Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: What's in a Name?

↵Today's Calls: Pistons vs. the East, Roger Clemens vs. John Daly, Jack Cust vs. Nick Adenhart, A.J. Burnett vs. Troy Tulowitzki, Wings vs. Avs, Pat Fitzgerald vs. Troy Aikman and More! ↵

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↵The Opening Pitch: There are a couple ways to pick a Kentucky Derby winner. ↵

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↵You could, say, know something -- or anything -- about horse racing. (SN's Brad Telias and The New York Times' Joe Drape like Pyro.) ↵

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↵Or, like me, you could just go with the name that intrigues you the most. It's the What's Happening!! method of predictions: Remember the classic episode when Dwayne made a killing betting on the NFL based on helmet designs? It's like that. ↵

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↵Anyway, Big Brown is the odds-on favorite at 3-1, but that name's pretty bland -- like a UPS truck. ↵

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↵If you like the NBA (or are a lawyer), Court Vision (20-1) has to be your horse. (Not to be confused with Visonaire (20-1).) If you're from a rural area, try Cowboy Cal (20-1). ↵

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↵I don't know what to make of Z Fortune (15-1) and Z Humor (30-1) except to say that Zayat Stables needs to get over themselves. ↵

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↵Recapturetheglory (20-1 and, yes, all one word) has some appeal; who hasn't seen their best days behind them? ↵

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↵Cool Coal Man and Bob Black Jack (both 20-1) have their mellifluous linguistic flows, if you just like the way a name sounds. ↵

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↵My personal system? Make it personal: In 2006, I picked a then-obscure horse named "Barbaro," because it was the name of one of my closest friends. Worked out nicely, I'd say. (Maybe you know someone named "John," in which case Colonel John is for you, especially at 4-1.) ↵

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↵This year, despite 50-1 odds that make him the longest shot in the field, I'm picking Big Truck on behalf of my 2-year-old son, who is currently obsessed with trucks. ↵

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↵Win: Big Truck
↵Place: Cool Coal Man
↵Show: Court Vision
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↵NBA Playoffs: The Sixers are finished, and the Pistons must be pretty encouraged by what they are seeing from the Celtics (or even the Cavs). The Pistons will have to get through the Magic first, though. ↵

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↵The Cavs, Celtics and Jazz can each wrap their series up tonight in 6, but only Utah will be playing in front of a home crowd. ↵

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↵Roger Clemens is the gift that keeps on giving: John Daly's ex-wife, Paulette Dean Daly? Really? Oh, and it looks like the FBI is still actively investigating the story Clemens told to Congress. Quite a couple of banner weeks for the Rocket. ↵

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↵MLB Instant History: Wild mood swings from two big intra-division series ... ↵

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↵*Brewers edge Cubs: Coming off Wednesday's 19-5 pounding, the Brewers won the series thanks to a three-run 9th inning rally capped by Ryan Braun's two-RBI double. ↵

↵(Net result of the three-game slugfest? The Cardinals are in first in the NL Central. But the Cubs are only half a game behind and the Brewers only one game behind that.) ↵

↵*A's rout Angels: After winning the series opener 14-2, then losing the next two games 2-0 and 6-1, the A's came back to earn a split with a 15-8 drubbing Thursday. (Cust: 4/4, HR, RBI, 3 R, 2 BB) ↵

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↵(Net result of the split? Nothing, really: The two teams remain tied for first in the AL West -- but tied for the best record in the AL, too. If they both make the playoffs, who can complain?) ↵

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↵Rookie Watch: Nick Adenhart. Rough start for the Angels' top pitching prospect, who made it through only two innings before being roughed up for five earned runs and five walks. When your age (21) is less than your ERA (22.50), you're in a lot of trouble. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, Tigers at Yankees seemed so tantalizing a month ago; both teams entered May under .500. That said, the Tigers earned their first three-game sweep at Yankee Stadium since 1966. ↵

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↵(Watch out: Detroit has pulled within one game of .500, putting it only 1.5 GB of first place in the AL Central. Not bad for a team whose season "ended" a couple of weeks into the season because of that atrocious start.) ↵

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↵Fantasy Stud: A.J. Burnett, who went 7.2 innings with no earned runs, 5 Ks an only 3 H in a win over the Red Sox that the struggling Blue Jays really had to have. ↵

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↵Injury Watch: Troy Tulowitzki. His once-promising sophomore season is now tabled until after the All-Star break because he tore a tendon in his quad. Ouch, on many counts. ↵

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↵One Thing To Know About the NHL Playoffs: The Avs seemed to give up. Down 0-3 to the Red Wings and playing Game 4 Thursday in Denver, they lost 8-2, including a hat trick for Johan Franzen. ↵

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↵Great news to find out Sean Avery's condition is improving, though he remains in intensive care ... ↵

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↵CFB Hall of Fame: Did you know that Northwestern once had a player named national Defensive Player of the Year ... twice in a row? Congrats to Pat Fitzgerald, one of 15 CFBHOF honorees in this year's class, which also includes Lou Holtz and Troy Aikman. For those of you whose memory goes back a little further, there's Billy Cannon. ↵

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↵What a crazy story about Tennessee's Chris Lofton being treated for testicular cancer that he found out about after the 2007 NCAA Tournament. It makes his senior season all the more remarkable. ↵

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↵The Last Word: Remember when Tim Montgomery was the "Fastest Man Alive?" Now he's being busted for heroin distribution. He may be fast, but he can't outrun the law. ↵

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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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