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Women's baseball star, movie inspirer Davis dies

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Women's baseball star, movie inspirer Davis dies

LOS ANGELES (AP) Lavonne ``Pepper'' Paire-Davis, a star of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League in the 1940s and an inspiration for the central character in the movie ``A League of Their Own,'' has died, her son said Sunday.

Paire-Davis died of natural causes in the Van Nuys section of Los Angeles on Saturday, her son, William Davis, told The Associated Press. She was 88.

Paire-Davis was a model for the character played by Geena Davis in the 1992 hit ``A League of Their Own,'' which also starred Rosie O'Donnell, Madonna and Tom Hanks as the crusty manager who shouted the famous line, ``there's no crying in baseball!''

In 1944, Paire-Davis joined the league, created out of fear that World War II would interrupt Major League Baseball, and played for 10 seasons.

She was a catcher and shortstop, and helped her teams win five championships. She chronicled her baseball adventures in the 2009 book ``Dirt in the Skirt.''

``I know what it's like for your dream to come true, mine did,'' Paire-Davis said in an AP story in 1995, when she was 70. ``Baseball was the thing I had the most fun doing. It was like breathing.''

After graduating from high school, she enrolled at UCLA as an English major, worked as a welder's assistant at the shipyards in Long Beach, and spent every spare moment playing in local softball leagues.

Her heart, however, belonged to hardball.

``Don't get me wrong, I was glad to be playing softball,'' she said in 1995. ``But I'd rather have played competitive baseball.''

The All American Girls Baseball League was founded in 1943 by Chicago Cubs owner Philip K. Wrigley. Most of the league's talent came from greater Chicago, but Paire-Davis was one of a half-dozen players scouted and chosen from California.

The players wore skirts and the teams often had cutesy names, but the players maintained a genuine big league lifestyle, playing 120 games over four months.

``We played every night of the week,'' Paire-Davis said, ``doubleheaders on Sundays and holidays.''

She won championships with the Racine Belles, the Grand Rapids Chicks and the Fort Wayne Daisies, but she never actually played for the team featured in the film, the Rockford Peaches.

``That's Hollywood,'' she said. ``They had to take 10 teams and 12 years and make it into two hours.''

The league was ``temporarily suspended'' in 1954. Play was never resumed.

Davis said his mother spent much of the rest of her life as a sports fan - she rooted for the Dodgers, Angels and Lakers - and an advocate for her favorite game.

``She taught me how to switch hit when I was 3 years old,'' said Davis, one of two sons, a daughter, four grandkids and an older brother who survived Paire-Davis. ``She touched a lot of people around the world with her baseball exploits. She was a great ambassador for the game.''

Paire-Davis said, looking back from 1995, that she couldn't ``honestly tell you I knew the history we were making back then.''

But, she said, ``I can tell you we knew we were doing something special.''

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Burakovsky will miss the first round, but Caps won't rule him out for remainder of the playoffs

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Burakovsky will miss the first round, but Caps won't rule him out for remainder of the playoffs

Andre Burakovsky will be sidelined for the remainder of Washington's first-round series vs. Columbus, but he isn’t necessarily out for the remainder of the playoffs, Coach Barry Trotz said on Friday.

Burakovsky suffered an undisclosed upper-body injury in the Capitals' Game 2 overtime loss and has not been on the ice since.

Trotz said the 23-year-old top-six winger needs “minor” surgery.

That procedure, however, will not preclude Burakovsky from returning to the Caps’ lineup in subsequent rounds, should Washington advance.

“That's why I said minor surgery,” Trotz added, asked if Burky might return at a later date.

This latest surgery is the second for Burakovsky this season. In late October, he had a procedure to repair a broken left thumb and missed the next 20 games.

Since his departure in Game 2, Jakub Vrana and Chandler Stephenson have taken turns replacing Burakovsky on the second line with Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie.

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Bradley Beal on his struggles, getting an apology from Scott Brooks

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Bradley Beal on his struggles, getting an apology from Scott Brooks

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks remarked after Game 2 and following practice on Thursday that he was partly to blame for Bradley Beal's modest scoring output through two games in the team's playoff series against the Raptors. They weren't just throwaway lines, a coach trying to make his star player feel better for struggling in the playoffs.

No, Brooks truly meant what he said and followed up those comments with an apology face-to-face. Brooks met with Beal and John Wall in between Games 2 and 3 to see how they can get Beal going and reiterated that some of it all was on the coach.

"He apologized to me, which was weird because he's somebody who always holds me accountable for stuff," Beal said after Friday's shootaround. "I guess he figured I wasn't shooting the ball enough and he thought it was his fault. I don't know."

Beal, who is averaging 14.0 points in two games and scored only nine in Game 2, came away from the meeting with a good understanding of what he needs to do to get back on track. After apologizing, Brooks laid out a strategy in hopes that he, Wall and Beal can all be on the same page moving forward.

They need to get their All-Star shooting guard back to form on the offensive end.

"He just basically challenged me. He challenged me to be more aggressive on the offensive and defensive end," Beal said.

What has made Beal's scoring troubles through two games particularly surprising is how well he played against the Raptors during the regular season. He averaged 28.8 points in four games against Toronto and all were without Wall.

Beal shot 50 percent against the Raptors both from the field and from three. So far this series he's shooting just 39.3 percent from the field and 27.3 percent from long range.

Asked whether there is anything he can draw from the regular season to apply to the playoffs, Beal said it's not as easy as it may seem.

"Those games are different. The matchups are different to an extent. It's totally different in the playoffs because you have more time to prep and prepare and gameplan for us," he said. 

"I think the biggest thing is them being physical. They are real physical with me. Whenever I'm standing around on offense or moving around, they are grabbing me. I just need to be physical back with them. Keep moving off the ball and especially if Kyle [Lowry] is guarding me. Tire him out as much as possible. Continue to be aggressive."

Coaches use all sorts of leadership tactics to motivate players. Perhaps an apology will do the trick.

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BROOKS MAY CHANGE STARTING LINEUP FOR GAME 3