Morning Coffee – Mon, May 11

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New plan: Award championship to team whose player makes most consecutive FTs on Zoom.

Toronto FC follows Raptors lead, to begin individual player workouts Monday – The Globe and Mail

Toronto FC says it will begin voluntary individual player workouts outdoors at its north Toronto training facility starting Monday.

That mirrors the Toronto Raptors, who are opening up the OVO Athletic Centre for similar workouts as of Monday.

The news comes in the wake of Friday’s announcement by the Ontario government easing restrictions on pro sports teams. Players are allowed limited access to their training facilities providing they follow their league’s “established health and safety protocols” in response to COVID-19.

MLS and NBA have established strict guidelines for these workouts.

While the NBA now allows four players at a time in practice facilities, the Raptors will only have one player at a time in the building. Players will have to wear masks at all times except when on court. Staff members will wear gloves and masks at all times when in the building.

As for MLS, the field can be divided into a maximum of four quadrants for each field. Only one player a quadrant is allowed, with no equipment sharing or playing (passing, shooting) between players.

TFC players and staff will have to arrive and leave at staggered times, with designated parking spaces to maintain maximum distance between vehicles.

Players will have to wear personal protective equipment from the parking lot to the training field and back. Staff will also have to wear “appropriate personal protective equipment” during training while maintaining a minimum distance of 3.1 metres from players at all times.

Head coach Greg Vanney says he and his coaching staff won’t be directly involved in the workouts, whose details will likely be texted to players the night before. Trainers will oversee the sessions and ensure the rules are followed.

Raptors assistant coach finds new musical hobby during COVID-19 basketball break | TheSpec.com

But what does a self-acknowledged basketball junkie do when basketball shuts down? The answer — of course — is that he moves back into his mom’s Stoney Creek house with his siblings to ride out the self-quarantine. And teaches himself to play piano.

“I just started,” says John Corbacio. “I’m getting pretty good at it.”

He’d never played any instrument before the NBA season shut down. But he noticed how fast his fingers were on his computer as he was cutting film for the Raptors and figured he might be cut out for it. So he bought a keyboard at Long and McQuade right before the quaratine kicked in, used a Sharpie to write the letters on each key, downloaded an app that teaches him how to play and got after it. A buddy who teaches music is also lending a hand online.

He’s only a few weeks in but already he’s playing a passable version of Bruce Hornsby’s The Way It Is, some Elton John and even Hotline Bling by Drake.

John Corbacio? More like John Arpeggio.

Of course, going from playing in the key to on the keys is still just his side gig. Most of his days are still filled with basketball, which is hardly unexpected for a guy who got where he did through sheer hustle.

For those who don’t remember his story — or never heard it — after his NCAA career ended, he took coaching job after coaching job as far away as Thailand to learn the craft. He even worked a year for free just to get his foot in the door with the Raptors.

Eventually, he was brought on as video coach and then bumped up to assistant coach which had him working with Kawhi Leonard in California prior to the championship season. And then celebrating on the court when it all came together last spring.

During the COVID-19 season, he’s been spending huge chunks of his day sitting at the kitchen table watching Raptors’ games and sending clips to players. Mostly stuff they’ve done well. No detail is too small. But he’s also been digging into other teams’ games to learn what he can, including watching a ton of film from the old Lakers-Celtics rivalry.

Kevin Durant not returning to Nets if NBA resumes 2020 season

“Kevin Durant’s not coming back to the Nets this year. That’s not happening if they play. They’re not playing him,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on The Woj Pod during a discussion about rushing players back to finish this season.

When Durant, 31, signed a four-year, max deal with the Nets last summer, the expectation was for their newest superstar to rest and rehab for one year, before returning for the 2020-21 season, which could now reportedly begin as late as Christmas. But with Durant having advanced to 3-on-3 games in recent weeks and the Nets (30-34) in line for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference if the season resumes — with one scenario jumping right into the playoffs — a window appeared open for Durant to make a cinematic debut with Brooklyn.

General manager Sean Marks kept the idea alive when he recently stated Durant’s return date was still flexible.

“That’s a $110 million question,” Marks told Newshub. “In all seriousness, we’ve tried not to talk about his timeline a lot.

“I can tell you this though — before the pandemic, he looked like Kevin Durant and that’s a good thing.”

Coronavirus in sports: Will fans ever come back to games after COVID-19 pandemic ends?

My intuition suggests that an equally culpable dynamic is the collective dwindling of society’s ability to spend three consecutive hours actively engaged in any one activity. In a world where even a home-cooked meal is a photo op and home itself has multiple different connections to the outside world, perhaps it hardly qualifies as a phenomenon that people are increasingly reluctant to spend an evening or afternoon sitting in a hard-backed chair where the beer costs $12 and is served in plastic cups.

Whatever the case, I don’t think it is outlandish to think that our current circumstances hasten an end to an era that history will regard as the glory days of spectator sports. And I think it would be wise for ownership groups to spend some of their newfound downtime thinking about ways in which they might adapt to a world where attendance figures are more reminiscent of the ‘70s and ‘80s than the ‘00s and ‘10s.

This is particularly true for the sports that are most reliant on gate receipts, namely, pro baseball and college football. In 2012, Major League Baseball set an all-time attendance record when an average of 30,806 fans passed through the gates. By the end of last year, that number sat at 28,198, the lowest it had been since 2003, when teams averaged 27,831 fans per game. The decline has been steady, with average attendance falling by at least 200 tickets in five of those seven seasons.

It’s a similar story in college football, where average regular-season attendance has declined by at least 300 tickets in each of the last seven seasons. In 2013, Division 1 FBS schools averaged 45,192 fans per game, according to the NCAA. Last year, that number sat at 41,129.

Daryl Morey: Rockets, Lakers to Benefit From NBA's Coronavirus Suspension

So who could actually benefit from the alterations to the potential postseason? Daryl Morey believes the Rockets may have an upper hand.

“This time will help us more than others. It might help the Lakers, too,” Morey told ESPN’s Mason and Ireland. “I think the more veteran teams, they’re going to have more professional guys during this period to keep themselves ready. We’re the oldest team, and time off can, in a relative sense, help more veteran, older teams.”

MLB Takes Aim at a Plan to Play Ball in 2020 – WSJ

MLB is expected to present a formal proposal to the players’ union this week that will outline the league’s idea for how to stage a season in 2020, several people familiar with the matter said. This will come after commissioner Rob Manfred holds a conference call with the 30 team owners Monday to discuss the plan.

The move comes as state economies are beginning to reopen, and baseball faces the reality that if it doesn’t act soon, the entire season could slip away. But huge challenges stand in the way, including the question of how often players and other personnel will be tested—and where the resources to do that will come from.

Details remain fluid and subject to change as the public-health situation evolves. There are still plenty of questions that need to be addressed pertaining to safety and economics, and negotiations between the two sides will almost certainly run into speed bumps along the way.

Despite all of that, there’s reason for optimism. After consulting with their respective medical advisers, officials on both ends of the bargaining table agree on one key point: that while playing this year might be difficult—and unlike anything baseball has ever attempted before in its long history—there is a scenario where it’s feasible.

The basic outline involves playing roughly 80 games—about half as many as usual—beginning in early July, following a second spring training in June. Games would be held without fans in as many MLB stadiums as allowed by local governments. Other teams would relocate, perhaps to their spring training facilities in Arizona or Florida. For example, anybody entering Canada is currently subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine, making the Toronto Blue Jays a candidate to find a new home, at least at first.

70% of MLB employees who had positive coronavirus antibody tests showed no symptoms | Newsday

Results of a recent study of MLB team employees, including Mets and Yankees, added to the growing body of evidence that the new coronavirus is far more common and therefore far less deadly than initially feared.

Researchers revealed Sunday that 70% of those who tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies — a sign of previous infection — reported no symptoms, bolstering the idea that the disease is more prevalent than one would guess based on those who appear sick.

“It’s sometimes a very deadly disease, but it’s most often asymptomatic or mild, especially in this kind of relatively healthy population,” Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a Stanford professor who ran the study, said on a conference call with reporters. “What we learned from this study is, nationwide, the range of clinical presentations include a substantial amount of people who are infected with the disease but have very few symptoms and don’t proceed to the viral pneumonia.”

Stanford teamed up with the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory, an anti-doping company in Utah, to test 5,603 people who work for MLB clubs — some players, but mostly regular employees who work in business and baseball operations.

The study found antibodies in just 0.7% of subjects, about 40 people after researchers accounted for false positive and false negative rates. That was lower than Bhattacharya expected but still seven times the rate of infection based on confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Coronavirus: Here's what's happening in the sports world on Sunday | CBC Sports

Under 1% of MLB employees test positive for antibodies
Just 0.7% of Major League Baseball employees tested positive for antibodies to COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus.

The small number of positive tests, announced Sunday, was positive news for a sport pushing ahead with plans to start its delayed season.

Researchers received 6,237 completed surveys from employees of 26 clubs. That led to 5,754 samples obtained in the U.S. on April 14 and 15 and 5,603 records that were used. The survey kit had a 0.5% false positive rate.

Dr. Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford, one of the study’s leaders, said the prevalence of the antibodies among MLB employees was lower than for the general population during testing in New York, Los Angeles, the San Francisco area and Miami.

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