Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Final Vote Lobbying

Today's Calls: Evan Longoria vs. Jason Giambi, David Wright vs. Corey Hart, Barry Bonds vs. Arizona fans, Josh Hamilton vs. Frankie Rodriguez, Sixers vs. Clippers, Tony Stewart vs. Joe Gibbs, Brett Favre vs. Packers execs and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Vote Longoria. If you haven't voted yet for the MLB All-Star "Final Vote" (or even if you have), you have until 5 p.m. ET today to do a few things: ↵

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↵(1) Ensure that the best story in baseball gets the face of its franchise -- and the AL's top rookie -- into the game, holding off a challenge from New York's own Jason Giambi. ↵

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↵(2) Pull off an upset in the NL, helping Milwaukee's Corey Hart maintain his slim (and highly improbable) lead over David Wright. ↵

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↵(3) Pile on a new record for "Final Vote" voting, more than 33 million votes as of yesterday (last year's record was 23.2 million votes). ↵

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↵Maybe it's a spillover effect from the passion for voting created by our political primaries. Maybe it's how easy MLB is making it to vote. ↵

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↵Teams are getting smarter about marketing: The Yankees had "Support the 'Stache" at the Stadium yesterday for Giambi. The Giants and White Sox (arguably the most successful Final get-out-the-vote machine) created a "you-vote-mine" swap involving Aaron Rowand and Jermaine Dye. ↵

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↵But the core mission remains the same: Reward the Rays for their amazing first half by voting in their star, Evan Longoria. ↵

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↵Barry Bonds to join D'backs? Josh Byrnes doesn't rule it out. What a bold and smart move that would be for a (sub-.500) playoff contender with a few short-term "punch" problems. ↵

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↵They are one of only 2 MLB playoff contenders with fewer runs scored than allowed, which strikes me as precisely the kind of problem that Bonds would help to solve. ↵

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↵Frankly, I don't understand the "controversy." D'backs fans would love him, because he's theirs (just like the Giants fans did) and because he would make the D'backs a better team. ↵

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↵And as for the negative reaction from fans and media around the country? Um, who cares? Fans can boo and media can jeer the D'backs ... all the way into the playoffs. ↵

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↵MLB Instant History: Wild Walkoff Wednesday! In an epic clash, Josh Hamilton hits a walkoff HR off of K-Rod. ... The Yankees swept the Rays on Bobby Abreu's walkoff double. ... Miguel Cabrera's walkoff HR reminds fans why the Tigers traded for him. ... All-Star Watch: NL OF starter Alfonso Soriano out of the ASG. ... Unrelated: Lefties rule, apparently. ... ↵

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↵MLB Fantasy Watch: 13th win for Brandon Webb. ... 10th win for Carlos Zambrano (8 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 5K). Two HR for Carlos Quentin (20, 21); 22nd HR for Hanley Ramirez. ↵

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↵Best player in baseball? Josh Hamilton. At least, that's what the players say in this SN survey. Given that he wasn't even on the radar two years ago, this continues his remarkable ascension. ↵

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↵NBA Free Agency: Elton Brand signs his 5Y/$82M deal with Philly, headlining the "official" (and expected) part of the FA process. ↵

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↵Here's the question for Sixers fans: What are your new expectations for your team? ↵

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↵Making the playoffs in the East is a given. I think the expectation should be joining the Celtics and Pistons (and perhaps the Wizards) in the East's Top 4. ↵

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↵(Note how I don't include "winning the East." While that would be nice and Brand is a boost, I don't think most fans take it that far.) ↵

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↵Here's the big takeaway: At least the Sixers are competitive -- or, arguably more importantly, expected to compete. ↵

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↵(On the other end of the spectrum are the hard-luck Clippers, who lost both Brand and Corey Maggette. A week ago, they were all the rage for landing Baron Davis; now, they look like Lottery locks.) ↵

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↵Favre Watch: The Packers are still losing the perception game. Take yesterday: ↵

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↵Team execs keep insisting Favre doesn't want to un-retire. "I think down deep, that's exactly how he feels," said longtime chairman Bob Harlan. ↵

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↵Yes, I'm sure Favre -- who has already reportedly indicated he DOES kind of want to keep playing -- wants to hear the team speak for him. ↵

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↵All Pack fans want to talk about is Favre; all team execs want to do is forget about him; Favre seems to want to play. Something's gotta give. ↵

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↵And when it does -- and Favre does un-retire, as I predict he will, before July is over -- his old team will be the bad guys. ↵

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↵(Smartly, Aaron Rodgers is laying low. All those seasons of obscurity as Favre's backup obviously gave him a tolerance for it.) ↵

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↵Tony Stewart leaving Gibbs Racing: Tony knows -- better to own your own thing than be someone else's employee. Stewart/Gibbs was an incredible fit: They won 3 titles. Stewart put Gibbs on the NASCAR map; Gibbs gave Stewart a winning environment. ↵

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↵The question is whether Stewart has the temperament to be his own owner. Should be fun to find out. But I expect that the most successful (and ambitious) drivers will be watching Stewart closely to see if this is a template for them, too. ↵

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↵NBA Summer League: Beasley splits the difference between his brilliant debut and fizzle of a followup, with 17 and 8 (5/12 FG). ↵

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↵(Teammate and 2nd-round steal Mario "Superintendent" Chalmers continues to be the surprise star of the summer, with 23 points and 8 assists.) ↵

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↵Derrick Rose was a DNP with knee tendinitis (cue ominous music); Tyrus Thomas had a big game* with 25 (* -- as he should in the summer!) ↵

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↵More NFL: "Los Angeles Jaguars?" As a nouveaux Jags fan (and presumably they're happy to have me), the team's relocation following this rumored sale is not particularly appealing for me. ↵

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↵But the fact is, more fans locally seem to care about Florida-Georgia than Jacksonville-Whatever. ↵

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↵And for most NFL fans, the Jags remain buzz-less, if respected. That means they can move with very little consequence or outrage -- and that makes them a very appealing acquisition target. ↵

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↵CBB: The Brandon Jennings story isn't about Europe; it's about recognizing that the best way to develop as a pro prospect is to earnestly concentrate on a pro career, not cynically spend a year in college, where the focus isn't on a player's NBA development, but on maintaining a coach's job security. ↵

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↵More: UCLA AD head of NCAA Tournament committee. Comes one year too late for Arizona State fans. ↵

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↵CFB: West Virginia beats Rich Rodriguez. The 'Eers ex-coach and his new school will pay WVU $4 million for hiring him away. OK: Can we stop talking about this feud now? ↵

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↵More CFB: Is it really a surprise that you can't believe everything you read, whether it is in a newspaper, magazine, on TV or -- gasp -- on the Web? ↵

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↵The Last Word: Why is Trent Dilfer's retirement interesting? ↵

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↵Because in 2000, Dilfer became the poster guy for the theory that you don't need a spectacular QB like Brady or Manning to win a Super Bowl. ↵

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↵Dilfer might be a statistically mediocre QB, but he is a Super Bowl-winning QB, which puts him one step ahead of, say, Dan Marino. ↵

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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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