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Stephen A. Smith on Kirk & Callahan: I have a problem with hosts who give opinions and hide 02.03.17 at 11:19 am ET
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For the last several months, some ESPN personalities have been avoiding the WEEI airwaves. But not Stephen A. Smith. The host of First Take joined Kirk & Callahan from radio row Friday, and disagreed with his colleagues who have called Boston racist.

Smith said he used to believe Boston was a bigoted town. But once he visited, his feelings changed.

“I went to Boston and I said, ‘It’s a great sports town. ‘I said, ‘I have no problem with this city.’ I said, ‘These folks are passionate, they have their beliefs.’ You’ve gotta understand something –– and I think deeply about this, maybe it’s because I had a grandmother who was white, because my mother was from a mixed-marriage –– I’m like, ‘Wait a minute, here.’ Racism, what exactly is that? There’s this feeling of superiority from one towards another based strictly on ethnicity. That’s not what I get when I’m in Boston.

“To isolate Boston as this particular kind of city, I personally have grown to believe is incredibly unfair. But I must confess, I learned that when I got there. What I would hold Boston accountable for as a city is that somehow, some way, whatever your history entails, there’s this belief that you allowed to disseminate where your city was characterized in such a way, so folks who are ignorant to the city will believe such-and-such thing.”

Smith, who’s come under fire many times in his career, is no stranger to controversy. But unlike some of his fellow ESPN hosts, he says he’s always willing to defend his words.

“I inherently have a problem with anybody in our business who’s hiding,” he said. “If I got something to say about Boston and WEEI calls me, I’m coming on, because I said it. I’m not going to say something publicly and then hide. I’m very, very big on that. I believe that everybody in this business should be that way.”

On First Take, Smith and his new co-host, Max Kellerman, occasionally delve into current events. In today’s world, Smith says he believes sports and politics are connected to each other.

“I think that the world of sports and politics are intertwined,” he said. “When you see LeBron endorsing Hillary Rodham Clinton, when you hear Bill Belichick and Tom Brady being unapologetic about their friendship with Donald Trump –– along with Robert Kraft, who I revere. … When you see that along with the plethora of other athletes that have spoken out against our president and what have you, I don’t have any problem touching on those subjects.”

The intersection between sports and politics is manifested in Brady’s relationship with Trump, which has been maybe the top stories during Super Bowl week. While Smith says he doesn’t have a problem with the friendship, he thinks the topic is worth exploring.

“Where Brady gets a little bit dicey is only in this context: if you are in that position, what we’ve been taught watching news and how it becomes news in recent memory –– over the last decade or so –– the slightest little thing gives everybody an excuse to interogate and probe you,” he said. “My attitude is, ‘OK, then Brady deserves that probe.’ Not the judgment, but deserves the probe. If Donald Trump has a video, and it comes out and you hear what he’s saying, I want to know how you feel about that. I don’t want to hear, ‘I shouldn’t ask you that question.’ I want to know how Kraft feels about that, I want to know how Bill Belichick feels about that. Just the same way we know or want to hear from anybody else. That’s all it is.”

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Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: ESPN suspends Stephen A. Smith for comments related to Ray Rice incident 07.30.14 at 7:53 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.

WEDNESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Blue Jays at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Angels at Orioles, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
MLS: Colorado Rapids at New England Revolution, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE)
MLS: New York Red Bulls at Real Salt Lake, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
Soccer: Champions Cup, Manchester City vs. Liverpool 7 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

— A day after Stephen A. Smith made a videotaped apology for his comments about “provocation” by abused women as related to the Ray Rice domestic situation, ESPN announced Tuesday that Smith will not appear on “First Take” or ESPN Radio for the next week.

Smith insisted that he was not trying to imply that women had some responsibility in cases of abuse, but he did not clarify his remarks. He was discussing the case of Rice, the Ravens running back who was suspended two games by the league after being charged with assaulting his fiancee (who now is his wife).

Smith had been widely criticized, most notably by ESPN colleague Michelle Beadle, since his comments during Friday’s “First Take.”

MASHUP POLL: Should Stephen A. Smith have been suspended for his comments about victims of domestic abuse?

  • Yes, he crossed the line by trying to place some blame on the victim, despite his denial (55%, 390 Votes)
  • No, he should have the right to express his opinion (45%, 325 Votes)

Total Voters: 715

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In a memo sent to ESPN employees Tuesday, network president John Skipper wrote that he engaged in “thoughtful discussion” with a group of men and women in the company before deciding how to proceed.

Wrote Skipper: “Stephen has called what took place ‘the most egregious mistake’ of his career. I believe his apology was sincere and that he and we have learned from what we’ve collectively experienced. I’m confident we will all move forward with a greater sense of enlightenment and perspective as the lasting impact of these last few days.”

— A Browns fan who posted a YouTube video of him urinating on the Baltimore grave of former team owner Art Modell will be charged with disorderly conduct, Maryland authorities announced.

The man, who was not identified, indicates in the video that he is angry at Modell for moving the club in 1996 to Baltimore, where the team became the Ravens.

“Everyone who has buried a loved one has the right to believe that their final resting place will be treated with respect,” Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger said in a statement. “Bringing charges against this individual should act as a deterrent to others and assure the rest of us that no matter who you are, indecencies will not be committed against your final resting place.”

Said Modell’s son, former Ravens president and COO David Modell: “We also agree with the state’s attorney’s office that everyone who has buried a loved one has the right to know that the final resting place will not be defiled. We are a country of laws. Just because you’re angry, that doesn’t mean the laws no longer apply to you.”

— A major water pipe burst in Los Angeles and spewed eight million gallons of water onto the UCLA campus, flooding Pauley Pavilion less than two years after the storied basketball facility underwent a $132 million renovation and damaging other athletic facilities.

“Unfortunately, UCLA was the sink for this water source,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said, adding: “It’s painful. It’s painful. We just refurbished Pauley just a few years ago. And it’s a beautiful structure. It’s of course a symbolic structure for this entire campus.”

With the city enduring a historic drought, the 93-year-old pipe under Sunset Boulevard sent 35,000 gallons of water per minute for 3 1/2 hours.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On July 30, 1996, the Red Sox acquired Darren Bragg from the Mariners in a trade for which player whose career ended in 2012 after 25 seasons?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I will say this, that it is important that we all continue to focus as a team. ‘€¦ The things that we established a year ago and the things that we continue to build, that can’€™€™t be sacrificed with a so-called distraction taking away from the way we play. That’€™€™s unacceptable, in my mind.” Red Sox manager John Farrell, speaking before Tuesday loss to the Blue Jays, on trade rumors involving his players

STAT OF THE DAY: 0-5 — The Red Sox‘ record against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park this season, following Tuesday’s 4-2 loss

‘NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos): Manny Machado hits a walkoff home run in the 12th inning to give the Orioles a win over the Angels.

Cubs catcher John Baker pitches a scoreless top half of the 16th and then scores the winning run in the bottom of the inning against the Rockies.

From the same game, Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon makes a diving catch in the 10th inning to extend the contest.

Marlins third baseman Casey McGehee makes an impressive run-saving stab on a line drive and nearly gets a double play by rolling onto the bag.

Royals left fielder Alex Gordon lays out to make a catch of a fly ball, and it withstands a challenge by the Twins despite video that appears to show part of the ball hit the ground as he caught it.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Jamie Moyer

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Paul Anka was born on this day in 1941.

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Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: NFL VP defends league’s handling of Ray Rice case 07.29.14 at 8:07 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.

TUESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Blue Jays at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Yankees at Rangers, 8 p.m. (FS1)
MLB: Rockies at Cubs, 8 p.m. (WGN)
MLB Pirates at Giants, 10:15 p.m. (MLB Network)
WNBA: Connecticut Sun at Atlanta Dream, noon (NBA TV)
WNBA: Chicago Sky at San Antonio Silver Stars, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
WNBA: Los Angeles Sparks at Phoenix Mercury, 10 p.m. (ESPN)
Soccer: Champions Cup, Manchester United vs. Inter Milan, 6:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

— The NFL has come under heavy criticism for being too light on Ravens running back Ray Rice, who was suspended two games after being arrested for allegedly striking his then-fiancee and knocking her unconscious while they were in an elevator in Atlantic City. On Monday, NFL senior vice president of labor policy Adolpho Birch attempted to explain and defend the league’s ruling.

“The discipline that was taken by the NFL is the only discipline that occurred, with respect to Mr. Rice, in this case,” Birch said in an interview on ESPN Radio’s “Mike and Mike,” referring to Rice’s acceptance into a pretrial intervention program that will allow him to avoid a trial. “I think that, were he not an NFL player, I don’t know that he would be able to receive any punishment from any other source.

“On balance, we reviewed all the materials, listened to the persons we listened to, took the input of the Players Association. When we looked on balance at all of that, we believe that discipline we issued is appropriate. It is multiple games and hundreds of thousands of dollars. I think that’s fair to say that doesn’t reflect that you condone the behavior. I think we can put that to rest.”

MASHUP POLL: Was Ray Rice's two-game suspension fair?

  • He should have received a longer suspension based on the arrest and video (93%, 409 Votes)
  • Two games is reasonable based on the information we have (4%, 19 Votes)
  • He should not have been suspended at all, as he was not convicted of anything (2%, 10 Votes)

Total Voters: 438

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Rice reportedly will accept the two-game suspension and three-game fine that goes along with it, and Birch insists the penalty sends a strong message to other players.

“Listen, I think if you are any player and you think that based on this decision that it’s OK to go out and commit that kind of conduct, I think that is something that I would suggest to you that no player is going to go out and do that,” Birch said. “So in terms of sending a message about what the league stands for, we’ve done that. We can talk about the degree of discipline, we can talk about whether or not third parties need to be involved. I would suggest to you that a third party has been involved in this matter and that was the court that reviewed it, the prosecutor that reviewed it.

“But if it is a question about what the principle of the league is and what standards we stand by, that cannot be questioned. I think it is absolutely clear to all involved that the NFL does not condone domestic violence in any way and will not tolerate it in our league. I don’t know how you can reach a conclusion other than that although I certainly respect the opinion.”

— Meanwhile, ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith apologized Monday for his comments regarding the Rice situation, calling them “the most egregious of my career” during a taped segment on “First Take.”

“My words came across that it is somehow a woman’s fault. This was not my intent; it is not what I was trying to say. Yet the failure to clearly articulate something different lies squarely on my shoulders,” Smith said.

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Friday’s Morning Mashup: Fox sideline reporter Pam Oliver gets in digs at New Yorkers at Super Bowl business breakfast 10.25.13 at 8:04 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’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.

FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL: Ducks at Senators, 7:30 p.m. (NHL Network)
College hockey: UMass at Maine, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA preseason: Nets at Heat, 7:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
NBA preseason: Kings at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
College football: Boise State at BYU, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Soccer: Liga MX, Guadalajara at Morelia, 8:25 p.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

‘€¢ Fox Sports NFL sideline reporter Pam Oliver might not be welcome in New York anytime soon after her performance at a Super Bowl breakfast for regional business leaders Thursday in Times Square.

Oliver asked New York-New Jersey Super Bowl Committee chairman Al Kelly how his group would make sure people dressed warm enough for the February game at MetLife Stadium, and Kelly said there probably would be “a couple of idiots” who are underdressed.

Responded Oliver: “Probably Jets fans.”

Oliver later asked Jets owner Woody Johnson, “How does Rex [Ryan] keep his job,” despite the team’s 4-3 start.

Oliver, who suffered a concussion when she was hit by a wayward pass before a preseason game in August at the Meadowlands, also got in a dig about the 1-6 Giants, asking co-owner Jonathan Tisch to explain “what in the hell is the matter with the Giants?”

The loudest groans (and boos) from the crowd came when Oliver asked members of the panel how they would “instruct people of this area, particularly New Yorkers, to be nice? To say, ‘please,’ ‘thank you,’ and, ‘I’ll get that.’ ”

Qualified Oliver: “I’m sorry — I’m from the South.”

Responded Tisch: “I’m from New York City, and I take exception with that. New Yorkers are unbelievably hospitable.”

‘€¢ For the third time in three years, Stephen A. Smith is denying he used the N-word during an appearance on ESPN’s “First Take.” During a debate with co-host Skip Bayless on Wednesday, Smith appeared to say, “That’s the way it goes. That’s all! [N-word], please. Please.”

As he did the previous two times, Smith has insisted he did not use the offensive word. ESPN apparently agrees — at least publicly.

“We have concluded no inappropriate language was used after closely reviewing the segment several times, including physical aspects of speech and speaking to Stephen A., who maintains he jumbled his words,” an ESPN spokesperson said.

Following the controversy in 2012, when he appeared to say the word in a similar manner, Smith insisted people misunderstood him.

“I did not say the things reported that I said,” he explained then. “Hopefully I will not have to address this again. ‘€¦ If I were to have said anything like that, I would have instantly issued an apology.”

‘€¢ In ESPN’s recent annual player rank, the media entity tabbed Lakers star Kobe Bryant as the 25th-best player in the league, dropping him 19 spots from a year ago. Another ESPN poll had the Lakers 12th in the Western Conference.

That’s not sitting well with Bryant, who last week changed his Twitter avatar to “1225.”

On Thursday, Bryant made it clear he hasn’t softened his stance, telling reporters that anyone who thinks he’s only 25th best in the NBA needs drug testing.

“The way I look at it, 25 is pretty silly,” he said. “Still and all, it’s a challenge that I willingly accept.”

Bryant, 35, tore his Achilles’ tendon in April and missed the postseason after averaging 27.3 points and 5.6 assists in 78 games. He appears doubtful for the team’s regular-season opener Tuesday night after acknowledging pulling back on his rehab to “let it heal up a little bit more.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Oct. 25, 1986, the Red Sox famously lost Game 6 of the World Series to the Mets despite having a two-run lead in the 10th inning. Which Mets pitcher — who later played for the Red Sox — got the win even though he surrendered two runs in the top of the 10th?

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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Knicks reportedly pull plug on coach Mike Woodson’s regular radio spot 05.16.13 at 8:05 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.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL playoffs: Rangers at Bruins, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL playoffs: Sharks at Kings, 10 p.m. (NBCSN)
Hockey World Championships: United States vs. Russia, 6 a.m. (NBCSN)
Hockey World Championships: Switzerland vs. Czech Republic, 8:30 a.m. (NBCSN)
Hockey World Championships: Finland vs. Slovakia, 11 a.m. (NBCSN)
Hockey World Championships: Canada vs. Sweden, 2 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA playoffs: Pacers at Knicks, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA playoffs: Spurs at Warriors, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Scouting combine, 10 a.m. (ESPNU)
MLB: Red Sox at Rays, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Tigers at Rangers, 8:05 p.m. (MLB Network)

AROUND THE WEB:

‘™¦ The Knicks, who have long been criticized for paranoid and vindictive behavior under owner James Dolan, added another chapter Wednesday when they reportedly banned coach Mike Woodson from his regular radio spot on New York’s ESPN-98.7 a day after the team’s Game 4 loss to the Pacers that left New York in a 3-1 hole heading into Thursday night’s Game 5.

Co-host Stephen A. Smith, who has been known to show favoritism toward the Knicks, on Wednesday declared the season over and called the Knicks “a decrepit old bunch.”

“Mike Woodson was supposed to be coming on, ladies and gentlemen. We didn’t lie to you. The New York Knicks organization backed out.” Smith said on Wednesday’s show. “The coach didn’t back out because Mike Woodson wouldn’t do that — no matter what he says.”

The station is the Knicks’ broadcast partner, airing the team’s games along with pregame and postgame shows. Woodson is paid for his appearances.

Station boss David Roberts tried to downplay the issue.

“In no way do I think this reflects on the relationship with our partners at the Garden. In fact the relationship is very good,” Roberts said. “We look forward to Mike Woodson appearing on the show with Stephen A Smith and Ryan Ruocco Friday — win or lose.”

Woodson, meanwhile, did meet with the media Wednesday and said guard J.R. Smith‘s declaration that the team’s struggles are his fault because of his poor play is not accurate.

“I’€™m the head coach. Blame it on me,” Woodson said. “I don’€™t look at it in that light. The bottom line is we’€™re all trying to do the right things to win basketball games. If we don’€™t have the slippage to start the series, we’€™re feeling pretty good about ourselves. But right now our backs are against the wall and my job is to get us out of this hole.”

‘™¦ One day after he insulted Mets fans — saying, “I don’t answer to fans. They don’t play this game. They have no idea what goes on” — manager Terry Collins went into damage control.

“Of course I regret the choice of words. I certainly respect the New York fans,” Collins said before Wednesday night’€™s 4-2 loss to the Cardinals that dropped New York to a season-worst nine games below .500 at 14-23. “They’€™re the most knowledgeable fans I’€™ve ever been around. They know the game. They know the people.”

Added Collins: “You know, I’€™m a human being. I used a bad choice of words. But I’€™m also frustrated. Here we are, we’€™re scuffling, scuffling. There’€™s one topic to talk about. And I understand that we’€™re not playing good, so that’€™s the story. I’€™m aware of that. And I’€™m tired of talking about it. I want to talk about getting better.

“So, that was my fault, nobody else’€™s fault. I wasn’€™t baited into anything. ‘€¦ Once again, I want our fans to understand that I’€™m working my butt off to get better. Period.”

‘™¦ With umpires coming under fire for a couple of blunders this month, Real Clear Sports has a list of the top 10 blown calls in baseball history.

No. 1 is Don Denkinger‘s safe call at first base in the ninth inning of Game 6 of the 1985 World Series that gave the Royals another life and led to a comeback against the Cardinals. No. 2 is Jim Joyce‘s missed call at first that cost Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game in 2010.

There are two entries involving the Red Sox. No. 6 is Larry Barnett‘s non-call of interference against Reds batter Ed Armbrister that led to a Carlton Fisk throwing error in the 10th inning of Game 3 of the 1975 World Series. No. 8 is Tim Tschida‘s brutally bad out call of Jose Offerman on the basepath in Game 4 of the 1999 ALCS against the Yankees.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On May 16, 1989, Mike Milbury was hired as Bruins coach, replacing which individual?

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