Tuesday Sports in Brief

National Sports

MLB

HOUSTON (AP)Jorge Soler became the first player to begin a World Series with a home run and the Atlanta Braves beat the Houston Astros 6-2 in Tuesday night’s opener despite the loss of pitcher Charlie Morton to a broken leg.

Boosted by a strong bullpen effort, a two-run homer by Adam Duvall and a late sacrifice fly from Freddie Freeman, the Braves coasted in their first Series appearance since Chipper Jones and their Big Three aces ascended in 1999.

Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and the Astros mostly looked lost at the plate. This was their third World Series in five seasons — and first since their sign-stealing scheme was revealed.

HOUSTON (AP) – Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred exchanged a handshake with players’ union head Tony Clark on the field before the World Series opener and expressed optimism about reaching an agreement before the current deal expires Dec. 1 but did not detail any progress in talks that appear headed to a lockout.

”Have you ever heard me say that I’m anything but optimistic about getting an agreement?” Manfred said. ”I am a believer in the process. We’re meeting on a regular basis, and I’m hopeful we find a way to get an agreement by Dec. 1.”

There is no evidence of progress toward an agreement, and many management officials and player agents have said they are prepared for a lockout if there is no deal when the current agreement expires.

NHL

CHCIAGO (AP) – The Chicago Blackhawks mishandled allegations that an assistant coach sexually assaulted a player during the team’s Stanley Cup run in 2010, according to an investigation commissioned by the franchise that cast a shadow over the NHL on Tuesday.

Stan Bowman, Chicago’s general manager and president of hockey operations, resigned in the wake of the findings by an outside law firm, and the NHL fined the team $2 million for ”the organization’s inadequate internal procedures and insufficient and untimely response.” Al MacIsaac, one of the team’s top hockey executives, also is out.

Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville and Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, who were with the Blackhawks when the sexual assault allegations were first reported, were named in the damning report as well.

The Panthers declined to comment, citing NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman’s plans to meet with Quenneville. There was no immediate word from the Jets on Cheveldayoff’s status.

NFL

NEW YORK (AP) – The NFL is encouraged by the progress made in preventing any major spreads of COVID-19 among the 32 teams, while concerned about an increase in soft tissue injuries.

Dr. Allen Sills, the league’s chief medical officer, noted Tuesday at the first in-person owners meetings since December 2019 that a low positive COVID-19 rate between .04% and .06% is due greatly to vaccinations and protocols working. So far, 94.1% of players are vaccinated, as well as 100% of team and league staff.

As for the soft tissue injuries (hamstring, groin, calf, et al), the numbers are up to a five-year high even though the overall amount of preseason injuries went down. Of course, there were only three preseason games for 30 of the teams during the summer.

NCAA

NEW YORK (AP) – The NCAA has fallen short of upholding its commitment to gender equity, spending more on male athletes on average than female ones, according a new report.

The law firm hired by the NCAA to investigate equity issues released its 153-page report Tuesday night, which includes a series of recommendations to improve the gap. It’s the second report from the New York-based firm, following its Aug. 3 one that had recommendations on how to equalize men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. The NCAA has implemented some of those, including allowing the women’s tournament to use the term ”March Madness.”

The latest report shows spending per Division I and national championship participants, excluding basketball, was about $1,700 less for women’s participants than men’s in 2018-19. The NCAA spent $4,825 per participant versus $2,588 on women.

The gap is even greater in the six single-gender sports that include wrestling or beach volleyball – $2,229 more per student-athlete for the men’s championships than for the women’s.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) – Illinois quarterback Artur Sitkowski will miss the rest of the season after breaking his left arm against Penn State. Brandon Peters will start the Illini’s home game against Rutgers on Saturday.

Coach Bret Bielema announced Monday that Sitkowski would have surgery on his arm Wednesday and have another operation in two to four weeks to correct a chronic problem in his right shoulder. Bielema said Sitkowski would miss spring practice and should be full strength next fall.

Sitkowski’s arm was broken when he was hit as he threw a rollout pass in the fourth overtime of Illinois’ 20-18 nine-overtime win at Penn State last Saturday.

WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL

NEW YORK (AP) – Paige Bueckers of UConn is a unanimous choice. for The Associated Press preseason women’s All-America team.

Bueckers was joined by fellow sophomore Caitlin Clark of Iowa; junior Aliyah Boston of South Carolina; and two seniors, NaLyssa Smith of Baylor and Rhyne Howard of Kentucky.

Boston and Howard were on the preseason team last year.

Bueckers was the first freshman to win the AP’s Player of the Year award as she helped UConn reach the Final Four last spring.

SOCCER

Soccer player Josh Cavallo has come out as gay in a public statement ahead of the A-League season.

The 21-year-old Adelaide United midfielder says he’s the first player to openly come out while playing in Australia’s top-flight soccer league.

Cavallo says ”I want to inspire and show people that it’s okay to be yourself and play football. It’s okay to be gay and play football.”

Cavallo says he’s received so much encouragement and support since he come out to family, friends and fellow footballers that he’s now asking himself the question: ”Why have I been hiding this burden for so long?”

OBITUARY

Walter Smith, the Scottish soccer coach who won 21 trophies over two spells with Rangers and restored respectability to his national team in a brief stint in charge, has died. He was 73.

Smith had been ”battling illness,” Rangers chairman Douglas Park said Tuesday in a statement from the Glasgow team announcing the death.

With a dry sense of humor and an endearing humbleness belying his status as one of Scotland’s greatest ever coaches, Smith established Rangers as the country’s biggest force in soccer by winning seven straight Scottish league titles as well as three Scottish Cups and three Scottish League Cups in his first spell at Ibrox from 1991-98.

DETROIT (AP) – Mike Lucci, a Pro Bowl linebacker who played nine seasons with the Detroit Lions, died Tuesday at age 81.

Lucci died after an extended illness, according to an obituary posted by Glick Family Funeral Home in Boca Raton, Florida.

Lucci was drafted by Cleveland, but spent most of his 12-year career with the Lions, from 1965-73.

Lucci played on special teams during the 1964 NFL championship game won by the Browns. It was his last game with Cleveland.

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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