^Wednesday's games<

(TNS)

Tribune News Service

Sports Budget for Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Updated at 11 p.m. EDT (0300 UTC)

This budget is now available at http://www.TribuneNewsService.com, with direct links to stories and art. See details at the end of the budget.

^TOP STORIES<

^Da story behind Da Bears — and how the sausage-eating, Mike Ditka-obsessed, Chicago-aggrandizing Super Fans are still part of Chicago sports today<

^FBN-BEARS-SUPERFANS-SPORTSPLUS:TB—<At the time he crafted the characters that first appeared in a 1991 "Saturday Night Live" sketch, Robert Smigel wasn't sure if anyone outside of Chicago would appreciate the four sausage-eating, Mike Ditka-obsessed, Chicago-aggrandizing men that made up "Bill Swerski's Super Fans."

Twenty-eight years later, the characters — also played by actors Chris Farley and Mike Myers in the '90s — remain among the most notable pop-culture figures in the Bears 100-season history. Their catchphrase — "Da Bearsss" — has become an almost reflexive response among Chicagoans when talking about their football team. And the roles have given Smigel and George Wendt a laundry list of experiences any Chicago sports fan would find fascinating.

3050 by Colleen Kane and Chris Boghossian in Chicago. MOVED

PHOTOS

^Cowboys make Ezekiel Elliott richest back in NFL history with $90M contract<

FBN-COWBOYS-ELLIOTT:FT — And just like that, the drama of the summer is over.

Ezekiel Elliott is a holdout no more.

That contract, yeah, he's got to be happy about that too.

That's because Elliott and the Cowboys agreed to a long-term contract extension late Tuesday.

The deal is for $90 million over six years with a whopping $50 million guaranteed added on the two years remaining on his rookie deal, keeping him in a Cowboys uniform until at least 2026.

750 by Clarence E. Hill Jr. in Dallas. MOVED

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^BASEBALL<

^Paul Sullivan: Joe Maddon's future takes center stage as Cubs enter final weeks of season<

BBN-SULLIVAN-COLUMN:TB — After the Cubs beat the Mets, 10-7, last week at Citi Field, reporters crammed into the small office reserved for the visiting manager.

Sitting on a couch in the back of the room, as he often does after games, was Cubs President Theo Epstein.

Manager Joe Maddon was giddy about the win, despite watching Kyle Hendricks and the Cubs bullpen inexplicably turn an early nine-run lead into a nail-biter.

"We were awesome the first three innings," Maddon said with a grin.

950 by Paul Sullivan in Chicago. MOVED

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^Mets protect big lead and defeat Nationals to take series<

^BBN-METS-NATIONALS:HK—<New York hung on and won, 8-4, to clinch a 4-2 road trip after suffering a six-game skid at home. They still might not make the postseason, but they displayed some fortitude on Wednesday afternoon at Nationals Park.

550 by Justin Toscano in Washington. MOVED

^Bob Brookover: Time will tell if Johnny Almaraz's tenure as Phillies scouting director was successful or not<

BBN-BROOKOVER-COLUMN:PH — Johnny Almaraz voluntarily stepped down as the Phillies director of scouting Tuesday and his departure from that role is unlikely to lend itself to any sentimental sendoffs. He will remain with the club in a different scouting capacity. By comparison to his predecessor Marti Wolever, who was with the organization for two decades before being shown the door after drafting Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins in 2014, Almaraz was only around for a short time.

Five years is barely enough time to evaluate his first two drafts, let alone his entire body of work. Plus, in this era of analytics, it's difficult to tell exactly how much influence an old-school scout like Almaraz had in the Phillies' selections since the 2015 season.

1000 by Bob Brookover in Philadelphia. MOVED

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^Yankees' bullpen ices Rangers, Aaron Judge homers again in victory<

BBA-RANGERS-YANKEES:HK — Another night of power in the Bronx, another victory for the Yankees.

Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres both homered and the Yankees' parade of pitchers stifled the Texas Rangers in a 4-1 victory before 36,082 at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.

The Yankees won the series and are now 8-2 in their last 10 games after going 1-5 in their previous six contests.

They now hit the road for a 10-game road trip, starting with a four-game series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

550 by Chris Iseman in New York. MOVED

^Phillies' wild-card chase suffers in loss to Reds<

^BBN-PHILLIES-REDS:PH—<Aaron Nola put the Phillies in a five-run hole, and despite a valiant comeback to tie the game in the seventh inning, the bullpen gave up two late home runs in an 8-5 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. The Phillies slid three games behind the idle Chicago Cubs for the second wild-card berth in the National League.

700 by Scott Lauber in Cincinnati. MOVED

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^Pirates rally in ninth to walk off vs. Marlins<

BBN-MARLINS-PIRATES:MI — Garrett Cooper almost did it again.

With the Miami Marlins locked in a tie ballgame late against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cooper turned on a slider and sent it over the center-field wall at PNC Park for a go-ahead home run.

But the cushion from Cooper's seventh-inning home run was only temporary, as the Pirates capped a three-run ninth-inning with a Bryan Reynolds walk-off, two-run single against Jose Urena to escape with a 6-5 victory.

450 by Jordan McPherson in Pittsburgh. MOVED

PHOTOS

Wednesday's games

TNS expects coverage from the following games:

Chicago White Sox at Cleveland, 7:10 p.m.

Minnesota at Boston, 7:10 p.m.

San Francisco at St. Louis, 7:45 p.m.

Detroit at Kansas City, 8:15 p.m.

San Diego at Arizona, 9:40 p.m.

LA Angels at Oakland, 10:07 p.m.

Colorado at LA Dodgers, 10:10 p.m.

^NFL<

^AFC preview: No Rob Gronkowski, no problem for Patriots; love for new Broncos Vic Fangio<

^FBN-AFC-PREVIEW:PH—<Here is a look at the AFC with teams listed in projected order of finish.

2950 by Ed Barkowitz. MOVED

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^NFC preview: How the Eagles stack up against the rest of the conference<

^FBN-NFC-PREVIEW:PH—<Here is a look at the NFC with teams listed in projected order of finish.

2750 by Ed Barkowitz. MOVED

^Untested Noteboom, Allen look to make seamless transition to starting roles<

FBN-RAMS-OFFENSIVE-LINE:LA — They practiced football's cruelest position as one, with steps that seemed choreographed and blocks that were synchronized.

Brian Allen, Austin Blythe and Rob Havenstein performed the drill near one hash mark. Joe Noteboom and Andrew Whitworth mirrored them from the other.

They executed another set of precious preseason practice reps together — a reconfigured offensive line reaching for perfection.

These are the members of the Rams' front five.

1050 by Jack Harris in Los Angeles. MOVED

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^Larry Stone: How can the Seahawks, UW and WSU get to the next level?<

^FBO-STONE-COLUMN:SE—<The Seahawks' season-ending loss to Dallas in last year's playoffs had barely ended when coach Pete Carroll began gushing about how the Seahawks had the right group assembled to ascend back to championship level. Perhaps that was merely to distract from the criticism of their run-heavy offensive game plan but Carroll has continued that tune into the preseason, even as concerns over Seattle's pass rush and secondary ramp up.

1400 by Larry Stone. MOVED

^Dieter Kurtenbach: Why the Raiders were right to fine Antonio Brown<

^FBN-KURTENBACH-COLUMN:SJ—<We should have known that nothing will ever be calm when it comes to AB.

Per the wide receiver's oft-used Instagram page, Brown received a letter from the Raiders fining him nearly $54,000 for missing that Aug. 18 practice and a walk-through for the Raiders' preseason "home" game in Winnipeg.

850 by Dieter Kurtenbach. MOVED

^Le'Veon Bell's message to Adam Gase: 'Don't hold back' in Jets' season opener<

FBN-JETS-BELL:ND Le'Veon Bell doesn't want the Jets to be cautious with him anymore.

Bell, who didn't play in the preseason, told head coach Adam Gase to use him as much as he wants in Sunday's opener against the Bills, Gase said.

"When I spoke to him yesterday he said, 'Don't hold back,'" Gase said Wednesday morning. "He feels like he's ready to go. I think he's pretty excited to get out there."

250 by Al Iannazzone in Florham Park, N.J. MOVED

^Ravens coach John Harbaugh denies having contact with Dolphins before Brian Flores was hired<

FBN-RAVENS-HARBAUGH-DOLPHINS:FL — Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh emphatically denied having had any contact with the Miami Dolphins about their vacant head coaching job before Brian Flores was hired this offseason.

Harbaugh, who was reportedly interested in coaching the Dolphins while negotiating a contract extension with the Ravens, was asked during a conference call with the South Florida media Wednesday whether the team reached out to him or his agent regarding the coaching job.

"No," Harbaugh said as the Ravens and Dolphins prepare for Sunday's regular-season opener at Hard Rock Stadium.

300 by Safid Deen in Davie, Fla. MOVED

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^Gators coach Dan Mullen: Jachai Polite a cautionary tale for NFL early entry candidates<

FBN-JETS-POLITE:OS — UF coach Dan Mullen said he hated to see what happened to former Gator pass rusher Jachai Polite.

Mullen also hopes his players were watching.

The New York Jets' decision to cut Polite last week after selecting him with the No. 68 pick in April came just months after Mullen questioned the wisdom of so many players leaving school early for the NFL.

400 by Edgar Thompson in Gainesville, Fla. MOVED

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^Manish Mehta: Did the Jets outsmart Bill Belichick by signing Patriots castoff Braxton Berrios?<

FBN-MEHTA-COLUMN:NY — Bill Belichick has made a living turning no-names into contributors during the Patriots' annoying two-decade run of dominance. Truth be told, it's amazing how many seemingly Average Joe's have become difference makers inside the gates of football's Evil Empire.

But did the Jets just outsmart Belichick by picking up one of the Hoodie's castoffs?

750 by Manish Mehta in New York. MOVED

^Greg Cote's Thursday night NFL pick<

^FBN-THURSDAY-PICK:MI—<Greg Cote kicks off the 2019 NFL season with his Thursday night Bears-Packers pick.

350 by Greg Cote. MOVED

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^Life without Gronk means new chapter in Patriots-Steelers rivalry<

FBN-STEELERS-PATRIOTS:PJ — You can imagine Mike Tomlin's reaction when Rob Gronkowski announced his retirement on March 25. The Pittsburgh Steelers head coach probably took a deep breath, exhaled and smiled from ear-to-ear.

Tomlin's long-lived, national nightmare was over.

750 by Mark Daniels in Foxborough, Mass. MOVED

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^Falcons' Ryan ready for 12th season, Jones' deal to get done<

FBN-FALCONS:AT — Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan also is waiting to celebrate the news of wide receiver Julio Jones' pending contract extension.

"Well, it would mean everything to me," Ryan said Wednesday. "He's been such a huge part of my career up until this point. He's been so consistent. His production is through the roof. Obviously, he's an unbelievable teammate. He's a great friend."

800 by D. Orlando Ledbetter in Flowery Branch, Ga. MOVED

^'The thrill is still there' for Panthers QB Cam Newton as he enters his 9th season<

^FBN-PANTHERS-NEWTON:CH—<"I feel like a rookie again," Newton said Wednesday. "I'm having fun, feeling good. And the thrill is still there, man."

That may not seem like much on the surface, but Newton's joy runs deep — and it had been in peril the last two weeks as the season drew near.

950 by Brendan Marks in Charlotte, N.C. MOVED

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^Sam Farmer's Thursday night NFL pick<

^FBN-THURSDAY-PICK:LA—<Green Bay at Chicago.

50 by Sam Farmer. MOVED

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^Joe Manniello's Thursday night NFL pick<

^FBN-THURSDAY-PICK:ND—< Joe Manniello makes his Thursday night NFL pick.

250 by Joe Manniello. MOVED

^Barry Jackson: Even Dolphins' best players have been asked to change. Here's how.<

FBN-JACKSON-COLUMN:MI — Twenty-three veterans who started games for last season's Dolphins were either jettisoned during the past eights months or left on their own volition. That's a staggering number.

But even those who remain had to learn new jobs, and that starts with Xavien Howard, the best player on the team.

It's difficult to find a team where more returning players have been asked to make as many changes — in position, technique or approach — as these Dolphins.

750 by Barry Jackson in Miami. MOVED

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^Sam Farmer: NFL season kicks off with Packers-Bears, questions on pass-interference replay<

^FBN-FARMER-COLUMN:LA—<As the NFL prepares to kick off the 2019 season, one aspect of the game unquestionably is in flux and figures to be for a while.

Coaches, players, officials and fans are still adjusting to a controversial new rule that might or might not clarify the sport's most debated infraction.

For one season only — starting officially with Thursday night's opener between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers — instant replay has been expanded to include pass interference called or not called on the field.

750 by Sam Farmer in Chicago. MOVED

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^From 'Zeke who' to Jerry who: Ezekiel Elliott's draining journey to record-setting contract<

FBN-COWBOYS-ELLIOTT-REACT:FT — From Zeke who to Jerry who?

That's the $90 million rhetorical question after a dramatic and controversy-filled holdout by Dallas Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott that lasted a biblical 40 days and included one final night of consternation.

After flying to Dallas-Fort Worth from Cabo, met by a throng of cameras and reporters and in anticipation of finally getting a deal done, Elliott went to bed Tuesday night in a bad place.

He was mentally and physically drained and deflated by a sudden pause in negotiations.

1100 by Clarence E. Hill Jr. in Frisco, Texas. MOVED

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^Tampa Super Bowl host committee looks ahead to an event 'unlike any other'<

FBN-TAMPA-SUPERBOWL:PT — Organizers stopped just short Wednesday of calling Super Bowl LV the Derrick Brooks Super Bowl, because No. 55 is co-chairing the local host committee.

That, however, is just one way the 2021 game will be different from Tampa's four previous Super Bowls in 1984, 1991, 2001 and 2009.

600 by Richard Danielson in Tampa, Fla. MOVED

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^Tom Brady remembers being in rookie QB Jarrett Stidham's shoes<

FBN-PATRIOTS-BRADY-STIDHAM:PJ — When Jarrett Stidham was born, Tom Brady was a 19-year-old redshirt freshman at Michigan. By the time Stidham was old enough to drive, Brady had already won three Super Bowl titles and owned two NFL MVP awards.

There might be a large age gap between Brady, 42, and this 23-year-old rookie, but that doesn't mean Brady can't relate. On Wednesday, the Patriots quarterback took a trip down memory lane when asked about his feelings on Stidham, who beat out his friend Brian Hoyer for the Patriots backup quarterback job.

450 by Mark Daniels in Foxborough, Mass. MOVED

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^Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown chooses a helmet<

^FBN-RAIDERS-BROWN-HELMET:SJ—<The long regional nightmare is over. Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown has decided on a helmet.

Brown will wear the Xenith Shadow this season, according to a statement released by Xenith on Wednesday. Xenith refers to the Shadow as its flagship product.

Brown, acquired from the Pittsburgh Steelers during the offseason, has been looking for a new helmet to replace the one he wore in his first nine NFL seasons. The NFL ruled that Brown's old helmet did not meet the league's safety standards. Brown's attention to his helmet situation resulted in diminished practice time during training camp for the seven-time Pro Bowler.

250 by Gary Peterson. MOVED

^Lions QB's wife opens up about brain surgery: 'I'm relearning how to walk again'<

FBN-LIONS-STAFFORD-SURGERY:DTN — With so much at stake, Kelly Stafford was fearful of what her future might hold.

Kelly, wife of Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, had a 12-hour surgical procedure in April to remove a benign brain tumor called acoustic neuroma. The duration of the procedure, initially planned to last six hours at University of Michigan Hospital, doubled because of complications the doctors encountered during surgery.

Her recovery has been steady and after initially being limited to barely walking, she is getting back to normal, including some kickboxing and rigorous activities.

550 by Rod Beard in Detroit. MOVED

^Jaguars QB Nick Foles has sore abdominal, expected to play against Chiefs<

FBN-JAGUARS-FOLES:JK — Quarterback Nick Foles was listed on the Jaguars' estimated injury report on Wednesday because of a sore abdominal oblique muscle.

The injury occurred last week and Foles is expected to play Sunday against Kansas City, the franchise said.

Foles' only preseason action came in Week 3 when he played four series against the Miami Dolphins and completed 6 of 10 passes for 48 yards and threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Dede Westbrook during the Jaguars' 22-7 loss.

250 by John Reid in Jacksonville, Fla. MOVED

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^Is everybody 'all over America' ready to see 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo?<

FBN-49ERS-GAROPPOLO:SJ — Jimmy Garoppolo obviously is excited for his comeback's launch party this Sunday in the 49ers season opener at Tampa. He's not the only one.

"Everybody is," right tackle Mike McGlinchey said Wednesday. "Not just here, but everybody all over America is ready to see what Jimmy can do.

"We expect nothing but great things from him this week."

450 by Cam Inman in Santa Clara, Calif. MOVED

^NBA<

^Kristian Winfield: Team USA needs to solve a puzzle without the right pieces<

^BKO-WINFIELD-COLUMN:NY—<Team USA came away with an overtime win over Turkey in their FIBA World Cup match-up on Tuesday, but they didn't look like the team that has dominated international play much of this decade. Instead, the United States looked like a team trying to figure themselves out on the fly, a roster full of replacements for the superstars who backed out. Team USA needs to get itself on track. The games will only be tougher from here.

800 by Kristian Winfield. MOVED

^Dwight Howard wants his actions, not his words, to speak for him<

BKN-LAKERS-HOWARD:LA — The last time Dwight Howard came to Los Angeles to be a Laker, he did so with a big smile and personality to match. This time, he wants to speak less and do more.

"I'd rather show you guys than say it," Howard replied when asked what he'd learned about himself this summer. "So, I'd rather my actions be something you can critique instead of just on words. I've always said a lot of words, but I'd just rather show you guys."

Seven years after trading for him in hopes of building a championship team, the Lakers have re-acquired Howard with a more modest ask.

600 by Tania Ganguli in Los Angeles. MOVED

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^Bill Plaschke: Dwight Howard's actions will speak louder than words in second chance with Lakers<

BKN-PLASCHKE-COLUMN:LA — When Dwight Howard was last seen in a Lakers uniform, he was abandoning the team.

It was in the spring of 2013, the third quarter of a playoff-sweeping victory by the San Antonio Spurs. Howard had just whined his way into a second technical foul and an ejection. When the Lakers needed him most, he was walking away through a Staples Center tunnel, disappearing again.

"This is like a nightmare," he said at the time. "This is like a bad dream and I couldn't wake up out of it."

The nightmare is officially back.

1050 by Bill Plaschke in Los Angeles. MOVED

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^NHL<

^Luke DeCock: Goalie Petr Mrazek still the Carolina Hurricanes' wild card<

HKN-DECOCK-COLUMN:RA — For all that is different for the Carolina Hurricanes from one year ago, and the changes over the past 12 months are multifold, everything still circles back to the same player.

Petr Mrazek.

Not to put it all on the goalie's shoulders, but some of it's unavoidable.

600 by Luke DeCock in Raleigh, N.C. MOVED

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^Niklas Kronwall's emotions hit hard at retirement: 'There are other things in life'<

HKN-REDWINGS-KRONWALL:DE — Niklas Kronwall isn't sure he's ready to appear in an alumni game as soon as this month, but going to training camp in any capacity eases the emotional decision to retire.

Kronwall fought back tears a handful of times as he spoke Wednesday at Little Caesars Arena, dressed in street clothes rather than athletic gear.

It was the day after he announced his professional playing career was over after 15 seasons and 953 games with the Detroit Red Wings, though he'd known this day was coming for "a long time," he said.

750 by Helene St. James in Detroit. MOVED

^COLLEGE FOOTBALL<

^Mac Engel: Don't worry Texas A&M, Las Vegas isn't a fan of Texas this weekend either<

FBC-ENGEL-COLUMN:FT — The AP poll has shared its views on the current state of football in Texas, and the ultimate validator has given its most updated verdict on the great game in the great state.

When Las Vegas speaks, listen with your ears first, and allow that to guide your wallet.

Texas' flagship school, the University of Texas, and its sister school, Texas A&M, have both been given notice that Las Vegas thinks neither is an elite football program this year. Elite as in Top Five, and this year as in right now.

400 by Mac Engel in Fort Worth, Texas. MOVED

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^Hurricane Dorian not expected to affect Miami's ACC opener at UNC, so Manny Diaz gets his shot at Mack Brown<

FBC-MIAMI-UNC:FL — With Miami coach Manny Diaz set to lead his Hurricanes in an ACC game for the first time and face off against another mentor, Diaz fully expects the Saturday 8 p.m. kickoff to go on as scheduled — despite Hurricane Dorian accelerating up the East Coast toward the Carolinas on Wednesday.

750 by David Furones in Coral Gables, Fla. MOVED

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^Matt Baker: How much credit should Florida Gators get for beating Miami?<

FBC-BAKER-COLUMN:PT — As Florida prepared to face Miami as the marquee kickoff to college football's 150th anniversary, the Gators savored all the perks that came with the national spotlight.

They got days' worth of hype leading up to the biggest and only major game in the country.

Now they're experiencing the other side of that undivided attention: Criticism.

600 by Matt Baker in Gainesville, Fla. MOVED

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^Rob Oller: Cincinnati game will reveal a lot about Ohio State's football team<

FBC-OLLER-COLUMN:OH — Every college football team has a turning point in its season — a single play, series or entire game that changes the way the team views itself.

Don't be surprised if Ohio State's before-and-after moment comes Saturday against Cincinnati. By the time the Bearcats exit the Horseshoe, OSU should know what kind of team it has.

650 by Rob Oller in Columbus, Ohio. MOVED

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^Drone was flown over Michigan Stadium during game; two arrested<

FBC-MICHIGAN-DRONE:DTN — Richard Sheridan was glancing around Michigan Stadium and happened to look up during Michigan's season opener last Saturday night, when something strange caught his attention.

Sheridan, a season-ticket holder, spotted a drone. It is illegal to fly drones on the University of Michigan campus. There were two individuals arrested for the drone activity, according to Melissa Overton, the University of Michigan deputy chief of police. The ordinance violation was reported Saturday at 10:17 p.m.

600 by Angelique S. Chengelis in Ann Arbor, Mich. MOVED

^COLLEGE BASKETBALL<

^Court denies NCAA's access to evidence in federal case<

^BKC-NCAA-RULING:RA—<A federal ruling on Tuesday could help some major college basketball programs avoid trouble with the NCAA.

However, the decision of U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan to deny the NCAA access to evidence related to the criminal case of the three men found guilty of fraud in the Adidas pay-for-play scandal is unlikely to affect N.C. State with its ongoing NCAA issues.

650 by Joe Giglio. MOVED

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^WOMEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL<

^Next installment of UConn-South Carolina set for Feb. 10<

BKW-SCAROLINA-UCONN:HC — With just over two months to go until the basketball season tips off, another piece of the puzzle that is the UConn women's team's 2019-2020 schedule is now in place.

South Carolina announced Wednesday that the Gamecocks will host UConn at Colonial Life Arena on Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. The exact time will be announced at a later date.

The Gamecocks, slotted four spots behind UConn at No. 7 in ESPN bracketologist Charlie Creme's most recent preseason rankings, lost seven players from last year but return several key pieces and boast the top recruiting class in the country.

300 by Alexa Philippou in Hartford, Conn. MOVED

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^TENNIS<

^Belinda Bencic tops Donna Vekic to reach US Open semifinals<

TEN-USOPEN-BENCIC:ND — This time last summer, Belinda Bencic was still trying to figure it all out.

Once labeled the future of women's tennis, Bencic's promising career had been derailed by a series of injuries, including a wrist injury in 2017 that caused her to miss five months and fall outside the top 300.

She lost in the first round of last year's U.S. Open and as recently as last fall found herself bouncing between WTA events and lesser tournaments in places like Tyler, Texas.

500 by Barbara Barker in New York. MOVED

^Elina Svitolina looking to take major step vs. Serena Williams in US Open semis<

TEN-USOPEN-SVITOLINA:ND — For Elina Svitolina, it's been a steady progression to get into the game's upper echelon. Thursday she will know for sure she has arrived when she meets Serena Williams in the semifinals of the U.S. Open.

Svitolina is ranked No. 5 in the world and has won a tour-high nine titles since 2017. The biggest of those was the 2018 WTA Tour championship, beating Sloane Stephens in the final in Singapore.

Svitolina reached her first Grand Slam semifinal at Wimbledon in July, losing to champion Simona Halep.

350 by Jeff Williams in New York. MOVED

^Matteo Berrettini becomes second Italian man to reach US Open semis<

TEN-USOPEN-BERRETTINI:ND — The last time, the only time, an Italian man made the semifinals of the U.S. Open, the tournament was at Forest Hills on a Har-Tru court. It was 1977 and Corrado Barazzuti found himself up against Jimmy Connors, who dispatched him in three sets.

More than four decades later, another Italian man, 23-year-old Matteo Berrettini, has powered his way into the semis of the U.S. Open with a dramatic fifth-set tiebreak victory over Gael Monfils.

550 by Jeff Williams in New York. MOVED

^SOCCER<

^No Messi, no thanks: the challenges of staging a soccer friendly<

^SOC-FRIENDLIES-MESSI:LA—<It's not quite noon on a Monday, just the start of the work week, but Rodger Champagne already looks tired as he slides behind a table in a darkened restaurant dining room a couple of blocks from the Coliseum. The Canadian TV and music producer is four months into his first try at putting on an international soccer match and it's not going well.

"After I do this thing, I think I'll go run for prime minister of Canada," he said with a wan smile. "It's got to be easier to run a country than promoting these soccer games."

Especially after Lionel Messi, the marquee player for Thursday's Argentina-Chile game, was suspended from playing in the match two months after Champagne agreed to stage it, leaving him with 77,500 tickets to sell and no headliner to sell them with.

1000 by Kevin Baxter in Los Angeles. MOVED

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^HIGH SCHOOLS<

^Aaron Rodgers donates 354 new helmets to California high schools, including Paradise<

FBH-FBN-CALIF-RODGERS-HELMETS:SA — Aaron Rodgers is a giver, particularly to his native roots.

The Green Bay Packers quarterback, who grew up in Chico, purchased and gifted 375 football helmets — the VICIS ZERO1 models — to Chico High, Paradise High and Pleasant Valley, his alma mater.

This helmet was rated the best in the business by NFL/NFLPA laboratory testing for three successive seasons.

Rodgers made the donation through his Aaron Rodgers Foundation. It's another meaningful gesture to for the people of Paradise, a town leveled by the Camp Fire that ravaged much of Butte County.

350 by Joe Davidson in Sacramento, Calif. MOVED

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^FANTASY SPORTS<

^Five easy ways to make your fantasy football league better<

^FBN-FANTASY-LEAGUESUGGESTIONS:SD—<Eddie Brown offers five suggestions to make your fantasy football league better this season and beyond.

450 by Eddie Brown. MOVED

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^10 bold predictions for the 2019 fantasy football season<

^FBN-FANTASY-PREDICTIONS:SD—<Eddie Brown makes his bold fantasy predictions for the upcoming season.

250 by Eddie Brown. MOVED

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^Top undrafted fantasy players to add for Week 1<

^FBN-FANTASY-ADD-DROP:SD—<Each week I'll list the best widely available free agents for fantasy football — I define "widely available" as being owned in around half of all ESPN or Yahoo leagues — and some guys who are probably better off in the free-agent pool than collecting dust on your roster.

This week I'd like to highlight players who will likely have value this season, but went undrafted in most standard leagues (average draft position courtesy of Fantasy Pros).

450 by Eddie Brown. MOVED

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^OUTDOORS<

^Minnesotan Alex Robinson is newly in charge of venerable Outdoor Life<

OTD-OUTDOORLIFE-ROBINSON:MS — Alex Robinson wouldn't be surprised if in the past month the ghosts of Ernest Hemingway, Zane Grey, Teddy Roosevelt and Aldo Leopold, among many other celebrated writers, artists and conservationists, have peered over his shoulder.

Robinson, 31, who lives in the Twin Cities, was appointed editor-in-chief of Outdoor Life magazine July 29, placing him in charge of perhaps the nation's most venerable hunting and fishing periodical.

In its more than 120-year history, Outdoor Life has published the writings of some of America's most famous sons and daughters, Hemingway, Grey, Roosevelt and Leopold among them, as well as Clark Gable, Babe Ruth and Amelia Earhart.

900 by Dennis Anderson in Minneapolis. MOVED

^Brad Dokken: Annual waterfowl status report offers yet another sign of fall<

OTD-DOKKEN-COLUMN:GF — The signs of fall are tough to miss as the Dog Days of August have moved toward September. The days have grown noticeably shorter, there's a crisp bite in the air many mornings and many outdoors enthusiasts are turning their thoughts away from fishing and gearing up for hunting.

Anticipation for October — the best month of the year for many of us — is beginning to build. Waterfowl and upland seasons are in full swing, and for those who don't put away their fishing rods, October can be prime time for trophy fish.

Looking back over the years, many of my biggest walleyes have come in October.

750 by Brad Dokken in Grand Forks, N.D. MOVED

^Damming question: Can beaver and trout coexist?<

OTD-BEAVER-TROUT:DU — Josh Dumke was squatting in the grass, just out of the stream, carefully holding a tiny brook trout in one hand and a syringe in the other.

It looked like the little fish, sleepy and calm after a quick bath in water spiked with clove oil, was about to get an insulin shot, or maybe a tetanus booster.

Instead, Dumke was injecting a dab of paint just under the fish's scales, a marker that would identify the trout as being caught below beaver dam No. 3 in this stretch of river and above beaver dam No. 4.

After it woke up, the little trout was set back in the river to swim away, sporting its temporary tattoo.

1450 by John Myers in Along The French River, Minn. MOVED

PHOTO

^Virginia anglers angry over new catch limits on striped bass, say tournaments are in jeopardy<

^OTD-VIRGINIA-CATCHLIMITS:VP—<Anglers will be allowed to keep just one striped bass instead of two a day in the upcoming season, state fisheries officials decided last week.

The move is meant to protect the species by keeping large breeding fish in the water, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission said in a statement. But it could squash the charter fishing industry and a popular fall tournament scene that relied on big fish.

550 by Lee Tolliver. MOVED

^Best times for anglers<

^OTD-LUNAR:MCT—<100. MOVED

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