Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Mets, ChiSox Choking?

Today's Calls: Mets vs. Brewers, White Sox vs. Twins, Matt Millen vs. Plaxico Burress, Baron Davis vs. Amare Stoudemire, Hank Steinbrenner vs. Hank Paulson. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: The Mets are choking it away again. ↵

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↵As bad as last September was for Mets fans, at least it was a virtually unprecedented collapse — a once-in-a-generation free-fall. ↵

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↵This September, the Mets know exactly the kind of precarious position they are in, yet seem unable to do anything about it. ↵

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↵The latest twist (in the backs of their fans): Another loss to the Cubs — in 10 innings, with plenty of chances to have won the thing. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, the Brewers — who have been nearly as hapless as the Mets down the stretch — found a way to win, tying the N.L. Wild Card race. (I know the "way": CC on short rest! Pitch him every day!) ↵

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↵I'm not quite sure which team "deserves" the postseason spot more. Ideally, they finish tied after 162 and play it off for the playoffs. ↵

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↵(The natural pace to this dramatic ending of the season may be thrown off by bad weather in New York.) ↵Meanwhile, in the A.L. Central, the Twins took their second straight from the White Sox, closing the gap in the division to a half-game. ↵

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↵They play again tonight: If the Twins win, they are suddenly in first place heading into the final weekend; if they lose, they will still need the White Sox to choke it away in the weekend finale. ↵

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↵In the N.L. West, the D-backs are still fading, as they feel like they have been for the past month or so. The Dodgers clinched a tie for the division title, but it's all but over. ↵

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↵NFL: Matt Millen is finally fired, and the operative word is “finally.” That took WAY too long — to the point that even non-Lions fans wanted him ousted. (I wonder if Bill Ford Jr. is asking himself if he had said something three seasons ago, could this have ended seasons ago?) ↵

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↵Thus ends the career of arguably the worst front-office executive in the modern history of the NFL. Undoubtedly, Millen will land an incredibly cushy job analyzing games from the TV booth — where he was actually pretty good. It's hard to remember now, but he was. ↵

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↵Plaxico Burress suspended 12 days (which includes 1 game) for an unexcused absence: What an odd suspension length. But credit the defending champs from brooking no crap from their WR, even as they battle to repeat. ↵

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↵Brett Favre on gimpy ankle: Let's hope Eric Mangini takes a more clear-eyed view of his team than the Favre-freaks and won't hesitate to bench Favre if his injured ankle doesn't give the Jets the best chance to win. (Yes, even if it means breaking Favre's consecutive-games-started streak.) ↵

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↵More: How bad must Brady Quinn be if the Browns are sticking with Derek Anderson? I know Anderson is making a ton of money, but presumably the Browns are playing to win — and it seems they think Quinn can't help with that. ↵

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↵This is horribly distressing. The most heartfelt condolences to Matt Bryant and his family. ↵

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↵Must-Read: Mike Florio on Brett Favre and the Jets' paltry R.O.I. on their offseason moves. ↵

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↵Blog Roll: The 700 Level talks with Donovan McNabb. ↵

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↵CFB Tonight: USC at Oregon State. Please don't let USC fool you with their talking-up of the Beavers. The Trojans are just trying to get you to forget they are playing a puffy conference schedule. ↵

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↵CFB: The weekend's headliner? Alabama-Georgia , which will be the best measure yet of each other's strength this season. (Oh, and then there's the little matter of Georgia's "Black-Out" — and Bama's response.) ↵

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↵Meanwhile, the second-biggest GOTW is Illinois-Penn State; the Nittany Lions fans are planning for their traditional "White-Out." (If "Black-Outs" are for funerals, what are "White-Outs" for?) ↵

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↵BlogPoll Top 25: I was not the only one to rank LSU at No. 1. (Now, there were only two of us, but let's not dwell on details.) ↵

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↵Shoes: Michael Beasley will wear adidas, joining players like KG, Gilbert Arenas, T-Mac, Billups and Dwight Howard. It takes six? ↵

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↵Pop Culture: I have no problem admitting I am obsessed with the toddler-TV show "Yo Gabba Gabba" (and, yes, I have a toddler who watches, but he is almost beside the point). ↵

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↵My fandom of "YGG" and my fandom of sports came together yesterday when Amare Stoudemire made an appearance during a segment called "Dancey Dance Time." Here's the clip. (h/t: Awful Announcing) ↵

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↵NBA: It turns out Monta Ellis was injured in a "low-speed" moped accident. ↵

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↵Baron Davis is on Jenny Craig? I prefer Weight Watchers myself. The online interface is like managing a "fantasy-fatties" league. ↵

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↵The Last Word: It's hard to take Hank Steinbrenner seriously when he fairly criticizes MLB's division set-up and he talks about MLB revenue sharing as being un-American. His customers — the American taxpayers — are about to spend $700 billion of their own money to bail out the corporate equivalent of the Yankees. ↵

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↵To his point about giving playoff spots to the top four teams in each league: If he doesn't like the division system, then why not push to scramble the divisions — say, based on payroll — after every season? ↵

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↵I won't hold my breath. ↵

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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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