Shanoff's WUC: A-Rod, CC, Greinke, Spitballs

Today's Calls: A-Rod vs. History, CC Sabathia vs. Zack Greinke, Mariano Rivera vs. the Spitball, Jay Cutler vs. Brady Quinn, Jimmy Clausen vs. Tony Pike, Magic vs. Cavaliers, Jim Tressel vs. Terrelle Pryor and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Anyone remember the old, "chokey" A-Rod? Anyone? ↵

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↵We are witnessing as radical a reputation makeover as we have seen in sports in recent memory. Peyton winning a Super Bowl? No one ever thought he wouldn't. KG winning an NBA title? His carpet-baggery diminished it, relative to A-Rod; KG went through no struggle in Boston. ↵

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↵With A-Rod, he had years -- years -- of being clobbered in New York: An all-time great, sure, but ultimately a loser. He's a choker. He's no Jeter. ↵

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↵If A-Rod in the ALDS broke his own personal curse, the ALCS has been A-Rod taking out a career's worth of playoff frustration on the world. ↵

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↵Last night's home run (part of a Yankees scoring barrage) gave him five in the Yankees' seven playoff games -- that's the same as Reggie Jackson in 1977. He has hit a HR in three straight games and has an RBI in eight straight playoff games. In short, A-Rod is killing it, and his narrative has done a 180. ↵

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↵Ironically, A-Rod is winning near-universal approval because he apparently -- finally -- said to himself "I'm just not going to care anymore." ↵

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↵Oh, I'm sure he's enjoying it. But not too much. Unlike Jeter -- and the rest of us, now swooning -- A-Rod can clearly remember how crappy it was for him before. And as good as he has been the last two weeks, he can't be satisfied until he has won that World Series.  ↵

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↵NLCS: Phillies can close it out tonight in Philly, with Hamels going against Padilla. ↵

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↵MLB Awards Season: Zack Greinke is SN's AL Pitcher of the Year, and it shouldn't have been close. He had one of the most dominant seasons of the decade. Same goes with Tim Lincecum in the NL. (My August case for Cliff Lee notwithstanding -- I'll have to settle for Lee being the MVP of the NL playoffs, which he has been so far.) ↵

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↵Rivera's Spitball Scandal: What a display of the power of social sports media. It goes from the TV screen to a YouTube clip to a blog to more blogs to Twitter to a Twitter "trending topic" to maintsream media to ... being debunked. ↵

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↵NFL Trade Deadline: Um ... what? ↵

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↵Jay Cutler's extension shouldn't surprise anyone -- the Bears didn't trade for a franchise QB so they could deal with contract headaches. ↵

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↵NFL Must-Read: Tunison's Designed Rush. I'm no Peyton Manning fan, but I could get behind an air-it-out Saints-Colts Super Bowl featuring the game's two best QBs. (What, no votes for Favre-Brady? I think the world would implode.) ↵

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↵No. 1 Alabama: Cheating? Let's not go that far. But the Ol' Ball Coach is right to raise the question of whether Bama special teams are doing something iffy. The bigger question: How did no one catch this before? Did they just start? And is it even improper? ↵

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↵CFB: SN's Midseason All-Americans. Jimmy Clausen. Really? (And, no, I'm not going to suggest it should have been Tim Tebow. But I'll take Cincy's Tony Pike.) ↵

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↵Worst. Job. Ever.: "BCS administrator," in charge of being the public face -- the spokesperson, really -- for the much-maligned system. ↵

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↵Bradford Watch: Is he going to end his college career today, by announcing he won't play the rest of this season? It would mitigate the "Worst Decision of '09" -- Bradford not turning pro when he would have been the No. 1 overall pick of the NFL Draft -- slightly. ↵

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↵CFB: Jim Tressel defended Terrelle Pryor -- but maybe it should be the other way around. ↵

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↵NBA Preseason: Welcome back, "real" refs! ↵

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↵NBA Countdown: No. 8 Magic. I'm with Shoals -- No. 8?! I see the Magic as the team to beat in the East. Celtics? One year older. Cavs? Shaq can't stop Dwight Howard. Yes, Orlando will miss Turkoglu -- but not THAT much. ↵

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↵CBB Countdown: No. 21 Illinois. Well, the Illini aren't pretty -- but they are effective. ↵

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↵The Last Word: "This is a close-knit group." -- Shaq, on the Cavs. ↵

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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. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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