 by Ben Goessling in Minneapolis. MOVED


^Bucs re-sign defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh for one year, $8 million<

FBN-BUCS-SUH:PT — Ndamukong Suh had nearly as many touchdowns (two) as he had sacks (2.5) last season, but the Bucs fulfilled their mission of keeping the defense together by bringing the Pro Bowl defensive tackle back on a one-year, $8 million contract.

Suh, 33, is entering his 11th season and pairs nicely inside with Vita Vea, giving the Bucs two unmovable defenders in the middle of the line. He had received interest from the San Francisco 49ers, but that seemed to wane earlier in the week.

200 by Rick Stroud in Tampa, Fla. MOVED


^Bucs' Tom Brady embraces new challenge of the competitive NFC South<

FBN-BUCS-BRADY-NFCSOUTH:PT — Along with adjusting to a new team, a new coaching staff and a group of entirely new teammates, new Bucs quarterback Tom Brady will also have to adapt to playing in a new division.

Brady's Patriots dominated the AFC East, winning the division 17 of the past 19 seasons (The Jets won in 2002 and the Dolphins won in 2008). Taking claim of the NFC South will be a more daunting task. He will trade in the brisk Northeast weather for some sweltering early-season games in Tampa Bay. But that's just the beginning.

800 by Eduardo A. Encina in Tampa, Fla. MOVED


^Dallas Cowboys add former OU TE Blake Bell and more size up front with NT Dontari Poe<

^FBN-COWBOYS-BELL-POE:FT—<The Dallas Cowboys continued their offseason revamp by signing former Oklahoma tight end Blake Bell and finalizing a deal with massive nose tackle Dontari Poe.

Poe and the Cowboys have agreed to terms but are still working out the language before the deal is officially complete, per source.

400 by Clarence E. Hill Jr.. MOVED


^Mac Engel: Dallas Cowboys best defensive acquisition is a two-time suspended bust<

^FBN-ENGEL-COLUMN:FT—<The Dallas Cowboys' best chance to acquire a top defensive player now comes down to whether the NFL will reinstate a guy who has served more year-long drug suspension than he has NFL starts.

Randy Gregory is the "ugly baby" the Cowboys have gone above and beyond for time and again. This even exceeds the norm for Jerry Jones' threshold for player behavior.

Randy Gregory owes Jerry and the Cowboys, and he needs to pay, and play, up.

650 by Mac Engel. MOVED


^Halapoulivaati Vaitai has new daughter, new opportunity with Lions<

^FBN-LIONS-VAITAI:DTN—<When this global crisis is over, and we are able to return to normal life, Vaitai will come to Detroit and join the Lions, where he figures to be the team's new starting right tackle after serving as a versatile backup the past four years in Philadelphia.

650 by Justin Rogers in Allen Park, Mich. MOVED

^Why Super Bowl 55 can be the 'most important Super Bowl of our lifetime'<

FBN-SUPERBOWL:PT — After years of meticulous planning, Rob Higgins was poised to roll out Tampa Bay's red carpet for two sports events with global audiences, only to have the carpet pulled out from under him.

The coronavirus pandemic robbed the area of six men's NCAA Tournament games (scheduled for last week at Amalie Arena) and WrestleMania 36 (set for April 5 at Raymond James Stadium). Higgins, executive director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, estimates that those two events alone would have generated more than 60,000 hotel-visitor room nights for the region.

650 by Joey Knight and Matt Baker in Tampa, Fla. MOVED



^Warriors' Steph Curry to host coronavirus Q&A with Dr. Anthony Fauci<

^BKN-WARRIORS-CURRY-CORONAVIRUS:SJ—<Warriors guard Stephen Curry will talk with Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the leading experts on the coronavirus pandemic, on his Instagram account at 10 am PT on Thursday.

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, has been a leading advisor to President Trump and key part to the White House response to the COVID-19 crisis. He is also regularly a part of press briefings.

200 by Wes Goldberg. MOVED

^Heat's Haslem calls out spring breakers who came to Miami amid coronavirus pandemic<

BKN-HEAT-HASLEM-SPRINGBREAKERS:MI — Udonis Haslem has an overarching message for the general public right now: Stay home.

The Miami Heat star and Miami native saw the spring breakers mocking the coronavirus pandemic while in his city. He didn't like it. Not one bit.

And on Wednesday, in a piece posted on The Players' Tribune, Haslem spoke his mind.

400 by Jordan McPherson in Miami. MOVED


^After Kenny Atkinson's firing, David Fizdale says a team's culture has to hold up to 'disgruntled players'<

^BKN-NETS-FIZDALE:NY—<The Nets had their culture in place, their set values, principles and head coach. But it couldn't withstand the additions of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.

David Fizdale, who once navigated the balance between a program's identity and a superstar's influence as a former Miami Heat assistant, called Brooklyn's firing of Kenny Atkinson "a kick in the stomach" and implied the coach didn't have enough support.

650 by Stefan Bondy. MOVED


^Duke to add Columbia graduate transfer Patrick Tape<

BKC-DUKE-TAPE:RA — For the first time since the NCAA relaxed the graduate transfer rule in 2011 and it subsequently became a popular route for college player movement, Duke is adding a player in that manner.

Patrick Tape, a 6-10 forward from Charlotte who played three seasons at Columbia, told Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski on Tuesday he'd joining the Blue Devils for his final season of college eligibility.

After playing three seasons from 2016-18 at Columbia, and being named all-Ivy League honorable mention as a junior, Tape was injured and expected to miss part of his senior season when he left the team last October.

500 by Steve Wiseman in Durham, N.C. MOVED



^Mike Jensen: Ivy League needs to give spring athletes a real shot at coming back next year<

CMP-JENSEN-COLUMN:PH — Jennifer Brann answered her cell phone Saturday afternoon. Had the Penn senior softball pitcher flown back home to Houston? She was still in Philadelphia.

"I'm actually at the field, just sitting at the field," Brann said. "Listening to music. It's sunny and 50. We should be playing right now."

A Penn game had been scheduled for just that time, at Harvard, first game of a doubleheader. Before all the games were cancelled everywhere.

1150 by Mike Jensen in Philadelphia. MOVED



^Minnesota United supporters group blasts team for telling idled workers to find other jobs<

SOC-MLS-MINNESOTAUNITED-WORKERS:MS — One of Minnesota United's four supporters groups has criticized the team for an email it sent Monday to some of its part-time game-day workers that advised they file for unemployment compensation while the MLS season is suspended and named three corporate partners that are hiring.

On Twitter, the supporters group Red Loons posted, "Sad to report @MNUFC has the WORST response to the COVID-19 crisis in MLS."

Many NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball teams and some of their biggest stars have pledged to pay or provide financial assistance to arena or stadium workers who are now out of work with pro-sports seasons in the United States and Canada suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.

650 by Jerry Zgoda in Minneapolis. MOVED


^MLS extends moratorium on training until April 4<

SOC-MLS-TRAINING:LA — MLS extended its moratorium on training sessions for a third time Wednesday, barring players and staff from using team facilities until at least April 4 because of the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The MLS has suspended its season until May 10, postponing 115 games leaguewide.

The training moratorium, first imposed on March 13, the day after the league suspended the season, allows only players requiring specialized medical treatment and rehabilitation that cannot be performed at home to access team facilities. In addition, players have been advised to do conditioning alone at home, and not practice or train in groups.

450 by Kevin Baxter in Los Angeles. MOVED



^Marcus Hayes: Olympics will heal us when they resume<

^OLY-HAYES-COLUMN:PH—<I hated the Olympics. I hated them the way I hated Super Bowls, and World Series, and every other mass gathering of mass media digesting mass stories for mass consumption.

Both summer and winter I avoided watching the Games, avoided talking about them, and I especially avoided covering them, with an amount of energy that eventually would embarrass me.

Because, in 2008, I was assigned to cover the Summer Games in, of all places, Beijing. And so I went. And so my ignorances, my prejudices, and my cynicisms evaporated, and I fell in love with the Olympics.

900 by Marcus Hayes. MOVED


^Tokyo Olympics could be held before the summer of 2021<

^OLY-CORONAVIRUS-POSTPONEMENT:LA—<A day after announcing the postponement of the 2020 Summer Olympics, the head of the International Olympic Committee suggested the competition might be rescheduled at some point before the summer of 2021.

Speaking with hundreds of reporters in a teleconference on Wednesday, IOC President Thomas Bach said a newly formed task force will face the "huge jigsaw puzzle" of setting a new date amid the continuing coronavirus outbreak.

400 by David Wharton. MOVED



^Construction on PGA Tour Global Home continues uninterrupted<

^GLF-PGA-GLOBALHOME:JK—<There are no golf balls in the air for the PGA Tour for the time being but there's plenty of dust and noise in the air along County Road 210 as the construction of the Tour's 187,000-square foot "Global Home" continues on schedule.

Laborers for Clark Construction and other subcontractors were hard at it on Wednesday, both on the shell of the $65 million dollar building that will serve as the new headquarters for the Tour and more than 800 employees, and on projects such as the man-made lake that will surround the building.

"Construction on the Global Home of the PGA Tour continues as scheduled," said Kirsten Sabia, the Tour's vice president for Integrated Communications in an emailed statement.

600 by Garry Smits. MOVED



^Gulfstream Park continues racing, denies threatening Hallandale Beach with legal action<

RAC-GULFSTREAMPARK:FL — Racing continued at Gulfstream Park on Wednesday, with the horse track owners citing the need to care for the horses, and Hallandale Beach city officials exploring whether the park's activities violate Broward County's executive order to close nonessential businesses due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bill Badget, the Executive Director of Florida Racing Operations for The Stronach Group, which owns Gulfstream Park, said in a statement Wednesday the track did not threaten legal action against Hallandale Beach. On Tuesday, Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor Sabrina Javellana told the Sun Sentinel that Gulfstream was threatening the city with legal action if it tried to shut down the track.

700 by Adam Lichtenstein in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. MOVED



^With no sports, would you bet on the weather? Jeopardy!? Politics?<

^SPORTS-BETTING:AT—<For those who might underestimate the gaming public, there would seem to be a fundamental hole in sports betting now that there are no major sports upon which to bet.

Not so. Maybe a baker can't make bread without flour or a trucker can't haul without gas. But somehow, the bookie carries on without sports.

How about putting a few bob on the contestants correctly answering two of the three daily doubles on today's episode of "Jeopardy!"?

Or just a small wager on Wednesday's low temperature in Vancouver — the over/under is 3 degrees Celsius?

1300 by Steve Hummer. MOVED


^Dennis Anderson: Reality is a real dose these days, but so is the fishing<

^OTD-ANDERSON-COLUMN:MS—<Years ago, a friend of mine, consummately befuddled, declared that at all costs Minnesotans should avoid making major life decisions in January, February or March, an opinion he forged when he awoke one spring morning to realize he had divorced his wife in January and couldn't recall why.

"If I had gone fishing instead," he said, "I'd still be married."

His point, kind of, wasn't that fishing is uniquely therapeutic in troubled times. Rather, that the salutary effects of water accrue to those who frequent it most, anglers among them.

800 by Dennis Anderson in Minneapolis. MOVED


^Feds, Minnesota putting the marsh back in Marsh Lake<

OTD-MINN-MARSHLAKE:MS — Marsh Lake is working again. Water is percolating out of the famous reservoir faster than the Minnesota River is flowing in.

Before long, duck hunters, anglers, naturalists and bird watchers will start to realize a dream conceived more than 20 years ago: returning the degraded, carp-infested Marsh Lake to its previous grandeur as a waterfowl and shorebird mecca.

"All the major features are complete there is hope on the horizon," said Clay Tallman, Army Corps of Engineers project manager for the $13 million ecosystem restoration in far western Minnesota.

600 by Tony Kennedy in Minneapolis. MOVED


^John Myers: In spring, Duluth is bald eagle capital of the world<

OTD-MYERS-COLUMN:DU — Frank Nicoletti was looking out over the Duluth harbor when he noticed something in the distance.

"Three balds. Out above the bridge. Coming at us. They look like movers," Nicoletti said.

Then he brought up his high-powered binoculars and confirmed what he saw with his naked eye before adding three more checks to the daily eagle tally. (Movers are migrating birds as opposed to local birds.)

1500 by John Myers in Duluth, Minn. MOVED


^Best times for anglers<



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