published Thursday, June 7th, 2012

5-at-10: Can you spare some change?

It's kind of strange how we mark time. Every year right before the Best of Preps banquet is a crazy busy time for the TFP sports department. More than 1,500 folks are coming to dinner and we have to be ready.

That said, the changes from this time of year to last range from minute to massive and are equally staggering. Last year we had a Super Bowl MVP quarterback with New Orleans ties. This year, well, we have a Super Bowl MVP quarterback with New Orleans roots.

Last year Robert Pattinson was running around the Scenic City, riding the wave of celebrity of the nation's hottest trilogy. Now, you could see Harrison Ford duck into Taco Mamacita and not be surprised. And yes, Harrison Ford was Pattinson — only with talent — before Pattinson was even born.

But today, let's focus on the differences between then and now that are far greater than the numeric.

From the "Talks too much" studios, here we go...

About this time last year we believed that the OKC Thunder was a fun an energetic bunch that had an entertaining run to the Western Conference finals. We didn't know if we'd seriously hear from them again, we just knew that Kevin Durant was a great scorer and the guy coming off the bench had a boss beard.

Now, we know they can be NBA champions.

The biggest leap any team must make in terms of chasing a title is the ability to close out a game. Make first downs. Lock down the eighth and ninth innings. Make 6-footers for par on the 15th or chip in for birdie on the 16th.

For the Thunder, this group has continually made big shot after big shot in one-possession games against a Spurs team that until last week had not lost since April.

Well a basket of big buckets from bearded baller James Harden and the series of sublime shots set up by the mismatch machine that is Durant later and the Spurs' season ended with four straight losses. This OKC Thunder team — a group whose three best players, Russell Westbrook, Durant and Harden, are 23 or younger — is poised beyond their years.

Not only are they in the finals ahead of schedule, they sealed their spot by handling two of the most pressure-filled situations in seven-game postseason scenarios. Consider the following:

— In Game 5 at San Antonio, the Thunder were up 13 with six minutes to go. San Antonio cut it to 101-99 with 90 seconds left, and everyone in the building thought the Spurs would deliver. They were denied by a monster Harden 3.

— In Game 6 at home, the Spurs steamed to an 18-point lead in the first half, and looked like the series was headed back to San Antonio. Durant would not let it happen. The 23-year-old who already has three NBA scoring titles scored 34 points, grabbed 14 boards and drew a crucial charge that changed the course of the events.

Change is good.

————

About this time last year, most of the news coming out of Tuscaloosa centered on tornado recovery and Harvey Updyke.

Now, there is no program in America enjoying more success than the Crimson Tide, who have hoisted NCAA championships in football, women's golf and softball this school year and finished second in golf.

Some times things work in weird cycles and winning certainly can become contagious, but this is more than eye-catching.

And don't look for the football train to slow down any time soon gang. As much as the rest of the SEC may loath to admit it, the Tide's roll does not look like it's going to fade any time soon.

Sure, friend of the show Dr. B (he is a doctor after all) is an unabashed Alabama hater/baitor but he knows Alabama will open the season in the top 5 of almost every poll. The good doctor rightfully notes that the Tide has lost a slew of talent in the last couple of years. That actually means there are now playing opportunities for the slew of talent waiting in the wings.

Here are three names to remember that will be charged with replacing the last round of NFL first-round studs that have traded the Crimson of Alabama for the green of the NFL: Dee Milliner, an NFL-size cornerback who will step in for Dre Kirkpatrick; Trey DePriest, a rising sophomore who will be the next Alabama super-stud linebacker; T.J. Yeldon, a freshman running back that wowed in the spring, Yeldon may have to wait early behind Eddie Lacy and Co., but this kid is special.

The names may change, but the success is here for a while.

—————

About this time last year, Charlie Sheen was the most popular thing this side of McDonald's. Sure the clown served billions, but in his-post-TV-hit-break-up Sheen was serving one-liners and became the most trending topic since the Slinky. He had more catch phrases than a Seinfeld convention — not that there's anything wrong with that.

Dude was everywhere and his message was over-the-top: He insulted nearly everyone; he called his porn-star girls goddesses; he tried to turn his pseudo-fame into a world tour; and well you know the rest.

Now Sheen has told Rolling Stone magazine that he was in denial. You think so doctor? So your theory that crack is OK if you can control it socially was a bit over the top? Got it.

Sheen would have been well-served to follow one of our favorite pearls of wisdom — if everyone in the room is laughing and you don't know who the fool in the room is, well, it's you. (Granted that's not as golden as "Never play cards with a guy nicknamed after a city," but it's in the top 10.)

We grew up wanting to like Sheen for several reasons. He has a nice collection of movies from Platoon to Wall Street to Young Guns to a glorious cameo in Ferris Bueller. He's arguably part of the most talented acting family of all-time. (What blood relatives have a better list of movies and TV shows than Martin Sheen, Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez?)

And if you're wondering why this has a place in a family-oriented, interweb-based sports column, well, that's a fair question. He once paid six figures for the ball that went through Buckner's legs in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. Plus, he was a big part of the success in "Major League," which is actually underrated as sports movies go considering it is truly funny, has at least two hair-raising moments and the actors actually don't embarrass themselves athletically.

Still, in this age of the unfillable and unavoidable electronic celebrity — and worse the matching unfillable and unavoidable electronic memories — Sheen's flash-mob meltdown this time last year was historic.

And that's undeniable.

————

This and that

— Not so much of change: LeBron James' season goes through Boston tonight. Win and there will be a Game 7 on Saturday. Lose and the Heatles face a summer of discontent — and likely a slew of changes.

— Change history: Your favorite racing slogan and ours "I'll Have Another" will try to make history Saturday at the Belmont. We're all-in for the "I'll Have Another" approach to life. In fact, since it's the a.m., we'll have another cup of Joe. And when we get done with the banquet tonight — and the 1,200 things we have to mark off our list to head to the Panhandle — we may have several anothers later. (Side question: We all love a vacation, right? Well, when did it get to the point that you had to work 80 hours the week before to get everything done so you can take 40 hours off? Cuh-razy.)

— No change to report: More names of Saints defensive players — Roman Harper and Jo-Lonn Dunbar — have surfaced as part of the Bounty-gate scandal. Want to know how deep this thing runs? Have you noticed not a single person involved be it coaches, management or players has denied the charges? Nope, every defense centers on either things have been overblown, everyone is doing it, or that the commissioner is judge, jury and executioner. Change your tune gang.

— No change on the horizon: The French Open semifinals are at hand. (Yeah we had to look it up, too.) and Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic comprise three of the final four spots. Here's an idea to make tennis more fair to the rest of the world. Give those three dudes a pass into the semifinals. Everyone else plays for the final slot, and the winner from the field can call it a mini-major championship. Seriously, there has not been a dominant three waiting for a fourth since John, Paul and George added Ringo outside Liverpool those many moons ago.

— Small change but no change: The Devils staved off elimination with a 3-1 win over the Kings, who now lead the Stanley Cup Finals 3-1. Are we ready for an end to winter sports with the Stanley Cup living in L.A. and the NBA title residing in OKC?

— No change in time: Still planning on being on 1370 AM today with Chris Goforth around 2 p.m. Stop by if you have the chance.

———

Today's question

We're going to change this up. Naturally.

We're going on vacation next week — we are a touch excited, which is probably noticeable since we've mentioned it like 12 times in the last 24 hours — and since we're working on a Ripken-esque 5-at-10 streak we need some help.

As you regulars know, we do this every Monday through Friday, and we have every Monday through Friday since October 2010 — more than 350 consecutive M-Tu-W-Th-Fs — including vacations and holidays.

Well, on those vacation and holiday-type scenarios we have abreviated top-five lists to stay within the realm of the rules.

We need some top five lists you'd like to see next week. We already have some. We'll save some for next week and we;ll answer some today.

Discuss.

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.
chas9 said...

If OKC wins it all, they can thank the four days they spent during the lockout practicing at UK, learning to play like a team.

Will Reese Phillips be the next Tim Couch? Why did DD not show him any love? That's the orange slack wearing DD, not the DD that Spy hates on. A top five list for next week could be naming the top five DD's of all time.

June 7, 2012 at 10:44 a.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

We know Reese has been a long-time UT fan. Not sure why the Vols were luke warm, but those kinds of things happen in recruiting. We believe Phillips can be a really good SEC quarterback, though.

And D.D. Lewis, former Dallas Cowboys linebacker believes he deserves a spot on the top five D.D. list.

— 5-at-10

June 7, 2012 at 11:29 a.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent —

Top 5 Lists:

1) Top 5 things you are looking forward to in college football season this year.

2) Top 5 games you are looking forward to in college football this year.

3) Top 5 coaches with the most pressure in sports right now.

4) Top 5 players all-time not to win a championship (any sport division- including things like golf and tennis, but then it turns into a major championship, not just a championship).

5) Top 5 things going on in the sports world in the months of June and July.

That's my Top Five Top Five Five at Ten Lists for his Five Day Vacation. (That's a lot of fives.)

June 7, 2012 at 11:31 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Stuck —

That is a ton of fives. Why don't you take five? After all you deserve a High-Five.

Book 'em Dan-O. (Yes, that's a Hawaii 5-0 reference.) Want to know what song we heard this morning? Yep, "I can't drive 55" by Sammy.

On a serious not, that's a big-time list and will be put to good use.

— 5-at-10

June 7, 2012 at 11:33 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

acting families ... I'll take the Fondas, Henry, Jane and Peter. That's a whole lot of Oscars and a slew of great movies, from The Grapes of Wrath to The China Syndrome to Easy Rider and a whole bunch more in between and then some.

June 7, 2012 at 11:44 a.m.
Todd962 said...

The top five DD's of the mammillary variety? I'm in.

Top five sports conspiracies. Jordan leaving basketball due to gambling, the Ali phantom punch.

Top five worst injuries that almost made you throw up on your tv. McGahee, Theismann.

Top five awesome names in sports. Butkus, Trickle.

Top five sports moments that made your face leak. MJ winning one without his faja, the olympic sprinter blowing his hammie and finishing with his dad.

June 7, 2012 at 11:51 a.m.
Blueoval said...

Top Five area football players who had good college careers (1980's to present, can't go any further back becuase I was 8 in 1980).

Top Five college football programs of all time. I would like to see everyon's opinion on that. I love it how college football seems to now be a year round conversation.

Top Five professional golfers of all time.

To add to the cross-generation match-ups question from yesterday: All previous Triple Crown winners, put 'em in the starting gate and let 'em run.......I would put my coins down on Secretariat! That horse was Money Jay, Money!

June 7, 2012 at 12:13 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

Almost went with the Fonda, but that would be supporting Jane, and frankly we don't do that.

Mr. 962 —

Step away from the line of family-orientedness.

Conspiracies is in. As for injuries. Theismann's a no-brainer. So is Tim Krumrie. And when Dave Dravecky's arm breaking from a pitch would have to be near the top, right?

Sports moments that got to us... wow. Just wow.

Oval —

We'll have at least one on college football, that's for sure.

Golfers: Nicklaus, Woods, Palmer, Hogan, Nelson in something resembling that order.

Triple crown delightful. Secretariat would likely be the favorite. But don't count out Sea Biscuit, but you can count out his step-brother Dog Biscuit.

— 5-at-10

June 7, 2012 at 12:39 p.m.
deboman said...

We used to sit around and talk about how great it would be to spend a couple of hours a week being 6 years old again. No cares, no worries, no bills, etc. Somehow, Charlie has managed to make this his reality and to that I have to say- Bravo. But apparently he has also been gifted with a special brand of insanity, which I guess is fair, and apparently needed to eliminate that thing you and I call a conscience.

So much for the Spurs. For a team that looked like it would take an act of God to derail their run through the playoffs, they went down and they went down hard. And still no change in Tim Duncan’s expression.

With the way that teams are stockpiling big name players now, how about a Top 5 starting 5, either now or historically. Given the time of year- Top 5 Olympic events, Athletes, moments. Or even, Top 5 vacation activities…Enjoy the trip!

June 7, 2012 at 12:57 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

I understand 5, I understand.

How bout top 5 sporting venues you've been to.

Top 5 sporting venues you want to go to.

Top 5 sports moments you wish you had been there in person to witness.

Top 5 uses of a baseball bat in movies, excluding Wonderboy and Savoy Special.

Top 5 sports that are considered sports but maybe shouldn't be sports.

June 7, 2012 at 12:59 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

For what it's worth, 5, Martin Sheen's political views make Jane Fonda look like Herman Cain.

June 7, 2012 at 1:03 p.m.
Stewwie said...

Top 5 coaches in the NBA right now. Where does Brooks rank now that he's won the chess match against Pop? It's impressive how he's made the right adjustments and kept those young guns composed against a legit team like the Spurs. Thibodeau is up there too. Does anyone else get more from less than him with the Bulls? Not sure how to rank those three, but I'd put Doc at #4, and Doug Collins at #5.

How in the world are the Heat favored to win tonight in Boston? Something's fishy about that line.

[Top 5 sports that are considered sports but maybe shouldn't be sports.]

Cheerleading, Gymnastics, Cross Country, Bowling, Fishing.

June 7, 2012 at 1:15 p.m.
Todd962 said...

Top five of the sweetest nicknames in sports. I was always a fan of Raynoch "your block off" Thompson. Didnt have much of an NFL career but I sure loved screaming that whole name as a kid watching games.

There are also the guys whose nickname became their name. Magic, Tiger, Tubby, Penny.

June 7, 2012 at 1:19 p.m.
chas9 said...

Mr. 962-- I never understood the nomenclature. Is DDDD bigger than EE? And there is a sports relevance. Remember Morganna?

June 7, 2012 at 1:42 p.m.
Todd962 said...

Sheen's not done melting down yet. Apparently last night at the Kings game he went outside to smoke a cigarette and they would not allow him to reenter the colliseum, thus provoking another profanity laced tyraid captured by every celebrity's best friend, TMZ.

Who do you think is the more controversial character in the two great acting families, Hanoi Jane or Coke-uped Charlie?

June 7, 2012 at 1:46 p.m.
Todd962 said...

Chas! Get back from the line! Ive been warned once already! (And EE is bigger, and I goggled Morganna....I'm sorry, what were we talking about? Ah yes, the Kissing Bandit.)

June 7, 2012 at 1:53 p.m.

I know you had a lot to cover today. But I would like to get your take on the interference call in last nights Braves games. Which brings up a couple of top fives.
Top five dumbest rules in Baseball. And because there are just so many darned rules period, we can't leave out....The top five dumbest rules in Golf.

June 7, 2012 at 1:53 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Sweet buckets of mass response, you guys have brought your A game all week.

A 5-at-10 steps out of the office for some sports editor stuff and BOOM.

Quick rapid fire version because we only have 3,000 characters and we all know how much we like to talk:

Deboman —

An absence of conscience is only possible before kindergarten and when there are no financial concerns. Sheen meets each category.

Spy —

While we were the grown up version of spitting milk out of our nose about the Fonda-Cain line, you can't be serious about Jeb Bartlett (sadly we know you are serious and correct).

Great list of five, and we'll be knocking one of the venues off the list this July when we take the Mrs. to a Yankees-Sox game in the House that was built across the street from the House that Ruth built.

Stew —

Great list, but we'd swap Ice Skating for Cross Country. In fact the three we have the biggest problem with are Gymnastics, Cheerleading and Ice Skating because there is no hard and fast rule that tells us who wins. There is only judging and interpretation. How is that sports? At least with cross country you know the first one to the line wins. Period. Are the others unbelievably athletic? You bet they are. Just not sports. Not when there are judges.

— 5-at-10

June 7, 2012 at 2:42 p.m.
jgreeson said...

962 —

Love the nickname idea and we may have to revisit that. And thanks for trying to keep 9er on track.

And yes, Charlie is not done melting down. As for bigger character, we'll say Hanoi Jane because of her turn coat ways. Sheen was just more notorious because there's a trillion times more media outlets nowadays.

As far as nicknames off given names, Raynoch was great. So was former Notre Dame linebacker Michael Stonebreaker.

9er —

Everyone of a certain age remembers Morganna. And that age is over 12.

Addict —

Saw it briefly, and it looked close. Naturally obvious interference has to be called, but on a play that is routinely known as the vicinity play that's a tough call when the runner slides.

Baseball rule changes:

1) Allow batters to ask for an appeal on a check swing.

2) Actually enforce the strike zone in the book.

3) Do make the managers and coaches wear uniforms. What's next Stan Van Gundy coming out in shorts and a tank top? No thanks.

4) Scoring rule — Why does a sacrifice fly hurt your on-base percentage. That's dumb.

5) All-star game deciding home-field for the World Series. This one should be No. 1 actually.

— 5-at-10

June 7, 2012 at 2:55 p.m.
Todd962 said...

Judges? Boxing? MMA? So if someone gets knocked out its a sport but if it goes to the judges they are just ill tempered people wearing ridiculous oven mitts?

I see and agree with your point. Just figured I'd be the antagonist.

I always had a rule with sports that it cant be that serious of a sport if you can be decent at it while being intoxicated. Which is why I dont feel awestruck when I meet a lot of professional bowlers or dart players.

June 7, 2012 at 3 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Mr. 962 —

Excellent point.

And now we have to review our theory. Stupid technicality (knock out).

The drinking rule is applicable, but we know a lot of folks who are better golfers after a few cocktails. So it goes.

— 5-at-10

June 7, 2012 at 3:34 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Lefty, Bubba and Woods in the same group for the first two rounds at the Olympic Club? Golf Channel has just sprained its shoulder high-fiving itself. NBC wears the face of chagrin, since it may not be a weekend grouping. However, if it is, it may blow TV golf ratings out of the water. So long as they're not on 17 as the leaders are teeing off Sunday.

June 7, 2012 at 3:45 p.m.
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