Wakeup call: Magic in Baltimore, melee in Washington

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Wakeup call: Magic in Baltimore, melee in Washington

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Friday, September 7:

BASEBALL
Attention, skeptics (and I'm at the head of that list): It's looking more and more like the Orioles are for real. (AP)

The magic is back -- in the stands as well as on the field -- at Camden Yards. (CSN Baltimore)

These Orioles are so exciting they've even got Cal Ripken interested again. (CSN Baltimore)

Mark Teixeira doesn't look like the cavalry, but he could be coming to the Yankees' rescue. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

The Cubs-National brawl from the Chicago point of view. (CSN Chicago) Boiled-down version: Stop rubbing it in.

The Cubs-National brawl from the D.C. point of view. (CSN Washington) Boiled-down version: Stop crying, Sally.

They're having a hard time in Cubs Nation trying to figure out how the Red Sox passed up Dale Sveum for Bobby Valentine. (CSN Chicago)

Jered Weaver's tendinitis will force him to miss a start tonight against Detroit. (AP)

It turns out Brandon McCarthy suffered an epidural hemorrhage, brain contusion and skull fracture when he was hit by the line drive Wednesday. (CSN Bay Area)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Attention, Billy Gillispie: It's never a good sign when your A.D. says he's "very concerned" about how you run your program. (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Wait . . . I was sure I heard Ron from Vegas tell Felger & Mazz yesterday that Pitt was a good bet against Cincinnati. (AP)

GOLF
Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods seemed to get a kick out of their mano-a-mano showdown in the first round of the BMW Championship. (golfchannel.com)

HOCKEY
At last, ultimate recognition for the Maple Leafs. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

If it's any consolation, Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr won't get paid during the lockout, either. (Pro Hockey Talk) It's not? Well, I didn't think it would be.

PRO BASKETBALL
Sister joins brother in the Hall of Fame tonight. (AP)

PRO FOOTBALL
Bountygate will rear its ugly head again today, when Judge Helen G. Berrigan issues her ruling on the NFLPA's motion to lift the suspensions of the Saints' players. (NBC's Pro Football Talk) Not that it will have any affect on this weekend, since the players -- who haven't practiced at all -- are unlikely to suit up Sunday even if they're reinstated.

Adrian Peterson says he's ready to go. (AP) We'll find out soon if the Vikings agree.

I just have a hard time getting my arms around Peyton Manning as a gang symbol. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

Whaddya know. There's at least one guy in the NFL that Tim Tebow can "rattle". (Pro Football Talk) Too bad he's on the same team.

Yes, those were gasps of worry you heard yesterday afternoon from Houston. (Pro Football Talk)

The Lambeau Leap isn't all fun and games. (Pro Football Talk)

Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl

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Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl

SAN FRANCISCO - An enraged Bryce Harper charged the mound, fired his helmet and traded punches to the head with San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland after getting hit by a fastball, setting off a wild brawl Monday during the Washington Nationals' 3-0 win over the Giants.

Drilled in the right hip by a 98 mph heater on Strickland's first pitch in the eighth inning with two outs, none on and Washington ahead 2-0, Harper didn't hesitate. The slugger pointed his bat at Strickland, yelled at him and took off.

No one got in Harper's way as he rushed the mound. His eyes were wide as he flung his helmet - it sailed way wide of Strickland, it might've slipped - and they started swinging away. The 6-foot-4 Strickland hit Harper in the face, then they broke apart for a moment before squaring off again. Harper punched Strickland in the head as the benches and bullpen emptied.

Giants teammates Michael Morse and Jeff Samardzija collided hard as they tried to get between the two fighters. Three Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the pack all the way into the dugout, while a teammate held back Harper.

Harper and Strickland were both ejected. They have some history between them - in the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland, and the All-Star outfielder glared at the reliever as he rounded the bases after the second shot in Game 4.

Drellich: After golden 2016, Red Sox remember what it's like to have things go wrong

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Drellich: After golden 2016, Red Sox remember what it's like to have things go wrong

CHICAGO — More than anything else, Monday’s 5-4 Red Sox loss was a reminder of how much the Red Sox had go right for them a year ago, and just how unrealistic it was to expect so much of it to carry over into 2017.

The Red Sox remain a very good team. But the success of last year’s 93-win team, of any 93-win team is, truly, difficult to replicate. Unlikely, even.

Baseball’s age of parity, the randomness of freak injuries, good old regression — the Sox were due for some elements to catch up to them after a season that was more or less golden in 2016.

Dustin Pedroia, who headed back to Boston on Monday for an MRI on his left wrist, was healthy enough to hit 15 home runs a year ago, his highest total since 2012. The way this year is going for him health-wise, just having him on the field and hitting close to .300 sounds like a worthwhile goal the rest of the way.

(Slides are Pedroia’s enemy, be it from an oncoming base runner, like Manny Machado, or an oncoming first baseman, like Jose Abreu.)

David Price wasn’t living David Price’s best baseball life a year ago. But you know what you can, and probably do, take for granted? He was healthy and devouring innings. He cleared more frames than anyone else in the regular season. Even when he wasn’t pitching well, he could pitch and pitch and pitch. 

Jackie Bradley Jr. had a 1.001 OPS at the end of play on May 29, 2016. His OPS after play May 29, 2017, was .670.

We know how special David Ortiz was. Let’s not go there, because it seems like no one can talk about Ortiz’s absence rationally. His exit did not suck every home run out of the Sox lineup, as many like to say is the case, but he is — of course — a big missing piece.

Not everything was perfect in 2016, lest we remember our ex-girlfriends too fondly. Carson Smith went for Tommy John surgery, for example. 

But look now: Smith still isn’t back, Tyler Thornburg is a mystery if not quiet yet an afterthought and Robbie Ross Jr. not only struggled to the point he was demoted, he’s going through elbow trouble.

Rick Porcello won the American League Cy Young, much to Kate Upton’s chagrin. Porcello will not win the Cy Young this year, if you hadn’t been paying attention, although Chris Sale might.

There’s something going well for the Sox right now: that Sale guy. The bullpen coughed up the game Monday, Matt Barnes in particular. Yet Sox relievers had the fifth best ERA of any team to start the day. 

Hey, Eduardo Rodriguez looks pretty good, doesn't he?

With some downward trends have come some positives. Craig Kimbrel's on another planet.

The Sox may still be a 90-win team. Again, they remain a very good club.

But the wins, the breaks aren’t coming as easily as they did a year ago. You should never have expected they would.