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Sports briefs, Nov. 16, 2011


Gibson, Maddon win Managers of Year; La Russa 3rd

NEW YORK — Kirk Gibson took a tough-guy approach. So much so, he brought three Navy SEALs to spring training.

The SEALs wrote D, W and I on a board. The letters stood for a sense of purpose, not a traffic offense: “Deal With It.”

“They bought into it,” said Gibson, voted the NL Manager of the Year on Wednesday after the guiding the Arizona Diamondbacks to a worst-to-first finish.

Joe Maddon took a different tack. After Tampa Bay lost its first six games, he proclaimed with a great flourish that this team was the best 0-6 club in baseball history.

“I think a lot of people are into the Rays’ style,” he said after being chosen the AL Manager of the Year.

Gibson was a clear choice for guiding the Diamondbacks to a runaway NL West title. A former MVP as a rough-and-tumble outfielder, he was honored in his first full season as a big league manager.

Maddon won the AL award for the second time. He was an easy pick after helping the Rays overcame a nine-game deficit to beat out Boston for the wild-card spot on the last day. It was the biggest rally any team had made in September to claim a playoff berth.

“I like to think of it as a validation of the Rays’ way of doing things,” Maddon said during a conference call while visiting family and friends in Hazleton, Pa.

Maddon led Tampa Bay to the playoffs for the third time in four years. After that, his name popped up in speculation about managerial openings with Boston, the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis. The Cardinals have already hired Mike Matheny.

Gibson drew 28 of the 32 first-place votes and got 152 points. He was the only manager in either league to be listed on every ballot.

Ron Roenicke of the NL Central champion Brewers was second with three first-place votes and 92 points. Tony La Russa of the World Series champion Cardinals was third with the other first-place vote and 24 points. Voting was completed before the start of the playoffs.

Maddon added to the AL honor he won in 2008.

Maddon drew 26 of 28 first-place votes and had 133 points. Jim Leyland of the AL Central champion Detroit Tigers got the other pair of first-place votes and 54 points and Ron Washington of the AL champion Rangers was third with 31.

Dodgers sue Fox Sports over alleged interference in team’s sale

LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers sued Fox Sports on Wednesday, alleging the television company is trying to “interfere with the sale of the Dodgers and their assets in bankruptcy.”

The suit was filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, where Fox has a suit pending against the Dodgers for alleged breach of contract.

That court also is overseeing the proposed sale of the team, but the sale agreement reached two weeks ago between Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and Major League Baseball has yet to be filed with the court.

The creditors’ committee expressed concern Tuesday that the delay could jeopardize the goal of selling the Dodgers by opening day, a goal that could be further endangered by the dueling lawsuits.

In an effort to get McCourt the highest sale price, the Dodgers have asked the court for permission to market the team’s television rights. The Dodgers’ current TV contract forbids the team from negotiating with any party other than Fox through Nov. 30, 2012, a provision the team has asked the court to declare unenforceable.

In a statement, Fox called the Dodgers’ suit “the latest chapter in the current owner’s ongoing scheme to avoid honoring his contractual obligations.”

Ex-Fiesta Bowl COO indicted by federal grand jury

PHOENIX — The former chief operating officer of the Fiesta Bowl has been indicted on charges of filing false income tax returns for the bowl game, the first charges against a former official of one of the top national college football bowls and Bowl Championship Series member since a scathing report led to the firing of its president in March.

Natalie Wisneski, 47, also faces federal campaign finance and conspiracy charges over allegations she solicited campaign contributions from bowl employees for federal, state and local political candidates and arranged for the bowl to repay them. The U.S. attorney’s office in Phoenix announced the indictment Wednesday.

Wisneski resigned from her job in March, shortly after bowl president and chief executive officer John Junker was fired after the apparent campaign-donation scheme was made public.

FIFA’s Blatter downplays racism in soccer

GENEVA — FIFA President Sepp Blatter faced a wave of criticism Wednesday after downplaying racism on the soccer field, saying players involved in such clashes should settle things with a handshake.

His comments in a TV interview sparked a backlash in England, where two top players are being investigated for racially insulting opponents during recent Premier League games. Blatter quickly issued a statement, insisting he had been “misunderstood,” but by then he had already drawn heavy condemnation in Britain.

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand — whose brother Anton was the target of an alleged slur by England captain John Terry — was one of the most outspoken critics.

“Sepp Blatter your comments on racism are so condescending its almost laughable. If fans shout racist chants but shake our hands is that ok?” Ferdinand wrote on twitter. “I feel stupid for thinking that football was taking a leading role against racism…..it seems it was just on mute for a while.”

In an interview with broadcaster Al-Jazeera, Blatter said soccer has no problem with racism and minimized the recent allegations of abuse.

He said comments are often made in anger during games but then “forgotten” after the final whistle. Blatter went on to suggest that if league officials have to deal with an issue or complaint then they should “bring two people together and say ‘Shake hands.'”

The comments come on the same day that Liverpool forward Luis Suarez was charged by the English Football Association with racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra, who is black.

Ex-Olympic gymnastics coach banned for life

INDIANAPOLIS — A former Olympic gymnastics coach accused of sexually abusing two athletes in the 1980s has been banned for life by USA Gymnastics and his place in the federation’s Hall of Fame revoked.

Don Peters, head coach of the 1984 U.S. women’s Olympic team, was declared “permanently ineligible” after a disciplinary hearing by USA Gymnastics last week. Peters has already resigned from his coaching and director positions at his SCATS gym in Huntington Beach, Calif., and his ban will be published in USA Gymnastics’ magazine and on its website.

Two former gymnasts told the Orange County Register that Peters sexually abused them in the 1980s, when they were teenagers. In a Register story on Sept. 25, Doe Yamashiro, a former U.S. national team and SCATS member, said Peters began fondling her in 1986, when she was 16, and had sexual intercourse with her when she was 17. A second woman, who asked that her name not be used, told the Register that Peters had sex with her in 1985 when she was 18.

The alleged abuse can’t be prosecuted under California law because the statute of limitation has expired.

Peters was one of the country’s top coaches in the 1980s, and his SCATS gym produced several national team members. He was head coach of the U.S. team at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, where the Americans won eight medals, including Mary Lou Retton’s gold in the all-around.

UT: Women’s AD employees not discriminated against

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee has rejected claims by three employees of its women’s athletics department who say they were discriminated against because their salaries were lower than those of employees in the men’s athletics department with comparable duties.

According to university documents obtained by The Associated Press, associate Athletics Director for Women’s Sports Medicine Jenny Moshak, Assistant Athletics Director for Women’s Strength and Conditioning Heather Mason and Associate Director for Women’s Strength and Conditioning Collin Schlosser filed the complaint to the UT Office of Equity and Diversity in 2010.

In the complaint, Moshak, who works directly with women’s basketball and oversees employees who work with other women’s sports, compared her salary and duties to Director of Men’s Sports Medicine Jason McVeigh. At that time, Moshak earned a base salary of $87,500 while McVeigh, who works directly with the football team and supervises employees who work with other men’s sports, made a base salary of $89,048.

“Plaintiffs hold similar positions and perform comparable, and often more, job responsibilities, but receive lower compensation than employees within the Men’s Athletic Department based solely on their sex or affiliation with women’s athletics,” the complaint says.

After a yearlong investigation, the office determined Moshak, Mason and Schlosser’s jobs were not similar enough to jobs within the men’s department to find that they were denied equal pay for equal work and that their salaries was not determined by factors related to gender.

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