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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.

PSU AD: Search for football coach on 'schedule'

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) Penn State Athletic Director Dave Joyner says efforts to replace Bill O'Brien are on `schedule' and he anticipates having a new football coach in just days.

In a statement released by his office on Tuesday, Joyner said the search to replace O'Brien, who left last week to coach the NFL's Houston Texans, is "robust as we anticipated and we have an excellent pool of candidates."

He was not specific about possible candidates but added he has "heard from many coaches, or their representatives, who have expressed their interest in the position."

Vanderbilt coach James Franklin and former Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak are reportedly under consideration for the job. Larry Johnson, who has been on staff for 18 years, was named interim coach. He's expressed interest in the job permanently.

O'Brien led the Nittany Lions to two winning seasons, restoring some tempered enthusiasm in Happy Valley.

Greg Maddux won't be unanimous Hall selection

NEW YORK (AP) Greg Maddux could break a 22-year-old record Wednesday, though he won't become the first unanimous selection in the history of the baseball writers' Hall of Fame ballot.

When Tom Seaver received 425 of 430 votes in 1992, his 98.84 percentage topped the mark set by Ty Cobb in 1936. A dominant pitcher when offense ruled in the Steroids Era, Maddux has a chance to enter Cooperstown with a little extra bit of fame.

"I just have just never come across any human being, whether they're a voter or just a fan, that doesn't think Greg Maddux is a Hall of Famer and one of the greatest pitchers who ever pitched," The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo said Tuesday. "I can't imagine someone not voting for him. So I would guess that he's going to break Seaver's record."

Maddux is among three high-profile players on the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot for the first time, joined by former Atlanta Braves teammate Tom Glavine and Chicago White Sox slugger Frank Thomas.

Holdovers include Craig Biggio, who topped voting at 68 percent last year, 39 votes short of the 75 percent needed for election. It was only the second time in four decades the BBWAA failed to elect anyone.

Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, a former reporter for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, said Tuesday the only player he voted for was Jack Morris, on the writers' ballot for the 15th and final time after falling 42 votes shy last year.

"To me, I didn't exclude Maddux. I excluded everybody from that era, everybody from the Steroid Era," Gurnick said. "It wasn't about Greg Maddux, it was about the entire era. I just don't know who did and who didn't."

Gurnick said Morris also was the only player he voted for in 2013 and added he intends to abstain in future elections.

"Some people quibble over when the era starts, but the bulk of his career was in my opinion well before all of the widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs," Gurnick said.

Given that 569 ballots were submitted in 2013, Maddux likely could be omitted from six this year and still break Seaver's record.

Back in 1992, Seaver was left off by Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News, Bob Hertzel of The Pittsburgh Press and freelance writer Bob Hunter. They all submitted blank ballots to protest the decision by the Hall of Fame board of directors to bar Pete Rose from the vote because of his lifetime ban from baseball following a gambling probe.

Retired writers Deane McGowen and Bud Tucker also did not vote for Seaver.

"If it had cost Seaver anything, yeah, I probably would regret it at some level, but it didn't really cost him anything," Hagen, now with MLB.com, said Tuesday. "He still got the highest vote (percentage) total ever, and he wouldn't have been unanimous anyway."

The Steroids Era has impacted the vote totals of players with stellar statistics. In initial appearances last year, Mike Piazza was at 57.8 percent, Roger Clemens at 37.6, Barry Bonds at 36.2 and Sammy Sosa at 12.5. Mark McGwire received 16.9 on his seventh try.

The Baseball Think Factory website compiled votes by writers who made their opinions public, and with 161 ballots had Maddux at 99 percent, followed by Glavine (96), Thomas (91) and Biggio (79). The website's count had Piazza (68), Jeff Bagwell (61) and Morris (60) falling short along with Tim Raines (55), Bonds (42), Clemens (41), Curt Schilling (37) and Mike Mussina (29).

McGwire (14) and Sosa (8) had little support.

Eighth on the wins list with a 355-227 record and a 3.16 ERA over 23 seasons, Maddux won four consecutive Cy Young Awards from 1992-95 and a record 18 Gold Gloves with the Chicago Cubs, Atlanta, the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego. An eight-time All-Star, he won at least 13 games in 20 straight seasons.

Among pitchers with 3,000 innings whose careers began in 1921 or later - after the Dead Ball Era - Maddux's 1.80 walks per nine innings is second only to Robin Roberts' 1.73, according to STATS.

Glavine, a 10-time All-Star and a two-time Cy Young winner, was 305-203 over 22 seasons. At the induction ceremony in Cooperstown on July 27, Maddux and Glavine figure to join their former manager Bobby Cox, elected last month by the expansion-era committee along with Joe Torre and Tony La Russa.

A two-time AL MVP, Thomas hit .301 with 521 homers and 1,704 RBIs in 19 seasons with the White Sox, Toronto and Oakland.

Biggio was a seven-time All-Star who spent his entire 20-year career in the majors with Houston. He had 3,060 hits, 668 doubles and 414 steals and set a big league record by getting hit with pitches 285 times.

Approximately 600 writers who have been members of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years at any point considered the 36-player ballot.

Next year's ballot could be even more crowded when Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Carlos Delgado and Gary Sheffield become eligible, five years after their retirements. The BBWAA last month formed a committee to study whether the organization should ask the Hall to change the limit of 10 players per ballot.

Former NFL, Florida State player dies in hotel

BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) Former NFL and Florida State offensive tackle Todd Williams has been found dead in a Tampa Bay area hotel.

The Manatee County Sheriff's Office reports that deputies responded to the Sarasota Suites late Monday morning, just hours before the Seminoles won a national championship.

The 35-year-old Bradenton native had reportedly complained to his mother of feeling sick on Friday. She found his body Monday.

Sheriff's spokesman Dave Bristow says they haven't found anything suspicious, but an autopsy will be performed.

Williams was one of the state's top prospects after his senior season at Southeast High in Bradenton. He was a redshirt freshman on the Seminoles' 1999 national champion team. He was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the 2003 NFL draft and went on to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Green Bay Packers.

NHL postpones 'Canes at Sabres because of blizzard

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) The Hurricanes have been shut down by a blizzard.

The NHL has postponed the game scheduled for Tuesday night in Buffalo between the Sabres and Carolina because of a snowstorm in western New York.

A makeup date has not been determined. The postponement comes with Buffalo dealing with a wintry blast of near-zero temperatures, heavy winds and blinding snow that has forced the closure of most major roadways.

The Hurricanes got to Buffalo before the brunt of the storm hit Monday afternoon. The weather, however, prevented both teams from holding their usual morning pregame skates.

Rescheduling the game could prove difficult in the near future. The Hurricanes host Toronto on Thursday, before traveling to play Columbus on Friday. The Sabres are in the midst of playing 15 games in 31 days.

Ex-NBA player says NKorea game dwarfed by politics

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) Former NBA star Charles D. Smith says he feels remorse for coming to Pyongyang with Dennis Rodman for a game on the North Korean leader's birthday because the event has been dwarfed by politics and tainted by Rodman's own comments.

Smith and other former NBA players are scheduled to play with Rodman against a team of North Koreans on Wednesday that organizers say leader Kim Jong Un is expected to attend. Many of the players on Tuesday privately expressed second thoughts about going ahead because of an outpouring of criticism back home in the United States.

Smith, who played for the New York Knicks, said the North Korea trip has been dwarfed by politics and Rodman's frequent boasts about his close friendship with Kim.

"What we are doing is positive, but it is getting dwarfed by the other circumstances around it," Smith told The Associated Press. "Apparently our message is not being conveyed properly due to the circumstances that are much bigger than us, and I think that has to do with politics and government."

Rodman arrived in Pyongyang on Monday with seven former NBA players and four streetballers for the game on Kim's birthday, believed to be his 31st. Along with Smith, the squad features ex-All Stars Kenny Anderson, Cliff Robinson and Vin Baker.

The game would be another milestone in Rodman's surprising relationship with basketball fan Kim, who rarely meets with outsiders and is possibly the world's most mysterious leader. Rodman has called the game a "birthday present" for Kim but says he has received death threats for his repeated visits to this country and for calling Kim a "friend for life."

"The way some of the statements and things that Dennis has said has tainted our efforts," Smith said. "Dennis is a great guy, but how he articulates what goes on - he gets emotional and he says things that he'll apologize for later."

The White House said Tuesday it would not have approved Rodman's latest trip to North Korea if it had any say in the matter. Spokesman Jay Carney said the visit was considered private travel and not subject to government review.

NBA Commissioner David Stern has distanced his organization from Rodman's squad.

"The NBA is not involved with Mr. Rodman's North Korea trip and would not participate or support such a venture without the approval of the U.S. State Department," he said in a statement. "Although sports in many instances can be helpful in bridging cultural divides, this is not one of them."

Rodman is the highest-profile American to meet Kim since the leader inherited power after his father, Kim Jong Il, died in late 2011. He traveled to the North for the first time last February and came back just before Christmas to hold tryouts for the North Korean basketball team, though he did not meet with Kim then.

The plan to hold the game has been criticized because of the North's human rights record, its development of nuclear weapons and its threats to use them if a conflict breaks out with Washington or Seoul. Rodman, in particular, has been slammed for not trying to use his influence with Kim to secure the release of Kenneth Bae, an American missionary with health problems who is being held in North Korea on charges of "anti-state" crimes.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. remains gravely concerned about Bae's health and is ready to send U.S. envoy on North Korean human rights issues, Robert King, to seek his release if Pyongyang reinstates an invitation that was withdrawn in August. Psaki declined to say whether Rodman's visit was complicating those diplomatic efforts.

Asked in a CNN satellite interview Tuesday whether he would raise the issue of Bae, Rodman yelled in response, "I don't give a rat's ass what the hell you think. ... One day this door is going to open because these 10 guys here."

Smith placed his arm around Rodman's shoulder and a hand on his arm in an attempt to calm Rodman down.

"I feel bad for Dennis, I feel bad for the players," Smith said afterward, adding that when he played for the United States in the 1988 Olympics he felt elation.

"I felt huge, I felt on top of the world. But I feel the reverse now," he said. "I feel a lot of remorse for the guys because we are doing something positive, but it's a lot bigger than us. We are not naive, we understand why things are being portrayed the way they are. We can't do anything about that, if we could we would.

"We're not skilled in those particular areas," he added. "Dennis is definitely not skilled in those particular areas."

NBA, NBRPA not backing Rodman's North Korea trip

MIAMI (AP) Dennis Rodman's latest trip to North Korea is generating no support from the NBA and the league's retired players association, both of whom made it clear they had nothing to do with the venture.

Rodman took a group of about a half-dozen retired NBA players to North Korea this week for a game that's intended to be a birthday present of sorts for Kim Jong Un, the nation's leader who is expected to attend. Kim's human rights record and North Korea's history when it comes to developing nuclear weapons are widely criticized globally.

The National Basketball Retired Players Association "denounced" the trip and the scheduled Wednesday game.

"While we support international goodwill and diplomacy in instances deemed appropriate ... it is important to clarify that the trip to North Korea led by Dennis Rodman and others was not sanctioned by the NBRPA and is not supported by our organization in any way," said Otis Birdsong, the NBRPA's chairman. "Under the right circumstances basketball can serve as a bridge to bring communities together, but these are not those circumstances."

NBA Commissioner David Stern was clear, though diplomatic in his remarks about Rodman's venture.

"The NBA is not involved with Mr. Rodman's North Korea trip and would not participate or support such a venture without the approval of the U.S. State Department," Stern said. "Although sports in many instances can be helpful in bridging cultural divides, this is not one of them."

The State Department has recommended that U.S. citizens not try to enter North Korea, with at least six Americans - including two with valid visas issued by that country - having been arrested there since 2009.

Rodman has also been criticized for apparently not yet trying to use his access to North Korea as a method of helping secure the release of Kenneth Bae, an American missionary with health problems who is being held there on charges of "anti-state" crimes.

"You've got to be conscious and aware of what's happening in the world," said Miami guard Roger Mason Jr., the first vice president of the National Basketball Players Association. "I mean, it's the life we live. I don't want to get too much into what Dennis is doing, but I'm certainly aware of it and it's tricky when you mix playing the game of basketball with sensitive subjects like North Korea."

Other players simply hoped the trip did not create even more problems.

"I think it comes from a good place," Miami forward Shane Battier said. "Intentions are good. I don't know if the execution is what they thought when they dreamt this initially. Hopefully some good things can come out of it."

No. 1 Florida State beats No. 2 Auburn 34-31

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) For all Jameis Winston had done as a redshirt freshman for Florida State, he never had to pull the Seminoles from the brink of defeat.

In the biggest game of the year, down by four with 79 seconds left, the Heisman Trophy winner put together the drive of his life, and the Seminoles proved they could take a punch to win a championship.

Winston threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin with 13 seconds left and No. 1 Florida State beat No. 2 Auburn 34-31 to win the BCS national title game on Monday night.

"There's a lot of heart and guts down in Tallahassee, too," coach Jimbo Fisher said.

The Bowl Championship Series went out with a bang, with one of the best title games in its 16-year history. It will be replaced by a four-team playoff next season. And the Southeastern Conference's seven-year winning streak in college football's biggest game was snapped by the Atlantic Coast Conference school that played in the first three BCS title games but hadn't been back since.

Florida State was voted a unanimous No. 1 in the final AP Top 25. Auburn finished second.

Winston struggled much of the night but was near perfect when the Seminoles (14-0) needed it most, going 6 for 7 for 77 yards on the game-winning 80-yard drive.

"It was the best football game he's played all year," Fisher said, "and I'll tell you why, because for three quarters he was up and down and he fought.

"And to pull it out in the atmosphere and environment and with what was on the line tonight, to me if that's not a great player, I don't know who is."

Winston was 20 for 35 for 237 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdown passes. He zipped the Seminoles down the field on the final drive, with a 49-yard catch and run from Rashad Greene.

Florida State also got help from Auburn, too. A pass interference penalty on Chris Davis on third-and-8 from the 10 gave Florida State a first down at the 2.

"Thought it was great defense. That's all I can say," Davis said, adding, the officials "should have just let us play."

On the next play Winston flipped high to the 6-foot-5 Benjamin for the touchdown.

"Once the ball is in the air on that post route, I've got to go get it, and I did," Benjamin said. "Simple as that."

There was no miracle finish this time for the turnaround Tigers, who went from 3-9 to SEC champions in their first season under coach Gus Malzahn. They tossed the ball around on one final play, but it ended with Florida State jumping on a fumble, and the Seminoles sprinting onto the field under a storm of garnet and gold confetti.

Florida State scored 21 points in the fourth quarter, and the teams combined for 24 in a breathtaking last 4:42.

"It felt storybook again," Auburn defensive tackle Gabe Wright said. "It really felt like we were going to bring it out again. We're just on the other end of the stick. It's usually us going out on the field and celebrating. It's been a long time since we had an `L' in this locker room."

Auburn won nine straight to get here after starting the season unranked.

Tre Mason gave Auburn (12-2) a 31-27 lead with a 37-yard touchdown run with 1:19 left after Kermit Whitfield had put Florida State in the lead for the first time since the first quarter with a 100-yard kickoff return to make it 27-24 with 4:31 left.

Mason ran for 195 yards and Nick Marshall threw two touchdown passes for the Tigers.

"I told them in the locker room, we put together the biggest turnaround in the history of college football. We were on the brink of making it one of those magical seasons," Malzahn said.

Florida State hadn't been challenged like this all season, winning by an average of 42 points.

Florida State and Winston's biggest problem this season came off the field. Winston was investigated for a year-old sexual assault complaint in November, but after three weeks the Florida state attorney's office determined it did not have enough evidence to charge him.

Winston, who turned 20 Monday, told his teammates before the final drive: "'Guys, we didn't come here for no reason.' I said `Y'all, this is ours, man."'

The Seminoles were down 21-3 in the first half, and wobbling, but never fell over.

And now Florida State is national champion for the first time since 1999, the first team to win the BCS title game after being down at halftime.

Winston was jumpy against a strong Auburn pass rush, led by Dee Ford. Winston was sacked four times.

The Seminoles cut it to 21-10 with a late touchdown in the second quarter, following a faked punt and a tough 21-yard run by Winston, and chipped into Auburn's lead with a 41-yard field goal by Roberto Aguayo with 6:05 left in the third.

Meanwhile, Florida State had found some answers to Auburn's spread offense. A holding penalty that wiped out a long pass also helped keep the Tigers scoreless in the third quarter, and the Seminoles began the fourth with P.J. Williams intercepting Marshall's pass and setting up Florida State at its 38.

When Winston tossed in the flats to Chad Abram, who hurdled over a tackler on the way to an 11-yard touchdown, the lead was 21-19. Florida State was considering going for two to tie, but Devonta Freeman was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and that pushed the extra point back 15 yards and forced the Seminoles to kick and make it 21-20.

Auburn responded with Cody Parkey's 22-yard field goal to make it 24-20 with 4:42 left.

During Winston's record-breaking season, filled with blowouts and fourth quarters spent watching from the sideline, he never faced a situation in which he had to drive his team to a winning score.

Now he had a chance to add that last line to his remarkable resume - until Whitfield handled it for him.

Whitfield broke through a seam around the 30 and hit the sideline at full speed. Fisher ran down the other sideline yelling "Go! Go!" with Winston chasing behind pumping his arms and slapping his coach on the back. Florida State was on top, but Auburn was not done and Winston would be called upon one last time.

He delivered.

"Only thing is we're victorious and glad to say Florida State is the national champion again, and I guarantee you we're bringing that swag back," Winston said. "You'd better believe it."

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAp

Cavs send Bynum, picks to Bulls for Deng

CHICAGO (AP) The Cleveland Cavaliers traded Andrew Bynum in time - and got an All-Star in return.

The Cavaliers acquired Luol Deng from the Chicago Bulls late Monday night for Bynum and three future draft picks, beating the deadline to guarantee his full contract for the season.

Along with Bynum, who had recently been suspended indefinitely by the Cavaliers for conduct detrimental to the team, the Cavaliers also sent the Bulls a first-round pick, two second-rounders, and gave Chicago the right to swap first-round choices in 2015 if the Cavs are not in the lottery.

Deng has been an All-Star the last two seasons. But he will be a free agent after this season, and with Bulls' championship aspirations gone following Derrick Rose's season-ending knee injury, there was no reason to hold onto him and risk losing him for nothing.

"We have great respect for Luol Deng, as a player and a person. He has been an incredible contributor to our team on the court, and he has also done great things in the community," Bulls general manager Gar Forman said in a statement. "On behalf of the entire Bulls organization, I want to thank Luol for his years in Chicago."

Deng is averaging a career-best 19 points this season and has been a member of the league's All-Defensive team. He's also a former winner of the NBA's sportsmanship award, and his professionalism will be welcomed by the Cavaliers, who quickly ran out of patience with Bynum.

"Luol reflects all that we are striving for in building our team," Cavs general manager Chris Grant said. "He's a tremendous defensive player that can impact the game on both ends of the court with a team-first mentality and is a high character leader."

Bynum signed a two-year, $24 million contract with the Cavs in July, but only $6 million of the $12.5 million he was scheduled to earn this season was guaranteed if he was still on Cleveland's payroll by Jan. 7.

Now the Bulls can waive him and earn that salary relief - their release in announcing the deal never mentions anything about Bynum playing for them - and position themselves for the future.

Chicago gets a future first-round pick that had belonged to Sacramento, along with 2015 and 2016 second-round picks Cleveland had obtained from the Portland Trail Blazers.

"The moves made today will put us in a better position to make the entire roster stronger for the future and to compete for a championship," Forman said.

Bynum averaged 8.4 points in 24 games for the Cavaliers. He sat out all last season with Philadelphia because of knee surgery in his only season with the 76ers, but the way his contract was structured made him worth the risk for Cleveland.

But the Cavaliers suspended him on Dec. 28, excusing him from all team activities while they searched for a deal.

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