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Korean 'superfan' of Royals headed back to KC

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 6:13pm

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) The die-hard, long-time Kansas City Royals fan from Seoul who became an international celebrity after he was superstitiously credited with sparking the team's playoff run created quite a scene at Kauffman Stadium Tuesday night before the World Series opener.

Fans clogged stadium concourses, snapping hundreds of photographs of Sung Woo Lee as he made his way to his seat before the first pitch. Lee posed for photos and waved to the adoring blue-clad Royals faithful.

Despite living more than 6,500 miles from Kansas City, Lee sure looked like a familiar face at the Royals' ballpark - and to some, he was.

After learning of his passion for their team, a group of American fans helped Lee arrange a visit to Kansas City in August so he could watch a Royals game in person for the first time. By the time Lee returned to Seoul, the Royals, perennial also-rans, had won nine out of 10 games and were in first place in their division, and Lee had gained widespread fame among sports fans in the United States and in South Korea.

The 38-year-old duty free shop employee is reluctant to make World Series predictions because of worries about jinxing the team. But he also said he can't help imagining a celebration with Royals' players in a champagne-soaked locker room.

Despite being considered a good luck charm by the club and its fan base, Lee said in a telephone interview Monday night that he doesn't feel any pressure.

"I just want to root for the team with fellow Royals fans as hard as I can," he said. "I will try to enjoy every moment."

Lee belongs to a generation of South Korean sports fans in their 30s and 40s who developed an attachment to American professional sports by watching a local TV network for U.S. servicemen stationed in South Korea to guard the heavily-armed border with North Korea.

Free from the obligations of supporting the "local" team, South Korean fans often developed interests in major league teams for quirky reasons. Some of them, for instance, began cheering for the New York Yankees because they thought the team had the best uniforms. Others supported the Atlanta Braves because of Fred McGriff's exaggerated swing motion.

Lee, who has more than 21,800 followers on Twitter, said he began supporting the Royals because he fell in love with Kauffman Stadium when he saw it in the early 90s in a short highlight package shown on what was then known as the American Forces Korea Network.

"The Royals won, and they did the fireworks show afterward with the fountain and the crown logo on the stadium in the background," Lee said. "It was amazing and beautiful."

An official from Lee's employer, Shinsegae Duty Free, thought that Lee's international celebrity was both surprising and amusing. As soon as the Royals reached the World Series, the company found itself receiving huge attention about whether it would allow Lee to attend. Lee joined Shinsegae just a month ago in a busy time when the company is preparing a bid for a new shop at the Incheon International Airport.

"We have arranged his vacation days so that he could stay in the U.S. throughout the run of the World Series," company official Lee Jeong-wook said. He added, with a laugh: "If the Royals win in four, his vacation will be cut short."

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Baseball Writer Ben Walker contributed to this report from Kansas City, Mo.

Kings GM: NHL should educate after Voynov's arrest

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 4:37pm

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi firmly supports the NHL's indefinite suspension of Slava Voynov, the quiet Russian defenseman arrested on suspicion of domestic violence.

Lombardi also believes the NHL must supplement its swift discipline with an improved plan to provide hockey players with better preparation for many aspects of life outside the rink.

"We need to do a better job," Lombardi said. "That's just the truth. I don't care if it's indicting ourselves or not."

The defending Stanley Cup champions uniformly backed the NHL's suspension of Voynov when they returned to practice at their training complex Tuesday.

Voynov hasn't been charged with a crime since his arrest early Monday morning, but Kings coach Darryl Sutter said the suspension was "very appropriate."

"We're pretty close as a team," Sutter added. "It's not just (a) team. It's more of a family thing. We deal with distractions all the time. We've been able to handle a lot of adversity and pressure for three years now."

Voynov's teammates spoke carefully about his absence, uniformly expressing surprise at the circumstances. The Kings still don't know the details of what happened between Voynov and the woman who was treated for injuries in the Torrance hospital where he was arrested.

Sutter went to Voynov's house in Redondo Beach after his arrest, but the Kings' contact with Voynov has been limited because he turned off his phone.

"Some of us have reached out to him, but we just hope everything is going to work out for the both of them," center Jarret Stoll said. "We're still a strong group. We're still a hockey team. We're still going to win games. Our goal has never changed. Our attitude in this room has never changed. It's adversity for us, but we're going to come through it."

The events are a shock for the Kings, who have won two of the last three Stanley Cup titles with an extraordinarily close-knit roster. Nearly every player lives a few miles apart in the South Bay beach cities, and Lombardi has kept the Kings' core largely intact for several years.

Lombardi assembled his roster with particular attention to team chemistry, but he believes Voynov's arrest should be a call for more player education on domestic violence and other off-ice concerns.

Before Voynov's arrest, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman expressed confidence in the league's education and counseling services already in place. Lombardi said he first thought about doing more for the Kings last year, and he kicks himself for ignoring his instinct.

"We have a bigger responsibility now," Lombardi said. "Just like we expect them to train, and we provide access to training physically, we provide meals so they eat properly, well, you know what? We've got a responsibility here now to train them in other areas, and I don't just mean having a guy come in and give a speech once a year. This is as much our organization's responsibility as anything. We have an obligation here, too. We have to do a better job in some of these areas."

Lombardi supports the NHL's decision to act aggressively before any charges, acknowledging the effect of the NFL's disastrous handling of the Ray Rice case and others.

"Now you have public awareness that would have never been there," Lombardi said. "I come from a lower, blue-collar neighborhood, a factory town, and we've seen this crap, and it's bad, and it happens a lot more often than we want to (acknowledge). But it's never going to come to the fore when a rat hits his wife. ... It can become a good thing overall, that now there's awareness. We've had issues in the past where sports teams swept it under the rug."

Lombardi and the Kings say they never had reason to suspect bad behavior from Voynov, a second-round draft pick in 2008 from Chelyabinsk, a large city in Siberia. Lombardi felt Voynov repeatedly demonstrated strong character and commitment to the club, starting from his U.S. arrival as a teenager.

Despite speaking little English, Voynov agreed to play for the Kings' AHL affiliate instead of staying in Russia's top league, where he would have made more money. He also stuck with the Kings when his father became ill back home, ignoring Russian teams' offers to take care of his family if he returned.

After cracking the Kings' lineup in 2011, Voynov established himself as a top-level defenseman, earning a $25 million contract extension and playing in the Sochi Olympics.

Voynov isn't likely to be charged for at least several days, and the Kings have no idea whether he will be suspended for weeks or months. The league's collective bargaining agreement doesn't spell out specific suspensions for specific charges, Lombardi said.

The Kings (4-1-1) have won four straight games heading into their visit from Buffalo on Thursday. Voynov's absence leaves them with just five healthy defensemen, but Jake Muzzin intends to return from injury.

"We have a group that has been through a lot," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "Maybe not like this, but we need to lean on past experiences and trust each other that we can refocus."

Broncos are still No. 1 in AP Pro32 rankings

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 4:09pm

NEW YORK (AP) It's almost unanimous: The Denver Broncos are still the top team in the NFL.

Denver received 11 first-place votes Tuesday for the AP Pro32 power rankings, which are decided by a 12-member media panel that regularly covers the league.

The Broncos (5-1) are coming off a 42-17 rout of the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night. Peyton Manning had 318 yards passing and four touchdowns, breaking Brett Favre's record for career TD passes.

"Would anyone be shocked if Peyton Manning threw 600 TD passes before he's finished?" asked Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune.

Manning and the Broncos host the AFC West rival San Diego Chargers on Thursday night.

Dallas (6-1) got the other first-place vote. The Cowboys topped the New York Giants 31-21 for their sixth consecutive victory. They are off to their best start since winning six of the first seven in 2007, when they went 13-3 and were the top seed in the NFC.

"Starting to look like the `93 Cowboys," NBC Sports' Tony Dungy said.

ESPN's Herm Edwards agreed.

"Another impressive win for the Cowboys," he said. "They keep rolling."

The Philadelphia Eagles moved up a spot to No. 3, followed by the Indianapolis Colts and the Arizona Cardinals.

"Another reminder that the Colts are not just as good as Andrew Luck," The Monday Morning Quarterback's Jenny Vrentas said of the Colts' 27-0 shutout of the skidding Cincinnati Bengals.

"Their defense is playing very well."

The Eagles will travel to Glendale, Arizona, to face the Cardinals on Sunday. The Cardinals are 5-1 for the first time in 38 years and are alone atop the NFC West, with a two-game cushion in the loss column over San Francisco and Seattle.

"Is anyone doing a better job coaching a football team than Bruce Arians?" asked Rick Gosselin of The Dallas Morning News.

"His Cardinals are the surprising leader of the NFC West."

After playing the Eagles, the Cardinals face the Cowboys on the road.

"Back-to-back games against Philadelphia and Dallas will prove whether the Cardinals are for real," Foxsports.com's Alex Marvez said.

The Green Bay Packers moved up from No. 9 to 6 after routing the Carolina Panthers 38-17.

"(Aaron) Rodgers bidding for MVP award," Fox Sports' John Czarnecki said.

The Chargers, who fell from No. 2 after a 23-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the New England Patriots, the Baltimore Ravens and the Detroit Lions round out the top 10.

"Fourth-quarter heroics from Matthew Stafford lead Detroit to a comeback win over the Saints and a share of first place in the NFC North," Newsday's Bob Glauber said.

The Ravens have won five of six and lead the AFC North.

"The Ravens are suddenly atop the AFC North," Vrentas said. "The next two weeks (at Bengals, at Steelers) hold a lot of weight for this division race."

The 49ers dropped from No. 6 to 11 after the rout in Denver, and the Seahawks went from No. 5 to 12 after their surprising loss to the St. Louis Rams.

"This doesn't look much like the team that won 16 times a year ago on the way to its first Lombardi Trophy," Gosselin said.

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AP NFL websites: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Cowboys release Michael Sam from practice squad

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 3:15pm

IRVING, Texas (AP) Michael Sam will have to wait for a third team to give the NFL's first openly gay player a chance to appear in a regular-season game.

The Dallas Cowboys released Sam from the practice squad Tuesday, dropping the rush end as they prepare for several potential reinforcements to return to the defensive line.

Sam spent seven weeks with the Cowboys after joining their practice squad Sept. 3, four days after he was among the final cuts by the St. Louis Rams at the end of the preseason. He was never placed on the 53-man active roster.

The Rams drafted the former SEC defensive player of the year from Missouri late in the seventh round in May. He was pick No. 249 out of 256. Sam had three sacks in the preseason with St. Louis playing mostly against second- and third-stringers.

Sam thanked the family of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on Twitter, along with "friends, family, teammates, and fans for their support."

"While this is disappointing, I will take the lessons I learned here in Dallas and continue to fight for an opportunity to prove that I can play every Sunday," Sam wrote.

The signing of Sam by the Cowboys brought an overflow crowd to coach Jason Garrett's daily news conference, and he was surrounded by about two dozen reporters in the only interview he conducted on the same day.

But he mostly blended in after that, making occasional appearances in the locker room when it was open to the media and earning praise from Garrett and defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Rod Marinelli the few times they were asked about him.

"Comes to work every day and practices hard," Garrett said last week. "One of 10 practice roster guys that we have, so he's working on his skills, trying to develop, but also doing a lot of other things. Playing offense, defense, playing the kicking game. That's what a lot of those guys do."

Sam came out to his Missouri teammates before his senior season, when he had 11 1/2 sacks. He told the rest of the world three months before the May draft. After Sunday's 31-21 win over the New York Giants, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told USA Today that Sam's sexuality was "a dead issue."

The Cowboys (6-1), off to their best start since they were 12-1 in 2007, are playing their second straight NFC East opponent at home, with Washington (2-5) visiting Monday night.

The Rams didn't keep Sam because they had depth on the defensive front. The same situation is developing for the Cowboys, who are among the league's worst in sacks but have been getting solid production with a rotation in the front four of a defense exceeding expectations.

Dallas has rookie second-round pick DeMarcus Lawrence close to coming back after breaking his right foot in training camp. He was placed on short-term injured reserve and will be eligible to play next week against Arizona.

Veteran defensive end Anthony Spencer gets stronger each week in his return from microfracture knee surgery that sidelined him all but one game last season.

Defensive tackle Josh Brent, who is serving a 10-game suspension for his intoxication manslaughter conviction in the 2012 death of teammate Jerry Brown, returns to practice next week. He will be eligible to play Nov. 23 at the Giants.

While releasing Sam, the Cowboys added linebacker Troy Davis of Central Florida and defensive tackle Ken Bishop of Northern Illinois to their practice squad.

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Online:

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

AP sources: Rice's appeal hearing set for Nov. 5-6

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 1:30pm

A hearing on Ray Rice's appeal of his indefinite suspension will be held Nov. 5 and 6, two people familiar with the situation said Tuesday.

The people spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because details of the hearing have not been made public.

Rice was suspended indefinitely Sept. 8 for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy after a video of Rice hitting his then-fiancee in an elevator was released publicly. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell originally had suspended Rice for two games.

Once the video became public, the Baltimore Ravens cut the star running back, and the league banned him indefinitely. The league considered the video to be new evidence, giving Goodell the authority to further suspend Rice.

The players' union is appealing Rice's suspension, saying Rice should not be punished twice.

A neutral arbiter is expected to decide whether Goodell should testify. The arbiter had not yet made that decision as of Tuesday afternoon, the sources who informed the AP of the hearing said.

The arbiter, former U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones, was jointly picked by the commissioner and the players' union. Union officials said when the appeal was announced that Goodell and his staff's testimony are key to the appeal and a central reason to have an outside arbiter.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Rob Maaddi can be reached on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ap-robmaaddi

NCAA: SI allegations vs Oklahoma St 'unfounded'

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 1:30pm

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) The Oklahoma State football program escaped its "day of reckoning" nearly unscathed.

The NCAA and the school announced Tuesday that allegations of widespread misconduct outlined in a Sports Illustrated expose last year were "fundamentally unfounded."

A joint inquiry by the NCAA and an independent investigator retained by the school, former NCAA enforcement official Chuck Smrt, reviewed approximately 50,000 emails and documents, and included nearly 100 interviews of current and former administrators, coaches, staff, athletes, students and prospects as well as alumni and donors.

Smrt said the number of emails and documents reviewed was unusually high for such a case, and the result of the search terms and large number of people involved.

"If we had done something wrong or were doing something wrong, we wanted to know," Oklahoma State President V. Burns Hargis said. "Based on that review, we learned that the Sports Illustrated claims of monetary payments for athletic achievements, improper academic assistance provided by our academic services staff, rampant drug use and inappropriate interaction with football players during recruiting trips were fundamentally unfounded."

Athletic director Mike Holder told The Associated Press last month that he wasn't sure what the investigation would find, but the "day of reckoning" was coming, and he had hoped the school would come out of it looking "like true Cowboys."

Hargis said three potential infractions were discovered and reported to the NCAA. He said "it appears we may have misapplied our drug testing policy and on-campus recruiting practices" and the policies have been modified.

Now that the investigation has concluded with mostly good results for the school, the stigma no longer hangs over football coach Mike Gundy's program.

"It's a big relief," Hargis said. "I'm gratified and I'm relieved, but I must say I'm not terribly surprised. It didn't come as a shock to me what happened. Even going back to when I first read the articles, what they were claiming was so opposite to my experience with this program and with coach Holder and coach Gundy, and it made no sense to me."

SI said it interviewed more than 60 former players and found evidence of potential NCAA violations under coaches Les Miles and current coach Gundy dating back to 2001. The series of stories included numerous former Oklahoma State players making allegations of cash payments to players, academic misconduct, inconsistent enforcement of drug policies and some of the school's recruiting hostesses having sex with prospects from 2001-10. Miles is now the coach at LSU.

The magazine issued a statement Tuesday defending its reporting.

"Sports Illustrated firmly stands behind its comprehensive series on the Oklahoma State program. The investigation by the NCAA and an outside consultant hired by Oklahoma State was limited in scope but nonetheless revealed multiple NCAA violations including a `failure to monitor,"' the magazine said. "Nowhere does the report say our work is fundamentally unfounded and in fact it points to its own limitations in its ability to corroborate SI's findings."

After the allegations, Hargis endorsed both Gundy, who has been leading the program since 2005, and Holder, who also took over his current role in 2005. None of the accusations directly implicated Gundy of inappropriate conduct.

According to the series, three former players told SI that they dealt marijuana while members of the 2001, `04 and `06 teams. Defensive end William Bell told SI he made between $300 and $400 each week selling marijuana. Thomas Wright said there was cocaine use at times.

The magazine named 13 former players who said they had work done for them or received other improper academic assistance. One of them, former receiver Artrell Woods, said he didn't write "a single paper" during his three years at Oklahoma State and simply typed what tutors dictated to him.

Some players described a weekly counseling session during the 2003 season for those who had tested positive for marijuana. SI reported that the sessions were allegedly reserved for top players who could attend and still continue to use marijuana without penalty.

Illinois head coach Tim Beckman, the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State in 2007 and 2008, and North Carolina coach Larry Fedora, the Cowboys' offensive coordinator from 2005-07, were among several people with previous affiliations with the program who disputed the allegations.

T. Boone Pickens, who has given more than $500 million to Oklahoma State for athletics and academics, said when the report was initially released that he was disappointed in Sports Illustrated, and the articles don't indicate what the program has become.

"You'd think people were running wild here, just breaking the rules," Hargis said. "It was so extreme, I think most people kind of read it and said this doesn't make sense."

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Online:

Oklahoma St investigation site: http://response.okstate.edu

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Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP

Thunder star Durant won't rush return from injury

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 1:13pm

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Thunder forward Kevin Durant is having a tough time getting used to the fact that he will miss the early part of the season with a bone fracture in his right foot.

"I've been antsy since I got out of surgery," he said Tuesday. "Seen that Chicago-Cleveland game last night, and I wanted to get out there and play. As a competitor, I love to play basketball - that's all I've been doing. Injuries have never had me out this long, but it's part of the game."

The reigning MVP spoke to the media Tuesday morning for the first time since the injury. He had surgery on Oct. 16 and will be re-evaluated in about five weeks, or late November. He rolled into the media session on a scooter with the lower half of his right leg in a cast.

Durant said he's never had surgery, so he doesn't know how he will respond to it. He says he won't rush his return.

"Blessed that it happened early in the season so I can get past it, and hopefully, by December, I'll be ready to play," he said.

Durant, who has played more minutes than anyone since entering the league in 2007, is finding other ways to contribute to the team.

"Just help out as much as possible, lead from where I am, which is the sideline," he said. "I feel like a coach, feel like (Alabama football coach) Nick Saban, rolling around on my scooter from court to court giving advice and trying to help out as much as I can. It's a different position for me, but I'm looking forward to growing mentally watching the game and learning from my teammates, trying to help them as much as I can."

He said the situation presents an opportunity for his teammates to grow, and he feels that the team will be better off in the long run as a result.

"It's going to give guys opportunities to play, build confidence, build their chemistry as a team," he said. "So I'm looking at the positive side of it. It's a win-win, basically, because I'm learning a lot while I'm out about the game, and my teammates are getting a lot of opportunities because it's a lot of minutes out there to play and help contribute to the team."

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Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP

Steelers rally past stunned Texans 30-23

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 7:47pm

PITTSBURGH (AP) The deluge started with a desperation third-down heave, a trickle that turned into a downpour and led to another abrupt turn in the Pittsburgh Steelers' confounding season.

Good one week and lousy the next, Pittsburgh managed to be both in a 30-23 victory over the mistake-prone Houston Texans on Monday night.

Ben Roethlisberger passed for two touchdowns and wide receiver Antonio Brown added another on a gadget play during a decisive 73-second stretch late in the first half that moved the Steelers from down 10 to an 11-point lead.

"You stand on the sidelines long enough, you will see explosions such as that," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "It was good to be on the good side of it."

Roethlisberger finished with 265 yards passing. Le'Veon Bell racked up 145 yards of total offense, including a 43-yard catch-and-run with less than 2 minutes to go in the first half that became the spark the Steelers desperately needed.

"That provided the type of emotion the group needed," Tomlin said. "Then we kind of fed off that. The guys really capitalized on it."

Arian Foster ran for 102 yards for Houston (3-4), but just 29 over the final three quarters. Ryan Fitzpatrick was 21 of 32 for 262 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, but the Texans were undone by three turnovers, including consecutive offensive snaps that handed the momentum over to the Steelers.

"We had a terrible second quarter," Houston coach Bill O'Brien said. "We couldn't come back from it. Just too many turnovers. We just had a hard time overcoming all those things."

Texans defensive end J.J. Watt recovered a fumble and picked up his third sack of the season but was neutralized for most of the second half.

Pittsburgh was listless for the first 25 minutes, letting Foster and Fitzpatrick do whatever they wanted as the Texans raced to a 13-0 lead that seemed larger.

A 44-yard Shaun Suisham field goal with 3:08 left in the half gave the Steelers a minor boost.

A strike from Roethlisberger to Bell provided a much larger one shortly after the 2-minute warning. Roethlisberger hit the versatile back for a 43-yard gain - Pittsburgh's longest pass play of the season - to move the ball to the Houston 35.

Roethlisberger then found Martavis Bryant, who struggled staying healthy in the preseason and spent the first six weeks on the inactive list, with a beautiful rainbow that the rookie caught in the back of the end zone to make it 13-10 with 1:27 left.

"Everybody started clicking," Bryant said. "Everybody woke up. It was good to make the play to have the team wake up, get the momentum going."

The Steelers were just getting started.

Foster fumbled deep in Houston territory two plays after Bryant's score and the Steelers recovered. Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who has faced heavy criticism for his play-calling, went deep into his book to help the Steelers take the lead.

On first-and-goal, Roethlisberger flipped the ball to Brown, who was coming in motion. The Pro Bowl wide receiver then spun back around to his left and fired a strike to Lance Moore in the end zone.

"We worked on it like two times in practice," Brown said. "The first time was a little funny but the second time it panned out."

Houston's issues escalated on the next snap when Fitzpatrick's throw over the middle was deflected into the arms of Pittsburgh defensive end Brett Keisel. The 36-year-old took the second pick of his career to the Houston 8.

Roethlisberger found Brown for a 6-yard gain and then hit Bell - who was uncovered after going in motion - for a touchdown.

The turnaround left Heinz Field euphoric and the Texans and Watt stunned.

The Steelers methodically added on in the second half, extending the lead to 14 points on a pair of Suisham field goals before a late scoring pass from Fitzpatrick to Foster provided the final margin.

The end played in stark contrast to the beginning, when the Texans dominated.

Fitzpatrick found rookie running back Alfred Blue for an 11-yard touchdown pass to end a 10-play, 94-yard drive on the Texans' opening possession before Watt went to work.

The MVP candidate recovered a Roethlisberger fumble, leading to a 39-yard field goal by Randy Bullock that gave Houston a 10-0 lead. Watt later dropped Roethlisberger for his third sack of the year.

It was the third time this season that Watt had a fumble recovery and a sack in the same game. No other player in the NFL has more than one.

Still, it couldn't stop the Texans from extending a slide that has erased the positive vibes from their promising 3-1 start.

NOTES: Bell became the first player in Steelers history to start the season with seven straight games of 100 yards of total offense. ... Texans WR Andre Johnson caught five passes for 77 yards to move past Hall of Famer Steve Largent and into 14th place on the NFL's career yards receiving list. ... Steelers RT Marcus Gilbert left in the first half with a concussion and did not return. ... Watt's fumble recovery was the ninth of his career, a new franchise record. ... The Steelers host Indianapolis on Sunday. The Texans travel to Tennessee.

World Series: How the Giants and Royals match up

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 7:08pm

A position-by-position look at the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals going into the World Series, starting Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium:

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First Base:

Giants: Brandon Belt. After missing 96 games this year because of a broken thumb and concussion, Belt had the big hit that decided the longest postseason game in major league history. His 18th-inning homer sent San Francisco to a Game 2 win at Washington in the NL Division Series. He gives a good at-bat and provides some pop from the left side of the plate. Steady defense, too.

Royals: Eric Hosmer. Drafted third overall in 2008, Hosmer is talented but inconsistent so far. The 24-year-old cleanup hitter certainly has taken to October baseball, batting .448 in the playoffs with a crucial triple, eight RBIs and two homers, including an extra-inning shot against the Angels. A key piece of Kansas City's rebuilding project, Hosmer has developed into a vocal cheerleader. The life of the party - with a Gold Glove on his mantel.

Edge: Royals.

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Second Base:

Giants: Joe Panik. The 23-year-old rookie rescued San Francisco at second base this season in the absence of injured Marco Scutaro, a 2012 postseason star. Panik's strength is a short, compact swing that produces consistently solid contact. The line-drive hitter batted .305 with one home run this year, then went deep in the NLCS against St. Louis. When he's under pressure, it seems Panik never does.

Royals: Omar Infante. Signed to a $30.25 million, four-year contract before the season, Infante was brought in to be a veteran solution at a trouble spot for Kansas City. The 2010 All-Star can handle the bat, and his playoff experience is a plus. Infante went 5 for 15 (.333) in the World Series for the Tigers two years ago, when they were swept by San Francisco.

Edge: Even.

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Shortstop:

Giants: Brandon Crawford. A player on the rise, Crawford is blossoming into more than just a slick fielder. He had 10 triples this season and became the first shortstop in history to hit a postseason grand slam when he connected in the NL wild-card game at Pittsburgh.

Royals: Alcides Escobar. Acquired when the Royals traded ace Zack Greinke to Milwaukee in a fruitful deal, Escobar is wiry and athletic with excellent range at shortstop. His bat is coming around, too, enough to land him in the leadoff spot for a Royals team that loves to run. He was 31 for 37 on stolen bases.

Edge: Royals.

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Third Base:

Giants: Pablo Sandoval. The popular Kung Fu Panda, a switch-hitting cleanup man, is more dangerous from the left side of the plate. He's been at his best in October, reaching base safely in a team-record 23 straight postseason games while batting .375 with six homers and 14 RBIs during that span. He hit three homers in the 2012 World Series opener on the way to MVP honors. Another clutch performance could help him cash in as a free agent this fall.

Royals: Mike Moustakas. Drafted second overall in 2007, "Moose" has yet to live up to lofty expectations. But he and Hosmer form the Kansas City cornerstones at the corners of the diamond, and both have delivered in their first trip to the postseason. After a brief demotion to the minors this year, Moustakas rediscovered his power stroke with four playoff homers - two in extra innings. He also made two spectacular defensive plays in one ALCS game against Baltimore.

Edge: Giants.

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Catcher:

Giants: Buster Posey. Perhaps the closest thing to Derek Jeter the West Coast has to offer, Posey is chasing his third championship in five full seasons. Just about everything he does on the field comes right out of a textbook, and he's already won awards for NL Rookie of the Year (2010) and NL MVP (2012). The Royals' running game presents a challenge, though.

Royals: Salvador Perez. A two-time All-Star with a Gold Glove by age 24, Perez is already a respected backstop who adds thump to the lineup and keeps the clubhouse loose. He batted only .118 during the playoffs without an extra-base hit, but his 12th-inning single won an AL wild-card thriller against Oakland. One thing to watch: Perez is big for a catcher, and he keeps getting dinged in the head with backswings.

Edge: Giants.

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Left Field:

Giants: Travis Ishikawa. The most unlikely star of this postseason, Ishikawa sent the Giants to the World Series with the first home run to end an NLCS in Game 5 against St. Louis. He batted .385 with seven RBIs in the series after beginning the season as Pittsburgh's opening-day first baseman. A true journeyman, Ishikawa was a part-time role player on San Francisco's title team in 2010. Now he's back, carving out a spot in left field while Michael Morse was injured.

Royals: Alex Gordon. Drafted second overall in 2005 out of Nebraska, Gordon is probably the nearest Kansas City gets to having an MVP contender. The converted third baseman has three Gold Gloves, and his brilliant defense was on full display in the ALCS. A two-time All-Star, Gordon had a team-high nine RBIs in eight playoff games.

Edge: Royals.

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Center Field:

Giants: Gregor Blanco. Filling in for injured Angel Pagan, Blanco is a fine defender who has struggled offensively in the leadoff spot. Following a pretty solid season, he went 7 for 44 (.159) in the playoffs with one extra-base hit. He does have a sharp eye, though.

Royals: Lorenzo Cain. A smooth glider in the outfield, Cain batted .301 with 28 steals this season and is just beginning to tap into his prodigious talent. He made a string of sensational playoff catches and hit .533 with five runs during the ALCS to earn MVP honors. Not bad for a guy who didn't even know the rules or how to hold a bat when he first turned out for organized baseball as a sophomore in high school. Kansas City obtained him in the same trade that brought Escobar.

Edge: Royals.

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Right Field:

Giants: Hunter Pence. The durable Pence gets plenty of attention for his odd style and quirky ways, but don't forget how good a player he is. Pence signed a $90 million, five-year contract last offseason to stay with San Francisco and made his third All-Star team. A health nut and vocal leader for the tried-and-tested Giants, he has played in 383 consecutive games.

Royals: Nori Aoki. A pesky contact hitter, Aoki has a .353 on-base percentage in three major league seasons since arriving from Japan. He was acquired last December in a trade with Milwaukee and can become a free agent after the World Series. Not much power this season, but he can still run and play defense.

Edge: Giants.

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Designated Hitter:

Giants: Michael Morse. In his first season with San Francisco, Morse got off to a strong start before fading and finished with 16 homers and 61 RBIs. He has only six at-bats since Aug. 31 because of a strained oblique, but he tied the NLCS clincher with a pinch-hit homer in the eighth inning. He offers legitimate right-handed power and seems a good fit for DH in Kansas City.

Royals: Billy Butler. Another first-round draft pick (2004) and homegrown fan favorite, Butler is a right-handed bopper in the middle of the lineup who knows how to knock in runs. His power and slugging numbers were down this season, but the 2012 All-Star remains dangerous. Butler probably will be relegated to the bench under National League rules in San Francisco.

Edge: Royals.

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Starting Pitchers:

Giants: After riding their splendid rotation to championships in 2010 and 2012, the Giants return this time with a much different group. Madison Bumgarner is now the workhorse ace, supplanting injured Matt Cain and inconsistent Tim Lincecum. Bumgarner, an 18-game winner and the NLCS MVP, gets the ball on regular rest in Game 1 after going 2-1 with a 1.42 ERA in four playoff starts. He'll try to extend his postseason streak of 26 2-3 scoreless innings on the road, a major league record. The big left-hander has thrown 15 shutout innings in World Series play, winning both his starts while allowing a total of five hits. Hard to believe he's only 25. The other aging starters may not be asked to go as deep. Fired-up Jake Peavy, acquired in a late July trade, is back in the World Series after making it with Boston last year. Veteran newcomer Tim Hudson is set to pitch in his first Series at 39. Ryan Vogelsong is 3-0 with a 2.16 ERA in six postseason outings, including a scoreless Series win in 2012. His only October blip came in the NLCS this year against St. Louis. The starters had a 2.40 ERA in 10 playoff games.

Royals: James Shields gave the staff an experienced No. 1 starter when he was obtained from Tampa Bay for several top prospects before the 2013 season. "Big Game James" will pitch the Series opener on 10 days' rest, hoping to improve his postseason numbers. The right-hander, who can become a free agent this fall, went 1-0 with a 5.63 ERA in three playoff starts and is 3-4 with a 5.19 mark in nine career postseason games. He's also the rare Royals player with World Series experience. Shields pitched 5 2-3 scoreless innings for the Rays in a 2008 win over Philadelphia. Hard-throwing rookie Yordano Ventura was 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA this season. He had a 4.85 ERA in three playoff outings, though one of them came in an unfamiliar relief role. Ventura left his ALCS start with shoulder tightness, but he's had plenty of time to rest. As expected, left-hander Jason Vargas was a steady presence after the Royals signed the free agent to a $32 million, four-year contract last offseason. Veteran right-hander Jeremy Guthrie has pitched only once all month, but he threw five effective innings in the ALCS.

Edge: Giants, barely, thanks to Bumgarner.

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Bullpen:

Giants: Many faces are the same from San Francisco's two title runs this decade, but a couple of key roles have changed. Santiago Casilla was promoted from setup man to closer during the season when Sergio Romo struggled. Romo is now setting up Casilla, on a dominant roll dating to September. Casilla has four postseason saves and hasn't permitted a run in 6 2-3 innings. Romo is 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA in seven games. Experienced southpaws Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez are very tough on lefties. Affeldt has made 18 consecutive scoreless appearances in the postseason, Casilla 17 and Lopez 15. Fireballing rookie Hunter Strickland has been prone to the home run ball. Lincecum, an October relief weapon two years ago, was bumped to the bullpen again this year but has not pitched in the postseason. Yusmeiro Petit provided a huge boost in long relief during the playoffs, going 2-0 with 11 strikeouts in nine shutout innings of two-hit ball.

Royals: The nasty 1-2-3 punch of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and All-Star closer Greg Holland (46/48 saves) in the final three innings gave Kansas City a winning formula all season. The playoffs were no different. Holland has six saves and a 1.13 ERA in eight postseason games. Davis is 2-0 with a 0.96 ERA, and Herrera has a 1.08 mark in seven appearances. All three have struck out 10. Jason Frasor also is effective and 21-year-old lefty Brandon Finnegan, who pitched for TCU in the College World Series in June, has showed poise out of the `pen. Danny Duffy, normally a starter, is ready in long relief if needed.

Edge: Royals, barely.

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Bench:

Giants: A relatively inexperienced group that includes Juan Perez, Matt Duffy and catcher Andrew Susac. Veteran infielder Joaquin Arias is still around, and Morse or Ishikawa would provide a power threat back home in San Francisco. There's some speed here, but it would still be a stretch to call this unit a strength.

Royals: Speedy reserve Jarrod Dyson stole 36 bases this season and often subs in center field, shifting Cain to right. Dyson made a big throw in the AL Division Series against the Angels and had a huge steal in the wild-card game against Oakland. Watch out for him swiping third when he gets the chance. Lightning-fast track star Terrance Gore comes on as a pinch runner when the Royals play for one. Josh Willingham and Butler (in San Francisco) can supply right-handed power to counter those lefties in the Giants' bullpen.

Edge: Royals.

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Manager:

Giants: Bruce Bochy. Seeking his third World Series ring in five years, the unassuming Bochy is building a Hall of Fame resume. His masterful use of the bullpen has been a consistent theme throughout San Francisco's run of 15 wins in its last 17 postseason games. Nobody has a better feel for his team.

Royals: Ned Yost. Once fired by Milwaukee in the middle of a September playoff race, Yost guided Kansas City to its first postseason berth in 29 years and the franchise's third pennant overall. Must be pretty satisfying. Some of his puzzling moves have left Royals fans up in arms, but Yost pushed the right buttons against Baltimore in the ALCS and now he's the toast of the town. We'll see if it stays that way.

Edge: Giants.

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Pick: Giants in 6.

Irving scores 28 as Cavs beat Bulls 107-98

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 6:36pm

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) LeBron James was the star attraction but Kyrie Irving stole the show with 28 points to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 107-98 win against the Chicago Bulls in an exhibition game Monday night at Ohio State.

Irving had 20 points in the second half. James had 18 points in 31 minutes in his first game in Columbus since rejoining the Cavaliers this summer from the Miami Heat.

Derrick Rose led Chicago with 30 points.

Chicago was without guard Jimmy Butler (thumb). His replacement in the starting lineup, Kirk Hinrich, had two points in 16 minutes.

Harvin not 'perfect,' happy for chance with Jets

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 2:49pm

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Percy Harvin has been called lots of things during his NFL career.

Talented but injury prone. Explosive on the field and combustible off. A playmaker but a troublemaker.

The New York Jets' newest wide receiver doesn't deny he has had some issues. But he also wants to be judged from what he does starting now, not just his checkered past.

"I'm definitely not a perfect person," Harvin said after his first practice with his new team Monday. "I have a lot of things that I wish I could have done a little differently. But I'm moving forward. I'm learning from those lessons.

"I'm happy to be here right now and looking to make the most out of it," he said.

The Jets and Seattle Seahawks completed a deal Saturday in which New York sent a conditional draft pick to Seattle for Harvin. Jets general manager John Idzik thought the potential payoff in acquiring a player with Harvin's type of versatility and game-breaking skills outweighed the risks involved.

"I look at it," Idzik said, "as this could be a potential coup for the New York Jets."

Harvin was "shocked" by the trade and it came as a surprise to most in NFL circles. After all, the Seahawks parted ways with a player who helped them win a Super Bowl last season.

But at 26, Harvin has been traded twice already now, including by Minnesota, the team that took him in the first round of the 2009 NFL draft. The Jets were extremely interested in Harvin during that draft process before trading up to take quarterback Mark Sanchez.

Harvin has played in 60 games with only 47 career starts. He was traded to the Seahawks in 2013 for a 2013 first-round and seventh-round draft choice and a 2014 third-rounder, but appeared in just one regular-season game in 2013 because of hip surgery. But Harvin ran back a second-half kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown in Seattle's 43-8 rout of Denver in the Super Bowl.

Harvin is also a player who is injury prone and has had some questions about his character and interactions. Harvin acknowledged that he had "incidents" in the locker room with former Seahawks teammates Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin, but declined to give details.

"The way I go about my business is by keeping everything in-house, but for whatever reason, they decided to unleash things," Harvin said. "Some things did happen. That's in the past. We've moved forward and I've talked to Golden and Doug. We've all moved forward from it. I'm here now and I'm moving on."

Jets right tackle Breno Giacomini, Harvin's teammate in Seattle last season, said the incidents are being "blown up for no reason" and "wasn't like it was this big, huge boxing match."

"Almost everybody in this locker room has been in a fight before," Giacomini said. "We play football, you know what I'm saying? Oh, it happened twice? Who cares? He's a good competitor. That's what it is. I know it was squashed right away with Golden because I was there, and I heard the same thing about Doug. I think it's being blown up."

Harvin said he was "frustrated" about the way the Seahawks were using him in the offense.

"Not that I didn't like what I was doing, I just wanted to do a little bit more," he said. "As a receiver, I wanted to just get downfield just a little bit more than I was doing."

Harvin did not approach his coaches about his unhappiness, but also didn't request a trade - and insisted he harbors no ill will toward the Seahawks.

"They brought me a Super Bowl," he said.

Idzik said he had thorough discussions with Seahawks general manager John Schneider, a close friend whom Idzik has known before their days working together in Seattle, and was comfortable that Harvin wouldn't become a disruptive force in the Jets' locker room.

So was coach Rex Ryan, who didn't even want to discuss Harvin's past issues.

"I don't think I need to," Ryan said. "To me, things happen and every single guy has had something, but to me, it's just all about right now and moving forward."

Idzik said he had "substantive talks" with Seattle last week before the Jets' game at New England last Thursday night, but the discussions "crystallized" after the team's 27-25 loss - its sixth straight.

"It became evident that this was a real possibility," Idzik said, "and eventually we pulled the trigger."

Idzik insisted the move was to help the 1-6 Jets improve - not a result of public pressure or criticism. The GM has been highly criticized for not providing second-year quarterback Geno Smith and the rest of the offense enough playmakers in the offseason.

"I think it brings an explosive talent to our team," coach Rex Ryan said. "It should be fun to watch."

Ryan said Harvin will serve as the team's kick returner on Sunday against Buffalo, and his involvement in the offense would be based on how quickly he picks up Marty Mornhinweg's system.

"It's definitely a place I want to be for a long time," Harvin said. "I'm here, I'm glad I'm here and I'm going to make the most of the opportunity."

Florida AD: Muschamp safe until season's end

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 1:53pm

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) Florida coach Will Muschamp is getting at least another game to turn things around.

Athletic director Jeremy Foley said Monday that he will continue to evaluate the season - and likely Muschamp's future - "as it plays out."

That means Muschamp will be on the sideline when the Gators (3-3, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) play ninth-ranked Georgia in Jacksonville on Nov. 1.

Foley released a 40-word statement that did little to sway belief that Muschamp's job is in serious jeopardy following consecutive home losses to teams that previously struggled in SEC play.

"At the beginning of the season we said we would evaluate the season as it plays out," Foley said. "We will continue to do so. Our sole focus right now is supporting our coaching staff and players as they prepare for Georgia."

The Gators are coming off back-to-back losses to LSU and Missouri. The latest one, a 42-13 debacle to Mizzou on Saturday night, was one of the most embarrassing losses in Muschamp's three-plus years in Gainesville.

Florida committed six turnovers, including two that were returned for touchdowns, and allowed two special teams scores. Chants of "Fire Muschamp" started in the third quarter and could be heard throughout an emptying Florida Field the rest of the night.

The defeat was Florida's second straight on homecoming, the first time that's happened in Gainesville since 1947.

It dropped Muschamp's record to 25-19, including 15-14 in conference play.

And it could be worse. The Gators could be 0-5 in league play considering they eked out a win against Kentucky in triple overtime and edged Tennessee 10-9 two weeks ago.

Missouri's victory was never in doubt.

The Tigers returned the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown and cruised from there. They also returned a punt for a touchdown, returned a fumble for a score and returned an interception for a touchdown and a 42-0 lead.

Florida allowed just seven first downs and 119 total yards, but lost for the second time in Muschamp's tenure when giving up less than 120 yards. No other Football Bowl Subdivision team has done that even once in the last decade.

Foley voiced strong support for Muschamp late last year, backing him during the team's seven-game losing streak that led to the program's first losing record since 1979.

Muschamp responded by firing two offensive coaches, a move that got him another year to change the team's direction.

Muschamp opened this season by telling anyone and everyone that this was the most talented offensive team he's had in four years. He changed his tune somewhat Saturday, saying the offensive line isn't good enough to protect for quarterback Jeff Driskel.

"We've got to identify some things that we can be consistent with offensively," Muschamp said on his weekly television show Sunday. "In our first six games, we have not done anything offensively. We did against Kentucky a little bit, got some ball movement. We did against LSU at times. But against Tennessee, against Alabama and (Saturday), we couldn't get anything going."

Driskel has 12 turnovers in his last four games and has clearly lost confidence.

The Gators used a two-quarterback system with Driskel and freshman Treon Harris, who fumbled and threw an interception. The Gators have a bye this week, and it's unclear what they will do before facing Georgia.

The Bulldogs have won three in a row in the series.

No. 2 Florida St rallies past No. 5 Irish, 31-27

Sat, 10/18/2014 - 9:08pm

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Jameis Winston prevailed after another week of controversy and threw for 273 yards and two touchdowns to lead No. 2 Florida State to 31-27 win over No. 5 Notre Dame on Saturday.

The Seminoles (7-0, 5-0 ACC) used a second-half comeback with the season on the line to topple the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame (6-1) is the last ranked team FSU's schedule and the win may be its last chance to make a decisive impression on the College Football Playoff selection committee.

Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson threw for 313 yards and three touchdowns, but Winston won the duel in the second half as he completed his first 13 passes against a defense that had Florida State flustered for the first 30 minutes.

The Irish moved to the 2-yard line on the final drive, but an offensive pass interference call killed the drive.

Florida State said this week it was investigating whether Winston received benefits for autographs being sold online.

No. 12 TCU routs No. 15 Oklahoma State 42-9

Sat, 10/18/2014 - 4:35pm

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) Trevone Boykin threw for a career-high 410 yards with three touchdowns, two on long plays to Josh Doctson in the first quarter, and No. 12 TCU emphatically bounced back with a 42-9 victory over No. 15 Oklahoma State on Saturday.

Doctson had seven catches for 225 yards, a yard short of TCU's school record even with the scores of 77 and 84 yards. B.J. Catalon ran for 102 yards and two scores for the Horned Frogs (5-1, 2-1 Big 12).

Oklahoma State (5-2, 3-1), which had won five in a row, was outgained 676 to 258 and held without a touchdown for the first time since a 27-0 loss to Oklahoma in the 2009 regular season finale.

TCU quickly erased any notion of a hangover effect from its wild 61-58 loss at Baylor a week earlier, jumping ahead 21-3 on Doctson's early touchdowns.

No. 7 Alabama steamrolls No. 21 Texas A&M 59-0

Sat, 10/18/2014 - 4:05pm

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) Blake Sims passed for 268 yards and three touchdowns and scored on a 43-yard run while leading No. 7 Alabama to 35 second-quarter points and a 59-0 pummeling of No. 21 Texas A&M on Saturday.

The Crimson Tide (6-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) shut down the nation's No. 4 offense and dominated a game that had produced two straight thrillers.

Led by Sims, T.J. Yeldon and Amari Cooper, Alabama outgained the Aggies 602-172. Texas A&M (5-3, 2-3) has lost its past three games, all to teams now ranked in the top 10.

Alabama set a school record for most points in a quarter and matched the second-most scored in a half while racing to a 45-0 halftime lead.

Yeldon had 114 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries, all in the first half. Cooper gained 140 yards on eight catches with a pair of touchdowns.

Bumgarner gets nod for Giants World Series opener

Sat, 10/18/2014 - 3:31pm

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) The reliable southpaw is getting the ball for another important Game 1.

Left-hander Madison Bumgarner will pitch the World Series opener for the San Francisco Giants at Kansas City on Tuesday.

Manager Bruce Bochy made the expected announcement Saturday as his team worked out under sunny skies, one day before traveling. Bumgarner, an 18-game winner, was voted NL Championship Series MVP as the Giants beat the St. Louis Cardinals in five games.

Despite MadBum's high innings, Bochy wasn't worried about the 18-game winner. Bumgarner didn't get a decision in the pennant clincher against the Cardinals on Thursday night.

"I think I would've insulted him if I checked with him," Bochy said. "He's a big, strong guy. His last game I thought he had great stuff. It's not like he's thrown 120-130 pitches. His workload has been under control."

Bochy is keeping his rotation the same as the first two rounds of the postseason. Right-hander Jake Peavy will pitch Game 2 on Wednesday, followed by 39-year-old right-hander Tim Hudson in his World Series debut Thursday at AT&T Park and then righty Ryan Vogelsong.

Yusmeiro Petit, who has twice provided a huge lift as a long man, will stay in his role as Bochy stuck with Vogelsong in the rotation.

"Petit in the job he's done in that role that we've had him in, you go back to Washington and without Petit it's hard to say what would have happened," Bochy said. "In St. Louis he went out there and gave us three big innings. He's a great swingman. Vogey, he threw a great game against Washington. He had a little bit of a hiccup but no, I didn't think about changing."

Unused two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum will make the roster. Bochy didn't expect to make any changes from the 25 players used in the NLCS.

Lincecum pitched the Game 5 World Series clincher at Texas in 2010, then held a key role as a reliever in the 2012 championship run. Lincecum pitched his second no-hitter June 25 against San Diego but hasn't pitched since Sept. 28.

"I've been thinking about Timmy, trust me," Bochy said. "Timmy's done a lot for us, and we know that."

Lincecum was undergoing treatment for a a problem that developed overnight.

"Timmy's got a stiff neck right now but we talked about him throwing to hitters today," Bochy said. "He'll be back tomorrow, but he's still on the roster. I don't think it's serious. ... I'm pretty sure at some point he'll be in the game."

Bochy didn't announce a designated hitter, though Michael Morse is the obvious candidate. He has been unable to play left field and hasn't started since late August because of an oblique injury, but hit a tying pinch homer in the 6-3 Game 5 NLCS win.

"I haven't got the order set, DH," Bochy said. "Right now we don't have any plans to change our roster. Now that doesn't mean we can't change our mind as we look at this further."

West Virginia surprises No. 4 Baylor 41-27

Sat, 10/18/2014 - 1:16pm

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) Clint Trickett threw three touchdown passes and West Virginia surprised sloppy No. 4 Baylor 41-27 Saturday.

The Mountaineers (5-2, 3-1 Big 12) earned their first win over a top five opponent since the Fiesta Bowl after the 2007 season.

West Virginia sacked Baylor's Bryce Petty four times and limited the Bears to one touchdown after halftime.

Baylor was penalized 18 times for a Big 12-record 215 yards. Seven were for pass interference.

Trickett went 23 of 35 for 322 yards, his eighth straight 300-yard game going back to last season.

Baylor (6-1, 3-1) couldn't overcome a double-digit deficit as it did in a 61-58 victory against TCU last week.

Jets announce trade for receiver Percy Harvin

Sat, 10/18/2014 - 10:20am

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) The New York Jets announced Saturday they have acquired wide receiver Percy Harvin from the Seattle Seahawks for a conditional draft pick.

Making official a trade that was reported Friday, the Jets get a star from last season's Super Bowl but a player who is injury prone. Harvin brings versatility and game-breaking skills to the Jets, who have lost their last six games to fall to 1-6.

New York released receiver David Nelson to make room for Harvin.

General manager John Idzik called Harvin a "dynamic player who has been productive on offense and special teams." Seahawks general manager John Schneider noted Harvin's contributions to the Super Bowl and called the decision to trade him "extremely difficult."

"We are constantly evaluating our team and believe at this time that this is in our best interest to move the team forward," Schneider said.

The 26-year-old receiver has played in 60 games with only 47 career starts since being a first-round pick by Minnesota in 2009. He was traded to the Seahawks in 2013 for a 2013 first-round and seventh-round draft choice and a 2014 third-rounder.

He appeared in just one regular-season game in 2013 because of hip surgery. But Harvin ran back the second-half kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown in Seattle's 43-8 rout of Denver in the Super Bowl.

Harvin has battled a thigh injury and was listed as questionable for the Seahawks' game at St. Louis this weekend before the trade was completed. The Seahawks have tried to find ways to use him - runner, receiver and special teams - but the injury woes slowed their plans.

This season, Harvin has 22 receptions for 133 yards, with 12 of those catches coming behind the line of scrimmage. He has only one catch on a ball thrown more than 10 yards, according to STATS. Harvin's average of 6 yards per catch is last among all wide receivers in the NFL averaging at least two receptions a game.

He also has 11 runs for 92 yards and a touchdown, and 12 kickoff returns for 283 yards.

New York's offense has struggled. Harvin figures to team with Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley as the Jets' main weapons in a so-far weak passing game with Geno Smith at quarterback.

As a rookie, he made the Pro Bowl and the Offensive Rookie of the Year. Harvin's best season was 2011, with 87 receptions for 967 yards and six TDs. He also rushed for 345 yards and two scores, and averaged 32.5 yards per kickoff return.

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AP Sports Writer Dennis Waszak Jr. contributed to this report.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

AP Sources: Seahawks trade Percy Harvin to Jets

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 5:44pm

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) The New York Jets have acquired wide receiver Percy Harvin from the Seattle Seahawks.

Two people familiar with the trade told The Associated Press on Friday that Harvin, a star in last season's Super Bowl but injury prone through his career, was headed to the Jets. The people spoke anonymously because the deal wasn't officially announced by either club.

The 26-year-old Harvin has played in 60 games with only 47 career starts since being a first-round pick (22nd overall) by Minnesota in 2009. He was traded to the Seahawks in 2013, appearing in just one regular-season game because of hip surgery. But he had two rushes for 45 yards and ran back the second-half kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown in Seattle's 43-8 win over Denver in the Super Bowl.

New York gave up a conditional draft pick. The deal was first reported by Fox Sports.

Harvin has battled a thigh injury and was listed as questionable for the Seahawks' game at St. Louis this weekend. The Seahawks have tried to find a variety of ways to use him in their offense as a runner, receiver and on special teams, but injury woes slowed their plans.

This season, Harvin has 22 receptions for 133 yards, with 12 of those catches coming behind the line of scrimmage. He has only one catch on a ball thrown more than 10 yards, according to STATS. Harvin's average of 6 yards per catch is last among all wide receivers in the NFL averaging at least two receptions per game.

He also has 11 runs for 92 yards and a touchdown, and 12 kickoff returns for 283 yards.

New York's offense has struggled and the Jets have lost six straight since opening with a win over Oakland. Harvin figures to team with Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley as the Jets' main weapons in a so-far weak passing game with Geno Smith at quarterback.

As a rookie, he made the Pro Bowl and the Offensive Rookie of the Year. Harvin's best season was 2011 with 87 receptions for 967 yards and six TDs. He also rushed for 345 yards and two scores, and averaged 32.5 yards per kickoff return.

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AP Sports Writer Tim Booth and freelance writer Curtis Crabtree in Seattle contributed to this report.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

World Series: Seasoned Giants vs fresh Royals

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 4:31pm

Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain and the go-go-go Kansas City Royals played perfect ball to zip through the playoffs. Plus, they recently flattened Buster Posey and his Giants.

So how come this bunch that's rapidly become a fan favorite all across the country isn't the favorite against San Francisco in the World Series?

"When I look at the Royals, I see a team on a terrific run. There was magic on their side, where everything they did went absolutely right," said Las Vegas oddsmaker Johnny Avello, head of the sports book at the Wynn.

"But I don't get into the `darling' stuff," he said Friday. "I have to encompass everything and figure out who's the better team, and that's the Giants."

We'll see what's next in this tight, tense postseason starting Tuesday night when the seasoned Giants visit the fresh Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

A pair of teams with dominant bullpens, the talent to make tremendous catches and a touch for grinding out key runs.

Both of them wild-card teams, too. Of course, come this late in October, no one is really a wild card anymore.

Reigning NL Championship Series MVP Madison Bumgarner, former World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval and Giants manager Bruce Bochy are aiming for their third ring in five seasons.

At 39, Tim Hudson is headed with them, going to his first World Series. A four-time All-Star with 214 wins, he left his longtime home in Atlanta and signed with the Giants last November.

Hudson was swayed by an intangible that he'd seen from the other side - San Francisco's knack for playing especially well at this time of year.

"They know how to win when it matters. There's something different whenever this team gets in the playoffs. They know what buttons to push. They know what guys need to do in certain situations. That's all that matters," Hudson said.

"That's why I'm playing, that's why I'm here, that's why I decided to come to the Giants," he said.

Already 8-0 this postseason, the Royals are back in the Series for the first time since George Brett and Bret Saberhagen helped them win it all in 1985.

There were a lot of lean years in the interim.

Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt, the winning pitcher in the NLCS clincher Thursday night against the Cardinals, played for Kansas City from 2002-06 - the Royals lost 100 games in three of those seasons.

"Well, I'm sure there's a lot of excitement," Affeldt said. "There's a lot of people that have been fans for a long time in that area and been waiting to see this since 1985."

"When I played there, I think they thought they were overdue then, and that was, I don't know, seven, eight years ago," he said. "There's going to be some energy in that stadium. And they have remodeled it ... it's pretty impressive to see the amount of blue in these seats during those games."

Affeldt and the Giants got a close-up at these Royals in August, getting swept in a three-game series at Kansas City.

Gordon homered twice in the series, outfielder Nori Aoki threw out two runners in an inning, the Royals stole seven bases in a game and they beat Bumgarner, Hudson and Tim Lincecum.

"It doesn't matter what it was," Royals manager Ned Yost said Friday. "This is a whole different ballgame now. This is the World Series. This isn't a three-game series in August."

Yost, by the way, grew up in the Bay Area rooting for the Giants.

Even though they met two months ago, there's not a lot of history between the teams. They faced each other only twice in spring training in Arizona, and the Royals haven't played in San Francisco since 2005, back when Barry Bonds was the biggest name in town.

Closer Greg Holland, Mike Moustakas and the Royals will be at AT&T Park for Game 3 on Friday night. It was 25 years ago that an earthquake minutes before Game 3 rattled Candlestick Park and postponed the World Series between the Giants and Oakland Athletics. The Series shift means no designated hitter in the NL park, costing Royals DH Billy Butler a spot. Yost spent most of his career in NL, coaching in Atlanta and managing in Milwaukee.

"It's a fun style. I've never really managed two styles in one series," Yost said. "It's a different type. There are a lot more things that are involved."

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