WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, said Thursday his sport operated at a loss of $232 million in 2001 and that when interest expenses were added, the red ink totaled $519 million.
Selig appeared before the committee to argue against a bill that would remove baseball's anti-trust exemption, saying to do so would make the sport's problems even larger. He placed much of the blame for baseball's difficulty on player salaries and said anyone who doubts the financial figures he presented to Congress is, "just plain misinformed or is engaging in deliberate misstatement."
Not long after Selig made that statement, Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura said he did, indeed, doubt Selig was presenting factual numbers.
Ventura said he had a hard time believing the financial statements because, "they (the owners), are still paying the salaries they're paying. That's asinine. These people did not get the wealth that they have by being stupid."
Baseball is facing a significant turning point in its history with owners having agreed to eliminate two teams by the start of next season. But lawsuits filed by the players' union and by representatives of the Metrodome in Minneapolis have curtailed that effort. Although baseball owners have not named which teams will be "contracted," Minnesota and Montreal are reportedly at the top of the list.
In addition, the sport no longer has a contract in place with the players and the lack of one could cause a delay in the start of the 2002 season. Spring training is scheduled to begin in just over two months and an enormous gulf exists between the teams and the union as to what needs to be done.
With that as a background, Selig painted a bleak picture before the committee - making public financial figures that have traditionally been kept secret by the sport.
The numbers Selig presented to Congress indicated the Los Angeles Dodgers lost almost $69 million in 2001 and that the newly crowned Arizona Diamondbacks lost $44 million.
After revenue sharing totals and interest were added in, Selig said the only teams to operate at a profit this year were the New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners, Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs and Kansas City Chiefs.
Jordan has successful return
HOUSTON, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Michael Jordan returned from a knee injury and collected 10 points and three assists in the fourth quarter Thursday night to lift the Washington Wizards to an 85-82 victory over the Houston Rockets.
Jordan missed his first game of the season Tuesday night after having fluid drained from his swollen right knee. His decision to return seemed premature after he made just four of 15 shots through three quarters.
But Jordan displayed his usual flare for the dramatic in the final period. He returned with 9:34 remaining and Washington immediately went on an 8-3 run to take a 72-65 lead with 5:11 left.
Jordan scored six points during the burst and assisted on the other basket, a dunk by rookie Brendan Haywood. He recorded another assist on a clutch jumper by Tyronn Lue with 91 seconds to go and the Wizards snapped a seven-game skid in Houston, winning here for the first time since Feb. 8, 1993.
Jordan finished with 18 points, seven assists and six rebounds. Richard Hamilton led Washington with 26 points and Popeye Jones added 10 and 10 rebounds off the bench.
Other NBA results: Minnesota 105, Memphis 80; Milwaukee 95, Toronto 89; Charlotte 95, Portland 89.
Roberts records hat trick
NEW YORK, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Gary Roberts scored his first three goals in five weeks and Mats Sundin got the go-ahead tally midway through the third period Thursday night as the Toronto Maple Leafs pulled away for a 6-3 victory over the New York Rangers.
Roberts broke out of his slump in a big way, scoring twice in a three-goal second period and capping a three-goal third with his second power-play tally of the night. The hat trick was the 12th of his career and first since April 9, 1998, when he was a member of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Shayne Corson halted a 12-game drought, scoring 51 seconds after Roberts near the end of second period. But Sundin got the decisive goal with 10:21 to go in the third.
Mikael Renberg flipped a shot off the right boards that was kicked out by goaltender Mike Richter. Sundin got the long rebound at the left faceoff dot and slid a backhander along the ice and between Richter's pads for his team-best 14th goal.
Other NHL results: Atlanta 3, Washington 3; Pittsburgh 4, Boston 1; New York Islanders 2, Philadelphia 0; Tampa Bay 1, Columbus 0; Nashville 4, Ottawa 2; San Jose 3, Calgary 1; Vancouver 3, Anaheim 2; St. Louis 1, Los Angeles 1.
Missouri remains unbeaten
COLUMBIA, Mo., Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Clarence Gilbert scored a season-high 29 points in 24 minutes Thursday night as second-ranked Missouri rolled to an early lead and cruised past another overmatched Southwestern Athletic Conference opponent, pasting Southern, 117-67.
Kareem Rush added 25 points in 22 minutes and Wesley Stokes had 10 points and 11 assists for Missouri (9-0), which is off to its best start since the 1991-92 squad won its first 11 games.
Gilbert, a senior guard, went 11 for 16 from the field, including seven of 10 from three-point range. He began the season with a reputation as a gunner, but has improved his shooting by nearly 10 percent this season.
Already the Tigers all-time leader in three-pointers made and attempted, Gilbert is 10th in school history in steals and should crack the top 10 in points and assists before his career ends.
Missouri was the only top 10 team in action Thursday night.
Crouch wins Camp, O'Brien awards
ORLANDO, Fla., Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Eric Crouch picked up some prestigious hardware Thursday night on his way to New York.
The Nebraska quarterback, who is one of four finalists for the Heisman Trophy, took home a pair of trophies as part of college football's awards show.
Crouch won the Walter Camp Award as player of the year and the Davey O'Brien Award as top quarterback. Known more for his running than passing, Crouch rushed for 1,115 yards and 19 touchdowns for the fourth-ranked Cornhuskers.
If Crouch has his way, Louisiana State will beat Tennessee in the Southeastern Conference championship game on Saturday, a scenario that could put Nebraska in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 3 against top-ranked Miami.
Dorsey and Bryant McKinnie of the Hurricanes also were honored Thursday night.
Dorsey won the Maxwell Award as best all-around player and McKinnie took home the Outland Trophy, given to the best interior lineman.
Miami (11-0) has completed its regular season and is assured of playing for the national title in the Rose Bowl.
A big reason for Miami's success has been Dorsey, who threw for 2,652 yards and 23 scores. He received ample protection from McKinnie, widely regarded as the best offensive lineman in college football. A senior, McKinnie has yet to allow a sack in his NCAA career.
Defensive tackle John Henderson of Tennessee, the 2000 winner, and Nebraska offensive lineman Toniu Fonoti were the other Outland finalists.
Luke Staley of Brigham Young, the nation's leading scorer with 15.45 points per game, won the Doak Walker Award as top running back. Staley, who has rushed for a school-record 1,582 yards, broke his left leg late in Saturday's 41-38, come-from-behind victory at Mississippi State.
The Fred Belitnikoff Award for top receiver went to Josh Reed of Louisiana State, who caught 90 passes for 1,680 yards and seven scores this year.
Defensive end Julius Peppers of North Carolina earned his second trophy in as many nights when he took home the Chuck Bednarik Award for best defensive player. Peppers, who could be the No. 1 pick in next year's NFL draft, won the Lombardi Award on Wednesday.
Specialists also received their due. Seth Marler, who has made 15 of 16 field goals for Tulane, previously was named the Lou Groza Award winner as top kicker and was presented with the trophy Thursday.
Travis Dorsch of Purdue won The Ray Guy Award as best punter.
Alabama announces self-imposed sanctions
TUSCALOOSA, Ala., Dec. 7 (UPI) -- The University of Alabama revealed a series of self-imposed sanctions Thursday in response to NCAA charges of violations in the football program.
The most significant measure would be a reduction of 15 scholarships over a three-year period, including eight in 2002-03, four the following year and three the year after.
Division I teams can award as many as 25 initial scholarships per year.
From now through December 2002, the school will reduce by one the number of coaches permitted to recruit off-campus and reduce the number of official visits by 44 over a three-year period.
The university also offered to sever ties with three athletic boosters accused of offering money to high school players.
Alabama, however, did not offer a postseason bowl ban as part of the self-imposed penalties.
Anderson signs with Indians
CLEVELAND, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Brady Anderson will try to revive his career with the Cleveland Indians.
Anderson, who hit just .202 with eight home runs and 45 RBI last season before being released in November by the Baltimore Orioles, signed a one-year contract for 20002 with club options for 2003 and 2004.
While his numbers are in decline, Anderson will come at a bargain price. Anderson's $4 million contract for next season, the final year of a five-year deal, is being paid by the Orioles, with the Indians responsible only for the minimum of $200,000.
The 37-year-old Anderson played in 131 games last season -- his 14th in the major leagues.
McLemore stays with Mariners
SEATTLE, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Mark McLemore, a key component in the Seattle Mariners' dream season, Thursday signed a two-year contract to stay with the team.
The 37-year-old McLemore played six positions in 2001, a season in which Seattle tied a major league record with 116 wins. He hit .286 with 16 doubles, five home runs and 57 RBI in 125 games.
McLemore also established a career high with 39 stolen bases and was six for 12 with six RBI as a pinch hitter. He added the intangible of leadership to a club that began the season without its best player, shortstop Alex Rodriguez.
McLemore played 63 games in left field, 36 at third base, 35 at shortstop and also played second base, center field and right field. He was the team's starting shortstop for most of the postseason, but batted just .156 in 10 games with six RBI.
Penske joins IRL
READING, Pa., Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Roger Penske, the winningest team owner in Indy car history, will leave CART to join the rival Indy Racing League next season.
Penske Racing driver Gil de Ferran, who won his second straight CART championship this season, will join reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves in the IRL next year.
"We plan to compete in all Indy Racing League series races in 2002, in addition to the Indy 500," Penske Racing president Tim Cindric said. "It was a decision made with our principal sponsor (Marlboro) based on our collective business interestes and objectives in 2002."
Penske Racing's plans do not include articipation in any other open wheel racing series in 2002.
It's the latest -- and perhaps biggest -- blow to CART this year as Penske Racing set the standard for the series since its inception. However, with leadership problems leading to some of CART's troubles this year, Penske has become upset with the direction of the series he helped launch in 1979.
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