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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Reds’ Aroldis Chapman brings heat 09.02.10 at 8:00 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY:
NFL preseason: Patriots at Giants, 7 p.m. (WBZ-TV Ch.4)
MLB: Red Sox at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. (NESN, WEEI)

AROUND THE WEB:

‘™¦ Flamethrowing Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman, called up from the minors on Tuesday, picked up his first win after pitching a perfect inning in relief during the Reds’ victory over the Brewers on Wednesday night. In the process, he threw a pitch registered at 103.9 mph, the fastest pitch in the majors in the last three seasons. The Cincinnati Enquirer reports on how Chapman electrified the audience with his appearance.

‘™¦ In the Chicago Sun-Times, Rick Morrissey joins the legion of people chiding the White Sox for their acquisition of Manny Ramirez, calling the September playoff push “Guilty Pleasure Month.”

‘™¦ Andy Roddick was bounced by Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic in the second round of the U.S. Open on Wednesday, and he didn’t go quietly. The ninth-seeded American berated an official for calling a foot fault and telling him the wrong foot was the one that faulted.

‘™¦ At Yahoo! Sports, Jason Cole looks at how free agency may be a bargaining chip for NFL players in the CBA talks.

‘™¦ Larry Brooks in the New York Post looks at the NHL’s hard-line stance on the Ilya Kovalchuk-Devils deal and reports that two other contracts are being contested.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Sept. 2, 2001, which Red Sox player broke up a no-hit bid by Yankees starter Mike Mussina with two outs (and two strikes) in the bottom of the ninth inning?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It’s definitely different right now … I don’t think we’ve completely folded up the tent.” ‘€” Red Sox starter Josh Beckett, on his team’s playoff chances

STAT OF THE DAY: 13-0 ‘€” Jon Lester‘s career record against the Orioles, following Wednesday night’s Red Sox win in Baltimore

‘NET RESULTS: Basketball juggling trick shots.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Carl Everett

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Sam Gooden of the Impressions is 71 today.

Read More: Aroldis Chapman, Ilya Kovalchuk, Manny Ramirez,
Monday’s Morning Mashup 08.30.10 at 7:57 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’€™s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY:
No local games scheduled

AROUND THE WEB:

‘™¦ Roger Clemens will plead not guilty to federal perjury charges Monday in Washington, D.C., and then the former pitcher will fly to South Carolina to play golf, according to the New York Daily News. The Golf.com World Amateur Handicap Championship in Myrtle Beach, S.C., starts a few hours before Clemens’ 2 p.m. arraignment, but Clemens plans to take a private plane to the event so he and his wife can participate in the opening round.

‘™¦ Manny Ramirez ended his tenure with the Dodgers by getting thrown out of Sunday’s game after one pitch for arguing with the home plate umpire. At Yahoo! Sports, Jeff Passan writes that the White Sox are getting a handful in Ramirez, and he recounts some of Manny’s acrimonious breakups. In the Chicago Tribune, Phil Rogers writes that the “Hail Manny” play is worth the risk for the desperate White Sox. In The Los Angeles Times, Steve Dilbeck bids farewell to Manny and his muddled legacy.

‘™¦ The NFL’s plan to add two more games to the regular-season schedule despite recent studies detailing issues with concussions, brain trauma and other injuries shows there is no limit to owners’ greed and hypocrisy, writes Phil Sheridan in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

‘™¦ Pete Thamel in The New York Times has a feature on 19-year-old Spanish guard Ricky Rubio, who said he plans to take his game to the NBA (the Timberwolves own his rights) in 2011.

‘™¦ Johnette Howard of ESPN.com takes John McEnroe to task for his recent comments about women not being able to handle the strain of the WTA schedule.

‘™¦ Pakistan has been rocked by a “spot-fixing” scandal in cricket involving three key players.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Aug. 30, 1984, which Red Sox player broke Jackie Jensen’s single-season team record for grounding into double plays with his 33rd of the season (he would finish with 36)?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I mean, what are we five or six behind? We’ve got a lot more games than that. I’m not a math whiz, but I think it’s doable.” ‘€” Red Sox pitcher John Lackey, after Sunday’s loss to the Rays

STAT OF THE DAY: 599 ‘€” Career saves for Brewers closer Trevor Hoffman, who on Sunday closed to within one save of being the first reliever with 600

‘NET RESULTS: Minor league manager Gary Robinson of the State College Spikes gets his money worth after being ejected, taking first base, signing it and giving it to a fan.

This is Frenchman Nicolas Batum, and this is an example of why the Trail Blazers feel he can take the minutes of Rudy Fernandez.

One bad play in a football game, and it’s immortalized forever on the web.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Jim Rice

SOOTHING SOUNDS: On this date in 1965, Bob Dylan released his groundbreaking album “Highway 61 Revisited.”

Read More: Manny Ramirez, roger clemens,
Report: Multiple teams claim Manny 08.27.10 at 1:41 pm ET
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According to a tweet from Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman, “multiple teams” have put in a waiver wire claim on Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez before Friday’s 1:30 p.m. deadline. There was no immediate report on which team has claiming rights or if the Dodgers would let him go.

The White Sox had been considered the front-runners to land the former Red Sox star, but the Rangers reportedly made a late push.

Read More: Manny Ramirez,
Thursday’s Morning Mashup 08.19.10 at 7:40 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’€™s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY:
MLB: Angels at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN, WEEI)

AROUND THE WEB:

‘™¦ Johnny Damon‘s return to Yankee Stadium as a Detroit Tiger this week turned ugly. In the ninth inning of Monday night’s game, Yankee Brett Gardner slid into Tigers second baseman Carlos Guillen on a double play and sent Guillen to the disabled list. Wednesday night, Gardner was one of three players hit by a pitch, and Damon called Gardner’s play “dirty” and accused the Yankees of throwing at Miguel Cabrera, which led to Tigers manager Jim Leyland‘s ejection.

‘™¦ To no one’s surprise, Brett Favre is back. At the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Jim Souhan writes about the ego-fest that was Favre’s press conference Wednesday and notes that what drives the quarterback is his fear of failure. Michael Silver at Yahoo!Sports.com cautions that this return could be a disaster. Gary Myers in the New York Daily News writes that Favre’s “act has gotten so old and tired it’s comical,” and revisits the QB’s forgettable season with the Jets.

‘™¦ At SportsIllustrated.com, Joe Sheehan writes that the time has come for the Dodgers to trade Manny Ramirez.

‘™¦ Kevin Arnovitz at TrueHoop interviews NBA schedule-maker Matt Winick and gets some explanations about quirks in the schedule.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Aug. 19, 1986, which two players acquired from the Mariners made their debut for the Red Sox?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I’ve done it all. There’s nothing left for me to prove. I’m here to have fun, help these guys win. I really enjoy this group of guys like you wouldn’t believe. I think the feeling is mutual.” ‘€” Brett Favre, upon returning to the Vikings on Wednesday

STAT OF THE DAY: 5 ‘€” Consecutive seasons at the start his career with 30 or more saves by Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, a major league record (No. 30 came Wednesday night vs. the Angels)

‘NET RESULTS: Four European golfers try to hit a ball 200 yards into a pond and skim it into a gong set up in the middle of the water.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Spike Owen and Dave Henderson

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Johnny Nash is 70 today.

Read More: brett favre, johnny damon, Manny Ramirez,
Wednesday’s Morning Mashup 08.04.10 at 7:50 am ET
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Welcome to Wednesday’€™s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY:
MLB: Indians at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN, WEEI)

AROUND THE WEB:

‘™¦ Alex Rodriguez remained stuck on 599 home runs for the 12th consecutive game, the Yankees dropped out of first place, but the big news out of New York Tuesday was that A-Rod missed the team photo. The New York Daily News has the explanation from the slugger, who needed a team representative to stand in, with Rodriguez’ face to be digitally inserted.

‘™¦ Peter King at Sports Illustrated writes that Brett Favre‘s surgically repaired ankle may be hurting him now, but don’t be surprised if he makes an October return. Michael Silver at Yahoo! Sports isn’t buying Favre’s reported retirement plans. Kevin Hench at Fox Sports writes that Favre’s antics are more cruel than those of LeBron James.

‘™¦ Bill Plaschke in The Los Angeles Times writes that the Dodgers are to blame for enabling Manny Ramirez, and that Mannywood is now Deadwood.

‘™¦ Joe Cowley in the Chicago Sun-Times writes that the White Sox should be ashamed for throwing manager Ozzie Guillen under the bus after Guillen’s comments about Latino players being treated unfairly. Paul White in USA Today looks at the role interpreters play in major league baseball.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Aug. 4, 1992, which celebrity had the winning auction bid for the ball that went through Bill Buckner‘s legs in the 1986 World Series?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I don’t think my emotions can go through any more of a roller coaster.” ‘€” Mike Lowell, upon being activated by the Red Sox before Tuesday’s game against the Indians

STAT OF THE DAY: 5 ‘€” Full seasons since the start of his career with 25 or more saves for Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, a major league record

‘NET RESULTS: A new candidate for the world’s longest basketball shot:

A fan tries to escape security after running on the field at an MLS game, but another fan pushes him back to security.

Some fans aren’t pleased with Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, so they took their message to YouTube in the form of a song.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Charlie Sheen, who paid $93,500 for the ball, which he later sold

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Frankie Ford is 71 today.

Read More: alex rodriguez, brett favre, Manny Ramirez,
Tuesday’s Morning Mashup 08.03.10 at 7:56 am ET
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Welcome to Tuesday’€™s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY:
MLB: Indians at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN, WEEI)

AROUND THE WEB:

‘™¦ Former teammates of LaDanian Tomlinson took some shots at the running back as he begins his stint with the Jets. Chargers players implied that Tomlinson had trouble handling his diminished role with San Diego last season. “Sometimes you would get the sense that people felt bigger than the team,” tight end Antonio Gates said. Tomlinson did not return the fire.

‘™¦ The “Mannywood” sign at Dodger Stadium, a tribute to Manny Ramirez, was replaced with an advertisement, reports The Los Angeles Times. The Dodgers say it was only because they found someone willing to pay for the space, and it was not meant as a slap in the face to their controversial player, who is on the disabled list for the third time this season. The team still is selling Mannywood seats and T-shirts for the left field section, although empty seats there are a regular occurrence.

‘™¦ Stewart Mandel at Sports Illustrated blasts Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt as “dirty,” with Nutt’s latest offense being his welcoming of Oregon castoff quarterback Jeremiah Masoli.

‘™¦ The use of video replay will be expanded at the Little League World Series.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Aug. 3, 1992, who pulled off the first successful steal of home by a Red Sox player in 24 years?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I’m going down. I’m going to take Pitino with me.” ‘€” Randy Wise, recounting what ex-wife Karen Cunagin Sypher told him after she was charged with attempted extortion University of Louisville coach Rick Pitino

STAT OF THE DAY: 2 ‘€” Players in Red Sox history who have appeared in a game at the age of 44, after Tim Wakefield, who pitched on his birthday Monday night, joined Carl Yastrzemski on the list

‘NET RESULTS: The Iceland soccer team that received rave reviews for its “gone fishing” goal celebration has another one, although not as impressive.

Check out the fancy footwork on this CFL touchdown celebration.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Billy Hatcher

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Gordon Stoker of the Jordanairres, best known as Elvis Presley‘s backup singers, is 86 today. He’s the short one.

Read More: Houston Nutt, LaDanian Tomlinson, Manny Ramirez,
LEEInks list: Boston athletes who requested a trade 06.23.10 at 7:47 am ET
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Last week, offensive lineman Logan Mankins expressed his frustration with the Patriots by requesting a trade. As is often the case, money is the root of the player’s discontent. Other times, a lack of playing time leads to a request for change of scenery. And there are other reasons as well. Here are 10 Boston athletes who requested, demanded or pushed to be traded by their behavior.

10. Kyle McLaren ‘€“ Dealing with injuries after seven years with the Bruins, McLaren was insulted when the Bruins proposed a two-way contract, a rarity for a veteran of McLaren’s stature. The former No. 9 overall pick asked for a trade, and his wish was granted when he was shipped to San Jose in 2002.

9. Jason Allison ‘€“ The star center was coming off a 95-point season in 2000-01 and had inherited the role of captain from Bruins legend Ray Bourque. But when the teams disagreed on an appropriate yearly salary by a reported $2 million, Allison held out and made it clear he would not play for the Bruins at a discounted rate. Allison was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in October 2001, and he got his money: approximately $20 million for three years. In the Bruins’ defense, it should be noted that Allison hardly earned his money in LA, playing a year and a half and posting solid but unspectacular numbers before being sidelined by injuries.

8. Jay Payton ‘€“ Payton joined the team before the 2005 season as a fourth outfielder. Only, he viewed himself as deserving of more regular playing time. In June, he asked to be traded. To force the Sox’ hand, he got into a confrontation with manager Terry Francona during a game in early July, complaining that he wasn’t hitting high enough in the order. He would then be designated for assignment and traded to Oakland. Once an official member of the A’€™s, Payton hit a home run in his first at-bat to begin his career on the right foot with the California ballclub. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: drew bledsoe, Manny Ramirez, Nomar Garciaparra,
Excuses, Excuses 07.16.09 at 4:10 pm ET
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For today’€™s afternoon LEEINKS we’€™ve decided to showcase a bunch of athletes that have tested positive for assorted drugs, and have had a host of bizarre explanations on how the positive test came about.

The first case that we’€™ll focus on made news yesterday. Richard Gasquet, the 23-year-old French tennis player who tested positive for cocaine a couple months ago and was banned from tennis for a year, was cleared to resume playing.

Why did the International Tennis Federation (ITF) decide to lift the ban so early? Because the ITF’€™s tribunal panel ruled that he inadvertently took the drug by kissing a woman in a nightclub.

Gasquet told the tribunal hearing held in London last month that he kissed a woman, identified in the ruling only as “Pamela,” in a Miami nightclub where a French DJ was performing at a dance music festival.

The festival was apparently notoriously associated with the use of illegal recreational drugs including cocaine and the tribunal said it was likely that ‘€œPamela’€ had consumed cocaine during the night, though there was no direct evidence.

As stated in the ITF’€™s report, Gasquet was “on the balance of probability, contaminated with cocaine by Pamela” and, therefore, not significantly at fault for the doping offense.

But this is not the first time an athlete has had what he or she thought was a perfectly logical excuse for a positive test.

In one of the most publicized sports doping stories ever, our good friend Manny Ramirez justified his testing positive for banned drug known as HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), by saying that the drugs were prescribed to him by a physician.

Manny said that he was using them for a ‘€œpersonal health issue.’€ HCG, a drug often used to soften the effects of ending a cycle of steroids, is also used to stimulate female fertility, stimulate testosterone production in men, and to treat delayed puberty in boys.

So unless Manny’€™s ‘€œpersonal health issue’€ was one of those above problems — in which case, there are profound metaphysical ramifications to the notion of “Manny Being Manny” — he has no good reason to take HCG.

In another story that received a lot of publicity last month, NASCAR driver Jeremy Mayfield tested positive for methamphetamine during a random drug screening at Richmond International Raceway on May 9th. His explanation stated that he had been taking prescription Adderall-XR and over-the-counter Claritin-D, and that was why he failed the test.

Just yesterday, results from a second test on July 6th showed Mayfield tested positive again.

NASCAR released these findings in a U.S. District Court filing Wednesday that included an affidavit from Mayfield’€™s stepmother, Lisa, who said she saw Mayfield using methamphetamine at least 30 times over seven years.

This led to another round of denials from Mayfield, who accused the sanctioning body of paying his stepmother to lie about his alleged past drug use.

“They picked the wrong woman to use against me because that (expletive) is trash and has got nothing on me but lies,” Mayfield told reporters.

According to the Sporting News, Lisa Mayfield said she first saw the driver use meth in 1998 at a race shop in Mooresville, N.C. She said Mayfield cooked his own drugs until the ingredient pseudoephedrine was taken off the shelves and it became too difficult for Mayfield to obtain the ingredients. She said her stepson then began to purchase meth from others.

Mayfield continues to protest these findings and statements from his stepmother by claiming that NASCAR paid for the affidavit.

“She’s tried everything she can do to get money out of me,’€ said Mayfield. ‘€œI won’t help her, so I guess she found a way to get money from NASCAR by giving them an affidavit full of lies.”

Finally, in an even more curious case, this wheelchair basketball player from Germany blamed his positive test on a treatment that he was taking for hair loss.

Ahmet Coskun tested positive for finasteride, a drug used to treat hair loss but which can also mask other banned substances.

‘€œI was thinking about my hair and had no idea that the drug contained a banned substance. I’m very upset. I never intended to do doping,’€ Coskun said.

One can only imagine that Coskun’s case will stand as a giant warning to athletes. If so, then perhaps Wade Boggs – spokesman for hair restoration – will be the real winner here.

Read More: jeremy mayfield, Manny Ramirez, richard gasquet,
Citizenship and Sports 07.03.09 at 1:33 pm ET
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As the Fourth of July fast approaches, Americans are heating up their barbeques, donning their star spangled banners, and heading down to the Cape. But this year, there will be at least one more celebrating the great American holiday: Red Sox slugger Jason Bay.

The 30-year-old leftfielder officially became a U.S. citizen Thursday in a naturalization ceremony at Faneuil Hall. Originally from Trail, British Columbia, Bay said he’€™s still proud of his Canadian heritage, according to ESPN.com.

‘€œI don’€™t denounce being Canadian at any point, but I’€™m definitely proud to be an American,’€ he told reporters.

The Red Sox are certainly no foreigners when it comes to athlete citizenship. In 2004, Bay’€™s predecessor, the Dominican-born Manny Ramirez, missed a game against the Indians to become a U.S. citizen in Miami. The following day, he returned to Fenway waving a mini American flag as he ran out to leftfield.

Four years later, fellow Dominican and teammate David Ortiz swore his allegiance to the US of A, sporting a pin-stripe suit, dark shades, and his standard bling bling.

Still, others in the wide world of sports have never been too clear when it comes to their nationality ‘€“ or, in the case of Alex Rodriguez, nationalities. Though he was born in the U.S., Rodriguez is also a citizen of the Dominican Republic and has constantly struggled with an identification complex. In 2005, while discussing which team he would play for in the World Baseball Classic, Rodriguez channeled his inner James Brown and declared, ‘€œI want to say it out loud: I am Dominican’€¦and I am going to make the Dominicans feel proud.’€

But come the 2006 WBC, the waffling Rodriguez was wearing a U.S. uniform and playing alongside fellow countrymen Derek Jeter and Jason Varitek.

In 2009, Rodriguez once again caused much confusion as he switched alliances and decided that it would be a ‘€œdream come true’€ to play for the Dominican team. But the Yankees third baseman was hampered by injuries and, tragically, his dream never came true. I guess no one told the advertising department.

All A-Rod bashing aside, there are some athletes who truly dream of making a better life for themselves and their families in the United States. They flee from the persecution of oppressive regimes in their respective countries, risking their lives to ultimately share in the democratic ideals our country values so much.

Take the Royals’€™ Brayan Pena, for example. On a tour with the Cuban Junior National team, the then 17-year-old catcher was forced to sneak out of bathroom window in Venezuela and go into hiding for several months in an attempt to defect to the U.S. He left behind his family, friends, teammates, and the life he had known for 17 years.

Today, Pena is not only the starting catcher for Kansas City ‘€“ he is, most notably, a U.S. citizen. In an interview with MLB.com, Pena said: ‘€œI feel like the happiest man on earth now.

‘€œI’€™m proud to be a Cuban, too, but I’€™m proud to be an American citizen because this is the country I live in, this is the country I respect, the country that really gave me everything I’€™ve got. It’€™s amazing. There are things that money can’€™t buy, and American citizenship is one of them.’€

Read More: A-Rod, David Ortiz, Jason Bay, Manny Ramirez
Manny’s Return No Minor Event 06.22.09 at 2:58 pm ET
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“What a long, strange trip it’s been.”

The Grateful Dead lyric is certainly apropos when talking about Manny Ramirez and his antics. This week, the big Manny Ramirez news has been his impending minor league rehab stint at Triple-A Albuquerque, which  starts Tuesday night.

Looking at the Isotopes roster, there are a handful of players with major-league credentials, most notably outfielder Jason Repko, infielder Blake DeWitt, and knuckleballer Charlie Haeger. Isotopes fans certainly should be used to having a bona fide major league talent right in their midst.

Isotopes fans are overflowing with excitement. Albuquerque Journal columnist Rick Wright isn’t so excited for Manny’s arrival to Isotopes Park.

However, in an effort to combat all of the drama surrounding Manny’s minor-league stint, Los Angeles Times blogger Jon Weisman makes the case that Ramirez needs and even deserves this minor league stint. This isn’t a special case, as Weisman points out that another former Red Sox player found to have used PED’s, J.C. Romero, also had a short minor-league rehab before making his return to the Phillies.

While Ramirez’ first stop in the minors occurred without incident (other than his extraordinary accomplishments on the field), according to Madison Taylor, his most recent trip to the minors was a memorable one. This is Manny’s first return to the wonderful world of minor league baseball since a 2002 rehab stint in Pawtucket. That four-game rehab stint was infamously known for Manny losing a $15,000 earring while sliding headfirst into third base. According to accounts of the incident – including this compendium of infamous Manny Moments on boston.com – PawSox players and the Syracuse ground’s crew spent ample time after the game looking for the jewelry in question, to no avail. Nonetheless, Ramirez seemed unbothered by the lost bling: in fact, he showed every sign of wanting to stay in Pawtucket beyond a seemingly interminable 11-game stint.

For a complete look at Manny’s minor and major league stats, check this out.

Manny’s rehab stint begins tomorrow as he dons Isotopes red before wearing Dodger Blue on July 3. Let’s all just hope he doesn’t lose more expensive jewelery while he’s down in Triple-A this time.

Read More: Manny Ramirez,