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Report: Cubs, Blue Jays have spoken to Phillies about trade for Jonathan Papelbon

06.11.15 at 9:25 am ET
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Closer Jonathan Papelbon has drawn interest from the Cubs and Blue Jays, according to Ken Rosenthal, and the Phillies seem likely to trade him.

Since Papelbon is making more than $8 million for the remainder of the year and has a $13 million option for next season that will vest if he finishes 26 more games than the 22 he’s already completed, Rosenthal noted both the Jays and Cubs would like to get away with paying as little as possible for the closer financially as well as prospects, but talks are at an “impasse.”

After the Phillies spoke with Toronto late last week, they began more intently scouting the Blue Jays’ minor league affiliates, and “the sense among the industry,” according to Rosenthal, is that Philadelphia would prefer the Jays swap over one with Chicago.

Papelbon, who has a no-trade clause and can refuse a deal if he desires, expressed his willingness during spring training to try a a trade to Toronto.

“Yes, Toronto interests me — if it interests [Phillies general manager] Ruben [Amaro Jr.],” Papelbon told CSN Philadelphia. “I know some of the guys on their coaching staff. They’re a good team. If Ruben can do a deal with them, I’d be interested.”

But, the Cubs could still have a chance at reuniting Papelbon with Theo Epstein, than man who drafted him with the Red Sox in 2003. The Cubs picked up free agent righty Rafael Soriano in part because they’re trying to build up as many late-inning options as they can.

“While Epstein and Hoyer know that Papelbon occasionally is brash and outspoken, they also know that players respect his work habits and competitive spirit — and that he likely would not be a distraction in manager Joe Maddon‘s clubhouse,” Rosenthal wrote.

Papelbon is an unblemished 12-for-12 in save situations this year, posting a 1.13 ERA with 29 strikeouts, six walks and one home run over 24 innings. He was 39-for-43 last season with a 2.04 ERA, striking out 64, walking 15 and surrendering just two home runs in 66 1/3 frames.

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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Yankees place closer Andrew Miller on DL after winning streak snapped

06.11.15 at 8:12 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.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Red Sox at Orioles (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Padres at Braves, noon (MLB Network)
MLB: Giants at Mets, 7:10 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA: Finals, Warriors at Cavaliers, 9 p.m. (ABC; WEEI-AM)
Soccer: Women’s World Cup, Germany vs, Norway, 4 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: Women’s World Cup, China vs. Netherlands, 6 p.m. (FS2)
Soccer: Women’s World Cup, Ivory Coast vs. Thailand, 7 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: Women’s World Cup, Canada vs. New Zealand, 9 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

— While the Red Sox have been battling to stay out of last place in the American League East, the unheralded Yankees are having a surprisingly successful year, spending much of the season in first place.

However, on Wednesday, New York’s seven-game winning streak came to an end with a 5-4 loss to the Nationals in 11 innings. And the day got worse when the team announced that closer Andrew Miller was being placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained flexor mass muscle near the elbow.

Miller, the former Red Sox reliever who signed a four-year, $36 million deal as a free agent this past offseason, has struck out 43 in 26 1/3 innings and has not blown a save in 17 opportunities. He closed out Tuesday’s win but has been having trouble warming up lately.

“My job is to go out there and be able to perform at a high level, and I was kind of getting concerned that I wouldn’t be able to do that,” Miller said. “It’s been building.

“There was no moment or anything like that. It’s just been a little bit tougher every time out lately and I didn’t want to go into a game and not be able to do my job, or not be able to go into a game or something like that and hang guys out to dry.

“For me it’s frustrating. It’s a long season and we’ll take care of it.”

Dellin Betances, who was not used in Wednesday’s game because he has been used so much lately, will shift into the closer role.

“It’s tough,” outfielder Brett Gardner said of Miller’s injury. “We had a pretty good thing going with him and Dellin in the eighth and ninth. We’ll find guys to fill in the best we can. It’s kind of like when Jacoby [Ellsbury] went down — it’s a guy who can’t really be replaced. Just do our best. Other teams aren’t going to wait on us.”

— The future of the Coyotes in Arizona is in doubt after the city of Glendale voted Wednesday night to end an arena lease agreement with the team.

The Glendale City Council voted 5-2 to end the 15-year, $225 million lease agreement signed after the team was purchased from the NHL in 2013. The city said it would be open to renegotiating the deal, but the Coyotes refused.

“We’ve all taken a beating tonight here, and I think it’s all unjust because most of the fans don’t understand the complexity of this issue,” said Glendale mayor Jerry Weiers, who was interrupted by several Coyotes fans at the meeting. “The complexity of this issue is the fact that you don’t have all the information. When you have more information, I think you will have a better understanding.”

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Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Rookie Chris Heston joins Giants’ record-tying streak of no-hitters

06.10.15 at 7:54 am ET
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Welcome to Wednesday’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.

WEDNESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Red Sox at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Nationals at Yankees, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
NHL: Stanley Cup Final, Lightning at Blackhawks, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
Soccer: Exhibition, Germany vs. United States, 2:45 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

— In what has become an annual occurrence, a Giants pitcher threw a no-hitter, with rookie Chris Heston doing the honors Tuesday night against the Mets.

Heston, a 27-year-old right-hander making just the 13th start of his major league career, hit a batter but then struck out the side (all called third strikes) in the ninth inning to close out the 5-0 win. It was the first no-hitter by a rookie since Clay Buchholz of the Red Sox in 2007, and the first no-hitter Heston could recall pitching at any level.

“I definitely threw more in the backyard than I have in real life, that’s for sure,” he said afterward.

Heston, who hit three batters but allowed no other baserunners, struck out Ruben Tejada to end it, then hopped off the mound, slapped his glove and hugged catcher Buster Posey.

“I wasn’t too sure where to go after that last out,” he said.

The Giants are just the second team to have a no-hitter in four straight seasons, joining the 1962-65 Dodgers (all from Sandy Koufax). Tim Lincecum threw no-hitters in 2012 and ’13, and Matt Cain had one last year.

— Bob Costas joined in on the criticism of ESPN for the network’s decision to give the Arthur Ashe Courage Award to Caitlyn Jenner, calling the decision a “crass exploitation play.”

Costas, speaking on Dan Patrick’s radio show Tuesday, said he supported Jenner’s decision to find happiness by switching genders, but he said the network is buying in to the “Keeping Up with the Kardashians culture that has overtaken a good part of the cultural landscape.”

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Read More: Bob Costas, Caitlyn Jenner, Chris Heston, Muhammad Wilkerson

Indians select last year’s No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken at No. 17 in MLB draft

06.09.15 at 8:59 am ET
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With the 17th pick in the 2015 MLB draft, the Indians selected left-handed pitcher Brady Aiken.

Aiken was selected No. 1 overall by the Astros in last year’s draft, however, he refused to sign. The Astros found an irregularity in Aiken’s UCL during pre-draft workouts and withdrew their $6.5 million signing bonus in favor of less money, causing him not to sign.

In an article he wrote for the Players’ Tribune last March, Aiken wrote that he does not regret not signing with the Astros.

“I can honestly say I don’€™t regret not signing,” Aiken wrote. “It was a very difficult decision, but it also was an informed decision. … This wasn’€™t a decision we made lightly. The money wasn’€™t the only factor to consider.”

The 18-year-old enrolled at IMG Academy, a postgraduate institution, in order to remain eligible for the 2015 draft. Just 13 pitches into his first start with the school, he tore his UCL and received Tommy John surgery less than a week later.

In his article, Aiken wrote that he valued an organization that would take care of him and provide an environment for success.

“I wanted to play somewhere I felt comfortable, with a support system I felt would lay the groundwork for a successful and long career,” Aiken wrote. “Making sure I had that in place was worth the frustration of not being able to get on with my career sooner.”

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Read More: Brady Aiken, Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros,

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Shaquille O’Neal admits to deflating basketballs with Lakers

06.09.15 at 8:08 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.

TUESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Red Sox at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Nationals at Yankees, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA: Finals, Warriors at Cavaliers, 9 p.m. (ABC)
Soccer: Women’s World Cup, France vs. England, 1 p.m. (Fox)
Soccer: Women’s World Cup, Spain vs. Costa Rica, 4 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: Women’s World Cup, Colombia vs. Mexico, 4 p.m. (Fox)
Soccer: Women’s World Cup, Brazil vs. South Korea, 7 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

Shaquille O'Neal

Shaquille O’Neal

— As the Deflategate controversy continues, Shaquille O’Neal is the latest athlete to admit to deflating balls before games. O’Neal said on a recent podcast that he would let some air out of basketballs during the Lakers’ championship run in the early 2000s — “Get the ball, ‘Tsssss’ let a little bit of air out, squeeze it — OK, good,” he said.

“Sometimes, in the games during all my championship runs, if a ball was too hard, I let air out,” O’Neal said (via ESPN.com). “I’d have a needle. A friend of mine would have a needle and I would get the game ball. … I needed that extra grip, but I wasn’t doing that for cheating purposes. I just needed the extra grip for my hands so I could palm it, a la Michael Jordan, the way he used to palm it.”

O’Neal insists he was not breaking the rules, because he was not attempting to go below the league-mandated minimum of 7.5 psi.

“First of all, I’m not aware of any letter of the law that says, you can’t let air out of the ball,” O’Neal said. “I’m not aware of that. Second of all, it’s all about my [comfort level]. A lot of times, if the balls have too much air in them, they’re too bouncy. I didn’t want them to be bouncy. I needed that grip.”

Phil Jackson, who coached O’Neal with the Lakers, previously admitted that his Knicks teams used to deflate balls in the 1970s. Like O’Neal, Jackson said it should not be considered illegal because the balls did not fall below the league minimum psi.

Jackson told reporter Sam Smith for a book that other teams used to deflate balls below the NBA standard in an attempt to slow his Michael Jordan-led Bulls teams, but he would carry a pressure gauge and check the game balls so that they could be fixed.

— A defamation suit filed by former 49ers linebacker Ray McDonald against a woman who accused him of rape was dismissed by a California judge, who said McDonald failed to prove the woman talked to anyone but police.

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Read More: Oscar Pistorius, Phil Jackson, Ray McDonald, Shaquille O'Neal

Monday’s Morning Mashup: Email links Sepp Blatter to alleged World Cup bribe

06.08.15 at 7:57 am 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.

MONDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL: Stanley Cup Final, Lightning at Blackhawks, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
Soccer: Women’s World Cup, United States vs. Australia, 7:30 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: Women’s World Cup, Sweden vs. Nigeria, 4 p.m. (Fox)
Soccer: Women’s World Cup, Japan vs. Switzerland, 10 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

Sepp Blatter

Sepp Blatter

— When Sepp Blatter announced last week he would resign as FIFA president, it came as a surprise, as he had been defiant until that point. A report Sunday might have shed some light on why Blatter changed his approach.

According to South Africa’s Sunday Times, a 2007 email from FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke to the South African government makes reference to the alleged $10 million bribe paid to soccer executives after South Africa was awarded the 2010 World Cup, and it mentions that the payment was discussed by Blatter and South African President Thabo Mbeki.

The U.S. Department of Justice has said the $10 million was transferred to then FIFA executive committee member Jack Warner in 2008 for him and two other committee members to share after they voted for South Africa in 2004. American Chuck Blazer, one of the other alleged FIFA recipients, already has admitted receiving bribes in connection with the 2004 vote.

FIFA said in a statement Sunday that the email constitutes “information, not involvement” on behalf of Blatter and Valcke. The organization also claims the money was a legitimate donation to help soccer development in the Caribbean. The DOJ says Warner, from Trinidad, kept most of the money for himself.

Morocco, which lost out to South Africa via a 14-10 vote by FIFA’s ruling panel of executives, also offered a bribe to Warner, the DOJ alleges.

— An ESPN report indicates U.S. Women’s National Team goalie Hope Solo was the “primary aggressor” during her fight with her half-sister and teenage nephew last year, and that she was combative and insulting with officers after her arrest.

The report indicates Solo had been drinking when she arrived at her relatives’ home and initiated the fight. She had faced two counts of domestic violence, but the charges were dismissed on procedural grounds earlier this year.

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Read More: Hope Solo, LeBron James, Mike Aviles, Sepp Blatter

American Pharoah becomes first horse to win Triple Crown since 1978

06.06.15 at 6:59 pm ET
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The drought is over. American Pharoah won Saturday’s Belmont Stakes to become the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years. American Pharoah, with jockey Victor Espinoza on his back, led the race from the start and pulled away from the field down the stretch.

American Pharoah becomes the 12th horse ever to win the Triple Crown. The last to do it before him was Affirmed in 1978. That capped off a stretch that saw three horses win the Triple Crown in a six-year span, with Secretariat accomplishing the feat in 1973 and Seattle Slew doing the same in 1977.

Between Affirmed and American Pharoah, 13 horses had won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness but failed to win the Belmont, including California Chrome last year.

Thinking Out Loud: ESPN errs by passing over Lauren Hill in favor of honoring Caitlyn Jenner

06.05.15 at 5:06 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering if Quahog’s own Adam West is also preparing a run for president?

— A 65-year-old woman named Caitlyn? Sorry, that’s too weird. Ethel, maybe. Or Ruth.

— And while we’re thinking about actual courage, how about ESPN give the ESPYs Arthur Ashe Courage Award, ticketed to Caitlyn (nee Bruce) Jenner, to someone like Lauren Hill, the college basketball player in Ohio who stole our hearts last season while terminally ill with a brain tumor? The twitterverse seemed to agree this week. Just sayin’.

— In case you forgot the story, before she passed away in April, Hill helped raise more than $1.5 million to help fight cancer, all during the final months of her life, knowing she was terminally ill. This isn’t a put-down of Jenner’s trials and tribulations in life at all — it’s simply an acknowledgement of a special moment in time from a rare individual not choosing the national spotlight to tell her story. The spotlight chose Lauren, not the other way around.

— Oh, a good thing did actually come from ESPN’s announcement of Jenner receiving the Ashe Award — it got people to give two bleeps about the ESPYs next month.

— Former Friar Gerard Coleman got a look-see workout from the Celtics a week ago, apparently at the behest of former director of basketball operations Leo Papile — who also coached Coleman in his pre-PC days with the Boston Amateur Basketball Club. It’s not a surprise, as NBA teams always try to keep connections to the local community through tryouts with local players.

— What would be a bit of a surprise, however, is if Coleman gets a shot at sticking on a summer league team or an invite to training camp. You never know. He was a good kid who is living with the decisions he’s made in his young life. Just like some other recent young athletes at PC who will undoubtedly also learn from mistakes, if they haven’t already.

— Some major hoop news this past week at URI, as Memphis transfer wing Kuran Iverson received a waiver to become eligible to play at the start of the season for the Rams, rather than have to wait until the end of the first semester. It means, of course, that Iverson will be eligible to face Providence at the Ryan Center on Dec. 5. Getcha’ popcorn ready.

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Read More: Caitlyn Jenner, Gerard Coleman, Kuran Iverson, Lauren Hill

Friday’s Morning Mashup: Judge sets date for second Aaron Hernandez murder trial

06.05.15 at 8:08 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.

FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Athletics at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Angels at Yankees, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
Soccer: Exhibition, United States vs. Netherlands, 2:20 p.m. (ESPN)
Tennis: French Open, 11 a.m. (NBC)

AROUND THE WEB:

Aaron Hernandez is accused of orchestrating the murder of Odin Lloyd. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Aaron Hernandez is accused of killing two men in Boston in 2012. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Aaron Hernandez‘s second murder trial was scheduled to start with jury selection Dec. 1, a judge ruled Thursday. The actual trial is expected to begin the following month.

Hernandez, who was not in court for Thursday’s proceedings, is charged with shooting two men to death after an incident at a Boston nightclub in 2012. He also is charged with witness intimidation for allegedly shooting a friend, Alexander Bradley, in Florida after Bradley brought up the murder. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to both shootings.

Hernandez already is serving a life sentence for the shooting death of Odin Lloyd in 2013, after being convicted of first-degree murder in April. His lawyers have appealed that conviction and implied that a juror was tainted by outside information.

— Ireland’s soccer association received a $5 million payment from FIFA so that it would not sue after an uncalled handball from French star Thierry Henry in a 2009 World Cup qualifier led to the winning goal in a loss that cost Ireland a spot in the 2010 World Cup.

Football Association of Ireland chief executive John Delaney claimed the deal was a good one for his organization.

“We felt we had a legal case against FIFA because of how the World Cup playoff hadn’t worked out for us with the Henry handball,” Delaney said Thursday in an interview on an Irish radio station (via The Guardian). “We came to an agreement. That was a Thursday, and on Monday the agreement was all signed and done. It’s a very good agreement for the FAI and a very legitimate agreement for the FAI.”

FIFA responded to Delaney’s claim by saying the payment actually was intended to be a loan meant to help in the construction of a stadium, although it confirmed there was a confidential agreement for the FAI not to sue over the controversy.

— The Broncos‘ offseason, already beset with injuries and legal issues, just keeps getting worse. John Bowlen Jr., son of owner Pat Bowlen and a team marketing assistant, was placed on indefinite leave Thursday, hours after being arrested on charges of domestic violence.

Accused of pushing his girlfriend against a bathroom wall during a confrontation Wednesday night, John Bowlen was arrested and held overnight at the Arapahoe County Jail, next to the Broncos‘ suburban headquarters, before being released Thursday on $1,000 bond. He is due back in court July 6.

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Read More: Aaron Hernandez, FIFA, John Bowlen, Pat Bowlen

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Disgraced former soccer executive Jack Warner promises to expose ‘avalanche’ of dirt on FIFA

06.04.15 at 8:04 am ET
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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.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Twins at Red Sox, 4:05 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Athletics at Tigers, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Orioles at Astros, 4 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Cubs at Nationals, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Cardinals at Dodgers, 10 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA: Finals, Cavaliers at Warriors, 9 p.m. (ABC)
Tennis: French Open, 9 a.m. (ESPN2), 11 a.m. (NBC)

AROUND THE WEB:

Jack Warner

Jack Warner

— Disgraced former soccer executive Jack Warner isn’t going down without a fight. The Trinidad and Tobago politician, one of 14 individuals indicted by U.S. prosecutors last week in soccer’s corruption scandal, went on television Wednesday and said he has documents that show a connection between FIFA and his country’s 2010 presidential elections.

“I will no longer keep secrets for them who actively seek to destroy the company,” Warner said during his paid political advertisement.

Warner, who is charged with wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering, claims that he is putting himself in harm’s way, saying: “I reasonably actually fear for my life.”

However, he added: “Not even death will stop the avalanche that is coming. The die is cast. There can be no turning back. Let the chips fall where they fall.”

After the televised speech, Warner spoke at his Independent Liberal Party’s rally to a cheering crowd of supporters and apologized for “not disclosing my knowledge of these events before.”

He implied that he has information about FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who has not been charged with a crime but who announced earlier this week that he will step down after a successor is selected.

“Blatter knows why he fell,” Warner said. “And if anyone else knows, I do.”

— Running back LeSean McCoy implied Eagles coach Chip Kelly was racially biased after McCoy was traded to the Bills this offseason, noting that Kelly had traded away some of Philadelphia top black players, but on Wednesday he said he doesn’t feel the need to support his claim.

“I don’t have to explain myself to no one,” McCoy said after being questioned by reporters following Buffalo’s voluntary practice Wednesday. “I said what I said. It’s how I felt at the time. I’m done with that.”

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Read More: Chip Kelly, Jack Warner, Josh Hamilton, LeSean McCoy