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.

Mural artists Brian Peterson, left, and Damin Lujan of Santa Ana created a 35-by-40-foot mural depicting Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers and Mookie Betts of the Los Angeles Dodgers on a building overlooking the parking lot of Philippe the Original sandwich shop in Los Angeles.,(Photo courtesy of Brian Peterson and Damin Lujan)

David Ahn stands beneath the mural of Kobe Bryant and Mookie Betts he commissioned to be painted on the side of his building at 686 N. Spring St. in Los Angeles, CA.,(Photo by Andy Holzman) read more

BALTIMORE ORIOLES–Agreed to terms with INFs Maikol Hernandez, Grabiel Salazar, Carlos Rodriguez Eruviel Castillo, Victor Celedonio, Anderson De La Santos and Angel Tejada and INF/OF Trey Mancini, OFs Wilmer Feliciano, Hector Jimenez, Teudis Cortorreal and Angel Pena and LHPs Deivy Cruz and Elvis Polanco and Cs Yasmil Bucce, Aneudis Mordan and Samuel Basallo on one-year minor league contracts.,OAKLAND ATHLETICS–Agreed to terms with LHPs Sullivan Ribeiro de Almeida and Sean Manaea, OFs Mark Canha, Pedro Pineda, Angel Arvalo and Beyker Martinez, INFs German Ortiz, Matt Chapman, Dayker Baldallo, Ray Garrett and Anderson Machado, RHPs Maosis Hernandez, Jesus Perdigon and Jimmy Rojas, Cs Javier Pariguan, Chris Bassitt, Franke Montas and Lou Trivino on one-year minor league contracts.,LOS ANGELES DODGERS–Agreed to terms with RHPs Dailoui Abad, Miguel Bastardo, Brian Diaz, Jhonny Jimenez, Maximo Martinez, Kelvin Ramirez, Christian Romero, Pedro Santillan, Missael Soto and Michael Vilchez, OFs Juan Alonso and Issac Barreto, Cs Carlos Avila, Jesus Galiz and Thayron Liranzo, INFs Elio Campos, Wilman Diaz and Luis Guerra and LHPs Jorge Carpintero and Sebstian Jimenez on one-year minor league contracts.,PITTSBURGH PIRATES–Agreed to terms with OF Ruben Bizcaya, LHP Antwone Kelly, RHPs Jose Garces, Jesus Clode, Darlin Diaz, Luigi Hernandez and Andres Sierra, OFs Rodolfo de la Cruz, Shalin Polanco, Eddy Rodriguez and Esmerlyn Valdez, INFs Rubel Lebron, Wesley Zapata and John Zorilla, C Miguel Sosa on one-year minor league contracts.,Agreed to terms with INFs Adari Grant, Elias Reynoao, Samil De La Rosa, Anyelo Encarnacion, Yancel Guerrero and Marcelo Perez, C Leonardo Bernal, OFs Carlos Carmona, Christian Avendano, Robelin Lopez, Romtres Cabrera and Jose Suarez and RHPs Esteban Contreras, Carlos De La Cruz and Samuel Fabian on one-year minor league contracts.

(Photo by Brian Davidson/Getty Images)

After 16 seasons of covering MLB (13 with the Kansas City Royals and three with the St. Louis Cardinals), Joel Goldberg opens up and reflects on covering the game he loves and the people he has met along his journey of telling stories as a broadcast journalist.,This book does more though than just talk baseball though, as Joel tells stories about those in the world of business along with average everyday people who play a small role that has made a difference in the lives of others.,Scattered throughout the book are touching stories about “small ball” individuals from Kansas City who have overcome challenges.,The book tells emotional stories that include a relationship between former Royals pitcher Bruce Chen and a young Royals pitching prospect named Carlos Fortuna.,Toward the end of the book, Goldberg tells another story about the late Yordano Ventura and how he was one of the most energetic and most respected teammates during the Royals’ multiple trips to the World Series. read more

Hiring the longtime college coach with three national championships signifies a new direction for a franchise that has lost 105 of 144 games since Khan took over in 2012.,In other NFL news:

—Quarterback Jared Goff will start the Los Angeles Rams’ playoff game at Green Bay on Saturday, and John Wolford will be inactive.,—Four stars from Alabama’s national championship team, including Heisman Trophy finalist quarterback Mac Jones, are leaving early to enter the NFL draft.,Keller was charged Wednesday in federal court in Washington after a video emerged that appeared to show him among those storming the Capitol last champion Rollins-McNeal suspended in doping case read more

Virtual slime cannons go off in the end zone after a touchdown during Nickelodeon’s kid-focused broadcast of the NFL wild-card playoff game between the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints at the Superdome, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021 in New Orleans.,The positive reviews for Nickelodeon’s kids-focused broadcast of last Sunday’s NFL playoff game showed the potential of alternate broadcasts of sporting events.,(CBS/Viacom via AP)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Brian Robbins directed “Varsity Blues” and was the producer of “Coach Carter,” but both of those might have been eclipsed last Sunday with Nickelodeon’s successful kids-oriented broadcast of an NFL playoff game.,Even a couple days after last Sunday’s game, the president of Nickelodeon as well as everyone associated with the broadcast are still receiving accolades.,CBS and Nickelodeon weren’t the only ones to use multiple networks during Sunday’s playoff games. read more

NFL-NEWS

Goff to start for Rams in Green Bay read more

In Arizona and Florida at MLB spring training, both minor- and major-league players don't know what's next.,While there was a 60-game MLB season in 2020 and teams could also have prospects at alternate sites, the minor-league baseball season was canceled, and most minor leaguers did not get a chance to play in organized games.,Several Angels players told Advocates for Minor Leaguers, a non-profit advocacy group working to provide a voice for minor league baseball players and improve working conditions, that they "didn't see a dime" certain months and have charged their organization for failing to pay.,According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, team officials claim "a vast majority of the players likely would have been released toward the end of spring training even if baseball hadn't been halted by the coronavirus pandemic.",MLB clubs also granted players the option of playing in independent baseball leagues despite many of those teams canceling seasons of their own.