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National

  • In the NCAAs, time doesn't always fly when you're having fun

    The whistle sounds. The horn blows. And the madness grinds to a halt.
    Another stoppage in play. Another lengthy timeout. Another chance for folks at home to grab something from the fridge or be subjected to the 50th iteration of Samuel, Charles and Spike's geography fail across the U.S. on their way to the Final Four.
    If it seems like time stands still during the NCAA Tournament, maybe that's because it does.
    The television breaks are stretched to a seemingly interminable 2 minutes and 30 seconds, a good half-minute longer than the regular season. And that doesn't include the 20-minute halftimes — five minutes longer than usual — or the additional 15 seconds or so the guys in the TV truck occasionally request to fit in one more commercial that helps CBS recoup the billions the company invested to televise the magic of March.
    What you don't see at home? Coaches milling about talking among themselves. Players trying to stay focused. Benchwarmers taking in the band or the crowd when they're not serving as de facto student managers.
    Yeah, for nearly all involved, the tournament is the biggest moment of their athletic lives. And during those all-too-frequent lulls, it's kind of a drag.

  • Change to extra points likely in NFL

    The NFL’s dullest play, the extra point, appears to be headed for some changes, perhaps significant ones, for the 2015 season.
    While team owners didn’t vote on any extra-point proposals Wednesday, there was so much discussion and interest in potential changes that the issue will be a main focal point for the next set of league meetings in May.
    “There’s a clear movement to wanting to change and change it this year,” said Rich McKay, co-chairman of the competition committee and president of the Falcons.
    McKay’s committee will “develop alternatives and be ready for a potential vote” in two months in San Francisco.
    Among the possibilities are moving the line of scrimmage back for PAT kicks; placing the ball on the 1½-yard line for a 2-point conversion; eliminating the PAT kicks entirely, requiring teams to run a play from scrimmage; and allowing the defense to score, as in college football, if the ball is turned over on a 2-point try.
    McKay described the discussions as “lively, with lots of ideas ... it’s time to make this a football play.”
    “A couple coaches said they favor just lining up on the 2 and going for the 2-point play,” he said. “Or move the ball to the 1 1-2 for two points, or kick from the 15 for one, your choice.”

  • Minor League Baseball announces new pace of game regulations

    Minor League Baseball recemtly announced rules and procedures aimed at improving the pace of play in games at the Triple-A and Double-A levels.

    The procedures, created in partnership with Major League Baseball, will monitor the time taken between innings and pitches, and will limit the amount of time allowed during pitching changes. Umpires will continue to enforce rules prohibiting batters from leaving the batter’s box between pitches.

    Timers have been installed at all Triple-A and Double-A parks in plain view of umpires, players and fans to monitor the pace of play and determine when violations occur. The month of April will serve as a grace period, with players receiving warnings for infractions. Beginning May 1, rules will be enforced as written. The regulations and penalties for non-compliance are listed below.

    INNING BREAKS

    -Inning breaks will be two minutes, 25 seconds in duration. The first batter of an inning is encouraged to be in the batter’s box and alert to the pitcher with 20 seconds left on the inning break timer. The pitcher must begin his wind-up or begin the motion to come to the set position at any point within the last 20 seconds of the 2:25 break.

  • Mushers embark on new Iditarod route

    FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Iditarod mushers began their 1,000-mile trek across Alaska along a new route Monday after poor trail conditions forced organizers to push the race’s start north, bypassing a mountain range.
    Canadian rookie Rob Cooke, who hails from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, was the first musher to leave Fairbanks as fans looked on from the starting gate and along the expressway.
    The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race usually kicks off 225 miles south in Willow. But because of a lack of snow this year, officials shifted the entire route around the Alaska Range and an area that left many mushers bruised and bloodied last year.
    This is only the second time Fairbanks has hosted the official start; similar low-snow conditions moved the Iditarod there in 2003.
    The finish line remains in Nome, on the state’s wind-whipped western coast.
    The route change eliminates mountainous terrain and a treacherous gorge. But the race now will be run on about 600 miles of river ice, and that can create a whole new set of obstacles.
    Some mushers have hinted the new path might benefit Pete Kaiser, a young musher who recently won an all-river ice sled dog race in southwest Alaska.
    Kaiser disputed that Monday.

  • USA's 'Miracle' has 35th anniversary

    LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) — It’s been more than three decades since his landmark goal became the centerpiece of the U.S. Olympic hockey team’s Miracle on Ice. For 60-year-old Mike Eruzione, it still seems like only yesterday.
    “It was a long time ago, but for me it’s different,” said Eruzione, whose game-winning goal against the Soviet Union in the medal round at the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics still sends chills down an awful lot of spines. “I deal with it so often it’s hard to believe it’s been 35 years. Every week I’m doing something or going somewhere that’s associated with 1980.”
    With his inimitable deft touch, Hall of Fame coach Herb Brooks guided Eruzione and his fuzzy-faced teammates, college kids matched up against one of the best teams in hockey history. On Feb. 22, they triumphed with an improbable comeback.
    The U.S. defeated the Soviets 4-3 on Eruzione’s 30-foot shot midway through the third period to deprive them of what likely would have been their sixth gold medal in seven Winter Olympics, then clinched the gold by rallying past Finland 4-2.

  • Stoudemire may be heading to Dallas

    DALLAS (AP) — Amare Stoudemire asked out of his contract with the New York Knicks because he wants to make a run at a championship.
    The veteran forward has apparently decided Dallas is the place to spend the rest of this season chasing his first title.
    A person with direct knowledge of the talks said Monday night that Stoudemire has agreed to sign with the Mavericks after taking a buyout from the Knicks.
    He can’t make his verbal commitment official until he clears waivers Wednesday.
    The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn’t official, told The Associated Press that Stoudemire could be available when Dallas returns from the All-Star break Thursday at Oklahoma City.
    The 32-year-old Stoudemire was waived Monday after requesting the Knicks buy out the remainder of his contract that was set to expire after this season. He’s likely to clear waivers.
    “I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to contribute positively on the court and in the community,” Stoudemire said. “Although I leave the Knicks with a heavy heart, I wish the organization the best of luck. Once a Knick always a Knick.”
    Dallas has needed frontcourt help since trading Brandan Wright in a deal that brought point guard Rajon Rondo from Boston.

  • Tarkanian dies at 84

    LAS VEGAS (AP) — He couldn’t stop fighting the NCAA any more than he could give up chewing towels courtside. Jerry Tarkanian built a basketball dynasty in the desert, but it was his decades-long battle with the NCAA that defined him far more than the wins and losses.
    The coach who won a national title at UNLV and made the school synonymous with basketball died Wednesday after several years of health issues. He was 84. Tarkanian put the run in the Runnin’ Rebels, taking them to four Final Fours and winning a national championship in 1990 with one of the most dominant college teams ever. His teams were as flamboyant as the city, with light shows and fireworks for pregame introductions and celebrities jockeying for position on the so-called Gucci Row courtside.
    He ended up beating the NCAA, too, collecting a $2.5 million settlement after suing the organization for trying to run him out of college basketball. But he was bitter to the end about the way the NCAA treated him while coaching.
    “They’ve been my tormentors my whole life,” Tarkanian said at his retirement news conference in 2002. “It will never stop.”

  • Spurs coach earns his 1,000th career win

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Gregg Popovich’s grand plan has produced plenty of wins.
    The Spurs made it an even 1,000 for him on Monday night.
    San Antonio rallied from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit and got an 18-foot baseline jumper from Marco Belinelli with 2.1 seconds left to give Popovich a milestone 95-93 victory at Indiana.
    “I’ve been here a long time and I’ve had good players. That’s the formula,” Popovich said. “Getting the players is difficult, but I’ve been fortunate to have good ones. The time, that’s the most important element. You have to be around for a while I guess.”
    Popovich celebrated in his typical low-key way. He walked to midcourt, putt an arm around Pacers coach Frank Vogel, hugged one of his former players and stoically strolled into the Spurs’ locker room though he later acknowledged he might drink some wine.
    While Popovich does have five NBA championships, few midseason wins have come with this much fanfare.
    Only two coaches, Phil Jackson and Pat Riley, reached 1,000 wins faster than Popovich. Only one other coach, Jerry Sloan, achieved the feat with one team. Sloan won 1,127 games with Utah. Popovich is 1,000-462 in 19 seasons, all with San Antonio.

  • There are many Super Bowl ads to watch for

    NEW YORK (AP) — It's almost show time.
    When the Super Bowl kicks off on Sunday, 40-plus advertisers will be hoping to win over the more than 110 million viewers tuning in. After paying $4.5 million for a 30-second spot, advertisers are hoping to have the ad everyone will be talking about Monday morning.
    Here are 10 Super Bowl ads to watch out for:

    BUDWEISER "LOST DOG"

    Brewer Anheuser-Busch's 60-second ad shows a Labrador puppy chasing after the iconic Budweiser Clydesdales that are being moved to a new stable. The tune, "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)," performed by Sleeping performs in the background. The ad is the sequel to last year's "Best Buds," showing the bond between a puppy and Clydesdale, a spot many considered the best ad of the 2014 Super Bowl.
    Online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAsjRRMMg_Q

    MCDONALD'S "PAY WITH LOVIN'"

    In its 60-second spot, the fast-food chain announces that it will let random customers pay for their food with acts of goodwill, such as calling their moms and telling them they love them. It's part of a Valentine's Day promotion that will start on the day after the Super Bowl.
    Online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iq2Sm2XGv_s

    SNICKERS "THE BRADY BUNCH"

  • Thoma taken in 2nd round of MLS draft

    Former Los Alamos standout boys soccer player will have a chance to show his stuff in the professional ranks this year.
    Andy Thoma, a 2011 graduate of Los Alamos High School, was taken in the second round of the Major League Soccer SuperDraft Thursday. He was the 24th overall selection Thursday and the second pick for the Timbers in the draft.
    Major League Soccer is the top-level organization in the country. The MLS consists of 19 teams in both the United States and Canada.
    The MLS held its combine in Florida last week for incoming college players.
    Thoma, who is 21 years old, was a third-team National Soccer Coaches Association of America following the 2014 season with the University of Washington.
    During his time at Washington, Thoma was chosen for multiple Pac-12 honors, including a second-team selection last year.
    During his career at Los Alamos, Thoma not only was named the Class 4A Player of the Year, he also led the Hilltoppers to their first state title in nearly 25 years.
    Thoma came up big in the postseason for the Hilltoppers. The Hilltoppers got an unfavorable No. 5 seed in for the 2010 playoffs, but pulled off three straight upsets, over Roswell, St. Piux and Belen to earn the title.