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Thinking Out Loud: Cardinals in hack of a controversy

06.19.15 at 11:53 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering it would be like if the Patriots were accused of hacking another team’s computers.

— Thank you, St. Louis Cardinals. No explanation necessary, really. Just thanks.

— Maybe if the Red Sox started hacking into computers, they could figure out a way to become competitive again. Just sayin’.

— The Cardinals hacking into the Houston Astros‘ computers — sounds like a pretty good way to sell tickets to that St. Louis-Houston series this summer, doesn’t it?

— Better yet, could someone ask the Cardinals to hack into the All-Star Game database and remove all Kansas City Royals players from the American League roster?

— Hackgate? Who made up the rule that every major controversial sports story must have the “gate” suffix attached to it? How many people alive actually remember 43 years ago what Watergate was all about in the first place, and that it had zero to do with sports?

— Of course, around here (and in Rhode Island, especially) politics are every bit as competitive — and conniving — as sports are. No major league sports in R.I.? Try spending a day inside the State House as a politician, an aide or a lobbyist.

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Brad Faxon on D&C: Tiger Woods must ‘fix what’s inside his head’

06.19.15 at 10:47 am ET
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Fox Sports golf analyst Brad Faxon appeared on Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning to talk about Tiger Woods and the rest of the U.S. Open field. To listen to the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Woods struggled mightily in the first round at Chambers Bay, shooting a 10-over 80 and placing third-to-last on the 156-man leaderboard. Woods needs to make significant changes in order to return to a high level of play, Faxon says.

“Tiger’s at that point where he just doesn’t look like he’s happy with himself on the golf course. I think he can’t just take two months off and say, ‘Yeah, things’ll be better.’ He’s got to fix what’s inside his head, between his ears,” Faxon said.

According to Faxon, the necessary changes to Woods’ game are almost entirely mental ones.

“It’s not a position that he’s got to get better, it’s a swing that has to go back to what you were like when you were a child when it was carefree, it didn’t involve doubt and fear,” Faxon said.

Faxon expressed shock with the rapid free fall of one of golf’s greats.

“I think all of us are in disbelief,” he said. “If you went back to ’08 when he won his last major at Torrey Pines, I don’t think we’d ever have imagined being in this position where we felt so bad for … [one of] the greatest athlete[s] of our generation.”

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Read More: Brad Faxon, Tiger Woods, US Open,

Friday’s Morning Mashup: Cavaliers coach David Blatt plays down report of rift with LeBron James

06.19.15 at 8:01 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 Royals, 8:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Tigers at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
Golf: U.S. Open, noon (FS1), 8 p.m. (Fox)

AROUND THE WEB:

David Blatt

David Blatt

Cavaliers coach David Blatt played down an ESPN report that LeBron James is frequently dismissive and rude to him — even while Blatt is instructing the team during games — and said that he “absolutely” plans to return next season.

“People sometimes judge things on a game or on a period of time and they forget that we’re in there working together and striving to make the utmost of our team and of our situation day to day,” Blatt said Thursday, “and a bond develops over time that is a lot more than what meets the eye.”

Blatt acknowledged that he adjusted his coaching style to work with James, who carried the team to the sixth game of the NBA Finals.

“Absolutely, yes,” Blatt said. “He is a galvanizing player. He is our best player. He’s the league’s best player. He’s a winner. He’s a proven champion. I think it’s important that he feels empowered and at the same time that he knows that he’s very much a part of this team. He’s exhibited that, and always put the team’s success beyond his.

“Now if he has felt that he has something to say and wants to impose his will in terms of influencing in a positive way on those around him, that’s a good thing. That’s a good thing for all, and I certainly encourage that and certainly respected the fact that LeBron’s heart was in the right place.”

General manager David Griffin supported his coach — and he noted that James did publicly as well, telling the media two weeks ago that Blatt had done “a hell of a job.” Griffin dismissed the constant stream of negative press directed at Blatt.

“It never has to go away because it’s all conjecture,” Griffin said. “So I think one thing David did as well as anybody I’ve ever seen, and I wish I did better, was just ignore the noise from the media perspective. Because frankly, none of that means anything. We know what actually takes place here.”

— The Nationals got a scare Thursday when right fielder Bryce Harper went down while making a throw to home plate in the sixth inning of their game against the Rays.

Harper ran in to pick up single and planted on the damp grass to throw home, but his throw went wild and he fell to the ground in pain. He limped off the field, favoring his left knee. The team later said he had a strained hamstring and would be evaluated Friday.

“I’ve had problems with my left knee before — I’ve had surgery on it,” Harper said. “So you know, it was definitely really scary.”

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Read More: Bryce Harper, David Blatt, Dez Bryant, LeBron James

Attorney: ‘100 percent confident’ hacking situation not Cardinals’ upper management doing

06.18.15 at 11:32 am ET
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Following an internal review, an attorney hired by the Cardinals said Wednesday that high-level executives of the organization were not involved in hacking the Astros’ player personnel database.

Jim Martin, an attorney for the Dowd Bennett firm that the Cardinals retained several months ago, told the Associated Press that he is “100 percent confident that this does not touch upper management and does not involve people like [general manager] John Mozeliak and [team president] Bill DeWitt.”

It was disclosed this week that the FBI is investigating whether the Cardinals hacked into the Astros’ system for tracking players and prospects, though Mozeliak said he and the organization have been conscious of the investigation for a few months.

He also stressed on Wednesday that the scandal is “not something that [he] was aware of or DeWitt was aware of.”

“In no way did it help inform any of our decisions,” he added.

Mozeliak also said that while the situation isn’t great news for the organization, it “shouldn’t be something that tarnishes what these gentlemen [the Cardinals] do on the field.”

Former head of the Cardinals’ scouting and player development department, Jeff Lunhow, was named general manager of the Astros in December 2011 and has not commented on the situation this week. Last year, however, he said the Astros were working alongside the FBI as well as with MLB security in order to figure out who was behind the hack after it was first reported in June 2014.

Though the FBI declined to confirm the investigation, the AP was told that federal authorities are trying to see if members of the Cardinals were responsible for the “breach” of the Astros database, as Major League Baseball referred to it. And while there were no implications of how many employees are being investigated, Martin’s comments were the first to give the impression that the offense might have been committed by just the lower levels of the organization.

“These are serious allegations that don’t reflect who we are as an organization,” DeWitt told the AP. “We are committed to getting to the bottom of this matter as soon as possible, and if anyone within our organization is determined to be involved in anything inappropriate, they will be held accountable.”

Read More: Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals,

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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Read More: FIFA, Johnny Manziel,

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,