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Topsy-turvy game ends with Dodgers beating Giants in extra innings

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Topsy-turvy game ends with Dodgers beating Giants in extra innings

When the season ends, and the Dodgers reflect on their 162-game journey through the schedule, the details of Monday’s game against the San Francisco Giants aren’t likely to be remembered.

The result probably will be lumped in with dozens of others, another indistinguishable thread in the tapestry of a six-month season.

But for one crisp Bay Area night, in front of a split crowd of 35,000 at Oracle Park, both the Dodgers and the Giants — and large swaths of their rival fan bases — hung on the anticipation of every little twist.

And in the Dodgers’ 6-4 win, there were plenty of them in a game that featured an early pitchers’ duel, a late-inning bullpen battle, and a dramatic extra-inning ending, when Will Smith hammered a go-ahead two-run double in the top of the 10th and J.P. Feyereisen converted an improbable save for a shorthanded Dodgers bullpen.

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“A lot of weird stuff tends to happen in this stadium, especially late in games,” said longtime Dodgers utilityman Kiké Hernández, who helped push the game to extras with a tying home run in the seventh.

“I think there’s something to the rivalry,” manager Dave Roberts added. “Regardless of records, it seems like we always have tight ballgames.”

On this night, the fireworks started early. Mookie Betts hit a leadoff home run — ending a 26-game home run drought, and giving him his 50th career leadoff blast — only for Giants center fielder Luis Matos to answer in the second inning with a three-run drive to left.

The starting pitchers offered little separation, with Giants right-hander Jordan Hicks giving up two runs over five innings, and Dodgers right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto surrendering four runs for the Dodgers (28-15) while pitching into the sixth.

The Dodgers tied the score at 3-3 by manufacturing runs in the fifth (on a Shohei Ohtani infield single) and sixth (on a Gavin Lux ground-rule double). They did it again the seventh, knotting the score at 4-4 on Hernández’s pinch-hit home run.

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Finally, the tension reached its apex in the bottom of the 10th.

With several of their top relievers out because of injuries, and all of their available late-inning choices having been burned in the regulation innings, the Dodgers were down to Feyereisen — an injury-plagued veteran with a 9.00 ERA this season — as their best option remaining in the bullpen.

That made Smith’s two-run double in the top of the inning imperative, arriving at a crucial time for both the catcher (who entered the night in an 0-for-16 slump) and the team (which was coming off a series loss to the San Diego Padres).

“For us to ‘struggle’ in San Diego … and [tonight] come back and tie the game, tie the game and take the lead late in the game, it was good,” Hernández said. “Hopefully we get rolling again.”

Monday was rich with other minor subplots, in the first of a three-game series at Oracle Park.

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The game marked the first trip both Ohtani and Yamamoto had made to San Francisco since this offseason, when they both legitimately considered the Giants as free agents before spurning them for record-breaking contracts with the Dodgers.

“Having those two guys in orange and black would change the landscape,” Roberts said pregame, before adding with a grin. “I think they look better in Dodger blue.”

Ohtani was greeted with a hostile reception. Unlike last month’s trip to Toronto, there were no unanimous boos from a crowd with large swaths of Dodger blue. But, there was plenty of heckling from those in orange and black — including a sign from one Giants fan that read “Parlay Shohei,” in an apparent dig at the gambling scandal surrounding his ex-interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara.

Yamamoto, meanwhile, was approached after the first inning by the umpires, who were checking to see if his blue glove had too strong of a white accent (MLB regulates glove colors to ensure batters can distinguish the ball on each pitch).

“They said something about the white Nike logo on there, they didn’t know if that was allowable,” Roberts said. “But they were just giving us heads up.”

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After Yamamoto made way, Roberts had to navigate five leverage innings without some of the top arms in his banged-up bullpen.

Alex Vesia limited damage in the sixth, after Yamamoto walked two batters and gave up a go-ahead run on a Heliot Ramos single that got past Betts at shortstop.

The Dodgers then got consecutive zeros from Michael Grove, Daniel Hudson and, in the bottom of the ninth, Blake Treinen — who recorded a crucial pick-off at first base to post his fourth scoreless outing since returning from injury.

Then, after Smith put the Dodgers in front in the top of the 10th, Feyereisen induced a game-ending double-play for just his fifth career save, putting a climatic final touch on Monday’s rollicking one-night script.

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Column: Why the A's 30-year commitment to Nevada has a 'Get Out of Vegas Free' card

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Column: Why the A's 30-year commitment to Nevada has a 'Get Out of Vegas Free' card

The pitch to the Nevada legislature was simple: If you provide the Oakland Athletics with $380 million in public funding toward a new ballpark, the A’s will agree to move to Las Vegas and stay there for at least 30 years.

The A’s got the funding. However, the agreement intended to bind the A’s to Las Vegas provides the team with an unusual escape clause: If ever a tax is aimed at the A’s, the team can leave town without penalty.

“That is not a normal clause in these things,” said Martin J. Greenberg, the founder of the National Sports Law Institute at Marquette University Law School and an expert in so-called non-relocation agreements in Major League Baseball.

“The whole object of this is to keep the team at home.”

This is not on the A’s. The Las Vegas Stadium Authority approved such a provision in luring the Raiders and presented virtually identical contract language to the A’s.

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“It is a targeted tax clause that says if they are taxed in a way that is different than the way other businesses are taxed, they have the option to leave,” said Erica Johnson, director of communications for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

This is not some remote hypothetical. If you go to a show in Las Vegas, you pay a 9% live entertainment tax. If you go to a game in Las Vegas — and the game is staged by a pro team based in Nevada — you do not pay that tax.

In 2021, an effort to remove that professional sports exemption was rejected. During legislative hearings on the A’s funding last summer, a state senator asked A’s President Dave Kaval whether the team would be willing to pay the tax, given that smaller Nevada businesses do. The Raiders and NHL Golden Knights do not.

Kaval dodged a yes or no answer, saying only that the legislation did not contemplate that. In the future, should a specific tax target the A’s, their players or opposing players, the A’s can move out of town.

The A’s propose a 33,000-seat ballpark in Las Vegas. If the A’s sell 26,000 tickets per game at last season’s average major league ticket price of $37, a 9% tax could generate $7 million for Nevada per year.

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In a presentation led by Steve Hill — chairman of the stadium authority and president of the visitors authority — the Nevada legislature was told the A’s could generate an estimated $1.3 billion per year in economic impact. (Most economists consider this estimate wildly optimistic.)

I asked Johnson why the A’s would be provided with an opt-out clause that could jeopardize that economic impact. She did not comment. Hill was unavailable for comment.

“These non-relocation agreements are what I call political cover,” Greenberg said. “They basically are, at least from a politician’s standpoint, the quid pro quo for the gigantic amount of public dollars that are going into these stadiums.

“Basically, the politician can say, ‘Look, we’re investing all this money because the team is going to stay here, based upon a non-relocation agreement.’ ”

In 2022, the Anaheim City Council considered such a targeted tax — a 2% admission tax that would have applied only to Disneyland, Angel Stadium and the Honda Center, where the NHL Ducks play. The council ultimately voted against the tax, in part because the Angels’ lease requires the city to credit the amount generated by any such targeted tax at Angel Stadium against the team’s rental payments.

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The leases of the Colorado Rockies and Seattle Mariners restrict the ability of the respective stadium authorities to impose any targeted taxes. The Miami Marlins’ lease restricts the city or county from imposing a targeted tax and empowers the team to sue if it believes a tax violates the agreement.

David Samson, the former Marlins president who negotiated that lease, said it is impossible to protect against any targeted tax that might be imposed at any level of government at any point in the future. What a lease can do, he said, is say what can happen in the event such a tax is imposed.

“Can be anything,” Samson said, “a rent abatement, some sort of extra flow of funds from general revenue, or it can be as far as, hey, this non-relocation agreement becomes null and void.”

I asked Johnson if any alternative language had been considered besides granting the A’s the ability to move. She did not comment.

For the record, neither Greenberg nor Samson believes Las Vegas would be at high risk of losing the A’s if a targeted tax were to be imposed. For one, although the A’s would have the option to relocate, they could choose not to do so, or negotiate a lease concession in exchange for not doing so.

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If the team did wish to move, it would have to find a new home, secure funding for a new ballpark there, and win a vote among MLB owners — and the saga that led to Las Vegas took two decades for the A’s. Their move to Las Vegas would be only the second MLB relocation since 1972.

“It’s not easy, as we’ve seen, to move a team,” Samson said.

It’s also not easy to build a fan base in a new city. It might be a little bit easier if the “We’re here for 30 years!” pledge were not accompanied by an asterisk.

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Cavaliers dismiss coach J.B. Bickerstaff after two consecutive playoff berths

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Cavaliers dismiss coach J.B. Bickerstaff after two consecutive playoff berths

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The Cleveland Cavaliers had a relatively successful season. Despite advancing to the second round of the playoffs, Cavaliers management decided a coaching change was in order.

Cleveland’s run to the Eastern Conference semifinals marked the franchise’s deepest playoff run since LeBron James’ exit following the 2017-18 season.

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On Thursday, the Cavs announced J.B. Bickerstaff had been relieved of his head coaching duties. Bickerstaff first stepped into the head coaching role in February 2019 following John Beilein’s resignation.

Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff of the Cleveland Cavaliers talks to the media after Game 7 of the first round of the NBA Playoffs against the Orlando Magic May 5, 2024, at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland.   (David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)

Bickerstaff’s dismissal came one week after the Boston Celtics eliminated Cleveland from playoff contention. 

Bickerstaff had to steer the team through numerous injuries during the regular season and NBA playoffs. All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell and center Jarrett Allen were sidelined with injuries during the Cavs’ final two playoff games.

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CAVALIERS’ DONOVAN MITCHELL REFUTES REPORT SUGGESTING HE GREW FRUSTRATED WITH TEAMMATES

Bickerstaff was successful, but other issues apparently led Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and president of basketball operations Koby Altman to make a move.

The coaching change could trigger a summer shift for the Cavs, who are hoping to sign Mitchell to a long-term contract extension and could make major moves while being tied to whatever James ultimately decides to do.

James, who can opt out of his contract with the Lakers, attended Cleveland’s final home playoff game, raising speculation about him making another homecoming and playing a third stint with the Cavs in perhaps a final career act.

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In the short term, the Cavs have begun their search for a replacement for Bickerstaff.

“J.B. is a well-respected NBA coach and an incredible human being,” Altman said in a statement. “Over the past four years, he helped establish a culture that progressively drove players to become the best versions of themselves. Decisions like these are never easy, particularly when you look back at where this franchise rebuild started under his leadership.

“The NBA is a unique business that sometimes requires aggressive risk-taking to move a franchise forward and ultimately compete for championships.”

The Cavs head coach and general manager attend a press conference

Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff and general manager Koby Altman of the Cleveland Cavaliers are interviewed at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse Oct. 2, 2023, in Cleveland. (Jason Miller/Getty Images)

While Bickerstaff was credited with building a strong culture, he had his flaws.

He struggled with in-game adjustments. His offense was often stagnant, and there’s a strong belief there should have been more development by guard Darius Garland and Evan Mobley, who, along with Mitchell and Allen, give the Cavs one of the league’s best young core of players.

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J.B. Bickerstaff coaches the Cavaliers

Cleveland Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff yells instructions to players in the first half of a game against the Houston Rockets Dec. 15, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

In his first full season, Bickerstaff, who was under contract through 2026, went just 22-50 with one of the NBA’s youngest rosters. They improved to 44 wins in his second year before losing in the Play-In Tournament while showing major strides.

After acquiring Mitchell via trade in 2022, the Cavs went 51-31 last season and had home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs before getting knocked out in five games by the New York Knicks. The early exit put added pressure on Bickerstaff to do more this season.

The 45-year-old Bickerstaff went 170-159 in the regular season and 6-11 in the playoffs with Cleveland.

The Cavs went 48-34 this season and stayed among the top teams in the Eastern Conference amid the rash of major injuries.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Maya Brady and UCLA defeat Georgia, move to cusp of Women's College World Series

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Maya Brady and UCLA defeat Georgia, move to cusp of Women's College World Series

The crack of the ball off Maya Brady’s bat in the first inning sent a swift, loud message.

“Storm’s a Bruin,” UCLA coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said. “We’re here.”

Brady, the back-to-back Pac-12 player of the year, went three for four at the plate with two home runs in UCLA’s six-inning, 8-0 win over No. 11 Georgia in the first game of the Los Angeles Super Regional on Thursday. The No. 6 Bruins (41-10) can clinch a berth to the World Series with a win Friday at 7 p.m. at Easton Stadium in the best-of-three Super Regional.

UCLA is trying to make its eighth World Series appearance in nine years. The only blemish was last year’s winless postseason when the Bruins shockingly failed to advance out of the regional for the first time since 2013. The flop was traumatic enough for Inouye-Perez to hire a mental performance coach. Armondo Gonzalez has counseled the team all season, putting players at ease by saying any outcome is “already written.”

“For us, it honestly lifts a weight off of us,” Brady said. “Yes, we obviously have a say in our performance, but at the end of the day, there’s an outcome that’s already written that no matter if we strike out or we go four for four, that was the outcome that was supposed to happen. I think for us, it just allows us to kind of let go and play free.”

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Including UCLA’s three wins in the regional round last weekend, Brady is nine for 12 at the plate in four postseason games with six extra base hits and five RBIs. Her leadoff home run in the fifth inning sparked a four-run burst highlighted by a three-run homer from Jordan Woolery that transformed a tight two-run game into a run-rule watch. Junior Savannah Pola clinched UCLA’s first Super Regional mercy rule win since 2010 with a two-run single in the bottom of the sixth.

The Bruins, who won the Pac-12 regular-season and tournament titles, have won 12 consecutive games and 24 of their last 26. Brady raised her eyebrows in surprise when she heard the stats at the postgame news conference.

UCLA starting pitcher Kaitlyn Terry delivers during the Bruins’ 8-0 win Thursday over Georgia.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

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Along with her electric bat, the shortstop helped turn two double plays on defense to support freshman pitcher Kaitlyn Terry, who gave up four hits and three walks with five strikeouts in six innings.

The left-hander allowed a baserunner in each of the first five innings — three walks and two singles — but effortlessly worked her way out of danger with the help of her defense.

Left fielder Jadelyn Allchin’s diving catch in the second inning set the tone for the defense. Woolery caught a ball in foul territory while sliding to her knee in the third inning after Terry gave up a leadoff single. The pitcher allowed a leadoff walk in the fourth, but Brady erased it flawlessly, taking a hard-hit ball from Georgia’s Sara Mosley off the bounce, tagging second and firing the ball to Woolery at first.

Terry gave up four hits and three walks with five strikeouts in a complete-game victory. She faced her biggest threat in the sixth with runners on the corners and two outs, but used a devastating off-speed pitch to freeze Georgia’s Lyndi Raw Davis. Terry stomped her foot and whipped her fist in the air and the Bulldogs catcher trudged back to the dugout.

UCLA shortstop Maya Brady reacts after completing a double play in front of Georgia's Jayda Kearney.

UCLA shortstop Maya Brady reacts after completing a double play in front of Georgia’s Jayda Kearney in the fourth inning Thursday.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

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UCLA players celebrate after defeating Georgia 8-0 in the NCAA Super Regionals on

UCLA players celebrate after defeating Georgia 8-0 in the NCAA Super Regionals on Thursday.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

The Bruins avenged a 7-2 loss to the Bulldogs (43-18) from Feb. 16. Gonzalez reminded the Bruins of the loss before the game, emphasizing that they were a different team than the one that struggled in tournament play. The loss, UCLA’s first to Georgia since 2012, dropped the Bruins to 3-4, their worst start since 1986.

“This team in ‘24 in the beginning was carrying the burden of figuring out who we were,” Inouye-Perez said.

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The 18-year coach recalled a favorite quote: “She remembered who she was and the game changed.” The Bruins remembered that while they weren’t getting the outcomes early, they still had the ability to be the perennial championship contenders who lead the nation with 12 NCAA titles.

“We understand our sport so that has freed up the pressure of what we need to do or for UCLA,” Inouye-Perez said. “They’re just playing ball, which I love … When they play freely, man, we see some serious Bruin magic.”

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