Red Sox

Ridley feeling strong at the midway point

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Ridley feeling strong at the midway point

FOXBORO -- Now at the midway point of his first season as the Patriots lead running back, Stevan Ridley says he's feeling good and ready for eight more games.

"Body feels OK, man," Ridley said. "Still playing football. Still on the field. As long as I'm not missing any playing time, it's 100 percent. I'm thankful to be healthy and thankful to be in my position where I am. Got a little bit of football left to play. Hopefully I can be healthy all the way until the end."

His relative health is hard to believe given his running style. Not only is he unafraid of contact, he actively tries to trample tacklers as he finishes his runs. Craig Dahl, a Rams safety, was Ridley's latest victim. He got steamrolled by the Patriots second-year back in the third quarter of New England's win on Sunday and had trouble getting up afterward.

Somehow, Ridley has doled out more punishment than he's taken; he hasn't appeared on the Patriots injury report since the start of the season. Still, he'll gladly take the rest that comes with his team's bye week this week.

During his few days off, he'll home to take in a game at his high school Trinity Episcopal Day School in Natchez, Miss., and then head to Baton Rouge to watch his Louisiana State University play University of Alabama. Aside from watching football, he'll be able to get off his feet and recover from the bumps and bruises he's earned by plowing his way through the first half of the season.

"It's gonna be a lot of rest for me," Ridley said. "Gotta get in and get a workout in. If I get one today, I might get one in later on right before we get back. But it's gonna be a lot of rest, a lot of sleep, just letting the body recover and do it's own thing."

It's hard to know how many carries will be awaiting Ridley when he returns from the bye week because the Patriots like to rotate their backs so frequently. But it's clear he's earned the right to be a trusted cog in the team's high-powered offense.

"They biggest thing about Stevan is that hes very passionate about the game," said running backs coach Ivan Fears. "Stevan loves to play and I think thats his first and biggest asset. Theres no doubt -- on a game day, he is there. He is mentally in the right frame of mind to play the game. I think as long as he's got that kind of passion for the game, hes going to do the little things that he needs to do to be physically ready to play the game."

The only drawback to Ridley's strong first half is that, on the field, he hasn't always done the little things well. Fears said he's improving in pass protection, but that Danny Woodhead (who at 5-foot-8 and 200 pounds is three inches shorter and 20 pounds lighter than Ridley) is still the better player in that aspect. Also, the ball-security issues that hounded Ridley at the end of his rookie season returned when he fumbled in consecutive games against Buffalo and Denver.

"I think hes done some good things. I think there are certainly a lot of things he can improve on," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "There have been times when hes had really good blocking and times when hes produced yards on his own. There are have been other times when things havent gone as well. I think there are lot of things he can work on. Hes still a young, improving player that does some things well."

Despite the occasional hiccups in Ridley's still-maturing game, he has proven himself to be one of the most productive backs in the league. He leads the AFC in rushing with 716 yards on 150 attempts. His 4.8 yards per carry is almost a full yard more than the average carry of Texans All-Pro running back Arian Foster (3.9).

When he was at Trinity Episcopal or LSU, did he ever think that he might lead the AFC in rushing one day? Not exactly.

"I never would've thought that in a million years to be honest," he said. "But like I said, I'm very fortunate. The Lord's blessed me with that. I just go out there and run the football, and I look up right now, I'm leading the AFC in rushing. It's a dream come true for me, like I said. To be out here every day. To say I saw that -- not at all, I'd be lying. But I still got a lot of work to do in front of me . . . I'm looking forward to the next eight that we have."

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

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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'

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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