Tyson cancels fight with Mercer
Tyson and Mercer were supposed to meet in a pay-per-view bout between former heavyweight champions, but the remainder of the card and venue had not yet been made final.
As the No. 1 contender to Lewis' WBC and IBF belts, Tyson decided to prepare himself for a marquee match with his English counterpart.
"This is a business and I'm sure Ray understands why I need to take Lennox out now," Tyson said in a statement.
One of the reasons may have been a lawsuit Lewis filed Tuesday in New York to have Tyson drop the Mercer fight or have the WBC remove him from the mandatory challenger's position.
Isringhausen headed for St. Louis
ST. LOUIS, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Jason Isringhausen has apparently decided to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals, where he will make less money than he might have but will be close to home.
There were reports today that the Oakland Athletics' closer has signed a four-year, $27 million deal to join St. Louis. No official announcement was made by the Cardinals.
A resident of Godfrey, Ill., Isringhausen turned down Texas' four-year offer worth $30 million.
After being beset by injuries as a starter with the New York Mets, Isringhausen has become one of the game's premier closers, recording 67 saves over the last two seasons with the Athletics.
The signing would give the Cardinals depth in a bullpen that includes lefthander Steve Kline and righthander Dave Veres, but has been without a quality closer since Dennis Eckersley's retirement in 1997.
Athletics trade for Billy Koch
OAKLAND, Calif., Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Needing to fill a void left by the departing Jason Isringhausen, the Oakland Athletics today acquired closer Billy Koch from the Toronto Blue Jays for a pair of minor leaguers.
Koch, a hard-throwing righthander, has 100 career saves and is only 26. He was the fourth-overall pick out of Clemson in the 1996 draft.
Oakland gave up third baseman Eric Hinske and righthander Justin Miller to acquire Koch. Hinske was considered one of the Athletics' top prospects, but Eric Chavez holds down third base with the big league club.
Ventura, Justice involved in trade
NEW YORK, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- The New York Yankees acquired third baseman Robin Ventura from the New York Mets today for outfielder David Justice in the most significant trade ever made between the teams.
"In this job you have to have guts and take chances," Mets general manager Steve Phillips said. "This is the right thing to do for us, and for the Yankees perspective I understand where Robin is a great fit for them. This is a win-win trade for both teams."
The Yankees wanted Ventura, who is scheduled to make $8.25 million in 2002, as a one-year stopgap while they wait for prospect Drew Henson to take over the position. Scott Brosius, New York's third baseman since 1998, retired last month.
Desperate for outfield power, the Mets were willing to take Justice and his $7 million salary for 2002 as long as they were able to get rid of Ventura's price tag.
Yankees sign Steve Karsay
NEW YORK, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- The New York Yankees today signed free agent reliever Steve Karsay to a four-year contract with a club option for a fifth year.
Financial terms were not disclosed, but the deal is reportedly worth more than $20 million, according to numerous reports.
Karsay, 29, will fill the hole of righthanded setup man that was never adequately addressed when Nelson left the team to sign a three-year, $10.65 million deal with the Seattle Mariners after the 2000 season.
Lindstrom re-signs with Red Wings
DETROIT, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Reigning Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom will stay in "Hockeytown" for at least the next two seasons.
The Detroit Red Wings today signed Lidstrom to a two-year contract extension through the 2003-04 season.
Financial terms were not disclosed. Lidstrom is in the final year of a three-year contract worth $21.75 million.
A native of Sweden, the 31-year-old Lidstrom won the Norris Trophy honoring the NHL's top defenseman last season after finishing as a runner-up for the honor each of the previous three years.
Heisman Trophy set for Saturday
NEW YORK, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- The only certainty over the Heisman Trophy is that the 2001 winner will be a quarterback.
Like the race to see who will oppose Miami in the Rose Bowl, the contest to determine the 67th Heisman Trophy winner is too close to call. There is speculation that the voting could be among the closest in history. The smallest margin was in 1985, when Bo Jackson of Auburn edged Chuck Long of Iowa by just 45 points.
Crouch won the Walter Camp Award as player of the year and the Davey O'Brien Award as top quarterback on Thursday and Dorsey won the Maxwell Award as best all-around player.
This year's Heisman presentation will take place at the New York Marriott Marquis in Times Square instead of at the Downtown Athletic Club, which was damaged in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Most of the votes were not returned until early this week, so a fifth finalist may be named prior to Saturday's ceremony.
Tennessee-LSU game to decide Rose Bowl berth
ATLANTA, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- An unusually long regular season comes to a close Saturday, but the extra time has yet to yield two clear-cut contenders to play for college football's national title.
Undefeated and top-ranked Miami (11-0) has a rightful claim for one of the berths and will play in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 3.
No. 2 Tennessee (10-1) can grab the other spot if it can defeat No. 20 Louisiana State (8-3) in the Southeastern Conference title game at the Georgia Dome.
A Tennessee victory will provide relative order to the Bowl Championship Series, but a win by LSU will throw the already maligned system into further chaos.
To make matters worse for the BCS, it can expect a chorus of complaints from No. 8 Brigham Young should the Cougars (12-0) complete an undefeated regular season on Saturday at Hawaii.
Following an impressive 34-32 win at Florida on Saturday that clinched the SEC East title, Tennessee vaulted six spots to second in the latest BCS poll and would almost certainly retain that post with a win on Saturday.
Nebraska (11-1), which was humiliated last month by Colorado, 62-36, is third in the BCS and would likely earn the trip to Pasadena should the Volunteers falter.
The final BCS standings and bowl pairings will be announced on Sunday.
Calmus wins Butkus Award
ORLANDO, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Rocky Calmus of Oklahoma was named today as the winner of the Butkus Award, which recognizes the top linebacker in the country.
Also a finalist last year, Calmus is the first Sooner to capture the award since Brian Bosworth in 1985 and 1986. Bosworth is the only multiple winner.
The other finalists, pared from a list of 12 semifinalists, were Maryland junior E.J. Henderson and UCLA senior Robert Thomas.
The 6-3, 235-pound Calmus has 117 tackles, with 15 coming for losses, four sacks and an interception during his senior year. The Sooners will face a Southeastern Conference team in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1.
Hill out of action again
ORLANDO, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Grant Hill's troublesome left foot again has landed him on the injured list.
The All-Star forward of the Orlando Magic has soreness near the area that has undergone two operations and will miss at least the next five games, the team announced today.
Hill has missed five of the last six games with what the team described as a sore left foot. The Magic announced no timetable for his return.
One of the NBA's most versatile players, Hill has played just 18 games since joining the Magic prior to last season. He is in the second season of a seven-year, $93 million contract.
Hill, 29, suffered a bone bruise in his left ankle late in the 1999-2000 season, when he was with the Detroit Pistons. He played through the injury in two playoff games and later was diagnosed with a broken ankle.
Reyna to play in Premier League
SUNDERLAND, England, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Claudio Reyna, the captain and midfield general of the World Cup-bound United States national team, signed with Sunderland of the English Premier League today for a club-record transfer fee of $6.44 million.
Reyna, 28, inked a five-year contract with the Wearsiders after spending the past 2 1/2 seasons with Rangers. The Scottish Premier League giant, which paid VfL Wolfsburg of Germany about $1.5 million for the American in March 1999, cashed in on Reyna after he turned down its offer of a new contract.
Reyna shattered the record transfer fee for an American player. Midfielder Eddie Lewis cost English club Fulham $1.9 million in March 2000, when he moved from MLS' San Jose Earthquakes. Liverpool paid $1.6 million for goalkeeper Brad Friedel near the end of 1997, when he departed MLS' Columbus Crew.
Little League to change standards
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa., Dec. 7 (UPI) -- To avoid domination and subsequent embarrassment, the Little League World Series is set to announce new player eligibility standards and verification process for the 2002 season.
A news conference is scheduled for Tuesday at Little League World Series headquarters.
The changes stem from 14-year-old Danny Almonte's dominating pitching performances for the Rolando Paulino All-Stars of the Bronx, N.Y. in the 2001 Little League World Series.
In three appearances at a tournament of 12-year-olds, the lefthander struck out 46, did not allow an earned run and pitched the first perfect game in 44 years at Williamsport.
The Bronx team ended up finishing third, but was stripped of all its wins after an investigation including LLWS officials, the Dominican Republic and the Bronx revealed that Almonte's birth certificate was falsified.