Congrats to the National League, which secured home-field advantage in the World Series because of Prince Fielder's three-run homer in a 5-1 All-Star win Tuesday night. Yay. Yawn.
From the "7-Up Stinks Studios," here we go...
New York Mets relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez celebrates the final out in the Mets' 5-2 over the Los Angeles Dodgers in a baseball game Monday, July 4, 2011, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)
Braves' wish list
The All-Star game is in the rear-view mirror. Your Atlanta Braves have the second-best record in the National League. Although there is an argument to be made that the Milwaukee Brewers may be the league's second-best team after getting former all-star closer Francisco Rodriguez from the Mets.
What lies ahead? Hard to know — and we'll cover that more in Thursday's TFP — but let's turn our attention to the names out there the Braves could try to make a move on to take this team from "Good-to-very good because of their dominant pitching" to "World championship contender." And you know what, it's been far too long since we had the almost-patented 5-in-10 (a top-five list in 10 words or less) by the 5-at-10.
Atlanta has immediate offensive needs at third and in the outfield. Let's remember that the Braves have been blessed with starting pitching, a valuable commodity that can make any GM at least pick up the phone and listen. Now does anyone want to part with a young stud starting pitcher like a Brandon Beachy or a Mike Minor, of course not. But the 5-at-10 has always believed that if you are in contention you have to play for the championship today, and if prospects are the price, so be it.
Hunter Pence, Houston outfielder: The Astros are gross; Pence is a stud.
Carlos Lee, Houston, outfielder: El Caballo ("the head" — great nickname) can still hit
Aramis Ramirez, Cubs third baseman: How much does Chipper have left
Yunel Escobar, Blue Jays shortstop: Kidding, AJ, kidding.
Jeff Francoeur, Royals, outfielder: Not kidding as much as you may be thinking
The crowd watches Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland's shot on the 18th hole during the second round of the U.S. Open Championship golf tournament in Bethesda, Md., Friday, June 17, 2011. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
THE Open Championship
Don't forget about the "THE Open Championship contest that is so snobby we use all caps on THE THE just like THE Ohio State University." Pick five golfers and the final finish of each golfer will get that many points (for example: First place = 1 point; 12th place = 12 points, etc.) and the lowest score wins. Any golfer that misses the cut will be 100 points. One change this time, we'll throw out the highest-point player in each entry.
So submit five players and the top four count. The winner will get something involving some form of tickets or some other sports trinket.
So who you got, and as always we'll try to get some of the other media types in town to play along.
We'll post our list later this afternoon, but there is a better chance of SportTalk's Dr. B (he's a doctor, after all) bad-mouthing UT football than the 5-at-10 leaving Rory McIlroy off our entry. Rory has routinely said all the right things so far.
Not to be harsh toward Zach Johnson or Trevor Immelman or Shaun Micheel and the rest of the crew of the modern-day one-major winners (winning one major would be awesome in its awesomeness), but Rory just has the look and the presence of a guy that is going to win at least a handful of major championships.
Here are the first round of entries (and there will be more throughout the day). Remember that the British Open starts at like 4 a.m. so the deadline is by midnight tonight. Enjoy.
EC — McIlroy, Westwood, Schwartzel, Kaymer and Oosthuizen
BIspy — Rory McIlroy, Steve Striker, Luke Donald, Jason Day, Jerry Kelly
SportTalk's Dr. B (he's a doctor after all):Westwood, McIlroy, Paul Casey, J. Rose, Donald SportTalk's Cowboy Joe (he's a cowboy after all): Westwood, McIlroy, Donald, Sergio Garcia, Graeme McDowell SportTalk's Quake: McIlroy, Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Martin Kaymer, Donald
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison returns an interception for a 100-yard touchdown during the second quarter of the NFL Super Bowl XLIII football game, Sunday, Feb. 1, 2009, in Tampa, Fla. At right is Arizona Cardinals guard Reggie Wells. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Uh, James, can the rants wait until after July 21 please?
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison has always been cut from a different cloth. Dude went undrafted and made himself and elite football player — he was the 2008 defensive player of the year — by becoming an absolute workout monster and playing with a noticeable absence of fear. He's a scary man in a league filled with scary men.
Dude also has a noticeable absence of common sense. And what is the modern-day standard for worst timing, because Harrison's soon-to-be published interview in the August edition of "Men's Journal" will definitely be on the short list.
With the players, owners and the league — led by commissioner Roger Goodell — working feverishly to end the lockout and ratify a deal by July 21, Harrison's comments will certainly turn some heads. And set some ears on fire. Here is a bit from the AP story: "If that man was on fire and I had to [p---] to put him out, I wouldn't do it," Harrison told the magazine. "I hate him and will never respect him." His other descriptions of the commissioner include an anti-gay slur, "stupid," "puppet" and "dictator."
But wait, there's more. Also from the AP story:
"If the Steelers had defeated the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl, Harrison said, he would have whispered in Goodell's ear during the trophy ceremony: "Why don't you quit and do something else, like start your own league in flag football?"
Harrison also criticizes other NFL execs, Patriots-turned-commentators Rodney Harrison and Tedy Bruschi ("clowns"), Houston's Brian Cushing ("juiced out of his mind") -- and even teammates Rashard Mendenhall and Ben Roethlisberger for their performances in the Super Bowl loss. Harrison questions whether a black player is punished more for a hard hit on a white player than the opposite."
Wow. Thanks for sharing James. Sir.
Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel, front right, and his players. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)
This and that
— Michael Irvin has come out to support gay athletes. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Let's just move along.
— On a radio interview Tuesday, THE Ohio State University AD Gene Smith said "I never did anything incorrect or wrong." Talking with Mike Leach and Jack Arute on Sirius XM and reported by the website SportsbyBrooks, Smith said the recent scandal that cost Jim Tressel his head coaching job and has put THE OSU football program in the NCAA crosshairs, Smith said that a "small group" made some poor decisions and choices and "that they are ultimately paying a significant price." Smith also added that "I wake up every day knowing that I did the right thing relative to my job every single day." Among the great college football traditions — the Vol Navy, the Tiger Walk, the Grove, "Yellowhammer, visiting fans filling Vandy's stadium, et al. — where does "THE OSU head burying in the sand" rank?
— San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson has not shaved in a year. Seriously. His beard — which has become somewhat famous and frightening — has taken on a persona all its own. "Fear the Beard" is a common refrain in San Fran. Should we name that thing for him? Thoughts — other than there's no way Wilson is enjoying a plate of ribs without being hosed down afterward.
Atlanta Braves second baseman Dan Uggla (26) breaks his bat as he bats in the eighth inning of baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Wednesday, June 1, 2011, in Atlanta. The Braves won 4-3. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
As we speed toward baseball's unofficial second half, what are your predictions for the Braves in particular and baseball in general?
Discuss. And we better discuss it now because hold on to your seat Matilda, but the SEC media days start a week from today.
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 ...