PHOENIX, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- The long-awaited sale of the Boston Red Sox was completed Wednesday as major league owners unanimously approved the $700 million sale of the club from the Jean R. Yawkey Trust to a group headed by former Florida Marlins owner John Henry.
The deal had been under constant scrutiny over the last month as potential suitors Miles Prentice and Charles Dolan continued to up the ante in an attempt to get the trust to re-open the bidding.
The price tag, which includes Fenway Park and an 80 percent interest in New England Sports Network, is the highest ever paid for a baseball team and ends the Yawkey family's association of nearly 70 years with the club.
Henry heads a group that includes former Padres owner Tom Werner, long-time baseball executive Larry Lucchino and former U.S. Senator George Mitchell. That contingent was chosen by the trust, but Prentice ($755 million) and Dolan ($750 million) submitted higher offers in the last two weeks.
The late bids by Prentice and Dolan called into question what was best for the trust and raised speculation that Henry's group -- preferred by baseball executives -- was receiving special consideration.
Approving the sale of the Red Sox was essential to the owners, because it allows Henry to sell the Marlins to Expos owner Jeffrey Loria. The Expos are expected to be held in receivership by the league and could be run, or even managed, by MLB executive Frank Robinson.
Roddick exits Australian Open
MELBOURNE, Australia, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- What little remains of the star quality in the men's draw at the Australian Open took another hit today when young American star Andy Roddick had to quit in the second set of his match against Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia.
Roddick, the 13th seed, was the latest potential winner to exit the first Grand Slam event of the year. He trailed Ljubicic, 7-6 (13-11), 3-2, when he informed the referee he could not continue.
Marat Safin, meanwhile, advanced to the third round of the upset-plagued event.
Safin, seeded ninth and one of only four of the top 10 seeds remaining, rolled past Christophe Roches of Belgium, 6-2, 7-6 (8-6), 6-1, moving him within one victory of a possible round of 16 matchup with Pete Sampras.
Safin served 13 aces to two for Roches in a match that lasted less than two hours.
As the second round of the two-week tournament was completed Thursday, the top five seeds in the men's draw had already been eliminated, the first time that has ever happened in a Grand Slam event.
That left the tournament wide open and the winner could easily emerge from Safin's quarter of the draw, where Sampras was also placed.
The eighth-seeded Sampras had a second-round match scheduled later Thursday against Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina.
The top seed remaining among the men's field, No. 6 Tim Henman, will play Friday in the third round against fellow-Britain Greg Rusedski.
In early action Thursday, seventh-seeded Tommy Haas of Germany defeated Jean-Francois Bachelot of France, 6-1, 6-2, 6-3; Gaston Gaudio of Argentina surprised 15th seed Arnaud Clement of France, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-1); and No. 23 Nicolas Lapentti of Ecuador downed Jose Acasuso of Argentina, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, 6-3.
The top match on the women's side was not scheduled until the evening session, when No. 1 Jennifer Capriati faced Meilen Tu.
Jordan suffers worst pro loss
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Keith Van Horn led a first-quarter barrage Wednesday night as the New Jersey Nets matched their win total from last season by handing Michael Jordan the worst defeat of his career in a 111-67 rout of the Washington Wizards.
The NBA's most surprising team, the Nets (26-11) often have played in front of disappointing crowds at Continental Airlines Arena. But the building was sold out Wednesday night.
Jordan made his first appearance in New Jersey since coming out of retirement and a crowd of 20,049 turned out. But they only got see the five-time NBA Most Valuable Player for a half.
Kenyon Martin, who had all kinds of problems guarding Jordan in the Nets' 98-76 loss at Washington on Dec. 31, started the contest with a dunk and New Jersey was on its way.
New Jersey made its first 13 shots and led by as many 27 points in the opening quarter before settling for a 43-18 advantage. Van Horn scored 17 points in the period, making six of eight shots from the field. He finished with 27 points.
As a team, the Nets shot a blistering 86 percent in the first quarter. They finished at 52 percent.
New Jersey led by as many 48 points, handing Jordan the biggest defeat of his 14-year career. His previous most lopsided loss was when his Chicago Bulls suffered a 112-75 defeat at New York on Nov. 28, 1992.
Jordan, who poured in 45 points in the first meeting against the Nets, scored just 10 on Wednesday in 18 minutes.
Other NBA results: Boston 101, New York 100; Toronto 109, Houston 103; Sacramento 112, Denver 107; Milwaukee 105, Indiana 100; Portland 108, Phoenix 99; Utah 95, Seattle 80; Miami 102, Los Angeles Lakers 96; Golden State 117, Cleveland 88.
Nieuwendyk paces Stars
DALLAS, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Joe Nieuwendyk had a pair of goals and Ed Belfour finished with 26 saves Wednesday night, leading the Dallas Stars to a 3-2 triumph over the Detroit Red Wings.
Nieuwendyk scored 7 1/2 minutes into the second period to tie it, then gave the Stars a 3-1 lead just over four minutes into the third.
Nieuwendyk tallied the eventual game-winner by skating around defenseman Jiri Fischer in the slot and slipping a wrist shot between the pads of goaltender Dominik Hasek while falling to the ice.
For the second time this season, the Stars ended what had been a six-game unbeaten streak for the Red Wings. Detroit posted six wins from Oct. 12-24, but failed to extend the run after a 5-3 loss to Dallas on Oct. 26.
Rob DiMaio registered the other goal for Dallas, which has won four of its last five games.
Other NHL results: Columbus 2, New York Rangers 0; Chicago 3, Florida 0; Montreal 2, Washington 0.
Florida wins 14th straight
GAINESVILLE, Fla., Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Brett Nelson scored 26 points and Udonis Haslem added 20 Wednesday night as the second-ranked Gators dominated and remained unbeaten in Southeastern Conference play with a 102-70 rout of the LSU Tigers.
Florida (15-1, 4-0 SEC East) extended its school-record winning streak to 14 games, the second longest in the nation behind Cincinnati's 15-game run. The Gators have won 11 straight conference games, matching the school record by the 1989 SEC title team.
Matt Bonner opened the scoring with a three-pointer to top the 1,000-point plateau for his career. The Gators struggled to get their offense untracked early but still held a 15-6 lead. They then blitzed the Tigers (11-5, 1-2 West) with a 14-4 run for a 29-10 advantage with 7:46 left in the first half.
Tonight's highlight attraction sends No. 3 Maryland to No. 1 Duke in the first of their two regular-season showdowns.
Haas, Chamblee share Hope lead
LA QUINTA, Calif., Jan. 17 (UPI) -- On a typical day of low scoring in the California desert, Jay Haas and Brandel Chamblee each carded a 9-under-par 63 Wednesday to share the lead after the opening round of the five-day Bob Hope Desert Classic.
Also shooting 65 was J.P. Hayes, who is winless since 1998 but tied the PGA Tour record by making eight straight birdies at Tamarisk Country Club.
The other courses in the rotation are the host Palmer Course, Bermuda Dunes and Indian Wells. Lots of birdies were recorded at every course as 76 of 128 players cracked 70 and 100 broke par.
Ozolinsh traded to Panthers
RALEIGH, N.C., Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh, who never enjoyed the success with the Carolina Hurricanes that he did earlier in his career, was traded Wednesday to the Florida Panthers in a five-player deal.
Ozolinsh, who is slated to make his sixth All-Star appearance next month in Los Angeles, and center Byron Ritchie were sent to Florida in exchange for veteran defenseman Bret Hedican, center Kevyn Adams and prospect Tomas Malec.
The 29-year-old Ozolinsh is among the most offensive-minded defenseman in the game but has managed just 67 points in 118 games over two seasons with the Hurricanes. This season he has just four goals and 19 assists in 46 games.
Ozolinsh joined Carolina in a draft-day deal with Colorado in June 2000 and was expected to bolster the Hurricanes offense. But he had just 12 goals last season, his fewest in a full season since 1994-95, when he was with San Jose.
But Ozolinsh, who will represent Latvia at the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City next month, has 131 goals and 305 assists in 624 games and was a key member of Colorado's Stanley Cup championship squad in 1996.
Hornets heading to New Orleans?
CHARLOTTE, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- The Charlotte Hornets appear to be planning a move to New Orleans.
Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory said Wednesday the Hornets have applied to the NBA to relocate the franchise to New Orleans in time for the 2002-03 season.
McCrory said he was made aware of the decision from Mike Crum, director of operations at the Charlotte Coliseum, which is home to the team.
"We anticipated this for several weeks," McCrory said at a morning news conference.
An NBA spokesman would not confirm that the Hornets have applied to relocate and said any announcement would come from the team.
The Charlotte Observer reported that co-owner George Shinn would inform the team's players and employees of the decision and that he would fly to the Louisiana capital of Baton Rouge to sign a relocation agreement.
Hermann Maier out of Olympics
KITZBUEHEL, Asutria, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Hermann Maier, who won two gold medals at the 1998 Olympics, will miss the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City because of injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident in August.
Maier, a three-time World Cup champion and one of the most popular downhill skiers of all time, said Wednesday he would not have enough time to fully heal.
Nicknamed "The Herminator" because of his daring style, Maier is experiencing pain in his right leg and numbness in his left.
"It was a very difficult decision because I had trained very hard," the 29-year-old Austrian said. "But I'm not in really good condition. It would make no sense to start at the Olympic Games. I have to be 100 percent fit again before I can think of my comeback."
Shriver, Wilander elected to Hall of Fame
NEWPORT, R.I., Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Pam Shriver, one of just five women to win more than 100 career titles, and Mats Wilander, who captured seven Grand Slam singles titles, Wednesday were elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
They will be inducted July 13.
The American-born Shriver captured 21 singles and 112 doubles titles in her career and joins Chris Evert, Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova and Jana Novotna as the only women to win 100 titles in the Open Era.
Shriver was ranked in the top 10 in singles for most of the 1980s but is best known for teaming with Navratilova to form one of the greatest doubles teams of all time. Shriver captured 22 Grand Slam doubles titles and all but two came with Navratilova.
In addition to his seven Grand Slam singles titles, the Swedish-born Wilander won 26 other singles titles. In 1988, he captured the Australian, French and U.S. Opens and was the top-ranked player in the world.
Casey Martin has leg surgery
EUGENE, Ore., Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Casey Martin was listed in fair condition Wednesday after undergoing surgery to remove a rare and potentially serious bacterial infection in his degenerative right leg.
Martin, 29, is expected to spend a week at Sacred Heart Medical Center and recover at his home in Eugene, according to his agent, Chris Murray.
Martin underwent surgery earlier this month to diminish pain caused by Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome, the disease that affects his leg.
He successfully sued the PGA Tour for the right to use a cart during competition on the PGA and Buy.com Tours. The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld the ruling last summer.
Martin played the 2000 season on the PGA Tour, but failed to keep his tour card after earning $143,248 in 29 starts.
Mets sign Pedro Astacio
NEW YORK, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Less than 24 hours after their rivals in the National League East added a superstar bat to their lineup, the New York Mets landed another veteran arm for their rotation.
The Mets announced Wednesday they have agreed to a one-year, $5 million contract with free agent righthander Pedro Astacio. The deal contains $5 million worth of incentives for this season and a $6 million vested option -- based on innings -- for 2003.
"We think the addition of Astacio reinforces the quality and depth of our rotation," Mets general manager Steve Phillips said. "It lengthens our rotation and provides a veteran righthander behind Al Leiter."
Astacio went 8-14 with a 5.09 ERA last season, splitting the year between Colorado and Houston. He made 22 starts for the Rockies, going 6-13 with a 5.49 ERA.
The 32-year-old Astacio was sent to the Astros, who were looking to acquire a veteran arm for the stretch run, at the trade deadline. He pitched well in four outings for Houston, going 2-1 with a 3.14 ERA.
But Astacio, who is 103-96 with a 4.50 ERA in a 10-year career that began in Los Angeles, missed the last month of 2001 with a partial tear in his right shoulder. He has pitched this winter in the Dominican Republic in an attempt to show teams he is healthy.
Wisconsin business offering 'therapeutic cuddling' forced to close
Puzzle-maker slips 'Murdoch Is Evil' into Rupert Murdoch's Sunday Telegraph