The Opening Pitch: Dateline -- Las Vegas. 3 a.m. local time.
It's a very special Wake-Up Call today: I am filing from Las Vegas. Ostensibly, I am here for the 2.0 version of the "Blogs With Balls" sports-media conference. Later today, I will be moderating a panel on "The Future of Sports Media" (follow along at Twitter hashtag #bwblv).
But there is something else going on here, and I'm going to 'fess up:
This is my first trip ever to Vegas. (Yes: Ever.)
Among sports fans -- particularly my age -- that makes me the rough equivalent of "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." You've never been to Vegas? It comes up more often than you'd think.
Mrs. Wake-Up Call and I arrived last night -- I immediately recognized that the 3-hour time difference with the East Coast would mean that my own personal "wake-up call" at the fantastic Wynn (no, they didn't incent me to say that) would be ... yawn ... yeah, early.
Of course, old hat for you Vegas vets but novel for me, sports gambling is legal here. And so, en route on the flight, I was getting settled in for the Boise State-Tulsa game and I thought "If I was at the sports book right now, I would totally bet on Tulsa," which was an 8-point underdog at home.
Four hours later, after pushing back a ridiculously delicious steak dinner at Prime (again: unsolicited endorsement!), I saw that Boise State won ... by 7. My Tulsa bet coulda-woulda-shoulda paid off.
I think I'm going to like it here. Hmm: Cincy favored by only 2.5 at South Florida ...?
• ALCS: Yankees over Angels in 6 (Full preview here)
• NLCS: Phillies over Dodgers in 6 (Full preview here)
LCS Tonight: NLCS Game 1 in L.A. We've seen this movie before. Last year, the Dodgers had added Manny (didn't help); this year, the Phillies have new addition Cliff Lee. Advantage: Philly. (Cole Hamels pitches tonight. Presume he's more focused as a new dad than as a nearly dad.)
Rush vs. NFL, Cont'd: It's over. Limbaugh is out of the potential ownership group. You may return to not caring about who owns the St. Louis Rams (unless you live in L.A. and anticipate the Rams returning to town, depending on the owner).
CFB Thursday Night: Cincinnati at South Florida. Must-see game. Cincy has been in my Top 5 for weeks, and this would be another quality win -- on a national stage -- en route to an unbeaten season. Two years ago this week, USF was the unbeaten sensation of the country -- right up until the Bulls were tripped up on a Thursday night by Rutgers. Pick: Cincinnati.
Top 25 Last Night: Boise survives at Tulsa. Still undefeated, but you have to wonder if voters will punish Boise for not winning with those proverbial "style points." That was the toughest game left on Boise's otherwise sorry schedule. No reason to think that they will go undefeated -- then again, 20 teams could go undefeated playing Boise's schedule.
(As Oregon continues to impress, Boise will continue to get credit for that season-opening win; if they played that game today, on a neutral field, Boise would lose. BSU benefited from some very fortunate scheduling. The first week of a new season -- of a new coach, in Oregon's case -- with home-field advantage is the moment to spring an upset.)
Crabtree Watch: Why do I have this feeling that he is going to have some kind of breakout debut? (Braylon Edwards obviously made an impression on me on Monday night.)
Remember how Brandon Marshall wanted out of Denver? Now he's not only still there, but in line for a nice fat raise for his efforts. "And-oh" -- as in "5-0" -- cures basically everything.
NBA Preseason: Jerseys that say "Rip City" on them? WANT. ... Kevin Durant continues to seem to be motivated by the plus-minus argument (plus-9, 30 pts, Thunder beat Heat). ... Player of the Night: Blake Griffin (23 pts in 29 min, Clips beat Spurs).
SN NBA Countdown: No. 14 Suns. Remember when the Suns were the poster kids for the Free Darko philosophy? Shoals would like to tell you that now? Meh.
Must-Read: Dan Levy, defending Bud Selig?
The Last Word: "It just seems like now if we don't get 30 yards (on a rush), we just go away from it. I've never been a part of a team like that." -- Maurice Jones-Drew, ripping the Jaguars' offensive play-calling and describing himself as the league's "2nd-highest paid ... decoy." Fantasy GMs who drafted you feel your pain, MJD!
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. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff.
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