Mississippi Sports Watch

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Like it or not, home-field advantage in the World Series will be on the line tonight when the National League All-Star team meets its American League counterpart in St. Louis.
The junior circuit will be working on a record 12-game unbeaten streak. The NL last won the Midsummer Classic in 1996. The two sides played to a tie in 2002 and the AL hasn't lost in six meetings since 2003, when the winning league started receiving home-field advantage in the Fall Classic.
After President Obama throws out the ceremonial first pitch, NL manager Charlie Manuel of the Phillies will hand the ball to Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum (LINZ'-ih-kuhm). The reigning Cy Young Award winner is 10-2 with a 2.33 ERA and tied for the major league lead with 149 strikeouts.
AL skipper Joe Maddon of the Rays will send Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay to the Busch Stadium mound. The veteran right-hander is 10-3 with a 2.85 ERA.
Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria will not participate in tonight's game. An infected right ring finger will keep him out of the American League starting lineup.
He's being replaced by Texas third baseman Michael Young.
Chone (shawn) Figgins of the Anaheim Angels is taking Longoria's place on the AL roster.
Young is a six-time All-Star who will be making his first start. He is batting .308 with 11 homers and 37 RBIs this season.
Figgins, a first-time All-Star, is hitting .310 with one homer, 28 RBIs and an AL-leading 68 runs.
Seattle right fielder Ichiro Suzuki leads off for the AL. He'll be followed by Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer and Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira (teh-SHEHR'-uh) in the cleanup spot. Boston left fielder Jason Bay will bat fifth, followed by Texas center fielder Josh Hamilton, Michael Young of the Rangers, Toronto second baseman Aaron Hill and then Halladay.
The NL batting order has Florida shortstop Hanley Ramirez leading off, with Philadelphia second baseman Chase Utley, St. Louis first baseman Albert Pujols (POO'-hohlz) and Milwaukee right fielder Ryan Braun to follow. Then it's Phillies left fielder Raul Ibanez in the five hole, followed by Mets third baseman David Wright, Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino, Cardinals catcher Yadier (YAH'-dee-ehr) Molina and Lincecum.
MLB-COLLUSION
Selig rejects accusation baseball owners colluded
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Baseball commissioner Bud Selig denies that teams conspired against free agents after the 2008 season.
As Michael Weiner prepares to succeed Donald Fehr as head of the players' union, several agents say they want to the union to file a collusion grievance against teams during the free-agent market last winter.
Selig said at a baseball writers meeting before tonight's All-Star game that agents are entitled to their opinion. He added, however, that he can't believe anyone would find collusion in baseball.
Agents are worried because no major players eligible for free agency have agreed to contract extensions. Agent Jeff Borris says there is a "general level of suspicion in the air."
MLB-SELIG/DRUG SUSPENSIONS
Selig: MLB should keep banned players from minors
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Baseball commissioner Bud Selig (SEE'-lihg) wants to keep players on drug suspensions from going to the minor leagues before they return.
Manny Ramirez drew sellout crowds last month in the minors when he played two games at Triple-A Albuquerque and three at Class-A Inland Empire on his rehabilitation assignment before his return to the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 3.
The Dodgers slugger was suspended 50 games for violating baseball's drug policy.
Selig says "I think that's something we really need to change in the next labor negotiation."
The current rules are in place through December 2011.
NFL-CHIEFS/CASSEL
AP source: Chiefs sign QB Cassel to long-term deal
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A person close to the negotiations tells The Associated Press that the Kansas City Chiefs have signed quarterback Matt Cassel (KAS'-uhl) to a multiyear deal.
The person did not describe terms of the deal to The AP.
The 27-year-old Cassel was obtained from New England during the offseason along with linebacker Mike Vrabel (VRAY'-bul) for Kansas City's second-round pick in 2010. He was 11-5 for the Patriots last year after taking over under center when Tom Brady sustained a season-ending knee injury during the season opener against the Chiefs.
The Patriots had made Cassel their franchise player, meaning he will be paid about $15 million this season.
NBA-NEWS
Bulls cut ties with Thomas, again
CHICAGO (AP) -- Forward Tim Thomas and the Chicago Bulls have agreed on a contract buyout. It ends the veteran's second stint with the Bulls.
Acquired from the New York Knicks in February, Thomas averaged 5.8 points and 2.3 rebounds in 18 games with Chicago. He was scheduled to make about $6.4 million next season, but the Bulls had no room for him after drafting forwards James Johnson and Taj Gibson last month.
The 32-year-old Thomas has averaged 11.6 points and 4.1 rebounds for six teams in 12 years. He was also dealt from the Knicks to the Bulls before the 2005-06 season, but played just three games for Chicago and was waived the following March.
Also from the pro basketball world comes word that the Indiana Pacers have signed Dahntay Jones.
According to his agent, the free agent guard has a four-year deal that's worth $11 million.
Jones started 71 games for the Denver Nuggets last season and played a key role in the team's run to the Western Conference finals. The defensive specialist averaged 5.4 points and 2.1 rebounds in the regular season, but increased those numbers to seven points and 2.4 rebounds in the postseason.
NHL-BLACKHAWKS/GM
Blackhawks oust GM Tallon
CHICAGO (AP) -- The Chicago Blackhawks abruptly ousted general manager Dale Tallon today, less than two months after the team he helped revive from the bottom of the standings reached the Western Conference finals.
Tallon, who was reassigned to senior adviser of hockey operations, was replaced by assistant GM Stan Bowman, the son of legendary NHL coach Scotty Bowman. The elder Bowman was hired last year as a senior adviser.
A clerical mistake may have hastened Tallon's departure. Last week, the NHL Players Association filed a grievance against the team, saying the Blackhawks missed the deadline for sending qualifying offers to restricted free agents. The Blackhawks ended up signing all their restricted free agents.
Tallon denies that the administrative problem and grievance had caused the Blackhawks to overpay the restricted free agents.
The 58-year-old Tallon has been a member of the organization for more 30 years, including five as a player and 10 in the front office. He was named general manager in June 2005
COLLEGE BASKETBALL-PROVIDENCE COACH
Providence hoops coach Davis signs contract extension
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- Providence men's basketball coach Keno Davis has been given a contract extension after winning 19 games in his first season with the Friars.
Davis, a former AP national coach of the year at Drake, went 10-8 in the Big East last season and 19-14 overall. He set a Providence record for the most wins by a first-season head coach. The Friars won the most games since 2004 but lost to Miami in the first round of the NIT.
The new contract will keep Davis at Providence through at least 2015-16.
CYCLING-TOUR DE FRANCE
Cavendish gets another stage win
ISSOUDUN, France (AP) -- Great Britain's Mark Cavendish won the 10th stage of the Tour de France.
Rinaldo Nocentini (noh-chehn-TEE'-nee) of Italy retained the leader's yellow jersey after a flat route that favored sprinters.
Cavendish's Astana teammates Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong remain second and third in the overall standings.
Cavendish edged Thor Hushovd of Norway in a sprint finish, breaking ahead in the final 200 yards for his third stage victory of the 2009 Tour.
Organizers banned rider earpieces for the 121-mile stage, forcing cyclists to devise tactics without radio instructions from team cars.
TENNIS-NADAL RETURN
Nadal recovering
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) -- Rafael Nadal plans to be back at practice next week and back on tour next month.
Nadal's publicist says the six-time Grand Slam title winner is in Barcelona for tests on his sore knees and is "slowly recovering from his injury."
He says Nadal will return to practice Monday and will play in the hard-court tournament at Montreal that begins Aug. 10.
Nadal has not played a match since being upset in the fourth round at the French Open in May. He did not defend his Wimbledon title and slipped from No. 1 to No. 2 in the rankings when Roger Federer claimed his record 15th Grand Slam title at the All England Club.
BOXING-GATTI DEATH
Gatti death: Lawyer asks for release of wife
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- The Brazilian wife of Arturo Gatti is petitioning to be released from jail. She is accused of strangling the former boxing champion with her purse strap as he drunkenly slept.
The women's lawyer tells The Associated Press he has asked a court to release 23-year-old Amanda Rodrigues while the investigation continues. He expects the court to rule no earlier than tomorrow.
Rodrigues called police after finding Gatti's body Saturday in their rented apartment in a resort in northeastern Brazil. Her lawyer says that indicates her willingness to help authorities.
Police say she is the only suspect and have ruled out the possibility of a third person entering the apartment and killing Gatti, or that he committed suicide.
BOXING-ROJAS/AOH
Rojas claims WBC featherweight title
TOKYO (AP) -- Elio Rojas of the Dominican Republic has become the new WBC featherweight champion with a unanimous decision over Takahiro Aoh of Japan.
Rojas dominated from the opening rounds today, and was never seriously challenged in the 12-round bout. The three judges scored it 116-113, 117-111, 118-110 for Rojas.
The 26-year-old Rojas improves to 21-1-0 with 13 knockouts. Aoh falls to 17-2-1.
It was the 25-year-old Aoh's first defense of the title he won from Oscar Larios of Mexico in March.


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