Wakeup Call: Honoring two sets of victims

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Wakeup Call: Honoring two sets of victims

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Thursday, December 27:

BASEBALL
Jerry Reinsdorf gets gushy -- or as gushy as he ever gets -- as he says goodbye to A.J. Pierzynski. (CSN Chicago)

There was a time when the Yankees, in need of outfield help, signed the Reggie Jacksons and Dave Winfields. Now they're signing the Matt Diazes. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

Jason Grilli will replace Joel Hanrahan as the Pirates' closer. (Hardball Talk)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
A heart condition forces Creighton senior backup guard Josh Jones to retire. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Virginia Tech -- which experienced a mass shooting in 2007 -- will honorboth the Sandy Hook victims and its own with special decals on its helmets during the Russell Athletic Bowl on Friday. (AP)

Underdogs usually go all humble ("It's an honor to be on the same field with insert opponent here and we're certainly going to try our darndest") or all Rodney Harrison ("NOBODY thought we could do it!!"). As it prepares for the BCS championship game against Alabama, Notre Dame is choosing the former. (CSN Chicago)

We have a new Little Caesars Pizza Bowl champion, and it's Central Michigan. (AP)

HOCKEY
So are we, Lou. So are we. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

In the meantime, the game of chicken continues. (Pro Hockey Talk)

Sounds like the Coyotes are actually hoping the season gets canceled. (Pro Hockey Talk)

A skate to the neck is "nothing serious"? Jiri Hudler must be wondering what his Czech team considers "serious". (Pro Hockey Talk)

PRO BASKETBALL
Quite the holiday season for the Bobcats: They haven't won a game since two days after Thanksgiving, with last night's loss to the Heat making it 14 in a row. (AP)

It could be worse. They could be the Wizards. (CSN Washington)

The Hornets' long nightmare, however, is over. (AP)

After that arduous climb back to .500, the Lakers slip back down the slope. (AP)

Hack-A-Dwight takes on a whole new meaning. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

The Knicks ditch those ghastly orange-on-orange monstrosities they wore Christmas Day and get back to their winning ways. (AP)

A taste of summer: Weather postpones the Bulls and Pacers. (CSN Chicago)

It sounds kind of ominous -- Rudy Gay missing the Grizzlies' game against the Sixers for "personal reasons" (Pro Basketball Talk) -- but the Memphis Commercial Appeal subsequently reported that Gay was unable to fly in because of weather problems across the country. I guess that's personal . . .

PRO FOOTBALL
Tim Tebow insists he never told Rex Ryan he would refuse to play in the wildcat formation last week, and is offended that anyone would think he's a diva or a quitter. But he says he can see how Ryan could have concluded that after a conversation they had a week ago. Then, after watching Jeremy Kerley run the wildcat for two days in practice, he went and told Ryan he'd do anything he was asked. Then Ryan didn't use him anyway. Man, this TebowJets thing just couldn't have gone more smoothly, could it? (AP)

The old Colts -- the Bill PolianTony DungyPeyton Manning Colts -- are one of the main reasons most fantasy leagues end in Week 16; they would consistently sit out most of their regulars as the season wound down. But these are the new Colts, and they're playing to win Sunday . . . much to the delight of the Patriots, who need their opponent, the Texans, to lose. (AP)

As are the Ravens, though, theoretically, they still have something to play for: They could get the No. 3 seed if they win and the Patriots lose. (CSN Baltimore)

Michael Vick says he's not looking at Sunday's start against the Giants as an audition for the other 31 NFL teams . . . though that's what it is. (CSN Philly)

Nor is Andy Reid looking at Sunday's game against the Giants as the final afternoon of his Eagles coaching career . . . though that's what it (probably) is. (CSN Philly)

Or maybe not. (CSN Philly)

Old friend Brian Hoyer is going to make his first NFL start Sunday. (AP)

Here are some of the more blatant Pro Bowl snubs. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

Tom Brady's BFF, Richard Sherman, was one of them, but he's got bigger fish to fry than worrying about missing a trip to Hawaii: He's planning to sue the NFL if he gets suspended for PED use. (Pro Football Talk)

Ben Roethlisberger says the Steelers' failures this season are on him. (AP)

The Cowboys' Josh Brent has been formally indicted on one count of intoxication manslaughter in the death of teammate Jerry Brown. (AP)

Grousbeck: Celtics want Thomas longterm, but would draft a point guard

Grousbeck: Celtics want Thomas longterm, but would draft a point guard

The Celtics didn’t know when they traded a late first-round pick and Marcus Thornton for Isaiah Thomas that they were getting their next star player, but that 2015 trade deadline move has proven to be a pleasant surprise. 

Appearing on Felger and Mazz Friday, Celtics CEO and co-owner Wyc Grousbeck said that he sees Thomas, who will be a free agent after next season, in the team’s longterm plans. 

“Every one of these seasons is different. It’s like a movie and you have a cast of characters and the cast changes a little bit every season,” Grousbeck said. “We’d love to have Isaiah here for a long, long time. He’s a phenomenal player and he loves being here.” 

The Celtics stand a strong chance of picking first overall in June’s draft since they own Brooklyn’s first-round pick. Asked whether Thomas’ status would prevent the team from taking a point guard (which the draft’s two prospects play), Grousbeck said the team doesn’t need to decide that now, but suggested it wouldn’t.

“Especially if it’s a very high pick in the draft, you’ve got to draft the best player,” Grousbeck said. “You probably wouldn’t draft for fit as much as just you see if there’s a transformational player that you can have for 10 or 15 years there. If you see a guy like that, you’ve got to make everything else work, I would think.” 

It's official: Patriots nab third-round compensatory pick in Collins trade

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It's official: Patriots nab third-round compensatory pick in Collins trade

The Patriots received a conditional fourth-round pick in 2018 from the Browns in return for Jamie Collins. That's how the trade was described on the league's transaction wire. 

The "condition" of that fourth-rounder? Well, if the Browns received a third-round compensatory pick in 2017, the Patriots would nab that pick instead. 

On Friday, the NFL announced that the Browns had in fact been awarded a third-round compensatory pick, which meant that almost three full weeks after Super Bowl LI, everything was still coming up Patriots.

In actuality, the odds were pretty good all along that the Patriots would get what they got

Cleveland lost Pro Bowl center Alex Mack in free agency last offseason when he opted to sign with the Falcons. Because compensatory picks are based on free agents lost and free agents acquired, and because the Browns did not sign any similarly-impactful free agents, there was a good chance Mack's departure would render a third-round comp pick that would be shipped to New England.

Had Mack suffered a significant injury that forced his play to drop off or limited his time on the field, a third-rounder may have been out of the question, but he played well (named a Pro Bowler and a Second Team All-Pro) and stayed healthy -- lucky for the Patriots -- missing just 17 total snaps in the regular season. 

The Browns comp pick that will be sent to New England is No. 103 overall. The Patriots were also awarded a fifth-round comp pick, No. 185 overall. That was a result of the league weighing the departures of Akiem Hicks and Tavon Wilson against the arrival of Shea McClellin.

The Patriots now have nine selections in this year's draft: One first-rounder; one second-rounder; two third-rounders; one fourth-rounder*; two fifth-rounders; two seventh-rounders.

The third-round compensatory pick acquired by the Patriots carries additional value this year in that it is the first year in which compensatory picks can be traded. A near top-100 overall selection may allow the Patriots to move up the draft board or build assets in the middle rounds should they be inclined to deal. And we know they oftentimes are. 

* The Patriots forfeited their highest fourth-round selection in this year's draft as part of their Deflategate punishment. They acquired a fourth-round pick from the Seahawks last year. Because that would have been the higher of their two selections, that's the one they'll lose. They will make their own fourth-round pick at No. 137 overall.