Phelps squeaks into final

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Phelps squeaks into final

By BETH HARRIS LONDON (AP) -- Michael Phelps barely qualified in the 400-meter individual medley, Olympic champion Park Tae-hwan was disqualified and world record-holder Paul Biedermann failed to make the final in a surprising first day of swimming at the London Games on Saturday. Phelps' slow preliminary time was the biggest shocker of all. The 14-time gold medalist squeaked into the last spot in the eight-man final by seven-hundredths of a second, saying, "That one didn't feel too good." Queen Elizabeth appeared briefly at the Aquatics Centre, but the biggest buzz involved the big names who struggled. South Korea's Park won his 400 freestyle preliminary heat, but was disqualified for a false start by a judge on the pool deck. The South Koreans filed a protest with the sport's world governing body, which convened a 22-member panel to decide the case. Biedermann of Germany won't swim in the evening final. Defending Olympic champion Stephanie Rice took the next-to-last spot in the women's 400 IM. "That's the Olympics," said Canadian Ryan Cochrane, who snagged the last spot in the 400 free final, but would miss out if Park was reinstated. "It's always a surprise, every single heat. You just have to focus on your own race." Phelps, the two-time defending Olympic champion, won his 400 IM heat in 4 minutes, 13.33 seconds with a time that was well off his world record of 4:03.84 set four years ago in Beijing, when Phelps won a record eight gold medals. But it was only good enough to secure the last spot in the evening final, when Phelps will swim in Lane 8 instead of the middle of the pool. He breathes to his right, so he won't see the field coming home. "The only thing that matters is just getting a spot in," he said. "You can't win the gold medal from the morning." In the 400 IM, Kosuke Hagino of Japan led the way in 4:10.01, a national record. Chad le Clos of South Africa was second at 4:12.24, and Ryan Lochte of the United States advanced in third at 4:12.35. Phelps' time was just fast enough to keep Laszlo Cseh of Hungary, the silver medalist in Beijing, out of the final. Cseh was ninth overall after leading Phelps during their heat before the American closed on the last lap of freestyle to beat him to the wall. "I didn't expect those guys to go that fast in their heat," Phelps said. "I was slower this morning than I was four years ago." Phelps' time in the grueling event that he had vowed not to swim again after Beijing took some of the luster off what was expected to be a showdown between him and Lochte for gold. "You can't count him out," Lochte said of Phelps. "Even though he just squeaked in eighth, he's a racer. We're going to do everything we can to go 1-2 tonight." Lochte, the bronze medalist in Beijing, has won the 400 IM at the last two world championships. "My first race is always the worst one," he said. "I'm glad I got the cobwebs out." Kosuke Kitajima of Japan opened his bid to become the first male swimmer to win the same individual event at three consecutive Olympics. He qualified second-quickest in the 100 breaststroke at 59.63 seconds behind Christian Sprenger of Australia in 59.62. "I don't have any pressure, I just try to enjoy," Kitajima said. "It felt so good. It was good for my first race. I will try to improve in the semifinals." Giedrius Titenis of Lithuania was third at 59.68. Twelve of the 16 swimmers who reached the semifinals swam under 1 minute. American Brendan Hansen, the 2004 Olympic silver medalist who was fourth in Beijing, qualified 10th at 59.93. His teammate, Eric Shanteau, was 11th at 59.96. "Everybody seemed to be going out real fast in the first 50," Hansen said. "I wanted to come home strong. I let everybody know that last 50 is going to be there. This race is going to be won in the last 15 meters." Missing from the 100 breast was Alexander Dale Oen of Norway, the current world champion who would have been a medal contender in these games. He died in April of cardiac arrest at 26 during a training camp in Arizona. "We're carrying him with us all the time," Sara Nordenstam of Norway said after her heat in the 400 IM. "We have our own way of honoring him -- that's swimming fast and remembering him and remember everything that he taught us and go for the goals that we set together." Dana Vollmer had the fastest qualifying time in the 100 butterfly at 56.25, setting American and Olympic records, to lead 16 women into the evening semifinals. "I'm really happy with how fast it was and I think it's only going to get faster," she said. "That's kind of a confidence-booster. I'm ready to go." Lu Ying of China was second in 57.17 and Australian Alicia Coutts was third at 57.36. Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden, the world record holder, was fourth at 57.45. American Claire Donahue moved on in seventh, while British teammates Francesca Hall and Ellen Gandy were eighth and ninth. Jess Schipper of Australia, the bronze medalist four years ago, was 24th and missed the semifinals by eight spots. In the 400 free, Sun Yang of China qualified fastest in 3:45.07. American Peter Vanderkaay was second at 3:45.80, followed by his teammates Conor Dwyer in 3:46.24. Park was surprised by his DQ, saying, "I don't know why" after he walked off the deck. In Beijing, he became South Korea's first swimming gold medalist and then won the world title in Shanghai last year. Biedermann washed out for the second straight Olympics. He also didn't make it out of the heats in Beijing. He set the world record at the 2009 world meet in Rome at the height of the high-tech body suit craze. Those suits have since been banned. "It wasn't so good," he said. "I wanted to lead from the front, but I couldn't hold it." World champion Elizabeth Beisel of the United States qualified fastest in the women's 400 IM at 4:31.68. Ye Shiwen of China was second at 4:31.73. Katinka Hosszu of Hungary, who trains at the University of Southern California, was third in 4:33.77. Britain's Hannah Miley got the loudest cheers while advancing to the final in sixth. Rice, a triple gold medalist in Beijing who has struggled with shoulder injuries the last three years, was seventh. "Whew! That took quite a bit out of me," Rice said. "I know that I've done everything I could. I'm pretty at peace with the fact that I'm just going to get in there and do my thing and see what happens." American Caitlin Leverenz got the last spot in the eight-woman final. Australia had the fastest qualifying time in the 4x100 free relay. Emily Seebohm, Brittany Elmslie, Yolane Kukla and Libby Trickett were timed in 3:36.34. The U.S. team of Lia Neal, Amanda Weir, Natalie Coughlin and Allison Schmitt was second at 3:36.53. "I think we did our goal of putting us in a good spot for tonight, which was the main thing," said Coughlin, who has 11 career medals but didn't qualify to swim any individual events in London. She has a chance to join Dara Torres and Jenny Thompson as the most decorated U.S. female Olympian if the Americans earn a medal in the evening final, whether or not Coughlin returns to swim. Torres and Thompson both won 12 career medals. The defending champion Dutch team of Marleen Veldhuis, Inge Dekker, Hinkelien Schreuder and Femke Heemskerk was third at 3:37.76.

Joseph still waiting for first RBI of 2016

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Joseph still waiting for first RBI of 2016

BALTIMORE—It looked like an ideal spot for Caleb Joseph’s first RBI. The Orioles had loaded the bases with two outs, but Joseph grounded out to end the inning.

Joseph began the game with a .175 average and no RBIs in 22 games. His fifth inning single didn't drive in a run, but it snapped an 0-for19 streak. 

In his first two years with the Orioles, Joseph had 20 home runs and 77 RBIs. 

Manager Buck Showalter said that he has confidence that Joseph will start to hit, but defense comes first for a catcher.

“He will again. I think they all know where the priority is. It’s stressed all through the organization. Offense is just a plus. If you can get offense at a position that normally doesn’t bring it…it’s an added plus,” Showalter said. 

“He makes a lot more contributions catching defensively than he does offensively. Caleb can hit. He’ll hit. I know he’s getting a little frustrated by it because he knows he’s better than that. It’s not one of those things that I stay up at night about.”

RELATED: SHOWALTER REITERATES THAT JIMENEZ GETS NEXT START

Ward: Retirement of O'Ree's number a 'no-brainer'

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Ward: Retirement of O'Ree's number a 'no-brainer'

It is not Joel Ward’s nature to use his first-ever appearance in the Stanley Cup Final as a civil rights platform. That’s not who he is or what he’s about.

But when ESPN.com’s Joe McDonald asked Ward over the weekend if he believes the NHL should consider retiring Willie O’Ree’s No. 22 in recognition of him breaking the league’s color barrier on Jan. 18, 1958, he was quick to jump on board with the idea.

"That's something to definitely talk about for sure,” said Ward, who upon becoming a member of the Capitals in 2011 requested to wear No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson. “It would be great if they did. … With the amount of respect Willie has around the league, it would definitely be something special if that did come up."

Currently, there is only one jersey number retired by every team in the NHL – Wayne Gretzky’s No. 99.

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O’Ree, 80, played in only 45 NHL games with the Boston Bruins (two games in 1957-58 and 43 games in 1960-61), but he paved the way for other black players to follow.  

“It's a no-brainer,” said Ward, whose San Jose Sharks will face the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. “Without Willie, it would be tough for me to be sitting here today.”

O’Ree has been an ambassador for the NHL for several years. In April he visited Washington to attend a private screening of the movie “Soul on Ice: Past, Present and Future,” and spoke passionately about the racism he faced as a young player who hid from the Bruins organization that he was blind in one eye.

“I was faced with racism, bigotry, prejudice and ignorance and discrimination,” O’Ree recently told a group of students at the Anti-Defamation League Youth Congress in Boston.

“Every time I went to the ice I was faced with racial slurs because of my color and my brother taught me names will never hurt you unless you let them. I had black cats thrown on the ice and told to go back to the cotton fields and pick cotton.”

Ward, 35, faced a different kind of racism after he scored the series-clinching goal for the Capitals in the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs. In the hours after netting the overtime goal in Game 7 in Boston, Bruins fans tweeted racist remarks about Ward, whose parents were born in Barbados and raised their three sons in the Scarborough neighborhood of Toronto.

“I don't let it bother me at all,” Ward told reporters after the incident in Boston. “It's a few people that just made a couple of terrible comments, and what can you do? I know what I signed up for. I'm a black guy playing a predominantly white sport. It's just going to come with the territory. I'd feel naive or foolish to think that it doesn't exist. It's a battle I think will always be there.”

While he was a member of the Capitals, Ward was invited to throw out the first pitch on Jackie Robinson Day at Nats Park, telling the Washington Times about his deep appreciation and respect for what Robinson faced nearly 70 years ago.

“I always question myself whether would I ever be strong enough to go through something like that,” Ward said. “And the fact that he excelled hitting over .300 and knowing that he could be shot at any minute, every time he stepped up to the plate. He just seemed to tune that out in some miraculous way, so for somebody to pave the way like that and open doors for guys like myself is unbelievable."

It took Major League Baseball 50 years after Robinson’s first game to retire his No. 42 forever.  It’s been more than 58 years since O’Ree broke the NHL’s color barrier and Ward believes it’s time to at least start a similar discussion to honor the man whom many describe as the Jackie Robinson of hockey.

MORE CAPITALS: HERSHEY ADVANCES TO CALDER CUP FINALS WITH GAME 5 WIN OVER TORONTO

Stanley Cup Finals simulated on NHL 94 and Caps fans will like the results

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USA TODAY Sports

Stanley Cup Finals simulated on NHL 94 and Caps fans will like the results

Whenever a big sports event is about to take place, people go to great lengths to try to figure out what will happen. Some people use animals to make predictions (remember Paul the octopus?) while others use simulations.

What better way to simulate this year's Stanley Cup Final than with the classic video game NHL 94?

The description of the video says the simulation was done with an updated version of NHL 94 from NHL94.com.

Las Vegas may have the Penguins as the favorites in the series, but clearly the wise guys did not do their research. This foolproof simulation has the Sharks sweeping the Penguins in four games. Sidney Crosby also manages just one goal and one assist in the series.

Call your bookie, you've got the inside scoop on what's going to happen in the Finals.

RELATED: 2015-16 SEASON IN REVIEW: NICKLAS BACKSTROM