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Friday’s Morning Mashup: Charles Barkley offers to kill Skip Bayless; Yadier Molina wants apology from Adam Jones for WBC party comments

03.24.17 at 9:25 am ET
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Good morning! Here is your Friday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

MLB: Boston vs. Toronto, 1:07 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: San Francisco vs. Colorado, 4 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Baltimore vs. Minnesota, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA: Phoenix at Boston, 7:30 p.m. (CSN, WBZ-FM 98.5)
NBA: Atlanta at Milwaukee, 8 p.m. (NBATV)
NHL: NY Islanders at Pittsburgh (NHL Network)
College basketball: Butler vs. North Carolina, 7:09 p.m. (CBS)
College basketball: South Carolina vs. Baylor, 7:29 p.m. (TBS)
College basketball: UCLA vs. Kentucky, 9:30 p.m. (CBS)
College basketball: Wisconsin vs. Florida, 9:59 p.m. (TBS)


— During an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show Thursday, Charles Barkley talked about Michael Jordan’s gambling and Michigan’s run in the NCAA tournament after their plane incident, but it wasn’t until the final minutes that things got really interesting.

As the spot was ending, Barkley made Patrick an interesting offer to boost ratings for his show: Barkley said if he ever gets a terminal illness, he will kill Second Take host Skip Bayless live on Patrick’s show.

“You know what we should do for ratings? If I get a disease and I’m gonna die, how about you get Skip Bayless in here and I’ll kill him live on national television,” Barkley said.

“I like it. Like pay-per-view,” Patrick responded.

“No, no, no. Just get him in here. Only when I know Imma die….Cause I just want to get Skip Bayless in a room one time and beat him like a dog,” Barkley said. “… Only if I knew I was gonna die. Not if I’m gonna live, cause I don’t wanna go to prison. Cause like Mahorn say, ‘they would love you in prison.’”

The producer looked thrilled when Patrick asked if he would be willing to set this up.

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Read More: Adam Jones, Charles Barkley, Yadier Molina,

Doctors see rise in vasectomies during March Madness

03.23.17 at 3:46 pm ET
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Toronto StarEvery March, away from the basketball court, a different kind of madness begins. Whether it’s called U Vas Madness or carries a cool ad slogan like “it’s hip to get snipped,” it’s urologists’ one shining moment: Vasectomy season.

And you thought only the nets got cut this time of year.

It’s a combination of things, really, that brings this about: For most men, personal timing and the sports calendar happen to coincide perfectly. And then there are the deals. A D.C. area man with four daughters won a free vasectomy in a contest sponsored by 106.7 The Fan’s Junkies. “We had Vasectomy Madness, so to speak,” Dr. Kelly Chiles, an assistant professor of urology at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, told the Post.

“If you’re a guy, no one wants to do it. We’re lazy,” Eric Bickel of the Junkies added. “ . . . But any excuse to sit around and watch TV works for most guys.”

At Obsidian Men’s Health in McLean, Virginia, you’d be a fool not to schedule a snip-snip the first week of the tournament. A concierge practice, Obsidian offers a spa-like experience, with patients awake and watching the games on big-screen TVs. The recovery room, its website says, is “equipped with comfortable robes and slippers, flat-screen TVs with Netflix, cappuccino and top-shelf liquor. We’ll do everything we can to keep you comfortable after the procedure.”

In March, it’s easy to just relax with games on TV all day and brackets yet to be busted. “Men can say, ‘doctors’ orders, I have to take it easy and sit on the couch for a couple of days,’” Chiles says, “having beer and chips. ‘It’s doctors’ orders: Be a couch potato.’”

The beer isn’t a problem, she adds, within reason and, of course, as long as the patient is not on narcotic painkillers (and most are not). No wonder the first week of the NCAA tournament is the perfect time to get this taken care of.

Chiles says that she did “several” vasectomies Wednesday and has had a couple more consultations. “Anecdotally,” she says she sees an increase in the procedure during March, with men beginning to call in February.

A lot of businesses take advantage of the NCAA tournament in marketing campaigns and “hip to get snipped” is the greatest example of this.

Too bad vasectomy recovery time is only two or three days to a week so this can’t be used as an excuse to do nothing but watch basketball for the entire month.

If you’re going to get it done, it’s worth taking a trip to Virginia to do it. This Obsidian Men’s Health practice does look like a spa, has great Yelp reviews and the doctors are very tan.

And of course a guy with four daughters would win a free vasectomy from a radio station. Imagine how frantically he called in when he heard about that contest.

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Team USA wins World Baseball Classic

03.23.17 at 10:02 am ET
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Good morning! Here is your Thursday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

MLB: Pittsburgh at Boston, 1 p.m. (WEEI-AM 850)
MLB: NY Yankees vs. Tampa Bay, 1:05 p.m. (ESPN)
MLB: Cincinnati vs. Chicago White Sox, 4 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: LA Dodgers vs. Texas, 7:05 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Toronto at Miami, 7:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
NHL: Tampa Bay at Boston, 7 p.m. (NESN, WBZ-FM 98.5)
NHL: Pittsburgh at Ottawa, 7:30 p.m. (NHL Network)
College basketball: Michigan vs. Oregon, 7:09 p.m. (CBS)
College basketball: West Virginia vs. Gonzaga, 7:39 p.m. (TBS)
College basketball: Purdue vs. Kansas, 9:39 p.m. (CBS)
College basketball: Xavier vs. Arizona, 10:09 p.m. (TBS)


— Team USA beat Puerto Rico 8-0 Wednesday night to win the World Baseball Classic.

Marcus Stroman didn’t allow a hit until the seventh inning for the United States and was named the tournament’s MVP. He threw 73 pitches, 44 for strikes to go along with three strikeouts and one walk.

“I love pitching in these moments,” Stroman said afterwards. “I love the atmosphere. I feel like the bigger the game, the more I’m able to get up, the more effective I am.

This was Puerto Rico’s first loss in eight games.

“These guys were here to do their best,” said Team USA general manager Joe Torre. “The thing I marveled at was how quickly they came together, and [manager] Jimmy [Leyland] deserves a lot of that credit. They’re just a great group who understood what this event is all about.”

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred presented the trophy to Leyland, who dedicated the win to the country’s armed services.

“This is for the men and women who serve our country,” Leyland said.

“There was only one thing on our mind, was to win this thing and to do whatever we can to win,” said left fielder Christian Yelich. “That helped us come together.”

“Marcus set the tone right off the bat and just was dealing,” he went on. “And we kind of fed off that and we were just rolling ever since.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Our guys played like champions in the last 20 minutes, and we really were able to have a lot of things go right, which they needed to pretty much just had to fall the way they did or we would have been in trouble. So it was a great year and a great victory for our team.” — Bill Belichick, to Mike Krzyzewski, on the Patriots’ Super Bowl LI win 

NBA PB&J craze started with Kevin Garnett, Celtics

03.22.17 at 1:00 pm ET
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ESPNThe legend has been passed down by NBA generations, chronicled like a Homeric odyssey. The tale they tell is of Kevin Garnett and the 2007-08 Celtics, and the seminal moment of a revolution. Bryan Doo, Celtics strength and conditioning coach, recalls it as if it were yesterday, how before a game in December of that season, an unnamed Celtic — his identity lost to history, like the other horsemen on Paul Revere’s midnight ride — complained to Doo of incipient hunger pangs.

“Man, I could go for a PB&J,” the player said.

And then Garnett, in an act with historical reverberations, uttered the now-fabled words: “Yeah, let’s get on that.”

Garnett had not, to that point, made the PB&J a part of his pregame routine. But on that night in Boston, as Doo recalls, Garnett partook, then played … and played well. Afterward, from his perch as the Celtics’ fiery leader, Garnett issued the following commandment: “We’re going to need PB&J in here every game now.”

And so a sandwich revolution was born.

At the time, Doo notes, the Celtics not only didn’t provide lavish pregame spreads, they didn’t offer much food at all. But he soon found himself slapping together 20 PB&J’s about three hours before every tip-off, the finished products placed in bags and labeled with Sharpie in a secret code: “S” for strawberry, “G” for grape, “C” for crunchy. Of vital import: Garnett was an “S” man, and woe unto he who did not deliver him two S’s before every game. “If Kevin didn’t get his routine down, he’d be pissed,” Doo says. “Even if he didn’t eat them, he needed them to be there.”

From Doo’s perspective, PB&J’s were a far better option than players seeking out, say, greasy junk food from arena concessions. “It was a win-win for everybody,” he says. But as the Garnett-Paul Pierce-Ray Allen Celtics steamrolled to a 66-win season and an NBA title, the secret to their success, so cleverly disguised between two pieces of white bread, was eventually leaked. “Boston was doing it at a mass-produced level earlier on than I noticed other people doing it, for sure,” says Tim DiFrancesco, the Lakers’ strength and conditioning coach since 2011. “They were really on the forefront of this revolution.” In time, as visiting teams swung through Boston, opposing players caught wind that a new day had dawned. DiFrancesco recalls hearing from his troops during a visit: “Wait a minute, there’s PB&J’s in the Celtics’ locker room? Can we get some?” Doo’s colleagues around the league were less effusive. “B-Doo, I can’t believe you did this for the guys,” one told him. “Now you got me making them.”

There was no putting the jelly back in the jar. Over the course of the following seasons, as that Celtics championship run ran its course, the pieces of that team would be spread far and wide: Pierce and Garnett migrating the PB&J down I-95 to Brooklyn; Glen “Big Baby” Davis converting the Orlando Magic; Tony Allen spreading the bug to Memphis; coach Doc Rivers bringing the virus across the country to infect the Clippers.

And nothing would ever be the same.

We already kind of knew PB&J is popular in the NBA but this deeper dive into the trend paints the full picture of how much the sandwich means to the players. And I, for one, did not know it began in Boston with Garnett.

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Tinder might be a reason why NBA teams now win on the road more often

03.22.17 at 12:22 pm ET
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The Celtics are 21-17 on the road this season. (Kelley L Cox/USA Today Sports)

The Celtics are 21-17 on the road this season. (Kelley L Cox/USA Today Sports)

NBA teams win on the road more often than they used to. The advent of Tinder and other messaging apps might be one of the reasons why.

In an ESPN the Magazine feature, Tom Haberstroh examines the success clubs have enjoyed away from home in recent years. In the 1987-88 season, for example, the home team won 67.9 percent of games. Ten years later, that number dropped to 57.5 percent, before rising up around the 60 percent threshold for the bulk of the 2000’s.

So far this season, home teams have been victorious 57.4 percent of the time, which is an all-time low. According to one former All-Star, players are now more rested when they’re traveling, because they can line up their hookups from the comfort of their hotel room. There’s no longer a need to troll the clubs until the wee hours of the morning.

“It’s absolutely true that you get at least two hours more sleep getting laid on the road today versus 15 years ago,” the player said. “No schmoozing. No going out to the club. No having to get something to eat after the club but before the hotel.”

There are other possible explanations for this phenomenon, of course. Teams now fly charter instead of commercial, meaning players always travel in luxury. There also isn’t a lot of boozing on flights anymore. Players take much better care of their bodies.

The road lifestyle is far less taxing than it used to be. Even the act of lining up a hot date doesn’t take any more effort than just typing a couple of messages with your thumb.

Read More: NBA,

NFL will release video teaching players how to celebrate touchdowns

03.22.17 at 11:53 am ET
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It seems as if the NFL is going to continue cracking down on touchdown celebrations.

Troy Vincent, the league’s executive vice president of football operations, tweeted Tuesday the NFL is going to develop a video that teaches players how to act when they get into the end zone. Last year, the league levied out 30 “demonstration penalties” –– up from 29 over the previous two seasons.

While players should be expected to follow some rules for touchdown celebrations –– it’s not necessary for Odell Beckham Jr. to propose to the kicking net –– the league’s intensive focus on this topic is overblown.

Given all of the problems facing the NFL, including new revelations of systemic painkiller abuse, it seems like there are much bigger problems to worry about than how Antonio Brown acts after he catches a touchdown pass.

Read More: NFL,

Budweiser releases ‘Red Sox Nation’ beer can

03.22.17 at 11:17 am ET
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Prior to the start of every MLB season, Budweiser releases team-branded beer cans. This spring is no different, and the Red Sox design is … OK.

In a tweet Wednesday, ESPN business reporter Darren Rovell posted a photo of the limited edition MLB cans.

The “Red Sox Nation” monicker jumped the shark last decade, when the team monetized it and started to offer “official members” the chance to become president of the make believe organization. Jerry Remy was elected the first president of “Red Sox Nation” in 2007.

While the Red Sox design is a tad passé, the Cubs’ can is awesome. Nothing beats being called the “World Series champions.”

Read More: Boston Red Sox,

Sarah Palin takes shot at Colin Kaepernick for his Meals on Wheels donation

03.22.17 at 10:13 am ET
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Colin Kaepernick remains a lightning rod in NFL circles. (Robert Hanashiro/USA Today Sports)

Colin Kaepernick remains a lightning rod in NFL circles. (Robert Hanashiro/USA Today Sports)

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump took a shot at Colin Kaepernick, proclaiming his Twitter wrath is dissuading teams from signing the former 49ers quarterback.

Now former Alaska governor Sarah Palin is following suit.

In an article posted on Palin’s official website, writer Mary Kate Knorr calls Kaepernick’s Meals on Wheels donation a “political stunt.” Kaepernick recently gave $50,000 to the program, which delivers food for seniors and faces significant cuts under Trump’s proposed budget.

On Facebook, Palin implied Kaepernick’s political activism is the reason he’s still a free agent. “And he wonders why he can’t find a job,” she wrote as a teaser to the piece.

There seems to be a lot of truth to Palin’s comments. According to Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman, 70 percent of NFL teams “genuinely hate” Kaepernick, because of his decision to kneel during the national anthem last year to protest racial discrimination and police brutality. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported earlier this month the quarterback will stand for the “Star-Spangled Banner” this season.

While Kaepernick’s protest may be over, it’s clear he remains committed to social advocacy. Last week, he also donated $50,000 to help fly supplies to famine-ravaged Somalia.

Read More: Colin Kaepernick,

Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Punches thrown in Bulls-Raptors game

03.22.17 at 9:51 am ET
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Good morning! Here is your Wednesday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

MLB: NY Yankees vs. Philadelphia, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
World Baseball Classic: Puerto Rico vs. USA, 9 p.m. (ESPN2, MLB Network)
NBA: Indiana at Boston, 7:30 p.m. (CSN, WBZ-FM 98.5)
NBA: Atlanta at Washington, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: New York at Utah, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL: NY Islanders at NY Rangers, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Bakersfield at UT Arlington, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)


— In a rare NBA occurrence, punches were thrown during the Bulls-Raptors game Tuesday night.

Chicago’s Robin Lopez and Toronto’s Serge Ibaka were both ejected after the physical fight broke out in the third quarter of the game at Air Canada Centre.

It started when Ibaka threw an elbow at Lopez after a shot made by Jimmy Butler. Lopez responded by grabbing the ball out of Ibaka’s hand and tempers exploded.

Lopez threw a punch at Ibaka’s head and Ikaka punched back, slightly swiping Ibaka.

Teammates and coaches rushed to calm the chaos and pulled the players apart. Both were immediately tossed from the game.

“What happened is we were playing physical basketball and he got frustrated,” Ibaka said after the game. “That thing happened where you just start pushing each other, like always happens when there’s contact, and then he throws a punch. You know, like a man, I had to defend myself. I’m not just going to be out there and watch a man like him punch me and just walk away. I had to defend myself.”

Lopez also declined to take blame for the incident.

“Things got heated, we exchanged a few words and it kind of went from there,” Lopez said. “I’m not too surprised [that it escalated]. It happens sometimes.”

As far as punishment from the league, Lopez believes he will be suspended, but Ibaka doesn’t think he should get the same punishment since he didn’t throw the first punch.

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Read More: Robin Lopez, Serge Ibaka,

Bill Simmons appears to chastise former Grantland colleague Jonah Keri for ‘stealing his idea’

03.21.17 at 3:10 pm ET
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One of Bill Simmons’ signature pieces is his annual NBA trade value column. In it, he ranks the most valuable players in the league.

And now he says his former Grantland colleague, Jonah Keri, is stealing it from him.

In a tweet Tuesday, Simmons appears to chastise Keri for publishing an MLB trade value column on Sports Illustrated. Keri first started applying the concept to baseball players when he worked under Simmons, who served as Grantland’s editor-in-chief.

It’s possible Simmons is tweeting in jest. For starters, Keri wrote the same article on SI last year, and Simmons didn’t comment publicly. He also gives Simmons credit at the end of the piece, along with Fangraph’s Dave Cameron, who writes a similar column on his website.

“Thanks as always to Bill Simmons, who came up with the idea to rank all NBA players by trade value many years ago and urged me to start an MLB Trade Value series. Special shoutout to FanGraphs’ Dave Cameron, who’s been doing his own MLB rankings for the past several years,” Keri writes.

Given Simmons’ history of petty feuds, it wouldn’t be shocking if he were genuinely peeved. If that’s the case, he has little ground to stand on, considering ranking players based on their trade value is far from an original concept.

Perhaps Simmons is still stewing over the cancellation of his HBO talk show, “Any Given Wednesday,” which was discontinued last year after just 25 episodes.

Read More: Bill Simmons,