Gang, remember about Friday's mailbag. We have a couple of open spots.
From the "Talk too much Studios" here we go...
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant is shown during the second half of their NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers in Portland, Ore., Monday, Feb. 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)
Changing of the guard?
Did that just happen? Did Kevin Durant just make a series of big plays late in a tight playoff game, and outshine the game's top closer to close out a big game?
Yes and yes. Durant was the man in the final quarter of the Thunder's not-always-pretty-but-pretty-doggone-exciting-late 77-75 win over Los Angeles.
Durant, who was described as too unselfish by his coach, finished with 22 points and 15 rebounds. He switched defensively and covered Kobe Bryant, who missed all four of his shots in the final 4:29 with the elongated Durant bothering him.
While LeBron is the best player on the planet, Durant just served notice about a couple things in that hierarchy:
1) The divide is now super narrow;
2) If you have Kobe at No. 2, well, that's your prerogative considering all he's accomplished, know that his time there is dwindling.
(Side note: If LeBron had a final five minutes like Kobe did Wednesday night, there would have been a cosmic shift with all the ensuing hand-wringing. Granted Kobe gets a few mulligans after a career crafted on being a slap killer in the final minutes, but wow. Game 3 is now over the top huge for the Lakers.)
Braves' 10-foot hurdle
If you're a Braves fan, depending on you age, you have certain nemesis. For some it's the Dodgers, for some it was the Mets, and for the current brood, it's those stinkin' Florida/Miami MArlins. The Braves could be the '27 Yankees and the Marlins could be filled with TFP sportswriters and the Braves would struggle (although, if our curve is working, Uggla's got no chance).
It was true again last night as the Marlins stroked the Braves 8-4. And while we fully embrace the baseball thinking that it's a long season and you have to trust it, it's time to ask some questions about Mike Minor.
Minor became the first big-league pitcher since 2008 to allow at least six earned runs in each of four consecutive starts. Ouch.
In fact, after last night's drubbing, did you know that Minor's ERA (7.09) is more than double that of 138-year-old journeyman reliever Livan Hernandez's (3.09)? We want to believe Minor has a super bright future, but we're certainly coming to a crossroad in which potential needs to meet production.
(Side note: Speaking of production, Martin Prado is killing. Opposing pitchers could be throwing aspirin tablets and Prado would double to right center. Dude is 6-for-his-last-8, 10-for-his-last-16 and has jumped his average from .264 to .314 during his eight-game hitting streak. Awesome in its awesomeness.)
Some college football house cleaning
Let's get to it. (And yes, we've missed it as badly as you have.)
— Alabama landed a verbal pledge from Cooper Bateman, a top-five national QB prospect. It seems that Nick Saban is the Honey Badger of recruiting, and he continues to take what he wants.
— Clemson's offseason of turmoil received another jolt of bad news. Running back Mike Bellamy — a true speedster — was ruled academically ineligible and is headed to a junior college. That means Clemson could be without Bellamy and Sammie Watkins, who faces some sort of discipline for his arrest last month, for the season opener against Auburn in the Georgia Dome.
— Notre Dame linebacker Carlo Calabrese has been charged with a misdemeanor count of intimidation for allegedly making threats to a cop after Irish quarterback Tommy Rees was arrested earlier this month. And yes, this would be where you would insert the "That's the first ND linebacker to intimidate anyone since Holtz was on campus," jokes. Although, apparently Calabrese told the cop, "My people will get you," and whether he contacted cousin Luca Brasi or his wife's hot-headed brother Sonny or not is unknown.
— As our ace David Paschall reported during the spring, Georgia sophomore Malcolm Mitchell is going to be an extremely busy Bulldog this fall. Mark Richt said this week that receiver/defensive back Mitchell will be the first true two-way player he's had. And while a big part of that is the challenges facing a suspension-riddled secondary, here's a chicken or the egg question: If a power program in college football is using someone on both sides of the ball does that speak to the supreme talents of that player or the misgivings of recruiting a specific position? Discuss.
— Tennessee's kickoff time for the season opener against N.C. State on Aug. 31 was set at 7:30 p.m. Two quick things: One, there is no way to overstate that game for the Vols and coach Derek Dooley; Two, that will be the single busiest night of the year for the TFP sports department. A full night of high school football compounded with the Vols playing a night game on national TV. Ouch-standing.
— Urban Meyer, THE new coach at THE Ohio State, says leadership brings championship rings. Well, under the Buckeyes Transitive Property of Pryor, in which if A=Bling and Bling=Cash then A=Cash, if leadership means rings, and rings mean money, leadership means money. Got it.
This and that
— The shoe company Sketchers was ordered to pay $40 million because of unfounded claims that its Shape-ups shoes would allow folks to lose pounds and shape their tuckus, stomach and leg muscles. What? You mean advertising is not always accurate and can overstate products? Noooooooo. (Although that explains why we couldn't use the Reebok Pump shoe and dunk like Shawn Kemp. Where's our attorney's number...)
— The New York Giants received their Super Bowl rings this week, and they are pretty boss. The 5-at-10 does not wear jewelry, but if we had a championship ring, we would consider altering our view on bling. (Other than a wedding ring, we don't wear any flare. We have no problem with a watch or even a necklace that has some emotional value, but you start getting into multiple rings, a bracelet, etc., well, you are asking for the Mr. T jokes. And if you wear five or more pieces of jewelry, know that even if you can't hear the Mr. T jokes, those jokes are being made.)
— Programming note: We're scheduled to pull a radio two-fer today — chatting with Chris Goforth on 1370 AM at 2 p.m. and swinging by SportTalk to catch up with Quake and Dr. B (he's a doctor after all) around 4ish. Give them a listen... don't cost nothing.
Free for all Thursday...
What's the best debut album ever? What movie are you stunned there hasn't been a remake? (And if you answer anything other than Red Dawn, well, you fighting for second place.) What TV show are you watching that you're stunned the rest of us aren't?
Sports can be the topic too: Will you watch an NBA playoff game or a replay of an SEC spring game (and not your main team, just another team in the conference)? What should our next contest be?
Bring it with anything whether it's something you think make the 5-at-10 better? Maybe you have a question about the competitive chihuahua races in Panama?
Or maybe some word play, more or less. Would less be more? Would more be less? (Some times you win, some times you lose and some times it rains. Think about that. RayAnn that's a beautiful name...)
It's a free day, and one we can all enjoy, right?
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 ...