Eagles say McNabb to be a starter
PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- The Philadelphia Eagles Tuesday announced that Donovan McNabb will be a playoff starter at quarterback.
Coach Andy Reid made the declaration on McNabb when the Eagles host Atlanta Saturday night in an NFC Divisional playoff contest.
McNabb missed the last six regular season games after suffering a broken right ankle in a game Nov. 11 against Arizona. He returned to practice last Thursday and pronounced himself ready to play, but Reid waited until Tuesday to make the official announcement.
"I'm comfortable with him (McNabb) right now," Reid said. "He'll continue to practice this week and sharpen everything up, and I'm not worried (about him). He's pain free, and has looked sharp between last week and today."
The Eagles went 5-1 in McNabb's absence, and clinched home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. They won at San Francisco on Nov. 25 with backup quarterback Koy Detmer, who dislocated his elbow in the game. Third-string quarterback A.J. Feeley then took over and won four of five starts.
McNabb, the NFL's highest-paid player with a $115 million contract, led the Eagles to a 7-3 record, completing 58 percent of his passes for 2,289 yards and 17 touchdowns with six interceptions. He also rushed for 460 yards and six scores.
McNabb, 25, broke his ankle on the Eagles' first series of the 38-14 win over Arizona when he was sacked by linebacker LeVar Woods and safety Adrian Wilson. McNabb fumbled on the play and stayed on the turf, clutching his leg.
Despite the injury, he returned to the game with his ankle heavily taped. He played with a noticeable limp, but gave a courageous effort, completing 20-of-25 passes for 255 yards while matching a career high with four touchdown passes.
The two-time Pro Bowler led the Eagles to the NFC championship game last season.
Earlier this year, the Eagles rewarded McNabb by making him the game's highest paid player with a 12-year, $115 million contract. That deal surpassed a previous agreement for $103 million signed by Buffalo counterpart Drew Bledsoe when he was with the New England Patriots before the 2001 season.
As the Eagles' starting signal-caller, which came about near the end of his rookie campaign in 1999, McNabb has guided the Eagles to a 32-18 record, including three playoff wins.
He earned his second trip to the Pro Bowl following the 2001 season after combining for 3,715 yards of total offense and establishing career highs in touchdown passes (25) and quarterback rating (84.3).
In his first full season as a starter, McNabb finished as runnerup in the NFL MVP voting after throwing for 3,365 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Murray, Carter elected to Hall of Fame
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y., Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Eddie Murray and Gary Carter have been elected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.
Murray, one of the most productive hitters of all time, had a contemptuous relationship with the media, but was elected in his first year of eligibility, earning 423 votes.
Carter was a near-miss last season, but made it on his sixth try this time with 387 votes.
Murray was one of only three players in baseball history to record 500 home runs and 3,000 hits. Carter was an 11-time All-Star catcher elected to his sixth year of eligibility.
Needing 75 percent of the ballots or 372 votes from the Baseball Writers Association of America for election, Murray led all candidates with 85.3 percent, or 423 votes. Carter missed election by 11 votes last year, but this time made it by 15 votes, receiving support on 78 percent of the ballots.
None of the other candidates under consideration for the Class of 2003 came close.
Reliever Bruce Sutter received votes on 53.6 percent of the ballots. He was followed by outfielders Jim Rice (52.2 percent) and Andre Dawson (50 percent). Second baseman Ryne Sandberg, a first-time candidate, received 49.2 percent support.
Murray became the 38th first-ballot selection among the Hall of Fame's 99 members chosen by the BBWAA since 1936, and only the second first baseman. Willie McCovey was the first in 1986.
It was a bittersweet day for Murray, who Tuesday also attended the funeral of a younger sister who passed away from diabetes. In light of the unfortunate circumstances surrounding Murray, the news conference in Manhattan to salute the newest Hall of Famers, scheduled for Wednesday, has been postponed to Jan. 16.
Murray, who played for six teams in his 21-year major league career, issued the following statement on his election:
"I am thrilled by the tremendous honor of being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and joining the other greats of the game. For those with whom I shared space on the playing field and in the clubhouse, I share this honor with you. Unfortunately, I cannot speak with you today because of the passing last week of my younger sister Tanja after her long-fought battle with kidney disease. Although I dedicated my professional career to the game, I have dedicated my life to my family. The elation I feel by being recognized for my achievements on the field is overshadowed by the anguish of losing someone so dear to me. Once again, thank you for this incredible honor and I appreciate your understanding during this most difficult time."
While Murray mourned the loss of his sister, Carter was golfing when he heard news of his election.
"I was on the 18th hole and I got overly excited and screamed," Carter said. "I'm flying high today. To be part of that elite group is very special."
Ironically, the image of the often-brooding Murray with the perpetual scowl is in marked contrast to that of Carter, who showed his enthusiasm with an amiable smile.
While Murray had a contemptuous relationship with the media, Carter was always accessible to reporters. Yet, Murray appeared to be more beloved by his teammates while Carter was perceived by some of his as a self-promoter. Both were known for their reliability and consistent production.
Murray, a eight-time All-Star, finished in the top 10 in the MVP voting eight times and holds the major league record for games played by a first baseman. He was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1977 and a member of the world champion Baltimore Orioles in 1983.
The three-time Gold Glove Award winner had 11 20-homer seasons and six 100-RBI seasons. He finished with a .287 batting average, 504 homers and 1,917 RBI.
Since he spent 12 of his 21 years in Baltimore, Murray will likely go into the Hall of Fame as a member of the Orioles. He also played for Los Angeles, the New York Mets, Cleveland and Anaheim.
Carter, a 19-year veteran and three-time Gold Glove Award winner, was a career .262 hitter with 324 homers and 1,225 RBI. He was a member of the 1986 world champion New York Mets, and holds the National League record for games caught.
Nicknamed "The Kid," Carter played his first 11 seasons and ended his career in 1992 with the Montreal Expos. He was with the Mets for just five years, but led them to the postseason twice.
"My heart is torn between both ballclubs," Carter said when asked if he will enter the Hall as the first member of the Expos or as a member of the Mets. "Maybe I can split the cap two ways."
Lee Smith, baseball's all-time saves leader with 478, received 42 percent of the votes in his first year of eligibility. Sutter, who has been on the ballot for 10 years and is credited with the development of the split finger fastball, received the most votes among closers. He finished with 300 saves and a 2.84 ERA in 661 games.
The late Darryl Kile appeared on the ballot less than six months after his death and received seven votes.
It marked the second time that a player has appeared on the ballot before enduring the mandatory five-year waiting period. The other was Thurman Munson in 1981.
In 2002, only Ozzie Smith received the necessary amount of votes.
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place on July 27.
Steinbrenner calls most powerful
NEW YORK, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner Tuesday was called the most powerful owner in sports.
He is heading into his 31st year as Yankees' owner. He was called the most powerful boss in sports by the Sporting News.
Since 1990, the Sporting News has released an annual list of the 100 individuals who wield the most influence in sports. Last year's recipient, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, dropped one spot to second, switching places with Steinbrenner, 72, who has ranked in the top 10 in each of the last three years.
Steinbrenner, known for his willingness to spend freely for free agents and his volatile outbursts, has seen the Yankees win six World Series titles and nine American League pennants in his three-decade reign.
Most recently, he purchased an interest in the NBA's New Jersey Nets, who reached the NBA Finals last season, and the NHL's New Jersey Devils. He also created his own cable network, the YES network, to air Yankees, Nets and Devils games.
This marks the first time since 1993 that a team owner has finished ahead of the commissioners of the four major sports. Atlanta Braves owner Ted Turner was the last to do so.
"George Steinbrenner, love him or hate him, is still the envy of sports fans and team owners alike, simply based on the power he has to seemingly sign any player, regardless of salary, a luxury most professional sports teams don't have," said John Rawlings, Senior Vice President and Editorial Director of the Sporting News. "However, many people do not know that his interests extend beyond baseball to the NBA, NHL and the Olympic Games, as well as television. He is clearly the most prominent and influential owner in all of sports."
Minor league deal for Kreuter
IRVING, Texas, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- The Texas Rangers Tuesday agreed to terms with free agent catcher Chad Kreuter on a minor league contract.
Financial terms were not disclosed, but Kreuter was invited to spring training as a non-roster player.
Kreuter, a 38-year-old switch-hitter, spent his first four years with Texas, which allowed long-time catcher Ivan Rodriguez to become a free agent in the offseason.
He tied a major league record for most hits in an inning in his major league debut when he collected a single and a home run off Dave Stewart of Oakland on Sept. 14, 1988.
Kreuter played 41 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2002 and hit .263 with two home runs and 12 RBI. The veteran of 15 seasons with Texas, Detroit, Seattle, the Chicago White Sox, Anaheim, Kansas City and Los Angeles has a .238 career average with 54 homers and 274 RBI in 937 games.
Stynes signs with Rockies
DENVER, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Free agent third baseman Chris Stynes Tuesday signed with the Colorado Rockies.
The Rockies are hoping that a full season at Coors Field turns things around for Stynes, who agreed to a one-year contract. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Stynes was paid $1.25 million last season by the Chicago Cubs, and was their Opening Day third baseman.
Stynes hit just .241 with five home runs and 26 RBI in 98 games, but he was defensive gem, committing just five errors while playing 40 games at third base and 20 at second base.
Stynes, who turns 30 on Jan. 19, had a career year in 2000 with Cincinnati, batting .334 with 12 homers and 40 RBI in 119 games. While his numbers have declined each of the last two seasons, he has a .493 (34-for-69) career average at Coors Field with two homers and six RBI.
Stynes should move in at third base, a position occupied last year by Todd Zeile, who signed as a free agent with the New York Yankees.
Royals ink Lopez
KANSAS CITY, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- The Kansas City Royals Tuesday sign veteran righthander Albie Lopez to a one-year contract.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
Lopez, 31, made 30 appearances for Atlanta last season, including just four starts, and posted a 1-4 record with a 4.37 ERA. The 10-year veteran owns a career record of 43-56 with four saves and a 4.73 ERA.
Lopez, who also has pitched for Cleveland and Tampa Bay, rejoins catcher Mike DiFelice, who signed with Kansas City last week.
The two were teammates with the Devil Rays for parts of four seasons before both were traded to Arizona, where Lopez was a member of the 2001 world champion Diamondbacks.
The Royals expect Lopez to battle youngsters Runelvys Hernandez, Miguel Asencio, Chris George, Darrell May, and Shawn Sedlacek for a starting spot in the rotation. Kansas City lost 17-game winner Paul Byrd to free agency and did not tender a contract to veteran Jeff Suppan.
Raptors waive two
The Toronto Raptors waived the pair, and will sign guard Rafer Alston and forward Art Long to 10-day contracts on Wednesday.
Foster and Jackson were signed to replace injured players after the Raptors were granted roster exemptions by the NBA under the special hardship rule. On numerous occasions this season, Toronto has dressed as few as eight players because of injuries.
Foster was signed on Nov. 6 and played in 28 games, starting nine. The 12-year veteran averaged 4.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 19 minutes per contest.
Jackson was signed on Nov. 20 and saw action in 24 games, averaging 2.8 points and 1.6 assists in just under 12 minutes per game. He attended the Raptors' training camp, but was released on Oct. 25.
The 6-2 Alston had been playing in the NBA Developmental League with the Mobile Revelers, where he averaged 15.8 points and 9.7 assists in six games. He also played in six exhibition games with the Golden State Warriors before being released.
Alston, a second-round draft choice by Milwaukee in 1998, averaged 2.8 points and 2.5 assists in 114 career games with the Bucks.
Long began the season with Philadelphia and was traded to the Denver Nuggets on Dec. 18, but was waived two days later. He averaged 2.1 points and 2.1 rebounds in 19 games for the 76ers.
The 6-9 Long has averaged 3.6 points and 3.1 rebounds in 91 career games with the Sacramento Kings, Seattle Sonics and 76ers.
Wild loses Fernandez
MINNEAPOLIS, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Minnesota Wild goaltender Manny Fernandez will be sidelined about a month with a sprained left MCL.
The team made the announcement Tuesday.
Fernandez was injured in the second period of Monday's 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings. An MRI on Tuesday revealed a second-degree MCL sprain.
Fernandez, the 28-year-old nephew of Coach Jacques Lemaire, is 11-8-1 with a 2.38 goals-against average and .921 save percentage in 21 games while sharing time with Dwayne Roloson.
Surprising Minnesota recalled Dieter Kochan from Houston of the American Hockey League, but Lemaire said he plans to use Roloson exclusively as his No. 1 netminder. Kochan, who played 20 games over three seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning, was 13-5-2 with a shutout and a 2.45 GAA in the AHL.
In just their third season, the Wild are in fourth place in the Western Conference with 50 points, five behind Dallas for the top spot.