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Start your morning with Buzzcast: Yormark takes Big 12 reins Aug. 1, and Canton welcome Joe Browne and others with Awards of Excellence.

LIV Golf's U.S. debut met with heavy opposition

The LIV Golf Invitational series arrives in the U.S. today with the start of its event at Oregon's Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, and the Saudi government-backed LIV "continues to roil a genteel sport." There is "vehement opposition by some to holding the three-day tournament." The disapproval "has come from politicians, a group of 9/11 survivors and family members, club members who have resigned in protest and at least one outspoken club board member" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/30). A group of survivors and families who lost loved ones in the Sept. 11 terror attacks is "planning to gather at a nearby park." Brett Eagleson, who was 15 years old when he lost his father in the collapse of the World Trade Center, said, “We want the golfers to know who they’re getting in bed with, who they’re doing business with” (AP, 6/29).

Today's event begins with a shotgun start at 4:15pm ET and can be seen on LIV's YouTube page. 

A's eye key approval for Oakland development

A key California state agency is expected to vote today on whether the A’s "can move forward" with their $12B plan to "build a waterfront ballpark and surrounding development at Howard Terminal." The S.F. Bay Conservation & Development Commission is "expected to weigh in on whether to approve the A’s request to remove Howard Terminal’s 56 acres from port designation." The A’s need a two-thirds vote in their favor "before they can submit a permit application to BCDC." Without a "yes vote, the A’s project will die." This comes after a mid-June "final recommendation from BCDC staff that determined Howard Terminal can be used for a new ballpark project" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 6/29).

Casey Close denies report on Freeman contract

Excel Sports Management agent Casey Close "strongly denied a tweet from Fox Sports radio host Doug Gottlieb that he withheld" from Dodgers 1B Freddie Freeman the Braves’ "final contract offer and said he is considering legal action over the report." In a statement issued last night, Close said, “There is no truth whatsoever to what Doug Gottlieb recklessly tweeted, and I would testify to that under oath. We are currently evaluating all legal options in this matter.” In a tweet yesterday, Gottlieb wrote, "Close never told Freddie Freeman about the Braves final offer, that is why Freeman fired him. He found out in Atlanta this weekend. ... Close knew Freddie would have taken the ATL deal" (SI.com, 6/30).

Avs expect big crowd for championship parade

The Stanley Cup champion Avalanche today will parade down 17th Street in downtown Denver, "from Union Station to Civic Center Park." More than 200,000 fans are "expected to attend." The Avalanche "did a practice lap at Coors Field on Wednesday evening before" the Rockies hosted the Dodgers. At the ballpark, Avs players "took turns hoisting the fabled trophy over their heads as they circled the field and fans snapped photos." Team captain Gabe Landeskog "brought the Cup to the stands," then "took center stage, hiking the mound to throw out the ceremonial first pitch" (DENVER POST, 6/29).

Gary Denbo out as Marlins VP; was a big Jeter hire

The Marlins "have parted ways" with VP/Player Development & Scouting Gary Denbo, a source confirmed. Denbo was former team CEO Derek Jeter’s "first big front office hire after the Bruce Sherman ownership group took over the franchise in late 2017." Prior to that, Denbo spent 23 years with the Yankees, the final three as VP/Player Development. In addition to "overseeing the Marlins’ minor-league developments and being the point person for the club’s various scouting departments, Denbo was also one of several front office officials Jeter consulted" when it came to "baseball operations decisions" (MIAMI HERALD, 6/29).

Pro Football HOF dials up Awards of Excellence

The Pro Football HOF today inducts the inaugural class of Awards of Excellence winners, including some longtime PR execs. Joe Browne worked at the NFL for more than 50 years; Charlie Dayton worked at the Buccaneers, Panthers and in Washington; Joe Gordon for the Steelers; Jim Saccomano spent 36 years at the Broncos; Gary Wright spent more than 30 years at the Seahawks. They will join trainers, equipment managers and assistant coaches in being honored today. A crowd of 300 is expected in Canton, where HOFer Dan Fouts is the emcee. Winners' names will be placed on display in Canton, and they will be invited to '22 Enshrinement Week festivities this August (SBJ).

PRO FOOTBALL HOF AWARDS OF EXCELLENCE WINNERS
PR PERSONNEL ATHLETIC TRAINERS EQUIPMENT MANAGERS ASSISTANT COACHES
Joe Browne George Anderson Sid Brooks Alex Gibbs
Charlie Dayton Otho Davis Ed Carroll Jimmy Raye
Joe Gordon John Omohundro Tony Parisi Terry Robiskie
Jim Saccomano Jerry Rhea Dan "Chief" Simmons Fritz Shurmur
Gary Wright Fred Zamberletti Whitey Zimmerman Ernie Zampese
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Pro Football HOF Awards of Excellence

SBJ Spotlight: Championship viewer trends

SBJ's Abe Madkour and Austin Karp take a look at the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Final viewership trends. Karp also gives insight into the men's College World Series audience numbers.

CBS's "The Late Show" spoofs SCOTUS ruling

CBS’s "The Late Show" weighed in on the SCOTUS ruling in favor of former high school football coach Joseph Kennedy's right to pray on the field after games. The opening segment featured a dubbed-over version of a pregame speech from the original "Friday Night Lights" movie, with the coach telling players he was a “member of the Temple of the True Inner Light.” The coach said the church “is not one you’ve heard of. It’s about shrooms and how psychedelics … are the true flesh of God.”

Later, host Stephen Colbert also talked about the SCOTUS ruling, then blew a whistle, threw a yellow penalty flag and said, “Illegal procedure! Twelve Apostles on the field!” Colbert: “If the court believes this type of Christian ritual is okay for public schools, then I’m sure they’ll be fine with every religion going varsity. I can’t wait for the Satanic cheerleaders: ‘D-E-V-I-L, come on team let’s burn in hell! Saaaaacrifice a goat!’” (“The Late Show,” CBS, 6/29).

Speed Reads....

Browns QB Deshaun Watson’s disciplinary hearing in front of neutral officer Sue Robinson "will resume" today for a "third straight day" in Delaware. Watson is "present for the duration." If it wraps up today, Robinson "can either request briefs from both sides, or the two sides can agree to file them" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 6/29).

The Charlotte Observer runs a six-page special tribute section to late NASCAR HOFer Bruton Smith before his funeral today, featuring full-page ads by, Bank of America, Coca-Cola and SMI, the company Smith founded (SBJ).

Quick Hits....

“They’re all saying they want to change golf, they’re doing it for the better of golf. No one has said, ‘Hey, when I look back 50 years from now … we’ll have made this tour (what it is).’ No one has said that. You know why? Because they’re not going to be around in three years” -- World Golf HOFer Fred Couples, on LIV Golf (GOLF MAGAZINE, 6/29).

Morning Hot Reads: One year of the NIL era

ESPN.com goes with, "Perspectives from around college sports on NIL's one-year anniversary." July 1 marks the one-year anniversary of the NIL era in college sports, and since then, there have been NIL deals for "things as varied as candles, dog food and local supermarkets." There also have been "NFTs and car deals." Athletes, some of whom were "already social media influencers, now became able to capitalize on their large followings." But the details around NIL are "still confusing for some of the athletes who've been asked to navigate the new landscape."

Also:

Twitter Me This....

Final Jeopardy!

Last night’s “Final Jeopardy!” category was “Television History.”

“In the opening scene of its July 21, 1969 pilot episode, a man carves the letter D into wet cement.”

Today's Back Pages....

The Morning Buzz offers today's back page sports covers from some of North America's major metropolitan tabloids:

N.Y. Post N.Y. Daily News Newsday Boston Herald Chicago Sun-Times Philadelphia Daily News

Laugh Track: Sweet spot

CBS’s “The Late Late Show” is broadcasting from London this week, with host James Corden noting the Wimbledon fortnight is “traditionally the two weeks where everyone in Britain pretends to care about tennis.” Corden said British tennis player Jodie Burrage during her match “stopped play to help a ball boy who was feeling faint, and she nursed him back to health by giving him the British candy Percy Pigs.” Show writer Ian Karmel: “If I was at the store and I was like, ‘I’ll take some Percy Pigs,’ and they were like, ‘If you eat even one of these it’ll give you diabetes,’ I’d say, ‘I’ll take some Percy Pigs and some insulin, please’” (“The Late Late Show,” CBS, 6/29).

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