HAVANA (AP) When Kevin Kiermaier slid into home for the Tampa Bay Rays' first run of the day, President Barack Obama flung his arms wide in the sign for ''safe.''
Then he turned to his left and shook the hand of his seatmate and Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro.
The scene was a remarkable milestone for sports diplomacy as the two presidents try to set aside more than 50 years of Cold War hostility during which about the only thing the countries agreed on was a shared love of baseball.
Obama and Castro even joined in when fans were doing ''the wave.''
In the landmark game, the first visit by a major league team to the communist island since 1999, the Rays beat the Cuban national team 4-1.
BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) – The chop block has been entirely outlawed from NFL games, and extra-point kicks snapped from the 15-yard line are now permanent.
NFL owners voted to approve both those proposals by the competition committee. They also passed a resolution to expand what is a horse-collar tackle to cover the nameplate on the back of jerseys.
In all, seven rule proposals were approved. The others involved coach-to-player communications from the sideline as well as the press box; adding a delay-of-game penalty to a team that calls a timeout when it has none remaining; removing a 5-yard penalty for a receiver illegally touching a pass after being out of bounds; and eliminating multiple spots of enforcement for a double foul after a change of possession.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) – The San Francisco 49ers have landed an experienced left guard who could fit right in and replace departed Alex Boone.
San Francisco signed Zane Beadles to a three-year contract after he was released March 3 by Jacksonville in a move to create salary cap space.
Beadles is a durable offensive lineman who has started all 16 games in each of the past five seasons – the last two with Jacksonville after he spent his first four seasons with Denver and started all but two games his rookie year.
CLEVELAND (AP) – LeBron's locked in already. Now he's got to get the Cavs to, ahem, follow him.
Following a personal rite of spring he began several years ago, LeBron James has begun preparing for the upcoming NBA playoffs by limiting his access to social media in order to avoid outside distractions as he and the Cavaliers make another run at an NBA title.
James, who has coined his social media blackout ''Zero Dark 23,'' took some early steps toward sharpening his focus by unfollowing the Cavaliers' account – and those of some media members – on Twitter. That click, which coincided with the 10-year anniversary of the online social networking giant's launch, caused a seismic wave on the Internet at nearly the same time James and the Cavs were clinching their second straight Central Division title.
LOS ANGELES (AP) – A Los Angeles Lakers spokesman said there are ''different interpretations'' about what happened during an interaction between players Nick Young and Jordan Clarkson and a woman who accused them of harassing her.
Coach Byron Scott also said he spoke with the players about Sunday night's incident in Hollywood with Alexis Jones, an activist and public speaker against sexual harassment and domestic violence. The Lakers haven't indicated any intention of taking disciplinary action against Young or Clarkson.
Jones claims that at least one of the two players gestured obscenely at her and her mother while the parties' cars were stopped at an intersection.
LOS ANGELES (AP) – The NBA All-Star Game is returning to Los Angeles in 2018.
Staples Center will host the annual midseason basketball extravaganza for the third time in 15 seasons, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver confirmed.
The arena shared by the Lakers and Clippers also hosted the All-Stars in 2004 and 2011. The greater Los Angeles area will host the multiday event for the record sixth time overall in three arenas.
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) – Some of the top players in tennis expressed disgust with the comments made by the now-former director of the BNP Paribas Open tournament in Indian Wells, with Serena Williams also disagreeing with fellow No. 1 Novak Djokovic on the issue of equal pay.
Raymond Moore, the former chief operating officer and tournament director, resigned late Monday, a day after telling reporters that female players should be thankful to their male counterparts ''because they ride on the coattails of the men.''
Players, both men and women, quickly denounced the comments and that continued Tuesday at the Miami Open. But there was also concern raised about comments Djokovic made suggesting the men should seek more money because their matches tend to attract more spectators.
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – New York's Assembly voted 113-25 to legalize mixed martial arts, clearing the way for fights late this year and expanding the combat sport into the last state to still prohibit it.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo supports legalizing the combination of wrestling, kickboxing and judo. The state Senate has already passed the identical measure.
Critics call MMA too violent and like football and boxing prone to causing concussions and head injuries. Some said it inspires domestic violence and invites children to imitate it.
Provisions were added to reduce opposition, including raising the insurance required for fighter injuries to $50,000 and to $1 million for life-threatening brain injuries. It requires insurance of $50,000 for the estate of an athlete fatally injured.
NEW YORK (AP) – Candice Wiggins spent the winter contemplating ending her basketball career.
It wasn't until a morning run on the beach a few weeks ago that she decided for sure that it was time to retire. Wiggins still hadn't made the final decision until March 2 when she got back from a workout. She knew then it was time to go.
Wiggins announced her retirement on The Players' Tribune website.
She played eight years in the WNBA, including the first five with Minnesota. She earned sixth woman of the year honors her rookie season and helped the Lynx win a title in 2011, a year after she ruptured an Achilles tendon.
Wiggins also played for Tulsa, Los Angeles and New York.