Wednesday's Sports in Brief
By The Associated Press
Dec. 28, 2017
HOUSTON (AP) — Jose Altuve led the Houston Astros to their first World Series title with a win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in November and picked up the franchise's first MVP trophy in more than two decades a couple of weeks later.
And as his huge 2017 is coming to a close, the diminutive second baseman already is looking for more.
Altuve, who was one of only a handful of players who endured the Astros' painful rebuilding process en route to this year's championship, which gave hope to a city ravaged by Hurricane Harvey, was chosen as The Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year.
Results of voting by U.S. editors and news directors was announced Wednesday. The 5-foot-6 dynamo got 715 points, beating out New England quarterback Tom Brady, who had 646, and third-place finisher Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James, with 626.
Liverpool is breaking the world transfer record for a defender by signing Virgil van Dijk from Southampton in a $100 million move.
Following Liverpool's long-running pursuit of the 26-year-old Netherlands international, Southampton announced on Wednesday that it accepted the record fee ahead of the January transfer window opening.
The transfer fee of 70 million pounds ($94 million) could reach 75 million pounds ($100 million) depending on Van Dijk's achievements at Anfield.
The deal eclipses the previous highest amounts paid for defenders who are rarely in contention for the top awards in football dominated by goal-scorers. English Premier League leader Manchester City paid around 50 million pounds each for Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker in the summer transfer window.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — A day after Pro Bowl safety Landon Collins referred to him as a cancer, cornerback Eli Apple was suspended Wednesday by the New York Giants for the season finale against the Washington Redskins.
The Giants announced the suspension hours after Apple had participated in the practice. Interim general manager Kevin Abrams and interim coach Steve Spagnuolo informed him of the suspension.
"We have suspended Eli for a pattern of behavior that is conduct detrimental to the team," Abrams said.
Collins never referred to Apple, the Giants' first-round draft pick in 2016, by name in a radio interview on Tuesday. However, he said only one cornerback on the team needed to grow up and later added, "But that first pick ... he's a cancer."
Collins apologized for the comments on Wednesday. He and Apple met separately with Spagnuolo and then all three talked.
Collins was not in the locker room after practice. Apple declined to speak with the media.
The suspension was announced several hours later.
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Detroit Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson is out for at least six to eight weeks with a sprained right ankle.
Jackson was injured after making a jump pass and landing awkwardly Tuesday night in a win over the Indiana Packers.
He is averaging 14.6 points, ranking third on the team, and leads the Pistons with 5.5 assists per game. Jackson was limited to 52 games last season, largely due to a knee injury.
The Pistons play Thursday night at Orlando and will likely start Ish Smith in place of Jackson.
Jack Van Berg, a Hall of Fame trainer who oversaw Alysheba to victories in the 1987 Kentucky Derby and Preakness, died Wednesday. He was 81.
He died in a Little Rock, Arkansas, hospital, according to a spokeswoman for Oaklawn Park, where Van Berg had relocated his training base after leaving Southern California in 2013. No cause was given.
Van Berg ranks fourth all-time among trainers in North America, with 6,523 victories from 41,164 starts, according to Equibase. He had career purse earnings of $85,925,482.
In the Derby, Alysheba and jockey Chris McCarron were nearly knocked down at the top of the stretch by Bet Twice. Alysheba recovered and won despite having just one career victory before the Run for the Roses. Alysheba won the Preakness to set up a try for the Triple Crown but finished fourth in the Belmont.
As a 4-year-old, Alysheba won the 1988 Breeders' Cup Classic and went on to earn the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year.
Van Berg saddled Gate Dancer to victory in the 1984 Preakness. That same year, he earned the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer.
Van Berg was elected to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1985.