Blog en Vince Wilfork announces on Twitter Patriots won’t pick up his option, becomes free agent <!--paging_filter--><div id="attachment_79168" style="width: 160px" class="wp-caption alignright"><img class="size-full wp-image-79168" src="" alt="Vince Wilfork" width="150" height="216" /><p class="wp-caption-text"><a href="" class="r_lapi">Vince Wilfork</a></p></div> <p>With the league year set to get underway next week, the Patriots needed to find ways to get under the salary cap. The first domino has fallen, as Vince Wilfork <a href="" target="_blank">announced on Twitter</a> Thursday morning the Patriots won&#8217;t pick up his option for 2015.</p> <p>The move frees up $8.1 million for the Patriots.</p> <p>Wifork said, &#8220;I am in a good place and have a great relationship with the Patriots organization.&#8221; He also added: &#8220;I will take some time think things through taking into consideration many things but mainly my family and see where life goes from there.&#8221;</p> <p>The defensive tackle is now a free agent, having played all 12 seasons in the NFL with the Patriots.</p> <p>More coming&#8230;</p> Blog patriots Other Thu, 05 Mar 2015 14:09:51 +0000 1008931 at Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Yankees DH Alex Rodriguez grateful for supportive fans after hitting ‘rock bottom’ <!--paging_filter--><p>Welcome to Thursday&#8217;s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our <a href="" target="_blank"> home page</a> or <a href="" target="_blank">click here for the top stories from our news wire</a>.</p> <p><strong>THURSDAY&#8217;S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:</strong><br /> <a class="r_lapi" href="">NHL</a>: Flames at Bruins, 7 p.m. (NESN)<br /> NBA: Thunder at Bulls, 8 p.m. (TNT)<br /> NBA: Mavericks at Trail Blazers, 10:30 p.m. (TNT; WEEI-AM)<br /> <a class="r_lapi" href="">College basketball</a>: Wisconsin at Minnesota, 7 p.m. (ESPN)<br /> <a href="" class="r_lapi">College basketball</a>: Arkansas at South Carolina, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)<br /> College basketball: Temple at East Carolina, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)<br /> College basketball: Southern Mississippi at Louisiana Tech, 8 p.m. (CBSSN)<br /> College basketball: Memphis at UConn, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)<br /> College basketball: California at Arizona, 9 p.m. (ESPN)<br /> College basketball: VCU at Davidson, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)<br /> College basketball: Colorado at Washington, 9 p.m. (FS1)<br /> College basketball: Utah at Washington State, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)<br /> College basketball: Stanford at Arizona State, 11 p.m. (FS1)<br /> MLB exhibition: <a class="r_lapi" href="">Red Sox</a> at Twins, 7 p.m. (MLB Network; WEEI-FM)<br /> MLB exhibition: Dodgers at <a class="r_lapi" href="">White Sox</a>, 3 p.m. (MLB Network)</p> <p><strong>AROUND THE WEB:</strong></p> <div id="attachment_34683" style="width: 160px" class="wp-caption alignright"><a href=""><img class="size-full wp-image-34683" src="" alt="Alex Rodriguez" width="150" height="216" /></a><p class="wp-caption-text"><a class="r_lapi" href="">Alex Rodriguez</a></p></div> <p>&#8212; <a href="" class="r_lapi">Alex Rodriguez</a> singled in his first spring training at-bat, finished 1-for-2 with a walk and even heard some cheers mixed among the boos at Steinbrenner Stadium in Tampa as he <a href=";g=350304110" target="_blank">made his return to baseball </a>following his one-year suspension.</p> <p>Rodriguez expressed gratitude with the fans who have remained supportive of him even after he embarrassed his team and the game with his behavior.</p> <p>&#8220;Once you hit rock bottom, any time you hear a few cheers these days is a pleasant surprise,&#8221; he said.</p> <p>Said manager <a class="r_lapi" href="">Joe Girardi</a> of the fans&#8217; reaction: &#8220;It was mixed and it&#8217;s probably going to be that way. It&#8217;s nothing new for him. He&#8217;s had to deal with it for a long time now. He knows how to block it out and prepare himself.&#8221;</p> <p>Rodriguez was in the lineup as designated hitter, not his preferred position of third base, when he swung and missed a pair of pitches from Phillies starter <a class="r_lapi" href="">Kevin Slowey</a> before lining a single to left field in the bottom of the first inning.</p> <p>&#8220;I felt like I was swinging under water,&#8221; he said. &#8220;I was like, man, it&#8217;s been a long time.&#8221;</p> <p>Added Rodriguez: &#8220;It&#8217;s going to take two or three weeks for me to kind of get a gauge where I am.&#8221;</p> <p>&#8212; <a class="r_lapi" href="">Ray Allen</a>, who reportedly had been courted by the <a class="r_lapi" href="">Cavaliers</a>, Clippers and other contenders, announced Wednesday that he <a href="" target="_blank">will not play in the NBA this season but might come back in 2015-16</a>.</p> <p>&#8220;Over the past several months, I have taken a lot of time to deliberate what is best for me,&#8221; Allen said in a statement. &#8220;I&#8217;ve ultimately decided that I will not play this NBA season.&#8221;</p> <p><span id="more-35810"></span></p> <p>Allen, who turns 40 on July 20, won NBA titles with the <a class="r_lapi" href="">Celtics</a> in 2008 and the Heat in 2013. He is the NBA&#8217;s all-time leader in 3-pointers with 2,973 and ranked seventh in free throw percentage. He has averaged 18.9 points in 1,300 regular-season games and 16.1 points in 171 postseason games.</p> <p>Known for keeping himself in top condition, Allen said through his agent that he will &#8220;communicate with interested teams&#8221; as he makes a decision about next season.</p> <p>&#8220;I&#8217;m going to take the remainder of this season, as well as the upcoming offseason, to reassess my situation, spend time with my family and determine if I will play in the 2015-16 season,&#8221; he said.</p> <p>&#8212; Lauren Hill, the inspirational freshman at Ohio&#8217;s Mount St. Joseph who helped raise more than $1.3 million for cancer research by making four appearances despite being slowed by an inoperable brain tumor, was named to the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference first team Wednesday.</p> <p>Hill made cameos in four games this season, making five layups. She had two in her final game, a 66-65 victory over the College of Wooster on Dec. 16. Shortly after that game, she stopped playing and became an honorary assistant coach.</p> <p>&#8220;This award is being presented to Lauren in recognition of her courage and outstanding leadership,&#8221; HCAC commissioner Chris Ragsdale said. &#8220;Lauren has been a tremendous inspiration and role model for all student-athletes across the country. She has shown through her leadership and dedication how one individual can truly make a difference.&#8221;</p> <p>Last week the team held its postseason banquet in Hill&#8217;s hospital room. The 19-year-old from Indiana has been in and out of the hospital receiving treatment for the tumor that was expected to end her life months ago.</p> <p><strong>ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below):</strong> On March 5, 2002, Joe Kerrigan was fired as <a href="" class="r_lapi">Red Sox</a> manager by the new ownership group. Who was named interim manager until <a class="r_lapi" href="">Grady Little</a> was hired six days later?</p> <p><strong>QUOTE OF THE DAY:</strong> &#8220;It was a good play. Good audible. He drew up something way different.&#8221; <em>&#8211; <a href="" class="r_lapi">Celtics</a> forward Jae Crowder, on the play coach <a class="r_lapi" href="">Brad Stevens</a> called before Tyler Zeller hit the game-winning shot at the buzzer for an <a href=";home=2&amp;vis=26&amp;final=true" target="_blank">85-84 victory over the Jazz</a></em></p> <p><strong>STAT OF THE DAY: $4 million &#8211;</strong> Pay cut <a class="r_lapi" href="">Broncos</a> quarterback <a class="r_lapi" href="">Peyton Manning</a> is reported to be taking to remain in Denver, although he apparently can earn last season&#8217;s salary of $19 million if he reaches performance incentives <a href="" target="_blank">in his new contract</a></p> <p><strong>&#8216;NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos):</strong> <a class="r_lapi" href="">Grizzlies</a> center Marc Gasol hits a pull-up with less than a second remaining to give his team a 102-100 victory over the Rockets.</p> <p><iframe src="" width="600" height="360" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>Thunder guard <a class="r_lapi" href="">Russell Westbrook</a> scores two of his 49 points when he takes an inbounds pass and goes coast to coast, finishing with a two-handed dunk.</p> <p><iframe src="" width="600" height="360" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>A Rockets fan wins $25,000 after making a halfcourt shot during Wednesday&#8217;s game.</p> <p><iframe src="" width="600" height="360" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>Russian 8-year-olds brawl after their youth hockey game in Kazan last week.</p> <p><iframe src="" width="600" height="360" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p><strong>TRIVIA ANSWER:</strong> Mike Cubbage</p> <p><strong>SOOTHING SOUNDS:</strong> Eddy Grant was born on this day in 1948.</p> <p><iframe src="" width="600" height="360" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> Blog general Other Thu, 05 Mar 2015 13:09:41 +0000 1008916 at UMass plans to retire jersey in honor of John Calipari <!--paging_filter--><div id="attachment_4666" style="width: 410px" class="wp-caption alignright"><a href=""><img class="wp-image-4666" src="" alt="Former UMass coach and current University of Kentucky coach John Calipari will get a jersey honored in his honor at UMass next year. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)" width="400" height="275" /></a><p class="wp-caption-text">Former UMass coach and current University of Kentucky coach <a href="" class="r_lapi">John Calipari</a> will get a jersey retired in his honor at UMass next year. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)</p></div> <p>John Calipari is one of the most successful coaches in <a href="" class="r_lapi">NCAA</a> basketball history, and the current Kentucky coach got his start at the University of Massachusetts by leading the 1995-96 team to the Final Four.</p> <p>The school announced Wednesday they have plans to retire a jersey in honor of Calipari during the 2015-16 season. The official date of the jersey retirement ceremony and other information surrounding next year&#8217;€™s 20th anniversary celebration of the Final Four team will be announced at a later date. There is speculation the school is hoping to get Calipari&#8217;s Wildcats in town to play the Minutemen.</p> <p>Besides the 1995-96 season, Calipari led the Minutemen to the 1991-92 <a href="" class="r_lapi">NCAA</a> <a href="" class="r_lapi">Sweet 16</a>, the second round of the <a href="" class="r_lapi">NCAA</a> tournament in 1992-93 and 1993-94, as well as the Elite 8 in 1994-95. UMass won five straight Atlantic 10 titles during that span as well.</p> <p>Calipari was inducted into UMass&#8217; Athletics Hall of Fame in 2004 this past February was announced as one of 12 finalists for induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2015.</p> <p>His current team, Kentucky, is currently 30-0 with just one regular-season game remaining, Saturday when they host Florida.</p> Blog boston college Other Thu, 05 Mar 2015 13:07:37 +0000 1008851 at When it comes to potential replacements for Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, don’t sleep on Tyler Gaffney <!--paging_filter--><div id="attachment_89596" style="width: 360px" class="wp-caption alignright"><img class="wp-image-89596" src="" alt="Tyler Gaffney rushed for XX yards as a senior at Stanford, but missed all of his rookie season with a knee injury. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)" width="350" height="500" /><p class="wp-caption-text">Tyler Gaffney rushed for 1,709 yards as a senior at Stanford, but missed all of his rookie season with a knee injury. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)</p></div> <p>With NFL free agency kicking off next week, and the Patriots likely looking to add at the running back position for potential <a href="" class="r_lapi">Stevan Ridley</a> and <a href="" class="r_lapi">Shane Vereen</a> replacements (if either departs via free agency), a player currently on the Patriots roster may be getting overlooked &#8212; Tyler Gaffney.</p> <p>The Patriots claimed the rookie running back off waivers last July when the Panthers tried to sneak Gaffney through after he suffered a season-ending torn lateral meniscus in his left knee during training camp. The Stanford product was placed on injured reserve by the Patriots, but the sixth round pick has a lot of talent and could be a player ready to take over for either Ridley or Vereen if either were to sign with another team this offseason.</p> <p>His former coaches have no doubt Gaffney will succeed with whatever the Patriots ask him to do.</p> <p>&#8220;He&#8217;s excited,&#8221; Tavita Pritchard, Gaffney&#8217;s running back coach at Stanford, said over the phone this week. &#8220;Definitely coming off a <a class="r_lapi" href="">Super Bowl</a> year he wants to make a name for himself in that league and like I said, I think whatever fit the Patriots give him he is going to take with and run, and continue to go from there.&#8221;</p> <p>Gaffney rehabbed with the Patriots all season and is now back on the Stanford campus working out. Pritchard said Gaffney&#8217;s recovery is on schedule and he&#8217;s excited for the 2015 season.</p> <p>A gifted athlete, Gaffney was actually drafted by the <a class="r_lapi" href="">Pittsburgh Pirates</a> in the 24th round of the 2012 <a class="r_lapi" href="">Major League Baseball</a> draft. He played with the State College Spikes, the Pirates&#8217; short-season affiliate, that summer and had a batting line of .297/.483/.441. The running back gave up baseball after that though, returning to Stanford in the spring of 2013 for his senior season.</p> <p>He started in 14 games finishing with 330 rushing attempts, 1,709 rushing yards, and 21 rushing touchdowns in 2013. His best game came against Oregon at home when the Cardinal upset the Ducks, 26-20. Gaffney carried the ball a school-record 45 times for 157, not one carry going for more than nine yards, according to Pritchard. He said that game was the best example of the one word to describe Gaffney &#8212; tough.</p> <p>&#8220;First of all, the first word to describe him is, tough,&#8221; Pritchard said. &#8220;He&#8217;s one of the toughest individuals I&#8217;ve ever been around. Mentally tough. Physically tough. You can tell by his college film just his ability to run through contact, carry the ball multiple times in a game and I think that will be his calling card with just his physicality. I know with the Patriots that is something they hang their hat on as well. Just the toughness about him from a schematic standpoint, but everyone in that organization fits that persona. I think Tyler fits right along with that.</p> <p>&#8220;With him being a Patriot I think that is what you can expect &#8212; more of the same. A guy who is absolutely just tough minded, but with him he&#8217;s a pretty smart individual too. Played multiple sports obviously. He just has a good feel for athletics in general.&#8221;</p> <p><span id="more-89593"></span>When asked what type of back Pritchard is, he said he can be an every down back &#8212; carrying the ball on first and second down and the catching the ball out of the backfield on third down. Because of the backs ahead of Gaffney in his early years at Stanford, catching passes on third down was a way to get on the field.</p> <p>&#8220;He catches the ball extremely well,&#8221; Pritchard said. &#8220;Early in his time at Stanford he was actually more of a third-down back, mostly because we had other backs, obviously <a class="r_lapi" href="">Toby Gerhart</a> when he first got here and then <span class="st">Stepfan Taylor</span> in those later couple years. He was more used as a third down back. We were able to split him out. He has some route running ability. He catches the ball extremely well, so he did that for awhile and then obviously when he got back he was our every down back. He got it on first and second down and then he stayed in on third down, unless he needed the blow. I see him having the ability in having all those things.&#8221;</p> <p>Gaffney was drafted in the sixth round by Carolina, but then he suffered the injury and before he knew it he was on a new team, in a new conference. It was a difficult time for the 23-year-old.</p> <p>&#8220;He was bummed just because it happened right around the injury,&#8221; said Pritchard. &#8220;That was the overriding emotion. The injury was tough, he was going to have to sit out. The Patriots thing came as a surprise and it all happened at once and before he knew it he was in Boston, getting surgery and rehabbing. It all happened very, very quickly. The thing about Tyler is he loves to play ball. Wherever he gets an opportunity to do that he is going to play his heart out that&#8217;s for sure.&#8221;</p> <p>As for what his role might be with the Patriots, Pritchard knows the Patriots like versatile players, and Gaffney has the ability to do a lot of different things. He&#8217;s expecting his former running back to quickly gain the trust of the Patriots coaching staff and eventually make a name for himself in the NFL.</p> <p>&#8220;It will be interesting because the reputation of the Patriots they use their personnel in such of way that they are creative of them &#8212; splitting [<a href="" class="r_lapi">Rob] Gronkowski</a> out and splitting backs out and bringing those guys back in the back field,&#8221; said Pritchard. &#8220;They have a history of using guys in unique ways. I am interested to see how they use Gaffney because they aren&#8217;t traditional in that sense. Whatever he ends up doing I know he will excel at and I am sure he will start out with something small and continue to build trust there.&#8221;</p> Blog patriots Other Thu, 05 Mar 2015 11:00:09 +0000 1008696 at Max Talbot hopes to turn around season with Bruins <!--paging_filter--><div id="attachment_52438" style="width: 360px" class="wp-caption alignright"><a href=""><img class="wp-image-52438" src="" alt="Max Talbot it coming from a disappointing Avalanche team. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)" width="350" height="428" /></a><p class="wp-caption-text">Max Talbot it coming from a disappointing Avalanche team. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)</p></div> <p>Maxime Talbot was having a weird season with the Avalanche. The team fell short of expectations and he wasn&#8217;€™t getting as many bounces as he&#8217;€™d like.</p> <p>He&#8217;€™ll fit right in with the Bruins.</p> <p>Talbot now joins a Boston team that knows a thing or two about underachieving. Everyone in the room has something to prove over the final 20 games of the season, Talbot included.</p> <p>After winning the Central Division and finishing with the third-most points in the <a href="" class="r_lapi">NHL</a> last season, Colorado management put the pedal to the metal by signing Jarome Iginla and trading for <a href="" class="r_lapi">Brad Stuart</a>. The team&#8217;€™s performance took a mammoth step back, however, as the Avalanche sat 12th in the Western Conference entering Wednesday&#8217;€™s games.</p> <p>In that sense, Talbot has gone from one underperforming team to another.</p> <p>&#8220;They go from not making the playoffs to Patty Roy coming in and having an outstanding season and then you get to the season this year with the momentum and the rhythm of last year and you never lift off and then you&#8217;€™re like, &#8216;€˜Ah,&#8217;€™ and you&#8217;€™re chasing your tail all season,&#8221; Talbot said.</p> <p>&#8220;Winning comes with expectations, and I think we&#8217;€™d created expectations, which are a good thing, because it means you&#8217;€™re turning a corner and you&#8217;€™re becoming a winning team,&#8221; he added. &#8220;This year, I can&#8217;€™t pinpoint what happened.&#8221;</p> <p>Talbot figures to serve as a fourth-liner for the Bruins. On Wednesday he skated on the right wing of the fourth line, which had <a href="" class="r_lapi">Chris Kelly</a> at center and <a href="" class="r_lapi">Daniel Paille</a> at left wing. That line will likely change now that Brett Connolly is out, as Kelly and Paille would appear to be the most likely candidates to move up to Carl Soderberg&#8217;€™s line to replace Connolly.</p> <p>In 63 games with the Avs this season, Talbot scored five goals and added 10 assists for 15 points. His .23 point-per-game pace puts him behind the .35 clip at which he produced last season (25 points in 70 games).</p> <p>As Talbot puts it, &#8220;offense is a bonus&#8221; in his game. He says he&#8217;€™ll do whatever he can &#8212; blocking shots, killing penalties, whatever <a href="" class="r_lapi">Claude Julien</a> asks of him &#8212; and hopes to make an impact.</p> <p>&#8220;It&#8217;€™s more than personally, it&#8217;€™s about winning games,&#8221; he said. &#8220;It&#8217;€™s one thing and you don&#8217;€™t score and you win. It&#8217;€™s a different thing when you don&#8217;€™t score and you lose. It is refreshing to see new faces and have new teammates and try to get chemistry with different guys. I&#8217;€™m looking forward to it.&#8221;</p> Blog bruins Other Thu, 05 Mar 2015 03:50:38 +0000 1007976 at 5 things we learned as Celtics top Jazz on Tyler Zeller’s buzzer beater <!--paging_filter--><p>It wasn&#8217;t a fun game to watch most of the way through, but it turned into a thriller late as the <a href="" class="r_lapi">Celtics</a> faced the <a href="" class="r_lapi">Jazz</a> Wednesday at the TD Garden. Gordon Hayward hit a jumper over Tyler Zeller with just 1.7 seconds remaining to give Utah an 84-83 edge, but it was Zeller that would get the last laugh. <a href="" class="r_lapi">Brad Stevens</a> drew up a play to perfection and Marcus Smart hit Zeller under the hoop for what turned into the game winner at the buzzer. The shot went under review, then the Garden erupted at the refs announced that the Celtics were coming away with an 85-84 win.</p> <p><a href="" class="r_lapi">Isaiah Thomas</a> and Jae Crowder were the game&#8217;s two high scorers with 21 and 18 points respectively &#8212; both coming off the Boston bench. <a href="" class="r_lapi">Avery Bradley</a> was the Celtics&#8217; only starter to reach double figures with 13. Trey Bruke and <a href="" class="r_lapi">Derrick Favors</a> led the way for Utah with 16 points apiece. The Celtics are now 24-35 after the win, while the Jazz drop to 24-36 on the season.</p> <p>For a full box score, <a href="">click here</a>.</p> <p><strong>UGLY FIRST HALF</strong></p> <p>Yes, both teams did play in different cities last night, but 34-33 at halftime is not a common sight in the NBA. Typically a cold start will get better for both teams. But after the Jazz took a 19-18 lead into the second quarter, the teams combine for only 30 more points in the half &#8212; leaving the Celtics with a one-point edge at the break. Despite turning the ball over just once, the C&#8217;s managed their 34 points on 32.6 percent shooting (including 16.7 percent from downtown). The Jazz weren&#8217;t much better, shooting a mere 37.1 percent, but attempted 11 less shots than Boston (46-35).</p> <p><strong>LINEUP ADJUSTMENTS</strong></p> <p>Despite leading at the half, Brad Stevens&#8217; club was clearly struggling offensively, so he opted to make a move. Jae Crowder &#8212; who has been making a huge impact recently off the bench &#8212; started the second half over <a href="" class="r_lapi">Brandon Bass</a>. Crowder was the C&#8217;s lone bright spot offensively in the first half, tallying 13 points on 6-for-8 shooting. Crowder wound up going scoreless in the third frame, but the slack was picked up elsewhere.</p> <p><strong>AVERY BRADLEY CARRIED THE LOAD WHILE HURT</strong></p> <p>Bradley returned to the locker room in the first half with what the team deemed to be a left elbow contusion. He returned, but scored only two points in the half. Coming out of the break was another story, as Bradley scored all 11 of the Celtics points in the first six minutes of the third, before handing the torch over to the C&#8217;s new finisher.</p> <p><strong>ISAIAH THOMAS CLOSED AGAIN</strong></p> <p>It was Zeller who hit the game-winner, but Thomas came up huge for Boston late, scoring 19 of his 21 points in the second half. As he does so often, Thomas dominated the final frame, scoring 10 points while pacing the Celtics offense throughout. Thomas played only the fifth most minutes on the team with just over 26, which begs the question: When will Thomas get more minutes? Coming off the bench may be the right role for Thomas, but after proving how lethal of a scorer he is, it&#8217;s a matter of time until we see him on the floor more.</p> <p><strong>KELLY OLYNYK RETURNED (KIND OF)</strong></p> <p>After missing 18 games with a badly sprained left ankle, Olynyk was back in the lineup on Wednesday for the first time since Jan. 22. Olynyk saw just over seven minutes of action (all in the first half) and went scoreless in his return. &#8220;I thought Kelly was fine, but the way the game was going I felt like [Jonas] Jerebko was active and all over the place,&#8221; Stevens said following the game.</p> <p>Obviously, Stevens did not give Olynyk much of a chance on the floor, but the forward looked a step behind and is going to have to earn his minutes to get back in the rotation. Clearly Olynyk has not yet returned to 100 percent.</p> Blog celtics Other Thu, 05 Mar 2015 03:12:20 +0000 1007871 at Marcus Smart earns Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month award for February <!--paging_filter--><div id="attachment_68688" style="width: 160px" class="wp-caption alignright"><img src="" alt="Marcus Smart" width="150" height="218" class="size-full wp-image-68688" /><p class="wp-caption-text">Marcus Smart</p></div> <p>Marcus Smart has been recognized for his efforts to keep the <a href="" class="r_lapi">Celtics</a> in the playoff hunt through a crazy trade season in Boston. </p> <p>Smart and <a href="" class="r_lapi">Minnesota Timberwolves</a> sensation Andrew Wiggins were named Wednesday the Kia NBA Eastern and Western Conference Rookies of the Month, respectively, for February.</p> <p>Smart ranked third among East rookies in scoring (9.8 ppg), assists (4.3 apg) and steals (1.64 spg) for the month. He also was fourth in rebounding (4.5 rpg) and averaged a conference-rookie-high 32.6 minutes in 11 games for the <a href="" class="r_lapi">Celtics</a>, whose 7-4 record was tied for fourth best in the East. </p> <p>The 6-4, 220-pound point guard set single-game career highs in rebounds (10), assists (nine) and steals (five) during February. Smart scored in double figures in six of his final seven games of the month. </p> <p>Smart&#8217;s playing time increased significantly following the Dec. trade of <a href="" class="r_lapi">Rajon Rondo</a> to Dallas. He continued to impress even as Danny Ainge brought in <a href="" class="r_lapi">Isaiah Thomas</a> in a deadline deal with Phoenix. Wednesday against Utah marked Smart&#8217;s 16th start of the season. </p> <p>As for Wiggins, the rookie out of Kansas won the West award for the fourth consecutive month and helped the <a href="" class="r_lapi">Timberwolves</a> to a 5-6 record, their best mark in a full calendar month this season. The 6-8, 199-pound forward led all rookies in scoring (16.8 ppg) and minutes (38.7 mpg), and he shot 45.7 percent from the field and averaged 4.8 rebounds. </p> <p>On Feb. 23, Wiggins scored 30 points in a 113-102 loss to the <a href="" class="r_lapi">Houston Rockets</a>, his third 30-point game of the season, matching the Minnesota rookie record set by Isaiah Rider in 1993-94. </p> <p>Here are just some of the highlights of the month for Smart:</p> <li> Feb. 1 vs. Miami: Dished out a career-high nine assists and had only one turnover in an 83-75 loss to the Heat. </li><li> Feb. 4 vs. Denver: Grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds and added four points, eight assists and three steals in a 104-100 victory over the Nuggets. </li><li> Feb. 20 @ Sacramento: Scored 16 points and contributed five rebounds and a career-high five steals in a 109-101 loss to the Kings.<br /> </li> Blog celtics Other Thu, 05 Mar 2015 02:26:03 +0000 1007816 at Rob Gronkowski: ‘When you win the Super Bowl, it changes lives’ <!--paging_filter--><div id="attachment_79023" style="width: 160px" class="wp-caption alignright"><img class="size-full wp-image-79023" src="" alt="Rob Gronkowski" width="150" height="204" /><p class="wp-caption-text"><a class="r_lapi" href="">Rob Gronkowski</a></p></div> <p>The Winter of Gronk has been in full swing, but the Patriots tight end took some time to join ESPN Radio&#8217;s &#8220;SVP and Russillo&#8221; show on Wednesday to promote the <a href="" target="_blank">ESPN Madden Ultimate Team vote</a>.</p> <p>Gronkowski picked his own Madden team, and his first choice was not much of a surprise in <a class="r_lapi" href="">Tom Brady</a>.</p> <p>&#8220;It was pretty cool to pick these teams,&#8221; said Gronkowski on the show. &#8220;There are so many legendary players out there, it was kind of hard. Sometimes you went with your favorite player who was on your team growing up that you like to watch, but obviously I had to pick my first choice, which is the best QB ever, <a href="" class="r_lapi">Tom [Brady</a>].&#8221;</p> <p>The Patriots tight end also reflected on what life has been like since winning the <a class="r_lapi" href="">Super Bowl</a>, 28-24 over the <a class="r_lapi" href="">Seahawks</a>.</p> <p>&#8220;When you win the <a href="" class="r_lapi">Super Bowl</a>, it changes lives,&#8221; Gronkowski said. &#8220;It&#8217;s been very cool, but I was also [part of] a Super Bowl loss, when we lost three years ago. I can tell you this, winning it is a lot, lot different than losing it. It&#8217;s been a great time. Pretty awesome.&#8221;</p> <p>The All-Pro said he will always remember the parade through the streets of Boston the following Wednesday after the game.</p> <p>&#8220;I didn&#8217;t really know what it was going to be like, what I was really getting myself into. I didn&#8217;t know duck boat rides were four miles with thousands and thousands of people [cheering],&#8221; Gronkowski said.</p> <p>He finished the regular season with 82 receptions for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns, which was his second-best statistical season of his career. Gronkowski and Brady had a strong connection all season long, with Gronkowski being Brady&#8217;s go-to target. He said he and Brady still keep in touch during the offseason, but knows whenever the two meet up it&#8217;s all work.</p> <p>&#8220;It&#8217;s like a work atmosphere. Call him up, see where he&#8217;s at and see if he wants to throw the ball around a little bit,&#8221; he said. &#8220;Whenever you meet up with Tom, you always know you&#8217;re going to be working &#8212; at least for an hour or two on the field. You know you can always count on that.&#8221;</p> <p>Over the past month Gronkowski has been enjoying himself &#8212; appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live, taking a vacation to Florida and most recently a weekend in Vegas.</p> <p>&#8220;It&#8217;s been a little crazy, a lot of fun,&#8221; said Gronkowski of his time since the Super Bowl. &#8220;I&#8217;m just enjoying the time, celebrating with my teammates, my family and friends. Basically just enjoying the time off because you go through the grind for seven months straight, so you kind of sit back, relax, have some free time to yourself, so it&#8217;s been cool.&#8221;</p> Blog patriots Other Thu, 05 Mar 2015 01:14:28 +0000 1007651 at Patriots sign LS Tyler Ott <!--paging_filter--><p>The Patriots signed long snapper Tyler Ott on Wednesday, according to the league transaction wire.</p> <p>Ott has been on and off the New England roster over the last year. The Harvard product was signed as an undrafted free agent last May but released in August. As a collegian with the Crimson, he was a tight end and a long snapper. The 6-foot-3, 245-pounder was invited to the <a href="" class="r_lapi">Senior Bowl</a> following his senior season in 2013 after handling all long snapping duties and seeing action at tight end, finishing with 15 receptions for 188 yards and four touchdowns.</p> <p>Incumbent long snapper Danny Aiken is set to become an unrestricted free agent next week.</p> Blog patriots Other Wed, 04 Mar 2015 22:26:02 +0000 1007386 at Report: Peyton Manning prepared to take $4 million pay cut to stay with Broncos <!--paging_filter--><p>It appears <a href="" class="r_lapi">Peyton Manning</a> is ready to take a pay cut to stay in Denver and play for <a href="" class="r_lapi">John Elway</a> and the <a href="" class="r_lapi">Broncos</a>. </p> <p>According to a report from ESPN&#8217;s Chris Mortensen, the perennial All Pro quarterback is ready to take a $4 million pay cut to play for the <a href="" class="r_lapi">Broncos</a> in 2015. He was scheduled to make $19 million next season. According to Mortensen, Manning will agree to the pay cut to free up cash for Denver to be aggressive in the free agent market, potential signing their own targeted free agents. </p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p><a href="" class="r_lapi">Peyton Manning</a> ready to take $4 million pay-cut on deal in final stages; he&#39;ll make $15 million, not $19 million, per <a href="">@Jeff_Legwold</a> &amp; myself</p> <p>&mdash; Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) <a href="">March 4, 2015</a></p></blockquote> <p><script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></p> Blog patriots Other Wed, 04 Mar 2015 21:13:14 +0000 1007251 at Source: Brett Connolly out six weeks with finger injury <!--paging_filter--><p>According to a league source, Bruins forward Brett Connolly is out six weeks with a broken finger suffered in Wednesday&#8217;s practice.</p> <p>Connolly was hit in the right hand with a <a href="" class="r_lapi">Dennis Seidenberg</a> shot in what was his second practice with the team since being acquired for two second-round picks Monday.</p> Blog bruins Other Wed, 04 Mar 2015 20:27:00 +0000 1007136 at Curt Schilling stays on attack against Internet creeps <!--paging_filter--><p>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>@WhatsLIAMdoing <a href="">@Cubb_E</a> <a href="">@beth_lee</a> <a href="">@richiereiss</a> This tweet? Or the one on the left you favorited? <a href=""></a></p> <p>&#8216;€” <a class="r_lapi" href="">Curt Schilling</a> (@gehrig38) <a href="">March 2, 2015</a></p></blockquote> <p><script src="//" async="" charset="utf-8"></script></p> <p>.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">38Pitches</a> &#8212; <em>Is it Twitter&#8217;s fault? Hell no. For those of you saying &#8220;Just block it&#8221; or &#8220;get off twitter,&#8221; stop reading now. &#8230;</em></p> <p><em>The boys that have gotten bad fallout from this. Do I feel bad? No. Do I sympathize? No. Whatever is their result is 100% on them. No one asked them to do it, no one forced them to do it, they made sexually aggressive and sexually explicit comments at and to my 17 year old daughter and even when given a chance (which I did in every instance) to back off and move on, they did not.</em></p> <p><em>For all you tough guys out there who piss and moan with the &#8220;just turn it off&#8221; or &#8220;just block.&#8221; Why on earth would I allow someone with zero honor, zero integrity and zero morals to dictate even 1 minute of my life? &#8230;</em></p> <p><em>The world we live in, while it has changed, the rules honestly haven&#8217;t in many cases. Twitter? It&#8217;€™s here to stay, it&#8217;€™s here and is part of a social network this generation has grown up with, and will live with. You can &#8220;turn it off&#8221; you can &#8220;block everyone&#8221; or say &#8220;I don&#8217;t let my kids do it.&#8221; That will not make it go away. It&#8217;€™s part of their lives, and by relation, yours. &#8230;</em></p> <p><em>You don&#8217;t need money, you don&#8217;t need celebrity to out these toolboxes. Just a desire to take a bully in front of the public. Nothing a phony tough guy is more scared of than being outed I bet. Let&#8217;€™s find out.</em></p> <p>Once again I have to applaud <a class="r_lapi" href="">Curt Schilling</a> here. And admit I&#8217;m astonished at the backlash against him for the crime of not taking the cyber-bombardment of virtual rocks and garbage being hurled at his daughter with a smile on his face like a weirdly large percentage of the population is saying he should.</p> <p>And I&#8217;m not just talking about the creepshows he outed. I have friends who are ripping him to me. Hosts of other talk shows I used to be on. The fellas at my alma mater, Barstool Sports. We had a few callers and dozens of texters on Dale &amp; Holley Tuesday arguing Schilling brought this on himself. Or who at the very least are arguing he had no right to take on this fight because he should have known he was &#8220;exposing&#8221; his daughter to these Cro-Magnons when he wished her the best on the Internet.</p> <p>Fine. I&#8217;ll acknowledge that. He should have known and probably did. But because he should have expected it doesn&#8217;t mean he has to accept it.</p> <p><span id="more-1615"></span></p> <p>And to Schilling&#8217;s point, why is it incumbent upon him to stay off Twitter? Because it&#8217;s a bad neighborhood so therefore he should stay away from it and keep his daughter out of it as some have suggested? What if he can clean up the neighborhood? What if he&#8217;s got the legally registered, carry-permitted .44 Magnum of 117,000 Twitter followers and the guys trying to mug people in the alleys are basically unarmed? Explain to me why he&#8217;s not justified in doing what he can to stick his metaphorical hand cannon in their faces and bring them to justice. Tell me where he&#8217;s wrong to carry out a public vendetta against the trolls instead of just deleting all his social media apps? The best part about free speech is it&#8217;s a two-way street. Even in the nastiest part of town.</p> <p>Is the argument that he&#8217;s wrong because he&#8217;s a public figure and a polarizing personality and therefore it comes with the territory? Where do you draw that line? Is Barack Obama &#8220;exposing&#8221; his daughters to Internet lowlifes every time they make a public appearance, and if some deranged racist/misogynist pedophile threatens them, well &#8230; that&#8217;s just the way it is, get off Twitter then, Mr. President?</p> <p>And how far are we willing to take the victim blaming? Let&#8217;s pretend we live in world of land lines, and it&#8217;s still pre-caller ID (work with me here) and a woman gets a pervert call. Do you say she shouldn&#8217;t blow a rape whistle into the phone and report it to her carrier because she knew the risk she was taking and if she doesn&#8217;t like it she should get rid of the phone?</p> <p>Because the Luddites who are saying Twitter is useless and unnecessary and &#8220;just people telling you what they had for lunch&#8221; are missing the fact that it is transforming the world. Like it or not, social media is how the human race communicates, whether it&#8217;s your middle schooler, ISIS or retired ballplayers. And we can either tolerate the roaches who crawl around on the floor or we can start stomping them.</p> <p>As the priest says in &#8220;Boondock Saints,&#8221; &#8220;We must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men.&#8221; <a class="r_lapi" href="">Curt Schilling</a> has made his choice, and it&#8217;s the right one. Good for him.</p> <p><em>@JerryThornton1</em></p> Blog general Other Wed, 04 Mar 2015 18:45:35 +0000 1007031 at Eagles fan reacts to LeSean McCoy trade (language NSFW) <!--paging_filter--><p><iframe src="" width="600" height="360" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>You think you have problems? This winter is rapidly sapping your strength like the health bar on a first person-shooter video game depleting and you&#8217;re all out of first-aid kits? You&#8217;re worried about the Patriots losing free agents, the Bruins not doing much at the deadline and the top of the Sox rotation? Fair enough. But just be glad you&#8217;re not this guy.</p> <p>Nothing against my man here, who&#8217;s YouTube handle I can&#8217;t publish here, so I&#8217;ll just call him EDP445. On the contrary. I admire the passion. I appreciate his fire. I love him for comparing Chip Kelly to Winnie the Pooh. Even though just about every sports fan in Philadelphia is an insufferable jerkstore I probably couldn&#8217;t sit down and have a beer with without faking my own death to get out of the conversation, I could definitely see fighting alongside this guy. You want men like him in your foxhole.</p> <p>But I&#8217;m glad we are not on the same side. We&#8217;ve been this miserable in our lifetimes, and I don&#8217;t ever want to go back there. So enjoy EDP445&#8217;s hilarious misery and count your blessings you&#8217;re not him.</p> <p><em>@JerryThornton1</em></p> Blog general Other Wed, 04 Mar 2015 18:38:39 +0000 1006921 at Rusney Castillo ‘down for some time’ with left oblique strain <!--paging_filter--><p><div id="attachment_89099" style="width: 310px" class="wp-caption alignright"><img src="" alt="Rusney Castillo. (Getty Images)" width="300" height="219" class="size-medium wp-image-89099" /><p class="wp-caption-text">Rusney Castillo. (Getty Images)</p></div>FORT MYERS, Fla. &#8212; The <a class="r_lapi" href="">Red Sox</a> were reminded Wednesday why it&#8217;s good to have too many instead of too few.</p> <p>With the talk of excess outfielders circulating through camp for the past couple of weeks, the numbers were cut into for the foreseeable future thanks to Rusney Castillo&#8217;s strained left oblique.</p> <p>Castillo hurt his oblique during his third at-bat against <a class="r_lapi" href="">Boston College</a> Tuesday. After undergoing an MRI, it was determined the outfielder would be &#8220;down for some time,&#8221; according to <a href="" class="r_lapi">Red Sox</a> manager <a class="r_lapi" href="">John Farrell</a>.</p> <p>Both Farrell and Castillo confirmed the 27-year-old had never previously experienced such an injury. The manager surmised the ailment would keep his outfielder out for more than a week.</p> <p>&#8220;It wasn&#8217;€™t any sort of different kind of swing or odd swing, it was just a pitch that was a little in,&#8221; Castillo said through translator Adrian Lorenzo. &#8220;I took a regular swing on it and felt something there right in the oblique area. That&#8217;€™s what it was.&#8221;</p> <p>When asked if he believed the injury would negatively impact his chance to break spring training with the big league team, Castillo said, &#8220;I don&#8217;€™t think it impacts me in a negative way. We&#8217;€™re doing everything we can to recuperate as quickly as possible. I guess we&#8217;€™ll see how it goes.&#8221;</p> <p>Castillo noted that there is no timetable for his return, and that the injury felt better than it did Tuesday night.</p> <p>&#8220;It&#8217;€™s part of the process, I wouldn&#8217;€™t say it&#8217;€™s frustrating,&#8221; he noted. &#8220;I don&#8217;€™t know exactly how much time I&#8217;€™m going to be out yet but it&#8217;€™s all part of it.&#8221;</p> <p>Farrell said Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley will continue to rotate in center field. The manager also passed on that <a class="r_lapi" href="">Shane Victorino</a> was scheduled to play in the Red Sox&#8217; Thursday night game against the Twins, but will be in the lineup for the following two games.</p> Blog red sox Other Wed, 04 Mar 2015 18:22:28 +0000 1006926 at Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s attorney admits client’s guilt in Boston Marathon bombing as trial opens <!--paging_filter--><p>The attorney for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev <a href="" target="_blank">admitted her client participated in the Boston Marathon bombing</a>, saying, &#8220;It was him,&#8221; during her opening statement Wednesday in a Boston courtroom.</p> <p>Judy Clarke said the issue is why Tsarnaev committed the &#8220;senseless, horribly misguided acts.&#8221; She blames Tsarnaev&#8217;s older brother, Tamerlan, who was killed during a shootout with Watertown police three days after the bombing, for influencing Dzhokhar to follow him.</p> <p>The prosecution, meanwhile, detailed the carnage the Tsarnaevs caused &#8212; three dead, 260 injured at the race, plus an MIT police officer shot to death later that week &#8212; and said Tsarnaev was a holy warrior committed to violence. U.S. prosecutor Bill Weinreb noted that Tsarnaev appeared to show no remorse or concern immediately after the bombings, returning to UMass-Dartmouth to socialize with friends.</p> <p>&#8220;While victims of the bombing lay in the hospital and learned that they would have to have their limbs chopped off to save their lives, the defendant pretended that nothing had happened,&#8221; Weinreb said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Blog general Other Wed, 04 Mar 2015 18:17:53 +0000 1006916 at