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Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: NFL acknowledges officials’ error as Seahawks beat Lions after crucial blown call

10.06.15 at 7:50 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 playoffs: Astros at Yankees, 8:08 p.m. (ESPN)
Basketball: Exhibition, Celtics vs. Olympia Milano, 2:30 p.m. (CSNNE)
WNBA Finals: Fever at Lynx, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)


Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright acknowledged he intentionally batted the fumbled ball out of the back of the end zone with 1:51 remaining, in case it wasn’t obvious enough to anyone who watched Monday night’s game on television (see the video here).

The on-field officials, however, got it wrong, and the league has a new controversy after Seattle escaped with a controversial 13-10 victory over the Lions.

Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson was reaching for the goal line and a go-ahead touchdown when he was hit and the ball bounced into the end zone. Wright, unaware that it’s illegal to hit a ball out, did just that. Yet instead of Detroit retaining possession at the 1-yard line, Seattle was awarded the ball at the 20 and went on to run out the clock.

“People do it all the time, though … is that illegal? Explain that to me,” Wright said in his postgame press conference when told his play was against the rules.

“I was just running to the ball, and the ball was right there. And I think they teach us to knock the ball out of bounds, so I wanted to make a smart play and it worked out for us.”

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll knows his team dodged a bullet.

“[Wright] was trying to knock it out. He did that,” Carroll said. “So it’s unfortunate the officials didn’t know … for their sake.”

NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said the back judge — who was looking right at the play — felt the bat was unintentional, and the call is not reversible by replay. He said the missed call is unacceptable.

“It’s a foul,” he said. “We have to make that call.”

Lions coach Jim Caldwell didn’t want to discuss the issue, telling reporters to “talk to Blandino.”

Added Caldwell: “What can you do? You’re not going to cry about it, that’s for sure.”

— Donald Trump weighed in on the Washington Redskins nickname controversy and said the team should not be obligated to come up with a new name.

“Honestly, I don’t think they should change the name, unless the owner wanted to,” Trump said. “I know Indians that are extremely proud of that name. They think it’s a positive.”

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Read More: Donald Trump, K.J. Wright, Redskins,

Yankees LHP CC Sabathia to skip playoffs for alcohol rehab

10.05.15 at 1:48 pm ET
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The Yankees‘ postseason hopes were dealt a blow Monday when pitcher CC Sabathia announced that he is checking into an alcohol rehabilitation center and will not participate in the playoffs.

“Today I am checking myself into an alcohol rehabilitation center to receive the professional care and assistance needed to treat my disease,” Sabathia said in a statement released through the Yankees. “I love baseball and I love my teammates like brothers, and I am also fully aware that I am leaving at a time when we should all be coming together for one last push toward the World Series.

“It hurts me deeply to do this now, but I owe it to myself and to my family to get myself right. I want to take control of my disease, and I want to be a better man, father and player.

“I want to thank the New York Yankees organization for their encouragement and understanding. Their support gives me great strength and has allowed me to move forward with this decision with a clear mind.”

The Yankees host the Astros on Tuesday in the American League wild card game. Masahiro Tanaka is scheduled to start that game. Should New York win, Luis Severino and Michael Pineda are expected to pitch in the American League Division Series, with perhaps Adam Warren inserted into the rotation in place of Sabathia.

Sabathia, who was just 6-10 with a 4.73 ERA in 29 starts this season, said he plans to return to the team next season.

“As difficult as this decision is to share publicly, I don’t want to run and hide,” Sabathia said in the statement. “But for now please respect my family’s need for privacy as we work through this challenge together.

“Being an adult means being accountable. Being a baseball player means that others look up to you. I want my kids — and others who may have become fans of mine over the years — to know that I am not too big of a man to ask for help. I want to hold my head up high, have a full heart and be the type of person again that I can be proud of. And that’s exactly what I am going to do.

“I am looking forward to being out on the field with my team next season playing the game that brings me so much happiness.”

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Monday’s Morning Mashup: Rex Ryan defends Bills’ aggressiveness after 17 penalties in loss to Giants

10.05.15 at 7:21 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.

NFL: Lions at Seahawks, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI-AM)


Rex Ryan‘s Bills are leading the league, but not in the right categories. In Sunday’s 24-10 loss to the visiting Giants, the Bills committed 17 penalties, giving them a league-leading 57 this season. In fact, it’s the most penalties by a team through four games in a decade.

Despite that, Ryan found positives in his team’s aggressiveness.

“Well, I’m going to tell you something: I’m proud of the way this team played,” an animated Ryan said after his team fell to 2-2. “Can you play a lot smarter? Absolutely. But I’ll take a team that can fight over a team that won’t — that will sit back and take it — any day of the week. And bring on the next team.

“So that’s how I look at it. Give me a team that’s got some fight, and we’ll compete to the very end, right, wrong or indifferent. No matter how good the officiating is, or whatever.”

Ryan did not appreciate members of the media saying his team had an issue with discipline, even though Buffalo had two touchdowns called back due to penalties Sunday.

“You guys write the story, so you’ll write it the way you want to write it,” Ryan said. “I know the one thing I know for a fact is that we have heart. The discipline things? I get it. When you have 17 penalties, that’s obviously a sign of lack of discipline. That’s not the real deal, but this is a free country. Write what you believe.”

Added Ryan: “I get it, no question about it. We can focus on the negatives and all that — and I get it, that’s your guys’ job — but you might not understand the game the way I understand [it] because I’ve been on the other side. I’ve been a part of a 20-some-penalty performance by the Ravens, OK? And we went on and we fixed it. We’ll fix it here.”

Some players say they believe the officials are making calls based on the Bills’ reputation, and defensive tackle Kyle Williams said they’ll now have to be “choirboys” because other teams will try to goad them into lashing out.

“Oh, I think we’re there,” Williams said of the reputation. “Especially in the fourth quarter, when we go back out. [Linebacker] Preston [Brown] is ripping out a ball and he gets 15 yards thrown on him for throwing an elbow when he’s trying to rip the ball out. So I think once you get to that point, they’re looking for things, whether they’re legitimate or not, they’re looking for things like that.”

However, safety Corey Graham called Sunday’s display “embarrassing.”

“One after another, dumb penalties,” the former University of New Hampshire star said. “It’s terrible. We can’t win games like that.”

— The Colts have taken a step back this season with their play on the field, and now it appears their game-day staff has taken a step back in time.

Three female reporters were temporarily denied entry to the Jaguars locker room after Sunday’s game in Indianapolis by an attendant.

Tweeted Yahoo’s Graham Watson: I was just blocked from a locker room by an old, out-of-touch geezer who wasn’t sure women were allowed because “you know how guys are.”

“At first we thought we had the wrong door,” Watson told the Indianapolis Star. “He said, ‘€˜I’m not sure you’re allowed back there.’ ”

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Read More: Graham Watson, Jason Whitlock, Rex Ryan,

Thinking Out Loud: How does Larry Brown still have his job after NCAA punishment?

10.02.15 at 5:01 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to Allen Craig?

— Great to hear Providence received a verbal commitment from one of its top point guard targets for 2016 — Maliek White from Richmond, Virginia — early this week. Undoubtedly, the lure of getting the ball in his hands right away as Kris Dunn departs for the pros played a big factor. But now the focus and attention has to be on looking good getting off of the airplane — and add a little size.

— Some of that size just walked out the door toward Lexington, Kentucky. Manchester, New Hampshire’s Wenyen Gabriel, a highly ranked and sought-after big-man target for Ed Cooley and the Friars since he was “knee high to a pup,” opted for UK this week over PC and Duke as per his Twitter page. Can anyone really say they’re surprised by this? Great to be in the mix with big boys, but eventually you have to beat the big boys every once in a while in order to be one.

— Might be time to hang ‘€˜em up, coach. Or, at least return to the pros. SMU basketball coach Larry Brown saw his program hammered by NCAA sanctions this week, including a postseason ban, the loss of nine scholarships over the next three years and Brown himself suspended for nine games this year. Every stop he’s made on the college trail, Brown (and his programs at UCLA and Kansas previously) has been hit with some kind of penalty.

— And still, even in its self-righteous glory, the NCAA still got this thing wrong — punishing players who had absolutely nothing to do with the alleged violation(s).

— As for Brown, he is still the only coach who has won NCAA and NBA titles. And he still has his job.

— Perhaps the question should be asked in Dallas: Is it worth it? You’ll recall SMU was the site of the NCAA‘s first (and so far only) death penalty, given to the football program in the mid-1980s. That’s some legacy for a religion-based institution of “higher” learning, don’t you think? Stupid is as stupid does.

— I will now ask the next obvious questions. When does the NCAA lower the boom on North Carolina? Or on John Calipari? Inquiring minds (and opponents, and recruits) want to know.

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Read More: Fritz Pollard, Larry Brown,

Friday’s Morning Mashup: Bill Simmons rips ESPN’s Deflategate coverage, says network ‘is in the bag for the NFL’

10.02.15 at 8:07 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Red Sox at Indians, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Angels at Rangers, 8:05 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL preseason: Bruins at Capitals, 7 p.m. (NHL Network)
NHL preseason: Blue Jackets at Sabres, 10 p.m. (NHL Network)
College football: Memphis at South Florida, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College football: Temple at Charlotte, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College football: Columbia at Princeton, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)


Bill Simmons

Bill Simmons

— Bill Simmons, finally free from the shackles of ESPN, had harsh words for his former company for its slanted coverage of Deflategate and soft treatment of commissioner Roger Goodell.

“Granted, I’m a little biased here from what my experiences were the last two years at ESPN,” he said on an episode of his new “Bill Simmons podcast,” which was released Thursday and quickly shot to the top of the iTunes chart. “The way everyone else was covering Goodell’s role in this whole story versus the way ESPN covered it, it was embarrassing. I couldn’t believe nobody called out ESPN about it because you had Dan Wetzel at Yahoo, you had Sally Jenkins at the Washington Post, you had all the people in Boston, you had different radio personalities and people really going after how the NFL was handling this, how Goodell was handling this, all this stuff.

“And especially in the weeks after the broken cell phone thing, when it came out that they had obviously leaked stuff, that something really legitimately shady was going on, and yet if you went to ESPN you didn’t see anything. Charlie Pierce on Grantland was the only person who went after them. They didn’t really do anything until that giant Don Van Natta and Seth Wickersham Outside The Lines investigation. It’s hard to come away from that and not think that ESPN is in the bag for the NFL — because they were.”

Simmons, who signed a deal with HBO after his mutual departure from ESPN this summer, mocked ESPN’s “Mike and Mike” radio show, joking that Goodell appeared with Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic because he knew they were “going to get rough” with the commissioner.

Simmons also expressed frustration with ESPN refusing to allow him to appear on radio stations that are not affiliated with the network.

“For years and years and years and years I was not allowed on [WFAN legend Mike Francesa’s] show because of the ESPN policy that they only want you to be on ESPN Radio shows,” Simmons said. “Which I kind of understand except for the part if I am trying to raise my profile in different cities, say a city like Boston where I grew up and lived 10 years after college, it maybe might help me in those cities to go on the local radio shows there. Francesa, I could never go on and it was always a dream to go on.”

— Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith was knocked out of Thursday night’s overtime win over the Steelers after he was hit in the back, and he made it clear he won’t soon forget it. The only problem is, he appears to be threatening revenge on the wrong player.

Late in the third quarter, Smith was tackled by linebacker Lawrence Timmons and cornerback Antwon Blkae. However, Smith told reporters he blamed an “ex-teammate,” apparently safety Mike Mitchell. Both players were members of the 2013 Panthers.

“How do I feel? Probably for the first time in my career, I feel like I’m 36,” Smith said after the game. “I got speared in the back by an ex-teammate. I kind of know his character, who he is. After he hit me, he said, ‘How do you like that.’ ”

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Read More: Bill Simmons, ESPN, Steve Kerr, steve smith

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Colts confident ailing QB Andrew Luck will play Sunday

10.01.15 at 8:03 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: Red Sox at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. (NESN, ESPN2; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Cubs at Reds, 12:30 p.m. (MLB Network)
NFL: Ravens at Steelers, 8:25 p.m. (CBS, NFL Network; WEEI-AM)
College football: Miami at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College football: Alabama State at Texas Southern, 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
NHL preseason: Blackhawks at Blues, 8 p.m. (NNHL Network)
NHL preseason: Avalanche at Ducks, 10:30 p.m. (NHL Network)
Soccer: UEFA Europa, Tottenham at Monaco, 1 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: UEFA Europa, Sion at Liverpool, 3 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: NWSL champoonship: FC Kansas City vs. Seattle Reign, 9:30 p.m. (FS1)


— As if the season isn’t going bad enough for the 1-2 Colts, quarterback Andrew Luck sat out most of Wednesday’s practice for what the team said was a sore throwing shoulder.

Coach Chuck Pagano said the move was precautionary, and that Luck is expected to play Sunday against the Jaguars.

“I’m not a witch doctor, I don’t have a crystal ball. I just listen to the trainers and the doctors, but I wouldn’t bet against [No.] 12, ever,” Pagano said, adding: “Supreme confidence that he’ll play.”

Luck, who was injured during this past Sunday’s win over the Titans — although he would not revel precisely how or when the injury occurred — has not missed a game since being drafted No. 1 overall in 2012.

“There’s always bumps and bruises that show up in high school, college and the NFL. You deal with stuff, you manage it,” Luck said. “It’s nothing more than that in my mind.”

There has been speculation that Luck’s injury actually is to his ribs, especially after Luck winced Sunday when backup Matt Hasselbeck tapped him after a touchdown pass. The Colts added quarterback Alex Tanney to the practice squad Tuesday, and Hasselbeck handled most of the throwing Wednesday.

“It’s probably not the first time they’ve tried to [give Luck some rest],” Hasselbeck said. “It’s probably the first time he gave in.”

— Mets slugger Yoenis Cespedes has two bruised fingers but no broken bones after taking a pitch off his hand during Wednesday night’s loss to the Phillies.

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Read More: Andrew Luck, Chuck Pagano, Derrick Rose, Yoenis Cespedes

Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Soccer referee brings gun on field after players get too aggressive

09.30.15 at 7:50 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: Red Sox at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Cardinals at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. (ESPN)
MLB: Dodgers at Giants, 10:15 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL preseason: Bruins at Rangers, 7 p.m. (NHL Network)
Soccer: UEFA Champions, Sevilla at Juventus, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Soccer: UEFA Champions, Wolfsburg at Manchester United, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: U.S. Open Cup, Sporting Kansas City at Philadelphia Union, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)


— A soccer referee in Brazil is facing disciplinary action after going to the locker room and bringing a gun on the field in response to aggressive players.

Gabriel Murta, who reportedly is a policeman, was pushed to his breaking point by players from Amantes de Bola during a regional league match in Brumadinho, a town outside Belo Horizonte in the state of Minais Gerais. According to league president Valdenir de Castro, Murta was kicked and slapped as substitutes and the manager from Amantes de Bola invaded the field to demand a red card for a Brumadinho player.

A linesman was able to calm down Murta as the official held the gun in his right hand while pointing at the players with his left hand.

“The Minais Gerais Football Federation has already summonsed the referee and a psychologist to a meeting and I’m going to talk with him [this week],” referees association head Giuliano Bozzano said. “On the basis of that conversation and his account of events and the results of the psychological assessment I’ll decide what if any measures to take.

“What’s happened is obviously not a common occurrence and I don’t want to rush into anything.

“At the moment it happened he’s opted for getting his gun because in his view it was a question of controlling a situation.”

Larry Brown has run afoul of the NCAA again, this time receiving a nine-game suspension and a postseason ban for his program after it was determined that he lied to investigators and failed to address a case of academic fraud involving one of his players. SMU also will lose nine scholarships over the next three seasons.

The NCAA released a report in which it castigated Brown for making “choices against his better judgment when it came to compliance issues.”

“These choices included not reporting possible violations in his program, initially lying to the enforcement staff during the investigation and providing no specific guidance to his staff on rules compliance,” the report added.

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Read More: Andy Moeller, Gabriel Murta, Larry Brown,

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Nationals star Bryce Harper says he’s OK with suspended closer Jonathan Papelbon returning next year

09.29.15 at 8:08 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: Red Sox at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Athletics at Angels, 10:05 p.m. (ESPN)
WNBA playoffs: Fever at Liberty, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Soccer: Champions League, Dinamo Zagreb at Bayern Munich, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Soccer: Champions League, Leverkusen at FC Barcelona, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)


Jonathan Papelbon is done for the season following his dugout attack on teammate Bryce Harper, but Harper said he’d be OK with the outspoken closer returning next season.

“If Paps can help us win a World Series next year, that’s what I need. That’s what this whole clubhouse needs,” Harper said. “We can’t be fighting or anything like that.”

Papelbon was suspended three games by the league for throwing at Orioles star Manny Machado, and the team gave him a four-game punishment for Sunday’s fight. He initially appealed the league ban but dropped it Monday, meaning he’ll miss all of his team’s remaining games.

Harper sat out Monday’s game, which the team said was discipline for the fight, although he had said Sunday it was a scheduled day off.

Harper also said he’s not sure what he could have done to avoid the scrap. Papelbon was criticizing Harper for not running out a fly ball when the exchange became heated and Papelbon grabbed Harper by the throat and pushed him backward.

“If you’re in a bar or if you’re in the dugout or if you’re anywhere, if someone grabs your neck, your first reaction is to do what I did, I guess,” Harper said.

— There was a scary moment in Monday night’s Cardinals-Pirates game in Pittsburgh, as St. Louis left fielder Stephen Piscotty’s head collided with the knee of center fielder Peter Bourjos while Bourjos made a catch of a fly ball.

Piscotty was knocked unconscious by the blow, and he was bleeding from the mouth. He eventually moved his arms while receiving medical attention. He was taken away on a cart and examined at Allegheny General Hospital, where he remained overnight. Manager Mike Matheny said the initial test results “were as good as we can get.”

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Read More: Bryce Harper, Jonathan Papelbon, kobe bryant, Stephen Piscotty

Monday’s Morning Mashup: Jonathan Papelbon apologizes for fight with Nationals teammate Bryce Harper

09.28.15 at 7:49 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: Red Sox at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Cardinals at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. (ESPN2)
MLB: Astros at Mariners, 10:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
NFL: Chiefs at Packers, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI-AM)
Soccer: Premier League, Everton at West Brom, 2:55 p.m. (NBCSN)


Jonathan Papelbon is accepting blame for a dugout fight with Nationals teammate Bryce Harper during Sunday’s 12-5 loss to the Phillies in Washington.

In the top of the eighth inning, Harper popped up to left field and walked out of the batter’s box toward first base. When he returned to the dugout, Papelbon appeared to chastise him for not running out the play. As the confrontation became more heated, Papelbon grabbed Harper by the throat and pushed him backward into the dugout bench as teammates stepped in to break it up.

“I’m in the wrong there. I’ve got to leave that up to our manager,” Papelbon said. “There’s a lot of competition, it’s a long season, it’s a grind. I think we’re going to handle that in-house and stuff like that. I’ve talked to Bryce and told him how we feel. We’re on the same page now, which is good. [We’ll] squash this and head to tomorrow’s game.

“I grew up with brothers, he grew up with brothers, I view him as a brother of mine. Sometimes in this game there’s a lot of testosterone, there’s a lot of intensity that spills over. I think that happened today. For me, I can’t allow that to happen in the middle of a game. You can handle that after the games or allow the manager to handle that. So in that light of it, I’m wrong.”

Harper, who did not play the ninth inning, was dismissive of questions about the incident.

“I mean, he apologized, so, whatever,” Harper said. “I really don’t care.”

Papelbon, who was acquired from Philadelphia in late July, entered Sunday’s game in the eighth with the score tied. He went back out for the ninth and promptly allowed five runs to take the loss.

The Nationals, expected to challenge for the National League pennant, were eliminated from playoff contention Saturday.

— The Jets were off to a 2-0 start, but Sunday was not a good day at the Meadowlands. Not only did New York turn over the ball four times in a 24-17 loss to the previously winless Eagles, the son of one of the Jets coaches found himself in hot water after a couple of antagonistic tweets directed at injured quarterback Geno Smith and cornerback Antonio Cromartie.

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Read More: Antonio Cromartie, Brent Grimes, Bryce Harper, Jonathan Papelbon

Thinking Out Loud: NFL allows Patriots’ opponents to play by own set of rules

09.25.15 at 6:21 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering why we ever gave Miss America contestants the chance to speak?

— “You can observe a lot by watching.” One of my all-time favorite Yogi-isms. We’ll share a few here this week. RIP Yogi.

Yogi Berra certainly had a wonderful life. Yes, he was a New York Yankee, a three-time MVP and 15-year All-Star, but how could any Red Sox fan — any baseball fan — really “hate” him? Yes, good player. Yes, good teammate. Yes, funny guy, even if he didn’t really mean to be. Heaven got another good one this week, I think. He passed on the same date, Sept. 22, as his big league debut 69 years ago.

— Funny, though, that The Associated Press wire story that broke news of Berra’s passing actually said that “New York Yankees Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Bear has died.” Somewhere, Boo-Boo and Ranger Rick are very upset over this.

— But I loved this from the AP story: His wife once asked Berra where he wanted to be buried, in St. Louis, New York or Montclair, New Jersey. “I don’t know,” he said. “Why don’t you surprise me?”

— It’s becoming clearer by the minute, and certainly more so by the game: Teams losing at Gillette can blame whatever they wish, and teams losing at home to the Patriots can do whatever they want to the Patriots and get away with it. Like the Bills blaring of a horn on third downs well past the team breaking the huddle — a distinct rule violation.

— The Patriots have been threatened with fines previously for blaring a ship’s foghorn at opponents inside Gillette, and a memo came out as recently as a week ago saying teams could not play any audio once the play clock reaches 20 seconds. Guess Buffalo didn’t get the memo. Other teams probably won’t either. Get used to it.

— Yogi-ism II: “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

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Read More: Tom Brady, Yogi Berra,