Leading Off

Yankees lower their luxury tax again

The New York Yankees did accomplish something this year: They lowered their luxury tax for the second straight season. The Yankees were hit with a tax bill of $23.88 million by Major League Baseball in a notice sent to teams late Friday, pushing them over the $100 million mark since the penalty for profligate spending was introduced in 2003. The only other club that must pay the competitive-balance tax, as it is formally known, is the World Series champion Boston Red Sox, who owe $6.06 million. Checks are due at the commissioner's office by Jan. 31. New York's bill is down from $26 million last year and a high of $33.98 million in 2005. In all, the Yankees have run up taxes of $121.6 million in five seasons with no World Series title to show for it. The Yankees' tax total would have dropped even lower had they not signed Roger Clemens (pictured) in midseason. The Rocket went 6-6 with a 4.18 ERA in 18 appearances, and he cost New York a $6.98 million tax increase in addition to the $17,442,637 in salary he earned.

Shark Clowe arrested on suspicion of DUI

San Jose Sharks forward Ryane Clowe was arrested early Monday morning on suspicion of drunken driving. Clowe, who has been out of the Sharks' lineup for two months after undergoing knee surgery, was stopped by police in suburban Los Gatos for a minor traffic violation. Authorities said the 25-year-old player failed a field sobriety test and was booked into the Santa Clara County jail. "I am embarrassed by what happened, but take full responsibility for this regrettable mistake," Clowe said. "For situations like I faced last evening, our team has a very clear alternative transportation policy in place. I failed to follow it, and for that I am deeply sorry." Clowe, who is in his second full season with the Sharks, is a fan favorite for his hard-nosed style, and his presence has been missed on San Jose's power play. He had begun traveling with the Sharks again in recent weeks, but the team had no timetable for his return.

Bulls fire Skiles

Scott Skiles was fired Monday as coach of the Chicago Bulls, who have one of the worst records in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls (9-16) have lost three of their last four and were booed throughout by the home crowd during Saturday's 116-98 loss to the Houston Rockets. Page C-3

What's your resolution as a sports fan in '08?

Bee staffers will tackle that very question in this week's edition of Four Corners. Go to to let us know yours.