Other Sports

Sports briefs: Nov. 22

Major League Baseball

Tigers' Verlander first starter in 25 years to be named MVP

Detroit's Justin Verlander became the first starting pitcher in a quarter-century voted Most Valuable Player, adding it to the Cy Young Award he won last week. Verlander earned the American League MVP honor Monday, receiving 13 of 28 first-place votes and 280 points in voting announced by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

"Obviously pitchers are not just written off all of a sudden because they're pitchers," Verlander said.

Boston center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury was second with four firsts and 242 points, followed by Toronto right fielder Jose Bautista with five firsts and 231 points, Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson with 215 and Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera with 193.

"Not even in my wildest dreams had I thought of this," Verlander said. "I want to say this is a dream come true. I can't say that because my dream had already had come true ... to win a Cy Young. And the next dream is to win a World Series. This wasn't even on my radar until the talk started. And then all of a sudden it was a this-could-actually-happen type of thing."

Verlander won the AL's pitching triple crown, going 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA and 250 strikeouts, the most wins in the major leagues since Oakland's Bob Welch went 27-6 in 1990. Verlander pitched his second career no-hitter at Toronto on May 7.

Last week, he was a unanimous Cy Young winner. On Monday, he became the first pitcher voted MVP since Oakland's Dennis Eckersley in 1992 and the first starting pitcher since Boston's Roger Clemens in 1986.

The NL MVP winner will be announced Tuesday.

Mariners outfielder Halman killed

Seattle Mariners outfielder Greg Halman was stabbed to death early Monday in the Netherlands and his brother was arrested as a suspect, Dutch police said. Rotterdam Police spokeswoman Patricia Wessels said police were called to a home in the port city in the early hours of the morning and found the 24-year-old Dutch player bleeding from a stab wound. The officers and ambulance paramedics were unable to resuscitate Halman.

Wessels said the officers arrested Halman's 22-year-old brother. She declined to give his name, in line with Dutch privacy rules.

"He is under arrest and right now he is being questioned," Wessels told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "It will take some time to figure out what exactly happened."

No charges have been filed in the case.

Halman hit .230 in 35 games and made starts at all three outfield positions for the Mariners in 2011 before being optioned to Triple-A Tacoma.

MLB, players to announce new labor deal

Major League Baseball and its players' association called a Tuesday news conference to announce a new labor contract. The sides were working Monday to sign a memorandum of understanding on the five-year deal, which replaces one set to expire Dec. 11.

NHL

Crosby scores four points in return

Sidney Crosby scored twice and added two assists in his season debut and the Pittsburgh Penguins crushed the visiting New York Islanders 5-0 on Monday night.

Playing his first game in more than 10 months while recovering from concussion-like symptoms, Crosby appeared to be in mid-season form. He scored on his third shift in spectacular fashion, weaving through the New York defense before beating Anders Nilsson with a backhand for his first goal since last December.

Crosby added assists on goals by Evgeni Malkin and Brooks Orpik and capped his comeback with a second tally, a backhand that fluttered by Nilsson in the third period to provide the final margin.

College Cross Country

EKU 26th in first NCAA appearance

Some cross country coaches never make it to the NCAA Cross Country Championships. Rick Erdmann, in his 33rd year at Eastern Kentucky, did so Monday in Terre Haute, Ind.

His Colonels finished 26th in the nation. In addition, EKU senior Lydia Kosgei earned All-America honors in the women's race.

"I think we obviously could have done better," Erdmann said of his men, who entered the meet ranked 19th in the nation. "But we didn't run very well (individuals) four, five, six, seven. We got beat by some teams that we beat earlier in the year — Ohio State, Notre Dame, Tulsa. ... But maybe (we put) so much effort in the regional."

Top-ranked Wisconsin won the men's team title with 97 points. Two-time defending champion Oklahoma State was second. EKU scored 589 and beat among others, both Southeastern Conference entrants. Georgia came in 29th, Florida 30th.

"I hope it's a positive," Erdmann said of EKU's result, "and to keep moving in the right direction."

NASCAR

Roush doesn't expect to keep Ragan

Team owner Jack Roush can't envision a scenario that would keep driver David Ragan at Roush Fenway Racing next year. But Roush did assert that newly crowned Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne will have places in the organization in 2012.

"Right now I don't see having something for David next year," Roush told Sporting News on Monday at a breakfast celebrating Stenhouse's title and Roush Fenway's owners championship with the No. 60 Ford. "We aren't far enough along. ... There are some discussions ongoing, but they aren't far enough along that I would put more than a 40 percent chance of having something for David."

UPS, Ragan's sponsor, already has announced it will be shifting its backing to an associate's role with Sprint Cup runner-up Carl Edwards next season. Ragan is in the third year of a three-year contract, but Roush has an option on his services.

From the sound of it, that option won't be exercised.

"David Ragan was a frustration and a disappointment for all of us, because he was not able to realize the potential that he had, given what his skill is and what the expectation of the sponsor were and what the performance that was being demonstrated in the car and in the engineering package was," Roush said.

Drew Blickensderfer, Ragan's crew chief, is leaving RFR to fill the same role on Jeff Burton's No. 31 Chevrolet at Richard Childress Racing, Foxsports.com reported Monday.

■ NASCAR's Truck Series series will run 22 races next season, down from 25 this year. Kentucky Speedway's two race dates for the Truck Series in 2012 are June 28 and Sept. 21.

NBA

Man arrested after dispute with Rondo

A man accused of taking a swing at Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo inside a Lowell, Mass., nightclub was released on personal recognizance. Eric Valarezo, of Haverhill, Mass., said he's innocent of a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge but had no further comment. Authorities said the 31-year-old Valarezo was arrested just before 2 a.m. Saturday at Brian's Ivy Hall. No one was hurt. Club manager Kevin Hayhurst said Rondo and several others, including fellow NBA players, were part of a crowd leaving just before closing time and didn't seem to be acting improperly. Valarezo said Rondo pushed him and that he reacted in self-defense.

The last word

After a humiliating 35-8 loss at Miami on Sunday, the Buffalo Bills' downward spiral has no end in sight. Coach Chan Gailey said:

"If you're not upset at what's happened to us, going from 5-2 to 5-5, you better get out of the business, and I told the players that. Just pack it up, take your money and go home, because if you're satisfied with being a loser, you ought not to play the game."

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