Shanoff's WUC: AL East, World Cup, CP3-Bron?

Today's Calls: Yankees vs. Red Sox. vs. Rays, Derrick Favors vs. DeMarcus Cousins, Chris Paul vs. LeBron James, Mexico vs. Uruguay, France vs. Oblivion, D-backs vs. A.J. Burnett, Steve Smith vs. Flag Football, Brett Favre vs. Expectations, Roger Federer vs. Alejandro Falla, Rose Bowl vs. Citi and More. ↵

↵David OrtizThe Opening Pitch: If you've had your attention distracted by college football realignment, the NBA Finals and the World Cup, today is a good day to re-set on baseball (before diving back into World Cup and the NBA draft to close out the week). ↵

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↵Here are the three most interesting things in baseball right now: ↵

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↵(1) The AL East is monstrous. The Yankees just took over first place from the Rays, who had been leading for the first 10 weeks of the season. Meanwhile, the Red Sox are SN's No. 1 team in MLB this week. All three are playing over .600. ↵

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↵It seems entirely absurd that one of these teams is going to get locked out of the playoffs. No knock against the Twins or the Rangers, but they simply don't compare. With attention this month on college football switcheroos, how about taking up realignment in baseball: Eliminate divisions, with balanced scheduling and the top four teams making the playoffs. (Better yet: Make it the top eight teams, with a quick CWS-style double-elimination weekend to get each league down to four teams.) ↵

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↵(2) Stephen Strasburg is the best pitcher in baseball. OK: Maybe not. But you would be forgiven for thinking he is, based on the massive attention he gets. So let's call Strasburg the most popular player in baseball. The big question is whether he will earn a spot on the NL All-Star team. I think that after two more solid starts, it becomes a no-brainer "yes." ↵

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↵(3) If Strasburg isn't the best, then who is? If you had to hand out awards right now, Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez is, hands-down, pitching better than anyone in the league right now. (Can't wait to see him face the Red Sox lineup on Wednesday.) So give Ubaldo the NL Cy, with the AL still a toss-up. Let's give it to TB's David Price, having a breakthrough year (despite losing Sunday to Josh Johnson, who might be the second-best pitcher in baseball behind Ubaldo.) ↵

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↵On the MVP side, take the opportunity of the Yankees moving into first place to give it to Robinson Cano in the AL; in the NL, the Padres pitching might be carrying them to an early lead in the NL West, but credit Adrian Gonzalez for his offense. ↵

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↵There: Feel caught up? Back to gearing up for U.S.-Algeria tomorrow. ... ↵

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↵LeBron Watch: Hey, if you want LeBron on your team, it's simple — all you have to do is acquire Chris Paul. Easy, right? ↵

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↵No teams with cap space to get LeBron have the assets to trade for Paul (although it is interesting to consider whether the Hornets are better off with CP3 backup Darren Collison, along with Nets trade bait Derrick Favors and Devin Harris, than with Paul and limited talent around him). ↵

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↵Let me throw this entirely improbable scenario out there: If they knew it would secure LeBron, what if the Bulls offered Derrick Rose for Paul, straight up? (BTW: It's not like CP3 isn't an injury risk. Or, should I say, further injury risk.) ↵

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↵NBA Draft: The most intriguing debate? Picking at No. 3 between Derrick Favors or DeMarcus Cousins — substantial upside versus the most NBA-capable post player in the draft. If I'm the Nets, I go Favors and hope to get a poor man's Dwight Howard. ↵

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↵(As for Cousins, it is unlikely he will join the big man log-jam in Minnesota, which loves Wes Johnson. Could he go to Sacto at No. 5? The Kings just traded for Sam Dalembert to play center. That leaves the Warriors at No. 6; rumor has it Cousins doesn't want to play there. Tough. But if Golden State gets scared off, the Pistons will gladly take him at No. 7.) ↵

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↵NBA Coaching Carousel: Oh, Doc, why be so coy? ↵

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↵World Cup Today: No more "breakfast with the World Cup" 7:30 a.m. games. Boo! Instead, you'll have to decide at 10 between Mexico-Uruguay (winner wins Group A, with both advancing if a tie) or France-South Africa (watch for epic implosions from France), then Argentina-Greece or Nigeria-South Korea at 2:30 (Argentina is playing so well, you have to watch them). The runner-up slot in Group B is still wide open. (Could Nigeria sneak in? Unlikely.) ↵

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↵W.C. Yesterday: Spain finally gets on track. ... Fun to know Chile's brand of offense will have a place in the second round. ... Portugal, wow. ↵

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↵Remember the ref from the U.S.-Slovenia match? Right, right: How could you forget? It might not be much solace, but the guy is out of the officiating rotation. ↵

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↵MLB Talking Points: ↵

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↵— D-backs top Yanks: Memories of 2001 ↵

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↵— Off the schneid: Livan leads Nats ↵

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↵— Call-Ups: Astros going green ↵

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↵— Today's Best: Lincecum vs. Oswalt ↵

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↵CWS: Florida is out in Omaha — could seed-favorite Arizona State, which lost to Clemson yesterday, be next? ↵

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↵NFL Offseason: Steve Smith is an idiot. Accidents happen, obviously. But this one seemed preventable with a simple "I'm going to skip the flag football game this year." ↵

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↵Camp Countdown: Vikings. Any preview of Minnesota is going to begin and end with Brett Favre. Will he come back? (Sick of asking?) Let's give the guy some credit: Given his age, last season was arguably his most impressive as a pro. And given how close the Vikings came to the Super Bowl, why wouldn't he come back for one more try? ↵

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↵CFB Countdown: No. 74 Colorado. The Pac-10 must be so proud. ↵

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↵(Way more interesting: Brian Cook on Auburn's wild offense.) ↵

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↵Wimbledon: It's not nearly the same as actually pulling off the first-round upset of Roger Federer, but Alejandro Falla earned more than a measure of fame for taking Fed to the brink. That will end up being the most memorable match of the tournament. ↵

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↵Business: The Rose Bowl needs a new title sponsor. Interested? (It's only $20M+.) ↵

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↵The Last Word: Anyone else want to see BP take its now-absurd 2012 Olympics sponsorship money and deposit it directly in the various funds of groups trying to clean up BP's mess in the Gulf. ↵

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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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