published Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

5 at 10: Erik Ainge, Braves pitching and a trio of young Vols playmakers

Here we go.

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    Staff Photo by D. Patrick Harding Tennessee's Erik Ainge motions to the crowd after defeating Wisconsin 21-17 during the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL.

Where did that come from

Former University of Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge was very forthcoming in his first-person account of his battles with drug addiction in this story on ESPN. Ainge apparently was downing painkillers by the handful — up to 25 at a time — during his senior season at UT.

Here's the first paragraph to Ainge's first-person account: I'm a drug addict. I was in denial for a long time, but that's who I am. My addiction is with the hardest of hard drugs -- heroin, cocaine and alcohol. During my days of using, I was a really bad drug addict. I would've made Charlie Sheen look like Miss Daisy.

Sweet Mother of Bonnaroo — Charlie Sheen look like Miss Daisy. Wow. OK, let's also mention that Ainge has "Crazy White Boy" tattooed on his back — and he doesn't remember getting that tattoo.

Ainge also wrote that he ran afoul with the law in Knoxville after a two-week bender last summer but “it never got reported because the cops were Tennessee fans, and they saw how bad a shape I was in. It was so bad that I don't even want to talk about it. I was cuffed, but instead of busting me, the cops called somebody in town that knew me.”

Ainge, who claims to be clean since July 17, apparently started dabbling with drugs at the age of 12 and it exploded from painkillers to deal with injuries at UT to big-time benders after being drafted by the Jets and getting a little coin in his pocket.

It's a sad story, and one that reminds everyone the power and destruction that drugs have and can cause.

UT declined comment, and Ainge tweeted "I just want to say thanks for all the nice comments I have gotten about my article and that tennessee doctors didnt drive me to drugs I did!" but it's hard to fathom how this was not noticed by someone in Knoxville.



Sad story all the way around.

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    Connecticut forward Maya Moore shoots over Duke guard Karima Christmas in the first half of an NCAA women's college basketball tournament regional final, Tuesday, March 29, 2011, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Barbara Johnston)

NCAA hoops double dip

Well, who knew that the epicenter for all of NCAA hoops is in Storrs, Conn., a town that measures roughly 5.67 square miles and is the college home to Kemba Walker and Maya Moore. The two stars have their Huskies teams two wins from national titles, and if they each pull it off it would be only the second time men's and women's teams from the same school won Division I national titles in the same season. (And of course UConn did it the first time in 2004.)

Over the last six weeks, Walker has simply been the best college player breathing. He has guided a collection of freshmen and journeymen to a five-wins-in-five-days miracle title in the Big East tournament. And he's been unstoppable in the tournament. Kentucky may be a better team from top to bottom, but are you willing to bet against Kemba? The 5-at-10 isn't.

And truthfully, Walker isn't even the most dominant player on campus. Moore is. And after the Lady Vols melted down Monday and Baylor and Brittney Griner (who is like 12 feet tall) imploded Tuesday, Moore and her teammates are the frontrunners. Moore was awesome in Tuesday's destruction of Duke, and there is a strong case to be made that she is the best NCAA women's basketball player ever. Seriously.

That said, if Moore and Walker ever go on a date, there will be dozens of college coaches keeping an eye on possible sparks — and a possible 12-star recruit around the 2030 signing class.

Of course, if that did happen, those Moore-Walker Parade All-Americans would be headed to the "06268" and would be dunks for UConn — it's the center of college basketball universe after all.

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    Atlanta Braves' Tim Hudson pitches against the Florida Marlins in the sixth inning of a baseball game in Miami, Tuesday, Sept. 1 2009. The Braves won 4-3. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Arms wrestling in the NL East

The Atlanta Braves are not first in the arms race in the National League, but they're not that far behind, either.

The Philadelphia Phillies have baseball's best rotation — Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Colt Hamels, Roy Oswalt and anyone this side of "Joe the Policeman from the What's Going Down Episode of 'That's My Mama'" — and it has been compared favorably with some of the best all time. The Phillies are bringing back thoughts of guys like the 1950s Indians, the '60s Dodgers and even the great rotations that had their own nicknames, like the top-heavy Braves group in the '50s led by Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain that inspired the saying, "Spahn and Sain, and pray for rain."

The Braves' collection, though, is far from a group of bus boys. Tim Hudson and Co. may not be the Braves of the 1990s, but they're a far cry from, "Mahler, McMurtry and who else can hurt me?" that echoed in Fulton-County Stadium in the mid-1980s.

But the Braves starters are far from the concern this morning, roughly 24 hours before the first pitch of the season Thursday. No, the pitching answers to whether these Braves will be playing in mid-October are in the bullpen.

And, gang, the outlook is not bad. In fact, if young co-closers Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel can co-exist and co-mature and co-habitate in the eighth and ninth innings, this group will be pretty strong.

(Quick side note: Kimbrel has flat nasty stuff. Like John Wetteland with the Yankees in the late-1990s nasty. If the kid can take his beatings — and they're coming, they do for every closer — like a man, he's going to be great.)

Plus, Phillies closer Brad Lidge has been shelved with arm troubles, meaning Jose Contreras — yeah, great news that he's still alive, huh, who knew — will close for Philly until at least May.

Yes, Johnny Braves Fan, you would trade your starting rotation for the Phillies' straight up, but if Lidge misses months rather than weeks, here's saying the Braves' entire staff is better than Philadelphia's 1 through 12.

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    Staff photo by Jake Daniels/Chattanooga Times Free Press Wide receivers Justin Hunter, No. 87, Da'Rick Rogers, No. 21, and Matt Milton, No. 85, joke around while posing for photographers during the University of Tennessee Vols' Media Day at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee.

UT spring break(down), Part III

A big part of the Vols' somewhat surprising bowl trip last fall was a receiving corps that was as good as advertised on the field and light years better than expected off it.

Consider that Gerald Jones, who had run-ins with the previous two staffs, was among the team's steadiest forces as was tight end Luke Stocker. Denarius Moore was arguably the team's most reliable playmaker. And each is gone.

Asking the trio of talented youngsters — Da'Rick Rogers, Justin Hunter and Matt Milton — to become leaders is too big a leap, especially since replacing the production on the field will be tough enough for this group.

Hunter showed flashes of being a home-run type of talent last year, and Milton is super-big (like 6-foot-6, 220-plus big), but Rogers will be the difference between this group being an unknown or a pleasant surprise.

Rogers, the former Calhoun (Ga.) High all-state player, was a five-star guy this time last year and has the tools to be special. Getting there will be the question — and a huge key for this UT offense.

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    Cleveland Cavaliers fans taunt Miami Heat's LeBron James in the fourth quarter of the Cavaliers' 102-90 win in an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 29, 2011, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

This and that

— The Cleveland Cavs beat LeBron James and the Heat 102-90. Read that again. Has there ever been a more meaningful regular-season win that didn't have playoff implications than the Cavs' victory over James, who left Cleveland during the offseason (you may have heard something about it; it was in the papers and stuff)? Heck, take out the playoff-implications and has there ever been a bigger regular-season win for a fan base than this one? (Side note: That was Cleveland's first — yes, FIRST — double-digit win of the season. In an NBA that is filled with teams taking nights off and stinkers for whatever reasons, that's hard to fathom.) The excitement for the Cavs players apparently led to a championship-type celebration afterward. Somebody get David Aldridge and the Elias Sports folks on the phone and see if this is the first time there have been tears in both locker rooms after an NBA regular-season game. Thank you, thank you.

— Tough offseason to be a college football fan. It's almost to the point that you don't want to see your team in the news, right? From the Oregon recruiting service stuff to the Ohio State mess with Jim Tressel to the BCS investigating the Fiesta Bowl, it's crazy. This morning there are reports that four former Auburn players have told HBO that they were paid by boosters at Auburn and other schools. This will be part of a two-part HBO special looking at college athletics, and the four Auburn players — Chaz Ramsey, Troy Reddick, Stanley McClover and Raven Gray — said they were part of pay-for-play scheme. (Hey, didn't Cecil Newton copyright that "pay-for-play" phrase? The 5-at-10 may need to contact its lawyers.) The special is supposed to air tonight, and according to the early reports, the interviews with these former players are far less than glowing news for Auburn. The university declined comment for the program.

— Hey, Johnny Vols Fan, want reason No. 23,476 to be happy Lane Kiffin's out West? Check this video. Dude's a goofball.

— Jalen Rose was picked up for a DUI in Michigan on March 11. No word whether he blames Duke, Grant Hill or any of the other folks in the Durham area for this.

— The 5-at-10 watched almost all of the Braves-Twins exhibition game last night, and noticed two things. One, it was good to have the Braves on in the background. As a lifelong Southerner, there's just something comforting about having the Braves on, you know? Two, the game put the 10-month-old 5-at-10 Princess soundly to sleep. Alas.

— Dez Bryant now appears to be on the hook for more than $800,000 for jewelry and such according to the handful of lawsuits that are out there. BIspy4, other than (Vince) Cartiers and that Carpel Tunnel syndrome brand, how would someone spend that much coin on jewelry and not be engaged to the duchess of York?

— The AJC reported that Falcons owner Arthur Blank has vowed there will be professional football in 2011. It was not clear if he was talking about the NFL or the Auburn Tigers.

Until tomorrow.

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.
Eustice_Chase said...

I too watched nearly all of the 10 inning slug fest that was the Twins Vs Braves and couldnt have been happier as I sat on the couch in my sweat pants and soddy daisy baseball shirt...life was good last night my friends...life was good... the Braves look promising...the walk-off 2-run blast off of Former Brave Chuck James was B-E-A-utiful!!!!

The sheenantors signed free agent..."L-Dub" last night in hopes of putting some extra fire power on the line-up there was probably a better option out there, but when Jones goes 30/105/.305 this year...i wanna say I had faith in him all along

March 30, 2011 at 10:21 a.m.
Atruefan said...

Excellent..funny..and informative..as usual!

March 30, 2011 at 10:32 a.m.
bigbearzzz said...

I love how 5@10 just has to throw out the Kemba Walker jab just one more time there....if somebody had only picked him in their Over/Under Points leaders tie breaker.....OH WAIT!! THEY DID!!!!

Yes...bitterness....party of one....right here...

Other than that...Is anybody else just as excited over baseball season as I am?! I mean i havent been this excited about Braves Baseball since the days of the Four Aces (maddux, smoltz, glavine, avery) Can you really count Avery in there?!

March 30, 2011 at 11:29 a.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

I know I am excited! I have already been looking to plan a few trips down to ATl to take in a few games. McCann is looking thin, Heyward is looking like he could go for 40. They have some base stealers on the rooster...Freddie G is gonna make some things happen in ATL

March 30, 2011 at 11:49 a.m.
jayrock2004 said...

Great job 5@10! You made a normally uneventful day, as far as news is concerned, and still was able to write a very interesting and informative article.. keep it comin 5@10!

March 30, 2011 at 11:52 a.m.
jgreeson said...

First, a big shoutout to newcomer Dabigorange, who stopped by late Tuesday and shared that his fantasy baseball team name is the Vatican Assassin Warlocks (well-played) and that his logo is a flaming fist with the word "Winning" stamped across it (very well-played, Tiger-blood-well-played, in fact). Feel free to stop back by anytime — the more the merrier. Also shoutout to semi-regular Atruefan and jayrock2004, thanks for the kind words and come on back — it's the discussion that makes this place fun.

EC — So that's why opposing fans were smiling when Chuck James had the ball in pressure situations. And how in the name of Mark DeRosa was L-Dub (the 5-at-10's nickname for Larry Wayne "Chipper" Jones) a free agent in your league? Buckets, great get, and he may have a huge, Huge HUGE year. Did you notice how much smiling this team was doing in the dugout? With a crowd approaching all of 1,000 and the weather being blah, still nothing but grins in the dugout? That has to be a good sign, right?

Great call on McCann. Dude looks good. In the completely non-uncomfortable-talking-about-a-pro-athlete-who-reported-to-camp-in-great-shape kinda away. Not there's anything wrong with that. Let's just move along.

And the between-inning interviews last night were awesome. The 5-at-10's new favorite Brave is Matt Young, who is all of 5-foot-5, is listed at 5-8 and when asked about he said he was 6-2. When he gets in the game it looks like someone left a Braves cap in center field.

Oso — Sorry about the Kemba reference, we know it's still a little bit of a sore spot. Alas. And here's hoping that he gets all of 8 points Saturday night just to make everyone feel good (Fat chance there, though). Heck yes you can count Avery, and even Neagle for a stretch (he won 20 one year) in the four aces.

The 5-at-10 is pretty excited about baseball, too. So much in fact that we didn't feel the urge to strangle Joe Simpson last night. But in the words of Anne Savoy, "It's a long season and you have to trust it," so Simpson will meet the mute button by May 15 at the latest.

And the 5-at-10 is trying to come up with a mini-version of a hassle-free fantasy league for our regulars on here. Anybody got any ideas? As always, fire away and War (NCAA) Investigation.

— 5-at-10

March 30, 2011 at 11:54 a.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

5@10- it may have something to do with the way we did the draft...and rankning players for an automated draft( due to scrazy schedules) but believe this when I say he was the first guy I went looking for!!!

Im all in on a Hassle Free 5@10 Family Oriented Fantasy League...

Kemba+Maya= Diana Tourasi on steriods...oh wait..thats already happened

I have to say I giggled when he said he was 6'2...Mrs EC didnt find the humor...go figure...Im looking for Brandon Hicks to swing a good stick..I almost forgot to mention Thome going for 600 this year...Yeah Thome was a former Phillie and I hate all Phillies...but I will be thrilled to see Thome get to 600 HR's

March 30, 2011 at 12:01 p.m.
bigbearzzz said...

Thome getting to 600...the all natural way...for a change. Ok, so I have a 5@10 confession, sigh, i have never been to a Braves game. So i'm looking to get the ol bear clan together and heading down there. Is it easier to get tickets early on in the season or later? Best place to get tickets? Best games to go to? Yes 5@10 nation, i need your help to make this dream come true. Thank you. (imagine Sarah Mcglockin singin in the arms of an angle playing softly behind my words)

March 30, 2011 at 12:14 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

Well I just went on a whim one day and sat behind Texeria at 1b.... and could still see Griffey in right...it was a good day ! But I have heard through the Grapevine that Mid Sunday- Day Games are the ones to see....very little crowd...plenty of chairs to choose from

March 30, 2011 at 12:16 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Well, you got your morning diamond stud earrings. Then your afternoon diamond stud earrings. And then your nighttime, going out on the town to hook up diamond stud earrings. Along, of course, with the accompanying accoutrements and accessories — rings, necklaces, etc. Because, you know, that's how I roll. BIspy4's attorney received the Masters for PS3 game last night. BIspy4 is still waiting on the review from his legal counsel — who also is a longtime badge holder and the V@X knows what BIspy4 means — on the game.

March 30, 2011 at 12:32 p.m.
jgreeson said...

EC — Color the 5-at-10 impressed with the Braves bench. Thome getting to 600 would be cool, and Griffey was fun to watch. It would have been nice to see the numbers Griffey could have posted if not for some odd-ball injuries.

Oso — Day games are awesome, especially in April/May before it becomes mandatory to drink 3 buckets of water. Here's the number (404) 577-9100 for tickets and the website is braves.com — they have a ton of deals available, especially for home games against the Padres or the Nats or the Brewers, et al.

BIspy4 — So it's the diamond studs that run you the big bucks. OK. To get in the $800-grand ball park, what kind of diamond studs are we talking about here — the size of a softball? A soccer ball, maybe? Holy Leo's Bad Aussie Accent in "Blood Diamonds" that's got to be some 'spensive rocks. Now we know what Bryant and Prime Time were discussing over dinner.

Have heard nothing but raves for the new EA Sports "Eldrick Woods Golf" that includes the Masters. But as you may have heard, we've played Augusta National, so there's that.

— 5-at-10

March 30, 2011 at 2:20 p.m.
JVMFan said...

Are Celebrity Overdoses Foreshadowing a National Epidemic?

In her new book “Addict Nation,” TV host Jane Velez-Mitchell explores America’s love affair with prescription drugs.

The list of celebrities who have overdosed on legal prescription drugs is long and growing fast. Music legend Michael Jackson died after his doctor gave him a head-spinning cocktail of drugs including Valium, Lorazepam, and Midazolam, plus the painkiller Lidocane, topped off with Propofol. Health Ledger OD’d in his fashionable Manhattan loft on a combination of Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Diazepam, Alprazolam, Temazepam, Vicodin, Xanax , Restoril and Unisom. Anna Nicole Smith’s autopsy revealed Lexapro, Zoloft, Cipro, Klonopin, Valium, Lorazepam, Ativan, Robaxin and the powerful sleep aid Chloral Hydrate in her system. The feisty TV host and author of “Addict Nation-An Intervention for America,” Jane Velez-Mitchell says “The high profile tragedies we cover on my show “Issues” (HLN Channel) are just the tip of the iceberg. Celebrity deaths are bringing into focus our national addiction to prescription drugs!” There’s a growing trend in America to try and solve all manner of discomfort, real or imagined, physical or emotional, with a pill. According to Velez-Mitchell, that tendency has morphed into a “cultural addiction.” Nationwide, deaths from prescription drug overdoses are the second-leading cause of accidental death behind car accidents. In some states, prescription O.D.’s are the leading cause of accidental fatalities. But, this epidemic is being, for the most part, ignored. Why? “Addict Nation” points out that there are billions of dollars made each year on legal drugs, and those industries have become our “pushers.”

In her new book Addict Nation-An Intervention for America (HCI Books, Feb. 2011), bestselling author Jane Velez-Mitchell says, "It's time to take our power back!" She believes Americans have collectively become devoted to a number of dysfunctional behaviors (including obsessive cleanliness, overeating, prescription drug dependency, sex addiction, and obsessions with technology, war, incarceration, celebrities and crime) and that the United States is in danger of "hitting bottom."

Addict Nation tackles the issue of cultural addictions, and promises to shine a light on those who would profit off of our misery. Velez-Mitchell says she's got a blueprint for change, but first we must see what is really going on. This is an intervention!

March 30, 2011 at 2:50 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

I love JVM!!

Imagine what Eric Angie could have done sober...if he was hyped on pills during his time under center at UT

March 30, 2011 at 3:29 p.m.
jgreeson said...

EC —

Who doesn't love JVM. Seriously, JVM is the best, Jerry, the BEST.

Ainge's revelations about his substance abuse could possible explain that unbelievable underhanded pass out of the end zone at LSU. Kidding, kidding. That's a crazy story, tis no doubt about it.

Side note: JVM mentions Jane Velez-Mitchell, and let's be honet, when it comes to experts in their field, the 5-at-10 ranks them:

  1. Mel Kiper on the draft (we love the draft, but you know this)

  2. Jay Bilas on college hoops

  3. Jane Velez-Mitchell on whatever she's an expert on. She's like the soup and Mindy's — she's the best, Jerry, the BEST.

— 5-at-10

March 30, 2011 at 4:03 p.m.
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