Denver Boulder News

Rockies take Georgia two-way star Aaron Schunk in second round of 2019 MLB draft

Denver Post - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 22:04

The Rockies got an all-around ballplayer with their second-round selection in the 2019 MLB draft, taking Georgia junior Aaron Schunk with the No. 62 overall pick.

Schunk — who split time between third base and closer this season for the Bulldogs — was a finalist for the Olerud Award, given annually to the top two-way player in college baseball.

With plus defensive skills at the hot corner and high offensive ceiling, the 21-year-old right-hander batted .336 with 13 HR this season while also posting 12 saves and a 2.49 ERA on the mound. His low-90s fastball and effective offspeed made him a potent college pitcher, but he was being scouted primarily as a position player.

Categories: Denver Boulder News

Killing wolves was supposed to solve a problem but created issue with coyotes

Denver Post - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 21:45

On a cold, miserable morning in May, Stan Gehrt trod across an open field as wind and rain blew in his face. He was leading a team of wildlife biologists on a mission to find an animal with a gift for not being seen.

The team didn’t have to travel far from its headquarters for the search. A female coyote had made a den within sight of Chicago’s skyline. They were only “about 5 kilometers” from America’s busiest airport, O’Hare International, Gehrt said as he advanced toward the den, wind howling through his cellphone microphone during an interview.

Like every state east of the Mississippi River, Illinois is worried about its growing population of city-slicker coyotes. The animals surged from their original habitat in the West after what many now consider a colossal mistake — government-sanctioned predator removal programs that virtually wiped out red and gray wolves.

Coyotes have been taking over the territory of wolves, their mortal enemies, ever since. It is a textbook example of what the recent United Nations biodiversity report said: Humans are creating chaos for wildlife, placing a million species in danger of going extinct.

The report warned that the mismanagement of nature would come back to haunt humans in a variety of ways, including in the form of food and water shortages, and disruptions by invasive species.

As the Trump administration seeks to strip away legal protections for the last remaining wolves, state officials are contending with the consequences of a massacre carried out without regard to science.

People were fascinated when coyotes started showing up in Maryland, but complaints about nuisance animals increased as the coyote population grew. The public’s enchantment changed to “I do not want this animal in my neighborhood,” the state Department of Natural Resources said. “Few … wildlife species evoke as widespread and passionate disdain by the general public as coyotes.”

The situation was worse for native wildlife. Coyotes became the top predator and changed the ecosystem. Maryland’s red foxes were pushed the edge of their territory, and their numbers declined.

Wildlife officials across the East are trying to reduce coyote populations with tactics similar to those used to destroy wolves, but the cash bounties, hunting contests and unlimited daily harvests are not working on an animal that is more resilient.

Coyotes have a unique way of responding to population pressure: They make more coyotes. Kill half a million one year, experts say, and that many will pop up the next.

Early American settlers started killing wolves, mountain lions and other apex predators centuries ago, largely to protect livestock. Modern developers mounted a far more ambitious effort to remove wolves for urban expansion, which accelerated their decline by erasing large portions of their habitat.

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In the process, humans unwittingly opened a gateway for one of the most resilient predators in the wild.

“You’ve probably heard the cliche that nature abhors a vacuum,” said DeLene Beeland, author of “The Secret World of Red Wolves: The Fight to Save North America’s Other Wolf.” “Of course they’re going to come in; it’s open habitat.”

As early as the mid-to-late 1940s, coyote populations started to creep upward in the Midwest. Early settlers “would never have known anything about a coyote,” Gehrt said. But now, residents in Chicago, New York, Washington, Charlotte, N.C., and Atlanta are living with them, even if most people don’t know it. (His group never did find the female denning near O’Hare.)

By the 1990s, coyotes had pushed all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, establishing a presence in Virginia and the Carolinas. They roamed as far north as New Hampshire and as far south as Florida, places where they didn’t exist 50 years ago.

Coyotes have even ventured into Mexico and Central America. They recently became the first new animal species in a thousand years known to cross the isthmus into Panama, where camera traps spotted them heading toward South America.

“How do you limit coyotes? You don’t,” said Gehrt, director of the Coyote Research Project in Cook County, where there are an estimated 4,000 coyotes. “We haven’t been able to do that, and people have tried for a very long time.”

Unlike wolves, coyotes don’t need to bring down a grown deer, elk or bison to survive. They’ll eat fruit. Or a rabbit. Or swipe an occasional fawn. Mostly they eat rodents, Gehrt said. “Not rats or mice. Natural rodents like vole, they love those. They’ll give up anything to eat a vole.”

“I think … what we’ve learned in general is the removal of large apex predators have unintended consequences,” Gehrt said.

Now Illinois is trying the manage coyotes with science.

“Every year we try to locate the den where the coyotes are trying to raise a litter,” he said. “If we are successful in finding the den, we can extract the pups, microchip them and put them back.”

But a scientific approach is not being used in every state.

In South Carolina, Republican state Sen. Stephen Goldfinch issued a call to arms. Goldfinch did not respond to requests for comment, but he told WMBF News in Myrtle Beach that killing coyotes should be South Carolina’s top priority.

“The state’s perspective is every coyote needs to be a dead coyote. Trap them, shoot them … however you want to get rid of them,” Goldfinch said. “This is now about going to war with the coyotes. They’re eating our cats and our dogs and our deer and turkeys.”

Science doesn’t support the last comment, Gehrt said. There are isolated cases of coyotes killing pets, but that is extremely rare. “That’s another case of misinterpreting things.”

Cats “avoid coyotes like crazy,” Gehrt said. “When we started radio collaring cats in our coyote territories, we assumed there would be massive carnage, but actually we saw little predation because the cats avoided the areas coyotes were using.”

Scientists are finding it hard to overcome attitudes about coyotes shaped by fables, cartoons and movies in which the animals or their wolf relatives scheme to eat little girls, stalk a charming roadrunner and with a single bite transform humans into hairy monsters.

In rural North Carolina, landowners seeking to end a federal program to reintroduce red wolves to the wild went door-to-door saying the animals were dangerous.

The program’s opponents claimed, without much evidence, that the wolves kill livestock. They said they robbed hunters of sport by killing too many deer, even though red wolf droppings showed that deer are a tiny part of their diet. The opponents even claimed that the wolves were in fact coyotes, until a study by National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in April debunked that assertion.

Red wolves once roamed nearly the entire Southeast and portions of the Southwest.

“Originally, over most of their range, red wolves didn’t interact with coyotes, because there weren’t any coyotes,” said Roland Kays, a researcher and associate professor at North Carolina State University.

In their heyday, the larger red wolves ruled through intimidation. A coyote that showed its face in their territory often ended up dead. “Animals will avoid an area because it’s risky,” Kays said.

Humans, a more fearsome predator, altered the landscape.

At first the change was subtle, barely noticeable. Starting in the 1930s and 1940s, federal officials at the U.S. Biological Survey, the agency responsible for killing the vast majority of wolves, reported that their numbers had dropped dramatically.

“But in the ‘50s, there was a spike upwards,” Beeland said. She suspects that hunters who were unfamiliar with coyotes mistook them for wolves.

Dan Flores did. As a kid growing up in the Louisiana bayou, he was infatuated with wolves he’d never seen. In 1963, at age 13, Flores was given a horn that simulated the sound of a dying rabbit. He rode his bicycle into the swamp, climbed a tree and blew it.

“Within 30 seconds, I see this animal coming. It wasn’t a fox. It was something I’d never seen before,” said Flores, author of “Coyote America.” He shared his observation with the person who gave him the horn. “I saw a wolf!”

Flores was told it was more likely a coyote. “I thought that was a remarkable thing. I had always thought of them as an animal of the desert and of the West.”

As red wolves declined, they stopped fighting coyotes and mated with them. Fearing their extinction, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rescued a few genetically pure red wolves that remained in Louisiana and Texas in the late 1970s and put them in zoos.

With red wolves behind bars, coyotes pushed east.

Goldfinch wants to halt their march with legislation that would allow an unlimited number of coyotes to be killed year round. It would allow hunting contests and local bounties.

That won’t work, said Jonathan Way, founder of Eastern Coyote/Coywolf Research in Massachusetts: “All told, 500,000 coyotes per year are killed by hunters, state agencies and federal wildlife services. The reason why they still come back is because of their body size. They can survive on just about anything.”

In Georgia, where the coyote population grew from near zero to thousands after the turn of the century, officials backed away from Goldfinch’s approach.

Georgia fought coyotes with hunting events that offered prizes for the most animals killed. When that failed, the state turned to educational programs to raise public awareness.

“We wanted to remind people of all the tools they have to keep them away,” said Charlie Killmaster, the state’s deer and feral-hog biologist. “A number of states have shown that government-sponsored programs to eradicate coyote populations are huge money pits that result in failure.”

It’s not too late to learn from the past, he said.

“Looking back on our predecessors that were anti-predator in general … that created this,” Killmaster said. “Absolutely they paved the way for coyotes to come in.”

Categories: Denver Boulder News

Judge rejects House suit to block transfer of billions of dollars for Trump border wall

Denver Post - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 21:41

WASHINGTON — A federal judge in Washington on Monday rejected a House lawsuit to block spending on President Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall at the border with Mexico.

U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden of the District of Columbia denied a House request to temporarily stop spending on the wall saying the House lacked legal standing to sue the president for allegedly overstepping his power by diverting billions intended for other purposes to pay for it.

“While the Constitution bestows upon Members of the House many powers, it does not grant them standing to hale the Executive Branch into court claiming a dilution of Congress’s legislative authority,” McFadden wrote in a 24-page decision, continuing, “The Court therefore lacks jurisdiction to hear the House’s claims and will deny its motion.”

The decision is at odds with a May 24 ruling by a federal judge in California that temporarily blocked part of the plan using money Congress never appropriated for that purpose.

A central issue in both lawsuits is whether diverting the funds is an illegal act that violates constitutional separation of powers between government branches. Both sets of challenges — the plaintiffs in California included states and environmental — were brought shortly after the president declared a national emergency along the southern border.

The judge in Washington never reached the merits of the Democratic-led House’s complaint, ruling instead that a single chamber of Congress does not have legal standing to sue the executive branch.

McFadden’s order effectively kills the House suit, which sought to block the administration from tapping not only $1 billion already transferred from military pay and pensions accounts but also money from an emergency military construction fund that the administration said it intends to transfer but has not yet moved.

McFadden’s decision ran counter to a 2015 ruling that found the then GOP-led House could sue the Obama administration for allegedly spending on an Affordable Care Act program that Congress never approved, a ruling that would have marked the first time the House was able to challenge an administration in court. The case was settled before it withstood appeal.

McFadden wrote that “Applying Burwell (the 2015 decision) to the facts here would clash with binding precedent holding that Congress may not invoke the courts’ jurisdiction to attack the execution of federal laws.”

He added: “The Executive and Legislative Branches have resolved their spending disputes without enlisting courts’ aid,” he said, finding Congress had many other levers to deploy in its conflict with a president. “The House thus ‘lack(s) support from precedent,’ and ‘historical practice appears to cut against (it) as well,’ ” he wrote.

In a hearing last month, McFadden had said it was “problematic” whether the House had legal standing to sue as a single chamber of Congress and said that is a “significant issue in this case.”

On May 24, U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam, of the Northern District of California, said that the parties challenging Trump’s actions in that case had a good chance of prevailing on their claims that the administration is acting illegally in shifting money from other programs to pay for the wall.

Gilliam is a 2014 appointee of President Barack Obama. He ruled in response to lawsuits brought by the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition.

The court in California ruled against using the already transferred funds and blocks projects slated for immediate construction. The court said it would come back with a ruling on the emergency military construction funds once the administration actually shifts them. The decision applies to wall segments around Yuma, Ariz., and El Paso.

With some contracts already awarded for construction, Gilliam said that allowing work to go forward before the legal issues have been fully resolved could cause irreparable harm. He also said plaintiffs can come back to seek injunctions if the Trump administration announces additional projects at the border.

The Justice Department has argued that the funding dispute amounts to a political disagreement that should be settled outside of the legal system, suggesting that instead of suing, Congress could instead have passed a law explicitly saying that “no money shall be obligated” in any form to construct a border barrier.

The House sued on April 5 in Washington to block Trump’s plan to transfer $6.7 billion for a “big beautiful” wall he had promised during his campaign.

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Congress declined to fund it, and after a 35-day partial government shutdown, it appropriated $1.375 billion for border barriers.

On the same day he signed the spending bill, Trump made his emergency declaration. The administration said added financing for the wall will include $3.6 billion diverted from Pentagon construction projects, $2.5 billion transferred from other defense programs into a military program to install counterdrug fencing at the border, and $600 million collected in enforcement and forfeiture actions by customs and treasury agencies.

The law the administration invoked to shift funds allows transfers for “unforeseen” events.

In his ruling, Gilliam said the government claim that the wall construction was unforeseen did not square with the president’s many funding demands dating to early 2018 and even in the 2016 campaign.

Categories: Denver Boulder News

Teenager fatally shot in Lakewood is identified; police ask for tips from public

Denver Post - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 21:33

A teenager who was shot dead in Lakewood over the weekend was identified by police on Monday.

Daniel Avila, 17, was shot at about 4:15 a.m. Sunday in the area of West Florida Avenue and South Yarrow Street, according to Lakewood police.

Lakewood Police Searching for Shooting Suspect:

If you have any information on this shooting please call @CrimeStoppersCO at 720-913-STOP (7867) or the Lakewood Police Tip Line at 303-763-6800. You can remain anonymous. pic.twitter.com/u2jovxudIS

— Lakewood Police (@LakewoodPDCO) June 4, 2019

Police received multiple calls of shots fired and officers found multiple victims — three who had been shot and one who was assaulted.

No information about a suspect in the shootings has been released.

Anyone with information on the incident, or on a suspect, is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867 (STOP), or Lakewood police at 303-763-6800.

 

Categories: Denver Boulder News

Man’s body found in Thornton’s Hunters Glen Lake; investigation is underway

Denver Post - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 21:26

A man’s body was found in a Thornton lake on Monday and police are investigating the incident.

Thornton Police conducting a death investigation in the 900 Block of 130th Ave. Hunters Glen Lake. An unidentified deceased male found in the water. Unknown cause or manner of death at this time. Large police presence. pic.twitter.com/o7qU7g22bP

— Thornton Police Dept (@ThorntonPolice) June 4, 2019

The body was found in the 900 block of 130th Avenue in Hunters Glen Lake, according to police.

Police were on scene Monday night. The cause and manner of the man’s death is under investigation.

Categories: Denver Boulder News

How James Holzhauer’s astonishing “Jeopardy!” run came to a dramatic end

Denver Post - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 20:33

In a twist that could rival a great television drama, “Jeopardy!” powerhouse James Holzhauer lost on the episode broadcast Monday – just as he was on the cusp of surpassing the 15-year-old earnings record of legendary champion Ken Jennings.

Holzhauer’s historic run, in which he averaged almost a jaw-dropping $77,000 per episode, came to an end after his 33rd game. Holzhauer, a professional sports gambler from Las Vegas, lost to University of Chicago librarian Emma Boettcher, who beat him by about $22,000 in the Final Jeopardy round with a question about Shakesperean literature.

“What a game! Oh, my God,” said host Alex Trebek, as a grinning Holzhauer gave Boettcher a high five.

Holzhauer’s incredible “Jeopardy!” streak started airing in early April and captivated an increasingly splintered television audience, breathing new life into the iconic show, currently in its 35th season. As Holzhauer steamrolled more than 60 contestants with his seemingly endless command of trivia, his aggressive playing style triggered a debate among viewers about whether he “broke” the game. His hardball tactics included jumping around the board to pick out the highest-value clues – often accumulating a startling amount of money before his competitors could even figure out the buzzer – and then casually wagering massive amounts on Final Jeopardy, with a gambler’s easy confidence.

By Holzhauer’s fourth episode, Trebek wondered out loud if it was too early to make Jennings comparisons. Jennings, who became a household name by earning $2,520,700 over 74 games in 2004, said he loved watching Holzhauer employ his bold strategy and was sorry to see it come to an end.

“Honestly, I feel a little bit of the same letdown I did when I lost in 2004. I was enjoying the streak maybe more than anybody. I really wanted to see what this guy could do,” Jennings said. “I also feel for him, you know? It really does show what a fickle mistress ‘Jeopardy!’ is. A couple breaks go the wrong way and any night could be the last night.”

As of Monday, Holzhauer had won $2,462,216 over 32 games and only needed $58,485 to leap over Jennings. That result seemed so likely – the 10 highest single-day earnings in the show’s history all belong to him – that on Sunday, when a brief clip circulated online that appeared to show Holzhauer losing to Boettcher, fans had trouble believing it was real.

However, the leaked footage proved to be accurate on Monday morning, as the first “Jeopardy!” broadcast of the day debuted in Montgomery, Ala., where the local CBS affiliate airs the show at 9:30 a.m. Central Time.

Going into Final Jeopardy, Holzhauer wasn’t in the lead, which was rare. Boettcher led with $26,600 while Holzhauer had $23,400. Jay Sexton, a research engineer from Atlanta, trailed with $11,000. The clue: “The line ‘a great reckoning in a little room’ in ‘As You Like It’ is usually taken to refer to this author’s premature death.”

Sexton revealed his answer first: Elizabethan playwright and poet Christopher Marlowe. His total became $17,000. Holzahuer also answered Marlowe – yet he only wagered $1,399. “A modest one for the first time,” Trebek commented, as Holzhauer’s new total became $24,799.

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“So, Emma, it’s up to you: If you came up with the correct response, you’re going to be the new ‘Jeopardy!’ champion,” Trebek said. “Did you?”

Indeed, Boettcher also said Marlowe and wagered $20,201, meaning she won $46,801 and trounced Holzhauer in the process.

“Oh gosh. What a payday!” Trebek said as the audience gasped.

Holzhauer, a University of Illinois graduate with a degree in mathematics, fascinated sports prognosticators and statisticians as he methodically picked apart the game, making quick calculations of the odds in his head that helped him settle on the shrewdest wager amounts while simultaneously summoning the necessary trivia. Jennings, like many other diehard “Jeopardy!” viewers, predicts that this tactic of making big wagers could become a new trend.

“James has made people realize that the aggressive game-play is good. And so I think you’ll start seeing a lot more players being more aggressive in their bets,” said Andy Saunders, who runs the Canadian-based website The Jeopardy Fan, which he reports has drawn a “mindblowing” increase in readers since Holzhauer’s streak started. “It’s absolutely been unprecedented – his average bet is almost $9,000 on the Daily Double.”

But an aggressive betting strategy means nothing if you don’t know the answers – or rather, the questions, in keeping with the show’s challenging format.

Holzhauer, who has a four-year-old daughter, credited his breadth of trivia knowledge with binge-reading books aimed at kids.

“You may be able to read an adult book about a boring subject without falling asleep, but I can’t. For me, it was either read some children’s books – designed to engage the reader – or go into ‘Jeopardy!’ with giant gaps in my knowledge base,” Holzhauer told The Washington Post in a May interview.

This meant that quite a few contestants – many of whom had nurtured a lifelong dream of appearing on “Jeopardy!” – were in for an unpleasant surprise when they suddenly came face to face with a player more dominant than any the show had ever seen.

“Any other day, any other opponent, the results might have been different,” said Lewis Black, a Salt Lake City attorney who competed against Holzhauer in his sixth game, “but you just happen to get there and run headfirst into a buzzsaw.”

Holzhauer’s command of the game was such that some fans, seizing upon his unusually low last Final Jeopardy wager, speculated that he may have lost intentionally – perhaps having wearied of competition.

But Brad Rutter, another “Jeopardy!” whiz who bested Jennings in a “tournament of champions,” said that Holzhauer was playing to win to the very end.

“It was absolutely the right wager . . . 100 percent his best chance at winning,” said Rutter.

Holzhauer was trailing Boettcher by enough that his only hope was that she botch the Final Jeopardy question. Meanwhile, in case Holzhauer had also gotten the question wrong, then he need to wager conservatively enough so that Sexton couldn’t surpass him.

“The idea that he would make a mistake or lose on purpose,” Rutter said, “those are the two least likeliest things he would do.”

Holzhauer told the Action Network, a website devoted to sports-betting trends, that his final appearance was taped on March 12 – well before his episodes began broadcasting on April 4. While he and his fellow contestants had signed nondisclosure agreements, scores of people who sat in the studio audience managed to keep the final results a secret for two months – a testament, some said, to the reverence fans hold for the show’s aura of suspense.

Combined with his $2,000 for coming in second place on Monday’s episode, Holzhauer’s total winnings are $2,464,216; he has already started donating some of the funds to charity. Holzhauer and the publicists for “Jeopardy!” did not return a request for comment. Over the weekend, however, Holzhauer offered one clue that the end of his time on “Jeopardy!” wouldn’t be the worst thing.

“My kid cried about the possibility of her dad losing, so I told her we could have a party the day after it inevitably happens,” he tweeted. “Now she cries when I win.”

Even as Holzhauer’s time on “Jeopardy!” ends, many fans are thrilled that it brought a new spotlight to the beloved game show, a reliable mainstay for the past three decades.

“It reminded us how much ‘Jeopardy!’ means to us and how much we love it,” Jennings said. “I think we take ‘Jeopardy’ for granted, and it’s nice when something like this comes along. The fact that 15 years went by without someone making a real run at the record, really, it led to some complacency . . . so I like the idea now, I think there, might be more Jameses out there.”

– – –

The Washington Post’s Liz Weber contributed to this report.

Categories: Denver Boulder News

Rockslide closes road in Dinosaur National Monument, no injuries reported

Denver Post - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 20:17
National Park ServiceRock slide closes road in Dinosaur National Monument.

A rockslide has closed a section of Colorado roadway in Dinosaur National Monument.

The slide in the Plug Hat Butte area has closed the Harpers Corner Road between the monument headquarters near Dinosaur and Moffat County Road 16, according to a National Park Service news release.

There is no estimated reopening time, the release stated.

The slide does not effect the Dinosaur Quarry area on the Utah side of Dinosaur National Monument.

There were no reports of injuries from the slide. Crews are working on removing the debris and reopening the roadway.

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CU Buffs basketball adds home-and-home series against Kansas

Denver Post - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 20:08

Another date has been filled for Colorado basketball’s 2019-20 nonconference schedule, and it’s one that will test a Buffaloes team with high expectations in the short term while also providing long-term benefits within the Pac-12 Conference’s new scheduling guidelines.

Though CU has yet to announce its full, official nonconference schedule, the University of Kansas announced its nonconference schedule on Monday with a date between the Jayhawks and CU set for Dec. 7 at Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse.

It will be the first match of a home-and-home series against KU, with the Jayhawks visiting the CU Events Center in the 2020-21 season.

Once again Kansas is expected to be a unanimous preseason top-10 choice, despite a relatively down year that saw the Jayhawks lose in the second round of the NCAA Tournament while also watching the program’s run of 14 consecutive regular-season conference titles come to an end. KU received a couple of bits of good news in recent weeks, with point guard Devon Dotson withdrawing from the NBA draft pool to return for his sophomore season and the NCAA reinstating the eligibility of Silvio De Sousa.

De Sousa, a 6-foot-9 forward, was part of KU’s 2018 Final Four team and scored a career-high 16 points in the 2018 Big 12 Conference tournament title game.

CU head coach Tad Boyle played at KU in the mid-1980s, and his program last faced the Jayhawks in each of the first two seasons after the Buffs left the Big 12. The teams’ most recent meeting also was on Dec. 7 in 2013, when Askia Booker’s long-range heave at the buzzer gave the Buffs a 75-72 win and ended Kansas’ 19-game winning streak against CU.

The date against KU fills another slot on a 2019-20 nonconference schedule that is nearly complete, and it likely ends the away-from-home portion of the Buffs’ slate. CU will take on Pac-12 rival Arizona State in the league’s annual game in China in a contest that will be played as a nonconference date, and the Buffs have an NIT rematch against Dayton in the Chicago Legends doubleheader on Dec. 21.

CU will play four games in the MGM Resorts Main Event ahead of Thanksgiving, with two games in Las Vegas and two home games still to be announced. The Buffs also will host San Diego while visiting Colorado State.

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The home-and-home series will provide an early boost for Boyle’s program in regards to the new Pac-12 scheduling standards approved two weeks ago.

Going forward, Pac-12 schools will be required to compile nonconference schedules that have a five-year trailing average of 175 in the NCAA’s NET rankings. The Buffs’ nonconference slate last year, in which a road date at San Diego arguably was the toughest on the ledger, wouldn’t have made the cut with an average NET of 205.4.

With the addition of Kansas, next season’s five confirmed  opponents boast an average final 2018-19 NET of 88, and that doesn’t include possible dates in Las Vegas against Clemson (45 NET) and TCU (47). The return visit by Kansas the following year also will pad CU’s five-year trailing average.

Categories: Denver Boulder News

Rockies select UCLA first baseman Michael Toglia with No. 23 overall pick in 2019 MLB Draft

Denver Post - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 19:43

The Rockies selected UCLA’s Michael Toglia with the No. 23 overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft on Monday, the second straight season Colorado has picked up a first baseman in the first round.

Toglia, who was selected in the 35th round of the 2016 draft by Colorado before going on to play for the Bruins, is 6-foot-5 with raw power. The switch-hitter batted .319 with 16 homers and 60 RBIs for Bruins this season, and at 20-years-old, is one of the youngest college juniors in the country.

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The Gig Harbor, Washington, native is also athletic enough to man one of the corner outfield spots, and played in the prestigious Cape Cod League the past couple summers. He was an All-Pac-12 selection in 2018, a season in which he was the lone Bruin to start and play in all 59 games.

A slow start to Toglia’s junior campaign led his draft stock to fall slightly, as MLB Pipeline labeled him a “streaky hitter” but also noted that he’s “rare college bat with projection” should his approach become a bit more refined. He progressed quickly up the hitting learning curve in his three seasons in Los Angeles, where he immediately made his presence felt in 2016 with Freshman All-American honors by Collegiate Baseball.

Toglia’s athletic build and strong arm (rated as high as 60 on an 80-grade scale) gives him plenty of upside with the glove, especially for a Colorado organization with a track record of developing defensive versatility. That — in combination with his potential to develop into a heart-of-the-order, switch-hitting bat — perhaps swayed Colorado in his favor over the number of other college bats they were seriously scouting.

Last year, Colorado took prep first baseman Grant Lavigne in the first round at No. 42 after selecting Ole Miss southpaw Ryan Rolison No. 22 overall. The approximate value of Colorado’s selection of Toglia this season is $2.93 million, per MLB Pipeline. Colorado hadn’t selected a first baseman with its first selection in the draft since Todd Helton in 1995.

Categories: Denver Boulder News

California governor denies parole to Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten

Denver Post - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 19:40

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom overruled a parole board’s decision to free Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten on Monday, marking the third time a governor has stopped the release of the youngest member of Manson’s murderous cult.

Van Houten, 69, is still a threat, Newsom said, though she has spent nearly half a century behind bars and received reports of good behavior and testimonials about her rehabilitation.

“While I commend Ms. Van Houten for her efforts at rehabilitation and acknowledge her youth at the time of the crimes, I am concerned about her role in these killings and her potential for future violence,” he wrote in his decision. “Ms. Van Houten was an eager participant in the killing of the LaBiancas and played a significant role.”

Van Houten was 19 when she and other cult members stabbed to death wealthy Los Angeles grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, in August 1969. She said they carved up Leno LaBianca’s body and smeared the couple’s blood on the walls.

The slayings came the day after other Manson followers, not including Van Houten, killed pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others in violence that spread fear throughout Los Angeles and riveted the nation.

No one who took part in the Tate-LaBianca murders has been released from prison. It was the first time Newsom rejected parole for Van Houten, while former Gov. Jerry Brown denied her release twice.

“Nobody wants to put their name on her release, but when they’re speaking honestly or off the record, everyone wants her to go home,” said Van Houten’s attorney, Rich Pfeiffer.

Newsom is “going to have more political aspirations that go well beyond the state of California, and he doesn’t want this tagging behind him,” he added. “Not a surprise. I would have been shocked if he would have said ‘Go home.'”

Earlier this year, Newsom reversed a parole recommendation to free Manson follower Robert Beausoleil for an unrelated murder. Beausoleil was convicted of killing musician Gary Hinman.

Newsom’s decision on Van Houten outlined her participation in graphic detail, noting that after the killings, she “drank chocolate milk from the LaBiancas’ refrigerator” before fleeing.

“The gruesome crimes perpetuated by Ms. Van Houten and other Manson Family members in an attempt to incite social chaos continue to inspire fear to this day,” Newsom wrote.

Van Houten is still minimizing her responsibility and Manson’s “violent and controlling actions,” he said, and she continues to lack insight into her reasons for participating.

Van Houten’s lawyer said in January after her latest release recommendation that the parole board found she had taken full responsibility for her role in the killings.

“She chose to go with Manson,” Pfeiffer said. “She chose to listen to him. And she acknowledges that.”

Van Houten has described a troubled childhood that led her to use drugs and hang around with outcasts. When she was 17, she and a boyfriend ran away to San Francisco during the so-called Summer of Love in 1967.

She later encountered Manson while traveling the coast. Manson had holed up with his “family” at an abandoned movie ranch on the outskirts of Los Angeles when he launched a plan to spark a race war by committing a series of random, terrifying murders.

Brown rejected parole for Van Houten in 2017 because he said she still blamed the cult leader too much for the murders. A Los Angeles Superior Court judge upheld Brown’s decision last year, finding that Van Houten posed “an unreasonable risk of danger to society.”

An appeals court will decide whether to uphold or reject that ruling by the end of July.

“No governor’s ever going to let her out,” said Pfeiffer, Van Houten’s attorney who’s pinning his hopes on the appeals court. “They are bound by law to enforce the law independently. They have to do it whether or not it’s popular with the public … and the law is that she should be released.”

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Manson and his followers were sentenced to death in 1971, though those punishments were commuted to life in prison after the California Supreme Court ruled capital punishment unconstitutional in 1972. Van Houten’s case was overturned on appeal and she was later convicted and sentenced to seven years to life in prison.

Tate’s sister, Debra Tate, has routinely shown up to parole and court hearings to oppose the release of any Manson follower. Even though Van Houten didn’t take part in her sister’s murder, Tate said she didn’t deserve release under any circumstances.

Supporters of Van Houten said she had been a model prisoner who mentored dozens of inmates and helped them come to terms with their crimes.

Manson died in 2017 of natural causes at a California hospital while serving a life sentence.

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