Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Rays, Red Sox, Reggie

Today's Calls: Rays vs. Red Sox, Jed Lowrie vs. Mike Scioscia, Angels vs. Cubs, Reggie Bush vs. Devin Hester, Curt Schilling vs. Kurt Warner, Kevin Love vs. Tom Crean and More. ↵

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↵The Opening Pitch: Now THIS is a playoff series. Red Sox vs. Rays is as compelling a playoff series as baseball has seen in recent memory: ↵

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↵— Defending Champs vs. Worst-to-First ↵

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↵— The “New” Evil Empire vs. Cinderella ↵

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↵— $133M payroll vs. $44M payroll ↵

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↵— "Red Sox Nation" vs. Half-Empty Stadium ↵

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↵— Um, Wild Card vs. AL East Champs. ↵

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↵But Boston cannot play their traditional plucky card — not after two titles in four years. And certainly not against these Rays. ↵

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↵This is nothing less than a battle for the soul of baseball: And you're either on the side of hope or the side of status quo. ↵

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↵Last night's hero: Jed Lowrie! (He could do nothing else in his Boston career, he'll be remembered for Monday's series-clinching hit.) ↵

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↵As for the Angels, their 100-win, best-in-A.L. regular season is meaningless (bunted away on a controversial suicide-squeeze decision*). I'm not sure what they can do in the offseason (CC? Manny?) — aside from ensure they don't play the Red Sox in next year's playoffs. ↵

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↵(* Will have every self-respecting SABR-loving fan weeping — if it wasn't for the fact that most favor the Sox's cerebral style anyway.) ↵

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↵On the other hand, the White Sox's ride feels satisfying: They played and won two play-in games before the playoffs even started, and at least gave their fans a "black-out" win at home before exiting. And it's not like there's any shame in being bounced by Cinderella. ↵

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↵Reggie Bush just defined his career: Ties NFL-record two punt-return TDs? So, he is a glorified punt-return specialist. Plus, he takes the "running" out of "running back" — RB should stand for "receiving back." He’s Devin Hester, but with a way bigger salary-cap footprint. ↵

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↵Most telling, Bush's two fumbles were part of the Saints' game-killing four turnovers that negated their stat dominance. (To be fair, the one Bush fumble the Saints lost was the result of a ridiculous facemasking that went uncalled by — surprise, surprise — Ed Hochuli's crew.) ... (Aha: We now know who the Vikings QB should be — Chester Taylor.) ↵

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↵Brian Westbrook Injury Watch: Two broken ribs? Uh-oh. ↵

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↵"Everybody doesn't have to like me": Would it surprise you to learn that Plaxico Burress isn't particularly sorry for being a pain? ↵

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↵Lions coach Rod Marinelli won't resign: This won't end well, although with the Lions' track record, they'll keep him on for years before finally giving him the axe. ↵

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↵NFL Non-Story of the Day: Kurt Warner pondered retirement after Anquan Boldin's scary injury at the end of Week 4. ↵

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↵CFB: How good is the Big 12? Six teams in the Top 17. And it all starts to shake out this weekend, when Missouri hosts Oklahoma State (over/under: 90-ish?) and, of course, Oklahoma and Texas play for the latest BCS pole position. ↵

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↵NBA Preseason: Kevin Love's debut wasn't quite as dominating as his summer-league performances — 13 pts (6/10 FG) and 5 rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench. But a 38-point T-wolves win. ↵

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↵CBB: Tom Crean needs to stop whining. It's not like he didn't know what he was getting into when he jumped to Indiana. ↵

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↵The Last Word: Curt Schilling coming back in '09? Rather than seeing this as a typical Schilling "wait-look-at-MEEEE!!!" moment, I actually think this makes sense. He can take his time rehabbing, then join a contender as a very effective second-half addition. ↵

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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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