Bob Watson, a two-time All-Star as a player who later became the first black general manager to win a World Series with the New York Yankees in 1996, has died at 74.
The Houston Astros, for whom Watson played his first 14 major league seasons, announced the death Thursday night. Watson's son Keith said he died from kidney disease. Watson was nicknamed "The Bull" and made the All-Star team in 1973 and '75, hit over .300 four times and drove in at least 100 runs twice. He also holds the distinction of scoring the 1 millionth run in major league history.
In other MLB news, players want to look at the owners' books. A person familiar with the request told The Associated Press that lawyers for the baseball players' union asked MLB to submit a slew of financial documents that detail the industry's finances. Baseball owners on Monday approved a proposal that could lead to the coronavirus-delayed season starting around the Fourth of July with a regular-season schedule of about 82 games. Owners also gave the go-ahead to propose basing players' salaries on a 50-50 revenue split, which the union says is a salary cap and a framework that players will never accept. Rays ace Blake Snell says he won't take the mound this year if his pay is cut further.
Former major league manager and infielder Art Howe is in intensive care in a Houston hospital with the coronavirus. The 73-year-old Howe confirmed to Houston TV station KPRC 2 Thursday night that he has been dealing with the illness since first feeling symptoms of COVID-19 on May 3. Howe is best known as the manager of the "Moneyball" Oakland Athletics playoff teams in the late 1990s and early 2000s, winning 600 games over seven seasons. He also managed the Astros and Mets before ending his managerial career 1,129-1,137.
The Cincinnati Reds are laying off less than 25% of their staff and reducing pay for others on June 1 in response to the pandemic. Cincinnati was among the majority of teams that committed to paying full-time employees through May. The move comes a day after The Associated Press was told the Miami Marlins are furloughing 90 to 100 baseball operations employees beginning June 1.
Authorities say police in South Florida are trying to find New York Giants cornerback DeAndre Baker and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar after multiple witnesses accused them of an armed robbery at a party. Miramar police issued arrest warrants for both men Thursday on four counts each of armed robbery with a firearm. Baker faces an additional four counts of aggravated assault with a firearm. The warrant says Baker and Dunbar were attending a cookout at a Miramar home Wednesday night when a fight broke out, causing Baker to pull out a handgun.
It will be a summer in the South for NASCAR. The stock car series says it will stick to Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, Florida and Alabama for June races, all without fans. NASCAR has now set plans for 20 races, including nine in the elite Cup Series. It is coming back after being shut down for more than two months by the pandemic. The Cup Series resumes this Sunday at Darlington Raceway and run four times in 11 days at the South Carolina track and at Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina. Then NASCAR will go to Bristol, Martinsville, Atlanta, Homestead and Talladega.
Brad Keselowski has won the pole for Sunday's race at Darlington Raceway without burning an ounce of fuel. The Team Penske driver watched NASCAR's chief scorer Kyle McKinney finally pluck the No. 1 ball out of a random draw, giving the 2012 series champion the top starting position when the Cup season resumes. Keselowski will be joined on the front row by Alex Bowman of Hendrick Motorsports. Matt DiBenedetto, Kyle Busch and Aric Almirola close out the top five starting spots. Series officials split the drivers into three groups of 12 based on points, filling spots 1-12, 13-24 and 25-36 with a random draw.
The Arizona Coyotes confirmed Thursday that they are parting ways with president and CEO Ahron Cohen. Cohen has been with the Coyotes since being hired in 2015 as chief operating officer and chief legal officer by previous owner Andrew Barroway. Cohen was named president and CEO in 2017 after Steve Patterson stepped back to serve as a consultant and adviser after a year on the job. The Coyotes were still in contention for a Western Conference playoff spot when the NHL season was put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Penguins forward Dominik Simon is out six to seventh months after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. Simon initially hurt the shoulder in a loss to the San Jose Sharks on Feb. 29 and underwent surgery on April 29. The procedure would preclude Simon from returning if the 2019-2020 NHL season resumes. The league is currently on "pause" due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 25-year-old Simon had seven goals and 15 assists in 64 games this season for Pittsburgh.
The IOC has set aside $800 million for loans and payments arising from the pandemic that forced the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to be postponed. It is still unclear how big the total postponement bill will be with Olympic organizers and public authorities in Japan facing extra costs estimated to run into billions for the one-year postponement. A sum of $150 million is for loans to sports governing bodies and more than 200 eligible national Olympic committees. The IOC is working on how to allocate the other $650 million.
FIBA says the final four men's basketball spots in the 12-nation field for the Tokyo Olympics will be decided next summer. FIBA has pushed back the dates for the four remaining qualifying tournaments to June 29 through July 4, 2021, meaning they would end 19 days before the rescheduled start of the delayed Tokyo Olympics. But it remains unclear if those final spots will be earned while an NBA season is happening or if NBA players will be able to take part.
The president of the World Baseball Softball Confederation is making one final pitch to Major League Baseball to send its top stars to the Tokyo Olympics. Riccardo Fraccari sees the one-year postponement of the games as a new opportunity for MLB. He tells The Associated Press that because of the damages from the coronavirus "baseball needs the Olympics now more than ever to boost the sport's globalization, expansion and mass appeal." MLB and its players' association have so far only agreed to allow players not on 26-man active rosters or injured lists to take part in Olympic qualifying.
The PGA Tour Champions has decided to combine 2020 and 2021 into one season. Tour president Miller Brady says combining two seasons into one is the best solution. The 50-and-older circuit already has canceled eight tournaments because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The tour is scheduled to resume with the Ally Challenge in Michigan on July 31. That would be the first of 13 events remaining this year, barring any delays. The PGA Tour Champions already has lost two majors, the U.S. Senior Open and the Senior PGA Championship, and is waiting to hear the fate of the Senior British Open.
ACC commissioner John Swofford says the league expects to distribute 98% of its projected revenues to member schools for this school year despite the shutdown of college sports amid the coronavirus pandemic. The NCAA announced in March that it would distribute $225 million in June to 350 Division I schools after the cancellation of its men's basketball tournament, much less than the original plan of $600 million. But Swofford said the league has offset some losses in savings for canceled championship events as well as less travel and other expenses.
Major League Soccer is extending a league-wide moratorium on group and team training through June 1. Players are permitted to use outdoor team training fields for voluntary individual workouts, in compliance with local health authorities and government orders that were created in consultation with medical and infectious disease experts. Team training facilities remain closed to all players except those requiring medical treatment or rehabilitation.
The English Premier League has received government backing to resume next month if games become more accessible to fans and the world's richest soccer competition provides financial support across the English game. The top division is the most advanced in its planning to restart amid concerns the three other professional football leagues in England could lack the funding to resume without ticket revenue from supporters. Mass gatherings are still banned and fans are not allowed to attend sports events.
The Italian soccer federation has set up a pool of inspectors to check that teams comply with new health protocols and government decrees issued during the coronavirus pandemic. Serie A teams were permitted to resume individual training on May 4 while full team training can restart Monday. Lazio has reportedly already been training in groups of three players. The federation says inspectors will verify that practices are held according to the rules. The league said on Wednesday that it hopes to resume playing games on June 13 but the government has not approved a restart yet.
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