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Tuesday Sports in Brief

NFL

NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL is gearing up for a normal season and playoffs — with two additional wild-card teams in the Super Bowl chase.

NFL team owners voted Tuesday to expand the playoffs by one team in each conference for a total of 14 next season as they continue to plan for the 2020 season to begin on time.

During a conference call to discuss league business after the annual meetings were canceled due to the new coronavirus, the owners also awarded one of those extra games to CBS and one to NBC. Three-fourths of the 32 owners needed to approve the change, and the vote was unanimous, football operations chief Troy Vincent said.

As for opening the season on Sept. 10 as scheduled, NFL lead counsel Jeff Pash said: “All of our focus has been on a normal traditional season, starting on time, playing before fans in our regular stadiums and going through our full 16-game regular season and a full playoffs.”

That would include the two stadiums still under construction in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, plus international games in England and Mexico.

MLB

NEW YORK (AP) — Gerrit Cole, Mike Trout and other veteran major leaguers will receive $4,775 per day in advance pay for the first 60 days of the season during the stoppage caused by the new coronavirus, a total of $286,500.

That's just 2.5% percent of the $193,548 the New York Yankees pitcher and Los Angeles Angels outfielder were scheduled to earn each day during the 186-day season from their $36 million salaries, tied for the major league high this year.

The daily total was obtained by The Associated Press after it was confirmed by Major League Baseball and the players' association following their agreement last week on how to proceed during the stoppage.

Less veteran players receive smaller amounts specified in the agreement: $16,500, $30,000 or $60,000, depending on the contract.

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball is extending its financial support to minor league players through May while suspending their contracts because of the new coronavirus pandemic.

MLB announced March 19 that it was giving minor leaguers $400 weekly allowances through April 8, the day before the minor league season was scheduled to start. The commissioner's office said Tuesday that minor leaguers will continue to receive those allowances and health benefits through May 31 or the minor league opening day, whichever comes first.

Minor league contracts have a provision allowing them to be suspended "during any national emergency." MLB said Tuesday it had told the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the minor league governing body, that it was unable to supply players to minor league affiliates because of the emergency.

Major and minor league seasons are on hold due to the new coronavirus.

NHL

The NHL has extended its guideline for players and staff to self-quarantine until April 15 and it is possible the coronavirus pandemic could push that back even further.

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly confirmed the extension to the Associated Press in an email Tuesday. It adds an extra 11 days to the previous guidance of April 4, which Daly last week acknowledged was “a meaningless date” because of the rapidly changing situation.

The NHL put its season on pause March 12 with 189 regular-season games remaining. Commissioner Gary Bettman said then he was optimistic of resuming the season and awarding the Stanley Cup.

The timeline for doing that still isn't clear. The NHL has asked teams for arena availability dates through August, so it wouldn't be inconceivable to see hockey last deep into the summer.

SPORTS TELEVISION

The documentary looking at Michael Jordan’s last championship season with the Chicago Bulls is set for release nearly two months sooner than expected with no sports to air due to the coronavirus pandemic.

ESPN and Netflix announced on Tuesday that the 10-part documentary series called “The Last Dance” will air next month will run in the U.S. over five consecutive Sunday nights starting April 19 and running through May 17. There will be two hour-long episodes on each of those nights, airing back-to-back at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. Eastern.

ESPN was originally planning to release the documentary in June, when this season’s NBA Finals were to be played but those plans were accelerated.

INTERNATIONAL BASKETBALL

BEIJING (AP) — China's government on Tuesday ordered all major sports events to remain suspended because of the coronavirus outbreak, meaning the country's basketball league will have to push back its planned restart.

The CBA had hoped to resume play in mid-April but was denied government approval to do so. Instead, China’s General Administration of Sport issued a statement saying any large sporting events that draw crowds “are temporarily not being resumed.”

The agency did not give a timeline for when the suspensions may be lifted, but said it will “make timely adjustments according to the epidemic prevention and control situation."

The CBA has been suspended since Jan. 24 because of the spread of COVID-19.

AUTO RACING

Rob Gronkowski and WWE star Mojo Rawley are set to serve as the grand marshals for the NASCAR virtual racing event on Sunday. Gronkowski, the retired New England Patriots tight end, is also scheduled to host WrestleMania. WrestleMania, WWE's signature event, is held over two days on Saturday and Sunday this year for the first time in history.

Rawley and Gronkowski, also a Fox Sports analyst, are long-time friends and the two will start Sunday's iRacing event on the virtual Bristol Motor Speedway track. The race is set for 1 p.m. and scheduled to air on Fox and FS1.

SOCCER

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy says salaries for non-playing staff are being cut due to the coronavirus pandemic as the club has disclosed his pay package more than doubled to 7 million pounds ($9 million) last year.

The disclosure on Tuesday about Levy's salary and bonus for the north London club's new stadium being completed came in accounts also published on the British company register.

The corporate filing of the 2018-19 club's annual report came as Tottenham is grappling with the unexpected economic fallout of the Premier League — and all sport in Britain — being halted in an effort to contain the spread of the COVID-19 disease. That has led Tottenham to follow Barcelona and Juventus in trying to reduce the wage bill, including of the club's leadership.

MADRID (AP) — Barcelona had been on track for a record season in revenues, set to surpass 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) for the first time in club history.

A month later, the club is bracing for losses caused by coronavirus pandemic.

“We are the club with the greatest revenue in the world, but it's true that we won't be able to reach the 1.05 billion euros that we had budgeted for,” Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu said in a series of interviews published by Spanish media on Tuesday. “We were on a record pace in February, well above our expectations.”

HORSE RACING

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Another Kentucky Derby prep is off — for now.

The Santa Anita Derby, the West Coast's major prep for the Kentucky Derby, was to be run Saturday. However, it will be postponed until later in the season while Santa Anita remains closed for live racing during the coronavirus pandemic on orders of the Los Angeles County Health Department.

There are no known cases of COVID-19 at the track, officials said Tuesday. It has been closed to the public and only essential personnel have been allowed since March 12. The winter-spring meet is set to end in mid-June.

Track officials say they are continuing to have “constructive” talks with the health department and county Supervisor Kathryn Barger and her staff about the possibility of resuming live racing. Track officials say they submitted a proposal recently which they believe responds to the health department's requests.

COURTS

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — UFC light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones" Jones has pleaded guilty to his second drunken driving offense in New Mexico.

Court records show the 32-year-old mixed-martial arts fighter entered his plea Tuesday and was sentenced to one year of supervised probation. Jones also was ordered to complete a minimum of 90 days of out-patient treatment, pay maximum fines and fees, and complete community service.

As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors dropped other charges of possession of an open container, no proof of insurance, and negligent use of a deadly weapon.

In a statement, Jones apologized for disappointing family members, friends and fans.

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