Wakeup Call: Apparently, Napoli's the Sox' No. 1 priority

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Wakeup Call: Apparently, Napoli's the Sox' No. 1 priority

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Wednesday, November 28.

BASEBALL
According to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, Mike Napoli is the Red Sox' No. 1 free-agent priority and, flush with money after shedding those mega-contracts in the Dodgers deal, they're prepared to outbid anybody for his services. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

Memories of the Steroids Era will return today, when the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot is released with many of the tainted stars from that time -- Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa -- front and center. (AP)

And as a reminder that drugs in sports are an ongoing problem, one of baseball's best 2012 stories gets tainted a little -- okay, a lot -- as Carlos Ruiz is hit with a 25-game suspension for the use of a banned amphetamine. (CSN Philly)

Looks like the Yankees will have Andy Pettitte back in 2013. (AP)

Scott Feldman calls moving from the perennial contender Rangers to the downtrodden Cubs "a dream scenario for me". (CSN Chicago) So, ah, what are your nightmares like, Scott?

Jonathan Broxton's going back to Cincinnati in a move that apparently means the Reds are going to switch Aroldis Chapman to the starting rotation. Holy Daniel Bard; you might want to think twice about that one, Reds. (Hardball Talk)

Leaving Cincinnati is Ryan Madson, who's about to join the Angels after never throwing a pitch for the Reds. (Hardball Talk)

Soon to be available: An off-center, heavily bearded relief ace coming off Tommy John surgery. (CSN Bay Area)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Indiana left no doubts in this one, eh? (AP)

Be concerned, Tar Heels fans. Be very concerned. (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

The reeling Big East regrouped a bit, tabbing Tulane and East Carolina as its newest members. (AP)

But the carnivorous ACC is back pounding on the the door, apparently poised to gobble up Louisville as its replacement for Maryland. (College Basketball Talk)

If that's true, Cincinnati sure will be disappointed. (NBC's College Football Talk)

For a conference that has no problem robbing members from other leagues, the ACC sure gets touchy when someone wants to leave them. (AP)

Memphis' response to its slow start: Blame the messenger. (College Basketball Talk)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Let me get this straight: Jon Gruden gets an ownership stake in the Cleveland Browns if he agrees to take over as coach at the University of Tennessee? Hah? (NBC's College Football Talk)

Les Miles from LSU to Arkansas? Well . . . (College Football Talk)

Jimbo Fisher gives the standard non-denial denial -- albeit a bit more emphatically -- in discussing rumors that Auburn may attempt to lure him away from Florida State. (College Football Talk)

Fisher lost one of his staff members yesterday, as defensive coordinator Mark Stoops was hired as head coach at Kentucky. (AP)

C'mon, NCAA. How can you fine a school for this? They won the Egg Bowl, for crying out loud! (AP)

GOLF
Tiger Woods decides not to join the European Tour. (AP)

The Old Course at St. Andrew's will have a new look when the British Open returns in 2015. (AP)

HOCKEY
Things are looking so bleak on the labor front that Sidney Crosby's about ready to pack up and head overseas. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

Take it from someone who knows, NHLers; decertification of the union is a serious step. (Pro Hockey Talk)

They're thinking positive thoughts in Phoenix, where city officials have approved a 320 million deal to keep the Coyotes in town. (AP)

I'm sure those thoughts aren't so positive in Minnesota, since the Wild's staff is about to be hit with 20 percent pay cuts because of the lockout. (AP)

Hockey returned for a night in Atlantic City, with Henrik Lundqvist making 57 saves to lead Team New York to a 10-6 victory over Team New Jersey in a benefit game to raise money for Superstorm Sandy victims. Best part of the whole thing: The 10,792 fans chanting for Gary Bettman to be fired. (AP)

PRO BASKETBALL
The Rockets beat Toronto last night, then boarded a plane to attend the funeral of coach Kevin McHale's daughter today. (AP)

McHale thanked the team via text after the victory. (CSN Houston)

Kobe Bryant's 40 points -- with the flu, no less -- wasn't enough to save the Lakers. (AP)

Now that's a double-double! (AP)

Byron Scott had a terse, to-the-point scouting report of the Cavs' 10th loss in 11 games. (AP)

Aggrey Sam advises everyone in Bulls Nation to take a deep breath and remember that the season isn't even a month old. (CSN Chicago)

DeMarcus Cousins says his latest ejection came after the referee cursed him. Sure it wasn't your coach and teammates, DeMarcus? (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

PRO FOOTBALL
The housecleaning has begun in Philadelphia, where the Eagles cut loose the underperforming Jason Babin and his five-year, 28 million contract. (AP)

Babin found his release almost as funny as the Eagles found his play this year. (the700level.com)

Great question from John Gonzalez: Is there anyone in sports whom you'd rather be less than Andy Reid? (CSN Philly)

Maybe DeSean Jackson, but only because multiple rib fractures -- which have ended his season -- are so painful. (AP)

Apparently, there's a method to Colin Kaepernick's tattoo madness. (NBC's Off The Bench)

The Steelers hope they'll have Ben Roethlisberger and Troy Polamalu back when they play the Ravens on Sunday. (AP) Considering that they're chasing Baltimore in the AFC playoff standings, so do the Patriots.

The NFL didn't suspend Ndamukong Suh for his latest bit of choochery because, says commissioner Roger Goodell, intent "is something that is very difficult for us to ever try to make a judgment on." (AP)

Speaking of chooches, Titus Young still hasn't returned to the Lions. (AP)

Sad news: Former All-Pro linebacker and NFL coach Jack Pardee has been given six to nine months to live after being diagnosed with gall bladder cancer. (AP)

Freeman, Coleman lift Falcons past Saints, 45-32

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Freeman, Coleman lift Falcons past Saints, 45-32

NEW ORLEANS - Devonta Freeman practically wore out the Superdome turf with one long gain after another, Tevin Coleman wouldn't be denied near the goal line and the New Orleans Saints hardly looked like the team that made an emotional homecoming nearly 10 years ago to the day.

Cheers turned to boos, and many fans filed out early.

Coleman rushed for three touchdowns, Matt Ryan passed for two TDs and Deion Jones returned an interception 90 yards for a score to help the Atlanta Falcons beat the winless New Orleans Saints 45-32 on Monday night.

"It was real fun. Everybody was doing their job and everybody was playing for each other," Coleman said. "Everything clicked, and we got it done. It's a real big win for us to beat this team here."

The game coincided with New Orleans' celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the Saints' memorable return to the Superdome on Sept. 25, 2006, 13 months after Hurricane Katrina. But there would be no reprise of New Orleans' dominant and emotional 23-3 triumph over Atlanta a decade ago.

The Saints' depleted defense struggled to slow Freeman, who rushed for 152 yards and caught five passes for 55 yards. Coleman also was effective in the passing game out of the backfield, with three receptions for 47 yards to go with his 42 yards rushing.

"We have to stop the run better," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "They were over 200 yards in situations where you knew the run was coming, even at the end of the game."

Ryan finished with 240 yards passing for Atlanta (2-1), which did not turn the ball over and moved into sole possession of first place in the NFC South.

Drew Brees put up his usual big numbers - 376 yards and three TDs passing - and hit tight end Coby Fleener seven times for 109 yards and a TD. But Brees' tipped pass that resulted in Jones' TD return early in the fourth quarter gave the Falcons a 45-25 lead that proved too much for New Orleans to overcome.

Hayes knows he's a good player, wants to silence the critics

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Hayes knows he's a good player, wants to silence the critics

BOSTON, Mass. – There’s a long way to go toward a complete resurrection from last season’s misdeeds, but Jimmy Hayes made a nice little statement that he’s learned some lessons in Boston’s preseason debut. The Bruins lost the game, 3-2, in the shootout to the Columbus Blue Jackets, but Hayes scored one of the two goals for the Black and Gold as one of the few veterans in a very youthful lineup for Boston.

The Hayes goal was a nice give-and-go with Jake DeBrusk at the end of a nice transition play in the second period, and was the highlight of a night playing on the right wing with DeBrusk and center Austin Czarnik. The score and a team-high four shots on net for Hayes represent a good start for what he hopes is a gigantic rebound season after last year’s disappointment.

Clearly Hayes heard some of the unflattering chatter about him on sports talk radio and otherwise last season, and may even understand how his difficult season in his home city of Boston -- whether he actively expressed it to him or not -- might have been a factor in his buddy Jimmy Vesey ultimately choosing New York over Boston.

It appears the former Boston College standout is looking to change the conversation in Boston. 

“Yeah, sure am. I’ve got a lot to come out here and…[there were] a lot of comments about myself, but I know I’m a good player. I got to this level for a reason,” said Hayes, who dropped from 19 goals and 35 points with the Panthers to 13 goals, 29 points and a career-worst minus-12 for the Bruins last season.

“To be able to play at the NHL level and continue to play at that level on a consistent basis is what I expect out of myself. I do it for myself and our teammates, and to help our team win. I’ll continue moving forward.

“It’s funny being the old guy on the line. It’s nice to see those young guys and see how excited they are, and how excited I am to get back out there. That’s what I said to the guys, they still have the jitters and they still have them for the first preseason game. It shows that these guys want it and it’s been a lot of fun skating with those guys. They’ve got a lot of speed and to keep pushing the pace. Trying to keep up with them has been a lot of fun.”

There is still a long way to go for the 26-year-old winger, and his willingness to stick around the danger areas on Monday night was a welcomed one for a Bruins team that needs his 6-foot-6 body in front of the net. Hayes paid the price with stitches and a fat lip after taking a Dalton Prout high-stick to the mouth in front of the Columbus net that went uncalled on a Bruins PP at the end of the second period.

That’s all part of the big man’s game on the ice, however. It’s also the kind of battle and determined fight that Hayes will need to show much more consistently in his second season with the hometown Bruins if he’s truly looking to bounce-back from last year’s mediocre performance.