Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Mix Sports And Politics?

Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Mix Sports And Politics? ↵Today's Calls: Sports vs. Politics, Red Sox vs. Yankee Stadium, Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady, SEC vs. Big Ten, Misty May-Treanor vs. Warren Sapp and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Do sports and national politics mix? I don’t think so. ↵

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↵It comes up every time they intersect -- for example, last night when Oregon State hoops coach Craig Robinson took the podium at the Democratic National Convention in prime time to introduce his sister, Michelle Obama. ↵

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↵Or when ESPN rolls out a feature with Barack Obama being interviewed by (sigh) Stuart Scott. (Most notably: Obama pledged his allegiance to the White Sox, even in the event of a Sox-Cubs World Series.) ↵

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↵ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵ ↵
↵(Via Awful Announcing) ↵ ↵

↵Now, I’m a political junkie -- probably in a similar way that political pundits secretly wish they were sports columnists. ↵

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↵But politics -- especially national politics, particularly in this era -- are anathema to sports fans. ↵

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↵They don’t want to hear about it. They don’t want to talk about it. They don’t want it sullying their sports experience. (Think of Rudy Giuliani pandering to Red Sox fans.) I hear that every time I try to bring it up -- even when I simply remind people to get out and vote. ↵

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↵Perhaps that’s because tensions run so high between the two sides, but I think it’s more likely because fans don’t want politics to infringe on what are perfectly earnest arguments between fellow fans. We can argue about a million things in sports and try to figure out who is right and who is wrong. ↵

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↵Just don’t make it about left and right. ↵

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↵Red Sox make their final trip to old Yankee Stadium: Nope, I just can’t get excited about it. Memories, yada-yada-yada, but it’s not like the Yankees are folding as a franchise (oh, if only). ↵

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↵If the Yankees sweep the series and close a 5-game gap for the AL Wild Card to 2 games, I might care what happens in the 3-game season finale at Fenway. ↵

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↵MLB Instant History: Individual “bad” losses will happen during a 162-game season, but the Twins losing on a walkoff HR to the Mariners while the White Sox were maintaining half-game leads (despite half-game losses) must be a tough one to take for Minnesota fans. ↵

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↵More: If a judge tosses out criminal charges against Barry Bonds, think a team will sign him for the September stretch? ... The D-backs will regret not being able to take more advantage of the Phils’ sweep of the Dodgers (and the Phils will regret not being able to gain on the Mets). ... Fantasy Stud: Kosuke Fukudome, with a career-high 4 RBIs in a Cubs rout. ... Milestone Watch: Grady Sizemore, the 14th AL player to make the 30-30 Club. ... Name to Know: Jericho Scott, the 9-year-old who throws 40 mph and has his kids’ league in a tizzy. ↵

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↵NFL Notes: Michael Strahan is the anti-Favre. As expected, the Giants want Michael Strahan back (and he should take them up on it). ... Chad Johnson might play now with that torn labrum, but he won’t make it to Week 17. ... Is Peyton Manning coming back today? They don’t really need him until, say, November. ... Speaking of returns, Tom Brady says he’ll be ready for the season opener. I don’t doubt it, but I see this as the season he finally loses multiple games to injury. ... Here’s how bad the Dolphins QB situation was -- Chad Pennington earned the starting job in about 2 weeks. ... Not that you truly care, but Ken Whisenhunt says the Cards QB job is still up for grabs. ... My own fantasy team has TWO players (MJD, CJ21) Bill Bender spotlights in his latest fantasy player rankings. ↵

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↵College Football ’08 Preview: The Top Games. ↵

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↵Aug. 30: Appalachian State at LSU ↵
↵Sept. 12: Kansas at South Florida ↵
↵Sept. 13: Ohio St. at USC ↵
↵Sept. 20: Florida at Tennessee ↵
↵Oct. 9: Clemson at Wake Forest ↵
↵Oct. 11: Texas vs. Oklahoma ↵
↵Oct. 18: Missouri at Texas ↵
↵Oct. 23: Auburn at West Virginia ↵
↵Nov. 1: Florida vs. Georgia ↵
↵Nov. 22: BYU at Utah; Texas Tech at Oklahoma ↵

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↵That doesn’t include the SEC and Big 12 title games, both held on December 6 and likely determining at least one BCS title-game team. ↵

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↵What are your most anticipated games? Put them in the Comments. ↵

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↵Coming later this week: The Heisman race (Wednesday), the title contenders (Thursday) and the top 10 (Friday). ↵

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↵CFB: trash talking. UCLA took out a full-page ad in the L.A. Times yesterday that said, “The Football Monopoly In Los Angeles Is Officially Over.” ↵

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↵And good for the Bruins! The last guy to talk trash to USC, Jim Harbaugh, waltzed into the Trojans’ house and pulled off the biggest upset in modern college football history. (H/T: FanHouse) ↵

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↵(Meanwhile, USC QB Mark Sanchez appears ready to go for the season opener at UVA. If he survives that, it might change my calculus for Ohio State’s chances of beating the Trojans in L.A. two weeks later.) ↵

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↵More CFB injury watching: No, I’m not really concerned about this. (In Week 3 vs. Tennessee? Yes. Now? Less so.) ↵

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↵Meanwhile, so much for the “SEC Network.” That would be, um, “ESPN,” because $2.25 billion guaranteed is worth more than the uncertainty that comes with a start-up. The SEC’s core competency is football; ESPN’s core competency is the distribution of football -- this is a good match for both teams. With a vested business interest in the conference, maybe Kirk Herbstreit will be less anti-SEC now. ↵

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↵(Oh, and the Big Ten Network gets a big-time boost with Time Warner Cable. College football on TV is big business, people.) ↵

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↵NASCAR: Joey Logano will drive Tony Stewart’s No. 20 car for Gibbs Racing next season. It’s a big deal: With the “dynamic” (read: volatile) Stewart, No. 20 Home Depot car had become one of the most iconic in NASCAR history. As NASCAR’s “next big thing,” Logano is the perfect fit to take over. ↵

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↵Tennis: U.S. Open begins. I neglected to make a prediction yesterday. The trendy pick is Rafael Nadal (who cruised yesterday), but I’m saying Roger Federer makes something close to his Last Stand, coming away with a title. (Oh, and no matter how early it is in the tournament, no one entertains at the Open like James Blake.) ↵

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↵Golf: If Tiger is already hedging about playing in Dubai next January, I think his 2009 season is going to get off to a much later start than anyone thinks -- could his first tournament end up being the Masters? That would certainly ratchet up the drama. ↵

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↵Horse Racing: Kentucky bans steroids. What the heck are the trainers going to do now? Turn to the horse equivalent of untraceable HGH, I guess. Like baseball, if everyone is doing it and everyone stops, then they’ll all regress together; only the stopwatch will notice. ↵

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↵Sports Crime: Ah, Blake Griffin -- you can’t find a bathroom to duck into? You’re only the most easily recognizable celebrity in town. ↵

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↵Delaware Mania: Continuing an interesting week for the state -- which earned a Vice Presidential nominee over the weekend – prep star Elena Delle Donne is staying home, although in an unexpected way. ↵

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↵The nation’s top girls’ high school hoops player spurned her commitment to UConn at the 11th hour, and she will now transfer to Delaware, where she will play ... volleyball? She hates hoops that much, hunh? ↵

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↵More Sports and Politics: Phil Jackson advised his alma mater, North Dakota, to “do the right thing” about its nickname (“Fighting Sioux”) and consider an alternative. Hopefully, the school and its alums will listen to him. ↵

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↵The Last Word: Given the massive success rate of athletes on “Dancing With the Stars", it is always worth noting which athletes join the field for the new season: ↵

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↵Misty May-Treanor, fresh off Olympic gold in beach volleyball, brings some immediate star power; sprinter Maurice Greene lacks the Q-rating, but it’s easier to win when your pro partner is female. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, Warren Sapp is the most intriguing entrant: An oversized personality with remarkably light feet, he’s the size of Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith put together. ↵

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↵(Less interesting: Professional fame-seeker Kim Kardashian, whose ties to sports are as Reggie Bush’s fiancee.) ↵

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↵Prediction of a winner: Lance Bass. ↵

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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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