Shanoff's WUC: Don't Call USA Win a Miracle

Today's Calls: USA vs. Canada, Tiger vs. Buddhism, Bode Miller vs. Apolo Ohno, T-Mac vs. New York, Magic vs. Cavs, Stephen Strasburg vs. Expectations and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: USA Hockey's win over Canada was hardly "Miracle 2.0." ↵

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↵What, exactly, did Team USA win? ↵

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↵OK: A bye to the quarterfinals. And beating Canada on Canada's home ice was a confidence-booster for a young team that has been thinking more about Sochi 2014 than Vancouver 2010. ↵

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↵In fact, the "just trying to get seasoning" was a perfect bit of expectations-setting for the U.S. In a Vancouver field this tough, that was a necessity. ↵

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↵But the fact is: The U.S. didn't really win anything last night. It was as ultimately meaningless as any "big" regular-season win in a lot of sports -- Cavs over Lakers, Colts over Pats, Red Sox over Yankees, Duke over UNC. ↵

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↵If anything, the win set up brutal terms for a rematch -- and if Russia or the Scandinavian powers were going to overlook the U.S. before, they certainly won't now. ↵

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↵Now, the old expectations are gone, and this team carries the weight of the exceptionalism that typically follows every U.S. Olympic effort: Win or bust. ↵

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↵Because if the U.S. can beat Canada, they should be able to beat anyone. Just getting reps for 2014 isn't enough anymore; after last night, it's not unfair to say that if this team doesn't medal out, this tournament is a failure. ↵

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↵But, hey, it could be worse: They could be Team Canada right now. Yikes. ↵

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↵Tiger "Apology": Say this: The coverage was so over-the-top and ubiquitous that you get the sense that no one wants to talk about this story anymore. So whether that was Tiger's intention or not, he wins ... for now. But generally, his performance felt stilted, if mostly sincere. ↵

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↵I found Tiger's discussion of turning to Buddhism to be an unexpected and refreshing change of pace from the rote emphasis usually placed on Judeo-Christian faiths during moments like these. ↵

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↵Hot Winter Olympic Action: ↵

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↵• Thrill of Victory: Bode Miller, who redeemed his debacle in Turin in 2006 with a gold in the super-combined. ↵

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↵• Agony of Defeat: Shani Davis, who was edged out of gold in speed-skating's premier event -- the 1500, in which Davis holds the W.R. -- by a mere half-second. ↵

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↵• Moment: Ovi crushes Jagr. ↵

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↵Hot Rod Tragedy: Any time a fan dies at a sports event, it's horrible -- particularly when the sports event causes the death. The National Hot Rod Association is going to have to change its policies after a piece of a wreck struck and killed a fan in the stands. ↵

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↵CBB Mania: This is the time of year when you file away wins -- and losses -- for reference in a few weeks when you fill out your brackets. And struggling Villanova losing at Pitt is one I'll remember. (Less swayed by Ohio State over Michigan State -- or Kentucky over Vanderbilt.) ↵

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↵Of the Bracket Buster series, I was most impressed by Butler throttling Siena. (So was DeCourcy.) ↵

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↵NBA Talking Points: Maybe we shouldn't be so quick to assume that the arrival of Jamison -- not to mention the record the rest of the season -- gives the Cavs a pass to the East conference title. They still have to get through the Magic -- and yesterday shows why Orlando won't be quick to give it up. ↵

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↵T-Mac's Knicks debut: A success on multiple levels. Obviously, he represents massive cap clearance for the Knicks this summer. But his 26-point debut gives the Knicks a must-see player for the rest of the season -- and makes the team, despite obviously giving up on this season, worth peeking in on from time to time. ↵

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↵NFL Combine starts Wednesday. Start your prep with this from Florio. ↵

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↵MLB Spring Training: All eyes on Stephen Strasburg, who will be the most-watched rookie of the 2010 season, in his Nats spring debut. ↵

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↵Not-So-Social Media: Did Oregon kick WR Jamere Holland off the team for a Facebook post? (Not entirely, and it sounds like the guy had a longer history of issues. But it's an easy and odd shorthand.) ↵

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↵Golf: Is there a more eclipsed story line in the sport than the guy who won the 2010 Match Play title? (Ian Poulter) ↵

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↵The Last Word: "I'll sound like a broken record. But I'm just not going to talk about it. It's a lot easier that way." -- Joe Mauer, reporting for spring training ... and NOT talking about his new contract. ↵

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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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