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WATCH: Manny Ramirez hit a double for his new Japanese team 03.17.17 at 9:41 am ET
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Manny Ramirez is more than a special attraction for his new Japanese ball club. He can still rake.

The now-44-year-old slugger stepped up to the plate Thursday for the Kōchi Fighting Dogs of the Shikoku Island League Plus. He promptly smacked a double to center field.

Details of Ramirez’s contract were revealed earlier this week. In addition to being entitled to unlimited sushi, he’ll have access to his own hotel suite for away games and Mercedes with a personal driver. Practices are optional as well.

Ramirez, who will wear a No. 99 jersey with “Manny” stitched on the back, last played at the Major League level in 2011. The Cubs hired him in 2014 to serve as a hitting consultant.

(h/t @BenBadler)

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Max Kellerman’s 3 stupidest Patriots hot takes 03.16.17 at 4:23 pm ET
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It feels dirty to write about Max Kellerman. The “First Take” co-host is the most transparent troll on sports television, surpassing the man he replaced, Skip Bayless. Those who grant him attention, even if it’s negative, are giving him exactly what he wants –– and thus encouraging him to continue.

But even feigned stupidity deserves to be called out. And Kellerman, who over the last year has predicted Tom Brady’s imminent demise and Bill Belichick’s forthcoming retirement, is in a class all by himself. Ever since taking over for Bayless, he’s spouted a bevy of insane Patriots hot takes. The three most ridiculous are below:

1) Tom Brady ‘will be a bum in short order

Roughly six months after Kellerman predicted the end of Brady’s career, the Patriots quarterback led his team on the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. Brady completed 21-of-27 passes in the fourth quarter and overtime against the Falcons, spearheading the 25-point come-from-behind victory.

With five Lombardi Trophies and four Super Bowl MVPs on his resume, there’s little question Brady is the greatest of all-time. And the scary part is, he’s never been better. Brady led the AFC in passer-rating last season at 39 years old.

Kellerman, who said last summer Brady is “just about done,” couldn’t look more ridiculous right now. His obtuseness was highlighted in the second quarter of Super Bowl LI, when he took a premature victory lap on Twitter.

In the immediate aftermath of Brady’s late-game heroics, one would think Kellerman would’ve admitted defeat on ESPN the next day. But instead, he doubled-down.

“Tom Brady threw a pick six in yesterday’s game, and tried to throw a couple more –– two or three more in the second half of a tight game,” he said. “Look, I love Eli Manning. He’s an incredible clutch performer. But Giants fans know, you need to get lucky as well. Then you have to make the most of the opportunity, which Tom Brady did. But had the DB’s just held onto a few of those balls, we don’t have this conversation right now about Tom Brady’s performance. So it is also somewhat lucky.”

It’s offensive to the audience when you refuse to admit you’re wrong –– even when evidence is slapping you in the face. Kellerman is Bayless without the nuance.

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Read More: ESPN, New England Patriots,
Aaron Hernandez told a prison pen pal he’s ‘very angry all the time’ 03.16.17 at 12:40 pm ET
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Aaron Hernandez is already serving a life sentence for Odin Lloyd's murder. (The Sun Chronicle/Pool Photo via USA Today Sports)

Aaron Hernandez is already serving a life sentence for Odin Lloyd’s murder. (The Sun Chronicle/Pool Photo via USA Today Sports)

The prosecution may have gotten a big break in the Aaron Hernandez double murder trial.

On Thursday, assistant Suffolk County district attorneys Mark Lee and Patrick Haggan read aloud statements from one of Hernandez’s pen pals. The female, who corresponded with Hernandez in 2015 as he was awaiting trial for the slaying of his friend Odin Lloyd, said the former Patriots tight end told her about the dark state of his mind.

“At one point during their conversations, the defendant told her that incidents in his life caused him to be ‘very angry all the time,’ ” the prosecutors wrote, via the Boston Herald. “The defendant’s statements … are probative of his state of mind to explain his anger over a spilled drink.”

According to law enforcement, Hernandez shot and killed Daniel Abreu, 29, and Safiro Furtado, 28, in the South End in 2012 following a nightclub incident. Apparently, one of the two men spilled a drink on Hernandez, which set him off. He allegedly pulled up next to Abreu and Furtado at a stoplight after leaving the club, and started to open fire.

This followed the prosecution’s presentation Wednesday, when they questioned a tattoo artist who did extensive work on Hernandez in an attempt to argue the ex-football star got ink to commemorate the deaths of the two victims. After the murder, Hernandez got a front view of a handgun, a design of a six-cylinder revolver with one bullet missing and the words “God Forgives” written backwards tattooed on his body.

In defense of their client, Hernandez’s lawyers said the tattoo artist’s testimony was different than what he had told police. They also said the pen pal’s statements were “cherrypicked.”

Read More: Aaron Hernandez,
There’s no racial double-standard between Rob Gronkowski and Ezekiel Elliott 03.16.17 at 11:46 am ET
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Rob Gronkowski is perceived as a good-natured party boy. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Rob Gronkowski is perceived as a good-natured party boy. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

There’s no racial double-standard when it comes to the way Ezekiel Elliott’s bra-pulling incident has been portrayed in comparison to Rob Gronkowski’s off-field shenanigans. Context matters, and given Elliott’s alleged history of violence against women, his behavior can’t be excused as harmless debauchery.

At a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dallas last weekend, Elliott exposed a woman’s breast while he was partying on a rooftop. It’s apparent the act may not have been consensual, because the woman slaps away Elliott’s hands when he goes for her cleavage a second time.

Two years ago, Gronkowski was also involved in a breast-touching incident. He buried his face into a woman’s cleavage at a nightclub in Charleston, while she danced with a half-empty bottle of liquor in her hand.

If the female on the receiving end of Gronkowski’s motorboat felt victimized, she didn’t show it. The woman who Elliott touched, however, seemed uncomfortable with his hands on her. The evident differences between the two episodes means they’re not comparable. But that didn’t stop some from trying.

On ESPN’s “First Take” Wednesday, Max Kellerman said he thinks race plays a factor into the way Elliott’s actions were perceived.

“Why are we asking about the double-standard in the first place, given the differences in the set of facts?,” he asked. “We’re asking because it does play into stereotypes. On the one hand, good-natured party guy, who tends to be white –– at least as depicted in popular culture –– versus more menacing.”

Orlando Sentinel columnist David Whitley seems to agree. In an op-ed, he asks his readers to imagine if Gronkowski and Elliott were to switch places.

“Imagine if Elliott’s history included countless displays of public intoxication; videos of him gyrating his pelvis into women; getting naked and exposing himself to a bikini-clad babe in a GQ photo spread; organizing a party cruise where he autographed women’s bottoms, breasts and who-knows-what-else?,” he wonders.

It’s worth noting one of Elliott’s representatives told TMZ Sports the woman wasn’t upset, and continued partying with the Cowboys running back afterwards. But before taking that as gospel, one should consider the source. Also, the woman’s apparent decision to keep hanging with Elliott doesn’t mean she gave him permission to expose her breasts in public. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.

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Read More: Ezekiel Elliott, rob gronkowski,
All charges dismissed against Darrelle Revis from February street fight 03.15.17 at 3:15 pm ET
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Darrelle Revis will no longer have criminal charges hanging over his head. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

Darrelle Revis will no longer have criminal charges hanging over his head. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

A judge Wednesday dismissed all charges against Darrelle Revis stemming from a Pittsburgh street fight last month. The veteran cornerback was facing four felonies, including two counts of aggravated assault, one count of robbery and a conspiracy to commit aggravated assault.

Revis turned himself into local authorities days after the altercation had occurred. TMZ Sports subsequently released a video of the incident, which showed the two victims laying unconscious on the sidewalk while an unidentified man boasts about punching them out.

In court Wednesday, one of Revis’ childhood friends said he was the aggressor. According to him, the two accusers jumped Revis at 2:30 a.m. on a Monday morning in February.

Law enforcement originally implicated Revis, saying he got violent after two men had recognized him and approached him on the street. But his Pittsburgh-based attorney, Blaine Jones, told the NFL Network last month Revis was the victim.

The Jets released the 31-year-old Revis prior to the start of free agency. He signed a five-year, $70 million deal with the team in 2015, and was owed $15.3 million this season.

Read More: Darrelle Revis,
Man gets butt tattoo to commemorate Falcons’ blown lead against Patriots in Super Bowl LI 03.15.17 at 1:30 pm ET
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Last month, a Patriots fan made headlines when he got Tom Brady’s face tattooed on his butt to commemorate the team’s historic comeback win over the Falcons in Super Bowl LI. Though that’s an odd spot to put some ink, the sentiment is understandable.

The same can’t be said for an Instagram user named ““orrazib_,” who recently got a tattoo on his tush of a Fox chyron that shows the Falcons leading the Patriots 28-3 in the third quarter.

In an interview with SB Nation, the man says he went forward with the tattoo so he could stick it to Patriots fans. Huh?

“I just live in Connecticut and cant stand these Pats fans so when i tell them to kiss my ass they will be reminded that they were gettin blownout !,” he said.

That’s all well and good, but he knows the Patriots wound up winning the game, right? Also, if he wants to make the ink visible to all, the buttocks may not be the best place.

Read More: Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots, Super Bowl LI,
UMass responds to lawsuit, denies men’s basketball staff members intimidated woman 03.14.17 at 3:31 pm ET
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A woman is suing the University of Massachusetts, because she says members of the men’s basketball coaching staff intimidated her in an attempt to keep her from leaking potentially damaging information about the program. The school responded to those allegations Tuesday.

In a statement, athletic director Ryan Bamford says the school became aware of the alleged incident in December and hired an outside investigator to look into it. According to Bamford, the investigator didn’t find any evidence of wrongdoing.

AyAnna Hickman, who used to date assistant coach and former UMass player Lou Roe, says he and two other staff members prevented her from leaving his office one night in December 2013. The lawsuit states Roe had told her about the use of banned substances by players and domestic violence committed by some coaches against their family members. It also says recently fired head coach Derek Kellogg covered up the episode.

UMass confirmed to WEEI.com Monday it’s aware of the lawsuit. The University also said Kellogg’s dismissal was unrelated to the case. Roe is currently on administrative leave.

Hickman is suing for $75,000 in damages and wants a jury trial.

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There’s nothing endearing about LaVar Ball’s greed and delusion 03.14.17 at 1:54 pm ET
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Laval Ball (right), says he wants to secure a $1 billion shoe contract for his sons. (Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports)

LaVar Ball (right), says he wants to secure a $1 billion shoe contract for his sons. (Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports)

With the NCAA men’s basketball tournament starting this week, expect to start hearing a lot about UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball. The standout freshman is pegged for NBA superstardom, and will likely be a top pick in this year’s draft. Since the Celtics control the lowly Nets’ first-round selection, there’s a chance he could wind up in Boston.

If the Celtics draft Ball, that means his delusional and greedy father would likely come here as well. Turner Sports, which broadcasts the tournament, may attempt to soften LaVar Ball’s image over the next three weeks with puff pieces and lighthearted interviews. SB Nation has already started, publishing an article about how Ball is a “good sports dad.”

But don’t let the potentially forthcoming PR blitz fool you: There’s nothing endearing about this shallow, egotistical man.

Ball’s repulsive persona is highlighted in a recent USA Today profile, titled, “LaVar Ball and his boys are here to change the world.” In it, the family’s patriarch brags about buying his boys luxury cars, his plans to secure them a $1 billion shoe contract and an apparently fabricated college football tryout. He sounds like a total jerk.

Perhaps the biggest headline to emanate from the piece is Ball’s desire to ink a $1 billion merchandise deal for his kids. His two other sons, LiAngelo (high school senior) and LaMelo (high school sophomore), are already both committed to UCLA as well. Last month, LaMelo Ball attracted headlines –– and criticism –– for a 92-point performance during one of his high school games.

With that kind of talent talent under his roof, Ball says he’s holding out for one of the biggest shoe contracts in history.

“A billion dollars, it has to be there,” he said. “That’s our number, a billion, straight out of the gate. And you don’t even have to give it to me all up front. Give us $100 mil over 10 years.”

That figure would put the Ball boys in line with LeBron James, who inked a deal with Nike last year worth more than $1 billion. While it’s nice to be proud of your kids, calculating their worth in the form of a high-priced shoe contract seems grotesque and exploitive. It sounds like something a less charming Gordon Gekko would say if he were to have children.

But then again, this is the man who buys his boys $100,000 BMWs, because they’re so damn good at basketball.

“To get my boys a little $100,000 car, that’s nothing,’’ he said. “I don’t have to pay for education. I’m saving over $1 million dollars.”

Questionable math aside –– as USA Today points out, Ball would only save around $400,000 if all of his kids went to UCLA for all four years –– this sounds like a man who’s intent on flaunting his alleged wealth. There’s nothing cool about a show-off, especially when he appears to be using his kids as props.

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ESPN’s Max Kellerman: Bill Belichick will retire this season 03.14.17 at 9:18 am ET
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Last year, ESPN’s Max Kellerman predicted Tom Brady would soon “fall off a cliff.” Considering Brady led the Patriots to their fifth Super Bowl championship last season, he couldn’t have been more wrong.

But that doesn’t mean Kellerman is out of the Patriots hot take business –– no, no. The bloviating talking head now says Bill Belichick is getting ready to retire, perhaps as early as this season.

On “First Take” Monday, Kellerman said he thinks Belichick’s impending exit is the reason why the Patriots have been so aggressive in free agency. Last week, the team handed cornerback Stephon Gilmore $40 million guaranteed and traded its first-round pick to the Saints for star wideout Brandin Cooks.

“He knows that Brady’s, and his, days are numbered –– obviously. Since when do the Patriots load up by trading their highest draft picks for players?,” Kellerman asked. “When does Belichick trade his highest available draft picks for the present? You know when? Right now. He is getting ready, for his and Tom Brady’s swan song. Now, my belief is, that will be this season. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe his belief is he’s got another two seasons. But the point is, he knows the end is coming. He is absolutely loading up to win a least one more Super Bowl, because at this moment they are so clearly the odds on favorites.”

Prior to Super Bowl LI, Patriots owner Robert Kraft revealed he knows when Belichick is going to hang it up. But unfortunately for Kellerman, Kraft guaranteed it won’t be this year.

Read More: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots, Tom Brady,
In a lawsuit, woman says UMass basketball staff members intimidated her 03.13.17 at 10:03 am ET
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Former UMass coach Derek Kellogg is named as a defendant in the lawsuit. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

Former UMass coach Derek Kellogg is named as a defendant in the lawsuit. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

A woman says members of the University of Massachusetts men’s basketball coaching staff intimidated her in an attempt to keep her from leaking potentially detrimental information about the program, according to court documents.

In a civil suit, AyAnna Hickman alleges assistant coach and former UMass great Lou Roe prevented her from leaving his office during an incident in December 2013. The lawsuit states Roe had told Hickman “about the use of banned substances by team members; domestic violence by certain staff members against family members; incidents of infidelity and quashing of potential criminal complaints against unidentified team members.” She says assistant coach Shyrone Chatman and former strength coach Richard Hogans aided Roe in his efforts to trap her. Hickman and Roe used to date each other.

The University confirmed to WEEI.com it’s aware of the lawsuit, but declined further comment. Roe was placed on administrative leave in December and Chatman remains in good standing. Hogans left the program in 2014.

Recently fired head coach Derek Kellogg is named as a defendant, but the University says his dismissal was unrelated to the case. The suit says he “encouraged and participated in a cover-up” of the incident.

Hickman’s attorney, Harry Miles, declined comment when reached by email Sunday night. She’s suing for $75,000 in damages and is seeking a jury trial.

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