Monday’s Sports in Brief
SEATTLE (AP) — The Oakland Athletics clinched their first playoff berth in four years Monday night, earning at least an American League wild card when the Tampa Bay Rays lost to the New York Yankees.
Following three straight last-place finishes in the AL West, the A’s found out just a couple of minutes after the first pitch of their game against Seattle that they are in the postseason for the first time since 2014.
Tampa Bay’s 4-1 loss to the Yankees eliminated the Rays from playoff contention. Oakland still has an outside shot at overtaking Houston for the division title, but is more likely headed toward a wild-card matchup with the Yankees.
The A’s could still host that game. They beat the Mariners 7-3 to remain 1½ games behind the Yankees for the top wild card.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Bobby Evans has been fired as the San Francisco Giants’ general manager.
San Francisco said Monday that Evans will be reassigned, with responsibilities to be determined.
The Giants began the final week of the season 72-84, their second straight losing record.
The team will start a search for a new head of baseball operations.
Evans was hired by the Giants in 1994, became vice president of baseball operations in 2009 under general manager Brian Sabean and was promoted to GM in April 2015 when Sabean became executive vice president of baseball operations.
CLEVELAND (AP) —Baker Mayfield was named the Browns’ new starting quarterback on Monday, and the No. 1 pick will make his first start Sunday at Oakland.
Coach Hue Jackson made the move to replace Tyrod Taylor with Mayfield after the rookie led the Browns to a 21-17 come-from-behind win Thursday night over the New York Jets — Cleveland’s first win since 2016.
Under the national TV spotlight, Mayfield came in for an injured Taylor and showed poise during his pro debut. He made quick decisions and throws while completing 17 of 23 passes for 201 yards in just more than one half.
Taylor, who sustained a concussion, was starting because the Browns’ plan was to have Mayfield watch and learn as a backup until he was ready.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will need season-ending surgery on his injured left knee.
The 49ers said Monday that an MRI confirmed the team’s fears that Garoppolo tore his ACL while making a cut late in a loss at Kansas City. The injury deals a serious blow to the 49ers (1-2), who had planned their rebuild around Garoppolo.
Now San Francisco must go through the season with C.J. Beathard at quarterback. The Niners struggled with Beathard last season before the midseason addition of Garoppolo changed their fortunes. San Francisco won the final five games last year after Garoppolo took over as starter and the team rewarded him with a $137.5 million, five-year contract.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Hall of Fame receiver Tommy McDonald has died at 84.
His death was announced Monday by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Details were not disclosed.
McDonald was the small, speedy and sure-handed receiver who teamed with quarterback Norm Van Brocklin to help the Philadelphia Eagles win the 1960 NFL championship.
McDonald was a two-time All-American for Oklahoma. He played 12 seasons for NFL five teams and was a six-time Pro Bowl selection. When he retired in 1968, he ranked second in league history in touchdown catches, fourth in yards receiving and sixth in receptions.
The 5-foot-7, 175-pound McDonald had to wait 30 years before becoming the smallest player inducted into the Hall.
ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — First-round draft pick Alexander Alexeyev has signed a $2.775 million, three-year entry-level contract with the Washington Capitals.
The team announced the deal with the defenseman on Monday.
It has an average annual value of $925,000.
The 18-year-old from Russia was taken with the 31st overall pick in this year’s NHL draft. He spent last season in the Western Hockey League.
Alexeyev recorded an assist in a preseason game for the Capitals against the Boston Bruins this month.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Forward Brian Gionta is retiring at age 39 after 16 NHL seasons, a person with direct knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Gionta hasn’t disclosed what he plans to announce during a news conference Monday at the Buffalo Sabres’ arena.
Gionta is a former Montreal Canadiens and Sabres captain and two-time U.S. Olympian. He won a Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils in 2003. At 5-foot-7, Gionta overcame questions about his size to play various roles while establishing his reputation as a leader.
Gionta is in discussions with the Sabres about a part-time off-ice role that would allow him to spend more time with his family, the person added. Gionta is from nearby Rochester, New York, and makes his home in Buffalo.
The Women’s Final Four will have a familiar feel to it for the next few years.
The NCAA on Monday chose San Antonio, Minneapolis, Dallas and Cleveland to host the event from 2021 through 2024. All four cities have hosted before.
The next two sites were determined a few years ago, with Tampa Bay hosting in 2019 and New Orleans in 2020. San Antonio will hold it in 2021, followed by Minneapolis, Dallas and Cleveland.
This will be the third time that San Antonio has hosted the Women’s Final Four. The all-time attendance record was set there in 2002, with 29,619 people attending the national semifinals of the Women’s NCAA Tournament. The Final Four returned to the city in 2010. UConn won the championship both years. The event again will be held in the Alamodome.
LONDON (AP) — Luka Modric broke a decade of award dominance by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi after being crowned world footballer of the year by FIFA on Monday.
Modric was voted FIFA’s best player in the 2017-18 season after winning the Champions League for a fourth time in five seasons with Real Madrid and leading Croatia to its first World Cup final where it lost to France.
Messi and Ronaldo were the only winners of world soccer’s main individual award from FIFA in various guises since 2008, both winning five titles each.
Messi didn’t make the three-man shortlist and skipped the trip to London. And as a new dawn in FIFA’s awards history broke inside London’s Royal Festival Hall, Ronaldo also didn’t turn up at the ceremony to finish runner-up to his former Real Madrid teammate.
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Lionel Messi will miss Argentina’s friendly against Brazil on Oct. 16 in Saudi Arabia.
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said on Monday that Messi will not be called for the brief tour. He will also miss the other friendly in Saudi against Iraq on Oct. 11.
Scaloni, the interim national coach until January, said Argentina was focusing on blooding younger players.
Messi has made no public comments about his decision to be left out of the Argentina squad, which he hasn’t played for since the World Cup.
Messi was also absent from Argentina’s two-match tour of the United States this month.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — USA Diving’s chief executive officer is out after 16 months.
The national governing body said Monday that Lee Walsi Johnson will be leaving on Oct. 5.
He began his tenure in May 2017 after coming from USA Gymnastics, where he was vice president of marketing. His background was in strategic planning and brand building.
Michele Mitchell, chair of USA Diving’s board of directors, thanked Johnson for his service “in an extremely challenging time of transition.”
USA Diving says the rapidly changing environment of Olympic sports has “necessitated a change in the financial strategy of the organization.”
SEATTLE (AP) — The Seattle City Council unanimously approved plans for a privately funded $700 million renovation of KeyArena on Monday, clearing one of the last major hurdles in the city’s bid to land an expansion NHL franchise.
The 8-0 vote was the last step needed to strengthen Seattle’s expansion application and it means a team could be playing in the new building during the 2020-21 season.
The next phase in the arena/franchise process comes next week when Seattle Hockey Partners, the ownership group attempting to land the expansion team, presents before the NHL Board of Governors’ Executive Committee.