Baseball and softball at the Tokyo Olympics: Everything you need to know

Baseball and softball are back. Here’s what you need to know…

America’s favorite pastime returns to the Olympics.

Baseball and softball will both run in a modified tournament format. The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), the international governing body established in 2013 to merge the International Softball Federation and the International Baseball Federation, will run the competitions.

Each tournament — one for baseball and one for softball — features six teams. The softball tournament will consist of a single round-robin among the six teams, followed by a bronze medal game and a gold medal game for a total of 17 games.

The baseball tournament opens with a group round-robin with two pools of three teams. Each team will play the other two teams in the pool once, with a total of six games played in the group round-robin.

The group round-robin is followed by a knockout round of 10 total games, wherein the first three games feature teams that finished in the same position within their pools (A1 vs. B1, A2 vs. B2, A3 vs. B3). The loser of the A3 vs. B3 game is eliminated, and the rest of the competition ensues in a double-elimination format until there is one team left in each of the winners and losers brackets. Those two teams play the gold medal game.

Baseball’s sister sport, softball, also returns to the Olympics.

The MLB has never halted or interrupted its season for the Olympics, and MLB officials still seem reluctant to do so.

Shortly after the announcement was made that baseball would appear in the Olympics, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said it was unlikely that MLB athletes would play, as it would mean that some MLB teams would play short-handed or the league would shut down for two weeks during the Olympics. The latter half of MLB’s season is the most crucial, as it sets up which teams will make it to the playoffs and ultimately the World Series, so it’s even harder to justify players taking time away from their teams.

In 2008, the last year baseball was seen at the Olympics, the US roster was filled by minor league players and one college player.

So far, it seems unlikely that any big leaguers will travel to Japan.

Both tournaments will begin at the Azuma Stadium in Fukushima, with softball on July 21, 2021, and baseball on July 28, 2021. The finals will continue at Yokohama Stadium in Yokohama, Japan, with the softball final on July 27 and the baseball final on Aug. 7.

Check out the schedule of events here.

The Olympics are back on NBC, with a 24/7 stream online if you verify you’re a cable subscriber. NBCSports Gold will have a dedicated Olympics package — pay an upfront fee and you’ll be able to watch anywhere, uninterrupted by ads.

Tokyo is 16 hours ahead of the West Coast, so watching live should get a good spread of events. It’s a little trickier on the East Coast, where you may have to rely on highlights.

The BBC will cover the games on TV, radio and online in the UK, with more on Eurosport, a pay-TV channel. The time difference there is 8 hours, so you’ll have to get up very early in the morning to watch live.

In Australia, the Seven Network will spread free-to-air coverage over Channel Seven, 7Mate and 7Two. It’s a good year for watching Down Under, with Sydney only an hour ahead of Tokyo.

Kentucky Derby 2021: How to watch, stream live today without cable

The biggest horse race of the year is running Saturday on NBC. You can watch, no cable subscription required.

If you won’t be sipping mint juleps at Churchill Downs, you can make your own Derby cocktails and watch from home. The 2021 Kentucky Derby takes place on Saturday, May 1 and will be broadcast on NBC. Here’s how you can watch live without cable.

The Kentucky Derby ran in September last year but returns to its rightful place on the first Saturday in May this year.

The Kentucky Derby takes place on Saturday, May 1. TV coverage runs from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and then from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

Post time is set for approximately 6:57 p.m. ET (3:57 p.m. PT).

Read more: NBA restart: How to watch live games without cable

If you don’t have cable, you still have plenty of options. The least expensive that doesn’t require streaming is to connect an over-the-air antenna to your TV and watch your local NBC station.

If you’re streaming on a PC, phone or tablet you can watch on NBCSports.com or the NBC Sports app.

You could also check out a live TV streaming service, all of which offer free trials. Not every service carries your local NBC station, however, so check the links below to make sure.

Read more: How to place a Kentucky Derby bet with the TwinSpires app

Sling TV’s $35-a-month Sling Blue package includes local NBC stations but only in a handful of markets and NBCSN.

Read our Sling TV review.

Hulu with Live TV costs $65 a month and includes NBC in most markets and NBCSN. Click the “View channels in your area” link on its welcome page to see which local channels are offered in your ZIP code.

Read our Hulu with Live TV review.

AT&T Now TVs $70-a-month Plus package includes NBC and NBCSN in most markets. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels are available where you live.

Read our AT&T TV Now review.

FuboTV costs $65 a month and includes NBC and NBCSN in most markets. Click here to see which local channels you get.

Read our FuboTV review.

YouTube TV costs $65 a month and includes NBC in most markets and NBCSN. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see which local networks are available in your area.

Read our YouTube TV review.

Here’s how to stream live NBA games on ESPN, TNT and more

This holiday, you don’t need cable to watch all of your team’s games from the comfort of your home.

While you absolutely don’t need cable to watch basketball this year, it still might be the easiest and cheapest choice depending on where you live.

Read more: NHL in 2021: How to watch and stream hockey without cable

Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors during a recent game.

Die-hard sports fans are beholden to regional sports networks, or RSNs, that carry the majority of the games for their local team. These RSNs are usually included in local cable packages, so most cable subscribers never have to worry about gaining access to the broadcasts on these channels: They can simply turn on the TV and watch the game.

Cord-cutting basketball fans have a tougher path. Because of rights agreements, most live TV streaming services like YouTube TV or Hulu with Live TV don’t carry many RSNs. DirecTV Stream is the exception. It has nearly every RSN, particularly the Bally Sports channels (formerly Fox Sports) offered by Sinclair, but you’ll need to spring for its $85-a-month plan.

Read more: DirecTV Stream review: Expensive, but the best option for streaming NBA and NHL

Ultimately, depending on your location, getting a cable subscription that includes ESPN, TNT and the local RSN might actually be cheaper and easier than streaming — especially if it’s bundled with the home internet you’ll likely be getting anyway.

For NBA fans looking to watch a ton of out-of-market basketball, a subscription to NBA League Pass has a lot to offer. You can get the whole NBA slate for $199 for the season, with commercials and one device, or $249 for the season with in-arena feeds instead of commercials, and the ability to watch on two devices at once. Those interested in following only a single team can buy a Team Pass for $119 for the season.

The key catch here is “out-of-market.” Most fans are in-market, meaning they follow the local team, and unfortunately for them RSNs have broadcast exclusivity in the region that they cover. That means local NBA games are blacked out on NBA League Pass.

If you’re living in Los Angeles, for example, you won’t be able to watch Lakers or Clippers games on NBA League Pass. The same goes for Knicks fans in New York, Bucks fans in Milwaukee and so on. The only way to watch most of those home team games in your home market is to get a service that has the local RSN, namely Spectrum SportsNet, Bally Sports SoCal, MSG Network or Bally Sports Wisconsin.

Services like NBA League Pass use IP addresses to block out games in viewers’ regions — you’ll just get a black screen if you try to watch those games. That’s why League Pass is ideal for those who want to follow one or more of the teams based in cities other than their own, aka out-of-market teams, but for local fans it’s not as useful.

In another twist, the NBA TV network will broadcast 107 games this season that will be considered national for those out-of-market. This means that you will still be able to watch your local team play on your RSN, but viewers around the country will need NBA TV in order to watch the game — it will be blacked out on League Pass.

Luckily, League Pass subscribers have the option of adding NBA TV to their package for an extra $60 a year or $7 a month. This is most likely one of the cheapest ways to get NBA TV for the out-of-market fan.

YouTube TV is the only live TV streaming service that includes NBA TV in its base channel lineup. DirecTV Stream, FuboTV and Sling offer the channel only on higher-priced tiers or in special add-ons; see below for details.

For those determined to watch their local basketball team without a cable or satellite TV subscription, a live TV streaming service is the best bet. While it is pricey, DirecTV Stream is the best option for most people, particularly those where the local games air on Bally Sports networks.

Below is a chart of all of the NBA teams in the US and their corresponding RSNs.

Note: None of the (US-based) services carry the RSN for the Toronto Raptors. Fans looking to watch Fred VanVleet and co. need to use NBA League Pass to get all the games that are not either on your local RSN or on a US national broadcast.

Some key takeaways:

One other note: If you don’t recognize the name of some of these channels, don’t worry. As mentioned, the Fox Sports RSNs have been rebranded as Bally Sports, because the channels are no longer owned by Fox but Sinclair, which has since partnered with casino group Bally’s to rename them.

DirecTV Stream is expensive. It’s the priciest of the five major live TV streaming services, but it’s also the one with the most RSNs. Its cheapest, $70-a-month Plus package includes ESPN, ABC, TNT and TBS. You’ll need to move up to the $85-a-month Choice plan to get any available RSN as well as NBA TV. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels and RSNs are available in your area.

Aside from DirecTV Stream, the odds are long that a live TV streaming service carries the RSN for your local team’s games, which makes the other four services better bets for watching nationally televised games.

FuboTV costs $65 per month and offers 10 RSNs for basketball. It also includes ESPN, but not TBS — which might be a problem for some basketball fans. But you can add NBA TV for an extra $7 a month with the Fubo Extra Package or pay for the $80-a-month Elite streaming tier, which includes Fubo Extra. Check out which local networks and RSNs it offers here.

YouTube TV costs $65 a month and offers six RSNs for basketball, along with all of the national broadcasts including NBA TV. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see which local networks and RSNs are available in your area.

Hulu Plus Live TV costs $65 a month and carries six RSNs for basketball, along with ESPN, ABC, TBS and TNT, but not NBA TV. Click the “View all channels in your area” link at the bottom of its welcome page to see which local networks and RSNs are available where you live.

Sling Blue currently lacks a single RSN to watch basketball. You can, however, use Sling to watch some national broadcasts. Sling TV’s Orange plan includes ESPN, and both plans offer TBS, but neither of them gives you access to ABC. NBA TV is available as part of the Sports Extra add-on, which costs $11 a month for either the Blue or Orange plan, or $15 for the combined Orange-and-Blue plan. The individual plans cost $35 a month each, and the Orange-and-Blue plan costs $50 a month. You can see which local channels you get here.

Each live TV streaming service offers a free trial, allows you to cancel anytime and requires a solid internet connection. Looking for more information? Check out our live TV streaming services guide.

UFC 269 Charles Oliveira vs. Dustin Poirier: Start time, how to watch or stream online

UFC 268 is an absolute gem of a car, with two title fights.

Many consider Poirier the uncrowned champ.

But UFC 269 runs deep. Rising star Sean O’Malley features, Cody Garbrandt makes his flyweight debut and we have a host of compelling match ups all the through to the early prelims. Make no mistake, this Saturday is MMA Christmas.

Here’s everything you need to know.

The UFC 269 main card starts at 10 p.m. EDT (7 p.m. PDT) on Nov. 6. Here are all the details from multiple time zones.

The UFC now has a partnership with ESPN. That’s great news for the UFC and the expansion of the sport of MMA, but bad news for consumer choice. Especially, if you’re one of the UFC fans who want to watch UFC in the US.

In the US, if you want to know how to watch UFC 269, you’ll only find the fight night on PPV through ESPN Plus. The cost structure is a bit confusing, but here are the options to watch UFC on ESPN, according to ESPN’s site:

You can do all of the above at the link below.

MMA fans in the UK can watch UFC 269 exclusively through BT Sport. There are more options if you live in Australia. You can watch UFC 269 through Main Event on Foxtel. You can also watch on the UFC website or using its app. You can even order using your PlayStation or using the UFC app on your Xbox.

Need more international viewing options? Try a VPN to change your IP address to access those US, UK or Australian options listed above. See the best VPNs currently recommended by CNET editors.

As always, these cards are subject to change. We’ll keep this as up-to-date as possible.

NCAA women’s basketball championship: How to watch Arizona vs. Stanford today without cable

The women’s college basketball tournament concludes on ESPN and you don’t need cable to watch.

Here’s what you need to know to watch without a cable or satellite subscription.

The Arizona Wildcats celebrate after defeating the UConn Huskies in the Final Four semifinal game on Friday.

Yes. And you’ve got options. Each of the five major live TV streaming services — Sling TV, YouTube TV, Hulu Plus Live TV, FuboTV and AT&T TV — offer ESPN. The cheapest option is Sling TV’s Orange package, which costs $35 per month. The other services offer more channels in their basic packages and cost $65 or $70 per month.

Sling TV’s Orange plan costs $35 a month and includes ESPN.

YouTube TV costs $65 a month and includes ESPN.

Hulu With Live TV costs $65 a month and includes ESPN.

FuboTV costs $65 a month and includes ESPN.

AT&T TV’s basic, $70-a-month package includes ESPN.

All of the live TV streaming services above offer free trials, allow you to cancel anytime and require a solid internet connection. Looking for more information? Check out our live-TV streaming services guide.

Outside the US? Consider using a VPN: CNET editors choose the best VPN

T-Mobile perks now available for Metro customers

The carrier opens its rewards program to prepaid customers.

The rewards program is now available to eligible T-Mobile, legacy Sprint and Metro by T-Mobile customers. T-Mobile merged with MetroPCS back in 2013 and rebranded the prepaid service to Metro by T-Mobile in 2018. T-Mobile also completed its mega-merger with Sprint last year, combining the third- and fourth-largest wireless carriers in the US.

King Richard trailer: Will Smith aces as dad of Venus and Serena Williams

The Men in Black star plays Richard Williams, who drew up a 78-page plan for his daughters’ success before they were even born.

Will Smith plays Richard Williams, dad of tennis legends Venus and Serena, in King Richard. Aunjanue Ellis plays their mom, Oracene (far left). Also shown, from left, are Mikayla Bartholomew as Tunde Price, the girls’ half-sister, Saniyya Sidney as Venus, Demi Singleton as Serena, and Daniele Lawson as another half-sister, Isha Price.

In one scene, he tells his daughters that they’re representing “every little Black girl on Earth.” No pressure. But anyone who knows the Williams’ sisters story knows they lived up to it, and then some. Serena Williams has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, Venus Williams has won seven, the two have won 14 as a doubles team, and they’re also Olympic gold medalists.

“This world ain’t never had no respect for Richard Williams,” Smith’s character says in one scene. “But they gon’ respect y’all.”

Will Smith, Venus Williams and Serena Williams are among the film’s producers. Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton play the Williams sisters. King Richard opens in theaters on Nov. 19, and will be available for streaming on HBO Max’s ad-free platform 31 days.

Field of Dreams game: Watch Kevin Costner’s spine-tingling intro speech

They built it and Costner came out of the corn for real at this memorable MLB baseball game between the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox.

Kevin Costner on the Field of Dreams at the first MLB game in Iowa, August 2021.

Inspired by the 1989 movie, Major League Baseball built a temporary 8,000-seat ballpark at the farm in Dyersville, Iowa, where the movie was filmed. The New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox played a real professional MLB game Thursday.

So who won? Under the beautiful Iowa night sky, Tim Anderson capped the ninth inning by smashing one of the game’s several home runs into the cornfield, winning the game 9-8 for the White Sox.

The game was postponed from 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, so the event and its opening ceremony had an extra poignancy as an opportunity for 7,832 people to gather and enjoy the simple pleasure of a ballgame.

The New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox emerge from the corn onto the Field of Dreams.

Written and directed by Phil Alden Robinson and based on the novel Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella, the Oscar-nominated Field of Dreams starred Costner as a farmer who hears voices in his head telling him to plow his cornfield into a baseball diamond. The cornfield-ballfield attracts the spirits of baseball players involved in World Series match-fixing in the infamous 1919 Black Sox scandal.

The MLB has promised a return to Iowa in 2022, although the current disruption caused by the delta variant is a stark warning that the pandemic is far from over.

Champions League final: Man City vs. Chelsea kick-off time, how to watch

We’re just hours away from deciding the champions of Europe…

Sorry, Man City are probably gonna win.

And here’s a crazy statistic: Chelsea have beaten Man City on the last four occasions.

This should be a cracker of a final.

Read more: How to watch Premier League games live in the US today without cable

Here’s everything you need to know…

The final between Man City and Chelsea takes place on May 29. Kick-off will most likely be 3 p.m. ET (12 noon PT).

The second leg between Chelsea and Real Madrid. Kick-off will most likely be 8 p.m. GMT.

The final between Man City and Chelsea takes place on May 30. Kick-off will most likely be 5 a.m. AEDT.

The final was initially supposed to take place at Attaturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey, but was recently moved to the Estádio do Dragão in Portugal.

The long and short of it is, your best bet is signing up with Paramount Plus.

All the details on Paramount Plus’ online coverage of Champions League matches can be found here. Paramount Plus has access to all Champions League matches. You’ll also be able to watch all matches in the Europa League, the second-tier European competition.

Univision has the rights to the US Spanish broadcast of the Champions League, however. You can find out more here.

If you want to watch Champions League football in the UK, our recommendation is sign up with BT Sport.

BT Sport is streaming all the Champions League matches, but it also gives you access to a bunch of other good stuff, like UFC, so it’s worth getting.

Much like the English Premier League, Optus Sport is showing all the Champions League matches in Australia.

If you care about watching soccer at all, the Optus Sport deal is a good one. Especially if you follow the EPL which, being the most high profile league on the planet, most soccer fans do.

Disclaimer: I subscribe to the service and love it. Easy access to all matches on my smart TV and works nicely with a mobile app.

Social networks struggle to shut down racist abuse after England’s Euro Cup final loss

Social media users have been frustrated at having to perform moderation duties to keep racist abuse in check.

Bukayo Saka of England is consoled by head coach Gareth Southgate.

The vitriol presented a direct challenge to the social networks — an event-specific spike in hate speech that required them to refocus their moderation efforts to contain the damage. It marks just the latest incident for the social networks, which need to be on guard during highly charged political or cultural events. While these companies have a regular process that includes deploying machine-automated tools and human moderators to remove the content, this latest incident is just another source of frustration for those who believe the social networks aren’t quick enough to respond.

To plug the gap, companies rely on users to report content that violates guidelines. Following Sunday’s match, many users were sharing tips and guides about how to best report content, both to platforms and to the police. It was disheartening for those same users to be told that a company’s moderation technology hadn’t found anything wrong with the racist abuse they’d highlighted.

It also left many users wondering why, when Facebook, for example, is a billion-dollar company, it was unprepared and ill-equipped to deal with the easily anticipated influx of racist content — instead leaving it to unpaid good Samaritan users to report.

For social media companies, moderation can fall into a gray area between protecting free speech and protecting users from hate speech. In these cases, they must judge whether user content violates their own platform policies. But this wasn’t one of those gray areas.

Racist abuse is classified as a hate crime in the UK, and London’s Met Police said in a statement that it will be investigating incidents that occurred online following the match. In a follow-up email, a spokesman for the Met said that the instances of abuse were being triaged by the Home Office and then disseminated to local police forces to deal with.

Twitter “swiftly” removed over 1,000 tweets through a combination of machine-based automation and human review, a spokesman said in a statement. In addition, it permanently suspended “a number” of accounts, “the vast majority” of which it proactively detected itself. “The abhorrent racist abuse directed at England players last night has absolutely no place on Twitter,” said the spokesman.

Meanwhile, there was frustration among Instagram users who were identifying and reporting, among other abusive content, strings of monkey emojis (a common racist trope) being posted on the accounts of Black players.

According to Instagram’s policies, using emojis to attack people based on protected characteristics, including race, is against the company’s hate speech policies. Human moderators working for the company take context into account when reviewing use of emojis.

But in many of the cases reported by Instagram users in which the platform failed to remove monkey emojis, it appears that the reviews weren’t conducted by human reviewers. Instead, their reports were dealt with by the company’s automated software, which told them “our technology has found that this comment probably doesn’t go against our community guidelines.”

A spokeswoman for Instagram said in a statement that “no one should have to experience racist abuse anywhere, and we don’t want it on Instagram.”

“We quickly removed comments and accounts directing abuse at England’s footballers last night and we’ll continue to take action against those that break our rules,” she added. “In addition to our work to remove this content, we encourage all players to turn on Hidden Words, a tool which means no one has to see abuse in their comments or DMs. No one thing will fix this challenge overnight, but we’re committed to keeping our community safe from abuse.”

The social media companies shouldn’t have been surprised by the reaction.

Football professionals have been feeling the strain of the racist abuse they suffer online — and not just following this one England game. In April, England’s Football Association organized a social media boycott “in response to the ongoing and sustained discriminatory abuse received online by players and many others connected to football.”

English football’s racism problem is not new. In 1993, the problem forced the Football Association, Premier League and Professional Footballers’ Association to launch Kick It Out, a program to fight racism, which became a fully fledged organization in 1997. Under Southgate’s leadership, the current iteration of the England squad has embraced anti-racism more vocally than ever, taking the knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement before matches. Still, racism in the sport prevails — online and off.

On Monday, the Football Association strongly condemned the online abuse following Sunday’s match, saying it’s “appalled” at the racism aimed at players. “We could not be clearer that anyone behind such disgusting behaviour is not welcome in following the team,” it said. “We will do all we can to support the players affected while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible.”

Social media users, politicians and rights organizations are demanding internet-specific tools to tackle online abuse — as well as for perpetrators of racist abuse to be prosecuted as they would be offline. As part of its “No Yellow Cards” campaign, the Center for Countering Digital Hate is calling for platforms to ban users who spout racist abuse for life.

In the UK, the government has been trying to introduce regulation that would force tech companies to take firmer action against harmful content, including racist abuse, in the form of the Online Safety Bill. But it has also been criticized for moving too slowly to get the legislation in place.

Tony Burnett, the CEO of the Kick It Out campaign (which Facebook and Twitter both publicly support), said in a statement Monday that both the social media companies and the government need to step up to shut down racist abuse online. His words were echoed by Julian Knight, member of Parliament and chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

“The government needs to get on with legislating the tech giants,” Knight said in a statement. “Enough of the foot dragging, all those who suffer at the hands of racists, not just England players, deserve better protections now.”

As pressure mounted for them to take action, social networks have also been stepping up their own moderation efforts and building new tools — with varying degrees of success. The companies track and measure their own progress. Facebook employs its independent oversight board to assess its performance.

But critics of the social networks also point out that the way their business models are set up gives them very little incentive to discourage racism. Any and all engagement will increase ad revenue, they argue, even if that engagement is people liking and commenting on racist posts.

“Facebook made content moderation tough by making and ignoring their murky rules, and by amplifying harassment and hate to fuel its stock price,” former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao said on Twitter on Monday. “Negative PR is forcing them to address racism that has been on its platform from the start. I hope they really fix it.”