The Opening Pitch: It is hard to begrudge Canada its hockey gold, just as it is hard to begrudge Canada most everything. They are our benign neighbors to the north, and they deserved this.
They deserved it because hockey is their sport -- oh, just save your nasty e-mails, U.S. hockey fans -- and because they were in front of their fans, who put on a heck of a show for the 2-week Olympic stretch.
They deserved it because when the U.S. put in that game-tying goal with just seconds to go in the third period, you could see the cracks in the normally placid Canadian psyche -- their team was going to choke this one away.
And, yes, that would have ruined what should have rightfully been a triumphalist moment for the country. The U.S. already had its killer medal count and even a claim on the more likable hockey team on the ice.
So while the gold in hockey would have been nice for the U.S. -- which surely should be considered favorites in Sochi in 2014 -- it was essential for Canada.
It is hard not to be happy for Canada’s fans. That basic pleasantness feels like the most appropriate way to salute Canada and Canadians on their hockey win and their terrific Olympic hosting.
CBB Mania: Purdue is not a No. 1 seed without Robbie Hummel. The loss to Michigan State merely confirmed what we already knew. This team is no better than a 4-seed.
The losses by Kansas and Kentucky are the kind of thing that should shake any confidence you had about correctly picking a Final Four with teams that seem like "locks." KU and UK should absolutely remain favorites to win four straight in the Tournament, but you can't say that picking them won't be without second-guesses.
The No. 1 team in the country? Syracuse, who should be your current favorite to win it all, too.
NFL Draft: Tim Tebow was the obsession at the Combine, and -- if you only look at measurables -- he excelled, showing speed (4.7 40), quickness (QB-leading 6.66 in 3-cone drill), an eye-popping vertical (QB-leading 38.5) and power (2nd-best broad jump in the group). So check the box for "athleticism."
The 40 is the glamour stat for RBs and WRs -- Jacoby Ford wowed with a sub-4.3, and even though C.J. Spiller didn't crack that, he still went sub-4.4, as did Jahvid Best. (Prediction: Spiller will be next season's Offensive Rookie of the Year.)
Jimmy Clausen: "I just want to go somewhere where they want me." I haven't spoken to a fan yet that would be excited about having their team take him. Now, that has nothing to do with a team executive being excited about him, but I think fans see him as Brady Quinn 2.0.
Antrel Rolle has earned that $4 million bonus, and I hope that some other team swoops in and swipes him from the Cardinals, if they really do cut him to try to save some cash.
NBA Talking Points: The Lakers win over the Nuggets felt like foreshadowing. Meanwhile, watch the Mavs; they have won 7 straight. (I was in Atlanta and saw Dallas beat the Hawks in OT on Friday night. It was fun to see Jason Kidd get that monster triple-double, but I was mostly shocked at how underwhelming Josh Smith was.)
Shaq out for rest of regular season: It really doesn't matter, as long as Shaq (and Ilgauskas) are available for the playoffs.
MLB Spring Training: Aroldis Chapman has nearly the hype of Stephen Strasburg -- and, in his initial pitches, seems to be doing just as well.
NFL changing OT system? I agree with Hutchins that the college system is the best option. It will never happen.
The Last Word: "It feels like s--t." -- USA Hockey goaltender Ryan Miller.
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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