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For Mariano Rivera, a fitting All-Star Game sendoff

NEW YORK — Mariano Rivera has received a going-away gift his last time through every stadium he's visited this season.

The entire American League, all of baseball in fact, had one more for him — and it wasn't even a chance to save his final All-Star Game.

After all, the retiring New York Yankees closer already has the all-time All-Star saves record, just as he holds every other saves record imaginable.

But AL manager Jim Leyland wasn't taking any chances, even with a 3-0 lead entering the bottom of the eighth.

The rest of the American League team did not take the field as Rivera came in from the bullpen.

The familiar Enter Sandman, which might as well be a dirge for every hitter who's had to face Rivera at Yankee Stadium, played at the home of the New York Mets. It easily won the night over God Bless America in the seventh or a live performance of Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond just before Rivera's entrance.

Rivera got to the mound and tipped his cap as the crowd and both dugouts rose to applaud, other relievers came out onto the warning track to show their appreciation.

"Nothing is better than this," Rivera said. "I appreciate all of it. From the fans. From the peers."

Matt Harvey Ask New Yorkers About Matt Harvey

NBA star Amare Stoudemire gets Israel invite

JERUSALEM (AP) -- The president of Israel has invited New York Knicks star Amare Stoudemire to play for the country's national basketball team because of his ties to Judaism.

Shimon Peres met with Stoudemire on Thursday to discuss the player's charity efforts. Stoudemire, who says he has ''Hebrew roots,'' has traveled to Israel before and Peres urged him to help the national team.

The six-time NBA All-Star already has significant ties to Israeli basketball. Last month, he joined a group looking to buy Hapoel Jerusalem, a team in Israel's top league. Stoudemire is in Israel to coach the Canadian basketball team at the Maccabiah Games, a competition for Jewish athletes.

Stoudemire won a bronze medal with the United States at the 2004 Olympics but has not played for the national team since 2007.

WWE Diva Given Part in The Rock's 2014 Hercules Film

It looks like WWE Diva Tamina Snuka will be joining her cousin, part-time WWE Superstar and Hollywood actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in his 2014 film, Hercules: The Thracian War.

Tamina tweeted out Saturday that she had been given a script for the movie, confirming a rumor that she'd joined the cast after mysteriously tweeting that she was in Budapest - the film's location - last week.

Hugh Jackman Admits to Stealing Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's Workout Plan For New Movie

It's no secret Hugh Jackman has one impressive body. Come on, have you seen him in X-Men: Days of Future Past?

But for his latest role in The Wolverine, in theatres July 26, the actor is admitting to E! News that sometimes, you need some extra diet and fitness tips from other leading men in Hollywood.

Enter Dwayne Johnson!

"I know Dwayne and I rang him and said, ‘Buddy, I saw you in The Tooth Fairy…and then I saw you in an action movie and you are massive. How do you do it?'" Let's just say it takes a lot of time and food to look that big.

PHOTOS: Look back on all of Hugh's memorable movie roles

"He said, ‘Okay, you want to put on 25 pounds of lean muscle? You need six months. You need to eat 6,000 calories and here it is,'" Jackman recalls when describing the important phone call.

In between the helpful tips, Jackman recalls one moment during the oh-so-manly conversation that can't escape his memory.

"Right as he's telling me the whole diet, someone knocked on his trailer door—and I'll never forget this moment," Jackman recalls in an excited voice. "He goes, 'Hold on a second! I'm talking to Wolverine! You can tell them I said they can wait.'"

Man, the Wolverine sure is one important dude.

PHOTOS: See more action-packed films coming this summer to theatres
Video Thumbnail: Hugh Jackman Uses The Rock’s Workout Plan”The Wolverine” star called upon his ex-wrestler pal for tips on getting swole for the role. Plus, hear his favorite fanboy story!

Long before bulking up for this role, Jackman had one fan moment he couldn't have prepared for—no matter how much muscle he gained.

It happened one evening in the early 2000s in Southern California, when he was watching Shaquille O'Neal and the Los Angeles Lakers compete at the Staples Center. "I'm watching the whole game, and about the third quarter, Shaq looks and goes, ‘Oh, Wolverine' and he gets up and as he's coming to me, he goes to give me a fist bump."

"When his fists come to you, it's terrifying. It's literally like 10 fists going, 'Yo, Wolverine," Jackman joked.

"I broke about 11 bones in my hand," Jackman said. "But it was worth it."

Big Update on Possible Plans For Randy Orton, Cena & Daniel Bryan at SummerSlam

According to, the word coming from backstage in WWE is that the current plan for the John Cena vs Daniel Bryan match at SummerSlam is to have Bryan defeat Cena, and then have Randy Orton cash in Money in the Bank, take the title from Bryan, and finally make the heel turn that he has been rumored to be making for quite sometime now.

With reporting that Orton was "injured" at the Smackdown taping this week, it's possible that WWE could hype that injury angle on Raw this week, to keep Orton off TV for awhile, making his cash-in that much more of a surprise at SummerSlam.

Another factor leading many to believe that Orton will cash in Money at the Bank is there is currently no scheduled rematch between Cena and Bryan set for Night of Champions this year.

Mets Midseason Report Card: Matt Harvey, David Wright make the grade; Ike Davis, Jordany Valdespin do not

Ace hurler Matt Harvey and David Wright both have a stellar first half for the Mets.
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They may not be in the mix, but the Mets have at least been interesting through the first half. Thanks to weather issues, extra-inning games and utility players screaming at their manager after being demoted, the Mets have gone through pretty much everything in the first half.

Now, they are starting to get interesting on the field, too, finishing the month before the All-Star break 17-10.

The Mets (41-50), 11 games behind the National League East-leading Braves, start the second half Friday night at Citi Field against the Phillies. If they can avoid their usual second-half swoon, at the very least, the Mets could continue to make things interesting.

The only one who expected Harvey to be the ace of the staff by the midway point of his first full season was Matt Harvey. And he did not disappoint himself. He has flirted with a perfect game and twice took a no-hitter into the seventh.

Long the face of the franchise, he now seems to own it — or is at least a shareholder with his eight-year, $138 million extension. He is living up to it on the field, hitting .304 in 90 games, and off it. He represented the Mets as they hosted the All-Star Game, and has been more of a presence in the clubhouse as the team’s captain.

He has reinvigorated his career with a stellar first half after being suspended for violating MLB’s drug policy last season. He leads the Mets with 15 homers and 51 RBI and has turned some outstanding defensive plays.

For the past six weeks, he has been the Mets’ best pitcher, with a 1.76 ERA over his last eight starts. He came into spring training considered a long man out of the bullpen and spot starter before quickly establishing himself in the rotation.
Closer Bobby Parnell finishes the first half with an 'A'... John Buck? Not so much.
Nam Y. Huh/AP
Closer Bobby Parnell finishes the first half with an 'A'... John Buck? Not so much.

He has finally grown into the role of closer the Mets always thought he could fill. He went into the break with 17 saves (in 20 opportunities) and is now considered the bullpen’s most valuable asset.

He was a surprise find for the Mets in their reshuffling that sent Ike Davis to the minors. Hitting .361 in just 22 games, he’ll see more action if Davis struggles.

His promotion from Triple-A coincided with the Mets’ recent surge. He gave up one earned run in 17.2 innings out of the bullpen. He will transition into a starter while Jon Niese rehabs, a big loss to the bullpen.

No coincidence the Mets started to turn it around after trading for him on June 18. He has given them the speed and energy in the leadoff spot they lacked without Jose Reyes. Pushed out of Colorado by outfielders of the future, Young is trying to play himself into the Mets’ plans.


A bad start to the season — well, seven bad starts — had him on the verge of being sent to the bullpen or down. But he has recovered, winning five of his last six decisions heading into the break.

He cooled off a little in July, not surprising given that he’s played every game this season. He looked like he had finally become an acceptable major-league second baseman, but he’s been shaky in the past few weeks since the Mets toyed with him at first.
Lucas Duda walks and hits home runs, but he struggles to drive in runs.
Howard Simmons/New York Daily News
Lucas Duda walks and hits home runs, but he struggles to drive in runs.

Maybe he just compares well to Ruben Tejada, but he has been helpful to the Mets during their recent turnaround. He is not the consistent out that Tejada was, and is a big defensive upgrade.

Not just a great story, getting his first shot in the majors after 14 years in the minors, but also Terry Collins’ most trusted lefty in the bullpen. He is tied for second in the majors with 49 appearances, but needs to cut down on his walks.

His torrid start preceded a significant drop-off the past two months. But he has never brought those struggles behind the plate; pitchers praise his defensive work, which may be more of a contribution than his bat.

He walks and hits home runs, but he struggles to drive in runs. He hit just .143 with runners in scoring position before going on the DL with a strained left intercostal muscle. He has never looked comfortable in the outfield; and with Young Jr. around, Duda will see less time in left when he returns.

Great defensive center fielder, can run down anything in the outfield. He has struggled to hit major-league pitching.

Inconsistent, but it is hard to tell how much of that was due to physical discomfort. He is on the DL, recovering from inflammation and a partial tear of his rotator cuff. The Mets are counting on a successful return from the only lefty of any note in the system.

He hits for power and has provided a spark during the grueling pre-break marathon. Recker has shown improvement behind the plate in limited appearances.
Ike Davis is sent down and spends some time playing for the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s.
Julie Jacobson/AP
Ike Davis is sent down and spends some time playing for the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s.

A solid utility player, Turner’s bat off the bench was inconsistent before he went on the disabled list.

A good defensive OF, he has finally shown some life at the plate in the last few weeks. He needs to cut down on his strikeouts in the second half.

He has a lot to prove to the Mets — and fast — after his second straight disastrous start a season. After sending Davis to the minors to rebuild his swing for 24 games, the Mets could cut his at-bats in the second half if they don’t start to see signs of a turnaround similar to that of 2012.

Marcum was ineffective and often injured. He was 1-10 with a 5.29 ERA when diagnosed with a season-ending syndrome that caused a loss of feeling in his fingers.

He showed up out of shape and played like it. An injury delayed the inevitable, but he was demoted to Triple-A to work on hitting — without any real power, he needs to stop hitting fly balls. His defense was lacking as well. He will have to fight for his starting spot.

Not only was he a distraction in the clubhouse, he struggled on the field. Given a chance to start at his natural second base, Valdespin was less than impressive. After Valdespin hit a walkoff home run and his sixth career pinch-hit homer, he was still a distraction. He’ll have a long road to get back from Triple-A.
Mets manager Terry Collins guides the team through a slow start but has it playing better.
Howard Simmons/New York Daily News
Mets manager Terry Collins guides the team through a slow start but has it playing better.

Mostly used for a power bat off the bench, it’s hard to grade him off 46 major-league at-bats this season.

His last start showed the promise that the Mets have been counting on, but the 23-year-old rookie has been inconsistent. His talent is obvious, but so is the fact that he will need the rest of the season to learn.

He lost three-fifths of his projected starting rotation (Johan Santana, Marcum and Niese), his projected closer (Frank Francisco), and guided the team through a slow start but has it playing better. His future in Flushing relies on the Mets carrying their strong recent play into the second half.

He gambled on Byrd and it paid off, he made a good trade to get Young and his decision to send Davis down and reshuffle the roster helped sparked a midseason run. Still, Alderson’s other offseason acquisitions — Brandon Lyon and Marcum — were disappointments, and his third attempt at rebuilding the bullpen is iffy at best. There is still more wait-and-see than results; a big trade deadline move could turn around his season.

1. Get Travis d’Arnaud to the majors and see if he is the catcher of the future. After fracturing a bone in his foot in April, he is already behind schedule, and needs to play every day, but the Mets need to see where he fits in.

2. Sandy Alderson should make a move at the deadline to solidify his outfield for the future. Marlon Byrd has been a nice temporary fix, and Eric Young Jr. has boosted the offense in the leadoff spot, but overall, the Mets system could use an influx of outfielders.

3. Ike Davis must have a second half like he did in 2012; the Mets need the power bat in the lineup and they need to know if he is their first baseman of the future.

Are Chris Paul and Doc Rivers Poised for NBA Titles?

COMMENTARY | The Los Angeles Clippers are wrapping up their best offseason in franchise history. Chris Paul has officially signed to a five-year deal, Doc Rivers is on board for the next three seasons, and a promising cast of prized players will join the roster in 2014.

All signs show that the Clippers are built to contend for championships right away. They tout a world-class head coach and a stacked roster expected to perform at a high level right out of the gate.

But competition is thick in the Western Conference. Both Oklahoma City and San Antonio should be favored to appear in the NBA Finals before the Clippers. Not to mention, Houston and Golden State are forces to be reckoned with after their signings of Dwight Howard and Andre Iguodala, respectively.

Regardless of the odds against them, the Clippers have put together a roster worthy of championship expectations.

Here are three reasons they are primed to kiss the golden ball in 2014:

The Clippers based their offseason around beefing up their mid-range game. They added sharpshooters J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley to the starting lineup, who shot 36% and 39%, respectively, from 3-point range last season. Plus, they padded the bench's mid-range attack by re-signing Matt Barnes, adding Darren Collison, and tapping pure shooter Reggie Bullock in the first round of the draft.
There's a sound explanation behind the front office's lust for shooters: They are building the team around Chris Paul. A pass-first point guard like Paul will thrive with a roster full of knock-down shooting options along the perimeter. Redick and Dudley will be prime weapons to come off screens and capitalize on CP3's deadly pick-and-pop.

But Paul isn't the only piece that suits the team's onslaught of shooters. The new-look Clippers are also resembling of the team Rivers won a title with in 2008. The offense runs through a passing point guard surrounded by shooters who space the floor. Given its past success with this formula, expect Rivers' coaching style to fit in early in his tenure with the Clippers.
A Roster in its Prime

A lion's share of the Clippers roster is either in its prime or approaching it. Paul, Redick, Dudley and Ryan Hollins are each entering the peak of their careers, while Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Darren Collison are still approaching their best days.
The future looks brighter for the Clippers than any other franchise in the league. Their roster has at least a five-year window to play at a high level and compete for championships, and their success is expected to begin right away.

The Clippers have the athleticism to keep pace with the most dominant transition teams in the league. Their entire starting lineup is in its 20s, and their bench isn't much older. Competing in a young, fast-paced league, the Clippers have a well-positioned franchise to lead them far into the future.


The recent signings of Paul, Redick, Dudley, Barnes, Collison and Hollins were announced in unorthodox fashion: All six players shared the stage with their head coach as they addressed reporters and fans.

This represents a clear shift from the NBA norm for announcing player acquisitions. The league is accustom to Lebron-esque productions where the superstar takes the stage alone to enjoy all the hype and attention that comes with signing a new deal.

But Rivers had a different approach in mind.

"I thought it was important that we did this together," he said. "We have to try to learn how to win together. This is not boxing, this is basketball."

This sentiment is nothing new from Doc. A message of unity was a key element of his success as head coach of the Celtics. In Boston, he championed the mantra, "ubuntu" -- a South African rallying cry that translates to, "I am because we are."

Rivers was able to convince strong, overbearing personalities like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo to buy into a system larger than themselves, and that is precisely the challenge he faces in Los Angeles.

The Clippers roster is full of young players who are unfamiliar with the team concept Rivers employed in Boston. Doc will have to teach his new players to look past their individual games and buy into a larger team concept. This will mean sharing the ball, trusting one another on defense and cultivating a community-oriented locker room.

Rivers will bring similar coaching methods from Boston to Los Angeles. And If he plays his cards right with the roster and coaching staff he helped assemble, he can bring a similar result.

Dan Komin has lived in the Greater Los Angeles area for 16 years and is an avid follower of all things Clippers. His work has focused on trades, player updates and offseason prospects for sports teams throughout the Southland. Follow Dan on Google+.

CPS and the boys rap " Regulate "

Rhythmic Gymnastics World Rocked by Judge Cheating Scandal

Rhythmic gymnastics, an Olympic sport that raises eyebrows among some critics every four years for its inclusion in the games, is now the center of a cheating scandal that does not involve the sport’s unitard-clad competitors, but its judges.

The New York Times reported that some 60 of the potential judges for the sport, which involves women swirling clubs, hoops, balls, ribbons and ropes, were caught cheating during last year’s elite-level exams to become judges during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Swift action was taken after the alleged cheating was discovered, according to the Times, which reported that an Olympic official was expelled and six others were suspended. Caroline Hunt of the United States was one of the suspended officials.

Lesley King, vice president of communications for USA Gymnastics, confirmed to that Hunt was suspended because of the circumstances detailed in the Times, but added that the suspension was being appealed.

“USA Gymnastics fully supports Caroline and recognizes her integrity and commitment to fair play and the sport of rhythmic gymnastics,” USA Gymnastics said in a statement. “USA Gymnastics is planning to appeal the decision on Caroline’s behalf.”

According to the Times, blatant cheating took place at testing sites around Europe and was discovered by The International Gymnastics Federation, which spent months investigating the incidents. Copying of answers from tests, including mistakes, reportedly took place during an exam in Bucharest, Romania, while hundreds of answers were changed on tests taken in Moscow and Spain.

According to the report obtained by the Times, one test even had two different types of handwriting.

Calls placed by ABC News to the International Gymnastics Federation were not immediately returned.

As noted by the Times, a petition was set up on by Czech national Erik Moers to “ban unfair judging and corruption from our beloved sport.”

Writing on his page after the scandal was revealed, Moers called for further vigilance in the gymnastics community.

“FIG made a historical decision about the scandal during the courses in Bucharest, Moscow and Alicante,” he wrote. “Following the latest developments, I am convinced that we must stay very alert. First steps are put to clean up ¨the mess¨ of the last 25 years. Let us make sure it is done properly.”

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