Wakeup Call: Straighten out, Penguins!

Wakeup Call: Straighten out, Penguins!
March 27, 2014, 9:00 am

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy and/or interesting tidbits -- for Thursday, March 27:

AUTO RACING

That was no sinus infection: That was a piece of metal in Denny Hamlin's eye. (AP)

BASEBALL

For the 17th straight year, Forbes lists the Yankees as baseball's most valuable franchise; the Yanks are now worth $2.5 billion. The Dodgers are second at $2 billion and the Red Sox third at $1.5 billion. (AP)

Yahoo!'s Jeff Passan gets an inside look at MLB's instant-replay bunker. (Yahoo! Sports)

Clayton Kershaw's going to miss his next start. But it's his back, not his arm, that's bothering him. (AP)

Sometimes a stiff neck is just a stiff neck. (AP)

Yu Darvish's replacement won't be Tommy Hanson. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

The Pirates and Starling Marte agree on a six-year, $31 million deal. (AP)

So much for those concerns about Justin Verlander after his offseason surgery. (AP)

Here's how you get ready for Opening Day. (AP)

Old friend Jacoby Ellsbury says he's getting better. (Hardball Talk)

And Royals catcher Salvador Perez says he's fine after being beaned in an exhibition game against the Padres. (Hardball Talk)

Bryce Harper's in midseason form. (CSN Washington)

Joe Blanton can console himself after his release from the Angels with the $8.5 million check they have to write him. (AP)

To the surprise of no one, Bobby Abreu doesn't make the Phillies. But his final fate hasn't been decided just yet. (CSN Philly)

And to the surprise of no one, old friend Quintin Berry doesn't make the Orioles. (CSN Baltimore)

Bo Porter's dismissive quote about pitchers' roles doesn't compare to ex-Red Sox manager Joe Morgan's, who, more than 20 years ago, said: "Roles? Rolls are what you have with dinner. You pitch when I tell you to pitch. That's your role." Morgan was soon fired and never worked again. Just a word of warning, Bo. (Hardball Talk)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

A day ago, Steve Masiello -- about to be hired away from Manhattan by South Florida -- was riding high. Now his coaching career is in question as the Bulls pull their offer after discovering he never graduated from college despite a bio that says he did. (AP)

Losing to Kentucky is Louisville's worst nightmare, so you know Cardinal Nation is in a panic about the schools' Sweet Sixteen matchup tomorrow. (Yahoo! Sports)

Been a long time since there's been an NCA A Tournament game at Madison Square Garden: 53 years, to be exact. But now the dance is back in the Big Apple. (AP)

Providence -- the city, not the college -- would like to host the Atlantic 10 tournament for the two years it's being kicked out of Brooklyn. (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

Two years after transferring from Harvard to St. John's, Max Hooper is transferring again . . . though he doesn't have a landing spot as of yet. (College Basketball Talk)

If you want to know why there are so many Canadian kids excelling in college basketball these days, credit the Raptors. (Yahoo! Sports)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

If you're not happy about Wednesday's NLRB ruling that allows college players to unionize, there's only one place to put the blame: On the university presidents, who allowed this wretched system to evolve. (Yahoo! Sports)

The NCAA certainly isn't happy . . . as well it shouldn't be, since it figures to be perhaps the biggest loser in all this. (NBC's College Football Talk)

Jimbo Fisher's talking loud and talking proud. (AP)

Considering how much the ACC Championship Game cost the Seminoles, maybe they shouldn't be so eager to repeat. (College Football Talk)

Hank Lauricella, the 1951 Heisman Trophy runner-up from Tennessee who went on to serve more than three decades as a Louisiana state legislator, dies at age 83. (AP)

GOLF

Another barrier may soon come tumbling down: The Royal & Ancient Golf Club, exclusively for men since it was founded 260 years ago at St. Andrews, will vote in September on whether women can join. (AP)

HOCKEY

Troubled, passionless, lacking in enthusiasm . . . those aren't things you want to hear with the playoffs approaching, Penguins. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

The Rangers extend their winning streak to four with a 3-1 victory over the arch-rival Flyers. (AP)

The Ducks avenge their ugly loss in Calgary two weeks ago . . . barely. (AP)

Henrik Zetterberg says his goal is to return in time for the playoffs. Now it's up to the Red Wings to qualify for them. (AP)

At least Detroit's in the middle of the scrum for one of the final spots. The Devils are on the outside looking in and need to get hot to push their way into the picture. (AP)

PRO BASKETBALL

Dysfunctional, dispirited, dissension-ridden . . . those aren't things you want to hear with the playoffs approaching, Warriors. (CSN Bay Area)

And you especially don't want to hear that your coach is looking for another job, though Mark Jackson swears that's not the case. (CSN Bay Area)

The Pacers take the Heat's best shot and still prevail, which means this year's Eastern Conference playoffs could be very interesting. (AP)

But it might not mean anything, not if the Spurs continue to roll this way. (AP)

Old friend Al Jefferson takes down old friend Paul Pierce. (AP)

Maybe I buried the Knicks too soon. Because their victory . . . (AP)

. . . and the Hawks' loss, their fourth straight, has New York only two games behind Atlanta for the final playoff spot in the East. (AP)

PRO FOOTBALL

Johnny Football's pro day will be covered live by the NFL Network and may even have former President George W. Bush and Texas Governor Rick Perry in attendance. No pressure there, eh Johnny? (Yahoo! Sports)

Roger Goodell says "there is a tremendous amount of interest . . . possibly even to the point of support" in expanding the playoffs to 14 teams as early as this season. (AP)

And that -- unlike an expanded 18-game schedule, which he vows will never happen "on my watch" -- has the approval of new NFLPA president Eric Winston. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

Here are the rules changes that passed and didn't pass -- and were tabled -- at the owners meeting. (Pro Football Talk)

Former NFL player Wade Davis, who waited until he retired to announce he's gay, gives what Goodell calls a "very important" speech to owners, GMs and coaches about sexual orientation in sports. (AP)

Doctors say they're going to try chemotherapy and radiation rather than surgery to treat Jim Kelly's cancer, which they think is "very treatable and potentially curable." (AP)

The Los Angeles Bills? Sorry; Ralph Wilson signed an iron-clad agreement with the city of Buffalo two years before his death that prevents the team from moving anywhere until at least 2019. (AP)

Coach Ron Rivera says Steve Smith has lost his "top-end" speed, which is why Carolina let him go. More fuel for that Panthers-Ravens game this year . . .  (AP)

Mark Sanchez-to-the-Eagles is getting closer. (CSN Philly)

Mark Cuban is surprised at the stir his anti-NFL comments caused. (Pro Football Talk)

Tom Coughlin thinks he's a Hall of Famer, if he does say so himself. (Pro Football Talk)

TENNIS

Novak Djokovic says if he knew he'd broken the rule, he would have called himself on it. But he didn't, so he didn't . . . and he went on to beat Andy Murray in the quarterfinals of the Sony Open. (AP)