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The Sports Report: Rob Manfred apologizes for World Series trophy comment

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Over a month after Major League Baseball’s report indicated that the Houston Astros illegally stole signs in the 2017 postseason without detailing the method, Commissioner Rob Manfred confirmed Tuesday that the Astros continued banging trash cans to relay signs in the playoffs.

“There was conflicting evidence on that point,” Manfred said. “But, you know, in an investigation you often have conflicting evidence and it was my view that the more credible evidence was that they continued to use the scheme for the postseason.”

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Astros players, most notably shortstop Carlos Correa, have insisted the trash-can system was abandoned in the postseason because Minute Maid Park, their home stadium, was too loud for batters to hear the bangs. But Manfred said Astros players admitted the scheme was used in the postseason during the league’s investigation. The Astros beat the Dodgers in seven games to win the World Series.

Several Dodgers, notably Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger, have been outspoken about the Astros’ cheating and the league’s response. Turner took the criticism a step further Monday by directly criticizing Manfred.

The Dodgers third baseman contended Manfred “set a weak precedent” for not punishing players directly and blasted the commissioner for referring to the World Series trophy as “a piece of metal.” Manfred apologized for the comment Tuesday.

“In an effort to make a rhetorical point, I referred to the World Series trophy in a disrespectful way,” he said. “It was a mistake to say what I said.”

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Read more baseball

Dylan Hernandez: Another day, another Astros cheating fact that Manfred must explain

LeBron James calls out Rob Manfred about Astros’ sign-stealing scandal

Dodgers infielder Tyler White played on the 2017 Astros, and it’s awkward

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Angels left-handed reliever Ryan Buchter likes pitching to right-handed hitters

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NASCAR

After one of the most horrific crashes in NASCAR history, driver Ryan Newman was awake and talking with family and doctors at Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Fla., on Tuesday, his team said.

The accident came in the final lap of Monday’s rain-delayed Daytona 500. Newman and eventual winner Denny Hamlin were fighting for the lead when Ryan Blaney legally pushed Newman to the lead. However, the two Fords locked bumpers, sending Newman into the wall and airborne.

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As the car was coming back down to the track, Corey LaJoie hit Newman on the driver’s side, causing the car to flip onto its roof. The car slid, throwing sparks and flames in its wake.

It took safety workers several minutes to free Newman from the car and he was taken to the hospital.

CLIPPERS

The Clippers are close to adding depth in their backcourt ahead of the NBA’s stretch run.

Fresh off of securing a buyout with Detroit, veteran guard Reggie Jackson intends to sign with the Clippers once he clears waivers Thursday afternoon, a person with knowledge of Jackson’s plans confirmed Tuesday.

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The Clippers’ interest in signing Jackson, 29, is mutual because of his all-around potential and competitiveness, a second person not authorized to speak publicly on the matter said. The 6-foot-3 guard was considered the most talented player available in the buyout and free agent market and the Clippers had two open roster spots available.

Jackson will be eligible to play in the postseason because he will be waived before March 1.

Read more NBA

Clippers’ NBA title ambitions initiated by last year’s trade deadline deals

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Breaking down the Lakers’ and Clippers’ biggest competition for the NBA championship

KINGS

Blake Wheeler had two goals and an assist in his 700th game in franchise history, and the Winnipeg defeated the Kings 6-3 on Tuesday night.

Nikolaj Ehlers had a goal and two assists and Patrik Laine scored a goal into an empty net and added one assist. Jansen Harkins and Mason Appleton also scored, and Jack Roslovic and Mark Scheifele each had two assists.

Connor Hellebuyck stopped 31 shots for the Jets, who went 4-2-0 on a six-game home stand.

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Dustin Brown scored twice and Martin Frk also had a goal for the Kings, who were coming off two straight wins. Anze Kopitar and Matt Roy each added two assists. Calvin Petersen finished with 28 saves.

Read more Kings

Kings reportedly are trading defenseman Alec Martinez to the Vegas Golden Knights

LAFC

Carlos Vela received a rude welcome in his return to Mexico on Tuesday, with fans at Estadio León booing him every time he touched the ball. But the harshest part of the homecoming was the final score, with León defeating Vela’s LAFC 2-0 in the round of 16 of the CONCACAF Champions League.

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The teams will meet in the return leg of the two-game playoff Feb. 27 at Banc of California Stadium. The winner, determined on aggregate goals, will advance to next month’s tournament quarterfinals.

The game was the first club match in Mexico for Vela, who played in two World Cups for the national team but has spent his entire club career in Europe and the U.S. And though he played well early on, León marked him tightly and kept him from being a factor.

Many of his teammates, meanwhile, looked to be in preseason form — which is fair since LAFC’s league season doesn’t start for another 12 days. Right back Tristan Blackmon had a particularly bad time on the first goal, losing track of Jean Meneses on a long diagonal ball from Fernando Navarro, then after a quick recovery, slipping in the box and allowing Meneses to step around him and drive a right-footed shot just inside the near post in the 21st minute.

OLYMPICS

In a meeting with local Olympic organizers Tuesday afternoon, President Trump confirmed the government will provide assistance with security and other services when Los Angeles hosts the 2028 Summer Games.

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As has been the case with past Olympics on American soil, federal officials will convey “National Special Security Event” status on the 17-day competition, with the potential for hundreds of millions in resources.

Signing the commitment, Trump called the Games “a big deal.”

“We’re going to give them tremendous support,” he told reporters. “You need the support of the federal government to make it really work.”

GOLF

Mickey Wright, the golf great with a magnificent swing who won 13 majors among her 82 victories and gave the fledgling LPGA a crucial lift, died Monday of a heart attack. She was 85.

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She had been hospitalized in Florida the last few weeks after a fall, her lawyer Sonia Pawluc said.

Wright joined the LPGA in 1955 and the Hall of Famer’s 82 wins place her second on the all-time list behind Kathy Whitworth, who won 88. The Associated Press in 1999 named Wright the Female Golfer of the Century and Female Athlete of the Year in 1963 and 1964.

A Golf Magazine poll of experts in 2009 called her the best female golfer ever, and men’s champions Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson said Wright had the best swing they ever saw.

TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific.

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Florida at Ducks, 7 p.m., PRIME, AM 830

BORN ON THIS DATE

1916: Jockey Eddie Arcaro (d. 1997)

1957: Former Dodger Dave Stewart

1959: NFL Commissioner Paul Goodell

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1962: Tennis player Hana Mandlikova

1986: Soccer player Marta

1995: Basketball player Nikola Jokić

DIED ON THIS DATE

1996: Baseball team owner Charlie Finley, 76

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2011: Football player Ollie Matson, 80

2019: Former Dodger Don Newcombe, 92

AND FINALLY

The Dodgers salute Don Newcombe. Watch it here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.

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