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Monday’s Morning Mashup: Mexican soccer player Alan Pulido rescued after kidnapping

05.30.16 at 8:17 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Red Sox at Orioles, 1:35 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: White Sox at Mets, 1:10 p.m. (ESPN)
MLB: Twins at Athletics, 4:05 p.m. (ESPN)
MLB: Yankees at Blue Jays, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA playoffs: Thunder at Warriors, 9 p.m. (TNT)
Stanley Cup Final: Sharks at Penguins, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
Lacrosse: NCAA championship, North Carolina vs. Maryland, 1 p.m. (ESPN2)
Tennis: French Open, 11 a.m. (NBC)


Alan Pulido is safe after being rescued following his kidnapping. (David Banks/USA Today Sports)

Alan Pulido is safe after being rescued following his kidnapping. (David Banks/USA Today Sports)

— Mexican soccer player Alan Pulido made an appearance before the media Sunday night, hours after being rescued by government forces from kidnappers in his hometown of Ciudad Victoria in the troubled state of Tamaulipas.

The 25-year-old striker, a member of Mexico’s 2014 World Cup team who plays professionally for Olympiakos, held a press conference outside a hospital, wearing a bandage on his right hand.

“I’m very well, thanks to God,” he said.

Pulido reportedly had been kidnapped after leaving a party late Saturday night, as masked men surrounded his car and took him away while his girlfriend was left unharmed. State and federal forces launched an aggressive response and retrieved Pulido on Sunday, with one suspect arrested.

Tamaulipas, which borders the southernmost part of Texas, has one of the world’s highest kidnapping rates, with hundreds — possibly thousands — held for ransom each year.

Pulido formerly played for the Mexican club Tigres. He left in 2014 to play in Europe, but he has been locked in a dispute with Tigres about his contract. He was left off Mexico’s Copa America team due to the legal issues.

— While police continue to investigate the shooting death of Pelicans rookie Bryce Dejean-Jones, his agent said it was a case of “wrong place, wrong time.”

Dejean-Jones was visiting his girlfriend in Dallas and went for a walk early Saturday morning. When he returned, he went to the wrong apartment, agent Scott W. Nichols said. Dejean-Jones kicked down the front door, then started kicking at the bedroom door. The resident, inside the bedroom, took out a handgun and shot Dejean-Jones, who was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

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Thinking Out Loud: Ben Bentil’s decision to remain in NBA draft leaves hole at Providence

05.27.16 at 11:24 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to Dave Stapleton.

— It’s very hard to root against someone in search of their dream, but count me among those believing Ben Bentil’s decision to enter the NBA draft as premature. Could he use more time at the college level? Of course. This is the problem inherent in the pro game these days — a lot of players just aren’t “ready” for the skills needed to be a long-term, consistently productive pro.

— This being said, Bentil has worked out well for several teams and had a great combine, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that he’s now mentioned as a first-round possibility. Hopefully, someone sees his potential and signs him to a multiyear contract. We’ve seen this before around here, or have you forgotten Ricky Ledo and God Shammgod?

— I will say this: Providence has never had two first-rounders selected in the same year, so I’ll be rooting for that come draft day. A program first like that one certainly would stand out on the recruiting trail for Ed Cooley and his staff.

— And in case you needed a reminder, this is what it’s like for a college basketball blue blood. Wanna be like Duke, Kentucky and Kansas? Get used to losing players before their eligibility expires. The tough part is reloading. For true blue bloods, it’s simply, “Next man up.”

— It seems as if each of the past few offseasons, the Friars have had a need for new players to emerge, and so far they’ve managed to do just that. Consider the losses — Marshon Brooks, Bryce Cotton, LaDontae Henton, Carson Desrosiers, Tyler Harris, Kris Dunn and now Bentil — and each time a player emerges to be just what the program needs.

— My money is on Rodney Bullock to be the all-conference player PC needs him to be in order to have a shot at the postseason again. Jalen Lindsay, Kyron Cartwright and Emmitt Holt also will need to contribute in a major way. Hard to expect too much out of newcomers (Holt being a transfer), but Isaiah Jackson also will need to figure prominently for Providence to pick up next season where it left off this past March.

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Friday’s Morning Mashup: Ravens bring in former RB Ray Rice to advise rookies

05.27.16 at 8:20 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Red Sox at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Dodgers at Mets, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA playoffs: Cavaliers at Raptors, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
WNBA: Dream at Wings, 8:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
Soccer: Exhibition, England vs. Australia, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)


Ray Rice

Ray Rice

— The Ravens apparently wanted to make sure their rookies understood the importance of staying out of trouble, so the team called in the one player most likely to get the young players’ attention: Ray Rice.

The former Ravens running back, who has been out of the league since video emerged of him punching out his then-fiancee in a hotel elevator in February 2014, lectured the team’s rookis Wednesday in his advisory role.

According to a story on the team’s website, Rice “made a terrible mistake” that caused him to be suspended and then released by the Ravens, who have since “dedicated themselves to the cause of domestic violence awareness and education.”

Explained the team in a statement: “Our 27 sessions to our rookies through our player engagement program review and teach life management and life lessons. Rice, who played for the Ravens from 2008-2014, delivered an important message that included his story, both the good and the bad. He clearly had the attention of our rookies.”

Owner Steve Biscotti indicated after the team released Rice in September 2014 that he believed Rice could help guide the younger players.

“I believe in my heart that Ray would be a great addition to us when it comes to trying to steer these guys from young men to grown men,” Biscotti said then.

— Alex Rodriguez returned to the Yankees on Thursday after a stint on the disabled list, and he picked right up where he left off, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in New York’s 3-1 loss to the visiting Blue Jays.

The Yankees wasted a strong performance from CC Sabathia in losing for the second game in a row after a six-game winning streak.

“Definitely a missed opportunity at home,” Rodriguez said. “Anytime that our big guy gives us seven strong, two runs, we should win those games.”

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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Jets WR Eric Decker reportedly skips OTAs in support of unsigned Ryan Fitzpatrick

05.26.16 at 8:14 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Rockies at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Marlins at Rays, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Cardinals at Nationals, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA playoffs: Thunder at Warriors, 9 p.m. (TNT)
NHL playoffs: Lightning at Penguins, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)


Eric Decker

Eric Decker

— Jets receiver Eric Decker commented earlier this month that the AFC East — which the Patriots have dominated the past decade and a half — is “up for grabs,” and the Jets are “ready to make the run now.”

That was before he elected to skip New York’s voluntary OTAs this week, reportedly in protest of the fact that the team has not re-signed quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

The cash-strapped Jets have been negotiating with Fitzpatrick for a while but have yet to reach an agreement, despite Fitzpatrick’s optimism that it will happen.

Last week, Decker showed some of his frustration in an interview with Sirius XM NFL Radio, saying he felt like the drawn-out negotiations were some kind of prank.

“We’re waiting for that day. It’s like April Fool’s, wondering when he’s coming back,” Decker joked. “All I have to say is we have to move on without him right now. They’re stuck where they are. It’s a business decision. Where do they want to go with the money? Who’s going to break?

“We have a job to do and that’s to field the best football team with who we have in the locker room right now. I have a lot of respect for Ryan Fitzpatrick, but we don’t have a ton of time left. We’re all getting older.”

Meanwhile, Geno Smith, the likely starter if Fitzpatrick does not return, became annoyed with questions about the unsigned veteran. Speaking to reporters after the team’s second OTA practice Wednesday, Smith made it clear he had no interest discussing Fitzpatrick’s situation.

“That’s up to the front office,” he said. “Why would I speak on that.”

— Bills general manager Doug Whaley backtracked Wednesday, one day after questioning what football does to players’ bodies.

During an interview Tuesday morning on Buffalo radio station WGR 550, Whaley was responding to a question about whether Bills receiver Sammy Watkins is injury-prone, and he replied, “This is the game of football. Injuries are part of it. It’s a violent game that I personally don’t think humans are supposed to play.”

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Read More: alex rodriguez, Doug Whaley, erick Decker, Ryan Fitzpatrick

Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Comedian Jim Breuer says Patriots staffer at center of Deflategate is angry at organization

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

MLB: Rockies at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Mets at Nationals, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Blue Jays at Yankees, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA playoffs: Raptors at Cavaliers, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL playoffs: Blues at Sharks, 9 p.m. (NBCSN)
Soccer: Exhibition, United States vs. Ecuador, 8 p.m. (ESPN)


— Deflategate has been a comedy of errors on a number of levels, so it’s only appropriate that a comedian has injected himself into the controversy.

Jim Breuer, a former “Saturday Night Live” regular, told Sports Illustrated that he ran into Patriots equipment staffer John Jastremski at a comedy festival in Mexico a few months ago and had an interesting conversation with the man at the heart of the accusations that the Patriots deflated footballs.

Breuer said he was working out in a resort gym while watching Deflategate coverage on TV when Jastremski introduced himself and asked Breuer’s opinion of the story.

“He was there with his wife,” Breuer recounted. “They were actually trying to get away because they were being so harassed in the Massachusetts area, his family’s being harassed.”

Acccording to Breuer, Jastremski expressed frustration with the Patriots organization for “holding me down” and not letting him comment publicly. Breuer said Jastremski wouldn’t answer the question of if he deflated the footballs for Tom Brady, insisting, “Tom’s my guy, Tom takes care of me.”

“All I remember is that guy would not throw Tom Brady under the bus,” Breuer said. “He said Tom Brady does so much for him.”

Breuer added that Jastremski’s wife eventually joined them and complained about the Patriots organization as well, while Jastremski explained that he had no other employment options.

“He said he can’t get [another] job, either,” Breuer said. “This is all he knows, all he does.”

— Craig Sager, the longtime Turner Sports NBA sideline reporter who has been battling leukemia, was selected to receive the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the ESPYS in July.

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Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Government report blasts NFL for trying to influence concussion study, withholding donation

05.24.16 at 8:10 am ET
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Welcome to Tuesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Rockies at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Rays at Marlins, noon (MLB Network)
MLB: Cubs at Cardinals, 7:10 p.m. (ESPN)
MLB: Padres at Giants, 10:15 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA playoffs: Warriors at Thunder, 9 p.m. (TNT)
WNBA: Dream at Liberty, 11 a.m. (NBA TV)
WNBA: Sparks at Sky, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
NHL playoffs: Penguins at Lightning, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)


— On the same day Tom Brady’s legal team filed an appeal of his Deflategate suspension, the government took the NFL to task for trying to influence a study of football’s effects on the brain.

The NFL had agreed in writing to donate $30 million to the National Institutes of Health to fund brain research, but after the NIH awarded a $16 million grant to Boston University researcher Robert Stern — an expert on the link between football and the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy — the league withdrew its donation, forcing taxpayers to pick up the cost, a government report concluded.

To make matters worse, some members of the NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee apparently pursued the grant for themselves despite the obvious conflict of interest.

The league’s actions violated NIH policy on donors interfering in the grant process and were part of a “long-standing pattern of attempts” by the NFL to steer concussion research in the direction it wanted, the 91-page report concluded.

“Our investigation has shown that while the NFL had been publicly proclaiming its role as funder and accelerator of important research, it was privately attempting to influence that research,” the report states.

“This investigation confirms the NFL inappropriately attempted to use its unrestricted gift as leverage to steer funding away from one of its critics,” New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone said. “Since its research agreement with NIH was clear that it could not weigh in on the grant selection process, the NFL should never have tried to influence that process.”

The NFL, which denied the allegations when ESPN first exposed them in an “Outside the Lines” report, acknowledged raising concerns about Stern but continues to insist it was done appropriately despite evidence to the contrary.

“The NFL rejects the allegations,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement Monday.

— Warriors forward Draymond Green escaped a suspension for his kick to the groin of Thunder center Steven Adams during Sunday’s game, but the NBA fined him $25,000.

The league also upgraded the foul to a flagrant 2. If it was called a flagrant 2 by the game officials, Green would have been ejected. With the upgrade, he now has three flagrant foul points this postseason, and if he accrues one more he would receive an automatic suspension.

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Monday’s Morning Mashup: Warriors F Draymond Green denies intentionally hitting Thunder C Steven Adams in groin for 2nd straight game

05.23.16 at 8:19 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

NBA playoffs: Cavaliers at Raptors, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL playoffs: Sharks at Blues, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
MLB: Angels at Rangers, 8:05 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: Bundesliga, Eintracht Frankfurt at FC Nuremberg, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)


— For the second straight game, Thunder center Steven Adams was hit in the groin by Warriors forward Draymond Green. And despite Green’s protestations, Adams is convinced it’s no accident.

During the second quarter Sunday’s Game 3 — an Oklahoma City victory — Green kicked out his leg after being fouled by Adams in the post, and his foot hit Adams right in the sweet spot.

Officials reviews the play and gave Green a flagrant foul 1 for the play. Green — who did not apologize to Adams during or after the game but said he plans to — is hopeful the call will get rescinded.

“I followed through on a shot,” Green insisted. “I’m not trying to kick somebody in the men’s section. I’m sure he wants to have kids one day. I’m not trying to end that on the basketball court. That don’t make sense. I brought the ball over the top this way [makes motion], he fouled me, and I brought my leg up. I mean, I know my core’s not strong enough to stop my leg halfway from wherever it was going.

“Honestly, I didn’t know I hit him. I walked to the 3-point line and clapped everybody’s hand, and I turned around and he was on the floor. I’m like, ‘What happened?’ I’m standing at the 3-point line, I look at [teammate Andrew] Bogut, and he looked at the replay, and he was like [cringes]. So then I looked at the replay, like, ‘Uh oh.’

“But like I said, I thought it would get rescinded because I’m not trying to kick him. I was following through on the shot, and my leg went up. So no, I don’t think I’ll get suspended. I don’t know how anyone could possibly say I did that on purpose, regardless of the way it looked.”

Green has his coach’s support.

“Stuff like that happens all the time,” Steve Kerr said. “There’s contact, people’s arms, legs flailing. If they think it’s on purpose, play the game, you know. This stuff happens all the time. [Russell] Westbrook kicks his feet out on every 3, and there is contact. I mean, that’s just part of the game. So I don’t understand how that can be deemed a flagrant 1. I think it should be rescinded.”

The Thunder, of course, have a different perspective, and the fact that Green kneed Adams in the groin on a drive to the basket in Game 2 makes them less sympathetic.

“I mean, it happened before, mate,” Adams said Sunday. “He’s pretty accurate, that guy.”

Added Thunder guard Bryant Westbrook: “Honestly, I think it’s intentional. That’s two times in the last two games. I don’t think you can keep [hitting] somebody in their private areas.”

— Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is keeping his options open regarding the race for president.

During comments that aired on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, the “fiercely independent” Cuban said he’d “absolutely” consider an offer to be running mate to Republican Donald Trump.

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Thinking Out Loud: NFL might be king, but NBA rules on Twitter

05.20.16 at 5:44 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering why ads on uniforms are such a big deal.

— Yes, yes. The NFL is king. On TV, and in the stands. In the hearts and minds of most sports fans, football has long been anointed as our true national pastime. But in the world of social media, apparently, synthetic rubber and cowhide hold an edge over pigskin. Especially when it comes to Twitter followers.

— Recent numbers compiled by Greg Auman of the Tampa Tribune bear this out, somewhat surprisingly. In Twitter’s current top 10 pro sports team accounts, the NBA beats the NFL with five teams represented, compared to four for football and one in baseball. In fact, the top three Twitter accounts in total followers all belong to basketball teams — the Lakers (4.82 million), Heat (3.35 million) and Bulls (2.6 million).

— The Patriots are No. 1 in the NFL, fourth overall, with 2.41 million Twitter followers. The Celtics are right behind at fifth overall with 1.86 million followers. The Yankees are baseball’s lone rep in the top 10, ranking ninth (1.65 million).

— Out of 122 professional sports teams in the four major leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL), there’s a bottom 10 in Twitter followers, too. Six hockey teams, four baseball teams. Dead last among the 122, the Miami Marlins with 198,000 followers, roughly the equivalent of a nice, long two-week homestand. Or, a four-game Sox-Yankees series.

— There still are games to play, but former Friar Billy Donovan has the defending NBA champ Warriors’ attention at the very least, don’t you think? The key to success, by my way of thinking, for a good college coach to transition successfully into the pros is for the coach to put aside his own ego. Or at least make his players believe he’s doing that.

— It’s something Rick Pitino, through my observations, couldn’t quite accomplish while in the NBA. Of course, you can make the argument Boston (and New England) wouldn’t let him, either.

— Donovan’s ego is so nondescript, did you even remember he was the coach in Oklahoma City before the last few weeks? The one-time student learned from the teacher in this case, and he has, so far, successfully applied those lessons to his present-day team.

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Jets CB Darrelle Revis fires longtime agents

05.20.16 at 12:38 pm ET
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Darrelle Revis

Darrelle Revis

Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, who has made a reported $101 million in his NFL career, fired his longtime agents, Neil Schwartz and Jonathan Feinsod, who have been with the player since his rookie season in 2007. Schwartz confirmed the move (first reported by ESPN) to The Associated Press without explanation.

Revis, known as something of an NFL mercenary, is in the second year of a five-year, $70 million contract that guarantees him $17 million this season.

Schwartz and Feinsod over the past nine seasons have made Revis one of the wealthiest players in the NFL. According to, Revis is one of only three non-quarterbacks in the top 15 in NFL player earnings among active players.

Patriots fans know Revis’ money-first mindset. In 2014 Revis signed a two-year $32 million contract with New England that essentially was a one-year $12 million deal that allowed Revis to cash in and also win a Super Bowl ring before bolting for the Jets the following season.

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Friday’s Morning Mashup: Ex-NBA executive questions Ben Simmons’ maturity

05.20.16 at 8:08 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Indians at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Rays at Tigers, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
NHL playoffs: Penguins at Lightning, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)


— There was a time when Ben Simmons was considered the certain No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. But after a season in which he was not able to lead LSU to an NCAA Tournament berth, some concerns have been raised about the 6-foot-10 forward.

His work ethic and overall passion for the game has been questioned, and now a former NBA executive said there also are concerns about his maturity level.

“He’s a great talent, great passer and knows the game,” former Nuggets vice president of player personnel (and former player) Rex Chapman said Thursday on “The Dan Patrick Show.” “But I think if you ask people around LSU, around the league, he’s got some immaturity issues, and I think that’s what frightens teams a little bit.

“I think more so off the court. I think his game is a little more mature than his age for sure, but I think there are questions about his ability to be a really good teammate.”

The 76ers, who hold the No. 1 pick, apparently still are high on Simmons, as coach Brett Brown this week compared him to Magic Johnson and LeBron James.

Simmons, who is credited with being able to do just about everything except shoot from outside, averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists for an LSU team that went 19-14.

Brown also revealed that he has been friendly with the Simmons family since he coached Ben’s father, David, for five seasons with the Melbourne Tigers in Australia in the late 1980s/early 1990s, although NBA rules forced him to limit his contact with them.

— The NFL finally did something in an attempt to improve its image, indicating that it will refund $723,734 to the Defense Department, which had paid teams to honor military service members at games and events.

The league had come under heavy criticism for accepting the payments, with Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake criticizing the Pentagon for the “paid patriotism.” A reports issued last year found 72 contracts — in various sports — in which the government paid for patriotic tributes, something the Defense Department said it no longer will do.

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