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Kicker Adam Vinatieri, NFL’s all-time leading scorer, retiring after 24 seasons

Kicker Adam Vinatieri, the NFL’s all-time scoring leader, revealed Wednesday on “The Pat McAfee Show” that he is retiring after 24 seasons.

“By Friday, if paperwork goes in, you heard it here first,” Vinatieri told McAfee, his friend and former teammate with the Indianapolis Colts.

Vinatieri, 48, a three-time Pro Bowl selection and a first-team All-Pro pick three times, scored 2,673 points and made a record 599 field goals for the New England Patriots and Indianapolis, where he played his final 14 seasons.

He made 29 game-winning kicks in his career, with three of them coming with the Patriots from 1996 to 2005. He made a game winner in blizzard-like conditions versus Oakland in the 2001 AFC playoffs and made game-winning field goals in Super Bowls XXXVI and XXXVIII. No kicker has more Super Bowl rings than Vinatieri’s four — three with the Patriots and one with the Colts.

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“Adam Vinatieri is the greatest kicker of all-time who made the greatest kick of all-time in the 2001 divisional playoffs,” Pats head coach Bill Belichick said in a statement. “His consistency, mental toughness and performance under pressure was legendary. I am honored to have coached Adam, going all the way back to his rookie year in 1996 and through some of the most special moments in Patriots and league history. Adam is in the rarest of echelon of athletes whose career accomplishments may never be matched.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, who played with Vinatieri from 2000-05, took to Instagram to salute Vinatieri, writing, “When you look up clutch in the dictionary it should have your picture. An incredible teammate with an incredible work ethic. Honored to have played with the (GOAT).”

Vinatieri was part of 242 regular-season victories, and he broke career records for field goal attempts (715) while becoming the third-oldest player to appear in an NFL game. He scored points in 47 different stadiums, too. Vinatieri played in six AFC Championship Games, five Super Bowls and a record 397 matches including the playoffs. He also was selected to the NFL’s 100th anniversary team.

His 21 100-point seasons shattered the previous mark of 16.

He made a league-record 10 game-winning kicks in overtime. He holds the league mark for consecutive field goals (44), and nobody has been better in the postseason, in which he was 56 of 69 on field goal attempts and has 238 points, all records.

Vinatieri also played in 365 regular-season games, second behind Morten Andersen (382), and is the only player in league history to top the 1,000-point mark with two different franchises.

Vinatieri also managed to chase down Herschel Walker with a textbook, touchdown-saving tackle in 1996. Vinatieri didn’t play last season after a disappointing 2019 season.

He was placed on injured reserve in December 2019 after a season-long knee injury that started in training camp. The Colts stuck with Vinatieri even though he made a career-low 68% of his field goal attempts that season.

He missed a total of 14 kicks: eight field goals and six extra points, and two of his misses cost the team victories versus the Los Angeles Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers. He also had three kicks blocked in 2019, including one that was returned 63 yards for a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans in Week 13.

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McCullers throws 7 scoreless, Astros beat Giants 6-4

Lance McCullers Jr. pitched no-hit ball into the seventh inning, Michael Brantley and Carlos Correa drove in two runs each and the Houston Astros snapped a five-game skid with a 6-4 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Monday night.

McCullers (2-1) bounced back from one of the worst performances of his career with a gem where he permitted one hit and struck out five in seven scoreless innings. The 26-year-old tied a career high by allowing eight runs in just 3 2/3 innings of a 14-7 loss at Arizona his last time out.

His only hit Monday came to 15 games with a grounder down the third base line that rolled just out of reach of Alex Bregman for a double with one out in the seventh.

The Astros got back in the win column a day after an ugly 7-2 loss to the Athletics that was marred by a benches-clearing fight that could lead to the suspension of hitting coach Alex Cintrón.

Cintrón was yelling at Oakland’s Ramón Laureano before the A’s outfielder charged Houston’s dugout, leading to the team’s second such incident this season after the Astros also got into with the Dodgers. San Francisco rookie starter Logan Webb (1-1) permitted four hits and five runs — only two earned because of two errors — in 3 1/3 innings.

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The Giants got things going on offense after McCullers left the game. Austin Slater had a solo shot off Josh James that made it 6-1 in the eighth inning.

Solano chased James on an RBI double with no outs in the ninth.

Ryan Pressly retired the next two batters before the Giants cut it to 6-3 on a run-scoring single by Brandon Crawford. Slater hit an RBI single before Pressly retired pinch-hitter Evan Longoria to get his first save.

Bregman was by Solano’s throw home while trying to score on Yuli Gurriel’s grounder in the third. The ball bounced off Bregman, glanced off catcher Chadwick Tromp’s mask and rolled away, allowing Bregman to score.

McCullers, who missed last season after Tommy John surgery, retired his first six batters before plunking Slater on the leg to start the third inning. He helped himself out with a nifty defensive play to end that inning when he ran to cover first base on a grounder hit by Mike Yastrzemski, made an off-balance catch and tagged Yastrzemski before falling to the dirt.

Martín Maldonado snapped a 0-for-13 slump when he connected off Conner Menez for a solo homer to the seats in right field to start Houston’s sixth and make it 6-0.

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Athletics to have furloughs, salary cuts

The Oakland Athletics, feeling the financial crunch of a 2020 season that has yet to get off the ground, have implemented a system of furloughs and salary reductions that will impact the majority of their baseball-operations department, sources told ESPN on Tuesday.

Professional scouts will be furloughed next week and amateur scouts will be furloughed shortly after the June 10-11 draft. In addition, about three-quarters of the A’s player-development staff is said to be bracing for furloughs, which typically run through the end of October, industry sources said. Layoffs have not been implemented, but baseball-operations employees who were not furloughed will face pay reductions.

The A’s also informed minor league players on Tuesday that they would not continue paying them $400 a week after the end of the month, sources familiar with the situation told ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

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“Baseball is more than a job — it is a way of life,” Athletics owner John Fisher wrote in a letter to fans and staff. “People who work for our team are our family — our very foundation — and they work tirelessly to help the A’s compete in this most precious game. COVID-19 has brought a tragic loss of life and sickness to so many in our community, and it has impacted us all in ways we could have never imagined. Our organization, like so many others across the country, has had to make tough and painful decisions.”

The A’s are apparently past due on the annual $1.2 million rent payment for their stadium.

They joined the Los Angeles Angels and the Miami Marlins among teams that have instituted wide-ranging furloughs as a cost-cutting measure amid the financial difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, however, will instead implement a system of tiered salary cuts for those making more than $75,000, sources told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.

Major League Baseball presented its first economic proposal to the MLB Players Association on Tuesday, marking the beginning of what is expected to be a prolonged, contentious negotiation. The hope is that both sides can come to an agreement so that the regular season can start in early July, though matches will be played without fans.

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