Wuerffel named Redskins starter
NASHVILLE, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Veteran Danny Wuerffel Saturday was named the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins when they play the Titans Sunday in Nashville Sunday.
The announcement was made by a terse Steve Spurrier, who has been besieged with questions about his quarterback plans for the past two weeks.
Wuerffel emerged as the front-runner for the job in the days after the Redskins' 20-10 loss at San Francisco Sept. 22. He will be making his first start in an NFL regular season game since 1998, when he was with the New Orleans Saints.
Spurrier had left open the competition between Wuerffel and rookie Patrick Ramsey, though he had indicated as the week wore on that Wuerffel would be the choice.
"We're going to give Danny an opportunity to play this game," Spurrier said. "He's set to go, he's practiced well. We have confidence he's going to play well. He's much more knowledgeable than Patrick, and he's the best prepared to play right now."
"I'm fired up," said Wuerffel. "It's a great opportunity. I love the game of football and I'm ready to use my mind and my body to have fun and to help the team win. I just try to be prepared for opportunities and sometimes they're few and far between. So as players, we always look forward to things like this."
Spurrier indicated that Ramsey would back up Wuerffel, and Shane Matthews, who started the team's first three games this season but was replaced in their two losses, will be the No. 3 third quarterback. He has been named NFC Offensive Player of the Week in the season-opening win over Arizona.
Ramsey has never taken a snap in a regular-season game.
"I think Danny will play well," Ramsey said. "If I get a chance, I'll make the most of it. Any competitor wants to get the chance, but I trust (Coach) Spurrier's decision. I'm just going to continue to progress and make the most of it when I'm called upon. I have no butterflies. This is what I've been preparing for. I feel much more prepared than I did a few weeks ago."
Spurrier also said that tight end Walter Rasby will play, but counterpart Zeron Flemister will start, and that tackle Chris Samuels and cornerback Fred Smoot, both of whom missed practice time this week, are expected to start.
Three teams play for World Series berths
MINNEAPOLIS, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- The Anaheim Angels and American League West-rival Oakland Athletics can advance to the Championship Series on Saturday, when all four best-of-five postseason series resume.
Anaheim has taken two of the first three games from the favored New York Yankees in stunning fashion, rallying for both of its wins, including Friday night's 9-6 victory that put the team on the brink of a franchise first.
The Angels have never won a postseason series, losing the American League Championship Series in
1979, '82 and 1986. They could advance that far this weekend.
Anaheim could end up facing the Athletics, who take a two games to one lead into their Division Series with the Minnesota Twins.
They need one win to return to the ALCS for the first time since 1992.
An all-West Division ALCS would begin Tuesday night in Oakland.
In the National League, the St. Louis Cardinals can sweep the defending but beleaguered World Series-champion Arizona Diamondbacks and advance to the Championship Series for the second time in three years Saturday night at Busch Stadium.
Earlier Saturday at Pacific Bell Park, the San Francisco Giants host the Atlanta Braves in an NL Division Series tied at one game apiece.
The wild-card-winning Angels gained the upper hand in their series Friday night by erasing a five-run deficit to win, 9-6. In Game Four, their ace, Jarrod Washburn, starts on three days' rest.
The Angels had a two games to none lead in 1982 and a three games to one advantage in '86 before losing three straight both times.
The Yankees have won the last four AL pennants and four of the past six World Series titles to increase their record total to 26.
The AL East champion Yankees hand the ball to veteran lefthander David Wells, who led the team with 19 wins during the regular season. He hopes to avoid the fate of the first three Yankees starters by pitching beyond the sixth inning.
The A's send Tim Hudson to the mound as they try to win a playoff series for the first time since the 1990 ALCS. They were knocked out of the ALDS by the Yankees in 2000 and 2001.
The Twins are hoping an always-raucous crowd at the Metrodome will help them force a Game Five Sunday in Oakland. They are in the postseason for the first time since they won the 1991 World Series.
With veteran Andy Benes taking the hill, the Cardinals are a win away from another trip to the NLCS. They made it their in 2000, but lost in five games to the New York Mets.
San Francisco returns home to Pacific Bell Park, where it won its last five games. The Braves take to the road after evening that series at a win apiece with a 7-3 victory Thursday night.
Piniella to stay with Seattle
SEATTLE, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Lou Piniella, who has had a successful career in the Pacific Northwest, will be back with the Seattle Mariners next season.
Piniella's name has been mentioned several times this week in the rash of firings across major league baseball. Six managers have been fired in the last week, starting with Bruce Kimm, who was only serving in an interim capacity with the Chicago Cubs, and followed by Luis Pujols in Detroit, Jerry Royster in Milwaukee, Bobby Valentine with the New York Mets, Jerry Narron in Texas, and Hal McRae at Tampa Bay.
Various media reports said Saturday that the Mets have been denied permission to speak with Piniella, who is from Tampa. A Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports said he has been hesitant about being connected with a team in his hometown.
One story in a New Jersey newspaper quoted an unnamed Mets source saying that club would be willing to compensate the Mariners with money or players to get Piniella as manager
Even so, he already is under contract through 2003 in Seattle, where he has said he intends to stay.
"Lou has a contract for 2003, and I expect that he will honor it," General Manager Pat Gillick told the paper. "There is no reason I can think of why he wouldn't. There are no out clauses in Lou's contract, and he has absolutely not asked out of it."
Seattle President Chuck Armstrong is angry about the rumors.
"I find the continued speculation in the media and elsewhere tantamount to indirect tampering," Armstrong told the Seattle Times.
In 2002, the Mariners finished third in the AL West with a 93-69 ledger. Last year, they set an American League regular season record by winning 116 games.
Piniella, a two-time AL Manager of the Year, has a 10-year record of 840-711. He has led the Mariners to their only four postseason appearances in 25 seasons.
Craybas makes final at Japan Open
TOKYO, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Jill Craybas of the United States and Denmark's Kenneth Carlsen each recorded career milestone Saturday in the semifinals of the Japan Open.
Craybas, 28, in the semifinals of a tournament for the first time ever, recorded a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 victory over second-seeded Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand. She will try to become the 12th woman to win her first career title in 2002 Sunday when she faces Silvija Talaja of Croatia.
Craybas lost in the second round of the Japan Open last year, ironically to Tanasugarn.
Carlsen, 29, seeking his first title since Hong Kong in 1998, won his first career meeting with eighth-seeded Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand, 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-5).
He is in a final for the first time since 1999 at Newport, and had reached the semifinals only once this year, losing to Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia at Halle in June.
Srichaphan ousted Australian Lleyton Hewitt, the world's top-ranked player and reigning Wimbledon Champion, in the semifinals. He was trying to reach a final for the fourth time this year.
Talaja, 24, needed just 65 minutes to beat Sarah Taylor of the U.S., 6-3, 6-4. She beat local favorite and top seed Ai Sugiyama, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, in the quarterfinals. She is looking for her third career title and first since 2000 at Gold Coast.
The 26-year-old Norman led the ATP Tour with 10 titles during the 1999-2000 seasons. He reached two finals last year, but his season ended in August when he underwent hip surgery.
The men's champion gets $111,600 and the women's winner receives $27,000.