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Hot Button: Toppin, Ionescu win Naismith … Gattis admits cheating … U.S. Women’s Open gets new dates

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Hot Button is a 'round-the-clock feature that covers anything across the scope of sports. We're here to bring you everything hot: news items, highlights, takes — everything but hot meals — whether local, national or international. Better yet, it’s interactive. Share your thoughts in comments, and even post your own links to interesting, safe-for-work, sports stories.

So let’s go! Come on in!


Friday, 4/3: Dayton forward Obi Toppin and Oregon guard Sabrina Ionescu won the Naismith Award on Friday as the top men's and women's NCAA basketball players. Each was also named the AP Player of the Year in March

Toppin led the Flyers to a No. 3 ranking and a 29-2 record, averaging 20 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Ionescu led the Ducks with 19.6 points, 8.2 assists, and 7.4 rebounds per game on route to a 32-1 record and a national No. 1 ranking. Ionescu also established the all-time NCAA mark for triple-doubles — men's and women's — with 26, and is the only NCAA player to ever finish with 2000 points, 1000 assists, and 1000 rebounds in a career. — Bob


Friday, 4/3: Retired catcher Evan Gattis, a member of the Astros in 2017, opened up on a podcast this week, admitting that the 2017 World Series champion Astros "cheated and cheated fans."

It's admirable, I suppose, especially to admit that saying sorry isn't enough to fix things. But it's a bit of an unusual stance from Gattis, considering last week he posted this about cheating whistleblower Mike Fiers:

It seems in the baseball world there's honor in contrition when caught cheating, but none when you break the clubhouse code. — Bob


Friday, 4/3: The USGA announced Friday that the 2020 U.S. Women's Open, scheduled for June 4-7 at Champions Golf Club in Houston, has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic and rescheduled for December 10-13 at the same venue.

The LPGA additionally rescheduled three events and canceled one, with the first tournament on their calendar now the Walmart NW Arkansas Classic on June 19-21, with the women's PGA Championship the following week in Philadelphia.


Friday, 4/3: South Carolina women's basketball head coach Dawn Staley won the Naismith Coach of the Year award as the best coach in the NCAA, becoming the first person — man or woman — to win the Naismith as a coach and a player. Staley won the Naismith Player of the Year twice, in 1991 and 1992, as a guard at Virginia.

Staley led the Gamecocks to a 32-1 record and the No. 1 ranking in the nation in 2019-20, but was unable to compete for the national championship when the NCAA canceled the tournament due to the coronavirus pandemic. — Bob


Thursday, 4/2: Who had the best season ever in MLB history? The folks at MLB Stats have developed a bracket — one side hitters, one side pitchers — to decide it once and for all. Babe Ruth in 1923 and Pedro Martinez in 2000 are the No. 1 seeds. Better yet, you vote:

Click on the link in the embedded tweet and vote for the first-round match-ups. Who ya got going all the way? Who was snubbed? — Bob


Thursday, 4/2: White Sox play-by-play announcer Ed Farmer passed away in a Los Angeles area hospital on Thursday. He was 70 years old. The White Sox release states that it was from complications from a previous illness. There was no mention of anything related to coronavirus.

Farmer spent the last 28 years in the broadcast booth for the Sox, first as a color analyst before taking over play-by-play duties in 2006. He pitched for eight teams in an 11 year MLB career, including three season with the White Sox from 1979-81. Farmer was an All-Star in 1980.

Rest in peace. — Bob


Thursday, 4/2: Former Astros manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow, suspended by MLB for their participation in illegal sign-stealing, will be eligible to return in 2021, even if there are no games played this season, according to ESPN's Buster Olney.

Apparently, the wording of the suspensions allows it since neither man was suspended for a set number of games, just that it was in effect until "the end of the 2020 postseason." If no games are played in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, then there will be no subsequent consequence.

Hopefully, we'll have games this year, but if not, wouldn't that be fitting in the handling of that mess — no real consequences for anyone. — Bob


Thursday, 4/2: Multiple reports surfaced Wednesday that the R&A, the governing body of The Open Championship, was set to cancel — not postpone — the 2020 British Open, set to begin on July 16 at Royal St. George's. It would be the first cancellation of The Open Championship since 1945, during WWII. It is rumored that the R&A was waiting to see what the All England Club was going do with Wimbledon, and Wimbledon was canceled Wednesday.

It is not yet official, but if the event is canceled the R&A must decide what to do with the host club in 2021 and beyond. The 2021 Open is set for St. Andrews and is not known if all clubs will just be pushed a year or if Royal St. George's will lose its spot this time through the course rotation. — Bob


Wednesday, 4/1: The Cowboys have signed former All-Pro outside linebacker/defensive end Aldon Smith to a one-year, $4-million deal on Wednesday, marking Smith's return to the NFL after a four-year absence for alcohol-related and domestic abuse offenses that resulted in an indefinite league suspension. Smith needs to be reinstated by the NFL before the signing is official. The contract terms are for $2 million in base salary and $2 million in incentives for sacks.

Smith, 30, last played in the NFL in 2015 with the Raiders, when several legal issues emerged from alcohol related incidents. Smith has struggled with alcoholism, with his most recent legal incident occurring in 2018. Smith now feels ready to resume his career.

Smith was drafted by the 49ers in 2011 out of Missouri and finished his rookie campaign with 14 sacks without any starts. He was first team All-Pro and selected to the Pro Bowl in 2012, leading the NFL with 19.5 sacks. At the time of his exit from the game after five seasons, Smith had amassed 47.5 sacks in 59 games.

Best of luck to him in his recovery and return to the league. — Bob


Wednesday, 4/1: Reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson is working out with Antonio Brown in South Florida, along with Brown's cousin and Jackson's Ravens teammate Marquise Brown. Video of Antonio Brown's catches was released on Twitter:

Brown may not be drawing interest from NFL teams at the moment following his high-profile behavioral and legal troubles during the 2019 season and offseason, but top athletes seem to have no problem hanging with him, including Steelers receiver and 2019 third-round pick Diontae Johnson, who team scouts compared to Brown prior to the draft. — Bob


Wednesday, 4/1: The Dolphins are going to make a push to trade with the Bengals for the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft, according to Miami Herald columnist Armando Salguero, with the idea of drafting LSU QB and Heisman winner Joe Burrow:

Miami has insane draft capital with three first-round picks — No. 5, No. 18 (from PIT), No. 26 (from HOU) — and 14 picks in the draft overall, including two second-rounders. They also have two first-rounders and two second-rounders in the 2021 draft. If the Bengals can get a package of picks and think that they can still land Oregon QB Justin Herbert, then maybe they'd make the move, but it would be foolish to pass on Burrow, a southern Ohio native, who has all the makings of a franchise quarterback. — Bob


Wednesday, 4/1: Fresh off the heels of the Wimbledon cancelation, Major League Baseball canceled a June 13-14 series Wednesday that was scheduled to be played in London's Olympic Stadium. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred cited that the games were unlikely to be played in the present circumstances surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, and that canceling now preserves valuable financial resources for the league.

MLB played its first games ever in Europe last season with a two game series in London between the Yankees and Red Sox on June 29-30. — Bob


Wednesday, 4/1: Yeah, it's the worst day of the year for news like this. But it's no joke: Wimbledon has been canceled for the first time since World War II (1945) due to the coronavirus pandemic:

The event had been scheduled to be played from June 29 to July 12 and, according to ESPN, the All England Club initially considered a postponement before electing to cancel altogether due to a lack of sunlight and too much dew on the courts at the later July/August dates under consideration.

"It is with great regret that the Main Board of the All England Club (AELTC) and the Committee of Management of The Championships have today decided that The Championships 2020 will be cancelled due to public health concerns linked to the coronavirus epidemic," Wimbledon said in a statement on their website.

Britain has been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus recently, seeing its highest one-day death total (563) from 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 31, to 9 a.m. Wednesday, April 1. Their current death toll stands at 2,352, making the decision regarding Wimbledon a necessary one.

Wimbledon 2021 is scheduled for June 28 - July 11, 2021. -- Hunter 


Tuesday, 3/31: Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has been medically cleared to compete after successfully passing a fourth follow-up physical with his doctors following hip surgery in November, according to his representatives.

The timing of the medical clearance couldn't be better, as the NFL Draft is set to begin on April 23. Tagovailoa was a consensus first-round pick before the injury but has since fallen behind LSU's Joe Burrow and Oregon's Justin Herbert at the position on most draft boards, and his inability to workout live for NFL scouts and team representatives could drop him to the second day of the draft.

Tagovailoa, a standout at Alabama and a Heisman hopeful in 2019, suffered a right hip dislocation and wall fracture in the first half of a Nov. 16 game against Mississippi State when he fell awkwardly when tackled after releasing a roll-out pass.

Would you still take Tua in the first round? — Bob


Tuesday, 3/31: Baseball Digest has gifted us some nostalgia. Until July 15, the iconic monthly magazine is opening its internet archive of over 800 issues for free:

I'll be geeking out on the mid-70's editions from my childhood. You? — Bob


Tuesday, 3/31: The Bengals cut cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick Monday after eight seasons. Kirkpatrick was Cincinnati's first-round pick in 2012 out of Alabama. He has a combined 302 tackles, 10 interceptions and 65 passes defended in his career.

Kirkpatrick, 30, played only six games in 2019 before needing knee surgery in November. He yielded a 122.5 passer rating on his targets in those six games. That performance, the injury, his age and the $9.4 million he was set to make in 2020 combined to make his release almost certain.

Steelers fans will forever remember Kirkpatrick for the vicious stiff-arm he took on a Le'Veon Bell catch-and-run in October 2017:

Then Bell did this to him in December of that year:

Chin up, Dre. — Bob


Tuesday, 3/31: Dr. James Andrews, famed Tommy John surgeon, announced that he was suspending the elbow surgeries in his Florida practice indefinitely in compliance with a state mandate to halt non-essential medical procedures in response to the coronavirus pandemic:

Two high profile surgeries on Chris Sale of the Red Sox and the Mets' Noah Syndergaard are not affected as they were done in private facilities by different doctors.

Sale's surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache, based in Los Angeles, said he is not going to suspend procedures, claiming they are "essential" as they are directly related to the players' livelihoods.

Interesting position. Are these essential surgeries that legitimately consume medical resources, or should those facilities and resources be put to other uses at this time? — Bob


Monday, 3/30: The NCAA Division I Council granted all NCAA spring sports participants an extra year of eligibility as their seasons were canceled by the coronavirus pandemic. The rule applies to both undergrads and seniors. The council is also allowing for the expansion of rosters, so that scholarships for incoming freshman and transfers can be honored if current seniors decide to lay one more season. — Bob


Monday, 3/30: The International Olympic Committee has set dates for the 2021 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo:

The IOC postponed the 2020 Summer Games last week after several member nations' Olympic committees threatened a boycott if the Games weren't postponed to 2021 due to coronavirus. — Bob

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