BCB to prepare ‘shadow national team’

Among a number of decisions during a board meeting yesterday, the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) decided to prepare a shadow national cricket team named ‘Bangladesh Tigers’ in their attempt to have players ready to spring into the national team action at any given moment.

The board also found no evidence surrounding any allegations of intentionally poor umpiring in the ongoing Bangabandhu Dhaka Premier Division T20 League. An inquiry was made regarding the issue but none of the participating teams lodged any complaints.

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BCB president Nazmul Hassan, speaking after the meeting, clarified the reason behind forming the Bangladesh Tigers.

“It has come to our knowledge that the players who don’t get called for the national team… or if someone is dropped then they don’t even get to practice. It’s a major problem. Addressing this issue, we came up with a solution. We will prepare a shadow national team where players who are dropped from the national squad or don’t get a call up for the national side will be included. They will practice year-round under BCB-issued local coaches who will be guided by the national team head coach,” Hassan explained.

“They can practice and will receive all the facilities that the national team get. Basically, we made this decision because it happens that we chop and change players in the national team on a trial and error basis. That won’t be the case anymore as we will have selected players practice for a selected position and if anyone from the national team fails, then only a player of that position will replace him.”

It was also decided at the meeting that the annual budget for the BCB for the year 2021-2022 will be 260 crores. The board is yet to finalise the list of the central contracts for the national side. The list will contain 18-20 players and will be announced in the next 2-3 days once the Cricket Operations Committee makes a few final tweaks and changes. The board’s AGM will be held on July 7.

However, a 22-member list of central contract for the women’s national team has already been approved.

The board also intends to bid for hosting rights for one of the two Champions Trophy tournaments that will be held in the cycle from 2024-2031.

The board also announced that the tenure of the current selection panel, whose date has expired, has been extended till the next T20 World Cup in October-November.


Messi frustrated after Chile draw

Argentina superstar Lionel Messi scored a stunning freekick but Chile hit back to earn a 1-1 draw in the Copa America on Monday.

Messi’s magical left foot gave dominant Argentina a deserved first half lead but Eduardo Vargas equalized in the second half after Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez saved veteran midfielder Arturo Vidal’s penalty.

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Despite Argentina’s dominance, Messi lamented that “we weren’t calm, we didn’t have control of the ball.”

His coach Lionel Scaloni saw things differently, though.

“We deserved to win but in the end we drew. In any case, it’s only the start of a very tough tournament,” said Scaloni.

Before the Group A game started in the Nelson Santos stadium in Rio de Janeiro, there was a light and effects tribute to Argentina legend Diego Maradona, who died in November aged 60, although the ground was empty due to coronavirus restrictions.

The first chance fell to Messi on eight minutes as Leandro Paredes picked out Nicolas Tagliafico on the left and the fullback nodded the ball down for his captain, who sent a volley wide.

Minutes later, Giovani Lo Celso crossed from the left but a sliding Lautaro Martinez could only spoon the ball over the bar from inside the six-yard box.

Argentina were in total command and Lo Celso picked out Nicolas Gonzalez to shoot from 20 yards but goalkeeper Claudio Bravo got down well to his right to tip the ball around the post.

From Messi’s corner Gonzalez headed over the bar and moments later he was released by Lo Celos but shot straight at Bravo.

It would be a frustrating night for Gonzalez.

Argentina got the goal their domination deserved on 33 minutes, and inevitably it was Messi who scored, curling a free-kick from 25 yards out just beyond Bravo’s dive.

They should have had a second soon afterwards but teed up by Gonzalo Montiel 10 yards out, Martinez screwed his shot horribly wide.

“I would be worried if the team wasn’t creating chances. The important thing is we are, we’re getting lots of players in the box. And it will go in,” said Scaloni.

– ‘Defiant’ Chileans –

Chile started the second half with more intent and Erick Pulgar played Vargas into the area but his shot on the stretch was saved by Martinez.

However, Vidal stormed in to try to fire home the rebound and was caught by Tagliafico as he shot.

Referee Wilmar Roldan consulted VAR and then awarded a penalty.

Martinez tipped Vidal’s effort onto the crossbar but Vargas was quickest to the ball to head home the equalizer.

Argentina were soon back on the attack but Chile centre-back Gary Medel blocked a volley from Gonzalez, who later headed over from a Messi free-kick.

Twenty minutes from time, Messi created space in the box but Bravo was down well to save his low shot.

Gonzalez’s night to forget would get worse 10 minutes from time when he ran onto a perfect chipped pass from Messi but headed over from just seven yards out when it looked easier to score.

It was his last involvement as he was substituted before Bravo took the goalkick.

Argentina kept pushing but Messi headed over the bar in injury time as Chile held on for a point.

“This team didn’t want to be beaten, even though they didn’t play well. This group of players are defiant,” said Chile coach Martin Lasarte.

Angel Romero scored twice as Paraguay bounced back to beat 10-man Bolivia 3-1 in Goiania and top Group A.

Erwin Saavedra gave Bolivia the lead from the penalty spot on 10 minutes after a long VAR review.

Paraguay dominated throughout but the game changed deep into first half stoppage time when Bolivia’s Jaume Cuellar was sent off for a second booking.

Alejandro Romero Gamarra restored parity just past the hour mark and Romero put Paraguay in front three minutes later.

Romero sealed the win 10 minutes from time as Paraguay enjoyed almost 80 percent possession and had more than 30 shots.

The Copa was due to take place last year but was delayed by 12 months due to the coronavirus.

It was also switched from original hosts Argentina and Colombia to Brazil at the 11th hour due to the pandemic situation in the former and social unrest in the latter.

Brazil’s health ministry issued a statement on Monday saying 31 members of the playing delegations, including players and staff, tested positive for the coronavirus on Sunday, without giving further details.


‘I’m fine’: Eriksen greets from hospital bed

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen said he was feeling “fine — under the circumstances” and expressed gratitude for the flood of messages he had received after he suffered a cardiac arrest during their Euro 2020 opener on Saturday.

“Big thanks for your sweet and amazing greetings and messages from all around the world. It means a lot to me and my family,” Eriksen said in a post on the national team’s Instagram profile. “I’m fine — under the circumstances.”

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The post was accompanied by a picture of the 29-year-old lying in a hospital bed, smiling and giving a ‘thumbs up’.

“But I feel okay. Now, I will cheer on the boys on the Denmark team in the next matches, Play for all of Denmark,” he added.

Eriksen collapsed just before halftime in the match against Finland and was taken to hospital after receiving CPR on the pitch.


France face Germany as Portugal begin title defence

Reigning champions Portugal begin their defence of the trophy against Hungary at Euro 2020 in Budapest on Tuesday as World Cup holders France take on Germany in a hotly-anticipated clash between two of the continent’s heavyweights.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal are set to have the honour of a full house in the Hungarian capital, with the Puskas Arena the only one of the 11 venues at this European Championship where there are no Covid-19 limits on the number of fans allowed.

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“It’s perfect. I wish every single venue could host a full house. It’s great for viewers and players, but sadly it’s not up to us to decide,” said Ronaldo of the prospect of a crowd of up to 68,000 watching the first of Tuesday’s two matches at the tournament in Group F.

Ronaldo is 36 now and aiming to score in a fifth different European Championship finals.

He needs just one more goal to become the outright top scorer in the tournament, and is just five goals away from equalling the all-time international scoring record of 109 held by Iran’s Ali Daei.

But, from Ruben Dias to Bruno Fernandes and Joao Felix, there is also an outstanding team behind him and Portugal are hopeful of retaining the title they won at Euro 2016 in France.

“Right now we think we have what it takes to win the cup,” said coach Fernando Santos.

Hungary are the rank outsiders in the group but are hoping to make the most of their home advantage.

‘All-time great’ game

That game will be followed by the mouthwatering showdown in Munich as the world champions face a Germany side eager to make up for their desperate showing at the World Cup in Russia, when they were knocked out in the group stage.

Les Bleus come into the tournament as firm favourites thanks to their status as World Cup holders and after coach Didier Deschamps decided to recall Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema from a five-and-a-half-year international exile.

France lost 1-0 to Germany in the 2014 World Cup quarter-finals in Rio de Janeiro but are unbeaten in the five meetings between the sides since, including a 2-0 win in the Euro 2016 semi-finals.

“This fixture brings back happy memories and not so happy memories,” said France goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris. “It is one of the all-time great major tournament fixtures.”

Germany are under pressure to perform in front of a home support at Munich’s Allianz Arena as they come into their final tournament under coach Joachim Loew, who will stand down as coach after the finals following 15 years in charge.

“The spirit is very good and the team is hungry for success. That makes me confident and allows me to sleep peacefully,” Loew said.

In stark contrast to Budapest, authorities in Munich are only allowing around 14,500 fans into the Allianz Arena for games, equivalent to about 20 percent of capacity.


Kucherov contributes 3 helpers as Lightning level series with Islanders

Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat delivered early goals and NHL playoff scoring leader Nikita Kucherov had three more assists to help the Tampa Bay Lightning rebound from a series-opening loss and beat the New York Islanders 4-2 in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup semifinals on Tuesday night.

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov, right, celebrates with teammate Brayden Point during a 4-2 win over the New York Islanders in Game 2 of their Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Tuesday. (Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

The Tampa Bay Lightning are running out of superlatives to describe the playmaking ability of NHL playoff scoring leader Nikita Kucherov.

“He’s remarkably gifted … does everything with grace,” coach Jon Cooper said Tuesday night after one of the league’s most creative scorers had three more assists to help the defending Stanley Cup champions even the Stanley Cup semifinals with a 4-2 win over the New York Islanders in Game 2.

“He’s just so smooth in the plays he makes, his vision and how he can see and make plays,” Cooper added. “It almost looks effortless. … I know it’s not. He works at doing what he does extremely well. But he sure can make plays out of what looks like nothing. … And, he is fun to watch.”

Kucherov had his fourth game with three or more points this postseason, assisting on goals by Brayden Point, Ondrej Palat and Victor Hedman as the defending champions improved to 12-0 in games following a playoff loss since start of last year’s title run.

WATCH | Kucherov sets up Palat to give Lightning the lead:

NHL playoff scoring leader Nikita Kucherov records 3 assists in Tampa Bay’s 4-2 victory over New York in Game 2 of their Stanley Cup semifinal series. 0:56

Point scored a goal for the fifth straight game, hiking his league-leading playoff total to 10. Palat put Tampa Bay ahead for good with a second-period goal that replays showed was scored with the Lightning having too many men on the ice.

“It was missed, that’s hockey,” New York winger Matt Martin said. “It happens, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Move on to the next game at home and focus on that.”

Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 24 of 26 shots for the Lightning, who entered Tuesday night facing a series deficit for the first time since dropping Game 1 of last year’s Stanley Cup final against the Dallas Stars.

“We knew they were going to come with a good response,” Islanders centre Brock Nelson said. “I thought we did a pretty good job out of the gates. But they were able to get a couple and get the lead and we weren’t able to get it back.”

Hedman and Jan Rutta scored in the third period against Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov, who missed a portion of the opening period after a collision with Point a little over 13 minutes into the game.

WATCH | Goaltenders at forefront of NHL playoff picture:

Tampa Bay forward Brayden Point is pushed by Islanders defenceman Adam Pelech. Point collides into Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov who is shaken up on the play. Varlamov would have to leave the game but would return for the start of the 2nd period. Point is given a penalty and the Lightning would go on to score on the resulting power-play. 1:33

Nelson and Mathew Barzal scored unassisted goals for New York, which — despite the loss — will return home feeling good about itself heading into Game 3 Thursday night.

“We can be a lot better and we will be,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said.

“I thought the first two periods we were pretty good for the most part. We knew a very good hockey team was going to have a desperate push,” Trotz added. “Obviously the second goal hurt quite a bit because now if they get the third one there’s a little bit more separation. And … there were too many men on the ice. Seven guys. That was disappointing.”

Point, pushed from behind by New York’s Adam Pelech, barrelled into Varlamov at 6:50 of the first period. The Lightning star drew a penalty for interference on the goalie, and the Islanders wasted no time taking advantage of what Tampa Bay felt was a questionable call.

Nelson’s goal from in front of the net tied it 1-1 just 20 seconds into the power play.

Ilya Sorokin replaced Varlamov for the remainder of the first period. He stopped all six shots he faced before Varlamov, who allowed four goals on 27 shots, returned.

WATCH | Islanders’ Varlamov exits for remainder of 1st frame after collision:

Playoffs are proving what most hockey fans already know, you need solid goaltending to win a Stanley Cup. 3:46


Kevin Durant authors masterpiece to lead Nets’ 17-point comeback win over Bucks

Kevin Durant had 49 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists in one of the most spectacular performances in postseason history, sending the Brooklyn Nets back into the lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals with a 114-108 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 5 on Tuesday night.

Brooklyn forward Kevin Durant shoots as Milwaukee guard Pat Connaughton defends during the fourth quarter of the Nets’ 114-108 Game 5 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in their second-round playoff series on Tuesday. (Kathy Willens/The Associated Press)

Kevin Durant has always been one of the NBA’s most unstoppable scorers.

The Brooklyn Nets needed much more than points Tuesday night, so Durant gave them one of the most spectacular performances in postseason history.

Durant had 49 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists, sending the Nets back into the lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals with a 114-108 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 5.

“I know the perception of me is that I can score the basketball well, but any team that I’ve played on, I’ve been asked to do pretty much everything from rebounding to defending to initiating to scoring,” Durant said. “I might not do it all the time but I do a little bit of everything.”

In Game 5, it was a whole lot of everything.

The two-time NBA Finals MVP became the first player to have at least 45 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in a playoff game.

“Historic, historic performance,” Nets coach Steve Nash said.

SPEECHLESS. pic.twitter.com/h4d5VoFdTf


With James Harden returning but delivering little offence and Kyrie Irving out, Durant played all 48 minutes and shot 16 for 23 from the field. The four-time scoring champion had 20 points in the fourth quarter, perhaps the biggest shot a 3-pointer with 50 seconds left and the Nets protecting a one-point lead.

“The injuries that he’s been through, to come back even from the Achilles to the hamstring to get back in this position, the world is witnessing, once again, who is the best player in the world,” Nets forward Jeff Green said.

No argument from the Bucks.

“He’s the best player in the world right now and we’ve got to beat him as a team,” Antetokounmpo said. “We’ve got to guard him as a team. We’ve got to make him make tough shots like tonight. We’ve just got to keep doing our job and hopefully he’s going to miss.”

Harden plays through injury

Harden played for the first time since leaving 43 seconds into the series opener with right hamstring tightness. He shot just 1 for 10 and missed all eight 3-pointers, but had eight assists and six rebounds while playing 46 minutes.

“I woke up and was like, ‘You know what? Let’s go,”‘ Harden said. “I tried to go out there and do the best I can. Hopefully I gave my teammates some encouragement and some life.”

Game 6 is Thursday in Milwaukee, where the Bucks are 4-0 against the Nets this season.

Antetokounmpo had 34 points and 12 rebounds, while Khris Middleton added 25 points.

The Bucks had all the momentum after winning the two games in Milwaukee, with Irving spraining his ankle in the second quarter of Game 4. It appeared Durant would be the only one of the three superstars to play Tuesday — which given the way he played, may have been enough anyway.

The Nets originally ruled Harden out on Monday, then upgraded him Tuesday first to doubtful and then questionable. He worked out before the game and seemed to be moving well, jogging off the court into the tunnel after his warmup before being cleared to play.

But he didn’t appear to have full strength in his leg, leaving jumpers short and rarely beating anyone on the dribble.

‘Special performance’

Durant made sure it didn’t matter.

“Special performance by him,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Credit to him, some tough shots, so we’ve got to look at it, figure out getting better.”

Pretty sure Steve Nash is a big fan of coaching Kevin Durant 😂 pic.twitter.com/jNDyUiLIi1


The Nets were 4 for 20 in the first quarter, 2 for 13 on 3-pointers, and Middleton’s three-point play with 33 seconds left gave Milwaukee a 29-1 lead after one.

Durant’s basket got it down to 42-33 before Antetokounmpo rattled in a 3-pointer and follow with two more baskets to push the lead to 16, which is where it still was when the Bucks took a 59-43 lead to the half.

The Bucks still led by 16 midway through the third quarter, answering every time the Nets seemed to have any momentum. But Durant then got hot and never really cooled off.

He made all four shots and scored 11 points in the final 6:18 of the third as the Nets pulled to 87-81 on his three-point play with 31 seconds left.

Durant kept right on going to open the fourth, with his 3-pointer with 8:36 to play making it 94-93, Brooklyn’s first lead since it was 2-0.


Spurred by strange own goal, Canada reaches final stage of World Cup qualifying

Helped by an own goal and strikes by Cyle Larin and Junior Hoilett, Canada dispatched Haiti 3-0 on the night and 4-0 on aggregate to advance to the final round of World Cup qualifying in CONCACAF.

Alphonso Davies, right, goes past Haiti’s Steeven Saba during the first half of Canada’s 2-0 win to advance in 2022 World Cup qualifying on Tuesday. (Kamil Krzaczynski/The Associated Press)

Now the adventure really begins.

Helped by an own goal and strikes by Cyle Larin and Junior Hoilett, Canada dispatched Haiti 3-0 on Tuesday night and 4-0 on aggregate to advance to the final round of World Cup qualifying in CONCACAF.

The Canadian men, who last reached the final qualifying round in 1996-97 in the lead-up to France ’98, now join the heavyweights in CONCACAF, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean. The eight-country final round includes Mexico (ranked No. 11) the U.S. (No. 20), Jamaica (No. 45), Costa Rica (No. 50) and Honduras (No. 67), who received byes as the top five teams in the region.

The 70th-ranked Canadians joined them the hard way, slogging through two rounds and six games in qualifying, all during a pandemic. They have earned themselves at least 14 more qualifying matches and the chance to make soccer’s showcase for the first time since 1986.

“It’s just a proud moment for us all,” said Canada coach John Herdman, who has overseen a remarkable turnaround in the men’s program since taking charge in January 2018. “We’ll enjoy the moment. But at the same time we’ve just got to stay humble now, because tomorrow the focus shifts on to the big mountain. And that big mountain is one of the most exciting mountains I think this whole country has got to try and climb together.

“And that’s where I’m inviting all of you guys to come on that mountain climb with us. Because it’s happening. We did it.”

WATCH | Own goal gives Canada lead:

Haitian goalie Josué Duverger, who is Canadian-born, completely misplays the ball and scores on own goal to give Canada a 2-0 lead on aggregate in the 2nd half. 1:47

Panama and El Salvador joined Canada in making it out of the second-round playoffs, the last three teams standing from the 29-country first round.

Earlier Tuesday, No. 78 Panama held No. 76 Curacao to a 0-0 draw for a 2-1 aggregate win. No. 69 El Salvador downed No. 135 St. Kitts and Nevis to advance 6-0 on aggregate.

The eight teams in the so-called Octagonal final round will play each other home and away starting in September with the top three finishers booking their ticket to Qatar 2022. The fourth-place team will take part in an intercontinental playoff to see who joins them.

Canada will open in September at home to Honduras before facing the U.S. on the road and hosting El Salvador. That will be followed by three matches in October, two in November, three in January and three in March.

The hope is pandemic-related travel restrictions will be eased by then, allowing Canada to finally play a game at home.

We coming! #CANMNT #WCQ2022 pic.twitter.com/wsWfcSMze4


Canada came into Tuesday night’s match at SeatGeek Stadium against No. 83 Haiti needing a win or a draw to advance in the wake of Saturday’s 1-0 win in Port-au-Prince on a 14th-minute goal by Larin.

Canada came on as the first half wore on, with a string of late chances off set pieces. But Haiti, despite missing some players who were unable to make the trip, somehow survived the pressure to go into the changing rooms scoreless at halftime with Montreal-born goalkeeper Josue Duverger standing tall.

But a 46th-minute blunder by the 21-year-old Duverger extended Canada’s aggregate lead when the ‘keeper misplayed a routine back pass from Kevin LaFrance. Duverger missed the ball with his attempted first touch and, when he went to control it with his right foot, it bounced in off his left as Jonathan David steamed towards him.

“These mistakes at this level, you put blood in the water for any of these top teams and they take it,” said Herdman. “After that goal you could sense it. It was almost like the bottle top had been released for the guys. And they could just drop their shoulders and let the talent start to flow.”

Herdman revealed that he had his players practise penalties the night before the game, asking each to make three. That took a while for some, which led to the turf in the penalty box where Duverger had his misfortune getting cut up a bit.

“The goalkeeper coach came up and said ‘Look, you’re wrecking my six-yard box.’ And we were, to be fair,” Herdman said.

Alphonso Davies and David once again proved to be a dangerous combination. Along with Larin, they created plenty of chances but could not finish them — until the 74th minute.

WATCH | Larin strike helps lift Canada over Haiti:

Canada defeats Haiti with a 4-0 aggregate victory. The Canadians advance to the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying for the first time since 1997. 1:31

LaFrance was unable to corral a long ball from Alistair Johnston and Larin pounced, beating Ricardo Ade before slipping a shot through Duverger for his 15th goal for Canada.

Hoilett made it 3-0 off the bench, knocking in his own rebound in the 89th minute after hitting the goalpost for his 11th international goal.

Herdman made one change to the starting lineup from the first leg on Tuesday. Defender Doneil Henry came in for Richie Laryea with Johnston moving up to wingback. The starting 11 came into the match with a combined 240 caps.

The Haitian Football Federation said goalkeeper/captain Johny Placide, defenders Alex Christian and Martin Experience, and striker Carnejy Antoine were unable to join the team on the trip to suburban Chicago because of U.S. COVID-19 travel restrictions. Placide and Christian started in the Port-au-Prince game. Former CF Montreal midfielder Steeven Saba started for Haiti.

As in the first game, the physical Haitians took no prisoners.

WATCH | Canada earns away win to open 2-game set:

Cyle Larin scored in the 14th minute to push Canada to a 1-0 victory in the 1st leg of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifier against Haiti. 1:11

Canada had 61 per cent of possession in the first half, outshooting Haiti 8-2 (4-1 in shots on target) with a 7-3 edge in corners. The Canadians ended up outshooting Haiti 18-4 (8-1 in shots in target).

Canada had an early appeal for a penalty denied when David went down in the penalty box. But Canada began to turn the screw with David, Davies and Larin making inroads onto the Haiti defence.

Duverger, making himself big at the near post, made three straight saves in one sequence to deny David from in-close in the 33rd minute after Davies dribbled his way into the penalty box and found his teammate.

The Canadians had already dispatched Suriname (No. 136), Bermuda (No. 168), the Cayman Islands (No. 194) and Aruba (No. 205) in World Cup qualifying outscoring the five teams 27-1.

“It’s just an amazing feeling. It’s a pleasure to represent this country ,” said veteran goalkeeper Milan Borjan, who was born in the former Yugoslavia and came to Canada with his family when he was 13. “It’s a pleasure to give back something to this country because this country has helped me and my family come to a better life.”


Yankees erase 3-run deficit as Blue Jays allow latest lead to slip away

Clint Frazier snapped an eighth-inning tie with a pinch-hit double and the New York Yankees hit three solo homers in a much-needed 6-5 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night.

New York Yankees infielder Tyler Wade celebrates after scoring a run during a 6-5 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday. (Joshua Bessex/Getty Images)

Clint Frazier snapped an eighth-inning tie with a pinch-hit double and the New York Yankees hit three solo homers in a much-needed 6-5 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night.

Frazier ripped a line drive inside the third-base line to score pinch-runner Tyler Wade from second as the Yankees completed a comeback from a 5-2 deficit and won for the third time in 10 games. The game was played before a Buffalo crowd of 7,145, mostly in support of New York.

“I was trying to be disciplined and hit a fastball,” Frazier said after coming through against reliever Jordan Romano. “I was a little bit early on it and just glad to keep it inside the base. The most important thing we’ve done as a team is stick together. We’re trying to go out and win ballgames and tonight it took everybody.”

Chris Gittens homered for his first major league hit, Gary Sanchez socked a leadoff homer in the second and Brett Gardner added a leadoff shot in the seventh that brought the Yankees to 5-4.

“I touched first base and my mind just went blank,” Gittens said. “I didn’t care if it was a home run or a base hit, a little squibber. That was an amazing feeling.”

Who called Bo the Designated Hitter and not the Bat Man?

Anyway, here’s his 2-run single: pic.twitter.com/5ZjTb8K2dd


Gardner made a bold prediction as Gittens went to the plate.

“Gardy walked by me five seconds before, and said, ‘Skip, he’s going deep,”‘ Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “He’s had some competitive at-bats and to finally step on one and get us closer was big.”

Bo Bichette homered and had a two-run single for the Blue Jays. Santiago Espinal added three hits for Toronto, which has lost four of six.

Jonathan Loaisiga (6-2) worked one inning to earn the win. Tim Mayza (1-1) allowed a leadoff single to Miguel Andujar in the eighth and took the loss. Aroldis Chapman worked a perfect ninth for his 13th save.

Toronto starter Hyun Jin Ryu limited New York to five hits over six innings, but issued a season-high four walks.

Jordan Montgomery allowed five hits and four walks with four strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings for New York.

Bichette led off the third with his 14th homer to give Toronto a 2-1 lead. Gittens countered with a 439-foot shot to left-centre in the fourth that tied it at 2.

Toronto took a 3-2 lead in the fourth when Joe Panik scored on a passed ball, and went up 5-2 on Bichette’s single.

DJ LeMahieu scored on Anthony Castro’s wild pitch in the seventh to tie the game at 5.

The Blue Jays threatened in the eighth, loading the bases with two outs before Bichette flied out.


Athlete memo: Play nice in Tokyo or face warning, fine or expulsion from Olympics

If athletes coming to Japan for the Tokyo Olympics needed a warning, they got it Tuesday as officials rolled out the third and final rendition of so-called Playbooks — the rulebooks governing behaviour for these pandemic-tainted games.

During a news briefing Tuesday, Olympic operations director Pierre Ducrey Ducrey said the range of punishments for athletes who don’t follow the rules in Tokyo could range from a warning, to temporary or permanent expulsion from the Games, to withdrawal of accreditation or a fine. (Behrouz Mehri/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

If athletes coming to Japan for the Tokyo Olympics needed a warning, they got it Tuesday as officials rolled out the third and final rendition of so-called Playbooks — the rulebooks governing behaviour for these pandemic-tainted games.

The message: Follow the rules when the Olympics open in just over five weeks, or else expect a warning or a fine — or anything in between.

“Respect the Playbook, respect the rules,” said Olympics executive director Christophe Dubi, speaking remotely with Tokyo organizers.

The Playbooks rolled out Tuesday were for athletes. But updates for others like media, broadcasters, sponsors, and so forth will come within the next few days, and all the Playbook rules are quite similar.

Officials say 15,400 athletes are expected for the Olympics and Paralympics. The Olympics open on July 23 followed by the Paralympic on Aug. 24.

Including athletes, the total number expected for both events, factoring in media, broadcasters, Olympic Family, sponsors and others is about 93,000.

All those entering Japan for the Olympics will be required to follow complex testing rules — before leaving home and after arriving.

WATCH | Athletes gear up for Summer Games:

With less than two months out until the Tokyo Summer Games, athletes are in the home stretch– vying for COVID-19 vaccinations during the last legs of their training. 2:30

They must also agree to have their location monitored by GPS, download several apps, sign a pledge to follow the rules, maintain social distancing, stay off public transportation for the first 14 days and keep organizers informed of your whereabouts.

“We expect everybody to follow the rules. But we also have to be aware there could be infractions,” said Olympics operations director Pierre Ducrey, also speaking remotely.

“Yes, we expect you to play by the rules, but if you don’t there will be sanctions that could be coming your way.”

Disciplinary commission to determine financial penalties

Ducrey said the range of punishments could go from a warning, to temporary or permanent expulsion from the Olympics, to withdrawal of accreditation or a fine. Officials also suggested the Japanese government has the power of deportation, and individual sports federations and national Olympic committees may have their own penalties.

Dubi declined to offer specifics about possible financial penalties. He said that would be determined by a disciplinary commission. But he said rules would apply “before, during and after” athletes compete.

“It is to reinforce the message, which is: The Playbooks are there to be followed. No transgressions,” Dubi said.

Dubi suggested athletes or national federations would have insurance coverage for most eventualities.

“Then there are a number of cases for which the risks cannot be covered, and this is then the responsibility of the participants,” Dubi said. He said this was standard practice in the sports industry.

The International Olympic Committee says over 80 per cent of those staying in the Olympic Village will be fully vaccinated. This contrasts with about five per cent of the Japanese population that has been vaccinated in a slow rollout that is just now speeding up.

The Japanese medical community has largely opposed holding these Olympics in Tokyo, arguing the risks are too great. The government’s main medical adviser Dr. Shigeru Omi has said it’s “abnormal” to hold the Olympics during a pandemic.

The second version of the Playbooks, published in April, was criticized last month in an editorial by The New England Journal of Medicine that said, among other things, that the Playbooks “are not built on scientifically rigorous risk assessment.”

Decision expected soon on having local fans at Games

Tokyo and other regions of the country remain under a state of emergency that expires on Sunday. Reports in Japan suggest the government is likely to lift the state of emergency but still impose rules on restaurant hours and other businesses that draw crowds.

The IOC is pushing ahead with all the contortions, partly because it gets almost 75 per cent of its revenue from selling broadcast rights. That income flow has been stalled during the postponement of the Tokyo Games.

In addition, Japan has officially spent $15.4 billion US on organizing the Olympics, although government audits say the figure is much larger.

WATCH | Explaining 1st Playbook:

With less than six months to go to the Tokyo Olympics, organizers have said the Games will go on no matter what. Now, they’ve released some preliminary guidelines explaining how that will happen. 1:37

Jeff Shell, who heads NBCUniversal, said this week these Olympics might be the most profitable ever, despite the pandemic.

NBC, the American rights holder, is the single largest source of IOC income, representing about 40% of total income. It paid the IOC about $4.4 billion for four Olympics from 2014 through 2020, and $7.75 billion more for six games — 2022 through 2032.

John Coates, the IOC vice president in charge of Tokyo preparations, arrived in Tokyo from Australia on Tuesday. He has been a controversial figure in Japan, saying the postponed Olympics would go ahead even if the country were under a state of emergency.

Officials last week said he would be quarantined for three days, followed by 11 days of restricted activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

WATCH | Answers to key questions surrounding the Tokyo Olympics:

There’s less than 100 days to go until the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, which are full steam ahead despite the pandemic. Here are the answers to the biggest questions surrounding the competition. 3:41


Player’s Own Voice podcast: Andre De Grasse, faster and wiser than ever

The Player’s Own Voice podcast has returned for a fourth season. New episodes before, during and after Tokyo. This week: Canada’s star sprinter Andre De Grasse.

Canada’s Andre De Grasse joins the latest episode of CBC Sports’ Player’s Own Voice podcast. (Nariman El-Mofty/The Canadian Press)

Andre De Grasse, Canada’s top sprinter, was a very young man when he dashed his way to international stardom at the Rio Olympics.

Five years later, the phenomenal athlete has evolved into a competitor who seems wise beyond his years.

He’s a plugged-in and thoughtful parent now, who credits his three-year-old daughter with teaching him patience at practically every waking hour. He’s also a published author, having filled his unplanned pandemic down time with dedicated writing practice. Run With Me is an inspirational children’s book about mindfulness and perseverance.

De Grasse is healthier now too, having learned patience the hard way while enduring the long and bumpy process of rehabbing a nagging hamstring injury.

The only area in which De Grasse remains unchanged, we are delighted to learn in today’s new Player’s Own Voice podcast episode, is in his approach to big race days. De Grasse has always had an instinct for saving his best performances until they matter most. And right now, he’s focused like a missile on his Olympic performance in Tokyo.

Player’s Own Voice podcast host Anastasia Bucsis has made it her mission to get to know the person inside the athlete, and De Grasse is happy to oblige. This is a revealing chat with a thoughtful young man whose greatest feats may still be yet to come.

Something new from Player’s Own Voice this season: this will be CBC Sports’ first podcast to lead into, go straight through and then follow up after the Summer Olympics. We’re stoked to sit down with athletes at the pinnacle of their careers.

Like the CBC Sports’ Player’s Own Voice essay series, POV podcast lets athletes speak to Canadians about issues from a personal perspective. To listen to the entire fourth season, subscribe for free on Spotify, iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Tune In or wherever you do your other podcast listening.