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AROUND THE HORN

Indians are positive

CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland Indians president Chris Antonetti said a “couple” of staff members have chosen not to take part in the resumption of training camp due to COVID-19 concerns.

Speaking on a Zoom call Friday, Antonetti did not identify the staffers who have opted out or specify their roles in the organization. He added that he’s unaware of any players declining to participate because of health reasons. Antonetti said the club has spoken to “every high-risk individual” about the risks of returning. The Indians are scheduled to re-open camp on July 1 in Cleveland.

“We would be fully supportive if anyone felt this wasn’t the right environment for them to participate,” he said.

Antonetti added that the club has “had a few isolated cases” of players testing positive for the coronavirus. He said there were cases in the Dominican Republic as well as at the team’s training facility in Goodyear, Arizona. He said all of the infected individuals have recovered or are only showing mild symptoms.

Indy 500 will have fans

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indianapolis 500 will run in August with 50% fan capacity, a total that could still hit six figures at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The Indy 500 was bumped from its traditional May date because of the coronavirus pandemic. The 104th Indy 500 will run Aug. 23 at half the total of what is traditionally one of the biggest sporting events of the year. “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” can pack about 250,000 fans in the spacious speedway, leaving plenty of room if the total is limited to half that total.

“We’re committed to running the Indy 500 on Sunday, Aug. 23 and will welcome fans to the world’s greatest racing venue,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “We will be limiting attendance to approximately 50%, and we are also finalizing a number of additional carefully considered health and safety measures.”

Indianapolis Motor Speedway will still host an IndyCar-NASCAR doubleheader on the July 4 weekend without fans.

Raiders’ first title run

ALLIANCE — Mount Union’s 1993 NCAA Division III second-round playoff game against Albion (Mich.) will be broadcast by WIVM at 7 p.m. today.

Jim Gresko ran for 175 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries in leading Mount Union past Albion 30-16 in front of 4,888 fans at Mount Union Stadium.

Gresko, who led McDonald High School to the state championship game in 1989, scored on runs of 53 and 49 yards in the opening eight minutes.

Ed Bubonics hauled in a 52-yard touchdown pass from Jim Ballard with 12 seconds left in the third quarter to give Mount Union a 22-16 lead.

The win was a key one as the Purple Raiders went on to capture the first of their 13 NCAA national titles.

The game is on Channel 39 over the air, Spectrum Channel 989 in Canton and online at WIVMTV.com.

Season canceled

ATLANTA (AP) — Morehouse College canceled its football and cross country seasons because of the coronavirus pandemic. President David A. Thomas said scholarships would be honored. The Historically Black College competes at the NCAA Division II level in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

“Like all of the decisions we’ve made related to COVID-19, this was a difficult one but was made with the health and well-being of our students and community in mind,” Thomas wrote on school website.

Thomas also wrote about the difficulty in safely travelling and hosting games and events while maintaining social distancing.

Tweet fallout

HOUSTON (AP) — One of America’s top pro women’s softball teams is in an uproar after a tweet by their general manager regarding the national anthem.

The now-deleted tweet by Connie May, general manager of the Houston-based Scrap Yard Dawgs, included the Twitter handle for President Donald Trump as it noted the team’s players were standing for the anthem and respecting the flag. Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and other athletes have kneeled during the anthem to protest racial injustice, angering Trump.

The fallout has been swift.

All 18 Scrap Yard players, including some members of the US national team, have walked out and say they won’t play for the team. The USSSA Pride, another independent team, said its games will be postponed until further notice in support of the Dawgs’ players. Triple Crown Sports and a group of the top youth fastpitch teams in Texas have agreed to pull a Fourth of July Tournament from Scrap Yard’s facility.

And Dawgs coach Mike Steuerwald said the situation “probably severed the relationship between ownership and the front office and myself.”

Dawgs players Cat Osterman and Monica Abbott — both members of Team USA — are among those who have criticized May’s tweet. Attempts to reach Scrap Yard and May this week were unsuccessful.

AJ Andrews, one of two Black players for the Pride, said she is concerned about Black people dying in police custody and is energized by the protests that have taken place around the world since the death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police.

She said the Pride players were also angry that their choice to stand was politicized. “Any statement anyone wants to make regarding the national anthem — it’s their right to take their own personal stand,” Andrews said. “It’s no one else’s right to take that for them. So to have someone shift that and have it come out in a statement that does not represent you as a person — you feel violated.”

Stokes, one of two Black players for the Dawgs who starred with the Akron Racers, said May’s tweet was hurtful and insensitive, especially given the extra attention the world has been paying to racial issues for the past month. She felt the two had built a solid relationship since the team drafted her in 2016.

“I thought our relationship was really close,” Stokes said. “I thought she really understood me.”

Stokes posted her feelings on social media on Tuesday. She said May reached out to her Tuesday, but nothing changed because she felt May lacked contrition. Stokes said offers to educate May had been made before.

“It’s all about the approach,” Stokes said. “I need an apology, and then we can move forward.”

On Wednesday, several players shared a tweet titled THIS IS US with a unified message of commitment to support the Black community and help educate people on ways to create change.

Steuerwald, who is an assistant coach at Syracuse, said he stands fully behind the players.

“I’m proud of them for speaking their mind and I’ve felt that they have done it in a very respectful manner,” he said. “Even throughout their conversations with our GM in a heated, emotional moment, it wasn’t derogatory the things that were said, and it wasn’t defaming in any way. It was addressing the points of contention there with the tweet and things that they felt kind of betrayed by.”

Triple Crown Sports says it will play its July 1-5 tournament elsewhere in the Houston area.

“We believe sensitivity and tone are important ingredients of respect,” the organization said. “Through sports, we can help unify the many voices that deserve support in their right to protest and call for needed change as millions of people seek a new path for justice.”

Stokes said the players from the Dawgs might play against the Pride on Saturday, but without the Scrap Yard name. Beyond that, they don’t know what the future holds. Andrews said games are secondary right now.

“I think when you find matters that are bigger than your sport, you find matters that are bigger than what takes place in your life, you tend to find common ground whether you are a rival or not,” she said. “Allyship is really strong in softball right now. It’s amazing to see everyone come together the way they did, with the immediacy that they had.”

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