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Sunday Sports Update

NEW YORK (AP) — Baseball players told Major League Baseball additional talks to start the season during the coronavirus pandemic are futile and said owners should order a return to work, which likely would spark lengthy litigation and the sport’s return to labor wars. The union’s action could lead to a season of about 50 games rather than the 82 initially proposed by MLB.  Players and MLB agreed to a deal March 26 calling for prorated salaries. That deal gave baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred the right to start the season provided there were no travel restrictions and games could be played before fans in regular-season ballparks. It called for “good faith” negotiations to play in empty ballparks or neutral sites. MLB made three economic offers, the last Friday, and the union proposed two. The sides remain far apart on how much players should get of the $4 billion in salaries they originally were set to earn: MLB has offered to guarantee $1.27 billion and increase the total to $1.45 billion if the postseason is completed. Players want $2.25 billion.

NEW YORK (AP) Major League Baseball and the affiliated minor leagues are shut down but an independent circuit is set to open on July 3 with some fans in the seats. The American Association says six teams will play in three hubs, at least at the start of the season. Minnesota’s St. Paul Saints will play home games at Sioux Falls Stadium along with South Dakota’s Sioux Falls Canaries. Manitoba’s Winnipeg Goldeyes will be based at Newman Outdoor Field with North Dakota’s Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks. The Chicago Dogs will play home games at the Ballpark Commons with the Milwaukee Milkmen.

NEW ZEALAND (AP) New Zealand has become one of the first nations in the world to welcome hordes of fans back into a packed sports stadium. More than 20,000 fans poured into a stadium in Dunedin to watch a rugby match Saturday, with no masks or social distancing required. New Zealand removed almost every remaining virus restriction this week after no new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the country for more than three weeks, and all those who contracted the disease were determined to have recovered. The only major restriction that wasn’t lifted was the shutdown of the country’s border.

MIAMI (AP) — Kyle Busch’s slump wasn’t much of a slump. And it’s over now anyway. Busch won the NASCAR Trucks Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday night, his 58th career win on the circuit and his eighth victory in his last 10 series starts.

Busch had to start at the back of the field, then serve a pass-through penalty on top of that, after failing pre-race inspection. But he managed to stay on the lead lap, then worked his way to the front and made it all seem easy.

MIAMI (AP) — A late caution flag gave Harrison Burton new life, and he took advantage. Burton took the inside line on the way to the lead in the final lap and held on to win the Xfinity Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway — denying, among others, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Noah Gragson, who seemed to be in full command with seven laps remaining.

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — The PGA Tour has returned after three months because of the pandemic, and it has not taken long for fans to see what they were missing. Xander Schauffele made a 12-foot birdie putt on the last hole for a 66 and a one-shot lead over an All-Star cast at the Charles Schwab Challenge. Among those one shot behind were Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland. Among the 14 players separated by three shots were Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose.

UNDATED (AP) — Timing favors the NFL over other major pro sports leagues in trying to figure out how to keep the coronavirus pandemic from wrecking the 2020 season. America’s most popular sport has another big advantage if the games are played: TV money. While NFL owners could lose billions collectively with limited capacities in stadiums or no fans at all, the league is well positioned financially because of lucrative media contracts approaching $10 billion in a full 2020 season.

CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield plans to kneel during the national anthem this upcoming season to support protests of social injustice, police brutality and racism. In answering a post from a fan on his Instagram account Saturday that pleaded with him not to kneel, Mayfield responded: “Pull your head out. I absolutely am.″ Mayfield has been outspoken recently about the need for more understanding and justice in the nation following the killing of George Floyd, a black man, while in police custody in Minneapolis. On Friday, Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien said he would kneel with his players if they chose to do so during the anthem. Earlier this week, while not going as far as O’Brien, new Browns coach Kevin Stefanski made it clear he would back his players in any peaceful demonstrations.

UNDATED (AP) — U.S. Soccer President City Parlow Cone has apologized for the federation’s lack of leadership in the fight against racism. Parlow Cone on Saturday discussed the federation’s decision to repeal a policy that required players to stand during the national anthem. The rule had been adopted by U.S. Soccer in 2017 when national team player Megan Rapinoe kneeled during the anthem in support of Colin Kaepernick’s protests of police brutality and racial injustice.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa defensive back Jack Koerner sustained serious injuries when he and a passenger on a jet ski collided with a boat on the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. Police say Koerner and the passenger were hurt Friday when their watercraft crashed into the side of a boat. Koerner was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. His passenger was taken to a hospital by aircraft.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Drake University student who was accidentally shot in the head by a basketball player alleges in a lawsuit that a coach instructed the player to lie to police. The Des Moines Register reports that Nathaniel Miller Jr. filed the lawsuit this week against the university, Bulldogs forward Tremell Murphy and the managers of the off-campus property near the university where the shooting happened during a party last August. It alleges that an unidentified coach showed up before officers arrived and told Murphy to deny any involvement. The lawsuit also alleges that proper medical care for the victim was delayed because of the misdirection from witnesses

GENEVA (AP) — Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter is the target of a criminal investigation in Switzerland for suspected mismanagement of a $1 million payment from soccer funds. Blatter has been notified by Swiss federal prosecutors he is an “accused person” over a loan FIFA gave in 2010 to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association, according to a document seen by The Associated Press. The payment came from a FIFA account on April 13, 2010, and was interest-free, unsecured and later waived as a kind of gift, according to the document. The 84-year-old Blatter has denied any wrongdoing during decades of financial scandals linked to soccer’s world governing body, though he was banned from the presidency and risks being brought to trial in his home country. It is the latest allegation in Swiss and American federal investigations tying FIFA to irregular payments benefiting Jack Warner, its former vice president from Trinidad who is fighting extradition to the United States.

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