Down to what sure felt like her last chance, Serena Williams came through with a cross-court forehand winner to close a 24-stroke point, then raised her arms, held that celebratory pose and looked over toward her guest box.
Finally, on her sixth try, after 1½ hours of action, she had managed to convert a break point against 27th-seeded Wang Qiang in the Australian Open’s third round.
Right then, it appeared that the comeback was on, the bid for a 24th Grand Slam singles title could continue. It turned out that Williams only was delaying a surprising defeat.
So tough at the toughest moments for so many years, Williams just could not quite do enough to put aside some shaky serving and all manner of other miscues, instead making her earliest exit at Melbourne Park in 14 years, a 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-5 loss to Wang on Friday.
“I was optimistic that I would be able to win. I thought, ‘OK, now finish this off.’ I honestly didn’t think I was going to lose that match,” Williams said about her mindset after forcing a third set.
She began by crediting Wang but eventually shifted to criticizing herself for not playing well enough to win.
“I didn’t return like Serena. Honestly, if we were just honest with ourselves, I lost that match,” Williams said. “I can’t play like that. I literally can’t do that again. It’s unprofessional. It’s not cool.”
Williams was broken in the final game after more than 2 1/2 hours, fittingly ending things with a backhand into the net. That was her 27th unforced error on the backhand side, part of a total of 56 miscues. Wang made only 20.
“I’m better than that,” Williams said.
As Williams trudged through the long walkway that leads to the locker room, Wang was interviewed in Rod Laver Arena, telling the crowd: “I think my team always believed I can do it.”
Since grabbing major championship No. 23 at the 2017 Australian Open, while she was pregnant, Williams hasn’t added to her total.
She appeared in four major finals over the past two seasons, losing each one.
And she bowed out much, much sooner this time, animated as can be, often displaying what she later called “the signature ‘Serena frustration’ look.”
Williams owns seven trophies from the Australian Open and hadn’t lost as early as the third round since all the way back in 2006.
Here is just one measure of how unexpected this result was: The only other time these two women faced each other came at the U.S. Open last September — the only Slam quarterfinal appearance of Wang’s career — and Williams needed all of 44 minutes to dominate her way to a 6-1, 6-0 victory. The total points were 50 to 15.
“After last time,” Wang said, “I did really hard work on the court, off the court.”
China’s Wang Qiang reacts after defeating g Serena Williams of the U.S. in their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Wang quickly surpassed those game and point totals Friday, thanks in large part to nearly flawless play in the first set.
She saved all four break points she faced in that set, accumulated 10 winners and made just five unforced errors. Wang picked up the lone break she needed at love with an easy forehand putaway winner that made it 5-4.
Soon enough, Williams was sailing a backhand return long to cede the set. Wang quickly went up in the second, too, and already was ahead by a break at 4-2 when she was a point away from earning another.
But Williams steadied herself there to hold. Then, when Wang served for the victory at 5-4 in the second, Williams seemed to shift the entire complexion of the match.
She was 0 for 5 on break points until then but the sixth time was the charm. On the point of the match, with both players slugging away from the baseline, it was Williams who did what it took to take it.
She was superior in the tiebreaker, too, and on they went to a third set.
“During the second set, (I was) a little bit confused. … I have to be calm, you know?” Wang said. “A little bit confused inside, but my mind always told me I had to focus on the court, focus on the point and trust myself.”
Asked whether she would party Friday night, Wang offered a simple answer: “No.”
So what were her plans?
“Rest,” she said, “and just prepare for the next match.”
That will come against 78th-ranked Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, who ended the career of Caroline Wozniacki by eliminating the 2018 Australian Open champion and former No. 1 by a 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 score.
The 29-year-old Wozniacki had announced that she would retire after this tournament and after what became her final match, she sat on her courtside chair and cried.
At least the Dane was able to quickly joke about the circumstances, saying: “It was only fitting that my last match ended with a forehand error.”
She and Williams are close friends and their matches ended around the same time. They ran into each other in the locker and “were both kind of bummed,” said Williams, who teared up herself while discussing Wozniacki.
Other winners early Friday included No. 1 Ash Barty, two-time major champion Petra Kvitova and No. 22 Maria Sakkari.
This was the first Grand Slam tournament in 11 years with each of the top 10 seeded women reaching the third round. Who would have suspected Williams would be the first to lose?
Williams was only seeded No. 8, on account of how infrequently she has competed since being away from the tour while having a baby daughter in September 2017.
But she is still about as good as it gets in women’s tennis, as evidenced by her so-close-yet-so-far Grand Slam showings of late: The 38-year-old American was the runner-up at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in both 2018 and 2019.
She started 2020 well enough, winning a hard-court tuneup title in Auckland, New Zealand, this month for her first trophy of any sort in three years — and first as a mom.
But Williams wasn’t able to carry that success to the Grand Slam level, where it matters the most to her.
“I’m way too old to play like this at this stage of my career,” Williams said. “Definitely going to be training tomorrow, that’s first and foremost — to make sure I don’t do this again.”
Two-time Super Bowl winner Eli Manning leaving football with an impressive stat line that topped nearly every passing record in New York Giants history.
Manning, 39, finished his career with 57,023 passing yards, 366 touchdown passes and 4,895 completions. As a starter in the regular season, he finished with a 117-117 record over the course of 16 years.
The Giants issued a statement following the retirement announcement, saluting Manning for his contributions to the organization and highlighting his two Super Bowl MVPs.
“For 16 seasons, Eli Manning defined what it is to be a New York Giant both on and off the field,” said John Mara, the Giants’ president and chief executive officer.
File-This Feb. 3, 2008, file photo shows New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, left, and his coach Tom Coughlin looking at the Vince Lombardi Trophy as they celebrate after the Giants beat the New England Patriots 17-14 in the Super Bowl XLII football game in Glendale, Ariz. The man who has been the face of the New York Giants since 2004 is probably going to make his final appearance this weekend. Manning’s 16-year Giants’ career that has included two Super Bowl titles likely will come to an end Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, when New York tries to spoil the Philadelphia Eagles bid to win the NFC East. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
“Eli is our only two-time Super Bowl MVP and one of the very best players in our franchise’s history,” he continued. “He represented our franchise as a consummate professional with dignity and accountability. It meant something to Eli to be the Giants quarterback, and it meant even more to us.”
Manning is most remembered for leading the Giants past the Patriots in the 2008 Super Bowl and spoiling their chance at an undefeated season with a last-minute touchdown. New York won with a final score of 17-14. The Giants met the Patriots in the Super Bowl again in 2012 and won their fourth championship in team history, with a score of 21-17.
The Giants thanked Manning on Twitter on Wednesday and provided a video of his top 10 moments with the team.
“10 perfect moments from Eli’s career #ThankYouEli,” the team said.
Manning is also the only player in franchise history to suit up for 16 seasons; his 236 regular season games (234 starts) and 248 total games are both Giant records.
He will make his official retirement announcement on Friday morning during a Giants news conference, ESPN reported.
Somebody think that Zion Williamson need to lose weight. But he didnt late with respond on criticism.
ZION WILLIAMSON’S EXCEPTIONAL DEBUT PROVIDES PELICANS HOPE
“There’s really no comparison to me. I try to add every level to my game,” Williamson said. “My body is just built different. Some people try to look at it as a weakness, but I look at it as a blessing. People aren’t used to guarding this kind of size and I’m able to add a little finesse to my game so it has flavor and I’m a playmaker so I can create for my teammates and when I have to finish I’m gonna finish.”
Williamson finished with 22 points with seven rebounds and three assists. He scored 17 of the 22 points in the fourth quarter, but New Orleans couldn’t get the win. The Pelicans lost 121-117.
ZION WILLIAMSON REVEALS HE WANTED TO RETURN TO DUKE, WAS CONVINCED TO TURN PRO
The rookie had some restrictions in his first game, though the fans were egging on coach Alvin Gentry to put him into the game in the final five minutes. Gentry said he was advised by the team’s medical personnel to keep him on a minutes limit in his first few games.
“What you saw there is a taste of once we really get settled in and he gets settled in, you can see that there’s a lot of things we can do with him,” Gentry said. “There’s a lot of potential there. It was good to see him do that, but you know I think there’s a really, really high ceiling that he can reach.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Former Mississippi State football star De’Runnya Wilson was found dead in an apparent homicide at an Alabama home Tuesday, police said.
Wilson, 25, was found inside a Birmingham home unresponsive by a relative, police said. Wilson’s death was being investigated as a homicide, police Sgt. Johnny Williams said.
JALEN HURTS EYES NFL, WITH ‘BOULDER’ NOT CHIP ON SHOULDER
A cause of death wasn’t immediately released.
Wilson was a high school basketball standout in Alabama. He was named a first-team Parade All-American and the state’s Mr. Basketball in 2013, according to AL.com. He played football his senior season in high school and went on to play for Mississippi State in college.
Mississippi State wide receiver De’Runnya Wilson, left, and quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, right, celebrate with the rest of their team after defeating Missouri 31-13 in an NCAA college football game in Columbia, Mo. in 2015. (AP Photo/L.G Patterson, File)
He played three seasons at Mississippi State. Through his entire collegiate career, he recorded 132 catches for 1,936 yards and 22 touchdowns, playing partially with Dak Prescott. He finished in the top 10 in the SEC in several categories in his junior season in 2015 — receptions (59), receiving yards (905) and touchdowns (10).
JOE BURROW REVEALS WHICH NFL TEAM HE’S WILLING TO PLAY FOR
He left school early to turn pro but went undrafted. He later spent time on the Chicago Bears’ practice squad.
Mississippi State’s football Twitter accounted tweeted a statement about Wilson’s death.
“Tonight, we mourn the loss of Former Bulldog De’Runnya Wilson. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. Thanks for the many memories you us, ‘Bear.’”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
When it comes to sports, Las Vegas is more than just a boxing town, thanks largely to the 2017 arrival of the Golden Knights, who went to the N.H.L. championship final in their inaugural season.
Now, as the N.F.L.’s Oakland Raiders team prepares to move to Vegas this year, professional sports — both live and broadcast — are ascendant tourist attractions.
“If you’re going to see an away game, what better place to do it than Las Vegas?” said Derek Stevens, who operates several downtown casinos and is building the new Circa Resort & Casino with a three-story, stadium-style sports book.
The arrival of professional hockey and football to Las Vegas dovetails with a surge in sports betting nationally that has inspired local casinos to redesign their betting areas, known as sports books, to energize the fan experience.
In 2018, the Supreme Court lifted a federal ban on sports betting known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (Nevada had been exempted from the 1992 law). Legal sports betting is now available in several states, including New York and New Jersey. In 2018, revenue from sports betting grew to $430 million from $261 million in 2017, according to the American Gaming Association.
“The ruling has opened sports betting up to more people,” said David G. Schwartz, a gaming historian at the University of Las Vegas. “People now come to sports books not as a place with weird numbers. They actually understand it.”
Since then, casinos have begun positioning Las Vegas as the epicenter of sports wagering — worth the trek instead of visiting a facsimile closer to home.
Initially designed as amenities for casino gamblers to keep them in house, sports books tended to look like business centers with rows of desks facing vast walls of screens broadcasting games and betting odds. Though they filled up during major events like the Super Bowl and the N.C.A.A. March Madness tournament, the books are now getting needed makeovers as inviting places to catch the action.
“It was rows of seats facing the TVs and tellers,” said George Kliavkoff, the president of entertainment and sports at MGM Resorts International, which aims to apply the same design sense it brings to its nightclubs and restaurants at properties like the Bellagio and Park MGM to remodeled sports books. “We’re rethinking them to be more entertaining and engaging sports bars that happen to be a place you can place a bet.”
At the Park MGM, the recently updated Moneyline Sports Bar & Book looks more like a neighborhood sports bar — albeit with bigger and more numerous screens — with large booths where groups can gather and a “tailgate menu” offering cheeseburgers and nachos. The teller area, where the betting takes place, is in the entry foyer.
Up the street, The Linq Hotel + Experience has updated its sports book to include “Fan Caves,” living room-style areas available for rent with 98-inch televisions guests can control, video games and nightclub-style bottle service. The resort is also building a studio for the sports network ESPN overlooking the Strip, to be completed next spring. (Its sibling resort, Caesars Palace, now has a Bleacher Report Studio producing content for the popular sports app and steaming service.)
“We wanted to create an actual living room experience where fans can be social together,” said Chris Holdren, the chief marketing officer for Caesars Entertainment, which runs The Linq, Caesars Palace and several other resorts. “In traditional sports books, you were lined up and if you wanted to high-five after your team scored, it meant going down the aisle.”
Making casinos more game-day friendly may expand their appeal. Research by the American Gaming Association found that sports bettors are generally younger, more affluent, more ethnically diverse and better educated than the general population of the United States.
In terms of live sports, Las Vegas has the W.N.B.A. Aces, pro soccer’s Lights, and Triple-A baseball’s Aviators, as well as pro hockey. Major League Baseball exhibition games have been held in Las Vegas nearly every year since 1991 and will take place again in February and March 2020 in the newly constructed Las Vegas Ballpark. Still, only 4 percent of visitors attended a sporting event in 2018, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
Operators here expect that to change given the popularity of football, America’s favorite spectator sport, according to a 2017 Gallup poll. The Raiders organization said that it has already sold 99 percent of the licenses to buy season tickets. Leading up to the team’s debut, Las Vegas will hold the NFL Draft, April 23 to 25.
The Las Vegas-based low-cost carrier Allegiant Air bought the naming rights to the new 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium where the Raiders will play, going up just west of the Mandalay Bay resort and expected to open in August. The airline plans to offer packages that bundle tickets, hotel rooms and airfare, starting at roughly $500 a person. It also plans to increase capacity to Oakland, Fresno and Stockton in football season and offer charters to fans of Raiders’ opponents where it doesn’t already have service.
Resorts, too, plan to offer comprehensive package deals — yet to be determined or priced — with rooms, concerts and games. And if fans can’t get a ticket, there’s always the amped-up sports books.
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Don’t even start with the Rookie of the Year Award stuff.
Beginning with his scheduled return from injury Wednesday night against the San Antonio Spurs, Zion Williamson can, at most, play 38 games for the New Orleans Pelicans in his first N.B.A. campaign.
Not enough games, in other words, to erase the considerable lead Memphis’s Ja Morant has taken in the R.O.Y. race.
(Full disclaimer: I most certainly did support Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid in 2017’s R.O.Y. balloting even though Embiid played in just 31 games, but that was because there was no Morant — or anyone close to Embiid’s peak level — that season.)
The belief here, mind you, is that Williamson doesn’t really care much about his R.O.Y. chances at this point. Not after what he has been through already — forced to miss 13 weeks, rather than the initially projected six to eight — after needing surgery on his right knee just before the regular season.
Finding a new focus should be relatively easy, too, given that Williamson and the Pelicans will be chasing something more meaningful than rookie hardware over the next three months.
How does a first-round series against LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers sound?
It would have been laughable to even suggest that when the Pelicans were in the midst of a 13-game losing streak that dumped them into a 6-22 hole. But New Orleans awoke on Tuesday just three and a half games out of a playoff spot after the Pelicans beat Morant and Co. in Memphis on Martin Luther King Day — with Williamson in street clothes for hopefully the final time this season.
The mere notion of a LeBron vs. Zion duel in the opening round is possible, of course, only because the West is poised to house a sub-.500 playoff team for the first time since the 1996-97 season.
Yet the whispers emanating from the Big Easy suggest that the Pelicans believe they can beat out Memphis, San Antonio, Portland, Phoenix and the other contenders for the West’s last playoff berth. For two main reasons, so do I:
- If Williamson comes anywhere close to the form he displayed in the preseason, when he averaged 23.3 points and 6.5 rebounds in 27.2 minutes per game while shooting 71.4 percent from the field, New Orleans is getting more of an impact player than anyone you’ll see switch teams before the Feb. 6 trade deadline.
Williamson is rejoining a Pelicans team that, to Coach Alvin Gentry’s credit, has fixed many things during its recent 11-5 run. Brandon Ingram has emerged as an All-Star contender by establishing himself as a legitimate No. 1 option offensively. Derrick Favors, who scarcely had a chance to play alongside Williamson in the preseason because of injury, may rank as the Pelicans’ most important player given his impact defensively and the team’s 9-5 record when he plays at least 24 minutes. And the much-maligned Lonzo Ball is playing the best, freest ball of his young career, which enables Jrue Holiday — who came back on Monday from an elbow injury that cost him seven games — to operate from his more natural position alongside a true point guard.
Be advised that the Pelicans will also benefit from the most favorable schedule in the West the rest of the season. That includes a finishing kick of 15 games in which only one opponent (Philadelphia on April 11) currently has a winning record.
I also can’t ignore the scouting report that the New Orleans veteran J.J. Redick gave me hours before the Pelicans’ season opener in Toronto, when the news of Williamson’s meniscus injury was still fresh after his dominant exhibition play.
“He’s phenomenal,” Redick said. “It’s hard to really put him in a box and say he’s like this guy or that guy, and that’s sort of the definition to me of a unicorn. There’s really no one like him.
“The sheer force that he plays with, speed, power — it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen in person. On top of that, he’s just a fantastic kid.”
It has been a long wait for the Pelicans to get him back — twice as long, essentially, as the time Williamson was initially expected to miss. Yet for all the panic, dread and doomsday talk that Zion’s extended absence spawned, David Griffin, New Orleans’s executive vice president of basketball operations, said last week that he believed “very strongly” that Williamson was a “radically improved physical version of himself.”
“We feel like he will be a bigger, better version of himself,” Griffin said of the 6-foot-6, 284-pound forward. “A healthier version of himself going forward.”
Front office hyperbole? Perhaps. But what if it isn’t? What if it’s true?
Let’s be clear here about Morant: What the 20-year-old has achieved in a half-season in unfashionable Memphis has to be hugely celebrated, no matter what. The Grizzlies were widely billed as the one team in the West that had zero playoff hope coming into the season. Instead they’re still in the midst of a Cinderella surge: 14-7 since Morant’s return from a back injury on Dec. 9 to join the mix, without warning, for the West’s No. 8 seed.
Maybe the best way to describe it, assuming Williamson has indeed rebounded as well as Griffin maintains, is that 2019 may be remembered for a very rare N.B.A. draft in which two teams won the lottery.
On Wednesday night, at last, we can mercifully start making that evaluation with our eyes as opposed to our imaginations.
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You ask; I answer. Every week in this space, I’ll field three questions posed via email at [email protected]. (Please include your first and last name, as well as the city you’re writing in from, and make sure “Corner Three” is in the subject line.)
Q: Now that there’s a reasonable sample size, how would you assess the Markelle Fultz trade — particularly from the Orlando perspective? — Eric Snider (St. Petersburg, Fla.)
Stein: I always loved it from the Orlando perspective. Fultz is so skilled (and still so young) that someone was bound to gamble on him. The Magic are surely thrilled they won that race.
Fultz’s outside shot is a long way from being fixed, as we covered here in November, but all you had to do was watch the way he closed down the Lakers on Wednesday night to see that he has still has no shortage of gifts — speed, strength, agility, finishing ability at the rim — that are as tantalizing as they ever were.
If Fultz continues on this comeback track, of course, it won’t be long before the 76ers are hammered for giving up on him too soon. Yet it’s hardly a reach to suggest that this renaissance was unlikely to ever happen in Philadelphia.
The scrutiny and expectations were overwhelming in Philly after the brutal first season and a half of Fultz’s career. He badly needed a fresh start in a low-pressure environment.
The surprise is that he found one faster than most league insiders imagined.
Q: If the main barrier to a United States vs. Rest of the World format for the All-Star game is the fact that U.S.-born players outnumber international players by three to one, why not have four All-Star teams? They could have one team of foreign-born players competing against three teams of American players designated by geographic regions of their teams, their birthplace or some other benchmark. Maybe this format would help get the competitive juices flowing — something sadly missing from many All-Star games in recent years. — Stuart McKay (Vancouver, British Columbia)
Stein: Instinct tells me that a format which allowed 48 players to earn All-Star status every season, rather than 24, would be met with as much resistance as the United States/Rest of the World idea. Or maybe more.
All-Star berths, for prestige and legacy reasons, mean so much to the players that earn them. The United States/World format would make them too exclusive for 75 percent of the league, but your proposal is the opposite. It would dilute the value of them too much.
I don’t think we want to see more than 10 percent of a 450-player league wearing the label of All-Star. Even if the four teams included only 10 players rather than 12, that doesn’t sound sufficiently special for All-Star status.
Q: What is the state of Adam Silver’s in-season tournament and his other proposed changes to the schedule after the news last week that owners won’t be voting on these things in April? — Sam Chadwick
Stein: We will find out more when Silver holds his annual address at All-Star Weekend in Chicago next month, but based on everything I’ve heard he remains hopeful of implementing the bulk of the schedule changes in the 2021-22 season.
My sense is that the playoff play-in tournament right before the postseason begins, which would feature the four teams that place between No. 7 and No. 10 in each conference in the regular season, is the surest bet to be added. There is a good bit of momentum behind that idea.
But Silver has also made it clear that, for all the noise out there denigrating the soccer-style “cup” competition that the league is pushing, he believes that the N.B.A. can only truly know if the idea is feasible or not by trying it out.
The least likely of the three big changes on the table to win sufficient support is the proposal to reseed the four teams that reach the conference finals based on their regular-season records. The New York Times reported on Dec. 31 that the reseeding concept has been met with “strong concern” from a number of teams, stemming mostly from fears of significantly increased travel — but also the presumed reluctance of Eastern Conference teams to have to face a West power one round earlier than usual.
When teams were informed last Friday that the vote planned for April had been postponed, this was interpreted in some corners as a silent admission from Silver that he feared the proposals would be voted down at this time. Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, has been the most outspoken critic of the in-season, soccer-style tournament from the ownership ranks, slamming it as “so dumb” in December after I tweeted some details.
Yet it should be noted that the new labor agreement in the W.N.B.A. includes the introduction of an in-season “Commissioner’s Cup” that gives teams another trophy to play for. The N.B.A., in theory, will be able to glean pros and cons from the W.N.B.A. version to share (and potentially appease) N.B.A. team owners before they do vote.
Only five teams could claim winning records against teams from the .500-and-over set entering Tuesday’s play: Milwaukee (10-5) and Miami (11-6) from the East and the Los Angeles Lakers (12-8), Denver Nuggets (9-6) and Los Angeles Clippers (10-8) in the West.
Golden State’s Stephen Curry (four) and New Orleans’ Zion Williamson (zero) have combined to play in only four games this season, but they ranked No. 3 and No. 15 on the league’s list of top jersey sellers released last week.
The Pelicans have eight national television dates (on ESPN, ABC and TNT) through the end of the regular season. The first of those is Wednesday night’s home game against San Antonio, when ESPN broadcasts the expected return of Zion Williamson at 9:30 p.m. Eastern time.
We were fairly tough on Philadelphia in Monday’s power rankings, slotting the 76ers in at No. 12. Yet it is worth pointing out that the Sixers, for all of their flaws, are a notable 3-0 this season against Boston.
The Memphis Grizzlies have held the eighth spot in the Western Conference for 11 days in a row — 11 more than pretty much anyone would have believed coming into the season.
The New York Mets have changed quality control coach Carlos Beltran on Luis Rojas. Now they are working on a multiyear agreement with him.
Rojas, 38, will replace Beltran, who stepped down from the job in wake of the fallout from the Houston Astros sign-stealing discipline. Beltran was the only player, former or otherwise, named in the ruling handed down by Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred.
BREWERS HOME BALLPARK TO BE RENAMED AMERICAN FAMILY FIELD
“I think it’s the fit. It’s where the team is. I think it’s the culture we’re trying to create,” Van Wagenen said. “He has a good finger on the pulse of this team.”
Rojas is the brother of former major leaguer Moises Alou and the son of ex-manager Felipe Alou. He played minor league baseball in the Baltimore Orioles, Miami Marlins and Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos’ organizations but never made it above the rookie league.
SCHILLING THE ONE TO WATCH IN NEXT HALL OF FAME VOTE
He was the Mets’ coach in the Dominican Summer League in 2007 and was named to the Mets’ Gulf Coast League team in 2011. He also had roles in the organization’s Class-A and Double-A teams.
Pete Alonso and Marcus Stroman appeared to be ecstatic about the move.
“Loved having Luis in ‘17 and ’18 as my AA manager!” the National League Rookie of the Year tweeted. “It’s awesome playing under him and having him on staff last year as well!!! Super pumped to have him as the Jeffe. Also he throws some damn good bp.”
Stroman added: “LUIS ROJAS! Love love love it. Loved being around him on the bench last year. Always teaching and full of knowledge. Super laid back and brings nothing but great vibes each and every day. Beyond even keel. Excited even more for the year!”
New York finished third in the National League East last season with an 86-76 record.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Minnesota Lynx star Maya Moore will sit out a second straight WNBA season to continue her push for criminal justice reform.
Moore told The New York Times in a story published Wednesday of her choice to stay off the court for 2020. She said in her interview with the newspaper that she’s not ready to retire. Moore’s agent confirmed her decision to The Associated Press.
The 30-year-old, who won the WNBA Most Valuable Player award in 2014 and was a five-time first team All-WNBA selection, also cited fatigue when she first surprised the basketball world last winter by announcing she would step away.
Head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve said Wednesday in a statement issued by the club that the Lynx have “been in frequent contact” with Moore over the last year and praised her “fully engaged” effort in criminal justice reform and ministry. Reeve did not address Moore’s playing status.
“We are proud of the ways that Maya is advocating for justice and using her platform to impact social change,” Reeve said.
Moore has also helped the U.S. women’s team win two Olympic gold medals, but a USA Basketball spokesman confirmed to the AP that the star forward is out for the Tokyo Games this summer.
Moore has spent most of the last year trying to help a family friend overturn a conviction. Jonathan Irons has been incarcerated since 1997, convicted in the nonfatal shooting of a homeowner during a burglary. He is serving a 50-year sentence but has asked a judge to reopen his case.
Super Bowl LIV will be here before you know it, with the big game set for February 2, on FOX. And with less than a month to go, we’re also reminded of another exciting element: It’s almost time for USA Today’s Ad Meter competition!
Let’s bring on the Super Bowl commercials!
This year marks the 32nd Ad Meter competition, and it is starting to look like another good one. Complemented by the NFL’s centennial celebration, the possibilities for what types of Super Bowl commercials we’ll see are being unveiled almost daily.
Remember, if you’d like to have your opinion heard on this year’s commercials, you can register to be an Ad Meter panelist beginning Jan. 15.
Until then, here a few updates as we get ready to kick things off!
Gathering metrics has changed
Due to 2018 regulations established in the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), Ad Meter will no longer gather personal metrics information (salary, location, age range, gender). You can read more about the law here: CCPA Law.
Fewer commercial breaks
Back in May, FOX announced that it would be cutting the number of commercial breaks each quarter, going from the usual five down to four. Commercial lovers shouldn’t worry, though: The cut won’t restrain the total number of spots, because each break will be longer than in past years.
Prices have not changed — fewer breaks have only increased the demand
The cost for a spot in the Super Bowl ad lineup continues to rise. This year, purchasing two 30-second spots will run $5.5 million per, while one 30-second spot is $5.6 million. Because of the fewer breaks, advertisers are moving quickly to get into the mix, with only the 2014 Super Bowl (New York) selling as many spots at this current point of the process (as of 1/9/20). The demand, with a reported 25 advertisers positioning for the final 17 spots, might boost spends closer to $6 million!
Plenty to eat, plenty to drink
Anheuser-Busch is back, marking the 40th year as an official sponsor of the game. They told Ad Meter they’ll feature “Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob ULTRA and Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold in four, 60-second spots.” Coca-Cola will be there, too, along with Pop-Tarts, Avocados from Mexico, Pringles, Snickers, with certainly more to follow!
Of course, no Super Bowl is complete without a few great car commercials. Kia, which is celebrating 25 years, will be there on Super Bowl Sunday. Audi, Hyundai, Toyota, and Porsche have started their engines for a trip to the SB Commercial Garage, too.
New to the ‘game’
Facebook made the biggest inaugural splash, thanks in part to Sylvester Stallone’s social media post. Sabra will make its first appearance. Both, however, have been overshadowed by a particular campaign one-up: President Donald Trump and former NY mayor Michael Bloomberg, according to reports, will be fight-spending during Super Bowl LIV, with the two camps dumping millions for ad space.
And that’s just the beginning! Make sure to follow along all month as we get closer to Super Bowl Sunday!
Who: Shawn Morris
Does: Sweatbox studio manager and Vida U Street group program manager
Approach to fitness: “For folks to be successful, fitness has to be sustainable. I approach all fitness from a place of functionality disguised as fun. In any of my classes, you’ll find a fire playlist, energy through the roof, and maybe even a little twerking. I find it helps to motivate people and make them forget how hard they are working because they are also having fun.”
“My old faithful bag is my Timbuk2 backpack. I won it years ago—it’s been through hell and back with me and is still in amazing condition.” Parker Commuter Backpack; $219; Timbuk2
“Between teaching cycling and Sweatbox classes, I end up sweating many times a day. Back-up shorts and tanks are an absolute must. I’m a sucker for a short-short, and these four-inch shorts are pretty much my favorite. They allow me to move, squat, run, or jump.” Surge Short 4″ Liner; $68; Lululemon
“I need to be able to move freely without sweating to death. This tank allows me to do that.” Fast and Free Tank; $29; Lululemon
“Again, I sweat, so I need something to clean my skin and maintain its PH balance. This great product does it all at once.” Deep Cleansing Solution; $36; GM Collin
“Since Sweatbox is my main form of fitness, I don’t need to carry much, as Sweatbox provides the equipment, the music, and the experience,” says Morris. That means he usually just carries around a pair of cross-training shoes for full body workouts. “My go-to right now is the Reebok Nano 9. They are great for the squatting, lunging, jumping, and cycling (among many other things) that we do in Sweatbox.” Nano 9 Men’s Training Shoes; $130; Reebok
“When you’re burning well over 1,200 calories a day exercising, you must refuel throughout the day. My favorite go-to is a dark chocolate chip peanut butter Perfect Bar.” Dark Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Perfect Bar; $24 for a box of eight; Perfect Bar
This interview has been edited and condensed.