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National

  • NBA bans Sterling for life

    NEW YORK (AP) — Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been banned for life by the NBA in response to racist comments the league says he made in a recorded conversation.

    Commissioner Adam Silver said he will try to force the controversial owner to sell his franchise. Sterling has also been fined $2.5 million, and Silver made no effort to hide his outrage over the comments.

    "I fully expect to get the support I need from the other NBA owners I need to remove him," Silver said.

    The rebuke, which came three days after the scandal broke, is the harshest penalty ever issued by the league and one of the stiffest punishments ever given to an owner in professional sports. Silver said a league investigation found the NBA's longest-tenured owner was in fact the person on the audiotapes that were released over the weekend.

    "We stand together in condemning Mr. Sterling's views," Silver said. "They simply have no place in the NBA."

    Sterling acknowledged he was the man on the tape, Silver said.

    Sterling is immediately barred from attending any NBA games or practices, be present at any Clippers office or facility, or participate in any business or player personnel decisions involving the team.

  • Pineda says he's learned his lesson

    BOSTON (AP) — The pine tar glistened on Michael Pineda’s neck, improving his grip and inviting trouble.
    He got both.
    The Yankees’ right-hander spoke quietly after being ejected in the second inning of the Red Sox’ 5-1 win over New York on Wednesday night. And less than two weeks after appearing to get away with using a foreign substance in another game against Boston, he vowed never to do it again.
    “I’ll learn from this mistake,” a contrite Pineda said. “It won’t happen again.”
    Pineda said he had trouble gripping the ball on the cool evening when he allowed two runs in the first inning. So before he took the mound for the second, he said, he rubbed pine tar on the right side of his neck.
    “I don’t feel the ball,” he said. “I don’t want to hit anybody.”
    One small problem: Rule 8.02(b). Written to keep pitchers from altering the ball to gain an unfair advantage, it prohibits them from having a foreign substance on them or in their possession on the mound and says that they’ll be suspended if they do.

  • Pujols slams 500th home run Tuesday

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Albert Pujols smiled as he explained why he felt the need to apologize to his wife for hitting homer No. 500 so quickly after No. 499.
    She had planned to be there in person once he got within one of the milestone.
    He didn’t give her the chance.
    Pujols became the first major leaguer to get his 499th and 500th homers in the same game, connecting twice Tuesday night and driving in five runs in the Los Angeles Angels’ 7-2 victory over the Washington Nationals. He’s the 26th player in big league history to reach 500.
    “I went and made a phone call and I called her, and she was doing her nails. And everybody in the salon, I guess, was telling her, ‘Congratulations!’ And she was like, ‘Did you just hit your 500th?’ I was like, ‘I’m sorry,’” Pujols said with a laugh.
    “She would have loved to be here with my kids and my family. She drives me every day to try to be a better person, a better player,” he added. “I would have loved to share this moment with her here.”
    Hitting like the Pujols of old, the three-time NL MVP delivered a three-run homer in the first inning and two-run drive in the fifth, both off Taylor Jordan (0-3).

  • Avs win in overtime

    DENVER (AP) — Patrick Roy showed as much boldness behind the bench as he once did as a Hall of Fame goaltender.
    The first-year Colorado coach made some daring moves late in the game — like pulling his goaltender with 3:01 remaining — and yet the ploy worked out.
    It’s been that kind of season for Roy and his youthful squad.
    Paul Stastny scored 7:27 into overtime after tying the game with 13.4 seconds remaining in regulation, lifting the Avalanche to a 5-4 win over the Minnesota Wild in the opener of the Western Conference quarterfinals on Thursday night.
    “We believe in ourselves,” said Roy, who won two Stanley Cup titles for the Avalanche as a player and helped guide the team back to the playoffs for the first time in four years.
    “Sometimes, you’re not playing your best game, but the quality of our team is we found a way to win this game. That’s what you want in the playoffs.”
    Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn also added goals for Colorado.
    Stastny beat Ilya Bryzgalov with a close-in wrist shot in overtime, the same type of play Stastny used to tie the game in regulation.
    Not that the Avalanche were too surprised by the late rally because, “we’ve done it all year,” Stastny said.

  • Baseball honors Jackie Robinson

    NEW YORK (AP) — Marking the 67th anniversary of the day Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier, the Rev. Jesse Jackson praised Commissioner Bud Selig for the strides the sport has taken in minority opportunities over the past two decades.
    Jackson traveled to baseball's 1992 winter meetings to criticize its lack of minorities in management, and he pushed for change.
    Selig retired Robinson's No. 42 in 1997 on the 50th anniversary of the big league debut of the Brooklyn Dodgers first baseman. Selig established a Diverse Business Partners program the following year and in 1999 started requiring clubs to consider at least one minority for each manager and major executive opening. MLB also sponsors 35 Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholars.
    Jackson said Jackie Robinson Day had become "a national holiday for all practical purposes."
    "To honor Jackie in this way honors the best in America," Jackson told Selig on Tuesday at MLB's third Diversity Business Summit. "In many ways, had Jackie not succeeded you could not have Atlanta Falcons or the Braves or the Carolina Panthers. You could not have these southern teams if Jackie had failed."

  • Masters champ Scott digs his role

    AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — For some, the burden of defending a championship can be overwhelming.
    For Adam Scott, it was pure joy — at least for a day.
    With a green jacket already in his collection, Scott felt a sense of calm that carried over to the golf course. The result: a 3-under 69 that got the laid-back Aussie off to just the kind of start he was looking for at the Masters.
    Now, to keep it going for three more days.
    “Having won last year, in some ways, has taken a little pressure off me,” Scott said. “I kind of felt like what was the worst than can happen? I’m still going to be a Masters champion.”
    Bill Haas was leading a major for the first time, shooting a 68 Thursday that left him one stroke ahead of the last guy to win the Masters (Scott), the guy who won it two years ago (Bubba Watson), and the guy Watson beat in a playoff (Louis Oosthuizen).
    On a warm, sunny morning, Kevin Streelman had a couple of early birdies to crack the second-round leaderboard Friday. Oosthuizen stumbled a bit with a bogey on the fourth hole, while Watson was getting ready to tee off. Haas and Scott have afternoon tee times.

  • North Korea to open race to foreigners

    TOKYO (AP) — Runners of the world, unite!
    For the first time ever, North Korea is opening up the streets of its capital to runner-tourists for the annual Pyongyang marathon, undoubtedly one of the most exotic feathers in any runner's cap.
    Tourism companies say they are getting inundated by requests to sign up for the April 13 event, which this year will include amateur runners from around the world. The race includes a full marathon — with a handful of world-class, invitation-only athletes — a half marathon and a 10-kilometer run.
    The opening of the race to recreational runners is in keeping with the North's ongoing, but sometimes sporadic, effort to earn cash revenue by boosting tourism, usually with well-orchestrated group tours to major arts performances or attractions the North wants to show off.
    Earlier this year, North Korea's government announced a plan to create special trade and tourism zones across the country and unveiled its first luxury ski resort, aimed largely at luring ski enthusiasts from abroad. Under the watch of young leader Kim Jong Un, the North has also been giving sports in general a higher profile. Simple recreational sports facilities, such as outdoor basketball courts and roller skating rinks, have been popping up lately in Pyongyang and some other cities.

  • Woods to miss Masters this year

    Tiger Woods chose surgery to heal his ailing back over a quest for another green jacket, announcing Tuesday that he will miss the Masters for the first time in his career.
    Woods said on his website that he had surgery Monday in Utah for a pinched nerve that had been hurting him for several months, knowing the surgery would keep him from Augusta National next week for the first time since he was a senior in high school.
    The No. 1 player in the world is a four-time Masters champion.
    “After attempting to get ready for the Masters, and failing to make the necessary progress, I decided in consultation with my doctors to have this procedure done, Woods said. “I’d like to express my disappointment to the Augusta National membership, staff, volunteers and patrons that I will not be at the Masters.
    “It’s a week that’s very special to me,” he said. “It also looks like I’ll be forced to miss several upcoming tournaments to focus on my rehabilitation and getting healthy.”
    The Masters gets the highest television ratings of any golf tournament, and Woods commands most of the attention, even though he last won a green jacket in 2005. He won his first Masters in 1997 when he set 20 records, from youngest Masters champion at 21 to his 12-shot margin of victory.

  • Sweet 16 games are a toss-up

    The Billion Dollar Dream has been over for a while. Most bracket sheets are loaded with red X’s. Still, there is plenty of March Madness ahead of us in the NCAA tournament’s round of 16.
    You want favorites? Three No. 1s — Florida, Arizona, Virginia — are alive and well after two rounds.
    You want underdogs? How about three with double-digit seedings — Stanford, a 10, with 11s Dayton and Tennessee.
    You want a rivalry? It’s tough to beat Kentucky-Louisville.
    You want rematches? Besides Kentucky-Louisville there is Arizona-San Diego State.
    You get the point. Four days, 12 games. It’s regional weekend when the Sweet 16 is cut to the Final Four. Enjoy.

  • Fill out a billion dollar bracket

    NEW YORK (AP) — So, about that billion dollars.
    Warren Buffett looks at his offer to pay $1 billion to anyone who fills out a perfect NCAA tournament bracket as nothing more than a matter of having the numbers in his favor.
    Mathematicians say he’s right. That’s still not stopping them from building a cottage industry by teaching bracket-fillers how to make the impossible seem possible — or a little less improbable.
    Around a half-dozen college professors are offering special classes to teach people the ins and outs of the numbers that will, inevitably, work against them. And there’s one website — takebuffettsbillion.com — that says it will send a unique, statistician-crunched bracket to anyone who signs up, with the promise that all those in on the gig will split the money if one of those brackets is the winner. (As of Monday, about 9,000 people had signed up.)
    “I’d love to demystify all this,” said DePaul math professor Jeff Bergen, whose expertise has been in demand this month. “The math involved is quite simple and can be done in a high school class. What blows people away is the magnitude of the numbers. You look at the number ‘9 quintillion’ and it’s hard to wrap your head around it.”