Monday, July 30, 2012

Tebow says it's hard to 'relax' as member of the Jets

CORTLAND — Sometimes Tim Tebow just wants to be like the rest of us.

Tebow said after Monday’s practice that there are times he’d like to do regular things that he knows his celebrity status will make difficult.

“Sometimes it is [tough],” Tebow said. “If you just want to go watch a movie, Dark Knight or something, it’s something you just have to think about and plan for.

“It’s not that I get frustrated doing it, it’s just sometimes you just want to relax and be normal because that’s how I view myself, you know? Sometimes you just would like to be able to do more normal stuff that you can’t.”

Two days later, Tebow was still dealing with the fallout from his shirtless run through the rain following Saturday’s practice. He said that the most ribbing had come from fellow quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Greg McElroy.

“It was funny,” Tebow said. “A few guys gave me a hard time, but honestly, I don’t think anybody knew until they saw it that night on ESPN. It was funny. More than anything, it was probably Mark and Greg giving me a hard time. Everybody else catches on after that.”

Sanchez said that Tebow had brought up Sanchez’s famous GQ photo shoot when his run through the rain came up, something Tebow didn’t deny.

“It might have been brought up,” he said with a smile.

Tebow admitted he hadn’t seen the slowed-down footage of him running through the rain with the famous “Chariots of Fire” music playing in the background. But he said that he does find himself laughing at times at the way his every move is scrutinized and analyzed by the media and the general public.

“Sometimes it does get a little comical and funny to me,” Tebow said. “For the most part, I really just try not to think about it or worry about it or pay attention to it. I really just try to be myself and lead as much of a normal life as I can without having any of this change who I am or what I do or why I do it.

“I think that’s something that I kind of take pride in, not changing especially my values, my faith, anything like that, but also what I do, how I do it. I try to be the same person all the time, and just being someone that’s authentic and genuine and real and not someone that does one thing in front of the cameras and something different when I’m not … I don’t want to change based on what anyone writes about me.”

That, he said, includes him taking his shirt off.

“I’m not gonna change that,” he said with a laugh. “I’m taking my shirt off.”

France's Agnel gets best of Lochte again in 200m freestyle at Olympics

LONDON — Yannick Agnel of France routed a stellar field by more than a second and a half to win the 200-meter freestyle at the London Olympics on Monday.

Having pushed France ahead of the United States in the anchor leg of the 4x100 free relay a day earlier, Agnel led from start to finish and clocked 1 minute, 43.14 seconds.

Park Tae-hwan of South Korea and Sun Yang of China shared silver in 1:44.93.

World champion Ryan Lochte of the United States finished fourth and world record holder Paul Biedermann of Germany was fifth.

Defending champion Michael Phelps did not enter the event.

Colorado 'gunman' charged with 24 counts of murder

CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Colorado prosecutors on Monday charged a former neuroscience graduate student with 24 counts of murder and 116 counts of attempted murder in the shooting rampage at the midnight showing of the new Batman movie.

James Holmes appeared just as dazed as he did in his first court appearance last week, but at one point exchanged a few words with one of his attorneys in the packed courtroom.

The breakdown of the charges was not immediately clear.

The attack at "The Dark Knight Rises" left 12 people dead and 58 others injured. After his arrest, police said they found that his apartment was booby trapped. Among the charges Monday was one count of possession of explosives.

Legal analysts expect the case to be dominated by arguments over the defendant's sanity.

Unlike Holmes' first court appearance July 23, Monday's hearing was not televised. At the request of the defense, District Chief Judge William Sylvester barred video and still cameras from the hearing, saying expanded coverage could interfere with Holmes' right to a fair trial.

Last week, Sylvester allowed a live video feed that permitted the world its first glimpse of the shooting suspect. With an unruly mop of orange hair, Holmes appeared bleary-eyed and distracted. He did not speak.

Attorneys also were arguing over a defense motion to find out who leaked information to the news media about a package the 24-year-old Holmes allegedly sent to his psychiatrist at the University of Colorado Denver.

Authorities seized the package July 23, three days after the shooting, after finding it in the mailroom of the medical campus where Holmes studied. Several media outlets reported that it contained a notebook with descriptions of an attack, but Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers said in court papers that the parcel hadn't been opened by the time the "inaccurate" news reports appeared.

Security was tight for Monday's hearing. Armed officers were stationed on the roof of both buildings at the court complex, and law enforcement vehicles blocked entrances to the buildings.

Investigators said Holmes began stockpiling gear for his assault four months ago and bought his weapons in May and June, well before the shooting spree just after midnight during a showing of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises." He was arrested by police outside the theater.

Analysts said that means it's likely there's only one main point of legal dispute between prosecutors and the defense.

"I don't think it's too hard to predict the path of this proceeding," said Craig Silverman, a former chief deputy district attorney in Denver. "This is not a whodunit. ... The only possible defense is insanity."

Under Colorado law, defendants are not legally liable for their acts if their minds are so "diseased" that they cannot distinguish between right and wrong. However, the law warns that "care should be taken not to confuse such mental disease or defect with moral obliquity, mental depravity, or passion growing out of anger, revenge, hatred, or other motives, and kindred evil conditions."

Experts said there are two levels of insanity defenses.

Holmes' public defenders could argue he is not mentally competent to stand trial, which is the argument by lawyers for Jared Loughner, who is accused of killing six people in 2011 in Tucson, Ariz., and wounding several others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Loughner, who has pleaded not guilty to 49 charges, has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and is undergoing treatment at a Missouri prison facility in a bid to make him mentally fit to stand trial.

If Holmes' attorneys cannot convince the court that he is mentally incompetent, and he is convicted, they can try to stave off a possible death penalty by arguing he is mentally ill. Prosecutors will decide whether to seek the death penalty in the coming weeks.

Holmes was not expected to enter pleas on Monday.

He ultimately could verbally enter a plea to the anticipated dozen first-degree murder charges, or his attorneys could enter it for him. Prosecutors may file multiple counts of attempted first-degree murder and other charges against Holmes, who booby trapped his apartment with the intent to kill any officers responding there the night of the theater attack, Aurora police said.

Sam Kamin, a law professor at the University of Denver, said there is "pronounced" evidence that the attack was premeditated, which would seem to make an insanity defense difficult. "But," he said, "the things that we don't know are what this case is going to hinge on, and that's his mental state."

Friends in Southern California, where Holmes grew up, describe him as a smart, sometimes awkward youth fascinated by science. He came to Colorado's competitive neuroscience doctoral program in June 2011. A year later, he dropped out shortly after taking his year-end exam.

Sylvester has tried to tightly control the flow of information about Holmes, placing a gag order on lawyers and law enforcement, sealing the court file and barring the university from releasing public records relating to Holmes' year there. A consortium of media organizations, including The Associated Press, is challenging Sylvester's sealing of the court file.

On Friday, court papers revealed that Holmes was seeing a psychiatrist at the university. But they did not say how long he was seeing Dr. Lynne Fenton and if it was for a mental illness or another problem.

The University of Colorado's website identified Fenton as the medical director of the school's Student Mental Health Services. An online resume listed schizophrenia as one of her research interests and stated that she sees 10 to 15 graduate students a week for medication and psychotherapy, as well as five to 10 patients in her general practice as a psychiatrist.

Authorities said Holmes legally purchased four guns before the attack at Denver-area sporting goods stores - a semiautomatic rifle, a shotgun and two pistols. To buy the guns, Holmes had to pass background checks that can take as little as 20 minutes in Colorado.

One development over the weekend brought more grief. A woman who was critically wounded and whose 6-year-old daughter was killed suffered a miscarriage because of the trauma, her family said Saturday. Ashley Moser's daughter, Veronica Moser-Sullivan, was the youngest person killed in the attack.

Chambers' office announced Monday that Lisa Teesch-Maguire, a former legal director of the Rocky Mountain Victim Law Center, had been appointed a victims' rights advocate in the case.

Giants, Mets both seeking turnaround

The Giants entered their weekend series with the rival Dodgers holding a three-game lead in the National League West.

That advantage disappeared with a Los Angeles sweep that leaves San Francisco scrambling to recover as it welcomes the Mets to AT&T Park for a four-game set. The good news for the Giants heading into Monday night's opener is that the Mets have been mired in a much worse skid, dropping 14 of their past 17.

New York has started its 11-game road trip through the NL West at 2-2 and will send Jeremy Hefner to the mound against San Francisco and Madison Bumgarner. Hefner is 1-4 with a 5.40 ERA overall, and the rookie right-hander has posted a 5.82 mark in four starts, despite a 17-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

A rotation fill-in while Johan Santana is on the disabled list, Hefner took the loss Wednesday against the Nationals, but manager Terry Collins said the 26-year-old "pitched very, very well." Hefner struck out seven and walked two over six innings, giving up two earned runs on six hits.

Bumgarner (11-6, 3.10 ERA) has dominated at AT&T Park this season, going 7-1 with a 1.89 ERA.

He also has been rolling in three starts since the All-Star break, with a 2.14 ERA, 22 strikeouts and four walks in 21 innings.

The lefty racked up nine punchouts and held the Padres to two runs in seven innings Tuesday, despite apparently not feeling at his best.

"I was behind a lot. That was probably the least amount of fastballs I've ever thrown in a game, ever," Bumgarner said. "My command was a little off."

Mets: Baxter to join team in San Francisco
Outfielder Mike Baxter has been on the disabled list since June 2, a day after he displaced his right collarbone while saving Santana's no-hitter with a leaping catch. But he is set to make his return Monday, with the Mets clearing roster space by optioning Kirk Nieuwenhuis to Triple-A Buffalo after Sunday's game.

Baxter has batted .327 in 13 Minor League rehab games before being held out of Triple-A Buffalo's lineup Sunday. The left-handed hitter posted a .323 average in 65 big league games before his injury and could take some of Jason Bay's playing time in left field, possibly as part of a platoon. Bay has gone 22 consecutive at-bats without a hit.

But considering the struggles some Mets players have faced this year upon returning from rehab assignments, Collins said before Sunday's game that he probably will ease Baxter into the lineup.

"That's the $64,000 question," Collins said. "We brought Josh Thole up, he got off to a rough start. We brought Jason Bay back, he's off to a rough start. How many times do you jump on the same merry-go-round?"

Giants: Searching for offense
San Francisco has scored three runs or fewer in five straight games and six of seven, including back-to-back shutouts, and is dealing with the loss of third baseman Pablo Sandoval to the DL.

Manager Bruce Bochy talked to his club about picking up the pace offensively before Sunday's 4-0 loss to the Dodgers. In particular, the Giants are looking for a boost from outfielders Gregor Blanco and Angel Pagan.

Blanco was hitting .216 since June 1 before Sunday, when he got only his second start in the last eight games and went 1-for-3 with a walk. Pagan batted fifth in the game and went 1-for-4, making him 7-for-38 (.184) in his last 10 games.

"I think they know what's at stake from here on out," Bochy said prior to the game. "We're quiet with the bats right now. We have to get those going to take the pressure off these pitchers."

Worth noting
  • This series will be the teams' last meeting of the regular season. The Giants took three of four from the Mets in New York in April.
  • During a doubleheader on April 23 at Citi Field, Hefner made his Major League debut with three scoreless relief innings in the first game, while Bumgarner won the second game by holding the Mets to one run over seven.

Katherine Jackson 'furious' with son Randy for trying to overthrow MJ's will

Family matriarch Katherine Jackson is steamed at her son Randy for leading an apparently failed coup to overturn The King of Pop’s will, according to published reports today.

Michael Jackson’s mom has only recently figured out that Randy had aggressively sought to invalidate The Gloved One’s will that generously cares for his kids and mom -- and virtually no one else, RadarOnline reported.

"Katherine was completely unaware that Randy had orchestrated his siblings signing a letter sent to the executors of Michael Jackson’s estate demanding their immediate resignation,” a source close to the family.

“Now that Katherine has been home for a few days, she recognizes that Randy was the one that planned this, and she is absolutely furious for him doing so.”

While Katherine is willing to read Randy The Riot Act behind closed doors, she’ll apparently resist any temptation to throw him under the bus publicly.

“Katherine will never speak out publicly against her children, it's just not who she is,” Radar’s source said.

“Behind the scenes, however, Katherine is extremely upset and disappointed in Randy's actions that have brought so much unwanted chaos into all of their lives," a source close to the situation tells us.”
Katherine Jackson, named legal guardian for MJ’s three kids in his will, suddenly vanished for 12 days earlier this month.

Brothers Randy and Jermaine both said their mom was resting in Arizona under doctors orders. But MJ’s kids Paris and Prince both said their guardian was missing, leading to a stunning court action.

A Los Angeles judge appointed TJ Jackson, Tito’s 32-year-old son, temporary guardianship of the kids.

Katherine’s oddly-timed spa vacation came as Randy and Jermaine launched an effort to have their brother’s will thrown out and executors of his estate removed.

They claim the document is a fraud, but Katherine and the kids -- well cared for, under MJ’s will -- like the status quo.

Katherine’s lawyer said his 82-year-old client and TJ Jackson have agreed to a joint custody arrangement.

Opportunity knocks for O's as they visit the Bronx

The last time the Orioles and Yankees met, May 14-15 at Camden Yards, they split a two-game series that left Baltimore tied for first in the American League East, 2 1/2 games ahead of New York.

That dynamic has shifted considerably as the teams prepare to renew their acquaintance with a three-game set that will get under way on Monday night at Yankee Stadium. Although New York has lost seven of its last 10, it still stands 7 1/2 games ahead of Baltimore.

The Orioles, who have lost five of seven, are embarking on a crucial six-game trip to New York and Tampa Bay. They are tied with the Rays for second in the AL East and fourth in the Wild Card race, two games behind the Angels for the last berth.

Miguel Gonzalez will take the mound for the Orioles, making his first career appearance against the Yankees. The 28-year-old rookie right-hander is 2-2 with a 4.28 ERA in four starts and three relief outings.

Gonzalez posted a 2.79 ERA over his first three starts, but hit a bump in the road on Wednesday against the Rays. A leadoff home run kicked off a five-run first inning, and Gonzalez exited after 2 2/3 innings, having surrendered seven runs.

"I couldn't get my command," Gonzalez said. "Obviously, whatever happened didn't work out for me. I just want to forget about tonight's game."

The Yankees will counter with Freddy Garcia, who has been solid in five starts since injuries pushed him back into the starting rotation. The veteran righty owns a 3.90 ERA, 27 strikeouts and nine walks in 30 innings over that span.

Garcia racked up a season-high eight strikeouts in seven innings against the Mariners on Tuesday, but also took his second straight loss after allowing three runs on five hits.

"I feel really good today. I got everything going right now," Garcia said after that start, in which he didn't issue a walk. "I started to always make my pitch, and they gave me a favor -- they start swinging the bats real aggressive. For me, when that happens, it's good, because I can locate all my pitches and get the job done more easy."

Orioles: Wieters shows no ill effects in return
Catcher Matt Wieters sat out Friday and Saturday's games with right biceps soreness, but was back in the lineup on Sunday, hitting cleanup.

Wieters quickly made his presence felt, mashing a three-run homer in the third inning. He had been hitting .179 with no homers and two RBIs in his previous 15 games.
  • Baltimore selected the contract of outfielder Lew Ford from Triple-A Norfolk on Saturday and put him in the lineup against the A's, batting fifth and playing left field. The 35-year-old former Twin went 0-for-3 with a walk in his first big league game since 2007.

Yankees: Pettitte's ankle not healing quickly
Left-hander Andy Pettitte suffered a slight setback in his recovery from a fractured left ankle, the veteran first told the New York Post on Sunday.

Pettitte, 40, told the newspaper that he "did a little too much in Seattle" and that the ankle "hasn't healed up as much as [the doctors] thought it would."

He had been building arm strength by throwing on flat ground in the outfield before games, and was even spotted on one occasion running the stairs in the lower seating bowl at Safeco Field during the Yankees' last road trip.

"He pushed himself too far, so we will back off," said Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.

Worth noting
  • The Yankees are 5-3 against the Orioles this season, but 1-2 at home.
  • Current Orioles own a .505 slugging percentage in 135 plate appearances against Garcia, who gave up three earned runs in 4 2/3 innings against Baltimore in his first game of the season.

Olympics tickets go back on sale after empty seat embarrassment

A large portion of Monday's daily Olympic organizing committee briefing was spent discussing one subject: tickets.

London organizers have gone to international federations to reclaim unused tickets, which have become a bit of an embarrassment because of swaths of empty seats at several venues through the first few days.

The reclaimed tickets will be sold daily on Ticketmaster -- but to Britain residents only.

"We've said from the beginning anything available will go to the British public, and that's what we'll continue to do," said London organizing committee Jackie Brock-Doyle. "Clearly the demand is there, and we don't need to worry about them not being sold. We sold 3,000 tickets overnight."

Organizers also had to open a dedicated will-call window in the athletes village because of long lines that apparently caused some parents to miss their children's swimming events on Sunday.

Organizers say that with more than 10,000 athletes to serve and the "enormous demand" for tickets, they are making adjustments as issues arise.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

'Dancing With The Stars' All-Stars: Season 15 Cast Announced

The stars, the glittery costumes, the ballroom drama, and of course, the dancing, are all back for a new season of ABC's hit show "Dancing With the Stars."

The all-star "Dancing With the Stars" cast was announced today for season 15, where for the first time ever, previous contestants will return to the ballroom to vie for the coveted mirror ball trophy.

Olympians and former "DWTS" winners Apolo Ohno (Season 4) and Shawn Johnson (Season 8) will show off their fancy footwork again this season, along with fellow champs from seasons' past: former 98 Degrees member Drew Lachey (Season 2), former Dallas Cowboy star Emmitt Smith (Season 3), Brazilian race car driver Helio Castroneves (Season 5) and soap star Kelly Monaco (Season 1).

Actresses Pamela Anderson (Season 10) and Kirstie Alley (Season 12), French actor and finalist Gilles Marini (Season 8), and former 'N Sync singer Joey Fatone (Season 4), are also among this season's high-wattage alumni in the competition.

Bristol Palin (Season 11), daughter of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and TV personality Melissa Rycroft (Season 8) round out the pack.

Another first in "Dancing" history, the 13th contestant will be decided by America in an online vote. Fashion commentator Carson Kressley (Season 13), singer Sabrina Bryan (Season 5), Disney Channel star Kyle Massey (Season 11) are vying for people's votes to score the 13th spot in the competition.

Paul Lee, president of the ABC Entertainment Group, announced the new cast at the Television Critics Association conference.

With the mix of previous champs, finalists and fan favorites in the cast, the stage is set for a heated competition and the show's long-time fans will undoubtedly be torn. Which celebrity are you rooting for this time around? Which star do you want to see in that 13th spot?

The all-star line-up will hit the dance floor on the two-hour season premiere of "Dancing With the Stars" Monday, Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. ET. The couple with the lowest combined judges' scores and public votes for their performance will be sent home in the season premiere of "Dancing With the Stars: The Results Show."

From ABC News

Rubber game pits Sox's Doubront vs. potent Yanks

Saturday's victory over the Yankees was certainly a step in the right direction for the Red Sox, but they likely still have a long way to go to ease the season-long frustrations voiced by Dustin Pedroia following Friday's series-opening loss.

After all, the Red Sox are still just 50-51 on the year, marking the latest they've been below .500 since Oct. 3, 2001. They also remain alone in last place in the American League East, a place they haven't been this late in a calendar year since Sept. 10, 1997, when they sat in a three-way tie.

"We'll turn it around," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said after Friday's loss. "We'll get on a good streak. We haven't had our good streak yet. That's the good news."

The Red Sox are hoping Saturday's victory could be the start of such a streak. On Sunday, they will turn to left-hander Felix Doubront, hoping he can lead them to a series victory and back to that .500 plateau.

Though Doubront is coming off a rocky performance in taking a loss last Monday against the Rangers, he did lead the Red Sox to their only win over the Yankees prior to Saturday's triumph. The southpaw limited the Yanks to four runs (three earned) off just four hits over 6 1/3 innings en route to a 9-5 victory earlier this month.

The other side of the pitching matchup also could work in Boston's favor, as the Red Sox teed off on Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda the last time they faced him. Kuroda was tagged for seven runs (six earned) off 10 hits in just 5 2/3 innings back on July 6 -- though he took a no-decision as the Yankees went on to win the 10-8 slugfest.

"As a starter, you want to go deeper in the game," Kuroda said through an interpreter after that game, in which the teams both put up five runs in the first inning. "Five innings is not enough as a starter. I got run support in the first inning, but I couldn't hold onto the lead, so I just didn't do my job."

Less than a month later, Kuroda will get his shot at redemption in prime time as he tries to lead the Yanks to their seventh win in nine tries against the Red Sox this season.

Red Sox: Crawford gets mandated rest day
It wasn't discomfort or fatigue that led to Carl Crawford's absence from Saturday's starting lineup.

Instead, it was a plan put in place by the team's medical staff that suggests Crawford should not play more than four days in a row.

Though the Red Sox had an off-day Thursday, manager Bobby Valentine left Crawford out of Saturday's lineup so he could have his outfielder available for the team's next three games, all of which are against right-handed starters.

"I'd like to have Carl every day," said Valentine, who bucked the guideline earlier this month and used Crawford in six consecutive games from July 16-21. "I'd like to have all my good players every day, but I understand the situation better now than I did then."

Crawford, who has a strained ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow and will likely undergo Tommy John surgery after the season, said he prefers to be in the lineup, but he understands the medical staff's concern.

"My understanding is that I got [Saturday] off, and I know the medical people want me to get rest," Crawford said. "I'm not really sure what's the program on it. I guess that's the way it is right now. I came here ready to play, like I always do. I found out [Saturday] morning I wasn't playing.

"That's it, pretty much. Could I play? Yeah, I could play. ... Like I say, they're following that method right there. I'm just going along with the way things are."

Yankees: Girardi being patient with Swisher
Manager Joe Girardi was hoping to plug Nick Swisher back in the lineup Saturday, but the skipper wasn't convinced the outfielder was completely healed from his strained left hip flexor.

Swisher pinch-hit in the ninth inning Saturday, and he was encouraged that his return to game action could lead to a start in the finale.

"I would think so," Swisher said. "I would think if you're able to pinch-hit [after] sitting on the bench for three hours, you're able to DH, at least. We'll come back here tomorrow and see what they say."

Worth noting
  • The Yankees' 159 home runs through their first 100 games are the most in franchise history at that point in the season.
  • Adrian Gonzalez has not struck out in any of his 32 career plate appearances against Kuroda, the most he's had against any pitcher without striking out at least once.
  • Doubront has limited the Yankees to a .180 opponents' batting average, his third-best against any team, in his six games (two starts) against the Bronx Bombers.

Ryan Lochte gets second spot in qualifying for 200-meter freestyle

LONDON — Sun Yang of China and Ryan Lochte of the United States were back in the pool on Sunday as the top two qualifiers in the 200-meter freestyle hours after their gold-medal efforts at the Olympics.

Sun was fastest in 1 minute, 46.24 seconds coming off his victory in the 400 free on Saturday.

"I'll try to do my best, but the 200 freestyle is not my best event," he said. "It's more difficult for me compared to the 400 meters or the 1,500 meters."

Lochte was second at 1:46.45, having won the 400 individual medley on the first night of Olympic swimming.

"I didn't get to bed until like 2 a.m. so I'm a little tired, but it was a prelims swim, so I'm not too worried about it," said Lochte, who was out celebrating with his family.

Yannick Agnel of France was third at 1:46.60. Also advancing was Park Tae-hwan of South Korea, who finished second behind Sun in the 400 IM after initially being disqualified in the prelims and then reinstated. Park was fifth-fastest at 1:46.79.

Among the top 16 moving on to the evening semifinals were Robbie Renwick of Britain (sixth) and Kenrick Monk of Australia (seventh).

Ricky Berens of the U.S. was eighth, competing in an individual Olympic event for the first time. Paul Biedermann of Germany, the world-record holder, was 10th in 1:47.27 after failing to advance out of the 400 free prelims on Saturday.

Australia unleashed its big guns in the 4x100 freestyle relay heats and it paid off with the top time of 3:12.29.

James "The Rocket" Roberts swam second for the Australians, while James "The Missile" Magnussen anchored. Cameron McEvoy and Tommaso D'Orsogna swam the other two legs.

"I felt nice and relaxed the first 50 and I just let the crowd carry me home at the end," Magnussen said.

The U.S. saved its best swimmers for the evening final. Jimmy Feigen, Matt Grevers, Berens and 2008 Olympic relay star Jason Lezak qualified second at 3:12.59.

The Americans are likely to use Nathan Adrian and Cullen Jones, who went 1-2 in the 100 free at the U.S. trials, while Michael Phelps and Lochte are also in the mix to swim the final.

"There's been talk about it, but at the end of the day it's the coaches' decisions," Lochte said. "They're going to put the best four guys they think are ready."

Emily Seebohm of Australia qualified fastest in the 100 backstroke with an Olympic-record time of 58.23 seconds. She lowered the old mark of 58.77 set by Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe four years ago in Beijing.

"I saw that I was ahead of the world record and I was just like, 'Don't get over your head. Just keep going and just go as hard as you can,'" Seebohm said. "All I wanted to do this morning was to make it through. My goal was just to keep moving forward and now maybe the world record in the final, who knows?"

Missy Franklin, the 17-year-old American competing in her first Olympics, was second-quickest in 59.37. She earned a bronze medal as part of the U.S. 4x100 freestyle relay on the first night of swimming Saturday, but was still nervous for her first individual event.

"Oh, my gosh. You can't take any chances here," Franklin said. "You have to get out there and do the best that you can. I know I can do faster than I did in prelims."

Franklin is set to swim seven events in London.

Belinda Hocking of Australia was third in 59.61.

Ten of the 16 women qualifying for the evening semifinals swam under 1 minute.

Rachel Bootsma, the other American teenager in the event, was 11th.

Coventry, the silver medalist in the last two Olympics, barely advanced, grabbing the next-to-last spot in 1:00.24.

"I've been up and down coming into the competition with my knee and then pneumonia, so I'm just excited to be here," Coventry said. "I'm just enjoying my fourth Olympics and I'll see what I can do."

Two-time defending champion Natalie Coughlin didn't qualify for her signature event at the U.S. trials last month.

Defending Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington squeezed into the 400 freestyle final in the eighth and last spot. Carrying the hopes of the host country, Adlington was timed in 4:05.75.

"It felt faster than that but you just don't know being in the first heat," she said. "I had no option, I just had to go for it."

Camille Muffat of France had the top time of 4:03.29, followed by American Allison Schmitt in 4:03.31.

Among those failing to make the final were American Chloe Sutton (10th), and Australians Kylie Palmer (11th) and Bronte Barratt (12th).

Ruta Meilutyte, a 15-year-old from Lithuania, topped the 100 breaststroke prelims in 1:05.56. It was the fastest time in the world this year and eighth-fastest ever in the event.

"I didn't expect it at all," said Meilutyte, who is trying to win her country's first Olympic swimming medal. "I am in shock."

Rebecca Soni, the 2008 silver medalist, was second at 1:05.75.

"It's great to see someone swim faster than they thought they could, to see that joy," Soni said of Meilutyte. "It rubs off on the rest of us too. It inspires me to push a little bit harder."

Yuliya Efimova of Russia, Soni's California training partner, was third at 1:06.51. Breeja Larson of the U.S. was fourth at 1:06.58 in her Olympic debut.

Defending Olympic champion Leisel Jones of Australia moved on in fifth at 1:06.98. Jones has medaled in the event in three previous Olympics.

Unflattering photos of Jones appeared in Australian newspapers before the Olympics and she said the critical comments were hurtful.

"It has really motivated me. I am one of those people you put me under presure and I show what I can do," she said. "I did one of my best sessions ever after reading those comments."

In the men's 100 back, Grevers led the way in 52.92. He's in pursuit of the gold after earning a silver four years ago behind countryman Aaron Peirsol, who retired after winning two Olympic titles in the event.

Feiyi Cheng of China was second at 53.22. Grevers' teammate, Nick Thoman, was third at 53.48.

Among others advancing to the semifinals were Camille Lacourt of France (fourth), Ryosuke Irie of Japan (fifth) and Helge Meeuw of Germany (seventh).

Mets call on Dickey to be stopper vs. D-backs

Not only will R.A. Dickey try to bounce back from just his second loss of the season on Sunday, but the Mets' knuckleballer will also look to act as the stopper during his club's second-half struggles.

The Mets' 6-3 loss to the D-backs on Saturday night marked their 13th loss in 15 games since the All-Star Break. Each of their three runs against Ian Kennedy came on solo homers from first baseman Ike Davis, as Arizona improved to 51-50 on the season.

New York hopes Dickey (13-2, 2.97) pitches more effectively than he did on Tuesday against the Nationals. In that game, which resulted in Dickey's first loss since his third outing of the year on April 18, Dickey allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits over six innings.

"It's tough when things are going on what seems to be a downward spiral," Dickey said after that start.

"In order to change it, we have to stand up and own what's ours to own. I could have pitched better. Two strikes, an 0-2 count with two outs in the sixth inning, and five straight hits. Four runs later, we're in a hole that we can't get out of. I've got to make a pitch. Somewhere during that sequence, I've got to make a pitch."

Taking the mound for Arizona will be southpaw Joe Saunders (5-6, 3.51), who has put together three consecutive quality starts since coming off the disabled list on July 14.

"I like what I've seen so far in his first three starts," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said after Saunders' last outing, a 6-2 win over the Rockies on Tuesday. "I think he's getting stronger and stronger."

"My arm felt great," Saunders said that same night. "I kind of knew when I was warming up that I had good life on my fastball and everything was kind of working in the bullpen, so I was like, 'I can't wait to get this thing started.'"

Mets: Bay staying in the lineup
Despite his season-long struggles, Jason Bay is going to remain in the Mets' lineup, according to manager Terry Collins. "He's going to be in there," Collins said on Saturday. "He's the answer to what we're trying to find, and that's that big right-handed bat. If you sit him down ... he's not going to get better."

Bay went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts on Saturday.

D-backs: Gibson keeping himself informed
With the non-waiver Trade Deadline coming up on Tuesday, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said he's frequently in contact with club executive vice president and general manager Kevin Towers. After Saturday's 6-3 win, Arizona is fifth in the National League Wild Card standings.

"I talked to him a little last night; he's very busy, I know that," Gibson said. "It seems like those guys talk all the time. When he's around me, his phone rings all the time."

Worth Noting
  • Arizona has won 10 of its last 12 home games.
  • With his three-home run performance on Saturday, Davis set a career high with 20 home runs on the season. He has 15 homers since June 12.
  • Mets third baseman David Wright is one home run shy of becoming the third player in franchise history to reach the 200 homers. Darryl Strawberry (252) and Mike Piazza (220) are the other two.

Exclusive: Why Janet Jackson became embroiled in family feud involving Michael's kids

Even the most dysfunctional families have their sane one, and in the famously chaotic Jackson clan, that member has always been Janet.

Until now.

This past week, the family feuded publicly over the late Michael’s estate, with his children taking to Twitter to accuse their Aunt Janet and others of kidnapping their grandmother and legal guardian, Katherine, in order to wrest away control of the King of Pop’s fortune.

At the public memorial service for Michael on July 7, 2009, it was Janet who soothed an emotional Paris, then just 11 years old, as she tearfully remembered her father as “the best daddy,” and it was into Janet’s arms she flew after emotionally collapsing.

Nearly three years to the day, things are quite different. Last Monday, 14-year-old Paris Jackson not only defied her 46-year-old Aunt Janet but also defied the way the Jackson family has traditionally operated: Instead of keeping this latest family feud private, Paris, frantic over her relatives’ refusal to let her speak to her grandma, took to Twitter and declared matriarch Katherine missing.

The national media were quick to go on red alert, and Janet was caught on camera confronting her niece in the driveway of Katherine’s estate.

“You’re a spoiled little bitch!” Janet yelled.

“This is our house,” Paris shot back. “Not the Jackson family house. Get the f--k out!”

On Thursday, Paris’ brother Prince Michael, 15, posted a text message he’d sent to several relatives, including his famous aunt, listed in his iPhone simply as “Janet Jackson.”

“This is enough,” it read, “so I am texting you for the simple fact that WE DEMAND TO SPEAK TO MY GRANDMA NOW!!!”

Janet’s reply was terse: “Don’t let them pls.”

What’s happened to Janet Jackson? How is it that the seemingly calmest, most soft-spoken sibling could be so vicious to her niece and nephews?

Why would a woman who launched her solo career by publicly emancipating herself from her overbearing family — her 1986 breakthrough album was called “Control” — allow herself to become enmeshed in such an ugly family feud? And why would Janet — the only one of 10 Jackson siblings to have a career nearly as successful as Michael’s — allow her image to be tarnished this way?

One Jackson family member tells The Post the answer is simple: It’s all about money. She’s got some; Michael’s estate has more — Billboard recently estimated its net worth at $1 billion — and her siblings have none. She lives in fear of supporting them.

“Janet’s last three tours have failed to sell tickets, and she’s cut each of them short,” the sibling says. “She hasn’t had a hit record in more than a decade, and she no longer has a recording contract.”

This family member says that Janet’s net worth is estimated at $100 million but that “she only has money going out and nothing new coming in.”

Janet hasn’t had a hit song since 2001’s “Someone to Call My Lover,” and the last time she had any cultural relevance was in February 2004, after Justin Timberlake exposed her breast during their Super Bowl performance.

She’s starred in a couple of Tyler Perry films, but lately her brand has been defined by her yo-yo dieting (she’s a spokeswoman for Nutrisystem) and struggles with self-actualization. Her 2011 self-help book, “True You: A Journey to Finding and Loving Yourself,” was a best seller, ironic given that she hasn’t been able to detach fully from her destructive family — especially older brother Randy, whom she is said to worship.

“Janet has nothing to do,” her sibling says. “And she is devoted to any cause Randy takes up.”

It was Randy, says this sibling, who hatched the plan to remove Katherine from the Jackson home, challenge Michael’s will, remove the children from Katherine’s legal custody and ultimately gain control of the estate.

“Randy thought that if they were to publicly show that [Katherine] was no longer capable of caring for the children and no longer able to handle the day-to-day responsibilities of the house, then Randy
could take her position.”

Randy, now 50, enlisted his sister Rebbie, 62, brothers Jermaine, 58, and Tito, 60, and Janet, the sibling says. The coup’s ultimate aim: to overthrow Michael’s estate executors, John Branca and John McClain.

With that, Randy would control the $70,000 monthly allowance Katherine gets from the estate and the $100,000 the children get.

About two weeks ago, Randy pushed the button on the plan.

Four of the Jackson siblings — Jermaine, Tito, Jackie and Marlon — were doing a concert in New Mexico. Randy coordinated with Katherine’s assistant, Janice Smith, to have the 82-year-old matriarch ready for “a long vacation.”

A doctor hired by the siblings was brought in to visit with Katherine and promptly told her she needed rest, the family member says. The siblings kept her isolated from outside contact, busying her with games of Uno while Jermaine issued statements that his mother had suffered a series of strokes and needed rest.

Janet’s relationship with each of her siblings, and her parents, is complicated.

When she was a little girl, she has said, her brothers teased her mercilessly about her weight and her looks, calling her “Slaughter Hog,” “Cow” and “Pig.” Even now, she has said, they still call her “Dunk” — short for “Donkey.”

The teasing got so bad, she said, that she’d bang her head against the wall. She was often left at home while her dad went on tour with her famous brothers in The Jackson 5. She was 6 or 7, she has said, when her father, Joe, told her to never call him “Dad.”

“I will never forget that,” she has said. “I used to hurt so badly that I’d ask God, ‘Why? What have I done to deserve this?’ ”

Janet had no friends and, instead, talked to the family dogs. She was pushed into acting by her parents, and in 1977, when she was 10 years old, Janet was cast on the sitcom “Good Times.” One year later, producers bound her breasts, and her mother was taking her to get colonics.

When Janet was 16, her father got her a record deal, and her first two albums — 1982’s “Janet Jackson” and 1984’s “Dream Street” — were overseen by her father and brothers.

When Janet hit 18, she rebelled, eloping with singer James DeBarge. By 1985, the marriage was over, but it helped Janet escape her parents and siblings.

Janet found Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis — the duo who would produce her blockbuster third album, “Control” — through McClain, an executive at A&M and the man now executing her brother’s will.
One can only wonder what the Janet of 1986 — scared, free, struggling to carve her own persona — would make of today’s Janet, back in league with her tormenters against McClain.

And yet, not all is well with her siblings. Janet has fought viciously with La Toya, Jermaine and Jackie.

In 2001, Janet bought a Las Vegas home for her mother with the stipulation that family patriarch Joe Jackson never be allowed to live there, according to Rebbie Jackson.

“She never forgave Joseph for what he did to us when we were children. She doesn’t deal with him at all,” Rebbie said.

While Janet has helped pay bills for her mother in the past and paid her brother Marlon’s mortgage for a full year and moved him to Atlanta, she has mostly been careful about helping her siblings with their cash problems.

“They need to get jobs if they think I’m going to do what Michael did for them. They are grown-ass men. I’m not giving them nothing,” Janet said, according to this family member.

While Janet’s relationship with Michael appeared close, the siblings were one another’s biggest rivals.

Michael even once asked Janet to stop using her surname when she performed.

It wasn’t until after repeated pleas from Katherine Jackson that Janet went to a Santa Maria, Calif., courthouse to show support for Michael during his child-molestation trial in 2005.

While Janet’s fortune remains stable, she fears for her security should she find herself supporting eight siblings and their families.

While Michael was in hiding in Bahrain following his acquittal, Janet started paying Katherine’s bills and giving her siblings money. But she has begun to cut them off.

Randy and Jermaine, who have children by the same woman, had previously requested that the estate pay their back child support, something Branca ultimately approved. Randy once owed as much as $150,000 to his ex.

Since Michael’s death in 2009, Branca and McClain have worked miracles to alleviate the $500 million debt left by the legend. The estate owns a share in Sony/ATV music publishing, which contains all of Jackson’s hits and the prized Beatles catalog. It is said to be worth upward of $2 billion.

The bulk of it will go to Jackson’s three children: Paris, Prince Michael and 10-year-old Blanket.

If Janet doesn’t support her brothers, the estate could.

“It is a fact that the primary reason Janet got involved in Randy’s plan,” says a sibling, “is because she wants to see her brothers control Michael’s money so they won’t come to her anymore.”

After Prince tweeted that his late father had warned him about “certain people,” the family member said one of those people was Janet. Often calling her “evil, selfish and cheap,” Michael warned his children that Janet wouldn’t be the best of aunts.

Last week, California Judge Mitchell Beckloff appointed Tito’s son, TJ Jackson, guardian of Prince, Paris and Blanket.

TJ’s mother, Dee Dee Jackson, was murdered in 1994 by a man she’d begun dating after divorcing Tito. Michael took TJ and TJ’s two brothers under his wing. He was part of the Michael Jackson-inspired music group 3T.

As such, TJ is inclined to take the side of Jackson’s kids in disputes and said either Rebbie or Janet had a fake doctor persuade Katherine to leave California.

“I am taking actions that I have deemed appropriate to protect Michael’s children,” TJ said in court.

Janet, it’s clear, will no longer be a part of their lives, and this thwarted plan has eroded her power.

The three children have been reunited with their grandmother and have vowed to stay as far as possible from their aunts and uncles. Janet’s efforts to give her brothers a financial parachute has backfired.

“[The children] will probably never let this go,” says one sibling. “They certainly won’t forget it. And the ones the family members tried to paint as bad guys are the very ones those children will always see as protectors.”

Taken from the New York Post

Kennedy shuts down Mets not named Ike in win (Saturday night's game)

PHOENIX -- It's not often a starting pitcher serves up three home runs to one player and manages to last into the seventh inning.

It's even rarer when that pitcher ends up earning a win.

Ian Kennedy allowed three solo home runs to Ike Davis but nothing else, as the D-backs picked up their seventh victory in their last nine games on Saturday by defeating the Mets, 6-3, at Chase Field.

"I wish I could've erased (Davis) out of the lineup, that would've made it a lot better, but we won, that's the important thing," Kennedy said. "I threw everything at him, but it didn't make a difference. I can at least laugh at it now."

Davis, a Scottsdale Chaparral High School graduate and former Arizona State standout, became the seventh player this season to hit three homers in one game.

Meanwhile, Kennedy became the first pitcher in one of those games on the opposite side of the homers to earn a victory. The other six pitchers who started a game in which an opponent blasted three homers combined for a 10.87 ERA and an 0-5 record.

"It's bittersweet for sure," Davis said. "It's always good to feel good at the plate, but my ultimate goal is to win the game, and we didn't. I take it as a positive moving forward, but obviously you'd like to win."

Kennedy ended up tossing 6 1/3 innings, allowing three earned runs on seven hits while striking out nine to pick up his ninth win of the season.

Since the Cubs lit him up for six runs on July 13, Kennedy has won three straight starts.

"My command has been better," the 27-year-old said. "Being ahead of guys, it makes a big difference. I watched things on film and tried to think of drills we did in the past. It was getting frustrating, but it's working out now."

Gerardo Parra led the D-backs' offense with three hits, driving in two runs and scoring once.

"Parra gets discouraged when he doesn't play, but he always tells me he's ready," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "He's got a great attitude. He's an aggressive guy and he's come a long way in all aspects of his game."

Just two batters into the bottom of the first inning, the D-backs took their first lead of the night when Aaron Hill gapped an RBI double to left-center field off Mets starter Chris Young, plating Parra, who led off with a shallow single.

After the Mets tied the game in the top half of the second on Davis' first homer, Ryan Wheeler answered back in the bottom of the frame with a double to center field, scoring Miguel Montero and giving the rookie his first Major League RBI.

Each starting pitcher put a zero on the scoreboard in the third, but in the fourth inning, Kennedy and Young both fell victim to the long ball.

Davis, who entered Saturday 0-for-4 in his career against the D-backs' ace, beat Kennedy for his second homer of the night off the center-field wall to pull the Mets to within one run.

But in the bottom of the inning, after Upton led off with a single, Montero smacked a towering two-run shot to right field, extending the D-backs' advantage to 5-2. Parra provided another insurance run with his third single of the game four batters later, driving in Wheeler.

In the sixth inning, Davis capped his night with his fourth long ball in two days, this time off a curveball from Kennedy.

"It's almost jaw dropping," Kennedy said. "I've never given up three to the same guy. He made SportsCenter, so there."

Takashi Saito, David Hernandez and J.J. Putz each pitched in scoreless appearances to close the night out and run the D-backs' bullpen scoreless streak to 13 2/3 innings.

The game, however, got tense at times for Hernandez and Putz, who both allowed the first two baserunners to reach base before retiring the side.

"I looked up and I had thrown 15 pitches without getting an out and I knew it would be a long night," Hernandez said. "Luckily, I just made pitches. I feel like as you mature, you learn how to react and adjust on the fly in situations."

Ike blasts three solo shots in loss to D-backs (Saturday night's game)

PHOENIX -- The final score of Saturday's game was D-backs 6, Mets 3, though it might as well have been D-backs 6, Ike Davis 3. The surging first baseman hit three solo home runs at Chase Field, including two massive shots that caromed off the batter's eye in straightaway center. But starting pitcher Chris Young faltered and the rest of the Mets could not rally around him, instead sinking to their 14th loss in 16 games.

"It's bittersweet for sure," Davis said. "It's always good to feel good at the plate, but my ultimate goal is to win the game and we didn't. I take it as a positive moving forward, but obviously you'd like to win."

The Mets were already trailing by a run when Davis hit the first of his three homers off D-backs starter Ian Kennedy, clearing the 25-foot home run line painted on the batter's eye in center field during the second inning. Two innings later, Davis hit a second homer to nearly the same spot. Then he hooked his third blast around the right-field foul pole to lead off the sixth, setting a new career high with 20 on the season.

On the day the Mets and D-backs honored Davis' childhood friend Mike Lio, who died in 2009 at age 22 following a battle with Ewing's Sarcoma, Davis recorded the ninth three-homer game in franchise history and the first since Carlos Beltran hit three against the Rockies last season. The three home runs traveled an estimated 435, 445 and 394 feet, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

"I wish I could've erased him out of the lineup," Kennedy said. ""I threw everything at him. In the third at-bat, I made a joke because I hung a curveball and said, 'At least I tried something different.' It didn't make a difference."

But it was not enough. Coming off his best start of the season, Young was shaky from the start, serving up Aaron Hill's RBI double in the first inning, Ryan Wheeler's run-scoring double an inning later and Gerardo Parra's RBI single with two outs in the second. Miguel Montero then added a two-run homer in the fourth inning and Parra tacked on another two-out RBI hit.

The six runs were the most Young has allowed in a game in more than three years, spanning two dozen starts.

"It was just too inconsistent," Young said of his outing. "Physically, I felt good. That's what's disappointing, is I felt better than the way I pitched. But that's part of it. I'll keep working and hopefully I'll be better in five days."

Bidding to become the 17th player in history to hit four home runs in a game, Davis instead singled in his final at-bat in the eighth. A batter later, Daniel Murphy nearly tied things with a deep fly ball to center, which went for a long out. Then, with runners on the corners in a three-run game, Jason Bay and Kirk Nieuwenhuis both struck out to squelch the Mets' first sustained rally. Though they put two more runners on base with one out in the ninth, Scott Hairston and David Wright whiffed as well, stranding Davis in the on-deck circle.

As a team, the Mets struck out 15 times in 39 plate appearances. Bay finished 0-for-4 with two whiffs, running his personal slump to 0-for-19. Nieuwenhuis was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, extending his own funk to 0-for-11.

In other words, those two were the polar opposites of Davis. With respect to Wright, a superior overall hitter, and Murphy, a better contact hitter, Davis has been the Mets' most prolific slugger over the last seven weeks. Batting .158 on the afternoon of June 9, Davis has since hit .290 with 15 home runs, tied for second-most in the Majors over that span behind Arizona's Jason Kubel and Minnesota's Josh Willingham.

"It's still not where I want to be, but it's definitely getting better," Davis said. "I'll just go on that."

If nothing else, he now appears fully recovered from the ankle injury that destructed most of his 2011 season, the Valley Fever scare that monopolized his Spring Training and the massive slump that undermined his first nine weeks of this season.

And yet the Mets have not been able to take advantage. Though Davis leads the Majors with eight home runs since the All-Star break, his team has won just twice in that time.

"Tremendous night for Ike," manager Terry Collins said. "Huge night for him. We didn't give him any help."

Mayor Bloomberg pushing NYC hospitals to hide baby formula so more new moms will breast-feed

The nanny state is going after moms.

Mayor Bloomberg is pushing hospitals to hide their baby formula behind locked doors so more new mothers will breast-feed.

Starting Sept. 3, the city will keep tabs on the number of bottles that participating hospitals stock and use — the most restrictive pro-breast-milk program in the nation.

Under the city Health Department’s voluntary Latch On NYC initiative, 27 of the city’s 40 hospitals have also agreed to give up swag bags sporting formula-company logos, toss out formula-branded tchotchkes like lanyards and mugs, and document a medical reason for every bottle that a newborn receives.

While breast-feeding activists applaud the move, bottle-feeding moms are bristling at the latest lactation lecture.

“If they put pressure on me, I would get annoyed,” said Lynn Sidnam, a Staten Island mother of two formula-fed girls, ages 4 months and 9 years. “It’s for me to choose.”

Under Latch On NYC, new mothers who want formula won’t be denied it, but hospitals will keep infant formula in out-of-the-way secure storerooms or in locked boxes like those used to dispense and track medications.

With each bottle a mother requests and receives, she’ll also get a talking-to. Staffers will explain why she should offer the breast instead.

“It’s the patient’s choice,” said Allison Walsh, of Beth Israel Medical Center. “But it’s our job to
educate them on the best option.”

Lisa Paladino, of Staten Island University Hospital, said: “The key to getting more moms to breast-feed is making the formula less accessible. This way, the RN has to sign out the formula like any other medication. The nurse’s aide can’t just go grab another bottle.”

Some of the hospitals already operate under the formula lockdown.

“New York City is definitely ahead of the curve,” said Eileen DiFrisco, of NYU Langone Medical Center, where the breast-feeding rate has surged from 39 to 68 percent under the program.

Breast-feeding in the first weeks gives a baby a critical healthy start, many medical experts say. It helps the digestive system develop and protects the baby with the mother’s immunities. Nursing also helps the mother recover from childbirth.

But not everyone is convinced.

“They make formula for a reason, and the FDA makes sure it’s safe,” said Roxanne Schmidt, whose 14-month-old twins were fed with formula from birth. “Locking it up is just wrong.”

Ninth-inning miscue spoils Yankees' comeback (Saturday night's game)

NEW YORK -- Curtis Granderson's first instinct was to break in from his shallow post in center field, believing that Pedro Ciriaco's drive had little power behind it. As Granderson twisted and turned to retreat, he quickly realized he was in trouble.

Granderson landed in a heap on the wet outfield grass as Ciriaco's ninth-inning ball found safe haven for a go-ahead triple, counting for the decisive blow as the Yankees were dealt a heartbreaking 8-6 defeat by the Red Sox on Saturday at Yankee Stadium.

"You're going to make some mistakes out there," Granderson said. "That was one I didn't get the best read on. The great thing about this game is you get the opportunity to go back out there tomorrow."

Granderson's misplay came with one out and a runner on first, as Ciriaco knocked in Jacoby Ellsbury while facing losing pitcher Rafael Soriano. Dustin Pedroia added a sacrifice fly as insurance for Alfredo Aceves, who recorded the last three outs for his 22nd save.

"It just shows that's part of the game," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Sometimes players are going to have the wrong reads on balls. It's going to happen over the course of the season, and it won't be the last one, I'm sure. It's unfortunate that it happened at that time."

The crushing emotional swing came after Mark Teixeira had tied the game an inning earlier with a long two-run homer off Vicente Padilla, dropping his bat and trotting to admire the blast -- atypical behavior for Teixeira and just the latest chapter in the tense history between the former teammates.

"It felt good. I just wanted to make sure it was fair," Teixeira said, offering tongue-in-cheek analysis. "The ball's been hooking a lot tonight. Curtis hit a few that hooked. I didn't want to waste a lot of energy running out of the box, and if that ball goes foul, it's been a long day. But it felt good."

Padilla entered to protect a two-run lead in the eighth and permitted a pinch-hit single to Raul Ibanez, then struck out the next two batters -- including Granderson, who was just a few ticks away from playing the hero instead of the goat.

Not once but twice, Granderson threatened to launch the game-tying homer in the eighth off Padilla, only to watch both drives hook foul down the right-field line.

"I thought both of them had a shot, but right away, it was just a matter of if it was going to stay fair or not," Granderson said. "It didn't get a chance to do that."

Teixeira made the most of his opportunity. After staring at a 51-mph eephus pitch down the middle for strike one, he then swatted Padilla's 96-mph fastball over the wall in right-center field -- which is still situated nowhere near the foul pole, by the way.

"I'm just trying to tie the game up there. That's the biggest thing," Teixeira said. "It'd been a hard-fought game, and when you have a chance to tie it with one swing late in the game, you just don't want to miss your pitch."

Earlier this month at Fenway, Teixeira spoke openly of his disdain for Padilla's reputation for throwing at opposing hitters. Padilla responded with a barrage of insults and accusations about Teixeira, with whom he shared a clubhouse on the Rangers.

"There's some bad blood," Girardi said. "He's hit him a bunch of times. Tex hit a big home run for us at the time, but you move on to the next day. I don't get caught up in that."

Teixeira's homer took CC Sabathia off the hook for a decision after the left-hander continued his recent history of troubles with the Red Sox's lineup, slammed for six runs and eight hits over six underwhelming innings.

"It's tough, not being able to go out and pitch the way you want, especially against a team in your division," Sabathia said. "We won the first game last night and I wanted to come out and have a good performance, but it didn't happen tonight."

Sabathia served up three first-inning runs, plus a fifth-inning Adrian Gonzalez homer that opened up a five-run Boston advantage at the time.

The Red Sox came out swinging following a rain delay of two hours and four minutes, as Sabathia
allowed three straight one-out hits, including Gonzalez's RBI double to right field. Will Middlebrooks cashed in two more runs with a loud double to left-center.

In the fifth, Sabathia had two outs and none on before the inning unraveled. Ciriaco singled and stole second, and Sabathia lost Dustin Pedroia to a full-count walk before Gonzalez put his 10th homer of the season in the right-field seats for three runs.

"I think they are just being patient," Sabathia said. "They're fouling off some good pitches. It's just a case of me not making good pitches and them having good at-bats."

The Yankees notched four runs in six innings off Jon Lester, including a three-run fifth that featured Jayson Nix's two-run homer. Chris Stewart also homered off Lester, clearing the wall in the third inning for a solo shot.

"Jon had what we needed," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. "That's what we were looking for."

New York's loudest homer was, of course, Teixeira's -- and it hurt the Yankees most that they couldn't power a victory on what could have been a memorable evening.

"The place felt like it was shaking," Teixeira said. "I was just happy to do that for the fans to hopefully help us win a game. It didn't work out that way, but at the time it was a big hit."

Fortune smiles on Sox in win over Yankees (Saturday night's game)

NEW YORK -- A day after Dustin Pedroia all but demanded that his team improve its level of play, the Red Sox hung on for dear life and somehow pulled out an 8-6 victory over the Yankees on Saturday.

After blowing an early five-run lead -- the remains of which disappeared on Mark Teixeira's two-run homer off Vicente Padilla with two outs in the bottom of the eighth -- Boston pulled back ahead in the top of the ninth.

And if you want the truth, there was a little good fortune involved.

Jacoby Ellsbury started the winning rally off Yankees closer Rafael Soriano with a one-out walk.

Pedro Ciriaco came through with the big hit, an RBI triple to center that Curtis Granderson -- normally an above-average fielder -- stumbled while trying to catch.

"Yeah, we were good tonight, and we were lucky," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. "On Pedro's ball, he hit that ball, a knuckleball and hit it 380 feet. That's tough to catch. He's pretty hot right now, so I'd say he was good and we were lucky."

It was the third hit of the day for Ciriaco.

"I broke in for it first. I didn't think it was hit as hard as it was. By the time I tried to go back on it, I couldn't seem to get enough speed going to get back to it," said Granderson.

Pedroia provided some insurance with a sacrifice fly.

"I thought we did a good job," Pedroia said. "It was a great win. We did some little things that were a big part of the ballgame. We played well. We've got to build on it and keep going."

At least for a day, manager Valentine's team righted itself. And if the team is going to go on the prolonged streak that Valentine projected Friday, it has to start somewhere.

The Red Sox are 50-51, 10 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the American League East and 5 1/2 off the pace in the Wild Card standings.

"This is a good team," Valentine said. "It's a good group of guys who believe that they're going to get on a run. It was great. It was great to win the game after getting tied in the eighth, that's for sure."

While Red Sox lefty Jon Lester didn't turn in a spectacular start, it was mostly a solid effort, and a big improvement from his last outing, when he was shelled for a career-high of 11 earned runs. He was forced to wait two hours, four minutes when rain delayed first pitch on Saturday.
However, Lester was left with a no-decision, leaving him winless in his last five starts.

"I'm real, real pleased with how I threw the ball," Lester said. "The biggest thing is we needed that game. Guys came back and kept fighting. That was big for us."

With Padilla on in relief in the eighth, pinch-hitter Raul Ibanez lined a single to right. Granderson hit two consecutive foul balls down the right-field line that just missed being home runs before striking out.

But Teixeira got the home run the Yankees needed, a two-run equalizer to right-center that sent the home crowd into a frenzy. It was also a home run that had a subplot, as Padilla and Teixeira have been vocal in recent weeks about their dislike for each other.

"It felt good," Teixeira said. "I just wanted to make sure it was fair. Balls have been hooking a lot tonight. Curtis hit a few that hooked, so I didn't want to waste a lot of energy running out of the box if that ball goes foul. It's been a long day. But it felt good."

With the offense struggling to score runs on this road trip without star slugger David Ortiz, Adrian Gonzalez took charge for Boston in this one.

The left-handed hitter smoked an RBI double and a three-run homer against Yankees ace CC Sabathia, giving the recently-struggling Lester some breathing room.

"Gonzo was really ready to play today," said Valentine. "He was determined, as was Pedey, as was this whole team. He swung the bat great tonight."

The Red Sox broke out quickly in this one. Ciriaco got things started in the first with a one-out single to right. Pedroia followed with a single to right. Up stepped Gonzalez, and he punched an RBI double to right. Will Middlebrooks gave Boston another big extra-base hit, walloping a two-out, two-run double to center that gave Lester a 3-0 lead before he even threw a pitch.

Lester was magnificent early, retiring the first eight batters he faced. Chris Stewart did tag the lefty for a solo homer with two outs in the third.

In the fifth, the top part of the order again sparked the Red Sox. Ciriaco produced the first hit, a two-out single to right. Pedroia walked. Again, it was Gonzalez coming through, this time with a three-run homer to right that gave Boston a commanding 6-1 lead.

"I was able to get to a fastball the first at-bat and hit the double, and then the home run," Gonzalez said. "A 320-foot popup in the gap that gets out. It's all Yankee Stadium. I'm just glad we're playing here and not Fenway."

But that shot by Gonzalez proved not to be enough. Lester opened the bottom of the fifth by walking Andruw Jones. Then he gave up a two-run homer to right to Jayson Nix, and New York was back in striking distance at 6-3. Russell Martin followed with a walk and Ichiro Suzuki singled. With one out, Derek Jeter made it a two-run game with a fielder's choice grounder.

On a day momentum swung wildly, the Red Sox did what they set out to accomplish.

"We need to win games," Ciriaco said. "Everything is about winning here. We try hard today and get a win, and that's a big win for us."

Team USA crushes France in men's basketball at Olympics

LONDON – Team USA got off to as sweet an Olympic start as a good French pastry as the heavily favored Americans broke free after a tight first quarter to pummel France, 98-71, at the packed basketball venue in Olympic Park.

France kept it real close for the first quarter as a Yannick Bokolo 3-pointer at the buzzer sliced Team USA’s lead to 22-21.

Mike Krzyzewski’s crew had enough of that and broke out on a 11-0 run to start the second quarter, ignited by a LeBron James 3-pointer. Kobe Bryant followed with a 3-pointer and the French were reeling and trailing 33-21 with 7:46 left in the half.

Kevin Durant finished with 22 points and nine rebounds, LeBron James added 9 points with 8 assists and starting center Tyson Chandler had an active game with 8 points and 9 rebounds.

First Lady Michelle Obama attended the game and received hugs from the American players after the blowout victory.

"For her to be sitting there, while we're out there competing, not just for us, but for our country, for her to be there, we gave her a hug to thank her for coming,'' Carmelo Anthony said. "And she thanked us for going out there and doing what we're doing for America."

USA will face lightly regarded Tunisia in its next contest Tuesday.

Point guard Tony Parker, who scored 10 points while wearing protective goggles because of a bottle-throwing incident at a New York nightclub that caused him to have eye surgery, had dazzled early to keep the French in it, but the team didn’t have the depth to compete for four quarters.

Team USA took a 52-36 lead into halftime after a final-minute two-handed slam dunk by James that lit up the split crowd. The American fans chanted “USA’’ moments before the opening tip and again even louder with 2:08 left in the half with the team up 16.

Durant led the team in scoring with 15 first-half points, getting out on the fastbreak frequently. Team USA moved the ball with aplomb. James had 5 assists as USA racked up 14 dishes to France’s 3 in the
first half.

Team USA took a 78-51 lead into the fourth quarter after an active Kevin Love ripped down an offensive rebound with one hand and scored.

Anthony came off the bench and swished his first attempt – an 18-foot jumper. He also scored in the first quarter but got into foul trouble – picking up his third with 6:20 left in the half after grabbing Boris Diaw. That sent Anthony to the bench with 5 first-half points. He finished the game with 9 points and 9 rebounds.

"The first half, France did what they had to do,'' Anthony said. "They slowed up the game. We know everyone's expecting us to win by 20, 30 points but at the end of the day, a win is a win.''

"We didn't play a perfect game,'' James said. "We still have room for improvement.''

Knicks coach Mike Woodson was in attendance with his family as he takes a European vacation.

The new arena, which holds 12,000 people, was jammed. Fans waited outside in pouring rain for a half-hour in long lines before being let into the structure at Olympic Park.

Knicks center Chandler scored the first points of the Olympics for USA. He converted an alley-oop lob from James to easily score over the prone ex-Knicks center Ronny Turiaf and was fouled.

Chandler was active early on offense and had six points in the opening minutes. In the opening minute of the third, Chandler ripped down an offensive rebound and fed it back to Durant, who drained a 3-pointer. An ensuing Chandler dunk put the Americans up 22 points, 60-38.

Nets point guard Deron Williams had a handful of nifty assists, feeding James on an alley-oop dunk and making a touch, behind the back pass to Durant on a fastbreak.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

US loses Olympic gold to Italy in team archery

LONDON — On the final arrow, the U.S. lost Olympic gold in men's team archery.

No matter — the Americans were still thrilled to win the first U.S. medal at the London Games.

Italy topped the trio of Brady Ellison, Jacob Wukie and Jake Kaminski by one point on Saturday for the team gold, while South Korea took the bronze.

"I wasn't disappointed that we got a silver. I was, on the inside, very, very ecstatic that we became Olympic medalists," Ellison said. "The more it's around my neck, I mean, this thing has some weight to it. It sets in. We are Olympic medalists — and it doesn't matter the color."

Michele Frangilli, Marco Galiazzo and Mauro Nespoli hugged and raised their hands in celebration after the final arrow from Frangilli beat the Americans 219-218 at Lord's Cricket Ground. The gold was Italy's first ever in the event.

Frangilli, who was part of a team bronze in 1996 and won silver in Sydney four years later, called the final a "very hard fought" match.

"I have been chasing this medal for 16 years," he said through a translator.

"With the last arrow that hit, I think it was my dream. I think it was my biggest contribution."

The Americans said that even though they still have individual competition remaining, they came to
London focused on the team competition, simply because they thought sharing in the experience of winning a medal would be more powerful to the group than taking one individually.

"We've worked so hard prior to this to build a strong team and to train as a team," Wukie said. "And so, obviously, it paid off."

And the significance of being the first American medalists at the 2012 Games was not lost on them.

"If that's all we're known for for the rest of our lives ... I think we'll all be pretty proud of that," Ellison said.

Toward the end of the gripping final, Frangilli said he heard the crowd noise after Galiazzo scored an eight on his last shot. When Frangilli stepped up for his final shot there was "incredible pressure" and he tried to "empty his head a little bit," knowing he needed a 10 for the victory.

"I really tried to find the right technique, and I knew I hit the golden area," he said. "When I heard 10, I was obviously very, very happy."

In their victory over South Korea in the semifinal, the Americans started slowly but were able to come back, 224-219. Not the case against the Italians. The Americans pulled within 165-163 at the end of the third round.

"For some reason it's just kind of something we've been doing lately," Ellison said, referring to recent slow starts, adding that three of the Americans' arrows missed a 10-score by a quarter inch.

Italy beat Mexico 217-215 to make the final. The top-ranked South Koreans beat Mexico 224-219 for their bronze after falling to the Americans by five points in the semifinals. South Korea was led by Im Dong-hyun, the visually impaired archer who set the first world record of the games Friday, breaking his own mark in the 72-arrow event and helping to set a team record in the opening round.

One thing that surprised the Americans: Yes, those Olympic medals have some heft. Ellison quipped that he "could do a workout with this thing," as his teammates looked down at the medals dangling from their necks.

And apparently they'll all keep them in the same place: Their respective sock drawers.

"It's not all that life is about," Kaminski said. "It's something that I'm going to keep close to me. And I don't need to shout about it."

Mets' Young looks to keep CY and Co. at bay

When Mets starter Chris Young looks at the scouting report for his Saturday date with the D-backs, one of the names he'll be told to watch out for should be pretty familiar to him.

That name will be Chris Young, D-backs outfielder, who has been one of the hottest hitters on the Arizona roster since the All-Star break, though he's had little success against the Mets' hurler. None, in fact. The man known to D-backs faithful as "CY" is 0-for-16 in his career against the New York righty.

But even if that history holds, Young -- the Mets' Young, that is -- will have his work cut out for him facing a red-hot Justin Upton, who is hitting .400 against the righty in 10 career at-bats. Shortstop Stephen Drew has also had success against Young, going 4-for-13 with two doubles and four walks against his former division rival (Young pitched for the Padres in 2011).
Then there's Jason Kubel, who may not have much history with Young, but he is certainly making his own. Kubel's strong 2012 campaign has seen him become just the fifth player in Arizona franchise history to reach 20 home runs and 70 RBIs by July 26.
Young will hope to build off his last start, a seven-inning, two-run effort that proved futile in what became an 8-2 loss to the Nationals.
"It's a good outing, but it's not good enough," Young said. "I'll keep building on it. I hope to get stronger as the season progresses."
Also getting stronger as the season progresses is Saturday's starter for the D-backs, Ian Kennedy, who is slowly starting to round into 2011 form after a shaky start to the season. The righty is 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA with no walks and 14 strikeouts in his last two outings.
"It's not going to happen every time, but it's just good to see him throw back-to-back games with consistency," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said after Kennedy's most recent start. "Again, he mixed his pitches up, had much better location tonight."
As Kennedy makes his 100th career appearance, the name in the scouting report that should stick out to him -- and pretty much any pitcher facing the Mets -- is David Wright, who owns a .500 career average against Kennedy. He also happens to be among the Major Leagues' top 10 in on-base percentage, batting average and runs scored.

D-backs: Montero making history
Miguel Montero set a franchise record when he caught his 538th game Wednesday. After extending that record to 539 games Thursday, Montero got a well-earned day off Friday to preserve him down the stretch, as his 716 1/3 innings caught are tops in the Majors.

Montero has thrown out 27 would-be basestealers, second only to the Phillies' Carlos Ruiz. His 39.2 caught-stealing percentage is the Majors' best.

Mets: Hairston heating up
Though he wasn't in the starting lineup for Friday night's game, Scott Hairston has been on fire of late, hitting .375 (6-for-16) since July 20. Hairston is particularly productive against lefties, as he is hitting .308 (37-for-120) with nine home runs -- second in the Majors against lefties.

Hairston's name has popped up in numerous rumors with the approach of Tuesday's Trade Deadline, and it's no wonder, as he is fearless at the plate. with six of his 12 homers this year having come on two strikes.

Worth noting
  • According to STATS LLC, Kubel had more home runs at home (17) than the entire roster of the National League West rival San Francisco Giants (16). The D-backs are 5 1/2 games behind the first-place Giants.  

Ryan Lochte wins gold in 400 IM; Phelps finishes fourth

LONDON — Ryan Lochte turned his much-anticipated duel with Michael Phelps into a blowout, pulling away to win the Olympic 400-meter individual medley by more than 3 seconds Saturday night. Even more stunning: Phelps didn't win any medal at all.

After barely qualifying for the evening final in a performance that hinted at trouble ahead, Phelps struggled to a fourth-place finish and was denied his 17th career Olympic medal. When it was done, he could barely pull himself out of the pool.

"It was just a crappy race," Phelps said. "I felt fine the first 200, then I don't know. They just swam a better race than me, a smarter race than me, and were better prepared than me. That's why they're on the medal stand."

Brazil's Thiago Pereira took the silver, and Japan's Kosuke Hagino claimed the bronze — beating Phelps by a fairly comfortable 34-hundredths of a second for the last spot on the podium.

It was the first time since the 2000 Sydney Games, when Phelps was a 15-year-old unknown who qualified in just one event, that he didn't win at least a bronze in an Olympic race. Since then, he was 16-of-16 — 14 golds and two bronzes.

Lochte climbed out of the pool with a big smile, waving to the crowd and looking about a fresh as he did at the start. He had predicted this would be his year and, for the first race at least, he was right on the mark.

"I think I'm kind of in shock right now," he said. As for Phelps, "I know he gave it everything he had. That's all you can ask for."

Phelps was trying to become the first male swimmer to win the same individual event at three straight Olympics. He'll have three more chances at a threepeat before he's done in London, having also won the 200 individual medley, plus the 100 and 200 butterfly, at Athens and Beijing.

But this was shocking, totally out of character for a swimmer who won six gold medals in Athens, then a record eight in Beijing to break Mark Spitz's Olympic record.

Phelps fell behind right from the start in the butterfly, his trademark stroke. From there, it was all Lochte. He stretched his margin in the backstroke and breaststroke, then cruised to the gold in the freestyle, a good three body lengths ahead of the rest of the field.

"It's frustrating, that's all I can say. It's pretty upsetting," Phelps said. "The biggest thing now is to try to look forward. I have a bunch of other races, and hopefully we can finish a lot better than how we

Phelps' close call in the morning prelims put him in an already uncustomary position — swimming on the outside in the No. 8 lane. He only had one swimmer next to him and no idea what Lochte and the others in the middle of the pool were doing.

Not that it would have mattered.

"I don't think the lane had anything to do with it," Phelps said. "I just couldn't really put myself in a good spot for that race. It's frustrating for sure. ... It's just really frustrating to start off on a bad note like this.

"I was lucky to get in," he added, referring to his slow time in the morning. "I had a chance to put myself in a spot to start off on a good note and didn't do it."

Lochte gave the Americans their first gold medal of the London Games and put himself in position to fulfill the promise he showed at last year's world championships, where he won five golds and beat Phelps in their two head-to-head meetings.

The friendly rivals have one more showdown in London, in the 200 individual medley. Phelps edged Lochte in that race during the U.S. Olympics trials, but Lochte appears to be on top of his game when it really counts.

About a half-hour after the race, the laid-back Floridian returned to the medal podium to receive the fourth gold medal of his career.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

26 firefighters hurt, 1 seriously in six-alarm Brooklyn fire

Authorities say 26 firefighters were hurt, one seriously, during a 6-alarm blaze at a Brooklyn apartment building.

One civilian also was treated at the scene of Thursday's fire in the Flatbush neighborhood.

The cause is under investigation. However, there was a report of a lightning strike just blocks from there, around the same time.

The FDNY says the fire started at about 10 a.m. on the top floor of the seven-story building.

Hundreds of firefighters responded. Hours later, orange flames and dark, billowing smoke were still visible.

The Red Cross was at the scene to help any displaced residents.

Con Ed reaches contract with union ahead of major storm

Con Ed has and its locked out workers reached a long-term deal today, ending their labor stalemate in the nick time as New Yorkers brace for a major storm this afternoon and evening.

The tentative contract means 8,000 previously locked-out employees can get back to work as the region prepares for heavy rains and high winds.

“The storm changed the tone,” Gov. Cuomo said labor talks. “It was a good deal, I believe for both sides.”

Announcement of the labor pact came hours after Cuomo brokered a temporary deal that brought 3,000 workers back on the job for the storm and post-storm restoration work..

But under that loose pact, there was no guarantee the lockout wouldn’t begin again.

“That potential danger has been averted,” Cuomo said. “The workers will come back immediately because what is paramount is the safety of New Yorkers.”

The utility giant locked its unionized employees on June 30 after their contract expired and negotiations failed to reach a new deal.

About 5,000 managers and replacement workers have kept the power going for 3.2 million customers in New York City and Westchester County.

“I’m glad we were able to reach this agreement,” said Michael Langford, national president of the Utility Workers Union of America.

“That is our No. 1 goal., our No. 1 priority is to make sure everybody has reliable, safe electricity, gas and water. That is our no. 1 priority.”

Con Ed CEO Kevin Burke vowed to keep the lights on through today’s storm.

“Con Edison and the unionized employees have been dedicated for years to try to provide the best service they can to New Yorkers,” he said.

“We have a storm coming. We always want to provide the best service. I’m glad to hear that the really skilled and dedicated employees … are going to come back and make sure people get the service that they expect, get the lights back on.”

Katherine Jackson back home, reuniting with her grandchildren

Katherine Jackson is home -- but the circumstances over how she became “missing” for nearly 11 days is still a mystery.

Michael Jackson’s daughter Paris Jackson tweeted early this morning: "grandma's here! #thankyougod." Jackson's son Marlon also posted a note on Twitter saying his mother had returned, adding she looked and sound great.

The family matriarch’s apparent arrival back home in Calabasas, Calif., came after a Los Angeles judge temporarily stripped her of guardianship of The Glove One’s three kids.

MJ’s kids — Paris, Prince and Blanket — are now under the legal care of 34-year-old Tito Joe “TJ” Jackson, son of Tito Jackson. He went to court yesterday and said Katherine sounded odd in a phone conversation, using unusual words and slurring her speech.

Then late last night, Katherine delivered a weird televised message, declaring that she’s been staying at a Tucson, Ariz. spa, and any hints that she’s been held against her will was a “bunch of lies.”

Katherine read from a prepared statement, surrounded by kids Jermaine, Janet and Rebbie, Rebbie’s adult daughter and the spa’s marketing director.

“There are rumors going around about me that I’ve been kidnapped and held against my will,” she read.

“I’m here today to tell everyone now that I’m fine and I’m here with my children and my children would never do a thing like that hold against me against my will. It’s very stupid of people to think that.”

Katherine made the statement to ABC’s “Nightline.” A reporter at the event was not allowed to ask any questions, and kids occasionally had to help Katherine by pointing to where she was in the script.

The matriarch took off earlier this month without telling her grandkids, prompting her nephew Trent to call cops and report her missing. Paris took to Twitter and demanded that her “missing” grandmom be returned home.

Katherine’s strange, impromptu trip coincidentally came at the same time several of her kids sought to overturn Michael Jackson’s will.

MJ’s siblings, led by Jermaine and Randy, insist the document is fake and they want estate executors to step down.

The King of Pop’s three kids and Katherine had been opposed to the scheme, because they’re well cared for under terms of the will, family sources said.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff made a vague, ominous remark in court, that “intentional acts of third parties” were impeding Katherine to act as guardian.

Katherine, speaking off her script, said she should be returned as guardian: “The ruling in court today was about the guardianship and I think it was based on a bunch of lies, but I have a good idea of who’s
doing that, who’s behind it.”

"I am devastated that while I've been away, that my children, my grandchildren, have been taken away from me, and I'm coming home to see about that, also," Katherine said.

“I told him [TJ Jackson] it wasn’t necessary for him to go down to court and sign up for

MJ’s son Prince isn’t sold on the company line that his grandmother was simply staying at an Arizona spa on doctor’s orders.

"As long as I can remember my dad repeatedly warned me of certain people and their ways," Prince Michael tweeted. "Although I am happy my grandma was returned, after speaking with her I realize how misguided and how badly she was lied to. I 'm really angry and hurt."

Katherine gets $840,000 a year to care for MJ’s three kids, TMZ reported.

The judge could end up funneling all that money to TJ, and cut Katherine out of the picture -- an unintended consequence of the siblings trying to overturn The King of Pop’s will, TMZ said.

With AP

Seabrook guilty of funneling $1.5M in taxpayer funds to friends, family

A federal jury today convicted embattled City Councilman Larry Seabrook on nine criminal counts that he funneled $1.5 million in taxpayer money to friends and family.

Seabrook was found guilty of trying to sneak the public funds to nonprofits that he secretly ran with what prosecutors called his "yes men and stooges."

He was immediately thrown out of office as a convicted felon, under state law.

“This conviction ends Larry Seabrook’s power to channel the flow of taxpayer funds to himself, his family, and his cronies,” Department of Investigation Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn. “His career as an elected official is over, and his life as a convicted felon begins.”

The Manhattan panel also acquitted the Bronx Democrat on three charges related to his alleged laundering of roughly $50,000 in "illegal thank you payments" from a Bronx businessman.

Seabrook emerged from the courthouse about an hour after the verdict, holding hands with his wife, Maria Diaz.

"My reaction is that I continue to have faith in God, faith in the system, faith in my attorneys and faith in where we're going to go and my wife and my family, that I continue to have faith, continue to believe in the system and I'll prepare myself for whatever is next," said the convicted pol, who will remain free on bail.

Asked if he planned to appeal the verdict, Seabrook said: "Well we're talking to my attorneys and we'll find out what's the next step.”

"We respect the jury's verdict,” said defense lawyer Ed Wilford. “We don't agree with it but we respect it.

"And we're going to do everything we can to pursue Mr. Seabrook's legal rights and remedies from this point on.”

Seabrook faces up to 20 years on each of the nine counts for which he was convicted.

Prosecutors said Seabrook used a phony $177 receipt for a bagel sandwich and a Diet Snapple as part
of that alleged scheme.

“Councilman Larry Seabrook abused the power of his office to influence public contracts and to fund his own corrupt friends and family plan,” US Attorney Preet Bharara said.

“Today’s conviction ensures that the councilman will pay for betraying the public trust. Rooting out public corruption and restoring the public’s faith in honest government remains a vital mission of this office.”

Seabrook’s elaborate, three-part scam sent money to a city slush fund, job training program and a group aimed at bringing diversity to the FDNY.

This was a retrial of a prosecution that ended late last year, with a hung jury on all counts.

All jurors in this prosecution left court without making any comments today.

“Larry Seabrook has been convicted of crimes that display a galling abuse of the trust and confidence placed in public officials,” New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

Voters will fill Seabrook's seat on Election Day in November. It'll be a non-partisan election.

The City Council will send staffers to Seabrook's district office, so none of his constituents lose services between now and the election of his replacement.

Harvey makes big league debut as Mets hit the road

Amid their freefall, the Mets are calling upon an untested rookie.

Matt Harvey, New York's first-round selection in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, will step onto a Major League mound for the first time on Thursday in a series-opening contest against the D-backs.

The Mets are hoping that Harvey can put an end to their second six-game skid in the last two weeks.

New York has dropped 12 of its last 13 contests.

"It is what it is," Mets skipper Terry Collins said. "He's going to have to realize there's lots of things that come with pitching in the big leagues, and one of them might be to stop a losing streak."

Harvey went 7-5 with a 3.68 ERA in 20 starts for Triple-A Buffalo, with 112 strikeouts in 110 innings.

Collins' message to the 23-year-old was a simple one.

"'Pitch,'" he told the youngster. "'Do what you've been doing. It's the same thing, the same game. You have to make pitches. If you don't make pitches, you're going to get hit hard.' There's not much more to say. This guy's got the makeup. He doesn't want to be just a guy, he wants to be the guy. He has a good approach."

Harvey, the Mets' second-ranked prospect and 30th in baseball according to's 2012 Prospect Watch, will face an opponent that's on the opposite end of the spectrum. The D-backs entered Wednesday's tilt against the Rockies riding a five-game win streak, a stretch that has lifted them back into the races for both the National League West crown and the Wild Card berths.

Mets: Club creates recovery plan for Santana
The Mets expect Johan Santana, who tossed the franchise's first no-hitter earlier this season, to make a start on Aug. 8 or Aug. 9.

Santana, on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right ankle, will work with Mike Herbst, the Mets' Minor League strength and conditioning coach, this week. He'll play long toss until he's ready to throw off a mound, a task Collins expects him to complete toward the middle of next week.

"After that, we're hoping that he's back," Collins said.

Santana, 33, has shown signs of shoulder fatigue since injuring the ankle during a start on July 6. This season the southpaw is 6-7 with a 3.98 ERA in 19 starts.
  • Outfielder Mike Baxter, who displaced his right collarbone on June 1 when he crashed into the left-field fence at Citi Field during Santana's no-hitter, could rejoin the Mets on Monday in San Francisco.
Collins said that the 27-year-old only needs to make a few more rehab appearances in the outfield before he can rejoin the big league club. In 65 at-bats, Baxter is batting .323 with a .392 on-base percentage, 11 doubles and 10 RBIs.

D-backs: Chase Field to host Classic games
The home of the D-backs will play host to first-round competition in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

The games will be played at both Chase Field and the club's Cactus League home, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Arizona previously hosted first-round action at Scottsdale Stadium in 2006.

The third edition of the Classic takes place next spring and includes 28 nations.

Worth noting
  • The Mets took two of three from the D-backs in a May series at Citi Field.