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Oklahoma hires Loyola-Chicago's Porter Moser

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(NEW YORK) — Oklahoma has announced the hiring Loyola-Chicago’s Porter Moser as its next head coach.

Moser takes over for Lon Kruger, who retired after 45 years in coaching last month, including the last ten with the Sooners.

In a statement announcing the hiring, Oklahoma Vice President and Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione said Moser checked off the boxes they were looking for.

“We are absolutely thrilled to announce and welcome Porter Moser as our next great OU head coach,” said Castiglione. “As we dug deep into the backgrounds of candidates, his attributes, acumen and record of success totally aligned with what we were seeking. He’s a purposeful and proven leader who prioritizes positive culture, accountability, academics, player development, innovation, transparent communication and a holistic approach to the student-athlete experience.

Moser led the Ramblers to the Final Four in 2018 and led  them to a 26-5 record and  the Sweet 16 this year.

“Our family is so excited and honored to join the Sooner family,” said Moser. “Joe Castiglione has a reputation for building championship programs at the University of Oklahoma. I’ve always said there are reasons why you win. If you look at the standards that the programs at Oklahoma have set, there are reasons why they’ve won. The coaches, infrastructure and community are all championship caliber. You just want to be a part of that. To play in a premiere league like the Big 12 and be a part of this championship culture excites me.

Moser has been a head coach for 17 years and has a 293-242 record, including a 188-141 record during his ten years with Loyola.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

MLB moves All-Star Game out of Atlanta over voting law controversy

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nuttiwut rodbangpong/iStockBy Mark Osborne and Quinn Scanlan, ABC News

(ATLANTA) — MLB has moved this year’s All-Star Game out of Atlanta following controversy generated by Georgia’s restrictive new voting law.

“Over the last week, we have engaged in thoughtful conversations with Clubs, former and current players, the Players Association, and The Players Alliance, among others, to listen to their views,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star Game and MLB Draft.”

Manfred said the new host city and details about events will be announced “shortly.”

“The Atlanta Braves are deeply disappointed by the decision of Major League Baseball to move its’ 2021 All Star Game,” the team said in a statement. “This was neither our decision, nor our recommendation and we are saddened that fans will not be able to see this event in our city. The Braves organization will continue to stress the importance of equal voting opportunities and we had hoped our city could use this event as a platform to have the discussion.”

The new law, passed by the Georgia House and Senate and then signed by Gov. Brian Kemp on March 25, has generated controversy due to several limits it puts on voting in the state. The bill was passed along party lines, with Republicans vocally supporting it and Democrats calling it voter suppression.

Republicans contend it will streamline elections and provide more confidence in the process following outrage from Republicans and former President Donald Trump over his defeat in the presidential election and Democratic Sens. Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock winning runoff elections in January.

Critics see it differently, contending it’s meant to suppress the votes of historically disenfranchised communities, namely Black voters.

“Today, Major League Baseball caved to fear, political opportunism, and liberal lies,” Kemp said in a statement. “Georgians — and all Americans — should fully understand what the MLB’s knee-jerk decision means: cancel culture and woke political activists are coming for every aspect of your life, sports included. If the left doesn’t agree with you, facts and the truth do not matter.”

The chief executives of Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola forcefully condemned the bill on Wednesday, a change from prior public stances. After the bill passed, Delta’s CEO praised aspects of it while a Coca-Cola executive said the corporation was “disappointed in the outcome.” Before the bill passed neither corporation publicly opposed it, despite facing pressure from a coalition of voting rights and civil liberties groups.

President Joe Biden has condemned the new law in and voiced support for moving the All-Star Game out of Atlanta in an interview with ESPN.

I think today’s professional athletes are acting incredibly responsibly,” Biden said. “I would strong support them doing that. People look to them. They’re leaders.”

Ossoff has said he disagreed with Biden over moving the game.

Warnock issued a statement calling MLB’s decision “the unfortunate consequence” resulting from the actions of “politicians seeking to retain power at the expense of Georgians’ voices.”

“It is my hope that businesses, athletes, and entertainers can protest this law not by leaving Georgia but by coming here and fighting voter suppression head on, and hand-in-hand with the community,” Warnock added.

Stacey Abrams, who has led the charge for increased access to voting in Georgia, posted a video to Twitter on Wednesday asking for companies not to boycott the state.

“I understand the passion of those calling for boycotts of Georgia following the passage of SB 202,” she said in the video. “Boycotts have been an important tool throughout our history to achieve social change. But here’s the thing. Black, Latino, AAPI, and Native American voters whose votes are the most suppressed under SB 202 are also the most likely to be hurt by potential boycotts of Georgia. To our friends across the country, please do not boycott us.”

Kemp, as well as Georgia House Speaker David Ralston criticized Abrams for being responsible for MLB moving the game, though she did not support the boycott.

“Republicans who passed and defended Senate Bill 202 did so knowing the economic risks to our state. They prioritized making it harder for people of color to vote over the economic well-being of all Georgians,” Abrams said in a statement following the announcement of the All-Star Game leaving Atlanta. “Like many Georgians, I am disappointed that the MLB is relocating the All-Star game; however, I commend the players, owners and League commissioner for speaking out.”

MLB reiterated its support for voting access in its statement and called attention to the voter initiatives it undertook last season.

“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” Manfred’s statement continued. “In 2020, MLB became the first professional sports league to join the non-partisan Civic Alliance to help build a future in which everyone participates in shaping the United States.”

“We proudly used our platform to encourage baseball fans and communities throughout our country to perform their civic duty and actively participate in the voting process,” Manfred continued. “Fair access to voting continues to have our game’s unwavering support.”

Freddie Freeman, the Braves’ top player and the NL MVP in 2020, said Thursday before the team’s season opener that he’d prefer the league kept the game in Atlanta and used it as a way to call attention to the law and the importance of access to voting.

“I think it’d be better to keep it and use a platform,” Freeman told reporters. “What’s happened in the last couple of months has already gone through, so why not use what we already have here as a platform in the city and state that it has been passed through?”

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a Democrat who called the elections bill both “ridiculous” and “unnecessary,” predicted more fall out.

“Just as elections have consequences, so do the actions of those who are elected. Unfortunately, the removal of the @MLB All Star game from GA is likely the 1st of many dominoes to fall, until the unnecessary barriers put in place to restrict access to the ballot box are removed,” she tweeted.

ABC News’ Aaron Katersky, Rick Klein and Justin Gomez contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Scoreboard roundup — 4/1/21

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iStockBy ABC News

(NEW YORK) — Here are the scores from Thursday’s sports events:


Milwaukee 6, Minnesota 5
Tampa Bay 1, Miami 0
Seattle 8, San Francisco 7

Detroit 3, Cleveland 2
Toronto 3, NY Yankees 2
Kansas City 14, Texas 10
LA Angels 4, Chi White Sox 3
Houston 8, Oakland 1
Baltimore at Boston (Postponed)

Pittsburgh 5, Chi Cubs 3
Philadelphia 3, Atlanta 2
San Diego 8, Arizona 7
St. Louis 11, Cincinnati 6
Colorado 8, LA Dodgers 5
NY Mets at Washington (Postponed)

Philadelphia 114, Cleveland 94
Detroit 120, Washington 91
Brooklyn 111, Charlotte 89
Miami 116, Golden State 109
Orlando 115, New Orleans 110 (OT)
Atlanta 134, San Antonio 129 (2OT)
Denver 101, LA Clippers 94

Montreal 4, Ottawa 1
NY Rangers 3, Buffalo 2
Tampa Bay 3, Columbus 2
NY Islanders 8, Washington 4
Pittsburgh 4, Boston 1
Florida 3, Detroit 2 (OT)
Dallas 4, Nashville 1
Carolina 4, Chicago 3
Minnesota 3, Vegas 2 (SO)

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

MLB's opening day marked by a COVID-19 postponement, weather impacts and limited fans

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nuttiwut rodbangpong/iStock(NEW YORK) — COVID-19- and weather-related postponements and limited but enthusiastic fans marked MLB’s highly anticipated opening day.

Stadiums across the country welcomed back fans Thursday for the first time in over a year, after teams played to mostly empty or cardboard cutout-filled stands last season due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Both the pandemic and inclement weather made for some day-of derailments. Thursday evening’s Washington Nationals home game against the New York Mets was postponed amid “ongoing contact tracing” among members of the Nationals organization, the team announced.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the game will not be made up on Friday,” the league’s built-in off day, the Nationals said in a statement. “We will continue to provide updates as available.”

The Nationals would have been down five players and a staff member after a player tested positive for COVID-19, ESPN reported.

The Red Sox opener against the Baltimore Orioles was also postponed — due to the weather. With a forecast calling for rain throughout the day in the Boston area, team officials announced Thursday’s afternoon game will be rescheduled to Friday — forecast to have sunny skies.

“The decision to postpone our first game of the season was not made lightly,” Red Sox President Sam Kennedy said in a statement. “We have been eager to have fans back at Fenway Park for the first time in 18 months and look forward to welcoming everyone back tomorrow under brighter and drier conditions.”

Snow didn’t stop the Detroit Tigers’ home opener against the Cleveland Indians. The first pitch was thrown in 32-degree weather. Slugger Miguel Cabrera hit his first home run of the season in the first inning as snow came down at Comerica Park. The Tigers went on to clinch the win, 3-2.

With most stadiums not opening to full capacity due to COVID-19 safety protocols, stands were noticeably lacking the typically packed crowds on opening day. For instance, Comerica Park, which can normally hold 42,000 fans, is limited to 8,200.

“It’s quieter than normal on opening day, but, at the end of the day, you make the best of it,” Tigers fan Andrew Postema, who drove from Grand Rapids for the game, told ABC Detroit affiliate WXYZ.

Chicago’s Wrigley Field is limited to 25% capacity — about 10,000 fans. They entered using contactless tickets on their phones, one of several safety measures in place this season, along with required face coverings (which present the opportunity for fans to wear masks emblazoned with their team’s logo).

“The fans are real excited to come out,” Cubs fan Shawn Greene told Chicago ABC station WLS. “I’m sure this place would be crowded but it’s just good to be back.”

Fans going to the New York Yankees this season are required to have proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. The stadium, one of the city’s mass vaccination sites, is also continuing to administer vaccinations between home games through at least the end of the month, officials said.

Stuart Goldwasser told New York ABC station WABC he paid $900 for him and his son to be one of the nearly 11,000 fans on opening day at Yankee Stadium, which is limited to 20% capacity.

“Had COVID, got through it and we’re here and we’re going to win the World Series,” Goldwasser said.

“We always come to opening day,” his son told the station. “We come to a bunch of games every year. It was tough not to be here for a couple of years.”

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

How these female coaches are breaking barriers in the MLB

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33ft/iStockBy Danielle Genet, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — April 1 is Opening Day for the sport long considered America’s “favorite pastime.” This season, MLB will have a record 23 female coaches in its lineup — either on the field or in professional-development roles.

Among the women starting this season is 30-year-old Bianca Smith, who made history in January as the first Black woman hired as a minor league coach by the Boston Red Sox.

“It was crazy,” she told ABC News’ Good Morning America of the moment she landed the role. “I’d been interviewing for a scouting position so the fact that they offered a coaching position was huge for me.”

Smith, who had juggled multiple jobs and internships in the past, including assistant athletic director at Carroll University, is expected to primarily instruct minor leaguers in Fort Myers, Florida.

She said her love of the sport started at an early age and was passed down by her mother, who died in 2013.

“She’s the one who introduced me to the game when I was 3,” Smith shared. “She is a diehard Yankees fan. She would actually be cringing if she saw me even in the [Red Sox] sweatshirt right now.”

Still, Smith said her mom was the person who motivated her as a kid.

“She was the one who pushed me to play softball,” said Smith. “And she was the one who pushed me to just pursue my dream.”

In 2019, 33-year-old Rachel Balkovec was hired by the Yankees as the first full-time female hitting coach in the minor leagues.

“I mean the first word that comes to mind is just gratitude, just so many people involved and not just the men who have supported me and hired me, but also women that have come before me, so just really grateful,” Balkovec told GMA.

Her role with the Yankees isn’t the first time she’s made history in professional baseball. In 2014, she was hired by the St. Louis Cardinals as the first full-time female strength and conditioning coordinator in the minor leagues.

Balkovec said her mission is not just to excel as a coach on the field, but also be a “visible idea” to young girls of what’s possible since she said she didn’t have women working in baseball as role models when she was growing up. She uses social media to share her message as well as work as a mentor with young women.

“I just understand that when I signed the paperwork with a major league organization. … I just understood that I was signing up for two jobs,” Balkovec shared. “I just know that being a visible idea is something that I know I need to do, but also what is on my heart and what I want to do.”

As women breaking into a male-dominated industry, Balkovec and Smith said there are roadblocks and barriers that come with it.

“With some perspective, I just always say, being an underdog is an advantage, and I’m glad that I had a longer path,” Balkovec explained. “It’s a gift when someone doesn’t respect you upfront and you have to earn it, because it means that much more when you do earn their respect.”

Smith agreed, adding, “It’s that much more fun when people underestimate you and you prove them wrong.”

Alyssa Nakken, 30, who made history as the first female full-time coach hired by a major league team when she was promoted to assistant coach by the San Francisco Giants, echoed Balkovec and Smith’s outlook on breaking barriers in a male-dominated industry.

“Naturally we tend to just fall into comfort zones and like linear paths … and I think what’s really the most fun and interesting is when you sort of take a step or a turn off that path and then find yourself in a position that has never been done before,” Nakken said. “And then you can help guide and lead the way in helping others get to where they may not know where their ceiling is, and you may be able to help them find something that they never thought that they could do before.”

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.