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BC-AP Sports Digest

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October 2, 2013 03:15 AM EST | AP

The supervisor is Vin Cherwoo. The New York sports desk can be reached at 800 845-8450, ext. 1630; Sports Photos, ext. 1918; graphics, ext. 7636; agate, ext. 1635. AP stories, along with the photos that accompany them, also can be obtained from Reruns are available from the Service Desk (800 838-4616) or your local AP bureau. All times EDT.



Baseball's playoffs no longer are an exclusive club of high rollers. Pittsburgh, 26th among the 30 teams with a $73.6 million payroll, rolled past Cincinnati on Tuesday night and into an NL division-series matchup against St. Louis. Oakland, 27th on the spending list, won the AL West and faces Detroit. And Tampa Bay, 28th, plays the wild-card game on Wednesday night against Cleveland, 21st. Sure, some of the big spenders found their way into October, but half the playoff teams are from the bottom 50 percent in spending. By Ronald Blum. UPCOMING: 867 words by 4 a.m.


PITTSBURGH — Andrew McCutchen was in mid-answer when teammate A.J. Burnett stuck a bottle of champagne inside the jersey of the star Pittsburgh Pirates centerfielder and turned it upside down. After two decades away, playoff baseball is back in Pittsburgh. And it's not going anywhere for a while. The Pirates are heading to St. Louis for the NL division series after drumming the Cincinnati Reds 6-2 in the NL wild-card game on Tuesday night. By Will Graves. UPCOMING: 1,090 words by 4 a.m.



CHICAGO — NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is in charge of a sport coming off its best season. Yet when the Stanley Cup banner unfurled before a raucous crowd on opening night, no one dared dream the league would be as prosperous as it is. A year ago, owners locked their players out. As he embarks on another season — with Bud Selig and David Stern headed to retirement — Bettman stands to eventually become the longest-tenured commissioner in North American pro sports. Not bad for a guy whose league has endured three work stoppages since he took over. By Sports Columnist Jim Litke. UPCOMING: 892 words by 4 a.m.



When the NFL releases its schedule each year, certain matchups clearly are compelling. They stand out to players, coaches and fans — not to mention league officials and TV network executives — for one reason or another. The Manning Bowl, pitting Peyton's Broncos against younger brother Eli's Giants. Andy Reid's new team, the Chiefs, against his former one, the Eagles. Then there are those games that, before the season actually begins, appear destined to draw interest and eyeballs, but are no longer intriguing by kickoff time. By Pro Football Writer Howard Fendrich. UPCOMING: 627 words by 4 a.m.


Whatever happened to the old mantra that defense wins championships? With more rules designed to protect offensive skill players from injury, the speed of the game only increasing and the number of elite quarterbacks continuing to rise, turnovers could be more than just a defense's most important tenet. If the air-it-out trend in the NFL keeps going, takeaways might be the defense's only hope. Just ask Pittsburgh and Houston, two teams that have historically relied on stout defense and are giving up yards and points in huge chunks this season. By Pro Football Writer Dave Campbell. UPCOMING: 812 words by 4 a.m.


Sometimes it's hard to remember that NFL teams have different goals than you do as a fantasy player. Sure, you both care about winning. But NFL teams and players don't care about piling up stats the same way you do — except maybe players in contract years, and that's highly debatable. So when you're yelling at the TV for coaches to feed Chris Johnson or Stevan Ridley the rock, know that they're not listening. By Oskar Garcia. UPCOMING: 1,017 words by 4 a.m.


— ALLEN PARK, Mich. — FBN--Lions-Road Skid. By Scott Held. UPCOMING: 618 words by 4 a.m.

— FBN--Running Back By Committee. By Joe Kay. SENT: 762 words.

— PITTSBURGH — FBN--Steelers-Confidence. By Dale Grdnic. SENT: 583 words.

— BEREA, Ohio — FBN--Browns-Dominant Defense. By Tom Withers. SENT: 821 words.

— NASHVILLE, Tenn. — FBN--Titans-Locker. By Teresa M. Walker. SENT: 469 words.

— DAVIE, Fla. — FBN--Dolphins Regroup. By Steven Wine. SENT: 805 words.

— EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — FBN--Vikings Quarterbacks. By Jon Krawczynski. SENT: 629 words.

— ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — FBN--Bills-Depleted RBs. By John Wawrow. SENT: 712 words.

— JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — FBN--Jaguars-Ravens Trade. By Mark Long. SENT: 492 words.

— SANTA CLARA, Calif. — FBN--49ers-Whitner Fined. By Rick Eymer. SENT: 556 words.



CLEVELAND — Sporting sunglasses, a teal shirt and a backpack hanging from his shoulder, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon looked like a tourist as he arrived late for his news conference. Maddon didn't have time to slip into his uniform and had a valid excuse. The Rays have been on the road. In the past week, they've gone from Tampa to New York to Toronto to Texas to Cleveland, a journey covering 3,627 miles. On Wednesday night, the Rays hope to book a trip to Boston as they face the Indians in the AL wild-card game. By Tom Withers. SENT: 945 words.


— ATLANTA — BBN--Braves-Back on Top. By Paul Newberry. SENT: 767 words.

— LOS ANGELES — BBN--Dodgers. By Beth Harris. SENT: 551 words.

— ST. LOUIS — BBN--Cardinals-Carpenter. By R.B. Fallstrom. SENT: 524 words.

— BOSTON — BBA--Red Sox-Workout. SENT: 703 words.

— DETROIT — BBA--Tigers-Rotation. By Noah Trister. SENT: 671 words.

— OAKLAND, Calif. — BBA--Athletics Playoffs. By Janie McCauley. SENT: 907 words.

— BBO--Back In Business. By Noah Trister. SENT: 837 words.

— KANSAS CITY, Mo. — BBA--Royals-Yost. By Dave Skretta. SENT: 770 words.

— NEW YORK — BBA--Yankees. By Ronald Blum. SENT: 732 words.



PARK CITY, Utah — They'd show up to international ski jumping events only to be dismissed like "unwanted little sisters." No less than the president of the International Ski Federation tried to justify their exclusion from the sport by saying it could damage their reproductive organs. Lindsey Van actually had people ask if her uterus had fallen out. Hardly a surprise, then, that ski jumping's first female world champion doubted — feared, really — whether this day would ever come. Women's ski jumping will make its Olympic debut in Sochi, the culmination of a decades-long battle to have the sport included at the highest levels. By National Writer Nancy Armour. UPCOMING: 516 words by 4 a.m.


CHICAGO — Six different players scored. Corey Crawford made a bunch of key saves. There was a big penalty kill and an impressive rally. The beginning of this season looked a lot like the end of the last one for the Chicago Blackhawks. Johnny Oduya, Brandon Saad and Marian Hossa scored in the third period, and the Blackhawks kicked off their title defense with a 6-4 victory over Mikhail Grabovski and the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night. By Jay Cohen. UPCOMING: 773 words by 4 a.m.


INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Motor Speedway is giving open-wheel racing a boost this May. On Tuesday, track officials said they would add days of on-track activity to this year's schedule before running the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 10 and holding the biggest event of the IndyCar season, the Indianapolis 500, as scheduled May 25. It's Indy's answer to speed week. By Michael Marot. SENT: 913 words.


DUBLIN, Ohio — Ernie Els remembers them as being a big part of his junior golf foundation in South Africa. He referred to Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel as leaders on his junior team that traveled the country, with strong voices and a game to back it up. Oosthuizen went on to win a British Open at St. Andrews, and Schwartzel won the Masters. Branden Grace was another youngster who came through his foundation, a kid from the Garden Route with raw power who needed some polish. Now they're together on the same International team at the Presidents Cup. It's a dream for Oosthuizen and Grace, and it's a bit uneasy for the Big Easy. By Golf Writer Doug Ferguson. SENT: 938 words.


— DUBLIN, Ohio — GLF--Presidents Cup-Nicklaus. By Rusty Miller. SENT: 837 words.



TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher has no problem talking about his undefeated football team. The record is perfect for the No. 8-ranked team, but there's room for improvement. The topic of redshirt kicker Roberto Aguayo, however, is another story. Aguayo is 26 for 26 on extra points and 7 for 7 on field goals in his first four collegiate games. By Kareem Copeland. UPCOMING: 686 words by 4 a.m.


— MANHATTAN, Kan. — FBC--Kansas St-Lockett. By Adam Suderman. UPCOMING: 711 words by 4 a.m.

— EAST LANSING, Mich. — FBC--Michigan St-Confidence. By Jack Ebling. UPCOMING: 583 words by 4 a.m.

— ATHENS, Ga. — FBC--T25-Georgia-Murray's Load. By Charles Odum. SENT: 736 words.

— STANFORD, Calif. — FBC--T25-Undefeated Stanford. By Antonio Gonzalez. SENT: 769 words.

— COLUMBIA, S.C. — FBC--T25-S Carolina-Spurrier. By Pete Iacobelli. SENT: 740 words.

— FBC--Big Ten-Openers. By Dan Gelston. SENT: 919 words.



PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas — Greg Oden was watching from the sideline when the first Miami Heat practice of the season ended, big icepacks strapped to each of his knees. It's all part of the plan. Oden wants to be able to play on Oct. 29, when the two-time defending champion Heat open their season against the Chicago Bulls. It doesn't seem like having the oft-injured No. 1 pick available for that game is exactly that big a priority for Miami, which is taking a very cautious approach with the center who hasn't appeared in the NBA since 2009. By Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds. UPCOMING: 547 words by 4 a.m.


— OKLAHOMA CITY — BKC--Thunder-Westbrook Surgery. SENT: 430 words.



KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee considers the opportunity to play for a national title in its home state the perfect chance to end its Final Four drought. The Lady Vols opened practice this week with five of their top six scorers back from a team that went 27-8 last year and lost in a regional final for the third straight season. Tennessee hasn't reached a Final Four since its 2008 national championship, the Lady Vols' longest absence from that event since the NCAA started running the tournament in 1982. This year's Final Four takes place in Nashville, about a three-hour drive from Tennessee's campus. By Steve Megargee. UPCOMING: 618 words by 4 a.m.



— WASHINGTON — Government Shutdown-Sports. By Howard Fendrich. SENT: 429 words.

— BRISBANE, Australia — TEN--Brisbane International-Williams. SENT: 130 words.

— BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — TEN--Nalbandian Retires. SENT: 281 words.

— ANTWERP, Belgium — GYM--Worlds. By Raf Casert. SENT: 468 words.

— SANDY, Utah — SOC--US Open Cup. By John Coon. SENT: 516 words.

— MELBOURNE, Australia — TEN--Australian Open-Prize Money. SENT: 254 words.

— CHARLOTTE, N.C. — CAR--NASCAR-Piquet Fined. SENT: 356 words.

— BOX--Tyson-Fighter Poaching. By Tim Dahlberg. SENT: 693 words.


Wednesday's Time Schedule


AL Wild Card: Tampa Bay at Cleveland, 8:07 p.m.


Toronto at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

Buffalo at Detroit, 8 p.m.

Anaheim at Colorado, 9:30 p.m.