Friday’s Sports in Brief

PRO FOOTBALL

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) President Donald Trump has a suggestion for National Football League owners whose players decide to take a knee during the national anthem: fire them.

And the president has a similar suggestion for fans of the sport: walk out of the stadium in protest.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the trend last year when he played for the San Francisco 49ers. He hasn’t been signed by an NFL team this season.

Trump’s hard-nosed reaction to protests by several athletes over treatment of blacks by police came Friday night during a freewheeling rally in Alabama. He says such players are disrespecting the flag and deserve to lose their jobs.

Trump also bemoaned that football has become less violent. That view comes amid growing concerns over repeated head blows and a brain disease.

BASEBALL

LOS ANGELES (AP) – They made it look oh-so-easy, and made it seem woefully difficult. Now, these Los Angeles Dodgers figure they’re braced for anything.

They’ll get to find out in the postseason after their 4-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants gave Los Angeles its fifth consecutive NL West title, setting off yet another September party at Dodger Stadium.

”You have to celebrate,” said ace Clayton Kershaw. ”You never know if this is the last time you’re going to win a division championship. We’re celebrating, but that doesn’t mean we don’t know there’s more work to do.”

The capper was highlighted by a homer from a player who couldn’t legally drink for most of this division title run. Cody Bellinger set an NL rookie record with his 39th homer, a three-run shot in the third inning. The 22-year-old topped the mark set by Wally Berger in 1930 and matched by Frank Robinson in 1956.

After a record run that saw the Dodgers push their record to 91-36, they had gone just 6-20 – including a dismal 1-16 stretch – to make clinching their division more laborious than anticipated. Los Angeles stopped a nine-game home losing streak, winning at Chavez Ravine for the first time since Aug. 25.

Los Angeles will open the NL Division Series at home on Oct. 6. The Dodgers are seeking to reach the World Series for the first time since 1988 under manager Tommy Lasorda, who was on hand at Dodger Stadium to celebrate his 90th birthday.

TORONTO (AP) – After speaking with the family of the young girl hit in the face by his foul ball, the New York Yankees’ Todd Frazier said teams should move quickly to expand protective netting at major league ballparks.

”I think 2018, that’s too late,” Frazier said. ”It should be up sooner than that.”

Frazier spoke Thursday to the father of the girl struck by his 105 mph foul ball in Wednesday’s game against Minnesota at Yankee Stadium. The girl remains hospitalized. Frazier said her father told him she is ”OK.”

Major League Baseball issued recommendations for protecting netting in December 2015, encouraging teams to have it between the ends of the dugouts closest to home plate.

The Mets extended netting beyond the outfield ends of the dugouts this summer. The Yankees said in August they ”are seriously exploring extending the netting prior to the 2018 season.”

Cincinnati and San Diego said this week they will expand netting before next season, and Colorado said it is in discussions with vendors about additional netting.

DETROIT (AP) – The rebuilding Detroit Tigers will start fresh next season with a new manager.

The Tigers announced that Brad Ausmus will not return in 2018 after four years in charge. General manager Al Avila said the team was not extending Ausmus’ contract.

Detroit was the first team this season to announce a managerial change.

Ausmus is 312-326 after Friday’s 7-3 loss to Minnesota. His tenure included an AL Central title in his first season, but the Tigers have not made the postseason since.

Detroit has been shedding payroll this year, trading stars Justin Verlander, Justin Upton and J.D. Martinez, and the Tigers are assured of no better than a fourth-place finish in their division.

OLYMPICS

The U.S. Olympic Committee’s security chief sent a letter to potential Winter Olympic athletes saying there are no indications that recent developments between the U.S. and North Korea have compromised security in South Korea.

The letter, obtained by The Associated Press shortly after it was sent, makes no suggestion that the U.S. Team is considering skipping the Pyeongchang Games for security reasons.

But Chief Security Officer Nicole Deal does write that provocations that have been volleyed between the United States and North Korea are likely to persist for the foreseeable future, and ”should not be dismissed as insignificant nor feared as precursors of an inevitable conflict.”

The letter comes at the end of a week in which France’s sports minister suggested the country’s athletes would stay home if security could not be guaranteed.