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Report: Cubs most overrated MLB team, says Las Vegas

06.14.11 at 8:49 am ET
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As if Cubs fans needed more to gripe about when it comes to their woeful baseball squad.

According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, the team from Chicago’s North Side is the most overrated major-league team if you were to ask the people who set the Las Vegas sportsbooks. The Cubs have won 34 fewer games since 2006 than the people in Sin City expected them to, beating out the Pirates and Indians who won 29 and 27 fewer games respectively.

The most underrated team? That would be both the Marlins and Twins, who both have 29 more games than Vegas predicted them winning.

The report notes that projected win totals are based on public perception and can change based on the amount of betting one way or another.

Read More: Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians, Florida Marlins, Minnesota Twins

Jim Bowden: MLB realignment plan should include new geography-based divisions

06.14.11 at 8:32 am ET
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The second anyone brings up the possibility of realignment in baseball, the mind runs rampant with all the possibilities.

ESPN analyst and former major-league GM Jim Bowden chimed in and gave what he called a “radical” proposal: Blow up both the American League and National League, create two new “conferences” with 15 teams instead and form three five-team divisions based on more tightly knit geography in each conference.

So although the Red Sox and Rays both play in the AL East right now because of their locations on the East Coast, the two teams would be separated into the American Conference Eastern Division and National Conference Southeast Division. Joining the Sox in the Eastern Division would be of course the Yankees as well as the Mets, Phillies and Blue Jays, according to Bowden’s proposal.

The former Reds and Nationals executive also calls for the ending of the designated hitter rule and an increase in the amount of teams making the playoffs from eight to 12 but does not address how a second round with three teams left in each conference would work.

Read More: MLB, Rumor Mill,

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Lenny Dykstra pleads not guilty

06.14.11 at 7:53 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.

WHAT’S HAPPENING LOCALLY TUESDAY:
MLB: Red Sox at Rays, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI)

AROUND THE WEB:

‘™¦ Former Mets star Lenny Dykstra, who has tried to pass himself off as a financial guru but has run into numerous problems over the past decade, pleaded not guilty Monday in a Los Angeles court to embezzling money from a bankruptcy estate. Represented by a federal public defender, Dykstra was asked if he understood the charges and he responded: “I don’t understand it, but I understand them.” Dykstra has been in jail since being arrested last month on charges of grand theft auto and drug possession.

‘™¦ The lawyer for cyclist Tyler Hamilton, who last month told “60 Minutes” that former teammate Lance Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs, said his client was confronted by Armstrong at a restaurant in Aspen, Colo., over the weekend. Attorney Chris Manderson said Armstrong stiff-armed Hamilton as they passed and then berated him, demanding to know how much CBS paid him for the “60 Minutes” interview. The owner of the bar ‘€” who is a friend of Armstrong’s ‘€” denied there was a dramatic confrontation.

‘™¦ Dwight Howard told NBA.com that he wants to stay in Orlando, but he said he’s planning to test free agency next summer and would keep his options open if the Magic don’t make a title run with an improved roster. “I want to win a championship,” he said. “I think the owners have to really know that. … I don’t have any side goals or agendas. My main goal is to win a championship. I want to have 14 other guys who feel the same way.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On June 14, 1980, which Red Sox speedster set a team record with four stolen bases in a 7-3 victory over the Angels?

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Read More: Dwight Howard, Lance Armstrong, Lenny Dykstra, Tyler Hamilton

Monday’s Morning Mashup: Cavaliers owner makes dig at LeBron James

06.12.11 at 9:13 pm 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.

WHAT’S HAPPENING LOCALLY MONDAY:
NHL Playoffs: Canucks at Bruins, 8 p.m. (Versus)

AROUND THE WEB:

‘™¦ The city of Cleveland is smirking Monday, following LeBron James‘ latest failed effort to win an NBA title. About 15 minutes after the Mavericks knocked off the Heat in Game 6 Sunday night, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert sent a congratulatory tweet to Mavs owner Mark Cuban and it included this line obviously intended as a shot at LeBron: There are NO SHORTCUTS. NONE.

In his postgame press conference, LeBron responded to his critics. “At the end of the day, all the people that were rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day, they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today,” he said.

Meanwhile, Wizards forward Rashard Lewis took to the airwaves to deny a rumor that he had an affair with James’ fiancee, Savannah Brinson. Lewis said he had no idea how the rumor started and insisted he has never met Brinson. “Those rumors are 100 percent false,” Lewis told a Houston radio station Friday. “They’re not true. I don’t know how they came up.”

The rumor sprouted last week and was supposed to explain why James has struggled in the NBA finals, especially late in the games. It comes one year after a rumor that James’ mother had a sexual relationship with current Celtics guard Delonte West.

‘™¦ According to the New York Post, Giants owner Steve Tisch will be the first pro sports team owner to publicly back the New York Marriage Equality campaign. Tisch is expected to follow Giants legend Michael Strahan‘s lead in filming a video in support of gay marriage rights.

‘™¦ The son of legendary NFL coach Vince Lombardi wrote to the Green Bay Press Gazette to clarify that the family had not neglected Lombardi’s New Jersey grave site. This had been implied in a story last month about a man who had been tending to the site on his own.

‘™¦ The University of California baseball team, which had been designated for elimination by the school’s administration a few months ago, advanced to its first College World Series since 1992. The San Francisco Chronicle has the story of the “team of destiny.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On June 13, 1974, Don Cherry was named coach of the Bruins. Who did he replace?

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Dan Gilbert, Delonte West, LeBron James, Mark Cuban

Report: MLB considering switch to two, 15-team leagues

06.11.11 at 2:04 pm ET
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Major League Baseball is considering a move to two, 15-team leagues rather than the current system that has 14 teams in the American League and 16 in the National League, according to Buster Olney of ESPN. Olney reports that the players’ union would be OK with such a move as part of ongoing labor talks. However, the entire plan has yet to be presented to the owners, and one of Olney’s sources said, “”I’d still say the odds of it happening are less than 50-50.”

The potential move would result in five teams making the playoffs from each league . Also, there has been no clear decision on who would move from the NL to the AL, but two executives told Olney that the Astros would make sense so that they could form a new rivalry with the Rangers.

Read More: MLB, Rumor Mill,

Warriors considering trading Monta Ellis

06.11.11 at 1:43 pm ET
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The Warriors already have a new coach in Mark Jackson. They could have a new high scorer too for next season.

According to Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News, the team is “very open” to trading star guard Monta Ellis, who led the team and was eighth in the NBA with a 24.1 points-per-game scoring average. Sources told Kawakami that Ellis would like to stay with Golden State but would be willing “to go to a contending team that might be a great scorer away from a title run.”

Those same sources believe that the Bulls could work as a trading partner with Luol Deng being potentially shipped to the Bay Area. However, Kawakami says Chicago’s willingness to let go of Deng “seems, at this point, unlikely.” The 76ers, with a deal that would trade Andre Iguodala for Ellis, were also rumored to be involved in talks with the Warriors. Other teams that could give it a look, according to Kawakami, are “Portland, Memphis, Charlotte, Denver and the Lakers.”

Read More: Andre Iguodala, Luol Deng, Monta Ellis, Rumor Mill

Gambling lines released for every potential NFL game

06.11.11 at 1:10 pm ET
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Looking for some optimistic NFL news while the league remains mired in its lengthy lockout?

Well Cantor Gaming seems to think there will be a full season come fall because the company that controls the sportsbooks for The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, The M Resort Spa and Casino and Tropicana Las Vegas has already released the lines for each of the 17 weeks that would be played. (ProFootballWeekly.com has the breakdown of each week.)

According to the aforementioned website, the Patriots are listed in the system as the best football team heading into a potential 2011 season. As it stands now, New England is favored in 14 of its 16 games with the only exceptions being Week 8 at the Steelers and Week 10 at the Jets where they are one-point underdogs in each of those contests.

Cantor race and sports book director Mike Colbert told ProFootballWeekly.com that the company had already taken “quite a few bets” after it released the lines on Friday.

Read More: NFL lockout,

LEEInks list: Best starts in Red Sox uniform over last half decade

06.11.11 at 12:39 pm ET
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Adrian Gonzalez is off to a scorching start in his first season in a Red Sox uniform. The powerful first baseman is leading the American League in RBI (57) and is also in the top 5 in batting average (.338) as of Saturday. If Gonzalez were to keep up that type of production for the remainder of the season, an American League MVP award could be in his future. But where would it rank among the greatest first seasons in Boston? To help answer that question, here’€™s a look at the top 10 first full individual seasons in a Red Sox uniform since 1961. (Apologies to Ted WilliamsJimmie Foxx and Cy Young, each of whom could have earned spots on this list without the time restricition.)

10. Bill Mueller 2003, .326, 19 HR, 85 RBI

The former Red Sox third baseman is probably most remembered in Boston for his base hit that drove in Dave Roberts to send Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS into extra innings, but what a year he had in 2003. Signed as a free agent in the offseason, Mueller was expected to be a sure-handed third baseman who would do nothing more than just hold his own at the bottom of the Red Sox order. Instead, he exploded for career highs in not only average, home runs and RBI but also hits (171), runs (85) and doubles (45). His .326 average beat out Manny Ramirez (.325) and Derek Jeter (.324) by just points for his first and only batting crown.

9. Jonathan Papelbon 2006, 0.92 ERA, 35 saves, ROY runner-up

Before Papelbon made ‘€œShipping up to Boston’€ a fixture of the Fenway Park experience, he was a starter-turned-reliever coming into the 2006 season that came in and took the closer spot from Keith Foulke. From there, the hard-throwing righty flourished in the role that he still holds to this day. He allowed earned runs in just six of his 59 appearances (68 1/3 innings) and also walked only 13 batters over that span. A shoulder injury kept him from pitching in September and may have kept him from securing the Rookie of the Year award (won instead by Detroit pitcher Justin Verlander), but the fact remains that Papelbon’€™s 2006 campaign may have been the best ever by a rookie closer. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: adrian beltre, Adrian gonzalez, Fred Lynn, Manny Ramirez

Report: Steelers QB Charlie Batch goes bankrupt over bakery

06.10.11 at 10:58 am ET
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The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Friday that Steelers backup quarterback Charlie Batch has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, with debts exceeding his available assets by $6 million.

The Post-Gazette wrote that most of Batch’€™s debts were a result of bad business ventures, including real estate company Batch Development Co., Courtland Place LLC, and Kings Bakery LLC.

Batch will keep his Franklin Park, Pa., home, and his two Super Bowl rings, but will lose his Michigan home to foreclosure.

In a related post, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review wrote Friday that 27 properties from Batch Development Co. cost $8,500 more to maintain than they generated in rent in May.

Read More: bankruptcy, charlie batch, Pittsburgh Steelers, Rumor Mill

Friday’s Morning Mashup: Bobby Orr edges Ray Bourque in poll of favorite playoff memory

06.10.11 at 7:43 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.

WHAT’S HAPPENING LOCALLY FRIDAY:
NHL Playoffs: Bruins at Canucks, 8 p.m. (NBC)
MLB: Red Sox at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. (NESN; WEEI)
MLS: Revolution at New York Red Bulls, 8:30 p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel)

SATURDAY:
MLB: Red Sox at Blue Jays, 1:07 p.m. (NESN; WEEI)

SUNDAY:
MLB: Red Sox at Blue Jays, 1:07 p.m. (NESN; WEEI)

AROUND THE WEB:

‘™¦ NHL.com ran a bracket-style poll in which fans voted for their favorite Stanley Cup playoffs moment in history, and the two finalists were familiar to Boston fans. The winner was Bobby Orr winning the 1970 Cup with his overtime goal in Game 4 and then flying through the air. Coming in second was Ray Bourque celebrating a title with the Avalanche in 2001 after his long and distinguished career in Boston.

‘™¦ Titans receiver Kenny Britt was arrested Wednesday night in New Jersey and charged with resisting arrest, one day after pleading guilty to careless driving. In The Tennessean, David Climer writes about Britt’s recent history of trouble with the law and notes that “the baggage is starting to pile up.”

‘™¦ Five players on Mexico’s national soccer team, including goaltender Guillermo Ochoa and defender Francisco Rodriguez, were pulled from the country’s CONCACAF Gold Cup team after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. A team representative claims that the players ate tainted food. “Everything points to it being an accident, very unfortunate,” said Decio de Maria, the secretary general of the Mexican soccer federation.

‘™¦ The Los Angeles Times checks in with Taiwanese reliever Hong Chih-Kuo, an All-Star last season who is pitching in the minors as he tries to overcome an anxiety disorder that leaves him unable to control the ball.

‘™¦ In The Wall Street Journal, Craig Wolff writes about the difficulty and monotony of locker room interviews and wonders if they are on their way out.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On June 10, 1970, the Red Sox placed pitcher Jim Lonborg on the disabled list and activated which coach to become a backup outfielder?

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bobby Orr, Francisco Rodriguez, Guillermo Ochoa, Hong Chih-Kuo