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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Alex Rodriguez opens up, admits he ‘acted like an ass’ in fighting PED suspension

08.11.16 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: Yankees at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Padres at Pirates, 12:30 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Orioles at Athletics, 3:35 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Cardinals at Cubs, 8 p.m. (MLB Network)
Little League Baseball: New England semifinals, 1 p.m. (ESPN)
NFL preseason: Saints at Patriots, 7:30 p.m. (WBZ-TV, NFL Network)
Olympics: Men’s volleyball, United States vs. Brazil, 8 a.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Women’s field hockey, United States vs. India, 8 a.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Men’s beach volleyball, United States vs. Italy, 10 a.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Women’s beach volleyball, United States vs. Russia, 10 a.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Women’s water polo, United States vs. China, 10 a.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Women’s gymnastics individual all-around, 8 p.m. (NBC)


— Alex Rodriguez finally made a plate appearance at Fenway Park, pinch-hitting in the seventh inning Wednesday and flying out during the Yankees’ 9-4 victory. He was received with loud boos from the Fenway crowd, which for the second straight night implored manager Joe Girardi to play the retiring slugger with chants of “We want A-Rod.”

Before the game, New York radio station WFAN aired an interview with Rodriguez in which he acknowledged he “acted like an ass” two years ago after his connections to the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug facility in Florida were revealed, leading to him being suspended for the entire 2014 season. Rodriguez sent his attack dogs after a number of people to whom he was close, including his cousin and confidante Yuri Sucart, and filed lawsuits against the Yankees, Major League Baseball, then-commissioner Bud Selig and the MLB Players Association in a desperate attempt to avoid punishment.

“I’m upset about the mistakes, and I’m disappointed,” Rodriguez told WFAN’s Suzyn Waldman. “But I’m even more disappointed that I acted like an ass.”

Added A-Rod: “I hope to be able to pay it forward and let youngsters know about my mistakes.”

Rodriguez said he remembered Waldman encouraging him after his ban was over.

“You said to me, ‘Alex, I want to see that young man who was full of life with a great smile,’ ” Rodriguez recalled. “I’ve done everything in my power to try to be that kid again.”

Meanwhile, Yankees manager Joe Girardi was peppered with questions about his decision not to start Rodriguez for the first two games of this series after saying at Rodriguez’s Sunday press conference that A-Rod would play. Girardi has admitted getting caught up in the emotion Sunday before changing his mind.

“My job description does not entail a farewell tour,” Girardi said Wednesday. “My job description is to try to win every game and to try to put everyone in the best possible position to do that, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Added Girardi: “I have a responsibility to the game of baseball. No one individual is ever bigger than this game. No one. No one. No one.”

— Wichita State basketball coach Gregg Marshall was suspended by the school for his actions in an exhibition game Tuesday against McGill University in Montreal. Marshall, frustrated with the officiating, became irate and caused a scene on the court after receiving his second technical foul and being ejected. Assistant coaches and players tried to hold back Marshall, but he pushed them away and appeared to become angry with them, not leaving until he got his chance to have his say with the officials.

“I’m definitely not proud of my reaction to that situation, but at some point your players have to know you’re going to stand up for them and you’ve got some fight in you,” Marshall told the Wichita Eagle after the game, which Wichita rallied to win. “Once I reacted, I said, ‘I might as well get my money’s worth.’ ”

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Bills linebacker Reggie Ragland expected to miss entire season

08.10.16 at 12:47 pm ET
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Reggie Ragland

Reggie Ragland

The always-quotable Rex Ryan declared in June that the Bills “won the offseason.” Just about a month away from the regular season, it would be tough to make that case, following another injury to the team’s lineup. On Wednesday, the Bills announced that linebacker Reggie Ragland most likely will miss the entire season with a torn ligament in his left knee. Ragland is expected to have surgery to repair the ACL sometime this week. Ragland hurt his knee in practice last Friday while going after a ball carrier.

The Bills traded three draft picks to be able to select Ragland out of Alabama in the second round of this year’s draft. Buffalo’s first-round draft choice, pass rusher Shaq Lawson, also is sidelined for at least a month because he underwent shoulder surgery in May.

On Sunday the Bills signed David Hawthorne and former Patriot Brandon Spikes to help with depth at linebacker.

Read More: Buffalo Bills, Reggie Ragland,

ESPN announcer John Saunders dead at 61

08.10.16 at 11:34 am ET
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John Saunders

John Saunders

Longtime ESPN announcer John Saunders died at the age of 61, the network announced Wednesday. No cause of death was given.

“John was an extraordinary talent and his friendly, informative style has been a warm welcome to sports fans for decades,” ESPN president John Skipper said in a statement. “His wide range of accomplishments across numerous sports and championship events is among the most impressive this industry has ever seen. More importantly, John was a beloved and devoted family man who cared deeply about people and causes, as evidenced by his long-standing efforts as a passionate board member for The V Foundation for Cancer Research.

“He was one of the most significant and influential members of the ESPN family, as a colleague and mentor, and he will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his loved ones at this extremely difficult time.”

In addition to anchoring SportsCenter and hosting studio shows, including “The Sports Reporters,” Saunders covered college football, basketball and NHL since joining the network in 1986.

A native of Canada, Saunders played college hockey at Western Michigan before switching to the broadcast side.

“John Saunders represented everything that was good in a human being. He was all about family and helping people,” said ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale. “He was as good as it gets and he had deep loyalty and love for others. His work with The V Foundation was so special — he loved Jimmy V and poured his heart and soul into the cause.”

“He was always willing to share and give and he played a vital role in the success of helping so many. I can’t believe this stunning and horrible news. He will be forever in our thoughts.”

Saunders leaves his wife and two daughters.

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Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Indians manager Terry Francona leaves game after suffering chest pains

08.10.16 at 8:01 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: Yankees at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Phillies at Dodgers, 3 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Indians at Nationals, 6 p.m. (MLB Network)
Soccer: U.S. Open Cup semifinal, FC Dallas at Galaxy, 10 p.m. (ESPN2)
Olympics: Men’s water polo, United States vs. France, 10:40 a.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Men’s rugby, United States vs. Fiji, 12:30 p.m. (USA Network)
Olympics: Women’s volleyball, United States vs. Serbia, 1 p.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Women’s basketball, United States vs. Serbia, 2:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Women’s field hockey, United States vs. Japan, 4 p.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Men’s basketball, United States vs. Australia, 6 p.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Swimming, 9 p.m. (NBC)


Terry Francona

Terry Francona

— On the same day Giants manager Bruce Bochy was released from a Miami hospital after spending a night under observation with an undisclosed illness, Indians manager Terry Francona left his team’s game against the Nationals after suffering chest pains while conducting his pregame session with the media.

“I don’t think I’m having a heart attack,” Francona told reporters when he started feeling uncomfortable. “If I’m having one, just don’t take my answers if they’re bad answers.”

Francona, whose medical history includes two pulmonary embolisms, remained at Nationals Park for the start of the game after being examined by stadium medical personnel and saying he was feeling better. Although he complained of dizziness and sweats, the 57-year-old former Red Sox boss was spotted in the dugout while bench coach Brad Mills ran the team, then he went back to his hotel room.

“We really haven’t talked to him, yet, and I really don’t know,” Mills said after the game when asked about Francona’s status. “He started feeling ill and I know the doctors checked him out and so forth, and they just felt it would be better for him to probably go back to the hotel. And he did.

“Knowing him, he was probably really agonizing during the game. But I think he’s doing fine, hopefully. We’ll see how it works out for tomorrow.”

Mills, who guided the AL Central-leading Indians to a 3-1 victory in the interleague affair, said the team was encouraged by Francona’s demeanor after his examination.

“Everybody cares about him,” Mills said. “Everybody likes him. I think it was good that they were able to see him at least walk from the training room to his office. I think that really helped.”

Meanwhile, Bochy, 61, did not share the reason for his visit to the hospital after returning to manage his team Tuesday night. He underwent a procedure in February 2015 to insert two stents to aid his heart, and he had arthroscopic left shoulder surgery shortly before spring training.

“I’m back at work,” Bochy said in a text message to The Associated Press.

— Prince Fielder’s career is in jeopardy as the Rangers slugger is not expected to receive clearance from doctors to play again after his second neck surgery, according to reports out of Texas.

Fielder, who had a cervical fusion on July 29 to repair a herniation between two disks in his neck — and he had a similar procedure two years earlier — will discuss the situation with the media Wednesday.

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New Jersey’s latest bid for legal sports gambling fails

08.09.16 at 11:51 am ET
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A federal appeals court on Tuesday once again denied New Jersey’s lengthy attempt to legalize sports betting, specifically at racetracks and casinos.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled that New Jersey’s wish to bring Las-Vegas style sports gambling to its horse racing tracks and casinos was in violation of the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, or PASPA, which limits betting on sports to only a few states.

Ten of the judges ruled against the state, while Judges Julio Fuentes and Thomas Vanaskie gave dissenting opinions.

The NCAA and the four major professional sports leagues — MLB, the NFL, the NBA and the NHL — have sued New Jersey repeatedly since 2012, when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie authorized the state to allow legal sports betting. The leagues got involved months later. The state has struggled in its fight for legalized sports betting, as the majority of the court rulings have been in favor of the leagues and the NCAA.

Nevada is currently the only state to allow betting on individual games, while Delaware offers parlay betting on multiple games where players must pick several games correctly to win.

In his dissent released on Tuesday, Fuentes argued that New Jersey’s repeal on laws against sports betting did not mean it was permitting sports betting. He wrote that he does not see how the state’s repeal is “tantamount to authorizing by law a sports wagering scheme in violation PASPA.”

State Senator Raymond Lesniak, who is in front of the sports betting campaign, has said he’ll ask the United States Supreme Court to hear the case.

“It’s a long shot, but at least we have two dissenting votes on our side,” Lesniak said Tuesday morning.

Read More: New Jersey, sports gambling,

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Former NFL QB Tim Tebow to make bid at baseball career

08.09.16 at 8:05 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: Yankees at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Indians at Nationals, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
Soccer: UEFA Super Cup, Real Madrid vs. Sevilla, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: U.S. Open Cup semifinals, Fire at Revolution, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
Olympics: Women’s water polo, United States vs. Spain, 10 a.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Men’s volleyball, United States vs. Italy, 1 p.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Women’s soccer, United States vs. Colombia, 5 p.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Swimming, women’s gymnastics, 8 p.m. (NBC)


Tim Tebow

Tim Tebow

— Tim Tebow is making another run at the pros — only this time, it will be baseball instead of football.

Tebow’s agents revealed to ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the former NFL quarterback has been working out the past year as an outfielder and plans to hold a tryout for major league teams later this month.

An all-state baseball player in Florida who hit .494 as a junior, Tebow has not played a full baseball season since his senior year of high school in 2005.

“Obviously we support Tim in his pursuit of a baseball career, as we have in all his ventures,” Tebow’s football agent, Jimmy Sexton, told Schefter.

“Tim’s athletic ability, his work ethic, his leadership and his competitiveness were evident in football and will show in baseball. Knowing Tim’s passion and desire, we won’t be surprised by anything he accomplishes.”

Tebow, who turns 29 Sunday, has been working as an analyst for ESPN, and he is expected to remain in that role during his baseball bid.

The Heisman Trophy winner as a sophomore at Florida in 2007, Tebow played for the Broncos and Jets before signing with the Patriots in 2013, but he never made it out of training camp.

— Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib practiced Monday for the first time since suffering a gunshot wound to his right leg on June 5 in an incident at a Dallas bar.

Taleb, who missed the first 10 days of training camp, was limited in practice, participating for about 35 minutes, but was excited to return to the field.

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Photos: U.S. highlights from 2016 Summer Olympics

08.08.16 at 9:59 am ET
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After the first weekend of the Rio Olympics, the United States leads all countries with 12 medals and is tied for first with three golds. As is usually the case, it’s USA swimming that has grabbed the early headlines, with Katie Ledecky setting a world record to win gold in the 400-meter freestyle and Michael Phelps winning his 19th Olympic gold as a member of the 4×100-meter freestyle relay team.

Check out our running Olympics photo gallery on Facebook for all the best U.S. moments throughout the Games.

Michael Phelps and Caleb Dressel celebrate their gold in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay. (Rob Schumacher/USA Today)

Michael Phelps and Caleb Dressel celebrate their gold in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay. (Rob Schumacher/USA Today)

Monday’s Morning Mashup: Unforgiving New York media not convinced by latest Alex Rodriguez ‘con job’

08.08.16 at 8:21 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: Giants at Marlins, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
Olympics: Women’s basketball, United States vs. Spain, 11 a.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Women’s volleyball, United States vs. Netherlands, 2 p.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Men’s gymnastics, 3 p.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Men’s basketball, United States vs. Venezuela, 6 p.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics, Swimming, 9 p.m. (NBC)


— The New York media soured on Alex Rodriguez a long time ago, and they were not in a forgiving mood when an emotional A-Rod announced Sunday that he will play his final game for the Yankees on Friday before becoming a special adviser to the team.

Speculation immediately began that Rodriguez — four home runs shy of 700 — will change his mind and hook on with another team in an attempt to reach another milestone before he walks away for good.

“I think he believes he still can [play], but this [adviser] relationship with the Yankees is going to move forward now,” YES analyst John Flaherty said. “And I wonder after a couple of weeks if Alex Rodriguez says: ‘You know what, I miss this [game already] so much I want to revisit [my decision to retire].’ ”

Rodriguez was peppered with questions about whether Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner pushed him into retirement, offering him a chance to leave with some grace instead of being released (with almost $27 million remaining on his contract for the rest of this season and next year).

“I don’t think the conversations got that aggressive,” said the 41-year-old Rodriguez, who is hitting just .205. “I didn’t think they needed to. I have immense respect for Hal Steinbrenner. I really focused on the positive part of the conversation.”

Steinbrenner added to the skepticism by skipping the press conference and instead issuing a press release, while general manager Brian Cashman acknowledged that Rodriguez could decide to play for another team after Friday, saying: “He does have the ability to do that, or go into broadcasting. … He can do anything he wants.”

New York Daily News columnist Bob Raissman called the announcement “just another victimless con job in the world of sports.”

Newsday’s David Lennon wrote: “This was a bitter, inevitable divorce spun as a conscious uncoupling.”

In the New York Post, Joel Sherman compared A-Rod’s decision to accept his release to when he said he would fight his drug suspension in 2014 but eventually relented.

Wrote Sherman: “Let’s be clear that for the second time in 2 1/2 years, Alex Rodriguez simply accepted the inevitable and relented to do what was best for Alex Rodriguez. … Again, he saw the inevitable, figured out what was best for himself — and blinked.”

— The NFL season got off to a rocky start Sunday night as the league canceled the Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio, due to poor field conditions.

“This is a hard decision, but we know it is the right decision,” Hall president David Baker said. “In some respects a hard decision because of the impact it has. This is an important game to the people in Canton.”

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Thinking Out Loud: Invasion of visiting teams’ fans at Fenway a sign of times

08.05.16 at 5:50 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … and does anyone know where one-time Patriots linemen go after football?

— Has anyone else noticed the emergence of — gasp! – fans of other teams showing up at Fenway Park this season? This has long been a trademark of Red Sox fans at other stadiums across the country (right, Tampa? Baltimore? Toronto?), but for some reason, Sox rivals are returning the favor this year in surprising numbers.

— The recent San Francisco Giants series at Fenway was a perfect example of this phenomenon, with the stands crowded in Orange and Black jerseys and T-shirts. Even one fan sitting down from me wearing an orange wig, and I tolerated it, somehow. Now I ask you, if the Sox hadn’t been a last-place team the past two seasons, would any of this be happening?

— Of course not. True Sox fans would snap these tickets up in a, well, in a New York minute. Let this be a lesson, Mr. Henry and Mr. Werner, whenever you decide to go “on the cheap” in your hiring and firing. Spend it, to make it. Just sayin’.

— Like everyone else, there was mild disappointment in not being able to swing a trade deadline deal for Chris Sale, but I’ll wager the discussion over bringing him to Boston picks up again in the offseason. As for the one deadline deal done, hard to say right now that it wasn’t Abad one. Thank you, I’ll be here all week. Try the veal.

— Andrew Benintendi got his anticipated call-up, becoming the first player in the history of the High-A Salem (Va.) Red Sox (Carolina League) to advance to the majors in the same year he started in Salem. Of course, Salem only started playing ball in 2009, but hey, it’s still a significant move up.

— He’s also the first Red Sox player to get the call up straight from Double-A (Portland Sea Dogs) to the big leagues since Boston did that with Josh Reddick in ’09.

— But will he be a good major league player? How often do young players make a two-class jump and succeed right away? Like, never? Dealer Dave Dombrowski said early last month that Benintendi probably could handle fielding and baserunning in the bigs, but that his offense wasn’t quite major league ready — although Benintendi picked up his first two hits Wednesday night. Major league pitching will continue to be an awakening for him, only a little more than a year removed from facing collegiate pitching.

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Report: Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira to announce retirement at end of season

08.05.16 at 9:56 am ET
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Mark Teixeira

Mark Teixeira

The Yankees scheduled a press conference for Friday at 3 p.m. regarding first baseman Mark Teixeira, and reports out of New York — starting with a tweet from ESPN’s Buster Olney — indicate it will be to announce that the 36-year-old will retire at the end of the season.

Teixeira has struggled this year, hitting just .198/.287/.340 with 10 home runs and 27 RBIs in 77 games for the 54-54 Yankees. He missed about three weeks in June with torn knee cartilage and also missed some games due to issues with his neck.

A three-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove winner, Teixeira finished second in AL MVP balloting in 2009, his first year with the Yankees, when he led with league with 39 home runs, 122 RBIs and 344 total bases. The Red Sox engaged in negotiations with Teixeira when he was a free agent after the 2008 season, but when Boston would not meet his price, the Yankees stepped in and signed him.

In his 14-year career spent with the Rangers, Braves, Angels and Yankees, Teixeira is batting .269/.361/.511 with 404 home runs and 1,281 RBIs.

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