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National Sports Update

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball players are bracing for a battle with owners over the possibility of reduced salaries caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Players are upset over the prospect teams may seek additional pay cuts if games are played in empty ballparks. Their anger was stoked last week when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he was told by Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon that the union would have to agree to lower salaries if games are played without fans.

A March 26 deal between the sides states “the Office of the Commissioner and Players Association will discuss in good faith the economic feasibility of playing games in the absence of spectators or at appropriate substitute neutral sites.” The union points to another passage covering salaries in which players agree to give up 1/162nd of base pay for each regular season game lost.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Rob Manfred has made a move that allows teams to lay off or cut the pay of major and minor league managers, coaches, trainers and full-time scouts starting May 1.

Manfred has suspended uniform employee contracts that cover about 9,000 people, including general managers on some teams. Manfred cited the inability to play games due to the national emergency caused by the pandemic.

 

VIRUS OUTBREAK-SPORTS POLL

UNDATED (AP) — The possibility of professional sports resuming without fans is growing. And a recent poll suggests a majority of fans wouldn’t feel safe attending games anyway without a vaccine for the new coronavirus.

One sports business expert says losses of fan-related revenue will be substantial even if clubs begin cashing in on lucrative media rights deals again. Losses could reach $3 billion among the NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer.

The Seton Hall Sports Poll found that 72% of Americans wouldn’t feel safe attending games without a vaccine. The number drops to 61% among respondents who identify as sports fans.

Seventy percent said the NFL shouldn’t start in the fall to ensure the safety of players, even if some form of social distancing is still in place.

Just over three-quarters said they would have the same interest watching a broadcast of live sports played without fans.

 

TENNIS-VIRUS OUTBREAK-DJOKOVIC

UNDATED (AP) — Novak Djokovic says he won’t take any anti-coronavirus vaccination if it becomes compulsory for tennis players to return to the world tours.

The world’s top-ranked men’s tennis player said in a live Facebook chat he wouldn’t “be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel.” Djokovic and his wife have two children and have spoken previously against vaccinations.

Djokovic won the Australian Open in January for his 17th grand slam singles title.

 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says there is a chance for large public gatherings later in the summer, which could lead to games at Yankee Stadium and the Mets’ Citi Field. De Blasio announced Monday that parades and city-permitted events had been canceled through June because of the novel coronavirus but said progress in fighting the pandemic will determine what’s allowed after that.

 

Six Super Bowl rings may get you special treatment in a lot of places but former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady learned Monday that it won’t get you anything when you’re caught working out in a park that is closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said during a news briefing that the new Buccaneers quarterback was spotted working out by himself at a park downtown by staff patrol. The staffer went over to tell him he had to leave and she recognized the man to be the 42-year-old Brady.

 

COLLEGE BASKETBALL-NBA DRAFT

UNDATED (AP) — Baylor’s top two scorers are entering their names in the NBA draft while keeping open their options to return to the Bears.

All-Big 12 sophomore guard Jared Butler announced his intentions Monday on Twitter. Junior guard MaCio Teague said last month that he was exploring the NBA draft. Butler was third in the Big 12 with 16 points a game, while Teague scored 13.9 points a game.

And Washington State star CJ Elleby plans to go through the NBA draft process. Elleby led the Cougars in scoring and rebounding this past season as a sophomore, delivering 18.4 points and 7.8 boards a game. He can still return to Washington State for his junior season as long as he withdraws his name by 5 p.m. on June 15.

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