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MLB

Braves dive in for B.J. Upton, make the first big splash

NEW YORK – B.J. Upton is on his way to Atlanta, while Andy Pettitte is staying in pinstripes.

With the winter meetings only days away, baseball’s offseason began to heat up Wednesday with a pair of moves involving potential closers: Ryan Madson joined the Angels, and Jonathan Broxton remained with the Reds. Hours later, the Braves made big news.

Looking for a new center fielder and some right-handed pop, Atlanta found both in Upton, who had 28 homers and 31 steals for Tampa Bay last season. The fleet-footed free agent agreed to a $75.25-million, five-year contract, a deal finalized Thursday.

Upton’s deal is the biggest free-agent contract of the offseason so far and the largest in Braves history.

Pettitte, meanwhile, will return for another season with the New York Yankees. Feeling strong at age 40, the veteran lefty completed a one-year deal worth $12 million. Mariano Rivera reportedly signed a one-year deal worth $10 million.

NHL

Federal mediation fails to bring two sides any closer

Date: Thursday, Nov. 29.

Day: 75.

Last Negotiations: Thursday, Nov. 29, with federal mediators in New Jersey.

Next Negotiations: No negotiations have been scheduled.

Games Lost: 423 (all games through Dec. 14, plus the New Year’s Day Winter Classic and All-Star weekend).

Communication breakdown: A second consecutive day of meetings between the NHL, the players’ association, and federal mediators ended without any progress Thursday.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement “the presiding mediators concluded that the parties remained far apart, and that no progress toward a resolution could be made through further mediation at this point.”

No further meetings have been scheduled, but NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman offered the union a meeting of just owners and players – without any leaders from the league or players’ association. The union was mulling the proposal but hasn’t gotten back to the NHL with an answer yet.

What We Missed: An 11-game schedule was wiped out, including a visit by the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings to Detroit to take on the Red Wings. Detroit, an Original Six team, has the third-most Cup titles with 11, trailing only Montreal (23) and Toronto (13). Los Angeles, which entered the NHL in 1967, earned its first last season.

Soccer

Earthquakes’ Wondolowski wins the MLS MVP award

NEW YORK – San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski was voted Major League Soccer’s MVP on Thursday after scoring 27 goals to tie the season record set by Tampa Bay’s Roy Lassiter in 1996.

The 29-year-old received 91 percent of MLS club management votes, 97 percent of media votes and 71 percent of player votes for a combined 259 percent.

Thierry Henry of New York Red Bulls was runner-up with a combined 14 percent, and Graham Zusi of Sporting Kansas City was third with 7 percent.

In other awards Wednesday:

Jimmy Nielsen, Sporting Kansas City, Goalie of the Year.

Federico Higuain, Columbus Crew, Newcomer of the Year.

Tennis

Two majors, Olympic gold: Serena is Player of the Year

LONDON – Serena Williams was named the WTA’s Player of the Year after winning major titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open – and claiming gold at the London Olympics.

Williams, who has won 15 Grand Slam singles titles and four Olympic gold medals, was 48-2 over the final seven months of the season.

It is the fourth time Williams has won the award, which is voted on by international tennis media. She also was named Player of the Year in 2002, 2008 and 2009. Only Steffi Graf (8) and Martina Navratilova (7) have won the award more than Williams.

Associated Press

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