Wakeup Call: It's the old bait-and-switch in Miami

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Wakeup Call: It's the old bait-and-switch in Miami

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Wednesday, November 14:

AUTO RACING
If we can't Tweet while we're behind the wheel, why should NASCAR drivers? (AP)

BASEBALL
The Blue Jays just got a whole lot better in their megadeal with the Marlins. Miami, meanwhile, didn't really do all that bad for itself . . . except in the court of public opinion, since the bait-and-switch move of a) collecting public money for a new stadium and b) trading away most of your big names after a year in that stadium isn't an optimal P.R. strategy. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

When Giancarlo Stanton expressed his, ah, displeasure with whole thing on Twitter, Bryce Harper jumped right in with an invitation to play for the Nationals. (CSN Washington)

Jeffrey Loria's now two-for-two -- he's owned teams in two markets, and pretty much destroyed interest in baseball in both of them -- and that begs the question: Why are you letting this guy stay in the club, Bud Selig? (Hardball Talk)

Next to go: Ricky Nolasco? (Hardball Talk)

Here's three reasons why Josh Hamilton probably won't land in Philadelphia. (CSN Phllly)

Your 2012 Managers of the Year: Davey Johnson (CSN Washington) . . .

. . . and Bob Melvin. (CSN Bay Area)

5.5 million for a guy who missed last season because of Tommy John surgery is a stark reminder that pitching ain't cheap. (CSN Chicago)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Duke sends an early message to Kentucky: It's a new year, boys. (AP)

Kansas found that out, too, thanks to Michigan State. (AP)

Just a bad night all around for Kentucky, as its women's team was routed by No. 1 Baylor. (AP)

New coach, new players, same old results at UConn. (AP) Of course, playing Vermont may have had something to do with it.

Yeah, but as Washington discovered: Sometimes those cupcakes don't go down so easy. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
The Big East is breaking its new football league into East and West divisions . . . but, as Temple being in the West demonstrates, they're not being slaves to geographic tradition. (AP)

HOCKEY
Don't invite Jeremy Roenick and Patrick Marleau to the same party. (CSN Bay Area)

PRO BASKETBALL
This Royce White-on-the-Rockets thing isn't going well. (CSN Houston)

Well, well. Who had the Knicks at 5-0 in the best-start-to-the-season pool? (AP)

The Raptors managed to beat the Pacers despite scoring only five points in the fourth quarter. (AP)

Bernie Bickerstaff's interim magic ran out in L.A. (AP)

The Grizzles' assistant GM, Kenny Williamson, dies at age 65 of cancer. (AP)

PRO FOOTBALL
The Steelers don't know -- or, perhaps more accurately, aren't saying -- how long Ben Roethlisberger will be out because of his bad shoulder. (AP)

Read into this what you will, but, with Jay Cutler having suffered a concussion Sunday night, the Bears have re-signed former backup Josh McCown. (AP)

Adrian Peterson fought the law, and this time the law didn't win. (AP)

If you're wondering why Ryan Fitzpatrick's last pass Sunday -- the one intercepted by Devin McCourty to end the game -- was going to a rookie receiver (T.J. Graham) who ran the wrong route to boot . . . well, Stevie Johnson's wondering the same thing. (AP)

SOCCER
Hope Solo's always been an interesting character, but this -- her fiancee (ex-NFL tight endbad boy Jerramy Stevens, whom she's apparently known for two months) getting arrested for assault after they argued over whether to live in Washington or Florida after they get married -- is new territory. (AP)

Patriots may get help from Foster . . . but not the one you think

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Patriots may get help from Foster . . . but not the one you think

As Patriots fans across New England worked themselves into a fine lather at the sight of Arian Foster in Boston over the weekend, another running back of the same last name prepared himself for his first-ever week of OTAs. 

D.J. Foster may not have the resume that Arian Foster has racked up over the course of his seven-year career, but the undrafted rookie running back's skill set is intriguing nonetheless. And he's healthy, whereas the former Texans Pro Bowler is coming off of a season-ending Achilles ailment and hasn't played a full season since 2012. 

Foster could be considered one of the players on the Patriots roster who stands the most to gain from this phase of the team's offseason program. Not only will he be taught to put into practice that which he's learned during his brief time in Foxboro this far, but there could be valuable reps available to him as Dion Lewis works his way back from a season-ending ACL injury suffered last fall. 

Foster, who played receiver during his final collegiate season at Arizona State, may slot in behind veteran sub backs James White and Donald Brown, but he'll still have an opportunity to show what he can do this spring. This is considered a "teaching camp" by the Patriots, not a "competition camp," meaning the lines between first, second and third string are a bit more blurry than they might be during training camp. Everyone gets a shake. 

At 5-foot-10 and 193 pounds Foster may be considered slight to run between the tackles, but his quickness could help him make defenders miss in the hole. He ran a 6.75-second three-cone drill at this year's combine, which was fourth among wideouts. Had he been considered a back, he would've topped the list at that position for that drill. 

Foster worked primarily with running backs coach Ivan Fears when he first arrived at Gillette Stadium, making it sound as though he'll be in the mix as one of the team's pass-catching backs. But knowing the Patriots, they'll be open to splitting him out wide as well. 

Wherever he's used, Foster will have his work cut out for him as he learns the offense and tries to develop an on-the-field rapport with his quarterbacks. Slow going as his development may be, his ceiling is exciting. 

One thing's for certain: At this point, he's of more use to the club than a veteran back coming off of a major injury who isn't quite ready to pass a physical. 

Despite discord, Goodell's reign may not be nearing end

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Despite discord, Goodell's reign may not be nearing end

Monday may have marked a low point in the relationship between the NFL and its on-field employees.

The fight between the league and its best player of the past two decades was in the headlines again. Tom Brady, tied to the NFL’s bumper and dragged around for almost 500 days, had his NFLPA legal team baring its teeth again in the Deflategate mess. The eye-gouging and hair-pulling in that imbroglio over a puff of air allegedly being removed from footballs has cost the league and the PA about $25M so far.

Meanwhile, NFLPA President Eric Winston was saying the league "cannot be trusted to do the right thing when it involves players.” That comment flowed from a Congressional report alleging the NFL tried to exert influence over who would conduct studies regarding Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), the condition that’s been blamed for a myriad of former players winding up addled, incapacitated or dead.

I say “may have marked” because the relationship between the two sides has cratered so frequently over the past two years, it’s hard to know exactly what the low point has been. Or how much lower it can go.

And, with the 10-year Collective Bargaining Agreement only half done, there is ample opportunity for things to get worse. Because, really, why would they get better?

With the NFL’s owners safe knowing that their emperor/puppet/human shield is still in place to take the hits and do their dirty work, there’s seemingly no groundswell among that group to relieve Roger Goodell of his duties. Despite reports of growing owner discontent over Deflategate, the Ray Rice investigation, and an appeal of a case in which the league was found to have withheld $100M from players, there is no Sword of Damocles dangling over the league to cut ties with Goodell.

He was able to oversee the league’s re-entry in Los Angeles (though that “triumph” was fraught with owner acrimony), is going to get a game played in China, keeps edging closer to getting a franchise based in Europe and may even land one in Las Vegas, has enhanced the league’s reach on social media (the announcement of some games being aired on Twitter) and keeps making billions hand over fist.

Goodell’s presence won’t be an impediment to a new labor deal getting done for another five years. By then, when the issues of Goodell’s role in player discipline, drug testing and his relationship with the union come to the fore, the owners might feel compelled to cut him loose after 15 seasons in charge.

But even then, the league’s owners will be in the business of pointing out to the players how good they’ve had it under the current CBA. The league’s salary cap structure – decried as a disaster in the first years of the deal – has seen the cap grow from $120M in 2011 to $155M this year. Players’ practice time and the wear and tear on their bodies has been reduced thanks to the new limits on contact enacted. Benefits are better. Retired players are getting better care. Players have more off-field marketing opportunities with companies that want to affix themselves to the most popular sport in the United States.

As bad as the headlines have been for Goodell, in five years (or probably fewer since negotiations on a new CBA will begin in 2020) who will remember the disaster that’s been Deflategate? How inspired will players be to miss games and paychecks for the satisfaction of knowing Goodell can’t be his own arbitrator anymore?

To sum it up, Goodell’s dark disciplinary reign may well continue unabated for a few more seasons. But as long as the league rains money on its players through the end of this decade, the clock isn’t ticking on Goodell and the owners in the form of labor strife.