Few players have had an impact on Premier League football like Alan Shearer, the greatest goalscorer the competition has seen.

The former England striker started out at Southampton in the old First Division, before going on to enjoy goal-laden spells with Blackburn Rovers and the club he supported as a boy, Newcastle United.

His impact was significant at all three, but his legacy is arguably felt the most at St. James' Park, where he spent the final 10 seasons of his career.

His goalscoring feats began on this day in 1988, but April 8 has also proven momentous in baseball, as we examine below.

1974 - Hank Aaron overtakes Babe Ruth

For many years after Babe Ruth's retirement in 1935, his record of 714 home runs looked unbeatable until 'Hammerin' Hank' Aarons became the first to surpass Ruth on April 8 ,1974. He might have done so earlier were it not for racially motivated death threats so prolific that his team – the Atlanta Braves – had to hire him a secretary to sift through it. The US Postal Service believe he received more than 930,000 pieces – positive and negative – in 1973. He broke Ruth's record against the Los Angeles Dodgers and later retired on 755, a record which stood for 33 years until Barry Bonds went beyond it in August 2007.

1988 - Alan Shearer makes his mark

Over 400 goals in professional football at international and club level,  it all started for Shearer on April 8, 1988. Then at Southampton, a 17-year-old Shearer had already made some substitute appearances, but with Arsenal visiting The Dell, he was afforded a first league start. In a 4-2 win, Shearer scored a hat-trick, becoming the youngest player to do so in top-flight history at 17 years and 240 days old. He went on to make a habit of setting new records over the following 18 years.

1989 - One-handed pitcher Jim Abbott debuts

There aren't many sports where manual dexterity is more crucial than in baseball. That said, Jim Abbott enjoyed a successful career in MLB despite only being born with his left hand. He pitched for the California Angels, New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers, starting out for the former, where he made his debut 31 years ago.

New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge has still not resumed baseball activities as he continues to recover from a rib stress fracture.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said on Wednesday that his two-time All-Star right fielder is expected to be re-evaluated again in a few weeks.

Judge never played in a spring training game after feeling discomfort in his right pectoral muscle and shoulder while swinging a bat.

The Yankees then announced his rib issue on March 6, an injury the team believes Judge suffered while making a diving catch last season.

Judge also said last week that he has recovered from a collapsed lung that Boone said also likely occurred during the catch.

''Aaron is still in the healing phase of that that rib bone, and I think he'll be re-evaluated again in a few weeks as far as re-imaging that to see if there's the continued healing with that rib,'' Boone said during Wednesday’s conference call.

''He's been able to work out doing a lot of lower-body stuff, is able to do some upper-body stuff, some overhead things.''

Judge, who has remained at the team's spring training complex in Tampa, Florida while MLB is suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, has struggled with injuries since being named the American League Rookie of the Year in 2017 when he hit .284 with 52 home runs and 114 RBIs in 155 games.

He was limited to 112 regular-season games in 2018 and 102 last season. Judge has combined to bat .276 with 54 home runs and 122 RBIs in those 214 games over the past two seasons.

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone said slugger Giancarlo Stanton would be in the line-up if games were being played in MLB after making progress from a calf injury.

The start of the MLB season has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it has given players like Stanton a chance to regain their fitness for when the campaign eventually gets underway.

Stanton – the 2017 National League MVP – is continuing to recover from a Grade 1 strain of his right calf but Boone told YES Network: "G is doing great. If we were to start Spring Training games up tomorrow, he'd probably be ready to go.

"He's been doing really well, hitting now for a few weeks, but running pretty much at full speed outside and changing directions -- doing pretty much all the things necessary to get into a game.

"He's doing good and that's the one silver lining, it's a chance for guys to get healed up."

Boone also provided an update on another All-Star, Aaron Judge.

Judge suffered a stress fracture in his right rib, as well as a collapsed lung and the Yankees star is set to have a CT scan in two weeks to evaluate his progress.

"It's just making sure that was healed, because that's when you have the concerns of flying," Boone said. "He's healed in that regard and hopefully now, obviously again this is hopefully a time where he can get that proper rest to allow that rib to heal properly. Hopefully when it's time to play ball again, Aaron is with us."

MLB players are free to leave spring training camps after the season was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the New York Yankees are staying together as they target World Series glory once the campaign gets underway.

The start of the MLB season has been delayed by at least two weeks as part of measures introduced in response to the spread of coronavirus – all 30 teams were scheduled to begin their campaigns on March 26.

Spring training games were also cancelled on Thursday before the MLB and MLB Players Association (MLBPA) met on Friday and announced players were free to leave their camps in Florida and Arizona amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Yankees, however, voted unanimously to remain in Florida and hold informal workouts as they look to stay prepared for the season.

"We have a shot at a World Series title," Yankees pitcher Zack Britton told MLB.com. "We want to be prepared to seize that opportunity. Guys aren't panicking about this thing.

"We understand that it's serious, but the Yankees have a ton of resources in the area. We feel like this is a good place for us to be."

Britton added: "It's going to be pretty much whatever guys want to do right now. Obviously hitters will keep hitting during BP and stuff like that. As of right now, we don't have any intra-squad or sim games.

"It's going be very similar to an offseason program where pitchers are playing catch in bullpens, hitters hit in the cage and take BP on the field. They're still hashing out an organised schedule so that we're not just doing whatever."

Coronavirus has disrupted sport across the globe after more than 5,000 deaths due to COVID-19 – almost 50 casualties in the United States.

New York Yankees star Aaron Judge has been shut down for two weeks due to stress fracture in his first right rib.

Judge, who is yet to feature in any MLB spring training games, will rest for at least a fortnight before being re-evaluated.

It is another blow for the Yankees ahead of their March 26 opener against the Baltimore Orioles, with slugger Giancarlo Stanton (calf) already sidelined.

"At least we have an answer, so now we can start working on a solution," Judge said on Friday. "But overall, I'm just mad.

"I want to be out there with my team, especially in Spring Training. We have a good team here, a good club. We have a lot of goals here in 2020, and I want to be out there. But the first thing is you've got to get this healed, get it right and then we can move forward."

There is the possibility of surgery for two-time All-Star and 2017 Silver Slugger Judge, who said: "The fact that the bone is healing, progressing that way, there's really no need to go down that route.

"If it wasn't healing, wasn't going the way we wanted it to go, then, yeah, that's a possibility.''

Yankees manager Aaron Boone added: "It was to a point where he needed to start getting some answers.

"Now we have some answers and a plan of attack in place. Hopefully, it is a situation where it is healing and it won't be something that ends up being too long."

Luis Severino will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery in a huge blow for MLB championship aspirants the New York Yankees.

Severino's season is over before it starts after being diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman announced on Tuesday.

A two-time All-Star – who was limited to just three regular-season starts in 2019 – Severino experienced discomfort during the American League Championship Series (ALCS) clash against the Houston Astros last term.

"Sevy has acknowledged and agreed the surgery is necessary," Cashman said during the Yankees' 4-1 preseason win over the Blue Jays.

"His plan is to have it done as soon as possible. He's obviously contemplating the doctors and who to do it with."

"My gut is, it's something that dates back to when he started feeling something [during the ALCS]," Cashman added. "The prior MRIs had no problem, and the point of injury was not around the ligament.

"Our athletic trainers, our physical therapists and the orthopaedics who examined him both in Tampa and New York could not produce anything that showed the ligament issue in any shape or form [until Tuesday]."

In 99 games and 88 starts since 2015, Severino has 42 wins and 589 strikeouts for the Yankees.

"My immediate reaction is just kind of feeling for him, wanting to check in with him and seeing how he's feeling," manager Aaron Boone said. "Obviously, it's losing a great pitcher, but we'll manage it. We'll figure it out and just try and support Sevy right now."

New York Yankees star Giancarlo Stanton said he would have hit more than 80 home runs in 2017 if he knew signs like the Houston Astros.

The MLB has been engulfed by a sign-stealing scandal involving the Astros, who were found to have stolen sings of opposition teams en route to winning the 2017 World Series, as well as for part of the 2018 season.

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were subsequently fired by Houston in January after they were initially suspended for the entire 2020 campaign by the league, while the Boston Red Sox dismissed manager Alex Cora.

The Astros edged the Yankees 4-3 in the American League Championship Series three years ago and New York's Aaron Judge has already labelled the punishment "weak".

Yankees team-mate Stanton, who tallied 59 homers for the Miami Marlins in 2017 before moving to New York the following year, weighed in on Wednesday.

"If knew what was coming in '17, I probably would have hit 80-plus home runs," Stanton – the 2017 National League MVP – told reporters midweek.

Stanton, who is a four-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger Award winner, added: "They did their investigation and it was clear-cut that they cheated that year, which means it should be taken away.

"If you cheat in another way during the season, you can't even be in the playoffs. It's pretty much the same difference."

Astros players were not disciplined by MLB following the investigation and Stanton said: "I don't think the penalties were harsh enough player-wise. At the end of the day it gives more incentive to do that if you're not going to punish the players."

"We know that they really don't care to give an apology or explain their side, and it showed by their response," Stanton continued. "You know the repercussions of doing something like that. You're really only sorry because you got caught. You have all this whirlwind of which you've got to deal with, not the actual action."

Aaron Judge believes the punishment handed to the Houston Astros by MLB in the wake of the sign-stealing scandal has been too weak.

The Astros were found to have stolen signs of opposition teams on the way to winning the championship in 2017, as well as for part of 2018.

General manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were subsequently fired by the team after they were initially suspended, while the Boston Red Sox dismissed manager Alex Cora.

He had been bench coach for the Astros before leaving to lead the Red Sox to the championship in 2018, with an investigation into Boston ongoing.

Last week, however, Astros owner Jim Crane claimed the team felt the sign-stealing did not impact the game.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred stated in January that the league did not plan to strip either team of their respective championships and Judge, who was part of a New York Yankees team which lost to the Astros in the American League Championship Series (ALCS) in both 2017 and 2019, has been left frustrated.

"I wasn't a fan of the punishment," Judge told a news conference in relation to Astros players being given immunity in exchange for their testimonies. "I thought it was a little weak for a player-driven scheme."

"That's how I feel, it wasn't earned playing the game right and fighting to the end," he added when asked if the Astros should be stripped of the title.

"They weren't competing and we're competitors. The biggest thing about competition is laying it all on the line and whoever is the better player, the better person, comes out on top.

"You lay it out there and to know another team had an advantage which you can't guard against, I don't feel that's earned. It's not earned."

The Yankees do not face the Astros until May, when they play a three-game stand in Houston.

Judge is not the only player to have revealed his disappointment at MLB's punishment, with Atlanta Braves outfielder Nick Markakis also left frustrated.

"It's anger," Markakis told reporters on Tuesday. "I feel like every single guy over there needs a beating. It's wrong. They're messing with people's careers."

NBA great LeBron James also weighed in, calling on commissioner Manfred to take on board the comments from the players of opposing teams in regards to the scandal.

New York Yankees great Derek Jeter was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame alongside Larry Walker on Tuesday.

Jeter featured on the ballot for the first time and fell one vote short of becoming the second inductee to achieve unanimous selection, behind former team-mate Mariano Rivera.

A five-time World Series champion, Jeter spent his entire career with the Yankees after making his MLB debut in 1995.

He was an All-Star on 14 occasions and won five Gold Gloves before retiring at the end of the 2014 season.

Rivera, inducted in 2019, said: "Derek prided himself on being a consistent presence. No moment was too big. He was fearless and he was the type of leader we knew we could count on year after year.

"I feel so fortunate that he was a team-mate and friend for my entire career and I congratulate him on this great honour."

Canadian right fielder Walker, who starred for the Montreal Expos, Colorado Rockies and St Louis Cardinals, narrowly surpassed the 75 per cent voting threshold required for Hall of Fame selection in his 10th and final year of selection eligibility.

The induction ceremony will take place on July 26 in Cooperstown, New York, home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

New York Yankees pitcher Domingo German has accepted an 81-game suspension under Major League Baseball's domestic violence policy.

The 27-year-old, who has already served 18 of those games after being placed on administrative leave in September, will now be banned for 63 fixtures in the 2020 season.

He will not appeal the sanction, which was confirmed in an MLB statement on Thursday.

It read: "German has agreed not to appeal the discipline. He has also agreed to make a contribution to Sanctuary for Families, a New York City-based, non-profit organization dedicated to aiding victims of domestic violence.

"Consistent with the terms of the policy, German will participate in a confidential and comprehensive evaluation and treatment program supervised by the joint policy board."

MLB commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr added: "Having reviewed all of the available evidence, I have concluded that Mr German violated our policy and that discipline is appropriate."

In a statement of their own, the Yankees said: "We remain steadfast in our support of Major League Baseball's investigative process and the disciplinary action taken regarding Domingo German. Domestic violence -- in any form -- is a gravely serious matter that affects every segment of our society.

"Major League Baseball has taken the lead in our industry to make domestic violence awareness and prevention a priority, and we will continue to back those efforts. We are encouraged by Domingo's acceptance of his discipline, and we sincerely hope this indicates a commitment to making a meaningful and positive change in his personal conduct."

Gerrit Cole was officially unveiled by the New York Yankees on Wednesday after signing a record nine-year deal.

Cole has agreed a contract reportedly worth $324million after leaving the Houston Astros to enter free agency.

The 29-year-old's deal will run until the 2028 MLB season, with a player opt-out following the 2024 campaign.

Boyhood Yankees fan Cole's package is reported to be the highest ever in terms of contract value for a free agent starting pitcher and annual average for any free agent.

Fellow pitcher Chance Adams has been designated for assignment by the Yankees to make room on the 40-man roster.

Five months on from the Raptors' stunning NBA Finals triumph in Oakland, the city of Toronto will hope to be celebrating further success after the MLS Cup final.

The Raptors defeated two-time defending champions the Golden State Warriors for their first title, and Toronto FC can add another championship by beating Seattle Sounders on Sunday.

Toronto and Seattle are facing one another in the season decider in MLS for the third time in four years, winning a title apiece at BMO Field before this showdown at CenturyLink Field.

Victory would cap a sensational 2019 for sports in Toronto, but other cities have similarly been able to hail two or more major championships in the same year previously. We take a look at the seven most recent examples.
 

1998: CHICAGO - Bulls (NBA), Fire (MLS)

Michael Jordan's NBA dominance with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s gave the city's other sports teams plenty of opportunities to complete a double. In 1998, two years after the introduction of MLS, early force Chicago Fire were able to deliver.

Jordan ended his final season in Chicago a champion once again, the MVP and Finals MVP as the Utah Jazz were beaten 4-2 in June. Fire then defeated DC United 2-0 at the Rose Bowl in October, capping a fine year for the Windy City.
 

2000: NEW JERSEY/NEW YORK - Devils (NHL), Yankees (MLB)

The sports teams in the greater New York area brought in the millennium in real style as both the New Jersey Devils and the New York Yankees were able to clinch championships.

The second of the Devils' three Stanley Cup successes to date came against the Dallas Stars in June's Game 6, before a New York victory at the World Series was guaranteed as the Yankees faced the Mets four months later. The Yankees won inside five games for a third straight title.
 

2002: LOS ANGELES - Lakers (NBA), Galaxy (MLS), Angels (MLB)

Few cities have enjoyed a year as dominant as Los Angeles did in 2002, with the Los Angeles Lakers, LA Galaxy and Anaheim Angels all triumphing.

The Lakers won the NBA Finals for a third consecutive year in June, crushing the New Jersey Nets 4-0, before October brought double delight for the city's sports fans, with Galaxy beating New England Revolution 1-0 as the Angels began their World Series campaign, ultimately edging out the San Francisco Giants in seven games.
 

2004: NEW ENGLAND/BOSTON - Patriots (NFL), Red Sox (MLB)

It should have surprised no one to see the New England Patriots win the Super Bowl, their second of three in four years, but it was a far bigger deal to see the Boston Red Sox come out on top in the World Series.

Tom Brady earned his second ring as the Carolina Panthers were edged out in a dramatic fourth quarter in February, before neighbours the Red Sox ended the 'Curse of the Bambino' and an 86-year wait for a championship by thrashing the St Louis Cardinals in October, having earlier come from 3-0 down against the Yankees.

2009: PITTSBURGH - Steelers (NFL), Penguins (NHL)

Pittsburgh sports fans have had plenty to celebrate since the turn of the century. The Pirates have largely toiled in MLB, but the NFL Steelers and NHL Penguins have each seen success - and did so in the same year in 2009.

The Steelers became the first franchise to win six Super Bowls when they held off a fourth-quarter fightback from the Arizona Cardinals in February, while the Penguins avenged their 2008 Stanley Cup defeat to the Detroit Red Wings against the same team in Game 7 in June.
 

2012: LOS ANGELES - Kings (NHL), Galaxy (MLS)

If Toronto can win a second MLS Cup in three years, they will then hope to kick on and pursue Galaxy's record of five titles - the fourth of which came in December 2012, six months after the Los Angeles Kings broke their Stanley Cup duck.

Playing just the second Finals in their history, the Kings dealt established winners the Devils a six-game defeat. Galaxy, far more accustomed with success, then defeated Houston Dynamo for the second year running in the MLS Cup final.


2014: LOS ANGELES - Kings (NHL), Galaxy (MLS)

Having waited so long for a first triumph, the Kings wasted little time at all to double their tally - much like Toronto FC, the Reds will hope.

Another New York outfit, the New York Rangers, were dispatched 4-1 in June, setting up another magnificent double with Galaxy when Bruce Arena's men beat New England thanks to an extra-time Robbie Keane strike in December.

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is not on board with the narrative he did not try to sign a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher.

The Yankees succumbed to the Houston Astros in the MLB American League Championship Series.

When asked about reportedly "passing" on star pitchers like Gerritt Cole, Justin Verlander, Patrick Corbin and Zack Greinke, Cashman replied: "I didn't pass on them.

Cashman went on to describe how the Yankees could not afford Verlander due to budgetary limits, how New York's package was not as enticing as Houston's for Cole and how the team were simply outbid for Corbin.

He also said part of the Yankees' problem this postseason was centred on the loss of Domingo German – who was suspended late in the year due to a domestic violence incident in September.

Despite an ALCS exit to the Astros, Cashman is happy with the team the Yankees have and believes they can win a championship.

"You don't get everything you want at all times," Cashman said. "But I think what we've done was do a lot of great things along the way. I can sleep at night with the process we have in place, and it's served us well and put us in position to take a legitimate shot at the championship so far in more recent years, that's despite some of the options that went elsewhere."

The Yankees are rumoured to be on the lookout for a starter in free agency amid reports New York want Cole, who is a free agent.

But Cole is rumoured to also want to play close to home on the west coast with the Los Angeles Angels being an early favourite among pundits as a landing spot for the 29-year-old.

"You put your best foot forward and you live with it," Cashman said. "I have no regrets that we have a strong process and we put our best foot forward."

 

CC Sabathia bade farewell to baseball on Monday, two days after he went off injured in the New York Yankees' postseason defeat to the Houston Astros.

Veteran pitcher Sabathia, who confirmed in February that this MLB season would be his last, had to leave the field during Game 6 of the American League Championship Series. 

The Yankees went on to lose 6-4, with the Astros claiming the series 4-2.

Sabathia took to Twitter on Monday, posting an emotional goodbye to baseball following 19 years in MLB.

"It all started in Vallejo, CA in my grandma's backyard throwing grapefruits at a folding chair," the 39-year-old wrote.

"I could have never imagined how much this game has meant to me since. Through the ups and downs, baseball has always been my home.

"From Cleveland, to Milwaukee, New York, and everywhere in between, I'm so thankful to have experienced this journey with every teammate past and present."

Sabathia went 251-161 with a 3.74 ERA and 3,093 strikeouts in 19 seasons with the Cleveland Indians, Milwaukee Brewers and the Yankees.

Jose Altuve was crowned the American League Championship Series MVP after his walk-off homer saw the Houston Astros reach the World Series at the expense of the New York Yankees.

Altuve smashed a two-run walk-off home run in the ninth inning as the Astros beat the Yankees 6-4 in Game 6 on Saturday, sealing a 4-2 ALCS victory.

After setting up a showdown with the Washington Nationals in the MLB showpiece, Altuve became the first second baseman to win both the regular-season and postseason-round MVP Award.

"I wanted to just get a good pitch to hit," said Altuve, who led the Astros to their second World Series in three seasons.

"[Yankees pitcher Aroldis] Chapman, for me, is one of the best closers I've ever faced, and he throws hard. I wanted to be on time for the fastball, so I was looking for something I could handle, and it just happened.

"Running around the bases, the only thing I was thinking was, just thanking God for this opportunity to be going to the World Series once again. I thank everybody in the ballpark, because you guys are the biggest reason that we're here. And my team-mates, they're the MVPs of the game. I can't wait for the World Series."

Altuve – a six-time All-Star – was named American League MVP in 2017 as the Astros went on to win the World Series two years ago.

"We won the game not because I hit a homer," added Altuve, who is also a Gold Glove winner and five-time Silver Slugger.

"Yuli [Gurriel] hit a three-run homer. Michael Brantley made a really good play over there, [George] Springer just walked and put some pressure on them to get some momentum going. We worked as a team. We don't have just one player, as I said before, and I'm just so happy for everyone right now."

Astros manager AJ Hinch added: "The playoff version of him is spectacular. We talk about his Division Series homers and then his attention to detail in every facet of the game.

"He's turned himself into a star in his career here, and yet he's remained humble, he's remained hungry. He's driven. He's engaging with his team-mates. It's the same old quote of, 'Everything that's right about the Astros is Jose Altuve.'

"He's been here the longest and seen this organization grow from the ground up. I'm so proud of him. I'm so fortunate to be his manager."

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