BASEBALL-HALL OF FAME BALLOT
Let's take a vote
NEW YORK (AP) — With drug-tainted sluggers Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa listed for the first time, this year's balloting for baseball's Hall of Fame shapes up to be a referendum on the Steroids Era.
Bonds is the all-time home run champion with 762 and won a record seven MVP awards. Clemens set a record with seven Cy Young trophies and Sosa hit 609 homers. The voters will now decide whether drug allegations that tainted their huge numbers should keep them out of Cooperstown.
Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza and Curt Schilling also are among the 24 first-time eligibles.
Jack Morris, Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines are the top holdover candidates.
More than 600 longtime members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America will vote through next month. Candidates need 75 percent for induction, and the results will be announced Jan. 9.
Pettitte will be back next year
NEW YORK (AP) — Andy Pettitte has signed a one-year deal with the Yankees. The veteran left-hander came out of retirement on May 13 but missed nearly three months of the 2012 season with a fractured left ankle.
Pettitte will be entering his 18th big league campaign next year. Among pitchers currently signed with a major league clubs, he ranks first in wins, starts, strikeouts and innings pitched. He's also the all-time winningest pitcher in postseason history.
Reds sign potential closer
CINCINNATI (AP) — The Reds have signed right-hander Jonathan Broxton to a three-year, $21 million contract, giving the NL Central champions a potential closer. It's an indication the team will put last year's closer, lefty Aroldis Chapman, back in the starting rotation.
Broxton came to the Reds last July in a trade with Kansas City and was part of their push toward the playoffs. He filled in as the closer when Chapman came down with a tired shoulder and had four saves in six chances overall with a 2.82 ERA.
Madson headed West
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Reliever Ryan Madson has agreed to a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels. The right-hander missed all of last season with Cincinnati following Tommy John surgery. Madson says he expects to be the Angels' closer.
Madson pitched his first nine big-league seasons with Philadelphia, going 47-30 with 52 saves and a 3.59 ERA. He was outstanding as the Phillies' closer in 2011, getting 32 saves with a 2.37 ERA.
New deal for Neshek
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Right-handed reliever Pat Neshek and the Oakland Athletics have reached agreement on a one-year contract, avoiding salary arbitration. The AL West champion A's rallied around Neshek after his newborn son died 23 hours after his birth just before the playoffs began last month. Oakland players took the field wearing patches in the baby's honor during their five-game division series loss to the Detroit Tigers.
Two more schools changing conference alignment
UNDATED (AP) — More dominoes are falling in the conference realignment game.
Presidents and chancellors of the Atlantic Coast Conference have unanimously voted to add Louisville as the replacement for Maryland.
Maryland announced last week it would join the Big Ten in 2014.
ACC Commissioner John Swofford says the addition of Louisville along with Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Syracuse in the past 15 months has made the league stronger.
Also, a person familiar with the situation tells the AP that Middle Tennessee has accepted an offer to join Conference USA and is leaving the Sun Belt.
The school announced it will hold a news conference on campus Thursday but did not say what it was in regards to. The Blue Raiders play Arkansas State on Saturday for the Sun Belt Conference championship.
LSU keeping Miles happy
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — LSU athletic director Joe Alleva says football coach Les Miles is getting a raise and an extension.
Miles' previous contract paid about $3.75 million annually through 2017. The new deal runs through 2019. He hasn't received a raise since 2008, though he has received an extension and raises for assistants.
Miles is 85-20 at LSU since arriving in 2005. He led the Tigers to the 2007 national title and two BCS championship appearances. LSU's victory over Arkansas last Friday clinched Miles' fifth 10-win season at the Baton Rouge school.
Gruden says he's had no offer from Volunteers
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Former NFL coach and current ESPN analyst Jon Gruden (GROO'-den) is denying a report by Memphis TV station WREG that he's received an offer to coach the Tennessee Volunteers as part of a deal that includes becoming part owner of the NFL's Cleveland franchise.
The Browns are owned by Jimmy Haslam, who happens to be the brother of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam. Their father, Jim, played on Tennessee's 1951 national championship team.
Gruden told ESPN's "Mike & Mike In The Morning" show there is "no truth" to the report.
Browns spokesman Neal Gulkis says the report is "completely erroneous."
Gruden was a graduate assistant with the Volunteers and his wife Cindy is a former Tennessee cheerleader.
Leach likes the Cougars
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Washington State's Mike Leach says he intends to be coaching the Cougars again next season. Leach's name has come up in connection with some coaching vacancies across the country, particularly at North Carolina State. He says he's happy with his current posting and wants to turn the Washington State program around.
Suh, Allen and Thomas fined
UNDATED (AP) — Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (ehn-DAHM'-uh-kehn soo) has been fined $30,000 by the NFL for kicking Texans quarterback Matt Schaub in the groin area during the Lions' Thanksgiving Day loss to Houston. Speaking with reporters for the first time since the incident, Suh said he didn't do it on purpose so there is no need to apologize to Schaub.
Suh dodged another suspension from the league for his latest questionable move on the field.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen has been fined $21,000 for a hit on Chicago Bears guard Lance Louis on Sunday. A person with knowledge of the fine tells The Associated Press that it was levied three days after he knocked Louis out for the season with a hit that injured Louis' left knee. The person requested anonymity because the league has not announced the fine.
RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas says he has been fined by the NFL for his roughing the passer penalty against Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill last week. Thomas first tweeted about the fine, then confirmed it during an open locker room interview. He indicated in his tweet that he was fined $15,000.
Elsewhere around the NFL:
— San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh says Colin Kaepernik (KAP-ur-nik) will be his starting quarterback this week at St. Louis. The second-year pro won his first two NFL starts after Alex Smith was sidelined by a concussion. Smith is healthy but Harbaugh says Kaepernik has "the hot hand."
— Wide receiver Titus Young has practiced with the Lions for the first time since the team told him to stay away. The second-year pro was deactivated for last week's 34-31 overtime loss to Houston because coach Jim Schwartz said his behavior was "unacceptable" during the previous setback to Green Bay. Young has 33 catches for 383 yards and four touchdowns this season.
— Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden has been cleared to practice after sustaining a concussion last Sunday and will likely start this week's game in Oakland. Weeden finished 17 of 26 for 158 yards with a touchdown and an interception before he was injured late in a 20-14 victory over Pittsburgh. Colt McCoy will get the nod if Weeden can't go.
Rubio gets OK
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Ricky Rubio (ROO'-bee-oh) has been cleared to begin practicing with the Minnesota Timberwolves for the first time since tearing ligaments in his left knee last March. Rubio tore the ACL in his left knee in a game against the Lakers on March 9. He will likely start to practice this weekend.
Long putters to go belly up
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — Golf's governing bodies are proposing a controversial rules change that would eliminate the putting stroke used by three of the last five major champions.
The Royal & Ancient Golf Club and the U.S. Golf Association want to make it illegal for golfers to anchor long putters to their body.
They say the rule would not outlaw belly putter or broom-handle putters, only the way they are currently used.
The R&A and USGA will take comments for three months on the proposed rule before it is approved. The Rules of Golf are updated every four years, so any ban on the anchored stroke would not take effect until 2016.