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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Nationals star Bryce Harper lashes out at ump after another ejection 05.21.15 at 8:12 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: Rangers at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Mariners at Orioles, 12:35 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Dodgers at Giants, 3:45 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Cubs at Padres, 9:10 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA playoffs: Rockets at Warriors, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL playoffs: Ducks at Blackhawks, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)


Bryce Harper was ejected for the second time in just over a week, and the young Nationals star is not happy with how umpire Marvin Hudson handled the situation.

After a low strike call, Harper and Hudson exchanged words in the third inning of Washington’s 3-2 victory over the Yankees before Harper and manager Matt Williams were sent home early.

“I don’t think 40,000 people came to watch him ump tonight. Plain and simple. Plain and simple. I mean, I really don’t think they did. Especially when we’re playing the Yankees,” Harper said.

“The Yankees are a good team, we’re a good team and we’re rolling. And, I mean, the way I’m hitting, I don’t want to get tossed. I don’t think I really did anything bad to get tossed. But maybe he just had a bad morning. Maybe he didn’t get his coffee.”

Hudson warned the Washington dugout and then appeared to tell Harper to get back in the batter’s box before ejecting him.

“I think the whole thing was me not getting into the box. I really do,” Harper said. “I didn’t look at him one time and show him up.”

Hudson denied that was the case.

“Had nothing to do with the box,” Hudson said. “He didn’t like the pitch, and I let him have his say, going and coming. The dugout didn’t like it, and one thing led to another and I had to run him. I had to eject him.”

The game ended with another protested call, as Alex Rodriguez — who earlier in the day posed for pictures with politicians on Capitol Hill — watched a fastball go by and was called out on strikes.

“I didn’t think it was a strike,” Rodriguez said, “but I’m not the ump.

— The Jets have received rave reviews for their rebuilding efforts, but at the end of the day, they still have Geno Smith starting at quarterback. That much was confirmed Wednesday by new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.

“Right now, Geno’s the starter,” Gailey told reporters Wednesday. “Unless something happens — an injury, or something like that, that you don’t foresee — that’s how we anticipate it going.”

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Read More: Bryce Harper, Chan Gailey, Geno Smith, Steph Curry
Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Rockets owner suggests NBA make Clippers players free agents to punish Donald Sterling 04.29.14 at 8:06 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: Rays at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Mariners at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA playoffs: Wizards at Bulls, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA playoffs: Grizzlies at Thunder, 9 p.m. (NBATV)
NBA playoffs: Warriors at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
NHL playoffs: Rangers at Flyers, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
Soccer: UEFA Champions, Real Madrid at Bayern Munich, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)


— As the NBA prepares to make an announcement Tuesday afternoon regarding sanctions for Clippers owner Donald Sterling, one NBA owner has an idea that he says commissioner Adam Silver is considering: Make the players free agents in an effort to force Sterling to sell the team.

Sponsors have started to end or suspend their relationships with the team, but it might take more to push Sterling out the door following racist comments that he allegedly uttered in a conversation with his girlfriend. Rockets owner Leslie Alexander told the Houston Chronicle he recommended to Silver that he void the players’ contracts with Los Angeles.

“I told Adam I don’€™t think he can be removed because the constitution [of the NBA] only allows him to be removed except for gambling. I’€™m not sure that legally can be done,” Alexander said. “But if he loses his players, nobody is going to want to go there. He’€™ll only be able to get a player that is worth $2 million and will play for [$]12 [million]. And who is going to want to coach there?

“If you’€™re a player in the NBA you don’€™t want to play for somebody like that. If you worked for a company, you would walk away and say, ‘I’€™m gone.’ I think the players should have that right.”

The Clippers and Warriors resume their series Tuesday with Game 5 at Staples Center. Warriors coach Mark Jackson suggested that fans boycott the game.

“I believe if it was me, I wouldn’t come to the game,” Jackson said. “I believe the fans, the loudest statement that they can make as fans is to not show up to the game. ‘€¦ To me, it will make the noise of it not being tolerated. That this is a different time. It’s unfortunate, and we cannot allow someone with these feelings to profit.”

Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who indicated he declined an offer to speak with Sterling, said he hopes the arena is “packed and people are cheering for us.” He said he isn’t sure what the team will do before the game in terms of addressing the controversy, but he acknowledged it’s a consideration for him or a player to address the crowd “if we feel that’s something will help our fans.”

Rogers Clemens is due in court in Brooklyn on Tuesday morning as part of the defamation suit brought by his former trainer, Brian McNamee, after a federal appeals court on Monday denied Clemens’ bid for an emergency intervention.

Clemens’ request for a stay of proceedings also was denied, with U.S. District Court Judge Sterling Johnson expressing disgust with the former pitcher’s legal tactics.

“Clemens’ attempts in stalling this litigation are a threat to the administration of justice,” Sterling wrote, adding that Clemens “has chosen to file frivolous motions and appeals to perpetuate the delay of this five-year-old litigation.”

The ruling means Clemens will have to share about 900 emails that detail his strategy in dealing with accusations that he used performance-enhancing drugs following the release of the Mitchell Report in 2007, when he was described as a user of steroids and human growth hormone.

— Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper reportedly will have surgery Tuesday on his left thumb, which he injured on a headfirst slide into third base on a triple in Friday’s game against the Padres.

Harper, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday, is expected to be out until at least July.

“I slid into the bag and I caught it a little bit,” Harper said after Friday’s game. “Went into the dugout, swing a couple in the cage, felt fine. Went out to the outfield, it swelled up a little bit.”

Harper is hitting .289/.352/.422 with one home run and nine RBIs. He was yanked from a game a little over a week ago for a lack of hustle running out a ground ball.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On April 29, 1986, Roger Clemens set a major league record by striking out 20 Mariners. The Red Sox were in jeopardy of losing the game, however, as Gorman Thomas hit a home run in the top of the seventh inning. Which Red Sox player answered with a three-run home run in the bottom of the inning for a 3-1 Sox lead that would stand up as the final score?

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Read More: Adam Silver, Brian McNamee, Bryce Harper, doc rivers
Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Former Jets QB Mark Sanchez reportedly likely to land with Eagles 03.25.14 at 7:43 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 preseason: Red Sox at Rays, 1 p.m. (NESN)
MLB preseason: Braves at Tigers, 1 p.m. (ESPN)
MLB preseason: Giants at Brewers, 4 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB preseason: Phillies at Yankees, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA: Thunder at Mavericks, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Knicks at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
College basketball: NIT, Belmont at Clemson, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: NIT, Southern Miss at Minnesota, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL: Red Wings at Blue Jackets, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
Soccer: Premier League, Manchester United vs. Manchester City, 3:45 p.m. (NBCSN)


— Three days after the Jets signed Michael Vick and released Mark Sanchez, reports emerged Monday that Sanchez is likely to join the Eagles.

Philadelphia is said to be interested but first wants its medical staff to get a look at the quarterback’s surgically repaired right shoulder, as the 27-year-old Sanchez missed last season with a torn labrum.

Nick Foles is Philly’s starter, with the inexperienced Matt Barkley and G.J. Kinne in reserve.

“That’s one of the positions we’ve always talked about having, a lot of depth, a lot of competition,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said Monday at the NFL league meetings in Orlando (via “If there was an opportunity for us to add a player that we thought added competition, was a good player, we’d have to look at that.”

The New York Daily News reported that the Giants have showed interest as well, but Sanchez appears unlikely to remain in New York.

Sanchez had some success running a hurry-up offense in his first two years with the Jets, although he became turnover-prone when the talent around him dwindled. He finished his Jets career with a 36-31 record as a starter with 89 total touchdowns and 72 interceptions.

In a farewell letter to Jets fans Monday, Sanchez wrote, “It’s time to move on.”

“Playing quarterback for the New York Jets has been the thrill of my young career,” Sanchez wrote. “We shared some incredible moments together that I’€™ll never forget.

“There were some tough times, but mostly good times,” he added. “In the end, I know I gave you and the Jets everything I had to win the Lombardi Trophy. I only regret that we couldn’€™t bring it home for all of us to share.”

ESPN The Magazine polled 143 Major League Baseball players on a variety of topics, including which team they think will win the World Series. The defending champion Red Sox were fourth at 11 percent, trailing the Cardinals (19 percent), Tigers (18 percent) and Dodgers (15 percent), with the Nationals and Braves (7 percent each) just behind Boston.

Said one American League All-Star: “Boston still has a nice roster, but you have to think the Cardinals are just as good as last year, maybe a little better.”

The Yankees were ranked the most overhyped team at 44 percent, followed by the Dodgers (13 percent) and Angels (12 percent).

Said a National League outfielder: “The Yankees are the center of attention every year, so it’s fun to watch them when they’re going to be as bad as they will be this year. They’re just so old that there’s no way that lineup stays together. And even if they all stay healthy, it’s hard to see where guys aren’t tailing off.”

Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper was voted the most overrated player, garnering 24 percent of the vote, with Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig second at 21 percent. Suspended Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, of whom 51 percent of players said they would vote to kick out of the union, was the third most overrated player at 14 percent.

Angels outfielder Mike Trout (56 percent) was tabbed as the game’s best player, followed by Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera (26 percent) and Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw (6 percent).

Asked if they agree with Yankees manager Joe Girardi that MLB is ready for an openly gay player, 81 percent responded in the affirmative. And the players said they believed 9.4 percent of MLB players are still taking performance-enhancing drugs.

— No entrant survived the first weekend in the Quicken Loans billion-dollar bracket challenge, and billionaire Warren Buffet, who was behind the contest, is disappointed.

“I would have preferred to see it go quite a bit longer,” he said in an interview Monday on the Dan Patrick Show. “Not all the way, but quite a bit longer.”

Buffet said he hopes to repeat the contest in 2015 but with some changes that will make it possible for people to stay in the pool longer.

“I think we’re going to come up with something better next year,” he said. “We’ll make it a lot easier to enter. There were some questions that were a little tough, I thought. We’ll make it easier to win, but I think we’ll have an exciting prize.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On March 25, 1984, the Red Sox acquired Bill Buckner from the Cubs by sending Mike Brumley and which player to Chicago?

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Read More: Bryce Harper, Mark Sanchez, Mike Trout, Warren Buffet
Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Jets QB Mark Sanchez turnover-prone at OTA practice 05.23.13 at 7:32 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.

NHL playoffs: Bruins at Rangers, 7 p.m. (CNBC)
NHL playoffs: Blackhawks at Red Wings, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL playoffs: Sharks at Kings, 10:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
MLB: Indians at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Twins at Tigers, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)


‘™¦ Mark Sanchez‘ 2013 vindication tour got off to a rocky start Wednesday, as the Jets quarterback threw three interceptions in the team’s OTA practice, something coach Rex Ryan called “disappointing” and “unacceptable.”

“This is OTAs and things, but yeah, that’€™s going to be the pressure that we’€™re putting on him,” Ryan said, via the New York Daily News. “He did a lot of great things. It’€™s not that you try to cover up the fact you had some bad plays — no, no, no you flat tell him. We can’€™t have these and all that type of stuff. He knows.”

Added Ryan: “He did a lot of great things, and then those negative things, at the end of the day, that’€™s what gets you beat. And so we’ve got to to do a better job of eliminating those turnovers.”

Said Sanchez: “I’m shaking the rust off a little bit.”

Meanwhile, rookie QB Geno Smith, who fired his agents after his draft slide, announced that he will be represented by Jay-Z‘s Roc Nation Sports.

“When you talk about being in New York from a standpoint of what they can do in the city, the connections that they have, I think it’€™s a good move. My mother and my family were comfortable with it. I’€™m comfortable with it,” Smith said. “I’€™m just going to move on from there. It’€™s not going to be a big deal and just remain humble and keep focusing on football.”

‘™¦ Knicks star Carmelo Anthony has a partially torn labrum in his left shoulder and might need surgery, according to multiple reports. Anthony will be reevaluated after resting the shoulder for the next 3-4 weeks.

Anthony hurt the shoulder last month in a game against the Pacers and then re-aggravated it when Celtics forward Kevin Garnett tugged on his arm during Game 5 of their playoff series. Anthony shot 40 percent in 12 postseason games, including a 39-point effort on 15-of-29 shooting in New York’s elimination Game 6 vs. Indiana.

“It was bothering me since it happened,” Anthony said Monday, before an MRI revealed the extent of the damage. “To be able to play with that and get through the pain, it just came to a point where you just try not to think about it. That’€™s where I was at mentally.”

If Anthony needs surgery, he is expected to need 3-5 months of recovery time, meaning he might not be ready in time for training camp.

‘™¦ The Nationals squandered a 2-1 lead in the ninth inning Tuesday and lost to the Giants. Closer Rafael Soriano, in his first season in Washington after opting out of his contract with the Yankees in the offseason, placed part of the blame on young star Bryce Harper, who saw the game-trying triple go just over his head in right field with two outs.

“With two outs and the tying run at first, you have to play the outfield so the ball doesn’t go over your head,” Soriano said in a Spanish language interview, according to USA Today. “It may not have been a catchable ball, but if we’re positioned the right way, there might have been a different outcome. With two outs, I could tell my 4-year-old son, ‘You know where you need to play,’ and he would go to the right spot to make the play. It’s not an excuse, and I’m not speaking badly about anybody, but I think that’s how you play the game.”

Harper, who needed 11 stitches after running into the wall at Dodger Stadium last week, said he hesitated because he thought he was running out of room.

“Absolutely, of course it crosses your mind after you jam into a wall, and it doesn’t really feel very good,” Harper said. “It sucks not making the play. I totally put that loss on me.”

On Wednesday, Soriano downplayed the incident, insisting he was joking to the USA Today reporter. He also said he cleared the air with Harper and insisted, “It’s all good.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On May 23, 1976, the Celtics beat the Suns, 98-87, in Game 1 of the NBA finals. Which Celtic led the way with 25 points and 21 rebounds?

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Read More: Bryce Harper, Carmelo Anthony, Geno Smith, Mark Sanchez
Monday’s Morning Mashup: Knicks veterans have issues with Jeremy Lin’s contract 07.16.12 at 8:03 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: White Sox at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI)
MLB: Angels at Tigers, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Basketball: Exhibition, U.S. vs. Brazil, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)


‘™¦ With reports leaking out from New York that the Knicks might change course and let Jeremy Lin go to the Rockets, Carmelo Anthony called Lin’s renegotiated offer from Houston — which includes a $14.9 million salary in the third year of the three-year deal — “ridiculous.”

The way the contract is structured makes it difficult for New York to match, and the Knicks appear prepared to instead go with a point guard rotation of Raymond Felton (reportedly headed East in a sign-and-trade with the Trail Blazers) and Jason Kidd (who was arrested Sunday morning for DWI only days after signing a free agent deal).

Knicks coach Mike Woodson insisted last week that the team would match the Rockets’ offer to Lin, but that was before Houston altered it to ensure that the Knicks would have to go well over the salary cap to keep the former Harvard star.

“I can’t talk about it,” Woodson said Sunday.

Knicks guard J.R. Smith made it clear that the team’s veterans would have some issues with Lin receiving All-Star money after having yet to prove himself over a full season.

“Without a doubt,” Smith told “I think some guys take it personal, because they’ve been doing it longer and haven’t received any reward for it yet. I think it’s a tough subject to touch on for a lot of guys.”

‘™¦ Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen is at it again, and this time he’s chosen a high-profile subject for his latest controversy: Nationals rookie Bryce Harper. During Sunday’s game, Guillen complained to the umpire that Harper used too much pine tar on his bat. When Harper used new lumber in his second at-bat, Guillen started riding Harper from the dugout because he claims Harper did something “unprofessional” toward the manager, although he wouldn’t say what the offense was.

“Something happened there the inning before and I didn’t like it and I was talking to the umpire about it,” explained Guillen, who said that during his razzing of Harper, “I was just telling [Harper] how he cut he was.”

Responded Nationals manager Davey Johnson: “Ozzie had complained that the pine tar was too high up on Harper’€™s bat. So we changed it. Then he was still chirping about. It got on the umpire’€™s nerves. It got on my nerves. He was trying to intimidate my player, I guess. That’€™s not going to bother our player. He does what he has to do.”

Harper, who has done a good job of staying out of trouble after some incidents in the minors, took the high road.

“He battles for his team, and that’€™s the type of manager Ozzie is,” Harper said. “He’€™s a great manager to play for. He’€™s going to battle for you, no matter what. That’€™s a manager you want to play for.”

‘™¦ It was a strange stage in the Tour de France on Sunday, as at least 30 riders got punctures in their tires when they rode over tacks and small nails someone tossed on the course. Overall leader Bradley Wiggins was ahead of the incident, but he encouraged the lead pack to slow down and let defending champion Cadel Evans catch up after Evans lost time getting a replacement wheel.

Two days earlier, Wiggins was hit on the arm by a flare waved by a spectator and received minor burns.

“We’re out there, quite vulnerable at times, very close to the public on climbs,” Wiggins said. “We’re just the riders at the end of the day and we’re there to be shot at, literally.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On July 16, 1958, which Red Sox starter improved to 9-0 with a 5-2 victory over the Kansas City Athletics, making his 12th consecutive victory dating back to the previous season?

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Read More: Bryce Harper, Carmelo Anthony, Davey Johnson, J.R. Smith
Bryce Harper’s ‘That’s a clown question, bro,’ will be on T-shirts 06.24.12 at 1:50 pm ET
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Washington outfielder Bryce Harper‘s line, “That’s a clown question, bro” will be available on Under Armour T-shirts in the near future, Comcast SportsNet reported.

The phrase originated during a postgame interview on June 12 after the 19-year-old smashed the longest home run in his career against the Blue Jays in Toronto. One Toronto TV reporter asked Harper if he’d use Canada’s lower drinking age to celebrate with a beer.

The right fielder, who is a mormon, paused before telling the reporter, “That’s a clown question, bro.”

Harper’s religion prohibits him from drinking alcohol.

Read More: Bryce Harper,
Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Suspended Saints player claims coaches told him to keep quiet about bounty program 05.08.12 at 7:51 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.

NBA playoffs: Celtics at Hawks, 8 p.m. (CSNNE, TNT; WEEI)
NBA playoffs: Magic at Pacers, 7 p.m. (NBA TV)
NBA playoffs: 76ers at Bulls, 9:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
NBA playoffs: Nuggets at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
NHL playoffs: Devils at Flyers, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
MLB: Red Sox at Royals, 8:10 p.m. (NESN; WRKO)
MLB: Rays at Yankees, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Braves at Cubs, 8 p.m. (WGN)
MLB: Giants at Angels, 10 p.m. (MLB Network)


‘™¦ According to a document revealed by Yahoo! Sports Monday, former Saints defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove said in a sworn statement that two Saints coaches encouraged him to deny the existence of the team’s bounty program to NFL investigators. Hargrove described meeting in February 2010 with then-defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and current assistant head coach Joe Vitt, and Williams telling Hargrove, “If we all stay on the same page, this will blow over.”

Yet, with all four suspended players appealing, the denials continue to fly.

“All we know from the declaration is that a couple of coaches were in trouble and hoped for support from him,” said Peter Ginsberg, attorney for suspended player Jonathan Vilma. “Anthony’s declaration in no way supports that he lied, that a bounty system existed or that players participated in any kind of inappropriate program. It’s a shame that the NFL needed to have mischaracterized that declaration in order to justify these punishments. It’s just another reason to conclude that the NFL has no evidence to justify what it has done to the players.”

‘™¦ Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels, who admitted that he drilled Nationals rookie Bryce Harper on purpose Sunday night, was suspended five games and fined by Major League Baseball.

“Obviously that’s not what we’re about,” Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “We’re not about trying to injure people. Things that happen in the game happen in the game. Those are parts of the game. But as far as how the Phillies want to conduct themselves, we try to take the high road on things. By no means are we condoning this. We fully support what the commissioner’s office has decided to do.”

‘™¦ With the Big East stung by defections of high-profile programs, commissioner John Marinatto resigned Monday after less than three years in the top spot. School presidents reportedly were upset at Marinatto’s failure to keep Pittsburgh and Syracuse from heading to the ACC and West Virginia to the Big 12.

The Big East attempted to rebound by adding Central Florida, Houston, Memphis, SMU and Temple, plus Boise State, San Diego State and Navy for football only.

“Our recent expansion efforts have stabilized the conference for the long term, and we are likewise well positioned for our very important upcoming television negotiations,” Marinatto said in a statement from the conference. “As a result, I felt this was the right time to step aside and to let someone else lead us through the next chapter of our evolution.”

‘™¦ With the eighth-seeded Kings advancing to the Western Conference finals of the Stanley Cup playoffs, Real Clear Sports has a list of the 10 lowest seeds to win a championship.

No. 10 is the 1969 Celtics, who were the fourth and final seed in the East when they made the final title run of the Bill Russell era. No. 1 is the 2008 Fresno State baseball team, which won the College World Series and became the lowest-seeded team to win an NCAA title in any sport. The Bulldogs were seeded fourth in the four-team Long Beach regional, meaning they were no higher than 13th in the West.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On May 8, 2004, in a 9-1 victory over the visiting Royals, which Red Sox player hit two home runs, one of which was an inside-the-park homer?

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Read More: Anthony Hargrove, Bryce Harper, Cole Hamels, Gregg Williams
Monday’s Morning Mashup: Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels admits hitting Nationals rookie Bryce Harper on purpose 05.07.12 at 7:48 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 Royals, 8:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI)
MLB: White Sox at Indians, 1 p.m. (WGN)
MLB: Mets at Phillies, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA playoffs: Spurs at Jazz, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA playoffs: Grizzlies at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
NHL playoffs: Capitals at Rangers, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL playoffs: Predators at Coyotes, 10 p.m. (NBCSN)
IIHF World Championship: United States vs. Slovakia, 1 p.m. (NBCSN)


‘™¦ Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels sent a message to Nationals rookie Bryce Harper in the first inning of Sunday night’s game, hitting him in the back with a fastball. In case the message wasn’t received, Hamels admitted after the game that it was no accident.

“I was trying to hit him,” Hamels said. “I’m not going to deny it.”

Explained the veteran hurler: “That’s something I grew up watching, that’s kind of what happened. So I’m just trying to continue the old baseball because I think some people are kind of getting away from it. I remember when I was a rookie the strike zone was really, really small and you didn’t say anything because that’s the way baseball is.”

Harper got his revenge later in the inning, stealing home when Hamels made a pickoff attempt to first base. Then in the third inning, Nationals starter Jordan Zimmerman hit Hamels in the leg, drawing a warning to both teams from the umpire.

‘™¦ During Saturday’s Braves-Rockies game in Denver, Rockies pitcher Jamie Moyer approached Chipper Jones while the Braves veteran was on second base and accused him of stealing signs. Jones screamed at Moyer that he was not, and Jones still was bothered by the accusation Sunday.

“I’m not happy, to say the least,” Jones said. “Any time a grown man gets his integrity questioned, they’re going to take it seriously, and I’m no different. If he wants to discuss it, we’ll discuss it, but he’s wrong, plain and simple.”

Added Jones: “Never have I wanted a sign when I was hitting, and I have never relayed a sign to a hitter from second base, ever.”

‘™¦ Ravens safety Bernard Pollard, known for injuring Patriots players, is not happy with the league’s attempts to protect its players. During an interview with Houston radio station Sports Radio 610 last week, Pollard took some shots at the commissioner.

Pollard said the restrictions against illegal hits are “taking away the game of football” and it doesn’t bode well for the future. “I just truly believe, another 20, 30 years — I don’t even think football will even be in existence anymore,” he said, adding: “We all know what this game is about. We know and understand that it’s a violent sport.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On May 7, 1972, Bobby Orr had two goals and an assist in the Bruins’ 3-2 victory over the Rangers in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals, giving Orr a record 22 points by a defenseman in a playoff year. Whose record did he break?

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Read More: Bernard Pollard, Bryce Harper, Chipper Jones, Cole Hamels
Monday’s Morning Mashup: Nationals send teen prodigy Bryce Harper to minors 03.19.12 at 7:56 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.

NBA: Celtics at Hawks, 7 p.m. (CSNNE; WEEI)
NBA: Bulls at Magic, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Mavericks at Nuggets, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
College basketball: NIT, Middle Tennessee at Tennessee, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: NIT, Minnesota at Miami, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: NIT, Illinois State at Stanford, 11:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
NHL: Maple Leafs at Bruins, 7 p.m. (NESN)
NHL: Devils at Rangers, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL: Ducks at Sharks, 10 p.m. (NBCSN)
MLB preseason: Tigers at Phillies, 1 p.m. (ESPN)
MLB preseason: Dodgers at Indians, 4 p.m. (MLB Network)


‘™¦ Bryce Harper, the controversial 19-year-old many are predicting to be the next major league star, was sent to Triple-A Syracuse Sunday by the Nationals .

Harper, who missed six spring training games with a calf strain, went 1-for-5 with four strikeouts Sunday against the Tigers. Manager Davey Johnson reportedly had been pushing for Harper to stay in the majors.

“He’s a special player,” Johnson said. “He needs to go down there and do what he’s doing. He doesn’t need to change [anything] for me. He just needs to go play.”

Said Harper: “It sucks. But I’ve got to go down there [to Syracuse] and work hard and try to get up here as quick as I can. … I just want to go down there and … get on a streak and be called up and hopefully be a game-changer for the Nationals.”

Harper, who is being transitioned from catcher to outfield, is expected to play mostly center field with Syracuse.

‘™¦ Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie tweeted Sunday night that he is moving to safety to help the team fill a void there. The team has been bringing in free agents — including LaRon Landry, who also has visited with the Patriots — but hasn’t found anyone yet.

Tweeted Cromartie: The reason I say I’m moving to FS is because Kyle [Wilson] is becoming a good corner and I don’t mind the move.

‘™¦ More details from golf coach Hank Haney‘s book on Tiger Woods were revealed over the weekend, and it’s not good for Woods. Haney does not paint a flattering picture of the golf legend in “The Big Miss,” which is due to be released next Tuesday.

Haney claims Woods is a self-centered, immature tightwad who routinely ignores kids looking for autographs. Haney said when eating at a restaurant with Woods, the golfer would get up without a word when he was finished and expect everyone in his party (including his former wife, Elin) to follow him, even if they were not finished.

“When he was done — and he habitually ate fast — you were done,” Haney told.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On March 19, 1972, which Bruins player scored two power-play goals in a 7-3 victory over the visiting Minnesota North Stars and in the process set an NHL single-season record with 27 power-play goals (he finished the season with 28)?

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Video: Nationals prospect Bryce Harper ejected from Double-A game 08.11.11 at 9:16 am ET
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Nationals top prospect and 2010 No. 1 overall MLB draft pick Bryce Harper was ejected in Wednesday’s Double-A game between the Richmond Flying Squirrels and Harrisburg Senators.

Harper, playing for the Senators, became upset when he struck out looking to end the seventh inning on a questionable pitch. He was immediately ejected for aggressively whipping his helmet into the dirt. He then got in the umpire’s face and rubbed his cleat in the dirt beyond the outside corner of the plate to show that the pitch was outside.

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