Wakeup Call: Is there a bearded closer in the Red Sox' future?


Wakeup Call: Is there a bearded closer in the Red Sox' future?

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Tuesday, December 4.

Is there a bearded closer in our future? CSN Bay Area's Andrew Baggarly says newly minted free agent Brian Wilson, a New Hampshire native, "would love to join his boyhood-favorite Boston Red Sox."

Many in Red Sox Nation -- still spooked by the name -- will be relieved to know the A's are going hard after Stephen Drew. (CSN Bay Area)

From the How Are Our Old Friends Doing? department: The Giants are trying to retain Marco Scutaro. (CSN Bay Area)

Ditto the White Sox with Kevin Youkilis, though Youk's agent has them -- and all his other suitors -- cooling their heels. (CSN Chicago)

Ruben Amaro Jr. is wondering where all the outfielders have gone. (CSN Philly)

Well, this one -- Angel Pagan -- is heading back to San Francisco. (AP)

Hey, Ruben: Your old pal Shane Victorino is still out there. (NBC's Hardball Talk)

As someone -- Gordon Edes, perhaps? -- pointed out on Twitter yesterday, the string of formerfuture Red Sox managers in the ESPN Sunday Night booth comes to an end as John Kruk takes the chair last held by Bobby Valentine and Terry Francona. (AP)

Jim Calhoun reveals for the first time that he had surgery in May to remove a cancerous growth from his lungs, but says he's fine now. (AP)

On their other side of campus, the UConn women continue to roll. (AP)

For the first time in 61 polls, Kentucky is unranked in the AP Top 25. (AP)

The University of Utah will honor the late Rick Majerus by hanging a replica of one of his sweaters from the rafters. (AP)

Ladies and gentlemen, your Heisman finalists: Johnny Manziel, Manti Te'o and Colin Klein. (AP)

I bet the Orange Bowl folks are just thrilled that Northern Illinois is giving free tickets to all its students in the hopes of luring them to Miami for the Jan. 1 matchup against Florida State. (AP)

Whatever you do, don't ask ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit about that . . . although he's actually more irritated that the Northern Illinoises of the world are in the BCS. (CSN Chicago)

The Old Ball Coach will be at South Carolina through 2017. (AP)

It's the last time players can earn Tour cards at Q-school, and nostalgia is reigning. (AP)

Count Tom Watson among those who think golf isn't an Olympic sport. (AP)

All Steve Burton-sparked optimism to the contrary, the fate of the NHL season may hinge on the proposal the players are expected to hand to the owners on Wednesday. (CSN Washington)

Alex Ovechkin -- the latest to learn the age-old "grass is always greener" lesson -- now says he doesn't want to stay in Moscow after all, and that his "soul" is with the Capitals. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

And here LeBron James thought taking his talents to South Beach would preclude him from ever winning something like the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year award. (AP)

Nuggets coach George Karl says he's been hit hard by the death of his friend, Rick Majerus. (AP)

RGIII and the Redskins show the Giants there's going to be a race in the NFC East, after all. (CSN Washington)

And that certainly has London Fletcher excited. (CSN Washington)

Dan Snyder speaks for many. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

The Texans will enter the big time when they hit Foxboro Monday night, but they might be a little short-handed when they get here. (CSN Houston)

Act in haste, repent in leisure: Andy Reid now thinks he fired the wrong guy. (CSN Philly)

Let's hope he -- or his 2013 successor -- doesn't have the same feeling about his quarterback decision. (CSN Philly)

Speaking of quarterback decisions, Tim Tebow -- whose broken ribs caused him to miss his shot to get on the field Sunday when the Jets mercifully pulled the plug, at least for a day, on the Mark Sanchez fiasco -- says he's feeling better. Hint hint, Rex: He'd like to play this week in his hometown of Jacksonville. (Pro Football Talk)

And continuing to speak of quarterback decisions, Colin Kaepernick is still the starter in San Francisco. (AP)

Apparently, Terrell Suggs doesn't intend to let a little thing like a torn triceps muscle keep him off the field. (CSN Baltimore)

Lose one game to Charlie Batch and the sky falls. (CSN Baltimore)

Right, Ed Reed? (CSN Baltimore)

Things are pretty bad in Arizona, where Darnell Dockett took the role of Roberto Alomar Jr. to Kerry Rhodes' John Hirschbeck during the free-falling Cardinals' eighth straight loss. (Pro Football Talk)

Jake Long may have played his final game for the Dolphins. (AP)

The family of Kasandra Perkins, the woman murdered by Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher before he killed himself, is asking for prayers for the Belcher family as well as their own. (Pro Football Talk)

Bruins need to ride Khudobin's hot hand until Rask rights himself


Bruins need to ride Khudobin's hot hand until Rask rights himself

BRIGHTON -- It took until the Bruins were truly desperate, but Bruce Cassidy finally shook up a goaltending situation badly in need of a change.

The Bruins opted to ride the hot hand with backup Anton Khudobin and he backstopped the first two-game winning streak of the season, turning away 63 of 65 shots in victories at Los Angeles and San Jose. Khudobin has been incredibly strong out of the gate, posting a 5-0-2 record and, amazingly, leading the NHL with a .935 save percentage.

Meanwhile, $7 million man Tuukka Rask has donned the backup ball-cap on the bench and is being given extra time to try and pull his game together.

That’s the story of the season thus far for a Bruins team that hasn’t lost in regulation when Khudobin's in net and hasn’t been able to get on the same page with Rask.

Rask said he understood the situation while talking about it after Monday’s optional practice, and admitted even he would have gone with the red-hot Khudobin Saturday against the Sharks.

“[Khudobin] has played very good hockey in all of the games that he’s played," said Rask, who's 30th in the league in save percentage at .879. "You play a game (like the one Khudobin played against the Kings last Thursday), then I think it’s very reasonable he gets another start based on the way he played, and the way that we played. I had no issues with that. I said in San Jose that if I was the coach then I would have done the same thing.

"I think we’re going to share some playing time here. The way we talked about it before the year, we don’t want any goaltender to sit down for too long. So I think we’re both going to see some action.”

The sentiments sound like those of a good, selfless teammate with his eyes wide open about a situation that clearly hasn’t gone his way, But it also feels a little too even-keeled for someone who's essentially been benched for a couple of games, similar to the lack of strong, visceral emotion Rask has shown when he’s been held out of Bruins-Canadiens games because of his career-long struggles against Montrea. IIt amounts to a monumental shrug of the shoulders, and a breezy lament that the bounces haven’t gone his way.

Rask did admit his subpar numbers this season do reveal some level of struggle, but he certainly didn’t sound like a player consumed with his dreadful .897 save percentage or problematic 3-7-2 record.

“You can’t let it get into your head, and you need to see through the numbers a little bit," he said. "The numbers are numbers, and obviously there’s some truth to them. But they’re not telling the whole story. Even if you’re winning, you don’t want to look at your numbers and say 'I’m playing unbelievable’ when the team is playing unbelievable in front of you while you’re getting the wins and the low scores.

“Either way it goes you have to stay focused with your own thing and what you’re doing, and then just the results will follow. That’s the thing that I think you have to believe in. [The margin for error] has been like that all season, so I just go out there, do my thing and try to keep the team in it while knowing the results will follow.”

Khudobin didn’t practice on Monday after tweaking a lower-body issue in his 36-save performance against the Sharks, and Cassidy said he has yet to make a decision as to who'll play Wednesday in New Jersey.

“Clearly [Khudobin] has played well and we’re contemplating . . . we haven’t made any decisions yet, but that tells you we want to balance it right,” said Cassidy. “But, hey, he’s got the hot hand, so we’ll look into that a little bit more [ahead of Wednesday].”

The hope from this humble hockey writer is that Cassidy continues to ride the hot hand provided Khudobin's healthy and able to play. The Bruins have a grand total of 20 points on the season, and Khudobin has a whopping 12 of them. They need the kind of airtight goaltending they’re currently getting from Khudobin . . . and aren't getting right now from Rask.

And then perhaps we’ll start to see something a little more fiery in the emotion department from Rask, who should be intent on protecting his No. 1 starter’s job with the Bruins and pulling himself out of a “meh” start to the season. It begs the question as to what happened to the guy who infamously fired milk crates on the ice during an epic shootout tirade while he was still a minor-league goaltender in Providence. 

It doesn’t have to be another meltdown, but both the Bruins and Rask need him to revert back to being the dominant franchise goaltender he used to be in order for the B’s to get where they want to go this season. 


Ryan's 2 TD passes enough as Falcons hold off Seahawks 34-31


Ryan's 2 TD passes enough as Falcons hold off Seahawks 34-31

SEATTLE - Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons did enough through 3 1/2 quarters that even the best comeback attempt by Russell Wilson fell short this time.

A couple of yards short to be exact.

Ryan threw a pair of touchdown passes, Adrian Clayborn returned a fumble 10 yards for a score and the Falcons watched Blair Walsh's 52-yard field goal attempt in the final seconds fall short, holding off the Seattle Seahawks for a 34-31 win on Monday night.

Atlanta won its second straight to stay on the heels of New Orleans and Carolina in the NFC South, and handed Seattle a second consecutive home loss.

"What an absolute team win from the guys tonight," Atlanta coach Dan Quinn said. "Coming here, in this environment, with the crowd, we thought it would be two competitive, tough teams that were going to battle for it in the biggest way."

Ryan threw TDs to Mohamed Sanu and Levine Toilolo, while Tevin Coleman added a 1-yard TD run on Atlanta's opening possession.

But it was Clayborn's fumble return that helped break the game open early in the second quarter and gave Atlanta a 21-7 lead. He scooped up a loose ball after Wilson was crunched by Takk McKinley and Courtney Upshaw.

"I think we're moving in the right direction. We keep proving we can finish games and beat guys. We have to take the momentum and keep rolling with it," Clayborn said.

With Seattle down 11 points, Wilson hit Doug Baldwin on a 29-yard TD with 3 minutes left and then threw to Jimmy Graham for the two-point conversion. Seattle got the ball back and moved in range for Walsh, whose attempt was on line but landed short of the crossbar.

"That was in our range, and in hindsight I would have just driven it more," Walsh said. "I would have driven it more and not left it short. I was too accurate and didn't have enough on it."

Wilson again was the entirety of Seattle's offense, throwing for 258 yards and two touchdowns, and running for another 86 yards and a TD.

But it was an awful night for the Seahawks, filled with more injuries and questionable decisions by coach Pete Carroll. He called for a fake field goal late in the first half rather than attempting a 35-yard kick. He also made a questionable challenge in the fourth quarter that didn't go his way and left Seattle with just one timeout.

That lack of timeouts came back to haunt Seattle on the final drive when seconds ticked away and rather than running one more play, Walsh was sent out to attempt the 52-yard kick. His long for the season is 49 yards.

The conclusion only amplified Carroll's baffling decision at the end of the first half, when Seattle ran a fake field goal rather than having Walsh attempt a 35-yarder that would have pulled Seattle within 24-20. Holder Jon Ryan completed his shovel pass to Luke Willson, but Grady Jarrett read the play and tackled Willson for a 4-yard loss.

Willson said Atlanta's defense on the play was different than what Seattle had seen on film.

"It would have been a really good call if we had made it," Carroll said. "Terrific opportunity right where we wanted it and the defensive tackle made a better play."

Seattle played a game for the first time since the end of the 2010 season without Richard Sherman. His streak of 99 consecutive starts in the regular season was snapped because of a torn Achilles tendon suffered against Arizona. The Seahawks were also without safety Kam Chancellor because of a neck injury, leaving their vaunted secondary with several new faces.

"Those two are phenomenal players. ... It was a lot different," Sanu said. "They did a lot of different things but we just had to take advantage of our routes."


Ryan was more than happy to pick on a defense without Sherman and Chancellor. He was 19 of 27 passing for 195 yards and rarely faced pressure. Seattle had one sack, and the Falcons went 9 of 14 on third-down conversions.

Sanu made a great one-handed grab for a 2-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Ryan found Toilolo on a 25-yard TD in the third quarter to give Atlanta a 31-20 lead. Matt Bryant added a 19-yard field goal with 3:49 left to put the Falcons ahead by 11, and Wilson's late heroics weren't enough.

Ryan's streak of 64 straight games passing for at least 200 yards was snapped.


Seattle's injury woes continued. The Seahawks lost rookie cornerback Shaquill Griffin to a concussion on the second play of the game, forcing newly signed veteran Byron Maxwell into a more prominent role than expected.

Early in the second half, promising running back Mike Davis was lost to a groin injury after taking a screen pass 21 yards. Davis had two receptions and had carried six times for 18 yards before getting hurt. Seattle also lost starting guard Oday Aboushi in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury.

Atlanta got a scare when safety Keanu Neal was checked for a concussion in the first half. He was cleared to return.


Falcons: Host Tampa Bay on Sunday to open a three-game homestand.

Seahawks: Travel to division foe San Francisco on Sunday.