â†µThe Opening Pitch: Appearances mean a lot in sports, and I'm not just talking about ice-dancing postures. This morning has a slew of appearance-equals-reality story lines: â†µâ†µ
â†µ• Canada is benching the greatest goalie ever.
â†µ• Tim Tebow is re-working his throwing motion.
â†µ• UConn puts another Top 10 name on its resume.
â†µ• Kobe is back -- do the Lakers even need him?
â†µ• The Hawks create some symbolism in Utah.
â†µ• LaDainian is going to wear a new jersey.
â†µ• Dan Jenkins refuses to prostrate to Tiger.
â†µ• Gagne says sorry, because he's supposed to?
â†µGet more on all of those and more after the jump ... â†µâ†µ
â†µHot Winter Olympics Action: Think Canada is freaking out a bit after their hockey loss to the U.S.? They benched Brodeur for Luongo. Nope, no panic there. â†µâ†µ
â†µ(At least the Canadians can beat the U.S. in at least one event -- ice dancing -- where Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir winning gold ahead of Michigan students Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who earned silver.) â†µâ†µ
â†µSome might say that Tebow throwing at the Senior Bowl was a mistake, but I think it was necessary in two ways: (1) Gave him a sense of just how much the draftnik critics hated him, and (2) creates the "redemption" story line that the media loves -- and an NFL team owner can use as pretext for a draft-day reach. â†µâ†µ
â†µCBB Mania: UConn may have 11 losses and be sub-.500 in the Big East, but they have racked up another impressive, resume-bolstering win over a Top 10 team: West Virginia. If one of the qualities of an at-large team is potential to ruin the chalk -- and it should be -- then gloriously inconsistent UConn certainly qualifies. â†µâ†µ
â†µNBA Talking Points: You know it's a breakthrough year for the Hawks when they win at Utah for the first time since February 1993. â†µâ†µ
â†µNFL Offseason: â†µâ†µ
â†µ• Chargers cut LaDainian Tomlinson: Now we can start the fun game to figure out where he lands. He still probably wants to be the No. 1 RB and avoid the carry-sharing that got him so miffed in SD. Takers? â†µâ†µ
â†µ• Pats franchise Vince Wilfork: Makes a ton of sense. If they're going to get back to prominence, it'll have to come via the D-line. â†µâ†µ
â†µ• Panthers do NOT franchise Julius Peppers: It's a bad offseason for him to test the market. ... â†µâ†µ
â†µMLB PED Scandal: Eric Gagne admits to cheating. The part that drives me crazy is the "I just feel so guilty!" wailing. He didn't look like he felt guilty as he was fist-pumping his way to that saves record. â†µâ†µ
â†µMedia: I give the golf media a ton of grief for being in Tiger's pocket, but it's nice to see that the dean of all golf writers, Dan Jenkins, isn't having it. (My one quibble: Dan, it's hard to take you entirely seriously when Tiger Woods gets a "contributing editor" credit on your own magazine's masthead.) â†µâ†µ
â†µTV Ratings: The U.S.-Canada hockey game was the 2nd-most-watched thing ever on MSNBC, behind only Election Night 2008. Still ain't "Miracle-esque." See next item. .... â†µâ†µ
â†µInteresting reader response to yesterday's lead down-playing the U.S. hockey win over Canada. I'm not saying that if the U.S. wins a medal, it won't be a big deal; I'm saying that until they medal, it's not a "tremendously tremendous" big deal. And it's near-heresy to even put Sunday and "Miracle" in the same conversation, unless you're specifically pointing out that they are not analogous. â†µâ†µ
â†µThe Last Word: "I know I'm not going to be here next year." -- Manny Ramirez, on his future with the Dodgers. â†µâ†µ
â†µDan 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. â†µâ†µ
This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.