Wakeup Call: Crawford may be ready for Opening Day

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Wakeup Call: Crawford may be ready for Opening Day

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Tuesday, November 13:

AUTO RACING
NASCAR docks Jeff Gordon 25 points and fines him 100,000 for intentionally wrecking Clint Bowyer, but will allow him to race in Sunday's season finale. (AP)

BASEBALL
Looks like Carl Crawford might be ready for Opening Day. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

At last, a player the Dodgers don't want to sign. (Hardball Talk)

Nationals, Schmationals; Jimmy Rollins says the N.L. East still goes through Philadelphia. (CSN Philly)

No surprises here: Mike Trout and Bryce Harper win their leagues' respective Rookie of the Year awards. (AP)

Jeremy Affeldt is staying in San Francisco. (AP)

The Manager of the Year award is baseball's equivalent of the Defense Against The Dark Arts teacher's post at Hogwarts. (Hardball Talk)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
ESPN's Tip-Off Marathon -- 16 games in 24 hours -- too much even for a fanatic like you? Here, here's the guide to the games you can't miss and the ones you can skip. (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

Oh, and here are some tips for getting through the whole thing. (College Basketball Talk)

The AP voters still think Connecticut -- despite losing its Hall of Fame coach and five underclassmen after last season -- is pretty good. (AP)

The NCAA Tournament, or at least a portion of it, is going back to Madison Square Garden for the first time since John Kennedy was president. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Mike Leach says there's "no truth" to Marquess Wilson's charges of physical and mental abuse at Washington State, claiming they're the complaints of a disgruntled player. (AP)

If Derek Dooley's days are numbered at Tennessee, as many believe, no one's said anything to him. (AP)

Meanwhile at Arkansas, John L. Smith -- who describes himself as "the most optimistic guy you can imagine" -- still thinks he might return as the Razorbacks' coach. (AP)

It only took a few hours for Jimbo Fisher to issue the requisite apology for using the word "retarded" in describing Florida State's No. 10 spot in the BCS standings, which is probably some sort of new speed record. (AP)

In more apology news, Tommy Tuberville says he's sorry for hitting graduate assistant Kevin Oliver -- and most likely even more sorry that video of the incident went viral -- after Texas Tech had trouble getting the right personnel on the field during its 41-34 win over Kansas. (AP)

But Bo Pelini's not apologizing for the verbal confrontation he had with safety Daimion Stafford during Nebraska's win over Penn State. He says he was only trying to calm Stafford, who was upset after the Cornhuskers had given up a touchdown. (AP)

The Big East is happy (or so it claims) with the decision to stick with six bowl games in the new playoff system because, in the words of commissioner Mike Aresco, "it gives us an opportunity to compete." (AP)

GOLF
Here are your candidates for PGA Tour Player of the Year: Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Brandt Snedecker, Bubba Watson and Jason Dufner. (AP)

HOCKEY
Want to know why the lockout drags on? Because Gary Bettman, says a source, "has a date in mind to end it, and we're not there yet." (CSN Philly) Let's just hope that date isn't Thanksgiving 2014 . . . and, with Bettman (and his puppeteer, Jeremy Jacobs), you never know.

Once we get there, though, Steve Fehr and Bill Daly think a deal can be finalized pretty quickly. (AP)

PRO BASKETBALL
The Lakers say they're excited -- and a little bewildered -- that Mike D'Antoni is their new coach. (AP)

One guy who's happy to see D'Antoni land on his feet: Jeremy Lin (CSN Houston)

One guy who's not happy that Mike Brown lost the job in the first place: LeBron James. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

Speaking of James, that was quite a second-half show in the Heat's win at Houston. (AP)

Wonder if Gary Bettman has a date in mind for Andrew Bynum's return? (AP)

PRO FOOTBALL
The Steelers won a game but lost a quarterback Monday night, while the Chiefs lost even more dignity with a series of ridiculous celebration dances in the midst of losing their eighth game in nine tries. (AP)

Separated shoulders are bad enough. The Steelers can't be happy to hear that Ben Roethlisberger's is "unusual". (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

Nor can the Eagles be happy to hear that Michael Vick's concussion is "pretty significant". (AP)

Hold your horses: Andy Reid's departure from Philadelphia -- already presumed by a large cross section of fans and media -- ain't a done deal. (Pro Football Talk)

A lot of people are asking why the Bears left Jay Cutler in Sunday night's game after he'd been concussed, but they insist they acted properly. (AP)

Alex Smith actually threw a touchdown pass after he suffered a concussion in Sunday's tie with the Rams, but the 49ers removed him from the game when he told them he did it with blurred vision. (AP)

Pete Carroll's so happy about the Seahawks being 6-4 that he's given them the whole bye week off. (Pro Football Talk) Wonder what he would have done if they were 7-3 . . . ?

Mike Holmgren puts the kibosh on rumors of his replacing Jason Garrett in Dallas, though he never specifically says he would turn down the job if the Cowboys came calling. (AP)

Pretty soon, some replacement refs are going to put up a big billboard that reads: "Miss us yet?" (Pro Football Talk)

Actually, though, it's the replay assistants who are messing up. (Pro Football Talk)

Belichick on Brissett pick: Always try to plan at quarterback

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Belichick on Brissett pick: Always try to plan at quarterback

FOXBORO -- When Bill Belichick took the podium back in the spring of 2014 to discuss his decision to draft Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round, he raised some eyebrows when he professed his belief that it was a position of need. 

"The situation we have at quarterback, I think that we felt as an organization that we needed to address that to some degree in the future, so we’ll see how all that works out," Belichick said. "I think we’re better off being early than being late at that position."

He added: "We know what Tom’s age and contract situation is. I don’t think you want to have one quarterback on your team. I don’t think that’s responsible to the entire team or the organization."

At the time, Tom Brady was about to turn 37, and his contract was scheduled to keep him in New England through 2017. The team also had backup Ryan Mallett entering the final year of his rookie deal. 

Given Belichick's reasoning, and given the team's willingness to spend a second-rounder on him, it sounded as though the Patriots were ready to plan for a future with Garoppolo taking Brady's place. 

Two years later the Patriots spent another Day 2 draft pick on a quarterback when they selected North Carolina State's Jacoby Brissett in the third round on Friday.

The situation isn't exactly the same as it was in 2014, but there are some similarities.

As was the case in 2014, Brady is still one of the top quaeterbacks in the league. And as was the case in 2014, Brady and the incoming rookie quarterback now have contracts that will run out at the same time; both players are on parallel paths to hit free agency after the 2019 season. 

Unlike Mallett, Garoppolo is not entering a contract year. He still has two seasons remaining on his rookie deal, but Brissett's addition could be an indication of New England's plans for their backup.

If Brissett develops to the point that he's ready to be a No. 2 in 2017, and if Brady remains healthy and among the best in the game, Garoppolo could quickly become a valuable trade chip. There will almost certainly be a quarterback-needy team next offseason willing to pay handsomely for a quarterback who has spent three years under Belichick and Brady and held his own in preseason action.

If the Patriots choose not to deal Garoppolo before the 2017 season, they'll end up keeping three quarterbacks on their roster for two consecutive years. That's not completely out of the realm of possibility, but for a team that turns over the bottom of its 53-man roster as often as the Patriots do, it seems like a situation Belichick might like to avoid if at all possible.

One would assume that at the end of his contract, Garoppolo would like to find a starting job -- and starter's money -- elsewhere. If he were to leave, the Patriots could receive a compensatory pick in return that might pale in comparison to whatever they would receive in a trade before the 2017 campaign. 

I asked Belichick on Saturday night if Garoppolo's contract situation played a role in the Patriots selecting Brissett at pick No. 91 overall. 

"There’s always an element of team planning, especially at that position," Belichick said. "If you can you try to look ahead a little bit. If you can’t, then take it as it comes. Things change but there’s an element of planning at all positions on your team, certainly that one."

Bottom line: It's the one position at which the Patriots never want to be unprepared. They don't want to be the 2011 Colts with Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky. They don't want to be the 2015 Ravens with Mallett, Matt Schaub and Jimmy Clausen rotating behind center. 

They want to make sure they have capable bodies to man their most important position. By drafting Brissett -- a toolsy quarterback who took care of the football in college  andwas respected as a leader -- they may have found a future backup. At the same time, they've given themselves some flexibility next offseason to seek value for Garoppolo via trade if they so choose.

May 1, 2016: With NHL draft order set, time to deal?

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May 1, 2016: With NHL draft order set, time to deal?

Here are the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading after thinking Barack Obama gave Jeffrey Ross a run for his money as the Roast-master In Chief at last night’s White House Correspondent’s Dinner.

*The man behind the music at American Airlines Arena for the Dallas Stars’ games comes into the spotlight for a story.

 

*Don Cherry sings the praises of Joel Ward, wears a Toronto Marlies suit and said “it was time to go” for Bruce Boudreau in Anaheim.

 

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Penguins coach Mike Sullivan taking major issue with the head shot Brooks Orpik laid on Olli Maatta.

 

*The Maple Leafs secure the No. 1 overall pick in last night’s NHL Draft lottery, which will no doubt lead them to Auston Matthews.

 

*Now that the Edmonton Oilers have the No. 4 pick, Peter Chiarelli is open to trade options for those teams wanting to move up.

 

*Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is once again thriving in Ontario just a year after a major health scare.

 

*Good piece by FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Kurz on the unique journey for Brent Burns that culminated in his Norris Trophy finalist honor this week.

 

*Spector has the roundup of rumors including plenty of speculation on Kevin Shattenkirk once the Blues are done in the playoffs.

 

*For something completely different: a couple of reporters actually got into an actual fight at the White House Correspondent’s after-party. It sounds like they both kind of deserved a punch in the face, to be honest.

Report: Patriots sign nine undrafted free agents

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Report: Patriots sign nine undrafted free agents

The Patriots have reportedly added nine undrafted free agents after selecting nine players in the 2016 NFL Draft.

DJ Foster, RB/WR, Arizona State
Devante Burns, CB, Texas A&M
De’Runnya Wilson, TE/WR, Miss State
Steven Scheu, TE, Vanderbilt
Woodrow Hamilton, DT, Mississippi State
CJ Johnson, LB, Mississippi State
V’Angelo Bentley, CB, Illinois
Jonathan Jones, CB, Auburn
Cre’Von LeBlanc, CB, Florida Atlantic

Foster is arguably the highest profile player the Patriots signed and was filmed celebrating the moment.

Foster has the versatility the Patriots looks for. He played running back over his first three collegiate seasons before shifting to wide receiver. He finished his career at Arizona State with 666 total touches for 4,813 yards and 32 touchdowns.

Stay tuned for more…