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  • Jones, Thome, Guerrero, Hoffman elected to baseball HOF

    Over 600 home runs. More than 600 saves. A .300 career average.

    In the age of baseball analytics, there’s still room in the Hall of Fame for big, round numbers you can count on.
    Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman were rewarded Wednesday, easily elected in the newest class headed for Cooperstown.

    “I don’t know how you tabulate or calculate WAR,” Jones said, referring to a sabermetric stat that didn’t exist for much of his career.

    “Yes, you can dig deeper,” he said. But he added: “What I want to see is batting average, on-base percentage, runs produced.”

    Designated hitter Edgar Martinez came close after a grass-roots campaign to promote him. Boosted by advanced metrics, he’ll get his last chance on the ballot next year.

    Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, both tainted by the steroids scandal, edged up but again fell far short.

    A switch-hitter who batted .303 with 468 home runs, Jones was an eight-time All-Star third baseman for the Atlanta Braves.

  • Schwartz turned Eagles’ defense into one of NFL’s best

    Jim Schwartz inherited one of the NFL’s worst defenses and turned them into one of the best in less than two years.

    When coach Doug Pederson hired Schwartz to be the defensive coordinator in 2016, the Philadelphia Eagles were coming off three straight seasons ranked in the bottom four in yards allowed.

    Schwartz changed the scheme back to a 4-3 base and rebuilt the defense using many of the same players left from the old regime.

    He also brought a swagger that’s reflected in his players.

    Three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, two-time Pro Bowl safety Malcolm Jenkins, defensive linemen Brandon Graham and Beau Allen, and linebacker Mychal Kendricks were part of the unit that struggled under former coach Chip Kelly and former defensive coordinator Billy Davis.

    But they’ve thrived under Schwartz because his system fits their skills.

    “He always puts us in great position to make plays,” Jenkins said.
    Schwartz made an immediate impact last season, helping the defense go from 30th in yards allowed and 28th in points to 13th and 12th, respectively.

    This season, they ranked fourth in both categories and had the league’s No. 1 run defense.

  • Granato prepared for role as US Olympic coach

    Growing up as the oldest of six children, Tony Granato always seemed to be in charge.

    If that meant telling brothers Don and Robby to help their younger siblings put on their shoes or find their jackets, that’s what he did.

    A decade or so later, those same qualities stood out on the 1988 U.S. Olympic team — even though defenseman Eric Weinrich and 15 other players were older than Granato.

    “I really looked up to Tony as a real leader and someone you could aspire to,” Weinrich said. “He was really a mature guy for the group that we had. I always kind of thought of him as an older player than he really was. He always seemed like one of those guys that would be a good captain.”

    Decades later, the 53-year-old big brother finds himself in that role again on the biggest stage in international hockey.

    Granato will coach an unheralded men’s hockey team without NHL players at the Olympics in South Korea next month. Hand-picked by general manager, friend and 1988 Olympic teammate Jim Johannson, who died unexpectedly on the eve of the games, Granato has spent more than 30 years building to this moment.

    “I’ve been there as a fan, I’ve been there as a player, I’ve been there as an assistant coach,” Granato said .

  • Holm on Rousey’s suicidal thoughts: “I’ve never been there”

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — While Holly Holm felt compassion after learning Ronda Rousey had suicidal thoughts following their bout last year, the UFC bantamweight champion is fairly certain Rousey wouldn’t want her sympathy.
    Holm stopped Rousey with a head kick in November after dominating their bout for a stunning upset.
    In a recent interview on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show, Rousey said she had suicidal thoughts shortly after her title reign ended.
    “I don’t ever take anything like that lightly,” Holm said. “I’ve never been in that position. I’m probably the worst person to ask for advice on that. I definitely don’t want to sit here and say, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry,’ because I know for me, I (have) a competitive mind, and I’m confident that Ronda is the same, that you don’t really want sympathy from the one that created this. That almost makes it even more frustrating.”
    Rousey said the thoughts were only momentary, and she intends to fight again. She is expected to get an eventual rematch with Holm, who is preparing for her first title defense against Miesha Tate at UFC 196 in Las Vegas on March 5.

  • Udall secures safety provisions for youth sports

    WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Tom Udall, a member of the Senate Appropriations and Commerce committees, announced that the president has signed into law as part of the “omnibus” appropriations measure several sports safety provisions that Udall has championed to help protect youth athletes from the dangers of sports-related traumatic brain injuries. Udall has led efforts in Congress to improve equipment safety standards and curb false advertising claims, focusing on ensuring parents, coaches and players have the information they need to make important decisions about how to prevent head injuries.

  • Skiers Cup riders announced for showdown

    Lausanne, Switzerland — The highly-anticipated roster of Skiers Cup team riders is finally available to the public after the two team captains have meticulously selected some of the finest riders in the world to compete on the slopes of Grandvalira, Andorra from Jan. 30 to Feb. 4. The sixth of edition of the Skiers Cup will take advantage of the picture-perfect freeride terrain of the largest ski resort in the Pyrenees.
    With a long history of progression and high-level freeskiing, this event takes a unique format where two continents (Europe vs. Americas) will face each other in two classic disciplines: big-mountain (freeride) and backcountry slopestyle (tricks off kickers and natural jumps). Team captains are sure to select riders that have the necessary skills to round-out a versatile team capable of excelling in both disciplines. The 16 riders comprising two teams face each other over two days, with one discipline per day, and two rounds per discipline for each pair of riders. The winners for each round will be determined and the points will be summed for a grand total of 32 possible points.

  • Olympic teams to swim, boat in Rio’s filth

    RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Athletes in next year's Summer Olympics here will be swimming and boating in waters so contaminated with human feces that they risk becoming violently ill and unable to compete in the games, an Associated Press investigation has found.
    An AP analysis of water quality revealed dangerously high levels of viruses and bacteria from human sewage in Olympic and Paralympic venues — results that alarmed international experts and dismayed competitors training in Rio, some of whom have already fallen ill with fevers, vomiting and diarrhea.
    It is the first independent comprehensive testing for both viruses and bacteria at the Olympic sites.
    Brazilian officials have assured that the water will be safe for the Olympic athletes and the medical director of the International Olympic Committee said all was on track for providing safe competing venues. But neither the government nor the IOC tests for viruses, relying on bacteria testing only.
    Extreme water pollution is common in Brazil, where the majority of sewage is not treated. Raw waste runs through open-air ditches to streams and rivers that feed the Olympic water sites.

  • Johnson, Martinez, Smoltz and Biggio ready to enter Hall

    COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (AP) — Three dominated on the mound, the other excelled at three positions up the middle. Together, pitchers Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and multi-talented Craig Biggio left a remarkable imprint on baseball.
    Playing through an era tainted by steroids and dominated by offense — compliments of bulked-up sluggers, a smaller strike zone and smaller ballparks — the trio of pitchers combined for 735 wins, 11,113 strikeouts and nine Cy Young Awards. And the indefatigable Biggio became the only player in major league history with at least 3,000 hits, 600 doubles, 400 stolen bases and 250 home runs while being asked to play four positions in his 20-year career.
    All four, elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in January, will be inducted Sunday in Cooperstown.
    "I don't condone anybody doing anything bad as far as cheating the game," said Martinez, who joins former Giants right-hander Juan Marichal (1983) as the only natives of the Dominican Republic elected to the hall. "How did I feel pitching in the juice era? I wouldn't want it any other way. For me, there's no crying. I mean, as far as the way I did compete, I know I did it right. I did it the right way."

  • Brady vows to fight on; Kraft says he regrets not doing so

    FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady vowed on Wednesday to fight his four-game "Deflategate" suspension, and team owner Robert Kraft opened training camp by saying he continues to "believe and unequivocally support" the three-time Super Bowl MVP.
    "It is completely incomprehensible to me that the league continues to take steps to disparage one of its all-time great players, and a man for whom I have the utmost respect," Kraft said. "I was wrong to put my faith in the league."
    Taking the podium a day after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld Brady's suspension, Kraft said he didn't fight the team's penalty — a $1 million fine and the loss of two draft picks — because he thought the league would go easy on the star quarterback.
    Now, he said, he regrets his decision.
    "I have come to the conclusion that this was never about doing what was fair and just," Kraft said, apologizing to fans and to Brady. "I truly believe that what I did in May ... would make it much easier for the league to exonerate Tom Brady. Unfortunately, I was wrong."
    The NFL Players Association said later Wednesday that it will file a lawsuit in federal court in Minnesota challenging the punishment.

  • Rockies, Blue Jays swap star shortstops

    DENVER (AP) — The Colorado Rockies and Toronto Blue Jays have swapped star shortstops.
    The teams confirmed the blockbuster trade Tuesday that sends Jose Reyes and right-handed pitchers Miguel Castro, Jeff Hoffman and Jesus Tinoco to the Rockies for Troy Tulowitzki and right-handed reliever LaTroy Hawkins.
    Both shortstops have remarkably similar career statistics but also a history of injuries.
    Tulowitzki is a five-time All-Star and a career .299 hitter. He's hitting .300 this season. At 32, the speedy Reyes is two years older than Tulowitzki. He's a lifetime .291 hitter and is hitting .285 this season.
    Reyes, a four-time All-Star, is signed through 2017 on a $106 million, six-year contract he received from Miami.
    Before the 2011 season, Colorado made a big commitment to Tulowitzki by agreeing to a contract that guaranteed him $132 million over seven seasons from 2014-20. The deal included a $14 million team option for 2021 with a $4 million buyout.
    Combined with his previous deal, it meant the Rockies agreed to pay Tulowitzki $157.75 million over 10 years. The plan was to build around him and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, who signed an $80 million, seven-year contract about the same time.