Shanoff's W.U.C.: Decade's Best, Eli, Rays

Vince YoungToday's Calls: Tebow vs. Leinart, Kobe vs. Duncan, Pujols vs. A-Rod, Brady vs. Manning, Eli Manning vs. Vince Young, Delaware vs. NFL, Brandon Roy vs. Kurt Rambis and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Who are the best athletes, per sport, of this decade? I love SN's new fan poll, but it is not without its flaws. ↵

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↵Start with this: If NASCAR gets three choices, a couple of other sports absolutely deserved three contenders. In college football, how can you say "Leinart vs. Tebow" but not include a player arguably better than both: Vince Young? ↵

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↵In the NBA, Kobe vs. Duncan is fine, but — um — where's LeBron? ↵

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↵Given the choices, it feels like the leading criteria was championships — not a bad metric at all. (Although I would argue that LeBron, even without a ring, has been so transcendent that he deserves consideration despite having no titles.) ↵

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↵In that sense, the NFL debate between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning isn't close — Brady and his multiple titles over Peyton's single ring. (Check out CHFF's statistical comparison of the two — and, if rings matter, consider that perhaps Ben Roethlisberger is at least worthy of being a contender, too.) ↵

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↵That's a pretty good tie-breaker in baseball, too: If the stats (and PEDs ... and personality ...) didn't convince you, Pujols tops A-Rod with that World Series ring. ↵

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↵And if titles DO matter, I would argue that setting the college hoops debate between Hansbrough vs. Jason Williams ignores two players who I would rank ahead of Williams: Carmelo, who — game-for-game — had more impact than any college hoops player this decade, and Joakim Noah, who won as many national titles as Hansbrough and Williams combined, with a fraction of their skills or prep acclaim. ↵

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↵My votes: Young (but Tebow over Leinart); LeBron (but Kobe over Duncan); Brady; Pujols; Carmelo (but Psycho-T over Williams); Brodeur; Johnson. ↵

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↵Vote here (unofficially for the magazine), and put your own picks in the comments. ↵

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↵Eli Manning deal: Does the Giants QB deserve to be the highest-paid player in the NFL? (6Y/$97M w/ $35M guaranteed) Short answer: Yes. Between his place as the franchise QB in the NFL's biggest city, his Super Bowl heroics and his career upside, if any player should be "highest paid," it's Eli. ↵

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↵NFL Must-Read: Mike Florio on the NFC playoff contenders, from most likely to least. (In: Seahawks, Out: Cards) Great stat: Since '06, all but three NFC teams have made the playoffs. ↵

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↵MLB Talking Points ↵

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↵— Rays mini-sweep Red Sox: TB stakes claim to A.L. supremacy. ↵

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↵— Next for Red Sox: Yankees in N.Y. (No Bay?) ↵

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↵— MIL-LA quiet: MLB season too long for feuds to linger. ↵

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↵— Rehab: Pedro with 11 Ks. Hmm ... ↵

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↵— Milestones: Thome hits HRs No. 560/561 (2 behind Reggie) ↵

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↵— Fantasy Stud: J.A. Happ (CG SO 4-H w/ 10 Ks) ↵

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↵Gambling: As expected, no injunction from a judge that will support the major sports leagues' claims that Delaware sports gambling will harm their sports. (For a terrific analysis foreshadowing the ruling, check out Prof. Gabe Feldman's post at Sports Law Blog.) ↵

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↵NBA Offseason: Brandon Roy locked up for a five-year extension. Portland is perhaps the most promising up-and-coming team in the NBA, and the player in the center of that strategy is Roy. Still a bit staggering that he slipped to No. 6 in the 2006 draft (behind Shelden Williams, T-Thomas, Morrison, Aldridge and Bargnani.) ↵

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↵Coaching Carousel: Kurt Rambis to be named T-wolves coach? Good luck on that. (At least he will have a nice nucleus in Al Jefferson, Kevin Love and Jonny Flynn.) ↵

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↵CFB Rankings: The Coaches' Top 25 comes out tomorrow, and based on the snafu in the SEC a few weeks ago, I think the question every participating coach should be asked is: "Did you actually fill in your own ballot?" Of course, the AFCA (and their willing accomplice, USA Today) won't let you see how the coaches actually voted. No, that would be asking WAY too much. ↵

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↵Coaches All-Time Top 50, Cont'd: Got an email from reader Joe B., who pointed out that no Top 50 list of great team coaches could be complete without the great Iowa wrestling coach Dan Gable. I agree: They should say "All-Time Top 50 Coaches in NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and college football or basketball." ↵

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↵Events: For folks in New York, this month's Varsity Letters Reading Series is a must-see: Grant Wahl, Wright Thompson and Bruce Weber. What an all-star lineup. It's in Brooklyn tonight at 8 and it's f-r-e-e. Complete details here. ↵

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↵Economy: OK, so that's really it for Arena, isn't it? ↵

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↵The Last Word: "I don't know when I'll start again. But I will be the next black quarterback to win a Super Bowl. And I will be in the Hall of Fame." ↵
↵— Vince Young, either necessarily confident or unnecessarily delusional, in the latest issue of Esquire magazine. ↵

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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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