NCAA

And the MLB Managers of the Year are....

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And the MLB Managers of the Year are....

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- Young rosters, small budgets, limited expectations.No matter.Bob Melvin of the Oakland Athletics and Washington's Davey Johnson won big right away and were chosen as managers of the year Tuesday after guiding their teams to huge turnaround seasons.Melvin beat out Baltimore's Buck Showalter for the AL honor in a close vote by a Baseball Writers' Association of America panel. In his first full season with Oakland, the rookie-laden A's made a 20-game improvement, finished 94-68 and stunned just about everyone by winning the AL West with baseball's lowest payroll.Still, the unassuming skipper was surprised to win."Absolutely shocked. I mean, Buck had such a great year," Melvin said on MLB Network.Johnson was an easy choice for the NL prize after the Nationals -- who had never enjoyed a winning season -- posted the best record in the majors and made their first playoff appearance.Johnson, who turns 70 in January, was honored for the second time. He was tabbed as the AL's top manager in 1997, hours after he resigned from the Orioles in a feud with owner Peter Angelos.This time, Johnson will get a while to enjoy the accolade.The Nationals announced this month that he will guide them in 2013, when he will be the oldest manager in the majors. He's set to leave the Washington dugout and become a team consultant in 2014."World Series or bust," Johnson said on MLB Network. "It's going to be my last year, anyway."Melvin also became a two-time winner, having been chosen in 2007 with Arizona. He and Johnson joined Jim Leyland, Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Lou Piniella as the only managers to win the award in both leagues.La Russa was the only other Oakland manager to earn the honor, in 1988 and 1992.Melvin received 16 first-place votes. Showalter got the other 12 after leading the wild-card Orioles to their first winning season since 1997, and Chicago White Sox first-year manager Robin Ventura finished third.With five rookies in their starting rotation, the A's were one of baseball's biggest surprises this year -- especially after trades, injuries and the suspension of veteran pitcher Bartolo Colon wreaked havoc with the roster. Oakland never panicked under Melvin's cool demeanor, rallying from 13 games back on June 30 and overtaking Texas in the final week to win the division.The Athletics went 72-38 after June 1, the best record in the majors. They became the first team in big league history to come back from a deficit of at least five games with fewer than 10 remaining to win a division or pennant. The A's then lost in five games in the first round of the playoffs to AL champion Detroit."We just tried to keep it day to day," Melvin said. "It's a credit to the guys each and every day going out there and just worrying about that particular day."Johnson received 23 of the 32 first-place votes, while Dusty Baker of NL Central winner Cincinnati got five firsts and came in second. Bruce Bochy of the World Series champion San Francisco Giants got four firsts and was third.Washington won its second major individual award, both in the past two days. Bryce Harper was voted NL Rookie of the Year on Monday.Before the season, a confident Johnson declared that if the Nationals didn't win the NL East, he'd probably be fired. Washington went 98-64, taking over the division lead in late May and staying in first place the rest of the way. Boosted by Harper, Cy Young Award candidate Gio Gonzalez and their fresh "Natitude," they brought postseason baseball to Washington for the first time since 1933."This award's really nice, but I look at the award as an organizational award," Johnson said. "Young players this year really stepped in when key players got hurt. ... We had a lot of young catchers come up and everybody really produced and it was just a remarkable year. Actually, I didn't think they overachieved, they just played up to their ability."The playoffs didn't go quite so well. Minus Stephen Strasburg -- team execs decided the ace had pitched enough in his first "full" season following elbow surgery -- Washington blew a 6-0 lead and lost the deciding Game 5 of the division series to St. Louis. Voting for the BBWAA awards was done before the playoffs.Johnson oversaw a diverse roster, one made up of young and old, Washington veterans and newcomers. A four-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner, two-time World Series champion and the last big leaguer to get a hit off Sandy Koufax, Johnson spoke with a soft, raspy tone but always held his team's attention.He would occasionally raise his voice -- he liked to holler "whack-o!" when the Nationals homered."Davey Johnson's legacy was secure well before he became our manager in 2011, but his performance this season has to rate among his best work," Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said. "He showed this club how to win despite being engaged in a pennant race for the first time. And he accomplished this with so many young players."Johnson managed the New York Mets to the 1986 championship and later guided Cincinnati and the Orioles. He returned to managing in 1999 with the Los Angeles Dodgers for two years.In June 2011, Johnson was working as a senior adviser with the Nationals when Jim Riggleman suddenly resigned midway through the season. Johnson took over and agreed to be part of a search committee to select a manager for 2012, allowing that he could be a candidate for the post, too.The Nationals finished 80-81, barely missing out on their first winning season, and Johnson was brought back for another try."What it really comes down to is, you've got to know the makeup of a guy. Know who he handles and when he's going to have some tough times, tough matchups," Johnson said. "So you go with your gut most of the time. You go with your instincts. You don't even want to ask anybody if you're getting ready to make a change or whatever, because you don't want any ties or anything like that."Washington was without major league baseball for more than three decades. The Senators moved to Texas after the 1971 season, then the Montreal Expos moved to D.C. to start in 2005.Under Johnson, the Nationals put aside their losing past and set up a winning future.The same is true of the A's.Fired by the Diamondbacks early in 2009, Melvin was hired as Oakland's interim manager on June 9, 2011. Three months later, he signed a three-year contract that runs through the 2014 season.

Limping Love leads Stanford to Big Game win over Cal

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AP

Limping Love leads Stanford to Big Game win over Cal

BOX SCORE

PALO ALTO — Bryce Love rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown despite missing most of the fourth quarter after aggravating an ankle injury, and No. 20 Stanford held off California 17-14 on Saturday to keep its Pac-12 title hopes alive.

K.J. Costello completed 17 of 26 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown, Ben Edwards made a key interception in the fourth quarter and Cameron Scarlett rushed for 49 yards on the final drive in place of Love to help the Cardinal (8-3, 7-2 Pac-12) milk the clock and win its eighth straight Big Game.

Stanford can earn a spot in the Pac-12 championship game against USC but needs some help.

The Cardinal can get there if No. 15 Washington State loses to No. 16 Washington next week. If the Cougars — who beat Stanford 24-21 on Nov. 4 — beat the Huskies, they get the nod because of the tiebreaker.

The nation's leading rusher going into the game, Love was held in check most of the game by Cal's defense and sat out the final 11:43 after re-injuring his ankle that has bothered him for the past month. He did stay on the field long enough to score a 57-yard touchdown — his 11th run of 50 yards or longer this season.

Scarlett, Love's primary backup all season, also came up big for Stanford. Scarlett rushed for 61 yards, the majority coming on the Cardinal's last drive that took the final 7:25. Scarlett's 2-yard gain on 4th-and-1 kept the drive going.

Patrick Laird ran for 153 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries while Ross Bowers passed for 182 yards and a touchdown for California. The Golden Bears (5-6, 2-6) need a win in their final game to become bowl eligible in coach Justin Wilcox's first season.

THE TAKEAWAY

California: The Bears made the Cardinal sweat and kept the game a lot closer than many thought possible. Wilcox's defense did a good job bottling up Love most of the game but couldn't stop Scarlett on the final drive which was huge. Still, there are plenty of positives for Cal to take out of this one.

Stanford: It wasn't the best game for David Shaw's team but the Cardinal gritted it out and held off a pesky Cal team that had plenty to play for. The conference title can still happen but before that Stanford has a pretty big game coming up against Notre Dame.

UP NEXT

California: Ends the regular season at UCLA on Saturday.

Stanford: The Cardinal stay home and will host No. 9 Notre Dame on Saturday. Stanford has won the last two and six of last eight against the Irish.

Raiders counting heavily on lightning rod CB against Patriots

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AP

Raiders counting heavily on lightning rod CB against Patriots

MEXICO CITY – The Raiders cornerback David Amerson didn’t practice all week, but ran just well enough to be considered “doubtful” for Sunday’s game against New England.

Translation: Outlook for Sunday is not good, but Jack Del Rio’s fingers remained crossed real, real tight. The Raiders hope there’s a way he can be active against Tom Brady’s buzz saw attack, because their cover men are beat up.

Amerson has missed two straight with a foot injury, and has dealt with injury all year. Gareon Conley’s season officially ended Monday, when he was placed on season-ending injured reserve. Antonio Hamilton and Demetrius McCray were already there.

Reggie McKenzie hasn’t reached out for reinforcements. That leaves TJ Carrie, Dexter McDonald and Sean Smith to play cornerback. Carrie’s been the rock, a sure tackler who hasn’t made spectacular plays but doesn’t give them up. McDonald has been forced into action, with holes let in his game.

Smith should be the No. 1 guy in this group, the steadying presence on the outside. That hasn’t been the case this year, where he lost a starting job in training camp and sub-package snaps during the season, only to have injuries to Conley and Amerson bring him in the fray.

He’s also been dealing with felony assault and battery charges in Los Angeles stemming from a July 4 incident in Pasadena.

Smith has been a lightning rod for fan criticism, a byproduct of his $9.5 million salary this year and explosive plays allowed early in the year.

If there’s an anvil weighing on his mind, teammates insist you’d never know.

“We’re human at the end of the day,” Amerson said. “You feel it, but you have to find a way to remain even keel and professional and do your job well.”

Smith will be counted on heavily Sunday against New England, especially if Amerson can’t play as expected. He has proven vulnerable to speed without help and proper disruption at the line of scrimmage, though that hasn’t been an issue lately because the Utah alum has recovered well after a rough start.

He got pulled after struggling against Vernon Davis in Washington. He didn’t play against the Chargers after giving up two huge plays to Baltimore the week before.

Amerson originally sprained his foot in Week 7 against Kansas City – he hasn’t played since – and Smith was called upon to respond. He wasn’t targeted in that game, and has been strong in coverage ever since.

Smith has allowed three catches for 12 yards in four targets over the last two games. The ninth-year veteran insists he wasn’t doing anything markedly different, and had zero interest in patting himself on the back for recent jobs well done.

“I’m not,” Smith said. “I’m out there doing my job, man, the best way I can.”

Smith says the off-field distractions during a roller-coaster season, one of his career’s most trying yet, haven’t impacted him much

“Nope. Not at all,” Smith said. “As long as I wake up a Raider, I’m all right. I’ll deal with whatever happens. I’ll always be there for my guys, and I’ll do whatever it takes to help our team win.”

Raiders defensive backs laud Smith’s locker room presence, saying he’s an excellent teammate. Cornerbacks in general must have a short memory when things go bad, to refocus and prevent that from happening again. Smith apparently has that in spades.

“I know how things go, especially when you have a target on your back,” Amerson said. “Sometimes you get hit with the perfect pass and you give up some plays. You can’t do anything about that but take advantage of the next opportunity. Sean’s a good player, and he definitely has that mindset.”

Smith will lend experience to this big game, something the Raiders need after suffering so many injuries.

"It sucks that so many of us have gone down,” Smith said. "You want to have all your guys out there, but that’s the NFL. Injuries happen. As long as everybody comes to work and acts like a pro, we’ll be all right. We all have a job to do. We all would like to start, but you have to be ready when your number’s called.”