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Donald Trump reportedly declines Nationals offer to throw first pitch on Opening Day

03.28.17 at 12:17 pm ET
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Donald Trump, a native New Yorker, is known as a big time Yankees fan. (Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool Photo via USA Today Sports)

Donald Trump will be the first president since 1910 to not throw out a first pitch on Opening Day. (Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool Photo via USA Today Sports)

The last 18 presidents have thrown out a ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day. Donald Trump is apparently bucking that tradition.

According to the Washington Post’s Barry Svrluga, Trump declined the Nationals’ offer to throw out the first pitch at Nats Park next Monday. Earlier Tuesday, POLITICO reported Trump was in talks with the Nationals to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Given the divisiveness of Trump’s presidency, the Nationals would’ve probably faced backlash if they had welcomed Trump to the ballpark. But that apparently didn’t deter the organization from extending an invitation.

The White House didn’t provide a reason why Trump turned down the Nationals. One possible explanation is that he didn’t want to subject himself to facing a hostile crowd in D.C. Trump lost the District of Columbia to Hillary Clinton by more than 86 points.

This post has been updated. 

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Jose Canseco takes TV baseball analyst gig

03.28.17 at 11:01 am ET
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  CBS SportsJose Canseco is back in baseball.

According to Joe Stiglich of CSN Bay Area, Canseco is joining NBC Sports California as an on-air analyst for their pre- and postgame coverage of the Oakland Athletics, one of his former teams.

From Stiglich: “I’ve got quite a bit of experience. I’ve pretty much been there, done all of that whether it’s on or off the field,” Canseco said. “I think the fans can expect the truth — an honest opinion, honest analysis — and hopefully in some shape or form we expand the fan base.”

“He’s enthused about taking on his first role as an analyst, and he joins NBC Sports California at a time of budding excitement surrounding the A’s and the expectation of them building a new ballpark in Oakland. Canseco, the 1986 AL Rookie of the Year, played for the A’s when they were one of the Bay Area’s hottest sports stories.”

Canseco has been mostly persona non grata around Major League Baseball since his book Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big was released in 2005. The book documented performance-enhancing drug use by both Canseco and several other big name players in the league.

On Twitter, Canseco has lobbied for managerial jobs and even chances to resume his playing career over the years. He hasn’t played in the big leagues since 2001, though the now 52-year-old Canseco has played in several independent leagues since 2006.

Canseco is part of NBC Sports California’s new analyst lineup of former Athletics players. Alex Rodriguez, another former star with PED ties, was recently hired as a full-time analyst by Fox .

Canseco hasn’t even started this job yet and I’m already sick of him.

He is a lunatic who will do literally anything for attention. This is a guy who pretended to lose a finger in a poker game and the saga became national news before he revealed it was a hoax. 

Yes, he will probably say some insane things on TV and will be more animated than traditional baseball analysts. But he is grasping for relevancy and that is a recipe for a pathetic performance on television. There’s a good chance he’ll say outrageous things for the sake of saying outrageous things.

Here is his series of tweets announcing his new job:

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Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Bears’ Deonte Thompson testifies in Aaron Hernandez trial; Tim Tebow still can’t hit a fastball

03.28.17 at 9:23 am ET
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Good morning! Here is your Tuesday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

MLB: St. Louis vs. NY Mets, 1:10 p.m. (ESPN)
MLB: San Francisco vs. Chicago Cubs, 4 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Boston at Pittsburgh, 6 p.m. (NESN Plus, WEEI-AM 850)
NHL: Nashville at Boston, 7 p.m. (NESN)
NHL: Washington at Minnesota, 8 p.m. (NHL Network)
NBA: Golden State at Houston, 8 p.m. (NBATV)
NBA: Washington at LA Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (NBATV)
College basketball: Bakersfield vs. Georgia Tech, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: TCU vs. UCF, 9 p.m. (ESPN)


— Deonte Thompson, a receiver for the Chicago Bears, took the stand on Monday in the Aaron Hernandez double murder trial.

Thompson, who was a teammate of Hernandez at the University of Florida, played for the Ravens in 2013 when Baltimore beat Hernandez’ Patriots in the AFC Championship game.

“That’s my guy,” Thompson said about Hernandez, who smiled in response.

Thompson said he doesn’t remember much about the night Hernandez allegedly shot Alexander Bradley in the face on Feb. 13, 2013. Thompson and Hernandez went to Tootsie’s, a strip club in Miami, that night for Thompson’s birthday and Thompson left before Bradley was shot.

“It’s kind of a blur. We were every day partying,” Thompson said. “We were kids … I had just won the Super Bowl.”

He said he thought Bradley and Hernandez “were just homies and whatnot. I thought they were pretty close.”

Hernandez and Thompson seemed happy to see each other and Thompson laughed as he was told to point out Hernandez in the courtroom and identified him by his purple tie.

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Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Tim Tebow,

Monday’s Morning Mashup: Indians GM’s son blurts out Francisco Lindor contract info on radio; Roger Goodell rips Oakland’s proposal to keep Raiders

03.27.17 at 8:10 am ET
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Good morning! Here is your Monday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

MLB: Boston vs. Baltimore, 1:05 p.m. (ESPN, WEEI-AM 850)
MLB: Seattle vs. San Diego, 4 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Chicago Cubs vs. Cleveland, 9 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA: Cleveland at San Antonio, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: New Orleans at Utah, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
NHL: Chicago at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Wyoming at Coastal Caroli, 8:30 p.m. (ESPNU)


— During an appearance in the Indians’ radio broadcast booth during a spring training game on Saturday, the son of the team’s general manager, Mike Chernoff, accidentally revealed some inside information about Francisco Lindor’s contract.

When Indians play-by-play announcer Tom Hamilton asked six year-old Brody Chernoff which players his dad is working to get, Brody gave a very honest answer.

“He’s trying to, um, get Lindor to play for seven more years,” Brody blurted.

“OK. We better not talk anymore Brody. There you have it folks, we’ve finally had a scoop on the Indians’ radio network,” Hamilton responded.

So now we know Chernoff is possibly trying to keep the shortstop in Cleveland with a seven-year contract extension. Of course, it’s possible Brody misspoke but this is very specific information that likely has some truth to it.

The Indians posted the audio in the tweet above but neither confirmed nor denied Brody’s comment.

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Read More: Cleveland Indians, Oakland Raiders, Roger Goodell,

Thinking out Loud: College basketball offseason can be tough time for some

03.24.17 at 7:35 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud…while wondering whatever happened to The Gong Show?

— The off-season for college basketball can be a tumultuous time. Player transfers. Coaching changes. It’s a good thing PC’s off-season begins with the celebration of accomplishment from the year just gone by – and Ed Cooley’s selection as the NABC District 5 Coach of the Year.

— What is this? It’s your peers (the National Association of Basketball Coaches) recognizing what you’ve done in your own backyard. And out of the six seasons Cooley has had the Friar program, reaction has been universal. It’s been his best work yet.

— Although, it isn’t (and hasn’t) been without some bumps on the road map. Sophomore Ryan Fazekas is leaving the team, aced out of playing time largely by transfer Isaiah Jackson and freshman Alpha Diallo. It is unfortunate, but Fazekas was never the same after his freshman year bout of mono took him from the team after his first month of play.

— This is also the reality of big time, high-major college sports. Those who produce, play. And even though Fazekas contributed in spots this season (most notably at Marquette) there simply wasn’t the consistency needed from his position. And his situation wasn’t going to improve.

— I recall visiting with Fazekas’ father last year at Butler as Ryan was prepared to return to the team from his illness. He told me Ryan loved Providence, loved the guys on the team, and was very anxious to make an impact. He should know his son’s attitude is what stood out, if not his ability to shoot the ball, and I wish him well.

— This means an open scholarship is now available for next season. It may very well go to a freshman-to-be scoring guard, but I’d be surprised if the Friars don’t seriously dig for a graduate transfer at the spot. Someone who can shoot, but also break down a defense and compliment Kyron Cartwright’s ability to penetrate is what next year’s team will need. Just sayin’.

— ICYMI, the Providence-USC First Four game in Dayton was the most-watched of the first round/First Four games on TV. More than 1.6 million viewers tuned in at some point. They missed a heck of a show on the radio, don’t ya’ know.

— Who else thought URI’s finish in the 2nd round against Oregon was eerily similar to what happened to PC against USC? Once the game started to slip from their grasp, you knew it would be hard to get it back.

— What’s next for Rhody? Finding a replacement for Hassan Martin’s inside game and toughness must be at the top of the list. E.C. Matthews is staying on for his 5th year. That’s as good, or better, than anything else.

— Did it dawn on you how much “fun” it was to have two schools dancing at the same time? That hadn’t happened in 20 years, and should happen a lot more often than that. I’ll wager that it will, and perhaps as soon again as next year.

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Friday’s Morning Mashup: Charles Barkley offers to kill Skip Bayless; Yadier Molina wants apology from Adam Jones for WBC party comments

03.24.17 at 9:25 am ET
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Good morning! Here is your Friday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

MLB: Boston vs. Toronto, 1:07 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: San Francisco vs. Colorado, 4 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Baltimore vs. Minnesota, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA: Phoenix at Boston, 7:30 p.m. (CSN, WBZ-FM 98.5)
NBA: Atlanta at Milwaukee, 8 p.m. (NBATV)
NHL: NY Islanders at Pittsburgh (NHL Network)
College basketball: Butler vs. North Carolina, 7:09 p.m. (CBS)
College basketball: South Carolina vs. Baylor, 7:29 p.m. (TBS)
College basketball: UCLA vs. Kentucky, 9:30 p.m. (CBS)
College basketball: Wisconsin vs. Florida, 9:59 p.m. (TBS)


— During an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show Thursday, Charles Barkley talked about Michael Jordan’s gambling and Michigan’s run in the NCAA tournament after their plane incident, but it wasn’t until the final minutes that things got really interesting.

As the spot was ending, Barkley made Patrick an interesting offer to boost ratings for his show: Barkley said if he ever gets a terminal illness, he will kill Second Take host Skip Bayless live on Patrick’s show.

“You know what we should do for ratings? If I get a disease and I’m gonna die, how about you get Skip Bayless in here and I’ll kill him live on national television,” Barkley said.

“I like it. Like pay-per-view,” Patrick responded.

“No, no, no. Just get him in here. Only when I know Imma die….Cause I just want to get Skip Bayless in a room one time and beat him like a dog,” Barkley said. “… Only if I knew I was gonna die. Not if I’m gonna live, cause I don’t wanna go to prison. Cause like Mahorn say, ‘they would love you in prison.’”

The producer looked thrilled when Patrick asked if he would be willing to set this up.

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Read More: Adam Jones, Charles Barkley, Yadier Molina,

Doctors see rise in vasectomies during March Madness

03.23.17 at 3:46 pm ET
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Toronto StarEvery March, away from the basketball court, a different kind of madness begins. Whether it’s called U Vas Madness or carries a cool ad slogan like “it’s hip to get snipped,” it’s urologists’ one shining moment: Vasectomy season.

And you thought only the nets got cut this time of year.

It’s a combination of things, really, that brings this about: For most men, personal timing and the sports calendar happen to coincide perfectly. And then there are the deals. A D.C. area man with four daughters won a free vasectomy in a contest sponsored by 106.7 The Fan’s Junkies. “We had Vasectomy Madness, so to speak,” Dr. Kelly Chiles, an assistant professor of urology at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, told the Post.

“If you’re a guy, no one wants to do it. We’re lazy,” Eric Bickel of the Junkies added. “ . . . But any excuse to sit around and watch TV works for most guys.”

At Obsidian Men’s Health in McLean, Virginia, you’d be a fool not to schedule a snip-snip the first week of the tournament. A concierge practice, Obsidian offers a spa-like experience, with patients awake and watching the games on big-screen TVs. The recovery room, its website says, is “equipped with comfortable robes and slippers, flat-screen TVs with Netflix, cappuccino and top-shelf liquor. We’ll do everything we can to keep you comfortable after the procedure.”

In March, it’s easy to just relax with games on TV all day and brackets yet to be busted. “Men can say, ‘doctors’ orders, I have to take it easy and sit on the couch for a couple of days,’” Chiles says, “having beer and chips. ‘It’s doctors’ orders: Be a couch potato.’”

The beer isn’t a problem, she adds, within reason and, of course, as long as the patient is not on narcotic painkillers (and most are not). No wonder the first week of the NCAA tournament is the perfect time to get this taken care of.

Chiles says that she did “several” vasectomies Wednesday and has had a couple more consultations. “Anecdotally,” she says she sees an increase in the procedure during March, with men beginning to call in February.

A lot of businesses take advantage of the NCAA tournament in marketing campaigns and “hip to get snipped” is the greatest example of this.

Too bad vasectomy recovery time is only two or three days to a week so this can’t be used as an excuse to do nothing but watch basketball for the entire month.

If you’re going to get it done, it’s worth taking a trip to Virginia to do it. This Obsidian Men’s Health practice does look like a spa, has great Yelp reviews and the doctors are very tan.

And of course a guy with four daughters would win a free vasectomy from a radio station. Imagine how frantically he called in when he heard about that contest.

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Team USA wins World Baseball Classic

03.23.17 at 10:02 am ET
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Good morning! Here is your Thursday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

MLB: Pittsburgh at Boston, 1 p.m. (WEEI-AM 850)
MLB: NY Yankees vs. Tampa Bay, 1:05 p.m. (ESPN)
MLB: Cincinnati vs. Chicago White Sox, 4 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: LA Dodgers vs. Texas, 7:05 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Toronto at Miami, 7:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
NHL: Tampa Bay at Boston, 7 p.m. (NESN, WBZ-FM 98.5)
NHL: Pittsburgh at Ottawa, 7:30 p.m. (NHL Network)
College basketball: Michigan vs. Oregon, 7:09 p.m. (CBS)
College basketball: West Virginia vs. Gonzaga, 7:39 p.m. (TBS)
College basketball: Purdue vs. Kansas, 9:39 p.m. (CBS)
College basketball: Xavier vs. Arizona, 10:09 p.m. (TBS)


— Team USA beat Puerto Rico 8-0 Wednesday night to win the World Baseball Classic.

Marcus Stroman didn’t allow a hit until the seventh inning for the United States and was named the tournament’s MVP. He threw 73 pitches, 44 for strikes to go along with three strikeouts and one walk.

“I love pitching in these moments,” Stroman said afterwards. “I love the atmosphere. I feel like the bigger the game, the more I’m able to get up, the more effective I am.

This was Puerto Rico’s first loss in eight games.

“These guys were here to do their best,” said Team USA general manager Joe Torre. “The thing I marveled at was how quickly they came together, and [manager] Jimmy [Leyland] deserves a lot of that credit. They’re just a great group who understood what this event is all about.”

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred presented the trophy to Leyland, who dedicated the win to the country’s armed services.

“This is for the men and women who serve our country,” Leyland said.

“There was only one thing on our mind, was to win this thing and to do whatever we can to win,” said left fielder Christian Yelich. “That helped us come together.”

“Marcus set the tone right off the bat and just was dealing,” he went on. “And we kind of fed off that and we were just rolling ever since.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Our guys played like champions in the last 20 minutes, and we really were able to have a lot of things go right, which they needed to pretty much just had to fall the way they did or we would have been in trouble. So it was a great year and a great victory for our team.” — Bill Belichick, to Mike Krzyzewski, on the Patriots’ Super Bowl LI win 

NBA PB&J craze started with Kevin Garnett, Celtics

03.22.17 at 1:00 pm ET
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ESPNThe legend has been passed down by NBA generations, chronicled like a Homeric odyssey. The tale they tell is of Kevin Garnett and the 2007-08 Celtics, and the seminal moment of a revolution. Bryan Doo, Celtics strength and conditioning coach, recalls it as if it were yesterday, how before a game in December of that season, an unnamed Celtic — his identity lost to history, like the other horsemen on Paul Revere’s midnight ride — complained to Doo of incipient hunger pangs.

“Man, I could go for a PB&J,” the player said.

And then Garnett, in an act with historical reverberations, uttered the now-fabled words: “Yeah, let’s get on that.”

Garnett had not, to that point, made the PB&J a part of his pregame routine. But on that night in Boston, as Doo recalls, Garnett partook, then played … and played well. Afterward, from his perch as the Celtics’ fiery leader, Garnett issued the following commandment: “We’re going to need PB&J in here every game now.”

And so a sandwich revolution was born.

At the time, Doo notes, the Celtics not only didn’t provide lavish pregame spreads, they didn’t offer much food at all. But he soon found himself slapping together 20 PB&J’s about three hours before every tip-off, the finished products placed in bags and labeled with Sharpie in a secret code: “S” for strawberry, “G” for grape, “C” for crunchy. Of vital import: Garnett was an “S” man, and woe unto he who did not deliver him two S’s before every game. “If Kevin didn’t get his routine down, he’d be pissed,” Doo says. “Even if he didn’t eat them, he needed them to be there.”

From Doo’s perspective, PB&J’s were a far better option than players seeking out, say, greasy junk food from arena concessions. “It was a win-win for everybody,” he says. But as the Garnett-Paul Pierce-Ray Allen Celtics steamrolled to a 66-win season and an NBA title, the secret to their success, so cleverly disguised between two pieces of white bread, was eventually leaked. “Boston was doing it at a mass-produced level earlier on than I noticed other people doing it, for sure,” says Tim DiFrancesco, the Lakers’ strength and conditioning coach since 2011. “They were really on the forefront of this revolution.” In time, as visiting teams swung through Boston, opposing players caught wind that a new day had dawned. DiFrancesco recalls hearing from his troops during a visit: “Wait a minute, there’s PB&J’s in the Celtics’ locker room? Can we get some?” Doo’s colleagues around the league were less effusive. “B-Doo, I can’t believe you did this for the guys,” one told him. “Now you got me making them.”

There was no putting the jelly back in the jar. Over the course of the following seasons, as that Celtics championship run ran its course, the pieces of that team would be spread far and wide: Pierce and Garnett migrating the PB&J down I-95 to Brooklyn; Glen “Big Baby” Davis converting the Orlando Magic; Tony Allen spreading the bug to Memphis; coach Doc Rivers bringing the virus across the country to infect the Clippers.

And nothing would ever be the same.

We already kind of knew PB&J is popular in the NBA but this deeper dive into the trend paints the full picture of how much the sandwich means to the players. And I, for one, did not know it began in Boston with Garnett.

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Tinder might be a reason why NBA teams now win on the road more often

03.22.17 at 12:22 pm ET
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The Celtics are 21-17 on the road this season. (Kelley L Cox/USA Today Sports)

The Celtics are 21-17 on the road this season. (Kelley L Cox/USA Today Sports)

NBA teams win on the road more often than they used to. The advent of Tinder and other messaging apps might be one of the reasons why.

In an ESPN the Magazine feature, Tom Haberstroh examines the success clubs have enjoyed away from home in recent years. In the 1987-88 season, for example, the home team won 67.9 percent of games. Ten years later, that number dropped to 57.5 percent, before rising up around the 60 percent threshold for the bulk of the 2000’s.

So far this season, home teams have been victorious 57.4 percent of the time, which is an all-time low. According to one former All-Star, players are now more rested when they’re traveling, because they can line up their hookups from the comfort of their hotel room. There’s no longer a need to troll the clubs until the wee hours of the morning.

“It’s absolutely true that you get at least two hours more sleep getting laid on the road today versus 15 years ago,” the player said. “No schmoozing. No going out to the club. No having to get something to eat after the club but before the hotel.”

There are other possible explanations for this phenomenon, of course. Teams now fly charter instead of commercial, meaning players always travel in luxury. There also isn’t a lot of boozing on flights anymore. Players take much better care of their bodies.

The road lifestyle is far less taxing than it used to be. Even the act of lining up a hot date doesn’t take any more effort than just typing a couple of messages with your thumb.

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