Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Early MLB Awards

↵Today's Calls: Cliff Lee vs. Derrek Lee, Celtics vs. Hawks, LeBron vs. Gilbert, Rays vs. Red Sox, Max Scherzer vs. Geovany Soto, BCS vs. BCS, Mike D'Antoni vs. Avery Johnson, Sean Avery vs. Karma, Big Brown vs. the Derby Field and More! ↵

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↵The Opening Pitch: Giving out April MLB Awards is tough. Are they prescient signals of long-term success ... or statistical anomalies that will look ludicrous in September? ↵

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↵Instant History demands that we ignore both and simply focus on the most dazzling names of the season's first month: ↵

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↵AL MVP: Manny Ramirez ↵
↵AL Cy: Cliff Lee ↵
↵AL Rookie: Evan Longoria/Greg Smith ↵
↵AL Manager: Joe Maddon ↵
↵AL Fantasy MVP (H): Josh Hamilton ↵
↵AL Fantasy MVP (P): Zack Greinke ↵
↵AL Story: Rise of the Rays ↵

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↵NL MVP: Derrek Lee ↵
↵NL Cy: Brandon Webb ↵
↵NL Rookie: Geovany Soto/Max Scherzer ↵
↵NL Manager: Fredi Gonzalez ↵
↵NL Fantasy MVP (H): Nate McLouth ↵
↵NL Fantasy MVP (P): Edinson Volquez ↵
↵NL Story: Hope in Wrigleyville ↵

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↵We'll see how these look in a month... ↵

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↵NBA Playoffs: Celtics crush the Hawks by 25 in Boston in Game 5. And yet, the Celtics have to return to Atlanta -- where they have yet to win a game in this series -- for the Game 6 no one saw coming. Simply by extending their series this far, beyond any/all expectations, the Hawks are the biggest winners of the playoffs. ↵

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↵No problems for the Wizards... ↵

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↵Down 3-1? No problem. ↵
↵Playing in Cleveland? No problem. ↵
↵Arenas a DNP? No problem. ↵
↵Down 5 with 1:47 to play? No problem. ↵
↵LeBron gets the last shot, Cavs down 1? ↵
↵No. Problem. ↵

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↵Gilbert Arenas done for season: So about this pre-game announcement from Arenas himself, the only question now is whether he opts out of his contract (as he has said he would) -- and whether the team pays (really) big to keep their biggest star. If they can come back from being down 3-1 to the Cavs without Agent Zero, things get more ... complicated. ↵

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↵MLB Instant History: Rays! One of the biggest questions heading into the season was whether the Rays could match the preseason hype. ↵

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↵The answer? Yes, at least in April, which just concluded as the best first month to a season in franchise history ... ↵

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↵They'll need it, if the Red Sox continue to win games in their final at-bat, like they have done the past two nights ... ↵

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↵Unexpected Indians ace Cliff Lee finished his month as sizzling as he started it, running his record to 5-0, tied for tops in the AL ... ↵

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↵More 5-0 AL Pitchers: Ervin Santana ... ↵

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↵Rookie Watch: Geovany Soto. The Cubs rookie C hit TWO 3-run HR en route to the Cubs' 19-5 obliteration of div-rival Milwaukee ... ↵

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↵Phil Hughes to DL: Either that helps explain his oh-fer start to the season... or the Yankees are in more trouble than we thought. (A-Rod is on the DL, too.) ↵

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↵Know the Name: Eliezar Alfonzo, the Giants minor-league C who became the 1st player in '08 to be hit with a 50-game suspension for PEDs ... ↵

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↵Fantasy Stud: Micah Owings. So, if I have him on my fantasy roster as a pitcher, do I get credit for his pinch-hit home run, too? ↵

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↵(Meanwhile, after his sizzling, blog-winning debut, Max Scherzer will start for Arizona on Monday. No Joba-style dithering in Arizona...) ↵

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↵BCS Watch: No change. The good news is that they were smart enough to reject the non-fix "Plus-One" plan. ... ↵

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↵... The bad news is that there was no other movement to fix the system -- and they'll get crushed for it, because things won't change until 2014, at the earliest. ↵

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↵(Although SEC commish Mike Slive did say he was disappointed: Hey Mike, PLEASE consider my plan to have the SEC "SEC-ede" from the BCS and start their own playoff. You have the best conference; why be afraid of the reaction from the others? You have all the leverage! Call me!) ↵

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↵NBA Coaching Carousel: Is Mike D'Antoni out in Phoenix? He has gone as far as he ever would with the Suns; hoops addicts are lamenting the end of the great Eurofication experiment in Phoenix. A week ago, they were exciting; today, they are irrelevant. ↵

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↵D'Antoni's best bet is to bring his act East: Openings in New York and Chicago will be tempting, but the most ideal fit would be Toronto. Despite vowing he won't fire coach Sam Mitchell, honcho Bryan Colangelo, a former colleague of D'Antoni in PHX, is modeling the team after Phoenix. ↵

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↵Avery Johnson out: Johnson might have fewer options than D'Antoni, but he will likely have options. Johnson never recovered from losing in the first round to the Warriors a year ago; this week, he lost the team for good. There was no way he could return to coach them. Wow, that's quite the awkward moment during his next job interview. ↵

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↵NBA Awards: Kevin Durant to win Rookie of the Year. This is a "hype" pick -- voters made up their minds before the season started -- because on the merits, Al Horford deserved it more. ↵

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↵One Thing You Should Know About the NHL Playoffs: The Sharks DO have SOME professional pride, beating the Stars in Dallas to avoid the ignominy of being swept out of the playoffs. ↵

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↵Sean Avery is done for the playoffs, with an injured spleen. Here's hoping for his full recovery, and here's hoping that karmic payback doesn't really exist. ↵

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↵Kentucky Derby: Big Brown is the favorite, despite starting on the outside at Post 20. (Pick coming tomorrow.) ↵

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↵The Last Word: If you like horse racing -- or, more specifically, great writing about horse racing (and those can be two separate things), I recommend Joe Drape's new collection "To The Swift," featuring some of the best racing writers of all time. ↵

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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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