Around the Nation (Dec. 26): Indians broadcaster Hegan dies at 71

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BASEBALL

Longtime Indians broadcaster Mike Hegan dies at 71

CLEVELAND -- Mike Hegan, a former major league player who was a longtime broadcaster with the Cleveland Indians, has died. He was 71.

The Indians say Hegan had his family by his side when he died Wednesday morning in Hilton Head, S.C. No other details were provided by the team.

Hegan was a radio and TV broadcaster for the Indians for 23 years. He retired after the 2011 season. He also spent 12 seasons as a broadcaster with the Milwaukee Brewers.

The son of former Indians catcher Jim Hegan made the AL All-Star team with the Seattle Pilots in 1969 and helped the Oakland Athletics win the 1972 World Series. He also played in the 1964 World Series with the New York Yankees.

Hegan hit .242 with 53 homers and 229 RBIs in 965 career games with three organizations, getting most of his time at first base and in the outfield.

Posting period for Tanaka starts

NEW YORK -- The bidding for Japanese star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka has begun.

All 30 major league teams have been notified that the 30-day period to sign the star 25-year-old right-hander began at 8 a.m. EST Thursday, according to Major League Baseball spokesman Michael Teevan. Clubs have until 5 p.m. on Jan. 24 to attempt to reach an agreement with the ace.

If Tanaka and a major league team come to terms, that franchise is required to pay his Japanese club, the Rakuten Eagles, a posting fee, now capped at $20 million under the new deal between MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball.

Tanaka went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA with the Eagles during the regular season.

He will be represented by Excel Sports Management during the process.

BASKETBALL

LeBron named AP's top male athlete

MIAMI -- LeBron James of the Miami Heat is The Associated Press' 2013 Male Athlete of the Year, becoming the third basketball player to capture the award in its 83-year history.

James received 31 of the 96 votes cast in a polling of news organizations. Peyton Manning got 20 votes to finish second; Jimmie Johnson was third with seven. In all, 15 other athletes received at least one vote.

James joins Michael Jordan and Larry Bird as NBA players to win the award. Jordan won in 1991, 1992 and 1993. Bird won in 1986.

James led the Heat to their second straight NBA championship in 2013, winning his fourth MVP award and second NBA Finals MVP along the way.

Serena Williams was this year's Female Athlete of the Year, announced Wednesday.

NBA: Griffin should not have been ejected

NEW YORK -- The NBA said Thursday that its referees made a mistake when they ejected Los Angeles forward Blake Griffin in the Clippers' 105-103 loss at Golden State on Wednesday night.

Griffin was ejected for his second technical with 10:43 remaining after scuffling with Andrew Bogut, following Warriors forward Draymond Green to the showers after they got into it at the end of the third.

Rod Thorn, the NBA's president of basketball operations, said: "After a league review of the Clippers-Warriors game, we have come to the conclusion that Blake Griffin should not have been ejected from the game.

A common foul should have been called on Griffin for initially attempting to dislodge the Warriors' Andrew Bogut and a technical foul should have been assessed to Bogut for grabbing Griffin by the shirt and wrestling with him."

Golden State's Green fined $15,000

NEW YORK -- Golden State forward Draymond Green was fined $15,000 by the NBA on Thursday for failing to leave the court in a timely manner after his ejection Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Green was ejected late in the third quarter of the Warriors' 105-103 home victory.

ICE HOCKEY

Blue Jackets sign RW Bjorkstrand

COLUMBUS -- The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed right wing Oliver Bjorkstrand of the Western Hockey League's Portland Winterhawks to a three-year, entry-level contract.

Bjorkstrand was the club's fifth pick, 89th overall, in the 2013 NHL Draft.

The 6-foot, 169-pounder has 25 goals and 31 assists and a plus-21 plus-minus rating in 32 games this season, helping Portland amass the WHL's second-best record at 23-8-2-2. He's currently tied for third in the league in short-handed goals (3), fourth in goals and points, tied for seventh in game-winning goals (4) and eighth in assists and plus/minus.

Bjorkstrand has 56 goals and 63 assists and a +59 plus/minus rating in 97 career WHL games.

COLLEGE

Clowney pulled over again for speeding

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has been pulled over again for going at least 25 mph over the speed limit.

Clowney was stopped around 10:30 a.m. Thursday going 84 mph in a 55 mph zone on Interstate 26 near Interstate 126, about 5 miles from the Gamecocks' campus, Columbia Police said..

The traffic stop happened about an hour before the Gamecocks flew to Florida for the Jan. 1 Capital One Bowl against Wisconsin. The game will be the junior's last for the Gamecocks as he leaves school early for the NFL Draft.

It's Clowney's second ticket in three weeks. On Dec. 7, state troopers say Clowney was going 110 mph in a 70 mph zone.

South Carolina's Steve Spurrier was asked about Clowney's latest ticket after the team landed in Orlando, and the coach did not sound too concerned.

FOOTBALL

Seahawks punt strategy on verge of NFL record

RENTON, Wash. -- For most of his career, Jon Ryan's task was to change field position with booming punts.

And then the Seattle Seahawks decided they wanted to change their punting approach. They wanted Ryan to pull back and use hang time and directional punting to take away the danger of giving up long returns.

The Seahawks have been exceptional with achieving their goal this season. Entering the season finale against St. Louis, the Seahawks have allowed only 25 punt return yards on 16 returns this season. They're on pace to set an NFL record for fewest return yards allowed in a 16-game season.

Kitna to donate Dallas salary to HS

IRVING, Texas -- Jon Kitna will earn $53,000 to serve as the Cowboys' third-string quarterback for one week -- and he plans to donate that money to the Seattle-area high school where he's now a coach.

Kitna told The Dallas Morning News (http://dallasne.ws/1aaJ38v ) of his plans Wednesday.

The 41-year-old Kitna was running the scout team at Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Wash., when he heard about Cowboys starter Tony Romo's injury. He'll suit up Sunday as the backup to Kyle Orton if Romo can't play.

Kitna retired after the 2011 season, his 15th in the league. He says he sent a text message to Cowboys coach Jason Garrett on Tuesday and told him he could play this week if needed.

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