Wakeup call: It's a Dwightmare for Shaq

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Wakeup call: It's a Dwightmare for Shaq

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Friday, October 5:

AUTO RACING
Kyle Busch to Toyota: Sorry about that. (AP)

BASEBALL
All of a sudden, D.C.'s a baseball town. Funny how having the best record in the major leagues will do that for you. (CSN Washington)

Bet the Rangers never thought they'd be playing today. (AP)

Theo says the job of rebuilding the Cubs might take a little longer than he thought. (CSN Chicago)

One person who pleasantly surprised Epstein during his first season in Wrigleyville: Alfonso Soriano. (CSN Chicago)

It may have been a mere formality, what with Tito coming to town today and all, but Sandy Alomar Jr. interviewed for the Indians' managerial job. (AP)

Minnesota state legislators are pushing the Mayo Clinic to unseal Lou Gehrig's medical records in an attempt to see if there's any link between concussions and ALS. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

Not only did the erring reporter apologize publicly for incorrectly linking Robinson Cano to PED use, but he's made a contribution to the Robinson Cano Foundation, as well. Not that any of that stopped Scott Boras from taking a shot. (Hardball Talk)

Looks like the Dodgers are going to let 283 at-bats from Luis Cruz alter their long-term plans at shortstop and third base. (Hardball Talk)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Good news for Roy Williams: His second kidney tumor was also benign. (AP)

Texas Tech finally has its replacement for Billy Gillispie, at least on an interim basis. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
USC sidestepped an upset in Utah Thursday night. (AP)

Charlie Weis wouldn't be a true member of the Bill Belichick Coaching Tree -- or at least a close relative, since he's probably an actual branch of the Bill Parcells Tree -- without disdain for the media. Even student media. (NBC's College Football Talk)

No. 15 TCU has suspended quarterback Casey Pachall after his second brush with the law in eight months, saying he "obviously needs help". (AP)

GOLF
Geez, Paul Lawrie. You think someone yelling, "Top it! Shank it! You're going to lose!" is bad crowd behavior?? Try playing in the Black Hole or the Dawg Pound sometime. (AP)

HOCKEY
Everybody's wailing about the NHL's cancellation of the first two weeks of the season. But nobody's doing anything -- like, you know, negotiating -- to end the lockout. (CSN Chicago)

Donald Fehr says the owners could fix things tomorrow, since a lockout "should be the last resort in bargaining, not the strategy of first resort". Well, welcome to Bettman World, Don. (CSN Washington)

So are we, Dan. So are we. (CSN Bay Area)

Coming soon to an AHL arena near you: Taylor Hall. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

PRO BASKETBALL
Shaq isn't too impressed with the Lakers' new center. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

The NBA is sending the Knicks and Pistons to London in January. (AP)

David Stern guesses the NBA Players Association likes acting. Yeah, nothing breeds goodwill between management and labor like arrogance and condescension. (Pro Basketball Talk)

It was only four months ago that -- with the Heat on the verge of playoff elimination in two separate series -- LeBron James was the pariah of basketball. Now Charles Barkely is saying that he can be better than Michael Jordan. (AP)

That Ashley Manning who may join the Grizzles' group of minority owners? She's Peyton's wife. (AP)

PRO FOOTBALL
There's one less undefeated team in the NFL, thanks to the Rams. (AP)

The victory didn't come without a price for St. Louis: Danny Amendola broke his collarbone. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

So that's who Carol is! (Pro Football Talk)

There hasn't been much for Tim Tebow to do so far in New York, but he and Rex Ryan both say he's not frustrated. (AP)

The Texans, though, think his role is going to get a lot less limited Monday night, and they're planning accordingly. (CSN Houston)

First impressions: Ortiz moves past pregame ceremonies, hits game winner for Sox

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First impressions: Ortiz moves past pregame ceremonies, hits game winner for Sox

BOSTON -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 5-3 win over Toronto:

* What's left to say about David Ortiz?

Ortiz acknowledged before Friday's game that the pre-game ceremonies and the attendant fuss over his pending retirement have created a challenge for him. Sometimes, it's hard to go from being feted to trying to win a game.

Not that you would know it by Friday night.

In his first at-bat, he singled home the first run of the game. Two at-bats later, he lined a bullet that was right at Jose Bautista.

But he saved his best for the seventh when, after the Red Sox tied the game at 3-3, Ortiz promptly untied it with a laser down the line, landing in the right field seats.

One more clutch hit from Ortiz in a career full of them.

* Brock Holt's defense at third has stood out.

John Farrell is looking for someone to step up with the third base job, given that Travis Shaw is hitting under .200 since the All-Star break and Aaron Hill has had difficulty hitting righties.

Holt, meanwhile, has seized the job somewhat by default, with a .319 average in the last 24 games.

But since starting the last four games at third, Holt has also contributed with his glove.

On Friday night, Holt made a fine stop with his backhand, on the third base line, and fired to nail Devon Travis on a close play at first.

Later, he came on a slow roller to gun down Josh Donaldson out at first.

* The Red Sox have done a better job of late capitalizing on opponents' mistakes.

Last week in Baltimore, the Red Sox were handed a gift by the Orioles when a throwing error by Chris Davis resulted in five runs being scored -- all of them unearned. It took exactly two pitches for the Red Sox to pounce on the opportunity.

On Friday night, it happened again.

Trailing 3-1, the Red Sox used a throwing error by Russell Martin to score one run and put another runner in scoring position. A groundout and single by Mookie Betts tied things, and Ortiz's homer broke the tie and gave the Red Sox a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Good teams take advantage of mistakes. Two of the last six Red Sox wins are prime examples of that maxim.

Sox may have finally found their everyday third baseman for the postseason

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Sox may have finally found their everyday third baseman for the postseason

BOSTON — As has been well-documented, the Red Sox have tried any number of solutions at third base this season, with eight different players getting starts at the position.

Travis Shaw has the most starts of anyone, with 99. But with three games left in the season, it's become apparent that Brock Holt is being viewed as the likely starter in the post-season.

Holt started all three games in the recent series in New York and was the starter Friday night against Toronto, too.

"You look at the consistent quality to the at-bats," said John Farrell, "and they've been there for him. That's not to say the other guys aren't important to us. But this is the time of year where you're looking to put the best, current lineup on the field and his versatility has shown up a number of ways. He's a confident defender at third base and his skill set is a little bit different from the other guys.

"So against righthanded pitching, that could be the guy we're going with."

Holt came into Friday hitting .319 (22-for-69) in the last 24 games.

Shaw, meanwhile, has been streaky to a fault. In the second half of the season, Shaw has posted a slash line of .195/.260/.362.

"We've seen (the streakiness both ways) in short spurts," Farrell said. "He does have the ability to carry us. But we're trying to get there and we're at a point in the year where every game is meaningful. That's not to say you turn your back on what he did earlier in the season. But we're looking for sparks somewhere."

What's more, Farrell had Holt hitting second in the lineup, in an effort to produce more offense. The Sox were limited to just eight runs in the three-game series at Yankee Stadium, and over the last 11 games, scored more than five runs just once.

Holt hit second, with Xander Bogaerts dropped to sixth.

"This is to create a little bit of a spark for us offensively," explained Farrell. "We've been grinding a little bit. And also, (we want) to create a little more (left-right) balance up and down the lineup."

TIME TO PLAY

As the final few regular season games of his career wind down, David Ortiz acknowledged that it's becoming increasing difficult to focus on the games with all the tributes and ceremonies going on.

In the final 11 days of the season, Ortiz will have had five pre-game ceremonies held in his honor -- and it would have been six had not Ortiz asked the Tampa Bay Rays to cancel the ceremony they had planned in the aftermath of the death that morning of pitcher Jose Fernandez.

On Thursday night, Ortiz has his family on the field for a pre-game celebration hosted by the New York Yankees.

Minutes later, he had to step in to the batter's box against CC Sabathia. Sometimes, it's hard to flip that switch and be emotionally ready to compete.

"I'm not going to lie to you -- it has (gotten harder)," said Ortiz. "We're already in the playoffs, so for the next three days, I don't really have to worry about it. But the best thing about it is that once we get into the playoffs, there's not going to be all these distractions.

"I like to mentally focus when we play, especially when I'm playing for a reason. We work extremely hard during the regular season to get into the playoffs and once we get there, I don't want to blow that off. It's not easy to (do all the ceremonies) and play baseball at the same time. It can be a distraction."