Shanoff's W.U.C.: Pujols Ultimate All-Star

Today's Calls: Albert Pujols vs. Joe Mauer, Phillies outfield vs. Rays infield, Anthony Randolph vs. Adam Morrison, Brandon Jennings vs. DeJuan Blair, Paul Millsap vs. Carlos Boozer, Brock Lesnar vs. Bud Light, Darrell Bevell vs. Brett Favre and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: St. Louis is a great place to have a baseball All-Star Game. ↵

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↵Albert PujolsCards fans are among MLB's best, with a Midwestern politeness that will avoid any ugly star-jeering you might find at, say, Yankee Stadium. And in a bit of a surprise, their team is in first place in the N.L. Central at the break — so fans should be in an especially good mood. ↵

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↵Best of all, their hometown star, Albert Pujols, is the most dominant player in baseball, the All-Star of All-Stars — on pace to challenge Roger Maris' 61 HRs and rack up another MVP in what is arguably the greatest nine-year stretch to start a career in several baseball generations. ↵

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↵After leading all players in All-Star voting, Pujols headlines tonight's Home Run Derby. If anything was going to top last year's jaw-droppingly dramatic 28-HR round from the rehabbed Josh Hamilton, it would be Pujols putting on a show in front of his hometown fans, during a season he is absolutely owning. ↵

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↵So far, the season has been defined by A-Rod's cheating dominating the news in the early spring, then Manny's cheating dominating the news in the late spring. Pujols — complemented by his A.L. counterpart (and fellow Derby-ite), Joe Mauer — is so good he forces even the most cynical to change the subject. ↵

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↵MLB All-Star Notes: So the entire Phillies outfield will be playing for the N.L. ... and the entire Rays infield will be playing for the A.L. (I was a little disappointed Joe Maddon didn't pull in Kinsler when Pedrioa pulled out. But hard to be surprised Maddon picked his own guy, Carlos Pena.) ↵

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↵MLB Talking Points ↵

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↵— Should ASG mean home-field adv.? 56 percent of fans say NO. ↵

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↵— Dodgers still cruising: Best 1st half since '77. ↵

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↵— Hot Seat: Nats' Manny Acta gone. ↵

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↵— Angels sweep CC, Yanks: NY not paying for THIS. ↵

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↵— Red Sox cruise into break: Beckett 3-hitter. ↵

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↵— Fantasy Studs, St. Louis Ed.: Ludwick (2 HR), Wainwright (10th W). ↵

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↵NBA Summer League Studs Vegas Edition ↵
↵The most talented player in the summer league field clearly is Warriors sophomore Anthony Randolph, who averaged 22 and 10 in his first two games. ... Adam Morrison is taking advantage of the soft summer defense to average 23 ppg in three games. ... ↵

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↵The must-see player is, unsurprisingly, Stephen Curry, who went for 29 on Saturday. ... Right behind him was Sacramento's Tyreke Evans, who looks like the most talented player in the draft (25/10 on Saturday). ... The rookie surprise: Detroit's DaJuan Summers, averaging 21.5 ppg in two games. ... ↵

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↵Notable rookie storylines: Brandon Jennings heated up last night (23 pts, incl. 4-for-8 from 3, plus 8 ast and 5 stl); DeJuan Blair (double-double debut — and fellow 2nd-round slip and Pitt teammate Sam Young looked good, too); Dallas' French import Rodrique Beaubois (Vegas-high 34, with 7 3s, along with 8 assists); Hasheem Thabeet (9 pts on only 4 shots with only 1 block?) ↵

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↵NBA Offseason: Paul Millsap is being offered starter's money to be a back-up for Portland — but are the Blazers trying to force the Jazz to spend big to keep him? (Is the plan for the Jazz to match on Millsap, and then trade away Carlos Boozer?) ↵

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↵NFL Camp Countdown: The Eagles finished as runners-up in the NFC and had as good of a 2009 draft as anyone in the league, including steals LeSean McCoy in the 2nd round and Cornelius Ingram in the 5th. So how high should expectations be? If McNabb is still there? Super Bowl. ↵

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↵UFC 100 ended more like WWE: Brock Lesnar was the story of the night, but not for his easy win over Frank Mir, but for his weird post-fight freak-out, where he purposely offended UFC sponsor Bud Light by saying he'd drink Coors Light, gave the finger to the crowd and talked about an upcoming sex romp with his wife. As expected, it was the offensive treatment of the paying league sponsor that drew the most concern from Dana White. ↵

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↵CBB: Tyshawn Taylor is a player to watch this season, after he led the US Under-19 team to a gold medal at the World Championships. Could a Kansas national title be next? (Is it safe to book all four Final Four spots already: Kansas, Kentucky, Villanova, UNC?) ↵

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↵Golf: Cristie Kerr choked away the Women's U.S. Open. Eun Hee Ji was more than happy to earn the title with an Open-winning birdie on 18 (and 3 birdies on her final 6 holes). ↵

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↵Boxing: Did Arturo Gatti's wife kill him? (Gatti-Ward was as good of a three-bout series as fans have seen in boxing in this generation.) ↵

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↵Favre Watch: Vikings OC Darrell Bevell watched Favre throw in Mississippi! It MUST mean he's coming back THIS week! (Or not! But with one of the slowest days of the sports year coming on Wednesday, that would be an ideal day for a media-needy diva like Favre to get all the attention by returning.) ↵

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↵The Last Word: "It's no rush."
↵— Dwyane Wade, on re-signing with the Heat, who have offered Wade a max extension — but shouldn't hold their breath waiting for him to sign it (or return to Miami). I had a vision over the weekend that Wade signs next summer with the Knicks, along with Bosh. ↵

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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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