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Florida Sports

Miami Marlins’ ballpark to be renamed loanDepot park

MIAMI (AP) — Marlins Park will be renamed loanDepot park in a multiyear naming rights agreement announced Wednesday by the Miami Marlins.
The deal provides additional revenue for the Marlins, who have operated with budget constraints and a small payroll for most of their history. They have not previously had a naming rights agreement for their ballpark, which opened in 2012.
The Marlins also recently signed a new local TV contract that more than doubles their previous agreement, which was $20 million a year.
Marlins CEO Derek Jeter said the team will be in a position to spend more on players in the future.
“We have done a pretty good job of loading up our minor league system with a lot of prospects, and we’re going to give them an opportunity to play,” Jeter said. “When we get to the point where we’re trying to fill some holes, we’ll do that.”
Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. The Marlins open the season at home Thursday against Tampa Bay.
LoanDepot, which already had a partnership with MLB, is a financial services company founded in 2010 and based in Southern California.
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Florida Sports

Omar Payne joins growing list of players to leave Florida

By MARK LONG
AP Sports Writer
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida’s rebuilding project continues to grow.
Forward Omar Payne entered the transfer portal Tuesday and became the fifth player to leave coach Mike White’s program since the end of the season.
The 6-foot-10 Payne joined shooting guard Noah Locke, backup point guard Ques Glover and reserve forward Osayi Osifo in looking to play elsewhere next season. Star point guard and leading scorer Tre Mann entered the NBA draft with plans of hiring an agent, meaning he has no intention of returning to school for his junior season.
Payne, a sophomore from Kissimmee, averaged 3.8 points and 3.2 rebounds while playing close to 16 minutes a game this season. He was suspended for Florida’s opening-round win against Virginia Tech in the NCAA Tournament after getting ejected for elbowing Tennessee’s John Fulkerson in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
But there’s no indication Florida is done dealing with departures. Guards Scottie Lewis and Niels Lane along with forward Samson Ruzhentsev are still weighing their options, according to the team’s official website.
Forward Colin Castleton, guard Tyree Appleby, forward Anthony Duruji and center Jason Jitoboh, meanwhile, told White during end-of-season exit interviews that they intend to return. Castleton, the team’s second-leading scorer, entered his name in the NBA draft to get feedback on his skills. But he did not hire an agent and plans to return.
It’s unclear what the future holds for talented swingman Keyontae Johnson, who has not been cleared to practice or play since collapsing on the court during a game in December. The cause of his collapse and his current condition have not been released publicly.
The Gators will be active in the burgeoning transfer portal to rebuild their roster, especially since White signed just one prospect in the 2021 class: guard Kowacie Reeves.
Despite constant turnover — the norm in college hoops these days — White has made four consecutive NCAA Tournaments. He also has had success bringing in transfers, landing Jalen Hudson, Canyon Barry, Egor Koulechov and Kerry Blackshear since replacing NBA-bound Billy Donovan in 2015.
His entire 2016 (Eric Hester, Dontay Bassett and Gorjok Gak) and 2017 (Deaundrae Ballard, Mike Okauru, Chase Johnson and Isaiah Stokes) classes transferred. Only Keyontae Johnson remains from Florida’s 2018 class, which lost talented point guard Andrew Nembhard to Gonzaga last year and now is without Locke.
Payne is the 12th of 18 signees during White’s last five years to transfer, leaving the Gators with little continuity and in a steady state of rebuilding.
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Florida Headlines

Debate brews in Florida about parental consent over sex ed

By BOBBY CAINA CALVAN
Associated Press
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Culture-war politics over sex education could again erupt in Florida’s statehouse, as a Senate Committee advanced a measure Tuesday that would require public school boards to hold hearings on what should be included in sex education curricula.
The move sets up a potential clash with a House bill that seeks to require school districts to first get parental permission before a student can be taught about human reproduction and its consequences.
The debate in Florida is part of a wider national discussion, much of it pushed by social conservatives, about whether public schools are the proper venues for teaching children about sex — including unintended pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases such as the virus that causes AIDS.
The measure arrived before the Senate Criminal Justice Committee as a bill that would protect children against pornography and other harmful material but morphed into a proposal about sex education.
Comprehensive sex education is not mandated across Florida, but state law does not bar school districts from offering such instruction in their classrooms. However, current state law requires school districts to provide comprehensive health education, including what it calls “an awareness of the benefits of sexual abstinence as the expected standard and the consequences of teenage pregnancy.” It also includes a provision on dating violence and abuse, as well as “the characteristics of healthy relationships.”
Some lawmakers are seeking to rewrite the law so sex education, if offered by a school district, would not be an automatic part of a child’s school curricula. Under the proposal in the Florida House — and the initial version introduced in the Senate — schools would have to get written consent from parents if they want their children to take part in sex education classes.
“We are in a time when our basic values are up for debate,” said state Sen. Dennis Baxley, a Republican. “They go to school and hear one thing, and they go home and hear another thing — and it puts kids in a tough spot.”
Sen. Jeff Brandes, a fellow Republican, offered a compromise supported by the majority of the panel that would instead require school boards to publicly debate what should be included in the sex education curricula and post that information online for parental review so they can decide whether to exclude their children from such classes.
Sen. Annette Taddeo, a Democrat, urged her colleagues on the committee to defend its version from attempts to replace it with the House version.
“I think this education to our kids is essential,” she said.
Sex education has long been an area of fierce debate. In Idaho, a proposal would require that a student cannot be exposed to discussions about gender identity, sexual orientation, sexual intimacy and eroticism without the consent from parents.

Categories
Florida Headlines

Florida man guilty of setting store on fire during unrest

TAMPA (AP) — A Florida man was convicted Tuesday of setting fire to a sporting goods store and shopping center in Tampa during unrest that followed protests over the death of George Floyd last year.
Terrance Lee Hester Jr., 20, pleaded guilty in Tampa federal court to damaging or destroying by fire a building used in interstate commerce, according to court records. He faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 5 years and up to 20 years in prison, the Department of Justice said in a news release.
Hester was identified in surveillance video as throwing a flaming piece of cloth into a Champs Sports store through a broken window last May, according to a criminal complaint. The damage to the store and other businesses in the plaza was estimated at $1.25 million.
The Champs store was one of several businesses in a commercial district of Tampa that were damaged or looted following what had been a peaceful protest over the May 2020 death of Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for several minutes.
Hester surrendered to federal authorities in Oswego, New York, last July. That same month, a state prosecutor in Tampa filed rioting and looting charges against dozens of people for ransacking stores, causing destruction and fighting with police officers the same night as the Champs fire.
A sentencing date was not immediately set.

Categories
Florida Headlines

Florida Lottery Numbers drawn Tuesday

By The Associated Press
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — These Florida lotteries were drawn Tuesday:
Cash4Life
10-13-33-36-58, Cash Ball: 3
(ten, thirteen, thirty-three, thirty-six, fifty-eight; Cash Ball: three)
Fantasy 5
04-19-28-33-36
(four, nineteen, twenty-eight, thirty-three, thirty-six)
Jackpot Triple Play
02-09-25-29-30-34
(two, nine, twenty-five, twenty-nine, thirty, thirty-four)
Estimated jackpot: $1.1 million
Mega Millions
11-37-47-53-56, Mega Ball: 15, Megaplier: 3
(eleven, thirty-seven, forty-seven, fifty-three, fifty-six; Mega Ball: fifteen; Megaplier: three)
Estimated jackpot: $152 million
Pick 2 Evening
9-5, Fireball: 4
(nine, five; Fireball: four)
Pick 2 Midday
6-7, Fireball: 8
(six, seven; Fireball: eight)
Pick 3 Evening
0-0-8, Fireball: 4
(zero, zero, eight; Fireball: four)
Pick 3 Midday
9-6-8, Fireball: 8
(nine, six, eight; Fireball: eight)
Pick 4 Evening
5-0-2-1, Fireball: 4
(five, zero, two, one; Fireball: four)
Pick 4 Midday
8-6-6-0, Fireball: 8
(eight, six, six, zero; Fireball: eight)
Pick 5 Evening
5-1-4-6-5, Fireball: 4
(five, one, four, six, five; Fireball: four)
Pick 5 Midday
0-4-3-9-5, Fireball: 8
(zero, four, three, nine, five; Fireball: eight)
Powerball
Estimated jackpot: $20 million

Categories
Florida Headlines

Police: Woman in car with 2 young children fatally shot

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A 21-year-old woman was fatally shot while sitting in a car with two small children at a busy intersection in St. Petersburg, police said.
The shots that killed KiMia Simmons on Tuesday evening came from another vehicle, said St. Petersburg police spokeswoman Yolanda Fernandez.
The children and a man who was driving the Volvo sedan were not injured, she said. Simmons was taken to a hospital where she later died of her injuries.
Fernandez said in a news conference that the woman was not the intended target of the shooting, but the vehicle itself likely was. She added that the shooting was not a result of road rage.
“This is a particularly concerning case because not only was she killed, there were also two small children who were in the car,” Fernandez said. “Luckily they were not hurt.”
No additional details have been released.

Categories
Ohio Sports

New to NFL coaching, Urban Meyer scouts Ohio State players

By MITCH STACY AP Sports Writer
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — New Jacksonville Jaguars coach Urban Meyer likes to go with what he knows and trusts. That may end up benefiting some of his former recruits who worked out at Ohio State’s pro day on Tuesday in front of Meyer and other NFL coaches and executives.
Meyer, who retired as Ohio State coach at the end of the 2018 season, took the Jacksonville job in mid-January. He has shown up personally at just one other school’s pro day — for Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who the Jaguars are expected to take with the top overall draft pick next month.
It stands to reason Meyer will give a good once-over to the group of draft-eligible Ohio State seniors he already recruited and who thrived under his tutelage.
“It would be cool to play with coach Meyer, just because I know what he brings to the table and the culture he brings,” said linebacker Justin Hilliard, one of 14 players to work out at Ohio State in lieu of the canceled scouting combine.
Does being a former Meyer guy give him an edge?
“Yeah,” he said. “I think he knows exactly how I go to work every single day. I mean, when coach Meyer was here he ran special teams, and when he was here I believe I was the best special teams player in the country.”
Meyer is considered a master recruiter and motivator at the college level. He spent seven seasons at Ohio State and won a national championship after winning a pair of national titles at Florida. But he’s coaching in the NFL for the first time and has already lamented the difficulty of trying to evaluate free-agent talent without getting to know the players, a process made more difficult by COVID-19 restrictions. Much different than the lengthy and personal recruiting process that takes place in college.
“You’re talking about organizational decisions made by people, (and) there’s chances we have not spent much time with (the players), and to be honest with you, I don’t feel great about that,” Meyer said last month.
Already the Jaguars signed running back Carlos Hyde, who played for Meyer at Ohio State in 2012-13. Could other former Buckeyes follow?
“He’s a great resource to have, being so close with him,” said linebacker Pete Werner, who had a chance to catch up with Meyer on Tuesday. “I think we do (have an advantage), just because he seen all our work, he knows the culture here at Ohio State, he knows how we work. Him seeing us today in person, it clarified it for the rest of his staff. I do think we might have an edge, but you never know.”
The player with the highest profile Tuesday was quarterback Justin Fields, like Lawrence expected to be an early first-round pick. He was not, however, a Meyer recruit. Fields starred for two years under coach Ryan Day, who had lured him as a transfer from Georgia right after Meyer departed.
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AP Pro Football Writer Mark Long contributed.
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Categories
Ohio Sports

Akiyama, Gray among hurting Reds who will miss opening day

By MITCH STACY AP Sports Writer
Spring training took its toll on the Cincinnati Reds, and some key players who suffered injuries won’t be back in time for Thursday’s opener.
Outfielder Shogo Akiyama (hamstring), and pitchers Sonny Gray (back) and Michael Lorenzen (shoulder strain) will miss the opener but aren’t expected to be sidelined too long after that.
The good news is first baseman Joey Votto, who missed 13 days of spring training with COVID-19, has eased his way back, hit the ball well and looked solid in the field during the final spring training games. He appears to be in position to start on opening day for the 13th consecutive season, but that decision has yet to be made.
Outfielder Nick Senzel also is expected to be on manager David Bell’s lineup card Thursday after dealing with a groin strain this spring. Tejay Antone, who was a candidate for Cincinnati’s starting rotation, was hampered by minor groin and hip issues. He didn’t get enough innings to earn a starting role but is expected to be fine for bullpen work.
The Reds open the season Thursday afternoon, with right-hander Luis Castillo on the mound against St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Jack Flaherty.
When Votto got healthy again and returned from isolation on March 20, he saw the Reds infield had gotten a shuffle. Slugging third baseman Eugenio Suarez was moved to shortstop in the middle of spring camp, a situation that will stick for now.
“It is looking like he’s going to end up being the everyday shortstop,” Reds general manager Nick Krall said.
Mike Moustakas then made the shift from second base to third base, where he has played for most of his 11-year major league career. Thanks to a productive spring, Jonathan India will be the likely starter at second base. If that happens, he’ll be the first Reds rookie to start at second since Pete Rose in 1963.
With Gray sidelined — and NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer gone via free agency — the rest of the Cincinnati starting rotation has to be ironed out but is likely to include Tyler Mahle, Wade Miley, Jeff Hoffman and José De León.
New faces in the Reds bullpen include left-hander Cionel Perez, acquired in a trade with Houston, and right-hander Cam Bedrosian, a veteran who came to camp on a minor league deal. Both earned spots on the roster with good springs.
Lucas Sims, Amir Garrett and Sean Doolittle will make up the committee of closers.
The Reds must find a way to boost last season’s .212 team batting average, the worst in the major leagues. Krall has specific ideas about where he expects to see strides in the first month or two of the season.
“One, we want to have some of the injuries starting to die down, where we can get some of these guys back after the first few weeks,” he said. “Two, it’s guys from last year who will revert back to (the numbers on) their baseball cards, and three, it’s the young guys who make the team taking a step forward.”
Because of continuing COVID-19 restrictions in Ohio, the Reds will open with a capacity crowd of around 12,000 at Great American Ball Park — the first game at the stadium with fans in more than 18 months.
Kyle Farmer, who auditioned at shortstop but made the roster again because of his versatility, said he’s eager to play in front of people again in Cincinnati, where opening day has always been a holiday.
“I remember driving to the field (in 2019) and seeing like all the streets just packed,” he said. “I’ve never seen that before for baseball, and it was pretty awesome. I’m excited to see them them come back again. I know they’re excited. I know people need something to watch, people need something to look forward to, and this is something people will be able to look forward to.”
BELL RETURNS
David Bell rejoined his team in Goodyear, Arizona, on Monday after some time away due to the death last Friday of his brother, Minnesota Twins bench coach Mike Bell, who had cancer.
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Categories
Ohio Sports

Jazz run win streak to 6 games with 114-75 win over Cavs

By MATTHEW COLES Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Donovan Mitchell scored 19 points and Rudy Gobert added 18 points and 17 rebounds to power the Utah Jazz to their sixth straight win, a 114-75 victory over Cleveland on Monday night.
“Coach Quin (Snyder) is pushing us every timeout, pushing us in every halftime of games like this to continue to try to be perfect, to try to be great. In order to do that, you have to be consistent and … tonight we were able to accomplish that for four quarters,” Mike Conley said.
Conley contributed 18 points for the Jazz, who have won 20 straight at home after dropping their first two home games of the season.
“It’s a special feeling, honestly, to be able to come into our building here at Vivint (Arena) and know we have an advantage,” Conley said.
Since the All-Star game, Mitchell has averaged 29.2 points on 50% shooting and 46% from 3-point range. The Jazz only needed Mitchell for 25 minutes in the blowout.
“I think my film work is the biggest reason. When you can’t always get the physical reps in a shortened season and you need to rest your body, it’s the mental things of understanding how teams are going to guard you, what’s going to be open and manipulating the situations to get anything you want,” Mitchell said.
Gobert also has been on a hot streak, averaging nearly 17 points and more than 14 rebounds since the mid-season break. Against the Cavs, he had four blocked shots and affected several others as Cleveland shot just 35% from the field.
“I think I’m getting more and more comfortable offensively, and my teammates are doing a great job looking for me even more. It’s on me to be a better playmaker and then finish around the rim for my team,” Gobert said.
Collin Sexton scored 20 points and Darius Garland had 18 for the Cavs, who lost their last three of a four-game road stretch.
“That’s where we want to be. We want to be a team like them,” Sexton said about the Jazz.
Jordan’s Clarkson’s 3-pointer — his 72nd consecutive game with at least one from long distance — sparked a 17-0 run to end the third quarter, giving the Jazz a 90-52 lead entering the final period.
Without a Cavs shot-blocking threat, the Jazz were feasting on straight-line drives into the lane that led to layups or open 3-point jumpers.
After the Cavaliers missed their first 12 shots of the second quarter, the Jazz took a 44-20 lead and Cleveland never got much closer the rest of the way.
“Tonight was probably one of our best game in terms of consistency defensively. Just about every minute on the court, for everyone that came in, they were locked in defensively,” Gobert said.
The margin underlines the fact that the Jazz are not only winning, but winning big this season on their way to the league’s best record (35-11). The win over the Cavs marks the 25th game that Utah has led by 20 or more, and the fifth straight. It was the eighth wire-to-wire win for the Jazz and the largest margin of the season.
“Sometimes when you get a lead, teams have a tendency to stop sharing the ball as much. That’s something we did a good job of — we kept playing the right way,” Snyder said.
Utah led 53-34 at half — limiting the Cavs to less than 30% shooting and an opponent’s lowest scoring first half of the season.
With few threats in the half-court against the stingy Jazz defense, the Cavs hoped to get out and run. But they only scored five points in transition in the game.
In the third quarter, Cleveland found its best offense was putting Isaiah Hartenstein out near the 3-point line as a facilitator. The big man drew Gobert away from the basket and found cutters heading for the basket.
“The second half, where we started playing together, people started cutting. Made my life easier finding them. I think that’s how we have to play, especially with how young we are,” said Hartenstein, who had a career-high seven assists to go along with his season-high 14 rebounds.
Cleveland’s 74 points nearly matched the Los Angeles Clippers for the lowest output of the season. The Clippers lost 124-73 to Dallas on Dec. 27, 2020.
BASKETBALL’S ALWAYS ON
Mitchell said that basketball is always on screens at home or on the road, even when he’s doing something else like playing video games.
“Any type of game, I’m looking to check habits and find ways to better myself and be the best player I can be,” Mitchell said.
Conley, a veteran in his 14th season, has never seen any teammate watch so much basketball.
“He’s unbelievable. He’s a student of the game,” Conley said. “He’s watching every game that’s on, so he’s always learning and he’s just a fan … He’s applying the things he’s learning and he’s working for it.”
TIP-INS
Cavaliers: Larry Nance Jr. sat out with a non-COVID illness, joining Jarrett Allen (concussion), Matthew Dellavedova (appendectomy), and Kevin Love (calf). … Hartenstein, who came from Denver in the JeVale McGee trade, picked up two fouls in the opening 38 seconds in his first start of the year. … Cleveland used its 22nd different starting lineup and this one featured five players under 25 years of age.
Jazz: Utah is 15-1 when Georges Niang makes at least two 3s this season. He had three against Cleveland. … Up 63-38, the Jazz successfully challenged a foul call on Mitchell stripping Sexton. … The Jazz have a 27-0 record when tallying spurts of 10 or more consecutive points in a game.
UP NEXT
Cavaliers: Host the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night.
Jazz: Visit the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night.
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Categories
Ohio Sports

Infant son of Browns’ Switzer stable after surgery in Boston

By TOM WITHERS AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — Browns wide receiver Ryan Switzer said his infant son is recovering after undergoing surgery in a Boston hospital.
Switzer tweeted an update Monday following the procedure on his 9-month-old, Christian.
“Our sweet baby boy is stable and out of surgery,” he said in the posting that included a photo of his son asleep. “This nightmare is over with. These wonderful people in Boston fixed our son. He’s going to make a full recovery. Praise God.”
Switzer has been updating his son’s medical fight on social media the past few weeks. Earlier, Switzer said a scan had revealed an abnormality and the surgeon working on his son’s case assured the family “they found what they’re looking for in order to operate.”
The boy has had two severe bleeding episodes, and despite a surgery and numerous procedures, doctors had been unable to pinpoint the cause. After consulting with doctors in Pittsburgh, the Switzers transported their son from a hospital in North Carolina to Boston Children’s Hospital last week.
Switzer’s young son had also tested positive for COVID-19.
Switzer said he and his wife, Gabie, have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support they’ve received since Christian first got sick.
The 26-year-old Switzer spent last season on Cleveland’s practice squad. He was with the Pittsburgh Steelers for two years after being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 2017.
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