sports

The Kansas City Royals, who had not seen the playoffs since 1985, have swept the Baltimore Orioles, winning the American League pennant and securing a spot in the World Series.

As The New York Times puts it, right now, the Royals can do no wrong. The team has yet to lose a playoff game, stringing together eight straight victories, a feat no other team has accomplished.

Today, they perfected that run by beating Baltimore 2-1.

That familiar old preface we so often hear — usually from long-winded people — is: "To make a long story short." I've noticed lately that that expression has become more common, but, to make a long story short, it's been shortened to just "long story short." I'll even bet it's gotten initialed in the text universe to LSS.

He didn't want to play Friday, but in the end, U.S. soccer legend Landon Donovan was glad he did.

The setting was a farewell game to honor the retiring 32-year-old forward, a friendly game between the U.S. team and Ecuador. Donovan played only 40 minutes and didn't score — although he came close, when he bounced the ball off the goal post in the 25th minute — and the game ended in a 1-1 tie.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Why do opposing political candidates so often wind up disliking each other? I get that there are forces in motion against one another, but does that have to turn into animus? Wouldn't we all like to think that we could keep things on a certain humanistic level if we were running? Say things like "Ralph is a great guy, even if he's dead wrong about everything. I really enjoyed getting to know  him during this campaign, and I admire his commitment to his vision, even though I think the rest of you would be nuts to embrace it."

Tucker Ives / WNPR

Update at 8:10pm.

As Landon Donovan admitted during a halftime interview, he did everything but score tonight. He had several chances but couldn't find the back of the net. He was taken out in the 41st minute, which was 11 minutes longer than he planned to play.

As expected, Donovan received a rowdy ovation from the mostly packed crowd. The second-half is now underway but there are still fans trickling through the gates.

The USA still leads 1-0 and now that the Landon era is over, they can start the march to the 2018 World Cup in earnest.

Update at 7:12pm.

A lot of fans missed the first goal of the match. Cars are still streaming into the Rentschler Field parking lot and Mix Diskerud already scored. 1-0, U.S. leads.

Update at 6:45pm.

Landon Donovan is one of two starting forwards in his last match with the U.S. Men's National Team. He only plans to play in the first 30 minutes to be rested enough to play with his professional team, the L.A. Galaxy on Sunday.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:03pm and is broadcast live on ESPN. Officials said fans can expect numerous tributes to Donovan before, during and after the match.

Original post below:

After being cut from the United States World Cup roster this summer, soccer star Landon Donovan will play one last match with the national team Friday night in East Hartford, Connecticut. He played for Team U.S.A. in three World Cups and is the program's all-time leading scorer with 57 goals and 58 assists in his career.

Probably the three biggest recent stories involving women in sports have been Mo'ne Davis, Michele Roberts and Becky Hammon.

The San Francisco Giants decisively beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-0 in the National League wild-card game Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.

The record crowd on hand at PNC Park, mostly dressed in black, was no match for the Giants' bats and their pitcher's arm.

It took 12 innings, but the Kansas City Royals won the American League wild-card game over the Oakland Athletics 9-8 on Tuesday night. They now move on to the American League Division Series.

In the bottom of the 12th, Christian Colon and Salvador Perez hit RBI singles. The A's were up 8-7 until Eric Hosmer tripled and scored on Colon's hit down the third-base line.

When an NFL defender picks off a pass and runs it back for a touchdown, the celebration is often spirited. But referees in Monday night's game took exception to Kansas City's Husain Abdullah actions after he slid in the end zone and prostrated himself, imposing a 15-yard unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty.

The play quickly became a hot topic on social media, where many criticized a penalty for what qualifies as a quiet gesture in the NFL, where excited players are known to point at themselves, others, and the sky, sometimes while making crude gestures.

For the first time, the world record in the marathon is now under 2 hours and 3 minutes, after Dennis Kimetto of Kenya tore through the course at Sunday's Berlin Marathon. Kimetto, 30, says he wants to set a new record next year.

"I feel good because I won a very tough race," Kimetto said after the finish. "I felt good from the start and in the last few miles I felt I could do it and break the record. I believe I can improve it further. I'd like to return and try to break it again next year."

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Bill Simmons, the ESPN commentator whose Twitter bio reads in part "Grantland boss + columnist, @30for30 co-creator, NBA Countdown co-host, BS Report host," will not be doing most of those jobs for three weeks after using the last of them — host of the podcast The BS Report — to call NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a liar, and to dare ESPN to discipline him.

On Friday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell broke a week of silence following the release of a video that showed former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice assaulting his then-fiancee.

Goodell apologized for his role in the NFL's handling of the matter.

During a news conference on Friday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell promised that the league "will get our house in order."

Goodell announced that former FBI Director Robert Mueller will lead an investigation of the way the league handled the Ray Rice case, and he said that at the end of the process the league will implement new conduct policies.

Jonathan McNicol/WNPR

When Luis Lopez played his first professional baseball game, Bill Clinton was president, “Forrest Gump” had just beaten “Pulp Fiction” for best picture at the Academy Awards, and Derek Jeter was still a year away from his rookie season with the New York Yankees.

Two more players were benched by NFL teams on Wednesday over allegations of domestic violence.

First, the Carolina Panthers placed their star defensive end Greg Hardy on the exempt list and then the Arizona Cardinals deactivated running back Jonathan Dwyer.

Doug Kerr / Creative Commons

As public debate continues over whether to build a new Hartford stadium for the New Britain Rock Cats, there's this news: the club's affiliation with the Minnesota Twins is over, and it is now linked with the Colorado Rockies. 

This has been called a long and tough week for the NFL. But ESPN's Hannah Storm asked some tough questions on Sunday's SportsCenter that show how hard the week has been for the league's fans — especially for parents who struggle to reconcile their love for the game with its off-field violence.

A lifelong football fan who's also the mother of three daughters, Storm didn't hold back on her emotions when discussing the NFL's response to what she calls the "horrific Ray Rice elevator video" – and how it also dominated conversations in her home.

Overcoming an injury to their star center, the Phoenix Mercury won its third WNBA title last night, beating the Chicago Sky in three games. An eye injury suffered in game two forced Phoenix center Brittney Griner to sit out.

"Phoenix got 24 points each from Candice Dupree and the sublime guard Diana Taurasi – the Finals MVP – to win," NPR's Tom Goldman reports. "The Mercury dominated this year, they won a record 29 regular-season games. They're fitting champions."

Parkour looks like skateboarding, without the skateboards. It is a city sport where people run, flip and slide through parks and over buildings — all with just their hands and feet.

A few weeks ago, parkour leaders met with the International Olympic Committee, which led to speculation that parkour could one day end up in the Olympics.

Dan Edwardes, the founder and director of Parkour Generation, a professional parkour organization based in London, said the meeting went well, like a good first date. Perhaps the first of many.

Marine Corp New York / Creative Commons

I root for the Green Bay Packers...and not casually. As I speak, there's a Green Bay Packers mug nearby, on weekends I wear a Packers cap and use Packers shopping bags. Most disturbingly, in the long, long off-season, I subscribe to services which provide me with daily obsessive updates on anything going on in Packers land. And, I read them even though nothing really is going on. 

Oscar Pistorius, the South African double-amputee Olympian accused in the shooting death of his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, has been acquitted of the most serious charge of premeditated murder.

But South African Judge Thokozile Masipa has yet to announce her final verdict in the jury-less trial, although she has hinted that culpable homicide would be a "competent verdict."

As tears streamed down Pistorius' face, Masipa told the court in Pretoria that the athlete did not plan to kill Steenkamp on the night he fatally shot her through a closed bathroom door.

Update, 11 p.m.:

The NFL is bringing in former FBI Director Robert Mueller to investigate how the league handled evidence in the Ray Rice case, a reporter for the league's website said Wednesday night.

The original story continues below:

The National Football League is denying a report that it received a video from police that shows former Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer.

NFL Commissioner: 'We Have Been Very Open And Honest'

Sep 10, 2014

The NFL commissioner says the league has been "very open and honest," in its handling of the Ray Rice controversy.

If you haven't been keeping up, Rice was suspended indefinitely from the NFL after a video showed him hitting his then-fiancee in an elevator. After watching only part of the video, which showed Rice dragging Janay Rice out of the elevator, the NFL had originally suspended Rice for two games.

UConnHuskies.com

UConn starting quarterback Casey Cochran has decided to end his football career because of multiple concussions.

Cochran, a sophomore from Monroe, suffered a concussion in the first game of the season. It was his third concussion at UConn. Cochran and his family met with UConn's medical and coaching staff late last week and after that meeting, decided to call it quits.

Keith Allison / Creative Commons

The National Football League's punishment for acts of domestic violence is too lenient, according to U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal. He responded to the new video showing former NFL player Ray Rice knocking his then-fiancée unconscious in an elevator.

The co-owner and CEO of the Atlanta Hawks says multiple people have reached out to him to buy the NBA franchise following the announcement by controlling owner Bruce Levenson that he would sell his stake in the team because of a racially charged email he sent two years ago.

When Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki faced off Sunday, the current and former world No. 1 players were both trying to make their own brand of history. For Williams, it was a chance to match Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova; for Wozniacki, a win would have brought her first Grand Slam title.

But Williams, who has been dominating this tournament, did not slow down and quickly took the first two sets 6-3, 6-3.

The New England Patriots begin their season Sunday on the road against the Miami Dolphins. Quaterback Tom Brady is expected to be on the field, despite missing practice Thursday.

It’s a Patriots team with a lot of familiar faces, and several notable additions.

Football writer Mike Reiss joined WBUR’s Morning Edition to preview the season. Listen to his full interview above.

How much football is too much for TV?

That's the question CBS and the NFL may face Sept. 11, when the curtain rises on their ambitious experiment to build a new broadcast television home for pro football on Thursdays.

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