Capitals

Livestrong, KC Sporting sever ties

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Livestrong, KC Sporting sever ties

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The loss of trust - not money or a tarnished reputation - led Sporting KC to sever ties with the cancer charity founded by Lance Armstrong, according to a team official.

But Sporting KC chief executive Robb Heineman also said Wednesday the ``tumultuous environment'' that developed before the cyclist admitted using performance enhancing drugs also played into the Major League Soccer team's decision to end the relationship.

``The severance for us was about violating the trust of a partnership. That's what they did. Does Lance bleed over into that? Certainly,'' Heineman said. ``Whether anyone wants to say it or not, he's connected to the foundation. He's why we have to always answer questions around him. ... It's something you can't get away from.''

Sporting KC announced Tuesday the team was changing the name of Livestrong Sporting Park to Sporting Park and ending its novel arrangement with the charity that began in 2011.

Under the naming rights deal, Livestrong didn't pay to have its name on the $200 million soccer stadium in Kansas City, Kan. Instead, the team promised to donate $7.5 million in stadium revenues to Livestrong over six years.

Heineman said the decision came after ESPN reported that Livestrong recently said Sporting still owed $750,000 of the $1 million promised to the foundation in 2012. Heineman said the team doesn't owe Livestrong any money, but he would not discuss the contract.

``When they started to, for the lack of a better term, start to drag us through the mud a little bit in public around the relationship, that's just nothing we have an interest in,'' Heineman said. ``I would call it inaccurate, unfair and a breach of confidentiality. I think that's at the core of any of this.''

But he said it's difficult to parse how much the loss of trust in Livestrong because of the contract discussion in the media and Armstrong's doping admission played into the end the partnership.

``It's a hard thing to say because one is so connected to the other,'' he said. ``If this would just have been about Lance and his reputation would we have made the same decision at some point? Potentially. Potentially.

``Because what this has begun to do over time as I mentioned to you is erode the focus of what we and the partnership were all about,'' he said. ``It wasn't about answering questions about what Lance did or didn't do.''

Heineman said Sporting and Livestrong had discussions for several months about their partnership but would not go into detail about those discussions.

``I think as the tension and as the tumultuous environment continued to kind of surround Livestrong, we kept working with them around how can we modify things,'' Heineman said. ``I think that what we saw was the brand was evolving .... And for us the vision of Livestrong always was it was going to be much bigger than one person.''

Armstrong resigned from the board of directors for Livestrong in November after a report by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency accused the cyclist of helping run ``the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen'' within his U.S. Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams.

Armstrong had persistently denied doping until this week when he admitted to Oprah Winfrey he used performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career, which included seven straight Tour de France victories. The first installment of the two-part interview airs Thursday night.

Greg Lee, chief financial officer for Livestrong, said in an emailed statement that it was the charity that terminated the agreement with Sporting KC, and the foundation doesn't discuss specifics about arrangements with its partners. He said his role is ``to ensure compliance by our corporate partners.''

``If a partner doesn't live up to the terms of our agreement, we have no choice but to bring that agreement to an end,'' he said.

Foundation spokeswoman Katherine McLane also said while Livestrong ``did not receive a significant portion of the revenues it was promised, it still invested nearly $40,000 in programs to serve people affected by cancer,'' at several Kansas City area institutions. McLane also said in an email that Livestrong will continue to invest such programs in the Kansas City area.

Sporting Park is scheduled to host the MLS All-Star game on July 31.

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John Carlson once again an All-Star snub

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USA TODAY Sports

John Carlson once again an All-Star snub

The Capitals' Stanley Cup run may be even more remarkable than we thought considering there were zero all-stars on Washington's roster apparently.

As part of Wednesday's NHL Awards, the First and Second-Team All-Star rosters were released and not a single Capital made either team.

Here is a look at both teams:

In the interest of full disclosure, the All-Star Teams are voted on by members of the Pro Hockey Writers Association of which I am a member. I did not, however, have a vote for the All-Star rosters.

The first thought most Caps fans will have when looking at these teams is what about Alex Ovechkin?

I'm actually OK with Taylor Hall and Claude Giroux getting the nods at left wing.

Hall won the Hart Trophy for what he was able to accomplish in New Jersey in leading a team that looked like a trash heap before the season to a playoff berth. Compare the Devils' roster to the Caps' and there's no question Hall had a lot less to work with than Ovechkin and tallied 93 points as compared to Ovechkin's 87. Giroux finished second in the NHL with 102 points, one of only three players this season to finish in the triple digits. He very narrowly beat out Ovechkin for Second Team honors.

It was a coin flip and Ovechkin lost. That's not what Caps fans should be crying foul over. The fact that John Carlson was not among the four defensive all-stars is a far more egregious omission for which there is no excuse.

After inexplicably being excluded from the NHL All-Star Game in January, Carlson was snubbed once again as he came in fifth in the voting.

Just what does Carlson have to do to get some recognition?

No defenseman in the entire NHL had more points than Carlson's 68 this season. That's not just because of increased minutes as Carlson finished 13th among defensemen in ice time per game.

But being a good defenseman is not about the offensive stats.

That's right. Now go ahead and show me which of the four who finished ahead of Carlson was partnered with a rookie for most of the season. I'll wait.

The answer is none of them.

It's very easy now to look at the Capitals as a team that had all the pieces in place and managed to put it all together at the right time to go on a Cup run, but that's not what happened this season. Carlson was very heavily relied upon by the Capitals during the regular season when the blue line was an obvious weakness, especially after an injury forced Matt Niskanen out of the lineup for 14 games. Carlson was averaging nearly 30 minutes per game in Niskanen's absence. Carlson also spent the majority of the season with his primary partner being a rookie in Christian Djoos.

Charlie McAvoy was a rookie too. Does that mean Zdeno Chara should have been named an all-star?

A player like McAvoy is very much the exception, not the rule. Djoos has a bright future ahead of him, but his career is not yet at the same level as a player like McAvoy.

With all due respect to the voters, it seems like not enough attention was paid to what the Capitals asked of Carlson this season. His strong play on both ends of the ice made up for a weak defense that was only bolstered by a late trade for Michal Kempny from the Chicago Blackhawks just prior to the trade deadline.

If you looked at Carlson's stats and saw just an offensive specialist who was not strong enough in his own end to warrant an all-star spot, then you were not paying close enough attention to the role he played in Washington this season.

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Orioles weather long rain delay in 3-0 win over Nationals

Orioles weather long rain delay in 3-0 win over Nationals

WASHINGTON -- The rain was heavy and relentless. As the puddles grew deeper on the tarp at Nationals Park, the Baltimore Orioles were left to wonder if their bid for a rare road victory would be thwarted by, of all things, the weather.

During a season in which very little has worked in their favor, the Orioles withstood a long rain delay to beat the Washington Nationals 3-0 Wednesday night.

Baltimore led 2-0 after four innings when play was stopped. After a wait of 2 hours, 43 minutes, the game resumed with a few hundred fans from the announced crowd of 32,153 sprinkled around the lower seating bowl.

Mark Trumbo homered for Baltimore, and Andrew Cashner and four relievers combined on a five-hitter in a game that ended long after midnight.

"It was nice," Trumbo said. "I'm glad that we actually kept the game going. Had we not been able to, it might have been a wash. But it ended up being pretty big for us."

Baltimore ended a six-game losing streak to Washington that began last May, won for only the fourth time in 20 games and improved the majors' worst road record to 10-28.

This one was worth the wait.

"It's never easy, especially when you get over the hour mark, two-hour mark," Trumbo said. "Then you have to restart. It's almost two games in one, so, great job by our guys tonight."

The Nationals managed only two hits following the delay, both in the ninth inning.

"It happens. You can't do anything about the rain," manager Dave Martinez said. "You've got to come out and get yourself ready to play. I'm not going to make any excuses."

The rain delay cut short a solid pitching performance by Cashner, who allowed three hits and no walks over four innings in his return from an 11-day stay on the disabled list with back spasms.

Miguel Castro (2-2) followed with two hitless innings, Darren O'Day pitched a perfect seventh and Zach Britton got four outs.

Brad Brach allowed the Nationals to load the bases with two outs in the ninth before striking out Mark Reynolds .

Trumbo hit a two-run homer in the second inning off Gio Gonzalez (6-4), and for a while it appeared the drive would be washed out by the rain.

"One pitch. That was the whole game," Gonzalez lamented. "That was it."

Indeed, it all ended well for the Orioles, who added a run in the sixth when Adam Jones doubled off Shawn Kelley and scored on a sacrifice fly by Danny Valencia .

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