The Opening Pitch: "UFC 100" — the name alone is impressive.
It speaks to the durability of MMA and — in particular — its leading organization. (Not to mention the cash-machine the league has become. Do the math: $45 on pay per view x 100 events x millions and millions of viewers.)
I don't mind revealing that I don't follow MMA — which doesn't mean I don't respect the sport. Dismiss (or ignore) MMA at your own ignorance; it is on a growth trajectory that more established sports leagues should envy.
Know the fighters of tomorrow night's event, considered the biggest in MMA history? At a minimum, you should know Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir — the two heavyweights fighting in 100's marquee event. (However, MMA fans will tell you that the card's depth is what makes it most exciting.)
Early in UFC's history, decision makers decided they would start labeling their events by number — presumably taking a page from the highest-end events in sports, the Super Bowl, or the annual release of Jordan shoes. Perhaps "UFC 47" or "UFC 63" didn't have much cachet — but it was building the sport, event by event.
UFC "100" is the culmination. I leave the bigger question to the UFC experts: Where does MMA go from here?
N.L. MVP: Albert Pujols
N.L. Cy: Tim Lincecum
N.L. Rookie: Colby Rasmus
N.L. Manager: Tony LaRussa
N.L. Fantasy Surprise: Pablo Sandoval
Post your own award-winners in the Comments.
MLB Talking Points
— Final Vote: Victorino comes from behind (Inge in, too)
— Halladay Watch: Loses to Price, Rays
— Should be no doubt: Lincecum as N.L. ASG starter
— Joe Mauer: Now A.L. batting-title eligible!
— Pirates P Joel Hanrahan FTW! (For the Nats?)
— Pedro to the Phils? If they can't get Halladay?
— Short series of the weekend: Yankees-Angels
— Fantasy Stud: Justin Upton (3-for-5, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, SB)
Steve McNair funeral: It’s a sign of how awkward (and awful) the coverage of his murder investigation has been that the peaceful grieving at his funeral was a welcome respite.
NBA Summer League Studs Orlando Edition! The Orlando league ends today, and the studs were mainly the group we thought they would be: Russell Westbrook, Ryan Anderson, James Harden and — yes — Tyler Hansbrough (including 22 last night to take the Pacers to 4-0). Next up: Vegas! The biggest name to watch: Blake Griffin, now officially a — gulp — Clipper.
NBA Trade Rumors: Carlos Boozer to the Bulls, in exchange for Kirk Hinrich to the Blazers and Tyrus Thomas to the Jazz? That's the rumor. Not sure how that helps Utah, although it makes them more athletic — and perhaps frees up the payroll for them to re-sign Paul Millsap? (Or do the Blazers want Millsap more than they want Hinrich?)
NBA Offseason: No team has had a better offseason than the Spurs. They traded for Richard Jefferson, drafted DeJuan Blair and just signed Antonio McDyess. All without letting Manu Ginobili go. If they can stay healthy — a huge if, I know — they will give the Lakers a run in the West.
Favre Watch: Joining the Vikings next week? Should a hazy tweet by Deadspin's resident Vikings fan Drew Magary merit any less weight than equally inconclusive "reports" from mainstream media reporters and top-tier NFL bloggers? I don't think so. (Vikes trainer traveled to check out Favre, btw.)
NHL: Joe Sakic retirement official. Craig Custance has the look-back on a terrific career.
CFB Countdown: No. 57 Northwestern. Matt Hayes makes a great point: Nine wins last season — and near-miss against Mizzou in the Alamo Bowl — could have been 11 regular-season wins if not for a couple of small mistakes. Pat Fitzgerald, 34, is the best coach under 40 in the country (and just signed an extension to stay in Evanston — sorry, Notre Dame fans).
CBB: How's Isiah doing? He thinks NCAA rules are "no more confusing than the salary cap." Brian Cook imagines the future. NCAA violations at FIU are a "when" not an "if."
Michael Phelps Watch: Out of shape? Hardly. He set a new world record in the 100 fly at the U.S. Championships last night.
Politics: President of Brazil talks a little trash to President Obama about the U.S. Soccer loss to Brazil in the Confed Cup. Then he gave Obama a Brazilian team jersey, which is kind of a cool gift.
The Last Word: NFL bans in-game Twittering? Like you expected them to do anything else?
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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