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.
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TEXAS: LIMITED FANS IN OUTDOOR VENUES
Thursday, 5/28: The State of Texas will allow pro sports teams to have fans at outdoor venues in June, at 25 percent of full venue capacity and following protocol guidelines:
After previously restricting in-person spectators, Texas is now allowing pro sports leagues to have fans at outdoor events up to 25% of the venue’s capacity.
But despite the state's allowance, fans may not be back in the stands soon.https://t.co/J8Fm1x8ntJ
— Tessa Weinberg (@Tessa_Weinberg) May 28, 2020
Texas governor Greg Abbott revised an earlier plan that would have only allowed play in empty stadiums beginning in June. The revision does not cover college athletics. Texas is the first state to announce a plan for fans in the stands since stadiums and arenas were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The major pro sports teams in Texas with open air facilities are the Cowboys and Texans (retractable roofs), the Astros and Rangers (retractable roofs) and MLS's FC Dallas and Houston Dynamo. — Bob
EICHEL: 'FED UP WITH THE LOSING'
Thursday, 5/28: Sabres captain and center Jack Eichel, one of the top young players in the NHL, is frustrated with losing:
Sabres captain Jack Eichel as another season ends without making the postseason: "Listen I'm fed up with the losing and I'm fed up and frustrated. It's definitely not an easy pill to swallow right now. It's been a tough 5 years."@news4buffalo https://t.co/4izAxtHL1n
— Heather Prusak (@haprusak) May 28, 2020
Eichel made the comments during an interview with Buffalo media over Zoom. The Sabres are not one of the 24 teams participating the restructured 2020 NHL playoffs. They finished tied with the Devils for 13th in the Eastern Conference with 68 points and the organization has not participated in the Stanley Cup playoffs since 2010-11.
Eichel's held up his end, for sure. Playing through injury during the second half of the 2019-20 season, he still had 34 goals and 42 assists in 68 games. Eichel was diplomatic, however, stating he was encouraged by the direction of the organization under head coach Ralph Krueger and general manager and former Penguins assistant GM Jason Botterill.
When your team hasn't competed for a championship since Ryan Miller, Thomas Vanek, and Drew Stafford were leading the club ... well, point taken. — Bob
CLOWNEY TURNS DOWN OFFER FROM BROWNS
Thursday, 5/28: Hot Button's having a fire sale on Browns news! Free-agent defensive end Jadaveon Clowney reportedly turned down an offer to play for the Browns, reportedly the top money offer he has received, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter:
Report: Jadeveon Clowney turned down big offer from Browns https://t.co/fWOgyp3yN6
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) May 27, 2020
Clowney is undoubtedly one of the top free agents available, but he is coming off a core-muscle surgery, so his full health status is unknown. Clowney went to three straight Pro Bowls from 2016-18, but regressed last year with injury, posting just three sacks in 13 games. He did have four forced fumbles.
Whether Clowney is seeking more money from the Browns or just has no interest in joining the organization at any salary will soon be determined. — Bob
BASKETBALL HALL INDUCTIONS MOVED TO SPRING
Thursday, 5/28: The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame announced that the induction ceremonies originally scheduled for August 28-30, then moved to October 10-12, are now being pushed to Spring 2021.
The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony for Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett will be pushed to 2021, ESPN's Jackie MacMullan reports. https://t.co/o1MnULa6PG
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 28, 2020
Hall chairman Jerry Colangelo cited that the event in October was "just not feasible" due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Beyond Bryant, Duncan and Garnett, the Hall is set to induct WNBA great Tamika Catchings, women's college coaches Kim Mulkey and Barbara Stevens, recently deceased men's college coach Eddie Sutton, and FIBA executive Patrick Baumann. — Bob
HASLAM CAUGHT ON HOT MIC
Thursday, 5/28: Browns owner Jimmy Haslam was caught on a hot mic last week during an owners Zoom meeting getting a dig in at Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Apparently, Haslam isn't a fan of Jones' commentary:
Jimmy Haslam had a hot mic moment during last week's virtual ownership meeting, when he made a comment about Jerry Jones that everyone heard https://t.co/MQt4PaivFZ
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) May 27, 2020
Hilarious. Ironic, too, as Jones has been vocal about Haslam being one of the top five owners in the league. In eight seasons since Haslam purchased the Browns in 2012, his organization has a combined record of 33-94-1 with zero playoff appearances. Entering the 2020 season, Haslam's on his sixth general manager and seventh head coach. So Jones must not have much criteria beyond the size of Haslam's wallet. — Bob
RECRUITING DEAD PERIOD EXTENDED TO JULY 31
Thursday, 5/28: The NCAA's Division I Council announced Wednesday that the recruiting dead period for all sports is extended to July 31. It was previously set at June 30.
The NCAA extended the recruiting dead period for all Division I sports through July 31 https://t.co/i0qs2FiBqZ
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) May 28, 2020
The rationale seems solid: By eliminating the ability to host recruits on-campus, coaches will have the ability to better focus on re-acclimating student-athletes to new methods ad protocols after returning to campus following nationwide closures due to coronavirus. — Bob
SKY JUDGE PROPOSAL OUT
Wednesday, 5/27: NFL owners will have a virtual meeting on Thursday to consider proposals for new rules for 2020. Two that won't be voted on include the addition of an eighth official in the booth, the "Sky Judge."
According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Media, neither of the two proposals will be voted on by owners during a virtual meeting Thursday. Both have been tabled at this point.
Cost and the feeling there would be unintended consequences of adding a set of officiating eyes in the broadcast booth are the reasoning. -- Lolley
SCRIPT 15 PLAYS FOR BROWNS
Wednesday, 5/27: Inspired by the "All In Challenge" sponsored by Fanatics, The Browns are raising money for a food charity, auctioning off one opportunity for a fan to script the first 15 plays of a preseason game with new head coach Kevin Stefanski and offensive coordinator (and former Pitt quarterback) Alex Van Pelt.
Script 15 plays for a preseason game w/ Coach Stefanski ☑️
Attend team dinner the night before the game ☑️
Lead the team out of the tunnel ☑️
This (and more) could all be yours + it's for a good cause!
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) May 26, 2020
Beyond what's shown above, the fan will also be given pre-game sideline passes, participate in the coin toss and receive autographed merchandise. The Browns are also offering another opportunity to win the same package through a sweepstakes.
Former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar is getting in onto challenge, auctioning off an opportunity to join him and famed Cleveland chef Michael Symon in a luxury box for a Browns home game.
A Browns fan scripting plays? Gotta be better than Freddie Kitchens was, right? — Bob
DOLPHINS TO START DRIVE-IN AT STADIUM
Wednesday, 5/27: The Dolphins are looking to generate some revenue in these unusual times and they're aiming to retrofit Hard Rock Stadium into a 230-car drive-in theater:
— South Florida Sun Sentinel (@SunSentinel) May 27, 2020
It's all part of a larger plan to enhance the experience around the stadium, including live entertainment and theater spaces outside and around the building. Let's hear your double-features. I'm going with "Flipper" and "Day of the Dolphin." — Bob
NWSL RETURNING WITH UTAH TOURNEY
Wednesday, 5/27: The National Women's Soccer League has announced that is is returning to play, beginning on June 27 in Utah with The NWSL Challenge Cup, a tournament involving all nine teams in the league.
The NWSL announced its plan to return with the 2020 Challenge Cup, which will take place from June 27 to July 26 in Utah: https://t.co/nPSeBpY5Ht
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) May 27, 2020
The NWSL will use the facilities of their own Utah Royals FC, MLS's Real Salt Lake, and USL's Real Monarchs for tournament games. The tournament is scheduled to conclude on July 26. U.S. Soccer was quick to endorse theNWSL's return to play:
U.S. Soccer is supportive of the NWSL's decision to bring professional women’s soccer back to the field. pic.twitter.com/SpoTAayyo0
— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) May 27, 2020
Games will be broadcast on CBS and subscription streaming platform CBS All-Access. — Bob
A'S MAKE EXTENSIVE CUTS
Tuesday, 5/26: News broke Tuesday that the Athletics are making major cuts throughout their organization. First, they are enacting extensive furloughs throughout their baseball and business operations, including scouts. The cuts are considered to be almost as bad the ones the Angels announced:
Sources say furloughs will be widespread throughout organization, and at least some who remain will receive pay cuts. https://t.co/7cFNJ65xFL
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) May 26, 2020
Second, they became the first team to cut pay to minor-leaguers. MLB's guarantee only extends through May 31, and the Athletics will stop paying their prospects their $400 per week. -- Alex
The move comes just six days after the A's failed to make a rent payment to the stadium authority that owns their ballpark. Here is the full email the Athletics sent to all affected by the payroll and job cuts. — Bob
A’s become first team to stop paying minor leaguers. Paychecks are halted after May 31. https://t.co/wrL66zP8rU
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) May 27, 2020
1989 CHAMPS PASS 'THE CUP' AGAIN
Tuesday, 5/26: The 1989 Stanley Cup champion Calgary Flames took to TikTok on Monday for a virtual recreation of the Cup handoff 31 years ago, starting with captain Lanny McDonald:
— FlamesAlumni (@AlumniFlames) May 25, 2020
The Flames beat the Canadiens four games to two in the finals — the top two teams in regular-season points that season. That Flames group was fun to watch. Apparently, they still are. — Bob
SNELL SWITCHES TO BORAS AGENCY
Tuesday, 5/26: Rays ace Blake Snell has switched represetation and signed with uber-agent Scott Boras' agency:
Agent Scott Boras expresses excitement in adding #Rays Blake Snell: “He’s an elite talent. We fully expect with our resources...and his skill he has an opportunity to be a very elite pitcher for a very long time.”
— Josh Tolentino (@JCTSports) May 26, 2020
Snell, 27, was the AL Cy Young winner in 2018, going 21-5 with a 1.89 ERA and 221 strikeout in 180.2 innings. however he struggled through an injury-plagued 2019, throwing just 107 innings and posting a 6-8 record and a 4.29 ERA.
Snell moves on from Apex Baseball and signing with Boras may be more aligned with his financial views. Last week, Snell trashed Major League Baseball's revenue-sharing and pay-cut proposal for 2020, stating he would rather sit out than take less money — even in a shortened season. Boras was equally stern in his criticism of the league's proposals. — Bob
MONTGOMERY GRATEFUL STARS FIRED HIM
Tuesday, 5/26: Former Stars head coach Jim Montgomery said he's thankful that the organization fired him, forcing him to make changes in his life. Montgomery opened up about his feelings in an interview with TSN's Pierre LeBrun.
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) May 25, 2020
Montgomery was fired on Dec. 10, 2019, by general manager Jim Nill for what was termed a "material act of unprofessionalism." It has since been learned that Montgomery was involved in a DUI and has been struggling with alcohol addiction.
Best of luck to him in his recovery. — Bob
TYSON HOLDS OUT FOR BETTER OFFER
Monday, 5/25: It was reported Monday that Mike Tyson received and rejected a $20-million deal for one fight for the Bare Knuckles Fighting Championship organization:
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 25, 2020
The BKFC is reportedly looking to sweeten the pot with more money and charitable donations. Tyson, 53, has recently posted workouts on social media that show him in peak physical condition.
Bare knuckle fighting is exactly as it sounds, as the BKFC is looking to restart the sport so popular in the 19th century. Fighters compete in a four-rope round ring and cannot have anything taped less than one inch below the knuckles.
GRONK COMES HOME TO MAMA
Monday, 5/25: Rob Gronkowski shared on pre-taped episode of "The Ellen DeGeneris Show" Monday that being geographically close to his mother was a main factor in his decision to come out of retirement and play for the Buccaneers this season:
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) May 22, 2020
Gronkowski's mother lives in nearby Ft. Myers, Fla. So a little bit of Brady, a little bit of nice weather and a lot of being close to his mother seemed to seal the deal. — Bob
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