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Playoff sites likely to be picked by end of April

Playoff sites likely to be picked by end of April

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) The home of the first national championship game under the new playoff system, along with the three remaining semifinal rotation sites, will likely be picked by the end of April.

The second-to-last season of the Bowl Championship Series will wrap up Monday night, with No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 2 Alabama playing for the national title in Miami.

Starting with the 2014 season, the national champion of major college football will be determined with a four-team playoff. Three of the six sites that will be in the semifinal rotation have been picked. The others, along with the sites of the first and future championship games, will be in place before the summer, BCS executive director Bill Hancock said Monday.

``We're going to announce the first (championship game) site even sooner than others,'' he said. ``I think it might happen even sooner than April''.

The BCS holds a regular meeting of conference commissioners in late April.

``What we anticipate in April is to announce is a couple, three more (championship sites) - 2015, 2016 and maybe `17,'' Hancock said. ``I think there's no question by April we will know who the other three participants in the rotation will be for semifinals.

The conference commissioners have already narrowed down possibilities for the first championship game site to Arlington, Texas (Cotton Bowl); Pasadena, Calif. (Rose Bowl), Glendale, Ariz. (Fiesta Bowl); Atlanta (Chick-fil-A Bowl); New Orleans (Sugar Bowl); Miami (Orange Bowl).

Sites for future national title games will be bid out the way the Super Bowl and Final Four are, and could end up in places that have not traditionally hosted major bowls.

The Rose, Sugar and Orange bowls have already been chosen for the semifinal rotation. The other three sites are likely to be Arlington, Glendale and Atlanta.

Hancock would only say the commissioners would prefer to have sites in three different time zones.

Hancock, speaking to reporters from the Football Writers Association of America, said the conference commissioners are working with a concept of having 15 to 18 people on the selection committee that will pick the final four participants.

Similar to the group that sets the field for the NCAA men's basketball tournament, the panel will be comprised of college athletics administrators, such as conference commissioners and athletic directors. The committee needs to be large enough accommodate members recused when teams from the conferences they represent are discussed.

``There were years in the basketball committee where we had so many recusals there were only four people left in the room to make some big decisions,'' Hancock said. ``We can't deal with that in football. I would envision every conference having a representative. The independents having a representative, and then some number of at-large people to be determined by the commissioners.

``It will be the most prestigious committee in college sports. It will be the most scrutinized committee in college sports. We are committed to a high level of transparency.''

The current BCS standings use two polls - the Harris poll and the coaches' poll - along with computers ratings that mostly do not reveal their formulas to determine the top two teams in the country. There is no plan to have an equivalent of the BCS standings in the new postseason system.

The college basketball selection committee uses a computer-rating called the Rating Percentage Index (RPI) as one of many tools to pick the field.

Hancock said they could not make an RPI equivalent for football.

``We ran an RPI and it was not accurate'' because there's not enough information coming out of a 12-game regular-season, he said.

``How I envision it, and I think the commissioners do to, is (the committee will) have everything at their disposal. They'll have computer rankings, they'll have the writers' poll, they'll have the coaches' poll, and they'll look at it all but at the end of the day it'll come down to the eye test. It'll come down to common sense.

``Who did you play? Did you win your conference? Where did you play? Who was injured when you played that game? What about common opponents? What about head-to-head?''

The committee will attempt to have the highest-seeded teams in the semifinal pairings play closest to home. There will be no limit to how many teams from a conference can be selected for the final four, and the committee will not avoid pairing teams from the same conference in the semifinals.

Both semifinals will be played on the same day, either New Year's Eve or New Year's Day, and the championship game will always be played on Monday night, at least a week later.

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First-round draft pick Alex Alexeyev highlights Capitals' first round of roster cuts

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NBC Sports Washington

First-round draft pick Alex Alexeyev highlights Capitals' first round of roster cuts

Several up and coming youngsters within the Washington Capitals' organization were sent back to their junior teams Wednesday, marking the team's first cuts of 2018 training camp.

Headlining the group is Russian defenseman Alex Alexeyev. The 18-year-old, who stands 6-4 and weighs just south of 200 pounds, was selected by the Caps with the No. 31 overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.

Don't forget Mr. Irrelevant, either. Washington selected Eric Florchuk from the Saskatoon Blades with the very last pick in the seventh and final round of the draft.

Here's what he can do on the ice.

Kody Clark, Riley Sutter, Alex Kannok-Leipert and Kristian Marthinsen were other notable names asked to pack their bags. 

The Capitals open the 2018-19 season at home against the Boston Bruins Oct. 3 at 7:30 p.m.

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2018 MLB Wild Card Playoff Race: The Dodgers are back

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USA TODAY Sports

2018 MLB Wild Card Playoff Race: The Dodgers are back

The Los Angeles Dodgers have flipped the National League West, the Tampa Bay Rays are making a valiant run, and the Washington Nationals are hanging in there.

Races heading into the 2018 Major League Baseball Postseason still find a way to stay interesting after 150 games. 

The NL Central, NL West, AL and NL Wild Card battles are all going to be watched under a microscope with less than two week's worth of games remaining. Not too far away either is the NL East. 

Joining the Boston Red Sox, the Cleveland Indians are only the second team to clinch a postseason spot. They claimed the AL Central crown and will make the playoffs as the No. 3 team in the AL Bracket. No one though has clinched a position in the National League yet, and likely will not until the final week. 

Eight spots remain with the Astros and Yankees not being too far away from joining the list. At the rate the Dodgers are winning games (six of their last seven), they probably are not far off either. No matter what, Los Angeles is in a good spot after they once were at risk for missing the playoffs for the first time since 2012. 

One team that has fallen out of that conversation is the Atlanta Braves who were a game and a half from the top seed in the NL. Now they have lost four straight and leave the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals still holding out hope. 

National League Postseason Picture:

Central: Chicago Cubs 89-62

West: Los Angeles Dodgers 84-68 

East: Atlanta Braves 83-68 

National League Wild Card Standings (Games remaining against Wild Card teams): 

Milwaukee Brewers: 86-66         +3.5 (3)
Ramaining:
vs. Cincinnati (1)
@ Pittsburgh (3)
@ St. Louis (3)
vs. Detroit (3)
St. Louis Cardinals: 84-68         +1.5 (3)
Remaining:
@ Atlanta Braves (1)
vs. San Francisco (3)
vs. Milwaukee (3)
@ Chicago Cubs (3)
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Colorado Rockies: 82-69            -1.5 (10)
Remaining:
@ LA Dodgers (1)
@ Arizona (3)
vs. Philadelphia (4)
vs. Washington (3)
Philadelphia Phillies: 77-73        -6.0 (4)
Remaining:
vs. NY Mets (1)
@ Atlanta (4)
@ Colorado (4)
vs. Atlanta (3)
Arizona Diamondbacks: 78-74    -6.0 (3)
Remaining:
vs. Chicago Cubs (1)
vs. Colorado (3)
vs. LA Dodgers (3)
vs. San Diego (3)
Washington Nationals: 77-75      -7.0 (3)
Remaining:
vs. NY Mets (4)
vs. Miami (3)
@ Colorado (3)

Since the last update, the Milwaukee Brewers and the St. Louis Cardinals have not done much to add to their leads in the Wild Card. Milwaukee playing against lower teams at home in the division, only won two games in their past two series, with one being Christian Yelich's cycle. St. Louis lost three out of four to the Dodgers, but rebounded to take two against Atlanta.

Still, they hold the final two spots and have benefited with the Dodgers running through the NL West.

While the Dodgers jumped past the Rockies for the lead in the division, if Colorado can rebound it will make for an interesting finish in the National League as a whole.

However, the Rockies can't even beat the lower tier teams, shutout twice in the Bay. The Rockies will have a say in how the remainder of the season plays out, especially in the NL East, playing the Phillies and the Nats as both are grasping for straws with the Braves sinking. 

Once again the Nationals are on the way out, looking in. They remain in the update only because they have a slight chance in the division (6.5 games back), and a real favorable schedule. At the same time, write-off the Arizona Diamondbacks, they are 4-13 in their last 17.

American League:

East: Boston Red Sox: 103-48 -- clinched postseason spot

West: Houston Astros: 95-56 

Central: Cleveland Indians: 84-66 -- clinched division

American League Wild Card Standings (Games remaining against Wild Card teams):

New York Yankees: 92-58      +8.0 (4)
Remaining:
vs. Boston (2)
vs. Baltimore (3)
@ Tampa Bay (4)
@ Boston (3)
Oakland Athletics: 90-61        +5.5 (0)
Remaining:
vs. LA Angels (2)
vs. Minnesota (3)
@ Mariners (3)
@ LA Angels (3)
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Tampa Bay Rays: 84-66          -5.5 (4)
Remaining:
@ Texas (1)
vs. Toronto (4)
vs. NY Yankees (4)
vs. Toronto (3)

Just when it looked like the Yankees and the Oakland Athletics were going to be in a footrace for the top Wild Card spot, it evaporated. Losing once to the Baltimore Orioles, twice to the Tampa Bay Rays and another to the Los Angeles Angels, the Athletics faded. On the flip side New York got a huge win at home against the MLB-leading Red Sox.

The remaining schedule for each remain polar opposites as the calendar winds down. A race will still likely present itself.

Tampa Bay missed a golden chance to give themselves an outside shot. A sweep against Oakland, combined with the other results would have got them within 4.5 games. An extra-inning loss at home essentially ended their far hopes. Their record post All-Star break? 35-19.

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