Shanoff's WUC: Harwell, Magic, Cal, Los Suns

Today's Calls: Ernie Harwell vs. Tigers fans, Hawks vs. Oblivion, Jazz vs. Gasol and Bynum, the Suns vs. "Los Suns," John Calipari vs. the NBA, Tazed Phillies fan vs. Tackled Phillies fan, Livan Hernandez vs. Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Willis vs. Pac-Man Jones, Cinco de Mayo vs. the Work Day and More. ↵

↵Ernie HarwellThe Opening Pitch: Let's turn today's lead item over to the late Ernie Harwell. My favorite lines from his 1955 Sporting News essay "The Game for All America": ↵

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↵It's America, this baseball ... ↵

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↵There's a man in Mobile who remembers a triple he saw Honus Wagner hit in Pittsburgh 46 years ago. That's baseball. So is the scout reporting that a 16-year-old sandlot pitcher in Cheyenne is the new "Walter Johnson." ... ↵

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↵It's a wizened little man shouting insults from the safety of his bleacher seat ... ↵

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↵Every heroic, every failing is seen and cheered — or booed. And then becomes a statistic ... ↵

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↵A man barking into a hot microphone about a cool beer, that's baseball. So is the sports writer telling a .383 hitter how to stride, and a 20-victory pitcher trying to write his impressions of the World Series ... ↵

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↵A lady celebrating a home team rally by mauling her husband with a rolled-up scorecard ... ↵

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↵Baseball is Tradition in flannel knickerbockers. And Chagrin in being picked off base. It is Dignity in the blue serge of an umpire running the game by rule of thumb. It is Humor, holding its sides when an errant puppy eludes two groundskeepers and the fastest outfielder. And Pathos, dragging itself off the field after being knocked from the box ... ↵

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↵Baseball is cigar smoke, hot-roasted peanuts, The Sporting News, winter trades, "Down in front," and the Seventh Inning Stretch. Sore arms, broken bats, a no-hitter, and the strains of the Star-Spangled Banner. ↵

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↵This is a game for all America, this baseball. ↵

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↵See his complete complete essay here. Condolences to his many fans. ↵

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↵NBA Playoff Mania: Lakers go up 2-0. Another big game for the Gasol-Bynum tandem, combining for 39 points on 70 percent FG shooting, with 29 rebounds and 6 blocks. And that's before considering Kobe's 30. ↵

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↵Magic destroy Hawks by 43: I'll hand it over to SN NBA expert Eric Freeman: "This was somehow even uglier than the score, and it's difficult to imagine how the Hawks can come back from such a wretched performance." ↵

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↵NBA Playoff Scheduling: I have mentioned this before, and we see it crystallized into its essence. Game 2 of Celtics-Cavs was Monday night. Game 3 is ... Friday night. Four days?! Can you imagine if baseball tried that? Ridiculous. ↵

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↵(Meanwhile, let's be clear: This is not appropriate for a GM.) ↵

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↵NBA Coaching Carousel: John Calipari won't leave Kentucky for the Bulls. Why would he? He is the reigning king of college basketball; he gets whatever recruit he wants; he makes more money than he could ever need and his teams will always be national title contenders. Why leave that to lose in the NBA? UKCoach4Life! ↵

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↵Politics: The Suns — led by Steve Nash — don't support Arizona's new immigration law. Perhaps they were going to wear their "Los Suns" jerseys tonight to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but it feels like a lot more than mere coincidence. ↵

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↵MLB Talking Points: Let's talk about the Tazed Phillies fan, because I glossed over it yesterday. The use of force was absurdly excessive. Instead, find competent security guards who have the ability to tackle a dorky, gangly teenager. ↵

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↵Last night, another fan ran onto the field and ballpark security (perhaps aware of yesterday's backlash) showed a lot more restraint — of course, the interloper didn't try to push the issue. (At first I thought it was a clever fan protest; then I realized: Nope, just another idiot.) ↵

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↵More: ↵

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↵— Shields (4-0) now one of AL's elite SP? ↵

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↵— Livan! Picks up 4th W. Comeback of year? ↵

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↵— Strasburg Watch: Promoted to AAA ↵

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↵— Fantasy Stud: Jose Bautista (HR, 2 RBI, SB) ↵

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↵NFL Offseason: Is Patrick Willis a future Hall of Famer? The 49ers are certainly paying him like he is. There's no question: He is an elite talent — the face of the Niners' D. (Hmm: Best defensive player on the West Coast?) ↵

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↵Pacman in Cincy? You'd think the Bengals would know better, but instead you get "Well, obviously." In one move, the Bengals would reclaim their status as the way-station of the NFL's misfits. ↵

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↵Brady Quinn in Jacksonville? Not happening. The Broncos didn't just trade for Quinn only to ship him out before they see how he fits in their system. If the Jags wanted an unproven young QB — or a Broncos QB — they should have drafted Tim Tebow. ↵

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↵CFB Reform: My favorite detail in Brian Cook's plan to change the bowl system is to let all teams — not just bowl teams — practice in December. This has always been a ridiculous advantage for the bowl-worthy that has much more to do with the next season than the bowl season. ↵

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↵Books: To follow up yesterday's item about Will Leitch's new baseball book "Are We Winning?" I was inspired to write a post about my own relationship with baseball and my dad and my own kids. Feel free to check it out. ↵

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↵The Last Word: Margarita. ↵

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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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