Wakeup Call: Babe, Reggie . . . and Pablo?

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Wakeup Call: Babe, Reggie . . . and Pablo?

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

BASEBALL
One down, three to go for the Giants. (CSN Bay Area)

But when the details of San Francisco's 8-3 victory have long been forgotten, Pablo Sandoval's three homers will live on. (CSN Bay Area)

Of the eight players who've hit three homers in a postseason game, Sandoval's the most unlikely. And his achievement is probably the most impressive. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

Don't blame the long layoff for the Tigers' flat performance; blame Justin Verlander. (Hardball Talk)

There was a Jose Valverde sighting Wednesday night and, in Jim Leyland's words, he "wasn't terrible. He just wasn't good." In Valverde World, that's progress. (AP)

It's called AT&T Park, and the magic it sparks for the Giants makes you rethink possible. (CSN Bay Area)

All's right with the world: Hunter Pence has his bat back. And it's a pretty good deal for the fan who returned it. (CSN Bay Area)

Yeah, he benched him for the most important games of the year. Still, Joe Girardi says he expects Alex Rodriguez to be his everyday third baseman in 2013. (AP)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
What's this? They're playing games already? (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
You can get rid of Derek Dooley, Tennessee fans. But it'll cost you. (NBC's College Football Talk)

And you Ohio State fans, don't worry. Braxton Miller says he's fine. (AP)

HOCKEY
Gary Bettman sheds some more crocodile tears as he admits a full 82-game season probably isn't going to happen. (AP)

Don't worry what the rest of us think about you, Gary. They love you in Rochester. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

That being the case, Jeremy Roenick proves he's not from Rochester. (CSN Washington)

The Capitals' Jason Chimera can't figure out exactly what it is Bettman and the owners are doing. Join the crowd, Jason. (CSN Washington)

Brooklyn's becoming quite the pro sports mecca these days. (AP)

To no one's surprise, John Davidson's the new boss in Columbus. (AP)

PRO BASKETBALL
Looks like the Sixers are going to start the season without Andrew Bynum. (CSN Philly)

PRO FOOTBALL
Um, Reggie Bush? Rex Ryan wants you to say you're sorry. (AP)

Good thing Ndamukong Suh doesn't care what people think about him. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

Asante Samuel is finally going to get the chance to back up everything he's been saying about the Eagles this week when the Falcons visit Philadelphia. (CSN Philly)

Tom Brady's BFF, Richard Sherman, is running his mouth again, this time at 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. (CSN Bay Area)

It's the time of year when NFL casualties begin to mount. This week, it's Sean Lee, Scott Fujita and Jon Beason. (AP)

But there's still hope that surgery will enable Mario Williams to salvage something from what's been a lost season. (AP)

And in good -- nee, great -- news on the medical front, it looks like Browns guard Jason Pinkston has recovered from life-threatening blood clots in his lungs. (AP)

Unlike his mentor, Warren Moon, Cam Newton doesn't believe there are racist overtones to the considerable amount of criticism he's been taking recently. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

Bountygate has become a lawyers' employment service. (AP)

Me, I vote for Photoshop. (Pro Football Talk)

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

BOSTON -- Prior to this year, the Celtics hadn't been to the Eastern Conference finals since 2012. That trip served as a curtain call of sorts for the last great C's dynasty.
 
But this one, which ended with Cleveland's emphatic 135-102 Game 5 victory Thursday at TD Garden, is very different.
 
Rather than closing another chapter in the Celtics' longstanding legacy of greatness, it could serve as the beginning of a new narrative in the franchise's steady growth.
 
"For us to be in the Eastern Conference finals after the first year of this team really being together, adding additions like Al Horford and Gerald Green . . . I can go down the list of guys that we needed to learn to play with, and for us to talk about where we wanted to be and actually make it, it's a big-time accomplishment," said Avery Bradley.
 
Boston has been among the younger teams in the NBA, with the 31-year-old Green being the oldest player on the roster.
 
But what the Celtics lacked in experience, they made up for with great effort.
 
"The great thing about this is the experience," Bradley said. "We were able to go to the Eastern Conference finals, learned a lot about being in this position, and I feel like it's going to help us for next year."
 
But as we all know, the Celtics will look to strengthen themsevles this offseason, which means there's a very good chance they'll have a different look when they gather again in the fall.
 
How different is anyone's guess.
 
"It's difficult every year whenever you don't have guys back," said coach Brad Stevens. "I think you share a bond (over the course of a season)."
 
Stevens and this group have been together for eight months. Eight months of struggles, successes, frustrating defeats and euphoric victories that brought them to the conference finals, which is where their season came to an end.
 
But as disappointed as the players and coaches are inow, there's definite excitement about this franchise in the very near future.
 
Boston has the No. 1 overall pick in next month's draft, with all indications -- for now -- pointing to Washington's Markelle Fultz as their choice.
 
And their top first-round pick from a year ago, Jaylen Brown, seemed to steadily improve as the season progressed. It was one of the few times in his life where minutes weren't just handed to him, which he admits was a learning experience unlike anything he had ever had, yet he adjusted and played better as the year went along.

"I've had ups, I've had downs, I've had opportunities, I've had mistakes," said Brown. "So I've been learning and growing and improving all year and I'm going to continue growing and improving and prove people wrong, prove doubters wrong."
 
Having the season end the way it did has indeed left a bad taste in the mouths of many Celtics.
 
"I can use it as fuel," Brown said, adding: "I want to get back to the same place I'm at now."
 
Bradley, who was on the 2012 team that lost to the Miami Heat in the conference finals, knows the Celtics are going to do whatever they feel is necessary to give them the best chance at competing for a title.
 
"It's out of our control as players," Bradley said. "We had a great year together. If guys are here, if guys aren't, we all wish the best for each other.

"But I do feel this is a special group. We all gave our heart every single night, played as hard as we could. I respect all my teammates, and I really appreciated playing with all the guys I had a chance to play with this year; a special group."