Shanoff's W.U.C.: Era of Best Players Ever?

Today's Calls: Pau Gasol vs. Dwight Howard, Roger Federer vs. Tiger Woods, Roy Halladay vs. Zack Greinke, Phillies vs. Dodgers, Brett Favre vs. Peyton Manning and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Are we living in the era of the Greatest Players Ever? It's not just Roger Federer, who locked up his career Grand Slam yesterday with that French title to claim "best ever" status in tennis history. Even Pete Sampras thinks Fed's the best tennis player ever. ↵

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↵Tiger WoodsTiger Woods has already been established as the greatest golfer of all time. Another tournament win yesterday — the Memorial — merely increases anticipation for his U.S. Open title defense in a few weeks. ↵

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↵— LeBron James may not be the best basketball player ever — yet — but you can make the argument that he has already proven himself to be the most talented basketball player ever. At age 24, he is already the best player in today's game (and he probably was at age 20, too). ↵

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↵— Albert Pujols may not be the No. 1 baseball hitter ever, but particularly when you adjust for the era's competitiveness, it is hard to find an MLB player off to a better start to his career. He is certainly the best hitter in several generations and will finish his career on a very short, exclusive list. ↵

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↵— Peyton Manning might be into his mid-30s, but 12 years into his career, at least one scouting service thinks he sizes up as the most dominant NFL player heading into the 2009 season. When his career is finally over, he should rank at the top of every meaningful statistical category. ↵

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↵— Tim Tebow is one (more) national-championship run — with or without another Heisman — from ending his college football career not just as the greatest college QB of all time, but arguably the greatest player in college football history. ↵

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↵Federer. Tiger. LeBron. Pujols. Peyton. Tebow. All may be at various stages of their careers, but all are — or project as — the greatest ever in their sports. When we look back, this era will be defined by the "best-ever" greatness of those players. Enjoy it while it lasts. ↵

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↵NBA Finals: Lakers up 2-0. The Magic were one brilliant last-second (missed) shot from shocking the Lakers in L.A. and changing the dynamic of the series entirely. ↵

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↵But it may have been enough to change the series dynamic enough. They rebounded from that Game 1 humiliation to push the Lakers as far as you can go without winning. With that confidence, they could win the next three in Orlando. ↵

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↵MLB Talking Points ↵

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↵— MLB's Best Pitcher: Roy Halladay passes Zack Greinke? ↵

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↵— NLCS Rematch ... or Preview? Phils split in L.A. ↵

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↵— Top of AL: TEX tops BOS | NYY in 1st ↵

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↵— Rookie Watch: Tommy Hanson struggles ↵

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↵— Streaking: A's win 6th in a row ↵

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↵— Eve of Draft: Oh, why hide it, Nats? ↵

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↵— Economy: Dodgers to have free parking vs. A's ↵

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↵— Weekend Review: Ack! What happened to Zack?! ↵

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↵— Fantasy Stud: Ubaldo Jimenez (8 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 9 K) ↵

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↵Stanley Cup: Pavel Datsyuk, unsurprisingly, turns out to be the difference-maker between the Red Wings and Pens in Game 5 — and, you can see it now, the entire series. ↵

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↵NASCAR: Nice to see that team ownership hasn't ruined Tony Stewart for winning. ↵

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↵Memphis scandal, cont'd: Now we wait. Here's my prediction: Per Mike DeCourcy's initial analysis, the NCAA won't do anything, because ultimately the NCAA's own "clearinghouse" approved the SAT test scores. ↵

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↵Brett Favre Watch: Shoulder surgery last month? He is SO coming back. (Why the leak now? Favre must have been a little miffed that his story had fallen out of the headlines this month.) ↵

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↵NFL's Most Dominant in 2009: RealScouts rank their Top 25, which includes a glaring omission — Maurice Jones-Drew, who might very will win the coveted "consensus No. 1" label in fantasy football this year. Fantasy GMs know best! ↵

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↵CWS Shocker: Southern Miss sweeps Florida out, at Florida. ↵

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↵CFB: Lane Kiffin busted with ANOTHER violation of NCAA rules? I'll ask again: How many secondary violations does it take before you actually get in some kind of trouble? ↵

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↵NBA Offseason: Shaq may want to return to the Lakers, but they seem to be doing just fine without him. I'm sure Kobe will say something to the effect of "No, thanks." (Um: Perhaps not that polite.) ↵

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↵The Last Word: "He goes down as the greatest ever. This just confirms it." ↵
↵— Pete Sampras, on Roger Federer. ↵

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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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