Record-tying defeat for WNBA team

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Record-tying defeat for WNBA team

From Comcast SportsNet Monday, August 15, 2011
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Two teams headed in different directions made history on Sunday night, yet neither head coach was happy at the end. Seimone Augustus scored 16 points and the Minnesota Lynx handed the Tulsa Shock their WNBA record-tying 17th straight loss with an 82-54 victory. In a matchup of the teams with the best and worst records in the league, the Lynx (18-5) won their 11th in 12 games, while Tulsa fell to 1-22. The Shock will try to avoid setting a new record for consecutive losses when they face the Los Angeles Sparks at home next Sunday. Tulsa is tied with the Atlanta Dream, who lost the first 17 games of their inaugural 2008 season. Lindsay Whalen chipped in 12 points and nine assists for Minnesota. Sheryl Swoopes scored nine points for Tulsa, whose interim head coach, Teresa Edwards, coached her first game since she was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday. Edwards said she's still trying to find the right buttons to push since taking over when Nolan Richardson resigned last month. "It's just not a time to beat them up, it's not a time to be sad," said Edwards, whose team has lost 12 straight games since Richardson's resignation. "I've got to let them be who they are and try to just instill the most important things and be prepared for it game in and game out in hopes that I find a different tactic here to spark some growth." Minnesota matched its franchise record for victories in a season and moved one step closer to its first playoff appearance in seven years. Any combination of four Lynx wins or Los Angeles losses will put Minnesota in the playoffs. "We're a team that's striving for perfection," said Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve. "We're carrying the label of the best team in the league. With that goes a lot of responsibility every time you step on the court to play great and be the great players that they are." The Lynx shot 47.8 percent and went 13 of 20 on free throws, but Reeve was disappointed in the energy the starting five showed while trying to build on a 15-point halftime lead. "We started the (third) quarter with the ball and we turned it over. The next possession we fouled and it just kind of continued from there," Reeve said. "That group, with the exception of (Lindsay Whalen), I just didn't think played the way we had hoped coming out of the locker room." Minnesota's reserves combined for 31 points and played nearly 40 percent of the team's minutes, giving their veteran starters some much-needed rest. Maya Moore, Candice Wiggins, Jessica Adair and Monica Wright each scored nine points, and All-Star forward Rebekkah Brunson added eight points and six rebounds. After playing for four years at UConn, Moore said she understands Reeve's mentality and that she's trying to push her players to biggger things than merely winning in the regular season. "I'm very used to that mindset of not playing to the scoreboard. It's about the quality of play," Moore said. "There's just some things we have to tighten up, just continuing to stay focused every possession. That's what it's going to take to win a championship." While the Lynx have never won more than 18 games in a season, much less a playoff series, a recent nine-game winning streak showed they're clearly title contenders. "We've been thinking about a championship since the first day of training camp, honestly. But getting to a championship -- there's steps to it," Wiggins said. "It's not really a matter of getting ahead of ourselves. This is reality, so we have to be thinking of a championship. But at the same time you have to be thinking about what's right ahead of us."

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

PHOENIX - Major League Baseball intends to push forward with the process that could lead to possible rule changes involving the strike zone, installation of pitch clocks and limits on trips to the pitcher's mound. While baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope the ongoing process would lead to an agreement, he said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Union head Tony Clark said last weekend he did not foresee players agreeing to proposed changes for 2017. Under baseball's collective bargaining agreement, management can alter playing rules only with agreement from the union - unless it gives one year notice. With the one year of notice, management can make changes on its own.

"Unfortunately it now appears that there really won't be any meaningful change for the 2017 season due to a lack of cooperation from the MLBPA," Manfred said Tuesday during a news conference. "I've tried to be clear that our game is fundamentally sound, that it does not need to be fixed as some people have suggested, and I think last season was the kind of demonstration of the potential of our league to captivate the nation and of the game's unique place in American culture."

Yet, he also added: "I believe it's a mistake to stick our head in the sand and ignore the fact that our game has changed and continues to change."

Manfred said while he prefers an agreement, "I'm also not willing to walk away." He said he will send a letter to the union in the coming days and plans to continue dialogue with Clark and others in hopes of reaching agreement.

Clark met with Cactus League teams last week, five at a time over Thursday, Friday and Saturday, before departing Monday for Florida to visit each Grapefruit League club - and proposed rules changes were a topic.

"I have great respect for the labor relations process, and I have a pretty good track record for getting things done with the MLBPA," Manfred said. "I have to admit, however, that I am disappointed that we could not even get the MLBPA to agree to modest rule changes like limits on trips to the mound that have little effect on the competitive character of the game."

Clark saw talks differently.

"Unless your definition of `cooperation' is blanket approval, I don't agree that we've failed to cooperate with the commissioner's office on these issues," he wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this offseason we've been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened. I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don't continue, notwithstanding today's comments about implementation. As I've said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open."

Clark added "my understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2-minute limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of game warning/fine adjustments."

Manfred said he didn't want to share specifics of his priorities for alterations.

"There's a variety of changes that can be undertaken," Manfred said. "I'm committed to the idea that we have a set of proposals out there and we continue to discuss those proposals in private."

MLB has studied whether to restore the lower edge of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level - at the top of the kneecap. Management would like to install 20-second pitch clocks in an attempt to speed the pace of play - they have been used at Triple-A and Double-A for the past two seasons.

Players also have been against limiting mound meetings. The least controversial change appears to be allowing a team to call for an intentional walk without the pitcher having to throw pitches. In addition, MLB likely can alter some video review rules without the union's agreement- such as shortening the time a manager has to call for a review.

"Most of this stuff that they were talking about I don't think it would have been a major adjustment for us," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Manfred said starting runners on second base in extra innings sounds unlikely to be implemented in the majors. The change will be experimented with during the World Baseball Classic and perhaps at some short-season Class A leagues. Manfred said it was a special-purpose rule "beneficial in developmental leagues."

Manfred also said Tuesday that a renovated Wrigley Field would be a great choice to host an All-Star Game and Las Vegas could be a "viable market for us."

"I don't think that the presence of legalized gambling in Las Vegas should necessarily disqualify that market as a potential major league city," Manfred said.

Bulpett: Ainge 'really protective' of ability to go to free agency this summer

Bulpett: Ainge 'really protective' of ability to go to free agency this summer

Steve Bulpett joins Mike Felger to weigh in on the NBA trade deadline and the lack of moves made by Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics thus far.