NLDS Dodgers Braves Baseball

Los Angeles Dodgers' Enrique Hernandez (14) steals second base against Atlanta Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies (1) during the seventh inning in Game 4 of baseball's National League Division Series on Oct. 8, 2018 in Atlanta. 

MLB considers rule

changes to baseball

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Baseball owners and players are hoping to invigorate the sport with rule changes, though some of the more radical ideas under consideration are not likely to be adapted for this season.

"We would prefer more action and more offense," St. Louis Cardinals chairman William DeWitt Jr. said Thursday at the owners meetings. "There are always ways to improve the game and speed up the game and speed up the action."

Major League Baseball has proposed that a team not be allowed to bring in a reliever until the previous pitcher has faced three batters or an inning ends. Players want the designated hitter expanded to the National League.

MLB wants pitch clocks and further restrictions on mound visits without pitching changes.

Strikeouts exceeded hits for the first time last year and the big league batting average dropped to its lowest level since 1972, the year before the American League adopted the DH.

"I don't think any of us are thrilled about more strikeouts and hits," said Joe Torre, MLB's chief baseball officer and a Hall of Fame manager. "To me the excitement in our game is basically the potential of things happening on the basepaths."

Management and the players' association have taken the rare step of a somewhat expansive negotiation in the middle of a collective bargaining agreement. The current five-year deal extends through the 2021 season.

While pitch clocks are possible for this season, some changes are more likely to evolve slowly. Players would like the relief pitcher restriction to reach the major leagues in 2020. A DH in both leagues could be considered an economic issue by management, one more ripe for discussion in the next labor contract.

The competition committee met Wednesday and the executive council Thursday, and a full owners session is scheduled for Friday. Management proposed changes Jan. 14, the union responded Feb. 1 and the next move is up to MLB.

But following three years of attendance drops and with the sport in the midst of the second slow free agent market, both sides are more willing than last offseason to exchange ideas.

Bob Stoops back in coaching

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Bob Stoops initially rejected the idea of coming out of retirement to join the reincarnation of the XFL.

Then the former Oklahoma coach had time to think about all the extra time in his schedule roughly a year and a half after he stepped away from the Sooners after 18 seasons .

Add a little arm twisting from league commissioner and former college administrator Oliver Luck and a chat with XFL benefactor Vince McMahon, and Stoops decided he was ready to get back in football.

The 58-year-old Stoops was named coach and general manager of the Dallas franchise on Thursday at the home of baseball's Texas Rangers. A reconfigured Globe Life Park will be the home field for Dallas when the XFL debuts in the spring of 2020, about the same time the Rangers move across the street to a new ballpark.

Mickelson starts well

at Pebble Beach

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Phil Mickelson has been coming to the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am since 1995 and has won it four times, so there isn't much he hasn't accomplished along the Monterey Peninsula. Thursday delivered something new.

Mickelson didn't miss a single fairway.

"History was made today," Mickelson said after his 6-under 65 at Monterey Peninsula, leaving him one shot behind Brian Gay and Scott Langley. "To the best of my knowledge, it's taken me 27 years and a few months to hit all fairways in a single round in competition. I may have done it before, but I don't ever recall doing it."

His accuracy was better than his memory.

According to the PGA Tour, Mickelson has done it seven times, most recently 21 years ago at Torrey Pines. Perhaps even more remarkable about that round in 1998 was that even playing from the short grass on every shot, he still had a 73.

That wasn't the case on an ideal day — perhaps the last beautiful day of the week — for scoring. Over three rain-softened tracks — the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula, Spyglass Hill and Pebble Beach — 59 players in the 156-man field shot in the 60s.

Gronk gets bonked by beer

BOSTON (AP) — Gronk got bonked.

Rob Gronkowski, the New England Patriots' star tight end, says he got hit in the face by a can of beer thrown during Tuesday's Super Bowl victory parade in Boston.

Gronkowski told "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon" the can drew blood, and he showed Fallon the small cut it left near one of his eyebrows.

He said: "I'm just chilling, then boom, pop, full beer can right to the face."

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