Tribune News Service

Sports Budget for Friday, May 22, 2020

Updated at 8 a.m. EDT (1200 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.


^A backboard, motorcycles and $560,000 shoes? 'The Last Dance' is over, but the consumer craze for Michael Jordan and the 1990s Bulls continues.<

BKN-LASTDANCE-MERCHANDISE-SPORTSPLUS:TB — "The Last Dance" docuseries aired its final episode on Sunday, but apparently that hasn't slowed the gold rush on Michael Jordan and 1990s Chicago Bulls items.

In fact, in the last few weeks, the appetite for all things Jordan has been building to a crescendo, with auctions setting records and apparel flying off shelves — well, "virtual" shelves in some cases with many areas of the country still under quarantine because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"The Last Dance" effect has rippled across consumer sectors like Jordan's series-winning last shot in the 1998 Finals rocked the NBA world.

1800 by Phil Thompson in Chicago. MOVED



^Michael Cunningham: 'Weird' empty stadiums alter the idea of home advantage<

CUNNINGHAM-COLUMN:AT — Word that the NBA still is considering Walt Disney World as a site for games made me think back to my days covering the NBA summer league in Orlando. The public wasn't invited, so spectators mostly included coaches, NBA front-office types and media. The lack of cheers or jeers made for an emotionally detached experience, more like a high-level pickup game than professional competition.

I get the same feeling watching live sports on TV now. There are no spectators because of the novel coronavirus. I welcome the entertainment, but the circumstances make me feel a strange kind of existential sports angst.

1000 by Michael Cunningham in Atlanta. MOVED


^Chris McCosky: Tigers' Daniel Norris has love-hate relationship with retaliatory pitching<

^BBA-MCCOSKY-COLUMN:DTN—< Thanks to a pandemic-induced furlough last week, I finally got around to reading my friend Danny Knobler's excellent book "Unwritten — Bat Flips, the Fun Police and Baseball's New Future," published by Triumph Books.

Good stuff throughout, but it was the chapters devoted to the unwritten codes about payback and pitcher retaliation that sent me back to a crazy day in Cleveland, Sept. 18, 2016, when Indians starter Trevor Bauer drilled three Tigers — including Ian Kinsler in the head — in the first three innings.

1250 by Chris McCosky in Detroit. MOVED


^Vahe Gregorian: In postseason of epic Royal comebacks, none were more poignant than Edinson Volquez's<

BBA-GREGORIAN-COLUMN:KC — Amid the ongoing pandemonium at Citi Field in the wee hours of Nov. 2, 2015, the embodiment of the most resilient team in Major League Baseball playoff history stood radiant near the pitcher's mound.

That mound had become hallowed ground for Royals pitcher Edinson Volquez, who had used his spikes to subtly etch his father's initials into it.

As he had worked from there hours before, he felt a mystical sense of being looked over himself by a "lot of energy coming from the dirt, from the grass, all the way to your head."

1600 by Vahe Gregorian in Kansas City, Mo. MOVED



^Marcus Hayes: Former Eagles exec, NFL trailblazer John Wooten loves new Rooney Rule and divulges a new twist<

FBN-HAYES-COLUMN:PH — One of the men who spearheaded diversity in the NFL is delighted that the league strengthened its mandate to diversify in the face of regression by requiring teams to interview more outside candidates for top jobs on the sidelines and in the front office. He's also pleased that a scheme collapsed that would reward teams with better draft positions when they hired and retained minority head coaches.

But John Wooten is not satisfied; and, as usual, he's got a better idea, and it's rooted in the basic problem: There are not enough qualified coordinators. So: Incentivize the process.

1450 by Marcus Hayes in Philadelphia. MOVED



^Joe Starkey: Penguins-Canadiens? Sounds great, as does imperfect NHL postseason.<

HKN-STARKEY-COLUMN:PG — First, let's dispense with the notion that 24 teams is unwieldy, unfair, untenable or all of the above.

The NHL is strongly considering a 24-team playoff, which means 80% of the member clubs would be involved. Sounds like a lot — until you realize that when the Penguins won their first Stanley Cup in 1991, a full 76% of the teams (16 of 21) made the playoffs.

When they won it in '92, it was 73% (16 of 22).

It was pretty hard to miss the playoffs for teams in the Original Six, too. Four of six made it every year. After that, it was eight of 12. And so on.

So this isn't new.

700 by Joe Starkey in Pittsburgh. MOVED


^UConn's Kelly (Schumacher) Raimon took a winding path to a WNBA coaching job with the Liberty<

BKL-LIBERTY-RAIMON:HC — Kelly Raimon doesn't consider herself a tech-savvy person, but when her first job in the WNBA required her to master scouting software, there she was, teaching herself through YouTube videos, editing and splicing together scouting reports, even filling in once for the team's video coordinator.

Learning on the fly as she did in that position — development coach and advanced scout with the Chicago Sky — became crucial for Raimon (nee Schumacher), a national champion at UConn who played eight seasons in the WNBA, as she made her way back into basketball following a stint as a professional beach volleyball player.

1150 by Alexa Philippou in Hartford, Conn. MOVED



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