Some of the sports stories The Associated Press is covering Wednesday. A full Sports Digest will be sent by about 3 p.m. All times EST:
– NEW YORK – Tim Raines and Jeff Bagwell are likely to be elected to the Hall of Fame, and Ivan Rodriguez and Trevor Hoffman also could gain entry to Cooperstown. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are expected to fall short again but gain momentum for future elections. Announcement at 6 p.m.
– INGLEWOOD, Calif. – NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell joins owner Dean Spanos, quarterback Philip Rivers and new coach Anthony Lynn at a formal kickoff ceremony for the Los Angeles Chargers.
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– FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Matt Ryan has accomplished so much in his career. Now, in the midst of his finest season, he’s two wins away from the goal that separates him from the other three quarterbacks still standing in the NFL playoffs, the line on the resume that is truly necessary to be remembered as one of the greats – a Super Bowl championship.
– GREEN BAY, Wis. – Versatility is a valuable asset on the Green Bay defense, in part because of injuries, but also as a way for the Packers to keep up with more pass-happy offenses – like the one they’ll face on Sunday at Atlanta in the NFC championship game.
– PITTSBURGH – Antonio Brown says he got caught up in the moment when he decided to livestream video from the Pittsburgh Steelers locker room after beating Kansas City. The All-Pro wide receiver apologizes, saying he was wrong for creating a distraction before the AFC championship game.
– FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Martellus Bennett has come a long way since contract demands in Chicago culminated with him being traded to New England this offseason. As ”Marty” prepares for his first AFC championship game, he is expected to have a key role when Tom Brady plays in his first championship game without Rob Gronkowski since 2013.
– This should be fun. The conference championship teams feature big-time offenses – yes, we know, the Steelers didn’t look like one in the red zone last weekend – that could turn the scoreboards into tote machines.
– HOUSTON – A destination guide to attractions in the Super Bowl host city, Houston, ahead of the Feb. 5 game.
– MELBOURNE, Australia – Top-ranked Andy Murray hurts his right ankle in a 6-3, 6-0, 6-2 win over No. 156-ranked Andrey Rublev in the second round of the Australian Open, but he says ”it’s a little bit sore – not too serious.”
– CARACAS, Venezuela – The always-outspoken former All-Star shortstop Ozzie Guillen can’t keep quiet even while managing in his native Venezuela, telling The Associated Press that no major leaguer who wants to safeguard his career should play winter ball, especially in such a violent, crisis-wracked country like his own.
– DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings are in danger of not making the playoffs for the first time since 1990, a streak that started when they could outspend the competition and might end because the salary cap may have caught up to the storied franchise
– ARLINGTON, Va. – As much as the Washington Capitals want to go about their recent winning ways quietly, one key to their 11-game point streak is being quiet. Coach Barry Trotz has harped on his players not to bark at referees on penalty calls, and the message is getting across.
– OAKLAND, Calif. – After Golden State star Kevin Durant beat his old Oklahoma City team 122-96 on Nov. 3, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder visit Oracle Arena again looking for a far better result. Game starts 10:30 p.m.
– In men’s college basketball, No. 19 Florida and No. 24 South Carolina try to stay undefeated in Southeastern Conference play (game starts 6:30 p.m.) while No. 15 Notre Dame looks to remain unbeaten in Atlantic Coast Conference play as it faces No. 10 Florida State, which has won 15 straight at home (game starts 7 p.m.).
– LA QUINTA, Calif. – Phil Mickelson is set to decide whether to play in the CareerBuilder Challenge or wait a week to return from two hernia surgeries.
– INDIANAPOLIS – IndyCar drivers believe the series has momentum heading into the 2017 season. They’ve seen attendance increase. They’ve seen interest increase. And now they’re hoping to see TV ratings increase, too.