Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Hmm, Why CAN Us?

Today's Calls: Cole Hamels vs. Brad Lidge, Chase Utley vs. Jason Bartlett, Tony Romo vs. Colt McCoy, Magic vs. Celtics, UConn vs. Syracuse and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: "Why Can't Us?" indeed. ↵

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↵Maybe the Phillies fans' new rallying cry should be "Why CAN Us?" We saw three big reasons last night in the Game 1 win: ↵

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↵— Cole Hamels is the new Josh Beckett. He has been dominant (and unbeaten) throughout the Phillies’ postseason run. ↵

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↵— Brad Lidge is as lights-out of a closer as exists in baseball this season. His 9th: Pena-Longoria-Crawford? K-K-Foul pop. Done. ↵

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↵— Chase Utley provided the tone-setting (and cowbell-muting) HR in his first World Series at-bat. ↵

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↵(Jimmy Rollins was the '07 NL MVP; Ryan Howard is a fringe MVP candidate in '08. But Utley is the lineup's real MVP.) ↵

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↵All that said, is it time for Rays fans to panic? Hardly. ↵

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↵Remember: The Red Sox took Game 1 of the ALCS at the Trop, shutting out the Rays. Over the next three games, the Rays scored 31 runs, all wins. (Now, if the Rays lose Game 2 tonight, behind their ace James Shields? OK: THEN it might be time to panic.) ↵

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↵Brett Favre Scandal, Cont'd: Favre full of it. Favre denies giving the Lions help, but that's not the point. The point is that when the story first came out, Favre called it "total B.S." ↵

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↵In fact, it is Favre who is full of B.S. He admitted he did, in fact, talk with the Lions, part of said story that Favre labeled "total B.S." Apparently, not so “total.” Favre's flexibility with the truth makes it harder to believe his denial that he didn't talk strategy. ↵

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↵I cannot believe Favre has any credibility anymore. I cannot believe the mainstream media kowtows to him anymore. And I cannot believe there are any Packers fans who buy into his myth anymore. ↵

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↵NFL: The week-to-week Tony Romo watch will get a break. He is out until mid-November; by that point, I wonder if the Cowboys will be staring at the NFC playoff race from behind. ↵

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↵Is Mike Holmgren headed for the 49ers? The Seahawks fans would likely be pretty happy to see him go, even if he was staying in the division. Hey, it might even set the 49ers back enough that even declining Seattle can stay ahead of them. ↵

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↵CFB: Colt McCoy not turning pro early. Perhaps the most amazing thing about this No. 1 Texas team — gearing up for its third straight national Game of the Week against unbeaten Oklahoma State — is that they will only get better. ↵

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↵If you asked the UT die-hards, most would tell you they expected this season's team to be fine, but that next year's team would be the juggernaut. If UT is good enough to be No. 1 now, what will they look like in '09? ↵

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↵(The one hope for the rest of us was that McCoy would turn pro a year early, coming off a BCS and/or Heisman year — the old "what more can you prove?" Nope: He wants to come back for his senior year.) ↵

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↵NBA Preseason: Kobe's knee will be fine. You (Lakers fans, NBA execs, media, sponsors) can now breathe easier. ↵

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↵Regular season starts next week: Looking for a team with the talent and just enough naivete to not know they aren't supposed to challenge the Celtics in the East? How about the Magic? ↵

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↵Dwight Howard established himself as the most dominant post player in the league; Rashard Lewis is a near-perfect complement and offseason import Mickael Pietrus is a marquee defensive stopper. Orlando's preseason just ended, and they went 6-1. I'm not one to put much stock in preseason records, but the Magic are ready for a Leap. ↵

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↵MLB Awards Season: Albert Pujols was the best player in baseball this season, period. No one should be making any other argument. ↵

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↵It was fun to talk about Manny Ramirez (who I'd put at No. 2). It was fun to watch the progress of rookie Evan Longoria. "Most Valuable" is really fun (and sometimes aggravating) debate-fodder; by comparison, "Best" is blissfully clear-cut. ↵

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↵In Pujols (who enjoyed perhaps his finest season yet in a career full of them), we are watching one of the Top 20 players of all time. Enjoy. ↵

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↵MLB Hot Stove: Is Willie Randolph going to be the next manager of the Brewers? Not only do they need a manager, they need a new head of scouting. Their old one, Jack Zduriencik, left to be the Mariners’ GM. ↵

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↵CBB: UConn picked to win Big East. Notre Dame's Luke Harangody, the league's reigning POY, was the obvious (and unanimous) choice for preseason POY. I see Syracuse is picked to finish 8th; am I the only one bullish on the Orange? Or is the league just that deep? ↵

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↵David Beckham to play in Italy? This is actually good news for MLS; anytime one of their players — even if it is their marquee star — takes a holiday to play in Europe, it lends MLS more credibility. ↵

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↵Name to Know: Arien O'Connell. If you haven't heard the wild story about the amateur marathoner who crushed the elites in San Francisco last weekend, here is everything you would want to know. (Sigh: Do we now have to talk about "real" runners vs. "elites?") ↵

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↵The Last Word: Enjoy a free taco? You can thank Jason Bartlett. ↵

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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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