A-LIST PREP LATE EDITION
Today is Thursday, September 17…
the 259th day of the year… 107 days remaining
47 days until the 2020 presidential election
CORONAVIRUS UPDATE… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 6,625,560 and the nation’s death toll stands at 196,650, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University… Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield yesterday told a Senate committee that he believes face masks are “the most important, powerful public health tool we have” to fight COVID-19—and even better than a potential vaccine. Redfield also told the panel that most Americans probably wouldn’t be vaccinated against COVID-19 until summer or early autumn 2021.
BARR SEEKS FEDERAL CHARGES AGAINST PROTESTERS… The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Attorney General William Barr advised U.S. attorneys via a conference call to get aggressive in charging protesters who may have committed violent acts at demonstrations. Barr allegedly urged prosecutors to charge protesters with harsh federal crimes, such as impeding a law-enforcement officer or plotting to overthrow the U.S. government. In advising the prosecutors, Barr also predicted Black Lives Matter protests will intensify as the election nears. More than 200 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the protests this year. The FBI has previously said those people were mostly opportunists taking advantage of Black Lives Matter protests.
TROOPS ARMED HEAVILY TO CONFRONT LAFAYETTE SQUARE PROTESTERS… An Army National Guard major claims federal officials considered deploying a heat ray that makes human skin feel like it’s burning on peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square in June. Federal troops also amassed thousands of rounds of ammunition as they prepared to clear the crowd to enable a photo op for President Trump holding a Bible. Major Adam DeMarco made the claims in written House testimony and described himself as one of the senior National Guard officials on the scene.
ROMNEY OPPOSES BIDEN INVESTIGATION… Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney came out against the Senate GOP-led investigation into Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s ties with Ukraine. Romney called the investigation a “political exercise” from the get-go. The probe has been led by Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson, who has vowed to release a report summarizing his investigation in the coming weeks.
HHS SPOKESMAN TAKES LEAVE… Department of Health and Human Services top spokesman Michael Caputo has voluntarily taken a 60-day leave of absence in order to “focus on his health and well-being of his family,” according to an HHS statement released yesterday. Caputo’s leave comes days after he posted a bizarre Facebook rant filled with false claims, including “deep state” scientists want America to be sick, the CDC is guilty of “sedition” and leftists are gearing up for a post-election armed revolt. He apologized for the rant on Tuesday.
SALLY MAKES LANDFALL… Hurricane Sally made landfall near Gulf Shores, Alabama, yesterday morning as a Category 2 storm but weakened later in the day to tropical depression strength. The National Hurricane Center said last night that the center of the storm was about 30 miles south-southeast of Montgomery, Alabama. There was a tropical storm warning in effect for the Okaloosa-Walton County, Florida, line eastward to Indian Pass, Florida. Forecasters said Sally could produce as many as 30 inches of rain in some areas between Florida and western Alabama.
JIM CARREY TO PLAY BIDEN ON ‘SNL’… Jim Carrey has signed on to play former Vice President Joe Biden on “Saturday Night Live” when the show returns for its 46th season on October 3. NBC says the show will be performed before a “limited in-studio audience.” Three new featured players have joined the cast of the new season. They are: Lauren Holt, a comedian who has been a house performer at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater in Los Angeles; Punkie Johnson, a comedian and writer whose credits include the shows “Space Force and Corporate”; and Andrew Dismukes a stand-up comic and ‘SNL’ staff writer since season 43. Alec Baldwin has agreed to return and portray against Carrey’s Biden in the five consecutive episodes that will precede the 2020 election. Former cast member Maya Rudolph will return as Kamala Harris and current cast member Beck Bennett will continue to play Mike Pence.
BONNAROO OFFERING VIRTUAL EVENT… The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival will feature new and archived performances in a virtual event that will stream on YouTube September 24-26. A complete schedule will be announced later. Archival performances include Alabama Shakes from 2015, Beastie Boys from 2009, Dave Matthews and Friends from 2004, Jack White from 2014, James Brown from 2003, Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit from 2016, Metallica from 2008, My Morning Jacket from 2011, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats from 2016, Nile Rogers and Chic from 2018, Run the Jewels from 2015, Tears for Fears from 2015, The White Stripes from 2007 and The XX from 2017.
ABC CANCELS ‘UNITED WE FALL’… ABC announced yesterday that it is canceling the family comedy “United We Fall” after just one season. The series starred Will Sasso and Christina Vidal who try to raise their two children amid family differences. The series premiered in July and ran for eight episodes.
St. Louis 4 – MILWAUKEE 2… The Cardinals rallied past the Brewers in the doubleheader opener after spotting them a two-run lead. Tyler O’Neil lifted a sacrifice fly and homered. Brad Miller also went deep. Adam Wainwright (5-1) allowed two first-inning runs on four hits over seven innings.
MILWAUKEE 6 – St. Louis 0… Four pitchers combined on a two-hitter as the Brewers blanked the Cardinals to claim a split of the doubleheader. Ryan Braun’s 350th career homer was a three-run shot. Jacob Nottingham homered with a runner aboard.
Washington 4 – TAMPA BAY 2 (10 innings)… Rookie Luis García belted a two-run homer in the top of the 10th inning to send the Nationals past the Rays. Asdrubal Cabrera homered with a runner aboard in the sixth.
Oakland 3 – COLORADO 1… Mike Fiers (6-2) held the Rockies to a run on seven hits over six innings. Jake Lamb had a couple of hits and knocked in a run
L.A. Dodgers 7 – SAN DIEGO 5… The Dodgers held off the Padres to become the first team in the pandemic-shortened season to clinch a berth in the expanded playoffs. AJ Pollock and Chris Taylor hit solo homers. Will Smith drove in three runs.
MIAMI 8 – Boston 4… Jorge Alfaro connected for a pair of two-run homers and the Marlins doubled up on the Red Sox. Garrett Cooper also homered with a runner on.
CINCINNATI 1 – Pittsburgh 0… Reds starter Luis Castillo limited the Pirates to three hits and struck out 10 over seven innings. Shogo Akiyama singled home Jose Garcia with the game’s only run in the bottom of the fifth inning.
N.Y. YANKEES 13 – Toronto 2… Kyle Higashioka slugged three of the Yankees’ seven home runs and drove in five runs to lead the rout of the Blue Jays. DJ LeMahieu homered twice. Luke Voit and Clint Frazier also went deep.
N.Y. Mets 5 – PHILADELPHIA 4… The Mets came from four runs down in the fourth inning to upend the Phillies. Andres Gimenez singled home pinch-runner Amed Rosario with the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth inning. J.D. Davis hit a two-run homer.
Kansas City 4 – DETROIT 0… Brady Singer (3-4) pitched two-hit ball over six innings and three relievers completed the shutout of the Tigers. Salvador Perez drilled a two-run homer and doubled home a run.
BALTIMORE 5 – Atlanta 1… Orioles starter Keegan Akin (1-1) limited the Braves to three hits over five scoreless innings and fanned nine. Renato Nunes gapped a two-run double.
Minnesota 5 – CHI. WHITE SOX 1… Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano connected for two runs homers as the Twins cooled off the White Sox. Eddie Rosario added a solo shot.
Texas 1 – HOUSTON 0… Kyle Gibson (2-5) tossed a complete-game four-hitter in outdueling counterpart Lance McCullers and the Rangers edged the Astros. Joey Gallo’s double in the top of the ninth inning scored Leody Taveras and broke a scoreless tie.
CHI. CUBS 3 – Cleveland 2 (10 innings)… Javier Lopez singled home Ian Happ with the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning as the Cubs outlasted the Indians. Cameron Maybin went 2-for-3 with an RBI single.
Arizona 9 – L.A. ANGELS 6… Kole Calhoun blasted a two-run homer and David Peralta added a solo shot as the Diamondbacks rolled past the Angels. Nick Ahmed and Daulton Varsho stroked two-run singles.
San Francisco 9 – SEATTLE 3… The Giants used a 15-hit attack to crush the Mariners. Brandon Belt hit a two-run homer and Evan Longoria followed with a solo shot in the top of the fourth inning. Alex Dickerson went 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored.
TODAY’S MLB SCHEDULE…
Tampa Bay (Blake Snell, 4-1; Trevor Richards, 0-0) is at Baltimore (Alex Cobb, 1-4; Dean Kremer, 1-0) for a doubleheader…
Miami (Jose Urena, 0-1) hosts Boston (Nathan Eovaldi, 2-2)…
Minnesota (Kenta Maeda, 5-1) is at the Chi. White Sox (Dallas Keuchel, 6-2)…
Seattle (Nick Margevicius, 1-3) hosts San Francisco (Tyler Anderson, 2-3)…
Arizona (Alex Young, 2-3) is at the L.A. Angels (Griffin Canning, 0-3)…
Pittsburgh (Seven Brault, 0-3) hosts St. Louis (Dakota Hudson, 3-2)…
the N.Y. Mets (Seth Lugo, 2-3) are at Philadelphia (Aaron Nola, 5-3)…
the N.Y. Yankees (Masahiro Tanaka, 2-2) host Toronto (Chase Anderson, 0-1)…
Cleveland (Shane Bieber, 7-1) is at Detroit (Casey Mize, 0-1)…
Houston (Framber Valdez, 3-3) hosts Texas (Jordan Lyles, 1-4)…
the L.A. Dodgers (Julio Urias, 3-0) are at Colorado (Kyle Freeland, 2-1)
MLB PLAYOFF PICTURE… Major League Baseball announced an expanded postseason format in 2020, which will include eight teams in each league. The top two teams in each division qualify, and the two teams with the next-best records in each league make it as Wild Cards. All ties will be resolved mathematically, without tiebreaker games.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
The Rays lead the Yankees by three games for the division title and lead the A’s by a half-game for the AL’s second seed. Tampa Bay is one game behind the White Sox for the top AL seed and has a magic number of four to clinch a postseason berth
The Yankees are 1-1/2 games ahead of the Blue Jays for the division’s No. 2 playoff berth and hold the AL’s fifth seed.
The Blue Jays trail the division-leading Rays by 4 1/2 games and are 1-1/2 games behind the Yankees for the division’s No. 2 playoff berth.
The Orioles are five games back of the Indians for the AL’s No. 8 playoff spot.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
The White Sox lead the division by two games over the Twins and six games over the Indians, and lead the Rays by one game for the top seed in the AL. The A’s are 1-1/2 games back. Chicago’s magic number is three for a postseason berth
The Twins lead the Indians by four games for second place in the AL Central, trailing the White Sox by two games for the division lead. They hold the AL’s No. 4 playoff seed. Minnesota’s magic number is five for a postseason berth
The Indians are in third place in the AL Central, four games behind the Twins and six games behind the White Sox. They currently hold the eighth and final AL playoff seed.
The Tigers are 4 1/2 games behind the Indians for the eighth and final AL playoff spot, a half-game behind the Orioles and Mariners.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
The A’s are 6 1/2 games ahead of the Astros for the division lead and 1 1/2 games behind the White Sox for the top AL playoff seed. Oakland’s magic for a postseason berth is four.
The Astros are 6 1/2 games behind the A’s for the division lead but two games ahead of the Mariners for the second guaranteed playoff spot in the AL West.
The Mariners are two games behind the Astros for the AL West’s second playoff spot and are four games behind the Indians for the eighth and final playoff spot.
The Angels are 6 1/2 games behind the Indians for the eighth and final playoff spot.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
The Braves lead the division by 2-1/2 games over the Marlins and are a game behind the Cubs for the NL’s second seed.
The Marlins are 2-1/2 games behind the Braves for the division lead, and are 1-1/2 games ahead of the Phillies for the division’s second guaranteed playoff spot.
The Phillies are four games behind the first-place Braves and 1-1/2 games behind the Marlins for the division’s second guaranteed playoff spot.
The Mets are 3-1/2 games behind the Giants for the eighth and final playoff spot.
The Nationals are 5-1/2 games behind the Giants for the eighth and final playoff spot.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
The Cubs lead the division by 5-1/2 games over the Cardinals and hold the No. 2 NL playoff seed.
The Cardinals trail the Cubs by 5-1/2 games for the division lead and lead the Reds by a half-game for the NL Central’s second guaranteed playoff berth.
The Reds are tied with the Cardinals for the division’s second guaranteed playoff spot, and they are also a half-game behind the Giants for the eighth and final playoff spot, with the Brewers a half-game and Rockies a game behind.
The Brewers are a game behind the Reds and one game behind the Cardinals for the division’s second guaranteed playoff spot. They are also 1-1/2 games behind the Giants for the eighth and final playoff spot.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
The Dodgers became the first team to clinch a postseason spot. They lead the Padres by 3-1/2 games in the division race and lead the Cubs by five games for the NL’s best record.
The Padres trail the Dodgers by 3-1/2 games for the division lead and lead the Giants by 6-1/2 games for the NL West’s second guaranteed playoff spot. San Diego’s magic number is three for postseason berth.
The Giants are a half-game ahead of the Reds and 1-1/2 games ahead of the Brewers and Reds for the NL’s No. 8 playoff seed.
The Rockies trail the Giants by two games for the eighth and final NL playoff berth.
TODAY’S NBA PLAYOFF SCHEDULE (games in Orlando)
Boston vs. Miami in Game 2 with the Heat leading 1-0
TODAY’S NHL STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF SCHEDULE…
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS (in Toronto)
Tampa Bay vs. the N.Y. Islanders in Game 6 with the Lightning leading 3-2
BIG TEN FOOTBALL HOPES TO OPEN PLAY NEXT MONTH… Big Ten Conference administrators announced yesterday that they will attempt to play football games next month after reversing its decision to call off the fall season due to the coronavirus pandemic. The league’s schedule is likely to be announced this week and is expected to be an eight-game, conference-only slate beginning the weekend of October 24. An all-inclusive championship week and ninth game is scheduled for December 19. Under the plan, the two division winners will play each other in the conference title game per normal, with the second- through seventh-place teams from each division facing off. Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, who leads the conference’s scheduling subcommittee, noted that the conference will try to avoid having teams play each other twice and said it’s not been determined where the additional championship week games will be played.