Wakeup Call: It'll be 48 games, starting soon


Wakeup Call: It'll be 48 games, starting soon

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Monday, January 7:

First the Yankees make a qualifying offer to Rafael Soriano, forcing any team that signs him in free agency to forfeit a draft choice . . . which, effectively, eliminates any interest in him. And now that he has nowhere else to go, they say they don't want him. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

The only question I have about this is: Why in the world was Florida playing at Yale?? (AP)

Undefeated Michigan is a win away from tying the school record for best start to a season. (AP)

If Alabama comes through, as expected, against Notre Dame tonight, it'll be three BCS titles in four years for the Crimson Tide. (nbcsports.com)

What better way to get ready for the Tide and the Irish than by watching Arkansas State beat Kent State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl? (AP)

Surprise of the weekend: Chip Kelly's staying put. (CSN Philly)

Second-biggest surprise of the weekend: So's Aaron Murray. (NBC's College Football Talk)

Meanwhile, Nick Saban and Brian Kelly continue to insist they're going nowhere. (AP)

Are they ever going to get the PGA Tour season underway? (AP)

Whenever they do get to play, J.J. Henry will be honoring the victims of the Connecticut school shooting. (AP)

Since Rory McIlroy can't decide whether to play for Britain or Ireland in the 2016 Olympics, he may just skip it altogether. (AP)

Looks like it's going to be a 48-game schedule that starts on Jan. 19. (CSN Philly)

And the players are thrilled. (AP)

You may never have heard of Scot Beckenbaugh, but he's probably the reason there'll be a hockey season. (AP)

How bad is it for the Lakers? The Nuggets beat them -- in L.A., no less -- and then say, well, what's the big deal? (AP)

You knew this was coming in the sad Royce WhiteRockets saga. (CSN Houston)

Russell Wilson wins the Battle of the Rookie Quarterbacks as the Seahawks eliminate the Redskins. (AP)

After Robert Griffin III reinjured his knee in the first quarter, he completed 4 of 10 pass attempts for 16 yards with no touchdowns and an interception -- a quarterback rating of 8.3 -- and the Redskins went from a 14-0 lead to a 24-14 loss. But he insists he was "fine" and would have refused to come out of the game if coach Mike Shanahan had tried to lift him. (CSN Washington)

Ah, those classy Seahawks. (CSN Washington)

Sometimes, though, their yappy defensive backs pay the price for that incessant preening and trash talking. (CSN Washington)

It wasn't all preening and trash talking for Pete Carroll's boys. They may have lost sack leader Chris Clemons for the rest of the playoffs. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

And speaking of preening . . . (CSN Baltimore)

What was he dancing and screaming about? A Ravens victory over Indianapolis that earns them a trip to Denver. (AP)

Sunday's loss ended an emotional season for Chuck Pagano and the Colts. (CSN Baltimore)

Gruden to Arizona? Before you get excited, though, it's Jay, not Jon. And it's not a done deal. (AP)

More coaching news: The Bears interview Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. (AP)

So do the Eagles. (CSN Philly)

The Browns are telling folks they turned down Chip Kelly, not the other way around. (AP)

Andy Murray wins the Brisbane International, makes a point during his post-match press conference to publicly dedicate the victory to "one of my best friends . . . who is going to get through" something, then refuses to identify either the friend or what he's going through. (AP)

Putting Stephen Gostkowski's struggles in context


Putting Stephen Gostkowski's struggles in context

Stephen Gostkowski doesn’t miss field goals often and he never misses extra points. His performance this season might not be the end of the world, but there’s no denying his departure from the norm: He’s missing field goals more often and, as was the case in the AFC Championship last season, he hasn’t been automatic on PATs. 

The stats are well-known by now: He’s 9-for-12 on field goals and 16-of-17 on extra points. His three missed field goals are tied for the most he’s had in a season dating back to 2013, and the current season is only six games young. 

For those who have followed the Patriots in recent years, it’s only natural to feel the sky is falling with Gostkowski. After all, the former All-Pro has been nearly peerless in recent seasons, leading the league in field goals made in 2013 and 2014 and tying for second last season. He was arguably the best in the league, and now, six games into the 2016 season, he’s been mediocre. 

The question is whether the Patriots can live with mediocre, and the answer is “definitely.” 

Of the 10 playoff teams last season, four had kickers who missed at least five field goals, including the two Super Bowl participants. Denver’s Brandon McManus had five missed field goals last season; Carolina’s Graham Gano had six. 

The list of good teams with OK kicking performances goes on, and it undoubtedly includes past Patriots teams. Remember, Adam Vinatieri missed nine field goals during the Patriots Super Bowl-winning 2003 season. 

Then there are Gostkowski’s past seasons. He’s obviously had a tremendous career, but he’s had less glamorous seasons sprinkled in with the All-Pro performances. Everyone has lived to tell about it. 

Take 2012. Gostkowski missed six field goals, tying a career-worst set in his rookie year of 2006. He still finished tied for eighth in field goals made, one behind Justin Tucker and ahead of, among others, Vinatieri. The Patriots went 12-4 and reached the AFC Championship, a game the Pats might have won against Baltimore if they didn’t rely on Gostkowski for more than half (seven) of their points (13). 

Gostkowski is currently tied for 15th with nine field goals made. He’s yet to have a particularly costly miss like he did with the PAT against the Broncos last postseason, although his lone field goal attempt in the Pats’ Week 4 loss to the Bills -- a 48-yard miss -- would have made it a 10-point game early in the second half. 

At his current rate, he’ll miss a career-high eight field goals. That is not good, and while it wouldn’t quite put him in end-of-the-line-David-Akers territory (Akers missed 13 field goals in 2012, his second to last season), it would put him in uncharted territory for a great career. 

If there's any silver lining with Gostkowski's numbers down, it's that he doesn't seem to have lost his leg. His 53-yarder in the season-opener was four yards shy of his longest kick from last season. 

Having a capable kicker is important. Having an elite one is a luxury the Patriots have had for the majority of the last 20 seasons. A miss in a key spot can doom a season, but Gostkowski still has time to correct what’s been a down year. 

Celtics roster at 17 after waiving Georges-Hunt, Lee and Jones


Celtics roster at 17 after waiving Georges-Hunt, Lee and Jones

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics made their first player cuts of training camp by waiving Marcus Georges-Hunt, Damion Lee and Jalen Jones on Thursday.

The Celtics roster now stands at 17, two more than the league-maximum which Boston has to get down to by Monday at 5 p.m. EST

Ben Bentil, who was selected by Boston with the No. 51 pick in last June’s NBA draft out of Providence College, is expected to be the next player waived by Boston.

That would still leave the Celtics needing to waive at least one more player.

The final spot is expected to come down to R.J. Hunter and James Young, both of whom have been solid in the preseason which has made this one of the tougher roster decisions the Celtics have had to make under fourth-year coach Brad Stevens.