Wakeup Call: It was June in December for Heat and Thunder


Wakeup Call: It was June in December for Heat and Thunder

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Wednesday, December 26:

Will Andruw Jones' early-Christmas-morning arrest on a battery charge in a domestic dispute jeopardize the contract he just signed to play in Japan next year? (AP)

In protest of the Hall of FamePED mess, one voter registered a protest by sending in an empty ballot. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

Arizona wins the Diamond Head Classic. (AP)

If early December is the time for college football teams to fire their coaches, late December is the time for them to suspend their naughty players from bowl games. Like Texas Tech. (AP via CSN Houston)

And Syracuse. (AP)

Jerry Sandusky just won't shut up. (AP)

Quite the Finals rematch between the Heat and Thunder, wasn't it? (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

And Miami's win over Oklahoma City felt like it was played in "a different month" acorrding to Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, referring to the springtime playoff intensity. (AP)

How intense was it? LeBron James even committed a foul. (AP)

Looks like something from Tom Thibodeau's time in Boston stuck to him when he went to Chicago: He invoked the Bill Belichick "Gotta play better, gotta coach better" line after the Bulls were routed by the Rockets. (CSN Chicago)

Can anyone stop the Clippers? (AP)

Across town, the Lakers are patting themselves on the back for reaching the .500 mark after their win over the Knicks. (AP)

Whenever Bill Belichick is asked a question about an injured Patriot, he invariably responds, "I'm not a doctor." Let us introduce you, then, to Mike McCarthy, M.D., of Green Bay. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

Steve Mariucci gives a passionate non-denial denial to reports linking him to the soon-to-be-open Chargers job. (CSN Bay Area)

Broken finger? What broken finger? (Pro Football Talk)

The Seahawks -- perhaps with an eye towards a playoff matchup against the Falcons -- may sign ex-Atlanta defensive end Ray Edwards. (Pro Football Talk)

Looking for a reason for the Ravens to be optimistic heading into the playoffs? They're getting healthy. (CSN Baltimore)

Looking for a reason to be pessimistic? They're the most penalized team in the NFL, and they've no shown no sign of reversing that season-killing trend. (CSN Baltimore)

Michael Vick will be back at quarterback for the Eagles -- Nick Foles, you see, is hurt -- as they try to finish off the all-but-dead Giants. (AP)

No one who saw Mario Manningham crumble to the ground Sunday night will be surprised to hear that he's out for the season. (CSN Bay Area)

Also done for the year: Heath Miller. But, then, so are the Steelers. (AP)

Adrian Peterson's dealing with a sore abdominal muscle as he a) gears up for a run at a 208-yard performance that would enable him to break Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record and b) tries to help the Vikings earn a playoff spot with a win over the Packers. (AP)

If John Fox had an MVP vote, he'd cast it for Peyton Manning . . . but he admits, "Obviously, I'm going to be a little biased." (AP)

Now it's a stomach virus that's keeping Rafael Nadal off the courts. (AP)

Rex Ryan prepares for Tom Brady: 'This is a critical game for us'


Rex Ryan prepares for Tom Brady: 'This is a critical game for us'

After four wins in a row, Rex Ryan’s employment status had been taken off life support in Buffalo and was -- almost -- good as new.
But a Sunday toe-stub in Miami in which Buffalo suffered a 28-25 loss to the Dolphins set the Bills back a bit. Now, instead of hosting the Patriots this Sunday with a chance to secure a season sweep and move into a first-place tie in the AFC East, Buffalo’s back there at 4-3 just trying to get close.
“Sure we have to learn from things, there’s no question about it, but the more we dwell on (the loss to Miami), it doesn’t help us. We’ve got a bigger task in front of us,” said Ryan.
There is a myriad of differences between Ryan and Bill Belichick but one of the starkest is Ryan’s inability to treat ‘em all the same.
While Belichick will acknowledge that some games carry more import than others -- division games, conference games, etc -- he’s not going to allow his team to poke its head up and look down the road at what’s coming next.
Ryan lets it all hang right out there.
“I don’t know how much more important it could be than this one,” Ryan said when asked about Sunday’s matchup with the 6-1 Pats. “I mean, I could lie to you and say that it’s not important, but yeah, this is a critical game for us. There’s no doubt about it. Does it break your season if you lose? I hope I don’t have to worry about that. We’ve got to find a way to win this game.”
The Bills reveled modestly after their 16-0 win at Foxboro when Jacoby Brissett scuffled in the final week of Tom Brady’s suspension. The gloating was mild. Ryan acknowledged plainly that shutting out the Patriots without Brady wasn’t really shutting out the Patriots.
But there’s no question that game at the start of this month was one the Bills approached with a helluva lot more swagger than normal. The “Where’s your big brother now?” vibe of the pregame scuffle in which the Bills jostled rookies Brissett and Malcolm Mitchell as the two players took the same sideline jog Brady and the Patriots quarterbacks have done at Gillette for a decade set the tone.
And then the Bills went out and had their way. Asked about that scuffle, which resulted in fines for some Jets players, Ryan said, “Well, these two teams don’t like each other. There’s no question about that, but I don’t think there was a real fight, you know? A real fight would be outside in the parking lot. You know what I mean? Then you’ve really got something to write about, but that thing was hardly a fight, I think.”
The blanking and the bullying may be talking points in Foxboro this week but they probably won’t rallying cries. Odd as it sounds, the Patriots don’t merely compete against opponents when they play but measure the day’s success on how well they performed relative to perfection. You could see after the 11-point win in Pittsburgh that there was dissatisfaction on both sides of the ball with how things went.
That fact alone will make it an arduous week of practice as much as the reality that the Patriots are playing the team right behind them in the division.
Ryan knows it’s a much different team he’ll face Sunday.
“It’s not about validating ourselves,” he said. “We’ve just got to find a way to win. In regards to who we’re playing, you know, [Brady] looks great. He’s got those two great tight ends -- they’re big. They’ve still got [Julian] Edelman out there. They’ve got everybody they had out there last time, but they’ve got their player back. So we know the challenge in front of us.”


Tuesday, Oct. 25: Carlo for Calder?


Tuesday, Oct. 25: Carlo for Calder?

Here are the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while having watched the Curious George Halloween special about eight times over the last three or four days thanks to my three-year-old son.

*Bob McKenzie with a great story in former NHL defenseman Mike Commodore talking a shift as an Uber driver as his hockey work has dried up.

*Alex Radulov is earning some early respect for his play from his Habs teammates and the fickle Canadiens fans, but let’s see how the whole season plays out for the notoriously combustible Russian winger.

*Zach Werenski has taken an early lead among his NHL rookie peers for the Calder Trophy, but it looks like it’s going to be a crowded field this year. Just a couple of weeks in, Brandon Carlo certainly looks like he could be in the conversation as well.

*Pioneering female goaltender Shannon Szabados has been cut from the Peoria team in the Southern Pro League.

*The Chicago Blackhawks have plenty of advice for the Chicago Cubs about playing in the big games as the Cubbies get ready for their World Series close-up.

*A more mature David Perron is having greater success the second time around with the St. Louis Blues while contributing in many different areas.

*For something completely different: a really fun story of a Hollywood Reporter contributor recording the reactions of her 7-year-old son watching Empire Strikes Back for the first time. I was around the same age when Empire came out, so I’m sure my reactions were pretty similar to his at different points in the movie.