National Sports Headlines from NBC Sports

Jerry Jones: Garrett not coaching for job

OXNARD, Calif. (AP) Jerry Jones doesn't like to repeat his good sound bites, so he found a new way to say Jason Garrett isn't coaching for his job.

The Dallas Cowboys owner said Wednesday it wasn't a "make or break" season for Garrett, a year after opening training camp by declaring that last season wouldn't be "Armageddon" for his coach if the once-proud franchise missed the playoffs again.

The Cowboys have identical endings to all three full seasons under Garrett, losing to NFC East rivals to finish 8-8 and miss the playoffs.

This time, Garrett is in the final year of his contract. While he's not talking extension, Jones also isn't talking change.

"Did the record of 8-8, 8-8, 8-8 ... was that the factor? No," Jones said on the eve of the team's first camp practices. "In my mind he is more of an asset after this last 8-8 season than he was before the first 8-8 season we had three years ago."

In Jones' mind, that means Garrett is gaining experience since replacing Wade Phillips in the middle of the 2010 season. And the owner says he likes the continuity with Garrett going into his eighth season after he was hired as offensive coordinator before Phillips came on as coach in 2007.

"There's nobody that has a better feel for me than Jason, in terms of the relationship," Jones said. "We both know where our expectations are and when it's looking good and when it's looking dire. And I don't expect it to be the latter."

In other words, Jones isn't resigning himself to missing the playoffs a fifth straight time. Dallas hasn't done that since 1990, when the Cowboys entered his second year as owner coming off a two-year mark of 4-28.

"I don't want to have to stomach it," Jones said. "Let's put it like that."

Still, Jones was a bit cautious with his optimism, using his opening statement to point out that roughly half of the 90-man camp roster includes players who weren't with the Cowboys a year ago.

He also likes to say Dallas has gone from one of the oldest teams in the league to one of the youngest. Some might call that rebuilding. Not Jones.

"It's not about next year," Jones said. "I think we've got the fundamentals to compete and compete right now, and the decisions we've made are that."

The biggest decision was releasing franchise sacks leader DeMarcus Ware on the first day of free agency in March. The Cowboys hope to fill the void by finding quality in the large quantity of defensive linemen in camp.

Dallas also is looking for a replacement for Sean Lee at middle linebacker after he tore a knee ligament in the first offseason practice.

The offense is counting on a healthy Tony Romo, and Garrett said he would be ready "for all aspects" of camp.

The Cowboys will ease into workouts, even scrapping their traditional conditioning test to try to cut down on a two-year plague of injuries that helped wreck two of the worst defenses in franchise history. And that's one of the areas where Garrett figures he can be better.

"We want to evaluate how we used our players, what we asked them to do and how we can do stuff better," Garrett said. "So I can give you 50 examples of that, coverages we play, what we're doing up front with our guys, techniques we're using at the different levels of our defense. And we implemented all that stuff in the offseason."

So Garrett starts the process of trying to break out of his personal 8-8 rut for a franchise with a .500 record going back 17 years.

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Testimony ends in trial over $2B Clippers sale

LOS ANGELES (AP) Testimony ended Wednesday in the trial to determine whether Donald Sterling's estranged wife can sell the Los Angeles Clippers in a proposed $2 billion deal with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Shelly Sterling, who had testified early in the trial, was expected to be the final witness, but her husband's lawyers decided not to call her back to the stand.

Instead, they called Dr. Jeffrey Cummings to discuss the protocol of examinations such as the ones given to Donald Sterling to determine his mental competency and ability to act as owner.

Most of his testimony drew objections from Shelly Sterling's attorneys, and the judge said he didn't see how it would help him reach a decision.

The trial will not be in session for the rest of the week. The two sides are scheduled to return for closing arguments on Monday.

Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas reminded Sterling's lawyers that both sides had agreed not to make Donald Sterling's mental capacity an issue in the trial.

Levanas said he was surprised when the lawyers made that move, and that he would have been interested in hearing about Donald Sterling's mental competency.

Given that decision by lawyers, the judge rejected most of Cummings' testimony and refused to receive the psychiatrist's report submitted by the Sterling lawyers.

Outside court, attorneys for Shelly Sterling and Ballmer said that if they win, they will ask the judge to allow the sale to go through immediately in spite of any appeals that might be filed.

Sterling's lawyers said they intend to seek an injunction to stop the sale if the judge rules against them. They have filed their own lawsuit in state court against Shelly Sterling, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and the league.

Shelly Sterling's potentially record-breaking deal with Ballmer was struck after Donald Sterling's racist remarks to a girlfriend were recorded and publicized. The NBA moved to oust him as team owner, fined him $2.5 million and banned him for life.

Sterling deputized his wife to negotiate the sale. But then he changed his mind and said he would fight the sale and spend the rest of his life suing the NBA.

Shelly Sterling went to probate court to ensure that the sale she negotiated with Ballmer would go through.

The trial was full of emotion and drama, especially for a probate-court trial to determine technical legal and financial questions.

Most of the fireworks came from Donald Sterling, who shouted at attorneys for both sides, denounced the NBA and its commissioner for trying to oust him from the league over racist recordings, and at one point called Shelly Sterling a "pig" as she left the witness stand.

Oregon is Pac-12 favorite after Mariota's return

LOS ANGELES (AP) Although Marcus Mariota knew he would be under a spotlight when he stepped onto the famed Paramount Studios lot Wednesday, the Oregon quarterback is getting quite comfortable in his starring role.

"I've had to get used to it and come out of my shell a little bit, but I'm trying to enjoy it," Mariota said at the Pac-12's media day. "I take it as an honor and a privilege, and hopefully an opportunity to provide a good influence."

Coach Mark Helfrich and Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott both used the league's first session of its two-day Hollywood kickoff event to praise Mariota for staying in school. The rest of the Pac-12 isn't quite as excited about the Heisman Trophy candidate's return after two dynamite seasons for the Ducks, but he's just one reason why they're favored to win their highly competitive league again.

Mariota and Oregon were picked to claim the Pac-12 title in the preseason media poll, topping that chart for the fourth time in five years. The verdict was an unsurprising vote of confidence in the mobile passer and the perennially powerful Ducks, who highlight an impressive list of contenders in the West Coast's power conference.

Mariota is the biggest reason for excitement around the Ducks, and the quarterback is working to raise his leadership skills to the level of his play after turning down untold NFL millions for another shot at a national title.

"A lot of guys talk a good game, but everything that guy does is gospel," Helfrich said. "If I'm the backup guard and I see that guy forgo what he could have made - it's not some lip-service dream, this is a reality of a ton of money. Like, `That guy turned down how much? OK, I'll watch him.' That's huge. I think it speaks to the type of guy he is, and hopefully to the type of program that we have."

Mariota said he returned to enjoy university life in Eugene. Since he's only taking golf and yoga this fall to finish up his degree, he'll have plenty of time.

"First and foremost, I wanted to get my degree," Mariota said. "My family has always valued education, and that was basically the major factor that brought me back. Secondly, it was to come back and enjoy college. You experience so many new things, and I wasn't ready to leave all that just yet."

Mariota even has one more year of eligibility. Although he insists he still hasn't decided whether he'll head to the NFL next year, his family also took out an insurance policy for this season.

Otherwise, Mariota and the Ducks aren't thinking past what's certain to be another tough year in a rising conference built on impressive quarterback talent and depth.

"The Pac-12 is better than it's ever been," Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said. "Everybody is improving. There's a bunch of good players and coaches in this league, so how do you make that leap over everyone else? We talk about it as a staff. We've got to crank it up to another level, because the other teams aren't going backward."

UCLA is favored to win the South Division over second-place Southern California, but Oregon got 24 of the 39 votes to win the league title game in the Bay Area on Dec. 5. Stanford, last season's league champion, finished second behind Oregon in the North Division balloting.

USC coach Steve Sarkisian received nearly as much attention as Mariota in Hollywood. Sarkisian left Washington in the offseason to return to the Trojans, and he thinks his sanctions-depleted roster will be an immediate contender.

"We're going to focus on what we do have, not what we don't," said Sarkisian, who will have a full complement of scholarships next year. "We have a really talented roster of about 65 scholarship players. That is not ideal. That's OK. We're still really good. ... We've still got plenty of work to do, but if we can manage it the right way, we've got a chance."

NCAA infractions chair responds to 'cheating pays'

IRVING, Texas (AP) The chairman of the NCAA's infractions committee says a number of factors could be the cause for the lack of activity by the group that prompted Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby to call the enforcement program "broken."

Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky, chair of the Committee on Infractions, on Wednesday listed reforms and restructuring in the enforcement system and expansion of the committee as possible reasons.

He also noted the NCAA enforcement director changed in the aftermath of two investigators and two key leaders leaving in less than a year after an internal investigation uncovered problems with the NCAA's investigation of the University of Miami.

At Big 12 media days Monday, Bowlsby said "cheating pays" and that anyone who conspired to bend the rules could do so successfully and probably not get caught in most occasions.

"They're in a battle with a BB gun in their hand. They're fighting howitzers," Bowlsby said of NCAA enforcement officials, while also saying he didn't believe cheating was rampant.

Banowsky said the last NCAA infractions hearing was in the Miami case in June 2013.

"I have to say that a lot of what (Bowlsby) says is true relative to the inactivity," Banowsky said at his league's media day. "I've been assured and encouraged that there's a lot in the pipeline and the thing is kind of ramping back up again and the new system is going to get engaged and functioning.

"I do appreciate what Bob is saying. I have a lot of respect for him and I think he's smart and honest and accurate in the way that he sees these things," Banowsky said. "I'm a little more measured because I live in it. ... I think this next year is a really important year for that process and for that system, and for the NCAA as an organization really."

Padres OF Maybin tests positive for amphetamine

CHICAGO (AP) San Diego Padres outfielder Cameron Maybin was suspended 25 games by Major League Baseball on Wednesday for testing positive for an amphetamine.

Maybin said in a statement released by the Major League Baseball Players Association the failed test was the result of a change in the medication he was using to treat Attention Deficit Disorder.

"I have been undergoing treatment for several years for a medical condition, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), for which I previously had a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE). Unfortunately, in my attempts to switch back to a medicine that had been previously OK'd, I neglected to follow all the rules and as a result I tested positive," Maybin said. "I want to assure everyone that this was a genuine effort to treat my condition and I was not trying in any way to gain an advantage in my baseball career."

Under the drug agreement between MLB and its players' union, 25 games is the penalty for a second positive amphetamine test. A first positive results only in six unannounced follow-up tests over the next year.

The 27-year-old Maybin was batting .247 with one home run and nine RBIs in 62 games this season.

"I understand that I must accept responsibility for this mistake and I will take my punishment and will not challenge my suspension. I apologize to my family, friends, fans, teammates, and the entire Padres organization. I look forward to returning to the field and contributing to the success of my Club."

Padres President and CEO Mike Dee and manager Bud Black responded in statements.

"I'm disappointed in Cameron's violation of MLB's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment program, but I am pleased that he's taking responsibility for his mistake," Dee said. "The joint agreement was put into place to protect both the player and the game, and the Padres fully support it."

"Our club fully supports Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program," Black said. "Cameron has accepted full responsibility for his violation and apologized to his teammates and coaches. We are all looking forward to his return."

MLB permits an exemption for players with attention deficit disorder. The annual report from the drug program's independent administrator, Dr. Jeffrey M. Anderson, said 119 therapeutic use exemptions were granted for ADD drugs in the year ending with the conclusion of the 2013 World Series.

There were seven positive tests for Adderall in that span that resulted in discipline.

Broncos owner giving up control due to Alzheimer's

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Even as dementia began to rob him of some of his fondest memories over the past few years, Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen reported to work every day to oversee multimillion-dollar upgrades to the team's training facilities and roster.

So his absence from Dove Valley headquarters on Wednesday as players reported for physicals on the eve of training camp was as jarring as the announcement that the 70-year-old Bowlen was giving up control of the team because of Alzheimer's disease.

"This place will never be the same," a choked-up general manager John Elway said. "... It's going to be very hard to not see him walk through the front doors every day."

Yet, Elway and team president Joe Ellis pledged to continue Bowlen's legacy and winning culture he fostered during his long stewardship of the franchise.

Ellis is adding the title of chief executive officer and will have final say on all matters.

"Mr. Bowlen has entrusted Joe to take his spot and he couldn't have appointed a better guy to step in for Pat," Elway said. "Joe's a guy that bleeds orange and blue."

Ownership of the franchise is held in a trust Bowlen set up more than a decade ago in hopes that one of his seven children will one day run the team, Ellis said Bowlen asked him to run that trust.

Elway, who brought Bowlen two Super Bowl rings during his Hall of Fame playing career, demurred when asked if he aspired to one day own the team.

"That family owns the Broncos. Pat Bowlen still owns the Broncos. We have total respect for that," Elway said. "They've hired me to run the football operations and I'm thrilled to do that. I work for Pat still, as well as the Bowlen family, and I'm going to continue to do that."

Ellis said that with Bowlen no longer able to run the team, the community and fan base deserved to know what was going on, so the family agreed to make public the condition he's dealt with privately for several years.

"Alzheimer's has taken so much from Pat, but it will never take away his love for the Denver Broncos and his sincere appreciation for the fans," Bowlen's wife, Annabel, said in a statement.

After acknowledging in 2009 that he suffered short-term memory loss, Bowlen stepped back from day-to-day operations in 2011 when he promoted Ellis to president. For the first time this offseason, Ellis represented the Broncos at the annual owners meetings.

Under Bowlen's guidance, the Broncos won six AFC titles and two Super Bowls. At 307-203-1, Bowlen and New York Giants founder Tim Mara are the only three-decade owners in pro football history to win 60 percent of their games.

The Broncos' 186 home victories are the most in the NFL since he bought the team in 1984, when Elway was his quarterback, and the Broncos' five losing seasons during those 30 years are the fewest in the league over that span.

Bowlen was known as much for his humility as his competitive fire, doing his best to stay out of the spotlight even as he built a winning culture and a fan base that extends throughout the Rocky Mountain region.

He was instrumental in the league's explosive growth at its longtime chairman of the broadcast committee, Ellis said, and Elway said Bowlen deserves to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"I'd love (his bust) to be right next to mine," Elway said.

When Elway brought Bowlen his first of consecutive championships in the late 1990s, the owner took the Lombardi Trophy in his hand at center stage after an epic win over heavily favored Green Bay and declared, "This one's for John."

"That was the highlight of my career," Elway said Wednesday.

Bowlen's affable style endeared him to employees and players alike.

When Bowlen received the Mizel Institute's 2013 Community Enrichment Award, Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe said: "I would be hard-pressed to believe that there's an owner that cares more about his city, about his state, about his players than Mr. Bowlen does."

Hall of Famer Gary Zimmerman said at that same event he realized Bowlen was a different type of owner when he signed up for a turkey in his first Thanksgiving in Denver, thinking it was all a joke.

"Then I come into the locker room and there's Pat sticking turkeys into our lockers," Zimmerman recounted.

During Peyton Manning's whirlwind free agency tour in 2012, Zimmerman said, he knew any other teams pursuing the four-time MVP were just wasting their time.

"I knew he'd be a Bronco before he did," Zimmerman said, "because once he visited here and met with Mr. Bowlen, I knew there was no way he could go anywhere else."

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Mavericks' Felton pleads guilty in NYC gun case

NEW YORK (AP) Dallas Mavericks point guard Raymond Felton pleaded guilty Wednesday in a New York gun case, taking a plea deal that involved admitting a felony but spares him jail.

Felton pleaded guilty to attempted criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of a firearm. He admitted he knowingly had a large-capacity ammunition magazine and a semi-automatic pistol without a license.

"Are those charges true?" Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Larry Stephen asked.

"Yes, sir," Felton said, later adding in a soft voice: "I apologize. I realize what I did was wrong."

He was immediately sentenced to 500 hours of community service and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine. Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Rebold said Felton will be allowed to do the service outside New York.

If he complies, the case will be closed without jail time or probation.

"At this point, Raymond is looking forward to starting the next chapter of his life and focusing on success in Dallas," his lawyer, James Walden, said after court.

The criminal case arose last winter, as Felton grappled with the breakup of his marriage and navigated a struggling season with the New York Knicks. He was traded to Dallas last month, two days after his plea plan was announced.

The team declined to comment Wednesday.

About a week after Felton's law student wife filed for divorce, her attorney brought a loaded semi-automatic handgun to a police precinct and said it was Felton's and she wanted it out of the house, authorities said. Walden has said Felton never threatened anyone with the gun.

After police contacted Felton, he turned himself in shortly after a Mavericks-Knicks game at Madison Square Garden.

Felton was charged under a state law that bans many large-capacity ammunition magazines. Prosecutors said Felton's could hold about 20 rounds.

The NBA, which has said it is monitoring the case, had no immediate comment Wednesday. The league usually waits until criminal cases against players are resolved before deciding whether to impose any fine or suspension.

Felton, 30, was a star at the University of North Carolina and was the fifth pick of the 2005 NBA draft. Besides Dallas and New York, he's played for the Charlotte Bobcats, Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers.

Last season, Felton missed 17 games while battling injuries and averaged a career-low 9.7 points as the Knicks went 37-45 and missed the playoffs.

Headley wins it in 14th inning of Yankees debut

NEW YORK (AP) Chase Headley came through with a storybook swing at the stroke of midnight in his Yankees debut, hitting a game-winning single in the 14th inning to give New York a 2-1 victory over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night.

Derek Jeter broke Lou Gehrig's franchise record for doubles, and the Yankees won an unlikely pitching duel after both rookie starters entered with a 5.10 ERA.

J.P. Arencibia snapped a scoreless tie with a leadoff homer in the 13th against New York reliever David Huff, but the Yankees responded with Brett Gardner's leadoff double and Jacoby Ellsbury's tying single off closer Joakim Soria in the bottom half.

It was the second blown save in 19 chances for Soria, who kept Texas in it by getting Brian McCann to ground into an inning-ending double play with runners at the corners.

CEO: Clippers coach Rivers to quit if Sterling stays

LOS ANGELES (AP) The interim CEO of the Los Angeles Clippers testified Tuesday that coach Doc Rivers told him he will quit if Donald Sterling remains the owner of the team.

CEO Richard Parsons testified at a trial to determine whether Sterling's wife, Shelly, can sell the team for $2 billion to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer as the NBA looks to force Donald Sterling from the league over racist statements.

"Doc is troubled by this maybe more so than anybody else," Parsons said about Rivers, who is black. "If Mr. Sterling continues as owner, he does not want to continue as coach."

Parsons said he fears there would also be an exodus of key players, including team captain Chris Paul, who heads the NBA players union.

The judge stopped Parsons from giving an account of his conversations with Paul when an NBA lawyer objected over privacy issues.

Parsons is a former chief executive at Time Warner and Citigroup who took over leadership of the Clippers in May during the media blitz surrounding the banishment of Sterling.

Under questioning by Ballmer's lawyer, Parsons said the departure of Rivers would "accelerate the death spiral" of the Clippers.

"If Doc were to leave, that would be a disaster," Parsons said. "Doc is the father figure, the one who leads."

The discussion of Clippers players and coaches is new territory for the trial that has mostly explored the dealings between the Sterlings.

It wasn't immediately clear what effect the new information might have on the narrow question under consideration - whether Shelly Sterling can sell the team under the family trust.

Messages left for team officials seeking comment from Rivers weren't immediately returned.

Parsons, who is considered an expert in the management of major corporations, said he was certain that big corporate sponsors would pull out and season ticket holders would demand their money back if Donald Sterling remains the owner.

"If your coach leaves, if your players don't want to play with you, what do you have?" Parsons asked. "If your sponsors leave and the fans leave, it's going to spiral down and down."

Parsons also said he doesn't believe that anyone will offer as much money for the team as Ballmer. That opinion was seconded by witness Anwar Zakkour, an investment banker who helped broker the deal for Ballmer's purchase and said he never expected a bid so big.

Explaining why Ballmer would have bid over the value of the team, Zakkour said, "It was a trophy asset."

"This is the highest price ever achieved for a sports team," he said. "However way you count it, this is an amazing price that anyone should be satisfied with."

Parsons and Zakkour said that if the NBA seized the team and put it up for auction, the price would drop because there would be less certainty about the team's future.

Outside court, Sterling's lawyer, Bobby Samini, said the billionaire would persist in his opposition to the sale because "he feels he was wronged" by the NBA.

"He has no desire to destroy the team," Samini said. "He is fighting to protect his rights."

Later Tuesday, Sterling fired off another legal volley, filing a new lawsuit against his wife, the NBA and league Commissioner Adam Silver that alleges fraud, breach of contract, unfair business practices and infliction of emotional distress. He claimed, among other things, that he was tricked into being examined by psychiatrists to establish whether he was mentally competent.

The high-stakes financial fight centers on whether Shelly Sterling was authorized to make a deal with Ballmer on behalf of the Sterling Family Trust.

Outside court, Shelly Sterling's lawyer, Pierce O'Donnell, said Donald Sterling is being driven by "a perverted egotism."

"Right now, we're in the grips of Donald Sterling's craziness," he said.

Report: Cavs to sign Wiggins amid Love rumors

CLEVELAND (AP) Andrew Wiggins will sign his rookie contract with the Cavaliers. It's still not clear if he'll play for them.

A person familiar with the negotiations says the Cavs will sign the No. 1 overall pick to his deal, an agreement that would prevent any potential trade involving the small forward from being completed for 30 days.

The Minnesota Timberwolves and Cavaliers have been discussing a potential deal that would send All-Star forward Kevin Love to the Cavaliers for Wigging, Anthony Bennett and other pieces. The person familiar with the talks says Wiggins will sign with Cleveland as early as Wednesday. The person spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday on condition of anonymity because the team is not commenting on its plans.

The Cavs and Timberwolves have had ongoing discussions about a trade for Love since before Cleveland selected Wiggins first in May. The Timberwolves have always insisted that Wiggins be involved in any package, a stipulation the Cavaliers initially resisted.

To help in their pursuit of Love, the Cavs traded guard Carrick Felix to Utah on Tuesday for three players with non-guaranteed contracts.

Cleveland acquired guard John Lucas III and forwards Malcolm Thomas and Erik Murphy from the Jazz in exchange for Felix, a second-round draft pick and cash considerations.

The trade will allow the Cavs to clear $3.3 million in salary cap space, room to potentially sign Love or other players.

Wiggins' inclusion in any deal has been a sticking point for the Cavs.

Last week, two people familiar with the discussions said the team was not willing to include Wiggins in a deal. But as talks continued this week, the Cavaliers have softened their stance on including Wiggins, who played well during the team's summer league in Las Vegas, to try and get superstar LeBron James another veteran All-Star teammate.

The Cavs have considered acquiring Love and teaming him with James, who recently announced he was returning to Cleveland and signed a two-year, $42.1 million deal with the team. With Love, James and All-Star point guard, Cleveland would have a "Big 3" comparable to what Miami had in James and All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

The Timberwolves have also had discussions with the Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors, among other teams, in recent weeks as they entertain offers for Love, who can opt out of his contract next summer and has told Minnesota he wants to play for a contender.

Signing Wiggins to a contract wouldn't necessarily prevent a trade from eventually happening. Under league rules, Wiggins cannot be officially traded for 30 days after he signs. But the Timberwolves and Cavaliers could come to some sort of agreement before that end date and then execute the trade after the window closes.

Signing Wiggins could make a trade easier to complete. League rules require teams that are at or over the salary cap to exchange packages of similar dollar values when they make trades. Before Wiggins signs a deal, he has a contract of $0, so his inclusion does not help the Cavaliers get closer to the $15.7 million value they would receive with Love's contract.

But when he does sign, Wiggins will have a value of around $5.5 million, which would get the Cavaliers a big step closer to the 80 percent of Love's contract that they need to reach to make any deal conform to league rules.

Having to wait that long to finalize a deal does complicate the negotiating process, with both teams leery of the other backing out during that monthlong moratorium.

If the Timberwolves and Cavaliers do come to an agreement, the trade could evolve into a three-team deal. The Wolves have been searching for another team to bring another established, veteran player to the package while potentially moving guard J.J. Barea or other contracts to create room for the incoming players.

Andre Johnson's holdout could cloud Texans camp

HOUSTON (AP) As the Houston Texans prepare for the start of training camp on Saturday, their biggest question mark involves a player who probably won't be there when they take the field.

Disgruntled receiver Andre Johnson skipped offseason workouts and mandatory minicamp after wondering in May if Houston was "still the place for me."

A holdout by the face of the franchise and the team's longest-tenured player could cast a pall on the beginning of coach Bill O'Brien's first season.

O'Brien has tried to downplay the situation so far, but that tact will be much more difficult if Johnson's holdout stretches much longer.

Johnson joined the franchise in its second season and has said that playing on just three teams with winning records in 11 seasons "can become very frustrating."

The Texans were among the favorites to reach the Super Bowl entering last season after reaching the playoffs the previous two years.

But things quickly fell apart due in large part to poor play by quarterback Matt Schaub, coach Gary Kubiak was fired in December and they finished 2-14 to tie the worst record in franchise history.

The 33-year-old Johnson, whose 1,407 yards receiving in 2013 ranked second in the AFC, is unhappy at the prospect of enduring another rebuilding project after seeing the moves the Texans made in the offseason.

If they can't get him back on the field it will leave a big hole in O'Brien's new offense and put much more pressure on last year's first-round pick DeAndre Hopkins.

Here are some things to know about the Texans as camp begins.

CLOWNEY'S HEALTH: Jadeveon Clowney, the top overall pick in this year's draft, may not be ready to practice on the first day of training camp after having sports hernia surgery in June.

O'Brien said that he expected Clowney to be ready for training camp when he disclosed the procedure on June 13. But the former South Carolina standout told reporters recently that he isn't sure if he'll be cleared to practice by Day 1. Training camp will be important for the former defensive end who is making the transition to outside linebacker in defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel's system.

O'BRIEN'S TEAM: O'Brien returns to the NFL for his first head coaching job in the league after spending the past two seasons coaching Penn State. He took over the Nittany Lions in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal and led the team to winning records in both 2012 and 2013 before being hired in Houston. He comes to the Texans with a reputation as a quarterback guru after spending three seasons working as Tom Brady's position coach with the Patriots.

FITZPATRICK TAKES OVER: Houston traded Schaub to Oakland in the offseason and signed veteran free agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was selected as the starter during minicamp by O'Brien. Fitzpatrick started nine games for the Titans last season after Jake Locker was injured, but there are questions about whether he's the answer to Houston's quarterback woes.

"He does a good job of controlling the offense and ... getting together with other groups and trying to let them see everything through the quarterback's eyes," quarterbacks coach George Godsey said. "I think he's done a good job of trying to keep that steady."

They also have Case Keenum, who started eight games last season after Schaub was benched, and drafted Tom Savage in the fourth round of this year's draft.

CRENNEL'S RETURN: Crennel returns to coaching for the first time since he was fired as coach of the Kansas City Chiefs following the 2012 season. He inherits a defense that features 2012 Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt and should get a boost with the return of middle linebacker Brian Cushing, who suffered a second straight season-ending knee injury in Houston's seventh game last year.

Crennel's excited about coaching again and said at age 67 the most important factor was the people he'd be working with.

"We all want to win, but if you've got good people and you can work with good people that makes the job easier," he said. "I felt that the people were good people and that I would enjoy working with them. That made it easier for me to come and give it a shot."

CAN FOSTER RETURN TO FORM: Arian Foster has recovered from back surgery that ended his season in 2013 after eight games. He participated in minicamp and the Texans are counting on him to return to form this year. Before the injury shortened season he ran for at least 1,200 yards in three straight seasons, highlighted by his breakout 2010 season when he rushed for an NFL-leading 1,616 yards.

Woods dealing with end of dominant days

Yes, I was surprised when Tiger Woods made his “Very similar to what Phil does,” comments about Rory McIlroy over the weekend at the British Open. I was not at all surprised that Woods feels that McIlroy’s game so far might resemble Phil Mickelson’s more than his own. That’s a fair observation. I was not surprised by the points he made about McIlroy’s inconsistency – the points seemed pretty sensible.

No, the shocking part was this: Tiger Woods said it.

In case you missed it, Woods was asked a little bit about Rory McIlroy as he blitzed the field and won the British Open. McIlroy became the third-youngest player to win three out of the four grand slam events behind Jack Nicklaus and, of course, Woods. There was a lot of history in the air.

The actual question to Woods was: “What is it like to see Rory dominate in a way that only you have in a major like this?” The question was, as we say in the business, a bit loaded. I suspect it was just a kinder way of asking, “How does it feel to see, as the old king of golf, the new king?”

Woods, I suspect, knew exactly what was being asked.

And his answer was plain: “Well, as you can see, the way he plays is pretty aggressively. When he gets it going, he gets it going. When it gets going bad, it gets going real bad. It’s one or the other. If you look at his results, he’s kind of that way. Very similar to what Phil does. He has his hot weeks, and he has his weeks where he's off. And that’s just the nature of how he plays the game – it’s no right way or wrong way.”

The answer was, as we say in the business, a bit loaded. It sure seems like what Woods was saying was: Look, Rory can get hot. Good for him. But don’t go comparing him to me now. My game at its best was pure consistency. I won four major championships in a row. I won nine majors out of 30. His game is like Mickelson’s – brilliant some weeks, dreadful other weeks. That’s all well and good for him. But that’s NOT how I played golf.

Like I say, it was a perfectly fair point. And it was refreshingly honest from a guy who doesn’t often say what’s on his mind. And it was also stunning because Tiger Woods in his prime NEVER talked honestly about other golfers. Not in public. It seems to me this answer says a little bit about Rory McIlroy. And it says a lot about Tiger Woods.

Before we get into all that, let’s break down Rory and Tiger a little bit.

When Woods was 21 years old, he won the Masters with a record score.

When McIlroy was 22 years old, he won the U.S. Open with a record score.

OK, similar. What happened next? Woods made the cut at his next 10 major championships but he did not win any of them. He was in the process of rebuilding his swing so that it could take him to the next level, which is one of the more remarkable decisions in sports history. At a time when almost every golfer would have just let it ride – after all, Woods was hitting it longer than anyone, higher than anyone, and he putted better than anyone – he decided that he needed to be more consistent if he wanted to achieve his huge goals. Woods did not intend to win three major championships or five or even eight like Tom Watson did. No, he wanted 19. He wanted Jack.

In his 11th grand slam after the record-setting Masters, Woods finally won the PGA Championship. After that he contended at Augusta, then pulled off one of the most extraordinary feats in golf history by winning four grand slams in a row.

Now, what about McIlroy? After the U.S. Open, he was basically dreadful in his next five grand slams. He missed one cut and did not finish better than 25th in any of them. And then, seemingly out of nowhere, he ran away with the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island by eight shots. He followed that up with six more rather forgettable major tournaments (two back-ended top 10 finishes and one missed cut included) and then this past week he routed the field wire-to-wire to win the British Open.

So, on the one hand, Woods is right: McIlroy has been all over the place.

On the other hand, McIlroy has played 13 major championship since his breakthrough at the U.S. Open, and he won two of them. Woods, in the 13 major championships after his Masters breakthrough, won, yes, two of them. So, in the end, didn’t they really accomplish the same thing?

Well, not exactly the same. What’s different is those tournaments they did not win. Woods was so much more present – he had six Top 10 finishes aside from his victories and McIlroy had two. Woods did not come close to missing a cut, and McIlroy missed two. This is the consistency piece that Woods is talking about. Even before he raised his game to previously unseen heights, Woods proved that he was going to be there time and again, that was the defining essence of his golf. He did not HAVE bad weeks.

McIlroy’s game, like Woods said, is so much mercurial. There’s absolutely no way to know what will happen at the PGA Championship coming up. McIlroy might win by six shots. And he might miss the cut. Woods, not surprisingly, does not have much use for that kind of game.

But that’s the easy part of all this – we know that McIlroy has not figured out how to harness his great talent tournament after tournament. Maybe he will become like Mickelson – not that’s there’s anything wrong with having a Hall of Fame career like Phil’s. But that’s also not a fair comparison, and Woods knows it. Mickelson did not win his first major championship until he was 34, and that age is still almost a decade away for McIlroy. Mickelson did not win the third leg of the grand slam until he was 43. McIlroy has more major championships at 25 than Tom Watson did, than Arnold Palmer did, more than Gary Player and Ben Hogan and Sam Snead combined. His inconsistency may be a lasting part of his game. Then again, it might not. He might just be figuring things out. I’d bet on his future.

Meanwhile, there’s Tiger Woods, closing fast on his 39th birthday, coming off his worst weekend finish ever at a major. He barely made the cut and then played dreadfully over the weekend; 64-year-old Tom Watson not only beat him but beat him by five shots. Of course, this was just Woods’ second tournament back after a three-month layoff to recover from a pretty serious back injury. There were a few promising signs (like his solid first round) and so there are reasons to not put too much stock into the performance. Still, in golf, the scoreboard does not equivocate: Woods: 69th place.

And his subtle jab at McIlroy (and his longtime nemesis Mickelson) does say something. According to those who have found themselves close to Woods, his disdain for Mickelson’s sporadic game and boisterous personality has always been there. But he would never have said anything about it publicly … because to say something publicly would be acknowledge that he actually THOUGHT about Phil Mickelson. And this was something Tiger Woods could not acknowledge.

See, Tiger Woods at his peak was unreachable. He was untouchable. His only rival was himself. Whatever he did in the first or second round of a major, he always said: “I feel like I’m in good position.” No matter how many shots back he was, he always just wanted to “play my game.” The only thing that mattered to Woods about other golfers was that if you put enough pressure on them, they would eventually crack.

Of course, he did not say that. He did not have to say that or anything else. He knew. They knew. And, as the old line goes, he knew they knew. And they knew he knew they knew.

I’m convinced the young Tiger Woods would have brushed off the Rory McIlroy question. He would have said something like, “He’s a great young player and he’s having a great week,” and left it at that. He would not have wanted to make any points about McIlroy’s inconsistency. He certainly would not have felt it necessary to drudge up Phil Mickelson’s inconsistency.

So why did he do it? Two thoughts come to mine. One thought is simply that Woods, at age 38, is beginning to embrace his role as the face of golf. Arnold Palmer … Gary Player … Jack Nicklaus … Tom Watson … Nick Faldo … these guys were asked a million questions about every golf thing you could imagine. These included questions about the promise of every young player who came along and questions about every rival who was trying to take their place at the top of the world. Woods never cared much for those questions. More than that, he never seemed they were appropriate.

This time, though, he answered the question. He gave an honest assessment of McIlroy’s erratic game. He was careful to say he wasn’t judging (“it’s no right way or wrong way”) but he was willing to say what he thought needed to be said: When McIlroy’s good, he’s good; but that’s not everything.

The second thought is that Woods is beginning to understand what has become impossible to ignore: He’s not going to ever dominate the golf world again. He will win again, he will probably win a major again, but the Tiger Woods who separated himself from the world, who played in his own stratosphere, that golfer is not coming back. The injuries, the scars, the years will not let him come back.

Rory McIlroy is a better golfer than Tiger Woods now. He hits the ball longer, he hits it higher, he hits it straighter. Woods has more experience and a magical short game, but the experience gap shrinks and the best pressure putting stroke since Nicklaus begins to shake slightly. Woods’ used to intimidate golfers who believed him to be unwavering … but they’ve seen waver. Woods used to take leads into Sundays and slam the door … but the Sunday leads are tougher to build.

And all these things, I imagine, are difficult for a one-of-a-kind athlete to process. It has been more than six years since Tiger Woods won a major championship. Rory McIlroy was not there in 2008 when Woods won the U.S. Open on one leg. McIlroy was a 19-year-old kid just starting as a professional. He has lived a lot of life in those six years. And when someone asked Woods about Rory McIlroy dominating the way he dominated, Woods offered a stunningly personal response. Hey, Rory’s inconsistent. Hey Rory’s like Phil. I wasn’t like that.

Here’s what I think he was saying: Don’t write me off yet.

Witness: Sterling needs Clippers sale to pay debts

LOS ANGELES (AP) The chief financial officer of Donald Sterling's properties said Monday that the billionaire may be forced to sell a large portion of his real estate empire to cover $500 million in loans if he persists in refusing to sell the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion.

Darren Schield, who oversees the finances of The Sterling Family Trust, testified Monday that three banks are ready to recall their loans to Sterling because of his decision to dissolve the trust. His move was designed to rescind his signed agreement for the sale of the Clippers, a team he bought for $12 million.

Schield said if Sterling has to dump $500 million worth of apartment buildings he could destabilize the Los Angeles real estate market.

Sterling attorney Maxwell Blecher suggested that Sterling could take the company public in order to raise funds.

But Shelly Sterling's lawyer, Pierce O'Donnell asked if it would be easy to go public "with Donald Sterling's reputation."

Schield responded: "There's huge reputation issues. I don't know if anyone would want to go into partnership with him."

The NBA banned Donald Sterling for life for making racist statements after the release of recorded conversations. Sterling has denied he is a racist from the witness stand.

Schield testified in the probate trial that if Sterling's loans go into default and he needs to refinance, banks would be reluctant to give him that much money at the low rate he has now.

"I know the bank looks at this as a higher credit risk with all this going on," he said. "The rate would go up considerably."

Sterling, the volatile owner of the team, agreed to the sale but then dissolved the family trust in an effort to stop it.

Schield, testifying at the trial that will decide the future of a $2 billion deal to sell the Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, said he warned Sterling not to revoke the trust last month.

"I told him a revocation of the trust would be a breach of the loan covenants and would result in defaults," Schield said.

He said he also discussed it with Sterling's lawyer, Bobby Samini.

"I told him this revocation would open up a Pandora's box and trigger defaults," Schield said.

"Does the company have $500 million to pay off the loans?" asked O'Donnell.

"We do not," Schield answered.

Asked what the recourse would be, he said, "We would have to start selling real estate. If we have to sell $500 million in apartment buildings, it would have an impact on the Los Angeles real estate market. "

Donald Sterling's lawyers who had said they planned to call six witnesses Monday produced none of them and court was recessed early.

Shelly Sterling, Donald Sterling's wife who had been listed as a witness, was in court but was not called to the stand. She was scheduled to return Tuesday.

Her lawyers said their witnesses on Tuesday will include Richard Parsons, CEO of the Clippers. Outside court, Ballmer's lawyer, Adam Streisand, said he believes the judge will rule in favor of Shelly Sterling.

"Do I think the trust will be reinstated after that?" he said. "You bet it will."

If the sale doesn't go through by Sept. 15, the NBA can seize the team and sell it at auction, Streisand said.

Donald Sterling has vowed he'll never sell the team. He claims he is the victim of illegally recorded conversations that invaded his privacy.

Ryu helps Dodgers become 1st with 3 11-game winners

PITTSBURGH (AP) Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched seven strong innings, Adrian Gonzalez reached base five times and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 on Monday night.

Ryu (11-5) joined Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw in making the Dodgers the first team in the majors with three 11-game winners. The left-hander allowed two runs and five hits with a walk and five strikeouts.

Justin Turner had two RBIs and scored twice for the Dodgers, who snapped Pittsburgh's six-game home winning streak. Pirates starter Edinson Volquez (8-7) had won four straight starts, tying his career high.

Los Angeles played without right fielder Yasiel Puig (left hand) and shortstop Hanley Ramirez (left wrist) after both were injured when they were hit by pitches last weekend in St. Louis.

Puig and Ramirez had X-rays in Pittsburgh that came back negative Monday.

Dream coach, Laker great Cooper has tongue cancer

ATLANTA (AP) Atlanta Dream coach Michael Cooper has early stage tongue cancer and has taken a leave from the WNBA team.

He will have surgery this week at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University in Atlanta and a full recovery is expected, the Dream said Monday.

The 58-year-old coach is expected to miss about two weeks, with assistant coach Karleen Thompson filling in. Atlanta plays at Minnesota on Tuesday.

"I'm fortunate that my condition was diagnosed early, and this episode illustrates the importance of screening and early detection," Cooper said. "I know the team will be in good hands with coach Thompson at the helm during my absence, and I look forward to returning to the court soon."

Cooper is in his first season with Atlanta. His team leads the Eastern Conference with a 15-6 record. He coached the East to a 125-124 overtime victory at the WNBA All-Star game Saturday.

Cooper won five NBA titles as a shooting guard with the Los Angeles Lakers during the "Showtime" era from 1978-90. As a coach, he won two WNBA titles with the Los Angeles Sparks and one NBA Development League championships with Albuquerque.

After his second run with the Sparks, Cooper was hired as the women's coach at Southern California. He resigned in March following an 11-20 season, his first losing mark in four seasons.

Big 12 commish issues dire warning about pending change

DALLAS (AP) Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby had a dire warning Monday for anyone who likes intercollegiate athletics the way they are now.

"You're going to hate it going forward," Bowlsby said. "There's a lot of change coming."

During his opening address at Big 12 football media days, Bowlsby talked about growing financial constraints athletic programs face going forward and the "strange environment" that exists with class-action lawsuits against the NCAA and its member schools.

Bowlsby said he's doesn't think there is a real understanding of how much lawsuits - which he numbered as seven and "growing all the time" - could radically alter things.

"I think all of that in the end will cause programs to be eliminated. I think you'll see men's Olympic sports go away as a result of the new funding challenges that are coming down the pike," he said. "I think there may be tension among and between sports on campus and institutions that have different resources."

While acknowledging the outcomes are unknown, the former Stanford athletic director expressed concern about fewer opportunities for some athletes to go college in the future.

"I fear that we will get past the change and then we'll realize that all the gymnastics programs went away, or that we have agents on campus all the time negotiating playing time for student athletes," he said. "There's all kind of Armageddon scenarios you could come up with. ... You wouldn't have to be a very good fiction writer to come up with some scenarios that would be pretty scary."

A year ago, Bowlsby's opening address was part of a coordinated effort by the leaders of the power conferences - the Big 12, SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC - in calling for transformative changes in the governance system of the NCAA.

The NCAA board of directors is set to vote Aug. 7 on a proposal to give schools in the highest-profile conferences more influence over college rules. The proposal also would give athletic directors and athletes bigger roles in the legislative process, and give the power conferences autonomy to make their own bylaws.

That vote will come a day after the Big 12 sponsors in New York the first in a scheduled series of forums on the state of college athletics.

When addressing potential unionization of football and basketball players, Bowlsby said "student-athletes are not employees. They should never be employees. It's not an employee/employer relationship."

Bowlsby also said the NCAA is "headed down a path of significant financial difficulty" with revenues from television packages going up about 2 1/2 percent a year while expenses are increasing more than 4 percent annually.

That includes schools paying $1 million or more per year under new rules to start providing unlimited food and nutrition to student-athletes. Plus, future scholarships could provide more money to cover the full cost of attendance.

"I think that's great. I think there are ways that it costs more than room, board, books, tuition, and fees to go to school," Bowlsby said. " But even in an environment where we have some additional revenue coming in from television resources, primarily, it is going to be very difficult for many institutions to fund that.

"In the end, it's a somewhat zero-sum game. There's only so much money out there. I don't think that coaches and athletic directors are likely going to take pay cuts," he said. "And I think over a period of time what we'll find is that instead of keeping a tennis program, they're going to do the things that it takes to keep the football and men's and women's basketball programs strong."

Bowlsby also addressed the NCAA enforcement program, which he said "is broken" considering no hearings before the infractions committee in almost a year even though he doesn't believe cheating is rampant.

"I think it's not an understatement to say cheating pays presently," he said "If you seek to conspire to certainly bend the rules, you can do it successfully and probably not get caught in most occasions. ... They're in a battle with a BB gun in their hand. They're fight howitzers."

Who is the face of baseball once Derek Jeter retires?

Before we ask who, if anyone, can replace Derek Jeter as the face of baseball, there’s another question to ask: Why has Derek Jeter been the face of baseball? Why did he, more than anyone else, become the game’s singular player, the player people talked about most, the player people argued about most, the player non-baseball fans knew?

See, the face of baseball is something of an honorary title. I like to think of this way: Imagine a movie that is not at all about baseball. Let’s say it’s about some sort of Marvel superhero or about Scarlett Johansson having absurd powers or … no, those are pretty much the only two kinds of movies that come out now. OK, in this movie there is a character (probably played by John Krasinski) who is a baseball fan. He happens to mention how much he likes one baseball player.

That player he mentions? He is the face of baseball.

For years now, Derek Jeter would be the player mentioned. Why Jeter? Let’s look at the dozen or so best players since 1990 as ranked by Baseball Reference’s Wins Above Replacement (WAR):

1) Barry Bonds, 139.0
2) Alex Rodriguez, 116.0
3) Albert Pujols, 95.5
4) Chipper Jones, 85.0
5) Ken Griffey, 80.3
6) Jeff Bagwell, 79.6
7) Adrian Beltre, 74.3
8) Frank Thomas, 73.7
9) Jim Thome, 72.9
10) Larry Walker, 72.7
11) Derek Jeter, 72.1
12) Scott Rolen, 70.0

Now, it’s true that many people do not like WAR as a tool to measure players -- it’s not unfair to argue that Beltre gets too much credit for defense or that Jeter gets too little, and some would that Bonds and A-Rod are frauds who should not even count on a list like this -- but the point remains. Jeter was not the best player in baseball. In many years, he was not even the best player on his own team. Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Jason Giambi, Hideki Matsui, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano not to mention pitchers like CC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera all had years when they were, by any statistical measure, every bit as valuable as Jeter.

So why Jeter? Well, he was the shortstop and, after a while, the captain of America’s most undeniable team. People love and loathe the New York Yankees, and Jeter was the essence of pinstripes. The true Yankee. He was the guy hitting at the top of the order, the guy making that jump throw at shortstop, the guy who so often did something memorable like dive into the stands after making a dazzling catch or flip that ball home to get Jeremy Giambi at the plate or hit the winning home run as midnight rang in November.

Jeter had something else too, I think: He played a sort of baseball that felt personal. That’s a hard thing to quantify –-- but when you watched Derek Jeter play you FELT something. Maybe you felt that Derek Jeter was overrated. But even that is something. He was a fantastic player in measurable ways -- he played every day, he cracked 200 hits, he hit double-digit homers, he stole 20 or so bases, he scored 100 runs -- but it was always the things you could not measure that separated him. His leadership. His alertness. His competitive nature. His professional blandness.

These things inspired people to write and say the most over-the-top things about him -- Jeteration, I began to call it -- and it also inspired a backlash from people who grew tired of him being credited for everything good to happen in the world since the polio vaccine. His defense at shortstop was one of the battlegrounds. The defensive numbers suggested he was a below-average defender, and often well below average. But the eyes saw it differently, and Jeter won five Gold Gloves.

These were always things about Jeter to talk about, things to celebrate, things to complain about. He represented big things to people, things like “the right way to the play the game” or “the overhyping of the Yankees” or simply “winning.” No matter how boring Jeter tried to be (and he tried very hard to be boring) he was not. He was this good looking bachelor in New York who dated supermodels and played for a team that always won. He was adored by teammates and respected throughout the game. He played shortstop every day for the New York Yankees, who always made the playoffs and five times in his career won the World Series. How could he not be the face of baseball?

And who can replace all those things? Nobody, I suspect. But I have thought of 10 players who, in their own way, have a chance of being the next face of baseball, the guy Krasinski mentions in the movie:

1. Mike Trout, Angels: Well, it seems everyone is penciling in Trout as the next face of baseball, and that makes sense. Trout is the best player in the game. More than that, he’s the most amazing player we’ve seen since ... I’ll say the young Barry Bonds. Trout does everything -- hit, slug, run, throw, field, get on base -- and he’s a joy to watch.

But face of baseball is a bit more complicated than that -- and I’m not sure Trout inspires the same level of emotion in people that Jeter did. He IS doing Subway commercials, and he just won the All-Star Game MVP, and he plays in the shadow of Disneyland, so there are real possibilities there. But I’m not sure what arguments he sparks (other than arguments about him consistently losing MVP awards to Miguel Cabrera). He’s just ... great. He plays for a not-especially-interesting team on the West Coast ... I’m not entirely sure that people will find him consistently fascinating, that people will develop the same strong feelings about him that they felt about Jeter ... and Ken Griffey Jr. ... and Don Mattingly ... and Pete Rose ... and Roberto Clemente ... and Mickey Mantle ... and so many of the other players who became the face of the game. Time will tell.

2. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates: Well, he’s my personal choice. He’s a few years older, but he’s become something like the National League’s Mike Trout. He too does everything well. And, while some may disagree, I think he’s just a little bit more charismatic than Trout.

I think the question is: Can a player in Pittsburgh become the face of baseball? I think the answer is yes, IF the Pirates win. So much of Jeter’s exposure came in Octobers. If the Pirates would become a consistent playoff contender, I think McCutchen could become the face of baseball because he has the game, the verve, and he’s interesting.

3. Yasiel Puig, Dodgers: I’ve long thought that MLB does not celebrate its worldliness as much as it could. During the All-Star Game, there was a point when Texas’ Yu Darvish was pitching, when Kansas City’s Salvador Perez was catching and when Puig was hitting. That’s a Japanese pitcher throwing to a Venezuelan catcher against a Cuban hitter. That’s baseball now -- 68 years ago, it was lily white, strictly national, and as racist as any sports institution. Now, more than a quarter of the players in the game were born in 16 other countries.

Puig has come to represent the changing game. He’s easy to like, easy to dislike, he does amazing things, he does ridiculous things. He’s a player the eye naturally follows. He also plays in Los Angeles for a Dodgers team that should win a lot.

4. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers: He’s the best hitter in the game, but he’s 31 and has been in the majors for 12 seasons and has not really become a breakout star even after winning the triple crown.

5. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: It’s not easy for a pitcher to become the face of baseball but it has happened -- especially in times when pitching dominated such as the 1960s and early '70s. In that time, Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson and Tom Seaver were three of the biggest figures in sports.

Well, more and more, pitching is dominating the game. And Kershaw’s ultra-dominance (for example, his absurd 134-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio) and the fact that he’s a fantastic lefty pitching on the same mound that Koufax used (only quite a bit lower) make him a viable face of baseball candidate.

6. Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins: The most powerful force in the game ... he hits the longest home runs, and he hits them with extraordinary ease. He’s just so commanding as a hitter. With Stanton, a lot depends where he ends up playing. The next face of baseball probably will not play for the Miami Marlins.

7. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox: I’m throwing him in here because he’s a lot like Jeter. He’s a middle infielder that sparks an instant reaction from people. Also much of his value is considered to be beneath the surface and beyond his solid statistics. He’s an excellent defensive second baseman, a lifetime .300 hitter with some power and speed, and he’s a fiery player who despises losing. He also plays for the Red Sox, who have won three World Series in the last decade and, like the Yankees, are difficult to ignore.

8. Bryce Harper, Washington: This is a wild-card choice, certainly, but there’s something about Harper that makes him a real candidate. He was SO hyped as an amateur player. He was SO hyped when he came up as a rookie. He was doing national television commercials -- something that few baseball players do -- before he even established himself as a Major Leaguer. And he plays an all-out, reckless style that people cannot help but notice and talk about.

Of course, Harper has also been injured and a disappointment so far. He’s only 21-years-old though, and he’s already shown superstar talent at times. Very few young players breeze into superstardom the way Mike Trout did. If Harper develops into a superstar, I think he will be bigger in the American consciousness than Trout.

9. Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee: Many despise him, right? Well, that’s part of Q Rating too. Gomez is an extraordinary player. He plays with boundless energy, hits with surprising power, chases down everything the outfield. He also plays with heightened emotion, which leads to all sorts of things -- fights, hit-by-pitches and so on. There’s a fun documentary about Dominican baseball called “Road to the Big Leagues” that has a young Carlos Gomez dancing around and talking about becoming a star. He’s really a larger-than-life figure.

10. Kris Bryant, Cubs: OK, it’s a reach -- Kris Bryant has not taken one swing in the Major Leagues -- but he has a couple of things going for him. One, he’s absolutely destroying the minor leagues; Cubs GM Theo Epstein calls Bryant a “freak” and “the most adjustable prospect we’ve ever had.” He slugged .700 in High Class A, slugged .700 in Class AA and is now slugging .700 in Class AAA. He adapts to each level instantly, like he’s a shape shifter. He could be a star quickly.

And if he spearheads a Cubs revival, as some believe he will, that will put him very much at the forefront of baseball. The Cubs' almost 70-year drought without a pennant, and their more than 100-year stretch without winning a World Series, is baseball’s biggest storyline. It’s a long way off, but Bryant is one of those players with a chance to fill the Jeter void.

Kirilenko ends engagement to NHL star Ovechkin

MOSCOW (AP) Another sports power couple's engagement is off.

Two months after golfer Rory McIlroy broke off his engagement to Danish tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, Russian tennis player Maria Kirilenko says she has called off her planned wedding to three-time NHL MVP Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals.

The two had been together since 2011 and became engaged in December 2012.

Kirilenko says in comments distributed by the Russian Tennis Federation that there were "a lot of reasons" behind her decision.

She says "our relationship is over, but I respect Sasha (Ovechkin) as a person and as an athlete and I respectfully wish him further sporting success."

Ovechkin had faced questions from Russian media about the relationship when he did not accompany Kirilenko to Wimbledon last month.

Bourdais and Conway win in IndyCar doubleheader

TORONTO -- IndyCar ran two races in Toronto on Sunday, where rain wreaked havoc on both the schedule and driver strategy.

The series had planned to run one race Saturday and one on Sunday until rain washed out the first event. It instead began Sunday morning, roughly five hours before the start of the second race, and won by Sebastien Bourdais. He broke a 52-race losing streak dating to 2007 in claiming a dominating win on the dry street course at Exhibition Place.

But the rain returned for the second race, and IndyCar officials moved the start up 10 minutes in an attempt to run as much as possible in dry conditions. The sky eventually did open, the track became slick and drivers darted to pit road for rain tires.

When the track began to dry, Mike Conway gambled and made an early stop to remove his rain tires. A caution minutes later sent the bulk of the field to pit road to change their tires, and Conway shot up the leaderboard.

Conway was fifth on the restart, but his dry tires were far superior to the drivers still racing on rain tires, and he quickly moved through the field and into the lead. The race, which had been scheduled to run 65 laps or 80 minutes, whichever came first, then became a timed race.

A multicar accident stopped the clock for a cleanup with 4 minutes, 32 seconds remaining, and set up one final restart. Conway pulled away on the restart and easily held off Tony Kanaan.

It was the second win of the season for Conway, who walked away from IndyCar at the end of 2012 season because he no longer wanted to race on ovals. He was hired this year to split the seat with driver/owner Ed Carpenter, who was willing to give up his car on road and street courses.

Kanaan, third in the first race of the day, was the only IndyCar driver to finish on the podium in both events.

Will Power finished third as Chevrolet swept the podium in both races. Bourdais led points leader Helio Castroneves and Kanaan in the first race.

Bourdais, who scored his first win since returning to the U.S. in 2011, was 11th in the second race.

The rain during Race 2 caused one frightening moment when drivers began to slide on the track when the shower first started. Juan Pablo Montoya slipped off course into a tire barrier, and was hit from behind moments later by rookie Mikhail Aleshin.

The contact lifted Montoya's car off its back wheels, Aleshin slid under the car, and Montoya's car landed on top of Aleshin. Montoya's car had to be lifted by a tow truck off of Aleshin, and it dangled in the air with the Colombian still in the cockpit.

An uninjured Aleshin returned to his pit stand and showed off his helmet, which was marred by visible tire marks.

"It was not nice at all because I was sitting under the car," the Russian driver said. "It was getting so hot from (Montoya's) car, I couldn't breathe at all because the car is very hot. ... It was not a nice feeling at all."

Race 1 had its own harrowing moment. It came to an almost immediate halt when a multicar crash led to a red flag on the opening lap. After a long delay, racing resumed with Bourdais leading the field to green. He never really had to look back and led all but six of the 65 laps.

It was Bourdais' first victory since the 2007 Champ Car season finale in Mexico City, but the 32nd of his career. That broke a tie with Paul Tracy and Dario Franchitti to give the Frenchman eighth place on the all-time wins list.

"I've got a big smile across my face and I can't seem to get rid of it," Bourdais said after the victory. "The whole race I was stressed out, it felt too easy, it felt like it was way too much under control, and it felt like it was going to go wrong at some point."

It was KVSH Racing's first victory since Kanaan won the 2013 Indianapolis 500. Kanaan moved to Chip Ganassi Racing at the end of last season, and Bourdais replaced him in the car.

"Hopefully, there's more of that to come," said KVSH co-owner Jimmy Vasser. "When he gets on a roll, he's unbeatable."

Rory McIlroy wins British Open for 3rd major

HOYLAKE, England -- Walking off the 18th green as the British Open champion, Rory McIlroy kept gazing at all the greats on golf's oldest trophy.

On the claret jug, his name is etched in silver below Phil Mickelson.

In the record book, he is listed behind Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the youngest to get three legs of the career Grand Slam.

And over four days at Royal Liverpool, he had no equal.

"I'm immensely proud of myself," McIlroy said after his two-shot victory Sunday that was never really in doubt. "To sit here, 25 years of age, and win my third major championship and be three-quarters of the way to a career Grand Slam ... yeah, I never dreamed of being at this point in my career so quickly."

He had to work a little harder than he wanted for this one.

Staked to a six-shot lead going into the final round, McIlroy turned back every challenge. He made two key birdies around the turn, and delivered a majestic drive at just the right moment to close with a 1-under 71 and complete his wire-to-wire victory.

In another major lacking tension over the final hour, what brought The Open to life was the potential of its champion.

After nearly two years of turmoil, McIlroy looked like the kid who shattered scoring records to win the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional, and who won the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island by a record eight shots a year later.

Boy Wonder is back. Or maybe he's just getting started again.

McIlroy won by two shots over Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler to become the first start-to-finish winner since Woods at St. Andrews in 2005. Even with one major left this year, the Northern Irishman already is looking ahead to Augusta National next April for a shot at the slam.

"I've really found my passion again for golf," McIlroy said. "Not that it ever dwindled, but it's what I think about when I get up in the morning. It's what I think about when I go to bed. I just want to be the best golfer that I can be. And I know if I can do that, then trophies like this are within my capability."

McIlroy put an end to this major with a powerful drive down the fairway at the par-5 16th, setting up a two-putt birdie to restore his lead to three shots. He finished with two pars, tapping in for par on the 18th green.

The hard part was trying not to cry when his mother, Rosie, came onto the green with tears streaming down her face. She was not at the other two majors. Before leaving, McIlroy turned and applauded the fans in the horseshoe arena who were witness to another masterpiece.

This could have been another romp except for a shaky stretch early for McIlroy, and solid efforts from Garcia and Fowler.

Garcia pulled within two shots with four holes to play until he put his tee shot in a pot bunker just right of the 15th green. His first shot failed to get over the 4-foot sodden wall and rolled back into the sand. He made bogey, and two birdies over the final three holes were not enough. Garcia shot 66 and was runner-up in a major for the fourth time.

"I think that we gave it a good effort," Garcia said. "And there was someone a little bit better."

Fowler, playing in the final group for the second straight major, didn't do anything wrong. He just didn't do enough right to make up a six-shot deficit. Fowler played without a bogey, made three birdies on the last four holes and shot 67.

"He played awesome," Fowler said. "And it was just kind of fun to throw a few shots at him coming. To see him win was pretty cool."

It was the first time two straight majors were won wire to wire. Martin Kaymer did it last month at Pinehurst No. 2, taking the U.S. Open by eight shots.

McIlroy, who finished at 17-under 271, wasn't the only big winner Sunday. Ten years ago, his father and three of his friends each put up 100 pounds ($170) at 500-1 odds that McIlroy would win the British Open before he turned 26.

The kid made good on the best with a brand of golf that had him marked early as golf's next great player.

McIlroy moved up to No. 2 in the world, perhaps on his way to regaining the No. 1 ranking that once looked as if it would be his for years. He ended the 2012 season by winning his second major and capturing the money title on the PGA Tour and European Tour.

Since then, the road has been bumpier than some of the dunes at Hoylake.

McIlroy signed a megadeal with Nike and switched out all his equipment. He changed management for the second time, leading to lawsuits that are still to be decided. And after getting engaged to Caroline Wozniacki on New Year's Eve, he abruptly broke off the engagement in May with a telephone call.

His path to victory in The Open was much smoother.

McIlroy made back-to-back bogeys on the front nine and had to save par from a pot bunker to avoid a third. But he steadied himself with a birdie on the par-3ninth, and when Garcia made a 10-foot eagle ahead of him on the 10th to cut the lead to two, McIlroy answered with a two-putt birdie.

Garcia blinked when he could least afford it, leaving a shot in the bunker at No. 15 as McIlroy watched from the tee.

Jim Furyk was among four players who tied the course record with a 65 to finish fourth. Tiger Woods was long gone. He finished his 75 as McIlroy was still on the practice range. Woods finished 69th - his worst finish over 72 holes in any major - and wound up 23 shots behind, his largest deficit ever in a major.

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