Sony-made MLB The Show 21 is coming to Xbox Game Pass at launch

Sony’s new Xbox game will be on Microsoft’s subscription service.

MLB The Show 21 is coming to Xbox Game Pass at launch.

Xbox Game Pass is Microsoft’s video game subscription service that offers access to over 100 games on its consoles and PCs. The base price is $10 per month for just the games access on either console or PC. Those who also want Xbox Live Gold for multiplayer gaming, EA Play for Electronic Arts games and the ability to play on phones and tablets through Cloud Gaming (plus access to both the console and PC versions of the service) can subscribe to Game Pass Ultimate for $15 per month.

The move is the latest in Microsoft’s efforts to build out its Game Pass library, particularly for sports gamers. Last month the company added 2K’s NBA 2K21 to its regular Game Pass offering, as well as EA Sports’ Madden 21 and NHL 21 to its Ultimate roster through the EA Play deal.

What makes Friday’s announcement surprising, however, is that unlike those titles, The Show 21 is made by Microsoft-rival Sony’s PlayStation Studios. With the ability to get it on Game Pass, the new game is more widely accessible on Xbox than it is on Sony’s own PlayStation 4 and PS5. The addition of Cloud Gaming support also means that, at least for now, the only way to play The Show 21 on the go appears to be on Xbox as Sony has long ceased making its own portable consoles, such as the PlayStation Portable and PS Vita.

As for what is behind this move, a statement from Sony places the spotlight on MLB.

“As part of the goal for this year’s game, MLB decided to bring the franchise to more players and baseball fans,” the company says. “This decision provides a unique opportunity to further establish MLB The Show as the premier brand for baseball video games.”

Field of Dreams game: Watch Kevin Costner’s spine-tingling intro speech

They built it and Costner came out of the corn for real at this memorable MLB baseball game between the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox.

Kevin Costner on the Field of Dreams at the first MLB game in Iowa, August 2021.

Inspired by the 1989 movie, Major League Baseball built a temporary 8,000-seat ballpark at the farm in Dyersville, Iowa, where the movie was filmed. The New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox played a real professional MLB game Thursday.

So who won? Under the beautiful Iowa night sky, Tim Anderson capped the ninth inning by smashing one of the game’s several home runs into the cornfield, winning the game 9-8 for the White Sox.

The game was postponed from 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, so the event and its opening ceremony had an extra poignancy as an opportunity for 7,832 people to gather and enjoy the simple pleasure of a ballgame.

The New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox emerge from the corn onto the Field of Dreams.

Written and directed by Phil Alden Robinson and based on the novel Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella, the Oscar-nominated Field of Dreams starred Costner as a farmer who hears voices in his head telling him to plow his cornfield into a baseball diamond. The cornfield-ballfield attracts the spirits of baseball players involved in World Series match-fixing in the infamous 1919 Black Sox scandal.

The MLB has promised a return to Iowa in 2022, although the current disruption caused by the delta variant is a stark warning that the pandemic is far from over.

Social networks struggle to shut down racist abuse after England’s Euro Cup final loss

Social media users have been frustrated at having to perform moderation duties to keep racist abuse in check.

Bukayo Saka of England is consoled by head coach Gareth Southgate.

The vitriol presented a direct challenge to the social networks — an event-specific spike in hate speech that required them to refocus their moderation efforts to contain the damage. It marks just the latest incident for the social networks, which need to be on guard during highly charged political or cultural events. While these companies have a regular process that includes deploying machine-automated tools and human moderators to remove the content, this latest incident is just another source of frustration for those who believe the social networks aren’t quick enough to respond.

To plug the gap, companies rely on users to report content that violates guidelines. Following Sunday’s match, many users were sharing tips and guides about how to best report content, both to platforms and to the police. It was disheartening for those same users to be told that a company’s moderation technology hadn’t found anything wrong with the racist abuse they’d highlighted.

It also left many users wondering why, when Facebook, for example, is a billion-dollar company, it was unprepared and ill-equipped to deal with the easily anticipated influx of racist content — instead leaving it to unpaid good Samaritan users to report.

For social media companies, moderation can fall into a gray area between protecting free speech and protecting users from hate speech. In these cases, they must judge whether user content violates their own platform policies. But this wasn’t one of those gray areas.

Racist abuse is classified as a hate crime in the UK, and London’s Met Police said in a statement that it will be investigating incidents that occurred online following the match. In a follow-up email, a spokesman for the Met said that the instances of abuse were being triaged by the Home Office and then disseminated to local police forces to deal with.

Twitter “swiftly” removed over 1,000 tweets through a combination of machine-based automation and human review, a spokesman said in a statement. In addition, it permanently suspended “a number” of accounts, “the vast majority” of which it proactively detected itself. “The abhorrent racist abuse directed at England players last night has absolutely no place on Twitter,” said the spokesman.

Meanwhile, there was frustration among Instagram users who were identifying and reporting, among other abusive content, strings of monkey emojis (a common racist trope) being posted on the accounts of Black players.

According to Instagram’s policies, using emojis to attack people based on protected characteristics, including race, is against the company’s hate speech policies. Human moderators working for the company take context into account when reviewing use of emojis.

But in many of the cases reported by Instagram users in which the platform failed to remove monkey emojis, it appears that the reviews weren’t conducted by human reviewers. Instead, their reports were dealt with by the company’s automated software, which told them “our technology has found that this comment probably doesn’t go against our community guidelines.”

A spokeswoman for Instagram said in a statement that “no one should have to experience racist abuse anywhere, and we don’t want it on Instagram.”

“We quickly removed comments and accounts directing abuse at England’s footballers last night and we’ll continue to take action against those that break our rules,” she added. “In addition to our work to remove this content, we encourage all players to turn on Hidden Words, a tool which means no one has to see abuse in their comments or DMs. No one thing will fix this challenge overnight, but we’re committed to keeping our community safe from abuse.”

The social media companies shouldn’t have been surprised by the reaction.

Football professionals have been feeling the strain of the racist abuse they suffer online — and not just following this one England game. In April, England’s Football Association organized a social media boycott “in response to the ongoing and sustained discriminatory abuse received online by players and many others connected to football.”

English football’s racism problem is not new. In 1993, the problem forced the Football Association, Premier League and Professional Footballers’ Association to launch Kick It Out, a program to fight racism, which became a fully fledged organization in 1997. Under Southgate’s leadership, the current iteration of the England squad has embraced anti-racism more vocally than ever, taking the knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement before matches. Still, racism in the sport prevails — online and off.

On Monday, the Football Association strongly condemned the online abuse following Sunday’s match, saying it’s “appalled” at the racism aimed at players. “We could not be clearer that anyone behind such disgusting behaviour is not welcome in following the team,” it said. “We will do all we can to support the players affected while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible.”

Social media users, politicians and rights organizations are demanding internet-specific tools to tackle online abuse — as well as for perpetrators of racist abuse to be prosecuted as they would be offline. As part of its “No Yellow Cards” campaign, the Center for Countering Digital Hate is calling for platforms to ban users who spout racist abuse for life.

In the UK, the government has been trying to introduce regulation that would force tech companies to take firmer action against harmful content, including racist abuse, in the form of the Online Safety Bill. But it has also been criticized for moving too slowly to get the legislation in place.

Tony Burnett, the CEO of the Kick It Out campaign (which Facebook and Twitter both publicly support), said in a statement Monday that both the social media companies and the government need to step up to shut down racist abuse online. His words were echoed by Julian Knight, member of Parliament and chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

“The government needs to get on with legislating the tech giants,” Knight said in a statement. “Enough of the foot dragging, all those who suffer at the hands of racists, not just England players, deserve better protections now.”

As pressure mounted for them to take action, social networks have also been stepping up their own moderation efforts and building new tools — with varying degrees of success. The companies track and measure their own progress. Facebook employs its independent oversight board to assess its performance.

But critics of the social networks also point out that the way their business models are set up gives them very little incentive to discourage racism. Any and all engagement will increase ad revenue, they argue, even if that engagement is people liking and commenting on racist posts.

“Facebook made content moderation tough by making and ignoring their murky rules, and by amplifying harassment and hate to fuel its stock price,” former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao said on Twitter on Monday. “Negative PR is forcing them to address racism that has been on its platform from the start. I hope they really fix it.”

AEW Full Gear 2021: Results, new AEW Champion, full recap and analysis

Hangman Adam Page won the AEW Championship to finish an excellent pay-per-view.

All Elite Wrestling has a new top man. “Hangman” Adam Page pinned Kenny Omega in the middle of the ring to win the AEW Championship in the main event of Full Gear 2021. It was the culmination of AEW’s longest-running storyline, and the end to one of AEW’s best pay-per-view events.

While the main event produced a new champion, perhaps the best match of the night was that between CM Punk and Eddie Kingston. They had a gruff fight that stood out from the rest of the card, and it’s arguably what the crowd was most into on the show. Other highlights include the opening bout between MJF and Darby Allin, Bryan Danielson defeating Miro to become the number one contender for Page’s AEW Championship and the AEW Tag Team Championship bout between The Lucha Brothers and FTR.

Scroll below for a full recap and match analysis for Full Gear 2021.

The fourth ever AEW Champion has been crowned. Hangman Adam Page pinned Kenny Omega in the main event of Full Gear to win the AEW Championship.

The crowd was alive as the bell rang, moreso than anything else on the show with the exception of Punk versus Kingston. Omega got the advantage with the help of Don Callis, who tripped Page and later attacked multiple times when the ref’s back was turned.

There were many big spots, including a sick springboard Liger Bomb that Omega planted Page with when Page was perched on the top rope. Mostly, though, this was a back-and-forth action match with little in the way of psychology until the final minutes.

We got a ref bump about 16 minutes into the match, with Page attempting a Buckshot Lariat but Omega pulling the referee into the clash instead. Callis tried to smash Page with the AEW Championship belt, but Hangman knocked him out. Omega then took a swing with the belt, but Hangman countered and hit his Deadeye signature move. A new referee slid in and we got our first great nearfall of the match.

After another exchange between Page and Omega, which saw Omega land many V-Triggers and Page counter with a huge clothesline, The Young Bucks limped to the ring.

Page attempted a Buckshot Lariat but Omega countered with a huge V-Trigger. Omega attempted a One Winged Angel but Page reversed it into a One Winged Angel of his own for a two count. Page then barraged Omega with two Buckshot Lariats — one from behind and a second from the front — to win the match. The Bucks didn’t interfere, but rather nodded in approvement as Page struck his winning blow.

After the match, The Dark Order came to the ring to celebrate with the new champ.

Rating: 4 stars. A good main event with a great final few minutes.

Before the main event, we got news that former Ring of Honor champion has joined All Elite Wrestling. He issued a challenge to Sammy Guevara for the TNT Championship, which Guevara accepted.

The Inner Circle (Chris Jericho, Jake Hager, Sammy Guevara, Santana and Ortiz) were victorious in their Minneapolis Street Fight against Men of the Year (Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page) and American Top Team (Junior dos Santos, Andrei Arlovski and Dan Lambert).

The culmination of the match was Jericho landing a Frog Splash on Dan Lambert, in a tribute to Eddie Guerrero, who died on Nov. 13 in 2005,  to win the match for his team.

It’s hard to fairly appraise this Street Fight. If you watch it in isolation, it would be a bunch of fun. The problem is that it was another car-crash match, similar in spirit to the Young Bucks falls count anywhere bout earlier in the night. That problem recurred with the ending. Jericho and Guerrero were great friends, but we saw Guerrero tribute spots in multiple matches tonight, so Jericho’s Frog Splash felt less special than it should have.

Still, there were many crazy spots to keep you entertained — the craziest of which was Guevara chanelling Jeff Hardy with a Swanton off the top of a huge ladder.

Rating: 3 stars.

This. Was. Awesome.

Eddie Kingston and CM Punk beat the hell out of each other. This felt completely different from anything else on the show. At 11 minutes, it was shorter than the other marquee matches. There wasn’t any flips or acrobatics. It was gritty, and it felt like a fight.

The crowd was split, and mega, mega into this. It began with Eddie Kingston surprising Punk with a spinning backfist before the match started. The crowd popped huge, cheering for Eddie, but as Punks stirred we got defeaning duelling chants. Throughout the bout the crowd was 65-35 in Eddie’s favor, which was surprising.

Kingston threw Eddie into the turnbuckle on the outside early, which cut Punk open — he bled profusely. The dynamic of the match was that Punk was the big star, and Kingston was the scrappy underdog. In essence, a reversal of Punk’s famous match against John Cena at Money in the Bank 2011. That was best exemplified when Punk did Cena’s shoulder blocks and teased doing a “You can’t see me” taunt, which got heat from the crowd.

At the end of the match, Kingston taunted Punk with the “Go to sleep” sign Punk does. Punk surprised Kingston with a GTS, but Punk was too beaten down to capitalize. Both men got back to their feet, Kingston attempted a wild spinning backfist but Punk ducked and hit a second GTS for the win.

Rating: 4.5 stars. Best thing on the show.

Britt Baker.

Britt Baker defeated Tai Conti with a cradle pin to retain her AEW Women’s Championship.

These women were put in a tough spot. They were on late in the show, and the audience has seen several amazing matches. Further, Britt Baker is a heel, but she’s one of the most popular stars on the roster. That puts Tai Conti in a hard spot — she’s meant to be the hero, but she’s going up against a bigger and more popular performer.

With that said, this ended up above average. The crowd was largely not interested until about 8 or 9 minutes in, when Britt Baker landed an Air Raid Crash to Conti on the apron. After Conti kicked out, she managed to turn the tide by planting Baker with a Gotch Piledriver. That caused the hitherto apathetic crowd to get into a duelling chant, one side for Baker and one side for Conti.

Jaimie Hayter and Rebel ran interference for Baker, but Conti took them out with a huge moonsault. Back in the ring, Conti hit a DDTay for a two count. She attempted another, but Baker countered into a Lockjaw attempted. Conti turned that into a cradle, but Baker reversed that into a cradle of her own for the win.

Rating: 3.25 stars.

Cody Rhodes and Pac managed to team together and not implode for long enough to defeat Malakai Black and Andrade El Idolo. The victory came when Pac landed a Black Arrow on Andrade.

It was a bit of a sloppy match, with some noticeable awkwardness, but these four are so talented that even on their worst day they’d put on a solid performance. The story going into it was that Cody and Pac distrusted each other, which shone through when Pac would repeatedly tag himself in, to Cody’s frustration.

Early into the bout, on one such occassion, Cody was distracted by Pac’s tag for long enough for Malakai Black to surprise Cody with a Black Mass kick. That put Cody out, and allowed Black and Andrade to work over Pac. Eventually he was able to tag Cody back in. Cody ran wild, which annoyed the notably anti-Cody crowd, and eventually Pac and Andrade were the legal men.

Black and Cody brawled to the outside, with Black kicking Cody over the barricades, which left Andrade and Pac to decide the match. Pac hit his Black Arrow for the win.

Rating: 3 stars. It was good, but was disadvantaged by following the car-crash match that came before. It also had essentially no stakes, which is an issue at this stage of the show.

This was just bananas. It reminded me in a lot of ways of the TLC matches that made Christian Cage — alongside Edge, The Hardys and The Dudleys — so famous. Not because there were crazy ladder spots, but because it was just a nonstop car crash.

It would be pointless for me to try and recap everything that happened. Here are a few snippets:

After much chaos, the end began when The Young Bucks stuffed thumbtacks inside Jungle Boy’s mouth then clocked him with a double superkick as Adam Cole held him in a Camel Clutch. Christian interrupted the pin to save the match.

A creative sequence followed, where Matt Jackson aggrevated Luchasaurus with a superkick, leading to Luchasaurus chasing Matt up the rampway. Matt was cutoff by a recovered Jungle Boy on the ramp, where Jungle Boy put him in a Snare Trap. The six men then exchanged big moves up by the entranceway. It culminated with Cole and the Bucks putting thumbtack-studded straps around their knees to hit a three-way BTE Trigger on Luchasaurus. Jungle Boy broke up the pin, and then his team fought back against the SuperKliq.

After Luchasaurus chokelammed Adam Cole off the ramp onto Nick Jackson and stooge Brandon Cutler, he took them all out for good with an impressive Shooting Star Press. Jungle Boy landed a Conchairto on Matt Jackson for the win.

Rating: 3.75 stars. A lot of chaos and excitement, but with some ridiculousness too. The thumbtack spots were unbelievable and really broke the suspension of disbelief — stuffing thumbtacks in someone’s mouth and kicking them twice led to no bleeding, and Luchasaurus popped up fine mere moments after getting triple BTE Triggered with thumbtack kneepads. Still, it was undoubtedly crazy.

In what was guaranteed to be a strong match, Bryan Danielson beat Miro in… a strong match. Danielson and Miro played their parts perfectly: Miro is a beast of a man, and Danielson is the plucky wrestler that fights from below.

After the opening minutes where Danielson hit Miro with some stiff-looking uppercuts and kicks, there was a great sequence where Danielson stacked Miro for a pin attempt. Miro kicked out and Danielson transitioned into a nice kneebar. After a dramatic few moments in the submission, Miro rolled onto his side and muscled Danielson with a gutwrench throw. This essentially exemplified the dynamic: Danielson is technically proficient, and Miro is the brute that repeatedly knocked him back.

Miro would get a solid submission in of his own when he locked Danielson into the Game Over, his version of the Camel Clutch. Danielson got to the ropes, and when Miro tried to put it on again, Danielson countered into a Labelle Lock. Danielson’s integration of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu into his wrestling style is fantastic. Miro managed to break Danielson’s hold, then Danielson transitioned into a Triangle Choke, a throwback to how he beat Eddie Kingston a few weeks ago, but Miro was able to break out again.

After a strike exchange where Miro absorbed all of Danielson’s kicks, the two found themselves atop the turnbuckle. Danielson landed a top-rope DDT and then locked on a guillotine choke. Miro passed out.

Rating: 4.25 stars. Snug strikes, believable wrestling. Great stuff.

The Lucha Brothers won the AEW Tag Team Championships at All Out.

In the second match of the night, The Lucha Brothers defeated FTR in an unsurprisingly exciting bout. Like the opener though, there was some unnecessary funny business towards the end.

Watching The Lucha Brothers wrestle is just so fun. Their offense is so explosive and acrobatic. I can’t do it justice via description, so here are some examples.

The flow of the match was essentially that Fenix and Penta would do crazy fun stuff, but then Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood would cut them off, often with underhanded tactics. It’s a great dynamic, one familiar to FTR matches, that lets both teams shine. Lucha Brothers got to look like superheroes, FTR looked shrewd and expert in tag team tactics.

There was a great nearfall where Fenix was running wild but was cut off by Cash, who hit him with one of the AAA Tag Title belts when the ref wasn’t looking. Fenix kicked out at two, but the crowd bought it as a finish.

Dax got megaheat moments later when he mimicked Eddie Guerrero’s taunt and attempted the Three Amigos. Penta countered at number three and did his own Three Amigos, which got a huge applause from the crowd. Fenix then landed a Frogsplash, which lit the crowd alight with “Eddie!” chants and got another awesome nearfall.

The finish brought the bout down a bit. FTR put on their Lucha masks, which they’ve taken to doing to mock the Lucha Bros, and Cash Wheeler tried to cheat a victory by rolling up Penta and putting his legs on the rope. The ref stopped caught him, then Penta hit him with a superkick and Lucha Brothers planted him with their Magic Killer tandem finish. The whole mask spot slowed the pace down, and felt completely superfluous.

Rating: 4.25 stars. Like the opening match, this featured excellent action and an overbooked finish.

The clash between two of AEW’s biggest stars of tomorrow kicked off the main show. After a terrific bout, MJF hit Allin with brass knucks and then pinned him with a side headlock, as he said he would. It was a so-so- finish to an outstanding match.

It began as a wrestling contest, with Allin and MJF trying to prove who the better professional wrestler is. As noted, the story going into the contest was that MJF said he could beat Allin with a side headlock. Though it grew into a dynamic match with wild moves, the two started out with chain wrestling and fun athletics. MJF would tweak his knee early on, and would sell said knee throughout after Allin exacerbated the injury with a chop block and a brief Figure Four.

The Minnesota crowd was very into this match. MJF is a dastardly villain but, as often happens with charismatic bad guys, a lot of the audience loved him. The match opened to an even split, with dueling chants for Darby and MJF. Towards the end we got a “fight forever!” chant.

As you’d expect with a Darby Allin match, there were several wince-inducing moments. Early on, with MJF splayed across the apron, Allin attempted a Coffin Drop. MJF moved, and Allin crashed his spine into the apron. It was brutal. Later, MJF caught Allin in midair and did a modifed Atomic Drop: Imagine a Powerbomb into MJF’s knees. Maybe the most gnarly one was MJF’s Tombstone Piledriver onto the apron. It was a great spot, as MJF did huge damage to Allin but couldn’t capitalize due to his knee issues.

The match was looking like an instant classic, but then we got to the finish.

Wardlow and Shawn Spears tried to come interfere on MJF’s behalf, but Sting made the save. In the middle of it all,  MJF brought Allin’s skateboard into the ring and dared Allin to hit him with it. The announcer’s played it up as mindgames, that MJF was trying to get Allin disqualified. Allin was tempted, but gently gave the ref the skateboard. While the ref was distracted, MJF pulled brass knucks out of his tights, clocked Allin with them and then pinned him with a side headlock takedown.

Rating: 4 stars. The ending was a bit silly and contrived, which was disappointing because these two did such a great job at making this feel like a serious athletic contest. Still, the action leading up to it was stellar. The future is bright.

Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier 3: Is the fight still on?

Dustin Poirier has apologised for calling out McGregor and the fight is 100% back on.

Conor McGregor has become broiled in a new controversy.

Let’s try and explain this whole deal from the start.

In the wake of a dominant win against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in early 2020, Conor McGregor was itching to continue fighting throughout the remainder of the year. Unfortunately COVID-19 put a big dent in those plans.

The UFC continued putting on fight cards throughout 2020 and was one of the first sports in the US to come “back,” but it appeared as though the UFC was reluctant to put together another McGregor fight — most likely because fans couldn’t attend fights yet and the UFC makes a significant amount of money on live gates to see one of the sport’s biggest stars.

For comparison, the UFC might usually take in $1 million to $2 million in ticket sales for a regular event, while a McGregor fight with full attendance will bring in over $7 million from ticket sales alone.

So McGregor was left on the shelf.

Out of frustration McGregor took matters into his own hands, attempting to put together an exhibition bout with Poirier.

McGregor had faced Poirier before. In 2014, McGregor defeated Poirier via a devastating first round KO. But to remain active, McGregor offered to face off against Poirier in a second fight — albeit an exhibition — and donate $500,000 to The Good Fight Foundation, a nonprofit charity set up by Poirier to help those in need. Poirier agreed to the bout.

That got the UFC’s attention.

In the wake of those tweets the UFC set up a legitimate rematch between McGregor and Poirier under the UFC banner, but McGregor committed to the $500,000 donation he had promised regardless.

Given the outcome of their first fight, McGregor was heavily favored to beat Poirier in their rematch. In the leadup, the pair were extremely cordial — a stark contrast to the first fight, when McGregor was largely credited with beating Poirier mentally with an assault of cutting trash talk in the lead up to the contest.

But the second fight played out much differently. After compromising McGregor with punishing, debilitating calf kicks, Poirier knocked out McGregor, putting the pair at 1-1.

In interviews after the second fight, Poirier confirmed that McGregor’s people had reached out about the donation and thanked him face-to-face for the money McGregor intended to donate to The Good Fight Foundation.

A third fight between McGregor and Poirier was scheduled for July 10, with McGregor declaring there would be “no more Mr. Nice Guy” — in reference to the relaxed atmosphere between the two in the leadup to their second fight.

The cordial relationship between the pair quickly deteriorated. After a series of tweets back and forth, Poirier posted an explosive tweet accusing McGregor of not actually following through on the $500,000 donation he’d promised in the lead up to their second fight.

“That’s a fun prediction,” Poirier tweeted. “[Y]ou also predicted a donation to my foundation and you and your team stopped responding after the fight in January.”

That got McGregor’s attention. He claimed that communication stopped because he was waiting on specifics on plans for the money.

“We’ve been awaiting the plans for the money that never came,” he tweeted. “I do that with all my donations.”

After more back and forth, McGregor got more riled up, appearing to cancel the upcoming third fight, claiming he would “fight someone else” on July 10th.

Most likely the fight will go ahead and McGregor has made reference to making Poirier “pay” for “smearing” his name.

Plenty of others got involved, including McGregor’s manager Audie Attar.

McGregor has given heavily to charities in the past, donating 1 million euros to hospitals in Ireland during the COVID-19 pandemic and invested a “significant amount” to help keep his childhood soccer club alive.

Attar claimed the donation was still going ahead.

After the twitter battle over the donation, McGregor initially started hinting he might look for another opponent for his July 10th fight.

But after the dust had settled, it was confirmed by all parties that the fight was back on.

ESPN’s MMA reporter Ariel Helwani confirmed the news with McGregor himself.

In an interesting twist, Poirier tweeted out an official apology for bringing up the charity issue in the first place.

“I jumped the gun and took my private matters between Conor and my foundation public,” he wrote in a statement. “My mistake, we live, we learn. Spreading positivity and doing good is my goal.”

Tokyo Summer Olympics bars overseas spectators

COVID-19 is to blame, say the organizers. Ticket holders will get their money back.

Originally set for 2020, the games have been delayed by the pandemic.

Originally set to take place from July 24 through Aug. 9, 2020, the Olympics were pushed back a year because of the coronavirus and rescheduled for July 23 through Aug. 8, 2021. The Paralympics were also delayed and are now set to run from Aug. 24 through Sept. 5, 2021.

The organizers noted Saturday that emerging coronavirus variants continue to raise concern and that the situation with COVID-19 in Japan and elsewhere remains challenging. They also pointed to severe international travel restrictions put in place by countries around the world and said overseas travelers may well be prohibited from entering Japan this summer.

Read more: Fear and COVID in hotel quarantine: What it’s like flying overseas right now

They said they made the decision about international spectators “to give clarity to ticket holders living overseas and to enable them to adjust their travel plans.” Information on how to get a refund will be made available soon, the organizers added.

“We will continue to do our utmost to deliver a safe and secure Games,” they said, “in the hopes that the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 will be a light of hope for people all over the world.”

Before the billionaires and oligarchs, the unlikely story of football’s first foreign owner

Way before international money flooded in, the first American owner in English soccer came to the rescue of a dying club.

Prenton Park, home of Tranmere Rovers.

This international spending spree started when Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea FC in 2003, but the largely forgotten first step toward today’s globalized era occurred way back in 1984. Football clubs were traditionally owned by local businessmen until California lawyer Bruce Osterman bought Tranmere Rovers, a proud but impoverished team in the unemployment-lashed north of England. It was the beginning of a new era — but you wouldn’t have known it at the time.

“The game as a whole was at its nadir,” remembers Mark Palios, a former footballer turned businessman who played for Tranmere in those dark days of the 1980s. “Gates were low, there was hooliganism, there was a complete lack of investment. It was a sick industry.”

What followed is more than a quirky footnote in sporting history — it’s a story of conflict between passion and business that any fan of any team in any country will recognize. Palios played an unexpected secret role in the ensuing drama, only to face a horribly familiar crisis threatening the club three decades later.

Mark Palios played for Tranmere in the 1970s and 1980s, taking an unexpected role in the drama behind the scenes — before returning to the club 30 years later.

Former Tranmere player Ken Bracewell was coaching a professional team in San Francisco in the early 1980s when he was approached by attorney and keen amateur goalkeeper Bruce Osterman. The glamour had faded from The National American Soccer League’s 1970s heyday, so Bracewell was surprised when Osterman wanted more than a chat about soccer teams — he wanted to buy one.

Why would a Californian lawyer want to invest in an impoverished sports team on the far side of the Atlantic?

“I was young and it seemed like a good idea,” says Osterman, now in his late 70s. “I had some extra money as I’d done well in my law practice,” he remembers in his unhurried California drawl over the phone from his home near San Francisco. “Tranmere was in real trouble so it was a number to purchase the team that I could afford.”

Tranmere chairman Bruce Osterman filmed at Prenton Park for a TV documentary.

Tranmere’s stadium Prenton Park is only a brief ferry ride away from footballing titans Liverpool and Everton, but in 1984 it might as well have been on a different planet. Barely clinging to professional status at the wrong end of the English leagues, with no money and plummeting attendances, Tranmere had special permission to hold matches on Friday evenings instead of Saturday afternoons so locals wouldn’t disappear to watch the team’s more glamorous neighbors.

“Tranmere will never compete with Liverpool and Everton,” one of the club’s managers later said. “They’re big liners like the Queen Mary, but I see Tranmere as a deadly submarine.”

In 1984 Tranmere was about to emulate a submarine in the worst possible way: by going under.

Osterman took advantage of the strife and a disastrously weak pound to buy the club, installing Ken Bracewell in charge. “I relied on Kenny for the day-to-day things,” Osterman recalls, “because frankly what the hell did I know?”

Bruce Osterman (crouching third from left, wearing glasses), lines up with a team of sports journalists playing a friendly at Prenton Park in August 1986. Eagle-eyed fans might recognize the chap on the far left: popular TV and radio pundit Ray Stubbs, who played and worked at Tranmere.

Today’s game is full of players, managers and owners from other countries. In the 1980s it was more insular. English clubs were banned from European competition throughout the second half of the 1980s, foreign players like Tottenham’s Argentine duo Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa were still a novelty, and there wouldn’t be a foreign manager until Jozef Vengloš arrived from Czechoslovakia to join Aston Villa in 1990.

Having staved off the club’s short-term woes, Bruce Osterman showed up at Tranmere for a few weeks at a time, a few times a year. There was occasionally a language barrier with the distinctive Merseyside accent. “I used to go to sportsman’s dinners for people who had shares in the club, and I was usually the brunt of the after-dinner comedian,” Osterman remembers. “I know he was speaking English but I couldn’t understand a word!” Osterman’s family came too, although his wife found herself excluded from men-only areas such as the boardroom and team coach. “She tolerated my doing this, but it wasn’t a pleasant time for her,” Osterman admits.

Journalists were delighted by the sight of the bespectacled 43-year-old chairman diving around in the training field mud, while players mischievously blasted balls at him. This was all highly unusual, but still — Tranmere were saved.

In the days before television revenue, a lesser club’s main income was ticket sales. Larger-than-life characters attracted paying fans through the turnstiles, so Osterman made the unexpected choice to appoint Frank Worthington as the team’s player-manager.

Worthington, who died in March 2021, had two decades of experience on the field but had never managed a team. The mulleted Elvis fan was certainly an entertainer, a prodigious goalscorer and even more prodigious playboy. His autobiography, suggestively titled “One Hump Or Two,” lists more nightclubs than football clubs. Worthington joked that when he took charge at Tranmere the players thought they’d be in trouble if they got home before 2 a.m.

Larger-than-life character Frank Worthington playing for England.

In his first game before the Prenton Park faithful the dashing player-manager bagged three goals in a 6-2 victory, and he ended up scoring 20 that season. He also made shrewd use of Osterman’s limited budget — one of Worthington’s acquisitions, Ian Muir, remains the club’s all-time top goalscorer. But defence was poor and Tranmere couldn’t afford new blood.

“We didn’t have the players or the money,” Osterman admits. “I had no idea of the difficulty of handling a team even in the fourth division.”

One player understood the economics of Osterman’s situation more than most. Tenacious midfielder Mark Palios was a local lad in his second stint at Tranmere when Osterman arrived. Unlike most footballers, who typically spend their time between matches wasting money, Palios worked a unique parallel career managing money as he trained to be an accountant.

Mark Palios playing for Tranmere the night they beat Arsenal in 1973.

One day Tranmere’s directors walked into Palios’ office looking for advice. They wanted to push Osterman out. The surprised player found himself in the awkward situation of offering advice on the club’s financial future mere hours before pulling on his team shirt and running onto the pitch.

Tranmere’s cash flow crisis came to a head when the well-intentioned but overstretched Osterman tried to sell Prenton Park to make way for a supermarket. Fans, directors and local authorities turned against him.

The American dream had soured.

Thirty years later, in 2015, history repeated for Tranmere Rovers — and for Mark Palios. The club was again in dire straits on and off the field. And just like in the 1980s, a new owner stepped in. But this time, it was Palios who bought the club.

After combining his playing days with a successful accounting career, Palios had been CEO of the Football Association. A specialist in turning around failing businesses, he and his wife Nicola now tackled Tranmere’s turmoil.

Palios began a three-step process he’d applied to many dying companies: Find cash for breathing space. Use that breathing space to fix the business. And finally, bring in new investment.

Most important, the club had to break the cycle of lurching from savior to savior. Palios compares football clubs to gamblers gifted more chips who continue betting on the same old numbers. To really fix the ailing business, Mark and Nicola had to make new bets.

Tranmere chairman Mark Palios and vice chair Nicola Palios took charge in 2014.

Back in 1985, Palios quit Tranmere and distanced himself from the boardroom shenanigans to avoid a conflict of interest. Ultimately the directors exploited changes to insolvency legislation to get rid of Osterman, Bracewell and Worthington, earning Tranmere another dubious distinction as the first football club to go into administration under the new laws.

In 1987, a new buyer offered less than Osterman paid for the club. Luckily for the American, a strengthened pound took the sting out of the loss.

A new owner and manager took over, but Tranmere’s troubles weren’t over. To ensure survival they had to beat Exeter City on the last day of the season or be disastrously dumped out of the professional league.

Kickoff was delayed as 7,000 fans crammed into one of Prenton Park’s signature Friday night matches on May 8, 1987. Mark Palios was there, although in another bizarre twist he could have been on the field — for either side. Exeter previously tried to sign him, while injury-plagued Tranmere desperately searched for Palios to see if he could help out in the crucial match. “We didn’t have mobile phones in those days,” Palios jokes. “[Tranmere] should have asked the administrators — they knew where I was…”

As the sky darkened above the floodlights neither side could break the deadlock — until six minutes from time, when Ian Muir’s pinpoint cross was headed home by defender Gary Williams. At the final whistle, the delirious crowd poured onto the pitch.

After this fairytale escape, new manager John King — another former Tranmere player, who coined the “deadly submarine” nickname — kicked off a resurgence in the 1990s. The team went to multiple finals at Wembley, rising through the divisions and almost surfacing alongside Liverpool and Everton in the Premier League.

Ian Muir (right), signed by Frank Worthington and still Tranmere’s top scorer, celebrates the first of Tranmere’s many trips to the hallowed Wembley Stadium in the 1990s.

Sadly the golden era didn’t last, and in 2015 a run-down Tranmere sank out of the professional league entirely. Under different leadership that could have destroyed the club, but Mark and Nicola Palios had a plan to stay afloat. They developed new revenue streams which didn’t rely on a benefactor’s deep pockets, earned money from the stadium not just on matchdays, and built on the club’s standing in the community with training schemes for vulnerable youth. “The business model I’ve tried to produce is football-agnostic,” Palios explains. “So if I go, the business stays.”

The club is into phase three of the Palios plan: tempting investors. Palios contemplates leveraging the local area’s rich footballing heritage for projects such as a hotel, and perhaps even leaving Prenton Park (an idea that backfired for Osterman). Palios has his eye on building a new stadium at the £4.5 billion Wirral Waters dockland regeneration scheme, one of the largest development projects in Europe.

Tranmere returned to Wembley in 2017, 2018 and again in 2019, when Connor Jennings scored another last-gasp goal to secure Tranmere a second successive promotion.

Palios notes these long-term plans are “embryonic” and depend on factors like promotion to higher leagues, millions added to the bottom line, and major investors.

“It’s a way off,” Palios says of his potential vision for the future, “but if somebody comes in with serious money, you have to have a business plan. And the one thing I won’t do is limit ambition.”

To bring things full circle in terms of foreign backers, the Palios’ have shared photos of themselves courting international investment since this interview. This time Tranmere’s seeking funding from soccer-mad Indonesian businessman Simon Nainggolan, also known as Simon N.

The chaos at Bury and Bolton Wanderers in 2019 shows how precarious the football business can be even with TV money and global investment. At Tranmere, smart commercial decisions and dedicated supporters kept the club alive. To fans’ delight, under manager Micky Mellon — yet another former player — the team won promotion in 2018 and again in 2019 (only to be summarily relegated again when the Covid pandemic ended the next season early).

Devoted Tranmere Rovers fans celebrate.

Bruce Osterman still practices law, although he stopped playing soccer at 60. “If I had to do it all again I would,” he says of his experience with Tranmere. “No foreigner had ever done this before, and I met a lot of great people. It was an adventure for me.”

For today’s US-based investment consortiums, owning a sports team is all about profit. For Bruce Osterman, it was an adventure. And for Mark Palios, sport offers a unique combination of both business and passion. When fans tell him they’re proud of the club, he says, “that’s the reward.”

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate adds FIFA 21, completing the sports gamer’s dream

If you want to play a sports game on your Xbox, Game Pass is increasingly looking like the way to go.

FIFA 21 is hitting Game Pass Ultimate on Thursday.

FIFA 21, which is part of EA Play, which Microsoft bundled into its Game Pass Ultimate service last year, will follow the lead of titles like Madden 21 and MLB The Show 21 with versions available for the Xbox One as well as next-gen optimized editions for those with an Xbox Series X or Series S.

The inclusion of a next-gen version of FIFA 21 is a nice win for owners of Microsoft’s latest consoles, something not all publishers have done. 2K’s NBA 2K21, for example, has made the Xbox One version of its basketball game available as part of Game Pass but not the next-gen upgrade. Instead, those looking for that edition will still need to buy their own copy (currently $40 at a host of retailers after being $70 at launch).

And while the addition of more major titles is always welcome, to be truly perfect Microsoft still has work to do in adding games closer to their release dates. The company was surprisingly able to get Sony’s MLB The Show on its service in time for its launch in April, but FIFA’s arrival comes seven months after the title was first made available last October.

It makes sense that publishers will want to keep titles available for purchase at launch to get money from diehard fans, using services like Game Pass as a way to boost the tail end of a life cycle and hold interest until the next iteration. The good news for sports gamers who aren’t in a rush to play the latest season, however, is that Game Pass is increasingly becoming a better option for getting all the action.

NBA Finals 2021: How to watch, stream Bucks vs. Suns Game 6 tonight on ABC

Fans can watch the game live on Sling TV, YouTube TV, FuboTV, Hulu Plus Live TV or AT&T TV with no cable subscription required.

The action shifts back to Milwaukee for Game 6, with tipoff for tonight’s contest scheduled for 6 p.m. PT (9 p.m. ET) on ABC. Here’s everything you need to know to stream the action, no cable required.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks will look to win the franchise’s second-ever NBA title and close out the Suns on Tuesday night.

The 2021 NBA playoffs started May 22, and the 2021 NBA Finals started on July 6. As in past years, each playoff series requires four games to win and runs up to seven games. The Suns have the home-court advantage due to their superior regular-season record.

Here’s the schedule for the NBA Finals, via NBA.com.

Tuesday, July 20 (Game 6)

Thursday, July 22 (Game 7, if necessary)

Nearly all of the five major live TV streaming services offer ABC (all but Sling TV), but not every service carries your local ABC station, so check the links below to make sure it’s available in your area. Sling, to its credit, will be simulcasting the ABC games on ESPN3, so you will be able to stream the games on its service.

Our top picks? For the most complete option — and a better app — check out YouTube TV. If you want to get all the games for the cheapest rate, Sling TV is the pick.

Since the games will all air on ABC, if you don’t want to use a streaming service you can order an antenna and catch the games that way.

Google’s live TV streaming service offers ABC for $65 per month.

Read our YouTube TV review.

Sling TV’s Orange package runs $35 per month. While it does not carry ABC, Sling says it will simulcast the games that air on ABC via ESPN3.

Read our Sling TV review.

Hulu Plus Live TV costs $65 a month and includes ABC.

Read our Hulu Plus Live TV review.

AT&T TV’s basic Entertainment package costs $70 and carries ABC.

Read our AT&T TV review.

FuboTV offers ABC as part of its $65-per-month Basic plan.

Read our FuboTV review.

Whereas the 2020 playoffs took place in a Walt Disney World bubble in Orlando, Florida, the NBA has played its 2020-21 season in regular arenas with fans increasingly coming back to stadiums as local COVID-19 restrictions have eased. Fans are allowed at playoff games this year, and both the Bucks and the Suns are welcoming near-capacity crowds for the Finals.

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