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  • 01/29/13--20:14: Sports in brief
  • Times wires
    Tuesday, January 29, 2013

    SOCCER

    AMERICANS TIE CANADA 0-0

    HOUSTON — The United States prepared for its opener in the final round of World Cup qualifying with a dull 0-0 draw Tuesday against Canada as defender Omar Gonzalez returned to the American national team after a two-year absence. U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann changed all 11 starters from November's 2-2 draw at Russia and is likely to change the entire lineup again for the Feb. 6 qualifier at Honduras. Three U.S. starters made their national team debuts: Tony Beltran, Matt Besler and Justin Morrow. Will Bruin and Alfredo Morales made their debuts when they entered in the 74th minute.

    ALTIDORE TARGET OF RACISM: American forward Jozy Altidore was the target of racist chants during AZ Alkmaar's 5-0 win at Den Bosch in the quarterfinals of the Dutch Cup. Altidore, who is black, said he had never faced such serious abuse. "There's nothing I can do about it," he told Dutch television. "All I can do is pray for them and hope they can become better people." Altidore scored a goal and had an assist in the match.

    COLLEGES

    Gators open by sweeping Bulls

    Danielle Collins of St. Petersburg won her college dual match debut, 7-5, 6-0 over USF's Fanny Fracassi, as the top-ranked Florida women's tennis team opened with a 7-0 victory over the visiting Bulls (1-2).

    LACROSSE

    Match slated for St. Petersburg

    Al Lang Stadium will host the first Major League Lacrosse match in St. Petersburg when the Rochester Rattlers play the defending champion Chesapeake Bayhawks at 7:30 p.m. April 27. MLL, contemplating expansion, had its All-Star Game in Boca Raton last season. See MLLTampaBay.com for tickets, which go on sale Saturday, and other information.

    ET CETERA

    CYCLING: The World Anti-Doping Agency called the International Cycling Union "deceitful" for closing its independent doping panel in the wake of Lance Armstrong's scandal, and said it won't participate in the governing body's amnesty commission.

    AUTOS: Indy Lights champion Tristan Vautier will move up to IndyCar with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports this season, joining Simon Pagenaud on a two-car team.

    TENNIS: No. 2 seed Maria Kirilenko and No. 4 Sorana Cirstea won in straight sets in the first round of the Pattaya (Thailand) Open.

    Times wires


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    By Tom Jones, Times Staff Writer
    Tuesday, January 29, 2013

    TAMPA — Jay Feaster, the architect of the Lightning's 2004 Stanley Cup championship team, was back at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Tuesday night, reminiscing about that magical season.

    Sure, he mentioned Marty St. Louis' MVP award and bragged about Brad Richards, Vinny Lecavalier and the Bulin Wall. He laughed about coach John Tortorella telling folks to shut their yaps.

    But when asked the key to that Cup season, do you know what Feaster said?

    Adding veteran defenseman Darryl Sydor.

    How interesting.

    Something similar could be said about this year's Lightning, which is starting to have that same hey-what-do-we-have-here look that the 2003-04 team did.

    St. Louis and Lecavalier are still kicking around and there's Steven Stamkos, of course. Rookie Cory Conacher, with a spectacular breakaway goal Tuesday night in the Lightning's 5-2 victory over the Panthers, looks like something special.

    But do you know who might be two of the most underrated, yet critical pieces to the Lightning's 2013 puzzle?

    A couple of veteran defense­men signed just days apart as free agents in July. That would be 38-year-old Sami Salo and 28-year-old Matt Carle.

    It's not about their goals. Heck, they only have one between them. It's not about big hits. Neither is a bone-crusher.

    It's not even something that can be found on a scoresheet or even in a highlight clip. Yet their fingerprints were all over yet another Lightning victory.

    Their play has been crucial to the Lightning's fast start and could be the reason it has legitimate Cup hopes this season.

    Says who? Says everybody with the Lightning, starting with coach Guy Boucher.

    "A huge impact," Boucher said.

    What exactly have Salo and Carle done? Here are just a few things.

    Turned a below-average defense into an above-average one

    An NHL defense isn't defined by its parts, but by the sum of those parts. Last season's leaky defense was made up of a couple of dependable defensemen and whole lot of spit and duct tape. Adding Salo and Carle means adding a combined 19 years of NHL experience, as well as the necessary pieces to put together three solid defensive pairings.

    "What they do is solidify pairings, not what they do individually," Boucher said. "We very often look at what this guy is bringing or what that guy is bringing. You can never take a player out of the context and circumstances."

    In other words, they make everyone else on defense better, including specific individuals. For example …

    They make Eric Brewer better

    Adding Salo and Carle means that Eric Brewer, the team's de facto No. 1 defenseman last season, doesn't have to overextend himself. Instead of playing 27 or 28 so-so minutes, Brewer can now play a sturdy 18-20 minutes.

    "Now he gets the opportunity to play in a slot that he can handle," Boucher said.

    Brewer has been paired with Carle, and the result is Brewer already has three goals and looks as fresh in the third periods as he does in the first.

    "It has been good, so far," Carle said.

    "We're trying," Brewer said, "and it is getting more comfortable every game."

    They make Victor Hedman better

    Two years ago, playing alongside long-time NHL veteran Mattias Ohlund, Hedman had his best and most consistent season. Perhaps it's no coincidence that Hedman's game turned erratic last season with Ohlund missing the entire season with a knee injury.

    Salo has replaced Ohlund as the steady hand next to Hedman and Hedman, again, is getting more A's and B's on his report cards than C's and D's.

    "When you look at Heddy," Boucher said, "he needed an older guy to give him a chance to go on offense without having to worry what's going to happen back (on defense.)"

    The result of that pairing? Salo is an NHL-best plus-10. Hedman is a plus-8 and had another assist Tuesday.

    Final analysis

    When it comes to Salo and Carle, it's the subtle things. It's the poise to hold on to the puck an extra second in the defensive zone instead of playing hot potato. It's shifting a few feet this way or that to give someone like Lecavalier or St. Louis an open shooting lane. It's knowing when to pitch in on offense and get back on defense.

    As Boucher said, teams can win with average goaltending, but they cannot win unless they have a good defense. The Lightning, for now anyway, has a good defense thanks to Carle and Salo.

    If this season does turn into something special, someday general manager Steve Yzerman might reminisce about the time he signed Salo and Carle


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    By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
    Tuesday, January 29, 2013

    TAMPA — The last thing Cory Conacher did before Tuesday night's game was make sure his skates were laced correctly.

    The Lightning's rookie left wing is superstitious that way, especially after a morning skate during which he fell twice after lacing up incorrectly.

    "It was almost like I didn't know how to skate," Conacher said. "It was weird."

    Things were back to normal during Tampa Bay's 5-2 victory over the Panthers at the Tampa Bay Times Forum as Conacher had a highlight-reel goal, another wiped out by a penalty, an assist and generally was all over the ice.

    "He is incredibly fast," teammate B.J. Crombeen said. "It's just not speed. He's very smart. He plays hard and competes."

    The Lightning (5-1-0), winners of four straight, had several players follow Conacher's lead.

    Forwards Tom Pyatt, Dana Tyrell and Vinny Lecavalier each had a goal and an assist. Steven Stamkos scored his team-best fourth goal. Goaltender Anders Lindback made 26 saves, though his giveaway behind the net led to a Florida goal.

    Tampa Bay scored twice on the power play and killed four penalties to up its streak to 13 straight, and Tyrell's tally gave it a league-best 13 players with at least one goal.

    But it was Conacher who set the pace and whose nine points on three goals and six assists leads league rookies.

    It also was Conacher's goal that restored balance to a Lightning squad struggling somewhat to find its game against Florida, which at 1-5-0 is last in the league but plays hard.

    Tampa Bay led 1-0 with 8:51 left in the first on Stamkos' power-play goal. But Peter Mueller tied it 15 seconds later after Lindback misplayed the puck onto his stick.

    Conacher answered with 7:11 left when he took a pass in stride from Victor Hedman, used his elbow to fight off defenseman Mike Weaver and scored with 7:11 left for a 2-1 lead.

    "That's a scorer's goal," coach Guy Boucher said. "He's got somebody on him and he's not just throwing the puck at the net. He aimed it. That's unbelievable."

    What is unbelievable is how laces on skates make such a difference to Conacher, who since Canisius College has left the second lace hole empty.

    "I tried it once and I got a couple of points and I started to get comfortable with it," he said.

    But Tuesday morning he inadvertently laced up through the second hole on his right skate.

    "I could feel it," Conacher said. "It feels like one leg is more off than the other. It really throws me off. Luckily, (Tuesday night) I didn't have that laced."

    View Damian Cristodero's blog at lightning.tampabay.com. Follow him on Twitter at @LightningTimes.

    Lightning 2 2 1 5
    Panthers 1 0 1 2
    Lightning 2 2 1 5
    Panthers 1 0 1 2

    First Period1, Tampa Bay, Stamkos 4 (St. Louis, Lecavalier), 11:09 (pp). 2, Florida, Mueller 2, 11:24. 3, Tampa Bay, Conacher 3 (Hedman), 12:49. PenaltiesEllerby, Fla, served by Huberdeau (instigator, unsportsmanlike conduct, fighting), 9:40; Crombeen, TB, minor-major (tripping, fighting), 9:40; Weaver, Fla (tripping), 14:29; Malone, TB (tripping), 16:07.

    Second Period4, Tampa Bay, Pyatt 3 (Tyrell), 3:18. 5, Tampa Bay, Tyrell 1 (Pyatt, Pouliot), 15:39. PenaltiesConacher, TB (holding), 10:38; Stamkos, TB (tripping), 16:34.

    Third Period6, Tampa Bay, Lecavalier 3 (Pouliot, Conacher), 14:13 (pp). 7, Florida, Fleischmann 2, 14:31 (sh). PenaltiesPyatt, TB (holding), 6:05; Upshall, Fla (unsportsmanlike conduct), 10:34; Kuba, Fla (slashing), 12:43; Kopecky, Fla, served by Huberdeau, minor-misconduct (unsportsmanlike conduct), 14:13. Shots on GoalFlorida 6-11-11—28. Tampa Bay 11-10-12—33. Power-play opportunitiesFlorida 0 of 4; Tampa Bay 2 of 5. GoaliesFlorida, Theodore 1-4-0 (33 shots-28 saves). Tampa Bay, Lindback 4-1-0 (28-26). A19,204 (19,204). T2:31. Referees—Rob Martell, Kevin Pollock. LinesmenJonny Murray, Tim Nowak.


    DIRK SHADD   |   TimesDIRK SHADD | Times

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  • 01/30/13--08:51: East Bay Fishing Report
  • By Capt. Matt Santiago, Times Correspondent
    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

    Early spring: The SouthShore area is full of life right now. From the Skyway to the Alafia, the fishing is great and the weather couldn't be better. I have been fishing like it's March and it has been paying off with springtimelike results.

    Bait: Shrimp are still producing good results, but they are definitely starting to play second fiddle to whitebait. Whitebait is scattered down the SouthShore but is a sure bet at the Skyway. Black and fiddler crabs have also been producing good results. Fishing them with a small size 1 hook and 15-pound leader under docks is sure to put some nice redfish and sheepshead in the boat.

    Trout: The trout fishing has been great in the residential canals, especially in the Apollo Beach and MiraBay areas as well as the 6-foot contour that runs most of the SouthShore. Redfish fishing has been steady in Cockroach Bay and the Little Manatee River with most of the fish in the low to mid slot with some big ones mixed in. There have also been some black drum roaming around and eating shrimp without hesitation.

    Snook: The snook fishing is really starting to heat up on the flats and estuaries. We have had lots of success fishing them on the strongest parts of the tide and have put several in the 25- to 35-inch range in the boat over the last couple of weeks. Fishing a live whitebait hooked through the nostril and free-lined toward waiting snook is a surefire recipe for success.

    Matt Santiago can be reached at (813) 205-2327, captainmattsantiago@gmail.com and online at fishingguidetampa.com.


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    By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

    TAMPA — It happened again Tuesday. Anders Lindback allowed a bad goal.

    As much potential as the Lightning goaltender has shown, and as many terrific saves as he has made, Lindback in each of his five games with Tampa Bay has allowed at least one softie.

    It is a situation coach Guy Boucher seems willing to tolerate as he grooms Lindback, 24, who entered the season with just 38 NHL games, into the No. 1 goalie he believes the 6-foot-6 Swede will become.

    "The reality is we have a lot of patience for forwards who get in the NHL and a little less patience with defensemen," Boucher said after the 5-2 victory over the Panthers at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. "If we have patience with them, we have to have patience with our goaltenders, too, when they make a little mistake. (Lindback has) got to feel he's allowed to make mistakes. We have his back because he has our back often."

    Such as in Tuesday's first period.

    Lindback's giveaway behind the net led to Peter Mueller's goal that made the score 1-1 with 8:36 left. But the entire game dynamic might have shifted had Lindback not stopped Scottie Upshall's breakaway 4:51 into the game with the score 0-0.

    In Sunday's 5-1 win over the Flyers, Lindback allowed Sean Couturier's goal from a ridiculous angle 59 seconds into the game. But Lindback's stunning left-leg stop of Matt Read at the end of a three-on-one at 9:15 preserved the one-goal deficit.

    "That's what good goalies do. They all make those type of saves," Boucher said. "I just think right now he's showing signs of somebody making a difference at the right times every game."

    Lindback's 2.80 goals-against average entered Wednesday 18th in the league among goalies with at least four games, and his .914 save percentage was 13th. But both have been heading in the right directions, and he is 4-1-0.

    "The players know he's a young goaltender that's learning," Boucher said. "But he's learning real fast."

    NEXT UP: Expect to see Mathieu Garon in net either Friday against the Jets or Saturday against the Rangers. Garon, 35, in his only game, made 35 saves Jan. 22 in a 5-1 win over the Hurricanes.

    "I've been in this situation before and know what it is," Garon said. " 'Lindy' is the guy. He gives us a chance to win every night, so it's good he plays. I'm here to help and play good when I play."

    "You can't get a better athlete or person," Boucher said of Garon. "He's the ultimate professional."

    SETTLING DOWN: Since being outscored 10-3 in its first four second periods, the Lightning played the Flyers to a 0-0 second period and outscored the Panthers 2-0, the first time Tampa Bay "won" a second period.

    Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@tampabay.com.


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    By Darek Sharp, Times Correspondent
    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

    PLANT CITY — Turns out there's a downside to having the best season in school history.

    Never had Plant City High School had a soccer team get to a region final, yet there the Lady Raiders were Tuesday playing for a spot in the state semis. Plant City showed itself and a large home crowd it belonged but Lakewood Ranch prevailed 1-0.

    And thus the downside. The further a team advances, the closer it gets to a possible state championship, the rougher it hits when it doesn't happen.

    "The bigger the game, the bigger the opportunity … so it's even harder when you lose," said Plant City junior Diane Corzine. She was among the most exhausted Raiders, who for the entire final 40 minutes battled for a tying goal that never came.

    • • •

    Lakewood Ranch came in with just one defeat. The Mustangs knocked out last year's state champ Ida Baker 4-1 in the opening round and won most of its games via shutout. Whenever it looked like the Raiders were putting together a promising string of passes, there was a Mustang to get in the way.

    And on the handful of occasions Plant City moved into the Lakewood Ranch penalty area, the finishing touch was just a fraction off.

    "We believed we could win, and to have it end it's just so … sad," said Kellee Brown, stalwart of the Raider 'D' and one of three seniors the squad will lose. "When the whistle blew to end the game — I hadn't even thought about my career being over. So that's when it hit me."

    While the referee's signal was a blast of harsh finality, many of the Raiders were able to muster a smile when thinking on the team's two preceding games.

    In the first playoff round, Plant City defeated Tarpon Springs 3-2. Brown, co-captain Christina Gutierrez and Lorena Gutierrez scored.

    Then came time to attempt a program first, getting past the regional semifinals. They had to do it on the road. And against the same team, Seminole, that knocked out Plant City last year and made it all the way to the state finals. Christina Gutierrez's penalty kick in the second half, strong defense and alert goaltending by sophomore Taylor Michael added up to a 1-0 win.

    "The past couple of weeks have been amazing," said Michael, a bright talent whose nine saves kept the Warhawks off the board.

    • • •

    Adding to the Raiders' challenge against Seminole, they played without their leading scorer Saturday. Ericka Lott — with 24 goals and the only Raider to finish in double digits — opted to engage in a night of "chaos" as part of the Strawberry Festival Queen pageant while simultaneously trying to keep tabs on the soccer game.

    With her father, Plant City council member Rick Lott, at the pageant and on the phone with several Raider parents, all of the good news got relayed. Just about the time Lott was being named a finalist is when Plant City scored. And when the game went final, she was placed in the top five.

    Lott ended as first runnerup, but that wasn't what made for one very relieved Lott.

    "I was at the pageant and just yelled 'Yay, we won!' If we wouldn't have won, I would have felt so bad that I didn't contribute for my team," Lott said after Tuesday's defeat.

    Queen Kelsey Fry, on hand for Tuesday's game along with several hundred clad in orange, gave a little insight as to Lott's state: "She was freaking out, I had to tell her to calm down."

    And the from-a-distance rooting went the other direction. On their postgame stop for food, Raiders players huddled around a cellphone as Lott was being announced as runnerup.

    But unfortunately the winning feeling wasn't there Tuesday.

    • • •

    Plant City just didn't have its normal life in the first half, and the head coach had a theory.

    "It was just nerves," coach Caleb Roberts said. "Having never been this far, big crowd. It may have affected us."

    The Raiders did have chances, however, especially in the second half. Plant City won balls at midfield, and freshman Deanna Rodriguez got the crowd buzzing with several long passes that led to scoring opportunities.

    One long free kick by Rodriguez got inside the 10-yard area and right onto the head of Lott, but she put it over the goal. With six minutes remaining, the Raiders pulled Lakewood Ranch's goalie off her line on a corner kick, only to have senior Nidia Castro's shot go a few yards wide.

    "I don't think we played our game, but it was great to get this far" said Michael. "And win or lose, we did it as a team."

    • • •

    Looking to next season, Plant City only has to pick up a few pieces. Brown heads to Florida Southern College on a soccer scholarship, and the Nidias — Gutierrez and Castro — will depart, but that's it.

    The group that came in as freshman — Lott, Kelsey Brevik, Stephanie Galloway, Corzine and Christina Gutierrez included — will be seniors.

    So if as ninth-graders they led Plant City to its first playoff appearance in 11 years, as sophomores they won a playoff game for the first time, and as juniors took one more step … next year could be special.

    But that doesn't make this year's ending easy to take.

    "It's still rough," Rodriguez said. "Even as a freshman knowing I have three more years, it's tough to lose Kellee and her leadership. I made some really good friendships."

    And much sadder commentary from someone who has no more time left in a Raider uniform, Nidia Gutierrez.

    "We talked all year about winning the state championship. It was our goal. So right now, it's just heartbreaking."

    Darek Sharp can be reached at hillsnews@tampabay.com.


    DANIEL WALLACE   |   TimesDANIEL WALLACE | Times

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    By Darek Sharp, Times Correspondent
    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

    TAMPA — Results on the court couldn't determine who was best among Strawberry Crest, Sickles and Armwood. So on Wednesday morning the Florida High School Athletic Association utilized the next-best approach.

    Coaches for the teams gathered around a bowl with pieces of paper.

    No, seriously, that's how the seeding was determined for next week's Class 6A, District 11 boys basketball tournament. And the Chargers didn't get lucky.

    Hoping for the top seed and a relatively easy path to the district final, the Chargers instead will be in the No. 2 position for next week's tourney at Leto. Armwood had the fortune of being drawn as the No. 1.

    Hawks head coach Jeff Pafunda joined Chargers coach Andre Lewis in person for the blind draw, held at Leto, while Sickles' Renaldo Garcia was on a conference call.

    "Jeff didn't say anything, but he had a big smile on his face," Lewis said after the drawing.

    At least the Chargers get a first-round bye. Sickles will have to play Leto on Monday, and, presuming the Gryphons win, they will take on Strawberry Crest Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. The Wednesday winners meet Friday at 7 p.m. for the district title, both teams assured of a playoff spot.

    For its semifinal, Armwood gets to face King or Jefferson, both teams with losing records. Meanwhile, the likely Charger opponent (Sickles) was 19-4 entering the week.

    "No disrespect to the other teams, but I think our game with Sickles is really the district championship," Lewis said.

    Strawberry Crest did defeat the Gryphons 52-47 in mid December, a result that knocked Sickles off its seemed path to the regular-season district title.

    Armwood then knocked off Sickles Jan. 11 to create the tie.

    The Chargers are playing well of late, taking five in a row to improve to 15-7. They wrap up the regular season tonight at Lennard.

    "It's all about the team that's hottest at the time, and right now we're on a pretty hot streak," Lewis said.

    • • •

    Armwood ran into a hot team Tuesday — Durant.

    The Cougars won by 11 and have won three in a row, seven of 10 heading into tonight's contest with Steinbrenner.

    Durant (10-11) is the last-place team in the District 8A-7 tournament, but only because of a narrow series of losses. But the Cougars remain hopeful.

    Durant opens Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. against Plant at Bloomingdale, a team that needed a late three-pointer to beat the Cougars 51-49 recently. If the Cougars prevail, they face Alonso, a team they beat in January.

    Plant City has home-court advantage for the 7A-8 tourney. The Raiders face a tough Tampa Bay Tech team in opening-round action Tuesday.

    The finals are next Friday at 7 p.m..


    WILLIE J. ALLEN JR.   |   TimesWILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times

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    By Gary Shelton, Times Sports Columnist
    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

    NEW ORLEANS

    With every catch, with every route, there always has been a different way to describe Randy Moss.

    He was a diva. He was a distraction. He was a talent. He was arrogant. He was a star. He was self-absorbed. He was a great receiver. He was a bad guy. He was misunderstood.

    Now there is a new word for Moss.

    Mentor.

    And who saw that coming?

    He is near the time to say goodbye, and Moss has learned to say hello. He is a teammate. He is the savvy, old veteran. He is a complementary player, and most of the time, he stands on the sideline and gives compliments.

    After years of catching it, it seems that Moss finally gets it.

    Flash back a few days ago, when Moss stood in front of his 49ers teammates and talked about the Super Bowl that got away. That loss, to the Giants after the 2007 season, still rankles him.

    Focus, he told teammates. Don't let the opportunity get away.

    Would the old Randy Moss have taken the time to speak up? Remember, he was the guy who once admitted he took plays off, the guy who seemed disinterested in Oakland and distracted in Tennessee, the guy who once told a team caterer that he wouldn't feed his food to his dog.

    That guy?

    It is amazing what the pursuit of a Super Bowl ring can do to a man's maturity, isn't it? It can humble him, and it can ground him. Remember how Chad Johnson played nice with the Patriots last year?

    Moss, who turns 36 next month, is no longer the playmaker he once was, and his team no longer believes he is the quickest way to the end zone. But there is still a bit of life in those legs, and there is still a chance that Moss will finish his career to the sounds of cheers.

    He sat at a small table Wednesday, the media huddled around him, and his West Virginia twang was loud as he spoke. Yes, he said, a Super Bowl would complete his career. Yes, he said, he might come back and try again next year. Yes, he said, he was planning to write a book so readers could get to know him.

    Also, he repeated this.

    In the mind of Randy Moss, the finest receiver in NFL history is … Randy Moss. After all, humility never could cover Moss.

    "You make your own judgment," Moss said. "I know what I think. When it comes to going out there, making plays and helping the team do the things they are able to do to win the game — I think I am the best receiver ever. Point blank. Next question."

    At this point, it seemed only proper to drop the name of another 49ers receiver into the conversation. Remember Jerry Rice? Rice has three Super Bowl rings, and he caught more than 500 more passes for more than 7,000 more yards than Moss.

    "If I had two Hall of Fame quarterbacks, what would my numbers be?" Moss asked. "Give me Tom Brady for the next 5-6 years and see what my numbers would be."

    It's an outlandish proclamation, of course. Silly. Absurd.

    Why, if you're fair about it, Moss isn't any better than, oh, second or so. In Rice, Moss picked the one guy whose career he can't match.

    This is what Rice has accomplished. He is so clearly the No. 1 receiver in NFL history that you can't muster a good debate over who is No. 2. Hutson? Lofton? Berry? Owens? Harrison? If you don't judge controversies, Moss has outplayed them all.

    Funny thing, though. Even as Moss argued his case, he seemed perplexed over the headlines it created. He kept trying to say he wasn't disrespecting Rice, as though he meant "I'm better than you" in the kindest way possible.

    The thing is, Moss hasn't been among the top two receivers on his team for a very long time. He played for three teams in 2010 and ended up with only 28 catches. He sat out last year — family problems, he says. He had only 28 more catches this year.

    "I can still go out there and make plays," Moss said. "I don't like my role. I don't. I like to be out there playing football."

    For now, the 49ers don't need him on the field. In the locker room? That's different. Teammate Frank Gore, for instance, raves about Moss as a veteran guide.

    "I've never been vocal," Moss said. "If there is anything I've been able to give back to the younger guys, it's my experience. It's something I never would have imagined."

    For now, that is his role. Who knows? Maybe Moss makes a big catch or two on Sunday. Maybe he scores a touchdown. Maybe he makes a difference.

    Jerry Rice would, you know.

    Listen to Gary Shelton weekdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on 98.7-FM the Fan.


    Associated PressAssociated Press

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    By Derek J. LaRiviere, Times Correspondent
    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

    The Dunes Women's Golf League had its annual Sweet & Simple Invitational on Jan. 17 at Sugarmill Woods Country Club in Homosassa.

    The field of 96 included golfers from Citrus to Hillsborough county — even one from North Carolina. Participants struggled through an all-day rain and tough conditions on the course.

    The overall low-gross champion was Joy Figueredo from the Dunes in Hernando County, while Kathy Butler of East Bay Country Club in Largo and Jean Berezuk from the Dunes tied for overall low net.

    The Flight 1 results included a three-way tie among Nancy Mink of East Bay Country Club, Colleen Seabrook of the Dunes and Patty Kennedy of East Bay for the low-gross and low-net scores.

    Flight 2 featured Diedra Howard from Toscana Crossing at the Heather in Weeki Wachee as the top low-gross score and Ro Newsome from the Dunes with the low-net score. Karen Stacy from the Dunes was a close second for low net.

    Cathi Willmore of Brookridge Country Club in Hernando County took the low-gross title in Flight 3, while a three-way tie among Sally Esposito from the Dunes, Nancy Fisher from the Dunes and Phyllis Kendrick from Magnolia Valley in Port Richey made the low-net competition interesting.

    Flight 4 featured Angela Roberts from Meadow Oaks in Hudson as the top low-gross scorer. Rose Marie Smith from Timber Pines in Spring Hill emerged as the low-net winner, followed closely by Donna Rayne from the Dunes.

    Carol Allivato from the Dunes earned the low-gross score in Flight 5. Betty Seeley from the Dunes and Joan Guilfoyle from Ridge Manor tied for low net with Anita Flood from the Ridges at Mountain Harbour in Hayesville, N.C.

    The Flight 6 low-gross title was claimed by Mo Sullivan from the Dunes. Bonnie Lamrouex from Scotland Yards in Dade City took low net, with Pat McMullen from Beacon Woods in Bayonet Point close behind.

    The Dunes Women's Golf League holds a number of events each year, in addition to its weekly Thursday round. The league welcomes new members. For information, call Karen Berch at (352) 382-2867.

    HERNANDO WOMEN'S 500 CLUB BOWLING: The Women's Hernando County 500 Club will have its third tournament of the season Feb. 24 at Spring Hill Lanes.

    The event will be a doubles tournament, with bowling starting at 1:30 p.m. It is open to all members of the Women's 500 Club who are also members of the Hernando County U.S. Bowling Congress and Women's Bowling Association.

    The deadline to register is Feb. 19. To become a member of the 500 Club, one needs to have bowled a sanctioned 500 series.

    For information, call Sheila Wehrenberg at (352) 688-1575.

    HERNANDO YOUTH LEAGUE SOFTBALL: Hernando Youth League Dixie Softball has scheduled registration at Tom Varn Park in Brooksville for its spring season.

    League officials will accept sign-ups from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday and Feb. 9.

    A copy of a child's birth certificate is necessary for registration. The fees cover all games, insurance and trophies. All new players receive a $10 discount. Returning players who bring a new player will receive a $5 discount on their fees. There is also a family discount of $5 for the second child or each additional child.

    For information, contact Bonnie Anhalt at (352) 584-1558 or bonnita2u@hotmail.com. Parents can also visit the league website at hylsoftball.com or the league Facebook page at Hernando Youth League Softball.

    HERNANDO SPORTSMAN'S CLUB CLINICS: The Hernando Sportsman's Club, 16121 Commercial Way, north of Weeki Wachee, is offering National Rifle Association classes next month.

    The NRA Basic Pistol course will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 2. The class teaches the basic knowledge, skills and attitude for owning and operating a pistol safely. Students will receive classroom and range time and learn to shoot revolvers and semiautomatic pistols.

    All students will receive the NRA Guide to the Basics of Pistol Shooting handbook. The cost of the course is $100.

    The NRA Basic Instructor Training course will be from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Feb. 8. Instructor candidates must possess and demonstrate a solid background in firearm safety and shooting skills and be intimately familiar with each action in the discipline they wish to be certified.

    All students will receive the NRA trainer's guidebook. The cost of the course is $100.

    The NRA Pistol Instructor course is a two-day class from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Feb. 15 and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 16. Candidates must pass the exam with a score of at least 90 percent and receive the endorsement of the training counselor for certification.

    Students in this course must first complete both the NRA Basic Pistol class and NRA Basic Instructor Training class. The basic instructor training course must have been completed within the past two years. The cost of the course is $300.

    Preregistration is required for all classes. For information, call the Hernando Sportsman's Club at (352) 597-9931.

    SUSAN G. KOMEN GOLF TOURNAMENT: The Ladies League at Toscana Crossing at the Heather in Weeki Wachee will host the Passionately Pink for the Cure Golf Tournament on Feb. 19.

    All donations and proceeds will go to Susan G. Komen for the Cure and its nationwide initiatives to support breast cancer research.

    Registration for the nine-hole tournament will begin at 7:15 a.m.; the shotgun start is scheduled for 8:15 a.m. A light breakfast and coffee will be served prior to tee-off.

    The minimum donation is $25, with checks made out to "Susan G. Komen for the Cure." Greens fees will be collected the morning of the tournament. Fees are $9 per golfer for those who walk, and $14 for those who want a cart.

    Interested golfers must sign up at the Toscana Crossing clubhouse by Feb. 12. Information and donation checks may also be mailed to Myrna Newton, 12345 Club House Road, Brooksville, FL 34613.

    BROOKSVILLE ADULT MEN'S SOFTBALL LEAGUE: The Brooksville Parks and Recreation Department finished its fall adult men's softball season earlier this month, with Coney Island Drive Inn winning the championship in an upset over Watler Services, after finishing the regular season in third place.

    Coney Island (8-3) stood behind both Watler (9-3) and Beef 'O' Brady's (9-3) heading into the end-of-season tournament.

    The league included 10 teams sponsored by Brooksville-area businesses. All games were played at the softball fields behind the Jerome Brown Community Center.

    Farm Bureau (8-4), Pickett's Hardware (7-4), Coffee Barn (5-6), the Pits (5-7), TMH Technology (4-7), Parish Bail Bonds (4-7) and Milk-A-Way Farms (0-12) rounded out the final standings.

    UMPIRE CLINICS: The Hernando-Sumter Umpires Association has scheduled a set of baseball/softball umpiring clinics.

    The clinics are designed to train anyone who wants to become an umpire, and also can help seasoned umpires improve. Clinics will take place Sunday at Ridge Manor Park in Ridge Manor and Feb. 17 at the Anderson Snow Sports Complex in Spring Hill.

    The sessions are open to men and women age 16 and older. All clinics will start at 10 a.m.

    Visit hernandosumterumpire.com to register. For information, call (352) 593-6998 or send email to clinics@hernandosumterumpire.com.

    Contact Derek J. LaRiviere at derekjlariviere@gmail.com or (352) 584-6337.


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    By Joe Smith, Times Staff Writer
    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

    TAMPA — When Nelson Pyatt built his three sons a hockey rink in the back yard of their Thunder Bay, Ontario, home, he never envisioned two of them would follow in his NHL footsteps.

    But it was on that 70 feet by 40 feet sheet of ice, surrounded by boards, where Lightning center Tom Pyatt learned the value of toughness and tenacity, helping make him the relentless third-liner and penalty killer he is today.

    His older — and bigger — brothers, Jesse, 34, and Taylor, 31 (a Rangers forward), wouldn't give the tinier Tom, 25, much mercy.

    "Kids can be cruel sometimes," Nelson said, laughing. "They'd stick the little guy in net and drill the frozen tennis balls at him. He'd come in with a bloody nose. … I'd have to settle him down. He was really competitive."

    Tom and Taylor get to face one another on a much bigger stage Saturday when the Lightning hosts New York. They have played against each other once before — in 2010 when Tom was with Montreal — but the two meet three times in the next month. Nelson and his wife, Kathie, who never miss a game on TV, will be nervously watching.

    "It'll be interesting," Tom said, smiling. "I was at (Taylor's) draft, only 10, 11 years old, and I watched him step into the NHL. It was pretty cool. My dad played in the '70s. Growing up with a dad that played in the NHL is pretty neat. Just being a hockey family is awesome."

    Nelson, 59, appeared in 296 NHL games as a center for the Wings, Capitals and now-defunct Colorado Rockies, coached by Don Cherry, the colorful commentator for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.'s Hockey Night in Canada. But Nelson said Taylor (drafted eighth overall in 1999) and Tom (fourth round in 2005) have surpassed him as a player.

    "They're a lot more defensively responsible," said Nelson, who is now a firefighter. "I was a decent skater, put up a few points, but their game is much more rounded than mine."

    Taylor, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound left wing with seven double-digit-goal seasons, is more of a scorer than Tom. But Tom garnered some confidence in racking up a career-high 12 goals last season and was rewarded with a two-year, $1.2 million extension in January 2012.

    "He's better every year," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "He's one of those relentless guys that really contributes to the culture of the team."

    Boucher knew Tom from coaching him with AHL Hamilton in 2009, impressed with his work ethic and how extremely reliable he was defensively. He encouraged Tom to get more involved offensively, and the 5-11, 188-pound forward did just that by driving to the front of the crease.

    "Pretty much every goal I've scored in the NHL has been around the net," Tom said. "I haven't gotten many fancy ones. But if you do it over and over again, you're going to get your goals. You may get lucky ones; they might just go off you when you don't even see it coming.

    "But they don't really ask you how they went in after the season."

    After the season, all three brothers reside in their hometown, where Tom bought a house on the lake. Jesse, who played hockey at the University of Guelph in Ontario before concussions ended his career, is working toward becoming a police officer. Three years ago, Jesse rebuilt the old backyard rink at their parents' home to rekindle some childhood memories.

    "We had some good battles," Tom said, smiling. "Sometimes we'd get in some fake fights. But (Taylor) is so much bigger, his fake punches kind of hurt a little more. It was never too rough, just fun."

    Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@tampabay.com.


    Courtesy of Tom PyattCourtesy of Tom Pyatt

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    By Brent Gaskill, Times Correspondent
    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

    What's hot: Sheepshead have been spread out around residential docks and gathering in large numbers on rocky edges off the shipping channel. Live shrimp tail-hooked with a light knocker rig have worked well. A small, stout, live-bait hook is needed. Light wire hooks will not stand up to the sheepshead's large teeth and strong jaws.

    Tips: Redfish, snook and trout have been standouts at docks. But there also has been flounder, snapper, gag grouper and black drum. Many have been undersized, but the action more than makes up for their lack of size.

    Looking ahead: Cold fronts keep blowing through, but temperatures rise quickly afterward. Bait fish are expected to arrive early bringing along the Spanish mackerel and kingfish currently just offshore.

    Brent Gaskill runs Summer Vacation Charters out of the St. Petersburg area and can be reached at captbrent@summervacationcharters.com and (727) 510-1009.


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    By Tom Jones, Times Sports Columnist
    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

    ESPN college basketball guru Dick Vitale looks up and down and all across the college basketball landscape and finds at least eight teams that could win it all. Wait, make that 10. Know what? Let's call it an even dozen.

    Maybe more.

    "This is college basketball these days; good teams everywhere,'' Vitale said. "I'm not surprised anymore when anyone loses. Just look at it. There aren't any undefeated teams left, and we still have a long way to go.''

    A ways to go, but March is just around the corner. As we come to the end of January, here's a look at the college basketball picture with a little help from Vitale.

    What happened to USF?

    Not only did last season's USF team spoil us a bit, but I'm starting to think it might have been a bit of a fluke. That's a bit painful to say because last season's run was such a pleasant surprise and so fun to watch.

    This isn't meant to disparage what Stan Heath's team did a season ago. The Bulls did go 12-6 in the Big East. They did pull off upsets of ranked teams such as Seton Hall and Louisville. And they did win a pair of NCAA Tournament games and nearly won a third. Those are all facts.

    But I also think the Big East wasn't really the Big East as we have come to know it. USF built a resume by beating teams that weren't as good as their reputations. For example, the Bulls beat Pitt twice. They beat Villanova twice. Both had down seasons. When USF beat Seton Hall, the Hall was ranked 24th in the country, but it didn't even make the NCAA Tournament.

    The Bulls played hard. They played great defense. They could rebound, and they feared no one.

    The hustle remains and so does the willingness to stand up against anyone. And I still believe in Heath.

    But the Bulls can't shoot and they can't rebound, and that's an awful combination. That's why they are 1-7 in the Big East and have given us no reason to believe they'll even be an NIT team.

    Who is the best team in the country?

    Duke spent a chunk of the season at No. 1. After a down cycle, Indiana is back among the national powerhouses and has held the top spot. These days, Michigan is No. 1 for the first time since the Fab Four era of the early 1990s. Syracuse is pretty good and so is Florida.

    But — and this is hard to believe considering its reputation — doesn't it seem like everyone is overlooking Kansas?

    "I like Kansas, but scoring could be an issue,'' Vitale said.

    The No. 2 Jayhawks are 19-1 and have won 17 in a row. What makes Kansas so impressive is it plays in a high-scoring conference yet has not allowed so much as 60 points in six of its seven conference games.

    But Kansas is not on Vitale's early Final Four list of Michigan, Indiana, Louisville and Florida.

    "I like Florida's depth, but their scoring needs to be a bit more consistent,'' Vitale said.

    The Gators are not the only team on Vitale's list with concerns. Louisville just ended a three-game losing streak. And Indiana center Cody Zeller, a possible player of the year candidate, had back-to-back head-scratching games, scoring a combined 11 points against Penn State and Michigan State, before recording 19 points and 11 rebounds during Wednesday's win. Was he hurt? Tired? Or just hit a rough patch?

    There is one other team to watch, according to Vitale, and that's Duke. But only if big man Ryan Kelly returns from a foot injury. The Blue Devils are only 3-2 since he has been out.

    Which mid major team looks like Cinderella?

    Actually, Butler makes such a habit of crashing the dance that calling it a mid anything seems ridiculous. Butler is ranked No. 9 in the Associated Press poll while another mighty mid major, Gonzaga, is ranked No. 7. But Butler won a thriller over the Zags two weeks ago with a bucket at the buzzer. So you would give Butler the edge there even though it just lost to La Salle. Don't be surprised if Brad Stevens' bunch makes a third Final Four run.

    Other than Butler and Gonzaga, the only mid majors that could be a top-four seed as of now would be Wichita State and, maybe, Creighton. The Shockers beat Creighton last week but suffered a disappointing home loss to Indiana State on Tuesday.

    Is Miami for real?

    The Hurricanes landed on everyone's radar when they thrashed No. 1 Duke by 27 points and then blasted Florida State to remain the last undefeated team in ACC play.

    "They're better than a lot of people think,'' Vitale said. "This is one of those No. 15 to 20 teams that could cause a lot of problems in the tournament.''

    I'm not convinced the ACC has a whole lot after Miami, Duke, N.C. State and, maybe, Virginia. But winning the conference could give Miami a pretty good seed come tournament time.

    Final thought

    Vitale expects to see Michigan, Indiana, Louisville and Florida in the Final Four. Then again, he wouldn't be surprised if half of those teams didn't make it. Or all four. Maybe it will be Kansas, Butler, Miami and Duke. The next month might provide even more questions than the past three months.

    "All I know,'' Vitale said, "is it's going to be awesome, baby.''

    Tom Jones can be heard from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays on WDAE-620.


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  • 01/30/13--16:18: Super Bowl news and notes
  • Times wires


    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

    Ticket prices might be falling

    Ticket prices on the secondary market are showing signs of downward movement compared with last week, analysts say. According to TiqIQ, which tracks listings from resellers using websites and ticket brokers, the cheapest ticket, in the corner of an end zone, is going for $1,769. That's down from the $1,877 being asked last week for the cheapest ticket, in the end zone. TiqIQ analysts believe the price could drop to between $1,000 and $1,500 by the weekend. Face value for the tickets ranges from $850 to $1,250.

    Prop bet of the day

    How many times will the word "Harbaugh" be said during the game telecast? The over/under is 211/2.

    A commercial you will see

    Jamaica embraced a car commercial that depicts a white office worker from Minnesota feigning the Caribbean nation's lilting accent to display a cheerful, upbeat outlook. Some critics described the ad, set to run before the game, as offensive and culturally insensitive. But the island's government endorsed it. Said lawmaker Edmund Bartlett: "The ad is a perfect illustration of Jamaican culture's global reach and our uncharacteristic penchant to be happy even in challenging situations."

    A commercial you won't see

    According to MSNMoney, CBS rejected an ad by a make-your-soda-at-home company because it takes potshots at two of the game's biggest advertisers — Pepsi and Coke. Pepsi airs two 30-second spots and Coke a 60-second ad, according to AdAge.

    What sack?

    The first of 411/2 career sacks for the Ravens' Ray Lewis came against none other than Jim Harbaugh. The linebacker, now in his 17th season, took down Harbaugh, then the Colts quarterback and now the 49ers coach, on Oct. 13, 1996, at the stadium formerly known as the Hoosier Dome. "I don't remember that sack," said Harbaugh, who was sacked 361 times over his 14 seasons (1987-2000). "I do remember being a teammate of Ray's in 1998. I feel that Ray was one of the greatest players to ever play in the National Football League. He's a man I truly respect. He's a fine person, and he's a true professional."

    Double duty

    Randy Brown leads a double life. He is in his fifth season as the kicking consultant for the Ravens. He also is the mayor of his hometown, Marlton, N.J. "I've got the best of both worlds," Brown, 45, said. "I'm helping grow the town I was born and raised in. And then I get to live my dream by coaching football and making a difference here. I've got two jobs that really aren't jobs. I love doing them both. I get excited to wake up and be mayor, and I get excited to wake up and be a coach in the NFL." Brown was an NAIA All-American at Catawba in 1988. He never kicked in the NFL. But he has spent 21 years as a coach and consultant at various levels, including two-year stints with the Bears and Eagles.

    Old-school still works

    Quarterbacks threw more passes for more yards and more touchdowns in 2012 than in any other season in league history. A record 22 quarterbacks threw at least 50 passes in a game. There were a record 126 300-yard passing games, but the 49ers managed just one — and not even by the quarterback who will start the Super Bowl. Alex Smith passed for 303 in a 45-3 win against the Bills on Oct. 7 but has since been replaced by Colin Kaepernick. Meanwhile, Joe Flacco steered the Ravens to a second straight AFC North title despite throwing for fewer than 200 yards in seven of 16 games. He finished 15th in the NFL in passing, Kaepernick 30th. Finally, both offenses ranked higher in rushing offense than passing offense.

    Times wires


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    By Tom Jones, Times Sports Columnist
    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

    1. Is there anyone left who still likes Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis, other than Ravens fans, that is? This isn't about the whole stabbing incident with his entourage in 2000, and it isn't even about the bizarre accusation that he took deer antler spray to overcome injury. (Okay, so maybe it is a little bit about that double homicide.) But I think fans have simply overdosed on Lewis. He cries. He preaches. He self-promotes. He seems aware whenever the camera is on him. And when it's not on him, he makes sure it gets on him. Even Saturday Night Live is spoofing him. In the one week when all fans should be celebrating his spectacular career, Lewis' reputation and popularity are somehow getting worse. As charismatic as he is, you wonder if networks are having second thoughts about adding Lewis to their NFL coverage.

    2. If I hear one more person suggest the Bucs go out and get 49ers starter-turned-backup quarterback Alex Smith to give Josh Freeman some competition, I'm going to go all WWE on them. Get this straight: Smith already is backing up someone, and he hates it. There's no way he is interested in coming to Tampa Bay and getting into a competition with Freeman. Smith wants to go somewhere where he is the clear No. 1 such as Arizona or Jacksonville. The Bucs might very well bring in someone to put some heat on Freeman, but it's not going to be Smith.

    3. I don't know where commissioner Roger Goodell will get a colder reception: next season at Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey, when it might be 20 degrees, or Sunday in New Orleans in the wake of Bounty-gate. To which I say, get over it, Saints fans. Your guys put out bounties. Blame them, not the commissioner.


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    By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer; Times wires
    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

    Rays closer Fernando Rodney was quoted Wednesday in a Dominican Republic newspaper saying he was about to sign a two-year contract extension.

    That was news to the Rays, however, as there has been no dialogue with his reps about a new deal.

    That means either there is miscommunication between Rodney and agent Dan Lozano, whom he switched to this offseason, or between Rodney and the newspaper, El Dia.

    Rodney, who is pitching in the Caribbean Series that starts today in Mexico, is set to make $2.5 million this season. He made $1.7 million in his breakout 2012 season, when he saved a team-record 48 games and posted an MLB-reliever low 0.60 ERA, and the Rays picked up his option.

    The Rays don't comment on contract negotiations; a message left at Lozano's agency was not returned.

    A-ROD SAGA: The Yankees are frustrated enough with Alex Rodriguez that they're privately hoping he simply retires, the Associated Press reported.

    Rodriguez, 37, is out for at least half the season after hip surgery. He's now accused again of receiving performance-enhancing drugs, an allegation he denies.

    If he doesn't play again due to a career-ending injury, about 85 percent of the $114 million he's owed by the team would be covered by insurance, according to the AP. New York also might be able to free itself from having the $27.5 million average annual value of Rodriguez's contract count in its luxury tax payroll in each of the next five seasons.

    Meanwhile, Yahoo Sports reported that MLB officials plan to hold face-to-face interviews with all of the players named in this week's Miami New Times story, including Rodriguez, Nelson Cruz, Gio Gonzalez, Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon and Yasmani Grandal.

    Also, the Yankees are close to a deal with DH Travis Hafner, weei.com reported.

    PITCHING IN: Shaun Marcum was excited to sign with the Mets because they offered him an opportunity to pitch every five days. As for replacing R.A. Dickey, that will take a team effort. "I think if all five starters go out there and do their job, stay healthy, get to the goal of 200-plus innings then I think just that will fill R.A's shoes in itself," said Marcum, whose one-year, $4 million contract became official.

    CONTRERAS VISITS CUBA: Jose Contreras received a rousing welcome in his return to Cuba 10 years after defecting. The right-hander is the first athlete to take advantage of a new migratory law that makes it easier for defectors who have long been considered traitors to visit their homeland.

    BLUE JAYS: Infielder Andy LaRoche agreed to terms on a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.

    D'BACKS: The team finalized a $5 million, two-year contract with shortstop Cliff Pennington.

    Information from Times wires was used in this report.


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    Times wires
    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

    SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Dr. Phil McGraw says Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, who masterminded the dead girlfriend hoax involving Manti Te'o, told him that the Notre Dame linebacker was not involved in the scheme and that he ended up falling "deeply, romantically in love" with the football player.

    McGraw spoke on the Today show Wednesday, previewing an interview he did with Tuiaso­sopo, a 22-year-old California man who created the fictional woman Te'o said he knew as Lennay Kekua. Tuiasosopo's interview with McGraw will air in two parts on the Dr. Phil Show starting today.

    Since the hoax was revealed earlier this month, Te'o has said the relationship with Kekua started online and eventually became serious, even though they only talked on the phone and exchanged electronic messages, never meeting in person. Te'o said he was told of Kekua's "death" from leukemia just hours after his grandmother died in September.

    McGraw said Tuiasosopo told him the voice of Kekua was his. Tuiasosopo and Te'o have each said that while the Kekua relationship went on for several years, there were times when they weren't in contact.

    "There were many times where Manti and Lennay had broken up. But something would bring them back together, whether it was something going on in his life or in Lennay's life, in this case in my life," Tuiasosopo said.

    Tuiasosopo said he wanted to end the relationship between Kekua and Te'o before he had to fake Kekua's death.

    "I wanted to end it because everything I had gone through, I finally realized that I just had to move on with my life and I had to get me, Ronaiah, I had to start just living and let this go," Tuiasosopo said.

    Te'o's publicist, Matthew Hiltzik, declined comment on behalf of Te'o and his family.

    When the ruse was reported by the website Deadspin on Jan. 16, the report raised the questions about whether Te'o was involved. The story about how he played after the deaths of his girlfriend and grandmother led to an outpouring of support from Notre Dame fans. It became the backdrop to the Fighting Irish's undefeated regular season and run to the BCS title game, where they lost to Alabama.

    Te'o won seven national awards for his play and was runnerup for the Heisman Trophy. He has denied any involvement from the beginning, and Notre Dame said its investigation of the player's claims backed up his story.

    "The feelings, the pain, the sorrow, that was all real," Te'o told interviewer Katie Couric last week.

    McGraw says "absolutely, unequivocally" Te'o had no role in creating the hoax.

    Te'o said he first learned that something was amiss when Keuka called him Dec. 6 and told him she had faked her death.

    He told his parents about what had happened while home for Christmas break and called Notre Dame coaches on Dec. 26 to let them know. Notre Dame officials said they interviewed Te'o and retained Stroz Friedberg, a New York computer forensics firm, to investigate the case. They learned Jan. 3 that there were no records indicating Lennay Kekua existed.

    McGraw said he spent hours with Tuiasosopo and his parents, saying he had a number of life experiences that "damaged this young man in some very serious ways."

    McGraw said Tuiasosopo had feelings for Te'o.

    "Here we have a young man that fell deeply, romantically in love," McGraw said.

    McGraw said he asked Tuiasosopo if he is gay.

    "He said, 'Well, when you put it that way, yes.' Then he caught himself and said, 'I am confused,' " McGraw said.

    Te'o also was asked by Couric if he is gay. Te'o said "no" with a laugh. "Far from it."


    CBS/Peteski ProductionsCBS/Peteski Productions

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    Times wires
    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

    SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Bubba Watson has taken a lot of approved medications lately. After fighting through illness to tie for fourth in the season-opening Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, last year's Masters champion withdrew before the start of the Farmers Insurance Open last week in San Diego.

    "I had strep throat in (Hawaii), and then I had the flu last week," Watson said Wednesday. "My energy level isn't where I want it to be, about 80 percent right now. … (Tuesday) was the first time I played golf (in about a week). I'm still kind of under the weather, trying to get the medicine out of me. Kind of groggy, just don't have the energy. I lost about 10 pounds since (Hawaii), but I want to be out there competing."

    Watson was paired with Olympic swimming star Michael Phelps in the pro-am, a day before the start of the Phoenix Open. "Being able to play with Bubba, it's something else," Phelps said. "We were throwing jokes back and forth the whole entire time."

    phelps and ping: Phelps, the winner of a record 18 Olympic gold medals, is an avid golfer and signed with Ping to provide his clubs. He was fitted for a set that accommodates his 6-foot-4 height, long arms and large hands.

    garcia's brighter days: Less than three years ago, Sergio Garcia was mired in a slump so prolonged that he missed making the 2010 European Ryder Cup team and saw his ranking fall to 85th. He moped around the course and at one point talked of giving up the game.

    But rather than walk away, the former No. 2-ranked Spaniard said he used those dark days as an inspiration to find his way back. He has won twice in each of the past two years, and a victory this week at the European Tour's Dubai Desert Classic could propel him back into the top 10.

    He is up to No. 14 in the latest rankings after finishing second at last week's Qatar Masters.

    "Excited. It's been two good years," Garcia, 33, said. "But more than anything, I'm excited because I know how I'm feeling. I know how my attitude is on the course. I know how my will is to try to do things to get better."

    Garcia credits his recovery, which began with a string of wins in Spain in 2011, partly to his improved short game and to a better attitude on and off the course. He also benefited from laser eye surgery last year that corrected his astigmatism, improving his aim and reading of the greens.


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    By Rick Stroud, Times Staff Writer
    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

    TAMPA — The Bucs fired special teams coordinator Bob Liga­shesky after one season and hired Jaguars defensive backs coach Tony Oden for the same position Wednesday.

    Tampa Bay was 30th in the NFL in kickoff returns last season with a 20.3-yard average and tied for 19th in punt returns with a 9-yard average.

    Oden, 39, replaces Ron Cooper, who took a similar job at USF. He inherits a pass defense that ranked last in the NFL. The Jaguars were 22nd in pass defense last season.

    In 2006, Oden was hired as an assistant secondary coach with the Saints, where he remained for five seasons. He was promoted to defensive backs coach in 2011.

    Faulk: Pats cheated

    Eleven years later, ex-Rams running back Marshall Faulk said he believes the Patriots spied on a walkthrough before winning Super Bowl XXXVI 20-17.

    "I'll never be over being cheated out of the Super Bowl," he said.

    The NFL fined the Patriots and coach Bill Belichick and stripped the team of a first-round pick for taping opposing coaches' signals. But it said there's no evidence they spied on the Rams' walk-through the day before the game.

    "We had some plays in the red zone that we hadn't run and a couple of plays on third down," Faulk said. "And they created a check for it. It's either the best coaching in the world when you come up with situations that you had never seen before or you'd seen it and knew what to do."

    Ex-Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest denied the allegation.

    "If … we had any extra information, then that game wouldn't have been as dramatic as it was; coming down to a field goal," McGinest said. "It would have been a blowout."

    Seahawks: Linebacker Leroy Hill was arrested after police say he assaulted his girlfriend and kept her in his home against her will. The woman was treated at a hospital and released. The Seahawks said only they are aware of the situation.

    Information from Times wires was used in this report.


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  • 01/30/13--19:40: Sports in brief
  • Times wires
    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

    Cycling

    'Fall guy' Armstrong after change

    LONDON — Disgraced rider Lance Armstrong said no generation was ever "clean" of performance-enhancing drugs, and the best way forward is a process, not run by the sport's governing body, offering amnesty to those who detail doping, he said in emails to the website Cyclingnews.

    Asked if he felt like a fall guy, Armstrong said: "Actually, yes I do."

    Meanwhile, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency chief executive Travis Tygart said the International Cycling Union did all it could to stall its investigation into Armstrong.

    And Luxembourg antidoping officials suspended former Tour de France contender Frank Schleck for a year for illegal substance use.

    Soccer

    American forgiving toward abusive fans

    U.S. striker Jozy Altidore refuses to hold a grudge against fans who showered him with racist abuse during a match this week, saying: "We all make mistakes." Altidore, who is black, said he decided to play through the abuse Tuesday during the Dutch Cup match because he didn't want to give satisfaction to people who directed monkey chants at him. Dutch club FC Den Bosch pledged to do all it can to identify and punish those who hurled abuse at Altidore during the match against Altidore's AZ Alkmaar. Meanwhile, the Italian club Lazio was fined $190,000 but avoided being ordered by UEFA to play a Europa League match in an empty stadium after its third conviction for racist abuse by fans this season. UEFA said it deferred a stadium closure "for a probationary period of two years."

    Man U: The New York-based investment firm BlackRock has taken an 8.21 percent stake in Manchester United, the English Premier team owned by the Bucs' Glazer family. BlackRock Inc. said it acquired 3.3 million shares.

    College Football

    USF nears series deal with Old Dominion

    USF is close to finalizing a home-and-home series with Old Dominion, which moves up to Division I-A in 2014 and hosts the Bulls that year in Norfolk, the Virginian-Pilot reported. ODU, set to join C-USA in 2014, would play USF in Tampa in 2016. … Vanderbilt coach James Franklin apologized to Alabama coach Nick Saban for calling him "Nicky Satan" at a high school banquet in Georgia. Franklin said it was a joke.

    ET CETERA

    Tennis: One week before his expected return, Rafael Nadal says his left knee is improved but "sometimes it still hurts." The 26-year-old Spaniard is scheduled to play next week in Chile. … Sloane Stephens was chosen for the U.S. Fed Cup team that faces Italy on Feb. 9 in group play.

    Winter X Games: Caleb Moore, 25, is still in critical condition after a snowmobile crash last week. He developed bleeding around his heart and a brain complication.

    Greg Auman, Times staff writer; Times wires


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    By Greg Auman, Times Staff Writer
    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

    TAMPA — Up nine points on No. 12 Louisville with 12 minutes to play, USF hit a major scoring drought — four points in the next 11 minutes — and a furious comeback in the final 35 seconds fell short as the Cardinals escaped with a 78-75 victory Wednesday at the Sun Dome.

    Down 74-68 with 35 seconds left, the Bulls (14-6, 3-4 Big East) nearly pulled off the comeback. Andrea Smith got a basket, and Andrell Smith banked in a 3-pointer with 19 seconds left to cut the deficit to one. Twice the Bulls had a chance to tie with a 3, but they settled for a 2-pointer from Akila McDonald with 7.5 seconds left, and after two Louisville free throws, Andrell Smith's 3-pointer at the buzzer missed.

    USF was hampered by 22 turnovers to 15 for the Cardinals.

    "That's definitely a tough, heartbreaking loss," said coach Jose Fernandez, whose team fell in overtime to No. 2 Notre Dame and lost in the final second at Villanova this season. "It's tough going into that locker room. … I thought this game was going to come down to who's going to value the ball, who's going to make the most out of possessions. We lost that turnover battle."

    Louisville (18-4, 6-2) got a career night from guard Shoni Schimmel, who scored 38 on 12-for-20 shooting, with eight 3-pointers. She had a personal 9-0 run to tie the score after USF led 62-53. Andrell Smith finished with 18 points and a career-high 11 assists.

    FLA. TECH 58, TAMPA 54: Ida Gustafsson hit a tiebreaking layup with 29 seconds left as the Panthers edged the host Spartans (12-5, 3-5 Sunshine State).

    LYNN 63, ECKERD 57: Kira Harvey had 18 points and eight rebounds for the host Knights, who held off a late rally by the Tritons (8-8, 4-4 SSC).

    Top 25

    NO. 1 BAYLOR 90, TEXAS TECH 60: Brittney Griner set the conference women's career scoring record, finishing with 40 points for the visiting Bears (19-1, 9-0 Big 12). Griner passed Oklahoma State's Andrea Riley with her first four points, giving her 2,837.

    NO. 17 DAYTON 60, VCU 49: Andrea Hoover had 15 points and 10 rebounds as the visiting Flyers (18-1, 6-0) extended their best Atlantic 10 start.

    NO. 21 OKLA. 74, TCU 53: The host Sooners (16-4, 6-2 Big 12) rolled despite losing top scorer Aaryn Ellenberg to a left leg injury early in the second half.

    KANSAS 78, NO. 23 IOWA ST. 75, OT: Angel Goodrich scored seven of her 24 in overtime as the host Jayhawks rallied past the Cyclones (14-5, 5-4 Big 12).

    Information from Times wires was used in this report.


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