Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Meh-sters, Lakers, Papi

↵Today's Calls: Tiger Woods vs. Trevor Immelman, Kobe Bryant vs. Manu Ginobili, Nuggets vs. Warriors, Gilbert Arenas vs. LeBron James, Francisco Liriano vs. Brian Bannister, Greg Maddux vs. Jeff Niemann, David Ortiz vs. Gabe Kapler, Michael Beasley vs. Derrick Rose, Percy Harvin vs. Chris Rainey, B.C. vs. UCLA, Seattle vs. Oklahoma City and More! ↵

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↵The Opening Pitch: And so we see the regrettable downside of "Tiger vs. the Field." ↵

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↵When Tiger wins, it's all good. ↵

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↵And when he doesn't? ↵

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↵It's "The Meh-sters." ↵

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↵There was no classic Tiger comeback, just as surely as there will be no Grand Slam in 2008. If a Masters is held, and Tiger doesn't win, does it make a sound? ↵

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↵Trevor Immelman joins the modestly exclusive -- but mostly forgettable -- club of "Players Not Named Tiger Who Have Won Majors During the Tiger Era." ↵

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↵Tiger in second place might as well be Tiger not making the cut. Casual fans tune in to watch Tiger win -- dramatically coming from behind, if he's taking requests. ↵

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↵A tradition unlike any other? Meh: Only when Tiger wins. ↵

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↵That's not to diminish Immelman's impressive win: You could argue the "Anyone But Tiger" theory: That it is actually BETTER for the sport if Tiger is in contention, but ultimately loses because it raises the profile of another golfer, which can't be bad for the sport. ↵

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↵NBA West: All signs point to the Lakers winning the top seed in the insanely competitive West. After yesterday's symbolically loaded 21-point rout over the dynastic Spurs (without Manu Ginobili, fwiw), the Lakers control their destiny: A season-ending win over the Kings Tuesday night in L.A. secures the Lakers a once-unthinkable 1-seed. ↵

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↵But who would the West's top seed play? It looks like the Nuggets, who got a huge win over Houston in Denver last night (A.I.: 33 pts); with a win over Memphis in their season finale (or a Warriors loss to either the Suns tonight or Sonics in the season finale), the Nuggets clinch that last playoff spot. ↵

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↵(Meanwhile, who else thinks Gilbert Arenas will be the biggest x-Factor of the East playoffs? Consider his 12-point 4th quarter against the Sixers on Saturday, part of 20 off the bench. Cavs-Wiz, regardless of who has home-court advantage, will be epic.) ↵

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↵Today's MLB Instant History: One-time phenom Francisco Liriano was lit up in his first start since 2006 (4.2 IP, 4 ER, 5 BB, 4 K, 90 pitches) ... Meanwhile: Brian Bannister! ... In running his record to 2-0, Tim Lincecum had 11 Ks in 6 IP ... Greg Maddux had four relievers help him secure a shutout and a 2-0 start (his next start will be for milestone career win No. 350) ... Speaking of shutouts: Javier Vazquez! (Probably helps to know you have two grand slams backing you up against the Tigers) ... Detroit manager Jim Leyland gave the Tigers a post-game rant (wouldn't you?) ... In the first 2 games of his much-heralded major league career, Evan Longoria was 2-for-6 with 1 RBI, 2 BB and 1 K ... Meanwhile: Jeff Niemann! ... Is the Johnny Cueto phenomenon already over? ↵

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↵Red Sox top Yankees 8-5 in ugly one, win weekend series 2-1: With another 15 regular-season games to go, it's way too early to make much out of this series' results, aside from the gleeful fact that it puts the Yankees in the AL East cellar, and if the season ended today, the Red Sox wouldn't make the playoffs either. ↵

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↵Actually, there is something to talk about from this series: What is up with Big Papi? David Ortiz got the night off last night (some might call it "being benched for his -- and the team's -- own good"); he could use it, starting the season 3-for-43, a shocking .070 average (.231 OBP). ↵

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↵(Speaking of Ortiz, he will forever be linked to this wacky story of the construction worker who buried a Papi jersey in the concrete of the new Yankee Stadium, before he was found out and the Yankees spent the weekend digging out the offending totem. Next up: How about Hoffa at Giants Stadium?) ↵

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↵Gabe Kapler Comeback Tour: Another HR (his fourth) to go with another three RBIs (giving him 11), in a mere 26 at-bats (almost entirely against lefties); if he had enough at-bats to qualify, he would be leading baseball in on-base plus slugging percentage. Remarkable, considering he didn't play at all last season. ↵

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↵NHL Playoffs One Thing to Know: The 7-seed Flames scored 4 unanswered goals to come back from an early 3-0 deficit to beat the 2-seed Sharks and take a 2-1 series lead. ↵

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↵NBA Draft: Michael Beasley is turning pro today (unless he does something totally unthinkable), and he will be the consensus No. 1 talent in the draft. (Depending on which team gets the top pick, he could go No. 2 behind Derrick Rose -- particularly as teams see what Chris Paul has done for the Hornets -- but there aren't many teams that couldn't use the big, versatile Beasley even more.) ↵

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↵NFL: Would YOU let Pacman Jones back into the NFL? If I were the commish, I'd insist on seeing a pristine application (with essay!) ↵

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↵College basketball: It is hard to believe that there is a community that takes its basketball more seriously than Kansas fans, as the wild celebration in Lawrence attests. (No, I'm not saying that KU fans are better than other fans; just that they are as singularly devoted as they come.) ↵

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↵College Football Spring Games: If, in fact, Florida has the best offense in the country, it will not come from known-quantities Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin, but from emerging stars Chris "Poor Man's Percy Harvin" Rainey and USC transfer RB Emmanuel Moody, stars of the Gators' spring game Saturday. ↵

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↵Olympics: No, skipping the opening ceremonies is not a "cop-out"; some might call it "appropriately symbolic." ↵

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↵Raise your hand if you are actually surprised to find out that PEDs are in track and field are in even wider use than previously reported. (No hands? Exactly.) ↵

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↵NCAA Hockey: Congrats to B.C. for doing what UCLA hoops couldn't -- a national title in a third straight visit to a final "Four." ↵

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↵The Last Word: So long to the NBA in Seattle. From the late-70s championship era to the Payton-Kemp-Karl success to the glimpse of Kevin Durant's potential this season, they have been a fantastic NBA franchise -- with spectacular fans to match. ↵

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↵Hopefully, last night's comeback win over Dallas in the season's (and likely franchise's) Seattle finale is enough to keep fans going until an expansion franchise returns pro basketball to Seattle. ↵

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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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