(TNS)

Tribune News Service

Sports Budget for Wednesday, September 16, 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.

^TOP STORIES<

^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

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^CORONAVIRUS<

^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

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^BASEBALL<

^Wednesday's games<

TNS expects coverage from the following games:

Washington at Tampa Bay, 1:10 p.m. EDT

Oakland at Colorado, 3:10 p.m.

LA Dodgers at San Diego, 4 p.m.

St. Louis at Milwaukee, 5:10 p.m.

Boston at Miami, 5:10 p.m.

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, 6:40 p.m.

NY Mets at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.

Toronto at NY Yankees, 7:05 p.m.

Kansas City at Detroit, 7:10 p.m.

Atlanta at Baltimore, 7:35 p.m.

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.

^NFL<

^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

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^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

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^NBA<

^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

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^NHL<

^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

^OUTDOORS<

^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

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^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

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^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

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^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

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^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

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^Best times for anglers<

^OTD-LUNAR:MCT—<100. MOVED

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