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AP NewsBreak: Yankees hit with $18.9M luxury tax

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AP NewsBreak: Yankees hit with $18.9M luxury tax

NEW YORK (AP) The New York Yankees were hit with an $18.9 million luxury tax by Major League Baseball, the 10th consecutive year they will pay a penalty for their spending.

The team finished with a $222.5 million payroll for purposes of the tax, according to figures sent to teams Thursday and obtained by The Associated Press.

Following its payroll-shedding trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers last summer, Boston finished just $47,177 under the $178 million threshold. The Los Angeles Angels wound up at $176.7 million and Philadelphia at $174.5 million.

Figures include average annual values of contracts for players on 40-man rosters, earned bonuses and escalators, adjustments for cash in trades and $10.8 million per team in benefits.

New York has run up a luxury tax bill of $224.2 million over the past decade, with the fee increasing from $13.9 million last year. The Yankees' tax rate rose from 40 percent to 42.5 percent this year and figures to climb to 50 percent next season. But they hope to get under the threshold in 2014, when it rises to $189 million. Dropping under the threshold would lower their potential tax rate in 2015 to 17.5 percent.

``It affects my decision-making process, my communication about the pressure points we have,'' Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said, adding that market rates for free agents also impact his choices.

For the regular payroll calculation - 2012 income plus prorated shares of signing bonuses - spending by the 30 big league teams broke $3 billion for the first time at $3.15 billion after falling $43,000 short of the milestone last year.

The Yankees finished at a record $223.3 million, their 14th consecutive year as the biggest spender and topping their previous mark of $222.5 million in 2008.

However, the Dodgers could break that mark next year following a summer and autumn of acquisitions. Los Angeles currently is at $207.9 million for 21 signed players, including adjustments for the August trade with Boston that brought Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett to the Dodgers. The Yankees are at $182 million for 14 players, including a deal with Ichiro Suzuki that hasn't been finalized.

``You don't get a trophy for having the highest payroll,'' Cashman said. ``I'm not going to feel weird either way, if we're the highest or we're not the highest. That's not the issue. Just want to be the best.''

Philadelphia was second at $169.7 million, followed by Boston ($168.6 million), the Angels ($160.1 million), AL champion Detroit ($140.7 million) and World Series champion San Francisco ($138.1 million).

Even while shedding some stars during the season, Miami rose from $61.9 million to $89.9 million. The Marlins figure to drop to the bottom of spending next year after trading nearly all their veterans.

Among the big slashers were the New York Mets (from $142.2 million in 2011 to $103.7 million) and the Chicago Cubs (from $140.6 million to $107.7 million).

Oakland won the AL West despite the lowest payroll in the major leagues at $59.5 million. The division rival Angels rose from $143.1 million to $160.1 million yet still missed the playoffs. They added slugger Josh Hamilton this week with a $125 million, five-year deal set to be announced Saturday.

The Dodgers, sold during the season to a group headed by Mark Walter, Stan Kasten and Magic Johnson, climbed from $109.9 million in 2011 to $129.1 million. In the last week they added pitchers Zack Greinke ($147 million over six years) and Ryu Hyun-jin ($36 million over six years).

The commissioner's office computed the average salary at a record 3,104,563, up 2.2 percent from last year's $3,039,161, The players' association, which uses a slightly different method, pegged the average at $3,213,479, up 3.8 percent.

Payroll figures are for 40-man rosters and include salaries and prorated shares of signing bonuses, earned incentive bonuses, non-cash compensation, buyouts of unexercised options and cash transactions, such as money included in trades. In some cases, parts of salaries that are deferred are discounted to reflect present-day values.

According to the collective bargaining agreement, checks to pay the luxury tax must be sent to the commissioner's office by Jan. 21.

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How Nicklas Backstrom saved the Capitals 3 different times in Game 5

How Nicklas Backstrom saved the Capitals 3 different times in Game 5

The Capitals found themselves in deep trouble on Saturday.

Game 5 at Capital One Arena provided Washington a golden opportunity to take a 3-2 lead in their 2018 Stanley Cup Playoff first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets. A loss -- another home loss -- would have been a devastating blow.

After battling back from a 2-0 series deficit, to lose in Washington would mean facing elimination in Columbus. Game 5 was the game the Caps needed and it would have slipped away from them if not for Nicklas Backstrom.

The Caps’ most underrated superstar -- the one who is constantly overshadowed by the likes of Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby -- took center stage on Saturday as he tipped a Dmitry Orlov shot past Sergei Bobrovsky at 11:53 of overtime to seal the victory for Washington.

“It was just a good shot from [Orlov],” Backstrom said after the game. “I thought before he had a chance to block it, and I got a tip on it, and it’s usually what happens in the playoffs. Tip goals or rebound goals. That’s the way it is. It was nice.”

Backstrom’s overtime goal capped off a three-point night for the veteran center, who also scored in the first period and assisted on a goal from T.J. Oshie.

The team ended up needing every one of his points.

From the start, Columbus outplayed Washington. With the series tied 2-2, a best-of-three mentality took over and the Blue Jackets pushed hard for the pivotal Game 5 win.

It is in those very moments that team needs its superstar players to step up. In Game 3, it was Holtby who stole the show to help Washington steal a win in Columbus.

On Saturday, it was Backstrom.

Columbus converted a shorthanded goal to seize a 1-0 lead in what was shaping up to be a dominant first period. A fluke goal from Backstrom, however, made sure the score was knotted up, 1-1, after the opening frame.

With the puck behind the goal line, Backstrom tried to slip a pass through the crease. Bobrovsky got a piece of the puck with his stick, but the amount of spin on the pass forced the puck to carom off the stick, off the back of Bobrovsky himself, and into the net.

“I was trying to make a pass,” Backstrom said. “Honestly, got lucky. I don’t know who came back-door there but I was trying for him. I’ll take it.”

After a back and forth game, the Blue Jackets came out swinging to start the third. Down 3-2, Columbus tied the game just 2:30 in and made a real push to win the game in regulation. Washington was outshot 16-1 in the third and looked like they had no push at all.

But the Caps looked like a different team when they took the ice for the extra frame. What happened in between periods?

“As I was leaving the room after the period, I could hear guys, the right guys, all saying the right things,” head coach Barry Trotz said.

When later asked if one of those guys was Backstrom, Trotz said, “Absolutely. He's one of the leaders on our team. They were all talking about let's make sure we're doing the right things. There's a lot of pride, lot of good leadership in that room.”

Whatever Backstrom and the other leaders said did the trick. Washington made a strong push in overtime leading to Backstrom’s game-winning goal.

This isn’t the first time Backstrom has delivered. Saturday’s overtime tally is the fourth of his career. That’s the most in franchise history and tied for fifth in NHL history.

Through his efforts on the ice, the Caps were able to erase a bad first period and steal the win in overtime. But it also took a big effort off the ice to get the job done.

“If you just look at the scoresheet, that doesn't say enough of about Nick Backstrom, his contribution from in the dressing room to on the ice to key moments to key faceoffs,” Trotz said.

“I've been on his soapbox about how complete a player he is and I never really worry about Nick Backstrom. He's got enough games under his belt, he's got enough stats to back it up and he's played huge minutes and he's one of our leaders. He's a tremendous hockey player.”

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John Tortorella guarantees series will return to Washington for Game 7

John Tortorella guarantees series will return to Washington for Game 7

After losing Game 1 and Game 2 at home, Alex Ovechkin declared "It’s going to be fun when we bounce back and going to tie the series and come back here and play Game 5 at home.”

Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella seems to be taking a similar tactic.

The Capitals won Game 5 in overtime on Saturday in a game that could prove to be emotionally draining for the Blue Jackets in a number of ways.

  • It was Washington's third straight win
  • Columbus was the better team for the majority of the game, but still took the loss
  • The Blue Jackets now face elimination despite holding a 2-0 series lead to start and losing only once in regulation

Tortorella has become famous for his fiery postgame press conferences in the past, including abruptly walking out after Game 4's presser when he declared "We sucked" to the media.

Saturday's was another fun one.

In a presser that lasted less than two minutes, Tortorella twice said, "We'll be back here for Game 7."

After such a draining game, Tortorella was asked how he would get them ready for what is sure to be an emotionally charged Game 6.

"I won't have to say a damn word to them," Tortorella said. "No. We'll be back here for Game 7."

The Blue Jackets will have to win Game 6 in Columbus to make that happen.

Barry Trotz was asked for his reaction after Tortorella's comments.

"What else are you going to say? That's good. He wants to get it out there, he believes in his team just as I believe in my team. It's our job for that not to happen."

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