S.F. Giants Socially Distanced Party At Home Plate ... For Walk-Off HR

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SAFETY FIRST
Courtesy of MLB

Dog piles OUT ... air fives and no-touching circles IN?!?

The S.F. Giants got SUPER creative with their celebration of Mike Yastrzemski's walk-off home run Wednesday ... ditching home plate mobs for a socially distanced party!!!

The scene was hilarious ... in the bottom of the 9th, tied at 6-6 with the Padres, Carl Yastrzemski's grandson hit a moonshot to right that gave the Giants their 3rd win of the season.

Under normal circumstances ... Yaz would've been downright tackled once he finished rounding the bases -- but in a pandemic?? IT WAS A SOCIAL DISTANCE FIESTA, BABY!!

Check out the clip ... the Giants stormed home plate -- but then did nothing more than circle around Yastrzemski and bounce up and down!!

Of course, the guys could've MAYBE done a better job of staying 6 feet apart ... but props for the effort!!

Tennis Star Ash Barty Opts Out of U.S. Open Over COVID ... #1 Female Player

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Ash Barty -- the #1 ranked female tennis player in the world -- is opting out of the U.S. Open ... saying it's just too risky to play.

The 24-year-old Australian says she loves the annual tournament -- set to begin in New York on August 31 -- but she doesn't feel comfortable bringing her team into a danger zone while the pandemic is still raging in the U.S.

"My team and I have decided that we won't be travelling to the ... Western & Southern Open and the U.S. Open this year," Barty said.

"I love both events so this was a difficult decision, but there are still significant risks involved due to COVID-19 and I don't feel comfortable putting my team and I in that position."

She added, "I wish the USTA all the best for the tournaments and I look forward to being back in the U.S. next year."

Australia has closed its international borders -- which would make overseas travel difficult for Barty anyway.

If she did make the trip, she would be required to spend 2 weeks in quarantine, per Australia's pandemic travel policy.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hospitalized in NYC After Non-Surgical Procedure

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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be recovering in a hospital bed for the rest of this week after undergoing another medical procedure.

RBG's office says she is resting comfortably at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City after undergoing a minimally invasive, non-surgical procedure Wednesday. Doctors revised a bile duct stent she got last August.

The famously tough cookie is expected to be released from the hospital by the end of the week, according to the Supreme Court, which says RBG's doctors point out stent revisions are common occurrences and the non-surgical procedure was performed to minimize the risk of future infection.

The 87-year-old's hospital trip is her second this month and comes on the heels of Ruth announcing her cancer returned and she recently completed a round of chemotherapy.

Virginia Tech Star Caleb Farley 'Opts Out' of College Football ... Will Train for NFL

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Welp, here's a first ...

A big time college football star is opting out of the 2020 NCAA football season over COVID concerns -- and will prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft instead.

The player is Virginia Tech star Caleb Farley -- one of the best cornerbacks in the country. He made 1st team All-ACC in 2019 after recording 20 tackles, 4 pics and a TD.

But, Farley says he will NOT return to VT for his junior year because quite frankly, he doesn't feel safe with the pandemic still in full swing.

"I am opting out due to uncertain health conditions and regulations and all of the other opt outs going on in football right now," Farley said Wednesday in a video statement.

"I tragically lost my mother Robin January 2, 2018 to an illness and I cannot afford to lose another parent or loved one."

The good news for Farley ... some experts already have him slated as a 1st round pick in 2021.

The bad news for Virginia Tech ... it's a big loss for that defense.

In fact, 247Sports ranked Farley as the 16th best player in college football going into the 2021 season.

"Though the competitor in me badly wants to play this season, I cannot ignore what's going on in my heart and I must make the decision that brings me the most peace," Farley added.

"Thank you, Virginia Tech -- my coaches, teammates and anyone else who has supported me in the past."

The question now ... with so much uncertainty surrounding college football -- will other big stars follow suit?!

Stay tuned ...

Denver Nuggets Speak W/ MPJ Over COVID Conspiracy ... 'Population Control'

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HERE'S WHAT I THINK...

1:58 PM PT -- Nuggets head coach Michael Malone says the team talked to MPJ about his comments ... but made it clear he's "not the thought police."

"I'm not going to tell any of our players what they can and can't say," Malone said. "All I would say is just be sensitive to the current situation in our country and throughout the world in regards to coronavirus."

Malone says MPJ met with Tim Connelly, Denver's president of basketball ops, about his comments ... but denies it became a distraction with the team.

"If somebody has a strong belief on something, they have the platform and freedom to use that," Malone added. "We will just try to educate guys so that they understand the impact of what they may be saying."

Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. believes COVID was secretly created for global "population control" ... and warns things are about to get much, much worse.

It was all part of a bizarre Snapchat Q&A session on Tuesday -- when the 2018 1st-round NBA Draft pick decided to go full conspiracy theorist when asked about the pandemic.

"Personally, I think that the coronavirus is being used obviously for a bigger agenda," 22-year-old Porter said from his room in the NBA Bubble in Orlando.

"It’s being used for population control in just terms of being able to control the masses of people."

More than 661,000 people have reportedly died from COVID around the world since the pandemic began -- with more than 16.7 MILLION cases.

Porter thinks it's all part of some diabolical plot for global control.

"Because of this virus, the whole world is being controlled. You’re required to wear masks, and who knows what’ll happen when this vaccine comes out. You might have to have the vaccine in order to travel. That’d be crazy."

And yeah, that's when Porter pivoted into some anti-vaxxer talk ...

"I've never been vaccinated in my life. I've never had any shots or anything like that. So, it could get crazy."

FYI, it seems impossible for Porter not to have been vaccinated at some point in his life since basketball players at Missouri (where he played college ball) were required to comply with the 2-dose MMR Immunization Policy -- which essentially requires proof of vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella.

Still, Porter continued his rant ...

"It's definitely an agenda behind everything that's going on right now and all you can do is sit back and watch what's going on."

"Don't get too emotionally involved," Porter warned ... "but yeah, I mean it is a serious thing -- it's a real thing but yes it's being overblown."

Sidenote -- please be safe out there.

Ex-College Football Player Shot In Liquor Store Fight ... Terrifying Video

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FISTS TO FIREARMS
NYPD Crimestoppers

1:21 PM PT -- The NYPD says it apprehended the shooting suspect late Wednesday afternoon.

"Great investigative work done by the 105 Precinct Detective Squad, Queens South Homicide, Sergeant Castle, Detective Covatti & the rest of Team Castle from Regional Fugitive Task Force for apprehending Jeffrey Thurston in less than 48 hours," NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison said.

A former Buffalo State football player is fighting for his life after being shot during an altercation at a liquor store Monday ... and cops have released the shocking footage in hopes of catching the suspect.

NYPD officials say a fight broke out between Malachi Capers -- a former D-end at Buff. State -- and another man after the two bumped into each other inside 136 Deli & Grill in Queens.

You can see in surveillance footage of the incident ... Capers brushed up against the man's shoulder -- and then the two exchanged words.

Eventually, fists started flying ... and that's when the former football player tackled the guy to the ground outside the store.

When the man was able to free himself from Capers' grasp ... you can see in the video, he pulled out a firearm and shot the 20-year-old in the stomach.

Capers is now reportedly in the hospital battling critical injuries.

Now, the NYPD says it's looking for the gunman -- who officials ID'ed as Jeffrey Thurston -- and is asking for any help in finding his location.

Buffalo State head coach Christian Ozolins, meanwhile, released a statement to multiple media outlets regarding the shooting ... saying, "Malachi was a well-liked member of our football family during his freshman year in 2018 and has remained a friend to many in our program as he has continued his education at Buffalo State after leaving the team due to on-going injury issues."

"We have him in our thoughts as we wish for a speedy and full recovery."

Originally published -- 7:32 AM PT

NY Giants' Nate Solder Opts Out Of 2020 NFL Season Cites Son's Cancer Battle

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NY Giants tackle Nate Solder is opting out the 2020 NFL season -- saying it's just too risky to play while his 5-year-old son is still battling cancer.

Hudson Solder was diagnosed with cancerous tumors in his kidneys when he was 3 months old. He's been undergoing treatment ever since.

Just last fall, Hudson had a surgical procedure to remove a tumor -- and also underwent a 3rd round of chemotherapy. Yeah, he's one tough kid.

Nate also battled testicular cancer prior to the 2014 season.

Oh, and Nate's wife JUST gave birth to a brand new baby boy.

The 2-time Super Bowl champion was set to make $13 MILLION in 2020 -- but after weighing the risks, Solder decided the juice just ain't worth the squeeze.

"With fear and trembling, we struggle to keep our priorities in order and, for us, our children's health and the health of our neighbors come before football."

Solder added, "We fully recognize that being able to make a decision like this a privilege."

The 32-year-old lineman says he will miss his Giants teammates ... and thanks the team and fans for respecting his decision.

Solder joins a list of NFLers who have opted out this week -- including Eagles WR Marquise Goodwin, who said he refuses to risk the health of his 5-month-old daughter.

Other players include Patrick Chung and Dont'a Hightower of the New England Patriots ... as well as De'Anthony Thomas and Chance Warmack.

Braves' Nick Markakis Opts Back In To MLB Season ... 'Felt Like I Needed To Be Out There'

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Nick Markakis is back ... the Atlanta Braves OF says he made a "rash" decision initially opting out of the MLB season -- and now, he says he's ready to rejoin his teammates.

"Sometimes in life you make rash decisions without thinking things through," the 36-year-old told reporters Wednesday. "At the time, I thought it was the right decision."

Nick chose to sit out just before the start of Braves' summer camp earlier this month ... saying a conversation with teammate Freddie Freeman cemented his feelings on the matter

At the time, Freddie was sick as hell with COVID-19 ... and Nick wanted no part of that battle -- so he left the squad.

But, Markakis said Wednesday he's back for good ... and while he admitted he's still not sure it's the RIGHT decision -- he felt like he just had to do it for his teammates.

"Sitting at home," Markakis said, "watching these guys compete the last couple days and all the risks that they're taking going out there, you know, I just in a way, deep down, that pit in my stomach, I felt like I needed to be out there."

It's a huge boost for the Braves ... Atlanta needed some outfield help after their agreement with Yasiel Puig fell through due to a positive coronavirus case earlier this month.

Markakis has spent the last 5 seasons with the Braves ... and batted .285 last season with 9 home runs. He's expected to join Atlanta's lineup in the next few days.

Buccaneers' Cameron Brate TB12's Workout Pal Recovers from COVID ... Big Questions Loom

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FOR THE GREATER GOOD
@cambamgram / Instagram

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate says he's back to 100% after being diagnosed with COVID-19 -- but there are a lot of unanswered questions surrounding his illness.

Brate just issued a statement saying he's recovered from the virus -- but he has not said when he was diagnosed or when he was cleared.

In other words, Brate is being secretive about when he actually had the virus ... which raises a lot of questions considering he spent a lot of time working out with Tom Brady in the past few months.

Brate was reportedly working out with Brady in the Tampa Bay Area beginning in June and going through July -- despite the NFLPA advising against players training together during the pandemic.

Remember, Brady famously posted that Franklin Roosevelt quote in the light of criticism which said, "Only thing we have to fear, is fear itself."

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

Did Brate contract COVID during the workouts? Was any other player exposed? We just don't know.

Nevertheless, 29-year-old Brate is now urging others to take the pandemic seriously ... and even dropped a new PSA on Wednesday.

"The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating effect on our population and it continues to impact nearly every aspect of our lives," Brate says.

He also urges people to donate plasma to help with COVID research.

"If you were diagnosed with COVID-19 or tested positive with antibodies and fully recovered and are symptom-free for at least two weeks, please consider visiting a local donor center."

"We’re all in this together and your donation can make a difference in someone’s life.”

As for Tom Brady, he seems to be fine -- he reported to the Bucs facility for testing last week and continues to be tested daily along with every other Bucs player.

NBA Zero New COVID-19 Positives ... 344 Players Tested

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More great news from the NBA ... a 2nd straight week with ZERO positive COVID-19 tests from players and staffers inside the bubble.

While MLB, NFL, and other sports are scrambling to figure out how to proceed safely -- the NBA seems to have it down.

The league claims that 344 players were tested and NONE of the tests came back positive for coronavirus.

There have been some issues with the bubble -- some players have violated the rules to get things like delivery food and strip club chicken wings -- but so far, the league has been able to avoid an outbreak.

There are strict protocols in place for breaches -- mandatory quarantine periods -- and judging by the numbers, it's effective.

The NBA season is set to officially tip-off Thursday night and this is the kind of news that players, staff, executives and fans were hoping to hear!!

Padres' Tommy Pham Takes 86 MPH Pitch to Man Junk ... 'Career Almost Ended'

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OUCH
MLB

CUP CHECK!!!!!

San Diego Padres outfielder Tommy Pham took a pitch directly to the ding dong zone Tuesday -- and YOU KNOW YOU'RE SQUIRMING JUST READING THIS!!!

Talk about a breaking ball, huh?!!

Pham was facing SF Giants reliever Sam Coonrod in the top of the 8th -- when a slider slid a little too far and hit Tommy right in the man junk!!!

The pitch was clocked at 86 MPH -- which ain't exactly slow -- but somehow, Pham wasn't hurt.

In fact, he handled the situation so well, Pham got props from Giants analyst Mike Krukow on the broadcast.

"Oh, man. Tommy Pham you are a better man than I am," Krukow said. "I'd be doing snow angels in the batter's box on that one."

Pham ran the bases for himself after the HBP ... but he was pulled from the game shortly after in the bottom of the 8th.

Fortunately, Padres manager Jayce Tingler said he was removed for precautionary reasons ... and is expected to be fine going forward.

After the game, Pham joked about the incident on Instagram -- saying, "Career almost ended."

Dude. Too soon.

Chainsmokers Concert Organizers Say it was COVID Safe ... Claim Video Misleading

Exclusive

The Chainsmokers' drive-in concert in the Hamptons sure looked dangerous, COVID-wise, but sources connected to the charity event say don't believe your eyes ... and insist coronavirus guidelines were in place.

These sources tell TMZ ... videos circulating of the Saturday night concert are misleading, and don't show how the area in front of the stage was fenced off and only allowed 10 people per section.

PACKED IN
@eyeoftheo / Instagram

Mind you, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo saw the videos from the weekend show, and was livid. He called out the concert for "egregious social distancing violations," and the New York State Department of Health has launched an investigation.

However, the sources connected to the concert say the section right in front of the stage was for family and friends and people who worked the event -- and didn't have car spaces to watch the show.

Obviously, they should still maintain social distancing, but we're told the general public was NOT allowed to rush the stage and pack that area.

On top of that, our sources say organizers of the Southampton even obtained all the proper permits from the city for a public gathering and adhered to all the COVID-19 regulations ... including temperature checks at the door, providing masks, and having security monitor physical distancing among the various parties in the drive-in crowd.

We're also told reports of the concert being shut down for not following the public health rules are untrue. Our sources say the permit only allowed the event to go until 10:30 PM ... so it ended at 10:25 PM.

As we reported ... health commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker says he's "at a loss as to how the Town of Southampton could have issued a permit for such an event, how they believed it was legal and not an obvious public health threat."

Tua Tagovailoa Dolphins Declare QB Fully Healthy ... Cleared For Practice

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Awesome news out of Miami ... Dolphins 1st-round pick Tua Tagovailoa has been declared fully healthy by the team -- this just months after the QB suffered a gruesome injury.

Tua -- who dislocated his hip, fractured his pelvis, broke his nose and suffered a concussion in a game last November -- has just been cleared to practice with the 'Fins.

Head coach Brian Flores made the announcement Wednesday ... saying, "He's through the physical. And when we do get to practice, you'll see him out there."

Of course, it's amazing news for the 22-year-old ... some wondered if Tua would ever be able to walk properly again -- let alone play NFL quarterback -- after the initial diagnosis.

In fact, some experts compared the injury to Bo Jackson's, which ultimately cost the former Raiders superstar his career in both football and baseball.

STILL GOT IT

But, Tua's repeatedly said this offseason his hip has been healing well -- he even posted workout footage in the pre-draft buildup back in April to prove it -- and clearly, the Dolphins now agree.

Unclear if Tua will now be the opening day starter for the Dolphins when the season kicks off in September -- Flores says there will be an open competition these next few weeks for the role.

L.A. County Sheriff's That Wasn't a Tamponccino!!! Investigation Clears Starbucks

The L.A. County Sheriff's Department's investigation has determined a cop's Starbucks drink was NOT tampered with a tampon -- instead it was a cleaning cloth ... which still ain't great.

You remember an off-duty LAPD cop made the accusation last month ... saying a Starbucks employee stuffed down a tampon in the Frapp drink he ordered. The cop claimed he used his police credit union debit card to buy the drink and says he found the feminine hygiene product inside his drink. This all went down at the height of social unrest over police brutality.

In any event ... the Sheriff's Dept. investigated and was unable to prove the store employee acted maliciously. Sheriff Alex Villanueva said, "Based on the evidence available at this time, the item in the drink was possibly a cleaning type cloth commonly used by store employees."

NYPD had a similar alleged situation with a Shake Shack order, but again... no ill will was proven there.

Old news is old news!
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