Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: All-Stars, Favre, More

Today's Calls: Corey Hart vs. Evan Longoria, Ryan Howard vs. Hanley Ramirez, Matt Jones vs. Foot Locker, Michael Beasley vs. Russell Westbrook, Tim Tebow vs. Thailand and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: MLB's "Final Vote" results were stirring, for two reasons: ↵

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↵(1) "New York" does not, in and of itself, matter to fans -- contrary to media conventional wisdom. How refreshing. ↵

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↵To win the NL spot, Milwaukee's Corey Hart defied what I could have sworn was a lock for New York hometown hero David Wright. ↵

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↵(The best part was when Hart's teammates rushed in on his vote-winning press conference to give him a beer shower -- not realizing, or caring, he had his toddler daughter on his lap.) ↵

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↵The Mets totally blew the p.r. game: Energizing fans with clever promotions is entirely how these Final Votes are won. ↵

↵(2) Fans should be trusted with the voting power to make big decisions on behalf of the game. ↵

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↵This is the "Evan Longoria Factor": Did Jermaine Dye have better stats? Yeah -- that, and the White Sox marketing staff doubles as a political campaigning machine worthy of the town they work in. ↵

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↵But fans recognized that the Rays are THE story of the season in baseball; the "face" of their franchise (not to mention MLB's top rookie this season) deserved a spot this season. ↵

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↵The biggest lesson: Populism works in sports, particularly with the new tools available online. Now, about that Baseball Hall of Fame selection process. ... ↵

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↵Ryan Howard's surge: For 1st-half MLB U-turns, it is hard to top Howard, whose awful spring start yielded a summer rebound, including yesterday's 2 HR, giving him a league-leading 27 in 2008. ↵

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↵More MLB Instant History: Here come the Mets, who have won 6 straight, are 4 games over .500 and just 1.5 GB in the NL East. ... ↵

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↵*All-Star: Is Matt Holliday the most deserving choice as an NL starting OF for Soriano? If his manager is in charge, yes. ... ↵

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↵*Reds smash: If your team hits 7 HR, you had better win. ... ↵

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↵*Hanley Ramirez cannot be stopped (career-high 5 H, 1 HR in FLA win over LAD). ... ↵

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↵*Indians snap 10G L streak, with a win over the Rays (who they have beaten in CLE 10 straight times). ... ↵

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↵*Maybe the D'backs need relief pitching, not Bonds: Lost 2R lead in 9th and 3R lead in 10th before finishing off the Nats in 11. ... ↵

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↵*Insult, injury in Seattle: Richie Sexson cut, Erik Bedard sent to DL. ... ↵

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↵*Fantasy Studs: Dave Bush (8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 13 K); Howie Kendrick (3-5, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R, BB) ↵

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↵Favre Watch: I'm not quite sure why Favre's brother calling his chances at return "50/50" and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan calling it "80 percent" when I've been saying for weeks that it is a virtual lock. (Now, do I base that on anything except a career of Favre-watching from my couch? No. But with Favre that is more than enough.) ↵

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↵NFL: "Foot Locker credit card" becomes the punchline of the summer. It is what Matt Jones was allegedly holding over a pile of coke when cops busted him and a few associates. Kicks, coke: Whatever. ↵

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↵Dilfer retiring, cont'd: To review: I would rather be the worst starting QB to ever win a Super Bowl than the best QB never to win one. ↵

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↵Jags not for sale? That's what owner Wayne Weaver says, but you would be forgiven if you didn't entirely believe him. ↵

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↵NBA Summer League: Orlando ends today, and with it, Beasley Mania. Last night, Beasley had 19 (8/16 FG) in a Heat win over Oklahoma City, matched by OKC's fellow rookie Russell Westbrook. ↵

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↵Today, focus shifts to Vegas, where almost every other team is playing. The Top 5 most intriguing rookies: (1) Danilo Gallinari; (2) OJ Mayo; (3) Kevin Love; (4) Joe Alexander; (5) Anthony Randolph. ↵

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↵Brandon Jennings Watch: I can only hope that Jennings' decision ultimately gets the NBA's age limit rescinded. At the very least, it is long overdue to embrace prep-to-pro players through the D-League. ↵

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↵The Last Word: The greatest photo of the summer, presented without need for further comment. ↵

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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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