Nationals

Thursday's Sports in Brief

Thursday's Sports in Brief

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) The ``conspiracy of silence'' that protected Jerry Sandusky extended all the way to the top at Penn State, prosecutors said Thursday as they charged former university President Graham Spanier with hushing up child sexual abuse allegations against the former assistant football coach.

Prosecutors also added counts against two of Spanier's former subordinates, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, who already were charged with lying to a grand jury.

``This was not a mistake by these men. This was not an oversight. It was not misjudgment on their part,'' state Attorney General Linda Kelly said. ``This was a conspiracy of silence by top officials to actively conceal the truth.''

Spanier's lawyers issued a statement that asserted his innocence and described the new charges as an attempt by Gov. Tom Corbett to divert attention from the three-year investigation that began under his watch as attorney general.

RUNNING

NEW YORK (AP) - The blue and orange finish line is in place in Central Park, no superstorm debris in sight.

Little else is normal with the New York City Marathon.

Though, the course will be the same since there was little damage, getting to the finish line could still be an adventure for runners from outlying areas.

Such is life in Sandy's aftermath - disrupted trains, planes, buses and ferries, flooded buildings, blocked roads and knocked out power.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg saw none of this as insurmountable and defended the decision to hold the race, insisting resources wouldn't be diverted from storm victims. He noted Thursday that electricity was expected to be restored to all of Manhattan by race day, freeing up ``up an enormous number of police.''

``This city is a city where we have to go on,'' he said.

City Council member Domenic Recchia Jr., however, called plans to hold the race ``just wrong'' in light of the ongoing misery among residents with no food, shelter or electricity.

PRO FOOTBALL

NEW YORK (AP) - The NFL and the players' union are combining to donate $1 million to the American Red Cross to help in the recovery efforts in the Northeast after Hurricane Sandy.

The league and its network broadcasters also will run TV pregame and in-game messages to promote donations during this weekend's games, beginning with Thursday night's game on NFL Network between Kansas City and San Diego.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Michael Vick remains the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, for next week and beyond.

Coach Andy Reid said he never considered benching Vick, he just wanted to step back and evaluate the beleaguered veteran.

LONDON (AP) - The Olympic Stadium is in need of a tenant and London Mayor Boris Johnson thinks the NFL could be the right match.

Just a few days after the NFL's sixth regular-season game at Wembley Stadium, Johnson said he has spoken with the league about playing more games in the British capital.

All six NFL games in London so far have been at Wembley, including the New England Patriots' 45-7 win over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Some BCS officials are almost as giddy about the prospect of Notre Dame playing in one of their bowls games as Fighting Irish fans are.

``I tend to think right now, there's a lot to be played, but I don't see how they could avoid being in a BCS game somewhere,'' Fiesta Bowl executive director Robert Shelton said. ``They have four games left. Anything can happen, but they're looking so strong. Even if they only win two of those, certainly if they win three or four, they will be in a BCS game.''

The fourth-ranked Fighting Irish (8-0) are third in the BCS standings heading into their game against Pittsburgh (4-4) on Saturday, where they are 16.5-point favorites. They likely will be favored against Boston College (2-6) and Wake Forest (4-4) before the season finale at Southern California (6-2).

Officials with the Fiesta, Rose, Orange and Sugar bowls all say they will consider the Irish under the right circumstances, primarily that they meet the minimum requirements of nine victories and being among the top 14 teams in the final BCS standings.

BASEBALL

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) - Former major league pitcher Pascual Perez, who had a troubled 11-season career that included two suspensions for drug use, was killed at his home in the Dominican Republic in an apparent robbery, police said.

Perez, who last played in the majors for the New York Yankees in 1991, was found with a severe head wound in a town west of the capital, Santo Domingo, and there was evidence at the scene to suggest that whoever killed him had been searching for money, said Joel Valdemiro, a prosecutor who is involved in the investigation.

No one was in custody and authorities did not reveal whether they had any suspects. Police said there were several assailants and that the house in the town of San Gregrorio de Nigua appeared to have been ransacked.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Rhode Island's economic development agency sued former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling and some of its former officials, saying they committed fraud and other acts that misled the state into approving a $75 million loan guarantee to his failed video game company.

The suit was filed in Rhode Island Superior Court four months after 38 Studios filed for bankruptcy following a spectacular collapse that has likely left the state on the hook for as much as $100 million.

MILWAUKEE (AP) - The Milwaukee Brewers outrighted outfielder Nyjer Morgan to Triple-A Nashville.

Morgan hit .304 while helping Milwaukee win the NL Central in 2011, but slumped to .239 this year and the Brewers failed to make the playoffs. He is a .280 career hitter over six seasons with Pittsburgh, Washington and Milwaukee.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The World Series champion San Francisco Giants are parting ways with Aubrey Huff, declining to exercise his $10 million club option after two disappointing seasons following a big year during the team's title run two years ago.

OLYMPICS

LONDON (AP) - The IOC opened an investigation into Lance Armstrong's role in a doping scandal that has already wiped out his seven Tour de France titles and could cost him his Olympic bronze medal.

The IOC will also examine the Olympic involvement of other riders and officials implicated in a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report that detailed ``the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.''

PRO BASKETBALL

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Bobcats owner Michael Jordan says he's ``in it for the long haul'' when it comes to seeing his struggling franchise transformed into a consistent winner.

He knows it won't be a quick, easy process after Charlotte ``hit rock bottom'' last season. But the always-competitive Jordan says the franchise needs to start turning things around.

He said Thursday that the Bobcats are not a playoff team now, ``but we need to get the ball rolling in the right direction.''

NEW YORK (AP) - The game between the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets that was postponed by SuperStorm Sandy will be played on Monday, Nov. 26.

GOLF

SHENZHEN, China (AP) - Louis Oosthuizen and Adam Scott shot 7-under 65s to lead the HSBC Champions after the first round Thursday.

Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open winner, played a bogey-free round with seven birdies, while Scott finished his round with two birdies and an eagle on the par-5 ninth hole.

Two-time HSBC Champions winner Phil Mickelson was in a tie for third one shot back, along with Bubba Watson, Peter Hanson and Shane Lowry.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Defending champion Jay Don Blake birdied three of the final four holes for a 6-under 64 and the first-round lead in the Champions Tour's season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship.

AUTO RACING

Interim IndyCar CEO Jeff Belskus insisted it is business as usual for the series after a week of upheaval that included sharp criticism over the abrupt and awkward end of a three-year run by CEO Randy Bernard.

Belskus, who is also the Indianapolis Motor Speedway chief executive, ran IndyCar after Tony George's resignation in 2009 until Bernard took over in early 2010. He said again that the Hulman-George family, which owns both the speedway and IndyCar, is not considering selling the money-draining open-wheel series.

TENNIS

PARIS (AP) - Andy Murray wasted a match point against a qualifier ranked 69th and quickly lost his composure.

Jerzy Janowicz of Poland rallied to stun the U.S Open and Olympic champion 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-2 Thursday in the third round of the Paris Masters.

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) - Already qualified for the semifinals, top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki beat Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4 to make it three wins from three at the season-ending Tournament of Champions.

SOCCER

NEW YORK (AP) - Landon Donovan isn't sure he wants to play at the 2014 World Cup, a stance that prompted U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann to say he intends to speak with the longtime American star.

The 30-year-old Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder, a veteran of three World Cups, has been sidelined by a string of injuries this year and has appeared in just eight of 20 national team games since Klinsmann became coach.

BOXING

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Evander Holyfield filed a lawsuit to try to stop the upcoming auction of some of his boxing memorabilia, including an Olympic bronze medal and the gloves he wore to fight Mike Tyson.

Holyfield's lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles and seeks an order blocking the sale of 20 of the almost 450 items set for auction Nov. 30 by Julien's Auctions.

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5 things you should know about new Nationals' pitcher Kelvin Herrera

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USA TODAY Sports

5 things you should know about new Nationals' pitcher Kelvin Herrera

The Nationals traded for Royals' pitcher Kelvin Herrera this evening. 

Not only did the Nationals trade for Kelvin Herrera, but they did so without losing Juan Soto, Victor Robles, or Andrew Stevenson. The first two were never in any real danger of being traded for a relief pitcher who will be a free agent at year's end, but the Nats escaped only giving up their 10th and 11th ranked prospects:

On the surface, this deal looks exceptional for the Nationals. Herrera is another back-of-the-bullpen type that only further deepens the Nats' options in that department. Here are a handful of things you should know about the Nationals' newest pitcher:

1. Herrera's strikeout "issue" is complicated 

Herrera, like many other closers over the last half-decade, has made his name in strikeouts. He topped out at a 30.4 percent strikeout rate in 2016, and has a 23.4 percent clip for his career. His K% this season sits at 23.2 percent, which is both higher than last season and lower than his career average. 

People will look at his dramatic K/9 drop as a red flag, but "per/9" stats are flawed and not generally a worthwhile stat to build an argument around. A pitcher who gets knocked around for five runs in an inning -- but gets three strikeouts -- can have the same K/9 of a different (much more efficient) pitcher who strikes out the side in order. 

2. Herrera has basically stopped walking batters 

His career BB% sits at 7.1 percent. His highest clip is nine percent (2014, 2015) and his lowest was a shade over four percent (2016). 

This season, he's walking batters at a two percent  rate. In 27 games this season, he's walked two batters. Two! 

3. The jury seems to still be out on how good of a year he's had so far

Analytics are frustrating. On one hand, they can serve wonderfully as tools to help peel back the curtains and tell a deeper story - or dispel lazy narratives. On the other hand, they can be contradictory, confusing, and at times downright misleading. 

Take, for instance, Herrera's baseline pitching stats. His ERA sits at 1.05, while his FIP sits at 2.62. On their own, both numbers are impressive. On their own, both numbers are All-Star level stats. 

When you stack them against each other, however, the picture turns negative. While ERA is the more common stat, it's widely accepted that FIP more accurately represents a pitcher's true value (ERA's calculation makes the same per/9 mistakes that were mentioned above). 

More often than not, when a pitcher's ERA is lower than his FIP, that indicates said pitcher has benefited from luck. 

Throw in a 3.51 xFIP (which is the same as FIP, but park-adjusted) and we suddenly have a real mess on our hands. Is he the pitcher with the great ERA, the pitcher with the Very Good FIP, or the pitcher with the medicore xFIP? 

4. He was a fastball pitcher, and then he wasn't, and now he is again

Take a look at Herrera's pitch usage over his career in Kansas City:

In only three years, he's gone from throwing a sinker 31 percent of the time to completely giving up on the pitch. That's pretty wild. 

Since 2014, he's gone to the slider more and more in every year. 

His current fastball usage would be the highest of his career. He only appeared in two games during the 2011 season, so those numbers aren't reliable. Going away from the sinker probably helps explain why his Ground Ball rate has dropped 10 percentage points, too. 

5. The Nats finally have the bullpen they've been dreaming about for years

Doolittle, Herrera, Kintzler, and Madson is about as deep and talented as any bullpen in baseball.

Justin Miller, Sammy Solis, and Wander Suero all have flashed serious potential at points throughout the year. Austin Voth is waiting for roster expansion in September. 

The Nats have been trying to build this type of bullpen for the better part of the last decade. Health obviously remains an important factor, but Rizzo's got the deepest pen of his time in D.C. 

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MacLellan: Reirden will get the first crack at replacing Trotz

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USA TODAY Sports

MacLellan: Reirden will get the first crack at replacing Trotz

Will Todd Reirden replace Barry Trotz as head coach of the Washington Capitals?

Based on what GM Brian MacLellan said Monday, it certainly sounds like it’s Reirden’s job to lose.

“We’re going to start with Todd here,” MacLellan said. “I think we’ve been grooming him to be a head coach, whether for us or someone else.”

“We’ll see how the talk goes with him and we’ll make a decision based on that,” MacLellan added. “If it goes well, we’ll pursue Todd. And if it doesn’t, we’ll open it up a little bit.”

MacLellan said he isn’t sure exactly when the interview with Reirden will take place. The front office needs a few days to regroup. It’s also a busy stretch in hockey’s offseason. In the coming two weeks, MacLellan will direct the NHL draft in Dallas, monitor development camp in Arlington and then call the shots when free agency begins on July 1.  

“We need to take a breather here but I think Todd is a good candidate for it,” MacLellan said. “I’d like to sit down with Todd and have a normal interview, head coaching interview. I think most of our discussions are just casual. It’s about hockey in general. But I’d like to do a formal interview with him and just see if there’s differences or how we’re seeing things the same and if he’s a possibility for the head coach.”

Reirden, 46, spent the past four seasons on Trotz’s bench. He was elevated to associate coach prior to the 2016-17 season after coming up just short in his pursuit of the head coaching position in Calgary.

Reirden’s primary responsibility on Trotz’s staff was overseeing the defense and Washington’s perennially potent power play.

Prior to joining the Capitals in 2014, he was an assistant coach for four seasons with the Penguins. And before that, he spent a couple of seasons as the head coach of AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, the Penguins’ top minor league affiliate.

A native of Deerfield, Ill., Reirden also had a lengthy professional career that included 183 NHL games with the Oilers, Blues, Thrashers and Coyotes.

Asked what he’s looking for in the Caps’ next head coach, MacLellan said he’s looking for a forward-thinker, a strong communicator and a players’ coach.

Reirden is all of those things.

“Someone that's up to date on the modern game,” MacLellan said. “Someone that's progressive, looking to try different things. Someone that has a good relationship with players. They communicate, can teach, make players better. It's becoming a developmental league where guys are coming in not fully developed products and we need a guy that can bring young players along because more and more we're going to use young players as the higher end guys make more money.”

One of the side benefits of elevating Reirden is the fact he already has a strong relationship with many of the current players, meaning there won’t be much upheaval as the Caps look to defend their championship.

“It could be a natural transition,” MacLellan said. “But once we sit down and talk face to face about all the little small details in the team, I'll have a better feel for it.”

MacLellan said a decision on the other assistant coaches—Lane Lambert, Blaine Forsythe, Scott Murray, Brett Leonhardt and Tim Ohashi—will be made after the next head coach is named.

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