Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Should Rays Panic?

Today's Calls: Rays vs. Comebacks, BYU vs. BCS, Texas vs. Mizzou, Roy Williams vs. Tony Romo, Troy Polamalu vs. Roger Goodell, College Hoops vs. Midnight and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: I'm sick to my stomach. ↵

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↵The Rays' commanding, confident 3-1 ALCS lead suddenly feels tenuous at 3-2, heading into Games 6 and 7 in Tampa. ↵

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↵Sure, the Rays still hold a significant advantage (only having to win 1 of 2 at home), but ... I'm sorry: I'm nervous as hell right now. ↵

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↵Last night is exactly the kind of excessively unlikely result that can flip the entire mojo of a series. ↵

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↵The Red Sox were dead, finished: Down 7-0 with 2 outs in the 7th. Then came The Rally, the biggest single-game MLB playoff comeback since the start of the last Great Depression. ↵

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↵And now any Rays fan -- or Red Sox hater -- has to be depressed. ↵

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↵Game 6 starter Josh Beckett has struggled, but he's still Josh Beckett. Haven't the Red Sox won 8 straight when facing elimination? Will the Rays' postseason inexperience put a chokehold on their chances? ↵

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↵The Boston-hater in me insists that James Shields pitching at The Trop for Game 6 is the Rays' ace-in-the-hole, but I learned back in 2004 not to count the Red Sox out until you have popped your Champagne. ↵

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↵I guess even Cinderella can have self-doubt. ↵

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↵BYU gets BCS-busted: So much for BYU crashing the BCS. The Cougars were obliterated at TCU, leaving unbeaten Utah as the leading BCS-buster -- though BYU can now play the spoiler by beating Utah in their season finale. Wow, what a dud BYU turned out to be. ↵

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↵CFB Weekend Preview: It's the final weekend before the first BCS ranking comes out. Texas headlines for the second straight Saturday, this time against suddenly vulnerable Mizzou. A Longhorns win should secure them a place in the BCS Top 2. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, 1-loss BCS contenders like Oklahoma (playing Kansas) and Georgia (playing Vandy) have the opportunity to boost BCS schedule-strength ratings with wins. ↵

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↵NFL Weekend Preview: Are you ready for some "pansy game!" Heading into Sunday, what's the more dramatic digit: Troy Polamalu giving the NFL the finger or Tony Romo's pinkie? ↵

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↵Meanwhile, who else is intrigued to see what Roy Williams can do in his debut with Dallas? (And are the '08 'Boys better than the '07 Pats?!) ... All eyes on the NFL's last unbeaten team (the Titans?!?!) ... Suspension Watch: Larry Johnson, out of this week's game. ↵

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↵NFL Week 7 Picks: SD, CHI, PIT, TEN, DAL, MIA, NYG, CAR, HOU, NYJ, GB, WSH, TB, DEN. (See the SN Expert picks here.) ↵

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↵CBB: Midnight Madness! This unofficial holiday has lost something over the years, but it still signals the official opening of the new college hoops season. ↵

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↵In short: UNC is loaded, BUT burdened by recent March history. Defending champ Kansas returns ... no one. And perhaps the biggest intrigue is at the other end: How bad will Indiana be? ↵

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↵NBA: "Don't ask me nothing silly," Kobe said, just as reporters asked him about the mythical $80 million offer from Greece (which, let's just reiterate, Kobe would be utterly insane to turn down). ↵

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↵NBA Preseason: Will the Cavs be able to keep up in the improving East? Despite trading for Mo Williams, they are winless in the preseason. Not that that means much, but it means something. ↵

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↵MLB Offseason: The two biggest names? Among hitters, it's Manny (destination: unknown). Among pitchers, it's Jake Peavy, on the block and almost certain to start the '09 season with another team in the NL. He's expensive and injury-iffy -- but what price for an ace? (Here's Paul DePodesta on the decision to trade him.) ↵

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↵Business: I just can't get fired up about Super Bowl tickets reaching $1,000. Since when were they ever accessible to fans? ↵

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↵The Last Word: Is anyone really surprised that MLB teams colluded to keep Barry Bonds out of the game? ↵ ↵

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↵(The joke's on the owners: Seems like there are several early-exit playoff teams -- or non-playoff teams -- that could have used him.) ↵

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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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