Wakeup call: Smack talk in Philly about LeBron

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Wakeup call: Smack talk in Philly about LeBron

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Tuesday, October 2:

BASEBALL
It was a lost night all around for the Orioles, who ceded ground in both the division and wild-card races. (CSN Baltimore)

Could be worse, though. They could be the Rays. (AP) Or the Angels. (AP)

The headed-to-the-playoffs A's are full of "Nobody thought we'd be here!" blather. (CSN Bay Area)

The headed-home White Sox are consoling themselves with that very same thought. (CSN Chicago)

And why are the White Sox headed home? Because the Tigers won the A.L. Central. (AP)

The Nationals are kings of the N.L. East -- even though they lost to Philadelphia -- and they celebrated appropriately. (CSN Washington)

The Phillies, dethroned after a five-year reign atop the division, knew the moment was coming for a long time. . . . but it still made them mad. (CSN Philly)

Almost there, Cardinals. (AP)

More homophobia from an MLB player . . . or is it? Derek Holland says his Twitter account -- where the message appeared during the second game of the Rangers' Sunday doubleheader against the Angels -- was hacked. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

Well, it's not like they didn't expect to lose 100. (CSN Chicago) Right, Theo?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Not everything's coming up roses in Tuscaloosa. Top-rated Alabama has lost wide receiver DeAndrew White and running back Dee Hart for the season. (AP)

Um, Michigan State? Urban Meyer's tellin'. (AP)

GOLF
They're already calling it 'The Miracle of Medinah' across the pond. (AP)

Golfchannel.com grades the U.S. team for its performance last weekend. (golfchannel.com)

And does the same for the Europeans . . . though, strangely, their marks seem worse than the Americans'. (golfchannel.com)

HOCKEY
Who says Congress doesn't do anything? Two New Jersey Senators are calling for the end to the lockout. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

Coming up next: The cancellation of some regular-season games. (CSN Chicago)

No matter when they come back, Ryan Kesler will probably still be on the sidelines. (Pro Hockey Talk)

PRO BASKETBALL
Kobe Bryant thinks this is the most talented Lakers team he's ever been on. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

Maybe so, Kobe, but Ty Lawson says the Nuggets are the best of the West. (AP)

I'm old enough to remember when Billy Idol bragged to David Letterman that dealers in Greenwich Village had named their drugs after his songs, to which Letterman responded: "Your mother must be so proud." Well, LeBron James' mother now can take similar pride, thanks to a certain heroin peddler in Philadelphia. (Pro Basketball Talk)

We'll have to wait three weeks for the Andrew Bynum Era to begin. (CSN Philly)

But the Brooklyn Nets Era has started. (AP)

Utah's Enes Kanter says it's easy to lose 51 pounds. All you have to do is stop eating everything in sight. (Pro Basketball Talk)

Jeremy who? (AP)

PRO FOOTBALL
The Colts were hit hard by the news that coach Chuck Pagano has leukemia. (AP)

As was Pagano's former team, the Ravens. (CSN Baltimore)

Tony Romo was the game MVP Monday night . . . for the Bears. (AP)

Their record may be perfect, but Gary Kubiak says the Texans aren't. (CSN Houston)

Matt Cassel got the dreaded vote of confidence from Romeo Crennel. (AP)

The same-sex marriage debate -- of all things -- has made its way into the Ravens' locker room. (CSN Baltimore)

Even the pregame is dangerous in the NFL, eh, Brandon Meriweather? (CSN Washington)

The X-rays were negative, but Santonio Holmes could still be out for a while. (AP)

The Steelers are back from their bye week, and so are James Harrison and Troy Polamaulu. (AP)

Billy Cundiff's still got a job. For another seven days, anyway. (CSN Washington)

Napoli: Red Sox and his agent only had 'small talk' about reunion

Napoli: Red Sox and his agent only had 'small talk' about reunion

BOSTON -- Of course, the Rangers' Mike Napoli didn't mind the idea of replacing David Ortiz. He loved playing in Boston.

There just was never much chatter that way last offseason, when Napoli was a free agent after his Indians took the Cubs to seven games in the World Series.

"I think my agent had maybe a small talk or something [with the Red Sox], but I don't think it ever would have happened," Napoli said Tuesday afternoon as he returned to Fenway Park with Texas. "I mean, don't get me wrong, I would have loved to come back. But, I mean, it all worked out. I'm glad to be where I'm at now. Because I knew everybody here [with the Rangers]. I didn't have to start over again."

Napoli played with the Rangers in 2011 and '12, and was traded by the Sox to Texas for the last few months of the 2015 season.

He was hopeful the Sox -- his team from 2013 to midseason 2015 -- would be among the clubs to come calling last winter.

"Oh, yeah," he said.

But he wasn't optimistic it was going to happen. And it didn't.

"To be honest with you . . . Cleveland was my first priority," he said. "I just had a World Series run [with the Indians] and we didn't win it. And then Texas was there [in the bidding, along with] Minnesota."

The Rangers wound up giving Napoli, 35, a one-year deal for 8.5 million with an $11 million club option for next season or a $2.5 million buyout. He's hitting just .188 entering Tuesday, a subpar figure, but has 10 home runs.

"We started off pretty slow, but winning 10 straight will help," Napoli said of the Rangers' recent tear. "[Winning] 11 of 12, we've been playing better. I think we kind of lost track of who we are. We got some guys struggling, still trying to find themselves and kind of got away from doing it together as a team, but we got back to doing that. It's been going pretty well."

Part of the World Series championship team of four years ago, Napoli loved being in Boston in 2013, and he enjoys being back now.

"What we were able to do in 2013, obviously, it's something I'l never forget and something I cherish," Napoli said. "I love coming back here to play."

When it was noted there's been so much turmoil since Napoli left -- the talk of Tuesday was manager John Farrell's job security -- he was unsurprised.

"You got to have thick skin to play here," Napoli said. "You're expected to win a championship every single year. But that's what I loved about playing here, is that people were on you. For me, I loved it. A lot of people probably couldn't do it.

"I knew it in my heart that I went out there and I played as hard as I possibly could every single time . . . I know you're not going to be perfect and live up to everyone."

Red Sox recall Sam Travis, send Velázquez back to Pawtucket

Red Sox recall Sam Travis, send Velázquez back to Pawtucket

BOSTON -- On the list of Red Sox problems, finding a platoon partner for Mitch Moreland at first base isn't high on the list. But the others -- third base, fifth starter -- aren't solvable at the moment, so the Sox turned to one they think they can solve.

Today they recalled Sam Travis from Pawtucket, most likely to provide relief for Moreland against left-handed pitching. Travis' path to the majors was delayed by a knee injury that cost him a good chunk of the 2016 season -- otherwise, odds are good he'd have been here by now -- but he signaled his readiness by recovering from a 5-for-36 start with a sizzling .344 average in 90 at-bats since April 22 that includes six doubles and three home runs. His OPS in that span is .909.

Most importantly, Travis crushes left-handed pitching. He's hit .358 (93-for-260) against them in his professional career, and is .414 (12-for-29) against them this year. 

Hector Velázquez was sent back to the PawSox to make room for Travis, ensuring another roster move later this week. After Kyle Kendrick's failed attempt to take control of the fifth spot in the starting rotation, Velázquez was called up and given a shot in Oakland last Thursday night. He allowed six earned runs over five innings, failing the test. And thus the search for a fifth starter -- at least until David Price returns -- continues.

Price will make a rehab start in Pawtucket tomorrow and could return to Boston after that, but the Sox will need a pitcher for Saturday's game against Seattle. Even if Price is cleared to return to Boston, he won't be able to pitch Saturday on two days' rest.