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Report: Mariano Rivera close to two-year deal with Yankees

12.03.10 at 6:25 am ET
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According to an Associated Press report, 41-year-old closer Mariano Rivera is close to signing a two-year contract worth about $30 million with the Yankees. The Red Sox and Angels reportedly had offered the standout reliever a three-year deal.

Meanwhile, the Yankees increased their offer to shortstop Derek Jeter on Thursday. “The ball’s in Derek’s court now, and his agent,” co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner told the AP. “It’s up to them.”

Read More: Derek Jeter, Hank Steinbrenner, Mariona Rivera, Rumor Mill

Report: Oakland A’s could sign Adrian Beltre as early as Thursday

12.02.10 at 1:54 pm ET
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According to ESPN.com’€™s Jayson Stark, the Oakland A’€™s could sign free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre as soon as Thursday. Stark states that while Oakland has made Beltre a five-year, $64 million offer, the Red Sox have yet to extend a proposal to the 31-year-old. The A’€™s have two arbitration-eligible third baseman, in Kevin Kouzmanoff and Edwin Encarnacion.

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Russia lands 2018 World Cup, Qatar awarded 2022 soccer spectacle

12.02.10 at 1:18 pm ET
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The FIFA commission announced on Thursday morning that Russia was awarded the right to host the 2018 World Cup, while Qatar will host the world’s greatest soccer spectacle in 2022, The Associated Press reports.

Despite the absence of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, FIFA’s 22 voters were influenced enough by Putin’s pre-selection efforts to award the bid to Russia over England, Spain-Portugal and Belgium-Netherlands, which were three other 2018 frontrunners.

The United States was in the bidding for the 2022 World Cup, along with Australia, and were tipped as favorites to land the month-long soccer event, along with the financially-endowed Qatar. Objections were made to playing in desert heat conditions in Qatar, but the World Cup’s future smallest host country asked the FIFA commission to take a “bold gamble.”

Among those vying to bring the World Cup to the United States in 2022 were former President Bill Clinton and U.S. midfielder Landon Donovan.

Read More: FIFA World Cup, Landon Donovan, Rumor Mill,

Red Sox show interest in Dodgers catcher Russell Martin

12.02.10 at 1:17 pm ET
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While the Red Sox prepare Jarrod Saltalamacchia for what right now looks like the starting catcher role in 2011, the Boston Herald reports that the Sox have taken an interest in Dodger’s catcher Russell Martin, who is being considered for arbitration, the Herald stated.

Martin’s recent career has been somewhat hindered by injuries, specifically a hairline fracture in his right hip, which was suffered in August, has proven to be a blow to Martin’s performance. Meanwhile, the Dodgers have been looking into Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek to fill a different option at catcher.

Other free agents the Red Sox have shown interest in include John Buck (who signed with the Blue Jays), Rod Barajas and Miguel Olivo.

Read More: jarrod saltalamacchia, jason varitek, Rumor Mill, Russell Martin

Cortland Finnegan upset by being known as a ‘dirty player’

12.02.10 at 1:17 pm ET
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Titans defensive back Cortland Finnegan did his best to make sure the world of sports remembered his name after fighting Andre Johnson in Sunday’s Texans-Titans matchup. But now the controversial Titan isn’t so happy with his known role as a dirty player, the Tennessean reports.

Finnegan said of being called a dirty players, “It’s a word that’s been used loosely, ignorant sometimes,” he said. “But at the same time guys around the league have been fined more than me and are doing crazy things, and they never have that word linked to them.”

He went on to say that he will continue to play fast and physical football, and that he isn’t going to back down.

Finnegan and Johnson were fined $25,000 each for the fight that ensued after much back and forth jawing.

Read More: Andre Johnson, Cortland Finnegan, Rumor Mill, Tennessee Titans

Report: Rockies seriously looking into signing Lance Berkman to one-year deal

12.02.10 at 1:16 pm ET
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The Denver Post reported on Thursday that the Rockies are seriously looking into signing free agent slugger Lance Berkman, a player that was not given an extension by the Yankees. Berkman played in New York for half of the 2010 season.

The Post reports that no signing is guaranteed, but that Berkman is “strongly considering” signing with the Rockies. Berkman has also received interest from the Cardinals, Blue Jays and Athletics. The contract is reported to be a one-year deal.

ESPN’s Buster Olney said via Twitter that the Athletics appear very enthusiastic about targeting Berkman as well.

Berkman told the Post that Colorado is a place that “I would definitely have interest in.” Berkman batted .248 with 14 home runs and 58 RBIs in 122 games with the Astros and the Yankees.

Read More: Colorado Yankees, Lance Berkman, Rumor Mill,

Cleveland braces for return of LeBron James

12.02.10 at 9:15 am ET
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LeBron James saw images of his Cavaliers jersey being burned the night he announced his decision to take his talents to South Beach and sign with the Heat. Then there was the harsh letter Cavaliers majority owner Dan Gilbert posted on the the team’s website.

And, of course, there was the removal of Nike’s “Witness” banner that hung in downtown Cleveland.

The city acted quickly last summer to remove all remnants of James, but now Cleveland and its fans must ready themselves for the return of their former King. James and his Heat team travel to Cleveland on Thursday to take on the Cavaliers in a much anticipated game with revenge-like emotions.

“I’m ready for whatever response I’m going to get,” James said. “It’s going to be very emotional. I give a lot of thanks to that city, a lot of thanks to those fans for giving me the opportunity to not only showcase my talent, but to grow from a young boy to a man during my seven years. So it’s going to be very emotionally draining. I can tell already.”

Perhaps James has that feeling because the media and fans have been looking forward to and hyping this game for the past five months. Here is a taste of what’s been going around on the web in response to James’ anticipated return:

The city of Cleveland is planning to beef up security in and around Quicken Loans Arena. The team is asking fans to refrain from wearing profane or vulgar clothing directed at James or his family, and any obscene signs will be confiscated. SportsIllustrated.com has compiled a gallery of photos that may give an idea of what kind of “clean” criticism James could possibly expect from fans.

Scott Raab, a writer for Esquire and longtime Clevelander, says that if fans are really true to their hometown, they’ll boo King James off the court Thursday night. Raab has been chronicling the entire LBJ saga for Esquire since “The Decision.”

Referring to James as a “lost cause” with “no connection to reality” is FoxSports.com’s Jason Whitlock. Whitlock says that James should have apologized to the city of Cleveland by now, and even questions his dedication to the game of basketball.

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Read More: LeBron James, Rumor Mill,

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Marcus Jordan, son of MJ, leads UCF to upset of Florida

12.02.10 at 7:48 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.

WHAT’S HAPPENING LOCALLY THURSDAY:
NHL: Lightning at Bruins, 7 p.m. (NESN)

AROUND THE WEB:

‘™¦ Michael Jordan‘s son Marcus had the signature moment of his basketball career Wednesday night, scoring 18 points to help the University of Central Florida shock 18th-ranked Florida, 57-54, Wednesday night in Orlando. Jordan, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, hit 6-of-11 shots and drilled two key free throws down the stretch as UCF picked up its first win over Florida in 10 tries.

‘™¦ Organizers are waiting to hear where the 2022 World Cup soccer tournament will be played, as FIFA is set to announce the winner Thursday. In The Wall Street Journal, Matthew Futterman looks at how the United States would suffer another embarrassment if it doesn’t land the event.

‘™¦ The amount of NHL players who played collegiately is up to 25 percent, and many are predicting that number will continue to grow. Boston College has 17 alumni who have played at least one game in the NHL this season (second only to Wisconsin’s 18) and Boston University has 15.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Dec. 2, 1986, the Celtics‘ home-court winning streak was stopped at 38 by the Washington Bullets, 117-109. However, the game wasn’t contested at Boston Garden. Where was it played?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We met a goalie that stops everything ‘€” back-doors, breakaways, some great chances in front. He’s covering up the rebounds. It’s frustrating when you have so many chances and rebounds, 2-on-1s, and everything. He’s there to make the save every time.” ‘€” Flyers forward Scott Hartnell, on Bruins goal Tim Thomas, after the Bruins’ 3-0 win Wednesday night

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Read More: Marcus Jordan, Michael Jordan,

Report: Jon Gruden will remain in broadcast booth

12.01.10 at 9:08 pm ET
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A source close to ESPN’s Joe Schad told the network that ESPN analyst Jon Gruden will remain in the broadcast booth next year and will not be the coach of the Hurricanes, ESPN.com reports. A source in Miami told Schad that the discussions were “exploratory” and that the search for a coach to replace Randy Shannon continues.

In a conference call on Wednesday, ESPN executive vice president Norby Williamson said that Gruden will “absolutely” will remain with the network next season.

“My feeling is that Jon is in year two of a long-term contract, “Williamson said. “We expect Jon to be on ‘Monday Night Football‘ doing what he’s been doing for a long time to come.”

Read More: Jon Gruden, Miami Hurricanes, Randy Shannon, Rumor Mill

Panthers safety Sherrod Martin fined $40K for helmet-to-helmet hit

12.01.10 at 9:06 pm ET
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Panthers safety Sherrod Martin was fined by the league $40,000 following a helmet-to-helmet hit on Browns tight end Evan Moore. Martin told reporters on Wednesday the amount of the fine, which he believes is a large sum because he is a “repeat offender.”

Martin was fined in the first week for a hard hit on Giants tight end Kevin Boss that gave Boss a concussion. For Martin, the fine hurts, as the 2009 second-round pick from Troy earns a base salary of $395,000.

The Texans’ Andre Johnson and the Titans’ Cortland Finnegan were each fined $25,000 for a helmet-less fight that occurred in Sunday’s game, yet Martin was targeted with the larger fine.

Martin declined to comment on the amount of the fine on Wednesday.

Read More: Andre Johnson, Cortland Finnegan, Rumor Mill, Sherrod Martin