Remember about Friday's mailbag and there are a couple of spots open.
OK, let's get to it. From the "7-Up Stinks Studios," here we go...
Atlanta Braves second baseman Dan Uggla (26) follows his three-run home run during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park in Washington, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Uggla has become Uggla, and the 5-at-10 called it
Yes, his .215 average is still a .215 average. Yes, his overall season to date has been a disappointment. But Dan Uggla's run since July 5 has been eye-popping. Who could have guessed such a turnaround? Well, the 5-at-10 of course. Here's what we wrote:
July 7th - 5 at 10
As if the news could possibly seem to be getting any better for these Braves, don’t look now but Game 2 of Dan Uggla’s 2011, Part Deux was stellar. Again.
If you recall, in an effort to be a kinder and gentler 5-at-10, we decided to restart the season for Uggla on Tuesday. So forget that sub-.200 average, that was more or less an extended spring training, Uggla’s hitting .800 (4-for-5) with two homers and three RBIs and two walks so far in 2011, Part Deux. Seems like there may be another Braves all-star snub in the making.
But let's wipe the slate clean. Uggla started his season Tuesday, and he's hitting 1.000 with an on-base percentage of 1.000 and a slugging percentage of 3.000. Plus, his homer was a crush job to left-center and his double was a liner to right-center. For a guy that was hitting about .170 heading into Tuesday night, that looked like a breakthrough and at the very least has to be considered progress.
Let's keep Uggla's stats for the rest of this month (through July 31 — because by then we'll know whether it was a fluke or truly a starting point and that's when football really heats up):
Uggla in 2011 (part deux): 2-for-2 (1.000), 1 HR, 1 RBI
Everybody together, "Let's go Uggla,"clap-clap-clap-clap. Kinder and gentler. Happy thoughts. Happy thoughts.
Wow. OK, since July 5, Uggla has at least one hit in each of the Braves' 25 games. He is hitting .354 with 11 homers and 23 RBIs during the streak, and he went 2-for-4 with another bomb in Wednesday's 6-4 win over the Nationals.
Sweet Mother of Slump Busters, dude is on fire.
In this July 28, 2010 file photo, New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez reacts after he popped out in the second inning in a baseball game against the Cleveland Indians in Cleveland. Major League Baseball plans to interview Rodriguez as it investigates allegations the Yankees star took part in illegal celebrity poker games. ((AP Photo/Tony Dejak File)
Is A-Rod 13 years old?
Alex Rodriguez has been destined for baseball stardom since he was a high schooler. The No. 1 overall pick a couple of decades ago, A-Rod was a five-tool hoss (at shortstop, no less) that was going to be an all-timer.
He still is on pace for all-time numbers and if he walked away today, he has Hall-of-Fame stats. But, wow, the next time we hear a good story about A-Rod off the field will be the first. Tuesday, news came out that Major League Baseball was investigating A-Rod's alleged participation in an big-money poker game after MLB warned A-Rod to stay away from such an enviroment.
And while baseball may rule with a glass slipper when it comes to steroids or drug use or any other rule-breakers, the game rightly has no time and allowance for gambling. Ask Pete Rose. And it's the only unforgivable sin in sports because if any game loses the trust of its fans, it's cooked. Unless it's professional wrestling, and then it's awesome. Wooooooooo.
But think back to just A-Rod's time with the Yankees. He needs the GM to step in and ask Derek Jeter to be nice to him. There's the steroid thing that he semi-admits to and blames on "a cousin." There's his continued association with "a cousin," who was banned from the Yankees clubhouse. There was the innocent but world-class goofy "popcorn incident" at the Super Bowl. Now, this possible flirtation with baseball's ultimate sin after being warned by baseball not to do it.
A lot of A-Rod's critics have blasted — sometimes fairly and sometimes unfairly — throughout his career for lacking courage or heart in big moments at times. Here's saying that if A-Rod ever gets a counsel with the all-powerful Wizard of Oz, he may need to ask for a brain first.
NFL back to football
Now that the labor deal has been dealt with and the free agent signing frenzy has been signed and sealed, the NFL now turns its attention to football.
And for the new coaches around the league, there is an enormous adjustment that must be made in a very tight period of time. Among the teams affected most by this is the Tennessee Titans, who brought in a new head coach, two new coordinators and two new quarterbacks.
How the Titans players, especially rookie QB Jake Locker, pick up the systems and the styles of the new coaches will be a huge factor in whether this team is fighting for 6 or 8 wins or whether the Titans are among the league's worst clubs. But they are far from alone. The Panthers, the Broncos and the Vikings are also among the teams that have new coaches and new quarterbacks that have to get on the same page as soon as possible.
NFL draft prospect, Tim Tebow speaks during a news conference at an event to promote the upcoming NFL football draft on Tuesday, April 20, 2010 in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
This and that
— LeBron James defends Tim Tebow on the Twitter, making some strong points about all the over-the-top criticism about the former Florida quarterback from some media folks, most notably Merrill Hoge of ESPN. Good for you LeBron, but we're sure you don't have any idea how painful over-the-top media bashing can be, huh? (And no, JordanRules, we're not saying he's better than MJ. Step away from the key board.)
— How's this for a great story? The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that when former Steelers secondary coach Ray Horton was saying his good-byes before heading to coach with the Arizona Cardinals, he sold his 1999 Mercedes SL500 convertible to a friend who worked in the cafeteria. Horton's asking price was whatever Mo Matthews had in his pocket, so Matthews purchased the Mercedes for $20.
— For those of you who following recruiting, you already know that Jameis Winston, one of the nation's top-ranked high school quarterbacks, picked Florida State over Alabama on Wednesday. For those of you who don't follow recruiting, now you do know.
— Bubba Smith died Wednesday. Moment of silence for Hightower of the "Police Academy" films and one of the original stars of those ground-breaking Miller Lite commercials back in the day.
UTC starts football practice today. And the Mocs have a chance to do something that has not happened around these parts since 1984.
That's right, the Mocs are talking playoffs, and unlike the last couple of decades, UTC and playoffs being linked in the same sentence is a statement rather than sarcasm.
OK, Mocs nation, on the first day of preseason practice, will your UTC football program make the postseason for the first time since Reagan's first term?
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 ...