Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Prez Obama and Sports

Today's Calls: Barack Obama vs. David Stern, Rockets vs. Celtics, Pete Carroll vs. the BCS, Al Davis vs. DeAngelo Hall, Brady Quinn vs. Daunte Culpepper, Derek Jeter vs. Bill James, AJ Burnett vs. Andrew Friedman, Joey Porter vs. Brandon Marshall, Kevin Johnson vs. Heath Shuler and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: What will President Barack Obama mean for sports? ↵

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↵No. 44 already made news earlier this week by declaring that he would like to see a college football playoff. I predict that by the end of his first term, he has brokered one. ↵

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↵That's because President Obama is a die-hard sports fan. ↵

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↵Most presidents have been fans, but you get the sense that Obama follows sports with the same passion as you or me -- when he is, y'know, not leading the free world. ↵

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↵But if there is one out-sized sports influence that an Obama administration will have on the country, it is this: ↵

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↵Basketball will become our national pastime -- a return to "Big" sport relevancy in the U.S. after years of increasing marginalization. ↵

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↵Obama's passion for hoops is well-known, a daily ritual throughout his campaign and a constant presence throughout his life. ↵

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↵Obama will be "Baller-in-Chief." He will install a basketball court in the White House. He will resuscitate the visibility and cachet of the sport, inspiring a generation of kids to take up the game. ↵

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↵If there is a phrase that might have defined his campaign -- and will certainly define his presidency -- may I suggest: ↵

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↵"Obamaball." ↵

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↵NBA Instant History: Rockets not ready to compete yet. For those of us who picked Houston to win the NBA title, an opening week matchup with the defending champ Celtics seemed like an ideal moment for proof. ↵

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↵Yikes: As with the end of "The Streak" last winter, the Rockets again couldn't solve the Celtics, dropping a highly symbolic "statement" game in Houston, allowing Boston to shoot 51.9 percent FG. ↵

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↵Forget the "Big Three": All five Celtics starters were in double-figures (led by Allen's 29); the Rockets' Big 3 was muted, with 26 from T-Mac, but only 15 from Ron-Ron (3/10 FG) and 8 from Yao (4/14 FG). ↵

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↵CFB: Pete Carroll hates the BCS. "I think it stinks," he said. "I don't understand how the thing works." ↵

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↵OK, Coach, here's a good primer: If you have the most talented team in the country, you win all your games and you get to play for a title. ↵

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↵If you don't win all your games, then the strength of your schedule is scrutinized to see what kind of competition you ARE beating. ↵

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↵Gee: Is that so difficult to understand? ↵

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↵Given that after USC beat Ohio State, they got a free pass to the title game despite their weak Pac-10 schedule, Carroll should stop griping. ↵

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↵(That's not to say that the BCS system isn't fully flawed. But in the absence of a new system, Carroll doesn't have cause to complain.) ↵

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↵Tennessee Job Watch: David Cutcliffe doesn't want it. Given his ties to the program, that's surprising. Given that Tennessee isn't one of the Top 25 CFB coaching jobs in the country anymore, it isn't. ↵

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↵Raiders purge coming? DeAngelo Hall (imminently?) and Javon Walker (inevitably?) are among 15 who could be jettisoned. Hall cost Oakland key draft picks; Walker simply cost them cap 'n cash. Hey, Al Davis has gotta start somewhere, but this is embarrassing. When will the league step in? ↵

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↵Brady Quinn Watch: It would be far more awesome if Romeo Crennel would have said that he totally made his decision to bench Derek Anderson for Brady Quinn entirely because of the fans. Why not? ↵

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↵More: How bad are the Lions? So bad that they could sign a QB who has been out of the league all season -- Daunte Culpepper -- on a Tuesday, but be ready to start him the very next Sunday. ↵

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↵MLB Hot Stove: AJ Burnett is available. He left 2 years of a $55 million, 5-year deal on the table, after his career-best season in '08. ↵

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↵Here's the thing: While he successfully pitched a ton of innings this season (3rd in the AL), does anyone actually think that he won't regress to the mean of his career and spend a ton of time injured for whatever team antes up for him? It is a virtual guarantee. ↵

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↵Schadenfreude: An expert panel declared Derek Jeter is the "worst fielder in baseball." About time it was official. Jeter's Gold Glove is one of the great laughable moments in MLB award history. ↵

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↵(NOT a laughable MLB award moment: The Rays brilliant thirtysomething GM Andrew Friedman named SN Exec of the Year in baseball. Hmm: I'd love to hear Friedman on Burnett -- pretty sure he'll take a pass.) ↵

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↵More NBA: Marbury drama not ending anytime soon. The team reportedly won't release him, meaning they would rather pay him to sit scowling on the bench than pay him to stay away from the team. ↵

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↵NBA Ref Scandal: Scott Foster would like his tainted reputation back now, please. ↵

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↵CBB Countdown: No. 6 Texas. With Kevin Durant two years ago, Texas couldn't make it out of the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament; then he left for the NBA. ↵

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↵Without Durant last March (but with super-soph DJ Augustin), the Longhorns made the Elite Eight; then Augustin left for the NBA. ↵

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↵This season, they don't have nearly the star power, but they have a seasoned and deep -- if superstar-free -- team. And it may their most successful yet of the past 3 years. ↵

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↵More Politics and Sports: Kevin Johnson was elected mayor of Sacramento. And Heath Shuler was re-elected to Congress from his North Carolina district. If it wasn't clear before, Shuler is a much better pol than he was a pro football player. ↵

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↵The Last Word: "I don't know what 'Peezy' is." ↵

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↵Meh. Brandon Marshall's trash-talk for Joey Porter would carry a lot more weight if Porter's Dolphins didn't just come into Marshall's house and beat the Broncos. ↵

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↵More: "Yeah, Joey Porter's one of them guys, when you got guys who talk a lot of trash, just want to talk about people or put people down, they have their own insecurities. ↵

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↵"But he's definitely one of those guys who all those muscles are popcorn muscles. He's soft." ↵

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↵Keep yapping, Brandon. ↵

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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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