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News, Scores, Teams, Stories & More on Northeast OH Sports on cleveland.com

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    The Indians are in Kansas City to play their last four games of the regular season before meeting Houston in the ALDS.

    KANSAS CITY -- Here is the preview and pitching matchups for the Indians' series against the Royals.

    Where/when: Kauffman Stadium, Thursday through Sunday.

    TV/radio: SportsTime Ohio, WTAM and WMMS will carry the series.

    Pitching matchups and starting times: RHP Josh Tomlin (2-5, 6.44) vs. RHP Glenn Sparkman (0-3, 4.86) Thursday at 8:15 p.m.; RHP Mike Clevinger (12-8, 3.07) vs. RHP Ian Kennedy (3-8, 4.59) Friday at 8:18 p.m.; RHP Corey Kluber (20-7, 2.83) vs. RHP Jakob Junis (8-12, 4.42) Saturday at 7:15 p.m. and RHP Carlos Carrasco (16-10, 3.42) vs. LHP Eric Skogland (1-5, 5.40) Sunday at 3:15 p.m.

    Series: The Indians lead the Royals, 10-5, this year. Overall, the Indians lead the series, 368-333.

    Hot pitchers: Kluber, who won his 20th game on Monday, is 3-1 with a 3.24 ERA against the Royals this year. Willy Peralta is 14-for-14 with a 1.26 ERA in save situations this year for the Royals.

    Hot hitters: Yonder Alonso is hitting .387 (12-for-31) with four RBI in his last nine games for the Indians. Rookie Ryan O'Hearn is hitting .421 (8-for-19) with three homers and eight RBI against the Indians this season.

    Team updates: The Indians have won six of their last 10 games against the Royals. They are 46-25 in the AL Central and 11-12 in September headed into Wednesday night's game against the White Sox. The Royals have lost six of their last 10 games overall and have been outscored by the Indians this season, 80-53. Whit Merrifield took a 15-game hitting streak into Wednesday night's game against the Reds. He's stolen 22 bases since the All-Star break.

    Disabled list: Indians -OF Leonys Martin (illness), CF Tyler Naquin (right hip), OF Lonnie Chisenhall (left calf), RHP Nick Goody (right elbow), RHP Danny Salazar (right shoulder) and RHP Cody Anderson (right elbow) are on the disabled list.

    Royals: 3B Cheslor Cuthbert (back), LHP Danny Duffy (left shoulder), RHP Jesse Hahn (right elbow), RHP Nate Karns (right shoulder), OF Jorge Soler (left shoulder) are on the disabled list.

    Next: The Indians will open the best-of-five ALDS on Oct. 5 against Houston as Minute Maid Park.


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    McCall, a potential dangerous playmaker, has been sitting on the bench. Might Meyer dust off that weapon against Penn State?

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Demario McCall seems like he again might be a man without a position. But he's never too far from Urban Meyer's mind.

    Meyer loves his playmakers. He makes a list of them before the season, carries it with him during games, and keeps track of who's getting touches. The point is to let things happen within the flow of the game, but Meyer wants to make sure Ohio State's most dangerous players are getting involved.

    It probably wasn't a coincidence then that Parris Campbell had eight touches last week in Meyer's first game back from suspension.

    So where does McCall fit into this conversation? Meyer said this on Wednesday, ahead of OSU's game against Penn State on Saturday night:

    "He's gonna be involved in this game plan I think."

    Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but enough to get people excited about McCall again.

    Meyer champions playmakers, and though it's crowded, there should be an opening for McCall to have a role in the first-team offense. While some on the Penn State side are wondering if the Nittany Lions will be unleashing a seldom-used offensive weapon this week, I'm wondering the same about McCall.

    I asked Meyer about McCall because I thought it was interesting that he played running back against Tulane. The last time we talked to McCall, he said he was an H-back spending most, if not all, of his time in the receiver room.

    H-back, though, is a loaded position with Parris Campbell and K.J. Hill there. So is running back, with J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber. The best way to get McCall involved in the offensive game plan is to have him be a rover, kind of like Curtis Samuel in 2016. The difference being that Samuel had a sturdier physical profile than the 5-foot-9, 193-pound McCall.

    "He plays them both ... to play tailback, you gotta get stronger than he is. To play wide out you gotta be a little more fluid as a receiver. So he's right in between," Meyer said. "But he's working his tail off. I love him, and he can add value."

    Fans have been wanting to see McCall have some kind of role in the offense. Injuries kept that from happening last year. This year he's been used occasionally as a punt returner, and only on offense once the starters have gone out of the game.

    But remember we're discussing a player who has 78 career touches for 588 yards, an average of 7.5 yards per touch.

    McCall can be explosive, and I'd bet he's on Meyer's list.

    Buckeye Take is a quick 300- to 400-word column on a single aspect of Ohio State football. We're trying to replicate in written form the feel of our Buckeye Talk Podcast, where we drop a multitude of opinions every week. We know not all of you listen to the pod (though you should), and we don't want you to miss out on what we're thinking about the Buckeyes.


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    Cleveland Cavaliers Coach Tyronn Lue is pushing his theme about pushing the ball up the court. Will it work? Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- We've heard this before.

    I'm talking about Tyronn Lue wanting the Cavaliers to play at a faster pace.

    It was one of the first things Lue said when taking over as head coach in the middle of the 2015-16 season.

    Lue said, "We need to get in better shape."

    Under former coach David Blatt, the Cavs tended to walk the ball up the court. Some of that was Blatt's preference, a lot of it was how LeBron James preferred to play.

    With James now with the Los Angeles Lakers, Lue can implement his hyper-speed system.

    At least, that sounds like the plan.

    "I want the pace to be faster," Lue told the media after his opening practice this season.

    The coach stressed he wants "everything at full speed...game speed."

    The initial practice was 2-1/2 hours with far more running than standing around.

    "We need to get in good shape to play the kind of basketball we want to play," said Lue.

    HOW THEY RANKED

    I was wondering about the pace, at least in terms of how the Cavs have played the last few years:

    Here's where they've ranked, according to ESPN:

    2017-18: 12th.

    2016-17: 16th.

    2015-16: 28th.

    2014-15: 25th.

    So the Cavs did indeed play faster under Lue.

    It's why he used to call Kyrie Irving, "an attack guard."

    He wanted Irving to feel free to bolt down the court, not worrying about James or anyone else. If Irving played faster, others would follow.

    Even with Irving gone, the Cavs ran more last season compared to the three years with Irving. Some of it was James, who is nearly unstoppable when roaring down the court at full speed.

    The younger players coming to the Cavs in February also helped: Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson and Rodney Hood. Lue also gave more minutes to rookie Cedi Osman later in the season.

    THE YOUNG BULL

    The quest for speed is why Lue is absolutely enamored with rookie Collin Sexton.

    "I just want him to be who he is," said Lue. "The toughness. The tenacity. The pace...some of the things we didn't have in the past."

    Sexton could be Lue's next "attack guard."

    But let's not go very far with the Irving comparisons, even if Sexton is wearing Irving's old No. 2. That has been Sexton's number since long before he reached the NBA.

    Irving is one of the most gifted offensive players ever to come into the NBA when you combine his brilliant ball handling, his ability to make driving shots with either hand and his superb outside shooting.

    But Sexton has the Cavs excited for good reason, especially after averaging 19.6 points in the Las Vegas Summer League.

    "I love his mentality," Kevin Love told the media. "He plays at only one speed. They call him 'Young Bull' for a reason."

    SOMETHING DIFFERENT

    For the Cavs, this is an exciting time of the year.

    Lue knows his ticket to the NBA Finals left when James signed with the L.A. Lakers.

    But he also knows the door is wide open for him to shape his own team -- and play at his preferred speed.

    Who knows if it will work?

    The top five teams in terms of pace last season were New Orleans, Phoenix, the Lakers, Philadelphia and Golden State, in that order. Phoenix and the Lakers were awful. The Warriors won the title. New Orleans and Philadelphia reached the second round of the playoffs.

    In 2016-17, here were the five fastest teams: Brooklyn, Phoenix, Houston, Golden State and Philadelphia. Only the Warriors and Rockets made the playoffs.

    I'm intrigued by how this will work without James.

    Former Cavs General Manager David Griffin has told me for years how Lue can be an elite coach. He once called Lue "a basketball savant."

    Well, the Cavs are now his laboratory. He can experiment. He is free of the great expectations of James.

    But he also is a bit on the spot because James was a guarantee, basketball's greatest safety net.

    In many ways, this is Lue's team in terms of freedom to coach as he likes. Let's see what he does with it.


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    Ohio State basketball started practice this week, and held its media day on Wednesday. Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Chris Holtmann jumped up from behind his desk inside his brand new office on the north side of The Schottenstein Center. He had a new toy he wanted to show off.

    The Ohio State basketball coaches have been in the new space for about a month. It still smells like fresh paint. Finishing touches are being done in some of the corridors and in the stairwell leading up to the men's basketball offices on the second floor. It's not yet complete, but the new location brings everything together -- offices, weight room and practice gym -- near the building's northwest rotunda.

    Before the relocation, OSU's offices were accessible via an inconvenient trek from the practice gym to the opposite side of the building adjacent to Lane Avenue. This is much better.

    Still, most of the furniture and decorations in Holtmann's new office is held over from the old one.

    But that black touch screen on the wall? That's new. And Holtmann wanted to give a demonstration. With one button, Holtmann started a sequence that closed the blinds on his near floor-to-ceiling windows and dropped a projection screen in front of a stained wood display embossed with a Block O logo. One of the ceiling panels slowly dropped out of place to reveal a projector hiding overhead.

    Holtmann now watches film in style as he takes his Ohio State basketball program into the future.

    That's what his second year at OSU is about. The future. Holtmann said he made that known a few weeks ago when the team hosted an alumni dinner. That night was about honoring the past while looking back to last year's surprising run one more time before shifting the focus to now, and what's ahead.

    Can't look back with what's facing Holtmann and his staff this year.

    "This is our most challenging year since we've been together," Holtmann said Wednesday, when the team held its media day as the official start of the 2018-19 season. Practices begin on Thursday.

    "It's a combination of a couple things. Our schedule is the hardest schedule that we've put together ... You can blame me. We'll see if it was the right move. I think you combine that with the number of new faces that we're implementing with some of the older guys we have returning. I think we have some challenges as a staff and a program, but that's also exciting in the sense that we get to see how quickly we can forge a new identity with a new group."

    Nine of the 13 scholarship players on the roster are in their first or second year in the program. That includes sophomore transfer CJ Walker, who has to sit out this season. Still, there's a ton of new and two glaring holes in the roster left by the departures of Keita Bates-Diop and Jae'Sean Tate.

    It's not just normal attrition, though.

    There's expectation that the coaches will find a way to squeeze every ounce of potential out of this roster, even if it is drastically different than the one they inherited last year. There's no definite go-to player like a Bates-Diop, no obvious heart-and-soul leader like Tate.

    There are intriguing pieces, sure. A developing big man in Kaleb Wesson, and an athletic forward in Kyle Young who won't be buried behind upperclassmen this year. C.J. Jackson is back as a senior guard after a revelatory junior season that showed he has the toughness and skill to be productive in the Big Ten. And there's a freshman class high on confidence that seems like it's bringing a bit of an edge to the team.

    But the roster flux, and unexpected success last year makes this Ohio State team a difficult one to get a read on just yet.

    "It's interesting," Holtmann said. "Every year you have high expectations for how your team is gonna perform relative to its potential. That's where we're at. If you ask me what's your potential as a group, I would say we've got a lot to learn between now and the start of the year ... But it didn't cross my mind one time, because I got asked that a lot, that maybe just come in and if you have a mediocre year that's OK. We had a good year. That was great, and great for our older guys. We're gonna try to compete to our standard as much as we can every year, and we'll see what that looks like."

    Here's more from Ohio State's media day:

    Hey, new guy

    Keyshawn Woods sat a table with Young and Kaleb Wesson during interviews. Collectively, they may be the three most important players to Ohio State having a successful season.

    There will be plenty of time to dig into that. This early, the question for Woods was how he's fitting in with his new teammates after transferring from Wake Forest in May.

    "I think I did a great job trying to connect with everybody, trying to get them to trust me and show them what I can bring to the table," Woods said. "I know I still have some work to do. We don't have the first tip-off until Nov. 1 with our exhibition game. But I think I did a great job with each guy trying to get to know them."

    Woods, a 6-foot-3 fifth-year senior combo guard, said he started to really feel a part of things when the team visited Spain last month. He's still trying to feel his way, when to be vocal and the right way to earn the respect of his teammates, but that gradual process is in a good place with the Buckeyes opening training camp.

    In the team's three games in Spain, Woods said he and Jackson each took turns playing on the ball and off. At Wake Forest, Woods was used more as shooting guard and wing player. At Ohio State he'll be expected to handle No. 2 point guard duties when he's not playing alongside Jackson.

    "Me and C.J. play off each other, so it doesn't really matter," Woods said. "It depends on the situation and what Coach Holt wants. Either one of us, we both can bring the ball up or both play off the ball. We both know how to make the right plays, looking for other people or each other. I think we're gonna gel real well together."

    Kaleb Wesson expanding his game

    Joey Lane, the former walk-on who's carved himself a nice place as a kind of team spokesman, overheard a conversation about the number of 3-point attempts center Kaleb Wesson should have this year.

    The over/under was set at 50 for a player who took 14 all of last year, and never took more than one in a game.

    "So over," Lane said. "Just attempts? Definitely over."

    So get ready for that this year.

    Wesson should be the linchpin of Ohio State's offense, a physical presence at 6-foot-9 and a touch under 270 pounds who can demand double-teams. But he needs to develop a more versatile game to open up the floor, and also just to stay on it.

    Teams targeted Wesson in pick-and-roll defense last year, getting him in foul trouble and forcing Holtmann to often deploy an effective smaller lineup that moved Bates-Diop from forward to center. So Wesson has been working on getting his body right and becoming more agile so he can defend on the perimeter when put in those situations, and move better to take his game to any spot on the floor.

    "I feel like I have the green light," he said. "Coach might think differently. We have a lot of plays set in where I'm picking and popping, or going out and setting ball screens and rolling. So I feel like a lot of my game this year is going to be me running out and going back in. My game is still the same, but this is icing on the cake. If it comes down to it, I can be spread out with five out."

    Holtmann does not think differently. He wants Wesson expanding his game outside of the paint this season.

    "Kaleb has done a good job trying to bring some variety to his game, which I think is important," Holtmann said. "He's gonna shoot more 3s, and play a little more out on the floor because I think that's important for our team and important for him too. But he's in good shape right now, and I think he can take it to another level in terms of his conditioning. I just got a report this afternoon from our strength coach that he had dropped another two percent in body fat. He's made good strides and he's gotta keep moving in that direction."

    See you at the Crossroads?

    Ohio State opens the season on Nov. 7 at Cincinnati.

    That game will serve as a reminder of what Holtmann talked about early in his tenure in Columbus, bringing the major programs in Ohio together for an event similar to the Crossroads Classic played between Indiana, Purdue, Notre Dame and Butler every year in Indianapolis.

    A couple of potential roadblocks could get in the way of an Ohio Crossroads Classic featuring Ohio State, Cincinnati, Xavier and Dayton.

    One is the Big Ten's 20-game conference schedule that begins this season. It features two league games in December, and lessens the number of non-conference games OSU will play. Another is the CBS Sports Classic that Ohio State is signed up for through the 2019-20 season. Then there's the Big Ten-ACC Challenge that the Buckeyes play in every year, and the Gavitt Tip-Off games against Big East schools in which Ohio State will play at least two more times after this season through 2022.

    Plus Holtmann would like to have Ohio State in some of the early-season tournaments like the Battle 4 Atlantis or the Maui Invitational.

    "We're looking at doing something like that," Holtmann said. "I don't know if it's gonna happen ... There's just not enough room. It's not dead by any means. We're still looking at it. I think there's gonna be some years where it's gonna be impossible to do."


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    The Rams hosts the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday night and the Browns visit the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - The Minnesota Vikings play at the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday night to begin Week 4.

    The Rams (3-0) are off to a great start and the Vikings (1-1-1) are coming off an upset loss to the rebuilding Buffalo Bills.

    It was a game where quarterback Kirk Cousins had three turnovers.

    But the Vikings defense is still there. The team had the top defense last season and it's ranked 10th so far this season.

    Sunday's early game has the Miami Dolphins at the New England Patriots. The Patriots are 1-2 for the first time since 2012.

    The Patriots could get a boost with the addition of wide receiver Josh Gordon, acquired via trade from the Cleveland Browns. Gordon did not play last week due to a hamstring injury. He's expected to play on Sunday.

    The Pittsburgh Steelers host the Baltimore Ravens in the late game on Sunday.

    The Steelers (1-1-1) are coming off their first victory of the season at Tampa Bay in what many saw as a must win. It gets tougher for the Steelers against the Ravens (2-1), but the Steelers have won three straight in the rivalry.

    The Kansas City Chiefs (3-0) play at the Denver Broncos (2-1) on Monday night.

    The Broncos face the youngest and hottest quarterback in Patrick Mahomes. But the Broncos will play with an injury-riddled secondary.

    Thursday

    Minnesota at L.A. Rams, 8:20 p.m., NFL Network

    Sunday

    Buffalo at Green Bay, 1 p.m., CBS
    Cincinnati at Atlanta, 1 p.m., CBS
    Detroit at Dallas, 1 p.m., Fox
    Houston at Indianapolis, 1 p.m., CBS
    Miami at New England, 1 p.m., CBS
    N.Y. Jets at Jacksonville, 1 p.m., Fox
    Philadelphia at Tennessee, 1 p.m., Fox
    Tampa Bay at Chicago, 1 p.m., Fox
    Cleveland at Oakland, 4:05 p.m., Fox
    Seattle at Arizona, 4:05 p.m., Fox
    New Orleans at N.Y. Giants, 4:25 p.m., CBS
    San Francisco at L.A. Chargers, 4:25 p.m., CBS
    Baltimore at Pittsburgh, 8:20 p.m., NBC

    Monday

    Kansas City at Denver, 8:15 p.m., ESPN


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    Taylor was back on the practice field today after being cleared from concussion protocol, but Drew Stanton might be the backup to Mayfield in Oakland. Taylor also has a back injury.

    BEREA, Ohio -- Tyrod Taylor has been cleared from the concussion protocol and was back out on the practice field Thursday, but he might not be ready to back up Baker Mayfield Sunday vs. the Raiders.

    Taylor was limited in practice not only from coming off the concussion but because of a back injury suffered during the 21-17 victory over the Jets, and the Browns are leaving Friday for Oakland. At this point, the Browns are preparing Drew Stanton to step in for Mayfield if he gets hurt.

    "We will see exactly where that's at,'' said Jackson. "(Taylor) didn't do a lot so I'll make sure that if we do put him out there, that he's ready to go. I'll know more about that tomorrow."

    He said he'll make his decision before the team flies to Oakland at 2 p.m., and that the long flight and the earlier travel day will all factor into the decision on whether or not Taylor will even make the trip.

    "What's important is for our team to know exactly where we are at backup quarterback (before the trip),'' said Jackson.

    Stanton, Mayfield's designated mentor, went 3-1 for the Cardinals last season, improving his career record to 11-6.

    "He has insight I haven't seen from very many guys,'' said offensive coordinator Todd Haley, referring to Stanton's mentorship. "He's been tremendous. He's a unique, unique quarterback. 

    Jackson admitted that Taylor's back injury is factoring into the decision, but didn't know if it occurred on the same hit that caused the concussion.

    "He got hit more than once in that game,'' said Jackson. "Not sure exactly which one, but I know that it was one of those, I'm sure, that led to the back issues."

    In fact, Haley attributed Taylor's poor performance in the Jets game (4-of-14 for 19 yards, 39.6 rating) to the fact he was hit on five of the first six plays because of mental errors.

    "It can't take our guys a quarter and a half to settle in,'' Haley said. "It was not a fair situation.''

    Taylor showed up in the Browns locker room near the end of the media availability, but politely declined to talk, saying he had to get to a meeting. 


    With Mayfield starting, the Browns should try to trade Taylor

    Jackson made it clear on Monday that he wants Taylor around despite the fact he lost his starting job that day to Mayfield, who rallied the Browns from a 14-point second-quarter deficit after Taylor got knocked out of the game with  the concussion.

    "He's going to be right here,'' Jackson said Monday. "He's not going anywhere. That's important. Part of Baker being able to play like he did was because of Tyrod and Drew. I don't want to upset that room that way. I don't think there's any reason to.

    "Tyrod is going to be needed. He's the backup quarterback on this team if he's healthy, and he's played. His teammates know who he is and how he goes about the rhythm of his game. It's always good to have that kind of depth at that position, especially if we're traveling down this road, which we are."

    In other Browns injury news, safety Damarious Randall was on the bike again today with his heel injury, and linebacker James Burgess was absent again with his knee injury.


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    Check here for Ryder Cup 2018 information, including pairings and tee times for Friday morning, Sept. 28, in France.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Tiger Woods and Team USA face Sergio Garcia and Team Europe in Ryder Cup 2018 this week in France. Competition unfolds at Le Golf National outside Paris, Sept. 28-30. Europe seeks to avenge a 17-11 loss at Hazeltine in Minnesota in 2016.

    Europe needs 14 1/2 points to win the 42nd Cup; USA needs 14 to retain. USA has not won in Europe since 1993.

    Team USA

    USA.jpgTeam USA for Ryder Cup 2018.

    Earned spots on points: Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Bubba Watson.

    Captain's picks: Tiger, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau.

    Team Europe

    europe.jpgTeam Europe for Ryder Cup 2018.

    Earned spots on points: Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Alex Noren, Thorbjorn Olesen, Jon Rahm and Justin Rose.

    Captain's picks: Sergio, Paul Casey, Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson.

    TV schedule

    Friday, Sept. 28

    • Golf Channel, 2 a.m. to 1 p.m.

    Saturday, Sept. 29

    • Golf Channel, 2-3 a.m.
    • NBC Sports, 3 a.m. to 1 p.m.

    Sunday, Sept. 30

    • NBC Sports, 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.

    On Friday and Saturday, four four-ball matches will unfold in the morning and four foursome matches will be contested in the afternoon. Sunday features 12 singles matches.

    Woods, 42, is on the short list of greatest golfers ever. His remarkable comeback this season from multiple back surgeries includes a victory at the Tour Championship and two Top 10's in majors (T-6 at The Open, 2nd at PGA Championship). He ranks No. 2 all time with 80 PGA Tour titles. He is 13-17-3 in seven Ryder Cups.

    Mickelson, 48, is the second-best player of his generation. He ranks No. 9 all time with 43 PGA Tour titles, including one this season. He is 18-20-7 in 11 Ryder Cups.

    RYDER CUP
    Site: Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France.
    Course: Le Golf National. Yardage: 7,183. Par: 71.
    Purse: None.
    Defending champion: United States.
    Last time: Every American contributed at least one point for the first time since 1975 in a 17-11 victory at Hazeltine.
    Notes: The Americans have not won in Europe since The Belfry in 1993, the same year three of their players on this team were born. ... The U.S. team features nine major champions, the most on any team since continental Europe was included in 1979. ... Tiger Woods is playing in the Ryder Cup for the first time since 2012 at Medinah. ... Phil Mickelson is playing in his 12th Ryder Cup, the most of any player on either side since it began in 1927. ... Europe has five rookies, two among the top 15 in the world in Jon Rahm and Tommy Fleetwood. ... Justin Rose is the ninth player to be No. 1 at the Ryder Cup since 1987. The other four Europeans were Ian Woosnam, Nick Faldo and Rory McIlroy twice. Woods was No. 1 four times. ... Le Golf National is the host course of the French Open. Alex Noren won it this year, Fleetwood the year before. ... The captains are Thomas Bjorn (Europe) and Jim Furyk (U.S.).
    Next time: Whistling Straits in 2020.

    (Fact box from Associated Press.)


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    Garrett spoke about the roughing rule on Thursday. Watch video

    BEREA, Ohio -- The NFL, amidst complaints from players and fans, isn't budging in regards to the roughing the passer rules.

    "In reiterating its position on quarterback protection, the committee determined there would be no changes to the point of emphasis approved this spring," NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent said in a statement on Thursday, "or to the rule, of which the body weight provision has been in place since 1995."

    Vincent said in the statement that the NFL's Competition Committee met Wednesday night via conference call to discuss the enforcement of roughing the passer rules, specifically emphasizing the use of body weight by a defender.

    "To ensure consistency in officiating the rule," Vincent said, "the committee clarified techniques that constitute a foul."

    The league tweeted out a video showing examples of plays that were illegal and plays that were not.

    Earlier in the day, Browns defensive end Myles Garrett voiced his displeasure in the rules. He was specifically asked about Dolphins defensive end William Hayes tearing his ACL trying to avoid a flag on a hit against Derek Carr last week. He acknowledged that he would be willing to take a flag rather than get hurt.

    "I'm not willing to tear something to lay (the quarterback) on the ground like he's a child," Garrett said.

    The rule has received widespread criticism from all corners of the league. Even quarterbacks have gotten in on the act. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said last week, "I've watched the game and loved the game for a long time, and some of the rules I think help, but some of the rules maybe are going the wrong direction."

    Carr said, in the wake of Hayes' injury, "Man, go ahead and land on me, I'll catch my breath eventually and we'll move on."

    Garrett said that when quarterbacks are saying something about a rule designed to protect them, something needs to be changed.

    "Maybe the (people running the league) should put on pads and try it to see how well it works for them," he said.

    Related: Two Browns defenders addressed the rule earlier this week


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    Indians open their final series of the regular season with Josh Tomlin facing Kansas City's Glen Sparkman.

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Here are the starting lineups for the Indians and Royals on Thursday night at Kauffman Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 8:10 p.m.

    INDIANS

    SS Francisco Lindor.

    CF Greg Allen.

    2B Jose Ramirez.

    DH Josh Donaldson.

    RF Melky Cabrera.

    1B Yandy Diaz.

    C Yan Gomes.

    LF Brandon Guyer.

    3B Adam Rosales.

    RHP Josh Tomlin, 2-5, 6.44.

    ROYALS

    2B Whit Merrifield.

    SS Adalberto Mondesi.

    LF Alex Gordon.

    C Salvador Perez.

    1B Ryan O'Hearn.

    3B Hunter Dozier.

    CF Brian Goodwin.

    C Cam Gallagher.

    RF Brett Phillips.

    RHP Glenn Sparkman (0-3, 4.86).

    UMPIRES

    H Chad Fairchild.

    1B Kerwin Danley, crew chief.

    2B Mike Estabrook.

    3B Bruce Dreckman.


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    Mary Kay Cabot and Dan Labbe talk about everything that happened on Thursday with the Browns. Watch video

    BEREA, Ohio -- The Browns are preparing for the Oakland Raiders on Sunday and, in case you haven't heard, Baker Mayfield's first career start. Thursday, we had our first opportunity to hear from offensive coordinator Todd Haley about his rookie quarterback and what he expects from him.

    Mary Kay Cabot and I talked about that in the video above. Then we talked about whether Tyrod Taylor would be able to make the trip to Oakland or whether it could be Drew Stanton as the Browns' backup quarterback this week.

    Lastly, we talked about Myles Garrett's goal of winning Defensive Player of the Year and his thoughts on the league's roughing the passer rules.


    Want more Browns? Subscribe to our Browns YouTube channel for interviews, analysis and more.


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    Right-hander Mike Clevinger, who will make his last regular-season start on Friday night, likes the idea of the Indians meeting Houston, the defending World Series champion, in the first round of the postseason.

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. - No matter how many games the Indians win between now and the end of the regular season on Sunday, they'll enter the postseason as an afterthought, a team simply filling out the bracket for the first round.

    They entered Thursday's game against Kansas City with 89 wins. AL East champion Boston has 107 wins and AL West champion Houston has 100. The two wild card teams, the Yankees and Oakland, were at 97 and 96 wins, respectively, before playing Thursday.

    "Yeah, I think we're under the radar because of our division," said Mike Clevinger. "I think everyone looks at our division like, 'Oh, they're playing blah, blah, blah, whatever.' But I go and watch these same teams in our division go beat those teams at the top of their divisions. ... So it's not easy what we're doing here in this division, even if the competition isn't as stiff as elsewhere. I think that's why we're under the radar. I like it that way."

    The Indians have been a work in progress all year. They took over first place in the AL Central on April 21 when Clevinger beat Baltimore and have been there ever since. That kind of security has allowed them to concentrate on one goal - having their best team sound and available at the end of the regular season.

    Trevor Bauer and Andrew Miller needed time to get healthy. Cody Allen needed time to get his mechanics back together. Josh Donaldson, acquired on Aug. 31, needed time to get healthy and his game in order.

    Not everything is perfect. Jose Ramirez is in a miserable slump. Yonder Alonso is starting to emerge from his own slump. There are still questions in the bullpen and they have second baseman Jason Kipnis playing center field. Still, as GM Mike Chernoff said recently, the Indians seem to be on an "upward trajectory" for the postseason.

    "We had moving parts," said Clevinger. "I think people are really starting to see and understand their roles vs. assuming what they are. And once you kind of put your face to what your role is going to be, either you're going to accept it or you're going to be the guy that hurts the team. You know what I mean? There's a lot of acceptance going on."

    The Indians will play Houston in the best-of-five ALDS starting on Oct. 5 at Minute Maid Park. Manager Terry Francona indicated Wednesday that Clevinger could start Game 3 on Oct. 8 at Progressive Field after Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco start the first two games in Houston.

    But the rotation plans are far from settled. Clevinger and Trevor Bauer could be available in the bullpen in Texas with one of them starting Game 3 and the other Game 4, if it's needed.

    Francona preferred to wait until the regular season ends before announcing his postseason plans. But when asked about having Clevinger and Bauer available in the pen early in the series, he said, "The idea is to maximize your roster."

    Last season the Indians moved Clevinger to the bullpen in late September. He did not pitch well in the ALDS against the Yankees. He seems more at peace this season no matter how he's used.

    "It feels a lot more comfortable than last year," he said. "I don't know what it is. It just feels a lot more comfortable whether it's me, Cookie (Carrasco), T.B. (Bauer), whoever is starting or going to the bullpen.

    "It doesn't feel such a weird, 'Who's going to be a starter now? Who's going to the bullpen now? It feels more or a collective, like, 'Hey, we need a piece (arm) out there for a righty.' ... And I feel just as much confidence in having either one of us start. It's a good dynamic right now.'"

    Clevinger (12-8, 3.07), who will make his final regular-season start on Friday, likes the idea of facing the Astros, the defending World Series champion, in the first round.

    "I like it," he said. "It's a lot of, I don't know, unfinished business I feel like we have with them anyways from the season. I think they're really comfortable facing us and I like that. I feel like they don't think this is going to be too much of a challenge for them and I think that's going to benefit us."

    Houston won four of the seven games against the Indians during the regular season.


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    After initially believing he had finally found his home in Chicago, he thinks things worked out even better, landing in a place that's a "perfect fit" for him.

    INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- David Nwaba admits this was a stressful summer.

    After initially believing he had finally found his home in Chicago, he thinks things worked out even better, landing in a place that's a "perfect fit" for him.

    "Thought I was going to stay there for years to come," Nwaba said when asked about his feelings toward the Bulls. "But it's a business. It all worked out, ended up still living the dream of playing in the NBA. Think this is a good opportunity here and just moved past it."

    In late June, the Bulls extended a qualifying offer to the defensive-minded wing, making him a restricted free agent. It was an expected move, as the Bulls clearly wanted to hang onto him.

    Nwaba, 25, was coming off a quality season and worked his way into Chicago's every night rotation. But two weeks later, the Bulls rescinded the offer -- a necessary move so they could make a few bigger moves. Eventually the Bulls pried Jabari Parker away from Milwaukee and then handed Zach LaVine a huge contract extension.  

    Chicago's loss is Cleveland's gain.

    The Cavaliers' summer focus was about acquiring ascending players. They knew they had to be a scrappy team, one that outworks opponents to make up for lost talent. Nwaba fits that identity.

    Former Los Angeles teammate Larry Nance Jr. put in a good word for Nwaba. But it wasn't necessary. The Cavs' front office showed interest in Nwaba early in free agency and recruited him hard after the Bulls reversed course. After meeting with Nwaba in Las Vegas at the end of July, the Cavs got an agreement from him, edging out the Indiana Pacers, who also showed interest. 

    "Indiana wanted me for two years, but Cleveland seemed like a better fit," Nwaba said. "Young guys as well as veterans on this team so I thought it was a perfect fit and knew I was going to get my opportunity here."

    Following the theme of his off-season, the agreement was strange. Nwaba chose the Cavs. That mattered most. But official terms weren't finalized for another few weeks. 

    Cleveland was hoping to lock him in to a long-term deal -- three or four years would've been nice from their perspective. Only Nwaba -- after averaging 7.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 23.5 minutes with the Bulls -- wasn't looking for that kind of commitment. 

    "I thought I should prove myself before taking any offer long term," Nwaba said. "I chose the one year and bet on myself."

    He's been doing that for years, taking a circuitous route to the NBA. A terrific high school player in California, Nwaba went to Santa Monica College before finishing at Cal Poly. Undrafted in 2016, Nwaba started in the D-League (now G League) and had to claw his way into the NBA through hard work, determination and feisty defense.

    That's his plan to get head coach Tyronn's Lue attention and stand out in a crowded backcourt. 

    "That's how I've been all my life," Nwaba said. "Just looking to stop the best guy on the opposing team and taking that role. Have no issue with it and at the end of the day defense wins games. Take pride in playing defense and I have no issue playing that role."

    That mindset was attractive to the Cavs, who are looking to improve on the defensive end after ranking 29th last season. The team is expected to switch more and even though Nwaba said he spent most of his time with the Bulls guarding 1s, 2s and 3s, he believes he is burly enough to hold his own on switches against 4s as well. Seems a lot to ask. But the Cavs think the same.

    Given his unique defensive skill set and 7-foot wingspan, Nwaba should be able to get a chance to build on his breakout season with the Bulls and find a permanent role in Lue's rotation.

    "Just showcase what I bring to the team," Nwaba said of his approach. "I hope they know, but it's my job to do that. Just looking for the opportunity that I know is there. 

    "Go out there and play hard. Seems easy, but that's just what I do. Go out there and play hard and don't look for any individual stats. Go out there and compete. I'm sure that's every coach's dream to have players like that."


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    Gonzalez was struck in the head by a pitch on Wednesday night against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

    KANSAS CITY - Manager Terry Francona said utility man Erik Gonzalez is in MLB's concussion protocol after being hit in the head with a pitch on Wednesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.

    Gonzalez traveled with the team from Chicago to Kansas City after Wednesday night's 10-2 win over the White Sox.

    "He's actually doing pretty well," said Francona. "He's kind of clear-eyed. He's bouncing around a little bit. So we'll see how he shows up tomorrow. If he continues to trend in that direction, the trainers will give him a little activity to do.

    "All things considered, that would be really fortunate. You guys saw it. He really got smoked."

    White Sox right-hander Rob Scahill hit Gonzalez in the head - the ball hit his batting helmet - in the eighth inning. Gonzalez, who has been with the Indians all year, is hitting .265 (36-for-136) with one homer and 16 RBI. He has started three games at first base, 15 at second, seven at third and five at shortstop.

    Gonzalez was helped off the field after getting hit. He replaced Francisco Lindor at shortstop so in the bottom of the eighth, the Indians had to manipulate their defense. Brandon Barnes moved from left field to second base, while Adam Rosales went from second to short and Rajai Davis, who replaced Gonzalez as a pinch runner, took over in left.

    Francona, while checking on Gonzalez, was trying to figure out who was going to play where.

    "I looked over and Millsie (bench coach Brad Mills) and he said he had it," said Francona. "I was trying to figure out what he had. ... You want to get guys into the game and every once it a while it's going to bite you."

    Francona did have catcher Yan Gomes left on the bench.

    "(Josh) Tomlin told me he was ready to play second base," said Francona. "I told him, 'If Gomes goes down and our bus crashes, you would be close to getting in.'"

    The candidate? GM Mike Chernoff would not comment on speculation that he could be on the Mets' short list to replace Sandy Alderson as general manager. Alderson stepped down from the job earlier this season because of health concerns.

    Chernoff is in his 15th season with the Indians and third as GM. He joined the Indians in 2003 as an intern in the baseball operations department. His father, Mark, is the vice president of programming at WFAN in New York City.

    No hard feelings: It sounds as if the Blue Jays and manager John Gibbons have agreed to part company on good terms at season's end.

    Tribe third baseman Josh Donaldson played for Gibbons from 2015 until he was traded to the Indians on Aug. 31.

    "I loved Gibby," said Donaldson. "Playing for him was great. Our personalities clashed at times, but it was a very good relationship between the two of us. I enjoyed playing for him.

    "Earlier in the season it came out that he really wasn't up for a rebuild and that's where Toronto is at."

    Eric Wedge is one of the favorites to take over as Toronto's manager. Wedge managed the Indians from 2003-09. The man who hired him was Mark Shapiro, now CEO of the Blue Jays.

    No problem: Michael Brantley left Wednesday night's game after fouling a ball off his right calf. He was not in Thursday night's lineup.

    "He's fine," said Francona. "I'm just trying to balance playing time. I know people are paying to watch these games. I don't ever want to feel like there's disrespect, so we try to put enough (talent) out there and do it as the right time."

    Besides Brantley, first baseman Yonder Alonso got the night off.

    "Everybody had gotten a day off, but he hadn't," said Francona. "I told him, 'You show up in your tennies in style and enjoy yourself because you're not getting in there.' We never have enough infielders to get everybody out, so he's the one that's stayed in. So he gets a night to just relax."

    Brantley is hitting .312 (68-for-218) since the All-Star break. Alonso is hitting .378 (14-for-37) in his last 10 games.


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    Josh Tomlin, in what could be his last start as an Indian, allowed one run in 4 2/3 innings Thursday night against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. - If this was Josh Tomlin's last appearance with the Indians, he went out as expected.

    He left the score tied, 1-1, with two on and two out in the fifth inning. In the Indians' 2-1 loss to the Royals in 10 innings, Tomlin did what he's done for most of his career. He didn't walk a batter, he threw strikes and he allowed a home run.

    Tomlin, 33, has been with the Indians longer than any player on the roster. Until this year, when a lot of things didn't go right for him, Tomlin was the scrappy starter at the back end of the rotation who didn't have great stuff, but more often than not gave the Indians a chance to win.

    He'll be a free agent this winter and the chances of him making the Tribe's postseason roster are lukewarm at best. So if Thursday night was it, well, he made an impression on his coaches and teammates long before that.

    "He's the same guy every day," said Mike Clevinger before Thursday night's game. "Whether he gives up 20 or throws seven shutout (innings) or he's moved to the bullpen or he's not pitching at all. You're getting the same guy, the same quirky attitude, the same pick-me-up, the same guy screaming at the top of his lungs in the dugout, no matter what he's doing."

    Tomlin has been a favorite of manager Terry Francona's since he became manager following the 2012 season. He echoed Clevinger's critique.

    "You're true colors come out when you're not doing well," said Francona. "It's easy to be a good teammate when you're going well, really easy. ... He's been the same whether he's 9-1 or 1-9. He always looks out for everybody first. He lives it. He doesn't just say it.

    "Every day it's the little things. When Andrew Miller is throwing, he's out there watching. He's always encouraging everybody."

    Tomlin allowed one run on four hits in 4 2/3 innings. He struck out five and threw 70 percent of his pitches for strikes. That included the home run that Adalberto Mondesi hit with two out in the third inning to tie the score, 1-1.

    It was the 25th homer Tomlin has allowed this season in just 70 1/3 innings. He allowed 36 homers in 2016, but worked 174 innings and went 13-9 with a 4.40 ERA that season.

    This year Tomlin is 2-5 with a 6.14 ERA.

    The Indians took a 1-0 lead in the first on a sacrifice fly by Jose Ramirez off Glenn Sparkman. Francisco Lindor opened the game with a single, took second base when first baseman Ryan O'Hearn was charged with an error on a pickoff throw from Spark and went to third on a balk.

    The Tribe went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. They put runners on first and third with one out in the sixth, but couldn't score. In the eighth and 10th inning, they put runners on second and third with two out and came away empty.

    The Royals won it in the 10th on a single by Salvador Perez's two-out single that scored Mondesi from third. Neil Ramirez (0-3) started the 10th with two quick outs, but walked Mondesi and Alex Gordon before Perez burned him.

    It was the Indians' 13th walk-off loss of the season.

    What it means

    The Indians are 10-6 against the Royals this season, 4-3 at Kauffman Stadium.

    The pitches

    Tomlin threw 74 pitches, 52 (70 percent) for strikes. Sparkman threw 78 pitches, 51 (65 percent) for strikes.

    To (not) catch a thief

    When Greg Allen stole second base in the 10th inning, it give the Indians four players with at least 20 steals for the first time since 1911. Allen, Lindor, Ramirez and Davis have all topped 20 steals this year.

    Thanks for coming

    The Indians and Royals drew 19,252 to Kauffman Stadium. First pitch was at 8:16 p.m. with a temperature of 69 degrees.

    Next

    Right-hander Mike Clevinger (12-8, 3.07) will make his last start of the regular season on Friday when he faces right-hander Ian Kennedy (3-8, 4.59) and the Royals at 8:15 p.m. SportsTime Ohio, WTAM and WMMS will carry the game.

    Clevinger is 2-0 with a 2.33 ERA in four starts against the Royals this season. Kennedy has a 2.89 ERA and has held the opposition to a .219 batting over his last nine starts. He's 3-5 with a 5.34 ERA in his career against the Tribe.


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    What will happen when Ohio State and Penn State meet in a top-10 matchup on Saturday night? Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- One of us is fully embracing the idea of an Ohio State vs. Penn State shootout on Saturday night in State College, Pa.

    These are our outrageous predictions for the prime time, top-10 matchup in Beaver Stadium. You can watch Doug Lesmerises and Bill Landis discuss their picks more in the video above.

    Doug made two: Both teams will combine to score 90 points, with Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins and Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley each throwing for 300 yards.

    That means Doug thinks you should hammer the over, which started at 66 and has since moved to 72. According to The Action Network, this is only the fourth time since 2005 that two Big Ten teams faced off in a game where the total was 70 or more.

    Bill, thinking Ohio State will rely on the run game, predicted two rushing touchdowns and only one passing touchdown for Haskins.

    Let us know your outrageous predictions in the comments section.

    Ohio State and Penn State will kick off at 7:30 p.m. Saturday on ABC.


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    Doug Lesmerises and Bill Landis make their picks for the Buckeyes vs. the Nittany Lions. Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- No. 4 Ohio State is favored by 3.5 points over No. 9 Penn State for their primetime showdown at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Beaver Stadium.

    Urban Meyer is 2-1 in games in State College coaching the Buckeyes, with wins in 2012 and 2014 (in double overtime) and the 2016 loss by a score of 24-21.

    Since James Franklin arrived at Penn State, he is 1-3 against Ohio State, but two of the losses are the 2017 defeat by one point and the 2014 game that was tied at 17 in regulation. 

    Since Franklin arrived, the total score of the four games between the schools is 129-96 in favor of Ohio State. 

    Here are our picks for this week, which are explained in the video above. Bill and I were both wrong last week, when we took Tulane plus-37 points and the Buckeyes won 49-6, winning by 43.

    * Bill Landis: Ohio State 35, Penn State 31

    Take Ohio State -3.5 

    * Doug Lesmerises: Ohio State 49, Penn State 42

    Take Ohio State -3.5

    Ohio State game picks record

    Bill: 4-0, 2-2 against the spread

    Doug: 4-0, 2-2 against the spread


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    Today's highlights in history for Friday, September 28, 2018

    Today is Friday, Sept. 28, the 271st day of 2018. There are 94 days left in the year.

    Today's Highlight in History:

    On Sept. 28, 1920, eight members of the Chicago White Sox were indicted for allegedly throwing the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. (All were acquitted at trial, but all eight were banned from the game for life.)

    On this date:

    In 1542, Portuguese navigator Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo arrived at present-day San Diego.

    In 1781, American forces in the Revolutionary War, backed by a French fleet, began their successful siege of Yorktown, Va.

    In 1892, the first nighttime football game took place in Mansfield, Pennsylvania, as teams from Mansfield State Normal and Wyoming Seminary played under electric lights to a scoreless tie.

    In 1928, Scottish medical researcher Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, the first effective antibiotic.

    In 1939, during World War II, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed a treaty calling for the partitioning of Poland, which the two countries had invaded.

    In 1964, comedian Harpo Marx, 75, died in Los Angeles.

    In 1976, Muhammad Ali kept his world heavyweight boxing championship with a close 15-round decision over Ken Norton at New York's Yankee Stadium.

    In 1989, deposed Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos died in exile in Hawaii at age 72.

    In 1991, jazz great Miles Davis died in Santa Monica, Calif., at age 65.

    In 1993, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton went to Capitol Hill to begin selling the administration's health care plan to Congress.

    In 1995, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat signed an accord at the White House ending Israel's military occupation of West Bank cities and laying the foundation for a Palestinian state.

    Ten years ago: President George W. Bush urged Congress to pass a $700 billion rescue plan for beleaguered financial companies, saying in a written statement, "Without this rescue plan, the costs to the American economy could be disastrous." Chinese astronauts aboard the Shenzhou 7 returned to Earth after completing their country's first spacewalk mission. Austrian 16-year-olds voted for the first time in parliamentary elections under a law adopted in 2007.

    Five years ago: Locked in a deepening struggle with President Barack Obama, House Republicans demanded a one-year delay in major parts of the nation's new health care law and permanent repeal of a tax on medical devices as the price for preventing a partial government shutdown threatened for Oct. 1. (Senate Democrats rejected the plan and the White House said that "any member of the Republican Party who votes for this bill is voting for a shutdown.") The Global Citizen Festival, highlighting world poverty, took place in New York's Central Park.

    One year ago: The Trump administration said its relief efforts in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria were succeeding, though people on the island said help was scarce and disorganized. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise returned to the House chamber for the first time since he was wounded three months earlier by a gunman who opened fire at a Republican baseball practice.

    Thought for Today: "To fight oppression, and to work as best we can for a sane organization of society, we do not have to abandon the state of mind of freedom. If we do that we are letting the same thuggery in by the back door that we are fighting off in front of the house." -- John Dos Passos, American author (born 1896, died this date in 1970).


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    NFL pass rushers confused over rash of roughing-the-passer penalties during first three weeks of season

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The NFL has another controversy brewing that involves the men in striped shirts. Last season the confusion was over what constitutes a catch; this season referees seem to have different ideas about when to throw a flag for roughing the passer.  

    Clay Matthews of the Green Bay Packers leads the league with three roughing penalties in three games, two of which could be considered questionable calls.

    Most pass rushers understand they have to tackle the quarterback in the strike zone above the knees and below the shoulders while not leading with their head. Pass rushers also know they must not arrive more than one step after the ball is thrown. They also must avoid landing on the QB with all of their weight.

    It is the last condition that seems to have created the most confusion for defenders. How does a 300-pound defender avoid landing on a QB during a sack? It's virtually impossible. So unless officials start differentiating between landing on the QB and pile driving the QB, there are going to be a lot more roughing-the-passer penalties called.

    Crowquill, by Plain Dealer artist Ted Crow, appears three times a week in The Plain Dealer and on cleveland.com.


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    The "Klubotic'' way in which Corey Kluber goes about his business can unnerve opponents simply because he never appears to be rattled by them.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- As part of the Dry Idea antiperspirant deodorant ad campaign in the 1980's, Denver Broncos coach Dan Reeves told us: "No matter what the score, never let them see you sweat.''

    Reeves wrapped his spot by saying: "Everyone feels pressure. Winners don't let it show.''

    If there were to be a 21st century redux of the campaign, Cleveland Indians right-hander Corey Kluber would make perfect sense in the role of Reeves -- that is, assuming Kluber could be talked into talking about himself.

    Kluber has been one of MLB's best pitchers over the past five seasons in part because he never lets the opponent see him sweat or otherwise let pressure show. His unchanging expression on the mound, the "Klubotic'' way in which he goes about his business, can unnerve opponents simply because he never appears to be rattled by them.

    Got a leadoff single? Good for you. I'll strike out the next three.

    Scored one run? Fine. That's probably all you're going get.

    Dinged me for a non-quality start? Enjoy. I'll be back, better than ever, somewhere else in five days.

    Kluber's legendary calmness wouldn't mean much, of course, if he didn't possess a first-class repertoire. His fastball/cutter/breaking pitch mix, with changeups sprinkled in, has been a recurring nightmare for hitters. It is the main reason he won the American League Cy Young Award in 2014 and again in 2017. He should be a finalist this fall; he is 20-7 with 216 strikeouts, a 2.83 ERA and 6.0 bWAR in 32 starts for the AL Central champions. (Tampa Bay Rays lefty Blake Snell likely will dethrone him thanks to a ridiculously good season that included a sub-2.00 ERA.)

    On Sept. 24 in Chicago, after Kluber shut down the White Sox to secure his first career 20-victory season, Kluber downplayed the accomplishment. He told reporters: "Twenty wins is cool. It's a nice, round number. But as long as we win the game, that's the main goal."

    That the Indians long ago clinched the division/playoff seeding didn't matter to Kluber. He wanted to make sure his team improved to 88-68.

    The team-based approach is one of myriad reasons the Indians and their fans should appreciate what they have in Kluber, especially because it was anything but guaranteed. A fourth-round pick by San Diego out of Stetson in 2007, Kluber came to the Indians in July 2010 in the three-team trade that involved Jake Westbrook. Kluber was not on anybody's future Cy Young list. As recently as 2011, Kluber had a 5.56 ERA in 27 starts for Class AAA Columbus.

    An unrelenting work ethic and belief in abilities, coupled with the development of the cutter, propelled Kluber from potential anonymity to the top of an MLB rotation. Young pitchers in the Indians organization -- or any organization, for that matter -- would be wise to draw inspiration from him. He wasn't a first-round pick from a big-name school, success didn't occur seamlessly, but he found a way.

    At the same time, those young pitchers need to understand that Kluber's unrelenting work ethic is different than most others' -- be careful what you wish for. His cutter and breaking stuff are next-level; good luck trying to replicate. And it helps to have a brain to accompany.

    Tribe catcher Yan Gomes once raved to me about Kluber's baseball IQ, about his mental preparation for each start, about his in-game adjustments based on what he sees from hitters. I got a direct glimpse under the cap when I interviewed Kluber earlier this season about grips and strategy. I thought I knew a little bit about pitching....until I spoke with Kluber for 20 minutes.

    Kluber's next start will be Saturday in Kansas City, then the American League Division Series against Houston. It's no secret: The postseason was not kind to Kluber in 2017 (two duds against the Yankees in the Tribe's five-game ALDS loss) or at the end of 2016 (dud against the Cubs in Game 7 of the World Series). Kluber's back reportedly might have been bothering him in ALDS 2017, but he never used it as an excuse -- another attribute.

    A pitcher of Kluber's caliber is expected to deliver when it matters most. When that doesn't happen, said pitcher will be criticized. Kluber is among those who gets it.

    However, what has happened and could happen in the postseason should not preclude Tribe fans from taking a moment to savor Kluber. This caliber of talent is rare, and the Indians would not be where they are without him.


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    The Buffalo Bulls host Army on Saturday. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - Kent State at Ball State and Northern Illinois at Eastern Michigan headline the only head-to-head Mid-American Conference games on Saturday.

    Kent State (1-3) and Ball State (1-3) will open MAC play 3 p.m. at Scheumann Stadium in Indiana.

    The Golden Flashes are led by quarterback Woody Barrett (826 yards, 4 touchdowns) with a 57.4 percent completion percentage and three rushing touchdowns.

    Running back James Gilbert leads the Cardinals with 302 yards and receiver Justin Hill with 21 catches.

    Northern Illinois (1-3, 1-0 in the MAC) plays at Eastern Michigan (2-2, 0-1 in the MAC) starting at 6 p.m.

    An interesting non-conference game includes Buffalo (4-0) against Army (2-2). The Black Knights are coming off an overtime loss to Oklahoma last weekend.

    The Bulls are on a seven-game winning streak. They are off to their first 4-0 start in the program's FBS history.


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