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Nationals’ spring facility latest sports venue to be repurposed in response to pandemic

Sports venues are an emerging asset in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. From staging grounds to drive-thru testing facilities to makeshift hospitals, the once-empty stadiums have become a bustle of activity again.

The Washington Nationals’ spring facility in West Palm Beach, Florida, is the latest to be turned into a testing area. For now, there will be medical personnel in the parking lots instead of players.

“Our [spring] complex is being used as a coronavirus testing site until further notice,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Monday. “So we’re going to shut it down to all players and staff completely while the county and National Guard use it for testing.”

“The news of probably the week is that we’ve totally closed the facility here in West Palm Beach,” Rizzo said.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Scenarios like the one there are playing out all over the country.8

Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, FedEx Field in Washington and Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, are just a few of the others that have been turned into testing centers. The US Army Corp of Engineers, along with FEMA, have agreed to deploy a military field hospital at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field Event Center, and a soccer field in Seattle is building its own makeshift hospital as well.

The United Center in Chicago became a staging area last week.

“As Illinois goes through this together, the United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks, is proud to be playing a critical role with our city, state and federal response to the pandemic,” the Center said in a statement. “Our arena and outside campus will be transformed into a logistics hub where we will be assisting front-line food distribution, first-responder staging and the collection of critically needed medical supplies.”

Stadium personnel say their wish is that their venues remain mostly testing centers and not makeshift hospitals — or even morgues; those scenarios would mean the situation across the country had become much worse. For now, and for the foreseeable future, sports stadiums have a new purpose, with team owners pitching in wherever they’re able.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

The Jacksonville Jaguars’ TIAA Bank Field has been operating as a drive-thru coronavirus testing site since March 21.

“The Jaguars … are glad to do everything we can to assist the federal government and local health care workers in offering a testing site outside of TIAA Bank Field,” Jaguars senior VP of communications Dan Edwards said. “Right now, there’s no better use for this venue than caring for the people of Northeast Florida.”

It’s a sentiment being echoed from coast to coast, while more facilities are folded into the fight against the coronavirus.

Harry Kane won’t stay at Tottenham ‘just for the sake of it’

Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane said on Sunday that he could leave the Premier League club if the team does not progress in the right direction as he wants to win trophies “sooner rather than later.”

Kane has scored 181 goals for Spurs in all competitions — averaging 30 goals a season since his breakthrough into the starting lineup in 2014 — but he is yet to win a trophy with the London club.

The England striker signed a six-year contract extension in 2018 that would keep him at Spurs until 2024 but admitted in an Instagram Q&A with Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp that he could not guarantee he would stay if the club was not successful.

“I’ll always love Spurs, but it’s one of them things. I’ve always said if I don’t feel like we’re progressing as a team or going in the right direction, I’m not someone to stay there just for the sake of it,” Kane said.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

“I’m an ambitious player, I want to improve and become better. I want to become a top, top player, so it all depends on what happens as a team and how we progress as a team.8

“So, it’s not a definite ‘I’m going to stay there forever’ but it’s not a no either.”

The closest Kane has come to winning a trophy was in the League Cup final in 2015 and the Champions League final last season, with Spurs losing to Chelsea and Liverpool, respectively.

The England striker signed a six-year contract extension in 2018 that would keep him at Spurs until 2024 but admitted in an Instagram Q&A with Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp that he could not guarantee he would stay if the club was not successful.

“I’ll always love Spurs, but it’s one of them things. I’ve always said if I don’t feel like we’re progressing as a team or going in the right direction, I’m not someone to stay there just for the sake of it,” Kane said.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

“I’m an ambitious player, I want to improve and become better. I want to become a top, top player, so it all depends on what happens as a team and how we progress as a team.

“So, it’s not a definite ‘I’m going to stay there forever’ but it’s not a no either.”

The closest Kane has come to winning a trophy was in the League Cup final in 2015 and the Champions League final last season, with Spurs losing to Chelsea and Liverpool, respectively.

TE Jimmy Graham responds to critics of Bears’ move: ‘I’m still fast’

The Bears’ decision to sign veteran tight end Jimmy Graham to a two-year contract that included $9 million guaranteed and a no-trade clause — on the heels of him being released by division rival Green Bay — was arguably the most universally panned move in free agency, but Graham insisted on Thursday that he still can perform at an elite level.cheap wholesale nike nfl jerseys

“I’m still fast. … I still have the ability to make big plays,” Graham said during a conference call with Chicago media.

A third-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in the 2010 NFL draft, Graham quickly emerged as the game’s most feared pass-catching tight end, earning a trip to the Pro Bowl in just his second season (2011) with 99 receptions, 1,310 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. Graham, 33, would eventually be named to five Pro Bowls over stints with New Orleans (2010-14) and Seattle (2015-17) before agreeing a free-agent deal with Green Bay in 2018.
Green Bay released Graham on March 12.6

“Obviously, it was a tough pill to swallow,” Graham said. “It was the first time I lost my job. And I work extremely hard. I’ve sacrificed everything for this game. I’ve given it everything I have, and obviously to go through that, it was difficult. Now I have the opportunity to win a bunch of games this year and I’m very grateful for that, and I’m obviously grateful for the opportunity and the friendships I did make just up north there. But for me, it’s lit a fire.

“I know what player I am and I know what I can do. I think I was able to show a little bit of that in the playoffs with some of the opportunities I was given. And after being 10 years in, I’ve only missed six games. That’s coming off of, at times, all kinds of injuries … at times I’ve kind of been on ice the last two years, so my knee right now is the best it’s felt in four or five years. This is the best that I’ve ran, this is the fastest I’ve been in the last four or five years. I’m going to get back to being me. I’m going to get back to making big plays and scoring touchdowns because I think I’m somewhere in the top of scoring touchdowns and I want to continue that. I want to continue climbing that list and get to where I’m supposed to be.”

Chicago had the NFL’s least productive group of tight ends in 2019. The Bears did not have a tight end reach 100 receiving yards — J.P. Holtz led the team with 91 — or 15 receptions as Chicago, overall, ranked near the bottom in total offense, points scored, rushing offense and passing offense.cheap new nike nfl jerseys

Graham joins a tight end room that includes often-injured Trey Burton (guaranteed $6.7 million in 2020), 2017 second-round pick Adam Shaheen (26 career catches for 249 yards), Ben Braunecker and veteran Demetrius Harris, whom Chicago added in February.

The Bears are also in the midst of a quarterback competition. Chicago traded a fourth-round compensatory draft pick to Jacksonville for veteran quarterback Nick Foles, who is expected to challenge 2017 second overall pick Mitchell Trubisky for the starting job.

Rockies’ Bud Black open to doubleheaders when MLB returns

Let’s play two? Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black would be down for doubleheaders.

Maybe even a couple a week.

That might be a necessity to make up games once a baseball season delayed by the new coronavirus gets under way.

“In theory, yeah, I think all of us would be up for some sort of doubleheader situation,” Black said during a conference call Thursday. “The thing that’s going to be in front of all of us is it’s going to be the same for everybody. It’s got to make sense for the clubs and the players.”

Opening Day has been pushed back from March 26 to mid-May at the earliest, and both sides are committed to playing as many games as possible.

Translation: Doubleheaders could be on the docket.7

“I know that when we’re able to safely play, we’re going to have to think of creative ways to get in as many games as possible given all the time that’s going to be lost,” said Farhan Zaidi, the president of baseball operations for the San Francisco Giants. “I don’t really have any specific thoughts on that, but I know everybody’s going to be thinking through ways to do that.”cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

More than anything, Black wants his players to treat this time away like it’s December and the season is still in the distance.

Don’t ramp up.

Black said when a timetable is known, the teams will be given approximately three weeks to get back in shape as part of a second spring training. That’s plenty of time for a starting pitcher to work his way into form.

“There’s no need to throw bullpens. We’re a ways away from that,” Black said.

Hit in a cage — if one’s available. Work out at their gym at home. Or play catch — with social distancing in mind.

“They get together and go to a local park, they go to a high school, they go somewhere where there’s a stretch of grass and they play catch,” Black said. “They’re not going to play closer than six feet together, right? You can play catch.

“Guys are on the down low. They’re probably not doing much baseball activity right now. There’s a sense this is going to be much longer than first anticipated by baseball.”nfl cheap jerseys nike

Opening Day would have been next week. That’s hard for Black to fathom in light of what’s happening around the world.

“I miss the build-up to opening day. I miss what that’s all about. I love our sport. I love the people in it,” Black said. “I’m probably as practical as they come and a realist, and aware of what’s going on and that takes a precedence over our sport and our jobs.”

Ty Jerome’s Suns scorch Josh Okogie’s Timberwolves in NBA 2K

With the NBA season suspended because of the coronavirus, Phoenix Suns shooting guard Ty Jerome and Minnesota Timberwolves small forward Josh Okogie got their basketball fix in another way Wednesday: NBA 2K.

With Jerome manning the controller for the Suns and Okogie on the sticks for the Wolves, Phoenix beat Minnesota 93-63, with Devin Booker’s 29 points leading the way.

“It’s fun,” Jerome told ESPN. “We can’t really interact with the fans right now, so to find different ways to interact with them, it’s fun. It’s definitely entertaining for me, and I hope it is for them, too.”

This was the second simulated regular-season game presented by the Suns, who broadcast the game on their Twitch channel and on Twitter. Combined, viewership steadily climbed each quarter, consistently in the vicinity of 15,000-20,000 viewers. All signs point to the team continuing to play out regular-season games on NBA 2K, perhaps with a revolving cast at the helm.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

On Wednesday afternoon, before the Suns’ game on the virtual court, Jerome, along with former Virginia teammate and current Atlanta Hawks player De’Andre Hunter and the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Dylan Windler, played Fortnite on a stream. Jerome and Hunter played on Virginia’s 2019 NCAA championship team.8

Gaming has seemingly become the primary pastime for many athletes whose seasons are on hiatus. Meyers Leonard has been playing Call of Duty Modern Warfare’s new mode Warzone, and Booker has also been streaming Warzone on his Twitch account. Even Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic has been asking Twitter for tips on how to put together a streaming setup.

When asked how playing as the Suns in the game felt in comparison to the team on the court, Jerome offered some insight.

“It’s really different,” Jerome said. “We fed off [Booker], [Ricky Rubio] had six assists, so that’s normal. They don’t give Deandre Ayton enough credit for finishing on the rim, he was missing a bunch of layups. So certain things are realistic, but it’s a video game, so it’s never going to be perfect.”

Jerome has his own Twitch channel, on which he has streamed Fortnite.nfl cheap jerseys nike

Jerome said although he started playing video games in middle school, he’s using it mostly as a way to be social with friends and interact with fans in chat. When asked whether he would like to be invited to charity video game tournaments and perhaps a Fortnite pro-am, he smiled and said: “I don’t know if I’d be able to compete at that level in Fortnite, but I’m definitely down to go meet the streamers, meet different people. That would be cool.”

Football’s coronavirus void makes you appreciate every moment of the game

The last professional football we watched together, before the coronavirus emptied the streets and the stadiums, was the 70th minute of Liverpool’s home leg against Atletico Madrid last Wednesday in the Champions League. The Reds were up 1-0 when my son Sam and I had to leave for his indoor footy final. We turned off the TV, the screen went black, and Sammy grabbed his boots, out the door.

He’s 12 years old and plays; I’m 46 and coach. Our Team Navy had won the league and now faced our archrivals, Team Purple. I felt like we were going to win. Sam was less certain. He warned me on the drive that he might cry if we lost, and I couldn’t be mad if he did.

By the time we took to the turf, my phone informed me that Liverpool were up 2-0 in extra time, and I relayed the score to Sam. He’s been Liverpool for most of his young life, his first season as a genuine fan having ended with Steven Gerrard’s slip. There would be no falling short this year.nike jerseys nfl cheap1

Sam played the way a storm eats the shore. He scored two quick goals to give us our own 2-0 lead. “Let’s go!” he shouted, pumping his little fists. His feet barely touched the ground.cheap official nike nfl jerseys

Football had lifted us to the happy heights it has always taken my beautiful boy and me. It is our principal shared experience. I play and coach and write about it. Sam plays and talks and dreams about it. We know each other so well, we love each other so well, in part because we know and love the same thing outside of ourselves.

But then Team Purple came on. I felt helpless to stop them. All our kids tried. We just couldn’t hold them back. In minutes, our 2-0 lead turned into a 5-3 loss.

After, we elbow-bumped the victors rather than shaking their hands, a small concession to the bug that was surely about to run its minimal course. I gave out silver medals and told Team Navy’s boys and girls how much I had loved watching them play. More elbow bumps, except for Sam. He came in for a hug.

Then I checked my phone again, and Liverpool had also lost somehow, 3-2, a reality almost too strange to digest in the minutes before our entire reality became an impossible fiction. I showed Sam, and now he came in for another hug. It had been a very bad hour for the family business.

Sam left the arena with his mum. I had another game there later that night, this time as a player, old even among other old men, and I sat in the quiet and waited for it to begin. I had no idea what was coming. None of us did. By Friday, everything would be stopped.

Jazz’s Rudy Gobert donates $500K to part-time worker fund, virus relief

The Utah Jazz announced Saturday afternoon that All-Star center Rudy Gobert is donating $500,000 to support both the employee relief fund at Vivint Smart Home Arena and coronavirus-related social services relief in Utah, Oklahoma City and within the health care system in his native France.

Gobert, 27, became the first NBA player to test positive for the coronavirus shortly before tipoff of Wednesday’s game in Oklahoma City against the Thunder. A short time later, the game was postponed, and within hours the NBA had suspended its season for a minimum of 30 days.nike nfl cheap jerseys

“I know there are countless ways that people have been impacted. These donations are a small token that reflect my appreciation and support for all those impacted and are the first of many steps I will take to try and make a positive difference, while continuing to learn more about COVID-19 and educate others.”

Gobert and teammate Donovan Mitchell were the first two players who were publicly known to have tested positive for the virus; Christian Wood, whose Detroit Pistons team hosted Utah on March 7, has since also tested positive, a league source told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Saturday.8

Teams that played the Jazz recently — also including the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics — were expected to self-isolate through at least this weekend, while the Toronto Raptors — the last team to play Utah Monday in Salt Lake City — had their entire travel party tested Wednesday night and into the early hours of Thursday morning, with all of the tests coming back negative.

Gobert’s donation will be split in the following ways: $200,000 going to part-time employees at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah’s home arena; $100,000 each to families in Utah and Oklahoma City affected by the coronavirus; and €100,000 to the health care system in France.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

Mitchell, 23, spoke out publicly from self-isolation for the first time earlier Saturday, and said he continues to feel all right.

“What’s up everybody? Donovan Mitchell here. Just wanted to say thank you to everybody for your continued support, man. It means a lot to me,” Mitchell said in a video released on the NBA’s Twitter account.

“I feel fine. Things are going well. I’m just taking the proper precautions, as told to me by the health authorities. I have to stay in isolation. So I’m solo in here, playing video games all day. I can’t wait to get back out on the floor in front of the best fans in the world. I really miss playing in front of you guys, and I’ll see you guys soon.”

Will Tom Brady match Jason Hanson’s record of 21 seasons with same team?

“I did know it. Nobody cares that I have the record, but now that Tom is close — and ESPN puts it up there — I have friends who take screenshots and they send it to me. And they remind me that I’m about to fade into obscurity,” he joked in a phone interview. “So I’m taking all the accolades for it while it lasts.”

Hanson kicked for the Lions from 1992 to 2012, and his name appears atop a graphic that has been shown on various ESPN shows in recent weeks. It’s Hanson and then Brady (20, Patriots), Darrell Green (20, Redskins) and Jackie Slater (20, Rams).nfl nike jerseys for cheap

The 49-year-old Hanson is having some humble fun with it, noting there is a significant difference between kicking 21 seasons for the same team and playing quarterback for one franchise over that span.7

“Obviously, if and when he does that, he will be the focus of that record. And he could go beyond it,” he said.

But there is no guarantee Brady will be back in New England, as other NFL teams can negotiate with his agents starting Monday at 12 p.m. ET (assuming the league does not adjust its offseason schedule because of the coronavirus). The official start of free agency is scheduled for 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Hanson never reached the point where he seriously considered leaving the Lions. The 49-year-old is married with three children, and he still lives in the Detroit area.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

“I always appreciated it in the sense of the family. To be part of one organization and one community, and to really have that stability for them — in life, and connections, and friends — that’s something you don’t get in professional sports, and we had it,” he said.
“For the first half of my career, to two-thirds, it was always ‘I want to just stay here, they wanted me, and we got contracts done early.’ Maybe towards the end, if there was any thought of doing it, I kind of switched into the mode of, ‘As long as they want me, I want to be here.’ Obviously we struggled as an organization. I thought it would be great to be part of something that was getting it right, but that never happened. Then at the very end, I had played 21 years and had a few mild injuries, the organization was more like, ‘Let’s think about what we want to do here.’ And I was like ‘Do I want to keep playing?’

“So I retired. It never got to the point of intentionally pursuing another city and organization.”

Hanson doesn’t have a strong connection to Brady, with Brady’s college career at Michigan one of the primary ties between them. But Hanson said he references Brady during speaking events, which often shows his humorous side.

“He’s double-dipping in popularity where I am,” Hanson cracked. “He’s a double legend here.”

How Thierry Henry is trying to resurrect his coaching career in MLS

Thierry Henry is annoyed. He grimaces. He extends his hands for emphasis, palms to the sky. It is a look the world has seen before.

Since the start of a 20-year playing career that included spells at some of the world’s most important football clubs, Henry has held his teammates, the journalists who covered him, and even his managers to the highest standards. He has been quick to express frustration with anyone who wasn’t good enough, didn’t try hard enough or, once, who didn’t push in his chair after a news conference.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Whether he responded with a word or a gesture, it was never hard to tell what he was thinking. He packed an entire narrative into a turn of the hands, a roll of the eyes. “He could score an amazing goal,” says Dennis Bergkamp, who played alongside Henry at Arsenal, “and then a moment later he’d be angry with someone for not passing the ball correctly. That’s the way he was.”

Henry experienced exactly that disappointment with the New York Red Bulls, where he spent the final 4½ seasons of his career. In 2013, the Red Bulls amassed the best regular-season record in MLS. Then they immediately lost their home-and-home conference semifinal to bottom-seed Houston. It wasn’t fair, but it was the system. “Those are the rules,” he says.nfl nike jersey cheap

So too is the structure that allows teams to sleepwalk through the regular season and flip a switch when the playoffs start. Or worse, lose every game and show up the next year ready to play again, rather than getting relegated as in nearly every other league in the world.3

“What happens if you lose?” he asks. “Nothing! Nothing happens. You’re still in MLS, or the NBA, or NFL, or whatever. The rules allow you to just let it go. You shouldn’t let anything go. In Europe, it’s unacceptable. It would never happen. It shouldn’t happen.”

He sighs. “But you have to know where you are,” he says.

A little more than a year ago, Henry was in Monaco, ending a managerial stint that was as short — three months — as it was disappointing. He’s back in MLS now, trying to rehabilitate his reputation while managing with a distinctly different frame of reference. Henry won nearly everything a player can win, but the Impact have been the model of a mediocre franchise, with only three trips to the playoffs in eight MLS seasons, and seven head coaches during that time.

Henry’s task is clear. If he can do a credible job for a couple of years, he’ll put distance between Monaco and his next job. “It could take him back on the managerial ladder in Europe,” says Craig Burley, the former Scotland international and current ESPN commentator.

Christian Yelich stakes future to Brewers with $215M, 9-year deal

Making sure Christian Yelich was a Brewer for life while allowing the team some payroll flexibility were two factors in negotiations as Milwaukee officially announced its new nine-year deal for the former MVP on Friday.

The extension will almost assuredly keep Yelich, 28, from ever reaching free agency in his career.

“I made two decisions in my life that I felt were right at the time,” Yelich said at a news conference Friday announcing the deal. “Chances are I’m probably never going to see free agency. That’s just how my career went.”

Previously, Yelich had signed a long-term extension with the Miami Marlins before being traded to Milwaukee before the 2018 season. With the Brewers, he won the NL MVP in 2018 and finished second in the 2019 voting despite missing the final month of the season with an injury.buy nike nfl jerseys cheap

Yelich’s new deal will encompass the final two seasons of his previous contract and tack on seven more seasons. The total package is for $215 million and includes a no-trade clause and no opt-outs.

“This is what you call an ‘opt-in,'” Yelich’s agent Joe Longo quipped.6

The structure of the deal includes $4 million a year in deferrals in the seasons when his contract is maxed out at $26 million. In other words, the Brewers will never pay more than $22 million to Yelich in a season, allowing them the flexibility to build around him. The deferrals begin the year after the contract runs out.

“That was part of our discussions, internally,” Brewers general manager David Stearns said. “How can we make that happen? Knowing Christian is going to be here for the better part of a decade helps us plan and map out how we’re going to remain competitive for that time period. That was a priority of Christian’s.”

In signing the deal, which averages just less than $24 million, it’s possible Yelich left some money on the table. Several other elite stars, including Bryce Harper, Mike Trout and Nolan Arenado, have signed for more annually.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

“This is the place I wanted to play and to be,” Yelich said. “I realize I had three years before free agency, but above all else, I meant it when I said I wanted to finish my career as a Milwaukee Brewer. Not only that, but be part of winning teams as a Brewer.”

The sides began talking last Halloween when Longo and owner Mark Attanasio met for lunch. Yelich even attended two face-to-face sessions, including one during spring training as the sides closed in on a deal.

“With today’s agreement, Christian has the opportunity to further cement his legacy as one of the best players in Milwaukee baseball history,” Stearns said. “It’s very rare a player and his team’s identity become so intertwined in such a short period of time. It’s happened here.”