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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

U.S. offense awakens in 3-2 win at Slovenia

The United States won for just the second time since Jurgen Klinsmann took over as coach, with Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore scoring in a two-minute span late in the first half to lead the Americans over Slovenia 3-2 on a foggy Tuesday night in Ljubljana.
Tim Matavz scored twice for Slovenia, and Edson Buddle got the opening goal for the Americans, who had been outscored 5-2 in going 1-4-1 since Klinsmann replaced Bob Bradley in late July. The former German star and coach switched to a more attack-oriented 4-4-2 against the Green Dragons, who played another exciting match against the U.S. following their controversial 2-2 tie in the first round of last year's World Cup.
"It looked much better,'' Klinsmann said. "It's a process, and that process, besides results, is going really well.''
The Americans, who have dropped to 34th in FIFA's world rankings, finished a disappointing year 6-8-3, their worst record since going 7-9-11 in 1994. But this was their first victory in Europe 3 1/2 years, having gone 0-5 since winning at Poland in March 2008.
"It's always good to come over and win on European soil,'' Dempsey said.
On a night when the fog prevented players from seeing clearly for more than 10 or 20 yards, Buddle put the U.S. ahead in the ninth minute off a pass from Dempsey after a defensive mixup.
Matavz tied the score in the 26th as an American offside trap failed. Dempsey scored with a header in the 41st and Altidore made it 3-1 when he converted a penalty kick two minutes later, giving the U.S. its highest-scoring first half since June 2008 against Barbados.
But Slovenia, ranked 27th in the world, responded with a furious rally after halftime, and Matavz cut the deficit in the 61st, just after Bostjan Cesar's corner kick had bounced off the crossbar.
U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra became the 12th American to make 100 international appearances, but Klinsmann made three changes from Friday's 1-0 loss at France.
"It was a special night,'' Klinsmann said. "The team was pumped up all day, and they wanted to do well for him.''
Buddle and Altidore started up front as Klinsmann went to a two-forward formation. Michael Bradley - son of the former coach - and Buddle got their first starts since Klinsmann's debut in August.
"It was kind of coming over the last couple of months,'' Klinsmann said. "We've been working on that.''
Fabian Johnson, who started for Germany in the 2009 European Under-21 final, began in midfield, four days after making his American debut as a second-half substitute.
Johnson nearly put the U.S. ahead in the first minute, with goalkeeper Samir Handanovic just tipping his volley over the crossbar.
Buddle scored his third goal in 10 appearances, and his first since June 2010 against Australia, after Handanovic's attempted clearance was stripped by Dempsey from Rene Krhin. Dempsey tipped the ball to Buddle, who scored from 25 yards.
Two minutes later, an open Altidore skied one over the crossbar from Johnson's cross.
With the defense playing a high line, Zlatan Ljubijankic split the center backs and Matavz broke in alone, scoring from about 15 yards over Howard's outstretched right hand.
Dempsey broke the deadlock with a header from about 8 yards off Michael Bradley's corner kick. With his 24th international goal, Dempsey tied Joe-Max Moore for fourth place on the U.S. scoring list, trailing only Landon Donovan (46), Eric Wynalda (34) and Brian McBride (30).
Miso Brecko then tripped up Johnson in the penalty area, and Altidore converted the penalty kick for his first goal under Klinsmann and 13th overall.
Slovenia had a chance to tie in second-half injury time, but Valter Birsa - who scored the opening goal when the teams met in South Africa last year - put a 25-yard free kick over the crossbar.
"We'd liked to have finished game a little bit stronger than we did,'' Dempsey said. "But we're happy with the win.''
NOTES: The U.S. is planning exhibitions at Panama on Jan. 25 and at Italy on Feb. 29. The second is a FIFA fixture date, meaning most of the player pool should be available.

No. 10 Memphis clobbers upset-minded Belmont - CNN

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Will Barton scored 23 points and Wesley Witherspoon added 22 as No. 10 Memphis defeated Belmont 97-81 on Tuesday.
Joe Jackson added 20 points and seven assists for Memphis (1-0). Freshman Adonis Thomas scored 12 for the Tigers, who shot 59 percent, including 7 of 14 from 3-point range.
Belmont, coming off a 77-76 loss at No. 6 Duke last Friday, was led by J.J. Mann with 18 points, while Ian Clark had 16. Kerron Johnson scored 13 and Mick Hedgepeth added 10.
Johnson and Hedgepeth each had eight rebounds as the Bruins (0-2) outrebounded Memphis 42-29.
Belmont was limited to 39-percent shooting and committed 18 turnovers to nine for Memphis.

Doubles rivals get Scottish International off to a tasty start

TWO-TIMES Yonex Scottish National men's doubles champions Jamie Neill and Keith Turnbull will be keen to make their mark at the Scottish International Championships, starting at the Kelvin Hall International Sports Arena a week tomorrow (Wed, Nov 23). And they were today given a great incentive to make an immediate impact when the draw paired them against rising Scotland star Paul Van Rietvelde and England's Ben Stawski, the recent Turkish International winners, in the opening round on the Thursday.
Scotland's other doubles hopes Martin Campbell and Angus Gilmour, who narrowly missed out on a seeding in the doubles, face a tough opening test against Austria's fourth seeds Juergen Koch and Peter Zauner. Russia's top seeds Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov start against Taipei's Lin Yu Hsien and Germany's Kai Waldenberger.
Peter Mills and Marcus Ellis, England's defending champions, are only seeded sixth and must face New Zealand's Kevin Dennerly-Mintum and Oliver Leydon-Davis in the first round. Their first real test should come against Koch and Zauner.
In the men's singles Rajiv Ouseph is out to recapture the title he won in 2008. The four-times English National champion and Commonwealth silver medallist, starts his bid against Germany's Richard Domke. But his first real test should come against old rival Scott Evans, the 12th seed from Ireland.
Ukraine second seed Dmytro Zavadsky starts against Denmark's Flemming Quach and could face Russia's 13th seed Ivan Sozonov in the last 16, whilst Scottish National Champion Kieran Merrilees faces a tough opening match against ninth seed Petr Koukal of the Czech Republic. England are also out to recapture the women's singles with 2008 winner and 2010 runner-up Elizabeth Cann seeded fourth and opening with a bye before meeting England's Holly Smith or Estonia's Saar Getter. But the title favourite is Bulgaria's Linda Zechiri. The top seed begins her bid in the second round against England's Jo Dix or Scotland's Carol Nicoll.
Zechiri is seeded to meet Larissa Griga in the final but the Ukraine player's first test is a second-round clash with Austria's Simone Prutsch or Ireland's Sinead Chambers.
Russia's third seed Anastasia Prokopenko and Dutch fifth seed Judith Meulendijks are two players also capable of making their mark on the women's singles, whilst Scotland’s Commonwealth Youth Games bronze medallist Kirsty Gilmour opens up against Japan’s Kusuhose Yuka.
In the women's doubles Mariana Agathangelou and Heather Olver will be out to improve on last year's runners-up spot. Agathangelou won the 2008 title with Scotland's Jillie Cooper and her main threat next week with Olver will be Sweden's second seeds Emelie Lennartsson and Emma Wengberg, who were runners-up in 2008. Both pairs start with first-round byes. One outside pair to watch for is the Anglo-Malaysian partnership of Sara Milne and Anita Rauj Kaur, who start against England's Hayley Rogers and Helena Lewczynska.
In the mixed doubles Poland's Wojciech Szkudlarczyk and Agnieszka Wojtkowska are the pair to beat and they open up against Scotland’s Jakob van den Berg and Fiona Bain, while Scotland fans will be eager to see Watson Briggs back in action after his absence from the game. He partners Cooper in a first-round clash with France's Sylvain Grosjean and Emilie Lefel.
Switzerland's Anthony Dumartheray and Sabrina Jaquet are the second seeds and open their title bid against Sam Dobson and Emily Westwood in an event won last year by Scotland's Imogen Bankier and England's Chris Adcock when the Anglo-Scottish pair lifted their first title together.
Anne Smillie, Chief Executive of BADMINTONscotland, said today: "The draw has been quite tough on Scotland players but that's only to be expected in this Olympic qualifying period and with so many players from all over the world chasing vital ranking points in the race to qualify.
"Certainly the opening-round contest involving Paul, Jamie and Keith will give fans something to shout about once the main draw gets under way."
Qualifying rounds in men's singles and doubles and mixed doubles start the third oldest tournament in world badminton next Wednesday (from 12 noon) with first-round action getting under way at 10am next Thursday. There is a full day's play on the Thursday and Friday with morning quarter-finals and afternoon semi-finals on the Saturday. The five finals on the Sunday commence at 1pm.

Federer drawn with Nadal in World Tour final

(Reuters) - Old foes Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer will meet in the group stage of the ATP World Tour finals starting in London Sunday while world number one Novak Djokovic will clash with number three Andy Murray.
The round-robin competition which ends the men's tennis season is made up of two groups of four with the top two from each pool going through to the semi-finals.
Defending champion Federer has not won a grand slam singles title this year for the first time since 2002 but has bounced back to form with triumphs in his last two tournaments including last week's Paris Masters.
"Anyone can beat anyone," said Federer before the draw ceremony in London.
"I'm really looking forward to it. It's a strong year."
Nadal and Federer are joined in Group B by Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who beat Federer in this year's Wimbledon quarter-finals but lost to the Swiss in Sunday's Paris final.
American Mardy Fish completes the pool despite being troubled with a hamstring strain.
Spaniard Nadal, who beat long-time rival Federer in the French Open final in June, missed the Paris Masters in order to focus on the World Tour finals -- which includes the eight best players this year.
Djokovic, who has enjoyed a scorching year including winning the Australian Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open, also pulled out of the Paris Masters because of a sore shoulder but should be fit for the week-long London showpiece.
The Serbian has been drawn in Group A alongside Briton Murray, Spaniard David Ferrer and Czech Tomas Berdych.
Murray's 17-match winning streak was ended by Berdych in the Paris quarter-finals last week.
Tsonga will face Federer for the seventh time this year but is looking forward to the challenge.
"Obviously it couldn't be an easy draw but it's a very good group for me, I'll be playing against Roger once again," the Frenchman told a news conference in Paris.
"I'll play Rafa on a (hardcourt) surface that suits me really well and I'll be expecting to beat Mardy Fish. Having played there three years ago will help me because I won't be looking around telling myself 'oh it's great to be here'. I'm not going there just to participate."

Tennis Star Anna Kournikova Will Not Return to NBC's THE BIGGEST LOSER

According to the Hollywood Reporter, tennis great Anna Kournikova, currently appearing as a trainer on Season 12 of NBC's THE BIGGEST LOSER, will not be returning to the show for another season. Kournikova replaced trainer Jillian Michael this season as one of the coaches of the popular weight loss competition. 
Contestants and members of the staff of the NBC show reportedly clashed with the professional athlete throughout the filming. Kournikova appeared to lack the sympathetic, soft qualities that Michael had brought to the competition and often scolded contestants when they complained about her harsh training techniques. According to one source involved in the show, the tennis great was "a nightmare".
In a statement to the Hollywood Reporter, Kournilova said,  "I enjoyed my time on the Biggest Loser ranch. Although I will not be returning as a full time trainer on season 13, I will always be a part of The Biggest Loser family and my commitment to bettering lives through health and fitness will continue."

Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: UK @ KU in Madison Square Garden -- Hyped Yet?

 So, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, are you hyped for the Kentucky Wildcats @ Kansas Jayhawks game tonight?  I sure hope so, because if you can't get up for this one, you may want to call 9-1-1.  On the other hand, maybe your nearest funeral home might be better.
This is Kentucky's first real test of the season after playing three vastly overmatched teams in two exhibitions and one regular-season contest.  The talent and size deficit in favor of Kentucky, not to mention the friendly confines of Rupp Arena, were all major factors.  That makes for a comfortable situation.
But Madison Square Garden tonight will be far less friendly, and with all the Duke fans holding over from the first game likely to be pulling for Kansas, this game will take on much more of a road-game flavor than a neutral site.  Bill Self brings in a talented and experienced basketball team, and that gives him at least one significant advantage -- he will have been able to install more of his offense and defense by now compared to John Calipari, because his starters are all returnees from last year.
Kentucky has a solid record against the Jayhawks historically, currently standing at 19-6 in favor of Kentucky. But the Jayhawks have been victorious in the last three games between the two schools, including an embarrassing 73-46 blowout back in 2006.  The most recent game was in the NCAA tournament back in 2007, a game that despite the 88-76 score, was not really that competitive.
But times have changed since 2007.  Two coaching changes and a complete program makeover have occurred in Lexington, and the last three years have seen Kentucky rise from the ashes of the Billy Gillispie disaster back to its rightful, historical place as a national powerhouse.  Kansas, meantime, has never left the big stage, hanging around the top ten since the teams last met.
This is a redemption game for Kentucky, very similar to the 2009 game against North Carolina.  Kentucky came into that particular contest having lost five in a row to the Tar Heels.  The victory at Rupp Arena ended that miserable streak, and I think most UK fans would just as soon not have a streak that long develop against the Jayhawks.  So tonight is not only a real test for the basketball team, but a particularly meaningful game for Big Blue history fans.
The real test for tonight will be how well this team can defend the talented Jayhawks.  I am not overly concerned about offense -- this team has seemingly endless scoring options both inside and out.  But defeating the Jayhawks will require a strong defensive effort that was mostly lacking in the early-season efforts of the last two Calipari-coached teams.
This game reminds me of the Connecticut Huskies game last year.  The Huskies were known to be talented, but everybody figured UK would win that game.  We all saw how that worked out, and this one has the potential to be the same kind of disappointment primarily because Calipari simply hasn't had time to install much of his defense yet, and the offensive execution, while brilliant at times, has been awkward and inefficient at others.
Not only that, but Kansas has the kind of players that can actually get Kentucky in some foul trouble, and that's another type of adversity that the 'Cats have not faced all year.  Marquis Teague in particular is vulnerable to this, and against Marist, he managed to pick up four fouls against a far less talented opponent.  That should be cause for concern among the UK braintrust.
With all that said, this is a great pre-season contest against a worthy, blue-blood opponent, and frankly, we owe Kansas one.  It's time to go in there and get it.

FGCU men's basketball coach's debut a close success

FGCU guard Brett Comer drives to the basket against Ave Maria during second period play on Monday at Alico Arena. The Eagles won the game 79-65.
FGCU guard Brett Comer drives to the basket against Ave Maria during second period play on Monday at Alico Arena. The Eagles won the game 79-65. / Kinfay Moroti/

A couple of fans welcomed Andy Enfield in his first regular-season home game with cutouts of the FGCU men’s basketball coach’s head Monday night during its game against Ave Maria.
While a big head of Enfield drew chuckles from fans — as well as the coach himself — one can be sure that the Eagles’ players won’t have big heads after their 79-65 win at Alico Arena.
The Eagles saw double-digit leads cut to single digits in each half. Enfield blistered his players — “It can’t be repeated” — after they led their NAIA level opponent just 31-27 at halftime.
They responded with a 27-10 start in the second half that put them up 58-37. However, Ave Maria drew within 70-62 before the Eagles built the margin back up.
“That’s a sign of immaturity and being a young team,” Enfield said of the lost leads. “We had a 21-point lead, then you look up three minutes later and it’s 10 points. That’s immaturity and inexperience.”
Enfield said there were problems on both offense and defense. He counted taking seven contested 3-pointers in the first half while he said the Eagles allowed the Gyrenes to penetrate too much, which led to their 11 makes on treys.
“I didn’t think any of our players played a great game,” he said. “Not up to their potential. I’m happy we won. I give Ave Maria a lot of credit. They were the reason none of our guys played well.
“We also have to learn what is a good shot and what not is a good shot.”
Sherwood Brown had 19 points and six rebounds. Brett Comer added 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Christophe Varidel added 11 points and Bernard Thompson 10.
“We got a really good team and there’s a lot of upside for the rest of the season,” said Brown, who said Enfield has worked with him on his follow through on shots. “We’re a little disappointed in (giving up the 21-point lead) but basketball is a game of spurts.”
After shooting better than 61 percent against TCU in a 73-72 loss on the road Friday, the Eagles struggled to find the range early and trailed 6-4 for nearly the first six minutes.
FGCU took the lead for good, 7-6, on Brown’s 3-pointer with 14:11 to go in the first half.
A tip-in by Bishop Verot graduate Eddie Murray, a Comer layup and a 3-pointer by Varidel helped the Eagles go up 28-18.
However, Ave Maria hung tough and when Daniel Vivas hit two free throws, the Gyrenes trailed just 31-27 at halftime. In the last 1.9 seconds center Kevin Cantinol picked up his third foul.
Ave Maria scored first to open the second half but the Eagles went on an 8-0 run to go back up by 10, 39-29.
A couple of 3-pointers by Kiel Lewis closed it to 41-35.
However, FGCU started to warm up and went on a 17-2 run. Brown had a rebound hoop and a trey. Dante Holmes hit a 3-pointer. Comer and Cantinol had layups. Varidel nailed another 3.
The margin grew to 58-37. The win was safe.

2011-12 Kent State men's basketball preview

Rob Senderoff doesn’t plan on allowing himself the pleasure of looking around for even a few seconds to breathe in the atmosphere of his first game as a Division I head men’s basketball coach.
If he did, he may have a hard time imagining a better way to start — his Kent State team taking on West Virginia on national television as part of ESPN’s 24-hour Tip-Off Marathon.
A few feet away from Senderoff’s seat, legendary color man Bill Raftery will talk about the Flashes’ defense with his familiar “starting out in man-to-man” call. 
And on the opposite bench, that will be Hall of Fame coach Bob Huggins standing there.
This will be a whole world away from opening up against North Carolina Central, as Geno Ford did in his KSU coaching debut in 2008, or Urbana — the team Jim Christian mollywhopped by 60 points in his first game on the Flashes’ sidelines back in 2002.
But who wants that cakewalk? If you want to realize a lifelong dream to take on the pressure-cooker job of a Division I head coach, why not throw yourself right into the fire?
“I actually think I’ll look around and say, ‘Wow this is pretty cool,’ but for our guys,” said Senderoff, thinking of seniors Justin Greene, Michael Porrini, Carlton Guyton and Justin Manns. “It’s cool for them to start their senior year on national TV against West Virginia. I think it’s pretty cool for the guys, not for Rob Senderoff. You think about all of the work they’ve put in their entire life. 
“This is their last year and we do have a team that came off of a lot of wins last season. To get a chance to play one of the premier teams in the Big East year in and year out on the first day ESPN is doing their whole deal, that’s special for them.”
Senderoff may be cutting his teeth as a head coach, but he’ll do it with a roster of players that should not be overwhelmed by the big-game atmosphere and the ESPN cameras. 
For most of the Flashes, this game is basically an extension of last season when they made a run to the NIT by beating Saint Mary’s and Fairfield on the road before nearly upsetting Colorado in the quarterfinals. All of those games were televised by the “Worldwide Leader in Sports.”
This team may even be prepared for the unusual 10 a.m. start considering it opened the 2010-11 season by playing Robert Morris in a morning game as part of last year’s ESPN marathon. 
But are the Flashes ready for West Virginia? 
“We are going to find out,” said Senderoff. “This is a pretty good first test.”
The Flashes have high expectations for 2011-12. Their experienced roster has been buoyed by a promising recruiting class that includes junior-college All-American Chris Evans.
And while West Virginia may be a traditional Big East power, this year’s Mountaineers are in a bit of a rebuilding phase with two freshman starters and a total of five first-year players in their eight-man rotation. Even the ninth and 10th men on Huggins’ roster are freshmen.
Of course, the Mountaineers’ three lone veterans — senior power forward Kevin Jones, burly 260-pound junior center Deniz Kilicli and senior shooting guard Darryl Bryant — are among the best the Flashes will face all season. 
West Virginia’s strength is in its bigs. Both the 6-foot-8 Jones and the 6-9 Kilicli are dangerous around the basket. They can also step out on the perimeter and hit open shots — Kilicli with range to 17 feet and Jones capable of stepping out to the arc.
The Flashes can counter with some size of their own. Greene is still KSU’s go-to man in the post after averaging 15.4 points per game last season. The 6-8 forward has a stronger cast of supporting characters to turn to when the Flashes decide to play inside-out. After a year in the spotlight, Greene should be even more prepared to be the focal point of opposing defenses.
Senderoff is also expecting bigger things from the 6-11 Manns, who won the starting job next to Greene with his work in practice during the last two weeks. Manns is rebounding and defending better than ever, according to the coach, and he could be a key to this morning’s upset hopes.
In all, the Flashes return nine players from last year’s 25-win team, including four starters, the MAC’s Player of the Year in Greene, the Defensive Player of the Year in Porrini at point guard, and the Sixth Man of the Year in Guyton, who now starts on the wing. The Flashes have enough experience to expect to at least play with the Mountaineers. And at best they would love to follow Akron’s win over Mississippi State last week and Cleveland State’s win over Vanderbilt by adding to Northeast Ohio’s string of road wins to open the new season.
“Our guys won’t be intimidated, I don’t think,” said Senderoff. “If West Virginia beats us, it’s going to be because West Virginia played better than us, not because we were overwhelmed with the moment or the atmosphere.”
Senderoff expects to open the season with Michael Porrini starting at the point, Randal Holt at the two, Carlton Guyton at the three, Justin Greene at the four and Justin Manns at the five.
But Eric Gaines and Chris Evans could end up playing starter-type minutes as the first two off the bench at the start of the year.
“With the way Eric Gaines and Chris Evans have played in practice and in the scrimmages and exhibitions, I’m not going to say we have seven starters necessarily, but those two guys are certainly worthy of starting,” said Senderoff. “I would expect them to play major minutes, and then there is the next group of Marc (Henniger), Pat (Jackson), Dev (Manley) Kris (Brewer) who is coming back from injury and Scooter (Johnson) who is also coming back from injury. The two who are coming back from injury have to work their way back.”

Florida Gators basketball team gets tough early test tonight against Ohio State

GAINESVILLE — There are still two games remaining in the regular football season, but the big game for the Florida Gators this week is taking place on a hardwood court.
Coach Billy Donovan is taking his eighth-ranked team to Columbus, Ohio, to face No. 3 Ohio State tonight (8, ESPN2, 620-AM). It is a rematch of last year's game which the Buckeyes won 93-75 in the O'Dome, and the Gators' first road test of the season.
"I feel like there's a level of excitement going there to play Ohio State," Donovan said Monday. "For players, I don't know if they necessarily look at it as an opportunity to grow as maybe coaches do, in terms of what we really need to address. But I do think that they like the fact they are playing against a really good team, that they have a lot of respect for, that they know is really, really good. A team that they played last year, and I think got a first-hand glimpse of how good they were. Now we're having to go there and play, and I think there's a level of excitement and enthusiasm in playing a game like this."
Several years ago at the urging of SEC commissioner Mike Slive, Donovan and other league coaches began to beef up their non-conference schedule to bolster postseason resumes come tournament time. But just playing the games isn't enough. Donovan said winning and growing from the higher level of competition is imperative. Otherwise you're just a demoralized team with a lot of losses against tough opponents.
ROBERSON OUT: Freshman CB Marcus Roberson will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a neck injury in the loss to South Carolina. Coach Will Muschamp said Roberson should be able to return in the spring. Roberson played in 10 games this season and had 22 tackles (17 unassisted) and one interception.
"We're still evaluating him, but our medical staff has informed me that he will be out,'' Muschamp said. "It's nothing that's going to be permanent. He'll be fine in four to six weeks. He strained his neck there, and they're just taking precautionary measure, obviously, with something like that. He'll be fine."
Also on the injury front: OT Chaz Green (ankle) is probable this week. Muschamp said the Gators had hoped to have him back last week but his ankle began swelling Thursday and he couldn't go. DE Lerentee McCray (shoulder) is also probable.
LETTING GO: For Florida QB John Brantley, Saturday's five-point loss to South Carolina was hard to accept. Brantley described the plane ride home from Columbia, S.C., as "very quiet" and "a real, long tough flight." The hardest part was trying not to replay the game in his head.
"Saturday night I was definitely sitting around trying to figure out what went wrong and everything and there's a bunch of what-ifs?" Brantley said. "But the game's over with and there's nothing you can do now. All you can do is move on and move forward and get better."
The Gators will attempt to do just that against Furman on Saturday at 1 p.m.
DID YOU KNOW: The football team has five wins this season, and those victories have come against teams with a combined 15-34 record; none of the opponents has a record above .500. On the flip side, its losses have been against legitimate teams that are a combined 41-9.

Washington Nationals' baseball player Wilson Ramos rescued from kidnappers

Washington Nationals' baseball player Wilson Ramos rescued from kidnappers
Wilson Ramos is greeted by an unidentified friend at police headquarters in Valencia, Venezuela
(Credit: AP Photo/Lexander Loiza)
(CBS/AP) CARACAS, Venezuela - Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos has been rescued from kidnappers after Venezuelan police swooped in to save him in a flurry of gunfire and arrested five alleged abductors.
The 24-year-old said he was happy and thankful to be alive, and that the final moments had been hair-raising as police and the kidnappers exchanged heavy fire in the remote mountainous area where he was being held.
"The truth is I'm still very nervous, but thanks to God, everything turned out well," Ramos told Venezuelan state television, speaking by telephone after arriving at a police station in his hometown of Valencia early Saturday.
He thanked the police and National Guard commandos who rescued him, saying "the boys did a great job."
Ramos had not been seen or heard from since he was seized at gunpoint outside his home Wednesday night and whisked away in an SUV. It was the first known kidnapping of a Major League Baseball player in Venezuela, and the abduction set off an outpouring of candlelight vigils and public prayers at stadiums as well as outside Ramos' home.
Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami announced on Friday night that Ramos was "safe and sound" after the rescue. He didn't say whether anyone had been wounded in the gunfire.
Five men were arrested in the kidnapping, including a Colombian "linked to paramilitary groups and to kidnapping groups," El Aissami said.
"Three guys grabbed me there in front of my house," Ramos said. "...they took me to another SUV and from there they took me into the mountains," in central Carabobo state.
He said his abductors spoke little to him. "They simply told me to cooperate, that they were going to ask for a ton of cash for me."

Henk Lindeque lifts the lid on the secret life of a cricket master Peter Roebuck

Caned by Peter Roebuck ... Henk Lindeque (inset). Picture: The Daily Telegraph

A MAN who was caned on the buttocks by Peter Roebuck has described the turbulent year he spent being coached by the former first class cricketer and respected journalist.
South African Henk Lindeque, speaking in Cape Town just days after Roebuck threw himself from a window while being questioned by police over an alleged sexual assault, said his former coach had "a brilliant mind" but "a different way of communicating".
Mr Lindeque, now 31, was in the UK with Taunton cricket club when the incident occurred in 1999. Roebuck received a suspended jail sentence in 2001 for common assault after pleading guilty to caning Lindeque and his South African teammates Keith Whiting and Reginald Keats, The Daily Telegraph reported.

"He had a few canes, some were a fair piece of willow if you can call it that," Mr Lindeque said yesterday.
"He hit me through my shorts and it hurt a hell of a lot.
"After he caned me, he wanted to have a look at the markings and that wasn't something I approved of and that's why I never had any contact with him after that. It was really sore. He said, 'Don't be shy, let's have a look'. I pulled off a bit (of his shorts) to one side and he said, 'No, c'mon, don't be shy' and I pulled my shorts down very briefly."
He recalled how on another occasion Roebuck encroached on his "personal space".
"One day, I was sitting on the couch at Peter's house, watching cricket on a Sunday afternoon," he said.
"He sat down and put his arm around me. I turned around to him and said, 'Listen Peter, I do like my personal space and I don't like this'. I moved away quickly and sat on the ground. That's the only time I felt he made a sort of advance on me.
"In the back of my mind it was something that stuck with me (that Roebuck might be gay).
"It was a possibility, but he never came out, so how are we to know? He was eccentric. I wouldn't say he was harsh or indifferent, but he had a different way of communicating.
"He did warn us he had hard ways and in many senses that's not a bad way to look at life, especially in cricket."
Mr Lindeque said he held no ill will toward Roebuck and was saddened to hear of his death.

Former Kent Director of Cricket Paul Farbrace joins Yorkshire as second team coach

Paul Farbraceby Mirza Iqbal Baig
Kent’s former director of cricket, Paul Farbrace, has been confirmed as the new second-team coach at Yorkshire.
Farbrace resigned in September after two difficult years with Kent which saw the club relegated from LV= County Championship Division One, followed by a second-bottom finish in Division Two last season.
The 44-year-old has now taken up a role in a new-look Yorkshire coaching set-up which includes the appointment of former Australian fast bowler Jason Gillespie as first-team coach.
Farbrace (pictured) will also work with the county’s wicketkeepers as part of his role with the club’s second-team.
He said: "It’s a great move for me. I know a lot about Yorkshire cricket, a lot about the players and I know there’s a lot of history and tradition associated with the club, so for me it’s an absolutely fantastic move.
"I’m excited by the club in so many ways. It doesn’t matter whether you’re coaching the first-team or second team – it’s coaching cricketers and that’s what I enjoy most and I’m really looking forward to getting started now."
Yorkshire’s director of cricket, Martyn Moxon, said: "Someone from outside of Yorkshire is always a good thing I think. He’ll give a different perspective on things and Paul has vast experience of coaching at all levels and has coached at Academy, second XI and first XI level and with Sri Lanka.
"His wicketkeeping skills are something we haven’t had a lot of in recent times, so Paul brings the whole package and he’s a good guy as well so I’m sure he will be a good addition to the staff and hopefully the players will thrive under him."
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