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Top stories of 2010, No. 7: Red Sox derailed by injuries

12.25.10 at 10:51 am ET
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For the final 10 days of 2010, WEEI.com will count down the top 10 stories of the year. In what was a memorable 12 months for all four of Boston’s major professional teams, there was a plethora of compelling storylines. Our next entry in the countdown is No. 7: The Red Sox‘ injury-plagued lost season.

Check out our previous entries:
No. 10: Kevin Garnett’s return to form
No. 9: The Patriots’ playoff meltdown vs. the Ravens
No. 8: The Marc Savard-Matt Cooke incident and aftermath

Also, make sure to cast your vote in WEEI.com’s poll for the 2010 Boston Athlete of the Year.

The 2010 Red Sox season was supposed to be predicated on two traits: pitching and defense. All offseason long, Theo Epstein raved about those qualities as the team signed Adrian Beltre, Mike Cameron and John Lackey while letting Jason Bay sign with the Mets.

There was only one problem with Epstein’€™s plan. He could not have factored in the most important characteristic of the 2010 squad: injured, early and often.

Within the first two weeks of the season, the Red Sox already had suffered their first casualties of the season when two-thirds of their outfield went on the disabled list. Things would only get worse, as the team lost three starting pitchers to the DL, four catchers were sidelined and two of the most reliable and productive members of the lineup, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis, missed large parts of the season.

Things became so bad that they were almost laughable. The Red Sox led the league in total trips to the DL with 23, and finished fourth overall with over 1,050 games lost to the DL and more than $20 million lost due to injury. Their 89-73 record look that much more impressive considering the Red Sox lost most of their most important players rather than just a slew of no-names.

Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka each missed five or more starts and those in the bullpen suffered myriad injuries. Victor Martinez missed just 23 games on the disabled list, a relative victory for a team of the walking injured. A torn thumb muscle forced Youkilis to ride the pine for over 60 games and Pedroia’€™s broken foot kept him out for more than half the season. Cameron, the most disappointing of the new acquisitions, managed just 162 at-bats. But the biggest exemplar of all the injuries and frustration of the 2010 season was Jacoby Ellsbury.

With Cameron’€™s addition, Ellsbury was supposed to take over left field duties and potentially become an even scarier threat on the base paths. The 26-year-old, who had led the league in steals in back-to-back seasons with 120 combined steals, was drawing very favorable praise during spring training.

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Read More: Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, kevin youkilis, Mike Cameron

Top stories of 2010, No. 8: The Marc Savard-Matt Cooke incident and aftermath

12.24.10 at 8:13 am ET
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For the final 10 days of 2010, WEEI.com will count down the top 10 stories of the year. In what was a memorable 12 months for all four of Boston’s major professional teams, there was a plethora of compelling storylines. Our third entry in the countdown is No. 8: The Marc Savard-Matt Cooke incident and aftermath.

Also, make sure to cast your vote in WEEI.com’s poll for the 2010 Boston Athlete of the Year.

The Bruins carried themselves through a good portion of the 2009-10 season undaunted, just waiting to take on their next opponent. In Bill Belichick terms: They were playing their season one game at a time.

The team was riding a season on the back of young netminder Tuukka Rask, who had the B’€™s in not just the playoff hunt, but in good postseason standing with just several months remaining on the regular-season schedule.

But on March 7, the Bruins made a trip to Pittsburgh that will live in Boston sports infamy.

The Penguins were a good team ‘€” a team that boasted one of the biggest names in modern-day hockey in Sidney Crosby. Pittsburgh jumped out to a 2-1 lead late in the third period when Bruins center Marc Savard was set up for a quick wrist shot in between the faceoff circles in the Penguins’€™ zone. After Savard got the shot away, Penguins left wing Matt Cooke skated in on Savard and put a shoulder into his blind side, catching the side of Savard’€™s head and neck. The shot came from almost behind the Bruins center, and after the puck had already been released.

Savard hit the ice hard and didn’€™t move for minutes, except to open and close his hand. Meanwhile, Bruins players skated at Cooke, seeking some form of redemption for the swipe. But when referees held up any extra physicality, no further push was made by either team to reconcile what had happened. The game ended in a 2-1 Penguins victory, but the Bruins had lost much more than just the game itself.

For weeks, analysts and even teammates discussed the hit and whether or not it was legal, or should have drawn a suspension, while Savard suffered the effects of a major concussion. Ultimately, league disciplinarian Colin Campbell ruled that the hit on Savard was not worthy of a fine or suspension, that Cooke’€™s hit was technically legal (it was not penalized by the on-ice officials).

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Read More: Boston Bruins, marc savard, matt cooke,

Friday’s Morning Mashup: Jets owner Woody Johnson backs Rex Ryan

12.24.10 at 7:54 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:
No games scheduled

SATURDAY:
NBA: Pacers at Celtics, 2:30 p.m. (ABC; WEEI)

SUNDAY:
No games scheduled

AROUND THE WEB:

‘™¦ Jets owner Woody Johnson threw his support behind coach Rex Ryan in the wake of the foot-fetish video that was made public this week, insisting his “respect has not diminished one iota.” Said Johnson: “We’re going to make mistakes. We’re not perfect. But once we’ve made a mistake, I think we’re pretty good at trying to make remedies and trying to cure and trying to correct what we’re doing. … We’re going to work on trying to make ourselves an organization that doesn’t have, preferably, any incidents.”

Johnson also called Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross to apologize for comments by his special teams coach following the incident on the sideline two weeks ago.

“You wish some of these things hadn’t happened,” Johnson said. “But I’m very proud of the organization. I think the organization responded very responsibly in every case. The culture that I’m looking for is starting to develop.”

‘™¦ Five Ohio State football players, including quarterback Terrell Pryor, were punished for selling personal awards, but their suspensions won’t begin until next season, leaving them eligible for the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4 against Arkansas. At ESPNcom, Pat Forde speaks for most columnists when he writes that the ruling “defies common sense.” In The News-Herald of Northern Ohio, John Kampf writes that Pryor is leaving a legacy, but it’s not a good one.

‘™¦ Jeff Goodman of FoxSports.com was at Wednesday night’s Central Florida-UMass basketball game, and he writes about the gutsy effort of UCF’s Marcus Jordan, son of Michael, who overcame an injury to help his team improve to 11-0.

‘™¦ Colts receiver Austin Collie, placed on IR after repeated issues with concussions, should consider retirement, writes Bob Kravitz in The Indianapolis Star.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Dec. 24, 2004, the Red Sox re-signed catcher Jason Varitek and named him captain. Who was the last player to serve as team captain before Varitek?

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Read More: Marcus Jordan, Rex Ryan, Terrell Pryor, Woody Johnson

Titans receiver Randy Moss denies calling radio show to complain about coach Jeff Fisher

12.23.10 at 7:38 pm ET
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Titans wide receiver Randy Moss denied the accusations that he called into the 4-Hour Lunch on 104.5-FM and complained to the hosts about head coach Jeff Fisher, the Tennessean reported on Thursday. Many listeners thought that a caller named ‘€œWoody’€ was Moss calling in to talk about Fisher because his accent sounded similar to that of the wide receiver.

Moss, however, denied reports that he ever called in to the station, and told Fisher himself in a private meeting between the two that it was not him.

‘€œThat is not me, that is not my M.O.,’€ Moss told the Tennessean on Wednesday. ‘€œI would never do an individual like that. ‘€¦ I conduct myself and carry myself as a man, so if there is something I need to say to you, I’€™ll say it to your face. I wouldn’€™t go through no radios and try to hide and stuff like that.’€

Moss said that the accusations were brought to his attention by head strength and conditioning coach Steve Watterson. Moss said that he had not heard the interview with the radio station.

Read More: Jeff Fisher, Randy Moss, Rumor Mill, Tennessee Titans

Five Ohio State football players suspended first five game of 2011 for receiving improper benefits

12.23.10 at 12:34 pm ET
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Five Ohio State football players have been suspended for the first five games of the 2011 NCAA football season, including starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor, for accepting improper benefits, ESPN  reports. A sixth player must sit out for the first game of the 2011 season as well for receiving discounted benefits in violation of the college rules.

The improper benefits included selling awards, gifts and university apparel, as well as autographs, in exchange for tattoos. All of the players will be eligible to play in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4 against Arkansas.

The NCAA announced the suspensions on Thursday, and that the players must repay money benefits ranging from $1,000 to $2,500 to a charity. Along with Pryor, other players reprimanded were Mike Adams, Daniel Herron, Devier Posey, and Solomon Thomas. Jordan Whiting will sit out the first game of 2011 and pay $150 to a charity.

Players were punished for selling items such as 2008 Big Ten championship rings, football jersey, pants, shoes, and sportsmanship awards.

‘€œThese are significant penalties based on findings and information provided by the university,’€ NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs Kevin Lennon said in a statement released by the NCAA.

Read More: Ohio State University, Rumor Mill, terrelle pryor,

Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton could be traded after 2010 season is over

12.23.10 at 11:51 am ET
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After starting every game this season until last week, quarterback Kyle Orton said that he isn’€™t pleased with the Broncos, and, according to the Denver Post, could in all likelihood be traded after the culmination of the NFL season. Orton lost his starting job last week due to injury, and rookie quarterback Tim Tebow took over. But the Broncos have named Tebow the starter for the remaining two games of the regular season, despite Orton being healthy enough to play.

‘€œI’€™d love to play it out,’€ Orton told the Post. ‘€œIt wasn’€™t my decision. There was nothing I could do. ‘€¦ The way it was presented to me was he’€™ll be the starter the rest of the season and that’€™s just how it goes.’€

For the first half of the 2010 season, Orton was on pace to set the single-season passing record for the Broncos, who were at the time hovering near a .500 record. Since then, the Broncos have ended up in last place in the AFC West with a 3-11 record.

Tebow, in his first career start, threw for one touchdown and ran for another on in the team’€™s 39-23 loss to the Raiders.

The Broncos may get a new general manager to join John Elway in a newly-constructed front office, and will decide the future of Orton beyond this season.

Read More: Denver Broncos, Kyle Orton, Rumor Mill, Tim Tebow

With Paul Silas as head coach, Bobcats could pursue former Hornets guard Baron Davis

12.23.10 at 11:38 am ET
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Now that Paul Silas is back in the driver’€™s seat in Charlotte, this time coaching the Bobcats instead of his former team, the Hornets, the coach would like to bring back one of his former players in point guard Baron Davis, Yahoo! Sports reports. Davis played for Silas while he started in Charlotte with the Hornets.

According to Yahoo! Sports, Michael Jordan, the majority owner of the Bobcats, is considering a trade that would send guards D.J. Augustin and Matt Carroll, as well as forward DeSagana Diop to Los Angeles in return for Davis, the current Clippers guard.

Yahoo! Sports wrote that the Clippers have been trying to trade Davis for a number of years, and have even included Davis in deals with center Chris Kaman, league executives said. Silas immediately becomes the underlying factor if Jordan and the Bobcats decide to pursue Davis as a trade option.

Read More: Baron Davis, Michael Jordan, Paul Silas, Rumor Mill

Devils fire coach John MacLean, rehire Jacques Lemaire for third stint with team

12.23.10 at 11:17 am ET
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ESPN.com reported on Thursday that the Devils have fired head coach John MacLean and have rehired Jacques Lemaire, who coached the team to the Stanley Cup in the 1994-95 season. This is Lemaire’€™s third coaching stint with the team.

Lemaire told ESPN.com’€™s Pierre LeBrun that he plans on being behind the bench on Thursday night when the team will host the Islanders in Newark. Lemaire said that he received a call from Lou Lamoriello, the general manager of the Devils, on Wednesday, offering him the coaching job.

‘€œJohn has done an exceptional job. I have no issue with him,’€ Lamoriello said. ‘€œOur record certainly isn’t what any of us like, but it has nothing to do with coaching.’€

The Devils are 9-22-2 on the season, and are tied with the Islanders for last place in the Eastern Conference. Both teams have 20 points this year. According to ESPN, MacLean still had the support of Lamoriello in late October, when the team opened the 2010-11 season with a 2-6-1 record. There was ‘€˜no thought’€™ to dismissing MacLean from his coaching duties.

Read More: Jacques Lemaire, John MacLean, New Jersey Devils, Rumor Mill

Top stories of 2010, No. 9: The Patriots’ playoff loss to the Ravens

12.23.10 at 8:32 am ET
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For the final 10 days of 2010, WEEI.com will count down the top 10 stories of the year. In what was a memorable 12 months for all four of Boston’s major professional teams, there was a plethora of compelling storylines. Our second entry in the countdown is No. 9: The Patriots’ blowout loss to the Ravens in the playoffs.

Also, make sure to cast your vote in WEEI.com’s poll for the 2010 Boston Athlete of the Year.

Rowdy and fired up, even amidst the blistering cold in Foxboro, Jay and I raced up the aisles to our nose-bleed seats. We had already missed the opening kickoff, but the crowd was in an uproar as Matthew Slater had just tackled Ravens kick returner Jalen Parmale at the Baltimore 17-yard line, seemingly laying a good foundation for what was sure to be a physical slugfest between two evenly matched teams.

Prior to the kickoff, Ravens running back Ray Rice told his team that he would be the tone-setter. “I’m going to bust it open,” he told backfield mate Willis McGahee. “I’m going to set the tone.”

Determined not to miss another snap, we desperately climbed and climbed until we finally reached the 300 level. We emerged from the underpass in the nick of time, catching the first offensive play of the game and entering a nightmare that would never let up. A punch to the gut of both the Patriots and the capacity crowd at Gillette might be the only way to describe it ‘€” one that neither party could ultimately recover from.

Quarterback Joe Flacco took the snap and handed the ball to Rice. “A simple zone run, about as fundamental as it gets,” according to Ravens center Matt Birk, the Harvard graduate who drove the “immovable” Vince Wilfork nearly five yards out of the play, planting him flat on his back. With their stopgap defensive lineman out of the picture, the guards were then free to move to the next level, sealing off the linebackers that were a step too slow to fill a gaping hole.

The resulting running lane was enormous, and, after patiently allowing the play to develop,  Rice exploded through it. Before the snap, Rice had noticed safety Brandon Meriweather dropping back about 15 yards deep ‘€” and that was the one man he would have to beat. With Meriweather filling too fast, all Rice needed was a simple cutback move, and soon the only thing standing between him and the end zone was about 75 yards of grass. The defense couldn’t catch up, and in the blink of an eye Rice had covered 83 yards for the opening score, the longest of his career and second-longest touchdown run in playoff history.

Not even 10 seconds into the game, Patriots players and fans were gasping for breath that couldn’t be found in the icy January air.

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Read More: Ray Rice, Terrell Suggs, Tom Brady,

Randy Moss wants to return to Titans next season

12.23.10 at 8:10 am ET
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Despite his lack of production since joining the Titans, former Patriots receiver Randy Moss said he’s enjoying his time in Tennessee and would like to return next season.

“This organization has been good to me,” he said Wednesday. “My production has not been where I want it to be or where the organization wants it to be. But when it comes down to it, I think they are happy with where they are at with me and I am happy with where I’€™m at.

“Next year, hopefully, if the opportunity presents itself for me to be here, I would love to. I like the city and I like the people. There’€™s a lot of history here and football is one of the many things they have going on around here in this city and I am a country boy in a country city. I love it. I can’€™t speak enough about the city and the fans.”

Moss has just five receptions for 62 yards since the Titans claimed him off waivers from the Vikings on Nov. 3. He becomes a free agent at the end of the season.

“At 33 I am still running with the 20-year olds. It might take me a little longer to warm up,” Moss said with a smile. “But other than that, I still have fun with the guys. I still can compete and I still can get open. The bad thing about me being so old at 33 is I still have a lot of football left to be played. So we’€™ll see what the future holds.”

Moss did his part to avoid sounding like the selfish player he’s been accused of being in the past. Asked if wanted a promise that more balls would be thrown to him next season, he refused to take the bait.

“Man, this is a business. It is really not my call or for me to say, ‘Throw me every ball or throw me balls,’ ” he said. “Earlier in my career if I think you’€™d have asked me that question I would have probably been a little more biased and a little more as an individual. But I’€™ve always understood the concept of team.

“I’€™ve always felt I could take over a game and things like that. Now I am a little older and there are younger guys coming into the league with a little bit more pizazz and determination. But I am still determined ‘€¦ to go out there and make it happen. Last week I told [teammate] Kenny [Britt], ‘There is only one Moss,’ and when I leave this league there will never be another Moss come through this league. The last couple of years I want to finish out I want to give the league something to remember me by, and hopefully if it is not here in Tennessee it would be somewhere else.

“But I wouldn’t mind staying here in Tennessee. I really wouldn’t.”

Read More: Randy Moss, Rumor Mill,