Shanoff's WUC: Utley, Saints, Spikes, Rondo

Today's Calls: Chase Utley vs. Reggie Jackson, Pedro Martinez vs. Andy Pettitte, Saints offense vs. Saints defense, Brandon Spikes vs. Media Disapproval, Rajon Rondo vs. $55 million, Rockets vs. Jazz, John Wall vs. AP All-America voters and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Can Chase Utley win World Series MVP -- without his team actually winning the World Series? ↵

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↵Utley is making a pretty good case: Five HR in five World Series games, matching Reggie Jackson's immortalized 1977 Series. Utley's first HR last night (4th of the Series) put the Phillies on the board after being down early; his second (No. 5) turned out to be the game-winning run. ↵

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↵And without Utley's power -- even with the steady Cliff Lee -- the Phillies would be finished already ... rather than ousted in one of the next two games in New York. ↵

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↵But are the Phillies really phinished? Are Yankees fans really ready to bank on Andy Pettitte in Game 6? Or CC Sabathia on a second round of 3 days' rest in a toss-up Game 7? ↵

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↵The only reason Philly has a chance is Chase. ↵

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↵If that doesn't qualify him as more "most valuable" than anyone else in this series, what would? ↵ ↵

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↵Game 6: Pedro vs. Pettitte in NYC. It's like it's 1999, all over again. (For the record, in '99 Pedro had one of the greatest years in baseball history: 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA, 313 Ks and 37 BB. Pettitte was no slouch: A 14-game winner in a championship rotation, although Pettitte got pounded in his only World Series start that year.) ↵

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↵Hamels clarifies verbal flub: Here's one thing I don't get -- even if he can't wait for the season to be over (which he walked back), isn't that exactly the mentality of the guy you want pitching in a Game 7 of a World Series? ↵

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↵MNF: Saints 7-0. Why? Yes, because of Drew Brees and that offense, but also because of an opportunistic (and TD-happy) defense, which scored its sixth TD of the season on its NFL-leading fifth pick-6 -- then also intercepted Matt Ryan again late in the game with the Saints clinging to a lead. (In fact, the Saints have the best fantasy D in the league. No wonder that in reality, they are the No. 1 team in the league, too.) ↵

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↵How bad are the Browns? They already fired -- or whatever they want to call it -- their GM that they only hired last January. That might also qualify as their most productive move of the season so far. The bigger question: When does Eric Mangini get axed? ↵

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↵Florida's Spikes suspended half-game for eye-gouge: Or, as it is being positioned by the media, "only a half-game." This was a mistake by Florida not to suspend Spikes for the whole game -- it's not like they're playing Alabama; it's Vandy, and by the second half, the game will likely be well in hand anyway. And it's not like the Florida D isn't lights out, even without Spikes. So why draw the national ire by delivering a seemingly too-lenient punishment? Rare mis-read by the normally media savvy Urban Meyer. ↵

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↵CFB Must-Read: Brian Cook's This Week in Schadenfreude -- a home game of sorts for Cook, because it stars RichRod. ↵

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↵NBA Talking Points ↵

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↵• Believe in the Rockets yet, doubters? ↵

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↵• New scoring benchmark: Kevin Martin's 48 ↵

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↵• Hey, the Knicks finally won! ↵

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↵• So did the Clippers! ↵

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↵• Still winless: Nets (NBA's worst) ↵

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↵Rondo gets paid: 5Y/$55M. This was a must-do deal for the Celtics, who need a bridge between the title contender of today and the Lottery team of its Big Three-less future. (Now: How good will Rondo be without the Big Three? Hmm: Why don't you ask Chris Paul?) ↵

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↵CBB All-Americans: Harangody, Patterson, Singler, Collins, Aldrich. Why are they the most likely contenders to make the postseason A-A team? Because AP hoops voters tend to enjoy confirming their own preseason biases. (Which include discounting frosh: Carmelo in '02, now Wall in '10.) ↵

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↵SN CBB Countdown: No. 8 Duke. Help me out here: Does Duke have an Elton Brand or Carlos Boozer? No? Hmm. How about a Bobby Hurley or a Jason Williams? No? Then why are they ranked ahead of the Villanova team that ran them off the court last March? (Mike D's take on Duke here.) ↵

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↵Olympics: Stephen Colbert and "Colbert Nation" sponsoring the US speed-skating team? Best. Gimmick. Ever. How many people will now care even remotely more about speed-skating than they did before? (Could Wake-Up Call Nation support sponsoring, say, curling?) ↵

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↵Ratings: Favre delivers. The Packers-Vikings game on Sunday was Fox's second-most-watched Sunday game since the network started showing NFL games in 1994. (Quick: What was No. 1? Cowboys-49ers in 1995.) ↵

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↵TV: "Without Bias" (8, ESPN). Len Bias is the most mythic figure in sports over the last 30 years -- the ultimate "what if?" Bias was my all-time favorite basketball player, going back to my childhood. This doc will be painful, but the story -- as a cautionary tale -- can't be re-told enough. ↵

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↵The Last Word: "Before he leaves Ohio State, he'll lead them to a national championship. He's that kind of player." -- Texas coach Mack Brown. Really? Given that I can't see him staying past next season, the best he might do is a Big Ten championship (which could be secured over the next three weeks, as Ohio State plays Penn State and Iowa back-to-back, before finishing with Michigan). ↵

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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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