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Matsuzaka, Boston reach preliminary pact (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061214/ap_on_sp_ba_ne/bba_red_sox_matsuzaka"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20061214/capt.macs10312132301c.addition_red_sox_matsuzaka_baseball_macs103.jpg?x=130&y=96&sig=_.zR9VDpTFRfFsr4EDfqPg--" align="left" height="96" width="130" alt="Daisuke Matsuzaka waves to the media from car window, after he arrived at Hanscom Airport in Bedford, Mass. Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2006. Matsuzaka headed to Boston on Wednesday with Red Sox officials, a sign the team had reached a preliminary agreement with the star pitcher. Matsuaka's agent Scott Boras is at right. (AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki)" border="0" /></a>AP - Bridging the economic gap in the most expensive cultural exchange in baseball history, the Red Sox reached a preliminary agreement Wednesday with Daisuke Matsuzaka on a $52 million, six-year contract.</p><br clear="all"/>

Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt dies (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061214/ap_on_sp_fo_ne/fbn_obit_chiefs_hunt"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20061212/capt.ny16312122016.hunt_hospitalized__ny163.jpg?x=130&y=87&sig=5gQGx_vhFKuRKPO9NF30jw--" align="left" height="87" width="130" alt="Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt talks to the media after NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue announced that Kansas City, Mo., was selected to host a Super Bowl, in Kansas City, Mo., in this Nov. 16, 2005 file photo. Lamar Hunt was fighting for his life in a Dallas hospital Tuesday Dec. 12, 2006, and friends and family of the 74-year-old pioneer of the modern NFL were hoping for 'miracles.' (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)" border="0" /></a>AP - Lamar Hunt, the pro sports visionary who owned the Kansas City Chiefs and came up with the term "Super Bowl," died Wednesday night. He was 74.</p><br clear="all"/>

Riley praises Nash as Suns scorch Heat (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061214/ap_on_sp_bk_ga_su/bkn_suns_heat"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20061214/capt.aaa10312140137.suns_heat_basketball_aaa103.jpg?x=130&y=98&sig=ioOd.swGObvpsCDpsBOTzw--" align="left" height="98" width="130" alt="Phoenix Suns' Steve Nash (13) passes the ball as Miami Heat's Alonzo Mourning, left, defends in the first quarter of a basketball game in Miami, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2006. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)" border="0" /></a>AP - Miami Heat coach Pat Riley has nothing but high praise for Steve Nash, the NBA's two-time reigning MVP. "He may be the best player in the league," Riley said.</p><br clear="all"/>

Ducks establish best road start ever (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061214/ap_on_sp_ho_ga_su/hkn_ducks_thrashers"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20061214/capt.gaja10712140201.ducks_thrashers_hockey_gaja107.jpg?x=89&y=130&sig=LQYQaTECF8tc.deSdm_ITw--" align="left" height="130" width="89" alt="Anaheim Ducks right wing Teemu Selanne (8), of Finland, reacts after scoring during the second period of their NHL hockey game against the Atlanta Thrashers, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2006 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)" border="0" /></a>AP - Teemu Selanne has more than 500 NHL goals, but few have been as easy as his winner on Wednesday night. Selanne scored two goals, including the tiebreaker in the third period, as the Anaheim Ducks beat the Atlanta Thrashers 2-1 and set the NHL mark for best road record through 15 games.</p><br clear="all"/>

333-game winner Greg Maddux joins Padres (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061214/ap_on_sp_ba_ne/bbn_padres_maddux"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20061214/capt.cali10212140056.padres_maddux_baseball_cali102.jpg?x=130&y=91&sig=0_fiiBuIr69tYQR_1w99ig--" align="left" height="91" width="130" alt="Pitcher Greg Maddux, right, talks about why he signed as a free agent to pitch for the San Diego Padres at news conference Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2006 in San Diego. Padres general manager Kevin Towers is at left. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)" border="0" /></a>AP - Now that he's finally pulled on a San Diego Padres jersey, Greg Maddux might try to pitch forever.</p><br clear="all"/>

Lamar Hunt, Hall of Fame owner, dies (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061214/ap_on_sp_fo_ne/fbn_lamar_hunt_bio_box"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20061212/capt.ny16412122018.hunt_hospitalized__ny164.jpg?x=87&y=130&sig=sfNvcr1EhRkJ2G9vZUWjLg--" align="left" height="130" width="87" alt="Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt walks outside the NFL football owners meeting at a hotel at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in Grapevine, Texas, in this March 7, 2006 file photo. Lamar Hunt was fighting for his life in a Dallas hospital Tuesday Dec. 12, 2006, and friends and family of the 74-year-old pioneer of the modern NFL were hoping for 'miracles.' (AP Photo/D.J. Peters)" border="0" /></a>AP - NAME: Lamar Hunt.</p><br clear="all"/>

Jazz defeat short-handed Clippers 105-86 (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061214/ap_on_sp_bk_ga_su/bkn_jazz_clippers"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20061214/capt.las10112140509.jazz_clippers_basketball_las101.jpg?x=92&y=130&sig=frpFFDJ6OzCx8iX8xIA6ow--" align="left" height="130" width="92" alt="Utah Jazz's Matt Harpring (15) puts up a shot as Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Kaman guards during the first half of their NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2006, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)" border="0" /></a>AP - Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams have provided the upstart Utah Jazz with the NBA's most effective 1-2 punch this season. They were at their best Wednesday night.</p><br clear="all"/>

Wells offered $120 million extension (AP)
AP - The Toronto Blue Jays have offered All-Star center fielder Vernon Wells a contract extension worth more $120 million.

Feyenoord, PSG advance at UEFA Cup (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061213/ap_on_sp_so_ga_su/soc_euro_rdp"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20061213/capt.304ee79f8a594b469b1ff4e21f4eb02d.netherlands_soccer_uefa_feyenoord_wisla_pdj809.jpg?x=130&y=100&sig=OPBVE73pYQKFEJ4RxCQIlA--" align="left" height="100" width="130" alt="Feyenoord player Angelos Charisteas of Greece, right, reacts after scoring 3-1 against Wisla Krakow during their UEFA Cup soccer match in De Kuip stadium in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Wednesday Dec. 13, 2006. At left is Feyenoord player Jonathan de Guzman. Lying in fourth place in Group E, Feyenoord needed a home victory Wednesday over third place Wisla Krakow to join Blackburn and Nancy in the next round. (AP Photo/Bas Czerwinski)" border="0" /></a>AP - Feyenoord and Paris Saint-Germain &#151; two clubs whose last UEFA Cup matches were marred by violence &#151; reached the round of 32 in Europe's second-tier competition on Wednesday, and were joined by Ajax, Hapoel Tel Aviv, Celta Vigo and Fenerbahce.</p><br clear="all"/>

Avs send Blues to ninth straight loss (AP)
<p><a href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061214/ap_on_sp_ho_ga_su/hkn_blues_avalanche"><img src="http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/ap/20061214/capt.cojd10412140322.blues_avalanche_hockey_cojd104.jpg?x=107&y=130&sig=BaSoRykBc6_kvAI5bFKHBA--" align="left" height="130" width="107" alt="Colorado Avalanche right wing Milan Hejduk from the Czech Republic returns to the ice during the first period of a hockey game in Denver, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2006. Hejduk recently had surgery on his nose.(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)" border="0" /></a>AP - The Colorado Avalanche needed a period to find their stride. Once they did, there was little the struggling St. Louis Blues and their young goalie could do to stop them.</p><br clear="all"/>

Easier said than done
Critics had been calling for Bears coach Lovie Smith to bench Rex Grossman, but the decision is more difficult than many realize.

Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt dies at 74 (AP)
Lamar Hunt, the pro sports visionary who owned the Kansas City Chiefs and came up with the term "Super Bowl," died Wednesday night. He was 74. Hunt, a founder of the American Football League and one of the driving forces behind the AFL-NFL merger, died at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas of complications from prostate cancer, Chiefs spokesman Bob Moore said.

Fred Taylor, Jake Delhomme miss practice (AP)
Carolina Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme started 66 consecutive games before a thumb injury snapped his streak last week. Watching from the sidelines is something Delhomme hopes he never has to do again. "When the teams get introduced and you walk out from the other tunnel, it kind of feels like you have no life inside of you," Delhomme said Wednesday.

T.O. blames 'snitch' for problems (AP)
Terrell Owens really likes being part of the Dallas Cowboys except for one thing: "The Snitch." Owens remains upset that someone within the organization has been airing his dirty laundry. It started with a preseason report about him being late to work and continued with the story about a problem that causes him to fall asleep in meetings.

Steelers' Cowher undecided on future (AP)
Bill Cowher will wait until the end of the season to decide whether he'll return to coach the Pittsburgh Steelers. "There will be something at the end of the year," Cowher said Wednesday during a conference call with reporters in Charlotte, N.C. "I'll sit back and put a lot of thought into it and make a decision accordingly.

Seahawks can clinch NFC West vs. 49ers (AP)
Matt Hasselback's honest appraisal might best define the Seattle Seahawks' first 13 games. They are a losing team on the road, riddled with major injuries to key players all season, and have displayed very little of the dominant, complete and consistent unit that rolled to the NFC championship a year ago.

Falcons sign RB Robertson to add depth (AP)
With Warrick Dunn and Jerious Norwood hobbled by injuries, the Atlanta Falcons signed former Carolina and San Francisco running back Jamal Robertson on Wednesday. Robertson adds depth to a backfield that might be without its top two tailbacks for Saturday night's crucial game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Cowboys new stadium to keep hole in roof (AP)
The Dallas Cowboys are taking their distinctive hole-in-the-roof design with them to their $1 billion new stadium. Only this time, the playground will feature a sliding lid to keep the elements out. That's a must considering there's going to be a 60-yard-long, 50-foot-high scoreboard hanging over the football field.

Raiders reclaim WR Gabriel, cut by Pats (AP)
The Oakland Raiders brought back receiver Doug Gabriel on Wednesday three months after trading him to New England as insurance for Randy Moss' ankle injury. Gabriel had been slated to start in Oakland before being traded to New England for a fifth-round pick just before the beginning of the season. He was cut this week by the Patriots and claimed by the Raiders because Moss is questionable for...

Time Warner, NFL Network near truce (AP)
Time Warner Cable moved closer Wednesday to reaching a truce with the NFL Network over carrying the Texas Bowl game between Rutgers and Kansas State on Dec. 28. Another New York area cable operator, Cablevision, said Tuesday it would carry the Rutgers game after the NFL Network offered both cable companies free carriage for the week of Dec.

Bad Answer?
Allen Iverson may have too many question marks for teams to make a trade and help solve the Sixers' problems.

Suns win 12th straight, beat ailing Heat (AP)
Miami Heat coach Pat Riley has nothing but high praise for Steve Nash, the NBA's two-time reigning MVP. "He may be the best player in the league," Riley said. Riley's opinion was backed up Wednesday night, when Nash hit a 3-pointer with 2:20 left to stop a huge Miami run and help lift the Phoenix Suns to their 12th straight victory, 99-89.

Hall of Famer Paul Arizin dies at 78 (AP)
Paul Arizin, an early pioneer of the jump shot who led the Philadelphia Warriors to the 1956 NBA championship and was chosen one of the 50 greatest NBA players, died Tuesday night at his home in suburban Philadelphia. He was 78. A Hall of Famer who was cut from his high school team, Arizin died in his sleep, according to a statement from Villanova University, where Arizin had an outstanding college...

A.I. still in limbo, Celtics rout 76ers (AP)
The only Answer the Philadelphia 76ers have is on the trading block. The Sixers still can't find one to their losing streak, dropping their ninth straight game, 101-81 to the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night. Paul Pierce and Ryan Gomes each scored 18 points, and Tony Allen had 16 for the Celtics, who won their third straight game on the road and moved to .500 there with wins at New Jersey and New...

Howard, Nowitzki power Mavs past Lakers (AP)
Now that Lamar Odom is hurt, Kobe Bryant is going to need some help -- a lot more than he got Wednesday night. In their first game without Odom since he emerged as a perfect complement to Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers overcame a rough start to make a late run at the Dallas Mavericks, but it wasn't enough to avoid a 110-101 loss.

Williams, Boozer lead Jazz over Clippers (AP)
Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams have provided the upstart Utah Jazz with the NBA's most effective 1-2 punch this season. They were at their best Wednesday night. Williams matched his career high with 28 points and had 14 assists, Boozer had 28 points and 15 rebounds, and the Jazz broke open a close game late in the third quarter to beat the short-handed Los Angeles Clippers 105-86.

Rookie Bargnani helps Raptors end skid (AP)
Andrea Bargnani showed the Orlando Magic exactly why the Toronto Raptors selected him first overall in the NBA draft. The Italian rookie hit five 3-pointers, scored 23 points and had six rebounds to lead the Raptors to a convincing 91-84 victory over the Eastern Conference-leading Magic on Wednesday night.

Kidd's 80th triple-double powers Nets (AP)
Vince Carter and Jason Kidd delivered as usual. The surprise for the New Jersey Nets was the play of their bench and a rare off night by Milwaukee's Michael Redd. Carter scored 36 points, Kidd registered his 80th career triple-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists and three reserves made big fourth-quarter contributions to lead the Nets to a 108-95 victory over the Bucks on Wednesday...

Spurs shut down Wolves in second half (AP)
Gregg Popovich politely asked the San Antonio Spurs to turn up the defensive effort in the second half against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night. They listened to their coach, holding the Timberwolves to a season-low 26 points over the final 24 minutes in a 95-82 victory. "I just asked the guys if it wasn't that much of a problem or an inconvenience if they picked up the pressure and...

Arenas, Wizards roll past Nuggets 120-91 (AP)
Gilbert Arenas and the Washington Wizards love the sort of game they played Wednesday night against Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets. End-to-end. Fast breaks. Score and score and score some more. Anthony prevailed 37-34 over Arenas in the individual matchup, but the rest of the Wizards gave their star a lot more help, and Washington beat Denver 120-91 for its fourth victory in five games.

Ducks edge Thrashers, set NHL road mark (AP)
Teemu Selanne has more than 500 NHL goals, but few have been as easy as his winner on Wednesday night. Selanne scored two goals, including the tiebreaker in the third period, as the Anaheim Ducks beat the Atlanta Thrashers 2-1 and set the NHL mark for best road record through 15 games. About one minute after the Thrashers pulled even at 1-1 in the third period, Selanne skated alone into the slot...

Crosby's six points lead Pens to rout (AP)
Nothing specific about the Philadelphia Flyers sparks Sidney Crosby's game. It just looks that way. Crosby took over the NHL scoring lead with a career-high six points in the Pittsburgh Penguins' 8-4 rout of the Flyers on Wednesday night. The 19-year-old phenom has 29 points in 13 career games against Philadelphia, including 15 in five games this season -- all Penguins victories.

Avalanche hand Blues ninth straight loss (AP)
The Colorado Avalanche needed a period to find their stride. Once they did, there was little the struggling St. Louis Blues and their young goalie could do to stop them. Milan Hejduk and Paul Stastny had a goal and an assist each and the Avalanche beat the Blues 4-1 Wednesday night, sending the slumping Blues to their ninth straight loss "We weren't what we needed to be against a team that can...

Habs win amid concern for Laura Gainey (AP)
Sergei Samsonov ended a 19-game goal drought in style on a night the Montreal Canadiens desperately tried to turn their thoughts back to playing hockey. Samsonov scored twice and David Aebischer made 31 saves, leading Montreal to a 4-3 victory over the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night. Andrei Markov and Guillaume Latendresse also scored for the Canadiens, who have not lost in regulation in four games...

Flames win 10th straight at home (AP)
Jarome Iginla was at his best against Minnesota, and the Wild were no match for the Calgary Flames captain. Iginla had two goals and two assists, tying a career high with four points, and the Flames earned a franchise-record 10th straight home victory by beating the Wild 5-2 Tuesday night. "In the standings, it was a big win, and as far as the streak goes at home, Calgary's had some very good teams...

Bruins rookie Kessel has cancer surgery (AP)
Bruins rookie forward Phil Kessel underwent cancer surgery and is "on the road to recovery," his agent said Tuesday. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli confirmed that the 19-year-old Kessel, the fifth pick in this year's NHL draft, had "cancer-related surgery" and that any further update on his treatment or the length of his absence would come from Kessel's family.

Kings activate Ds Sopel, Tverdovsky (AP)
The Los Angeles Kings activated defensemen Brent Sopel and Oleg Tverdovsky from injured reserve and assigned defenseman Peter Harrold to Manchester of the AHL on Wednesday. Sopel missed 18 games with a foot injury. He has four goals, five assists and four penalty minutes in 14 games this season. Tverdovsky was out 12 games because of a groin injury.

Leafs end seven-game skid, top Lightning (AP)
Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice's tirade during a timeout worked. Darcy Tucker and Jeff O'Neill scored in the third period and Toronto stopped a seven-game skid with a 5-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night. Chad Kilger scored twice and Alex Ponikarovsky also scored for the Maple Leafs, who used their timeout after falling behind 3-1 early in the second.

Blue Jackets win fifth in a row (AP)
Ken Hitchcock has quickly turned the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets into the NHL's hottest team. Rookie goalie Fredrik Norrena stopped 25 shots, and the Blue Jackets stretched their season-high winning streak to five games with a 3-1 victory over the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night. The Blue Jackets are 6-3 since Hitchcock replaced fired coach Gerard Gallant on Nov.

Sabres hold on to beat Devils 3-2 (AP)
Daniel Briere and Buffalo Sabres made the most of rare mistakes by the New Jersey Devils. Briere set up all three Buffalo goals as the Sabres took a comfortable lead and then held on in the final minute for a 3-2 victory over the Devils on Tuesday night. New Jersey, one of the NHL's top defensive teams, twice turned the puck over to Briere in the third period.

Marbles: Don't slow down
There is little rest for the weary NASCAR fan as the circuit rolls through its brief offseason.

Burton signs Nextel Cup deal with Morgan-McClure (AP)
Former Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton landed a full Nextel Cup ride Wednesday, signing a deal to drive the State Industries-sponsored No. 4 Chevrolet for Morgan-McClure Motorsports.

Al Unser Sr. charged with resisting and disobeying police at roadblock (AP)
Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Sr.'s arrest last summer on charges of resisting and disobeying police resulted from confusion, Unser's attorney told a jury Wednesday. Unser is on trial in Metropolitan Court on the misdemeanor charges. Unser was arrested Aug. 9 near his home after authorities cordoned off the road on Albuquerque's Westside that is named after the famous racing family.

Speed to replace Johnson in Race of Champions (AP)
Scott Speed, the only American driver in Formula One, was tabbed Wednesday to replace NASCAR star Jimmie Johnson on Team USA's entry in the Race of Champions Nations Cup in Paris. Johnson had to withdraw from the race after breaking his wrist over the weekend in a fall from a golf cart. Indy Racing League champion Sam Hornish Jr.

Florida D.A. says no special treatment given to NASCAR chief after erratic driving complaint (AP)
Police officers who responded to NASCAR chairman Brian France's condominium in response to a report of an erratic driver did not give him special treatment, a prosecutor said.

Gordon, supermodel wife expecting child in July (SportsTicker)
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Ticker) - NASCAR superstar Jeff Gordon's Chevrolet Monte Carlo seats one. His every-day ride is going to need a car seat.

Hornish won't replace Johnson in Race of Champions (AP)
Sam Hornish Jr. declined an invitation to replace Jimmie Johnson on Team USA's entry in the Race of Champions Nations Cup in Paris. Hornish, the Indy Racing League champion, was contacted by Team USA officials after Johnson broke his wrist in a fall from a golf cart during a celebrity tournament last weekend.

NASCAR champ horsing around when hurt (AP)
Jimmie Johnson was ``horsing around'' on top of a moving golf cart when he fell off and broke his left wrist, his team told The Associated Press on Monday.

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