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Friday’s Morning Mashup: LeBron James grades himself ‘F’ in Cavaliers’ win over Celtics; Rob Gronkowski parties on yacht in Miami

12.30.16 at 8:20 am ET
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Good morning, here is your Friday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS: 
NBA: Miami at Boston, 7:30 p.m. (CSN)
NBA: Milwaukee at Minnesota, 8 p.m. (NBA)
College football: Georgia vs. TCU, 12 p.m. (ESPN)
College football: Stanford vs. North Carolina, 2 p.m. (CBS)
College football: Nebraska vs. Tennessee, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College football: Michigan vs. Florida State, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: West Virginia at Oklahoma State, 4 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Valparaiso at Illinois-Chicago, 5 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: La Salle at Dayton, 6 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Texas Tech at Iowa State, 6 p.m. (ESPNews)
College basketball: Baylor at Oklahoma, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: URI at Saint Louis, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Texas at Kansas State, 8 p.m. (ESPNews)
College basketball: VCU at George Mason, 8 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Kansas at TCU, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: South Carolina at Memphis, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: USC at Oregon, 10 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Arizona at California, 11 p.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

— LeBron James and the Cavaliers beat the Celtics, 124-118, Thursday night, but James didn’t think he played well at all. He blamed himself for Cleveland almost giving up a 20-point lead in the second half of the win.

“I think I was horrible tonight,” James said. “In every facet of the game, I was just pretty bad, and it’s unacceptable. I can’t do that if I want to help this team get to where we want to get to. So if there was a report card, I’d give myself an ‘F’ for tonight’s performance. I’ve just got to be better.”

James committed eight turnovers in the game, two in the fourth quarter, one of which was a pass to Kyrie Irving that Avery Bradley stole before scoring to put the Celtics within three.

“I just didn’t see him, and definitely got to pay attention to what’s going on in the flow of the game,” James said of Bradley and the turnover. “So I was just throwing it back in to Kyrie, and he just jumped it, so if I was paying attention to him, with Avery being the defensive-minded guy he is, I should have seen him. So, big mistake.”

Cleveland’s coach Tyronn Lue called James’ pass “lackadaisical” and said James talked to the team about how badly he played.

“He came to the locker room and the bench and said, ‘My fault. I was terrible tonight. It won’t happen again,’ ” Lue said. “He took credit for it and took blame. And we moved on.”

James blamed his lack of concentration for his subpar play.

“My concentration at different parts of the game [was poor],” James said. “I had eight turnovers, and some of them were just plain stupid turnovers, especially the one that Avery Bradley got in the backcourt. I was just not concentrating on the game, so it’s not always about the statistics or not. It’s about how I go out and I approach the game. So, I was happy that I got two All-Stars alongside me, and I was able to carry us to a win.”

Friday is James’ 32nd birthday.

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2016 Review: WEEI’s most popular columns, blog posts and audio clips of the year

12.29.16 at 4:56 pm ET
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Since everyone has some sort of year-end list, we figured we should probably get in on that. These are the WEEI columns, blog posts and audio on demand clips all of you clicked on the most in 2016. Enjoy.

Top 10 columns

10. Kirk Minihane – Analyze this: Phil Simms worst announcer ever

Remember when Kirk used to write columns? He was quite good at it, as evidenced by this evisceration of a truly terrible announcer.

9. John Tomase – First it was Don Orsillo — will fan favorite Jerry Remy be next to take fall at NESN?

Remy is still standing for now. Let’s see what happens in 2017.

8. DJ Bean – The horrifying (and graphic) story of Jake DeBrusk’s injury

Apparently people really like horrifying (and graphic) stories about testicle injuries. Weirdos.

7. Christopher Price – Industrial justice: Could Deflategate ban ultimately lead to Patriots regaining first-round pick?

Deflategate remained a popular topic in Year 2 of its ridiculous existence. Here Chris explores whether Jimmy Garoppolo played well enough in fill-in duty to bring back a first-round pick in a potential trade.

6. Christopher Price – NFL’s lax cybersecurity shows Tom Brady did right thing not turning over cell phone

I had forgotten about the NFL’s Twitter account getting hacked and announcing that Roger Goodell had died. Classic.

5. Kirk Minihane – Jessica Moran, John Farrell and 3 burning questions

Prediction: Kirk will see this post, be inspired by how well his columns have done and start writing for us again. … Haha, yeah right.

4. Christopher Price – In response to latest PSI rumor, Patriots right to question NFL’s defensive double standard

This is from just a couple weeks ago, after the NFL somehow managed to bring an end to Deflategate II in about 45 minutes.

3. Rob Bradford – Inside story of David Ortiz’s injury: ‘He was essentially playing on stumps’

Everything you’d ever want to know about Big Papi’s feet.

2. John Tomase – Jamie Collins deal latest reminder it’s pointless to question Bill Belichick

As someone who questioned the Collins trade at the time… yep.

1. Kirk Minihane – Enough is enough, Chris Mortensen has to go

Please note that this was published before we all found out about Mort’s cancer. Obviously everyone is glad he’s doing better now, but he’s still a sore subject for Patriots fans.

Was this the year we finally learned our lesson about questioning Bill Belichick? (Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports)

Was this the year we finally learned our lesson about questioning Bill Belichick? (Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports)

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Alcohol delivered to your door?!?!

12.29.16 at 4:55 pm ET
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With New Years Eve and the pro football playoffs almost here, it sure would be great to have the ability to have alcohol delivered right to your door. Wouldn’t it? Well, now you can with Drizly. Isn’t life is all about convenience now — shopping for clothes, groceries, furniture — and shopping for alcohol should not be different. Why couldn’t we get beer delivered when nearly everything else had become so readily available through technology. Enter Drizly.

Drizly works with local stores so you can shop their shelves using your smartphone or computer to order beer, wine and liquor at the touch of a button. You still have to drink it the old fashioned way, though. Check out the quick video below from Rich Keefe to learn more about how easy it is to get alcochol delivered to your door:

You can also watch Rich save the office party:

 

Visit Drizly.com or download their app now.

 

 

THE SERVICES ARE INTENDED SOLELY FOR USERS WHO ARE 21 YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER, AND ANY REGISTRATION, USE OR ACCESS TO THE SERVICES BY ANYONE UNDER 21 IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED AND IN VIOLATION OF THESE TERMS. THIS IS A PAID ADVERTISEMENT.

Reporters ask Jim Harbaugh about bikinis, oranges in odd press conference

12.29.16 at 3:25 pm ET
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DeadspinThe questions for Harbaugh during his media availability were of course thematically appropriate given the name of the game, but some dumbass reporter decided to take the jovial nature of the presser too far, and asked Harbaugh if he had any thoughts on his players not seeing women in bikinis. Harbaugh refused to engage with her line of questioning, which concluded his presser.

Q. I want to get your thoughts on this because you have mentioned that the fun is in the football work and the team unity with the guys being down here with the practicing and everything, but your players are a little disappointed they haven’t seen any bikinis. I’d like to get your thoughts on that.

JIM HARBAUGH: I don’t have any thoughts on that.

Q. They would like to see some bikinis before they leave.

JIM HARBAUGH: I don’t know about that. I don’t know anything about that. I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Q. See the beach.

JIM HARBAUGH: I do not know what you’re talking about.

Q. The beach, the bikinis.

JIM HARBAUGH: Yeah. I don’t know anything about that.

Q. Not on the itinerary?

JIM HARBAUGH: Don’t know what you’re talking about.

This sounds just like a man who knows exactly what that reporter is talking about.

As for the oranges: 

Jim Harbaugh on the #OrangeBowl …….Literally…..#Michigan #FSU #TeamSideline@FCN2go pic.twitter.com/Hvm3MFXIzk


I don’t like the lady who said “I think we’re done with the orange questions.” I could have listened to another ten minutes of that.

Bill Walton wears another tie-dye shirt, gets mad after Oregon fans storm court twice after UCLA upset

12.29.16 at 10:36 am ET
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MediaiteRushing the court has become ridiculously commonplace in college basketball these days. It’s become so common, in fact, that on Wednesday night, Oregon fans did it twice in the same game — much to the chagrin of Bill Walton, who was calling the action for ESPN2.

With his team down 87-86 in the final seconds of their game against No. 2 ranked UCLA, Oregon’s Dillon Brooks pulled up at the top of the key and nailed a 3-pointer with the clock showing no time remaining.

The Oregon fans, believing the game was over, stormed the court in celebration. Only, the game wasn’t over. The referees put nearly a full second back on the clock after a video review of Brooks’s shot.

Walton, meanwhile, was livid about the fans being on the court.

“This is unacceptable and not safe,” Walton said.

The discussion between Walton and play-by-play man Roxy Bernstein centered around whether a technical foul should’ve been called on Oregon. Bernstein seemed to assert that because UCLA’s player had not inbounded the ball, play hadn’t been interrupted. Walton wasn’t having it.

“If you can call a technical, I mean, the ball doesn’t have to be in bounds!” Walton said.

The rule would seem to say that Walton was right and wrong. The ball didn’t have to be inbounded, but again, the clock showed no time left. The game appeared to be over.

Eventually, the court was cleared. UCLA failed to score when play resumed, and the Ducks were finally credited with the victory.

“The PAC 12, conference of champions, cannot let this happen. They’ve instituted new rules and procedures to prevent this,” Walton also said, and he would know because he was wearing a pink PAC 12 “Conference of Champions” tie-dye shirt on national television.

This is nothing new, though. Here is a quick tour of his previous tie-dye shirts:

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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Richard Sherman cancels weekly press conference, calls it a ‘privilege'; Buccaneers RB Doug Martin suspended for violating NFL drug policy

12.29.16 at 8:09 am ET
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Good morning, here is your Thursday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Boston at Cleveland, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Dallas at LA Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
NHL: Boston at Buffalo, 7 p.m. (NESN)
NHL: New Jersey at Washington, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
College football: South Florida vs. South Carolina, 2 p.m. (ESPN)
College football: Arkansas vs. Virginia Tech, 5:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College football: Oklahoma State vs. Colorado, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
Women’s college basketball: Connecticut at Maryland, 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Butler at St. John’s, 7 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Georgia at Auburn, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Kentucky at Mississippi, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Vanderbilt at LSU, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Saint Mary’s at Loyola Marymount, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)

AROUND THE WEB:

— Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman used his weekly press conference to take aim at the media for the second week in a row, but this time he did so by canceling the presser altogether.

On Wednesday Sherman called off his weekly media event, telling reporters at his locker they take him and his media availability for granted.

“I’m just going to make sure people — it’s a privilege to have me up there,” Sherman said. “You’re going to miss me when I’m gone.”

This comes just one week after Sherman threatened to ruin Seattle radio host Jim Moore’s career after Moore asked Sherman about his criticism of the coaching staff’s play-calling decisions.

This was the first time this season Sherman canceled his weekly press conference.

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Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Doug Martin, Richard Sherman,

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: UConn fires football coach Bob Diaco; Dez Bryant throws 1st career TD pass

12.27.16 at 8:38 am ET
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Good morning, here is your Tuesday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

TUESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL:
 Boston at Columbus, 7 p.m. (NESN)
NBA: Memphis at Boston, 7:30 p.m. (CSN)
NBA: Oklahoma City at Miami, 7:30 p.m. (NBATV)
NBA: Utah at LA Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (NBATV)
College football: Army vs. North Texas, 12 p.m. (ESPN)
College football: Temple vs. Wake Forest, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College football: Minnesota vs. Washington State, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College football: Boise State vs. Baylor, 10:15 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Northwestern at Penn State, 3 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Illinois at Maryland, 5 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Kent State at Texas, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Rutgers at Wisconsin, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Michigan State at Minnesota, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: SMU at Memphis, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)

AROUND THE WEB:

— The University of Connecticut announced Monday the school has fired football coach Bob Diaco, effective Jan. 2.

The move follows the team’s dismal season full of blowout losses culminating in a 3-9 record. The Huskies lost their final six games of the season and were 1-7 against AAC foes. Diaco was the coach for three seasons, posting a record of 11-26.

“I believe a new leader for our program and student-athletes is needed to build long-term success,” UConn athletic director David Benedict said in a statement. “I am grateful to Coach Diaco and his staff for their hard work and the integrity with which they ran the program and certainly wish them future success. … I know this may come as a surprise to our fans and supporters given the timing of this decision. However, it became apparent to me that a change in program direction is necessary at this time.”

The university owes Diaco a $3.4 million buyout. If the school had waited until Jan. 2 to fire him, he would only be owed $800,000.

Diaco signed his five-year, $9.5 million contract with UConn last May.

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Read More: Bob Diaco, Dez Bryant, University of Connecticut,

Thanks to Rob Gronkowski, ‘Oh my banana swirl’ is bound to become next big celebration

12.26.16 at 6:44 pm ET
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Rob Gronkowski has unique powers. We have come to understand that, both on and off the field.

But, thanks to a video of a young fan’s reaction after receiving a signed jersey from the Patriots’ tight end, we now may have the next big celebratory verbal spike: “Oh my banana swirl!”

(To view Instragram post, click here.)

We can’t confirm or deny that the folks at The Clam Bake restaurant in Fort Myers, Fla. had a similar reaction upon receiving Gronk’s greeting to the “Claim Bake” on their own autographed jersey …

(To view photo of Tweet, click here.)

Thinking out loud: Should we be happy Clay Buchholz was traded?

12.24.16 at 10:29 am ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud…while wondering why we still hate Christian Laettner.

— Are we happier that Clay “couldn’t care less” Buchholz has been traded to the Phillies because of the obvious salary dump, or because it’s more of an insanity dump? Let’s face it, every time he took the mound, it was like having a cavity filled without Novocain.

— But is there more to come in the aftermath of his departure? Our buddy Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe suggests as much, that the dispatching of Buchholz’ $13.5 million salary might – might – set the table for a big(ger) bat to enter the picture. Maybe even Ortiz’ bat?

— Edwin Encarnacion is off to Cleveland. But some bats need to appear from somewhere. With all of that pitching, to not have the offense to go along would be like giving a Porsche a tune-up, but forgetting to fill the gas tank.

— Were Tom Brady’s demons exorcised with the Patriots’ win over the Broncos in Denver? Nah. All good players have their trouble spots, and Denver certainly hasn’t been an oasis for Brady. But to the team – it felt good to slap those guys at least once, after getting slapped themselves twice a year ago.

— But is the defense really that good? Well, yes and no. The Broncos’ ineptitude on offense helped. But the Patriots are beginning to make plays – and they are better at getting off the field on 3rd downs. Execution at both ends are two trends that will need to continue for a run to Super Bowl LI.

— J-E-T-S? Just End The Suffering. That is all.

— It’s easy to say you wouldn’t sign Michael Floyd after seeing the video(s) emerge of his DUI arrest in Arizona. Bill Belichick did say this week they had seen everything they needed to see before adding him to NE’s roster. Does Floyd need some help? Sure. Perhaps some stability with his employment is part of the path he needs to travel.

— But there is a big difference in saying the right things – which Floyd did this week – and in doing them. It’s up to Michael Floyd to take the next step. No one can push him in the direction he should travel, that’s entirely up to him.

— There’s also this compensatory pick thing, if Floyd leaves in free agency, the Patriots will receive if things don’t work out with him. Shrewd is BB’s middle name.

— What is this? Someone else guilty of ch-ch-cheating in the NFL? What else would you call the New York Giants’ use of walkie-talkies during their win two weeks ago, against Dallas? It’s against the rules, no matter the situation – as the Giants had a malfunction with their headsets at the time.

— The NFL fined the Giants $150,000 and hit coach Ben McAdoo – who certainly should have known the rules, right? – with another $50K punishment.

— A fourth-round draft pick in 2017 has also been moved to the end of the round after any compensatory picks. Ok, so it’s not Deflategate-worthy, but this shows two things – one, that teams still do whatever they can to gain an edge. And two, the NFL isn’t completely biased against the Patriots. Equal opportunity punishment?

— Notice use of the word “completely” in the above sentence.

— LeGarrette Blount. Malcolm Butler. Nate Ebner. Marcus Cannon. Four Patriots’ who might have a beef over the Pro Bowl selections this week. But if you ask me, the entire team may have been snubbed with just four picks for the honor (TB12, Dont’a Hightower, Devin McCourty, Matthew Slater). Why?

— Not for nuthin’, but don’t the Patriots have the best record in the NFL (along with Dallas)? And only four guys get the nod? Maybe that’s because no one expects any of them to actually play in this farcical sporting event, held in Orlando next month.

— Did you see where the Seahawks’ Richard “Big Mouth” Sherman threatened a member of Seattle’s media this week, just because he didn’t like the question he was asked? “I’ll ruin your career,” was what Sherman told the ESPN 710 radio reporter, threatening to have his credentials revoked.

— Oh, Richard. Threatening the media is never a good idea. Quite the contrary, because in this day and age it only takes two seconds to go viral, smart guy. He later apologized, sort of, via Twitter. “I appreciate the role the media plays and they have a tough job. I let it get personal today and I regret that.”

— You know, I always thought the only dumb questions out there were the ones that don’t get asked?

— The story out there this week on the San Diego security guard fired from his job at Qualcomm Stadium because he was, uh, pleasuring himself while on the field in front of thousands at a Chargers’ game? Wrong on so many levels.

— But we’ll start with this – what could he have possibly found pleasurable about watching the San Diego Chargers? Aren’t they moving to Los Angeles, anyway? Just sayin’.

— This weeks’ “grumpy ol’ man gripe session” features two young men, Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey and LSU’s Leonard Fournette, who are undoubtedly talented football players with a ton of professional potential in front of them. That they’ve both chosen to sit out their team’s bowl games to “prepare for the draft” is yet but another sign that an athletic apocalypse is right on our doorstep.

— And it is the NCAA who is ultimately to blame. Sure, everyone needs to be accountable for oneself, and in today’s world of immediate gratification, why would we expect anyone in this age bracket (looking at you, millennials) to behave differently?

— When the collegiate poohbahs grabbed the dough, all right-minded, selfless thinking went out the window. And that’s what these two players are doing – giving up on team, principles, commitment, all that rah-rah stuff they’ve been taught for years – that WE’VE been taught for years – to move into the business of pro football.

— You reap what you sew. Or sow. Oink.

— You’ve heard the saying “there is no ‘I’ in T-E-A-M?” Well, there ain’t no WE, either.

— We may as well drop all bowl games short of the big-money playoffs. Bowl games, once a reward for a good season, are only so much cannon-fodder and obscure cable-channel programming these days and are barely noticed outside of the New Year.

— When do players start to quit on the NCAA basketball tournament because they need to get ready for the pros? That day is coming, because college coaches have long been able to “quit” on teams to jump to other jobs with little-to-no real repercussion.

— True amateurism in this country died in 1984, as far as I can tell, when the Olympic Games were marketed and sold like no event had been sold previously. To keep taxpayers from paying more than their fair share (a noble thought), “sports business” bought and sold our athletic souls along the way, replete with all the requisite sportsmanship ideals that are a part of our younger, innocent days. It shows that the almighty buck is the ultimate winner in these endeavors.

— We should have seen this coming.

— Before the season started, if you had told me the Providence Friars would have 10 wins (or more) before Big East play began, I would have told you to put down whatever it was you were drinking. And give me some of it.

— While PC has forged a new identity for the most part – through a thorough buy-in to defense – several individuals have also grown considerably in stature, if not in size.

— Kyron Cartwright has developed into a top-flight, Big East-caliber point guard. Jalen Lindsey is an elite defender. Emmitt Holt is tough and talented in the middle. And Rodney Bullock, as unassuming as he may sometimes appear to be, is lethal as a scorer and potential go-to guy.

— Just when we may have thought this team, this program, was a year or two away from being a part of March Madness again – they’re right back in the discussion for this year. That’s not just the mark of a good a team, you know. It’s the mark of a good a program.

— The Friars’ turning heads and potential tail-whoopin’ of foes this season should make for an interesting conference schedule, certainly. But they’ll have to go out there and earn it. The Big East has a history of eating its’ young in league play before they’re ready, in case you haven’t been paying attention.

— Talking about turning some heads, I mentioned recently the rapid descent of the once-vaunted Syracuse program – and was quickly chastised by a reader who reminded me “they were in the Final Four last year, weren’t they?” Yes, they were. I was there.

— But this year’s Syracuse team isn’t even a shell of the team on the floor last year, as I said. As evidence, I present to you a stunning, shocking 93-60 defeat to St. John’s at the Carrier Dome this week. St. John’s? Yup. Worst loss in the 36-year history of the Carrier Dome – by one of the worst teams (for now) in the Big East.

— Told ya’. St. John’s had beaten only one team with a winning record before squeezing the Orange. This Syracuse team isn’t good. All that traveling down Tobacco Road has been bad for their health.

— Our friend Edward, the women’s hoop nut, will be watching this – Fox Sports will be offering an all-access game in the Big East between St. John’s and Seton Hall on Dec. 30. The coaches will be mic’d up – LIVE – and no commercials. That’s right, no commercials, live on the sidelines, live in the huddles and even live in the locker rooms. Fox Sports Go will also stream dedicated cameras of each of the coaches with live audio.

— Will actions ever meet expectations for the URI Rams? Perhaps, now that Atlantic-10 play is at hand. But most assuredly, if Hassan Martin is able to find his way back into the lineup. His toughness and ability are a part of the Rams’ fiber. Next up, Saint Louis Dec. 30.

— Tough homecoming, of sorts, for former Rhode Island College head coach and PC assistant Bob Walsh this week. His Maine Black Bears did a lot of scrapping in a 79-59 loss to Providence Tuesday, and succumbed to a 55-point second half by Brown in an 82-77 loss to the Bears Thursday.

— More examples this week of just how tough times remain in the media business, with two familiar names (and friends) let go from CSNNE – Bob Neumeier and Sean McAdam. Word has it that more changes are coming from Comcast, partially as a result of the trickle-down effects of “unbundling” cable channels from your service. And all you’re trying to do is save a few bucks. Bet you didn’t know that.

— My buddy “Big E” sez he has a friend who is a government employee, and out of sheer boredom, decided to do some rummaging in an old file cabinet he found buried in his building’s basement. To his surprise, he found what looked like an old, brass lamp – so for kicks, he took it home.

— Wouldn’t you know, while polishing it, a genie jumped out and granted him three wishes. First, he wished for an ice-cold drink – and the genie delivered. Next, while sipping the drink, he asked to be on an island with beautiful women all lusting after him. Again, the genie delivered, with several beauties staring at him in admiration. Finally, the guy told the genie “I wish I’d never have to work again.”

— And just like that, he was back in his government office.

— Watching Duke’s Grayson Allen trip another player this week – for a 3rd time in the past year – and reading the fallout immediately set my thoughts to the most-hated Blue Devil of all time. It has to be Christian Laettner, doesn’t it? Laettner hit one of college basketball’s most iconic shots (at least before Villanova’s Kris Jenkins hit his national title game-winner last April) when he beat Kentucky at the buzzer in 1992’s NCAA Regional Finals. He had stepped on a Kentucky player during the game that started the “hate” – which still flows today. ESPN produced a 30-for-30 documentary on why he’s reviled – I Hate Christian Laettner.

— Perhaps, however, he’s hated simply because he was good? Laettner was a college player of the year, was elected into both the Basketball Hall of Fame and the US Olympic Hall of Fame, and was the only collegiate player selected for the original “Dream Team” back in ’92. Today, he’s retired from basketball, but still into fishing, real estate and youth basketball camps.

— Nick in Las Vegas, Nevada posted on Facebook this week, on the Patriots’ play without Gronk: “I, for one, am at least a little amazed that they are performing this consistently without the Gronk. I understand, at least, I thought I understood more so than anyone how watered down the league is, but we also know that it’s never easy.” Nick: Replacing Rob Gronkowski is an impossible task. That the Patriots have been able to overcome (for now) his absence is due to the overall talent the team possesses, and the abilities of the players and coaches to game plan around his absence. Would they love to have him back? Of course. Can they win without him? Of course. To say they wouldn’t is to discredit a deep and still-talented roster.

— Here’s hoping you have a very Merry Christmas holiday season! It’s not much in the way of a gift, really, but your reading, following and commenting are greatly appreciated. Exchanging views is one of the best gifts we can give each other.

— Interested in having your questions on local Rhode Island sports (and yes, that includes the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? Send ‘em to me! It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments and local stories to john.rooke@weei.com. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke …

Don’t forget to tune into Providence’s 103.7 FM, every Saturday from 7:00-9:00 am for Southern New England Sports Saturday! Call in at 401-737-1287 or text us at 37937.

Friday’s Morning Mashup: Edwin Encarnacion signs with Indians; Heat retires Shaquille O’Neal’s jersey

12.23.16 at 9:36 am ET
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Good morning, here is your Friday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL: Boston at Carolina, 7:30 p.m. (NESN)
NBA: Oklahoma City at Boston, 7:30 p.m. (CSN; NBATV)
NBA: Dallas at LA Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (NBATV)
College football: Eastern Michigan vs. Old Dominion, 1 p.m. (ESPN)
College football:Louisiana Tech vs. Navy, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College football: Ohio vs. Troy 8 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Providence at Boston College, 4 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Harvard at Houston, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Auburn at UConn, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Tulsa at San Diego State, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Rutgers at Seton Hall, 6:30 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Arkansas State at Minnesota, 7 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: DePaul at Missouri State, 8:30 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Florida A&M at Wisconsin, 9 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
College basketball: San Francisco at Illinois State, 10 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Wyoming at USC, 11 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

— The Indians have signed free agent Edwin Encarnacion to a three-year, $60 million deal, pending a physical, ESPN confirmed.

The deal also includes a $20 million fourth year club option or a $5 million buyout.

Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis tweeted this after the deal was finalized:

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