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Judge wins AL MVP in runaway; Goldschmidt takes NL prize

NEW YORK (AP) — Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees has won the American League MVP award, and St. Louis Cardinals slugger Paul Goldschmidt took the NL prize. After hitting 62 home runs this season to break the AL record, Judge easily beat out Los Angeles Angels two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani in an MVP race some thought might be close. The 6-foot-7 outfielder received 28 of 30 first-place votes and two seconds for 410 points from a Baseball Writers’ Association of America panel. Ohtani, last year’s winner, was picked first on two ballots and second on the other 28 for 280 points. Goldschmidt won the NL award for the first time after a couple of close calls earlier in his career. Padres third baseman Manny Machado came in second.

NFL shifts Bills’ game vs. Browns to Detroit due to storm

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The NFL is relocating the Bills’ home game against the Cleveland Browns to Detroit on Sunday because of a lake-effect snowstorm set to hit the Buffalo region. The move to relocate the game comes before the storm even began. The forecast is for between 1 to 3 feet of snow in the region through the weekend. The switch in sites means the Bills will play back-to-back games in Detroit. They’re scheduled to play the Lions on Thanksgiving.

Rodgers, NFL players urge league to nix turf, go with grass

Aaron Rodgers and his peers around the NFL are calling for teams to tear up their turf playing surfaces and replace them with grass. The outpouring comes a week after NFL Players Association President JC Tretter called on six venues to immediately change their field types, saying the artificial turf in those stadiums was resulting in higher injury rates. Players are concerned about non-contact and lower extremity injuries. The NFL has said its data shows injury rates are similar on grass and artificial turf. Rodgers says owners could be “putting your money where your mouth is if player safety is important.”

Griner has begun serving sentence in Russian penal colony

WASHINGTON (AP) — WNBA star Brittney Griner has begun serving her nine-year sentence for drug possession at a Russian penal colony. That’s according to statements from her lawyers and agent on Thursday. Her lawyers say they visited her last week at a penal colony in Mordovia, about 350 kilometers (210 miles) east of Moscow. They say, “Brittney is doing as well as could be expected and trying to stay strong as she adapts to a new environment.” The Biden administration has been trying for months to negotiate the release of Griner and another American jailed in Russia, Michigan corporate security executive Paul Whelan.

Leonard returns to make 1st start of season for Clippers

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kawhi Leonard is returning and starting for the first time this season against the Detroit Pistons. He has missed 12 straight games since coming off the bench in two of the first three games to begin the season. Leonard had been dealing with stiffness in his right knee, which was surgically repaired in July 2021. He missed all of last season while rehabbing. Leonard is averaging 12.5 points and 6.5 rebounds. Paul George also is starting against the Pistons despite a left hand contusion.

Manfred sure Mets-Yanks collusion query will find no issue

NEW YORK (AP) — Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred confirmed Thursday that Major League Baseball is looking into potentially improper communication between the New York Mets and Yankees regarding star free agent Aaron Judge. He says he is confident the inquiry will find no issues. The Athletic first reported MLB was investigating the teams after a story on SNY.com reported a “mutually respectful relationship” between Mets owner Steve Cohen and Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner would prevent a “high-profile bidding war” for Judge. Judge is expected to be named AL MVP on Thursday night and could command over $300 million in free agency.

Culture clash? Conservative Qatar preps for World Cup party

A recent outpouring of local anger to scenes of foreign artists and models reveling in Qatar underscored the tensions tearing at the conservative Muslim emirate. The hereditary sheikhdom restricts alcohol, bans drugs and suppresses free speech but is nonetheless preparing to welcome some of the world’s rowdiest crowds for the first World Cup in the Middle East. Human rights groups have raised concerns over how Qatari police will handle foreign fans’ violations of the country’s Islamic legal system that criminalizes public drunkenness, sex outside of marriage and homosexuality. Meanwhile, Qatar faces pressure from within to stay true to its Islamic heritage and Bedouin roots.

Women break through as World Cup play-by-play voices

The World Cup will sound different this year. Jacqui Oatley will become the first woman play-by-play commentator for U.S. World Cup telecasts. She will head one of Fox’s five broadcast teams for the tournament in Qatar that opens Sunday. Pien Meulensteen, Vicki Sparks and Robyn Cowen are among the broadcasters for matches on BBC in Britain. Meulensteen said: “Loads of people will have negative comments about women and women commentators and that’s because that’s just the way that they think. They’re not open to hearing anything different.”

Column: Why CFP expansion can’t work around the Rose Bowl

The Rose Bowl is looking for assurances amid discussions about expanding the College Football Playoff from four teams to 12. The bowl in suburban Los Angeles dates to 1902. It wants to keep its game on the afternoon of New Year’s Day each year. There are not guarantees. AP College Football Writer Ralph Russo has a solution. He says the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans should be permanent semifinals that are also played on New Year’s Day. He says it would preserve some tradition amid all the changes.

Former team psychologist settles suit with Spurs, Josh Primo

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A psychologist who worked for the San Antonio Spurs has settled her lawsuit against the team and former player Josh Primo over allegations he had exposed himself to her multiple times in private sessions.  Hillary Cauthen worked as a performance psychologist for the team. In a lawsuit filed earlier this month, she had accused the 19-year-old Primo of exposing his genitals to her nine times. Cauthen’s attorney, Tony Buzbee, said Thursday that “the parties have agreed to resolve this matter.” Details of the settlement were not disclosed.  William J. Briggs II, Primo’s attorney, declined to comment. In a statement, Spurs CEO R.C. Buford said the team has collaborated with Cauthen and other experts to “review and improve our workplace processes and procedures.”