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Friday’s Morning Mashup: IOC approves 271 Russian athletes to compete in Rio Games

08.05.16 at 8:11 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 Dodgers, 10:05 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Indians at Yankees, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Cubs at Athletics, 11 p.m. (MLB Network)
Olympics: Opening ceremony, 7:30 p.m. (NBC)


— It wasn’t that long ago that it appeared Russia’s entire Olympic team might be banned from the Rio Games due to a state-directed doping scandal and ensuing cover-ups. However, the IOC announced Thursday after a series of reviews that 271 of the nation’s athletes will be allowed to compete.

“We had to follow the rules of justice and justice has to be independent from politics,” IOC president Thomas Bach said in defending his decision to pass on a team-wide ban. “You cannot answer to a violation of a law by another violation of a law. This is destroying justice. We had to respect basic principles of natural law.”

The IOC previously barred Russian athletes with previous doping scandals, but a sports arbitration panel ruled Thursday that that was “unenforceable,” meaning some of the 118 who remained banned might still get in following appeals.

“We have good news for the fans of the Russian Olympic team,” Russian Olympic Committee president Alexander Zhukov told reporters. “The majority of the sports have been admitted in full.”

Added Zhukov: “As of today, I think there is no other team that is so clean and so carefully controlled than the Russian one.”

The Russian track and field team remains banned due to an earlier decision by the sport’s governing body, the IAAF. Long jumper Darya Klishina is the only Russian in that sport who has been cleared, as she is based in the United States and was regularly tested outside Russia.

Rio’s opening ceremony is scheduled for Friday night.

— Remember four years ago when Josh Beckett was spotted playing golf one day after the Red Sox announced he would miss his next start with a back injury? Apparently Yoenis Cespedes does not. The Mets outfielder went golfing Wednesday with former Red Sox first baseman Kevin Millar, despite a nagging quadriceps issue that led to him being placed on the disabled list Wednesday night.

Mets manager Terry Collins was not pleased when the subject was brought up by a media member Thursday, warning the reporter, “Don’t go there.”

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Former Knicks coach Derek Fisher downplays rumors of returning as player but leaves door open

08.04.16 at 10:43 am ET
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Derek Fisher

Derek Fisher

Derek Fisher turns 42 next Tuesday and hasn’t played in an NBA game since the 2013-14 season, but the former Knicks coach doesn’t seem to be content in retirement.

This week Fisher posted several videos on Instagram and Facebook that showed him working on his dribbling and shooting. Fischer posted the first video on Monday showing him knocking down jump shots, then the saga became more interesting on Tuesday when Fisher posted another video of him working on dribbling with the hashtag #imnotdoneyet, igniting rumors that he might be attempting a comeback. Fisher took to Twitter on Wednesday address the speculation.

On Wednesday, Fisher downplayed the speculation, although he didn’t rule out a comeback entirely.

“On-court workouts have been part of my regimen since I played my last game,” Fisher tweeted. “If an NBA team expresses interest, I’m open to dialogue, but at the moment I have no steadfast plan to play again.”

Fisher last played for the Thunder in 2013-14 season before retiring from playing, which concluded an 18-year career that included five championships with the Lakers and NBA records of 259 playoff appearances and 161 playoff games won. The Knicks then hired Fisher as their coach, but Fisher only amassed a 40-96 record in 1 1/2 seasons and was fired in February. Since being let go from the Knicks, Fisher has appeared as a NBA analyst on NBA TV and TNT.

If Fisher were to return to the NBA, he would be the oldest player in the league.

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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Russell Westbrook reportedly agrees to new contract with Thunder

08.04.16 at 8:12 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 Mariners, 10:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Twins at Indians, noon (MLB Network)
MLB: Giants at Phillies, 3 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Mets at Yankees, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
Olympics: Men’s soccer, Iraq vs. Denmark, noon (NBCSN)
Olympics: Men’s soccer, Honduras vs. Algeria, 2 p.m. (USA Network)
Olympics: Men’s soccer, Brazil vs. South Africa, 3 p.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Men’s soccer, Mexico vs. Germany, 4 p.m. (USA Network)
Olympics: Men’s soccer, Portugal vs. Argentina, 5 p.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Men’s soccer, Sweden vs. Colombia, 6 p.m. (USA Network)
Olympics: Men’s soccer, Fiji vs. South Korea, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Men’s soccer, Nigeria vs. Japan, 9 p.m. (NBCSN)


Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook

— If you were holding out hope that Russell Westbrook would be joining the Celtics this offseason, you can forget that. According to an ESPN report, the All-Star guard reached agreement with the Thunder on a new three-year contract worth $85.7 million.

According to the report, the new contract will give Westbrook an $8.7 million raise (to the maximum $26.8 million) for the upcoming season, then pay him the max the next two seasons. However, only the first of those seasons is guaranteed, with a player option for 2018-19. He’s likely to decline that option, as he would be a 10th-year player at that point, which means — based on the current collective bargaining agreement, which is due for renegotiation next year — he could get 35 percent of the salary cap on his next contract (up 5 percent from what he could get now).

A five-time All-Star, Westbrook averaged 23.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 10.4 assists last season. He had a league-high 18 triple-doubles. He finished fourth in MVP voting.

In his eight seasons, all with Oklahoma City, Westbrook is averaging 21.5 points, 5.6 rebounds and 7.6 assists.

— Reigning WNBA MVP and U.S. Olympic forward Elena Delle Donne revealed in an upcoming Vogue magazine feature that she is gay and engaged to her longtime partner since June 2.

Delle Donne said she has not been hiding her sexual orientation, but this is the first time she’s shared her story with the media, because she wanted to protect her fiancee’s privacy.

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Michael Phelps ‘humbled’ to be U.S. flag bearer during opening ceremonies in Rio

08.03.16 at 12:24 pm ET
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Michael Phelps has done a lot during the past four Olympic Games, but in his fifth and final Olympics in Rio he will do something he has never done before: participate in the opening ceremonies and be the bearer of the U.S. flag.

Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps

“I’m honored to be chosen, proud to represent the U.S., and humbled by the significance of carrying the flag and all it stands for,” Phelps said.

Phelps, who is the most decorated athlete in Olympic history, is the second swimmer to be the U.S. flag bearer. Gary Hall was the first, at Montreal in 1976.

Phelps has never participated in the opening ceremonies because it requires athletes to spend large amounts of time on their feet. In the last three Olympics, the 400-meter individual medley, Phelps’s first event, was the day after the ceremonies. This year Phelps will not be participating in the 400 IM.

“For Sydney, I just wanted to make the team. For Athens, I wanted to win gold for my country. For Beijing, I wanted to do something nobody else had done [breaking Mark Spitz’s record with eight gold medals]. In London, I wanted to make history,” Phelps said. “And now, I want to walk in the opening ceremony, take it all in, represent America in the best possible way and make my family proud.”

Following the London Games, Phelps said that he was retiring, but after a year away from the pool he decided he wanted to return for one final Olympics. Phelps, 31, will be competing in three individual events and might be a member of all three relay teams.

The opening ceremonies will take place Friday night at Rio’s Maracana Stadium.

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Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez ‘at peace with myself’ as rumors swirl about his possible release

08.03.16 at 8:26 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 Mariners, 10:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Marlins at Cubs, 2 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Nationals at Diamondbacks, 5 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Mets at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. (ESPN)
Olympics: Women’s soccer, United States vs. New Zealand, 6 p.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Women’s soccer, Sweden vs. South Africa, 11:30 a.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Women’s soccer, Canada vs. Australia, 2 p.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Women’s soccer, Brazil vs. China, 3 p.m. (USA Network)
Olympics: Women’s soccer, Zimbabwe vs. Germany, 5 p.m. (USA Network)
Olympics: Women’s soccer, France vs. Colombia, 9 p.m. (NBCSN)
Soccer: Champions Cup, Barcelona vs Leicester City, 2 p.m. (ESPN2)
Soccer: Champions Cup, Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Soccer: Champions Cup, AC Milan vs. Chelsea, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN2)


Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez

— Following a report in the New York Daily News that the Yankees might soon release Alex Rodriguez, manager Joe Girardi said he doesn’t anticipate the seldom-used designated hitter getting additional playing time in the immediate future.

For his part, Rodriguez said he will accept whatever fate befalls him.

“No matter what happens, I’m at peace with myself,” Rodriguez said Tuesday, adding: “I think I can contribute. I think I can help out in the clubhouse, but if not, I have two beautiful daughters waiting for me in Miami.”

Rodriguez, 41, is four home runs shy of 700 and 18 behind Babe Ruth for third place on the all-time list, but he’s hitting just .204 and playing for a team that is embarking on a youth movement.

“In maybe the near future, do I see him getting a ton of at-bats?” Girardi said before Tuesday’s 7-1 loss to the Mets at Citi Field, which Rodriguez ended by flying out as a pinch-hitter. “No. I probably don’t, because of some of the changes that we’re possibly going to make here.”

Owed about $27 million for the rest of this season and next year, Rodriguez has started one game since July 22 — and he struck out four times that day. Tuesday’s fly out was the first time in six at-bats Rodriguez put a ball in play.

— Philadelphia has a reputation as a city with sports fans who speak their mind, and that behavior was costly for one such fan Tuesday night.

A man sitting 14 rows back of the visiting dugout at the Giants-Phillies game was ejected after riding umpire Bob Davidson.

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Yankees reportedly considering releasing Alex Rodriguez as part of rebuild

08.02.16 at 11:16 am ET
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Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez

The Yankees soon could be parting ways with one of their most well-known hitters.

According to the New York Daily News, there is a chance the fourth-place Yankees release designated hitter Alex Rodriguez by the end of the season, as the team continues to overhaul its roster. New York, 6 1/2 games out of first place in the American League East, traded away Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran and Ivan Nova in the past week as part of its rebuild.

It might make sense for the team to cut Rodriguez, 41, who clearly won’t be a part of the Yankee’s rebuilding plans. The three-time AL MVP is batting just .205 and has seen his playing time reduced. He’s had just 29 at-bats since the end of the All-Star break.

Asked about the possibility of no longer being with the team after Monday’s 6-5 win over the Mets, Rodriguez said he does not want to part ways with the organization.

“I hope not,” Rodriguez told the Daily News. “I want to play and think I can make a difference on the field and in the clubhouse.”

Rodriguez is owed the remainder of his $21 million salary this year and $21 million guaranteed in 2017, which complicates his situation. However, the Yankees releasing Rodriguez would prove that the team has set its sights on its improved farm system and the future. The Yankees have not won the AL East since 2012.

“A-Rod is a choice for our manager and coaching staff as they try to dissect every day what’s the best lineup to put out there,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said when asked what the team’s recent moves means for Rodriguez, who is four home runs shy of 700. “He’s going to do everything he continues to do to try to put himself in a position to succeed and then leave the decision making to the field staff if there’s opportunities to play or not.

“The answer to that’s easy, I guess. We evaluate everything on a daily and weekly basis. We’re always trying to do the right thing. We’re always trying to do the best thing. Nothing has changed there.”

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Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Oft-injured RB Reggie Bush ‘full strength,’ signs 1-year deal with Bills

08.02.16 at 7:55 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 Mariners, 10:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Cardinals at Reds, 7:10 p.m. (FS1)
MLB: Athletics at Angels, 10 p.m. (MLB Network)


Reggie Bush

Reggie Bush

— Reggie Bush is looking forward to proving he has something left, signing a one-year contract with the Bills to help at running back and kick returner.

Bush, 31, tore his meniscus ligament while playing for the Rams last season, his 10th in the NFL, and acknowledged he was concerned “my career could be over.” Now the one-time Dolphin — who has appeared in just 29 games over the past three seasons due to injuries — is back in the AFC East, passing a physical Monday morning and meeting with Bills executives before making it official.

“I’m in shape. I’m full strength. I’m ready to go,” Bush told reporters Monday at Bills training camp in Rochester, New York. “It feels good to be back on a team and back to playing football.”

Buffalo will be missing backup running back Karlos Williams for the first four games of the season due to a suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. Rex Ryan’s team also did not have a true return specialist last season.

“We are always looking to improve our roster,” general manager Doug Whaley said. “We had targeted Reggie because we feel a player of his caliber can help us in a variety of areas.”

Led by starting running back LeSean McCoy, the Bills led the league in rushing last season.

“I’m a fan,” Bush said of McCoy. “I think it’s going to be pretty cool to have both of us back there making some plays.”

— Outfielder Yasiel Puig’s future with the Dodgers is uncertain, as the former All-Star appeared targeted for the minors after Los Angeles failed to find another team willing to make a deal for him, while bringing in Josh Reddick from the Athletics at the trade deadline.

There were reports Monday that Puig was upset and refused to join the team for its trip to Colorado, but manager Dave Roberts said it was the team’s decision that Puig stay home. Puig’s agent said he was told the Cuban slugger likely would be sent down.

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Read More: Amar'e Stoudemire, Reggie Bush, Yasiel Puig,

Monday’s Morning Mashup: Despite trade deadline sell-off, Yankees manager Joe Girardi insists, ‘This organization never waves a white flag’

08.01.16 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: Red Sox at Mariners, 10:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Yankees at Mets, 7:10 p.m. (ESPN)
Basketball: Exhibition, United States vs. Nigeria, 8 p.m. (NBA TV)
Soccer: Exhibition, Liverpool vs. AS Roma, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN2)


Andrew Miller

Andrew Miller

— Yankees manager Joe Girardi continues to insist his team has a chance this season, but the actions of the past few days have made it clear that the team has begun a rebuilding process with an eye toward the distant future.

Less than a week after shipping closer Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs for four prospects, the Yankees continued to dismantle their heralded bullpen, sending Andrew Miller to the Indians for another four minor leaguers. And there are rumors that veteran outfielder Carlos Beltran is on the block (with the Red Sox among the teams said to have interest).

General manager Brian Cashman acknowledged that the days of loading up through free agency have passed, as MLB rules changes have made that strategy a less viable one.

“The chessboard that’s lined up that we’re playing is not the same chessboard that we were playing back when I just started in the late ’80s,” Cashman told reporters Sunday after the Miller trade. “It’s a recognition of how the industry’s completely different today and the operating standards are completely different today, and there’s just a sounder recognition of that. And if you want to become a super team, there’s certain ways to go about that that you have to strongly consider. And although they may be tough decisions, the one thing the Yankees have always stood for and do stand for is the effort in trying to become a super team.”

Added Cashman: “We’re trying to get back to a situation where we can build an uber team and a sustainable one. So we’ll see where it takes us, but that’s the effort that we’ve got going on here, and I think fans should be excited by that.”

After their second straight loss to the last-place Rays, the fourth-place Yankees are 52-52 and in danger of finishing with a losing record for the first time since 1992. But that’s not how Girardi views it.

“I don’t ever wave a white flag. This organization never waves a white flag,” the manager said. “I don’t view it as that, and they better not view it in that room as that.”

— Warriors forward Draymond Green’s eventful offseason continued Sunday when he posted a picture of his penis on Snapchat, then took it down and apologized.

“It was a situation where it was meant to be a private message and kind of hit the wrong button, you know?” Green said before the U.S. Olympic team’s practice in Houston. “Like I said, it was meant to be private, but we’re all one click away from placing something in the wrong place and I suffered from that this morning.”

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Thinking Out Loud: Linebackers Patriots’ strongest position — for now

07.29.16 at 5:45 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to Antowain Smith.

— Happy New Year! Well, it’s what we’ve been waiting for since, oh, last January, right? Football is back, but with a few twists and turns along the way to always keep things interesting.

— Attendance on opening day of Patriots training camp: 12,393. More than Tampa Bay can draw for most Rays baseball games. Twenty states and at least four foreign countries represented among the fandom. Nope, nothing to see here.

— There’s the always-alarming physically unable to perform (PUP) list, which really means guys like Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola will be OK — but the team is taking little chance to get them injured before playing in games that actually mean something. Injuries kept NE from a possible fifth Lombardi Trophy more than anything else last winter.

— And for the first time in 15 years, New England will head into a regular season preparing to start someone at quarterback not named Tom Brady. Brady’s falling on the sword in taking the four-game suspension from the NFL means Jimmy Garoppolo gets the spotlight, the attention and a lot of reps over the next month. It’s his chance to shine and to set himself up — if not in New England, certainly somewhere else — for a solid career.

— Evaluating the Pats’ strongest position heading into camp, there’s a lot of depth along the defensive front. Even with Chandler Jones’ departure for Arizona, there’s size in the middle and potentially more speed on the ends.

— But for pure talent? I’ll take the linebacking one-two punch of Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower. Both can be free agents after this year, so expect new contracts to be part of their storylines until deals get done. Or not. Collins wasn’t present for opening day Thursday, but CSNNE’s Tom Curran says it wasn’t contract-related. Bill Belichick says he was excused.

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Friday’s Morning Mashup: Struggling Jonathan Papelbon pulled in 9th inning of Nationals’ win

07.29.16 at 8:30 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 Angels, 10:05 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Mariners at Cubs, 2 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Royals at Rangers, 8 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Nationals at Giants, 11 p.m. (MLB Network)
Basketball: Women’s exhibition, United States vs. Canada, 7 p.m. (NBA TV)
Basketball: Men’s exhibition, United States vs. Venezuela, 9 p.m. (NBA TV)


Jonathan Papelbon

Jonathan Papelbon

— Nationals manager Dusty Baker has run out of patience with Jonathan Papelbon, and on Thursday night he pulled the veteran closer in the ninth inning after Papelbon gave up a single and walk while trying to protect a three-run lead over the Giants.

Papelbon has 19 saves but suffered two losses in the last week, giving up a combined six runs in those games. With the Nationals battling the Cubs for the best record in the National League, Baker did not want to risk another setback.

“I’m sure he felt badly, but I had to do what I had to do to win the ballgame,” Baker said. “I’m sure that Pap didn’t like it, but I’m sure that he understands.”

Oliver Perez took over and allowed a walk to load the bases. That was followed by a grounder to third that looked like it could be a game-ending double play, but a defensive miscue at second allowed all runners to advance without an out. Perez then struck out Denard Span, and Shawn Kelley was called on for the final out, which he got by striking out Angel Pagan.

Papelbon, whose fastball topped out at 91 mph once, took the team-first approach after the 4-2 win.

“The object is to win the game,” the former Red Sox closer said. “Do what you can do to win the game.”

Added Papelbon: “Turn the page and prepare like you always have every day and go out and be successful. You can’t help the outcome or worry about it, you just go like you do every day.”

— Speaking publicly for the first time since his NFL suspension for substance abuse was lifted this week, Browns receiver Josh Gordon insisted he’s learned from his mistakes.

“I definitely think I’m a different person,” he told reporters in Berea, Ohio, where the team’s training camp began. “If you haven’t changed over a period of time, it’s definitely a bad thing. I think me standing here is a testament to that.”

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Read More: Jonathan Papelbon, Josh Gordon, Rolando McClain,