Don't forget about the Ricky Bobby Memorial Challenge (more on that below), and thank goodness it's Friday, which means mailbag, which means we talk much too much.
From the "Talk Too Much studios," let's go.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning listens to a question during a news conference after Indianapolis was defeated by New York Jets, 17-16, in an NFL AFC wild card football playoff game in Indianapolis, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
From Steeler Fan
If Peyton Manning should happen to sign with the Redskins and make a full physical recovery, could you please break down next year’s NFC East race? It seems to me that if Dallas and Philly can finally play up to their potential (a big “if” but not impossible), Peyton revives the Redskins franchise and the Giants continue to thrive under Eli, this could be one heck of a division in 2012. My interest is personal since the Steelers have to play all these cats next year.
Where you been guy? Been a little down after the playoff meltdown? We understand, believe us.
As for Manning, that's a great theory, and in some ways that may work against the Redskins having a chance at Manning. You would have to think the main reason for Manning to come back is have a chance to win another Super Bowl. The Redskins would be in the toughest division in the NFL, not exactly the easiest way to the playoffs.
Plus, look at those teams and their defensive plans — rush the quarterback. Hard. Dallas has pro bowlers Demarcus Ware and Jay Ratliff in the front seven. We know the Giants have the best defensive line in football and Jason Pierre Paul could be the LT of this generation, minus the cocaine and the call girls. (Yes, we went there, but what's the ceiling on J-P-P right now? Exactly, there's not one.) The Eagles blitz more than any team in the league.
That's not exactly how you'd think a 36-year-old, pocket-standing QB with an achy neck would want to spend six games a year, huh?
We feel the Redskins will be part of a litany of teams that are going to go Don Corleone on the St. Louis Rams, and "Make them an offer they can't refuse" for the No. 2 draft pick and Robert Griffin III.
In fact, we think RG III is going to be a big storyline in what is shaping up to be a huge weekend of storylines that started Thursday night with LeBron and Heat working true medical magic and giving everyone the cure for Linsanity.
Let's review/preview of what is looking like a big-time sports weekend with a 5-in-10 by the 5-at-10 (the soon-to-be patented top 5 list in 10 words or less):
1) Linsame old same old — Jeremy Lin has 8 (points & turnovers) in loss to LeBron
2) NFL combine — Prospects take center stage in million-dollar job interview
3) Daytona — Who you got? (See below) What about Danica?
4) Braun suspension lifted — A technicality? Really? Somewhere Clemens, Bonds punched walls
5) Tiger/Eldrick bounced — Mr. Nick Watney... and his band Sexual Chocolate? Whatever.
Quick add on the last one: Tiger Woods lost a match-play event to Nick Watney (not to be confused with Mr. Randy Wat-son, who you may know better as Joe the Policeman from the 'What's Going Down' episode of "That's My Momma") by missing a 5-footer on 18. Remember when you expected Tiger to chip in from bunkers when he needed to, and he did it. This is the same guy that made that miracle chip on No. 16 at Augusta, and it wasn't all that big of a miracle because it was him.
Well, now, he can't make a 5-footer against Nick Watney (that boy is good... good and terrible)?
Side note about the quick add: The references to Nick Watney/Randy Watson are from "Coming to America" — a vastly underrated comedy. And why has HBO or Showtime not approached Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall and the other dude in the barber shop scenes of that movie about doing a made-for-cable sitcom? It would be absolute gold, and it's not like Arsenio's calendar is overly booked right now, either.
Chicago Bulls’ Michael Jordan dunks the ball during the Slam-Dunk championship in Chicago on Saturday, Feb. 6, 1988. (AP Photo/John Swart)
This weekend is the NBA All-Star Weekend in Orlando. One of my favorite parts of the weekend is the Slam Dunk Contest. What are your top 3 favorite dunks in the contest since it began in the early 80s?
This may be the single toughest question we have received in the 18 months of Friday mailbags we have done. OK, the toughest question was "What is the best nickname in sports history," but this one is right there with it.
We loved the dunk contest growing up. It was pre-24/7 highlight, so seeing those guys throw it down was new and different and cool. Now it feels contrived — although Blake Griffin was dynamite the last few years — and as much about aesthetics as athletic ability and as much about props as eye-popping dunks. So it goes.
But to ask for a top 3? Really? Woo, that is some tough stuff. In fact, we're going to break the top 3 into three categories:
Top 3 memorable dunk contest dunks
1) Jordan looking into the basket: Everyone had this poster, back when posters were still a part of a teenager's room. (We could do an entire Jordan list, of course. The rock the cradle, the free throw-line one... he was the pinnacle of the dunk contest — sorry Dr. J — and the beginning of the end, too. Jordan was the first to turn the dunk contest into a debut stage for new shoes and new warm-ups. From there it has become about cohorts and dunking over cars. Sweet buckets of "Who's that guy even play for?" have you seen the list of folks in the dunk contest? Indiana’s Paul George , Minnesota’s Derek Williams, Houston’s Chase Budinger and Utah's Jeremy Evans — not exactly a list of folks that make you want to set the DVR, huh?)
2) Dee Brown's blind-fold dunk: Do we really believe that Dee Brown couldn't see when he threw down this dunk? Of course not, but who cares. It was off-the-charts on the creative scale, and creativity is to dunking what hot sauce is to cooking — you almost never, ever can have too much of it (but when you do it's really painful).
3) Spud Webb's entire 1986 showing in Dallas: Say what you want, Spud was jaw-dropping. He did stuff that was a) unbelievable, b) had never been done before, and c) made anyone over 5-foot-6 go, "Holy, Snikees." Spud Webb winning the dunk contest was like Mini-Me winning an Academy Award.
Top 3 most difficult dunks
1) Dominique Wilkins' two-handed windmill: MJ beat Dominique despite the most difficult dunk of all time. But hey, it was MJ so everyone was cool with it. Wilkins' two-handed windmill was tough to do on an 8-foot goal.
2) Isaiah Rider in 1994: Rider was the first dunker that introduced "trick" dunks. And his first was the most tricky. Going baseline, Rider went between his legs midair before dunking. It was amazing.
3) Any and everyone that jumps from the foul line: It started with Dr. J, move to MJ and was most recently capped by a caped Dwight Howard. Think about how tough covering 15 feet from foul line to basket is and then remember that you have to have the ball 10 feet off the ground.
Dale Earnhardt sits on the window ledge of his Chevrolet before running in the Gatorade 125-mile qualifying races Thursday afternoon Feb. 15, 2001 at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
From A Fan
See you have a NASCAR challenge, that's cool. Here's our question -- how would NASCAR be different if Dale Earnhardt had not died at Dayton 11 year ago?
Wow, a great question, and it's impossible to know. Here's our top five:
1) Dale Sr. would have won at least one more championship. He finished second in points in the 2000 season and was running in the top five when his fatal crash occurred on the final lap of that Daytona 500. And that one more title would have given Dale a record eight titles and secured the title "Best of all-time."
2) Dale Jr. would have won at least one points championship by now. Sometimes it's easy to pick at Dale Jr., but he was a much more fearless driver before the wreck, and that's completely understandable on all levels. Plus, Daddy would have kiboshed a whole bunch of the free-wheeling, off-the-track stuff that some believe has slowed down Junior's progression as a driver.
3) NASCAR would be closer to its roots. Dale had a strong enough presence — and a direct enough approach — that he would have spoken out against some of the knee-jerk changes and style makeovers that NASCAR embarked on and is now trying to correct.
4) Bratty "bad" boy Kurt Busch would either be a) driving ARCA; b) scared to come out of the driver's trailer; or c) a grown-up who knows how to act and drive like an adult. Here's saying a bunch of the "wanna-be" tough guys would have gotten an education or two from Dale Sr. in the last 11 years.
5) NASCAR would be a slam dunk in the No. 3 spot as America's third most popular sport behind the NFL and college football. Seems fittingly ironic, huh?
Great question Fan.
P.S. — Here's the list so far in the Ricky Bobby "If you ain't first, you're last" Daytona Challenge:
Spy — Tony Stewart/????
McPell — Tony Stewart/David Stemme
OTWatcher — Jimmie Johnson/Danica Patrick
scole023 — Carl Edwards/Terry Labonte
ThatIDoKnow — Brad Keselowski/Trevor Bayne
Mrs. 5-at-10 — Tony Stewart/Landon Cassill
5-at-10 — Kevin Harvick/Paul Menard
DAWG747’s — Carl Edwards/Landon Cassill
Sunday Money — Tony “Smoke” Stewart / Michael “Turn Left Early & Slowly into the Pits” Waltrip
Tiger — Dale Jr./Joe Nemechek
Fan — Jimmie Johnson/Tony Raines
Fred — Jeff Gordon/Mikey Waltrip
There are a few more in our e-mail — feel free to e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org or add them in the comments — and we have to add the SportTalk guys in too.
Steve Buscemi holds up his award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Drama for his role in "Boardwalk Empire," at the Golden Globe Awards Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Longtime reader of you blog. I enjoy it most of the time. Saw this week you added the Steve Buscemi All-stars and had some members. How many of these freaky all-star teams do you have and who is on them?
Not many. We can only think of two right now but it feels like we're forgetting one. We need to come up with a couple more. Anyhoo, here's what we got:
The Steve Buscemi All-Stars really was born this week. The SB All-Stars — guys that seem way too homely to be actors, then you look up and they are in prominent roles in no fewer than three really good movies/TV shows — would have a starting five of Buscemi, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Gary Busey, Jackie Earl Haley (Nick Nolte of recent years is making a hard push, but dude was People's "Sexiest Dude Alive" at one point a few decades ago)
There's the Tim Duncan All-Stars, which is a team comprised of all-time, Hall of Fame-level players that somehow never get their due.
Starting 5 (which changes frequently, depending on the season and winds) is Tim Duncan, Akeem Olajuwon, Stan Musial, Marshall Faulk and Phil Mickelson (hey with his recent win he's in the top 10 in career PGA Tour victories and he's on a crazy-great list of names of players with 40 or more wins and four or more majors).
We frequently toss out a bunch of "Mount Rushmore..." situations, but it feels like we're forgetting an all-star team, doesn't it?
Atlanta Braves' Brian McCann wears the club's new alternative home uniform during a news conference to introduce the threads, Monday, Feb. 6 , 2012, in Atlanta. The uniform pays homage to the team's past, reflecting more of the look of the 1966 team, which also featured a patch on the sleeve. (AP Photo/John Amis)
From Skip Cherry
The Braves look a lot like last year. How can we expect anything better? The rest of the NL East is going to be better?
First love the name, and it sounds like you grew up in the old-school days of the Braves. The Atlanta Fulton County Stadium days, when you could buy a good seat for $2 and they may let you pitch a couple of innings. Wow, those were good times and very bad baseball.
You bet these Braves can be a playoff team. If any two of these happen (and we listed them in order of importance) the Braves will be there until the end. If any three of these happen, get ready for playoff baseball in the A-T-L.
If the starting pitching stays healthy (and that's a question for every team because few teams have starting pitching depth, and the Braves have more than most).
If Fredi G learns from his major mistake last year and does not burn out his bullpen.
If Jason Heyward pretends like 2011 never existed, and reverts back to the player that had everyone in baseball talking about the game's next star.
If the young kid at short makes the 5-at-10 remember his name. (Yes we know Tyler Pastornicky's 's name.)
If we get a full year of Post-July 4 Dan Uggla.
If Brian McCann and Chipper Jones get more than 400 at-bats.
Sure, that's a bunch of 'ifs' but this team has a good feel. We were talking with Dr. B (he's a doctor after all) about this Thursday. Look at the club, there may not a lot of "Wow, that's awesome" pieces beyond the bullpen, but there aren't may gaping holes either.
If healthy — and unabused by Fredi G — the bullpen is the best in baseball.
The rotation — Hudson, Hanson, Jurrjens, Beachy, Minror with Delgado and Teheran waiting in the wings — is loaded with depth.
The lineup — Bourn, Prado, Freeman, McCann, Uggla, Jones, Heyward, Pastornicky — is solid and has a ceiling of very-good-to-great. (And yes, it's time for Chipper to move to the No. 6 spot in the lineup, and in fact, it should be his idea.)
So yes, the Braves can be better with the same stuff. Either way, we're stuck with them — it's a summer in the South, what else are we going to do? And hey, there's a chance Fredi G may need us to pitch a few innings if he burns up his bullpen again.
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 ...