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Sports briefs

By RODNEY PAGE, TERRY TOMALIN, Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 3, 2001


Mutiny GM: no worries for team's future

Mutiny general manager Bill Manning said Tuesday that his team isn't going anywhere.

Tampa Bay was mentioned in several Internet columns last week, including ESPN.com and CNNSI.com, as one of possibly two teams that may be eliminated before the 2001 season. San Jose and Miami also were mentioned.

"As far as we're concerned here, it's business as usual," Manning said. "From a business standpoint things couldn't be better. We're doing well in season-ticket sales and sponsorship." The story surfaced after the MLS Board of Directors met in December and reportedly talked about reducing the number of teams from 12 to 10. MLS would not comment, but commissioner Don Garber is expected to hold a news conference soon.

In a recent court case between the league and players, it was revealed the league lost $250-million in its first five years.

Manning said he has talked with Orlando investors about buying the Mutiny.

MORE SOCCER: Former U.S. captain John Harkes was among 25 selected for a U.S. team training camp before a Jan. 27 exhibition game against China at Oakland, Calif. Harkes, a 33-year-old midfielder, was the team's captain for 27 games before then-coach Steve Sampson dropped him from the roster two months before the 1998 World Cup. Harkes plays for New England of the MLS.

BASEBALL: The value of Manny Ramirez's contract with the Red Sox was cut $20.5-million by the players' association because of a low interest rate on the deferred payments. His eight-year deal is now valued at $141,342,731. ... Third baseman Charlie Hayes agreed to a minor-league contract with the Astros. ... The Mets will start spring training Feb. 16, when pitchers and catchers report, and open workouts the next day at Port St. Lucie. Position players will report Feb. 21.

BOXING: Paul Ingle tried to speak for the first time since a blood clot was removed from his brain after he lost his IBF featherweight title to Mbulelo Botile two weeks ago in Sheffield, England.

COLLEGES: The Florida gymnastics team is No. 10 in the preseason coaches poll by the GymInfo Web site. NCAA champion UCLA is No. 1, and Georgia is No. 2. Florida opens its season Saturday at Alabama's Super Six Challenge.

FISHING: Cold temperatures have Florida marine biologists on the lookout for fish kills. Snook are vulnerable to cold and may become sluggish or die when caught in shallow water on a cool night. If you come across dead snook, contact Ron Taylor at the Florida Marine Research Institute in St. Petersburg at (727) 896-8626. Snook season is closed through Jan. 31. To report other fish kills, call (800) 636-0511. AUTOS: Former race car owner Jim Gilmore, once a partner with four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt, was killed in a traffic accident in Kalamazoo, Mich. The 74-year-old Gilmore, also a former mayor of Kalamazoo, died Sunday when his pickup truck skidded off a street, rolled in deep snow and slid into a fence.

GOLF: Jean Van de Velde, who squandered the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie with triple bogey on the 72nd hole, was 4-up with six holes to play but was forced to make a 15-foot birdie putt on the 19th hole to beat Duffy Waldorf and advance to the second round at the World Match Play Championship. Stewart Cink and Safety Harbor's John Huston were other prominent PGA Tour players who lost in the first round at Melbourne, Australia.

HOCKEY: The United States was eliminated from the World Junior Championships in Moscow with a 2-1 loss to Canada in the quarterfinals.

HORSE RACING: Voodoo Dancer beat Grey Ballet by three-quarters of a length in the $100,000 Tropical Park Oaks at Calder in Miami in a field of 3-year-olds fillies. Voodoo Dancer ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:44 2/5 and paid $4, $3 and $2.60.

OLYMPICS: The federal magistrate overseeing the Olympic bribery case is expected to call a hearing this month in Salt Lake City to hear defense motions seeking the dismissal of bribery, conspiracy and fraud charges against two Salt Lake bid executives. Short of tossing out the case, defense lawyers want Magistrate Ronald Boyce to force the government to show more of its case against Tom Welch and Dave Johnson before trial. They want U.S. Justice Department prosecutors to identify unindicted co-conspirators who can offer hearsay testimony about Welch and Johnson's motives for plying IOC delegates with $1-million in cash, gifts, travel and scholarships. The trial will be in June.

SKATING: Dick Button, the only American man to win two Olympic figure skating gold medals, was hospitalized after injuring his head in a fall while rehearsing in Boston. He is expected to make a full recovery. The 1948 and '52 Olympic champion, Button is a commentator for ABC.

SKIING: Americans Erik Schlopy and Bode Miller were first and second in an annual invitational slalom race in Sestriere, Italy.

TENNIS: Martina Hingis and Gustavo Kuerten are the International Tennis Federation's world champions for 2000. Hingis won the honor a third time in four years despite not winning a Grand Slam event. But the Swiss star won nine tournaments, including the year-end Chase Championships. The ITF said Hingis proved herself the most consistent even though Venus Williams won Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Olympic gold medal. Kuerten captured his second French Open title and the inaugural Tennis Masters Cup. The Brazilian, the No. 1 player at year's end, is the first South American to win this award, which began in 1978. ... Defending champion South Africa beat Australia 2-1 at the Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia. Amanda Coetzer beat Nicole Pratt 6-3, 7-5 to put South Africa ahead. Richard Fromberg evened the score by beating Wayne Ferreira 7-6 (7-4), 7-5, and South Africa won the deciding doubles match 7-6 (8-6), 2-6, 7-6 (7-1). The United States plays Russia today. ... Top-seeded Conchita Martinez beat Guilia Casoni 6-4, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals of the Australian Women's Hardcourt in Gold Coast. ... Top seed Yevgeny Kafelnikov easily advanced into the second round of the $1-million Qatar Open in Doha, beating Francisco Clavet 6-2, 6-2. Marcelo Rios overcame a sluggish start to beat Nenad Zimonjic 6-4, 3-6, 6-1. ... Taylor Dent, a 19-year-old wild card from Newport Beach, Calif., upset top-seeded Magnus Norman 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) in the first round of the Gold Flake Open in Madras, India.

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