The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram » Sports http://www.pressherald.com Sat, 27 Aug 2016 01:18:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.3.5 Commentary: Harbaugh loves tactics, and not just on the field http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/26/commentary-harbaugh-loves-tactics-and-not-just-on-the-field/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/26/commentary-harbaugh-loves-tactics-and-not-just-on-the-field/#comments Sat, 27 Aug 2016 00:42:55 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/26/commentary-harbaugh-loves-tactics-and-not-just-on-the-field/ PARAMUS, N.J. — When the president of Paramus Catholic High in a northeastern corner of New Jersey decided to hold a football recruiting camp, he didn’t expect it to be a particularly complex endeavor.

But Jim Vail made one significant oversight: He didn’t realize that having Jim Harbaugh there, and also inviting Michigan’s football coach to deliver the school’s commencement address the next day, would spark commotion beyond his imagination.

Tumult seems to follow Harbaugh and it often works for him. What happened in New Jersey a few months ago provided a glimpse into how his bombastic style can court controversy, attract a national audience and dominate a sports news cycle.

The reaction to his appearance at Paramus Catholic began before he even showed up. Rutgers, a Big Ten Conference rival, viewed Michigan’s invitational into its backyard as a betrayal, a way to steal local recruits. Ohio State, Michigan’s archrival, teamed up with Rutgers for a competing camp nearby.

It didn’t matter. Harbaugh and Michigan was the big draw. Hundreds of youngsters signed up for the Paramus camp, more than the school was expecting.

Then, Vail recalled, “We had that incident the night before.”

A Rutgers secret society vandalized Paramus Catholic’s fields, then released a statement declaring “war” on Harbaugh and Michigan.

Who knew that chaos could be great for business?

Journalists from 30 to 40 media outlets, including the New York Times and ESPN, covered the event. Some 650 campers and coaches from about 45 schools attended.

If not for the swirl ignited by Harbaugh and Michigan, Vail concluded, “we might have had a couple hundred.”

This is the most well-known of Harbaugh’s recruiting tactics, in which he or assistants swarm the country, invading other schools’ territories. They are called “satellite camps,” possibly a misnomer, implying that Harbaugh is orbiting the college football world when in fact it’s been the other way around.

Among recruits, Michigan has “become kind of the cool, hip school,” said Brandon Huffman, national director of recruiting for Scout.com. “And that’s almost 100 percent attributed to Harbaugh.”

Harbaugh is considered among the best football minds in college or the NFL – Michigan had a record of 10-3 in his first season, up from 5-7 the year before – but his approach to coaching tends to the conservative.

His rebellious side comes out in recruiting, and he has changed the way college programs operate. Harbaugh’s innovations come at a rapid speed, and some explore the boundaries of NCAA rules, but they all share the same aim: to stay in the news and therefore in the consciousness of top recruits.

That approach, Huffman said, has made Michigan a recruiting powerhouse.

Harbaugh was among the first to employ a football creative director, devoted to targeting recruits with slick, shareable social media graphics. (Michigan did, however, lose a recruit this week over a mistakenly sent thank-you card.) Michigan’s satellite camps dominate offseason discussions and have blown up the recruiting calendar.

A season that once extended from mid-April to the end of May has now metastasized to June, with multiple camps each day spanning the country. Assistant coaches are effectively compelled to attend.

“This is where Harbaugh has rankled some folks because he’s making people work, and not just his own coaches,” Huffman said.

Harbaugh’s tactics feed a sports media machine that in many regions depends on college football for revenue. During the barren offseason, Harbaugh delivers. An abbreviated list of Harbaugh’s extracurricular activities include:

n A Twitter beef with Ohio State’s athletic director (among others).

n Slumber parties at recruits’ houses.

n Naming Michael Jordan an honorary captain for Michigan’s season opener.

n Throwing a signing-day gala, live streamed on Derek Jeter’s the Players’ Tribune, that featured guests such as Jeter, Tom Brady, former WWE wrestler Ric Flair, NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski, former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz, Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard and ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay.

Recently he starred in a rap video.

“My default is usually ‘yes.’ Action,” Harbaugh said at last month’s Big Ten Media Days, explaining the rap video. “Why not? And the reaction has been very good. I’ve gotten multiple texts, phone calls, comments from people that really liked it. And I think the cool people liked it.”

Paul Finebaum, the Southern radio personality, has called Harbaugh “the Donald Trump of college football.”

Harbaugh’s antics are calculated. Paramus Catholic has been a fruitful recruiting target for Michigan, producing three current Wolverine players, including two of the program’s best recruits in recent years.

To keep the pipeline pumping, Michigan added Paramus Catholic Coach Chris Partridge to its staff. Paramus also was invited to play its season opener at Michigan Stadium – legal under NCAA rules, though Harbaugh is not allowed to attend.

And then there was the camp and speech in June.

Harbaugh has all but dared the NCAA to change its rules. Responding to Finebaum’s Trump comparison, Harbaugh told the Detroit Free Press, “The thing I like about Donald Trump is he’s not afraid to fight the establishment.”

One day, Vail told Harbaugh, “If the speed limit is 50 miles an hour and you’re driving 50 miles an hour consistently, are you complying with the law or pushing the law?

“He kind of liked that,” Vail said.

So far, governance has failed to rein in the coach. An April vote of conference commissioners to ban satellite camps was overturned by the NCAA board of governors, after USA Today reported the U.S. Department of Justice had begun an informal inquiry into the ban.

Other coaches have adopted some of Harbaugh’s tactics. Teams have beefed up their social media and graphics departments. Satellite camps have flourished.

Rutgers Coach Chris Ash admitted that he wished he was the one giving Paramus Catholic’s graduation speech.

After Harbaugh delivered the address, a large scrum of reporters asked Vail why he went through all the trouble.

“You’re all here,” he said. “Doesn’t this prove my point?”

It later was suggested to Vail that he sounded a lot like Harbaugh.

He did not disagree.

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Major league roundup: Scherzer silences Orioles for Nationals http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/26/major-league-roundup-scherzer-silences-orioles-for-nationals/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/26/major-league-roundup-scherzer-silences-orioles-for-nationals/#comments Fri, 26 Aug 2016 04:11:55 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/26/major-league-roundup-scherzer-silences-orioles-for-nationals/ WASHINGTON — Max Scherzer allowed two hits over eight innings and Bryce Harper’s two-run double Thursday night helped the Washington Nationals avoid a four-game home-and-home sweep with a 4-0 victory against the Baltimore Orioles.

Scherzer (14-7) struck out 10 and didn’t walk a batter. He retired 12 straight after Adam Jones’s fourth-inning double and 21 of 22 before Mark Trumbo’s leadoff single in the eighth.

Jayson Werth’s solo home run staked Washington to a 1-0 lead. Daniel Murphy’s RBI double in the eighth came before Harper’s second hit helped the Nationals pull away.

The Nationals had lost four straight, including three in a row to the Orioles, who won twice in Baltimore before the teams shifted to Washington.

ROYALS 5, MARLINS 2: Alcides Escobar homered and drove in two runs to lead Kansas City at Miami.

Salvador Perez and Kendrys Morales also drove in runs for the Royals, who have won 15 of 18 to pull within four games of the second AL wild-card spot.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

TIGERS 8, TWINS 5: James McCann had a three-run homer among his four hits, Daniel Norris pitched into the seventh inning and Detroit completed a sweep at Minneapolis for the Twins’ seventh straight defeat.

Norris (2-2) struck out five in 61/3 innings, allowing six hits without a walk in his longest and strongest start this season. He took a shutout in the sixth, surrendering RBI singles by Robbie Grossman and Eduardo Escobar over his last two innings.

ANGELS 6, BLUE JAYS 3: Albert Pujols reached the 100-RBI mark for the 13th time, the fifth player in history to achieve the feat, Mike Trout had three hits and drove in four runs, and Los Angeles won at Toronto.

Jered Weaver pitched 52/3 innings to snap a three-start losing streak as the Angels won consecutive games for the first time since Aug. 2-3 and prevented J.A. Happ from becoming the first 18-game winner in the majors.

RANGERS 9, INDIANS 0: Cole Hamels allowed two singles over eight innings for his 14th victory as the AL-best Rangers won at Arlington, Texas, in the opener of a four-game series matching division leaders.

Hamels (14-4) retired 19 straight batters after Francisco Lindor’s solid two-out single to left in the first. The only other baserunner for the Indians was Carlos Santana after a leadoff hit in the eighth, though he was stranded at second after advancing on a passed ball.

WHITE SOX 7, MARINERS 6: Todd Frazier tied it with an RBI single in the seventh inning and won it with a line drive down the left-field line in the ninth to lift Chicago at home.

Adam Eaton led off the ninth with a bloop single off Nick Vincent (3-4) and went to second on Tim Anderson’s sacrifice. Jose Abreu was walked intentionally before Frazier’s liner over third scored Eaton, leading to a pileup of players behind the pitcher’s mound.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

METS 10, CARDINALS 6: Alejandro De Aza homered and drove in five runs to lead New York at St. Louis.

PIRATES 3, BREWERS 2: Andrew McCutchen hit a home run and a pair of RBI singles, including the tiebreaker in the 10th inning as Pittsburgh stopped a nine-game skid at Miller Park in Milwaukee.

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Golf roundup: Reed, Laird lead at Barclays http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/golf-roundup-reed-laird-lead-at-barclays/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/golf-roundup-reed-laird-lead-at-barclays/#comments Fri, 26 Aug 2016 03:54:03 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/golf-roundup-reed-laird-lead-at-barclays/ FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — Patrick Reed didn’t break anything Thursday except par.

Two days after Reed broke the gavel during the ceremonial closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange, the American kept a clean card and shot 5-under 66 to share the lead with Martin Laird at The Barclays.

Reed was dressed in a blue blazer with an American flag tie when he was asked to bang the gavel three times at the stock exchange closing on Tuesday. On the third hit, the top of the gavel flew off into the crowd.

Reed later made a joke at his own expense on Twitter.

“They told me to give it 3 good hits, so I did!” he tweeted.

He was much better with a golf club in hand at Bethpage Black, running off three birdies and an eagle on the front nine to close out his 66.

The start of the FedEx Cup playoffs, with a $10 million bonus waiting at the end, was more about a cup that doesn’t pay a dime. A dozen or so Americans are still in the mix to make the Ryder Cup team. Qualifying ends after this week for the top eight, and then Davis Love III has four captain’s picks over the next month.

Reed is winless this year and holding down the No. 8 position in the Ryder Cup standings.

“Of course it’s on my mind,” Reed said. “But really at the end of the day, it’s just trying to get better and play this tournament. Because if I play well, that means those other guys are going to have to play even better to try to catch me.”

Reed and Laird, who also played bogey-free, were one shot ahead of three other Ryder Cup hopefuls – Rickie Fowler, Kevin Chappell and J.B. Holmes, whose 67 was the best score among those who played in stronger wind in the afternoon. Defending champion Jason Day, the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, was among those at 68.

Of the 18 players who broke 70, five played late.

Chappell likely would have to win The Barclays to make the Ryder Cup team, while Fowler needs at least a two-way tie for fourth to have a mathematical chance. Fowler went from Rio de Janeiro for the Olympics to North Carolina for the Wyndham Championship to help his cause, but only tied for 22nd.

“That’s the No. 1 priority coming into the year,” Fowler said. “I’d say that’s always one of the main goals coming into a Ryder Cup year. Even in the off year, you’re thinking about it. That was the whole reason playing last week, trying to get more points. It would be nice to have a chance to make that team without having to get picked.”

Holmes dropped to No. 9 last week. He has made his points mainly through the majors – a tie for fourth at the Masters, third at the British Open – but as he got closer to making the team, the pressure has increased. He has missed the cut in his last three events, and he couldn’t afford another one.

LPGA: Three-time champion Lydia Ko was back on the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open leaderboard with a a 5-under 67 at Priddis (Alberta) Greens in the round delayed for nearly three hours because of lightning, leaving her two strokes behind leader Chella Choi.

Choi was 7 under with four holes left. Celebrating her 26th birthday, the South Korean player made consecutive birdies on the par-5 18th and first holes, and also birdied the par-4 second and fourth.

Stephanie Meadow of Northern Ireland was a stroke back after a 66.

France’s Karine Icher – playing alongside Choi – was 6 under with four holes left.

Ko has won the event three of the last four years, the first two as an amateur. The 19-year-old New Zealander has four LPGA Tour victories this season, winning the ANA Inspiration for her second major title.

EUROPEAN TOUR: Tom Lewis flirted with the first 59 in tour history, then made three late bogeys and settled for a 9-under 62 and a share of the Made In Denmark lead.

Lewis made a 45-foot eagle putt on the par-5 fourth hole to reach 12 under through 13 holes at Himmerland Golf and Spa Resort in Farso. He needed to play even par over the last five holes for a 59.

He bogeyed the next hole and closed with two more bogeys to drop into a tie for the lead with Belgium’s Thomas Pieters and Sweden’s Joakim Lagergren.

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Sports Digest: Federer, Nadal to team up in new tournament http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/sports-digest-federer-nadal-to-team-up-in-new-tournament/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/sports-digest-federer-nadal-to-team-up-in-new-tournament/#comments Fri, 26 Aug 2016 02:55:22 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/sports-digest-federer-nadal-to-team-up-in-new-tournament/ TENNIS

Federer, Nadal to challenge the world – as a team

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have played against each other 34 times, including in 21 tournament finals. But for the first time, though, the rivals are set to play with each other, as doubles teammates in a tournament pitting Europe against the world.

The inaugural Laver Cup, named for Australian great Rod Laver, is planned for September 2017 in Prague, with a format similar to golf’s Ryder Cup.

The tournament will have 12 matches, nine singles and three doubles, played over three days. Each side will have six players, four based on the world rankings after Wimbledon, and two captain’s picks, announced after the U.S. Open.

CONNECTICUT OPEN: Defending champion Petra Kvitova needed just an hour Thursday night to beat Ekaterina Makarova 6-3, 6-1 and move into the semifinals at New Haven, despite suffering from a cold.

Agnieszka Radwanska, Elina Svitolina and Johanna Larsson also advanced.

WINSTON-SALEM OPEN: John Millman upset top-seeded Richard Gasquet 7-5, 6-3 in North Carolina to reach his first ATP World Tour semifinal.

Pablo Carreno Busta, Roberto Bautista Agut and Viktor Troicki also advanced.

COLLEGES

WOMEN’S SOCCER: Kaitlyn Ball, Nicole Bailey and Theresa Gosch each scored a goal to lead the University of Maine to a 3-0 win over Holy Cross at Orono.

Ball also had two assists for the Black Bears (3-0).

Annalena Kriebisch made seven saves against the Crusaders (1-2) to record her second shutout of the season.

JURISPRUDENCE

SHARPER SENTENCING: A Louisiana judge formally imposed a 20-year prison sentence on former NFL star Darren Sharper, who last week was sentenced by a federal judge to 18 years and four months in a drug and rape case with victims in four states.

Defense attorney Billy Gibbens said that the two sentences are essentially the same, when credit for time served and other factors are considered.

BASEBALL

LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES: Zach McWilliams hit a go-ahead grand slam in the fourth inning, RJ Moore struck out five in two relief innings and Goodlettsville, Tennessee, beat Bowling Green, Kentucky 8-4 for a spot in the U.S. championship game.

Seum Kwon had two home runs and three RBI, Sangheon Park struck out nine and South Korea beat Mexico 7-0 to reach the international final.

HOCKEY

NHL: The Colorado Avalanche hired Jared Bednar as their new head coach, replacing Patrick Roy, who abruptly stepped down earlier this month.

The 44-year-old Bednar won the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup championship last season as coach of the Lake Erie Monsters, the Columbus Blue Jackets’ affiliate.

The Arizona Coyotes acquired prospect Lawson Crouse and injured veteran Dave Bolland – and his hefty contract –from Florida for two draft picks. The Panthers will receive a 2017 third-rounder and a conditional 2018 second-rounder that could become another 2017 third.

TRACK AND FIELD

DIAMOND LEAGUE: Olympic 100-meter champion Elaine Thompson took center stage in the absence of her Jamaican teammate Usain Bolt in the first meet after the Olympics.

Thompson timed 10.78 seconds with a slight tailwind at Lausanne, Switzerland – just .07 shy of her time in Rio.

 

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Sea Dogs down Trenton, 4-3 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/sea-dogs-down-trenton-4-3/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/sea-dogs-down-trenton-4-3/#comments Fri, 26 Aug 2016 02:05:35 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/sea-dogs-down-trenton-4-3/ The comparison is entirely unfair, but Mauricio Dubon is putting up Mookie Betts-type numbers with the Portland Sea Dogs.

Dubon, 22, went 3 for 4 with a home run, RBI double and single Thursday night to lead Portland to a 4-3 win over the Trenton Thunder at Hadlock Field.

Betts was 21 when he began the 2014 season in Portland. He batted .355 with 18 doubles, three triples and six home runs in 54 games before his promotion to Triple-A.

Dubon, in 52 games with the Sea Dogs since his promotion from Class A Salem, is batting .337 with 17 doubles, six triples and five home runs.

“He’s been money since Day 1,” said Manager Carlos Febles, who also managed Dubon in Salem last year. “He’s a thousand-times better hitter than what I saw last year (.274).

“He stays back (with the bat) and his hands are working pretty good. The ball jumps off his bat. He’s been impressive.”

Dubon doesn’t receive much hype, playing in the shadow of Boston’s stellar young players (including Betts), but he’s having a breakout year.

“I’m just keeping things simple,” Dubon said. “Last year I tried (quick fixes) when I struggled. Now when I go 0 for 4 I try to learn from it … And I’m definitely stronger from last year. I worked out a lot in the offseason and it’s paying off.”

Dubon’s double off reliever Caleb Smith (2-5) scored Tzu-Wei Lin to break a 3-3 tie in the seventh. Earlier he swatted a curveball over the left-field wall off Trenton starter Ronald Herrera.

Sea Dogs starter Mitch Atkins (5-7) struck out 10 and took over the Eastern League lead with 132, allowing three runs on seven hits over seven innings.

Luis Ysla allowed a walk and single in the ninth but escaped for his third save.

Nate Freiman had two RBI for Portland (52-76), both on groundouts.

Yoan Moncada (1 for 4) singled in the first and scored, also striking out twice.

Mark Payton’s two-run homer and Dustin Fowler’s RBI triple produced the runs for Trenton (81-50).

NOTES: Lin, normally a middle infielder, played the outfield for only the second time. … The announced paid attendance was 5,072. … One of those fans was Mike Davis of Falmouth, who was the Sea Dogs’ 9-millionth fan in the team’s 23rd season. … The Sea Dogs will announce their Hall of Fame inductees before Friday’s game. … Also, the first 1,000 fans will receive a Sea Dogs baseball card set. … The annual and popular Field of Dreams game is at 6 p.m. Saturday. Only 90 tickets remain. … Almost 600 tickets remain for Sunday’s 1 p.m. game, the final home game of the season.

In Eastern League news, league president Joe McEacharn announced that Hartford could lose its franchise if its stadium isn’t completed soon. The Hartford Yard Goats, formerly the New Britain Rock Cats, had to play on the road all year because of stadium construction delays and legal issues. McEacharn didn’t give an exact deadline for the stadium to be completed, nor specify where the Yard Goats would move if the stadium wasn’t ready.

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Major league notebook: Former All-Star catcher heads to Dodgers http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/major-league-notebook-former-all-star-catcher-heads-to-dodgers/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/major-league-notebook-former-all-star-catcher-heads-to-dodgers/#comments Fri, 26 Aug 2016 01:21:48 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/major-league-notebook-former-all-star-catcher-heads-to-dodgers/ LOS ANGELES — The NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers acquired Carlos Ruiz from Philadelphia in a trade of backup catchers Thursday, getting a popular player with a world of postseason experience.

The Phillies also sent $1 million to the Dodgers for A.J. Ellis, minor league pitcher Tommy Bergjans and a player to be named or cash.

Ruiz, 37, was hitting .261 with three home runs and 12 RBI in 48 games, playing behind Cameron Rupp. Ruiz has done well lately, batting .340 (16 for 47) since the All-Star break.

Ruiz was an All-Star in 2012 and Phillies fans loved to call out his nickname – “Chooch” – when he delivered big hits. He got many of them for Philadelphia, batting .353 with two homers and five RBI in 11 World Series games.

Overall, Ruiz played 46 games in the postseason with the Phillies, and helped them win five NL East titles.

DODGER STADIUM will host the championship game of the 2017 World Baseball Classic, with Marlins Park and Petco Park also holding games leading up to the final on March 22.

Brazil, Britain, Israel and Pakistan will play qualifiers Sept. 22-25 at the home of the Brooklyn Cyclones minor league team.

NATIONALS-ATHLETICS: Washington acquired left-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski from Oakland for minor league infielder Max Schrock.

The A’s also sent cash to Washington.

MARINERS: Seattle activated left-hander James Paxton following a stint on the 15-day disabled list with a bruised elbow.

The Mariners opened a roster position for Paxton by designating left-hander Wade LeBlanc for assignment.

RANGERS: Carlos Gomez, a former All-Star outfielder, joined Texas five days after signing a minor league deal with the AL West leader.

Outfielder Drew Stubbs was designated for assignment to make room on the roster.

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Putin denounces Paralympic ban http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/putin-denounces-paralympic-ban/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/putin-denounces-paralympic-ban/#comments Fri, 26 Aug 2016 01:01:26 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/putin-denounces-paralympic-ban/ MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin attacked the ban on his country from the Rio de Janeiro Paralympics as immoral and inhumane on Thursday, while six Russian athletes launched a bid to compete at next month’s games as individuals.

Russia was suspended on Aug. 7 over what International Paralympic Committee president Philip Craven called a “medals over morals” culture with evidence of state-sponsored doping. The ban was confirmed Tuesday when the Court of Arbitration of Sport rejected a Russian appeal.

“The decision to disqualify our Paralympians is outside the bounds of law, morality and humanity,” Putin said at an award ceremony for Olympic athletes at the Kremlin. He called the ruling against Russia “cynical” and claimed that “it even humiliates those who take such decisions.”

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the ban “collective responsibility for an unproven crime.” While Russia has accepted there were some shortcomings in its anti-doping system, it insists drug use was not systemic or supported by the government.

The Paralympics start Sept. 7. On Thursday, six Russian athletes, including three gold medalists, wrote to IPC president Craven asking for a route into the games as individuals.

“I strongly believe that real perpetrators of the dirty system must be punished and banned from sport. I do not want to lose to cheaters and I don’t want to compete with cheaters, even Russians,” says the letter, which was provided to The Associated Press by Andrei Mitkov, an agent representing the six. “However even more strongly I believe that innocent people should not suffer for actions of cheaters that tried to deceive clean athletes of the world.”

The athletes, who say they have been repeatedly tested outside Russia and found clean, asked for the IPC to provide criteria that could allow some Russians to compete if they can show they are clean. The approach is similar to the one that allowed U.S.-based Russian long jumper Darya Klishina to compete at the Rio Olympics when the Russian team was banned.

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Commentary: U.S. goalkeeper was undone by one too many incidents http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/commentary-u-s-goalkeeper-was-undone-by-one-too-many-incidents/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/commentary-u-s-goalkeeper-was-undone-by-one-too-many-incidents/#comments Fri, 26 Aug 2016 00:55:15 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/commentary-u-s-goalkeeper-was-undone-by-one-too-many-incidents/ On Wednesday night, U.S. Soccer made the call to suspend goalie Hope Solo, the anchor of so many of America’s successful women’s World Cup and Olympic teams, for six months for the ugly and unsportsmanlike move of calling Sweden’s players “a bunch of cowards” after their upset of the U.S. team in Rio de Janeiro.

It was an easy move, one convenient as well as appropriate. More significant is that the federation’s decision to terminate her contract, which may well signal that Solo has played her final game for the U.S.

In announcing the federation’s decision, the U.S. Soccer president, Sunil Gulati, noted that Solo’s history, which includes other controversial statements – as well as a pending case of alleged domestic violence involving two of her relatives – and a previous suspension by U.S. Soccer for an incident involving the team’s van, played a part in the decision.

“The comments by Hope Solo after the match against Sweden during the 2016 Olympics were unacceptable and do not meet the standard of conduct we require from our national team players,” Gulati’s statement said. “Beyond the athletic arena, and beyond the results, the Olympics celebrate and represent the ideals of fair play and respect. We expect all of our representatives to honor those principles, with no exceptions.

“Taking into consideration the past incidents involving Hope, as well as the private conversations we’ve had requiring her to conduct herself in a manner befitting a U.S. national team member, U.S. Soccer determined this is the appropriate disciplinary action.”

Solo tweeted that her contract was terminated, too, but aside from the embarrassment for someone who is one of the country’s loftiest women’s soccer stars, there isn’t much teeth to the suspension, as Julie Foudy – with whom Solo has tangled – pointed out. With the World Cup and Olympic revenue streams behind, the women’s team has only two friendlies on its schedule for 2016.

“Solo essentially missing nothing w #USWNT & allowed to play w @SeattleReignFC, which US Soccer pays for,” Foudy, a star on the national team from 1988-2004 and now an ESPN commentator, tweeted. “More symbolic than substantive.”

While Solo has compiled staggering career statistics, the Rio Olympics showed that her skills or dedication may be waning and by the time of the 2019 World Cup, her 38th birthday will be fast approaching and there’s a sense it may be time for the women’s team to find its next great goalkeeper.

If Solo isn’t the world’s best female goalkeeper any more, keeping her on the national team isn’t worth the headache for U.S. Soccer.

“This was a no-brainer PR move involving a 35-year-old who had likely already played her final Olympic and World Cup match,” Matt Calkins of the Seattle Times wrote, referring to her as “the wart that keeps growing back.”

“If character came before championships, we would have seen reprimands that actually jeopardized the USWNT’s chances on the field. That was always too much to ask.”

Like U.S. Soccer, her teammates have to be weary of being left to speak for her and find the delicate balance between supporting a teammate while refusing to condone her behavior. Solo’s preferred means of communication is emails to reporters so teammates, such as Alex Morgan, were left to speak about the “cowards” comment.

“I saw her comments but I feel like those are opinions I don’t share,” Morgan told USA Today. Megan Rapinoe, in an NBC interview, said she was “really disappointed” to learn of Solo’s remarks.

For Solo, poor decision-making always seems to come after she takes a step toward rehabbing her reputation. During the 2007 World Cup, for instance, she ripped Greg Ryan, the national team’s coach then, for replacing her in goal with Briana Scurry and said he was living in the past. During the London Olympics in 2012, she went after Brandi Chastain, one of the team’s iconic stars, for her commentary, tweeting she felt “bad 4 our fans that have 2 press mute” when she speaks.

At times Solo has shown signs of maturity and an awareness that she’s more than just an athlete. But those moments have been trumped by troubling off-the-pitch troubles. U.S. Soccer suspended her for 30 days in January 2015 after she was a passenger in a team van driven by her husband, Jerramy Stevens, when he was cited for driving under the influence during training in Los Angeles. That was during the lead-up to the World Cup, when Solo’s skills were unquestioned.

“Hope made a poor decision that has resulted in a negative impact on U.S. Soccer and her teammates,” Ellis said in a statement at that time. “We feel at this time it is best for her to step away from the team.”

That pales, though, next to an alleged domestic violence incident that resulted in fourth-degree assault charges involving her half-sister and nephew in June 2014 and remains pending in Washington state courts.

Among the ugly details of that incident, ESPN reported that an intoxicated Solo, when asked to remove a necklace by police, told an officer that her necklace cost more than his annual salary. Solo has described the incident as “traumatic and embarrassing,” and called herself a victim in a February 2015 interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“I’m not going to go into all of the details but it was a scary night,” she said then. “I was a victim of domestic violence at the hands of my 17-year-old nephew, who is 6-foot-9, 280 pounds. I was struck over the head and concussed pretty severely. It was a very scary night.”

Of late Solo has sought to speak as a soccer statesman, only to trip herself up afterward. She and other women’s players filed a lawsuit against the soccer federation, alleging that they were paid nearly four times less than male national team members but generated more revenue. Solo (along with her teammates) also has spoken out forcefully about inferior field conditions that women face.

Then she managed to insult Brazilians over the Zika crisis, saying she would go to Brazil but would not leave her hotel room. She compounded her message by tweeting photos of herself armed to the teeth against mosquitoes.

Was it any wonder she was overwhelmed with “Zika” chants by irked Brazilians?

Solo, who will receive three months’ severance pay, now will spend the next few months playing for the Seattle Reign in the NWSL; neither the team nor the league has responded to inquiries about her status. And she awaits resolution of her court case.

In the immediate aftermath of Wednesday’s suspension, she shows a determination to remain true to herself no matter the cost.

“For 17 years I dedicated my life to the U.S. Women’s National Team and did the job of a pro athlete the only way I knew how – with passion, tenacity, an unrelenting commitment to be the best goalkeeper in the world, not just for my country, but to elevate the sport for the next generation of female athletes,” she tweeted. “In those commitments, I have never wavered. And with so much more to give, I am saddened by the Federation’s decision to terminate my contract.

“I could not be the player I am without being the person I am, even when I haven’t made the best choices or said the right things. My entire career, I have only wanted the best for this team, for the players and the women’s game and I will continue to pursue these causes with the same unrelenting passion with which I play the game.”

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NFL notebook: Newton expected to play extensively http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/nfl-notebook-newton-expected-to-play-extensively/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/nfl-notebook-newton-expected-to-play-extensively/#comments Fri, 26 Aug 2016 00:38:18 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/nfl-notebook-newton-expected-to-play-extensively/ Quarterback Cam Newton, last season’s most valuable player in the NFL, will see his most extensive playing time of the preseason Friday night for the Carolina Panthers against the New England Patriots.

Coach Ron Rivera said Newton and the rest of the starters from last year’s NFC championship team will play into the third quarter. Newton has played sparingly in the first two exhibition games, leading five drives culminating in one touchdown and two field goals.

Patriots Coach Bill Belichick hasn’t disclosed his plans but it’s expected Jimmy Garoppolo will start at quarterback and see most of the reps to get ready for the regular season. Tom Brady, the first-string quarterback, is suspended for the first four games for his role in Deflategate.

PITTSBURGH LINEBACKER James Harrison and Green Bay defensive players Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers met this week with NFL investigators looking into allegations linking them to performance-enhancing drugs, the players’ union said.

Matthews and Peppers met with league representatives Wednesday and Harrison did so Thursday.

CHARGERS: A day after the taking its contract dispute with rookie defensive end Joey Bosa public, San Diego Coach Mike McCoy had nice things to say about the former Ohio State star.

“I think everybody understands the business side to this,” McCoy said Thursday. “He loves the game, he plays with passion. … We all want him here.”

Bosa, the only first-rounder who has not signed with his team, has missed all of training camp as his agents and the team wrangle over how much of his $17 million signing bonus he’ll get up front, as well as offset language in case he gets cut.

The Chargers said Wednesday they pulled their contract offer and said they would restructure a new deal that would reflect him playing less than a full season.

LIONS: Detroit cut running back Stevan Ridley, who it signed in April, hoping he would bolster its depth in the backfield after releasing Joique Bell.

Ridley started in one game and played in eight more for the New York Jets last season and ran for just 90 yards.

He had 1,263 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns in 2012 with the New England Patriots.

A Miami federal judge refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed by New York Giants lineman Jason Pierre-Paul against ESPN over disclosure of his medical records from a 2015 fireworks accident.

The case is set for an August 2017 trial. Pierre-Paul was hospitalized in Miami after the Fourth of July accident, which caused serious injury to his right hand. The lawsuit claims ESPN and a network reporter violated his privacy and Florida medical confidentiality laws by posting the records on social media.

The network argued the records merely bolstered a news report.

BRONCOS: Julie Brooks, a spokeswoman for the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, told The Denver Post a “brazen” thief carrying a bright orange cowboy hat stole a team helmet worth $400 during a crowded autograph session after practice July 31.

The man was in a group of people interacting with the player when he stole the helmet and passed it off to a second man wearing a No. 18 jersey.

The player, who hasn’t been identified, had set the helmet on the ground next to him.

JOHN ELWAY, Bruce Arians and Tom Coughlin were added to the powerful competition committee.

RAIDERS: Backers of a proposed NFL stadium said they’ve whittled their list to two sites just west of the Las Vegas Strip and refuse to accept any less than $750 million in public funding toward the project, which they hope will soon be home to the Raiders.

“Not to be difficult, but we’re not negotiable,” said the Sands president, Rob Goldstein, who spoke on behalf of billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his family.

“If we can’t get 750, we respectfully thank you but we’re going to move on.”

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Hawaiian eyes a spot as Patriots linebacker http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/hawaiian-eyes-a-spot-as-patriots-linebacker/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/hawaiian-eyes-a-spot-as-patriots-linebacker/#comments Fri, 26 Aug 2016 00:26:14 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/hawaiian-eyes-a-spot-as-patriots-linebacker/ FOXBOROUGH Mass. — Five-thousand miles, six time zones and one lofty goal separate Kamu Grugier-Hill from family and friends in his native Hawaii.

When the rookie linebacker arrives at Gillette Stadium – 5:30 a.m. most days – he sometimes thinks about how his buddies might still be out on the town or his relatives are getting ready to call it a night. He misses Honolulu but is focused and committed to the task at hand.

That would be to go from being a sixth-round draft choice in May to making the Patriots’ 53-man roster in September.

“I’ll have the rest of my life to go back,” Grugier-Hill said earlier this week. “I have to take care of business right now so it’s not on my mind, to be honest.”

Based on his play in training camp and the preseason, Grugier-Hill has positioned himself to close the deal.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Eastern Illinois alum – he was a college teammate of Jimmy Garoppolo for two years – was a two-year starter and four-year contributor. The playmaking linebacker ranked 16th in the nation with 161/2 tackles for a loss and second on the team with 61/2 sacks as a senior.

The Patriots liked Grugier-Hill’s certified productivity and potential versatility to draft him with the 208th overall selection. They haven’t been disappointed even as he’s been thrust into a new, hybrid role.

Grugier-Hill is listed on the roster and has lined up as a linebacker. But he’s also been deployed as an in-the-box safety along with contributing on all four special teams units.

“So it’s different than what he did in college,” Coach Bill Belichick said. “But he’s a smart kid, he’s athletic, he’s got a good work ethic, he’s been a very dependable player for us on a daily basis.

“(Just) coming in, knowing what to do, being prepared, working hard to do it, correcting his mistakes, moving on to the next day. All those kinds of things that are good qualities to have. And he’s making a lot of progress, so we’ll see where it goes.”

Grugier-Hill combined for three tackles on defense and three tackles on special teams in the first two exhibition games. He also batted down a pass and served as the defensive signal-caller for a spell.

In the process, he’s gone from being a definite long shot to a likely sure shot to make the team. Not that he’s given much thought to remaining employed in New England after this month.

“I don’t really pay attention to that kind of stuff,” Grugier-Hill said. “The way I am, the way my confidence is and my mentality is, I’m going to come in here every day and work. Put my best foot forward and most of the time, you just have to work hard, and it just kind of ends up being OK.”

Grugier-Hill, 22, has come a long way, in terms of distance and development, in a short time.

Soccer was his sport before he lost interest as a teen. Then, prior to his junior year of high school, a friend suggested he try football.

Grugier-Hill made the Kamehameha High varsity but only played in a couple of games before having a breakout senior season. From there it was on to Eastern Illinois and now New England, where he has started to feel more at ease.

“I feel a lot more comfortable when it’s all said and done, but there’s really no time for comfortable,” Grugier-Hill said. “I just have to go out there every day and prove what I can do and keep working.”

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Commentary: Awkward situation for Patriots quarterbacks http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/commentary-awkward-situation-for-patriots-quarterbacks/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/commentary-awkward-situation-for-patriots-quarterbacks/#comments Fri, 26 Aug 2016 00:25:51 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/commentary-awkward-situation-for-patriots-quarterbacks/ Tom Brady is lobbying for reps in a preseason game that’ll be a dusty memory by the time he plays in a for-real game on Oct. 9 in Cleveland.

Is this a preview of coming attractions – when The Greatest Quarterback of All Time finally, inevitably, starts limping around like David Ortiz?

It’s a delicate topic. Brady is 39 years old, but he looks younger – and plays younger. He takes care of himself, from the weight training and cardio to the avocado ice cream and getting into bed before Jimmy Fallon is on.

Patriots fans want Brady to keep on keeping on, except that he won’t, and that’s something nobody wants to hear – including the man himself, if recent events are any indication.

Consider what’s going on these days in Foxborough, with Brady getting ever closer to the day when he must answer Roger Goodell’s decree that he clean out his locker for four games … with Jimmy Garoppolo getting ever closer to the day when, for those four games, he will be the team’s No. 1 quarterback.

Brady was ready to play in last week’s preseason game against Chicago despite suffering a small cut to his right thumb that has been thoroughly examined by thousands of make-believe doctors ever since close-up photos of the injured digit were posted on the internet. He missed two practice days for what was termed an “excused absence” but then bounded into the interview room Tuesday like Michael Douglas in “The American President” for an unannounced press conference. Brady never did come right out and say, “This is a time for serious people, Jimmy, and your 15 minutes are up. My name is Tom Brady, and I am the quarterback of the New England Patriots,” but …

When asked if he’d like to play in tomorrow night’s preseason game against the Carolina Panthers, Brady said: “Absolutely. I like to be out there every time I get a chance to play. You only get so many opportunities a year. I’m getting (only) so many opportunities left in my life, so I’d like to take advantage of any and all of them if possible.”

That’s what Brady is thinking?

Now?

That he has only so opportunities left – in his life – to play football?

The problem here is that Jimmy Garoppolo has only so many opportunities to prepare himself for a one-month trial run as the Patriots quarterback. And it can’t be easy. Though unfailingly diplomatic (“He’s been nothing but helpful,” Garoppolo said of Brady), the third-year man did make a somewhat revealing comment when asked how he manages to show leadership as the No. 1 quarterback while being “deferential” to the reality that Brady will return as top dog come Week 5.

“It’s a tough situation at times, but you can’t worry about that too much,” he said. “It’s one of those things where if you start worrying about that, then you can’t focus on whatever it is – your reads, your checks, whatever it may be. You just have to go about your business the same way you always have.

“I’m not trying to do something crazy and do something I’ve never done before. I’m trying to be myself and do what I do.”

Should Brady be getting reps tomorrow night when the first-stringers are on the field? Let’s begin here: If there’s one thing we’ve learned from Bill Belichick through the years, it’s that the only game that matters is the next game.

Belichick doesn’t trifle with putting money away for a rainy day. He’s not about global warming, or running out of oil, or worrying how his favorite original Netflix series is going to turn out when he’s still watching Episode 1.

He’s been beating his players over the head with this for 16 years, and, hence, his players have been beating up us – fans, media, everyone – about it.

Back when Rosevelt Colvin was playing for the Pats, I wanted to do a big Sunday story on what it was going to be like to play in an upcoming game against the Colts in Indianapolis, his hometown. The problem was that the game was a couple of weeks away, and as Colvin told me, “We’re only focusing on the next game.” So I waited a week, at which time Colvin happily told me his old war stories about selling popcorn at the RCA Dome.

The next game on the schedule for the 2016 Patriots is Friday against Carolina. That’s the game the Patriots are preparing for, not Oct. 9 against the Browns, and that’s why Jimmy Garoppolo needs to be on the field.

This shouldn’t be complicated. Yet it is.

And you have to wonder if we’ll be revisiting this topic in a year or two, or three, or …

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Olympic notebook: Lochte officially charged by Rio police http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/olympic-notebook-lochte-officially-charged-by-rio-police/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/olympic-notebook-lochte-officially-charged-by-rio-police/#comments Thu, 25 Aug 2016 23:55:04 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/olympic-notebook-lochte-officially-charged-by-rio-police/ RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian police charged American swimmer Ryan Lochte with filing a false robbery report over an incident during the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

A police statement Thursday said Lochte will be informed in the United States so he can decide whether to introduce a defense in Brazil. The indictment will be sent to the International Olympic Committee’s ethics commission.

Lochte initially said he and fellow swimmers Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz and Jimmy Feigen were robbed at gunpoint in a taxi by men with a police badge as they returned to the Olympic Village from a party. But security video suggested the four actually faced security guards after vandalizing a gas station restroom.

Lochte has since acknowledged he was highly intoxicated and his behavior led to the confrontation.

Rio police began questioning two of Ireland’s top Olympic executives in a Summer Games ticket-scalping probe that has already ensnared the highest official.

Olympic Council of Ireland’s team leader, Kevin Kilty, and chief executive, Stephen Martin, arrived at police headquarters wearing the Ireland team uniform.

“We are here to fully cooperate. That’s all I can say at the moment,” Kilty said.

Secretary General Dermot Henihan spoke to investigators Tuesday but they ruled out his involvement in the scheme, saying there was no evidence that indicated wrongdoing on his part.

But Rio police suspect that the highest-ranking members of the OCI plotted with businessmen to help transfer tickets to an unauthorized vendor who would sell them for high fees disguised as hospitality services.

The National Olympic Committee of Kenya was disbanded by the government amid investigations into alleged mismanagement of the country’s team at the Rio Olympics.

Those problems included a new doping scandal, ineligible athletes, missing plane tickets, and bad blood between the track and field federation and the national Olympic committee.

Despite the problems, Kenya had its best Olympic performance in Rio, winning six golds, six silvers and a bronze medal, and finishing 15th overall in the gold medal table.

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Westbrook grandmother makes history, conquers jellyfish in 21-mile swim http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/westbrook-swimmer-makes-history-despite-the-jellyfish-stings/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/westbrook-swimmer-makes-history-despite-the-jellyfish-stings/#comments Thu, 25 Aug 2016 23:34:05 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/westbrook-swimmer-makes-history-despite-the-jellyfish-stings/ Pat Gallant-Charette, a 65-year-old grandmother from Westbrook, has become the oldest woman to swim across the North Channel from Northern Ireland to Scotland.

She is only the 41st person to complete the 21-mile swim, according to records compiled by the Irish Long Distance Swim Association.

Gallant-Charette took up open-water distance swimming in her early 40s, competing first in the 2.4-mile Peaks to Portland race in 1997. Since then, she has conquered the English Channel, Catalina Channel, Strait of Gibraltar and Tsugaru Channel in Japan. Those marathon swims, along with her accomplishment Wednesday, are part of her quest to complete the Oceans Seven Challenge, which involves crossing a channel from each of the seven continents.

On Wednesday, while battling nausea, jellyfish stings and water temperatures that averaged 55 degrees, she made the North Channel crossing in 14 hours, 22 minutes.

“It’s generally considered the most difficult swim in the world,” Gallant-Charette said by phone Thursday afternoon from Donaghadee, Northern Ireland. “Water temperatures are almost 10 degrees colder than the English Channel, and they won’t even look at you (for a crossing attempt) unless you’ve had a successful English Channel swim.”

MEDICATION CONTROLLED NAUSEA

Wednesday was her third attempt at the North Channel, where official crossing rules prohibit the use of wetsuits. Two years ago, she swam within half a mile of the Scottish shore before the tide turned and pulled her back out to sea. Last year, during her assigned two-week window, high winds prevented her from beginning the swim.

“So I was bound and determined to get this,” she said. “It was an exciting finish because there’s a small lighthouse (in Portpatrick, Scotland) and if you go past that, the swim is (impossible to finish). I made it just before the start of the increased tides.”

A month earlier, Gallant-Charette failed in her attempt to set a record as the oldest woman to swim the English Channel. More than 10 hours into the effort, she aborted the swim in large part because of nausea. On Wednesday, she wore a patch behind her ear with prescription medication.

“Instead of vomiting 400 times like I did in the English Channel,” she said, “I got sick maybe 10 times.”

When conditions are calm in the Irish Sea – as they were Wednesday – large Lion’s Mane jellyfish are everywhere. Gallant-Charette said her first encounter came in the first minute of her pre-dawn departure from Donaghadee and continued until she reached Portpatrick at dusk.

“There’s so many, you just plow right through them,” she said. “I got stung over every inch of my body.”

About halfway through the day, a jellyfish attached itself to her goggles. She could clearly see the dome, which she compared in size to a dinner plate. Shaking her head failed to dislodge the creature, so Gallant-Charette brushed away the brown tentacles, grabbed the dome and yanked it off her face.

“Last year there was a swimmer in the hospital for three days because of toxic effects from the stings,” she said.

She said one of two men who attempted the crossing Thursday gave up because of jellyfish stings. Gallant-Charette took some Benadryl during her swim because her lips began to swell.

Pat Gallant-Charette holds an American flag on the shore of Donaghadee, Northern Ireland, Thursday to celebrate her crossing of the North Channel of the Irish Sea the previous day. She left from Donaghadee and swam to Scotland. Photo by Tom Charette

Pat Gallant-Charette holds an American flag on the shore of Donaghadee, Northern Ireland, Thursday to celebrate her crossing of the North Channel of the Irish Sea the previous day. She left from Donaghadee and swam to Scotland. Photo by Tom Charette

“It does sting, but I can usually tolerate a lot of discomfort,” she said. “It was interesting to see the bottom part of that dome, just to see the tentacles coming out and knowing they were all over my face.”

Several gulls also followed her progress, with one paddling behind her for nearly five hours. She took nourishment every hour in the form of instant cream of wheat (maple flavor) mixed with warm water and a nutritional powder rich in complex carbohydrates.

Because of strong currents, she wound up swimming 26 miles – a distance second only to her 33-mile swim in Japan. As for the chilly temperatures, training off Pine Point in Scarborough beginning in early May gets her acclimated.

‘SHE’S AN ABSOLUTE INSPIRATION’

Gallant-Charette, who retired from her job as a nurse last November, started the Oceans Seven Challenge about three years ago. Each attempt is expensive – “This one probably cost me about $11,000,” she said – so she can afford only one or two per year. After aborting her English Channel crossing last month, she started a Facebook group for open-water swimmers called Disappointed but not Defeated.

“She’s a perfect witness to never giving up,” said Annie Smith, 25, of Freeport, a training partner who made it halfway across the English Channel in July. “She’s an absolute inspiration.”

The two remaining crossings in her Oceans Seven Challenge are the Cook Strait in New Zealand and the Molokai Channel in Hawaii. She’s already been to New Zealand twice, the first time waiting two weeks in vain for high winds to subside, and the second swimming for 10 hours – including three in an eddy while making no progress – before being pulled out of the water.

On Thursday, she sent an email to the organizers of the New Zealand crossing. She plans to save Molokai for last, perhaps next October.

“They have sharks,” she said.

 

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Brazilian police charge Ryan Lochte with filing false robbery report http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/brazilian-police-charge-ryan-lochte-with-filing-false-report/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/brazilian-police-charge-ryan-lochte-with-filing-false-report/#comments Thu, 25 Aug 2016 22:40:23 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/brazilian-police-charge-ryan-lochte-with-filing-false-report/ RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazilian police charged American swimmer Ryan Lochte on Thursday with filing a false robbery report over an incident during the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

A police statement said Lochte would be informed in the United States so he could decide whether to introduce a defense in Brazil.

The indictment will also be sent to the International Olympic Committee’s ethics commission, the statement said.

Lochte initially said that he and fellow swimmers Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz and Jimmy Feigen were robbed at gunpoint in a taxi by men with a police badge as they returned to the Olympic Village from a party Aug. 15. However, security video suggested the four actually faced security guards after vandalizing a gas station restroom.

Lochte left Brazil shortly after the incident. Three days later, local authorities took Conger and Bentz off an airliner heading to the United States so they could be questioned about the robbery claim. They were later allowed to leave Brazil, as was Feigen, after he gave testimony. Feigen, who initially stood by Lochte’s testimony, was not charged.

Lochte has since acknowledged that he was highly intoxicated and that his behavior led to the confrontation. It is not clear from the video whether a gun was ever pointed to the athletes.

Under Brazilian law, the penalty for falsely filing a crime report carries a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison. Lochte could be tried in absentia if he didn’t return to face the charge.

The United States and Brazil have an extradition treaty dating back to the 1960s, but Brazil has a long history of not extraditing its own citizens to other nations and U.S. authorities could take the same stance if Lochte is found guilty.

That is currently the case of the head of Brazil’s football confederation, Marco Polo del Nero, who faces charges in the wide-ranging scandal entangling international soccer’s ruling body, FIFA. He has not travelled outside Brazil for more than a year to avoid being arrested by U.S. authorities somewhere else.

The charges in Brazil raise questions about the future for Lochte, who is planning to take time off from swimming but wants to return to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. He has 12 Olympic medals, second only to Michael Phelps among U.S. male Olympians.

Lochte lost four major sponsors early this week over the controversy, including Speedo USA and Ralph Lauren. But on Thursday he picked up a new sponsor – Pine Bros. Softish Throat Drops. Pine Bros. said people should be more understanding of the swimmer and said he will appear in ads that say the company’s product is “Forgiving On Your Throat.”

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Patriots acquire former sixth overall pick Mingo http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/hedyyy-hryeyy-heydy-hryey-heyd-hreyy/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/hedyyy-hryeyy-heydy-hryey-heyd-hreyy/#comments Thu, 25 Aug 2016 20:39:28 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/hedyyy-hryeyy-heydy-hryey-heyd-hreyy/ CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns have traded disappointing linebacker Barkevious Mingo to the New England Patriots in exchange for a 2017 fifth-round pick.

The teams announced the deal on Thursday.

The Browns selected Mingo with the No. 6 pick in 2013. The former LSU standout has recorded just seven sacks in three seasons and spent much of last season on special teams.

Mingo’s size – 6-foot-4, 240 pounds – and speed have made him intriguing, but none of Cleveland’s coaching staff has found the best way to utilize him. The Browns moved the 25-year-old Mingo from outside linebacker to inside earlier this summer.

Cleveland declined to exercise the team’s fifth-year option on Mingo’s rookie contract in May. With the trade of Mingo, left tackle Joe Thomas and cornerbacks Joe Haden and Justin Gilbert are the only first-round selections by Cleveland from 2007 to 2014 that are still with the team.

The Browns now own Philadelphia’s 2017 first-round pick, Tennessee’s 2017 second-round pick, New England’s 2017 fifth-round pick, Indianapolis’ 2017 seventh-round pick and Philadelphia’s 2018 second-round pick.

It is the second move New England has made this week after dealing center Bryan Stork to Washington.

While the Browns have had trouble finding somewhere to play Mingo, he has shown a diverse skillset while registering 97 career tackles and seven sacks in 46 career games.

The Patriots don’t have a great deal of depth behind veteran linebackers Dont’a Hightower, Jaime Collins and Jonathan Freeny, so Mingo could possibly make an impact there.

There’s also an opportunity for him playing on the outside, with two of the Patriots’ pass rushers that were projected to have key roles this season – Rob Ninkovich and Jabaal Sheard – working their way back from recent injuries.

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Rays slip past Red Sox, 2-1, to split series http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/rays-slip-past-red-sox-2-1/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/rays-slip-past-red-sox-2-1/#comments Thu, 25 Aug 2016 20:13:54 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/rays-slip-past-red-sox-2-1/ ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Not even David Ortiz could help the Boston Red Sox overcome missed opportunities in the final game of a long trip away from Fenway Park.

Enny Romero relieved with two outs in the ninth inning and fanned the Red Sox slugger to give the Tampa Bay Rays a 2-1 win Thursday and a four-game split with the Red Sox.

A day earlier, the 40-year-old Ortiz reached 30 home runs and 100 RBI. Ortiz was rested for the final day of an 11-game road trip that saw Boston go 7-4. The Red Sox, who began the day tied with Toronto for the AL East lead, lost the final two games of the series.

“There are times you look back, today being one of them, that you could have capitalized on situations and had a different outcome,” Boston Manager John Farrell said.

After Mookie Betts put the Red Sox up 1-0 on a sacrifice fly in the sixth, Jake Odorizzi (9-5) avoided a big inning by getting an inning-ending double play from Jackie Bradley Jr. with the bases loaded.

Tyler Sturdevant struck out Hanley Ramirez and Bradley to begin the ninth, and Romero was summoned. Romero sent Ortiz to the ground with a high-and-tight 1-2 fastball, then got him to look at strike three.

“Ortiz is one of the best hitters I’ve faced in my career,” Romero said. “I throw a cutter and he takes it.”

Mikie Mahtook ended a stretch of 34 hitless at-bats with a go-ahead double in the seventh off Drew Pomeranz (10-10), who is 2-3 since being traded from San Diego to Boston.

“It was a relief,” Mahtook said.

Odorizzi (9-5) improved to 6-0 in eight starts since the All-Star break. He gave up one run and five hits in seven innings.

Betts was thrown out by Mahtook from left field trying to stretch a single into a double in the eighth.

Pomeranz struck out a career-high 11 in six-plus innings.

“Our starting rotation has done a great job,” Pomeranz said. “Little things here and there, a little bad luck sometimes has made the difference in games. But we’re playing well, we’ve had a good road trip and now we’re going home.”

Tampa Bay tied it at 1 in the bottom of the sixth when Evan Longoria doubled and scored on Brad Miller’s single. Miller has 31 RBI since the All-Star break.

NOTES: Andrew Benintendi (left knee sprain) was put on the 15-day disabled list. Farrell is hopeful the rookie will return before the season ends. “There’s nothing I can do about it now, so I’ll wait until the tests come back,” Benintendi said. “I’m going to try to stay as positive as I can.” … LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (left hamstring) felt fine after a bullpen session and will start Sunday against Kansas City. … RHP Clay Buchholz, who was moved out of the bullpen for three starts due to injuries, will return to a relief role. … Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia has a hit in 12 straight games against the Rays. He went 3 for 4 Thursday and had seven hits in 16 at-bats over the four-game series.

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U.S. soccer team suspends Hope Solo for calling Swedes ‘cowards’ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/u-s-soccer-team-suspends-hope-solo-for-calling-swedes-cowards/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/u-s-soccer-team-suspends-hope-solo-for-calling-swedes-cowards/#comments Thu, 25 Aug 2016 14:24:13 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/25/u-s-soccer-team-suspends-hope-solo-for-calling-swedes-cowards/ CHICAGO — U.S. women’s goalkeeper Hope Solo was suspended Wednesday for six months by U.S. Soccer for disparaging comments about Sweden following the Americans’ early departure from the Rio Olympics.

Solo called the Swedes “a bunch of cowards” for focusing on defense rather than attacking the three-time defending champion U.S. team. Sweden ousted the U.S. 4-3 on penalty kicks following a 1-1 draw in a quarterfinal match.

U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said Solo’s comments were “unacceptable and do not meet the standard of conduct we require from our National Team players.”

“Beyond the athletic arena, and beyond the results, the Olympics celebrate and represent the ideals of fair play and respect,” Gulati said. “We expect all of our representatives to honor those principles, with no exceptions.”

The 35-year-old Solo, who was previously suspended for 30 days early in 2015 for her conduct, will not be eligible for selection to the national team until February.

Solo said she was “saddened” by the decision in a statement on her Facebook page.

“I could not be the player I am without being the person I am, even when I haven’t made the best choices or said the right things,” she said. “My entire career, I have only wanted the best for this team, for the players and the women’s game and I will continue to pursue these causes with the same unrelenting passion with which I play the game.”

Solo was a lightning rod during the Olympic tournament, irking fans in Brazil when she posted a photo on social media of herself covered with mosquito netting and armed with insect repellent. Fans booed her mercilessly and hollered “Zika!” each time she kicked downfield.

Then she caused a stir with her “cowards” comment.

Sweden’s coach, Pia Sundhage, who led the U.S. team to gold medals in Beijing and London, replied by stating: “It’s OK to be a coward if you win.”

Solo has been making headlines throughout her stellar career.

Last month, she became the first goalkeeper with 100 international shutouts when the United States defeated South Africa 1-0 at Soldier Field in Chicago. It also was her 150th career win.

Solo won her second straight Golden Glove Award for the best goalkeeper at the Women’s World Cup a year ago. Over the course of the tournament in Canada, she had five shutouts and allowed only three goals in seven games.

She has vocally advocated for women’s rights. Solo was among the U.S. players who filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for wage discrimination, saying the men’s national team players have been paid much more than many on the women’s team.

More recently, she has called for better conditions for players in the National Women’s Soccer League.

She has also been trying to avoid trial on misdemeanor domestic violence charges after a 2014 incident at her sister’s home, when the goalkeeper was accused of being intoxicated and assaulting her sister and 17-year-old nephew. Solo said she was a victim in the altercation. Earlier this year, an appeals court in Washington state rejected Solo’s request to avoid trial.

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Major league roundup: Miami wins to stop streak by Royals http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/major-league-roundup-miami-wins-to-stop-streak-by-royals/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/major-league-roundup-miami-wins-to-stop-streak-by-royals/#comments Thu, 25 Aug 2016 03:46:10 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/major-league-roundup-miami-wins-to-stop-streak-by-royals/ MIAMI — Jose Fernandez pitched seven innings and appeared to avoid a serious injury when he tweaked his right leg on his final pitch Wednesday night, helping the Miami Marlins beat Kansas City 3-0 to snap the Royals’ nine-game winning streak.

Fernandez (13-7) pulled up after striking out Christian Colon to end the seventh and rubbed his right knee before limping to the dugout.

ASTROS 5, PIRATES 4: Evan Gattis hit a two-run homer and Carlos Correa got two hits and scored twice, leading Houston to a win at Pittsburgh.

ORIOLES 10, NATIONALS 8: Baltimore closer Zach Britton saw his remarkable streak of 43 straight games without allowing an earned run end, then shut down a ninth-inning rally in a win at Washington.

The Nationals scored five times in the ninth, one of them charged to Britton. But after his own mistake helped Washington put runners on first and second with one out, Britton got Ryan Zimmerman to hit into a double play.

RANGERS 6, REDS 5: Yu Darvish hit only the second homer by a Texas pitcher and Adrian Beltre hit a tiebreaking double in the eighth inning for a split of their two-game interleague series at Cincinnati.

PHILLIES 5 WHITE SOX 3: Tommy Joseph and Cesar Hernandez homered to back Jerod Eickhoff in a win at Chicago.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

YANKEES 5, MARINERS 0: Rookie Gary Sanchez kept up his torrid stretch with his seventh home run in the past nine games, and Masahiro Tanaka won his fourth straight start for visiting New York.

Tanaka (11-4) threw seven shutout innings and got the better of his former Japan League teammate Hisashi Iwakuma (14-9).

The Yankees took 2 of 3 from the Mariners, one of the teams they’re chasing in the AL wild-card race.

Sanchez homered into the second deck in left field in the first inning on the first pitch from Iwakuma, his ninth home run in 18 games since joining the lineup Aug. 3.

ATHLETICS 5, INDIANS 1: Kendall Graveman pitched into the seventh inning to become host Oakland’s first 10-game winner this season.

The A’s took 2 of 3 games from the AL Central leaders, who had swept a three-game set from Oakland in July. Cleveland went into the day with the best record in the American League, but was held to one run for the third consecutive game.

ANGELS 8, BLUE JAYS 2: Albert Pujols moved into sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time list by hitting his 584th home run, Matt Shoemaker pitched six shutout innings and Los Angeles snapped an 11-game road losing streak with a victory at Toronto.

Pujols finished 4 for 4 with three RBI.

TIGERS 9, TWINS 4: Miguel Cabrera had four hits, including his 28th home run, and Justin Upton added a three-run homer for visiting Detroit.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

CUBS 6, PADRES 3: Major league ERA leader Kyle Hendricks pitched six effective innings and Chicago finished off a three-game sweep with a win at San Diego. Hendricks (12-7) gave up two runs and four hits, striking out eight and leaving with a 2.19 ERA.

CARDINALS 8, METS 1: Matt Carpenter, Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty homered off Mets starter Jacob deGrom, powering St. Louis to a win at home.

BREWERS 7, ROCKIES 1: Ryan Braun hit two home runs and host Milwaukee tied a season high with its fourth straight win.

 

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Baker irked to go 0 for 3 – on replay reviews http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/baker-irked-to-go-0-for-3-on-replay-reviews/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/baker-irked-to-go-0-for-3-on-replay-reviews/#comments Thu, 25 Aug 2016 03:20:13 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/baker-irked-to-go-0-for-3-on-replay-reviews/ Major League Baseball’s replay system has peeved Dusty Baker on various occasions this season, but the Washington Nationals manager never had the frustration boiled like in an 8-1 loss to the Orioles at Camden Yards Tuesday night.

The Orioles were the beneficiaries of three replay reviews in the first three innings. Each time the original ruling was in Washington’s favor and each time the original ruling was overturned. The first two times, Trea Turner was initially ruled safe stealing second base before the call was reversed. In the third instance, Adam Jones was originally retired at first base for a third out before the call was overturned to extend the Orioles’ half of the third inning.

At one point, cameras caught Baker mouthing his displeasure with vocabulary unsuitable for family television. His frustration surely derived from having three verdicts not go his way, but Baker explained that the process itself, not the final rulings, annoyed him the most.

“Number one, I just think it takes too long,” Baker said. “It takes too long and they’ve gotta do something to correct the length of time. Maybe after 30 seconds if they’re inconclusive, then come up with whatever the umpire said.”

Baseball’s replay system has a glaring loophole: There is no formal time limit to request a challenge. Without a deadline to worry about, teams nearly always stall until someone in the clubhouse with access to a television relays whether to challenge the play or not to the manager.

Sometimes the decisions are made quickly. Sometimes they’re not. On Tuesday, the Orioles waited over a minute to notify the umpires they were challenging Turner’s second steal attempt, further slowing down a game that was already crawling at a snail’s pace. By the time the umpires had received the verdict from the league’s replay center in New York, Turner was already by the Nationals’ dugout because he knew he was out.

“Don’t care for it too much,” Turner said. “I don’t think I or we or anybody on this side has really benefit from it, so for that reason I don’t really care for it.”

There has been a total of 1,177 reviews across the majors this season through Tuesday and 50.1 percent of the plays been overturned, according to Major League Baseball. Umpires have initiated 142. Managers have requested the other 1,035. The Nationals have challenged 34 calls this season. The average time for a review is one minute, 40 seconds. There have been 39 challenges against rulings in their favor, according to Baseball Savant. Of the 39, 22 have been overturned.

The Nationals found no luck on their recent nine-game road trip: Opponents went 6 for 6 on challenges, while Washington went 0 for 2. Frustration peaked Tuesday.

“The thing about it, is that it sort of makes a point of why do we need umpires, if you’re going to dispute everything that they say?” Baker said. “I don’t know. I’m kind of new this year to replay, but it’s tough to lose three of them. I don’t think anybody’s ever lost three of them. To me, it doesn’t make the umpires look very good. I just hope they correct this.”

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Ortiz hits 30th homer, but Red Sox lose to Rays in 11 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/ortiz-hits-30th-homer-but-red-sox-lose-to-rays-in-11/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/ortiz-hits-30th-homer-but-red-sox-lose-to-rays-in-11/#comments Thu, 25 Aug 2016 03:14:45 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/ortiz-hits-30th-homer-but-red-sox-lose-to-rays-in-11/ Bidding to become the majors’ first 18-game winner, Rick Porcello allowed Evan Longoria’s tying homer in the eighth before leaving with 7 2/3 innings pitched. It was Longoria’s 30th homer.

Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval has started doing defensive drills as part of his rehab program following season-ending left shoulder surgery in May.

Sandoval joined his teammates for Wednesday night’s game at Tampa Bay. He took pregame grounders at third, and made throws to first and second base.

“I feel a lot better,” said Sandoval, who has been working out six days a week at the Red Sox spring training complex in Fort Myers. “It’s not back to normal, but feeling a lot better. I’m happy to be back here with my teammates. Happy to start doing work.”

He has not been cleared to start hitting. Sandoval is expected to be ready for spring training next year.

The 30-year-old Sandoval played three games in his second season with Boston. He was the 2012 World Series MVP with San Francisco.

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NFL notebook: Chargers withdraw offer to first-round draft choice http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/nfl-notebook-chargers-withdraw-offer-to-first-round-draft-choice/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/nfl-notebook-chargers-withdraw-offer-to-first-round-draft-choice/#comments Thu, 25 Aug 2016 02:59:30 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/nfl-notebook-chargers-withdraw-offer-to-first-round-draft-choice/ SAN DIEGO — Joey Bosa’s holdout turned ugly Wednesday when the San Diego Chargers pulled their contract offer to the first-round draft pick and said they’ll restructure a new deal that would reflect him playing less than a full season.

Bosa has missed all of training camp as his agents and the team wrangle over how much of his $17 million signing bonus he’ll get up front, as well as offset language in case he gets cut.

The Chargers were counting on the former Ohio State star to help bolster their pass rush and bring some excitement to a season that could be pivotal to their future in San Diego.

It’s not clear whether Bosa is willing to sit out the season. Also unclear is how the situation could affect the Chargers’ push for $1.1 billion in a public subsidy for a new downtown stadium, which could be their last chance at remaining in San Diego.

At the very least, the team is willing to continue to play hardball with Bosa.

The Chargers said in a statement that they gave Bosa’s agents their best offer Tuesday night and it was rejected Wednesday.

“The offer that we extended was for Joey to contribute during all 16 games and beyond,” the team said. “Joey’s ability to contribute for an entire rookie season has now been jeopardized by the valuable time he has missed with his coaches and his teammates. Since Joey will not report at this time, his ability to produce not just early in the season, but throughout the entire season, has been negatively impacted.”

Bosa is the only first-rounder who hasn’t signed with his team.

San Diego said it offered an initial signing bonus payment larger than any draftee received in the past two drafts, and more money in 2016 than any draftee except Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.

One of Bosa’s agents at CAA Sports, Tom Condon, has sparred plenty with the Chargers over the years. He represented Eli Manning, whose family didn’t want the Chargers to take him with the No. 1 pick overall in 2004. San Diego took him anyway, then traded him to the New York Giants for Philip Rivers. Condon also represented Drew Brees, LaDainian Tomlinson and Marty Schottenheimer, all of whom had unhappy departures from the team.

The rhetoric accelerated earlier this month when Cheryl Bosa, Joey’s mother, posted a remark toward the Chargers on Facebook. In a reply to someone frustrated by the impasse, she wrote: “It bums me out for him so much. Wish we pulled an Eli Manning on draft day.”

Bosa’s father, John, is a former Dolphins first-round draft pick.

The Chargers’ statement on Bosa came just 30 minutes after they released an economic study that shows a combined downtown stadium and an off-site expansion to the city’s convention center will result in a “significant positive impact” on San Diego’s convention and hotel industry. The Chargers will ask voters on Nov. 8 to approve a 4 percent increase in the hotel tax to help pay for the $1.8 billion project.

JETS: Geno Smith remains the No. 2 quarterback and will play Saturday night after starter Ryan Fitzpatrick in the exhibition game against the Giants.

There had been some uncertainty about the pecking order of the backups after Bryce Petty had a good performance and Smith struggled against Washington. Coach Todd Bowles also had been vague about the situation a few days ago.

VIKINGS: Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said he’ll play this weekend in the first game at the team’s new stadium.

Bridgewater was coy after practice about his shoulder injury but said “of course” when asked if he’s expecting to take the field Sunday. The Vikings host San Diego, and the third exhibition is typically when the starters play the longest in the preseason.

49ERS: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick is on track to make his first appearance of the preseason against Green Bay after his tired shoulder made it through a full week of practice without any limitations.

“Everything has been going great,” Kaepernick said. “Everything has been going as planned. I’m excited to get back out there Friday.”

PANTHERS: Coach Ron Rivera said defensive tackle Kawann Short is “too important a player” for the team not to sign him to a long-term contract.

Short has one year remaining on his rookie deal. He’s outperformed his current contract, recording 11 sacks last season while twice being named NFC player of the month.

JAGUARS: Receiver Justin Blackmon was given a one-year suspended sentence and probation for driving under the influence in Oklahoma.

Blackmon was sentenced in his hometown of Ardmore.

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Sports Digest: Panama Little League team earns international final http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/sports-digest-panama-little-league-earns-international-final/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/sports-digest-panama-little-league-earns-international-final/#comments Thu, 25 Aug 2016 02:48:59 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/sports-digest-panama-little-league-earns-international-final/ BASEBALL

Panama Little League teams earns international final

Esmith Pineda smashed a go-ahead three-run homer in the fifth inning and Panama beat South Korea 3-2 on Wednesday night for a spot in the international championship game of the Little League World Series at South Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

R.J. Moore hit a go-ahead three-run homer in a six-run fourth inning and Goodlettsville, Tennessee, beat Johnston, Iowa, 14-3 in five innings in an elimination game.

Jose Angel Leal struck out 10 of 11 batters in 32/3 innings and Mexico eased past Australia 10-0 in four innings in an elimination game.

HOCKEY

NHL: The Arizona Coyotes hired Dawn Braid as skating coach and said that she is believed to be the first full-time female coach in the NHL’s history.

Braid has a long association with the NHL.

She worked part-time for the Coyotes last year and served as a skating consultant with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres and Calgary Flames.

Braid also spent seven years with the Athletes Training Center as director of skating development. Among the skaters she worked with while there is New York Islanders center John Tavares.

The hiring is the latest in a series of breakthroughs for women in men’s sports.

Last year the Buffalo Bills made Kathryn Smith the NFL’s first full-time assistant coach. Smith is the team’s quality control coach.

The NBA has had two female assistant coaches – Becky Hammon of the San Antonio Spurs and Nancy Lieberman of the Sacramento Kings.

BASKETBALL

NBA: The Los Angeles Lakers signed top draft pick Brandon Ingram and Chinese NBA veteran Yi Jianlian, and re-signed center Tarik Black.

Ingram’s contract is expected to be worth more than $23 million over four years.

The 28-year-old Yi hasn’t played in the NBA since 2011-12 with Dallas. The 6-foot-11 Yi averaged 20.4 points per game for China at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

CYCLING

SPANISH VUELTA: Gianni Meersman of Belgium earned his second win in four days at Lugo, Spain, after a sprint finish and a crash in the peloton in the final two kilometers.

Colombian Darwin Atapuma maintained the overall lead for a second day.

TENNIS

CONNECTICUT OPEN: Defending champion Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic advanced to the quarterfinals at New Haven, beating Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard, 6-3, 6-2.

Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens beat France’s Caroline Garcia 7-6 (3), 7-5 to set up a match against top-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland.

SOCCER

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Surprise English champion Leicester is in the pot of top seeds for the Champions League group-stage draw Thursday despite being ranked 31st of the 32 teams by UEFA.

IRELAND: Robbie Keane, captain of the Los Angeles Galaxy in the MLS, will retire from international play for Ireland after a match with Oman next week in Dublin. Keane, 36, is Ireland’s longtime captain, and career leader in goals (67) and appearances (145) over an 18-year career.

AUTO RACING

NASCAR: Dale Earnhardt Jr. has not been cleared to return to racing and will miss at least two more races – at Michigan and Darlington – as he recovers from a concussion.

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Garoppolo prepares for a solid preseason test http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/garoppolo-prepares-for-a-solid-preseason-test/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/garoppolo-prepares-for-a-solid-preseason-test/#comments Thu, 25 Aug 2016 02:21:10 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/garoppolo-prepares-for-a-solid-preseason-test/ FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Jimmy Garoppolo entered training camp last month knowing that for the first time in his two-year career he was preparing for his first NFL regular-season start.

Patriots Coach Bill Belichick has repeated throughout the preseason that New England’s priority at quarterback is to get Garoppolo ready for it.

As that clock winds, so too does the one ticking toward the start of Tom Brady’s four-game Deflategate suspension. Brady has yet to see the field in a game during preseason, but as the Patriots approach Friday’s third exhibition game at Carolina – a game that traditionally brings extended playing time for starters – it will be the best dry run Garoppolo will have prior to the Sept. 11 opener at Arizona.

Whether Brady plays or not this week, the game clearly carries more importance.

“This will be a good test,” Garoppolo said. “It’s pretty much the closest thing we’ll get to Week 1. We’ll see how it goes.”

Belichick said there’s been at least some shift toward preparations for the Cardinals.

“We definitely have an eye on them,” he said. “We’ll tighten the focus going forward, but we’re certainly aware that’s where we’re headed on opening day. I don’t think we want to get into a situation early in the season where we’re knowingly doing something or dealing with something on a high-percentage basis that we haven’t even talked about up until that point.”

Brady made his first appearance at practice this week on Tuesday, days after his scheduled preseason debut against Chicago was scrubbed before kickoff when he cut his right thumb on scissors.

The positive from Brady’s mishap was it allowed Garoppolo to get extra snaps, and he showed progress from his first start against New Orleans. He played the entire first half and one series in the second against the Bears, finishing 16 of 21 for 181 yards and a touchdown. He was 11 of 18 for 168 yards the week before against the Saints.

He also seemed more comfortable in the pocket and throwing into tighter windows. The best example came on his lone touchdown throw, when he threaded a ball to tight end A.J. Derby in the back of the end zone.

Garoppolo said he hasn’t been told who will start Friday night but his approach hasn’t changed.

“We’ll find out together, I guess,” Garoppolo said. “I’m preparing like I’m going to be the starter. You never know. Last week was a good example. You never know what’s going to happen.”

Brady said the rapport and dialogue with Garoppolo has been good, noting “there’s always a good back and forth in our room.”

It’s a unique situation for Garoppolo. Though he’ll have the starting reins and be expected to fill the leadership role for the first month of the season, this is Brady’s offense.

Garoppolo is approaching it by focusing on his tasks on the field.

“It’s a tough situation at times but you can’t worry about that too much,” he said. “It’s one of those things where if you start worrying about that, then you can’t focus on whatever it is: your reads, your checks, whatever it may be.

“You just have to go about your business the same way you always have. I’m not trying to do something crazy and do something I’ve never done before. I’m trying to be myself and do what I do.”

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It’s quality over quantity for the Oxford 250 field http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/its-quality-over-quantity-for-the-oxford-250-field/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/its-quality-over-quantity-for-the-oxford-250-field/#comments Thu, 25 Aug 2016 02:13:36 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/its-quality-over-quantity-for-the-oxford-250-field/ OXFORD — A group of 10 drivers, including one from the Pacific Northwest, gathered Wednesday at a quiet Oxford Plains Speedway to talk about their chances of winning the 43rd annual Oxford 250 on Sunday.

They represented a small percentage of drivers and teams who will seek to collect the $25,000 winner’s share.

“We’re going to have at least 60 cars on Sunday,” said Tom Mayberry, the Oxford Plains owner and Pro All Stars Series president. “I think we’re going to have a really, really good field.”

While there are no longer 100-plus cars entered as there was years ago, Mike Rowe of Turner – one of the three drivers with three Oxford 250 victories – believes this year’s field could be as solid.

“You’ve got to get in but there are 15 really good cars out there,” said Rowe, who owns 151 career feature wins at Oxford. “I think it’s sorted out a lot of them. A lot of guys who don’t think they can make it probably aren’t even coming. It’s not like it used to be when we’d have 110 or 115 cars trying to qualify, but anyone who gets into the show has got a shot to win.”

Among those with Rowe at the media session were Glen Luce of Turner, the defending Oxford 250 champion; Johnny Clark of Hallowell, a six-time PASS champion; Travis Benjamin of Morrill, a two-time Oxford 250 winner; and Spencer Robbins of Dixfield, the 2003 winner.

Garrett Evans of East Wenatchee, Washington, a four-time NASCAR Northwest Series champion, drove 3,068 miles to Oxford to compete for PASS National Series points and make his first Oxford 250 attempt.

The qualifying rounds begin at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

THINGS ARE different this year for Luce, who entered last year’s Oxford 250 with only one career Super Late Model victory – in a weekly race at Oxford years earlier.

“I was surprised. I really was,” Luce said of last year’s victory. “You go so long without success, being at the top it’s almost like I climbed Mt. Everest. I had to talk to myself the first few laps after I took the lead last year. I had to remind myself that it was just a race car and a race track, and I just needed to hit my marks and drive the car.”

Luce said he went from just being happy to be part of the show to wanting to challenge. Now he says he’s confident despite sitting sixth in the PASS standings this year with just two top-five finishes in 11 races.

“We know now what the car needs to feel like in order to get the same result,” Luce said. “Obviously you need a little bit of luck with the (qualifying) draw and attrition that can play a part, but we’ll try and find that feel we’re looking for Friday in practice and go from there.”

Certainly he’ll have plenty of interested eyes on his No. 7 car.

“To be honest, I kind of like sneaking in under the radar,” he said.

“Having all the attention, I don’t really care for that. I enjoy it for the team but it’s hard to get used to it.”

MIKE HOPKINS of Hermon, who made his Oxford 250 debut last year, scored his first career PASS win at Star Speedway in Epping, New Hampshire, earlier this season but has struggled on the flatter tracks at Oxford and Beech Ridge Motor Speedway.

But Hopkins, 31, believes going back to the setup he used in 2015 could pay off this weekend.

He spent most of the middle stages of last year’s Oxford 250 racing with and around the leaders.

“This weekend we’re going back to what we had,” said Hopkins, who won the Long John 150 at Unity Raceway last season. “I’m optimistic for the weekend, for sure.”

Like for many Maine drivers, the Oxford 250 remains special.

“I think I’ve come to every Super Late Model race at the 250 since I was 15 years old,” he said.

“It’s quite a historical race. To be part of it for the first time last year, it’s hard to find words to describe it. People just don’t understand what it means. It was pretty cool.”

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Commentary: Silence was a mistake for the NFL Giants http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/commentary-silence-was-a-mistake-for-the-nfl-giants/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/commentary-silence-was-a-mistake-for-the-nfl-giants/#comments Thu, 25 Aug 2016 02:12:50 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/commentary-silence-was-a-mistake-for-the-nfl-giants/ In the end, John Mara relied on the circumstances of the case, the withdrawal of domestic violence charges and gut instincts about doing the right thing in deciding to keep kicker Josh Brown despite Brown’s arrest last year for an incident involving his then-wife.

“A lot of times there’s a tendency to make these cases black and white,” the Giants’ president and co-owner said in his first public remarks since the team’s 37-year-old kicker was suspended one game for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. “They are very rarely black and white. You very rarely have a Ray Rice video. There are allegations made, you try to sort through the facts, you try to make an informed decision. That’s what we did.”

Mara has a well-earned reputation for doing the right and equitable thing, especially with difficult decisions. That reputation was tested with Brown, mostly because he chose to say nothing until now and allowed the controversy to fester.

He had thought that not talking would be seen as a way not to fan the flames, but silence only exacerbated the tension and left questions about whether the Giants were covering for Brown.

Mara admits he “probably should have (spoken) a couple of days ago.”

He’s right.

I can’t ever remember him ducking an issue and this seemed like an odd time for keeping quiet.

Domestic violence is one of the most serious issues of our time, and the NFL’s recent dealings – and failings – with the matter have been a major source of controversy.

But Mara at least provided clarity about where the organization stands. And while many will continue to question the team’s decision to keep Brown despite knowing about the May 2015 arrest and Molly Brown’s accusations that her husband physically abused her more than 20 times, Mara is willing to stake his reputation and that of his organization on deciding to live with the consequences of his decision.

“This is an organization that always tries to do the right thing,” he said. “Yes, the easiest thing for us to have done would have been to say ‘Let’s find another kicker.’ But I’m trying to be fair to him as well. I think he’s trying to do the right thing and he deserves an opportunity to show he can do that.”

Empty words from an owner trying to cover for the actions of one of his players, all in hopes of gaining a competitive advantage? Many will think that.

But the Giants do have a track record of dealing fairly with players. And for that, Mara, as well as the Tisch family, which co-owns the team, has history and good will on his side.

That said, Mara knows he’s dealing with a sensitive issue and understands the potential fallout with his decision to keep Brown.

Mara also made it clear that Brown’s future with the team will now be a football decision.

“Josh knows what’s expected of him, it’s been made pretty clear,” Mara said. “He’s been a good citizen since he’s been here. He’s had conversations with a number of us in management, including myself, and I’m confident that he’ll continue to conduct himself in a manner that we expect of Josh.”

It’s a big risk for the owner and his organization, but he’s willing to live with the consequences. Especially after ending his ill-advised silence on the matter.

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Major league notebook: Orioles put Tillman on 15-day DL http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/major-league-notebook-orioles-put-tillman-on-15-day-dl/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/major-league-notebook-orioles-put-tillman-on-15-day-dl/#comments Thu, 25 Aug 2016 01:55:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/major-league-notebook-orioles-put-tillman-on-15-day-dl/ WASHINGTON — The Baltimore Orioles put pitcher Chris Tillman on the 15-day disabled list, as expected.

Tillman has been bothered by bursitis in his right shoulder. The Orioles made the move Wednesday and recalled right-hander Mike Wright.

Tillman is on the DL retroactive to Aug. 21. He is 15-5 with a 3.76 ERA this season.

METS: Yoenis Cespedes said he has no plans to exercise an opt-out clause in his contract with the New York Mets.

The outfielder from Cuba is in the first year of a three-year, $75 million deal that has an escape clause after the first season.

He said through an interpreter before Wednesday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals that he intended to honor the deal.

“I’ve said it before, my intentions of course are to be here for three years, and if I could spend the rest of my career with the Mets, I would,” Cespedes said.

Pitcher Jonathan Niese went on the 15-day disabled list and will have knee surgery.

The Mets announced Wednesday that Niese will have arthroscopic surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery on Thursday to repair a torn meniscus.

He got only one out in his start Tuesday night at St. Louis before being forced to leave the game.

Right-hander Erik Goeddel was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas.

Niese is 8-7 with a 5.50 ERA in 29 games, 20 of them starts. He began the season with Pittsburgh and rejoined the Mets earlier this month in a deal at the trade deadline.

DIAMONDBACKS: Arizona gave team president and chief executive officer Derrick Hall an eight-year contract extension.

Hall said there have been discussions about the extension for several months. He said he is “thrilled” to have it completed because, as he put it, “this is home” and there’s nowhere else he’d rather be.

Hall joined the Diamondbacks in 2005 as senior vice president for communications and was named president a year later. The title of CEO was added in 2009.

WHITE SOX: The ballpark currently called U.S. Cellular Field will become known as Guaranteed Rate Field starting in November. The team and the mortgage company announced a 13-year naming rights deal on Wednesday.

The White Sox are below .500 this season and haven’t made the playoffs since 2008.

The agreement was approved by the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, which owns the ballpark.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The White Sox hold a one-year option that could extend the deal through 2030.

The ballpark has been known as U.S. Cellular Field since 2003 after being called new Comiskey Park from 1991 to 2002.

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Olympic notebook: Feigen issues an apology http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/olympic-notebook-feigen-issues-an-apology/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/olympic-notebook-feigen-issues-an-apology/#comments Thu, 25 Aug 2016 01:51:12 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/olympic-notebook-feigen-issues-an-apology/ Gold-medal winner James Feigen, now safely back in Texas, apologized for his role in the Ryan Lochte incident at the Rio Olympic Games, describing in detail negotiations by his lawyers for his release by Brazilian authorities.

Feigen, 26, apologized for the “serious distractions” from the Games that the incident caused, then supplied his version of that embarrassing night out in Rio and how he came to pay nearly $11,000 before leaving the country Saturday.

Feigen explained that the four, which also included Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz, did not initially tell authorities that when they stopped at a gas station to use the restroom and found it locked, they urinated in bushes and Lochte pulled a framed poster off the wall.

Lochte, in his first interview on the subject, described having a gun held to his forehead. He later apologized for “over-exaggerating” what happened as the four were returning to the Olympic Village after a party at around 5 a.m. on Aug. 14. Feigen describes what happened after the four hopped into a taxi:

“On our way back we asked the cab driver to pull over so we could relieve ourselves. We pulled over to a gas station to use the bathroom but the door was locked. We did not force entry into the bathroom nor did we ever enter the bathroom. We did, however, make the regrettable decision to urinate in the grass behind the building.

“On our way back to the cab, Ryan Lochte pulled a poster in a metal frame off a wall. I got back into the cab and waited for the others. One of my teammates told me that a man with a gun was standing outside the cab. The man with the gun spoke with the cab driver, who got out of the cab. We then got out of the cab and I paid the driver the fare. As I walked away, the man with the gun pointed it at me and my teammate and ordered us, in Portuguese, to sit. This was the first time I have ever had a gun pointed at me and I was terrified.

“I put my hands up and sat down on the curb. It became apparent that the man with the gun was telling us to pay, and I was unsure if they were affiliated with the gas station. Gunnar Bentz and I gave the man some money. We were then allowed to leave and we took another cab to the Village, arriving around 7 a.m. Later that day a Rio police detective came to the USA House to take a statement. Since I was the only person available, I was told by a USOC official to provide a statement.”

Feigen said that Brazilian prosecutors gave him the option of paying a fine or waiting a month while an investigation was conducted, so he agreed to pay a fine to a charity. Initially, he said, prosecutors wanted $31,500 (in American dollars) and 15 days of community service in exchange for the return of his passport, which he said he voluntarily provided. When his American lawyer rejected that amount, the fine was raised to nearly $47,000.

“Finally, all parties agreed to a R$35,000.00 ($10,800.00 USD) fine. This fine was to be paid within three days. If it was not paid, the fine would be increased back to R$150,000.00 ($46,875). I was able to contact my family in the United States along with my American attorneys and we were able to satisfy the payment of the fine the next day. My passport was returned to me after payment was received and I was able to return home.”

DOPING: Three champion weightlifters from China and eight other medalists stand to be stripped of their titles after failing retests of their doping samples from the 2008 Olympics.

The IWF said Chinese gold medalists Cao Lei, Liu Chunhong and Chen Xiexia all tested positive for GHRP-2, which stimulates growth hormone production, while Liu also tested positive for the stimulant sibutramine. The other eight include current world record holder Andrei Rybakou of Belarus.

WILLIAM O’BRIEN, named to head Ireland’s Olympic committee after its president was arrested in a ticket-scalping case at Rio, is also suspected of participating in the scheme but left Brazil before he could be questioned, police said.

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Commentary: College kids should represent the U.S. in the Olympics, not NBA players http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/commentary-college-kids-should-represent-the-u-s-in-the-olympics-not-nba-players/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/commentary-college-kids-should-represent-the-u-s-in-the-olympics-not-nba-players/#comments Thu, 25 Aug 2016 01:35:36 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/commentary-college-kids-should-represent-the-u-s-in-the-olympics-not-nba-players/ So the U.S. men’s basketball team won another gold medal at the Olympics.

Excuse me, but wake me up when you have something newsworthy to discuss.

The U.S. sent a star-studded cast of mostly NBA All-Stars to Rio and they did what everyone who knows anything about basketball knew they would do. They stacked the deck and knocked off all comers, beating Serbia by 30 points in the final.

And it wasn’t even that close.

Which is why I’ve never been on board with sending NBA players to the Olympics. We should go back to sending the college kids.

Most of us received more joy seeing a group of college players win gold medal after gold medal while beating the other country’s pro players. Those kiddos were 63-0 in the Olympics before losing to the Soviet Union in the 1972 gold-medal game in a horrific display of late-game officiating.

The U.S. came back and won the gold medal in 1976, then boycotted the 1980 Games before returning to win gold again in 1984.

With no controversy to lean on, the U.S. was upset by the Soviet Union in the quarterfinals of the 1988 Olympics and settled for the bronze, sending the U.S. basketball community in a tizzy.

Then in 1992 – after the distinction between pro and amateur players was eliminated, the door was open for the current trend of parading NBA players to the Olympics.

In ’92 the U.S. sent an NBA contingent of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Clyde Drexler and Chris Mullin to the Olympics. The 12th man was Christian Laettner, who was the third player chosen in the 1992 NBA draft and an All-American out of Duke.

All of those 11 NBA players are in the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame, and Laettner is in the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

The rest of the world could have rounded up its best players and put them all on one team and they still wouldn’t have been able to compete.

Sure, the rest of the world has gotten better at basketball and a lot of them have NBA players. But those countries have always had pro players, and the U.S. still won golds an overwhelming majority of the times.

Basketball was invented here. And as long as the U.S. can get its best college players to participate in the Olympics, it’s always more fun seeing them winning than watching a bunch of overpaid future NBA Hall of Famers yawn their way to another gold medal.

Along the way to claiming this year’s gold medal, the U.S. did have three close calls. One was against Serbia – a contest during pool play that the U.S. won by three points when Serbia missed a chance late in the game to force overtime.

So much drama unfolded leading up to the rematch in Sunday’s gold medal game.

Final score: U.S. 96, Serbia 66.

You had a ton of fun watching that one-sided debacle, didn’t you?

If they wanted to, the U.S. could have won by 60 points. And LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kawhi Leonard, Russell Westbrook and James Harden were nowhere to be found.

When the U.S. wants to prove a point and shut up its critics, no one can come close to even making a basketball game interesting against them.

No one.

The U.S. is that dominant. It’s worse than stealing candy from a baby.

When the college kids represented the country in the Olympics in men’s basketball, at least the games had some mystery to them.

At least you hunkered down in front of the television in extreme anticipation to watch what was about to unfold.

Now you only have to watch for maybe a half. Then you switch to another channel where you’ll probably have more enjoyment watching reruns of “I Love Lucy.”

Assembling the men’s Olympic basketball tournament is like sending Mike Tyson in his heyday to box somebody at the local YMCA. Or like going to a movie and already knowing how it’s going to end.

Furthermore, if I want to pass the day away by watching a bunch of NBA All-Stars run up and down the court, I can get my annual fix every February during the NBA’s midseason All-Star game.

I, for one, wish there was a way to get the college kids representing the U.S. in the Olympics again, because the NBA players have totally destroyed my Olympic basketball experience.

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Freiman walk-off homer gives Sea Dogs 10-7 win http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/freiman-walkoff-homer-gives-sea-dogs-10-7-win/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/freiman-walkoff-homer-gives-sea-dogs-10-7-win/#comments Thu, 25 Aug 2016 01:23:09 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/freiman-walkoff-homer-gives-sea-dogs-10-7-win/ It turned from ugly to thrilling at Hadlock Field on Wednesday night.

Nate Freiman swatted a three-run walk-off homer over the left-field wall in the ninth inning to give the Portland Sea Dogs a 10-7 win over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats before a capacity crowd of 7,368.

No one expected that much excitement after Portland fell behind 5-0 while making three errors in the first two innings.

“The game didn’t start off the way we would have liked,” Freiman said.

The Sea Dogs rallied, scoring four runs in the seventh to jump ahead 7-6. New Hampshire tied it in the eighth.

In the bottom of the ninth, Tzu-Wei Lin led off with a single against Brady Dragmire (4-6). Mauricio Dubon sacrificed Lin to second and Aneury Tavarez singled to put runners on first and third. Freiman then smacked Dragmire’s 2-0 pitch for the win.

“It was a slider,” said Freiman, sounding surprised. “I was just trying to be ready early and see it.

“I was trying to get something up and stay out of a double play. I wasn’t thinking home run, just something elevated.”

Freiman also had an RBI double. His home run was his 10th of the season and his second walk-off hit of the year. He had a game-winning single in May shortly after signing with the Red Sox as a minor league free agent.

Portland reliever Ben Taylor (1-0) got the win, pitching the final 12/3 innings.

Sea Dogs starter Kevin McAvoy rallied from his early struggles, providing 62/3 innings. He allowed six runs (three earned) on eight hits, one walk and one hit batter. He struck out three.

“It could have been worse but after the second inning he settled down nicely,” Sea Dogs Manager Carlos Febles said. “Really pleased with the way he pitched.”

This was McAvoy’s sixth straight start allowing three earned runs or less.

“(McAvoy) was huge for us,” Freiman said. “He gave us a chance to win.”

The Sea Dogs were paced by Ryan Court’s two doubles and one RBI. Dubon (2 for 4) had a key RBI single in the seventh and Tavarez (2 for 5) hit a two-run single in the seventh that tied it.

“The offense showed some courage tonight,” Febles said.

Center fielder Cole Sturgeon (1 for 3, RBI) made two impressive over-the-shoulder catches in the left-center gap, and also charged a fly ball and then doubled off the runner at first base in the fifth inning.

NOTES: Top Red Sox prospect Yoan Moncada took the night off. Moncada is being handled carefully after spraining an ankle almost three weeks ago. He played in three of Portland’s previous four games. … Tavarez is now batting .332, the best in the Eastern League … The Sea Dogs (51-76) will be home against the Yankees-affiliated Trenton Thunder from Thursday through Sunday. The Thunder (81-49) are close to clinching a playoff spot. … Before Thursday’s game, the Sea Dogs expect to welcome their nine-millionth fan. … The Fisher Cats (62-68) travel to Reading, Pennsylvania. … In advanced Class A, future Sea Dogs starter Michael Kopech pitched one-hit shutout ball over seven innings, walking two and striking out 10. He has a 1.23 ERA for Salem.

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Another Razorback hopes to join the Red Sox http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/another-razorback-wants-to-join-the-red-sox/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/another-razorback-wants-to-join-the-red-sox/#comments Wed, 24 Aug 2016 08:00:03 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1027703 In his second season in college, pitcher Jalen Beeks noticed a new player on the team, a smallish outfielder.

“You could see his talent as a freshman,” Beeks said. “I thought he was going to be all-conference (as a sophomore).

“But nobody saw that coming … who knew he would be the seventh overall (draft pick in 2015)?”

Now Beeks sees Andrew Benintendi manning left field for the Boston Red Sox.

“We watch him all the time (on TV) in the clubhouse,” Beeks said.

Beeks has already been Benintendi’s teammate on four teams – the University of Arkansas (2014), Greenville last year, then Salem and Portland this season. Beeks would like to join him one more time, in the majors.

Beeks, 23, a 14th-round draft pick in 2014, is the only starting pitcher promoted from Salem this season. The left-hander improved his record to 5-3 with the Sea Dogs on Tuesday night with an 8-2 victory against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

With a fastball touching 90-92 mph and three other pitches, Beeks gave up two runs on five hits and four walks over five innings, striking out one. He lowered his ERA a tick to 4.47, second-best among Sea Dogs starters.

At a time when the Red Sox pitching depth is not so deep, Beeks could develop into a prospect.

The promotion to Portland came in early June after Beeks posted a 3.07 ERA. He totaled 11 earned runs in his first three Double-A starts.

“Guys just have better approaches, more experience here,” Beeks said. “Some guys have been in the big leagues. It was just a big learning curve.”

He has had a few hiccups since but mostly has settled in.

“He had that little adjustment time,” Sea Dogs pitching coach Kevin Walker said. “He’s had some struggles but he’s starting to figure it out and starting to learn how to pitch.”

At Arkansas, Beeks went from reliever his freshman year (2.20 ERA) to starter as a sophomore (1.98). But he only made 13 starts because of a sprained ulnar collateral (elbow) ligament.

Bad timing. Beeks was eligible for the 2014 draft.

“I didn’t pitch the month leading into the draft,” said Beeks, who likely dropped down draft boards because of the injury. “I think so, but you never know with the draft.

“But I’m in Double-A now. I’m happy to be here. I play for the Red Sox. Now it’s just about getting to the big leagues.”

The jump to the majors is obviously the biggest leap a pitcher can make. The second- biggest may be to Double-A, a level that separates the pitchers from the throwers.

“This is really a mental leap. You can get guys out … but the experience level is so much better. Being able to repeat pitches (is important),” Beeks said.

“I obviously have a lot to learn. Really it’s just experience and learning, and battling adversity.”

Beeks does battle. Despite the bumps he’s had in Double-A, every start except one has gone at least five innings.

“The big thing for me is his poise and composure on the mound,” Walker said. “He doesn’t let any situation get too big. He’s always able to calm down and make that one pitch when he needs to.”

Beeks looked in big trouble early Tuesday, starting with a leadoff walk and then a line drive single. After a double play, Beeks gave up back-to-back RBI doubles.

Beeks gave up only two more hits, but also ran up his pitch count with three more walks.

“I still have to work on fastball control,” Beeks said. “All of my pitches are still developing. The slider sometimes gets kind of loopy instead of hard and down. The curveball is still a work in progress. So is the change-up.

“I have good days and bad days.”

In 561/3 Double-A innings, Beeks has 45 strikeouts and 24 walks.

He’s expected to return to Portland at the start of 2017. He will be facing a key season, a time for Beeks to put his experience to work for him. Maybe then he can realistically look forward to a reunion with his Arkansas teammate, in Boston.

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Major league roundup: Royals win ninth straight http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/major-league-roundup-royals-win-ninth-straight/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/major-league-roundup-royals-win-ninth-straight/#comments Wed, 24 Aug 2016 04:00:27 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/24/major-league-roundup-royals-win-ninth-straight/ MIAMI — Yordano Ventura escaped two threats while pitching six innings, and the Kansas City Royals extended their winning streak to nine games by beating the Miami Marlins 1-0 on Tuesday night.

Ventura (9-9), who reached 101 mph on the scoreboard radar gun, allowed six hits and one walk.

Three relievers closed out the win and extended the bullpen’s streak of 32 consecutive shutout innings since Aug. 10. Kelvin Herrera pitched a perfect ninth for his eighth save.

Miami loaded the bases with two outs in the third, but Marcell Ozuna flied out to end the inning. Ventura pitched around a leadoff double by Ozuna in the sixth.

The Royals scored in the sixth when Paulo Orlando led off with a single, stole second and came home on Lorenzo Cain’s single.

PIRATES 7, ASTROS 1: Ivan Nova took a shutout into the ninth inning and finished with a six-hitter and Gregory Polanco hit two home runs to lead Pittsburgh to a win at home.

REDS 3, RANGERS 0: Dan Straily extended his surge since the All-Star break by pitching six innings and Joey Votto drove in a pair of runs to lead Cincinnati over visiting Texas.

ORIOLES 8, NATIONALS 1: Kevin Gausman scattered six hits over six shutout innings, Adam Jones went 4 for 5 and Baltimore breezed past visiting Washington.

Chris Davis hit his 30th home run for the Orioles, who won two straight over Washington to conclude a 3-5 homestand.

Baltimore is 34-24 against the Nationals in a rivalry that began in 2006. The series shifts 38 miles south to Nationals Park on Wednesday for the first of two games.

WHITE SOX 9, PHILLIES 1: Jose Abreu homered for a third straight game, Carlos Rodon threw 62/3 scoreless innings as host Chicago sent Philadelphia to its fifth loss in seven games.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

BLUE JAYS 7, ANGELS 2: Russell Martin had three hits and two RBI, R.A. Dickey pitched 62/3 innings for his first home win since July 10 and Toronto beat visiting Los Angeles.

TIGERS 8, TWINS 3: Cameron Maybin drove in three runs, including a go-ahead two-run single in the sixth inning, to spark Detroit over host Minnesota.

Anibal Sanchez (7-12) pitched seven innings to win a start on the road for the first time since the first week of the season.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

METS 7, CARDINALS 4: Wilmer Flores and Justin Ruggiano homered as New York won at St. Louis.

Jose Reyes reached four base times and scored three runs. Asdrubal Cabrera had three hits, drove in a run and scored once.

The offense helped Robert Gsellman (1-0) get the decision in his major league debut. Gsellman, was pressed into action after starter Jonathon Niese left with an injury in the first inning.

Jeurys Familia earned his 42nd save.

BREWERS 6, ROCKIES 4: Hernan Perez hit a two-run triple in the seventh inning, lifting Milwaukee to a comeback win over visiting Colorado.

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Buchholz dazzles as Red Sox top Rays http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/buchholz-dazzles-as-red-sox-top-rays/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/buchholz-dazzles-as-red-sox-top-rays/#comments Wed, 24 Aug 2016 02:37:07 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/buchholz-dazzles-as-red-sox-top-rays/ ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Clay Buchholz had a strong performance in what might have been his final start before returning to the bullpen.

Buchholz pitched into the seventh inning, David Ortiz had a run-scoring single and the Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1 on Tuesday night to remain tied atop the AL East.

“Was never really challenged in terms of a long pitch count inside of one given inning,” Boston manager John Farrell said. “To get into the seventh inning was an outstanding job on his part.”

Buchholz (5-9) allowed one run, five hits, two walks and struck out nine in 6 1/3 innings. The right-hander was inserted into the rotation on Aug. 13 after injuries to a couple starting pitchers.

“He’s playing a huge role for us right now given the situation where some guys have been nicked up,” Farrell said.

In his last five starts at Tropicana Field, Buchholz has given up two earned runs over 33 1/3 innings.

Two injured Boston starters, Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez, could return shortly.

“Just tried to make the most of it,” Buchholz said.

Ortiz extended his hitting streak to 10 games with an RBI single in the third. Ortiz scored to make it 2-0 when right fielder Steven Souza Jr. made an errant throw attempting to get Ortiz at third base after fielding Mookie Betts’ single.

“Obviously in hindsight I would rather not have thrown it, but I knew David Ortiz was running,” Souza said. “But it was a bad throw and it cost us a run.”

Boston is tied with Toronto, which beat the Los Angeles Angels 7-2.

Chris Archer (7-17) gave up two runs, five hits and threw 109 pitches in five innings for the Rays. The last 20-game loser in the majors was Detroit’s Mike Maroth (21) in 2003.

Archer won his first career start against the Red Sox on Sept. 19, 2012 but has dropped 10 straight decisions to them since.

The Rays got an RBI double from Kevin Kiermaier in the fifth.

The speedy Kiermaier was thrown out trying for a triple in the eighth by Betts from right field.

“Accuracy, I’ve been pretty good” Betts said. “But hard (throws) was something I didn’t know I could do. I think we were all kind of surprised there.”

Craig Kimbrel got the final three outs for his 23rd save.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Red Sox: Farrell said Wright (strained right shoulder) is “on tap” to start Friday night against Kansas City after an extended bullpen session Tuesday. … Rodriguez (left hamstring) had a three-inning simulated game. The team will evaluate him Wednesday. … C Ryan Hanigan (left ankle) hit against Rodriguez. … RHP Koji Uehara (right pectoral strain) threw 33 pitches in his first mound session and will be evaluated in a week.

Rays: SS Tim Beckham left after seven innings due to left hamstring tightness.

BIG PAPI POINTS

Ortiz moved past Bobby Doerr into sixth place on Boston’s career list with 2,043 hits. He has 1,739 RBIs, which is one away from tying Rafael Palmeiro for the ninth most in AL history.

UP NEXT

Red Sox RHP Rick Porcello (17-3), 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA in three starts against Tampa Bay this season, faces Rays RHP Matt Andriese (6-5) on Wednesday night.

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Moncada’s three-run homer propels Sea Dogs win http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/moncadas-three-run-homer-propels-sea-dogs-win/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/moncadas-three-run-homer-propels-sea-dogs-win/#comments Wed, 24 Aug 2016 02:15:07 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/moncadas-three-run-homer-propels-sea-dogs-win/ Yoan Moncada not only can hit a baseball far, he also works the count, refusing to chase bad pitches.

Moncada did all that Tuesday night. Besides walking four times, he launched a three-run homer to lead the Portland Sea Dogs to an 8-2 victory over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats before 4,869 at Hadlock Field.
Jake Romanski joined in the offense with a 3-for-4 night, with two RBI and a double.

Jalen Beeks (5-3) got the win with five innings of work (five hits, two runs).

New Hampshire took a 2-0 lead in the first but Beeks rebounded, and his teammates more than backed him up.

Moncada worked the count full in each of his walks, including leading off the bottom of the first.

“I don’t chase,” Moncada said.

Those are words that hitting coach Jon Nunnally loves to hear.

“I like the walks,” Nunnally said. “Shows some patience. Shows some discipline, laying off (bad) pitches.

“The more he can do that, the more he will get pitches where he can do damage.”

In the first, Moncada scored on Nate Freiman’s double, closing the score to 2-1.

In the second, Moncada did the damage, giving Portland the lead. After singles by Cole Sturgeon and Tzu-Wei Lin, Moncada came up with two outs and worked a 2-1 count against Jeremy Gabryszwski (7-11).

Gabryszwski delivered a 93 mph fastball on the lower half of the strike zone. Moncada pounced, crushing a ball over the wall in right-center. The exit velocity was 102 mph and the estimated distance was 411 feet.

It was Moncada’s 10th home run in 39 Double-A games. He’s batting .285. He has 23 walks and a .386 on-base percentage, and a .563 slugging average.

Moncada also looked sharp again at third base, making a diving stop and throwing the runner out at first.

Romanski got his average back to .300 with his three hits, and Aneury Tavarez (2 for 3, walk) remains the Eastern League batting leader with a .334 average. Sturgeon and Lin also had two hits.

Three relievers kept New Hampshire hitless over the last four innings – Williams Jerez (two innings, two walks, four strikeouts), Ty Buttrey (one inning, one walk, one strikeout) and Luis Ysla (one inning, one strikeout).

NOTES: The Sea Dogs (50-76) and Fisher Cats (62-67) play again at 6 p.m. Wednesday. A fireworks show will follow the game. … Reliever Austin Maddox was returned to the Sea Dogs’ roster from Pawtucket.

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Sports Digest: Top seeds named for U.S. Open tennis http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/sports-digest-top-seeds-named-for-u-s-open-tennis/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/sports-digest-top-seeds-named-for-u-s-open-tennis/#comments Wed, 24 Aug 2016 01:18:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/sports-digest-top-seeds-named-for-u-s-open-tennis/ Serena Williams is the No. 1 seeded woman for the U.S. Open after barely holding on to the top spot in the rankings, and Novak Djokovic is No. 1 among the men.

Neither Williams nor Djokovic has played a match since early exits at the Rio Olympics. Williams later said she was dealing with a right shoulder problem and Djokovic said his left wrist was sore.

Williams could have been overtaken atop the WTA rankings by No. 2 Angelique Kerber but stayed at No. 1 this week. The U.S. Tennis Association adhered to the men’s and women’s rankings in announcing the seedings Tuesday.

CONNECTICUT OPEN: Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium, who upset Venus Williams in the Olympics, beat Belinda Bencic 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 in the opening round at New Haven.

OLYMPICS

WIFE SENTENCED: The wife of David Laut, a 1984 Olympic bronze medalist in the shot put, is facing life in prison for killing him in 2009 – a shooting she claimed was self-defense following years of abuse.

The Ventura County Star reported that Jane Laut was sentenced to two consecutive terms of 25 years to life, one for first-degree murder and the other for using a gun in the killing. They were married for 29 years.

FANTASY SPORTS

DAILY WEBSITES: Daily fantasy sports websites that were shut down in Nevada because they didn’t have gambling licenses want to get back in the game, but officials who set policy for Las Vegas aren’t impressed.

Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Tony Alamo said he likes daily fantasy sports but “Nevada is the gold standard … there’s just not an appetite for ‘regulation light’ or ‘regulation not at all.'”

BASEBALL

LITTLE LEAGUE: Kaiden Dinh hit a walk-off single and Johnston, Iowa, rallied past Warwick, Rhode Island, 3-2 in an elimination game of the World Series in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Miles Risley led off the bottom of the sixth inning by reaching on an error and Michael Siemer blooped a single into right field to put runners on the corners with one out. Then Jack Emanuel walked to load the bases.

 Clayton Campbell struck out 14 as Australia beat Curacao 2-1 in an elimination game.

 Victor Juarez and three relievers combined to allow one hit and no earned runs as Mexico beat Canada 7-1 in an elimination game.

MIXED MARTIAL ARTS

LESNAR SUSPENSION: Nevada athletic regulators extended a temporary suspension of UFC heavyweight Brock Lesnar pending a hearing on his failure of drug doping tests at UFC 200 last month.

State Athletic Commission officials said the move came after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency found violations of UFC drug policy in June and at Lesnar’s July 9 fight against Mark Hunt.

SOCCER

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Roma failed to reach the group stage after having two men sent off in a 3-0 defeat at home to Porto in the second leg of their playoff.

Monaco beat Villarreal 1-0 to advance to the 32-team group-stage draw following a 3-1 aggregate victory. Celtic also squeezed through despite a 2-0 loss to Hapoel Beer Sheva, after winning the first leg, 5-2.

– News service report

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Major league notebook: Rangers release Hamilton http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/major-league-notebook-rangers-release-hamilton/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/major-league-notebook-rangers-release-hamilton/#comments Wed, 24 Aug 2016 01:09:37 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/major-league-notebook-rangers-release-hamilton/ CINCINNATI — Josh Hamilton was placed on unconditional release waivers Tuesday by the Texas Rangers, who made the procedural move now so that they can possibly sign him to a minor-league deal in the offseason.

Hamilton, who was activated from the 60-day disabled list before the release, had reconstructive surgery on his left knee in early June. He spoke to reporters last month with a full understanding that the Rangers would likely release him and ask him to come back to the team next spring on a minor-league deal.

“We plan to monitor Josh’s progress as he continues his rehab process and is medically cleared this winter,” GM Jon Daniels said. “Given the rules in place, releasing him before the end of this month allows us to keep the door open to extending the relationship.”

Hamilton is not expected to be cleared for workouts until December.

POSTSEASON SCHEDULE: The MLB postseason will open with the American League wild-card game on Tuesday, Oct. 4, followed by the National League wild-card game the next day.

In releasing its playoff schedule, MLB also said the World Series will begin on Tuesday Oct. 25 at the home the AL champion. A seventh and deciding game, if necessary, is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 2.

The AL division series begins Thursday, Oct. 6; the NL division series begins Friday, Oct. 7.

The ALCS is scheduled to begin on Friday, Oct. 14; the NLCS on Oct. 15.

MARLINS: The Marlins transferred first baseman Justin Bour to the 60-day disabled list and placed infielder Derek Dietrich on the 15-day disabled list.

Dietrich is out with a right knee contusion, retroactive to Aug. 19. The Marlins claimed outfielder Oswaldo Arcia off waivers from Tampa Bay.

DODGERS: The Dodgers placed left-handers Brett Anderson and Scott Kazmir on the disabled list, tying the 2012 Boston Red Sox for the major league record with 27 players on the DL this season.

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Cal, Hawaii get ready to kick off season in Australia http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/cal-hawaii-get-ready-to-kick-off-season-in-australia/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/cal-hawaii-get-ready-to-kick-off-season-in-australia/#comments Wed, 24 Aug 2016 00:59:37 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1027493 SYDNEY — With the usual touristy things — Opera House, Harbour Bridge and meeting mascot-sized koalas — out of the way, the California Golden Bears and Hawaii were set to continue their practice sessions in Australia on Wednesday ahead of the opening college football game of the season.

The midday Saturday game — prime time Friday night in the United States — will be held at Sydney’s Olympic stadium, where organizers expecting a crowd of more than 65,000.

On Tuesday, both teams were welcomed to the city at an Opera House reception. Cal coach Sonny Dykes and Hawaii coach Nick Rolovich were presented with Malibu-sized surfboards and some of the players posed for selfies with the iconic Opera House and bridge in the background.

After the festivities, both teams held workouts and Dykes said Cal got the kinks out during the fully-padded practice.

“The guys are getting acclimatized to Sydney time, so we had a good, intense practice and the guys worked hard,” Dykes said.

“Defensively it was one of the better ones we’ve had. Offensively I thought we were a little out of sync, but the guys were moving around well and I though mentally we were pretty sharp.”

Dykes said it was good to mingle with the Hawaii players at the Opera House welcome.

“It was a great activity, fun to see the guys from Hawaii,” he said. “It gets you thinking about the ball game when you see your opponent.”

Cal had a seven-win turnaround from the past two seasons, going from 1-11 in 2013 to 8-5 last year.

Hawaii, with former quarterback Rolovich in his first season as coach, is the most travelled team in U.S. college football. The Rainbow Warriors will play again on Sept. 3 when they make their first appearance at the Big House, taking on Michigan in Ann Arbor.

In the meantime, he’s happy to make his coaching debut Down Under and give his players a unique lifetime experience.

“If they kick me out of my country, I’m coming here, save me a room,” Rolovich told local media. “How many people get to play their first game in Australia in Sydney? Your grandkids aren’t going to believe you that you got to do this in September when you’re 20 years old.”

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NFL notebook: Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant suffers concussion http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/nfl-notebook-dallas-receiver-suffers-concussion/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/nfl-notebook-dallas-receiver-suffers-concussion/#comments Tue, 23 Aug 2016 23:58:29 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/nfl-notebook-dallas-receiver-suffers-concussion/ FRISCO, Texas — Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant will miss the next exhibition game after suffering a concussion in practice.

Coach Jason Garrett said Tuesday that Bryant was hurt a day earlier when Bryant’s head hit the shoulder pads of safety Barry Church. Garrett said Bryant was held out of the rest of that practice and won’t play Thursday night at Seattle.

On his Twitter account Tuesday, Bryant promised that he’s OK.

Garrett said Bryant seemed “much better” Tuesday and doesn’t think there’s a long-term concern.

TITANS: Tight end Craig Stevens is retiring immediately at the age of 31.

Stevens spent his entire eight-year NFL career with the Titans, who drafted him in the third round out of California in 2008.

VIKINGS: Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater resumed throwing with his sore shoulder.

Bridgewater threw a few dozen short and medium-length passes in practice for the first time in a week. He didn’t play in the exhibition game at Seattle and Coach Mike Zimmer has refused to discuss the injury.

CHARGERS: Right guard D.J. Fluker didn’t practice and is likely out for Sunday’s exhibition game at Minnesota.

Coach Mike McCoy said Fluker injured his right foot during Monday’s practice. Fluker, who contended with ankle and knee issues last year, had an MRI, which McCoy said was negative.

BRONCOS: Linebacker DeMarcus Ware returned to practice on a limited basis with the plan to have him ready for the opener against Carolina.

Ware missed training camp with a back issue that kept him out of five games in 2015 but said he feels much better than he did at the end of last season. He took part in the walkthrough and drills at the beginning of practice before going into the facility to work with strength and conditioning coach Luke Richesson.

GIANTS: Receiver Victor Cruz, who missed almost two weeks with a groin injury, returned to practice.

Cruz missed the opening two exhibition games and there’s no certainty he’ll be able to play Saturday night against the Jets.

RAIDERS: Tight end Colton Underwood said he never anticipated the kind of attention he would get when he sent gymnast Aly Raisman a video asking the Olympic gold medalist out on a date.

Underwood and Raisman have spoken since the video and Raisman, with some of her teammates, will be in San Jose, California, next month as part of a champions tour.

FALCONS: Running back Terron Ward and safety Kemal Ishmael will miss their second straight exhibition game when Atlanta plays Miami on Thursday night.

Ward (ankle) and Ishmael (shoulder) ran on the side in practice. Coach Dan Quinn said each has a good shot to return for next week’s final exhibition game against Jacksonville.

BILLS: Receiver Marquise Goodwin was evaluated for a possible concussion sustained during practice.

STEELERS: Linebacker James Harrison was informed that his meeting with NFL investigators is Thursday at the team practice facility.

The date meets the requirement the league sent out last week that Harrison and two other players – Green Bay linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers – must submit to interviews by Aug. 25 or face possible indefinite suspension. Harrison, Matthews and Peppers were among five players who were linked to performance-enhancing drugs in an Al Jazeera America documentary last December.

 Linebacker Vince Williams signed a three-year contract that will keep him in Pittsburgh through the 2018 season.

RAVENS: Quarterback Joe Flacco will make his exhibition debut and play Saturday at home against Detroit.

During a radio interview, Flacco acknowledged he would play Saturday after being held out of the first two exhibition games by Coach John Harbaugh.

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Oxford 250 driver seeking that final big step http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/oxford-250-driver-seeking-that-final-big-step/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/oxford-250-driver-seeking-that-final-big-step/#comments Tue, 23 Aug 2016 23:43:16 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/oxford-250-driver-seeking-that-final-big-step/ He may not consider himself a thrill seeker, but Reid Lanpher of Manchester already has ridden the roller coaster at Oxford Plains Speedway.

Lanpher, the 2015 Beech Ridge Motor Speedway champion, finished second in last year’s H.P. Hood Oxford 250, just two years after failing to qualify for the race. And while his first career start in the summer stock car tradition may have announced he arrived, he’s not so sure.

Even a year removed from finishing second behind Glen Luce, Lanpher said he has plenty to prove.

“I’d like to consider myself to have a good chance (at the 250),” the 18-year-old Lanpher said. “The car’s been going good. Then again, outside of the 250 last year, my best PASS finish is sixth place.

“I’m not ready to consider myself among that elite group of drivers. I haven’t earned that.”

Last year Lanpher rolled through the second half of the season, winning multiple feature events at Beech Ridge en route to his first NASCAR championship at the track. The second-place finish at the Oxford 250 cemented the notion his title run wasn’t a fluke.

But like Lanpher alluded to, his Pro All Stars Series career hasn’t been dominant. In 17 career starts he has five top-10s with the only top-five in the Oxford 250.

But there are signs he’s becoming more consistent. In a PASS race at Oxford on Aug. 1, Lanpher led a handful of laps before finishing sixth.

Three weeks later he won a 50-lap Super Late Model weekly feature at Oxford.

“We’ve got the car going good up there but I’m not going to toot my own horn,” Lanpher said.

Statistically he’s enjoying a better overall season than a year ago. Through the first eight races of the season at Beech Ridge, he has two wins and an average finish of 5.6, nearly four full spots ahead of his average finish for last year when he rolled to the track title. With one points race remaining, Lanpher is third, 13 points out of the lead.

Beech Ridge will settle its championship Sept. 3. Until then, it’s all eyes on the Oxford 250.

Though Lanpher doesn’t have as much personal history with the race as some other drivers, last year remains one of his career highlights.

“It’s like anything. The more times you fail at something, the more that success is going to mean to you when you get it,” Lanpher said. “Having been the first one I actually qualified for, I’m sure I don’t really grasp how awesome it was, but it does mean the world to me.”

One area where Lanpher said he struggles in the longer races is tire management. The same tricks that work on a 40- or 50-lap weekly feature don’t translate to 150- or 250-lap races when it comes to setup and nursing tires for the long haul.

“There are things you can get away with in weekly races with stagger and stuff that just don’t work in the longer races,” he said. “You take 150-lap tires, and really your fine-tuning is very fine because it all comes down to the end of the race.”

And the end of the race is why Lanpher chuckles when he sees Oxford 250 predictions start showing up on social media in the weeks leading to the race. With more than 70 cars expected to enter, several rounds of qualifying and stout competition, the only thing predictable about the Oxford 250 is its unpredictability.

“I think it’s hard to really consider anyone (as a favorite),” Lanpher said. “The odds are definitely against you when 70 or 80 cars show up. You can’t count anybody in or out at this point. … Look at all the PASS wins guys like D.J. (Shaw), Joey Doiron, Mike (Rowe) have. I could list 10 of them that I’d put way up there before me.”

The only problem with Lanpher’s reasoning is there was only one guy ahead of him at the checkered flag a year ago.

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A college football season of intrigue is approaching http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/a-college-football-season-of-intrigue-is-approaching/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/a-college-football-season-of-intrigue-is-approaching/#comments Tue, 23 Aug 2016 23:07:43 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/a-college-football-season-of-intrigue-is-approaching/ The clock continues to countdown toward what’s expected to be a great college football season, with games starting next week. Here are some of the pressing questions we’re looking forward to teams answering:

Will they or won’t they?

Yet again conference realignment rears its ugly head. The Big 12’s potential move toward expansion is casting a shadow over the rest of the landscape. As many as 20 schools reportedly were contacted after expressing interest in becoming candidates, leaving many wondering just what Big 12 officials are doing. And the longer the process drags on during the 2016 season, the more it takes away from the actual accomplishments on the football field.

Which teams could surprise in 2016?

Uncertainty swirled around the LSU program at the end of last season and it took a public push to prevent the administration from pushing Les Miles out the door. The community could use something positive to rally around amid flooding in Louisiana and the Tigers could fit the bill.

Everyone seems to be in love with Clemson and Florida State, but keep an eye out for Louisville. The Cardinals have one of the best defenses in the country and are flying low on the radar, making them a big threat.

There’s no denying the immediate impact felt by UCF’s hire of Scott Frost. Despite a winless 2015 season, fans are energized about the future of the program and they should be. While a bowl spot seems unlikely, expect the Knights to surprise some teams.

Is this a bounce back year for the Pac-12?

It’s inevitable with just four spots available in the new playoff semifinal system that a major conference is going to be on the outside looking in. That distinction fell to the Pac-12 last season, with parity washing over the conference and no team managing fewer than two losses. Expectations aren’t high entering this season, with Stanford serving as the league’s highest ranked team in preseason polls – No. 7 in the Associated Press poll, No. 8 in coaches’ poll.

Could the ACC land two teams in playoff?

The College Football Playoff has avoided the sticky situation of having two teams from the same conference wind up in the semifinals. It’s not far-fetched to believe it could happen, perhaps as soon as this season. Clemson and Florida State appear to be the most likely candidates even though both face off in a highly-anticipated matchup on Oct. 29. If the loser of that game ends the season with just one loss, it’s possible we could see both teams earn semifinal spots.

Is it time for Jim Harbaugh to put up or shut up?

Good or bad, Jim Harbaugh has certainly left an indelible impression on college football since taking the job at Michigan. He’s earned national attention for his social media jabs at fellow coaches, his recruiting tactics and his over-the-top approach to satellite football camps, helping resuscitate the Michigan brand. A 10-win 2015 season was a good start, but nothing short of a Big Ten title and a spot in the College Football Playoff semifinals could shut the haters up for good.

Can Alabama go wire-to-wire as No. 1 team?

History tells us it’s nearly impossible for a team to start the season as the No. 1 team and finish in the same spot. USC did it in 2004, as did Florida State in 1999. The chances of Alabama accomplishing the same feat are slim. The last two times the Tide started the season atop the polls, ‘Bama finished seventh (2013) and 10th (2010). Not to mention this squad has huge question marks at quarterback and running back positions and features just 13 returning starters.

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Ban on Russian athletes for Paralympics upheld http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/ban-on-russian-athletes-for-paralympics-upheld/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/ban-on-russian-athletes-for-paralympics-upheld/#comments Tue, 23 Aug 2016 22:44:18 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/ban-on-russian-athletes-for-paralympics-upheld/ GENEVA — Two days after Russia finished fourth in the Olympic medal table, its Paralympic team was barred from the next big games in Rio de Janeiro as punishment for state-backed doping.

Sport’s highest court on Tuesday upheld a decision by the International Paralympic Committee to exclude Russia. It was a step the IOC declined to take when it had the chance last month.

The 267 entries that Russian Paralympic athletes earned in 18 sports for the Sept. 7-18 games in Rio will be allocated to other nations not judged responsible for orchestrated cheating.

Russia won 36 gold medals at the 2012 Paralympics, second-most in London, and was a runaway table-topping leader at its home 2014 Winter Paralympics.

Still, the Sochi Winter Games and Winter Paralympics are now notorious for results corrupted by state-funded agencies plotting to swap tainted doping samples from Russian athletes for clean ones at official testing laboratories.

In the fallout from those recent revelations – by the Russian lab director who has fled to the United States and a World Anti-Doping Agency inquiry set up to investigate his claims – the Court of Arbitration for Sport announced its urgent verdict Tuesday.

CAS dismissed the Russian Paralympic Committee’s appeal against exclusion from competing in Rio after a hearing was held Monday in Brazil.

The court said its judges agreed the world Paralympic body “did not violate any procedural rule” in banning the Russian team two weeks ago.

In Rio, the IPC president, Philip Craven, said of Russia: “Their medals over morals mentality disgusts me.”

“(The) decision to ban the (Russians) was made in accordance with the IPC Rules and was proportionate in the circumstances,” the sports court said in a statement.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev blamed the doping ban on politics.

“The investigation about the Russian doping is a thick and disgusting mix containing 80 percent of politics and 20 percent of the actual doping, the politics targeting against sports, Russian athletes and Russia as a country,” he wrote in a Facebook post.

Medvedev described the ban as “a doubly cynical decision since we’re talking about people who have to overcome themselves every day. It’s a blow for all disabled people, not just the Russian ones.”

A further appeal to Switzerland’s federal court is possible, though unlikely before the games open, a lawyer representing the Russian athletes said in televised remarks.

The Swiss supreme court could intervene if the legal process was abused by Lausanne-based CAS, though it would not rejudge the evidence. The CAS panel was satisfied that organized Russia doping was proven.

The Russian appeal to CAS “did not file any evidence contradicting the facts on which the IPC decision was based,” the court’s judging panel said.

The world Paralympic governing body used evidence from an ongoing WADA-appointed investigation into a Russian state program of doping and cover-ups that ran from 2011 to 2015 in almost 30 summer and winter sports.

The IPC said two weeks ago it had evidence of manipulated doping tests relating to 44 Russian athletes, including 27 of competitors in eight sports on the Paralympic program.

Craven said the ruling was a “sad day for the Paralympic Movement, but we hope also a new beginning.”

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Tom Brady: Thumb injury was ‘silly accident’ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/tom-brady-thumb-injury-was-silly-accident/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/tom-brady-thumb-injury-was-silly-accident/#comments Tue, 23 Aug 2016 17:26:49 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/tom-brady-thumb-injury-was-silly-accident/ FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady is ready to play after cutting his right thumb with a pair of scissors in a “silly accident” before the Patriots preseason game against the Bears last week.

Brady said Tuesday he missed the first two practices this week for personal reasons, but that he’s available and ready to play as New England visits Carolina on Friday.

The 39-year-old quarterback has yet to appear in a game this preseason. He’s got two more games before the start of an NFL-issued four-game, regular-season suspension for his role in “Deflategate.”

He hasn’t missed a regular-season start since 2008, when he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during the season opener.

Brady said the accident with the scissors occurred when he was trying to get something out of his cleat and the scissors slipped and cut his thumb, causing him to “let out probably a pretty loud word I wouldn’t repeat in front of my kids.”

“I’m glad it wasn’t the regular season and I learned from it, so hopefully won’t be operating any more scissors for a while,” Brady said.

Brady said he wanted to play, but Coach Bill Belichick made the decision he’d sit out. It was a decision the former MVP agreed with.

“It took a few days (to heal),” Brady said. “I wanted to go and Coach said it’s probably best if you – for what I was gonna to go out and do – just take it easy. So that’s what I ended up doing. I wish I could have played. I’ve been missing playing. I want to get out there with my teammates.”

Belichick has said previously that Jimmy Garoppolo will start while Brady’s out, with Brady returning to the starting role once his suspension ends before New England’s game at Cleveland on Oct. 9.

Brady is eligible to participate in all preseason games and practices, but won’t be allowed to have contact with the team during his suspension.

Though he’s been a spectator this preseason, he said there has been a good dialogue between him and Garoppolo.

“We’re in every meeting together and there’s always a good back-and-forth in our room,” Brady said. “I think that’s really encouraged by (offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels) to speak up and say what you think. If you see someone maybe doing something a little bit different, we’re always trying to be on the same page.”

He said how he will handle staying in football shape during that time is still to be determined.

“I try to treat it no different,” Brady said. “I’ve always tried to do the best I can do to prepare and be ready to go. That’s the kind of mode that I’ve got to get into.”

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Sports court confirms Russia ban from Rio Paralympics http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/sports-court-confirms-russia-ban-from-rio-paralympics/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/sports-court-confirms-russia-ban-from-rio-paralympics/#comments Tue, 23 Aug 2016 10:12:09 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/sports-court-confirms-russia-ban-from-rio-paralympics/ LAUSANNE, Switzerland — The Court of Arbitration for Sport has confirmed Russia’s ban from the Paralympic Games as punishment for a state-backed doping program.

CAS announced its urgent verdict Tuesday to dismiss the Russian Paralympic Committee’s appeal against exclusion from the Sept. 7-18 games in Rio de Janeiro. A hearing was held in Rio on Monday.

The court said its judges ruled that the International Paralympic Committee “did not violate any procedural rule” in banning the Russian team two weeks ago.

Also, the panel says the Russian appeal “did not file any evidence contradicting the facts on which the IPC decision was based.”

This story will be updated.

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Red Sox Farm Report: Plenty of time for Henry Owens to grow into a role with the Red Sox http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/red-sox-farm-report-plenty-of-time-for-henry-owens-to-grow-into-a-role-with-the-red-sox/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/red-sox-farm-report-plenty-of-time-for-henry-owens-to-grow-into-a-role-with-the-red-sox/#comments Tue, 23 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1025824 As one Red Sox pitching prospect made his professional debut Monday, there are concerns about another pitching prospect after his performance Sunday.

Lefty Jason Groome, Boston’s first-round draft pick in June, pitched in the Gulf Coast League for the first time on Monday. He threw two innings, allowing one hit, no walks and striking out three.

Meanwhile, lefty Henry Owens got lit for eight earned runs over five innings Sunday in a spot start for the Boston Red Sox.

What to make of Owens?

Work to do? Obvious.

Salvageable? Sure.

Owens, who turned 24 last month, seems like he has been around for a long time. But it was only two years ago when he spent most of the season in Double-A Portland. He was the Eastern League’s Pitcher of the Year in 2014, going 14-4 with a 2.60 ERA, 126 strikeouts and 47 walks in 121 innings.

Owens was called up to the majors to finish last season, making 11 starts for Boston (4-4, 4.57 ERA). He had some strong starts (four into the eighth inning) and some clunkers (allowing seven earned runs three times).

Coming into this year, Owens was hardly a ready-for-the-majors product. The fact that he seems to be going backwards this season (0-1, 7.79 ERA) is troubling, but Owens has only started four games. On Sunday, four walks and two mislocated pitches (resulting in a pair of three-run homers by Justin Upton) were his downfall.

Owens’ trouble this year is command. While he is 8-6 for Triple-A Pawtucket with a 3.70 ERA this season, Owens also has the highest walk rate of his career (5.6 per nine innings).

Much is made of Owens needing to grow into his lanky 6-foot-7 frame (and his size 17 cleats). Two other tall lefties are an example. Six-foot-10 Randy Johnson was 25 when he reached the majors full time. Andrew Miller, 6-7, was 27 before he could be called successful, and that was out of the bullpen.

Both Johnson and Miller featured fastballs in the high 90s. Owens throws closer to 89-90, but it is his deceptive delivery and a complementary change-up that makes him effective.

On Sunday, Owens struck out five of seven batters. He fanned both Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez on four pitches, all fastballs. Owens used his curveball sparingly but with success (four balls, two called strikes, a foul and a flyout).

The Red Sox should be a long way from giving up on Owens. Not only will he have minor league options through 2018, but there are no pitchers at the Double-A level pushing for his spot in Pawtucket.

Owens has been hyped before he’s ready. We forget he was drafted out of high school. If he was chosen after his third year of college, he would be in only his second full professional season right now.

So give him time. There’s no need to rush, and the payoff may be worth it.

IN PAWTUCKET, lefty Brian Johnson could be the next pitcher to get a start with Boston. Since coming off the inactive list, he has made five straight strong starts – 3-1, 1.76 ERA, 20 strikeouts and seven walks in 302/3 innings..

Left-handed reliever Robby Scott is holding left-handed hitters to a .149 average (.228 against right-handers). In July and August, Scott has a 0.71 ERA in his last 10 outings. Has Boston noticed this?

IN PORTLAND, shortstop Mauricio Dubon is batting .435 in his last 12 games with three home runs. In 49 games with the Sea Dogs, Dubon is hitting .332/.891. … Infielder Yoan Moncada struggled Saturday, going 0 for 5, with five strikeouts, and two throwing errors at third base. … Aneury Tavarez continues to lead the Eastern League in batting (.335).

IN SALEM, Michael Kopech (3-1, 1.29 in nine starts) has 39 strikeouts and seven walks in his last four starts (22 innings). … Third baseman Rafael Devers (.289/.786) continues to sizzle in the second half (.330/.949 in 53 games). It was speculated (by me) that Devers might spend a couple of weeks with the Sea Dogs, but he will stay in Salem and play in the Carolina League playoffs.

IN GREENVILLE, outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe is batting .301/.889 in the second half, after a first-half slump. … Starter Roniel Raudes, only 18, has allowed three earned runs over his last four starts. He is 11-5 with a 3.73 ERA.

IN LOWELL, third baseman Bobby Dalbec is batting .373/1.090 with five home runs in 22 games. Dalbec was a fourth-round draft pick in June.

IN THE GULF Coast League, Groome was the center of attention Monday for his pro debut. Groome, who turns 18 on Tuesday, retired the first five batters (three strikeouts, groundout and flyout) before yielding a double. He then induced a groundout to end his outing.

NOTES: The Salem Red Sox will have more opposing teams to play next year. The Carolina League announced that it is expanding to 10 teams (adding Kinston and a TBA location) as two California League teams (Bakersfield and High Desert) are folding. … Former Red Sox infield prospect Sean Coyle, who was waived this year and picked up by the Angels, has been taken off Los Angeles’ 40-man roster and assigned to Double-A.

 

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Maine Milestones http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/maine-milestones-maine-golfers-make-aces/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/maine-milestones-maine-golfers-make-aces/#comments Tue, 23 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1025677 Brian Conger used an 8-iron to record a hole-in-one on the sixth hole at Gorham Country Club on Aug. 1. The 132-yard shot was witnessed by Mike Sinnett and David Waggoner.

Mitzi Frueauf carded a hole-in-one on the 81-yard second hole at Dunegrass Golf Club on Aug. 1. The shot was witnessed by Alex Frueauf.

John DeWolfe aced the eighth hole at Sanford Country Club on Aug. 4. He used a pitching wedge for the 141-yard shot, which was witnessed by Nate DeWolfe.

Greg Paradis made a hole-in-one on Aug. 5, using a pitching wedge from 129 yards on the 15th hole at Biddeford and Saco Country Club. The shot was witnessed by Guy Langelier, Jack Donilon and Bob Carlson.

Ralph Desmond aced the 16th hole at Sanford Country Club on Aug. 15. Desmond used a 7-wood for the 178-yard shot, which was witnessed by his playing partner, Paul Carrier.

Neila Nelke of Martindale Country Club, using a pitching wedge, scored a hole-in-one on the 79-yard seventh hole of the Tomahawk course at Natanis on Aug. 16. Michelle Atherton and Carole Cook witnessed the ace.

Don Curry aced the 156-yard seventh hole during the Maine Seniors Golf Association event at The Woodlands Club on Aug. 16. The shot was witnessed by Tim O’Neil, Dick Lewis and Peter Kendrick.

Steve Szostek made a hole-in-one on the fourth hole at Gorham Country Club on Aug. 21. Szostek used a 4-hybrid for the 150-yard shot, which was witnessed by Peter Chandler, Ken Hall and Joe Pacillo.

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Johnny Clark still driving for coveted title at Oxford Plains http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/clark-still-in-search-of-coveted-victory/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/23/clark-still-in-search-of-coveted-victory/#comments Tue, 23 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1025692 He’s won plenty of 250-lap races in his career, but it’s the one he hasn’t won yet that Johnny Clark thinks about the most.

Clark will join more than 70 other drivers on Sunday when he tries to win the H.P. Hood Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway. With a guaranteed winner’s purse of $25,000 – plus plenty more in lap-leader bonuses – the race remains the crown jewel of auto racing in northern New England.

The six-time Pro All Stars Series champion Clark has won the PASS 300 at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway four times in his career, the DNK Select 250 at Unity Raceway in 2004, the Toyota Tundra 250 at Wiscasset Speedway in 2008 and the Auto Value 250 at Speedway 660 in Canada. The Oxford 250, however, is virtually the only title to elude him in his nearly 20-year racing career.

“When Glen (Luce) won it last year, it was the biggest thing he’d ever done in racing,” Clark said. “I honestly feel like if I won it, it would be the biggest thing I’d ever done, too, and I’ve been so fortunate to win so many big-money races all over Canada and here (in the northeast).

“There’s just nothing that can prepare you for this race.”

Clark will be the first to admit that he’s not the same terror he once was on the PASS North Series circuit, where he has 35 career wins and six championships. But after taking a break at this time last season to try to get his program back on track, Clark, of Hallowell, has seen his fortunes turn.

While he has yet to win this season, the 36-year-old driver is third in the standings with three top fives and eight top 10s through 11 races. He enters Oxford 250 week with two third-place finishes in his last three races.

“We’re in a better place than we were last year at this same time,” Clark said. “We’ve had three thirds this year, and while those are not exactly the finishes we want, we’re in the hunt. We’re closing in on second (in the standings) and still have a chance to win it.

“Glen wasn’t on anybody’s radar to win the 250 last year before he did. The fact I’m not on too many people’s radar this year doesn’t bother me. No one will really know until you get late into the race on Sunday night who has a chance to win, just like it’s always been in this race. But I feel like at the end of the 250, we’re going to have as good a shot as anyone. I really do.”

In the most recent PASS race at Oxford on Aug. 1, Clark finished 13th. But he knows as well as anyone that, while that race is traditionally billed as the last true test session for the Oxford 250, it has little bearing on what can happen this weekend on the flat, notoriously finicky .375-mile oval.

Clark is also in the company of a handful of drivers who have come oh-so-close to winning the Oxford 250.

In 2004, he sat on the pole and led 125 of the first 128 laps before getting collected when a lapped car spun in front of him to end his race early. The following summer, Clark was leading with 10 laps to go before three-time 250 champion Mike Rowe, of Turner, made the pass for the win, relegating Clark to runner-up status. Last year, he raced with the leaders for the first half of the race, only to have pit road traffic cost him track position with 60 laps remaining. He battled back to fourth at the checkered flag.

“(Last year) hurt,” said Clark, who was racing with a fractured shoulder suffered in a work accident at the time.

“It really stinks to have that good of a car at the 250 and not win. How many opportunities do you get with that good of a car in this race?”

On Sunday, the driver who made his debut in the race as a 17-year-old in 1997 – at the time the youngest qualifier in history – will have another chance to put all of those memories to rest with the biggest win of his career.

“It truly bugs me that we’re not winning six races a year like we did there for a bunch of years,” said Clark, who from 2004-2012 won multiple PASS races every season except for in 2006, when he won his second championship. “Of course this is a race we work hard at. It’s hard to spend the same amount of time at 36 as it was at 26 to prepare for it, but this is a big race. It will be all hands on deck this week to get ready for it.

“Of course, it’s the Oxford 250, but you’ve got to block that stuff out when Sunday comes. All you’ve got to do is have a chance and be there to see how it plays out at the end.”

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Major league roundup: Dodgers hit seven homers in 18-9 romp over Reds http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/22/major-league-roundup-dodgers-hit-seven-homers-in-18-9-romp-over-reds/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/22/major-league-roundup-dodgers-hit-seven-homers-in-18-9-romp-over-reds/#comments Tue, 23 Aug 2016 03:20:21 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/22/major-league-roundup-dodgers-hit-seven-homers-in-18-9-romp-over-reds/ CINCINNATI — Adrian Gonzalez hit three of the Dodgers’ seven homers – driving in a career-high eight runs – and rookie Corey Seager had a noteworthy homer as well on Monday, leading Los Angeles to an 18-9 victory and a split of its four-game series with the Cincinnati Reds.

The NL West leaders enjoyed their biggest home run splurge in 10 years. They’ve won 10 of their last 12 games against Cincinnati.

Gonzalez started it with a three-run shot in the first inning off Homer Bailey (2-2), who had his worst showing since returning from Tommy John surgery. The first baseman also had a solo shot in the fifth, when the Dodgers connected four times overall.

Gonzalez’s three-run shot in the seventh tied his career high for homers. He drove in another run with a groundout as the Dodgers scored 18 runs for the first time in 10 years.

The Dodgers needed the big game offensively. Left-hander Scott Kazmir lasted a season-low 22/3 innings, giving up six hits and four runs. Joey Votto singled home a run off reliever Jesse Chavez (1-0), one of his four RBI.

There were homer notes galore:

 Seager’s two-run shot game him 22 homers, trying Glenn Wright’s club record for a shortstop from 1930. He tied his career high with four hits and extended his hitting streak to 13 games.

 The Dodgers piled up seven homers for the first time since Sept. 18, 2006 against San Diego. The seven homers allowed by Reds pitchers tied the club record.

 Andrew Toles and Rob Segedin hit their first career homers back-to-back in the fifth, becoming the first Dodger duo to accomplish that one.

 The last time the Dodgers hit four homers in an inning was Sept. 28, 2006 against San Diego.

BREWERS 4, ROCKIES 2: Chris Carter homered and Jimmy Nelson won for the first time in seven starts as Milwaukee won at home. Nelson (7-13) gave up two runs and seven hits in six innings. He hadn’t pitched past the fifth in any of his previous six starts. Nelson struck out four and didn’t walk a batter for the first time this season.

INTERLEAGUE

ORIOLES 4, NATIONALS 3: Mark Trumbo hit his major league-leading 38th home run, Jonathan Schoop also went deep and host Baltimore won a matchup between neighboring contenders.

Rookie Dylan Bundy (7-4) pitched six innings of three-hit ball for the Orioles, who had lost five of their previous six games – all at home. The victory lifted Baltimore within two games of first-place Toronto in the AL East.

Bundy gave up two runs, walked four and struck out four. He’s 5-3 with a 3.56 ERA in eight games since joining the starting rotation on July 17.

Zach Britton worked a perfect ninth to earn his 38th save in 38 tries. The left-hander has not allowed an earned run in 43 games since May 5.

Pitching in his fourth major league game and making his second start, A.J. Cole allowed five hits in seven innings. The right-hander struck out eight and walked two.

Anthony Rendon and Danny Espinosa homered for the NL East-leading Nationals and Daniel Murphy had his 48th multihit game.

ASTROS 3, PIRATES 1: Doug Fister pitched seven scoreless innings and Teoscar Hernandez hit a two-run homer as Houston won at Pittsburgh.

Hernandez connected off fellow rookie Jameson Taillon (3-3) in the fifth inning after A.J. Reed’s leadoff walk. It was the third home run for Hernandez, who was called up from Triple-A Fresno on Aug. 12 to make his major league debut.

Alex Bregman, another Astros rookie, hit his fourth homer in the ninth inning off Neftali Feliz.

Fister struck out six, walked one and retired 11 of the first 12 batters.

He had allowed nine runs and 11 hits over nine innings in his previous two starts.

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Red Sox move into first-place tie with 6-2 win over Rays http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/22/red-sox-move-into-first-place-tie-with-6-2-win-over-rays/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/22/red-sox-move-into-first-place-tie-with-6-2-win-over-rays/#comments Tue, 23 Aug 2016 02:50:21 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/22/red-sox-move-into-first-place-tie-with-6-2-win-over-rays/ ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — David Price limited his former team to two hits in eight scoreless innings, helping the Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-2 on Monday night to move into a tie for first place in the AL East.

Price (12-8) walked two, struck out eight and didn’t allow a runner past first base while extending Tampa Bay’s scoring drought against Boston to 25 innings dating to a series at Fenway Park before the All-Star break. Evan Longoria stopped the streak with a two-run homer off Matt Barnes in the ninth.

Boston’s Andrew Benintendi drove in a run with a fourth-inning sacrifice fly. Benintendi also kept Price’s bid for a shutout alive by denying Steven Souza Jr. what would have been a two-run homer with an eighth-inning catch that nearly sent him tumbling over a short wall in the left-field corner.

The victory was the ninth in 11 games for the Red Sox and lifted them into a tie with Toronto, which was idle Monday.

Chris Young returned from a two-month stay on the disabled list to drive in a run with a double off Blake Snell (4-6), Hanley Ramirez had a sacrifice fly in the seventh and Xander Bogaerts added a two-run homer off Danny Farquhar in the ninth.

Price, who also pitched eight scoreless innings against his former team during a 4-0 victory in Boston on July 10, won for the first time as a visitor in four decisions at Tropicana Field.

Benintendi started the game in center field. He moved to left after Young was removed for pinch-runner Jackie Bradley Jr. in the eighth. The maneuvering looked like a stroke of genius when Benintendi chased down Souza’s fly ball in the corner and made a running catch before nearly flipping over the wall.

Snell, who got his first big league win against the Red Sox on June 27, threw 94 pitches and allowed four hits and five walks in 3 2/3 innings, yet Boston was only able to build a 2-0 lead against the 23-year-old rookie.

To make room for Young, who missed 51 games with a hamstring injury, the Red Sox optioned LHP Henry Owens to Triple-A Pawtucket.

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Sports Digest: Red Claws start on Nov. 11, play home opener Nov. 18 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/22/sports-digest-red-claws-start-on-nov-11-home-opener-is-nov-18/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/22/sports-digest-red-claws-start-on-nov-11-home-opener-is-nov-18/#comments Tue, 23 Aug 2016 02:41:29 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/22/sports-digest-red-claws-start-on-nov-11-home-opener-is-nov-18/ BASKETBALL

The Maine Red Claws, the NBA Development League affiliate of the Boston Celtics, begin their season Nov. 11 with a three-game swing at Oklahoma City, Texas and Rio Grande Valley.

Maine will open its home schedule at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18, at the Portland Expo against the Long Island Nets, followed by home games against Grand Rapids at 1 p.m. Nov. 20 and Fort Wayne at 7 p.m. Nov. 22.

The league schedule, released Monday, also has Maine hosting Windy City in a New Year’s Eve matinee, as well as a showdown with Los Angeles at the Expo on Dec. 17 and a St. Patrick’s Day home game on Friday, March 17 against Erie.

The Red Claws will play 24 home games and 24 road games, as well as two games at the annual NBA D-League Showcase in January.

The league has expanded this season to a total of 22 teams with the addition of Long Island (Brooklyn Nets), the Windy City Bulls (Chicago Bulls), and the Greensboro Swarm (Charlotte Hornets).

BASEBALL

LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES: Michael Mancini allowed just four hits and struck out 13 in 51/3 innings to help Endwell, New York beat Goodlettsville, Tennessee 3-1 at South Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

 Esmith Pineda and Carlos Gonzalez combined to strike out 14 and Jose Torres had a bases-loaded walk in the sixth inning to give Panama a 3-2 victory over Australia.

• Isaiah Jensen allowed just two hits and no earned runs in 41/3 innings to help Bend, Oregon beat Emilia, Italy 6-2.

AUTO RACING

INDYCAR: Will Power continued his stirring late-season run, holding pole-sitter Mikhail Aleshin at bay after a final restart, and won the rain-delayed race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.

It was the fourth win in six races for Power and cut 38 points off the lead in the standings held by Team Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud, who finished 18th after a late crash. Power now trails by 20 points with three races remaining in the season.

TENNIS

CONNECTICUT OPEN: Caroline Wozniacki entered the tournament in New Haven, Connecticut as a wild card, hoping a tournament she has won four times would help her tune up for the U.S. Open.

Instead, the former top-ranked player from Denmark saw her struggles continue in a 7-5, 6-2 first-round loss to Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia.

Wozniacki was coming off a second-round loss to Petra Kvitova at the Olympics.

Kvitova advanced with a 1-6, 6-1, 6-3 win over American Louisa Chirico.

CYCLING

SPANISH VUELTA: Alexandre Geniez of France held off an attack by the title favorites on a brutal final climb to win the third stage at Mirador de Ezaro, Spain.

COLLEGES

MEN’S SOCCER: Division I men’s soccer coaches have begun a public campaign to revolutionize their sport by stretching the compact fall season across the full academic year.

The proposal would reduce the number of fall games, create a winter break, add games in the spring, reduce weekday games and bring both the conference and national tournaments to weather-friendly May and June.

The coaches are aiming to submit a formal proposal to the NCAA by a Nov. 1 deadline. Otherwise they’ll have to wait another year to submit.

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Major league notebook: Nationals put Strasburg on DL http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/22/major-league-notebook-nationals-put-strasburg-on-dl/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/22/major-league-notebook-nationals-put-strasburg-on-dl/#comments Tue, 23 Aug 2016 02:39:23 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/22/major-league-notebook-nationals-put-strasburg-on-dl/ BALTIMORE — Stephen Strasburg’s weary right elbow was stiff and in dire need of some rest, so the Washington Nationals put their winningest pitcher on the 15-day disabled list Monday.

The right-hander was willing to pitch through the pain for the NL East-leading Nationals, but Manager Dusty Baker had other plans.

“I told him we hadn’t won anything yet and that we had to look at the big picture,” Baker said. “Hopefully he’ll be good in September and hopefully in October.”

Baker expected Strasburg (15-3, 3.59 ERA) to spend the minimum amount of time on the DL.

“He knows how bad we need him to pitch,” Baker said. “I had to explain to him that it’s not hero time.”

Asked if he considered it to be a precautionary move, Strasburg replied, “One hundred percent.”

After bolting to a 15-1 start this season, Strasburg was 0-3 with a 14.66 ERA over his past three outings.

METS: Just as they hoped to gain momentum for a second-half playoff run, the Mets absorbed yet another hit to their vaunted starting rotation when lefty Steven Matz was placed to the disabled list with a shoulder injury.

Though no structural damage was found, Matz was diagnosed with left shoulder tightness.

Right-hander Robert Gsellman will be promoted to take Matz’s spot on the roster.

RANGERS: Texas cleared a spot on its active roster for Derek Holland to make his first start in two months, but it still has to make another move before the left-hander pitches Tuesday at Cincinnati.

While the Rangers were off Monday, the team optioned right-hander Nick Martinez to Triple-A Round Rock.

The Rangers will have to make a corresponding move on their 40-man roster before Tuesday’s game for Holland, who has been on the 60-day disabled list because of left shoulder inflammation. His last start for Texas was June 20.

Holland is 5-5 with a 5.20 ERA in 14 starts for the Rangers this season.

PIRATES: Infielder David Freese signed a two-year, $11 million contract that takes him through the 2018 season.

PADRES: San Diego recalled infielder Luis Sardinas from Triple-A El Paso. Sardinas, who was acquired from the Seattle Mariners on Aug. 15, hit .263 in five games at El Paso.

Outfielder Jabari Blash was placed on the disabled list, retroactive to Friday, with a sprained left finger.

ROCKIES: Colorado recalled right-handed reliever Carlos Estevez from Triple-A Albuquerque and placed right-hander Scott Oberg on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Aug. 20, with axillary artery thrombosis in his right arm.

Estevez went 2-7 with 11 saves and a 5.28 ERA in 49 appearances before being optioned to Albuquerque on Aug. 19. He was replaced as the closer by Adam Ottavino after blowing consecutive saves earlier this month.

DARRYL STRAWBERRY SAID Monday that he “knew” Dwight Gooden had a drug problem during the taping of their ESPN 30-for-30 documentary last year, but “I kept it quiet.”

But Strawberry, speaking in a telephone interview, said he decided last week that he would no longer cover for his longtime former teammate after Gooden failed to show for a WFAN appearance, prompting Strawberry to go public about his fear for Gooden’s life.

Gooden responded Saturday by saying he’s “well” and added in a text message Monday that Strawberry is levying “false accusations.”

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NFL notebook: Injuries piling up for Patriots http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/22/nfl-notebook-injuries-piling-up-for-patriots/ http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/22/nfl-notebook-injuries-piling-up-for-patriots/#comments Tue, 23 Aug 2016 02:31:49 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2016/08/22/nfl-notebook-injuries-piling-up-for-patriots/ FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — For months the biggest question facing the Patriots was whether Tom Brady would be on the field for the start of the 2016 regular season.

While that question has been answered, it’s not the only issue to resolve for New England’s offense as it prepares for its third preseason game.

Running back Dion Lewis has yet to appear in a training camp practice or preseason game. He had ACL surgery on his left knee in November and now reportedly could be facing a second procedure.

There are also health concerns on the offensive line. Sebastian Vollmer was expected to be the starter at right tackle, but has missed both preseason games and remains on the physically unable to perform list with an undisclosed issue.

In addition, guard Shaq Mason, who was not in uniform last week against Chicago after starting the preseason opener, reportedly has a broken hand. Lewis, Vollmer and Mason were all absent from the practice field on Monday.

Brady was also absent after not being on the sideline for his second straight preseason game. Coach Bill Belichick declined to give details, saying only “I don’t comment on any personal situations.”

What Belichick has acknowledged is that because of Brady’s upcoming four-game “Deflategate” suspension, the priority is to get Jimmy Garoppolo ready to play.

The Patriots were hoping to see Lewis, who had four touchdowns in seven games before his injury last year, ready in time for the regular season after getting him back on the field in June during their offseason program.

Losing Mason would also be a setback after he appeared in 14 games with 10 starts in 2015. The same can be said for Vollmer, a fixture on New England’s line since arriving in 2009.

The most likely candidate to step into Vollmer’s spot at right tackle is Marcus Cannon.

BRONCOS: Coach Gary Kubiak named Trevor Siemian the starter for the Broncos’ third preseason game over Mark Sanchez and said he will decide next week who will be under center against Carolina for the season opener on Sept. 8.

49ers: Colin Kaepernick is on track to make his preseason debut Friday against the Packers in San Francisco’s third preseason game.

WASHINGTON: Matt Jones will miss the rest of the preseason with a left shoulder injury, but Washington hopes its top running back will be ready for the start of the regular season.

GIANTS: New York signed place-kicker Randy Bullock and waived free agent Tom Obarski.

The Giants made the move Monday, electing to sign a veteran with Josh Brown suspended for the regular-season opener against Dallas on Sept. 11.

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