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Shanoff's W.U.C.: Papi? Meh. MLB Trades Rule

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Today's Calls: David Ortiz vs. The List, Cliff Lee vs. George Sherrill, Roy Halladay vs. Victor Martinez, Tom Brady vs. Mike Vick, Lamar Odom vs. Ramon Sessions, Tiger vs. Buick, Pete Carroll vs. Greg McMackin, Jose Canseco vs. MLB and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: This year's MLB trade deadline rules for precisely the same reason the NBA - for all its "renaissance" - is overrated. ↵

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↵In the NBA, you can count maybe 8 teams that are legitimately competing for a title right now, this season. ↵

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↵In MLB, you can count 8 teams competing for this season's NL Wild Card spot alone. ↵

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↵That's why it was so heartening to see something like the defending champs claiming Cliff Lee (or their nearest NL rival in L.A. trading for George Sherrill) balanced out by seeming preseason longshots like the Mariners and Giants making deals of their own, or the Rangers making a play for Roy Halladay. ↵

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↵Playing to win. And playing to win NOW. ↵

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↵None of this cynical "Wait until 2010!" stuff, like 2/3 of the NBA seems to be shoveling (knowing that only a handful of teams will actually do anything in the summer of 2010; the rest will throw up their hands, say "Well, we tried to get LeBron!" then horde the cash and keep shuffling along). ↵

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↵The Yankees and Red Sox are locked in a "win-a-title-or-bust" arms race, even though if the Rays get hot, one of those two teams may not even make the playoffs. The AL Central is a 3-team winner-take-all toss-up. The AL West may be the Angels', but the Rangers and - yes - Mariners both want that Wild Card. (It will be interesting to see if the Mariners trade Washburn; if so, why do the previous deals to bring in talent to make a run at it now?) ↵

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↵In the NL, the Phillies and Dodgers are clear division leaders -- making moves now for what will happen in the playoffs. But the Central is a 4-team fray. And, again, the Wild Card has no less than 8 contenders. ↵

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↵In MLB, if you're not making a move to win now, you might as well be ... well, in the NBA, I guess. ↵

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↵Papi on the 2003 PED list: It's not the cheating that bothers me -- it's the cover-up. His big talk about cracking down on cheaters ... oh, unless you meant 2003 or before! He won't be punished, but for a guy who thrived on love and respect, his hypocrisy -- now revealed -- is a lifetime humilation. ↵

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↵"I want to get to the bottom of this": Here's how you can already see this playing out. Ortiz will claim that he unknowingly drank some kind of shake that he got from "a friend," but -- gasp! -- little did he know it was laced with PEDs! His power surge in 2003 must have just been him "coming into" his talent! ↵

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↵A few questions you never hear asked of team officials when their star players are busted: What did Theo Epstein, John Henry and Larry Lucchino know, and when did they know it? I can't believe MLB didn't tip them off in 2003. Did they keep tabs on their star? Turn a blind eye? 2004 was a VERY good year. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, Red Sox fans gave David Ortiz a standing ovation at Fenway yesterday. Of course they did. But they'll be THAT much less mouthy when it comes to jeering A-Rod or Manny. Giants fans created the template for cognitive dissonance, cheering a cheater if only because he's "your guy." ↵

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↵Should MLB release "The List?" No, but they should strongly urge every player on The List to come clean -- if everyone who ever used PEDs admitted it, say on the same day, the subject would see a brief supernova, then be neutralized. Everyone WANTS to stop dealing with this -- it's the drip-drip-drip that's the killer. One day of amnesty would be good for MLB, good for the players, good for the media and fans and good for baseball. ↵

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↵Check out the "Last Word," below, for the Quote of the Day. ↵

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↵More MLB Trade Deadline: Victor Martinez headed to Boston? Didn't think the Red Sox needed help with hitting, but if Theo is pursuing it, it must be right (harsh questions for him above, notwithstanding). ↵

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↵NFL Camping: Brady is back. Tom Brady is the most intriguing -- and important -- player in the NFL this season. How he returns from injury is directly tied to the Patriots' chances of winning the Super Bowl. Looks like it was a pretty good start for him. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, by Sunday, nearly every team will have begun their training camp -- from the defending champ Steelers to the winless Lions -- meaning the NFL season is really underway and you may start freaking out about your fantasy draft. (The last team to start? The Giants, on Monday.) ↵

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↵Favre Watch: The Vikings insist they are over it. But, like a bad romantic relationship, you know they'll be on the phone with him by October, seeing if he'll come back on November 1 (as he teasingly floated out to them and every other team). ↵

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↵Meanwhile, Packers prez Mike Murphy had this to say: "We felt we had to act in best long-term interest of the Packers and I think we did that." And I hope Packers fans finally have figured that out, given that Aaron Rodgers in 2009 is better than many -- perhaps most? -- of Favre's years in Green Bay. ↵

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↵Where's Michael Vick? Vick himself says that he's close to signing somewhere. But where? The Vikings -- oh, those Vikings! -- insist that it's not with them. Bill Belichick was flattering yet non-commital, but that doesn't mean anything. Still thinking it'll be Jacksonville, though. ↵

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↵NFL Rookie Signings: Darrius Heyward-Bey may yet be the injury-prone, lousy-hands bust we all project him to be, but for now, he is the model rookie, signing his deal with the Raiders and avoiding any sort of hold out. If nothing else, that's something to credit both he and the team for. (More: No. 2 pick Jason Smith.) ↵

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↵MLB Talking Points ↵

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↵• Hey, look at that: Red Sox fans cheering Papi. ↵

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↵• Here come the Giants (beat defending champs). ↵

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↵• Mets split: Fool mojo keeps working! ↵

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↵• Ouch: Remember when Brandon Webb was the best? ↵

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↵• Fantasy Stud: Derek Holland (8.2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 10 K) ↵

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↵NBA Offseason: Lamar Odom goes back to the Lakers, which does two things: (1) Maintains the Lakers' status as the team to beat in the West (and, arguably, the entire NBA), and (2) probably seals the deal that Dwyane Wade will leave Miami next summer. ↵

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↵Knicks targeting Ramon Sessions? The undervalued, underappreciated Bucks PG would, like all PGs, thrive under Mike D'Antoni. Kudos to NY if they can make this happen. (I was kind of hoping the Knicks would sign Jason Williams out of retirement.) ↵

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↵Golf: So, like, does the sport of golf implode if Tiger misses the cut at the Buick after missing the cut at the British Open? ↵

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↵CFB: Steve Spurrier needs to let the Tebow-vote thing go. "Sometimes, you look back and say, 'Why did we give them too much detail?"' It was an oversight, first list we sent in, it was my fault, and then we corrected it. That's all we needed to say." ↵

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↵Hawaii mini-scandal: To say Hawaii coach Greg McMackin "apologized" for using a slur to describe Notre Dame doesn't do the moment justice -- he used the slur, then tried to jokingly back out of it, then sort of seriously tried to cover it up, then apologized -- poorly -- then apologized again. ↵

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↵More USC scandal? This barely -- or hardly -- qualifies, but at this stage of the game, Pete Carroll should know better than to stretch the rules, let alone claim ignorance of them. ↵

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↵RIP: Sir Bobby Robson, who -- among other feats in "football" -- managed England to the semifinals of the 1990 World Cup. ↵

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↵The Last Word: "I'll tell you this: Major League Baseball is going to have a big, big problem on their hands when they find out they have a Hall of Famer who's used." -- Jose Canseco, who has done more truth-telling about PEDs in baseball than anyone else in the sport. ↵

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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.