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NEW YORK (AP) -- All those who marvel at Miguel Cabrera can only wonder what he might've done this year if completely healthy.

Even so, Cabrera was a huge hit in Motown.

Despite being hobbled by all sorts of ailments, the Detroit Tigers slugger won his second straight American League Most Valuable Player award Thursday, once again beating Angels outfielder Mike Trout by a comfortable margin.

A season after winning baseball's first Triple Crown in 45 years, Cabrera came back to lead the majors in hitting at .348 and finish second with 44 home runs and 137 RBIs.

"I think this year was tougher because of the injuries," he said on a conference call from the Miami area.

"It was the last two months. It was tough to play through it," he said.

The eight-time All-Star missed several games after the break because of a bad back, a sore left hip flexor, a strained lower abdomen, shin trouble and a groin tear. He recently had surgery to fix the tear and said he'll be ready for spring training.

Still, Cabrera got 23 of 30 first-place votes from members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. He became the first player to win consecutive AL MVPs since Frank Thomas for the Chicago White Sox in 1993 and 1994.

Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen took the NL MVP by a surprisingly wide margin after leading a baseball revival in Pittsburgh.

McCutchen drew 28 of the 30 first-place votes to finish far ahead of Arizona first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina.

"I'm floating right now," McCutchen said in Pittsburgh. "But I definitely didn't expect it to be a landslide with those other guys - Goldschmidt and Molina. They were great candidates and I didn't know what to expect."

McCutchen ranked among the NL leaders by hitting .317 with 21 home runs and 84 RBIs. He also scored 97 runs, stole 27 bases and had a .404 on-base percentage.

The 27-year-old with the long, flowing dreadlocks helped the Pirates stop a record streak of 20 losing seasons and make the playoffs for the first time since 1992.

Cabrera finished with 385 points, while Trout got five first-place votes and 282 points. The difference was 81 points last season, when Trout was AL Rookie of the Year.

Baltimore first baseman Chris Davis, who led the majors with 53 homers and 138 RBIs, was third.

"I think all three guys deserve this trophy," Cabrera said.

Davis and Oakland third baseman Josh Donaldson each received a first-place vote.

Cabrera took his third AL batting title in a row. He also drew a $1 million bonus for winning a second MVP during his current contract with the Tigers.

No AL player has won three straight MVPs. Albert Pujols was the last repeat NL MVP winner in 2008 and 2009; Barry Bonds took four straight from 2001-04.

The Tigers have virtually owned the major postseason awards during a three-year run of success. Justin Verlander was the MVP and Cy Young winner in 2011, Cabrera took the MVP last season and Detroit ace Max Scherzer won this year's Cy Young Award on Wednesday.

"I'm on the right team," Cabrera said.

The 30-year-old third baseman from Venezuela also captured the AL MVP last year when he hit .330 with 44 homers and 139 RBIs. Cabrera topped Trout 22-6 in first-place votes in that balloting.

Trout hit .323 with 27 homers and 97 RBIs this year, stole 33 bases and led the AL in runs and walks.

Cabrera clearly was baseball's most dominant hitter for most of the season as the Tigers won their third straight AL Central crown.

Voting for the BBWAA awards was done before the playoffs. Cabrera hit .262 with two homers and seven RBIs in 11 postseason games, and made a couple of key outs in Detroit's six-game loss to Boston in the AL championship series.

Cabrera was in contention for a second straight Triple Crown for much of the year, and was hitting .359 with 43 homers and 130 RBIs through Aug. 26. But he managed only two extra-base hits in his next 25 games through the end of the regular season.

Cabrera said he didn't think rest would have helped heal his injuries near the end.

Instead, he took a different approach: "OK, let's play through it and see what happens," he said.

Cabrera still became the first right-handed hitter to win three straight batting titles in either league since Rogers Hornsby in 1920-25.

Cabrera also kept amazing his teammates with his prowess at the plate.

In mid-August, he homered in all three games of a series at Yankee Stadium, twice connecting off career saves leader Mariano Rivera.

His shot in the opener was the most impressive, even though Detroit eventually lost. After fouling two balls off his left shin, Cabrera was having trouble standing in the batter's box when he tagged Rivera for a tying, two-run drive with two outs in the ninth inning.

Cabrera had bedeviled the Yankees before. As a 20-year-old rookie, he helped the Marlins beat New York in the 2003 World Series.

McCutchen, third in MVP balloting last season, got 409 points. Goldschmidt finished second with 242, while Molina received the other two first-place votes and came in third.

McCutchen's win came two days after Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was picked as the NL Manager of the Year. McCutchen was the first Pittsburgh player to win the MVP since Bonds in 1992.

The Pirates went 94-68 this year, a season after going 79-83. Along the way, McCutchen became the face of the franchise and heard loud "MVP!" chants when he would step to the plate at PNC Park this summer.

"I'd lie to you if I said it didn't enter my mind ever," he said. "It's awesome to hear something like that."

Pittsburgh beat Cincinnati in the NL wild-card game, then lost to St. Louis in a division series that went the full five games.

Thursday, 14 November 2013 23:21
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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Alexander Steen scored his league-leading 15th and 16th goals and the St. Louis Blues' slumping power play woke up with three goals in a 7-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night.

St. Louis has won seven of nine and is off to the fastest start in franchise history with 12 wins in its first 17 games.

Colorado lost back-to-back contests for the first time this season.

Derek Roy, David Backes, Vladimir Tarasenko, Chris Stewart and Jay Bouwmeester also scored for the Blues, who have won their last five home meetings with the Avalanche.

T.J. Oshie added four assists for the first four-point game of his career.

The Blues were 3 for 4 on the power play, breaking out of a 1-for-15 skid that spanned the previous five-plus games.

Steen, who pushed the lead to 3-1 with his first goal at 7:16 of the second period, has a point in 12 successive games, a career high.

St. Louis goalie Jaroslav Halak improved to 10-2-2.

Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly scored for Colorado, which lost 2-1 at Carolina on Tuesday.

Avalanche goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere lost for the first time this season after winning his first five starts. He was pulled in the second period after allowing three goals on 14 shots, but re-entered at the start of the third. Giguere, who gave up five goals on 165 shots in his first five games, was looking to become the first Colorado goalie to begin the season 6-0.

The Blues scored four times in a span of 11:50 in the second period to break open a 1-1 game.

Backes put his team ahead to stay 2-1 with a power play goal 2:49 in the second period. He jumped on a rebound at the side of the net off a shot from Roy.

Roy, who added two assists, got the St. Louis attack started with a power play goal just 1:54 into the game. It was the first man-advantage goal given up by Colorado on the road this season. The Avalanche were 20 for 20 on kills over their first seven road games.

The Blues have scored first in their last nine games.

NOTES: The Blues signed D Carlo Colaiacovo to a one year free-agent contract. He was not in uniform on Thursday. ... The Avalanche had given up two goals or less in nine of their previous 10 games. ... The Blues had 10 shots or more in their last eight periods. ... The game featured three fights in the second period after the Blues took control.

Thursday, 14 November 2013 23:19
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WASHINGTON (AP) - State insurance commissioners are voicing serious concerns about President Barack Obama's plan to stave off cancellations for people whose individual policies don't comply with the new health care law.

 

   In a statement Thursday, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners warned that the president's decision could undermine the new insurance markets being created under his overhaul law.

 

   Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon, president of the group, said Obama's proposal could lead to higher premiums and market disruptions next year and beyond. It may also be unworkable as a practical matter.

 

   A Republican, Donelon was speaking on behalf of the organization.

 

   ------

 

   Bowing to pressure, President Barack Obama on Thursday announced changes to his health care law to give insurance companies the option to keep offering consumers plans that would otherwise be canceled.

 

   The administrative changes are good for just one year, though senior administration officials said they could be extended if problems with the law persist. Obama announced the changes at the White House.

 

   "This fix won't solve every problem for every person, but it's going to help a lot of people," the president said.

 

   He acknowledged that "we fumbled the rollout of this health care law" and pledged to "just keep on chipping away at this until the job is done."

 

   He also promised to work to regain the trust of the American people.

 

   "I think it's legitimate for them to expect me to have to win back some credibility on this health care law in particular and on a whole range of these issues in general," he said.

 

   Obama has been under enormous pressure from congressional Democrats to give ground on the cancellation issue under the health care overhaul, a program likely to be at the center of next year's midterm elections for control of the House and Senate.

 

   It's unclear what the impact of Thursday's changes will be for the millions of people who have already had their plans canceled. While officials said insurance companies will now be able to offer those people the option to renew their old plans, companies are not required to take that step.

 

   The main industry trade group, America's Health Insurance Plans, said Obama's offer comes too late and could lead to higher premiums, since companies already have set 2014 rates based on the assumption that many people with individual coverage will shift over to the new markets created under Obama's law.

   Karen Ignagni, president of the industry group, didn't speculate on whether companies would extend coverage for those threatened with cancellation, but warned in a statement that "changing the rules after health plans have already met the requirements of the law could destabilize the market and result in higher premiums for consumers."

   Insurance companies will be required to inform consumers who want to keep canceled plans about the protections that are not included under those plans. Customers will also be notified that new options are available offering more coverage and in some cases, tax credits to cover higher premiums.

 

   Under Obama's plan, insurance companies would not be allowed to sell coverage deemed subpar under the law to new customers, marking a difference with legislation that House Republicans intend to put to a vote on Friday.

 

   Only last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told a Senate panel she doubted that retroactively permitting insurers to sell canceled policies "can work very well since companies are now in the market with an array of new plans. Many have actually added consumer protections in the last three-and-a-half years."

 

   Republicans were unimpressed with the changes.

 

   House Speaker John Boehner, speaking in advance of the president's announcement, insisted it was time to "scrap this law once and for all."

 

   "You can't fix this government-run health care plan called Obamacare ," he said. "It's just not fixable."

 

   Obama, for his part, made clear he would continue to fight ongoing attempts to sink the whole program, saying, "I will not accept proposals that are just another brazen attempt to undermine or repeal the overall law and drag us back into a broken system."

 

   "We're going to solve the problems that are there, we're going to get it right, and the Affordable Care Act is going to work for the American people," he pledged.

 

   While the White House deals with the cancellation issue, the administration is also promising improvements in a federal website so balky that enrollments totaled fewer than 27,000 in October in 36 states combined. The administration had said in advance the enrollment numbers would fall far short of initial expectations. After weeks of highly publicized technical woes, they did.

 

   Adding in enrollment of more than 79,000 in the 14 states with their own websites, the nationwide number of 106,000 October sign-ups was barely one-fifth of what officials had projected - and a small fraction of the millions who have received private coverage cancellations as a result of the federal law.

 

   The administration said an additional 1 million people have been found eligible to buy coverage in the markets, with about one-third qualifying for tax credits to reduce their premiums. Another 396,000 have been found eligible for Medicaid, which covers low-income people.

 

   Administration officials and senior congressional Democrats expressed confidence in the program's future. "We expect enrollment will grow substantially throughout the next five months," said Sebelius, who is in charge of the program.

 

   "Even with the issues we've had, the marketplace is working and people are enrolling," she added.

 

   Despite the expressions, the White House worked to reassure anxious Democrats who are worried about the controversial program, which they voted into existence three years ago over Republican opposition as strong now as it was then.

 

   Obama said he regretted the political grief he'd caused members of his own party who'd backed him on the health care law.

 

   "There is no doubt that our failure to roll out the Affordable Care Act smoothly has put a burden on Democrats, whether they're running or not, because they stood up and supported this effort through thick and thin," he said.

 

   Senate Democrats arranged a closed-door meeting for midday Thursday in the Capitol with White House officials, who held a similar session Wednesday with the House rank and file. Ahead of that meeting, Obama planned to speak from the White House about new efforts to help Americans receiving insurance cancellation notices.

 

   So far, five Senate Democrats are on record in support of legislation by Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., to make sure everyone can keep their present coverage if they want to. The bill would require insurance companies to continue offering existing policies, even if they fall short of minimum coverage requirements in the law.

 

   The measure has little apparent chance at passage, given that it imposes a new mandate on the insurance industry that Republicans will be reluctant to accept.

 

   At the same time, a vote would at least permit Democrats to say they have voted to repair some of the problems associated with the Affordable Care Act, as many appear eager to do.

 

   In a statement, Landrieu said Sens. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mark Pryor of Arkansas were now supporting the legislation, as is Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California. All but Feinstein are on the ballot next year.

 

   Across the Capitol, majority Republicans in the House set a vote for Friday on legislation to permit insurance companies to continue selling existing policies that have been ordered scrapped because they fall short of coverage standards in the law.

 

   While House passage of the measure is assured, each Democrat will be forced to cast a vote on the future of a program that Republicans have vowed to place at the center of next year's campaign.

 

   Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania, who voted for the initial Obama health care bill, said Thursday that members of his caucus want an opportunity to go on the record in support of allowing people to keep the insurance they had.

 

   Doyle told MSNBC in an interview that at a White House meeting Wednesday, House Democrats told Obama about "the frustration level that many of us have" with the health care roll-out.

 

   Doyle said Democrats warned Obama that "if you don't give us something by Friday" to fix the insurance cancellation problem, then many Democrats are likely to vote for the pending House bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, which would accomplish that goal.

 

   The promise of keeping coverage was Obama's oft-stated pledge when the legislation was under consideration, a calling card since shredded by the millions of cancellations mailed out by insurers.

 

   Obama apologized last week for the broken promise, but aides said at the time the White House was only considering administration changes, rather than new legislation.

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Governor Nixon was on hand for the grand opening of a high-tech bioscience research company in the Central West End. Cofactor Genomics celebrated the opening of their $3.8 million dollar headquarters at the corner of Clayton and Sarah Streets. Jarret Glasscock is the CEO and founder, and he says the biotechnology industry is key to improving the St. Louis work force.

"We're hiring individuals and talent that is considering being on the west coast or the east coast and that's the talent we're competing for" said Nixon. "So as we continue to invest in this area and we gain that reputation, it becomes easier.  It's like a snowball effect, getting more talent here. So that's what we're hoping to have."

As part of the 10,000 squat foot expansion, Cofactor plans on hiring 24 new employees. 

Thursday, 14 November 2013 16:37
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