Mariners CEO Mather resigns after video comments

Seattle Mariners president and CEO Kevin Mather resigned Monday following the emergence of video where he expressed opinions about organizational strategy and his views on some players. 

Mariners Chairman John Stanton said Mather’s comments were inappropriate and do not represent the views of the franchise.

Mather’s resignation is effective immediately. Stanton will take on the roles of CEO and team president on an interim basis. 

“There is no excuse for what was said, and I won’t try to make one,” Stanton said in a statement. “I offer my sincere apology on behalf of the club and my partners to our players and fans. We must be, and do, better.” 

Mather issued an apology late Sunday for his comments, which were made Feb. 5 to the Bellevue, Washington, Breakfast Rotary Club and were posted online over the weekend.

The video posted by the Rotary group was 46 minutes long and touched on areas of the Mariners’ organizational situation going into the 2021 season — many of which Seattle’s front office would rather not be made public.

“We have a lot of work to do to make amends, and that work is already underway,” Stanton said. 

Kansas City quarterback Mahomes, fiancee welcome baby girl

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and his fiancee, Brittany Matthews, are parents to a girl.

Matthews announced the Sunday birth of Sterling Skye Mahomes in a tweet. The birth came two weeks after Mahomes and Kansas City lost 31-9 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl.

Mahomes and Matthews had announced their engagement in September, the Kansas City Star reported. The next month, the couple used their dogs as part of a gender reveal, and Mahomes tweeted that he was going to be a #GirlDad.

“It’s extremely exciting,” Mahomes said last year after announcing Matthews’ pregnancy. “Being able to grow up and have these dreams of having a family and playing in the NFL — for that stuff to start happening and really coming to truth, it’s really cool.”

In celebration of the birth, Union Station in Kansas City was lit up with pink and white lights Sunday night.

Ganassi suspended, fined $30,000 for bringing guest to pits

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Chip Ganassi was fined $30,000 and suspended one race for bringing a guest into the NASCAR pit area at Daytona International Speedway.

NASCAR said the team owner violated its COVID-19 guidelines by bringing a nonessential individual into the restricted competition area.

Ganassi cannot return to competition areas Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. NASCAR expanded its bubble beginning with the Daytona 500 to permit team owners into the garage; they were not considered essential personnel last season and had to watch races from a suite on the other side of the track. 

The at-track “bubble” does not permit drivers to bring their significant others or children into the infield. Families were even prohibited from accessing at Daytona the infield motorhomes they consider their home at the track.

The penalty for Ganassi does not impact his two teams or drivers Kurt Busch and Ross Chastain.

In other penalties Monday:

Adam Stevens, the crew chief for winning driver Christopher Bell, was fined $10,000 for one loose lug nut on the No. 20 Toyota after Sunday’s race.

Jeremy Bullins was also suspended $10,000 for one loose lug nut on Brad Keselowski’s No. 2 Ford. 

Big West hoops tournaments banning spectators

The Big West Conference will hold its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments without spectators, including family and guests of the teams.

The tournaments will be played March 9-13 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, where they were moved from their usual home in Anaheim, California.

The Big West’s board of directors decided to start the season without fans in attendance. League Commissioner Dan Butterly says the latest decision to keep fans away from the tournaments is a way to protect the teams in their chase for the league’s automatic bids to the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournaments.

Steelers coach Tomlin tests positive for virus

Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is dealing with COVID-19.

Tomlin said Monday that he’s experienced “minimal symptoms” and remains in “good health.”

The 48-year-old Tomlin did not disclose when he tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The team sent employees and staff home last Wednesday as a precaution after someone in the facility tested positive.

Tomlin said he expects to be back in the office “soon” and will continue to work virtually until he is cleared to go back to work in-person.

The Steelers are in the midst of a busy offseason and are still working to determine how quarterback Ben Roethlisberger fits into their 2021 plans.

Iona basketball halted until conference tournament

Iona’s first season under Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino is halted again, this time until the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament.

The Gaels, who recently returned from the longest pause in Division I this season, announced Monday they won’t be able to play their final five conference games because of a positive COVID-19 result by a Tier I member of the program. Subsequent quarantine and isolation protocols left them without the required number of players.

Iona returned from a 51-day pause on Feb. 12 against Manhattan, its first game since Dec. 23. That was supposed to begin a stretch of 10 games in 22 days before the MAAC Tournament in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Pitino said he had tested positive during the previous pause, estimating that about half the team has had the coronavirus this season. Iona hired the winner of national championships at Kentucky and Louisville last March, during an outbreak of the virus in Iona’s city of New Rochelle, New York.

The Gaels swept Monmouth over the weekend and were scheduled to play Marist on Wednesday.

Erving receives COVID-19 vaccine

Julius “Dr. J” Erving is the latest NBA legend to reveal that he’s gotten vaccinated against the coronavirus, doing so Monday. Much like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Gregg Popovich and Bill Russell before him, Erving made the announcement in the form of a video distributed through the league.

“We were never afraid to take the big shot,” Erving said in the video.

Erving turned 71 on Monday, meaning he is well within the current age guidelines for vaccine eligibility as established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The video he appears in also includes short clips of Jerry West, Dave Bing and Wayne Embry receiving their vaccinations.

The league has released these videos in an effort to help encourage the public to receive the vaccine when they are eligible and it is available in their community.

MLB’s Indians could have up to 10,000 fans

The Cleveland Indians could have as many as 10,000 fans at home games in Progressive Field this season after Ohio. Gov. Mike DeWine said it’s likely professional sports teams could accommodate up to 30% capacity at their venues this spring.

The Cincinnati Reds and Columbus Crew would also be affected.

The Indians were not allowed to have fans last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the loss of revenue for ticket sales, parking and concessions dealt the club an economic blow. The team’s downtown ballpark holds over 35,000.

The Indians have been working with Major League Baseball and the Cleveland Clinic to develop a safety plan to welcome back fans.

The Cleveland Browns and Cavaliers have been permitted to have a limited number of fans at games during the pandemic.

Pelicans allowing 2,700 fans at Wednesday’s game

The New Orleans Pelicans are increasing maximum attendance to 2,700 fans beginning Wednesday night when they host the Detroit Pistons.

The Pelicans have been selling nearly 1,500 tickets per game since last month after allowing fewer than 1,000 fans per game to start the season.

The club has been working with local and state government health officials to determine safe attendance policies that are tied to local coronavirus transmission rates.

A considerable recent drop in new area COVID-19 cases has allowed for the increase in attendance.

Fans at Pelicans games are required to wear masks unless eating or drinking, and are asked to socially distance from people who are not in their group. Hand sanitizer dispensers have been placed throughout the 18,000-seat Smoothie King Center.

Pelicans officials say they are hoping to allow as many as 4,000 fans per game later this season.

Louisville coach Mack not proud of maskless viral video

Louisville coach Chris Mack says it was “not a good look” for him to be shown in a viral video maskless while celebrating the Cardinals’ Dec. 26 victory over rival Kentucky.

The 33-second video, tweeted Saturday night by Drew Franklin of Kentucky Sports Radio, shows the third-year Louisville coach with former Cardinals football player Eric Wood playfully mocking the 62-59 win while celebrating Christmas with family and neighbors who stopped by his house.

Wood yells in the clip that former Kentucky associate head coach Kenny Payne, now with the NBA’s New York Knicks, was responsible for the Wildcats’ previous victories over the Cardinals before noting he’s gone and that coach John Calipari “will never beat U of L again.”

Mack tried to offer context to the video during a virtual news conference Monday, explaining that some of his neighbors were golfing buddies of Payne and wanted to “give him grief” for the game. The coach also recognized the potential fallout for appearing to go maskless during the pandemic, even in his own home. “I’ve got to do better,” he said.

New Jersey to open sports and entertainment events to fans

Fans will be allowed to attend sports and entertainment events at New Jersey’s largest facilities in limited numbers starting next week, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday.

New Jersey venues with an indoor seating capacity of 5,000 or more will be allowed to have 10% of those seats occupied by fans starting on March 1, the Democratic governor said on the WFAN sports radio station.

For outdoor venues with over 5,000 seats, the number will be 15% of capacity.

Murphy said he decided to allow the limited in-person attendance after reviewing a vast array of coronavirus-related statistics, including hospitalizations, the number of hospital admissions versus discharges, overall positivity rate for COVID-19 and the rate of transmission, and determining that small crowds can be permitted safely.

He said face coverings and social distancing will be required at these venues.

“If you buy tickets together, you can sit together, but otherwise, we have to spread apart,” he said.

The order applies to the state’s major arenas, including the Prudential Center in Newark, where the NHL’s New Jersey Devils play, and outdoor stadiums, including MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, home to the NFL’s New York Giants and Jets.

The governor said about 1,700 to 1,800 fans should be allowed to attend Devils hockey games under the new rules.

Four-time Pro Bowl guard Iupati retires after 11 seasons

Four-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman Mike Iupati says he’s retiring after 11 seasons in the NFL with three NFC West teams.

Iupati told The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington on Monday that his body told him it was time to step away. 

Iupati made four straight Pro Bowls from 2012-15, the first three with San Francisco and the final one with Arizona. He was also a first-team All-Pro selection in 2012 with the 49ers. 

Iupati spent five seasons in San Francisco after the 49ers selected him in the first round of the 2010 draft out of Idaho. He played for Arizona for four seasons and spent his final two years with the Seattle Seahawks. 

Iupati started 139 of 140 regular-season games in his career. But he was limited to just 10 games this past season for Seattle. 

The Seahawks tweeted congratulations to Iupati on his decision to retire. 

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