Messi, Rapinoe win Ballon d’Or awards
After becoming the first six-time winner of the Ballon d’Or, Lionel Messi said he’s far from finished.
“I hope to continue for a long time,” Messi said on Monday in Paris from behind a row of the trophies which honor the world’s best soccer player.
“I realize that I am very lucky, even if, one day, retirement will come. It will be difficult. But I still have a lot of good years ahead of me. Time goes by very quickly, so I want to enjoy football and my family.”
While the 32-year-old Messi won his sixth Ballon d’Or, United States captain Megan Rapinoe won her first.
“I can’t believe I’m the one winning in this field, it’s been an incredible year,” Rapinoe said in a recorded video message during the ceremony at the lavish Theatre du Chatelet.
Messi has received the Ballon d’Or previously in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2015.
MLB’s Treinen, Sanchez, Russell are free agents
NEW YORK — Former All-Stars Blake Treinen, Aaron Sanchez and Addison Russell were among 56 players who became free agents along with current Gold Glove second baseman Yolmer Sánchez when their teams declined to offer 2020 contracts Monday rather than make them eligible for salary arbitration.
Baltimore, faced with a similar decision, traded second baseman Jonathan Villar to Miami, which claimed first baseman Jesús Aguilar off waivers from Tampa Bay.
One big-name free agent found a home: All-Star infielder Mike Moustakas and the Cincinnati Reds agreed to a $64 million, four-year contract, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement had not been announced.
For the second straight offseason, the Reds are making a splash as they try to shake themselves out of a rut of six straight losing seasons. Their first move involves getting a player from NL Central rival Milwaukee. The 31-year-old Moustakas could fill a hole at second base that opened when Scooter Gennett got hurt and then was traded last season.
Washington’s Chris Petersen resigns
SEATTLE — Washington football coach Chris Petersen has unexpectedly stepped down after six seasons at the school, with defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake promoted to run the program.
Petersen’s decision was shocking coming off a season where the Huskies went 7-5 in the regular season and are bound for a sixth straight bowl game under his leadership. Petersen will coach the Huskies in the bowl game, his final game in charge of the program he helped grow back into national prominence during his tenure.
The school said Petersen, 55, will transition into a “leadership advisory role” within the athletic department. Petersen has been one of college football’s most successful coaches over the last two decades, going 146-38 combined during his time at Boise State and Washington. During six seasons at Washington, Petersen has a 54-26 record, won two Pac-12 titles and took the Huskies to three New Year’s Six bowl games, including an appearance in the national semifinals in 2016 and last year the school’s first Rose Bowl trip since the 2000 season.
Petersen was also unbeaten against rival Washington State.
In a statement, Petersen says he’ll be a “Husky for life, but now is the right time for me to step away from my head coaching duties, and recharge.”
“It has been a privilege and a professional dream fulfilled to be part of this world-class institution,” Petersen said. “I will forever be grateful, honored and humbled to have had the opportunity to coach our fine young men on Montlake for these past six seasons. I thank each of them, as well as our coaches and administrative staff for the incredible commitment they’ve made to Husky football during my tenure.”
Petersen spent was finally persuaded to leave Boise State in 2013 after growing the Broncos into a national powerhouse over eight seasons. He was Washington’s chosen successor to Steve Sarkisian, drawn to the school by the history of the program and the opportunity to test himself on a bigger stage — while not leaving the comfort of a region he had spent most of his professional career.
Within three seasons, Petersen had Washington playing Alabama in the Peach Bowl for the right to play for the national title. While the Huskies fell short that day, it was a major accomplishment for a program that less than a decade earlier had gone through an 0-12 season.
Washington was expected to be a contender in the Pac-12 again this year, but struggles to replace the loss of several key players on defense and an inconsistent offense led to a subpar campaign. The Huskies’ 31-13 win over Washington State last Friday turned out to be Petersen’s last home game.
“Chris has been transformational for not only our football program, but our entire athletic department,” athletic director Jen Cohen said. “It has been such a privilege to watch how he has been so committed to the development of our young men, not just on the field, but more importantly off. I can’t thank him enough for his service and leadership, and I look forward to having him stay on staff in a leadership advisory role, so he can continue to impact individuals across our department and the entire campus.”
Lake, 42, has turned down several other coaching opportunities in recent years and has seemed to be the successor to Petersen whenever he did decide to step away from coaching.
Lake’s contract covers five seasons and starts at $3 million, escalating to $3.4 million for the 2024 season, according to a memorandum of understanding from the school.
“I’ve been dreaming of this opportunity for as long as I can remember and I can’t think of a better place to do it than in the world-class city of Seattle and at such a prestigious university with a rich football tradition,” Lake said. “This wouldn’t be possible without the mentorship of Coach Petersen and I would like to thank him for everything he has done for me, as well as Jen Cohen for entrusting me with this opportunity.”
Murder charge announced in death of fighters’ stepdaughter
AUBURN, Ala. — Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty against a man being charged with capital murder in the shooting death of the stepdaughter of a well-known UFC fighter, authorities announced Monday.
Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes said at a news conference that the capital murder charge is being filed against 29-year-old Ibraheem Yazeed in the death of Aniah Blanchard, a 19-year-old Alabama college student and stepdaughter of UFC fighter Walt Harris.
Yazeed was already being held without bond on a kidnapping charge in the woman’s disappearance. Prosecutors said the charges are being upgraded after Blanchard’s remains were discovered in a wooded area and positively identified.
The medical examiner determined Blanchard had died from a gunshot wound, Hughes said in announcing plans by his office to pursue the death penalty against Yazeed.
Blanchard was last seen Oct. 23 in Auburn, Alabama, at a gas station in Auburn, Alabama. Her black Honda CRV was found abandoned days later more than 50 miles (90 kilometers) away at an apartment complex in Montgomery. Police said her blood was found in the car.
“This case has absolutely shaken our community to its core,” Hughes said.
Hughes said investigators believe Yazeed is the lone person responsible” for Blanchard’s death and abduction.
Two other people have been charged with hindering the investigator or helping Yazeed dispose of evidence. Hughes declined to discuss those cases Monday.
A judge has issued a gag order in the case to limit attorney comments to the media. An attorney who represented Yazeed in the existing kidnapping case did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment on the upgraded charges.