Montana was amazing — bigger than we ever expected. The scenery was breath-taking; we expected that. The love for gambling out there was unexpected; there are casinos every where. In the golf clubhouse there was a poker machine (yeah, like we'd ever leave that place: Beer, check; Golf, check; Gambling, check). In fact we passed a place with this on the sign: "Sushi buffet & Casino."
Yep, they do everything bigger in Montana, even gambling problems.
OK, let's get to it. From the "7-Up Stinks Studios," here we go...
NFL needs its own ticker
Was anyone else mesmerized by the ESPN scroll this weekend? Every team is making so many moves, it's like the 32 GMs have entered their own fantasy league, but without a draft they are gobbling up free agents at every turn.
Here's the top 5 things that stood out from all the moves and machinations this weekend:
— The Falcons are Super Bowl contenders: Atlanta added pass-rusher Ray Edwards and kept its offensive line largely intact.
— The Eagles are, too: Philadelphia now has the NFC's top cornerback duo after trading for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and signing Nnamdi Asomugha. Lock-down corners are supremely valuable; having two on the same team is doubly so.
— The Patriots aim to be Super Bowl contenders, too: New England added defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco — two players that could be huge, Huge, HUGE difference-makers or two huge locker room distractions. If good Albert and good Chad show up, that's a team with a lot of talent.
— Jets stay intact: After getting to the AFC title game last year, the New York Jets retained their two biggest free agents — receiver Santonio Holmes and corner Antonio Cromartie. Plus they added Plaxico Burress. If Mark Sanchez is simply solid, the Jets are going to be good.
— There were a bunch of former high, High, HIGH draft picks shown the door. Teams cut their loses with Jamaal Anderson (No. 8 overall pick by the Falcons), Reggie Bush (No. 2 overall pick by the Saints) and Vince Young (No. 3 overall pick by the Titans). Other former first rounders on the move were Haynesworth, Donovan McNabb (who is now in Minnesota) and Charles Johnson (who is now in Carolina).
Just when we thought we were done with the NFL, they pulled us back in.
Atlanta Braves players swarm Scott Proctor, center after batting in Julio Lugo to win the baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the 19th inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, July 27, 2011, in Atlanta. Atlanta won 4-3. (AP Photo/John Amis)
Braves make moves, stand still
Atlanta made what the 5-at-10 believes was the best trading deadline move, dealing three minor league pitchers and Jordan Schafer to Houston for ultra-fast leadoff hitter Michael Bourn. Let's go ahead and get all of the "Bourn" headlines out there now.
In a couple of years during the contract negotiations, we'll have the "Bourn Ultimatum." His first four-hit, two-steal game for the Braves will be the "Bourn Supremacy." His next four-hit, two-steal game for the Braves will be "Bourn Again." We're sure there are more.
The 5-at-10 almost always believes in dealing prospects for a chance to win championships, and the Braves were able to add a huge piece without dealing any of their top three young arms. That's called a win-win scenario.
That said, the Phillies added former Houston outfielder Hunter Pence, and it's going to take a lot more than Atlanta's recent 4-3 mark on its homestand to catch Philadelphia.
Sidenote: OK, who had July 27 as the day Dan Uggla passed the Mendoza Line. That's right, the Braves second baseman has moved beyond .200 to a lofty (some might even say pretentious) .206 average with a 22-game hitting streak. He has a hit in every game of the 2011 Season, Part Deux (which started on July 5) and he hit .293 in July.
Tennessee's Malik Jackson (center) pressures UAB quarterback, Bryan Ellis, while be blocked by Darion Smith (75). Staff File Photo by Jake Daniels/Chattanooga Times Free Press
College football starts
College football practice starts around the country this week, and it's safe to say the 5-at-10 is ready. More than ready.
In honor of that, here are the five players for teams with the most local interest that need to worry more about staying healthy and staying sharp. That's right a 5-in-10 by the 5-at-10 on which players, if they were injured would send a shock wave through the fan base.
— UT defensive lineman Malik Jackson: A locker room leader at UT's thinnest position
— UGA quarterback Aaron Murray: RB's already an issue, but Murray's the man
— Alabama running back Trent Richardson: A true stud atop a limited depth chart
— UTC quarterback B.J. Coleman: Mocs' big hopes pegged to big-time QB
— Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn. What? We have to go with a player? OK, Auburn running back Mike Dyer: MVP of BCS title game is top threat
Crew members push Paul Menard's car back to the garage after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen auto race was postponed due to rain in Watkins Glen, N.Y., Sunday, Aug. 9, 2009. (AP Photo/ David Boe)
This and that
— Apparently somewhere in the new NASCAR contract, every driver gets to win once in the next three years. How else can you explain Paul Menard winning at Indy and Trevor Bayne winning the Daytona 500. That has to be it. Or it's the fact that the only stra-teeg-ery not involving fuel is to hang back, stay clean and make a sprint to the end.
— Those crickets you hear are the negotiations on the NBA labor deal. In fact, we're going to need GlobalVision to watch the NBA stars play overseas this winter.
— Cleveland High School quarterback Chad Voytik committed to Pitt while we were away. Kid can play folks, and here's saying there will be some SEC schools wondering why they let him go north.
Atlanta Braves first baseman Fred McGriff heads home after hitting his 300th career homer against the Cincinnati Reds Sunday, May 19, 1996 in Atlanta. McGriff missed the record on a previous at-bat Sunday that would have been a grand slam. That ball flew two feet outside the left-field foul pole. (AP Photo/Tannen Maury)
It may not be as big of a homer as the Fred McGriff deal, but tell us Johnny Braves Fan, how happy are you with this team heading into the stretch run? Did the Braves do enough to catch the Phillies?
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...