Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Phils Make History

Today's Calls: Phillies vs. History, '08 Rays vs. '91 Braves, Knicks vs. Heat, OK City vs. Seattle, Chris Paul vs. Ron Artest, Al Jefferson vs. Kevin Love, UNC vs. Everyone, Marion Jones vs. Oprah and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Well, that was about as surreal as we probably could have expected. ↵

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↵The relievers who started. The pinch-hitters who stepped in for ... well, I had forgotten by now. The 7th-inning stretch after one inning. The 3-inning "game" that yielded a championship. ↵

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↵And, most of all, Philly fans: Champions. ↵

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↵Do you think it seems as freaky to Philly fans as it does to the rest of us? ("Why Can't Us?" Oh, my slovenly, formerly pathetic Philly brothers and sisters: By all means, you certainly can.) ↵

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↵The only thing that remains to be seen is whether the glory of winning a major pro sports title for the first time in more than a tortured quarter-century leavens the city's typically embittered fans in a way that makes it impossible to return to the way they once were. ↵

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↵How can you boo when you are cheering your championship? ↵

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↵Meanwhile, fewer people will end up watching this World Series than any in history. But that doesn't make it unmemorable or unremarkable. ↵

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↵In fact, if fans will always remember "Game 6" as the Mets' finest moment, it is easy to foresee that baseball fans will always remember these Phillies in a similar way. ... ↵

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↵"Game 5.5" has a pretty cool ring to it. ↵

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↵Cole Hamels was Series MVP, affirming his status as the new Josh Beckett, but I think we'll look back at Brad Lidge's perfect season as an untouchable standard. ↵

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↵And what about the Rays? If their Cinderella season fell short of a championship, does that make it less sweet? ↵

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↵Obviously, yes. But the worst-to-first breakthrough to the AL pennant alone was pretty amazing. And probably more foreshadowing than fluke. ↵

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↵(Consider the last notable worst-to-first ('91 Braves) also lost in the World Series ... and triggered an epic streak of playoff appearances.) ↵

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↵Don't pity the Rays. As I have said for weeks, is there another team in the league that would NOT trade rosters, straight up, with the Rays? ↵

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↵NBA Opening Night, Part 2: ↵

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↵*Hey, what did you do with the Knicks? I know it was the woeful Heat, but still -- at least the Knicks are now entertaining to watch. ... ↵

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↵*I said this on their opening night as temporary host of the Hornets: Win or lose, Oklahoma City has the best fans in the NBA. ... ↵

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↵*Oden out 2-4 weeks: Yikes. We used to wonder if Oden was the next Walton; maybe he's the next Bowie. ↵

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↵*Chris Paul's MVP season started last night (and, wow, is it obvious the Warriors are missing Baron Davis). ... ↵

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↵*More debuts: Ron Artest's regular-season debut with the Rockets was a success. No incidents, unless you count woeful shooting. ... ↵

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↵*In comparing the performance of new-team Jermaine O'Neal and new-team Elton Brand, the biggest winner was Chris Bosh. ... ↵

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↵*How can you not love -- no pun intended -- the T'wolves new combo (now 1-0) of Jefferson (21/10) and Love (12/9 in 19 min). ... ↵

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↵*Want some quality opening-week NBA Instant History? The Lakers are unstoppable. ... ↵

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↵NFL Must-Read: The Top 10 biggest blunders of the season, courtesy of PFT/SN's Mike Florio. ↵

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↵CFB: I'm sorry I didn't reference this yesterday. That Houston WR whose leg was broken on national TV should sue the hell out of everyone for the placement of that golf cart in a way that might hurt him. (It was the band's fault? Sue them, too!) ↵

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↵CFB Top 25 Tonight: (23) South Florida at Cincy. I think Cincy's Brian Kelly is one of the best coaches in the country. USF's Jim Leavitt is no slouch. Both teams trail WVU in the Big East. Pick: Cincinnati. ↵

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↵CBB Preseason Coaches Top 25: It's UNC, then everyone else -- literally. UNC was the unanimous No. 1. Don't worry, Heel-haters: If that many coaches agree on something, it CAN'T be right. ↵

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↵More: Defending champ Kansas is No. 23; runner-up Memphis is No. 12; Stephen Curry and Davidson are No. 20; UCLA (No. 4) is projected to go to a 4th straight Final Four; Big East gets 7 in the Top 25, including 3 in the Top 6. ↵

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↵The Last Word: "I could have won without doping," Marion Jones lamented to Oprah. Clears throat ... ↵

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↵WELL THEN WHY DIDN'T YOU?! ↵

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↵I have no sympathy for Jones, one of the most wretched cheaters in sports history: ↵

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↵She was happy to embrace the spotlight, vehement in protesting her innocence, but then weepy when finally busted. What a fraud. ↵

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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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