Shanoff's W.U.C.: Pedro, Rick, Vick, Mex, ND

Today's Calls: Pedro Martinez vs. Bad Fans, Rick Pitino vs. Louisville, U.S. vs. Mexico, Michael Vick vs. Michael Crabtree, Notre Dame vs. Expectations, Jeremy Tyler vs. Israel, Aaron Corp vs. Matt Barkley and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Expectations are everything in sports. ↵

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↵• Pedro was serviceable in his Phillies debut. Not an ace, but not a disaster. Success! ↵

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↵• Yes, Rick Pitino turns out to be pretty sleazy. But he apologized! (Apparently good enough for Louisville honchos, who back him.) ↵

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↵• Hard-hitting "journalist" James Brown is already softening up people for Mike Vick's "60 Minutes" redemption spot. ↵

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↵• US Soccer played for the tie in Mexico -- and settled for a close loss. Better than a blowout! ↵

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↵• Darrius Heyward-Bey might have been an overrated Top 10 draft pick, but at least HE signed a freaking contract. ↵

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↵• Tom Brady returns to game action tonight! (Don't expect more than a single series.) ↵

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↵• Joe Montana would apparently like Notre Dame to re-brand its motto as "Play like a bowl-eligible team today." ↵

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↵It makes Florida's "Undefeated or FAIL" (no matter how much Urban Meyer tries to tamp down that kind of talk) kind of charming. ↵

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↵Because we all know that the way to go in sports is to keep expectations as low as possible. ↵

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↵More on Pedro: Dan Levy nailed this. Pedro's start was hijacked by a moronic Cubs fan who gleefully threw a beer at Shane Victorino. Adding insult to insult, the fan got away. I think all fans can agree that bad fans are the worst. (And the cheering fans around him should be exiled, too.) ↵

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↵US Soccer loses in Mexico: I guess close is better than blowout. Felt like Bradley's decision to play "prevent" and go for the tie -- which, to be fair, would have felt like a win -- ultimately cost the US the game. Visual of the Game: Landon Donovan lining up for a late corner kick, getting pelted by soda cups ... and worse. ↵

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↵Vick Watch: James Brown previewed his "60 Minutes" segment with Michael Vick after having done the interview with him today. Or "interview." Based on what Brown had to say, it sounds like he was pretty sympathetic -- then again, Brown is not a journalist; he is host of an NFL Sunday show. There is a reason that Brown got the interview and not -- say -- Armen Keteyian. ↵

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↵No, Vick was not in Chicago to visit the Bears -- at least on its face. He was there for the children. The children! ↵

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↵Meanwhile, Iyer thinks that the Pats and Steelers remain the most likely candidates to sign Vick, and it makes sense: They have the winners' cred and the strong team cultures that would minimize PR blowback and keep Vick focused. (NOT bullish on Panthers, though.) ↵

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↵Rick Pitino apologizes: And I think the scandal is over, a brief 24-hour supernova of sensationalism, mainly stemming from the detail that Pitino paid Karen Sypher $3,000 to have an abortion. Pitino apologized. More importantly, school honchos are behind him. Yeah, like they'd FIRE HIM over this? Please. ↵

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↵Hot NFL Preseason Action! ↵

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↵• Redskins at Ravens: Development of Flacco ↵
↵• Patriots at Eagles: Brady in live-action! ↵
↵• Cards at Steelers: Super Bowl "rematch" ↵
↵• Cowboys at Raiders: It's McFadden time. ↵

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↵Holdouts: What, exactly, does Michael Crabtree think he's proving? ↵

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↵Darrius Heyward-Bey might never be worth the No. 7 pick that Oakland made him, but at least he signed and is on the field; the 49ers look like chumps for taking what turns out to be the malcontent of the draft. ↵

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↵Must-Read: Florio on the AFC Playoff Picture. He has last year's teams (plus the Pats, obviously) in the mix, with the Jags and Texans on the verge of making the playoff leap. Hard to figure out which AFC power they would displace. ↵

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↵MLB Talking Points ↵

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↵• Don't fight: Youk, Porcello banned 5 games each. ↵

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↵• Griffey! Hero in Seattle once more! ↵

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↵• Forget AL East scrum: Watch those Angels. ↵

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↵• Walk-Off Watch: Uribe salvages series for SF vs. LA. ↵

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↵• Chris Carpenter is rolling (7 str. Ws). ↵

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↵• Fantasy Stud: Hunter Pence (2 HR, 6 RBI) ↵

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↵MLB Must-Read: Bronson Arroyo on PEDs. There is a LOT of truth-telling in what he is saying. Like Canseco, not sure if people want to hear it -- or how he's delivering it is optimal. ↵

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↵(Most interesting detail to me: Did Curt Schilling peddle amphetamines -- sorry: "caffeine" -- to his teammate Arroyo? Was Schilling taking this special caffeine after the MLB ban on amphetamines in 2006? Schilling has been outspoken about PEDs. Let's be clear: Souped-up "caffeine" products are PEDs. ↵

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↵CFB: Will Aaron Corp's injury issues open the door for true freshman Matt Barkley to steal USC's starting QB job? ↵

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↵CFB: Who's No. 1? Per my observation earlier this week that Florida's schedule wasn't the cupcake-laden thing people claim it is, note that Troy (which gave LSU a game last season) is picked to win the Sun Belt Conference. ↵

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↵NBA Offseason: If the Wizards stay completely healthy, they will shock the "experts" and win the East. Of course, being the Wizards, there is no chance they will stay completely healthy. Sure, Arenas looks good now (and Oberto's heart is OK now). ... ↵

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↵Scandal (or Potential Scandal): Four words for you -- Baron Davis sex tape? ↵

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↵Jeremy Tyler will play for Maccabi Haifa, which is a better team in a better league than anything he would see as a high school senior -- or college freshman. Tyler will be better prepared for the NBA for his two years in the Israeli pro leagues than the combo of getting mauled as a prep and playing for a college coach who cares more about his personal job security than developing a one-and-done player for the NBA. ↵

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↵UFL Watch: Orlando Tuskers. California Redwoods. Las Vegas Locomotives. No logos, just team names and color schemes across uniform uniforms. New team names are nothing compared to the NFL draft-ineligible names they SHOULD be introducing: Terrelle Pryor. Julio Jones. Carlos Dunlap. ↵

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↵PGA Championship: Um, yeah. I'll take Tiger. If it's anyone else who wins -- ok, besides Tom Watson -- the tournament is a failure anyway. ↵

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↵The Last Word: "8-4, I think he's still OK. If it's me, I think he's OK, because he's under different circumstances than a lot of those other teams." -- Joe Montana, on why he supports Charlie Weis: In short, Notre Dame's academics just make fielding a title contender TOO HARD! WAH-WAH! ↵

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↵Give me a break. Notre Dame is in the mix for EVERY big recruit nationally (see Weis's last few classes). Their brand remains the biggest in college football -- its own form of advantage. They get a freaking AUTOMATIC BCS-level bowl bid if they hit a certain threshold. Charlie Weis is terrible and expectations SHOULD be managed, but Notre Dame is finished as a brand the moment they say "Play like a bowl-eligible team today!" ↵

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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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