Sports News

iStock(NEW YORK) -- The Houston Astros have issued an apology after one of its executives reportedly made a "frightening" outburst toward three female reporters while celebrating the team making it to the World Series.

The controversy surrounded closer Roberto Osuna, who the Astros acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays last season while he was under a 75-game suspension for domestic violence, per Major League Baseball's policy on domestic violence.

On Saturday, after the Astros clinched the ALCS in Game 6 against the New York Yankees, assistant general manager Brandon Taubman reportedly turned toward the group of female reporters in the clubhouse and said several times, "Thank God we got Osuna! I’m so f------ glad we got Osuna!" Sports Illustrated reported. One of the reporters was wearing a purple domestic violence bracelet, and Taubman's comments were so "offensive and frightening" that another Astros staffer apologized to the women, according to the outlet.

The comments were even more puzzling considering that Osuna had been "the least valuable" Astros player that game, Sports Illustrated reported.

The Astros initially defended Taubman, describing the Sports Illustrated story in a statement as "misleading and completely irresponsible," stating that the comments were "not directed toward any specific reporters" and accusing Sports Illustrated of fabricating "a story where one does not exist."

"An Astros player was being asked questions about a difficult outing. Our executive was supporting the player during a difficult time," the statement, released on Monday, read, although the Houston Chronicle reported that there were no players in the area and no interviews being conducted at the time. "His comments had everything to do about the game situation that just occurred and nothing else."

On Tuesday, Taubman released a statement admitting to using "inappropriate language" for which he is "deeply sorry and embarrassed."

"In retrospect, I realize that my comments were unprofessional and inappropriate," he said. "My overexuberance in support of a player has been misinterpreted as a demonstration of a regressive attitude about an important social issue. Those that know me know that I am a progressive and charitable member of the community, and a loving and committed husband and father. I hope that those who do not know me understand that the Sports Illustrated article does not reflect who I am or my values. I am sorry if anyone was offended by my actions."

The Sports Illustrated column accuses Taubman's comments as illustrating MLB's "forgive and forget" attitude toward domestic violence.

The allegations against Osuna, 24, stem from a May 2018 incident in which he allegedly assaulted the mother of his child, but the charges were dropped after she returned to Mexico and declined to testify, ESPN reported. As part of a peace bond, Osuna agreed to counseling and to not have any contact with the woman.

In August 2018, Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow said in a statement that while the situation "weighed heavily" on their decision to sign Osuna, they "felt that Roberto deserved a second chance" after evaluating "the entirety of information."

"This is the miscalculation that teams make over and over again," the Sports Illustrated column read. "They acquire players with reprehensible pasts for less than market rate and concede that they will have to pay a price in public trust. But when the bill comes due, teams act like they, not the people their actions wounded, are the aggrieved party."

Astros owner and Chairman Jim Crane said in a statement Tuesday that the team continues "to be committed to using our voice to create awareness and support on the issue of domestic violence."

"We not only ensure mandatory training annually for all our employees, we also have created an important partnership with the Texas Council on Family Violence, and have raised over $300K through our initiatives to help various agencies providing important support for this cause," Crane said. "We fully support MLB and baseball's stance and values regarding domestic violence."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



iStock(NEW YORK) -- When she was 6 years old, Maria Sharapova moved with her father from Sochi, Russia, to Florida to train with tennis professionals and see if she could turn her dream into a reality.

“I had this incredible focus of hitting this yellow fuzzy ball endlessly and I think the one quality that really stood out was that I was just able to do it repetitively and I was able to focus and concentrate,” Sharapova told ABC News’ Rebecca Jarvis on an episode of No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis podcast.

Sharapova has made quite a name for herself on and off the court: she won Wimbledon at age 17, has been ranked No. 1 in the world by the World Tennis Association five separate times, is a New York Times bestselling author and started her own candy line, Sugarpova.

“We came to America with only $700, and while he (her father) was trying to find ways to make money, I was at the big sporting academy in Florida just getting better and improving,” Sharapova said, reflecting on her early days in the United States. “I didn't know the language so I learned that very fast by being around so many children.”

Sharapova said part of the reason she founded Sugarpova is because of a shoulder injury she thought would end her tennis career.

Sugarpova is a candy line consisting of chocolates, gummies, gumballs and truffles inspired by Sharapova’s childhood, when she would reward herself after practice with a lollipop or chocolate treat. All Sugarpova candies are made from natural, non-GMO ingredients and can be found in stores across the country.

“I recognized that tennis would not last forever, and I think as you have this one thing going on in your life and this one career path it's as if you're never going to make shifts and turns and I recognized at that time that, wow, I don't know if I'm going to ever come back from the shoulder injury and at the time it was like I want to take all the experience that I've had in business and I want to apply it to Sugarpova,” Sharapova said.

After years of partnering with brands and being the face of various advertising campaigns, Sharapova was ready to take what she had learned from those experiences and apply them.

“I actually didn't say I think I can do this. It was more like I think I want to be a little more competitive with this,” Sharapova said about starting Sugarpova. “I want to be the one that's making more decisions, better decisions that can maybe benefit me in the long run.”

She began creating the line's bags and logo that is seen around the world today.

In the interview, Sharapova also touched on failing a drug test because of a medication she had been taking for health reasons, causing her to be banned from tennis for 15 months.

“It was such an interesting time in my career because it's also a time that I was considering maybe stepping down from the sport and thinking a little bit about family and business and it kind of prolonged my career in a way of when I did get back I viewed the sport in a very different way,” Sharapova said. “It was a blessing and opened my eyes to what I had achieved and the amount of people that respected what I did.”

While taking some time off to re-evaluate her future, Sharapova focused on Sugarpova and studied management and leadership at Harvard to gain business skills.

“I worked on Sugarpova consistently,” Sharapova said. “I was investing in a few different businesses so I had time and then I got to spend the holidays at home which was such a treat for me.”

Sharapova’s tennis career is still going strong, and she continues to push forward in the world of entrepreneurship, launching Sugarpova in stores across the globe and serving as a guest judge on season 11 of Shark Tank.

“In sports we can be seen as heroic, but at the end of the day we're also very open to being vulnerable and entrepreneurship should be the same way, there’s no reason to hide the tough moments," she said. "I think that's part of the scars that help you grow.”

Hear more from Maria Sharapova on episode #134 of No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.



Allen Kee/ESPN Images(NEW YORK) -- New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard is recovering from his second concussion of the season, but is hopeful he will see the field again in 2019.

"I'm feeling great," the Giant told ABC Audio, while volunteering for Make A Difference Day. A father himself, Shepard was helping Pampers fulfill its commitment to install 5,000 changing tables across North America by 2021.

Shepard continued, "I've been feeling good for about two weeks now, so I'm just kind of waiting on doctors to give me the green light."

Shepard was placed in the NFL's concussion protocol after the Giants' season-opener against the Dallas Cowboys, and a few weeks later following the team's loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

He concedes "it's tough" sitting out games, including this past Sunday’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals, and he did not offer a specific date for when he expects to return.

Shepard has practiced on a limited basis since suffering his second concussion, however, and assures fans, "I'll be back here pretty soon and I'm looking forward to it."

Shepard also shared his feelings on youth participation in football and the play of Giants’ rookie Daniel Jones.

A soon-to-be father of two, Shepard tells ABC Audio in spite of his concussion history, he would let his children play football:

"If that's what they want to do, if that's their true passion and what they love, I'm all for it."


When discussing Jones, Shepard says the quarterback is "doing a great job passing, running, extending the play," and believes teammates "need to do a better job for him I feel like… giving him a little bit more time and catch the ball when we’re open."
 
Shepard is one of seven other NFL dads, Marvin Jones of the Detroit Lions and Derek Wolfe of the Denver Broncos among them, volunteering as part of Pampers' commitment to install changing tables.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Tempura/iStock(XIAMEN, China) -- Indonesian athlete Aries Susanti Rahayu set a new world record for women in speed climbing this weekend, climbing up a 49-foot wall in under seven seconds.

Rahayu, 24, scurried up the climbing wall at a Climbing World Cup competition in Xiamen, China, reaching the top in 6.99 seconds -- beating out the previous record of 7.10 seconds.

She also became the first woman in the history of the sport to reach the top in under seven seconds, according to International Federation of Sport Climbing.

Video of her win shows Rahayu, who has been appropriately nicknamed "Spider-woman," exploding off the ground and quickly leaving her competitor in the dust.

"I'm very happy, amazing for me," she told reporters after the Saturday's event.

RECORD BREAKER: Watch the moment a new speed climbing world record is set as Indonesia's Aries Susanti Rahayu reaches the top of the 15-meter course in 6.995 seconds, becoming the first woman ever to break the seven second barrier in the event. https://t.co/VonJjedZ8T pic.twitter.com/GrGoUbUW1o

— ABC News (@ABC) October 22, 2019

Sport climbing, including speed, bouldering and lead, will make its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020. Speed climbing involves two competitors climbing up a 49-foot wall on a fixed route.

Rahayu, from the city of Yogyakarta, has become a force in the sport. She is currently ranked third in the world and was featured on Forbes Asia's "30 Under 30" list in 2019.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images(FOXBOROUGH, Mass.) -- The New England Patriots have reportedly added a veteran wide receiver to their roster.

Citing league sources, ESPN reports the team has acquired Mohamed Sanu from the Atlanta Falcons. In exchange for the 30-year-old wide receiver, the Falcons received a second-round draft pick.

Sanu seemed to hint at the trade, tweeting, “I appreciate everything the organization has done for my family & I. Mr. Blank, TD, Coach Q, & everyone through the organization, I am forever grateful for the opportunity.”

I appreciate everything the organization has done for my family & I. Mr. Blank, TD, Coach Q, & everyone through the organization, I am forever grateful for the opportunity. To my Teammates & fan y’all know how I feel about y’all love y’all to death. #ThankYou

— Mohamed Sanu Sr. (@Mo_12_Sanu) October 22, 2019

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady also welcomed him to the team, tweeting, “See you soon.”

See you soon. https://t.co/2QgSuWbTXB

— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) October 22, 2019

So far this season, his eighth in the NFL, Sanu has 33 receptions for 313 yards and one touchdown.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



33ft/iStock(ST. PAUL, Minn.) -- After his cancer diagnosis in high school, Casey O'Brien had been told that his football career was over.

O'Brien, of St. Paul, Minnesota, had spent his entire childhood playing different sports, including football, but then he got a pain in his left knee that would not go away, he said during a speech, according to ESPN.

In December 2013, when he was a high school freshman, O'Brien was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, an extremely rare form of bone cancer.

He'd go on to beat cancer four times, even as he joined the University of Minnesota's football team as a walk-on placeholder for the Golden Gophers.

In all, O'Brien underwent chemotherapy and 14 surgeries, including a knee replacement.

On Saturday, though, he was able to prove that determination breeds success when he stepped foot on the field in Piscataway, New Jersey, as a Golden Gopher wearing No. 14. It was a moment the college sophomore had been waiting for.

During Saturday's game, he took the field for the first time and held the ball for an extra point in the fourth quarter.

"There's been so many ups and downs and nights in the hospital and surgeries ... that has gone into this moment. ... This is what I've dreamed about and tonight it got to come true," he told the Big Ten Network on Saturday.

Afterward, he got hugs from his team and then was seen giving an emotional embrace to University of Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck.

"It was a special moment with Coach Fleck. I mean there's one coach in the country that took a chance and gave me a spot to walk on. And I just thanked him. ... He means the world to me," O'Brien told the Big Ten Network.

Fleck told the Big Ten Network after the game that "when you think courage, you think Casey O'Brien."

"He's an unbelievable person and he's been through an awful lot. ... No one can ever take away that he played college football in the Big Ten. ... It was pretty emotional," Fleck said.

The Gophers went on to seal their win against Rutgers, 42-7. After the game, O'Brien was seen running over to share the moment with his parents.

O'Brien shared some advice to others who watched him take the field against incredible odds.

"Don't give up because you can make it happen. ... Go Gophers!" he said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



iStock(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Monday's sports events:

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Philadelphia 6, Vegas 2
Columbus 4, Toronto 3 -- OT
St. Louis 3, Colorado 1
Dallas 2, Ottawa 1

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
New England 33, NY Jets 0

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images(NEW YORK) -- New England Patriots star Tom Brady threw a flag on an off-field play that he said misrepresented team owner Robert Kraft.

The Patriots quarterback said his recent cameo appearance in Living With Yourself, a new Netflix comedy series, was "taken out of context."

According to ESPN, the scene shows Brady walking out of the "Top Happy Spa," which is located inside a strip mall, and asking Paul Rudd's character if it's his "first time" there.

"Uh-huh," Rudd responded. "You?"

"Sixth," Brady said with a smile, in a reference to his six Super Bowl championships.

Many viewers thought the scene, which director Timothy Greenberg told Refinery29 he wrote years ago, was a reference to Patriots owner Kraft's arrest for solicitation of prostitution at a Florida massage parlor in February. Brady strongly pushed back against that assessment.

"That's not what that was about," Brady, 42, told reporters inside the Patriots locker room on Saturday.

"The blame and shame media atmosphere that's percolated for a while, I think that was taken out of context, just like you're taking it out of context and trying to make it a story for yourself, which has a negative connotation to it, which I don't appreciate," Brady further said. "It was meant to be something different than that. The fact it's a distraction or you're bringing it up is not something I want to be talking about."

The star quarterback also said he did not know what the final scene would look like because it was shot in front of a green screen.

Living With Yourself director Greenberg admitted to Refinery29 that after Kraft's arrest, he thought, "'Alright, this is clearly not going to happen now.'"

But Brady honored his commitment to the show.

"It's unfortunate that people would choose to think I would ever do something like that about Mr. Kraft," Brady added. "I think that's a very bad assessment of my relationship with him. I would never do that."

"I think everybody knows what our relationship is about. For 20 years, it's nothing but love and respect," Brady said. "I've been through a lot of tough things with him. I love him dearly. I sympathize with a lot of things that he's gone through in his life. I empathize with a lot of people that get taken advantage of and get used and understand that's part of what we're living in."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



iStock(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Sunday's sports events:

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Vancouver 3, NY Rangers 2
Minnesota 4, Montreal at 3
Washington 5, Chicago 3
Winnipeg 1, Edmonton 0
Calgary 2, Anaheim 1

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE

Jacksonville 27, Cincinnati 17
Green Bay 42, Oakland 24
Buffalo 1, Miami 21
L.A. Rams 37, Atlanta 10.
Minnesota 42, Detroit 30
Indianapolis 30, Houston 23
Arizona 27, NY Giants 21
San Francisco 9, Washington 0
Tennessee 23, L.A. Chargers 20
New Orleans 36, Chicago 25
Baltimore 30, Seattle 16
Dallas 37, Philadelphia 10

MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER
Philadelphia 4, New York 3
LA Galaxy 2, Minnesota 1

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



iStock(BURLINGTON, Vt.) -- Players from a high school girls soccer team in Vermont were penalized after they revealed a message promoting equal pay under their team jerseys during a game, the team's coach said.

The team had approached Burlington High School soccer coach Jeff Hayes several weeks ago with an idea to reverberate the message first promoted by their heroines, the U.S. women's national soccer team, Hayes told "Good Morning America."

For Friday night's game, which was senior night, the entire team -- as well as the coaching staff and members of the crowd -- wore the custom-made white T-shirts adorned with #EQUALPAY, Hayes said. After the warmup, the girls placed their jerseys over the shirts to comply with the bylaws of the Vermont Principals' Association, but after a late goal was scored with thee minutes left in the game, some players took off their jerseys in excitement.

"The fans were just absolutely going crazy," and began chanting "equal pay," Hayes said. However, the officials ran over and issued four yellow cards for unsportsmanlike conduct over the excessive celebration.

The penalized players had to sit out for some of the game but were eventually allowed back in, Hayes said.

Members of the team admitted that they got "carried away" by taking their jerseys "all the way off," but said the message outweighed the penalties they received.

"It goes for everyone -- every girl, every woman, the world," player Helen Worden said. "It’s not just about sports.”

Friday night's game ended in a tie, but the team feels as if they won in the spirit of spreading the message.

They have now sold more than 700 of the shirts, inviting men and boys to pay 16% more, which represents the average pay gap in Vermont, according to the team. The Burlington High School boys' soccer team has even worn the shirts in solidarity.

Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy and his wife, Marcelle, were among the purchasers. Leahy tweeted a photo of the couple wearing the shirts, stating, "Marcelle and I stand with you!"

The referee who issued the yellow cards even bought a shirt after the game and told the players he's excited to wear it, according to the team.The money made in the sales will go to support youth soccer leagues in the community.

"They did such an amazing job with getting involved in the community," Hayes said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.