Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Kobe, Webb, More

↵Today's Calls: Kobe vs. the Spurs, Brandon Webb vs. Bartolo Colon, Joba Chamberlain vs. Sidney Ponson, Ryan Howard vs. Mario Mendoza, USC vs. the NCAA, Man U vs. Chelsea and More! ↵

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↵The Opening Pitch: It is very possible that the Spurs used up all of their road mojo this week winning that Game 7 in New Orleans on Monday. ↵

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↵Instead, the mojo ↵was clearly with Kobe Bryant, who jump-started the Lakers in the 2nd half -- down 20 with under 6 minutes to play in the 3rd quarter -- and who scored 14 points in the fourth -- one more than the Spurs as a team -- to wipe out a 7-point deficit and give L.A. the huge Game 1 win. ↵

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↵Thus the West playoffs return to form: The home team wins. But it is a long series, and we already know that the only road win that matters for the Spurs comes at the end, not the start. ↵

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↵Brandon Webb finally loses, his first loss in 10 starts to open the season, a remarkable streak that had some (um: me) whispering "30 wins." This loss quickly reminds that "30" is untouchable in this era -- but 25 is still very much on the table. ↵

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↵MLB Instant History: Bartolo Colon is the new Brandon Webb, earning a win in his first start of the season (a modest 5 IP with 4 K, 2 BB, 2 ER, 6 H). But the Red Sox rule even more for snagging him in the offseason, like the dorky-yet-savvy GM in your fantasy league who just keeps making all the right moves. ↵

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↵More MLB: Joba Chamberlain is going to start, and last night was the start of preparing him for that start, with an exaggerated (for him) 2 IP. And look at that: His arm didn't fall off! (Hey, this time A-Rod's HR was part of a Yankee W). ... Fantasy Stud: Sidney Ponson (yes: Sidney Ponson!), who is 3-0 after last night's CG and who might even still be available in your league. ... 6-Win Club: Braden Looper. ... Even 2 HR couldn't nudge Ryan Howard over the .200 BA mark (his .443 SLG just cracks the Top 50 in the NL). ... Vlad Guerrero and Jermaine Dye each had 2 HR leading their teams to Ws. ... Thankfully, Chris Young taking a comebacker to the face from Albert Pujols only yielded a broken nose (and a lot of blood). ... If Willie Randolph was winning, he could say whatever he wants without apology. ↵

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↵Roger Clemens Watch: I have low expectations about Mindy McCready's new documentary -- except the parts where she hopefully sheds some light on her entirely inappropriate relationship with Clemens. Don't expect the Rocket on the red carpet premiere. ↵

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↵About OJ Mayo, USC pulls a Sergeant Schultz: "Vee know nuttink!" See, here is where it gets interesting: ↵

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↵Should USC have known? Absolutely: Mayo was their star player, a guy whose "recruiting" was so sketchy that it was negligent for USC not to have been totally aware of who Mayo was hanging out with. ↵

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↵(And it appears they were: They banned Mayo's buddy Rodney Guillory from receiving tickets to games.) ↵

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↵That "should" is at the heart of the dreaded accusation of "lack of institutional control." Schools can't simply hide behind "We didn't know," which goes double when it comes to their star players. ↵

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↵The NCAA should punish USC for NOT knowing, just as much as they would have punished them FOR knowing. In USC's case, they are even trying to have it both ways -- that's probably worth double the punishment. ↵

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↵NFL: Is Jason Taylor done with the Dolphins? The execs seem to be talking that way, and Taylor made it clear he won't be participating in anything before training camp -- including last weekend's "voluntary" mini-camp (that everyone attended but Taylor). ↵

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↵The Fins have every right to be annoyed: Through his choices (rather than paying attention to his empty lip service), Taylor has declared that football is a distant second to his career as a celebrity. Taylor should take a tactic from Tiki and just walk away. ↵

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↵More NFL: The double-standard about steroids in the NFL continues. If this story was about baseball, mainstream sports media would be going nuts right now. ↵

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↵Let's all at least acknowledge that the reason PEDs don't move the needle in the NFL is because most fans already presume that the league is saturated with them. ↵

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↵With the Stanley Cup about to start, congrats to the NHL on making the most of its status as a "niche" sport. (This column illustrates everything nicely.) The NHL needs to prove it can sustain this kind of momentum, but it certainly provides a template for other leagues heading for "niche" status (like the NBA). ↵

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↵NBA Draft: John Paxson should be ignored, if only for providing the blindingly obvious "news" that the Bulls' choice is between Rose and Beasley. Why not make it spicy and declare one ahead of the other? ↵

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↵Champions League champion: Man U. Unfortunately, it came on penalty kicks, which is somewhat exciting, but not nearly as appealing as seeing a team win it within the flow of normal play on the field. ↵

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↵(With the kicks at 4-4, Chelsea had a chance to clinch behind captain John Terry, whose shot hit the post, with Man U keeper Edwin van der Sar going the other way, a miss that will haunt Chelsea fans.) ↵

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↵Sports Media: Erin of Ballhype has the definitive interview with Batting Stance Guy, who is having a break-out season as the latest online-sports sensation. (Here is his must-see YouTube channel.) ↵

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↵The Last Word: "American Idol" has restored my faith in humanity. I was sure that teen song-bot David Archuleta would beat out my man (and avid KC Royals fan) David Cook for the title. ↵

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↵Instead, Cook ran away with a rout, affirming his place -- in my opinion -- as the most talented Idol contestant of all time (and the greatest competitive success to happen for the Royals since 1985). ↵

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↵Meanwhile, my only complaint was that because the show ran long, my DVR cut off the show just as Ryan Seacrest uttered "David ... Cook!" I missed all the celebration. ↵

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↵(Conspiracy theory: The cut-off was a little too clean. I think Idol did that on purpose, to show me and my fellow DVR addicts that "live" TV still rules.) ↵

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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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