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Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Yankees stuck with huge luxury tax bill, Red Sox just under mark

12.18.13 at 8:12 am ET

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.

NBA: Pistons at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE)
NBA: Heat at Pacers, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Bulls at Rockets, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Texas at North Carolina, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: N.C. State at Tennessee, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: San Francisco at St. John’s, 8 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Stanford at UConn, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: LSU at Texas Tech, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
NHL: Penguins at Rangers, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)


‘€¢ The Yankees didn’t make the playoffs this year, but they did lead baseball in one category: luxury tax. The Yankees received a bill Tuesday from MLB for $28.1 million, pushing their total since the tax began in 2003 to more than $250 million.

The Yankees, who have had baseball’s highest payroll for 15 straight years, pay a 50 percent rate for every dollar over $178 million on their payroll because the team has been over the tax threshold at least four consecutive years. Their $28.1 million bill Tuesday is second only to their $34.1 million bill after the 2005 season.

Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner has said he wants to avoid surpassing next year’s threshold of $189 million, but after their most recent free agent binge — including the signing of former Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury — the Yankees already are locked in to $177.7 million for 15 players. However, if Alex Rodriguez‘s suspension is upheld, that would provide New York some salary relief.

The Dodgers were the only other team to be taxed this year, receiving a bill for $11.4 million. The Red Sox avoided the penalty by finishing $225,666 under the $178 million payroll threshold.

According to MLB, the average salary for a player increased 7.1 percent to $3,326,645, the steepest rise since 2006.

‘€¢ The dysfunctional Knicks continue to make news for the wrong reasons. On Monday, following a 102-101 loss to the Wizards in which the team showed a lack of poise in the closing seconds, coach Mike Woodson announced that Amar’e Stoudemire would be sidelined because his knees were swelling.

Stoudemire responded via Twitter on Tuesday, refuting his coach’s statement and explaining that he just needed rest after playing six games in nine days, including two back-to-backs.

Tweeted Stoudemire: Fans, IM NOT INJURED, just want u to know I’m ONLY stay’n bk bc of 6 games n 9 days w/ bk2bks! Body & Knees feel great!

Woodson, meanwhile, again addressed the ending to Monday night’s game, when the Knicks had a defensive lapse to allow the game-winning layup with six seconds left, then didn’t call a timeout and showed no urgency before Carmelo Anthony threw up an off-balance 3-pointer that was well off the mark.

“Bad coaching,” Woodson said Tuesday. “We made a lot of bad mistakes coming down the stretch. It happens sometimes. And I don’€™t mean that in just a blow-off way. We didn’€™t take the foul when we should have and we talked about it, I didn’€™t call the timeout, so I mean, I can’€™t go back and get it. But I’ve got to learn from it and we’ve got to learn from it as a team, and if we are in that position again we can’€™t let that happen.”

‘€¢ President Barack Obama sent a clear message to Russia when on Tuesday he named tennis legend Billie Jean King and other openly gay athletes to serve as part of the U.S delegation for the opening and closing ceremonies of February’s Sochi Olympics.

Russia has been heavily criticized for passing a national law banning “gay propaganda,” and although the White House did not mention the law Tuesday, a spokesman said the delegation “represents the diversity that is the United States.”

Said King: “I am equally proud to stand with the members of the LGBT community in support of all athletes who will be competing in Sochi and I hope these Olympic Games will indeed be a watershed moment for the universal acceptance of all people.”

Openly gay women’s hockey player Caitlin Cahow, a Connecticut native who played at Harvard, will attend the closing ceremony as part of the U.S. delegation.

The White House also announced that Obama will not attend the Winter Games, nor will the vice president, the first lady or a former president.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Dec. 18, 1986, which Bruins forward recorded his ninth (and final) career hat trick and added two assists in a 6-5 loss to the Hartford Whalers?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “He’s a dirty player. ‘€¦ We’ve seen it from him how many times a year from him? It’s a dirty hit.” — Flames forward Curtis Glencross, talking about Brad Marchand‘s boarding of Sean Monahan during the Bruins’ 2-0 victory Tuesday night

STAT OF THE DAY: 3 — Shutouts in the last five games for Kings goalie Martin Jones after Tuesday’s 3-0 victory over the Oilers

‘NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos): Capitals forward Tom Wilson is likely to be suspended after delivering a devastating hit to Flyers forward Brayden Schenn near the boards.

Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard hits a game-winner for the second straight game, this time beating the Cavaliers with a long 3-pointer in the final second.

Mavericks guard Jose Calderon teaches his teammates some Spanish.

Southern Illinois basketball coach Barry Hinson delivers a memorable rant following his team’s loss to Murray State.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Charlie Simmer

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards was born on this day in 1943.

Read More: Amar'e Stoudemire, Barack Obama, Billie Jean King, mike woodson