published Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

5 at 10: UT and UGA, World Series, Matchup of the century, part I

Remember about Friday's mailbag.

From the "Al Davis Studios," here we go...

UT and UGA face huge opportunities

Don't look now, but there are huge, Huge, HUGE football games on tap this weekend for your UT Vols and your Georgia Bulldogs.

Consider the stakes:

The Vols are teetering on the edge of desperation. Sure, blowout losses are never greeted with smiles and high 5s on The Hill, but the Vols are not the only program that's going to take 1-2 knockout punches from LSU and Alabama.

Now the Vols host a South Carolina team without its best player. In fact, offensively, these Gamecocks now mirror these Vols. Each team has an NFL-ready receiver — UT's Da'Rick Rogers and USC's Alshon Jeffery — and a collection of question marks and duct tape. This game is winnable for the Vols, and a loss would be painful both on its face and in what it means for the Vols' bowl hopes.

As for the Bulldogs, well, with South Carolina's injury woes and dismissals, everyone believes the Bulldogs are in the driver's seat for the SEC East, even if the Gamecocks hold the tie-breaking edge. Georgia's playing well, but this would hardly be the first time that a Georgia team playing well stubbed its toe in Jacksonville.

Plus, there's this factor — and UT fans know this from their September meeting against Florida — if you're not going to get the Gators now, when are you going to get them? It's hard to imagine a Florida team being more mediocre than this bunch unless Charlie Pell becomes involved in the coming years, and that seems highly doubtful.

There are big rewards — or big disappointments — on the horizon this Saturday.

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  • photo
    Texas Rangers starting pitcher Derek Holland waves to the crowd after he was taken out of the game during the ninth inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011, in Arlington, Texas (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

World Series

Tony LaRussa took full blame for the communication malfunction that left Rangers slugger Mike Napoli facing a left-hander in the Game 5's decisive at-bat when Napoli delivered a game-winning double. OK, we're confused. There's talk of Tony LaRussa being the best manager of his generation, and he can't work a phone? That's what we're sticking with? Really?

OK, if that's the case, the LaRussa is Baseball's Rain Man — swaying back and forth in Raymond Babbitt monotone "8 minutes to Pujols, 8 minutes to Pujols; 247 toothpicks, definitely 247 toothpicks — joining other sports' Rain Man (or would it be Rain Men, which in turn gets us close to the old disco tune "Raining Men," which is a place we need to avoid on a Wednesday at the family-orientated, InterWeb-based sports column) such as Peyton Manning, Steve Nash and Landon Donovan.

Anyhoo, about tonight's Game 6, well, the 5-at-10 thought it was going seven games from the start, so we think the Cards will win. But we have a bigger cause for concern. We all know baseball is struggling on TV. We also know that the weather is going to be particularly bad tonight in St. Louis — 60-plus percent of showers expected all night.

That said, if they play through the rain and damage the product (i.e. a stinky game amid rain drops and puddles), that's not good. If they start and dance around three rain delays and finish at 1:45 a.m. and no one other than independently wealthy Cards or Rangers fans see it, that's not good.

That's right, we're calling for a Crash Davis' rainout, but only if you do it before it starts and that way everyone knows their tickets are good and everything.

Thank you we'll be here are all week. Here are the folks that still have a chance in the Not-So-World-Serious (with MVP's in parenthesis)

5-at-10: Cards in 7 (Albert Pujols)

Mrs. 5-at-10: Rangers in 6 (Ian Kinsler)

Oso: Rangers in 6 (Nelson Cruz)

Spy: Rangers in 6. (Michael Young)

OTWatcher: Rangers in 6 (Adrian Beltre)

SportTalk’s Dr. B (He’s a doctor after all): Rangers in 6 (Josh Hamilton)

SportTalk’s Quake: Rangers in 6 (Nelson Cruz)

WarEagle: Rangers in 6 (Josh Hamilton)

BetterthanYou: Rangers in 6 (Mike Napoli)

Friendoftheshow: Rangers in 6 (Napoli)

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  • photo
    LSU running back Spencer Ware (11) scores his second touchdown of the game on a one-yard run against Tennessee during the third quarter of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011 in Knoxville, Tenn. LSU won 38-7. At left is LSU tight end Mitch Joseph (83) and at right is Tennessee linebacker A. J. Johnson (45). (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Matchup of the century, part I

It's Wednesday, 10 days before the LSU-Alabama slugfest in what we'll simply call The Showdown. And there are so many storylines and angles that we might as well start now.

First, the talk about the SEC being top-heavy is accurate. But, when it comes to LSU and Alabama, far and away the two best teams so far in college football, the entire sport is top heavy. And when you have such powerhouses in a conference that also includes once-beaten Arkansas, once-beaten South Carolina, and a ranked Auburn team which has losses to three teams with a combined record of 22-1, well, saying the SEC is top heavy is like saying the 5-at-10's wife is too pretty. Yes, you're right. But how is that a bad thing.

Anyhoo, today's angle for The Showdown, is the historical perspective for Trent Richardson.

We referenced this during our discussions about the SEC Mount Rushmore last week, and we'll put a little more of a point on it here. We know what is at stake for the teams — barring a huge unforeseen upset, this is a BCS semifinal — but what about what could be on the line with a very good-to-great showing by Richardson.

If Richardson shows out, he becomes the Heisman frontrunner. If he shows out, he pushes forward to those special platforms of 1,500-plus yards and 20-plus TDs. If he shows out, and goes on to win the Heisman and 'Bama wins the BCS, Richardson becomes a first-team running back on the All-SEC team in the title-game era (since 1992). Richardson would be a meaningful piece to two national title teams and have a Heisman. That's a strong resume. (He would be in the backfield with Darren McFadden and Tim Tebow, for what it's worth.)

————

This and that

— We were remiss not to mention this earlier this week, but did anyone see the preseason SEC basketball projections? Of course Kentucky was picked at the top — and the Wildcats are going to challenge for a national title — followed by highly regarded Vandy and Florida. But the shocker was Tennessee was picked 11th in the 12-team league, behind Auburn. Yes, Auburn. Wow, somewhere Bruce Pearl is smiling about that (and then he lied about it).

— OK, West "By Golly" Virginia has been extended an invitation to replace Missouri in the Big 12 when Missouri leaves for the SEC but Missouri has not announced its decision to move into the SEC, but we know all this and are waiting for the music to stop. This is like one of those predictably bad 2000s teen movies, where we know the girl with the glasses is going to be hot by the end of the movie and everyone is going to say, "Wow, we had no idea that you were this cool AND pretty." Gag. Where's Freddie Prinze Jr?

— Red Sox pitcher John Lackey, who was among baseball's biggest disappointments and was part of the Boston group that allegedly was drinking beer in the clubhouse and even the dugout during games, will miss the 2012 season after having Tommy John surgery. Who knew that 12-ounce curls could damage elbow ligaments? That means there are a lot of my fraternity brothers that may need to see a doctor in the coming years.

— The three suspended LSU players returned to practice Tuesday. No comment there, just passing along some information.

————

Today's question

The evaporation of Major League Baseball's TV appeal is not a secret. In fact, it's common knowledge.

Let's put it to a survey:

We're not going to include a Game 7 because that's a different animal. So, let's take tonight's Game 6 between the Cardinals and the Rangers and pit it against some shows that happen in October (granted these won't be tonight, but you get the idea — and we're not going to schedule them against a full say of college football of the NFL)

Which of the follow would you watch:

— Game 6 of the World Series

— Mediocre SEC football game (say South Carolina-Miss. State)

— Dances with the Stars

— CSI or whatever one of those TV drama/detective shows that floats your boat

— None of these, still flipping looking for a classic college football replay, some Texas Hold 'em or a movie we know all the words to but haven't seen in a few months.

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...

Just saying, baseball beat Monday night football with a wide margin on Monday night.

October 26, 2011 at 11:58 a.m.

As long as the Mrs. A-T-C lets me keep the remote, I am flipping back and forth between Game 6 and the SEC football game. It wouldn't matter if it was Southern Miss and Memphis, I'm still flipping. If either one becomes too unbearable to watch, the other wins. If both become unwatchable, I have a DVR'd episode of Big Break Ireland I can pull out.

October 26, 2011 at 12:32 p.m.
jgreeson said...

AJ —

That you are putting one of the better World Series in recent memory (and a pivotal Game 5) against the worst Monday night game in a decade is telling. But you're right, so there's that.

A-T-C —

Concur with your assessment — even down to the taped reserve, although ours is a couple of episodes of "Feherty."

Normally though this choice would be a "Pay it Forward" moment with the Mrs. 5-at-10 since we know Saturdays are full of good football viewing.

— 5-at-10

October 26, 2011 at 12:56 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

I'm all about Game 6. Unless there's a rainout. Then it's time for mediocre college football. Or a Swamp People re-run. (And I'm the guy who eschewed some NBA regular season game to watch a three-hour special on Napoleon on History Channel, which perplexed Andy and Seth greatly when I got into work).

Hash tags Betterthanyou and Friendoftheshow sure are sitting pretty right now with their picks.

My hatred of LaRussa may color my judgement, but I still don't buy his cockamamie stories about the last two innings of Game 5.

October 26, 2011 at 12:56 p.m.
memphisexile said...

Mediocre SEC football game for sure. My backup would be the classic college football replay. Any of the other choices result in the t.v. being turned off and me doing something else like reading a good book.

Life is too short to waste on reality t.v. or baseball. There is nothing more excruciating than watching a batter take time between every pitch, adjusting gloves, helmet, elbow pad, shin guard and crotch, then taking a few practice swings. Repeat. 2-5 times. Not to mention, the old man mentality that refuses to use instant replay to make sure calls are made correctly. In 20 years I think baseball is relegated to secondary sport status like hockey. Most younger folks do not like it, except for the poser Red Sox fans.

October 26, 2011 at 1:05 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

Betterthanyou and FriendoftheShow each have inquired about possible next round tie breakers. You guys got any thoughts?

And if LaRussa is half as smart as he acts like he thinks he is — for the love of every thing humble, he and George Will are the foremost authorities on the National Pastime, just ask them — then how does he think this fuzzy phone connection story plays. As for Tony and George Will, well, they make the 5-at-10 look modest, and that is not an easy task.

Exile —

You bring up a fair point about baseball's role as a secondary sport in the next generation. The one thing it has going for it is that baseball has zero competition in the June-August time frame. None.

And if we were Supreme Sports Czar for a week, the human rain-delays that have become a batter's pre-pitch ritual would be high on our "To Fix" list. (And you got to use the word crotch, and it was not out of line for a family-oriented, InterWeb-based sports column. Well played indeed.)

— 5-at-10

October 26, 2011 at 1:23 p.m.
chas9 said...

5er-- Good dig at The Pearl. And anybody who looks at how bare the cupboard is can't argue with TN picked 11th. Behind Auburn. Maybe Ricky P could bring them back overnight, but...

October 26, 2011 at 1:48 p.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Thanks. The 5-at-10 is not exactly the biggest Pearl fan if didn't already know.

And yes, that cupboard is bare in K-town. But Auburn has been bad for a decade and that cupboard isn't exactly flush on The Plains.

As for Ricky P, well, we're sure he'd tell you that Allan Houston is not walking through that door. Dale Ellis is not walking through that door Dyron Nix and one of the top 5 jheri curls of our lifetime is not walking through that door.

— 5-at-10

October 26, 2011 at 2:02 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

You know, big fella, I don't know whether to give Lackey props for pitching through what was obviously a significant injury or to continue to dump on him for his reprehensible behavior. Quite the quandary. Well, the Red Sox Nation won't have John Lackey to kick around next year.

Which means they better jump on board SS Roy Oswalt after the Phils declined their option.

October 26, 2011 at 2:18 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

You guys can take round two of the Derek Lowe victory tour for a bucket of balls (or Popeye's Fried Chicken), a fungo and a12-pack of Samuel Adams.

The whole beer stuff is indefensible, but who had a tougher year than Lackey? We're pretty sure he had some martial discord. There was the whole ERA over 6 stuff. And we all know about how easy it is to be a how-priced free agent and struggle in Boston during a summer of discontent.

Granted, he was well compensated for all this misery, but ouch, not a great 2011 by any measure.

Where's Bruce Hurst when you need him? Or Luis Tiant?

— 5-at-10

October 26, 2011 at 2:25 p.m.
btn128 said...

There is nothing more excruciating than watching a batter take time between every pitch, adjusting gloves, helmet, elbow pad, shin guard and crotch, then taking a few practice swings. Repeat. 2-5 times

You can say pretty much the same thing about football. They run 1 play that takes between 2 and 8 seconds, wait 20 seconds for the ref to set the ball, then another 25 seconds for the play clock to run down to 1, to run another 2 second play. That is almost 1 minute of time to run 1 play that may last all of 8 seconds.

Here is a football game. Team A Scores. Commercial. Team A kicks off. Commercial. Team B throws an interception on the first play, cut to commerical. I have seen 10 minutes of commercials for about 24 seconds of actual football being played.

And lets hope it isnt in the last 2 minutes of the game because then the most action you get in a close exciting game is it ending in the most undramatic way imaginable. Instead of playing it out, they line up, and take a knee for the last minute and a half all while basically standing around doing nothing as the game ends.

There is just as much standing around doing nothing in football as there is in baseball. But in baseball, there is no clock so it does not really matter.

October 26, 2011 at 5:22 p.m.
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