Red Sox

Niners prove they're fighters with win over Patriots


Niners prove they're fighters with win over Patriots

FOXBORO -- Jim Harbaugh used to live next to a train station in Chicago when he played quarterback for the Bears.

The more he heard the trains, the less he heard them. The loud noise became normal after a while. He was used to the sound.

Following Sunday night's 41-34 win over the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium, Harbaugh said he felt the same way about his San Francisco 49ers.

The more pressure they feel, the less they feel it.

Sounds about right, as his team clinched a playoff berth by earning their 10th win of the season against a Patriots team that had just embarrassed the Houston Texans -- the team with the most wins in the NFL.

The 49ers held a 31-3 lead over the Patriots in the third quarter. It was the exact opposite start that the Texans had on Monday night.

That says something, considering the fact that when people lined up Weeks 14 and 15 for the Patriots, their Week 14 game against Houston was a potential AFC Championship preview, and their Week 15 game against the 49ers was a potential Super Bowl preview.

Whether or not either scenario happens, the 49ers did exactly what the Texans couldn't do to the Patriots at Gillette Stadium. They got off to a hot start.

"A great victory," said Harbaugh afterwards. "I really love the way our team sucked it up so many times. We didn't make all the plays. But we made a lot of plays . . . They made plays too, but we made more."

The 49ers were forced to make one more play than the Patriots midway through the fourth quarter, thanks to New England's comeback that tied the game at 31-31.

But a short Colin Kaepernick pass to Michael Crabtree that resulted in a 38-yard touchdown pass, put San Francisco up 38-31, and was the difference.

All coming with the pressure of having to one-up Tom Brady in his own building.

"This is a great win," said Harbaugh. "Our team now, they've played in a lot of big-time pressure games. They've overcome adversity, shown they can do that.

"I used to live next to a train station in Chicago. It's like, the more you hear the train, the less you hear it. I feel that way with our team, in terms of pressure in big games . . . The more you feel it, the less you feel it. So I feel good about that. I feel good about our team in those big-game situations."

The Texans didn't show up in Monday night's big-game situation. After that loss, they said that the Patriots taught them "how to play championship football."

On Sunday night, the 49ers weren't hanging their heads like the Texans were in the very same visitors' locker room at Gillette Stadium. But they certainly weren't crowning themselves Super Bowl champions, either.

"It just shows that we fight, man," said 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis after the win. "We're a fighting team, and we're going to play for 60 minutes."

"It let us see where we're at, going against a great team with a great quarterback," said running back Frank Gore. "And we pulled it off. We've just got to keep taking it one day at a time, just keep working as a team, and try to get where we're trying to go."

San Francisco is trying to go to New Orleans. That's the site of the Super Bowl. But even after a win against a Patriots team that has a chance to be representing the AFC in that Super Bowl, the 49ers realize they still have a lot of work to do.

They're just glad they did what the Texans couldn't. They now know that they can win the big game, if they get to it.

"It proved that we can win against a good offense," said Crabtree. "We can win a shootout. Whatever it takes. That's our motto. I feel like we can do anything. The sky's the limit."

That's a phrase Randy Moss used to use when he played for the Patriots. Now as a member of the 49ers, Moss left the visiting locker room without speaking to the media. He got dressed, tossed on his "Beats by Dre" headphones, grabbed his suitcase, and rolled it down the tunnel to the team bus.

He couldn't hear questions from reporters if he wanted to. He was blocking it out. Similar to how the 49ers blocked out the pressure on Sunday night in New England. Similar to how Harbaugh blocked out the sound of passing trains in Chicago.

Unlike the Texans, the 49ers left New England, knowing where they stand.

"It's a huge task," said Harbaugh. "It's a huge challenge. This environment in December, not a lot of teams have been successful.

"So yeah, it will be a happy flight home."

HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall


HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall

Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan is urging voters to keep “known steroid users” out of Cooperstown.

A day after the Hall revealed its 33-man ballot for the 2018 class, the 74-year-old Morgan argued against the inclusion of players implicated during baseball’s steroid era in a letter to voters with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The letter from the vice chairman of the Hall’s board of directors was sent Tuesday using a Hall email address.

Read the full text of Morgan's letter here. 

“Steroid users don’t belong here,” Morgan wrote. “What they did shouldn’t be accepted. Times shouldn’t change for the worse.”

Hall voters have been wrestling with the issue of performance-enhancing drugs for several years. Baseball held a survey drug test in 2003 and the sport began testing for banned steroids the following year with penalties. Accusations connected to some of the candidates for the Hall vary in strength from allegations with no evidence to positive tests that caused suspensions.

About 430 ballots are being sent to voters, who must have been members of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years, and a player needs at least 75 percent for election. Ballots are due by Dec. 31 and results will be announced Jan. 24.

Writers who had not been covering the game for more than a decade were eliminated from the rolls in 2015, creating a younger electorate that has shown more willingness to vote for players tainted by accusations of steroid use. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens each received a majority of votes for the first time in 2017 in their fifth year on the ballot.

Morgan said he isn’t speaking for every Hall of Famer, but many of them feel the same way that he does.

“Players who failed drug tests, admitted using steroids, or were identified as users in Major League Baseball’s investigation into steroid abuse, known as the Mitchell Report, should not get in,” Morgan wrote. “Those are the three criteria that many of the players and I think are right.”

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were inducted into the Hall of Fame in July. They were joined by former Commissioner Bud Selig and retired Kansas City and Atlanta executive John Schuerholz, who were voted in by a veterans committee.

Some baseball writers said the election of Selig, who presided over the steroids era, influenced their view of whether tainted stars should gain entry to the Hall.

Morgan praised BBWAA voters and acknowledged they are facing a “tricky issue,” but he also warned some Hall of Famers might not make the trip to Cooperstown if steroid users are elected.

“The cheating that tainted an era now risks tainting the Hall of Fame too,” he wrote. “The Hall of Fame means too much to us to ever see that happen. If steroid users get in, it will divide and diminish the Hall, something we couldn’t bear.”

© 2017 by The Associated Press

Ray Allen tells court he was 'catfished'


Ray Allen tells court he was 'catfished'

ORLANDO, Fla. — Retired NBA star Ray Allen said he is a victim of “catfishing,” and has asked a court to throw out a case where he is accused of stalking someone he met online.

Allen filed an emergency motion in Orange County, Florida, on Tuesday, one day after Bryant Coleman told the court he is being stalked by the 10-time All-Star and two-time NBA champion.

Allen said Coleman is the one who is stalking.

“Coleman pretended to be a number of attractive women interested in Ray Allen,” read the motion filed on Allen’s behalf. “Ray believed he was speaking with these women and communicated with them.”

Attorney David Oscar Markus released a statement saying Allen took legal action in an effort to put an end to threats against him and his family, and that Allen was the victim “of an online scheme to extract money and embarrass him by someone who appears to be troubled.”

In the filing, Allen said Coleman threatened to reveal details of their conversations, and that the sides eventually struck a deal to keep everything private. Allen said that deal has been violated and that Coleman has continued to harass him and his family through several social-media accounts.

“He posted about Ray’s wife, Ray’s children, Ray’s dog, Ray’s homes, Ray’s wife’s restaurant, and numerous other personal items,” read the motion. “Coleman not only posted about these things, he would actually post while physically located inside Ray’s wife’s restaurant in Orlando. And he would make sure they knew it, tagging Ray and his wife on those posts.”

Allen asked the court to stop Coleman from “cyber-stalking.” It was not clear if Coleman has an attorney, and a working phone number for him could not be found.

“Ray regrets ever engaging with this person online and is thankful they never met in person,” Markus said. “This experience has negatively impacted Ray, and he hopes that others might use his mistake to learn the dangers of communicating online with strangers.”

Allen is the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made. He starred in college at UConn and won championships with the Celtics in 2008 and Miami in 2013, the second title coming after he made one of the most dramatic shots in playoff history — a game-tying 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left in regulation of Game 6 of The Finals against San Antonio, a game that the Heat would win in overtime to extend the series to a seventh game.

Allen also played for Milwaukee and Seattle, and last appeared in the league in 2014. He and his family have lived in the Miami area since.

© 2017 by The Associated Press