Shanoff's WUC: Bron, Bama, Buckeyes, 'Boys

Today's Calls: LeBron vs. NYC, Yankees vs. Ticker-Tape, Alabama vs. LSU, Ohio State vs. Happy Valley, Cowboys vs. Eagles, Vince Young vs. Alex Smith, Brandon Jennings vs. Lance Stephenson, Tim Lincecum vs. Jeremy Hermida and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: LeBron may want to play in New York ... but can he keep up? ↵

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↵LeBron comes to town for his only appearance of the season at the Garden -- and the requisite heavy-breathing over the inevitability/impossibility that he signs with the Knicks next summer -- on the same day his Yankees get a ticker-tape parade to celebrate their first championship since 2000. ↵

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↵You can hate the Yankees. Hate that they spent their way to a title. Hate the convincing argument that their bookend titles make them baseball's Team of the Decade. Hate being reminded how annoying you find their fan triumphalism. (Even LeBron is a Yankees fan.) ↵

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↵But say this for them: No team this decade -- in any sport -- was under as much pressure to win a championship as these Yankees. It was, emphatically: Title or Bust. (And if last year's failures resulted in spending a quarter-billion dollars to make this year's team the top contender, I can't even imagine what "bust" this year would have resulted in.) ↵

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↵There is no greater pressure than being expected to win a championship. Win it all? You should have. Fall short? You're worse than a loser -- you're a choker. ↵

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↵And thus we come to LeBron's future in NYC: The Cavs were expected to win the East a year ago; he led them to an early exit. They were expected to dominate the East this season; they are OK, but hardly look like a contender on par with Boston or Orlando. ↵

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↵New Yorkers may like the idea of LeBron in a Knicks uniform, but as he catches the vibe of the city as it celebrates its Yankees, he better realize that New York doesn't tolerate losers. ↵ ↵

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↵My Top 5 NFL Week 9 Story Lines ↵

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↵(1) GOTW: Cowboys at Eagles ↵
↵Top two teams in NFC East. ↵

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↵(2) Unbeatens: Colts, Saints ↵
↵Who's better? I'll agree: Saints. ↵

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↵(3) Eli Manning vs. Phil Rivers ↵
↵Tied together for their careers. ↵

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↵(4) Next on Redskins futility tour ↵
↵Inevitable loss at Atlanta. ↵

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↵(5) Vince Young vs. Alex Smith ↵
↵Battle of Disappointing QBs. ↵

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↵Week 9 NFL Picks: Falcons, Bears, Ravens, Colts, Pats, Packers, Jaguars, Saints, Seahawks, Titans, Giants, Eagles, Broncos. (Last week: 8-5, Year-to-date: 81-36) ↵

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↵CFB Story Lines ↵

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↵GOTW 1: LSU at Alabama ↵
↵Tide's toughest game of reg. season. ↵

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↵GOTW 2: Ohio St. at Penn St. ↵
↵OSU's B10 surge starts here. ↵

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↵Upset Special: N'western over Iowa ↵
↵N'western plays Hawkeyes tough. ↵

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↵Non-BCS Jockeying ↵
↵Another laugher for Boise. ↵

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↵Thursday Night Football: Temple! ↵
↵7 straight Ws for Owls. ↵

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↵Dez Bryant Watch: Next stop, NFL. It's hard to feel too badly for Bryant, given that he is a lock to be a Top 5 2010 draft pick. (However, you CAN feel bad for him at the thought that he is headed for, say, the Rams.) ↵

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↵BCS Mess: The Coaches' poll is a joke, but at least they will continue to be a quasi-transparent joke -- the AFCA will make the coaches' final ballots (the ones that count toward the BCS) public. Now with MORE critic indignation! ↵

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↵NBA Must-Read: Shoals on the most polarizing player in the NBA this season -- Bucks rookie PG Brandon Jennings. ↵

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↵Lincecum busted: Fans have long-wondered how Tim Lincecum can contort his body over and over to keep throwing smoke... Smoke? Oh, so THAT's his training secret. ↵

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↵MLB Hot Stove: Jeremy Hermida to Boston. The underachieving former would-be can't-miss star must feel like he won the Lottery -- predicting a career for him in that Red Sox lineup (fwiw, that's not a particularly high bar). And speaking of next year's lineups: Matt Holliday is one step closer to being in the 2010 Yankees' lineup. ↵

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↵SN CBB Countdown: No. 5 West Virginia. Huggins' teams are always better when they are scrappy underdogs, not presumptive Final Four teams. This doesn't bode well. ↵

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↵Eligibility: Welcome, Lance Stephenson! ↵

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↵Flu Watch: The Raptors and Maple Leafs have no business getting swine flu shots before kids and pregnant women. Fellas: Wash your hands while you wait. ↵

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↵Yankee Triumphalism: Yanks hit Letterman (as they should). ↵

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↵The Last Word: Condolences to the Fort Hood community. ↵

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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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