Wednesday Sports in Brief
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — A pair of U.S. senators from opposing parties is proposing that the federal government take back control of sports gambling in America, the first formal move by Congress after a Supreme Court ruling reopened a complex debate over fans betting on games and who controls the action.
Several states have begun offering sports betting after New Jersey won a long-fought challenge in May, and many others are expected to take up the issue during new legislative sessions in 2019 as a way to generate millions in revenue.
The federal bill introduced Wednesday by Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, and Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah would have the U.S. Justice Department set minimum standards for states to offer sports betting. It does not explicitly provide the sports leagues the cut of gambling revenue they have been seeking, so-called “integrity fees,” but does not prohibit them, either.
HAVANA (AP) — Major League Baseball, its players’ association and the Cuban Baseball Federation reached an agreement that will allow players from the island nation to sign big league contracts without defecting, an effort to eliminate the dangerous trafficking that had gone on for decades.
The agreement, which runs through Oct. 31, 2021, allows Cubans to sign under rules similar to those for players under contract to clubs in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
Only players under contract to the Cuban federation are covered by the agreement, and the Cuban federation agreed to release all players 25 and older with at least six years of professional experience. They would be classified as international professionals under MLB’s labor contract and not subject to international amateur signing bonus pools.
HOUSTON (AP) — Free agent outfielder Michael Brantley and the Houston Astros have finalized a $32 million, two-year contract.
The 31-year-old, whose deal was announced Wednesday, had spent his entire 10-year career with the Cleveland Indians, where he was a three-time All-Star.
Brantley is a career .295 hitter and gives Houston an upgrade to an outfield anchored by center fielder George Springer.
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester United turned to a popular former player by hiring Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as manager until the end of the season on Wednesday, 20 seasons after he scored the winning goal in the Champions League final.
Nicknamed the “Baby-Faced Assassin” during his time as a United player from 1996-2007, Solskjaer was known for his lethal finishing and ability to conjure up late goals typically as a substitute — none bigger than that close-range winner three minutes into injury time against Bayern Munich at Camp Nou in 1999.
Now he is on another rescue mission at United: To resuscitate the team after its worst start to a league season in 28 years, which led to the firing of Jose Mourinho on Tuesday after 2½ years in charge.
Nicholson was arrested early Tuesday morning and charged with assault and battery and being drunk in public stemming from a fight at a restaurant and retail complex near the team’s practice facility in Ashburn, Virginia. Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Kraig Troxell confirmed Nicholson’s arrest and said Tuesday the 23-year-old had been released on $2,500 bond.
Police say Nicholson and 24-year-old Sydney Maggiore were involved in a verbal altercation that escalated to a physical assault of two victims, one man and one woman.
The Panthers made the decision to shut down the 2015 league MVP for at least one game and possibly the remainder of the season due to a lingering right shoulder problem.
Five-time Olympic champion Missy Franklin is retiring from swimming at age 23. She cites chronic shoulder pain that has affected her for the last 2½ years.
She announced her plans Wednesday in a letter posted on ESPN.com .
Franklin’s success and bubbly personality made her a darling of the 2012 London Olympics. At age 17, she became the first woman to win four gold medals in a single Olympics in any sport.
NEW YORK (AP) — Edmonton Oilers forward Jujhar Khaira was suspended for two games without pay by the NHL on Wednesday for cross-checking St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn.
Khaira was assessed a major penalty for cross-checking and given a game misconduct Tuesday night in the third period of the Oilers’ 4-1 home loss. The suspension will cost Khaira $7,258.
Earlier Wednesday, Dunn was fined $1,942 for cross-checking Khaira.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Bristol Motor Speedway has a deal with the group that runs racing at Nashville’s historic short track trying to bring NASCAR races back to Music City.
Terms of the agreement announced Wednesday were not announced and still must be approved by the Metro Nashville Board of Fair Commissioners.
Formosa Productions Inc., which has a multi-year contract to manage the Fairgrounds Speedway, and BMS will work with Metro Nashville on a long-range plan to improve the facilities at the historic short track and bring high-profile races. That could include NASCAR events once the track meets certain standards.
The track, owned by Nashville, last hosted a top NASCAR series race in 1984.
OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Kevin Reynolds has announced his retirement from competitive figure skating, ending a career that includes an Olympic silver medal.
Reynolds was part of Canada’s squad that won silver when the team event debuted at the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.
He also won a gold medal in men’s singles at Four Continents, and bronze in the junior men’s event at the 2006 Grand Prix Finals.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana attorney general says his office is investigating USA Gymnastics, which has filed for bankruptcy due to the Larry Nassar sexual-abuse scandal.
USA Gymnastics, based in Indianapolis, is the national governing body for the sport. It filed for bankruptcy protection on Dec. 5 to reorganize its finances while it faces lawsuits from Nassar’s victims, who accuse USA Gymnastics of failing to supervise the doctor.
In a statement Wednesday, Attorney General Curtis Hill says his office has been investigating USA Gymnastics for about a year.
Two senators have introduced a bill that would criminalize international doping conspiracies, the likes of which Russia pursued during the Sochi Olympics in 2014.
The measure is named after Grigory Rodchenkov, the Moscow lab director who blew the whistle on Russian cheating. It is similar to a bill introduced in the House earlier this year but is given a better chance of passing in part because it focuses on large-scale corruption and eliminates language that would put individuals in jeopardy for smaller offenses.
Sponsored by Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, the bill calls for fines of up to $1 million and prison sentences of up to 10 years for those who participate in schemes designed to influence international sports competitions through doping.
STADIUM NAMING RIGHTS
SEATTLE (AP) — The Seattle Mariners will play at T-Mobile Park beginning next year under a new 25-year naming rights deal.
The team on Wednesday announced the agreement, which takes effect Jan. 1 and runs through December 2043.
The Mariners’ ballpark has been known as Safeco Field since it opened in 1999 as part of a 20-year agreement. Safeco Insurance and the Mariners announced in June 2017 that the agreement wouldn’t be renewed following the 2018 season.
The new naming rights deal runs the length of a new lease the team recently finalized with the public board that oversees the ballpark.