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Top Boston Sports Stories of 2014, No. 4: Red Sox trade Jon Lester, John Lackey, others in trade deadline fire sale 12.30.14 at 9:19 am ET
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Over the final days of the year, WEEI.com will count down the top 14 stories of 2014 in Boston sports. This is No. 4: Red Sox trade Jon Lester, John Lackey and others in trade deadline fire sale. To read other stories in this series, click here.

Jon Lester was one of many Red Sox players sent packing as the team underperformed during the 2014 season. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Jon Lester was one of many Red Sox players sent packing as the team underperformed during the 2014 season. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

The Red Sox‘ 2014 season was forgettable at best.

The Sox stumbled out of the gate and never fully recovered. By July, they had endured countless losing streaks, including one that lasted 10 games, and had fallen into last place in the American League East, a spot they held for the rest of the season.

Much of the struggles were a result of on-field performance. The Sox had one of the worst offenses in baseball for most of the season, and had as many as five rookies on the big league roster at a time at one point.

However, the Sox had their share of problems off the field as well. It started with A.J. Pierzynski, who not only struggled as a player — he hit .254/.286/.348 in 72 games with the Red Sox — but also reportedly was a negative clubhouse presence.

But the most notable off-field dilemma involved Jon Lester and his contract, which was set to expire at the end of the season. The left-hander regularly fielded questions from the media regarding the status of negotiations for a new deal with the Sox. Lester had said before the season that he’d be willing to take a discount to stay in Boston. However, the Red Sox‘ initial offer — worth a reported $70 million over four years — apparently was way too low to spark productive discussions.

The Red Sox‘ fortunes seemingly had turned after Pierzynski was designated for assignment July 9. The Sox won eight of their next nine games and had general manager Ben Cherington thinking his team could be a buyer at the trade deadline.

But the Sox stumbled again. They lost their next five games and began sinking further into last place with less than a week before the July 31 deadline.

On July 26, the first shoe dropped.

The Sox traded pitcher Jake Peavy to the Giants for pitching prospects Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree. Peavy’s struggles and expiring contract and the Sox’ position in the standings factored into the decision to trade him.

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Read More: John Lackey, Jon Lester, Top Boston Sports Stories of 2014,
Top Boston Sports Stories of 2014, No. 5: Bruins bounced by Canadiens in Eastern Conference semifinals 12.29.14 at 10:26 am ET
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Over the final days of the year, WEEI.com will count down the top stories of 2014 in Boston sports. This is No. 5: Bruins bounced by Canadiens in Eastern Conference semifinals. To see the previous entries, click here.

The only thing that could possibly sting more than the Bruins’ Game 6 loss to the Blackhawks in the 2013 Stanley Cup finals would be a Game 7 loss to Montreal in the playoffs.

Unfortunately for Bruins fans, that’s exactly what happened in 2014.

The B’s and Habs met in the playoffs for the 34th time in their history in the Eastern Conference semifinals, and the series was as heated, exciting and back-and-forth as one would expected from two longtime rivals. So it was only right for this series to come down to the ninth Game 7 between the teams.

The problem was only one team showed up for the start of the May 14 meeting. Dale Weise scored 2:18 into the first period and the Canadiens rolled to a 3-1 win at TD Garden to eliminate the top-seeded Bruins and advance to the Eastern Conference finals.

For all the hype and drama leading up to a Game 7 at home against their bitter rivals, the Bruins played an uninspired first period in which they looked slow against the Canadiens’ speed and hesitant with the puck, resulting in Weise’s early goal. They committed three penalties and turned the puck over seven times in the period.

“That’s why we lost,” Milan Lucic said after the game.

Montreal went up 2-0 when Max Pacioretty scored on a one-timer midway through the second period. The Bruins finally beat Habs goaltender Carey Price, who made 29 saves, with 2:02 left in the second on a power-play goal by Jarome Iginla.

Daniel Briere finished the B’s off with a power-play goal with under three minutes to play to put Montreal up 3-1 late.

“We definitely didn’t play our best,” Patrice Bergeron said. “It’s the team that plays the best at this time that goes forward, and it wasn’t us. We definitely could have been — should have been — a lot better.”

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Read More: Carey Price, Dale Weise, Milan Lucic, P.K. Subban
Top Boston Sports Stories of 2014, No. 6: Patriots lose to Broncos in AFC championship game 12.28.14 at 10:21 am ET
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Over the final days of the year, WEEI.com will count down the top 14 stories of 2014 in Boston sports. This is No. 6: Patriots lose to Broncos in AFC championship game. To read other stories in this series, click here.

Alfonzo Dennard and the Patriots couldn't keep up with Demaryius Thomas and the Broncos in the AFC title game. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Alfonzo Dennard and the Patriots couldn’t keep up with Demaryius Thomas and the Broncos in the AFC title game. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The Patriots’ 2013 season was not quite like the ones fans are used to.

Sure, New England boasted a solid 12-4 record, clinched the AFC East well before season’s end, earned a first-round bye and breezed past its divisional-round opponent to reach its third straight AFC championship game. But this Patriots team limped its way through the season as a group pillaged by losses to a number of key players.

It started with tight end Aaron Hernandez, who was arrested weeks before training camp and subsequently released by the team before being charged with murder. But that was just the start of the Pats‘ woes, as the likes of Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo and Rob Gronkowski were lost for the season with major injuries.

However, fans still sought that coveted fourth Vince Lombardi trophy after the Patriots won five of their last six regular-season games to win their fifth straight division title, then crushed the Colts, 43-22, led by 166 yards and four touchdowns from LeGarrette Blount.

Up next, as expected, was Peyton Manning and the top-seeded Broncos. It would be the 15th time Tom Brady and Manning would square off, the fourth time they would meet in the playoffs and their second matchup of the season.

The Patriots rallied from a 24-0 halftime deficit to beat the Broncos, 34-31, in overtime at Gillette Stadium in the regular season. But with a 13-3 record to end the year, the Broncos hosted the Jan. 19 meeting for the right to play in the Super Bowl.

With all that was unique and difficult about the Patriots’ season, one thing was similar to the year before: It ended with a disappointing loss in the conference title game.

This time, the Broncos manhandled the Patriots defense for 507 total yards in a 26-16 beatdown in a game that wasn’t as close as the scoreboard read.

“You can’t win when you can’t get off the field,” defensive end Rob Ninkovich said after the game. “That’s basic fundamental football. They do a good job of keeping the sticks moving with various formations.”

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Read More: Aqib Talib, Bill Belichick, Demaryius Thomas, Peyton Manning
Top Boston Sports Stories of 2014, No. 11: Jerry Remy returns to Red Sox booth shortly before son pleads guilty to murder 12.25.14 at 5:08 pm ET
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Over the final days of the year, WEEI.com will count down the top 14 stories of 2014 in Boston sports. This is No. 11: NESN Red Sox announcer Jerry Remy returns to the booth shortly before his son pleads guilty to murder. To read other stories in this series, click here.

Remy LJ cartoon 14

Jerry Remy’s decision to return to the booth rekindled the debate over his role enabling his son’s violent behavior. (Larry Johnson/WEEI.com)

Not many Boston sports figures had it harder than Jerry Remy in the first half of 2014.

The longtime NESN broadcaster found himself consumed by his internal struggle, along with heated debate on the outside, as to whether or not he should return to the booth for the 2014 Red Sox season in the wake of his son, Jared, being charged with first-degree murder in the death of live-in girlfriend Jennifer Martel in August 2013.

Jared Remy was charged with fatally stabbing Martel, the mother of their 4-year-old daughter, on Aug. 15, 2013. Remy pleaded not guilty at the time and was held without bail, with a trial set to begin in October. Jerry Remy took a leave of absence following the incident and didn’t return to the broadcast booth for the remainder of the Red SoxWorld Series run.

Remy announced at a news conference in January that he would be returning to the Red Sox broadcast booth for the 2014 season. He said he was leaning toward not returning to the booth as late as New Year’s Day, but opted to return after gaining support from his close friends along with his wife, Phoebe.

“It’€™s always been my comfort zone, for 40 years. I can’€™t sit there. I just can’€™t sit in my chair. I’ve been there long enough already,”€ Remy said at the time. “€œI’ve got to be busy. I’ve got to do something to preoccupy myself. I need to do something I enjoy. And this is what I enjoy doing and I always have. I’ve done it for 26 years. This will be No. 27 as an announcer. I still enjoy it. I’€™m not crazy about the 4 o’€™clock arrivals, but the game itself I truly love, and I always have and I still do, and that’€™s not going to go away. So hopefully it will be therapeutic in some ways.”

Remy returned to the NESN booth alongside play-by-play man Don Orsillo in spring training with his son still facing murder charges. The discussion from the booth was centered around baseball, as Remy said it would be.

But the debate over whether or not Remy should return took a dramatic twist on March 23 when an extensive Boston Globe story detailed Jared Remy’s long history of run-ins with the law, primarily involving domestic abuse allegations.

The Globe article painted Jerry and Phoebe as enablers for their troubled son as his constant legal troubles resulted in just one short jail term thanks to the help of a high-priced lawyer hired by the Remys.

Just five days after the report came out, Remy told Dennis & Callahan he tried to get his son treated for his mental issues but never considered stopping his support of him.

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Read More: jared remy, jerry remy, Top Boston Sports Stories of 2014,
Reports: Browns’ Johnny Manziel fined by NFL for obscene gesture 08.22.14 at 1:54 pm ET
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Browns backup quarterback Johnny Manziel was fined $12,000 for making an obscene gesture toward the Redskins’ sideline Monday night, according to multiple reports.

Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel  

Manziel extended his middle finger in front of Washington’s bench during the third quarter of Cleveland’s 24-23 loss.

Two days later he lost to Brian Hoyer in the competition for the team’s starting quarterback job.

Manziel said after Monday’s game that he had “words exchanged” with Redskins players.

“I felt like I did a good job of holding my composure throughout the night, and you have a lapse of judgment and slip up,” he said.

 

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John Calipari calls into Mike Francesa’s radio show to defend coaching ability 08.22.14 at 11:56 am ET
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One appearance on Mike Francesa‘s radio show wasn’t enough for John Calipari on Wednesday.

After making an appearance on the show, the Kentucky basketball coach called in later on as “John from Kentucky” to defend himself after the host questioned his X’s and O’s ability.

“That’s basically saying I can’t coach,” Calipari said. “You know what they call me, the magician. Cal the magician.”

Francesa and Calipari continued their exchange briefly before Francesa hung up on him.

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Reports: Timberwolves trading for 76ers’ Thaddeus Young, sending pick from Kevin Love deal to Philadelphia 08.22.14 at 11:37 am ET
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The Kevin Love trade appears to have an added element to it, although not directly.

According to multiple reports, the Timberwolves will acquire 76ers forward Thaddeus Young for a 2015 first-round pick and a pair of role players.

Minnesota reportedly will send Philadelphia the Heat’s 2015 first-round pick the Timberwolves will acquire as part of the Love deal with Cleveland. The pick is lottery protected to No. 10 and 2015 and 2016, and unprotected in 2017.

The deal is set to be finalized Saturday in line with the conclusion of the of the deal that will send Cleveland’s Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett to Minnesota for Love.

Read More: Thaddeus Young,
Oklahoma suspends freshman RB Joe Mixon for season 08.19.14 at 10:58 am ET
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Oklahoma suspended freshman running back Joe Mixon for the season Monday after he pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of assault.

One of the nation’s top recruits, Mixon is accused of knocking a woman unconscious with a punch and breaking several bones in her face last month.

“That’s not something I’m going to delve into right now, because it leads to further questions in that regard, and I’m going to talk about the guys that are eligible to play right now,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said Monday.

The university said in a release Monday that Mixon may continue as a student and may be eligible for financial aid.

“As the university has demonstrated in the past, we are committed to winning the right way,” the school said in the release. “As an example to others, OU sets the highest possible standards for its student athletes, coaches and staff.”

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Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles hurts foot in freak slip down hill 08.19.14 at 10:58 am ET
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The grind of training camp wasn’t enough to keep Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles out of Sunday night’s preseason game against the Panthers.

But leaving the training camp site was.

Charles slipped on a grassy slope and turned his foot while moving out of the dorms at the Chiefs’ training camp facility last Thursday, as the team was set to return to its own practice facility.

X-ray and MRI results both came back negative, but coach Andy Reid had no timetable on Charles’ return.

“He’s feeling better today. We’re optimistic about it,” Reid said Monday. “Initially there was a little concern, but he had all stuff done to it and everything is clear.”

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Report: Ohio State QB Braxton Miller reinjures shoulder, could be out for season 08.19.14 at 10:56 am ET
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Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller reinjured his right shoulder in practice Monday and could miss the upcoming season, according to a report by The Columbus Dispatch.

The potential loss of Miller would be a crushing one for the No. 5 Buckeyes. The senior is a two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and was considered a top candidate for the Heisman Trophy this season.

Miller missed spring practice after receiving “minor, outpatient surgery” on his throwing shoulder. He had been held out of a scrimmage and a few practices through August training camp due to some soreness in the shoulder, but said he felt healthy.

If Miller can’t go, redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett would likely get the start in the season opener Aug. 30 against Navy.

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