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Monday’s Morning Mashup: Police have not ruled out charges for Tony Stewart after death of driver in sprint-car race

08.11.14 at 8:12 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: Mets at Phillies, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Dodgers at Braves, 7 p.m. (ESPN)

AROUND THE WEB:

— Authorities in Upstate New York said they do not have enough evidence to charge NASCAR driver Tony Stewart but have not ruled out criminal charges after he hit and killed a fellow driver during a sprint-car race in Canandaigua on Saturday night.

Stewart backed out of Sunday’s NASCAR race at Watkins Glen one day after the death of 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr.

“There aren’t words to describe the sadness I feel about the accident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr.,” Stewart said in a statement. “It’s a very emotional time for all involved. … My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and everyone affected by this tragedy.”

Ward had stepped out of his car after his car was knocked into the wall by Stewart’s and attempted to confront the NASCAR veteran. Ward, wearing a black firesuit and black helmet on the dimly lit track, was hit by Stewart’s car, which was traveling an estimated 35-40 mph, and knocked backward onto the track.

MASHUP POLL: Should Tony Stewart faces charges for the death of fellow race-car driver Kevin Ward Jr.?

  • No, there is not enough evidence that he did anything wrong (64%, 217 Votes)
  • Yes, he was at the very least negligent for not slowing down and avoiding Ward (36%, 122 Votes)

Total Voters: 339

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There has been speculation that Stewart, known for his temper, was attempting to scare Ward and lost control of his car.

Tyler Graves, a sprint-car racer who was a friend of Ward’s, was watching the race from the Turn 1 grandstands.

“I know Tony could see him. I know how you can see out of these cars,” Graves told the Sporting News. “When Tony got close to him, he hit the throttle. When you hit the throttle on a sprint car, the car sets sideways. It set sideways, the right rear tire hit Kevin, Kevin was sucked underneath and was stuck under it for a second or two and then it threw him about 50 yards.”

Stewart, 43, was questioned by authorities, who described him as “visibly shaken” but cooperative. Investigators worked to reconstruct the crash and asked for spectators to turn over photos and videos of the situation.

— NBA No. 1 draft pick Andrew Wiggins not only is OK with his pending trade from the Cavaliers to the Timberwolves, he would prefer it — at least according to his former college coach.

Kansas’ Bill Self claims Wiggins said he would be better off in a situation where he is being relied upon to lead the way, rather than playing second fiddle to the likes of LeBron James.

“When all this stuff started, I talked to Andrew and he Andrew told me, ‘I hope I get traded,’ ” Self said. “And I’m like, ‘No you don’t.’ And he said, ‘Coach, I do. It’s better for me, knowing my personality and what I need to do, to go somewhere where I’m forced to be something as opposed to going in there where they’re going to be patient with me and I’m going to be a piece.’ ”

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Read More: Andrew Wiggins, Bill Self, LeBron James, Linval Joseph

Luis Suarez appeals FIFA ban for biting, will receive verdict next week

08.08.14 at 12:54 pm ET
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Uruguay and Barcelona forward Luis Suarez appealed his FIFA ban Friday for biting an opponent at the World Cup, and will have a verdict by next week.

Suarez attended a six-hour hearing in front of a three-person panel before the Court of Arbitration for Sports. He’s pushing to reduce his four-month suspension from all soccer activity.

The panel said that it will come to a decision, “probably before the end of next week.”

Read More: Luis Suarez,

NCAA board gives 5 major conferences power to make rule changes

08.08.14 at 10:43 am ET
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The NCAA Board of Directors voted 16-2 Thursday to approve changes that will allow the five richest college football conference — the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — to have the power to change rules that have applied to Division 1 schools for years.

These conferences will now have the ability to make their own rules. However, paying athletes to pay will not be among those changes.

The handful of university presidents who spoke at NCAA headquarters after the vote agreed that pay-for-play will not be considered. They also said it’s unlikely the league will create their own policies when it comes to infractions.

Some changes can be expected, however. The five leagues will takes steps to add money to scholarships or create an athlete stipend intended to help cover the full cost of attending college beyond the typical expenses of tuition, room and board and books and supplies, which would result in an increase in spending by the five leagues.

“It does provide degrees of autonomy for the five high-resource conferences,” Wake Forest president Nathan Hatch said. “This is not complete autonomy. We’re still part of Division 1, but I think it allows us to provide more benefits to student-athletes.”

Read More: ncaa,

Soccer star Landon Donovan announces he will retire at end of season

08.08.14 at 10:12 am ET
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Los Angeles Galaxy star Landon Donovan announced Thursday that he will retire from professional soccer at the end of the MLS season.

Donovan, 32, is the top goal-scorer in MLS history and top scorer in U.S. national team history. He is a five-time MLS champion with the Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes.

“I think for the last few years, I haven’t had the same passion that I had previously in my career,” Donovan said at a press conference. “To some extent, I had felt obligated to keep playing. … It’s time to enjoy the rest of the season, and there would be no better way than to go out as a champion, so that’s what I want to do.”

Donovan took some extended time off following the Galaxy’s second straight MLS Cup in December 2012. He signed a multi-year contract extension with the Galaxy just last year.

Donovan said he plans travel extensively when his career ends this fall.

“It gets me excited thinking about it,” Donovan said. “For 16 years, almost every decision I’ve made, every hour of every day, has revolved around, ‘How is this going to prepare me for tomorrow’s training session or tomorrow’s game?’ Just having the freedom to do whatever you want is exciting, and I’m looking forward to that.”

Read More: Landon Donovan,

Mavericks G Raymond Felton suspended 4 games for gun charges

08.08.14 at 10:04 am ET
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The NBA suspended Mavericks guard Raymond Felton Thursday for the first four games of the season after he pleaded guilty in a New York gun case.

Felton pleaded guilty July 23 to attempted criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of a firearm in a case that arose last winter. He admitted to having a large-capacity ammunition magazine and a semi-automatic pistol without a license.

“I demonstrated poor judgment and I take full responsibility for my actions,” Felton said in a statement released by the Mavericks. “Moving forward I’m eager to get to Dallas, to start fresh and make a positive impact in the Dallas metropolitan area.”

Felton avoided jail time by admitting to the felony and accepting a sentence to 500 hours of community service and paying a $5,000 fine.

The Mavericks acquired Felton from the Knicks in a six-player trade June 25 that returned Tyson Chandler to Dallas.

Read More: Raymond Felton,

Kevin Durant withdraws from US national team

08.08.14 at 10:02 am ET
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Less than a week after a gruesome leg injury ended Paul George‘s run with the U.S. national team, and possibly his 2014-15 season, the American squad suffered yet another major setback.

Kevin Durant withdrew from the U.S. national team Thursday just weeks before the it heads to Spain for the World Cup of Basketball. The reigning NBA MVP took part in the team’s training camp in Las Vegas last week, but decided against playing in the international tournament.

“Kevin reached out to coach [Mike Krzyzewski] and myself this afternoon and expressed that he is just physically and mentally drained from the NBA season and his attention to his many responsibilities,” USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said in a statement. “He tried to give it a go at our recent Las Vegas training camp but felt coming out of camp that he was not prepared to fulfill the commitment he made to the team.”

Durant is the fifth player to withdraw from the team after Kevin Love, Blake GriffinLaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard all previously dropped out of the international competition.

“This was an extremely difficult decision as I take great pride in representing our country,” Durant said. “I know that I owe it to my USA Basketball teammates to be totally invested in the experience. After going through training camp with USAB, I realized I could not fulfill my responsibilities to the team from both a time and energy standpoint.

“I need to take a step back and take some time away, both mentally and physically in order to prepare for the upcoming NBA season. I will be rooting for USAB and look forward to future opportunities with them.”

The U.S. roster is down to 15 players. The Americans will be in Chicago next Thursday to resume practicing and whittle its roster down to 12 before the Aug. 30 tournament.

Read More: Kevin Durant,

ESPN suspends Dan Le Batard for LeBron James billboard

08.08.14 at 9:42 am ET
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ESPN suspended Dan Le Batard for two days after the television and radio host paid for billboards in Akron, Ohio, that read, “You’re Welcome, LeBron. Love, Miami” and featured the two championship rings LeBron James won with the Heat.

The billboards appeared to be mocking James’ first-person essay in Sports Illustrated announcing his return to the Cavaliers. James’ letter thanked many people, but not Miami fans, which inspired a response from Le Batard.

ESPN released a statement about the suspension Thursday.

“Dan LeBatard will be off the air for two days, returning Monday,” the statement read. “His recent stunt does not reflect ESPN’€™s standards and brand. Additionally, we were not made aware of his plans in advance.”

Read More: Dan Le Batard, LeBron James,

Brad Faxon on D&C: Problems with Tiger Woods’ swing leading to back issues

08.08.14 at 9:22 am ET
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Golfer Brad Faxon joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning to discuss Tiger Woods and the PGA Championship. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Woods shot a 3-over par 74 in the first round of the PGA Championship on Thursday less than a week after pulling out of the World Golf Championship with a back injury.

“There was a fascinating interview on the Golf Channel last night with Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee and Frank Nobilo really disputing whether Tiger is playing poorly because he’s hurt or whether he’s hurt because he’s swinging poorly,” Faxon said. “It’s a great debate. There’s probably going to be people on both sides of the fence. There’s no question in my mind whatever he’s doing with his swing is hurting his back. He didn’t hurt his back and then start playing poorly.”

Faxon said Woods’ motivation to play despite injury problems stems not only his pursuit of victories in major tournaments, but also in hopes of making an impression for the Ryder Cup team.

“If the listeners know, I thought he’d get to 18 [majors] in 10 years. It’s amazing to me,” Faxon said. “Tiger went down pretty hard last week at the World Golf Championship where he’s dominated and won eight times. This week he shows up on Wednesday, doesn’t tell anybody he’s coming and plays his practice round like he’s never been hurt before and shoots 74.

“There’s a case for shutting this down altogether. The other thing is, this is the last tournament before the Ryder Cup team is selected and Tiger probably wants to play on the team. He wants to show Tom Watson he’s there and able to play.”

Added Faxon: “This is a big day for him. He’s 3 over par, the cut is going to be around even par, maybe he has to shoot well into the 60s just to make the cut. He’s struggled hitting the ball, his sharpness around the greens is not there, nothing like it used to be.”

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Read More: Tiger Woods,

Friday’s Morning Mashup: Ravens fans welcome embattled RB Ray Rice with ovation

08.08.14 at 8:07 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 Angels, 10:05 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Rays at Cubs, 4 p.m. (WGN)
MLB: Cardinals at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. (MLB)
Little League Baseball: Mid-Atlantic semifinal, 11 a.m. (ESPN)
Little League Baseball: Midwest final, 1 p.m. (ESPN)
Little League Baseball: Mid-Atlantic semifinal, 3 p.m. (ESPN)
Little League Baseball: West semifinal, 5 p.m. (ESPN2)
Little League Baseball: Southeast final, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Little League Baseball: West semifinal, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
NFL preseason: Saints at Cardinals, 8 p.m. (NFL Network)
MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Los Angeles Galaxy, 10:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
Soccer: Women’s U-20, United States vs. Brazil, 9:45 p.m. (ESPNU)
Golf: PGA Championship, 1 p.m. (TNT)

AROUND THE WEB:

— Ravens running back Ray Rice made his preseason debut Thursday night against the 49ers, his first game action since being suspended for the first two games of the regular season because of his domestic violence incident, and he was warmly received by the fans in Baltimore.

Rice received a standing ovation during pregame introductions and was applauded again loudly after his first run. There were no audible boos. He only played one series in the game, carrying the ball three times and picking up 17 yards.

“Our fans are the best fans in the world,” Rice said. “I can’t thank them enough, No. 1, for sticking by me and supporting me throughout my trials and tribulations. I owe my best to these fans for giving me that kind of ovation. I’m looking forward to giving them the best effort that I can every week throughout the season.

“That means the world to me. Everything I went through, I don’t take anything for granted anymore, especially going out there and playing in front of our fans. It’s a lot of respect that I have to go out there and earn because of the position that I put myself in.”

Rice was arrested Feb. 15 after an altercation in an elevator at an Atlantic City hotel, which left his now-wife Janay Palmer unconscious. Rice pleaded not guilty and was accepted into a pretrial intervention program three months later. The league has come under heavy criticism for only giving Rice a two-game suspension (he was fined an additional game check as well).

MASHUP POLL: How should Ray Rice have been received by Ravens fans Thursday night?

  • They should have booed to send a message that his behavior is unacceptable (54%, 88 Votes)
  • They should have responded with silence (36%, 59 Votes)
  • The applause is fine, he plays for their team and it's reasonable for them to show support despite his troubles (10%, 15 Votes)

Total Voters: 162

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Off-field distractions aside, Rice enters the season with something to prove, as he is coming off the worst season of his six-year career, rushing for 660 yards and averaging 3.1 yards per carry as he battled hip and quadriceps injuries. He shed about 15 pounds in the offseason, getting down to 206, and he appears to have regained some of his quickness.

“I do feel different,” Rice said. “I guess it’s safe to say I feel like back when I was a rookie. That’s the weight I’m continuing to try to play at. Obviously, what I went through when I added a little bit of extra weight, you can’t make the cuts like you want to do.

“Training this offseason and focusing on the stuff that I needed to focus on, diet, exercise, all the stuff I needed to do, finally I got down to the weight I was comfortable at and went out there and executed.”

Metta World Peace, a.k.a. Ron Artest, is changing his name again, coinciding with his decision to play for the Sichuan Blue Whales in the Chinese Basketball Association this season.

After reports surfaced that he had selected Panda Friend, he clarified on Twitter that his Chinese name is The Pandas Friend.

A few days earlier, he hinted where his mind was when he tweeted: First thing I am doing when I get to china will be visiting Pandas with my daughter.

World Peace, 34, will be the highest-paid player in the CBA this season, earning $1.43 million. He last played in the NBA with his hometown Knicks.

— Former Boston College and Patriots offensive lineman Damien Woody, now an ESPN analyst, will be a contestant on the NBC weight-loss show “The Biggest Loser” when the new season begins next month.

The 36-year-old father of seven is up to 388 pounds four years after retiring from the game. H’ll be the fourth-heaviest of the show’s 20 contestants.

Woody played for the Patriots from 1999-2003, winning two Super Bowls. He also played for the Lions (2004-07) and Jets (2007-10).

Woody will be joined on the show by former NFL quarterback Scott Mitchell, former women’s tennis player Zina Garrison and former WNBA player Vanessa Hayden.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Aug. 8, 2004, which Red Sox pitcher allowed a team-record six home runs but still got the win in an 11-9 victory over the Tigers?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “€œLosing like that is never fun, but it is a good experience for the first preseason game and I had fun out there I did all right. There is a lot of stuff to improve on. It is a process. For any rookie quarterback, there is a lot to learn from and we will go watch the tape tomorrow and fix those things.” – Rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, after completing 9-of-13 passes for 157 yards in the Patriots’ 23-6 preseason loss to Washington

STAT OF THE DAY: 27 – Consecutive at-bats without a hit for Jackie Bradley Jr., who went 0-for-3 in Thursday’s 5-2 loss to the Cardinals

‘NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos): Bryce Harper homers in the 13th inning to give the Nationals a walkoff win over the Mets.

Cubs rookie Javier Baez has made an immediate impact, hitting two home runs off the Rockies in just his third major league game.

Marlins pitcher Dan Jennings is out on his feet after taking a line drive to the head against the Pirates. Jennings was kept at a hospital overnight for observation.

Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira‘s latest edition of his humorous talk show “Foul Territory” includes an interview with center fielder Brett Gardner and Teixeira reminiscing about making mixtapes for girls in high school.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Tim Wakefield

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Creed lead singer Scott Stapp was born on this day in 1973.

Read More: Damien Woody, Metta World Peace, Ray Rice, The Pandas Friend

Report: Kevin Love trade to Cavaliers finalized after he agrees to re-sign next offseason

08.07.14 at 10:12 am ET
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According to a Yahoo! Sports report crediting league sources, the speculated trade of Kevin Love from the Timberwolves to the Cavaliers has been completed, with Love agreeing to re-sign with Cleveland next summer when he becomes a free agent.

Love reportedly will sign a five-year, $120 million-plus contract with the Cavs next offseason.

The Cavs will send Minnesota the last two No. 1 overall draft picks, Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, along with a protected 2015 first-round draft pick.

Because draft picks cannot be traded for 30 days after they sign, the deal will not be official until Aug. 23.

The report indicates the Cavaliers were motivated in part from a fear that Love would otherwise be traded to the Bulls. Instead, Love, a 25-year-old, three-time All-Star who averaged 26 points and 12.5 rebounds last season, will join LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in Cleveland to form a team that will be the favorite to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.

Read More: Andrew Wiggins, Kevin Love,