Chris Long, January 27, 2015Deflategate is the perfect storm of media and sports hype. … It isn’t about unbalanced sets or the read option or Cover 2. It’s about air in a football. Air. Everyone knows a bit about that. Cue the experts! …

[M]orning show hosts clutching deflated pigskins, scientists theorizing on ESPN, and even government officials weighing in on the firmness of our nation’s footballs. … Krispy Kreme was one of the most notable. I even saw Maker’s Mark take an awkward shot at it. (Just another reason I prefer Jack Daniels.) …

You want to know who handles the football more than anyone on the field? The refs. … [I]f a football feels so obviously different at 11 psi than it does at 13.5 psi — enough to argue that it lends a team a competitive advantage — maybe the best officials on the planet should have noticed something was awry that night at Gillette. …

One guy I noticed last week was the host of the ESPN’s Sport Science, John Brenkus (a trustworthy University of Virginia grad at that). He concluded that “underinflated balls had a miniscule effect on any given play.” As ESPN’s authority on the the intersection of physics and sports, I couldn’t help but wonder if he made the folks in Bristol a little uncomfortable. The mothership has tirelessly led the effort to make Deflategate a spectacle. …

Aaron Rodgers has reportedly said that he likes to “push the limit” on football air pressure. … the best quarterback also seems to employ a bit of gamesmanship. …

Let’s get down to it: this story isn’t as much about air pressure as it is about the cult of the New England Patriots. The Patriots are really good at two things: winning football games and not giving a s*** what you think about them.

I can’t believe what I just went back and re-read. I mean, I vaguely remember Chris Long saying this at the time. Mainly because he was a lone voice of reason during a time when the whole nation lost it’s damned mind over Deflategate. But now that he’s a Patriot, it takes on a whole new meaning.

Ridiculing the absurdity of the whole “scandal”? Mocking the media and politicians? Singling out ESPN? Quoting John Brenkus’ irrefutable science? Pointing out other quarterbacks who openly admit they like the footballs doctored? Praising the Patriots for their winning ways and the way they give zero Fs about what other people think?

I’d resent Chris Long for working my side of the street, but I can’t. Instead, I think we just became best friends. I don’t want to rip him, I want to invite him to come do karate in the garage.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Thornton
The morning shows volatile co-host Kirk Minihane talks with SI's media columnist Richard Deitsch about ESPN's coverage of Manning's retirement, the networks handling of deflategate, and Deitsch's previous criticisms of the Dennis and Callahan morning show.

 

Hi Tom I’m Marty. Let’s do this.

A photo posted by Martellus Bennett (@martellusb) on

If it wasn’t clear to you before, it should be by now. Bill Belichick is playing Wizard’s Chess, and the rest of the NFL is playing Pie Face.

It took a few days after the free agency period to open, as it always does, for his vision to take shape. Once again, he let every other GM rush in when the Doorbuster sale began. He calmly sat in the food court having a churro and let them tear each other apart over the shiny, exciting, expensive new toys they overpaid for. Then he casually strolled in and started scooping up bargains.

Here, in no particular order, are the guys Belichick has acquired so far. Tell me if you see a pattern here that will help your 2016 Patriots:

Martellus Marty Bennett. A massive tight end who caught 90 passes for 916 yards just two seasons ago. Which means that the Patriots’ tight end (Rob Gronkowski and Bennett) pair combined for 172 catches and over 2000 yards in 2014. But Bennett has been unhappy about his contract in Chicago and is the final year of his deal, meaning he has a lot to prove in 2016.

— Shea McClellin. I had a massive draft crush on the Boise St. linebacker when he came out in 2012. But he went off the board to Chicago two picks before the Pats took Chandler Jones — 19th overall. His 53 tackles last year don’t sound like much, but they were good for third best on the Bears and were more than any linebacker on the Patriots. Still, he’s been considered somewhat of a bust in Chicago, which means he has a lot to prove in 2016.

— Jonathan Cooper. The guard the Pats got back in the Jones trade was the seventh overall pick in the 2013 draft and graded out very highly in the Patriots’ war room. But between injuries and ineffectiveness in Arizona, this upcoming season was considered to be his make-or-break year. Meaning he has a lot to prove in 2016.

— Chris Long. The former Rams defensive end was the second overall pick in 2008 and for the most part, has lived up to expectations. But he’s been injured the last two seasons, has played in only one playoff game his entire career, and according to Peter King, was only interested in signing with a winner. A couple of league officials told King, “if he visited New England, and if Belichick wanted him, there was no way they had a shot to get him.” So he comes to the Pats for a lot less money than he could have gotten because his top priority is to win a ring. So he has a lot to prove in 2016.

— Chris Hogan. An afterthought in Buffalo as a slot receiver, Hogan steps into an offense that makes superstars out of afterthought slot receivers. Meaning … ah, you get the picture.

This are the fruits of Belichick’s labor, and as far as we know, he’s far from finished. Loads of first round-caliber talent. All with some shortcomings, injury history or question marks, but all with something to prove. And all bargains that don’t tip over the club’s salary structure or make it hard to keep the core players of a championship team going forward.

It’s not easy being patient. We live in a “want it now” culture. (“What do we want?” Instant gratification! “When do we want it?” What do you think?!?) But once again, patience is paying off in New England.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Thornton

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.

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:
NBA: Trail Blazers at Spurs, 8:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
NBA: Suns at Jazz, 9 p.m. (NBA TV)
College basketball: NCAA Tournament, UNC Wilmington vs. Duke, 12:15 p.m. (CBS)
College basketball: NCAA Tournament, Butler vs. Texas Tech, 12:40 p.m. (truTV)
College basketball: NCAA Tournament, UConn vs. Colorado, 1:30 p.m. (TNT)
College basketball: NCAA Tournament, Iona vs. Iowa State, 2 p.m. (TBS)
College basketball: NCAA Tournament, Yale vs. Baylor, 2:45 p.m. (CBS)
College basketball: NCAA Tournament, Hampton vs. Virginia, 3:!0 p.m. (truTV)
College basketball: NCAA Tournament, Austin Peay vs. Kansas, 4 p.m. (TNT)
College basketball: NCAA Tournament, Arkansas-Little Rock vs. Purdue, 4:30 p.m. (TBS)
College basketball: NCAA Tournament, Buffalo vs. Miami, 6:50 p.m. (TNT)
College basketball: NCAA Tournament, Chatanooga vs. Indiana, 7:10 p.m. (CBS)
College basketball: NCAA Tournament, Florida Gulf Coast vs. North Carolina, 7:20 p.m. (TBS)
College basketball: NCAA Tournament, Fresno State vs. Utah, 7:27 p.m. (truTV)
College basketball: NCAA Tournament, Wichita State vs. Arizona, 9:20 p.m. (TNT)
College basketball: NCAA Tournament, Stony Brook vs. Kentucky, 9:40 p.m. (CBS)
College basketball: NCAA Tournament, Providence vs. USC, 9:50 p.m. (TBS)
College basketball: NCAA Tournament, Gonzaga vs. Seton Hall, 9:57 p.m. (truTV)
Soccer: UEFA Europa, Villareal CF at Bayer 04 Leverkusen, 2 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: UEFA Europa, Liverpool at Manchester United, 4 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

Adam LaRoche

Adam LaRoche

— Adam LaRoche’s decision to retire from the White Sox sparked a national debate Wednesday after it was revealed that his move was prompted by the team asking him to minimize his 14-year-old son’s presence at spring training.

White Sox president Kenny Williams acknowledged Wednesday that he spoke to LaRoche twice in the last week, asking the one-time Red Sox first baseman to cut back on his son’s time at camp so the team could be more focused.

“I want to be very clear on something. It’s not because the young man was a distraction, not because he wasn’t well-received or well-liked by players management and everyone else,” Williams said. “He’s a quality, quality young kid that one day might be a heck of a player one day. Anyway, one of the things we said coming into this season is, ‘Let’s check all the columns’ with regards to our preparation, our focus to give us every chance to win.”

Added Williams: “To have his child on the field 100 percent of the time, and that’s kind of where we were, every day, yeah, I asked him initially just dial it back. Even 50 percent is probably too much, but there is a wide range between zero and 50 percent.

“I was a little surprised at the stance that he took. It’s unfortunate. But talk about a quality decision, a life decision and a family decision. He talked about being there for his family and family first and front and center, and I respect and admire that.”

Around baseball — and the team — LaRoche received widespread support.

“On our side of things, I think everyone would say we enjoyed Drake LaRoche in the clubhouse and everything he brought to the clubhouse,” White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton said. “He helped out around and wasn’t a burden by any stretch of the imagination. He wasn’t a big problem last year, either. … Adam and Drake are probably the most respected people in baseball I ever played with. Drake would clean cleats, he would help out in drills, pick up baseballs when we needed, he didn’t say boo to anybody and was never a trouble in the clubhouse.”

Tweeted National League MVP Bryce Harper, who played alongside LaRoche with the Nationals from 2011-14: Good for you Roche! Nothing like father and son in the clubhouse..It’s a FAMILY game.

The team asked LaRoche to reconsider, although Williams said the 36-year-old “seemed pretty convicted in his decision.” LaRoche, who hit just .207 with 12 home runs last season, would give up $13 million in salary if he does not return.

Williams stressed that he thought it was “great” for kids to be around the team. However, he said, “I just don’t think it’s great every day.”

— Goose Gossage’s recent tirade about players’ obnoxious behavior was not well-received by everyone, but he has some support from at least one young star.

Angels outfielder Mike Trout said Wednesday he agrees that bat-flipping after a home run is disrespectful.

“I just keep it the same,” Trout told reporters from spring training. “I don’t try to show anybody up. Whatever somebody else does, that’s what they do.”

Nationals star Bryce Harper recently called baseball “a tired sport, because you can’t express yourself,” but Trout puts limits on that expression. He said he sometimes flips the bat during batting practice, but not when the pitches are for real.

“During the game, I just hit the ball and go,” he said, noting that bat-flipping “definitely” shows up the pitcher. “As a pitcher, I’d be pretty upset.”

— FIFA publicly acknowledged Wednesday that corrupt members of its organization handed out tens of millions of dollars in bribes related to World Cups, but the group had an ulterior motive in finally admitting the obvious: It wants a big chunk of the money back.

A day after filing a claim to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York, FIFA released a statement saying the money should go back to soccer’s governing body to be put to better use.

“The convicted defendants abused the positions of trust they held at FIFA and other international football organizations and caused serious and lasting damage to FIFA,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said Wednesday in a statement. “The monies they pocketed belonged to global football and were meant for the development and promotion of the game. FIFA as the world governing body of football wants that money back and we are determined to get it no matter how long it takes.”

In addition to asking for the return of the bribes, FIFA requests for money to pay legal bills and for damages for harm to its reputation.

“These dollars were meant to build football fields, not mansions and pools; to buy football kits, not jewelry and cars; and to fund youth player and coach development, not to underwrite lavish lifestyles for football and sports marketing executives,” Infantino said.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On March 17, 1979, which Bruins goalie got the win in a 4-2 decision over the visiting Blackhawks and became the third netminder in team history with 200 wins in a B’s uniform?

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“I like the city a lot. It’s cold, but they love sports here. It’s a family atmosphere I feel when I walk around the city, so yeah, I like it a lot.” — Thunder star and pending free agent Kevin Durant, speaking prior to Wednesday’s Thunder-Celtics game at TD Garden, on how he feels about Boston

STAT OF THE DAY: 63 — Years since Holy Cross won an NCAA Tournament game, until Wednesday’s 59-54 victory over Southern in a First Four matchup

‘NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos): Wizards guard Ramon Sessions shows that NBA players can look just as silly as anyone, as he fumbles the ball away while trying to shoot a 3-footer.

Monmouth’s bench celebrates a 3-pointer in Wednesday’s NIT win over Bucknell by doing sit-ups.

In the latest “This is SportsCenter” bit, golfer Jordan Spieth gets some advice from his caddie before diving into a bowl of mac and cheese.



TRIVIA ANSWER:
Gerry Cheevers

SOOTHING SOUNDS: John Sebastian, who first made a name for himself as lead singer of the Lovin’ Spoonful, was born on this day in 1944.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar
In the last hour of Mut till Midnight, John Tomase joins the show to talk everything Red Sox. He sheds light on the latest clubhouse incident involving Pablo Sandoval and offers explanation at the crazy Adam LaRoche retirement.

[0:00:13] ... was the only move Cuba after the bad apple once again. John Hanley Ramirez with the glove diving play across his body at first base. Underhand toss for the out and gas B look like an ...
[0:00:53] ... or tonight. I hitting line drive again he's using the whole field John Farrell and for the game I think it's that more ball. More hard hit ball up the middle and spring training and he had virtually all of last year. That's the hitter Hanley Ramirez has always been that the guy who was an all star. If you put those two things together. Then maybe you got ...
[0:06:15] ... as players who are going to be bothered by this judgment of Curt Schilling and Curt Schilling L. He could be outspoken about it wouldn't consider him a sensitive. Guy Jon Lester same thing. I would worry about him ...
[0:06:58] ... what he spoke with that out of it and seeking a doctor Brian Butterfield today. And asked him about do you worry about this exact issue and that probably competent guy but you know John Farrell asked that question. This morning he was asking me about it confident so I think it's fair to say. That barrel at ...






Oklahoma's Buddy Hield is one of the most exciting players in this year's tournament.</p>
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We discuss Durant's comments about Boston from today and whether or not KD would consider wearing green.
We discuss Durant's comments about Boston from today and whether or not KD would consider wearing green.
We discuss Durant's comments about Boston from today and whether or not KD would consider wearing green.