Glinda McPherson died January 16th at the age of 70 in Roswell, NM. She was born on October, 16 1947 to Nellie and Logan West. She was the youngest of 6 children. She married Gene McPherson on November 19, 1964. They were married for 53 years. Glenda was proceeded in death by her parents and also her siblings; Steven West, Lewis West, Bobby West, Marvin West, and twin sister Linda Lance. All are now together forever. She is survived by her loving husband, 3 daughters, brother-in-law, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Glinda McPherson requested there be no service and wanted to be remembered in a moment of silence and a smile.
Senior Circle hosts Commission on Aging
The Commission on Aging will meet at 3 p.m. Thursday. Britt Snyder, Chaves County sheriff, will be a special guest speaker. Bring your questions for him. Senior Circle is in the Wilshire Center, 2801 N. Main St., next door to Family Dollar.
Donut run for Roswell’s youth
The Sunrise Optimist Club of Roswell is planning a Krispy Kreme Doughnut Run fundraiser. The money earned will go toward the many youth projects that the club does throughout the year. You can order your dozen donuts, chocolate or glazed, for $10 by contacting one of the Sunrise Optimist Club members by Feb. 4. You can also mail your $10 check with your name and address where you want them delivered to 3205 N. Washington Ave. Checks must be received by Feb. 4. The donuts will be picked up in Lubbock and delivered the morning of Feb. 9. That is about as fresh as you can get them.
If you have any questions, call President Pat Burnett at 575-420-9421.
The Books Again! store run by the Friends of the Library will have extended hours during First Friday on Feb. 2, staying open until 8 p.m.
It’s a great chance to visit local businesses and partake of the $5 Bag Sale to pick up some new titles for your collection. The book store is located at 200 W. Second St. and can be contacted at 575-627-6179. The store hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can contact the library by calling 575-622-7101, visiting us at 301 N. Pennsylvania Ave. or the website at roswell-nm.gov.
Book Talk by Bianca Cheney
The United States is a great country and regardless of your political standings and opinions we all hopefully agree that the president of the United States deserves to have personal protection while in office. The Secret Service was created in 1865 to combat widespread currency counterfeiting after the Civil War and added protecting the president to its job description in 1902. Two presidents were assassinated in office — James Garfield in 1881 and William McKinley in 1901 — before personal protection was provided. The Secret Service, like most organizations, has evolved over the years adding protection to the president-elect (1908), vice president (1951), former presidents (1962); widow and minor children of a former president (1968); major presidential and vice-presidential candidates (1968), and visiting heads of a foreign state or government (1971). Since the Secret Service has been protecting the president of the United States, there have been no assassinations — only failed attempts and plots that were broken up before they could be acted upon.
Dan Emmet’s nonfiction book, “I Am a Secret Service Agent” was easy to read, very informative and humorous. Dan writes about how he made his life-changing decision when he was 8 years old as he watched the news on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. One particular image on television made him want to be “worthy of trust and confidence” — a secret service agent. Throughout school, this was always his goal — getting good grades, learning about (and using) all types of weapons and working out. The preparation and testing to be part of the Secret Service organization is very rigorous and if just one test is failed, the candidate is dropped from the program. Dan started out investigating financial crimes against the government and kept doing the best he could and was eventually made part of the personal protection detail and served during three presidents’ terms.
He tells stories of running through the streets of Washington with President Clinton — who wanted to exercise among the people; of being ready to shoot a motorcycle driver getting too close to the motorcade; of traveling the world (typically not in good circumstances); of driving the presidential limousine; and of giving up personal time with family to be on duty at a moment’s notice. Dan achieved the honor of being the best of the best and earned his right to protect the president over many other candidates. It’s a tough job!
Another long-time secret service agent, Clint Hill, wrote about his experiences in the book, “Five Presidents.” He tells of his day-to-day interactions with the president and his family and of the crowds of people he was trained to keep away from the president. It’s a very thorough work and includes many details of the lives of the most important people in the U.S. Mr. Hill served for 17 years from 1958-1975, during many major changes in our history.
Democrats and Republicans are blaming each other for the government shutdown, and they’re both right.
The reason for this silly game lies in the Senate where 60 votes are needed to pass most legislation. Senate rules are arbitrary, unnecessary and the main reason little gets done. There are 300 House bills awaiting Senate action; pretty much how it’s always been.
President Trump ran for office because he sensed this frustration in the 60 million deplorables who elected him. Before the vote, he tweeted, “Now Democrats are needed if it is to pass in the Senate, but they want illegal immigration and weak borders. Shutdown coming?” After the shutdown, he said the nuclear option (less than 60 votes) is needed to pass any legislation. That’s how Neil Gorsuch was put on the Supreme Court.
Democrats play the “bipartisan game” — getting likeminded Republicans to give them what they want, which is unfettered immigration. Deplorables want the Senate to do away with the filibuster rule or work 24/7 until they act on all pending bills.
President Trump promised to jumpstart our economy to create jobs — accomplished. He was also elected to fix our broken immigration system and drain the swamp. By a big margin, Americans want to end chain migration and visa lottery, limit legal immigration, and end illegal immigration by mandating employers use e-verify. We’re also willing to legalize the status of Dreamers so they can stay in our country.
Democrats use Dreamers as political pawns. Another game they play is “give and take” where they vote for something but don’t appropriate the money. Democrats voted to build a wall, so make them pay for it. As for Republicans, tell them to fix immigration and drain the swamp or be replaced.
A stopgap measure was passed keeping the government open until Feb. 8. This agreement says the fate of Dreamers will be considered — not guaranteed —next month. The president has already said he’ll not sign any Dreamer legislation without everything contained in this letter, minus e-verify, which beats having ICE raid businesses. It would also punish police, politicians and judges when citizens are harmed by illegal aliens they free from custody or protect from deportation.
If Democrats shut down government again, will you vote for them?
Respectfully your knuckle-dragging, Bible-banging, flag-waving neighbor.
The Jan. 12 edition of the RDR had a letter, “Wealth inequality …” The writer insists the recent tax cuts will be detrimental to the country.
I have asked that writer to give sources for his statements, and he replied, “… I see no reason to give sources for any data, which should be common knowledge to anyone who reads a single news source.” He then tells me my sources are suspect without giving any explanation why he so believes.
The writer has previously stated, “His (Trump’s) collusion with the Russian government should qualify him for a lengthy prison sentence.” If that writer had been paying attention to the news, he would know that the Mueller Investigation has found no evidence of the alleged Russian collusion by Donald Trump.
Remember when our drone was hijacked by Iran? Then-president Obama was presented options to destroy the vehicle. He said, “We’ll ask for it back and see what happens.” Predictably, Iran kept the machine. Mr. Obama intentionally gave top-secret drone technology to Iran. What would be an appropriate penalty for such an act?
Barrack Obama increased our national debt by $7.5 trillion, more than any other president in history. It does not seem to be a problem to that writer.
The writer insisted he has no issues with the wealthy, yet he proclaims, “When the wealth becomes largely concentrated at the top, our economy collapses.” He needs to explain why he believes this to be true and what remedy he suggests. As I pointed out previously, we have always had rich and poor.
Even if, as that writer insists, (where did he get this story?), “80 percent (of the tax cuts) go to the top 1 percent,” it would be better than no tax cuts at all. A common misunderstanding of our economic system is that when wealthy people obtain money, it goes into some sort of “black hole” and is never seen again. The fact is that money goes into banks where it is loaned out, or it is invested into other enterprises that generate jobs. They spend money on goods and services, which also creates jobs.
I probably will not answer any more of this person’s letters, as it is something like arguing with a child: “Is too.”
“Is not. My sources are better than yours.” I even have to wonder if his letters are worth answering.
Russell A. Scott
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Steve Wilks took over as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals saying he was humbled by the job but exhibiting an abundance of confidence that he can do it well.
The 48-year-old coach, promoted after just one season as defensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers, was introduced at a news conference Tuesday, bringing a reputation of connecting easily with his players as he replaces Bruce Arians, who retired after five colorful seasons and 50 victories in Arizona.
“We found a great leader,” Cardinals President Michael Bidwill said, “and not just a leader with a high football IQ but also a high football ‘EQ’ (emotional quotient). He doesn’t just coach football players, he coaches people.”
Wilks, who gets a four-year contract with a team option for a fifth, described his coaching style as “very passionate, persistent and very positive.”
“I’m going to tell you right now,” Wilks said, looking at Bidwill and general manager Steve Keim, “you guys made the right decision.”
In a later interview, Wilks said, “It’s hard to blend in when you’re born to stand tall.”
Bidwill said he heard nothing but good things about Wilks from his former players, many of them unsolicited.
“I know what he brings to the table. I know what they’re getting,” Washington Redskins and ex-Panthers cornerback Josh Norman said in a statement provided by the Cardinals. “At the end of the day, I came from pretty much nothing to rise up to where I’m at today and he was the catalyst behind that. Position coach all the way up to the ranks of a D-coordinator for a year, and then making it now to a head coaching job; it’s crazy how that trend came for him. The conversations we have are just so enlightening. He’s a leader of men and that’s what it all boils down to.”
Keim was asked what separated Wilks from the other eight candidates interviewed for the job.
“You can become a better coach through experience,” Keim said. “But to have leadership, to me, there’s an innate part of that. And when you get to know Steve Wilks, you can tell that he has that innate leadership skill that very few people have.”
There was nary a mention of Arians at the news conference. Instead, the new coach, who gained the nickname “Denzel” back in Carolina due to his resemblance to a certain actor, provided a vision for the foundation of the franchise, while acknowledging “the elephant in the room.”
“This is not a rebuild, this is a retool,” Wilks said. “I think we have the pieces in place, when you look at both sides of the ball. There’s a question mark right now and we all know it, the elephant in the room. We don’t have a quarterback.”
This in a division that includes Jared Goff, Russell Wilson and Jimmy Garoppolo.
Keim insisted that lack of a quarterback was not a hindrance in the coaching search.
“We looked at it as a positive,” Keim said, “As Michael and I talked to the candidates, it’s ‘You really have a blank canvas. You really have an opportunity to be a part of setting us up for the future at that position.”
Asked which was harder, finding a coach or a quarterback, Keim didn’t hesitate. “A quarterback,” he said.
“We’re going to be aggressive in the process and there’s going to be a number of different options,” Keim said, “whether it’s free agency, whether it’s a trade option or whether it’s the draft, or all three.”
While all of Wilks’ 23-year coaching career (11 college, 12 NFL) are on the defensive side. He will inherit the makings of a strong defense in Arizona, anchored by the likes of NFL sack leader Chandler Jones and perennial Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson.
But the big questions are on offense, and Wilks gave no hint as to who his offensive coordinator will be. He said he wanted his staff in place by the Super Bowl and did not rule out retaining members of the previous one.
He said he’d talked with wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald on the phone but doesn’t know if the star wide receiver will return for a 15th NFL season.
One of Wilks’ biggest smiles came when he talked about the return of running back David Johnson, who was lost for the season when he broke a wrist in the opener.
The Cardinals will, the new coach assured, run the ball.
Wilks’ wife, Marci, two young daughters and an even younger son watched the news conference from the front row then joined him onstage for photos.
MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen are getting plenty of looks from the pros this week.
Mayfield, college football’s top player, and Allen, a potential No. 1 overall draft pick, are competing at the Senior Bowl’s North practices in front of NFL coaches, scouts and executives.
“Hopefully we can come out and compete and push each other these next four or five days,” Allen, a Wyoming quarterback, said before Tuesday’s first practice.
They hadn’t actually met before that afternoon since Mayfield was a late arrival. He had flown home to Austin, Texas to be with his mother, who he said is “not doing too great.”
Scheduled to arrive Sunday, the Oklahoma Heisman Trophy winner got to Mobile about two hours before the start of practice, missing media day and the official weigh-in. The playbook was emailed to the Heisman Trophy winner so he could study it before arriving.
Mayfield knows he’ll have to answer questions from NFL teams about behavior during a college career that left Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley calling him one of the best collegiate quarterbacks ever.
He said the most important thing this week is to show “the type of guy I am.”
“Everybody wants to portray the bad boy, the Johnny Manziel stuff,” Mayfield said. “But I love the game of football, there’s no doubt about that. I’m an emotional player. I’ll do whatever it takes to win. I love being around my teammates and I love leading them, having the responsibility.”
Decorated on the field, Mayfield did have some non-playing issues.
He reached a plea deal after an arrest on public intoxication charges during the last offseason. Mayfield also drew criticism for planting a flag on the field after a victory over Ohio State and making an obscene gesture toward opponents during a lopsided victory at Kansas.
Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage said NFL teams wanted to see him do things like work out of a huddle and go under center.
“And then off the field for Baker, we all have a perception of what he’s like through the media in this past year so now he gets a chance to address and really tackle who he is as a person, what he represents, how he will fit into a locker room,” said Savage, a former NFL general manager.
As for Allen, Savage said, “everyone knows he’s got the arm talent. They want to see the accuracy on the field and then get to know him better off the field.”
Allen is widely considered one of the candidates for No. 1 overall pick, along with other quarterbacks such as USC’s Sam Darnold and UCLA’s Josh Rosen. He has the measurables, coming in at a shade under 6-foot-5 and 237 pounds at Tuesday’s weigh-in.
Allen opted to return for the 2017 season partly with the advice of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, who played in the same offense under current Wyoming coach Craig Bohl at North Dakota State before also competing in the Senior Bowl.
Wentz’s counsel was that “you’re stepping into a locker room with 30-year-old guys and if you’re not mentally, ready it’s just going to eat you alive.”
Allen decided he wasn’t ready but feels he is now as a fourth-year junior. He said he wanted to graduate early in part so he’d be eligible for the Senior Bowl, knowing that NFL types would value seeing him compete against more elite competition.
Allen’s numbers dipped as a fourth-year junior after many of Wyoming’s other offensive playmakers left. He completed a modest 56.3 percent of his passes for 1,812 yards and 16 touchdowns with six interceptions.
That left him wanting to prove that he’s “way more accurate than that shows.”
His big goal for the week, he said: “Prove that I can belong.”
“There’s a lot of skepticism about what type of player I am and where I come from at the University of Wyoming,” Allen said. “Getting out here, playing with the best of the best and showing that I can make all the throws and understand offenses in the NFL. That’s the main reason I’m here.”
Allen is promising enough that Denver Broncos executive and Hall of Famer John Elway took in his bowl game, a big deal even for a guy who’s drawn so much interest from NFL teams. The Broncos coaching staff is leading the North team this week.
“You kind of try to not treat it as a distraction,” Allen said. “When you look over and see a guy like John Elway on the sideline, it’s hard not to get excited.”
Likewise, the Broncos requested that Mayfield be on the North team.
“If John Elway asks you to be on his team, you don’t say no,” he said.
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — LeBron James became the youngest player ever with 30,000 career points, but LaMarcus Aldridge scored 30 points to lift the San Antonio Spurs over the slumping Cleveland Cavaliers 114-102 on Tuesday night.
James had 28 points while becoming the seventh member of the 30,000-point club, yet he couldn’t keep the Cavaliers from dropping their 10th in 13 games.
Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray — friend and mentee of James — had 19 points, 10 rebounds and seven steals in his second start since replacing a healthy Tony Parker. Murray soared for a tip follow and then rose to disrupt James’ driving layup, which led to a 3-pointer by Danny Green that gave the Spurs a 105-94 lead with 4:20 remaining.
Murray’s effort helped San Antonio push past Cleveland in a battle between teams entangled in turmoil.
The Spurs denied reports that injured superstar Kawhi Leonard is unhappy with how the team is handling his right quadriceps tendinopathy and wants to be traded.
The Cavaliers, meanwhile, acknowledged reports that they held a team meeting to address Kevin Love’s early exit due to illness from a blowout loss at Oklahoma City and his subsequent absence from the following day’s practice.
Love said the Cavs have a history of thriving on chaos, and they seemed to put the dysfunction aside early as James got the seven points he needed to reach his milestone.
After missing his first two midrange jumpers and a pair of free throws, James made two driving layups and a 20-footer, and then rose above Danny Green for a 19-foot jumper with one second remaining in the first quarter to reach the mark. The shot put Cleveland up 29-25.
At 33 years and 24 days, James is the youngest player to get 30,000. Bryant was 34 years and 104 days when he got there.
Cavaliers: With 30,021 points, James joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387 points), Karl Malone (36,928), Kobe Bryant (33,643), Michael Jordan (32,292), Wilt Chamberlain (31,419) and Dirk Nowitzki (30,808) on the list. … Iman Shumpert returned after missing two months following arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. He played seven minutes Nov. 27 against Philadelphia in his previous appearance. … Cleveland’s bench is averaging a franchise best 41.1 points per game this season. … The Cavs have allowed 100 points in four straight games.
Spurs: Aldridge was named an All-Star reserve. He is the first Spurs player who didn’t play his rookie season in San Antonio to make the All-Star team since Artis Gilmore in 1986. … San Antonio is 38-7 at home against Cleveland. … Pau Gasol did not play after spraining his right wrist against Indiana on Sunday. … The Spurs have had at least one player selected for the All-Star Game in 39 of 41 years, missing out in 1989 and 1997.
Cavaliers: Host Indiana on Friday night.
Spurs: Visit Memphis on Wednesday night.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Eric Paschall scored 17 points to lead No. 1 Villanova to an 89-69 victory against Providence on Tuesday night.
The Wildcats (19-1, 6-1 Big East) placed six players in double figures in their sixth straight win. Omari Spellman scored 16 points and Jalen Brunson finished with 15 on 5-for-15 shooting.
Villanova grabbed control with a 22-2 run on its way to a 39-30 halftime lead.
Rodney Bullock led Providence with 16 points. Jalen Lindsey had 14 points, and Kyron Cartwright had 12 points and six assists.
The Friars (14-7, 5-3) dropped to 1-3 against Top 25 teams this season.
NO. 2 VIRGINIA 61, NO. 18 CLEMSON 36
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Devon Hall scored 14 points, Kyle Guy had 12 and Virginia broke open a close game with a 22-2 run in the second half.
The Cavaliers (19-1, 8-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) allowed their fewest points of the season. They lead the nation in scoring defense.
Gabe DeVoe scored 11 points, all in the first 12 minutes, and was the only player in double figures for the Tigers (16-4, 5-3). They managed just 13 points in the second half.
NO. 12 OKLAHOMA 85, NO. 5 KANSAS 80
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Trae Young had 26 points and nine assists, helping Oklahoma rally for the win.
Young, the nation’s leader in scoring and assists, struggled in losses to Kansas State and Oklahoma State last week. Against Kansas, the freshman point guard made 7 of 9 field goals and 10 of 12 free throws.
Christian James scored 15 points and Brady Manek added 14 for the Sooners (15-4, 5-3 Big 12), who won their 13th straight at home.
Svi Mykhailiuk scored 24 points and Malik Newman added 20 for Kansas (16-4, 6-2), which had won five straight. Devonte’ Graham, Kansas’ leading scorer, finished with 11 points on 4-of-19 shooting.
NO. 14 TEXAS TECH 75, OKLAHOMA STATE 70
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Keenan Evans scored 26 points, and Texas Tech rallied from a 15-point deficit.
Evans hit a 3-pointer with 3:52 left that put the Red Raiders ahead to stay. That came only 40 seconds after his rebound and assist to Jarrett Culver, whose breakaway dunk gave Texas Tech (16-4, 5-3 Big 12) its first lead since the first half.
Culver finished with 25 points, including four 3-pointers. The Red Raiders had lost two in a row.
Jeffrey Carroll had 16 points for Oklahoma State (13-7, 3-5), which was coming off an overtime win over then-No. 4 Oklahoma.
NO. 22 TENNESSEE 67, VANDERBILT 62
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Jordan Bowden scored 19 points, Lamonte’ Turner hit a huge 3-pointer and Tennessee held on for its fifth win in six games.
Tennessee (14-5, 5-3 Southeastern Conference) withstood a brilliant performance from Vanderbilt’s Riley LaChance, who scored each of his 25 points in the second half.
After trailing 41-21 with 14 1/2 minutes left, Vanderbilt (7-13, 2-6) cut Tennessee’s lead to 60-58 when Jeff Roberson made one of two free throws with 1:19 remaining. Turner answered by sinking a 3-pointer with 1:03 left.
Grant Williams had 19 points for Tennessee, two weeks after scoring 37 points in a 92-84 triumph at Vanderbilt. Roberson had 21 points for the Commodores.
NEW YORK (AP) — Edgar Martinez is rocketing up the Hall of Fame ballot, boosted 13 years after his final swing by new-age statistical analyses and campaigning.
His percentage of the vote more than doubled from 2015 to last year, and he is projected to be around the 75 percent needed for election when this year’s voting is announced Wednesday. He could become only the second Hall of Famer who was primarily a designated hitter.
“I think it’s kind of like relief pitchers: Once the first couple started to get in, people had to accept the fact that they’re part of the game now,” said MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby, who voted for Martinez for the first time this year. “You can’t get around them. You can’t ignore it. And so, you have to give them consideration.”
Martinez received 25.2 percent in 2014, when Frank Thomas became the first player elected after spending the majority of his career as DH, a position instituted in 1973. Martinez rose to 27 percent the following year, 43.4 percent in 2016 and 58.6 percent last year. He is on 77.1 percent of the 231 ballots obtained by Ryan Thibodaux and posted on his Hall of Fame vote-tracker.
Chipper Jones, Jim Thome and Vladimir Guerrero are likely to be overwhelming picks, and Trevor Hoffman could get in, too, after a near-miss last year.
Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds are both tracking at 63.6 percent in the sixth ballot appearance for each. That is up about 3-4 percent from their vote-tracker percentage last year, when Clemens finished at 54.1 percent and Bonds at 53.8.
Martinez’s Hall chances have been aided Ryan M. Spaeder, a 28-year-old fan from Virginia who sent statistical analyses to about 250 voters. Martinez is making the ninth of the 10 appearances he is allowed on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot.
“We now have tools to evaluate players that we didn’t have even 10 years ago, and it’s easy now to compare Edgar, not just to other DHs but to other hitters, both of his era and all eras,” former ESPN reporter Jayson Stark said. “He measures up against all of them.”
A seven-time All-Star, Martinez was a designated hitter in 1,412 of 2,055 career regular-season games. During an 18-season big league career spent entirely with Seattle, he won two AL batting titles, earned seven All-Star selections and finished with a .312 average and 309 homers.
Paul Molitor, elected to the Hall in 2004, was a DH in 1,174 of 2,683 games. Thomas DHed in 1,310 of 2,322.
“People are taking a different look about the DH, and they’re looking more about sabermetric numbers and taking into consideration all those numbers and it seems to be helping,” Martinez said last year.
Seattle distributed a 15-page look at his career to potential voters. Spaeder has compared Martinez to Hall of Famers, pointing out an on-base percentage (.418) superior to Stan Musial’s, an OPS (.933) above Frank Robinson’s and a slugging percentage (.515) greater than Willie McCovey’s. His Weighted Runs Above Average led to an additional 54 Mariners wins, Jack Moore pointed out on Fangraphs in 2009. Spaeder said he assisted on Jonah Keri’s campaign for Tim Raines, elected in his final ballot appearance last year after starting at 24.3 percent.
“He invited me to Tim Raines’ Hall of Fame dinner,” Spaeder said.
Jones and Thome would raise to 54 the total of players elected in their first year of eligibility. An eight-time All-Star, Jones won the 1999 NL MVP and the 2008 NL batting title. He batted .303 with 2,726 hits and 468 home runs in 19 seasons with the Atlanta Braves. Thome was a five-time All-Star who hit 612 home runs, eighth on the career list, over 22 seasons.
Hoffman fell five votes short last year, when Jeff Bagwell, Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were elected. Hoffman is making his third appearances and is bidding to become only the sixth pitcher in the Hall who was primarily a reliever, after Hoyt Wilhelm (1985), Rollie Fingers (1992), Dennis Eckersley (2004), Bruce Sutter (2006) and Goose Gossage (2008). Relievers and DHs get a boost when Mariano Rivera becomes eligible next year and David Ortiz in 2022.
Hoffman’s 601 saves trail only Rivera’s 652, and he is at 78.4 percent on the vote-tracker, which estimates there are 424 total ballots. Guerrero is at 94.8 percent in his second appearance after falling 17 votes short last year. Jones is at 98.3 and Thome at 93.1.
Guerrero was a nine-time All-Star and the 2004 AL MVP with the Anaheim Angels. He hit .318 with 449 homers and 1,496 RBIs in 16 big league seasons.
Roy Halladay also will be on the 2019 ballot. The retired pitcher died Nov. 7 at age 40 when a plane he was piloting crashed off Florida.
Voters must have been members of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years and their ballots were due Jan. 24. Anyone elected will be inducted into the Hall at Cooperstown on July 29 along with pitcher Jack Morris and shortstop Alan Trammell, who were voted in last month by the Hall’s Modern Era committee, which considered former players and executives whose contributions to baseball were most significant from 1970-87.
NEW YORK (AP) — Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred and players’ association head Tony Clark met Tuesday, five days after the union rejected Major League Baseball’s proposal to institute pitch clocks and limits on mound visits.
Management has the right to implement the rules changes it proposed last year. Under baseball’s labor contract, management can change on-field rules on its own with one season of advance notice.
MLB does not intend to make any decision before its next owners’ meetings, scheduled for next week in Beverly Hills, California. Big league spring training games start Feb. 23 and the season opens March 29.
“We discussed a wide range of topics,” Clark said in an email. “I will now be discussing each of those topics with our player leadership.”
Manfred declined comment.
Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the 2017 regular season and 3:29 during the postseason, and the length of games has concerned club owners and executives in an age where they compete for consumers with more entertainment choices and shorter attention spans.
“It would be nicer to have the games move a little quicker. At the same time, you’re asking guys who’ve been playing at a high level their whole life to do something completely differently than they normally do,” Colorado center fielder Charlie Blackmon, the NL batting champion, explained last weekend. “I’m going to be resistant to change right out of the gate, no matter what it is.”
Under the proposal MLB can implement, there would be a 30-second clock between batters and a 20-second clock between pitches, according to details obtained by the AP.
A hitter would be required to be in the batter’s box with at least 5 seconds left on the timer. The clock would start when the pitcher has the ball on the mound, except for the first pitch of an at-bat, when it would start at the end of the previous play.
The clock would reset when a pitcher steps off the rubber and when he makes or feints a pickoff throw.
An umpire would issue a warning to a pitcher or batter for a first violation each game, and subsequent violations by the same player would result in a ball being called against a pitcher and a strike against a batter.
Under the proposed limit on mound visits, a team would be allowed one per pitcher each inning, whether by a manager, coach or player. A second visit would result in the team being forced to change pitchers.
During bargaining, MLB offered to start the pitch clock this year only with no runners on base and delay its use with runners on until 2019.
“When you go to the ballpark, you go to spend the day and the night at the ballpark,” Rockies All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado said. “I don’t think you want to spend a night at the ballpark for hour and a half or two hours, think you want to be there for a little longer than that. I don’t get it.”
BRISTOL, England (AP) — Pep Guardiola reached his first final in English soccer as Manchester City ended second-tier Bristol City’s memorable run in the League Cup on Tuesday to stay in contention for silverware on four fronts.
Man City won the second leg of their semifinal 3-2, with Kevin De Bruyne scoring off the last kick of the game, to advance to the Feb. 26 final at Wembley Stadium 5-3 on aggregate.
Chelsea and Arsenal are locked at 0-0 heading into the second leg of the other semifinal on Wednesday.
Top of the Premier League by 12 points and still in the Champions League and FA Cup, Man City is proving an unstoppable force but needs trophies to back up its exhilarating displays in the first five months of the season.
“Of course, I know that we will be judged by trophies we win,” said Guardiola, who didn’t win any silverware last season, his first at Man City. “But we are so happy. Nobody can take away what we have done.”
Leroy Sane and Sergio Aguero scored in a seven-minute span around halftime to build on Man City’s 2-1 lead from the first leg at Etihad Stadium two weeks ago.
Marlon Pack reduced the deficit in the 64th minute and even though Aden Flint equalized in the fourth minute of stoppage time, there was no way Bristol City was about to add the Premier League leaders to its list of top-flight scalps that already included Manchester United, Watford, Stoke, and Crystal Palace in this campaign.
“They are a top, top side, probably the best team I’ve seen live,” Bristol City manager Lee Johnson said. “But the spirit we showed, we never gave in. Not many score two goals against a team like that.”
Bristol City was attempting to become the first team since Sheffield Wednesday in 1991 to win the League Cup from outside the top flight. Around 180 journalists, broadcasters, and photographers were at Ashton Gate, the club said, for a game being watched in more than 100 countries, putting the second-tier host in the global spotlight.
Having needed a late goal from Aguero to earn a first-leg advantage, Man City paid its opponent a compliment by fielding close to a full-strength team for the return match despite being in the middle of a busy period of domestic fixtures.
Bristol City bravely tried to press Guardiola’s team all over the field, and was starting to frustrate the Premier League side when Sane struck in the 43rd minute.
Hordur Magnusson tried to shepherd the ball out for a goal kick but Bernardo Silva battled to regain possession on the byline. He bundled the ball back to Sane, whose first-time shot with his right foot deflected into the net.
Fresh off a hat trick against Newcastle in the league at the weekend, Aguero put the match out of reach of Bristol City in the 50th with a clinical finish at the end of a counterattack.
De Bruyne was set free by Sane and the midfielder cut inside and curled a pinpoint pass forward to Aguero. The Argentina striker took one touch and buried a low, angled shot across goalkeeper Luke Steele.
City wobbled at the back to concede twice but De Bruyne stroked in Sane’s cross for the winner in the sixth minute of stoppage time.
Man City is through to a third League Cup final in the last five years, having also won’s England’s second-tier cup competition in 2014 and ’16.
“They call it the littlest trophy of the year, but everything you can take you will take,” De Bruyne said. “We’ve had a good season so far but now the big games are coming and hopefully we can keep up the intensity and the quality.”
Guardiola won European Cup finals at Wembley as a player with Barcelona in 1992 and as a coach with the same Spanish team in 2011. He has won nine of his 10 finals as a coach from his time at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
LONDON (AP) — With barely four months until FIFA votes on the 2026 World Cup host, Morocco got around to launching its bid on Tuesday.
There’s now a campaign logo and social presence but still few details of how the North African nation will stage the first World Cup after the leap from 32 to 48 teams.
Far more active is the rival joint bid from the United States, Canada and Mexico, which was staging a simultaneous event in London on the latest leg of a nine-month-old campaign.
During the near-silence from Moroccan soccer officials, their North American counterparts have been dogged throughout by questions about the impact of inflammatory remarks by U.S. President Donald Trump on FIFA voters in June.
While wanting to promote a North American World Cup offering financial “certainty” and being “risk averse,” the bid leadership on Tuesday was pressed on recent comments denigrating African nations during a White House meeting on immigration.
“We can’t control the politics,” U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said alongside Canadian and Mexican colleagues overlooking the River Thames. “It will change over time. And we have got all the assurances we need from all three governments to support the bid in all areas that are important to FIFA.”
Gulati said 70,000 pages of contracts are currently being signed.
As well as requiring tax exemptions on FIFA activities in the host nations, the governing body will also demand by March assurances of visa-free access to the tournament. That could run into conflict with Trump’s hard-line immigration stance, including a ban on travel to the U.S. by residents of six majority-Muslim countries, which is being challenged in the courts.
“We have had complete support from the White House on our bid and the government guarantees we need,” Gulati said. “Any participants in the World Cup will have access to the country.”
As for visiting fans, Gulati stressed that “subject to security checks they will be allowed to participate.”
The U.S. is partnering with Mexico on soccer just as Trump also presses ahead with construction of a border wall between the neighbors.
“In terms of the famous wall, I think football is stronger than that,” Mexican soccer federation president Decio De Maria said. “We are working together to have this event. It’s not the wall that’s going to be part of this bid. It’s football.”
The United States, which hosted the World Cup in 1994 and failed with another solo bid for 2022, is the majority partner in the 2026 proposal. It is being lined up to stage 60 games, including everything from the quarterfinals onward, while Canada and Mexico would have 10 fixtures each.
“Might it change? Sure, it is possible,” Gulati said when asked if the junior partners might gain more matches.
FIFA has scrapped the tainted system where a small group of officials decided the host and expanded the vote to the entire membership of 211 soccer nations.
While many countries have little chance of qualifying, they still have a stake in ensuring the World Cup is profitable, Gulati pointed out.
“FIFA’s finances are heavily dependent on one event — the men’s World Cup,” said Gulati, who is also a member of the FIFA Council. “So there is a direct line between funding for programs around the world and what happens at the World Cup and the revenue generated.”
With 48 finalists to accommodate, the 2026 World Cup is loaded with unprecedented risks for FIFA, just when it needs to be certain of turning a big profit after losing sponsors over corruption scandals.
“We think part of our case is the certainty we can provide for a first-ever expanded World Cup,” Gulati said. “Being risk adverse both to members and to FIFA is part of our story. It’s also one of unity.”
Morocco, which has failed with World Cup campaigns and faced allegations of bribery, is touting the upside of the ambiguity surrounding its latest bid.
“We may surprise many people with our strong infrastructure and commercial offering,” Moroccan soccer federation president Fouzi Lekjaa said in a statement, “and we will highlight our wonderful welcome, host cities and stunning locations. It promises to be a truly special bid.”
HONOLULU (AP) — The question was as much rhetorical as it was cynical.
Matt Kuchar was playing alone on a slow Monday in Shanghai last fall, holding court on all things golf in between shots when the topic turned to Tiger Woods. Out of the game for nine months, Woods had just begun to post video of his swing.
Woods was still a week away from announcing he would return to competition in the Bahamas after recovering from a fourth back surgery.
“Do you think guys today believe they could have taken on Tiger at his best?” Kuchar asked.
He didn’t offer an answer, perhaps knowing that just like comparing generations, there are no answers, only speculation.
Besides, what could anyone say?
“You’d be stupid to say you couldn’t. You’d be doubting yourself,” U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka said. “I watched it growing up. I knew exactly how good he was. I wish I could have played against him. I think it would be cool to compare yourself to it.”
The question now is whether it’s too late to find out.
Woods begins the real test in his latest comeback this week in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, the public course along the Pacific bluffs that once served as his personal playground. He won eight times as a pro at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open.
He looked healthy — and strong — in the Bahamas, when he tied for ninth at the Hero World Challenge against an 18-man field. Scouting reports from the elite in golf who have played with him over the last few months have been glowing. While it’s doubtful that Woods — now 42 and with eight surgeries behind him — can ever get back to who he was on the golf course, it’s enough to wonder how close he can get.
Only then will today’s stars get an idea of how they could fare.
“Truth be told, I’d love to have these young guys that are dominating the game have a piece — just one year — of what we experienced,” Zach Johnson said.
Johnson is among 78 players who have been runner-up to Woods on the PGA Tour. He finished eight shots back in 2007 at the Tour Championship.
Stewart Cink was intrigued by the question.
He competed against Woods his entire career and knows how difficult it could be. Cink tied for second when Woods won Bay Hill by 11 shots. He also was on the wrong end of an 8-and-7 outcome when Woods won his third Match Play title.
“I’ve played with Tiger when he was playing the best he’s ever played, and it was a real treat to see it — although it wasn’t a treat to be humiliated by his dominance,” Cink said. “I’ve also played with some of these younger guys. They’re special players. I would love for the game to give us Tiger getting back to where he was so we could see what he would do against Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy.
“The golf world would get a real kick out of it.”
Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Spieth are the last three players to be voted PGA Tour player of the year. They are major champions.
Could they have taken him?
“My self-confidence and self-belief would say, ‘Yes,'” Thomas said.
Then he paused and began to smile before adding with a chuckle, “But everything I’ve watched and everything I’ve heard … no.”
Thomas learned last year that he didn’t need his absolute best stuff to win tournaments. He’s not sure anything but his best would have worked against Woods.
Dustin Johnson, the No. 1 player in the world, has 17 victories on the PGA Tour. Woods played in only one of those events, the 2010 BMW Championship.
“If I’m playing my best? Yeah, I’d take him,” Johnson said. “But over the course of a season? For nine years, 10 years in a row? He kept that level up for 10 years. That’s very, very sick. My best versus his best, I think it’s going to be neck and neck. But he was playing at his best for 10 years.”
Spieth, realizing there is no way of knowing because of how much the game has changed in 10 years, found his answer in numbers.
There are a lot of numbers when it comes to Tiger.
Spieth had his best year in 2015 when his five PGA Tour victories included two majors. Woods had years that good or better in 2000, 2002, 2005 and 2006.
“You get out here and you get caught up in the world ranking, what you’re doing compared with those around you,” Spieth said. “It’s not until you look at data, or statistics, where I’ve started to see, ‘Wow, that was absolutely incredible.’ The win percentage is the most amazing stat of his career.”
Until Woods had his first back surgery in April 2014, his rate of winning on the PGA Tour was 26 percent. Spieth is the most reasonable comparison because of his age and the schedule he keeps. He already has 11 wins and two majors at age 24.
His rate of winning is 9 percent.
“It’s absurd,” Spieth said. “What he was able to do year in and year out … I don’t think it’s going to happen again.”
But to get just a glimpse of it, would that be asking too much?
HONOLULU (AP) — For more than a decade, Zach Johnson has held what amounts to an annual two-day summit to inspect every part of his game, figure out what needs to get better and make a plan going forward. He referred to the most recent meeting as the best one yet.
Johnson failed to reach the Tour Championship for the second straight year. He went a second straight season without winning, dating to his 2015 British Open title at St. Andrews. He was not at the Presidents Cup, ending a streak of five consecutive teams.
“I was frustrated because I thought my game was better,” Johnson said. “What was good was that everyone threw it on the table. We mulled it over and said, ‘OK, this is what we’re going to do.”
For all the stats that were analyzed, what stood out the most was that Johnson felt he wasn’t as disciplined with his practice time and his focus. He did not describe any sense of urgency from going two years without a victory or failing to get to the FedEx Cup finale, though it raised questions.
“As a competitor, doubts creep in. ‘Am I going to do it again? Do I need to make changes?'” he said. “It goes back to the basics. I have to do what I do well. Truth be told, what I’m practicing now is more on my strengths than my weaknesses. You know what you’ve got. Use it. It can work.”
Another aspect of that meeting — and this surprised him — was that Johnson found he had become too emotional on the golf course. Not only was he getting frustrated when his game was not going well, he said he was getting overly excited over a good round, even a good shot.
“The emotion of this game is not necessary until the 73rd hole, after the tournament is over,” Johnson said.
Even so, he had to contain some excitement leaving his two-day meeting last fall that included everyone involved with his game — swing, mental and fitness coaches, statisticians, his wife and caddie, friends that hold him accountable, even his financial adviser.
Johnson has high hopes for this year, and he was so eager to get going he played three times in the fall, finishing in the top 25 in all of them. He started this year with a pair of top 20s in the Sony Open and CareerBuilder Challenge.
Still to be determined is where it leads. Johnson might be the best proof that there is room for guys who don’t blast it 300-plus yards off the tee. He has 12 victories, including major titles at Augusta and St. Andrews. He has played nine times in the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup.
He’d like to be part of the next one, especially after watching the last one from home.
“I haven’t missed many in my career, and it stinks,” Johnson said. “It was hard in a good way. My mindset was, ‘This is my team.’ I’m not on the team, but it’s my team. … Once you’re part of that team, you’re always on the team. I hope I get many more opportunities.”
LPGA OPENER: The LPGA Tour season begins Thursday in the Bahamas, three weeks after the PGA Tour began in Hawaii. The concept of PGA Tour and LPGA Tour winners starting the year together at Kapalua lost traction last year, though it has not been ruled out.
“I think that’s something we’re still interested in,” PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said.
That starts, however, with Wisconsin-based Sentry Insurance, which took over as title sponsor this year at Kapalua. The focus was on Sentry getting through the first year, so whether it would be interested in hosting two tours was not even a topic.
“That’s something that we’ll continue to talk about as we go down the road,” Monahan said. “And we’ll continue to talk to the LPGA about it — if not here, how do we accomplish this at one of our tournaments?”
Monahan says he has spoken with LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan and “I would like to think that we’ll get there at some point.”
The only mixed events have been the Three-Tour Challenge in Las Vegas (PGA, LPGA, PGA Tour Champions), the Diamond Resorts Invitational (LPGA, PGA Tour Champions, celebrities) and the now-defunct J.C. Penney Classic, a mixed-team event back when there was a full plate of unofficial events in the offseason. Monahan said a mixed event for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo was discussed but didn’t work out.
“We talked about the J.C. Penney format. That was a great event,” Monahan said. “I think the reason discussions along those lines haven’t progressed is because we’ve been focused on either this event (Kapalua) or different opportunities over that one. But that might be something that we do pursue.”
There were 22 winners on the LPGA Tour. There was a 34-man winners-only field at Kapalua this year. Monahan said while the Sentry Tournament of Champions is not the only prospect, it is the most logical opportunity.
RAHM’S OUTLOOK: Jon Rahm’s passion is on full display on the golf course. He developed a more introspective side in the summer after his sophomore year at Arizona State, and he believes it allowed his career to blossom.
“A lot of people make the mistake that golf is their life. I was one of those people,” Rahm said in an interview at Kapalua. “I do get mad on the golf course. When I’m done playing, one hour after, it’s over. It’s gone. I allow myself to be frustrated at the mistakes. After that, life moves on.”
So he made a list of why he should be thankful and all the people who have helped him along the way.
“You realize how many people you have in your life,” he said. “That makes you smile. There are so many things to be happy about. And once you separate them, it’s better. I did that in the summer of 2014, and that’s when my career really took off. The happier I am in life, the better golfer I will be, instead of thinking the better golf I play, the happier I will be. You can play great golf and be unhappy. It’s what you do in life that’s going to make you happy.”
GWAA AWARDS: Billy Payne, who retired last year as chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters, has been selected for the William D. Richardson Award for outstanding contributions to golf by the Golf Writers Association of America.
Payne, who promoted golf worldwide by helping launch the Asian Amateur and Latin American Amateur championships, will receive the award April 4 in Augusta.
The GWAA also voted Stacy Lewis as winner of the Ben Hogan Award for overcoming a serious illness or physical disability, and Ernie Els for the ASAP Sports/Jim Murray Award for his cooperation with the media.
DIVOTS: Bernhard Langer tied for 16th in his title defense at the PGA Tour Champions opener in Hawaii. It was his worst finish since Langer tied for 18th in the U.S. Senior Open last July. … In his preliminary spring schedule, Justin Rose left the Dell Technologies Match Play off his list for the second straight year. … The last time Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first start of the year was in 2009 at the Phoenix Open. He went on to match a career best with four victories that year. … During his three-month break, Rory McIlroy and his wife took a road trip around Italy in a 1950s Mercedes convertible. … Ryan Palmer earned 38 FedEx Cup points last week with his tie for 20th, more than enough for him to fulfill a minor medical extension and have full privileges the rest of the season.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Of the 83 players who have finished runner-up to Tiger Woods around the world, 18 of them are at the Farmers Insurance Open.
FINAL WORD: “I want to go places in the game.” — Tommy Fleetwood.
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — One point after his medical timeout in the fourth set, Rafael Nadal went to the rear of the court to squat and do a knee-raise, trying to stretch out his injured right leg.
Three games later — one point after his subsequent visit from the trainer — Nadal had to delay Marin Cilic’s serve while trying to walk out the pain at the start of the fifth set.
After limping and wincing through two more games, and after failing to fend off a sixth break point, the 16-time major champion was out of the Australian Open.
The sixth-seeded Cilic advanced to his first semifinal in Australia since 2010 with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-2, 2-0 victory Tuesday. He will next play 49th-ranked Kyle Edmund, who beat third-ranked Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to reach a Grand Slam semifinal for the first time.
“Tough moments —not (for) the first time here,” Nadal said. “I’m a positive person, but today is an opportunity lost to be in a semifinal for a Grand Slam and fight for an important title for me.
“It’s really tough to accept.”
Injuries to star players dominated headlines before the tournament. Five-time Australian Open finalist Andy Murray withdrew so he could have surgery on his hip. Nadal (right knee), six-time champion Novak Djokovic (right elbow) and 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka (left knee) left their fitness decisions to the eve of the tournament — it’s no surprise they are all out of the tournament.
There are limits to human endurance, and Nadal found his on Tuesday.
“Somebody who is running the tour should think (a) little bit about what’s going on. Too many people getting injured,” said Nadal, who was still limping and grimacing at a post-match news conference. “I don’t know if they have to think a little bit about the health of the players.
“I don’t know if we keep playing in this very, very hard surfaces what’s going to happen in the future with our lives.”
Nadal said the timing and the number of tournaments on the schedule and the proliferation of hardcourts are concerns. Other players have expressed similar views.
Last year’s Australian Open was one for the ages, with Roger Federer returning from a six-month injury layoff and beating Nadal in five sets in the final, and Serena Williams beating her sister, Venus, for the women’s title. Serena opted not to defend her title, deciding she hadn’t had enough time to recover from giving birth to her first child in September. Venus Williams lost in the first round.
This year’s Australian Open is shaping up more as one of discovery. On the women’s side, Angelique Kerber was the only major champion to reach the quarterfinals.
No. 35-ranked Elise Mertens upset fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-0 to extend her winning streak to 10 matches, becoming the first Belgian since Kim Clijsters in 2012 to reach the semifinals.
Up next for her is second-ranked Caroline Wozniacki, who finished off a 6-0, 6-7 (3), 6-2 win over Carla Suarez Navarro after 1:30 a.m.
Wozniacki, who is still chasing her first Grand Slam title, can also return to No. 1 for the first time in six years depending on results in Melbourne.
The second-ranked Federer is still in contention for his 20th major, with a quarterfinal against Tomas Berdych on Wednesday. On Federer’s side of the draw, 58th-ranked Hyeon Chung and 97th-ranked Tennys Sandgren are playing for a spot in the semifinals.
Cilic against Edmund was an unlikely pairing on the top half of the men’s draw. Edmund had never played in a major quarterfinal, had never won five consecutive matches at tour level, had lost both of his previous matches against Dimitrov and had never beaten a top-five player.
He checked all those boxes on Rod Laver Arena.
“I am loving it right now, just the way I’m playing,” Edmund said. “My first Grand Slam semifinal. First time I played on one of the biggest courts in the world. To beat a quality of player like Grigor. They’re great feelings. So, yeah, I just try to enjoy it as much as possible.”
Nadal left dejected. It was the second time he had had to retire during an Australian Open quarterfinal — the previous time was against Murray in 2010.
He said he felt muscle pain in his upper right leg in the third set against Cilic but played through it. In the fourth set, chasing a drop shot, he felt the pain get worse “but didn’t realize how bad.”
He had an injury timeout at 4-1 down in the fourth set, and another at the end of the set.
After Cilic broke his serve, the 31-year-old Spaniard went to shake hands with the umpire and his opponent, and angrily hurled his headband into his equipment bag.
Nadal said he would have medical scans Wednesday to determine the exact location and extent of the injury, which he could only describe as being high on his right leg but not in the hip.
Nadal had a delayed start to the season because of an injured right knee but appeared to be in good form through the first four rounds. He now hasn’t won back-to-back Australian Open quarterfinal matches since 2008 and ’09, the year he won his only Australian title.
“Unbelievable performance from both of us and really unfortunate for Rafa,” said Cilic, who had only beaten Nadal once in their previous six matches. “He’s such an unbelievable competitor. He always gives his best … it’s very unfortunate for him to finish this way.”
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — For anyone who doubted, this was Angelique Kerber in 2016 vintage form.
Kerber routed U.S. Open finalist Madison Keys 6-1, 6-2 on Wednesday to reach the semifinals of the Australian Open, the tournament where she kicked off her career-best season in 2016 with victory over Serena Williams in the final.
She also won the U.S. Open and finished that year with the No. 1 ranking. But she was upset in the first round at Melbourne Park last year, and her ranking dropped into the 20s.
The 30-year-old Kerber won the Sydney International to prepare for the first major of the year, then won her first three rounds at Melbourne Park in straight sets.
Her third-round victory over Maria Sharapova meant she was the only singles Grand Slam winner remaining in the women’s draw. But a struggling fourth-round win over No. 88 Hsieh Su-wei had commentators wondering if Kerber was in 2016, or 2017 form.
Against No. 17-seeded Keys, she responded by winning the first four games to take control of the quarterfinal — her first at a major since the 2016 U.S. Open. Keys held in the fifth game of the first set, but Kerber went on another roll to lead 3-0 in the second set.
Keys slowed the momentum by holding and then getting her first service break of the match, but Kerber responded quickly to finish it off in 51 minutes. She broke Keys six times in total in the match and now has a 7-1 record again the American.
“I’m just trying to enjoy myself again on court,” Kerber said of change of fortunes. “I know that I was working hard in the offseason, and I know that I can play good matches. I know that I can win close matches and also, yeah, going out there and playing good in the bigger tournaments.
“I just try to find the feeling back that I had, like 2016, and just enjoying my time. I mean, on and off court.”
For Keys, it was another disappointing loss in a major. She reached the U.S. Open final last September but lost in straight sets to Sloane Stephens.
Kerber’s semifinal opponent will be decided later Wednesday in a quarterfinal match between top-ranked Simona Halep and No. 6 Karolina Pliskova.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Jimmie Johnson strolled into the Charlotte Convention Center and did a double-take when he saw Fernando Alonso hanging out in a hallway.
“What’s he doing here?” NASCAR’s seven-time champion wondered.
Alonso made the trip to North Carolina to make an appearance at NASCAR’s annual preseason media tour. No, a ride in NASCAR is not imminent, but the two-time Formula One champion is about to embark on his first major sports car race.
Alonso will race this weekend in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona for United Autosports, the sports car team owned by his McLaren F1 boss, Zak Brown. It was Brown who paved the way for Alonso to compete in last year’s Indianapolis 500, and he is helping the Spaniard knock prestigious races off his wish list.
Alonso spent about 10 minutes chatting with Johnson, and the duo was eventually joined by sports car aces Scott Pruett and Joey Hand, who were brought to the NASCAR event by IMSA to help promote the Rolex, and then Cup champion Kevin Harvick.
The meet-and-greet with Alonso was a thrill for Johnson. Alonso was equally impressed.
“The first time I heard his name it was probably 2003 on the NASCAR video game,” Alonso said Tuesday. “I used to choose him, not knowing him, just because of the car. I remember playing with another friend of mine, he likes a chocolate company I will not name now, and he was choosing that car and I was choosing Jimmie’s car.
“But that was the first time I heard of him, and obviously the success that he has in the years in motor racing, he became a legend of our sport, and massive respect.”
Johnson said he’s always been a fan of Alonso’s and spent some time telling Alonso how well he ran in the Indianapolis 500 last May. Alonso led 27 laps and seemed to be in contention for the win until his engine expired 21 laps from the finish.
“He handled himself so well, really did a great job, and I think brought a lot to the table,” Johnson said. “He brought worldwide attention to motorsports and it was really good for us here stateside.”
While in NASCAR country, Alonso was asked about potentially trying a stock car someday. It’s not something that could happen soon, he said, but it is something he’d like to at least attempt.
“Right now, it looks quite far. The driving technique and the experience all those guys have, it’s difficult for me to achieve that level,” Alonso said. “I will never know until I try, so I would like one day to test a car and after that, driving the car, I will know how enjoyable it will be in racing.
“Outside (watching), the races are great because they are all in a group, it is not predictable at all and until the last lap, you don’t know what is going to happen. We love watching from the outside, but I don’t know from the inside.”
Alonso has so far only had three days of testing at Daytona in the sports car to adjust to a closed cockpit, as well as driving at night and in traffic. Trying different series has been a thrill for him, and he’s still eyeing a way to get Le Mans on his schedule.
“It’s one thing that I would like to do, I would like to compete in the best races in the world, and Le Mans and is one of the top races,” he said. “If that day will be this year or not is still to be discussed, but maybe yes.”
BENTON, Ky. (AP) — A 15-year-old student killed two classmates and hit a dozen others with gunfire Tuesday, methodically firing a handgun inside a crowded atrium at his rural Kentucky high school.
“He was determined. He knew what he was doing,” said Alexandria Caporali, who grabbed her stunned friend and ran into a classroom as their classmates hit the floor.
“It was one right after another — bang, bang, bang, bang, bang,” she added. “You could see his arm jerking as he was pulling the trigger.”
He kept firing, she said, until he ran out of ammunition and took off running, trying to get away. Police arrested their suspect moments later, leading him away in handcuffs to be charged with murder and attempted murder. Authorities did not identify the gunman responsible for the nation’s first fatal school shooting of 2018, nor did they release any details about a motive.
Kentucky State Police Lt. Michael Webb said detectives are looking into his home and background.
“He was apprehended by the sheriff’s department here on site, at the school, thankfully before any more lives could be taken,” Webb said.
Seventeen students were injured, 12 of them hit with bullets and five others hurt in the scramble as hundreds of students fled for their lives from Marshall County High School. Many jumped into cars, or ran across fields and down the highway, some not stopping until they reached a McDonald’s restaurant more than a mile away. Parents left their cars on both sides of an adjacent road, desperately trying to find their teenagers.
“No one screamed. It was almost completely silent as people just ran,” said Caporali, 16. She said most students knew what to do because they are drilled throughout the year on how to respond to an active shooter at school.
The two fatalities were 15 years old: Bailey Nicole Holt died at the scene, and Preston Ryan Cope died later at a hospital, Kentucky State Police Commissioner Richard Sanders said. Cope was among six young men flown about 120 miles (193 kilometers) to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Sanders said the five others were in critical condition Tuesday night.
The attack marked the year’s first fatal school shooting, 23 days into 2018, according to data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive, which relies on media reports and other information. The anti-violence group Everytown for Gun Safety has counted at least 283 shootings at schools since 2013.
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and several people in Benton said they couldn’t believe a mass shooting would happen in their small, close-knit town. But many such shootings across the nation have happened in rural communities.
Marshall County High School is about 30 minutes from Heath High School in Paducah, Kentucky, where a 1997 mass shooting killed three and injured five. Michael Carneal, then 14, opened fire there about two years before the fatal attack at Columbine High School in Colorado, ushering in an era when mass school shootings have become much more common.
Meanwhile, in the small North Texas town of Italy, a 15-year-old girl was recovering Tuesday after police said she was shot by a 16-year-old classmate in her high school cafeteria on Monday, sending dozens of students scrambling for safety. Police in Louisiana, meanwhile, are investigating shots fired Monday as students gathered outside their charter school.
“It’s horrifying that we can no longer call school shootings ‘unimaginable’ because the reality is they happen with alarming frequency,” said former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who survived being shot in the head in 2011. She called on Congress to strengthen gun laws.
Tuesday’s shooting, moments before classes would have begun, disrupted some happy moments in the noisy “commons” area at the center of the school, where several hallways meet and students gather between classes.
Lexie Waymon, 16, said she and a friend were talking about the next basketball game, makeup and eyelashes when gunshots pierced the air.
“I blacked out. I couldn’t move. I got up and I tried to run, but I fell. I heard someone hit the ground. It was so close to me,” Waymon said. “I just heard it and then I just, everything was black for a good minute. Like, I could not see anything. I just froze and did not know what to do. Then I got up and I ran.”
Her friend, Baleigh Culp, told the AP in a text message that they were joking and laughing until they heard a loud bang that sounded like someone’s books hitting the floor.
“That’s what i expected it to be, until i saw a body drop on the ground,” Culp wrote. “There was bullets flying everywhere. I ran straight out the door and headed to the highway as fast as i could.”
Waymon did not stop running either, not even when she called her mom to tell her what happened. She made it to the McDonald’s, her chest hurting, struggling to breathe. “All I could keep thinking was, ‘I can’t believe this is happening. I cannot believe this is happening,'” she said.
It was chaotic outside the school as parents and students rushed around trying to find each other, said Dusty Kornbacher, who owns a nearby floral shop. “All the parking lots were full with parents and kids hugging each other and crying and nobody really knowing what was going on,” she said.
“They was running and crying and screaming,” said Mitchell Garland, who provided shelter to between 50 and 100 students inside his nearby business. “Everyone is just scared. Just terrified for their kids,” he added. “We’re a small town and we know a lot of the kids.”
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The oldest of the 13 California siblings who authorities said were imprisoned by their parents was frail, smelly and picked on as a grade school student in Texas, one of her classmates said in a heart-wrenching Facebook post.
The now-29-year-old woman was rescued with her starving brothers and sisters from their home in Perris, California, on Jan. 14. Neighbors and relatives said they were unaware of the children’s treatment until authorities arrested the parents and revealed what they found inside.
Taha Muntajibuddin attended kindergarten through third grade with her in Fort Worth, Texas. After learning of the case, he shared on Facebook his “overwhelming sense of guilt and shame” over how she was treated.
Muntajibuddin, a pediatrics resident doctor in Houston who confirmed his post to The Associated Press, described her as “a frail girl, had pin-straight hair with bangs, and often wore the same purple outfit.”
He wrote that it was jarring to learn that the girl, who was teased in school for being smelly, “quite literally had to sit in her own waste because she was chained to her bed.”
“It is nothing but sobering to know that the person who sat across from you at the lunch table went home to squalor and filth while you went home to a warm meal and a bedtime story,” he wrote.
The post has elicited a strong reaction, with some condemning Muntajibuddin for his behavior as a child. Others praised him for addressing it.
Muntajibuddin said in an interview Tuesday that he was surprised by the reaction.
“It was just meant to be an honest lesson: take it or leave it,” he said.
The AP is not naming the siblings because of the severity of abuse allegations, which are still under investigation. The AP also has not been able to talk to the children, including the 29-year-old, or anyone who can speak on their behalf.
Crowley Independent School District spokesman Anthony Kirchner confirmed Muntajibuddin and the victim attended the same school.
Kirchner said he was unable to confirm when she enrolled or when she left school, or whether any of her younger siblings attended, because districts are only required to keep elementary student records for five years.
Another classmate, Stephanie Hernandez, told the AP in a Facebook message that the girl was quiet and always wore dirt-stained jeans that were too small. Hernandez said she often was bullied.
“I remember someone kind of slung her around like a rag doll,” said Hernandez, a registered nurse in Mansfield, Texas.
Sheriff’s deputies arrested David Turpin, 57, and Louise Turpin, 49, after their 17-year-old daughter climbed out a window and called 911. Authorities found the siblings, ages 2 to 29, in the family’s filthy California home, three of whom were shackled to beds and all except the youngest child malnourished.
The couple has pleaded not guilty to torture and other charges.
The Riverside University Health System Foundation, which is collecting money for the siblings, so far has received 1,500 donations totaling $120,000, spokeswoman Kim Trone.
People from across the world also have been sending toys, blankets and clothing, she said.
About 20 people, including nurses and psychologists, have offered to take the seven adult siblings and six minors and keep them together, said Mary Parks, a spokeswoman for the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services.
“People from around the country are offering to foster them and adopt them,” she said.
The siblings were all taken to hospitals, but Parks said she could not discuss their conditions. The agency typically seeks to place children with a relative and keep siblings together, she said.
Muntajibuddin said he is hopeful his former classmate can recover and live an enriched life.
He said despite being bullied by her peers, she “was still one of the most pleasant people I have had the opportunity to meet. She had this whimsical optimism to her that couldn’t be dampened, couldn’t be doused no matter what anybody threw at her.”
He said he has learned from his experience and hopes others do, too.
“The resounding lesson here is a simple one, something that we’re taught from the very beginning,” Muntajibuddin wrote. “Be nice.”