Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Cuban, A.L. MVP, Curry

Today’s Calls: Mark Cuban vs. the SEC, Phil Dawson vs. Rian Lindell, Joey Porter vs. the Pats, Albert Pujols vs. the A.L. MVP, Stephen Curry vs. Blake Griffin, Tracy McGrady vs. Mindy McCready and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: The first rule of scandal management is to make the scandal goes away as quickly and quietly as possible. ↵

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↵Mark Cuban is pursuing neither. ↵

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↵It was predictable that sports’ biggest Maverick would push back at the Feds over this insider-trading lawsuit. But Mike Florio makes a good point that this probably isn’t the best strategy, because it sets up an “either-they’re-lying-or-I-am” dynamic that rarely works for the target of the G-men. ↵

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↵Compare that to the way the NFL is reacting to (yet) another baffling officiating mistake, from the Steelers-Chargers game. The league reacted quickly, not only committing to reviewing the replay policy in the offseason, but potentially implementing changes before this year’s playoffs. ↵

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↵Battling the government isn’t quite like battling gamblers who faced a $64 million swing (or irate fantasy GMs who really needed that TD from the Pitt D), but the rules of engagement are the same: ↵

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↵Admit error. Fix quickly. Move on. ↵

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↵MNF: Well, at least Phil Dawson didn’t quit. The Browns kicker accounted for 194 yards of sweet field-goal goodness, including the game-winning 56-yarder to carry Cleveland over the reeling Bills, who have lost four straight. (How many fantasy games were won on Dawson’s leg?) Meanwhile, there was Rian Lindell, who missed what would have been a game-winning FG in the last minute. ↵

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↵Week 12 Look-Ahead: Joey Porter sparks Pats-Fins. “They let us know how they feel about us,” Porter said. “There’s no love lost. We don’t like them, and they don’t like us. I don’t like them.” ↵

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↵NFL Must-Read: Florio’s 10-Pack. ↵

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↵MLB Awards Season: Albert Pujols wins N.L. MVP. Even though Pujols himself pushed the “MVPs-make-the-playoffs” meme back in ‘06, he shouldn’t be punished for uttering such an inanity. (How did that one Milwaukee guy put Pujols 7th? Honestly: Who gets to vote on these things?) ↵

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↵Today: A.L. MVP. And it’s the most intriguing (read: non-obvious) pick of the entire awards season. Will it be Kevin Youkilis? Why not Evan Longoria? What about Carlos Quentin? Justin Morneau? K-Rod? Dare I say OPS leader Milton Bradley? Expect a ton of sympathy votes for Josh Hamilton. ↵

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↵Rays Raise Ticket Prices: I appreciate that this team just won an A.L. pennant, but (a) it’s not like they were packing the Trop to begin with, (b) it’s not like they have a massive payroll to shoulder, and (c) do they know we’re in the middle of the worst economic climate since the Depression? The usually financially savvy Rays management team missed an incredible moment for goodwill in the region by cutting ticket costs, not raising them. ↵

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↵Name to Know: Eri Yoshida, a 16-year-old girl with a wicked knuckleball, who was drafted by an independent Japanese baseball league. (What’s the over-under before this happens in the U.S.? Maybe not MLB, but what about in an indie league?) ↵

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↵NBA Injury Watch: T-Mac, with that balky left knee giving out on him like he was playing for the Del Boca Vista Rockets. “Tonight, I went back to square one, like before even surgery,” McGrady said. “Until further notice, I’m going to have to shut it down.” Um ... what was I saying about Rockets’ titles? ↵

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↵NBA Instant History: The offseason pickup of the year might be Roger Mason. The Spurs snagged him from the Wizards this summer, and with Tony Parker (and Manu Ginobili) out, Mason has stepped up as a starter. Last night, he scored a team-high 21, including the game-winning 3. ↵

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↵For the season, Mason is averaging 14.5 ppg and shooting 47.1 percent on 3s. His 35.3 mpg and 4.3 rpg are both second on the team, behind only Tim Duncan. You could argue the Spurs’ rebound from that 1-4 start to today’s 5-5 was largely from the value of Mason. ↵

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↵CBB Mania: Stephen Curry had another sick game. It isn’t even the point total (33), as much as the FG shooting (14/19), along with 9 assists. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, if I had to pick the second-best player in the country, it would be Oklahoma’s monster Blake Griffin, who had 20 and 19 (coming off a season-debut 24 and 18 over the weekend). ↵

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↵Freshman Watch: Tyreke Evans had his second-straight 19-point game in another Memphis rout and Georgetown’s highly-touted big man Greg Monroe had 14 and 7 in his college debut. ↵

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↵RIP, Pete Newell, 93: The legendary college basketball coach was probably best-known for his “Big Man Camp,” which feels like everyone who is anyone in the post was an alum. Condolences to his family, friends, former pupils and fans. ↵

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↵NFL Retirements: John Lynch, who will roll right into that TV talking-head gig he has been angling for. ↵

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↵CFB: BCS move from FOX to ESPN in 2011 is a done-deal. I’ll repeat last week’s analysis: Unless that move also includes the transition to some sort of playoff, what’s the big deal (aside from better production values on the bowl games themselves?) ↵

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↵Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez resorts to the old “get a life” response to his critics. Here’s another way to think about it, Coach: How about you get more than three wins in a season? (If he would rather talk about the economy, how about pro-rate his enormous salary, paying off only for his meager win total and giving the rest back to a RichRod scholarship fund for non-athletes who can’t afford to go to Michigan in this current economic environment?) ↵

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↵Golf: Tiger back in February? That’s what pal Mark O’Meara says, and you know O’Meara wouldn’t say a peep without Woods’ say-so. ↵

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↵The Last Word: “I wanted him to do right by me ... and when he wouldn’t, I broke it off.” -- Mindy McCready, on Roger Clemens. ↵

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↵We’re back into that scandal, thanks to an interview McCready gave to “Inside Edition” about her relationship with Clemens, including the tidbit that she dumped him when he wouldn’t marry her. ↵

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↵Also, she wanted to clarify she was 16, not 15 when they met (that makes it so much ... the same) but she insisted nothing turned physical until a few years later. ↵

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↵I’m sure Clemens is thrilled this particular aspect of his career as a cheater is back in the headlines. I wonder if McCready will record a new hit single, a remake of “Stand By Your Man” in honor of Debbie Clemens? ↵

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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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