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FIDDLER'S FACTS: Time ticking for baseball

Morell's Cole MacLaren played two seasons with the University of Pittsburgh Panthers before signing with the Detroit Tigers in 2019.
Morell's Cole MacLaren played two seasons with the University of Pittsburgh Panthers before signing with the Detroit Tigers in 2019.
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

Major League Baseball owners and the players association are trying to put together a schedule that both sides can agree upon, but right now time is ticking away and no deal appears in sight. On the weekend, the union requested a 114-game schedule and the owners tossed that out, insisting on an 82-game schedule. In recent days, many owners are pushing for a 50-game schedule, guaranteeing the players one-third of their salary while hoping fans will be allowed into the parks in the fall for the lucrative playoffs.

An 80-game schedule results in players getting half their salary but, with no fans in the ballparks, that’s not going to fly with owners. Training camps were supposed to open on June 10 with the season to start on July 3 but, with no deal, time is running out.

The Toronto Blue Jays will likely play baseball this season, but it will not be at Rogers Centre. The US-Canada border is closed and with a 14-day quarantine rule for visitors, any games will be played south of the border.

The mental health of citizens on both sides of the border is being severely tested with coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) issues, the world-wide protests about the George Floyd killing, huge unemployment and uncertainty that is prevalent everywhere. A bombardment of such bad news is not good for society’s mental health and that includes me and you. Sports take our minds of other issues at least for a little while. Baseball, and sports in general, including harness racing, is necessary for society’s good.

On the local front, Detroit catching prospect Cole MacLaren, who started in the Tigers’ rookie league last season and finished with AA Erie, had been in the Tigers’ training camp from early February until March 22 when the coronavirus closed camp in Lakeland, Fla.

He has been home in Morell since camp ended. He had been helping out Marc Campbell for the past two months with the horses stabled at Doc Moore’s in Winsloe, but I can’t imagine work with the horses would offer much cross-over skills for baseball at the pro level.

In recent weeks, Cole has been working at the Crow Bush golf course where swinging a golf club may be beneficial to his baseball swing. Cole is anxious to get back to Lakeland to resume his professional career and a possible spot with the major league Tigers. Let’s hope Cole is headed back to camp sometime in the very near future.

Hockey

The Stanley Cup playoffs are expected to begin in mid-July or early August without fans.

Fixing the odds for each team at the outset will be a handicapping nightmare, even for the Las Vegas experts. The long layoff and uncertainty of the fitness of many key players will make betting the favourites a very risky proposition even for The Sports Prophet.

Most hockey fans on Prince Edward Island will be watching the Toronto Maple Leafs-Columbus Blue Jackets series or the Pittsburgh Penguins-Montreal Canadiens matchup. Unless Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin get kidnapped, the Penguins should not lose to the Habs. The hard-nosed Blue Jackets outwork and outhustle most clubs on most nights and although the Maple Leafs have much more offence, they’ll have their hands full with Columbus, which knocked off heavily favoured Tampa Bay last season.

Golf

Matt McMillan, Brian’s boy, posted a back-nine 37 at Avondale on May 29, impressive for a 2020 debut. He turned 34 on Wednesday. Gord Tweedy, ex-rugby and UNB puck regular, is home and healthy after tripping the 84 plateau.

Harness racing

There’s live harness racing in Charlottetown tonight at 6 p.m. with a 10-dash card without fans in the stands. The action is available via their simulcast.

The $3,000 top-class has Rose Run Quest (Marc Campbell) on the outside in a tough eight-horse field with Creepin, Winter Blast, Screen Test and four others. There’s also a $2,500 class with iron-tough favourite Mick Dundee, Jeb and the Neal Moase-owned Best to Hurst.

At Mohawk tonight, Century Farroh headlines a rugged $36,000 top class with the likes of Easy Lover Hanover, Points North, Nocturnal BlueChip, Icy Blue Scooter, Evenwood Sonofagun and Wheels on Fire. In the $24,000 backup class, Groovy Joe, who was awesome in his qualifier for trainer Blake MacIntosh and driver James MacDonald, has Post 4 against a solid field, including Tattoo Artist for Dr. Ian Moore.

At The Meadowlands, Dorsoduro Hanover headlines the $22,500 preferred class against the likes of Imarocnrollegend and eight others. Yonkers Raceway is still dark. At Mohawk on Tuesday, Lovedbythemasses was sixth in 1:57:2 in a qualifier for owners Wade and Ed Peconi and driver Mike Saftic.


Fred MacDonald's column appears every Saturday in The Guardian. He can be reached at fiddlersfacts@hotmail.com.

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1 being least likely, and 10 being most likely

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