Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Cassel-Palin '08

Today's Calls: Matt Cassel vs. Sarah Palin, Aaron Rodgers vs. Jay Cutler, Rays vs. Red Sox, Tim Lincecum vs. CC Sabathia, Lance Armstrong vs. Roger Federer and More.
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↵The Opening Pitch: Matt Cassel is the Sarah Palin of the NFL. ↵

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↵*Both were drafted after limited preparatory experiences. ↵

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↵*Both spent the last week of August mocked after minimal vetting. ↵

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↵*Both draw on the power of an enthusiastic, blindly supportive base. ↵

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↵*Both are carrying their teams' fortunes on their shoulders. ↵

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↵And this fall, suddenly to the point of whiplash, they are the two most pivotal figures in their respective sports -- football and politics. ↵

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↵Cassel-Palin '08! (Editor's note: Any and all political views expressed are those of Shanoff and Shanoff alone. Please don't send the rest of us hate mail.) ↵

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↵Tom Brady done for the season, officially: When the Pats end up making the playoffs anyway, I think we'll be calling this Bill Belichick's best coaching job ever. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, is it too early to wonder if this knee injury will wreck Tom Brady's career entirely, and not just his season? Oh, he might come back in '09, but will he ever be the same? ↵

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↵(CNBC's Darren Rovell has a must-read on the true fantasy implication of Brady's injury.) ↵

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↵MNF: Aaron Rodgers has earned himself a little relief from the critics and the griping. He was 18/22 for 178 yards (8.1 ypa), with a passing TD and a rushing TD. Plus he distinguished himself from Favre in one critical way: Zero INTs. All while beating the trendy pick to rule the NFC. ↵

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↵More MNF: Broncos roll behind Cutler's 299 yards -- and that was without Brandon Marshall. Fellow WR Eddie Royal joined the list of Fantasy Studs (9 rec, 146 yards, 1 TD). Meanwhile, um, perhaps Darren McFadden isn't quite this year's Adrian Peterson. ↵

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↵MLB Instant History: The Rays are imploding. ↵

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↵(1) Their 5-game lead 8 days ago is down to .5 over the Red Sox, who shut out Tampa last night. ↵

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↵(2) The Rays haven't scored in 18 innings and have lost 6 of their last 7 games. ↵

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↵(3) With 2 games to go at Fenway, the Red Sox haven't lost to the Rays there all season. ↵

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↵Time to panic? Not yet. But it's getting close. ... ↵

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↵More MLB: ↵

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↵*The Angels' magic number is 2, after they smashed the Yankees 12-1 (including a scuffle between Torii and Pudge). ↵

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↵In this dominant season by the Angels, it was their biggest rout of '08. LAA clinches the division tonight with a win plus a Rangers loss. ↵

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↵*For all my talk about "CC for Cy," if there was an NL Cy given for -- say -- a full season's worth of work, Tim Lincecum would have it locked up, racking up his 16th W last night (8.1 IP, 1 ER, 9 K, 2 BB). ↵

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↵*Billy Wagner isn't just out for the rest of the 2008 pennant race: Wagner is out for all of 2009, too. I think the Mets just became a contender to sign K-Rod away from the Angels. ↵

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↵*Hank Steinbrenner says Joe Girardi will be back in 2009: You mean even after he leads a team that hasn't missed the playoffs in 13 seasons to a 4th-place finish in the AL East? Really? ↵

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↵*Mark McGwire comeback? Hahahahaha. Were Cardinals fans that bored while waiting for the Cubs to get to town for tonight's series opener? ↵

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↵Lance Armstrong: The Comeback? Maybe he was inspired by (or jealous of) Michael Phelps. Maybe he feels like he's got something left in the tank -- or even something left to prove? Maybe he feels like all of the tough competitors were ousted by new drug-testing standards, opening the field to an old man. Unquestionably, Lance's return to racing would make the sport relevant again. ↵

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↵Roger Federer wins U.S. Open: Rafael Nadal may have displaced him (for now) as the No. 1 player in the world, but Roger will always have New York, where he has now won 5 straight Open titles. ↵

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↵Countdown to USC-Ohio State: With apologies to Matt Hayes, I don't think Jim Tressel is either clever or bold enough to use Terrelle Pryor in the ways Hayes presumes he will. ↵

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↵NASCAR: The Chase field is set. If you haven't been paying attention up until now, the names to know are Busch, Edwards and Johnson. Do any of the other 9 have a chance? From the myopic coverage of the Big Three, you wouldn't think so. Here's a look at the rest. ↵

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↵NBA Injuries: Kobe will finally have surgery on that right pinkie. The only question is how long it will keep him out and what kind of impact it may have on his game in this upcoming season. ↵

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↵NBA Trade Rumors: Z-Bo for Darko? Randolph would give the Grizzlies more interior scoring; Milicic would give the Knicks the ultimate towel-waver (and not a bad shot-blocker). ↵

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↵CBB: Don Haskins' death inspired lots of tributes. Mike DeCourcy's is a must-read. ↵

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↵The Last Word: Congratulations to Greg Lindsay, friend of the sports blogosphere, who made his "Jeopardy" debut on last night's season premiere. ↵

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↵Through a surge of MLB knowledge, a critical "Daily Double" score in early U.S. history and the ultimate chokery of the defending champ to his right, he won, earning more than $20,000 for his half-hour's work. ↵

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↵Sure beats journalism. ↵

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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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