Shanoff's W.U.C.: ESPYs, British Open, Odom

Today's Calls: Michael Phelps vs. Larry Fitzgerald, Florida vs. the Top 50, Tiger Woods vs. Padraig Harrington, Brett Favre vs. July 30, Lamar Odom vs. Miami Heat, Austin Daye vs. Brandon Jennings, NFL Supplemental Draft vs. NFL Draft and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Michael Phelps still rules. That is the leading indicator of the ESPY Awards, perfectly timed to be held last night on the Slowest Sports Day of the Year (but to be broadcast on Sunday). ↵

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↵I give the ESPYs more props than most awards because the voting comes directly from the fans. That makes Phelps' awards for Best Male Athlete, Best Championship Performance and Best Record-Breaking Performance (among 5 awards total) all the more amazing; nearly a year after the Olympics, his performance in Beijing still resonates with fans. (Phelps also benefited from Tiger Woods -- the umpteen-time-defending BMA winner -- took the year off.) ↵

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↵It wasn't just Phelps affirming our obsession with the Olympics this past year: The jaw-dropping, gold-winning US 4x100 relay team won Best Moment (as they should have!); gymnast Nastia Liukin won Best Female Athlete; and Dara Torres won Best Comeback. ↵

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↵But "instant history" wasn't shut out: The Lakers won "Best Team" and Phil Jackson won "Best Coach." And the uber-popular NFL did just fine, capturing awards for "Best Play" (Steelers' game-winning Super Bowl TD) and "Best Game" (Super Bowl XLIII). And Larry Fitzgerald affirmed his postseason ascension into the NFL's elite by winning "Best NFL Player" (the ESPYs, unlike the traditional awards, actually takes playoff performances into account). ↵

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↵You can mock the ESPYs as a made-for-TV contrivance (especially if the TV broadcast will be four days after the actual event and everyone already knows who won), but you cannot discount the populist power of the fans deciding who and what mattered most over the last sports year. ↵

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↵SN's CFB Top 50: Florida is No. 1. Of COURSE Florida is No. 1. The defending champs return much of the offense (including repeat ESPY Best Male College Athlete winner Tim Tebow) and the entire defensive two-deep. I'm waiting for the first preseason rankings to come out that tries to argue for any other team ahead of the Gators. ↵

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↵More intriguing is how SN makes sense of the jumble behind the Gators: No. 2 Texas predicted to beat No. 3 Oklahoma, and No. 4 USC apparently finishing with a loss (because there's no way an unbeaten USC would be ranked behind the 1-loss loser of Texas-Oklahoma). Top 5 rounded out with trendy Ole Miss. Complete Top 50 here. ↵

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↵British Open: By the time you read this, Tiger Woods will have finished his round, which started at 4 a.m. ET. If it's another major, it's another "Tiger vs. The Field" moment -- except this time, the field includes two-time defending champ Padraig Harrington. ↵

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↵Favre Watch: So Brett didn't take advantage of yesterday's "Slowest Sports Day of the Year" to announce he was returning to the NFL, but it does look like there is some sort of self-imposed deadline of July 30 to announce his decision. Why the holdup? We all know what's coming. ↵

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↵McNair, Cont'd: There's no will? This may get messy. ↵

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↵MLB Today: Suprisingly unbalanced schedule, with two AL games (surprisingly good Mariners at Cleveland, unsurprisingly good Angels at Oakland) and 6 NL games; of the 12 NL teams playing tomorrow, only two (Nats, Padres) would be considered out of playoff contention. The 2nd half is going to be awesome. ↵

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↵Second-Half Story Lines: I already talked about the AL East 3-way, the Pujols "62" and the wild NL "everyone-in-the-pool" playoff race. Add to that "Who will get Roy Halladay?" Presuming it won't be an AL East rival, which means the Halladay trade will likely be a difference in that NL scramble. ↵

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↵NBA Offseason: Is the Lakers' issue with Lamar Odom the Heat's chance to put some championship-level talent around Dwyane Wade? If Miami can swipe Odom from the Lakers AND work out a deal for Carlos Boozer, Dwyane Wade should sign a long-term extension immediately. ↵

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↵NBA Summer League Stars: ↵

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↵• Austin Daye (27/13 vs. the anemic Knicks) ↵

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↵• Brandon Jennings (14 pts, 9 ast) ↵

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↵• Jodie Meeks (continues strong summer as a 2nd-rounder with 16...the guy can score) ↵

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↵• Bulls' Johnson/Gibson PF combo (28 and 16, combined) ↵

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↵• Earl Clark (13/12) ↵

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↵• DeMar DeRozan (20 pts on 9/16 FG) ↵

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↵• D-League "Select" team: Blows out another NBA squad! ↵

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↵(Must-read: Shoals on Anthony Randolph.) ↵

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↵NFL Camping Preview: Lions. I am a big Jim Schwartz fan. Can he turn the Lions around? Probably not in Year 1, but we're talking about a team for which a 1-15 season would be a substantial improvement, and 4 wins would qualify him for "Coach of the Year" material. ↵

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↵CFB Countdown: No. 50 Minnesota. Last year was a tremendous turnaround, from 1-10 to 7-6 (even if they choked away the back half of the season). 18 starters are back this year, and the expectations should be high. The biggest deal? A brand-new stadium: So long, Dome. ↵

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↵Nuptials, Almost: Does this mean Richard Jefferson's new nickname is "Runaway Groom?" ↵

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↵Hollywood: Would you watch an FX sitcom based on the fantasy-football lifestyle? I guess it's going to be something like "According to Jim's Cheat Sheet" or "Two-and-a-Half Men Arguing Over Handcuff Strategy" or "How I Met Your Keeper League" or "It's Always Sunny When You Have Adrian Peterson." ↵

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↵Prison: Travis Henry gets 3 years. Won't someone please think of the children? ↵

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↵The Last Word: NFL Supplemental Draft Day! What, you're not excited? What I want to know is who is the Mel Kiper of the NFL Supplemental Draft? ↵

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↵(I would love to see what would happen if some of the bigger stars, like Sam Bradford or Taylor Mays or Tim Tebow surprisingly made themselves available for the Supplemental. Would teams "bid" a 1st-rounder for them?) ↵

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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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