Sports

Bonds' ball to be branded

NEW YORK -- The ball Barry Bonds hit for his record-breaking 756th home run will be branded with an asterisk and sent to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Fashion designer Marc Ecko, who bought the ball in an online auction, set up a Web site for fans to vote on the ball's fate, and Wednesday announced the decision to brand it won out over the other options -- sending it to Cooperstown unblemished or launching it into space.

Ecko said he believed the vote to brand the ball showed people thought "this was shrouded in a chapter of baseball history that wasn't necessarily the clearest it could be."

Ecko, whom Bonds called "an idiot" last week, had the winning bid Sept. 15 in the online auction for the ball that Bonds hit Aug. 7 to break Hank Aaron's record of 755 home runs. The final selling price was $752,467, well above most predictions that assumed Bonds' status as a lightning rod for the steroids debate in baseball would depress the value.

The asterisk suggests that Bonds' record is tainted by alleged steroid use. The slugger has denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs. Fans brought signs with asterisks on them to ballparks as he neared Aaron's hallowed mark.

• Umpire Mike Winters was suspended by Major League Baseball for the remainder of the regular season because of his confrontation with San Diego's Milton Bradley last weekend.

The Padres claimed Winters baited Bradley, who has a history of losing his temper. Bradley tore a knee ligament when his manager spun him to the ground while trying to keep him from going after the umpire during a 7-3 loss to Colorado in San Diego.

Winters was suspended because the commissioner's office concluded he had used a profanity aimed at Bradley, a baseball official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the reasoning for the suspension was not announced.

Trouble began when plate umpire Brian Runge asked Bradley if he had flipped his bat in the ump's direction after taking a called third strike that ended the fifth inning. Runge indicated that Winters told him that Bradley had.

The dispute escalated after Bradley singled, then asked Winters if he told Runge he threw his bat.

First base coach Bobby Meacham and Black said Winters used profanity. Bradley called it "the most unprofessional and most ridiculous thing I've ever seen."

"It's terrible. And now, because of him, my knee's hurt," he said after the game. "If this costs me my season because of that, he needs to be reprimanded. I'm taking some action. I'm not going to stand pat and accept this because I didn't do nothing wrong."

• NBA -- Phoenix forward Shawn Marion, the team's highest-paid player and a four-time All-Star, says he wants to be traded after eight years with the club.

Marion said he decided to ask to leave because the team considered trading him over the summer and won't talk about a contract extension.

Marion told The Arizona Republic that he had informed the team of his desires and has struggled with the decision

• COLLEGE BASKETBALL -- Corey Beck, a starting guard on Arkansas' national championship team, was listed in fair condition at a hospital, recovering from wounds after being shot during an attempted robbery.

• Tennessee forward Duke Crews, who started 18 games as a freshman last season, has been suspended indefinitely for violating team rules, coach Bruce Pearl said.

Pearl didn't elaborate on the violation.

A sophomore from Hampton, Va., Crews averaged 8.4 points and 5.1 rebounds.

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