â†µThe Opening Pitch: Is it time for Red Sox fans to panic? â†µâ†µ
â†µ* Swept out of 4 games at Yankee Stadium.
â†µ* Outscored 25-8, including 31 straight scoreless innings.
â†µ* Can't seem to beat teams with winning records.
â†µ* The Yankees looked awesome. (Like ... Red Sox?) â†µ
â†µBut in the Wild Card Era, winning the division is totally overrated -- just make the playoffs, and everything is fine. â†µâ†µ
â†µWhat's that you say? The Red Sox are now tied with the Rangers -- the Rangers?!?! -- for the AL Wild Card? And the Rays are only 1.5 back? â†µâ†µ
â†µWith 52 games to go in the regular season, there is still plenty of time for the Red Sox to rebound and earn a playoff spot. Even after being outscored by 17 runs in the series, they are +75 in run differential this season. â†µâ†µ
â†µThis New York sweep was humiliating -- but only humiliating. If I was a Red Sox fan, I wouldn't worry until -- at the earliest -- the first week in October (when Boston finishes the regular season with 7 games at home, against non-factors Toronto and Cleveland). â†µâ†µ
â†µDon't worry about the Yankees. Just make the playoffs. â†µâ†µ
â†µDavid Ortiz's explanation: He says he was "careless," although "I was careless" feels like the 2.0 version of "I don't want to talk about the past." At the very least, it's contributory negligence. (That the BALCO quack says Papi could be right about simply making an honest mistake doesn't help his cause.) â†µâ†µ
â†µSo the question is: Do you believe Ortiz? I'm in the camp that doesn't care one way or the other, simply because it feels like everyone -- "careless" or intentional -- was doing something back then. But if I was forced to pick, I would say I'm inclined to believe him. Because I'm a sucker. (Hey, MLB exec Bob DuPuy believes him.) â†µâ†µ
â†µNFL Preseason Opener: The Titans already look ready to start the regular season. (Except Vince Young, who looked not quite like the QB boasting in Esquire that he would be a Super Bowl-winning Hall of Famer.) â†µâ†µ
â†µT.O. had a great debut: He seemed to thrive in the Bills' no-huddle offense (at least for the few plays the A-team were in on). Maybe Trent Edwards is scared NOT to throw to TO, maybe the Bills' other WRs aren't that good -- or maybe TO still is just that good. â†µâ†µ
â†µ(Meanwhile, who else thinks that the Titans should go to the classic Oilers "powder blue" full-time? Although I will say that the refs in orange is a look that doesn't need to be mainstreamed.) â†µâ†µ
â†µPro Football HOF Induction: I find it ironic that Bills owner Ralph Wilson is being heralded as this champion of the hard-working fans of Buffalo ... while he outsources "home" games out of the country, to Toronto. I know he is trying to broaden the Bills' fan base, but still. Anyhoo: Congrats, Ralph! â†µâ†µ
â†µJosh Hamilton's humiliation: For a player whose mythology rested so heavily on rehabilitation, the Deadspin pictures should have been a case-study of the usual hypocrisy cloaked in religion. But remove Hamilton's evangelism for a sec, and the guy has a disease -- one that obviously still controls him. â†µâ†µ
â†µMLB Talking Points â†µâ†µ
â†µ• Marlins sweep Phils: Suddenly 4 GB in NL East â†µâ†µ
â†µ• Braves still in the hunt, too. â†µâ†µ
â†µ• Ozzie Guillen: Blah, blah, blah. â†µâ†µ
â†µ• This is absurd: 8 straight Ws for Nats. â†µâ†µ
â†µ• Fantasy Stud: Derek Holland (CG 3H w/8K).
â†µLeBron not committing to Cavs: We have been over this before -- Cavs fans are acting like chumps for continuing to back a player who so obviously has no real loyalty for Cleveland or its fans. They might root for him while he's "theirs," but they know what's coming. And it sucks for them. â†µ
â†µNHL: Patrick Kane is an idiot. What kind of major pro athlete has to go around robbing -- allegedly robbing -- taxi drivers? â†µâ†µ
â†µCFB Coaches Poll Top 25: Florida rules. Why does the preseason coaches poll matter? Because in the event that Florida and the Texas/Oklahoma survivor both go unbeaten, it would be very difficult for another unbeaten (USC, Virginia Tech, Penn State, Boise State) to vault them. Remember: This is a poll that counts for 1/3 of the BCS. â†µâ†µ
â†µBrian Cook notes which three teams in the Top 15 are most likely to be busts. (He also tackles the "Non-BCS Ghetto" of 16-18, where Boise State, TCU and Utah are relegated. Beats having to climb the Top 25 from being unranked entirely.) â†µâ†µ
â†µMust-Read: Hayes on the best Saturday schedules of the college season. â†µâ†µ
â†µGolf: Tiger wins again, this time at the Bridgestone in Akron. The pivotal moment came on 16: Tiger birdied (thanks to an absolutely sick approach shot); Padraig Harrington choked on a triple-bogey 8. Game over. â†µâ†µ
â†µNBA Coaching Carousel: Kurt Rambis to coach the T'wolves. Good luck with that. â†µâ†µ
â†µCBB Recruiting: Dominique Ferguson picked Isiah Thomas over John Calipari. Now, maybe he wanted to get a stars' shots -- something that probably wouldn't happen at loaded Kentucky. Ferguson apparently thinks Thomas can get him to the NBA in a better, faster way. He really thinks this. â†µâ†µ
â†µSoccer: We have seen the plan for success for MLS ... all they have to do is keep bringing in top European clubs to play MLS teams in one-off exhibitions. â†µâ†µ
â†µYouTube Clip of the Day: That would be John Wall dunking on Jerry Stackhouse in a summer-league game. Wall is not just already the best player in college basketball, but he could start in the NBA tomorrow -- which is why he will be the No. 1 overall pick of the NBA Draft in 2010. â†µâ†µ
â†µThe Last Word: I have no quote from Michael Vick following his appearance talking to kids about the dangers of dog-fighting, but it remains his greatest P.R. move yet -- all stars looking to rehab their image need only frame it in terms of helping the children, and they would be fine. â†µâ†µ
â†µ(I contended at the time -- and still believe -- that if Mark McGwire simply 'fessed up to using PEDs, but then said he would devote the rest of his life to educating kids about the dangers of using them, he would be in the Hall of Fame right now.) â†µâ†µ
â†µIf you ARE looking for a Vick quote, try this one from his new mentor, Tony Dungy: â†µâ†µ
â†µ"I've talked to quite a few coaches who want to get my thoughts on where (Vick) is." â†µâ†µ
â†µThen again, Vick might undo all the goodwill from working with the kids by putting himself in stupid situations like this, where he could be videotaped with Young Jeezy -- these things always make it to YouTube. â†µâ†µ
â†µDan 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. â†µâ†µ
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