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Headley wins it in 14th inning of Yankees debut

NEW YORK (AP) Chase Headley came through with a storybook swing at the stroke of midnight in his Yankees debut, hitting a game-winning single in the 14th inning to give New York a 2-1 victory over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night.

Derek Jeter broke Lou Gehrig's franchise record for doubles, and the Yankees won an unlikely pitching duel after both rookie starters entered with a 5.10 ERA.

J.P. Arencibia snapped a scoreless tie with a leadoff homer in the 13th against New York reliever David Huff, but the Yankees responded with Brett Gardner's leadoff double and Jacoby Ellsbury's tying single off closer Joakim Soria in the bottom half.

It was the second blown save in 19 chances for Soria, who kept Texas in it by getting Brian McCann to ground into an inning-ending double play with runners at the corners.

Wed, 23 Jul 2014 04:18:00 +0000
Andre Johnson's holdout could cloud Texans camp

HOUSTON (AP) As the Houston Texans prepare for the start of training camp on Saturday, their biggest question mark involves a player who probably won't be there when they take the field.

Disgruntled receiver Andre Johnson skipped offseason workouts and mandatory minicamp after wondering in May if Houston was "still the place for me."

A holdout by the face of the franchise and the team's longest-tenured player could cast a pall on the beginning of coach Bill O'Brien's first season.

O'Brien has tried to downplay the situation so far, but that tact will be much more difficult if Johnson's holdout stretches much longer.

Johnson joined the franchise in its second season and has said that playing on just three teams with winning records in 11 seasons "can become very frustrating."

The Texans were among the favorites to reach the Super Bowl entering last season after reaching the playoffs the previous two years.

But things quickly fell apart due in large part to poor play by quarterback Matt Schaub, coach Gary Kubiak was fired in December and they finished 2-14 to tie the worst record in franchise history.

The 33-year-old Johnson, whose 1,407 yards receiving in 2013 ranked second in the AFC, is unhappy at the prospect of enduring another rebuilding project after seeing the moves the Texans made in the offseason.

If they can't get him back on the field it will leave a big hole in O'Brien's new offense and put much more pressure on last year's first-round pick DeAndre Hopkins.

Here are some things to know about the Texans as camp begins.

CLOWNEY'S HEALTH: Jadeveon Clowney, the top overall pick in this year's draft, may not be ready to practice on the first day of training camp after having sports hernia surgery in June.

O'Brien said that he expected Clowney to be ready for training camp when he disclosed the procedure on June 13. But the former South Carolina standout told reporters recently that he isn't sure if he'll be cleared to practice by Day 1. Training camp will be important for the former defensive end who is making the transition to outside linebacker in defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel's system.

O'BRIEN'S TEAM: O'Brien returns to the NFL for his first head coaching job in the league after spending the past two seasons coaching Penn State. He took over the Nittany Lions in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal and led the team to winning records in both 2012 and 2013 before being hired in Houston. He comes to the Texans with a reputation as a quarterback guru after spending three seasons working as Tom Brady's position coach with the Patriots.

FITZPATRICK TAKES OVER: Houston traded Schaub to Oakland in the offseason and signed veteran free agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was selected as the starter during minicamp by O'Brien. Fitzpatrick started nine games for the Titans last season after Jake Locker was injured, but there are questions about whether he's the answer to Houston's quarterback woes.

"He does a good job of controlling the offense and ... getting together with other groups and trying to let them see everything through the quarterback's eyes," quarterbacks coach George Godsey said. "I think he's done a good job of trying to keep that steady."

They also have Case Keenum, who started eight games last season after Schaub was benched, and drafted Tom Savage in the fourth round of this year's draft.

CRENNEL'S RETURN: Crennel returns to coaching for the first time since he was fired as coach of the Kansas City Chiefs following the 2012 season. He inherits a defense that features 2012 Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt and should get a boost with the return of middle linebacker Brian Cushing, who suffered a second straight season-ending knee injury in Houston's seventh game last year.

Crennel's excited about coaching again and said at age 67 the most important factor was the people he'd be working with.

"We all want to win, but if you've got good people and you can work with good people that makes the job easier," he said. "I felt that the people were good people and that I would enjoy working with them. That made it easier for me to come and give it a shot."

CAN FOSTER RETURN TO FORM: Arian Foster has recovered from back surgery that ended his season in 2013 after eight games. He participated in minicamp and the Texans are counting on him to return to form this year. Before the injury shortened season he ran for at least 1,200 yards in three straight seasons, highlighted by his breakout 2010 season when he rushed for an NFL-leading 1,616 yards.

Wed, 23 Jul 2014 00:10:00 +0000
Report: Cavs to sign Wiggins amid Love rumors

CLEVELAND (AP) Andrew Wiggins will sign his rookie contract with the Cavaliers. It's still not clear if he'll play for them.

A person familiar with the negotiations says the Cavs will sign the No. 1 overall pick to his deal, an agreement that would prevent any potential trade involving the small forward from being completed for 30 days.

The Minnesota Timberwolves and Cavaliers have been discussing a potential deal that would send All-Star forward Kevin Love to the Cavaliers for Wigging, Anthony Bennett and other pieces. The person familiar with the talks says Wiggins will sign with Cleveland as early as Wednesday. The person spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday on condition of anonymity because the team is not commenting on its plans.

The Cavs and Timberwolves have had ongoing discussions about a trade for Love since before Cleveland selected Wiggins first in May. The Timberwolves have always insisted that Wiggins be involved in any package, a stipulation the Cavaliers initially resisted.

To help in their pursuit of Love, the Cavs traded guard Carrick Felix to Utah on Tuesday for three players with non-guaranteed contracts.

Cleveland acquired guard John Lucas III and forwards Malcolm Thomas and Erik Murphy from the Jazz in exchange for Felix, a second-round draft pick and cash considerations.

The trade will allow the Cavs to clear $3.3 million in salary cap space, room to potentially sign Love or other players.

Wiggins' inclusion in any deal has been a sticking point for the Cavs.

Last week, two people familiar with the discussions said the team was not willing to include Wiggins in a deal. But as talks continued this week, the Cavaliers have softened their stance on including Wiggins, who played well during the team's summer league in Las Vegas, to try and get superstar LeBron James another veteran All-Star teammate.

The Cavs have considered acquiring Love and teaming him with James, who recently announced he was returning to Cleveland and signed a two-year, $42.1 million deal with the team. With Love, James and All-Star point guard, Cleveland would have a "Big 3" comparable to what Miami had in James and All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

The Timberwolves have also had discussions with the Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors, among other teams, in recent weeks as they entertain offers for Love, who can opt out of his contract next summer and has told Minnesota he wants to play for a contender.

Signing Wiggins to a contract wouldn't necessarily prevent a trade from eventually happening. Under league rules, Wiggins cannot be officially traded for 30 days after he signs. But the Timberwolves and Cavaliers could come to some sort of agreement before that end date and then execute the trade after the window closes.

Signing Wiggins could make a trade easier to complete. League rules require teams that are at or over the salary cap to exchange packages of similar dollar values when they make trades. Before Wiggins signs a deal, he has a contract of $0, so his inclusion does not help the Cavaliers get closer to the $15.7 million value they would receive with Love's contract.

But when he does sign, Wiggins will have a value of around $5.5 million, which would get the Cavaliers a big step closer to the 80 percent of Love's contract that they need to reach to make any deal conform to league rules.

Having to wait that long to finalize a deal does complicate the negotiating process, with both teams leery of the other backing out during that monthlong moratorium.

If the Timberwolves and Cavaliers do come to an agreement, the trade could evolve into a three-team deal. The Wolves have been searching for another team to bring another established, veteran player to the package while potentially moving guard J.J. Barea or other contracts to create room for the incoming players.

Wed, 23 Jul 2014 00:50:00 +0000
Witness: Sterling needs Clippers sale to pay debts

LOS ANGELES (AP) The chief financial officer of Donald Sterling's properties said Monday that the billionaire may be forced to sell a large portion of his real estate empire to cover $500 million in loans if he persists in refusing to sell the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion.

Darren Schield, who oversees the finances of The Sterling Family Trust, testified Monday that three banks are ready to recall their loans to Sterling because of his decision to dissolve the trust. His move was designed to rescind his signed agreement for the sale of the Clippers, a team he bought for $12 million.

Schield said if Sterling has to dump $500 million worth of apartment buildings he could destabilize the Los Angeles real estate market.

Sterling attorney Maxwell Blecher suggested that Sterling could take the company public in order to raise funds.

But Shelly Sterling's lawyer, Pierce O'Donnell asked if it would be easy to go public "with Donald Sterling's reputation."

Schield responded: "There's huge reputation issues. I don't know if anyone would want to go into partnership with him."

The NBA banned Donald Sterling for life for making racist statements after the release of recorded conversations. Sterling has denied he is a racist from the witness stand.

Schield testified in the probate trial that if Sterling's loans go into default and he needs to refinance, banks would be reluctant to give him that much money at the low rate he has now.

"I know the bank looks at this as a higher credit risk with all this going on," he said. "The rate would go up considerably."

Sterling, the volatile owner of the team, agreed to the sale but then dissolved the family trust in an effort to stop it.

Schield, testifying at the trial that will decide the future of a $2 billion deal to sell the Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, said he warned Sterling not to revoke the trust last month.

"I told him a revocation of the trust would be a breach of the loan covenants and would result in defaults," Schield said.

He said he also discussed it with Sterling's lawyer, Bobby Samini.

"I told him this revocation would open up a Pandora's box and trigger defaults," Schield said.

"Does the company have $500 million to pay off the loans?" asked O'Donnell.

"We do not," Schield answered.

Asked what the recourse would be, he said, "We would have to start selling real estate. If we have to sell $500 million in apartment buildings, it would have an impact on the Los Angeles real estate market. "

Donald Sterling's lawyers who had said they planned to call six witnesses Monday produced none of them and court was recessed early.

Shelly Sterling, Donald Sterling's wife who had been listed as a witness, was in court but was not called to the stand. She was scheduled to return Tuesday.

Her lawyers said their witnesses on Tuesday will include Richard Parsons, CEO of the Clippers. Outside court, Ballmer's lawyer, Adam Streisand, said he believes the judge will rule in favor of Shelly Sterling.

"Do I think the trust will be reinstated after that?" he said. "You bet it will."

If the sale doesn't go through by Sept. 15, the NBA can seize the team and sell it at auction, Streisand said.

Donald Sterling has vowed he'll never sell the team. He claims he is the victim of illegally recorded conversations that invaded his privacy.

Tue, 22 Jul 2014 04:27:00 +0000
Big 12 commish's dire warning about pending change

DALLAS (AP) Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby had a dire warning Monday for anyone who likes intercollegiate athletics the way they are now.

"You're going to hate it going forward," Bowlsby said. "There's a lot of change coming."

During his opening address at Big 12 football media days, Bowlsby talked about growing financial constraints athletic programs face going forward and the "strange environment" that exists with class-action lawsuits against the NCAA and its member schools.

Bowlsby said he's doesn't think there is a real understanding of how much lawsuits - which he numbered as seven and "growing all the time" - could radically alter things.

"I think all of that in the end will cause programs to be eliminated. I think you'll see men's Olympic sports go away as a result of the new funding challenges that are coming down the pike," he said. "I think there may be tension among and between sports on campus and institutions that have different resources."

While acknowledging the outcomes are unknown, the former Stanford athletic director expressed concern about fewer opportunities for some athletes to go college in the future.

"I fear that we will get past the change and then we'll realize that all the gymnastics programs went away, or that we have agents on campus all the time negotiating playing time for student athletes," he said. "There's all kind of Armageddon scenarios you could come up with. ... You wouldn't have to be a very good fiction writer to come up with some scenarios that would be pretty scary."

A year ago, Bowlsby's opening address was part of a coordinated effort by the leaders of the power conferences - the Big 12, SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC - in calling for transformative changes in the governance system of the NCAA.

The NCAA board of directors is set to vote Aug. 7 on a proposal to give schools in the highest-profile conferences more influence over college rules. The proposal also would give athletic directors and athletes bigger roles in the legislative process, and give the power conferences autonomy to make their own bylaws.

That vote will come a day after the Big 12 sponsors in New York the first in a scheduled series of forums on the state of college athletics.

When addressing potential unionization of football and basketball players, Bowlsby said "student-athletes are not employees. They should never be employees. It's not an employee/employer relationship."

Bowlsby also said the NCAA is "headed down a path of significant financial difficulty" with revenues from television packages going up about 2 1/2 percent a year while expenses are increasing more than 4 percent annually.

That includes schools paying $1 million or more per year under new rules to start providing unlimited food and nutrition to student-athletes. Plus, future scholarships could provide more money to cover the full cost of attendance.

"I think that's great. I think there are ways that it costs more than room, board, books, tuition, and fees to go to school," Bowlsby said. " But even in an environment where we have some additional revenue coming in from television resources, primarily, it is going to be very difficult for many institutions to fund that.

"In the end, it's a somewhat zero-sum game. There's only so much money out there. I don't think that coaches and athletic directors are likely going to take pay cuts," he said. "And I think over a period of time what we'll find is that instead of keeping a tennis program, they're going to do the things that it takes to keep the football and men's and women's basketball programs strong."

Bowlsby also addressed the NCAA enforcement program, which he said "is broken" considering no hearings before the infractions committee in almost a year even though he doesn't believe cheating is rampant.

"I think it's not an understatement to say cheating pays presently," he said "If you seek to conspire to certainly bend the rules, you can do it successfully and probably not get caught in most occasions. ... They're in a battle with a BB gun in their hand. They're fighting howitzers."

Tue, 22 Jul 2014 03:48:00 +0000

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