College Blog Blog Network

Thinking Out Loud: Red Sox’ ineptitude pushes fans to limit

07.24.15 at 7:52 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to Jacek Duda?

— Not for nuthin’, but have we forgotten how to play baseball around here?

— I’m thinking “sell” right now for the Red Sox, but who or what can you sell? And who’s buying any of what we’ve seen so far this season? Right now, it has to be about 2016 and beyond, unless the organization wants to see this two-year death spiral continue. How much can we, as consumers, put up with?

— Boston was outscored 39-13 on the seven-game road trip. That’s bag-on-your-head-stuff right there. Winless on a trip that long for the first time in 64 years, since 1951. Let that sink in for just a minute.

— The Red Sox are still one of the richest teams in baseball? In all of sport? Prove it. Three seasons out of four in LAST place with a payroll in the vicinity of $200 million is not just abysmal. It’s embarrassing. Remember, a good house-cleaner always starts on the top shelf.

Clay Buchholz = that good-looking tease in high school who wouldn’t give you the time of day but now wants to be your friend on Facebook. Meh.

— The one potential silver lining to this cacophony of calamity, lefty Brian Johnson, was sent back to Pawtucket after an uneven major league debut. Maybe they just decided the blasting the pitching staff on the big club is taking would leave him too “shell-shocked.”

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Champ Bailey: ‘I don’t want Wes [Welker] to play’ anymore due to concussions

07.24.15 at 12:19 pm ET
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Former Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker is a free agent and has said he wishes to play this season. One legendary former teammate hopes Welker does not land on a team’s roster.

Retired cornerback Champ Bailey told Fox Sports that he fears for Welker due to the receiver’s history with concussions.

“I don’t want Wes to play for my own personal reasons. I’ve seen him get concussions. It scares me,” Bailey said.

Bailey stated that he believes Welker, an 11-year veteran, could still perform well for an NFL team, but that does not mean that he should.

“I think he can still play, but I don’t want him to play because of these concussions. This thing is no joke. It’s a serious thing when you start talking about your head. And for him to have to worry about that at a young age that he is now, he has to think about that for years to come and I just hope he hangs it up,” Bailey said.

Welker played for the Patriots from 2007 to 2012 before signing with the Broncos and playing with Peyton Manning for the past two years. He played in Super Bowl XLVI when the Patriots lost to the Giants and in Super Bowl XLVIII, in which the Broncos got trounced by the Seahawks.

Bailey indicated that he understands Welker’s motivation to come back in order to try to finally win a championship.

“I understand why he has that desire to play, he wants the ring,” Bailey said. “He still has that hunger, I just don’t want to see it.”

Read More: Champ Bailey, Wes Welker,

Friday’s Morning Mashup: Roger Clemens insists Hall of Fame ‘doesn’t really make a difference in my life’

07.24.15 at 8:17 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: Tigers at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Nationals at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
Cycling: Tour de France, 7 a.m. (NBCSN)


Roger Clemens stopped by the NESN booth during Thursday night’s Red Sox-Astros game in Houston and continued to claim that he played the game the right way despite evidence that he used performance-enhancing drugs, adding he does not need the validation of the Hall of Fame to feel complete.

“Congratulations to the guys that go,” he said of the Hall, which will welcome fellow Sox legend Pedro Martinez this weekend. “It doesn’t really make a difference in my life, not that it would matter.”

The seven-time Cy Young Award winner has never received more than 37.6 percent of votes (75 percent is needed for induction) despite his 354 wins and 4,672 strikeouts for the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees and Astros. He said he appreciates those who have written his name on the ballot but claims it’s not a big deal to him.

“It’s not something that I went to, to play — play the game to make the Hall of Fame. It was the furthest thing from my mind. I played the game because I loved to play it,” Clemens said.

“I knew early in my career that once I seized that moment that I could make a little money and take care of my family. Then it started to get to a World Series and playoffs in Boston and the history that came along with it. That’s really it.”

— Another player likely to be kept out of the Hall is Alex Rodriguez, who continues to have a stellar comeback season, helping the first-place Yankees to a 9-3 victory over the Orioles on Thursday for a sweep of their three-game series.

Former Yankees manager Joe Torre credits Rodriguez for turning things around after missing last season while on suspension for his role in the Biogenesis PED scandal.

“I think what’s surprising is Alex,” Torre said from a charity golf tournament in New York on Thursday. “I’m happy for him. Miss a whole year at that age — there was never an issue of his ability to work at it. But with all the physical problems that he’s had and missing a year, it’s been, I think, remarkable how consistent he’s been and his power numbers.”

Torre, now an MLB executive, said Rodriguez called him in January as he reached out to people in baseball trying to mend fences before his comeback. Torre, in his autobiography “The Yankee Years,” was critical of A-Rod, but he says they now are “friendly.”

“I had heard that he was calling some people, so I really wasn’t surprised,” Torre said of their offseason conversation. “Actually, it started out with a text and he asked me if it would be all right to call me. I said, ‘Sure, anytime.’ I’m there for any player who wants to pick my brain over anything and for any team. He had some issues with what he thought I said in the past. I think he just wanted to make sure that all the air was clear. He asked about some advice and I said, ‘Just go play baseball.’ ”

Added Torre: “He paid his debt. He was suspended. He did that. Hopefully he learned something from it. He’s been determined to come back and play the game that he’s loved. I know baseball’s been a huge part of his life. He just craves it. He’s been a force, no question. People in New York love it. That’s what’s important for us. Once people pay their penalty, you can’t root against them. It’s not the right thing to do.”

— Outgoing ESPN Radio host Colin Cowherd drew the ire of Blue Jays star Jose Bautista for a disparaging comment he made about Dominican players Thursday.

During his midday show, Cowherd was trying to make a point that baseball is a relatively easy sport to manage. He went on to say:

“The game is too complex? Like, I’ve never bought into that, ‘Baseball is just too complex.’ Really? A third of the sport is from the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic has not been known in my lifetime as having world-class academic abilities A lot of those kids come from rough backgrounds and have not had opportunities academically that other kids from other countries have. Baseball is like any sport, it’s mostly instincts.”

After Cowherd’s comment made it around the web, Bautista, a Dominican native, tweeted: Dear Mr. @ESPN_Colin before i rip you a new one i would like for you to explain what u meant to say about baseball and dominicans, please.

Cowherd is headed to Fox Sports when his contract with ESPN expires later this year. He discussed his departure during Wednesday’s show, crediting ESPN for taking a chance on him in 2003 and calling his stint with the company “the best 10 years of my life.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On July 24, 2004, Jason Varitek fought with Alex Rodriguez as the Red Sox and Yankees played an intense game at Fenway Park. The Red Sox got the last laugh when which player hit a three-run home run off Mariano Rivera for an 11-10 Red Sox victory?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “The results haven’t been nearly good enough. We’re responsible for that and we have to get better quickly.” — Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, during a Thursday morning appearance on Dennis & Callahan, on the team’s struggles

STAT OF THE DAY: 8 — Consecutive losses by the Red Sox, a season high, following Thursday’s 5-4 loss to the Astros on Jose Altuve’s walkoff home run in the ninth inning

‘NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos): White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez makes a diving stop behind second base and throws the ball with his glove to get the out against the Indians.

A’s right fielder Josh Reddick races into foul territory to make a diving catch against the Blue Jays.

A Japanese high school baseball player puts on a show in the batter’s box with a series of creative and artistic movements.

Spurs guard Tony Parker gets up close with a tiger during an appearance on a French game show.


SOOTHING SOUNDS: Former Extreme drummer Paul Geary was born on this day in 1961.

Read More: alex rodriguez, Colin Cowherd, Joe Torre, Jose Bautista

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Brandon Bass, other new Lakers awkwardly silent about contact with Kobe Bryant

07.23.15 at 8:29 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 Astros, 8:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Orioles at Yankees, 1:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Dodgers at Mets, 7:10 p.m. (MLB Network)
Cycling: Tour de France, 8 a.m. (NBCSN)


— The Lakers introduced their new trio of players Wednesday, and the most memorable moment of the press conference concerned their reaction to an apparent lack of enthusiasm for their acquisition by franchise cornerstone Kobe Bryant.

Roy Hibbert, Lou Williams and former Celtic Brandon Bass were welcomed to Los Angeles by the team, but Bryant — who has been criticized for failing to help land any high-profile free agents — has been noticeably quiet.

Asked if Bryant had reached out to any of them, the players said nothing. Bass smiled during the period of awkward silence, although he later said he’€™s looking forward to “a great opportunity to play with one of the greatest ever to play the game.”

Williams, who averaged 15.5 points per game last season with the Raptors and was named Sixth Man of the Year, spoke highly of the team’€™s aging and injury-prone star.

“You always feel like you have an opportunity to win here,” Williams said. “And when you have Kobe Bryant, that always gives you an opportunity to go far. So for me, they have a winning tradition, they always are one move away from their team going from zero to 100 and you’ve got Kobe Bryant.”

Bass, signed as a free agent after four productive seasons with the Celtics, said he’s long been a Lakers fan and didn’€™t think he’d have an issue switching sides in the league’s most heated rivalry.

“I haven’t thought so much about it,” Bass said. “All I’ve thought about is me playing in purple and gold when I was in college [at LSU]. It kind of got me back to my roots. I remember being in college and being a Laker fan. I haven’€™t thought about the rivalry, but I know I’€™m going to get a lot of questions.”

— Former ESPN columnist and commentator Bill Simmons is headed to HBO, where he will host a weekly TV show and produce other content for the network’€™s digital platforms.

“It’s no secret that HBO is the single best place for creative people in the entire media landscape,” Simmons said in a statement.

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Read More: Bill Simmons, Brandon Bass, kobe bryant, Zack Hample

Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Barry Bonds has ‘great peace’ after government drops criminal case

07.22.15 at 8:11 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 Astros, 8:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Mets at Nationals, 12:35 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Orioles at Yankees, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
WNBA: Liberty at Sparks, 10:30 p.m. (NBATV)
Soccer: Gold Cup semifinals, United States vs. Jamaica, 6 p.m. (FS1)
Cycling: Tour de France, 8 a.m. (NBCSN)


Barry Bonds might not get into the Hall of Fame anytime soon, but at least he doesn’t have to worry anymore about going to jail for being evasive when asked by a grand jury about performance-enhancing drugs supplied by his former trainer.

Federal prosecutors dropped what was left of their criminal case against Bonds on Tuesday, as the Department of Justice decided not to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the appellate decision that overturned Bonds’ obstruction of justice conviction, one day before the deadline.

“The finality of today’s decision gives me great peace,” Bonds said in a statement. “As I have said before, this outcome is something I have long wished for. I am relieved, humbled and thankful for what this means for me and my family moving forward.”

Bonds, 50, received 36.8 percent of the votes for the Hall of Fame in this year’s election, his third time on the ballot. That’s well below the 75 percent needed for induction.

Victor Conte, founder of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) that supplied a number of star athletes with PEDs, was critical of the government’s pursuit of Bonds.

“It seems that the government has finally come to their senses,” said Conte, who was sentenced to four months in prison and four months of home confinement for his role in the scandal. “In my opinion they should have never brought charges against Barry Bonds and wasted tens of millions of taxpayer dollars. … The Bonds case was simply a trophy-hunting expedition by these federal agents and prosecutors, and I believe they need to be held accountable for this waste of federal funds.”

Adrian Peterson didn’t have much leverage in his negotiations with the Vikings, but the team nonetheless accommodated his request for a better contract, restructuring the final three years of his deal to give him $20 million in guaranteed money.

Peterson, who prior to the adjustment had $45 million remaining on his contract but none of it guaranteed, tweeted the word “Amen” next to an emoji of praying hands.

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Read More: Adrian Peterson, Barry Bonds, Jimbo Fisher,

Shaquille O’Neal, Scottie Pippen battle on Instagram

07.21.15 at 9:02 am ET
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With free agency and the summer league over, the NBA lull has begun, which has given Shaquille O’Neal and Scottie Pippen time to get into a heated social media battle.

O’Neal began a near riot on Instagram Sunday when he posted this picture, claiming that the all-time greatest Lakers team would beat the all-time greatest Bulls team by 50 points.

We would beat em by fifty “what you think”. Let me know and don’t hold back

A photo posted by DR. SHAQUILLE O’NEAL Ed.D. (@shaq) on

Pippen quickly retaliated, posting the picture below on Monday.

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Read More: Scottie Pippen, Shaquille O'Neal,

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Becky Hammon coaches Spurs to Las Vegas Summer League title

07.21.15 at 8:18 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 Astros, 8:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Orioles at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
WNBA: Dream at Sky, 8 p.m. (NBATV)
WNBA: Mercury at Sparks, 11 p.m. (ESPN2)
Soccer: International Champions Cup, Fiorentina vs. Paris, 8:30 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: International Champions Cup, LA Galaxy vs. Barcelona, 11 p.m. (FS1)


— Becky Hammon’s first foray into being a head coach of an NBA team ended with a championship, as the Spurs beat the Suns, 93-90, in the Las Vegas Summer League title game Monday night.

The first female coach of an NBA summer league team, Hammon guided the Spurs to an opening loss and then six straight victories — including a buzzer-beating win over the Celtics in the quarterfinals — en route to the championship.

“You never know what your journey has in store,” Hammon told Sports Illustrated. “You just work hard and keep your nose to the grind. You do things the right way, you treat people the right way, and good things happen. . . . I’m just thankful that [Gregg Popovich] trusted me with the guys in that locker room, and that those guys trusted me back.”

Jonathon Simmons, who scored 23 points and was named MVP, was highly complimentary of Hammon, who became the first woman to serve as a full-time NBA assistant coach last season after retiring from a playing career in the WNBA.

“It’s amazing. It was a humbling experience. For all of us,” Simmons told NBATV. “I really love her and I’ve only known her a couple of days. She’s a real cool coach. She’s a player’s coach. That’s something we all like.”

— Titans wide receiver Justin Hunter became the latest NFL player to be arrested this offseason, as the 24-year-old was charged with felony assault by stabbing, cutting or wounding for his role in a bar fight earlier this month in his hometown of Virginia Beach, Virginia.

According to reports out of Virginia Beach, a large brawl broke out at the Sandbar Raw Bar on July 3. One person was taken to the hospital, although the extent of the individual’s injuries was not clear.

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Read More: Adrian Peterson, Becky Hammon, Justin Hunter,

Video: English prankster throws money at Sepp Blatter during FIFA press conference

07.20.15 at 10:35 am ET
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In case FIFA president Sepp Blatter has not been embarrassed enough following accusations of rampant corruption in his organization, an English comedian made sure the embattled Blatter was publicly shamed.

Lee Nelson (who also uses the alias Jason Bent, and whose real name is Simon Brodkin) walked onstage during Monday’s FIFA press conference in Zurich and placed a stack of fake dollar bills next to Blatter, who immediately gestured for assistance from security. As he was escorted offstage, Nelson then threw another wad of fake money in the air, raining it down on an uncomfortable Blatter.

Said Nelson, “Sepp, this is for North Korea in 2026. … Cheers, Sepp — it’s all there.”

Blatter then walked to the podium and announced there would be a delay while the stage was cleaned.

When he returned later, Blatter said FIFA will appoint an 11-person task force that will propose reforms intended to clean up world soccer’s governing body. It also was decided that FIFA also will hold an election to replace Blatter on Feb. 26.

Read More: Sepp Blatter,

Heading into union meeting, NBA players question Adam Silver’s claim that teams are losing money

07.20.15 at 9:12 am ET
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According to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, “a significant number” of teams are losing money. However, players were hard-pressed to agree with Silver at Sunday’s NBA Players Awards show in Las Vegas, citing a need for proof before they believe him.

“I’ve got to see that for myself,” said Chris Paul, president of the players’ union. “This is probably one of the first years I didn’t really pay too much attention. … But we have a number of things we want to talk about, obviously some a little more important than others.”

For Paul and the rest of the union, they have specific issues they want to address during Monday’s meeting. They did not disclose their agenda at the Players Awards, but did voice their suspicion over Silver’s comments on teams’ worth.

“I can’t agree with that,” Nazr Mohammed said about Silver’s claim. “I think the league is as healthy as it’s ever been. Teams are worth more than they’ve ever been. The Clippers just went for $2 billion. I think it’s hard to say that especially when you networks willing to give us the type of money they are to watch our games.”

According to Paul and players’ union executive director Michelle Roberts, LeBron James will be directly involved in discussions with the commissioner, a huge boost for younger players coming up on their first collective bargaining decision.

“Obviously me and ‘Bron talk about it every day,” Paul said. “He’s the face of our league. His opinion matters. Our players listen when he talks. It’ll be great to have him in there. One thing about ‘Bron, too, is when he commits to something he’s always passionate about it, so I know his voice will be heard.”

NBA players and owners will have the chance to opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement in 2017, a decision that could result in another lockout like the one seen in 2011. While the players prepare for the discussions Monday, they hope for productive talks that don’t stall the process before more intense negotiations next offseason.

“I’ve been around long enough and I know there’s a lot of posturing that goes on during this process,” Mohammed said. “There’s going to be things said that can be supported by numbers, but sometimes the numbers don’t always give out the real facts. Hopefully they’re going to let us see their books and we’ll see exactly what they mean by that.”

Read More: Adam Silver, Chris Paul, LeBron James, Michelle Roberts

Monday’s Morning Mashup: Pro surfer fights off shark during competition

07.20.15 at 8:13 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 Angels, 5:05 p.m., 10:05 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Mets at Nationals, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Cycling: Tour de France, 8 a.m. (NBCSN)


— A three-time world surfing champion fought off a shark during a competition off the coast of South Africa on Sunday, leading to the cancellation of the World Surf League event.

Australian Mick Fanning was sitting on his board during the J-Bay Open when the shark attacked from behind, knocking him into the water. While underwater, Fanning said, he punched the shark in the back and was able to escape without injury as rescue boats quickly raced to the scene and got him to safety.

“I just can’t believe it,” Fanning said. “I’m just tripping. … To walk away from that, I’m just so stoked.”

Fanning said he never saw the shark approach, but he soon realized what was happening.

“All of the sudden, I just had this instinct that something was behind me,” the 34-year-old said. “And then all of the sudden, I felt like I started getting pulled underwater. Then the [shark] came up, and I was on my board and it was like right there, and I saw the whole thing thrashing around.

“I was getting dragged under by my leg wrap, and then I felt like it kicked me off, but it was still there, and I was still attached to my board. I felt like it was dragging me underwater, and then my leg wrap broke, and I started swimming and screaming.”

— Troubled point guard Ty Lawson will have a new home, as the Nuggets reportedly agreed to send him along with a 2017 second-round draft pick to the Rockets for a protected 2016 first-round pick and four non-guaranteed contracts, including point guard Pablo Prigioni.

According to ESPN, in addition to Prigioni the Nuggets will receive Kostas Papanikolaou, Joey Dorsey and Nick Johnson.

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Read More: Michael Platini, Mick Fanning, Sepp Blatter, Ty Lawson