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Friday’s Morning Mashup: Manny Ramirez calls return to baseball ‘blessing’ after going 0-for-4 in minor league debut for Cubs

06.27.14 at 7:37 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: Red Sox at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-AM)
MLB: Rays at Orioles, Game 1, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Nationals at Cubs, 4 p.m. (WGN)
MLB: Rays at Orioles, Game 2, 7:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
NHL: Draft, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
Track and field: U.S. Outdoor Championships, 10 p.m. (NBCSN)
Tennis: Wimbledon, 7 a.m. (ESPN)

AROUND THE WEB:

Manny Ramirez made his debut as player/coach for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs on Thursday, playing left field in the second game of a doubleheader on the road against the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. Wearing No. 44 and batting sixth, the former Red Sox star went 0-for-4, reaching base on an error in his first at-bat before striking out twice and lining out in a 7-6 loss.

“They just made good pitches,” Ramirez told MLB.com. “But it’s been such a long time since I faced a pitcher, so it felt great.”

Said Ramirez: “It feels great just to be here … and to help the young guys [by] just telling them my experiences and the things that I’ve went through. It’s a blessing just to be here.”

It was Ramirez’s first professional game since playing in Triple-A for the Rangers last summer. He’s expected to play 1-2 times per week and possibly make additional appearances as a pinch-hitter.

“He’s a coach first and a player second,” Iowa manager Marty Pevey said. “He’s here to help our young players make the transition from the minor leagues to the big leagues and to show them how hard he works, how well he works, which he does an unbelievable job.”

Ramirez has 555 home runs in 19 major league seasons, but he also has a legacy of odd and offensive behavior. However, he claims he’s learned from his mistakes after finding religion, and apparently Cubs president Theo Epstein believes him. Epstein made it clear that Ramirez’s job is to mentor the organization’s top prospects, and the 42-year-old will not be called up to the majors, although Ramirez doesn’t sound convinced of that.

“As long as I’m here and I keep working, you never know what could happen,” Ramirez said. “I think God has a reason for me to be here. … He opened the door and I’m just here.”

– NBA commissioner Adam Silver already won over many players and fans when he banned Clippers owner Donald Sterling, and on Thursday night he made another positive statement by honoring Baylor center Isaiah Austin at the NBA draft.

Austin, the 20-year-old who had to give up basketball after recently being diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, was “drafted” by the NBA and had the chance to walk up on the stage like the other selections. It was an emotional moment for Austin and those watching.

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Read More: Adam Silver, Isaiah Austin, Manny Ramirez, Tony Gwynn

USA loses to Germany but still advances to knockout round

06.26.14 at 1:54 pm ET
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Midfielder Michael Bradley (left) and the U.S. soccer team lost to Germany on Thursday but will play again in the World Cup. (AP)

Midfielder Michael Bradley (left) and the U.S. soccer team lost to Germany on Thursday but will play again in the World Cup. (AP)

All that matters is that they advanced. The U.S. men’s national team lost to Germany, 1-0, on Thursday, but the Americans still advanced to the knockout round of the World Cup thanks to the fact that they owned the goal-differential tiebreaker over Portugal.

Portugal beat Ghana, 2-1, to tie the U.S. with four points but finished with a minus-three goal differential, while the U.S. wound up with an even four goals for and four against. This marks the first time ever that the Americans have reached the knockout round in consecutive World Cups.

The Germans scored the game’s lone goal in the 55th minute. After Howard made a great initial save on Per Mertesacker‘€™s header from in close, the always-dangerous Thomas Muller buried the rebound inside the right post for his fourth goal of the tournament.

Germany had the better chances in the first half, but Howard was up to the challenge. He intercepted a pair of crosses into the box that were intended for Muller, and also made a great save on Mesut Ozil from in close. U.S. defender Omar Gonzalez, getting his first start of the World Cup, was crucial in breaking up a couple of quality German chances.

The Americans’€™ best chance of the first half came in the 22nd minute when Michael Bradley, who struggled for most of the match yet again, sent a pass out wide to Graham Zusi. Zusi then stepped into a good-looking shot from a couple of feet outside the box, but it sailed just over the crossbar.

The U.S. didn’t generate much offense after that but did challenge in stoppage time with the game clock winding down. Alejandro Bedoya had a great chance blocked, and then Clint Dempsey sent a header a little high.

The Americans will next play on Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET. They’ll take on the winner of Group H, which will most likely be Belgium.

For more World Cup coverage, click here.

Read More: World Cup,

Uruguay’s Luis Suarez out of World Cup, suspended 4 months for bite

06.26.14 at 10:16 am ET
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Uruguay star forward Luis Suarez was suspended by FIFA from soccer activity for four months for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during Tuesday’s World Cup game in Brazil.

FIFA, soccer’s governing body, also suspended Suarez for nine international matches and fined him $112,000. The decision was made by FIFA’s independent disciplinary committee.

“Such behavior cannot be tolerated on any football pitch, and in particular not at a FIFA World Cup when the eyes of millions of people are on the stars on the field,” said Claudio Sulser, chairman of the disciplinary committee. “The disciplinary committee took into account all the factors of the case and the degree of Mr Suarez’s guilt. The decision comes into force as soon it is communicated.”

The statement from FIFA reads:

“The player Luis Suarez is to be suspended for nine official matches. The first match of this suspension is to be served in the upcoming FIFA World Cup fixture between Colombia and Uruguay. The remaining match suspensions shall be served in Uruguay’s next FIFA World Cup matches, as long as the team qualifies, and/or in the representative team’s subsequent official matches.

“The player is banned from taking part in any kind of football-related activity — administrative, sports or any other — for a period of four months. A stadium ban is pronounced against Luis Suarez, who is prohibited from entering the confines of any stadium during the period of the ban.”

Suarez, a 27-year-old who plays for Liverpool in the English Premier League (a team owned by Fenway Sports Group), has twice before been punished for biting opponents. He was not penalized during Tuesday’s game as the incident occurred away from the ball and was not spotted by any of the on-field officials.

Uruguay won the game, 1-0, to earn a spot in the Round of 16 and eliminate the Italians.

Read More: Luis Suarez,

Ghana suspends key players Kevin Prince-Boateng, Sulley Muntari for World Cup

06.26.14 at 10:09 am ET
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When Ghana takes the field Thursday at noon against Portugal the team will be without two key players, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari, as they were sent home following confrontations with their coach and officials from the Ghana Football Association (GFA).

Ghana is fighting for a chance to advance out of Group G — which includes the United States — and reach the Round of 16, but the challenge got tougher without the two suspended players.

According to the GFA, Boateng was suspended for his treatment of coach Kwesi Appiah.

“The decision was taken following Boateng’s vulgar verbal insults targeted at coach Kwesi Appiah during the team’s training session in Maceio this week,” the GFA said in a statement. “Boateng has since showed no remorse for his actions which has resulted in the decision. Boateng’s accreditation for the 2014 World Cup has been withdrawn with immediate effect.”

Muntari’s confrontation came with officials.

“The decision was taken in the wake of his unprovoked physical attack on an executive committee member of the GFA and a management member of the Black Stars, Mr. Moses Armah, on Tuesday, June 24, 2014 during a meeting,” a GFA statement read. “Muntari’s accreditation for the 2014 World Cup has been withdrawn with immediate effect.”

Controversy has surrounded the team since its arrival in Brazil, as players demanded the payment of appearance fees for playing in the tournament.

Read More: Kevin-Prince Boateng, Sulley Muntari,

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Native American group plans $9 billion lawsuit against Cleveland Indians

06.26.14 at 8:00 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’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.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Braves at Astros, 2 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Cardinals at Dodgers, 10 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA: Draft, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
World Cup soccer: United State vs. Germany, noon (ESPN: WEEI-FM)
World Cup soccer: Portugal vs. Ghana, noon (ESPN2)
World Cup soccer: Russia vs. Algeria, 4 p.m. (ESPN2; WEEI-AM)
World Cup soccer: South Korea vs. Belgium, 4 p.m. (ESPN)
Tennis: Wimbledon, 7 a.m. (ESPN), 11:30 a.m. (ESPNews), 2 p.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

– A Native American group revealed plans to file a federal lawsuit against the Cleveland Indians next month, calling the team’s nickname and Chief Wahoo logo racist.

“We’re going to be asking for $9 billion and we’re basing it on a hundred years of disparity, racism, exploitation and profiteering,” American Indian Education Center director Robert Roche, a Chiricahua Apache, told Cleveland’s WEWS-TV. “It’s been offensive since Day 1. We are not mascots. My children are not mascots. We are people.”

Roche also is the director of the group People Not Mascots, which is looking to capitalize on the momentum following last week’s ruling by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that stripped the Washington Redskins of their trademark because the nickname is considered a “racial slur.”

MASHUP POLL: Should the Cleveland Indians change their nickname?

  • No, there's nothing wrong with it (87%, 359 Votes)
  • Yes, it's offensive (13%, 56 Votes)

Total Voters: 415

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The Indians have been phasing out the Chief Wahoo logo the past few years, replacing it on the players’ hats with a block ‘C.’ But the old logo has its supporters.

“If just a small amount of people are against it, then I think you’re doing a disservice to people that like it,” Bob Rosen, president of the Wahoo Club, told WEWS, adding: “I’m not insensitive to the issue, but our 1,650 members of the Wahoo Club, anytime we have a Wahoo Club item they buy it up, they love it. Can you imagine the baseball team in this city not being called the Cleveland Indians? I can’t picture that.”

– The NFL on Wednesday agreed to a revised settlement for concussion-related claims by former players, removing the $675 million cap after a federal judge expressed concern that it wouldn’t be enough. U.S. District Judge Anita Brody will decide whether to accept the new terms.

The new agreement has no cap on overall damage claims, although it still includes a payout formula that considers individuals’ age and illness, and both sides said they expect the league will not surpass the $675 million mark on damage claims. It will cover retired players who develop neurological problems including dementia and Lou Gehrig‘s disease.

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Read More: Cleveland Indians, Joe Montana, Johnny Manziel, NFL

Man wins over $900 on Luis Suarez bite

06.25.14 at 10:57 am ET
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Soccer fans around the world were up in arms when Luis Suarez bit Giorgio Chiellini during Tuesday’s World Cup match between Uruguay and Italy — except for one Norwegian man.

Thomas Syversen won 5,600 Norwegian Krone — worth about $916 — after taking the 175-to-1 odds that Suarez would bite someone during the match.

“This is probably the sickest game I’ve handed in, not to mention the sickest game I’ve won,” Syversen told Afterposten, Norway’s largest newspaper.

If anyone knows what it’s like to be bitten during athletic competition, it’s former boxer Evander Holyfield. Holyfield was famously bitten in the ear by Mike Tyson during a fight on June 28, 1997, which Tyson was disqualified from as a result.

Holyfield tweeted his response to the Suarez incident in a joking manner.

 

Read More: Evander Holyfield, Luis Suarez,

Report: Penguins to hire Mike Johnston

06.25.14 at 10:20 am ET
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The Penguins are expected to hire Mike Johnston as their new coach, according to a report by ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

LeBrun wrote that a deal has yet to be finalized for Johnston to replace Dan Bylsma, but “all signs were pointing in that direction.”

Johnston has spent the last six years as coach and general manager for the Portland (Ore.) Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League. He was an assistant coach for the Kings and Canucks before that.

The Penguins fired Bylsma June 6 after going 4-5 in playoff series since winning the Stanley Cup in 2009. Pittsburgh blew a 3-1 series lead to fall to the Rangers in seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Read More: Mike Johnston, Pittsburgh Penguins,

Kings’ Jonathan Quick has wrist surgery, out up to 3 months

06.25.14 at 9:43 am ET
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Jonathan Quick

Jonathan Quick

Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick will be off the ice up to three months after undergoing wrist surgery Tuesday.

The Kings confirmed Quick had surgery on Tuesday but wouldn’t specify which wrist. The goalie will be out for at least 10-12 weeks, making him ready in time for when Los Angeles opens training camp in September.

The former UMass star suffered the injury during the Kings’ second-round series win over the Ducks, but played through it while leading LA to its second Stanley Cup in the last three years. Team doctors suggested surgery after the season ended.

 

Read More: Jonathan Quick,

Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: FIFA investigates biting incident involving Uruguay’s Luis Suarez

06.25.14 at 8:16 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: Red Sox at Mariners, 10:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-AM)
MLB: Cardinals at Rockies, 3 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Reds at Cubs, 7 p.m. (WGN)
MLB: Tigers at Rangers, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
College baseball: World Series, Virginia vs. Vanderbilt, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
World Cup soccer: Argentina vs. Nigeria, noon (ESPN; WEEI-AM)
World Cup soccer: Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. Iran, noon (ESPN2)
World Cup soccer: France vs. Ecuador, 4 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI-AM)
World Cup soccer: Honduras vs. Switzerland, 4 p.m. (ESPN2)
Tennis: Wimbledon, 7 a.m. (ESPN), 11:30 a.m. (ESPNews), 2 p.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

– Uruguay forward Luis Suarez tried to brush off accusations that he bit an Italian opponent in Tuesday’s World Cup game, but soccer’s governing body announced that it will investigate the incident, and a lengthy suspension seems likely.

Suarez — who plays in the English Premier League for Liverpool (owned by Fenway Sports Group, in case you were wondering if this year could get any worse for John Henry and friends) — twice before has been suspended for biting. The most recent incident was in 2013, when he chomped down on Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic, an incident for which he received a seven-game ban.

According to reports out of Brazil, FIFA asked the Uruguayan team to present its evidence by 5 p.m. Wednesday. Uruguay next plays Saturday in the Round of 16 against Colombia.

MASHUP POLL: How should Luis Suarez be suspended for his latest bite?

  • Substantial suspension (more than 7 games) (93%, 127 Votes)
  • Short suspension (a few games) (3%, 4 Votes)
  • Same suspension as last time (7 games) (3%, 4 Votes)
  • Fine but no suspension (1%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 136

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Video clearly shows Suarez leaning in to Giorgio Chiellini‘s shoulder with his mouth after the two jostled for position in front of the goal, away from the play. Chiellini responded by swinging his arm at Suarez, and both players flopped to the ground in supposed agony. Chiellini attempted to show the referee tooth marks on his shoulder, but no foul or card was given.

“These are things that happen on the pitch. We were both in the area, he thrust his shoulder into me,” Suarez told the media in Spanish after the game. “These things happen on the pitch, and we don’t have to give them so much [importance].”

The Italians weren’t as willing to let it go.

“I didn’t see Suarez biting him but I saw the bite marks on his shoulder, but the referee’s assistants were so busy they didn’t see anything,” Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said. “It’s a shame. It’s a real shame that it turned out like this.”

– In other World Cup news, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh announced there will be a viewing party Thursday on City Hall Plaza for the United States’ noontime game against Germany. The New England Revolution street team, including team mascot Slyde, will be on hand for the event.

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Read More: LeBron James, Luis Suarez, Ray Allen,

Uruguay’s Luis Suarez bites opponent in win over Italy

06.24.14 at 3:10 pm ET
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Controversial Uruguay forward Luis Suarez dug his teeth into the shoulder of defender Giorgio Chiellini during Tuesday’s World Cup game, a 1-0 win for Uruguay that eliminated the four-time champion Italians.

In the 80th minute of what was then a scoreless tie, Suarez and Chiellini were jostling for position in front of the Italian goal when Suarez leaned forward and put his mouth on Chiellini’s shoulder. The Italian responded by swinging his elbow before dropping to the ground. Suarez, seeing Chiellini fall, did the same.

Chiellini pulled down his shirt to show the bite mark on his shoulder to the referee, but no foul was called nor card given.

Suarez, who plays for Liverpool (owned by Fenway Sports Group), has bitten opponents at least twice before. Most recently he was suspended in 2013 for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic. He appears likely to receive another suspension from FIFA.

Uruguay scored on a header by captain Diego Godin off a corner kick one minute after the incident.

Italy was playing with 10 players following a 59th-minute red card to Claudio Marchisio for putting his cleat into the knee of Egidio Arevalo.

“It’s absurd to be left with 10 men in a match like this,” Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said. “There were no ugly fouls worthy of being sent off. You can’t [ruin] a match like that. The referee ruined the match.”

Meanwhile, star forward Mario Balotelli — who got a yellow card in the first half, his second of the tournament, and would have been suspended for the next game — was replaced at halftime by defensive midfielder Andrea Parolo as the Italians knew that a tie would advance them to the next round.

Following the loss, Prandelli said he was resigning as coach, despite signing a contract extension shortly before the tournament.

“Above and beyond, at the end of the match, I spoke to the president of the federation, and because the technical plan is under my responsibility, I have told them that I am going to resign from my position because when the technical plan and strategy fails, it is only fair for the person in question to take responsibility,” Prandelli said.

Costa Rica, which played England to a scoreless tie Tuesday after posting wins over both Italy and Uruguay, won the group.

Read More: Luis Suarez,