Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Griffey, What If?

↵Today's Calls: Ken Griffey vs. History, Cliff Lee vs. Dontrelle Willis, Michael Strahan vs. Cedric Benson, Phil Jackson vs. the Refs, Tiger vs. Torrey, Roger Clemens vs. Viagra and More! ↵

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↵The Opening Pitch: Ken Griffey's entry into baseball's elite "600 Club" is overshadowed by his entry in the "What If?" Club. ↵

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↵As in: What if Griffey had remained healthy throughout his career? ↵
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↵We wouldn't be talking about 600. We would be talking about 800 -- or more. More importantly, we wouldn't be talking about Barry Bonds. Junior would be assuming his place as the greatest player in baseball history (not that ending up in the top 20 is all that bad). ↵

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↵ ↵There is something unique about Junior's career: Many of us were mere kids ourselves when the Kid made his MLB debut in 1989. We grew up as fans as he progressed through his career. He was instantly recognizable, near-instantly legendary -- and the enthusiasm with which he played made him accessible to younger fans. ↵

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↵(Remember the laughable "scandal" over Griffey wearing his hat backward during BP and Home Run Derbies?) ↵

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↵For me, his most memorable home run won't even count among the 600: It was the time he hit the warehouse at Camden Yards during the '93 Derby; that homer perfectly captured both the spirit with which he played the game -- and the 600-level power that he had. ↵

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↵Shoulda been 800, though. ↵

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↵MLB Instant History: Another night, another hero for the White Sox. This time, it was offseason import Nick Swisher who hit HRs from both sides of the plate. Now that's just showing off. ↵

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↵Suddenly a team that was in disarray just a week ago is the hottest team in baseball, having won seven straight, including this sweep of the Twins. ↵

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↵Pitching Stud and Dud: With the All-Star Game in sight, Cliff Lee hits 10 wins and has to be the prohibitive favorite to start for the AL (I would pick Scott Kazmir, btw). ... Oh, and in case it wasn't official before, Dontrelle Willis -- the face of baseball just a few seasons ago -- is awful (and getting booed). ↵

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↵Rays Bandwagon: Evan Longoria has his best game yet (3-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 4 R) in a Rays W over the Angels. (Dioner Navarro ain't bad either: HR and 4 RBI, and his HR came at the end of a back-to-back-to-back HR rally with Longoria and Willy Aybar against Joe Saunders.) ↵

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↵Michael Strahan retires: With a Super Bowl ring behind him and a lucrative TV career obviously ahead of him, why wouldn't he leave now? ↵

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↵He exits with one huge defensive record: Sacks in a season (22.5). ↵

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↵(Wait: Are we counting that one fraudulent "record-setting" sack that he and Brett Favre tag-teamed to perpetrate on NFL history?) ↵

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↵Bears cut Cedric Benson: Remember the good old days when off-field incidents netted a football player an endorsement deal? ↵

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↵T.O. misses a drug test: Don't put too much weight on T.O.'s placement in the NFL's accelerated "reasonable cause" drug-testing program; it happens automatically when you miss a test. It's funny: Of all the NFL athletes out there, T.O. is not one I am concerned is using PEDs. ↵

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↵NBA Finals: No one works the refs in the media like Phil Jackson, and Game 2's 38-10 free-throw discrepancy has given him all the fodder he needs. I guarantee you see a correction in L.A. for Game 3. (Conspiracy Caveat: If only because it is in the NBA's best interest for this not to be a quick series.) ↵

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↵NBA Finals TV Ratings: The good news is that Game 2 was up 52 percent over last year (which isn't saying much, given how all-time dreadful last season was). The bad news is that the audience wasn't close to Game 2 of the 2004 Finals, the last time the Lakers were in it. Now, four years is a long time in consumption trends, but still. ↵

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↵NBA Coaching Carousel: Vinny Del Negro to the Bulls (interestingly). ... Michael Curry to the Pistons (finally). ... Terry Porter to the Suns (unsurprisingly). ↵

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↵Gilbert Arenas opts out of his contract: Arenas is my favorite player and the Wizards are my favorite NBA team, so this naturally concerns me, despite the fact that fans knew it was coming and despite the fact that all signs point to the team re-signing him. ↵

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↵Gil has said that in order to keep him, he expects the team to re-sign Antawn Jamison, too, but Gilbert is just quirky enough that you never know: He could say, "Ah, why not: I'm going to go join the Celtics for the league minimum." (Aaack! The Wiz MUST get him back.) ↵

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↵Tiger plays 9 at Torrey Pines: Tiger would be the dominant story line at the U.S. Open -- even if he wasn't coming off knee surgery. Can he handle the grind of 72 over four days? And even if he can, can he do it at a winning level? I am skeptical -- a rare feeling about TW. ↵

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↵Pac-10 Commish Tom Hansen retiring: Hansen's lasting legacy is to be among the biggest obstructionists to a CFB playoff. ↵

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↵I'm sure it remains a test to get the job, but here's hoping that his successor feels less strongly attached to the Rose Bowl. Doubt it. ↵

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↵Euro '08: Netherlands upends Italy 3-0. Given the perennial underachievement of the Dutch in the World Cup and Euro events, for them to thrash the reigning World Cup champs is a big deal. However, the downside is that now expectations will be (and should be) huge. ↵

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↵iPhone and MLB: Announced yesterday, MLB's iPhone app that lets you see video highlights immediately after they happen is a game-changer. Let's hope the other leagues quickly follow suit. ↵

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↵Sports Media: Interesting roundtable on the relationship between blogs, fans and athletes, hosted by Ballhype and featuring a big-time panel: Leitch, Brooks, MDS, The Dirty guy, Steinberg, Miss Gossip. Worth a read. ↵

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↵The Last Word: Viagra is the new steroids. Check out today's New York Daily News, which reports Roger Clemens and a ton of other athletes (ab)used Viagra for so-called "off-label" purposes. Is nothing sacred anymore? ↵

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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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