Wakeup Call: Serena loses to the daughter of an ex-Patriot

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Wakeup Call: Serena loses to the daughter of an ex-Patriot

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Wednesday, January 23:

AUTO RACING
Plans are unveiled to renovate historic Daytona International Speedway. (AP)

None of it, of course, will happen before this year's Daytona 500, which means NASCAR's new Gen-6 race car will debut on the old track. (AP)

BASEBALL
The Phillies -- who've obviously never seen him play there -- sign Delmon Young in the hopes that he'll become their starting right fielder. (CSN Philly)

They say most accidents happen in the home, so it makes sense that Francisco Liriano broke his right arm when he fell in his bathroom. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

The money just keeps flowing in L.A.: According to a source, Time Warner has agreed to pay 7 billion in a 20-year deal for the Dodgers' TV rights, starting in 2014. (AP)

Age is just a state of mind, right? Sandy Koufax -- starting a new job at 77 -- apparently thinks so. (AP)

The troubled Elijah Dukes is arrested again. (AP)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Villanova hands No. 5 Louisville its second straight loss, which had the fans storming the court. Really, can somebody pass the word that beating a ranked team in January is hardly call for an over-the-top celebration? (CSN Philly)

An artistic gem it wasn't, but No. 3 Kansas isn't complaining about its 59-55 road win over No. 11 Kansas State. (AP)

Thad Motta's staying put for a while. (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Her name is Diane O'Meara, and her face was used as the face of the fictitious Lennay Kekua in the Manti Te'o hoax, and she's not happy about it. In. The. Least. (AP)

More legal troubles for Jerry Sandusky, Penn State and Sandusky's charity: A young man identified as Victim 6 in the sex scandal files suit against all of them. (AP)

The rejuvenated Mountain West, robust again after prodigal sons Boise State and San Diego State abandoned the Big East and returned, will start playing a championship game next season. (AP)

GOLF
Phil Mickelson asks for a mulligan on his tax comments. (AP)

HOCKEY
After their shutout loss in New Jersey, the Flyers are 0-3 for the first time since 1994-95. (CSN Philly)

But the Blackhawks? They're 3-0 for the first time since 1972-73 after beating the Blues. (CSN Chicago)

When it comes to antipathy towards the referees, the Caps' Mike Ribeiro is in midseason form. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

The Canucks say a potential trade for Roberto Luongo is in place, though they haven't pulled the trigger. (AP)

PRO BASKETBALL
Best of the West? The Thunder stakes its claim with a 109-97 win over the Clippers in L.A. (AP)

And it was, as expected, Kevin Durant who led the way. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

Apparently, some people in Sacramento -- "mega whales" by name -- aren't giving up the Kings without a fight. (Pro Basketball Talk)

Which led Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson to warn the good folks in Seattle: "Don't celebrate too early." (AP)

Even though no one in a position of power is saying anything, it appears that assistants Dan Majerle and Elston Turner lost their jobs, too, when the Suns and head coach Alvin Gentry agreed to a divorce last Friday. (AP)

The Grizzlies clear some cap space in a multiplayer trade with the Cavs. (AP)

The Lakers' top backup big man, Jordan Hill, is undergoing hip surgery. (AP)

PRO FOOTBALL
Looks like the fate of the Pro Bowl hinges on how much effort the players put into Sunday's game. (AP)

The concussion crisis may be headed to another level, as researchers for the first time have detected changes in the brains of retired players who are still alive. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

The Har-Bowl angle's just not that interesting . . . and that's straight from one of the horses' mouths. (CSN Baltimore)

Even though he appreciates what Colin Kaepernick has done, Kurt Warner believes the 49ers could have gotten to the Super Bowl if Alex Smith were still the quarterback. (CSN Bay Area)

Bill Callahan "sabotoging" the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII? Impossible, says ex-Oakland fullback Zack Crockett. (CSN Bay Area)

As for Callahan, he's "shocked, saddened and outraged" by the charges -- originally made by Tim Brown and later supported by Jerry Rice -- and he "categorically and unequivocally denies the sum and substance of their allegations." (AP)

And speaking of Callahan, he may have some new job responsibilities next year in Dallas. (AP)

Eight new coaches and seven new general managers were hired since the end of the season, and not one of them was a minority. So the Fritz Pollard Alliance wants to expand the Rooney Rule. (AP)

Jamarcus Russell wants back in. (Pro Football Talk)

Sean Payton's already back in. (AP)

Rex Ryan was in a car accident last week, but he was unhurt and -- even though he apparently caused it -- received a warning and no citation. (AP)

More DUI troubles for the Cowboys, as nose tackle Jay Ratliff is arrested. (AP)

TENNIS
Serena Williams hurt her back and was upset by teenager Sloane Stephens in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open . . . which led Stephens to tell interviewers that a) she had gotten psyched for the match by telling herself, "Look, dude, like, you can do this", b) that she would now replace a poster of Williams hanging in her bedroom with a poster of herself, and c) she was "sure my grandparents are like freaking out". Ah, to think how much more boring it would have been if Serena hadn't hurt her back . . . (AP)

Stephens' father, incidentally, was the late John Stephens, a former running back for the Patriots. (wikipedia.org)

Much less entertainment on the men's side, as Andy Murray's back in the semis. (AP)

Quotes, notes and stars: Swihart flashes power and speed

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Quotes, notes and stars: Swihart flashes power and speed

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 10-3 win over the Colorado Rockies:

 

QUOTES

"I felt a little cramp. I'm fine. I appreciate John and everybody looking out (for me). We obviously don't want anything to happen like last year, but I'm good.'' - Dustin Pedroia, who left the game in the fifth after experiencing some tightness in his right hamstring.

"It's nice to be able to get deep into the game. That's my goal every time. My goal is nine innings, so if I don't get nine innings, I'm a little disappointed because I want to be able to go out there and pitch as many innings as I can.'' - Steven Wright.

"I think my release point was just a little off. That definitely makes it hard, especially when it's moving, because it's not a consistent release point.'' - Wright on the early-inning unpredictability of his signature pitch.

"Even when I was catching, I pride myself on running. I want to be an athlete back there. I want to run the bases, steal bases, things most catchers aren't known to do.'' - Blake Swihart, who hit two triples.

 

NOTES

* Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his hitting streak to 29 games.

* Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 18 games.

* David Ortiz tied Paul Molitor for 12th on the all-time doubles list with 605.

* Ortiz has driven in multiple runs in three straight games

* Dustin Pedroia has a career batting average of .340 in interleague play, the highest ever for someone with 500 or more at-bats.

* Travis Shaw drove in three runs and now has 68 RBI in his first 111 games since Fred Lynn and Jim Rice in 1974-75.

* Blake Swihart became the third Red Sox hitter this season to post two triples in the same game.

* The Red Sox clinched their fifth straight home series win.

* The Sox are 21-8 since April 24 and are 13-2 in their last 15 home games.

 

STARS

1) Steven Wright

Backed by some rare run support, Wright evened his record at 4-4 with seven-plus innings and his eighth quality start this season.

2) Travis Shaw

Shaw produced two hits and knocked in three runs, making him the fourth Red Sox player this season to reach 30 RBI.

3) Blake Swihart

Swihart got to flash both his power and his speed by hitting two triples to the triangle, motoring around the bases.

 

Some questions and answers when it comes to Miller contract

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Some questions and answers when it comes to Miller contract

A day after the Bruins announced a much-maligned four-year contract extension for defenseman Kevan Miller, B’s general manager Don Sweeney held court with the media to equal parts explain/defend the $10 million deal. Sweeney pointed to the very high character of a hardnosed player in Miller, and the relatively low mileage given that he’s played only 159 games at the NHL level.

There was also mention made of the room to grow in Miller’s game, though it’s difficult to imagine a much higher ceiling for a 28-year-old player than what the former UVM produced showed in 71 games last season.

“Kevan brings incredible character. His signing provides us with the necessary depth on our defense that all teams need. His relative low-mileage, having just played 160 games, we identified that we think Kevan has room for continued growth and development,” said Sweeney. “We certainly saw that in his play this year when he had an expanded role. Relative to the free market place, very, very comfortable with where Kevan fits into our group, and this provides us with the opportunity to explore the marketplace in every way, shape, or form, in having Kevan signed.”

Here’s the reality: Miller is a 5-6, bottom pairing defenseman on a good team, and a top-4 defenseman on a team like last year’s Bruins that finished a weak 19th in the league in goals allowed. The five goals and 18 points last season were solid career-high numbers for a player in the middle of his hockey prime, but he barely averaged 19 minutes of ice time per game as a front top-4 defenseman. Miller struggles with some of the fundamental needs in today’s NHL if you’re going to be a top-4 D-man: the tape-to-tape passes aren’t always accurate, there’s intermittent difficulty cleanly breaking the puck out of the defensive zone and Miller was exploited by the other team’s best players when paired with Zdeno Chara at points last season.

Certainly Miller has done some good things racking up a plus-55 rating during his three years in Boston, but executives and officials around the league were a bit surprised by the 4-year, $10 million contract extension. It’s viewed as a slight overpay in terms of both salary and term, but it’s more the redundancy of the contract that’s befuddling to some.

“Miller is certainly a rugged guy, but you already had one of those at roughly the same value in Adam McQuaid. I believe that you can’t win if you have both McQuaid and Miller in your top 6 because they are both No. 6 D’s in my mind,” said a rival NHL front office executive polled about the Miller contract. “You look at the playoffs and the direction that the league is headed in, and you need to have big, mobile defenseman that can quickly move the puck up the ice. You have too much of the same thing with Miller and McQuaid, and I think you can’t win with that in this day and age.”

The one facet of the four year Miller contract that might make it okay for some Bruins fans: the tacit connection to the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes. According to several sources around the league, the Bruins taking care of Miller now will very likely have a positive impact on their chances of landing Vesey when he becomes a free agent on Aug. 15, and makes them the front-runner for the Harvard standout’s services. Both Miller and Vesey are represented by the same agent in Peter Fish, and those are the kinds of behind-the-scenes connections that many times factor into free agent signings and trades around the NHL.

So many, this humble hockey writer included, may owe Sweeney a slight apology if paying a $10 million premium for a bottom-pairing defenseman in Miller now pays dividends in landing a stud forward like Vesey that’s drawing interest all around the league.