Russia’s sports exile persists 1 year after invading Ukraine
Russia’s reintegration into the world of sports one year after the invasion of Ukraine began threatens to create the biggest rift in the Olympic movement since the Cold War. Russia remains excluded from many international sporting events but that could soon change. Next year’s Paris Olympics are fast approaching and qualifying events are under way. The International Olympic Committee is working to bring athletes from Russia and ally Belarus back into competition but not everyone agrees. Ukraine and several of its allies say any return for Russia would be unacceptable. The IOC says excluding Russian and Belarusian athletes entirely would be discriminatory.
NBA teams get ready to make 4th-quarter push for playoffs
There are six teams in the NBA that look pretty comfortably in playoff position. There are four other teams that pretty much know they’re not going anywhere. That leaves 20 teams for the last 10 playoff spots. The NBA’s All-Star break ends Thursday night. And there’s only 28% of the season left, which means it’s time for teams to start really jostling for playoff position.
MLB curtails infield shift, hopes for more singles, speed
PHOENIX (AP) — One of MLB’s most visible rule changes for 2023 is a sizable curtailing of infield shifts. The practice had grown exponentially over the past several years and has been partially blamed for a steady league-wide decline in batting average. The new rule states that all four infielders must have both feet within the outer boundary of the infield — and two infielders must be on each side of second base — when the pitch is delivered. MLB has also mandated that the infield dirt cutout have uniform dimensions in all 30 ballparks. The outfield edge of the dirt must be 95 feet from the front of the pitching rubber.
Mets’ Beltrán won’t discuss role in Astros’ cheating scandal
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) — Carlos Beltrán refused to discuss his role in the Houston Astros cheating scandal, preferring to concentrate on his new role with the New York Mets. Beltrán was hired by the Mets in November 2019 to replace Mickey Callaway as manager. But the team announced Beltrán’s departure the following January without him managing a game. Beltrán’s departure was announced three days after he was the only Astros player mentioned by name in Major League Baseball’s report that concluded that Houston broke rules by using electronics to steal signs en route to the 2017 World Series title.
MLS says San Diego, Las Vegas top candidates for 30th team
NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Soccer hopes to pick a 30th team by the end of the year. MLS Commissioner Don Garber says San Diego and Las Vegas are the most likely candidates. He mentioned Detroit; Phoenix; Sacramento, California; and Tampa, Florida, as other possibilities. St. Louis, the league’s 29th team, opens play Saturday at Austin. Garber did not rule out expanding beyond 30 teams.
Djokovic hopes to play in US despite being unvaccinated
BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Novak Djokovic says he has asked American authorities for special permission to enter the United States to play tennis tournaments in California and Florida despite being unvaccinated against the coronavirus. The Transportation Security Administration has said the requirement for foreign air travelers to be fully vaccinated against the disease would be in place at least until mid-April. The tournament in Indian Wells will be played from March 6-19 and the Miami Open is scheduled from March 20-April 2. The top-ranked Serb says “I have a big desire to be there.” Djokovic is one of the most high-profile athletes who is unvaccinated against COVID-19.
Alex Ovechkin returns to Capitals following death of father
ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — Alex Ovechkin has returned to the Washington Capitals after missing the past week for the death of his father in Moscow. Ovechkin practiced to get some of his conditioning back after flying to and from Russia and skating only once during his absence. He’s eager to get back on the ice while he and his family are still morning Mikhail Ovechkin’s death at age 71. Washington’s longtime captain and leading scorer could play as soon as Thursday against Anaheim. The Capitals went 0-4 without Ovechkin and have lost five in a row in regulation for the first time in nine years.
Hawks GM Fields says Snyder a candidate to replace McMillan
ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta Hawks general manager Landry Fields says former Utah coach Quin Snyder will be “somebody we will consider” in the search to replace Nate McMillan. The Hawks fired McMillan on Tuesday, and Fields stressed the team’s eighth-place standing in the Eastern Conference is “not acceptable” for a team that advanced to the conference finals in 2021. Fields said Snyder, also a former Atlanta assistant coach, will be “part of that pool” of candidates. The 56-year-old Snyder guided the Jazz to six consecutive playoff appearances before stepping down after last season. Snyder was a Hawks assistant in 2013-14.
Kraken partner with Muckleshoot Indian Tribe for jersey ad
The NHL’s Seattle Kraken have partnered with the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe to put its logo on their jerseys and help increase Indigenous youth participation in Washington state. They’re the first team in the major four North American professional sports leagues to feature a Native American tribe unrelated to a casino on their jerseys since advertisements became commonplace. The multiyear agreement also involves the construction of a sports court on the Muckleshoot Reservation, more Indigenous art at Climate Pledge Arena and the creation of hockey programs for Indigenous youth in the area.
LIV Golf gets another setback in court fight with PGA Tour
LIV Golf has been dealt another setback in its antitrust lawsuit with the PGA Tour. A federal magistrate last week ruled that Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and its governor are required to testify. In a ruling Tuesday out of California, a federal judge says the fund and Yasir al-Rumayyan can be added as a defendants in the PGA Tour’s countersuit against the Saudi-backed league. LIV Golf is accusing the PGA Tour of monopolistic behavior in trying to squash competition. The tour argues the Public Investment Fund and its governor were involved in recruiting players.