Pete Ricketts and Omaha pastor reconcile, audio of contentious meeting surfaces

Pete Ricketts and Omaha pastor reconcile, audio of contentious meeting surfaces

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and Omaha pastor Jarrod Parker met Wednesday, after a disagreement earlier in the week sparked public conversation about the relationship between the local government and the black community.

“We embraced, and we shook hands,” Parker, the pastor of St. Mark Baptist Church in Omaha, said in a live video on Facebook. “We met and vowed to work together in a spirit of peace and reconciliation.”

It was Parker’s second video this week about Ricketts, who is also part of the Cubs family ownership, but who stepped down from the Board of Directors when he took office. On Monday, after a meeting with local government officials and black community members, Parker posted an impassioned video in which he said Ricketts called black leaders “you people.”

In a statement, Ricketts said, “I chose my words poorly, and apologized when it became apparent that I had caused offense.”

Audio reportedly of a portion of Monday's meeting surfaced and circulated online Wednesday. NBC Sports Chicago obtained a copy of that audio.

After a break in the audio, Ricketts can be heard saying, “Where the hell were all you guys when I was trying to—”

Another man cuts him off saying, “Excuse me, what did you just say?”

Several other voices chime in, drowning each other out.

Parker addressed the audio, and the criticism he's received since it surfaced, in his Facebook video.

Posted by St Mark Baptist Church on Wednesday, June 3, 2020

“There’s sound that is kind of washing out what was being said after ‘you guys.’  Let me say this, as a pastor, as a man, … I was sitting right next to him. I stand by what I said, and the governor apologized for it. I thanked him as a man for doing that.”

On Tuesday Morning, Ricketts said on a local radio station, 96.7 The Boss, that he planned to speak with Parker.

“I’m absolutely open,” Ricketts said. “I think what we want to do is let everybody’s emotions kind of cool down here a little bit, but I will follow up with the pastor and apologize to him directly and certainly I apologized to all the folks in the room yesterday as well, while we were still there.”

Parker said he’s uninterested in the argument over the meeting audio.

“I hope that this is a message that as much as we disagree and as much as we can hurt each other and be intensive,” Parker said, “we have to come back to the table. Black people, white people, young people, old people, Christian people, non-Christian, people of all faiths, all colors … we’ve got to come back together now.”

Cubs 2020 MLB schedule: 5 AL Central stars fans need to know

USA Today

Cubs 2020 MLB schedule: 5 AL Central stars fans need to know

MLB announced the full 60-game regular season schedule on Monday evening, so we finally have the who, when and where down for the unique 2020 campaign.

We also know pretty well how the Cubs stack up their division rivals, since the teams are so familiar with themselves. But what about that other Central division? The one that’s used to the DH? In 2020, the Cubs will face the A.L. Central teams more regularly, when they typically only play against them every few years. So who are the big names Cubs fans gotta keep an eye on when they take the field?

Here are the Top-5 stars from the A.L. Central the Cubs will play this year

Cubs' Kris Bryant chimes in on testing concerns: 'We've got a big hill to climb'

Cubs' Kris Bryant chimes in on testing concerns: 'We've got a big hill to climb'

Kris Bryant announced last Tuesday that he’d landed in Chicago, holding his infant son in his arms on the flight over. That same day, he went through intake screening. He wasn’t scheduled to undergo his second round of COVID-19 testing until Sunday.

“I’m not trying to be insensitive by any means because there’s a lot of people out there struggling who need tests,” the Cubs third baseman said. “I genuinely want that to come across. But at the same time, MLB created this lab and did all this stuff to be able to run a season. I know there’s going to hiccups, but you just can’t hiccup with this.”

Bryant’s frustrations were echoed across the league on Monday. The Astros, Nationals and Cardinals all cancelled workouts Monday while waiting for test results. The Angels and Diamondbacks also navigated delays. The A’s postponed their first position player workouts on Sunday, also due to testing complications. 

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According to a league release, over 95 percent of intake testing had been “conducted, analyzed and shared with all 30 Clubs” by Monday afternoon. MLB expects the remaining tests to be completed by the end of the day. Those who had finished testing are scheduled to be tested every other day from here on out.

“Our plan required extensive delivery and shipping services, including proactive special accommodations to account for the holiday weekend,” MLb said in a statement. "The vast majority of those deliveries occurred without incident and allowed the protocols to function as planned.  Unfortunately, several situations included unforeseen delays.  We have addressed the delays caused by the holiday weekend and do not expect a recurrence.  We commend the affected Clubs that responded properly by cancelling workouts.”

The Cubs, who had not announced any positive COVID-19 tests as of Monday evening, haven’t faced the same testing scares as some other teams have. But manager David Ross said he voiced his concerns to the league, advocating for more frequent testing and a quicker return on the results.

“It’s definitely new for everybody,” Ross said, “so you want to try to give Major League Baseball a little bit of slack in some areas because we’re all needing some slack in some areas, but I think the protocols they have in place are for a reason and we need to get these tests done.”

MLB  converted a lab in Utah, which had previously handled Minor League Baseball drug tests, into a COVID-19 testing facility in preparation for the season. The 2020 Operations Manual that the players signed off on promises that players will be tested every other day during Summer Camp and the season. Albert Almora, like Bryant, said he went through intake testing on Tuesday and had his second round of testing Sunday.

“So, it was a big gap in between,” he said. “A lot of guys weren’t happy with that. … As careful as you may be, (the virus) an invisible thing that you have no control over even if you do all the right things. It’s tough. It’s something that we have to overcome, and hopefully it gets better. I know they’re all working their kinks out, but hopefully we can get this straight away and get the testing that we’re promised.”

Fixing the testing process, Almora predicted, would ease some players’ worries about playing this season. Players like Almora and Bryant are concerned that they could COVID-19 home to their families. Bryant said he’s not considering opting out, but he’d thought about it before.

“I wanted to play this year,” Bryant said, “because I felt that it would be safe and I would feel comfortable. But honestly, I don’t really feel that way, which is why I’m trying to keep my distance from everybody and wear my mask just so we can get this thing going.”

If MLB does reach Opening Day -- and the way Bryant sees it, it would be "foolish" to not include that "if" -- the regular season adds a host of new concerns.

"You’re traveling and you’re in an airplane, in your hotel, you’re getting room service, who knows what people are doing?" Bryant said. "Especially on the other teams too; you’ve got to rely on everybody in this whole thing. I think if we can’t nail the easy part, which is right now and just our players, we’ve got a big hill to climb."

Bryant, a former Cubs’ MLBPA representative, said he was “ashamed” of how publicly MLB restart negotiations played out. Now, he thinks so much time was spent on economic talks that health-and-safety discussions were rushed.

“It was a mess,” Bryant said. “And it still kind of is a mess, and hopefully we can find a way to repair that and fix things and get back on track.”