Shanoff's W.U.C.: A-Rod, Pitt, Jones-Drew

Today's Calls: A-Rod vs. the Media, DeJuan Blair vs. Hasheem Thabeet, Kyle Busch vs. Daytona, Michael Phelps vs. the Law, Fred Taylor vs. Maurice Jones-Drew, Bud Selig vs. David Ortiz and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: What would YOU ask A-Rod today? ↵

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↵A-Rod's spring-training-opening press conference will be a circus, perhaps the biggest circus of the season. ↵

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↵We will see which players will line up in solidarity for their teammate. (Et tu, Jeter?) We will see which reporters want to try to claim their 15 minutes by being as bombastic as possible in their questioning. ↵

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↵Mainly, we will see how closely A-Rod sticks to the carefully cultivated script he used in his one-on-one with Peter Gammons. ↵

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↵Will he hammer away at his talking points? Will he be drawn out, into new confessions? Will he at least show a little more emotion? Or will he shut down? ↵

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↵A-Rod may have thought he was in the clear after his "sorry" moment; there is still plenty of opportunity today to re-taint himself. ↵

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↵So, again: What would YOU ask A-Rod? Here's a good starter list. Put your questions in the comments. ↵

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↵CBB: Pitt is No. 1. Yes, UConn was playing without Jerome Dyson. But they WERE playing at home, where they were virtually unbeatable ... right up until last night, when Pitt gritted its way through the Huskies' own tough D. ↵

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↵(As I have said before: It's all meaningless until March. But it stands to reason that the teams at the top of the Big East will have survived a gauntlet of a regular season, unlike a contender from any other conference in the country, which will pay dividends in late March.) ↵

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↵Meanwhile, Hasheem Thabeet is the leading contender for Big East Player of the Year and a sure-fire 1st-team All-American, but he was neutered against Pitt's post play (5 pts, 1/5 FG, 4 reb, 2 blk, 5 PF). How about DeJuan Blair's dominance? 22 points, 23 rebounds. Blair has more offensive rebounds (6) than Thabeet had total. (Here's a YouTube moment that captures it. Ouch.) ↵

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↵MLB Spring Training: Still dominated by A-Rod/PED questions. David Ortiz said he would like to see a full-season ban for PED offenders (agreed), along with more frequent testing (agreed) of every player in the league (agreed), including the possible use of blood tests (agreed). Go ask your union rep about all that, Papi. ↵

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↵(But note this detail buried in the story: "[Ortiz] drew a distinction between the use of steroids through 2003, when it was not penalized, and the period since then when testing with penalties has been in effect." While he was in a garrulous mood, did anyone ask Ortiz if HE used PEDs back in the '03 heyday?) ↵

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↵Daytona Hangover: If nothing else, the D-500 managed to do something unprecedented — it turned Kyle Busch into a sympathetic victim. ↵

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↵NBA 2nd Half: Some say the NBA is experiencing a Renaissance, but all I see is a handful of teams that consider themselves (or should be considered) contenders for this season's NBA title, and everyone else is either hoarding cap space for 2010 or using 2010 as a pretense to keep expectations (and thus costs) low now because of the crappy economy. ↵

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↵NBA Trade Rumors: Is Amare ever going to get moved? (I love him in Chicago, btw). ... Richard Jefferson wouldn't turn Portland into a West contender this season, but he sure makes them that much more dangerous in ‘09-10. ... Wait: Don't the Hornets need Tyson Chandler, in order to be a contender? ↵

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↵Phelps Watch: The South Carolina police won't press charges against him for the bong incident. No physical evidence and a carefully worded "Sorry for 'inappropriate behavior'" means the case was as flimsy as we all thought it was from the start. (Interesting detail: Whoever took the picture of Phelps, which started this whole mess, was paid $100,000 for it; I'm quite sure that Phelps would have paid a lot more than that to avoid this drama.) ↵

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↵NFL: Jags release Fred Taylor. Especially coming off that Pro Bowl year in 2007, he felt like one of those stars who would spend their entire career with the same team. Now, he will have to chase Jim Brown on the all-time rushing list somewhere else. ↵

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↵Meanwhile: If you have the 1st overall pick in your fantasy football draft, you would be nuts not to take Maurice Jones-Drew. ↵

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↵CFB: Hey, Sam Bradford sounds like he wants to pull a Tim Tebow. ("Never worked harder" ... yada yada yada ... national title.) ↵

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↵The Last Word: "I'm not sure I would have done anything differently." — Bud Selig, on PEDs in MLB. ↵

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↵"A lot of people say we should have done this or that, and I understand that. They ask me, 'How could you not know?' and I guess in the retrospect of history, that's not an unfair question. ↵

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↵"But we learned and we've done something about it. When I look back at where we were in '98 and where we are today, I'm proud of the progress we've made." ↵

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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. ↵

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

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