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Manny Ramirez on PED suspensions: ‘Everybody makes mistakes’ 03.13.14 at 12:23 pm ET
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As he works out on his own and attempts to get another shot at the major leagues, former Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez finally appears to be taking personal responsibility for his two suspensions related to the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

“When you make a mistake in life, no matter what you do, you’re going to pay the price,” Ramirez told Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal in a phone interview from Miami. “That’s what happened to all of the players that did it. I’m not going to judge people. Everybody is human. Everybody makes mistakes. …

“You’re going to feel guilty about what you did. But you did it. You move on. And you learn from it.”

Added Ramirez: “In your life, you’re going to mature. Sometimes you’ve got to fall and get up to know who you really are. That’s what happened to me. I fell. I got up. Now I know what I really want in life.”

Ramirez, who indicated he’d like to become a hitting coach after he retires, said all players can learn from his mistakes — not just younger ones.

“I use myself as an example to my son who is in college, playing baseball: ‘Look what daddy went through because daddy didn’t do things right,’ ” Ramirez said. “When you do things right, you don’t have to look back. You always look forward.

“Sometimes, we get caught up in the moment. We start hanging out with the wrong people. But you know, everything in life happens for a reason, so you can appreciate what you are.

“Now I appreciate it more and I’m so hungry to get back, just to get that feeling that I used to have before. I appreciate my family more, my kids, everything that God gave me.”

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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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Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Manny Ramirez released by Rangers 08.14.13 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:
MLB: Red Sox at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Reds at Cubs, 2:10 p.m. (WGN)
MLB: Orioles at Diamondbacks, 3:40 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Pirates at Cardinals, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Softball: Little League World Series championship, 11 p.m. (ESPN2)
Soccer: Exhibition, U.S. vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina, 2:25 p.m. (ESPN2)
Soccer: Exhibition, Mexico vs. Ivory Coast, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
Golf: U.S. Amateur, 3 p.m. (TGC)

AROUND THE WEB:

Manny Ramirez's latest comeback bid has fallen short. (AP)

Manny Ramirez’s latest comeback bid has fallen short. (AP)

• The Rangers released Manny Ramirez from his minor league contract Tuesday, just over five weeks after he joined the team’s Triple-A affiliate in Round Rock, Texas.

“Based on our evaluation, there was not a spot for Manny on the club at this time,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “We released him so he could pursue other opportunities if he so chooses.”

Ramirez, 41, hit .259/.328/.370 with three home runs and 13 RBIs in 30 games, but he was without a homer in his last 22 games. The onetime Red Sox star, whose career was derailed by penalties for performance-enhancing drugs after he left Boston, began the season in Taiwan but returned to the States for another chance at the majors. He has not played in the majors since a stint with the Rays in April 2011 that ended with him retiring rather than serve a 100-game suspension for a second positive drug test.

• Police said Tuesday that the death of Braves fan Ronald Homer Jr. at Monday’s game in Atlanta appears to have been an accident. The 6-foot-6 Homer fell over a 42-inch railing about 85 feet to a parking lot below just as the game was set to begin following a rain delay of almost two hours.

Homer, 30, fell just after ending a phone call with his mother.

“He said, ‘I love you, mom,’ and I said, ‘I love you, too,’ and that was it,” Connie Homer told The Associated Press.

Said his father, Ronald Homer: “This is going to hurt us for the rest of our life. When you lose a kid, not only your kids but your best friend, too, it’s bad.”

The Braves showed a picture of Homer on the scoreboard and held a moment of silence before Tuesday’s game.

ESPN fired “Numbers Never Lie” co-host Hugh Douglas following the network’s investigation into an incident last week when Douglas allegedly threatened fellow host Michael Smith at a nightclub in Orlando. The pair were at a party as part of the National Association of Black Journalists Convention when, according to reports, an inebriated Douglas attempted to climb on stage to join the DJ and became incensed when Smith refused to help, calling him a “house [N-word]” and an “Uncle Tom” and grabbing Smith before others stepped in to separate them.

The 41-year-old Douglas, who played 10 seasons at defensive end in the NFL, joined ESPN in 2011.

Douglas sent out a tweet Tuesday afternoon that read: I am very disappointed to be leaving ESPN and will have more to say about this situation and my future at the appropriate time.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Aug. 14, 1991, which Red Sox reliever recorded his 30th save in a 2-1 win over the Indians, giving him six 30-save seasons in seven years (with three teams)?

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Read More: Hugh Douglas, Manny Ramirez, Michael Smith, Ronald Homer
Monday’s Morning Mashup: Manny Ramirez wins over teammates, fans with Triple-A team 07.22.13 at 8:05 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: Rays at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Yankees at Rangers, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA Summer League: Las Vegas championship, Warriors vs. Suns, 9 p.m. (NBA TV)

AROUND THE WEB:

Manny Ramirez is happy to be done with his time in Taiwan, where he had to wash his own uniform. (AP)

Manny Ramirez is happy to be done with his time in Taiwan, where he had to wash his own uniform. (AP)

Manny Ramirez is hitting just .227 with three home runs in 12 games since joining the Triple-A Round Rock (Texas) Express, but the 41-year-old former Red Sox slugger is winning over teammates and fans during his stint with the Rangers’ minor league affiliate.

“The first day he came in here and said anything we want to do, just tell him,” Round Rock manager Bobby Jones told The New York Times. “I guess he had some things Texas talked to him about: his hair, his uniform was loose-fitting, it had to be right. So he comes in: ‘Does my uniform look O.K.?’ I said it looks fine to me. ‘How about my hair?’ I said it looks fine to me.

“He comes in a couple days later and I guess he had the dreadlocks out. Nolan was sitting here and he comes walking by and he asks Nolan, ‘Do you like my hair?’ And Nolan says, ‘No, I don’t like it at all.’ So the next day he comes in and his head was shaved.”

Added pitcher Jake Brigham: “He’s an incredible person. From the minute he walked in here, he was accessible. He was coming up and putting his arm around you, and he didn’t even know your name. Every day, he’s high-fiving you, excited to be here, excited to get to work.”

Ramirez, twice suspended for violating MLB’s performance-enhancing drug policy, started the season in Taiwan, hitting .352 with eight home runs before heading back to the States for another shot at the majors — and a more comfortable life.

“He was saying they had to wash their own uniforms,” Jones said of Ramirez’s three months with the EDA Rhinos of the Chinese Professional Baseball League. “It was miserable. At least here, he doesn’t have to wash his own uniform.”

Mark Sanchez has expressed confidence that he will be the starting quarterback for the Jets when they open the season against the Buccaneers, but rookie Geno Smith isn’t giving in.

“I feel like I have a great shot,” Smith told the Charleston (W. Va.) Gazette. “I did a pretty good job overall of just adapting to the [Jets'] system and playbook and felt very comfortable with it by the end of OTAs and mandatory [minicamp].”

Smith said he thinks his steady improvement since leaving West Virginia gives him a chance to unseat Sanchez, who struggled with inconsistency and turnovers and was benched last season.

“I have a goal in mind and I’m really going to go after that,” said Smith, who fell to the second round in April’s draft. “I want to be the best. It’s going to take time and effort, and that’s what I’m willing to put in. Once I step on the field, it’s about business. I’m really appreciative to have made it to this level, but there’s a lot more for me out there, and I’m going to try and strive for it.”

♦ The hits keep coming for the University of Florida football team. The program has been painted in a negative light since the arrest of Aaron Hernandez and the revelation that he was involved in an incident that ended with two men being shot while Hernandez was a Florida freshman. On Sunday morning, Gators linebacker Antonio Morrison was arrested for the second time in five weeks and was suspended by the team for at least the first two games of the season.

Morrison, who was arrested June 16 for allegedly punching a bouncer, was out walking with friends early Sunday morning when they came upon a police car and Morrison barked at the K-9 dog inside (Morrison claims the dog barked at him first and he was merely responding). Police said Morrison then resisted attempts to handcuff him.

“I’m extremely disappointed in Antonio Morrison’s decision-making,” Florida coach Will Muschamp said in a statement.

Morrison, a sophomore from Bolingbrook, Ill., was released on his own recognizance.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On July 22, 2004, which minor league call-up became the only left-hander to start a game for the Red Sox all season?

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Read More: Antonio Morrison, Geno Smith, Manny Ramirez, Mark Sanchez
LEEInks List: Top 10 Red Sox All-Star moments since 2000 07.16.13 at 9:46 am ET
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Baseball’s biggest names and top talent — including David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Clay Buchholz — are descending upon The Big Apple in preparation for the 84th annual MLB All-Star Game at Citi Field. As your own prep for the exhibition that counts, take a walk down memory lane with a look at the top 10 Red Sox All-Star moments since 2000.

David Ortiz won the Home Run Derby in 2010. (AP)

David Ortiz won the Home Run Derby in 2010. (AP)

10. 2002: Johnny Damon voted in as 30th man

In his first season as a Red Sox, Damon was elected as the “The All-Star 30th man,” the inaugural version of what has become the “Final Vote,” for his first of two All-Star appearances. Damon, who joined Manny Ramirez to land two-thirds of the Sox outfield in the Midsummer Classic, started a four-run, seventh-inning rally when he singled and stole second before scoring.

9. 2007: Hideki Okajima gets in on Final Vote

The Red Sox brought in two Japanese pitchers prior to the 2007 season, but only one of them was an All-Star. Okajima, a left-handed reliever known in part for his unorthodox delivery that featured him looking away from home plate, beat out Roy Halladay and three other pitchers in that year’s Final Vote to join fellow Sox hurlers Josh Beckett and Jonathan Papelbon.

8. 2006: With all-Red Sox/Yankees infield, AL wins again

With Yankees Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter starting on the left side of the infield, Ortiz was voted the AL’s first baseman (the game was played under NL rules at PNC Park in Pittsburgh) and Mark Loretta, in his only season as a Red Sox, played second. Jeter, Ortiz and Rodriguez were 2-3-4 in the batting order, but the foursome went hitless.

In the fifth, Loretta gave way to the Rangers’ Michael Young, whose two-run triple in the top of the ninth was enough to earn him MVP honors and give the AL a 3-2 win.

7. 2005: Four Red Sox voted in as starters

A year after winning the World Series, four Red Sox — Jason Varitek, Manny Ramirez, Ortiz and Damon — were selected by fans to be starters for the AL squad managed by Terry Francona. (Right-hander Matt Clement also made the team after a 10-win first half.)

The Red Sox crew went a combined 4-for-8 with two runs scored, an RBI and a walk. Ortiz drove in Damon with a line-drive single to right in the third as the AL won, again, 7-5.

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Monday’s Morning Mashup: Manny Ramirez singles in first at-bat in minors 07.08.13 at 7:53 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: Red Sox at Mariners, 10:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Nationals at Phillies, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA Summer League: Thunder vs. Magic, 11 a.m. (NBA)
NBA Summer League: 76ers vs. Pacers, 1 p.m. (NBA)
NBA Summer League: Celtics vs. Pistons, 3 p.m. (NBA)
NBA Summer League: Nets vs. Heat, 5 p.m. (NBA)

AROUND THE WEB:

Ramirez_Manny-Rays head 11

Manny Ramirez

Manny Ramirez singled on the first pitch he saw and went 1-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout in his debut for the Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate in Round Rock, Texas, on Sunday night.

The 41-year-old Ramirez, who is trying to return to the majors after retiring on controversial terms early in the 2011 season, batted cleanup as the Express’ designated hitter in a 4-0 victory over Omaha.

“I am just happy, my wife is happy,” Ramirez told reporters after being welcomed by 8,910 fans who chanted his name. “I am working very hard and we’ll see where it goes. But it is a fun ride.”

The former Red Sox star expressed confidence he get get back to the majors and finish on his terms, rather than with the threat of a suspension from Major League Baseball for performance-enhancing drugs being the reason he stopped playing.

“We all do a lot of things when we are young, but if you can make it through the fire, you are changed, made better and ready for anything else,” he said.

♦ Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent, whose bail was revoked June 27 after two failed drug tests, was released from jail on Sunday pending his trial for intoxication manslaughter.

Brent allegedly was driving his truck on Dec. 8 when it crashed, killing teammate Jerry Brown. Authorities said Brent’s blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.

Brent, who remains on the Cowboys roster, tested positive for marijuana and May and again in June.

♦ Giants linebacker Don Connor became the latest NFL player to be arrested this offseason, as he was taken into custody at Philadelphia International Airport on Saturday after a switchblade was found in his luggage.

Connor, 27, was charged with possession of an offensive weapon and released on his own recognizance.

A team spokesman said Connor is “cooperating with the authorities in Philadelphia.”

Connor, who played last season with the Cowboys before signing with the Giants in March, is the 30th active NFL player to be arrested since the Super Bowl. Four free agents also have been arrested.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On July 8, 1994, which Red Sox infielder turned an unassisted triple play in the top of the sixth — and then homered to lead off the bottom of the inning — during a 4-3 victory over the Mariners?

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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Manny Ramirez agrees to minor league deal with Rangers 07.04.13 at 8:23 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: Padres at Red Sox, 1:35 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Brewers at Nationals, 11 a.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Cubs at Athletics, 4 p.m. (WGN)
MLB: Mariners at Rangers, 8 p.m. (MLB Network)
Canadian Football League: Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Montreal Alouettes, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Tennis: Wimbledon, 8 a.m. (ESPN)
Cycling: Tour de France, 8 a.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

Manny Ramirez is trying to get back to the majors after last appearing in a game for the Rays early in 2011. (AP)

Manny Ramirez is trying to get back to the majors after last appearing in a game for the Rays early in 2011. (AP)

Manny Ramirez is getting another shot at the majors, and he even agreed to cut off his dreadlocks for the opportunity.

Ramirez, the former Red Sox star who was twice suspended for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, agreed to a minor league deal with the Rangers. He’s slated to report to Triple-A Round Rock on Thursday to start working out, and he’ll serve as designated hitter when he is activated. He agreed to “comply with our minor league rules on appearance and discipline,” said Rangers general manager Jon Daniels.

“[My salary] is the minimum wage, but for me it’s too much money,” Ramirez told ESPNDeportes.com, adding: “I feel blessed spiritually; I have no words to describe how happy I am.”

The 41-year-old has not played in the majors since early in the 2011 season with the Rays. He recently returned from Taiwan, where he hit .352 with eight home runs and 43 RBIs for the EDA Rhinos of the Chinese Professional Baseball League.

“It’s kind of a no-risk flier,”Daniels said. “We like giving guys second chances. We know on and off the field the good and bad in Manny’s career. But we’re inclined to give him an opportunity here.”

Added Daniels: “We’re really just kind of going off the resume here a little bit. If he’s productive and we feel he fits our culture here in the clubhouse, we’ll give him an opportunity. If either of those ends don’t pan out, then kind of no harm, no foul.”

Ramirez was traded from the Red Sox in 2008, when Dave Magadan was in his second year as Red Sox hitting coach. Magadan, now the Rangers hitting coach, filled in his new team about Ramirez’s questionable behavior at Fenway.

“There were some bridges that were burned in Boston,” Magadan said. “It was unfortunate the way it ended up there because he did a lot of good things while he was there. But in the end it wasn’t pretty.”

Alex Rodriguez grounded out twice in his second rehab start for the Class-A Charleston (S.C.) RiverDogs, leaving him without a hit in two games.

“I don’t mind if I save all my hits for New York,” joked Rodriguez, who is recovering from January hip surgery.

Rodriguez, who is scheduled to play for the Yankees’ minor league team in Tampa on Friday, started a double play in the field, one day after coming up short on two bunts to him at third base.

“It wasn’t too bad,” he said. “That’s the first time in eight months I’ve gone out there back to back.”

The RiverDogs, who lost to the Rome (Ga.) Braves in 10 innings, 8-5, had a crowd of 7,667 after drawing 8,255 for A-Rod’s first game back on Tuesday. Rodriguez signed autographs for fans after leaving Wednesday’s game. He also posed for pictures with singer Darius Rucker, best known as the lead singer for Hootie and the Blowfish.

“I love this place,” Rodriguez said.

The feeling isn’t completely mutual. Here’s the reaction when A-Rod was introduced Tuesday.

♦ Bulls guard Derrick Rose, who came under some criticism when he sat out the postseason after receiving medical clearance, admitted he was “selfish,” but he insisted he made “the right decision.”

“I’m not a selfish guy at all, but having this injury and going through what I had to go through and being smart, it’s something that I had to be selfish with,” he said in a story on the team’s website. “I couldn’t worry about anyone else but myself and my health.”

Rose called sitting out “one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through in my life.” He said fans eventually will understand why he chose that route, once he returns to action.

“I think me going on the court and showing them and letting them know it was the right decision,” he said.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On July 4, 1983, Yankees left-hander Dave Righetti no-hit the Red Sox, allowing just two walks. Which Sox player struck out to end the game?

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Manny Ramirez leaves Taiwanese team, rumored to be heading to Japan 06.19.13 at 12:05 pm ET
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Manny Ramirez has parted ways with the EDA Rhinos of the Chinese Professional Baseball League, the team confirmed Wednesday.

There has been speculation that Ramirez might be preparing to join a team in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball. A report from Japan earlier this week indicated the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League had expressed interest in the former Red Sox star.

The Rhinos only noted in a press release announcing his departure that Ramirez was getting homesick.

In 49 games (182 at-bats) in the CPBL, the 41-year-old Ramirez hit .352/.422/.555 with eight home runs and 43 RBIs.

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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: LeBron James upset about hard fouls after Heat’s streak ends vs. Bulls 03.28.13 at 7:57 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:
College basketball: NCAA tournament, Marquette vs. Miami, 7:15 p.m. (CBS)
College basketball: NCAA tournament, Arizona vs. Ohio State, 7:47 p.m. (TBS)
College basketball: NCAA tournament, Syracuse vs. Indiana, 9:45 p.m. (CBS)
College basketball: NCAA tournament, La Salle vs. Wichita State, 10:17 p.m. (TBS)
NHL: Kings at Blues, 8 p.m. (NHL Network)
MLB preseason: Twins at Red Sox, 7 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB preseason: Mets at Nationals, 1 p.m. (ESPN)

AROUND THE WEB:

♦ The Heat’s 27-game winning streak, second-longest in NBA history, ended in Chicago on Wednesday night, and LeBron James is not happy with the physical treatment he received from the Bulls.

In the first quarter, Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich, defending one-on-one against James on a fast break, appeared to try to draw a charge, but he put both arms around James as they fell to the floor. (Hinrich actually looked to get the worst of the play, as the back of his head bounced off the court.)

In the fourth quarter, Taj Gibson stopped a layup by bringing his arm across James’ neck and shoulder. (Gibson then offered to help James off the floor.)

“Let me calculate my thoughts real fast before I say [what I want to say],” James said postgame. “I believe and I know that a lot of my fouls are not basketball plays. First of all, Kirk Hinrich in the first quarter basically grabbed me with two hands and brought me to the ground. The last one, Taj Gibson was able to collar me around my shoulder and bring me to the ground. Those are not defensive … those are not basketball plays.”

James, who finished with 32 points, seven rebounds and four blocks in his team’s 101-97 loss, took out his frustration with 3:52 left when he drove his shoulder into the chest of a screen-setting Carlos Boozer and followed through with his elbow, earning a flagrant foul.

James admitted afterward that the hard fouls have started to bother him.

“It’s been happening all year, and I’ve been able to keep my cool and try to tell [Erik Spoelstra], ‘Let’s not worry about it too much.’ But it is getting to me a little bit because every time I try to defend myself, I got to face the consequences of a flagrant for me or a technical foul, whatever the case may be,” James said. “It’s tough. It’s tough. It’s very tough, and I’m not sitting here crying about anything because I play the game at a high level. I play with a lot of aggression, and I understand that some of the plays are on the borderline of a basketball play or not, but sometimes you just got to … I don’t know. It’s frustrating.”

♦ Former Red Sox star Manny Ramirez made his debut in Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League on Wednesday, going 2-for 6 in the EDA Rhinos’ 9-8 loss to the visiting Brother Elephants in 12 innings.

Ramirez, batting fourth, flew out to left off American Mike Ballard in the first inning. In the second inning, facing rookie right-hander Wu Ming-hsu, he singled to left field (video below) as part of his team’s five-run rally. Ramirez singled to right off Wu in the fourth.

Ramirez had a chance to be the hero twice, but in the eighth he stranded two runners with the game tied at 8, and in the 11th he couldn’t get the ball out of the infield.

The game reportedly was played in front of a capacity crowd of 20,000 fans.

Real Clear Sports has a list of the top 10 buzzer-beaters in NCAA tournament history. No. 1 is NC State’s Lorenzo Charles beating Houston in the 1983 championship game. No. 2 is Christian Laettner‘s jumper that gave Duke a win over Kentucky in the 1992 Elite Eight.

UConn makes two appearances on the list. No. 6 is Tate George‘s jumper that beat Clemson in 1990, and No. 8 is Richard Hamilton‘s fadeaway that beat Washington in 1998.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On March 28, 1986, the Red Sox made a trade with the Yankees to acquire designated hitter Don Baylor, who helped the Red Sox win the 1986 American League pennant. Which player did the Sox trade to New York?

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Monday’s Morning Mashup: Dwight Howard apologizes to Magic fans 03.11.13 at 8:02 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:
NHL: Bruins at Senators, 7:30 p.m. (NESN)
NBA: Thunder at Spurs, 8:30 p.m. (NBATV)
College basketball: CAA final, Northeastern vs. James Madison, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Sun Belt final, Florida International vs. Western Kentucky, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Southern final, Davidson vs. Charleston, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: MAAC final, Manhattan vs. Iona, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: WCC final, Gonzaga vs. Saint Mary’s, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
World Baseball Classic: Cuba vs. Nethlerlands, 6 a.m. (MLB Network)
MLB preseason: Cardinals at Yankees, 1 p.m. (ESPN)
MLB preseason: Athletics at Padres, 4 p.m. (MLB Network)

AROUND THE WEB:

Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard, who finally has started to play up to his ability with the resurgent Lakers, offered an apology to Magic fans for his behavior with his former team.

“In Orlando, I handled a lot of stuff the wrong way,” Howard told USA Today. ”If any of those people in Orlando are upset with how I did it, I apologize for the way I handled it and the way it was handled in the media.

“I really just got caught up in wanting to please everybody else. I really love that city. That was the hardest thing to do was to leave that city because I basically grew up there. That was my whole life. Orlando was it. I did not want to leave all that behind — the city, just everything about it. The fans. But I wanted a change for my life. I just felt like there was something else out there for me.”

Howard, averaging 16.2 points, 12.1 rebounds and 2.4 blocks this season, has helped the Lakers move into the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference following Sunday’s 90-81 victory over the Bulls in which he grabbed 21 rebounds and blocked four shots to go along with 16 points on 8-of-14 shooting

Howard said his recent experience has helped him grow up.

“I’m becoming a better man because of the stuff that has happened to me this last year and a half,” he said. “Everybody goes through stuff like this. Even though I’m going through it where everybody in the world can see it, I’m happy that it’s happening.

“If it didn’t happen, I’d be stuck in my ways. I would never change, and then it would be a lot worse. For all this stuff to happen, for me to sit back and see and evaluate myself and what I could’ve done better and realize that I needed to make a change, I’m getting better. I’m growing up. I’m maturing.”

♦ The latest Darrelle Revis rumor (via ESPN) has Revis’ camp pushing for a quick resolution to the situation, concerned that his value will be diminished after teams sign the free agent cornerbacks on the market. Revis is owed a $1 million bonus if he’s on the roster Saturday, so that might play a role in the team’s eagerness to move him.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the Eagles are believed to be preparing an offer for Revis, with Philadelphia’s second-round pick (35th overall) a likely starting point.

Manny Ramirez was spotted in an airport Sunday, headed to Taiwan to begin his stint with the EDA Rhinos of the China Professional League. Ramirez’ agent confirmed the slugger’s intentions to continue his careers, which has twice been derailed by suspensions for violations of MLB’s policy against performance-enhancing drugs.

Ramirez, a 12-time All-Star and the MVP of the 2004 World Series for the Red Sox, last played for an Athletics minor league team in the spring of 2012.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On March 11, 1976, which Bruins winger scored the 300th goal of his career with a hat trick in a 6-2 victory over the Maple Leafs?

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