Wakeup Call: Honoring two sets of victims

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Wakeup Call: Honoring two sets of victims

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Thursday, December 27:

BASEBALL
Jerry Reinsdorf gets gushy -- or as gushy as he ever gets -- as he says goodbye to A.J. Pierzynski. (CSN Chicago)

There was a time when the Yankees, in need of outfield help, signed the Reggie Jacksons and Dave Winfields. Now they're signing the Matt Diazes. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

Jason Grilli will replace Joel Hanrahan as the Pirates' closer. (Hardball Talk)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
A heart condition forces Creighton senior backup guard Josh Jones to retire. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Virginia Tech -- which experienced a mass shooting in 2007 -- will honorboth the Sandy Hook victims and its own with special decals on its helmets during the Russell Athletic Bowl on Friday. (AP)

Underdogs usually go all humble ("It's an honor to be on the same field with insert opponent here and we're certainly going to try our darndest") or all Rodney Harrison ("NOBODY thought we could do it!!"). As it prepares for the BCS championship game against Alabama, Notre Dame is choosing the former. (CSN Chicago)

We have a new Little Caesars Pizza Bowl champion, and it's Central Michigan. (AP)

HOCKEY
So are we, Lou. So are we. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

In the meantime, the game of chicken continues. (Pro Hockey Talk)

Sounds like the Coyotes are actually hoping the season gets canceled. (Pro Hockey Talk)

A skate to the neck is "nothing serious"? Jiri Hudler must be wondering what his Czech team considers "serious". (Pro Hockey Talk)

PRO BASKETBALL
Quite the holiday season for the Bobcats: They haven't won a game since two days after Thanksgiving, with last night's loss to the Heat making it 14 in a row. (AP)

It could be worse. They could be the Wizards. (CSN Washington)

The Hornets' long nightmare, however, is over. (AP)

After that arduous climb back to .500, the Lakers slip back down the slope. (AP)

Hack-A-Dwight takes on a whole new meaning. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

The Knicks ditch those ghastly orange-on-orange monstrosities they wore Christmas Day and get back to their winning ways. (AP)

A taste of summer: Weather postpones the Bulls and Pacers. (CSN Chicago)

It sounds kind of ominous -- Rudy Gay missing the Grizzlies' game against the Sixers for "personal reasons" (Pro Basketball Talk) -- but the Memphis Commercial Appeal subsequently reported that Gay was unable to fly in because of weather problems across the country. I guess that's personal . . .

PRO FOOTBALL
Tim Tebow insists he never told Rex Ryan he would refuse to play in the wildcat formation last week, and is offended that anyone would think he's a diva or a quitter. But he says he can see how Ryan could have concluded that after a conversation they had a week ago. Then, after watching Jeremy Kerley run the wildcat for two days in practice, he went and told Ryan he'd do anything he was asked. Then Ryan didn't use him anyway. Man, this TebowJets thing just couldn't have gone more smoothly, could it? (AP)

The old Colts -- the Bill PolianTony DungyPeyton Manning Colts -- are one of the main reasons most fantasy leagues end in Week 16; they would consistently sit out most of their regulars as the season wound down. But these are the new Colts, and they're playing to win Sunday . . . much to the delight of the Patriots, who need their opponent, the Texans, to lose. (AP)

As are the Ravens, though, theoretically, they still have something to play for: They could get the No. 3 seed if they win and the Patriots lose. (CSN Baltimore)

Michael Vick says he's not looking at Sunday's start against the Giants as an audition for the other 31 NFL teams . . . though that's what it is. (CSN Philly)

Nor is Andy Reid looking at Sunday's game against the Giants as the final afternoon of his Eagles coaching career . . . though that's what it (probably) is. (CSN Philly)

Or maybe not. (CSN Philly)

Old friend Brian Hoyer is going to make his first NFL start Sunday. (AP)

Here are some of the more blatant Pro Bowl snubs. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

Tom Brady's BFF, Richard Sherman, was one of them, but he's got bigger fish to fry than worrying about missing a trip to Hawaii: He's planning to sue the NFL if he gets suspended for PED use. (Pro Football Talk)

Ben Roethlisberger says the Steelers' failures this season are on him. (AP)

The Cowboys' Josh Brent has been formally indicted on one count of intoxication manslaughter in the death of teammate Jerry Brown. (AP)

Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss

Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss

NEW YORK -- It had the potential to be the most awkward celebration ever.

In the top of the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium, before their game was complete, the Red Sox became American League East champions, by virtue of one other division rival -- Baltimore -- coming back to beat another -- Toronto -- in the ninth inning.

That eliminated the Blue Jays from the division race, and made the Sox division champs.

But that ninth inning reversal of fortune was about to visit the Red Sox, too.

Craig Kimbrel faced four hitters and allowed a single and three straight walks, leading to a run. When, after 28 pitches, he couldn't get an out, he was lifted for Joe Kelly, who recorded one out, then yielded a walk-off grand slam to Mark Teixeira.

The Yankees celebrated wildly on the field, while the Red Sox trudged into the dugout, beset with mixed emotions.

Yes, they had just lost a game that seemed theirs. But they also had accomplished something that had taken 158 games.

What to do?

The Sox decided to drown their temporary sorrows in champagne.

"As soon as we got in here,'' said Jackie Bradley Jr., "we quickly got over it.''

From the top of the eighth until the start of the bottom of the ninth, the Red Sox seemed headed in a conventional celebration.

A two-run, bases-loaded double by Mookie Betts and a wild pitch -- the latter enabling David Ortiz to slide into home and dislodge the ball from former teammate Tommy Layne's glove --- had given the Sox a 3-0 lead.

Koji Uehara worked around a walk to post a scoreless walk and after the top of the ninth, the Sox called on Craig Kimbrel, who had successfully closed out all but two save opportunities all season.

But Kimbrel quickly allowed a leadoff single to Brett Gardner and then began pitching as though he forgot how to throw strikes. Three straight walks resulted in a run in and the bases loaded.

Joe Kelly got an out, but then Teixeira, for the second time this week, produced a game-winning homer in the ninth. On Monday, he had homered in Toronto to turn a Blue Jays win into a loss, and now, here he was again.

It may have been a rather meaningless victory for the Yankees -- who remain barely alive for the wild card -- but it did prevent them the indignity of watching the Red Sox celebrate on their lawn.

Instead, the Sox wore the shame of the walk-off -- at least until they reached their clubhouse, where the partying began in earnest.

It had taken clubhouse attendants less than five minutes to cover the floor and lockers with plastic protective sheets. In a matter of a few more minutes, the air was filled with a mix of beer and bubbly.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski wore a goggles and only socks on his feet.

As the spray reached every inch of the clubhouse, David Ortiz exclaimed: "I'm going to drown in this man.''

Defeat? What defeat?