FanFare 1/3/02

Friday, November 1, 2002

Baseball

The Chicago Cubs on Thursday agreed to a deal with free agent utility infielder Ramon Martinez and came to terms on a minor-league contract with former reliever Rod Beck. Beck, who saved 51 games for the Cubs in 1998, their last playoff appearance, will be invited to spring training as a non-roster player. Martinez, 30, has been a versatile backup infielder and spot starter for the San Francisco Giants since making his major league debut in 1998 and is now reunited with manager Dusty Baker.

Dallas Williams was hired as first base coach of the Boston Red Sox, completing manager Grady Little's staff. Williams coached last year with Colorado, where he spent the last three seasons.

Baseball's annual Hall of Fame game and the induction ceremonies will take place on different weekends for the first time. The exhibition game between Philadelphia and Tampa Bay will be played June 16 and the induction will take place July 27. The change was needed because of a conflict with the major league schedule. Results of the vote by the Baseball Writers' Association of America will be announced Tuesday. Eddie Murray and Gary Carter are among the leading candidates on the 33-player ballot.

Basketball

Kobe Bryant and Vince Carter are the top vote-getters in fan balloting for the NBA All-Star game, with Yao Ming in fourth place. After two rounds of voting, the league listed Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers with 958,695 votes. He was followed by Carter of the Toronto Raptors (871,189) and Tracy McGrady of the Orlando Magic (822,034). Yao, the 7-foot-6 rookie for the Houston Rockets, drew 814,393 votes and Tim Duncan of San Antonio was next at 758,754.

Toronto Raptors forward Michael Bradley will miss a week with a disc injury to his lower back. Bradley averaged 3.9 points and 4.7 rebounds. He is one of only two Raptors to play in all 32 games this season.

Colleges

Southern Miss won't renew the contracts of two coaches, offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Chris Klenakis and special teams coach and recruiting coordinator Chad O'Shea. The decision was announced by coach Jeff Bower, whose team is coming off a 7-6 season that ended with a 33-23 loss to Oklahoma St. in the Houston bowl last Friday.

Football

The NFL's TV ratings jumped 4.4 percent this season, the biggest increase since at least 1994. Overall, the league's games drew an average national rating of 9.5, up from 9.1 in the 2001 season. Each rating point represents a little more than 1.05 million TV homes.

Hockey

Encouraged by the prospect of receiving public assistance, Mark Hamister sought a two-week extension from the NHL to buy the financially troubled Buffalo Sabres. The Buffalo businessman's request came a day before a league-imposed deadline forcing Hamister and partner Todd Berman to relinquish their exclusive right to buy the Sabres and opening the possibility of the team folding or moving after this season.

Tennis

Jan-Michael Gambill used a strong baseline game to beat top-seeded Roger Federer of Switzerland 6-4, 7-5 and reach the semifinals of the $1 million Qatar Open. Gambill, who scored his first win over Federer in four matches, will face Russian Davis Cup star Mikhail Youzhny today. Youzhny defeated Fernando Vicente of Spain 7-6 (7), 6-3.

People

Don King? Trent Lott? Not on my street

A proposal to rename a stretch of Mississippi Avenue "Don King Boulevard" didn't score a knockout with Atlantic City, N.J., residents at a city council meeting.

"I grew up on Mississippi Avenue and I never saw him on my playground," Joseph LaTorre said. "I never saw him do anything here until he became famous.

"If I came to you and wanted to rename a street in front of your house Trent Lott Boulevard, would you be upset?"

The motion was tabled, The Associated Press reported. So unless Lott and King decide to settle this thing in the ring, Atlantic City's best fight card of 2003 could be a city council meeting.

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