CORRECTION to Oct. 16 story on Inde Motorsports Ranch

EDS: Clients who used a Cronkite News story slugged Sports-Inde Track Wilcox that moved Friday, Oct. 16, under a PHOENIX dateline are asked to run the following correction. The errors occurred in the third and 17th grafs of the original story. A corrected version of the story has been posted here.

PHOENIX – An Oct. 16 Cronkite News story on improvements at the Inde Motorsports Ranch in Willcox misstated the cost of initiation fees and misspelled the name of member Mark Laniak. Initiation feels range from $25,000 to $75,000.

CORRECTION to Oct. 1 story on Phoenix Rising slur

EDS: Clients who used a Cronkite News story slugged Sports-Rising Homophobic Slur that moved Thursday, Oct. 1, under a PHOENIX dateline and used an accompanying photo and cutline are asked to run the following correction. The error occurred in cutline of a photo featuring Junior Flemmings. A corrected version of the story has been posted here.

PHOENIX – An Oct. 1 Cronkite News story on the Phoenix Rising misidentified the type of pejorative allegedly said by Junior Flemmings. It was a homophobic slur.

Former Arizona Fall League players reflect on cancellation of season

  • Slug: Sports-Arizona Fall League, 1,100 words
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By Harry Croton
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – News of MLB’s decision to cancel the 2020 Arizona Fall League season left some players reminiscing on how the experience shaped their bond with the game.

While there had been speculation about the AFL being canceled this year after the 2020 minor league season was scrapped, MLB made its decision official on Monday, citing safety precautions and lack of stadium accommodations as primary reasons. 

For those who have experienced what it’s like to compete in the AFL, being without a 2020 season is considered a significant loss. Continue reading “Former Arizona Fall League players reflect on cancellation of season”

Pages through screens: ASU women’s basketball team reads books to children virtually

  • Slug: Sports-ASU Women Books, about 430 words
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By Jeffrey Horst
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – ASU women’s basketball coach Charli Turner Thorne reminisced of days when her elementary school teachers would read books like “The Chronicles of Narnia” to her during classes, something she said was “one of my favorite times of the day.”

She and the women’s basketball team recreated that experience with a now familiar twist due to the pandemic: reading books to children through video.

The ASU women’s basketball team partnered with the Washington Elementary School District on Sept. 6 for National Read a Book Day, delivering what is usually an in-person experience virtually. Continue reading “Pages through screens: ASU women’s basketball team reads books to children virtually”

Coronavirus sports roundup: COVID-19 hits Suns’ Aron Baynes hard

  • Slug: Sports – Coronavirus Sport Wrap-up, about 800 words.
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By Brett Bavcevic and Zachary Spiecker

Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Phoenix Suns center Aron Baynes learned quickly that the coronavirus is no joke.

It put me on my butt for a good week,” he told Stadium on Wednesday. “I slept for four days straight.”

Baynes revealed Wednesday he had tested positive for COVID-19 after it was reported Monday by the Arizona Republic that he was one of four Suns players that didn’t make the trip to Orlando with the team. Ricky Rubio, Elie Okobo and rookie Jalen Lecque were the others. Continue reading “Coronavirus sports roundup: COVID-19 hits Suns’ Aron Baynes hard”

Coronavirus sports roundup: NFLPA ranks Arizona as second-worst hotspot, Spencer Rattler-led Sooners healthy

  • Slug: Sports- Coronavirus Sport Wrap-up, about 660 words.
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By Derrick Smith
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – On the same day the NFL Players Association reported 72 positive tests for league athletes, it shared a map that tagged Phoenix as the No. 2 hotspot for the virus among the 32 metropolitan areas where NFL teams play.

The NFLPA has voiced concerns about players reporting to training camp on July 28 in some of the country’s most hard-hit cities. The Arizona Cardinals rank second behind the Miami Dolphins. The New England Patriots were last, and the New York Jets and Giants were second-to-last.

NFL owners are scheduled to meet Friday. Continue reading “Coronavirus sports roundup: NFLPA ranks Arizona as second-worst hotspot, Spencer Rattler-led Sooners healthy”

Coronavirus sports roundup: California shutdown limits Rising FC’s dining options, Suns’ Johnson beefs up

  • Slug: Sports- Coronavirus Sport Wrap-up, about 730 words.
  • Photos available.

By Zachary Spiecker, Nicholas Barker and Kaylyn Green
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Phoenix Rising FC is set to play its first away match of the season Thursday. The opponent is Orange County FC in California, which was shut down Monday by Gov. Gavin Newsom. This included a number of things, but maybe most important, restaurants.

“There are three things a football player needs: a good field, good food and a good bed,” Rising coach Rick Schantz said. “If you take care of those three things you can be OK. So, food is a big issue right now.”

The kitchen at the hotel where the Rising will be staying was also shut down, so staff members are working with restaurants around the area to see if arrangements can be made for before and after the game.  Continue reading “Coronavirus sports roundup: California shutdown limits Rising FC’s dining options, Suns’ Johnson beefs up”

‘David and Goliath’: AZ leaders applaud name change of NFL Washington team

  • Slug: Sports-Coronavirus Sports Wrap-up, about 850 words.
  • Photos available.

By Jordan Roger
Cronkite News

PHOENIX –  Washington’s NFL team on Monday officially dropped its name, a derogatory term for Native Americans that the team has held since 1933.

Native leaders and supporters in Arizona hailed a change activists have been working toward for years. The reactions ranged from relief to reflection – and at least one suggestion for a new name. 

Continue reading “‘David and Goliath’: AZ leaders applaud name change of NFL Washington team”

Northern Arizona Suns decide to leave Prescott Valley for Phoenix area

  • Slug: Sports-NAZ Suns Leaving, about 350 words.
  • Photos available.

By Christian Babcock
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Citing economic challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Northern Arizona Suns announced they will leave Prescott Valley for a location closer to the Phoenix metropolitan area.

“I don’t think that anywhere else could host the Suns in the state like Prescott and Prescott Valley can,” team public address announcer George Werner said Wednesday.  “So that’s why I choose to believe that they’ll be coming back and we’ll continue that relationship.”

The Phoenix Suns’ G League affiliate will vacate the Findlay Toyota Center for at least one season. Continue reading “Northern Arizona Suns decide to leave Prescott Valley for Phoenix area”

Full pay, 22-game season in Florida on tap for Phoenix Mercury

  • Slug: Sports-Phoenix Mercury Return, 463 words.
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By Zachary Spiecker
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Another league has agreed on a return-to-play plan in the month of July. This time it’s the WNBA, whose members include the Phoenix Mercury.

The WNBA announced on Monday that the WNBA Players Association and the league have agreed on how it will return to competition.

The Phoenix Mercury will play 22 regular season games along with the traditional WNBA playoffs. Continue reading “Full pay, 22-game season in Florida on tap for Phoenix Mercury”

Different worlds, same inspiration: Cardinals’ Kirk, Suns’ Baynes moved to speak out after Floyd protests

  • Slug: Sports-Athletes React Protests, 600 words.
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By Mike McQuade
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – They grew up nearly 8,000 miles apart, with different life experiences in matters of race. But what two Arizona professional athletes did share is a desire to speak out about the protests that followed the death of George Floyd.

Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk grew up in Scottsdale, the son of a Black father and White mother. He remembers a conversation he had with her when he was 10.

“I give her so, so much props and the strength to be able to tell … your young children that unfortunately in this world, you’re going to be judged by the color of your skin,” Kirk said Wednesday.  Continue reading “Different worlds, same inspiration: Cardinals’ Kirk, Suns’ Baynes moved to speak out after Floyd protests”

As tensions mount over Floyd death, coaches from high school to pros step out of comfort zone

  • Slug: Sports-Arizona Coaches Protest, 1,000 words.
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By Connor Van Ligten
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Unrest over George Floyd’s death continues to spread, prompting reaction from many, including those in the sports world. In Arizona, the only state in the country with African-American coaches overseeing an NBA team and two Power Five football teams, coaches at all levels are feeling a responsibility to speak up in a sports world that often shys away from throwing social or political issues into the mix.

“I think people have to realize that this isn’t new,” said Tony Darden, an assistant basketball coach at Mesa High School and then former head coach at Desert Vista. “I feel like I’m at a stage in my life now where I have more of a voice than I ever have, so it’s important for me to speak out. If people see me speaking out, then they’ll have the courage to do it as well.”

Darden’s comments came on the heels of Suns coach Monty Williams and Arizona football coach Kevin Sumlin issuing statements about the protests around the country following Floyd’s death in Minneapolis after a confrontation with police.

Continue reading “As tensions mount over Floyd death, coaches from high school to pros step out of comfort zone”

Athletes’ indifference toward sports contributed to retirement of Trevor Browne’s Michael Fletcher

  • Slug: Sports-Trevor Browne Coach 1,100 words.
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By Alberto Ramirez
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – It was a common sight to see Michael Fletcher walk the halls of Trevor Browne High School with a stern look on his face that made him seem unapproachable. That stone cold expression would quickly turn into a smile when he greeted familiar faces.

After more than 20 years of coaching Trevor Browne’s boys varsity tennis team, Fletcher, 69, was determined this would be his final season. That moment came sooner than he expected due to the COVID-19 outbreak that forced schools to cease athletic activities.

But his ultimate decision to retire had deeper roots.  Continue reading “Athletes’ indifference toward sports contributed to retirement of Trevor Browne’s Michael Fletcher”

Patience, workouts and video games: Diamondbacks’ Merrill Kelly trying to keep perspective during MLB hiatus

  • Slug: Sports-Diamondbacks Kelly. 822 words.
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By Cole Bailey
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – A month ago, Diamondbacks starting pitcher Merrill Kelly didn’t expect he would have time for some of his other hobbies.

The Arizona State product was in the middle of his second spring training with the club, looking to build on a solid rookie season and earn a spot at the back end of an up-and-coming rotation. Like so many other things, however, Kelly’s pursuit of this goal was put on hold when MLB decided to delay operations due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m not gonna lie to you, it sucks,” Kelly said about the postponement of the baseball season. “You work all offseason for the season to start, especially with the timing that everything got put on hiatus with being right in the middle of spring training. Everybody was starting to ramp up, starting to get excited for Opening Day right around the corner and it came to a screeching halt.” Continue reading “Patience, workouts and video games: Diamondbacks’ Merrill Kelly trying to keep perspective during MLB hiatus”

NABI cancellation means much more to Native American community than just loss of basketball

  • Slug: Sports-NABI Cancellation. 1,000 words.
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By Alex Weiner
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – The cancellation of the 2020 Native American Basketball Invitational means more to that community than simply taking a summer off from playing ball. Its loss could have a major impact on the lives of many young native people.

A major purpose of the event is to help players attend college, whether as a student-athlete or as a student.

“We created scholarship opportunities,” event co-founder and former Phoenix Suns center Mark West said. “We had a college and career fair to help them talk to people who can help them get to college or a trade school where they can learn a craft.” Continue reading “NABI cancellation means much more to Native American community than just loss of basketball”

Game 4 of 1976 Western Conference semifinals proved to be turning point in Suns history

  • Slug: Sports-Rewind Suns 1976. 800 words.
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By Rob Werner
Cronkite News

With the sports world on hold, Cronkite News will take a daily look at this day in sports history and reflect on some of the biggest moments in Arizona sports.

PHOENIX – The buzzer sounded inside Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum as coach John MacLeod’s team inched one step closer to the ultimate prize, an NBA championship.

On Apr. 20, 1976, the Phoenix Suns won a pivotal Game 4 against the Seattle SuperSonics, 130-114, taking a commanding 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference semifinals before advancing to the first NBA Finals in franchise history.  Continue reading “Game 4 of 1976 Western Conference semifinals proved to be turning point in Suns history”

‘I feel at home’: Cardinals’ DeAndre Hopkins connection with team strong

  • Slug: Sports-Cardinals DeAndre Hopkins. 624 words.
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By Lorenzino Estrada
Cronkite News

GLENDALE — Newly acquired Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is already making an impact in the Valley, familiarizing himself with his new teammates and showing leadership through philanthropic work.

Since arriving in Arizona as the centerpiece of an offseason trade with the Houston Texans, Hopkins said the outpouring of support from the Red Sea and his new teammates is overwhelming. He is entering his eighth season in the NFL, but his first with a new team. Continue reading “‘I feel at home’: Cardinals’ DeAndre Hopkins connection with team strong”

Phoenix Mercury mulling ways to complement their “big-three” in WNBA Draft

  • Slug: Sports-Phoenix Mercury Draft. 600 words.
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By Griffin Fabits
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – The WNBA Draft might be a virtual event this year, but the player the Phoenix Mercury come away with Friday night will be the real deal.

At least, that’s the plan.

The Mercury are mulling their options to find a player who will best complement the team’s newly-formed “big three,” said coach Sandy Brondello, who spoke with reporters on a conference call Monday. Continue reading “Phoenix Mercury mulling ways to complement their “big-three” in WNBA Draft”

Nineteen years ago, Diamondbacks’ Luis Gonzalez tied major league home run record

  • Slug: Sports-Diamondbacks Gonzalez Homers. 800 words.
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By Brandon Genson
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – With the infield pushed in, on a 2-2 count in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, Luis Gonzalez hit a bloop single against baseball’s premier closer to secure a championship title for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The hit was the finale of a fairy tale season for the veteran Diamondbacks player and it is still one of the most iconic in MLB history. It is also the hit that defines Gonzalez’s stellar career. But as Diamondbacks’ fans know, it wasn’t just one hit that earned Gonzalez’s No. 20 a spot in the rafters at Chase Field.

On this day in 2001, Gonzalez hit a home run in a 17-4 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. It was his 10th of the season, tying the National League record for home runs in the month of April. By the end of the month, he had smashed three more homers, tying Ken Griffey Jr.’s major league record for home runs in April. Continue reading “Nineteen years ago, Diamondbacks’ Luis Gonzalez tied major league home run record”

No peanuts, Cracker Jacks or fans: Baseball in Taiwan offers sneak peek of what MLB in Arizona might look like

  • Slug: Sports-Arizona Taiwan Baseball. About 1,100 words.
  • Photo available

By TJ Mathewson
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Imagine an empty Chase Field as a ballgame between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Dodgers is played. All 48,519 seats are vacant, save for a few cardboard cutouts, and every sound carries through the entire stadium: the crack of the bat, the pop of a catcher’s mitt, communication between teammates.

It could happen now that Gov. Doug Ducey has said he is open to Major League Baseball playing its games in Arizona. And precedent has been set.

The Chinese Professional Baseball League in Taiwan became the first professional baseball league in the world to see regular season action in 2020 on April 11, and they did it with zero fans in attendance. Continue reading “No peanuts, Cracker Jacks or fans: Baseball in Taiwan offers sneak peek of what MLB in Arizona might look like”