Jon Gruden tried retrofitting the Raiders into their renegade, rabble-rousing best for one final season in Oakland.
Harkening to the time when Jack “The Assassin” Tatum patrolled the defense with a menacing stare and a villainous vibe emanated from Oakland Alameda Coliseum, Gruden added mischief-makers Richie Incognito, Antonio Brown and Vontaze Burfict to the franchise’s farewell tour.
He reached October without two of the three.
A month ago, Gruden jettisoned Brown, who quickly flamed out in New England, following a simmering summer filled with helmet hell-raising, frozen feet and a sideline spat with the GM.
Burfict was suspended Monday for the rest of the season for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Colts tight end Jack Doyle in the most severe punishment the NFL has handed down for an on-field infraction.
Burfict will miss the final dozen games this year and lose more than $1 million in pay and bonuses.
“Your contact was unnecessary , flagrant and should have been avoided,” NFL Vice President of football operations Jon Runyan said in a letter to Burfict announcing the suspension, his third for violating the league’s player safety rules.
Overall, Burfict has been suspended for 22 games, including four for PEDs, costing him more than $5 million in lost salary and fines ($4,622,182 in salary, nine fines totaling $411,064).
Colts coach Frank Reich welcomed the league’s decision, saying, “I was just thankful the league took the action that it did.”
“Better late than never,” tweeted Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson.
Burfict’s ouster leaves Incognito, the 36-year-old left guard, as Gruden’s last rebel. He started the season serving a two-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
Upon his return he said he was eager to leave his long history of troubles on and off the field in the past
“The suspension’s behind me, all the negative stuff is behind me. Just eyes forward, staying positive,” Incognito said. “Relishing the opportunity, enjoying every day in here because you don’t know how many more you’re going to have. And wanting to play well. Just really want to charge forward and make it right.”
Burfict’s suspension capped a wild Week 4 in the NFL that included more head-scratching decisions that have turned the league’s one-year experiment with pass interference flags into an exercise in chance.
The latest eyebrow raiser came in the Eagles-Packers game Thursday night when Green Bay challenged a non-call, believing Marquez Valdes-Scantling was interfered with on a deep pass.
Eagles DB Avante Maddox had his left hand jammed into the receiver’s facemask as the ball was arriving, but the league ruled “there was no clear and obvious evidence ” that Maddox “significantly hindered” Valdes-Scantling.
“It looks clear and obvious to me,” suggested Packers coach Matt LaFleur. “But I’m not the one making the decision.”
And there’s no consensus on what constitutes a pass interference call.
“I really don’t know what pass interference is anymore,” LaFleur said.
Nobody does, apparently.
After seeing that non-call stand, Broncos coach Vic Fangio told reporters: “You guys will be extra light on me if you thought I should or shouldn’t challenge something. You guys have seen it. What would you do? Yeah, there’s obviously some disconnection there.”
On Monday night, the announcers spoke about how Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was just as confused about when to challenge or not challenge a call or a non-call for pass interference because it’s a crapshoot.
Fangio said he saw this confusion coming when Saints coach Sean Payton pushed for the rule change after New Orleans was victimized by a non-call on a blatant inference, helping the Rams win the NFC championship and advance to the Super Bowl.
“The whole meeting (about the new rule) at the league meetings when all this was started was dysfunctional, so it doesn’t surprise me,” Fangio said. “It just wasn’t in my opinion well thought-out, well-prepared and a little haphazard.”
Fangio’s boss, John Elway, sits on the NFL’s competition committee, and Fangio said, “John’s as frustrated with it as anybody else.'”
WHISTLE WHILE YOU WORK
And the biggest play of the weekend was Chiefs cornerback Bashaud Breeland’s 100-yard fumble return for a touchdown after Detroit’s Kerryon Johnson lost the ball at the opposite goal line. Most of the Lions milled around instead of chasing Breeland, certain it wasn’t worth the effort because the ball was down.
Only, it was a live ball and the Chiefs had the longest of turnaround touchdowns.
Fittingly, Walt Anderson’s crew didn’t blow the play dead like it erroneously had two weeks earlier in the Saints-Rams rematch that wiped off Cameron Jordan’s legitimate 87-yard fumble return for a touchdown.
Officials were admonished to let such takeaways play out, leaving the league’s headquarters to sort things out on replay reviews.
So, while the Lions violated the time-honored tradition of playing to the whistle, the officials succeeded in keeping their whistles quiet.
Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Justin Verlander didn’t intend to alter his pitching strategy, not after 14 seasons as a major league ace. But then the home runs stopped making sense.
A long drive by Yankees slugger Aaron Judge? The Houston Astros ace can live with that. This season, though, was full of surprises. Like when spindly utility man Ehire Adrianza drove a fastball into the right field party deck in Minnesota. Or the time light-hitting Angels infielder David Fletcher nearly put one into a parking lot beyond left field during a series in Monterrey, Mexico. Routine fly balls had become wall-scraping homers, and every hitter was suddenly strong enough to reach the second deck.
“The game has changed completely,” Verlander said.
Expect more of the same this October.
Hitters smashed a record 6,776 home runs in 2019, soaring past the previous high of 6,105 from two years earlier. It’s a rise of over 60% from 2014, a year before a seismic home run spike attributed to tweaks in the baseballs. Major League Baseball commissioned a study in 2018 that concluded there was less drag on the ball causing all those extra homers, but Commissioner Rob Manfred has insisted MLB doesn’t know why. He has also denied accusations from Verlander and other pitchers that the balls have been deliberately altered.
Manfred told Forbes last week he has reconvened the scientists from the 2018 study and expects to issue another report after the World Series. His goal: “predictable, consistent performance from the baseball.”
First, though, may come the juiciest postseason yet.
Across the 10 playoff rosters, only three qualified hitters connected for fewer than 15 home runs this season — St. Louis’ Kolten Wong (11), Milwaukee’s Lorenzo Cain (11) and Houston’s Josh Reddick (14). There were 21 such hitters on postseason teams in 2014.
Verlander has been critical of structural changes to the baseball since 2017, when pitchers and coaches from the Astros and Dodgers complained that World Series balls were slicker than ones used in the regular season. They moaned and groaned while the clubs combined for a Series-record 25 homers, but fans largely oohed and awed — especially during Game 5, a topsy-turvy classic featuring seven home runs.
Verlander has called this year’s balls a “joke.” He’s given up a career-most 36 homers, yet he’s neck-and-neck with teammate Gerrit Cole for the AL Cy Young Award. How’d he do that?
“I used to pitch to weak contact,” he said. “I no longer try to miss barrels. I try to miss bats.”
After years of seeking quick outs to keep his pitch count low, Verlander has gone whole hog on punchouts. The 36-year-old totaled 300 of them in a season for the first time and surpassed 3,000 for his career in his final start. He avoided the middle of the plate at all costs, especially with runners on base — 28 of his homers were solo shots.
Of course, strikeouts have surged everywhere — the majors set a record for the 12th consecutive season with 42,823 of them in 2019. There are varied reasons for that, including stronger arms and aggressive bullpen management, but pitchers say distrust in the baseball is a factor.
“There’s been an adaptation in the way I pitch that correlates with the ball, I just didn’t necessarily realize I was doing it because of the ball,” Verlander said. “You can no longer give in to a fastball away because 99% of players in Major League Baseball now can take an away fastball and hit a homer opposite field.
“So what’s my defense to that? My defense is I have to have you swing and miss.”
In the clubhouse of the NL East-champion Braves, every pitcher seems to remember at least one home run this year that looked like a pop fly off the bat.
“(Christian) Yelich, he went straight-center off me,” starter Mike Foltynewicz said.
“(Pete) Alonso, on a changeup,” added rotation-mate Mike Soroka.
“You just know sometimes you might make your pitch and it’s not going to matter,” All-Star reliever Shane Greene said.
Those pitchers aren’t as concerned about strategizing around the homers as they are with steeling themselves against the frustration of it all. Soroka had the lowest home run rate of any qualified NL starter, and he credits that to an effective sinker and a willingness to be “stubborn.”
“The way guys are hitting them out now, every time the ball goes in the air you think it has a chance,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “They experience all that on a daily basis over the course of the season. The ones that are successful are the ones who can handle that adversity.”
The postseason is a different game though, and not just because of the extra scrutiny and pressure. There are 26 hitters on postseason rosters who hit at least 30 home runs this season — not including Yelich, the Brewers’ NL MVP contender who will miss the postseason with a broken kneecap. Four teams bypassed the previous season record for homers, with the Twins (307) and Yankees (306) becoming the first clubs to reach 300.
“There’s certain ballparks and certain times that you have to be patient,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “Because you know there are going to be a few more runs scored and balls are going to leave the ballpark.”
Stressful stuff for pitchers and managers, no doubt, but if the 2017 World Series is an indication, it could be wild fun for fans, too. This year’s postseason participants combined to win 73 times in the regular season when trailing after seven innings. When no lead is safe, no game can be boring, right?
Maybe. Some are concerned that this year’s big fly bonanza might have been too much even for the thrill-seekers in the seats.
“Before, it was like the big wreck at a NASCAR race,” Greene said. “You might see one, and everybody showed up to see that one homer. Now, you’re going to see six.”
Managers have learned to live with all that carnage. Snitker maintained the baseball won’t affect his decision-making, a sentiment echoed by Astros manager AJ Hinch. Yankees skipper Aaron Boone isn’t sure what to anticipate, except he’s pretty sure hitters will keep finding ways to connect.
“The team that ends up winning the World Series,” Boone said, “will do a good job of holding offenses down and will probably hit a lot of balls in the seats when they have traffic to create some big innings off of elite pitchers.
“What it ends up looking like, I don’t know how to predict that.”
AP freelancer Chris Talbott contributed from Seattle.
Follow Jake Seiner: https://twitter.com/Jake_Seiner
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
The 2019 Major League Baseball playoffs get underway Tuesday night with the Washington Nationals and Milwaukee Brewers squaring off in the National League wild-card game.
The winner of the game moves on to the National League Division Series, where they’ll meet the Los Angeles Dodgers in a best-of-five series.
Washington (93-69) hosts the game by virtue of finishing four games ahead of Milwaukee (89-73) for the league’s top wild-card spot, but these are two of the league’s hottest teams. The Nationals ended the regular season on an eight-game winning streak, while the Brewers went 20-7 in September to reach the postseason.
Here’s everything you need to know for Tuesday night’s game in Washington:
Time: 8:08 p.m. ET
Streaming: TBS online or TBS app
Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (11-7, 2.92 ERA in 2019)
Brewers: RHP Brandon Woodruff (11-3, 3.62 ERA)
Head-to-head: Milwaukee won season series 4-2
Trea Turner, SS
Adam Eaton, RF
Anthony Rendon, 3B
Juan Soto, LF
Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B
Ryan Zimmerman, 1B
Victor Robles, CF
Yan Gomes, C
Max Scherzer, P
Trent Grisham, RF
Yasmani Grandal, C
Mike Moustakas, 3B
Ryan Braun, LF (day-to-day)
Keston Hiura, 2B
Eric Thames, 1B
Lorenzo Cain, CF (day-to-day)
Orlando Arcia, SS
Brandon Woodruff, P
Stories to read
The Nationals could deploy Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin as relievers.
Houston tops our power rankings heading into the postseason, finishing with the league’s best record.
Joe Maddon is out in Chicago, but it’s the best move for all parties
The Angels will go after Maddon, but there’s no guarantees.
METAIRIE, Louisiana – Zion Williamson smiled and then smiled some more. He laughed and then laughed some more.
And when he wasn’t smiling and laughing, it was because he was delivering a thoughtful answer to a question at the New Orleans Pelicans’ media day Monday.
If there’s any weight on Williamson because he’s the No. 1 overall pick entering the league with as much hype as any rookie since LeBron James in 2003, he’s carrying it with charm and poise.
Not bad for a man who just turned 19 on July 6.
“This is what the dream was all about – making it to the league and having impact and the impact starts (Tuesday),” Williamson said. “It’s been crazy and fun – always on the move. … I think people will look at what I’m doing and say it’s very stressful, but I’m having fun with it. All these meetings, meeting my new teammates and trying to jell with them, that’s a fun process. I’m 19. Two years ago, I was just a senior in high school and now I’m sitting here so I think about that.”
Williamson has had a busy summer – the draft, summer league, partnering with Jordan Brand, Gatorade, NBA2K and Panini.
New Orleans Pelicans first round draft pick Zion Williamson, shown during a media day photo shoot, says his NBA2K player is too slow. (Photo: Gerald Herbert, AP)
Here are three takeaways from Williamson’s media day:
Taking pressure off Zion
From the start, executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin and his coaching staff led by Alvin Gentry have made it clear they don’t need Williamson to be the franchise savior.
“We’re not going to ask him to put on a cape and fly in and save our franchise,” Gentry said. “He’s going to be a really good player, and every single day he’s going to work at getting better, and to me that’s the most important thing right there.”
This is by design. It will take Williamson time to develop into a great NBA player.
“We don’t have expectations that we are hoisting on him with the players,” Griffin said. “It’s really about finding himself, finding comfort with his teammates, finding his role and we’re blessed. All Zion wants to do is win. He doesn’t have a vision of himself that corresponds with what people talk about, relative to him.
“So, whatever it is that’s necessary for our coaching staff and for him to do to win, that’s what he wants to do. So what we’ve got to see over the last six months or so is just his commitment. He’s not at all me oriented. He’s entirely we oriented.”
Griffin has surrounded Williamson with veterans such as Jrue Holiday, Derrick Favors, E’Twaun Moore and J.J. Redick.
“It’s great. I know I’m in the right place with Jrue and J.J. and E’Twaun Moore,” Williamson said. “Since I’ve been here, they’ve been giving great advice. Whenever they think I’m overthinking things or seem stressed, they’ll be the first ones to come to me and just say ‘Relax, be you and just play the game you love.’ It’s the small things like that that help a lot and I just get going.”
Ingratiating himself with the city, state
Williamson is making sure Louisiana sports fan accept him by accepting them. He has been to football games at LSU and Tulane and also caught the New Orleans Saints.
“The people are very welcoming,” Williamson said. “Drew Brees said it best, if you love the city, it will love you right back.”
The city bucket drummers have impressed him.
“When I’m walking up and down the streets, I see these kids with a bucket making some of the best beats I’ve ever heard like 12, 13 (years old),” Williamson said. “Nobody don’t even know about this – a bucket they probably found. Stuff like that gives the city a lot of spirit. The people are very welcoming.”
He also appreciated that LSU fans welcomed him.
“Even when I went to LSU – I didn’t go there (for college) – they could have easily booed me or not accepted me,” Williamson said. “When I got there, they showed a lot of love. They’re like, ‘Welcome to Louisiana. We hope you do very well at the Pelicans.’ Stuff like that, it’s like, ‘Man, this state really is love. They show love everywhere.’ ”
With his electric personality, those words will go a long way in how Williamson is treated and perceived with New Orleans.
He’s not thrilled with his NBA2K player
For the first time in his life, Williamson can play NBA2K and not have to create himself on the video game. He is rated No. 81, with Hassan Whiteside, Serge Ibaka, Rudy Gay, Domantas Sabonis and Jonas Valanciunas. He is also the top rookie. However …
“My guy is not that good in 2K. That’s OK. He’s slower than I’d like but it’s fine,” Williamson said. “It’s weird though. At the AAU trips when you’re younger, you’re playing 2K with your friends and teammates and you’re having fun. You slide over to the right or to the left and you start pushing the button to switch teams, ‘Boom, you’re right there.’ You don’t have to create your player. Your player is already there. It’s just like, ‘Man, I’m here. But I want to stay here for a long time.’ All this stuff just adds motivation to my fire.”
Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt
INDIANAPOLIS — There might be some around the NFL who will wonder if Vontaze Burfict’s season-long suspension without pay was too harsh a penalty following Sunday’s helmet-to-helmet hit on Jack Doyle.
Frank Reich will not be among them.
The Indianapolis Colts coach told members of the media Monday that he was “glad” the league took the action it did against the Oakland Raiders middle linebacker and fully supports Burfict’s ban — just as he supported Burfict’s ejection on Sunday afternoon.
“That was a pretty vicious hit,” Reich said of the helmet-to-helmet shot Burfict gave Doyle in the second quarter of Sunday’s game. “Thankfully (Doyle) came out of that one clean with no (concussion) symptoms.
“When someone does something like that, attacks one of your players, that’s just not supposed to be in the game. And when it’s against one of your players, you naturally have a reaction. I’m just glad they did what they did at the game and the follow-up action seems very appropriate.”
KICK VONTAZE BURFICT OUT FOREVER!!! pic.twitter.com/91IQghasuf
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) September 29, 2019
Burfict is far from a first-time offender when it comes to hits similar to the headshot he delivered to Doyle. He’s sat out six games due to suspensions for illegal hits and altogether has either been fined or suspended 13 times during the first seven years of his NFL career — all with the Cincinnati Bengals. His status as a repeat offender is what led to his full-season suspension.
In a letter to Burfict informing him of the suspension, Jon Runyan, NFL vice president of football operations, said, “There were no mitigating circumstances on this play. Your contact was unnecessary, flagrant and should have been avoided. For your actions, you were penalized and disqualified from the game.
“Following each of your previous rule violations, you were warned by me and each of the jointly-appointed appeal officers that further violations would result in escalated accountability measures. However, you have continued to flagrantly abuse rules designated to protect yourself and your opponents from unnecessary risk.”
Burfict will appeal the suspension, according to multiple reports.
OPINION: Suspending Raiders’ Vontaze Burfict for rest of NFL season doesn’t go far enough
MORE: 32 things we learned from Week 4 of the 2019 NFL season
Following Sunday’s hit, it looked for a moment like Colts center Ryan Kelly was going to at least have some words with Burfict. However, after he saw the official throw a penalty flag onto the turf, he simply pointed at Burfict, then to the locker room.
A few minutes later, Burfict ran off the field, blowing kisses at Colts fans.
Doyle didn’t have much to say when asked about the hit on Sunday.
“I just got tackled,” the tight end said. “I’m sure it looked worse than it was. I didn’t really feel anything from it. My helmet protected me.”
According to long-time NFL executive Gil Brandt, Burfict has forfeited more than $4 million over his career. Monday’s suspension will potentially cost him another $4 million in lost salary.
Per Brandt, here is the chronology of Burfict’s fines:
2013: $31,000 for hitting Packers tight end Ryan Taylor in the groin and a hit on James Jones as a defenseless receiver.
2013: $7,875 for facemask on Bills running back Fred Jackson.
2013: $21,000 for spearing Jets receiver Stephen Hill.
2014: $25,000 for twisting the ankles of Carolina quarterback Cam Newton and tight end Greg Olsen.
2015: $69,450 for three unsportsmanlike penalties against Pittsburgh.
2016: $12,154 for an unsportsmanlike penalty on Bills receiver Robert Woods.
2016: $75,000 for stomping on LeGarrette Blount’s leg.
2016: Suspended three games for hitting Pittsburgh receiver Antonio Brown in the head.
2017: Suspended three games for a hit on Kansas City fullback Anthony Sherman.
2017: $12,154 for kicking Pittsburgh fullback Roosevelt Nix.
2018: $112,000 for hitting Pittsburgh running back James Conner and Brown in their heads.
2018: $53,482 for lowering his helmet against Broncos fullback Andy Janovich.
2019: Suspended for 12 games for repeated safety violations after a helmet to helmet hit on Doyle.
Follow IndyStar Colts Insider Jim Ayello on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram: @jimayello.
If you love talking football, we have the perfect spot for you. Join our Facebook Group, The Ruling Off the Field, to engage in friendly debate and conversation with fellow football fans and our NFL insiders.
The St. Louis Blues won their first Stanley Cup in franchise history in June, and their championship rings serve as a reminder of the inspirations that helped them end that drought.
As with most championship rings, there are a lot of jewels — 282 diamonds, 20 princess-cut sapphires, 16 custom-cut blue sapphires, and 15 round sapphires for a total weight of 10.6 carats, ring maker Josten Inc. says.
But the intricate rings also feature plenty of references to the Blues’ Stanley Cup journey.
The words “Play Gloria” reference the song that the Blues adopted after some players went to a Philadelphia bar in January, heard the 1982 Laura Branigan hit “Gloria” played repeatedly and began a rise from last in the NHL to champions.
The Blues championship rings. (Photo: Jostens Inc.)
NHL POINT PROJECTIONS: How we see the 2019-20 season unfolding
ROOKIES: Calder Trophy favorite is someone besides the top two draft picks
OPINION: NHL’s tweak on icing faceoffs could be season’s most significant change
On the interior of the ring are the four teams they beat in the playoffs with the series results. The 16 sapphires in the Blues logo represent their 16 postseason wins and the 75 diamonds in and around the Stanley Cup represent their number of playoff goals.
The Blues’ connection to their fans is shown with a depiction of their championship rally at the Gateway Arch.
The Blues’ championship rings (Photo: Jostens Inc.)
And in the nicest touch, Laila is inscribed on the ring. Superfan Laila Anderson, 11, who has a rare auto-immune disease, inspired the team and lifted the Stanley Cup on the ice after the Game 7 win in Boston and at the rally.
The Blues, entered the league in 1967, will raise their Stanley Cup banner Wednesday night before their home opener against the Washington Capitals.
This was the moment… https://t.co/ykYmAtOog0#stlbluespic.twitter.com/NryPuGxelV
— St. Louis Blues 🏆 (@StLouisBlues) October 1, 2019
After a grueling 162 games and six months, Major League Baseball’s postseason finally gets underway.
The reigning champion Boston Red Sox will miss out on the playoffs this year, meaning we’ll have a new World Series winner in 2019.
Things kick off on Tuesday, Oct. 1 with the National League wild-card game, and if the World Series goes to seven games, the playoffs can run all the way to Oct. 30.
The best-of-five Division Series pits the top team in each league against the wild-card winner, while the other two division winners face off. The winners of each division series then meet in the best-of-seven League Championship Series.
After that, it’s the Fall Classic.
Who’s going to become a hero this October?
Here’s everything you need to know to plan your month:
Tuesday, Oct. 1: National League – Brewers at Nationals, 8:08 p.m. ET (TBS)
Wednesday, Oct. 2: American League – Rays at Athletics, 8:09 p.m. (ESPN)
Division Series (best-of-five)
**: if necessary
Thursday, Oct. 3
NLDS A Game 1 (TBS) – Nationals/Brewers at Dodgers
NLDS B Game 1 (TBS) – Cardinals at Braves
Friday, Oct. 4
ALDS Game 1 – A’s/Rays at Astros, 2:05 p.m. (FS1)
NLDS Game 2 – Cardinals at Braves, 4:37 p.m. ET (TBS)
ALDS Game 1 – Twins at Yankees, 7:07 p.m. (MLB)
NLDS Game 2 – Nationals/Brewers at Dodgers, 9:37 or 9:47 p.m (TBS)
Saturday, Oct. 5
ALDS Game 2 – Twins at Yankees, 5:07 p.m. (FS1)
ALDS B Game 2 – A’s/Rays at Astros, 9:07 p.m. (FS1)
Sunday, Oct. 6
NLDS Game 3 – Braves at Cardinals (TBS)
NLDS Game 3 – Dodgers at Nationals/Brewers (TBS)
Monday, Oct. 7
ALDS Game 3 – Astros at A’s/Rays (FS1 or MLBN)
ALDS Game 3 – Yankees at Twins (FS1 or MLBN)
NLDS Game 4** – Dodgers at Nationals/Brewers(TBS)
NLDS Game 4** – Braves at Cardinals (TBS)
Tuesday, Oct. 8
ALDS Game 4 ** – Astros at A’s/Rays (FS1)
ALDS Game 4 ** – Yankees at Twins (FS1)
Wednesday, Oct. 9
NLDS Game 5 ** – Nationals/Brewers at Dodgers(TBS)
NLDS Game 5 ** – Cardinals at Braves (TBS)
Thursday, Oct. 10
ALDS Game 5 ** – A’s/Rays at Astros(FS1)
ALDS Game 5 ** – Twins at Yankees (FS1)
League Championship Series (best-of-seven)
Friday, Oct. 11
NLCS Game 1 (TBS)
Saturday, Oct. 12
ALCS Game 1 (FOX or FS1)
NLCS Game 2 (TBS)
Sunday, Oct. 13
ALCS Game 2 (FOX or FS1)
Monday, Oct. 14
NLCS Game 3 (TBS)
Tuesday, Oct. 15
ALCS Game 3 (FOX or FS1)
NLCS Game 4 (TBS)
Wednesday, Oct. 16
ALCS Game 4 (FOX or FS1)
NLCS Game 5 ** (TBS)
Thursday, Oct. 17
ALCS Game 5 ** (FOX or FS1)
Friday, Oct. 18
NLCS Game 6 ** (TBS)
Saturday, Oct. 19
ALCS Game 6 ** (FOX or FS1)
NLCS Game 7 ** (TBS)
Sunday, Oct. 20
ALCS Game 7 ** (FOX or FS1)
World Series (best-of-seven)
(Team with better record has home-field advantage)
Tuesday, Oct. 22 – Game 1 (FOX)
Wednesday, Oct. 23 – Game 2 (FOX)
Friday, Oct. 25 – Game 3 (FOX)
Saturday, Oct. 26 – Game 4 (FOX)
Sunday, Oct. 27 – Game 5 ** (FOX)
Tuesday, Oct. 29 – Game 6 ** (FOX)
Wednesday, Oct. 30 – Game 7 ** (FOX)
DOHA (Reuters) – Maria Lasitskene became the first woman to win a third world high jump title, gracefully clearing 2.04 meters on Monday to bring Russia’s neutral athletes a second gold in two days.
FILE PHOTO: Athletics – World Athletics Championships Ð womenÕs high jump victory ceremony Ð London Stadium, London, Britain Ð August 12, 2017 Ð Neutral athlete Maria Lasitskene (Gold) poses with the medal. REUTERS/Matthew Childs
Dominating the competition from the start, the 26-year-old continued to raise the bar after having secured gold in an attempt to achieve a personal best of 2.08m.
Although Lasitskene missed out on that mark with three failed attempts, she again demonstrated her absolute dominance of her discipline by clearing 2.04m at her first attempt.
Like the other Russians competing in Doha, Lasitskene was barred from celebrating her victory with a Russian flag and will not hear her country’s anthem when she steps onto the podium.
Without her flag, Lasitskene ran down the track, waving and blowing kisses to the crowd, while Ukrainian silver medalist Yaroslava Mahuchikh and American bronze winner Vashti Cunningham brandished their countries’ flags.
“It’s a shame,” said Lasitskene, who has openly criticized Russia’s suspended athletics federation.
“It’s unpleasant. You want to run with your flag.”
After failing on her first two attempts at 2.04, Mahuchikh, 18, responded to the occasion and successfully executed her third and final attempt, assuring herself of a silver medal.
Cunningham took the bronze with 2.00m.
Russia’s athletics federation has been suspended since a 2015 report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) found evidence of mass doping in the sport.
Despite the ban, some Russian athletes including Lasitskene have been cleared to compete internationally by the IAAF, athletics’ global governing body, after having demonstrated that they are training in a doping-free environment.
Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Ken Ferris
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Auburn Tigers running back Boobee Whitlow created some controversy when he scored a touchdown during a game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
The redshirt-sophomore running back was on his way into the end zone and was tackled from behind upon crossing the goal line. Whitlow’s momentum carried him further and he slid down headfirst into the Bulldogs’ live mascot – Bully XXI.
CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR SIGNS BILL ALLOWING COLLEGE ATHLETES TO CAPITALIZE ON IMAGE, NAME AND LIKENESS
“I thought the dog was about to bite him,” Auburn wide receiver Seth Williams told AL.com. “I saw him hit the dog and was like, ‘Oh, snap.’ I ran over there. I was fixing to square up with the dog. But it was all good…. I don’t think he knew. I saw the dog, though. He hit the dog, and I saw the dog look back at him. I was like, ‘Oh, snap.’”
Mississippi State fans were not happy that Whitlow ran into the dog, though a video clip appeared to show the incident was just an accident.
WASHINGTON STATE’S MIKE LEACH RIPS TEAM FOLLOWING HUGE LOSS: ‘WE’RE A VERY SOFT TEAM’
The dog’s official Twitter account made his fans know that he was fine after the play.
Whitlow finished with three rushing touchdowns on 10 carries and 55 rushing yards.
Auburn picked up the win, 56-23.
Severe as Vontaze Burfict’s suspension is, it’s not nearly long enough.
The Oakland Raiders linebacker was suspended for the rest of the season Monday following his helmet-to-helmet hit on Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle. Really, though, this was a career achievement award, reflecting the more than dozen times he’s been fined or suspended for dirty play.
Which is why Burfict no longer belongs in the NFL.
In his letter to Burfict informing him of the suspension, Jon Runyan, NFL vice president of football operations, said, “Following each of your previous rule violations, you were warned by me and each of the jointly-appointed appeal officers that further violations would result in escalated accountability measures.”
Oakland LB Vontaze Burfict reacts to being ejected from Sunday’s game against Indianapolis. He was suspended for the season on Monday. (Photo: Justin Casterline, Getty Images)
And how’s that worked out so far?
“However, you have continued to flagrantly abuse rules designated to protect yourself and your opponents from unnecessary risk,” Runyan went on to say.
So why is he still in the league?
Football is an inherently violent game, and there is no way to completely eliminate the hits that will leave some players with lifelong – and life-altering – damage. We’ve seen too many players in their 50s and 60s who look decades older as they shuffle and hobble along on their bad knees and ankles, to say nothing of those who have been robbed of their memories and personalities because of repetitive head trauma.
The NFL is doing what it can to minimize the damage, making changes in recent years to alleviate the worst of those hits. Allowing someone like Burfict to continue playing makes a mockery of those efforts.
Burfict has shown, time and again, that he’s a menace to the health and safety of his opponents. Take this latest hit. Doyle was already on his knees, momentum dragging him toward the turf, when Burfict launched himself at the tight end, lowering his head and hitting Doyle squarely on the crown of his helmet.
Burfict has shown no interest or ability in altering his style of play, either, and it’s doubtful this latest punishment will change that. He sure didn’t show any signs of remorse after Sunday’s ejection, blowing kisses at the Indianapolis crowd as he left the field.
When he signed with the Raiders in March, Burfict defended himself by saying it was the position, not the player, that led to the repeated misconduct.
“I’m not a dirty player,” Burfict said then. “I play a physical position, which is middle linebacker, outside linebacker. That’s physical. I can’t go in there playing patty-cake.”
Uh-huh. No linebacker — no defensive player, really — is more disruptive than Khalil Mack, yet he’s never drawn so much as a fine for an illegal hit. Countless other linebackers have managed to go years without missing a single game for dirty play, let alone significant portions of the season.
Burfict is simply out of control. When he was at Arizona State, he racked up 22 personal fouls in 37 games, and saw his draft stock slide in part because of his volatility. He’s already missed six NFL games, when he was with the Cincinnati Bengals, because of egregious hits. Now he’ll miss the last 12 games of the season, provided his suspension isn’t shortened upon appeal.
What more evidence does the NFL need to finally say a player who repeatedly goes after the heads of his opponents, who shows no regret for his play, is not fit for the league? A body bag?
Don’t expect the Raiders to do anything to rein him in, either. Coach Jon Gruden is so taken with Burfict he made him one of the team’s captains, and was among his most vigorous defenders Sunday.
But there is no defending Burfict — not now or any of the many other times he’s put players in danger.
The NFL is lucky that Burfict hasn’t done any lasting damage yet — at least, not that we know of now. Banking on that to continue is both foolish and irresponsible.
Burfict’s punishment is the longest the NFL has handed out for on-field conduct, and yet, it’s still not long enough.
If he’s allowed to return, whether it’s later this season or next, someone else will get hurt. When it happens, Burfict won’t be the only one to blame.
Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.