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Japanese baseball to start June 19 without fans

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TOKYO — Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19 under a plan that excludes fans.

League commissioner Atsushi Saito made the announcement on Monday after an online meeting with representatives of the league’s 12 teams.

The announcement came as the state of emergency was lifted in Tokyo and on the northern island of Hokkaido by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The state of emergency was lifted earlier this month for other parts of the country.

Teams can begin practice games on June 2, the Japanese news agency Kyodo reported.

The season was to have begun on March 20 but the start was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Japan has reported about 850 deaths from COVID-19.

Japan joins South Korea and Taiwan whose leagues are open and playing largely without fans.

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Fantasy baseball X factors – Pitchers

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It seems a bit hard to fathom, judging by the organization’s success the past decade, but despite playing in the most extreme pitcher’s ballpark in the major leagues, no San Francisco Giants starting pitchers show up on initial rosters in more than a small handful of ESPN standard leagues. It sure did not used to be that way! Right-hander Johnny Cueto used to be really, really good and a fantasy staple, and right-hander Jeff Samardzija certainly had his place as a strikeout option. Kevin Gausman was supposed to be a star back in his Orioles days, and Drew Smyly … well, OK — but he was worth rostering five years ago.

Current Giants pitchers figure to look far different in a few seasons, since they are in rebuilding mode, but when discussing X factors in today’s fantasy world, well, there is a potential fit here.

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MLB All-Star Game – Pete Rose vs. Ray Fosse, still controversial half a century later

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The MLB All-Star Game would have been held today, but there will be no Midsummer Classic this year. Instead let’s take a look back at one of the most famous moments in All-Star Game history.

Exactly 50 years ago today, on July 14, 1970, Cincinnati Reds great Pete Rose plowed into Ray Fosse to score the game-winning run for the National League in the All-Star Game.

Fosse suffered a fractured and separated shoulder, which healed incorrectly and caused him chronic pain for the rest of his career.

Rose, nicknamed Charlie Hustle, remains MLB’s all-time hits leader — but did he go too far in an exhibition game?

The debate goes on, half a century later. No matter which side you’re on, we can probably all agree it’s an argument many baseball fans feel passionately about.

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Answering biggest questions ahead of 2020 season

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Opening Day for the 60-game 2020 MLB season is fast approaching, and it sure feels good to have some actual baseball action to talk about. Each day over the next two weeks, our panel of MLB experts will weigh in on the biggest storylines of the season ahead, starting with which 2019 playoff team is due for a big fall this season.

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