July 4 headlines across the sports world created fireworks day and night.
*Star pitcher David Price of the Los Angeles Dodgers announced on his Instagram page that he was opting out of the abbreviated 2020 MLB season because of concerns about the coronavirus.
Price is the biggest name in sports so far to sit out purely due to concern. Others have delayed returns from major injuries. Price's post said “it is in the best interest my health and my family’s health for me to not play this season.”
Additional MLB stars likely will follow suit, particularly well-paid veterans who can afford the luxury of skipping a season of income. Price will forgo a pro-rated salary of roughly $12 million.
*Also Saturday, it was announced that four-time All-Star Freddie Freeman was one of four Atlanta Braves to test positive for the coronavirus. Freeman, reliever Will Smith, pitcher Touki Toussaint and infielder Pete Kozma gave the team permission to disclose the results publicly.
The Braves are working out in Atlanta in preparation for the delayed MLB start later this month. Georgia has been hit hard state-wide by the virus in recent days. It reported 2,826 new cases Saturday, Georgia’s fourth straight day over 2.7K.
*Minnesota Twins slugger Miguel Sano also has tested positive. Sano, Willians Astudillo, Edwar Colina and Nick Gordon gave the Twins permission for public disclosure.
*Saturday evening, the New York Yankees announced that D.J. LeMahieu and Luis Cessa had tested positive. Each are self-isolating outside of New York, having received their results prior to traveling to camp.
*One day after American League Rookie of the Year Yordan Alvarez was noted as absent from practice for the Houston Astros, pitcher Jose Urquidy joined the list of league-mandated absences for the team. Those are presumptive positives until MLB figures out a better way to protect privacy.
*From the WNBA: Australian sensation Liz Cambage will sit out the abbreviated 2020 campaign. The Las Vegas Aces signed veteran center Avery Warley-Talbert on Saturday as a replacement. Cambage's opt-out is assumed to be the result of concern rather than a positive test result.
PLANNED RESTARTS HAVE FIRST POSTPONEMENT
Sports leagues are closely watching the efforts of Major League Soccer to launch its “MLS is Back” tournament. Opening day is Wednesday in the “World Cup-style” event, but there is already a covid-related postponement.
Thursday’s Group F opener featuring FC Dallas and Vancouver has been delayed indefinitely. Since arriving in Orlando, NINE players and a coach for FC Dallas have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Both teams will begin tournament play July 15 (Dallas vs. Seattle, Vancouver vs. San Jose), and are scheduled again July 20 (Dallas vs. San Jose, Vancouver vs. Seattle). The MLS will have to squeeze in Dallas/Vancouver sometime during group play.
No word yet on any delays for Wednesday’s kickoff doubleheader in Group A. Orlando City plays rival Inter Miami (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET) followed by Chicago vs. Nashville (ESPN, 10:30 p.m. ET).
The whole tournament is scheduled to be played in Orlando, which received some bad news when Saturday covid counts were posted at worldometers.com.
CASES SURGE IN ORLANDO AND BRADENTON AS NBA RELEASES SCRIMMAGE SCHEDULE
We mentioned Saturday that Friday counts had held steady in Orange County (Orlando) and decreased in Manatee Country (Bradenton). MLS and the NBA are hoping to crown champions in Orlando. The WNBA will play an abbreviated 22-game regular-season schedule and playoffs in Bradenton.
But on Saturday . . .
*Orange County jumped to 1,184 new cases, by far the largest total of the whole week, From last Sunday through Saturday, the daily totals were 834, 343, 300, 560, 584, 620 and 1,184.
*Manatee County soared to 293 new cases. Over the same seven days, totals were 96, 73, 46, 159, 160, 86 and 293.
Florida as a whole set an all-time record with 11,458 new cases reported.
On the same morning those counts were announced, the NBA released its schedule for preseason scrimmages. Those will begin Wednesday July 22, with a four-game slate (Clippers-Magic, Nuggets-Wizards, Pelicans-Nets, Heat-Kings). LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers make their first exhibition appearance the next day against the Dallas Mavericks. Eastern Conference favorite Milwaukee is also in action Thursday July 23, taking on the San Antonio Spurs.
More Stories of Interest
*NFL Players Association petitioning to eliminate full preseason (WFAN)
*Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley says college football may move to spring (ESPN)
*Spring college football more likely (NY Post)
*NBA charting a careful course (The Athletic)
*September’s Ryder Cup golf in jeopardy (NY Post)