Update on the latest in sports:
All 30 teams in action on opening day
UNDATED (AP) — Bryce Harper and Mike Trout are set to play — along with everyone else. All 30 Major League Baseball teams are in action Thursday, with opening day on deck at Yankee Stadium, Dodger Stadium and ballparks in between.
Harper takes his first swings since signing a $330 million deal with the Phillies — which was a record until Trout got $426.5 million from the Angels soon after.
Jacob deGrom and Blake Snell get an early chance to defend their Cy Young Awards. First-time winners last year, they’re pitching against the guys who were the runner-ups.
DeGrom starts for the Mets when they face Max Scherzer at Nationals Park, while Snell starts for the Rays against Justin Verlander and the Astros at Tropicana Field. Since the Cy Young Award was first presented in 1956, only twice before have reigning winners opposed the second-place finisher on opening day the next season.
Since the Cy Young Award was first presented in 1956, only twice have reigning winners opposed the second-place finisher on opening day the next season. In 1979, Ron Guidry of the Yankees faced runner-up Mike Caldwell of the Brewers and NL winner Gaylord Perry of the Padres) went against the Dodgers’ Burt Hooton (Dodgers).
The opening day forecast is pretty good in most places, with no snow or frosty temps expected, although rain is a possibility in Kansas City and Oakland.
Harper overtakes Judge for MLB’s top-selling jersey
NEW YORK (AP) — The new No. 3 is the new No. 1.
Major League Baseball says that Bryce Harper has the sport’s top-selling jersey, ending a two-year reign for Aaron Judge’s No. 99.
Harper signed a $330 million, 13-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies this spring, and his new No. 3 jersey set professional sports records for sales in 24 and 48 hours, according to online retailer Fanatics. His fresh get-up has been the top-selling jersey on MLB.com since Jan. 1, 2019.
Harper overtook Judge, the New York Yankees’ 6-foot-7 slugger who had topped the list since his breakout rookie season in 2017.
Reigning AL MVP and World Series champion Mookie Betts of the Boston Red Sox is third, two-time AL MVP Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels is fourth, and veteran St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina is fifth in figures released Thursday.
The Chicago Cubs are the only team with two players in the top 10: Javier Baez at seven and Anthony Rizzo at nine.
Manny Machado placed 12th, making him the first San Diego Padres player to crack the top 20 since MLB began publicizing it in 2010. Machado signed a $300 million, 10-year deal with San Diego this winter.
Now-retired Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki was 13th.
Rays looking to use blue lights
TAMPA, Florida (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays are looking at using blue lights to tint the roof of Tropicana Field in hopes of giving the domed stadium a different look as well as making it easier for players to track fly balls.
Plans to use them are pending approval by Major League Baseball, which is not expected to make a decision by opening day.
Tampa Bay played an exhibition at Tropicana Field on Tuesday and turned on the blue lights for the national anthem, but not during the game.
Sweet 16 tips off
UNDATED (AP) — The second week of the NCAA tournament gets going Thursday night.
The Oregon Ducks take on No. 1 Virginia in the South Region. Oregon is the closest thing to a long shot remaining in the NCAA Tournament after advancing through the opening weekend as a No. 12 seed. But the Ducks are also in the Sweet 16 for the third time in four years and made the Final Four just a couple years ago.
No. 2 seed Tennessee faces third-seeded Purdue in the other matchup in Louisville, Kentucky. The Volunteers have had a chance to catch their breath after nearly matching the biggest blown lead in NCAA Tournament history.
Gonzaga-Florida State and Texas Tech-Michigan decide the finalists in the West Region in Anaheim, California.
Gonzaga, Florida State and Michigan are all back in Southern California for the second straight year for the Sweet 16. Only the Wolverines want things to end the same way they did in 2018.
Ovechkin on verge of 8th 50-goal season
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Washington Capitals face off against the Carolina Hurricanes in a Metropolitan Division showdown Thursday night that will close out a four-game season series.
The Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin (oh-VECH’-kin) is looking for his 50th goals of the season. If and when that happens, he’ll become just the third NHL player with eight 50-goal seasons, joining Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy.
Fifty has become Ovechkin’s number to shoot for, even though it’s an almost-unreachable milestone for everyone else. The Russian superstar owns the past three 50-goal seasons and at 33 years old could become the oldest player to reach that mark since Phil Esposito in 1975.
Ovechkin has led the league in goals seven times, won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP and captured the Stanley Cup. And, he’s showing no signs of slowing down.
NHL embraces more betting with 3rd gambling operator
OXON HILL, Md. (AP) — The NHL has announced its third partnership with a sports gambling operator, a deal with William Hill.
The league previously into entered deals with FanDuel and MGM. All three companies have been designated as “official sports betting partners” of the NHL.
The moves reflect the quickly changing landscape surrounding sports betting. Last May, the Supreme Court ruled that states were free to make sports betting legal if they chose, striking down a law that had essentially limited legal sportsbooks to Nevada.
Sports betting is now legal in eight states, and William Hill runs sports books in Nevada, Mississippi, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.
The league announced the deal Thursday morning, a few hours before Commissioner Gary Bettman was scheduled to speak at a sports gambling summit organized by a casino-industry group.
NBA says Hornets, Bucks will play in Paris in 2020
PARIS (AP) — The NBA is going to play a regular-season game in Paris for the first time next year. The league says Charlotte and Milwaukee will play there on Jan. 24.
Paris has played host to preseason games before and the league hinted several times in recent months that it was considering bringing a game that counts to the city.
Having Charlotte involved makes perfect sense because the Hornets feature French national-teamers Tony Parker and Nicolas Batum.
The game will mark the NBA’s 11th game in France, counting exhibitions.
Jordan and his Chicago Bulls won the McDonald’s Championship in Paris back 1997.
HORSE RACING-SANTA ANITA
Board weighs new rules after 22 horse deaths at Santa Anita
LOS ANGELES A()P — The California Horse Racing Board is weighing new safety and medication rules in the wake of 22 horse deaths at Santa Anita in less than three months.
The board will consider whether to ban the use of medication and whips on racing days.
Santa Anita has suspended racing since March 5.
Racing is expected to resume pending the board’s votes on a number of key issues, including phasing out a medication known as Lasix, already banned on race days in every country but the U.S. and Canada.
While many American horse trainers say Lasix is a vital anti-bleeding medication that keeps horses safe, animal-rights activists say it amounts to a performance-enhancing drug and that most tracks in the world do fine without.
If approved, Santa Anita would become the first racetrack in the nation to impose such restrictions.