Wakeup Call: Rivera says Yankee players have A-Rod's back

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Wakeup Call: Rivera says Yankee players have A-Rod's back

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Tuesday, February 5.

BASEBALL
Yankee fans may have turned on Alex Rodriguez, but Mariano Rivera says Yankee players haven't. (AP)

While you're enjoying today's parade, Baltimoreans, Adam Jones wants you to start preparing for another one in November. (CSN Baltimore)

Oakland made the Astros an offer they couldn't refuse . . . (CSN Houston)

. . . and, as a result, Jed Lowrie is now an A. (CSN Bay Area)

Pressure's on, Donnie Baseball. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

You may know Hawk Harrelson as the cheerleader in the White Sox broadcast booth. History will know him as the only man who ever fired Tony La Russa as manager . . . and he regrets that. (CSN Chicago)

Sergio Romo's in the clear. (AP)

Next stop on the Jonathan Sanchez Reclamation Tour: Pittsburgh. (Hardball Talk)

If you haven't pitched in going on four years, can you actually retire? (AP)

The Mets are talking to Scott Boras about Michael Bourn. Or not. (Hardball Talk)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
One day after one of his brothers-in-law won the Super Bowl -- same day another one lost it -- Tom Crean's Indiana Hoosiers regained the No. 1 ranking in the AP poll. (AP)

In the women's poll, that honor still belongs to Baylor . . . (AP)

. . . though the UPS Team Performance Index continues to think UConn's the best. (AP)

The Ivy League season has barely begun, but the Princeton women are already looking ahead to the NCAAs. (AP)

Back on the men's side, No. 9 Syracuse put the clamps on No. 25 Notre Dame. (AP)

Remember that horrific fall North Carolina's P.J. Hairston took last week at Boston College? It's going to keep him out of tonight's game against Wake Forest. (AP)

Tragic news: An assistant coach on the Cal State Fullerton women's team and her fiancee were found murdered in their car outside their upscale condominium complex in Irvine, Calif., and police say they have no suspects or motive. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Guess that Auburn tattoo wasn't such a good idea after all. (AP)

Bret Bielema trots out his Brother Love Traveling Salvation Show routine for the good folks at Arkansas. (AP)

Cal agrees to pay Jeff Tedford 5.55 million to not coach the Bears. (AP)

Boise State suspends safety Lee Hightower and tight end Hayden Plinke for violating university rules. (AP)

HOCKEY
Looking forward to the Shawn ThorntonMike Rupp rematch? You'll have to wait awhile; the Rangers traded Rupp to the Wild, whom the Bruins don't play this year. (AP)

Caps' GM George McPhee shoots down the Roberto Luongo-to-Washington talk. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

So why, then, was Canucks GM Mike Gillis at the Capitals' game on Sunday? (CSN Washington)

The Sharks suffer their first regulation loss of the season. (AP)

It took a day, but Chris Kunitz finally got his fourth goal from Sunday's game. (AP)

The Red Wings will be without rookie Brendan Smith for the next 2-4 weeks, further depleting their defense corps. (AP)

PRO BASKETBALL
This is why they say "Buyer beware" when it comes to DeMarcus Cousins. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

Memo to Michael Beasley: If you plan on driving a) with a suspended license and b) without plates or registration, don't go 71 in a 45-mph zone. (AP)

The Clippers, without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, lose to the Wizards, but Washington coach Randy Wittman is shedding no tears for L.A. (AP)

The Pacers beat the Bulls for their 14th consecutive home victory. (AP)

California native, and 49ers fan, Tyson Chandler lost his bet with teammate, and Ravens fan, Carmelo Anthony. So when he spoke to the media after his third straight 20-rebound game in the Knicks' win over the Pistons, he was wearing a Baltimore Super Bowl championship hat. (AP)

Talk about a lose-lose night: The Magic drop their 10th straight -- and become the only NBA team with multiple double-digit losing streaks this year -- in Philly's 78-61 victory, but the Sixers may be without leading rebounder Thaddeus Young, who strained his left hamstring, for the next two weeks. (AP)

Happy birthday, Linsanity. (CSN Houston)

PRO FOOTBALL
Turns out the power outage came as no surprise to Superdome officials. (AP)

But Roger Goodell says he's not going to hold it against New Orleans when it comes to scheduling future Super Bowls. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

My apologies, Beyonce, for suggesting otherwise. (Pro Football Talk)

Here are the five plays that turned the Super Bowl in the Ravens' favor. (CSN Baltimore)

Say what you will about Bernard Pollard, but playing most of the season with six cracked ribs? Wow. (Pro Football Talk)

MVP Joe Flacco starts hitting the late-night talk-show circuit. (AP)

The Ravens and 'Niners didn't have quite the ratings power of Patriots-Giants or Packers-Steelers. (AP)

As soon as the 49ers finish the 2013 season -- and then move into their new Santa Clara home -- the city of San Francisco is going to blow up the 'Stick. (Yahoo! Sports)

Our only question to the Lions: What took you so long? (AP)

But not to worry, Thaddeus Young. If this guy can find work in the NFL after getting out of jail, there's hope for you yet. (AP)

R.I.P., Walt Sweeney. (AP)

SOCCER
A match-fixing scandal is exploding in Europe, where 680 contests -- including some World Cup games -- are under investigation. (NBC's Pro Soccer Talk)

FIFA says greater cooperation between law-enforcement agencies and sports' governinhg bodies will be required in order to fix the problem. (Pro Soccer 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.