Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Phelps, Liu, Bolt, More

Today's Calls: Michael Phelps vs. Liu Xiang, Usain Bolt vs. ↵Shelly-Ann Fraser, Joe Nathan vs. Johan Santana, Brett Favre vs. Matt Ryan, Chad Johnson vs. Brandon Marshall, Joe Gibbs vs. Carl Edwards and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: "Greatest Olympian Ever?" I find it so funny THAT is the debate people think is worth having over Michael Phelps. ↵

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↵Phelps is so far beyond that, into the rarified air of whether he is the greatest athlete of all time. ↵

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↵It's a touchy subject: People don't want to tread on hallowed athletes from previous eras -- your Thorpe, your Owens, your Jordan. I'm content to accept what we have seen with our own eyes: ↵

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↵Unprecedented dominance (sprinkled with telegenic gut-check finishes) by a genetic freak at the highest level of competition and the most media pressure any athlete has ever been under. ↵

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↵And your challenger to that would be ... ? (Exactly.) ↵

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↵Michael Phelps is the greatest athlete of all time. It might offend you to recognize that mere hours after he officially qualified for the honor, but it is far more cynical to deny it than to embrace it. ↵

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↵(And, yes, I am going through "Phelps withdrawal" -- though probably not nearly as much as NBC -- although I will not miss those late nights to follow him live.) ↵

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↵Liu Xiang shocker: He's out of the 110m hurdles before they ever really start, pulling out of the qualifying race with a hamstring injury and, in the process, crushing the hopes and dreams of a billion people. You cannot fathom the scale of disappointment. ↵

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↵Usain Bolt is World's Fastest Man: And he wasn't even trying. ↵That's what made his 9.69 all the more remarkable -- he spent the final 15 meters preening, yet still broke the world record. ↵

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↵His showboating doesn't bother me in the least: He was entirely correct to note that he came to the Olympics to win a gold, not break the world record (which he can apparently do any old time). ↵

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↵Meanwhile, Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser joined Bolt as the gold winner in the 100 (and two countrywomen tied for silver), giving the country the rare title "World's Fastest Vacation Destination." ↵

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↵There was no more disappointing result than Dara Torres missing out on gold by .01 seconds. ↵

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↵MLB Instant History: How about Joe Nathan for AL Cy if the Twins win the AL Central? His clutch 8th and 9th (for Save No. ↵33) ensured the Twins kept pace with the White Sox. ... ↵

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↵*Manufactured Drama of the Year: Will Jeter pull a Favre? ↵

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↵*Confirming the Mets paid all that money to Johan Santana so he wouldn't leave games in the hands of the bullpen. ... ↵

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↵*Unless it's the playoffs, a poor outing by Josh Beckett isn't going to worry me. ... ↵

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↵*Fantasy Stud: Roy Oswalt (8 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 10 K, W). ... ↵

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↵*Walkoff Watch: Andre Ethier (HR), all the sweeter for putting the Dodgers back in a tie for 1st. ... ↵

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↵*Jeff Kent does yet another thing to endear himself: "Vin Scully talks too much." ... ↵

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↵*Making History: R.A. Dickey ties an MLB record with 4 WPs in a single IP (only the 5th ever to do it -- sort of like the 600-HR Club of errant pitching). ... ↵

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↵*MLB meets Weather Channel: So the only thing that can derail the Rays at this point is ... bad weather? ↵

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↵NFL Weekend's Top Storyline: As it turns out, following Brett Favre on the field after the trade (Did you hear? He threw for a TD!!!) might be even more annoying than following him off the field before. ... ↵

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↵More: Injuries and QB battles. Anytime Chad Johnson is injured (shoulder), it is a moment to wonder if karma is the DB. ... Bucs QBs solid: Hey, who needs Brett Favre, anyway? ... Hmm: ↵Maybe Matt Ryan isn't the QB you thought he was. ... Doesn't anyone want to be QB of the Ravens? ... Oh, I am SO close to getting my Rex Grossman jersey off the bargain rack. ... ↵

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↵Dynamic of the Weekend: Brandon Marshall beating Adam Jones. ... ↵

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↵NFL Tonight: Browns at Giants, and Eli may go up to 25 plays. ... ↵

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↵NASCAR: Cheating rules. It's so funny to me that cheating in baseball or football or the Olympics raises such hackles, while cheating in NASCAR – far more endemic and pervasive – is laughed off as part of the sport. I'd like to figure out what part of Joe Gibbs' worldview condones cheating. (Meanwhile: Carl Edwards!) ↵

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↵CFB: Georgia tops the AP preseason poll, and I'm wondering if voters did or didn't take into account the injury to UGA's LT. (But it really doesn't matter: The Ohio State-USC winner will vault over UGA into the No. 1 spot no matter what the Bulldogs do.) ↵

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↵NBA: I'm not sure there is a more exciting European export from the NBA than Shawn Kemp, making a comeback in Italy. I want a Shawn Kemp-Brandon Jennings reality TV series, narrated in Italian by Kobe. ↵

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↵Women's Hoops: At the last minute, top prep recruit Elena Delle Donne has decided NOT to play for UConn. You know what would be amazing -- and entirely in the spirit of the moment? If she spent a year playing in Italy, then petitioned the WNBA for early entry. (Come on: Do it!) ↵

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↵The Last Word: The biggest winner of these Games? Debbie Phelps. In the span of a week, she has turned herself into America's Mom. She's adorable. She seems totally normal. She gives great reaction shots. She raised the Greatest Athlete Ever. What more could you ask for? ↵

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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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