Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: ALDS, Skins, UT-OU

Today's Calls: Cubs '08 vs. Cubs '09, Phillies vs. Dodgers, ALCS vs. NBA Playoffs, Redskins vs. Dolphins, Kyle Orton vs. Sage Rosenfels, Oklahoma vs. Texas, Vandy vs. Anyone, Tony Stewart vs. Regan Smith and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Phillies fans can empathize with Cubs fans. ↵

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↵This season's Cubs are last season's Phillies: A thrill-ride regular season, ending in a humiliating NLDS sweep. Fans would be fair in wondering if the season was worth all the trouble, if the ending was simply to be the ignominy of limp, winless playoff defeat. ↵

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↵The "Why Bother?" debate is epic: MLB playoffs — particularly five games — are such a crapshoot that if they played another five-game series, the Cubs could have just as easily won that. (Right?) The pain hurts, but you'd always want to give your team the playoffs’ “puncher’s chance.” ↵

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↵Cubs fans can take heart if the Phillies are their model: Philly came roaring back this postseason — their relentlessness had to be fueled in part by memories of last season's ugly experience. ↵

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↵Don't be so down, Cubs fans: If you're lucky, maybe next year you'll be this year's Phillies. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, in the A.L., the seeming inevitability was staved off by the Angels and White Sox — making the Red Sox and Rays work a little bit more than, say, the Dodgers for their series victory. ↵

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↵(Angels’ win was especially big, given Boston's endless postseason winning streak over L.A. The Rays were likely blinded by another impressive-looking "black-out" by White Sox fans.) ↵

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↵Both ALDS series could end as soon as tonight. (With a White Sox home win, the series could turn into an entirely unpredictable one-game playoff. If you have no rooting interest, root for THAT.) ↵

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↵By the way: Compare the dramatic night-in-night-out pace of the baseball playoffs with the ridiculous stretching-out of the NBA playoffs; in this respect, baseball is vastly superior to the NBA. ↵

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↵NFL Week 5 Wrap: The NFL's hottest team is the one with the rookie head coach and rejuvenated running back, who has spent the past two weeks unpredictably slaying two conference playoff powers. ↵

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↵With apologies to the road-warrior Redskins, that would be the Dolphins, who pulled off another improbable W (once again, successfully deploying the amazing Ronnie-Brown-direct-snap offense). ↵

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↵MORE: ↵

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↵— NFL's best team as of this morning? The Giants. ↵

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↵— Conventional Wisdom-Buster: The Steelers say, "Who needs running backs?" ↵

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↵— Not only are the Titans 5-0, but Kerry Collins played like even more of an MVP than previous weeks. ↵

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↵ On the other end, not only are the Bills no longer unbeaten, but Trent Edwards was KO'ed with a concussion. ↵

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↵Fantasy Stud: Kyle Orton (!?!?! Yes!). ↵

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↵— Goat of the Week: Sage Rosenfels (I refuse to credit the Colts with some kind of comeback mojo; this was all Houston choking it away). ↵

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↵— Milestone: Tony Gonzalez, a Hall of Fame lock, sets the career record for most yards receiving by a tight end. ↵

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↵— Rookie Watch: "Free Felix Jones!" was so successful, let's try another: Free Steve Slaton! (not just with even more carries, but from his awful team altogether). ↵

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↵CFB Weekend Wrap: Rather than expose the Top 10 to upsets, it affirmed that the Big 12's best — Oklahoma, Mizzou, Texas, Texas Tech — is VERY strong. (As is Penn State, which put the “D” in “Spread HD.”) ↵

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↵Meanwhile: Vandy! (Do I need to say more?) ↵

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↵Heisman Watch: Nothing to dislodge Chase Daniel from the top of my ballot. In fact, the idea that a Nebraska player spit on Daniel before Saturday's game only adds to the Daniel myth-making; he whipsawed the Huskers for 253 yards and 3 TDs on 78.3 percent passing. ↵

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↵Looking Ahead to Next Week: The Texas-Oklahoma winner should (and will) be the No. 1 team in the country. ... (Don't forget the pinball game that should be Oklahoma State-Mizzou.) ... If LSU beats Florida at The Swamp, they would make a strong case for No. 2. ... Suddenly, Wisconsin in Madison doesn't seem quite as daunting for Penn State. ↵

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↵My BlogPoll Top 10: (1) Oklahoma; (2) Missouri; (3) Texas; (4) Alabama; (5) LSU; (6) Penn State; (7) BYU; (8) Texas Tech; (9) Utah; (10) Vanderbilt. Click here for the complete ballot. ↵

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↵CFB Must-Read: Spencer Hall's A-to-Z. ↵

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↵NASCAR: Watch that yellow line! Regan Smith finished first, ahead of Tony Stewart, at Talladega. But Stewart won the race because Smith committed a passing violation. Exciting ... or lame? ↵

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↵NBA Preseason: Michael Beasley's debut was so-so — 13 points in the third quarter, but only 16 overall in a loss to the Pistons. ↵

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↵WNBA Finals: Shock officially a dynasty, with three titles in six seasons. The next great NBA coach is Bill Laimbeer. Which team will bring him over from the WNBA? (My bet is his pal Joe Dumars keeps him in Detroit after another disappointing finish by the Pistons next spring.) ↵

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↵The Last Word: In case you perhaps lost your faith in the justice system — or the karmic balance of the universe — I submit to you: Orenthal James Simpson, who will hopefully spend most — if not all — of the rest of his life in prison. ↵

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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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