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Friday’s Morning Mashup: Jacoby Ellsbury not concerned about slow start with Yankees

03.14.14 at 8:14 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:
NBA: Suns at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE)
NBA: Lakers at Spurs, 8:30 p.m. (NBATV)
College basketball: UMass vs. George Washington, 9 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Florida State vs. Virginia, noon (ESPN2)
College basketball: Illinois vs. Michigan, noon (ESPN)
College basketball: Saint Louis vs. St. Bonaventure, noon (NBCSN)
College basketball: Missouri vs. Florida, 1 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Pittsburgh vs. North Carolina, 2 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Ohio State vs. Nebraska, 2 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Saint Joseph’s vs. Dayton, 2:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: South Carolina vs. Tennessee, 3 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Middle Tennessee vs. Tulsa, 4 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Minnesota vs. Wisconsin, 6:30 p.m. (BTN)
College basketball: Southern Mississippi vs. Louisiana Tech, 6:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: VCU vs. Richmond, 6:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Seton Hall vs. Providence, 7 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: N.C. State vs. Syracuse, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Iowa State vs. Kansas, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Houston vs. Louisville, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Clemson vs. Duke, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Cincinnati vs. UConn, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: San Diego State vs. UNLV, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Michigan State vs. Northwestern, 9 p.m. (BTN)
College basketball: Baylor vs. Texas, 9:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Creighton vs. Xavier, 9:30 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: New Mexico vs. Boise State, 11:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: UCLA vs. Stanford, 11:30 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Cal State Northridge vs. Long Beach State, midnight (ESPNU)
NHL: Predators at Blackhawks, 8 p.m. (NHL Network)
College hockey: Minnesota at Michigan, 6:30 p.m. (ESPNews)
MLB preseason: Cardinals at Astros, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB preseason: Diamondbacks at Brewers, 4 p.m. (MLB Network)

AROUND THE WEB:

– With the Yankees signing Japanese standout Masahiro Tanaka, and with Derek Jeter announcing this will be his final season, it’s allowed $153 million free agent Jacoby Ellsbury to avoid the spotlight in spring training.

That’s a good thing, because the former Red Sox outfielder is struggling out of the gate, with just three hits in 20 at-bats, a .150 batting average. He did hit a home run Thursday, in a 6-2 loss to the Phillies.

Ellsbury is one of a few free agents acquired by the Yankees this offseason, along with Tanaka, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts, allowing the attention to be divided.

“With the people we brought in, it’s spread around,” manager Joe Girardi said (via the New York Daily News). “With [Jeter's announcement], it’s spread around, so it’s probably worked out to [Ellsbury's] advantage. Replay has helped, collisions at home plate have helped; there’s been a lot to talk about this spring.”

Ellsbury said he’s aware that if he starts this slow when the games are for real next month, it will be more difficult to avoid criticism. He said his experience with the Red Sox has prepared him well.

“In Boston the expectation is to win. Same thing here,” he said. “That’s really all I know. The media is going to ask you questions win or lose and you’re going to have to answer them.

“That’s all I know. If I came from a smaller organization it might be an eye-opener, but that’s not the case.”

Added Ellsbury: “You understand it comes with the territory. That’€™s the passion the New York fans have. I enjoy that the fans care. As players, we expect a lot of ourselves. From that standpoint, nothing really changes.”

Ellsbury will return to Fenway Park on April 22 when the Yankees pay their first visit of the season.

“It’s going to be exciting,” he said. “I enjoy those moments; I thrive in them.

“I don’t know what to expect and I’m not looking that far forward, but I’m looking forward to going there.”

– The ACC is finalizing a plan to play its conference tournament at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for two years starting in 2017, according to a Sports Illustrated report.

The tournament is being held in Greensboro, N.C., this month, and will return there next year, followed by a year in Washington.

With the addition of Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame this season, joining Boston College, the league has been rumored for some time to be looking to take the tournament north and capitalize in the New York media market.

– With the NCAA tournament approaching, Real Clear Sports has the top 10 facts that will help you win your bracket pool.

The top fact: Go with the top seeds. No. 1 seeds account for 40 percent of Final Four teams since 1979, and a No. 1 seed has reached the Final Four every year since 1981 except twice (2006, 2011). However, you should have some variety, as 26 times since 1979 the Final Four has included three different seeds.

Another tip: Avoid 7 seeds. No. 7s have a good success rate in their first game, but no No. 7 has made it past the Elite Eight.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On March 14, 1944, which Bruin recorded two assists in a 6-4 victory over the visiting Blackhawks and set an NHL single-season scoring record with 75 points?

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Read More: Derek Jeter, Jacoby Ellsbury,

Manny Ramirez on PED suspensions: ‘Everybody makes mistakes’

03.13.14 at 12:23 pm ET
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As he works out on his own and attempts to get another shot at the major leagues, former Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez finally appears to be taking personal responsibility for his two suspensions related to the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

“When you make a mistake in life, no matter what you do, you’re going to pay the price,” Ramirez told Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal in a phone interview from Miami. “That’s what happened to all of the players that did it. I’m not going to judge people. Everybody is human. Everybody makes mistakes. …

“You’re going to feel guilty about what you did. But you did it. You move on. And you learn from it.”

Added Ramirez: “In your life, you’re going to mature. Sometimes you’ve got to fall and get up to know who you really are. That’s what happened to me. I fell. I got up. Now I know what I really want in life.”

Ramirez, who indicated he’d like to become a hitting coach after he retires, said all players can learn from his mistakes — not just younger ones.

“I use myself as an example to my son who is in college, playing baseball: ‘Look what daddy went through because daddy didn’t do things right,’ ” Ramirez said. “When you do things right, you don’t have to look back. You always look forward.

“Sometimes, we get caught up in the moment. We start hanging out with the wrong people. But you know, everything in life happens for a reason, so you can appreciate what you are.

“Now I appreciate it more and I’m so hungry to get back, just to get that feeling that I used to have before. I appreciate my family more, my kids, everything that God gave me.”

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Read More: Manny Ramirez,

NFL roundup: Saints reportedly trade Darren Sproles to Eagles

03.13.14 at 10:33 am ET
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Darren Sproles is no longer in limbo, as the Saints have traded the running back to the Eagles, according to ESPN.com.

Sproles stated on Wednesday that he wanted the Saints to release him instead of trading him.

“I want to be released,” Sproles said. “I don’€™t want to be traded. I don’€™t know where they would send me because I have no control over it, and I want to be able to pick.

“The good thing is none of the teams I’€™m told they’€™re talking to are terrible. It’€™s more than two. I feel I should have more of an idea later on today.”

Sproles, who the Saints decided to trade rather than release because of interest from other teams, is due $3.5 million between salary and bonuses this season. Over his three years with the Saints, he has accumulated a total of 1,067 rushing yards, 1,981 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns.

– A day after Eric Decker arrived in New Jersey to meet with team officials, the former Broncos wide receiver and the Jets agreed to a deal.

According to ESPN.com, Decker’€™s five-year deal is worth $36.25 million with $15 million guaranteed. Decker is the biggest free agent Jets general manager John Idzik has signed during his 14 months at the position.

“I am very thankful for my four years in Denver,” Decker said. “I think it’€™s one of the greatest cities to play in. Unfortunately, I never got an offer from the Broncos. Denver will always be a part of me, but I’€™m excited about New York being my new community and starting a new chapter in my life. On top of all that, my wife’€™s expecting our baby any second.”

Last season, the Jets finished the year 31st in the league in passing offense. The deal comes two days after the team, which is looking to help its second-year quarterback Geno Smith with better offensive weapons, released wide receiver Santonio Holmes – the Jets most accomplished player at the position.

Decker comes to New York after back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and had a career best 87 receptions for 1,288 yards during 2013. Some scouts believe those numbers were inflated because Decker played with Peyton Manning, and wonder how that will translate to having Smith as a quarterback.

“When you go from a Hall of Fame quarterback, no one else — no matter who it is — can be on the same level,” Decker said. “Talking to the offensive coordinator Marty [Mornhinweg], who has had a good track record in San Francisco and Philadelphia, he really believes in this kid. When you look at the statistics, yeah, he got off to a slow start, but he was hurt early on and he finished the season strong. He improved all season long in a tough market. That’€™s pretty impressive.”

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Read More: Brandon Weeden, Breno Giacomini, Darren Sproles, Eric Decker

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson critical of Lakers front office

03.13.14 at 8:05 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:
NHL: Coyotes at Bruins, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL: Rangers at Wild, 8 p.m., 8 p.m. (NHL Network)
NBA: Rockets at Bulls, 7 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Lakers at Thunder, 9:30 p.m. (TNT)
College basketball: Rhode Island vs. UMass, 9 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Florida State vs. Maryland, noon (ESPN)
College basketball: Villanova vs. Seton Hall, noon (FS1)
College basketball: St. Bonaventure vs. La Salle, noon (CSNNE)
College basketball: Illinois vs. Indiana, noon (BTN)
College basketball: Kansas State vs. Iowa State, 12:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Houston vs. SMU, 1 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Wake Forest vs. Pittsburgh, 2 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Purdue vs. Ohio State, 2:25 p.m. (BTN)
College basketball: St. John’s vs. Providence, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Dayton vs. Fordham, 2:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Rutgers vs. Louisville, 3 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: San Diego State vs. Utah State, 3 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: UNLV vs. Wyoming 5:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Duquesne vs. Richmond, 6:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Penn State vs. Minnesota, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: N.C. State vs. Miami, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: UCF vs. Cincinnati, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Creighton vs. DePaul, 7 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Northwestern vs. Iowa, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Memphis vs. UConn, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Clemson vs. Georgia Tech, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: New Mexico vs. Fresno State, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Marquette vs. Xavier, 9:30 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Arizona State vs. Stanford, 11:30 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Nevada vs. Boise State, 11:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
MLB preseason: Red Sox at Twins, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB preseason: Reds at Dodgers, 4 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB preseason: Rockies at Athletics, 10 p.m. (MLB Network)

AROUND THE WEB:

– The Lakers are on a downward spiral, and Kobe Bryant is not happy with the way the front office is handling the situation. And he’s got Magic Johnson in his corner.

Bryant, speaking Wednesday after the team announced he would not play again this season as he recovers from a fractured knee, said he had no patience regarding the team’s reported plans to wait until 2015 to rebuild.

“Oh, yeah, let’s just play next year and let’s just suck again,” Bryant said sarcastically. “No Absolutely not. It’s my job to go out there on the court and perform, no excuses for it. Right? You’ve got to get things down.

“Same thing with the front office. The same expectations they have of me when I perform on the court, it’s the same expectations I have for them up there.”

Bryant and Johnson both criticized the organization for passing over Phil Jackson last season and then allowing the coaching legend to join the Knicks front office this week. Bryant called out team executives (and siblings) Jim and Jeanie Buss and questioned the future of coach Mike D’Antoni.

“I think we have to start at the top in terms of the culture of our team,” he said. “What type of culture do you want to have? What type of system do you want to have? How do you want to play? It starts there.

“You’ve got to start with Jim. You’ve got to start with Jim and Jeanie and how that relationship plays out. It starts there and having a clear direction and clear authority.

“Then it goes down to the coaching staff. What’s Mike going to do? What do you want to do with Mike? It goes from there. It’s got to start from the top.”

While Bryant was talking, Johnson tweeted out his concern about the direction of the team.

“I love Jim & Jeanie Buss, but we need Phil Jackson to be the face of our great organization, the Los Angeles Lakers,” Johnson wrote in a series of tweets. “Kobe Bryant is the face of the Lakers’ team. Who is the face of the Lakers’ organization? In signing Phil Jackson, [Knicks] Owner Jim Dolan & [team executive] Steve Mills are saying to the Knicks fans, they’re ready to win now!”

Blake Griffin continues to make highlights and enemies. The Clippers star, who has had numerous run-ins with opponents this season, had a dispute with veteran Warriors forward Jermaine O’Neal that carried over into the Staples Center hallway.

O’Neal, a onetime Celtic, received a technical foul with 8:55 left in the game after he walked toward the Clippers bench to yap at Griffin before being directed away by teammates and officials.

After the game, as Griffin was making his way to a postgame press conference following Los Angeles’ 111-98 win, O’Neal shared a few choice words with the young star. Griffin would not comment on the conversation, but the Los Angeles Times reported that he told O’Neal, “Why you going to walk up on me like that? Leave that ‘€¦ on the court.” A snarling O’Neal then quickly shook Griffin’s hand and walked away, saying, “Man, I’m a monster off the court.”

Said Griffin: “Man, get out of here with that.”

Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino is offering two fans a chance to attend spring training as his guest as part of a contest to raise money for the Shane Victorino Foundation, which benefits underprivileged children.

Fans who donate $1 or more by Monday via the new digital fundraising platform Fame4Good.com are entered into the contest. The winner and a guest will receive round-trip plane tickets, a two-night stay at a Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Fort Myers, Fla., and a visit with Victorino on the field prior to a game against the Rays on March 23.

“Partnering with Fame4Good allows me to shine a light on our foundation’€™s incredible efforts to support kids in need and it does so in a way that fans can have fun with and really get engaged,” Victorino said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to give back to the communities that have given so much to me and I look forward to meeting the lucky winner.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On March 13, 1971, who became the third player in Bruins history (and fifth in NHL history) to record 100 points in a season when he scored a goal in a 6-3 victory over the Canucks in Vancouver?

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Read More: Blake Griffin, Jermaine O'Neal, kobe bryant, Magic Johnson

NFL roundup: Broncos reportedly have inside track to land DeMarcus Ware

03.12.14 at 1:40 pm ET
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Defensive end DeMarcus Ware is set to visit with the Broncos on Wednesday, and ESPN reports via a team source that Denver is confident it can sign the recently released Cowboy. Adam Schefter reported that the Broncos are the favorite for Ware.

UPDATE: ESPN reported Wednesday afternoon that Ware had agreed to a three-year, $30 million deal with Denver.

Ware, who has 117 career sacks, would project to pair with All-Pro defensive end Von Miller, who tore his ACL late last season.

The Cowboys parted ways with the seven-time Pro Bowl defensive end on Tuesday. According to reports, the Cowboys weren’t comfortable paying the 31-year-old Ware $16 million coming off an injury-riddled season that saw him record a career-low six sacks.

“A decision like this, involving a man who is a cornerstone player in the history of your franchise, is extremely difficult,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in the statement.

– Saints running back Darren Sproles expected to get his release from the Saints on Tuesday, only to find out that the Saints decided to keep him and try to trade him.

Tweeted Sproles: The stuff u find out on twitter

According to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, more than 10 teams are interested in the 30-year-old Sproles. Sproles had 220 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns, 604 yards receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns in 2013.

– Eric Decker, widely considered the best available free agent wide receiver, will visit with the Jets on Wednesday, according to Kimberly Jones of NFL Network. Decker had 87 catches, 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. The Jets are in need of a wide receiver after releasing Santonio Holmes on Tuesday. In 2013, the Jets ranked 31st in passing yards, 25th in total offensive yards, and 29th in total points.

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Read More: Antoine Bethea, Darren Sproles, DeMarcus Ware, Eric Decker

Reports: Lakers decide to shut down Kobe Bryant for rest of season

03.12.14 at 12:06 pm ET
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According to multiple reports, the Lakers will shut down Kobe Bryant for the remainder of the season.

Bryant, who signed a two-year, $48.5 million contract extension in November, missed the first 19 games of the season while recovering from a torn left Achilles suffered last season, then he played in just six games before taking a leave on Dec. 17 with a knee fracture.

Bryant, 35, is in his 18th NBA season.

The Lakers are tied with the Kings and Jazz for last in the Western Conference and in a four-way tie with the Celtics for the fourth-worst record in the NBA at 22-42.

Read More: kobe bryant,

Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Jonathan Martin ‘beyond blessed’ to be traded from Dolphins to 49ers

03.12.14 at 8:02 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:
NHL: Bruins at Canadiens, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA: Knicks at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE)
NBA: Nets at Heat, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Trail Blazers at Spurs, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Boston College vs. Georgia Tech, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: American at Boston University, 7:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Notre Dame vs. Wake Forest, 1 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Virginia Tech vs. Miami, 3 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: South Florida vs. Rutgers, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Butler vs. Seton Hall, 7 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: UCF vs. Temple, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: DePaul vs. Georgetown, 9:30 p.m. (FS1)
MLB preseason: Tigers at Yankees, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB preseason: Brewers at Angels, 4 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB preseason: Cubs at Mariners, 10 p.m. (MLB Network)
Soccer: UEFA Champions, Manchester City at Barcelona, 3:30 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

Jonathan Martin has a new home, and it’s a familiar one.

The Dolphins traded the offensive lineman to the 49ers, where he will be reunited with Jim Harbaugh, who coached him at nearby Stanford and called him a “personal friend” following last year’s bullying scandal in Miami. San Francisco will send an undisclosed draft pick to the Dolphins.

Martin, who has been taking classes at Stanford, expressed his excitement on Twitter, writing: Big news…. Beyond Blessed.

And: Opportunities are few in the NFL… Can’t wait to get to work #9erEmpire

 

 

Added his agent, Ken Zuckerman, in an interview with The Associated Press: “This is great for him to get back on the field, and he’s in Palo Alto right now. It couldn’t be much better. I just think everyone wanted this to happen. Harbaugh knows Jonathan, I think the Dolphins were compensated and Jonathan wants to get back on the field. It’s a good day.”

Martin, 24, has two years remaining on his contract, which pays him a base salary of $824,933 this year.

Steve Williams, the former longtime caddie for Tiger Woods, has been quiet lately, but he said in a recent interview that there still are some hard feelings since the two split in 2011.

“There’s been a lot of ‘€¦ this, that and the other … but the hatchet hasn’t been buried,” said Williams, who now caddies for Adam Scott. “It’s just personal things and a difference of opinions on how things went down … and I need to sort that out with him.”

Williams was Woods’ caddie when the golf star was caught up in an infidelity scandal in 2009, but he claimed to be unaware of what Woods was doing.

“So many people feel I must have known something, but I didn’t know,” he said. “If I’d known something, I would have said [so]. I don’t sugarcoat anything.”

– A high school wrestling match in Minnesota ended with an impressive display of sportsmanship when Blaine sophomore Malik Stewart was pinned by St. Michael Albertville sophomore Mitchell McKee in the state championship 120-pound match but then went over to McKee’s father, who is dying of cancer, and congratulated him.

“[McKee] won,” Stewart told KARE-TV. “He was pretty proud, and his dad was pretty proud. So I went over there and I shook his hand, embraced it a little bit, and told him to stay strong and everybody loves him.”

Added Stewart, whose father died of a heart attack when Stewart was 7 years old: “I got a little teary because I lost the match, and I knew the hard times he was going through. The crowd went wild and I heard a couple of people say after I did it, ‘ That was pretty classy,’ but I just did it straight from the heart.”

Said McKee of Stewart: “It was a big match for him, and to be able to hug my dad like that and not be mad and storm off like a lot of kids do — really respectful.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On March 12, 1985, Larry Bird scored a team-record 60 points in a 126-11 victory over the Hawks in New Orleans. Whose record did he break?

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Read More: Jim Harbaugh, Jonathan Martin, Steve Williams, Tiger Woods

Officials announce more than 3,500 police planned for 2014 Boston Marathon

03.11.14 at 9:51 am ET
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Public safety officials announced on Monday that, along with other precautions, the police presence at the 2014 Boston Marathon will double this year with over 3,500 officers patrolling the event.

Spectators at the marathon have also been encouraged to put personal items in clear plastic bags instead of backpacks, rolling bags, coolers and other large items. Officials said during a press conference at the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency’€™s bunker in Framingham that those who bring bulky bags will be subject to search.

The rules for spectators mirror those that the Boston Athletic Association made for runners earlier in the year.

Runners and spectators have also been informed that they cannot bring containers that have more than 1 liter of liquid and they may not wear costumes that are either bulky or cover their faces.

“In this world, you never eliminate risk, you never bring it down to zero … but we are working very hard at reducing that risk level and managing it to the best of our collective abilities,” said Col. Timothy Alben, the commander of the state police.

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Read More: 2014 Boston Marathon,

NFL roundup: Buccaneers reportedly will release Darrelle Revis if he isn’t traded

03.11.14 at 9:04 am ET
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If the Buccaneers do not finalize a trade to move Darrelle Revis, the team likely will release the cornerback by 4 p.m. Wednesday, according to ESPN.com.

The Buccaneers would need to remove Revis from their roster by 4:01 p.m. or else they will owe Revis a $1.5 million roster bonus, and the fourth-round pick the team had originally sent to the Jets last year would become a third-round pick.

Although Tampa Bay would not get anything in return for Revis in this situation, the team would automatically pick up $16 million in salary cap space — all of which would have gone to Revis.

ESPN reports that the Buccaneers have considered trading Revis since the combine, but the cornerback’€™s $16 million per year contract has deterred teams. Tampa Bay and Revis reportedly have discussed a new contract but have not come to an agreement.

– Last offseason, defensive end Michael Bennett penned a one-year deal with the Seahawks in the hope that he could parlay it into a long-term contract after the season. One year, and a Super Bowl championship later, Bennett now has a four-year deal with the team that originally took a chance on him out of college.

“I don’€™t know if there was any doubt, but there was a lot of speculation a lot of teams tried to get me to come there,” Bennett said Monday. “But ultimately I wanted to come back and play with these guys and win some more games.”

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Read More: Darelle Revis, Dimitri Patterson, Ike Taylor, LaMarr Woodley

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: ‘Nervous’ Barry Bonds begins coaching stint with Giants

03.11.14 at 8:06 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:
NBA: Celtics at Pacers, 7 p.m. (CSNNE)
NBA: Spurs at Bulls, 8 p.m. (WGN)
NBA: Rockets at Thunder, 8 p.m. (NBATV)
College basketball: Mount St. Mary’s at Robert Morris, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Milwaukee at Wright State, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: BYU vs. Gonzaga, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: North Dakota State vs. IPFW, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
NHL: Capitals at Penguins, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
MLB preseason: Mets at Cardinals, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB preseason: Mariners vs. Angels, 4 p.m. (MLB Network)
Soccer: UEFA CHampions: Arsenal at Bayern Munich, 3:30 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

Barry Bonds was all smiles greeting the media Monday. (AP)

Barry Bonds was all smiles greeting the media Monday. (AP)

– Home run king Barry Bonds, looking much thinner than during his playing days, showed up at Giants spring training in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Monday to begin serving as a hitting instructor for a week.

“It feels really good to be back,” Bonds said in a 30-minute meeting with about three dozen media members. “It feels good to give back to the game that I love. Hopefully I’ll be a part of this longer. … I’m enjoying it.”

“I am more nervous at this than I was playing, because it was only my mind and me. Hopefully I can bring good value to the ball club. We’ll see how it works out. I don’t even know if I’m good at it.”

Bonds, who played 15 seasons with the Giants before retiring after the 2007 season with 762 home runs and a cloud of suspicion regarding PED use, was known for his lack of cooperation with the media when he played. Now 49, he appears to have mellowed.

“I’m just a different character. I was a different character playing,” he said. “Now I’ve had time to slow down, do other things. I needed that guy to play, it’s who I was at the time. I’m the same person, just a different character. … Teammates used to say, you don’t play when you’re nice. It worked. Whatever it was, it worked.”

Bonds said “without a doubt” he belongs in the Hall of Fame, but he offered no opinion regarding those who won’t vote for him. “You guys are all adults,” he said. “I have no advice for you.”

– The Minnesota lawmaker who sent out a tweet about the NBA that was criticized as racist apologized Monday after initially standing by his comments.

State Rep. Pat Garofalo, a fifth-term Republican from Farmington, tweeted Sunday: Let’s be honest, 70% of teams in NBA could fold tomorrow + nobody would notice a difference w/ possible exception of increase in streetcrime.

Garofalo eventually acknowledged his mistake.

“I sincerely apologize to those who I unfairly categorized,” said Garofalo, who’s seeking a sixth term in the fall. “The NBA has many examples of players and owners who are role models for our communities and for our country. Those individuals did not deserve that criticism and I apologize.”

Garofalo, who is known for speaking his mind and stirring up controversy, insisted his comments were not racially motivated.

“I don’t have a racist bone in my body. I pride myself on the fact I’ve tutored in inner-city Minneapolis,” Garofalo told reporters, adding that there are “no excuses. I apologize. I’m responsible for my actions.”

– A youth hockey referee in Connecticut was arrested over the weekend for being too aggressive in escorting a player off the ice after an ejection.

Stephen Levins called a match penalty on a player who, according to a member of the other team, “took a shot at the ref’s head with the puck,” after becoming angry during a game Saturday at Champions Ice Rink in Cromwell.

According to police, Levins then physically escorted the player off the ice, upsetting parents and teammates. Parents tried to get onto the ice to confront Levins, while others attempted to calm matters. Some called 911.

Levins, 55, was charged with breach of peace and risk of injury to a minor. He posted $5,000 bond and was released.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On March 11, 1976, which Bruins winger scored the 300th goal of his career with a hat trick in a 6-2 victory over the Maple Leafs?

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