Wizards

Tuesday's Sports in Brief

Tuesday's Sports in Brief

NEW YORK (AP) Mark Sanchez is no longer the New York Jets' franchise quarterback.

He might not even be the backup.

Rex Ryan decided to bench Sanchez on Tuesday in favor of Greg McElroy after the fourth-year quarterback had another miserable performance in a 14-10 loss at Tennessee on Monday night that eliminated New York from playoff contention.

``I think it's best for our team, and for this game,'' Ryan said during a conference call.

So, it'll be McElroy under center for his first NFL start when the Jets (6-8) play the San Diego Chargers at home Sunday. Ryan hasn't decided whether Sanchez or Tim Tebow - listed as the No. 2 quarterback - will be the backup.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher was apparently worried he would lose his baby and money to his longtime girlfriend before fatally shooting her and killing himself, according to newly released police reports.

Belcher also complained about Kasandra Perkins, the mother of the couple's 3-month-old daughter, in conversations and text messages sent to a woman he was dating on the side, the reports show.

In one text message sent in late October or early November, Belcher wrote he ``would shoot'' Perkins ``if she didn't leave him alone.'' The girlfriend told police that Belcher said ``his child's mother threatened to take all his money and his child if they split up'' and ``knew exactly how to press his buttons and make him angry.''

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) - New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz visited the home of the 6-year-old Connecticut shooting victim who was buried in a replica Cruz jersey.

Jack Pinto was among 20 children shot to death Friday in Newtown. Several elementary school-age children played touch football in the front yard of his family's home Tuesday. Many wore Giants jerseys or Newtown football or wrestling shirts as they laughed, smiled and hugged.

The children and their families left after several hours. Kids carried autographed Giants footballs and jerseys.

About 45 minutes later, Cruz left the home in an SUV and an escort of five police cruisers, sirens blaring. He later tweeted that he has ``much love to the entire Pinto family. Great people with huge hearts.''

BEREA, Ohio (AP) - New Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and his CEO, Joe Banner, have several personnel decisions to make once the season ends.

You can scratch president off their list after they hired Alec Scheiner to be the team's new president.

Scheiner, 39, will join Cleveland after eight years with the Cowboys. He was senior vice president and general counsel with Dallas the last five years.

NEW YORK (AP) - A nine-game winning streak has Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on top of the AP Pro32 NFL power rankings for the first time.

The latest win came on the road, 34-17 at Baltimore, and was impressive enough to lift the Broncos to No. 1 by three points over the San Francisco 49ers.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Wisconsin will hire Utah State's Gary Andersen as head football coach to replace Bret Bielema, according to multiple media reports.

The Wisconsin State Journal was first to report that Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez had offered Andersen the job. Andersen is in his fourth year at Utah State and is coming off his best season yet.

The 18th-ranked Aggies won the Western Athletic Conference and finished 11-2, with a school record for victories after beating Toledo 41-15 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Saturday.

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Chalk up another major award for Johnny Manziel.

The Texas A&M quarterback became the first freshman to be voted The Associated Press Player of the Year in college football on Tuesday. He also won the Heisman Trophy and Davey O'Brien Award.

Manziel collected 31 votes to 15 for Manti Te'o, Notre Dame's star linebacker, who finished second.

The 6-foot-1 Manziel threw for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns and ran for 1,181 yards and 19 more scores to help the Aggies to 10 wins for the first time since 1998.

BATH TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson pleaded guilty to driving with a suspended license and remains eligible to play in the Outback Bowl against South Carolina.

Wolverines spokesman David Ablauf said that Robinson paid a fine and faces no additional punishment from the school.

BASEBALL

BOSTON (AP) - The Boston Red Sox moved forward with their strategy of giving free agents short-term contracts by reaching a $9.5 million, one-year agreement with shortstop Stephen Drew.

A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that Drew will take a physical before the deal can be completed. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement was not complete.

Boston also finalized a $4.25 million, one-year contract with 37-year-old reliever Koji Uehara, a deal agreed to two weeks ago at the winter meetings

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - The Oakland Athletics agreed to terms of a two-year contract with shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima of Japan's Seibu Lions.

The deal runs through the 2014 season and includes a club option for 2015.

Nakajima, a seven-time Pacific League All-Star, has a .302 batting average with 149 home runs, 664 RBIs and 134 stolen bases over 11 seasons with Seibu.

SAN DIEGO (AP) - All that happy talk about Phil Mickelson becoming part owner of his hometown San Diego Padres was just that - talk.

Mickelson will not be involved with the group that bought the Padres in August, his spokesman, T.R. Reinman, told The Associated Press on Tuesday night.

Reinman said the pro golfer told friends of his decision before a meeting at Torrey Pines Golf Course to discuss renovation of the North Course.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - The Tampa Bay Rays signed right-hander Roberto Hernandez, the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona.

The one-year deal is worth $3.25 million.

The 32-year-old Hernandez has pitched seven years in the majors, all with Cleveland. He was 0-3 with a 7.53 ERA last season.

NEW YORK (AP) - The New York Yankees' luxury tax bill for this year has gone up by nearly $400,000.

Major League Baseball sent a revised accounting to the team, raising New York's payment to $19,311,642 from $18,917,994. The change reflected how one player's salary was accounted for.

New York is the only team to pay the luxury tax this year. The Yankees' final payroll for luxury tax purposes climbed from $222.5 million to $223.4 million.

The Yankees pay at a 42.5 percent rate on the amount over the $178 million threshold.

New York's regular payroll increased from $223.3 million to a record $224.2 million.

PRO HOCKEY

NEW YORK (AP) - Winnipeg Jets defenseman Ron Hainsey told The Associated Press the players' association is ready and willing to get back to the bargaining table with the NHL.

Talks broke down again last week after two days of negotiations involving a federal mediator, and the hockey season is in jeopardy.

The sides haven't been in touch with each other for several days since the NHL filed a class action suit Friday in U.S. District Court in New York, seeking to establish that its lockout is legal. In a separate move, the NHL filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming the players' association has bargained in bad faith.

PRO BASKETBALL

NEW YORK (AP) - Amare Stoudemire practiced for the first time this season Tuesday, though the Knicks forward isn't sure when he can return.

Stoudemire scrimmaged with Erie, the Knicks' NBA Development League affiliate, which was practicing at the Knicks' training center.

SKIING

MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO, Italy (AP) - Lindsey Vonn doesn't plan to do any serious training on skis during her midseason break from the World Cup.

Rainer Salzgeber, racing director of Vonn's equipment supplier Head, told The Associated Press that the four-time overall winner hasn't asked for her ski technician Heinz Haemmerle to follow her to the United States.

``No, she won't ski. She said she needs to rest and get her fitness, and I think also her mind,'' Salzgeber said at a men's slalom race. ``She wants to do some dry-land training, and that's it.''

MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO, Italy (AP) - Defending overall World Cup champion Marcel Hirscher of Austria was fastest in both runs, winning a night slalom marred by the death of a gatekeeper.

Hirscher moved past American rival Ted Ligety into second place in the overall standings. Ligety, who has dominated in giant slalom this season, finished ninth.

The race was delayed for about 15 minutes during the first run. After the first eight starters, a 70-year-old gatekeeper became ill. Organizers say he had a history of heart problems and medical personnel attempted to resuscitate him for about an hour.

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) - Gary Gaines, the 63-year-old high school coach at the center of the ``Friday Night Lights'' book and film, has left the Odessa Permian sideline for the last time.

Gaines said he resigned from the West Texas football program he helped make famous. He said he doubts he'll coach again but wasn't sure what's next for him.

He leaves with a 69-28-1 record in eight years as Permian's head coach, including a 23-21 mark in his last four years. In all, he coached Permian from 1986-89 and 2009-12, and was an assistant there for three years in the early 1980s.

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Real Marquee Matchup: Wizards face Jimmy Butler, Heat team that has set good example to follow

Real Marquee Matchup: Wizards face Jimmy Butler, Heat team that has set good example to follow

The 2019-20 season for the Wizards can be viewed as somewhat of a gap year, in that they hope their current organizational reset doesn't take long. It seems to be their goal to be back in the playoff mix next season with John Wall back and Bradley Beal operating through his prime.

Their best path towards doing that may look a lot like the team they face on Wednesday night, the Miami Heat (7:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington). After missing the playoffs last season with a 39-43 record, the Heat are now 30-13 and second in the Eastern Conference.

The jump they have made is unusual, so don't focus too much on the standings. Instead look at how they have improved and how parallels could be drawn to the Wizards.
The Heat are led by Jimmy Butler, an All-Star wing who is a level above everyone else on their roster. The same could be said about Bradley Beal.

They have a point guard in Goran Dragic, who is still effective despite not being the 20-point scoring All-Star he used to be, now that he's lost a step. The way he plays could be a reasonable expectation for Wall as he works his way back to All-Star form coming off an Achilles injury.

Miami has assembled a deep and multidimensional roster around them. They have an ascending young frontcourt player in Bam Adebayo. Rui Hachimura could follow a similar trajectory, albeit as a different style of player.

Miami also has an array of shooters. Duncan Robinson was undrafted, then signed to a two-way contract. Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn are rookies. The Wizards have their own group of emerging perimeter threats in Davis Bertans, Garrison Mathews and Jordan McRae.

The way the Heat win is with an efficient offense that includes deadly-accurate outside shooting and a slightly above average defense. They rank seventh in offensive rating (111.7) and 13th in defensive rating (108.1). And they are second in the NBA in three-point percentage (37.6) and eighth in threes made (12.7/g).

The Wizards are, of course, nowhere near even average on defense. Their defensive rating is 30th in the NBA and they possess none of the traits that make the Heat the defensive team they are. Miami, for instance, is first in opponent three-point percentage (32.7) and also first in defensive rebounding (32.3).

The Wizards, though, do already check off some boxes on offense. They are 11th in offensive rating (110.7) and eighth in three-point percentage (36.5). 

The Wizards have a long way to go to reach Miami's level, but the Heat's approach in a macro sense could be worth following and especially once Wall returns. Though Butler is their clear-cut best player, he only attempts 13.4 shots per game, second-most on the team. Dragic, despite being a former All-Star, takes only 12.1 per game.

The Wizards have long done things differently. Back in 2016-17, when they had their best season in many years, Wall averaged 18.4 shots and Beal took 17.2 per game.

Despite taking fewer shots, Butler is still able to put up numbers. He is averaging 20.2 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game. Combined with his defense, that is plenty to compete for the All-Star team and maybe even All-NBA honors. Meanwhile, he gets credit for being the face of a winning team.

The Heat have a roster that is a bit top-heavy that has been filled out nicely with unheralded moves and young players. That is how the Wizards' roster might be described a year from now. In order to make it work and win some games, they might want to pay attention to how Miami is doing it.

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'MLB The Show 20' features the 'Soto Shuffle' and iconic moments from Nationals' World Series season

'MLB The Show 20' features the 'Soto Shuffle' and iconic moments from Nationals' World Series season

One of the first things some Nationals fans noticed about PlayStation's trailer for the "MLB The Show 20," which was released Wednesday, was the inclusion of the "Soto Shuffle" after Juan Soto takes a ball.

Back in November one (possibly psychic?) Nationals fan tweeted his hope that the newest edition of the game would include Soto's iconic move at the plate, which the outfielder uses to psych-out opponents.

In Game 1 of the NLCS, Cardinals pitcher Miles Mikolas wasn't too happy with the "Soto Shuffle," but Soto never stopped the move.  

According to the preview, the new video game also includes a Trea Turner dugout dance party at Nationals Park and former National Anthony Rendon in his new Los Angeles Angels garb.

No word yet as to whether Gerardo Parra's "Baby Shark" or Adam Eaton and Howie Kendrick's "Clutch and Drive" made the cut. 

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