Shanoff's WUC: Oly, Tebow, UConn, Kobe, LT

Today's Calls: Martin Brodeur vs. Roberto Luongo, Virtue-Moir vs. Davis-White, New Tebow vs. Old Tebow, UConn vs. the Bubble, Hawks vs. History, Kobe vs. AI, Vince Wilfork vs. Julius Peppers, Tiger vs. Dan Jenkins and More. ↵

↵The 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: ↵

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↵• Canada is benching the greatest goalie ever.
↵• Tim Tebow is re-working his throwing motion.
↵• UConn puts another Top 10 name on its resume.
↵• Kobe is back -- do the Lakers even need him?
↵• The Hawks create some symbolism in Utah.
↵• LaDainian is going to wear a new jersey.
↵• Dan Jenkins refuses to prostrate to Tiger.
↵• Gagne says sorry, because he's supposed to?
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↵Get more on all of those and more after the jump ... ↵

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↵Hot 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. ↵

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↵(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.) ↵

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↵NFL Draft Watch: Tim Tebow won't be throwing at this week's Combine, instead reserving his reportedly rebuilt mechanics for Florida's "Pro Day" on March 17. ↵

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↵Some 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. ↵

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↵CBB 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. ↵

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↵NBA Talking Points: You know it's a breakthrough year for the Hawks when they win at Utah for the first time since February 1993. ↵

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↵Kobe is back tonight against the Grizzlies. Meanwhile, if AI really is finished with the Sixers, is he finished in the NBA, period? ↵

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↵NFL Offseason: ↵

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↵• 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? ↵

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↵• 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. ↵

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↵• Panthers do NOT franchise Julius Peppers: It's a bad offseason for him to test the market. ... ↵

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↵MLB 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. ↵

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↵Media: 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.) ↵

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↵TV 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. .... ↵

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↵Interesting 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. ↵

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↵The Last Word: "I know I'm not going to be here next year." -- Manny Ramirez, on his future with the Dodgers. ↵

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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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