Sports Briefs

Posted: Wednesday, February 06, 2002

Astros want out of Enron naming rights deal

HOUSTON -- The Houston Astros don't want the name ''Enron Field'' atop their 2-year-old ballpark.

''Thousands of people who have been adversely affected by the Enron collapse are being reminded on a daily basis of this continuing tragedy,'' attorneys for Astros owner Drayton McLane wrote in a motion filed Tuesday with the New York court overseeing Enron's bankruptcy.

The team wants the bankruptcy court to force Enron to make a decision on whether to honor the 30-year, $100 million naming rights agreement signed in 1999. The former energy giant's next payment for Enron Field's naming rights is due Aug. 31. The Astros say it isn't realistic to expect Enron to be able to make the $3.7 million payment.

''The Enron logo displayed on the Stadium wrongly suggests to the public that the Astros are associated with the alleged bad business practices of Enron,'' the motion states. ''As it stands, the Houston Astros arguably are viewed as Enron's team.''

Enron, considered the nation's seventh-largest company in 2000, wilted late last year as investor confidence vanished amid wave of questions over the energy trader's accounting practices.

According to the Astros' motion, the team has requested that Enron allow it to move forward with a new naming rights agreement with a third party, but Enron has refused.

Baseball postpones contraction until 2003

NEW YORK -- Unable to eliminate teams this season, Bud Selig sounded a familiar baseball cry Tuesday: Wait 'til next year!

Stung by a streak of legal losses, the commissioner backed down from folding the Minnesota Twins and Montreal Expos this season but vowed to shrink the major leagues by 2003.

The Minnesota Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear an appeal to lift the injunction that forces the Twins to honor their 2002 lease at the Metrodome.

''I couldn't really rest in peace. Now I can,'' Twins outfielder Torii Hunter said. ''It's the front office people who needed to know in case they had to find other jobs. And the beer vendors and other workers. It's sad that they could lose their jobs.''

Owners voted Nov. 6 to eliminate two teams but did not specify which ones. Their labor negotiators later told the players' association the Twins and Expos were targeted.

Dolphins hire Turner as offensive coordinator

DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt turned to an old friend Tuesday, hiring former Washington coach Norv Turner as offensive coordinator and assistant head coach.

Wannstedt and Turner were assistants on the Dallas Cowboys' 1992 Super Bowl championship team, and also worked together at Southern California in 1983-84.

''Norv's reputation speaks for itself,'' Wannstedt said. ''Everybody wants to be associated with championships and with the best. There is no question, from being a head coach in the NFL, to being a coordinator on a couple of Super Bowl teams. To being a great communicator of players, a great offensive mind. He is someone I can trust.''

Turner, 49, replaces Chan Gailey, who spent two seasons as Miami's offensive coordinator before accepting the head coaching job at Georgia Tech.

Turner joins Miami after one season as San Diego's offensive coordinator. From 1994-00, Turner was the head coach of the Washington Redskins.

In Miami, he will try to improve an injury-plagued offense that rated 21st overall and 23rd in rushing. Still, Miami made the playoffs as a wild card with an 11-5 record.

Law, three others added to Pro Bowl

NEW YORK -- Wide receiver Isaac Bruce and tackle Orlando Pace, both of the St. Louis Rams, withdrew from the Pro Bowl on Tuesday because of injuries.

Bruce was originally replaced by Joe Horn of the New Orleans Saints. But Horn also could not play, and the spot went to the Rams' Torry Holt. Pace's place went to Tra Thomas of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Also added Tuesday was cornerback Champ Bailey of the Washington Redskins, replacing Troy Vincent of Philadelphia, who is out with a hamstring problem.

New England Patriots cornerback Ty Law, who returned an interception for a touchdown in the Super Bowl against St. Louis, will replace Oakland's Charles Woodson, who is nursing a toe injury.

Other late additions were quarterback Donovan McNabb and tight end Chad Lewis, both of the Eagles, and linebacker Al Wilson of Denver.

McNabb was added to the NFC roster in place of Green Bay's Brett Favre, who will miss the game because of stomach and back injuries. Wilson replaces Miami's Zach Thomas, out with a neck and shoulder injury. Lewis was added as a ''need'' player -- coaches can add a player to the Pro Bowl roster even if he doesn't replace someone.

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