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Angels clinch AL West after Rangers top A's

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) The Los Angeles Angels clinched the AL West title Wednesday night, getting seven dominant innings of one-hit ball from C.J. Wilson in a 5-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners. C.J. Cron hit a three-run homer for the major league-leading Angels (95-57), who wrapped up their first division crown since 2009 when Oakland lost to Texas about an hour after Los Angeles' game ended. The Angels had already secured a playoff spot Monday. They have won 12 of 14. Howie Kendrick sparked the Angels' five-run rally in the seventh by scoring from first base when Chris Denorfia misplayed David Freese's single to right for an error. Los Angeles' surge broke up a pitchers' duel between Wilson and Seattle rookie James Paxton, who traded zeros until the seventh. Wilson (13-9) earned his third straight victory in intimidating fashion, striking out seven and allowing just four baserunners in a major improvement from recent starts. He escaped his only jam in the seventh, stranding two runners. Paxton (6-3) yielded four hits and had eight strikeouts for the Mariners, who have lost six of eight. Seattle managed just one hit and is two games behind Kansas City and Oakland for the second AL wild card. Paxton kept the Mariners in contention until his teammates made two errors and reliever Danny Farquhar flopped in the seventh inning. After Kendrick's one-out single, Denorfia thought about diving to catch Freese's drive, but instead pulled up and allowed it to roll past him to the right-field wall. Austin Jackson then double-clutched the ball while retrieving it, and Kendrick scored easily. Farquhar relieved Paxton with two outs and two runners on, but Cron mashed his 11th homer into the fake rock pile behind center field. Kole Calhoun followed with an RBI double as the Angels batted around. Paxton was even more dominant than Wilson, retiring 17 of the Angels' first 18 hitters. Paxton allowed only two bouncing singles in the first six innings while striking out Mike Trout three times. Trout also struck out to end the seventh, tying Baltimore's Chris Davis for the AL lead with 173 strikeouts. Mariners: LHP Roenis Elias headed back to Seattle for an MRI after feeling stiffness in his elbow. Manager Lloyd McClendon said Elias is probably done for the season. Angels: Josh Hamilton was out of the starting lineup after feeling a bit sore following his return from a shoulder injury Tuesday. The cleanup hitter likely wouldn't have started anyway against a tough left-hander. Two aces meet in the series finale when Seattle RHP Felix Hernandez (14-5, 2.14 ERA) takes on Jered Weaver (17-8, 3.50).

Thu, 18 Sep 2014 06:20:36 +0000
Cardinals' Dwyer arrested on assault charges

PHOENIX (AP) Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer was arrested Wednesday on aggravated assault charges in connection with two altercations at his home in July involving a woman and their 18-month-old child, the latest in a string of such cases involving NFL players. The Cardinals said they became aware of the situation Wednesday and are cooperating with the investigation. "Given the serious nature of these allegations we have taken the immediate step to deactivate Jonathan from all team activities," the team said in a statement. The NFL said the case will be reviewed under the league's personal-conduct policy. One of the counts was "aggravated assault causing a fracture" involving the 27-year-old victim, whom they did not identify. Police said they were carrying out a search warrant of Dwyer's residence in pursuit of more evidence. Police said that in interviews with detectives, the 25-year-old player denied committing any assault. There was no reply to telephone message left for Dwyer's agent, Adisa Bakari, seeking comment Wednesday. Authorities depicted a stormy relationship between Dwyer and the woman that escalated into violence on July 21, four days before the Cardinals reported to training camp. Neighbors heard a fight and called police, who showed up at the residence but left without making an arrest because Dwyer hid in the bathroom and the woman said no one else was at the home, Sgt. Trent Crump said. "She said she was in an argument on the phone only," Crump said. The next day, Crump said, Dwyer snatched the woman's cellphone and threw it from the second floor of their residence to prevent her from calling police about another dispute. Crump confirmed there was an allegation that Dwyer threw a shoe at or toward his son. Crump said he couldn't elaborate on it. Crump said the woman moved out of state with the child, but came forward last week and provided police with information about her injuries and text messages indicating Dwyer "was going to harm himself because of what had been going on." The NFL has been rocked by domestic violence issues ever since a videotape surfaced that showed former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancee in an Atlantic City, New Jersey, elevator. Then Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson was indicted on felony child-abuse charges. On Wednesday, the Carolina Panthers decided that star defensive end Greg Hardy will not play any more games for the team until his domestic violence case is resolved. Hardy was convicted of assault on a female and communicating threats after the victim said the 6-foot-4, 275-pound player threw her in the bathtub and onto a sofa covered with guns before threatening to kill her. Hardy is appealing the ruling. Critics have been calling for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's resignation for his handling of Rice's case. Rice was originally suspended for two games, then banned indefinitely after the video surfaced of his attack in the casino elevator. This is the second domestic violence case involving a Cardinals player. Inside linebacker Daryl Washington pleaded guilty to assaulting his ex-girlfriend and is serving a year of supervised probation. Washington has not yet been penalized by the NFL for the offense but is suspended for this season for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Dwyer was led into the jail in handcuffs to be booked on counts that include aggravated assault causing a fracture and involving a minor, criminal damage and preventing the use of a phone in an emergency. The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, which runs the jail, said Dwyer has refused all media interviews. Dwyer signed with the Cardinals this year and was their second-string running back after spending the last four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He scored a touchdown last week in Arizona's victory over the New York Giants. His best year for Pittsburgh was 2012 when injuries depleted the team's backfield in the middle of the season and Dwyer filled in and had 100-yard-plus games in consecutive weeks. Dwyer, from Marietta, Georgia, was a sixth-round draft pick of the Steelers out of Georgia Tech in 2010.

Thu, 18 Sep 2014 01:51:00 +0000
Panthers remove DE Hardy from active roster

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) The Panthers finally made a decision on Greg Hardy: the Pro Bowl defensive end will not play anymore games for Carolina until his domestic violence case is resolved. The team removed Hardy from its active roster Wednesday, ending three weeks of indecision regarding his playing status. He played Week 1, sat out Week 2 and there was uncertainty about this week. So the Panthers placed Hardy on the exempt-commissioner's permission list just hours after the Vikings took a similar disciplinary approach with Adrian Peterson. The Minnesota running back is addressing child abuse charges in Texas. Hardy was convicted July 15 of assault on a female and communicating threats after the victim said the 6-foot-4, 275-pound player threw her in the bathtub and onto a sofa covered with guns before threatening to kill her. Hardy is appealing the ruling and a jury trial is set for Nov. 17. He will continue to be paid his weekly salary of $770,588.23. Hardy also is allowed to be at the team facility, but will not practice. Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said it was a tough decision given the changing climate in the NFL. "Our overriding goal has always been to do the right thing," Gettleman said. The GM said he expects Hardy to be out at least through November. Hardy said he understands he needs to step away from football and take care of his legal problems. "I am entitled to due process and my day in court, and that's where my focus should be," Hardy said in a statement. "I appreciate the Panthers for giving me this opportunity and look forward to being back with my teammates. I am disappointed to leave my teammates and the Carolina Panthers during our season. My decision to take a leave of absence allows me to focus on my family until the legal process has run its course." Had Hardy not taken a the leave of absence with pay, he likely would have faced an unpaid suspension from the league. The NFL Players Association released a statement Wednesday saying, "Today, Greg Hardy made a decision to take a voluntary leave of absence to resolve his pending legal issue. The NFLPA and NFL worked with Greg, his representatives and the Carolina Panthers on this matter. We support this decision and hope the best for him and his family." Earlier Wednesday, with security around the stadium amped up, Hardy and his agent Drew Rosenhaus emerged from the team's facility, stepped into the player's Bentley and drove away. Earlier, two police officers on motorcycles guarded the entrance to the team's practice facility. Panthers coach Ron Rivera was 20 minutes late arriving to Wednesday's practice and said that Hardy would not participate in workouts as he walked past reporters. The coach later said he had a 90-minute conversation with the defensive end to make sure Hardy was in a good place. "Greg's hurt, he really is," Rivera said. "It's a tough situation and he knows he put himself in it. He was apologetic." Rivera said he expects Hardy to take a few days away and return to the team "in due time." "He's still a part of this football team," Rivera said. Hardy, who was tagged as the team's franchise player this offseason and signed a one-year, $13.1 million deal, is Carolina's top pass rusher. He tied a franchise record with 15 sacks last season and has 26 in in his last 32 games. Rivera activated Hardy for the season opener against Tampa Bay, but then abruptly deactivated him before Sunday's game against Detroit - a move Gettleman supported. "At that time we felt it was at the right thing to do," Gettleman said. "It's constantly changing. There is no rule book for this. There's no magic list we can hit checkboxes that bring us to the right answer." Rivera said he informed the team at a meeting Wednesday afternoon. Veteran safety Roman Harper said Wednesday during open locker room that every team has to battle adversity at some point, but said losing Hardy will hurt. Harper said unbeaten Panthers will miss Hardy's pass rush skills and energy. "You take a player of his caliber off the field and it is going to affect us," Harper said. "But at the end of the day you can't use that as an excuses or a crutch. You have to fly around and make plays as a defense. We understand what we will be missing, but at the end of the day we still have a job to do." Tight end Greg Olsen said the Panthers are doing their best to focus on the Steelers. "You learn very fast in this league that there are going to be a lot of outside factors," Olsen said. "You have to do the best you can not to let those things impact your preparations and really focus on what you can control. The most successful teams just worry about the here and now and what they can control." Rivera said he believes the team handled the situation in the best way possible. "The biggest thing we have to do is get this right," Rivera said. "In all honesty we're worried about the wrong types of things. We're trying to figure out who we need to blame. We don't need to blame people, we need to find answers and corrections and make things right... We have to come up with solutions to make sure this doesn't happen again."

Wed, 17 Sep 2014 22:55:00 +0000
FSU benches Winston for 1st half of Clemson game

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Jameis Winston will be a spectator in the first half of Florida State's showdown against Clemson Saturday after making "offensive and vulgar" comments about women - the latest embarrassment in a growing list of poor decisions off the field. Florida State interim President Dr. Garnett S. Stokes and athletic director Stan Wilcox announced in a joint statement Wednesday that the quarterback also will undergo internal discipline, but did not provide details of the punishment. Several students tweeted Winston stood on campus Tuesday and shouted a lascivious comment about female anatomy that may have derived from an internet meme. The 20-year-old Winston addressed his inappropriate comments before Wednesday's practice at his weekly press conference, saying: "I have to tone it down." The Heisman Trophy winner has made similar comments after previous incidents and Florida State seems to be growing less tolerant of his discretions. While playing for the Florida State baseball team, he was suspended for three games and completed 20 hours of community service after acknowledging he stole $32 worth of crab legs from a local grocery store in April. Before the football season, he said he had matured, learned what it takes to be a leader and understood that he needed to be more careful in his personal life. The school president and AD admonished him Wednesday for doing just the opposite. "As the university's most visible ambassadors, student-athletes at Florida State are expected to uphold at all times high standards of integrity and behavior that reflect well upon themselves, their families, coaches, teammates, the Department of Athletics and Florida State University," their joint statement said. "Student-athletes are expected to act in a way that reflects dignity and respect for others." Winston's latest poor judgment comes when Florida State is under scrutiny. The university is currently under investigation by the Department of Education for the way it handles reports of sexual assault, including a case involving Winston. The investigation was prompted by a complaint from a FSU student who says Winston assaulted her in 2012. State Attorney Willie Meggs declined to press charges against Winston last fall. A lawyer for the woman says the university is currently conducting its own investigation of that incident. Winston has had other run-ins with police since enrolling at the university. Police questioned Winston and other FSU players in November 2012 after 13 windows were broken at an apartment complex near Doak Campbell Stadium after an apparent BB gun battle. That same month, Winston and teammate Chris Casher were held at gunpoint by campus police for hunting squirrels. The two told police they were shooting squirrels with a pellet gun along a bike trail. Police were also called after a Burger King employee called to complain that Winston was stealing soda. Winston was not arrested in any of those three incidents. On Wednesday, the Heisman Trophy winner gave a statement in which apologized for the lewd comments. "I just want to apologize to my university, my coaches and my teammates. I'm not a me person, but in that situation it was a selfish act," Winston said. "That's not how you do things. I really want to apologize to my teammates because I have now made a selfish act for them." Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher called Winston's remarks about women "derogatory." "It's not something we want or we're indicative of and it's not a good decision," Fisher said. "It was something that has to be addressed. "You can't make certain statements that are derogatory or inflammatory in any way toward any person, race, gender," said Fisher, whose top-ranked Seminoles host No. 22 Clemson on Saturday in an Atlantic Coast Conference showdown. "The statements in which you make are always going to be made more public than statements that other individuals make," the coach said. "And that's just the nature of the business of who you are and what you are. That's the situation it is and you have to understand that." Winston's continued questionable behavior could not only affect his future NFL draft stock, but possibly his status as a student. He could be removed from school pending the outcome of the investigation into whether he violated the school's code of conduct policy stemming from the sexual assault accusation. Winston has repeatedly indicated there was a strong chance he could return for another year of college football, but this latest incident could change that. Saturday's showdown between the top-ranked Seminoles and No. 22 Clemson is a rematch of a game that really put Winston in the national spotlight. Florida State rolled over the Tigers 51-14 en route to a national championship. Winston threw for 444 yards, three touchdowns and ran for another score. "I want to be out on the field with my team, but I did something, so I have to accept the consequences," Winston said. "I'm going to apologize to my team. We're not going to think about that, because we don't think about negative things. We're going to think about moving forward and winning the game."

Wed, 17 Sep 2014 22:34:00 +0000
To 'get it right,' Vikings put Peterson on leave

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson was declared out, back in, then out again as he faces a felony child-abuse charge in Texas. This time, he could be gone for the season. "We made a mistake," Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said, "and we needed to get this right." Vikings executives emerged Wednesday from a late-night deliberation to voice regret of their initial decision to let Peterson play this week after sitting him for a game once he was charged with injuring his 4-year-old son by spanking him with a wooden switch. Now Peterson is back on paid leave through a special roster exemption granted by the NFL, the same protocol cited by the Carolina Panthers as they sat defensive end Greg Hardy a few hours later while he deals with his own domestic violence case. "We will support Adrian during this legal and personal process, but we firmly believe this is the right decision," said Wilf, the team's co-owner with younger brother Mark Wilf. During a 17-minute news conference at Vikings headquarters, the word "right" was used a total of 34 times by the Wilfs, vice president Kevin Warren and general manager Rick Spielman. They expressed concern about child welfare, recognized their role as public figures and reminded the audience of the community service work done regularly by players. The most emphatic responses, though, came to questions from reporters about external pressure. Did the NFL strong-arm the decision? Did the loss of sponsorships drive it? "Absolutely not," Mark Wilf, the team president, said on both subjects. He added: "We appreciate our fans, men and women alike, our sponsors and the community. We hear their input." Backlash was swift to the announcement Monday that Peterson would rejoin the Vikings after being held out Sunday. The Radisson hotel chain suspended its team sponsorship. Prominent NFL advertisers, including Anheuser-Busch, raised concern about recent off-the-field problems. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton called for Peterson's suspension. Picked for six Pro Bowls in his first seven seasons, Peterson's popularity took a huge hit. He was dropped this week from several of his endorsement deals. Shoe giant Nike suspended its sponsorship deal, saying it "in no way condones child abuse or domestic violence of any kind and has shared our concerns with the NFL." "It is important to always listen to our fans and the community and our sponsors," Zygi Wilf said, at least vaguely contradicting his brother's denial that revenue had an impact on the decision to reverse course. US Bank spokesman Dana Ripley said the company, a strong candidate for naming rights on the Vikings new stadium set to open in 2016, agreed with the decision to put Peterson on hiatus. "We have been in close communication with the Vikings organization for the past couple of days firmly expressing our perspective," Ripley said. Peterson's case remains under review per the league's personal conduct policy, spokesman Greg Aiello said, so a suspension could still be possible once resolution in court is reached. That's not expected until 2015. Peterson has an Oct. 8 court appearance scheduled in Montgomery County, outside of Houston. His attorney, Rusty Hardin, said the case "will be up to a judge and jury to decide, which is the way it should be," indicating a plea deal was not in the works. The 29-year-old Peterson said he was administering the same type of discipline he experienced growing up and didn't meant to hurt his son. Peterson also said he's met with a psychologist and acknowledged alternatives "that may be more appropriate" than corporal punishment. His mother, Bonita Jackson, told the Houston Chronicle that she and his father used switches and belts to occasionally spank all of their children. "Most of us disciplined our kids a little more than we meant sometimes," said Jackson, who has not returned messages from The Associated Press. "But we were only trying to prepare them for the real world. When you whip those you love, it's not about abuse, but love." The exempt list, which allows the Vikings to fill Peterson's spot on the 53-man roster while retaining his rights, is available "only in unusual circumstances," according to NFL policy. Commissioner Roger Goodell has the sole authority to grant the exemption - or lift it. The NFL Players Association characterized Peterson's status as "voluntary leave," in issuing a statement of support. His agent, Ben Dogra, told The Associated Press the decision was "the best possible outcome given the circumstances." But the team wanted to make clear it made the call. "The Minnesota Vikings are the ones that initiated this process," Warren said. Montgomery County prosecutor Phil Grant said an NFL official asked Monday for any investigative documents in the Peterson case. Grant said he offered the grand jury indictment that was made public Saturday but did not share any other items such as photos, interviews or police reports. Warren, the team's chief administrative officer, said he personally reviewed evidence in the case and that the Vikings are "in a perpetual state of gathering as much information" as possible. Spielman didn't directly answer questions about whether releasing Peterson was considered or if he would play for the Vikings again. Peterson's salary for 2014 is $11.75 million. His contract doesn't expire until after the 2017 season, but the Vikings could cut him for a minimal salary-cap hit or at least restructure the deal. "We are going to let the legal process and his personal matters take care of themselves, and he will remain on this exempt list until that is accomplished," said Spielman, who spent time with Peterson on Tuesday. "Adrian is an unselfish person and saw all of the light that was coming on this, and he felt ... that by him stepping back it would give our football team and opportunity to focus on football," Spielman said. Peterson's teammates and coaches tried to focus on preparations for Sunday's game at New Orleans, though one player called the decision unfair. "I think he should be able to play. He hasn't been convicted of anything," cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said. The Vikings will have to put those feelings aside for now. "I love Adrian Peterson. I feel for him that he's going through this because I think that he's one of my guys," coach Mike Zimmer said. "I believe in this situation where everything is, this is the right way to go."

Wed, 17 Sep 2014 22:23:00 +0000

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