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Finnegan passes big test, helps Royals win Game 3

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Brandon Finnegan passed his biggest test yet. Only four months after he pitched in the College World Series, the 21-year-old reliever trotted into a troubling seventh inning, got two key outs and helped the Kansas City Royals hold off San Francisco 3-2 Friday night in Game 3 of the World Series. Finnegan made history with his rapid ascent, and later agreed to donate his cap to the Hall of Fame. All that, and something even more important to the Royals - he was part of giving them a 2-1 edge over the Giants. "My time came, and luckily I got the job done," Finnegan said. "This is the real deal, y'know?" His parents knew. Outside the Kansas City clubhouse, surrounded by a bevy of Royals rooters, Betty and Gary Finnegan tried to absorb what they'd just seen. "It is a dream ..." she said, some of her makeup washed away by tears. Without a pause, her husband finished the sentence, adding, "... that you don't want to wake up from." Back in June, Finnegan reached the peak of his baseball career - until that point - when he threw for TCU in the College World Series. But no one could have envisioned what would follow, because no one had ever played in both events in the same year. "I feel like I'm still in college," Finnegan said. "It's no different. It's still baseball." Ah, youth. Finnegan had warmed up in the sixth inning when the Giants scored twice to pull within a run, but didn't get the call. "We figured he wouldn't pitch after that," his dad said. Finnegan was back on the bullpen mound in the seventh at a rollicking AT&T Park, warming up when he was summoned into a tense spot to take over for proven reliever Kelvin Herrera: Runner on first, one out, Royals clinging to a one-run lead over the rallying Giants. "Get a double play and the inning's over," Finnegan said he told himself. All of Kansas City infielders huddled behind the mound as Finnegan got loose, realizing the most important point of their season was being entrusted to the rookie left-hander. Right before pinch-hitter Juan Perez stepped up, Finnegan walked to the back of the mound and went the routine he uses to steady himself. He took off his hat, rubbed his hair and looked at the right-field foul pole. "That's just what I do," he said. Then it was time for business. Finnegan delivered, retiring Perez on an easy fly. When he fell behind in the count 2-0 to Brandon Crawford, All-Star catcher Salvador Perez went to the mound. The message: "Be aggressive, not nervous," Perez said. Finnegan came back to strike out a swinging Crawford on a full count, and started to jog off the mound. He stopped short of the dugout and walked the rest of the way to the bench, where he was congratulated by Herrera and several other Royals. In the stands near the Kansas City bullpen, about 20 family members and friends whooped it up. "I'm very proud of him," Royals ace James Shields said. "To be able to keep your composure on this big of a stage the way he's doing, it is very impressive." "He's pitching well beyond his years. If he keeps that up, he's going to have a really good career," he said. Small in stature but big in accomplishments, Finnegan already has done that, and a lot more. "I fulfilled two dreams in one year," he said. As he spoke, he glanced at the tattoo on his right wrist. His tattoos all refer to family and faith, he said. There was some concern earlier this month that Finnegan's run of success was winding down. After finishing his minor league season in Double-A, he made his major league debut on Sept. 6 and pitched seven games for the Royals, allowing one run in seven innings. He threw 2 1-3 effective innings in the AL wild-card win over Oakland, and pitched twice in the AL Division Series against the Angels and got a win. But he struggled in the AL Championship Series against Baltimore, giving up three hits and a walk while getting only one out in two outings. Manager Ned Yost didn't need Finnegan in the first two games of the World Series. When it got tight in Game 3, it became Finnegan's turn to pitch - and his father's turn to soak in the whole experience. "I was shaking for three innings," his dad said. "My heart was pounding pretty hard."

Sat, 25 Oct 2014 04:52:00 +0000
Vargas to take on Vogelsong in Game 4 of Series

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Even though Jason Vargas will be making his World Series debut for Kansas City in Game 4, the Fall Classic atmosphere in San Francisco will not be foreign to him. Four years ago, while home for the offseason in Arizona, Vargas and his wife decided to fly to San Francisco to watch Game 1 of the 2010 World Series between the Giants and Texas Rangers. The Giants won 11-7 on the way to their first World Series title in San Francisco. They followed with another championship in 2012 and are back in for a third time in five years against the Royals this season. "It was just an electric atmosphere," Vargas recalled before Game 3 on Friday. "They were ready to go. The fans are here and they want to see their team win, and we're hoping to stop that." Vargas will have a big part in that goal when he starts Saturday night against Ryan Vogelsong. Vogelsong has experience on this big stage, getting the win in Game 3 against Detroit two years ago when he pitched 5 2-3 innings in a 2-0 victory that helped send San Francisco to a sweep. Vogelsong is the only pitcher to yield no more than one run in his first five postseason starts. That run ended in the NL Championship Series when Vogelsong allowed four runs in three innings of a no-decision against St. Louis. But Vogelsong has proven he has no problems dealing with the heightened intensity in October. "The biggest thing is just the experience of curbing the emotions," he said. "It's definitely a situation where you have to be locked into the game and your thoughts need to be on the game, but you have to take a quick second to look around and take it all in." Vogelsong's postseason success is partly attributable to an increase in velocity in those games, with his fastball going from the low 90 mph range to about 95 mph. "It's definitely a different adrenaline when you're in this stadium in a postseason game," he said. "It's different than an everyday regular-season game." Vargas has pitched well in his first two postseason starts, allowing two runs in six innings of a no-decision in the division series opener against the Angels and getting the win when he allowed one run of 5 1-3 innings of the ALCS clincher against Baltimore. Vargas had seven days off before his first postseason start, 12 before the second and nine before the Game 4 of the Series. He has used the time wisely, with the extra bullpen and side sessions helping to smooth out some mechanical issues that contributed to him going 1-5 with a 5.89 ERA in his final seven starts of the regular season. "He's had two great starts," manager Ned Yost said. "He was a guy that was consistent for us all year. Struggled a little bit his last three or four starts in September, but, again, a lot of that was mechanical, and he's made the adjustment. Had a great start against Anaheim. Had a great start against Baltimore, and we look for him to do the same tomorrow."

Fri, 24 Oct 2014 21:58:00 +0000
New advisers say NFL is serious about reform

CHICAGO (AP) Beth E. Richie is a professor and a college administrator. She has written articles and books about feminism, battered women and the prison system, and provided training for police, judges and other groups. So when the NFL called to ask for help with its domestic conduct policy, Richie wanted to make sure it was more serious than window dressing. "The players and the teams are one thing that almost could be easily managed," said Richie, the director of the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy at Illinois-Chicago. "I wanted to know are they interested in the fan base, the sponsoring organizations, the other corporate interests? "We almost haven't had a moment like this in the work to end violence when such power, such attention, such resources could go to prevention, changing culture, bystander education, those kinds of things." Intrigued by the possibilities, Richie joined a high-profile effort that is hoping to have an impact on domestic violence beyond the sports world. Richie is one of five senior advisers recently hired by the NFL to help shape the league's policy on abuse. Any action by the league after the Ray Rice scandal will be closely watched by the other sports. But the NFL's new group of advisers believes the process also could have a more far-reaching impact. "I think that they have the opportunity to model some cutting-edge policies and protocols or guidelines, and I'm excited at the opportunity for that reach to go beyond just the NFL, but into all of corporate America," said Jane Randel, a co-founder of No More, a campaign against domestic violence and sexual assault. Randel and the other advisers had a hand in a 40-minute educational presentation at last week's NFL meetings in New York. The presentation focused on the dangers of spousal abuse, child abuse, sexual assault and other domestic violence topics. Richie praised the NFL owners for their attentiveness, and Randel said it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Richie and Randel said the owners seemed serious. "You can see what people in the room are doing, and they were watching and engaged and taking notes and doing all the things that you would want them to do," she said, "because these things really only work if they start from the top." Randel's background is in cause marketing and corporate communications. She helped start No More in 2009 in an effort to raise awareness and money for organizations working to end domestic violence and sexual assault. Lisa Friel, another senior adviser, was the head of the Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit in the New York County District Attorney's Office for more than a decade, and Rita Smith is the former executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Tony Porter is a co-founder of A Call to Men, an organization dedicated to ending violence against women. "The first thing that we're going to look at is the league's personal conduct policy and how we can educate people about that," Friel said at the owners' meetings. "In a perfect world, the hope is you never have to use the disciplinary end of that policy, right? That you have your standards of behavior, you educate people about them and they don't violate your policy. That's what we're hoping to do." Sports have been a part of Richie's family life for a long time. She learned more about the business and organizational side of sports when her sister Laurel became president of the WNBA in 2011. Laurel Richie said in an email to The Associated Press that the NFL made a smart choice in asking Beth for help. "As a researcher, service provider, and advocate, my sister is one of the nation's leading experts on domestic violence and sexual assault in the African-American community," she wrote. Beth E. Richie was the last addition to the NFL panel, and her appointment was announced after the Rev. Jesse Jackson and a leading black women's group criticized the league for not including any African-American women in the group of consultants. It was clear the NFL was "looking for someone to fill that particular niche of race and community accountability," Richie said. The league is mulling over when to act in cases of domestic violence and sexual assault, particularly when criminal cases drag on. "I emphasize really, when possible, alternatives to only relying on the criminal legal system because in black communities that's been such a difficult tension," Richie said. "My instinct has always been to try to find ways that communities can hold people accountable, and only rely on the criminal justice system when communities can't hold people accountable." --- AP Basketball Writer Doug Feinberg and AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner in New York contributed to this report. --- Online: No More: http://nomore.org National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: www.ncadv.org A Call to Men: www.acalltomen.org --- AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL --- Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap

Fri, 17 Oct 2014 17:05:00 +0000
Attorney: NFL, Ravens not helping union Rice probe

The attorney leading the NFL players' union investigation into the Ray Rice domestic violence case told The Associated Press the league and the Baltimore Ravens have not been cooperating. Richard Craig Smith told the AP on Friday night that the NFL has not provided documents and witnesses requested by the NFLPA's investigators, while the Ravens have refused any cooperation with similar requests. "I am interested in the facts, and if we get cooperation from all the parties that were involved, we will have an understanding of what happened," Smith said. "We cannot accept public statements that call for transparency, candor and openness and then not allow the investigators to do their jobs." The union's investigation, like a similar probe organized by the NFL, isn't a law enforcement inquiry and the parties involved aren't under any legal obligation to comply with requests. The league and the union, however, have each said separately that they wanted answers in the case. A spokesman for the NFL couldn't comment immediately when reached Friday night while a spokesman for the Ravens didn't immediately return a phone message. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Rice indefinitely Sept. 8 for violating the league's personal conduct policy, once video of Rice hitting his then-fiancee was released publicly. The players' union hired Smith, a former federal prosecutor, one month ago to oversee its investigation into how the Ravens and the league handled themselves during the events that led to the suspension, as well as how the team handled issues like due process. Separately, the NFL hired former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III to conduct a probe into how the league handled evidence as it investigated the claims against Rice. NFL owners plan to make the findings of Mueller's report public. Smith said the union's investigation is important to ensuring the process was fair, and that requires transparency. "If the NFL is genuinely concerned about fixing the issues that led to an admitted mistake, then they should be honest and forthright about what they knew and when they knew it," Smith said. "We want both our team and Bob Mueller's team each to be able to conduct a thorough review of all the relevant facts." Smith, the head of regulatory and governmental investigation for the law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, represented the union during the Saints bounty scandal that resulted in four players being reinstated from suspension through an appeal in 2012. Goodell originally suspended Rice for two games. Once the video became public, the Ravens cut Rice, and the league banned him indefinitely. The league considered the video to be new evidence, giving Goodell the authority to further suspend Rice. The players' union appealed Rice's suspension, saying he should not be punished twice. Former U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones was selected by the commissioner and the players' union to hear the appeal. A person familiar with the case told the AP that Judge Jones told Goodell on Wednesday that he should testify at the hearing, which will be held Nov. 5-6. The person, speaking on condition of anonymity because details haven't been made public, said Adolpho Birch, the NFL's vice president for labor policy, league attorney Kevin Manara and security chief Jeffery Miller also are expected to testify along with Ravens President Dick Cass and general manager Ozzie Newsome. Rice plans to testify and his wife, Janay, might testify, the person said. --- AP NFL websites: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL --- Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP-RobMaaddi

Fri, 24 Oct 2014 23:08:00 +0000
Union questions NFL's domestic violence plan

NEW YORK (AP) The players' union has questioned why the NFL's domestic violence training and education program "treats all players as perpetrators." In a memo sent to NFL Players Association members on Thursday by Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and obtained Friday by The Associated Press, the union also said the plan "doesn't build a positive consensus to warning signs." Smith and union special counsel Teri Patterson described two meetings this month with the league in which an NFLPA commission was briefed on the league's approach to educating players, coaches, executives, owners and NFL personnel about domestic violence. He wrote that a "good overview of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse" was presented. But "it did not address larger issues of violence in and outside of the home." The NFL said of the "perpetrators" claim: "Nothing could be further from the truth. The presentation expressly recognizes that people in the NFL are often falsely portrayed and that the actions of a few damage the reputations of many." "What the program teaches is that everyone can and should be part of the solution," the league statement said. The union memo also said the "NFL's presentation doesn't focus on follow-ups and providing continuous resources at the clubs to address potentially violent situations as well as preventing them." The NFL's educational program was shown to the AP on Oct. 7, and it included information from a memo sent to the 32 clubs on Sept. 18 that pointed out local resources available to all team personnel and their families. That document indicated a plan was in place to provide those resources and follow-ups for those who need it. The union memo to the players also said the NFL presentation "doesn't include any psychological information about the type of behavior that could lead to acts of violence or warning signs of negative behavior, but instead seemed to focus almost entirely on what happens after a violent incident has been committed." The league's plan calls for experts who work in the psychological space to offer a research perspective of societal issues, recognizing that these are intimate crimes that impact people in many ways. The program calls for each club to have such experts available to the teams, or what the NFL calls "the entire club family." That can include a clinician, human resource workers, player engagement executives, security personnel and a mental health professional who works with the club. The union added that although the league indicated that the trainers for this educational program will be experts, the NFL did not list any specific names, titles or relevant backgrounds of the people they intend to utilize for the training. Previously, the NFL announced an advisory group that includes authorities in the domestic violence area such as Tony Porter, Beth E. Richie, Rita Smith, Jane Randel and Lisa Friel. Another NFLPA observation was: "Too much reliance was placed on using former players to participate in the training. While some former players possess the right qualifications and experience to train personnel on these issues, the league's inability to articulate who these players are raises concerns that call into question the effectiveness of the training." Many of the player ambassadors, as the NFL calls them, have personal testimonies around these issues and might be helpful, but they would not deliver the education program. The union added: "The league stated that at each presentation, they will distribute information on suggested local (team city/state specific) resources for domestic violence and sexual assault prevention specialists, licensed club mental health clinicians, club human resource directors and Directors of Player Engagement. The NFLPA commission members recommended that a broader net of resources be included, such as faith-based counselors and male-focused community organizations, etc. The NFL did not provide any explanation as to why one resource was chosen over another or how those resources would be specifically integrated into the workplace, if at all." In response to the union memo, the NFL said: "We were pleased to meet with the union and are working to incorporate their suggestions into the presentations to clubs. As we emphasized to the union, this first set of presentations is the start of a process of education that will continue in future years." --- AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fri, 24 Oct 2014 22:28:00 +0000
Ted Bishop out as PGA president

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. (AP) Ted Bishop was ousted Friday as president of the PGA of America over a sexist tweet and Facebook post directed at Ian Poulter. Bishop was irritated by remarks Poulter made in his book on the Ryder Cup captaincy of Nick Faldo in 2008 and Tom Watson this year. He referred to Poulter as "Lil Girl" on Twitter when stacking up Poulter's feats next to Faldo. In a Facebook post, he noted that Watson (with eight majors) and Faldo (with six majors and the Ryder Cup record for most points) were getting "bashed" by Poulter. "Really? Sounds like a little school girl squealing during recess. C'MON MAN!" he wrote. The PGA of America board voted Friday to remove him, meaning Bishop will not be invited to future PGA Championships and Ryder Cups, or any other courtesies extended to past presidents. He is the first PGA president to be ousted. Bishop had one month left on his two-year term. Bishop, who has two daughters, apologized to Poulter and "anyone else I might have offended" in a statement. But the head pro from Indiana went down swinging. Bishop said his fellow PGA officers asked him to resign Friday and he refused, wanting instead to apologize in person to the board and let the process run its course. "The board heard me out and then voted to impeach me," he said. "That is the due process and I respect that, as painful as it might be." In removing Bishop as president, the PGA of America board said the remarks were inconsistent with association's policies. "The PGA of America understands the enormous responsibility it has to lead this great game and to enrich lives in our society through golf," PGA chief executive Pete Bevacqua said in a statement. "We must demand of ourselves that we make golf both welcoming and inclusive to all who want to experience it, and everyone at the PGA of America must lead by example." The PGA of America has 27,000 members, about 1,100 of them women. Bevacqua said in a telephone interview that he received "a lot of negative feedback from all types of sources, internal and external." He declined to specify whether PGA female members were part of that. Bishop was irritated by comments Poulter made in his book released this week about the Ryder Cup captaincy of Faldo in 2008 and Watson this year at Gleneagles. Bishop was with Faldo at The Greenbrier on Thursday when he tweeted to Poulter, "Faldo's record stands by itself. Six majors and all-time RC points. Yours vs. His? Lil Girl." The Facebook post was even stronger. Bishop deleted both Thursday evening and said in an email to The Associated Press that "I could have selected some different way to express my thoughts on Poulter's remarks." Derek Sprague, expected to be voted in as the next president at the Nov. 22 annual meeting, was appointed the interim president. Paul Levy will handle the roles as vice president and secretary until the election. Bishop has been one of the most outspoken presidents of the PGA of America. But his social media rant got him into trouble. "This is a classic example of poor use of social media on my part and if I had the chance to hit the delete button on the things that I sent out yesterday, I would without hesitation," Bishop said. "The PGA of America asked me to avoid any interaction with the media in the past 24 hours and that is why I did not issue a formal and public apology, which I have wanted to do since early this morning." Bishop described the consequences as "drastic," but that he has to live with his mistake. "Today, all I have left is my PGA membership and that will always mean the world to me," Bishop said. He is president of Legends Golf Club in Franklin, Indiana. Suzy Whaley, a teaching pro from Connecticut who qualified to play a PGA Tour event in Hartford in 2003, is among three PGA members running for secretary at the Nov. 22 election. If she wins, Whaley would be in line to be PGA president in 2018. Whaley said she found Bishop's remarks to be "insulting." "I was extremely disappointed and they were definitely sexist," Whaley said in a telephone interview. "I'm of 100 percent belief that we need to empower young girls." Asked if she complained to the PGA officers, Whaley said, "I didn't have to do that." "The PGA of America took incredibly swift action and are taking this extremely seriously," Whaley said. "Obviously, it's critical that we are inclusive." Poulter was on a plane to China when Bishop posted his remarks and wasn't aware of them until he landed and found his phone filled with messages. "Is being called a `lil girl' meant to be derogatory or a put down?" Poulter said in a statement. "That's pretty shocking and disappointing, especially coming from the leader of the PGA of America." Bishop's boldest move as president was to pick Watson as the U.S. captain, saying he was tired of the Americans losing. But the move backfired when Watson's heavy-handed style didn't mesh with a younger generation. Watson, 65, was the oldest captain in Ryder Cup history. Poulter in his book said that Watson's decision-making "completely baffles me." He was referring to benching Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley for both sessions Saturday. He also was critical of Faldo for his commentary on Golf Channel during the Ryder Cup that Sergio Garcia was "useless" in 2008. Faldo was captain of the only European team to lose in the last 15 years, and Poulter wrote, "So who's useless? I think Faldo might need to have a little look in the mirror." Davis Love III described Bishop as a friend and a "great supporter of golf" and said he would not remember his presidency for this incident. Among other things, the PGA joined up with the LPGA Tour to help pay for its oldest major. The Women's PGA Championship will be sponsored by KPMG, which will use the week to host a major conference for women executives. "I have said things in my passion for the Ryder Cup that I wish came out differently," Love said. "We all make mistakes on social media."

Sat, 25 Oct 2014 00:44:00 +0000
Bruins lose Chara for 4-6 weeks with knee injury

BOSTON (AP) The Boston Bruins will spend the next four to six weeks trying to fill the hole left by an injury to the tallest player in NHL history. Defenseman Zdeno Chara tore the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee but will not need surgery, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said. The team called up two minor-league defensemen on Friday to replace the 6-foot-9 Slovakian who was the 2009 Norris Trophy winner and plays more minutes than any other Bruins skater. "It's obviously a blow. He's one of the premier defensemen in the league," Chiarelli said. "But I'd rather have it four to six weeks than four to six months." Chara left Thursday night's game against the Islanders in the first period, one shift after a collision with New York forward John Tavares. He did not appear injured at the time, but his teammates knew it was serious when one of the toughest players on the team left the bench. "When he's out, he's out," goalie Tuukka Rask said after Friday's practice. "He's played through a lot of stuff." A third-round pick of the Islanders in 1996, Chara came to Boston as a free agent a decade later after establishing himself as one of the NHL's best players. As the Bruins' No. 1 defensemen, he uses his long reach to stop opposing attacks - usually matched up against the other team's top forward. Chara led the Bruins to the NHL title in 2011 - with Chara, as the team's captain, receiving the Stanley Cup - and back to the finals two years later. Last season, the team won the Presidents' Trophy for the most regular-season points before losing in the second round to the Montreal Canadiens. "He's just such a dominant player," fellow defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. "He's a real treat to have on your team. You get spoiled on the ice, and you don't really appreciate it until he's gone." Already without defenseman Kevan Miller, the Bruins lost 3-2 on Thursday night to fall below .500 for the season and into a four-way tie for fifth place in the NHL's Eastern Conference. But coach Claude Julien pointed to the third period of the game, in which the Bruins dominated New York, as proof that the team can manage without Chara. "If we've become that bad of a team because of one player, we weren't that good of a team," he said Friday. "I'd like to think we're better than that." The team recalled defensemen Joe Morrow and Zach Trotman from Providence of the American Hockey League on Friday. Morrow has one goal and one assists in five AHL games this season. Trotman played two games in Boston last season and has one assist with Providence this year. "It will take everyone to fill that void," forward Chris Kelly said. "It's not just the defense that needs to defend. It's five men working together in all three zones."

Fri, 24 Oct 2014 19:35:00 +0000
Konerko, Rollins 1st co-winners of Clemente Award

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Retiring White Sox star Paul Konerko and Philadelphia shortstop Jimmy Rollins were picked Friday as the first co-winners of Major League Baseball's Roberto Clemente Award. The annual honor is given for contributions on and off the field that best represent the sport and is named for the Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer, who died on Dec. 31, 1972, in a plane crash while on a humanitarian mission to assist earthquake victims in Nicaragua. "Their commitment to making a difference in the lives of children is a wonderful reflection of the legacy the legendary Roberto Clemente has left on our game and in society," baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said. Konerko founded the "Bring Me Home Campaign," which also includes a pair of former teammates in retired great Jim Thome and the Los Angeles Angels' Gordon Beckham. The campaign says it has raised nearly $450,000 to assist foster children in Illinois. A six-time All-Star, Konerko hit .279 with 439 homers and 1,412 RBIs in 18 major league seasons. "It's really cool that winning it with Jimmy," Konerko said. "I didn't play a whole bunch against with him being in the National League, but our careers are kind of the same arc, same timeline." Rollins, a three-time All-Star, developed JRoll's Aces in 2007 through The Rollins Family Foundation to provide tickets to children in disadvantaged areas who excel in academics. He also is involved in the reading program J-Roll's Readers and has raised more than $1 million for youth medical research, abuse prevention and food programs. Rollins' charitable work with arthritis began after his own elbow pain. "I was working out and it was like, man, this just hurts for no reason, just to bend an elbow it hurts. And I thought what would it be like to be a kid or to be a young adolescent and to have this, not because of work, but because it's a condition," Rollins said. "We put together some events, met up with the Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis Foundation and they had a camp. "I did that for a number of years, and then Prevent Child Abuse Pennsylvania for two years before ultimately last year making a transition to something I can have or we can have a more direct effect with the community and the area. Something that was larger than what we had been previously doing. I like to eat, personally. I like good food, and I tell my mom, `Don't hold back the good food. I don't care what it costs, let's go get it."' Konerko's wife, Jennifer, has six siblings who were adopted. "I think most people get into charitable work a lot of times with what they've experienced close to them or what they've seen," he said. "It was kind of a no-brainer." This was the first tie for the award, which began in 1971. It was voted on by a group that included Clemente's widow and baseball executives, broadcasters, writers and sponsors.

Sat, 25 Oct 2014 01:24:00 +0000
Steve Nash ruled out for season with back injury

LOS ANGELES (AP) Steve Nash hoped for one more chance to show off his playmaking skills after fighting injuries and time for two miserable years with the Los Angeles Lakers. Instead, Nash couldn't even make it to opening night in the 19th season of his remarkable career. Nash will miss the entire season because of a back injury, the Lakers announced Thursday, putting the two-time NBA MVP point guard's career in doubt. The Lakers and the 40-year-old Nash announced their joint decision less than a week before the start of the regular season. He played in only 15 games last season with nerve root irritation, but hoped for a comeback season after several months of rehabilitation. The Canadian star played in just three preseason games, feeling more back pain in the second outing. He then strained his back while carrying travel bags several days ago. "Being on the court this season has been my top priority, and it is disappointing to not be able to do that right now," Nash said. "I work very hard to stay healthy, and unfortunately my recent setback makes performing at full capacity difficult. I will continue to support my team during this period of rest, and will focus on my long-term health." Nash will "focus on rest and rehabilitation," according to the team's news release. He is in the final season of his three-year contract with the Lakers, but the club's announcement made no mention of possible retirement. Nash has played in only 65 games since the Lakers traded four draft picks for him in 2012 in a spectacularly failed attempt to assemble a title contender built around Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Nash. Bryant, who missed all but six games last season with two major injuries, has played in the same backcourt with Nash for just 48 games. "As disappointed as we are for ourselves and our fans, we're even more disappointed for Steve," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said. "We know how hard he's worked the last two years to try to get his body right for the rigors of the NBA, and how badly he wants to play, but unfortunately he simply hasn't been able to get there up to this point in time. Steve has been a consummate professional, and we greatly appreciate his efforts." Nash, the NBA's oldest active player, is due more than $9 million this season. His salary counts toward the Lakers' cap. If Nash's career ends with his latest injury, it likely won't dull the impact of the greatest player in Canadian history and one of the most complete offensive guards of his generation. He is third on the NBA's career assists list, trailing only John Stockton and Jason Kidd. Nash also is the most accurate free-throw shooter in NBA history, barely edging Mark Price's career mark at 90.4 percent. During training camp, Nash said he realized the upcoming season likely would be his last. Yet he refused to call it a farewell tour, holding out hope of playing beyond this season if his back held up under the pounding of a full NBA schedule. "Sorry to hear the news my man," injured Lakers teammate Nick Young tweeted at Nash. The British Columbia product starred at Santa Clara before starting his NBA career with the Phoenix Suns, who traded him to Dallas in 1998. He established himself as an elite point guard while playing alongside Dirk Nowitzki and Michael Finley with the Mavericks, but returned to Phoenix in 2004 for a lucrative free-agent deal. Nash won two unlikely MVP awards in 2005 and 2006 as the catalyst for one of the most prolific offenses in NBA history under coach Mike D'Antoni. His playmaking and scoring abilities earned him worldwide recognition and eight All-Star game selections, including his final season with Phoenix in 2011-12. Nash agreed to join the Lakers for the chance to play for a title living relatively near to his ex-wife and three children. Despite several health struggles late in his career with the Suns, Los Angeles gave him a three-year deal and mortgaged its future by shipping out draft choices. But Nash's tenure in Hollywood has been mostly miserable from his second game, when he broke a bone in his left leg and missed the next 24 games. He also struggled with injuries to his hamstrings and back before last season, when he played in just nine of the Lakers' final 74 games due to recurrent pain in his back and legs. The Lakers had hoped Nash would be their starting point guard this season, but the club also acquired Jeremy Lin and signed veteran free-agent Ronnie Price. Los Angeles, which missed the playoffs last season for just the third time in 38 years, has been projected for a rough season even with a healthy Nash.

Fri, 24 Oct 2014 04:46:00 +0000
AP source: Goodell told to testify in Rice appeal

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been told to testify in Ray Rice's appeal of his indefinite suspension, a person familiar with the case told The Associated Press on Wednesday night. Former U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones, the neutral arbiter selected to hear the appeal, informed the parties of her decision Wednesday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the appeal have not been made public. It was uncertain whether Goodell will actually testify. He said this month he would leave the decision to Judge Jones. "We will continue to respect Judge Jones' confidentiality order regarding this proceeding," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an email. NFL lawyers have argued that Goodell shouldn't have to testify, and instead were offering testimony from Jeff Pash, the NFL's general counsel, and Adolpho Birch, the NFL's vice president for labor policy. Pash and Birch were with Goodell when he met with Rice's side in June to talk about what happened when the former Pro Bowl running back hit his then-fiancee in an elevator. Rice described details of the incident at that meeting. Goodell has called Rice's description "ambiguous" while Rice's side has maintained he gave exact details. The hearing will be held Nov. 5 and 6, two people familiar with the case told the AP on Tuesday. Rice was suspended indefinitely Sept. 8 for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy after a video of the former Pro Bowl running back hitting the woman was released publicly. Goodell originally had suspended the running back for two games. Once the video became public, the Baltimore Ravens cut Rice, and the league banned him indefinitely. The league considered the video to be new evidence, giving Goodell the authority to further suspend Rice. The players' union appealed Rice's suspension, saying he should not be punished twice. Jones was jointly picked by the commissioner and the players' union to hear the appeal. The union said at the time that Goodell's testimony as a witness would be crucial in the proceedings. --- AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL --- Rob Maaddi can be reached on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ap-robmaaddi

Thu, 23 Oct 2014 08:38:00 +0000