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Nuggets Ink podcast: Paul Millsap, Michael Porter Jr. and other pressing offseason questions

June 16, 2019 - 5:00am

With the NBA offseason officially here, Nuggets Ink podcast host Matt Schubert and beat writer Mike Singer dig in on an important summer for a franchise on the rise. Among the topics:

  • What do you take away from Denver’s run to the Western Conference semifinals? Was the season an unqualified success? Did Denver actually benefit from not making the conference finals and (possibly) getting run off the court by the Golden State Warriors? What did we learn about the team’s playoff newbies?
  • Where do the Nuggets stand in the Western Conference pecking order, especially in light of Kevin Durant’s catastrophic Achilles injury? Can the Nuggets put themselves in the mix for the NBA title with it seemingly up for grabs?
  • Nuggets executive Tim Connelly was pursued hard by his hometown Washington Wizards. What kept him in the Mile High City?
  • What sort of moves can the Nuggets make this offseason? Will they be players in the free agent market? Who might they be able to add to the mix? And what are they going to do about Paul Millsap? Will he be back next season? Who might be on the way out?
  • Michael Porter Jr. is set to make his Summer League debut in a Nuggets uniform. What can we expect from the rookie? Will he be on a minutes/game restriction?
Categories: All Denver News.

Opponents pour money into effort to curb growth in Lakewood

June 16, 2019 - 5:00am

A ballot measure that would markedly curtail new homebuilding in Colorado’s fifth-largest city has stimulated a big-money effort to quash it — with developer interests amassing nearly $300,000 in contributions compared with just $4,000 from those pushing for a growth limit in Lakewood.

Ballots started hitting mailboxes last week in preparation for the July 2 special election, with Question 200 the only issue to be voted on.

Five issue committees have formed to defeat Question 200, which would cap annual residential growth in Lakewood at no more than 1 percent of the existing housing stock. The measure would also require that projects with at least 40 units get City Council approval before turning dirt.

As of May 31, the National Association of Realtors had put $200,000 into the effort to sink Question 200, along with $25,000 each from the Colorado Association of Realtors and the Associated General Contractors of Colorado. They made their contributions to issue committee Lakewood United, according to campaign finance filings submitted to the Lakewood clerk’s office.

Nearly $40,000 more has been collected by the anti-200 group Citizens for a Sound Government. The next reporting deadline for the committees is June 25.

“Instead of being silent, we thought we should get the word out to the citizens,” said Michael Gifford, president and CEO of the Associated General Contractors. “While there are challenges with growth, this is the wrong solution.”

Lakewood’s fight over the future of housing in this city of 156,000 comes to a head as the metro area grapples with often-severe growing pains — population growth rates in metro-area counties since 2010 have ranged from 10.7 percent in Boulder County to 20.1 percent in Douglas County.

This spring’s high-profile Denver mayoral election, decided June 4, largely focused on the pace of development issues.

Cathy Kentner, the main force behind Question 200, is hopeful the measure will pass next month despite the lopsided financial advantage held by her opponents. She noted that the contributions her side has collected have come locally and in small denominations.

“I know people who live in Lakewood are smart,” she said. “If we listened to big money, we wouldn’t have gotten this far. Big money has not won so far, and the last step is the election.”

Kentner and her allies say Lakewood has let developers get too deep a toehold in the city, especially in the last five years or so. Too many high-end apartment complexes are rising across this west suburb, she said, with little attention paid to what that does to quality of life in the city.

According to data provided by the city last week, Lakewood has issued an increasing number of certificates of occupancy over the last decade. Whereas in 2010 Lakewood issued 194 occupancy certificates, that number jumped to 356 in 2014. It skyrocketed to 1,178 last year, with nearly 82 percent of those issued for apartments.

Based on Lakewood’s current housing stock of about 67,000 residential units, Question 200 would permit fewer than 700 new homes to be built per year.

“It’s about responsible development — the right building in the right place,” Kentner said. “Building at a high price point causes the more affordable units in the city to raise their rents.”

But Teo Nicolais vehemently disagrees. Nicolais, vice president of the Apartment Association of Metro Denver, said there is a simple supply-and-demand dynamic at play when artificial caps are put on new construction.

“The reason rents have been going up is that there are not enough units being added,” he said. “Growth limiting initiatives hurt affordable housing.”

AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver PostA 250-plus unit apartment development at West 13th Avenue and Lamar Street on Friday, June 14, 2019.

Last year, the Colorado Futures Center at Colorado State University projected that the region around Denver would hit a peak shortage of 32,000 homes and apartments in 2018, putting upward pressure on home prices for years to come.

“The way to move forward is to manage growth efficiently — but certainly not to limit growth,” Nicolais said.

Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul said that is exactly what the city has been doing for the last 18 months, with its Lakewood Development Dialogue group suggesting density-easing ideas like larger setbacks for multifamily buildings, more open space dedications from developers and additional amenities for those living in larger residential projects.

Paul worries that higher rents and higher property taxes that would be spurred by a construction cap would burden older homeowners and force middle-class workers such as police officers and nurses to live outside Lakewood and commute into the city for their jobs.

He noted that the coalition opposing Question 200 has blossomed to include groups from various ends of the political spectrum, like AARP, Habitat for Humanity, the Colorado Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and all three Jefferson County commissioners.

“Let’s not react in fear to growth, let’s react in a smart way,” the mayor said.

But Kentner said Lakewood’s efforts to deal with its growth didn’t even begin until she started collecting signatures for Question 200, which was then known as the Lakewood Strategic Growth Initiative. The measure, which was originally destined for the November 2017 ballot, was sidetracked by legal challenges until a district judge gave the measure the go-ahead late last year.

She said a door-knocking effort with volunteers distributing 15,000 flyers lauding the measure began last week.

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John Henderson, a resident of Lakewood’s Solterra neighborhood, backs Question 200. He isn’t surprised by the financial muscle being put into the campaign by the measure’s opponents.

“It’s a classic example of a special interest group whose income is threatened and they are spending a lot of money to protect themselves,” he said.

But Henderson said most people in Lakewood don’t want their city to become home to New Jersey-like high-rise apartments sitting in the shadow of the Manhattan skyline. Question 200 makes the city accountable to its residents when it comes to urban planning, he said.

“This isn’t anything more than an effort by the citizens of our community to get a seat at the table,” Henderson said.

Categories: All Denver News.

At least one death, “hundreds of severe infections” linked to Porter hospital’s use of contaminated surgical instruments, lawsuit alleges

June 16, 2019 - 5:00am

More than 60 patients who suffered post-surgical infections are suing Denver’s Porter Adventist Hospital over a breach in sterilization procedures, which a state investigation found was far more serious than the hospital divulged a year ago.

The lawsuit, filed at 12:02 a.m. Saturday , alleges the hospital’s failure to adequately clean equipment caused “hundreds of severe infections” in patients as far back as 2015 — and at least one death.

“This is not about money, it’s about Porter not doing this to anybody else,” said Michael Pitcock, a plaintiff who said he developed an infection after a knee replacement four years ago. “This should be preventable.”

RELATED: “So many people hurt”: More than 60 patients file lawsuit against Porter Adventist Hospital

When Porter in April 2018 publicly revealed its problems cleaning equipment used in surgeries, hospital officials said there was only one case in which a contaminated tool came close to a patient. Hospital officials also downplayed the risk patients faced in getting infections.

“We have not seen a bump in our overall totals or infection rates,” Dr. Patty Howell, Porter’s chief medical officer, told The Denver Post as she and other officials offered insights into the trouble with the hospital’s sterilization practices.

But a 2018 state investigation of Porter found hospital officials knew more of their patients were developing post-surgical infections by early 2017 when a hospital committee was told of a jump in infections related to hip and spine surgeries, according to results of the health department’s investigation, which was obtained by The Denver Post.

The investigation documented 76 times contaminated surgical instruments and trays — tainted by blood, chunks of bone, cement, hair and even a dead insect — were brought into operating-room suites in 2017 and early 2018.

Provided by Denver Trial LawyersThis photo shows Porter surgical instruments after purportedly being sterilized.

The state’s investigative report said Porter failed to track data and change its operations, leading to “ongoing incidents in which contaminated surgical instruments were being delivered to the operating room for surgical cases and potentially contributed to an increase in surgical site infections and adverse patient events.”

However, Dr. Tista Ghosh, chief medical officer at Colorado Department of Health and Environment, said in a statement the state has never conclusively linked infections to the sterilization problems.

Centura Health, which operates Porter, declined to comment for this story.

Sterilization problems revealed in 2018

Porter announced it had trouble with its sterilization process for surgical instruments in April 2018 by sending roughly 5,800 letters to patients, warning that those who had orthopedic or spine surgeries dating back almost two years were at risk for contracting hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV.

Pitcock, who got an infection after a knee replacement, remembers receiving the letter from Porter and getting tested for the viruses.

“It scares you to death,” he said.

The news prompted state health officials to investigate the hospital and Porter briefly suspended surgeries after the department found problems with how instruments were cleaned.

At the time, the state’s Department of Public Health and Environment confirmed “a number of patients” at Porter had infections, but said it could not directly connect them to the hospital’s sterilization problems. Dr. Larry Wolk, former executive director of the agency, also said the risk of patients getting HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C was “very low.”

On Saturday, Ghosh said in a statement that the agency spoke with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the time of the sterilization breach and determined that while there was a low risk for HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C, the risk was higher than what is typical.

“When there is an increased risk of bloodborne pathogens, we take action,” Ghosh said. “In this case, we informed the hospital they needed to notify patients of the possible risks of surgical site infections and bloodborne pathogens and that patients should be tested for bloodborne pathogens.”

Timeline of incidents State health officials say Porter knew of at least 76 instances of contaminated surgical instruments and trays being sent to operating rooms. Below are a few examples of their findings: Jan. 24, 2017
Chunks of bone were found inside a surgical pan Jan. 25, 2017
A surgical instrument was noted as clogged with the previous patient’s blood Jan. 26, 2017
Blood was found on a surgical drill bit Feb. 16, 2017
Cement was found on the surgical instrumentation March 8, 2017
Visible bone and blood were found in the surgical pan April 21, 2017
Blood was found on top of spinal surgical instruments June 1, 2017
A surgical instrument was found to have dried blood on it June 28, 2017
Black residue was found on a surgical instrument June 29, 2017
Operating room staff documented a dead bug in a surgical tray Aug. 28, 2017
Crusty blood or tissue was found on a surgical instrument Nov. 22, 2017
Blood from a previous surgical case was found on a piece of a surgical instrument Jan. 23, 2018
A piece of bone was found in the bottom of a surgical tray Feb. 19, 2018
Hair was found on surgical instruments March 12, 2018
Bone was found in the bottom of a surgical tray and “contaminated” the “entire setup” March 29, 2018
“Rust/blood” was found on a surgical drill April 2, 2018
Questionable residue was found on instruments which “lead to cancellation of surgery”

Porter is on a conditional license, which means it requires increased monitoring from the state Department of Public Health and Environment.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Denver District Court, alleges the issues with Porter’s surgical instruments were not just limited to orthopedic or spine surgery patients as previously stated. In total, the lawsuit was filed by 67 patients and 20 of their spouses.

Among them is a woman who developed infections after a mastectomy. Another patient ended up with an infection following an eye procedure, the lawsuit states.

As Porter patients sought treatment for the illnesses, they amassed massive medical bills — as much as $2 million for one patient — for emergency room and hospital visits, additional surgeries and antibiotics, according to the attorneys representing them.

“From the information, we have obtained, it appears that the sterilization problems at Porter caused extensive infections in surgical patients,” David Woodruff, a partner with Denver Trial Lawyers, said in an email. “It also appears that Porter may not have accurately reported these infections to the Department of Health as required by law.”

The 93-page lawsuit alleges Porter didn’t use “reasonable care” to make sure equipment was properly sterilized as required by state and federal law, industry practices and hospital protocols. As a result, the patients in the lawsuit had surgeries performed on them with instruments that were “improperly” sterilized, causing infections in their surgical sites or other bloodborne infections, according to the document.

Patients developed hepatitis B, meningitis, and urinary tract, e. coli and staph infections, the court document claims.

Two patients were under general anesthesia and ready for surgery when their procedures were canceled because of contaminated instruments. In one case, a doctor had started the surgery, cutting the patient’s skin, when he discovered a brown-yellowish, pasty material on an instrument. After other equipment showed residue, the doctor decided to cancel the operation, the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit also alleges a patient died three months after his surgery at Porter in 2017 for a fractured femur. Thomas Wriston, 78, died after he was diagnosed with sepsis, respiratory failure, pneumonia, anemia, and subacute kidney injury, according to the court document.

Joe Amon, The Denver PostBetty Wriston holds a photo of her and her late husband Tom and their dog at her home in Fairplay, Colorado on June 12. The quilt covering her bed is made from Tom’s shirts, of 21 matching shirts and dresses she made for them over the years.

One of the patients in the lawsuit is Rebecca Brown, a 33-year-old who was diagnosed with sepsis, a life-threatening infection, following her lumbar fusion surgery at Porter in 2017.

She was also diagnosed with clostridium difficile — also known as C.diff — infection, which causes inflammation in the colon. The diagnosis meant additional trips to the hospital and antibiotics, according to the lawsuit.

“It wasn’t just my life they affected, they affected my kids, they affected my husband, they affected my job, they affected every single part of me that was me and I’ll never get any of that back,” Brown said.

Joe Amon, The Denver PostRebecca Brown struggles to rise from the couch at home with her children after a trip to the emergency room in Castle Rock on June 7.

In their investigation, state health officials noted that not only did Porter know there was an increase in surgical-related infections in 2017, but the hospital also didn’t report a number of them to a national infection tracking system in 2018. The state report did not say how large the increase was.

In one case, a patient had two procedures — a spinal fusion and laminectomy — in late 2017 and visited the emergency department in January 2018 because of back pain.

At the emergency department, a physician noted the patient — who is not named in the state’s investigation — had white, milky fluid with pus at the spot of the surgery. Tests later determined there were bacteria that cause infections, the documents show.

A month later, the patient was back in the emergency department — this time complaining of paralysis of the lower body. Test results showed an infection at the spot of the surgery, according to the state investigation.

Staffing issues at Porter 

The breakdown in Porter’s sterilization process coincided with staffing issues in the department responsible for cleaning surgical instruments, state records show.

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And when employees reported problems with how the equipment was cleaned, hospital leaders failed to provide them with additional training or change how the department operated, the state report said.

The state records show that in one year, at least 17 of 22 employees in the department experienced one or more incidents involving contaminated surgical tools.

One employee, who is not named in the report, was involved in at least 63 incidents where there were concerns with surgical trays he or she processed, such as when chunks of bone were found in a pan, according to the health department.

The technician received a written warning for dirty instruments, but contaminated tools still appeared. In one case, staff in the operating room found a dead insect in a surgical tray, the records show.

When state officials spoke with a manager, he said he was aware contaminated trays were making their way into the operating room but he didn’t have time to check the equipment after they were sterilized.

At one time, the department processed instruments for up to 50 cases a day, which was “not safe,” he said.

“I don’t have enough staff,” he told officials in the investigation.

Categories: All Denver News.

“So many people hurt”: More than 60 patients file lawsuit against Porter Adventist Hospital

June 16, 2019 - 5:00am

Betty Wriston knew something was wrong when her husband spiked a fever a few months after his surgery.

Before, Thomas Wriston,78, had been healthy and strong. He was always busy working on projects, such as rebuilding the engine of an old Jeep, Betty recalls.

But then, he fell in March 2017 and fractured his femur and hip, requiring surgery at Porter Adventist Hospital. After the procedure, he developed a cough and fever, and then, an infection.

Now, Betty Wriston is among those suing Porter, claiming the hospital’s failure to properly sterilize equipment resulted in patients developing infections that some are still treating years after their surgeries — and that, in the case of Thomas Wriston, led to his death.

“What’s really sad is there’s just been so many people hurt by this,” Wriston,78, said. “I’m not the only one.”

Thomas Wriston died in June 2017 after developing sepsis, respiratory failure, pneumonia, anemia, and subacute kidney injury, according to the lawsuit.

Joe Amon, The Denver PostBetty Wriston’s favorite photo of her husband Tom and their dog Heidi is displayed in her home in Fairplay, Colorado on June 12, 2019.

The complaint, which includes 67 patients and 20 spouses, was filed Saturday. It comes a year after Porter revealed problems with how surgical tools were sterilized at the hospital.

Attorneys representing the patients said they have three other Porter patients and a spouse with cases pending.

RELATED: Porter Adventist failed to address widespread infections from poorly sterilized surgical equipment, state report confirms

One patient, Bill Suarez, has had seven knee surgeries so far because of the severity of the infection and necrotic tissue that developed after his surgery at Porter in 2017, according to the lawsuit.

He ended up with seven types of bacteria in his knee after the procedure — including a type normally found in a pregnant woman’s vagina or rectum, according to the lawsuit.

Joe Amon, The Denver PostBill Suarez, 71, of Vail is one of 67 patients filing suit against Porter Adventist Hospital. This photo shows tape over his knee while talking about his injuries during an interview.

Suarez says the persisting problems with his knee have affected his sleep and he hasn’t been able to do things he enjoys, such as hiking, skiing and surfing.

“I’m a little bit more recluse,” he said. “I’m a little bit more withdrawn, but I’m not dying of cancer.”

The prospect of another surgery worries Suarez, waking him up some nights.

“I’m scared to death that this could go wrong,” he said.

Joe Amon, The Denver PostBill Suarez, 71, of Vail, during an interview on May 31 in Denver.

Another patient, Rebecca Brown, said she’s lost the trust she had in hospitals after developing sepsis, a life-threatening infection, and clostridium difficile (or C.diff) following her surgery at Porter in 2017.

Joe Amon, The Denver PostRebecca Brown shows some of the scars from her operations as her husband Russell looks on during an interview in Denver on May 20.

Now, she says she waits as long as she can before seeking medical care at a hospital.

“I have severe PTSD with surgeries,” Brown said. “I don’t even like getting my blood drawn anymore. I have no trust in any of the hospitals that are anywhere near us.”

“And no amount of therapy can ever get that trust back,” she added.

Joe Amon, The Denver PostMackenzie, 7, rests with her mother Rebecca Brown after Rebecca made a trip to the emergency room in Castle Rock on June 7. Rebecca is one of 67 patients filing suit against Porter Adventist in Denver.
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Saunders: Rockies Bud Black will tip his cap and say thanks on Fathers Day

June 16, 2019 - 5:00am

Harry Ralston Black, Sr. was a tough, fiery, ultra-competitive man.

In the 1940s, as a 5-foot-9, 155-pound center, he played four seasons of professional hockey for the Los Angeles Monarchs of the Pacific Coast League. But when it came to his son’s baseball career, all of that toughness turned to butter.

“When I was playing in little league or in high school school, my dad couldn’t sit in the stands to watch,” recalled Rockies manager Harry Ralston “Bud” Black. “He’d get too nervous.”

Years later, when Black became a big-league pitcher for the Kansas City Royals, his father’s yips got even worse.

“When the Royals would come to Anaheim to play the Angels, my mom and dad and sister and a lot of family friends would come to the game to watch me,” Black said. “They’d all sit together. But not my dad. He’d walk around the concourse pacing because he was just too nervous to watch me.”

RELATED: Saunders: What are the best MLB ballparks for architecture, food and fans?

Sunday afternoon, when he gazes out at the big Fathers Day crowd at Coors Field, Black will think about his dad. Like so many of us, Black ties baseball, fatherhood and pride together in a sentimental bow.

When Black was born, his dad was already 39 years old, so Black never got to see his dad play pro hockey. And when Black was a youngster growing up in Southern California and Longview, Wash., his dad worked long hours in the retail business, leaving the house early in the morning and sometimes not coming home until 8 p.m.

“I didn’t see a lot of him, but I did feel close to him,” said the 61-year-old Black. “I always thought he had his eyes on me and was looking out for me.”

Like so many of our generation, Black bonded with his dad over watching sports together — football, baseball, basketball, hockey, you name it. Sports was the starting place of conversations and a relationship.

“Dad was a huge sports fan,” Black said. “Even when I was 10 years old, he knew sports was my passion. So I think he would be happy for me; happy that I’ve been able to pursue my passion and do something I love.”

Harry Black Sr. died too young, at age 65, due to complications from melanoma. He only got to see part of his son’s 15-year big-league career, and he never got to watch his son manage.

Colorado Rockies

“He came back to Kansas City and watched me pitch against the Tigers in the first game of the 1984 American League Championship Series,” Black said softly, the memory still delicate after all of these years. “He went in the following Monday and was diagnosed with late-stage melanoma. He died four months later.”

Black, as anyone who follows the Rockies knows, is one of the baseball’s great communicators. He’s charismatic and charming with the media, reeling off baseball stories and riffing about music and pop culture. His ability to work a crowd was handed down from father to son.

“Dad was engaging and he had a personality that could fill up a room,” Black said. “He had that ability to connect with all the people in the room.”

Black inherited that trait but says he got a dose of patience from his late mom, Helen. Those qualities helped create Black’s managerial style.

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“Buddy has a laid-back style, but even though it’s laid back, I wouldn’t say it’s relaxed,” veteran catcher Chris Iannetta told me last summer when I was writing a feature about the day in the life of a big-league manager. “He’s pretty chill when he needs to be and he’s intense when he needs to be. He has a good feel during the game. Players appreciate that.

“I think it’s the sign of a good manager when he knows when to be hands-on and when to take his hands off. Sometimes, Bud steps in to send a message, but for the most part, we take care of the clubhouse ourselves. This is a pretty relaxed and focused group.”

Black is definitely a “people person,” but there is an inner fire that burns just beneath the surface.

“I basically came out of nowhere to play baseball,” Black said. “I was an undersized little leaguer and high school player, and I was drafted in the 17th round as a senior out of college. I think my dad was proud of that.

“And a lot of people might not think I’m fiery, but I really am. I got that from my dad.”

Categories: All Denver News.

Woodland takes 1-shot lead over Rose in U.S. Open

June 15, 2019 - 9:17pm

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Gary Woodland hit a shank and a chunk and both times made par, and he made a birdie from a deep divot in the fairway. Such moments, even on a Saturday, can go a long way toward winning a U.S. Open.

Even better for Woodland was a 2-under 69 — and just two bogeys over 54 holes at Pebble Beach — for a one-shot lead over Justin Rose.

“I worked for this my whole life,” Woodland said. “I know what it takes to win. And my game is in a great spot. I’m at a beautiful golf course. I came here to win, and that’s what we’re going out to do tomorrow.”

He’s not alone in that thinking.

Rose was right where he wanted to be after working more short-game magic from bunkers and thick grass and awkward spots around greens that were getting a little firmer and faster, even under another day of thick marine layer that has blanketed the Monterey Peninsula all week. He has 34 one-putt greens through 54 holes, the last one an up-and-down from the bunker for birdie on the par-5 18th for a 68 that put him in the final group.

“One back gives me the freedom to feel like I’ve got everything to gain, nothing to lose,” said Rose, the 2013 U.S. Open champion at Merion. “I’m not chasing, really. I’m so close to Gary that I have to go out and play my game tomorrow.”

Leaderboard

Brooks Koepka thinks he can win because no one has been winning majors like him in the last two years. He played bogey-free for a 68, settling for par when he made a bold attempt to slash a fairway metal around a cypress on the 18th hole. Four shots behind is close enough for Koepka to have a shot at a record that has stood for 114 years as he tries to join Willie Anderson with a third straight U.S. Open title.

“I feel as confident as ever right now,” said Koepka, words that carry a little more weight from a guy who has won four of his last eight majors.

Standing in the way of all of them is Pebble Beach, a strong enough test that has been missing strong wind, its best defense.

The final hour of the third round gave a glimpse of possibilities, how fortunes can change quickly.

Woodland twice looked as though he were about to lose two shots or more of his lead until chipping in from 35 feet on the par-3 12th hole, and holing a par putt from just over 40 feet on the par-5 14th.

“I’m excited to be where I’m at right now,” Woodland said.

He was at 11-under 202 and with hardly any margin for error against Rose.

Koepka had some theatrics of his own, misjudging a lie in the rough so deep he could barely see the golf ball left of the 15th green. It sailed long into the first cut, some 35 feet away, and he holed the putt for par to keep a clean card.

He was part of a group four shots back that included Louis Oosthuizen, who birdied three of his last four holes to salvage a 70; and Chez Reavie, who made his share of long par putts for a 68.

Koepka won at Erin Hills in 2017 with his power and at Shinnecock Hills last year with his clutch putting. He might need a little of both to make up a four-shot deficit at Pebble Beach, though he brings the most recent experience handling the pressure of a final round in a major. He is going for his fifth major title in his last nine tries, a stretch not seen since Tiger Woods at his peak.

“I just enjoy the pressure,” Koepka said. “I enjoy having to hit a good golf shot, making a putt when the pressure is on. If you’re within three on the back nine, anything can happen. Hang around all day and see what happens.”

Curtis Strange, the last player with a shot at three straight U.S. Opens, also shot 68 in the third round in 1990 and got within two shots, only to fade with a 75 on the final day.

Rory McIlroy didn’t get enough out of how well he hit the ball and had to settle for a 70, leaving him five shots behind.

As for Woods, he joined a list of big names that went the wrong direction. Woods had a 71 and was 11 shots behind. Dustin Johnson also had a 71 and was nine back. Phil Mickelson saw his career Grand Slam hopes vanish at sea when he hit driver in the Pacific on the 18th hole and made triple bogey for a 75.

Woodland, who led by two to start the third round, stretched it to as many as four shots when Rose shanked a bunker shot from in front of the par-3 fifth green, and Woodland followed with a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-5 sixth.

That ended with a two-shot swing on the tough eighth hole, where Rose birdied from 10 feet and Woodland took three putts from the back of the green, ending his amazing streak of 34 straight holes without a bogey.

And then came his biggest two shots, both for par.

Woodland thought his tee shot on the 12th was pure, even twirling his club as it descended. It came up short and in a nasty in the wispy, shin-high grass. Gripping the club at the shaft, he shanked it to the right into light rough. With Rose inside 10 feet for birdie, it looked like a two-shot swing at the very least.

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And then Woodland holed it, slamming his fist, a rare show of emotion for one of golf’s coolest customers.

“I was trying to avoid the big number,” Woodland said. “Take your medicine and move on. Nice that it went in.”

Ditto for the par-5 14th, where he got out of position off the tee. The thick grass right of the fairway grabbed his club and sent his second shot into more rough so deep that he can to play short of the green. Then, he hit his wedge too short and was lucky it stayed on the top shelf instead of rolling back to the fairway.

From there, he smiled when his 40-foot par putt went into the center of the cup.

Woodland, who played a year of college basketball and was part of a traveling baseball team in high school, has learned to control his emotions in golf. Adrenaline works better when he’s on a fast break, not when he’s chipping in.

Emotions could be big tomorrow for all of them, especially on Father’s Day. Woodland’s son is about to turn 2. He is home in Florida with his mother, who is a few months away from delivering twins.

___

More AP golf: https://apnews.com/apf-Golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Categories: All Denver News.

New Mexico film industry up amid abortion fights elsewhere

June 15, 2019 - 9:08pm

SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico’s film industry appears to be on the brink of a boom thanks to abortion law controversies in other states and expanded incentives.

A recent spike in film production in the state comes as Hollywood targets both Georgia and Louisiana over recently passed restrictive abortion laws, the Albuquerque Journal reports.

The political developments are being watched closely in New Mexico, which is poised to benefit even though state officials have said there’s no organized campaign to lure film productions from those states.

“I don’t know that we are necessarily using that as a drawing card, because we are a drawing card,” New Mexico Film Office Director Todd Christensen said.

The jump also comes as New Mexico is set to more than double its annual state spending cap on film incentives.

In addition, NBCUniversal announced Friday it will build a television and film studio in a warehouse district just north of downtown Albuquerque as it seeks to expand its footprint in one of the fastest-growing film production hubs in the country.

The company said it entered a 10-year venture with a developer to reshape an empty warehouse into a studio with two sound stages and offices. The studio will be used to produce shows for broadcast and cable channels.

The New Mexico Film Office said the coming Amazon TV series production “The Power” reached out to New Mexico because of Georgia’s political climate.

“The Power” will be a 10-part series based on Naomi Alderman’s 2016 novel in which women around the world suddenly gain the ability to electrocute people.

New Mexico has on its books a 1969 state law that banned abortion in most cases. But the law became unenforceable after it was superseded by the landmark Roe vs. Wade ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

An attempt to scrap the 1969 law failed during the last state legislative session in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Democrats have downplayed the vote and have vowed to try again in the near future.

New Mexico was one of the first states to launch a film incentive program in 2003 and upped the ante with a new package of film and TV incentives passed by lawmakers during this year’s 60-day legislative session and signed into law by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in March.

The package raises a 2011 cap on what the state can pay out to film and TV productions from $50 million to $110 million per year, while also authorizing the spending of up to $225 million to pay down an accumulated backlog in film incentives.

Film companies receive 25 percent rebates on qualifying expenditures on goods and services in New Mexico. There is a 30 percent rebate for some TV shows.

In recent months, the New Mexico Film Office has received about two calls a day from production companies asking about the new incentives and possible locations in the state.

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“We’re getting calls,” Christensen said. “If the script fits, they’ll come here. In some cases, they can change the scripts to fit New Mexico.”

Not all legislators are thrilled with the expansion of the state’s film incentive program.

State Sen. Mark Moores, a Republican who voted against this year’s bill, said he would be uneasy about using the abortion laws in Georgia and Louisiana as leverage, adding that he has a problem with “out-of-state corporate extortion” on what he described as a social issue.

“If we as a state make a political decision for New Mexico that they don’t like in the future, will they extort us like they’re trying to do to Georgia?” Moores asked.

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Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com

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Emails show that census question discriminates, voting rights advocates say

June 15, 2019 - 8:29pm

Voting rights activists argue that newly discovered 2015 correspondence between a GOP redistricting expert and a current Census Bureau official bolster arguments that discrimination motivated efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 population survey.

The plaintiffs, who successfully challenged the question in a Maryland federal court, said in a filing late Friday that the email exchange between the late Republican consultant Thomas Hofeller and the Census Bureau official was discovered earlier this week. They say the documents give a federal judge, who previously ruled in their favor, latitude to re-examine whether Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross intended to discriminate against minorities by adding the citizenship question to the 2020 census.

While U.S. District Judge George Hazel issued a ruling in April to block the addition of the census question, he said the Maryland plaintiffs failed to prove that their equal protection rights were violated because they hadn’t shown that Ross and other officials acted with discriminatory intent.

Plaintiffs, citing the new documents, say the judge should reconsider on the equal protection question.

“The trial record and the Hofeller documents both reveal that the central purpose of adding a citizenship question was to deprive Hispanics and noncitizens of political representation,” the plaintiffs argue, adding that the evidence “explains precisely why Secretary Ross pressed ahead with adding the citizenship question in the face of … evidence that it would cause a disproportionate undercount of noncitizens and Hispanics.”

Trump administration lawyers argued in filings before Hazel this week that the newly discovered documents don’t justify the “extraordinary request” to reopen a case already decided in the plaintiffs’ favor.

The Commerce Department issued a statement Saturday saying that Hofeller played no role in Ross’s decision to add the citizenship question: “All of Plaintiffs’ conspiracy theories are outlandish and should be disregarded.”

The U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering the citizenship question after Hazel’s ruling and similar ones by judges in New York and California who concluded the question was improperly added to the U.S. census for what would be the first time since 1950. The high court could rule by July.

Voting rights groups have argued that the citizenship question would serve to strengthen GOP congressional representation and funding for areas where mostly Republicans reside by suppressing the count of immigrants. States with large numbers of immigrants tend to vote Democratic.

The U.S. Constitution specifies that congressional districts should be based on how many people — not citizens — live in an area.

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The Maryland plaintiffs argued in a June 3 filing that the new trove of Hofeller documents, first revealed in late May as part of the New York case, show that he played a role in drafting Justice Department documents regarding the citizenship question, and that Hofeller had explained in a separate memo that the addition would help “Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.”

The Hofeller documents were discovered when his estranged daughter found four external computer hard drives and 18 thumb drives in her father’s Raleigh, North Carolina, home after his death last summer.

The challengers to the citizenship question have also cited the documents in New York federal court and at the Supreme Court in their effort to keep the question off the 2020 census.

The newer documents, unearthed this week during a further forensic analysis, show how far back the discussions about adding the citizenship question go, the plaintiffs argue. Attached to their Friday filing is a January 2015 email from Christa Jones to Hoffeler saying that a 2015 test of census data collection presented “an opportunity to mention citizenship as well.” Jones is now chief of staff to the deputy director of the U.S. Census Bureau.

The plaintiffs argue that “newly discovered documents suggest that Hofeller had also long been in contact with a highly-ranked Census employee, who knew of Hofeller’s interest in a citizenship question (and in fact suggested opportunities for him to raise that interest with the Census Bureau).”

The Justice Department has denied that the new documents show discriminatory intent. A spokeswoman declined further comment Saturday.

A spokesman for the Census Bureau didn’t respond to a question seeking comment.

The Justice Department lawyers wrote in a filing in the Maryland case that “there is no basis to revisit this Court’s prior determination that it could not ‘connect the dots’ between the Secretary’s decision and evidence of third parties’ animus.”

They also argue that the evidence cited is not new, wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the case and could have been previously brought to the court’s attention “if Plaintiffs had exercised due diligence.”

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Associated Press writer Mark Sherman in Washington contributed to this report.

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Follow Drew at www.twitter.com/JonathanLDrew

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This story has been corrected to reflect that Jones reports to the deputy director of the U.S. Census Bureau.

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Babe Ruth road jersey sells at auction for $5.64 million

June 15, 2019 - 8:21pm

NEW YORK — A Babe Ruth road jersey dating to 1928-30 has sold at auction for $5.64 million.

Hunt Auctions, which handled Saturday’s sale, says the price breaks a record for the most expensive piece of sports memorabilia ever sold. A Ruth jersey from 1920 previously sold for $4,415,658.

The auction was conducted at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees jersey was part of a collection of items that Ruth’s family put up for sale. His granddaughter, Linda Ruth Tosetti, says in a statement that a portion of the proceeds will go to charity.

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Washington state waterfront owners asked to take dead whales

June 15, 2019 - 8:04pm

PORT HADLOCK, Wash. — At least one Washington state waterfront landowner has said yes to a request to allow dead gray whales to decompose on their property.

So many gray whale carcasses have washed up this year that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries says it has run out of places to take them.

In response, the agency has asked landowners to volunteer property as a disposal site for the carcasses. By doing so, landowners can support the natural process of the marine environment, and skeletons left behind can be used for educational purposes, officials said.

But the carcasses can be up to 40 feet long. That’s a lot to decay, and it could take months. Landowner Mario Rivera of Port Hadlock, Washington, told KING5-TV that the smell is intermittent and “isn’t that bad.”

“It is really a unique opportunity to have this here on the beach and monitor it and see how fast it goes,” said his wife, Stefanie Worwag.

The federal agency said that about 30 whales have stranded on Washington’s coast this year, the most in two decades.

On the U.S. West coast, about 70 whales have been found dead this year along California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska, the most since 2000. About five were found on British Columbia beaches. Still, that’s a small fraction of the total number because most sink or wash up in remote areas and are unrecorded.

NOAA Fisheries late last month declared the die-off an “unusual mortality event,” and provided additional resources to respond to the deaths.

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“With the unusual mortality event of these gray whales, we know more whales will be coming in, or there is a high likelihood that more whales will die within Puget Sound and out on the coast,” said Port Townsend Marine Science Center Citizen Science Coordinator Betsy Carlson.

Officials say the gray whale population remains strong at about 27,000.

Lime is being used to help break down the whale carcass on the beach near where Rivera and Worwag live.

“The lime appears to be working,” Rivera said. “It is decomposing nicely. I think.”

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Colorado man gets life in prison without parole in shooting death of teen

June 15, 2019 - 7:49pm

GRAND JUNCTION — A Colorado judge has sentenced a man to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 2017 shooting death of a 17-year-old girl.

KKCO-TV reports that Israel Massingill was sentenced Friday after a jury in March convicted him of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, patronizing a prostituted child and drug possession.

Prosecutors say Massingill shot Kiera B. Quintana to death and attempted to kill another 17-year-old girl.

In handing down the sentence, Judge Gretchen B. Larson noted that Quintana was killed in cold blood.

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Information from: KKCO-TV, http://www.nbc11news.com

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Human remains discovered west of Boulder on Saturday

June 15, 2019 - 7:28pm

The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office and coroner are investigating after human remains were discovered Saturday afternoon west of Boulder, according to a release from the sheriff’s office.

A person working on property near the 5000 block of Magnolia Road discovered the remains at about 12:20 p.m. The preliminary investigation at the scene confirmed the remains were human. There were no indications of foul play, according to the release.

Investigators from the Boulder County Coroner’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office are investigating the death. The Boulder County Coroner’s Office will make a determination as to the cause and manner of death once it has completed its investigation. It will release the identity of the remains once it is determined.

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Man dies in single-vehicle motorcycle crash in southwest Denver

June 15, 2019 - 7:24pm

A man riding a motorcycle died after losing control of his bike and crashing Saturday night in southwest Denver, police say.

The man, whose identity has not been released, was on the 4800 block of South Balsam Way about 6:46 p.m. when he lost control of his motorcycle and crashed, according to Denver police spokesman Kurt Barnes. He died at the scene.

He was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash and was not driving at a high rate of speed, Barnes said.

“It’s just very unusual,” he said. “He had a friend in front of him, had a friend behind him, lost control and did not make it due to his injuries.”

The portion of road where the crash occurred is closed, but it should not affect traffic.

#DPD: #TRAFFIC responded to a fatal motorcycle crash in the 4800 block of S. Balsam Way. Road closures in the area. pic.twitter.com/JThdjkewX5

— Denver Police Dept. (@DenverPolice) June 16, 2019

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Body found in Western Slope reservoir identified

June 15, 2019 - 6:59pm

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — A man recovered from a reservoir on the Western Slope has been identified as 37-year-old Silt resident Justin Yenter.

The Aspen Times reports that Garfield County authorities say Yenter drowned in the Harvey Gap Reservoir this past week when a gust of wind knocked him overboard and into the water.

His body was located at a depth of 35 feet and about 800 feet from shore by Colorado State Parks and Wildlife and the Summit Dive Team members.

According to the county coroner’s office, the death is being investigated as an accident.

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Information from: The Aspen Times, http://www.aspentimes.com/

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Peyton Manning adds another honor in TN Sports Hall of Fame

June 15, 2019 - 6:49pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Peyton Manning, the former quarterback with a record five NFL MVPs among the string of awards and honors to his credit, calls his decision to attend the University of Tennessee one of the best he’s ever made.

That makes being inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday night along with a handful of fellow Volunteers and David Cutcliffe, his former quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator, even more memorable.

“It’s very special,” Manning said. “I was proud to have played at the University of Tennessee for four years and you go into the NFL, you kind of carry your alma mater with you and have wonderful support from friends, teammates, coaches throughout my career. … So to be honored and have a chance to reflect on my time in college and all the relationships and memories, it’s been very special.”

Manning was being inducted along with a group including Cutcliffe, now the head coach at Duke; Kara Lawson, a 2008 Olympic gold medalist who played for Pat Summitt and is now a TV analyst; Charles Davis, a four-year starter at safety and now a Fox game analyst; and Kippy Brown, a former Tennessee coach who also coached seven NFL teams.

A Louisiana native, Manning also was inducted into that state’s sports hall of fame earlier this year. Manning not only chose to attend Tennessee rather than father Archie’s alma mater, Mississippi, but the quarterback endeared himself to Volunteers’ fans for deciding to return and play his senior season in Knoxville in 1997.

Even after Manning left college, he continued his relationship with Cutcliffe, the man the quarterback turned to even during his career in the NFL where Manning was a 14-time Pro Bowl pick and the first starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl with two different teams.

“I would go back and work out with him in the offseason, and he would stay on top of my mechanics and fundamentals and of course a great friend throughout that process as well, so very special … to be inducted in the same class as Coach Cut,” Manning said.

Cutcliffe called Manning one of the special people in his life.

“How lucky can you be to get to basically coach Peyton for 22 years?” Cutcliffe said. “That’s good enough there. I could’ve retired right then. It’s just been fun. … I think the thing that’s most rewarding is that Peyton is such a dedicated individual when it comes to his trade. If you’re going to work with him, you better get better. And Peyton Manning made me better.”

Another inductee didn’t play at Tennessee, but Patrick Willis got to try to tackle Manning in the NFL. The former San Francisco 49ers linebacker said he was grateful to be honored as part of what he called an amazing class. And yes, it’s easier when not trying to defend Manning on a field.

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“He’s a genius on the field and off the field,” Willis said. “Obviously, on the field, he’s a general and yeah it’s an honor to have played against him and to be going into the Hall of Fame with him.”

Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk also was being honored Saturday night as the 2019 Tennessean of the Year, a big honor for someone who had fans questioning her commitment to Nashville and the state when she took charge of the team in March 2015. Strunk helped Nashville host the NFL draft in April, an event that drew a record 600,000 fans.

Strunk said she hope she’s answered any questions about herself after what’s been a whirlwind the past four years. Posing for photos alongside Manning, whom her late father tried to sign in 2012, left her a little bit in awe.

“I’m happy to be part of the group,” Strunk said.

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Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker

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More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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3-star receiver from Texas verbally commits to CU Buffs

June 15, 2019 - 6:37pm

Keith Miller III is well aware that Colorado receivers coach Darrin Chiaverini has mentored several players that have gone on to play professionally.

He’s also aware that two of Chiaverini’s current players – Laviska Shenault and KD Nixon – could find themselves in the NFL soon.

So, Miller thought to himself, “Why not be the next one?”

On Saturday, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound receiver from The Colony, Texas, announced his verbal commitment to the Buffaloes.

“I’ve been talking to Laviska and his brother Vontae and they’ve been telling coach Chiaverini is a good coach and coach Chiaverini, he’s known for putting players in the league,” Miller said.

Miller had verbally committed to Kansas in mid-April, but changed his mind after officially visiting CU a week ago. Miller is the seventh pledge for CU’s class of 2020.

“One reason is because the campus and the town; who wouldn’t want to play in Boulder?” Miller said. “When I got there, the whole coaching staff, including the recruiting assistants, they all knew who I was. They made me and my mom feel like family out there. That was really the main reason I chose Colorado.”

Rated a three-star recruit by 247Sports.com and Rivals.com, Miller has 22 offers, including from Boston College, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Kansas State, Purdue, Texas Tech and Utah.

Miller originally committed to Texas Tech, but de-committed after the Red Raiders fired their coaching staff after last season.

Chiaverini, who has plucked several talented receivers out of Texas – including Nixon and the Shenault brothers – has kept close tabs on Miller, who caught 33 passes for 759 yards and eight touchdowns a year ago.

With good size and speed, Miller hopes he can be one of the next great receivers to come through CU.

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“In my film, it’s very clear that it takes more than one corner or safety to tackle me,” he said. “I like slants the most because there’s really hardly anyone that can tackle me. I can just take it to the crib and show off my speed.”

Miller has taken just two official visits – to Kansas and CU – but said he won’t take any more, as he plans to shut down his recruitment and commit fully to CU. He plans to sign with CU in December and graduate on time next May.

CU’s 2020 class also includes quarterback Brendon Lewis from Melissa, Texas; offensive linemen Carson Lee from Cherry Creek High School and Jake Wray from Marietta, Ga.; cornerbacks Chris Carpenter from Jacksonville, Texas, and Gavin Holmes from Matairie, La.; and safety Joe Perkins form Madison, Miss.

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O.J. Simpson on Twitter: “I got a little gettin’ even to do”

June 15, 2019 - 5:59pm

LOS ANGELES — O.J. Simpson launched a Twitter account with a video post in which the former football star said he’s got a “little gettin’ even to do.”

Simpson confirmed the new account to The Associated Press on Saturday, saying in a phone interview while on a Las Vegas golf course that it “will be a lot of fun.”

“I’ve got some things to straighten out,” he said.

He did not elaborate before he said he had to go and ended the call.

Simpson has generally kept a low profile since his release from prison in October 2017 for robbery and kidnapping over an attempt to steal back some of his sports memorabilia from a Las Vegas hotel room.

In the Twitter video, Simpson said his followers would get to read all his thoughts and opinions on “just about everything.”

“Now, there’s a lot of fake O.J. accounts out there,” he said, adding that this one would be official. He appeared to record the message himself and ended it with a grin.

Coming Soon!!! pic.twitter.com/R1tXOuuLgO

— O.J. Simpson (@TheRealOJ32) June 15, 2019

The 71-year-old recently told the AP he was happy and healthy living in Las Vegas 25 years after the killings of his ex-wife and her friend. Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were stabbed to death on the night of June 12, 1994.

Simpson was ultimately acquitted of the crime after a televised trial that riveted the nation and raised thorny issues of racism, police misconduct, celebrity and domestic violence.

Relatives of the two victims have expressed disgust that Simpson is able to live the way he does. Simpson was ordered to pay $33.5 million for the wrongful deaths of the two victims, but most of the judgment has not been paid.

Simpson has continued to declare his innocence in the two slayings. The murder case is officially listed as unsolved.

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In his recent interview , Simpson told the AP that neither he nor his children want to talk about the killings ever again.

“My family and I have moved on to what we call the ‘no negative zone.’ We focus on the positives,” he said.

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Linda Deutsch is a retired special correspondent for The Associated Press. She covered all of Simpson’s legal cases during her 48-year career as a Los Angeles-based trial reporter.

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Backpass: Colorado Rapids were exposed in the US Open Cup. What can MLS teams learn from this?

June 15, 2019 - 5:02pm

Anything can happen in a cup match. A winner-goes-on, loser-goes-home game is potentially fraught for the favorites like the Colorado Rapids. Wednesday, they faced a hungry bunch of underdogs in USL expansion club New Mexico United. In this match, the Rapids were playing just another match in between more prestigious MLS fixtures, with a mixed roster of tired veterans and inexperienced youngsters. New Mexico, on the other hand, was playing the most important match in the clubs history — its first meaningful game against a first division opponent.

In these players heads, this was every underdog comeback movie come to life, and at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Every single guy on that New Mexico roster had been passed over by a host of MLS teams. Told they weren’t good enough. Told they weren’t “at that level.” Santi Moar was drafted by Philadelphia Union and played for its USL affiliate, but never got a call-up to the big leagues. Chris Wehan was cut by San Jose at the end of 2018. Heck, two of the players on the pitch, centerback Sam Hamilton and goalkeeper Cody Mizell, had played for the Rapids in the not-too-distant past, but were told to clean out their lockers and try their luck somewhere else. Fewer things will motivate you more than being in the visitor’s locker room of your former club.

That kind of pure adrenaline and soul-stirring rocket fuel is hard to prepare against if you are Colorado, and that’s why the Rapids conceded a goal in just the first three minutes of the game and looked back on their heels for the better part of the first half. When the game went to extra time at 2-2, it was almost inevitable that the two exhausted clubs would grind their way into a penalty-kick finish. And when Mizell dove to his left to stop Tommy Wilson’s shot and give Underdog FC the lead in the shootout, you could almost hear the violins swell. It was inevitable, even while simultaneously being an extremely unwelcome surprise.

pic.twitter.com/zhcCGqd3wZ

— Cody Mizell (@CodyMizell1) June 13, 2019

Meanwhile, for the Rapids, nothing ever seems to happen for them in a cup match. The Rapids are one of only three MLS original teams to have never won the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, alongside the San Jose Earthquakes and New York Red Bulls. The club’s overall record of 17 wins and 24 losses tells you that going out in the first round is a frequent occurrence. It was the 11th time in Open Cup history that Colorado was knocked out by a lower league side, most of any MLS team, and it marked the third time in franchise history that the team was knocked out of the US Open Cup by a lower-division side in back-to-back years.

#Rapids96 eliminated by a 2nd-division side for the 2nd year in a row.

That has happened to the Rapids *twice* before.
Eliminated in '96 by Rochester Rhinos
Eliminated in '97 by Chicago Stingers

Eliminated in '00 by Richmond Kickers
Eliminated in '01 by Pgh Riverhounds

— Mark Asher Goodman (@soccer_rabbi) June 13, 2019

Some folks might point to the lineup as the reason for the loss: Rapids interim coach Conor Casey gave regular starters Kei Kamara and Tim Howard the night off and had Tommy Smith, Kellyn Acosta, and Sam Nicholson coming in off the bench. At the same time, replacement Rapids Johan Blomberg and Axel Sjöberg had sub-par performances. Others would say that the tactical plan was at fault: the Rapids, ostensibly the better team, had only 33 percent possession. You might counter that Colorado was playing down a man after Sjöberg was sent off with a second yellow in the 72nd minute. That would make sense, except that the Rapids were totally out-possessed throughout the match, including those first 71 minutes when it was normal 11-versus-11 soccer.

I was surprised to learn that #Rapids96 were dominated in possession by USL side New Mexico United in their #USOC2019 match.

You might react by saying 'well yeah, they were playing with 10 men.' But they were out-possessed for the first 71 min, before Axel was sent off. pic.twitter.com/4Vk3RhDcYb

— Mark Asher Goodman (@soccer_rabbi) June 14, 2019

That strongly suggests that the team had planned to absorb and counterattack, and the defeat shows that New Mexico was ready with a plan to defeat that. The Rapids were trying to defend their 2-1 lead in the second half, rather than push for that third goal to seal a win. Not only is that a bad indicator for how Casey planned for this match — it’s a bad indicator going forward. Teams are figuring out the Rapids’ counterattacking M.O. and planning around it. It’s hard to be a successful team throughout a long MLS season if you’re nothing more than a one-trick pony, tactically speaking.

I don’t know if the Rapids failed to take this game with an adequate degree of importance. I know that a lot of fans I interact with believed that a deep US Open Cup run would have soothed the frustrations that come with being low in the standings with a slim chance of making the playoffs. I think the Rapids should prioritize the Open Cup because it has a history stretching back to 1904, and is a trophy that the club has never won.

And I know that the club’s approach to the tournament for the past 23 years hasn’t worked.

Related Articles Cries and Whispers

Speaking of Axel Sjöberg, let’s talk about Axel Sjöberg. No player has tumbled as far for the Rapids since perhaps Dillon Powers, who won the MLS Rookie of the Year award in 2013 with 5 goals and 6 assists, followed it up with a good sophomore performance, and then steadily regressed for the rest of his career to the point that he is now a reserve for Orlando City.

Sjöberg finished third for the 2016 MLS Defender of the Year award after serving as one of the lynchpins in the Rapids’ league-best defense. The team went to the MLS Cup semifinals that year as well. At the start of the 2017 season, Sjöberg tore his hamstring, an injury requiring surgery, and missed the next three months.

Since then, things have been rough for the big Swede. Sjöberg has looked more unsure of his actions and positioning and has been less reliable at the back, letting players blow past him, and making occasional, critical mistakes. The Rapids struggled in 2017 while he was injured, but once he returned, the results were no better, with the team compiling a record of 4-7-5 in matches he started. In 2018, he was part of Anthony Hudson’s rotation of unsuccessful centerbacks, getting a run of games in July that failed to reverse the club’s fortunes and ultimately saw him return to the bench.

Against New Mexico, he found himself in the first half as the last defender as Chris Wehan broke toward the goal. The two players collided — or perhaps Sjöberg intentionally knocked Wehan down. It was a moment that could have been an instant red card if the referee desired, but instead resulted in only a yellow. Later, in the 72nd minute, Sjöberg slid in to win the ball after a footrace with New Mexico’s Kevaughn Frater. A step late, Axel got Frater instead of the ball, bringing his man down and drawing a second yellow to get sent off.

It was, to some degree, indicative of Sjöberg’s play over the last two years: mostly he provides solid play, but when a critical moment arises, there’s a little mental mistake, and it costs the team dearly. In 2019, Sjöberg has had an own goal in one match and a red card in another that ultimately doomed the Rapids in those games, to add to his sending off in the Open Cup.

Sjöberg’s success in 2016, plus his genial attitude, endeared him to supporters, and his number 44 jersey is a popular replica kit with fans sighted in the stands on game day. But it has been a while since he was a difference-making defender, in a good way, and instead of ‘Defender of the Year’, fans are hoping that Sjöberg can someday get into the conversation for ‘Comeback Player of the Year.’

Salary Drop

The MLS Players Union released the salaries of players in MLS the other day, and nothing much about the Rapids pay details were surprising.

Tim Howard is still the highest-paid player at $2.6 million a year, and former Rapid Shkelzen Gashi is the team’s second-highest-paid at $1.7 million. Third highest is striker Kei Kamara at $750,000, which is a steal if you consider that Kamara made $1 million for Vancouver last year and scored 14 goals, and his 8 goals to-date puts him on pace to score 15-plus in 2019.

Other than that, there were few surprises. The younger homegrown and SuperDraft players were all signed to affordable contracts at between $70,000 and $100,000 dollars. And, as expected, veteran free agent bench pieces Kofi Opare and Clint Irwin were pretty inexpensive at $70,250 and $138,707, respectively. Striker Diego Rubio, earning $320,000, and midfielder Nicolas Mezquida making $353,750, are middle-income earners in MLS and would be expected to be productive for that amount of outlay.

The only interesting piece of information to come out of the usually revelatory salary drop was regarding the specifics of Kellyn Acosta’s contract. Originally revealed as a contract “worth an average of $800,000 a year,” Acosta’s salary for 2019 will be $665,000. That tells us his 2020 and 2021 contracts will cost the Rapids more — likely around $800,000 in 2020 and $935,000 in 2021. Colorado will hope that, as Acosta settles into the team more over time, his production will rise to justify those pay raises. The need to pay Acosta a little more over the next two years also means that the Rapids will have less targeted allocation money to spread around for other players in ensuing seasons. Not a big deal, unless Acosta underwhelms, and the team is short the available cash needed to replace him with a diamond-in-the-rough. Because like most sports, soccer is not just a game of yards and inches, but also a game of dollars and cents.

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Lakers, Pelicans, agree on Anthony Davis trade, AP sources say

June 15, 2019 - 4:30pm

NEW ORLEANS — Several people familiar with the situation say the New Orleans Pelicans have agreed to trade disgruntled six-time All-Star Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers for point guard Lonzo Ball, forward Brandon Ingram, shooting guard Josh Hart and three first-round draft choices.

The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the trade cannot become official until the new league year begins July 6. ESPN first reported the trade.

The trade pairs the 26-year-old Davis, who is among the game’s biggest stars and requested a trade in late January, with 34-year-old superstar LeBron James. It also gives the Pelicans promising young players and the opportunity to acquire more.

New Orleans already had the first pick overall in Thursday’s draft and will have the Lakers’ fourth overall choice, giving new basketball operations chief David Griffin to add another top-tier prospect to his presumed first pick of Duke star Zion Williamson.

It remains to be seen, however, how well Ingram will recover from a blood clot that sidelined him for part of last season. He was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis in March.

The Lakers and Pelicans missed the playoffs last season and Davis’ trade demand last season caused a palpable degree of acrimony between the clubs because Davis and James share an agent, who told the Pelicans that the Lakers was among Davis’ preferred trade destinations. Shortly after the trade deadline passed with no deal, Davis finished out the season as a lame-duck All-Star and the Pelicans fired then-general manager Dell Demps.

The 16-time champion Lakers even disrupted last season with their public pursuit of Davis. Several Lakers players acknowledged they were shaken by thoughts of their possibly imminent departure, and those resulting losses slid them out of playoff position at midseason.

Getting the deal done then became a near-imperative for general manager Rob Pelinka and owner Jeanie Buss after the Lakers’ latest round of front-office drama. On the final day of their franchise-record sixth straight non-playoff season, president of basketball operations Magic Johnson abruptly quit his job and criticized Pelinka for talking behind his back.

Johnson couldn’t resist another backhanded shot at Pelinka on Saturday with a telling series of tweets that began: “Great job by Owner Jeanie Buss bringing Anthony Davis to the Lakers!”

With the Pelicans’ front office now run by Griffin, whose relationship with James dates to the championship they won together in Cleveland in 2016, relations between the two franchises warmed enough to complete a trade that will ripple throughout the NBA, indirectly affecting the plans of a number of other teams — namely, the Boston Celtics, who actively sought to acquire Davis and had an arsenal of young talent and draft picks to potentially include in a deal.

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Davis is a dynamic 6-foot-10 forward who also plays center, shoots with range, runs the floor, blocks shots and can handle the ball. He has averaged 23.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks during his career. But in seven seasons in New Orleans his Pelicans teams made the playoffs just twice and won one series against Portland two seasons ago.

His next team features arguably the single biggest name in the game in James — not to mention a three-time NBA champion. Davis also has previously lived in Los Angeles to train during the offseason.

Meanwhile, the Lakers blew up the young core they had patiently assembled with a series of high first-round picks and smart later choices.

The trade also helps launch a new era for the Pelicans under Griffin.

The acquisition of Ball, who has averaged 10 points and 6.4 assists in his first two seasons, gives New Orleans a top young point guard and allows Jrue Holiday to play more at his preferred shooting guard spot.

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More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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AP Sports Writer Greg Beacham in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

Categories: All Denver News.

Rockies option infielder Brendan Rodgers to Triple-A, recall right-hander Jesus Tinoco

June 15, 2019 - 3:14pm

The Rockies optioned infielder Brendan Rodgers to Triple-A Albuquerque ahead of Saturday’s game against the Padres at Coors Field, as the rookie has experienced growing pains in his first major-league stay.

Since making his debut May 17 in Philadelphia, Rodgers hasn’t settled in offensively, hitting .246 with no homers and is just .161 in 10 games in June. The 22-year-old is the top positional player prospect in the Rockies’ farm system.

In a corresponding move, Colorado recalled right-hander Jesus Tinoco from the Isotopes. By swapping an infielder for a reliever, Colorado aims to beef up its bullpen while also putting every-day second base responsibilities square on Ryan McMahon’s shoulders.

McMahon’s started 31 games at second base this season and will see even more consistent time there with Rodgers and fellow infielder Garrett Hampson both with the Isotopes. McMahon, 24, is hitting .241 with six homers.

Tinoco, 24, made his major-league debut May 31 with a scoreless inning against Toronto at Coors Field. He was optioned back to the Isotopes two days later and has posted a 4.34 ERA in 23 appearances in Triple-A this season.

“I’ve been focused on locating my fastball more consistently lately,” Tinoco said. “When I got back to Triple-A, I felt comfortable and confident. My slider and curveball have been good (complementary pitches).”

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Trevor Story update. Colorado removed Story from Friday’s game in the eighth inning after a groundball took a bad hop and drilled the shortstop in the forehead, right above the left brow. Saturday, Story said he had been icing his forehead continuously since the play, and was fine with just a slight bruise above his eye.

Rockies’ pick in CWS. Michigan right-hander Karl Kauffmann led the Wolverines to a 5-3 win over Texas Tech in the club’s opening game of the College World Series on Saturday in Omaha. Kauffmann, Colorado’s third selection in the 2019 MLB draft and the No. 77 overall pick, threw seven innings while allowing three runs on eight hits.

On deck David Banks, The Associated PressColorado Rockies starting pitcher Peter Lambert (23) delivers against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning of a baseball game, Thursday, June, 6, 2019, in Chicago.

Padres LHP Nick Margevicius (2-6, 5.02 ERA) at Rockies RHP Peter Lambert (2-0, 1.50)
1:10 p.m. Sunday, Coors Field
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: 850 AM/94.1 FM

Margevicius hasn’t pitched into the fifth inning in any of his last three starts and was hit around at Coors Field on May 12 for five runs in five innings in a 10-7 Rockies’ win. Charlie Blackmon has taken him deep twice in six at-bats, and the southpaw is getting hit at a .328 clip by left-handed hitters this season. Meanwhile, Lambert looks to keep his rookie hype-train rolling following back-to-back dominant starts against the Cubs to open his career. The right-hander has kept the walks to a minimum so far, issuing just three free passes over his first dozen innings.

Trending: The Colorado defense has been excellent again this season, with a .988 fielding percentage that’s third in the National League. Shortstop Trevor Story, who has yet to win a Gold Glove, is second among the league’s shortstops with a .989 fielding percentage and ranks fourth at the position with 6.2 defensive runs above average.

At issue: As Friday night’s extra-innings marathon demonstrated, there’s plenty of action to be had when the Rockies and Padres meet. That might have to do with the fact Colorado pitching ranks first in the National League with 18.3 percent of total pitches that have been put in play; the Padres rank second at 17.8 percent.

Upcoming pitching matchups

Monday: Off
Tuesday: Rockies RHP Antonio Senzatela (5-5, 5.48) at Diamondbacks RHP Merrill Kelly (7-6, 3.73), 7:40 p.m., ATTRM
Wednesday: Rockies RHP Jon Gray (6-5, 4.39) at Diamondbacks RHP Zack Greinke (8-2, 2.65), 7:40 p.m., ATTRM

Categories: All Denver News.