Wakeup Call: The path is clear for Notre Dame

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Wakeup Call: The path is clear for Notre Dame

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Monday, November 19:

AUTO RACING
Ladies and gentlemen, your Sprint Cup champion for 2012: Brad Keselowski. (AP)

Dodge sure left NASCAR in style. (AP)

This week, the only fight between Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer was for first place. (AP)

BASEBALL
Zack Greinke may be staying in Los Angeles. Only it's the real version, not the ersatz "of Anaheim" kind. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

Hiroki Kuroda has apparently narrowed his choices to the Yankees or Japan. (Hardball Talk)

And Juan Pierre has narrowed his to the Marlins, of all teams. (AP)

I guess times are tough: No one wanted to bid 258,600 for Pete Rose's copy of the 1990 agreement in which he accepted a lifetime ban from baseball. (AP)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Whoa. Maybe it is a new era at UConn, after all. And not in a good way. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
After a weekend of upsets, the only thing standing between Notre Dame and a berth in the BCS championship game is Saturday's trip to USC. (AP)

And Brian Kelly likes what he's hearing -- or not hearing -- out of his troops. (CSN Chicago)

When the Trojans take the field Saturday, they'll have the hopes of Oregon, Kansas State and countless other BCS wannabes with them. (Like Georgia.) But they won't have starting quarterback Matt Barkley, who'll miss the game because of a strained right shoulder. (AP)

No surprise here: Tennessee fires coach Derek Dooley. (AP)

GOLF
Rory McIlroy says he wants to lighten the load in 2013. (AP)

HOCKEY
So much for the two weeks off: Labor talks resume today. (AP)

But Sportsnet's John Shannon doesn't expect anything except more "rhetoric and posturing" since, as he puts it, "There is nothing to indicate that either side has had an epiphany." (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

The AHL owners are probably saying, "What's the rush? Stay out longer!" (Pro Hockey Talk)

Whenever they do return, it'll probably be without Senators defenseman Jared Cowen; he underwent surgery for a torn labrum in his hip Saturday and will be sidelined six to eight months. Of course, if the lockout wipes out the season, he might not miss anything. (AP)

The danger of playing in Europe during the lockout is that you might get hurt there . . . like the Capitals' Brooks Laich. (CSN Washington)

PRO BASKETBALL
Coach 'Sheed?? Just when you think you've heard it all . . . (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

Hard to believe Kevin Durant never had a triple-double before last night. (AP)

They're old hat to Kobe Bryant, though. (AP)

It's tough enough staying healthy on the basketball courts of America. But Andrew Bynum couldn't survive its bowling alleys. (CSN Philly)

This is seven knee surgeries, and counting, for Brandon Roy. (Pro Basketball Talk)

PRO FOOTBALL
To quote Peter Gammons, Byron Leftwich me no Byron Leftwich: It was a win in Pittsburgh, and the Ravens will take it. (AP)

The Steelers hope -- or pray, if last night's any indication -- Ben Roethlisberger will be back when they have their rematch with Baltimore in two weeks. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

And hapless Cleveland Browns me no hapless Cleveland Browns: It was a win, period, and the Cowboys will take it. (AP)

If you can't beat 'em one way, beat 'em another. Right, Texans? (CSN Houston)

It helps if your quarterback throws for 527 yards . . . especially when he's never come close to anything like that in the past. (CSN Houston)

Bart Scott's media mutiny didn't last long, as calmer -- i.e., saner -- heads prevailed. (Pro Football Talk)

Matty Ice's five picks couldn't stop the Falcons from beating Arizona. (AP)

TENNIS
The Czech Republic wins its first Davis Cup -- as an independent nation, that is -- with a 3-2 victory over Spain. (AP)

Sexual abuse charges have cost Bob Hewitt his spot in the Tennis Hall of Fame. (AP)

What do retired tennis stars do with themselves when their playing days are over? If they're Chris Evert, Lindsay Davenport and Justin Gimelstob, they make guest appearances on 'CSI: Crime Scene Investigation'. (AP)

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

When it comes to Pablo Sandoval and his weight, a picture is worth a thousand words.

During spring training it wasn’t a good thing. Sandoval made headlines when a number of photos revealed significant weight gain for the Red Sox third baseman.

But the last two images have been more positive for Sandoval.

In October, a noticeably thinner Sandoval was photographed at an FC Barcelona game.

On Monday, Dan Roche of WBZ tweeted a more recent picture of the new-look Sandoval.

Sandoval, 30, is entering the third season of a five-year, $95 million contract. In his lone full season in Boston, 2015, Sandoval hit .245/.292/.366 with 10 homers and 47 RBI.

Red Sox taking stricter luxury tax penalties into consideration this offseason

Red Sox taking stricter luxury tax penalties into consideration this offseason

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The newly agreed upon Major League Baseball collective bargaining agreement features higher taxes and additional penalties for exceeding the competitive balance threshold -- and don't think the Red Sox haven't noticed.

The Red Sox went over the threshold in both 2015 and 2016, and should they do so again in 2017, they would face their highest tax rate yet at 50 percent. Additionally, there are provisions that could cost a team in such a situation to forfeit draft picks as well as a reduced pool of money to sign its picks.

None of which means that the Red Sox won't definitively stay under the $195 million threshold for the upcoming season. At the same time, however, it remains a consideration, acknowledged Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.

"You would always like to be under the CBT (competitive balance tax) if you could,'' offered Dombrowski. "And the reason why is that are penalties attached for going over, so nobody likes to (pay) penalties.

"However, the Red Sox, if you follow history, have been up-and-down, right around that number. We were over it last year and the year before that. So I would prefer (to be under in 2017). However, a little bit more driving force in that regard is that there are stricter penalties now attached to going over. And some of them involve, for the first time, differences in draft choices and sacrificing money to sign players and that type of thing. So there's a little bit more drive (to stay under).

"But I can't tell you where we're going to end up. Eventually, does it factor (in)? Yeah. But until we really get into the winter time and see where we are, will I make an unequivocal (statement about staying under the CBT)? Maybe we won't. But there are penalties that I would rather not be in position to incur.''

Dombrowski stressed that he's not under a "mandate'' from ownership to stay under the CBT.

"But I am under an awareness of the penalties,'' he said. "Last year, I would have preferred to be under, too, but it just worked for us to be above it, because we thought that would be the best way to win a championship at the time.''

He added: "I think we're going to have a good club either way.''

But it's clear that the CBT is part of the reason the Red Sox aren't being more aggressive toward some premium free agents such as first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnacion, who is said to be looking for at least a four-year deal at an annual average value of more than $20 million.

Currently, the Red Sox have nearly $150 million in guaranteed contracts for 2017, plus a handful of arbitration-eligible players, some of whom (Drew Pomeranz, Jackie Bradley Jr.) will see significant raises.

Together, with insurance premiums and others costs tallied, the Sox stand at nearly $180 million, just $15 million under the 2017 tax.

"I've said all along I've wanted to stay away from long-term contracts for hitters at this point,'' Dombrowski said of the current free agent class, "(especially) with some of the guys we have in our organization coming. I just haven't felt that that's a wise thing to do.''

The Sox saw two potential DHs come off the board over the weekend, with Carlos Beltran signing a one-year $16 million deal with Houston and Matt Holliday getting $13 million from the Yankees. Either could have filled the vacancy left by David Ortiz's retirement, but Dombrowski would also be taking on another another eight-figure salary, pushing the Sox well past the CBT.

"I figured we would wait to see what ends up taking place later on,'' said Dombrowski, "and see who's out there.''