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Sports

    Boom or bust. This is what baseball has become — and that has owners worried. 'It's just kind of what it is: home runs and strikeouts,' Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling said. Stripling had just given up 10th-inning home runs on consecutive pitches to Houston's Alex Bregman and George Springer on a night players combined for 10 longballs , nearly double the previous All-Star record. Last fall, you may remember, the Dodgers and Astros totaled 25 home runs in the World Series , four more than had ever been hit before in a Fall Classic. 'It's extremely tough to manufacture hits these days, especially with the shift,' Stripling said after the American League's 8-6 win Tuesday night. 'I certainly understand that's where the game's going, and so I think this game encapsulated that.' It took until the 344th pitch for a run to be driven in on something other than a homer, Michael Brantley's tack-on sacrifice fly that boosted the AL's lead to 8-5. Joey Votto added the final home run in the bottom half, four more than the previous All-Star mark. 'Everybody's throwing 97 to 100,' Washington ace Max Scherzer, the NL starter, said in a reference to pitch velocity. 'You're not going to string three hits together like that. So everybody's just swinging for the fence.' Hours earlier, baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred was expressing alarm. Strikeouts (24,537) are on track to surpass hits (24,314) for the first time and are likely to set a record for the 12th straight season. This year's average of 17.0 per game is up from 12.6 in 2005. The current big league batting average of .247 would be the lowest since 1972. And the average of 2.28 homers per game is just below the record 2.51 set last year. 'Standard operation nowadays, right? We're going to homer-and-punch-out as an industry,' said Astros manager A.J. Hinch, who led the AL to victory. There's a great love affair with both results.' Among 90 plate appearances, 44 ended in a home run, strikeout (25) or walk (nine), at 48.9 percent the highest in All-Star history, according to STATS. 'I don't really want to see guys shorten up and slap the ball around the infield just to avoid a strikeout. That doesn't excite me,' Colorado's Charlie Blackmon, who won the NL batting title last year while hitting 37 home runs. 'I don't mind strikeouts. That doesn't mean I want guys swinging way out of the zone, but it doesn't bother me.' Many cite shifts as the cause of the, well, big shift in offense, transforming groundballs that once were hits into outs. There have been 20,587 shifts on balls in play, according to Baseball Info Solutions. That projects to a full-season total of 34,668 — up 29.8 percent from last year and an increase from 6,882 for the entire 2013 season. 'There is a growing consensus or maybe even better an existing consensus among ownership that we need to have a really serious conversation about making some changes to the way the game is being played,' Manfred said. 'We are not at the point where I can articulate for you what particular rule changes might get serious consideration. I can tell you the issues that concern people: I think that the period of time between putting balls in play, the number of strikeouts, to a lesser extent the number of home runs, the significance of the shift and what it's done to the game, the use of relief pitchers and the way starting pitchers are going to be used.' When it comes to change, players are Luddites. Union head Tony Clark maintained his members are 'stewards of the game' and are resistant to tinkering with the rules for fear of unintended consequences. 'We may get to a point where those coming to the ballpark or have an interest in coming to the ballpark for whatever reason aren't 100 percent certain that what they are seeing is the type of game that they want to see,' Clark said. Home runs bring the crowd to its feet, especially by the home team. Think back to the 1998 Nike advertisement with Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, titled 'Chicks Dig the Long Ball.' The Yankees' Aaron Judge started the barrage with a second-inning solo shot off Scherzer. 'I know the fans enjoy seeing these homers,' Judge said. ___ More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
  • Oklahoma is the favorite again in the Big 12 even with Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield now in the NFL. Who will be the Sooners' biggest challengers in their run for a fourth straight conference championship and third College Football Playoff appearance in the last four seasons? Max Olson of The Athletic tells AP college football writer Ralph Russo that West Virginia is most likely to knock off Oklahoma — though the margin between the top and middle of the Big 12 is thin. In the first of a series of conference previews on the AP Top 25 College Football Podcast, Russo and Olson size up the Big 12. Which team is most likely to overachieve? Underachieve? Will Texas (finally) take that big step forward under Tom Herman? ___ More AP college football: http://collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
  • In a story July 17 about All-Star reliever Josh Hader, The Associated Press reported erroneously that Hader had referenced the shooting of Trayvon Martin among offensive tweets. It's not clear the Martin tweet can be attributed to Hader. A corrected version of the story is below: Brewers All-Star Hader takes responsibility for tweets Milwaukee Brewers reliever Josh Hader took responsibility for racist and homophobic tweets that resurfaced while he was pitching in the All-Star Game By STEPHEN WHYNO AP Sports Writer Milwaukee Brewers reliever Josh Hader took responsibility for racist and homophobic tweets that resurfaced while he was pitching in the All-Star Game on Tuesday night. Hader was alerted to an online firestorm regarding the tweets when he came out of the game. He locked his account and after the game he said the posts were from seven years ago and stemmed from immaturity when he was 17. 'There's no excuse for what was said,' Hader said. 'I'm deeply sorry for what I've said and what's been going on. It doesn't reflect any of my beliefs going on now.' Asked if he was worried about facing discipline, the 24-year-old said he would live with it. 'I'm ready for any consequences that happen for what happened seven years ago,' Hader said. Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem, speaking outside the NL clubhouse, said he had spoken to Hader. He said Major League Baseball would not have any comment before Wednesday. Some of the tweets that surfaced were from 2011 and 2012. Hader said he did not 'vividly' remember the tweets. 'I'm sure there's some lyrics, some rap lyrics being tweeted,' Hader said. 'I really don't know exactly what's all out there.' As Hader's tweets were going viral, some of Hader's friends and family in attendance were given blank gear in the stands. They were wearing blank National League gear outside the clubhouse toward the end of the game. Hader said he had not spoken to family members and when asked if that would be a difficult conversation responded: 'I was young, immature and stupid. There's no excuses for what was said or what happened.' Hader, who allowed four hits including a home run to Seattle's Jean Segura, talked to Brewers teammate Lorenzo Cain in the clubhouse after the NL's 8-6 loss. Cain said he did not ask for an apology and simply wanted to understand the situation before speaking with reporters. 'We've all said crazy stuff growing up, even when we're 17, 18 years old,' Cain said. 'If we could follow each other around with a recorder every day, I'm sure we all said some dumb stuff. Basically, we're going to move on from this. He said it. It's over with. It's done with.' Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich said: 'I don't know what he did or what happened. The guy I know, he's a great guy. Really kind heart.' Hader, a native of Millersville, Maryland, cited his youth for sentiments shared in the tweets. 'Being 17 years old, you make stupid decisions and mistakes,' Hader said. 'I was in high school. We're still learning who we are in high school. You live and you learn. This mistake won't happen again.' ___ AP Sports Writer Howard Fendrich contributed. ___ More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
  • Anthony Joshua was welcomed by applause on the stage. He stood front and center, promoting his Sept. 22 bout against Alexander Povetkin. Even there, he couldn't escape talk of the heavyweight he isn't fighting. Someone in the crowd jumped at the opportunity and shouted, 'AJ, we want Wilder!'   'Let them train to be a fighter and fight (Deontay) Wilder,' Joshua told AP. 'It's easy talking about it. It's another thing doing.'   But with his hands on his hips, Joshua looked in the direction of the outburst and stoically mouthed, 'Same.' Meanwhile, Povetkin was standing off to the side. Povetkin and Joshua were both in the West Village on Tuesday for the launch party of DAZN, a global sports streaming service. Its first event is their fight. Povetkin is partially the reason why Joshua (21-0, 20 knockouts) isn't fighting Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) this year.   In June, the World Boxing Association ordered Joshua to fight Povetkin (34-1, 24 KOs) or have his title stripped away.  He signed, ending his chances of a Wilder-Joshua fight in 2018. Wilder said if Joshua wanted the fight to happen, it would be happening. 'Most definitely he could have gotten an exemption for this fight,' Wilder said. 'That was the least of the worries right there because everyone wants it. When everyone wants it, then there's nothing that could stand in the way of a fight of this magnitude. No possible way.  'Even when he's announcing Povetkin, they're talking about me. Everywhere we go, they're talking about this fight.'   But Joshua doesn't care what everyone wants. He said he's following protocol.   'This career isn't determined by what people want,' Joshua said. 'It's my career. I've always pulled for and done what was right for myself, which has ultimately led me to becoming a champion.'  Right now, Joshua holds three of the four major belts: WBA, IBF and WBO. Wilder has the other: WBC. If the two were to fight, which they still both believe they will, the winner would be named the undisputed heavyweight boxing champion.   The most recent boxer to claim that honor was Lennox Lewis in 2000.   'It's not about the big light,' Joshua said. 'It's not about taking from the industry. I don't want to drive a Rolls-Royce tomorrow. I don't want a one-hit fight wonder, then I'm a champion one week and few months later I've lost it because I'm living the life. I want to add to the industry, give back. I do it because I'm passionate about it.'   His passion is just different from Wilder, who said he tried everything possible to make this unification fight happen. Wilder accepted a flat fee of $15 million and offered Joshua a guaranteed $50 million, plus 50 percent of the revenue if the fight took place in the U.S. Joshua wanted England. Wilder agreed.   'We've done everything,' Wilder said. 'I can't express how much I mean by that when I say we've done everything day and night, day and night, day and night. And the only thing they've done is try to come up with plans of distracting the fans and trying to come up with plans of lies.'   More negotiations took place. Each side says something different transpired— Wilder said Joshua sent blank contracts missing a date or place; Joshua said Wilder didn't meet the deadline. There was also a disputed rematch clause.  Regardless, months passed without any signed contract, leading the WBA to step in. Wilder thinks Joshua would rather fight Povetkin anyway because he's not ready to compete against the best.  'Wilder has a big power punch, but he likes to fight. He likes to get into the brawl a little bit,' Povetkin said through a translator. 'Joshua is more technical, but he also has a lot of power. It would be a different approach, but they're both great fighters.'   Povetkin would rather fight Joshua — probably because he's going to — but thoughts of fighting Wilder cross his mind often. He'd be glad to get in that ring, too. (They've tried, but two failed drugs tests by Povetkin prevented a fight from actually happening.)  If Povetkin defeats Joshua, the unification discussion might change. Only time will tell. Both parties say they want it to happen. It's just not happening this year. Joshua has Povetkin at Wembley Stadium in London. Wilder says he will also have a fight and to be on the lookout for an announcement soon.   Life is moving on — for now.   'At the end of the day, me and Joshua don't need each other,' Wilder said. 'Not to survive and live. We've been doing that before we even met each other, and we're going to do that after we've met each other.  'But for this fight to happen — for fans to see one of the biggest fights in world history and to see one champion, one face, one name — we definitely need each other.' 
  • Major League Baseball wants a broad discussion with players about rule changes to combat decreased offense and longer games, an initiative likely to be met by a testy union stung by declining free-agent prices and already raising the possibility of a work stoppage after the 2021 season. Commissioner Rob Manfred and players' association head Tony Clark outlined their differing agendas during separate sessions with the Baseball Writers' Association of America before Tuesday night's All-Star Game. 'There is a growing consensus or maybe even better an existing consensus among ownership that we need to have a really serious conversation about making some changes to the way the game is being played,' Manfred said. 'We are not at the point where I can articulate for you what particular rule changes might get serious consideration. I can tell you the issues that concern people: I think that the period of time between putting balls in play, the number of strikeouts, to a lesser extent the number of home runs, the significance of the shift and what it's done to the game, the use of relief pitchers and the way starting pitchers are going to be used.' Clark repeatedly maintained players are reluctant to change as 'stewards of the game.' 'We may get to a point where those coming to the ballpark or have an interest in coming to the ballpark for whatever reason aren't 100 percent certain that what they are seeing is the type of game that they want to see,' he said. More than 100 free agents remained unsigned when spring training began this year. Many agreed to deals at a fraction of the price they thought they were worth and for fewer years than they expected. 'What we experienced last offseason was a direct attack on free agency, which has been a bedrock of our economic system, and if that is going to be different, then we have some very difficult decisions to make moving forward,' Clark said. Baseball had eight work stoppages from 1972-95 but has had labor peace since. The current five-year contract runs through the 2021 season, and Clark left open a possible return to the era of strife. 'To the extent there are challenges to those rights, historically I would suggest those have manifested themselves in a particular way,' he said. The union filed a grievance in February against Miami, Oakland, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay, accusing the teams of failing to appropriately spend revenue-sharing money in an effort to improve their on-field product. Manfred dismissed the allegations, saying the grievance was filed 'really for publicity reasons.' Manfred said the lack of interest in free agents was due to the dearth of quality. 'At the end of the year you'll look at the performance of those players,' he said, 'I'm pretty sure, based on what's already in the books, you're going to make the judgment that the clubs made sound decisions as to how those players should be valued.' Management is alarmed by what is taking place on the field. Strikeouts (24,537) are on track to surpass hits (24,314) for the first time. Strikeouts also are likely to set a record for the 12th straight season, and this year's average of 17.0 per game is up from 12.6 in 2005. The current big league batting average of .247 would be the lowest since 1972. There have been 20,587 shifts on balls in play, according to Baseball Info Solutions. That projects to a full-season total of 34,668 — up 29.8 percent from last year and an increase from 6,882 for the entire 2013 season. That has decreased the batting average of stars such as Washington's Bryce Harper, who is hitting just .214. And the average attendance of 28,568 is down from the 30,159 at the break last year, when the final figure was 30,042. MLB has not dropped below 30,000 since 2002. Manfred blamed early season bad weather. 'We've made up some ground,' he said. 'We were down as much as 8, 9 (percent) early, we were back to like 5.5 percent down, and I'm optimistic.' Lack of competitiveness among rebuilding teams also is a likely factor. Three teams are on track to lose 100 or more games, which would match the record set in 2002, and five others are on a pace for 90 or more defeats. Clark called the attendance drop 'dramatic' and said while weather is partly to blame 'the concerns that fans have in regards to the competitive integrity piece is one of them' along with 'players being moved from teams that fans had a connection with.' While he wouldn't cite teams for tanking, he said it appears many clubs are deciding to rebuild if analytics tell them they can't compete to win the World Series. 'This is only what I am hearing, that teams are making decisions against the backdrop of what they believe their roster is going to yield and the landing place of where their team is going to be at the end of the year, that those data points suggest if you're not in a particular place, then it may make more sense not to look to be the last team standing,' he said. ___ More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
  • Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr has received a contract extension following the franchise's repeat championship and third title in four years during his tenure. Kerr and general manager Bob Myers, who are close friends and colleagues, said when the season ended that something would get done quickly once they began formal discussions. Kerr had one year remaining on his original $25 million, five-year contract. Details of the extension were not announced Tuesday. 'We're excited to have Steve under contract and poised to lead our team for the next several years,' Myers said in a statement released by the team. 'Under his guidance, we've been fortunate enough to win three NBA titles in four years and his ability to thrive in all facets of his job is certainly a primary reason for our success. He's a terrific coach, but more importantly an incredible human being.' The 52-year-old Kerr has said he hopes to coach at least another decade and perhaps 15 years. His Warriors swept LeBron James and Cleveland in the fourth straight NBA Finals matchups between the rivals. Kerr stayed healthy and on the bench while continuing to deal with symptoms such as headaches and dizzy spells stemming from a pair of back surgeries following the 2015 title. The Warriors marked themselves as a dynasty with their latest crown. They joined Bill Russell's Boston Celtics, the Chicago Bulls led by Michael Jordan and the Lakers' trio of title runs fueled by George Mikan in the 1950s, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the '80s, and Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant nearly 20 years ago as the only franchises in NBA history to capture three championships in four years. Golden State captured the franchise's first title in 40 years during 2014-15, with Kerr as a rookie head coach. Now, the Warriors are gearing up for one more season in Oracle Arena before opening their state-of-the-art Chase Center in San Francisco's Mission Bay neighborhood in August 2019. James offered a shoutout to Kerr during the finals. 'I could sit here and say today — 'Listen, Golden State is a great team ...' — I didn't even mention their head coach,' James said. 'Their head coach is the one who kind of puts it all together, makes it all flow. To be able to put egos and the right position and spot on the floor where everybody feels good about the outcome and things of that nature — when it comes to team sports, that's something that you would hope that you could be a part of.' Kerr owns a 265-63 record (.808), guiding the Warriors to a record 73-win season in 2015-16 before a runner-up finish to the Cavaliers. His Warriors then went a record 16-1 during the 2017 postseason on the way to another title. He was tested more as a coach this season, aside from his 43-game absence to begin the 2015-16 season when then-top assistant and current Lakers coach Luke Walton led the Warriors to a record 24-0 start and 39-4 mark before Kerr's return to the bench. Late in the regular season this year, Golden State lost seven of 10 during one noteworthy funk for a team that when healthy starts four All-Stars and can score in flurries with a pass-happy offense that racks up assists. For weeks ahead of the 2018 playoffs, the Warriors hardly looked like that super team that dominated through the previous postseason. They lost their final regular-season game at Utah by 40 points. Yet Kerr and his players insisted all along they would find another level when there was something bigger to play for. Kerr was forced to use a mindboggling 27 different starting lineups to get through the regular season and wind up a No. 2 seed behind Houston, with the Western Conference finals marking the first time the Warriors had to open a series on the road since 2014. ___ More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
  • The Arizona Cardinals suspended general manager Steve Keim for five weeks and fined him $200,000 after he pleaded guilty in court Tuesday to extreme DUI following a Fourth of July arrest in a Phoenix suburb. A Chandler police report shows Keim had a blood-alcohol level of 0.19, more than twice Arizona's legal limit of 0.08 for drivers. It wasn't immediately clear when Keim would be sentenced or if he was facing a jail term. The Cardinals report to training camp at University of Phoenix Stadium on July 27. Keim has been the Cardinals GM since 2013 and signed a contract extension in February through the 2022 NFL season. According to the arrest report, Keim told police he only had two beers and ate pizza two hours before he got pulled over around 12:30 a.m. in Chandler. But officers said they smelled alcohol on Keim's breath and he had slurred speech. Keim also refused to take several field sobriety tests, but did consent to have his blood drawn. 'As stated at the time of the incident, this behavior is indefensible and completely unacceptable,' the Cardinals said in a statement Tuesday. 'While Steve has accepted full accountability and responsibility for his actions, that does not diminish their gravity nor the severity of the consequences that result from them. 'Those who work within the National Football League — particularly those in leadership positions — bear a greater responsibility and are held to a higher standard than simply a legal one and we feel that these measures are reflective of that.' During his suspension, Keim will be barred from the Cardinals' facilities and prohibited contact with the team. He won't be allowed to return to the team until after he's completed counseling and evaluation plus a DUI education course. The $200,000 fine will be donated to the Arizona chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. 'Once again, I apologize to everyone who has been negatively impacted by my actions and incredibly poor judgment, in particular the Cardinals, our fans and my family,' Keim said in a statement released by the team Tuesday. 'I fully deserve and accept the punishment that has been issued. My goal is to do everything I can to grow from this personally and help others learn from my inexcusable behavior.' ___ For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL
  • Texas has gone from compliant to committed under coach Tom Herman, and is winning again. When Herman appeared at Big 12 media days for the first time last summer, the Longhorns were coming off three consecutive losing seasons and he had yet to coach a game in Austin. 'We had a lot of compliant guys, 'yes sir' and nod your head and do what you're asked to do,' Herman said Tuesday in his return to the media days. 'But I don't know that really deep down (they) believed in their core that the way that we're doing things is the only way that you can win championships.' The Longhorns didn't win a championship in Herman's first season, but they finished 7-6 after a 33-16 win over Missouri in the Texas Bowl. 'Without a doubt in my mind, the belief in that locker room is there,' Herman said of the change. While Big 12 preseason favorite Oklahoma has been to the College Football Playoff twice in the last three years, Texas is still the league's last national champion — 13 seasons ago with quarterback Vince Young. Only Oklahoma, West Virginia and TCU were picked ahead of the Longhorns in the preseason media poll . The Sooners and West Virginia play the day after Thanksgiving in Morgantown, a regular season finale that would be a preview of the Big 12 championship the following week if the preseason predictions pan out. 'Don't know, never done it, and not going to think about it,' Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen said when asked about possibility playing Oklahoma in consecutive weeks. 'We've got to play Tennessee. That's our first game.' Texas and West Virginia are the only Big 12 teams with two non-conference games against Power Five teams. The Longhorns open at Maryland and also host USC, while WVU plays the Volunteers on the opening weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina, and later goes to North Carolina State. The Mountaineers are going into their seventh Big 12 season, and are 27-27 in conference games since moving from the Big East. With preseason Big 12 offensive player of the year Will Grier at quarterback and top receiver David Sills V also back, West Virginia is now considered one of the league's favorites. Holgorsen knows that will lead to plenty of questions about handling expectations. 'We welcome expectations. Heck, you want 'em to talk about you,' Holgorsen said. 'I don't care where you're picked. Doesn't matter, there's pressure everywhere, pressure to live up to the expectations or pressure to create expectations, and I think our guys are old. I think our coaching staff has tremendous continuity, been around.' Grier, the former Florida quarterback, threw for 3,490 yards and 34 touchdowns at WVU before breaking the middle finger on his throwing hand when diving for the end zone in the 11th game last season. Sills had 60 catches for 980 yards and a nation-best 18 touchdowns. Bill Snyder is going into his 27th season overall at Kansas State, and the 10th since his return after a three-year 'retirement.' He will turn 79 in October. 'Am I surprised he's still coaching? No, I'm not,' said Mike Gundy, the former Oklahoma State quarterback going into his 14th season as the Cowboys coach. 'I will be surprised when he's not coaching. ... The everyday operation or game-day approach with his team is very similar to what it was when I competed against him as a player in 1989.' Going into only his second season, Herman believes the culture he has tried to establish is already 'fully ingrained' in the current players. Herman, the offensive coordinator for Ohio State's national championship team four years ago before two seasons as Houston's head coach, expressed excitement about retaining all his staff, as well as the addition of a top recruiting class. There was also very limited roster attrition, and the Longhorns have two older quarterbacks with experience in Sam Ehlinger and Shane Buechele. 'We had a tremendous amount of growth last season,' Herman said. 'Although our record was not up to the championship expectations that we have at the University of Texas. I think that anybody that has watched us play, anybody that's been around our program, understands that we're playing harder, we're playing more physical, we're playing more cohesive than our program has in quite some time.' ___ More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
  • The Los Angeles Dodgers are making preparations to welcome Manny Machado into their pennant race. Los Angeles entered the All-Star break with a narrow half-game lead over second-place Arizona in the NL West, and there's a good chance the Dodgers will begin play Friday in Milwaukee with a four-time All-Star at shortstop. Machado will undoubtedly be dealt by the Baltimore Orioles before the July non-waiver trade deadline, and speculation is centering upon a Wednesday swap with Los Angeles. 'I had a conversation with Manny. He's a great guy, man, and we would love to have him here,' Dodgers All-Star pitcher Kenley Jansen said Tuesday night. The Dodgers begin a 10-game road trip out of the break, and they'd love to have Machado dressed in Dodger blue. 'I think the sky's the limit. We can do damage,' Jansen said. 'Let's see what's going to happen.' If Machado heads to the Dodgers, he will likely get to wear his coveted No. 13, now worn by first baseman Max Muncy. 'He deserves that number,' Jansen said. In spite of the media that followed his every move, Machado did his best Tuesday to enjoy himself. He walked the red carpet shirtless in a double-breasted suit, took a couple selfies on the field and smiled through six innings of carefree baseball. When he was done, Machado peeled off his Orioles uniform for perhaps the final time. Then he walked out of Nationals Stadium with his family, not bothering to stick around after the game to answer another round of questions about a potential trade that would end his stay in Baltimore — perhaps before the Orioles return from the break to play in Toronto on Friday night. In the meantime, Machado was the center of attention before and during the first All-Star Game in Washington since 1969. A huge media throng buzzed around his locker prior to batting practice. During BP, Machado joked with Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp outside the cage. Then came the game. Machado went 0 for 2 — a fly ball and a popup — before exiting for a pinch hitter in the sixth inning. 'I'm just trying to enjoy this moment with the American League guys,' Machado told FOX in the dugout. 'If this is the last time (in a Baltimore uniform), hopefully I treated them well and did everything I can for the organization.' Walking out toward the exit ramp, Machado ran into Nick Markakis, a longtime former teammate now with the Atlanta Braves. They hugged, shook hands and walked away. Earlier, the pair crossed paths on the field. 'I ran up to him and he started reaching into his pocket. I didn't know what he was doing,' Markakis said. 'Pulled out his phone. We took a picture on the field. It was a pretty cool moment. Pretty cool for him to do. I enjoyed my time playing with him. He's a great teammate, a great dude. Whatever happens with him after today, I wish him luck.' It appears as if Los Angeles is going to be the place to be for Machado, who's batting .315 with 24 homers and 65 RBIs. 'Things are getting serious now,' Dodgers right-hander Ross Stripling said. 'That's the kind of bat and the kind of player that you want in your lineup.' Kemp, a three-time All-Star, said of Machado: 'He's actually one of my favorite players to watch. I hit with him in the offseason two years ago. He's a great player. If that's something that happens I think LA would be excited about it and (it would) definitely help our team win more games.' In his first at-bat Tuesday night, Machado hit a routine fly to Kemp in left field. Then, after Kemp doubled in the second inning, Machado walked to second base and clicked a 'selfie' with the player who could be his future teammate. All the speculation, the repetitive questions and the crowds around his locker couldn't put a damper on the All-Star experience for Machado, who has never played for any big league team but the Orioles. 'It's awesome,' Machado said beforehand. 'Every time you put on the Oriole uniform it's always a great blessing, and you always want the opportunity to put that on. Just put it on, go play shortstop when I get my name announced. I know there's going to be some Baltimore fans out there, so I'm really looking forward to it.' Machado insisted he knew nothing of a deal. 'I haven't heard anything,' he said. 'I'm just worried about the game today, and whatever happens moving forward will happen. There will be a time and place for everything.' In the meantime, he's been trying to cope with an uncertain future. 'He's got to be going through some emotions. It's probably tough for him,' said Mike Trout, whose locker was next to Machado's. 'I'm sure he wants this thing to be over.' Machado is under contract through the end of the season, but the Orioles can't afford to provide him to a new, huge deal as well as rebuild a team that currently stands in last place in the AL East. By the end of the week, he could be wearing a new uniform and playing in a different league. ___ AP Sports Writer Ron Blum, and freelance writers Brian McNally and Ben Standig contributed to this report. ___ More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
  • It was just five years ago that Brooks Koepka won the Scottish Hydro Challenge to earn a spot on the European Tour. He's got fond memories of that, and even bigger things in mind in Scotland this week. 'Right now I'm focused on just winning,' the two-time U.S. Open champion said Tuesday. 'That's the only thing I've got on my mind. Second place just isn't good enough. I finished second a lot and just tired of it.' Koepka was an aspiring young pro in search of his first big break when he came to Europe in 2012 to play the Challenge Tour. He won three times, including the victory in 2013 that got him on the European Tour. His life has changed a lot since then, but Koepka remembers the fun he had on his way up. 'I didn't have any options when I turned pro except to come over here and play,' he said. 'I enjoyed it. And I know I've said this a million times, it was the most fun I've ever had playing golf. Probably the funnest time of my life coming over here and playing. I enjoyed it way more than I probably do now, playing on the tour.' Koepka qualified for his first British Open the day after his win in Scotland, but not before having to get out of a taxi to help change a flat tire on the way to play in the qualifier. After winning a second U.S. Open title last month at Shinnecock, he's eager to try to win an Open on this side of the pond. 'The last major I played I won, so I've got confidence,' he said. ___ TROPHY TIME Dustin Johnson has been given one trophy already this week. The top-ranked player in the world can only hope he gets one more. Johnson was honored Tuesday with the Mark H. McCormack Award for being No. 1 in the world more weeks than anyone in 2017. Johnson claimed the top spot in February 2017 and held it the rest of the year. He has been No. 1 this entire year except for four weeks when Justin Thomas replaced him. McCormack was behind the creation of the world ranking, which became official in 1986. Johnson likes his chances to be on top of the leaderboard this week as well. 'I feel the game is in really good form this week. I've had four weeks off, so I've had a lot of rest,' Johnson said. 'I feel good about the game. I've had a lot of practice. I got here Saturday and played the course quite a few times. I think it's going to be a good test.' Johnson has won only one major, the 2016 U.S. Open, and is eager to add another to his trophy case after losing a lead in the U.S. Open last month to eventual winner Brooks Koepka. 'I've given myself a lot of chances,' he said. 'But as we all know, it's very hard to win in a major. You've got to play four really good rounds, and everything in your game has to be working.' ___ LEVELING OUT Bryson DeChambeau has always done things his own way, including playing clubs that are all the same length and using a protractor to help him read greens. But when DeChambeau and his caddie started measuring a hill on the green with some sort of a level during a practice round Tuesday, Tiger Woods had seen enough. 'It's downhill,' Woods yelled across the green with a smile as DeChambeau and his caddie spent several minutes taking careful measurements. DeChambeau's playing style is unique but so far successful. He is a two-time winner on the PGA Tour and finished tied for 25th at the U.S. Open. He is playing in his second British Open, missing the cut last year at Royal Birkdale. ___ PAIN BARRIER Henrik Stenson wouldn't be playing at Carnoustie if this was an event on the regular tour. The 2016 British Open champion says he is 'not 100 percent' because of inflammation in his left arm that forced him to withdraw from the Scottish Open last week. He played 18 holes in his native Sweden on Saturday and didn't feel great when he woke up the next day, before traveling to Scotland. Stenson won't be overdoing practice before teeing off on Thursday in a group containing Tommy Fleetwood and Jimmy Walker. 'It's fun to be here,' Stenson said, 'and we'll do what we can.' Stenson has some unfinished business at the British Open. Last year, he arrived at Royal Birkdale as the defending champion but saw the defense of the claret jug disrupted by a burglary at his rental home while he played his opening round. ___ DJ CAN RELATE Dustin Johnson has never played a British Open at Carnoustie, though he has been here for the Dunhill Links Championship. He does watch highlights, however, and like everyone else, remembers that image of Jean Van de Velde standing in the Barry Burn on the 18th hole on his way to triple bogey in 1999 that cost him the claret jug. Johnson has had his own share of blunders — an 82 in the final round of the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, a three-putt par from 12 feet at Chambers Bay to go from a chance to win the 2015 U.S. Open to finishing runner-up to Jordan Spieth, and the infamous grounding of his club in sand that he didn't realize was a bunker at Whistling Straits that cost him a spot in the playoff at the 2010 PGA Championship. He was asked if watching the Van de Velde follies made him think he got off easy. 'That was a pretty rough one,' he said. 'But so were all of mine. I can feel for him a little bit. But yeah, either way you look at it, we both lost.