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Monday’s Morning Mashup: Controversial CB Antonio Cromartie bids farewell to Jets after release

03.10.14 at 8:00 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:
MLB preseason: Rays at Red Sox, 1 p.m. (NESN)
NBA: Suns at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (NBATV)
College basketball: CAA final, William & Mary vs. Delaware, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: MAAC final, Manhattan vs. Iona, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: WCC semifinal, St. Mary’s vs. Gonzaga, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Southern final, Western Carolina vs. Wofford, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: WCC semifinal, San Francisco vs. BYU, 11:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
NHL: Penguins at Capitals, 7 p.m. (NHL Network)
Soccer: Premier League, Sunderland at Liverpool, 3:55 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie's marital difficulties became public when his wife faked a suicide attempt, leading to police intervention. (AP)

Cornerback Antonio Cromartie is on the market after his release from the Jets. (AP)

– One year after they traded Darrelle Revis, the Jets cut ties with the other cornerstone of their once dominant defensive backfield, releasing controversial cornerback Antonio Cromartie.

Cromartie, 29, was slowed by a hip issue in 2013, and the team decided to cut him now rather than pay him a $5 million roster bonus upon the start of the new league year. He would have carried a salary cap charge of just under $15 million in 2014. The team will save $9.5 million against the cap.

The New York Daily News reports that Cromartie would be willing to consider a return to New York at a cheaper rate, but the team appears to be ready to move on.

“Cro is one of the finest athletes I’€™ve ever coached,” coach Rex Ryan said in a statement. “He was willing to contribute wherever the team needed him to win games, be it defense, special teams or offense. He has a passion and enthusiasm for the game and I wish him and his family the best.”

Cromartie played four seasons with the Jets, recording 13 interceptions, after being acquired from the Chargers in 2010. He went to the Pro Bowl in 2012 after stepping up in place of the injured Revis.

Cromartie tweeted his farewell Sunday, writing: I would like 2 thank the Jets organization so much with helpin me grow as leader and a player. S/O 2 my teammates I wish u guys the best.

Added Cromartie: It’€™s time for a new chapter in my life and now it’€™s time to let my lord and savior lead my steps every step of the way.

 

– There is excitement in New York regarding the Knicks, but it has nothing to do with what’s happening on the court. NBA coaching legend Phil Jackson reportedly will decide Monday whether he will accept a position with the team.

The 68-year-old Jackson is said to have turned down an offer to coach, and it’s not clear if he would be willing to run the team or if he would prefer to serve as a consultant. He also is believed to have an interest in returning to the Lakers in some capacity.

Said one unidentified general manager to the New York Daily News: “The Knicks and Phil are getting exactly what they want out of this. The Knicks are showing that they want to do something and this is a chance for Phil to get the Lakers to make a move. If they don’€™t, he can take the Knicks’€™ money.”

Jackson has won 11 NBA titles — nine as a coach and two as a player. He was a forward on the Knicks’ only two championship squads in 1970 and ’73.

– A Minnesota State Representative is taking some heat for a tweet Sunday night in which he implied NBA players would resort to crime if they weren’t playing basketball.

Republican Pat Garofalo tweeted: 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 did not back down despite receiving hundreds of negative responses, many of them accusing him of being racist. One tweeter had a clever response, writing: there’s more criminals in your profession than the nba buddy.

Garofalo later explained to the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he was “talking about NBA’s high arrest rate and that they are the only major pro league that testing positive for marijuana is not a substance abuse violation.”

Added Garofalo: “No intent beyond that.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On March 10, 1986, the veterans committee voted which Red Sox legend into the Baseball Hall of Fame?

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Read More: Antonio Cromartie, Pat Garofalo, Phil Jackson, Rex Ryan

NFL roundup: Saints reportedly will release WR Lance Moore

03.07.14 at 1:40 pm ET
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Just a few hours after Lance Moore tweeted an apparent farewell to fans, a source has told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the Saints will release the wide receiver.

Moore, who has two years left on his contract, was set to make $3.8 million between his salary and bonuses this season. That total included a $500,000 roster bonus that was due to him this month. The team will save between $2.5 million and $3.8 million against this year’s cap space.

Due to their decision to put the franchise tag on tight end Jimmy Graham and restricted free agent tender on safety Rafael Bush, the Saints are pushing against the cap. They can create space by releasing more players before free agency begins on Tuesday and by reframing the contracts of other players.

Moore, who had spent the most time with the Saints of anyone on the team’s roster and was named the team’s Man of the Year in 2012, ranks in the top-five receivers in Saints history in receptions with 346 and touchdown catches with 38 to go along with his 4,281 yards.

– With his team in the hunt for a veteran quarterback, Vikings running back and 2012 NFL MVP Adrian Peterson tweeted his opinion on who should fill the void Wednesday night.

Michael Vick is coming off a season when he played in just six games for the Eagles after he suffered a hamstring injury and lost his job to Nick Foles. Since 2006, the 34-year-old Vick has not started in more than 13 games in a season and, according to ESPN.com, is not a great fit for Minnesota’€™s new offensive coordinator Norv Turner.

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Read More: Champ Bailey, D'Qwell Jackson, Devin Hester, Lance Moore

Manny Ramirez still looking for team to call him back to majors

03.07.14 at 9:59 am ET
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Manny Ramirez is not ready to retire.

While major league and minor league players go through spring training drills and games in Arizona and Florida, Ramirez is spending his spring in a community park in the area of Hialeah in Miami training.

The 41-year-old former Red Sox slugger, who had minor league deals with the Athletics and the Rangers during the past two years, does not have a team, and has not played a major league game since he was served a second suspension for violating the league’€™s anti-doping policy in 2011. Ramirez requested a release from his contracts with Oakland and Texas when the teams did not call him up to the majors.

Despite this, Ramirez, who had 555 home runs in 19 seasons, still believes he has something major league teams can use.

“My qualities are still there, and I just need an opportunity to continue showing that the “Super Manny” can help a team,” Ramirez said Thursday on “Grandes en los Deportes” on ESPN Radio.

“For now, I have no team interested, but I’€™m still working. Maybe I don’€™t have anything this week, but who knows? Maybe next week I could get a call.”

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Read More: Manny Ramirez,

Friday’s Morning Mashup: UC Santa Barbara fan runs on court, confronts Hawaii coach during game

03.07.14 at 8:03 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: Nets at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE)
NBA: Grizzlies at Bulls, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Pacers at Rockets, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Houston at UCF, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Kent State at Akron, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College hockey: Hockey East tournament, UMass at Vermont, 7 p.m. (NESN)
College hockey: St. Cloud State at Colorado, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
MLB preseason: Rays at Blue Jays, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)

AROUND THE WEB:

– There has been concern in college basketball circles about fans storming the court after games and the safety issues it creates, especially after last week’s confrontation in Orem, Utah, when angry players from New Mexico State got into a confrontation with a postgame mob from Utah Valley.

On Thursday night, the issue was with just one fan, a student who ran onto the court at UC Santa Barbara and confronted Hawaii coach Gib Arnold just after Arnold received a technical foul for arguing with the referees.

The fan was pushed away by a couple of Hawaii players, and he backpedaled off the court as he gestured toward the players to come after him. He then returned to the student section but eventually was escorted out of the stands.

“It was a little crazy to have a fan pushing your players around,” Arnold said in a postgame TV interview. “I’ve never seen it. You don’t expect it.”

“The student will obviously face legal action,” Santa Barbara athletic department spokesman Bill Mahoney said. “He will also be subject to action from a judicial review board through UCSB student affairs.”

– South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin was suspended one game by the school for cursing out one of his player’s during a 72-46 loss to Florida on Tuesday.

Martin, well known for losing his temper, was caught on camera asking Duane Notice a question and then, when Notice did not respond, appearing to scream in his face, “Answer the [expletive] question, [expletive],” and then going on to berate him with more swears.

“This one-game suspension is a result of inappropriate verbal communication as it related to the well-being of our student-athletes,” athletic director Ray Tanner said in a statement.

Earlier this season, Martin, who was a Northeastern assistant in the early 2000s, apologized for berating another South Carolina player.

“I got after [Brenton Williams] pretty darned good on the sideline in the first half, and I visited with him about it and apologized to him.” Martin said on Jan. 21. “And I do want to apologize to any fans that were behind the bench that maybe heard what was said. I was wrong for that, and there’s no excuse for it.”

– A man who worked for the University of New Hampshire basketball team was fired after allegedly taking video of players with a hidden phone in the locker room following a game at Vermont in January, the school announced.

Scott Weitzell, who was the team’s part-time director of operations, was arrested on Feb. 21 after failing to cooperate with authorities who tried to seize his cell phone. The 50-year-old was charged with attempting to falsify physical evidence and resisting arrest or detention, according to a report in the New Hampshire Union Leader.

He was suspended by UNH the same day and banned from campus to “remove the risk that Mr. Weitzell posted to the privacy of our students.” Weitzell was fired four days later.

According to the report, police have since obtained additional search warrants and have seized “more materials” that are being reviewed.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On March 7, 1995, which Celtic became the ninth NBA player to record 25,000 career points when he netted 19 during a 115-10 loss to the Knicks?

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Read More: Frank Martin, Gib Arnold,

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: NCAA tables proposal to slow down football with 10-second rule

03.06.14 at 7:45 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: Capitals at Bruins, 7 p.m. (NESN)
NHL: Avalanche at Red Wings, 7:30 p.m. (NHL Network)
NHL: Blue Jackets at Blackhawks, 8 p.m. (NHL Network)
NHL: Penguins at Sharks, 10:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA: Heat at Spurs, 8 p.m.. (TNT)
NBA: Clippers at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
College basketball: Villanova at Xavier, 7 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Memphis at Cincinnati, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Iowa at Michigan State, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Charlotte at Marshall, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: LSU at Vanderbilt, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Penn State at Northwestern, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: George Mason at La Salle, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Hawaii at UC Santa Barbara, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Butler at DePaul, 9 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: VCU at Richmond, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: UCLA at Washington, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: USC at Washington State, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)

AROUND THE WEB:

– The NCAA football rules committee on Wednesday tabled a proposal to slow down the game by instituting a 5-yard penalty for offenses that snap the ball before 10 seconds have run off the 40-second play clock.

The controversial proposal was widely criticized despite support from some high-profile coaches including Alabama’s Nick Saban, who claimed it would help protect players from injury. During the feedback period after the proposal initially passed on Feb. 12, 75 percent of the 324 comments the NCAA received opposed the change.

“What the committee agreed to do was table that proposal to allow time to gather more information from the medical community and allow time for a broader discussion for the implications of that change,” NCAA national coordinator of officials Rogers Redding told The Associated Press.

Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez, a harsh critic who went so far as to make a video mocking the proposal, noted that there was no factual evidence supporting the claim that players were at risk of injury.

“I don’t know where it goes from here, but I appreciate the rules committee realizing it was a mistake to put it out there right now,” he told the AP.

– The Revolution, who open the season Saturday night with a game at Houston, unveiled new jerseys at a media event this week.

The adidas jersey features a navy blue jersey with a large UnitedHealthcare logo and the team’s logo over the left chest, with red stripes on the shoulders. On the back, the “Flag of New England” is centered between the shoulders.

“We’€™re very pleased with this design and are excited to begin wearing it,” Revolution president Brian Bilello said. “We worked with adidas to integrate some key design elements into the kit that are important to our club. For a long time, our primary kit has been solid navy, with only lesser red and white accents. We wanted this primary uniform to reinforce the region’€™s Revolutionary identity by having a greater balance of red, white and blue.

“The Flag of New England is also a key icon for our club, one which our supporters have been instrumental in growing. Unlike some teams that have their key icon or identifier on the ‘€˜jock tag’€™ on the lower seam of the jersey, we were insistent that the flag be very visible and somewhere that everyone could see. And there is no better place than right above the players’€™ names and numbers ‘€“ reminding everyone that they’€™re all part of New England.”

The players also will wear navy blue socks with thin white horizontal stripes.

– With New Jersey showing that a cold-weather city can be a successful Super Bowl host, other cities are looking at their options. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is taking a look at the possibility of expanding Soldier Field, partly in an effort to improve his city’s chances.

“It’s an exploration to see what, if anything, is possible,” an Emanuel spokeswoman told the Chicago Tribune.

Soldier Field, the smallest stadium in the league, seats 61,500. The NFL’s preferred minimum for a Super Bowl is 70,000.

“We’ll work with that footprint. It’s all a process,” Emanuel said last month, indicating that he thought a Super Bowl would “be good for the city and good for the NFL.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On March 6, 1986, which Bruins forward recorded his 600th NHL point with two goals in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Nordiques at Boston Garden?

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Read More: New England Revolution, nick saban, Rahm Emanuel, rich rodriguez

Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Jim Harbaugh plays down reports of rift with 49ers

03.05.14 at 7:57 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:
NBA: Warriors at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE)
NBA: Mavericks at Nuggets, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Hawks at Trail Blazers, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Rutgers at UConn, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Duke at Wake Forest, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Nebraska at Indiana, 7 p.m. (BTN)
College basketball: Louisville at SMU, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Dayton at Saint Louis, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: West Virginia at Oklahoma, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Purdue at Wisconsin, 9 p.m. (BTN)
College basketball: Colorado at Stanford, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Arizona at Oregon State, 11 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Utah at California, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: San Diego State at UNLV, 11:05 p.m. (CBSSN)
NHL: Capitals at Flyers, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
MLB preseason: Red Sox at Cardinals, 1 p.m. (FS1)
MLB preseason: Braves at Phillies, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB preseason: Dodgers at Reds, 9 p.m. (MLB Network)
Soccer: United States vs. Ukraine, 1:50 p.m. (ESPN2)
Soccer: Italy vs. Spain, 3:55 p.m. (ESPN2)
Soccer: Mexico vs. Nigeria, 8:30 p.m. (ESPNews)

AROUND THE WEB:

Jim Harbaugh has a beef with the officials after the Niners lost to the Giants in the NFC championship game. (AP)

Jim Harbaugh insists he wants to stay with the 49ers. (AP)

Jim Harbaugh has been the subject of rumors and reports that he wants out of San Francisco and/or that the team is tiring of his surly behavior. The 49ers coach played down the situation Tuesday, dismissing a suggestion that he wants to leave the team before his contract expires in two years.

“No,” he told Sports Illustrated. “Zero opportunity or chance of that in my mind.”

Added Harbaugh: “I see all these reports about how I want to be the highest-paid coach in football. They presume I covet some kind of extension. I have never said to anybody that I want to be the highest-paid coach in football. I have never said that to anybody — my wife, my brother, my dad. I make plenty of money.

“The other one is that I want more power. I have never said that, nor do I want any more power than I have. I coach the team. I’ve told my owner I don’t want any more power. I want to coach the team. And I’ve never told anybody else otherwise.”

There have been reports that Harbaugh is at odds with general manager Trent Baalke and that the team eventually will need to choose between the two.

“We’re both demanding and we want to be accountable for ourselves, for each other,” Harbaugh said. “If you haven’t had a brother, you probably don’t understand the relationship between the GM and the head coach. We’re partners on the same team. I have great respect for him. He works extremely hard at it and is very good at it. We are all part of a team. I believe in the structure we have. I don’t want to change anything that we do in that regard.”

As for the Browns trying to acquire him in a trade, Harbaugh indicated that was not of his doing, nor did he have any intention of going along with it.

“There was never any opportunity to leave the San Francisco 49ers,” he said. “If that existed, it existed in somebody else’s mind, not mine. I am too fond of my team, the players, the coaches. I really feel like we have one of the best, if not the best organizations in football.”

Mike McQueary, who brought the Jerry Sandusky child-abuse scandal to light after witnessing the former Penn State assistant coach molesting a boy, revealed to some Nittany Lions players that he was sexually abused as a child, according to a story in ESPN The Magazine.

McQueary, then a Penn State assistant, allegedly told the team’s receivers in a positional meeting about his history of abuse, explaining that he could relate to the boy who was abused by Sandusky. The meeting was held Nov. 9, 2011, one day after prosecutors revealed that McQueary had witnessed the incident a decade earlier.

McQueary refused comment about the matter and only told the magazine that he still has respect for longtime coach Joe Paterno, who was forced out after the scandal broke and died shortly thereafter.

“I love that man more than you can ever possibly say,” McQueary said. “He’s an unbelievable man. He did unbelievable things. He handled this thing in the best way he could. Was it foolproof or perfect? No. But I didn’t handle this in a foolproof or perfect way either. I am loyal to him to this day. I absolutely love him.”

The story also indicates that McQueary, who filed a $4 million whistleblower lawsuit against the school after his contract was not renewed in the summer of 2012, had a gambling problem and at least once bet on Penn State to cover an eight-point spread against Michigan State in a 1996 game when he was a backup quarterback.

Ian Kinsler, who was traded from the Rangers to the Tigers this offseason, turned some heads with his comments in an ESPN The Magazine story in which he called Rangers general manager Jon Daniels a “sleazeball” and said he hoped Texas went 0-162 this year.

On Tuesday, Kinsler backtracked from the comments and put some blame on the writer.

“I’m not happy about it. I think that the story was written for drama, and taken a little out of context,” he said. “I understand there were some things directed at the GM, but as far as my teammates and the fans, there’s nothing negative to say about that, and I think the quotes taken about the general manager were taken a little out of context.”

As for the 0-162 comment, Kinsler said: “That’s a matter of telling a joke.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On March 5, 2002, Joe Kerrigan was fired as Red Sox manager by the new ownership group. Who was named interim manager until Grady Little was hired six days later?

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Read More: Ian Kinsler, Jim Harbaugh, Joe Paterno, Mike McQueary

NFL roundup: Anquan Boldin re-signs with 49ers, defends coach Jim Harbaugh

03.04.14 at 10:19 am ET
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Wide receiver Anquan Boldin will return to the 49ers, the veteran announced via his Twitter account Monday afternoon.

San Francisco also announced Monday that the two sides agreed to a two-year deal, but the team did not disclose the terms of the contract. According to ESPN NFL insider ED Werder, sources believe Boldin agreed to a deal worth $12 million that includes a guaranteed $9 million.

“We are pleased that Anquan has chosen to continue his career as a 49er,” general manager Trent Baalke said in a team statement. “He is a consummate professional whose love and respect for the game provide a tremendous example for all players.

“Anquan has been a very productive player throughout his career, and we look forward to his future contributions to our team and community.”

Last season, the 33-year-old wide receiver had 85 catches for 1,179 yards and seven touchdowns.

During a press conference following the announcement of the deal, Boldin also came out in defense of his coach Jim Harbaugh. A recent report by the San Francisco Chronicle stated that a rift existed in the 49ers locker room because of the coach.

“I don’€™t think there’€™s any rift between players and coaches, particularly coach Harbaugh,” Boldin said, according to the San Jose Mercury News. “He has good rapport with all the guys I know of. There’€™s no gripes in the locker room when it comes to coach Harbaugh. He wants to win and everybody in the locker room wants to do the same. We’€™re usually on the same page and if not, we have it where we can talk to him and he can talk to us.”

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Read More: Anquan Boldin, Bernard Pollard, Brent Grimes, Donald Butler

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Jason Collins received warmly by Brooklyn crowd, expected to be re-signed

03.04.14 at 8:02 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:
NHL: Panthers at Bruins, 7 p.m. (NESN)
NHL: Lightning at Blues, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA: Heat at Rockets, 8 p.m. (NBATV)
NBA: Pelicans at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (NBATV)
College basketball: Florida State at Boston College, 9 p.m. (ESPNU; WEEI-AM)
College basketball: UCF at Temple, 6:30 p.m. (ESPNews)
College basketball: Florida at South Carolina, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Creighton at Georgetown, 7 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Iowa State at Baylor, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Michigan at Illinois, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: South Florida at Houston, 8:30 p.m. (ESPNews)
College basketball: Marquette at Providence, 9 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Alabama at Kentucky, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Arizona State at Oregon, 11 p.m. (FS1)
MLB preseason: Astros at Mets, 1:10 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB preseason: Rangers at Angels, 3 p.m. (FS1)
MLB preseason: Orioles at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. (MLB Network)

AROUND THE WEB:

Jason Collins, who was warmly received by the Brooklyn crowd during his home debut with the Nets on Monday night, will return to the team on a second 10-day contract after his current deal expires Tuesday, according to multiple reports.

Collins, the league’s first openly gay player, then is expected to be signed for the remainder of the season after his second 10-day deal.

Late in Monday’s 96-80 victory over the Bulls, fans at the Barclays Center chanted Collins’ name. He checked in with 2:41 remaining and received a brief ovation.

“It was cool, Collins said. “It was a lot of fun going into the game, but the most important thing was that we got the win.”

Playing in Brooklyn, where Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball, Collins brushed off comparisons to the baseball legend.

“I’m just trying to be Jason Collins,” he said. “What Jackie Robinson did for the sport of baseball and our society [is] tremendous. But I am just trying to be Jason Collins.”

Collins’ jersey has been a best-seller since shortly after he signed on Feb. 23. He wears No. 98 in honor of Matthew Shepard, the gay college student from Wyoming who was tortured and killed in 1998.

“Honestly, I have been a little bit surprised,” Collins said. “But it is great to see all that support for the jersey and all that it stands for and why I chose the number. It is one of those pleasant surprises in life, and thank you to all the people who have gone out there and bought the jersey.”

– The U.S. Soccer team is scheduled to play Ukraine in an exhibition game Wednesday, and the game appears to be on despite the political violence ravaging the country. The match was moved out of Ukraine to Cyprus last week, but the head of Ukraine’s soccer federation said Monday that the team would not go following Russia’s intervention in the crisis over the weekend.

However, that appears to have changed, as U.S. Soccer released a statement Monday night saying: “The Football Federation of Ukraine confirmed that their team will travel to Cyprus and the match will proceed as scheduled.”

Meanwhile, the referee slated to work the match had his car bombed in Cyprus on Friday. While Leontios Trattou was not in the car and escaped injury, Cyprus postponed all of its first-division matches over the weekend.

Ukraine did not qualify for this summer’s World Cup in Brazil.

– Fox Sports announced Monday that Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci will join Joe Buck in the booth for the network’s Major League Baseball broadcasts, including the All-Star Game and World Series.

A vacancy opened when Tim McCarver retired after last season, and Fox decided on Reynolds and Verducci a couple of months ago, after having them do a practice broadcast together in St. Louis late last season.

“The people calling the World Series have a unique relationship with the game and a special responsibility to baseball,” Fox Sports president Eric Shanks said (via Sports Illustrated). “The broadcasting side of baseball is kind of placed on a mantle, and with someone doing it for 30 years like Tim, it was the biggest decision in my time here.”

Former Red Sox outfielder Gabe Kapler and 2014 Hall of Famer Frank Thomas will be part of the pregame show, hosted by Kevin Burkhardt.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On March 4, 1984, which standout Red Sox catcher from the 1930s was chosen for the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee?

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Read More: Harold Reynolds, Jason Collins, Joe Buck, Tom Verducci

Report: Broncos QB Peyton Manning cleared after neck exam

03.03.14 at 1:04 pm ET
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Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was cleared to play in 2014 after having an exam on his surgically repaired neck, according to multiple reports.

Broncos executive vice president John Elway confirmed the news to ESPN.

The exam was mandated by the five-year, $96 million contract Manning signed with Denver as a free agent in 2012. Manning, 37, missed the entire 2011 season while recovering from the surgery and then was released by the Colts.

Manning set NFL records by passing for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns this past season. He led the Broncos to a 13-3 record and a victory over the Patriots in the AFC championship game. The Broncos were routed by the Seahawks, 43-8, in the Super Bowl.

Read More: Peyton Manning,

Monday’s Morning Mashup: Dodgers’ Josh Beckett cautiously optimistic after impressive return to mound

03.03.14 at 7:54 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:
NBA: Bulls at Nets, 7:30 p.m. (NBATV)
NBA: Pelicans at Kings, 10 p.m. (NBATV)
College basketball: Notre Dame at North Carolina, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Savannah State at N.C. Central, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: N.C. State at Pittsburgh, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Kansas State at Oklahoma State, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL: Sabres at Stars, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
MLB preseason: Angels at Diamondbacks, 3 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

Josh Beckett is winless this season and worried about his future as he deals with a nerve issue in his right hand. (AP)

Josh Beckett got his comeback off to a good start with Sunday’s performance in spring training. (AP)

Josh Beckett made his return to the mound Sunday in Phoenix, starting for the Dodgers for the first time since last May, and showed signs that he can contribute to the team in the last year of his contract that will pay him $15.75 million in 2014.

The former Red Sox right-hander had surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome — pressure on a nerve that was causing tingling and numbness in his fingers and making it difficult for him to grip the ball properly — and missed most of 2013. The recovery was not easy.

“For a while afterward, there was no way I could get comfortable, no position I could get myself into. It felt like there was a knife in my back at all times,” he said (via the Los Angeles Times).

On Sunday, Beckett overcame a bout with nervousness — “I didn’t sleep very well last night,” he said afterward — to pitch solid two innings against the Padres. He allowed no runs on one hit with three strikeouts, and his fastball topped out at 91 mph.

The 33-year-old said, “I’m glad it went well,” and indicated he “absolutely” plans to be ready by Opening Day. However, he admitted concern about a recurrence of the problems that plagued him a year ago.

“I just think the more times I get to face hitters trying to get hits off me and trying to put themselves in good situations, it’€™s going to benefit me mentally getting over whatever mental things I have going on,” Beckett said, adding: “There’€™s a part of me that can’t get that out of my head of, ‘When is this going to happen again?’ ”

– ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas is not impressed with how some coaches have been behaving on the sidelines.

Bilas did not hold back in criticizing Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim for overreacting to a call with 10 seconds left in a two-point game against Duke on Feb. 22 and getting ejected from the game, essentially ending his team’s chances to win. Bilas was disappointed that the ACC determined no further action was warranted.

“There needed to be something said by the authority there because the ACC has a book this thick on sportsmanship,” Bilas said. “Well, it’s clear that the sportsmanship guidelines only apply to the players, and that’s wrong.”

On Saturday, Kentucky’s John Calipari was ejected from his team’s loss at South Carolina, and Cincinnati’s Mick Cronin got into a heated exchange with veteran official Ted Valentine.

“I think there’€™s a lack of humility with the way referees are addressed, the way with they’€™re dealt with in games,” Bilas said. “We’€™ve got a unique problem. Coaches in the NBA behave better than coaches in college, who claim to be teachers and molders of young men. How can that possibly be?

“Everybody needs to take a look in the mirror here and fix our behavior, including in press conferences where we are questioning the officiating and we are denigrating the product to the public, and public confidence in the job the officials are doing.

“This is a social contract we have. The officials are the law of the court. When they make a decision, that decision stands. How coaches act is important. Not every coach acts inappropriately, but too many are doing it and I think we need to put a stop to it and I’€™ll tell you why: If we think that coach behavior influences the officials, then that’€™s a competitive advantage and we need to put a stop to it.

“If we don’€™t think it’€™s an influence, then it looks horrible and it erodes public confidence in officiating and we need to stop it. So tell me how we don’€™t need to stop it. We have to stop it. The coaches have to take the lead and police themselves.”

– Indians reliever Jon Axford has a future in Oscar analysis if he does not succeed in Cleveland this season. The closer predicted the winners of 18 Academy Awards and got every one of them correct.

Axford is not a one-hit wonder. Last year he went 14-for-15, and he was 22-of-28 over the previous two years combined.

Axford joked about closing in on a “perfect game” as the awards were handed out Sunday night, and then he tweeted after the show: WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 18 for 18! #Oscars

 

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On March 3, 1985, which Celtic scored a team-record 56 points, hitting 22-of-28 shots in a 138-129 victory over the Pistons at the Boston Garden?

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