To Russia's Elena Dementieva in the final of the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo,Martina Hingis. A victory would have given the former world No. 1 her firsttitle since she came out of retirement last month, but Hingis nonetheless leftJapan happy. When she announced her comeback, Hingis (above, left) said shemost looked forward to playing Maria Sharapova (right), and in the semifinalsshe defeated the top-seeded Russian 6-3, 6-1. Since returning to the WTA Tour,Hingis has reached the Australian Open quarterfinals and won the mixed doublestitle in Melbourne. "I've exceeded my own expectations," she said.
By Churchill Downs, the first presenting sponsorship rights for the132-year-old Kentucky Derby. Yum! Brands, the Louisville-based parent of KFC,Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, paid an undisclosed amount to attach its name to therace for the next five years. Churchill Downs had resisted bringing in asponsor for years, but president Tom Meeker said the deal would help meet therace's goal of growing its global audience. "I know there will be thenaysayers," said Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day, the winningest rider atChurchill Downs. "But personally I think it's good."
At age 96, former Mississippi football coach John Vaught. In 25 seasons(1947-70 and '73) Vaught led the Rebels to 18 bowls and six SEC championships;the school hasn't won a conference title since the one Vaught delivered in1963. Vaught, who groomed quarterbacks Charlie Conerly and Archie Manning forthe NFL, was an innovative offensive coach, and his Ole Miss teams were knownfor wide-open passing attacks that stood out in the staid SEC. In 1982 theRebels' stadium was named after him.
On the Lions' offensive coordinator job, former Rams head coach Mike Martz.Martz, who was fired by St. Louis on Jan. 2, agreed last week to join newDetroit coach Rod Marinelli's staff. But he backed out when he and the Lionscouldn't agree on salary. (Martz was reportedly seeking $1.5 million per year,while the team offered a three-year deal worth $2.8 million.) Martz indicatedthat he would be content to sit out next season. "There's a wrongimpression that I'm desperate for a job," he said. "I'm not pursuinganything."
By the Astros, an insurance claim on the contract of All-Star first basemanJeff Bagwell. The 37-year-old (above) is guaranteed $17 million this season,but the Astros can recover $15.6 million in insurance if Bagwell, who hadsurgery last June on the arthritic right shoulder that caused him to miss 115games in '05, retires or is deemed unable to play. The claim creates an awkwardstandoff between the Astros and one of their stars. Bagwell insists he'shealthy and will report to spring training, but doctors who have examined himat the team's request say his injuries are career-ending. (The case may have tobe decided by an arbitrator.) Bagwell, who has played his entire 15-year careerin Houston, told the Houston Chronicle, "It probably will never be fixedbetween me and the Astros."
The seven-year career of Pacers forward Jonathan Bender, 25, because ofchronically injured knees. The fifth pick in the 1999 draft, Bender was aversatile seven-footer but never fulfilled expectations that he would be astar. He played only 76 games over the last three seasons, averaging 6.5 pointsand 2.5 rebounds. (Bender says the cartilage is completely deteriorated in hisleft knee and nearly gone in his right.) Though he doesn't plan to play again,Bender (left) is not filing retirement papers with the NBA so he can collectthe $14 million in salary he's due for this season and next.
His decision to play for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic, the Dodgers'Nomar Garciaparra. The All-Star shortstop said he wants to spend springtraining getting acclimated to a new position, first base. Many baseballofficials predicted that big-name players would pull out of the tournamentbecause of concern over injuries or missing camp, and Garciaparra is the lateststar to prove them right. (The WBC starts on March 3.) Giants slugger BarryBonds and Braves pitchers John Smoltz and Tim Hudson have also bailed. "Ithink there will be even more players pulling out as the start getscloser," says one National League G.M.
At age 95, Al Lewis, who was best known for playing Grandpa on The Munsters.Less known were his roles as Greenwich Village restaurateur, Columbia doctorateholder in child psychology and freelancer in the Runyonesque world of collegebasketball player procurement. In 1989 Lewis (below) told Raw Recruitsco-author Armen Keteyian that he played middleman in the recruiting of ChuckCooper (who went to West Virginia State in 1950), Solly Walker (St. John's,1950) and Sidney Green (UNLV, 1979). "I don't buy players," he said."But if a school came to me and said, 'We definitely want this guy,' Iwould find out what the going rate was, and I would say, 'You have to raise theprice or you can't play in the poker game.'"
Appearance fee Tiger Woods received for playing in the Dubai DesertClassic.
Total purse for the event, of which Woods pocketed another $400,000 bywinning.
Rank of Yao Ming on the list of the best-selling NBA jerseys in China; hisRockets teammate Tracy McGrady's jersey is the most popular, and AllenIverson's ranks second.
Games above .500 that the Clippers were after a win over the Raptors on Sunday,the best mark in team history.
Games officiated by NBA referee Dick Bavetta through Monday, tying him with theretired Jake O'Donnell for the most in league history.