Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Root AGAINST Cubs?!

Today's Calls: Cubs vs. The Field, Jim Thome vs. Ken Griffey, Lane Kiffin vs. Al Davis, Ricky Williams vs. Tony Mandarich vs. Alonzo Mourning, Mike D'Antoni vs. the Knicks and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: In this year's baseball playoffs, rooting interests are easy to come by: ↵

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↵*Want to see history? Root for the Cubs. ↵

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↵*Love a fairy tale? The Rays are your team. ↵

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↵*Team with the best regular-season record? Angels ↵

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↵*Yankees fan in withdrawal? Joe Torre's Dodgers. ↵

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↵*Want Philly fans to finally stop griping? The Phillies. ↵

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↵*Want off-field entertainment? Ozzie and the White Sox. ↵

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↵*Rooting for a repeat? You have your Red Sox. ↵

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↵I have personally been a Rays bandwagoneer since May or so; I think it is in the best interests of baseball for the worst team one season to turn around and win the World Series the next season. ↵

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↵(Is it in the best interests of baseball for the Cubs to win the World Series? I'm torn: I'd love to see it -- I certainly feel for Cubs fans -- but it will erode the last real mystique of baseball.) ↵

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↵Is there an ideal World Series matchup? Cubs-ChiSox sounds fun, but is entirely too regional. (Cubs-Red Sox? Huge ratings, but UGH, the media overkill.) ↵

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↵The fact is: As long as the Cubs are in the World Series, it doesn't matter who they are playing. It will be sports' must-see event of the year. ↵

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↵LDS predictions: ↵

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↵*Rays in 5. ↵
↵*Red Sox in 4. ↵
↵*Brewers in 4. ↵
↵*Cubs in 5. ↵

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↵Today's Tripleheader: ↵

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↵3 p.m.: Brewers at Phillies. ↵

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↵6:30 p.m.: Dodgers at Cubs. ↵

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↵10 p.m.: Red Sox at Angels. ↵

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↵Who's up for watching all 3, straight? ↵

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↵Last night's "Play-In": I'm pretty sure Jim Thome was a Hall of Fame lock, but he got his "signature" career moment last night ("Remember when Thome won the AL Central in that one-game playoff?") ↵

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↵Speaking of Hall of Famers, what a capper for Ken Griffey's career that Junior could have that huge throw from center to home plate in the fifth, saving a critical run. Love to see The Kid in the playoffs. ↵

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↵Raiders fire Lane Kiffin: As if you're surprised. The only real questions are: (1) Who would ever take the Raiders job (aside from on an interim basis, like Tom Cable), and (2) How quickly will Syracuse try to get Lane Kiffin to come to them? ↵

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↵(If I were the Orange, I would fire Greg Robinson today, elevate an assistant to coach out the rest of the season, but hire Kiffin to focus entirely on recruiting from here until February.) ↵

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↵Al Davis' purported letter of September 12 to Kiffin seems straight-forward enough: "Get over it." I have no sympathy for Kiffin; he knew what he was getting into. ↵

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↵(On the other end of the spectrum, Brian Cashman signed up for another 3 years with the Yankees, through 2011. Unless he's fired before then, which seems awfully likely.) ↵

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↵Ricky Williams admits to strong urge to smoke pot: Now, really, this is breathlessly reported news? It's like the Miami Herald is channeling The Onion. ↵

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↵Marc Bulger reinstated as Rams QB: Won't change things, except it might save Trent Green from the concussion that ultimately kills him. ↵

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↵Hey, look: Someone wants Cedric Benson! ↵

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↵Tony Mandarich used steroids? Let me echo Chris Mottram's TSB post about it: "Shocking." (Actually, what is shocking is how naive about PEDs even the best sports journalists were way back in 1989.) ↵

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↵Pats rookie QB Kevin O'Connell is already a blogosphere legend (and not because he might be starting soon). Kudos, Kevin! (Warning: Link contains material that may be offensive.)
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↵CFB Must-Read: Spencer Hall on the pollsters' absurd crush on USC. (And I'm not just saying that because he pinch-hit for me here yesterday!) ↵

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↵Heisman Watch: Despite not playing last weekend, Chase Daniel continues to lead the HeismanPundit.com straw poll, edging out Oklahoma's Sam Bradford. Daniel gets my vote, for now, just ahead of Bradford and Texas' Colt McCoy. Man, the Big 12 is fierce. ↵

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↵CBB: Like Ricky's urge to smoke pot and Mandarich's steroid use, is anyone really shocked to find out that Alonzo Mourning's college recruitment was full of NCAA-verboten inducements? Mourning was only the greatest high school post talent since Lew Alcindor. ↵

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↵And, um, it was the late-1980s in college basketball. Now, it would be shocking to find out he DIDN'T receive any iffy gifts. (By the way, note how the name "Georgetown" doesn't come up. Yeah, sure.) ↵

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↵Hey, how about a postseason national high school hoops tournament for all those sketchy factories that aren't allowed to compete for state championships? Sounds like a fun idea. ↵

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↵NBA Training Camping: As camps open, there is no more intriguing story line than Mike D'Antoni's attempt to transform the Knicks from plodding losers into telegenic losers. Now, run some more! ↵

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↵MLB Must-Read: Paul Sullivan's Dick Stocktionary. (Meanwhile, Rumors and Rants is NOT happy about Stockton's place in the series.) ↵

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↵The Last Word: "Never say never." That's what Bob Knight says about a possible return to college hoops coaching. (Unsurprising, but still: Whaaa?!?!") Read the entire Q&A he did with Mike DeCourcy here. ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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