Shanoff's WUC: Decade's Best ... or Best Ever?

Today's Calls: Tiger vs. the Aughts, Tiger vs. Elin, Kobe vs. MVP, Colts vs. Jaguars, JaMarcus Russell vs. Charlie Frye, Ndamukong Suh vs. Jake Locker, Navy vs. Texas, Jed Hoyer vs. Theo Epstein and More. ↵

↵Tiger WoodsThe Opening Pitch: Is Tiger Woods really the Athlete of the Decade? ↵

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↵Well, yes. Obviously. (For much of the same reason he's also the sports Scandal of the Decade, too, edging out "MLB Steroids Debacle.") ↵

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↵Here's what's remarkable about the list of the best athletes of the decade: ↵
↵Tiger: Best golfer ever. ↵
↵Lance: Best biker ever. ↵
↵Federer: Best tennis player ever. ↵
↵Phelps: Best swimmer ever. ↵
↵Bolt: Best sprinter ever. ↵

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↵Those are in hyper-individualistic sports. But it goes beyond that: ↵
↵Johnson: Best NASCAR driver ever. ↵
↵LeBron: Best high school basketball player ever. ↵
↵Bonds: Best* hitter ever. (Arguably.) ↵

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↵(You could even make a case that the decade's best in college hoops — Carmelo — is the greatest of the modern, freshmen-eligible era, and that both Peyton and Tebow are in the conversation for best NFL and college football players ever.) ↵

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↵What do all those superlatives indicate: Not just that we have less and less of a reverence for history as the decade squeezed our sensibilities into the fleeting awareness of the latest tweet, viral YouTube clip or Facebook status update. ↵

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↵But that sports are advancing, quickly. Training methods — particularly in sports where there is few, if any dependencies beyond individual talent — have obviously taken a quantum leap. (And not just because of PEDs.) ↵

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↵Go back to 1999: Tiger was already a legend, but with much, much more to come. Lance had won just one Tour. Federer was a petulant 18-year-old no one had heard of. Phelps and Bolt? Kids. Mark Spitz's 7-gold record was considered unbreakable. A sprinter going 9.5-anything was science fiction. (Maurice Greene had just smashed the 9.7 barrier.) ↵

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↵Every time you think you have seen the "best ever," you can be guaranteed that someone even better is coming. That's the nature of evolution in sports. ↵

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↵Given the freakish superlativeness we've just witnessed over the past decade, you can't even imagine what we'll see in the next decade. ↵

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↵Tiger Update: If Elin really did finally hire a divorce attorney, would anybody blame her? ↵

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↵NBA Talking Points: Kobe! He scores prolifically. He scores down the stretch. He scores at the buzzer. For all the great years Kobe has had in his career, is he having his best season yet? ↵

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↵NFL: This Chris Henry story is insane. We regularly say things like "Here's hoping for a recovery" when athletes — anyone — gets injured. It is surreal and creepy to say "Here's hoping he survives." ↵

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↵NFL TNF: Colts at Jaguars. Can Indy be beaten? The Jags have done it before, and the short rest is a wild card. MJD can keep Peyton Manning off the field ... Oh, who am I kidding? Biggest intrigue: Will Tebow be at the game? Pick: Colts ↵

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↵Mike Holmgren to Browns? Eric Mangini should probably be concerned. If he's the new top dog in Cleveland, why would Holmgren want to keep another GM's coach? ↵

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↵JaMarcus Russell Watch: If you want to make the case that Russell is the biggest bust in NFL Draft history — and there are plenty of worthy contenders — you'll want to add "Raiders starting Charlie Frye over JMR" to your file. ↵

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↵Trash Talk Hall of Fame: "I will beat Shawne's head in, right now. It's not even fun. This is not in fun. This is personal. Bring it on. It is what it is. I think he might be one of the only people I don't really get along with. I want to fight. I'm not sure how to get the fight on without him suing me." — Chad Ochocinco, on Shawne Merriman. ↵

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↵CFB Awards Watch: Mark Ingram picks up SN's College Football Player of the Year award. I appreciate the merits of Gerhart, Suh and McCoy, but I have no problem with Ingram. ↵

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↵NFL Draft: Except for Ndamukong Suh at No. 1, the War Room says not to expect to see Ingram, Gerhart or McCoy in the top half of the NFL Draft. (It does say that Jake Locker would have been the No. 1 overall pick, to the sorry Rams. Which makes Locker's decision to stay in school either absurdly stupid or calculatingly smart.) ↵

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↵Big Ten >>> Big Twelve: You saw my argument yesterday for the B10 to expand with Navy. Mike DeCourcy obviously thinks bigger, because his awesome suggestion for B10 expansion is Texas. (He knows that's a downgrade for the Horns, right? He makes a good point: What about hoops? I'd modify my plan to only bring in Navy football — the expansion is really just about football, anyway.) ↵

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↵64 >>> 96: Coach K likes it! ↵

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↵MLB Hot Stove: Would new Padres GM Jed Hoyer really trade his new team's best player, Adrian Gonzalez, back to Hoyer's old team the Red Sox? Maybe he knows something the rest of us don't about the talent he would be getting back. ... The Mets want Jason Bay so badly they are willing to add another year to his deal. ... Yes, Phillies fans: Roy Halladay is officially yours. ↵

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↵PED Watch: I'll bet the mortgage on the over here. ↵

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↵Must-Read: The title of this post says it all: "Best. Motion to Continue. Ever." ↵

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↵The Last Word: "I am so pissed that they have got him holed up whether it is in his house. He is a thirty-three year old grown man. He did something wrong to his wife. He has to answer to her and his kids. That's it. But this notion that he is hiding out ... I mean he hasn't shown his face in almost two weeks."
↵— Charles Barkley on Tiger. There's a LOT more. ↵

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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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