Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Bee Trumps NBA

↵Today's Calls: Bee vs. NBA, Ray Allen vs. Celtics fans, Spurs vs. Refs, Carlos Quentin vs. Chase Utley, Matt Garza vs. Erik Bedard, Tank Johnson vs. Roger Goodell, Joey Dorsey vs. John Paxson, Floppers vs. David Stern and More! ↵

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↵The Opening Pitch: The toughest sports competition of the year is happening today and tomorrow: The National Spelling Bee. ↵

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↵Make no mistake: There is no greater sports pressure -- not a two-minute drill on the wintry road in the NFL playoffs, not an NBA series-clinching buzzer-beater, not a 10-foot putt on 18 to beat Tiger on Masters Sunday -- than advancing in the Bee. ↵

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↵Or, more precisely, TO be: ↵

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↵To be an awkward middle-school kid (already the roughest age of anyone's life). ... To be probably the biggest smarty-pants in school (certainly the most compulsively driven). ... And to be on national TV (when even a single missed letter can cost you everything). ↵

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↵That is pressure. ↵

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↵As the kids start the two-day hybrid of the roughest stage of the Tour de France, facing the final three batters in a potential perfect game and 30 seconds in the octagon with Kimbo Slice, consider that they are just ... kids. ↵

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↵It makes the competition all the more amazing. ↵

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↵Bee Picks: Three-year Bee vet Kavya Shivashankar is the favorite (via Bee-obsessed blog Throwing Things), although my personal rooting interest is in 8-year-old Sriram Hathwar, the youngest competitor in Bee history. He's in the second grade! ↵

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↵Celtics top Pistons in Game 5: I hope this game finally gets Celtics fans off Ray Allen's back. Throughout the playoffs, their fair-weather fandom of the third wheel of the Big Three has been one of the more appalling displays of throwing a guy under a bus. ↵

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↵Hopefully, Allen's 29 points and a series-/season-saving 20-foot dagger in the game's final minute to lead the C's to a damn-near-must-win will stave off the complainers for at least a little while. ↵

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↵(If they want to gripe, how about the fact that the Celtics nearly choked away the game despite an 8-point lead with under 3 to play -- or up 13 at the start of the fourth quarter?) ↵

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↵The Pistons have to be kicking themselves for not being able to take that fourth-quarter momentum and steal a win in Boston. Next, the series goes back to Detroit in what will most likely be a Pistons win, setting up an end-all-be-all Game 7. ↵

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↵NBA admits that the refs missed the call at the end of the Lakers-Spurs' Game 4: Oh, great. That doesn't really help the Spurs, now does it? I'm sure the NBA is really unhappy the Lakers have the series -- and a trip to The Finals -- all but locked up. ↵

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↵MLB Instant History: Erik Bedard has his best game as a Mariner (7 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 8 K in Seattle's 1-0 win over Boston). ... Jay Bruce Watch: 1-3 with 1 R and 2 BB (must be fun to go to Reds games; they have won nine straight at home). ... Finally, something inspiring for the Mets: A walk-off win in 12 over the Marlins. ... Chase Utley: HR No. 17. ... Rays Bandwagon: Matt Garza trade continues to pay off (8 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 10 K, 4th W), although less than 11,000 fans were there to see it. ... Case for Carlos Quentin for AL MVP: 3 RBIs in a 6-5 White Sox win over the Indians. ... Roy Halladay goes 8 to earn a nip-and-tuck W over the A's. ↵

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↵Jose Guillen rants about the Royals, after KC lost its 10th straight game, giving up a five-run lead late to the Twins: ↵

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↵"Too many babies here ... They don't know how to play the game and win the game right, the way it's supposed to be played. And that's the problem here. Now I know why this organization's been losing for a while. Now I know." ↵

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↵(The quote had more obscenities in it, but they were edited out.) ↵

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↵One Thing to Know About the Stanley Cup Finals: The Penguins still have their pride, avoiding a 3-0 hole with a 3-2 win back home in Pittsburgh, including two goals from Sidney Crosby to end the Pens' scoring drought. ↵

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↵NBA Draft: Beasley over Rose? There is a lot of speculation that John Paxson has decided on Michael Beasley over Derrick Rose (much of it driven yesterday by Rose's teammate Joey Dorsey), but (a) Paxson denies it, (b) regardless of what is said (or he says), it's all subterfuge until late June anyway, and (c) WHAAA??? ↵

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↵Hawks hire Rick Sund as GM: The Sonics dumped Sund in favor of innovative wunderkind Sam Presti; any struggling/"rising" team that doesn't hire an innovator is making a huge mistake. It must be deflating to Hawks fans that their team turned to a GM retread. ↵

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↵(More deals: Byron Scott gets a much-deserved contract extension. Apparently, Gregg Popovich is getting one, too. It goes without saying that Pop has earned HIS extension.) ↵

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↵NFL: Will Roger Goodell reinstate Pacman Jones? Tank Johnson was lobbying for it ("Roger, please, let him play!"), but I'm not sure Johnson is the right guy to be lobbying the commissioner. Does Tank think he has credibility because he was Pacman before Pacman was Pacman? Somehow, I don't think Goodell will put much stock in that. ↵

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↵Sports Blogs: The bloggers at Mets Geek are getting some pub for "changing allegiances" to the Rays (the blog is now known as Rays Geek). Great marketing gimmick. (One obvious downside: Given the Rays' attendance, the "switch" likely won't improve the blog's traffic.) ↵

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↵The Last Word: The NBA is going to fine players for flopping? Here's the question: Will it reduce the flops? No. Because here's the dirty secret: Flops work. ↵

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↵If refs give the flopper the call and the team that gets flopped on is penalized in the game, it's worth a fine -- especially in critical situations. ↵

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↵Now, if the league would add flopping as a replay-reviewable event (even as a coaches' challenge), now THAT would be something. ↵

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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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