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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Browns QB Johnny Manziel accepts responsibility for off-field embarrassments, ‘trying to close that chapter in my life’

06.18.15 at 8:09 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: Red Sox at Braves, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Cardinals at Twins, 1:10 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Brewers at Royals, 8:10 p.m. (FS1)
MLB: Rangers at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m. (MLB Network)
Golf: U.S. Open, noon (FS1), 8 p.m. (Fox)

AROUND THE WEB:

Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel

— Johnny Manziel, speaking publicly for the first time since his rehab stint earlier this offseason, said he plans to make some changes in his life after a series of embarrassing off-field issues during his rookie season with the Browns.

Manziel thanked the media for respecting his privacy and acknowledged members of the Browns organization who “helped me out through a difficult time.”

“At the end of the day, everything that happened last year is not on anybody else but myself,” he told reporters after the team’s second minicamp practice in Berea, Ohio. “I guess I wasn’t prepared to handle the type of spotlight that I got, and all the hype that came with it.”

Added Manziel: “I think at times Johnny Football probably took over me a little bit and I bought into that. I didn’t do my best to hush things down, push down the hype. At times I welcomed it with immaturity and just accepted that a little bit — and that’s my fault.”

Manziel said he plans to stop making the money sign with his fingers after a big play, as he has done since his Heisman Trophy-winning days at Texas A&M.

“The money sign will not be back,” he said. “I will not be making it out there.”

Manziel has moved from his downtown Cleveland apartment to a golf community, saying he’s “trying to get back to my roots and who I really am as a person.” He acknowledged being selfish and irresponsible and putting his teammates in an awkward position of having to answer question about his distractions, and he insisted he is “doing the right things and taking the right steps necessary for me to put myself in the best position possible to be exactly what this organization drafted me to be.”

Said Manziel: “I’m trying to close that chapter in my life — not one that I’m very proud of.”

— The Warriors returned to Oakland on Wednesday, a day after beating the Cavaliers to win the franchise’s first NBA championship since 1975, and were welcomed by more than 100 team employees outside a private airplane terminal.

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Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Ravens LB Terrell Suggs surprisingly supports Tom Brady, plays down Deflategate

06.17.15 at 8:08 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 Braves, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Rays at Nationals, 7:05 p.m. (ESPN2)
Soccer: Women’s World Cup, Mexico vs. France, 4 p.m. (Fox)
Soccer: Women’s World Cup, England vs. Colombia, 4 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: Women’s World Cup, Costa Rica vs. Brazil, 7 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

— Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs rarely misses an opportunity to take a shot at Tom Brady — on and off the field. However, Suggs was surprisingly supportive of the Patriots quarterback when asked about Brady’s legacy following the QB’s four-game suspension for his role in Deflategate and his failure to cooperate with the league’s investigation.

“The guy is a winner,” Suggs said Tuesday (via The Baltimore Sun). “He’s won with whatever kind of personnel that he’s had. So I don’t think it really tarnished it. You need something to write about. Everybody needs something to write about, needs something to talk about, I guess. There’s is that. Ours was the deer antler [controversy involving Ray Lewis three years ago]. It’s always something.”

Last month, Suggs was spotted by TMZ leaving a Beverly Hills restaurant and was a little more willing to tweak the Pats over Deflategate, noting, “The last coach that got caught cheating got suspended for a whole year. So …”

This time, however, the normally outspoken Suggs said he didn’t want to wade into this controversy.

“I’m not stepping into that,” he said Tuesday. “I’m leaving that alone.”

— Michael Sam remains on the suspended list of the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes after leaving the team over the weekend, with no immediate resolution in sight.

Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team, reportedly was struggling in Montreal’s training camp, leading to speculation that he left because he was afraid he would be cut.

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Read More: alex rodriguez, Michael Sam, Terrell Suggs, Tom Brady

Report: FBI investigating Cardinals for hacking Astros’ internal networks

06.16.15 at 11:18 am ET
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According to a New York Times report, the FBI is investigating the Cardinals for hacking into the internal networks of the Astros to steal closely guarded information about player personnel.

The report says the Cardinals got a hold of a network which housed special databases the team had built. Internal discussions about trades, proprietary statistics and scouting reports were compromised.

Major League Baseball “€œhas been aware of and has fully cooperated with the federal investigation into the illegal breach of the Astros’€™ baseball operations database,”€ a spokesman for baseball’€™s commissioner, Rob Manfred, said in a written statement to the paper.

It is believed the hacking stemmed from vengeful front-office employees for the Cardinals hoping to “wreak havoc” on the work of general manager Jeff Luhnow, who is now with the Astros after being in the Cardinals’ organization until 2011.

No Cardinals team employees have been disciplined for the matter as of now.

Read More: Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals,

Padres fire manager Bud Black in middle of ninth season

06.16.15 at 9:28 am ET
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With a 32-34 record and sitting in fourth place in the NL West, the Padres fired manager Bud Black on Monday.

Following an offseason spending spree never-before-seen from the Padres, expectations were high in San Diego entering 2015. However, general manager A.J. Preller believes the team is underachieving and has enough time to turn the season around.

“This team is not bottoming out or playing poorly,” Preller said Monday. “Just too much inconsistency. We have not played to the level we are capable of.”

This was Black’s ninth year managing the Padres. During his tenure, the Padres never made the playoffs and he compiled a record of 649-713, good for a .477 winning percentage. Black’s best season came in 2010, when he led the Padres in a captivating late-season turnaround to a 90-72 record, earning him National League Manager of the Year honors.

Preller admitted that it took him a couple weeks to make the decision, but he considers it best for the team.

“It wasn’t one magic thing. I made the decision last night and I slept on it,” he said. “At the end of the day, this was the direction we wanted to go. I’ve evaluated him overall for eight months when I was looking at everything. I’ve seen inconsistencies, ups and downs.”

Preller will interview candidates for the interim manager position over the next two days. In the meantime, former Padres outfielder and current bench coach Dave Roberts will manage the team. Roberts as well as Triple-A El Paso manager Pat Murphy will interview for the job, along with some other internal candidates.

Pitcher James Shields defended Black, setting more of the blame on the players and urging his team to work harder.

“The way that Buddy ran the ship around here was fine,” Shields said. “We respect him as a manager and a man. As players, we’ve got to do a better job. It’s up to us as players to figure it out, try not to put blame on anybody.”

Read More: Bud Black, Dave Roberts, san diego padres,

Adrian Peterson wants to break Emmitt Smith’s rushing record

06.16.15 at 8:55 am ET
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Despite missing nearly all of 2014, Adrian Peterson remains optimistic about breaking the all-time NFL rushing record of 18,355 rushing yards set by Emmitt Smith.

“I don’€™t think it’€™s impossible,” he told the Pioneer Press during Adrian Peterson Day in Palestine, Texas, on Saturday. “A lot of things are still to come. … I look at things that anything is possible. He played 15 years. I’€™m going into year nine but I’€™ve only got eight on the body. That’€™s a long-term goal (to break the record).”

The Vikings running back currently sits at 10,190 career rushing yards to begin his age-30 season. However, he believes that he’s capable of playing seven or eight more years in the league, which is unprecedented longevity for a running back. In order to break the record, Peterson would have to average 1,021 yards per season over the next eight years.

“I think I can play (past Smith’s retirement age of 35),” Peterson said. “I’m blessed with tremendous talent and recovery and everything, so I feel like I’ll be able to play as long as I want. … I want to play seven more (years). Eight. I really feel that I can be 38 out there and still be the best running back in the NFL.”

In addition to Smith’s record, Peterson also alleged that he has the ability to break Eric Dickerson‘s single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards. Meanwhile, Vikings running back coach Kirby Wilson told Marc Sessler last week that he wants the veteran tailback to have a more “balanced workload,” perhaps leading to fewer carries in 2015.

Peterson’s wife, Ashley, still believes her husband’s season goal is attainable.

“I’d say 2,200 yards (this season),” she said of her husband’s goals in 2015. “I think he can definitely do it. His mind-set is totally different than anybody I’ve ever met. He’s very determined; he’s very strong-minded; he’s very strong-willed. I think he has a goal in mind and he’s not going to stop until he reaches that goal. … I think he’s going to go out there and surprise a lot of doubters and the naysayers.”

Read More: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings,

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Stanley Cup arrives late to Blackhawks’ party

06.16.15 at 8:14 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: Braves at Red Sox, 4:05 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Mariners at Giants, 3:45 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Nationals at Rays, 7:10 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Diamondbacks at Angels, 10:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA: Finals, Warriors at Cavaliers, 9 p.m. (ABC; WEEI-AM)
Soccer: Women’s World Cup, Nigeria vs. United States, 8 p.m. (Fox)
Soccer: Women’s World Cup, Ecuador vs. Japan, 5 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: Women’s World Cup, Australia vs. Sweden, 8 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

— The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup with Monday’s Game 6 win over the Lightning, but when the game ended there was no Stanley Cup in the building.

Due in part to flooding and road closures in Chicago, the Cup was late to the party. It left its hotel outside the city at puck drop, but even a police escort that reportedly reached speeds of 100 mph couldn’t get it to the United Center on time.

“Mother Nature was not a hockey fan tonight,” Cup supervisor Phil Pritchard told ESPN.com.

The Cup eventually arrived about 10 minutes after the Blackhawks closed out their 2-0 victory, and the players were able to celebrate with it in the usual fashion, parading it around the ice.

While the Blackhawks have won three championships in the past six seasons, this marked the first time they have clinched the title at home since 1938. Coincidentally, when Chicago won in 1938, the Cup was not there — reportedly having been kept in Toronto in anticipation of the heavily favored Maple Leafs winning the series.

— The Warriors are looking to close out the NBA Finals in Tuesday night’s Game 6 against the injury-depleted Cavaliers, and one of the topics of discussion over the past couple of days has been: Will LeBron James win the MVP even if his team loses?

The last losing player to win a Finals MVP was Jerry West, after his Lakers lost to the Celtics in 1969, and James appears poised to become the next — unless he can lead a Cleveland resurgence, or unless Warriors star Steph Curry has a huge closeout game to make up for his mid-series struggles.

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Read More: Chuck Blazer, LeBron James, stanley cup,

Monday’s Morning Mashup: Despite Cavaliers’ Game 5 loss, LeBron James ‘confident because I’m the best player in the world’

06.15.15 at 8:07 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: Braves at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN, ESPN; WEEI-FM)
NHL: Stanley Cup Final, Lightning at Blackhawks, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
Soccer: Women’s World Cup, Thailand vs. Germany, 4 p.m. (Fox)
Soccer: Women’s World Cup, Ivory Coast vs. Norway, 4 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: Women’s World Cup, Netherlands vs. Canada, 7:30 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

— The Cavaliers have lost two straight to the Warriors in the NBA Finals, including a 104-91 loss in Sunday’s Game 5 that has them in a 3-2 hole, but LeBron James remains convinced he can turn things around.

“I feel confident because I’m the best player in the world,” he said after Sunday’s loss. “It’s that simple.”

James finished Sunday’s game with a triple-double: 40 points on 15-of-34 shooting, 14 rebounds and 11 assists — all game highs. It’s the third game this series he’s scored at least 40 points, and it was the second-highest-scoring triple double in Finals history. During one 22-minute stretch starting in the first quarter, James scored or assisted on 17 consecutive Cleveland baskets.

However, despite playing every position for the undermanned Cavaliers, James was unable to carry Cleveland to victory. Although he is averaging 36.6 points, 12.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists in the series, James said he can do more as the Finals shifts to Cleveland for Tuesday’s Game 6.

“I don’t put a ceiling on what I’m capable of doing,” James said. “I know I’m shouldering a lot of the burden, but it is what it is.”

The last team to overcome a 3-2 Finals deficit and win a title was James’ Heat team in 2013 against the Spurs (helped by Ray Allen‘s series-saving 3-pointer in Game 6).

“We’ve got enough to win it,” James said. “We protect home, we come here [back to Oakland for Friday’s Game 7]. We’ll worry about Tuesday first. But it we protect home like we’re capable of doing, we force a Game 7.”

— Sepp Blatter reportedly is reconsidering his decision to step down as FIFA president, and, as expected, that’s not being received well in soccer circles.

Domenico Scala, who as head of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee has been tasked with overseeing the election for Blatter’s successor, said new leadership is crucial following the investigations into widespread corruption in the organization, as FIFA attempts to “regain the trust of the public.”

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Read More: LeBron James, Sepp Blatter,

Thinking Out Loud: ‘Patriot Way’ or the highway

06.12.15 at 10:39 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened with Hope Solo’s domestic violence case?

— A poster boy candidate for “talk is cheap” has to be now-former New England linebacker Brandon Spikes. After his mea maxima culpa in repairing whatever fences needed mending with the Patriots, he left his car on the side of I-495 in Foxboro last weekend after hitting “something.” Like maybe, another car? There were no dead deer found in the vicinity, either. He’s been cited by police for speeding, negligent driving and leaving the scene of an accident. So … what are we left to believe? The Patriots didn’t wait to find out, and cut bait. Stupid is as stupid does.

— And Malcolm Butler was late for an optional, non-mandatory (wink, wink) practice. You might think being asked to sit out a few OTA sessions was a bit harsh, but here’s reality — it’s not. Not when you consider Bill Belichick‘s track record on internal discipline, or have you forgotten a running back named Jonas Gray?

— Not for nuthin’, but BB’s discipline wasn’t so much aimed at Butler as it was aimed toward EVERY OTHER Patriots player. Brandon Spikes sure learned the hard way — then again, he may have done something really dumb. No one is immune to being disciplined, not even Super Bowl heroes. Childish? Depends on your point of view. It’s simply a part of the mystique that goes into what you’ve heard called “The Patriot Way.”

— I’m of the opinion the Patriots had a group session in the offseason on how to answer questions by saying absolutely nothing. Or, saying the exact same thing. They’ve all become Belichick’s Stepford Patriots. Google the term “Stepford” and you’ll get the meaning. Every answer to every question by the media in this offseason, it seems, has led back to, “We’re just working hard and trying to be the best we can be on the field.”

— Just once, I’d love to see one of the Stepford Patriots have a good, old-fashioned meltdown of a hissy fit. You know, the kind where cheeks get red and puffy and tears come pouring out like they came from a 5-year-old? Yeah, that would give us something to talk about for a while, and probably earn the player a ticket out of town with a lifetime of embarrassment to follow. But I’ll wager more than just a few players and coaches have at least thought about it.

— New tight end Scott Chandler was visibly nervous when answering questions from a media mob this past week, like he was afraid to say the wrong thing. Even Rob Gronkowski, taping a “Celebrity Family Feud” episode that will appear later this month, couldn’t offer an answer to, “Name something you can inflate or deflate.” His response? “I can’t even answer that.”

— Does this mean we’re witnessing the end of “Yo soy fiesta?” Say it ain’t so, Gronk!

— Did anyone see Patriots owner Robert Kraft quoted on ProFootballTalk.com this week on TB12’s suspension? “It’s our hope that opening game here, we’ll have the privilege of having everyone who deserves to be on the field starting that game. I know that’s what our fans want and that’s what we want.” Translation: “I know something you don’t know!”

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Friday’s Morning Mashup: FIFA ‘perplexed’ by European Parliament resolution calling for Sepp Blatter to leave post

06.12.15 at 8:00 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: Blue Jays at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Royals at Cardinals, 8 p.m. (MLB Network)
Soccer: Women’s World Cup, United States vs. Sweden, 8 p.m. (Fox)
Soccer: Women’s World Cup, Australia vs. Nigeria, 5 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: Women’s World Cup, Switzerland vs. Ecuador, 7 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: Women’s World Cup, Japan vs. Cameroon, 10 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer; UEFA European qualifying, Italy at Croatia, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

Sepp Blatter

Sepp Blatter

— FIFA president Sepp Blatter, apparently unable to grasp the enormity of the situation facing world soccer’s governing body, insisted Thursday that despite the issues he is “all the more proud that our organization runs smoothly in a crisis.” This came on the same day communications director (and Blatter confidant) Walter De Gregorio left his post three days after he repeated a joke about FIFA corruption on a TV show, and the European Parliament urged Blatter to vacate his post for an interim leader.

Blatter has said he will leave when a replacement is named, and it was announced Thursday that FIFA’s executive committee will meet July 20 in Zurich to set a date for the election of Blatter’s successor — which won’t come until at least December.

On Monday, De Gregorio, appearing on a German-language TV program, was asked to tell his favorite joke about FIFA. De Gregorio responded by saying he was in a car with Blatter and FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke, so who was driving? “The police,” he said.

Although De Gregorio is out as communications director, FIFA said he would remain as a consultant until the end of the year.

The European Parliament, meeting in France, passed a resolution encouraging Blatter to depart soon and urged its member states to “cooperate fully with all ongoing and future investigations on corrupt practices within FIFA.”

Responded the Zurich-based soccer organization: “FIFA is perplexed by the European Parliament’s resolution.”

— Eagles coach Chip Kelly showed his Bill Belichick side once again this offseason, reportedly releasing Evan Mathis on Thursday after the two-time Pro Bowl guard skipped all of this spring’s voluntary practices because of a contract dispute.

Mathis, who started 56 games during his four seasons in Philadelphia, was due to make $5.5 million this year and $6 million next year.

Tweeted Mathis on Thursday afternoon: Thanks for the memories Philly.

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Read More: Andy Lee, Chip Kelly, Evan Mathis, FIFA

Report: Cubs, Blue Jays have spoken to Phillies about trade for Jonathan Papelbon

06.11.15 at 9:25 am ET
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Closer Jonathan Papelbon has drawn interest from the Cubs and Blue Jays, according to Ken Rosenthal, and the Phillies seem likely to trade him.

Since Papelbon is making more than $8 million for the remainder of the year and has a $13 million option for next season that will vest if he finishes 26 more games than the 22 he’s already completed, Rosenthal noted both the Jays and Cubs would like to get away with paying as little as possible for the closer financially as well as prospects, but talks are at an “impasse.”

After the Phillies spoke with Toronto late last week, they began more intently scouting the Blue Jays’ minor league affiliates, and “the sense among the industry,” according to Rosenthal, is that Philadelphia would prefer the Jays swap over one with Chicago.

Papelbon, who has a no-trade clause and can refuse a deal if he desires, expressed his willingness during spring training to try a a trade to Toronto.

“Yes, Toronto interests me — if it interests [Phillies general manager] Ruben [Amaro Jr.],” Papelbon told CSN Philadelphia. “I know some of the guys on their coaching staff. They’re a good team. If Ruben can do a deal with them, I’d be interested.”

But, the Cubs could still have a chance at reuniting Papelbon with Theo Epstein, than man who drafted him with the Red Sox in 2003. The Cubs picked up free agent righty Rafael Soriano in part because they’re trying to build up as many late-inning options as they can.

“While Epstein and Hoyer know that Papelbon occasionally is brash and outspoken, they also know that players respect his work habits and competitive spirit — and that he likely would not be a distraction in manager Joe Maddon‘s clubhouse,” Rosenthal wrote.

Papelbon is an unblemished 12-for-12 in save situations this year, posting a 1.13 ERA with 29 strikeouts, six walks and one home run over 24 innings. He was 39-for-43 last season with a 2.04 ERA, striking out 64, walking 15 and surrendering just two home runs in 66 1/3 frames.

Read More: Jonathan Papelbon,