- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

NFL

NEW YORK (AP) - The lawyer who investigated the New England Patriots says that he had found direct, not just circumstantial, evidence to show quarterback Tom Brady knew about employees deflating footballs.

Ted Wells said on a conference call Tuesday that his findings would have been enough to convince a jury in a civil trial under the “preponderance of evidence” standard.

Wells released his report last Wednesday, asserting it was “more probable than not” that Brady “was at least generally aware” of plans by two team employees to prepare the balls to his liking, below the league-mandated minimum of 12.5 pounds per square inch.

On Monday, Brady was suspended for the season’s first four games. A day later, Wells angrily refuted criticism from Brady’s agent.

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BASEBALL

NEW YORK (AP) - Major League Baseball has pumped up security for its game balls this season in the wake of the Tom Brady flap.

Starting this year, an MLB representative watches the baseballs when a clubhouse assistant carries them from the umpires’ room to the field.

And if the supply is running low during the game, an MLB security person is sent to retrieve more from the umps’ room, rather than a ball boy or ball girl.

In the past, a ball boy or ball girl did those jobs alone.

MLB says many changes in the policy for ball security and storage were discussed last December, before Brady and the New England Patriots were accused of deflating footballs.

MLB says it was aware of the Patriots’ situation when it put the new procedures into effect.

LITTLE FALLS, N.J. (AP) - As Yogi Berra might say, when you turn 90 you should celebrate it right the first time.

The baseball Hall of Famer enjoyed his 90th birthday in grand style Tuesday, complete with a youth drum orchestra, a giant cake - and replicas of his 10 World Series rings and three AL MVP awards that were stolen last year.

Berra, who is bound to a wheelchair, cut a ribbon but did not speak. Surrounded by family members, he smiled for cameras.

Known for Yogi-isms, such as “It ain’t over ‘till it’s over” and “When you come to a fork in the road, take it,” Berra became one of the most beloved professional athletes. A 15-time All-Star, Berra was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972.

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NBA

METAIRIE, La. (AP) - The New Orleans Pelicans have fired coach Monty Williams.

Team president Mickey Loomis made the announcement on Tuesday that the team is moving forward without its coach of the past five years. Loomis says the team made the decision despite widespread sentiment in the organization that Williams is a high-character individual who represented the organization with class and was effective developing young players such as Anthony Davis.

Williams has an overall record of 173-221, with two playoff appearances since landing his first heading coaching job with the Pelicans in 2010.

New Orleans made the playoffs in his first season with guard Chris Paul. Williams then shepherded the franchise through a rebuilding period that included the trade of Paul and a change in ownership.

He’s also been Davis’ only NBA coach.

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SOCCER

MUNICH (AP) - Barcelona advanced to the Champions League final for the first time since 2011, getting a pair of Neymar goals and cruising to a 3-2 loss at Bayern Munich on Tuesday night for a 5-3 aggregate victory in their semifinal matchup.

Seeking its fifth European title, Barcelona will play defending champion Real Madrid or Juventus at Berlin on June 6. Real tries to overturn a 2-1 deficit in Wednesday’s semifinal.

Trailing after a 3-0 loss at Barcelona last week, Bayern went ahead when Medhi Benatia scored on a header off a corner kick in the seventh minute.

Neymar scored four minutes later, and the away goal meant Bayern needed a four-goal victory to advance.

Neymar’s second goal put Barcelona ahead 2-1 in the 29th, and Bayern got goals from Robert Lewandowski in the 59th and Thomas Mueller in the 74th.

TORONTO (AP) - A female TV reporter is fighting back against sexually explicit taunts from soccer fans.

The taunting at a Toronto FC game Sunday was captured on video. CityNews reporter Shauna Hunt is shown questioning two men who shouted obscenities into her microphone. Hunt asks the men what could prompt them to taunt women in such a way.

Hunt told The Canadian Press by phone that she had “hit my limit and I had to push back. I wasn’t going to stand for it anymore.”

Ontario’s largest electricity provider, Hydro One, said Tuesday it has dismissed one of its employees in connection with the taunting. The company did not identify the person.

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, parent company of the MLS team, said the perpetrators would be banned from future games if they are identified.

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GOLF

WILTON, Conn. (AP) - A boy who was bullied for stuttering received strong encouragement from someone else who once struggled with his speech - Tiger Woods.

Golf Digest published the letter from Woods on its website Tuesday.

“I know what it’s like to be different and to sometimes not fit in,” Woods wrote. “I also stuttered as a child and I would talk to my dog and he would sit there and listen until he fell asleep. I also took a class for two years to help me, and I finally learned to stop.”

The plight of the high school boy, identified only as Dillon, was publicized when his mother reached out to eight-time Solheim Cup player Sophie Gustafson of Sweden, who played her entire career on the LPGA and in Europe with a severe stuttering problem.

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OLYMPICS

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) - Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff says she will get more involved in preparations of the Rio’s 2016 Olympics with the games set to open in less than 15 months.

Rousseff met Tuesday in Rio with Olympic organizers, Rio de Janeiro state governor Luiz Fernando Pezao and Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes.

Rousseff said she wants to “fine tune” preparations, but did not speak publically about specific concerns.

Rio has severe water pollution in venues for sailing, rowing and canoeing. The governing body of world sailing has threatened to pull its races out of trash-filled Guanabara Bay.

Organizers acknowledge deadlines are tight for many games venues, but say delays are minor.

Deadly violence is also a concern with routine shootouts in poor favelas (slums) costing the lives of police, drug traffickers and bystanders.

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