National Sports Headlines from NBC Sports

Bengals coordinator Jay Gruden is Redskins' coach

WASHINGTON (AP) Jay Gruden has his first NFL head coaching gig, charged with ending the perpetual state of turmoil that has become the Washington Redskins.

He was hired Thursday after spending the last three seasons as the offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals, where his skill in helping to develop Andy Dalton will no doubt be of use when he takes on the task of grooming another young franchise quarterback, Robert Griffin III.

Gruden replaces Mike Shanahan, who was fired last week after a 3-13 season that ended with eight consecutive losses. The Redskins finished last in the NFC East during three of Shanahan's four seasons in Washington, a time marked by discord among ownership, quarterback and coach.

Gruden will become Dan Snyder's eighth coach in 16 seasons as an NFL owner. The span includes four winning seasons and seven last-place finishes. Unlike Shanahan, Gruden will not have final say over all football matters. He'll report to general manager Bruce Allen, who has taken charge of assembling the roster and other personnel decisions.

The 46-year-old Gruden has been largely overshadowed by his more famous brother, Jon Gruden, who won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and is now an analyst on "Monday Night Football." But Jay Gruden has been a name on the rise because of his success with Dalton and the Bengals' offense.

Jay Gruden interviewed for multiple head coaching openings last year and had drawn interest from at least three other teams seeking to fill a head coaching vacancy this year. He interviewed with the Tennessee Titans on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, he became the last of six candidates to meet with Allen, ending a 10-day search. The Redskins had to wait until the Bengals played their first-round playoff game before Gruden could be interviewed. And it took a bad day from Gruden and Dalton - scoring only 10 points in a home loss to the San Diego Chargers - to make Gruden free to be hired this week.

Gruden had an inside track on the job because of his ties within the Washington organization. He was an assistant coach with Tampa Bay from 2002-08, where he worked at various times with Allen, Redskins defensive backs coach Raheem Morris and tight ends coach Sean McVay. Gruden also coached under Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett with the UFL's Florida Tuskers in 2009.

Morris, McVay and Haslett were retained when Shanahan was fired, leaving it up to Gruden as to whether he will keep them on his new staff.

Gruden's No. 1 task will be to develop a solid relationship with Griffin, who regressed this season after winning the AP's Offensive Rookie of the Year award in 2012. Griffin returned from major knee surgery to start 13 games, but he publicly disagreed with some of Shanahan's decisions, struggled as a drop-back passer and was benched for the final three weeks.

There's no question Gruden has paid his dues. He played quarterback for the Barcelona Dragons and the Sacramento Surge in the long-defunct World League of American Football in 1990, then went to the Arena Football League and began a playing and coaching career that was so successful it landed him in the AFL Hall of Fame in 1999.

He's been a head coach both the AFL and UFL, including two stints with the AFL's Orlando Predators from 1998-2001 and 2004-08 that included four appearances in the championship game and two league titles. In 2010, after Haslett left for the Redskins, Gruden was head coach and general manager of the Tuskers and led them to the UFL championship game.

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

---

Follow Joseph White on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

Cooperstown 2013: No-brainer to no thanks

A million things to get to here, so much time so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it.

Headline: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas elected to the Hall of Fame.

Let’s get to the good stuff first. This will be the biggest class elected by the Baseball Writer’s Association of America since 1999, when George Brett, Nolan Ryan and Robin Yount were elected. When you throw in the three managers elected unanimously by the Expansion Era Committee (Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox), we have a powerhouse Hall of Fame event, one of the biggest in the museum’s 75 year history. After last year’s dud of a ceremony, they need it.

We should take a moment to celebrate that three great players got in, even if they were obvious. I don’t think many people would deny that Maddux, Glavine and Thomas are Hall of Famers. You could argue that Mike Mussina was a better candidate than Glavine or that Jeff Bagwell was at least the equal of Frank Thomas or any number of other gripes.

But at least this. Last year, when the Hall of Fame voted for zero players, it was an embarrassment for the Hall of Fame, an embarrassment for the BBWAA and it was lousy for baseball fans. There was some concern, especially in the aftermath of that disaster, that the BBWAA would only elect Maddux. Instead, the group voted in the three most obvious candidate.

Like I say: At least this.

* * *

Headline: Sixteen people do not vote for Greg Maddux.

Does a player’s Hall of Fame percentage matter in the long run? No. It doesn’t. If you get 75 percent, you are a Hall of Famer. As far as I know, they don’t have any special backdoor clubs where only the 95-percenters get to drink good gin and play poker.

That said: Sixteen! I thought four or five might not vote for Maddux. Sixteen is a lot. I mean, sure, 19 people didn’t vote for Ted Williams, but a lot of writers hated Ted. Sure 38 didn’t vote for Mickey Mantle but, uh, you know, he, um, didn’t hit .300 for his career. Or something. Sure, 22 people didn’t vote for Willie Mays but ... OK, I’m going to stop this now, there have always been indefensible choices by the BBWAA.*

*Pete Rose weighed in on this on Twitter by saying: “If Mays, Aaron, Musial and Ruth didn’t get the unanimous vote than(sic) no one should.”

I’ve heard this reasoning before ... and on gut level it makes some sense. But when you break it down, it falls apart for me, and not because of the “Just because there were injustices before doesn’t mean you repeat them,” line. That may be true too, but my issue with the “If Mays wasn’t unanimous no one should be” philosophy is that the vote isn’t some cooperative project where a foreman says, “You, you, you, and you -- this year, you don’t vote for Maddux ... after all, Ruth wasn’t voted unanimously. We’ve got a tradition to uphold!”

No, some schmuck has to take it upon himself to not vote for Maddux. He or she has to look at the name GREG MADDUX on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot -- four Cy Youngs, 355 wins, 3,000-plus strikeouts, a period of dominance that matches the best this game has ever had -- and say, “Nope. Not checking that box.”

This year, 15 of those schmucks didn’t vote for Maddux and (at least so far) never even explained why.

Here’s something I DID notice: Sixteen people did not vote for Maddux. But only ONE -- the now famous Ken Gurnick -- made his vote public. He backed up his vote. This is something I respect.

And I decided to look into this a little bit.

Through the fantastic Baseball Think Factor Ballot Collecting Gizmo, we have 209 ballots (we’ll count the Deadspin ballot too -- more on that in a minute).

That leaves 362 ballots that were not made public.

OK, now look at this:

The public ballots averaged 8.86 names on the ballot.

The secret ballots averaged a little bit less -- 8.17 names per ballot. So not a huge difference in the numbers of players. But there is quite a difference in the players themselves.

Here are the percentage comparisons between public and secret for our three new Hall of Famers:

Maddux: 99.5 percent public, 95.9 percent private.
Glavine: 95.7 percent public, 89.8 percent private.
Thomas: 89.5 percent public, 80.4 percent private.

So, as you can begin to see the private voters were quite a bit stingier than the public voters when it came to the three big guys on the ballot. Fifteen of the 16 people who didn’t vote for Maddux, 37 of the 46 who didn’t vote for Glavine and 71 of the 93 who didn’t vote for Thomas kept their ballots secret.

What about the players who missed getting elected?

Craig Biggio: 79.4 percent public, 72.1 percent private.

Uh huh. He fell two votes short ... and the reason was the private voters. I suspect it’s a lot easier to leave Biggio off the ballot for whatever reason without having to defend your choice.

Now, look at these two:

Mike Piazza: 67.9 percent public, 58.8 percent private.
Jeff Bagwell: 56.5 percent public, 53 percent private.

More people seem comfortable not voting for Bagwell in public than Piazza. I’m not sure why, exactly. That’s a big gap for Piazza.

The people who are hardest on the presumed steroid users tended to keep their votes private.

Barry Bonds: 42.6 percent public, 30.1 percent private.
Roger Clemens: 41.1 percent public, 32 percent private.

Three players who shocked me with how little support they got: Tim Raines, Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina. The first two went way down this year and Mussina did not have an auspicious debut on the ballot. Not surprisingly, the trio did much better in public votes than private votes. A theory: Maybe people who release their votes tend to be more Internet savvy, and there have obviously been pretty strong and compelling Internet campaigns for those players.

Tim Raines: 54.1 percent public, 41.4 percent private.
Curt Schilling: 36.8 percent public, 24.9 percent private
Mike Mussina: 26.3 percent public, 16.9 percent private.

Yeah, only one in six private voters picked Mussina, whose Hall-of-Fame case is essentially as good as Tom Glavine’s.

So, did any player do BETTER in the private votes than in the public. Down at the bottom of the ballot, Mark McGwire and Larry Walker actually did slightly better in the private sector, but neither got even 12 percent of the vote. The biggest differences:

Lee Smith, 23.9 percent public, 33.4 percent private.
Jack Morris, 61.2 percent public, 61.6 percent private.

Smith, in particular, seemed a vote that some BBWAA members would rather keep to themselves.

And of course only the private people voted for Moises Alou (six votes!), Hideo Nomo (6), Luis Gonzalez (5), Eric Gagne (2), J.T. Snow (2!!), Jacque Jones (1) and Kenny Rogers (1).

I wouldn’t expect too many people to come forward to admit those votes.

There are so many things wrong with the Hall of Fame voting right now that it feels silly to talk about just one or two. Every time I bring up a Hall of Fame voting change to Bill James, he kind of sighs and acts like I’ve said, “Hey Bill, I’ve got a way to fix Congress.”

Still, it’s clear to me that the BBWAA should make its votes public. I know there are some negatives that go with this -- including the potential that voters will feel bullied into voting in a way they would not want to vote. I understand.

But the Hall of Fame does not belong to the BBWAA. It belongs to everybody. If you’re going to vote, you should stand behind your vote. And if public pressure keeps people from throwing a gag vote to J.T. Snow or skipping over Greg Maddux for some inexplicable reason, hey, I don’t see how that’s a bad thing.

* * *

Headline: Craig Biggio falls two votes short of election.

So, let’s see here: Pie Traynor finished two votes shy of election in 1947, and was elected to the Hall of Fame the next year. Nellie Fox, meanwhile, fell two votes short of election in 1985 and had to wait a dozen years before he was finally inducted. Well, he didn’t wait I guess because Fox died 10 years before the BBWAA vote. He actually got a big boost in the Hall of Fame vote after he died, which probably describes the absurdity of this process as well as anything else.

Biggio’s percentage of 74.8 percent rounds up to 75 percent, but the Hall of Fame does not do it that way. If you have 74.99 percent of the vote, you’re out. I guess this makes as much sense as any other part of the process.

Obviously people can point to a few of the protest ballots -- not sure how many of them there were, but with 16 no-votes for Maddux, I’m guessing a handful -- and say those are the reason why Biggio isn’t going to the Hall of Fame. But, realistically, Biggio is like like the giant marlin caught in The Old Man and the Sea. As time goes on, sharks pick at the carcass bit by bit. An unfounded accusation here. A “he didn’t seem like a great player” there. And, all in all, he falls just short.

The real question is: What about next year? As you probably know, next year’s ballot is, in some ways, even more loaded than this year. Coming on the ballot: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz -- you would think of those three as relative locks (Smoltz will be a topic I’m sure we’ll discuss at length).

But Gary Sheffield also comes on the ballot, and while his case will be controversial, I’m betting he takes some votes. Jeff Kent stayed on the ballot, and I expect more and more people to compare Kent and Biggio. People might start to realize that as good a player as Biggio was, Bagwell was better. That could play a role.

Point is: I THINK Biggio makes it next year. But there’s no predicting this crazy ride.

* * *

Headline: Deadspin announces the person who gave them his vote.

It’s my longtime friend, Dan LeBatard. Now, people will have all sorts of opinions about this the ethics and motivation of all this; I would ask people to read Dan’s explanation and then decide. I know a lot of people in the BBWAA are outraged. And I know a lot of people outside the BBWAA are entertained.

Let me say two things about it:

1. I think the fans should have a say in the Hall of Fame. I don’t think the fans should have the WHOLE say -- like a fan vote for the Hall of Fame -- but I do think there should be fan input into the thing. I also think there should be broadcaster input. I also think some of the people who have spent their lives studying and playing the game should have input. I mean, seriously, Bob Costas and Bill James and John Thorn and Tom Seaver and Brian Kenny and Tom Tango and Keith Olbermann and George Will couldn’t add to this process?

I’m not sure “The people should have a say” was really the point of the Deadspin experiment or if it was more a way to kick and mock the BBWAA while getting some attention. Either way, that point pushed through for me.

2. The Deadspin ballot is a fantastic one. They (or Dan, I guess) voted for 10 players, the full compliment, and put 10 outstanding choices that all have a self-evident explanation -- Maddux, Thomas, Glavine,, Piazza, Biggio, Edgar Martinez, Jeff Bagwell, Clemens, Bonds, Schilling. People might be outraged about this whole thing, but the ballot itself is superb.

* * *

Headline: Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens lose support.

Jeff Passan makes a strong point: There are still 13 years left for these two players on the ballot. That really is a long time. As of right now it looks like those two players will never be elected by the BBWAA -- in the aftermath of the vote, that was my view. But I’m not so sure.

Jim Rice’s case looked dead in the after five years. Ralph Kiner could not have looked less likely after his first three years on the ballot. Bert Blyleven rose from 14.1 percent in his second year all the way to the Hall. Times do change. Opinions evolve. Momentum builds.

What I am convinced of now, though, is that there won’t be any quick adjustments. There was a theory rolling about that some people would not vote for Bonds and Clemens the first year as a punishment but would vote for them subsequently. That obviously did not happen as their vote totals went down.

Opinions are hardening, and I think it might be because people are getting used to the idea of a Hall of Fame that does not have the all-time home run leader and one of its greatest pitchers. Hey, the Hall of Fame didn’t close. Hey, baseball didn’t shut down. The outrage -- whatever outrage there was -- settled.

So, no, I don’t expect anything surprising to happen over the next two or three or four years. Bonds and Clemens' support might continue to go down. But it’s possible that at some point the tide will turn just a little, and maybe then a little more, and ... we’ll see.

* * *

Headline: Rafael Palmeiro falls off the ballot.

We all kind of thought one of the players connected with steroids would fall off the ballot this year -- Sosa or McGwire or Palmeiro. I’m not too surprised it was Palmeiro ... and honestly, it’s for the best for him too. Palmeiro was CERTAINLY never going to be elected by the BBWAA, so for him this would have just been an annual flogging. It’s best for him (and probably for McGwire and Sosa as well) to get off the BBWAA ballot and quietly wait a decade or two for the views about the Steroid Era to soften.

I do wonder if McGwire in particular would ever do that -- respectfully ask the BBWAA to remove his name from Hall of Fame consideration. It would be a smart move on numerous levels.

* * *

Headline: Tim Raines' momentum stopped.

He was really making some progress, but this year Raines’ support dropped -- last year he was up over 50 percent, this year back down under.

I don’t think this had anything to do with Raines himself. It was the numbers game. There were simply too many good players on the ballot. And there will be next year. And for a couple more years.

Raines has another eight years on the ballot, and he might need all of them with the series of great players coming on the next few years. But I think they’ll cycle through. And I think, in the end, Tim Raines will get elected to the Hall.

* * *

Headline: Jack Morris loses support and ages off the Hall ballot.

I know some people like my friend Jon Heyman believe it was an aggressive anti-Morris campaign that kept Jack Morris from getting elected. I disagree, but my opinion really shouldn’t count because I wrote a lot about Morris on the Internet, maybe more than anybody.

I think in the final analysis, it’s pretty simple. Morris didn’t win 300 games. He didn’t win a Cy Young award. He didn’t strike out 3,000 batters. Every single pitcher elected by the BBWAA since 1976 did at least one of those things. The last pitcher who didn’t was Robin Roberts, and he WOULD have won the Cy Young Award in 1952 for sure, but it didn’t exist.

If Morris had won 300 games (he won 254), I think he would have been elected first or second ballot. If he had 3,000 strikeouts, I think he would have been elected before Bert Blyleven (he had 2,478 strikeouts). If he had won a Cy Young award -- just my opinion -- I think he gets elected too.

Those should not be Hall of Fame measures, by the way, or, anyway, I don’t think people should vote for the Hall of Fame based on them. But there is a one-sentence quality to the Hall of Fame. Tell me why this person should be in the Hall of Fame in one sentence.

Tom Seaver won 311 games, struck out 3,640 batters, threw 61 shutouts and won three Cy Young Awards.

Bam. Hall of Famer.

George Brett had 3,000 hits, won three batting titles, was a league MVP, led the Royals to their only World Series victory and was one of the great postseason hitters in baseball history.

Bam. Hall of Famer.

Jack Morris ... it’s just more nuanced than that. He won Game 7. He was durable. He started Opening Day a lot. There just wasn’t that hammer. This is why you heard about the aura and pitching to the score and so on. He didn’t quite do those things that get the Hall of Fame votes, no matter how much people tried to put him in that box.

He’s in the Veteran’s Committee’s care now, and I think its for the best. I believe the Veteran’s will put him in the Hall of Fame. And I promise to celebrate that day.

Clippers beat Celtics 111-105 to go 16-3 at home

LOS ANGELES (AP) Blake Griffin scored 29 points, Jamal Crawford added 26, and the Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Boston Celtics 111-105 on Wednesday night to improve to 16-3 at home.

Jared Dudley scored 18 points and Darren Collison had 15 points, six assists and five rebounds in place of the injured Chris Paul. DeAndre Jordan had 11 points and 13 rebounds in giving Clippers coach Doc Rivers a second win over his old team this season.

Los Angeles improved to 12-10 without Paul in the lineup since he arrived in 2011. He's out six weeks with a separated right shoulder.

Jordan Crawford and Avery Bradley scored 24 points each in Boston's sixth straight loss overall and ninth in 10 games. The Celtics have dropped six in a row on the road while continuing to struggle without injured Rajon Rondo, who has a torn ACL in his right knee.

Jared Sullinger was called for a flagrant-1 technical on Griffin with 10 minutes left in the game. Griffin was driving to the basket when Sullinger ended up on Griffin's back. It was Sullinger's fifth this season and third in two nights. He received two in Boston's 129-98 loss at Denver on Tuesday, although one of those was rescinded earlier Wednesday.

Boston trailed 88-82 to start the fourth, but quickly fell behind 100-84. Griffin hit 3 of 5 free throws, and Willie Green and Crawford made 3-pointers that helped stretch the Clippers' lead.

After Sullinger's flagrant, Boston outscored the Clippers 21-11 to end the game. Trailing 109-105, Jerryd Bayless missed a shot with 8 seconds to go, ending the Celtics' late push.

Jeff Green finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Brandon Bass added 14 points.

Boston took its first and only lead of the game, 72-71, with less than 5 minutes left in the third on Kris Humphries' first basket. That capped a 13-4 spurt in which the Celtics rallied from eight points down. He started in his return from a sprained left ankle that kept him out of the loss to Denver.

Dudley hit three consecutive 3-pointers as the Clippers led 53-42 in the second. Boston had a 13-6 spurt, including six by Bradley, to get within one. Jamal Crawford made three straight free throws to keep the Clippers ahead 59-55 at halftime.

The Clippers used an 18-0 run with five different players scoring in the first quarter to take their largest lead of the game, 26-10.

Notes: Clippers G J.J. Redick could return Friday against the Lakers. He's been out with a broken right hand and torn ligament in his wrist. G Reggie Bullock will miss the next game with a sprained left ankle. ... Rivers said the Clippers would work out veteran F Hedo Turkoglu, who has been without a team since he was released by Orlando last fall. ... The Celtics fell to 2-8 in the second game of a back-to-back this season.

Dennis Rodman apologizes for Kenneth Bae remarks

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) Dennis Rodman apologized Thursday for comments about captive American missionary Kenneth Bae in an interview with CNN.

A day after the former basketball star sang "Happy Birthday" to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and led a squad of former NBA players in a friendly game, Rodman issued the apology through publicist Jules Feiler in an email message to The Associated Press.

"I want to apologize," Rodman said. "I take full responsibility for my actions. It had been a very stressful day. Some of my teammates were leaving because of pressure from their families and business associates. My dreams of basketball diplomacy was quickly falling apart. I had been drinking. It's not an excuse but by the time the interview happened I was upset. I was overwhelmed. It's not an excuse, it's just the truth.

"I want to first apologize to Kenneth Bae's family. I want to apologize to my teammates and my management team. I also want to apologize to Chris Cuomo. I embarrassed a lot of people. I'm very sorry. At this point I should know better than to make political statements. I'm truly sorry."

Rodman has been slammed for not using his influence with Kim to help free Bae, the missionary in poor health who is being confined in the North for "anti-state" crimes. On CNN on Tuesday, Rodman implied Bae was at fault.

Bae's sister, Terri Chung, said his family couldn't believe what Rodman said.

"Here's somebody who is in a position to do some good for Kenneth and refuses to do so," Chung told KOMO Radio in Seattle on Wednesday. "And then after the fact, instead, he decides to hurl these unqualified accusations against Kenneth. It's clear he has no idea what he's talking about. I'm not sure who he's talking to, where he's getting his information, but he's certainly no authority on Kenneth Bae."

The U.S. State Department distanced itself from Rodman and said it did not want to "dignify" his activities or comments in Pyongyang by commenting on them. But spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the department was open to speaking with Rodman on his return.

"We have not reached out to him. We've said before, if he wants to reach out to us, we're happy to hear from him and what he has to say," she told reporters.

Rodman dedicated the game to his "best friend" Kim, who along with his wife and other senior officials and their wives watched from a special seating area. The capacity crowd of about 14,000 at the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium clapped loudly as Rodman sang a verse from the birthday song.

Rodman said he was honored to be able to play the game in the North Korean capital and called the event "historic." Some members of the U.S. Congress, the NBA and human rights groups, however, say he has become a public relations tool for North Korea's government.

The government's poor human rights record and its threats to use nuclear weapons against rival South Korea and the United States have kept it a pariah state. Kim shocked the world in December by having his uncle, once considered his mentor, executed after being accused of a litany of crimes including corruption, womanizing, drug abuse and attempting to seize power.

The 52-year-old Rodman has refused to address those concerns while continuing to forge a relationship with Kim, whose age has never been officially disclosed. The government did not say how old he turned Wednesday but he is believed to be in his early 30s.

At the start of the game, Rodman sang "Happy Birthday" to Kim, who was seated above in the stands at the stadium, and then bowed deeply as North Korean players clapped.

To keep it friendly, the Americans played against the North Koreans in the first half, but split up and merged teams for the second half.

The North Korean team scored 47 points to 39 for the Americans before the teams were mixed. Rodman played only in the first half and then sat next to Kim during the second half.

"A lot of people have expressed different views about me and your leader, your marshal, and I take that as a compliment," Rodman told the crowd. "Yes, he is a great leader, he provides for his people here in this country and thank God the people here love the marshal."

Rodman is the highest-profile American to meet Kim. He has carefully avoided getting involved in overtly political activities, saying that he is not a statesman and instead is seeking only to build cultural connections with the North through basketball that may help improve relations between Pyongyang and Washington.

The game is a new milestone in Rodman's unusual relationship with Kim, who inherited power after the death of his father in late 2011 and rarely meets with foreigners. He remains a mystery to much of the outside world and until recently, his birthday was also not widely known, though it was quietly observed elsewhere around the capital Wednesday.

Along with Rodman, the former NBA players included ex-All Stars Kenny Anderson, Cliff Robinson and Vin Baker. Also on the roster were Craig Hodges, Doug Christie, Charles D. Smith and four streetballers.

Smith said he and the other players did not join Rodman in singing the birthday song.

"We always tell Dennis that he can't sing. He is tone deaf," Smith said. "He did it alone."

Don Mattingly gets 3-year deal as Dodgers manager

LOS ANGELES (AP) Don Mattingly will be back as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers next season with a new three-year contract that takes him through 2016, quieting speculation that his future with the club was somehow in doubt.

A person familiar with the agreement, speaking on condition of anonymity because no statements were authorized, said Mattingly is getting a raise from the $1.4 million he was to earn next season under his old deal. By comparison, Yankees manager Joe Girardi, entering his seventh season in New York, is starting a $16 million, four-year agreement after completing a $9 million, three-year deal.

Mattingly had sought the stability of a multiyear deal.

"I just want guys to know the organization has confidence in you is important to me as a manager," he said by phone from his offseason home in Evansville, Ind.

Mattingly has a 260-225 record in his first three seasons with the Dodgers, who reached the NL championship series this year, automatically triggering an extension of his contract that was set to expire at the end of last season.

He was runner-up for NL Manager of the Year last season.

Last winter, the Dodgers declined to exercise Mattingly's option for 2014, a move he believed portrayed him as a lame-duck in the clubhouse.

In an awkward October news conference after the Dodgers were eliminated by St. Louis in the playoffs, Mattingly said the organization put him in a difficult position by not exercising the option. The front office didn't clarify his status for 2014 that day, which frustrated Mattingly.

"I knew my contract had vested. I thought that at least that would have been said that day," he said. "It kind of got left open and that's what got me going a little bit. If I had to do all over again, I would have preferred it to be in-house. I wish I had kept it inside and dealt with it face-to-face with those guys."

The next day, the team didn't pick up the contract option of coach Trey Hillman, who was Mattingly's right-hand man on the bench.

Shortly thereafter, Mattingly spoke with majority owner Mark Walter and team president Stan Kasten, who let him know they wanted him back.

"I was comfortable with where it was going to go," Mattingly said. "I knew at that point we'd get something done."

General manager Ned Colletti said the deal was mostly done three weeks ago, but the club waited until after a flurry of offseason signings and the holidays ended to announce it.

"It's well-deserved," he said. "The traits of the man are really work ethic and making sure he can be as successful as he can be and not leaving anything per chance. That's one of the main reasons I hired him three years ago."

Mattingly began his career with the Dodgers in 2008 as a hitting coach under Joe Torre, who mentored Mattingly and endorsed him as a successor after Torre retired.

NOTES: Colletti has talked to the representative of star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka and he said his camp is in a feeling-out process with all 30 MLB teams. The 30-day window to sign the 25-year-old Japanese right-hander ends on Jan. 24. ... The team has talked to the agent of NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, who is eligible for free agency after next season. "It's our desire to sign him here for a very long time," Colletti said. ... CF Matt Kemp is out of the walking boot that was on his sprained left ankle at the end of last season, and he's starting to hit. The Dodgers expect him to be ready by the middle of spring training. ... Colletti would like to sign another infielder to give the team more versatility. ... INF Dee Gordon is playing winter ball in Puerto Rico. ... Pitchers Chad Billingsley and Scott Elbert won't return until midseason after recovering from Tommy John surgery.

WWE to launch own 24/7 network in February

WWE is moving outside the ring to mesh the best of Hulk Hogan, The Rock and John Cena all in one place - its own network.

It's time to lay the smack down 24/7.

The WWE Network launches Feb. 24 as a streaming service for $9.99 per month with a six-month commitment and will include all 12 pay-per-view events.

The network is available on desktops and laptops via WWE.com. WWE Network will also be available through the WWE App on: Amazon's Kindle Fire devices; Android devices such as Samsung Galaxy; iOS devices such as Apple iPad and iPhone; Roku streaming devices; PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4; and Xbox 360.

"WWE Network will provide transformative growth for our company and unprecedented value for our fans," WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon said Wednesday.

WWE joins the NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB as the latest sports-based organization that has its own around-the-clock network. The network will air original content, including pregame and postgame shows for its flagship "Raw" on Monday nights, classic events, reality shows, documentaries and other forms of smashmouth programming. The on-demand content is the main selling point for an older audience looking to reconnect with the product.

"We believe that is the future," WWE chief revenue and marketing officer Michelle Wilson said.

Fans can relive matches from the Attitude Era or simply catch up on today's franchise players like Daniel Bryan and C.M. Punk.

From their own home or parts unknown, WWE believes it has the loyal fan base needed to support the project.

Up against the BCS national championship game, Monday's "Raw" averaged a sturdy 4.537 million viewers on USA Network for the three-hour show.

WWE has aired some of its biggest events on PPV dating to The Wrestling Classic on Nov. 7, 1985. WWE's signature WrestleMania show in April drew 1,039,000 buys on pay-per-view, though numbers for the other 11 cards are nowhere near that gaudy number, in part because of the steep price.

The Royal Rumble on Jan. 26 goes for about $50 on PPV.

George Barrios, WWE's chief strategy and financial officer, said about 800,000 to 1 million homes buy an average of two to three PPVs a year. About 1 million subscribers would allow the network to break even. Barrios said research showed "it's within the realm of possibility" that WWE could have between 2 million and 4 million subscribers.

WWE said it planned to hold the price at $9.99 even after the initial six-month commitment.

The PPVs are still available in their current format through cable or satellite providers.

"I'm just not convinced the pay-per-view platform is in it for the long term," Wilson said. "It's not the best consumer experience."

"Raw" and "Smackdown" will remain on cable television. "RAW" airs on USA Network and "Friday Night Smackdown" is on SyFy. WWE's TV rights will soon be up for grabs and new deals are expected to be in place by March 4. Encores of those shows, however, will air on the network.

WWE has teased its fans with a network announcement since promotional spots aired in 2011, but nothing ever happened until now, though some programming aired on Hulu and Netflix. Wilson said WWE considered running on an ad-supported network station or as a premium pay channel in a model like HBO before deciding the economic and distribution package it wanted was best suited as a streaming network.

"Most people don't think fond things of cable or satellite providers," Wilson said. "We think we can overdeliver like we always have."

More than 1,500 hours of archived programming, that includes the WCW and ECW video libraries, will air uncut and uncensored, so references to the World Wrestling Federation, old logos, or matches involving former wrestler Chris Benoit or former announcer Jesse Ventura will no longer be scrubbed from history.

Parental controls for content rated TV-14 or TV-MA will be available.

Fans can subscribe to the network at 9 a.m. Feb. 24 and live programming begins at 11:06 p.m. with a 30-minute "Raw" postgame show. WWE collaborated with MLB Advanced Media to for technology services, including operational support for reliable cross-platform distribution.

The WWE Network is scheduled to launch abroad by the end of 2014 or early 2015.

"It's going to change the way we do business around the world," Barrios said.

Report: Petrino accepts Louisville coaching offer

Western Kentucky's Bobby Petrino has accepted an offer to return to Louisville as head football coach, a move the Cardinals could make official Thursday morning.

The University of Louisville Athletic Association must approve Petrino's hiring and is scheduled to meet Thursday morning. A person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday night that, "Petrino is the choice." The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the university had not announced its decision.

Jonathan Blue, a Louisville board of trustee, told the AP that "if it's a done deal, I'm totally behind" the decision.

Petrino, 52, returns to the school he led to a 41-9 record from 2003-06 as a first-time head coach. He has an 83-30 career record as a college head coach, including an 8-4 mark last season with the Hilltoppers, his first position since his April 2012 firing by Arkansas amid scandal.

Blue said he "couldn't be happier" to have Petrino return to Louisville.

Among the other candidates considered were Louisville offensive coordinator Shawn Watson and defensive coordinator Vance Bedford.

Bedford congratulated Petrino on his Twitter account, saying, "I want to thanks the card nation for your support. Coach petrino will do a great job. Stand behind the team. Go Cards."

Public support for Petrino's hiring grew as Strong's departure for the Longhorns became apparent, with Cardinals fans calling radio shows and nearly 60 percent voting in favor of the choice on one Louisville TV station. Those feelings were somewhat surprising considering there were some hard feelings in the athletic department over his frequent interest in other coaching jobs during his first stint at Louisville.

Jurich said Sunday that he and Petrino had patched things up and that he would be considered in the AD's quest to find "a good fit" for a Cardinals football program headed to the Atlantic Coast Conference next season. Jurich believed Louisville's 37-15 record in four seasons under Strong helped their prospects in attracting interest from "100 or 200" candidates in the past week.

And with Petrino's return, both sides have put disputes behind them.

That wasn't easy after he left following the 2006 season for a 13-game stint with the NFL's Atlanta Falcons, where Petrino went 3-10 before landing another job with Arkansas. His exit from the Falcons before the NFL season ended was even more upsetting to players, who were informed of Petrino's departure via letters left at their lockers.

Petrino's return to the college ranks yielded a 34-17 record and a pair of bowl wins on the field with the Razorbacks but ended infamously with his firing in April 2012 following a motorcycle accident in which he later revealed that his mistress was a passenger. School officials fired him that month for a "pattern of misleading behavior."

Eight months later he was back in coaching at WKU, which gave him a four-year contract that paid a base annual salary of $850,000. At the time of his hiring, Hilltoppers athletic director Todd Stewart said that the coach deserved a second chance but would also be held to a "zero tolerance" behavior policy.

Petrino's WKU contract includes clauses in which the oft-traveled coach must repay the school $1.2 million in six installments beginning a month after he leaves, while the program that hires him must agree to schedule a two-year, home-and-home series with WKU.

Harden, Rockets beat Lakers 113-99

HOUSTON (AP) James Harden tied a season high with 38 points and Dwight Howard added 20 points and 13 rebounds to propel the Houston Rockets to a 113-99 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night.

Howard got his first win against his former team as the Rockets used a big third-quarter run to take the lead and send the injury-riddled Lakers to their third straight loss.

The Rockets trailed by a basket in the third quarter before going on a 17-2 run to take an 80-67 lead and roll to win.

Harden continued his recent torrid scoring with his third straight 30-point game. He has piled up 113 points in the last three games combined.

Nick Young scored 25 points to lead Los Angeles and Pau Gasol and Jodie Meeks scored 21 each.

Ronnie Brewer started for the first time this season in place of the injured Chandler Parsons, who was out with a sore right knee.

Howard made a season-high four steals, Harden collected a season-best five steals, and Terrence Jones had 15 points and 13 rebounds.

The Lakers had a two-point lead midway through the third quarter when Houston got rolling, scoring seven straight points thanks to a 3-pointer by Harden and back-to-back buckets by Howard to take a 70-65 lead. The second one brought the crowd to its feet when Harden swiped a bad pass from Kendall Marshall and tossed up an alley-oop that Howard finished with a monster two-handed slam.

That spurt was the beginning of the 17-2 burst that extended Houston's lead to 80-67 with about two minutes left in the quarter. Harden was on fire in that span, scoring nine points and drawing a collective "ooh" from the crowd when he crossed up rookie Ryan Kelly on a layup to cap it.

Los Angeles was as cold as Harden was hot, missing five shots and committing three turnovers while the Rockets built the lead.

Howard spurned the Lakers to sign an $88 million deal with Houston, joining Harden and a team that made the playoffs last season for the first time since 2009.

He admitted after practice Tuesday that he was ticked off that Los Angeles came out on top in the first meeting earlier this season. The center missed several key free throws down the stretch in that one, a one-point win by the Lakers in November when they employed the Hack-A-Howard strategy.

They were down by 14 points when they used that approach again Wednesday night, fouling him every time Houston got the ball for a two-minute span ending with about two minutes left. Howard made just six of 14, but Houston's lead was so big this time it didn't matter. He finished 10 of 24 from the free throw line.

The Lakers, who are missing Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Jordan Farmar and Steve Blake with various injuries, lost for the ninth time in 10 games. Bryant watched the game from the end of the bench and shook his head often during bad plays by the Lakers. When Young had a silly foul on Harden in the fourth quarter the face of the franchise put his head in his hands and slumped his shoulders.

Houston opened the second half with a 9-3 run to take a 61-60 lead with about 8 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. Jones scored the last four points of that run.

Wesley Johnson had a highlight-reel play near the end of the first quarter when he sailed over the head of Houston's Aaron Brooks for a layup to put Los Angeles up 26-23.

Los Angeles led by nine after a putback layup by Gasol about 2 minutes before halftime. Houston outscored the Lakers 10-6 after that to cut the lead to 57-52 at halftime. Harden scored five points during that span.

NOTES: Houston C Omer Asik missed his 17th straight game right thigh and knee injuries. ... Houston's Greg Smith sat out with a sprained right knee. ... New Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien watched the game from a courtside seat.

Biggio barely misses cut, Morris left out of Hall

NEW YORK (AP) Craig Biggio barely came up short, so he'll be back next year. Jack Morris' outing is over, and he went the distance again.

Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens also were kept out of Cooperstown when Hall of Fame election results were announced Wednesday. And while first-time eligibles Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas sailed right in, the big stars still waiting remained a significant part of the story.

"Obviously, I'm disappointed to come that close," Biggio said in a statement. "I feel for my family, the organization and the fans. Hopefully, next year."

The seven-time All-Star, who spent his entire 20-year career with the Houston Astros, was selected on 74.8 percent of ballots with a total of 427 votes - two shy of the 75 percent required for enshrinement.

That tied Nellie Fox in 1985 and Pie Traynor in 1947 for the nearest miss. Traynor made it the following year, and Fox was put in by the old Veterans Committee in 1997.

"I was, like, shocked," Thomas said. "To hear that he didn't get in by two votes, man, I don't want to use the word `tragic,' but it's got to be a tragic moment for him right now. He was one heck of a player. It looks like he's going to get into the Hall of Fame in the future, but yeah, it's got to be a devastating day for him."

Biggio topped voting at 68 percent last year in his first appearance, when members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America failed to elect anyone for only the second time in four decades.

He finished with 3,060 hits, 1,844 runs, 668 doubles and 414 steals. He set a big league record by getting hit with pitches 285 times.

Biggio broke into the big leagues as a catcher but won four straight Gold Gloves at second base. He also patrolled center field and left.

"As surprised as I was for Craig last year having not gotten in, you almost feel heartbroken for him this year, given as close as he was," Glavine said. "Craig was a tremendous competitor. ... It's remarkable that he bounced around to as many positions as he did and played them all as well as he did. So I think it's just a matter of time before he's in the Hall of Fame."

Biggio has plenty of chances left, but Morris does not.

Best-known as a big-game pitcher who won World Series rings with three different teams, the right-hander received 351 votes (61.5 percent) and fell 78 short in his 15th and final appearance on the writers' ballot.

He dipped from 67.7 percent in 2013 and displaces Gil Hodges (63 percent in 1983) as the player with the highest-percentage of the vote not in the Hall.

"Just the ultimate gamer. Sad he didn't get in today," Thomas said. "The last few years I spent a lot of time with him ... so I know how much it meant to him. We're not going to lose hope now because he didn't make it this year. Hopefully the veterans committee can get him in."

Morris went 254-186 with a 3.90 ERA, higher than any pitcher in the Hall. He threw 175 complete games and 28 shutouts.

His greatest moment came in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, when he pitched 10 shutout innings to lead Minnesota to a 1-0 victory over Atlanta.

His next chance at Cooperstown could come at the expansion era committee meeting in December 2016.

Piazza followed Biggio with 62.2 percent, up from 57.8 last year. Bagwell, a longtime teammate of Biggio's in Houston, dropped to 54.3 percent from 59.6, and Tim Raines to 46.1 from 52.2.

Bonds and Clemens, huge stars tarnished by steroids allegations, garnered less support than last year.

"They shouldn't get in," Thomas said. "There shouldn't be cheating allowed to get into the Hall of Fame."

In their second appearances on the ballot, Clemens fell from 37.6 percent to 35.4, Bonds from 36.2 to 34.7 and Sammy Sosa from 12.5 to 7.2.

Rafael Palmeiro, with more than 500 homers and 3,000 hits, was knocked off future ballots after dropping below 5 percent (4.4) with 25 votes.

Larry Walker rang in at 10.2 percent.

"My goal of staying on the ballot for all 15 years got one year closer today!!" he tweeted with the hashtag "content."

Report: McDaniels takes himself out for Browns

CLEVELAND (AP) Josh McDaniels' second chance as an NFL head coach won't be with the Browns.

McDaniels, labeled a favorite to take over in Cleveland, removed himself from consideration for the Browns' opening Wednesday, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press. McDaniels pulled his name after learning he was not the front-runner for the job, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

ESPN first reported McDaniels' withdrawal.

McDaniels interviewed with Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner last weekend, when the Patriots had a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs. McDaniels, fired as Denver's coach in 2010 after 28 games, confirmed he met with the Browns but did not elaborate on the interview and said "I'm fortunate to have the job I have and I love being here. I love doing what I'm doing."

NFL rules prohibited the Browns from offering their job to McDaniels, a Canton, Ohio, native - or any other coach in the playoffs - until their respective season ends.

As McDaniels was removed from their list, the Browns interviewed Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo, a person familiar with the meeting told the AP.

McAdoo, who emerged as a surprise candidate in recent days, met with Browns officials Wednesday in Green Bay, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team is not publicizing information about the search. The 36-year-old McAdoo spent the past two seasons working with star QB Aaron Rodgers.

The Browns' search is in its second week after Haslam and Banner fired first-year coach Rob Chudzinski following a 4-12 season.

McAdoo received strong endorsements form Rodgers and Packers coach Mike McCarthy.

Although McAdoo's resume isn't lengthy, it's extensive enough to entice the Browns, and Rodgers said his position coach is a deserving candidate.

"You can't help but respect Ben the more time you spend with him, because he really cares about his job," Rodgers said on a weekly radio appearance in Milwaukee. "He listens when you talk, he asks good questions. I'm happy for Ben. Any opportunities he gets he deserves. He's a guy that works extremely hard. He's a guy who really puts the time in."

McCarthy, too, believes McAdoo is qualified to move up the coaching ranks.

"He's prepared himself for opportunities potentially that are out there," McCarthy said. "I think the world of Ben, I've been with Ben a long time, and seen him diligently prepare himself to move forward. So whatever opportunities that do come by, he'll do a phenomenal job."

Looking "to get it right" as they seek the franchise's seventh full-time coach in 15 years, Haslam and Banner have also interviewed Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.

Like McDaniels, Quinn met with the Browns while the Seahawks were off, and the 43-year-old relished the chance to discuss his football vision. He's also a candidate in Minnesota and Tennessee.

"It was an experience to go through something and I was fired up to do," he said. "It was nice it happened during a time that we were down. I was more fired up to have that chance, but now it's back to it and getting a chance to talking about the game and moving forward. It was a good experience but we're ready to rock here moving forward."

Seattle hosts New Orleans on Saturday.

Cleveland requested permission to interview Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase, but he declined until the Broncos' season is finished. Denver hosts San Diego on Sunday.

The Browns are also reportedly interested in speaking with Auburn coach Gus Malzahn and Vanderbilt coach James Franklin, who has revived the Commodores and led them to consecutive nine-win seasons.

Seattle's Lynch has $50,000 fine on hold

RENTON, Wash. (AP) A $50,000 fine to Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch has been put on hold as long as he continues to comply with league policy on being available to the media.

Lynch appealed the fine, but it was not overturned according to league spokesman Greg Aiello. Instead, NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson put the fine on hold after Lynch committed to complying with league policy. If there are any further violations, the $50,000 fine will be collected and a minimum fine of $50,000 more will be assessed.

Lynch had declined all requests for interviews this season and had not spoken to the media until last Friday when he talked for less than 90 seconds. Lynch's longest answer was 24 words when asked about the Seahawks' focus this week not knowing who their opponent would be.

The Seahawks face New Orleans on Saturday.

Messi marks Barca return with two goals vs. Getafe

MADRID - Lionel Messi marked his return from a near two-month injury layoff by scoring two late goals as Barcelona beat Getafe 4-0 in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday.

While Cesc Fabregas also scored twice, the atmosphere at the far from capacity Camp Nou Stadium picked up with Messi's entrance as a substitute in the 64th minute.

The Argentina forward didn't disappoint as he reminded who Barcelona's top scorer is while showing no after effects from a torn left hamstring.

Messi slotted home Martin Montoya's neat lay-off on the stroke of stoppage time before capping a typical run through the opponent's defense with a rising shot into the back of the net moments later.

Barcelona was also without forward Neymar for the last 16, first-leg match because of a stomach bug.

Warrant links Aaron Hernandez to Boston shooting

BRISTOL, Conn. - Police believe former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez was in an SUV when someone inside shot two people to death in Boston in 2012, according to a search warrant filed in Connecticut.

The warrant does not indicate who investigators believe pulled the trigger or suggest a motive in the shooting of Daniel Jorge Correia de Abreu and Safiro Teixeira Furtado in Boston's South End. No charges have been filed in the case. An attorney for Hernandez did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment Wednesday.

Hernandez came under scrutiny in the shooting following his arrest in the slaying of Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player whose body was found June 17 near Hernandez's North Attleborough, Mass., home. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to murder in that case.

In searching a home of Hernandez's uncle in Bristol, Conn., in June, police found the SUV wanted in the 2012 shooting in Boston.

The new search warrant, first reported by The Hartford Courant, was filed in Bristol Superior Court and dated Dec. 11. It sought recordings of phone calls made by a Hernandez associate, Alexander Bradley, while Bradley was jailed in Hartford in October for failing to appear before a Massachusetts grand jury investigating the 2012 shooting.

Bradley has alleged in a pending lawsuit in Florida that Hernandez shot him in the face after they argued outside a Miami club in February 2013.

The search warrant filed by Bristol police provides some of the first details of Hernandez's alleged link to the Boston shooting.

Surveillance camera recordings showed Hernandez and Bradley going into the Boston nightclub Cure at about 12:30 a.m. on July 16, 2012, shortly after the shooting victims went into the club, according to the warrant.

Hernandez's movements inside the club weren't recorded, but police said Hernandez quickly downed two drinks and that he and Bradley left after about 10 minutes. Surveillance video then showed Hernandez driving a Toyota 4Runner SUV out of a nearby parking garage with Bradley as a passenger, police said.

The footage shows the victims leaving the club at about 2:10 a.m., and Hernandez's SUV passing by them twice as they walked to a parking garage to get their car, the warrant says. The shooting wasn't recorded by any cameras.

A third man who was shot in the car but survived, Aquilino Freire, told police an SUV pulled up next to them while they were stopped at a traffic light, and he saw someone in the SUV's back seat laughing, the warrant says. Then, several gunshots were fired from the rear passenger seat into the car, Freire told police. Two other people in the car ran away, Freire said.

A witness in another car told investigators that he saw an SUV with Rhode Island license plates run a red light, stop next to the victims' car and he heard six gunshots. He described the SUV driver as a light-skinned Hispanic man with short dark hair.

Another witness gave authorities the same description of the driver and said there was a passenger with hair that was either braided or had beads in it. The witness wasn't sure if the passenger was a man or woman.

Hernandez has short dark hair, as does Bradley, according to police booking photos.

When Bradley was being detained at the Hartford Correctional Center, he was informed that all phone calls by prisoners are subject to monitoring. An announcement repeated randomly during the phone calls tells both people on the call that it is being recorded, the warrant says.

A correctional officer who was monitoring Bradley's calls alerted Bristol police that he believed Bradley discussed details of the Boston shooting in calls to people whom police did not identify. That led police to apply for the search warrant.

Puig asks Fla trooper to let him go after speeding

NAPLES, Fla. (AP) Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig begs a trooper who clocked him going 110 mph in Florida to let him go and later chides himself in the back seat of a police car for driving so fast, video released Wednesday shows.

The Cuban defector was charged with reckless driving in a 70 mph zone in Naples. Puig, who lives in the Miami area during the offseason, told the trooper he wasn't speeding for most of the 2-hour trip north until the officer clocked him. But the officer is unsympathetic.

"This is your mom? Oh, you're going to jail. You are putting your mom in danger, oh hell no," the trooper says in Spanish on Dec. 28 to Puig, 23. "Why were you driving that fast? You don't care about anyone's life in the car?"

Puig responds: "Yes I do care. I'm sorry. Please forgive me."

The video shows the trooper explaining to Puig's mother, a cousin and another passenger why he was being arrested.

"The reason why we are in this situation is because he didn't care about his mother's life or your lives, and he's going to jail," he said in Spanish. Puig's mother is heard sobbing.

While in the backseat, Puig tells himself: "Why do you have to drive so fast, Puig? You have to learn." He repeatedly asked the officer to let him go, at one point saying he would "do anything" and that he would never drive again, "but please don't take me to jail."

In April last year, Puig was clocked going 97 in a 50 mph zone in Tennessee, though those charges were later dismissed.

Puig signed a $42 million, seven-year contract in June 2012, a record for a Cuban defector. He received a $12 million signing bonus and made $2 million last season.

Maddux, Glavine, Thomas elected to Hall of Fame

NEW YORK (AP) Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas have been elected to baseball's Hall of Fame, while Craig Biggio fell just short.

The results were announced Wednesday.

The trio will be inducted in Cooperstown on July 27 along with managers Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony La Russa, elected last month by the expansion-era committee.

Nadal, Serena earn top seeds at Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) As expected, No. 1-ranked Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams have been made the top seeds at the Australian Open which begins on Monday at Melbourne Park.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic is the No. 2-seeded man, followed by David Ferrer, Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, Juan Martin del Potro and 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer at sixth.

On the women's side, defending champion Victoria Azarenka is No. 2, followed by Maria Sharapova, Li Na, Agnieszka Radwanska and former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in sixth.

The 32 seeds were only altered twice from the rankings, both because of injuries. No. 29-ranked Jurgen Melzer is not playing due to a left shoulder injury and Maria Kirilenko, who would have been seeded 18th, has a left knee injury.

Schenn's OT goal gives Flyers 3-2 win over Devils

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) Brayden Schenn scored at 1:50 of overtime and the Philadelphia Flyers beat the New Jersey Devils 3-2 on Tuesday night after giving up a late short-handed goal that forced the extra session.

Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell also scored for Philadelphia, which ended a six-game road trip with a 5-1 record. Ray Emery made 31 saves and won for the eighth time in nine games.

Michael Ryder tied it at 2 on a short-handed goal with 30 seconds left in regulation. It came on a great feed from defenseman Marek Zidlicky, with goalie Martin Brodeur on the bench for an extra skater.

Adam Henrique also scored for New Jersey, which is 0-2-1 in its last three games.

Schenn's game-winner was set up by a great back-door pass by defenseman Nicklas Grossman from the left point. He saw Schenn moving down the right side and found the center in the right circle for a shot that beat Brodeur, who had 25 saves.

Brodeur had made a close-in save on Schenn on a late power play to keep New Jersey in the game.

With Brodeur on the bench, Zidlicky found Ryder down low for the tying goal.

However, Schenn, who was cut across the stomach with a skate earlier in the game, got his revenge.

Giroux, passed over for the Canadian Olympic team earlier in the day, tied it 1-all with a power-play goal at 5:18. Hartnell, who has points in eight straight games, gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead with a shot from the left circle on a quick counterattack.

The Devils' chances of tying the game seemed dim when Travis Zajac high-sticked Giroux with less than 2 minutes to play, but they found a way.

The Flyers were unable to capitalize on a 1:44 power-play advantage at the start of the third period, but they didn't fail when Devils defenseman Mark Fayne was called for interference at 4:27.

Less than a minute into the extra-man advantage, Giroux rifled a shot from the top of the left circle that beat Brodeur into the top corner of the net. The goalie, who was seeking his 125th career shutout, may not have had a good view of the shot with Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds screening him.

It was Giroux's 13th goal of the season and it gave the Flyers' captain a team-high 39 points.

Hartnell made the breakout pass out of the Flyers' zone to Schenn and he hustled up the ice to take a return pass that he quickly put into the net for his 10th goal.

The Devils took a 1-0 lead in the opening minute of the game on a great individual effort by Jaromir Jagr. He skated around a Flyers defenseman in the right circle and centered the puck across the crease. It tipped Ryan Clowe's stick, and Henrique came out from behind the net to tap it in for his fourth goal in six games.

The point was the 1,723rd of Jagr's career, tying him with former Pittsburgh Penguins teammate Mario Lemieux for seventh in NHL history.

NOTES: When the Flyers play Montreal on Wednesday, it will be their first home game since Dec. 23. They have won nine straight at Wells Fargo Center. Their last loss was 3-0 to Brodeur and the Devils. ... Michael Raffl returned to the Flyers' lineup after missing two games with a concussion. ... Giroux has eight goals and 11 assists in his last 13 games.

AP source: Petrino interviews for Louisville job

Western Kentucky coach Bobby Petrino talked to Louisville on Tuesday about its top job.

Petrino interviewed with Cardinals athletic director Tom Jurich, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. Jurich is looking for a replacement for Charlie Strong, who took the Texas job over the weekend.

The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the school has not announced a list of coaching candidates, also said Louisville offensive coordinator Shawn Watson and defensive coordinator Vance Bedford are among "several candidates" who have interviewed for the position.

An announcement on Strong's successor could come as early as Thursday morning, when the University of Louisville Athletic Association is scheduled to meet to review Jurich's recommendation for the position.

Petrino, 52, is the most notable name among the known candidates because of his previous coaching success that began at Louisville. He went 41-9 as the Cardinals' coach from 2003-06 and earned the program's first BCS bowl victory his final season there in the Orange Bowl before a 3-10 stint with the NFL's Atlanta Falcons in 2007.

Petrino has an 83-30 career record as a college head coach, including an 8-4 mark last season with the Hilltoppers, his first position since his April 2012 firing by Arkansas amid scandal. The Montana native was dismissed for a "pattern of misleading behavior" about a motorcycle accident in which he claimed to be alone before revealing that his mistress was a passenger.

Petrino was 34-17 with the Razorbacks, including a 2-1 record in bowl games.

WKU gave Petrino a four-year deal with a base annual salary of $850,000. His contract includes a $1.2 million repayment to the school if he terminates it at any time.

Speculation over Petrino possibly being considered for Louisville increased when Jurich said during a Sunday news conference that "everybody is in play" to be Strong's replacement. The AD promised to move quickly on the hire but said he wanted a coach who was the right fit and committed to the school for the long term.

Strong was 37-15 in four seasons at Louisville, including a 3-1 record in bowl games.

Seahawks WR Harvin, TE Wilson practice Tuesday

RENTON, Wash. (AP) Wide receiver Percy Harvin and tight end Luke Willson have participated in practice for the Seattle Seahawks, raising the possibility of each playing in this weekend's NFC divisional playoff game against New Orleans.

Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Tuesday that Harvin made it through the two days he participated last week without any setbacks. Harvin has played in one game this season - Week 11 against Minnesota - following hip surgery in August. Last week was his first time on the practice field for Seattle since the middle of November.

Willson's recovery is a surprise after he was taken off the field on a cart in Seattle's season finale against St. Louis. Willson has a high-ankle sprain.

The amount of practice for each player was unknown because the team did not have to issue a participation report Tuesday.

Ireland out as Dolphins GM after 6 seasons

MIAMI (AP) The first airborne banner calling for Jeff Ireland to be fired flew over the Miami Dolphins' stadium in 2011. Other similar signs followed, most recently in November, and on Tuesday those wanting him out finally got their wish.

Ireland's six-year stint as general manager ended with a brief announcement that he and owner Stephen Ross mutually agreed to part ways. The Dolphins said they would conduct an immediate search for a replacement to lead football operations.

A late-season flop kept Miami out of the playoffs for a fifth consecutive year, and Ireland has long been considered the main culprit for the franchise's failures. More than two dozen frustrated fans gathered outside the Dolphins' complex one spring day in 2012 to protest the way the team was being run, with some holding signs that read "FIRELAND."

He wasn't fired, but in the wake of last month's meltdown, Ross considered hiring a football czar over Ireland and coach Joe Philbin. Ireland was opposed to such an arrangement.

"Steve and I came to an agreement that the best thing moving forward for all parties would be to part ways," Ireland said in a statement. "I'd like to thank Steve for all his support and kindness. I've had the opportunity to work with some of the most amazing people during this time, and I'd like to thank them all from the bottom of my heart."

Ross said the decision regarding Ireland came after they had a series of discussions.

"We both felt that it was in our mutual best interest to part ways," Ross said in a statement. "Jeff was a loyal and dedicated member of the Dolphins and we wish him and his family nothing but the best."

Still to be determined is Ireland's role in a locker-room bullying scandal that drew national scrutiny. The NFL has yet to release a report on its investigation into the case.

Ireland's departure follows Monday's firing of offensive coordinator Mike Sherman. Philbin will return for a third season, but other changes in his staff are possible.

The Dolphins (8-8) would have made the playoffs if they had won one of their final two games against the Bills and Jets. Instead, they were beaten by a combined score of 39-7.

Ross spent more than $100 million in guaranteed money last offseason to upgrade the roster, and the investment delivered only slight improvement from a 7-9 record in 2012.

Ireland, a protege of Bill Parcells, was hired as general manager in 2008, and the Dolphins won the AFC East in his first season. But they haven't been above .500 since, the longest such stretch in franchise history.

Ireland's personnel decisions have produced mixed results. This season, $60 million newcomer Mike Wallace had a career-low five touchdown catches, but free-agent acquisition Brent Grimes made the Pro Bowl.

In 2012, Ireland drafted Ryan Tannehill, who shows signs of becoming the franchise quarterback Miami has sought since Dan Marino retired following the 1999 season. But Ireland's 2013 draft picks played the fewest snaps of any team in the NFL, including overall No. 3 choice Dion Jordan, who had only two sacks all year.

Pages