A Cardboard Cutout Version of You Can Attend MLB Games

Cardboard Cutout Baseball Fans
(Twitter/darrenrovell)

As the major professional sports start their “training camps” in preparation for a return to action later this month, there’s one thing missing; fans. So far, there has been no official word on fans returning to the stands. The NBA will be playing in front of no one when they resume play at DisneyWorld, and the NFL is still entertaining the idea of limited capacity games versus virtual fans, but when it comes to baseball, plenty is up in the air.

Two teams, though, have made it clear that fans can be in the stands if they’re willing to pony up the $. And, also, if they are willing to accept being there in proxy, via a cardboard cutout of their likeness.

That’s right, the Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants are offering fans the chance to have their lifeless representation at home games this season. Which, honestly, sounds pretty cool. The cost to have your cardboard cutout attached to a seat range from $49 to $129. For the most expensive option, there is an added bonus.

If a foul ball hits your face (well, your cardboard face), the team will mail it to you. You can end up with a foul ball without even having to be there. You won’t go viral because you hilariously drop it, and you won’t have to wrestle some drunkard for it. Not a bad deal.

For fans, it’s a cool way to feel connected to your favorite team during this absolutely insane part of human history. Fans will get to collect their cardboard likeness at the end of the season. The money raised from the cutout sales will be going to local charities.

And, if you aren’t going to fill your stands with stuffed animals, this really does seem like the next best option.

NFL’s Solomon Thomas Surprises Dad With a New Tesla

Solomon Thomas Tesla Surprise
(Twitter/SollyThomas90)

A big surprise for a dad who has sacrificed so much for his son. That’s the type of Dad content we’re for: feel-good stories from the world of sports. And that’s what we got from Solomon Thomas, defensive tackle for the San Francisco 49ers. His dad had been driving the same car since Solomon, now a hulking professional athlete, was a 4th-grader.

But not anymore. Thomas surprised his dad on Father’s Day with a brand new car. And not just any car, he went top shelf and got his dad a Tesla.

Thomas posted the reaction video to social media, along with documenting his steps along the way, from purchasing the car to driving it back. Thomas comes from a close-knit family, and his dad’s reaction is just priceless.

Solomon said his father was a true role model.

“You will never meet a man with higher integrity, character, and work ethic,” he wrote on Twitter. “Would work out of state but still never miss my games. An honor to give back to my role model.”

An awesome gesture. Now we only hope that all awesome role model dads are honored similarly (hoping my 4-year-old is reading this right now).

Jamie Foxx Confirms He’ll Play Mike Tyson in Biopic

Foxx to Play Tyson
(Getty/ Al Bello)

There are few athletes in recent American history as provocative as Mike Tyson. The former heavyweight champion of the world was feared inside and outside of the ring, often as much for his erratic behavior as for his fearsome punching power.

Even aside from his legendary run as a boxer and his stint in prison, Tyson’s lisp, his face tattoo, and his strange proclamations (“I want to eat his children!”) made him a fascinating character. Despite a few documentaries and even a stage show, there has yet to be a biopic of the boxer. That may be about to change.

For six years now, a Mike Tyson movie project has been in the works, with Jamie Foxx set to star, but numerous delays and setbacks cast doubt on the fact that it will ever hit theaters. Now it seems like it may actually happen. Last week, Foxx was interviewed on Instagram Live by Hollywood producer Mark Birnbaum, and he confirmed that the movie is going forward, and he is indeed going to play the notorious boxer.

“It’s a definitive yes,” Foxx told Birnbaum. “Doing biographies is a tough thing. Sometimes it takes 20 years to get it done but we officially got the real ball rolling. I can’t wait to show people what it is.”

 

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The greatest of our generation for the hour Jamie Foxx

A post shared by Mark Birnbaum (@markbirnbaum) on

Foxx, a former comedian and gifted mimic who rose to prominence playing a quarterback in Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday and won an Oscar for portraying Ray Charles, is committed to some drastic weight change to transform himself into Iron Mike.

Speaking to Birnbaum, Foxx showed viewers a photo of his bulked-up physique discussed the work he’s doing to become the boxer, which includes 60 pull-ups, 60 dips, and 100 push-ups every other day as he aims to be between 216 and 230 pounds for the movie, which will portray Tyson through the years.

“I saw him at the height of his career, and then when things got bad and bumpy I also saw him as well. So what I’m excited about the movie is to show those moments,” he added. “I think everyone, young and old, will be able to understand this man’s journey.”

Tyson’s story is pretty insane, so it will be fun to see it on the big screen. Can Foxx pull it off? We’ll see. But we already know he can do the voice!

Cam Newton Signs With Patriots Just to Make Things Interesting

Cam Newton Patriots
(Getty/Streeter Lecka)

Recently, the NBA and the MLB have announced their plans for resuming their seasons and giving fans back some of the sports they’ve been desperate for since COVID-19 shut everything down in March. After successfully pulling off an entirely video-based draft, the NFL hasn’t said much, perhaps assuming that things will be fine come September. The off-season progressed pretty much as normal, aside from the fact that Tom Brady left New England to join the Tamp Bay Buccaneers.

That was weird. Even weirder is the prospect of the AFC, and the league as a whole, without a dominant Patriots team. But without Tom Brady behind center, it seemed likely. Even with the greatest coach of all time (besides Don Shula).

“Coincidentally” around the same time the Pats got fined $1 million, this news broke.

Look, no one is going to pretend that Cam Newton, even at his peak, is as good as Tom Brady. And he hasn’t been healthy in years. But the dude won the MVP award 5 years ago, and we can all agree he’s better than Jarett Stidham! It’s definitely worth the gamble.

Does this mean the Pats are back in the driver’s seat in the AFC or even the AFC East? Maybe not. Newton might not be healthy, and he might not even play a snap. But even despite some recent lackluster seasons, a healthy Newton is better than many of the QBs in the league, including Stidham and Andy Dalton (or whomever else the Patriots might have snapped up in free agency), and it’s a sign the Belichick and the Krafts have no interest in lying back and letting the Bills or the Jets or the Dolphins, led by rookie and future Hall of Fame Tua Tagovailoa, steal their crown. Not yet.

Newton’s contract is for one year and is loaded with incentives, a sure sign that nobody is entirely sold on him securing the starting job. But if he is healthy? If he does suit up as the Patriots QB? The rumors of the Patriots’ demise may be just that: rumors.

Either way, things are suddenly a lot more interesting. So long as the season happens, of course.

New England Patriots Hit With Big Punishment for Latest Cheating Scandal

Pats Fined $1 million
(Getty/Michael Reaves/Stringer)

The New England Patriots have found themselves embroiled in another cheating scandal, and the NFL did them no favors Sunday when they hit the Pats with a major blow, including a fine of more than $1 million and the loss of a third-round draft pick.

This stems from the New England video crew that was videotaping the Cincinnati Bengals sideline during a game with the Cleveland Browns. Caught in the act, they tried to explain it off saying they were “filming a documentary” about the scouting crew (New England was playing Cincinnati the next week).

The Patriots thought it was serious enough a charge to masterfully leak their pursuit of former MVP Cam Newton just minutes before the punishment story was released. And that is why they are the Patriots, with their innumerable Super Bowls and legacy of success. At least, that’s what most fans like to think.

Obviously, it breaks into two camps. The New England fans (the die-hards, the casual fans are now sporting Tampa Bay jerseys and spouting facts about Brady’s immortality) will give it an eye roll, trot out the team propaganda, and call it much ado about nothing.

Everyone else will rightly point out that it’s more smoke to a fire some believed to have been burning for years. On the surface…it’s not great, to be caught up in MULTIPLE cheating scandals over the last few years. And the NFL took this one seriously. You may think a $1 million fine is insignificant (and maybe it is to a billionaire owner) but it’s one of the biggest fines the NFL has levied.

And losing a third-round draft pick? An enormous cost to give up, especially when it was in service to beat THE CINCINNATI BENGALS! No one needs to cheat to beat the Bengals. The Bengals are pretty effective at beating themselves, in fact (caveat: I write this as a Bengals fan, and this does not apply to the Joe Burrow era, which inevitably is going to be epic and awesome and in no way another bust).

If you’re going to give up something as valuable as a third-round draft pick, you better at least get some good return on that, such as a playoff victory (AT A MINIMUM). Not a win over the worst team in the NFL last season.

Ultimately, it’s not going to be a huge deterrent. The Patriots will have a hard enough time being competitive after failing to add any key skill position players to their offense for years, and after losing cyborg quarterback Tom Brady.

And for the rest of the NFL, to which hating the New England Patriots is a fun hobby, it’s just more fuel to the fire.

Vince Carter: Half-Man, Half-Amazing, All Retired

Vince Retires
(Getty/Emilee Chinn/Stringer)

There have been a lot of “next Jordans” in the NBA over the past 25 years, and we all have our favorites. But only a few managed to make the conversation even slightly interesting. We lost one of them to tragedy earlier this year, and yesterday another decided to finally hang it up after more than two decades of highlights.

Vince Carter came into the league as a high-flying sensation, and while he never quite reached the championship heights he was aiming for, he parlayed his incredible athleticism and extreme likability into a long-lasting career, finally leaving as an elder statesman, respected around the league for his professionalism – and with a library of highlights.

Carter, who, at 43 was the oldest active player in the league, made it official on The Ringer’s “Winging It With Vince Carter” podcast, where he announced that he is “officially done playing basketball professionally.” He’d previously said that this year would be his last when he signed a one-year deal with the Atlanta Hawks last spring, and the former Atlanta Hawk, Toronto Raptor, Brooklyn Net (and five other teams!) stayed true to his word.

His status was in slight limbo thanks to the NBA’s suspension of playback in March because of the coronavirus, but when the Hawks weren’t one of the 22 teams eligible to continue to play in the league’s relaunch in Orlando, Carter decided it was time.

He explained on the podcast.

“If there was any disappointment because of the season — any of that — it was kind of easier to put it aside and handle it that way,” Carter said. “It’s like, OK, it’s something bigger than my career. … It’s unfortunate, but with the coronavirus taking people’s lives rapidly, that’s the big picture in my mind. So I was able to put the weird ending — the abrupt stoppage of play, to an ending — aside for the bigger picture.”

The eight-time all-star and rookie of the year winner (1999) leaves the game averaging 16.7 points (at 43!) and as the 19th leading scorer. He is also one of the all-time best dunkers! Highlights from the slam dunk contest he won in 2000 remain burned in my brain, as does his legendary posterizing of Frederic Weis.

Players across the league tweeted their respect for Carter, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement: “Vince Carter has made an indelible impact on the NBA with his remarkable skill and enduring commitment,” calling Carter “a true ambassador of the game.”

Carter, aka “half-man half-amazing,” is the first NBA player to appear in a game in 4 different decades. Here are some of his accomplishments:

Check out some highlights from Carter’s impressive career:

Skateboarding Man In Suit Lives in Shelter, Teaches Low-Income Kids to Skate

Skateboarding Man In Suit Lives in Shelter, Teaches Low-Income Kids to Skate
(Twitter/beautifuldaddi)

Watching Tony Hawk tear up skate parks for decades has conditioned us to be more or less obsessed with all things skating. Between the thrill of watching someone seemingly defy gravity with ease and fantasizing about one day doing it yourself (please don’t try), the art of skateboarding is exhilarating. Earlier this week, a viral video of a man skateboarding in a full suit kick-flipped its way into our hearts. Little did we know, his skateboarding skills weren’t even the coolest thing about this mystery man.

Fortunately for us, Jenkem Magazine managed to track him down – his name is Avery Baxter, and his story is worlds away from what anyone expected. When you see a man in a suit, you probably assume that he’s off to work (skateboards would definitely be cheaper than Uber). However, Baxter is currently homeless – he lives in transitional housing. He lost his house several months ago, and as a result, had to separate from his children and fiancé. According to the update to the viral video, Baxter wears a suit wherever he goes. His adoptive dad always said that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. After his dad passed away, the suits became a staple in Baxter’s wardrobe. Not only was it a great way to honor the memory of his late father, but the suit was the tool to ensure he was always ready to meet someone who may be important to him later down the line.

Baxter’s dad is undoubtedly smiling down on him now, vindicated that the trusty suit helped catapult his son into the public eye. The video, taken on Mother’s Day, shows Baxter on his way to surprise his adoptive mom. While passing a group of skaters, he decided to stop, ask them to borrow a skateboard, and attempt a trick he had never actually tried before. As you can see, he absolutely nailed it.

Baxter has always loved skating – he’s been doing it since he was little, and even taught his kids to skate. “I also teach kids skating from age three to 11, since they’re easier to work with,” Baxter told Jenkem Magazine. “They don’t think they know everything. I work with low income or Section 8 families. It’s more important for their kids to do something positive.”

Baxter has had far from an easy time in life. He was homeless, in foster care, horribly abused – he has seen more hardship in 38 years than most people would see in the course of 10 lifetimes. Even through all of it, he maintained a positive attitude. He continues to try his best to support his children, teach kids on the street to skateboard (and channels his own anxiety into skateboarding), and perhaps most importantly of all, he never forgets his suit.

Lakers’ Avery Bradley Skipping NBA Season to Protect 6-Yr-Old Son

Avery Skipping Season
(Getty/Harry How)

We all miss sports.

Sports are one of the coronavirus’s biggest casualties, with the outbreak causing all four major sports leagues to shut down. They are all making plans to come back, with the NBA – the cancellation of which was perhaps the first major sign that the pandemic was real, and it wasn’t going anywhere – the farthest along.

The NBA announced plans to finish out their season – which was suspended in March and would normally be deep into the playoffs right now – in Orlando’s Disney World compound. The plan is for the 22 teams with a competitive chance at the playoffs (out of 30) to be sequestered in Florida for a few months to finish out the season and hold their playoffs.

Things were looking good, and fans and players were getting amped for actual game action. And then COVID cases started spiking.

So you can’t blame Lakers guard Avery Bradley for choosing to skip the trip to Orlando, despite the fact that the Lakers are one of the favorites to win the championship. Bradley announced that he wouldn’t be joining the team, out of concern for his family, which includes his 6-year-old son who has a history of respiratory illness.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news on Twitter.

Bradley explained his decision to ESPN.

“I can’t imagine making any decision that might put my family’s health and well-being at even the slightest risk,” Bradley said. “As promised also, I will use this time away to focus on the formation of projects to help strengthen my communities.”

Skipping the rest of the season and the playoffs means that Bradley not only stands to lose a shot at the championship (the Lakers are the West’s #1 seed, and he has Lebron on his team!), but he’ll also lose about $650,000 in salary. Clearly this is not a decision he made lightly, and kudos to him for putting his family first.

Baseball Is Back: MLB Announces Return Date and Full Details

MLB is Back
(Twitter/ESPN)

America’s pastime is back, as Major League Baseball became the latest sport to announce its return to action. Earlier this week, MLB and the MLBPA announced there would be a shortened, 60-game regular season. This is terrific news and is news most fans welcomed after the owners did everything in their power to mess this up.

Sure, a lot of their tactics are infuriating and generated a lot of bad faith with the players, just a year before both sides will be negotiating again, likely leading to a stoppage down the road. But, that’s down the road! For now, we will have baseball again.

And, like most pro sports, things will look a little different. For instance, if you get within six feet of an umpire to argue a call, that manager is immediately suspended. Each team is going to play 40 divisional games and 20 interleague games in their same region (to cut down on travel and virus spread, the Midwest teams will be playing the NL and AL teams in the Midwest, etc etc).

“Spring training” will start July 1st for teams so players can get into game shape, with the regular season starting July 24th. Chief among rule changes is the universal DH (no more pitchers taking their cuts at the plate) and an extra-inning rule that will include starting innings with a baserunner on second.

The league is lifting the transaction freeze, and the traditional end of July trade deadline gets pushed back to August 31st.

One of the weirder developments immediately noted by most analysts, the agreement includes for the city of Nashville to host two teams of unsigned players as potential replacement players. There’s still a lot up in the air, but with teams lacking a functioning minor league system, there needs to be somewhere to go in a pinch.

Teams may also be forced to play their home games elsewhere if their home city becomes a COVID hotspot.

Still, it’s going to be awesome to have a baseball season. Especially a compressed, 60-game season, as it’s going to heighten the importance and tension of every game. Great for fans (better than nothing, at least), and great for the players who wanted to get a deal done months ago.

Play ball.

NBA Players Will Be Wearing COVID-Detecting Smart Rings

COVID-19 Detecting Ring
(Oura)

The NBA was the first major pro sports league to announce a return to action, slating the resumption of their season for a late July start. And yeah, it’s gonna be a little weird. For starters, every team is playing and living at Disney World. There are currently debates about how (and when) players’ families will be allowed into “the bubble” the league will have for players and staff on site. And the COVID precautions are going to be to the max.

For starters, outside of the regular testing, and the creation of this “bubble” system where players are living in the same hotel and discouraged from leaving, there will be no fans at any games. OK, so we get that. But it appears the NBA is taking things a step further, as players will have the option to wear a ring that can detect COVID-19 symptoms up to three days before a traditional test (with nearly 90 percent accuracy).

The Oura Ring is capable of detecting some of the traditional symptoms, as it has sensors that measure things like temperature, heart rate, sleeping patterns, and respiratory rate. Players will be able to see their results in an app, so they have the most up-to-date representation of their health.

Honestly, the ring sounds like something out of a James Bond movie. And yeah, if such technology is this consistent and accurate, maybe they should go to healthcare professionals or first responders, but where’s the fun in that? Also, until hospital workers are flush with the PPE that will keep them safe in their jobs, they probably wouldn’t be too thrilled to have fancy wearable tech.

And the ring, designed to monitor sleeping patterns, wasn’t built for COVID purposes, it just happens to work pretty well for this particular virus. It’s not even FDA approved yet to detect the virus, so it’s not worth getting too bent out of shape with the “leave em for healthcare workers!” take.

It will be interesting to see how many NBA players actually end up wearing the ring and how effective they end up being. So far, a handful of players in the NBA already rock the technology, even pre-COVID, so I imagine most players will be opting in for one more level of precaution as they resume their season.

Here’s How to MacGyver a Father’s Day Themed Mini-Putt Course

Father's Day Classic Golf Course
(Life360/Titleist)

Historically, dads love to golf. It’s the perfect combination of a leisurely pace, freshly tended-to grass, and retrieving ice-cold beer from a cooler. It’s the perfect break from home life. “Golf” is, after all, an acronym for “Go Often, Limit Family” (citation needed).

Lots of dads tend to go golfing on Father’s Day, but chances are you’ll be spending this coming one indoors. Not to worry! The good folks at Life360 have teamed up with the good folks at Titleist to bring you a 5-hole course you can forge right in your living room.

Each hole can be easily constructed from common household items.

From your most trusty pair of New Balances…

(Life360)

…to a simple cup!

(Life360)
(Life360)

Be sure to incorporate some greenery!

(Life360)

And don’t forget: munchies are a crucial part of the game.

(Life360)

And it gets better! Life360 is asking dads to snap photos of themselves putting on their DIY courses and send them to [email protected] for a chance to win a $400 Scotty Cameron putter OR a dozen Pro VI golf balls!

Have fun and don’t forget to shout “play through” at your cat a couple of times.

Soccer Fan Manages to Rush Field During Empty Stadium Game

Fan Storms Field
(Twitter/beINSPORTSUSA)

Sports, like anything else these days, are trying to figure out how to come back safely in the age of COVID. Everyone is trying something a little different. The NFL is planning to pipe in crowd noise and use virtual fans so their TV broadcasts don’t feel too different. The NBA is playing all their games at Disney World and keeping everyone quarantined in the same bubble. The NHL is doing a ginormous Stanley Cup Playoffs, and MLS is doing a fun World Cup-esque style tournament. Major League Baseball, well, the owners just hate their fans so we probably won’t see any baseball.

Overseas, they are even farther ahead in sporting endeavors. New Zealand, a nation that has crushed the virus (no new cases in several weeks) even has fans back in the stands. Everywhere else, fans are a strict no-go. This is why it’s awesome that a soccer game between Barcelona and Mallorca got interrupted by a fan storming the field. That’s right, in a supposedly empty stadium game, security had to chase someone off the field and apprehend them. Just like the old days.

It’s hard to watch that clip without a wave of normalcy washing over you, as crazy fans running onto the field are about as basic as sports get. It’s not just a soccer phenomenon, but for almost all sports (you’ll see idiots running around NFL fields and baseball outfields, but you won’t see them slipping and sliding around the rink at NHL games).

From the fan perspective, it’s quite a dilemma. You’ve snuck into an empty stadium to watch a La Liga game and one of the best players in the world, Lionel Messi. You could have this experience to yourself and remember it forever. Or you could make a run at glory, hit the field, and get arrested. This fan opted for the latter, becoming the first post-COVID crazed fan, landing him in the history books somewhere.

The rest of the game was far more predictable, with Barcelona cruising to a 4-0 win.

For nostalgia purposes, here are some of the greatest fans on-field displays.

Trailer for Madden 21 Showcases Lamar Jackson, New Gameplay

Madden 21 Trailer
(YouTube/EAMADDENNFL)

Last Christmas, my son got a PlayStation. This was before the quarantine hit, so I had no idea how much he’d be playing it, but I was excited to finally be able to play Madden again. I hadn’t so much as touched a controller or taken a computerized snap since Marshall Faulk was on the cover. Turns out the game has gotten a lot more realistic, both graphically and in terms of gameplay. You practically have to be a football coach to be able to call the right play!

A few months ago, we got the official announcement that the Baltimore Ravens’ young QB Lamar Jackson, reigning NFL MVP and two-time playoff flame-out, was getting the controversial, but coveted, spot on the cover. Some people think the game’s cover-boy is cursed to get injured during the season, but Lamar isn’t worried.

Maybe because he knew things were about to change?

EA Sports released Madden 21’s trailer today, and even I, someone who has barely played the game in over a decade, can tell something new is afoot. There are a bunch of changes to gameplay, as EA attempts to make it more customizable than ever.

SportingNews breaks down all the changes and new features, and you can see some of them for yourself in the trailer:

Madden 21 gets released on August 25, 2020. But if you have EA Access, Origin Access, or Origin Access Premier, then you can play three days earlier on August 22, 2020. The trailer also says if you preorder Madden, you’ll also be able to play three days earlier.