Tuesday Sports in Brief – The San Diego Union-Tribune

BASEBALL

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Shohei Ohtani won The Associated Press’ Male Athlete of the Year award after the Los Angeles Angels’ two-way superstar and unanimous American League MVP put together a season with no analogue in the past century of his sport.

No one else had been an everyday two-way player in the better part of the past century. Nobody has been both one of baseball’s top power hitters and one of its best starting pitchers since Babe Ruth starred at the plate and on the mound in 1919.

Ohtani hit 46 homers and drove in 100 runs with a .965 OPS while playing in 126 games as the AL’s best designated hitter. He finished third in the majors in homers.

He also started 23 games on the mound, going 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA and 156 strikeouts over 130 1/3 innings as the Angels’ ace and one of the AL’s top right-handers.

PRO FOOTBALL

The NFL is reducing isolation time for players who test positive for COVID-19 and are asymptomatic, including unvaccinated players, to five days from 10.

The league and the NFL Players Association revised the protocols after the CDC changed its guidelines for those who are asymptomatic, recommending a five-day isolation period and masking over the second five days.

The changes could allow Colts quarterback Carson Wentz to return for Sunday’s key game against Las Vegas after Indianapolis placed him on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

It was not immediately clear whether Wentz, who is unvaccinated, tested positive for the virus or was deemed a close contact to someone else who had tested positive. However, if Wentz has no symptoms, he could be cleared to play.

OBITUARY

John Madden, the Hall of Fame coach turned broadcaster whose exuberant calls combined with simple explanations provided a weekly soundtrack to NFL games for three decades, died Tuesday morning, the league said. He was 85.

The NFL said he died unexpectedly and did not detail a cause.

Madden gained fame in a decade-long stint as the coach of the renegade Oakland Raiders, making it to seven AFC title games and winning the Super Bowl following the 1976 season. He compiled a 103-32-7 regular-season record, and his .759 winning percentage is the best among NFL coaches with more than 100 games.

But it was his work after retiring as coach at age 42 that made Madden truly a household name. He educated a football nation with his use of the telestrator on broadcasts; entertained millions with his interjections of “Boom!” and “Doink!” throughout games; was an omnipresent pitchman selling restaurants, hardware stores and beer; became the face of “Madden NFL Football,” one of the most successful sports video games of all-time; and was a best-selling author.

Most of all, he was the preeminent television sports analyst for most of his three decades calling games, winning an unprecedented 16 Emmy Awards for outstanding sports analyst/personality, and covering 11 Super Bowls for four networks from 1979-2009.

PRO BASKETBALL

Kyrie Irving is out of the protocols. More than 100 other NBA players are still waiting to take that step.

The Eastern Conference-leading Brooklyn Nets announced that Irving, along with Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge, have cleared the NBA’s health and safety protocols — a major step toward getting them back on the court.

Some other teams are bracing themselves for more games with in some cases deeply depleted rosters. Atlanta added three more players to the protocols, putting its total at an astonishing 13 — a figure that doesn’t even include assistant coaches who are also sidelined.

Leaguewide, entering Tuesday evening, the number of players known to be in the protocols was at 122, with some presumably on the cusp of returning and others just starting their stints in isolation. Also out for now: five head coaches, the latest addition being Oklahoma City’s Mark Daigneault.

Daigneault joins the Los Angeles Lakers’ Frank Vogel, Chicago’s Billy Donovan, Portland’s Chauncey Billups and Phoenix’s Monty Williams as head coaches who are out for now.

COLLEGE SPORTS

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Holiday Bowl became the fifth postseason college football game to be canceled when UCLA was forced to pull out just hours before the scheduled kickoff because of COVID-19 issues with the team.

The Bruins were set to face No. 18 North Carolina State at Petco Park, the home of the San Diego Padres.

The Hawaii, Military, Fenway and Arizona bowls have already been canceled due to virus outbreaks leaving teams without enough available players. The Sun and Gator bowls have had to scramble to find replacement teams for their games.

UCLA’s football team is the fourth Bruins program sidelined due to COVID-19 issues, joining both basketball programs and gymnastics.

Meanwhile, the Big Ten became the latest conference to tweak its forfeit policy, joining the other Power Five conferences, the Big East and most others. The Big Ten said games won’t automatically be forfeited if a team or teams are unable to participate due to COVID-19. Instead, games can be rescheduled, declared a no contest or a forfeiture.

Several basketball games across the country have been affected.

Indiana canceled its game Wednesday against UNC Asheville. while the Temple-Villanova game scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed. San Diego postponed its home game against No. 4 Gonzaga on Thursday night,

The No. 12 Texas women’s game Wednesday night against Alcorn State has been canceled.

HOCKEY

Sixteen months after choosing Canada as the safest place to complete its season, the NHL now faces a series of hurdles north of the border that complicate its bid to power through the pandemic all over again.

The league postponed nine more games — all of them in Canada — and cited attendance restrictions in Montreal, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Calgary. It also moved a Jan. 12 game in Montreal between the Bruins and Canadiens to Boston.

With 80 games now postponed this season, the NHL hopes to shift the games in Canada to later in the season “when such restrictions may be eased or lifted.”

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Connor Bedard became the youngest player to score four goals in a world junior hockey championship game, leading Canada to an 11-2 win over Austria.

The 16-year-old joined Mario Lemieux (1983), Simon Gagne (1999), Brayden Schenn (2010), Taylor Raddysh (2016) and Maxime Comtois (2018) in the Canadian junior men’s record books for the most goals scored in a game.

Bedard was the seventh 16-year-old named to the national men’s junior team in its 45-year history, joining players such as Wayne Gretzky and Sidney Crosby.

TENNIS

VIENNA, Austria (AP) — Still regaining his form following a wrist injury, former finalist Dominic Thiem announced he is withdrawing from the Australian Open and will instead begin his 2022 season in South America.

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