We're going to move very quickly this morning. The SEC media days start today, the 5-at-10 has a doctor's appointment and we have a couple of people on vacation. AS Crash said, "We're dealing with a lot of stuff."
Let's get to it, and remember that candlesticks always make a nice gift. Let's get two. From the "7-Up Stinks Studio," here we go...
Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher James McDonald (53) walks to the dugout after pitching the sixth inning against the Cincinnati Reds during a baseball game in Pittsburgh Tuesday, July 19, 2011. The Pirates won 1-0, with McDonald getting the win. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Hold the Braves' talk
During the summer, we've devoted the lead-off spot to the Atlanta Braves more times than not. And that's how it should be in the South.
Today, we turn our attention to Pittsburgh, where the Pirates are trying to end a record-setting 18-year run of sub-.500 baseball and look like they could win the NL Central. In fact, unless you are a die-hard fan of a team in the NL Central or of the team that the Pirates play on any given night, then the American thing to do is cheer for these Pirates. It's in the books.
The Pirates' run is not unlike the charge made 20 years ago this summer by your Atlanta Braves, who up until that point were the L.A. Clippers of baseball. Pittsburgh's roster is sprinkled with familiar veterans, some impressive youngsters and a slew of good pitching. Sound oddly familiar Johnny Braves Fan?
There are dozens of Pirates alums on rosters throughout the big leagues, players that were dealt from the sinking Pirates' ship because of cash flow or uncertain futures. Now these Pirates are buyers heading into the trade deadline, and they are looking for pitching reinforcements and offensive help for emerging-star outfielder Andrew McCutchen.
Will it last? It's doubtful — the Pirates have a total payroll of $45 million, or roughly the same coin that the Yankees pay the left-side of their infield. But they are at 50 wins and are currently in first place, and if spirit and spunk and energy and timely hitting count for anything, then Pirates have to be taken seriously. For the first time in 18 years.
LSU defensive tackle J.C. Copeland (44), head coach Les Miles, and running back Stevan Ridley (34) celebrate their 16-14 victory over Tennessee in an NCAA football game in Baton Rouge, Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
LSU gets a slap on the wrist
LSU got one-year probation after properly handling the investigation of major violations committed by a former assistant.
Last week Georgia Tech was stripped of the 2009 ACC title, fined $100,000 and placed on four years probation for a minor violation that was mishandled by current members of the athletic departments.
What did we learn from this: That a school's procedure in addressing violations is more important in the NCAA's eyes than the actual violations. Well OK.
Standing in front of "(Yao) Ming Thanks" in Chinese characters, NBA star Yao Ming delivers a speech of his retirement during a press conference in Shanghai, China, Wednesday, July 20, 2011. The Houston Rockets center has made it official, telling the packed news conference in his hometown that a series of injuries have forced him to retire from basketball. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Good-bye Yao Ming
Yao Ming retired from the NBA, citing foot problems and injuries that plagued the 7-foot-7 former No. 1 overall pick from China. The injuries have allowed Yao to play in just five games since the 2008-09 season — remember way back then when we thought LeBron James was a great guy and a Cav forever... ah, good times.
Anyhoo, Yao was a skilled big man that averaged 19 points and 9.2 rebounds per game over his seven-plus seasons. Sure, it wasn't the Ming Dynasty (see what we did there... nevermind) that some of the Rockets supporters may have hoped for, but Yao was a very good player. Was he great, no, but he was very good.
In fact, while he does not crack the 5-at-10's starting five of all-time international players, he would be in the team picture. Let's take a look:
PG — Steve Nash (born in Canada)
SG — Drazen Petrovic (look up his stats — dude could really score)
SF — Dominique Wilkins (born in France)
PF — Dirk (WINNING... and like Hasselhoff, he's huge in Germany)
C — Hakeem Olajuwon
With Yao and Tony Parker and Patrick Ewing and Pau Gasol and a host of talented others coming off the bench.
Race fan Dwayne Moon of Hooks, Texas, sports a Dale Earnhardt Jr. logo on his head as he drinks a beer outside of Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2006, in Bristol, Tenn. Moon is in Bristol for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Sharpie 500 auto race. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
This and that
— What in the name of Dolly Parton is happening. There used to be two lead-pipe sell-outs in the state of Tennessee: the Bristol night race and UT football. This side of the Ryman, these are the state's top venues and always filled up. Quickly. Now, the folks at Bristol and at UT are offering ticket deals — buy a ticket to one and get a ticket to the other. Man, gotta say, that surprised the 5-at-10.
— The Braves got smoked Tuesday as Brandon Beachy looked like a rookie for the first time in like two months. It happens. That said, let's go to an Uggla update (seems like we need some theme music here webteam): Since his season started over on July 5 (2011 Part Deux), Dan Uggla has hit safely in every game. Uggla's hit streak has reached 11 games after he hit not one but two homers in Tuesday's 12-3 loss. Uggla's average is at .192 — the first time he's been over .190 since May 20. Wow, read that again.
— The NFL is closing in on a labor deal. Anybody else tired of reading that sentence? We know the 5-at-10 is tired of writing it.
Will Muschamp, the new head coach for the University of Florida's football team talks with the media after he was introduced by Athletic Director Jeremy Foley in Gainesville, Fla., Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. Muschamp comes to Florida after being the coach-in-waiting at the University of Texas since Nov. 2008.(AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)
The SEC media event starts today. You know this.
New Florida coach Will Muschamp (you loathe that phrase, don't you Oso?) will speak today at the SEC media days in Hoover, Ala. So will South Carolina's Steve Spurrier, Arkansas' Bobby Petrino and Mississippi State's Dan Mullen.
Each coach will be joined by some of the selected standouts from his programs. They will be asked everything under the sun by the horde of media in attendance — here's saying the over/under is at 900 including TFP aces Patrick Brown and David Paschall.
While Muschamp's debut and Spurrier's return to the media event as the favorite of the SEC East are interesting storylines, here's saying that the big stuff from today comes from commissioner Mike Slive's annual address.
What do you think the big storyline will be this week?
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 ...