Wakeup call: No soccer for KG; are you serious, Seahawks??

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Wakeup call: No soccer for KG; are you serious, Seahawks??

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Monday, August 6:

BASEBALL
People hereabouts complain about the Red Sox' record when Josh Beckett and Jon Lester pitch, but how about the Giants being 4-14 in games started by Tim Lincecum? Until yesterday, that is. (CSN Bay Area)

Roy Oswalt, irked because he was lifted from the starting rotation, lifted himself in the ninth inning of a tie game after pitching two innings in relief (with Texas suffering from a case of the bullpen shorts), saying he'd "had enough". The Rangers went on to lose in extras, and Ron Washington didn't seem too pleased. (Dallas Morning News)

When you hit your knees tonight, give thanks one more time that the Red Sox didn't trade for Matt Garza. (CSN Chicago)

That's five straight games now that A.J. Pierzynski has homered. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

The Indians have lost nine straight, and this one probably hurt more than the first eight put together. (AP)

Yes, yes, Chipper Jones is hitting .320 with a .912 OPS. No matter; he still plans to retire. (Hardball Talk)

Andy Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez are feeling better. (Hardball Talk)

Ryan Dempster didn't give up on his dream of going to the Dodgers until he got word straight from the horse's mouth that it wasn't going to happen. (CSN Chicago)

BASKETBALL
Doesn't seem right that LeBron James can own a piece of a European soccer team and Kevin Garnett can't. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

Linsanity hits Taiwan. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Nick Saban says everyone's so worried about the destination that they fail to appreciate the journey. (AP) Of course, in a manner worthy of a Belichick Coaching Tree member, he wasn't quite that philosophical about it.

The investigation continues into the attack on Wisconsin running back Montee Ball. (AP)

HOCKEY
His girlfriend won a bronze medal at the Olympics and Alex Ovechkin -- if total number of exclamation points are the criteria -- is pretty excited. (CSN Washington)

The Stanley Cup has been taken a lot of places over the years. But on a hunting trip? (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

PRO FOOTBALL
Football's back. (AP)

And it didn't take long for the Cardinals to lose a key player. (AP)

The replacement-officials adventure didn't get off to a very good start. (AP via NBC)

The injury woes continue for Ben Roethlisberger, though the Steelers don't think it's very serious. (AP)

Say it ain't so, Seahawks. Say it ain't so. (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.''