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Sports digest 2/14/02

Thursday, February 14, 2002

Auto racing

  • Bill Simpson said all he wanted was an apology. Now he's taking NASCAR to court.

    The former owner of Simpson Performance Products sued NASCAR on Wednesday, claiming it wrongly blamed his company's seat belt for Dale Earnhardt's death a year ago.

    He said he would not have filed the suit had NASCAR apologized.

    "It was not a money issue. It was just an apology," said Simpson, who filed an $8.5 million defamation of character suit in Marion County Superior Court four days before NASCAR's biggest event, the Daytona 500.

    "That's what we tried to get (Tuesday). We went all day long. And that was not going to happen," he said.


  • The St. Louis Cardinals agreed to a $1.75 million, one-year contract with utility player Placido Polanco, avoiding a salary arbitration hearing that was scheduled for next week.

    Polanco, 26, had asked for $2.1 million and had been offered $1.5 million. He made $320,000 last year and was eligible for arbitration for the first time.

    Polanco last season hit .307, scored 87 runs and had 173 hits in 144 games, starting 92 games at third base.

    The Cardinals also said they reached one-year deals with infielder Luis Garcia, outfielder Kerry Robinson, catcher Keith McDonald and pitchers Chance Caple, Mike Crudale, Kevin Joseph, Jimmy Journell, Jeremy Lambert, Scotty Layfield, Josh Pearce and Les Walrond.

    Rickey Henderson and the Boston Red Sox reached agreement on a minor league contract Wednesday, giving baseball's career leader in runs, stolen bases and walks a chance to play his 24th season in the majors.

    If Henderson makes the Red Sox, the 43-year-old outfielder is expected to back up Manny Ramirez in left and be a part-time DH. If Henderson is not on the major league roster by March 28, he could become a free agent.

    Last year, Henderson batted .227 with eight home runs and 42 RBIs with the San Diego Padres.


  • The Chicago Bears will sell personal seat licenses in their refurbished stadium for as much as $10,000, the team has announced.

    At that price, the best 50-yard-line seats at Soldier Field will be second in the NFL only to the $16,000 high-end personal seat licenses sold by the Oakland Raiders. The one-time expense for reserved seats will be as low as $900 for licenses in the end zone sections.

    The $10,000 seats will make up 1 percent of the 61,500 capacity.

    The second-highest class of seat licenses will cost $5,300 each, and license prices descend from there. Fans who hold season tickets get a 15 percent discount on all seat licenses.

    Quarterback Jay Fiedler decided against testing the free-agent market and instead signed a five-year contract to remain with the Miami Dolphins.

    The deal through 2006 was announced Wednesday.

    Had Fiedler pursued free agency, the Dolphins could have kept him by matching any offer.

    Fiedler, 30, is 21-10 in two seasons as the Dolphins' starter and has led them to the playoffs each year.

    -- From staff, wire reports

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