Shanoff's WUC: Twins, Tigers, Tebow, Thigpen

Curtis GrandersonToday's Calls: Twins vs. Tigers, Tim Tebow vs. Stafon Johnson, Sam Bradford vs. Tyler Thigpen, Favre vs. Packers, Boise State vs. the Mountain West, Nets vs. Expectations, Chicago vs. Rio and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Is today's game "must-win" for the Twins? ↵

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↵Not precisely. But let's call it "really-really-really-really-need-to-win." ↵

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↵Because the Twins couldn't sweep the Tigers yesterday, if Minnesota doesn't win the final two games of this series — putting them in a tie with the Tigers with 3 games to play — the Twins are out. But a split (leaving them 2 GB with 3 to play) just won't be good enough, either. ↵

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↵Such is "magic number math," which is as much about perception as percentages. If the Twins lose today, they won't be mathematically eliminated — but 3 back with 4 to play would "all but eliminate" them: Minnesota tightens up, Detroit plays loose. And with yesterday's split, the Tigers know they merely need to split these final two games to wrap up the division, effectively. ↵

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↵And so if you want to use the math, let's just round up today's stakes for the Twins from "really-really-really-really-need-to-win" to the nearest "must-win." ↵

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↵NL Wild Card: Late win by Rockies puts Colorado up 3 games over the losing Braves with 5 games left to play, which feels like too much ground to cover for Atlanta. ↵

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↵Clinch Watch: The Red Sox are in (and the Rangers are out), as expected. More "expected" results: Phillies can clinch the NL East today; Dodgers can clinch the NL West. ↵

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↵More MLB: Between Jim Rice dissing Zack Greinke and, now, Mike Schmidt critiquing Mark Reynolds and Ryan Howard, the gap between older players and new (quantitative) realities in baseball has never been more stark. "When I was your age..." has never been a sound argument — in baseball or anywhere else. I think there's a strong case to be made that you'd rather have a "dangerous" hitter (which Schmidt nicks) than a "good" hitter (which Schmidt approves of). To me, "dangerous" will be high OPS; good will be high batting average. There's no contest: "Dangerous" is more valuable. ↵

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↵NFL Midweek: Everyone is talking about the hype for Favre-vs-Packers, but the story that should be at the top of everyone's list is this new report that NFL players suffer dementia at a rate far exceeding what is "normal." Of course, because the issue is medical (and complex), it will be marginalized, if not overlooked outright. ↵

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↵NFL Moves: Dolphins get QB Tyler Thigpen. Wait, I thought that Chad Henne was Miami's "QB of the Future?" And they spent a second-round draft pick on Pat White to be his backup/Wildcat specialist. Guess that might not be working out. ↵

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↵NFL Must-Read: Mike Tunison's Designed Rush, on the ascension of Eli Manning and the Giants. ↵

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↵Tim Tebow Injury Watch: On the one hand, Urban Meyer says he is "very proud" of the way Tebow has handled the rehab process. (Good: Maybe Tebow will voluntarily suggest he not play vs. LSU.) On the other hand, Meyer insisted that if Tebow is ready, he will start. (If he's ready? Newsflash: He won't be.) ↵

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↵More Injury Watching: Stafon Johnson appears to be OK after his surgery to repair his crushed throat. The doctor's astute analysis: You, the random fan, do NOT want to have this happen to you. ↵

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↵Should Sam Bradford have gone to the NFL after last season? I think if you are going to be the No. 1 overall pick (as Bradford projected to be, ahead of Matt Stafford), you would be crazy not to go pro. I appreciate that Bradford made another choice -- even if it was the entirely irrational choice. It's not Bob Stoops' fault, either. That said: Stoops needs to be less defensive about it. ↵

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↵BCS-Crashers: Boise State may be Top 5 now, but the presumption is that their flimsy strength of schedule will ultimately catch up to them and keep them out of a shot for the national-title game (which I think it should). Brian Cook made the constructive suggestion that it's time Boise State joined the Mountain West; the competition would be tougher, but the BCS bonafides would be stronger. And isn't Boise State always griping that teams won't play them? Put up or shut up, Broncos. ↵

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↵CFB Look-Ahead: Oklahoma at Miami. The most intriguing game of the week, even if the two teams involved have little-to-no chance of playing for the national title. ↵

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↵NBA Countdown: No. 29 Nets, and Shoals tries to make the best of a bad situation (Devin Harris! Terrence Williams! Chris Douglas-Roberts!) — but the reality is that things should be a lot more interesting for the Nets a year from now. ↵

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↵NBA going with replacement refs: Do people not use the word "scab" anymore? Is that politically incorrect or something? Has the strength of unions dwindled so much that we can't use the derogatory name for "replacements?" Anyway: The NBA is using scab refs. ↵

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↵Pop Culture: DeShawn Stevenson's new tattoos. Bethlehem Shoals asks the right question: "If he doesn't crack, why is there a crack on his head?" ↵

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↵Fan Media: It is a fan's photos that seems to show that it looks like Clint Barmes did NOT, in fact, make that crazy catch versus the Cardinals. If/when the Rockies end up edging the Braves for the playoffs, that "catch" will prove to be pivotal. Now: Someone please explain why some form of expanded (but still limited) replay in MLB — that would allow for review of catches, just like the NFL uses — is a bad thing? (And I say that as someone who would like to see the Rockies make the playoffs ahead of the Braves.) ↵

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↵The Last Word: "This changes absolutely nothing. This changes nothing." ↵
↵— Carlos Nuzman, who is leading the bid to get the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, on Barack Obama's involvement in the process on behalf of Chicago. (Sounds like wishful thinking on his part.) ↵

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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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