The Bad Hombres FC – Episode 15: DCU News, Lavelle leaving? and CONCACAF

Featuring  José Umaña and Mario Amaya

Tune in for The Bad Hombres Podcast every week on Thursdays at 8 p.m. as soccer journalists José Umaña and Mario Amaya talk on the main topics dealing with D.C. United, Washington Spirit and any soccer news in the DMV.

WCAC reschedules all fall high school sports to January

By Brooks Warren/The Sports Pulse Contributor

WASHINGTON – The Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) is rescheduling its upcoming fall sports season to January 2021, becoming the latest interscholastic athletics association to be impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Commissioner Stephen Colantuoni said he met with athletic directors of member schools multiple times since March, coming up with different plans to resume athletics once schools reopen. Colantuoni said the goal was to come back with their full slate of fall sports, including football, soccer, cross-country field hockey, volleyball and tennis.

However, as time wore on and the continued spread of COVID-19 across the metropolitan region, the decision was made to hold off playing during the fall. The plan discussed during a meeting with the heads of schools last week, according to Colantuoni. 

“We held off for as long as we could,” Colantuoni said. “The biggest problem we have is we play in two different states and the District of Columbia, and we have seven jurisdictions, and every one of them is different.”

The WCAC is comprised of 13 private schools and must adhere to local guidelines regarding outside and indoor gatherings during the pandemic. As private institutions, they are not obligated to adhere to any public school system guidelines and can act independently in terms of having athletic competitions on school property.

The league will be monitoring restrictions placed on its schools across their jurisdictions and the feasibility of moving all fall athletics to early 2021. It will, however, consider playing a conference-only schedule, Colantuoni said.

“We made a commitment to our kids,” Colantuoni said. “That we are going to try as best we can to get a season in some time down the road. That’s the whole thing; our athletics are second to none.”

Colantuoni also stated the conference is focus on assuring all its student-athletes an opportunity to play this upcoming school year.

“Our spring sports, they got beat last (season), and they didn’t get to play at all,” Colantuoni said. “So that was really difficult for them, so I don’t want to do that two (seasons) in a row.”

The conference’s decision comes after multiple school districts and associations elect to reschedule or cancel their athletic programs.

Both District of Columbia State Athletic Association and the Virginia High School League made plans to move their fall sports to February 2021. However, Montgomery County Public School canceled their fall and winter seasons and Prince George’s County Public Schools’ athletics are postponed during virtual learning.

Moving the season to the spring can become problematic because college football prospects can enroll early and leave before the start of the season. Other possible concerns include the physical health of senior athletes who plan to enroll during the summer months will be entering workouts weeks after concluding a spring football season.

Your Sports Fix – Jamal Adams to Seattle, return of MLB and NBA, the Washington Football Team and more!

Your Sports Fix – Featuring Devon Ashby and Daniel Kucin Jr.

Tune in for Your Sports Fix every week on Sunday at 7 p.m. for engaging and entertaining discussions focusing on professional and college sports topics with Devon Ashby and Daniel Kucin Jr.

Nationals announce 30-man roster for 2020 shortened season

By Arthur Cribbs/The Sports Pulse Contributor
Photo Credit: Washington Nationals Twitter

As the Washington Nationals opened the regular season on Thursday and Saturday against the New York Yankees, the defending champions released their 30-man roster.

Given the 2020 season adjustments, the Nationals will allow 30 players on the active roster through the first two weeks of the season. The rosters will trim down to 28 players, and after another two weeks, the team will drop to 26 players for the remainder of the season.

Starting Pitchers:
Max Scherzer
Stephen Strasburg
Patrick Corbin
Aníbal Sánchez
Austin Voth

Starting pitching will serve as the strength of the Nationals roster, primarily with the three-headed monster of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin. The trio combined to win 43 games with a 3.18 ERA as a group.

Anibal Sanchez and Austin Voth round out the rotation, with Erick Fedde as another option to fill in as a starter.

Joe Ross was expected to fill in as a starter before deciding to opt-out of the season.

Relief Pitchers:
Sean Doolittle
Daniel Hudson
Will Harris
Javy Guerra
Tanner Rainey
Erick Fedde
Kyle Finnegan
James Bourque
Ryne Harper
Sam Freeman

The late-inning combination of Daniel Hudson and Sean Doolittle highlights the Nationals bullpen. Hudson reinvented his career with Washington, posting a 1.44 ERA with the team after being acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays last July.

Catchers:
Kurt Suzuki
Yan Gomes
Raudy Read

Veterans Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes will split duties behind the plate. Both players provided offensive value, hitting double-digit home runs in 2019. Catcher Tres Barrera was initially listed on the 40-man roster but will serve an 80-game suspension after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. 

Infielders:
Eric Thames
Starlin Castro
Trea Turner
Asdrúbal Cabrera
Carter Kieboom
Howie Kendrick
Wilmer Difo

Trea Turner and Starlin Castro will provide the offensive sparks atop the Nationals lineup and above-average defense up the middle.

After spending the past three years with the Milwaukee Brewers, Eric Thames signed with the team in January and will play first base. He will be filling the void left by Matt Adams, who joined the Atlanta Braves, and Ryan Zimmerman, who opted out of the 2020 season over health concerns. With the loss of Anthony Rendon to the Los Angeles Angels in free agency, Carter Kieboom will need to take his game to the next level.

Howie Kendrick will carry the load in the middle of the lineup as the projected designated hitter.

Outfielders
Victor Robles
Adam Eaton
Michael A. Taylor
Emilio Bonifacio
Andrew Stevenson

The absence of Juan Soto is the glaring hole on the Nationals roster. The 21-year-old outfielder is recovering after testing positive for COVID-19 hours before Opening Day. The team is hoping for his return after he completes all the quarantine protocols.

Your Sports Fix – New name & sexual harassment allegations in Washington, ‘The Cam Chronicles’ and football in peril

Your Sports Fix – Featuring Devon Ashby and Daniel Kucin Jr.

Tune in for Your Sports Fix every week on Sunday at 7 p.m. for engaging and entertaining discussions focusing on professional and college sports topics with Devon Ashby and Daniel Kucin Jr.

Mystics’ Delle Donne to receive salary despite being denied medical exemption

By Demetrius Dillard/ The Sports Pulse Contributor

Courtesy photo/Washington Mystics

WASHINGTON — As the Washington Mystics prepare to compete in a shortened season at IMG Academy in Florida, the status of its star player Elena Delle Donne remains unknown.

Delle Donne requested to be medically excused from playing in the upcoming season due to medical concerns dealing with chronic Lyme disease. However, a panel of doctors hired by the league denied her request.  Delle Donne faced a tough decision: Either play to be paid her salary but possibly exposing her compromised immune system or sitting out the season.

The Mystics elected to help their superstar, announcing that they will pay Delle Donne her full salary (reportedly $215,000), even if she does not play due to coronavirus concerns.

Washington head coach and general manager Mike Thibault said during a media conference call that the organization plans to pay her regardless if she enters the WNBA bubble in Florida, calling her deal a “guaranteed contract.” He also said that the Mystics would support Delle Donne in whatever decision she makes for her health.

“The fact of the matter is that the Mystics organization will never put Elena’s or any of our other players’ health and well-being in jeopardy at any time,” Thibault said.

Delle Donne shared the letter of her request denial with the Mystics, but the team couldn’t release an announcement regarding the situation unless she made a public statement first, Thibault said.

The two-time MVP did go public, writing an article published on The Players’ Tribune about dealing with chronic Lyme disease for more than a decade, claiming she takes 64 pills a day to keep playing basketball.  

As the league began to review her case, Delle Donne said she thought she would be granted an exemption. It would allow her to keep her salary despite not playing this season. After talking to her doctor about her history of flare-ups, Delle Donne was told she was “at high-risk” at contracting and recovering from COVID-19.  

“I didn’t need a panel of league doctors to tell me that my immune system was high-risk — I’ve played my entire career with an immune system that’s high-risk,” Delle Donne said. 

Washington plans to work with Delle Donne in raising awareness about the effects of Lyme disease, Thibault said. She will have access to continue rehabbing her back injury at the team training facility in Washington. 

“As in the past, both with her Lyme disease history and her on-court injuries, all decisions about her ability to play will be made jointly with Elena,” Thibault said. “She is part of our roster, she’s being paid, and is continuing to rehab from her off-season back surgery.

“If at some point later in the season we are all comfortable – I mean all comfortable enough – with both her physical progress and the safety of joining the team in Florida, then we will make those arrangements.”

Forward Tina Charles to miss 2020 WNBA season

Meanwhile, teammate Tina Charles opted out of the season and decided not to travel with the Mystics due to medical concerns stemming from extrinsic asthma. 

According to a team statement released Friday, the forward has been medically excused by the league’s independent panel of physicians from participating in the 2020 season.

“While we are disappointed that Tina will not be with us this summer, we fully understand the reason for her medical exemption and look forward to having her with us next season,” Thibault said. 

“The health of our players takes precedence. There hasn’t been anything normal about playing this season, but we are prepared and excited to play with the group that is here in Florida.”

COVID-19 testing results postpone D.C. United’s opening match in MLS is Back Tournament

By Mario Amaya/The Sports Pulse Contributor

WASHINGTON – D.C. United’s first match in the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando against Toronto FC, scheduled for Sunday, July 11, has been postponed following the results of two COVID-19 tests, Major League Soccer officials said. 

In a statement released prior to the scheduled kickoff, MLS said one player tested positive for COVID-19 while another received “an inconclusive test” result. Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott told multiple outlets in an impromptu press conference that a United player tested positive. 

“Because of the arrival time of the clubs in Orlando, the league’s protocol called for retesting both teams this morning and to await the results of those tests prior to playing the match,” the league said. “Major League Soccer will continue to prioritize the health and safety of all participants of the MLS is Back Tournament in making these decisions.” 

League policy states that the player will be moved away from the team’s accommodations at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort and be quarantined for 14 days. 

United arrived at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex for the match, slated to kick off at 9 a.m., whereas Toronto FC did not before the match was called off. The Washington Post reported United trained for a few minutes before boarding back on the buses to return to their hotel rooms. 

Both teams were making their debut in the tournament in group play. 

D.C. United has yet to play in the MLS Is Back Tournament. Photo by Phillip Peters/The Sports Pulse.

Both teams are in Group C with the Montreal Impact and the New England Revolution, who had played earlier in the week. The Revolution won 1-0. 

Prior to the game’s start, United players showed their excitement leading up to the match on their social media platforms. It would have been United’s first game in four months. However, following the cancellation, the mood of their posts changed. 

This is not the first time MLS rescheduled tournament games. FC Dallas was pulled from the competition after 10 players, and a member of their coaching staff tested positive for COVID-19, causing a reworking of Group B teams. 

Nashville SC was also pulled out before matches began after nine players tested positive before arriving in Orlando. MLS changed many matchdays, including moving United’s game with Toronto, initially scheduled for Friday, July 10, to Sunday. 

“To every DC United supporter, our families & friends, I’m sorry you woke up so early to see us play, to then have the match postponed AGAIN,” United goalkeeper Bill Hamid said on Twitter. “Especially after so many people planned originally to watch the game which was meant to play on Friday! Have a beautiful Sunday, regardless.” 

Update*

United is still scheduled to play against ND.C. United’s first match in the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando against Toronto FC, scheduled for Sunday, July 11, has been postponed to Monday, July 12, following the results of two COVID-19 tests, Major League Soccer officials said. 

The schedule change will also affect United’s game against New England Revolution, moving it from Thursday, July 16 to Friday, July 17 at 8 p.m.

Nationals announce Player Pool, Zimmerman will not join team for 2020 season

Zimmerman and Ross will not join team in 2020 season

By Arthur Cribbs/The Sports Pulse Contributor

Courtesy photo

WASHINGTON – Last October, in what now feels like a millennia ago, the Washington Nationals brought the first World Series trophy back to the nation’s capital since 1924 after defeating the Houston Astros. 

Two hundred forty-five days since that historic Game 7 victory, the Nationals are finally back in town in the Navy Yards neighborhood, although under seemingly unprecedented circumstances. 

As we enter July, in what is typically the midway point of the Major League Baseball (MLB) season, players, coaches and staff throughout the league are reporting to their respective ballclubs. 

In an agreement made last week between MLB and the league’s players association, teams will report to an abbreviated “spring” training at their home facilities by July 1, start workouts on July 3 and begin the 60-game regular season on July 23 and 24. 

Before this hiatus from baseball, major league teams had begun spring training in Florida and Arizona before play came to an abrupt halt in the middle of March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the abbreviated training period in July, teams are limited to a 60-player pool competing for 30 spots on the Opening Day roster.

The Nationals unveiled their 60-man pool on Sunday, which featured 36 pitchers, six catchers, 11 infielders and seven outfielders.

While the Nationals will open the regular season with up to 30 players, each team must cut the active roster down to 28 players two weeks into the season. After another two weeks, rosters will be cut again to 26 players for the remainder of the season.

Players who are removed from the active roster may stay in game shape at the Alternate Training Site, which will likely be the closest minor league facility; Fredericksburg (High-A) will likely serve as the Nationals’ alternate site.

Among roster changes and a shortened season, MLB is also adding a universal designated hitter, a player automatically at second base during extra innings during the regular season and an August 31 trade deadline before the regular season concludes on September 27. 

Of the 60 games, 40 will be divisional, and 20 will be interleague. Additionally, to limit any semblance of contact, spitting on the field will be prohibited.

Unlike the NBA, where players will be secluded in a central location, MLB teams are expected to travel. In the event that a player contracts the novel coronavirus, he will be placed on the COVID-19 injured list, which does not have a specific time length. The player must test negative twice and show no fever for 72 hours before returning to the ballclub.

Players can opt-out of the season, but only those who are medically certified as “high risk” can receive full prorated salaries.

Since the announcement of the player pool, at least two notable Nationals players have chosen to forgo commitments to the upcoming season.

Ryan Zimmerman announced on Monday that he would opt out of playing the 2020 season, citing family circumstances as the deciding factors. Zimmerman, 35, will forgo his $6.25 million salary (which would have been about $2.3 million in prorated pay for 60 games) but says he has no plans on retiring from the sport.

Pitcher Joe Ross, who was in line to be the Nationals fifth starter, is also opting out of the 2020 season.

Despite the loss of Zimmerman and Ross for the season, many of the spots on Nationals Opening Day roster are all but certain, barring injury or unforeseen circumstances.

Starting Pitchers

  • Max Scherzer
  • Stephen Strasburg
  • Patrick Corbin
  • Anibal Sanchez

Relief Pitchers

  • Sean Doolittle
  • Will Harris
  • Daniel Hudson
  • Tanner Rainey

Catchers

  • Kurt Suzuki
  • Yan Gomes

Infielders

  • Eric Thames
  • Howie Kendrick
  • Trea Turner
  • Starlin Castro
  • Asdrúbal Cabrera 

Outfielders

  • Juan Soto
  • Victor Robles
  • Adam Eaton
  • Michael A. Taylor

Bulk in starting and relief pitching will likely make up more than half of Manager Davey Martinez’s roster. With the addition of the designated hitter to the National League in 2020, the Nationals will also likely add an additional bat or a third catcher to the mix.

A notable invitee for the Nationals is pitching prospect and last year’s first-round pick Jackson Rutledge. He is unlikely to make the final roster but posted a 3.13 ERA in 37.1 minor league innings in his first season as a professional. 

Top prospect and former first-round pick Carter Kieboom will also be a player to watch as he looks to fill the void at third base with the team’s loss of Anthony Rendon to the Los Angeles Angels. He spent parts of 2019 on the Major League club and is expected to begin the season on the active roster.

Although much of the scheduling details for the season have yet to be announced, the Nationals are slated to open the season with an interleague matchup against the New York Yankees.

Your Sports Fix – NBA’s return, Morehouse cancels Fall Sports and FBI’s Bubba Wallace update


Your Sports Fix – Featuring Devon Ashby and Daniel Kucin Jr.

Tune in for Your Sports Fix every week on Sunday at 7 p.m. for engaging and entertaining discussions focusing on professional and college sports topics with Devon Ashby and Daniel Kucin Jr.

Major League Baseball season is a Go

By Harry Lichtman/The Sports Pulse Contributor

Photo by Michael Smith/The Sports Pulse

WASHINGTON – On June 23, Major League Baseball (MLB) players agreed to report to training camp on July 1, resulting in the MLB season taking place in 2020.

For weeks, it seemed like a baseball season was not going to happen based on owners and players arguing over the number of games played and the amount of pay received in return.

On Monday, June 22, the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) rejected MLB’s offer of a 60-game season, which resulted in league commissioner Rob Manfred taking matters into his own hands and implementing a season himself.

However, MLB officially announced a 60-game regular season that will begin on either July 23 or July 24, with a specialized “spring” training session starting on July 1st.

The shortened season will also include new rules for 2020: 

  • Active rosters will have 30 players for the first two weeks, 28 for the next two weeks, and 26 in week five.
  • A separate injury list for the coronavirus.
  • Teams will play 10 games vs. divisional opponents; four vs. opposite league divisional opponents.
  • Universal designated hitter (DH) for both NL and AL.
  • The trade deadline will be August 31.
  • The runner starts at second base in extra innings

Due to COVID-19 still sweeping the nation, players must follow a lot of safety measures, as they are not allowed to make deliberate contact with any other player aside from making tags. That means don’t expect anything like high-fives or fights between players.

In terms of COVID-19 testing, it will be implemented in three phases: prescreening, intake, and regular monitoring, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich.

For prescreening, players and staffers will be tested three or four days before arriving at camp. For intake, they will then undergo a temperature check, a saliva or nose-swab test, and a blood test for antibodies two days before reporting to camp.

Finally, for regular monitoring, players will have their temperature and symptoms checked twice per day.

As for the minors, the MiLB season has been on hold since April, as they are awaiting word from the MLB if the season will be played at all.

But for now, an apparent free agent league is in place, so that MLB players could quickly sign a fill-in player if necessary.

According to The Athletic’s Jayson Stark, MLB has talked with Nashville about having two teams of unsigned players there. Nashville is the home of the Triple-A Nashville Sounds.

The players would serve as an emergency pool and would make $400 per week, as MLB teams would have to pay a fee to Nashville to sign one of those free agents.

According to Ken Rosenthal, Nashville might not be the only location for this free agent league, as Rosenthal stated that “MLB expects other minor league teams to do something similar to Nashville and allow major league teams to sign players for a fee, operating the same way independent leagues do.”

MLB is not the only North American pro sports league planning to return, the NBA and NHL are expected to begin their playoffs in late July/early August, MLS announced a tournament which will kick off in Orlando on July 8, the WNBA plans to tip off their season in late July, and the NFL is expected to start on time in the fall.