Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Rays Won't Fear Sox

Today's Calls: Rays vs. Red Sox, Phillies vs. Dodgers, Greg Oden vs. Elgin Baylor, LSU vs. Tim Tebow, Bull Durham vs. Breakin' 2 and More. ↵

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↵The Opening Pitch: After umpteen straight days of baseball (pennant-race games, play-ins or playoffs), it felt odd to have a night off. Compare that to the interminable NBA playoff system, where we can go days between games, let alone series. ↵

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↵I probably need a few days to prepare myself for one of the most intriguing playoff match-ups of our generation: Rays-Red Sox. ↵

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↵Beyond the storylines covered in yesterday's column, they had the most riveting rivalry between any two teams this season: ↵

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↵The Rays were 6-0 at home vs. Boston and 0-6 at Fenway this season — right up until a six-game home-and-home in September. The Rays then took 4-of-6, including 2-of-3 at Fenway, essentially sealing their division title. ↵

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↵More than that, it put the Red Sox on notice that the Rays wouldn't fold down the stretch — and why they won't be intimidated in the ALCS. ↵
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↵Prediction: Rays in 7. ↵

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↵(Then again, this week Boston was named "Best Sports City" by Sporting News, so there's that. Wha: Gainesville is only No. 63?!) ↵

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↵NLCS: It's all about Manny. But despite Manny's near-.400 short season in the N.L. (with 17 HRs and 53 RBI in 53 games), as many have pointed out, he hit just .240 with 1 HR in eight games against the Phillies in August (including 2-for-14 at Citizens Bank Park). THE player to watch. ↵

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↵Prediction: Dodgers in 7. ↵

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↵NBA Preseason: Greg Oden's NBA debut! 13 points (5-for-8 FG), with 5 rebounds and 2 blocks in 20 minutes, but his impact is out-sized. ↵

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↵More Debuts: ↵

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↵— O.J. Mayo! (14 pts, 6-for-13 FG). ... ↵

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↵— Ron Artest for Houston! (15 pts, 4-for-12 FG, 6 reb). ... ↵

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↵— Jermaine O'Neal on the Raptors! (11 pts, 4-for-9 FG, 19 min). ... ↵

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↵— Andrew Bynum's return from knee injury! (15 pts, 8 reb, 24 min). ↵

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↵Antawn Jamison knee injury? Typical Wizards’ luck with injuries; it comes off Jamison just signing a 4Y/$50M deal. ↵

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↵NBA: If Elgin Baylor is really out as GM of the Clippers, the obvious question is — why now, as opposed to ... oh, any year in the last 22? ↵

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↵CFB: Why Oklahoma State-Missouri could be the most entertaining game of the year. (At least until Oklahoma State plays at Texas Tech in November.) ↵

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↵LSU-Florida Lead-Up: Ricky Jean-Francois backed off Monday's comment about Tim Tebow, saying that LSU's D would "try our best to take him out of the game" with a hit. ↵

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↵New spin, as laundered by LSU's sports information office: "I meant as a defense we are going to try to make him ineffective." Sure. ↵

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↵Speaking of Tebow, SN's Dave Curtis has a great interview with him, including this: ↵

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↵Can you say for sure you'll be back here next year? ↵

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↵Tebow: "I can't say for sure, no." ↵

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↵At least he's honest. I go back and forth on Tebow's NFL potential, but I actually think he would thrive in the trendy "Wildcat" formation. (Yes, it's for RBs, but why not run it using a QB with RB skills?) ↵

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↵CBB: Oklahoma picked by coaches to win the Big 12, just ahead of Texas (which returns four starters, not DJ Augustin) and defending national champion Kansas (which lost all five starters). ↵

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↵TV: LDS ratings down this year. Most interestingly, when going head-to-head with local NFL games on Sunday, local MLB ratings for teams in the playoffs were trounced by the NFL regular season. ↵

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↵Bonds Watch: "I'm happy now that I have more time." But, still, you get the sense he'd rather be playing. Anywhere. (Maybe next year the Cubs or Angels, among other contenders, would see the wisdom in signing him for the stretch — and the playoffs.) ↵

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↵Business: Salary cap for the Premier League? The chances of that are about the same that we'll ever see a salary cap in baseball. ↵

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↵Pop Culture: Some sports movies should never be made into sequels. "Bull Durham" is one of them. ↵

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↵The Last Word: Just a quick programming note. I won't be writing tomorrow in observance of Yom Kippur. But I'll make sure you're in good hands on The Sporting Blog. I’ll return Friday with LCS mania and the usual college football and NFL weekend preview coverage. ↵

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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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