published Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

5 at 10: From the "7-Up Stinks Studios," here we go...

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    Atlanta Braves' Freddie Freeman, right, celebrates with Dan Uggla after hitting a home run in the second inning of a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies in Atlanta Tuesday, July 5, 2011. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Braves win — again

Atlanta is 12-3 in its last 15 games, and we all know the Braves' success has been in its arms.

Let's look deeper at the strength and depth that this staff allows manager Fredi Gonzalez. Shall we? Of course we shall.

After he doubled in three runs to help his own cause in Tuesday's 5-3 win over Colorado, Braves starter Derek Lowe started to labor. Be it the summer heat or running the bases, Lowe was running on fumes midway through the sixth. If most managers are forced to go get their starter that early, there's some concern about the rest of the game — innings 7, 8 and 9 must be factored into managing the sixth inning.

That's not the case for Gonzalez, who has the eternal blessing of having full confidence in a seventh-inning guy (Eric O'Flaherty), more confidence in his eighth-inning guy (Everyday Jonny Venters) and a lights-out closer (Craig Kimbrel). With that knowledge of a loaded back-end of the bullpen, Gonzalez was able to play match-ups as early as the sixth inning Tuesday to get the Braves out of what turned out to be the last serious Colorado threat.

And Gonzalez's bullish bullpen did not disappoint. Lefty George Sherrill fanned the only batter he faced in the sixth and righty Cory Gearrin ended the inning with a strikeout. All totaled, the Braves bullpen recorded 11 outs — seven strikeouts — and was not charged with a run. Sidenote: Kimbrel's last two pitches hit 99 mph on the gun. There's something so comforting about a team's closer throwing right at 100 mph, you know?

Now, there has to be some growing concern about over-use of the Braves' strong relief corps. Venters leads the NL in appearances with 48; Kimbrel is second with 45 and O'Flaherty is tied for seventh with 42. A few complete games — or goodness forbid a couple of 13-run performances that let some of the other relievers eat some innings — in the near future would be well-received from the well-used and well-stocked bullpen.

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Dan Uggla started Tuesday

Reportedly, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez told struggling second baseman Dan Uggla that the season started on Tuesday. If that's the case, Uggla is on track for the greatest season in recent memory. He went 2-for-2 with a homer and a double and two walks. At this pace, well, his numbers would be awesome.

Truthfully — and we all know we're trying to be a gentler, kinder 5-at-10 especially in the direction of a certain Braves middle infielder who's name sounds like Stan Struggla — Uggla has been awful. You know this. We know this. Aunt Mavis in Ringgold who never misses a Braves telecast and calls the TFP sports editor every morning for the score of last night's game because she fell asleep before it was over knows this.

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.

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Oregon hoping to Duck trouble

There are always names that become linked through college football scandal. Terrelle Pryor and Jim Tressel. Pat Dye and Eric Ramsey. Reggie Bush and Reggie Bush's ego. It happens.

It also appears Chip Kelly and Willie Lyles will join that list now that the spin cycle from the Oregon Ducks football fan base has flipped the switch into mass hysteria. Unless you have been under a rock — or so nauseated by Monday's hot dog eating contest that you've been bed-ridden for the last 48 hours — Lyles has said he acted improperly in helping Oregon recruit running backs LaMichael James and Lache Seastrunk.

Lyles — who SportTalk's Dr. B said more than two months ago was going to be big trouble for the Ducks (he's a doctor after all — Dr. B that is, not Lyles) — used to run a recruiting service and was paid $25,000 by Oregon for what appears to be less-than-stellar scouting information. Lyles said he made some mistakes and it is now clear to him that Oregon paid him for his access and influence with recruits, namely James and Seastrunk, two highly rated Texas speedsters.

It gets worse. Lyles said he had a working deal with Kelly, who originally denied knowing Willie Lyles. When asked by John Canzano, the outstanding columnist for the Oregonian, about his original claim that he did not know "Willie Lyles," Kelly told Canzano, "around here, we call him 'Will.' We've already distanced ourselves from him, trust me."

Is this the beginning of the end for Kelly, who led the Ducks to the BCS title game against Auburn? Hard to know right now. Kelly has enjoyed record-setting success at Oregon, but this certainly looks bad — and Kelly has been directly linked by Lyles. The NCAA has already interviewed Lyles and made one trip to Oregon. If Kelly has lied to the NCAA — or floated out that mumbo-jumbo that he did not know "Willie Lyles," but was well-aware of "Will Lyles" — then, well, the you and the 5-at-10 know how this will play out. Just ask Jim Tressel or Bruce Pearl.

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This and that

— Want to know what has two thumbs and zero, Zero, ZERO interest in the Roger Clemens' steroids/perjury trial. The 5-at-10. It's not possible to care any less than we do about that thing. Go away Roger and take your buttocks and your stories and Brian McNamee with you.

— Derek Jeter is now four hits away from 3,000. The 5-at-10 is excited about this because after Derek Jeter and A-Rod, there may not be another guy get 3,000 hits for a long while — especially if Albert Pujols' injury is not properly healed.

— The NFL clock is ticking. Loudly. We have said from the start that this would be the week a deal would be reached. Let's hope so.

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Today's question

Former Braves slugger and current Braves' TV analyst Ron Gant was not at his best in Tuesday's win. He used the phrase "mentally thinking"(and if you think the 5-at-10 is not adopting that one, well, you're nuts) which is way more effective than physically thinking. When Braves catcher Brian McCann was struck with a foul tip in the ... place that made every man cringe ... Gant's insight was, shall we say, awkward — Gant assumed it caught McCann somewhere, anywhere other than the baby-maker which made the replay an unintended comedic all-star.

That said, Gant is normally tolerable and is getting better (he's better than Tom Glavine by about 200 percent) as far as former-players-turned-commentators go in the 5-at-10's view, but "mentally thinking," who are the worst former-players-turned-commentators? We'll be back around 2 p.m. with our list, and yes, Aaron Boone you may want to stick around to see how the voting turns out.

Until then.

about Jay Greeson...

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 ...

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Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
andyjohns said...

Mark Lemke is the worst of all Braves. Don't know a lot of other announcers. The sad thing is, Glavine and Smoltz probably do the announcing thing for fun. The Lemmer probably needs the cash.

BTW, would you have guessed Pudge and Omar Vizquel are behind Jeter as the #2 and #3 active hits leaders? http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/historical/leaders.jsp?c_id=mlb&baseballScope=mlb&statType=1&sortByStat=H&timeFrame=3&timeSubFrame=1

Keep up the good work.

July 6, 2011 at 10:24 a.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

Mentally thinking ehh? I say that sits right up there with "verbally speaking"... Im glad the Braves have given Mr.Gant a chance....seeing that after his Motorcycle accident in 95, they did not want to give him a chance...so he went to the Reds..won Comeback player of the year...and put a hurting on the Braves that year statisicly speaking... but sheesh..Mentally thinking??? Is that a Yogism Via Ron Gant ???

"Well I want to thank you for making this day neccessary."

As for Sir Clemens, how could we rate the Judicial System in the US of A if Clemens does time for doping...but Casey Anthony gets off scott free for murder???..(soap box aside..I will now focus on the more prudent issues in sports)

Dan Uggla Welcome to the show! Glad to have you! Word is..Fredi G told him..that today is the start of the season..here is a Jersey that fits you...

How about this Freddi Freeman guy ? E-nuff said

Willie Lyles? Hmm doesnt sound familiar at all...oh wait you mean Will? Thats what we call him...Will Lyles...

everybody got your depth chart filled out ????

I will be back at 2:05 with my answer to today's question... something tells me Aaron Boone and Mr. Mia Hamm will rank among the top of my list...

Does anyone else find USA Womens Goal Keeper, Hope Solo attractive??? No? Just Me?...

July 6, 2011 at 10:27 a.m.
jgreeson said...

AJ —

Thanks for stopping by, and you are correct, the Lemmer is a bummer. Pudge and Omar are close and maybe they get to 3,000 but there are a lot of miles on those tires.

EC —

Mentally speaking, is 100-percent a Yogism via Gant. And back in the day, Gant was seriously ripped up, but they still managed to find a jersey that fit him (for the most part). Yet, they still can't find a shirt that does not make Uggla look like he's headed to a "Jersey Shore" audition call-back.

Freddie Freeman is flat mashing right now. Mashing.

Mr. Mia Hamm is definitely a contender in the underwhelming announcing division.

As for the USA women's keeper, can't say we're familiar with Han's daughter Hope.

— 5-at-10

July 6, 2011 at 11:41 a.m.
chas9 said...

5-10-etc., If only Kevin Costner could add "mentally thinking" to his advice for rookies speaking to the media in "Bull Durham." Which (you know this) is the greatest baseball flick ever. I always thought Joe Morgan was the most over-rated player-turned-broadcaster, a master of stating the obvious and repeating endlessly the same bit of boring arcana. The best ever (before your time, 5-10-etc.) was Ol' Dizzy Dean. In your time, Don Sutton was pretty good. Gotta love Dodgers from that golden era anyway. Is the current Braves rotation anywhere near as good as Koufax-Drysdale-Podres-Sutton?

July 6, 2011 at 11:55 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Chas9 —

Lotta stuff there. Let's break it down:

— "Bull Durham" is definitely on the short list of best baseball movies ever. We'll give a slight edge to "The Natural" but we've seen "Bull Durham" so many times that if the Chattanooga Theater Alliance puts on a "Bull Durham" play, let's just say that we can read for Crash Davis's role with looking at the script all that much.

— Joe Morgan will absolutely hear his name this afternoon. Brutal. He's so bad ESPN asked him to go away, and that is saying something considering they have Aaron Boone still working.

— Love everything we've heard about Ol' Dizzy, Including the great story of him describing the couple down the third-base line that was so in love that they were kissing after every pitch — he was kissing her on the strikes and she was kissing him on the ... well nevermind.

— Sutton was pretty good, and he got better in his time with the Braves, which is all you can ask.

— This Braves staff is good, but it's not three Hall-of-Famers good.

— 5-at-10

July 6, 2011 at 12:07 p.m.
OTWatcher said...

Ol Diz was a legend in his own mind. Enjoyed his Rendition of "Wabash Cannon Ball". Fun to listen & always expected each game. Speaking of fun, it was fun to listen to Steve Stone cover a game and also cover for Harri Karri whose tongue would become as thick as his glasses by time to sing "take me out to the ball game". Question - Who was the announcer who said " I can't believe what I just saw"? 5@10 is a joy to read...

July 6, 2011 at 1:48 p.m.
jgreeson said...

OTWatcher —

Thanks for the kind words. Jack Buck, the longtime play-by-play guy for the Cards who was working the national broadcast for that World Series in 1988, said "I can't believe what I just saw," when Kirk Gibson homered in the ninth off Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of that series. Good times.

Here are our top-5 of the worst former-players-turned-commentators — mentally thinking, of course (Sidenote: These are only for game broadcasts, be it play-by-play or color commentary. This list would be impossible if we included Studio Shows):

— Aaron (Ba)Boone

— Mr. Mia Hamm (Nomar Garciaparra)

— Joe Morgan and Joe Thiesman tied for the worst former announcers

— Tony Siragusa

— Tim McCarver

July 6, 2011 at 2:04 p.m.
chas9 said...

And how about a tip of the hat to the great baseball broadcaster Larry Munson. The question called for "player turned broadcaster." Don't know if Larry played baseball, but he did play football and basketball at MSUM, so he's a playah.

July 6, 2011 at 2:42 p.m.
jgreeson said...

EC —

We all know Larry is a a "playa" but the 5-at-10 was unaware that he was a player. That's good intel since one of our mailbag questions is about who are the best player-turned-broadcasters. (Wait till Friday gang; we're only two days away.)

As for Munson, he did a great Braves game on a Sunday many moons ago when Don Sutton was inducted into the Hall. Braves-Pirates if memory serves in late 1990s, and was not afraid to use his Munson-isms in baseball too.

"Let's get the picture." "Those guys are huge." "There's still an eternity left and the Pirates aren't going anywhere."

All we were missing was "Let's go down to the dugout... Loran, whatta ya got?"

July 6, 2011 at 3:03 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

5@10- I have to agree with your list top to bottom 100%...those are some seriously bad play by play guys...and no one really wants to hear their analysis...and Im pretty sure they all listen to Coldplay....so it goes...

I just now seen the line.."Oregon Hopes to Duck Trouble" well played sir..well played indeed

July 6, 2011 at 4:45 p.m.
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