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ESPN is dedicating its weekend to worshipping Derek Jeter

05.12.17 at 3:51 pm ET
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Derek Jeter's number will be retired this weekend.  (Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports)

The Yankees will retire Derek Jeter’s number this weekend. (Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports)

Few events will ever be more insufferable than the season-long Derek Jeter retirement tour the Yankees put everyone through three years ago. But the build up to his number retirement ceremony may come close.

The Yankees are placing Jeter’s No. 2 in Monument Park Sunday, along with 23 other franchise greats. The ceremony will take place prior to their Sunday night contest against the Astros on ESPN, which will provide coverage every step of the way. Check out the nauseating weekend rundown of programming, courtesy of Awful Announcing:

Friday: ESPN.com will promote the top 10 moments of Jeter’s career

Saturday: ESPN’s Yankees beat reporter, Andrew Marchand, will produce a piece on the only single-digit number the Yankees haven’t retired, No. 0.

Sunday Morning: “SportsCenter” anchor Sarina Morales will be live at Yankee Stadium starting at 8:00 a.m.

Sunday Afternoon: ESPN will air a “SportsCenter” special devoted to Jeter’s career at 3:00 p.m.

Sunday Pre-Game: A special 6:00 p.m. edition of “Baseball Tonight” will feature a live look-in at the number retirement ceremony. Clips from Karl Ravech’s interview with Jeter will air.

Sunday Night Baseball: There will likely be plenty of Jeter ass-kissing. Former Yankees skipper Joe Torre will sit in the booth as well.

Jeter, of course, is one of the greatest shortstops of all-time and won five champions with the Yankees. He deserves to be lauded for his greatness. But there’s a fine line between adulation and hero worship. And much like the coverage he received during his career, ESPN seems poised to cross the line this weekend.

But at least there won’t be a fake Aretha Franklin serenading him with “RE2PECT” –– we think.

Read More: Derek Jeter, ESPN,

Tom Brady posts Instagram video denouncing Madden Curse

05.12.17 at 2:20 pm ET
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Tom Brady posted this video on Instagram on Friday in response to being Madden NFL 18’s cover boy in which he follows up on his initial comments dispelling the belief there is a Madden Curse. And it freaked me out.

Try to watch Brady smash a mirror and walk under a ladder without internally screaming, “No Tom!”

This proves nothing. If he stays healthy until the season starts and then throughout the season, then we’ll see. But until then be careful, Tom.

Read More: Tom Brady,

Aaron Hernandez’s fiancee says she doesn’t think he killed himself

05.12.17 at 12:52 pm ET
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Aaron Hernandez's fiancee says she doesn't think he killed himself last month. (The Sun Chronicle/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

Aaron Hernandez’s fiancee says she doesn’t think he killed himself last month. (The Sun Chronicle/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

Aaron Hernandez’s fiancee will appear on Dr. Phil next week. In the two-part interview, she casts doubt on the state’s ruling that the disgraced ex-NFL star committed suicide.

During an appearance Friday on NBC’s “Today,” Dr. Phil McGraw previewed his highly anticipated sit-down chat with Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez, who testified in both of her fiancee’s murder trials. “She does not believe he killed himself, surprisingly, because the evidence is pretty overwhelming,” he said.

Massachusetts authorities released the full report on Hernandez’s death last week, saying the former Patriots tight end hanged himself in his prison cell April 19 at Souza Baranowski Correction Center in Shirley. He was found naked at 3:00 a.m. with the biblical verse “John 3:16″ written in ink on his forehead and in a “substance consistent with blood” on the walls. There was also a cut on Hernandez’s finger and a “large circular blood mark on both of his feet.”

Jenkins-Hernandez told McGraw she thought it was a “hoax” when prison officials called to inform her about the suicide. In their last phone conversation, she said Hernandez seemed excited about the prospect of coming home. He was acquitted of double-murder charges five days before his passing and was appealing his first-degree murder conviction for the 2013 Odin Lloyd shooting.

“He was very positive, so excited to come home,” she said. “I spoke to him the night before and he was so, you know, ‘Daddy’s going to be home, and I can’t wait to sleep in bed with you guys, and I can’t wait to just hold you and love you.'”

Jose Baez, Hernandez’s attorney, has vowed to conduct an investigation into his death. In a statement, he said he thinks the Hernandez family is owed an “independent and thorough” inquiry.

In addition to the police report, there’s strong circumstantial evidence that Hernandez planned to kill himself. Prior to his death, an inmate told authorities Hernandez had mentioned the obscure Massachusetts law that voids a defendant’s convictions if he doesn’t exhaust all of his legal appeals upon his passing. In a note addressed to Jenkins-Hernandez found in his cell, he wrote, “YOU’RE RICH!” –– an apparent reference to the abatement rule. Judge Susan Garsh, who sentenced Hernandez to life in prison two years ago, vacated the verdict earlier this week.

Prosecutors say they’re appealing the ruling.

Read More: Aaron Hernandez,

Ratings for ‘SC:6′ with Jemele Hill and Michael Smith are tumbling

05.12.17 at 11:48 am ET
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Jemele Hill and Michael Smith are seeing their viewership numbers tumble.  (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Jemele Hill and Michael Smith are seeing their viewership numbers decline. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

ESPN’s “The Six” with Jemele Hill and Michael Smith is one of the most promoted shows on the network. Despite that, ratings are tumbling.

The Big Lead published a breakdown of “SC:6’s” viewership numbers this week, comparing it to the 6:00 p.m. “SportsCenter” hosted by Lindsay Czarniak that aired during the same time slot last year. Though the program enjoyed modest gains in three of its first four weeks –– viewership increased by 2.67 percent from Feb. 13 – Feb. 27 –– it’s fallen ever since. Since March, the show is down an average of 12.6 percent compared to last year’s figures.

To be fair, ratings are down across the board for ESPN’s afternoon block of programming. Pardon the Interruption” has been hit especially hard, with viewership totals declining an average of 13.7 percent compared to 2016.

Since PTI leads into “SC:6,” Hill and Smith are drawing viewers to ESPN. They’re also attracting a more diverse audience. Yahoo Finance reported two weeks ago the 6:00 p.m. “SportsCenter” has increased its reach among black viewers ages 18-34 by 15 percent over last year. On the whole, the show’s audience is 41 percent black.

Those numbers are probably important to ESPN, considering the network’s emphasis on diversity. But on the whole, the show’s lackluster performance must be viewed as a disappointment.

What’s especially concerning is “SC:6’s” failure to attract viewers when big events are going on. The debut episode, which aired on the Monday after the Super Bowl, saw a 19 percent audience drop compared to last year. Programs that aired before or after the first two rounds of the Masters, NFL Draft and NCAA men’s basketball conference championships experienced an average viewership decline of 19.6 percent.

The reviews for “SC:6″ have been harsh as well. Yahoo Finance writer Daniel Roberts noted recently that roughly half of the 3,000 comments on a story about ESPN layoffs were people advocating for the firing of Smith and Hill.

One of the show’s most ardent critics has been WEEI’s Kirk Minihane, who rails against the program’s politically correct tone. Last month, Hill said she wants to meet Minihane “face to face.”

Read More: ESPN, Jemele Hill,

Friday’s Morning Mashup: MLB investigating Dodgers treatment of Nick Francona; NBA team asks draft prospect how he wants to die

05.12.17 at 9:18 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:
MLB:
Tampa Bay at Boston, 7:10 p.m. (NESN, WEEI)
MLB: Chicago Cubs at St. Louis, 8 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA: NBA Draft Combine, 3 p.m. (ESPN2)
NBA: Boston at Washington, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL: Nashville at Anaheim, 9 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

— The Dodgers are under investigation by Major League Baseball for allegations of discrimination against Nick Francona, who is a war veteran and son of Terry Francona, after the team terminated his contract last year.

Francona sent a letter to MLB saying he believes the team phased him out of his job as assistant director of player development after he sought help at Home Base, an organization in the Boston-area that helps veterans with the psychological issues stemming from war.

MLB’s Department of Investigations looked into the situation and the Dodgers denied the claim that Francona’s service was a reason for terminating his contract in March 2016.

In his letter, Francona placed much of the blame on Gabe Kapler, former Red Sox player and Dodgers director of player development, and accused Kapler and others of discriminatory practices after they removed him from his position and offered him a different role in research and development with the same salary. After Francona declined the new position, the team told him he could resign or be terminated. He chose termination.

Kapler declined to comment but the Dodgers released a statement on the situation:

“The Dodgers cannot comment on the specific facts or reasons leading to a former employee’s departure from the organization. However, we can categorically state that Nick Francona’s departure was not the result of any type of discrimination, and it certainly was not the result of his being a veteran. This was confirmed by an investigation conducted by independent outside counsel. The Dodgers have the utmost admiration and respect for all of the men and women who serve or have served in the armed forces, and we are very proud of the veterans whom we employ.”

After graduation from Wharton School of Business, Francona joined the Marines in 2009 and did a tour of duty in Afghanistan. He was discharged as a captain and joined the Angels in 2014 as a liaison between coaches and the front office. Francona then moved on to the Dodgers to work in player development.

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It sure looks like Colin Kaepernick is blackballed from the NFL

05.11.17 at 2:19 pm ET
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Colin Kaepernick is still jobless. (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Colin Kaepernick is still jobless. (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Colin Kaepernick can’t get a job in the NFL. But the quarterback whom he replaced can. The blackball appears to be on.

The Cardinals signed Blaine Gabbert this week, despite his astounding lack of success at the professional level. The 2011 first-round pick went 1-4 through five weeks last season, throwing for five touchdowns and six interceptions while posting a measly 68.4 passer-rating. Kaepernick reclaimed his starting job Oct. 11, and though the 49ers didn’t fare any better while he was under center (1-10), they received much better play at the quarterback position. Kaepernick posted a 90.7 QB rating in 2016, more than 20 points north of Gabbert’s mark.

Gabbert, who flamed out with the Jaguars before arriving in San Francisco, has never won more than four games in a season as a starting quarterback. Kaepernick, meanwhile, led the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and NFC championship game in 2013.

With the 37-year-old Carson Palmer entering the final year of his contract, the Cardinals must start thinking about finding a replacement –– especially given Palmer’s extensive injury history. While Kaepernick isn’t a traditional pocket passer, he’s the best remaining option on the market. But Arizona opted to sign perhaps the worst quarterback available instead.

Kaepernick isn’t a surefire starter at this stage in his career. Since 2014, he’s completed just 59.7 percent of his passes and posted an 85.9 QB rating. The 49ers have gone 11-24 in games he’s started.

But in a QB-starved league, where Mike Glennon and Josh McCown will compete for starting jobs this year, Kaepernick curiously doesn’t even appear to be on anybody’s radar. According to Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News, no team has seriously pursued him. That contradicts an ESPN report from two months ago, which says Kaepernick is holding out for a starting job and $10 million per year. A quarterback can’t demand to start if teams won’t meet with him.

In his column, Kawakami dispels several disparaging rumors about Kaepernick that are floating around. For starters, Kawakami says Kaepernick is back up to his playing weight from 2013, debunking the silly notion that his vegan diet is the reason he’s unemployed.

On Monday, The MMQB’s Peter King reported some 49ers officials think Kaepernick wants to retire from football so he can pursue social justice work full-time. As proof, they cite his new residence in Manhattan and interest in charitable work –– such as when he donated 100 suits to a parole office in Queens. Kawakami pushes back against that, too, writing that Kaepernick continues to work out five days per week.

Whenever a negative story about Kaepernick arises –– his unreasonable contractual demands, emaciating vegan diet –– they come from anonymous league sources. It’s almost as if there’s a sweeping PR campaign across the NFL, with executives hellbent on sullying his reputation.

It’s understandable if teams don’t want to welcome the immense media scrutiny Kaepernick brings with him. But he was far from a distraction for the 49ers last season. In fact, his teammates voted him as the club’s most inspiring player. They’ve also expressed disbelief he remains unemployed.

Jay Cutler, another veteran quarterback with considerable baggage, recently accepted a job at Fox because he couldn’t find work in the NFL. But his story is different than Kaepernick’s. Cutler, who’s almost universally disliked, is coming off shoulder surgery. At 34 years old, it’s fair to wonder whether he can physically play anymore. Though Kaepernick, 29, went through a round of surgeries last year, he didn’t miss a single game due to injury in 2016.

He also finished the season on a high note, posting a 100.1 QB rating over the final four weeks.

But with each passing day, it seems increasingly unlikely Kaepernick will find work before training camp. Meanwhile, inferior quarterbacks keep getting signed, and anonymous league sources continue to badmouth him.

Kaepernick may not be blackballed, but it sure looks like it.

Read More: Colin Kaepernick,

CSN Wizards make a dumb Spygate joke after Celtics Game 5 win

05.11.17 at 12:41 pm ET
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NESN — The Boston Celtics handled the Washington Wizards in Game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead, but someone’s presence in the TD Garden crowd made the away team a little suspicious.

Bill Belichick is elusive when it comes to the media, but it’s not out of the ordinary to see him and other members of the New England Patriots at Celtics games. So when Boston forward Jae Crowder mentioned that the team was familiar with the Wizards’ plays after the 123-101 win, CSN Wizards tried to get to the bottom of things with a Spygate joke.

Of course, the Celtics and Wizards play four games against each other every season in addition to the soon-to-be six playoff games this series, so both teams are well aware of each other’s style of play. That likely won’t stop Celtics fans from clapping back at CSN’s joke, though.

REAL ORIGINAL, CSN WIZARDS.

This joke was clearly in jest and there is no need for Patriot Nation to go to all-out war with CSN’s Wizards account.

The social media person is likely getting some pats on the back today for this troll job but Crowder basically handed them this material. Then all they had to do was connect the dots between this and Belichick being at the game and bada boom you have a weak Spygate joke, which is redundant because all Spygate jokes are weak. A joke about Belichick’s outfit would’ve been better because what was he thinking?

Derek Jeter reportedly ‘angry’ over CNBC interview with A-Rod

05.11.17 at 11:29 am ET
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Yahoo SportsThere still appears to be some bad blood between former New York Yankees stars Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. Though a number of years have passed since they’ve played together, the two still haven’t buried the hatchet just yet.

That much was evident during a recent CNBC interview. Jeter and Rodriguez appeared together, but things quickly turned awkward when the questions focused on their personal relationship and not the charities they were trying to promote.

The usually calm Jeter seemed pretty irked during the segment, and now we know why. Jeter had no idea Rodriguez would be involved in the interview and was reportedly “beside himself angry” when he found out.

That report comes courtesy of ESPN’s Dan Le Batard, who made the following comment during his radio show on Wednesday, according to Business Insider.

“I actually learned, factually, that Jeter was beside himself angry at that interview he had to do with Alex Rodriguez, first and foremost, because nobody told him he’d have to be sitting there next to Alex Rodriguez,” Le Batard said on his radio show.

I’m going to look past the fact that this is coming from Le Batard and believe this is true. It’s obvious. I wrote about this before, but Jeter looks more annoyed than he’s ever been in his life sitting next to A-Rod. Not to mention having to deal with this CNBC interviewer, who is a complete joke. Wouldn’t you be pissed too if you were ambushed on national television by your worst enemy?

I love this interview so much I bookmarked it so I can watch it when I’m sad. It’s hysterical. I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s the greatest thing CNBC has ever done.

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis says no way Ray Allen apologizes to former Celtics teammates; Jeremy Lin says he heard racial slurs while playing college basketball

05.11.17 at 9:39 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:
MLB:
 Kansas City at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Boston at Milwaukee, 1:10 p.m. (NESN, WEEI)
MLB: Houston at NY Yankees, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA: NBA Draft Combine, 3 p.m. (ESPN2)
NBA: San Antonio at Houston, 8 p.m. (ESPN)

AROUND THE WEB:

— During an appearance on Undisputed Wednesday morning, Glen “Big Baby” Davis said Ray Allen will never apologize to his former Celtics teammates for the way he defected to the Heat. He believes there’s a “better chance of [Allen] kissing Donald Trump on the mouth.”

“Ray is never going to say that,” Davis added.

Davis’ real beef, however, is with his former coach Doc Rivers. While discussing his appearance on Kevin Garnett’s “Area 21″ TV segment during which Rivers showed up as a surprise guest, Davis got into his feelings for the former Celtics coach and his uncomfortable reaction to seeing him.

“I was shocked,” Davis said. “That was like a reality TV show.”

Davis has in the past called Rivers “overrated” and did not respond well to a fat joke Rivers made at his expense.

“That was typical Doc,” Davis said. “He ain’t got nothing to do but rag on the fat kid.”

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Read More: Glen Davis, Jeremy Lin,

Former Patriots linebacker on the NFL: ‘They don’t care about you’

05.10.17 at 4:33 pm ET
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The NFL continues to come under fire for its treatment of ex-players. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

The NFL continues to come under fire for its treatment of ex-players. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

Nick Buoniconti has lived an incredible life. The Springfield native played linebacker in the NFL for 14 seasons, including seven for his hometown Patriots from 1962-68, and was a part of the Dolphins’ undefeated team in 1972. He entered the corporate world after his playing career was over, serving as an agent to Andre Dawson, Bucky Dent and other baseball players.

But now, at 76 years old, Buoniconti’s mind and body are failing. He can’t knot a tie or dry off his back with a towel. His left-handed is almost useless and he frequently visits the emergency room. In a feature story by Sports Illustrated’s S.L. Price, Buoniconti recalls an instance in which he yelled about killing himself after he had fallen down a flight of stairs.

Thanks to a successful life in business, Buoniconti has enough money to pay for his medical procedures. But the same can’t be said for tens of thousands of other ex-players, who are left to wither away.

“I feel for these guys,” Buoniconti said. “They have no direction. It’s not fair that you make the league all this money, and they don’t care about you anymore. You think they care about a player who no longer can contribute to their financial success? Come on.”

Last year, the NFL officially reached its $1 billion settlement with the estimated 20,000 players who sued the league for its negligent handling of head trauma and concussions. But it doesn’t cover CTE, which can only be diagnosed posthumously at this point.

Buoniconti says the arrangement is unacceptable.

“We’re the players who built the game, but have been forgotten,” he said. “The settlement is a joke; the way it was structured is a joke. They are waiting for us to die. They’re going to play the clock out until everybody dies.”

 

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