Mon. Jun 1st, 2020

Around The Leagues

A massive insurance payout, interesting alternatives to a traditional baseball season, and another chapter in the Antonio Brown story round out the stories from around the sports world you may have missed during the last week

With leagues across the globe shut down due to the global health crisis, sports news seems to have slowed down. However, it certainly has not come to a halt. Here are some of the top stories you may have missed:

Wimbledon Receives Massive Insurance Payout

Wimbledon, which was scheduled to begin on June 29, like so many other events across the world, will not be taking place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The inability to hold such events is having devastating effects on league, individual team and tournament balance sheets. These entities are missing out on ticket revenue, broadcasting deals and sponsorship money, causing financial strains and putting local economies — not to mention the thousands of workers who are responsible for making these events run — into quite a bind. 

Wimbledon, thanks to what now appears to be brilliant foresight, will not suffer as drastically as many of these other entities will. After the SARS outbreak which appeared in 2002, the All-England Club, which is best known as the venue for Wimbledon, began to pay into an insurance policy that guarded against losses in the case of a worldwide pandemic. Cue coronavirus. Over the past 17 years, an estimated $34 million dollars has been paid into the fund, which will pay out around $140 million dollars. While this is an exorbitant amount of money, it only accounts for about half of what Wimbledon is expected to lose (something in the ballpark of $310 million, per Forbes) due to the events cancellation.

Major League Baseball Considering Options to Begin ASAP

According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the point where the MLB has to make a major decision — whether they should begin their season in an entirely different format than what the league is accustomed to, or should cancel it all-together — is fast approaching. One idea league officials brainstormed is to play the entirety of the season split between Florida and Arizona. The proposed plan, as reported by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, would divide MLB teams between the two states based on where the teams spring training facilities are located. Thus, the divisions would be completely reworked, and there would be no interplay between the leagues until the World Series. 

The Cactus league (which would take place in Arizona) and the Grapefruit league (which would take place in Florida) would each be split into three divisions. At this point in time it is unclear how many games each team would play during the season. Supposedly, the winner of each division and one wild card team from each league would make it to the postseason. The games would take place without fans and in lower-density areas, which would decrease public health risks. The idea is speculative at this point, but would solve some of the biggest challenges facing the MLB at present. 

Other ideas have been floated around, such as all teams playing all games in Arizona between 10 spring training facilities and the Diamondbacks’ Chase Field. Players would be functionally isolated, traveling only between their hotel and the ballparks. 

These plans do not solve all of MLB’s problems. For one, they would necessitate players to be separated from their families for at least a few months until the league can return to some sense of normalcy. Whether that would happen during the latter part of this season or not until the 2022 season is undecided. What path the league will take is unclear, but fans can expect some indication of how the season might shape up sometime soon.

Antonio Brown Seeking to Return to NFL for 2021-22 Season

And so, the Antonio Brown saga continues. Just a year after being introduced in Oakland, stating “I bring accountability, I bring actions. Not what I say, what I do. How I approach things,” and then subsequently protesting the NFL banning his preferred helmet, being suspended by his team for conduct violations, issuing an emotional apology, being fined over $200 thousand for “conduct detrimental to the team”, asking for a release via instagram, signing with the Patriots, having a civil suit filed against him for three incidences of sexual assault, being released by the Patriots and reenrolling at Cetral Michigan University, Brown has begun to plot his return to the NFL.

Even in the wake of a global pandemic, Brown has continued to make headlines. Brown recently flirted with the idea of fighting YouTuber Logan Paul on Twitter, tweeting out “Should I fight @LoganPaul for 4.1m with possibly 8.2m raise?! I’ll donate proceeds to charity … he keep coming at me about this non-stop.” More recently, Brown has pledged to, like so many other athletes, assist his community during these trying times. He tweeted “Liberty City Miami I’m coming back to the block this weekend and every weekend following to donate food, tissue, sanitizer and masks. We will be set up at the Corner Store on 58 terrace and 17th ave. Stayed tuned for the time tomorrow. Social Distancing will take place.” on April 10. And, while we should absolutely applaud Brown for giving back, this tweet looks strangely different from literally every other post on his account. 

However, Brown isn’t solely focused on fighting YouTubers and trying to finally be a good person. According to CBSsports.com, Brown has hired agent Ed Wasielewksi to represent him. Wasielewski, like Brown, has a huge personality (although nowhere near the size of Brown’s) as evidenced by the fact that he is best known as the co-creator of “The Agent,” a reality TV show about pro sports agents.

Despite all he has done over the past year, the fact remains that Brown is one of the most talented wide receivers of his generation. It is unclear if a team will be willing to give the former All-Pro wide receiver a chance though, especially considering that he has a felony and two misdemeanors hanging over his head in addition to the allegations of sexual assault.