Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Sox the Vote

↵Today's Calls: Red Sox Nation vs. Rest of Nation, Kosuke Fukudome vs. Ryan Braun, Barry Bonds vs. the Hall of Fame, Baron Davis vs. Elton Brand, Beno Udrih vs. Ron Artest, NBA refs vs. the Army, Haley McGregory vs. Margaret Hoelzer and More! ↵

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↵The Opening Pitch: Red Sox Nation is shaming us all. MLB All-Star voting ends tonight at midnight, and if things progress as they have been, Red Sox will dominate the game at Yankee Stadium, and the night will be defined by fan jeers, rather than cheers. ↵

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↵If the balloting ended this morning, Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz would be starters. Jason Varitek only recently lost his lead at catcher to Joe Mauer. And J.D. Drew is putting up a final surge for the AL's third OF spot. That would make SIX Red Sox in the starting lineup, managed by Boston's Terry Francona. ↵

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↵I am torn: On the one hand, who wants to see (gag) SIX Red Sox starting in the All-Star Game? On the other, who wouldn't want to see the Yankees humiliated in their own hallowed home? ↵

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↵Here's where I net out: There's no question Manny and Ortiz will start; so keep the other guys currently leading (Youk, Pedroia); don't allow a rebound for Varitek and surge for Drew. (There are too many other worthy alternatives in the AL outfield.) Show Red Sox Nation that the Rest of the Nation won't be bullied. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, over in the NL, the most intriguing duel is the third OF spot, where Kosuke Fukudome is trying to hold off Ryan Braun, who is within 35,000 votes and closing fast. (While I have enjoyed the Japanese rookie sensation and the Cubs' success this season, I have voted for Braun, perhaps my favorite current MLB player.) ↵

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↵If Red Sox fans "Sox the Vote" and will their way to that six-pack, you won't get to complain if you didn't vote. So get to the polls. ↵

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↵Rays top Red Sox ... again: That would be 5-0 vs. Boston at the Trop and 2.5 games up in the AL East. ... Heroes: Matt Garza (7 IP, 0 ER, 5 H), spot closer Grant Balfour (1.1 IP, 3 K, 1 S), C Dioner Navarro (2 RBI). ... Quote: "We're not shocked to win a ball game." (Balfour) ... Attendance: 31K. ↵

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↵More MLB Instant History: Twins beat Tigers for 12th win in past 14 games. ... Matchup of the Night: Ervin Santana vs. Rich Harden, with the Angels winning late. ... Fantasy Stud: Matt Cain (8 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 10 K). ... Walkoff Winner: Seattle's Willie Bloomquist. ... Eye-Opener: Aaron Cook (CG shutout on just 79 pitches). ... Unsurprisingly, the MLBPA didn't like the way Shawn Chacon was released by the Astros. But is the union angry enough to choke someone about it? ↵

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↵Barry Bonds' 756 "asterisk" ball will be in the Hall of Fame: Amusingly, I got an e-mail blast yesterday from the Hall indignantly reporting that the ball WOULDN'T reside at the Hall, essentially because Marc Ecko is a jerk.* (* -- Not a direct quote.) Apparently, the sides figured something out. ↵

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↵Now, SHOULD the ball be in the Hall of Fame? Absolutely. It is as much of a piece of baseball history -- specifically its recent history -- as anything I can think of. It should be one of the Hall's most popular objects. ↵

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↵Chris Paul close to new deal with the Hornets: Its length is unknown (3 years? 4? 5?), but it will be at a substantial pay hike ($60M? 70? 80?). Once LeBron bolts in 2010, CP3 will be the guy all those snubbed suitors with massive cap room will wait a few years for. ↵

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↵NBA Free Agency: The Pacific Division is where all the fun is ... ↵

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↵*Baron Davis jumps to the Clippers: The L.A. native instantly gives the Clips, in this order: (1) Star sizzle; (2) Reason for Elton Brand to re-sign; (3) Vet partner for draft pick Eric Gordon; (4) Hope that the team can return to the playoffs. ↵

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↵*Warriors want Gilbert Arenas badly: Badly enough that they reportedly offered him a max deal to come back to Oakland. Given that the Wiz signed Arenas pal Antawn Jamison, I expect him to return to D.C. ↵

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↵(And looks like the Warriors do, too. Likely unable to get Gilbert, they are turning around on the Clippers and making an offer for Brand. Hmm, does Brand really fit the "on-court anarchy" profile of a Don Nelson team?) ↵

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↵*Beno Udrih re-signs with the Kings: OK, so maybe this isn't as big as Baron or Gil, but Udrih was arguably the top unrestricted FA PG on the market (Arenas doesn't count); the Kings enjoy the continuity. ↵

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↵*Ron Artest regrets NOT opting out: Unsurprisingly, it took less than a day for Ron-Ron to do a 180. When he stuck with the Kings, it was all happy talk; now, it's "yikes, what have I done?" ↵

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↵NBA hires a Ref Czar: Ronald Johnson, U.S. Army Major General and former head of the Corps of Engineers. Does that make Tim Donaghy the Bill Murray character from Stripes? (Or maybe Francis a.k.a. "Psycho.")
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↵PGA starts drug testing: All the cranks find this laughable, but I have always contended that pro athletes will seek any edge, particularly if they are on the periphery. I don't care whether you're in the NFL or baseball ... or golf. The cheating players are there; the only question is whether they are smart enough not to get caught. ↵

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↵CFB: Has JoePa picked his replacement? Penn State administrators can try to sidestep the issue -- or even bleat that THEY get to make that decision -- but we all know who calls the shots in Happy Valley. (By the way: Is this even news? Did you think that Paterno would let the school import some other team's coach? That's so ... Michigan.) ↵

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↵The Last Word: Haley McGregory and the agony of defeat. Monday, she was setting a new world record in the 100 back. From there, it went downhill. ↵

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↵Not only did Natalie Coughlin break that record in the very next heat, but Coughlin rebroke the world record again in last night's finals ... ↵

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↵... And then McGregory's high school chum Margaret Hoelzer edged McGregory for the coveted No. 2 spot by .21 seconds. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, Aaron Peirsol broke the WR in the men's 100 back. ↵

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↵(What? You're STILL not watching the U.S. Olympic swimming trials?) ↵

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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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