Sports Briefs219

Posted Feb. 19, 2012, at 8:39 p.m.

ESPN fires employee for headline on Jeremy Lin

BRISTOL, Conn. — ESPN fired an employee responsible for an offensive headline about Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin.

The headline Friday on ESPN’s mobile website was used for a story about a New York loss in which Lin had nine turnovers. The headline was an idiom that contains a word that also can be used as a slur against Chinese.

“I don’t think it was on purpose or whatever, but (at) the same time they have apologized. And so from my end I don’t care anymore,” Lin said after leading the Knicks to a 104-97 win over Dallas on Sunday. “Have to learn to forgive, and I don’t even think that was intentional. Or hopefully not.”

Lin is the NBA’s first American-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent. He captivated fans by leading the Knicks to seven straight wins before Friday’s loss.

In a statement Sunday, ESPN apologized for that headline and said it is aware of two other “offensive and inappropriate” comments. An ESPNEWS anchor who used the same phrase was suspended for 30 days. The cable network said a similar reference was made on ESPN Radio New York, but the commentator is not an ESPN employee.

Reds sign RHP Brett Tomko, open camp

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Right-hander Brett Tomko is back with the team that launched his career, signing a minor league deal with the Cincinnati Reds as they opened camp on Sunday.

Tomko, who turns 39 on April 7, was invited to camp, which opened with all 36 pitchers taking physicals before a two-hour workout. Position players are scheduled to report for physicals and work out on Friday.

Tomko is a footnote to Reds history — part of the four-player package traded to Seattle for Ken Griffey Jr. on Feb. 10, 2000.

The Reds made him their second-round pick in the June 1995 draft. He reached the majors in 1997 and played three seasons with Cincinnati, going 29-26 with a 4.35 ERA in 86 starts and two relief appearances.

The right-hander has pitched for 10 teams during his career — Cincinnati, Seattle, San Diego, St. Louis, San Francisco, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Kansas City, the New York Yankees, Oakland and Texas. He was 0-1 with a 4.58 ERA in eight games for the Rangers last season, most of which he spent in the minors.

Penn State dance marathon raises $10.68 million

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — The annual Penn State dance marathon has raised a record $10.68 million to benefit pediatric cancer patients, an event held for the first time without late coach Joe Paterno, officials said Sunday.

The total, which shattered last year’s record $9.5 million, was announced shortly after 4 p.m. Sunday to more than 700 dancers who had begun to tango and twist on Friday night to raise money for The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. The 46-hour IFC/Panhellanic Dance Marathon, billed as the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, has raised more than $88 million over almost three dozen years.

But this year’s event was the first without Paterno, who died last month, less than three months after being diagnosed with lung cancer. The Hall of Fame football coach came each year to encourage hundreds of students trying to make it through the annual event known on campus as “Thon.”

Paterno’s son, Jay, donning a blue Thon hooded sweat shirt, told thousands of people on the floor and in the crowd that Penn State students should be known for their leadership in pulling off the annual event rather than for the child sex abuse scandal that has engulfed the school.

CFL Hall of Famer Cal Murphy dies at 79

TORONTO — Cal Murphy, a nine-time Grey Cup champion and member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, has died. He was 79.

His death was confirmed by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, a team Murphy served as coach and general manager. He died Saturday night in a hospital in Regina, Saskatchewan, where he had been since breaking ribs in a fall earlier this month. Murphy had heart attacks in 1978 and 1985 before undergoing a heart transplant in 1992.

Murphy spent more than 30 years in the CFL as a coach and GM. During a 14-year stint as the Bombers’ coach and GM the club made five Grey Cup appearances. Since 2000 had been evaluating talent for the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.

Murphy is second in career wins for the Bombers history with a record of 86-51-1. He was inducted into the CFL Hall of Fame in 2004.

Sabathia reports 10 to 15 pounds lighter

TAMPA, Fla. — CC Sabathia’s weight is down, and the New York Yankees are hoping a few lost pounds might turn into a few more victories.

The five-time All-Star said Sunday he’s shed 10 to 15 pounds and reported to spring training weighing about 290 — the same as a year ago when he pitched brilliantly early in the season but not nearly as effective down the stretch, when he appeared to be much heavier.

After winning 13 of his first 17 decisions, Sabathia finished 19-8 overall with a 3.00 ERA. The Yankees rewarded him with a contract extension that added $30 million and one season to an existing contract that now will pay him $122 million over the next five years.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman later arranged a meeting with Sabathia to discuss the importance of the 31-year-old lefty watching his weight as he gets older.

“When I was dealing with his contract, the weight stuff didn’t come up. We wanted CC. We needed CC. We love CC,” said Cashman, who bolstered the Yankees starting rotation this winter by trading for young right-hander Michael Pineda and signing former Los Angeles Dodgers righty Hiroki Kuroda to a $10 million, one-year free agent contract.

The GM said Sabathia is one of the hardest workers on the team and that the conversation about the pitcher’s weight was not initiated because of any concerns about how he takes care of himself.

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