Shanoff's WUC: Yankees, Cards, Greinke, Vick

Today's Calls: Yankees vs. Expectations, Mike Vick vs. Wildcat, Marion Barber vs. Tony Romo, Cardinals vs. Magic Numbers, Mark Reynolds vs. Zack Greinke, Jahvid Best vs. Tim Tebow, Pete Carroll vs. Aaron Corp and More.
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↵The Opening Pitch: The Yankees clinched a playoff spot? So what? ↵

↵Yes, it is an improvement from last year's exile from the postseason, which triggered the bank-breaking signings of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira -- and yielded the extra wins this season to make the playoff field. ↵

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↵But the Yankees didn't make those moves to return to the playoffs -- they made those moves to get back the title they haven't held since 2000: World Series champs. ↵

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↵Like Florida in college football or the Lakers in pro hoops or North Carolina in college basketball, anything less than a championship will be -- and should be -- considered a failure. ↵

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↵On the one hand, the Yankees can't win a title without making the playoffs. So: Yes, fine, that's done. ↵

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↵But whether they get there via division title or the wild card, whether they have home-field advantage or have to go on the road, whether they have to go through the Angels, Tigers or Red Sox -- those are all extraneous details. ↵

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↵Back in the playoffs? Fine. Now the Yankees better go win the whole thing. Or they're no more "successful" than last year. ↵

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↵Vick watch: We have never seen a very good quarterback playing out of the Wildcat since the formation only burst onto the scene a year ago. Even with diminished skills, Mike Vick represents the most intriguing player to line up in it. Clifton Brown has the scenarios. (I think he will excel.) ↵

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↵NFL midweek injury watch: Marion Barber is out 1-2 weeks. That's a boost to those of you who own Felix Jones or Tashard Choice in fantasy. Those of you who own Tony Romo and suffered through Sunday night's debacle -- well, I have no good news for you. ↵

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↵Plaxico sentenced: Plaxico Burress is suddenly the star of the prison intramural football league. You still don't want to be Cellblock D's "waiver claim." ↵

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↵NFL must-read: Michael Tunison's Designed Rush. ↵

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↵Magic numbers: Two, for the Cards, who are hotter than any team in the NL right now. (Must-Read: Dan Levy's magic number analysis.) ↵

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↵Greinke for AL Cy: He allows 0 ER and just 2 H in 6 IP, racking up his 15th win by beating the playoff-bound Red Sox. There should be no question that Greinke is the best pitcher in the AL. He leads in ERA (by a ton), he is second in strikeouts -- and he does it on one of the AL's worst teams. ↵

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↵MLB milestones: Mark Reynolds breaks his own MLB single-season record for strikeouts -- he is now at 206 (previous record: 204) -- with plenty of games remaining to make it potentially the most untouchable single-season record in baseball history. ↵

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↵(For the record, Reynolds has nearly as many Ks as Greinke -- that has to count for something, right?) ↵

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↵Curt Schilling not running for Senate: Let's all thank him for sparing us that. ↵

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↵CFB: Flaws in the top contenders? I think all this talk about Florida lacking playmakers -- or that they relied too much on Tebow against Tennessee -- is overblown. The team's best receiver, Deonte Thompson, was out with an injury. The team's best running back, Jeff Demps, was battling the flu. The team's best non-Tebow offensive player overall, tight end Aaron Hernandez, was sick, too. When they are all healthy, things will be fine. ↵

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↵Heisman watch: Looking back, oh, three weeks ago, did anyone have Jahvid Best crashing the top two of the most reputable in-season Heisman straw poll? A 5-touchdown day -- plus the struggles of Colt McCoy and the absence of Sam Bradford -- will do that for you. (Tebow seems impervious.) ↵

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↵Name to know: James Isch, replacing the late Myles Brand as the interim head of the NCAA. As the org's CFO, maybe he can show the member schools just how much money they would all make if they adopted a college football playoff. ↵

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↵(By the way, as if non-BCS schools didn't get the financial side of the shaft, a new study shows that the NCAA tends to punish those "have-nots" more harshly than schools from BCS leagues, too.) ↵

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↵CBB must-read: DeCourcy's top five shooting guards, led by Oklahoma's Willie Warren. No argument here. It will be interesting to see how good he is (or isn't) without Blake Griffin drawing most of the attention. ↵

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↵Why the NBDL rules: A league owner is willing to give $100,000 to charity to get Michael Jordan to play Bryon Russell in one-on-one. He could probably make that back by putting the game on pay-per-view at $1 per viewer. ↵

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↵YouTube clip of the day: I want to believe. Really, I do. ↵

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↵The last word: "He struggled with anything downfield. We were very fortunate that we didn't throw three or four more picks. There were three or four more there." -- Pete Carroll, always hailed as some sort of consummate "player's coach," throwing one of his players under the bus.
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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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