They backed it up with a plus-136 run differential (a fairly absurd figure across just 60 games), and then in the postseason went 13-5 en route to winning the World Series for the first time since 1988.,Because of the still ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, fans weren't permitted to attend MLB games last season until the very last rounds of the playoffs.,The plan right now is for fans to be in attendance at spring training games and regular season games, albeit in limited numbers and in accordance with local guidelines.,Last season, no fans attended any regular season Astros games even as they advanced as far as the ALCS, so they've yet to hear about their transgressions in the typical manner.,Last season, the Padres busted out in a big way, as they won at a .617 clip -- the best win percentage in franchise history -- and returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

UCLA coach Mick Cronin explained the rigorous challenges his team is facing this unprecedented college basketball season.,“The only time (the team) is together is on the bus, that’s when they’re enjoying being a college basketball player,” Cronin said Tuesday.,Center Jalen Hill, who’s been away from the team for weeks, will not be with UCLA (14-5, 10-3) against Arizona, as well as versus Arizona State on Saturday.,More challenges for players include: no off-court team activity, no in-person meetings with academic counselors or tutors, no social life on campus, and no hanging out with Cronin, either.,Following Thursday’s matchup with Arizona, UCLA will have just four games left before the Pac-12 tournament begins March 10.

Perry Minasian’s first winter as the Angels’ general manager netted at least seven new players who will, barring injury, be a part of the big league roster.,Among the position players, the Angels picked up Jose Iglesias to be their new everyday shortstop, Dexter Fowler to be their right fielder (at least until Jo Adell is ready) and Kurt Suzuki to be the backup catcher.,After Ohtani agreed to a two-year deal earlier this month, agent Nez Balelo said Ohtani has taken his offseason workouts to a higher level, in an effort to move past the struggles and injuries of the past two years.,The Angels tossed Adell in the deep end last year, and months later Manager Joe Maddon conceded that the 21-year-old probably wasn’t ready.,He’s had a winter to work on the things he did wrong last year, and now he’ll go into spring training with some experience and the challenge to prove that he is still the super prospect he was supposed to be.

President Joe Biden has responded by including a provision in the massive pandemic relief bill that would more than double the minimum wage from the current $7.25 to $15 per hour.,The Senate’s parliamentarian may further complicate things with a ruling that the minimum wage measure can’t be included in the pandemic bill.,For now, the measure’s most progressive Senate backers aren’t openly pressuring Biden to step up his campaign for a higher minimum wage.,The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, the co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, said Biden has a “mandate” to ensure the minimum wage increases, noting that minority Americans were “the first to go back to jobs, first to get infected, first to get sick, first to die” during the pandemic.,Biden suggested in the same interview that he’s prepared to engage in a “separate negotiation” on raising the minimum wage, but White House press secretary Jen Psaki offered no further details on the future of the proposal if it is in fact cut from the final coronavirus aid bill.

Being No. 1 in the Associated Press poll is old hat for the UConn women’s basketball team.,UConn moved to the top spot in the AP poll released Monday following a 3-0 week that included an overtime victory over last week’s No. 1 South Carolina.,Juniors Christyn Williams and Olivia Nelson-Ododa have been part of two top-ranked teams with the Huskies, while sophomores Aubrey Griffin and Anna Makurat were also part of last year’s UConn club that spent three weeks at No. 1 a year ago before losing to Baylor at the XL Center in Hartford on Jan. 8, 2020.,They have been the top-ranked team at some point nine consecutive years and 22 of the last 27 seasons.,The Huskies improved to 22-3 in games featuring the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the AP poll with their win over South Carolina and followed up with victories over Seton Hall and Georgetown.

Quarterbacks coach Dana Bible has decided to retire after three seasons at UCLA.,With the Bruins, Bible has helped with the progression of quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who started as a true freshman and has led the team during the past three seasons.,Thompson-Robinson had a 156.29 pass efficiency rating, the best mark by a UCLA starting quarterback since 2005, in five starts during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.,No decision has been announced on a replacement for Bible, but former UCLA quarterback and current wide receivers coach Jerry Neuheisel might be a candidate.,Neuheisel, the son of former UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel, was brought on as a graduate assistant in 2018 and worked closely with the quarterbacks and receivers.

By The Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota health officials urged this week that people wear masks — and wear them properly — as the state reported an additional 964 new infections on Saturday.,Louisiana has registered 9,276 confirmed coronavirus deaths, 16th highest in the U.S. read more

The UConn women’s basketball team is adding a player into the mix much earlier than expected.Class of 2021 recruit Saylor Poffenbarger, who signed with UConn in November, has finished high school and will be traveling to Storrs this weekend.,She will be able to practice and eligible to play in games with the No. 4 Huskies following a medical quarantine.The Frederick News-Post initially reported the news Friday morning before the school officially announced it later in the day.Storrs, CT - 2/3/20 - Saylor Poffenbarger, left, and Caroline Ducharme watch the UConn women fall to Oregon on Feb. 3, 2020 at Gampel Pavilion.,Poffenbarger, a guard in the Class of 2021, had already committed at the time of the game, while Ducharme, a guard/forward in the same class, announced in April that she will attend UConn.,But as the chances of playing her senior season at Middletown High became less likely, and the NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility for all college athletes this year, Poffenbarger decided now was the time to start her next chapter.With several COVID-19 metrics at an all-time high locally, the Frederick County Public School system suspended winter sport practices earlier this month and has delayed implementing its hybrid learning model.Poffenbarger isn’t the only early enrollee on the women’s basketball scene this season.,’”The Huskies’ roster now includes seven freshmen and 12 players overall.Poffenbarger’s fellow 2021 signees Fudd and Caroline Ducharme will be finishing the school year at their respective high schools, they told The Courant, while Amari DeBerry has not shared her plans as of now.The Big East announced another game postponement Friday afternoon: UConn will not longer play Providence on Jan. 26, as the Friars have extended their pause in play due to additional COVID-19 related issues.

WASHINGTON — The rapid expansion of COVID-19 vaccinations to senior citizens across the U.S. has led to bottlenecks, system crashes and hard feelings in many states because of overwhelming demand for the shots.,But amid frustration over the slow rollout, states have thrown open the line to many of the nation's 54 million senior citizens with the blessing of President Donald Trump's administration, though the minimum age varies from place to place, at 65, 70 or higher.,In South Carolina, Kershaw Health in Camden implored people not to call its hospitals or doctors to schedule vaccination appointments after receiving more than 1,000 requests in two days.,Allison Salerno, an audio producer from Athens, Georgia, said she spent the better part of a day calling her state’s health department to get a vaccine appointment for her 89-year-old mother.,“As we learn more, we will work to make sure everyone who is eligible for a vaccine knows how, where, and when they can get their shots,” the state Health Department said in an email.

WASHINGTON — The rapid expansion of COVID-19 vaccinations to senior citizens across the U.S. has led to bottlenecks, system crashes and hard feelings in many states because of overwhelming demand for the shots.,But amid frustration over the slow rollout, states have thrown open the line to many of the nation's 54 million senior citizens with the blessing of President Donald Trump's administration, though the minimum age varies from place to place, at 65, 70 or higher.,In South Carolina, Kershaw Health in Camden implored people not to call its hospitals or doctors to schedule vaccination appointments after receiving more than 1,000 requests in two days.,Allison Salerno, an audio producer from Athens, Georgia, said she spent the better part of a day calling her state’s health department to get a vaccine appointment for her 89-year-old mother.,“As we learn more, we will work to make sure everyone who is eligible for a vaccine knows how, where, and when they can get their shots,” the state Health Department said in an email.