Originally created 11/12/06

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Baseball

Bidding is over on Japanese infielder

Bidding closed on third baseman Akinori Iwamura, and his Japanese team has until Thursday to accept the highest offer.

Major league teams had until Friday to submit offers for the 27-year-old, a five-time Gold Glove winner who played for Japan's World Baseball Classic championship team in March.

If the Yakult Swallow of Japan's Central League accept the offer, the winning major league team has 30 days to negotiate a contract.

Iwamura hit .311 with 32 homers and 77 RBI this year. He has a .300 career average with 188 homers and 570 RBI.

Also, the Seibu Lions of the Pacific League have until Tuesday to accept the highest bid for pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. The identities of teams that make high bids are revealed only if their offers are accepted.

Buddy Kerr, an All-Star shortstop who in the 1940s played 68 consecutive games without an error, has died. He was 84.

Kerr died Tuesday after a short illness at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital, the New York Mets said. Kerr worked for the Mets from 1975-1996 as a special assignment scout.

"Buddy's loyalty and dedication to the Mets were unmatched. He was a true gentleman," Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Jeff Wilpon said in a statement.

Goodbye, Shea Stadium; hello, CitiField.

The Mets and Citigroup Inc. have agreed on a 20-year sponsorship deal for the team's new ballpark that is worth more than an average of $20 million annually and includes stadium naming rights, a baseball official said Saturday.

The source spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal will not be announced until Monday at the formal groundbreaking.

This will be a record for U.S stadium naming rights, topping the approximately $10 million annually the NFL's Houston Texans receive from Reliant Energy to call their home Reliant Stadium.

The agreement between the Mets and the financial services company includes options for both the team and Citigroup that could extend the deal to 35 years. Other commercial arrangements are part of the contract, the official said.

Construction on the ballpark - next to the current stadium in Queens - began last summer and is scheduled to be ready for the 2009 season.

The Mets have played at Shea Stadium since 1964, the team's third year of existence. The ballpark is named for William A. Shea, a lawyer who helped bring National League baseball back to New York.

Monday's announcement will take place at a ceremony to be attended by Gov. George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Soccer

MLS can now sign high-profile players

Major League Soccer teams will be allowed to sign high-profile players such as David Beckham, Ronaldo or Luis Figo after club owners approved a change to salary-cap regulations.

The "Beckham Rule" will give MLS teams the authority to acquire players outside the $2 million-per-team salary cap, which will be "significantly" increased to accommodate the new policy, MLS deputy commissioner Ivan Gazidis said.

MLS, which for 11 years has paid all players out of a central fund, will be responsible for up to $400,000 of the player's salary, but the rest will paid for by the team.

Each team initially will receive one "designated player" roster slot, which can be traded among teams. No team, however, will be allowed more than two designated players.

Horse Racing

Arbuckle Bandit wins race by head

In Louisville, Ky., Arbuckle Bandit edged Storm Treasure by a head in the $150,000 Commonwealth Turf at Churchill Downs.

The win was Arbuckle Bandit's fourth in eight starts this year and pushed the 3-year-old gelding's career earnings to $218,158.

Storm Treasure returned $5.40 and $3.60, and Kingship paid $4.20 to show.