Shanoff's W.U.C.: Kobe, Unit 300, Pens, Borel

Today's Calls: Kobe vs. Dwight, Randy Johnson vs. 250-game winners, Josh Johnson vs. Cole Hamels, Penguins vs. Wings, Calvin Borel vs. History, David Stern vs. LeBron (and Steve Cohen), Tony La Russa vs. Twitter and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: As far as "statement" games go, that was a biggie. ↵

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↵Kobe dominated, but that was to be expected (only the fourth time in Finals history a player has gone 40-8-8). What was unexpected was the way the Lakers throttled Dwight Howard and harassed the Magic into sub-30 percent shooting from the field. ↵

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↵Orlando's shooting performance was so terrible — and so atypical — that you have to believe it was nerves; the Magic have always been a little volatile, psychologically. The Lakers, by contrast, are a reflection of Kobe: Cold-blooded, clear-eyed terminators. The only relief for Orlando is that these Magic are perhaps just emotionally immature enough to shake off the loss and move on. ↵

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↵Ehh, so much for my pick of Magic in 5. For historical comfort, I look to 1991, when the Lakers beat the Bulls in Game 1 — in Chicago, no less — before MJ led the Bulls to four straight wins and his first title. ↵

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↵But those Lakers were at the end of a reign; these Lakers are on a mission — those Bulls had Jordan; these Lakers have Kobe. ↵

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↵Jameer Nelson plays: Things started so well! A couple of nice assists, hitting his first jumper. Then, things went downhill from there: He played 23 minutes (which is remarkable), but missed 6 of 9 shots and was -19; the team was worse with him on the floor. ↵

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↵Randy Johnson wins No. 300: I have to admit, it was kind of exciting to watch the end of the game live — mostly because I am in the camp of folks who think that this was the last time we will ever see a player reach 300 wins. I know: "Never ever" is as dangerous of a claim as "Best ever," but the game has changed dramatically since Johnson entered the league. ↵

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↵Related question: Will 250 become the new 300, as it relates to "milestone" prestige? That puts the recently retired Mike Mussina (270 wins) in a new perspective. Same with would-be Hall of Famers Bert Blyleven (287) and Jack Morris (254). Don't discount how good "250" will look in 10 years when future pitchers reaching 300 is confirmed as a fantasy. ↵

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↵Among active pitchers: Jamie Moyer just hit 250. Andy Pettitte, at 220, probably won't make it another 30 wins. Same with the other "active" pitchers over 200 wins: Kenny Rogers (219), Pedro Martinez (214), John Smoltz (210). ↵

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↵Tim Wakefield (185) is still six seasons of 10-win seasons away. Bartolo Colon is still 100 wins away. Roy Halladay seems like the best candidate to reach 250 — he needs to average at least 15 wins a season for the next six seasons. He is 32 and shows no signs of decline. CC Sabathia is at 122 — he's not even halfway there. ↵

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↵MLB Talking Points You mean besides Big Unit? ↵

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↵— A.L.'s Best: Red Sox sweep Tigers (in Detroit) ↵

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↵— Best SP in N.L.?: Josh Johnson has to be Top 3 ↵

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↵— Upton Watch: Has B.J. turned the corner? ↵

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↵— Injury Watch: Jose Reyes out 'til ASB? ↵

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↵— Fantasy Stud: Cole Hamels (5-H CG SO w/ 5K) ↵

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↵Stanley Cup: The Penguins have already out-performed last year, where they lost Game 4 to go down 3-1 in the series, which they lost. This year, it is 2-2 after a Game 4 win in Pittsburgh — and the Pens may have the confidence to pull it off. ↵

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↵NFL Offseason: Adrian Wilson — the best player on the Cardinals D — gets a new 5-year deal to stay in Arizona. Normally, there would be a crack here about how that guarantees him another half-decade of mediocrity in Phoenix ... not anymore! Now its: "Great move by defending NFC champs!" ↵

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↵Bears players ... want Plaxico Burress. Really? ↵

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↵Belmont Stakes: Weirdly enough, with Rachel Alexandra out of the race, the leading story line is about ... a jockey. Calvin Borel could become the first jockey to ever ride multiple horses to a Triple Crown; he's back on Mine That Bird at Belmont. Hey, I'm not betting against him at this point. ↵

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↵Academics: NBA refs are biased. Did they really need a research study to figure that out? Any fan who watches the game knows it: NBA refs favor teams at home, teams trailing a game and teams trailing in a series. Researcher’s explanation: "Simple human psychology." (What about: "The league told them to.") ↵

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↵Stern fines LeBron $25K: Sort of feels like Stern felt he HAD to. Stern also smacked down Congressman Steve Cohen over Cohen's complaint about the NBA age-limit, comparing it to Congress' age limit. False equivalency! ↵

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↵Video Games: So, apparently, fans are allowed to vote for the cover of NBA 2K10 — including the cover version that has Kobe in a Knicks uniform. If this isn't the obvious choice for everyone in America to get behind — if only for the anarchy — I don't know what is. In early ballotting, the Knicks version is behind the same image of Kobe in a Lakers uni. Go vote! ↵

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↵Twitter: The Twitter-sports connection started the week on a down note, with the news that Tony La Russa was suing the company because someone set up a fake La Russa account. It ends a bit more positively, with a Time magazine cover and the launch of a cool new site Championist, which aggregates all the best tweets from across the sports universe. (Oh, and don't forget to follow SN's new Twitter feed SNInsider, too!) ↵

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↵The Last Word: "He guaranteed the championship in 2010 and 2011." ↵
↵— Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck, on what Kevin Garnett told him about the team's future. Are the Celtics moving to the WNBA? Because KG couldn't possibly be talking about the NBA championship. That ship has sailed. ↵

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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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