Wednesday Sports in Brief

Sports

COLLEGE ATHLETICS

College athletes who earn millions for their schools are employees, the National Labor Relations Board’s top lawyer said in guidance released Wednesday that would allow players at private universities to unionize and negotiate over their working conditions.

NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo also threatened action against schools, conferences and the NCAA if they continue to use the term ”student-athlete,” saying that it was created to disguise the employment relationship with college athletes and discourage them from pursuing their rights.

In a statement, the NCAA disputed the characterization of its athletes as employees and said that its member schools and conferences ”continue to make great strides in modernizing rules to benefit college athletes.”

MLB

ST. LOUIS (AP)The Cardinals’ team-record 17-game winning streak ended when Daniel Vogelbach hit a two-run homer that backed Adrian Houser and led the Milwaukee Brewers over St. Louis 4-0 on Wednesday night.

The streak, the longest in the major leagues since Cleveland won 22 straight in 2017, lifted the Cardinals into next week’s NL wild-card game against the Los Angeles Dodgers or San Francisco.

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) – Shohei Othani has thrown his final pitch this season for the Los Angeles Angels, and the two-way All-Star will focus on his at-bats in the final few games.

Manager Joe Maddon said Wednesday it was a mutual decision after a conversation with Ohtani (9-2, 3.18 ERA) that the strong AL MVP candidate not pitch in the season finale Sunday at Seattle.

TORONTO (AP) – Blue Jays slugger Marcus Semien set a major league record for home runs by a second baseman when he hit his 44th of the season on Wednesday night against Yankees ace Gerrit Cole.

Semien’s homer, a two-run drive into the left field bullpen, broke a tie with Davey Johnson (1973 for Atlanta), and gave Toronto an early lead in their September showdown against an AL wild-card rival.

Rogers Hornsby (42 home runs in 1922) and Brian Dozier (42 in 2016) are the only other second basemen in big league history to reach the 40-homer mark.

ST. LOUIS (AP) – Milwaukee Brewers reliever Devin Williams fractured his throwing hand when he punched a wall after his team celebrated its NL Central title, likely knocking him out for the entire postseason.

Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns said before the Brewers’ Wednesday night game with the St. Louis Cardinals that Williams’ injury likely will require surgery. Stearns said there’s an ”outside chance” the 2020 NL rookie of the year could be available for the World Series if the Brewers get that far.

NFL

HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) -Las Vegas Raiders defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has been suspended for six games for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing substances.

The 33-year-old McCoy, a six-time Pro Bowler, is out for the season after hurting his knee in the season opener and can serve the suspension handed down Wednesday while he is out this season.

McCoy said in a statement that the positive test resulted from something he was prescribed to help deal with a previous injury. He called it an ”honest mistake” that he takes full responsibility for the violation.

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have signed Richard Sherman, a three-time All-Pro cornerback and Super Bowl champion who has been dealing with legal issues in the offseason.

Sherman got a one-year deal Wednesday and said Tom Brady helped recruit him to the defending Super Bowl champions, who have been hit hard by injuries to their secondary.

A five-time Pro Bowler, Sherman spent the last three seasons with San Francisco. Before that, he was one of the NFL’s top defenders with Seattle, helping the Seahawks win the 2013 title and go to the Super Bowl the next season. He played seven seasons in Seattle (2011-17).

NBA

NEW YORK (AP) – Instant replay of out-of-bounds violations in the final two minutes of regulation or overtime of NBA games this season will be initiated by a coach’s challenge, rather than referees.

The NBA’s Board of Governors approved the change Wednesday on a one-year trial basis.

WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL

The NCAA women’s basketball tournament will start using ”March Madness” in marketing and branding beginning this season.

Using the phrase, which has been associated with the men’s tournament for years, was one of the recommendations stemming from an external review of gender equity issues of the tournaments. The report released in August was sparked by outrage at the disparities between amenities such as the skimpy weight room available for the women’s teams to use compared with the men’s.

The Division I Women’s Basketball Oversight Committee unanimously supported adopting the phrase.

TENNIS

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) – Top-ranked Novak Djokovic is the latest big name to drop out of the BNP Paribas Open set for next month in the Southern California desert.

Djokovic came up one victory short of claiming all four Grand Slam titles this year, losing in the U.S. Open final earlier this month. He won the Australian, French and Wimbledon titles.

Djokovic joins women’s No. 1 Ash Barty in skipping the tournament featuring the combined men’s and women’s tours. It will be played Oct. 4-17, a switch from its usual March date on the calendar because of the coronavirus pandemic.

SOCCER

SAO PAULO (AP) – Brazilian soccer great Pele is expected to leave the hospital after getting treatment for almost one month, his daughter Kely Nascimento said Wednesday.

The 80-year-old Pele removed a tumor from his colon on Sept. 4 and spent days in intensive care after the surgery.

Hospital Albert Einstein in Sao Paulo did not confirm the soccer great is expected to leave soon.

OLYMPICS

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) – A 21-day quarantine for non-fully vaccinated athletes, officials and workers at the 2022 Beijing Olympics. Daily testing for vaccinated people. No tickets sold to anyone living outside China.

Restrictions imposed to control the COVID-19 pandemic at the next Winter Games in February were announced Wednesday by the International Olympic Committee.

While not imposing a vaccine mandate, organizers in Beijing plan stricter rules than applied at the Tokyo Olympics where vaccination was advised though not demanded within a strict regime of testing.

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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