Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Week's Big Losers

↵Today's Calls: Spurs vs. Hornets, Celtics and Lakers vs. the Road, Brandon Webb vs. History, Cole Hamels vs. Aaron Laffey, Lance Berkman vs. Ryan Braun, Matt Walsh vs. John Tomase, Big Brown vs. the Field, Charles Barkley vs. Steve Wynn and More! ↵

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↵The Opening Pitch: John Tomase's public self-flagellation today in the Boston Herald over the Pats Super-scandal (see below) is a nice set-up for a run-down of the week's biggest Losers and Winners: ↵

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↵Biggest Losers: ↵

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↵5. John Tomase: Tabloid mope on mea culpa tour ... 4. Hank Steinbrenner: Hey: Why not buy the Rays? ... 3. OJ Mayo: Victim of system? Please. ...
↵1 (tie). Arlen Specter
: Right crusade, wrong crusader. ... 1 (tie). Roger Goodell: Spygate just won't go away. ↵

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↵Biggest Winners: ↵

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↵5. Sports bloggers ↵
↵"Charity Bowl" nets $20K. ... 4. Manny Ramirez: "Hi-5" catch a YouTube sensation. ... 3. Matt Walsh: Goes on P.R. offensive. ... 2. Brandon Webb: 9-0 and unbeatable. ... 1. Hornets: On cusp of ousting champs. ↵

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↵ ↵Speaking of the Bugs... ↵

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↵Spurs beat Hornets in Game 6: The home team won in the NBA Playoffs? NO! That said, it sets up an unbelievably dramatic Game 7: ↵

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↵Either the Spurs survive on the road -- like no team has done in this series or, really, in these playoffs -- or the defending champs are DONE, ousted by the NBA's feel-good team of the decade. ↵

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↵Tonight's Game 6s: It's pretty simple. Either the Cavs and Jazz (continue to) win at home to force a Game 7 or their seasons are over. ↵Is this the road game the Celtics finally win? (No Boobie Gibson tonight for the Cavs? The C's could do it.) ↵

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↵Brandon Webb is unstoppable (again): He is now 9-0 in his first ↵9 starts, the best start for any MLB pitcher since '85 (a stat you will hear over and over today). Did I say 25 wins? Do I hear 30? ↵

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↵More MLB Instant History: Does anyone really care that MLB is toughening its drug-testing policies? ... Cole Hamels threw his first-ever shutout, a CG no less. ... Aaron Laffey blew the Indians' SP consecutive scoreless IP streak, but they still won. ... Fantasy Stud: Ryan Dempster (8.1 IP, 12 K, 0 ER). ... Must be the mojo of Idol finalist (and Royals fan) David Cook: KC swept Detroit (again). ... Lance Berkman is must-track: Hits HR No. 15, and it's the game-winner for Houston in San Fran. ... Trade Rumors: Per Rosenthal, could Colorado's Matt Holliday be on the block? Hmm ... ↵

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↵Rays Bandwagon: No "new contract curse" for Kazmir. That's a 2nd straight win for Scott Kazmir (and yet another loss for winless Ian Kennedy), and the Rays not only beat the Yankees again, but put NY in last place in the AL East. ... ↵

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↵Ryan Braun gets a big deal: 8Y/$45M. I'm not sniffing at $5.5M per year, but doesn't that strike you as low for a young MLB superstar? (This is the team that gave Jeff Suppan a 4Y/$42M deal last ↵season.) Braun was obviously happy, hitting his 10th HR of the season yesterday (in a Brewers loss to the Dodgers). ↵

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↵Interleague Mania! The most intriguing series was likely unanticipated when the schedules came out: Rays at Cards, one of only two series featuring both teams playing over .500 (Angels-Dodgers is the other). If the young and talented Rays had the amazing fan support the Cards get, they would be most envied team in baseball. ↵

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↵Because I know you can't get enough of the spying scandal, the latest twists ... ↵

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↵• Matt Walsh talked to HBO's "Real Sports": And he confirms that the Pats' practice of cheating was both intentional and systematic. ↵Roger Goodell's punishment seems less and less severe by the twist. ↵

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↵• The Boston Herald's John Tomase personally apologizes for the Super-spying story. He might continue working the Pats beat, but he will never live down the legacy of that faulty reporting, although his editors deserve just as much blame -- if not more -- for the failure. ↵

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↵• Former Pats assistant Brian Daboll had "no recollection" of a conversation with Matt Walsh after Walsh witnessed the Rams' walk-through before Super Bowl XXXVI and said he talked with Daboll about it. ↵

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↵"No recollection" usually means "Totally recall, but don't want to deal." ↵

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↵It is apparently moot, because the NFL said it wasn't a violation of rules. True: It was merely an utter, humiliating failure by NFL Security, along with a sleazy move by the Pats, if not technically rule-breaking. ↵

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↵More College Hoops Scandals: Did Kansas' Darrell Arthur have his grades changed in high school? Oh, please: If you want to go THERE, the entire sport would go under. ↵

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↵Let's not go crazy with the publicity-generating scandal-hunting: It is one thing to unearth cash payments; grade-changing, while unseemly and totally inappropriate, strikes me as not worth our time. ↵

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↵One Thing to Know About the NHL Playoffs: The Flyers didn't want to get swept, either. Like the Stars in the West, who were also down 0-3 before winning Game 4, Philly didn't want the humiliation of the broom. Presumably, they'll settle for a mere loss in 5. ↵

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↵Preakness Picks: Big Brown to win. Does it really matter who comes in 2nd or 3rd? No, and here's why: For horse racing to maintain any mainstream traction after the Derby, we have a Triple Crown contender, which means the Derby winner MUST win the Preakness. At least this year, Big Brown seems to have a great shot. ↵

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↵The Last Word: I'm a Charles Barkley fan, like most everyone else. ↵

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↵But every time I hear another story about his runaway gambling problem, I seriously wonder if Barkley ever bet on NBA games -- including ones he played in. ↵

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↵As we saw with Pete Rose gambling on baseball, I find it hard to believe that Barkley was stronger than his addiction. The temptation to bet on a sport he knew would be too great. ↵

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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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