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Royals consider signing college pitcher who pleaded guilty to child molestation charge

The Kansas City Royals are considering signing Oregon State pitcher Luke Heimlich, who pleaded guilty as a 15-year-old to molesting his 6-year-old niece, The Kansas City Star reported.

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“We continue to seek information that allows us to be comfortable in pursuing Luke,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said.

In 2012, Heimlich pleaded guilty to child molestation in Washington, Sports Illustrated reported.

According to court documents obtained by The Oregonian, the first time Heimlich molested his niece was when she was 4. He admitted he had “sexual contact” with the girl, The Oregonian reported.

Heimlich and his Oregon State teammates advanced to the College World Series championship series on Saturday, beating Mississippi State 5-2.

For the second straight year, Heimlich was not selected in the Major League Baseball Draft. 

Even though Heimlich is a two-time Pac-12 pitcher of the year, activist Brenda Tracy told the Star the 22-year-old should not be signed.

“I’m sorry, but Luke does not deserve to be on that platform and pedestal, (potentially) looked up to and adored by millions of people, including young kids,” Tracy, a survivor of a gang rape in Corvallis, Oregon, said Saturday. “We should never normalize, we should never minimize (what Heimlich pleaded guilty to). If the Royals bring him on their team, they are complicit in normalizing and minimizing.”

In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Heimlich denied touching his niece despite his guilty plea. 

“I pled guilty to it, but ever since that day and even before that, in court records and everything, I’ve denied ever committing the offense,” Heimlich told the magazine. “I stand by that.”

NASCAR pit reporter Wendy Venturini hit by car while jogging

NASCAR pit reporter Wendy Venturini suffered a skull fracture and concussion Saturday after she was hit by a car while jogging in Novato, California, according to a news release from Venturini Racing.

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Venturini, 39, was in California to cover Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Cup race in Sonoma. She will remain in the hospital for several days, the news release said.

“She’s completely coherent and conversational, and I have talked to her on two occasions today," said Doug Rice, president and general manager of Performance Racing Network. "They told her she would have a really good headache for a couple of days.”

Venturini's father, Bill, is a two-time Auto Racing Club of America champion who founded Venturini Motorsports in 1982, The Sporting News reported.

Blue Jays reliever Roberto Osuna suspended 75 games 

Toronto Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna was suspended for 75 games without pay, retroactive to May 8, for violating baseball’s domestic violence policy, the New York Daily News reported.

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Osuna, 23, an All-Star in 2017, was charged with one count of assault in Toronto and was put on administrative leave, the Daily News reported. The right-hander has not pitched since May 6. 

Osuna has nine saves and a 2.93 ERA in 15 games.

The suspension will cost Osuna $2.54 million of his annual $5.3 million salary, the Daily News reported. He will participate in an evaluation and treatment program, which is confidential and supervised by the joint policy board of Major League Baseball and the players’ association, the newspaper reported.

Sorting through some 2026 World Cup questions

Soccer’s international governing body, FIFA, voted last week to play the 2026 World Cup in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

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And while the announcement raised much excitement in North American soccer circles, it left questions that won’t be fully answered for years. Here are some of them.

WHICH CITIES WILL HOST MATCHES? 

Sixteen North American cities -- at least 10 in the United States -- will be chosen by FIFA in 2020 or 2021 to host matches. Those 16 choices will come from 23 “candidate cities.” FIFA will have negotiating leverage in whittling the number.

The U.S. host cities will be chosen from among these candidates: Atlanta (Mercedes-Benz Stadium), Baltimore (M&T Bank Stadium), Boston (Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts), Cincinnati (Paul Brown Stadium), Dallas (AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas), Denver (Broncos Stadium at Mile High), Houston (NRG Stadium), Kansas City (Arrowhead Stadium), Los Angeles (Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California, or the new NFL stadium under construction), Miami (Hard Rock Stadium), Nashville (Nissan Stadium), New York (MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey), Orlando, Florida (Camping World Stadium), Philadelphia (Lincoln Financial Field), San Francisco (Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California), Seattle (CenturyLink Field) and Washington (FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.) 

In addition, current plans call for matches to be played in up to three cities in Canada (Edmonton, Montreal and Toronto) and up to three in Mexico (Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey). 

"We are blessed with 23 really world-class stadiums -- some iconic, some brand-new cutting-edge and everything in between," U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro said. "I think it will be a very difficult decision to make … when we have to determine the final 16 cities. But it’s a high-class problem.”

Under current plans, 60 matches will be played in the U.S., 10 in Canada and 10 in Mexico. 

WHAT IS THE COST OF HOSTING? 

It helps that no new stadiums will have to be built in North America for the event, but the costs of security, transportation and other requirements will be considerable in any host city. 

“We’ve been told during the bid process it is on the level of (hosting) a Super Bowl,” said Dan Corso, president of the Atlanta Sports Council and chairman of Atlanta’s World Cup committee. “We have not gotten into too much detail on that yet, but we will during this next phase of the process.” 

Ichiro dons fake mustache, hoodie to sit in Mariners' dugout

A mysterious man was sitting in the Seattle Mariners’ dugout Thursday night, sporting a bushy mustache and wearing a hoodie. 

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And shades -- shades reminiscent of Bobby Valentine’s failed disguise in 1999 when he was ejected from a game and tried to sneak back into the dugout.

The mystery man was no stranger to Mariners fans -- Ichiro Suzuki, now an executive in the Seattle front office.

Suzuki sneaked into the Seattle dugout Thursday to watch the first inning of the Mariners’ game at Yankee Stadium against the New York Yankees, The New York Post reported.

"He was perfect. I never would have known it was him,'' Valentine texted to the The Associated Press.

Officially, Suzuki, 44, is not allowed to be in the dugout during games, ESPN reported. He was removed from the Mariners’ roster in May and moved into the front office as a special assistant to the team chairman, the AP reported.

AP photographer Bill Kostroun spotted Suzuki hiding in the dugout during the first inning. He had exited the dugout by the second inning as the Mariners lost 4-3 to the Yankees.Perhaps Suzuki had dropped a hint when he moved into his new position.

"During the game I will be doing the same preparations I've been doing the entire time. Nothing is going to change for me that I did as a player," Suzuki said. "But I can't say for certain that maybe I won't put on a beard and glasses and be like Bobby Valentine and be in the dugout."

Valentine, who was managing the New York Mets in 1999, was ejected from a game in the 12th inning. He later put on a fake mustache and sunglasses and attempted to sit in the dugout.

Valentine was caught and was suspended for two games. He also was fined $5,000.

Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson arrested on domestic assault charge

Nashville Predators player Austin Watson is facing a domestic assault charge, police said Wednesday.

According to WKRN, the 26-year-old NHL forward was arrested Tuesday at a gas station in Franklin, Tennessee, authorities said.

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Watson, who is free on $4,500 bond, is scheduled to appear in court next Thursday.

Read more here.

Landon Donovan's support for Mexico sparks pitched battle off the pitch

Landon Donovan’s support for Mexico at the World Cup has sparked a pitched battle between the most recognizable name in American soccer and his peers, ESPN reported Sunday.

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Donovan has been part of an advertising campaign for Wells Fargo to support Mexico, which opened its World Cup play in Russia with a stunning 1-0 victory against defending champion Germany on Sunday. Critics of the promotion have criticized Landon, calling his cheerleading inappropriate.

Donovan posted a photo on Twitter on Saturday holding a scarf that read “My other team is Mexico.”

Donovan played this spring for León, which is part of Mexico’s Primera Division. Still, some questioned Donovan’s motives.

“Watering it down for beer/banks won’t enrich the rivalry,” ESPN announcer Sebastian Salazar tweeted.

Carlos Bocanegra, the former captain of the U.S. national team, tweeted “Really?” 

Donovan tweeted back that Bocanegra should “remember where you came from.”

“Look around our country, are you happy with how we are treating Mexicans?” Donovan answered. “Open your mind, stand for something and remember where you came from.”

Donovan’s former teammate, Herculez Gomez, an ESPN analyst, criticized that exchange, ESPN reported, tweeting that it was “an incredibly terrible take.”

Ex-University of Oregon football player killed in single-car crash, police say

A former University of Oregon football player was killed Friday in a single-vehicle rollover crash in Eugene, KEZI reported.

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Fotu Tuli Leiato, 21, who was dismissed from the team in late April after he was arrested for allegedly removing a parking boot from a vehicle, was killed in the accident.

Police said Leiato’s body was found by a passerby several hours later at the crash scene. The driver of the vehicle, Pedro Chavarin Jr., 22, said he was the lone occupant of the vehicle, KEZI reported.

Chavarin was taken to a hospital and then was cited for DUI, police said.

Leiato, a 5-foot-11, 202-pound linebacker, played in 38 of 39 games for the Ducks from 2015 through 2017 and made 37 tackles.

Singer Robbie Williams makes obscene gesture at World Cup opening ceremony

English singer Robbie Williams made an obscene gesture toward the camera during the opening ceremony of the World Cup in Moscow, ESPN reported.

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Williams was singing at Luzhniki Stadium when he gestured with his middle finger. The 44-year-old pop star had been criticized before the event for agreeing to participate in the ceremony.

“Robbie Williams emerged, busked his way through a medley of his two-decade old hits and was gone again in a pleasing hurry,” the Independent reported.

Williams said he was told not to use his song “Party Like a Russian,” which was seen as mocking Russia. Before his gesture, Williams added the line “I did this for free,” to the lyrics of one of his songs, ESPN reported.

Fox issued a statement apologizing for showing the gesture on television.

"The 2018 FIFA World Cup opening ceremony was a newsworthy event produced by a third party and carried live on Fox," the statement said. "As it was broadcast live, we did not know what would happen during Robbie Williams' performance and we apologize."

The Russian soccer team played immediately after the ceremony and won its first match, shutting out Saudi Arabia 5-0.

Former NFL tight end Kellen Winslow II faces rape charges

Former NFL player Kellen Winslow II was arrested Thursday on suspicion of rape, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

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The charges against, Winslow, 34, include two counts of forcible rape, one count of forcible sodomy and one count of forcible oral copulation, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. Other charges include kidnapping with the intent to commit rape, residential burglary and indecent exposure, the sheriff’s department said.

Winslow will be arraigned Friday. 

He was arrested last week on suspicion of burglary, then posted a $50,000 bond, the Union-Tribune reported. Sheriff’s deputies arrested Winslow on his latest charges Thursday morning and searched his home, the newspaper said.

Winslow, the son of San Diego Chargers Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow, grew up in San Diego and attended high school there. He played college football at the University of Miami and was the sixth overall pick in the 2004 draft. 

He played in the NFL until 2013, playing tight end for Cleveland, Tampa Bay, New England and the New York Jets.

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