Thursday Sports in Brief

MLB

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Major League Baseball intends to impose new limits on what live video is available to teams, and Commissioner Rob Manfred hopes to complete his investigation into alleged electronic sign stealing by the Boston Red Sox before spring training camps open next week.

“I think you should assume that before the season starts we will have new guidelines with respect to the use of video equipment,” Manfred said Thursday after an owners meeting. “I think we have too much video available in real time right now.”

After former Houston pitcher Mike Fiers told The Athletic in November that the Astros used a video camera to steal the signs of opposing catchers in 2017 and 2018, Manfred last month suspended Houston manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow for one season, fined the Astros $5 million and stripped them of their first- and second-round drafts picks in 2020 and 2021.

Hinch and Luhnow were fired the same day, and the scandal led to the departures of Boston manager Alex Cora, Houston’s bench coach during its 2017 title run, and New York Mets manager Carlos Beltrán, an Astros player that season.

MLB is investigating a separate allegation the Red Sox broke sign-stealing rules in 2018, when Cora led Boston to the championship in his first season as manager.

Manfred did not punish any Houston players and said no Red Sox players will be sanctioned. But he left open the possibility of discipline for future violations.

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred and the New York Mets say talks have ended over the proposed sale of a controlling share of the team from the families of Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz to hedge fund manager Steve Cohen.

The Mets said Thursday night in a statement they intend to find another buyer, although it’s unclear if a future transaction would involve a controlling share of the franchise.

The Mets said Dec. 4 the contemplated deal between Sterling Partners and Cohen would have allowed 83-year-old Fred Wilpon to remain controlling owner and chief executive officer for five years. His son Jeff would have remained chief operating officer during that time as well.

The Mets statement called the proposed deal “a highly complicated one.”

“Despite the efforts of the parties over the past several months, it became apparent that the transaction as contemplated would have been too difficult to execute,” the team said.

NEW YORK (AP) — Former Astros manager AJ Hinch isn’t dismissing the idea that Houston’s 2017 World Series championship has been tainted by the sign-stealing scandal that cost him his job.

“It’s a fair question,” Hinch said in an interview with MLB Network. “And I think everyone’s going to have to draw their own conclusion.”

Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were suspended for one season by Commissioner Rob Manfred, who found Houston illicitly used electronics to steal signs during their title run. Team owner Jim Crane then fired both Hinch and Luhnow.

In an excerpt from an interview set to air Friday night, Hinch defended his players’ talents but said the clubhouse put itself in a position where its achievements may be blemished.

“I hope over time, it’s proven that it wasn’t,” he said. “But I understand the question. … Unfortunately, we opened that door.”

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Major League Baseball will have a new disciplinarian.

Hall of Famer Joe Torre, who has headed baseball operations at the commissioner’s office since 2011, is shifting to a role as special assistant to the commissioner.

Former pitcher Chris Young will replace Torre as the person who decides suspensions and fines for on-field matters, such as intentionally hitting batters, charging the mound and fights.

Torre, who turns 80 in July, is expected to travel less during the season. A nine-time All-Star from 1960-77, Torre managed for 29 seasons through 2010 and won four World Series titles with the New York Yankees.

NBA

MIAMI (AP) — Most of the top NBA playoff contenders stayed out of the down-to-the-wire frenzy at the trade deadline.

Miami and the Los Angeles Clippers beefed up instead.

And a slew of other teams — including the Golden State Warriors — made moves with short-term finances and long-term ramifications in mind.

The NBA’s 3 p.m. EST deadline Thursday for trades to be consummated did not arrive quietly, with a flurry of deals getting struck in the final hour and at least one other notable move falling apart before reaching the finish line. Deals that included at least 41 players and 15 future draft picks were struck on either Wednesday or Thursday — the biggest move likely being the one Thursday that saw Andrew Wiggins going from Minnesota to the Warriors so D’Angelo Russell could leave Golden State finally be paired with his good friend Karl-Anthony Towns with the Timberwolves.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A public memorial service for Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others killed in a helicopter crash is planned for Feb. 24 at Staples Center, a person with knowledge of the details told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The arena is where Bryant starred for the Los Angeles Lakers for two decades and the date 2/24 corresponds with the No. 24 jersey he wore and the No. 2 worn by his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.

No official announcement about the memorial has been made. The person who provided the information to the AP is knowledgeable about the planning and spoke only on condition of anonymity. The Los Angeles Times was first to report the event, citing two anonymous sources with knowledge of the planning.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has said a memorial would be held but his office had no immediate comment, nor did the Lakers or Staples Center.

—By Associated Press Writer Stefanie Dazio.

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Knicks plan to hire agent Leon Rose to take over their basketball operations, a person with knowledge of the details said.

Rose will replace Steve Mills, who was fired as team president on Tuesday.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because talks are ongoing. The plans were first reported by ESPN and SNY.

The Knicks released a statement in which Madison Square Garden executive chairman James Dolan said he hoped to conclude the search for a new president quickly.

—By Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer and its players have reached a new five-year collective bargaining agreement in time for the start of the season later this month.

The new contract must be approved by the MLS Board of Governors and the membership of the Major League Soccer Players Association.

The agreement includes greater investment in player spending, and flexibility for the league’s teams in spending those funds. It also expands free agency and allows teams to take more charter flights, which the players had prioritized.

The deal also gives players a share of the media rights deals in 2023 and 2024.

OLYMPICS

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — For the first time, a woman has been chosen to launch the torch relay for the 2020 Tokyo Games at the birthplace of the ancient Olympics in Greece.

Greece’s Olympic committee said Thursday it has picked Rio de Janeiro shooting gold medalist Anna Korakaki as the first torchbearer following the flame-lighting ceremony in Ancient Olympia on March 12.

The carefully-choreographed ceremony is led by an actress posing as an ancient Greek priestess who lights the flame using a a bowl-shaped mirror to focus the heat of the sun’s rays on her torch. She will then pass it on to Korakaki.

The torch relay will course through Greece for a week before the flame is handed over to Tokyo organizing officials at a ceremony in Athens. The last torchbearer will also be a woman — Greece’s Katerina Stefanidi who won the pole vault gold medal at Rio.

COURTS

DENVER (AP) — A former sports medicine executive at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the federation, contending he was fired for urging managers to react more strongly to his concerns about abuse and other athlete-safety issues.

Bill Moreau, the former vice president of sports medicine, filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Denver. He was fired in May 2019 after working for the USOPC for 10 years.

“This case is not only about the way the USOC treated me, it is also about protecting the athletes that the USOC has for far too long knowingly put in harm’s way,” Moreau said of the federation that recently changed its name from “USOC.”

The USOPC, which has often provided minimal context or comment in regard to litigation, put out a stronger statement regarding this lawsuit.

“We regret that Dr. Moreau and his attorney have misrepresented the causes of his separation from the USOPC,” said spokeswoman Luella Chavez D’Angelo. “We will honor their decision to see this matter through in the courts, and we won’t comment on the specifics as that goes forward.”