National Sports Digest
Published 12:00 am Monday, July 4, 2011
MONTREAL ó Michael Phelps stole the show again, handily winning the 100-meter butterfly at the Canada Cup.
He didnít come close to beating his own world record, but he led from wire to wire and won in 51.32 seconds.
Phelps won his only other event at the Olympic Pool, the 200-meter freestyle, on Saturday, though he knows he has room for improvement at that distance.
The three-day meet was billed as a tuneup for the World Aquatic Championships beginning July 16 in Shanghai, which itself is a test leading into the 2012 Olympics in London.
MINNEAPOLIS ó While NFL owners and players appear to be inching toward a resolution of the league’s long lockout, a group of retired players is clamoring to be more involved in the discussions.
The group filed a class-action complaint against the owners and current players in federal court Monday, saying they have been excluded from the mediation sessions taking place in an attempt to end the lockout.
Named plaintiffs including Hall of Famers Carl Eller, Franco Harris, Marcus Allen and Paul Krause are asking U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson to put a halt to the mediation she ordered and declare that the current players cannot negotiate on behalf of those who are retired.
Owners and current players have met five times over the last few weeks as they work to put together a new collective bargaining agreement in time to avoid the loss of training camps and games. They met with U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur J. Boylan in Minneapolis last week, including for more than 15 hours on Thursday, and will resume meetings on Tuesday in New York.
The retired players say that NFL owners, the NFL Players’ Association and a group of current players including star quarterbacks Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are “conspiring to depress the amounts of pension and disability benefits to be paid to former NFL players in order to maximize the salaries and benefits to current NFL players.”
NEW YORK ó Wimbledon is leaving NBC after 43 years and appears headed to ESPN.
NBC said in a statement Sunday that ěwhile we would have liked to have continued our relationship, we were simply outbid.î
A person with knowledge of the negotiations confirmed that ESPN was working on a contract with the All England Club to televise all of the Grand Slam tournament. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was not ready to be announced.
The switch was first reported by SportsBusiness Journal.
ESPN had owned the rights to extensively televise early rounds of Wimbledon, with NBC picking up coverage as the tournament progressed, culminating with the ěBreakfast at Wimbledonî broadcasts of the finals.
BELGRADE, Serbia ó Novak Djokovic received an adoring welcome in Serbia on Monday after his championship at Wimbledon and on his first day as the world’s top-ranked tennis player.
Tens of thousands of fans chanted Djokovic’s nickname, “Nole, Nole,” as they gathered in front of the national assembly building in downtown Belgrade at a boisterous welcoming ceremony.
“You made this day the best day of my life,” Djokovic told the screaming crowd of mostly young people as he held a replica of the Wimbledon trophy that is given to the winners to keep.
HAMBURG, Germany ó British fighter David Haye is finding no sympathy after blaming a broken toe for his points loss to Wladimir Klitschko in a heavyweight unification fight.
Even British boxing experts say Haye should have either withdrawn from the fight or kept quiet about the injury he said he had sustained in training three weeks before Saturdayís fight.
Boxing promoter Frank Warren calls Haye a ěcrybabyî and former heavyweight champion Frank Bruno says he shouldnít have fought with a broken toe.
AUBURN, Ala. ó The ailing oaks at Toomer’s Corner are a mottled mix of yellow and brown these days, but experts say there’s still a chance the trees will be in good enough shape for Auburn football fans to roll them with toilet paper after wins this fall.
It’s been about five months since school officials confirmed that the famous trees had been poisoned, and a fan of archrival Alabama is now awaiting trial in the attack. Emergency procedures that included removing poisoned dirt around the trees’ roots have helped them survive this long.
Auburn University horticulturist Gary Keever said no one is sure yet whether the trees will live or die. Fans have celebrated wins under the trees since at least the early 1970s.
REDON, France — Tyler Farrar became the first American to win a Tour de France stage on July 4, dominating a sprint finish in the third leg Monday as teammate Thor Hushovd of Norway kept the yellow jersey.
It was the first Tour stage victory for Farrar, one of the world’s best sprinters, and showcased the dominance of the Garmin-Cervelo team over the past two days at cycling’s biggest race.
ST. LOUIS ó Albert Pujols could be back in the St. Louis Cardinals’ lineup as early as Tuesday night, beating the initial timetable for his return from a broken left wrist by a month.
After taking indoor batting practice and fielding grounders outside on Monday, Pujols said there was no pain and added that he felt great. He’s scheduled to be examined by team physician Dr. George Paletta on Tuesday morning.
“I can’t wait to get back on the field,” Pujols said.