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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Boston Marathon bans bags, unofficial runners 02.27.14 at 8:04 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:
NBA: Knicks at Heat, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Nets at Nuggets, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
College basketball: Arkansas at Kentucky, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Ohio State at Penn State, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: VCU at Fordham, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Duquesne at Saint Louis, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Green Bay at Oakland, 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Temple at Louisville, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Iowa at Indiana, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Memphis at Houston, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Oregon at UCLA, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Georgetown at Marquette, 9 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Gonzaga at Pacific, 10 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Oregon State at USC, 11 p.m. (FS1)
NHL: Blackhawks at Rangers, 7 p.m. (NHL Network)
NHL: Red Wings at Senators, 7:30 p.m. (NHL Network)
MLB preseason: Red Sox vs. Northeastern/Boston College, 1 p.m. (WEEI-AM)
Soccer: UEFA Europa, Napoli at Swansea, 1 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: UEFA Europa, Dnipropetrovsk at Tottenham, 3 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

The men's lead pack races through Wellesley during Monday's 117th running of the Boston Marathon. (AP)

Following last year’s bombing at the finish line, runners will have more restrictions at the 2014 Boston Marathon. (AP)

– Boston Marathon organizers announced Wednesday that runners will not be allowed to have bags, backpacks, handbags or similar items anywhere close to the course this year, following the bombings at the finish line a year ago that killed three and injured hundreds. Runners also will not be allowed to wear costumes that cover the face or have bulky clothing that extends “beyond the perimeter of the body.”

“For the 2014 Boston Marathon, with an increased field size and for everyone’s safety, we will work with public safety officials to ensure that we preserve that exceptional race day experience that makes the Boston Marathon an icon in the world of sport while making race day safe and enjoyable for all,” the BAA said in a statement on its website.

Unregistered runners (often called “bandits”), who often jump into the race at the start or along the course, will be banned as well.

“For the safety of our participants, spectators and partners, public safety officials and the BAA strictly prohibit unofficial participation, and those in violation will be subject to interdiction,” the BAA said. “Those who are not officially registered in the Boston Marathon will not be allowed to participate. We ask official participants to discourage family and friends who are not officially registered participants from entering the course in any manner.

“We are aware that many people want to participate in some way in this year’s Boston Marathon as a display of support. But we ask that those who are not official participants to refrain from entering the course for the safety of the runners and themselves.”

The 188th Boston Marathon will be held April 21.

– Lakers forward Pau Gasol expressed his concern about his team’s offense following Tuesday’s 118-98 loss to the Pacers, and it didn’t sit well with coach Mike D’Antoni.

It isn’t that D’Antoni disagreed with Gasol’s assertion that there were “too many individual actions,” but he didn’t care for Gasol sharing his opinion with the media.

“I think it’€™s a product of people getting frustrated and losing and everybody on one-year contracts. The thing I just don’€™t appreciate, and I think every coach [too], you just keep it in house,” D’Antoni said Wednesday, via the Los Angeles Times. “It’€™s very easy just to come over and talk about your frustrations. We’€™ll try to work something out. But to go to you [media] guys and to do it in the papers, that’€™s disturbing. I just don’€™t think that’€™s the way to go. People should understand that we’€™re all trying to solve the same problems.”

Gasol also suggested that D’Antoni needed to demonstrate more discipline with the players, something D’Antoni questioned.

“I have no idea what he’s talking about,” D’Antoni said. “We should have had more ball movement [Tuesday] but I don’t know what that has to do with discipline. That has to do with guys trying too hard, guys not really understanding the system totally and not getting ingrained into it.

“I think in that aspect I can understand what he’s talking about, but I don’t know why he used that word.”

D’Antoni also noted that Gasol’s attention would be better placed on the other end of the court.

“The frustration always comes out on the offensive end where we’re OK. It never comes out on the defensive end where we don’t stop anybody,” D’Antoni said. “That’s where I get frustrated, because if you’re going to get upset about something, let’s get upset about points in the paint, second-chance points, not getting back on defense. Then we’re making progress.”

– Knicks point guard Raymond Felton returned to the team Wednesday, a day after appearing in court to face weapons charges following an incident with his wife.

“I want to start off by saying thank you to my teammates, thank you to the fans, to my family, to my friends, everybody for their support in this situation,” Felton told reporters. “This is not a distraction to this team. I’€™m focusing on finishing out this season, finishing out these games with my teammates, and going down to Miami, focusing on this next game at task vs. the defending champs.

“As far as speaking on what’€™s going on off the court with me, there will be no comment speaking on that. If you’€™ve got any questions, anything dealing with that, speak with my lawyer. Other than that, I’€™m here to concentrate on this team, finish this season out with the New York Knicks. And see what happens, man. Trying to make it to the playoffs. We’€™re 5 1/2 games out, 25 games left, so I’€™m really focusing on that with these guys, with the team, and trying to make that happen.”

Knicks coach Mike Woodson said Felton will play in Thursday night’s game against the Heat.

“The bottom line is Ray is a part of our team, and as his coach I’m going to support him and make sure he’s doing everything the right way from here on out, and to try to get him to just concentrate on basketball and practice and playing games,” Woodson said.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Feb. 27, 1983, which Bruin recorded two goals and an assist in a 4-3 victory over the Whalers in Hartford and in the process became the sixth player to score 250 goals in a Bruins uniform?

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Monday’s Morning Mashup: Phil Kessel in middle of Maple Leafs-Sabres brawl 09.23.13 at 8:14 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:
NFL: Raiders at Broncos, 8:25 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL preseason: Capitals at Bruins, 7 p.m. (NESN, NHL Network)
NHL preseason: Coyotes at Canucks, 10 p.m. (NHL Network)
WNBA playoffs: Phoenix at Los Angeles. 10 p.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

• Someone forgot to the tell the Maple Leafs and Sabres that the regular season has not yet started. The teams engaged in an all-out brawl Sunday, and the man in the middle of it all was Phil Kessel.

Sabres behemoth John Scott attempted to engage Kessel to avenge a mismatch moments earlier, but the Leafs forward would have none of it, instead whacking Scott in the leg with his stick twice — including once from behind while Scott was locked up with another Toronto player. Kessel later poked Scott with his stick while the 6-foot-8 defenseman was being restrained.

Kessel received a match penalty for swinging his stick — and awaits further punishment from the league — but the former Bruin was quick to place the blame on Buffalo afterward.

“It was pretty stupid, right? He said he was going to jump me,” said Kessel, who is eight inches shorter than Scott. “What are you going to do? He’s a big boy, so if he’s coming after me, what are you going to do?”

The Sabres were unhappy that moments before, Toronto’s Jamie Devan, who stands 6-foot-5, fought Buffalo 6-footer Corey Tropp, who let the ice bleeding — although the Leafs contended that Tropp instigated that fight.

“That guy’s a big guy, 6-foot-5,” Sabres coach Ron Rolston said of Devan. “And [Tropp's] a smaller guy, but certainly a battler. So guys weren’t happy about it.”

The brawl was capped by a goalie fight between Toronto’s Jonathan Bernier and Buffalo’s Ryan Miller.

“I just asked him if he wanted to go, and obviously I don’t think he seemed that he actually wanted to go, but that’s the way it goes,” Bernier said. “It’s a hockey game, but you get hyper in energy and I wanted to defend my teammates.”

• A couple of NFC powerhouses apparently are having some in-house issues after facing adversity early in the season.

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and coach Mike McCarthy argued on the sideline during Sunday’s 34-30 loss to the Bengals, and the QB acknowledged after the game the discussion was about play-calling.

“We’re both passionate about the game and competitive,” Rodgers said. “We want to win very badly and, you know, I went over and talked to him after that. Just got on the same page. Needed to talk; we did, and we moved on.”

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, where the top story was the leave of absence for All-Pro linebacker Aldon Smith — who was arrested Friday morning for suspicion of DUI and marijuana possession but played Sunday — running back Frank Gore reportedly had some choice words for coach Jim Harbaugh during a 27-7 loss to the visiting Colts that left the Niners at 1-2 — the first time the 49ers have been under .500 during Harbaugh’s tenure.

Gore had 11 rushes for 82 yards along with two catches for 21 yards, leading to questions as to why he only touched the ball 13 times. He offered no answers after the game, saying: “I’ve got to watch the film.”

The Niners have been outscored 56-10 in their last two games.

“We felt flat,” cornerback Tarell Brown said. “We felt flat and looked flat.”

Jeannie Buss, daughter of the late Lakers owner Jerry Buss, wrote in her updated memoir, “Laker Girl,” that she was “stunned” when her brother, Jim Buss, decided to hire Mike D’Antoni as coach after reaching out to Jeannie’s fiancé, Phil Jackson.

Although she claims she wants her brother “to realize that I’m not the enemy,” Jeannie takes him to task for getting Jackson excited about returning to the organization only to let him down.

Wrote Buss: The sequence of events — Phil almost coming back and then being told someone else was better for the job — practically destroyed me. It almost took away my passion for this job and this game. It felt like I had been stabbed in the back. It was a betrayal. I was devastated.

I felt that I got played. Why did they have to do that? Why did Jim pull Phil back into the mix if he wasn’t sincere about it?

Phil wasn’t looking for the job, and then he wasted 36 hours of his life preparing for it when they were never in a million years going to hire him anyway.

How do you do that to your sister? How do you do that to Phil Jackson?

I hope the flirtation with Phil wasn’t just a PR stunt. I still can’t get my head around the whole story.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Sept. 23, 1969, Dick Williams was dismissed as Red Sox manager. Who replaced him for the remainder of the season?

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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Newtown children to sing at Super Bowl 01.31.13 at 7:59 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:
NHL: Sabres at Bruins, 7 p.m. (NESN)
NHL: Penguins at Rangers, 7 p.m. (NHL Network)
NBA: Grizzlies at Thunder, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Mavericks at Warriors, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
College basketball: UConn at Providence, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Illinois at Michigan State, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Drexel at George Mason, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Penn State at Iowa, 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Arizona at Washington, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Arkansas at Alabama, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Oregon State at California, 10 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Gonzaga at Loyola Marymount, 11 p.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

♦ Almost two months after 26 students and faculty at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., were gunned down, a group of 26 students from the school will sing “America the Beautiful” as part of Sunday’s Super Bowl pregame show. The performance will be broadcast live on CBS shortly before Alicia Keys sings the national anthem.

The News Times in Connecticut reports that an anonymous donor provided the money for the trip. “It’s an honor,” an unidentified local parent said.

Choir members from the school recorded “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” with Grammy-nominated singer Ingrid Michaelson earlier this month.

♦ The Lakers had won three straight games before losing to the Suns on Wednesday night, but coach Mike D’Antoni still found himself dealing with controversy. The latest issue surrounded center Pau Gasol, who was upset about being benched in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s victory over the Hornets.

Said Gasol: “I’m a competitor, I’m a guy that thinks I bring a lot to the table, and not being on the floor is something that I don’t like, I don’t appreciate.”

Considering the players talked about a renewed focus on team success over individual issues earlier this week following a recent team meeting, D’Antoni was especially disappointed.

“Well, you know, ‘all for one’ didn’t last [very] long, did it?” D’Antoni said. “Forty-eight hour shelf life. That’s not bad. We’ll take what we can get.”

♦ Former Penn State football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky‘s bid for a new trial was denied Wednesday, as a judge rejected his argument that his lawyers did not have enough time to prepare for his trial last year that resulted in his conviction on child sexual abuse charges.

“I do not think it can be said that either of the defendant’s trial counsel failed to test the prosecution’s case in a meaningful manner,” Judge John Cleland wrote in his 27-page order. “The defendant’s attorneys subjected the commonwealth’s witnesses to meaningful and effective cross-examination, presented evidence for the defense and presented both a comprehensive opening statement and a clearly developed closing argument.”

Sandusky is serving 30-60 years in state prison for the sexual abuse of 10 boys.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Jan. 31, 1971, in a 6-0 rout of the Blues, Bobby Orr scored twice to become the second defenseman in Bruins history with 100 career goals. Who was the first?

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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni acknowledges, ‘We’re in trouble’ 01.24.13 at 7:54 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:
NBA: Knicks at Celtics, 8 p.m. (TNT; WEEI-FM)
NBA: Clippers at Suns, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
College basketball: Purdue at Michigan, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: VCU at Richmond, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Tennessee at Ole Miss, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Murray State at Tennessee Tech, 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Wyoming at UNLV, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: UCLA at Arizona, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Stanford at Colorado, 10 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: BYU at Gonzaga, 11 p.m. (ESPN2)
NHL: Rangers at Flyers, 7 p.m. (NHL Network)

AROUND THE WEB:

Mike D'Antoni's Lakers have lost 10 of their last 12 games. (AP)

♦ The Lakers held a team meeting Wednesday, then went out and lost for the 10th time in 12 games, a 106-93 setback vs. the Grizzlies in Memphis.

“You never want those kind of meetings because we’re in trouble a little bit,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “Things needed to be said and needed to happen. Now it’s up to us to make something positive out of it.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, during the meeting Kobe Bryant admitted to his teammates that he can be difficult to play with, and he asked Dwight Howard if had an issue with him. Howard apparently was hesitant to speak up.

“He didn’t go back at Kobe,” a source told the paper.

After the loss, D’Antoni said it’s not an issue of lack of effort by his players.

“I do think they play as hard as they can play, and that’s what’s scary,” D’Antoni said. “I mean I don’t know how we can play harder or blame something else. We just didn’t play well.”

Said forward Earl Clark: “It’s just the same thing over again. We broke down defensively. They went on a run, and we continue to just go downhill.”

♦ Former Cubs star Sammy Sosa, who received 12.5 percent of the votes for the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility this year, said he thinks he and fellow steroid-era home run legend Mark McGwire deserve enshrinement.

“I think so,” Sosa said in an interview on the website Ustream.com.

“I’m not going to come here an say anything that is going to jeopardize my future,” he added. “But definitely time will determine everything. Right now whatever it is, it is. I am not [somebody who] is going to go out there and say anything I don’t want to say. I’m waiting for my time. … I don’t like controversy. Definitely time will determine everything.”

Sosa, who finished his career with 609 home runs but reportedly tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003, also sounded open to re-establishing a relationship with the Cubs, after leaving on bad terms after the 2004 season. Cubs president Tom Rickets said last weekend that the team might reach out to Sosa.

“They know where I am,” Sosa said. “If they want to find me, they have to call me. I’m always available.”

♦ Tennis player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a 27-year-old Frenchman, appeared before the media at the Australian Open press conference and stuck his foot in his mouth when asked about the inconsistency of the top women’s players.

“You know, the girls, they are more unstable emotionally than us,” he said. “I’m sure everybody will say it’s true, even the girls [laughter]. No? No, you don’t think?

“But I mean, it’s just about hormones and all this stuff. We don’t’ have all these bad things, so we are physically in a good shape every time, and you are not. That’s it.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Jan. 24, 1971, which Bruin was honored in a pregame ceremony before the B’s beat the Canadiens, 4-2, to extend their home winning streak to 15?

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Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak stands by coach Mike D’Antoni 01.23.13 at 9:49 am ET
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Mike D'Antoni hasn't been able to turn the Lakers' fortunes around. (AP)

With the Lakers 17-24 and in 12th place at the midpoint of the season, Los Angeles general manager Mitch Kupchak voiced his support for coach Mike D’Antoni and said he’s not the Lakers’ problem.

“Without a doubt, we have utmost confidence in Mike [D'Antoni] as a coach,” Kupchak told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Tuesday. “I think if you spoke to him, his vision on Day 1 was dramatically different than it is today. It’s the coach’s job to adjust and to make changes. Sometimes a player is just not going to fit. Sometimes a coach has to make changes and compromise in the way he’s done things and I think that’s what Mike is going through right now is just the process.”

Kupchak said D’Antoni isn’t in danger of meeting the same fate as Mike Brown, the coach the Lakers fired after their 1-4 start to this season. He said the main thing that does concern him is the players’ effort, or lack thereof.

“When the ball is not bouncing your way, when shots aren’t going in, you just can’t seem to get a break, the one thing you can control on the court is your effort and loose balls and running the floor, defending, offensive rebounding,” Kupchak said. “I think back to the Miami game and I have that vision of LeBron [James] diving on that ball at midcourt. That’s effort.”

In D’Antoni’s introductory news conference in November, he said the team should “easily” average 110-115 points per game under his guidance. That’s happened just eight times in his 31 games in Los Angeles. His players, most notably Dwight Howard, have also expressed frustration with D’Antoni’s system and his frequent lineup changes, although Kupchak argued that his willingness to try different combinations of players is a positive.

“Understandably, I think the longer the season goes the more is at stake and the bigger hole you dig, the more dramatic your adjustments or your take on coaching has to become,” Kupchak said. “I think that’s what he’s doing. He’s grabbing every rabbit out of the hat trying to look for something that works.”

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Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Lakers’ struggles ‘baffling,’ ‘extremely frustrating’ to Kobe Bryant 12.12.12 at 7:52 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:
NBA: Mavericks at Celtics, 8 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI-FM)
NBA: Spurs at Jazz, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Savannah State at Ohio State, 7 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Green Bay at Wisconsin, 9 p.m. (Big Ten Network)

AROUND THE WEB:

Mike Brown is just a memory for the Lakers, but the team’s losing ways have continued under new coach Mike D’Antoni. The Lakers are 4-8 under D’Antoni and 9-12 overall following Tuesday night’s 100-94 loss to the lowly Cavaliers in Cleveland.

“This is one of the most challenging stretches of my 17 years, and the most baffling, too,” Kobe Bryant said. “We have the talent and personnel to do it, but we’re not, and it’s baffling. It’s extremely frustrating. It doesn’t make any sense. We’re still finding ways to lose games.”

Said D’Antoni: “The state that we’re in, that’s inexcusable, and we’ve got to figure it out.”

Lakers legend Magic Johnson said D’Antoni’s style doesn’t appear to be a good fit with the current lineup. Pau Gasol, who has missed five straight games with tendinitis in his knees, has been criticized for not adapting, but Johnson said the 7-foot Spaniard shouldn’t have to change.

“You can’t run with these guys,” Johnson said. “There’s one guy who can get up and down the court, and that’s Kobe. You’ve got to take that ball inside. That’s how you win games.”

Ultimately, though, it’s the team’s defense that is getting the most blame.

“We can score points but the defense is breaking down,” Johnson said. “We have to correct our defense. Every night guys have to come with passion and urgency.”

Following Tuesday’s loss, Los Angeles Times columnist T.J. Simers, who takes pleasure in antagonizing coaches at press conferences, got under the skin of D’Antoni by accusing him of not focusing enough on defense. Responded D’Antoni: “You’re starting to piss me off because you’re saying something that’s not factually correct.”

♦ One week after he called Jets management “idiots,” wide receiver Braylon Edwards was claimed by New York off waivers from the Seahawks.

Tweeted Edwards: It feels great to be going home. Thanks to all of jet nation that continuously supported me and pushed for me. I’m back and it’s go time.

Edwards, who played for the Jets in 2009 and 2010 before leaving as a free agent, previously had criticized the team in an attempt to defend quarterback Mark Sanchez, tweeting:

Don’t blame Sanchez. I played there. Blame the idiots calling shots. Mark is a beast and will [prove] it when given a proper chance.

Edwards later tweeted: I would like to apologize to the Jets family and my fans for my emotional outburst. Mark is a friend and former teammate, who I wholeheartedly support. Nonetheless, I have disrespected and insulted an administration that I have the utmost respect for.

♦ Running back Rashard Mendenhall‘s fall from grace in Pittsburgh continued on Tuesday when he was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Mendenhall did not show up for Sunday’s game vs. the Chargers after being told he would not be active.

“What’s happened, happened,” Mendenhall’s agent, Mike McCartney, told the Post-Gazette. “When I spoke to Rashard, I know he is very excited next Monday to rejoin his teammates. He’s going to come back with great energy to do everything he can to help the Pittsburgh Steelers win football games.”

Mendenhall, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards in 2009 and 2010 and was on target again last season before tearing the ACL in his right knee in the regular-season finale, has struggled to regain his form. He returned on Oct. 4 and played well, recording 101 total yards and catching a 13-yard touchdown pass in a 16-14 victory over the Eagles, but he strained his right Achilles four days later against the Titans and lost his starting spot. He was demoted to third-string following a fumble against the Browns on Nov. 25 and has not dressed for the last two games.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Dec. 12, 1975, the Red Sox traded Roger Moret to the Braves for which pitcher, known in part for the fact that he caught Hank Aaron‘s 715th home run ball in the bullpen in 1974?

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Report: New Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni plans to debut Tuesday 11.19.12 at 12:59 pm ET
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After delaying his Lakers coaching debut on Sunday, new coach Mike D’Antoni plans to make his debut on Tuesday night, according to an ESPN report.

D’Antoni is recovering from knee replacement surgery, and a Lakers spokesman said a combination of pain, fatigue and the medication D’Antoni is taking made the coach weary of being on the court Sunday afternoon. Lack of mobility was also a concern, according to the spokesman, as D’Antoni could have to move quickly to avoid a player careening toward the sideline.

“I’m a little disappointed, I wanted to be on the bench,” D’Antoni told reporters before Sunday’s game. “After talking with [Lakers trainer] Gary Vitti … he convinced me a little bit not to do it.”

“The biggest problem I have is just energy kind of waning toward the end [of the game],” D’Antoni added.

Bernie Bickerstaff continued as interim coach. With Sunday night’s 119-108 win over the Rockets, Bickerstaff is 4-1 since taking over for the fired Mike Brown.

The Lakers play the Nets at home on Tuesday before heading to Sacramento to play the Kings on Wednesday.

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After first Lakers practice, Mike D’Antoni says team is ‘built to win this year’ 11.16.12 at 3:00 pm ET
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Four days after formally accepting the Lakers coaching job, Mike D’Antoni was at his first practice for the Lakers on crutches Thursday.

D’Antoni is on crutches and pain medication following surgery earlier this month, but he said he’ll soon be back to normal as he attempts to help the Lakers become an up-tempo, high-scoring team.

“I’m really happy to be here — excited,” D’Antoni said. “[We're] starting to put stuff in now. Might take a little bit, but … we’re built to win this year. This is not a five-year project. We have a window, and we’re going to try to get through it.”

Dan D’Antoni, Mike’s older brother and a new assistant coach on the staff, ran the team through a variety of shooting and pick-and-roll drills during the practice.

D’Antoni has high hopes for the Lakers going forward.

“I told the team if we’re not averaging 110-115 points a game, we need to talk,” D’Antoni said. “That’s our goal. It should be easily done.”

Kobe Bryant has been full of praise for D’Antoni since his hire. Former coach Mike Brown was fired after just five games.

“He has a very calm demeanor about himself,” Bryant said. “He simplifies the game to its purest form. It’s not overcomplicated for him.”

D’Antoni, the former coach of the Nuggets, Suns and Knicks, said he would not coach Friday’s game against the Suns, instead targeting Sunday against the Rockets as his debut.

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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Manny Ramirez homers on first pitch in Dominican debut 11.15.12 at 7:54 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:
NBA: Celtics at Nets, 8 p.m. (TNT; WEEI-FM)
College basketball: Boston College vs. Baylor, 3 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Providence vs. UMass, 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Oklahoma State vs. Akron, 10:30 a.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: UNC-Asheville vs. Tennessee, 12:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: N.C. State vs. Penn State, 5 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: St. John’s at Charleston, 5 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Alabama vs Oregon State, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Villanova vs. Purdue, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
NFL: Dolphins at Bills, 8:20 p.m. (NFL Network)
College football: North Carolina at Virginia, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI-AM)

AROUND THE WEB:

Manny Ramirez still is trying to get back into baseball, and the former Red Sox slugger made his case on Wednesday when he hit a home run on the first pitch he saw from Escogido Lions right-hander Daniel Cabrera in his debut for the Los Aguilas Eagles of the Dominican winter league.

A packed house estimated at 22,000 turned out to see Ramirez return to play in his home country for the first time since the winter of 1994-95, and the fans went wild when Ramirez drilled a fastball over the right-field fence to give his team a 1-0 lead.

“I’m not thinking about the big leagues now,” Ramirez, 40, said upon joining the team. “Right now, I’m thinking of helping the Eagles to win games and then, if any offer, then I’ll think of baseball.”

Magic Johnson spoke out against his old team Wednesday, saying the Lakers’ decision to hire Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson was another error in judgment by executive vice president Jim Buss, son of longtime owner Jerry Buss.

“I love Dr. [Jerry] Buss. I don’t believe in Jim Buss,” Johnson said on ESPN’s “NBA Countdown.” “He’s made two critical mistakes already. To me, they made two critical mistakes. First, hiring Mike Brown — he wasn’t the right coach. He’s a great coach but not the right coach for the Lakers. And I don’t feel Mike D’Antoni is the right coach for the Lakers. Especially when you have Phil Jackson sitting out there, who wanted to be the Laker coach. Jim Buss decided he didn’t want Phil Jackson, he wanted Mike D’Antoni. And that’s OK, but why didn’t you just say that? But the fans were cheering for Phil Jackson two nights in a row.”

Earlier in the day, Johnson ended two days of Twitter silence, writing:

The reason I haven’t tweeted in 2 days is because I’ve been mourning Phil Jackson not being hired as the Lakers head coach. My mother always taught me that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

A day earlier, general manager Mitch Kupchak insisted the decision to go with D’Antoni over Jackson was a unanimous one between he and the Busses, insisting that D’Antoni is a better fit for this roster.

“Without going into great detail, some of our guys I don’t think would be very successful in the triangle [offense],” Kupchak said Tuesday. “Some of our newer players might take a long time to learn the triangle.”

♦ The Texas A&M football team is coming off an upset of No. 1-ranked Alabama on Saturday, but the team’s excitement was tempered when freshman wide receiver Thomas Johnson went missing Monday night. Johnson, who has 30 receptions for 339 yards and a touchdown in 10 games this season, was found safe Thursday morning, with more details expected later in the day.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Nov. 15, 1967, Carl Yastrzemski, winner of the American League’s Triple Crown, was named MVP. However, the vote was not unanimous. Which Twins player received one vote?

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Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Phil Jackson calls Lakers’ handling of coaching change ‘slimy’ 11.13.12 at 7:55 am ET
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Welcome to Tuesday’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.

TUESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Spurs at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
College basketball: Northern Illinois at Valparaiso, 8 a.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Harvard at UMass, 10 a.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Temple at Kent State, noon (ESPN)
College basketball: Detroit at St. John’s, 2 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Butler at Xavier, 4 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Michigan State vs, Kansas, at Atlanta, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Wichita State at Virginia Commonwealth, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Georgia Southern at Charlotte, 9 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Duke vs. Kentucky, at Atlanta, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)

AROUND THE WEB:

Phil Jackson will not be back coaching the Lakers, and he's not happy with the lack of respect the team showed after reaching out to him. (AP)

♦ The Lakers reportedly had an abrupt change of heart when they hired former Suns and Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni to replace Mike Brown, and the news did not sit well with the legendary Phil Jackson, who many thought was headed back to the bench.

Lakers fans were chanting “We want Phil” at home games Friday and Sunday, and it appeared that the team agreed after general manager Mitch Kupchak and team vice president Jim Buss met with Jackson on Saturday. Jackson told The Los Angeles Times that he thought he was going to give the team his decision on Monday, but then he got a phone call late Sunday night, after the Lakers agreed on a three-year, $12 million deal with D’Antoni.

“I wish it would have been a little bit cleaner,” Jackson told the Times. “It would have been much more circumspect and respectful of everybody that’s involved. It seemed slimy to be awoken with this kind of news. It’s just weird.”

Kupchak explained his stance this way in a statement: “After speaking with several excellent and well-respected coaching candidates, Dr. [Jerry] Buss, Jim and I all agreed that Mike was the right person at this time to lead the Lakers forward.”

♦ Some Jets continue to tell the media that they’re confident they can rebound from their 3-6 start and make the playoffs, but behind closed doors the pressure is getting to them.

According to an ESPN report that cited several players, coach Rex Ryan got so emotional during Sunday’s postgame talk to the team that he cried and frustratedly asked the team, “When are you guys going to believe?”

Ryan’s eyes were red and glassy when he met the media minutes later, calling the 28-7 defeat to the Seahawks “a brutal loss.”

Said veteran linebacker Bryan Thomas: “We’re all emotional. If this doesn’t affect everybody, you don’t have a [expletive] heart.”

Added Thomas: “We’re all pissed. We can’t let games slip away. We don’t have much time left. We have only seven damn games to go. Time is slipping.”

Ryan continues to insist he will stick with beleaguered quarterback Mark Sanchez, with Tim Tebow getting spot duty as he did in Seattle. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who coached Sanchez at USC, indicated he’s not sure it’s the best situation.

“It’s just a distraction,” Carroll told Seattle’s ESPN Radio station Monday. “It’s mixed signals that go out. Their fans are torn up. If they didn’t have a situation like this, they wouldn’t be hooting and hollering probably the way they do at [Sanchez], so it wouldn’t be as difficult. That’s just part of it. I do feel for Mark and anybody that would be in that situation.”

♦ Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher took some heat from Chicago fans for congratulating Texans safety Danieal Manning (a former Bear) after Manning intercepted Jay Cutler in Sunday night’s Houston victory. On Monday, Urlacher made it clear he has no plans to change his ways.

“That was a nice play. I could give a crap about what people think on the street. Get mad at me all you want, I could give … I could give a crap about what people say,” Urlacher said on Chicago’s The Waddle & Silvy Show on ESPN 1000. “Danieal Manning is a friend of mine, he was a teammate for five or six years, and that’s the way it is. He made a catch and was running toward the sideline to say something to coach [Lovie Smith], so I walked out there. The guy had a good game, he caused a fumble, had a pick. He’s my friend. I wish he wouldn’t have caught it, but he did, so nice play to you. I don’t give a crap about what fans or people say, they can kiss my butt. I don’t care.”

“When the play is over, it’s over. It’s not like I have to go out there and be a jerk to him because it’s during the game and I’m a tough guy,” Urlacher added. “That’s not the way it is. They’re my friends. Between the whistles I’m going to try and get them, and when the play is over we’ll go back to doing whatever.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Nov. 13, 1978, which player left the Red Sox to sign as a free agent with the Yankees?

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