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National

  • Fans can pour own beer at All-Star Game

    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — It's BYOB at the home of the Minnesota Twins for this week's All Star Game.
    As in, Be Your Own Bartender.
    Just in time for the Home Run Derby, Target Field in Minneapolis put in two self-serve beer machines in the stands behind first and third base, letting thirsty fans pick a brew, pour and pay by the ounce. The pour-your-own stations are unique among the 100-plus stadiums and arenas in the four major professional sports in the United States — though not the first of their kind, a concessions consultant said.
    They're not about boosting sales, cutting labor costs or shortening lines, said Delaware North Companies general manager Pete Spike, who provides concessions at Target Field. And it's too early to say whether the machines are the future of beer concessions — or even whether Target Field will add more.
    For now, they're just something new.
    "It's a novelty. That's one thing that parks have lost over the years," Spike said. "You used to be able to get ice cream in a special package you couldn't get anywhere else. Now, you can get it everywhere. This is merely something fun."

  • LeBron heading back to Cleveland

     

    CLEVELAND (AP) — If LeBron James was going to win another NBA title, heal broken hearts and continue building his legacy, he knew there was only one place to go.

    To Ohio. Home.

    Four years after he left for Miami, a widely criticized departure that damaged his image and crushed a long-suffering city's championship hopes, James is coming back to play for the Cavaliers to try and end Cleveland's half-century title drought. He's returning to his basketball roots, to the people who know him best to make good on a promise.

  • Brazilian fans deal with aftermath of loss

    SAO PAULO (AP) — It wasn’t just a bad dream. Brazilians woke up Wednesday to dreadful headlines describing the humiliation of their soccer team’s historic defeat of 7-1 to Germany in the World Cup’s semifinal.
    There were also reports of violence breaking out right after the game with many buses being torched in the country’s biggest city. At least one store selling electronics and household appliances was sacked, but there were no immediate reports of injuries.
    The country’s leading soccer publication stated simply: “A day to forget.”
    “It was the most shameful performance of all times,” said Almir Rogelio, 32, who was waiting at a newspaper stand for a friend. “I honestly woke up and didn’t even want to remember what happened.”
    During Tuesday’s match, Germany scored faster than partying fans could keep count. Later, tears smudged the faces of children painted in Brazil’s colors of canary yellow and green. Brazil coach Felipe Scolari buried his face in his hands.

  • Could LeBron return to the Cavs?

    CLEVELAND (AP) — There was no eye contact, nothing to indicate any reconciliation. The breakup of LeBron James and Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert was beyond bitter.
    But now, as James considers a return to the team he abandoned four years ago with an entire region breathlessly awaiting a homecoming it couldn’t imagine in its wildest dreams, it appears there has been some healing between the NBA superstar and his former boss.
    Once aligned as basketball partners, James and Gilbert could barely stand the sight of each other during Miami’s games in Cleveland the past four years.
    Time may have fixed their fractured relationship. Most of the rest of the city has already forgiven James.
    Cleveland, without a major sports championship to celebrate in almost 50 years, is praying for a reunion. On Sunday, Cavs fans flocked to social media to feverishly track one of Gilbert’s private jets as it flew to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where the plane’s occupants dodged reporters and TV cameras.
    It’s not known if Gilbert was on the jet, but that didn’t douse the free-agency firestorm. As James’ decision nears, there’s a renewed hope the prodigal son will come home.
    But in the backdrop looms the James-Gilbert relationship.

  • LeBron to try free agency

    MIAMI (AP) — LeBron James delivered his message loud and clear, without actually saying a word.
    He's willing to leave Miami, if that's what it will take to win more championships. And what happens next will likely be up to not just the Heat, but Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh as well.
    Through his agent, James informed the Heat on Tuesday that he has decided to opt out of the final two years of his contract, a move that means he becomes a free agent on July 1. He will be able to sign with any team, including Miami, and Heat President Pat Riley said he "fully expected" James to take advantage of his early termination option.
    "We look forward to sitting down with LeBron and his representatives and talking about our future together," Riley said.
    The Heat have been preparing for this for some time. James, Wade and Bosh all got six-year contracts when they teamed up in Miami in July 2010, the last time free agency was accompanied by the sort of frenzy that will envelop the league over the next few weeks. But each of those deals came with options to leave either this summer or in 2015, in part to allow both the players and the team to have financial flexibility.

  • Uruguay advances with win

    Underscoring a power shift away from Europe, Uruguay fought — and apparently even bit — its way to a 1-0 victory over Italy Tuesday to move to the World Cup's next round with Costa Rica, which sent England home without a single victory after a goalless draw.
    South America's strength was further highlighted when Colombia capped its perfect record in Group C with a 4-1 win over Japan. Europe did get one team through when Greece converted an injury time penalty for a 2-1 victory over Ivory Coast which eliminated the African team.
    The evening excitement though could hardly match yet another controversy to haunt Uruguay striker Luis Suarez. Around 80 minutes in, Suarez and Giorgio Chiellini tangled, with replays showing Suarez seemingly biting the shoulder of the Italian defender. It would make Suarez, amazingly, a triple carnivorous offender on the pitch in four years.
    "It was absolutely clear. There's even a mark," Chiellini said.
    The referee didn't see a bite, and no foul was called. Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez only had eyes on the result. "For me, and for all the people in Uruguay, we had more important things," he said.

  • U.S.-Portugal draws 24.7 million viewers

    NEW YORK (AP) — The United States’ 2-2 World Cup draw with Portugal is almost certainly the most-watched soccer game ever in the U.S., an emphatic confirmation of the sport’s rising popularity in a country slower to embrace it than the rest of the world.
    The Nielsen company said that Sunday’s gripping game was seen by an average of 24.7 million viewers on ESPN and Univision. That matches it with the 24.7 million U.S. viewers who watched the 2010 World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands.
    ESPN said an additional 490,000 people streamed coverage of the game on their mobile devices through the company’s app. Streaming numbers for 2010 weren’t immediately available, but it’s very unlikely they were that high because streaming apps were not as sophisticated then.
    Many factors were in place to make it so popular: It was an exciting game, interest in the U.S. team was high because of the first-game victory against Ghana and World Cup viewing in general has been high. The Sunday evening time slot also meant many Americans were available to watch.
    “It indicates that a large group in our audience is really following the story of the World Cup, which is really terrific,” said Scott Guglielmino, ESPN senior vice president of programming.

  • Brazil, Mexico win and advance in Cup

    RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil relied on its star Neymar for two early goals to beat Cameroon 4-1 Monday and reach the World Cup’s knockout stage for a South American showdown against Chile, a 2-0 loser to the Netherlands.
    Winning Group B with its third straight victory made sure that the Dutch avoided the host so early in the tournament. Instead, the Netherlands will face Mexico, which beat Croatia 3-1 to advance alongside Brazil from Group A.
    Spain beat Australia 3-0 in an inconsequential game between already eliminated teams, a victory providing a little balm on the disappointing defense of its title.
    With free-flowing games and buckets full of goals the rule in this outstanding tournament, it took until the final minutes of the Group A games for Brazil to make sure it advanced as group leader on goal difference over Mexico.
    “We are progressing match after match and that’s important,” Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said.
    Both finished with seven points, with Croatia eliminated with three points, while Cameroon finished with three losses. Brazil finished first because it had a better goal differential than Mexico, plus 5 to plus 3.

  • No 1936 references at Wimbledon this year

    LONDON (AP) — Imagine what the reception will be like for Andy Murray on Monday when he first strides onto the green grass of Centre Court at Wimbledon.

    A year ago, Murray became the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936 to win the singles title at a tournament the locals refer to simply as "The Championships," ending a nation's long wait and sparking talk of a knighthood.

    This year, Murray gets the defending champion's honor of playing the fortnight's first match on the most famous tennis court in the world. Seems safe to say that 15,000 or so of his closest friends will greet him with a full-throated roar.

    "As the time gets nearer, and, you know, I get ready to play the first match on Monday, I'll definitely ... be excited about it," Murray said. "I will be nervous. It (is) an experience; something I have never experienced before. Players have talked about it in the past, that it's a great experience. But it can also be a nerve-racking one."

    Murray had a slow start this season, coming off back surgery, and he hasn't reached a final since Wimbledon 50 weeks ago.

    But he showed he's on the way back to peak form by reaching the semifinals at the French Open.

  • Mexico-Brazil contest ends in scoreless tie

    RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The headline from the World Cup, Day 6: Big favorite Brazil is vulnerable.
    Those who thought the World Cup host or world champion Spain — thumped 5-1 last week by the Netherlands — would walk away with this should think again.
    Proving the old adage that there are no easy games in football’s showcase, Brazil failed to beat Mexico for the first time at the World Cup, held Tuesday to a 0-0 draw in their second game in Group A.
    Belgium — a long-shot pick for the title — also struggled to break down Algeria, but got help off its bench to win 2-1 in Belo Horizonte.
    In steamy Cuiaba, an evenly matched and entertaining back-and-forth contest ended Russia 1, South Korea 1. Substitutes scored all but one of the five goals on Tuesday, proving the importance of having a Plan B.
    All 32 teams have now played at least once. The Netherlands and Germany, which scored four Monday against Portugal, are the standouts so far.
    The big surprise was Brazil’s failure to find the net in the northeastern city of Fortaleza.
    With Neymar rampant through the middle, Marcelo ever-willing to go forward and Oscar supplying passes and inventiveness, Brazil should be able to score almost at will. Time and again, Brazil’s yellow shirts swarmed over Mexico’s penalty box.