Philippines to meet big guns
After winning their first two matches against Pakistan and Hong Kong, the Philippines yesterday drew their third and final Group B preliminary game of the Asian Baseball Championship with Thailand in Taichung 0-0 after 12 innings to win the group and qualify for the competition proper, which features Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. The winner of the championship gains automatic entry to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
Selig puts trust in 'love'
Baseball fans' love of their sport reduces concerns about the impact of the Mitchell Report on drug use or the fate of Barry Bonds, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said on Wednesday. "We've had this steroid cloud, as it's been referred to, for the last four years and every year we break all-time attendance records and we'll do it again next year," Selig told the Reuters Media Summit, adding that the image of the game was important to him. "The game has this amazing hold on people," Selig said. "Even [despite] the negative things." Baseball revenues increased last season from US$5.2 billion to US$6.08 billion, boosted by record 2007 attendances of more than 78 million.
Yabuta signs with Royals
Japanese reliever Yasuhiko Yabuta agreed to a two-year contract with the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday and will compete for a spot as the primary setup man. The 34-year-old right-hander spent 12 seasons with the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan's Pacific League, a team managed by Trey Hillman before he was hired by the Royals after the season. Yabuta has a 44-59 career record with nine saves and a 4.03 ERA in 343 appearances, including 86 starts. Yabuta was 4-6 with four saves and a 2.73 ERA in 58 relief outings this year. He walked 10 in 62 2-3 innings and struck out 45.
■ Figure Skating
Delobel, Schoenfelder lead
European champions Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder of France took the lead in the ice dance event yesterday as the NHK Trophy began to determine the final berths in the Grand Prix final. Delobel and Schoenfelder, who won the French leg of the International Skating Union's Grand Prix series two weeks ago, skated a smooth Argentine Tango to open up lead of more than four points after the compulsory dance. They scored 38.96 points while Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir were second with 34.67. In third were Russia's Jana Kohkhlova and Sergei Novitski with 34.23. They beat Delobel and Schoenfelder in the free dance in Paris. Later yesterday the pairs were to skate their short program. The ice dance continues today with the original dance.
Winners get paid at last
Just weeks before the 2007 Las Vegas Marathon, organizers said they paid out top prizes to last year's winners. On Nov. 21, reigning men's champion Joseph Kahugu received his US$15,000 first-place prize, plus his US$50,000 bonus for winning the event's male-female challenge. Fellow Kenyan Jemima Jelagat received her US$15,000 first-place money as the women's winner in last December's race. Shawn Hellebuyck, the agent for Jelagat, said the process dragged out much longer than she could have imagined. "Forty-five days is a good guesstimate, and if there's drug-testing at the event, then perhaps two months," Hellebuyck said. "And there was no drug testing last year.