Allison Williams, a veteran college football sideline reporter for ESPN, announced on Thursday that she will be opting out of the season because she will not take the COVID-19 vaccine.
“While my work is incredibly important to me, the most important role I have is as a mother,” she wrote in a statement on Twitter. “Throughout our family planning with our doctor, as well as a fertility specialist, I have decided not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at this time while my husband and I try for a second child.
“This was a deeply difficult decision to make and it’s not something I take lightly. I understand vaccines have been essential in the effort to end this pandemic; however, taking the vaccine at this time is not in my best interest.
“After a lot of prayer and deliberation, I have decided I must put my family and personal health first. I will miss being on the sidelines and am thankful for the support of my ESPN family. I look forward to when I can return to the games and job that I love.”
Williams has been at ESPN since 2011 and has been one of their most prominent sideline reporters for college football and basketball games; on at least one occasion — last October’s matchup between Miami and Clemson — she was on the network’s top broadcast team with Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Fowler.
As in broader society, vaccine mandates have been a topic of discussion in sports media. The Post’s Andrew Marchand reported that John Smoltz and Al Leiter would be doing their MLB Network work from home out of refusal to get the jab. Smoltz is also the top color commentator on Fox’s baseball coverage, and has continued in that role uninterrupted.
ESPN’s parent company, Disney, announced last month that all employees were required to be fully vaccinated.
The New York Space Mountain Yankees.
This roller-coaster season has all the twists and turns possible. From bad to decent to good to bad, the Yankees are now in a bit of a tailspin. They have fallen to the second wild-card spot and their lead is just 1.5 games over the sizzling Blue Jays. Five straight losses have Yankee fans entering panic city, but a win on Thursday could give the team a much-needed sigh of relief going into the Subway Series in Queens this weekend.
To talk about the Yankees’ struggles, the big Mets-Yankees series ahead and look back at 9/11, we bring you a new episode of the “Pinstripe Pod” with Chris Shearn and Jeff Nelson, featuring a terrific interview with three-time Yankees World Series champion Mike Stanton.
Pinstripe Pod Opening Segment with Chris, Jeff & Jake:
- YANKEES STRUGGLES: Five straight losses and nine losses in their last 11 games. Things are falling apart for this team. The rotation is not giving length and the team is struggling against teams in the division. Nellie says it felt like a library it was so quiet in the stadium Wednesday. Could this team actually end up missing the playoffs now?
- SUBWAY SERIES/REMEMBERING 9/11: Shearn and Nellie will be at the Amazin’ But True live fundraiser podcast Friday night at Katch Astoria. Both teams are fighting for the playoffs and this is a huge series, including the 20th anniversary of 9/11 on Saturday. We all look back to where we were on that tragic day.
Mike Stanton Interview:
Three-time World Series champion Yankees reliever (1997-2002)
- 9/11, 2001 YANKEES: Takes us through where he was on 9/11, the Yankees coming back to play and uplifting the city getting to the World Series. They were a hated team, but loved during that playoff run.
- JETER: He had ice in his veins and anyone saying he is not a Hall of Famer is crazy. He is not the all-time greatest shortstop, but he’s in the conversation of being one of the best.
- 1998 YANKEES: Will never have a team as good as that team.
Catch up on all episodes of “Pinstripe Pod,” a New York Yankees podcast, by subscribing to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Follow the whole crew on Twitter @ChrisShearnYES, @NYNellie43 and @JakeBrownRadio. New episodes of the show are released Mondays and Thursdays.
The collapsing Yankees suffered another blow Thursday when Jameson Taillon was placed on the 10-day injured list with a partially torn tendon in his right ankle.
Taillon had been slated to start Sunday against the Mets, but instead joins the list of wounded Yankees.
Aaron Boone said the right-hander suffered the injury at some point during the latter part of his last outing. He received a platelet-rich plasma injection on Tuesday and was in a walking boot Wednesday and Thursday.
Boone added Taillon was expected to be out of the boot as early as Friday, and the manager wouldn’t rule out Taillon being able to rejoin the rotation when he’s eligible to come off the IL.
“Am I confident? No,’’ Boone said of Taillon only missing one start. “But [the injury] sounds worse than it is. His body is gonna tell us how he is. There’s a chance he only misses one. It could be something that drags on.”
Some of it will come down to Taillon’s pain tolerance.
But the flailing Yankees can’t really even afford to have Taillon out at all — and with the way things are going in The Bronx, optimism should be in short supply.
Taillon’s loss leaves the rotation in even more disarray after Gerrit Cole left his start on Tuesday with a tight left hamstring.
Cole played catch on Thursday, with Boone saying his ace told him it went well.
“He’s pretty confident he’ll be able to go early next week,’’ Boone said.
If he doesn’t suffer a setback, Cole could start Monday or Tuesday, with Luis Gil also due to get another start next week.
The Yankees are already without Domingo German with right shoulder inflammation, and while they had hoped to get Luis Severino back for the stretch run, his comeback from Tommy John surgery has been delayed by a strained groin and, more recently, right shoulder tightness.
Nestor Cortes Jr. started Thursday against the Blue Jays, with Jordan Montgomery opening the Subway Series in Queens on Friday and Corey Kluber going Saturday.
Boone said Sunday’s starter was still undetermined.
“These are important people we lost,’’ Boone said of their injury situation. “We also know we have guys in that room capable of getting this done. We know we need to turn it around and play better. We hope these guys are back in the fold soon.”
Michael King will be activated Friday and is built up to throw about three innings after recovering from a right middle finger contusion. He could be used Friday or Saturday out of the bullpen.
Andrew Heaney is another option as a bulk pitcher or for high-leverage situations, despite some awful results since arriving in a trade from the Angels at the deadline in July.
“The reality is we have to, as much as we’ve leaned on the bullpen this week with shorter outings and a number of guys down,’’ Boone said of considering Heaney. “Other guys have to step up.”
Deivi Garcia was in The Bronx on Thursday as a member of the taxi squad, though Boone did not expect the 22-year-old right-hander to be activated. He is scheduled to start for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Friday, but is in the midst of a wildly disappointing season.
Asked if Garcia could be activated over the weekend, Boone said, “Not necessarily. But especially with what we’ve been through of late, anything is possible.”
Dodgers star Cody Bellinger is months away from taking on his proudest role yet — becoming a “girl dad.”
The two-time All-Star center fielder is currently expecting a baby girl with model Chase Carter, who is “technically due Nov. 28,” Bellinger told The Post.
Chase announced her pregnancy in an Instagram post on July 13 — Bellinger’s 26th birthday. Though, the 2020 World Series Champion and IMG model spent months enjoying the pregnancy in private.
“I found out four months ago, so I kept it a secret for a little bit to make sure [they were] healthy,” Bellinger said recently about both his girlfriend and their soon-to-be daughter.
And even if the defending champs make another deep October run, Bellinger still should have plenty of time to prepare for the big changes coming.
“But I’m really excited to have a little girl and I’m really excited that she’s supposed to be born after the season — having a baby in season seems pretty tough,” Bellinger said. “It works out perfectly [with the season schedule], but we’ll see when she’s really going to be born. I’m super excited.”
Bellinger is well aware fatherhood is a much different ball game than what he’s used to, but he’s up for “the challenge.”
“Everyone’s told me, ‘Your first kid, you really don’t know what to do, so don’t be confused if you don’t know what to do,” Bellinger said. “I’m just excited to watch her grow and become her own person. It’s crazy.
“The first year is probably going to be a grind from what I’ve heard, but when they start talking and getting a personality. — It’s going to be fun.”
While Bellinger prepares for fatherhood, he’s also gearing up for another role that has him seeing pink.
“My sister is pregnant too [with a girl], a few weeks ahead of us, so that’s going to help,” he said about his older sister Ashli Korver Bellinger. “I’ll get to see her being a mom a few weeks before our baby is born and little cousins growing up together, that’s awesome.
“My parents went from no grandkids to two little girls in a few months. Everything is already pink and girly.”
As he awaits the birth of his baby girl and niece, Bellinger is also focused on getting back to full potential with the Dodgers, following a string a injuries.
The 2019 National League MVP entered the season recovering from offseason shoulder surgery to repair a damaged labrum. After starting spring training late, he was faced with another setback when he suffered a hairline fracture in his lower left leg — followed by a hamstring strain in June.
“It’s definitely been a unique year for me, but right now I feel good. I’ve been working hard every day with my strength and conditioning coaches to get right, and I’m learning about my body and why working out is good for me, why doing soft tissue is good for me,” said Bellinger, who is hitting .161 this season with nine home runs in 81 games.
“Normally, I was just young and had some aches and pains, but this year I’ve had injuries and I’ve had to learn a lot about my body and how it works has been pretty cool. It’s fun though. Now I have my own routine everyday and go in knowing what I need to do in order to get ready for the game.”
Despite Bellinger’s struggles, the Dodgers are in a tight race with the Giants for the top spot in the NL West and the best record in the league.
“I think we’ve been playing pretty well. As of a lot of teams this year, we’ve dealt with a lot of injuries and I think that’s just kind of been the norm of this season,” Bellinger said. “It’s been a unique season for a lot of teams, but we’re finally getting healthy and we made some trades. Hopefully we can play better than we have.”
The Dodgers aided their chances with the trade deadline additions of Max Scherzer and Trea Turner from the Nationals in a blockbuster deal.
“We’re just competing. No matter who’s out there or who’s hurt, you have to go out and compete,” Bellinger said. “We have a really deep roster now. It’s Important to just take care of what you can control and that’s what we’re good at. Obviously the division is very close and that’s very exciting. We’re good at making sure we’re alright and continuing to take care of ourselves.”
While Bellinger navigates arguably his most unpredictable season yet, he’s conquering seasonal allergies with Flonase Sensimist — an allergy relief product he credits for helping him stay focused on the field.
“It’s so important for me to keep up with my allergy routine, even in the fall,” Bellinger said.
From the book of John: “Please listen. You don’t know what you’re missin’.” We can all agree President Joe Biden has good material. “What am I talking about? … am I doing this again? … a tornado, they don’t call them that anymore, that hit the middle of the country in Nevada … President Harris … I want to thank the sec— the, the former general, I keep calling him general, my, my, uh, the guy who runs the outfit over there.”
Great stuff, but word this week that anxious White House staffers turn the TV off when Joe holds court. From the book of Yogi: “You can observe a lot by just watching.”
Milwaukee visits Cleveland. The Brewers’ Adrian Houser did not pitch well in his last road start, allowing five runs to the Twins. The GuarIndians’ Eli Morgan shut out the Red Sox for 5 ²/₃ in his latest outing. Play 10 units on the Indians.
The Jays and Yankees played longball (three homers each), but Toronto won the slugfest, 6-4. Jose Berrios is now 11-7. And we are now at -700 lemongellos.