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[SPORTS] 2016 “THE YEAR IN SPORTS”

The Year in Sports…

 

As 2016 comes to a close I could not help but take a look at all the amazing stories of this year…

 

The greatest story line to me has to be the World Series win for the Chicago Cubs. While they were one of the favorites going in to the season, having not won a title 108 years it is just a moment when you have to be happy for them even if you are not a sports fan. That said while a perennial bad team the majority of the past 108 years somehow they have managed to maintain an incredibly loyal fan base and have been selling out for years. Not only did they win the World Series but it also took one of the most exciting game sevens to make it happen with an 8-7 10-inning victory over the Cleveland Indians who were trying to exercise there own demons having not a Championship since 1948.

 

Another monumental moment in sports this year was Peyton Manning taking the Broncos back to the Super Bowl and earning his 2nd ring as we all knew retirement was in the wings. Coming back from a mid-season injury and really a shell of his MVP form, he along with Von Miller and the vaunted defense willed another title for Denver.

 

What truly kept me on the edge of my seats during a usually boring long NBA season was watching the Golden St Warriors go for the best record in NBA history. The Chicago Bulls in 1996 when an absurd 72-10 and established a mark I thought would never be broken. Low and behold Steph Curry your defending MVP came back with another MVP season and players like Clay Thompson and Draymond Green played at All Star levels and the once laughing stock for many years went on to go 73-9. They reached the NBA finals and after a 3-1 lead bowed out to Lebron and the Cavs 4-3. Many will say because they did not close the deal they are not in conversation with greatest teams ever. If anybody’s asking I am taking the 96 Bulls in 5 games if they would have played.

 

This was also the year of the Summer Olympics and we had some great moments. Carmelo led the US Basketball team to another Gold and we loved that but swimmer Michael Phelps winning his record 23rd medal and retiring from the Olympics was the top story. The most bizarre and controversial moment was when Ryan Lotche, Phelps’ teammate alleged that he was robbed by gunpoint at a gas station with fellow swimmers Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and James Feigen. Brazilian officials found no evidence that the incident occurred and announced in a press conference that the men had vandalized the property.

 

There were so many great stories in 2016 these are just a few what are your favorites?

 

#allaboooooard

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Alex Rodriguez to play last game Friday, become adviser for Yankees

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The New York Yankees announced Sunday that Alex Rodriguez will play his final game Friday, then assume a position as a special adviser and instructor with the team.

Following Friday’s game, Rodriguez will be unconditionally released by the Yankees from his player contract in order to sign a contract to serve in his new role with the organization through Dec. 31, 2017.

Rodriguez, 41, has won three MVPs and has made 14 All-Star teams during his 19 full seasons in the big leagues. He is fourth on the all-time home run list with 696, trailing leader Barry Bonds (762) by 66.
“This is a tough day. I love this game and I love this team,” Rodriguez said, often choking up during Sunday’s news conference. “And today I’m saying goodbye.”

The Yankees, who are pushing to play younger players, are contractually obligated to pay Rodriguez the remainder of his $21 million salary for this season and the $21 million he is owed for 2017, the final season of a 10-year, $275 million contract that was the baseball’s largest when he signed it.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman confirmed that Rodriguez and the team did not reach any type of settlement regarding the remainder of his contract. Rodriguez, therefore, will be paid the full sum still owed on his deal, which is approximately $27 million.

When asked if the Yankees considered letting Rodriguez play on another team in order to reach certain home run milestones, Cashman said no teams reached out to the Yankees to inquire about trading for him.

“Of course I think I can play baseball. You always think you have one more hit in you,” Rodriguez said. “That wasn’t in the cards. That was the Yankees’ decision and I’m at peace with it.”

Cashman indicated that Rodriguez is free to sign with any team following Friday’s release.

“After spending several days discussing this plan with Alex, I am pleased that he will remain a part of our organization moving forward and transition into a role in which I know he can flourish,” Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement. “We have an exciting group of talented young players at every level of our system. Our job as an organization is to utilize every resource possible to allow them to reach their potential, and I expect Alex to directly contribute to their growth and success.

“Baseball runs through his blood. He’s a tireless worker and an astute student of the game. Alex has already proven to be a willing and effective mentor to many players who have come through our clubhouse, and I am confident that this next phase of his baseball life will bring out the best in Alex and the next generation of Yankees.”
With Brett Gardner, Brian McCann and his teammates in attendance at a packed news conference, Rodriguez said he was thankful he would get a few more at-bats in front of family and friends.

“We all want to keep playing forever,” Rodriguez said. “But it doesn’t work that way.”

Rodriguez’s announcement comes just two days after Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira announced he would retire at the end of the season.

Statistically speaking, Rodriguez is a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but he may never get in because he was suspended a then-record full season in 2014 for performance-enhancing drug use. It was the second time he had admitted to using PEDs.

The Yankees had essentially made Rodriguez a full-time bench player this season a year after he was a vital member of the lineup during his 33-home run comeback in 2015. But he never could get going in 2016, hitting just .204 with 9 home runs and 29 RBIs in 62 games. His OPS is .609.

Rodriguez told Fox Sports that being on the bench made him “very uncomfortable.”

“I’m sure it was hard for them. It was hard for me,” he told Fox Sports. “I’ve played almost 22 years in the major leagues, and I’ve never sat on the bench. It was new territory, that’s for sure.”

On falling short of 700 home runs, Rodriguez told Fox Sports: “It’s disappointing. It would have been a lot of fun to give it a crack. I think I could have done it. But there’s no shame in falling 18 home runs short of Babe Ruth [714].”

Rodriguez recently sounded at peace with being cut, saying he would go home to Miami to spend more time with his daughters. Rodriguez mentioned his daughters this spring when he told ESPN he planned to retire following the 2017 season.

Rodriguez was drafted by the Seattle Mariners as the No. 1 pick in 1993. By 1996, at 20, he was an All-Star and second in the MVP voting after leading the league in average at .358 and home runs at 36.
By the time he was 25, he left Seattle for Texas for what was then the largest contract in American sports history, a 10-year, $252 million deal that exactly doubled the $126 million the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Kevin Garnett was due to earn.

Though he personally produced for the Rangers, the marriage would last only last three years. After winning the MVP in Texas in 2003, Rodriguez was nearly dealt to the Boston Red Sox, who were still in the middle of their 86-year championship drought. A trade for Manny Ramirez was agreed upon, but it was foiled by the MLB Players’ Association, which wouldn’t allow Rodriguez to give back money from his initial contact.
With Derek Jeter at shortstop and Aaron Boone — who had just beaten the Red Sox with a game-winning home run in Game 7 of the American League Championship Serie — at third base, the Yankees did not have a need for Rodriguez. But when Boone tore ligaments in his knee playing pickup basketball, Cashman swooped in, dealing Alfonso Soriano and Joaquin Arias for Rodriguez. The Rangers chose Arias over a minor leaguer named Robinson Cano, who was on a list of players from which Texas could choose. Texas also paid $67 million of the $179 million that Rodriguez was still owed.

Rodriguez agreed to move from shortstop to third base in order to play next to Jeter. Rodriguez went on to win three MVPs, and he finally shook off his postseason troubles by leading the Yankees offensively during their 2009 World Series run.

Prior to that season, Rodriguez first admitted to PED use after a Sports Illustrated story outed him.

Rodriguez said after the SI story that he was a changed man, but his involvement in Biogenesis and subsequent fight to try to overcome the allegations led him to file lawsuits against baseball, the players’ association and a team doctor. He questioned the integrity of then-commissioner Bud Selig, as well as other executives, during a controversy-filled attempt at a defense.

There was a thought Rodriguez may never play again after the suspension, but with the Yankees still owing him $61 million, Steinbrenner decided to let him return.

Rodriguez, looking for forgiveness, carried himself with contrition and helped lead the Yankees to an AL wild-card berth in 2015.

This year, though, he and the team have not had the same results.

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Jose Reyes accepts suspension through May 31

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Major League Baseball announced Friday that it has suspended Colorado Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes without pay through May 31 for violating its domestic violence policy.

Reyes agreed to the punishment and will not appeal. The penalty stemmed from an alleged altercation with his wife at a Hawaii resort in October.

“I want to apologize for everything that has happened,” Reyes said in a statement. “I am sorry to the Rockies organization, my teammates, all the fans and most of all my family.

“I am happy to put this all in the past and get back to doing what I love most, playing baseball. My wife Katherine has remained by my side throughout everything and for that I will be forever grateful.”
The suspension is retroactive to Feb. 23, when Reyes was placed on paid leave. Through Friday, he had missed 35 games.

Reyes will lose $6,251,366 in salary as a result of the suspension, sources said. That amount was negotiated with the players’ association, as part of an agreement that he would lose pay for 52 games based on the 183 days that span the regular season.

Reyes is scheduled to make $22 million this year. As part of the discipline, he has agreed to donate $100,000 toward the prevention and treatment of domestic violence.

He can take part in extended spring training and is eligible to start a minor league rehabilitation assignment June 1. The Rockies are 17-18 without him after Friday’s 5-2 win over the Mets.

“Our club has shown me that they are very adaptable and that they are made of the right stuff,” manager Walt Weiss said. “I’m not worried about it. It’s not a concern for me right now. We have a good thing going and a good culture, and it’s taken some time to get there, and I am proud of that aspect of our club. Our guys handle adversity very well.”

Sources told ESPN’s Buster Olney that teams are interested in talking with the Rockies about a trade for Reyes, a four-time All-Star acquired in July.

Reyes was arrested Oct. 31 in Hawaii on a charge of domestic violence. He was allegedly involved in an argument with his wife that turned physical.

Hawaii News Now reported that Reyes grabbed his wife by the throat and shoved her into a sliding glass door at their Maui hotel room, resulting in injuries to her thigh, neck and wrist. Reyes was released on $1,000 bail, was issued a citation and was told to stay away from his wife for three days.

Reyes was scheduled to go to trial in April, but prosecutors dropped the case when Reyes’ wife refused to talk to them about what happened, calling her “an uncooperative witness.”

“Mr. Reyes cooperated fully with my office’s investigation,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said Friday in a statement. “Having reviewed all of the available evidence, I have concluded that Mr. Reyes violated the Policy and should be subject to discipline in the form of an unpaid suspension that will expire on May 31st. I am encouraged by Mr. Reyes’ commitment to the treatment provisions of the Policy in order to ensure that such an incident does not occur in the future.”

During Reyes’ absence in the regular season, rookie Trevor Story has filled in and been one of baseball’s big surprises. Story hit two home runs off Arizona ace Zack Greinke on Opening Day in his major league debut, established the rookie record for consecutive games with a home run to start a career (four) and ranks among the big league leaders with 11 homers and 28 RBIs.

“I don’t worry myself too much about the future or what’s going to happen when Jose comes back,” Story said. “Take it day by day, and things may work out.”

Rockies veteran Carlos Gonzalez said the team had a meeting after Friday’s news. He said the decision won’t affect the Rockies and that they will stand by their teammate.

“I talked to him,” Gonzalez said. “He didn’t want to say much on the phone. He wanted to see me in person, as a friend. That’s what I am looking forward to. I am happy that he’s going to start playing baseball again. People make mistakes, and he’s getting another opportunity, and he’s doing the right thing now, and hopefully he won’t make the same mistake again.”

Reyes is the second player suspended under the domestic abuse policy adopted in August. New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman was banned 30 games for allegedly choking his girlfriend after an argument at his home in Davie, Florida. A rainout cut the games he missed to 29.

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Yoenis Cespedes reaches three-year, $75 million deal with Mets

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Yoenis Cespedes is staying in New York.

Cespedes, 30, agreed to a deal with the Mets on Friday night, according to ESPN’s Jim Bowden and media reports, a move that takes the last big bat off the free-agent market.

The deal, pending a physical, is for three years and $75 million, including $27.5 million in the first year, after which he can opt out.

The $25 million average annual value of the deal ties Cespedes with Giancarlo Stanton and Josh Hamilton for the highest average annual value ever for an outfielder, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

A right-handed-hitting outfielder from Cuba, Cespedes is coming off a career year, which started with the Detroit Tigers before he was traded to the Mets just minutes before the trade deadline. He set career highs in a number of power categories, including home runs (35), RBIs (105) and OPS (.870). His power was on full display with New York, for whom he hit 17 home runs in 57 games, including nine in a 13-game stretch to start the month of September, reviving an offense that had ranked last in the majors in most categories upon his arrival in late July.

Cespedes was slowed during the postseason by a left shoulder injury that required a cortisone injection before the World Series. He departed the final game of the World Series after fouling a pitch off his left knee.
Mets manager Terry Collins, speaking Thursday night in New York, offered high praise for Cespedes.

“He works very hard to be a good teammate,” Collins said. “Even though he doesn’t speak a lot of English, he works very, very hard at it.

“His pregame routine is off the charts … off the charts. He has things that he does right before a game in the batting cage. … When he walks onto that field, he’s legit.

“I’ve been around a lot of great players. I’ve seen a lot of great players. This guy, just strictly tools, the five tools, he’s got them all.”

The Nationals reportedly made a five-year offer to Cespedes, a 2014 All-Star and a 2015 Gold Glove winner. The Baltimore Orioles also had interest in Cespedes, offering him a contract before re-signing slugger Chris Davis last week.

A baseball source familiar with Cespedes’ contract negotiations previously told ESPN that Cespedes had been seeking a six-year deal in the $22 million annual range this winter.

The Mets, who had expected for much of the offseason to be moving on from Cespedes, now have a glut of outfielders. Curtis Granderson, Michael Conforto, Alejandro De Aza and Juan Lagares also are signed for 2016.

Cespedes’ addition raises the team’s payroll in 2016 to roughly $140 million, its highest level since Omar Minaya’s days as general manager.

It took Major League Baseball and the players’ union acting in September to allow the Mets to negotiate with Cespedes this winter. Because Cespedes’ contract called for him to be a free agent two years before players generally are eligible, the Mets technically had to release him after the postseason. By rule, that made the Mets ineligible to re-sign him. But after Cespedes’ side approached the Mets, MLB and the players’ union agreed to waive the rule, allowing them to be one of his suitors.

A star in Cuba, Cespedes made his debut in the majors in 2012, hitting .292 with 23 home runs and 82 RBIs for Oakland, which signed him to a four-year, $36 million deal.

Oakland sent him to Boston at the 2014 trade deadline. The Red Sox traded him to Detroit last offseason, and the Tigers moved him to the Mets at the 2015 trade deadline.

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Ernie Banks suffered heart attack

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Ernie Banks’ family has announced that the Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer died after suffering a heart attack.

Banks, a two-time National League MVP who spent his entire major league career with the Cubs, died Friday at the age of 83.The cause of his death was not announced until Sunday, when family attorney Mark Bogen revealed at a news conference that Banks died from the heart attack just seven days before his 84th birthday.

Banks’ wife, Liz Banks, also was in attendance.

“It is certainly a sad day for us,” she said. “I’d like to thank everyone for being here. … He was very beloved and he is going to be dearly missed by family, friends and all of his fans.”

The Cubs and the city announced later Sunday that a statue of Banks will be temporarily moved from outside Wrigley Field to downtown. It will be on display in Daley Plaza from Wednesday through Saturday.

Banks hit 512 home runs during his 19-year career and was fond of saying, “It’s a great day for baseball. Let’s play two!”That finish to his famous catchphrase adorns his statue outside Wrigley Field.

Although he played in 14 All-Star Games from 1953 to 1971, Banks never reached the postseason, and the Cubs finished below .500 in all but six of his seasons. Still, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977, the first year he was eligible, and selected to baseball’s all-century team in 1999.

Banks’ best season came in 1958, when he hit .313 with 47 homers and 129 RBIs. Although the Cubs went 72-82 and finished sixth in the National League, Banks edged Willie Mays and Hank Aaron for his first MVP award.

He was the first player from a losing team to win the NL MVP. Banks won the MVP again in 1959, becoming the first NL player to win it in consecutive years, even though the Cubs had another dismal year. Banks hit .304 with 45 homers and a league-leading 143 RBIs.

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Red Sox blow 5-run lead, lose 9th straight game on error in 15th

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The Boston Red Sox blew a big early lead en route to their longest skid in 13 years.

Andrew Miller threw a force attempt at second base into center field, allowing pinch-runner Cole Figueroa to score in the bottom of the 15th inning as the Tampa Bay Rays handed the Red Sox their ninth consecutive loss, 6-5 Saturday.

Boston scored five runs in the first inning but still lost its ninth in a row for the first time since Aug. 25-Sept. 4, 2001.

“These types of games are difficult to take when you come out on the losing side of it,” Boston manager John Farrell said. James Loney opened the 15th with a single off Miller (1-4). Figueroa ran for Loney and went to second on Brandon Guyer’s bunt single. He scored when Miller threw the ball into center field while attempting to get a double play on Desmond Jennings’ grounder.

“Got the comebacker,” Miller said. “I went to go throw like instinct. You spin around and start to see everything unfold, and at the last second saw I didn’t have a play. I didn’t have anybody getting to the bag and just didn’t have time to hold onto the ball.”

All four of Miller’s loses have come since May 13.

Cesar Ramos (2-3) allowed an infield single and two walks in three scoreless innings for the win. Five Tampa Bay pitchers limited Boston to six hits, with just two coming after the first inning.

“We won that game because we pitched so well,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

A.J. Pierzynski homered for the Red Sox in a game that took 5 hours, 16 minutes.

Matt Joyce had an RBI single and Guyer drove in two with a double off Jake Peavy in the fifth as the Rays rallied from a five-run deficit to tie it at 5. Logan Forsythe had a second-inning sacrifice fly and an RBI single during the fourth.

The struggling Boston offense broke out against David Price. After Mike Carp was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Jonny Gomes had a sacrifice fly, Pierzynski connected on a three-run homer.Boston, which scored just 16 runs in its previous eight games, had just two baserunners — Gomes’ walk in the third and an eighth-inning single by Xander Bogaerts — over the next seven innings against Price, who allowed five runs and five hits in eight innings.

“I think we all expected he would go out there and shut them out like he did,” Guyer said of Price after the first. “So we knew we just had to get the runs and back him up, and we did that.”

Bogaerts left the game due to right hamstring cramps and was replaced defensively at shortstop by Jonathan Herrera in the 11th. Bogaerts doesn’t believe the injury is a serious one.

Peavy gave up five runs and eight hits over six innings.

The Red Sox used a makeshift lineup with David Ortiz, Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino all out with injuries.

Saturday was a planned off day for Ortiz, who has calf soreness. Napoli could sit out a few games due to lingering effects of flu-like symptoms along with hamstring, calf and finger issues. Victorino was placed on the 15-day disabled list after aggravating a right hamstring injury running to first base in the ninth inning of Friday’s 1-0 loss to the Rays.

Ortiz hit a grounder pinch-hitting in the 10th.

“There is no give up in this group,” Farrell said. “You do the best you can with what you have. That’s the mode we’re in right now.”

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Dodgers’ $235M payroll tops MLB

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NEW YORK — Zack Greinke and the Los Angeles Dodgers have knocked Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees off baseball’s payroll perch, part of an offseason spending spree that has the average salary approaching $4 million for the first time.

The Dodgers are ending the Yankees’ 15-year streak as baseball’s biggest spenders and as of Tuesday had a projected payroll of $235 million, according to study of all major league contracts by The Associated Press. New York, which last failed to top the payroll rankings in 1998, was a distant second at $204 million. After that, it was another huge gap to Philadelphia at $180 million, followed by Boston at $163 million and Detroit at $162 million.

Houston is last at $45 million, up from $27 million at the start of last year, and Miami at $48 million remains 29th.

Some large-market teams are among the smaller spenders, with the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs projected at $89 million, ranked 22nd and 23rd.

Rodriguez, who holds the record for the largest deal in baseball history at $275 million over 10 years, is suspended for the season for violations of baseball’s drug agreement and labor contract. Because of the ban, he will earn only $2,868,852 of his $25 million salary — 21 days pay for the 183-day season.

Greinke would have become the highest-paid player, even if Rodriguez was getting all his cash. The pitcher has a $24 million salary in the second season of his $147 million, six-year contract, and because he can opt out of the deal after the 2015 season, baseball’s accounting rules call for his $12 million signing bonus to be prorated over the first three seasons.

“We’ve got great ownership and a great fan base, and we need to do what we can to win games,” Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said last week in Sydney, where Los Angeles swept its opening, two-game series against Arizona.

“I don’t think the guys worry about it. I know we don’t worry about it,” Colletti said. “We’re expected to win, and that’s how we go about it. Money doesn’t mean you win. Money just means you have a chance to get the best players.”

As of Tuesday, the average salary projected to be between $3.95 million and $4 million, with the final figure depending on how many players are put on the disabled list by the time opening-day rosters are finalized at 3 p.m. Sunday.That translates to a rise of 8 to 10 percent from last year’s opening average of $3.65 million and would be the largest increase since 2006 or possibly even 2001.

“I’m not surprised. With the type of revenues clubs are enjoying these days, the average salaries are going to go up,” New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said.

Illustrating the rate of escalation, the opening-day average was $1.07 million when Derek Jeter first reached the major leagues in 1995, broke the $2 million mark in 2001 and spurted past $3 million in 2008.

“I think it’s great. I think it just shows the game is growing, fan interest is there,” said Jeter, the Yankees captain who is retiring at the end of this season. “The business of baseball seems like it’s booming pretty good right now.”

The average U.S. wage in 2012 was $42,498, according to the Social Security Administration, the latest figure available and an annual increase of 3.12 percent.

Following Greinke on the highest-paid list are Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard and Cliff Lee at $25 million, the Yankees’ CC Sabathia at $24.3 million, and Seattle’s Robinson Cano and Texas’ Prince Fielder at $24 million each.

The AP’s figures include salaries and prorated shares of signing bonuses and other guaranteed income for players on active rosters, disabled lists and the restricted list. For some players, parts of deferred money are discounted to reflect current values.

Payroll figures factor in adjustments for cash transactions in trades, signing bonuses that are the responsibility of the club agreeing to the contract, option buyouts, and termination pay for released players.

For instance, the Yankees are receiving $18.6 million from the Los Angeles Angels to cover most of the $21 million due to outfielder Vernon Wells, who has been released, and $13 million from the Chicago Cubs to pay most of the $18 million owed outfielder Alfonso Soriano. The Mets’ payroll include buyouts to Johan Santana ($4.9 million present value) and Jason Bay ($2.7 million present value).

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A-Rod’s ban reduced to 162 games

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Alex Rodriguez has been suspended for the entire 2014 season by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, who reduced the New York Yankees third baseman’s ban from 211 games to 162 for his involvement in Major League Baseball’s Biogenesis scandal.

The suspension also includes all potential playoff games in 2014.
As expected, Rodriguez said he will contest Saturday’s ruling in federal court.

The decision will relieve the Yankees of about $24 million in luxury-tax savings based on A-Rod’s 2014 salary; the team still owes him about $61 million for 2015-17.

Horowitz’s ruling upholds a good portion of the original 211-game suspension levied by MLB, which banned Rodriguez in August after concluding its investigation. Rodriguez continued playing after appealing.

Twelve other players were suspended as a result of the investigation, although none for longer than the 65 games given to Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun. The other players were suspended 50 games, the punishment for first-time drug offenders stipulated by baseball’s collective bargaining agreement.According to spokesman Ron Berkowitz, A-Rod plans on attending spring training, and will be allowed to participate due to a loophole in the suspension. Rodriguez’s side argues that if he is able to receive an injunction to stop the suspension, he will able to play and thus should prepare for the season.

The Yankees could tell him not to come to Tampa, Fla. Last spring training, Rodriguez was not with his teammates at all as he rehabbed from hip surgery.

While the decision is a reduction of the punishment baseball sought, it still could mean the end of Rodriguez’s playing career.

He will turn 39 in July and, coming off two hip surgeries and a 2013 season in which he played just 44 games, may not be able to return after sitting out an entire season.

Rodriguez will go off the Yankees’ 40-man roster and onto a restricted list. The team will be able to fill the roster spot.

The Yankees will get a season’s worth of salary relief against the luxury tax — or, based on the 162-game, 183-day season, about $24.1 million.

Rodriguez is set to make salaries of $21 million, $20 million and $20 million over the three remaining seasons. For luxury-tax purposes, teams are charged prorated portions of the deal annually — so Rodriguez’s luxury-tax figure was one-tenth of $275 million, or $27.5 million. But the suspension is for 162 games, not the full 183 days, so the Yankees will be charged the prorated portion of $27.5 million.

The suspension is the culmination of a nearly yearlong process dating to a story in the Miami New Times last January that revealed the names of Rodriguez and others in the records of Biogenesis, a now-shuttered Coral Gables anti-aging clinic suspected of being a source of performance-enhancing drugs for MLB players and other athletes.

The testimony of Anthony Bosch, the clinic’s proprietor, was a key element in baseball’s case against Rodriguez, as were copies of the records, which baseball paid in excess of $125,000 to obtain.

Rodriguez’s spokesman issued a statement before the decision was officially announced, calling the suspension “inconsistent” and based on “false and wholly unreliable testimonY
“The number of games sadly comes as no surprise, as the deck has been stacked against me from day one,” Rodriguez said in the statement. “This is one man’s decision, that was not put before a fair and impartial jury, does not involve me having failed a single drug test, is at odds with the facts and is inconsistent with the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement and the Basic Agreement, and relies on testimony and documents that would never have been allowed in any court in the United States because they are false and wholly unreliable.

“This injustice is MLB’s first step toward abolishing guaranteed contracts in the 2016 bargaining round, instituting lifetime bans for single violations of drug policy, and further insulating its corrupt investigative program from any variety defense by accused players, or any variety of objective review.”

MLB defended the length of the original suspension in a news release.

“For more than five decades, the arbitration process under the Basic Agreement has been a fair and effective mechanism for resolving disputes and protecting player rights,” MLB said in the statement. “While we believe the original 211-game suspension was appropriate, we respect the decision rendered by the Panel and will focus on our continuing efforts on eliminating performance-enhancing substances from our game.”
n a separate statement, the Yankees said they “respect Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, the arbitration process, as well as the decision released today by the arbitration panel.”

A spokeswoman for Bosch said he thought the suspension was deserved.

“Tony Bosch doesn’t take joy in seeing Alex Rodriguez suspended from baseball, but he believes the arbitrator’s decision was appropriate,” Joyce Fitzpatrick said in a statement. “He is glad to have the arbitration behind him and believes he can play a valuable role in the future by educating athletes about the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs.”

Rodriguez reiterated his claim that he has not taken any PEDs in his time with the Yankees. The three-time American League MVP was the biggest name linked last year to Biogenesis.
“I have been clear that I did not use performance enhancing substances as alleged in the notice of discipline, or violate the Basic Agreement or the Joint Drug Agreement in any manner, and in order to prove it I will take this fight to federal court,” Rodriguez said in his statement. “I am confident that when a Federal Judge reviews the entirety of the record, the hearsay testimony of a criminal whose own records demonstrate that he dealt drugs to minors, and the lack of credible evidence put forth by MLB, that the judge will find that the panel blatantly disregarded the law and facts, and will overturn the suspension.

“No player should have to go through what I have been dealing with, and I am exhausting all options to ensure not only that I get justice, but that players’ contracts and rights are protected through the next round of bargaining, and that the MLB investigation and arbitration process cannot be used against others in the future the way it is currently being used to unjustly punish me.

“I will continue to work hard to get back on the field and help the Yankees achieve the ultimate goal of winning another championship. I want to sincerely thank my family, all of my friends, and of course the fans and many of my fellow MLB players for the incredible support I received throughout this entire ordeal.”

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Shane Victorino’s grand slam sends Red Sox to World Series

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BOSTON — When Shane Victorino signed with the Boston Red Sox as a free agent in the offseason, they were coming off a last-place finish that was their worst in almost half a century. They had fired their manager for the second year in a row.

He believed they could turn it around.

And quickly.

Victorino brought the Red Sox one big step closer to completing their comeback, sending them to the World Series with a seventh-inning grand slam that gave Boston a 5-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers in Game 6 of the AL Championship Series on Saturday night. The Red Sox will open the World Series on Wednesday night against the St. Louis Cardinals, the team they swept in 2004 to end their 86-year title drought. The Cardinals won the NL pennant on Friday night by eliminating the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games.

“It’s one of those moments you live for,” Victorino said as he wandered around the Fenway Park infield while Red Sox fans serenaded him with his theme song, Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds,” and its chorus, “Don’t worry about a thing, ‘Cause every little thing is gonna be all right.”

“Just listen to the crowd,” Victorino said, referring then to the Boston Marathon bombings that left the city reeling during the first month of his first season in town. “The one thing I came here to do is to be a part of this city. With all we went through as a city, there’s definitely a bond.”

Detroit took a 2-1 lead in the sixth and 21-game winner Max Scherzer protected it until the seventh, when Boston loaded the bases on a double, a walk and an error by rookie shortstop Jose Iglesias. Victorino fell behind Jose Veras 0-2 but lofted a hanging curveball over the Green Monster to set off a celebration in the Red Sox dugout and in the Fenway Park stands.

“It’s been a special ride,” second baseman Dustin Pedroia said, “and we’re still going.”

Junichi Tazawa got one out for the win, Craig Breslow pitched a scoreless eighth and series MVP Koji Uehara got the last three outs before the Red Sox poured out of the dugout to begin their now-familiar celebration on the mound.

“The way I would sum it up is that I thought their starters were good,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “I thought their bullpen was great.”

Uehara, who inherited the closer job after the team’s first two choices were injured, posted three saves and a win in the series. Then he joked about pitching so well under pressure.

“To tell you the truth, I almost threw up,” Uehara kidded through a translator.

It’s the 13th AL pennant for the Red Sox and their first since 2007, when they swept the Colorado Rockies to win it all for the second time in four seasons. Boston swept the Cardinals in ’04, winning Game 4 in St. Louis to clinch the title that put an end to generations of disappointment.

The latest trip comes one year after a 69-win season that prompted the team to jettison its high-priced stars, rebuild the roster and bring in manager John Farrell. Victorino was one of the biggest additions, and he delivered on Saturday as he did for much of the season. “Since the first day of spring training there wasn’t one person more important than the next,” said outfielder Jonny Gomes, also a newcomer this season. “We’re all pulling in the same direction.”

Scherzer got one out in the seventh but left after walking rookie Xander Bogaerts to put runners on first and second. Drew Smyly got Jacoby Ellsbury to hit a grounder up the middle, but it popped out of Iglesias’ glove behind second base and everyone was safe.

Veras came in and quickly got ahead of Victorino. But he hung a curveball and Victorino sent it toward the 37-foot left-field wall, which had already knocked down two Red Sox line drives.

This one left no doubt.

It was the second career postseason grand slam for Victorino, who also had a record-setting hit-by-pitch in the sixth.

Scherzer and Clay Buchholz also matched up in Game 2, when the Tigers right-hander took a no-hitter and a 5-0 lead into the sixth. The Red Sox rallied against the Detroit bullpen, tying it on David Ortiz’s eighth-inning grand slam and winning it in the ninth on Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s walk-off single through a drawn-in infield.

Both starters gave up hits in the first inning in the rematch, but it remained scoreless until Bogaerts doubled off the Green Monster with two outs in the fifth and scored on Ellsbury’s single.

But the Tigers took the lead on the bottom half, chasing Buchholz with a walk and Miguel Cabrera’s single before Franklin Morales walked Prince Fielder on four pitches to load the bases with nobody out.

Victor Martinez lined one high off the Green Monster to make it 2-1, holding at first with a two-run single.
Brandon Workman came in and got Jhonny Peralta to hit a hard grounder to Pedroia, who chased down Martinez in the basepath for one out and then threw home to get Fielder in a rundown. Saltalamacchia ran him back to third and dove, somersaulting over him while making the tag.

Workman struck Alex Avila out looking to end the inning.

“We kind of lucked out and got out of that inning,” Pedroia said. “Salty can run.”

Scherzer worked out of a jam in the bottom half after putting runners on second and third with one out. He allowed three runs on four hits and five walks, striking out seven in 6 1-3 innings.

Buchholz allowed two runs on four hits and two walks, striking out four in five-plus innings.

Scherzer walked the first two batters in the third, but Victorino popped up a bunt and Scherzer made a sliding catch for the first out.

Pedroia hit a high fly ball that was just foul of the Carlton Fisk pole above the Green Monster. After it was confirmed by replay, he hit a hard grounder down the line that Cabrera fielded, easily stepping on third base before throwing to first for the double play.

NOTES: It will be the first World Series between the teams with the best record in each league since 1999. … Detroit C Alex Avila, who absorbed a body shot and a foul ball off the mask in Game 5, took another ball off the mask in the fourth but remained in the game. … The Dropkick Murphys sang the national anthem before the game, followed by “Shipping up to Boston,” wearing Red Sox jerseys that said “Boston Strong” and the number 617. … The Red Sox were 5-0 all time in playoff Game 6s with a 3-2 edge. … Ellsbury had successfully stolen 18 bases in a row in the regular season and playoffs before being thrown out in the fifth. … Victorino was hit by a pitch to lead off the sixth, his sixth of the playoffs, extending his record and setting a major league record with the 10th postseason HBP of his career. Alex Rodriguez had the old record.

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Cubs fire manager Dale Sveum

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CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs have fired manager Dale Sveum after finishing last in the NL Central for the first time in seven years.

The Cubs closed the season dropping 41 of their final 59 games, including six of their final seven. They finished 66-96, and Sveum went 127-197 in his two seasons at the helm. He had one year left on a three-year deal signed before the 2012 season.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t very disappointed,” Sveum said to reporters outside Wrigley Field. “You’re optimistic, but you know what can happen.” The move came after a morning meeting with team president Theo Epstein.

“We had hoped that Dale would continue to grow with the organization and see it through here,” Epstein said in a news conference.

Sveum’s job security was undoubtedly hurt by the slow development of shortstop Starlin Castro and first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who appeared to regress this year.

“Things like this have to settle in. I don’t like sitting out,” Sveum said of what he’ll do next. “I’m a baseball guy and love being around it and part of it.”

His dismissal likely will ramp up speculation surrounding the status of New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi, a Peoria, Ill., native who played at nearby Northwestern.

Girardi’s contract with the Yankees expires at the end of October. He’ll talk with the Yankees before exploring other opportunities.

Speaking before Sunday’s season finale in Houston, Girardi said, “It’s not my personality to drag things out.”

Epstein said in the news conference that the Cubs “need certain things we are more likely to find outside the organization at this point.”

“We are clearly going to prioritize track record and managerial experience or, in lieu of extensive managerial experience, leadership,” Epstein said. “There has to be someone that is a proven leader.”

Epstein was effusive in his lauding of Sveum’s effort in a morning news release to announce the move.

“In his own authentic and understated way, Dale always put the team first and never complained about the hand he was dealt,” Epstein said in the statement. “He and his staff helped us excel in game planning and defensive positioning, contributed to the emergence of several players, and helped put us in position to make some important trades.

“I have no doubt that — much like Terry Francona, whom we hired in Boston after his stint with a losing Phillies club — Dale will go on to great success with his next team.”

Cubs reliever James Russell also praised Sveum.

“You feel like you’ve sort of let him down,” Russell said Monday on the “Carmen and Jurko” radio show on ESPN Chicago 1000. “Managers are the ones that get blamed for losing ballgames. It’s unfortunate, but essentially we’re the guys out there on the field, that really didn’t play that well … and it kind of falls down on the manager, which kind of sucks. “Even last year, losing 100 games, which, it’d drive a lot of people crazy, he showed up to the field and was the same person day in and day out. He was great, he handled it awesome, it showed a lot to the players in the locker room and to the staff, I’d think, as well.

“Nobody ever had a problem with him. He’s one of the most even-keeled guys I’ve ever met. He was fun to have around, and he was awesome to play for.”

The Cubs had just hired Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer when Sveum was tabbed to replace Mike Quade after the 2011 season.

Sveum had little experience as a manager other than an interim stint for the Milwaukee Brewers late in 2008 after Ned Yost was fired. But he did have a history with Epstein and Hoyer, having served as the Boston Red Sox’s third-base coach in 2004 and 2005 while Epstein and Hoyer worked in the team’s front office.

Sveum knew what he was getting into, that the Cubs were in the early stages of a top-to-bottom overhaul they hoped would transform the team into a perennial contender. That hasn’t happened. And if there is a payoff, Sveum won’t be around to see it.

With talented prospects such as Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Albert Almora and Kris Bryant in the system, things look promising at the minor league level. At the majors, it’s a different story.

With the Cubs shedding long-term prospects and dealing anyone with trade value in an effort to build the farm system, losses have been piling up at a staggering rate even for a franchise that last won a championship in 1908. The Cubs have dropped at least 91 games in three straight seasons for the first time, and they appear to be at least a year or two from making a significant jump in the win column.

They’ve taken mostly a frugal approach in free agency, going for players with low financial risks rather than making big splashes. The Cubs did make a big-ticket player purchase last offseason, signing starter Edwin Jackson to a four-year, $52 million contract, but he’s been a flop. They also traded away veteran pitchers Matt Garza and Scott Feldman and longtime left fielder Alfonso Soriano.

Through it all, the front office insisted Sveum would be judged on development rather than record, and that probably was his downfall, as Castro and Rizzo, who have long-term contracts, took steps back this season.

Castro continues to be an enigma, prone to lapses in the field, and he couldn’t make up for it at the plate. The two-time All-Star’s batting average has been in a steady decline.

Starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija didn’t quite deliver the way the Cubs hoped, either. At times, he can look like an All-Star, but he gave up five or more runs eight times.

Sveum did not appear to be in any real jeopardy until late in the season, when things got tense.

Jackson had words with Sveum in the dugout over being pulled after four innings in a game at Milwaukee. The next day, Samardzija got into it with third-base coach David Bell over defensive positioning. That, too, happened in the dugout. Later that week, Kevin Gregg nearly was released following a rant to reporters after he thought he lost the closer’s job.

After all that, Epstein let Sveum dangle when he was asked about his status, saying the manager would be evaluated at the end of the season.

Epstein, in the extensive news release, insisted the overhaul is on target.

“Soon, our organization will transition from a phase in which we have been primarily acquiring young talent to a phase in which we will promote many of our best prospects and actually field a very young, very talented club at the major league level,” he said. “The losing has been hard on all of us, but we now have one of the top farm systems in baseball, some of the very best prospects in the game, and a clear path forward.

“In order for us to win with this group — and win consistently — we must have the best possible environment for young players to learn, develop and thrive at the major league level.”

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