Shanoff's WUC: Cliff Lee, Baseball Immortal

Today's Calls: Cliff Lee vs. A-Rod, Pedro vs. A.J. Burnett, Cavs vs. Oblivion, Dez Bryant vs. Josh Freeman, Roger Goodell vs. Congress, C.J. Spiller vs. Heisman Talk, John Wall vs. Kentucky, Tim Tebow vs. Herschel Walker and More. ↵

↵Cliff LeeThe Opening Pitch: Cliff Lee has just gone immortal. ↵

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↵The Phillies still have to win the World Series — which feels a lot more realistic today than yesterday morning — but Lee put on a performance for the ages, literally. ↵

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↵Not in 60 years have we seen a pitcher in a World Series strike out 10 and walk none (name check: Don Newcombe struck out 11 in 1949). And Lee did it in Yankee Stadium, against a stacked Yankees lineup that had been feasting on pitching this postseason. He made A-Rod look foolish — Tex, too. ↵

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↵Want another immortalizing stat? No pitcher with as many postseason innings as Lee (33.1) has a lower ERA. Ever. (For a little more recent history, it reminds me of what Josh Beckett did to the Yankees in 2003 — and we know how that ended for New York.) ↵

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↵Beyond the pitching dominance, there were those two crazy defensive plays he made — the "nonchalant" pop-up catch and the behind-the-back stab — making Lee look that much more in control. ↵

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↵As the underdog, the Phillies couldn't have asked for a better start to the Series. Lee may not have won the N.L. Cy, but he earns something more valuable than an award: ↵

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↵Universal, lifetime respect as a World Series gamer. ↵

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↵Chase Utley Makes History: Only second player ever (1st: Ruth) to be a lefty hitter that hit 2 HRs off a LHP in a single World Series game. ↵

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↵A-Rod: 0-4 with 3 Ks in the forgettable first World Series game of his career. And if he doesn't snap back to ALDS/ALCS form, it will be a brutally quick — and brutally unsuccessful — career. His ALCS performance is a distant memory; his rep is made or broken here. ↵

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↵Looking ahead to Game 2: Pedro! The Stadium should be rocking tonight against one of the Yankees' great all-time nemeses. More important? What does the weather look like — Pedro is notoriously less effective when it is cold outside. ↵

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↵NBA Talking Points: Cavs fans can officially panic. Back-to-back games are brutal, but the presumptive (not by me!) East champs are 0-2 after dropping a game to the Raptors, despite LeBron's triple-double. (Andrea Bargnani was a revelation: 28 pts to pair with Chris Bosh's 21 and 16.) ↵

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↵More: ↵

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↵— East's Best: The Magic look good. ↵

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↵— Jonny Flynn: For Rookie of the Year! ↵

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↵— No, wait: DeJuan Blair! (14 and 11). ↵

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↵— Kevin Durant Watch: Double-double in win over Kings. ↵

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↵— Fantasy Stud: Al Horford (24 and 16). ↵

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↵Larry Johnson: About to be cut by the Chiefs? If they do, it would be obvious that the Twitter incident — while entirely inappropriate — was simply the pretense the team needed to unload the guy. They dislike him THAT much. For now, it's still just a suspension. ↵

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↵Whither Vince Young? Jeff Fisher wouldn't call VY the Titans starting QB yesterday "for competitive reasons" (give me a break), but he will name the team's starting QB today. And if it's not Young, Fisher will have a lot of explaining to do ... to fans AND to owner Bud Adams. It's the latter that will be the reason Young is named the starter by Fisher. Because, in the end, it's not Fisher's call. ↵

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↵Roger Goodell vs. Congress: Did you really expect the NFL Commissioner to admit that there is a link between playing football and brain injury? However, given the way the medical research is going, we may look back in 10 years (or even sooner) and find Goodell's protest to be equal parts ludicrous and horrifying. ↵

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↵Reggie Bush is a fool: What does it say when he makes more headlines for dumb statements like claiming the Saints can go undefeated than he does for actually making plays on the field. ↵

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↵NFL Mock Draft: In SN's latest mock, Tim Tebow is out of the Top 10, but the Redskins are still taking a QB — Sam Bradford at No. 7. (Dez Bryant should stop worrying about his college career and immediately declare — he goes No. 2, to the Bucs, on the list.) ↵

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↵Speaking of the Bucs: Josh Freeman, their first-round pick of the 2009 draft, is the new starting QB. Won't help, but at least they can get him some reps while they wait for Dez Bryant. ↵

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↵BCS Mess: TCU-Cincy is one BCS title-game scenario that did NOT make Dave Curtis' worst-case BCS list. The two teams lead my Top 25 ballot this week. Is it THAT improbable ... or does Curtis, like me, think that a glorious TCU-Cincy title game would actually SAVE, not tilt, the BCS? ↵

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↵Heisman Update: C.J. Spiller? Why not? Given the lack of a front-runner — or even a top tier — it would be delinquent of Clemson's sports information office not to immediately launch a full-throttled campaign for their RB, who might just be the most talented player in the country. ↵

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↵Thursday Night CFB: UNC at Virginia Tech. Two straight weeks on Thursday night for UNC? (Whatever: It's fantastic for recruiting.) This game isn't nearly as interesting since Va. Tech dropped off the national radar following its loss to Georgia Tech. (Pick: Va. Tech.) ↵

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↵John Wall Watch: Still not cleared to play — but he gave fans a taste with 25 points in the intra-squad Blue-White game. The NCAA should clear him just because he's only going to stay a year — and why rob fans of watching his kind of talent? ↵

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↵CBB Countdown: No. 13 Washington. Should we consider it a down year for the Pac-10 when its best team can't even crack the Top 10 nationally? ↵

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↵TV: The NFL continues to amaze when it comes to its ability to draw a TV audience — the Cowboys-Falcons game (at 4 p.m. on a Sunday) was the most-watched sports event on TV since the Super Bowl. That's a midseason, mid-day football game topping ... in no particular order: The Final Four, the NBA Finals, the baseball playoffs, the Daytona 500. Wow. That's the power of the Cowboys. ↵

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↵Scandals: CraigsList sex-for-tickets Phillies fan insists it was all just a big misunderstanding. Is "big misunderstanding" another CL euphemism the rest of us should know about? ↵

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↵The Last Word: "Gosh, what's the difference really? You're talking about two of the greatest guys who ever lined up."
↵— Former Georgia QB Buck Belue, on Tim Tebow vs. Herschel Walker. Tebow could break a tie with Walker's SEC career rushing TD record this weekend ... against Georgia. ↵

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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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