Here is the latest Mid-America sports news from The Associated Press
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — The Chiefs could have stood pat after their second consecutive AFC championship, trusting in the fact that Patrick Mahomes would be their quarterback, Andy Reid their coach, and they would remain contenders for the foreseeable future. Instead, they tore most of their roster down to the studs and painstakingly pieced it back together. Now with training camp set to begin later this week, the Chiefs will have their first real opportunity to see whether all the changes have paid off.
HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey is echoing a call for potential changes in how college athletics are governed. Sankey spoke about the need for change to open SEC Media Days. Last week, NCAA President Mark Emmert says it is time to consider decentralizing and deregulating college sports. Sankey agreed that changes are needed. He says that does not necessarily mean the Power Five conferences should split from the rest of the NCAA.
Lester, Soto power Nationals in 18-1 rout of Marlins
UNDATED (AP) — Jon Lester pitched seven scoreless innings and homered, Juan Soto hit two home runs and the Washington Nationals routed the Miami Marlins 18-1.
Lester turned in his longest outing of the season, allowing six hits while striking out seven without a walk. Lester hit his fourth career homer and added a single for his fourth career multi-hit game. Soto continued his torrid post-All Star game pace, going 3-for-4 with five RBIs. He's 10-for-17 (.588) with five homers, 11 RBIs and eight runs scored in four games since the break. Trea Turner drove in four runs with a homer and a triple as Washington began a stretch of six games against the last-place Marlins and the Baltimore Orioles.
In other Monday action:
— Caleb Smith pitched 6 2/3 stellar innings, Eduardo Escobar hit a two-run homer for the second straight game and the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-2. It was a nice bounce-back outing for Smith, who was rocked for nine earned runs in one inning during a 22-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers just before the All-Star break. The left-hander even earned his first career stolen base, surprising the Pirates by getting a huge jump and swiping second. Escobar's homer was his 22nd of the season.
— Ramón Laureano hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning as Oakland finally got on the board once Shohei Ohtani left the mound, and the Athletics beat the Los Angeles Angels 4-1. Laureano connected against Steve Cishek after Ohtani left following six scoreless innings and eight strikeouts. It marked the two-way star's second outing on the mound when he also had at least a share of the major league home run lead. All-Star Matt Olson hit his team-leading 24th homer in the eighth for the A's.
— Buster Posey and Wilmer Flores hit back-to-back homers in the first inning, Thairo Estrada had a key double in the seventh and the San Francisco Giants defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 7-2 in the opener of a pivotal four-game series between the NL West rivals. Posey had two hits and drove in two runs in his first game back after he missed two weeks due to a bruised left thumb. Estrada came through with a two-run double in the seventh inning as the Giants broke open a close game by scoring four times. Max Muncy and Justin Turner homered for Los Angeles, which was held to four hits.
— Nelson Cruz hit a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning after tying the game with a solo shot in the sixth, and the Minnesota Twins beat the Chicago White Sox 3-2 in the first game of a doubleheader. Jorge Polanco added an RBI single in the eighth as Minnesota ended a three-game losing streak and beat division rival Chicago for just the third time in 13 games. Tim Anderson homered for the third straight game for the White Sox and extended his hitting
— The game between the Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres was postponed on Monday night because of rain and will be made up as part of a day-night doubleheader on Wednesday. Wednesday's first game will start at 12:20 p.m. as scheduled. The makeup game will begin at 5:20 p.m. Yu Darvish was supposed to start for San Diego, against Atlanta.
— Yordan Alvarez snapped an 0-for-22 slump with at two-run homer to help the Houston Astros to a 4-3 win over the Cleveland Indians. The Astros were up by 1 with one out in the fifth inning when Alvarez connected off rookie J.C. Mejía (1-5) on his soaring shot to the second deck right field to make it 4-1. Houston starter Zack Greinke (9-3) yielded five hits and two runs in 5 1/3 innings. Ryan Pressly walked one in a scoreless ninth for his 17th save.
— Dylan Carlson homered and drove in four runs, Jake Woodford pitched 5 2/3 strong innings in his first start of the season, and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Chicago Cubs 8-3. Woodford, who was recalled from Triple-A Memphis prior to the game, struck out six and didn't allow a walk. Carlson's four RBIs tied a career high set earlier this season on April 7 against Miami. Only one of the five runs allowed by Cubs starter Alec Mills was earned.
— Miguel Cabrera drove in five runs, including a bases-loaded double in a four-run fifth inning, and the Detroit Tigers went on to defeat the Texas Rangers 14-0. The Rangers have lost six straight, the last three by a combined score of 29-0. The last major league team to allow that many runs while being shut out in three straight games was the 1906 Brooklyn Superbas, who were outscored 31-0 between July 6-9.
— Hunter Renfroe hit a grand slam, Kiké Hernández drove in three runs with two homers and the Boston Red Sox routed the Toronto Blue Jays 13-4. Rookie Jarren Duran hit his first major league homer, Dylan Santana and Rafael Devers added blasts, and J.D. Martinez broke out of a slump with four hits as the Red Sox stopped a two-game skid. Red Sox starter Nick Pivetta allowed four runs on 11 hits and two walks while recording four strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.
— Rookie Gavin Sheets hit a game-ending three run homer in the bottom of the seventh, giving the Chicago White Sox a 5-3 win over the Minnesota Twins in the second game of a doubleheader. Minnesota won the opener 3-2 in eight innings, but the White Sox avoided a sweep when Sheets turned on a 3-1 fastball from Twins ace José Berrios and drove it deep to right for his fifth home run.
— Rookie right-hander Spenser Watkins gave up one run in six innings as the Baltimore Orioles tied a season high with their third consecutive win, 6-1 over the Tampa Bay Rays. The 28-year old Watkins, making his third start and fourth career appearance, scattered four hits, walked two and struck out seven. His ERA dropped from 1.74 to 1.65 in 16 1/3 innings. Watkins was signed as a minor league free agent in February after not pitching in 2020 and spending 2014-19 in Detroit's organization.
Mets manager Rojas suspended 2 games for outburst
UNDATED (AP) — New York Mets manager Luis Rojas has been suspended for two games and fined for excessive arguing with umpires. Rojas' outburst followed a bizarre play at Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Rojas started his suspension Monday night at Cincinnati. Bench coach Dave Jauss has temporarily taken over managerial duties. The argument followed a misplay by Mets starter Taijuan Walker that allowed the Pirates to score three runs. Walker swatted at a ball that he thought was foul, but it was called fair and no Mets players retrieved it. Rojas says he still believes the ball was foul.
In other MLB news:
San Francisco's injury woes have now hit arguably its best player during the first half of the season. The Giants placed All-Star shortstop Brandon Crawford on the 10-day injured list Monday due to an oblique strain. The move came as they opened a pivotal four-game series against the rival Los Angeles Dodgers. Manager Gabe Kapler said Crawford's MRI revealed a mild strain, and he was hopeful it would be a short stint on the IL.
— The Miami Marlins have placed infielder Jazz Chisholm Jr. and infielder/outfielder Garrett Cooper on the 10-day injured list. The pair got hurt a day earlier at Philadelphia. Chisholm left in the first inning with a left shoulder contusion following a diving attempt on Bryce Harper's single in short right field. Cooper departed in the eighth inning after a collision at first base with Travis Jankowski. He has a left elbow sprain.
Court of Arbitration for Sport rejects Ogwumike's appeal
TOKYO (AP) — Nneka Ogwumike and Elizabeth Williams won't be playing for Nigeria in the Olympics after the Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected their appeal.
The WNBA players had asked the CAS to grant them a provisional allowance and add them to the roster until a hearing could occur. The pair had been notified last week by FIBA that their petition to play for the African nation had been denied because they played for the U.S. national program for too long.
In other Olympic news:
— Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga says the world needs to see that Japan can stage a safe Olympics. He spoke to Olympic officials in a closed-door meeting in Tokyo. Events start Wednesday and the formal opening ceremony is scheduled for Friday. Tens of thousands of athletes, officials and workers are arriving in Japan amid a local state of emergency during the coronavirus pandemic. The postponed Olympics face opposition from many Japanese people. There will be no local or foreign fans at events. Suga says Japan "can bring success to the delivery of the Games" and this should be communicated to the world.
— An alternate on the U.S. women's gymnastics team has tested positive for COVID-19 in an Olympic training camp in Japan. Kara Eaker's coach says she tested positive after being vaccinated against the coronavirus two months ago. Eaker and fellow alternate Leanne Wong have been placed in isolation. The positive test was the latest in a growing line of daily reports of athletes and others testing positive at the pandemic-delayed Olympics. The Games are set to open Friday with a state of emergency in force in Tokyo.
— Katie Lou Samuelson is out of 3-on-3 basketball at the Olympics after contracting COVID-19 while training in Las Vegas. She'll be replaced on the roster by Jackie Young, who played for the U.S. in a 3-on-3 training camp in 2020 and also competed in the event in the 2019 World Beach Games. Young joins Stefanie Dolson, Allisha Gray and her Las Vegas Aces teammate Kelsey Plum. Samuelson says in a statement that she's fully vaccinated against the coronavirus and took every precaution.
— The Czech Republic beach volleyball team says it will try to postpone its opening game after one men's player tested positive for COVID-19 at the Olympic Village in Tokyo. The player (Ondřej Perušič) was taken to isolation at a hotel, seven days before his opening game. On Sunday, two men's soccer players from South Africa were reported positive. Their team's first game is Thursday against Japan.
— Toyota won't be airing any Olympic-themed advertisements on Japanese television during the Tokyo Games despite being one of the IOC's top corporate sponsors. The extraordinary decision by the country's top automaker underlines how polarizing the Games have become in Japan as COVID-19 infections rise ahead of Friday's opening ceremony. Being a corporate sponsor for the Olympics is
— Michael Phelps will be part of NBC's Olympics coverage as a correspondent and swimming commentator. Phelps will call selected swimming events with Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines and contribute features as a correspondent during primetime coverage. Phelps won the most medals and gold medals in Olympic history, swimming in five Games from 2000-2016.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-NCAA FINANCES
NCAA hit hard by pandemic, spent $68 million on legal fees
UNDATED (AP) — The NCAA spent nearly $68 million on legal services during the fiscal year 2019-20, according to tax documents.
NCAA revenue was down more than 50% over the previous year, from more than $1.1 billion to just over $520 million. That drop is blamed mostly on the cancellation of the men's basketball tournament in 2020 due to the pandemic. Last month, the Supreme Court ruled against the NCAA in the association's appeal of a federal court's ruling in an antitrust case. Nearly $35 million of those legal expenses were spent on defense of the so-called Alston antitrust case.
Raiders president Marc Badain resigns
UNDATED (AP) — Raiders team president Marc Badain has resigned just before the start of training camp after helping orchestrate the team's move to Las Vegas.
Owner Mark Davis announced Monday that Badain is leaving the organization and that executive vice president and general counsel Dan Ventrelle will take over on an interim basis. Badain went from being a ball boy for the team to a 30-year career with the organization. He eventually became the chief financial officer for the team and was an assistant to former CEO Amy Trask.
In other NFL news:
— Coming off an ACL injury that cost him most of last season, Saquon Barkley either doesn't know or isn't saying how much he will be able to do when the New York Giants report to training camp next week. Speaking during a break at a youth football camp Monday, Barkley said he is continuing to rehabilitate his right knee and he is taking things day by day. The Giants report to came July 27.
— The Dallas Cowboys are returning to California for training camp after staying home last year because of the pandemic. The Cowboys finished 6-10 and missed the playoffs. The offense is healthy again, led by Dak Prescott. The star quarterback signed a $160 million, four-year contract after a gruesome ankle injury ended his 2020 season in Week 5.
— Bill Cowher's long road from journeyman linebacker to Pro Football Hall of Famer is complete. The former Pittsburgh Steelers coach will be inducted into the Hall of Fame next month, 15 years after his coaching career ended. Cowher guided the Steelers to victory in one Super Bowl and a berth in another after being hired to replace four-time champion Chuck Noll.
— ESPN has finally landed Peyton Manning as a "Monday Night Football" commentator. Walt Disney Company announced on Monday a partnership with Manning and his Omaha Productions company in which Peyton and Eli Manning will be part of a "Monday Night Football" MegaCast for 10 games a year the next three seasons. Manning, who will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame next month.
Nashville prospect comes out as gay in NHL milestone
UNDATED (AP) — A Nashville Predators prospect has come out as gay.
Luke Prokop posted on Twitter he is no longer scared to hide who he is. The 19-year-old Canadian was a third-round pick in the 2020 draft last fall. He is set to attend his first NHL camp after playing junior hockey last season in the Western Hockey League.
Prokop says he hopes his example shows that gay people are welcome in the hockey community. No active NHL player has come out as gay. Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib in June became the first active NFL player to come out.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Dylan Carlson homered and drove in four runs, Jake Woodford pitched 5 2/3 strong innings in his first start of the season, and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Chicago Cubs 8-3. Woodford, who was recalled from Triple-A Memphis prior to the game, struck out six and didn't allow a walk. Carlson's four RBIs tied a career high set earlier this season on April 7 against Miami. Only one of the five runs allowed by Cubs starter Alec Mills was earned.
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Bruce Rasmussen is stepping down as Creighton athletic director. He helped oversethe rise of the men's basketball team and the school's transition to the Big East Conference during his tenure over the past 27. Rasmussen is generally well regarded, though he he and the school were sanctioned by the NCAA earlier this year for a rules violation. He was honored as the top athletic director in Division I a record four times. He also spent five years on the NCAA Division I men's basketball selection committee. The 70-year-old Rasmussen will retire next month.