BRIEFS It was a very long day for some Twins' fans

Minnesota Twins fans lined up as early as 5 a.m. Friday at the Metrodome and for many, the offseason threat by baseball owners to fold the franchise made this opening night all the more special.

Free hot dogs, muffins and newspapers were available to the early risers while current and former Twins also greeted fans at two noon rallies in the Twin Cities.

As the afternoon wore on, the scene shifted to a party-like atmosphere outside the Metrodome, complete with beer, games for the kids, live music and sunny, 60-degree weather.

Fans also took the time to vent their frustrations at baseball commissioner Bud Selig for his failed attempt to eliminate the team. One wore a T-shirt which read "No Contraction." Another group of fans wore white T-shirts which formed a derogatory phrase aimed at Selig, who tried to get rid of Minnesota and Montreal, both teams with relatively low revenue.

Attorney Corey Ayling, who won a court order to keep the team in business this year, was in attendance Friday night, watching from the upper deck with his children. Ayling represented the Metrodome's operator, the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission.


With that lease expiring at the end of the season, Ayling might have to get more creative to hold off a contraction attempt on the team.

"I think the more fan support, the more persuasive that will be to the Legislature and the more persuasive that will be to the court," he said. "What we have to prove is that the community supports the team."

More baseball

Seattle Mariners designated hitter Edgar Martinez has a ruptured left hamstring and was scheduled to have surgery today ...

Charles Murphy will receive $52,500 -- minus commissions -- for the ball Barry Bonds hit to tie Mark McGwire's home run record. Last fall, Murphy rejected a "ridiculous" $100,000 offer for No. 70, which he caught in Houston. Instead, visions of a seven-figure bonanza guided him to the auction block. But a three-week online auction generated just two bids for the ball. The winner got it for $52,500.

College basketball

Dan Dakich quit as West Virginia's basketball coach a week after being hired, a decision the school said was based on a possible NCAA rules violation last season, and will return to Bowling Green. The school said it was looking into the amateur status of a player on last year's team and had notified the NCAA and the Big East conference. Dakich left Bowling Green after five years to join West Virginia, agreeing on a five-year, $2.5 million contract last week. He met with his West Virginia players for the first time last week -- and kicked five of them out of the meeting when they arrived several minutes late ...

Bob Knight's son, a Texas Tech assistant athletic director, failed to pay the university for school merchandise he sent to a store he owned in Indiana, Tech officials said. Tim Knight did not commit a criminal act but used "poor accounting practices," school spokeswoman Cindy Rugeley said.


Pro basketball

A week after the Los Angeles Clippers fined center Michael Olowokandi $50,000 for comments they deemed detrimental, the team rescinded the penalty. Olowokandi, eligible to become a restricted free agent this summer, criticized his teammates and the organization after a 99-87 loss at Utah on April 3.

Pro boxing

The postponed bout between Oscar De La Hoya and Fernando Vargas for the super welterweight title was rescheduled for Sept. 14 at the Mandalay Bay Resort &; Casino.

Auto racing

Jeff Gordon followed his best race of the season with his best qualifying effort, rebounding from slow practice speeds to win the pole for the Virginia 500. The defending Winston Cup champion, just sixth in points after seven races, turned a lap at 94.161 mph under cloudy skies at Martinsville Speedway, the oldest and shortest track in NASCAR's premier series. Gordon's lap bumped Bobby Hamilton to the outside of the front row after a lap at 94.092 mph, and helped give Chevrolet the top four spots. Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start third, even after spinning out and only putting one lap on the board. Terry Labonte will start fourth.

Pro tennis

Second-seeded Justin Henin and No. 3 Jelena Dokic won third-round matches, but rain continued to plague the Bausch &; Lomb Championships for a third consecutive day. Henin defeated Tathiana Garbin 6-3, 6-3, and Dokic beat Emmanuelle Gagliardi 6-3, 6-4 in the only matches completed by mid-evening.

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