Shanoff's WUC: Merry Strasmas to Everyone!

Today's Calls: Stephen Strasburg vs. Walter Johnson, Bryce Harper vs. Expectations, Lakers vs. Celtics, Cole Hamels vs. Adrian Gonzalez, Jets vs. Cowboys, Tony Romo vs. the U.S. Open, Spelling Bee vs. Stanley Cup and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Merry Strasmas! ↵

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↵Stephen Strasburg's first MLB game tonight is the most anticipated debut by a rookie in the history of the league, a perfect combination of 21st century talent ... and 21st century hype. ↵

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↵It is phenomenal for baseball (to capture national attention), for fans (to have an otherwise bland early-June mid-week game become the season's biggest "must-see") and for the Nationals (to finally have some cachet). ↵

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↵Let's be clear: There is no way Strasburg can live up to the expectations, which sit somewhere between "perfect game!" and "20 strikeouts!" ↵

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↵Is he the next Walter Johnson? How about the next Mark Prior? How about this: Merely a win -- ideally including just a couple knee-buckling, ooh-arousing Ks -- will be more than enough. ↵

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↵The point is that we are all interested. We are all curious. We are all watching. Because he might -- just might -- live up to the hype, if not tonight then eventually. ↵

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↵And you want to be able to say "I remember that first game." ↵

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↵MLB Draft: Bryce Harper went No. 1 overall to the Nats, as expected. From a hype perspective, you have to go back to A-Rod -- or even Ken Griffey Jr. -- to find an analogue. (Whew: What a week for the Nats franchise, right?) ↵

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↵Harper was announced as an outfielder, not as a catcher, because everyone agrees that OF is his most efficient route to slamming HRs (from the Nats' perspective) and getting to the big leagues to start his free agency clock (from Scott Boras's perspective). Expect to see Harper on the big-league roster no later than the start of the 2011 season. ↵

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↵NBA Finals Game 3: The series moves back to Boston in a state that few of us thought it would be in -- the Celtics with home-court advantage. If Ray Allen can bomb away for eight 3s at Staples, what can he do at Fleet? Meanwhile, unless the Lakers can figure out how to stop mondo Rondo, the Finals' 2-3-2 format might spell D-O-A for the defending champs. ↵

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↵CFB Expansion Mania: Is Notre Dame going to suck it up and join the Big Ten, perhaps afraid that the "super-conference" realignment will leave them totally exposed? ↵

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↵(Here's why that makes no sense: Any conference -- Big Ten included -- would be thrilled to add Notre Dame whenever ND finally decides to do it, even if it creates an odd number of teams in the league. Notre Dame should feel no sense of urgency, and ND AD's denials of discussions seem legit.) ↵

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↵More: Kansas freaking out? Well, if you call a desperate public plea to neighbor Nebraska not to bolt for the Big 10, setting off a chain reaction that would leave Kansas without a major conference? Then yes. ↵

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↵Boise State to the Mountain West? Not yet. The MWC voted not to expand right now, leaving Boise hanging. The conference probably wants to see if they will get a shot at picking up Kansas (and Kansas State) before committing to Boise. This is a mistake, given that Boise State could bring the cachet of a national championship to the conference this season, even if the Broncos are still a year away from formally joining the MWC. ↵

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↵MLB Talking Points: Besides Strasmas? ↵

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↵• Replay reform? Not anytime soon. ↵

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↵• Streaking: Angels win 6th straight. ↵

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↵• Hamels perfect through 6: But loses. ↵

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↵• Dice-K: Back on track? ↵

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↵• Fantasy Stud: Adrian Gonzo (2 HR). ↵

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↵Stanley Cup: Flyers panicking yet? Hardly. (Exactly what you'd expect from a team that was able to come back from a 3-0 series hole last month. 3-2? Philly has 'em right where they want 'em. Uh, but don't expect the Flyers to tell you who will be in the net.) ↵

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↵NBA Coaching Carousel: I'm sorry -- why hasn't Tom Izzo already publicly doused the rumors of the Cavs' interest in him taking their coaching job? (Could he -- spit-take -- possibly be considering it? I don't care how much money it might be, it would be a terrible move. He could save himself, his bosses, the Cavs owners and fans on both sides of this a lot of mixed feelings by shutting this down with a clear "Not interested.") ↵

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↵NFL Offseason: The Ravens are the new Michigan. ↵

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↵Jets over Cowboys in the Super Bowl! That's SN's institutional pick, and we're sticking with it. (Love the pick of the Jets; just can't buy Dallas winning two straight games in the NFC playoffs.) ↵

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↵Speaking of Tony Romo, his U.S. Open dreams are over. Tough break, Tony -- you only have to go back to your "day job" as starting quarterback on one of the most glamorous teams in pro sports. ↵

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↵TV: The Spelling Bee drew a larger audience than the Stanley Cup finals on Friday night. Says more about the power of the Bee -- and the power of the one-time-a-year national event -- than the NHL. ↵

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↵Business: You Kevin Harvick fans will really enjoy new "I wear the firesuit in this family" T-shirts, courtesy of DeLana Harvick's marketing savvy. ↵

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↵The Last Word: "No." -- Nats GM Mike Rizzo, when asked if the team will allow Bryce Harper to continue to wear that "Braveheart"-style eye-black all over his face during games. ↵

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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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