Wakeup call: Theo speaks; Howard loves L.A.; protecting the statue

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Wakeup call: Theo speaks; Howard loves L.A.; protecting the statue

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

BASEBALL
Theo Epstein has a message for Cubs Nation: Lower your expectations, at least for the near future. (CSN Chicago)

Jerry Seinfeld live Tweeted the Mets-Nationals game -- and made a Steve Bartman reference to boot -- during Wednesday night's ESPN telecast. (CSN Washington)

Melky Cabrera the ballplayer is having quite the renaissance this year, but not so much Melky Cabrera the person. At least that's how Chipper Jones and the Atlanta fans see it. (CSN Bay Area)

Ever wonder how to throw a pie in a postgame celebration? Watch Josh Reddick tell you how. (CSN Bay Area)

BASKETBALL
Now Dwight Howard says yes, he will sign with the Lakers. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

Kobe Bryant doesn't think much of David Stern's push for an under-23 basketball tournament in the Olympics. And that's putting it mildly. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

All things considered, Jeremy Lin would rather be in New York. Bet the Rockets are thrilled to hear that after writing him a 25 million check. (AP)

COLLEGE SPORTS
After a plane flew over the Penn State campus carrying a banner that read "Take the statue down or we will," a group of students began a "Oh no you won't" vigil around the Joe Paterno statue. (AP via CSN Philly)

Pitt pays the Big East 7.5 million, and the Big East says, okay, you can leave after the 2013 season. (AP)

FOOTBALL
With each day comes word of another former NFL player dying young. Today it's Cleveland Elam, a member of the 49ers' "Gold Rush" front four of the 1970s, at age 60. (CSN Bay Area)

RGIII is (finally) a Redskin. (CSN Washington) But how long did it take for you to figure out what HTTR meant?

One of the reasons the injury problem -- specifically, the concussion problem -- is so pervasive is that players won't come clean when they're hurt. Troy Polamalu is the latest, telling Dan Patrick he's lied about concussions to get back in a game and that "any football player . . . records at least maybe 50 to 100 concussions a year". (CSN Baltimore)

A dynasty in Philadelphia? Michael Vick thinks so. (CSN Philly)

The referees say the NFL planned to lock them out all along. The NFL is shocked, shocked, to hear such a thing. (AP)

HOCKEY
They're talking, and it's "cordial". Can't say there's any progress, however, betwen the owners and players. (AP)

If some of the owners' demands have a "Save us from ourselves!" ring, here's why: The Flyers signed Shea Weber to a 14-year, 100 million offer sheet. (CSN Phllly) The Predators have a week to match it.

The Kings' Drew Doughty won't be charged with date rape. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

-- Hail to the Redskins

Brady allows himself to enjoy win: '[Bleep], you've got to be happy now'

Brady allows himself to enjoy win: '[Bleep], you've got to be happy now'

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady can be his own worst critic. That's why last week, after beating the Texans in the Divisional Round to move on to the AFC title game, he wasn't thrilled. He didn't play up to his standards. The offense struggled at points. He wore his frustration like a five o'clock shadow.

Winning is not everything for Brady, most weeks. He has an idea of how he should perform, how the Patriots offense should perform, and when those ideals aren't met, he's generally displeased. 

PATRIOTS 36, STEELERS 17

On Sunday, after beating up on the Steelers, 36-17, that wasn't the case. It was a sound performance, but it wasn't perfect. It was explosive at times, but it shined a light on areas where the Patriots will need to continue to improve. 

Despite its imperfections, Sunday was no time to brood about plays missed or lessons learned the hard way. Screw it, Brady seemed to say. They were going to the Super Bowl. It was OK to smile.  

"It was a good day," Brady said. "I mean, we're going to the Super Bowl, man. [Expletive], you've got to be happy now."

The Super Bowl berth is the ninth in franchise history -- more than any other club -- and the seventh with Brady and coach Bill Belichick. By throwing for 384 yards and three touchdowns on 32-of-42 passing, Brady tied Joe Montana for the most postseason games (nine) with three touchdown passes. 

Brady will also claim the record for Super Bowls played when he and the Patriots head to Houston. And if they win, he'll tie Charles Haley for most Super Bowl wins for a player (five).

Those are lofty numbers made even more significant, perhaps, due to the fact that Brady wasn't allowed to start this season as his team's quarterback. He was asked during Sunday's postgame press conference if it was personally satisfying to get back to the Super Bowl despite having to serve a four-game suspension due to Deflategate.

"Well, that's because of the hard work of a lot of people from my coaches to my teammates to our families that support us," he said. "It takes a lot of people, a lot of hard work and a lot of effort over the course of many months. This didn't start at 6:40 tonight.

"This thing started in April. It really started before that in free-agency when we were picking up guys like [Chris] Hogan and drafting guys like Malcolm Mitchell and guy who were in rehab like [LeGarrette Blount] and [Dion Lewis] and [James Develin] and Nate [Solder]. It's a lot of hard work. There are only two teams left standing, and I'm happy we're one of them."

They're going to the Super Bowl. He has to be happy now.