Tribune News Service

Sports Budget for Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Updated at 11 p.m. EDT (0300 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.


^It's not only football players. The postponement of fall sports affects so many college athletes — just without the outcry.<

CMP-SPORTS-POSTPONEMENTS-SPORTSPLUS:TB — When Loyola Chicago senior midfielder Giann Magno learned the fall soccer season was postponed because of COVID-19, he processed a mix of emotions.

He was disappointed not to compete. He was relieved to have some finality to questions about whether he should continue preparing for fall games. Quickly, he moved on to acceptance.

Measured responses such as Magno's often aren't given the megaphone in the divided, intersecting world of sports, politics and COVID-19.

1050 by Shannon Ryan in Chicago. MOVED


^Big Ten football is coming back in October with at least 8 games in 9 weeks — and 'significant medical protocols'<

FBC-BIGTEN-1ST-LEDE:TB — For a while there, it looked as if Big Ten football would produce only one score this fall: 11-3.

As in, 11 schools voted to postpone fall sports and three (Ohio State, Nebraska and Iowa) dissented.

But after weeks of criticism and cajoling from the likes of Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, Iowa football parents, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and President Donald Trump, the Big Ten crossed the 1-yard line — as Trump alluded to in a tweet.

The conference announced its restart Wednesday, declaring a unanimous vote to start playing Oct. 23-24 with a slate of at least eight games in nine weeks and a conference title game Dec. 19.

1100 by Teddy Greenstein in Chicago. MOVED


^Lakers' LeBron James and Anthony Davis are selected to All-NBA first team<

BKN-ALLNBA-TEAMS:LA — LeBron James and Anthony Davis have been awarded spots on the All-NBA first team, the only two players with the honor who are still playing inside the NBA bubble.

The Lakers duo is joined by Houston's James Harden, Dallas' Luka Doncic and Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo, the likely league most valuable player.

Antetokounmpo and James were selected unanimously to the first team by a panel of media and broadcasters.

Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard headlined the All-NBA second team with Denver star Nikola Jokic, who just helped eliminate the Clippers on Tuesday night. They're joined by Oklahoma City's Chris Paul, Toronto's Pascal Siakam and Portland's Damian Lillard.

200 by Dan Woike in Orlando, Fla. MOVED


^College basketball season begins to take shape as NCAA approves start date of Nov. 25<

^BKC-NCAA-SEASON:HC—<A key step in determining what the college basketball season will look like amid the coronavirus pandemic came Wednesday with the NCAA's Division I Council approving a plan to begin the college basketball season for men and women, on Nov. 25, with practices to start Oct. 14.

The vote doesn't necessarily mean the season will begin on that date, but it's an important first step taken in setting the parameters of the season. Now it's up to conferences, such as the Big East, to determine what their schedules will look like. Then schools like UConn can begin scheduling, incorporating nonconference games and multiteam events. Teams will be allowed to play a maximum of 27 games.

"We are very excited to have a target to shoot for," UConn men's coach Dan Hurley said.

750 by Dom Amore. MOVED


^WNBA great Maya Moore marries Jonathan Irons, the man she helped free from prison<

^BKL-MOORE-IRONS-MARRIAGE:NY—<It was a slam dunk.

Maya Moore has married Jonathan Irons, the man she helped free from prison earlier this year after a wrongful conviction.

The all-time WNBA great paused her career with the Minnesota Lynx before the 2019 season to work for Irons' freedom. Irons walked out of prison July 2.

Moore, 31, told "Good Morning America" on Wednesday that the couple married "a couple months ago" in a small, socially-distanced ceremony.

Moore first met Irons when she was 18 and part of a prison ministry program in Jefferson City, Mo.

350 by Joseph Wilkinson. MOVED



^Mark Zeigler: Why sports fans feel so ungrounded in the age of COVID-19<

ZEIGLER-COLUMN:SD — We haven't seen blue skies in more than a week, a high band of smoke from wildfires mixing with clouds and the marine layer to create a soupy, eerie haze. The sun looks like Jupiter, an otherworldly orange orb, as it rises and sets through horizontal streaks of clouds, the usual blue and green wavelengths of light refracted by the smoke particles while the reds sneak through to cast an apocalyptic pall.

It is disorienting, distressing, dispiriting, discombobulating.

The weather matches our mood.

If you are a sports fan, you understand.

1000 by Mark Zeigler in San Diego. MOVED



^Rays force extra innings but come up short in 4-2 loss to Nationals<

BBO-NATIONALS-RAYS:PT — There's a reason manager Kevin Cash has been shunning talk about the playoffs, sticking to his mantra that his Rays are in a good position but have more work to do to get there and need to play better.

Primarily, because he's right.

Wednesday's 4-2 matinee loss to the Nationals was not the kind of game to inspire championship dreams, or even a long playoff run, as the Rays' offense was pretty much shut down again and couldn't cover the two mistakes its pitchers made.

Even a game-tying homer by Brandon Lowe with two outs and a 2-2 count in the ninth couldn't save the day.

600 by Marc Topkin in St. Petersburg, Fla. MOVED


^A's whittle down magic number to clinch division with win over Rockies<

^BBO-ATHLETICS-ROCKIES:SJ—<Finally, a happy flight. There's a good chance the A's will descend out of blue skies — finally — upon return to the Bay Area. It will be a welcome sight after the arduous road trip they've endured that had them in Seattle's unhealthy air and into Denver's thin air, in-and-out of three different time zones to play four games in under 72 hours.

They can breathe again. And a scrappy 3-1 win over the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday afternoon should provide a bit of satisfaction after the all that trouble.

800 by Shayna Rubin. MOVED

^With Cardinals in a bind, pushed the brink of trouble, Wainwright rushes to the rescue, again<

BBN-CARDINALS-BREWERS-GAME1:SL — Each time the Cardinals have found themselves on the precipice of disaster this season — returning from 17 days of quarantine, a bullpen threadbare from reach use, a losing streak — Adam Wainwright has been the pitcher next up in the rotation.

And he has pulled them back from the brink.

Wainwright pitched his second complete game of the season and breezed through the Brewers lineup in the late innings to carry the Cardinals to a 4-2 victory Wednesday in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Miller Park. Milwaukee got a two-run homer in the first inning — and that was it.

450 by Derrick Goold in Milwaukee. MOVED

^Dodgers clinch playoff spot with win over Padres<

BBN-DODGERS-PADRES:LA — The announcement Wednesday morning set off alarms: Brusdar Graterol, not Dustin May, would start the series finale against the San Diego Padres. May was scheduled to make his first appearance since taking a groundball off his left foot last week. It was a scare, but tests showed the foot wasn't broken. He was supposedly ready to go.

And he was. The Dodgers just decided they were going to treat Wednesday like an experiment for October, not like the big game between clubs vying for a division title down the stretch with a chance to clinch a postseason berth that it should've been because Major League Baseball's playoff format rendered the result unimportant.

950 by Jorge Castillo in San Diego. MOVED


^Pirates swept by Reds as offense struggles again<

BBN-PIRATES-REDS:PG — Entering the top of the ninth inning on Wednesday night, the Pirates faced a one-run deficit.

Left fielder Adam Frazier gave a mighty swing and produced a sharp line drive to left field, but it was caught. Third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes weakly grounded out to the pitcher. Designated hitter Colin Moran waved and missed at a ball in the dirt.

So ended an extremely tough offensive night and series for the Pirates, who produced just six runs in 32 innings against the Cincinnati Reds over four games, striking out 45 times in the process en route to a four-game sweep.

550 by Mike Persak in Cincinnati. MOVED

^Royals' Brady Singer follows no-hit bid with dominant outing against the Tigers<

^BBA-ROYALS-TIGERS:KC—<Kansas City Royals rookie pitcher Brady Singer sure looked like he was poised to match teammate Brad Keller's nine-inning shutout from three days ago.

Instead Singer tossed six scoreless innings and departed after throwing 81 pitches in a second consecutive dazzling performance on the road against an AL Central Division foe. Singer matched his career high with eight strikeouts for the second start in a row as the Royals collected a 4-0 win over the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on Wednesday night.

200 by Lynn Worthy. MOVED


^Wainwright rescues Cardinals with complete game, but Brewers bop back to split doubleheader<

BBN-CARDINALS-BREWERS-GAME2:SL — Already guilty of the being the team that was the opponent when the Cincinnati Reds awoke and started a winning streak that has brought them into the playoff race, the Cardinals could leave Milwaukee guilty of being the spark for another rival's offense.

A few hours after Adam Wainwright threw a complete-game victory to right the Cardinals after a difficult Tuesday night, the Brewers thundered their way to a series victory.

Ryan Braun hit his 350th career homer in the first inning and No. 9 hitter Jacob Nottingham added a two-run homer later as Milwaukee won the second game, 6-0, on Wednesday at Miller Park. The Cardinals edged Milwaukee, 4-2, in Game 1.

400 by Derrick Goold in Milwaukee. MOVED

^Keegan Akin strikes out nine, including six straight, to earn first major league win as Orioles beat Braves, 5-1<

^BBO-BRAVES-ORIOLES:BZ—< All that time Keegan Akin spent toiling last summer at Triple-A Norfolk as the Orioles papered over the holes in their rotation was so the young left-hander could be a long-term solution, not a quick fix.

Every time he turns in a performance like Wednesday night's masterful start against the Atlanta Braves, a 5-1 Orioles win, makes that time seem worthwhile.

450 by Jon Meoli in Baltimore. MOVED


^Marlins bounce back again to beat Red Sox, gain ground in NL East race<

BBO-REDSOX-MARLINS:MI — There was never any worry Tuesday, even as the Miami Marlins scuffled through a shutout loss to the last-place Boston Red Sox, that whatever the Marlins were doing in the opener of a three-game series in Miami was the sign of any lingering issue. The dugout didn't feel any different, pitching kept the Marlins in the game and they even brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning. Don Mattingly had watched his team bounce back often enough this season that he didn't sound concerned before first pitch Tuesday.

He was right to not worry. A day after one of its worst offensive performances of the season, Miami scored twice in the first inning Wednesday and cruised to an 8-4 win against the Red Sox at Marlins Park.

600 by David Wilson in Miami. MOVED


^Kyle Higashioka hits three home runs, Gerrit Cole dominates as Yankees rout Blue Jays, 13-2<

BBA-BLUEJAYS-YANKEES:HK — DJ LeMahieu had already smashed two home runs Wednesday before the Toronto Blue Jays had collected one hit.

Through five innings, a dazzling Gerrit Cole displayed the kind of stuff that would have had a large Yankee Stadium crowd buzzing about a possible no-hitter.

And the latest pinstriped homer parade — including three by backup catcher Kyle Higashioka — would have brought them to their feet, on a night when Aaron Judge would have been wildly cheered just for his presence back in the lineup.

600 by Pete Caldera in New York. MOVED

^NY Mets rally in 9th to beat Phillies after Jacob deGrom exits early<

^BBN-METS-PHILLIES:HK—<In a stunning twist, the Mets did not back down or shrivel. They showed toughness and fight, guts and grit.

They overcame a three-run deficit, tied the game late, untied it even later and beat the Phillies, 5-4 at Citizens Bank Park.

750 by Justin Toscano in Philadelphia. MOVED

^Wednesday's games<

TNS expects coverage from the following games:

Minnesota at Chicago White Sox, 8:10 p.m.

Texas at Houston, 8:10 p.m.

Cleveland at Chicago Cubs, 8:15 p.m.

Arizona at LA Angels, 9:40 p.m.

San Francisco at Seattle, 9:40 p.m.


^Mike Preston: Despite big win in season opener, Ravens still have problems to solve<

FBN-PRESTON-COLUMN:BZ — As the Ravens celebrated their 32-point win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, coach John Harbaugh kept the performance in perspective. The Ravens still have a lot of work to do, and some of the same problems that surfaced last year showed up again in the season opener.

The outcome after the first half Sunday was predictable and the game was about as exciting as a preseason exhibition, but the Ravens should have learned lessons on both sides of the ball. Buried underneath all those offensive yards and their secrecy surrounding their young receiving corps were several problem areas and one burning question.

Where was the pass rush?

900 by Mike Preston in Baltimore. MOVED


^Paul Zeise: It is time for full-time Benny Snell football<

FBN-ZEISE-COLUMN:PG — I was as skeptical as anyone when it came to the glowing reports about Benny Snell coming out of Steelers training camp. The number of players who are said to be in the "best shape of their lives" is always far greater than those who actually are.

Snell was mostly a short-yardage running back last season for the Steelers, and his career at Kentucky suggested that was his specialty. He is a downhill, physical runner and he does get tough yards, but doing much beyond that seemed like something that would go over his head.

On Monday night against the Giants, though, two things became clear as the game wore on: Snell is more than capable of being an every-down back and he, not James Conner, is the Steelers' best running back.

750 by Paul Zeise in Pittsburgh. MOVED

^Omar Kelly: Can Dolphins coach Brian Flores and his staff make the necessary adjustments to win games?<

^FBN-KELLY-COLUMN:FL—<The one good thing about playing the New England Patriots early in a season is that Bill Belichick and his team have a way of showing you exactly what is wrong with your team.

All the warts get a spotlight put on them.

The bad thing about playing the Patriots early is that New England exposes your underbelly to the rest of the NFL, providing a blueprint for everyone to follow.

That means the Dolphins better expect for the Buffalo Bills to press Miami's receivers in Sunday's home opener at Hard Rock Stadium, giving them little room to work their routes with the belief that Miami's playmakers will struggle to get open and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick won't beat them deep.

850 by Omar Kelly. MOVED


^Greg Cote's Thursday night NFL pick<

^FBN-THURSDAY-PICK:MI—<Greg Cote makes his Thursday night NFL pick.

250 by Greg Cote. MOVED


^Bucs wide receiver Chris Godwin in concussion protocol, did not practice<

FBN-BUCS-GODWIN:PT — Another week, another status of a Bucs starting receiver is in limbo.

Chris Godwin is in concussion protocol and did not practice Wednesday, coach Bruce Arians said.

Godwin suffered a helmet-to-helmet hit from Saints safety D.J. Swearinger and left the game late in the fourth quarter. Swearinger and the Saints were penalized for hitting a defenseless receiver.

Arians said Godwin showed no symptoms from the hit after the game on Monday or Tuesday but had some when he came to work on Wednesday and the Bucs placed him in the protocol for precautionary reasons.

150 by Rick Stroud in Tampa, Fla. MOVED


^49ers CB Richard Sherman goes on injured reserve with leg injury<

FBN-49ERS-SHERMAN:SJ — Richard Sherman's 10th season came to an unexpected pause Wednesday, and the 49ers can only hope their top cornerback is not lost for more than the next three games.

A calf strain is sending Sherman to injured reserve, where he must be out until at least a Week 5 visit by the Miami Dolphins on Oct. 11, a league source confirmed.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday he was unaware of any other injuries from Sunday's season-opening loss other than those to tight end George Kittle (knee) and wide receiver Richie James (hamstring).

400 by Cam Inman in Santa Clara, Calif. MOVED

^Source: Cowboys LB Sean Lee out for 6 weeks after undergoing surgery for sports hernia<

FBN-COWBOYS-LEE:DA — The Cowboys will lose inside linebacker Sean Lee for six weeks after he underwent surgery for a sports hernia, a source said Wednesday.

Lee was already on injured reserve and expected to miss at least three weeks, but his health didn't improve and now he'll be lost for an extended period.

150 by Calvin Watkins in Frisco, Texas. MOVED

^Allen Robinson says scrubbing Bears from his social media accounts came from being 'a passionate person'<

FBN-BEARS-ROBINSON:TB — Allen Robinson said the social media scrub that had Chicago Bears fans in a tizzy Tuesday was a product of emotion as the wide receiver enters Week 2 of the season without a contract extension.

A day after Robinson deleted Bears references on his Twitter and Instagram accounts amid negotiations with the team, he spent a 10-minute video conference call with reporters Wednesday affirming his passion for playing for the Bears and saying his focus would remain on his on-field performance.

Robinson declined to address his representatives asking about a potential trade, as a source told the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday they had, and he also declined to say what he sees as a deadline for negotiations.

950 by Colleen Kane in Chicago. MOVED


^Omar Kelly: Who will step up for Dolphins if DeVante Parker can't play vs. Bills?<

^FBN-KELLY-COLUMN:FL—<Let's be honest with ourselves for a moment.

Can we say we're surprised DeVante Parker is dealing with another injury?

The Miami Dolphins have only benefited from Parker having one healthy season during his five-year, and one game tenure with the team.

So what exactly would make anyone conclude that the healthy year Parker had last season — the one where he delivered 1,202 receiving yards and nine touchdowns on 72 catches — would be the new normal?

750 by Omar Kelly. MOVED


^Bucs coach Arians on Brady: 'Tom and I are fine'<

FBN-BUCS-ARIANS-BRADY:PT ? Tom Brady fans from the Berkshires to Bradenton were shocked ? a few were outraged ? when he was called out by Bucs head coach Bruce Arians for throwing two interceptions in the team's 34-23 loss at New Orleans Sunday.

They have wondered aloud if there is trouble in paradise brewing between Brady and Arians.

But on Wednesday, Arians put that to rest.

"Tom and I are fine, so I don't really care what other people think," Arians said. "It's just what he and I think. We left the stadium fine (and) we showed up today fine, so there (is) nothing to talk about."

750 by Rick Stroud in Tampa, Fla. MOVED


^Sam Farmer's Thursday night NFL pick<

^FBN-THURSDAY-PICK:LA—<Cincinnati (0-1) at Cleveland (0-1).

50 by Sam Farmer. MOVED


^Browns legend Joe Thomas believes in Baker Mayfield, but sees this as make or break season<

^FBN-BROWNS-MAYFIELD:AK—<Joe Thomas still has faith Baker Mayfield will be the long-term solution at quarterback for the Browns.

Yet doubts about Mayfield have crept into the mind of the former Browns offensive lineman whose future induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame is widely considered a foregone conclusion.

"You could go as far and say that this is a make or break year," Thomas said Wednesday during a Zoom video conference in which the legendary left tackle, former Carolina Panthers and Baltimore Ravens star wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. and Colleen Wolfe previewed NFL Network's coverage of the "Thursday Night Football" between the Browns and Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium.

1400 by Nate Ulrich. MOVED

^Eagles coaches need to deliver a message to Carson Wentz: Holding the ball too long hurts the team<

^FBN-EAGLES-WENTZ:PH—<A broken record.

It's the phrase Doug Pederson used when asked if Carson Wentz was amenable to correcting his tendency of holding the ball too long. The Eagles quarterback is in his fifth season, and yet there were multiple times in Sunday's loss when he unnecessarily tried to extend a play and it hurt his team.

He has often made the argument that any potential bad from his aggressiveness can be outweighed by the good — and there have been spectacular moments — but there weren't any examples Sunday in Washington. At this point in his career, he should know on most occasions when to push the pedal and when not to.

1050 by Jeff McLane. MOVED


^Sam McDowell: Why teammates told Patrick Mahomes he had one of his best ever games in Chiefs opener<

FBN-MCDOWELL-COLUMN:KC — Patrick Mahomes had the fourth-lowest yardage output of his career in the Chiefs' 34-20 season-opening win Thursday, and the reason that needs to be stated first is because of what came next.

As he assessed the performance with his backup quarterbacks afterward, they told him it was one of the best games he'd ever played.


Mahomes managed only 211 yards on 24 completions, the former a number he has eclipsed 27 times and even doubled three times. His yards per attempt — 6.59 — is the third lowest total in his 32 career starts.

But, uh, one of his best games?

850 by Sam McDowell in Kansas City, Mo. MOVED


^Joe Manniello's Thursday night NFL pick<

^FBN-THURSDAY-PICK:ND—<Joe Manniello makes his Thursday night NFL pick.

200 by Joe Manniello. MOVED

^Armando Salguero: Dolphins couldn't stop Cam Newton (running), prepare to stop Josh Allen (running, passing)<

^FBN-SALGUERO-COLUMN:MI—<The assignments is tougher this week for the Miami Dolphins defense.

You already know last week was a disappointment because the Dolphins were unable to stop the New England Patriots from running the football and that led to a season-opening loss.

So this week coach Brian Flores has promised his team will spend a lot of time correcting the mistakes of a week ago and making sure the run defense plugs those leaks it sprang last week, including the biggest spill which came when quarterback Cam Newton led the Patriots in rushing.

That's good because the Buffalo Bills, like the Patriots, can hurt opponents with a running quarterback.

750 by Armando Salguero. MOVED


^A TV anchor asked for help paying for dog's surgery. Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst stepped up.<

FBN-FALCONS-HURST-DOG:CS — It's been a few years since Hayden Hurst took the field for South Carolina football, but the tight end affectionately nicknamed "Garnet Thor" remains a popular figure among the Gamecock faithful.

And just a few days after Hurst made his debut with the Atlanta Falcons with a spectacular grab in Week 1 of the NFL season, he showed Columbia is still very much on his mind with a charitable gesture.

Hurst donated $3,000 on Tuesday to a GoFundMe campaign for the dog of ABC Columbia sports anchor Mike Gillespie.

250 by Greg Hadley in Columbia, S.C. MOVED


^Matt Ryan: Falcons look to execute better in 'critical situations'<

FBN-FALCONS-RYAN:AT — When the Falcons came up short on a few key plays in their Week 1 loss to the Seahawks on Sunday, it reminded quarterback Matt Ryan of a quote he heard growing up about preparing for big moments.

"I think the mentality was right, I think it just comes down to execution," Ryan said of the Falcons' mindset heading into their season opener. "It's all 11 guys, on the same page, doing what their responsibility is for that given play in critical situations. And I really think that's what it comes down to. I think, I always heard this quote when I was younger that in critical situations, you don't rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your preparation, and I think that's it.

650 by Sarah K. Spencer in Atlanta. MOVED


^Marcus Hayes: Mike D'Antoni, Tyronn Lue, Billy Donovan are misfits for the Sixers coaching job, NBA experts agree<

BKN-HAYES-COLUMN:PH — Ever since he fired Brett Brown, Elton Brand has been telling everyone who asks that it will take several weeks to hire Brown's successor.

I spent the past few days polling a handful of currently powerless NBA lifers about the coaching vacancy. The consensus: It's a bad job, with a structureless organization. You would work in a brutally demanding town that, after seven years of Processing, itches for validation, but, after seven years of mismanagement, is years (and several catastrophic contracts) away from attainting real relevance.

1150 by Marcus Hayes in Philadelphia. MOVED


^Bill Plaschke: Clippers Curse claims yet another postseason<

^BKN-PLASCHKE-COLUMN:LA—<The Clipper Curse lives.

The hex that has haunted this team since it arrived unwanted and unloved in Los Angeles 35 years ago rose up again Tuesday night with its most chilling ramifications yet.

The monumental Hallway Series is dead, and the Clipper Curse killed it.

The historic NBA Western Conference finals playoff battle between the Lakers and Clippers is over before it started because the Clipper Curse got there first.

1200 by Bill Plaschke. MOVED


^Dan Woike: Time could be running out for Clippers and Kawhi Leonard<

BKN-WOIKE-COLUMN:LA — Doc Rivers left the NBA bubble with the kind of limp that's a receipt for nearly 26,000 minutes of NBA basketball played on his legs. A 3-1 playoff series lead turned into a punchline for the second time in five years, and disbelief filled his lungs.

He marveled at Denver's togetherness, and regretted his team didn't have it.

"They kept playing. They never stopped. They just kept playing," he said. "And when things got bad for us, we stopped trusting. Man I urged them — keep trusting. And in the heat of the moment, everyone wanted to make the play instead of trusting each other."

1050 by Dan Woike in Orlando, Fla. MOVED


^Kristian Winfield: The Nuggets are on top of the world and the Clippers have hit rock bottom<


The Denver Nuggets upset the Los Angeles Clippers Tuesday night. The Nuggets came back from being down 3-1 to punch their ticket to the Western Conference finals. The Nuggets will now prepare for a date with LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers — the Clippers are on a date with the sea, because they've gone fishing.

900 by Kristian Winfield. MOVED


^NBA teams that keep focused on their game thriving in the bubble<

BKN-BUBBLE-TEAMS:LA — In the hallways outside the convention center ballroom that the NBA has turned into a practice court, Boston coach Brad Stevens swatted away a question like he was Bam Adebayo waiting for Jayson Tatum.

Down 1-0 to Miami, the reporter wondered, could his young core of Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart play with even more confidence knowing that they had been tested in meaningful playoff games long before the birth of this bubble.

"I think that all that stuff is helpful but you know, when the ball tips off tomorrow, probably meaningless. You've just got to play well tomorrow," he said dryly.

750 by Dan Woike in Orlando, Fla. MOVED


^Dwight Howard keeps his focus on the best way to help Lakers win the title<

^BKN-LAKERS-HOWARD:LA—<As the NBA bubble crystallized and teams began committing to going, the Los Angeles Lakers had two players who hesitated to join the team in Orlando, Florida. The first was Avery Bradley, who opted to stay home. The second was Dwight Howard, who eventually decided he would go into the bubble.

But it wasn't a decision made lightly, nor was it one without consequences.

650 by Tania Ganguli. MOVED



^Geoff Baker: Will the Kraken's on-ice debut be delayed? Chances are good.<

HKN-BAKER-COLUMN:SE — It's the thing nobody's really talking about during these Stanley Cup playoffs but that will certainly become a huge discussion next month.

We've all long assumed the Kraken will launch in October 2021 because October has been the NHL's opening month the past eight decades. But it's looking more likely the league could delay starting the 2021-22 season until November or December of next year.

Much depends on what happens during the coming 2020-21 campaign, which now could start in January after an initial Dec. 1 target.

1000 by Geoff Baker in Seattle. MOVED

^Sharks will make Bob Boughner their full-time coach, per report<

^HKN-SHARKS-BOUGHNER:SJ—<The Sharks will make Bob Boughner their full-time head coach in the near future, according to a published report.

Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic wrote Wednesday that Boughner would have the interim tag removed from his title in "the next week or two."

A Sharks spokesman said Wednesday morning that nothing is official. For months, though, all indications have been that Boughner, 49, would be named the ninth full-time head coach in Sharks history at some point.

550 by Curtis Pashelka. MOVED


^J. Brady McCollough: Pressure shifts to Pac-12 after Big Ten decides to play fall football<

FBC-MCCOLLOUGH-COLUMN:LA — Suddenly, the Pac-12 is all alone.

On Wednesday morning the Big Ten Conference — the Pac-12's companion in coronavirus caution during the last month as the three other Power Five conferences pushed on toward having a fall football season — made it official that the league has decided to reverse course and play games starting the Oct. 24 weekend.

On Aug. 11, the Big Ten announced it would postpone fall sports to 2021, only six days after releasing a full schedule that would kick off Sept. 3.

950 by J. Brady McCollough in Los Angeles. MOVED


^John Clay: The backtracking Big Ten is joining football's coronavirus chaos. Good luck.<

FBC-CLAY-COLUMN:LX — In the end, the Big Ten just couldn't stay away.

Spring football is out, fall football is back for our northern neighbors, who announced Wednesday they were reversing field on an Aug. 11 decision to bow to coronavirus concerns and instead would be starting their college football season on Oct. 23-24. Itinerary: Teams will play eight games in eight weeks. College Football Playoff here they come.

Welcome to the chaos, guys. After all, matters have gone just swimmingly for the ones already playing ball or preparing to play, right? Just a mere 75 players at Texas Tech have tested positive for COVID-19.

650 by John Clay in Lexington, Ky. MOVED


^Michigan quarterback Dylan McCaffrey to opt out of season, seek transfer<

^FBC-MICHIGAN-MCCAFFREY:DTN—<Michigan quarterback Dylan McCaffrey is opting out of the upcoming season and is looking to transfer, a source close to the situation confirmed to The Detroit News on Wednesday.

This news comes on the heels of the Big Ten announcing it will start a nine-game season Oct. 23-24.

McCaffrey, who was competing for the starting job with Joe Milton and Cade McNamara, will graduate from Michigan in December and have two years of eligibility remaining.

He is not the only Michigan player who has opted out. Receiver Nico Collins, who returned to play his final season rather than head to the NFL draft after the bowl game earlier this year, reportedly has signed with an agent.

400 by Angelique S. Chengelis. MOVED


^Calif. Gov. Newsom says state guidelines aren't preventing Pac-12 from playing football<

^FBC-USC-NEWSOM:LA—<A day after USC football players made their public plea for California state officials to loosen restrictions and let them play, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared there's nothing in the state's guidelines that's stopping them.

"I want to make this crystal clear," Newsom said. "Nothing in the state guidelines denies the ability for the Pac-12 to resume. Quite the contrary. That's been a misrepresentation of the facts."

150 by Ryan Kartje in Los Angeles. MOVED


^Shannon Ryan: The Big Ten will have to walk a dangerous tightrope to pull off a football season. And even if it trips up, will anyone care?<

^FBC- RYAN-COLUMN:TB—<The Big Ten announced Wednesday that football will resume this fall. Let's look at the state of life on those campuses.

Ohio State suspended more than 200 students for partying before classes started, breaking COVID-19 restrictions. At least 342 cases at Michigan State prompted a health department recommendation for students to self-quarantine. Wisconsin students are in a two-week lockdown, and classes moved online.

Northwestern decided conditions were too unsafe to allow freshmen and sophomores to live on campus. Penn State and Iowa are among the schools to report more than 1,000 cases.

Knowing this reality on Big Ten campuses, the conference's university presidents and chancellors still decided to reverse course and proceed with a fall football schedule.

After all, what is reality?

900 by Shannon Ryan. MOVED



^U.S. Open title, No. 1 ranking at stake at Winged Foot<

GLF-USOPEN-PREVIEW:ND — Five different players have held the No. 1 world ranking in golf over the past year, and since the PGA Tour re-started in June after a three-month pause because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the trio of Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas has been utterly dominant.

That doesn't figure to change when that long-hitting trio leads a 144-man field into the 120th U.S. Open Thursday at brutally tough Winged Foot Golf Club.

Johnson currently is No. 1 after three wins during the re-start earned him player of the year honors, Rahm is No. 2 after winning twice since the re-start, and Thomas is No. 3 with one win since June.

650 by Greg Logan in Mamaroneck, N.Y. MOVED

^With major drought looming, Rory McIlroy hoping to get faster start at this U.S. Open<

GLF-USOPEN-MCILROY:ND — There was a time when Rory McIlroy fit the bill as the "next Tiger Woods." He was a long-hitting prodigy from Northern Ireland who won four of the first 20 major championships he played, including his first major at the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional, where he was a record 16 under par.

But even though McIlroy was player of the year in 2019 when his victories included a Players Championship, he lost the No. 1 world ranking earlier this year, and his play his been mediocre since the PGA restart in June. He arrives at Winged Foot Golf Club for the 120th U.S. Open that begins Thursday mired in a 0-for-20 drought in major championships.

350 by Greg Logan in Mamaroneck, N.Y. MOVED


^Candace Parker revolutionized basketball, but she's not done<

^BKL-SPARKS-PARKER:LA—<It started to sink in at home. Candace Parker was at the crescendo of her career: two high school state titles in Illinois, two college national championships at Tennessee; finally her first WNBA championship.

The height of her success also came during a year of significant heartbreak: the loss of her legendary college coach Pat Summitt, to whom she tearfully dedicated the long-awaited title, and a controversial snub from the 2016 Olympic team.

It weighed on the Sparks star forward after she returned to L.A. from Minnesota, where she was named Finals MVP of an epic five-game series against the Lynx. She was exhausted. She was happy.

She wasn't content.

1350 by Thuc Nhi Nguyen. MOVED



^Dennis Anderson: Modern Carnivore aims to get non-hunters to embrace hunting<

^OTD-ANDERSON-COLUMN:MS—< Attempts to get a handle on the many ways and the speed at which the world is changing is a bit like trying to grab smoke: You can see it, but you can't quite get hold of it.

So it is also with hunting.

In some quarters, the world's oldest "sport" is immutable, providing as it always has opportunities for individuals to immerse themselves in oftentimes physically demanding natural environments while employing a wide range of skills that lead to unpredictable but ultimately self-satisfying conclusions.

850 by Dennis Anderson in Minneapolis. MOVED


^Ruffed Grouse Society project would improve Minnesota's degrading hunter walking trails<

OTD-MINN-HUNTER-TRAILS:MS — Nonmotorized hunter walking trails would receive overdue upgrades as part of a new initiative proposed by the Ruffed Grouse Society.

The $300,000 program — part of a much larger package of outdoors projects recommended for funding this year with state lottery proceeds — is designed to address what the conservation group has described as a "generally degraded system."

Fixing up 120 existing trailheads with signage, gates, parking and other infrastructure improvements would better -serve upland hunters, birders and hikers, according to the proposal. Grouse season opens Sept. 19 this year and wildlife officials are hoping for a turnaround in participation.

700 by Tony Kennedy in Minneapolis. MOVED


^Minnesota pheasant outlook much improved<

MINN-PHEASANT-NUMBERS:MS — Minnesota's pheasant population flourished this year amid favorable weather conditions and increased habitat, a breakthrough that should be noticeable to ringneck hunters when the season opens Oct. 10.

The state's wildlife populations and research group in Madelia reported Tuesday, Sept. 8, that the 2020 range-wide pheasant index grew 42% from a year ago. Researchers completed the roadside survey during the first couple of weeks in August, driving 153 25-mile routes. Collectively they counted 53.5 birds per 100 miles of road. The same survey last year yielded a range-wide count of 37.6 birds per 100 miles.

"Hunting opportunities should be excellent throughout the farmland region in 2020," the Department of Natural Resources said in a news release.

300 by Tony Kennedy in Minneapolis. MOVED


^Dennis Anderson: 2020 is a year for the birds in Minnesota, as pheasants shine<

^OTD-ANDERSON-COLUMN-PHEASANTS:MS—<So maybe with historical perspective 2020 isn't as bad as we think — except that hurricane season hasn't yet ended, the West Coast is very much on fire, the COVID-19 pandemic is still in play, and in 50 days we'll have a no-holds-barred grudge match otherwise known as a presidential election.

Yet, amid this havoc, good news surfaced last week when the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced that the state's pheasant population, measured by its August roadside counts, jumped some 42% from last year.

More impressive, ringneck numbers in the state's southwest corner rocketed skyward 146% compared with a year ago.

850 by Dennis Anderson in Minneapolis. MOVED


^Duluth is nighthawk capital of world 2 weeks each year<

OTD-DULUTH-NIGHTHAWKS:DU — Over the last two weeks in August every year, Steve Kolbe climbs onto the roof of an apartment building in eastern Duluth and stares at the sky.

He's up there for only a few hours each evening, from 5 p.m. to sunset, but what he sees is often unparalleled in the world of bird migration: hundreds or even thousands of nighthawks flying south.

"I don't consider a real 'flight' until it hits 1,000 in an evening, and that happens fairly often," said Kolbe, a researcher at the Natural Resources Research Institute of the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Kolbe's top evening this year, Aug. 24, saw an estimated 20,000 nighthawks.

800 by John Myers in Duluth, Minn.

^Missouri researchers hope putting 'backpacks' on wild turkeys can help explain population declines<

OTD-MO-WILDTURKEYS:SL — Missouri officials and university researchers, worried the state's wild turkey population is on the edge of calamity, are embarking on an extensive study of the fowl, even preparing to track the birds with GPS "backpacks."

Missouri turkeys were once a species on the rebound. But over the last several years scientists have seen signs of a pronounced decline: They're counting fewer young turkeys in the state's forests and fields. And that tally, nosediving toward record lows, is falling faster than experts predict, sagging inexplicably short of official forecasts that had proven reliable for decades.

750 by Bryce Gray in St. Louis. MOVED


^Best times for anglers<



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