published Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

5 at 10: Derby Debate, NBA star power and stumbling Braves

Before we start, we wanted to thank the folks who stopped by Tuesday; it was one of our better back-and-forth sessions in a while. Nice job all the way around.

From the "Talk too much studios" here we go.

  • photo
    Kentucky Derby hopeful Daddy Nose Best yawns as he gets a bath outside Barn 38 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., Monday, April 30, 2012 following his training. The 138th running of the Kentucky Derby is Saturday, May 5. (AP Photo/Garry Jones)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

More contests

Who doesn't love a good contest, right? It's time for our second annual First In/Last In Derby Debate.

The rules are simple: Give us the winner and the horse that you think will finish dead last. Each is worth two points. (If no one picks the winner, we'll award one point to the highest-finishing picked horse.) The tie-breaker will be after the fact and it will be a paragraph essay contest on whether there is a drink out there that's worse than a Mint Julep, which sounds as tough as kittens but can be as painful as an IRS audit. Seriously, a Mint Julep is a mint leaf, bourbon, sugar and water, and maybe we have never had a proper one, but we know we've never had a good one. And we like bourbon. (Bourbony, bourbon, bourbon. Here it goes down, down in my belly.)

There is a Seattle slew of horses that could win this year, making this one of the more unpredictable Derby fields ever.

That said, none of the horses on the final list of those that will be announce in the field this afternoon are any of the following:

1) Glue Stick

2) Mr. Ed's Mouthpiece

3) Alpo, Alpo, it's off to work we go

4) Short Bus

5) Nachos

6) Washington Hogwallop (yes that's a reference to "O Brother Where Art Thou" — a movie we sorely under-use here)

7) Strollin'

8) Elmer's Choice

9) FleaBag

10) Quitter


  • photo
    Injured Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose leaves the court before the start of game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Chicago Bulls in Game 2 in the first round of the NBA basketball playoffs in Chicago, Tuesday, May 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Star power

Sheer mathematics tells us that basketball can be affected more by one great player than any team sport. There's fewer people and there are more chances to go one-on-one, which means there are more chances to magnify a great player.

With that, the three NBA playoff games Tuesday highlighted the greatness of great players. And their importance.

Without Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls looked as confused as the 5-at-10 at a Vegan restaurant. There was no flow, there was no purpose and there was an actual sense of panic as the Philadelphia 76ers rolled after halftime in a 109-92 win at Chicago.

With Paul Pierce looking like his 2004 self, the Celtics snatched a win from Atlanta on Tuesday to head back to Boston at 1-1. Let's be real honest, there are more than half the franchises in pro sports that have ZERO chance of winning a title, right? It's hard to see the Atlanta Hawks ever winning a title. (And you may have heard that we love the draft — in fact you know this — but as bad a pick as JaMarcus Russell was, you can make a hard argument that the Hawks taking Marvin Williams over Chris Paul and Deron Williams is almost as bad.)

And if you want to talk about star power and taking over a game, Kobe Bryant is an all-timer on that list. There with MJ and Bird and a select few, Bryant can flip a switch and go from superstar to unstoppable to turn out the lights this one's over.

Around the NBA playoffs

Orlando and Indiana tied at 1. Next: Tonight at Orlando (NBA TV)

Miami leads New York 2-0. Next: Thursday at New York

Atlanta and Boston tied at 1. Next: Friday at Boston

Chicago and Philly tied at 1. Next: Friday at Philadelphia

Western Conference

San Antonio leads Utah 1-0. Next: Wednesday at San Antonio (TNT)

LA Clippers lead Memphis 1-0. Next: Wednesday at Memphis. (TNT)

Oklahoma City leads Dallas 2-0. Next: Thursday at Dallas

LA Lakers lead Denver 2-0. Next: Friday at Denver


  • photo
    Philadelphia Phillies' Jimmy Rollins, right, is tagged out while stealing second base by Atlanta Braves shortstop Tyler Pastornicky in the sixth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 1, 2012, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Braves stumble

One of the great things about baseball is pace. The game seems slow but the mood can turn in a blink of an eye.

Your Atlanta Braves stumbled and fumbled away a game against Philadelphia on Monday. The winning run scored on a wild pitch by Jonny Venters, who was roughed up in the 4-2 defeat. Venters, who normally is as reliable as a toddler's curiosity, allowed two runs on four hits — marking only the fourth time in 174 career games that he has allowed four or more hits in a game.

The Braves will send Tommy Hanson to the mound tonight against Roy Halladay for a game that certainly feels bigger than May 2.

Side note: Here's saying Brian McCann is about to get hot. He homered off lefty Cole Hamels on Monday, and Thursday is scheduled to face Joe Blanton, a pitcher McCann has pounded. Dude is too good a hitter to be scuffling around .240.


This and that

— If we were talking about the Preds, we'd mention that there is no way to overstate tonight's home game against Phoenix. If we were going to take a chance and discuss the Preds, we'd say that the Bridgestone Arena will be rocking and a quick start is paramount — for the fans, the team and especially goaltender Pekka Rinne. But, since the 5-at-10 has jinxed the Preds and we're not talking about said Preds, there's no way we're going to mention any of that stuff.

— Former Titans quarterback Vince Young had a tryout with the Buffalo Bills. Young is a puzzling draft bust — dude looked all-world in college, right? Now he's scuffling around the league hoping to be someone's No. 3. Wow, how about that 2006 draft that went Mario Williams, Reggie Bush, Vince Young 1-2-3? If you reordered that draft, and the Texans, Saints and Titans each drafted the same position, the order would have been Haloti Ngata, Maurice Jones-Drew, Jay Cutler.

— Is there a franchise with more positive aura right now than the L.A. Dodgers? Trade the McCourt soap opera for Magic Johnson's smile and a group of investors that include a 12-figure investment firm. Plus, L.A. has the best pitcher on the planet (yes, we're on the Yu Darvish bandwagon — the Yu-Go — but he's not better than Clayton Kershaw) and the best position player in the game in Matt Kemp, who hit .417 with 12 homers and 25 RBIs in April. And they are 17-7 in the weakest division in baseball. War Dodgers. Where's Fernando?

— Shout out to WC777 and know the only way to get there is to keep going.


Today's question(s)

After the first month of the season, the previously mentioned Matt Kemp and Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton are putting up sick numbers.

In fact, each is in the top two in his league in the three triple crown categories. Kemp leads the NL in average and homers and his 25 RBIs is two behind teammate Andre Either. Hamilton (.395, 9 HRs, 25 RBIs) shares the lead in homers and leads in RBIs. He is five points behind Derek Jeter in average. (Yes, that means the 37-year-old Jeter is hitting .400. Scary stuff right there.)

First question: Could either Kemp or Hamilton actually win a triple crown?

Second question: Which triple crown will we see next — horse racing or baseball?

Third question: Which is the most impressive feat: baseball triple crown, horse racing triple crown, tennis grand slam, golf grand slam?


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 ...

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.
Livn4life said...

Well Mr. Edd(a horse is a horse of course)would appreciate your picture today at the top 5. Now I switch my Derby to the other side of my head(hat not race). 1st question: Yes Kemp or Hamilton could be a Triple Crowner 2nd question: ME, I will be the next triple crowner, just call and ask my dentist; old fillings falling out. 3rd question: Baseball is the most impressive because of the day in/day out wear and tear of a full season.

May 2, 2012 at 10:16 a.m.
chas9 said...

Jay-- What're the chances a few of your fourth estate colleagues today used the phrase "Magic Dodger Franchise" in a headline? And yesterday's show was witty. Or halfway.

May 2, 2012 at 10:19 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

Also not winning the Kentucky Derby - Boxer, Clover or any horse named Boat Race or Mule Train. Just ain't happenin.

And Auric Goldfinger sure loved himself some mint juleps.

Toughest to win - I'll go tennis grand slam. Different surfaces, different styles of play, different elements to contend with (almost always hot in Paris and Sydney) and also physically taxing. I think that one will be the most impressive. Baseball grand slam may be the least likely because the closer you get, the less you get pitched to. Besides, you get one extra hit a week, a gork, a ground ball with eyes, you're a .300 hitter and not a .250 hitter.

May 2, 2012 at 10:48 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Livin(Large) —

Would it be cliched or racist to say it's a horse of a different color? Thoughts? And yes, we just went deep.

We think that Hamilton could because he's in such a good lineup. Kemp's going to start seeing a lot of unintentional intentional walks (one of the best oxymorons in sports, by the way).

9er —

We'll say at least two used the Magic Dodger Franchise and at leas two more used New Magic Kingdom.

Concur that yesterday's show got close to witty. Good times all round.

Spy —

Just one more dying quail a week and you're in Yankee Stadium. How'd we ever win 8? It's a miracle.

We think winning the golf grand slam would be the most difficult. The odds are so long because there is a huge number of folks that could put four days together and win a major.

Tennis is grueling, but there are really only five or six folks that can win each week.

And speaking of Goldmember... "Dr. Evil, we still have the ultimate insurance policy. May I present to you, the very sexual, the very toite, Austin Power's fahza."

— 5-at-10

May 2, 2012 at 11:23 a.m.
Todd962 said...


Of course one of those guys could win it. Its already May 2nd. If they keep this pace for another 130 odd games they will be gold, Jay! GOLD! Thats just over 500 at bats. In the bag for at least one of them.

I think baseball will more than likely come before a horse winner. While the human element kills nearly everything else, it may lend an edge against a moody horse who felt slighted on his carrot regiment that day.

As for the most impressive feat I think that I would have to go with golf. If you figure between the four majors, assuming 15 under would win the tournament for you, you would have to hit 1,092 decent shots to get to -15 out of the 1,152 that would get you to par on all 16 rounds. I am lucky to get 10 good shots in a round of 72 hits, but 1,092 (insert mind explosion sound here).

Baseball people would mess themselves with a .500 batting average and that would only take 324 hits with an average of 4 at bats a game, and with a .500 batting average the homers and rbis would come.

I dont know how impressed I am with a 1200 lb beast carrying an underdeveloped human around. I understand its quite a feat to win all three, but I am least impressed.

And tennis would be further up my impress-o-meter if they didnt have one in Australia forcing me to want to watch it live at three in the morning. Call it a personal grudge or what you will, but I'd put it second just because it is a more physically demanding sport with a lot more variables amongst the four majors.

May 2, 2012 at 11:37 a.m.
chas9 said...

5 ball---In the wake of the NFL draft, a look at the business side is timely. A recent WSJ story assesses the "intrinsic worth" of college sports teams. Not surprisingly, football teams are worth more than basketball.

Surprisingly, Bama's only #6. They are topped by (in order) Texas (of course), Florida, Michigan, Notre Dame and Gawga. The Ohio State is #7. LS&U is # 8 and the loveliest village on the plains houses the # 9 team.

Shockingly, in basketball The National Championship Wildcats aren't even #1 in Kentucky. Louisville is tops in the state and in the nation, and it's not even close. (Can you say Yum?) Kansas is #2, Indiana #3, and Kentucky is #16. It's all in how you play the (money) game. Serve Maker's Mark at the arena and they will come.

May 2, 2012 at 12:02 p.m.
deboman said...

Mint Juleps aren't too awfully bad. The trouble starts around number 4 when they actually start tasting pretty good.

First Question- yes, they could, but this is a conversation best started in August.

Second Question- my guess would be baseball and it will probably be the result of someone leaning in a bit too close to a high fastball and taking it off the chops.

Third Question- Most impressive would have to be the golf. As previously pointed out, there are way too many chances for said golfer to duff, shank, slice, splash, or worm burn a shot and fall out of a round. Not to mention the numerous other golfers that only have to have one round of a lifetime to hit the reset button on your slam.

Baseball is next, just because it requires some semblance of consistency over such a long period of time. There are a lot more intangibles here since it is a team sport and the opponent(s) can have a direct impact on the outcome of batting situations. But it is possible to have a few bad games and still get back on track with a weekend series against the Royals.

Horse racing is next. Don’t see the horse as an entirely motivated beast with a specific goal in mind. Plus, it also has the benefit of not really knowing why it is getting all of the media attention after winning the first two legs so there is a lack of pressure. It does take a special animal for sure, but the way they whip those animals, how can they not be running like the dickens.

Tennis is last. There have been numerous grand slam winners and it seems like every 5 or 6 years a new dominant player arrives on the scene an whoops up on everyone pretty good.

Most recent triple crown may have just been accomplished by Roger Goodell by sacking the Saints’ front office, coach, and now players with suspensions.

As for Game three tonight in Nashville…ah, nothing to see here, move along, nothing to see…

May 2, 2012 at 1:32 p.m.
deboman said...

Kudos to Greg Schiano and the Tampa Bay Bucs for signing undrafted rookie Eric LeGrand, Schiano's former player at Rutgers who was paralyzed in a game against Army. Nice to see Schiano bringing a little class with him to the National Football League.

May 2, 2012 at 2:42 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Mr. 962 —

You should have the soup at Mindy's. It's the best. THE BEST.

Feels like we're kind of due for a baseball player to make a run at it. Of course the only things that are truly due are postage and library books.

And loved your "Underdeveloped Human" reference to jockeys. So No. 11 on the horse names that will not win the Derby is Underdeveloped Human Carrier. And think of the possible euphemisms with that.

Tiger Woods is not a scum bag; he's underdeveloped morally.

Rocket Clemens is not a liar; he has an underdeveloped sense of truth.

Congrats 962, that will become a regular around these parts.

Well-played indeed.

9er —

Timeout. We're headed to WSJ to check that out. That's some awesome stuff and we'd love to take a look at that.

And judging by the teams mentioned, it just reaffirms that TV deals (Longhorn Network) and shiny new digs (The YUM Center, which is arguably the dumbest name in arena history. The YUM Center? Sounds like control central for Willy Wonka for crying out loud.)

Deboman —

Great story about Schiano. That deserves huge, Huge, HUGE ups.

Maybe we just had a bad experiment with the juleps that warm day in Louisville. Too much sugar. It was Cane; we were dis-Abled. (Thank you, thank you.)

Fair point about the conversation needing to be months down the road, but when August gets here, somebody better be chasing a triple crown or it will be all-football, all-the-time around these parts.

And if there was, say, a hockey playoff game, that, oh say, involved a semi-area team that sounded like Feds, will you pull them through. The 5-at-10 does not want to be on the jinx hook. Well, if there was some such situation that no one can or cannot prove.

We're going to stop talking now.

— 5-at-10

May 2, 2012 at 3:34 p.m.
Stewwie said...

Speaking of the WSJ, did you see this, Jay? Well played by Mr. Gay.

May 2, 2012 at 4:31 p.m.
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