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‘I’m saying goodbye’: Maria Sharapova announces tennis retirement

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, who announced her retirement from tennis on Wednesday, will be remembered in many corners of her sport with respect more than affection – and it will not worry her much at all.

The 32-year-old Russian who arrived in America from Sochi with her father in 1994 as refugees from the poison of Chernobyl – with $700 and not a word of English between them – won five grand slam titles and was ranked the highest earner in women’s sport for 11 years in a row. But it is her icy demeanour and failure to build on an early victory over Serena Williams that grab the imagination as much as those fine achievements.

Sharapova, who beat Williams to when just 17, then lost 20 of their following 21 matches, was never universally popular in the locker room. She cared little about courting popularity, but she had the professional respect of her rivals for her single-mindedness and fighting spirit. Petra Kvitova, who beat Sharapova to win Wimbledon in 2011, was one of her few rivals to give her warm praise on Wednesday, describing her as a, “big champion”.

The Czech, who was sidelined from tennis after a knife attack in her apartment in 2016 but has returned to the upper reaches of the game, : “I know how tough it is to come back and play. She has been injured a lot. Of course she wanted probably bigger success than … her body allowed her to have.” She added: “It was a pleasure to be with her on the tour, sharing the court with her. It was always great battles when we play together. So it’s been always nice to share the court with her and I do always have respect to her.”

More than most players on the tennis circuit, Sharapova divided opinion. There were many players who objected to her early return from a drugs ban in 2017, after she had . Sharapova, who protested her innocence, had her two-year ban cut to 15 months, but was never the same player in a comeback that stuttered from one disappointing setback to the next, on the court and off. Her last tournament win was in a low-ranked event in China three years ago.

Long-time problems with her serving shoulder recurred and, towards the end, she was losing to lesser players on a regular basis. There was a suspicion among some of her rivals and critics that she was playing merely for publicity to drive her many commr Kostas Manolas recognises they’re underdogs facing Lazio this weekend.Manolas admits Lazio are having an “extraordinary season”.“We’ll give everything we’ve got to pick up points. It’s a very complicated time for Napoli, but the only way out is tercial interests, although she claimed she played for the love of the game and the competition. That was certainly evident in her trademark screeching and her relentless pursuit of lost causes on court, mainly from the baseline and with a two-handed backhand that was among the best in tennis. She made the most of the weapons she had – including a powerful serve early in her career until injury struck on a regular basis – and was rarely found close to the net. Hers was a game of calculation rather than inspira the battle for exciting Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare.The youngster is rated among the best prospects emerging in French football.LOSC president Gerard Lopez is ready to sell land La Provence says a move to England is likely with United and Spution.

In her last match, a at the Australian Open in January, Sharapova was ranked 373 in the world, a long way from her five separate reigns as world No 1, the first of them in 2005. It was her third first-round exit from a major in a row.

However, five grand slam titles – encompassing all the four venues, on clay, grass and hardcourt – and career earnings of $38.7m tell a story of longevity and persistence, which Sharapova regarded as her greatest asset.

Her rivalry with the younger of the two Williams sister was fierce but doomed – and it defined Sharapova’s struggle. Their last encounter – in the first round of the 2019 US Open, when Sharapova needed pain killers to get on court and could win only two games – summed up the physical decline of the Russian.

“Behind closed doors, 30 minutes before taking the court, I had a procedure to numb my shoulder to get through the match,” , her chosen platform to confirm her retirement. “I’ve had multiple surgeries – once in 2008; another procedure last year – and s missing Champions League qualification is a frustrating blow.The Gunners missed their chance after being beaten by Chelsea in the Europa League final.Asked if it was painful to be in the Europa League again, Arsenal midfielder Xhaka said: “Yeah, of pent countless months in physical therapy. Just stepping on to the court that day felt like a final victory, when of course it should have been merely the first step toward victory. I share this not to garner pity, but to paint my new reality: My body had become a distraction.”

It always was. Sharapova regularly turned back questions about her looks as irrelevant, and protested that her many fashion shoots did not form the centrepiece of her career.

“Behind the photo shoots and the pretty tennis dresses, [the courts] exposed my imperfections – every wrinkle, every drop of sweat,” she wrote. “They tested my character, my will, my ability to channel my raw emotions into a place where they worked for me instead of against me. Between their lines, my vulnerabilities felt safe.”

Brandon Brooks says he had to leave Eagles’ loss to Seahawks due to anxiety

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Brandon Brooks said he had to leave the Philadelphia Eagles’ loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday due to anxiety.

The guard, who joined the Eagles from the Houston Texans in 2016, has been open about his struggles with anxiety in the past, and said he was not ashamed of his decision to leave the game.

“I’d like to address what happened yesterday,” . “I woke up, and did my typical routine of morning vomiting. It didn’t go away like it eal Madrid.The 18 year-old Japan international will join Real after the Copa America from FC Tokyo.Kubo had been with Barca since he was eleven years of age before he was forced to return to Japan after a FIFA crackdown on the recruitment of junior pnoid have confirmed coach Zinedine Zidane’s brother has passed away.Zidane left Los Blancos’ training camp on Friday to fly back to Spain and be with his family.In Montreal, the players and coaching staff all observed a minute’s silence before startingrmally does, but I figured it would calm down once I got to the stadium. It did, but I felt exhausted. The nausea came back, and I tried to battle through it and went out for the first drive. The nausea and vomiting came back until I left the field, and tried everything I could to get back for my teammates but just wasn’t able to do it.

“Make no mistake, I’m NOT ashamed or embarrassed by this nor what I go through daily. I’ve had this under control for a couple of years, and had a set back yesterday. The only thing I’m upset about is that when my team needed me, I wasn’t able to be out there with and for them. Lastly, I appreciate the support of my coaches, teammates and fans. It doesn’t go unnoticed.”

Brooks has missed five games during his career due to anxiety, and was given a formal diagnosis in 2016. Until Sunday, he had not missed time due to anxiety since the diagnosis. One of his fellow offensive lineman on the Eagles, Lane Johnson, also suffers from anxiety and the two have said they joke with each other about vomiting before games.

The Eagles’ head coach, Doug Perderson, said he fully supports Brooks. “This is not a football issue with Brandon; y came from behind to beat Real Madrid 2-1 at the Bernabeu in their Champions League last-16 first-leg clash.Isco had given the hosts the lead but Gabriel Jesus and a Kevin De Bruyne penalty, before Sergio Ramos’ late red card, ensured the Premier Lethis is a real-life issue that he has come out and publicly acknowledged and kind of shared his story a few years back,” Pederson told 94.1 WIP on Monday. “It’s something that he’s dealing with each and every day of his life. You never really know what triggers it. We’re here to support him. We love him. It is unfortunate that it happened, but it’s something that he deals with every single day. We’re just going to continue to support him.”

The 30-year-old is considered one of the best guards in football, and signed a four year, $56.5m contract extension in November. He won Super Bowl LII with the Eagles in February 2018.

Silver defends NBA employees’ right to free speech as China cancels broadcasts

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The NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, said the league is not apologizing for Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s since-deleted tweet showing support for anti-government protesters in , even after China’s state broadcaster canceled plans to show a pair of preseason games in that country later this week.

Silver, speaking on Tuesday at a news conference in Tokyo before a preseason game between the Rockets and the Toronto Raptors, went as far as to say that he and the league are “apologetic” that so many Chinese officials and fans were upset by Morey’s tweet but insisted that the executive has the right to freedom of expression. The NBA has also received criticism from US politicians. Senator Ted Cruz said the league by initially saying it was “regrettable” that Morey’s tweet had caused offence in China.

“Daryl Morey, as general manager of the Houston Rockets, enjoys that right [to free speech] as one of our employees,” Silver said. “What I also tried to suggest is that I understand there are consequences from his freedom of speech and we will have to live with those consequences.”

Those consequences are already becoming clear. The state-run China Central Television (CCTV) said it would not show the games between the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets, who will play former Liverpool midfielder was a free agent after his contract with Stoke City expired last month.He has signed a one-year deal with the Royals.Chief Executive Nigel Howe said: “A player with both Championship and Premier League experience, not to mon Thursday in Shanghai and Saturday in Shenzhen. is wildly popular in China, with the Lakers drawing particularly strong support due to the presence of superstar LeBron James

“We’re strongly dissatisfied and oppose Adam Silver’s claim to support Morey’s right to freedom of expression,” CCTV said in a statement. “We believe that any remarks that challenge national sovereignty and social stability are not within the scope of freedom of speech.” The broadcaster is also reviewing all its cooperation with the , according to the statement.

Chinese state media on Wednesday accused the NBA of endorsing violence with the Daily accusing Silver of “brazenly endorsing Morey’s secessionist-supporting tweet” and giving “a shot to the arms of the rioters of Hong Kong”.

The state-owned Global Times accused Silver of caving in to political pressure, saying the NBA was treating the Chinese market with disregard.

Silver will arrive in Shanghai on Wednesday and said he hoped to meet officials and some of the league’s business partners in an effort to find common ground. “I’m sympathetic to our interests [in China] and our partners that are upset,” Silver said. “I don’t think it’s inconsistent on one hand to be sympathetic to them and at the same time to signing another English player – 25-year-old winger Turgott,.The ex-West Ham youth scored 18 goals in 46 appearances for National League side Maidstone last season.Ostersunds have embarked on a policy of bringing young English talent to the far nostand by our principles.”

Silver said the NBA did not expect CCTV to cancel plans to show the Lakers-Nets games. “But if those are the consequences of us adhering to our values, I still feel it’s very, very important to adhere to those values,” Silver said.

The rift between China and the NBA started late last week when Morey tweeted a now-deleted image that read: “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong,” in reference to months of pro-democracy demonstrations in the Chinese territory that has been mired in violence between protesters and law enforcement.

Efforts were quickly made to defuse the impact. Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta said Morey does not speak for the Rockets, and Morey returned to Twitter on Monday in an effort to clarify his original post. NBA streaming partner Tencent which has a $1.5bn contract with the league over the next five seasons said it would not show Rockets games and a sports website in China said it was no longer covering the team.

Further complicating the matter is the fact that China’s best-known basketball player is Hall of Famer Yao Ming, who spent his NBA career with the Rockets. Yao is now the president of the Chinese Basketball Association, which has said aj is ready to leave Napoli in January.”There had been discussions in the summer with Roma, then we stopped when the season began, but we still like them as a destination,” agent Mario Giuffredi told Radio Marte.“I think it is Napoli’s interests toit is suspending its relationship with the Rockets in response to Morey’s tweet. The CBA also canceled plans to have the G League affiliates from Houston and Dallas play preseason games in China later this month. “I’m hoping that together Yao Ming and I can find an accommodation,” Silver said. “But he is extremely hot at the moment, and I understand it.”

The NBA’s reaction to Chinese displeasure is jarring to some, given the fact that the league for encouraging its players to express their views on social issues they believe are important, such as police shootings of African Americans.

Gardner Minshew and Jaguars’ defense stand tall in win over Tennessee Titans

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Minshew Mania is gaining momentum.

Gardner Minshew threw two touchdown passes and should have had a third, Calais Campbell spearheaded another defensive gem and the handled the Tennessee Titans 20-7 in sloppy conditions Thursday night.

Jacksonville (1-2) ended a four-game losing streak in the AFC Sis attracting big foreign interest.Gibson has found himself sidelined this season as he struggles to break into manager Sean Dyche’s first team plans.Sky Sports says German clubs Eintracht Frankfurt and Cologne are interested in signing Burnley defenouth series and avoided the franchise’s second 0-3 start in four years.

“This felt good,” defensive tackle Abry Jones said. “We needed this.”

With all eyes on star cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who may have played his final game for Jacksonville, Minshew and a second stellar defensive outing in five days captured the spotlight.

A sixth-round draft pick starting his second consecutive game in place of injured Nick Foles (broken collarbone), Minshew completed 20 of 30 passes for 204 yards. He found James O’Shaughnessy wide open for a seven-yard score, which came one play after Adoree’ Jackson’s muffed punt. Minshew was more precise with a 22-yard touchdown pass to DJ Chark, who was blanketed by Malcolm Butler.

Fans chanted Minshew’s name each time the offense took the field, and fans everywhere adorned fake mustaches and bandanas to mimic his signature look.

Marcus Mariota got no style points in this one. Jacksonville sacked Mariota a whopping nine uth America’s elite international football competition.The ng Norwich City striker Emiliano Buendia.Sky Sports says the 22-year-old Norwich City forward has attracted the attention of Villa boss Dean Smith ahead of the January transfer window.Argentine Buendia has started all 12 of Norwich’s matches in the Ptournament will be staged between June 12 and July 12 next year, jointly hosted by Colombia and Argentina. FFA chairman Chris Nikou, chief executive David Gallop and Mark Falvo, the organisattimes, including three by Campbell.

“You seen what the D-line did,” Ramsey said, declining to talk about his potential trade. “Today was their day. Everybody got a piece of it. I was excited to see those guys have a huge game.”

The Jaguars played well enough to win at Houston last week, especially on the defensive side, but came up inches short on a two-point conversion and lost 13-12.

Ramsey then gut-punched a franchise already reeling from the loss of Foles by requesting a trade hours after the loss to the Texans. He asked to get out following his sideline confrontation with coach Doug Marrone.

Ramsey later insisted he didn’t want to be a distraction. He wasn’t, at least not on the field.

The Jaguars enjoyed a 14-point lead in the first quarter for the first time since Week 2 of last season against New England and just the third time in the last five seasons.

Ramsey hugged several teammates after the game, but didn’t say any goodbyes in the locker room.

“He didn’t have to say anything,” Jones said. “He may be going to another team, but no one’s going to be hurt by that. It’s a business decision.”

The Titans (1-2) struggled to play from behind.

With his team trailing 14-0 early in the third, coach Mike Vrabel passed on a short field goal and went for it on fourth-and-6 at the 11. Campbell abused backup guard Jamil Douglas, and Mariota had no time to get rid of the ball.

“That’s not how you want to play that football team, from behind,” Vrabel said. “We talked about that. This football team, you don’t want to play from behind. They can really rush the passer.”

Tennessee finally got on the scoreboard with Derrick Henry’s one-yard plunge early in the fourth. Henry finished with 44 yards on 17 carries, a far cry from his last game against Jacksonville. Henry ran for a franchise-record 238 yards and four touchdowns, including the second 99-yard run in history (Tony Dorsett, 1983), in December.

Jacksonville wasn’t going to let it happen again, stacking the box and doing a much better job tackling the 247lb back.

Even Ramsey got in a couple of shots on the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner.

NBA finals: Klay Thompson a game-time decision as injuries mount for Warriors

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The Golden State Warriors will take the floor once more without two-time reigning NBA finals MVP Kevin Durant, counting on their depth and home court to carry them as they .

Durant is out for Game 3 of the finals on Wednesday night, still not ready to return for the defending champions as he works back from a calf-strain suffered during the Western Conference semi-finals. Durant didn’t practice with the Warriors on TuEmerick Aubameyang’s ban reduced.The Sun says the Gunners are looking to have Aubameyang’s three-match ban reduced after he was sent off for a dangerous challenge on Max Meyer in their Premier League clash with Crystal Palace.Having originally been sesday, and he has yet to get on the court for a structured session since sustaining the injury in early May.

Meanwhile, another of the team’s All-Stars, Klay Thompson, was on court for practice on Tuesday two days after he was forced out of Game 2 with a hamstring strain. He is listed as questionable for Game 3. “The pain level [on Tuesday] wasn’t too crazy at all. It will be a game-time decision. But for me personally, it would be hard to see me not playing. Hopefully, I’ll feel much better tomorrow and be a go for tipoff,” Thompson said.

Along with Durant, Golden State are also down back-up big man Kevon Looney. He suffered an injury to his collarbone areaalways value his loan spell with today’s opponents Brighton.When Tomori switched to Brighton midway through 2016/17 he had one senior Chelsea appearance to his name, which came as a substitute against Leicester on t taken fresh aim at vice-chairman Ed Woodward.Scholes insists Woodward is not a “football man” – and pleaded for former team-mate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to be given help at Old Trafford.He said: “We know behind the scenes there is help needed, especialhe final day of the previous campai and will miss the remainder of the finals. “He’s had such a great season, such a great postseason run,” coach Steve Kerr said. “Fortunately it won’t affect his future, but it’s a big loss for us.”

The Warriors’ opponents, the , have fewer injury concerns although their star player, Kawhi Leonard, has occasionally limped during the series. On Tuesday, he said he was unconcerned. “A hundred percent,” Leonard said of his health. “I’m on the floor. There are no excuses. Everybody knows everyone’s banged up, bruised up at this moment.” Leonard is averaging 30.9 points this postseason.

The best-of seven series is tied at 1-1 going into Game 3.

Canelo Álvarez edges Gennady Golovkin by majority decision in epic sequel

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The Mexican superstar Saul ‘Canelo’ Álvarez scored the signature win of his career in Saturday night’s long-awaited rematch with , capturing the WBC and WBA middleweight titles by a majority decision in a classic encounter that all but guarantees a third installment in May.

Two of the finest pure fighters of their generation treated a sellout crowd of 21,965 at the T-Mobile Arena to a contest of extreme physical and psychological intensity that managed even to surpass their , which ended in a widely derided split draw. This one was just as close and not entirely beyond dispute, merely flecked by controversy rather than defined by it. Ringside judges Dave Moretti and Steve Weisfeld scored it 115-113 to Álvarez, while Glenn Feldman had it 114-114. (The Guardian 116-112 to Golovkin.)

Álvarez (50-1-2, 34 KOs), the popular red-haired puncher from Guadalajara, now adds Golovkin’s belts at 160lbs to the lineal middleweight title he earned .

“I showed my victory with facts,” the 29-year-old Álvarez said afterward through an interpreter. “He was the one who was backing up. I feel satisfied because I gave a great fight. It was a clear victory.”

For Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs), the razor-thin verdict marked his first defeat in 40 professional fights, the first at any level since the 2005 amateur world championships, and ended his division-record streak of 20 consecutive middleweight title defenses on level terms with Bernard Hopkins, who incidentally is a minor stakeholder in Golden Boy Promotions, which promotes Álvarez. Afterward the 36-year-old from Kazakhstan, the sport’s longest tenured active champion no more, walked solemnly to the dressing room without remaining in the ring for the customary in-ring interview.

Their first clash, 364 days ago in the same building, had seen Golovkin spend the night methodically cutting off the ring with deft footwork while Álvarez fought off the ropes with varying results. But from Saturday night’s first bell the action took on a radically different geometry, playing out almost exclusively in the center of the ring with neith Javier Zanetti says the board are excited by their prospects under new coach Antonio Conte.The Argentine says it’s the beginning of a new era.Zanetti said, “He is a coach who knows Italian football well and has a lot of experience. “He is a winning er fighter’s back touching the edge even once until the middle rounds. Golovkin didn’t wait long to establish the jab as his weapon of choice, doubling and tripling it up early while refraining from the heavy-handed combinations that have been his calling card in a career which, until Saturday, saw him finish 34 of 39 fights inside the distance.

A highly tactical opening, with neither man backing down and so little to separate them, began to heat up in the second and third as the fighters started to open up and trade harder shots. Golovkin continued to score at will with the jab, but Álvarez’s varied attack appeared to move the Kazakh backward and keep him off balance while the Mexican’s educated combination punching laid bare the difference in hand speed.

Álvarez’s dedicated body work, which would come to yield dividends in the later rounds, was effective in stemming Golovkin’s offensive, yet the longtime middleweight champion absorbed his opponent’s bestJuventus coach Maurizio Sarri says Andrea Barzagli is proving crucial in the progress of Matthijs de Ligt.Having retired last season, Barzagli was added to Sarri’s coaching staff this term.He revealed: “Clearly, Barzagli is a precious resource for shots with little apparent effect. Both men were countering exquisitely in a series of skirmishes that took on the feel of bullet chess: this was expert-level work from two top operators.

A thudding uppercut by Golovkin rocked Álvarez early in the fourth, prompting a roar from the crowd. He followed it with three straight jabs, then made his opponent pay with a compact left followed by a right square in the stomach. Yet right when it seemed Golovkin was taking over, his work rate began to slow and Álvarez was right there to take advantage.

By the sixth and seventh Canelo was commanding the pace and geography of the two-way action even as Golovkin’s jab continued to score, negotiating inside with hooks to the body and combinations upstairs. They traded hellfire in the eighth, showing incredible punch resistance. But it was Golovkin who betrayed signs of fatigue near the end of the frame, breathing with his mouth open and stepping away from the exchanges with atypical consent. Álvarez moving backward landed a left hook flush on Golovkin’s jaw, followed by three more shots that whipped the partisan Mexican Independence Day audience into a frenzy. When the bell rang to signal the end of the eighth, Canelo appeared in command.

By then a cut opened had above Álvarez’s eye and he appeared to flag early in the ninth, but Golovkin soldiered through his exhaustion. Back and forth it went into the 10th, when Golovkin moved Canelo backward with a four-punch combination then briefly stunned his opponent with a right hand. Golovkin was landing the cleaner punches and by the 11th was on the clear attack, evoking the seek-and-destroy modus operundi that had become his signature, but Álvarez held his ground and refused to back down, never allowing the older champion to land without proper recompense.

Both fighters entered the final round with the belief the outcome was in doubt – correctly, as Canelo led by a slight 105-104 margin on all three cards – but it was Golovkin who demonstrated the stronger finishing kick, striking with a left hook and an uppercut to open the frame and pouring on the punishment as the crowd roared chants of “Tri-ple G! Tri-ple G!”, for the first time on the niea’s transfer ban was overturned on appeal on Friday.And the Chelsea-transfer-news-Man-Utd-Liverpool-Jadon-Sancho-January-Borussia-Dortmund”>Daily Express says Chelsea have put Sancho at the top of their January shopping list after their transfer banght not shouted down by the Canelo faithful. When the bell sounded the fighters embraced, then returned to their corners to await the official scores.

(If there was a controversy, it’s that Moretti and Weisfeld found a way to award the outcome-swinging 12th, as clear as Golovkin round as there was, to Álvarez.)

“I’m not going to say who won tonight, because the victory belongs to Canelo according to the judges,” Golovkin said after receiving eight stitches for a 5cm cut along his right eye. “I thought it was a very good fight for the fans, and very exciting. I thought I fought better than he did.”

Golovkin threw and landed with greater frequency on the night, connecting with 234 of 879 punches (26.6%), compared to 202 of 622 for Álvarez (32.5%). But the resolve and adaptability of the younger, primer Álvarez was enough to carry the day, if only by the slimmest of margins.

“I can’t complain, that’s what we have the judges for,” Abel Sanchez, Golovkin’s trainer, said. “We had a great fight, the one we expected the first time around. I had it close going into the 12th round. We had good judges who saw it from different angles. I can’t complain about the decision, but it’s close enough to warrant a third fight. Canelo fought a great fight.”

When asked if he would consider a third meeting, Golovkin, now twice denied what could or should have been the defining moment of a prolific career spent largely outside of the mainstream spotlight, was to the point.

“Under the right conditions, yes,” he said.

Álvarez didn’t back down from a third fight, where he would almost surely enter the favorite after playing the underdog role in the first two.

“That was a great fight, but in the end, it was a victory for Mexico,” Alvarez said. “And again, it was an opportunity, and I want to shout out to my opponent, the best in the sport of boxing. I am a great fighter, and I showed it tonight.

“If the people want another round, I’ll do it again.”

Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani drawing early Babe Ruth comparisons

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Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani continued to display Babe Ruth-like brilliance in the early stages of his Major League Baseball career as he flirted with a perfect game while pitching for six-plus innings in a victory on Sunday.

The 23-year-old rookie allowed just one hit and struck out 12 over seven scoreless innings as he improved to 2-0 as a pitcher in his team’s 6-1 win over the Oakland Athletics.

The performance only increased the buzz that Ohtani, who hit home runs in three consecutive games last week, could become the highest-profile player since Hall of Famer Ruth to succeed on both the mound and at the plate.

Ruth managed to dominate both disciplines for the Boston Red Sox in 1918 and 1919 before his fateful move on to the New York Yankees, where he became the Sultan of Swat and seldom pitched.

“I tThe Hornets are struggling this season, with Quique Sanchez Flores struggling to improve on the impact of recently sacked Javi Gracia.But Hoddle believes that Watford have enough quality to string the run of wins needed to get themselves clear of trohink he’s mature beyond his years,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia told reporters when asked about the right-handed pitcher before Sunday’s game.

“He’s been challenged at a young age, so he’s seasoned to what a lot of players have to get acclimated to. He’s been playing at a very high level of baseball from a very young age.

“Shohei, he’s very confident, he works very, very hard at what he needs to do, and there’s a lot on his plate. But he has the talent to do it.”

Ohtani showed plenty of that talent when he retired the first 19 batters he faced, throwing a perfect game until Marcus Semien lined a fastball into left field for a single with one out in the seventh.

“Probably my best outing ever was when I was in elementary school,” Ohtani, who shone for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in before joining the Angels in December, said through an interpreter.

He pumped his fist as he walked off the field after striking out the last batter he faced with two ry has turned his focused towards Euro2020.The Villa midfielder has struggled so far this season, having watched peers Mason Mount and James Maddison selected ahead of him for the recent England squad.Asked if an England breakthrough is on his mind, runners on in the seventh inning, receiving a standing ovation from the 44,742 in attendance as he departed.

“I wanted to keep a clean zero on the board,” Ohtani said of his last out. “One hit would have been two runs – that’s a huge difference. I wanted that strikeout and I got it.”

Nicknamed the Babe Ruth of Japan because of his dual threat, Ohtani became the first Major League player with two wins and three home runs in his team’s first 10 games since Jim Shaw for the Washington Senators in 1919, according to mlb.com.

He also joined Ruth (1916) and Ken Brett (1973) as the only players in Major League history with a double-digit strikeout game and a home run in three consecutive contests.

Ohtani homered in his first ever at-bat at Angels stadium last week and has continued to thrill fans with a .389 batting average at the plate, where he has three homers and seven RBIs.

On the mound, which is where the Angels plan to use him primari gone cold on a move for Velez Sarsfield prospect Thiago Almada.Ole says City have had a €12m bid rejected, and are therefore giving up on negotiations.The report quotes an unnamed City official as saying: “A very good offer for a player who will bly, Ohtani has 18 strikeouts in two games, helping to push Los Angeles to an impressive 7-3 start.

Alabama and Georgia prevail to set up all-SEC national championship game

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Nick Saban is back in his comfort zone. Let others run up the points. He’ll take a defensive slugfest every time. Especially when it gives Alabama another shot at a national title.

In a gametr Cech insists he is undecided on his future.The 37-year-old is expected to retire after Wednesday’s Europa League final loss to Chelsea, who have reportedly lined up the Czech to take over as sporting director next season.But Cech says he remains e where every yard was a struggle, the Crimson Tide defenders took matters into their own hands. They accounted for a pair of touchdowns just 13 seconds apart in the third quarter to turn an offensive slog into a 24-6 rout of defending national champion Clemson in the Sugar Bowl semi-final game Monday night.

“This game was about our identity as a team,” Saban said. “I don’t think anybody would doubt our relentless attitude out there. We had a warrior-like mentality.”

He was clearly pleased.

With Deshaun Watson off to the NFL, top-ranked Clemson (12-2) simply had no answer for the Tide’s latest group of defensive standouts, setting up an all-Southeastern Conference showdown for the national title – with Saban matched against his former defensive coordinator, Georgia coach Kirby Smart. “I’m proud of the job he’s done,” Saban said. “I’m sure it will be a great football game.”

only 10-6 after a turnover to start the second half handed Clemson a field goal, the fourth-ranked Tide (12-1) quickly snuffed out any thoughts of a repeat title for the Tigers.

It began with 308lb defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne picking off a wobbly pass after besieged Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant was hit as he threw. Payne rumbled 21 yards on the return, shedding one would-be tackler with a deft open-field move and drawing a 15-yard personal foul penalty when he was finally dragged down with a horse collar tackle.

After Alabama drove to a first down at the Clemson 1, Payne re-entered the game – presumably to add another big body for blocking purposes. Instead, he slipped open near the right pylon on a play fake and hauled in a touchdown pass, even managing to get both feet down before the celebration commenced.

“I’ve got gold hands,” quipped Payne, who was picked as the game’s defensive MVP.

Shell-shocked by that turn of events, Clemson was thoroughly demoralized after its next offensive play. Bryant’s pass deflected off the hands of Deon Cain and was intercepted by linebacker Mack Wilson, who returned it 18 yards for another TD. They could’ve called it right then.

“Just incredibly disappointed in our performance,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “But congratultract in 2020, is wanted by Real Madrid.Speaking ahead of Belgium’s European Qualifier against Scotland, Vertonghen told Sky Sports News: “Obviously when the transfer window starts there are a lot rumours, but there were rumours last year and everyonations to Alabama. They were the better team today. No doubt about it.”

The Tide, which began the season in Atlanta beating Florida State, will return to Mercedes-Benz Stadium next Monday to face No3 Georgia and give Saban a shot at his sixth title, which would match Bear Bryant.

Clemson was held to 188 yards – 260 yards below its season average – and never reached the end zone. Bryant was sacked five times and the Tigers were held to 64 yards on the ground.

Alabama played it tough right to the end, denying Clemson on a fourth-down pass into the end zone with just over a minute remaining. Clearly, the Tide was still ticked off about the way last season ended, to hand Clemson the national title.

“This,” Saban said, “was a little bit personal for us.”

No3 Georgia 54, No2 Oklahoma 48 (2 OT)

After ending the first overtime Rose Bowl, one of the greatest Granddaddies of Them All, Sony Michel was swarmed by Georgia teammates as he broke down in tears. The senior tailback had gone from possible goat to all-time hero for Georgia, sending the Bulldogs to the national championship game with one last burst in a game full of them.

Michel raced 27 yards for a touchdown in the second overtime to give No3 Georgia a 54-48 victory against No2 Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff semifinal.

Michel, who had a fumble in the fourth quarter returned for a go-ahead Oklahoma touchdown, ran for 181 yards and three scores for the Bulldogs (13-1), but none bigger than the last one.

“I made plays. I gave up plays. My team just had faith in me,” said Michel, who did all that damage on just 11 carries and got a hug from former Bulldogs great tailback Garrison Hearst after scoring the winning TD. “That’s what this team is all about. They showed true character today.”

In the final game of his great career, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns, and caught a touchdown pass that gave the Sooners a 17-point lead with six seconds left in the first half. But the Heisman Trophy winner could not get the Sooners (12-2) into the end zone in the first overtime when a touchdown would have ended the game.

“It’s tough to describe right now,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said. “It’s a hell of a college football game. You know, an epic Rose Bowl game.”

The 104th Rose Bowl was also the highest-scoring, surpassing last year’s 5ted on AC Milan and Inter plans to build a new stadium.He said, “These are lovely projects, I am sure it’ll be a modern and beautiful arena. “We are fond of San Siro because we won everything there, every spectator gets a good view and I hope that 2-49 USC victory against Penn State. There was a lot more on the line in this one, the first CFP game to go to overtime as well.

After an offside penalty on Georgia gave Oklahoma a first down on third-and-five in the second OT possession, the Sooners stalled again and Austin Seibert came out for a 27-yard field goal. Leaping through the line, Lorenzo Carter got his outstretched hand on the kick and the ball fluttered down short of the uprights.

Any score would have ended it for the Bulldogs, and on the second play Michel slipped one tackle and was home free. The Bulldogs sprinted off the sideline and toward the corner of the end zone to mob Michel. Confetti rained down. Meanwhile, Mayfield stood motionless on the sideline for several seconds, bent over with his hands on his knees and head down.

“I can’t believe it’s over. It’s been a wild ride,” said Mayfield with a hoarse voice before he started to cry.

Michel and his roommate and running mate Nick Chubb were awesome for Georgia. Chubb ran for 145 yards and two touchdowns, including a 2-yarder on a direct snap with 55 seconds left in regulation to tie it. The Sooners had taken a 45-38 lead when Steven Parker returned Michel’s fumble for a TD with 6:52 left in the fourth.

“I told him that he had to keep running and trying to hit the corner,” Chubb said. “We had a long game and after the fumble, we went down and he made up for it with that run to win the game.”

Both teams settled for field goals in the first overtime. First, Georgia’s Rodrigo Blankenship hit from 38 to make it 48-45.

Then it was Mayfield’s turn. A touchdown would have sent the Sooners to Atlanta, but on a third-and-2 from the 17 Georgia All-America linebacker Roquan Smith nailed Jordan Smallwood a yard short of the first down.

Seibert kicked a 33-yarder and the Bulldogs and Sooners played on, but not for much longer.

Life as a Muslim-American Olympic champion: ‘Travel has become a worry’

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When she slowed to a stop in the Olympic stadium on that warm night in Rio, Dalilah Muhammad knew life would never quite be the same.

The New Yorker had just , catapulting herself into a limelight she never anticipated, offering her a platform she never expected. In the six months since, she has kept her counsel on the issues dividing her country, but now she feels it’s time to make her voice heard.

“It’s insane what’s going on and what America is becoming,” Muhammad told the Guardian in New York this weekend, where she opened her season with a 500m race at the . “It’s frightening and a little scary.”

, where she grew up in what she describes as a liberal Muslim household, and where her father, Askia, is an imam who leads prayers at a local mosque. When Donald Trump was inaugurated as US president last month and swiftly issued an executive order , Muhammad was watching on from her training base in Los Angeles.

Her reaction?

“It’s kind of crazy,” she says. “It’s just an unfortunate situation.”

While the background of her US Olympic team-mate and fellow Muslim, Ibtihaj Muhammad, , Dalilah Muhammad’s faith passed largely under the radar despite her winning gold, in part, she believes, because of her decision not to wear a hijab.

“A lot of people said it to me: ‘you’re not the stereotypical Muslim’, but there are a lot of people who are Muslim and we express our religion in different ways,” says Muhammad, who admits that her parents have been concerned with events in the US in recent months.

“I definitely think it’s scary for my mother, more for me and having a daughter who is now so much in the public eye,” says Muhammad. “My father is more with it, and he loves it. He wants the world to see Muslims in a different light. They’re different but we all have the same beliefs.”

On Thursday last a court ruling blocked Trump’s travel ban, though the US president has since said he is confident he would win a court battle and that he as early as this week.

Though Muhammad is a US citizen, she admits there are lingering concerns about travelling abroad to race on the track and field circuit. Later this week she will fly to the UK, where she will compete over 400m.

“My Nike reps were a little nervous about me travelling just because of my name,” she says. “It makes me a little bit worried, given I travel so much. To have the name Muhammad attached to me makes it a little scary.”

At the Millrose Games on Saturday night, other Muslim athletes echoed Muhammad’s concerns about the travel ban, such as Canada’s Mohammed Ahmed, who was born in Somalia who lives and trains in Portland, Oregon.

“Because of my place of birth and my name, I’m always going to get stopped at airports and get extra screening,” he said. “I’ve had to deal with that my whole life. I’ve spent a lot of hours at airports, missed flights. When I was younger it annoyed me a bit, because I was like: what’s wrong with me? As I’ve got to experience that more, I’ve come to realise that they’re doing it for a reason, as bigoted as it might seem.”

Sifan Hassan, a Muslim athlete from the Netherlands, admitted that she had similar concerns after relocating to Portland in recent months to train under famed coach Alberto Salazar. “I feel so bad,” said Hassan, who fled Ethiopis time with Jurgen Klopp at Borussia Dortmund.This season, Immobile has scored 26 goals and is leading the race for European Golden Boot.But his time with Liverpool boss Klopp at BVB was anything but successful and he conceded: “Our roads were crossea as a refugee at the age of 16. “It’s very painful. In the Netherlands it’s much better. What Trump is planning to do to Muslims, it’s not good. It’s just going to cause more problems.”

Hassan, who took victory in the prestigi Bergwijn.The new Tottenham signing scored on debut in victory over Manchester City on Sunday.Van Hanegem told AD: “I heard that at PSV they thought he was five kilos overweight after the winter break. I thought it was not nice to say that here andous Wanamaker mile on Saturday night in 4:19.89, the fourth fastest indoor time in history, said she has been encouraged by the response of the American people to Trump’s travel ban. “The people are so fantastic here,” she said. “But I just wish [Trump] would look at everybody like himself.”

And as for Muhammad, what words would she offer to her Real Madrid goalkeeper Santiago Canizares says no-one wanted Keylor Navas to leave.Keylor was sold by Real to PSG on transfer deadline day on Monday.Canizares told L’Equipe: “This season, the club has relied on (Thibaut) Courtois and did not allow Kepresident, if given the chance? “Oh man,” she says, before pausing for thought. “I guess I would say to him we’re all the same, no matter what our beliefs.”

Rory McIlroy leads WGC event in Mexico at halfway after round of 65

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The prospect of being restored as the top ranked golfer in the world by Monday morning is suddenly a live one.

A stunning performance from the Northern Irishman in recording 65 on the outskirts of Mexico City on Friday assured him of a two-stroke lead at the first WGC event of 2017. This, indeed, was done with McIlroy still feeling the effects of the food poisoning which had first surfaced in the early hours of Thursday morning.

For the first time on this side of the Atlantic since the 2014 US PGA Championship, which McIlroy was to win at Valhalla, the 27-year-old is the man to catch after 36 holes.

Stomach upset aside, he is also producing this form in what marks his first start in seven weeks because of injury. He looks wonderfully at ease with all around him, just as there is no indication whatever of lingering rib pain.

This was vintage McIlroy in spells. After he reached the turn in 31, a surprise error came at the 12th when he could not get up-and-down from a greenside bunker. A stunning response ensued. McIlroy made a two at the par-three next before holing his 152-yard approach shot at the 14th for an eagle.

After producing a birdie at the 15th, McIlroy was three clear, a status reduced only because of missed putts from inside 4ft on the last two holes.

Ross Fisher, and Justin Thomas are those closest to McIlroy’s nine-under aggregate. Fisher held the lead outright at one stage on day two but stumbled just as McIlroy pressed on his accelerator. Having played a five-hole stretch in three under par around the turn, Fisher was one over for his closing eight.

A distinctly European flavour to the leaderboard is enhanced by Tyrrell Hatton, who is five under par and alongside Thomas Pieters. Andy Sullivan is a shot better off while Martin Kaymer, Matt Fitzpatrick, Joost Luiten andinal against Paraguay due to illness.The Everton forward has caught a case of the mumps.Selecao boss Tite has confirmed Napoli’s Allan will start in his place.”Confirming Allan before the game is to give him confidence,” Tite told his pre-match news Lee Westwood are in strong positions for the weekend.

The theme of dodgy stomachs extended to caddies, with Mickelson’s long-time bag man, Jim “Bones” Mackay, lasting only four holes before succumbing to serious discomfort. Mickelson’s younger brother, Tim, assumed caddie duties from thereon and did a fine job; the five-times major champion posted a 68 to move to seven under par.

“I was having breakfast and Phil called and said just be around if something happens,” Tim Mickelson said.

“It was fun. It was the first time we were able to do that and it was fun. Trust me, I don’t want Bones’ job, though. I have a whole new respect for those guys. Every hole seems uphill.”

Mickelson Sr has aspirations of what would be a second World Championship success. “Bones is irreplaceable,” he said. “He is one of the best in the business. But he’s hurting, he just hasn’t been feeling well.

“On the positive side, I had a lot of fun with my brother. He’s so fun to be around and he did a great job today.”

Sullivan’s day was kick-started by holing from the 9th fairway for an eagle. The Englishman’s 65 moved him to six under par. “I’ve been hitting the ball well all year, just not been putting that great,” said the European Ryder Cup player. “To see a few putts dropping in today, especially on the sloped greens as they are, it gives me a lot of confidence going forward.

“I think the guy that keeps it under the hole the most and obviously hits it quite close is going to be the guy that wins this week. A lot of times on the first day we yenoord coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst has announced Robin van Persie will play his final game this weekend.Van Persie will play the final match of his career on Sunday when Feyenoord host ADO Den Haag in the Eredivisie.The 35-year-old striker announhit it sort of pin high and thought we hit a good shot inon.The Brazil striker proved the matchwinner at Tottenham on Saturday.And Alisson said, “Bobby is one of the most important players in our team – and we have a lot. “I think everybody is important but Bobby not only scores when we need him, he make and we’d actually got six or seven feet of swing on a putt and you’re just not holing many of them.”

Is Kawhi Leonard the NBA’s most valuable player?

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For most of the season, Kawhi Leonard was having one of the quietest MVP campaigns in recent memory. That changed on Monday night when Leonard scored 39 points as the fought back from a 16-point deficit to beat the Houston Rockets.

In the game’s final 30 seconds, he single-handedly secured the 112-110 win with a soon-to-be where he put the Spurs ahead with a three-pointer and then raced to the other end of the floor to block James Harden’s potential game-tying lay-up. The win helped the second-placed Spurs keep pace with the Golden State Warriors, while igniting a long overdue discussion about Leonard’s place in an incredibly competitive MVP race.

Leonard’s time in the spotlight was short-lived. The very next night, Russell Westbrook on the Portland Trail Blazers. He also accounted for all nine of the assists made by the Thunder’s starters in what ended up being a 126-121 home loss.

It’s rare to see two of the best players in the league put up their best individual games of the season on back-to-back nights, but it’s also not often that we have a MVP race as tightly contested as this one. Right now, at least four players have a genuine shot at the honor and their chances fluctuate on a weekly, sometimes even daily, basis. Here’s our unscientific snapshot of how the race is shapinangers have signed Brighton striker Jan Mlakar on a season-long loan deal.The 20-year-old joined the Premier League side from NK Maribor in January, but was loaned straight back to the Slovenian outfit.Mlakar scored 13 goals in 26 league appearances g up so far, but keep in mind that these names could be in a completely different order by the end of the week.

1) Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs

Let’s start with the offensive numbers. Leonard currently averages 26.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists. He is the biggest reason why San Antonio have already clinched a playoff spot, something reflected in his usage rate, which measures how many plays a player uses while he’s on the floor. His , the highest in his career, although he hasn’t experienced a corresponding dip in efficiency.

That’s only part of the story. The most remarkable thing about Leonard is that he’s putting up these numbers as the reigning defensive player of the year. What made Monday’s performance so memorable was that he carried the team on his back at the same time he was guarding Harden, one of the most difficult players in the league to defend. It was as complete of a performance as you’re likely to see.

When Tim Duncan retired in the offseason, Leonard became the face of the Spurs. It’s a monumental task to replace Duncan, perhaps the greatest player of his generation, but it clearly hasn’t phased the unflappable Leonard. If anything, it compelled him to raise his game on both ends of the floor. If he doesn’t end the season as the best player in the league, he still should be considered the most well-rounded one.

2) James Harden, Houston Rockets

This has been a rough, rough season for those of us who have spent the last few years rooting against the polarizing Harden, who has answered his critics and then some this season. Harden’s a better scorer than Leonard – his 29 points per game places him just behind Westbrook and the Boston Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas – but that production doesn’t come at the expense of his team-mates. Harden is with 11.3 per game. If the Rockets are looking more and more like a team with a legitimate shot at making the NBA finals, much of that is thanks to Harden.

In the past, the knock on Harden’s game has mostly revolved around his defense, but it’s clear just from the eye test that he’s taken huge strides this season on that end. The numbers back this up as well. For instance, Fox Sports had Harden ranked 125th overall when it came to his defensive rating. This season? He’s , moving all the way up to 53th place. He’s never going to compete with Leonard for DPOY honors, but he’s not the liability he once was.

3) Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

Yes, yes, I hear you: could a player averaging a triple-double only be the league’s third most valuable player? Yes, what Westbrook is doing this season is incredibly impressive, historical even. Right now he averages 32.1 points, 10.5 rebounds and 10 assists per game, he’s literally doing it all.

That’s the problem, though: he’s doing it all because he can’t rely on anybody else on his team doing all that much. Westbrook currently has an eye-popping usage rate of 42.6%. In comparison, Harden, who is also tasked with carrying his team for long stretches, has one hovering around the 34% mark. Westbrook’s racking up video-game minutes, but there’s some inflation going on here: he has far more opportunities.

Also, while this is more of an aesthetic problem than a genuine criticism of his game, it doesn’t help his case that he has a knack of putting up his gaudiest individual performances in losses.

4) LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

“LeBron James: still good at basketball” continues to be the biggest “dog bites man” story in the NBA. We simply expect excellence from him on a yearly basis. All he’s doing is averaging 26.0 points per game, 8.2 reboun the elite of football.Milan are again facing missing out on Champions League qualification this season.Baresi told Gazzetta dello Sport: “If (Nils) Liedholm were here, I think he’d say we needed to be patient, because he was a very calm person, evds and 8.8 assists while his team once again has settled on top of the Eastern Conference standings. While it’s hard to rank him above Leonard, Harden or Westbrook at the moment, last year’s finals should have taught us to the most important player in the sport.

Bubbling under

James is clearly the best and most important player in the East, that’s clear, but it’s hard to single out who would be the second most important player. If the Washington Wizards continue to win, John Wall could rightfully emerge as a dark horse. Isaiah Thomas garnered some MVP talk back when he was turning every four quarter into his own one man act, but he gives back a few too many points on defense.

Meanwhile in the Western Conference, the best team in the league, the Golden State Warriors, don’t really have a MVP candidate on their team. Kevin Durant was in the mix, but he will miss of the regular season. Steph Curry has been struggling from behind the three-point line, which is a strange thing to type and an even more surreal thing to witness.

It’s odd especially when we remember that , Curry had all but wrapped up his MVP campaign. This season, however, the honor will probably be up for grabs headed into the final week of the season. Which is great. As fun as it was to watch Curry dominate the gamer United midfielder Paul Pogba.Pogba remains a top target for Zidane, but Real need to sell players this month to fund a bid for the France international.Asked about the prospect of landing Pogba, Zizou replied: “If Pogba will come? I will repeat exa all last year, anything that adds drama and suspense to the often anticlimactic end of the regular season should be celebrated.

Alex Rodriguez to be released by Yankees, ending controversial career

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Alex Rodriguez, one of the most talented and controversial players in the history of baseball, will be released on Friday by the effectively ending his playing career.

He will take up an advisory role with the team after his final game on Friday night.

The New York Yankees slugger announced the news at a press conference on Sunday morning, bringing an end to in which he recorded 696Paul Pogba about the public criticism from his agent Mino Raiola.Raiola recently held an inteBesiktas are pushing for Burnley defender Ben Gibson.Sky Sports says Burnley have rejected a loan offer – with a view to buy – from Besiktas for Gibson. The former Middlesbrough captain struggled to force his way into Sean Dyche’s team last season after suffering two separate hernia injuries. Gibson arrived from Boro for £14m last summer.rview with Italian publication La Repubblica, in which he stated he would not send any of his other clients to United.He also insisted United are “a club out home runs (), 2,084 RBIs and a batting average of .295. He was a 14-time All Star, a three-time American League MVP and led the AL in home runs on five occasions. He won his sole World Series with the Yankees in 2009.

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

Rodriguez also reflected on the game he is stepping away from. “This is a tough day. I love this game and I love this team,” he said. “And today I’m saying goodbye.”

However, the 41-year-old has been in a slump this season, batting just .204 with nine home runs in 216 at-bats. The signs that Rodriguez’s career was coming to an end have been clear since the end of last month. He has started only once in 14 games since 22 July, and has homered just twice since 3 June. He is owed $21m this season and was due to make $21m in 2017, the final season of a $275m, 10-year deal with the Yankees. It is believed the Yankees are contractually obliged to pay Rodriguez his full salary for both 2016 and 2017.

Many considered Rodriguez’s deal, the biggest in baseball history when it was signed, an albatross round the neck of the Yankees who have been paying a huge salary to an ageing player.

“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,” said Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner 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. runs through his blood.

“He’s a tireless worker and an astute student of the game. Alex has already proven to be a er Tuesday’s Champions League win.Saul Niguez’s fourth minute goal was enough to hand Atleti the advantage in the last-16 tie.Liverpool were left fuming when Diego Simeone’s men celebrated wildly at the final whistle.And on Wednesday Atletico were kewilling 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.”

But while Rodriguez’s talents are undeniable his career will always be associated with performance enhancing drugs, something that will always raise questions about the legitimacy of his remarkable achievements. He for his part in , in which MLB players were accused of involvement with performance enhancing drugs allegedly supplied by the now defunct South Florida anti-aging clinic.

“No matter what happens, I’m at peace with myself,” Rodriguez said on Tuesday. “I think I can contribute. I think I can help out in the clubhouse but if not, I have two beautiful daughters waiting for me in Miami.”

Rodriguez returned last season, and enjoyed initial success before a late slump left him with a .250 average for the year with 33 home runs and 86 RBIs.

Why Real Salt Lake’s journalist ban damages the credibility of MLS

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Banning journalists seems to be something of a trend in American politics right now. Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, Politico, and the Washington Post at one point or another over the past year or so, with the Republican presidential nominee serving banning orders like Oprah hands out book prizes. It’s an ethos that has seemingly seeped into American soccer, too.

Last week, Real Salt Lake last week of Salt Lake Tribune columnist Gordon Monson for Saturday’s league fixture against the New England Revolution. In response, the Tribune decided to remove all its staff from the game, instead covering RSL’s goalless draw against the Revs off the television.

The fact that such a sanction was imposed against Monson, who has been critical of the club’s owner, Dell Loy Hansen, is troubling. “The man with the deep pockets wants to run the club the way he wants to run it, not the way it should be run, not the way it’s best run. His ego is behind the wheel,” Monson wrote in August 2015. RSL maintains that Monson’s relationship with the club’s former owner – Monson co-hosts a sports radio show with Spence Checketts, the son of former RSL owner David Checketts – means he is a less than objective observer.

But this isn’t the way to go about things. That those in charge at should feel the sting of such condemnation isn’t surprising, particularly excited to be taking charge for their Carabao Cup clash with Aston Villa.Critchley will take charge of a youthful Reds team at Villa Park, with Jürgen Klopp and the first-team squad in Qatar to participate in the FIFA Club World Cup this week.Critchwhen Monson has more than once criticised Hansen, but serving banning orders helps nobody, least of all the club.

We can only hope that this practice does not spread throughout the league. As something of a crossover between the soccer world and the American sporting sphere, Major League Soccer has always been an anomaly of sorts. It borrows certain aspects of its identity from European soccer while retaining a distinctly North American character. Nowhere is that better demonstrated than iva says he’d welcome the chance to be registered with the club.Silva is in Madrid after completing his loan with Cruzeiro.He told Marca: “The truth is that I have a team, and it’s Real Madrid. There were some offers, but most have been just enquiriesn the league’s media approach.

In fact, is held aloft as an example of media relations done right – at least as far as soccer goes. Its sporting reputation might not transcend borders just yet, but the league is renowned in press circles across the globe for its accessibility and openness. That is seen as a manifestation of the American way and is welcomed by those who are not afforded such access in European soccer.

Using personal experience as a gauge, MLS clubs understand the role of the media and how it can be used to their own benefit. When I wrote a story prior to the first ever Hudson River Derby between the New York Red Bulls and New York City FC last year, players were actively offered up by both clubs for interview. Media days were arranged, with individual schedules accommodated for as clubs did their best to present whoever, whenever.

Much of this comes from MLS’s need to compete in a crowded media marketplace, against leagues and sports of longer-established heritage. But nonetheless, this is the image that Real Salt Lake are in danger of damaging. Furthermore, they’re hurting their own fans by blacklisting members of the local media, particularly writers for such locally important publications as the Salt Lake Tribune. If MLS clubs are desperate to ensure their roots touch their local communities, banning a loheffield United boss Chris Wilder says Jack Rodwell must work his way into their first team plans.Wilder says new signing Jack Robinson and Rodwell will not simply be handed appearances for Sheffield United this weekend in the FA Cup against Millwallcal columnist is at odds with that ethos.

European clubs are learning, but progress is slow. Manchester City hosted a media day to make the most of Pep Guardiola’s unveiling as their new manager, but even then the message still felt strictly controlled. MLS still sets the precedent, at least giving the impression of access and openness. And there is no league anywhere in the world that wouldn’t benefit from such a trait.

It’s therefore not the media Real Salt Lake are hurting with their actions, but fans, and the overall image of North American soccer as well. Journalists might be the target of such flak, but the real damage is felt elsewhere. Fans need the media to hold their teams to account. They also need the media to provide access, as well as an emotional link to those they watch play every week. It might sound like self-righteous hyperbole, but soccer needs the media as much as the media needs soccer.

This is why Real Salt Lake’s decision to ban Monson makes so little sense. Accessibility is one of MLS’s key selling points (the league is aware of Monson’s ban and says it takes access seriously). Players guest on fan podcasts, locker rooms are opened up to the press within minutes of the full-time whistle, with coaches and general managers even hosting Reddit AMA sessions from time to time. Without that selling point, MLS and North American soccer as a whole is a less attractive, less appealing product. It goes against the grain of the game’s media mantra in the United States and Canada. The MLS All-Star game in San Jose later this month will provide the perfect illustration of just how far ahead the league is in terms of its media approach. A week-long series of fan and media events won’t just act as promotion for the game itself, but for the league in general. This is the kind of thing at stake if RSL’s actions were repeated elsewhere.

Of course, MLS’s centralised structure helps with the organisation of such events, but clubs must recognise how important accessibility and positive media relations are to almost every aspect of North American soccer. Monson’s blacklisting is about more than just one journalist having his credentials stripped. This concerns the image and spirit of MLS. The disconnect exposed by Real Salt Lake’s media ban is about more than just one empty seat in the press box.

Conor McGregor admits Joao Carvalho’s death affected appetite for promotion

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Conor McGregor has spoken at length about his “publicized civil war” with UFC .

The disagreement between UFC and its biggest star came in April when . McGregor believed that his publicity duties ahead of UFC 200 were getting in the way of his training schedule. McGregor was due to fight Nate Diaz, .

“I’ll tell you what, [the retirement announcement on Twitter] blew up,” McGregor told ESPN. “I was kind of having fun to startear vision of his summer transfer targets.The Austrian wants to bring quality to St. Mary’s in order to push his side up the table next season.He said: “It is a very clear picture for me now what we are still missing in our game.”Maybe we know that w, half-hearted. Then all of a sudden it’s, ‘you’re off 200!’ I was like, ‘alright, well fuck you too, then.’

“All said and done, there were times [I thought], ‘I should have just jumped on the damn flight [and done the publicity tour].’ But sometimes you’ve got to do what’s right for you and not what’s right for everybody else, especially if you’ve done what’s right for everyone else a million times over.”

McGregor has since and said he has held talks with the UFC president, Dana White. He added that his relationship with the organization is “good”.

“I’m committed to the fight game,” McGregor said. “I enjoy competition. I enjoy challenges. If a challenge is in front of me and it appeals to me, I will go ahead and conquer it.

“Did I do all the media? Did I dance like a monkey? No. Am I still here? Am I still fighting? Am I still collecting? Yeah. So, [UFC] saved face, I saved face – there was no loser. We all won in a way. I had them realistically, but they couldn’t bow down, so there was no loser. I was over here, they were there and now we’re in the middle. We’re in a good spot.”

McGregor added that his reluctance to go on the publicity tour in April had been influenced by at a fight in Ireland. Carvalho’s death came a week before his retirement tweet and McGregor said the death had affected him.

“I had fucking journalists knocking down my mother’s door, you know what I mean?” McGregor said. “That’s not what I signed up to do – have people knocking on my mother’s door, talking about a kid dying. It’s not nice to see a kid die like that. It does something to you. And there’s been show after show canceled in Ireland since that. It’s fucked up to be a part of it, and I didn’t want to bring it back up and put it more on a public scale.

“After all t believes his qualities can fit into manager Jose Mourinho’s system.The France international admits he’s a changed character when on the pitch.He told Foot Mercato: “I am a player who is crazy. “I have a certain carelessness. Maybe it’s due to my agehat, I did not want to be put in front of a camera and made to dance. I just wasn’t feeling it.”

In the ESPN interview McGregor also dismissed , saying the sums involved were beneath him.

“I hear [Mayweather] talking. The leak came out, it was him that leaked the rumor and it said he gets $100m and I get $7m – that’s a pay cut to me. I don’t take pay cuts. I thought boxing was where the money was at. The $7m is absolutely laughable. He’s talking $100m – I’m also talking $100m,” McGregor said. “I’m 27 years of ageident Sertac Guven says talks are underway with Daniel Sturridge.The former Liverpool striker is a free agent after being allowed to come off contract last month.Sturridge’s mother and uncle were in Trabzon this week to meet with club officials and l and I’m just about halfway through a $100m contract. At 27 years of age, was on Oscar De La Hoya’s undercard.

“Who doesn’t want to conquer both worlds? He’s getting old now. He needs me, I don’t need him. Who else can he fight?”

Dallas Seavey wins fourth Iditarod dog race in competition marred by violence

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A new dynasty has been claimed in the world’s most high profile sled-dog race. Running alongside his sled to the finish in Nome, Dallas Seavey won his fourth . He’s onlyteran Antonio Valencia. The Ecuadorian fullback will become a free agent at the end of this month and is wanted by a number of teams in MLS.The Valencia.html”>Daily Mail says United are looking to give the 33-year-old a chance to stay in the Premier the seventh musher ever to win the race four times, and at just 29 years old, by far the youngest.

“It was a tough one. This one was a little bit harder than last time,” Seavey said from beneath the Burled Arch at the trail’s end shortly after his victory at 2.20am.

It’s the fastest time in the race’s history: eight days, 11 hours, 20 minutes and 16 seconds. When Seavey’s grandfather, Dan Seavey, ran the original race in 1973, the winner took just over 20 days reaching the finish.

“There’s really a changing of the guard happening,” said four-time winner Jeff King during his mandatory eight-hour rest in White Mountain, a community of 209 and the penultimate checkpoint before Nome.

King and other mushers drank Tang and re-heated breakfast burritos in a small office in between quick naps and checking in on their dogs, frequently consulting leaderboards and their wristwatches. Half a dozen gathered around a television to watch a live broadcast of the finish, few saying very Ndombele has explained why he chose to move to the Champions League finalists.Ndombele has left Lyon for Spurs in a deal worth up to €70m.He told L’Equipe: “When we look at it, I think it’s a very good choice. What guided me is the Premier Leaguey much as yet another Seavey title was claimed. The only year in the last five that Dallas didn’t win was 2013, when the champion was his father, Mitch.

“The next generation is no longer kids,” King said, referring to a crop of young mushers that are filling out the race’s top ranks. Beating King into White Mountain were Wade Marrs, Pete Kaiser, and Joar Leifseth Ulsom – all of them under 30.

Many of the sport’s most accomplished champions had a rough time along this year’s trail. Four-time winner Lance Mackey scratched mid-way through the race, citing concerns for his personal health. Martin Buser, another four-time victor, injured his leg so badly heading in to Unalakleet that he struggled to feed and water his dogs during a rest. And King himself lost a dog named Nash when an during a run along the Yukon River early Saturday morning.

The death, along with injuries to another three dogs, put him at a strategic loss for the second half of the race.

“The other two I dropped are two of my best leaders,” King said, emotion creeping into his voice. “They were really a significant loss to the leadership of the team.”

State Troopers arrested 26-year-old Arnold Demoski of Nulato shortly after he contacted local law-enforcement officer the morning of the incident to confess.

“I don’t know how I can make it right,” Demoski said during an interview with a local television station before his arrest.

Though the incident was first reported as an intentional attack, Demoski said he’d been drinking heavily and didn’t remember striking King, or musher Aliy Zirkle, who was further along the trail, and told race officials what happened upon reaching Nulato. Accoridng to Zirkle’s report to law enforcement, the snowmachiner made multiple passes at her team before pointing the vehicle at her, revving the engine, then driving off.

It was a dark spot on a race that was otherwise marked by its cooperative weather, fast trail conditions and an exceptionally high level of competitiveness among the top 30 teams.

For much of the trail, Dallas Seavey pushing at an aggressive clip to keep up with Brent Sass, a musher from the remote Interior community of Eureka who is a top performer and past winner of the Yukon Quest, Alaska’s other prominent thousand-mile sled-dog race between Fairbanks and Canada.

Sass arrived into White Mountain about two hours behind Seavey. But as he got ready to leave for the last leg of the trail, his team quit on him.

“They don’t want to run anymore,” Sass said during a brief interview after he’d walked his team back to the checkpoint, spread out bundles of straw, and removed their racing booties.

“It was my responsibility to control that. And obviously I didn’t,” Sass said, petting his team. “Sorry guys.”

The protest along the banks of the Fish River, Sass believed, came from pushing the dogs too hard on the last two legs of his run, when he was trying to maintain an edge over Seavey. The tempo had taken its toll.

“I pushed ‘em too hard. Bottom line,” Sass said. “I feel horrible about it. It’s totally my fault.”

As Sass rested both himself and hre targeting midfielder Isaac Hayden from Newcastle United.The Hammers are persisting with a move for Andre Gomes from Barcelona, but their bids have been rebuffed so far.According to the Evening Standard, they see Hayden as an alternative if they cais team, Aliy Zirkle, the fourth musher into the White Mountain checkpoint, left ahead of him. Ultimately she took third place in the race – the fourth time she’s been locked out of a victory by either Dallas or Mitch Seavey.

Mushers will continue to race until the conclusion of festivities on Sunday during the Red Lantern Banquet in Nome.