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The last-place Seattle Mariners fired manager Don Wakamatsu today, more than halfway through a season that began with a boosted roster and hopes of making the playoffs for the first time since 2001. However, the Mariners started the day at 42-70, the second-worst record in the American League. Seattle added pitcher Cliff Lee, infielder Chone Figgins and outfielder Milton Bradley in the offseason. Wakamatsu had guided Seattle to an 85-77 record in his first season after taking over a team that went 61-101 in 2008. But the M's are now 22½ games behind first-place Texas in the AL West. Daren Brown, the manager of Triple-A Tacoma for the last three-plus seasons, took over on an interim basis.
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Ilya Kovalchuk is back on the free-agent market. An arbiter has decided that the NHL acted correctly in voiding Kovalchuk's landmark $102 million contract with the New Jersey Devils. The league had rejected the 17-year contract, saying the longest deal in league history violated its salary cap. The NHL Players Association filed a grievance against the league. Arbiter Richard Bloch sided with the league when he issued his ruling today. The decision puts Kovalchuk back on the market. The high-scoring Russian was hockey's biggest prize in free agency this year with 338 goals and 304 assists in 642 career games.
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Mike Ilitch, the Little Caesars pizza mogul who already owns the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings, said today that he wants to buy the Detroit Pistons in part to make sure another buyer doesn't move the NBA franchise out of town. The Pistons declined to comment on Ilitch's interest in the team, which Forbes valued at $479 million last year. Pistons owner Karen Davidson has said she's considering a sale.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.