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Royals rout Giants 10-0 to force Game 7 in SeriesExternal Link

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (AP) Lorenzo Cain hit a two-run single and Eric Hosmer lined a two-run double over shortstop in a seven-run second inning as the Kansas City Royals battered the San Francisco Giants 10-0 Tuesday to force a decisive Game 7 in the World Series.

Yordano Ventura, a 23-year-old rookie pitching with a heavy heart and the initials of late St. Louis outfielder Oscar Taveras on his cap, allowed three hits over seven stifling innings as the Series drew level at three games each.

"This is what we all prepared for. This is why we play the game," Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said.

As bouncers rolled by infielders and bloops dropped in front of outfielders, the raucous roar at Kauffman Stadium swelled with every hit in the second and then got louder the rest of the night. Lorenzo Cain looped a two-run single - one of eight Royals to get hits in the seven-run burst - and Hosmer chopped a two-run double over shortstop.

"Guys stepped up in a big way tonight," Cain said.

Jeremy Guthrie starts Wednesday night for Kansas City and Tim Hudson for San Francisco in a rematch of Game 3, won by Kansas City 3-2. Hudson, 39, will become the oldest Game 7 starter in Series history.

"We're confident," the Royals' Billy Butler said. "Jeremy, every time out, gives us a chance to win."

Lurking is Madison Bumgarner, ready to pitch in relief after suffocating the Royals on a total of one run in winning Games 1 and 5. Giants manager Bruce Bochy elected not to start him on two days' rest.

"This guy is human. I mean, you can't push him that much," Bochy said. "He'll be available if we need him, but to start him, I think that's asking a lot."

Kansas City can be comfortable in this bit of history: Home teams have won nine straight Game 7s in the Series since Pittsburgh's victory at Baltimore in 1979, including the Royals' 11-0 rout of St. Louis in 1985. And the Giants have lost all four of their World Series finales pushed to the limit.

"I had a very, very strong feeling that whoever won Game 6 was going to win Game 7," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We have to wait until tomorrow to see if my theory's correct."

Teams with the home-field advantage have won 23 of the last 28 titles, including five in a row. This Series has followed the exact pattern of the only other all-wild card matchup in 2002, when the Giants won the opener, fell behind 2-1, took a 3-2 lead and lost the last two games at Anaheim.

"I can't wait to get out there tomorrow and have some fun," Hudson said.

There was a moment of silence before the game in honor of Taveras, the 22-year-old killed in an automobile accident Sunday in the Dominican Republic. Ventura wrote "RIP O.T (hash)18" in silver marker on the left side of his cap and brought a Dominican flag to his postgame interview.

"From the minute that I found out about Oscar, I said this game was going to be dedicated to him," Ventura said through a translator. "I prepared myself mentally and physically for this game, and I'm very proud to be a Dominican, and that's why I brought the flag."

He escaped his only trouble in the third, when he walked the bases loaded with one out and got Buster Posey to ground a fastball into a double play. Ventura threw fastballs on 81 of 100 pitches, reaching up to 100 mph (160 kph). Yost was able to rest the hard-throwing back of his bullpen: Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis enter Game 7 with two days off and closer Greg Holland with four.

Kansas City out-hit the Giants 15-6 in another blowout in the first Series in which five games were decided by five runs or more. All nine Royals had hits by the third, matching the mark set by Arizona against the Yankees in Game 6 in 2001.

Cain drove in three runs and was among six Royals with two hits each. Mike Moustakas homered in the seventh against Hunter Strickland, ending a 36-inning homerless streak in the Series, the longest since 1945.

Peavy was charged with five runs and six hits in 1 1-3 innings, leaving with a career Series record of 0-2 with a 9.58 ERA in three starts. His record at Kauffman Stadium is 1-7 with a 7.28 ERA.

"It's hugely disappointing. It's as disappointing as it can get," he said.

San Francisco had scored 15 straight runs entering the night, but the Royals rocked Peavy and Yusmeiro Petit in the 32-minute bottom of the second.

Moustakas grounded an RBI double over the first-base bag, past Brandon Belt and down the right-field line. Alcides Escobar hit a one-out bouncer to Belt. With Peavy yelling "Home!" Belt checked Salvador Perez at third and then tried to out-race Escobar to first base rather than throw to second baseman Joe Panik, who already was at the base. Escobar slid past Belt's failed tag attempt and into first to reach on the infield hit.

"It's a play you can definitely learn from," Belt said. "Unfortunately, it happened in the World Series."


MSNBC.com | Wed, 29 Oct 2014 02:05:00 +0000
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Mississippi State, Florida State top first playoff listExternal Link

GRAPEVINE, Texas (AP) The College Football Playoff selection committee has spoken - and it likes the SEC.

At least for now.

Mississippi State, Florida State, Auburn and Mississippi are the top four teams in the first College Football Playoff rankings.

The first of seven Top 25 rankings compiled by a 12-member selection committee was released Tuesday night. The selection committee will ultimately pick the four teams to play in the national semifinals and set the matchups for the other four big New Year's Day bowls that are part of the playoff rotation.

"It was extremely difficult, more difficult than any of us had expected having gone through our mock selections before," Arkansas athletic director and committee chairman Jeff Long said. "There are 18 one-loss teams in FBS at this point in time, and the difference between many of them is very slim."

Oregon was fifth and Alabama was sixth, giving the Southeastern Conference's West Division four of the top six teams. There are still four games remaining matching those SEC West rivals, starting with Saturday's matchup of Auburn and Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi.

The final rankings will be released Dec. 7, the day after the most of the conference championships are decided.

"Everyone on the selection committee recognized that our rankings will change over the next six weeks," Long said. "I think that's important for us to emphasize. We expect our rankings to change over the next six weeks. One week's rankings won't influence the next week's rankings."

TCU was seventh, Michigan State was eighth, Kansas State ninth and Notre Dame was 10th.

Mississippi State and defending national champion Florida State are the only undefeated teams left among the Big Five conferences.

"It's cool," Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott said. "That's something you can never take away from the university or this program. First-ever ranking, first team to be No. 1, so that's pretty cool for the university."

The Bulldogs and Seminoles also hold the first two spots in the AP Top 25. No. 3 was where the differences started between the playoff rankings and the media poll.

The AP voters had Alabama at No. 3 and Auburn at No. 4. Oregon was fifth, Notre Dame was sixth and Ole Miss was seventh after losing for the first time this season at LSU on Saturday. Ole Miss beat Alabama at home earlier this month.

This is the first year for the playoff format in college football, and the list is the first indication of how the committee is evaluating teams' playoff potential.

While Ole Miss received a better ranking than Alabama, head-to-head victories weren't always the deciding factor for the committee.

Arizona, which won at Oregon, is 12th. Baylor, which beat TCU, is 13th.

Long said in both cases the head-to-head loser had the better overall resume. Long said Oregon's victories against Michigan State and UCLA stood out. And Baylor's lack of quality opposition so far held back the Bears.

"They have not had a strong schedule outside of their win against TCU," Long said.

The committee creates small groups of teams, debates their merits and ranks the teams using as many votes as needed to come up with a consensus. Members are given reams of data on each FBS team and each member is allowed to judge those numbers however they determine is best.

The committee members gathered Monday at the Gaylord Texan Hotel in Grapevine, Texas, just outside of Dallas, and did most of their work on Day 1.

Long said the committee worked for about 10 hours total on the rankings. By the time the rankings were released on ESPN at 7:30 EDT, most of the committee members were already on their way home.


MSNBC.com | Wed, 29 Oct 2014 01:02:00 +0000
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Rockets rout Lakers 108-90 in Kobe's returnExternal Link

LOS ANGELES (AP) After Lakers rookie Julius Randle left his NBA debut strapped to a wheeled stretcher with a broken right leg, every player at Staples Center gained a sober perspective on the season opener.

Even ex-teammates Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard realized their shouting match was particularly inconsequential in the final minutes of the Houston Rockets' blowout win.

James Harden scored 32 points, Howard added 13 points and 11 rebounds before getting into an exchange with Bryant, and the Rockets spoiled Bryant's return to the Lakers with a 108-90 victory over Los Angeles on Tuesday night.

Bryant's comeback game and the Lakers' return from a 55-loss season went from bad to miserable when Randle broke his right leg in the fourth quarter. The seventh overall pick out of Kentucky collided with two Rockets under the basket and landed awkwardly, collapsing to the court in agony.

After his own Lakers debut ended somberly, coach Byron Scott described the scene as "heartbreaking."

"The last three or four minutes, obviously we weren't thinking a whole lot about basketball," Scott added. "We were just thinking about Julius, and hoping he's OK."

Randle's injury cast a pall over the night for the Lakers, who are banking on the 19-year-old power forward to become a solid player - perhaps their next star. His right leg was immobilized before his teammates lifted him onto the stretcher, obvious pain on his face, with Bryant squeezing his hand.

"We'll help him through this, and he'll come back a better basketball player," Bryant said. "That's the goal, is to try to find a silver lining in this. He'll use the time to come back and be stronger."

Bryant scored 19 points in his first game back at Staples Center after missing most of the Lakers' worst season in a half-century with two major injuries.

A few moments before Randle's injury, Howard and Bryant received matching technical fouls when Howard elbowed Bryant in the face after grabbing a rebound in the fourth quarter, setting off a lengthy stretch of shouting and finger-pointing between the former teammates.

Although teammates stepped between them, Bryant appeared to yell "Try me!" at Howard, who wore his usual broad grin while responding.

"There's no need to go into it. We won the game," Howard said. "It's over with. It's about basketball. I'm not even focused on it."

Howard spurned Bryant and the Lakers after one season in 2013 to take roughly $30 million less as a free agent in Houston. Scott said the two superstars "don't like each other," a notion that made Bryant laugh.

"You can't help but like him," Bryant said with a straight face. "He's a teddy bear. I really mean that. He's a nice kid."

Howard got a flagrant foul for the elbow, and Bryant got a personal foul in addition to their technicals. Both veterans were pulled from the blowout immediately afterward.

Trevor Ariza and Terrence Jones scored 16 points apiece, while Harden hit three 3-pointers and 15 free throws. Ariza hit five 3-pointers for the Rockets, who took an 18-point lead in the first half and weren't threatened.

"We looked pretty good," Harden said. "It was just a matter of time for everybody to get on the court together and execute, and tonight, we did a pretty good job."

Jeremy Lin scored seven points against his former teammates in his Lakers debut, struggling to score against Patrick Beverley. Lin is the Lakers' starting point guard after Steve Nash's latest season-ending injury.

Bryant extended his franchise record just by stepping on the court for his 19th season with the Lakers, tying Utah's John Stockton for the most seasons with one team in NBA history. That 19th season is likely to be rocky, although he relishes the chance to play for Scott, the longtime Lakers shooting guard and Inglewood, California, native who got his self-described dream job this summer.

Bryant played just six games last season due to two major injuries, and the Lakers won just 27 games in their worst performance since moving to Los Angeles.

Carlos Boozer added 17 points in his Lakers debut.

Rockets: Rookie Tarik Black scored two points and Kostas Papanikolaou had four in their NBA debuts. Black made the roster as an undrafted free agent out of Kansas. Papanikolaou spent last season with FC Barcelona. ... Jason Terry scored eight points off the bench in his Houston debut.

Lakers: Randle scored two points and second-round pick Jordan Clarkson had eight in their NBA debuts for the Lakers. ... Xavier Henry and Ronnie Price both played despite injuries. Henry missed the entire preseason. ... Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Will Ferrell, Alibaba founder Jack Ma, Yasiel Puig, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Gerard Butler, Adam Levine and Behati Prinsloo attended the game.

The Lakers left shortly afterward for their road opener in Phoenix on Wednesday.

The Rockets flew to Utah for another road game Wednesday.


MSNBC.com | Wed, 29 Oct 2014 05:47:00 +0000
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Parker helps Spurs edge Mavs 101-100 in openerExternal Link

SAN ANTONIO (AP) Tony Parker scored 23 points, including a big 3-pointer late in the game as the San Antonio Spurs opened their title defense with a thrilling 101-100 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday.

Manu Ginobili added 20 points for San Antonio, which shot 53 percent from the field. Tim Duncan had 14 points and 13 rebounds for his 14th double-double in a season opener, the most by any player in NBA history, according to Elias Sports.

Monta Ellis scored 26 points for Dallas, and Dirk Nowitzki had 18. Devin Harris finished with 17 points.

Following a video recap of the 2014 season narrated by actor and Spurs fan Samuel L. Jackson, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver presented San Antonio's staff and players with their championship rings. The inscription inside the ring was "Good to Great," which was coach Gregg Popovich's mantra last season.

After Nowitzki gave Dallas a 100-98 lead with a fadeaway jumper over Boris Diaw with 1:37 remaining, Parker drained a 3 in front of the Mavericks' bench off a feed from Diaw. Parker was 4 for 4 from long range, matching a career high for 3s in a game.

Houston's James Harden scored 32 points, and Dwight Howard added 13 points and 11 rebounds before getting into a shouting match with Kobe Bryant as the Rockets spoiled Bryant's return to the Lakers with a 108-90 victory.

Bryant's comeback game got even worse when Lakers rookie forward Julius Randle seriously injured his right leg in the fourth quarter, leaving his NBA debut on a wheeled stretcher. The seventh overall pick out of Kentucky collided with two Rockets under the basket and landed awkwardly.

Bryant scored 19 points in his first game back at Staples Center after missing most of the Lakers' worst season in a half-century with two major injuries.

Trevor Ariza and Terrence Jones scored 16 points each for Houston.

At New Orleans, Anthony Davis had 26 points, 17 rebounds and nine blocks to lead the New Orleans Saints to a 101-84 season-opening win over the Orlando Magic.

Ryan Anderson, coming back from surgery on a herniated disk that cost him more than half of last season, scored 22 points. The Pelicans' new 7-foot (2.13-meter) center, Omer Asik, had a double-double with 14 points and 17 rebounds.

Tobias Harris scored 25 points for Orlando, while Nikola Vucevic added 15 points and 23 rebounds.


MSNBC.com | Wed, 29 Oct 2014 02:45:00 +0000
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Champ Bailey calls it a career after 15 years in NFLExternal Link

DENVER (AP) Former teammate Brian Dawkins called Champ Bailey "a great conserver of energy," a rare superstar who was never in a rush to get anywhere "unless it was on a football field."

In that dawdling, you can count retirement.

That finally came Tuesday, 60 days after Bailey was released by the New Orleans Saints when a nagging foot injury prevented him from displaying the speed and skills that led to his cornerback-record dozen Pro Bowl berths in Washington and Denver.

He had workouts with the Lions and Ravens and interest from other teams but decided to pursue a new chapter, possibly in broadcasting.

"Every professional athlete knows and understands that at some point his career will end and it will be time to move on to another phase in life. For me, that time is now," Bailey said in a statement released by the Broncos, for whom he played from 2004-13.

"I have been truly blessed. I have been able to play this NFL game I love for 15 seasons and yet, it seems like only yesterday that my dreams came true when I received the call from Charley Casserly letting me know the Redskins had made me their first pick in the 1999 draft," Bailey said.

The seventh overall pick that year, the University of Georgia star spent five seasons in Washington before the Broncos traded star running back Clinton Portis to the Redskins for the game's premier shutdown cornerback.

Bailey was the most decorated defender in franchise history with eight Pro Bowl berths while with the Broncos.

When GM John Elway returned to his beloved franchise, his first order of business was signing Bailey to an extension.

"Champ was the pillar in this organization for a long, long time," Elway said. "He brought great stability to the Broncos not only as a player but as a person through his ability and leadership. When I came here in 2011, he was the guy that we were going to build around and we were fortunate to have him for three more years to get this team back on track. He was a big part of that turnaround."

Peyton Manning paid him the ultimate compliment, saying Bailey "had unbelievable cover skills and unbelievable ball skills. He caught the ball like a wide receiver did. Going all the way back to my days playing against him in college, he was truly a great competitor with talent and work ethic. That's what made Champ such an incredible player."

Bailey took many a young cornerback under his wing, among them Chris Harris Jr, who tweeted, "Blessed to be able to learn and play opposite Champ for 3 years," and added the hashtags HOF and TBE for the surefire Hall of Famer.

Although quarterbacks usually avoided throwing in his direction, Bailey still found a way to get involved and make an impact. He had 52 interceptions, more than any active cornerback. He prided himself on his technique and tackling abilities. In 215 regular season games, Bailey had 983 tackles, three sacks, nine forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries.

"The thing about Champ was he had great ability as a shutdown corner while also not being afraid to stick his nose in there and be a part of the run game," Elway said. "He was a complete corner with tremendous toughness and ability to cover."

About the only thing that eluded Bailey in his stellar career was a Super Bowl ring.

The closest he came was the Broncos' trip to the Meadowlands in February when they were blown out by Seattle.

With a $10 million salary looming for this season, the Broncos released him in March after Bailey decided he wanted to give a 16th season a try. He later signed with the Saints, but the left foot injury that sidelined him for 11 games last season continued to bother him during training camp and for the first time in his life he didn't make the cut.

His last NFL season was a bittersweet one, missing 11 games with the foot injury before returning to action down the stretch and finally getting to play in a Super Bowl, which proved both the apex and nadir of his career.

"He had a significant part to do with them getting there based on his play in the AFC championship, where he gave up one pass for 4 yards on one foot," said his agent, Jack Reale. "He has a tremendous amount to be proud of and really tried to get it done last year when lesser players wouldn't have even tried."

It's a safe bet Bailey will end up talking football now that he's done playing it.

"Media makes a lot of sense for a guy like him," Reale said.


MSNBC.com | Wed, 29 Oct 2014 00:10:00 +0000
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