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Judge rules against Sterling, OKs $2B sale of Clips
LOS ANGELES (AP) A judge has ruled against Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and cleared the way for the $2 billion sale of the team to ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Judge Michael Levanas sided Monday with Sterling's estranged wife in the case that arose after the 80-year-old billionaire was banned by the NBA for making offensive remarks about blacks. Shelly Sterling sought the court's approval for the deal she negotiated after taking control of a family trust and removing her husband as a trustee after two doctors found he had Alzheimer's disease and couldn't manage his affairs. Donald Sterling claimed his wife deceived him about the medical exams. Sterling has vowed to fight the NBA until his death and is expected to continue to wage court battles to stop the sale. Mon, 28 Jul 2014 22:02:48 +0000
Star-studded 2014 Hall of Fame class inducted in Cooperstown
Cooperstown got a little tougher and a lot louder Sunday afternoon as managers Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame alongside Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas. It was a banner class for the Hall only a year after no living candidate earned enough votes for induction. La Russa enters the Hall as the third-winningest manager of all time. He was picked as manager of the year four times and won 12 division titles, six pennants and World Series titles in 1989, 2006, and 2011. More coverage: Six new plaques | Watch: Thomas' emotional speech | Why new rules? Signed by the Kansas City Athletics in 1962, La Russa's six-year major league career as an infielder was forgettable. But after earning a law degree at Florida State University and giving managing a try in the minor leagues, he found his niche, was elevated to manage the Chicago White Sox in 1979, and his managing career took off. He won two championships with St. Louis and one with Oakland. By the time he retired, La Russa was third all-time in victories as a manager with 2,728, behind only Connie Mack and John McGraw and 224 wins more than his National League rival in Atlanta. The feisty Cox, who also spent four years in Toronto, was a four-time Manager of the Year, three in the NL and one in the AL, and holds the major league record with 159 ejections. During his time in Atlanta, the Braves won an unprecedented 14 straight division titles and earned 15 playoff appearances. Of course, it helped to have arms like Glavine and Maddux on the mound two out of every five days. The pair of aces combined to win 438 games in Atlanta. Glavine won 305 games and two Cy Young Awards, and posted five seasons with 20 or more victories. Only three left-handers have more wins -- Warren Spahn, Steve Carlton and Eddie Plank. Glavine was on the mound when the Braves won Game 6 to clinch the 1995 World Series and give the city of Atlanta its lone major sports title. A teammate on that 95 team, Maddux also had stints with the Cubs, Padres and Dodgers over a 23-year major league career. Nicknamed "Mad Dog," he won 355 games and four straight Cy Young Awards, leading the NL in innings each season. Known for his pinpoint control, Maddux walked just 999 in 5,008 1/3 innings and ranks 10th in strikeouts with 3,371. He also was a sharp fielder, capturing 18 Gold Gloves, and was an All-Star eight times. While Glavine and Maddux used their smarts and skill to terrorize opposing batters, the massively-built Thomas was simply terrifying. Posnanski on 2014: Maddux the magician | Brain powers Glavine | Thomas had patience Nicknamed "The Big Hurt" for his bat prowess, Thomas won AL MVP awards in 1993 and 1994 and finished his 19-year career with a .301 batting average, 521 homers and 1,704 RBIs. He's also the only player in major league history with seven straight seasons with a .300 average, 20 homers, 100 RBIs and 100 walks, and the first Hall of Famer who spent the majority of his career as a designated hitter. Thomas played 16 years for the White Sox and established himself as the best hitter in franchise history. He holds the team record for homers (448), doubles (447), RBIs (1,465), runs (1,327), extra-base hits (906), walks (1,466), total bases (3,949), slugging percentage (.568) and on-base percentage (.427). A fantastic player in his own right, Torre became something special in New York. Despite mediocre stints managing the New York Mets, Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals (five winning seasons in 15 years), Torre was hired by the Yankees prior to the 1996 season. In 12 years with Torre at the helm, the Yankees won 10 division titles, six AL pennants, and four World Series. Torre also won National League MVP honors in 1971 with a signature season that included 230 hits and a .363 average, 97 runs, and 137 RBIs for the St. Louis Cardinals. Heis the only man to amass more than 2,000 hits (2,342) as a player and win more than 2,000 games (2,326) as a manager, according to STATS. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report. Sun, 27 Jul 2014 20:15:38 +0000
Vincenzo Nibali wins 2014 Tour de France
Vincenzo Nibali won the Tour de France on Sunday, becoming the first Italian in 16 years to triumph in cycling's greatest race by chiseling a lead over his main rivals a few seconds at a time and dominating them in the mountains. The 29-year-old Sicilian, who called himself "a flag-bearer of anti-doping" during the race, finished in the pack behind Marcel Kittel, who won the 21st stage in a sprint finish. PHOTOS: Crashes of the 2014 Tour de France Nibali's victory comes after the pre-race favorites -- 2013 champion Chris Froome and two-time winner Alberto Contador -- crashed out with injuries in the first half of this year's Tour. Astana team leader Nibali is only the sixth rider to win all three Grand Tours -- France, Italy and Spain. The last Italian to win the Tour de France was Marco Pantani in 1998. After cruising after Kittel, a German who got his fourth stage win, Nibali got pats on the back, kissed his wife and infant daughter, and was mobbed by cameras as race organizers hustled him away to prepare for the final awards ceremony. "Unbelievable," said Kittel, whose victories bookended this Tour. He won Stage 1 when British rival Mark Cavendish crashed out in the final sprint.

TDF Live 2014: Watch every Tour stage live | Full stage replays
Highlights | Standings | Stages | Teams | TV schedule
NBC Sports Fantasy Cycling Challenge Nibali also won four stages, a feat not equaled by a Tour winner since Lance Armstrong won five a decade ago. He wore the yellow jersey for all but two stages since Stage 1. His 7 minute, 52 second margin over runner-up Jean-Christophe Peraud is the largest since Jan Ullrich of Germany beat second-placed Richard Virenque by just over 9 minutes in 1997. In one of the subplots of this race, Peraud and third-placed Thibaut Pinot became the first Frenchmen to reach the Tour podium since Virenque in that same year. But such comparisons, many cycling insiders have noted, miss the mark. Armstrong, Ullrich and Virenque were three of the big-name riders caught in nearly a generation of doping scandals in cycling. Armstrong, in the biggest scandal ever in the sport, admitted to doping and was stripped of his record seven Tour titles. PHOTOS: Crazy fans of the 2014 Tour de France Nibali and many others in the peloton say that era is past. But his own victories in the 2010 Vuelta and the Italian Giro last year were tarnished by high-profile doping cases involving other riders. While cycling's governing body, the UCI, has made great efforts to halt use of drugs and other performance-enhancers, such as through the biological passport program, few cycling observers believe the pack is fully clean. Many naysayers may argue that Nibali was the best of the riders still in this Tour. Colombia's Nairo Quintana, who won the Giro d'Italia in May, did not ride. Bradley Wiggins, the 2012 Tour champ, was passed over so his Sky Team could focus on Froome. Then Froome and Contador pulled out due to injuries. But even before they left, Nibali had gained a 2-second advantage on them by winning Stage 2, surprising even himself. Then, in Stage 5 after Froome crashed out, the Italian excelled on cobblestone patches that slowed down Contador, who lost more than 2 minutes to Nibali. The Spaniard was forced into a need to attack. PHOTOS: Scenic shots from the 2014 Tour de France On a downhill in Stage 10, Contador crashed and fractured his tibia. But Nibali, who is known as "The Shark of the Strait" -- a nod to the waterway near his hometown of Messina, Sicily -- didn't stop there. He went on to win that stage into La Planche des Belles Filles. It was the first of three stages with uphill finishes that he won, adding one in the Alps (Chamrousse) and another in the Pyrenees (Hautacam). Nibali said this Tour layout, announced last fall, "was almost made to measure for me." The 101st edition began in Yorkshire, England, and guided riders over 3,664 kilometers (2,277 miles) including cobblestones, wind-swept flats and climbs in the Vosges, Alps and Pyrenees. PHOTOS: Tour de France rest day shenanigans With the Arc de Triomphe in Paris as the backdrop, other riders getting TV time on the winner's podium included Peter Sagan of Slovakia, winner of the green jersey given to the race's best sprinter; Rafal Majka of Poland, the best climber; and Pinot, the best young rider born since the start of 1989. Sun, 27 Jul 2014 16:03:37 +0000

LeBron deep-sixes number; will be No. 23 with Cavs
LeBron James will go back to wearing jersey No. 23 in his return to Cleveland. James tweeted "23 it is! It's only right I go back. 23(equals)6 We still family 6." The tweet included an Instagram post with photos of James holding his No. 23 Cavaliers jersey on draft night, him later in a new version of the Cavs' jersey and a one of him in his high school jersey. James wore No. 6 in four seasons with Miami and with the U.S. Olympic team. He used No. 23 in high school and during seven seasons in Cleveland. About 10 days ago, James turned to social media to help him choose which number he'll wear next season with the Cavaliers. James wrote "6 or 23...." on his Twitter account. Sun, 27 Jul 2014 17:44:00 +0000
It's 'Jeff Gordon Day' at IMS for record 5th time
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) With a fifth Brickyard 400 victory on the line, Jeff Gordon looked like the driver he was 20 years ago. Gordon nailed the final restart of the race to pass Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne with 17 laps remaining in Sunday's race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was no given because restarts have been Gordon's Achilles heel for several years. But he slid past Kahne and easily pulled away for a NASCAR-record five wins at historic Indy. This victory comes on the 20th anniversary of Gordon's win in the inaugural Brickyard 400, and on "Jeff Gordon Day" as declared by the Mayor of Indianapolis. The win moves Gordon into a tie with Michael Schumacher, whose five Formula One victories at Indy had been the gold standard. Sun, 27 Jul 2014 20:06:00 +0000
Byron Scott says he will be LA Lakers' new coach
LOS ANGELES (AP) The Los Angeles Lakers have waited nearly three months to hire a new coach, and they're apparently making Byron Scott wait a few more days. Scott said this weekend that he has been hired by the Lakers, but the club insisted Sunday that no deal has been reached. Scott, who won three NBA titles as a shooting guard for the Lakers, told KCBS-TV he will take over the club, which hasn't had a coach since Mike D'Antoni resigned April 30. "It feels fantastic," he told KCBS. "This is a dream come true. I always wanted to coach the Lakers, especially when I got to coaching. It's so unreal. I have to thank (general manager) Mitch (Kupchak), (owners) Jeanie and Jim Buss to give me this opportunity." Yet Kupchak and the Buss siblings remained mum Sunday, extending their strange coach-less summer to the final days of July. ESPN.com first reported Scott would take over the Lakers with a four-year, $17 million contract. Scott is undoubtedly qualified for the job after stints as a head coach with New Jersey, New Orleans and Cleveland. He was Kobe Bryant's teammate during Bryant's rookie year with the Lakers in 1996-97, and the superstar endorsed Scott for the job earlier this month. "He was my rookie mentor when I first came in the league, so I had to do things like get him doughnuts and run errands for him, things like that," said Bryant, who played just six games last season. "We've had a tremendously close relationship throughout the years." Scott also spent last season as a television commentator on the Lakers' own network, watching the franchise's implosion up close. Los Angeles finished 27-55 last season, compiling the most losses in the 16-time NBA champions' history. The Lakers had their worst winning percentage since the Minneapolis Lakers' 1957-58 season, missing the playoffs for just the third time in 38 seasons as the NBA's most glamorous franchise was reduced to ineptitude. Scott will be the Lakers' fifth head coach in just over three years, starting with Phil Jackson's departure after the 2010-11 season. D'Antoni, who replaced Mike Brown and interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff, resigned after going 67-87 in less than two seasons in charge. Scott has been a head coach for parts of 13 NBA seasons, going 416-521 with the Nets, Hornets and Cavaliers. He led New Jersey to back-to-back Eastern Conference championships in 2002 and 2003, losing the NBA finals each time. Scott has won three division titles and was the NBA's coach of the year in 2008, but he also has been fired from each of his three jobs. Several candidates for the coaching job interviewed with the Lakers over the past three months, including Lionel Hollins and George Karl. Scott has been widely considered the front-runner for the job for several weeks, but Kupchak and Jim Buss appeared to be more focused on the NBA draft and free agency. Los Angeles landed Kentucky power forward Julius Randle with the seventh overall pick in the draft, but struck out on every big-name free agent despite aggressively courting Carmelo Anthony and entertaining dreams of landing LeBron James. The Lakers couldn't even retain Pau Gasol, who spent the past seven seasons with the club. The 7-foot Spaniard, who was regularly booed by Staples Center fans last season despite his two championship rings, spurned the Lakers' overtures for a deal with the Chicago Bulls, who are much closer to NBA title contention. Scott likely realizes could be inheriting a caretaker job with the Lakers, who are likely to struggle just for playoff contention for the next two seasons while Bryant's two-year, $48.5 million contract eats up a huge chunk of their salary-cap space. The Lakers emerged from the last few weeks with a reconfigured roster that now includes point guard Jeremy Lin, power forward Carlos Boozer and center Ed Davis alongside returnees Nick Young, Jordan Hill and Xavier Henry. Los Angeles also still has 40-year-old Steve Nash, who is likely to get the chance to play another season after injuries limited him to 15 games last year. The job is a homecoming for Scott, who grew up in Inglewood, California, in the shadow of the Lakers' Forum. He joined the Lakers as a rookie in 1983 after the club acquired the fourth overall pick from the San Diego Clippers in a trade for Norm Nixon. A smooth shooting guard with a reliable 3-point touch, Scott was half of the Showtime Lakers' championship-winning backcourt alongside Magic Johnson, who relentlessly criticized D'Antoni in public and on Twitter over the past two years. Mon, 28 Jul 2014 00:31:00 +0000
Kevin Love withdraws from Team USA
Kevin Love still doesn't know where he will play next season, his NBA future hanging in the air while a seldom-used league rule complicates a potential trade to Cleveland. The only thing certain from a basketball standpoint for Love is that he won't be playing for Team USA this summer. Love had to withdraw from Team USA's roster while the Minnesota Timberwolves field offers for their three-time All-Star, a process that was extended when Cavaliers rookie Andrew Wiggins signed his contract this week. Love is the latest All-Star to pull out of Team USA, which begins its training camp in Las Vegas next week to prepare for the FIBA World Cup in Spain. In recent weeks the Americans have lost Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge and NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. They have 18 players remaining and will choose 12 for the World Cup of Basketball roster. Love, who won gold medals at the 2012 Olympics and 2010 world championship and was one of the first players to commit to play this summer, told USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo that he would be unavailable for training camp that starts Monday. "He wants to play but it's a little bit of a sign of the times when you look at the league in terms of contracts, rumored trades," Colangelo said. "All of those circumstances put players in a funny position." The Cavaliers have been in pursuit of Love since before the draft. Their chances of landing Love, who can opt out of his contract next summer and has told the Timberwolves he wants to play for a contender, increased exponentially when LeBron James chose to return to play in Cleveland. The Timberwolves have demanded Wiggins, the No. 1 overall draft pick, in a package in return for Love and the Cavaliers have gradually softened on their position to include the dynamic 19-year-old wing player in trade talks. Under NBA rules, Wiggins cannot be traded until 30 days after he signed his contract with the Cavaliers. That means any possible deal could not be completed and announced by the teams until Aug. 23 at the earliest. That length of time allows other teams to make offers for Love as well, but also makes it too risky for Love to participate with Team USA. An injury could derail any trade possibilities, so Love had to take the difficult step of informing Colangelo on Friday night that he would not be able to participate. It had to be a tough call for Love to make. He has long held playing for Team USA as one of the highest honors possible and has referred to his experience of winning gold in London as the pinnacle of his young career. While other big stars like James were stepping away from the team to get some rest this summer, Love took pride last year in joining with Kevin Durant to be among the first elite players to recommit to the World Cup team. "I think he truly is remorseful," Colangelo said. Love was a vital piece to the London team, giving the Americans a rebounding presence and a much-needed big man to stretch the floor. But Colangelo said the team would be able to get by without him, pointing to an experienced roster and rising star Anthony Davis, who was on the Olympic team but played only sparingly. "It's not like there's a barrel full of power forwards that can rebound and shoot the ball like Kevin Love," Colangelo said. But in international competition, where teams generally play smaller than they do in the NBA, players such as Indiana's Paul George and Dallas Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons could help fill the void. DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Drummond and Kenneth Faried are the other big men on the roster that could give the Americans a presence in the paint. "Someone is going to have an opportunity to step up," Colangelo said. "We're kind of anxious to get started to look at this." --- AP Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney contributed to this report. Sun, 27 Jul 2014 01:31:00 +0000
Pack signs Nelson to extension after 1st practice
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Jordy Nelson had a secret on the way to the first practice of Packers training camp. It didn't take long for the rest of his teammates to find out. Green Bay's leading receiver now has a deal commensurate with his production after signing a contract extension just before taking the field Saturday morning. "So I was like the last one in the locker room and waiting on the paperwork to come down to get it done. That way, I had some security when I went out to practice," Nelson said. "That was a little bit different, and knowing no one knew (but) me the whole time I'm riding down there and on the field." Soon enough, Nelson told fellow receivers and the quarterbacks. Coach Mike McCarthy found out in the middle of practice. Right about the time that Nelson was making a pretty touchdown catch on a long corner pass from Aaron Rodgers, word filtered out on social media. The Packers didn't divulge terms when announcing the signing after the end of practice, and NFL.com reported it was a four-year, $39 million deal with an $11.5 million signing bonus. "He said he re-signed and he was really happy," Rodgers said. "Now he can buy all the land in Kansas. I'm very happy." Nelson, a Kansas native who attended Kansas State, posted career-bests of 85 catches and 1,314 yards last season. The 2008 second-round pick has developed into one of the top receivers in the league with his ability to make sideline catches. Rodgers thinks Nelson has top-notch instincts and reactions. "So it's fun to see Jordy re-sign for four more. I told him that that's five (years) for him and I've got six left, so we're going to have to do one more after that and stick around a little bit longer," Rodgers said. The signing secures the team's top player at a position that had several high-profile departures in recent years. Reliable veteran James Jones left for Oakland in free agency in the offseason. After the 2012 season, Donald Driver retired and Greg Jennings departed as a free agent for division rival Minnesota. Now the Packers must also decide how to proceed with receiver Randall Cobb, a 2011 second-round pick going into the final year of his rookie deal. "Well, every coach wants his core guys, no doubt about it," McCarthy said. "Like I said before, if I was in charge of the player checkbook, we would have been way over the budget a long time ago." Nelson's extension overshadowed what likely would have been the top story line of Day 1 with the return of pass-rushing linebacker Clay Matthews. He watched during offseason workouts while recovering from a second surgery in the offseason to repair a broken right thumb. Practice Saturday had the Packers lining up Matthews and defensive end-linebacker Julius Peppers - the team's big free-agent acquisition - on the field at the same time. It's the ideal pass-rushing scenario for the team going into 2014. Matthews had what looked like a flexible black wrap protecting his right hand. There were no limitations with the linebacker, other than "just being smart," McCarthy said. The recovery process appeared to be a little frustrating for the long-haired linebacker. The thumb "feels pretty strong and will continue to get stronger with the reps I take on the football field," Matthews said. "This offseason was definitely an uphill battle coming off an injury, but I think that just makes this year that much more special to me." It will likely be memorable one as well for Nelson because of the extension. Lauded for his leadership qualities, Nelson seems content to finish his career in Green Bay. Nelson realizes this is a business. He also said he never considered holding out. "I don't like the word `worth,"' Nelson said, interrupting a reporter who used it in a question. "I don't like the word `worth' because to be honest with you, I don't think any of us are worth this money. But it's your value and the business we're a part of." Note: LBs Mike Neal (abdomen) and Nick Perry (foot/knee) were close to being ready for practice, McCarthy said. The linebackers, who should rotate with Matthews and Peppers as pass rushers, had similar injuries last year. --- AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL --- Follow Genaro Armas at http://twitter.com/GArmasAP Sat, 26 Jul 2014 19:57:00 +0000
Giants acquire righty Jake Peavy from Red Sox
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) The San Francisco Giants boosted their rotation for the stretch run by acquiring right-hander Jake Peavy from the Boston Red Sox on Saturday for a pair of minor league pitchers. The 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner will start Sunday night's series finale against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Giants held a half-game division lead in the NL West against their rival going into Saturday night's middle game at AT&T Park. The Giants have plenty of familiarity with Peavy, who pitched for manager Bruce Bochy with the San Diego Padres in the playoffs in 2005-06. "It's great to be reunited with Jake," Bochy said by text message. "Look forward to working with him again." San Francisco missed the playoffs in 2013 after winning the World Series in 2010 and '12, and the club is committed to making another special October run. The 33-year-old Peavy pitched one of his best games last Aug. 25 at Dodger Stadium. He tossed a three-hitter with five strikeouts and one walk in an 8-1 Red Sox victory. San Francisco received cash from Boston and is sending right-hander Heath Hembree and lefty Edwin Escobar to the World Series champion Red Sox in the swap. Both players were optioned by the Red Sox to Triple-A Pawtucket. "It provides Jake an opportunity to step right into a more ready pennant race out in the west," Boston manager John Farrell said. "And we get two pitchers back we like." Peavy (1-9, 4.72 ERA) has been hurt by poor run support this season, receiving two runs or fewer of support in each of his past eight starts. He is in the final season of a $29 million, two-year contract. "Going to miss him," Boston's Mike Napoli said. "A great competitor. A great teammate. His record doesn't really show the kind of pitcher he is." Peavy is earning $14.5 million this season, with the Red Sox paying more than $3 million of his remaining salary for the year - $5.15 million. Six weeks on the disabled list last year with a rib injury cost him a chance to have a conditional $15 million option for 2015 if he had reached 400 innings over 2013-14. He is at 268 2-3 heading into Sunday's outing. Yusmeiro Petit had been scheduled to pitch Sunday for the Giants with right-hander Matt Cain on the disabled list. "The impetus to execute the trade was accelerated by the news we got about Matt Cain yesterday becoming more and more tenuous," Giants general manager Brian Sabean said. "The longer he stays in this dormant stage, the more we're going to seek a second opinion." The Giants made the deal without having to give up their top pitching prospect, Kyle Crick. It's been a busy week for Sabean and assistant GM Bobby Evans. On Friday, they promoted second baseman Dan Uggla from Triple-A Fresno only four days after they signed him to a minor league contract Monday. Uggla was released by Atlanta on July 18. Escobar went 3-8 with a 5.11 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 20 games for Triple-A Fresno, while Hembree went 1-3 with a 3.89 ERA and 18 saves with 46 strikeouts in 41 appearances for Fresno this year. --- Freelance writers Mark Didtler in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Rick Eymer contributed to this report. Sun, 27 Jul 2014 00:36:00 +0000
Tulowitzki's name bungled in giveaway gaffe
DENVER (AP) Troy Tulowitzki has a tough name to spell, even at his own ballpark. The Colorado Rockies handed out 15,000 jerseys with the All-Star shortstop's name misspelled in a giveaway gaffe Saturday night at Coors Field. The second "t" was missing, so the backs read "Tulowizki." "Is there something wrong with it?" fan Jordan Deuschleman asked. "I didn't notice with the name being so long." The club issued a statement apologizing for the mistake. The team said it was aware of the misspelling, but decided to hand out the jerseys before the game against Pittsburgh. "Acknowledging that many fans came to the game for the jersey, rather than disappoint them, we decided to go ahead and hand them out," the Rockies said. Some fans didn't bother with the game, usher Leon Thomas said. "Many of the fans got here early. Took the shirt and left. They recognized it was a collector's item," he said. "There were only so many handed out. They were gone fast." The Rockies said fans can exchange them for corrected jerseys at a September date to be announced. Tulowitzki leads the majors in hitting at .340. He is currently on the disabled list. Sun, 27 Jul 2014 01:30:00 +0000
Baseball HOF cuts election eligibility to 10 years
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (AP) Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire will have less time to remain eligible for the Hall of Fame ballot under changes made Saturday. The Hall of Fame's board cut a player's eligibility from 15 years to 10, which gives McGwire a maximum of two more appearances on the writers' ballot. Bonds, Clemens and Sosa, shunned so far along with other Steroids Era stars, can be considered up to eight more times each by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, dropped from 37.6 percent to 35.4 last year in his second ballot appearance, well short of the 75 percent needed for election. Bonds, a seven-time MVP and baseball's career home runs leader, fell from 36.2 percent to 34.7. McGwire dropped from 16.9 percent to 11, down from a peak of 25.6 in 2008. Sosa, who hit 609 homers, dropped from 12.5 percent to 7.2 - close to falling below the 5 percent threshold for remaining on the ballot. Three players with 11-15 years will remain eligible: Don Mattingly (15th year in 2015), Alan Trammell (14th) and Lee Smith (13th). This is just the second change in voting rules since 1985, when the 5 percent threshold for remaining on the ballot was instituted. In 1991, players on baseball's permanent ineligible list were barred from the ballot, a move that prevented career hits leader Pete Rose from being considered. Rose agreed to a lifetime ban in 1989 after an investigation by Major League Baseball concluded he bet on the Cincinnati Reds to win while managing the team. Members of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years at any point are eligible to vote. Under another change announced Saturday, eligible voters will be required to complete a registration form and sign a code of conduct, and their names will be made public, but not their individual votes. Dan Le Batard, an ESPN host and Miami Herald columnist, was kicked out of the BBWAA for one year and barred from future Hall votes in January after he turned over his 2014 ballot to a website that allowed readers to choose the selections. Sat, 26 Jul 2014 16:14:00 +0000
Manziel has 'fun' on first day of Browns camp
BEREA, Ohio (AP) There were No. 2 jerseys everywhere, ringing the practice fields in various shapes, sizes and colors. On the first day of training camp, Browns fans came out by the thousands, many of them to get their first live look at the popular and polarizing quarterback who electrified college football and who may one day lead Cleveland back to pro football glory. They all came to see Johnny Manziel. Strutting around the field with his usual swagger, Manziel went through his first training camp practice on Saturday, a workout that finally allowed the focus to be on his playing ability after months of his social life making headlines. A day after acknowledging he "made some rookie mistakes" with his off-the-field exploits, Manziel zipped passes and showed some of the elusiveness that earned him his Johnny Football nickname while at Texas A&M. "I have fun playing this game," Manziel said. "I have fun going out on this field playing football. It's what I live for, it's what I love to do." On Friday, Manziel, who will battle Brian Hoyer for Cleveland's starting job, said he wished he had done some things differently during the offseason, when his wild weekends partying in Las Vegas nightclubs brought both he and the Browns some unwanted publicity. Manziel vowed to be all about football now, and his every move will be dissected over the next few weeks as he and Hoyer compete. Browns owner Jimmy Haslam hopes Manziel sticks to his word and changes his behavior. "Johnny said it himself, he made some mistakes," said Haslam. "We expect better from him. I'm sure he'll perform and now we're anxious to see what he can do on the field, which is what really counts." Haslam, whose Pilot Flying J truck-stop company has been at the center of a federal investigation for fraud, rattled off the names of famous athletes like LeBron James, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Derek Jeter as examples of athletes Manziel should try to model himself after. "The really great athletes make their news on the field, not off the field," Haslam said. Hours before the Browns opened the gates of their training complex, fans waited patiently in lines for a chance to get a prime spot to see Manziel. Bracing for huge crowds at camp, the Browns required fans to register online for the first time to reserve a ticket for the practices. At 9:22 a.m., Manziel emerged through the door of Cleveland's locker room and made his way onto the field. As Manziel came into view, fans wearing "Johnny Football T-shirts" and No. 2 jerseys, some of them recycled ones they wore when Tim Couch was Cleveland's starting quarterback, cheered as House of Pain's "Jump Around" blared through loudspeakers. Manziel later said he appreciated the support. "Personally, I've had an incredible fan base that's followed me and really come out of the woodwork here in Cleveland for me," he said. "It's truly incredible. I'm truly thankful to have those guys, but more than anything, it's not just my number, my name on the back. It's Cleveland. It's the Browns. It's awesome to have the fan base that we have for this team, not just me. It's a great turnout today, and I'm sure that won't stop anytime soon." Hoyer had a much smaller following, but there are plenty of Cleveland fans who are pulling for the hometown kid to fend off Manziel. Hoyer opens camp with a sizeable advantage over Manziel, but the 28-year-old knows he can't afford any major slipups or his lead will evaporate. Hoyer put in countless hours rehabbing a surgically repaired right knee to be ready for this season. He knows this could be his last chance at a starting job. "Like I've said all along, playing for this team was my dream as a child, but also being from here doesn't make me the best quarterback for this team," he said. "I want to earn it out on the field." Even Haslam feels some sentimentality toward Hoyer. "Is there a better story?" he said. "He's a hometown kid, he's coming off an injury. We all want him to do well." Hoyer took the first reps with Cleveland's starting offense, and he completed his first pass to wide receiver Austin Miles. Manziel was behind center a few plays later, and after dropping deep in the pocket, his throw toward the sideline sailed long, beyond the outstretched hands of receiver Charles Johnson. The incompletion didn't discourage the Manzielmaniacs, who are confident he can make the Browns winners. "I loved watching him play in college," said Sam Wilson of North Canton, Ohio, who came to camp with his girlfriend, Savannah Meadows. "I think he's kind of a football genius and I think he'll turn it around. I have faith in him." Not everyone was focused on Manziel's throws. "I just think he's really cute," Meadows said. NOTES: Second-year LB Barkevious Mingo made several nice plays, tipping away an early pass by Hoyer. Coach Mike Pettine said Mingo came in heavier this year, but hasn't lost his speed. "I'm very pleased. He got into the playbook and showed up ready to work," Pettine said of the No. 6 overall pick in 2013. ... The Browns placed TEs Gary Barnidge and MarQueis Gray, G John Greco and DT Phil Taylor on non-football injury list after they failed their conditioning tests. Sat, 26 Jul 2014 19:22:00 +0000
Browns' Manziel: "I've made some rookie mistakes"
BEREA, Ohio (AP) Like reading a blitz, Johnny Manziel knew the questions about his off-field wildness were coming. So the Browns quarterback struck first. "At the end of the day," Manziel said, "I've made some rookie mistakes." On the eve of Cleveland's first training camp practice, Manziel offered some regret about his well-chronicled weekend partying over the past two months. But as he prepares to battle Brian Hoyer for a starting job, Manziel said he's in good standing with his bosses. It's time to get to work. From here on, he's Johnny All About Football. "There's some things that I wish I could've gone back and done a little differently," Manziel said. "But I'm continuing to move forward and trying to represent this organization in a positive manner and a positive light, so just very excited to be back in camp and it's football 24/7 and that's what I love doing. That's what I live for and it's what my job, so for me, I'm very excited to be back and can't wait to get this underway." Manziel addressed his fraternity-guy-gone-wild behavior, which included photos of him hanging out poolside in Las Vegas with Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, swigging champagne on an inflatable swan pool raft in a Texas nightclub and a shot of him rolling a dollar bill in a bathroom. Manziel didn't say he'll change completely, but vowed to be focused on football going forward. Manziel opened his news conference by discussing his off-field exploits, saying he has spoken to Browns coach Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer. "For me, my main thing is, people within this building, my teammates, the coaching staff, the higher-ups in this organization we've all been on the same page," he said. "We've all been good and very eager to be moving forward." For weeks, the Browns downplayed Manziel's antics. But as his questionable conduct continued and after the startling photo surfaced of Manziel with the rolled-up bill, Pettine reached out to the 21-year-old while he was on vacation. "I've talked about that with Coach Pettine," Manziel said. "I've talked about it with Farmer and the people I needed to talk about that with. Moving forward, they're good with everything. I've told them everything that I need to, and everything's been good." While acknowledging he could have made better decisions, Manziel also defended his lifestyle. "I don't think there's anything wrong with me going out and having a night life, having a social life," he said. "I mean I am 21 years old and I do like going out and it was the offseason. It's free time for us and if I want to go out and hang out with my friends or go to nightclubs or do things like that then I think that's within my rights to be doing that. "I think there's other guys throughout the league that are doing that and I'm not trying to compare myself to anybody else but I think that's within my rights to be doing that." Manziel doesn't think his busy social calendar will hurt his chances to beat out Hoyer. "I don't believe so," he said. "I think there are definitely things moving forward to help better act as a professional. At the same time, I'm still learning how to do that. I'm still getting used to this role, still getting used to this league, still getting used to being a pro football player. "I'm not in college anymore. There's things I need to do better, and that's just part of being a professional. Hopefully with time and going through this season and as time goes on, I'll get better at doing that." The former Texas A&M star enters his first camp as Cleveland's No. 2 quarterback behind Hoyer, who will get all the reps with Cleveland's starting offense during the first few days of camp. Pettine, who earlier this week said he wants to name his starter "pretty quickly" believes Manziel enters camp well prepared to compete with Hoyer. The continuous controversy surrounding Manziel has somewhat overshadowed Hoyer, who has worked his way back after suffering a season-ending knee injury in his third start last season. The homegrown Hoyer is certain he'll hang on to his starting job and be behind center when the Browns open at Pittsburgh on Sept. 7. "I'm confident I am that guy, but in the same sense I know if it comes down to the fact Johnny does beat me out I will have given everything I can and he will have totally earned it," Hoyer said. "That's what you want. All I ask is the opportunity and a chance to earn the job, and that's what I've been given. For me it's about going out every day and proving I can be that guy I believe I am." --- Online: AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL Sat, 26 Jul 2014 00:40:00 +0000
Marshawn Lynch missing as Seahawks camp begins
RENTON, Wash. (AP) Marshawn Lynch famously said during Super Bowl week that he was "all about that action, boss." His action on Friday was defiance. The Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks opened training camp and Lynch chose to stay away because of his current contract situation. Beast Mode's status: absent and unhappy. "Everybody is calling him, but it's a business at the end of the day," Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett said. "... So all you can do is support him. You want him to be here, but as a player you understand the business side too." Lynch's absence was expected after former teammate Michael Robinson said Thursday night on NFL Network that Lynch would not show for the opening day of camp. Seattle coach Pete Carroll said he was disappointed Lynch was not present, while reiterating the team wants him there and intends on him being an integral part of their plans for this season. But the message was clear that Seattle put a plan in place before Lynch was signed to a four-year contract in 2012 and the Seahawks management is not inclined to stray from those plans. "We've had a substantial plan working for us for years now and Marshawn was a big part of this plan. Just a couple of years back we made a big statement and made a big effort for him and we wish that he was with us now," Carroll said. "But this is a tremendous opportunity for the guys getting their shot. Robert Turbin and Christine Michael they're ready to go and really fired up about this opportunity and are going to try and take full advantage of it." Friday's result was building throughout the offseason with Lynch staying away from organized team activities and rumors that he would skip June's mandatory minicamp in protest of his contract structure. Lynch showed up for the minicamp in June to avoid a hefty fine. But he finally decided to make a stand with the start of training camp. Lynch can make up to $5.5 million this season in base pay and roster bonuses. It's the third year of a four-year contract and he's scheduled to make $5.5 million in base salary in 2015. He now faces fines of $30,000 for each day of camp he misses. Carroll said he's remained in contact with Lynch throughout the offseason. "I'm hoping that he will be back with us," Carroll said. Lynch has been the workhorse for Seattle's offense since his arrival via trade during the 2010 season. Lynch has 1,066 carries for 4,624 yards and 41 touchdowns in the regular season since joining the Seahawks. He brought a physical style that helped define a young team early in Carroll's tenure. "The attitude that he brought these past few years has been significant. When we were trying to make a mark that we were a physical, tough football team he stood right at the front of that and was a big part of it," Carroll said. "But I think we have accomplished that now and that is our mentality and makeup. We're grateful that he was part of that and would like to get him back into it." In Lynch's place, Turbin and Michael took most of the reps at running back Friday. Turbin is entering his third season, while Michael barely saw the field last year as a rookie as he struggled with the transition between college and the NFL. "We all wish he was here," Michael said. "He's a great leader. We learn a lot from him. He'll be back soon." --- AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL Fri, 25 Jul 2014 22:24:00 +0000
White Sox: Reinsdorf hospitalized in Cooperstown
CHICAGO (AP) The Chicago White Sox say owner Jerry Reinsdorf has been hospitalized after feeling lightheaded in Cooperstown, New York. The team says all tests Friday night indicate he is fine. The 78-year-old Reinsdorf, also chairman of the NBA's Chicago Bulls, is coherent and resting comfortably, according to the club. In a statement released Friday night, the White Sox say Reinsdorf is communicating with his doctors and medical staff. He will stay overnight at Bassett Medical Center as a precaution and is expected to be released Saturday morning. Induction ceremonies for the Baseball Hall of Fame are this weekend in Cooperstown. Sat, 26 Jul 2014 04:37:00 +0000
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