Yankees slapped with $27 million luxury tax

The New York Yankees not only failed to make the playoffs, they were hit with their highest luxury tax in three years.

The Yankees were assessed a $26.9 million tax by the commissioner’s office on Monday, up from $23.9 million last year and their biggest bill since paying nearly $34 million for 2005.

The Detroit Tigers, who also failed to qualify for the postseason, are the only other team that must pay tax and owe $1.3 million to the commissioner’s office.

Checks are due by Jan. 31.

Both teams got little for what they spent. The Yankees’ streak of 13 consecutive playoff appearances ended, and they finished third in the American League East at 89-73, prompting them to spend nearly a quarter-billion dollars to sign pitchers CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett.

Detroit entered the year with lofty expectations after acquiring Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis but went 74-88 and finished last in the AL Central.

Also: Pitcher Chien-Ming Wang and the Yankees avoided salary arbitration by agreeing on a $5 million, one-year deal.

The 28-year-old right-hander was 8-2 with a 4.07 ERA in 15 starts last season before injuring a foot while running the bases at Houston in mid-June. He did not return.

Wang made $4 million last season after losing in salary arbitration. He had asked for $4.6 million.

Rafael Furcal denies he reneged on a deal with the Atlanta Braves before agreeing to a contract last week with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“We never gave the nod to the Braves,” he said after arriving to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic.

Braves president John Schuerholz and general manager Frank Wren were quoted in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as saying Furcal’s agent asked the Braves to send a signed letter of agreement, then reached a deal with the Dodgers.

“That is not true,” Furcal said. “We never, not my agents nor me, agreed to anything with the Braves.”

Catcher Ryan Doumit and the Pittsburgh Pirates agreed to an $11.5 million, three-year contract that includes a club option that could make the deal worth $26.5 million over five seasons.

Doumit reached the deal less than a year after becoming the Pirates’ starting catcher. He hit .318 with 15 home runs and 69 RBIs in 431 at-bats after beating out former starter Ronny Paulino early in the season.

Starting pitcher Daniel Cabrera and the Washington Nationals reached a preliminary agreement on a one-year contract, pending a physical that his agent said is slated for next week.

Cabrera went 8-10 with a 5.25 ERA in 30 starts last season for the Baltimore Orioles, who declined to offer the right-hander a contract for 2009, making him a free agent.

A California appeals court has ruled against the city of Anaheim in its battle to restore the name Anaheim Angels to its major league baseball team.

The 4th District Court of Appeal ruled late last Friday against the city, which claimed that team owner Arte Moreno violated the city-owned stadium lease agreement when he changed the name to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.


Men’s basketball poll welcomes old faces

The top four teams in The Associated Press college basketball poll held their places from last week. The bottom of the Top 25, however, had three new, but familiar, teams.

North Carolina was again a unanimous No. 1 as it has been since the preseason poll. Connecticut, Pittsburgh and Oklahoma stayed second through fourth.

But Minnesota moved in at No. 23, the Gophers’ first appearance in the poll since 2002. No. 24 Michigan was ranked for the first time since 2006. No. 25 Missouri was in the Top 25 for the first time since 2003.

Davidson, Memphis and Marquette dropped out of the poll. They were ranked 22nd through 24th and all lost to another ranked team last week. Memphis had been ranked every week since the preseason poll of 2005-06.

Also: South Dakota State is stepping into the national spotlight of women’s college basketball.

The Jackrabbits earned the first ranking in school history when they came into The Associated Press poll at No. 25.

UConn was No. 1 for the 113th time in school history, matching Tennessee as the all-time leader of appearances atop the poll.

South Dakota State (12-1), became the first school from the Summit League (formerly the Mid-Continent Conference) to be ranked since Northern Illinois was 25th in the final poll in 1993.

Brigham Young postponed tonight’s home game against Western Oregon because of a snowstorm in Oregon that made it impossible for the Wolves to travel.

BYU said the game will be played on Tuesday, Jan. 6.

Columbus Blue Jackets center Derick Brassard, who is leading all NHL rookies in points with 35, will miss the rest of the season after suffering a dislocated shoulder that will require surgery.

Brassard was injured during a game Thursday in Dallas.

Despite leading the ECHL’s Pacific Division, the Fresno Falcons minor league ice hockey team ceased operations because of declining revenue.

Managing general partner Chris Cummings said the “horrific economy” that resulted in fewer season ticket sales and corporate sponsorships made it impossible for the Double-A club to continue.

Just a month removed from his first NASCAR championship, but hampered by the current economic crisis, owner Bill Davis has sold his race team and engine company.

Mike Held, a California businessman, and Marty Gaunt, vice president at Bill Davis Racing, bought out the veteran owner.

Davis, who has been in NASCAR for more than 20 years, won his first championship this season with Johnny Benson in the Truck Series. He also won the Daytona 500 with Ward Burton in 2002.

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