Alabama is No. 1 in the preseason AP Top 25 for the second straight season. That is also the ninth time overall, second most in poll history. The Crimson Tide received 54 of 63 first-place votes. Ohio State is No. 2 with six first-place votes. Defending national champion Georgia is third with three first-place votes. Clemson is No. 4 and Notre Dame rounds out the top five. The Tide’s preseason No. 1 ranking is the seventh in 15 years. Since the preseason rankings started in 1950, only Oklahoma has been No. 1 in the initial poll more than Alabama.
WNBA’s Brittney Griner appeals her Russian prison sentence
MOSCOW (AP) — Russian news agencies reported that lawyers for American basketball star Brittney Griner have filed an appeal of her nine-year Russian prison sentence for drug possession. The appeal comes as the U.S. and Russia are holding talks that could lead to a high-profile prisoner swap. Griner is an eight-time all-star center with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and two-time Olympic gold medalist. She was convicted Aug. 4 after police said they found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage at a Moscow airport. Griner admitted that she had the canisters in her luggage, but said she had inadvertently packed them in haste and that she had no criminal intent.
Rangers fire manager Chris Woodward short of his 500th game
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The Texas Rangers have fired manager Chris Woodward with the team on pace for its sixth consecutive losing season. He has managed the team for almost four seasons. The move came two days before Woodward would have managed his 500th game with the Rangers. He finished with a 211-287 record in his first managerial job. Woodward was under contract through next season, and the team held an option for the 2024 season. Third base coach Tony Beasley was named the team’s interim manager, starting with Monday night’s game against the Oakland A’s. Texas is 53-61.
Column: Harvick seizes momentum ahead of NASCAR playoffs
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Harvick has surged into title contention with a two-race winning streak that has revived the 2014 NASCAR champion. He snapped a 65-race losing streak last week and Sunday’s win at Richmond gave Harvick a pair of victories in eight days. He’s the only winner of back-to-back Cup races this season. His resurgence came as Harvick and the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team were on the bubble of elimination from the playoff field. Now he’s got all the momentum as NASCAR heads into the final two weeks of the regular season.
4-time boxing champ Broner withdraws from Saturday fight
Four-time world champion Adrien Broner has withdrawn from his nationally televised fight against Omar Figueroa, citing mental health. Broner was supposed to fight on Showtime on Saturday. He announced his decision on social media, saying that mental health is real and he isn’t willing to die from boxing. Broner last fought on Feb. 20, 2021, posting a unanimous decision.
Ten Hag discovering the mess he has inherited at Man United
It appears Ralf Rangnick was correct when he made the blunt assessment that Manchester United needed soccer’s equivalent of “open-heart surgery” to fix the many issues afflicting England’s biggest club. Rangnick said that in April and he has since been replaced by Erik ten Hag as manager. It has taken just two painful Premier League games for Ten Hag to understand quite the mess he has joined. United has underperforming and in certain cases unmotivated players, an imbalanced squad, a faltering recruitment team unable to bring in its primary targets and American owners increasingly loathed by the fans. Ten Hag isn’t helping himself with some questionable decision-making.
AP source: Grizzlies in line for 1st game on Christmas
The Memphis Grizzlies are in line to be part of the NBA’s Christmas showcase for the first time. The Grizzlies will face reigning champion Golden State on Dec. 25 in San Francisco. That’s according to a person with knowledge of the league’s scheduling plans who person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the league isn’t planning to release the season schedule until later this week. The Grizzlies were one of two current NBA franchises yet to have a game on Dec. 25. The Charlotte Hornets are now the only club still waiting for its first Christmas schedule invite.
World Series to start on a Friday, could see latest end ever
NEW YORK (AP) — The World Series is scheduled to start on a Friday for the first time since 1915 and could end on Nov. 5, its latest ever. That’s because of the lockout that delayed opening day. Major League Baseball said Monday its expanded postseason will begin with all four games in the new wild-card series on Oct. 7. The other games are Oct. 8 and 9, if necessary. Each best-of-five Division Series starts Oct. 11. The best-of-seven Championship Series starts Oct. 18 in the NL and Oct. 19 in the AL. The World Series begins Oct. 28, matching its latest start, in 2009. The latest a Series game has been played is Nov. 4, in 2001 and again in 2009.
LSU QB Brennan ends college career before 6th season
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — LSU quarterback Myles Brennan has decided to end his college football career after five seasons with the Tigers. The 23-year-old Brennan announced his decision Monday. He spent his first three years at LSU as a backup. He was named the starter in 2020. But that season was cut short by an abdominal injury after three starts in which he passed for 1,112 yards and 11 touchdowns. Brennan then missed all of last season because of a non-football arm injury that occurred at the end of August camp. Brennan was a prized recruit out of St. Stanislaus High School in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. He graduated from LSU with a degree in sports administration in May 2021.
Las Vegas top WNBA playoff seed, league debuts new format
A’ja Wilson and the Las Vegas Aces are the top seed in the WNBA playoffs. The postseason will have a different look this year with four best-of-three opening round series. The opening two rounds of the postseason had been single-elimination games since 2016. Las Vegas has homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs. Defending champion Chicago is the No. 2 seed and will try to become the first repeat champion since 2001-02.