Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Cubs Face Oblivion

Today's Calls: Cubs vs. Oblivion, Evan Longoria vs. CC Sabathia, South Florida vs. Utah, Big 12 vs. Big 12, Bills vs. Titans, NBA vs. Tim Donaghy, NHL vs. Relevance and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Yes, Cubs fans, it's time to panic. ↵

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↵Because by the time we meet back here on Monday, the Cubs’ magical season will almost assuredly be over. It won't be 100 years between World Series; it will be 100 years since a World Series — and counting. What a disappointing (and quick) ending. ↵

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↵Evan Longoria!!! No, seriously, do I have to say anything else? He's the lock for AL Rookie of the Year and, yesterday, in the Rays' first-ever playoff game, he showed why he wouldn't be an outrageous pick for AL MVP. (The amazing thing about the Rays’ bandwagon is there's still plenty of room to hop on, especially when they're showing games during the work day, rather than in prime time. Jump on!) ↵

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↵Soaring Phillies go up 2-0: So much for the Cy-ish CC. Yes, Sabathia was brought in to carry the Brewers into the playoffs — but wouldn't it have been nice if he had won a game or two for them while they were there? Phils can close it out this weekend. ↵

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↵MLB Hot Stove: Now that Omar Minaya is locked in through 2012, he may want to know bidding for K-Rod starts at $75 million. ↵

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↵CFB Top 25 Last Night: Down goes another unbeaten! South Florida's loss (at home!) to Pitt takes the Big East's big dog out of the BCS title-game race, and fans can remain mystified at Dave Wannstedt's ability to win the seemingly unwinnable big game. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, how to digest Utah's 31-28 dramatic win against Oregon State? It confirmed: ↵

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↵— That the Beavers are a good team (and that perhaps Penn State IS as good as their gaudy stats seem to indicate); ↵

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↵— That Utah should be ranked higher than USC (although the Utes got to play OSU at home AND needed an 11-point rally in the last 90 seconds); ↵

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↵— That the Mountain West owns the Pac-10 this season. 6-1! ↵

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↵CFB Weekend Preview: Last week's upheaval has me overcorrecting this week. I'm not saying that unbeatens Alabama, Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, Penn State and Texas Tech will ALL lose; but at least one HAS to, right? (Unless USF's chokery covers it for the entire Top 10.) ↵

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↵(Keep an especially close eye on the Big 12, which starts conference play this week. Just ask USC or Florida: Conference games are a whole other ballgame. Again, don't be surprised to see "upsets" of top teams playing on the road.) ↵

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↵NFL Week 5 Preview: ↵

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↵— The NFL's 3 remaining undefeated teams all play Sunday. Yes, the Titans and Bills are still among them. ... ↵

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↵— Game of the Week: Steelers-Jags in Sunday primetime. ... ↵

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↵— OK, so the Redskins could beat the Cowboys in Dallas — but can Washington beat the Eagles in Philly? (Brian Westbrook is day-to-day). ... ↵

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↵— Hey, Dallas: Ignore T.O. (and the 85 sideshow) and GIVE THE BALL TO FELIX. ... ↵

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↵— How bad is it for the Pats? They are only 1.5-point favorites on the road in San Francisco. ... ↵

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↵— Bye-Week Mania: I'm sure you're relieved to know that JaMarcus Russell and Lane Kiffin are "fine." ↵

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↵NFL Week 5 Picks: NYG, PHI, SD, CAR, TEN, IND, CHI, GB, DEN, DAL, BUF, NE, JAX, NO. ↵

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↵NBA Scandal Watch: Tim Donaghy was on an island. He acted alone. (At least, that's what the comprehensive NBA report concluded — if you are inclined to believe that an organization investigating itself might want to see things come out a certain way, you'll never be convinced.) ↵

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↵That said, there's a very easy way for David Stern to win back fan confidence: Put a moratorium on all gambling by any NBA ref, player, team executive or owner. Not just the illegal gambling — even legal casino gambling. It's all too much of a slippery slope, or the perception of a slippery slope. Anyone who gripes? There's the door. ↵

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↵NBA Trade Rumor: Golden State trading their mascot, Thunder, to Oklahoma City for a mascot to be named later. (Actually, it would be quite a fun marketing ploy for both teams. OKC strikes me as self-serious, however, nervous about appearing like a minor-league town. Lose the anxiety complex! You're in the NBA now!) ↵

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↵NBA BlogRoll: The Sporting Blog's own Friedman and Ziller have an interesting essay up at Gelf Magazine about the NBA's stats-vs-style disconnect. ↵

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↵Crime: Helio Castroneves accused of tax evasion. I'm naïve, but it always astounds me that the RICH people evade taxes. ↵

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↵Pop Culture: 15-year-old Cubs fan Jill Howe is having her 15 minutes of fame, totally unintentionally. It's "Foo-Koo-Doh-May", you morons. (And you live in Chicago!) ↵

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↵The Last Word: The NHL deserves better than this, than to start its regular season with everyone's attention on baseball or the NFL or college football. ↵

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↵But this isn't the NHL of years past: Revenues are up. Attendance is up. The highly-anticipated Great Outdoor Game at Wrigley Field is one of THE events of the year in sports. ↵

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↵The NHL has shown a commitment to its core fans, allowing the sport to come back from its lockout and return with casual fans — if not to widespread relevancy, than to the vicious cycle of irrelevancy. ↵

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↵And THAT's a start. ↵

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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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