Nationals

Minn. college coach cleared in porn case off leave

Minn. college coach cleared in porn case off leave

MANKATO, Minn. (AP) A Minnesota college football coach cleared by a judge of child porn charges stemming from cellphone video of his naked children is no longer on administrative leave, but hasn't yet been reinstated atop the program, his school said Wednesday.

Minnesota State University, Mankato coach Todd Hoffner had been on leave since the videos were discovered on his university-issued phone last August. A judge last month tossed out the charges, agreeing with Hoffner's assertion that the video captured an innocent family moment.

Though Hoffner was cleared, school officials didn't immediately reinstate him, and he continued to watch from afar as the Mavericks played the final two games in a 13-1 season that carried them within a game of the NCAA Division II final.

In a brief two-paragraph statement late Wednesday night, the school said Hoffner's administrative leave had ended Monday. But the statement also said one of two complaints against Hoffner was still pending, and said Aaron Keen - who steered the Mavericks all season - remained in that capacity.

School spokesman Dan Benson, citing privacy laws, said he couldn't comment on the nature of that complaint, or another unspecified complaint that was investigated and resolved.

``The word `reinstated' would not be accurate,'' Benson said. ``He is no longer on leave. He remains on the payroll ... but he has not assumed duties as the head football coach again at this time.'' Benson said he couldn't say whether Hoffner had returned to campus this week.

Hoffner's home number in Mankato is no longer listed. A message left at his attorney's office after hours was not immediately returned.

After he was cleared Nov. 30, Hoffner said he wanted to return to work. At the time, he said being cleared of the charges made him ``so thankful to be waking up from this nightmare.''

Hoffner was charged after a school employee found the video on his university-issued cellphone and notified authorities. Hoffner had taken his problematic phone to work to be checked out.

Hoffner testified earlier that his three young children asked him to videotape a skit they had concocted after taking a bubble bath. His wife defended him, as have supporters who even held candlelight vigils on his behalf.

A search of his home computer found no evidence of child porn, and social workers found no evidence that the couple's children had been abused. Hoffner said he had never even watched the video.

Minnesota State, Mankato is part of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, which has a policy prohibiting using university-issued cellphones or mobile devices for personal use.

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Nationals romp Cardinals to pull within one win of the World Series

Nationals romp Cardinals to pull within one win of the World Series

WASHINGTON -- The governor is off now, no longer are the Nationals dealing with nip-and-tuck, cross-your-fingers baseball. They have turned into the heavy. 

A gleeful Monday evening at Nationals Park finished with a 3-0 National League Championship Series lead. The first NLCS home game in team history accelerated from tight to comfortable while Stephen Strasburg cruised along. The crux of the series has become clear in the simplest of terms: St. Louis can’t hit what the Washington starters are throwing. Patrick Corbin will try to end it Tuesday night. If he does, the once 19-31 Nationals will start the World Series Oct. 22 in either Houston or New York. 

Monday’s 8-1 pummeling of St. Louis provides Washington with daunting leverage. Teams leading the best-of-seven NLCS 3-0 have won the series 100 percent of time. The Nationals exist as a massive favorite to advance and likely to do so at home. Opposing Corbin on Tuesday is Dakota Hudson, a 24-year-old who led the league in walks and lasted just 4 ⅔ innings against Atlanta in the NLDS.

Again pulling the weight was a Nationals starting pitcher. Strasburg managed a strange seventh-inning situation to finish with just one unearned run allowed. Washington starters have allowed zero earned runs in 21 ⅔ innings this series. Little is left to be said about their dominance of a middling St. Louis lineup rendered fully inept. 

The bottom of the third inning was part anomaly, part predictable. St. Louis starter Jack Flaherty moved through the first two innings with little to shudder about. Victor Robles, back in the lineup for the first time in 10 days, began the third with a single. Strasburg bunted him to second. Adam Eaton singled with two outs to drive in Robles. Anthony Rendon’s rapidly sinking fly ball to left rattled out of Marcell Ozuna’s glove while he slid. Eaton scored. Juan Soto walked. Howie Kendrick arrived at a 2-1 count versus the teetering Flaherty. His double into the gap scored two more, promoting him to shark clap toward the dugout and high-on-life Gerardo Parra to grab and tap a mini stuffed shark hanging from the mesh in front of the dugout. 

Flaherty had not allowed four or more runs in an inning since June 25; 20 starts ago. He allowed four earned runs total in six September starts. Flaherty threw one more inning Monday before giving way to the bullpen. He lasted four innings, a deflating evening for the Cardinals’ top pitcher in a game they had to win. 

Kendrick and Ryan Zimmerman delivered back-to-back doubles in the fifth to bump the lead to 6-0. Robles homered in the sixth to go up 7-0. Zimmerman's single drove Kendrick across the plate in the eighth. In the meantime, Strasburg racked up strikeouts with changeups and curveballs before a splash of trouble in the seventh. 

Back-to-back singles started the inning. Paul DeJong’s single to left field seemed harmless enough until Juan Soto lost his feet when loading to throw. Soto ended up on his backside, the ball eventually coming into the infield to no one in particular. A run scored. Davey Martinez and trainer Paul Lessard approached the mound before Strasburg shooed them away with a death stare and handful of words. 

Strasburg closed the inning with back-to-back strikeouts -- his 11th and 12th of the evening -- to further suppress the Cardinals lineup. How bad has it been for St. Louis through three games? A starter who finished with seven hits allowed and an unearned run across seven innings is the laggard.

Four opportunities to crack the World Series now exist. Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon -- if necessary -- at home, then two during the weekend back in St. Louis, if it somehow comes to that. Monday’s luxury ride put them in position. Tuesday’s nine innings could send them over the hump.

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Nationals break out a stuffed 'Baby Shark' in dugout during NLCS

Nationals break out a stuffed 'Baby Shark' in dugout during NLCS

Based on how the 2019 season has gone for the Washington Nationals, and the impact 'Baby Shark' has had on it, would you really expect the rallying call to dissapear in the biggest game yet?

Of course not.

So, it's no surprise that during Game 3 of the NLCS, it was on full display.

First, DC Washington, who sang the National Anthem on Monday, concluded his performance by sneaking in a little chomp at the end.

But, that wouldn't be the last we saw of 'Baby Shark'. It appears that Gerardo Parra, the man who started all the hysteria, has a little homage to the song and chant in the dugout.

With Washington taking an early lead in Game 3 and up 2-0 in the series, don't expect 'Baby Shark' to go anywhere anytime soon.

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