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The Sports Report: Thirteen Pac-12 football players release a range of demands

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Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Ben Bolch on Pac-12 football: A group of more than a dozen Pac-12 Conference football players released a lengthy list of demands Sunday intended to protect and benefit them amid the COVID-19 pandemic and racial injustice that have roiled the country, threatening to boycott practices and games unless their requests are met.

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The demands include health and safety protections, the elimination of what the players described as excessive salaries, an end to racial injustice in sports and society, guaranteed medical coverage, and a profit-sharing arrangement in which 50% of each sport’s conference revenue would be distributed evenly among athletes.

“Hundreds of Pac-12 football players throughout our conference are very concerned with the risks COVID-19 poses to our personal health and the health of our families and communities,” said a statement emailed to media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, and signed by 13 players from 10 teams, including UCLA defensive back Elisha Guidry.

“There’s not enough transparency about health risks, no uniformity to ensure we’re all safe when we play each other, and no adequate enforcement infrastructure. NCAA sports has truly failed us, it doesn’t enforce any health and safety standards. We believe a football season under these conditions would be reckless and put us at needless risk. We will not play until there is real change that is acceptable to us.”

It was not immediately clear how many players would be willing to participate in a boycott; one UCLA player told The Times on Saturday that the Bruins’ top players, while supportive of the movement, were eager to play in a season scheduled to start against USC on Sept 26.

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“I understand and support every guy on the Pac-12 petition & #WeAreUnited,” UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson wrote Sunday on Twitter, “but Opting-out is not a option for me, You all need to feel this team and I this year.”

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The 13 Pac-12 players who signed the demand letter:

Treyjohn Butler, DB, Stanford

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Jake Curhan, OL, Cal

Valentino Daltoso, OL, Cal

Joshua Drayden, DB, Cal

Nick Ford, OL, Utah

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Jaydon Grant, DB, Oregon State

Elisha Guidry, DB, UCLA

Malik Hausman, DB, Arizona

Dallas Hobbs, DL, Washington State

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Jevon Holland, DB, Oregon

Ty Jones, WR, Washington

Cody Shear, OL, Arizona State

Joe Tryon, LB, Washington

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DODGERS

Jack Harris on the Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw returned to the mound and Cody Bellinger returned to form Sunday, the left-handed pitcher spinning 5 2/3 sensational scoreless innings in his season debut while the left-handed slugger smacked his first home run in hopes of shaking off an early slump.

For a team as talent-rich as the Dodgers, who wrapped up a series win by knocking off the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-0 at Chase Field, two players can tip the scales only so much.

After all, they entered Sunday tied for first in the National League West even with Kershaw sidelined and Bellinger scuffling over the season’s first week and a half.

But there was something different about seeing the two gems sparkle, a reminder of how much brighter the Dodgers’ fortunes look when Kershaw and Bellinger — not to mention Mookie Betts, who also homered Sunday before leaving the game with a sore left middle finger — are at their best.

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ANGELS

Mike DiGiovanna on the Angels: A game that the Angels opened with another disconcerting start by Shohei Ohtani, who walked five batters in a 42-pitch second inning he was unable to complete, ended more than 4½ hours later with a 6-5 11-inning loss to the Houston Astros in Angel Stadium.

Both teams scored in the 10th inning, in which each team started with a runner on second base. Angels reliever Jacob Barnes got Jose Altuve to ground back to the mound to start the 11th, but Alex Bregman stroked a run-scoring single to center for a 6-5 Astros lead.

Matt Thaiss, the Angels runner on second to start the bottom of the 11th, took third on David Fletcher’s grounder to shortstop. Houston left-hander Blake Taylor struck out Luis Rengifo swinging for the second out.

Anthony Rendon was intentionally walked, and Michael Hermosillo walked to load the bases with two outs, but Brian Goodwin flied out to center to end the 4-hour, 37-minute game.

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RAMS

Gary Klein on the Rams: McVay, 80 Rams players and the coaching staff finally will gather Monday, following social-distancing protocols, beneath a large, open-air tent at the team’s Thousand Oaks facility for the start of training camp, which will be conducted in several phases.

“I’m just excited to see these guys in person and be able to have a meeting and go out and walk through,” McVay said Sunday during a videoconference. “Now, would I like to be able to practice a little bit sooner than mid-August?

“Of course. But everybody’s got to follow these guidelines.”

During a videoconference in June, McVay expressed skepticism about following protocols and playing football during a pandemic.

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We’re going to social distance, but we play football?” he said. “Hey, this is really hard for me to understand all this. I don’t want to be … I don’t get it. I really don’t.”

Two months later, McVay sounded optimistic.

“I feel a lot better now having a little more knowledge,” he said. “It’s really about the risk mitigation.”

BASEBALL

When the New York Mets finally found out Yoenis Cespedes was OK, they suddenly learned something else: The slugger had opted out of playing the rest of this season.

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Hours after Cespedes didn’t report to the ballpark without explanation, the Mets discovered in the late innings of Sunday’s 4-0 loss to Atlanta that he wouldn’t be back this year because of coronavirus concerns.

“I am very surprised,” first-year manager Luis Rojas said. “Him and I have had conversations regularly about playing time, where he was going to hit in the lineup, building him up in the outfield.”

“Nothing like this, so this is definitely a surprise,” he said.

Cespedes went 0 for 4 during a 7-1 loss Saturday night in Atlanta. He is 5 for 31 (.161) with 15 strikeouts this season.

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GOLF

Justin Thomas won the FedEx St. Jude Invitational on Sunday to take the No. 1 spot in the world for the first time since June 2018.

Thomas dueled defending champion Brooks Koepka down the final holes, sealing the World Golf Championship victory on the par-5 16th. Thomas took the lead for good with his second straight birdie, while Koepka bogeyed the hole.

Koepka pulled within a stroke with a 39-footer for birdie on No. 17. But Koepka put his tee shot into the water along the 18th fairway on his way to double bogey, allowing Thomas to finish up an easy par putt for what wound up a three-stroke victory.

Thomas closed with a 5-under 66 to finish at 13-under 267 and take the $10.5 million winner’s check for his 13th PGA Tour title. At 27, he became the third-youngest player since 1960 to reach 13 PGA Tour wins, trailing only Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus.

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NASCAR

Brad Keselowski won at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday for his third victory of the NASCAR season and 33rd of his career.

Keselowski swapped stage wins with Denny Hamlin and took the checkered flag 1.647 seconds ahead of Hamlin. After the victory, Keselowski grabbed a U.S. flag and spun his car around in front of a masked and socially distanced crowd of several thousand.

“We’ve had a lot of great races. We just hadn’t really gone out and dominated a race. We just needed to go out and dominate a race and that’s what we got today,” Keselowski said. “It’s so great to be racing back in front of fans. It feels like forever. I love it, man.”

Martin Truex Jr. was third after working his way back from the rear of the field because of a penalty for a runaway tire in the pits. Joey Logano was fourth and Kevin Harvick fifth.

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TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific.

Dodgers at San Diego, 6 p.m., SportsNet LA, AM 570

Lakers vs. Utah, 6 p.m., Spectrum Sportsnet, ESPN, 710 ESPN

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

Mary Lou Retton, needing perfect scores, fought back in her final two events to beat Romania’s Ecaterina Szabo by five one-hundredths of a point and Romania’s Simona Pauca by five-tenths on this date in 1984 and won the women’s all-round gymnastics title at Pauley Pavilion in the Los Angeles Olympic Games.

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For Retton, the gold medal that came with her championship was the first won by a U.S. women’s gymnast.

The 4-foot-9, 84-pound 16-year old from Fairmont, W.Va, trailed Szabo by 0.15 of a point with two events to go, She scored a 10 in the floor exercise with difficult moves that included a double back somersault and another 10 in the vault that sent the crowd of 9,023 into a wild celebration.

Her final score was 79.175 to Szabo’s 79.125.

Other memorable games and outstanding individual performances on this date.

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1948 — Forty-two-year-old Satchel Paige made his first major league start with the Cleveland Indians before a crowd of 70,000 at Municipal Stadium and pitched seven innings in a 5-3 victory over the Washington Senators. Paige, who had pitched in the Negro Leagues since the 1920s, was signed a month earlier by Indians owner Bill Veeck. He became the first player from the Negro Leagues to pitch in the World Series when the Indians met the Boston Braves that fall.

1949 — The National Basketball Assn. was formed with the merger of the National Basketball League (NBL) and the Basketball Assn. of America (BAA). Maurice Podoloff, the head of the BAA, was elected commissioner of the new league. NBL teams, which included the Boston Celtics, the Minneapolis Lakers, the New York Knickerbockers, the Philadelphia Warriors and the Rochester Royals, joined the BAA teams, plus an expansion team in Indianapolis.

1955 — Trotter Scott Frost, trained and driven by Joe O’Brien, won the Hambletonian at Good Time Park in Goshen, N.Y., when he edged Galophone by a head, after Galophone, driven by Billy Haugton, had taken a slight lead with 50 feet to go. Scott Frost would go on to win trotting’s Triple Crown when he took first place in the Yonkers Trot and the Kentucky Futurity.

1959 — The second of two All-Star games that year was played, and the American League won 5-3 at the Coliseum. Yogi Berra, Rocky Colavito and Frank Malzone hit home runs for the AL. Nellie Fox of the Chicago White Sox singled in the deciding run in the seventh inning. The teams were managed by Casey Stengel and Fred Haney, and the Dodgers’ Don Drysdale was the starter for the National League. The first All-Star game was played July 7 at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, and the NL won 5-4.

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1969 — Pinch-hitter Rich Reese hit a grand slam in the seventh inning that powered the Minnesota Twins to a 5-2 win over the visiting Baltimore Orioles, ending pitcher Dave McNally’s 15-game winning streak. Reese connected on a 3-2 pitch from the left-handed McNally, who started the game with a 15-0 record. It was the first of three career pinch-hit grand slams for Reese, and McNally would go on to finish the season 20-7.

1990 — The PGA Tour announced it will not hold tournaments at golf clubs that have all-white memberships or show any other signs of discrimination. The statement came after a week of controversy concerning the PGA Championship, which was to be played at the previously all-white Shoal Creek Country Club near Birmingham, Ala. Bowing to pressure from civil rights groups and planned demonstrations, Shoal Creek awarded honorary membership to a Black businessman and said it was considering another Black for admission.

1997 — Colleen Walker, 40, won the du Maurier Classic by two strokes over Liselotte Neumann of Sweden when she shot an eight-under-par 65 in final round at Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Canada. It was the second-lowest score recorded in the final round of an LPGA major, after a nine-under 64 by JoAnne Carner in the 1978 du Maurier.

2006 — Champ Car driver Cristiano da Matta of Brazil needed surgery to remove a ruptured blood vessel on the surface of his brain after his race car collided with a deer that had wandered onto the track during a test session at Road America near Elkhart Lake, Wis. The open-wheel car’s right front tire struck the deer on an uphill run to the blind left-hand Turn 6, and it then flew back, hitting De Matta in the driver’s seat. De Matta’s recovery took more than two years, and he returned to driving in September 2008.

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2013 — Katie Ledecky, 16, wrapped up a brilliant performance at the world swimming championships in Barcelona, Spain, when she won her fourth gold medal and set a second world record. Ledecky powered her way in final four laps of the 800-meter freestyle to win in 8 minutes 13.86 seconds, breaking the record of 8:14.10 set by Britain’s Rebecca Adlington at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Sources: The Times, Associated Press

And finally

Mary Lou Retton wins the gold medal. Watch it here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.

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