Shanoff's WUC: The State of the Sports Union

Today's Calls: Kentucky vs. Devan Downey, Tim Tebow vs. Dexter McCluster, Brett Favre vs. Donovan McNabb, Elin Woods vs. Deanna Favre, Greg Oden vs. the Internet, Paul Shirley vs. Haiti, Tablet vs. Anything Else and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: The state of the sports union is ... extremely strong. I can't speak for the rest of the union, but sports is humming along nicely. ↵

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↵The NFL is as popular as it has ever been, and features a Super Bowl pairing of the most heart-warming team story and its most popular individual player. (The most popular college football player ever is on deck to join the league later this year.) ↵

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↵Baseball saw the re-ascension of its uber-team, the Yankees, to the championship -- a perfect bookend to a decade that saw the team go from the top to a crater, then back again (thanks to its own version of "economic stimulus"). ↵

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↵To many of its avid fans, the NBA is as good as it has ever been -- the teams at the top are excellent, there are a couple of exciting young rising clubs and even fans of the teams at the bottom can look ahead to the summer spending spree. ↵

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↵Despite continued issues with the BCS system, college football fans stayed glued to the games this season, undermining the populist argument that there is an active sentiment to change the system. ↵

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↵And, thanks to last night's upset (see next item), the college hoops season has officially reached "wide open" status, with arguments to be made for at least a half-dozen teams (or more) having a shot at winning six straight in March. ↵

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↵There is one sector of sports that could use a break: Golf. Its main -- arguably only -- mainstream attraction is more freak show than superstar. But by the summer, expect the whole Tiger thing to be in the background. ↵

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↵Sports is coming off a terrific year, and fans can look forward to a great year -- headlined by the World Cup, which will be the most-tracked sports event in human history. ↵

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↵Now, about that economy. ... ↵

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↵CBB Mania: Kentucky shocked at South Carolina. As John Calipari noted, UK can't put teams away, letting them stick around until the final few minutes. This time, it jumped up and bit them in the form of 5-9 Devan Downey, a scoring machine who lit them for 30. More interestingly, now every team has lost -- your bracket-picking just got murkier. ↵

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↵Well, at least Coach Cal and the Cats got that congratulatory call from President Obama about their incredible work with Haiti relief fund-raising. ↵

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↵Senior Bowl/Tebow Bowl: Better on Day 2 than Day 1, which isn't saying a lot in an absolute sense, but still -- to Tony Sparano's point -- shows that Tebow can take direction and quickly implement it. Oh, and he is battling strep. Ever try to complete the first stage of a high-pressure job interview when sick? ↵

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↵Meanwhile, Dexter McCluster has had a great week so far, as has Tebow's teammate Riley Cooper, who may find himself as the sleeper riser of the draft at WR. ↵

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↵Favre Watch: So what if Favre retires? (If only.) Everyone seems to think that the Vikings will target Donovan McNabb or Matt Hasselbeck (not that either QB's current teams have indicated they will let them go). The Vikings could go with a rookie like Colt McCoy, but their window feels like it's closing -- why not go for broke with one of the two vets? ↵

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↵Meanwhile: Check out the team-by-team priorities over in the AFC, by division. ↵

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↵CFB Pre-pre-preseason Top 10: I agree with all the names, but we're going to quibble about the order. (Miami at No. 6 ahead of Florida? Don't think so.) ↵

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↵Tiger Watch: So the latest is that Elin is rumored to have bunked with Deanna Favre while checking on Tiger in Mississippi rehab. Then, Elin left to return to Orlando and indicated the divorce is off. Just when you thought it couldn't get any more surreal. ... ↵

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↵Greg Oden nude pics: Wow. Just ... wow. ↵

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↵Paul Shirley: Wow, that guy just obliterated any credit he had earned as being some kind of insightful NBA player-turned-writer. As Deadspin's Tommy Craggs put it: "From poor man's Jim Bouton to tall man's Pat Robertson." ↵

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↵MLB Hot Stove: Oakland puts the "money" back in "Moneyball," signing Ben Sheets to a 1Y/$10M deal, which seems awfully high given Sheets' recent injury history. Hope they included some sort of clause about only paying for performance. ↵

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↵Meanwhile: Frank Francisco will be back closing games for the Rangers next season for $3.27M, so the Rangers sidestep arbitration with him that might have cost them another couple hundred thousand dollars (that they can now spend on Scott Feldman, who is also headed for arbitration.) ↵

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↵The Last Word: Tablet. Obviously. ↵

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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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