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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Chaz Ortiz, 14, takes Dew Cup title in skateboard park

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Fourteen-year-old Chaz Ortiz won the skateboard park event Sunday in the PlayStation Pro to take the Dew Cup as the season points leader.

"I wasn't expecting to win," Ortiz said. "I came in here just wanting to have fun and I mean it all came together. To win it is ten times better."


Ortiz took the lead after his first run and improved his score on his second. He advanced to the 7-minute jam session, where he executed technical tricks on the rails, including a flip frontside boardslide kickflip. The Chicago native finished at 92.75.

Paul Rodriguez of Tarzana, Calif., was second at 91.25, and Milwaukee's Greg Lutzka was third at 86.75. Three-time defending Dew Cup champion Ryan Sheckler finished 10th.

Earlier, Adam Jones won the Freestyle Motocross event and also took the Dew Cup.

"I won a very big, very prestigious event and I also won a championship at the same time so I'm super pumped," Jones said.

The 24-year-old Jones, from Minden, Nev., took the lead in his first run and retained it throughout the event. He executed a stripper flip, a turntable and a KOD flip during the competition.

"I tried to tell myself I didn't feel any pressure, but I felt a fair bit of pressure," Jones said. "I didn't sleep at all last night. I was tossing and turning all night."

Australia's Robbie Maddison was second at 93.10, and Jeremy Lusk, from San Diego, was third at 92.57.

The four-day competition, which drew 53,566 fans, was the final event of the five-stop AST Dew Tour that features skateboarding, BMX and freestyle motocross.

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Murray seals second Masters title

By Piers Newbery

Andy Murray
Murray has now won seven career titles and four in 2008

Andy Murray battled past a tired Gilles Simon in Madrid to secure back-to-back Masters Series titles.

The Briton, 21, followed up his semi-final win over Roger Federer with a 6-4 7-6 (8-6) victory.

Simon struggled physically, having needed final set tie-breaks in his previous three matches, including Saturday's defeat of Rafael Nadal.

Murray, the world number four, won his first Masters Series title in Cincinnati in August.

He becomes the first British player to win two titles at the elite Masters level, which is below only the Grand Slams in importance, with both Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski having won in Paris during their careers.

Murray is also the first Briton to win four tournaments in a season, having taken titles in Doha and Marseille earlier in the year.

In truth, the Scot was well below his best in Sunday's final as he failed to find any rhythm against an opponent who appeared exhausted from the early stages.

My serve this week has been awesome and that's the reason why I won the tournament
Andy Murray
And while the Frenchman struggled to cope, Murray was able to rely on the almost impregnable serving that saw off Federer on Saturday.

He made 67% of first serves over the one hour and 34 minutes and did not face a single break point, although he had to fend off two set points in the second set tie-break.

Murray was largely content to rally from the baseline and wait for errors from Simon, and it worked as early as game five when he forced three break points and converted the third with a winning lob.

He had little trouble seeing out the set, taking it with a superb service game that included three aces, and had an early chance in the second set but played a wild forehand on break point.

It proved to be the pattern for much of the match, with both players hitting occasional winners but failing to string them together.

Murray saw off a brief threat in game six with a backhand winner down the line past the on-rushing Simon and it came down to a tie-break, which at last produced some real drama.

The British number one recovered an early mini-break but from 3-2 up played three drop shots in a row, two of which were unsuccessful.

He was not to be deterred, however, and went for another when facing two set points at 6-4 down, just about getting away with it and going on to win four straight points, Simon missing with a volley on match point.

"I planned to play a little bit better than that from the back of the court," said Murray. "Both of us made a lot of mistakes but both of us were a little bit tired from yesterday, him probably more than me.

"But my serve this week has been awesome and that's the reason why I won the tournament. I don't think he had a break point in the whole match.

"I think he'd won his last five finals so he's tough in finals, I knew it was going to be a difficult match.

"Maybe I put a little bit too much pressure on myself because I was expected to win and I knew he was going to be tired but I saved my best tennis until right at the end and deserved to come through."

Murray, who has already qualified for the end-of-season Masters Cup in Shanghai, will head to St Petersburg next week to defend the title he won last year.

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Niners fire Nolan; Singletary takes over as interim coach

Associated Press

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers fired coach Mike Nolan on Monday night, seven games into the fourth consecutive dismal season of his attempt to rebuild the five-time Super Bowl champions.

Chris Graythen / Getty Images
With Mike Nolan as coach, the 49ers started 2-5 in each of his four seasons and never finished above .500.
49ers under Mike Nolan
Year Start Finish Off. rank Def. rank
2008 2-5 Fired 15th 29th
2007 2-5 5-11 32nd 25th
2006 2-5 7-9 26th 26th
2005 2-5 4-12 32nd 32nd

After four straight losses culminating in Sunday's 29-17 loss to the New York Giants, the 49ers replaced Nolan with assistant head coach Mike Singletary. The Hall of Fame linebacker will take over for the rest of the season, general manager Scot McCloughan said.

Nolan was 18-37 in 3½ seasons with the 49ers, who hired the veteran defensive coordinator to run every aspect of the club in January 2005. Although Nolan brought back a measure of respectability back to the franchise, he has the worst winning percentage (.327) among any 49ers coaches who made it through more than one season with the team.

"The decision was difficult, because Mike has been both a friend and valued coach of our team," said McCloughan, who was hired by Nolan but gained authority over the coach last year. "My first obligation is to do what is in the best interest of our fans and the entire 49ers organization."

Instead of delaying a decision on Nolan's fate until the 49ers' bye week following Sunday's home game against Seattle, McCloughan and owners John and Jed York decided to get rid of the family's choice to fix the 49ers, who have endured five consecutive losing seasons and haven't made the playoffs since 2002.

Nolan seemed to have no idea he would be fired when he conducted his usual news conference earlier Monday, and he didn't return a phone call from The Associated Press. Several team executives -- including Jed York -- and coaches either wouldn't comment or didn't return phone messages, e-mails or text messages, while most 49ers players only knew what they heard on television.

The York family took over the 49ers after owner Eddie DeBartolo lost control of the team in 2000 to his sister, Denise DeBartolo York.

The 49ers' fortunes have plummeted under the Yorks, who gave power over every aspect of the Niners' football operations to Nolan, a career assistant who had never been a personnel executive. The unorthodox arrangement didn't thrive on the field or in the front office, and Nolan ceded nominal power to McCloughan last January to avoid being fired after the 49ers finished 5-11.

Singletary, the famed centerpiece of the Bears' dominant defense on their 1986 Super Bowl team, has been at Nolan's side since 2003, when he worked for Nolan on the Baltimore Ravens' coaching staff. Singletary interviewed for a handful of head coaching vacancies in recent years, but was out of the NFL from the end of his playing career in 1992 until joining the Ravens.

"I am confident that Mike Singletary's leadership ability, along with his experience as both a Hall of Fame player and coach, gives him the ability to turn our season around," McCloughan said.

The 49ers had the NFL's worst record in 2004 before Nolan's arrival, but they didn't manage a winning season or make a significant impact on the league during his tenure.

In fact, Nolan might end up being best remembered in San Francisco for his insistence on wearing a suit and tie on the sideline for the 49ers' home games. After two years of protracted negotiations with Reebok, which has a contract to supply clothing to all the league's coaches, Nolan got permission to wear his specially designed suits for two games in 2006 and a full home season last year.

Nolan claimed his snazzy outfits were a way to project an image of authority while paying tribute to the league's former coaching greats, including his late father, Dick, who coached the 49ers and New Orleans Saints.

Nolan was the third NFL coach to be dismissed during the season, joining Oakland's Lane Kiffin and St. Louis' Scott Linehan. The Rams have won two straight games under interim coach Jim Haslett, and the Raiders are 1-1 under Tom Cable.

Earlier Monday, Nolan deflected questions about his job security. John and Jed York attended the 49ers' loss at the Giants, which featured a miserable offensive performance and another defensive struggle.

"It's talked about," Nolan said. "It's a reality, just on the outside. I can't let it affect what my job is. It's just speculation until something is acted upon. ... You always want to have support, but I know what my job is, by having a job. My job is to work with our players and coaches and try to put together the best game plan to win games."

Nolan was in the fourth season of a five-year, $8 million contract.

The 49ers fielded the NFL's worst offense during two of Nolan's first three seasons, including last year. Nolan's first two offensive coordinators -- Mike McCarthy and Norv Turner -- both left the club after one season for head coaching jobs, and Mike Martz became his fourth offensive coordinator last winter.

Nolan's future also was heavily tied to quarterback Alex Smith, the No. 1 overall pick in 2005. Smith never became a consistent starter in his first three seasons, and had a public spat with Nolan last year over the severity of the quarterback's shoulder injuries, which forced him onto injured reserve despite Nolan's prior insistence that the injury wasn't serious.

Smith's shoulder gave him more problems this year, and the quarterback went on injured reserve before the season began. The 49ers promoted veteran journeyman J.T. O'Sullivan to their starting job this year, but a decent offense under Martz's direction hasn't been able to counteract a defense that has yielded a league-high 196 points.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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Favre’s reported leaks to Lions not against rules

By CHRIS JENKINS, AP Sports Writer

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP)—If Brett Favre really did leak inside information about the Green Bay Packers’ offense to help the Detroit Lions beat his former team last month, the three-time MVP’s reputation among his fans in Wisconsin would likely take a hit.

But he—and the Lions coaches who reportedly took his call—wouldn’t have broken any NFL rules.

“We do not have a comment,” league spokesman Greg Aiello said in an e-mail to The Associated Press on Monday morning. “Even if it were true, there would be no violation of league rules.”

Foxsports.com reported Sunday that Favre called the Lions before their Sept. 14 game against the Packers and spent more than an hour giving coaches information on nuances of the offense he used to run.

If true, Favre wasn’t much help. The Packers beat the Lions 48-25.

Favre, traded to the New York Jets after a prolonged, ugly split with the Packers’ front office this summer, was not asked about the report after the Jets’ loss at Oakland on Sunday. But in a text message to an NBC reporter before the Seahawks-Buccaneers prime-time game, Favre strongly denied it.

Lions coach Rod Marinelli didn’t issue a similar denial, saying only that he had no comment.

After calling the situation “disappointing” and declining further comment Sunday night, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday that the team wasn’t seeking any recourse against Favre.

“I’m not going to do anything about it,” McCarthy said. “I have no comment.”

The idea that a player might be willing to spill secrets about his old team certainly isn’t new in NFL circles. It’s almost expected that when a player leaves one team and joins another, he will share inside information with his new coaches—especially if they were preparing to play against his old team.

So if Favre shared information about the Packers with his new coaches in New York, there wouldn’t have been much of an outcry in Green Bay.

But the notion of Favre possibly reaching out, unsolicited, to offer a scouting report of the Packers to a team he doesn’t play for didn’t sit well with at least one former teammate.

“He contacted them? I don’t respect that,” cornerback Charles Woodson said after the Packers’ victory over Indianapolis on Sunday. “If they call him and he gives them information, that’s one thing. But to seek a team out and to feel like you’re trying to sabotage this team, I don’t respect that. I know he’s been the greatest player around here for a long time, but there’s no honor in that.”

If such actions aren’t considered out of bounds, Woodson said they should be.

“I’ve never called a coach on another team and told them what’s going to happen,” Woodson said. “It is what it is. Obviously he says he wasn’t bitter about what happened, but obviously there is a little bit of resentment there.”

Packers wide receiver Ruvell Martin shared Woodson’s concern.

“If it’s true, then you’ve got to question motives,” Martin said. “I don’t know what to say.”

But Martin downplayed the actual damage leaked inside information could do to a team.

“In my opinion, there’s not too much you can gain,” Martin said. “You can give them our hand signals, (but) those are on tape already. If we find out you’ve got our hand signals, we try to find a way (around it).”

Packers center Scott Wells said it would be “disappointing” if Favre shared information with a division rival, but noted the Packers ended up beating the Lions anyway.

“Obviously it didn’t work out too well for them,” Wells said. “We were still able to go out and move the ball on them and win the game.”

Other Packers wouldn’t touch the subject.

“I’d rather not know what it is and not comment on it,” said wide receiver Donald Driver, a close friend of Favre’s.

AP Sports Writer Larry Lage contributed to this report from Detroit.

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Brady updates fans about his knee

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Tom Brady has been doing his best D.B. Cooper impersonation since suffering a season-ending knee injury.

But the New England Patriots quarterback has posted an open letter to his fans on www.TomBrady.com. Here's the message in full:

I would like to thank everyone for the well wishes and support you have given me throughout my career. It has been particularly helpful during these past six weeks. It is great to know you are all behind me, not only during the good times, but also during the challenging times. On October 6, I had surgery to repair my knee from the injury that took place four weeks earlier in our season opener.

The surgery went well and my doctor described my knee as "rock solid." Unfortunately, in the week following the surgery, I developed an infection. The infection is very treatable and, through a course of antibiotics, it will be knocked out of my system. We were proactive with the infection and the doctors went in for a second procedure this past Wednesday to clean and to test the wound. The results of the tests have all been positive and we are very thankful. I am excited to begin rehabbing my knee and will continue preparing for 2009. I'm looking forward to supporting my teammates throughout the rest of this season, as we strive to achieve the goals we set as a team months ago. Thanks again for your letters and well wishes. The support has meant so much to me during these past few weeks.

I encourage all of my young fans to keep your bodies and minds as fit as possible and to deal with whatever challenges you may face. We never know what life is going to throw us. The best offense is to be prepared whether for the next school test, the next game, or for an unexpected challenge.

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Jeers, Cheers Over FCC White Space Report

By Judy Mottl

Wireless players and mobile Internet device makers are cheering a Federal Communications Commission report that could pave the way for the use of unlicensed white space within the broadcast spectrum.

The expected approval by the FCC at its next meeting in November could help usher in a new generation of gadgets and connected devices using faster networks. Broadcasters, however, are saying not so fast.

The report focused on whether "white spaces," the term to describe parts of the spectrum that will be available after broadcasters move to digital broadcasting, would interfere with other broadcasting signals and networks.

The FCC's Office of Engineering Technology (OET) released a 149-page technical report yesterday detailing its tests and said it found no major interference problems.

The vacant spectrum will be created as broadband analog spectrum is converted to digital next year.

Technology giants such as Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) have lobbied for using the "white spaces" for wireless devices.

The Wireless Innovation Alliance (WIA) said it is delighted that the report indicates no interference issues related to white space use. By the time the FCC puts the issue to a final vote on election day, Nov. 4th, devices that can operate in the spectrum could already be on the drawing board.

Broadcasters weren't so pleased. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) today questioned whether support for white space devices is contradicted by key findings in the FCC's report.

The NAB pointed to the "stark contrast between the Executive Summary's upbeat endorsement of unlicensed devices that preceded a more pessimistic 149-page report" it said in a statement.

"It would appear that the FCC is misinterpreting the actual data collected by their own engineers," said NAB Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton. "Any reasonable analysis of the OET report would conclude that unlicensed devices that rely solely on spectrum sensing threaten the viability of clear television reception. Basing public policy on an imprecise Cliffs Notes version of a 149-page report raises troubling questions."

The Wireless Innovation Alliance contends that vacant space within high quality TV broadcast spectrum has gone underutilized for decades, and can be used to provide rural community Internet access, improve emergency response communications and offer advanced broadband capabilities to mobile device users.

Already, Phillips is working on devices that could provide WiFi-like high definition video in homes, as well as advanced video streaming technologies that would depend on white spaces, according to Philips research staff member Monisha Ghost.

"Development plans are ready to get devices up within a year and a fair amount of new technologies," Ghost said during the conference call today.

According to Thomas, players in the white space broadband product and services industry would use a similar business model to today's WiFi market.

Phillips is just one of many tech titans happy with the FCC decision. Microsoft has called the regulatory group's action an "important milestone" for enabling new services and products.

"Clearly the FCC's internal work and its test process has provided enough information, guidance and technical input to move the process forward in allowing unlicensed use of the white spaces," Anoop Gupta, corporate VP, technology policy and Strategy, Microsoft, said in a statement yesterday.

"We urge the commissioners to come to a decision quickly and adopt rules that will allow all Americans to realize the full and enormous potential white spaces have to expand broadband access."

Wireless providers are not as happy.

"We urge the commission to license a portion of the TV white space for fixed, point-to-point uses as all mobile broadband networks, unlicensed and licensed, rely on backhaul infrastructure and fixed licensed point-to-point systems often can provide cost-effective Internet backhaul," Scott Sloat, corporate communications, Sprint, told InternetNews.com.

The NAB contends that white spaces have a key role to play. "They were designed to protect the signal, and these slivers of spaces keep channels from bleeding over into each other," Kris Jones, spokesperson, NAB, told InternetNews.com.

Free Press, a public advocacy group and Wireless Alliance member, rebuts the NAB's position.

Ben Scott, policy director, said white space will benefit everyone, noting that in some regions more than three-quarters of the broadcast spectrum is currently unused.

"Unlicensed devices make efficient use of the airwaves because they're low-power and smart enough to detect and avoid other broadcasters and services," Scott said in a statement.

"This isn't about one industry versus another. The real value of unlicensed white spaces isn't in the devices of today, it's in their future potential to connect all Americans to a fast, affordable, open Internet."

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Car surfing man badly hurt mooning police


A Nelson man who police said mooned other vehicles while car surfing has been badly injured after falling from the car's roof.

Kane Heal, 22, was in Christchurch Hospital's intensive care unit today after the accident in North Canterbury on Saturday morning.

Police said on Saturday that Mr Heal suffered serious facial injuries when he slid along the road.

Senior Constable Chris Hughey of Hanmer Springs police told the Nelson Mail Mr Heal had his trousers down and was mooning other vehicles from the car's roof when he fell off at a speed of at least 80km/h.

He said Mr Heal required facial surgery after sliding 20m face-first along State Highway 7 about 10km north of the Hanmer Springs turnoff.

Mr Hughey said Mr Heal had climbed on top of a Nissan car driven by his girlfriend as they travelled from Nelson to Christchurch.

- NZPA

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Lakers' Andrew Bynum still has something to prove

Bill Plaschke

Andrew Bynum, Kobe Bryant
Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times
Lakers center Andrew Bynum, towering over superstar guard Kobe Bryant, is no longer a big kid. Just shy of 21 and entering his fourth NBA season, he's a man with something to prove.

Less than two weeks before the start of the NBA season, and Andrew Bynum laughs like he's still on summer vacation, hopping around the center of the locker room like a giant child.

Then you look closer and realize that, when describing the key to the Lakers' season, those words no longer go together.

He's no child. He's all giant.

Have you seen him? The kid who wandered into the Lakers' locker room three years ago has become a man -- huge biceps, broad shoulders, no longer gets lost in Shaq's locker.

In nine days, he'll be 21 years old, entering his fourth NBA season, which is exactly how long it took another Lakers high school draftee to win his first championship, a guy named Kobe Bryant.

For Bynum, it's graduation year.

Which doesn't give him an excuse for senioritis.

This is not a time for him to be late for practice, which happened last week.

This is not a time for him to be tentative with his rehabilitated knee, which has happened during training camp, Bynum yet to show the Lakers the full-court energy they require.

More than anything, this is not a time for his agent to be publicly popping off about the Lakers giving him a new contract.

A new contract for what?

He might be the key to the Lakers' championship run, but in three seasons he has played only about a month's worth of important games for them.

Yet last week his agent David Lee squawked in this newspaper about the Lakers refusing to seriously negotiate a new deal worth $85 million before an Oct. 31 deadline.

"I just don't get it," Lee said to The Times' Mike Bresnahan. "I do not understand certain things that happen."

Understand this: The Lakers have no idea whether Bynum will fully recover from the knee injury that cost him two-thirds of last season.

"I think he's going through a re-acclimation process still," Coach Phil Jackson said Saturday before the Lakers' 108-104 exhibition victory over Regal FC Barcelona. "Some of it has to do with finding out how much he still has to physically recover to get back to that position where he was when he left the game last January."

Understand this: Even if they don't sign him by Oct. 31, they can match any other team's offer next summer when he is a restricted free agent, so if they want him they are guaranteed to have him for at least two more years.

Why should they do something now?

"Andrew has taken everything the Lakers have thrown at him, including criticism," Lee said. "He doesn't do anything to respond other than go on the court."

Except when he's missing 110 of the Lakers' 279 regular-season and postseason games since joining the club.

And what exactly have the Lakers thrown at him, except the best attention from trainer Gary Vitti's staff and extra work with every coach and everything else he needs to be the best?

OK, so Bryant wanted him to be traded. When Bynum proved himself last year, Bryant was the first guy on the bandwagon.

It's time for Bynum to prove himself again.

Allowing his agent to make such a stink about something so senseless is not the sign of someone who is focused only on his comeback.

Bynum reiterated Saturday that he approved those comments.

"I knew what he was going to say, I had no problem with it," Bynum said. "But I also know that as long as I play, then everything will be fine."

So play. And tell everyone in your circle to just watch.

He has already learned that, while Lakers management is used to hearing this sort of agent blather, the fans will pounce upon it, especially in a season when nothing less than a return to the NBA Finals will be enough.

When Bynum fumbled a pass Saturday at Staples Center, a fan stood and shouted one word.

"Contract!" he screamed.

When Bynum was beaten around the basket, another fan shouted out a challenge.

"Show me something!" When the Lakers were called for three seconds?

"That's on you, Bynum!" shouted a fan.

At times, moving under the basket, slicing through two defenders for a layup, Bynum looked good.

At other times, struggling to catch up with some dude who looked like he was 50, he looked winded.

He had his first alley-oop dunk in a game situation since camp began. But he also had some dumb fouls that came from being out of position.

The giant believes he will be in playing shape by opening day.

"I should be there," he said.

The coach believes that, despite Bynum's tardiness last week, he truly is working hard and not distracted by the contract stuff.

"I really think he's focused on basketball, I think he's doing fine," Jackson said.

Bynum is a good guy. He works hard, everyone likes him, his presence in this town could one day be as big as that new body.

But 85 million dollars?

How about 82 good games?

Bill Plaschke can be reached at bill.plaschke@latimes.com. To read previous columns by Plaschke, go to latimes.com/plaschke.

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Cubs GM Jim Hendry signs 4-year contract extension

|Chicago Tribune reporter

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Jim Hendry could get at least four more chances to get the Cubs to the World Series after agreeing Monday to a four-year contract extension through 2012.

Although the Cubs are in the process of being sold, the decision to bring back the general manager was a no-brainer for Cubs Chairman Crane Kenney, who got the go-ahead from Tribune Co. Chairman Sam Zell.

"From Sam's perspective, this was an easy one to make," Kenney said.

Now Hendry's job is to get the Cubs from being a solid regular-season team to one that can win in the postseason.

After the three-game sweep by the Dodgers in the best-of-five NL Division Series, outfielder Alfonso Soriano said the Cubs were "a very good team for [162] games" but were not "put together" for a short series.

Hendry rejected that notion Monday, saying the Cubs were indeed built for October but just didn't get the job done.

"I don't know how you differentiate between [building] a team for April to September, and then you try to build something different for October," he said. "We had as good a team as there was in the National League. [We] had the best record. We just played bad baseball for three days. We stunk last year against the Diamondbacks [in the division series]."

Hendry, Kenney and the baseball operations staff are in Arizona for organizational meetings.

"We're all going to put our heads together to see if there are other ways we can improve the club," Hendry said. "All you can do is try to get in (the postseason) every year and keep working on trying to get better once you get in there.

"There's a whole history in professional sports of clubs that kept getting close, kept getting close and finally they knocked that door in. And that's what we're going to try to do."

Hendry has been at the helm for three division titles in his six years, but he has watched the Cubs lose nine straight games in the postseason since taking a 3-1 lead over Florida in the 2003 NLCS.

With a four-year deal, Kenney is tying a potential new owner to the man who helped change the perception of the Cubs organization. While there's little doubt Hendry would have found another job had he left the Cubs after his option year in 2009, he had no intentions of seeking greener pastures.

"From the day I arrived here and was fortunate enough to be given this job as general manager six years ago, I had no desire to go elsewhere," he said.

Kenney said Hendry is "the face of the franchise on the baseball side" and that he and his lieutenants have the organization in place "to do what it needs to do. And we all know what that is."

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