Fanfare 11/28/02

Thursday, November 28, 2002

Baseball

  • Jim Thome's decision may have gotten tougher after the Cleveland Indians improved their $60 million, five-year contract offer to the free agent first baseman.

    The Indians sent a revised proposal to Thome's agent, Pat Rooney, on Wednesday that includes some "variations" on a sixth option year from their previous package, a team source said on the condition of anonymity.

    The source said the Indians, who made what they said was their "final" offer on Monday, spent the past 24 hours trying to come up with a "more competitive offer."

    It is believed Cleveland's latest deal would allow Thome to reach some incentives more easily.

    Thome, also pursued by the Philadelphia Phillies, had hoped to finalize his decision by today. However, Cleveland's late push to re-sign its career home-run leader has delayed any decision until next week.

    Basketball

  • The Miami Sol folded Wednesday after three seasons in the WNBA, citing the inability to raise enough revenue to meet the league's new restructuring agreement.

    The WNBA assumed control of the franchise, and would not say whether the team will be moved or dissolved.

    The team's ownership, the Heat Group, said the WNBA's decision to place the responsibility of finding corporate sponsors and paying players' salaries with the individual teams forced the closure.

    Previously, the league paid the players and found most national corporate sponsors. The WNBA is owned collectively by NBA franchise owners.

    "That model will work well for the league with cities that have good corporate bases," said Eric Woolworth, Heat Group's president of business operations. "The model, ultimately in Miami, is not going to work."

    Woolworth said the Sol would be unable to raise enough local sponsorship revenue because Miami does not have a corporate base as large as other WNBA cities.

    He also cited a saturated sports market which features the Miami Dolphins, the Florida Marlins, the Florida Panthers and the Heat, which is also owned by Heat Group.

    "Most of the sports teams in this market work very hard to get national corporate dollars for support, and that's difficult for us with the Sol," Woolworth said.

    College

  • Florida State quarterback Adrian McPherson was arrested Wednesday on charges of stealing a blank check and receiving nearly $3,500 after it was cashed.

    McPherson, kicked off the team Monday by coach Bobby Bowden, surrendered to police and was released about 45 minutes later after posting bail.

    "Mr. McPherson has come here, bonded out and will have his day in court," said Daryl Parks, one of McPherson's lawyers.

    McPherson started the last four games for Florida State, going 3-1. The 23rd-ranked Seminoles host No. 15 Florida on Saturday.

    The sophomore was charged with misdemeanor theft for stealing a blank check from R&R Truck Accessories in Tallahassee and felony grand theft for receiving stolen goods after the check was cashed.

    Hockey

  • Todd Simpson of Phoenix and Wade Belak of Toronto were suspended by the NHL on Wednesday.

    Simpson will miss three games for high sticking Rob DiMaio of Dallas with 1:06 left in a game Monday night. Simpson received a match penalty and will lose almost $25,000 in salary because of the suspension.

    Belak was suspended for two games and will lose more than $8,500 for elbowing Washington's Brendan Witt on Tuesday night. Belak received a major penalty in the game.

    People

    Harding wants a job with a punch

    Tonya Harding, once the pit bull of women's figure skating, has decided to become a boxer.

    "It is my goal to be a future, undisputed bantamweight champion," Harding told a news conference in Tunica, Miss., Tuesday. "My proven athletic ability and competitive nature will help this dream become a reality." Harding, 31, who pummeled Paula Jones in Fox's "Celebrity Boxing" and once took a hubcap to an ex-hubby in a backyard brawl, plans to make her pro debut on Mike Tyson-Clifford Etienne undercard in Memphis, Tenn., on Feb. 22.

    Her biggest challenge? Remembering to hit above the kneecaps.

    Verbatim

  • Writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: "Considering that Trail Blazer Damon Stoudamire was handing out holiday food to needy families in Portland barely three days after he was cited for marijuana possession, recipients are urged to double-check that their turkeys were properly smoked."

    -- From wire reports

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