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Pro Football

ST. LOUIS — Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh is blaming others for being dropped from the group trying to buy the St. Louis Rams.

On his syndicated show today, Limbaugh said he was approached by St. Louis Blues chairman Dave Checketts earlier this year about participating in a Rams bid.

He also said Checketts assured him his involvement as a minority investor had been vetted by the National Football League.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Colts owner Jim Irsay both expressed misgivings this week about Limbaugh's involvement. Late Wednesday, Checketts said Limbaugh had been dropped from the bid.

Limbaugh says he believes he has been made an example by a players' union seeking leverage in talks over a new collective bargaining agreement. And he says he believes what happened to him was an illustration of "Obama's America on full display."

Baseball

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Slugger Albert Pujols says the St. Louis Cardinals are interested in extending his contract during the winter.

Pujols told a Dominican radio station on Wednesday that he is in no rush to make a decision. He still has a year left on his contract for 2010 and a club option for 2011.

Pujols signed a seven-year contract in 2003 worth $100 million, but says money is not a priority for his next contract. He says he prefers to play for a competitive team that can advance to the postseason.

The 29-year-old hit .327 with 47 home runs and 135 RBIs this season for the Cardinals. He is in the running to be named the National League's most valuable player.

NEW YORK — Mets shortstop Jose Reyes is expected to be ready for spring training following surgery on his injured right leg.

Reyes, who didn't play after May 20, had surgery today in Dallas at North Central Surgical Center. The procedure cleaned scar tissue from the torn hamstring tendon behind the knee.

New York said Reyes will start his rehab shortly and can resume baseball activities "soon after the new year."

He hit .279 with two homers, 15 RBIs and 11 steals in 36 games. The absence of Reyes, Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran for long stretches sent the Mets plummeting to a 70-92 record and fourth-place finish in the NL East.

Pro Basketball

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Larry Brown became the first major target in the NBA's zero-tolerance policy toward criticizing its replacement referees.

The Bobcats coach was hit with $60,000 in fines and the Charlotte organization was fined another $60,000 after Brown's ejection from an exhibition game.

Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins was also fined $25,000 for criticism after a game Monday, as the league attempts to protect its inexperienced officials while it locks out its regular referees in a labor dispute.

College Basketball

LOS ANGELES — Former UCLA basketball coach and Hall of Famer John Wooden celebrated his 99th birthday.

Wooden is confined to a wheelchair after a series of minor health setbacks in recent years.

One of his last public appearances came in July when he gathered with current Bruins coach Ben Howland and several of his former players at a luncheon celebrating Wooden's recognition by a national magazine as the greatest coach in American sports history.

Wooden, whose wife Nell died in 1985, is looked after by his daughter, son, several grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

He won a record 10 national championships at UCLA, including seven in a row.

Auto Racing

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. headlined the five inductees into the first Hall of Fame class.

France, who formed the National Association of Stock Car Racing in 1947, was the first inductee announced in a ceremony that followed a lengthy voting session at the Charlotte Convention Center.

Richard Petty, the seven-time Cup champion and NASCAR's all-time wins leader, was the second inductee revealed by current NASCAR chairman Brian France. Next up was Bill France Jr., son of the NASCAR founder who spent nearly 30 years at the helm of America's top motorsports series.

The final two nods went to Dale Earnhardt, NASCAR's other seven-time champion, and Junior Johnson, a former driver and car owner whose early days of running moonshine through backroads of North Carolina stands as a symbol of NASCAR's start.

Golf

MADRID — Seve Ballesteros is hopeful that his health will allow him to play a round at next year's British Open at St. Andrews.

Ballesteros, who is recovering from brain cancer that has left him partially blind in his left eye, said that he is considering an appearance at the event he won three times.

Ballesteros was on hand in the Spanish capital as organizers unveiled the completed field for the Oct. 29-Nov. 1 Volvo Match Play Championship, to be held in Spain for the first time. Ballesteros' foundation will be the event's official charity.

The 52-year-old Ballesteros said his treatment was proceeding well and that "things are going under par" regarding his overall health after numerous operations last year to remove a malignant tumor.

Soccer

WEMBLEY, England — Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder David Beckham says a deal for another loan to AC Milan is 95 percent done.

Beckham was loaned to AC Milan from last January through the end of the Serie A season, then returned to Major League Soccer in July. He wants to play in Europe again to ensure he'll stay sharp and earn a place on England's World Cup roster for the fourth time.

The 34-year-old entered England's World Cup qualifier against Belarus in the 58th minute and sent a short corner kick to Shaun Wright-Phillips, who scored the second goal in England's 3-0 victory. It was Beckham's 115th international appearance, 10 shy of the English record held by retired goalkeeper Peter Shilton.

Beckham, who also hit a post, was selected man of the match.

Cycling

PARIS — Lance Armstrong considers the 2010 Tour de France course "tough" because of the cobblestones sections and three punishing summit finishes in the Pyrenees.

The seven-time Tour champion attended the unveiling of the route and had lunch with French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

Armstrong finished third at this year's Tour after an intense rivalry with Astana teammate Alberto Contador, the eventual winner.

The 38-year-old Texan said the inclusion of some of the famous cobblestone sections that make up the Paris-Roubaix classic will be especially destabilizing in early stages next year.

The course will include a total of 23 mountain passes in the Alps, Pyrenees, Jura and Massif Central, three more than the last race.

— The Associated Press

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