|Yesterday|| Champ Bailey calls it a career after 15 years in NFL|
DENVER (AP) Former teammate Brian Dawkins called Champ Bailey "a great conserver of energy," a rare superstar who was never in a rush to get anywhere "unless it was on a football field."
In that dawdling, you can count retirement.
That finally came Tuesday, 60 days after Bailey was released by the New Orleans Saints when a nagging foot injury prevented him from displaying the speed and skills that led to his cornerback-record dozen Pro Bowl berths in Washington and Denver.
He had workouts with the Lions and Ravens and interest from other teams but decided to pursue a new chapter, possibly in broadcasting.
"Every professional athlete knows and understands that at some point his career will end and it will be time to move on to another phase in life. For me, that time is now," Bailey said in a statement released by the Broncos, for whom he played from 2004-13.
"I have been truly blessed. I have been able to play this NFL game I love for 15 seasons and yet, it seems like only yesterday that my dreams came true when I received the call from Charley Casserly letting me know the Redskins had made me their first pick in the 1999 draft," Bailey said.
The seventh overall pick that year, the University of Georgia star spent five seasons in Washington before the Broncos traded star running back Clinton Portis to the Redskins for the game's premier shutdown cornerback.
Bailey was the most decorated defender in franchise history with eight Pro Bowl berths while with the Broncos.
When GM John Elway returned to his beloved franchise, his first order of business was signing Bailey to an extension.
"Champ was the pillar in this organization for a long, long time," Elway said. "He brought great stability to the Broncos not only as a player but as a person through his ability and leadership. When I came here in 2011, he was the guy that we were going to build around and we were fortunate to have him for three more years
|Yesterday|| Parker helps Spurs edge Mavs 101-100 in opener|
SAN ANTONIO (AP) Tony Parker scored 23 points, including a big 3-pointer late in the game as the San Antonio Spurs opened their title defense with a thrilling 101-100 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday.
Manu Ginobili added 20 points for San Antonio, which shot 53 percent from the field. Tim Duncan had 14 points and 13 rebounds for his 14th double-double in a season opener, the most by any player in NBA history, according to Elias Sports.
Monta Ellis scored 26 points for Dallas, and Dirk Nowitzki had 18. Devin Harris finished with 17 points.
Following a video recap of the 2014 season narrated by actor and Spurs fan Samuel L. Jackson, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver presented San Antonio's staff and players with their championship rings. The inscription inside the ring was "Good to Great," which was coach Gregg Popovich's mantra last season.
After Nowitzki gave Dallas a 100-98 lead with a fadeaway jumper over Boris Diaw with 1:37 remaining, Parker drained a 3 in front of the Mavericks' bench off a feed from Diaw. Parker was 4 for 4 from long range, matching a career high for 3s in a game.
Houston's James Harden scored 32 points, and Dwight Howard added 13 points and 11 rebounds before getting into a shouting match with Kobe Bryant as the Rockets spoiled Bryant's return to the Lakers with a 108-90 victory.
Bryant's comeback game got even worse when Lakers rookie forward Julius Randle seriously injured his right leg in the fourth quarter, leaving his NBA debut on a wheeled stretcher. The seventh overall pick out of Kentucky collided with two Rockets under the basket and landed awkwardly.
Bryant scored 19 points in his first game back at Staples Center after missing most of the Lakers' worst season in a half-century with two major injuries.
Trevor Ariza and Terrence Jones scored 16 points each for Houston.
At New Orleans, Anthony Davis had 26 points, 17 rebounds and nine blocks to lead the New Orlea
|Yesterday|| Rockets rout Lakers 108-90 in Kobe's return|
LOS ANGELES (AP) After Lakers rookie Julius Randle left his NBA debut strapped to a wheeled stretcher with a broken right leg, every player at Staples Center gained a sober perspective on the season opener.
Even ex-teammates Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard realized their shouting match was particularly inconsequential in the final minutes of the Houston Rockets' blowout win.
James Harden scored 32 points, Howard added 13 points and 11 rebounds before getting into an exchange with Bryant, and the Rockets spoiled Bryant's return to the Lakers with a 108-90 victory over Los Angeles on Tuesday night.
Bryant's comeback game and the Lakers' return from a 55-loss season went from bad to miserable when Randle broke his right leg in the fourth quarter. The seventh overall pick out of Kentucky collided with two Rockets under the basket and landed awkwardly, collapsing to the court in agony.
After his own Lakers debut ended somberly, coach Byron Scott described the scene as "heartbreaking."
"The last three or four minutes, obviously we weren't thinking a whole lot about basketball," Scott added. "We were just thinking about Julius, and hoping he's OK."
Randle's injury cast a pall over the night for the Lakers, who are banking on the 19-year-old power forward to become a solid player - perhaps their next star. His right leg was immobilized before his teammates lifted him onto the stretcher, obvious pain on his face, with Bryant squeezing his hand.
"We'll help him through this, and he'll come back a better basketball player," Bryant said. "That's the goal, is to try to find a silver lining in this. He'll use the time to come back and be stronger."
Bryant scored 19 points in his first game back at Staples Center after missing most of the Lakers' worst season in a half-century with two major injuries.
A few moments before Randle's injury, Howard and Bryant received matching technical fouls when Howard elbowed Bryant i
|Yesterday|| Mississippi State, Florida State top first playoff list|
GRAPEVINE, Texas (AP) The College Football Playoff selection committee has spoken - and it likes the SEC.
At least for now.
Mississippi State, Florida State, Auburn and Mississippi are the top four teams in the first College Football Playoff rankings.
The first of seven Top 25 rankings compiled by a 12-member selection committee was released Tuesday night. The selection committee will ultimately pick the four teams to play in the national semifinals and set the matchups for the other four big New Year's Day bowls that are part of the playoff rotation.
"It was extremely difficult, more difficult than any of us had expected having gone through our mock selections before," Arkansas athletic director and committee chairman Jeff Long said. "There are 18 one-loss teams in FBS at this point in time, and the difference between many of them is very slim."
Oregon was fifth and Alabama was sixth, giving the Southeastern Conference's West Division four of the top six teams. There are still four games remaining matching those SEC West rivals, starting with Saturday's matchup of Auburn and Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi.
The final rankings will be released Dec. 7, the day after the most of the conference championships are decided.
"Everyone on the selection committee recognized that our rankings will change over the next six weeks," Long said. "I think that's important for us to emphasize. We expect our rankings to change over the next six weeks. One week's rankings won't influence the next week's rankings."
TCU was seventh, Michigan State was eighth, Kansas State ninth and Notre Dame was 10th.
Mississippi State and defending national champion Florida State are the only undefeated teams left among the Big Five conferences.
"It's cool," Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott said. "That's something you can never take away from the university or this program. First-ever ranking, first team to be No. 1, so
|Yesterday|| Royals rout Giants 10-0 to force Game 7 in Series|
KANSAS CITY, Missouri (AP) Lorenzo Cain hit a two-run single and Eric Hosmer lined a two-run double over shortstop in a seven-run second inning as the Kansas City Royals battered the San Francisco Giants 10-0 Tuesday to force a decisive Game 7 in the World Series.
Yordano Ventura, a 23-year-old rookie pitching with a heavy heart and the initials of late St. Louis outfielder Oscar Taveras on his cap, allowed three hits over seven stifling innings as the Series drew level at three games each.
"This is what we all prepared for. This is why we play the game," Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said.
As bouncers rolled by infielders and bloops dropped in front of outfielders, the raucous roar at Kauffman Stadium swelled with every hit in the second and then got louder the rest of the night. Lorenzo Cain looped a two-run single - one of eight Royals to get hits in the seven-run burst - and Hosmer chopped a two-run double over shortstop.
"Guys stepped up in a big way tonight," Cain said.
Jeremy Guthrie starts Wednesday night for Kansas City and Tim Hudson for San Francisco in a rematch of Game 3, won by Kansas City 3-2. Hudson, 39, will become the oldest Game 7 starter in Series history.
"We're confident," the Royals' Billy Butler said. "Jeremy, every time out, gives us a chance to win."
Lurking is Madison Bumgarner, ready to pitch in relief after suffocating the Royals on a total of one run in winning Games 1 and 5. Giants manager Bruce Bochy elected not to start him on two days' rest.
"This guy is human. I mean, you can't push him that much," Bochy said. "He'll be available if we need him, but to start him, I think that's asking a lot."
Kansas City can be comfortable in this bit of history: Home teams have won nine straight Game 7s in the Series since Pittsburgh's victory at Baltimore in 1979, including the Royals' 11-0 rout of St. Louis in 1985. And the Giants have lost all four of their World Series finale
|Oct 28, 2014|| Mia Hamm nominated to Roma's board of directors|
ROME (AP) Retired women's soccer star Mia Hamm and Boston Bruins president Cam Neely were nominated to Italian club Roma's board of directors Monday.
Roma is traded on the Milan stock exchange and the nominations were made at a club shareholder meeting.
The 42-year-old Hamm helped the United States to two World Cup titles, including the inaugural edition in 1991 in China, and won the women's FIFA world player of the year award in 2001 and 2002 - the first two times that honor was given.
Hamm is not a club investor, Roma said.
The 49-year-old Neely was a forward for the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins. He became the Bruins' president in 2010.
Roma was bought by a group of four Boston executives three years ago and Richard D'Amore, a member of that group, rejoined the board. Former club president Thomas DiBenedetto and New York lawyer Joe Tacopina, who recently became president of second-division club Bologna, left the board.
American investor Stanley Gold was also nominated.
The 13 board members serve three-year terms.
|Oct 28, 2014|| NCAA's Emmert calls N. Carolina report troubling|
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) NCAA President Mark Emmert said Monday that findings from a recent investigation into academic fraud at the University of North Carolina are troubling, disturbing and shocking.
While Emmert said he would withhold final judgment until the NCAA completes its own investigation, the usually cautious former university president was downright blunt during a 20-minute interview with The Associated Press at its Indianapolis headquarters.
"Just based on the (Kenneth) Wainstein report, this is a case that potentially strikes at the heart of what higher education is about," Emmert said Monday. "Universities are supposed to take absolutely most seriously the education of their students, right? I mean that's why they exist, that's their function in life. If the Wainstein report is accurate, then there was severe, severe compromising of all those issues, so it's deeply troubling. ... It's absolutely disturbing that we find ourselves here right now."
North Carolina athletic department spokesman Steve Kirschner said the school would not comment on Emmert's remarks.
The report, authored by a former Justice Department official who conducted an internal investigation into the NCAA's own enforcement department scandal in 2013, was released last week. It detailed how academic fraud in the formerly named African and Afro-American Studies (AFAM) department went on for nearly two decades. According to Wainstein, the "shadow curriculum" involved more than involved more than 3,100 students - about half of whom were athletes.
The NCAA has been on the defensive as well.
In August, former UCLA basketball star Ed O'Bannon won a federal court case that could force schools to put as much as $5,000 per year into a trust fund that college athletes could collect after they leave school. NCAA attorneys are expected to appeal that decision in November. And recently, former Clemson football player Martin Jenkins went to court, seeking to el
|Oct 28, 2014|| Jets' Idzik says his performance 'unsatisfactory'|
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) John Idzik blames himself for the mess that has become the New York Jets' season.
No, the general manager isn't happy with the job he has done. And, no, this isn't what he envisioned in his second year in charge of the franchise.
"There are no excuses: My performance to date is unsatisfactory," Idzik said Monday during his annual state-of-the team address. "It's a direct reflection of our record."
At 1-7, the Jets are mired in a seven-game skid that has some fans and media calling for wholesale changes. Idzik understands the frustration and he empathizes with a fan base that hasn't seen its team reach the Super Bowl since 1969.
"It's gut-wrenching," he said, struggling to find words for the team's start. "It's brutal. You feel like you've been punched in the face. It's painful."
Idzik opened with a 19-minute statement during which he raised his voice at times, rambled through other moments while talking about the players' resilience and highlighting stats, and appeared uncharacteristically emotional before taking any questions from reporters.
While he took accountability for the lousy start, Idzik didn't offer many concrete answers on how the team would turn things around.
"Ultimately, I'm responsible for the performance of our team, the product that we put on the field," he said. "That lies with me. The buck stops here."
Idzik said the team's struggles are "very personal for me," and alluded to the fact that his father John Sr. was the team's offensive coordinator in the late 1970s.
"The Jets are my team," he said. "The Jets are our team."
He praised coach Rex Ryan as the team's leader, saying he spends more time with him than his own family.
"Our commitment extends to Rex Ryan and our coaching staff," he said. "The last time I checked, all the traits that make Rex Ryan our leader, our head coach, are still intact. He's an excellent football mind. He's a teacher
|Oct 28, 2014|| Michael Vick to start for Jets against Chiefs|
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) It's Michael Vick's turn. Even though it's probably too late to save the New York Jets' season.
Rex Ryan announced Monday that Vick will start at quarterback over Geno Smith in the Jets' road game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
"I think this is the right decision at this time," Ryan said, adding that it isn't "any long-term deal or whatever."
The Jets are mired in a seven-game skid that has them at 1-7 after a 43-23 loss in which both Smith and Vick turned the ball over three times against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
"I think it's a great opportunity," the 34-year-old Vick said. "Any time you get named to be the starter, in any profession, in professional sports, it's a great thing. You have to relish it, but also at the same time take it extremely serious and understand what's at stake and what needs to be done."
Smith, in his second season, was benched in the first quarter Sunday after throwing interceptions on three consecutive possessions. Vick took over and provided a spark, leading the Jets to a touchdown on his first drive, but also committed three turnovers of his own.
"My focus is just on Kansas City and trying to find a way to get a win," Ryan said. "That's why this decision was made."
Vick was 18 of 36 for 153 yards against the Bills, and also ran for a team-leading 69 yards on eight carries. But he threw one interception - and nearly had another that was ruled incomplete after being overturned by video review - and lost two fumbles.
His first start with the Jets will come against Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who helped revive the quarterback's career in Philadelphia after he served nearly two years in prison for his role in a dogfighting ring. Vick called it "kind of ironic" and added that it isn't exactly what he wanted, but is happy to be starting - regardless of the opponent.
"I love Andy Reid for the man that he is," Vick said. "As far as the football ga
|Oct 28, 2014|| Cardinals stunned by Taveras' death|
Mike Matheny needed some time to figure out what to say. Like the rest of the St. Louis Cardinals, the manager was leveled by the sudden death of Oscar Taveras.
The Cardinals are grieving the loss of an active player for the third time in 12 years after the 22-year-old Taveras died Sunday in a car crash in the Dominican Republic. Matheny, general manager John Mozeliak and pitcher Carlos Martinez were part of a group from the organization with plans to attend a private burial service Tuesday in Taveras' country.
"I was asked last night to give some words regarding the tragic death of Oscar Taveras, but I just simply couldn't," Matheny said Monday in a statement. "To say this is a horrible loss of a life ended too soon would be an understatement."
Taveras was a teenager when he signed with St. Louis as an international free agent in 2008. He was regarded as one of baseball's top prospects and homered in his major league debut May 31. He also had a big solo drive in the seventh inning of Game 2 in the NL Championship Series against San Francisco.
"He was someone that became an identity of our organization to some degree," Mozeliak said in a conference call with St. Louis media before a visitation Monday night. "When you think about how much has been written about him and how much has been talked about him, he never truly got a chance to show it at the major league level."
Mozeliak said he took a connecting flight from Miami with Taveras' father.
"Clearly, he was shaken by these events," the GM said.
Taveras was driving a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro at the time of the accident on a highway between the beaches of Sosua and Cabarete in Puerto Plata, about 215 miles north of the capital of Santo Domingo. Edilia Arvelo, Taveras' 18-year-old girlfriend, also died in the crash.
A funeral for Arvelo was held Monday in her hometown of Moca.
Highway police spokesman Col. Diego Pesqueira said the road was wet from a rece
|Oct 28, 2014|| Giants, Royals ready for wild World Series finish|
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Buster Posey was annoyed. Playfully so. The Giants catcher wanted Madison Bumgarner to do more than barely break a smile after a brilliant pitching performance put San Francisco one win from another World Series title.
No way, Buster.
Because in this postseason full of stars and surprises, who knows? Heck, Bumgarner might still have more work to do.
Baseball took its final break Monday before the Giants and Royals settle things. Holding a 3-2 edge, San Francisco will try to claim its third championship in five years Tuesday night when the wild-card matchup resumes at Kansas City.
"We're trying to grind this thing out, the way we have for what feels like forever now," Jake Peavy, who starts Game 6 for the Giants, said before Monday night's workout at Kauffman Stadium. "Not even sure of the date, the day. Doesn't matter."
The day off gave fans a chance to savor what they'd already seen in the past month, and there was plenty - the success of Bumgarner, Lorenzo Cain and Yusmeiro Petit, the struggles of Clayton Kershaw, Mike Trout and Detroit's aces, a rack of tight games and one that went 18 innings.
"Clayton who? MadBum!" one man yelled as he exited AT&T Park after the Giants won 5-0 Sunday night.
Could be a lot more cooking in this October oven, too.
Maybe Ned Yost even had it right.
"Oh, man, somewhere inside of me, secretly I had hoped that it would go seven games for the excitement and the thrill of it," the Kansas City manager said after a loss in Game 4. "Sure looks that way."
Perhaps it's only fitting this Fall Classic ends at Kauffman Stadium, a place hosting playoff baseball for the first time in 29 years. The Royals started this pulsating postseason at home with a 9-8 comeback win in 12 innings over Oakland in the AL wild-card game, a thriller that began on the last day of September and nearly stretched into October.
That captivating night in Kansas City s
|Oct 27, 2014|| Panthers stall in red zone, lose 13-9 to Seahawks|
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) The red zone turned into the dead zone for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
The Panthers managed just six points in three trips inside the Seattle 20 and lost 13-9, their third defeat to the Seahawks here in three years.
"When you get inside the five, you got to scratch, claw, spit, grit, find a way," Newton said. "It's the offense, executing, gritting your teeth and saying, `We got two yards to go. We got one yard to go and you know, hell or high water we got to get it."'
A dropped pass in the end zone by rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin and a turnover off a fumbled exchange between Newton and Jonathan Stewart on a read option play were costly. The Panthers settled for Graham Gano's two field goals.
The missed opportunities eventually caught up to the Panthers when Russell Wilson connected on a 23-yard touchdown pass to Luke Wilson with 47 seconds left for the go-ahead score, helping the Seahawks snap a two-game losing streak.
Carolina came into the game ranked 23rd in the league in red zone offense, converting 52 percent of its trips into touchdowns.
The Panthers only led 6-3 at halftime despite reaching inside the Seattle 13, 1 and 8 on their first three possessions.
Newton also threw a second half interception when he flipped the ball forward while trying to avoid a sack. That took his team out of field goal range at the Seattle 34.
"It's tough when you don't score touchdowns and miss opportunities," coach Ron Rivera said. "You have to make hay down in the red zone."
Newton ran 12 times for 24 yards and was sacked three times. He was limited to 12 of 22 passing for 171 yards with one interception.
In three games against the Seahawks, Newton has only thrown for 437 yards and one touchdown while being sacked eight times. It ended when Newton bounced a pass in front of running back Jonathan Stewart on fourth-and-25.
The fourth-year quarterback sa
|Oct 27, 2014|| Earnhardt wins at Martinsville Speedway|
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (AP) Dale Earnhardt Jr. won at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday a week after he was eliminated from the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
Jeff Gordon was second, giving Hendrick Motorsports a 1-2 finish on the 10-year anniversary weekend of the fatal plane crash that killed owner Rick Hendrick's son and nine others aboard.
Gordon was the highest finishing Chase driver. Without a Chase driver in Victory Lane, no driver clinched an automatic berth in the championship finale at Homestead.
Chase driver Ryan Newman was third, and Tony Stewart finished fourth. Chase drivers Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth were fifth and sixth.
Stewart gambled and stayed on the track after the race was red-flagged with 10 laps left. Earnhardt and Gordon pitted, and that one final stop was just enough for the milestone finish. Earnhardt got his fourth win of the season.
|Oct 27, 2014|| Brady throws 5 TDs, Patriots rout Bears 51-23|
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Tom Brady threw five scoring passes and the streaking New England Patriots crammed three touchdowns into the last two minutes of the first half, cruising to a 51-23 win over the staggering Chicago Bears on Sunday.
New England (6-2) scored on all five of its possessions in the half - and one of Chicago's - on its way to its fourth straight win. The Bears (3-5) fell behind 45-7 early in the second half and lost for the fourth time in five games.
In one of the best statistical games of his brilliant career, Brady completed 30 of 35 passes for 354 yards. He threw three scoring passes to Rob Gronkowski and one each to Tim Wright and Brandon LaFell.
Defensive end Rob Ninkovich scored with 55 seconds left in the first half on a 15-yard return of Jay Cutler's fumble.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL
|Oct 27, 2014|| Roethlisberger throws 6 TDs as Steelers top Colts|
PITTSBURGH (AP) Ben Roethlisberger set franchise records with 522 yards passing and six touchdowns and the Pittsburgh Steelers raced by the Indianapolis Colts 51-34 on Sunday.
Roethlisberger's yardage total was the fourth highest in NFL history. He became the first player to go over 500 yards passing twice as the Steelers (5-3) won consecutive games for the first time this season.
Antonio Brown caught 10 passes for 133 yards and two scores. Heath Miller caught seven passes for 112 yards and the clinching TD with 5:14 remaining.
Andrew Luck passed for 400 yards and three touchdowns, but also threw two interceptions. He handed the Steelers a safety when he was called for intentional grounding in the end zone midway through the fourth quarter as the Colts saw their five-game winning streak end spectacularly.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL
|Oct 27, 2014|| Brees, Saints blow past Packers, 44-23|
NEW ORLEANS (AP) Deflated in Detroit one week. Sublime in the Superdome the next.
And just like that, Drew Brees and the suddenly resurgent New Orleans Saints have first place in the NFC South division within their immediate grasp.
Brees completed 27 of 32 passes for 311 yards and three touchdowns, New Orleans' defense produced big plays in the clutch and the Saints ended the Green Bay Packers' four-game winning streak, 44-23 on Sunday night.
"It's been a long time coming," Brees said. "Obviously, we've had our fair share of struggles early on here. We've lost some heart-breakers. All we talked about all week long is just coming together as a team and playing a complete game as a team. ... It was a perfect representation of that."
Rookie receiver Brandin Cooks had a 50-yard touchdown catch and a 4-yard scoring run, and tight endJimmy Graham caught a touchdown pass. The Saints (3-4) pulled even in victories with Carolina (3-4-1), setting up a Thursday night showdown for first place in the NFC South.
Aaron Rodgers, intercepted only once in Green Bay's first seven games, was picked off twice on tipped passes and sacked three times. He still passed for 418 yards, including a 70-yard touchdown pass toRandall Cobb, but it was not nearly enough to prevent the Packers (5-3) from falling a game behind NFC North leader Detroit.
Rodgers, who also complained of a sore hamstring, called the Packers' performance "uncharacteristic of our team and myself."
"Just taking points
|Oct 27, 2014|| Cardinals OF Taveras dies in car accident in DR|
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras, a 22-year-old slugger who was regarded as one of the majors' top prospects, died Sunday in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic.
Taveras was driving a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro at the time of the crash on a highway between the beaches of Sosua and Cabarete in Puerto Plata, about 215 miles north of the capital of Santo Domingo, said Col. Diego Pesqueira of the Metropolitan Transportation Agency.
"He wasn't carrying documents at the time of the accident, but his body was identified by family members," Pesqueira said.
National police spokesman Jacobo Mateo Moquete said he was told by the mayor of Sosua that Taveras lost control of his vehicle and went off the road. Edilia Arvelo, 18, who was in the car with Taveras, also died in the accident, said Pesqueira.
Taveras made his major league debut this year. He hit .239 with three homers and 22 RBIs in 80 games for the NL Central champions.
"I simply can't believe it," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said in a release. "I first met Oscar when he was 16 years old and will forever remember him as a wonderful young man who was a gifted athlete with an infectious love for life who lived every day to the fullest."
Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said the organization was "stunned and deeply saddened" by Taveras' death.
"Oscar was an amazing talent with a bright future who was taken from us well before his time," DeWitt said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends tonight."
Taveras was a teenager when he signed with St. Louis as an international free agent in 2008. Before this season, Taveras was ranked as the No. 3 overall prospect by MLB.com and Baseball America, and had a.321 average over six minor league seasons.
He homered against the Giants' Yusmeiro Petit in his major league debut on May 31. He also had a big solo drive in the seventh i
|Oct 27, 2014|| Crawford helps Giants move to brink of title|
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Brandon Crawford thought back to 2002, when he was 15. He's pretty sure he sat in the stands for a World Series game in San Francisco, though he's not sure which one.
He remembers the Giants leaving town with a 3-2 Series lead, bursting ahead 5-0 in the seventh inning of Game 6 in Anaheim and then losing the title to the Angels in seven games.
"Hopefully it comes out better than it did back then," he said. "I was depressed for a couple days."
The hometown kid played a key role in moving the Giants within one win of their third title in five years, driving in three runs to back Madison Bumgarner's four-hitter in Sunday night's 5-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals that put San Francisco ahead 3-2.
Known as having the best hair on the team, with bouncing brown curls framing his beard and mustache, Crawford was selected by the Giants in the fourth round of the 2008 amateur draft. It was a perfect fit.
He grew up in Pleasanton, about 40 miles from San Francisco, and played lots of baseball in his family's yard.
"I imagined myself as all different sorts of players, usually Giants," he said. "Royce Clayton was my guy when I was a little kid."
Born in 1987, he thinks he was only a few months old when he was taken to his first big league game.
"Going to Candlestick and having it cold and windy," he said. "I didn't really care."
These days the Giants' video board shows a photo of him attending a game when he was just a few years old.
Crawford made quite an entrance in the major leagues: a go-ahead, seventh-inning grand slam off Shaun Marcum in a 5-4 win at Milwaukee on May 27, 2011. That made him the sixth player to hit a slam in his big league debut.
By the end of that season, he had displaced Miguel Tejada, Orlando Cabrera and Mike Fontenot as the Giants' starting shortstop.
Not a strong hitter - he's batted .246 to .248 in each of his three full seasons - Crawford
|Oct 26, 2014|| Cooper leads No. 4 Alabama past Tennessee, 34-20|
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Amari Cooper caught nine passes for a school-record 224 yards and scored two touchdowns to help No. 4 Alabama beat Tennessee 34-20 on Saturday night for its eighth consecutive victory in the series.
This game marked a return to Neyland Stadium for Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, who coached Tennessee in 2009 and angered Volunteers fans by leaving for Southern California after only one season. Kiffin's offense produced touchdowns on four of its first five series - including Cooper's 80-yard touchdown catch on Alabama's first play from scrimmage - as the Crimson Tide (7-1, 4-1 SEC) raced to a 27-0 lead.
Tennessee (3-5, 0-4) got back into the game thanks to quarterback Joshua Dobbs, who provided a spark after entering the game on Tennessee's third possession. Dobbs helped the Vols cut the lead to 27-17 in the third quarter before Alabama's Derrick Henry stopped Tennessee's momentum with a 28-yard touchdown run.
Cooper's 224 yards receiving broke the school single-game record set by Julio Jones, who had 221 yards receiving in a 41-10 victory over Tennessee in 2010. By the end of the first quarter, Cooper already had five catches for 185 yards and two touchdowns.
The biggest suspense leading into the game was how the sellout crowd of 102,455 would treat Kiffin.
As fans tailgated before the game, a plane flew overhead with the message "Go Vols Beat Kiffin." One banner hanging from a parking garage featured Tennessee coach Butch Jones' face along with the message "Lane Kiffin? Never Heard of Her." At a rock on campus where students often paint various messages, the faces of Jones and Kiffin were featured with the word "future" by Jones and a crude remark next to Kiffin. Hours before the opening kickoff, all references to Kiffin on the rock were blacked out.
Alabama's team arrived at Neyland Stadium amid heavy security, but about 80 percent of the 1,000 or so fans who gathered to watch Alabama's
|Oct 26, 2014|| No. 13 Ohio State beats Penn State 31-24 in 2OT|
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) Quarterback J.T. Barrett scored twice in overtime to help No. 13 Ohio State escape with a 31-24 double-overtime victory over Penn State on Saturday night.
The Buckeyes (6-1, 3-0 Big Ten) built a 17-0 lead and were cruising when Penn State defensive tackle Anyhony Zettel intercepted Barrett's pass and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Christian Hackenberg threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Saeed Blacknall early in the fourth, and Penn State (4-3, 1-3) tied it on Sam Ficken's 31-yard field goal with 9 seconds left in regulation.
In the first overtime, Penn State tailback Bill Belton took a direct snap from the Wildcat formation and scored on a 10-yard run. The Buckeyes countered when Barrett carried two straight times, the first for 17 yards and the second 5 yards for a touchdown.
Penn State was called for a personal foul on the touchdown, giving Ohio State the ball at the 12 to start the second overtime. With a third-and-2 from the 4, Barrett powered through the middle of Penn State's defense for a touchdown. Joey Bosa sacked Penn State's Hackenberg on a fourth-and-5 play to end the game.
Ezekiel Elliott ran for 109 yards on 26 carries for Ohio State, and Barrett added 75 yards on 20 attempts. The Buckeyes have won five straight games and 19 in a row in the conference.
Hackenberg was 31 of 49 for 224 yards and a touchdown. DaeSean Hamilton set a Penn State record with 14 catches for 126 yards.
|Oct 26, 2014|| DT McCoy signs 7-year deal with Bucs|
Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has signed a seven-year extension with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers worth $98 million, making McCoy the highest-paid player at his position.
McCoy, a 2013 All-Pro, will get $51.5 million guaranteed, the most ever given to a defensive tackle in NFL history. His new deal will average $14 million per year.
Including his current salary for 2014, McCoy would make $111 million over the eight-year period.
The deal was concluded Saturday by McCoy's agent, Ben Dogra, and Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht.
"Gerald is extremely excited to remain with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and he is especially thankful to Bucs owners, coaches, and Jason Licht for working so hard throughout the process," Dogra said.
McCoy is in his fifth NFL season and comes off his best year, when he had 9 1-2 sacks and 35 tackles. He is considered the anchor of Tampa Bay's rebuilding defense.
The Buccaneers (1-5) have struggled this year, allowing 204 points, the most in the league. But McCoy is among the league's best defensive tackles, often drawing double teams. He has played part of this season with a cast on his broken left hand.
Now, McCoy has long-term security in Tampa and can begin working on getting the Bucs into the postseason, something he has never experienced.
"That's eating away at me, man," the 6-foot-4, 300-pound McCoy said this summer. "I do all this training and preparing, trying to do what I can for my team for us to get to the playoffs. I just want to experience it."
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL
|Oct 26, 2014|| No. 24 LSU upends No.3 Mississippi, 10-7|
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) Bo Wallace's pass was intercepted by Ronald Martin in the final seconds, and No. 3 Mississippi lost for the first time this season, 10-7 to 24th-ranked LSU on Saturday night.
Ole Miss was lining up for a potential tying field goal from 42 yards, but was called for delay of game. So the Rebels decided to run a play instead and Wallace threw his first interception in a Southeastern Conference game this season.
Soon after, fans were streaming onto the Tiger Stadium field.
Leonard Fournette ran for 113 yards, and LSU (7-2, 3-2) finished with 264 yards rushing against defense that came in allowing 97.1 per game. Anthony Jennings' short touchdown pass to tight end Logan Stokes gave LSU the lead late in the fourth quarter.
Mississippi (7-1, 4-1) led most of the way, but mainly because LSU turned the ball over four times and missed a short field goal.
|Oct 26, 2014|| Petit's clutch relief carries Giants bullpen again|
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Yusmeiro Petit bounced off the mound pumping his fists and shouting "Let's go!"
The right-hander from Venezuela certainly has found his swagger this October as a lights-out long man who delivers in the clutch game after game, inning after inning.
He did it again Saturday night for the San Francisco Giants, pitching three scoreless innings of relief against the Kansas City Royals in an 11-4 victory that tied the World Series at two games apiece.
Petit came oh-so-close to throwing a perfect game in 2013 - now he's a perfect 3-0 this postseason. He entered in the fourth inning of Game 4 with the Giants trailing 4-2 and held Kansas City in check while his teammates rallied.
"I know my job is very important because I have to hold them and allow our hitters to come back," Petit said. "In every round I feel more and more confident."
The unsung star of the San Francisco pitching staff keeps adding memorable moments to a breakout season that's made him one of the game's most versatile arms.
Even if much of the baseball world might struggle to pronounce his first and last name (use-MARE-o peh-TEET), he's sure making a name for himself this month.
Ryan Vogelsong's short night meant a long one for the San Francisco bullpen. And it worked out fine, thanks to another gutsy performance by Petit and his fellow relievers.
Petit has thrown 12 scoreless innings of relief over three postseason outings this year. He has allowed four hits and struck out 13.
Pretty dominant numbers for a pitcher who was left out of the playoff rotation.
This is the same guy who already set a major league record this season by retiring 46 consecutive batters over eight appearances, six in relief, from July 22 to Aug. 28.
Moved into the rotation in late August to replace struggling right-hander Tim Lincecum, the 29-year-old Petit has dazzled almost every time he has taken the mound in his first postseason.
|Oct 25, 2014|| 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 R
|Oct 25, 2014|| 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
|Oct 25, 2014|| 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
|Oct 25, 2014|| 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 h
|Oct 25, 2014|| 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.
|Oct 25, 2014|| 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
|Oct 25, 2014|| 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."
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 Finnega