Monthly Archives: September 2017

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President Donald Trump criticized NFL players who lodge protests during the pregame national anthem, saying Friday night that he wished those players would be released and encouraging fans who are offended to walk out of stadiums.

Speaking at a political rally in Huntsville, Alabama, Trump said: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b—- off the field right now. Out. He’s fired! He’s fired!”

Trump said the protests are “hurting the game.”

Then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began the wave of protests when he sat during the national anthem before a preseason game in August 2016. During the regular season, Kaepernick modified his protest and knelt during the anthem.

Trump didn’t mention Kaepernick or any other NFL player specifically during the speech.

Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers during the offseason. He has not been signed by a new team since then. Several players have continued to protest during the anthem this season.

“The only thing you could do better,” Trump said, “is if you see it, even if it’s just one player, leave the stadium. I guarantee things will stop. Things will stop. Just pick up and leave. Pick up and leave. Not the same game anymore, anyway.”

Trump went on to say referees are “ruining the game” by calling 15-yard penalties for “beautiful” tackles. He also said that NFL ratings are down “massively, massively,” because people prefer watching him. NFL ratings dropped 8 percent in 2016 compared with 2015.

An NFL spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on what Trump said.

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OAKLAND, Calif. — With less than 13 minutes remaining in a blowout win over the New York Jets, Beast Mode switched to dance mode.

The home crowd loved it. The Jets didn’t.

Several Jets players admitted they were embarrassed and angered by Marshawn Lynch’s sideline dance, which was caught on the JumboTron. He grooved to “I’m really from Oakland,” featuring Vell and DJ Mustard — one of the highlight moments in the Oakland Raiders’ 45-20 win Sunday at Oakland Alameda-Coliseum.

“It irks my ever-living nerves,” linebacker Jordan Jenkins said. “When I saw it happening, it was infuriating. … That pissed me off. I’m an old-school guy. I don’t like when things like that happen. That was embarrassing, losing like that and having Marshawn dance like that.

“Great player, but seeing that happen, that should infuriate the whole team. It should infuriate everybody and we should have a good response coming into next Sunday.”

The Jets were down 35-13 at the time of Lynch’s sideline show. They were in a sour mood because their defense wound up allowing 400 total yards for the second straight week and the most points in 34 games under coach Todd Bowles.

“We’re upset because it seems like he was rubbing it in our face,” nose tackle Steve McLendon said. “But he’s winning, man. He can do whatever he wants to do.”

Linebacker Darron Lee added, “It’s their house — they can do whatever they wants — but as a competitor, as a defender, you don’t like to see that type of stuff. It’s demoralizing, but we have to bow up and keep fighting.”

Lynch grew up in Oakland and this was his first home game after coming out of retirement and signing with the Raiders. He rushed for 45 yards on 12 carries, including a 2-yard touchdown run that made it 21-10.

As usual, Lynch didn’t have much to say afterward. Asked how it felt to electrify the crowd with his dance, he said, “It felt good.”

Jenkins said he wasn’t mad at Lynch, per se, just the situation.

“When you perform like that, when you beat a team like they did to us, you have to celebrate,” he said. “It sucks being on the losing end of it, but that’s football. That comes with it.

“You have to take losses like a man. Guys dancing around, you can get mad at them — you’re supposed to. That’s football. You don’t blame it on unsportsmanlike.

“He fights. He earned every bit of what he did today. I’m not going to take that away from him. Of course, I’m going to be pissed off at him for dancing like that, but that’s sports. That’s not unsportsmanlike at all.”

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 Cardinals

Cardinals

TEMPE, Ariz. — The two-to-three month projections for Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson to return from surgery to repair his dislocated wrist may have been a bit premature.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is hoping the All-Pro is “possibly” back between Thanksgiving and Christmas — 11 to 15 weeks from now — he said Tuesday night on SiriusXM NFL Radio.

Arians’ initial prognosis was that Johnson would be out 8 to 12 weeks. He said Tuesday night that Johnson is scheduled to have surgery this week to repair his wrist, which was injured during Sunday’s loss to the Detroit Lions. The Cardinals placed Johnson on injured reserve Tuesday, which means he would be out for a minimum of eight weeks and is eligible to return any time after that.

The Cardinals have been in a situation like this before, Arians said.

He said the Cardinals drafted Johnson in 2015 to play behind Andre Ellington that season. Then Ellington got hurt early in the year, and then Chris Johnson got hurt in Week 12, paving the way for David Johnson.

“It’s a great opportunity for Kerwynn Williams and Andre,” Arians said. “We’ll get Chris Johnson back up to speed.”

The Cardinals re-signed Chris Johnson on Tuesday. Arians said Johnson was the final cut he made to reduce the roster to 53 players.

“It was a really hard one,” Arians said. “He was just getting back into good shape, and I look forward to having him back.”

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LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers insist they’re in this season for the long haul, unwilling to change what got them to 92 victories.

At the same time, manager Dave Roberts is searching for something, anything, to get his team out of its funk.

“I’m open for suggestions,” he said after the NL West leaders lost their 10th straight game for their worst skid in 25 years, routed by Mark Reynolds and the Colorado Rockies 8-1 Sunday. “We have a very frustrated and upset clubhouse.”

Reynolds hit a grand slam, Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story homered, and Tyler Chatwood pitched five scoreless innings. The Rockies remained three games ahead of St. Louis and Milwaukee for the second NL wild-card spot.

Los Angeles still owns the best record in the majors at 92-51, but even that’s becoming tenuous. Washington beat the Phillies on Sunday to cut L.A.’s lead to four games.

“We just got to keep grinding,” said center fielder Chris Taylor, who went 0-for-5. “The depth is still there. It just seems a lot of guys have slumped at the same time.”

Corey Seager and Justin Turner — two of the team’s best hitters — combined for two hits and three strikeouts in eight at-bats. NL Rookie of the Year candidate Cody Bellinger went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.

The Dodgers have dropped nine in a row at Chavez Ravine for the first time in 30 years. Overall, Los Angeles has lost 15 of 16, including the team’s longest drought since losing 10 straight in 1992.

“The Dodgers have too much talent not to come of it, and they will,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “They play hard, and they’ll get their consistency back.”

Rich Hill (9-8) gave up two runs and four hits in five innings. Chatwood (7-12) allowed five hits and struck out five.

The Rockies won their sixth straight on the road for the first time since April 2015. They earned their first four-game sweep of the Dodgers since 2010 and their first in L.A. since 2007.

“It was a huge series for us,” Reynolds said. “This is a great atmosphere to play in, and it’s even better to silence the crowd. It seemed like the Dodgers couldn’t lose, and now they can’t win, but that’s what this game does to you. It’s hard.”

The Dodgers are just the fourth team in major league history to win 14 of 15 games and lose 14 of 15 in the same season, joining the 1914 Pirates, 1955 Phillies and 1959 Kansas City Athletics, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Los Angeles has 15 losses in the past 17 days. Before this drop-off, the Dodgers’ previous 14 losses came over a span of 85 days, in which the team went 58-14 in that stretch.

“As they say, success isn’t in a straight line, right?” Hill said. “It’s an extremely difficult time right now.”

The Dodgers last won on Sept. 1, when ace Clayton Kershaw pitched them to a 1-0 victory at San Diego. They’ll try to shake their stunning malaise when they hit the road Monday for a 10-game trip to San Francisco, first-place Washington and Philadelphia.

“It’s past the point of anger and frustration now,” shortstop Corey Seager said. “We have to go out and play better.”

The Rockies took a 2-0 lead into the eighth and then broke it open with five runs. Reynolds hit his fifth career grand slam over the left-field wall off Walker Buehler, the Dodgers’ prized prospect making his second appearance in the big leagues.

Buehler came on in the eighth and promptly gave up a single to DJ LeMahieu and walked Arenado. He struck out Story before walking Carlos Gonzalez to load the bases. Reynolds connected on a 3-2 pitch, sending many in the announced crowd of 50,161 heading to the exits.

Arenado homered leading off the third, and Story hit a two-out, solo shot in the ninth.

Alex Verdugo hit his first major league homer leading off the bottom of the ninth to prevent the Dodgers from getting shut out.

Hill was in trouble immediately, giving up two walks and two hits to his first four batters, including an RBI single by Arenado. Hill escaped the bases-loaded jam by retiring the next three batters, striking out two.

TOMMY TALK

Hall of Famer Tom Lasorda, who managed the Dodgers to their last World Series championship in 1988, visited with Roberts and talked to the team before the game. “He just wanted to put his hand on my shoulder and said, ‘I’ve been there. It’s going to be OK,’” Roberts said before the game. “We’re getting to some uncharted territory.”

ETHIER’S BAT

Veteran Andre Ethier is 4-for-8 with a home run and an RBI in his past five games since he was reinstated from the DL on Sept. 1. He went 2-for-2 Sunday for his first multi-hit game since Sept. 25, 2015, at San Francisco. Ethier has spent the majority of the season sidelined by a bad back.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rockies: Reinstated LHP Tyler Anderson from 60-day DL. … Recalled RHP Jairo Diaz from Triple-A Albuquerque and placed him on 60-day DL with right elbow inflammation.

UP NEXT

Rockies: LH Kyle Freeland (11-10, 3.99 ERA) starts Monday at Arizona in the opener of a four-game series. His victories and ERA lead major league rookies. However, he’s 0-3 with a 5.33 ERA in six starts since Aug. 4. He hasn’t won since July 30 at Washington.

Dodgers: RH Kenta Maeda (12-6, 4.02) starts Monday at San Francisco in place of LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu, who is being given extra rest after making 21 starts.

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Tilman Fertitta

Tilman Fertitta

The Houston Rockets have been sold to local billionaire Tilman Fertitta, who called the purchase of his hometown team a “dream come true.”

Terms of the sale, which was announced Tuesday, were not disclosed. A league source told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, however, that Fertitta agreed to purchase the team from Leslie Alexander for $2.2 billion, a record sale price for an NBA franchise.

The sale is pending approval by the NBA’s Board of Governors. Fertitta is a native of Galveston, Texas, and has had courtside seats at Rockets games for the past several years.

“I am truly honored to have been chosen as the next owner of the Houston Rockets,” Fertitta said in a statement released by the team. “This is a life-long dream come true.”

The Rockets acknowledged the timing of the sale as Houston recovers from historic damage caused by Hurricane Harvey, saying “it is truly unfortunate that this announcement is occurring amidst the aftermath of one of the biggest tragedies in the history of our great City.”

Alexander and Fertitta agreed in principle to the sale of the team Monday, league sources told Wojnarowski.

The Rockets were valued at $1.65 billion — eighth-most valuable in the NBA — by Forbes magazine earlier this year but received multiple offers that started at $2 billion, league sources told Wojnarowski.

Fertitta owns Landry’s, Inc., one of the nation’s biggest restaurant corporations, and Golden Nugget Casinos and Hotels. The Rockets said in a statement that Fertitta has no other partners in connection with the transaction, which also includes operation of the Toyota Center in Houston.

If the sale of the franchise is approved, the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas will not be able to offer betting on Rockets games.

Feritta told KRIV-Fox 26 earlier this year that he was interested in buying the Rockets after Alexander announced that the franchise was for sale. Fertitta also told KRIV-Fox 26 that he planned to keep the Rockets in Houston.

An original investor in the NFL’s Houston Texans, Fertitta offered $81 million to buy the Rockets in 1993, but the team was sold to Alexander for $85 million.

“I am excited to welcome and pass the torch to Tilman,” Alexander said in a statement. “He is a Houstonian, business leader and committed to the success and excellence of the Rockets both on and off the basketball court. I have personally known Tilman for over 24 years and don’t think I could have found anyone more capable of continuing the winning tradition of our Houston Rockets.”

The Rockets won the NBA title in the first two seasons after Alexander bought the team. In 24 seasons under Alexander’s ownership, the Rockets have won 56.9 percent of their games, fifth-best in the league.

“Leslie Alexander has been one of the best owners in all of sports, and I thank him immensely for this opportunity,” Fertitta said. “He has the heart of a champion. Lastly, out of respect for the NBA’s approval process, I can say no more other than I am overwhelmed with emotion to have this opportunity in my beloved city of Houston.”

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Romelu Lukaku’s 74th-minute header confirmed Belgium’s spot in the 2018 World Cup with a 2-1 victory over Greece in Group H on Sunday.

An uneventful game sprang to life in the second half, with Jan Vertonghen opening the scoring for the visiting team only to see Greece draw level three minutes later when Zeca smashed home a first-time volley from Georgios Tzavellas.

But a minute after that, Lukaku rose highest to head a Thomas Meunier cross into the back of the net and secure top spot in their group to make Belgium the first UEFA team besides the hosts to book a spot in Russia.

Although Belgium cannot be caught in the group, the race for second and a playoff spot remains wide open.

Bosnia-Herzegovina are the current incumbents after they jumped a point ahead of Greece with a 4-0 win in Gibraltar, Edin Dzeko scoring twice.

France’s qualification hopes suffered a setback as they were held to a shock goalless draw at home to minnows Luxembourg.

Didier Deschamps’s side, who thrashed the Netherlands 4-0 on Thursday, were expected to win convincingly in Toulouse but they were unable to break down a country positioned 126 places below them in the FIFA world rankings.

Midfielder Paul Pogba headed against the crossbar in the second half while Luxembourg goalkeeper Jonathan Joubert produced some fine saves to earn his side a memorable draw.

The result could have been even worse for Les Bleus, with Luxembourg midfielder Gerson Rodrigues striking an upright late on.

Portugal ensured they cannot finish lower than second in Group B after they ground out a 1-0 win over 10-man Hungary.

Former Watford forward Tamas Priskin was sent off after half an hour for an elbow on Pepe but it was only Andre Silva’s header from Cristiano Ronaldo’s cross that sealed all three points.

The loss ends Hungary’s hopes of reaching the World Cup.

Switzerland’s comfortable 3-0 win in Latvia means they stay three points clear at the top but automatic progress is not beyond Portugal, who host Switzerland in their final fixture.

Second-half goals from Blerim Dzemaili and a Ricardo Rodríguez penalty  padded the Swiss lead after a first-half own goal from Latvia’s Andris Vanins had given the visiting side the lead on nine minutes.

Davy Propper scored a brace as Netherlands kept alive their hopes of qualifying with a 3-1 victory over Bulgaria.

Propper broke the deadlock in the eighth minute when he converted Daley Blind’s cross from close range and Robben then made it two after 67 minutes as he slid in to meet another Blind delivery.

Ivelin Popov pulled one back for Bulgaria two minutes later as he guided a header into the bottom corner, but Netherlands grabbed a third 10 minutes from time through Propper, who headed home Quincy Promes’ cross for his second of the evening.

The win sees Netherlands leapfrog Bulgaria into third in Group A, keeping them in sight of Sweden and France.

Sweden now trail France by just one point after their 4-0 rout of Belarus.

Emil Forsberg opened the scoring in the 18th minute, rounding Sergey Chernik before slotting home, before Christoffer Nyman netted six minutes later after taking advantage of a Belarus mistake at the back.

Marcus Berg then made sure of the result eight minutes before the break with a simple finish after being teed up by Forsberg, with Andreas Granqvist scroing a fourth from the penalty spot six minutes from time.

Domagoj Vida scored Croatia’s winner as they beat Kosovo 1-0 in Group I, with the game resuming on Sunday following its suspension on Saturday due to heavy rain.

The match in Zagreb resumed after 21 minutes, with Vida’s goal — his first for Croatia in four years — coming after 74 minutes when he headed home Luka Modric’s free kick into the bottom corner.

The result ensured Croatia returned to the top of group, two points clear of second-placed Ukraine, with Kosovo remaining bottom.

In Group B, Gilli Sorensen scored Faroe Islands’ winner as they recorded their second victory of the campaign with a 1-0 defeat of Andorra.

Sorensen struck just after the half-hour mark with a low drive into the bottom corner for Faroe Islands, who remain fourth in the standings, one position ahead of their opponents.

Mattias Kait netted a last-minute winner as Estonia beat Cyprus 1-0 in Group H.

Kait struck from outside the box to secure Estonia a second win of the campaign, though the result keeps them one place behind Cyprus in fifth.