Blue Jays hire John Gibbons as manager again
TORONTO — Blue Jays President Paul Beeston couldn’t believe it when he learned the Blue Jays had the chance to land three star players from the Miami Marlins last week. He was equally surprised when his general manager told him he wanted to hire John Gibbons to manage the Blue Jays again.
“They were back-to-back shockers,” Beeston said with a laugh.
General manager Alex Anthopoulos unexpectedly hired Gibbons as his new manager on Tuesday, a day after a megadeal with the Miami Marlins reinvigorated the roster and raised expectations the Blue Jays will make the playoffs for the first time since winning their second consecutive World Series in 1993. Only Kansas City and Pittsburgh have longer playoff droughts.
“I said ‘Are you serious?’” Beeston recalled. “Forget about him being an intellectual, he’s a baseball guy. And those are the guys you really want in your organization.”
Gibbons managed Toronto 2004-08 and had a 305-305 record, making him the third-winningest manager in franchise history.
He succeeds John Farrell, who spurned Toronto for his dream managing job in Boston. Gibbons takes over a very different team from the one Farrell managed.
The surprise announcement came a day after the Blue Jays completed the trade to acquire All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes and pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle from Miami. Toronto agreed to the trade last week and Commissioner Bud Selig approved it Monday. The Blue Jays, extraordinarily busy in this offseason, also finalized a $16 million, two-year contract with free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera.
Mavs’ Nowitzki still unsure when he will play
DALLAS — Dirk Nowitzki was hoping to be back on the court sooner, even when the Dallas Mavericks were saying after his surgery that it could be at least six weeks before any basketball activity.
The perennial All-Star forward instead is finding out just how difficult and frustrating it can be recovering from surgery.
Nowitzki said Tuesday that he’s still about two weeks away from getting back on the court to start running and shooting. That would put him at just more than six weeks since arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Oct. 19 — and he still isn’t sure when he will start playing again after that.
“Unfortunately, I tried, but I couldn’t cut the time down,” Nowitzki said. “I was obviously hoping to cut that time a lot shorter. It’s been a frustrating time for me, especially watching and nothing I can really do. So there have been some hard days, some frustrating days. … But I think now it’s gotten better this last week or so and now I guess I’m seeing the end of the tunnel.”
Nowitzki, who never had surgery in his first 14 NBA seasons, said the goal has always been for the swelling to be gone and he has to be 100 percent strength-wise before he will play again. There are still good days and bad days with the swelling.
He was able this week to increase his off-court workload, including leg presses and getting back on an elliptical machine.
The 34-year-old, 7-foot German decided to have surgery after problems with swelling early in training camp.Nowitzki had issues with the same knee two seasons ago when he missed time before the Mavs won their only NBA title, then skipped a week last January to strengthen and condition that knee.
The Mavericks (6-6) are trying to get by with eight new players. They could go 20 games or more before getting a chance to play with Nowitzki.
News Corp. acquiring stake in YES Network
NEW YORK — News Corp. is acquiring a 49 percent stake in the YES Network, a deal that gives the New York Yankees’ owners hundreds of millions of dollars and values the channel at $3 billion.
Yankee Global Enterprises, Goldman Sachs and other investors will reduce their ownership as part of the transaction, and the team will receive $500 million.
The agreement raises the value of the YES Network to $3.8 billion in three years, when News Corp. must decide whether to take control. The Yankees also committed to stay on YES Network through 2042, subject to approval of the rights deal from Major League Baseball. The Yankees’ existing agreement with YES runs through 2021 and the network has three five-year options.
News Corp., which owns Fox, may acquire an additional stake in the YES Network after three years that could bring its ownership to 80 percent. Yankee Global Enterprises, the team’s parent company, would retain a significant minority stake.
Fox will make a $500 million payment to the Yankees for extending their broadcast rights, of which $300 million will be paid when the deal with News Corp. closes and $200 million in about three years, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because some details of the pact had not been made public. The team’s stake in the network will decline from 34 percent to 25 percent.
YES’s fee to the Yankees, which was $85 million this year, was due to compound at 4 percent annually under the options in the old contract. Under the new deal, the rate will increase gradually to 7 percent in the final years of the rights agreement, and YES’s annual payment to the team will rise to about $300 million by 2042.
Kaymer to join US tour next year
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Martin Kaymer of Germany is the latest European star to join the PGA Tour.
Kaymer has been eligible to become a U.S. tour member since he won the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in 2010.
According to the PGA Tour, five international players will be members next year. In addition to Kaymer, the others are Peter Hanson of Sweden, Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium, Ryo Ishikawa of Japan and David Lynn of England, the runner-up at this year’s PGA Championship.
Kaymer, who holed the clinching putt for Europe in the Ryder Cup, will be considered a PGA Tour rookie, even though his 10 career wins include a major and World Golf Championship.
His decision means 28 of the top 30 players in the world ranking will be PGA Tour members.
Steelers sign WR Plaxico Burress
PITTSBURGH — Plaxico Burress is back where he once belonged.
The Pittsburgh Steelers brought back the veteran wide receiver on Tuesday to provide depth at a position decimated by injuries while hoping there’s enough gas left in the 35-year-old’s tank to give the offense an added dimension near the goal line.
Burress impressed Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert during a brief workout early Tuesday even though he hasn’t played since the end of the 2011 season as a member of the New York Jets.
The Steelers (6-4) are in need of healthy bodies at wide receiver after Jerricho Cotchery fractured his ribs late in Sunday night’s 13-10 loss to Baltimore. Antonio Brown has missed the last two games due to an ankle injury and Tomlin listed Brown as questionable for Sunday’s game against Cleveland (2-8).
The 6-foot-5 Burress spent his first five seasons in the NFL with the Steelers, who selected him with the eighth overall pick in the 2000 NFL draft. He moved on to the New York Giants in 2005 and caught the game-winning touchdown pass in the 2008 Super Bowl before his career derailed after accidentally shooting himself in a New York nightclub, leading to a gun charge that resulted in a 20-month prison sentence.
Pittsburgh courted Burress when he returned to the league last summer, though Burress opted for a more lucrative $3 million offer from the New York Jets. Though he lacked the explosion that made him one of the better deep threats in the league during his prime, Burress caught 45 passes for 612 yards and tied for the team lead with eight touchdown receptions.
The Jets opted not to bring him back, however, and Burress has spent most of the last year looking for a job.