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Joel Auerbach/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- The Houston Astros and starting pitcher Justin Verlander have agreed to a two year, $66 million dollar extension, sources tell ESPN.

The 36-year old right hander went 16-9 with a 2.52 ERA last season and finished second in the American League CY Young race.

Verlander was traded to the team from Detroit at the end of August 2017 and helped lead the team to their first ever World Series Championship.

He went 5-0 in his five starts at the end of the 2017 regular season and won an additional four games in the postseason.

The 2011 AL MVP and CY Young award winner is entering his 15th season. He has a 204-123 record with a 3.39 ERA in his career.

Houston begins their 2019 season on the road next Thursday against Tampa Bay.

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Maddie Meyer/Getty Images(BOSTON) -- Robert Kraft, the owner of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, said in a statement on Saturday that he is "truly sorry" for getting caught up in an investigation into sex trafficking arising from his visits to a Florida spa, where authorities charge he twice solicited sexual favors for money earlier this year.

“I am truly sorry," Kraft wrote in the statement. "I know I have hurt and disappointed my family, my close friends, my co-workers, our fans and many others who rightfully hold me to a higher standard."

Kraft also described his "extraordinary respect for women" and cited the spirit of his late wife, Myra Kraft, who died in 2011 of ovarian cancer after 48 years of marriage.

“Throughout my life, I have always tried to do the right thing. The last thing I would ever want to do is disrespect another human being. I have extraordinary respect for women; my morals and my soul were shaped by the most wonderful woman, the love of my life, who I was blessed to have as my partner for 50 years."

“As I move forward, I hope to continue to use the platform with which I have been blessed to help others and to try to make a difference. I expect to be judged not by my words, but by my actions. And through those actions, I hope to regain your confidence and respect.”

Kraft has been charged by Palm Beach prosecutors with two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution for allegedly visiting the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida on two occasions earlier this year and paying for sexual favors from the massage parlor’s staff. Two dozen other men caught up in the probe were similarly charged.

Authorities set up hidden cameras at the spa as part of a larger investigation into sex trafficking and, according to Jupiter police detectives, obtained video evidence of all of the suspects participating in the alleged sexual acts.

Kraft chose to reject a deferred prosecution agreement offered this week to all of the men charged, which would not have required him to plead guilty to any charges, a source close to Kraft told ABC News on Wednesday.

Kraft's attorneys have been engaged in negotiations with the Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office for much of this week, sources told ABC News, though it does not appear that any deal has been reached to date.

Defense attorneys for the National Football League (NFL) team owner reportedly believe that a search warrant that allowed investigators to install hidden cameras inside the spa's massage rooms was improperly obtained, and note among other things that an investigation premised on probing alleged human trafficking at the Orchids spa has yet to lead to any trafficking charges.

"We have looked into it, we've looked at the charges brought, looked at the evidence, and there is zero evidence of human trafficking," defense attorney William Burck told the New York Times.

The billionaire team owner has reportedly been deeply distressed by the charges and the subsequent publicity.

Several unidentified friends of Kraft told the New York Times this weekend that even a month after being charged, he still "breaks down in tears when discussing the situation."

Triple threat

Since his name first surfaced last month in connection with the lengthy investigation into sex trafficking at Florida massage parlors, the veteran Patriots owner is facing a trio of threats -- drawing scrutiny from the courts, the NFL and the public at large.

If he is cleared of the criminal charges, he could still face censure from the NFL, and if he survives that, he still faces the possibility of potentially embarrassing video of himself at the massage parlor being leaked, or even publicly released under some potential outcomes.

The investigation involved dozens of law enforcement officials from numerous agencies as well their counterparts in criminal courts system. Access to such evidence is naturally more vulnerable to misuse the more hands it passes through, defense attorneys and law enforcement officials told ABC News this week.

Kraft's made his statement the day before the NFL team owners' annual gathering on Sunday in Phoenix -- a collection of peers whose judgment on Kraft's misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution charges could prove equally if not more impactful than any criminal court.

NFL Commissioner Roger Godell has punished Kraft's Patriots more severely than any other franchise during his tenure, according to ESPN. He fined them $250,000, and coach Bill Belichick $500,000, for spying on an opponent's defensive signals in 2007. He fined the Patriots $1 million, stripped them of two draft choices and suspended quarterback Tom Brady as part of the 2015 "Deflategate" investigation.

Even without pleading guilty, league policy states that Kraft could still subject to league penalties, according to ESPN.

"It is not enough simply to avoid being found guilty of a crime. We are all held to a higher standard and must conduct ourselves in a way that is responsible, promotes the values of the NFL, and is lawful."

Earlier this week, a coalition of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking survivor networks wrote a letter calling on Goodell to investigate criminal charges against Kraft and if found to be true to strip him of ownership of the Super Bowl champions franchise, according to a letter released by the coalition on Tuesday.

No deal

The proposed pre-trial diversion offer would have required Kraft to either acknowledge guilt or admit that he would have been proven guilty at trial, according to the spokesperson for the Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office, Mike Edmondson.

The Patriots team owner has pleaded not guilty and opted for a non-jury trial before a judge, while assembling a powerhouse team of high-profile Florida criminal defense attorneys.

While Kraft is currently facing a statutory maximum of one year in jail, if he were to have accepted the plea agreement, the misdemeanor charges would have been dropped.

As part of the statute, Kraft would have had to perform 100 hours of community service, attend a class on the dangers of prostitution and pay a $5,000 fine per count, according to Edmondson.

The deal was offered to Kraft and 24 other men charged in the case, though it remained unclear by Saturday if any of the men had accepted the deal.

Public records?

Depending on the outcome of the case, a key law enforcement figure in the investigation said he believes the alleged video evidence could eventually be publicized.

Earlier this week, lawyers for Kraft and 14 of the 24 other men charged in the investigation filed a joint motion seeking a protective order to keep evidence in the case from being released – including hidden camera video of the men in the massage parlor rooms.

But prosecutors “declined to agree to the protective order,” Kraft attorney William Burck told the New York Post.

“We’ve been surprised and disappointed that the state attorney did not sign on to the protective order, because it is a standard procedure in a criminal case.”

The Florida sheriff whose department is overseeing the multi-county investigation told CNBC this week that he expects the video evidence could eventually be released publicly.

“I do think ultimately they are probably going to get released,” Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said on Thursday, one day after Kraft’s attorneys filed the motion for the protective order over the evidence.

“Once a case is over, it’s not an ongoing investigation,” Snyder said. “There has to be a specific reason not to release a public record. And the fact that there is sexual activity is not an exemption.”

With the case ongoing, the video will remain under seal, Snyder told the financial news channel.

“The question is if they plead guilty and the case goes away, will it be subject to public record?” Snyder said. “I think the answer is yes."

The allegations against Kraft came three weeks after the Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams to win the team's sixth Super Bowl title.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Kraft's then-NFL record $172 million purchase of the Patriots in 1994.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- NCAA college basketball analyst Dick Vitale has a message for the NCAA selection committee: find a way to get more mid-major programs in the tournament.

"It's great to see the David's and the Goliath's," Vitale said in an exclusive conversation with ABC News before the NCAA Men’s Tournament began. The ESPN analyst discussed his advice for the NCAA, predictions, and recommended a recipe for family and friends watching the games.

"I think it would be a lot better if we had more of what I call 'David's' in the tournament. There are a lot of mid-major teams... that had great, great years that are not going to get in the tournament." He points to Hofstra as an example.

Teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Big Ten Conference (B1G), Big 12 Conference, Pac-12 Conference, and Southeastern Conference (SEC) are often recognized as Power Five schools. A mid-major team would come from a conference such as the Big Sky or MAAC. Hofstra, for example, is in the Colonial Conference.

Vitale argues with 15th- and 16th-seeded teams in recent years knocking off Power Five programs, such as University of Maryland - Baltimore County defeating Virginia in 2018, it is time to open up the field.

He believes mid-major teams who have better records than schools in Power Five conferences many times have a good of a chance of winning games and make the tournament even more exciting.

Citing Loyola University Chicago's 2018 Final Four appearance, Vitale says, “It makes people want to watch... fans who don't even follow the tournament wanted Loyola Chicago last year.”

Vitale warned against expanding the field beyond 68 teams, however, saying the 36 at-large bids are acceptable for the men’s tournament, but having only a handful of spots being granted to mid-majors is "just not fair."

As for who Vitale thinks will win the tournament, he is betting against the mid-major teams in this year’s March Madness:

"If Duke is healthy, and Zion Williamson is ready and all their players... they are the team to beat."

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Allen Kee / ESPN Images(ST. LOUIS) -- The St. Louis Cardinals are reportedly finalizing an extension that will keep Paul Goldschmidt in Missouri through 2024.

A source tells ESPN the five-year extension is for $130 million.

This season marks the final year of Goldschmidt’s current contract. The All-Star first baseman is poised to make $15.5 million this year.

Goldschmidt, 31, joined the Cardinals in December after being traded by the Arizona Diamondbacks, the team with whom he had played for his entire MLB career.

Last season with Arizona, he had a .290 batting average with 33 home runs and 83 RBIs.

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ABC/Kelsey McNeal(NEW YORK) -- Everyone was excited after one of Hollywood's favorite couples, Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez, made it official earlier this month and got engaged.

And "everyone" even included former President Barack Obama.

Obama sent a handwritten note to the couple, which the former MLB champion shared on Twitter early Friday morning.

This means the world to us.

— Alex Rodriguez (@AROD) March 22, 2019

"This means the world to us," the former New York Yankee wrote.

In the card, Obama penned some advice about facing whatever challenges life brings with someone you love.

A-Rod broke the news of the engagement two weeks ago on Instagram, sharing a picture of Lopez's ring with the caption, "She said yes."

J.Lo posted the same shot on her Instagram account for her 88 million followers to see.

The actress and retired New York Yankees legend began dating last winter and made their red carpet debut at the Met Gala later that year. They seem to have been inseparable ever since.

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iStock(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Thursday’s sports events:


Villanova 61, Saint Mary's (Cal) 57
Purdue 61, Old Dominion 48

Minnesota 86, Louisville 76
Michigan St. 76, Bradley 65
LSU 79, Yale 74
Maryland 79, Belmont 77

Gonzaga 87, Fairleigh Dickinson 49
Baylor 78, Syracuse 69
Florida St. 76, Vermont 69
Murray St. 83, Marquette 64
Florida 70, Nevada 61
Michigan 74, Montana 55


Kentucky 79, Abilene Christian 44
Wofford 84, Seton Hall 68
Auburn 78, New Mexico St. 77
Kansas 87, Northeastern 53

Charleston Southern 68, FAU 66
CS Bakersfield 66, Cal St.-Fullerton 58
Louisiana-Monroe 87, Kent St. 77
Hampton 81, St. Francis Brooklyn 72



St. Louis 11, NY Yankees 3
Pittsburgh 7,, Baltimore 5
Philadelphia 13, Toronto 6
Tampa Bay 8, Atlanta 1
Kansas City 14, Cincinnati 6
LA Angels 2, Arizona 1
Seattle 6, Cincinnati 3

Seattle 5, Oakland 4, 12 Innings
Detroit 5, Houston 3
Chi White Sox 12, Texas 2
Texas 7, Cleveland 3
Boston 8, Tampa Bay 0


NY Mets 6, Miami 0
San Francisco 5, Chi Cubs 5
Milwaukee 11, LA Dodgers 5
Washington 7, St. Louis 1

Denver 113, Washington 108
Charlotte 113, Minnesota 106
Atlanta 117, Utah 114
Sacramento 116, Dallas 100
Detroit 118, Phoenix 98
Golden State 112, Indiana 89

Tampa Bay 6, Carolina 3
Boston 5, New Jersey 1
Florida 4, Arizona 2
Montreal 4, NY Islanders 0
St. Louis 5, Detroit 2
SO Pittsburgh 2, Nashville 1
Colorado 3, Dallas 1
Philadelphia 3, Chicago 1
Edmonton 4, Columbus 1
Calgary 5, Ottawa 1
Vegas 5, Winnipeg 0
L.A. Kings 4, San Jose 2

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proBAKSTER/iStock(NEW YORK) -- An American figure skater has been accused of deliberately injuring a South Korean skater during practice ahead of the International Skating Union World Figure Skating Championships in Japan, but the skating union has said there was "no evidence" it was intentional.

The accusations were made about an incident between American skater Mariah Bell and South Korean skater Eun Soo Lim during practice on March 20.

According to Yonhap, South Korean sports agency All That Sports alleged that Bell "struck Lim's leg with her skate" before the ladies' short program, cutting Lim's calf. Yonhap reported that Lim had the cut taped before she performed.

An All That Sports official said they believed Bell hitting Lim was "premeditated" because Lim was skating near the walls and Bell "came from behind" when she cut her, Yonhap reported.

The official also claimed Bell "had been bullying Lim for months and launched a verbal attack" on her, according to Yonhap. The skaters have the same coach, Rafael Arutunian, per their bios.

ISU, which said the incident was "verbally reported" by the Korean team leader, disputed that the attack was intentional.

"Based on the evidence at hand at this point in time, which includes a video, there is no evidence that Ms. Bell intended any harm to Ms. Lim," ISU said in a statement.

Lim finished in fifth place and Bell finished in sixth in the ladies' short program.

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Masterpress/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Ichiro Suzuki is said to be retiring Thursday after nearly two decades in the MLB.

ESPN has confirmed that the 45-year-old right fielder told the Seattle Mariners of his plans to leave the sport after the team’s game against the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo.

Suzuki exited Thursday’s game in the eighth inning. He waved to the crowd in his native Japan, receiving a standing ovation, and hugged his teammates.

He finished the game 0-for-4, grounding out in his final at-bat.

Since making his MLB debut in 2001, Suzuki has amassed a .311 batting average with 3,089 hits, 117 home runs, 780 RBIs and 509 stolen bases.

He has been named an All-Star 10 times, won the Gold Glove award 10 times and was named both the American League MVP and Rookie of the Year in 2001.

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Tammy Fullum/iStock(PITTSBURGH) -- A wrestling coach is facing charges after he allegedly assaulted a player at a junior competition in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

A witness captured video of Eric Angle, 51, allegedly picking a young wrestler up by the neck and tossing him to the floor during the 2019 Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling Championships at the University of Pittsburgh on March 16.

Steve Hoover, chairperson of Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling, the organization that hosted the competition, confirmed the authenticity of the video to ABC News. He said the alleged victim is between 11 and 12 years old.

If this is what coach #EricAngle does to these kids he coaches in front 100's of people, imagine what he might be doing to them when no one is around.

— MakeLove (@MakeLoveMMA) March 20, 2019

“We immediately took action and [Angle] was ejected from the building,” Hoover told ABC News in a phone interview. “Eric has no affiliation with Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling nor has he ever been employed by us.”

Hoover said junior wrestlers bring their own coaches to the competition. They are often relatives of the competitors.

Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling is cooperating with authorities, according to Hoover.

Angle was arrested by University of Pittsburgh police and charged with simple assault, according to Joe Miksch, the director of media relations at the University of Pittsburgh.

The incident happened after the young wrestler lost a match, according to ABC News affiliate WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh.

"I should have just walked away and let him get thrown out," Angle told WTAE. "Instead, I'm the one who embarrassed myself even more."

Miksch did not confirm if Angle is the brother of pro wrestler and WWE star Kurt Angle.

Kurt Angle, a Pennsylvania native, has a brother named Eric who is also a pro wrestler and has appeared on WWE programming.

ABC News' efforts to reach Eric Angle were unsuccessful.

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ABC(NEW YORK) -- When Carolina Panthers fullback Alex Armah is on the field, his main job is to fight through tackles. He didn’t expect to be doing that to a stranger breaking into his car.

The 24-year-old NFL player, who comes in at 6-foot-2, 250 pounds, recently purchased the Owl Car Cam for his Dodge Charger. It’s a cloud-based security camera with a subscription service.

The camera, which mounts on the car’s dashboard, has both inward and outward facing cameras, like similar products on the market, and connects to an app. The app alerts the user’s phone if the user’s vehicle is in a crash, dented or broken into, even if the user is not inside or nearby.

In February, Armah said he got an “instant notification” on his phone from the Owl app and when he opened it, he said he watched in real-time as a stranger broke into his car. It was all captured on video through the camera.

“I see someone in my car, and that's when the adrenaline starts running,” he said.

Armah decided to run toward his car, where he saw the alleged thief trying to leave the premises.

Authorities say people should never apprehend a suspect themselves, but Armah said the alleged suspect tried to make a run for it. He said he caught up to him and restrained him with a grappling move called the “armbar.”

With the Owl Cam, Armah not only had footage of what the suspect looked like, but he also had a video of what appeared to be the suspect breaking into his car, which Armah was able to turn over to police.

“We have the guy's picture, we have what he was doing in my car… so it's really undisputed,” Armah said. “Literally caught red-handed.”

Armah, the son of an immigrant father from Ghana, said he bought a Dodge Charger with his first NFL paycheck. That car was just broken into in December, he said, so he decided then to invest in some security.

“I mean, windows shattered, glass hanging out on my paint, scraped up my side of my car,” he said. “You just feel very violated, and I felt like it's just disgusting to see your own property like that. Something you worked hard to get. You finally get it and someone physically went through your car, tampered with your personal items. You just feel very violated.”

The alleged thief that broke into Armah’s car was arrested and charged with breaking or entering into a motor vehicle. He was released on bond and is due in court later this month.

Andy Hodge, the founder and CEO of the company, said they have received positive feedback on their camera system.

 “We hear the story over and over again — where someone calls up the police and say, ‘Hey, my car got broken into, ‘Well we can't do much about that,’ 'I have video,' ‘Well the videos we get aren't very good. But then they send the video from the Owl Camera and the police say, ‘We've never seen video like this, we can see exactly who it is,” Hodge said.

Owl has been around for a couple of years and sells for $350 -- $250 for the camera and about $100 for the first year of service. Devices like Owl are part of a growing smart device market to catch would-be thieves in the act.

For Hodge, one story that has stuck with him of Owl helping a customer get out of a scary situation involved a woman who he said was named Jennifer.

“Two guys came up to her, said they had a gun,” he said. “She thought…to walk in front of the car, pulled the two of them in the range of the camera. She points at it, she says, ‘Do you really want to do this?’ And they back off. And in less than an hour, those two guys were both arrested.”

The company said they have seen people post their Owl videos on social media, using crowdsourcing to help identify alleged suspects.

“I definitely think it's going to be a huge advantage,” said Armah, who is not currently being sponsored by Owl. “[Criminals] will think twice for sure.”

Armah, Hodge and the authorities do not condone people going after alleged suspects themselves. If you see something happening with your car, call 911.

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