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Toronto Blue Jays aren’t getting a competitive advantage due to vaccine mandate

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The Blue Jays are lucky to have vaccinated players like Bo Bichette (left) and George Springer.

The Blue Jays are lucky to have vaccinated players like Bo Bichette (left) and George Springer.
Image: Getty Images

Brandon Nimmo wants everyone to know that he’s “thankful” for New York mayor Eric Adams’ decision to cave in to Kyrie Irving and other giant babies who don’t care if you live or die, so long as they don’t have to get a shot, and lift the city’s vaccine mandate for athletes and performers.

The Mets outfielder wants to thank the mayor for “being able to bring something, I think, that’s really good and positive back to New York City, in the fact of baseball – Yankees and Mets.”

The Yankees and Mets were already back. They drew a combined 3,444,519 fans to their ballparks last year, when figures were held down by pandemic restrictions that already were lifted before Adams enacted the athlete/performer exception to the private employer rules.

This isn’t about the Yankees and Mets coming back. It’s about Nimmo, who declined to say whether he’s vaccinated — which means he’s unvaccinated — being able to play home games, along with other players on both New York teams who have not gotten their vaccinations. That list would seem to include fellow vaccine question evader (seriously, we’re not dumb, everyone who’s had the vaccine proudly says so, because we’re happy about protecting the people around us from a deadly virus) Aaron Judge, among others, and it’s an especially vital issue for the Yankees given the games they’ll have to play in Toronto.

Canada, unlike the city of New York, is not kowtowing to selfish interests at the drop of a seven-figure check. So unvaccinated players, especially in the American League East, aren’t in the clear here, and somehow, in baseball, the issue becomes a “competitive advantage for the Blue Jays.”

Except, the advantage for the Blue Jays in unvaccinated visiting players not being allowed in the country isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Toronto has had to build its roster knowing that unvaccinated players were basically unavailable to them. The Yankees knew that they were going to Toronto this year, and they still re-signed Anthony Rizzo, even at a time when Rizzo might not have been legally able to play any home games (although they likely had an inkling that Adams would open this loophole).

There’s also a bit of within-the-pandemic fairness in the Blue Jays getting some measure of advantage this year. Last season, because of COVID, the Blue Jays had to play home games in three different stadiums. They were 10-11 at their spring training park in Dunedin, 12-11 in Buffalo, and then 25-11 once they finally got home to Toronto. The Jays won 91 games and missed the playoffs by one game. Was that totally fair? Of course not, but that was what had to happen given the reality of the pandemic.

There are still 6,000 people a week dying from the novel coronavirus in the United States. The issue here isn’t Canada taking appropriate precautions, it’s the mayor of New York changing the rules to allow special privileges for the rich and famous – and if you’re an unvaccinated baseball player with a $7 million contract for this year, you’d be thanking him for his “leadership,” too.



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Arsenal FC XI vs Lyon: Predicted lineup, confirmed team news and injury latest for Dubai Super Cup friendly

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M

ikel Arteta will mix youth with experience when selecting his Arsenal team to face Lyon in the Dubai Super Cup.

A handful of players remain unavailable while continuing on their path to World Cup glory in Qatar, such as Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli.

Furthermore, those knocked out of the tournament will not feature with Takehiro Tomiyasu in particular asking for a break from football following Japan’s heartbreak against Croatia in the last-16.

Granit Xhaka flew straight from Qatar to Arsenal’s camp acoss the desert but is highly unlikely to feaure against Lyon.

Arsenal await their return with a mid-season trip to Dubai for a warm-weather training camp and this, the first of three friendlies.

Already, the Gunners have played a behind-closed-doors match with Watford that could shed some light on Arteta’s approach to this week’s games.

Martin Odegaard, Gabriel Magalhaes and Eddie Nketiah all started the 4-2 defeat before a team of academy players entered the fray after the break.

This included Nathan Butler-Oyedeji, Ethan Nwaneri and Lino Sousa. Given the youngsters conceded three goals without reply against Watford, they are likely to again have to settle for substitute appearances in the Lyon friendly.

Predicted Arsenal XI: Hein; Cedric, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney; Elneny, Lokonga, Odegaard; Nelson, Nketiah, Marquinhos.



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Hansi Flick to remain Germany manager despite World Cup group-stage exit | Football News

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Hansi Flick will remain as Germany coach despite the four-time World Cup winners exiting this year’s tournament in the group stages.

He will remain in charge of the country until at least Euro 2024, at the end of his existing contract.

Flick only took charge of the national team last year, on the back of leading Bayern Munich to the Champions League and two Bundesliga titles in as many years.

He succeeded Joachim Low, who led Germany to the World Cup in 2014, before a shock group-stage exit in 2018 and a last-16 defeat by England at Euro 2020 last year.

Under Flick, they were unable to reach the knockouts for a second straight World Cup thanks in large part to a 2-1 defeat by Japan, with a draw against Spain and victory over Costa Rica insufficient to send them through.

Speaking after that surprise elimination, Flick said: “If you know me and my team, I know we can get up quickly and recover from that. Now we need to assess our work during the World Cup and head in a different direction. This is the next step we are going to undertake and we will do that very soon.

“For the future of German football, we need to train differently. We will work on a future that is very important and very decisive, and we will see how we can implement our idea.

“For years we’ve been talking about new goalkeepers and wingbacks, but what was always good was that we defended well. We need the basics to be right.”



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The ManningCast revolution should not have been televised

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Peyton and Eli Manning

Peyton and Eli Manning
Photo: Getty Images

It would be interesting to see how much ESPN was responsible for of the $1.5 billion that Disney lost last quarter in the streaming section. What section of the Mothership do the contracts for Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, and the Mannings fall under? After a year-plus, the nuance of the ManningCast has worn off. It Isn’t leading podcasts, and it’s easier to skip the second screen and just watch the easily digestible clips that ESPN uploads on the app while the game is going.

For whatever reason, Monday Night Football is just another primetime game, and it doesn’t have the luxury of being able to flex out games like Steelers-Colts or even the Bucs-Saints contest that was unwatchable for three-plus quarters. There’s an argument, and a pretty compelling one, that Buck and Aikman’s Fox Game of the Week slot was better than ESPN’s Monday showcase. There’s no doubt Sunday Night Football is preferable due to the pliability of the schedule.

I don’t care how charming Peyton and Eli are, if the teams on the field don’t matter, the audience will find something else to do on the trillions of streaming options. The ManningCast spinoffs suffer for the same reason that no NBA studio show can replicate Inside the NBA. Charles Barkley’s charisma cannot be duplicated just like the chemistry and repartee between two Super Bowl-winning brothers can’t be recreated.

Alex Rodriguez and Michael Kay calling a game is an actual nightmare of Red Sox fans and the hoards of people who hate the Yankees and/or A-Rod, of which there are many. Pat McAfee used his connections with Peyton and Omaha Productions to develop a simulcast for college football, which is never going to work no matter how much he grows on you.

Baseball, basketball, and even college football don’t have a weekly monopoly of viewers. There’s always another game to flip to in the NBA and MLB, so the alternative to a shitty national broadcast game is a different matchup. The Association slashed their League Pass prices this year, and it’s never been easier to find illegal streams.

Primetime NFL games are routinely atop the ratings because they have the night to themselves, and half the reason viewers switch to ESPN 2 is because the game is an abomination. When a hyped Saturday showcase fizzles out, there are a million other options to watch, and none of them are McAfee screaming through a blowout. I can’t imagine that it’s worthy of a four-hour chunk of ESPN 2’s college football Saturday.

The ManningCast ratings are whatever and have plateaued during the second season. But, yes, let’s dedicate a production team and everything else that goes into it for a little over a million viewers on a channel that’s in direct competition with the one we want everybody watching.

I don’t see how a ManningCast on Sunday night would benefit NBC because they shut down their nationally dedicated sports network, and it would run on USA or Peacock. I guess Amazon could try something on Thursdays, but they have an even shittier schedule, and people have a hard enough time remembering the game is on Prime — or that it’s even on at all.

The worst attempts are cheap knockoffs, with outlets throwing talking heads in front of a camera and having them regurgitate the same takes they’ve been spewing all week. Fucking hell, I can’t watch the pregame as it is, and now I’m supposed to spend an extra three hours with some I can’t stand for a half hour? Absolutely not.

It’s really hard to be engaging for long stretches on a PG-13 restriction. That’s why I wait for the perfectly cut clips of Peyton and Eli. The show doesn’t work for a full four wuarters, and a bad game bogs down the show like a bad host makes for a clunky SNL. The Manning bros are more or less live-streaming a football game interspersed with big-name guests that normal sportscasters can’t book.

It’s successful because of the two hosts. You know what I’d also watch those two lovable idiots do? Play charades like in the Caesars commercial. The way Eli delivers, “It’s 27 words” is hilarious, and Peyton telling his teammate to “Stop guessing helmet catch” is incredible. Who knows if they’d work in a studio setting just because most of what they do best is a product of filling time. The lasting moments from Inside the NBA come when Chuck, Shaq, and Kenny go off the rails after a long night in Studio J.

Now that we’ve arrived at the juncture where I’m repeating previously stated points, I’ll finish with this. The ManningCast didn’t revolutionize sports programming. Certain athletes are better at broadcasting than others, and they’re afforded a format that’s not replicable in any other sport, not even its amateur version. They’ve been remarkable in an opportunity that’s possible for 0.000000001 percent of sportscasters.

Kudos. Congrats. It worked for a company that lost a billion five in a quarter and hasn’t been able to duplicate it. You want to revolutionize sports media? Create whatever comes after Twitter.



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