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With “Madden NFL 17″ now spreading across the population of the U.S. and infecting all like the zombie virus, CBS Sports has done what it does every year the game comes out, which is to run a simulation of the entire upcoming NFL season. With spectacular results. Which is to say, spectacularly ridiculous results.

The highlights:

  • The CBS simulation has the AFC East shaking out like this:
    Patriots 10-6
    Dolphins 9-7*
    Jets 7-9
    Bills 5-10-1
  • It has the Patriots losing in the wild card round to the Steelers in Foxboro by a score of 43-35.
  • And Tom Brady, apparently shaken by his early-season suspension, demoralized by his team’s worst regular season in 15 years, and stunned at the sight of the Steelers humiliating him with the worst one-and-done postseason of his career, retires at the end of 2016 in shame.

Wow. That is quite a virtual world. It’s like having a “Sims” family where the the dad is a serial abuser, mom is addicted to pills, the older brother is a meth tweaker, the sister goes into prostitution and your character hangs himself in an auto-erotic asphyxiation exercise gone horribly wrong. It’s the football equivalent of Dwight Schrute’s “Second Life” character except instead of also being a paper salesman named Dwight who can fly, he’s homeless and lives behind a dumpster.

It wouldn’t be unreasonable for Patriots fans to be a little concerned. Assuming these “Madden” ratings of player performance are fairly accurate, the assessment of teams is based somewhat on past performance and these sims have been to some extent predictive of things like Super Bowl matchups in the past. Hell, simulations like this are used to predict weather, famines and wars, with sometimes uncanny accuracy. A 10-6 season by the Patriots followed by a blowout loss in the first round of the playoffs and Brady walking away in disgust is not out of the realm of possibility.

Wait. The simulation also has the Falcons winning the Super Bowl. That would be the same Falcons who went 8-8 last year, were 21st in offense and 19th in defense, and whose quarterback Matt Ryan has lost the confidence of everyone on Earth. Just for that alone, EA Sports should do a nationwide recall on all “Madden 17″ games and completely rework the software because this thing is broke.

I think we’re safe, New England. Nothing to see here.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Thornton

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.

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: Rays at Red Sox, 1:35 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Athletics at Astros, 2 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Diamondbacks at Giants, 5 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Pirates at Cubs, 8:05 p.m. (ESPN)
WNBA: Wings at Storm, 10 p.m. (NBA TV)
Tennis: U.S. Open, 1 p.m. (ESPN), 6 p.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

— Vikings players were so disturbed by quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s freak injury Tuesday that practice had to be canceled on the spot.

The 2014 first-round draft pick was dropping back to pass during a non-contract drill when his left leg gave out. He suffered a dislocated knee and torn ACL that will sideline him for at least this season.

Some players were swearing as they walked off the field, while others knelt in prayer as Bridgewater was receiving medical attention. An ambulance quickly arrived to take him to the hospital.

Tweeted receiver Jarius Wright: Sometimes the worst things happen to the best [people]. God has a plan.

Coach Mike Zimmer faces a challenge trying to get his team ready for Thursday’s final preseason game against the Rams and then the regular season.

“I’m not going to let this team feel sorry for itself,” Zimmer said. “We’re going to grieve today and be upset about it. It’s more about our feelings for Teddy and him as a person and getting better than it is about anything else. Teddy’s a great kid and he’ll be back as soon as he possibly can if it is real bad. But we’re going to keep fighting.”

Bridgewater’s backup is 36-year-old Shaun Hill, who started eight games for the Rams in 2014 but has not played much since. Taylor Heinicke, an undrafted free agent who was the team’s No. 3 quarterback last season, has been out all preseason with a foot injury and is not expected to return to practice until late September. Undrafted rookie Joel Stave reportedly has not inspired much confidence with his performance in practice.

“We’re not going to stick our heads in the sand, we’re not going to tuck our [tail between] our legs,” Zimmer said. “We’re not looking for excuses. We’re going to go out and fight like we always do.”

— Baylor wide receiver Ismael Zamora apologized after being suspended for three games by the school for beating his dog.

A video of Zamora hitting his dog eight times with a belt and kicking it was obtained by KXXV News Channel 25 in Waco, Texas, last week. The incident happened in June, and Zamora was charged with a Class C misdemeanor and fined.

Baylor also said the sophomore must perform 40 hours of community service, and he was forced to undergo counseling and give up the dog to relatives.

“I am sorry that I took out my frustration on my dog and accept the punishment that comes with it,” Zamora said in a statement. “This incident will never, ever happen again. I truly love my dog, however, I know that my actions showed differently and I know that I made a big mistake. I apologize to my family, teammates, Baylor University and our fans for my actions.

“Eventually, I hope that everyone can see who I really am and that I am not a terrible person. This incident does not and will not define me, and I know that I am the one who will have to prove that to others in the days ahead.”

Zamora, who caught nine passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns last season, had been listed as a starter on the depth chart that the team released Monday.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Aug. 31, 2002, which Red Sox player committed an error for the first time in 250 games, ending his American League-record fielding streak at 592 chances?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “You can’t let one of their big sticks beat you, and I did.” — Red Sox reliever Clay Buchholz, after allowing an eighth-inning home run Tuesday to Evan Longoria in Boston’s 4-3 loss to the Rays

STAT OF THE DAY: 28 — Major league teams that sent representatives to watch Tim Tebow’s workout Tuesday in Los Angeles, with only the Cubs and Athletics taking a pass

‘NET RESULTS: Rougned Odor sends the Rangers home happy with a two-run, walk-off home run in an 8-7 victory over the Mariners.

Indians pitcher Zach McAllister shows some nifty footwork to make a catch against the Twins.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Johnny Damon

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Van Morrison was born on this day in 1945.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar

I’m happy to be joined on the latest Unsportsmanlike Podcast by Red Sox legend, counterculture icon and bottomless well of brilliant, bizarro philosophy Bill Lee. We talk about his new biopic “Spaceman” starring Josh Duhamel. Plus we get into his political beliefs, drug use, friendship with Hunter S. Thompson, what his vision of a utopia is like and … I can’t even remember what else. Basically I throw him questions and he spins gold, like he has throughout his entire life.

Needless to say, this is one of my favorite podcasts ever. Enjoy.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Thornton


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ObserverAn international team of scientists from the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is investigating mysterious signal spikes emitting from a 6.3-billion-year-old star in the constellation Hercules—95 light years away from Earth. The implications are extraordinary and point to the possibility of a civilization far more advanced than our own. …

So far, a single Neptune-like (but warmer) planet has been discovered in its orbit—HD 164595 b. But as Gilster explained, “There could, of course, be other planets still undetected in this system.” …

“The signal conceivably fits the profile for an intentional transmission from an extraterrestrial source,” said Alan Boyle, author of The Case for Pluto.

By way of full disclosure, no sooner did this story start blowing up the Internet than a few scientific buzzkills claimed there’s nothing to see here. But that’s the kind exactly the kind of thing the lab coat crowd would be saying right up until the time the mother ship is settling into geosynchronous orbit above the Capitol and opening the death-ray doors.

Well, they can’t fool me. This thing is real and it’s spectacular. This is why we put all them radar dishes out in the desert. This is why we put all them technicians out there to monitor this stuff when they could be working on advancements like perfecting virtual reality porn so you can do it with cyber-Alison Brie without breaking your marriage vows. It’s so that when the time comes when we finally get a call from the HD 164595 b-ians (nice name, eggheads. This why we need poets), someone will be there to answer the phone.

But in speculating who or what kind of beings are friend-requesting us, the mind reels at the infinite possibilities. Could it be an “advanced civilization” on an Neptune-like planet? A wise, Vulcan-like race, interested in being our sidekicks once we start exploring the galaxy? An evil empire asking if we’ve seen the droids they’re looking for? Big-eyed, adorable little goblins who want to befriend our kids until they croak and we autopsy them? Jodie Foster’s dead father, God forbid? Or is it just Bill Belichick’s people signaling him to complete his mission with another Super Bowl and then beam home?

It could be anything. But the timing on this is pretty curious to me. The fact this came out today of all days tells me this signal could only come from one source.

For we are the singers of songs and the dreamers of dreams. Rest in peace, Gene Wilder.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Thornton
Craig Sager

Craig Sager

NBA sideline reporter Craig Sager called in to the Dennis & Callahan show with Minihane on Monday during the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon to give an update on his battle with leukemia and to urge listeners to donate. To hear the interview, visit the D&C audio on demand page.

Calling from his hospital bed at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Sager said he has been at the hospital for over a month and has had two chemotherapy sessions in the last four days. He is scheduled to have his third bone marrow transplant on Wednesday.

“[This is the] first time that MD Anderson has done a third transplant for AML patients,” Sager said. “Overall, I’m in uncharted territory here.”

Sager’s ongoing battle with leukemia has inspired many across the country, and has started a Sager Strong Foundation to help other leukemia patients and families. Many NBA players and personnel have reached out to Sager, who is surprised at how his story has grown into something bigger.

“At first it was just … speaking to the kids, then it kept building and I realized it was something beyond that,” Sager said. “It wasn’t about me, it was about what I represented, and that was somebody who refuses to give up, refuses to give in … does his job, has the same attitude, and is going to keep fighting.”

Following are more highlights from the interview.

On why he didn’t use a teleprompter for his ESPYs speech: “They’re very organized, they want you to put it on a teleprompter, but I went to rehearsal and said I don’t want a teleprompter. If I get to some point at my speech and I’m off of what I was talking about, I don’t want to have to look at the teleprompter and correct myself.”

On whether he debated working NBA games despite continuing to get treatment: “No debate. I’m going back to work. I was all over the doctors, I said, ‘Let me go back to work,’ and they said ‘No.’ … I want to go back, I want to do the games, I got to get back to opening night for the ring ceremony, I got to go back. I was pushing them all over the place. The first time they did let me go back after the All-Star Game was in New York. … Then last year I was able to come back for the ring ceremony at Golden State. I don’t know how long I will be out, I’d like to hope for medical progress and be try to back for opening night this year, but it might not happen.”

On the most surprising shoutout he has gotten: “I think when Joe Biden surprised me and introduced me at the ESPYs, that took it to another level. It’s no longer sports now, that’s mainstream. So that was the biggest surprise I’ve had.”

On why it is important to donate to cancer research: “Over the past 20 years we’ve made a lot of progress in fighting cancer, but much work needs to be done. Whether you donate to the Jimmy V fund and make a small foundation — or a major cancer research organization around the country or just to your local hospitals. Please, please donate. It’s a disease that affects everybody, we’re trying to figure out a way to put an end to it, and if you just help out, we appreciate it very much.”

Blog Author: 
Nicholas Frazier


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My man Chris Price posted this earlier. But I feel like if I didn’t piggyback on this item, I’d be betraying everything I stand for. So forgive me this indulgence.

Here’s the thing. I like celebrity roasts. I love comedy when nothing is off limits. No joke is too cruel. Filthy is welcome. Political correctness does not apply. No insult is so demeaning that it offends any group, demographic, gender or orientation, least of all the celebrity being roasted. Sacred cows make the best hamburger, after all.

That said, this is typical Peyton Manning. Exactly the kind of cheap, back-stabbing, disloyal, drive by punk-ass insult we’ve come to expect from this thumb-headed goober. And of course, delivered with that slow-witted Oh gee whiz, ah’m just an ol’ country boy who don’t mean no harm, jus’ havin’ some fun fake humility he’s been using to get away with cheap shotting people his entire career.

Tom Brady has been carrying Peyton Manning’s fragile psyche like an egg balancing in a spoon since he first started beating Manning’s teams in 2001. Through every failure, each of his NFL record 13 postseason losses, through all the terrible interceptions and miserable performances in weather Manning couldn’t handle, Brady has always had his back as much as any of his media apologists.

When Manning was going one-and-done in the postseason an unthinkable eight times, Tom Brady said nothing. When he was tainted (pun intended) by the U. of Tennessee teabagging scandal, Brady stayed Code of Silence about it. And when PayMeaTon was implicated for HGH used by Al Jazeera and sent goons over to the house of the parents of his chief accuser posing as cops to intimidate them, Brady kept his tongue behind his perfectly white teeth.

And as payback for all that loyalty, Manning keeps the Deflategate fiction going the very first chance he gets. His alleged good buddy Tom Brady, whom he wrote a letter to just so he could make a quick buck including it in a commercial later on, is being railroaded by an evil corporate entity run by a power-crazed despot. Any real friend — not to mention fellow union member — worth having would be enraged. But when you’re Peyton Manning, it’s a laugh line.

And not a particularly good one. The worst thing Brady ever said about Manning was in a private email when he told someone Manning would be retired in two years, which turned out to be spot on. After this, he’ll hopefully understand that this two-faced pizza salesman is nothing more than a frenemy and use it as even more motivation to blow the doors off every quarterback record in the books. Starting with winning a fifth Super Bowl. Then the joke will be on Peyton.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Thornton

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.

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: Rays at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Pirates at Cubs, 8 p.m. (MLB Network)
WNBA: Mercury at Fever, 7 p.m. (NBA TV)
Tennis: U.S. Open, 1 p.m. (ESPN), 7 p.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick

— Colin Kaepernick said that neither the 49ers nor the NFL have contacted him about his decision to sit during the national anthem to protest America’s race problem, but they might soon be forced to address the issue.

The president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association sent a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and 49ers CEO Jed York criticizing Kaepernick’s actions as a “total lack of sensitivity” toward police.

“I only wish Mr. Kaepernick could see the emotional and psychological challenges that our officers face following a fatal encounter,” Martin Halloran wrote. “Some are so affected they never return to the streets. In short, Mr. Kaepernick has embarrassed himself, the 49er organization, and the NFL based on a false narrative and misinformation that lacks any factual basis.”

Kaepernick sat on the bench during the anthem for all three preseason games, and he said he plans to continue his protest.

Jim Harbaugh, who coached Kaepernick in San Francisco for four seasons until leaving for the University of Michigan last year, said at his Monday press conference that Kaepernick that he has mixed feelings about the situation.

“I acknowledge his right to do that. I don’t respect the motivation or the action,” Harbaugh said, later clarifying on Twitter: I support Colin’s motivation. It’s his method of action that I take exception to.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he supports Kaepernick’s right to speak out, but he would be concerned about the effect on his team.

“You respect our team, our organization and the other players,” Harbaugh said. “You respect the mission that we’re on and what we’re trying to accomplish. None of us ever want us to detract or disrespect the efforts of all the other players on the football team. That’s the balance that all of us have to strike when we speak out about something like that.”

Meanwhile, Eagles rookie undrafted free agent linebacker Myke Tavarres said Monday that he also would sit during the national anthem during his team’s preseason game against the Jets this Thursday, but his agent said later that the player had changed his mind after consulting with his agent and college coaches.

“As a rookie, his goal is not to be a distraction for the Eagles,” agent Corey Williams said. “His coaches at Incarnate Word and I advised him to stand.”

— Even before his Tuesday tryout for major league teams, Tim Tebow has an offer to play baseball with an established winner.

Five-time Venezuelan Professional Baseball League champion Aguilas del Zulia reportedly sent a contract offer to Tebow’s agents Monday.

“He’s a great talent,” Aguilas general manager Luis Amaro (brother of Red Sox coach Ruben Amaro Jr.) told Yahoo Sports. “He’s an athlete. He’s won the Heisman. He’s won two national championships. I know baseball is a hard game, but he’ll either adjust and show he’s ready to play pro ball or not. I think it’s low risk, high reward for Zulia.”

The 29-year-old former NFL quarterback is scheduled to work out before major league scouts Tuesday. He has not played competitive baseball since his junior year of high school.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Aug. 30, 1997, Nomar Garciaparra’s American League rookie-record hitting streak came to an end against the Braves at how many games?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It’s a huge culture shock. I felt like the winning spirit was making its way into Cleveland with [new coach Hue Jackson], but it’s definitely been established here for a long time. I’m just excited to be a part of it.” New Patriots linebacker Barkevious Mingo

STAT OF THE DAY: 13-0 — Rick Porcello’s record at Fenway Park this season, after Tuesday’s 9-4 victory over the Rays

‘NET RESULTS: Yoenis Cespedes rips a walk-off home run in the 10th inning to give the Mets a win over the Marlins.

After Jorge Soler ties the game in the ninth inning with a home run, the Cubs fall behind again in the 13th but score twice for a walk-off win over the Pirates.

In a scoreless game in the 10th inning, Jason Kipnis hits a walk-off single to lift the Indians over the Twins.

Mariners center fielder Leonys Martin scales the wall to steal a home run from the Rangers.

TRIVIA ANSWER: 30

SOOTHING SOUNDS: The late John Phillips, of the Mamas and the Papas, was born on this day in 1935. He’s the tall one (he played college basketball at Hampden-Sydney College).

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar
Christian delves into the hot topic of the day, Colin Kaepernick's protest of the National Anthem. There's no shortage of callers giving Arcand their opinions on the matter.