T25-COLLEGE BKB POLL
Kentucky is No. 1 in preseason poll
UNDATED (AP) — Kentucky and its roster full of high school All-Americas is the narrow choice over Michigan State in The Associated Press' preseason college basketball poll.
The Wildcats, who finished last season with an NIT opening-round loss at Robert Morris, received 27 first-place votes and 1,546 points from the 65-member national media panel.
The Spartans, who return four starters from the team that lost to Duke in the NCAA tournament's round of 16, snared 22 first-place votes and 1,543 points.
Defending national champion Louisville received 14 first-place votes and was third while Duke, which received the other two No. 1 votes, was fourth.
Kansas was fifth and was followed by Arizona and Michigan. Oklahoma State and Syracuse tied for eighth and Florida rounded out the Top Ten.
Silent bats to blame for Series flameout
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Clutch hitting deserted the St. Louis Cardinals throughout the postseason. The power arms that got them to the World Series finally gave out, too.
For the third straight year there's satisfaction in the achievement of making a deep October run. They were close to a second title in three years, largely thanks to rookie Michael Wacha, and there's no reason they can't keep contending.
The way it ended, it felt as if they'd missed by a mile.
Going forward, it appears the NL champions have plenty of payroll flexibility. They haven't said whether they'll seek a contract extension with free-agent Carlos Beltran, who would like to stay.
WORLD SERIES RATINGS
World Series rating up 17 percent over 2012
NEW YORK (AP) — The World Series television rating on Fox was up 17 percent over last year but was the lowest for a matchup that went at least six games.
Boston's 4-2 Series win over St. Louis averaged an 8.9 rating, 15 share and 14.9 million viewers, Nielsen Media Research said Thursday.
San Francisco's four-game sweep of Detroit last year averaged a record-low 7.6/12 and was seen by 12.7 million viewers. That was among only three Series that had lower ratings than this year's, joined by 8.4 ratings for Philadelphia's five-game win over Tampa Bay in 2008 and San Francisco's five-game victory over Texas in 2010.
Boston's 6-1 victory in Wednesday night's clincher received an 11.3/18 and was seen by 19.2 million viewers, baseball's highest rating since Game 7 of the 2011 World Series.
Cardinals decline option on Jake Westbrook
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis Cardinals declined their $9.5 million option for next season on pitcher Jake Westbrook, who was not on their postseason roster after battling elbow and back injuries much of the year.
The 36-year-old Westbrook, who was 7-8 with a 4.63 ERA, gets a $1 million buyout.
The sinkerballer appeared in 21 games, all but two of them starts. He was barely used late in the year and got the start in the season finale as a nod to his contributions, working one scoreless inning.
Westbrook is 105-103 for his career. He was 36-32 with a 4.27 ERA in three-plus seasons with St. Louis.
Royals exercise option on Shields for 2014
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Royals have exercised their $13.5 million option on right-hander James Shields for 2014 after he anchored one of the league's best starting rotations last season.
Shields, acquired last offseason in a trade from Tampa Bay, went 13-9 with a 3.15 ERA and an AL-leading 228 2-3 innings. He was especially good after the All-Star break, going 9-3 with a 3.06 ERA to help the Royals get into playoff contention.
Kansas City went 43-27 after the break to finish 86-76, its best record since 1989.
The decision Thursday to exercise Shields' option, which needed to be made within three days of the end of the World Series, was mostly a formality.
Earlier in the day, Shields won the Joe Burke Special Achievement Awarded presented by the Kansas City chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
Chiefs' Johnson having another starring season
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — This is precisely what Derrick Johnson envisioned when he first stepped into the Kansas City Chiefs locker room as a wide-eyed rookie coming off a record-setting career at Texas.
He expected to be a Pro Bowl player. He expected the Chiefs to win more than they lost. He expected to be the face of the team, the best player on the field, just as he'd been going back to his schoolboy days running around the worn and weathered fields of Waco.
Getting here has been more unexpected. He was benched midway through his career, then had to work his way back into the starting lineup. But now, he's one of the undisputed leaders of a Chiefs team that's 8-0 heading into Sunday's game at Buffalo.
Trent Rommann leads PGA Assistant Championship
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) — Trent Rommann shot a 5-under 67 on Thursday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Assistant Championship.
The 30-year-old Rommann, a PGA assistant professional at Crestview Country Club in Wichita, Kan., had seven birdies and two bogeys on PGA Golf Club's Wanamaker Course.
Dennis Downs of Surprise, Ariz., was a stroke back along with Adam Gary of Bowling Green, Ky.; Jeff Schmid of Columbia, Mo.; Jeff Seavey of Homosassa, Fla.; and Shawn Warren of Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
Logan Watts earned $25,000 with a hole-in-one. The 24-year-old PGA apprentice at Louisville (Ky.) Country Club used a 4-iron on the 214-yard 17th hole. He finished with 69.
Ashley Grier of Hagerstown, Md., the first female player to compete in the event since 2011, shot a 71.