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Friday’s Morning Mashup: Another Aaron Hernandez associate indicted in relation to murder case 04.18.14 at 8:09 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’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.

MLB: Orioles at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN Plus; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Reds at Cubs, 2:15 p.m. (WGN, MLB Network)
MLB: Yankees at Rays, 7:10 p.m. (MLB Network)
NHL playoffs: Red Wings at Bruins, 7:30 p.m. (NESN, NBCSN)
NHL playoffs: Canadiens at Lightning, 7 p.m. (CNBC)
NHL playoffs: Stars at Ducks, 10 p.m. (NBCSN)


Aaron Hernandez was cut by the Patriots after his arrest for the murder of Odin Lloyd. (AP)

The case against Aaron Hernandez continues to develop. (AP)

– Another Aaron Hernandez associate was arrested and will face charges related to the death of Odin Lloyd, for which the former Patriots tight end and two other men stand accused with murder.

On Thursday in federal court in Orlando, 23-year-old Oscar Hernandez (no relation to Aaron) was ordered detained until he is to be transferred to Boston to face charges of obstruction of justice, witness tampering and lying under oath after being indicted by a federal grand jury.

The indictment states that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives traced three guns that had been recovered during the investigation into Lloyd’s death, and the ATF determined that the guns had been purchased in Florida last April. None of the guns are the .45-caliber Glock investigators believe was used in the shooting.

One of the guns is believed to be a rifle that investigators found in a gray Toyota Camry with Florida license plates that was parked in the garage of Aaron Hernandez’s North Attleboro home.

Aaron Hernandez’s lawyers said previously that Oscar Hernandez was interviewed by investigators last June, 10 days after Lloyd’s death. According to Wednesday’s indictment, Oscar Hernandez lied about purchasing the Camry and arranging for it to be sent from Florida to North Attleboro.

Carmelo Anthony soon will be a free agent, and he made it clear he has no intention of signing up for another “embarrassing” season like this one, in which the Knicks went 37-45 and finished out the playoffs.

“I want to come back. But I also want to win,” Anthony told reporters Thursday at the team’s practice facility in Greenburgh, N.Y. “Me wanting to be here, if we can put ourselves in position to at least compete at a high level over the course of whatever — five years, the contract would be — then I’m willing to stay here and I’m willing to ride or die for New York.”

Added Anthony: “Man, I feel like we gave away this year. This is a year that we can’t get back. It is what it is, so there’s no need to cry over the spoiled milk. We’ve got to keep moving forward. But we have to build. Let’s be quite frank about it, we have to get better. As a team we have to get better.

“I don’t know if I can afford to wait another season of losing. I really can’t see that picture right now. As far as other teams out there, which quote-unquote team will be the best situation? You never know. Sometimes the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. This is stuff that I’m going to have to sit down with my family and really figure things out. This is not a decision that’s going to happen overnight. It’s going to take some time.”

The Knicks can offer Anthony a five-year, $129.1 million deal, which is almost $33 million than he could get elsewhere, but he said that’s not of primary importance.

“At this point in my career, I’m not concerned about the money. The contract will be the contract regardless,” he said. “Without a doubt, at this point in my career it’s about winning. Nothing else matters. That’s not going to change. That’s still going to be my mindset, it is my mindset. You know, that’s going to be my No. 1.”

– Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig played in Thursday night’s game against the Giants in San Francisco and would not talk about specifics related to a report that smugglers who helped him defect from Cuba had threatened his life.

“I’m only concentrating on the season and being the best teammate and helping my teammates,” Puig said, adding: “I have great teammates who are helping support me so much this season and to focus on the season when I get to the stadium so I am comfortable. That way I don’t start thinking about anything negative in the stadium. I’m only thinking about working on the things that are going to make me a better ballplayer.”

According to court documents related to a federal lawsuit in Miami, smugglers made death threats against Puig and Cuban boxer Yunior Despaigne, claiming Puig owes them money.

“If you care about Yasiel, you worry about some serious stuff there that he has to deal with,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “If you care about him as a person, you worry about what he’s going through.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On April 18, 1997, the Bruins fired Steve Kasper one week after the season ended without the Bruins making the playoffs for the first time since 1967. Who replaced him?

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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Former Patriots WR Chad Johnson impresses in CFL tryout 04.17.14 at 8:00 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.

MLB: Red Sox at White Sox, 8:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Braves at Phillies, 1:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Cardinals at Nationals, 7:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
NHL playoffs: Flyers at Rangers, 7 p.m. (CNBC)
NHL playoffs: Blackhawks at Blues, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL playoffs: Wild at Avalanche, 9:30 p.m. (CNBC)
NHL playoffs: Kings at Sharks, 10:30 p.m. (NBCSN)


– Onetime Patriots receiver Chad Johnson is in Florida, working out with the Montreal Alouettes in an attempt to make the Canadian Football League team, and by all accounts, he’s off to a good start.

“He’s in great shape,” Alouttes general manager Jim Popp said. “He wants to play and we’ll see how things are.”


The 36-year-old Johnson, formerly known as Chad Ochocinco, last appeared in the NFL with the Patriots in 2011. After an unimpressive season in New England, he attempted to make the Dolphins the following preseason but was cut one day after being charged with misdemeanor domestic battery.

“I just want to get back to doing something that I love to do, regardless of where it is,” he said. “Montreal, flag football, back in the street the way I grew up. I just want to play football.”

The average CFL salary is about $85,000, but Ochocinco said he isn’t concerned about the finances.

“I don’t even need a check,” he said. “Didn’t I give it all away for 12 years straight? Think about it. Did I ever care about money when I played throughout my career? Still don’t. I want to have fun. I want to enjoy the game. That’s it.”

Lamar Odom, out of the NBA this season after highly publicized personal troubles last fall, signed with the Knicks and will begin training at the team’s practice facility under new Knicks president Phil Jackson‘s watch.

Odom helped Jackson’s Lakers win NBA titles in 2009 and ’10 and was the league’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2011, Jackson’s final year on the bench.

Odom, a native of nearby Queens, played for the Clippers last season but averaged only 4.0 points in about 20 minutes per game. He played two games for a team in Spain this season.

Meanwhile, coach Mike Woodson‘s future remains in question, with speculation mounting that he will not return for the final year of his contract.

“Unfortunately, this year just didn’t go according to plan,” Woodson said before Wednesday’s season finale against the Raptors. “So is it fair to let me go? I don’t think so, but again, I don’t make that decision. That’s got to come from the top.”

– Longtime Bucks owner Herb Kohl announced Wednesday that he’s selling the team to New York investment firm executives Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens for almost $550 million, with the understanding that the team will remain in Milwaukee.

“I wasn’t going to live forever,” the 79-year-old Kohl said at a press conference. “I’ve approached a time in my life where I have to think about … how do we think about succession.”

Kohl, who bought the Bucks for $18 million in 1985, said he would donate $100 million toward the building of a new arena for the team, with the new owners proving the same. The team’s current home, the Bradley Center, opened in 1988.

“We should be shouting from the rooftops because this is a game-changer for this entire debate,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said.

The Bucks, last in the NBA, took a 15-66 record — a franchise worst — into Wednesday night’s season finale against the Hawks.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On April 17, 1969, which Red Sox rookie followed up his two-home run effort the day before with another home run, giving him home runs for his first three major league hits, a team record?

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Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Knicks owner James Dolan ‘by no means an expert in basketball,’ will defer to Phil Jackson 03.19.14 at 8:11 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.

NBA: Heat at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE)
NBA: Pacers at Knicks, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Spurs at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: NCAA tournament, Cal Poly vs. Texas Southern, 6:40 p.m. (truTV)
College basketball: NCAA tournament, Iowa vs. Tennessee, 9:10 p.m. (truTV)
College basketball: NIT, Illinois at Boston University, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: NIT, Vermont at Georgia, 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: NIT, UC Irvine at SMU, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: NIT, LSU at San Francisco, 10 p.m. (ESPNU)
NHL: Blues at Blackhawks, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
MLB preseason: Pirates at Red Sox, 7 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB preseason: Rays at Orioles, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB preseason: Angels at White Sox, 4 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB preseason: Cubs at Rockies, 9:40 p.m. (MLB Network)
Soccer: UEFA Champions, Olympiakos at Manchester United, 3:30 p.m. (FS1)


Phil Jackson is taking control of the Knicks, and owner James Dolan (left) says he's happy to stay out of the way. (AP)

Phil Jackson is taking control of the Knicks, and owner James Dolan (left) says he’s happy to stay out of the way. (AP)

– The Knicks introduced new president Phil Jackson to great fanfare Tuesday with controversial owner James Dolan saying he is “willingly and gratefully” ceding authority to allow Jackson the space to fix the team.

Making a rare media appearance, Dolan acknowledged what New York fans have known for years: he’s no whiz when it comes to running a basketball team. Although he admittedly has meddled in basketball decisions in the past, he said he’s prepared to defer to those who are more qualified.

“The two gentlemen to my left [Jackson and general manager Steve Mills] are the experts in basketball. I am by no means an expert in basketball,” Dolan said. “I’m a fan, but my expertise lies in managing companies and new businesses. So I think I’m a little out of my element when it comes to the team.”

The 68-year-old Jackson, who signed a five-year deal worth a reported $60 million, said he plans to focus on “the kind of culture that’s built” and improve the experience for the players.

“The organization has suffered in the past few years from things I think have just been created, by press, by lack of continuity, by lack of solidarity,” Jackson said.

Jackson has won 13 NBA titles — two as a player with the Knicks and the rest as a coach with the Bulls and Lakers — and he said leading New York to a title would the perfect way to go out.

Said Jackson: “This would be the pinnacle, a capstone, on the remarkable career that I’ve had.”

– Former Pistons standout Ben Wallace was sentenced to a year in jail — but only ordered to serve two days of the sentence — for leaving the scene of a car accident last month.

An SUV registered to Wallace crashed into a fence outside a Virginia home last month, taking out a 20-foot section of the fence.

“It was dark, but it’€™s clear from here I saw one person trying to fight to get out of the car,” homeowner Silverio Acosta told WTVR-TV. Acosta said he saw the man smash pieces of wood against the fence after exiting the car “because he was angry.”

Wallace, who pleaded guilty to drunken driving and weapon possession charges related to an incident in the Detroit area three years ago, pleased no contest Tuesday.

– No 16 seed has ever knocked off a 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, although there have been two one-point games (Georgetown’s escape vs. Princeton, and Oklahoma’s victory over East Tennessee State, both in 1989) and an overtime contest (Michigan State over Murray State in 1990).

The Wall Street Journal takes a look at how such an upset can happen, noting that teams that came close were able to slow down the game and/or use a solid zone defense.

Three No. 15 seeds have knocked off No. 2 seeds in the last two years, but the 16 seeds are 0-116 since the tournament expanded in 1985, despite teams from smaller leagues closing the gap on the power conferences.

Said TNT analyst Charles Barkley: “It’s going to happen at some point soon.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): 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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Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Carmelo Anthony ‘willing to do whatever’ to help Phil Jackson succeed with Knicks 03.18.14 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.

NHL: Bruins at Devils, 7 p.m. (NESN)
NHL: Blackhawks at Flyers, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA: Raptors at Hawks, 7:30 p.m. (NBATV)
College basketball: NCAA tournament, Albany vs. Mount St. Mary’s, 6:40 p.m. (truTV)
College basketball: NCAA tournament, N.C. State vs. Xavier, 9:10 p.m. (truTV)
College basketball: NIT, Robert Morris at St. John’s, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: NIT, Florida Gulf Coast at Florida State, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: NIT, West Virginia at Georgetown, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: NIT, Indiana State at Arkansas, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: NIT, Georgia State at Clemson, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: NIT, Davidson at Missouri, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: NIT, Utah at Saint Mary’s, 11 p.m. (ESPN2)
MLB preseason: Red Sox at Yankees, 1 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI-AM)
MLB preseason: Athletics at White Sox, 4 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB preseason: Cubs at Rangers, 10 p.m. (MLB Network)
Soccer: UEFA Champions, Galatasaray at Chelsea, 3:30 p.m. (FS1)


Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony

Phil Jackson is set to be introduced as Knicks president Tuesday, and star forward Carmelo Anthony says he’s “wiling to do whatever” is needed to get the team moving in the right direction.

Anthony, who becomes a free agent after this season, said Monday he had not spoken with Jackson but was looking forward to seeing if the Hall of Fame coach could work his magic in New York.

“The big picture, absolutely, for the big picture this is definitely more attractive,” Anthony said after Monday’s practice (via the New York Daily News).

“I’m willing to do whatever. As long as it’s going to put me in a situation to win, I’m willing to do whatever. I’m not sold or stuck on my play. What I’ve been able to do these past 10-11 years has gotten me to where I am right now.

“If Phil wants to come in and change that this late in my career, if it’s going to help me out to win a championship, I’m with it.”

Added Anthony: “As far as knowing what it takes to win, Phil is the best to ever do it. So for me to be able to have the opportunity and have him by my side, for him to teach me, you know, because I’€™m still willing to learn the game of basketball. … I haven’€™t won anything, and he’€™s won a lot. I can learn a lot from him and his system, things that he wants to incorporate here. I’€™m hoping and praying this all works.”

Meanwhile, rumors persist that Jackson will tab former Bulls guard Steve Kerr as Knicks coach. Kerr, now a TNT commentator after serving as general manager of the Suns from 2007-10, appeared on the Dan Patrick Show on Monday and acknowledged he remained close to Jackson but chose his words carefully out of respect for current coach Mike Woodson.

“I’m perfectly happy doing what I’m doing, trust me,” Kerr said. “At some point in my life, if there’s a [coaching] opportunity that intrigues me, I might take it.”

– A federal lawsuit filed Monday charges that the NCAA and its five dominant conferences comprise an “unlawful cartel” that makes billions off athletes who are illegally restricted from earning their fair share.

The suit — the latest attempt by current and former athletes to cause dramatic changes in the NCAA’s oversight of college athletics — seeks monetary damages along with a declaration that the NCAA along with the SEC, ACC, Pac-12, Big Ten and Big 12 are violating antitrust laws.

“As a result of these illegal restrictions, market forces have been shoved aside and substantial damages have been inflicted upon a host of college athletes whose services have yielded riches only for others,” according to the court filing. “This class action is necessary to end the NCAA’s unlawful cartel, which is inconsistent with the most fundamental principles of antitrust law.”

The four defendants are Rutgers basketball player Johnathan “J.J.” Moore, Clemson football player Martin Jenkins, Texas-El Paso football player Kevin Perry and California football player William Tyndall.

– Fans of the Kontinental Hockey League club Barys Astana were ecstatic after their team won its first-ever playoff series last week, sweeping Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg. When the team arrived home, a group of fans met the players at the airport. Some of them lifted up forward Talgat Zhailauov and tossed him in the air. However, they failed to catch him, and he fell to the ground.

Zhailauov, reportedly went to a hospital and was diagnosed with a concussion. It was unclear if he would be able to play in the team’s second-round series this week.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On March 18, 1953, the National League owners approved the move of the Braves from Boston to Milwaukee. Who was the Braves owner?

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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson critical of Lakers front office 03.13.14 at 8:05 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.

NHL: Coyotes at Bruins, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL: Rangers at Wild, 8 p.m., 8 p.m. (NHL Network)
NBA: Rockets at Bulls, 7 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Lakers at Thunder, 9:30 p.m. (TNT)
College basketball: Rhode Island vs. UMass, 9 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Florida State vs. Maryland, noon (ESPN)
College basketball: Villanova vs. Seton Hall, noon (FS1)
College basketball: St. Bonaventure vs. La Salle, noon (CSNNE)
College basketball: Illinois vs. Indiana, noon (BTN)
College basketball: Kansas State vs. Iowa State, 12:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Houston vs. SMU, 1 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Wake Forest vs. Pittsburgh, 2 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Purdue vs. Ohio State, 2:25 p.m. (BTN)
College basketball: St. John’s vs. Providence, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Dayton vs. Fordham, 2:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Rutgers vs. Louisville, 3 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: San Diego State vs. Utah State, 3 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: UNLV vs. Wyoming 5:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Duquesne vs. Richmond, 6:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Penn State vs. Minnesota, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: N.C. State vs. Miami, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: UCF vs. Cincinnati, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Creighton vs. DePaul, 7 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Northwestern vs. Iowa, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Memphis vs. UConn, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Clemson vs. Georgia Tech, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: New Mexico vs. Fresno State, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Marquette vs. Xavier, 9:30 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Arizona State vs. Stanford, 11:30 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Nevada vs. Boise State, 11:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
MLB preseason: Red Sox at Twins, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB preseason: Reds at Dodgers, 4 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB preseason: Rockies at Athletics, 10 p.m. (MLB Network)


– The Lakers are on a downward spiral, and Kobe Bryant is not happy with the way the front office is handling the situation. And he’s got Magic Johnson in his corner.

Bryant, speaking Wednesday after the team announced he would not play again this season as he recovers from a fractured knee, said he had no patience regarding the team’s reported plans to wait until 2015 to rebuild.

“Oh, yeah, let’s just play next year and let’s just suck again,” Bryant said sarcastically. “No Absolutely not. It’s my job to go out there on the court and perform, no excuses for it. Right? You’ve got to get things down.

“Same thing with the front office. The same expectations they have of me when I perform on the court, it’s the same expectations I have for them up there.”

Bryant and Johnson both criticized the organization for passing over Phil Jackson last season and then allowing the coaching legend to join the Knicks front office this week. Bryant called out team executives (and siblings) Jim and Jeanie Buss and questioned the future of coach Mike D’Antoni.

“I think we have to start at the top in terms of the culture of our team,” he said. “What type of culture do you want to have? What type of system do you want to have? How do you want to play? It starts there.

“You’ve got to start with Jim. You’ve got to start with Jim and Jeanie and how that relationship plays out. It starts there and having a clear direction and clear authority.

“Then it goes down to the coaching staff. What’s Mike going to do? What do you want to do with Mike? It goes from there. It’s got to start from the top.”

While Bryant was talking, Johnson tweeted out his concern about the direction of the team.

“I love Jim & Jeanie Buss, but we need Phil Jackson to be the face of our great organization, the Los Angeles Lakers,” Johnson wrote in a series of tweets. “Kobe Bryant is the face of the Lakers’ team. Who is the face of the Lakers’ organization? In signing Phil Jackson, [Knicks] Owner Jim Dolan & [team executive] Steve Mills are saying to the Knicks fans, they’re ready to win now!”

Blake Griffin continues to make highlights and enemies. The Clippers star, who has had numerous run-ins with opponents this season, had a dispute with veteran Warriors forward Jermaine O’Neal that carried over into the Staples Center hallway.

O’Neal, a onetime Celtic, received a technical foul with 8:55 left in the game after he walked toward the Clippers bench to yap at Griffin before being directed away by teammates and officials.

After the game, as Griffin was making his way to a postgame press conference following Los Angeles’ 111-98 win, O’Neal shared a few choice words with the young star. Griffin would not comment on the conversation, but the Los Angeles Times reported that he told O’Neal, “Why you going to walk up on me like that? Leave that ‘€¦ on the court.” A snarling O’Neal then quickly shook Griffin’s hand and walked away, saying, “Man, I’m a monster off the court.”

Said Griffin: “Man, get out of here with that.”

Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino is offering two fans a chance to attend spring training as his guest as part of a contest to raise money for the Shane Victorino Foundation, which benefits underprivileged children.

Fans who donate $1 or more by Monday via the new digital fundraising platform Fame4Good.com are entered into the contest. The winner and a guest will receive round-trip plane tickets, a two-night stay at a Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Fort Myers, Fla., and a visit with Victorino on the field prior to a game against the Rays on March 23.

“Partnering with Fame4Good allows me to shine a light on our foundation’€™s incredible efforts to support kids in need and it does so in a way that fans can have fun with and really get engaged,” Victorino said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to give back to the communities that have given so much to me and I look forward to meeting the lucky winner.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On March 13, 1971, who became the third player in Bruins history (and fifth in NHL history) to record 100 points in a season when he scored a goal in a 6-3 victory over the Canucks in Vancouver?

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Monday’s Morning Mashup: Controversial CB Antonio Cromartie bids farewell to Jets after release 03.10.14 at 8:00 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.

MLB preseason: Rays at Red Sox, 1 p.m. (NESN)
NBA: Suns at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (NBATV)
College basketball: CAA final, William & Mary vs. Delaware, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: MAAC final, Manhattan vs. Iona, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: WCC semifinal, St. Mary’s vs. Gonzaga, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Southern final, Western Carolina vs. Wofford, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: WCC semifinal, San Francisco vs. BYU, 11:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
NHL: Penguins at Capitals, 7 p.m. (NHL Network)
Soccer: Premier League, Sunderland at Liverpool, 3:55 p.m. (NBCSN)


Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie's marital difficulties became public when his wife faked a suicide attempt, leading to police intervention. (AP)

Cornerback Antonio Cromartie is on the market after his release from the Jets. (AP)

– One year after they traded Darrelle Revis, the Jets cut ties with the other cornerstone of their once dominant defensive backfield, releasing controversial cornerback Antonio Cromartie.

Cromartie, 29, was slowed by a hip issue in 2013, and the team decided to cut him now rather than pay him a $5 million roster bonus upon the start of the new league year. He would have carried a salary cap charge of just under $15 million in 2014. The team will save $9.5 million against the cap.

The New York Daily News reports that Cromartie would be willing to consider a return to New York at a cheaper rate, but the team appears to be ready to move on.

“Cro is one of the finest athletes I’€™ve ever coached,” coach Rex Ryan said in a statement. “He was willing to contribute wherever the team needed him to win games, be it defense, special teams or offense. He has a passion and enthusiasm for the game and I wish him and his family the best.”

Cromartie played four seasons with the Jets, recording 13 interceptions, after being acquired from the Chargers in 2010. He went to the Pro Bowl in 2012 after stepping up in place of the injured Revis.

Cromartie tweeted his farewell Sunday, writing: I would like 2 thank the Jets organization so much with helpin me grow as leader and a player. S/O 2 my teammates I wish u guys the best.

Added Cromartie: It’€™s time for a new chapter in my life and now it’€™s time to let my lord and savior lead my steps every step of the way.


– There is excitement in New York regarding the Knicks, but it has nothing to do with what’s happening on the court. NBA coaching legend Phil Jackson reportedly will decide Monday whether he will accept a position with the team.

The 68-year-old Jackson is said to have turned down an offer to coach, and it’s not clear if he would be willing to run the team or if he would prefer to serve as a consultant. He also is believed to have an interest in returning to the Lakers in some capacity.

Said one unidentified general manager to the New York Daily News: “The Knicks and Phil are getting exactly what they want out of this. The Knicks are showing that they want to do something and this is a chance for Phil to get the Lakers to make a move. If they don’€™t, he can take the Knicks’€™ money.”

Jackson has won 11 NBA titles — nine as a coach and two as a player. He was a forward on the Knicks’ only two championship squads in 1970 and ’73.

– A Minnesota State Representative is taking some heat for a tweet Sunday night in which he implied NBA players would resort to crime if they weren’t playing basketball.

Republican Pat Garofalo tweeted: Let’s be honest, 70% of teams in NBA could fold tomorrow + nobody would notice a difference w/ possible exception of increase in streetcrime.


Garofalo did not back down despite receiving hundreds of negative responses, many of them accusing him of being racist. One tweeter had a clever response, writing: there’s more criminals in your profession than the nba buddy.

Garofalo later explained to the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he was “talking about NBA’s high arrest rate and that they are the only major pro league that testing positive for marijuana is not a substance abuse violation.”

Added Garofalo: “No intent beyond that.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On March 10, 1986, the veterans committee voted which Red Sox legend into the Baseball Hall of Fame?

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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.

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)


• 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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Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Canucks draw ire of Blackhawks after hit to Marian Hossa’s head 02.20.13 at 7:33 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.

NBA: Celtics at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (CSNNE, ESPN; WEEI-FM)
NBA: Hornets at Cavaliers, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: James Madison at Northeastern, 7 p.m. (CSNNE)
College basketball: UMass at St. Bonaventure, 7 p.m. (NESN)
College basketball: Providence at Syracuse, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Minnesota at Ohio State, 7 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Oklahoma at Texas Tech, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Iowa State at Baylor, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Kansas at Oklahoma State, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Wisconsin at Northwestern, 9 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: Colorado State at UNLV, 10:15 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Santa Clara at Gonzaga, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Washington at Arizona, 11 p.m. (ESPN2)
NHL: Flyers at Penguins, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL: Blues at Avalanche, 10 p.m. (NBCSN)


♦ The Blackhawks dislike the Canucks even more than the Bruins do, and this elbow to the back of Marian Hossa‘s head by Jannik Hansen in Tuesday’s game won’t help the situation. Chicago went on to a 4-3 shootout win, extending its season-opening undefeated streak to an NHL record-tying 16 games, but much of the talk afterward was about Hossa, who scored two goals but did not return after the hit.

Hossa was knocked out of last season’s Stanley Cup playoffs on a concussion-causing hit by Coyotes forward (and former Canuck) Raffi Torres and was not cleared to return until November (Torres was suspended 25 games).

Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said he expects no discipline for Hansen.

“It wasn’t even a penalty,” Vigneault said. “Both referees looked at the play, and until [Hawks captain Jonathan] Toews went out to talk to them it wasn’t even a penalty. … He’s trying to grab a puck in the air. It’s unfortunate if a young man is hurt. He’s trying to jump to get the puck. Stuff happens.”

Said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville: “I think everybody saw it, everybody can have their own opinion. I’ll let the people that do that stuff do their job.”

♦ Amid reports that the relationship between Lakers teammates Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard is at an all-time low, Phil Jackson weighed in on the team’s struggles and said Howard is not being used properly.

“They just don’t put the ball in the post,” the former Lakers coach told Sports Illustrated. “They’ll use a screen-roll to get the guy in the post. But there’s no consistent plan to do it. Yes, Kobe will go in there. But Dwight just doesn’t get any touches. They’ve basically eliminated his assets.”

Jackson reiterated that he’s done coaching, although he made it clear that he’s interested in running the basketball operations for a team.

“I do hold out the idea that there’s still influence in the game I could have,” he said. “Red Auerbach, Pete Newell, Wayne Embry, guys like that have had … a number of people have had considerable influence and haven’t been coaches per se.”

♦ The Jets made official what had been speculated for weeks, parting ways with some key players in a cost-cutting move. Tuesday’s cuts included linebackers Bart Scott and Calvin Pace, safety Eric Smith, offensive tackle Jason Smith and tight end/fullback Josh Baker. The purge clears about $31 million from the books and gets the Jets under the projected 2013 salary cap.

“Every one of these players was a major contributor to our football team,” coach Rex Ryan said in a team statement. “They have the work ethic and attitude that you look for in players and they will always be New York Jets. It was an honor to coach each of these men. They are tremendous people, as well as outstanding football players.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Feb. 20, 1997, which Bruin extended his point-scoring streak to 20 games with an assist in a 5-3 loss to the Blackhawks in Chicago?

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Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Jets CB Antonio Cromartie no longer sure about playoff guarantee 11.27.12 at 7:50 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.

NBA: Mavericks at 76ers, 7 p.m. (NBA TV)
College basketball: Vermont at Harvard, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Minnesota at Florida State, 7:15 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Iowa at Virginia Tech, 7:15 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: NC State at Michigan, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Maryland at Northwestern, 9:15 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Nebraska at Wake Forest, 9:15 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: North Carolina at Indiana, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)


Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who three weeks ago predicted a playoff berth, said he isn't sure what he believes now following the team's 49-19 loss to the Patriots. (AP)

♦ Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who three weeks ago was positive the Jets would rally and make the playoffs, was not as confident on Monday, as his team returned to practice following the 49-19 embarrassment vs. the Patriots on Thanksgiving night that dropped New York to 4-7.

“I don’t even know what I believe right now, the way we’ve been playing,” he said. “We’ve still got five games left. Anything can happen. My biggest focus right now is this one important game. I can’t worry about the playoffs right now.”

The Jets, who have not won consecutive games all season, begin their final stretch with a game against the Cardinals on Sunday as they look to win out.

“Heck, yeah, that’s your goal,” coach Rex Ryan said. “Absolutely, that’s what you’re trying to do. Our goal was to beat New England also, but that never worked out. That’s why you play. You try and win every game that you’re in. I’m saying right now I’m not going to make a guarantee that we’re going to make the playoffs or that deal. We have to get better. It has to start right now.”

Added running back Joe McKnight: “We still are playing for something. We’re playing for our pride and we’ve still got a chance to get in the playoffs. We’ve got five games left. We need some things to happen. [Ryan] just told us to keep playing. The season’s not over. We’ve got five games left and we need to win these five games.”

♦ While the Jets are floundering, the Giants are crediting a 15-year-old cancer patient from Vermont for inspiring them before their 38-10 rout of the Packers on Sunday night. Adam Merchant Jr., who has been winning his battle with Burkitt lymphoma, gave a brief but emotional speech to the team after Friday’s practice, telling the players to “play like world champions.”

“When he said, ‘Play like champions,’ I think we all stopped and thought about it.” offensive lineman Chris Snee said. “We are the champions, and we need to play like that.”

Said defensive end Justin Tuck: “I told him he needs to go into motivational speaking, because he kind of woke us up a little bit.”

Merchant, who visited the team as part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation program, was welcomed back to the locker room following Sunday’s win.

“They didn’t just make a wish come true,” Merchant told the New York Post on Monday, “they made a dream come true.”

Phil Jackson has had a couple of weeks to digest what happened in Los Angeles, where he almost returned to the bench before Mike D’Antoni was chosen to coach the Lakers, and he’s softened somewhat.

“We never discussed any terms, so there was never anything unfair about it,” Jackson told TMZ.com. “It was just a midnight kind of coup. … Yeah, it was kind of weird.”

Jackson, 67, said he has no plans to come out of retirement and coach again.

“The chances are slim and none, probably,” he said. “I wasn’t really looking to coach again, but that one was happenstance and it just came about.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Nov. 27, 1950, the Red Sox signed which future Hall of Famer from the Indians?

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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.

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)


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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