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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Ravens coach John Harbaugh voices support for embattled RB Ray Rice

07.31.14 at 7:48 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:
MLB: White Sox at Tigers, 1 p.m. (WGN)
Soccer: Exhibition, Bayern Munich vs. Guadalajara, 8 p.m. (ESPN)

AROUND THE WEB:

– With Ravens running back Ray Rice scheduled to meet the media Thursday for the first time since being suspended two games for a domestic violence incident with his now-wife, coach John Harbaugh threw his support behind the beleaguered player.

“I hate what happened. What happened was wrong. Flat out,” Harbaugh told reporters after Wednesday’s training camp practice. “The thing I appreciate about it is how Ray has handled it afterward by acknowledging it was wrong and he’ll do everything he can do to make it right. That’s what you ask for when someone does a wrong thing. So, I’m proud of him for that.”

Added Harbaugh: “I’m there for Ray as a friend and I also think an older male figure in his life and try to give him advice and wisdom. And just be there for him. A friend is born from adversity. That’s what it is really about with Ray. I love the way he’s handled it.”

Many have criticized the NFL’s suspension as being too short, but Harbaugh indicated he’s comfortable with how those in charge handled the situation.

“Those that make those decisions do so with great seriousness,” Harbaugh said. “They aim to be just and fair. They aim to do right by all parties involved. Public opinion will often push those decisions in certain directions. But both of those decision makers — not the opinion makers, but the decision makers — who know all the knowable facts of the case came from the same direction on it. So, we said all along that the circumstances will then determine the outcome of this and we said all along that we will respect the outcome. That’s going to be tough for us. That’s going to be two games without one of our very best players. But we’ll move forward and deal with it.”

– Former Red Sox infielder Jose Offerman was ordered to pay $940,000 to Johnathan Nathans, who clams he suffered a career-ending head injury during a rampage by a bat-wielding Offerman in an independent minor league baseball game in 2007.

Nathans’ attorney, Josh Koskoff, said his client, now an attorney in Portland, Maine, still is affected by the injury. He was seeking $4.8 million.

“What we really were looking for after seven years was accountability for Mr. Offerman,” Koskoff said (via The Associated Press).

Offerman, who at the time was playing for the Long Island Ducks, denied that he swung his bat at Nathans, then a catcher for the Bridgeport Bluefish. Offerman charged the mound after being hit by a pitch. The jury found Offerman guilty of assault for charging pitcher Matt Beech but not battery, according to Offerman’s lawyer, who said he is considering an appeal.

“I think the verdict is inconsistent and a bit perplexing,” attorney Frank Riccio II said. “Mr. Offerman is certainly happy seven years later that a jury said he did not strike Mr. Nathans. … How is Mr. Offerman liable for damages if [the] jury found he never struck him? It’s an interesting question that has to be resolved before it gets to its final end.”

Offerman played 3 1/2 seasons for the Red Sox as part of a 15-year major league career that ended in 2005.

– A video making its way around the web shows a 13-year-old basketball player from Romania said to be 7-foot-4. Robert Bobroczky, son of 7-foot-1 former professional player Zigmond Bobroczky, recently joined Stella Azzurra Rome, the European program that produced NBA player Andrea Bargnani.

As the video below shows, the wiry Bobroczky isn’t very athletic, but the fact that he’s already taller than every player in the NBA works in his favor.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On July 31, 1997, in one of the most favorably one-sided deals in Red Sox history, Boston acquired catcher Jason Varitek and pitcher Derek Lowe from the Mariners for which reliever?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We were well aware of it, heard it. Wouldn’t expect anything less. This is a fan base that is very much in tune with what we’re doing, good and bad, and I think it’s a clear sign of support for Jon.” Red Sox manager John Farrell, on fans chanting Jon Lester‘s name during Wednesday’s 6-1 loss to the Blue Jays

STAT OF THE DAY: 8 – Consecutive losses for the Revolution before Wednesday’s 3-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids

‘NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos): The Pirates run into a double play — on a walk. As Chris Stewart trots down to first base on his free pass from Giants pitcher Jean Machi, Travis Snider wanders off second and is caught in a rundown that ends with him being tagged out, and Gaby Sanchez is tagged as well after leaving third base to make room for Snider.

Rangers left fielder Jim Adduci snags a foul fly ball down the line while crashing into the wall.

Matt Kemp delivers an RBI single to give the Dodgers a walkoff win over the Braves in the 10th inning.

Diamondbacks right fielder Gerardo Parra dives to catch a line drive off the bat of Reds hitter Todd Frazier.

For those who missed the “Sharknado 2″ premiere Wednesday night, here’s a clip of the Mets’ CitField being caught in the sharknado storm that terrorizes New York.

A running track in China, apparently a rush job as it had to be finished before a visit from Communist Party officials, has rectangular lanes, making the turns a little tricky.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Closer Heathcliff Slocumb

SOOTHING SOUNDS: On July 31, 1975, three members of the popular Irish group the Miami Showband were massacred on their way home from a performance as part of The Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Read More: John Harbaugh, Jose Offerman, Ray Rice, Robert Bobroczky

Kevin Durant calls LeBron James’ announcement to return to Cleveland ‘classy’

07.30.14 at 8:54 pm ET
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LeBron James was showered with praise for the way he handled his announcement in a Sports Illustrated essay that he was returning to the Cavaliers.

Now James officially has Kevin Durant‘s approval.

“I thought it was well-thought-out. It was classy. It was a great move to do it as a letter,” Durant said after a training camp session with USA Basketball on Tuesday. “That was pretty cool. It’s funny seeing guys think about more than just basketball for once. He thought about the city where he comes from, about Northeast Ohio and how he can affect so many of the kids just being there playing basketball. I love that. So many guys get criticized for making the decision that’s best for them, instead of what’s best for everybody else. He’s a guy that did that. You gotta respect that. I applauded him, I texted him and told him congratulations on the decision and told him I was happy for him. As a fan of the game, it’s going to be pretty cool to see him back in Cleveland.”

James’ homecoming inspired reporters to ask Durant if he’ll consider a similar return home — Durant is from Seat Pleasant, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C. — when he hits free agency in two years.

“I’m going to do what’s best for me,” Durant said. “It’s hard to talk about that right now when I’ve got two years left in Oklahoma City. I’m just going to focus on that. I’m not going to make a decision based on what anybody else does. I grew up watching the Bullets/Wizards. I grew up taking the train to that arena, all the time, to watch Georgetown, the Bullets, the Washington Mystics. That whole city is a part of me. It’s in my blood. I love going back home, seeing my family and playing there, but I love Oklahoma City too.”

Durant is has become close friends with James over the years. The two were Olympic teammates and even trained together in Akron, Ohio, during the 2011 lockout. Durant has two years remaining on a five-year, $86 million extension he signed with the Thunder in 2010.

Read More: Kevin Durant, LeBron James,

Cardinals, Patrick Peterson agree to 5-year, $70M extension

07.30.14 at 10:38 am ET
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The Cardinals have agreed to a five-year contract extension with Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson, the team announced Tuesday.

Arizona didn’t provide any further details on the extension, which will keep Peterson under contract through 2020. Peterson said on Twitter Tuesday night the deal is worth $70 million with $48 million guaranteed, which makes him the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL.

Peterson’s deal surpasses contracts recently signed by the Browns’ Joe Haden (five years, $68 million) and Seahawks‘ Richard Sherman (four years, $56 million).

Peterson will hold a news conference Wednesday.

Read More: Patrick Peterson,

NBA reportedly expected to approve Clippers sale to Steve Ballmer quickly after transaction is complete

07.30.14 at 9:59 am ET
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The NBA apparently is ready to rid the league of Donald Sterling‘s presence as quickly as possible.

According to USA Today, the league’s Board of Governors is expected to approve the sale of the Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer soon after the transaction from Shelly Sterling to Ballmer is complete.

Sterling and Ballmer have a target date of Aug. 15 to complete the deal with hopes that Ballmer can take control of the Clippers within the next few weeks.

Judge Michael Levanas ruled earlier this week that Sterling had the right to sell the Clippers to Ballmer after the two sides came to an agreement in May. Donald Sterling has until the sale is complete to file objections.

Read More: Donald Sterling, Steve Ballmer,

Broadcaster Vin Scully to return for 66th season with Dodgers in 2015

07.30.14 at 9:47 am ET
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For Vin Scully, age apparently is just a number.

The 86-year-old Hall of Fame announcer will return for his record 66th season with the Dodgers, making him the longest-tenured broadcaster with one team in sports history. Scully calls all Dodgers home and road games in California and Arizona on SportsNet LA. The first three innings of his games are simulcast on the radio.

“God willing, I will be back next year,” Scully said in a statement released by the team. “Naturally there will come a time when I have to say goodbye, but I’ve soul-searched and this is not the time.”

Scully began his broadcasting career in 1950 with the Brooklyn Dodgers. At 25, he became the youngest person to ever broadcast a World Series game. He has called six Dodgers World Series championships.

Read More: Vin Scully,

Reports: Josh Gordon hires attorney Maurice Suh, prepares defense plan

07.30.14 at 9:43 am ET
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Browns receiver Josh Gordon hired attorney Maurice Suh to represent him at a hearing with the NFL as he faces an indefinite suspension for marijuana use, according to multiple reports.

Suh previously helped Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman win an appeal for a suspension in 2012 for a substance abuse violation on the grounds of a faulty test.

ESPN reported that Gordon’s legal team will argue Friday that the receiver’s positive test results were caused from secondhand marijuana smoke. They reportedly also will argue that the positive tests are marginal enough to question whether the results were truly positive.

Gordon failed at least three drug tests in college for marijuana and was suspended for two games last season for what he said was prescribed cough medicine.

Read More: Josh Gordon,

Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: ESPN suspends Stephen A. Smith for comments related to Ray Rice incident

07.30.14 at 7:53 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:
MLB: Blue Jays at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Angels at Orioles, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
MLS: Colorado Rapids at New England Revolution, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE)
MLS: New York Red Bulls at Real Salt Lake, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
Soccer: Champions Cup, Manchester City vs. Liverpool 7 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

– A day after Stephen A. Smith made a videotaped apology for his comments about “provocation” by abused women as related to the Ray Rice domestic situation, ESPN announced Tuesday that Smith will not appear on “First Take” or ESPN Radio for the next week.

Smith insisted that he was not trying to imply that women had some responsibility in cases of abuse, but he did not clarify his remarks. He was discussing the case of Rice, the Ravens running back who was suspended two games by the league after being charged with assaulting his fiancee (who now is his wife).

Smith had been widely criticized, most notably by ESPN colleague Michelle Beadle, since his comments during Friday’s “First Take.”

MASHUP POLL: Should Stephen A. Smith have been suspended for his comments about victims of domestic abuse?

  • Yes, he crossed the line by trying to place some blame on the victim, despite his denial (55%, 390 Votes)
  • No, he should have the right to express his opinion (45%, 325 Votes)

Total Voters: 715

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In a memo sent to ESPN employees Tuesday, network president John Skipper wrote that he engaged in “thoughtful discussion” with a group of men and women in the company before deciding how to proceed.

Wrote Skipper: “Stephen has called what took place ‘the most egregious mistake’ of his career. I believe his apology was sincere and that he and we have learned from what we’ve collectively experienced. I’m confident we will all move forward with a greater sense of enlightenment and perspective as the lasting impact of these last few days.”

– A Browns fan who posted a YouTube video of him urinating on the Baltimore grave of former team owner Art Modell will be charged with disorderly conduct, Maryland authorities announced.

The man, who was not identified, indicates in the video that he is angry at Modell for moving the club in 1996 to Baltimore, where the team became the Ravens.

“Everyone who has buried a loved one has the right to believe that their final resting place will be treated with respect,” Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger said in a statement. “Bringing charges against this individual should act as a deterrent to others and assure the rest of us that no matter who you are, indecencies will not be committed against your final resting place.”

Said Modell’s son, former Ravens president and COO David Modell: “We also agree with the state’s attorney’s office that everyone who has buried a loved one has the right to know that the final resting place will not be defiled. We are a country of laws. Just because you’re angry, that doesn’t mean the laws no longer apply to you.”

– A major water pipe burst in Los Angeles and spewed eight million gallons of water onto the UCLA campus, flooding Pauley Pavilion less than two years after the storied basketball facility underwent a $132 million renovation and damaging other athletic facilities.

“Unfortunately, UCLA was the sink for this water source,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said, adding: “It’s painful. It’s painful. We just refurbished Pauley just a few years ago. And it’s a beautiful structure. It’s of course a symbolic structure for this entire campus.”

With the city enduring a historic drought, the 93-year-old pipe under Sunset Boulevard sent 35,000 gallons of water per minute for 3 1/2 hours.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On July 30, 1996, the Red Sox acquired Darren Bragg from the Mariners in a trade for which player whose career ended in 2012 after 25 seasons?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I will say this, that it is important that we all continue to focus as a team. ‘€¦ The things that we established a year ago and the things that we continue to build, that can’€™€™t be sacrificed with a so-called distraction taking away from the way we play. That’€™€™s unacceptable, in my mind.” Red Sox manager John Farrell, speaking before Tuesday loss to the Blue Jays, on trade rumors involving his players

STAT OF THE DAY: 0-5 – The Red Sox‘ record against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park this season, following Tuesday’s 4-2 loss

‘NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos): Manny Machado hits a walkoff home run in the 12th inning to give the Orioles a win over the Angels.

Cubs catcher John Baker pitches a scoreless top half of the 16th and then scores the winning run in the bottom of the inning against the Rockies.

From the same game, Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon makes a diving catch in the 10th inning to extend the contest.

Marlins third baseman Casey McGehee makes an impressive run-saving stab on a line drive and nearly gets a double play by rolling onto the bag.

Royals left fielder Alex Gordon lays out to make a catch of a fly ball, and it withstands a challenge by the Twins despite video that appears to show part of the ball hit the ground as he caught it.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Jamie Moyer

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Paul Anka was born on this day in 1941.

Read More: Art Modell, Stephen A. Smith,

Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin out for at least a few days with bone bruise

07.29.14 at 10:39 am ET
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Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Monday an MRI revealed rookie receiver Kelvin Benjamin has a bone bruise in his left knee and will miss at least a few days of training camp.

Benjamin apparently injured the knee Sunday when he collided with another player. The Panthers sent the first-round pick in for an MRI as a precautionary measure.

“We got a bit of good news,” Rivera said. “It’s stable and everything is fine. There’s nothing structurally wrong. It is bruised. There is a swelling and what we refer to as a hot spot.”

Rivera said it should take a “few days” for the swelling to subside, but wouldn’t give a specific timetable on Benjamin’s return.

The former Florida State receiver has been working with the starters so far in camp. He made 54 catches for 1,011 yards and 15 touchdowns for FSU last season, made the winning touchdown catch against Auburn in the national championship game.

Read More: Kelvin Benjamin,

Lions postpone talks with Ndamukong Suh until after season

07.29.14 at 10:31 am ET
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Lions president Tom Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew said Monday that the team is postponing contract talks with All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh until after the season.

Suh is entering the final year of his contract. If the two sides can’t come to an agreement after the season, the Lions could still use their franchise tag on him.

“[Suh has] told me he wants to be here. I have a good relationship with him,” Mayhew said. “I know I want him to be here. I don’t know what else to tell you.”

Suh said after practice Monday that he doesn’t want to discuss his contract situation.

“It won’t be a distraction to me,” Suh said. “I’m just out here playing football and having fun.”

Lewand said Detroit’s salary-cap situation isn’t the reason for delaying contract talks.

Suh has 27 1/2 sacks in four NFL seasons. He was selected second overall by the Lions in 2010.

Read More: Ndamukong Suh,

NCAA settles head injury lawsuit, creates $70M fund for testing athletes

07.29.14 at 10:27 am ET
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The NCAA has agreed to settle a class-action head injury lawsuit, creating a $70 million fund to test current former college athletes for brain injuries.

Players can use the results of the test as grounds for suing for damages.

The NCAA also agreed to apply a universal policy specifying how teams must treat players who receive hits to the head.

The settlement applies to multiple men and women sports programs, including football, basketball, hockey, soccer, wrestling, field hockey and lacrosse.