Wakeup call: Labor lecture to Chicago teachers from . . . a hockey player?

878893.jpg

Wakeup call: Labor lecture to Chicago teachers from . . . a hockey player?

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Tuesday, September 11:

BASEBALL
That's 19 (wins) for Gio Gonzalez, and 15 (magic number) for the Nationals. (CSN Washington)

When no one was looking, the White Sox opened a three-game lead in the A.L. Central. (CSN Chicago)

Wonder if the Phillies are rethinking that trade-deadline fire sale? (CSN Philly)

The Yankees are probably going to have to play the rest of the regular season without Mark Teixeira. (AP)

The Astros are turning their lonely eyes to Roger Clemens. (AP)

Nice to see Jose Canseco's so contrite about his illegal steroids use. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

A disturbing charge from the Reds' Brandon Phillips. (Hardball Talk)

But in better news: Brandon McCarthy stood and walked for the first time since sustaining a skull fracture when he was hit in the head by a line drive. (CSN Bay Area)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
And because things weren't going bad enough at UConn . . . (AP)

You can understand why Billy Gillispie's sick, can't you? (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
"Enough is enough" for Utah QB Jordan Wynn, who's giving up football after his latest injury. (AP)

Boy, Wisconsin's a tough town. (AP)

HOCKEY
Oh, goody: The NHL labor war is about to get dragged into court. (AP)

The players have been preparing for this rainy day, says Donald Fehr. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

What's this? Optimism? Tell me more, Steve Ott! (AP)

PRO FOOTBALL
The Monday Night Football intro -- a Hank Williams Jr.-free zone after 'ol Hank compared President Obama to Hitler last year -- is now completely without music. (NBC's Off The Bench)

So it was pretty quiet -- on ESPN, at least -- before the Ravens routed the Bengals. (CSN Baltimore)

And before the Chargers beat the Raiders. (CSN Bay Area)

The Jets can't be looking forward to playing the Steelers without Darrelle Revis, but they may have to. (AP)

The Browns, meanwhile will be without their best cornerback, Joe Haden, for four games . . . and it has nothing to do with injury. (AP)

But Atlanta's loss of one of its best corners, Brent Grimes, has everything to do with injury. (AP)

Don't let that 5.1 rating against the Eagles fool you. Brandon Weeden says he "wasn't overwhelmed" in his debut as Cleveland's No. 1 quarterback. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

The replacement refs did just fine on Sunday. (Pro Football Talk)

More or less, that is. (Pro Football Talk)

Good thing, too, because the NFL is ready to play at least five weeks with the replacements. (AP)

AND FINALLY . . .
Regarding the Chicago teachers' strike: The Bulls' Derrick Rose hopes for a resolution for the sake of the students (CSN Chicago) . . .

. . . but former Blackhawks defenseman Brent Sopel says the teachers bring in nothing of monetary value to the city (unlike hockey players, who he says generate "jobs and revenue" to justify the debt-ridden, taxpayer-funded arenas they play in) and should be happy they have jobs. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk) And, no, no need to mention the irony of a hockey player -- in a sport about to endure its own work stoppage -- lecturing someone else about labor woes.

Sox may have finally found their everyday third baseman for the postseason

boston-red-sox-brock-holt-infield.jpg

Sox may have finally found their everyday third baseman for the postseason

BOSTON — As has been well-documented, the Red Sox have tried any number of solutions at third base this season, with eight different players getting starts at the position.

Travis Shaw has the most starts of anyone, with 99. But with three games left in the season, it's become apparent that Brock Holt is being viewed as the likely starter in the post-season.

Holt started all three games in the recent series in New York and was the starter Friday night against Toronto, too.

"You look at the consistent quality to the at-bats," said John Farrell, "and they've been there for him. That's not to say the other guys aren't important to us. But this is the time of year where you're looking to put the best, current lineup on the field and his versatility has shown up a number of ways. He's a confident defender at third base and his skill set is a little bit different from the other guys.

"So against righthanded pitching, that could be the guy we're going with."

Holt came into Friday hitting .319 (22-for-69) in the last 24 games.

Shaw, meanwhile, has been streaky to a fault. In the second half of the season, Shaw has posted a slash line of .195/.260/.362.

"We've seen (the streakiness both ways) in short spurts," Farrell said. "He does have the ability to carry us. But we're trying to get there and we're at a point in the year where every game is meaningful. That's not to say you turn your back on what he did earlier in the season. But we're looking for sparks somewhere."

What's more, Farrell had Holt hitting second in the lineup, in an effort to produce more offense. The Sox were limited to just eight runs in the three-game series at Yankee Stadium, and over the last 11 games, scored more than five runs just once.

Holt hit second, with Xander Bogaerts dropped to sixth.

"This is to create a little bit of a spark for us offensively," explained Farrell. "We've been grinding a little bit. And also, (we want) to create a little more (left-right) balance up and down the lineup."

TIME TO PLAY

As the final few regular season games of his career wind down, David Ortiz acknowledged that it's becoming increasing difficult to focus on the games with all the tributes and ceremonies going on.

In the final 11 days of the season, Ortiz will have had five pre-game ceremonies held in his honor -- and it would have been six had not Ortiz asked the Tampa Bay Rays to cancel the ceremony they had planned in the aftermath of the death that morning of pitcher Jose Fernandez.

On Thursday night, Ortiz has his family on the field for a pre-game celebration hosted by the New York Yankees.

Minutes later, he had to step in to the batter's box against CC Sabathia. Sometimes, it's hard to flip that switch and be emotionally ready to compete.

"I'm not going to lie to you -- it has (gotten harder)," said Ortiz. "We're already in the playoffs, so for the next three days, I don't really have to worry about it. But the best thing about it is that once we get into the playoffs, there's not going to be all these distractions.

"I like to mentally focus when we play, especially when I'm playing for a reason. We work extremely hard during the regular season to get into the playoffs and once we get there, I don't want to blow that off. It's not easy to (do all the ceremonies) and play baseball at the same time. It can be a distraction."

Friday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays lineups: Porcello goes for win No. 23

ortiz-fenway-grass.jpg

Friday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays lineups: Porcello goes for win No. 23

The A.L. East-champion Red Sox, still fighting for playoff position, field their usual lineup as they open David Ortiz's final regular-season series tonight (7:10) against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox (92-67) are two games behind the Texas Rangers (94-65) in the race for the best record in the A.L., with the Cleveland Indians (91-67) a half-game behind Boston.

Rick Porcello (22-4, 3.11 ERA), the likely Game 1 starter in the ALDS, will try to add to his Cy Young Award resume tonight. He’ll be opposed by right-hander Marco Estrada (9-9, 3.53).

The Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles (both 87-72) are tied for the A.L. wild-card lead with the Detroit Tigers (85-73) 1 1/2 games back.

It’s the final regular season series for Oritz, with ceremonies planned to honor the retiring Red Sox DH prior to each of the final three game this weekend. 

The lineups:

RED SOX

Dustin Pedroia 2B

Brock Holt 3B

Mookie Betts RF

David Ortiz DH

Hanely Ramirez 1B

Xander Bogaerts SS

Jackie Bradley CF

Sandy Leon C

Andrew Benintendi LF

Rick Porcello P

 

BLUE JAYS

Eziquiel Carrera LF

Josh Donaldson 3B

Edwin Encarnacion DH

Jose Bautista RF

Russell Martin C

Troy Tulowitzki SS

Justin Smoak 1B

Kevin Pillar CF

Devon Travis 2B

Marco Estrada RHP