There was no Commissioner's Trophy the last time the Boston Red Sox won the World Series. No commissioner, in fact. So when the Red Sox won it all for the first time since 1918...

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There was no Commissioner’s Trophy the last time the Boston Red Sox won the World Series.

No commissioner, in fact.

So when the Red Sox won it all for the first time since 1918, they didn’t think it would be right to stick their trophy on a shelf somewhere to gather dust.

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Instead, they took it to every state in New England, to a fan hangout in California and the team’s academy in the Dominican Republic, to Christmas-tree lightings and churches and nursing homes, where octogenarians have waited all their lives to see their favorite team win just once.

The World Series trophy has been a much-welcomed and well-traveled guest this offseason. And how it got to be that way is the sports story of the year, according to a vote by the newspaper and broadcast members of The Associated Press.

Boston’s first World Series title since 1918 and the unprecedented comeback against the Yankees that made it possible was a runaway winner with 108 first-place votes and 1,325 points.

Lance Armstrong’s sixth straight Tour de France title (seven first-place votes, 785 points) finished second and the Indiana Pacers-Detroit Pistons brawl was third (six first-place votes, 662 points).

The New England Patriots’ Super Bowl victory and 21-game winning streak was next (zero first-place votes, 498 points), followed by sports’ steroid stories (eight first-place votes, 495 points).

Mariners right fielder Ichiro setting the season record with 262 hits placed 14th with one first-place vote and 176 points.

Yankees are close to landing Johnson

The New York Yankees inched closer to completing their long-anticipated trade for ex-Mariner Randy Johnson.

The Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks were believed to be closing in on an agreement that would send pitcher Javier Vazquez, top catching prospect Dioner Navarro, pitching prospect Brad Halsey and cash, roughly $8 million, to Arizona for Johnson. Navarro’s recent inclusion in talks between the two teams is viewed as a key point of progress.

The sides were working feverishly in an attempt to complete their agreement by tomorrow, which was believed to be Johnson’s loose deadline for a deal. Upon rejecting Arizona’s offer to extend his contract, he requested a trade to the Yankees “by the holidays.”

Even if an agreement is reached by tomorrow, no deal would likely be consummated until the middle of next week considering that commissioner Bud Selig, who must approve any trade that includes more than $1 million in cash, is vacationing in Arizona.

After Selig’s expected approval, players would have to pass physicals and Johnson would want to reach agreement on a contract extension within the allotted three-day window. These talks have been going on long enough, and the sides are aware of the others’ needs that the extension is probably no more than a formality at this point; Johnson is likely to get a two-year extension for about $31 million.


* Washington D.C. mayor Anthony A. Williams signed legislation to bring baseball back to the nation’s capital.

His signature came after weeks of political wrangling as several members of the District of Columbia Council balked at an earlier plan to finance a new stadium along the Southeast waterfront.

Under the resolution approved by baseball owners on Dec. 3, the last step for the Montreal Expos to become the Washington Nationals is for commissioner Bud Selig to declare that “arrangements (are) being made that are satisfactory to the commissioner for the use of RFK Stadium for the 2005 season.”

* RHP Jaret Wright and the Yankees finalized a $21 million, three-year deal.

* Rod Kanehl, who hit the first grand slam in the history of the New York Mets, has died. He was 70. Kanehl died on Dec. 14 after suffering a heart attack several days earlier.