Americans trail by one at Ryder Cup
SUTTON COLDFIELD, England, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- With Tiger Woods unable to win a match, the team of Phil Mickelson and David Toms rescued the United States Friday and kept the Americans within one point of Europe after the opening day of the Ryder Cup.
"He's the greatest player that probably ever lived, but that's what the Ryder Cup is," European Captain Sam Torrance said. "Anyone is beatable out there."
But with Europe threatening to pull off a sweep of the morning competition, Mickelson and Toms held on for a 1-up victory over Niclas Fasth and Padraig Harrington. And then the Mickelson-Toms team came from 3-down with four to play in the afternoon to halve the formidable twosome of Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie.
The afternoon comeback by the United States left Europe with a 4 ½ - 3 ½ lead with Saturday's eight team matches and Sunday's 12 singles yet to play.
"Like most Ryder Cups, it will go right down to the wire," said Irishman Paul McGinley.
By winning two of the afternoon matches and halving one, the United States did something it was unable to do at Brookline, Mass., when the Ryder Cup was last played three years ago.
On that occasion, the Americans did not win any of the four team sessions, found themselves trailing by four points after opening day and wound up staging the biggest comeback in Ryder Cup history to edge Europe by a point.
Woods and Azinger ran into the hot putter of Thomas Bjorn in the morning and lost to Bjorn and Darren Clarke, 1-up. Bjorn holed five birdie putts on the back nine at The Belfry, the last of them being a 15-footer at the final hole that matched an Azinger birdie and preserved the win.
Boston Celtics change hands
BOSTON, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- The Boston Celtics, the NBA's most storied franchise, are being sold for a reported $360 million.
Boston Basketball Partners, L.P., a local investment group, Friday announced the signing of a definitive agreement to purchase the Celtics from owner Paul Gaston.
The Boston Herald reported that Gaston will receive $360 million from a group headed by the father-son team of Irv and Wycliffe Grousbeck, and Stephen Pagliuca -- all co-managing partners of Boston Basketball Partners.
The Celtics own a record 16 NBA titles but missed the playoffs six straight years before advancing to the Eastern Conference finals last season.
In its 2002 rankings of NBA teams published in May, Forbes magazine placed the Celtics' value at $218 million.
Trading in shares of the Boston Celtics L.P. was suspended earlier Friday. They last traded at $10.60 each, down 40 cents from Jan. 1.
Irv Grousbeck is a co-founder of the former Continental Cablevision company, where he served as president until 1985.
Wycliffe Grousbeck is a general partner in Boston venture firm Highland Capital. Pagliuca is a managing director at Bain Capital LLC.
McNabb becomes richest NFL player
PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- The Philadelphia Eagles and star quarterback Donovan McNabb agreed Friday on a 12-year contract extension that may make him the highest-paid player in NFL history.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported McNabb will receive $115 million over the length of his contract that includes more than $20 million in guaranteed bonus money.
The team confirmed the length of the contract, but would not release financial terms of the deal.
McNabb's reported deal surpasses the $103 million contract quarterback Drew Bledsoe signed with the New England Patriots before the 2001 season. The Eagles intend their deal to be a lifetime partnership with the 25-year-old McNabb, who was in the fourth year of his original seven-year contract.
No other NFL team has negotiated such a long-term deal with a player who has had that many years left on his contract, which demonstrates the team's desire to keep its franchise quarterback as the centerpiece for the next decade.
Williams reaches 100 RBI
BALTIMORE, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- Bernie Williams registered his 100th RBI with a single in the sixth inning and Andy Pettitte tossed five scoreless innings Friday night as the New York Yankees handed the Baltimore Orioles their 10th straight loss, 6-2.
New York improved baseball's best record to 101-58 and has a magic number of two for gaining home-field advantage against Oakland in a potential American League Championship Series. The Yankees are trying to avoid a makeup game with Tampa Bay on Monday that would be played if New York is a half game behind Oakland after Sunday's contests.
This game was scoreless until the sixth inning. Jason Giambi stroked an opposite-field single with two outs and moved up on a wild pitch by Baltimore starter Sidney Ponson (7-9). Williams followed with a single.
Williams notched his fifth career 100-RBI season and became the third Yankee to score and drive in 100 runs this season, joining Giambi and Alfonso Soriano. The last time New York had three players with 100 runs and 100 RBI was 1932, when Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Ben Chapman accomplished the feat.
Other American League results: Toronto 5, Detroit 2; Cleveland 8, Kansas City 3; Boston 6, Tampa Bay 1; Minnesota 3, Chicago 1; Oakland 3, Texas 2.
Smoltz sets NL save record
NEW YORK, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- John Smoltz set a National League record with his 54th save Friday night, recording the final four outs as the Atlanta Braves defeated the New York Mets, 3-1, in the first game of a doubleheader.
The Braves went on to sweep the Mets with a 7-4 victory in the nightcap.
With rookie Ty Wigginton representing the tying on first base with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, Smoltz caught Mike Piazza looking at a third strike. It was Piazza's first four-strikeout game since Sept. 13, 2000.
Smoltz pitched in and out of trouble in the ninth, putting runners on first and third before getting pinch-hitter John Valentin to fly out and end the game.
Randy Myers set the record with 53 saves for the Chicago Cubs in 1993 and San Diego's Trevor Hoffman tied the mark in 1998. Bobby Thigpen holds the major league mark with 57 saves for the 1990 Chicago White Sox.
The win clinched home-field advantage throughout the National League playoffs for Atlanta.
Other National League results: Pittsburgh 13, Chicago 3; Florida 5, Philadelphia 2; Montreal 4, Cincinnati 3 in 11 innings; Milwaukee 2, St. Louis 1.
Magic Johnson goes into Hall of Fame
SPRINGFIELD, Mass., Sept. 28 (UPI) -- Earvin "Magic" Johnson and five others were enshrined Friday night into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Johnson, who received his Hall of Fame jacket Friday morning, chose Larry Bird to introduce him at the induction ceremonies.
It is only fitting that Johnson and Bird are together again. In basketball annals, the pair is joined at the hip.
There was the 1979 NCAA Championship game, in which Johnson's Michigan State Spartans were too much for Bird's Indiana State Sycamores. That contest it is still the highest rated NCAA title game and laid the foundation for college basketball as it is known today.
"We seemed to be linked together ever since that championship game," Johnson said. "Every time, even today, any article that's mentioned it's 'Bird, Magic, Bird, Magic.' He helped me get here and he's probably the biggest reason I'm here."
Their rivalry continued in the NBA, with Johnson winning a title as a rookie with the Los Angeles Lakers and Bird bouncing back the following year, leading the Boston Celtics to the crown.
The two finally met in the NBA Finals in 1984, with Bird's Celtics getting the better of Magic's Lakers in a seven-game series. They met again in 1985 and '87, with Johnson winning both.
Iowa State-Nebraska highlight college schedule
AMES, Iowa, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- The proud tradition at Nebraska has taken some notable hits. Another loss this week could signal an even more dramatic fall.
The 19th-ranked Cornhuskers, whose defense sprung a leak late last season that has yet to be plugged, is in danger of falling out of college football's national rankings for the first time since 1981 when it visits No. 21 Iowa State on Saturday.
In a week that features no matchups between top 10 teams, the focus is on Nebraska (3-1), which was routed by Penn State after allowing a combined 97 points in losses to Colorado and Miami to conclude the 2001 season.
Just as Nebraska is trying to show that the numbers can be misleading, No. 24 Oregon State and Kentucky are out to show that their records are the real deal.
Oregon State (4-0) has 190 points in its first four games and can improve to 5-0 for the first time since 1939 when it visits No. 22 Southern California (2-1) in the Pac-10 Conference opener for both teams.
Kentucky (4-0), ineligible for a bowl game this season due to NCAA rules violations, faces a far more difficult task. The Wildcats visit No. 9 Florida, which re-established itself as a national title contender last week with a stunning 30-13 win at Tennessee.
Florida has won the last 15 meetings with Kentucky and has averaged 53.4 points in the last eight meetings.
The No. 1 Miami Hurricanes are off this week and the remaining teams in the top five should face minimal challenges this weekend.
No. 2 Texas (3-0) plays Tulane for the first time in 37 years and may be without star receiver Roy Williams, who is questionable with a hamstring injury. No. 3 Oklahoma (3-0), which plays Texas at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas on Oct. 12, hosts South Florida. No. 5 Virginia Tech (4-0) visits Western Michigan after defeating ranked teams -- Louisiana State, Marshall and Texas A&M
-- in its last three game.
Earnhardt claims NASCAR pole
KANSAS CITY, Kan., Sept. 28 (UPI) -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. eclipsed the Kansas Speedway qualifying record Friday to capture the pole for the NASCAR Winston Cup Protection One 400.
Going out seventh out of 46 drivers, Earnhardt erased Jason Leffler's two-year-old record with a lap of 30.350 seconds, averaging 177.924 miles per hour in his Chevrolet Monte Carlo to take his second pole of the season.
Earnhardt, who has just one win this season, admitted Thursday a hard hit in April at the California Speedway left him with a severe concussion that has affected him the rest of the year.
Also driving a Chvrolet, Johnson came within one-thousandth of a second of Earnhardt's mark. Johnson claimed his third win of the season last week at Dover but trails Newman by 16 points in the rookie standings despite having two more wins.
Newman has two poles and nine top-10 starts in the last 11 races. His speed of 176.898 mph in his Ford Taurus put him third on the grid.
Michael Waltrip, the pole-sitter for Saturday's Busch series event, qualified fourth in a Chevrolet. He was followed by Bill Elliott in a Dodge Intrepid.
Roberts, Perez share Texas Open lead
SAN ANTONIO, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- Loren Roberts shot a 7-under-par 63 Friday to match the day-old course record, but Pat Perez broke that record with a 62 to tie Roberts for the lead after two rounds of the Texas Open.
Roberts and Perez were at 10-under 130, one shot better than a group of five that included Andrew Magee and Bob Tway. Robert Gamez cooled off considerably after his record-setting first round and was among six players at 132.
Roberts, 47 and a father of two, joined the PGA Tour in 1981, when Perez was 5 years old. Perez, 26, is a tour rookie.
However, the pair has a bit in common. Both have earned more than $1 million this year without the benefit of a win. Both tied for second with David Gossett at the Buick Classic in June. And both fired their best round of the season Friday at the LaCantera Golf Club.
Burke signs extension
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., Sept. 28 (UPI) -- The Phoenix Coyotes, who surprised many when they signed free agent sniper Tony Amonte, inked goaltender Sean Burke to a multi-year extension Friday.
Terms of the deal were not released.
Burke was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy last season, when he set career highs with 33 wins, five shutouts and a 2.29 goals-against average. His .920 save percentage was tied for fifth in the NHL.
The 35-year-old Burke led a young team to a sixth-place finish in the Western Conference before losing in five games to the San Jose Sharks in the playoffs. The Coyotes were 33-16-16-6-4 in games Burke started and he was named NHL Player of the Month after going 9-1-0 with a 1.70 GAA in March.
Piniella suspended for one game
NEW YORK, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- Seattle Mariners manager Lou Piniella was suspended one game and fined an undisclosed amount Friday for his base-throwing incident following the ninth inning of a game Sept. 18 against the Texas Rangers.
Piniella argued when umpire C.B. Bucknor called Ben Davis out on a close play at first base. Replays appeared to show that Davis was safe.
In a classic tirade, Piniella picked up the bag and twice threw it down the right field line, then had to be restrained. To add insult to injury, Piniella pulled his hamstring while arguing with Bucknor.
Vargas tests positive for banned steroid
JERSEY CITY, N.J., Sept. 28 (UPI) -- Super welterweight Fernando Vargas, who boasted about his physical condition before suffering an 11th-round technical knockout against Oscar de la Hoya on Sept. 14, has tested positive for a banned anabolic steroid.
Mark Ratner, the executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commissioner, confirmed that a post-fight urinalysis showed the steroid stanozolol. A complaint is expected to be filed Monday or Tuesday and Vargas will have 30 days to have his case heard before the commission. There is no minimum or maximum penalty for testing positive.