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Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Paul Pierce calls Nets ‘soft’ after late collapse vs. Raptors

04.23.14 at 8:01 am ET
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Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

WEDNESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Yankees at Red Sox, 7 p.m. (NESN, ESPN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Diamondbacks at Cubs, 2 p.m. (WGN, MLB Network)
NHL playoffs: Penguins at Blue Jackets, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL playoffs: Ducks at Stars, 8 p.m. (CNBC)
NHL playoffs: Blues at Blackhawks, 9:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA playoffs: Bobcats at Heat, 7 p.m. (TNT)
NBA playoffs: Mavericks at Spurs, 8 p.m. (NBATV)
NBA playoffs: Trail Blazers at Rockets, 9:30 p.m. (TNT)
Soccer: UEFA Champions, Bayern Munich at Real Madrid, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: CONCACAF Champions, Cruz Azul at Toluca, 8 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

– It’s not quite Larry Bird calling out his Celtics teammates in the 1984 NBA finals against the Lakers, but Paul Pierce appears to be doing his best to light a fire under his Nets, calling Brooklyn a “soft team” after Tuesday’s Game 2 loss to the Raptors in Toronto.

The Nets squandered a 69-64 lead early in the fourth quarter and allowed the Raptors to score 36 fourth-quarter points on 12-of-16 shooting and tie the series with a 100-95 decision. Brooklyn was out rebounded 52-30 in the game.

Pierce, who scored nine straight points in the final three minutes of Game 1 as the Nets grabbed a 94-87 victory, missed a potential go-ahead 3-pointer from the corner with 24 seconds remaining Tuesday. He made just 2-of-11 shots and scored seven points.

But after the game the former Celtic was more concerned about his team’s lack of defensive teamwork and aggressiveness in the paint.

“We gave them everything they wanted — 50 points in the paint, and [19] offensive rebounds,” Pierce said. “We were a soft team tonight.”

Teammate Kevin Garnett said he expects the Brooklyn fans to be rowdy for Friday’s Game 3, especially after Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri yelled “[Expletive] Brooklyn]” to a group of Toronto fans outside the arena prior to Game 1 (for which Ujiri was fined $25,000 by the league).

Said Garnett: “It’s going to be a rowdy environment, like it should be. I don’t know if you can say ‘F’ Brooklyn and then come into Brooklyn, so we’re about to see what it’s like.”

– Wild forward Matt Cooke has a hearing Wednesday in New York with the NHL‘s department of player safety to explain himself for his knee-on-knee hit Monday that injured Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie.

Cooke, well known for his bad behavior during his days with the Penguins, has stayed out of trouble the past three seasons after multiple suspensions, but this latest incident appears likely to cost him. The Avs say Barrie, who left the game immediately after the hit, suffered a sprained MCL and will be out 4-6 weeks.

“Does he really need to do those nasty, dirty hits?” said Avalanche forward Max Talbot, who played with Cooke in Pittsburgh. “He’s been in that mode since Game 1. He has been chippy with his stick, going in, slashing guys and, you know, being dirty.”

– Longtime NBA sideline reporter Craig Sager said he is “honored” by the outpouring of support he has received since he started chemotherapy as part of his battle with leukemia. On Sunday, TNT broadcasters and analysts paid tribute to Sager by wearing flashy suits (Sager’s trademark), and famously curt Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said in an interview with Sager’s son that he wanted Sager back and would be nice to him.

“It was just fabulous, an uplifting, tremendous thing for me,” Sager told Sports Illustrated. “Pop saying he wanted me back and then promising to be nice? I was like, ‘Oh, my God, that’s unbelievable, what an honor.’ But then I started thinking about it: If I come back and Pop starts being nice to me, it just wouldn’t be right. I want him to go Serbian [a reference to Popovich's heritage] on me.”

Sager said he is watching the NBA playoffs on TV and “it is therapeutic.”

“Getting my first chemo was very emotional,” Sager said. “I’m thinking, What is this going to be like, how will it feel, what effects will it have on my body — a total unknown. I have never been sick a day in my life. All of sudden they are administering the first chemo and [ESPN/ABC play-by-play announcer] Mike Breen gets on the air and says, ‘Hey, we just want to say we miss Craig Sager.’ That happened right as the first chemo came. I was like, Wow, I feel better now from the love and support of the airwaves!”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On April 23, 1969, Ted Williams returned to Fenway Park as the manager of which team?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It hasn’t been easy, let’s not kid ourselves. We’ve been fortunate enough in the last two games to get leads. We’re not going to talk about a comfortable situation because until you win that fourth game, it never is.” – Bruins coach Claude Julien, after the Bruins’ 3-0 victory Tuesday gave them a 2-1 series lead over the Red Wings

STAT OF THE DAY: 35 – Strikeouts this season for Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka — who fanned seven Red Sox in New York’s 9-3 win Tuesday — the most through a pitcher’s first four starts in team history

‘NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos): Angels slugger Albert Pujols hits his 500th home run in Tuesday’s game against the Nationals.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Washington Senators (who moved to Texas after the 1971 season to become the Rangers)

SOOTHING SOUNDS: The late Dale Houston, half of the group Dale & Grace, was born on this day in 1940.

Read More: Craig Sager, kevin garnett, matt cooke, Paul Pierce

Video: WEEI at the 118th Boston Marathon

04.22.14 at 8:46 am ET
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WEEI talked to fans and runners at the 118th Boston Marathon, and Dennis & Callahan and Dale & Holley broadcasted live from the finish line.

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Yankees CF Jacoby Ellsbury ‘can’t worry’ about reaction he’ll receive at Fenway Park

04.22.14 at 8:09 am ET
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Welcome to Tuesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

TUESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Yankees at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESNplus; WEEI-FM)
MLB: White Sox at Tigers, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
NHL playoffs: Bruins at Red Wings, 7:30 p.m. (NESN, NBCSN)
NHL playoffs: Lightning at Canadiens, 7 p.m. (NHL Network)
NHL playoffs: Rangers at Flyers, 8 p.m. (CNBC)
NHL playoffs: Sharks at Kings, 10 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA playoffs: Hawks at Pacers, 7 p.m. (TNT)
NBA playoffs: Nets at Raptors, 7:30 p.m. (NBATV)
NBA playoffs: Wizards at Bulls, 9:30 p.m. (TNT)
Soccer: UEFA Champions League, Chelsea at Atletico Madrid, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

Jacoby Ellsbury is set to make his first appearance at Fenway Park as a member of the Yankees. (AP)

Former Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury is set to make his first appearance at Fenway Park as a member of the Yankees on Monday night. (AP)

Jacoby Ellsbury makes his return to Fenway Park on Tuesday as a member of the Yankees, and Johnny Damon, who was in a similar situation eight years ago, says the boos the outfielder will hear will be good for him.

“It’s going to be great for Ellsbury to go back,” Damon told the New York Post. “The fact that almost everybody will be booing will make it easier. That would be tougher on certain individuals, but the good thing about him is that he plays hard.”

Damon left Boston in 2006, apparently unwanted by Red Sox management despite helping Boston end its 86-year title drought in 2004, and signed with the Yankees. In his first game back at Fenway, he turned the boos into cheers (at least partly) when he stopped and tipped his helmet to the crowd before his first at-bat.

“I knew all the fans weren’t booing,” Damon said. “I did a lot of things there. I brought a different attitude to the clubhouse and helped with a championship. To those who were booing, the hell with them.”

Ellsbury said he hasn’t been thinking about the reaction he’ll receive, although he’s well aware of how “passionate” Red Sox fans are.

“We will see what happens when the time comes,” Ellsbury said. “You can’t think about what they are going to do. In this game you can only focus on what you can do. You can’t worry about the other stuff you can’t control. I gave the organization everything I had for a third of my life.”

– The Knicks began their rebuild under new team president Phil Jackson when they fired coach Mike Woodson and his assistants on Monday.

The Knicks, expected to compete for one of the top spots in the Eastern Conference this season, went 37-45 and missed the playoffs.

Jackson noted in a statement that “blame should not be put on one individual,” but added that “the time has come for change throughout the franchise as we start the journey to assess and build the team for next season and beyond.”

Woodson, who finished third in NBA Coach of the Year balloting last season after New York went 54-28, ends his Knicks career with a .580 winning percentage, ranking him third in franchise history behind Pat Riley and Jeff Van Gundy.

TNT analyst Steve Kerr, who played for Jackson in Chicago, has been rumored to be the leading candidate.

“It’s going to be very interesting and obviously my name is being thrown around,” Kerr said Monday during his SiriusXM NBA Radio show. “I do anticipate at least being part of the conversation and we’ll see where it all goes.”

– ESPN football analyst Keyshawn Johnson was arrested for misdemeanor domestic battery early Monday morning after a dispute with his ex-girlfriend, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department told reporters.

Johnson, 41, was released shortly after 9 a.m. after posting $20,000 bail.

An ESPN spokesman said the network was aware of the incident and was “looking into it.”

Johnson, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2006 1996 draft by the Jets, played for the Jets, Buccaneers, Cowboys and Panthers as part of his 11-year NFL career before retiring in 2006.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On April 22, 1993, which Mariners pitcher walked the first two Red Sox batters of the game but went on to pitch a no-hitter in a 7-0 victory in Seattle?

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Read More: Jacoby Ellsbury, Keyshawn Johnson, mike woodson, Phil Jackson

Meb Keflezighi first American to win Boston Marathon in 31 years

04.21.14 at 12:46 pm ET
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Meb Keflezighi held off a charge from Wilson Chebet to become the first American to win the Boston Marathon since 1983 in Monday’s 118th running of the historic race.

Meb Keflezighi crosses the finish line to win the 2014 Boston Marathon. (Getty Images)

American Meb Keflezighi crosses the finish line to win the 2014 Boston Marathon. (Getty Images)

Chebet closed to within a few seconds of Kefleghzi with about a mile remaining, but Keflezighi put on a late spurt as he made the turn onto Hereford Street and then the quick final turn onto Boylston Street. He finished in a time of 2 hours, 8 minutes, 37 seconds. Chebet was 11 seconds behind.

Keflezighi, 38, was born in Eritrea and moved to San Diego at the age of 12. He became a U.S. citizen in 1998. The UCLA product won the silver medal in the 2004 Olympic marathon and finished fourth in the 2012 Olympic race. He also represented the United States in the 2000 Olympics, finishing 12th in the 10,000 meters.

Keflezighi wrote the names of the victims of last year’s finish line bombings as well as slain MIT officer Sean Collier on his race bib, and he said he hoped to have his picture taken with the victims’ families.

On the women’s side, defending champion Rita Jeptoo of Kenya broke away from a pack of five runners at the 23-mile mark and won with a course-record time of 2 hours, 18 minutes, 57 seconds.

Buzunesh Deba was second, just over a minute behind.

Marblehead’s Shalane Flanagan led for the first half of the race but fell of the pace on the Newton hills and ended up finishing fifth.

Read More: Boston Marathon, Meb Keflezighi, Rita Jeptoo,

Photos: Marathon Monday 2014

04.21.14 at 12:41 pm ET
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WEEI was all over the place on Marathon Monday, from the starting line to the finish line to Fenway Park. To see all our photos from the day, click here.

Some of the signs near the finish line. (WEEI)

Some of the signs near the finish line. (WEEI)

Boston Marathon live blog

04.21.14 at 10:58 am ET
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Not running in the 118th Boston Marathon? Won’t be on the course for this year’s emotionally charged April staple of New England? WEEI will bring you into the event, with Kirk Minihane and Rob Bradford joined by a host of WEEI personalities on the scene and on the course — with Bradford vowing to live tweet as he tries to churn through 26.2.

Anyone wishing to track the progress of Bradford and Minihane as they run can do so at the Boston Athletic Association website (Bradford is bib number 25566, Minihane is bib 25674).

 

Monday’s Morning Mashup: Mets’ Daisuke Matsuzaka solid in new role as reliever

04.21.14 at 8:21 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MONDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Orioles at Red Sox, 11:05 a.m. (NESN, MLB Network; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Reds at Pirates, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL playoffs: Penguins at Blue Jackets, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL playoffs: Avalanche at Wild, 7 p.m. (NHL Network)
NHL playoffs: Blues at Blackhawks, 8:30 p.m. (CNBC)
NHL playoffs: Ducks at Stars, 9:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA playoffs: Grizzlies at Thunder, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA playoffs: Warriors at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
Running: Boston Marathon, 8:30 a.m. (WBZ-TV, Universal Sports)
Soccer: West Bromwich at Manchester City, 2:55 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

Daisuke Matsuzaka struggled for the third straight time since joining the Mets. (AP)

Daisuke Matsuzaka is willing to do what is asked by the Mets in order to stay in the majors. (AP)

– Mets right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka was thrust into an unfamiliar role over the weekend, as the the former Red Sox hurler came out of the bullpen to pitch in Saturday and Sunday’s games against the Braves.

Matsuzaka was sent to Triple-A to start the season, but he was recalled Wednesday to provide relief depth.

After allowing one run in one inning Saturday on two hits and a walk, Matsuzaka threw three hitless innings in Sunday’s 4-3 victory that took 14 innings.

“I spoke with [pitching coach] Dan [Warthen] before the game and I told him I’€™d be ready, that I can go. Of course it went into extra innings so I knew I had to pitch,” Matsuzaka said (via the New York Post). I was mentally prepared, so it wasn’€™t too difficult. I’€™ve never done it, so it’€™s hard to say [how it'€™ll go]. This is my role for the time being so I have to just do what I can and make sure I pitch well whenever I go out there.

“I don’€™t want to use not being used to and not having done it as an excuse. This is my role for the time being, so I just need to go out and pitch well. … [Saturday] I only pitched one inning. I didn’€™t expect back-to-back days to be a problem.”

The Blackhawks, already down 2-0 in their series vs. the Blues, got some more bad news Sunday, as defenseman Brent Seabrook was suspended three games for his hit on David Backes late in the third period of Saturday’s Game 2.

Seabrook, who recorded a goal and an assist in each of the first two games, delivered an elbow to Backes’ head near the corner boards with 4:51 remaining. He received a five-minute major and game misconduct.

Backes was helped off the ice and did not return to see his team — still on the power play from Seabrook’s penalty — tie the game with 6.4 seconds left in regulation before winning in overtime.

The Blues, already upset about a knee-to-knee hit from Chicago’s Bryan Bickell on Vladimir Sobotka, were incensed when they learned that a Blackhawks player — reportedly Duncan Keith — taunted Backes after the hit, telling the dazed Blues captain, “Wakey, wakey, Backes” (audible on the video below at the 45-second mark).

“I saw them talking to him,” Blues enforce Ryan Reaves said. “It makes it a little more gutless. I don’t think there’s any need for that when a hit like that happens. You don’t need to be going after him when he doesn’t even know where he really is.

“I’m not happy about that. I don’t think anybody in this organization is happy about it. To see that happen, I think is just embarrassing in that organization.”

Backes’ availability for Monday’s Game 3 was not clear Sunday.

– Former boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, who served 19 years in prison for three murders before having his verdict overturned in 1985, died Sunday at the age of 76 after a battle with prostate cancer.

Carter, whose story was dramatized in the Bob Dylan song “Hurricane” and the 1999 movie “The Hurricane,” began his boxing career in 1961 after serving four years in state prison for a series of muggings. He went 27-12-1 and got as far as fighting for the middleweight title in December 1964, losing a unanimous decision to Joey Giardello.

In 1966 he was convicted of killing three people in a bar in Paterson, N.J. He received a second trial in 1976 but was convicted again. After years of more appeals and accusations of racial bias, he was freed in 1985 and eventually settled in Toronto, working for the Association in Defense of the Wrongly Convicted.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On April 21, 1990, in Game 2 of the Adams Division finals against the Canadiens, Garry Galley gave the Bruins a 5-4 victory when he scored 3:42 into overtime on a goal that was reminiscent of the Bobby Orr tally that clinched the 1970 Stanley Cup finals. Which Bruin had four assists in the game, including on the game-winner?

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Read More: Brent Seabrook, Daisuke Matsuzaka, David Backes, Rubin Carter

Friday’s Morning Mashup: Another Aaron Hernandez associate indicted in relation to murder case

04.18.14 at 8:09 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Orioles at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN Plus; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Reds at Cubs, 2:15 p.m. (WGN, MLB Network)
MLB: Yankees at Rays, 7:10 p.m. (MLB Network)
NHL playoffs: Red Wings at Bruins, 7:30 p.m. (NESN, NBCSN)
NHL playoffs: Canadiens at Lightning, 7 p.m. (CNBC)
NHL playoffs: Stars at Ducks, 10 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

Aaron Hernandez was cut by the Patriots after his arrest for the murder of Odin Lloyd. (AP)

The case against Aaron Hernandez continues to develop. (AP)

– Another Aaron Hernandez associate was arrested and will face charges related to the death of Odin Lloyd, for which the former Patriots tight end and two other men stand accused with murder.

On Thursday in federal court in Orlando, 23-year-old Oscar Hernandez (no relation to Aaron) was ordered detained until he is to be transferred to Boston to face charges of obstruction of justice, witness tampering and lying under oath after being indicted by a federal grand jury.

The indictment states that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives traced three guns that had been recovered during the investigation into Lloyd’s death, and the ATF determined that the guns had been purchased in Florida last April. None of the guns are the .45-caliber Glock investigators believe was used in the shooting.

One of the guns is believed to be a rifle that investigators found in a gray Toyota Camry with Florida license plates that was parked in the garage of Aaron Hernandez’s North Attleboro home.

Aaron Hernandez’s lawyers said previously that Oscar Hernandez was interviewed by investigators last June, 10 days after Lloyd’s death. According to Wednesday’s indictment, Oscar Hernandez lied about purchasing the Camry and arranging for it to be sent from Florida to North Attleboro.

Carmelo Anthony soon will be a free agent, and he made it clear he has no intention of signing up for another “embarrassing” season like this one, in which the Knicks went 37-45 and finished out the playoffs.

“I want to come back. But I also want to win,” Anthony told reporters Thursday at the team’s practice facility in Greenburgh, N.Y. “Me wanting to be here, if we can put ourselves in position to at least compete at a high level over the course of whatever — five years, the contract would be — then I’m willing to stay here and I’m willing to ride or die for New York.”

Added Anthony: “Man, I feel like we gave away this year. This is a year that we can’t get back. It is what it is, so there’s no need to cry over the spoiled milk. We’ve got to keep moving forward. But we have to build. Let’s be quite frank about it, we have to get better. As a team we have to get better.

“I don’t know if I can afford to wait another season of losing. I really can’t see that picture right now. As far as other teams out there, which quote-unquote team will be the best situation? You never know. Sometimes the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. This is stuff that I’m going to have to sit down with my family and really figure things out. This is not a decision that’s going to happen overnight. It’s going to take some time.”

The Knicks can offer Anthony a five-year, $129.1 million deal, which is almost $33 million than he could get elsewhere, but he said that’s not of primary importance.

“At this point in my career, I’m not concerned about the money. The contract will be the contract regardless,” he said. “Without a doubt, at this point in my career it’s about winning. Nothing else matters. That’s not going to change. That’s still going to be my mindset, it is my mindset. You know, that’s going to be my No. 1.”

– Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig played in Thursday night’s game against the Giants in San Francisco and would not talk about specifics related to a report that smugglers who helped him defect from Cuba had threatened his life.

“I’m only concentrating on the season and being the best teammate and helping my teammates,” Puig said, adding: “I have great teammates who are helping support me so much this season and to focus on the season when I get to the stadium so I am comfortable. That way I don’t start thinking about anything negative in the stadium. I’m only thinking about working on the things that are going to make me a better ballplayer.”

According to court documents related to a federal lawsuit in Miami, smugglers made death threats against Puig and Cuban boxer Yunior Despaigne, claiming Puig owes them money.

“If you care about Yasiel, you worry about some serious stuff there that he has to deal with,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “If you care about him as a person, you worry about what he’s going through.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On April 18, 1997, the Bruins fired Steve Kasper one week after the season ended without the Bruins making the playoffs for the first time since 1967. Who replaced him?

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Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Carmelo Anthony, Phil Jackson, Yasiel Puig

WR Chad Johnson signs with CFL’s Montreal Alouettes

04.17.14 at 2:43 pm ET
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Following a successful tryout with the Canadian Football League‘s Montreal Alouettes at the team’s minicamp in Vero Beach, Fla., former Patriots wide receiver Chad Johnson signed a contract with team Thursday.

Johnson starred for the Bengals from 2001-10, playing in six Pro Bowls and finishing as the franchise leader in receptions (751), receiving yards (10,507) and touchdown catches (65).

He last played in the NFL with the Patriots in 2011, recording just 15 catches for 276 yards and one touchdown in 15 games. He signed with the Dolphins in 2012 but was released in training camp one day after being arrested on a domestic violence charge.

The 36-year-old was out of football last season.

 

Read More: Chad Johnson,

Marathon survivor Jeff Bauman on D&C: ‘People aren’t scared, and we’ve just grown stronger’

04.17.14 at 10:03 am ET
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Boston Marathon survivor Jeff Bauman joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday to discuss his book “Stronger”€ and the upcoming race. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Jeff Bauman is back in the spotlight with his new book and the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Jeff Bauman is back in the spotlight with his new book and the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings.

One day after the first anniversary of the attacks at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon, Bauman became a New York Times best-selling author for his memoir.

“It kind of put me back there laying on the sidewalk,” Bauman said of co-writing the book with Bret Witter. “It’€™s tough to talk about the details and the smells and the sounds, but at least I can talk about it.

“Yesterday I was thinking Boston and I have a million and terrorists are zero. We’€™re killing them. They did absolutely nothing. They just — they did do a horrible thing — but it didn’t accomplish anything. People aren’t scared, and we’ve just grown stronger and become more positive and now we have tighter security and I, really, I’€™m just grateful and proud of our city and the support has been unreal. I do look at it. I think about it every day.”

Bauman said that he does not think about what he could have done differently on the day of the attacks.

“I’€™m just living my life,” Bauman said. “I was there having fun and it was great time. It was my first marathon, and you know it’s not going to be my last. I was there supporting my girlfriend, who is now my fiancee, and I wouldn’t change where I was.

“I was there living my life and supporting someone I love, and I was there with friends and great people around me besides that one kid. I don’€™t look at the past like that, I look forward.”

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Read More: Jeff Bauman,