Wakeup Call: At least the loan was for something important

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Wakeup Call: At least the loan was for something important

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Wednesday, February 13:

BASEBALL
Let's go for another ride down Denial River: Gio Gonzalez says he's never taken PEDs and has no connection with the Miami clinic suspected of dealing them . . . (CSN Washington)

. . . and that goes double for Jesus Montero. (AP)

Joe Girardi insists that stashing A-Rod -- another guy who, I'm sure, never heard of PEDs and the Bosch Clinic -- in New York during his rehab from hip surgery has nothing to do "with trying to get rid of a distraction". In the classic words of Jim Gosger from the brilliant book Ball Four: Yeah, suuurrre. (AP)

Old friend Hideki Okajima thinks that, "with enough preparation and training," he'll be able to beat out some of these young guys for a spot in the A's bullpen. (CSN Bay Area)

And another old friend, Carl Crawford, is just about to face live pitching and says he's "confident" he'll be ready for Opening Day. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

Crawford's new team was dissed by the Giants' Brandon Belt -- who, when asked about the Dodgers' profligate spending, replied, "All I can say is, you can't buy team chemistry" -- and Belt says he's "getting killed" for his remarks. (CSN Bay Area)

At last, it's a done deal for King Felix and the Mariners. (AP)

And now Hernandez has a new teammate: Joe Saunders. (Hardball Talk)

It's also a done deal for Mat Latos and the Reds. (AP)

And Brandon Inge and the Pirates. (Hardball Talk)

Rolen-to-English translation: Scott Rolen probably wants to play in 2013. Just not in Cincinnati. (AP)

Not a real good sign for the Mets when closer Frank Francisco -- shut down last September 16 because of elbow inflammation -- rests all winter, and then says the elbow still hurts on the first day of spring training. (AP)

Ryan Madson's going for an MRI to examine the elbow pain Mike Scioscia wasn't worried about yesterday. (Hardball Talk)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
No. 25 Kentucky gets schooled by No. 7 Florida . . . (AP)

. . . but the far bigger concern is the knee injury suffered by the Wildcats' freshman center, Nerlens Noel, which, as you'll see in the video attached to the story, doesn't look good. At all. And without Noel, the defending national champs are going nowhere. (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

What the injury does to Noel's career is even more worrisome, especially since Florida's Patric Young called it "gruesome" and Kentucky coach John Calipari said, "I'm physically sick for Noel right now." (Yahoo! Sports)

Another high-profile smackdown: No. 8 Michigan State wallops No. 4 Michigan by 23. (AP)

Makes you think we should reevaluate how we view the Wolverines, doesn't it? (College Basketball Talk)

Rutgers women's coach C. Vivian Stringer is denied her 900th career victory in a last-second loss at DePaul, and says she hopes she reaches the milestone soon because "it's a heck of a lot of burden and stress." (AP)

The center on Penn's 1979 Final Four team is stabbed to death in his sleep by his wife, who said she did it because she caught him looking at what she called child pornography on the Internet and "I had to do it." (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Nice program ya got there, Nick. (AP)

Sources say the reshuffled Big East is about to sign a footballbasketball deal with the NBC Sports Network. (AP)

GOLF
Last weekend's win at Pebble Beach was another sign that Brandt Snedeker is emerging as the next American star. (AP)

The new star, however, won't participate in the Match Play Championship because of sore ribs. (AP)

Michelle Wie was once the rising star of women's golf. But after the worst year of her career in 2012, she's revamping her game and will try to get back on track this weekend in the Women's Australian Open, which kicks off the 2013 LPGA season. (AP)

Wie and Snedeker both made names for themselves as youngsters in the U.S. Amateur Public Links. Now, however, the U.S. Golf Association -- saying it's following a trend that's being set at the local and regional levels -- is getting rid of the Publinx in favor of a U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. (AP)

HOCKEY
The Canadiens blow another third-period lead, but Carey Price saves them in the shootout. (AP)

Not sure I would have put much money down last night on the Hurricanes, since they were ending a six-game road trip playing their second game in two nights, and against the scorching Devils to boot. But that's why I don't bet. (AP)

Think Bobby Loo is still available? (AP)

New Blue Jackets head honcho John Davidson said he had "a gut feeling" that he had to fire general manager Scott Howson . . . so he did. (AP)

And it looks like his gut is telling him to hire Jarmo Kekalainen as Howson's replacement. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

OLYMPICS
The IOC tells wrestling "It's not you, it's me" as the reason why it's dropping the sport, which has been contested in every Olympics except one since 1896. (NBC's Olympic Talk)

PRO BASKETBALL
So LeBron James has the new record for consecutive games with 30 points and 60 percent shooting? Who figures out this stuff? (AP)

Plain old 100 percent isn't good enough for Derrick Rose. No, no, he's not coming back until he's "110 percent" recovered from his knee injury. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

Delonte West was picked up by the Texas Legends of the D-League on Jan. 25, but he still hasn't reported. (AP)

Who would've thought the Lakers could win a game when Kobe Bryant scored only four points? (AP)

James Harden plays through the pain of an injured right ankle and leads the Rockets past the Warriors . . . (AP)

. . . but it doesn't look like he'll be playing through it tonight. (CSN Houston)

Speaking of the Rockets, there may be a happy ending to the Royce White story, after all. (AP)

Temper, temper, Kevin! (AP)

And because we all miss Bob Lobel: Why can't we get players like that?!? (AP)

Lou Amundson is drawing lots of interest on the trade market. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

Surprised that the Sixers are still in the playoff race? So are they. (CSN Philly)

PRO FOOTBALL
Well, as long as he needed the money for something important. (AP)

Chip Kelly's first move as Eagles coach: Shift to a two-back system. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

SOCCER
The prestige of the English Premier League may be at stake today when Manchester United goes against Real Madrid. (NBC's Pro Soccer Talk)

TENNIS
Rafael Nadal to the ATP: You don't care about us. (AP)

Andy Roddick's coming out of retirement . . . sort of. (AP)

Belichick on Long's sack: One of the best defensive plays of the year

Belichick on Long's sack: One of the best defensive plays of the year

It came against a rookie quarterback. It came against an offense that averages a league-worst 15.0 points per game. It came against an offense that has fewer yards than any other. 

Still there are signs that Bill Belichick is pretty pleased with where his defense is after beating the Rams 26-10 on Sunday. One came on Wednesday when Patriots.com published its "Belichick Breakdown" for a closer look at a handful of plays from the team's most recent win.

Belichick called his team's third-and-eight stop with about 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter "probably one of the best good, team defensive plays we've had all year."

The Patriots show a five-man front, but linebacker Kyle Van Noy feigns a rush only to drop into coverage.

"Van Noy in here does a good job on the rush," Belichick said, "and also on the coverage on the back. Just good team defense. Good pass coverage down the field. The quarterback really doesn't end up having a lot of time, but there's no one to throw it to right away."

Belichick noted that all four rushers -- Chris Long, Trey Flowers, Dont'a Hightower and Rob Ninkovich -- all are able to pressure Jared Goff on the play. Combined with strong coverage in the secondary, the Rams nver really had a chance.

Belichick said it looked like a "tidal wave" of defenders bearing down on the quarterback.

"Long wins here . . . on the inside spin," Belichick said, "and Trey Flowers and Hightower both win on the little twist game inside. Then that's Rob with good speed-to-power on [Rams tackle Rob] Havenstein on the outside. Four good rushers. Plus a fifth guy...Van Noy getting that two-for-one on the guard and the back.

"Good team defense. That's great to see. A lot of hard work an execution on the practice field to make that happen."

Harbaugh on Belichick: 'I feel like we have a good relationship'

Harbaugh on Belichick: 'I feel like we have a good relationship'

FOXBORO -- They sounded like a couple of old pals. 

First it was Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who spoke of Ravens coach John Harbaugh during a conference call like one of his favorite fellow lacrosse dads.

"John and I saw a game a couple of years ago, a [Johns] Hopkins vs. Maryland game," Belichick said, adding that Harbaugh's love for the sport is just starting to blossom. "Yeah, I think John is seeing the light."

Belichick added that the two might be closer if they weren't competing so often, both in-season on the field and for free agents in the offseason. 

"As you know, we get into a situation like we’re in now where they have a good team, we have a good team, we’re playing a big game on Monday night," Belichick said. "Both teams are going to do everything they can to compete as hard as they can on Monday night. That’s what it is and that’s what we all signed up for. We all know that’s a part of it.

"When we’re not going head-to-head, which isn’t very often because we compete against each other in the offseason, we compete against each other to build our team and so forth, it just puts things in a little bit of a different situation."

During his press conference with reporters on Wednesday, Harbaugh echoed Belichick's sentiments. Belichick was famously one of Harbaugh's biggest supporters earlier in his career, calling the Ravens on Harbaugh's behalf when the franchise was looking for a new head coach. And if only they weren't so frequently competing against each other, they might be even closer, Harbaugh indicated. 

"I feel like we have a good relationship," Harbaugh said. "Like you said, we're probably not socializing that much, but I don't know how many coaches really do. We're all so busy. I'll see him or any coach at the Combine or at the owner's meetings, and we have a chance to talk. It's always good. I have a ton of respect for him. I really like him as a person. I think he's a great coach -- greatest coach of this generation. He's earned that title.

"And I study him. I've always studied him. I've always studied coach Belichick from when I first met him when I was an assistant at the University of Cincinnati, and he came in and just was great to be around.  [We have a] similar background with the special teams and that sort of thing. All of that kind of goes out the window when you compete against one another. It's like anything else, you want to win. I'm sure he feels the same way."

The recent history between their respective franchises is rife with emotion: There was Baltimore's irate reaction to Belichick's unusual formations in the AFC Divisional Round two seasons ago; there was the Ravens' supposed involvement in sparking Deflategate; and there was Harbaugh's subsequent denial. But Belichick and Harbaugh made it sound on Wednesday as if all's good between them.