Thursday Morning Sports Update


The Tigers selected Arizona State slugger Spencer Torkelson with the No. 1 pick in the Major League Baseball amateur draft Wednesday night. Torkelson played first base in college, but the Tigers plan to move him to third. Detroit opened the draft for the second time in three years. Torkelson hit 54 home runs at Arizona State and finished two shy of Bob Horner’s school record. Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad went No. 2 to Baltimore after the Orioles took Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman with the top pick a year ago.


The Cubs selected hometown shortstop Ed Howard in the first round of the draft. The 18-year-old Howard was a prep star at Mount Carmel High School on Chicago’s South Side. He also started for the 2014 Jackie Robinson West Little League team that advanced to the finals of the Little League World Series. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Howard went No. 16 overall, becoming the first Illinois high school position player to go in the first round since Jayson Werth in 1997. Howard has committed to the University of Oklahoma.


The White Sox selected left-hander Garret Crochet with the 11th overall pick in the draft. The 6-foot-6 left-handed pitcher is out of the University of Tennessee. He struck out 81 batters in 65 innings last season. He now joins a group prospects that management believes will turn the Sox back into a contender. Crochet was the 18th ranked prospect in this year’s draft. He’s been described as a “fireballer” with his fastball being clocked anywhere between 96 and 100 miles an hour. Analysts on MLB Network have begun to compare him to Chris Sale.


Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred says there is a “100%” chance of big league ball this year. Major League Baseball will make another proposal to start the season in empty ballparks, but Manfred vowed to unilaterally order opening day if an agreement is not reached. The players’ association made its second proposal Tuesday, asking for an 89-game regular season and 100% of prorated salaries. MLB’s plan a day earlier was for a 76-game season, would guarantee 50% of prorated salaries and hinge 25% in additional money on the postseason’s completion.


NASCAR has banned the Confederate flag from all events and properties. NASCAR says the Confederate flag runs contrary to their commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, competitors and the industry.
NASCAR banned the Confederate flag from its races and properties on Wednesday, formally distancing itself from what for many is a symbol of slavery and racism that had been a familiar sight at stock car events for more than 70 years.
The move comes amid social unrest around the globe following the death in police custody of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in Minneapolis. Protests have roiled the nation for days and Confederate monuments are being taken down across the South — the traditional fan base for NASCAR.
Bubba Wallace, NASCAR’s lone black driver, called this week for the banishment of the Confederate flag and said there was “no place” for them in the sport. At long last, NASCAR obliged.
Former chairman Brian France tired in 2015 to ban the flying of Confederate flags at race tracks, a proposal too broad to enforce and one that angered NASCAR’s core Southern-based fan base.


USC is welcoming back Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush after a 10-year NCAA-mandated disassociation. The former star running back had been prohibited from interacting in an official capacity with the school he played for from 2003 until 2005 since the NCAA sanctions handed down in 2010. Bush and Southern California were penalized for him and his family receiving impermissible benefits while he was still in school. USC President Carol Folt wrote in a letter to Bush that he could now “be afforded the privileges and courtesies extended to all Trojan football alums.”


A dozen schools in the Mid-American Conference are creating a standalone esports conference to offer structured competition without the extensive rules that govern intercollegiate athletics. MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher says they’re hoping it’s an advantage in recruiting and engaging more competitive video gamers. The structure allows teams to enlist not just amateurs but players who’ve gone pro. Steinbrecher says the new Esports Collegiate Conference plans to be open to schools outside the MAC and operate separately from it. Competition starts this fall. The spring season will feature competitions in League of Legends and Overwatch, with the champions getting automatic bids to national postseason tournaments for those titles.


Roger Federer will miss whatever remains of the 2020 tennis season because of a setback in his recovery from surgery on his right knee.
The 20-time major champion had arthroscopic surgery on his knee in February. Federer posted a statement on Twitter to say he needed an “additional quick arthroscopic procedure” and will take his time to return to 100% fitness.
The 38-year-old Federer had initially planned to be sidelined for at least four months.