Wakeup call: The replacement refs strike again

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Wakeup call: The replacement refs strike again

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Tuesday, September 25:

BASEBALL
Life is good in Yankee Universe: They won, the Orioles split, and Andy Pettitte is back. (AP)

The Rangers now lead the A's by five games with nine to play in the A.L. West after Monday night's walkoff win. (AP)

Status quo in the A.L. Central as the White Sox (CSN Chicago) and Tigers (AP) both won. (AP)

Looks like the Cardinals are going to have the chance to defend their World Series championship after all. (AP)

Substitute "Bobby Valentine" for "Ozzie Guillen", and "any member of the Red Sox" for "Heath Bell", and you might have yourself a preview of some post-Oct. 3 interviews you could be hearing around here. (AP)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
I don't know what your plans were from 5-9 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 12, but change 'em. (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Rudy's all excited about 4-0 Notre Dame. (CSN Chicago)

COLLEGE HOCKEY
The experts are predicting another banner year at Boston College. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

HOCKEY
The Seattle Oilers? Maybe. (AP)

OLYMPICS
Talk about a gold medal performance. Kerri Walsh Jennings just discovered she was five weeks pregnant with her third child when she and teammate Misty May Treanor dominated the beach volleyball competition in London. (NBC's Off The Bench)

PRO BASKETBALL
None other than James Worthy is warning the Lakers not to be planning that championship parade just yet. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

New addition to the pro sports injury list: Puncture wound on the ankle from stepping on a spike strip in a parking garage. (AP) No, really.

PRO FOOTBALL
I'm sure you've heard all about it by now, but here are the details on the incredible finish in Seattle. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

Golden Tate doesn't know what all the fuss is about, since "I know I had the ball." (Pro Football Talk)

Give Mike McCarthy credit: He somehow held his tongue. For the most part. (Pro Football Talk)

Maybe he thought about John Fox and Jack Del Rio before stepping to the podium. (AP)

Look out, Michael Vick. Doesn't sound like Andy Reid's too happy with you. (CSN Philly)

It appears Darrius Heyward-Bey is going to be all right. (CSN Bay Area)

On a much more mundane level, so is Reggie Bush. (AP)

Still don't know about Matthew Stafford, though. (AP)

But we do about Austin Collie, and it ain't good. (AP)

The Bills may have both Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller available when they host the Patriots on Sunday. (AP)

Another postgame, another arrest for the Falcons. (AP)

Score after one round: Brandon Marshall 1, Warren Sapp 0. (Pro Football Talk)

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

PHOENIX - Major League Baseball intends to push forward with the process that could lead to possible rule changes involving the strike zone, installation of pitch clocks and limits on trips to the pitcher's mound. While baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope the ongoing process would lead to an agreement, he said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Union head Tony Clark said last weekend he did not foresee players agreeing to proposed changes for 2017. Under baseball's collective bargaining agreement, management can alter playing rules only with agreement from the union - unless it gives one year notice. With the one year of notice, management can make changes on its own.

"Unfortunately it now appears that there really won't be any meaningful change for the 2017 season due to a lack of cooperation from the MLBPA," Manfred said Tuesday during a news conference. "I've tried to be clear that our game is fundamentally sound, that it does not need to be fixed as some people have suggested, and I think last season was the kind of demonstration of the potential of our league to captivate the nation and of the game's unique place in American culture."

Yet, he also added: "I believe it's a mistake to stick our head in the sand and ignore the fact that our game has changed and continues to change."

Manfred said while he prefers an agreement, "I'm also not willing to walk away." He said he will send a letter to the union in the coming days and plans to continue dialogue with Clark and others in hopes of reaching agreement.

Clark met with Cactus League teams last week, five at a time over Thursday, Friday and Saturday, before departing Monday for Florida to visit each Grapefruit League club - and proposed rules changes were a topic.

"I have great respect for the labor relations process, and I have a pretty good track record for getting things done with the MLBPA," Manfred said. "I have to admit, however, that I am disappointed that we could not even get the MLBPA to agree to modest rule changes like limits on trips to the mound that have little effect on the competitive character of the game."

Clark saw talks differently.

"Unless your definition of `cooperation' is blanket approval, I don't agree that we've failed to cooperate with the commissioner's office on these issues," he wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this offseason we've been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened. I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don't continue, notwithstanding today's comments about implementation. As I've said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open."

Clark added "my understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2-minute limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of game warning/fine adjustments."

Manfred said he didn't want to share specifics of his priorities for alterations.

"There's a variety of changes that can be undertaken," Manfred said. "I'm committed to the idea that we have a set of proposals out there and we continue to discuss those proposals in private."

MLB has studied whether to restore the lower edge of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level - at the top of the kneecap. Management would like to install 20-second pitch clocks in an attempt to speed the pace of play - they have been used at Triple-A and Double-A for the past two seasons.

Players also have been against limiting mound meetings. The least controversial change appears to be allowing a team to call for an intentional walk without the pitcher having to throw pitches. In addition, MLB likely can alter some video review rules without the union's agreement- such as shortening the time a manager has to call for a review.

"Most of this stuff that they were talking about I don't think it would have been a major adjustment for us," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Manfred said starting runners on second base in extra innings sounds unlikely to be implemented in the majors. The change will be experimented with during the World Baseball Classic and perhaps at some short-season Class A leagues. Manfred said it was a special-purpose rule "beneficial in developmental leagues."

Manfred also said Tuesday that a renovated Wrigley Field would be a great choice to host an All-Star Game and Las Vegas could be a "viable market for us."

"I don't think that the presence of legalized gambling in Las Vegas should necessarily disqualify that market as a potential major league city," Manfred said.