Wakeup Call: Clemens calls Hall of Fame snub 'hurtful'

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Wakeup Call: Clemens calls Hall of Fame snub 'hurtful'

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Tuesday, January 15:

BASEBALL
Roger Clemens calls his Hall of Fame snub "hurtful", but adds: "It's not gonna change my life, either way." (CSN Houston)

If the Red Sox actually want to sign Javier Vazquez, looks like they're going to have some competition from the Nationals. (CSN Washington)

The market for Rafael Soriano is heating up at last, if you consider the Dodgers saying, "Yeah, well, there's a one-in-five shot we'll sign him" to be heat. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

Like baseball? Fluent in foreign languages? Look good in uniform? There could be a job for you as interpreter for managers and pitching coaches during visits to the mound. (AP)

The A's give Bob Melvin a two-year extension. (AP)

Sad news: Ex-MLB shortstop Enzo Hernandez dies of an apparent suicide in Venezuela at age 63. (AP)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Looks like Louisville deserves that No. 1 ranking, doesn't it? (AP)

Kansas is putting a happy face on Ben McLemore's ankle injury. (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

Syracuse will be playing for a while without sixth man James Southerland, though Jim Boeheim's pretty vague about why. (AP)

Why would USC fire its coach two weeks into January? Funny you should ask . . . (College Basketball Talk)

Those bar fights will get you suspended just about every time. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
In today's installment of Declaring For the NFL Draft, we have Notre Dame's Cierre Wood. (CSN Chicago)

Nebraska linebacker Sean Fisher is giving up football for med school. (AP)

Quarterback Casey Pachall has completed substance-abuse rehabilitation and returned to TCU. (AP)

Texas reinstates quarterback Case McCoy and linebacker Jordan Hicks after police announce they will not pursue sexual-assault allegations against the two. (AP)

CYCLING
Lance Armstrong's going all in on this confession thing: According to reports, he may testify against cycling officials who knew about, and perhaps facilitated, his doping. (nbcsports.com)

GOLF
Mama, grow up your babies to be golfers: Rory McIlroy just signed a deal with Nike that may pay him 20 million a year. (AP)

On tap this week: A McIlroy-Tiger Woods showdown in Abu Dhabi. (AP)

HOCKEY
Tomas Vokoun is getting ready for life as a backup with the Penguins . . . though, because of the compressed schedule, he may play a lot more than he first thought. (AP)

So much for the dream line of Marian Gaborik, Rick Nash and Brad Richards. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

The Red Wings are about to stitch the 'C' on Henrik Zetterberg's jersey. (AP)

No fan backlash against the work stoppage in Buffalo, that's for sure. (AP)

The Kings' Anze Kopitar is recovering nicely, thank you, from the knee injury he suffered while playing in Sweden. (AP)

PRO BASKETBALL
Attention, 'Melo: Big brother is watching. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

What's this? Andrew Bynum? On the court? (CSN Philly)

Tom Thibodeau's reputation as a defensive genius probably got him his job with the Bulls. Last night, we got a glimpse of why he earned that rep. (CSN Chicago)

Say goodbye to Manu Ginobili for about 10 to 14 days. (AP)

Looks like Pau Gasol will miss his fifth straight game tonight because of that concussion. (AP)

PRO FOOTBALL
John Fox stands by his decision to have Peyton Manning take a knee at the end of regulation Saturday -- a call that's drawn plenty of fire in Denver after a) the Broncos wound up losing and b) the Falcons pulled out a victory in almost the same set of circumstances the next day -- and team president John Elway agrees. (AP)

Looking for a quarterback? Have the Seahawks got a deal for you! (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

The Texans might -- might -- be one of those teams, but not if the players have anything to say about it: They've got Matt Schaub's back. (CSN Houston)

Be worried, NFL, be very worried: J.J. Watt says he can get better. (CSN Houston)

Newest name in the Eagles' coaching hunt: Ken Whisenhunt. (AP)

And then there were eight . . . teams without a corporate sponsor tacked onto their stadium name, that is. (Pro Football Talk)

Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt says he's been cooperating with Jersey City police over their investigation into a shooting and a stabbing that occurred at a party Britt attended, but the police respond no, he hasn't . . . and that they're discussing their next steps with the prosecutor. (AP)

An autopsy reveals that Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher had a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit when he shot his girlfriend nine times and killed her, and then committed suicide. (AP)

TENNIS
Brad Dewitt, executive chairman and president of the ATP World Tour, has been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease at age 54 and will step down once a successor is found. (AP)

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

NEW YORK - There won't be any wild pitches on intentional walks this season.

The players' association has agreed to Major League Baseball's proposal to have intentional walks without pitches this year.

"It doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I know they're trying to cut out some of the fat. I'm OK with that," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

While the union has resisted many of MLB's proposed innovations, such as raising the bottom of the strike zone, installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the mound, players are willing to accept the intentional walk change.

"As part of a broader discussion with other moving pieces, the answer is yes," union head Tony Clark wrote Wednesday in an email to The Associated Press. "There are details, as part of that discussion, that are still being worked through, however."

The union's decision was first reported by ESPN .

"I'm OK with it. You signal. I don't think that's a big deal," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "For the most part, it's not changing the strategy, it's just kind of speeding things up. I'm good with it."

There were 932 intentional walks last year, including 600 in the National League, where batters are walked to bring the pitcher's slot to the plate.

"You don't want to get your pitcher out of a rhythm, and when you do the intentional walk, I think you can take a pitcher out of his rhythm," Girardi said. "I've often wondered why you don't bring in your shortstop and the pitcher stand at short. Let the shortstop walk him. They're used to playing catch more like that than a pitcher is."

Agreement with the union is required for playing rules changes unless MLB gives one year advance notice, in which case it can unilaterally make alterations. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope Tuesday that ongoing talks would lead to an agreement on other changes but also said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Some changes with video review can be made unilaterally, such as shortening the time to make a challenge.

"I know they were thinking about putting in a 30-second (limit) for managers to make a decision," Francona said. "I actually wish they would. I think it would hustle it up and if we can't tell in 30 seconds, maybe we shouldn't be doing it anyway."

Bean: There's no way to spin a potential Ortiz return as a bad idea

Bean: There's no way to spin a potential Ortiz return as a bad idea

As if there weren’t enough storylines with the 2017 Red Sox, there figures to be the lingering possibility that, at any point, one of the franchise’s greatest hitters will return to make a push for his fourth World Series title.

As Pedro Martinez keeps saying, he won’t believe David Ortiz is retired until season’s end.

And with that possibility comes a good ol’ fashioned sports debate: You’re maybe the biggest lunatic in the whole wide world if you’re hoping for the latter.

There are exactly two potential downsides to Ortiz coming back. One is that the team would be worse defensively if it puts Hanley Ramirez in the field, a tradeoff that seemingly anyone would take if it meant adding Ortiz’ offense to the middle of the order. The other is that we would probably have to see Kenan Thompson’s Ortiz impression again . . . which, come to think of it, would be the worst. Actually, I might kill myself if that happens.  

All the other drawbacks are varying degrees of noise. It basically boils down to the “what if he isn’t good?” fear. Which may be valid, but it shouldn’t be reason enough to not want him to attempt a comeback.

Ortiz is coming off a 38-homer, 127-RBI 2016 in which he hit .315 with a league-best 1.021 OPS. It's probably the best final season of any hitter over the last 50 years.

We also know Ortiz is 41 and dealt with ankle and heel injuries so vast in recent years that he was “playing on stumps,” according to Red Sox coordinator of sports medicine services Dan Dyrek. There is the possibility that he was almost literally on his last legs in 2016 and that he doesn’t have another great season in him.

Unless Ortiz is medically incapable and/or not interested in returning, what would the harm be in rolling the dice? Is it a money thing? It really depends on just how intent the Sox are on staying under the luxury-tax threshold, but it’s hard to imagine that holding them up given that they’ve bobbed over and under the line throughout the years.

The one unacceptable argument is the legacy stuff, which expresses concern that Ortiz would tarnish his overall body of work if he came back for one last season and was relatively ineffective.  

If you think that five years after Ortiz is done playing, a single person will say, “Yeah, he’s a Hall of Famer; it’s just a shame he came back that for one last season,” you’re absolutely crazy. The fact that one could dwell that much on a legacy shows how much they romanticize the player, meaning that in however many years it's the 40-homer seasons, and not the potentially underwhelming few months in 2017, that will stand the test of time.

But he’ll have thrown away having one of the best final seasons ever for a hitter.

Oh man. That’s a life-ruiner right there. A 10-time All-Star and three-time World Series champion totally becomes just another guy if you take that away.

Plus, the fact that he’s a DH limits how bad it could really be. You won’t get the sight of an over-the-hill Willie Mays misplaying fly balls in the 1973 World Series after hitting .211 in the regular season. Ortiz will either be able to hit or he won’t, and if it’s the latter they’ll chalk it up to age and injuries and sit him down. Any potential decision to put him on the field in a World Series would likely mean his bat was worth it enough to get them to that point.

The Red Sox, on paper at least, have a real shot at another title. Teams in such a position should always go for broke. Ortiz has absolutely nothing left to prove, but if he thinks he has anything left to give, nobody but the fans who dropped 30-something bucks on T-shirts commemorating his retirement should have a problem with that.