published Thursday, April 24th, 2014

5-at-10: The Braves, latest NBA playoffs and the Cubs

We have some spots open in Friday's mailbag, so act now. Remember the first million are free.

From the "Talks too much" studios, we're two weeks from the draft. We love the draft. You know this.

  • photo
    Atlanta Braves' Evan Gattis doubles to score teammates Ramiro Pena and Dan Uggla in the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Wednesday, April 23, 2014, in Atlanta. The Braves won 3-1.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The Braves

Atlanta beat Miami 3-1. The Braves are off today and lead the NL East by 2.5 games.

The good: How good has Aaron Harang been? Well, he gave up one run in six innings and his ERA went up to 0.85. Also, Evan Gattis' two-run, pinch-hit double in the eighth proved to be the game-winner. Gattis is 7-for-13 with two doubles, four homers and 13 RBIs as a pinch-hitter. Wow. That's crazy good.

The bad: You know what it is. The Braves offense has been tepid at best, and with Freddie Freeman in a slump — he's 1-for-his-last-17 and was bagel-for-12 against Miami — this team struggles to get base runners consistently, never mind scoring runs.

The Uggla: Dan Uggla went 1-for-3, legging out an infield single that continued the game-winning rally in the eighth. He's hitting .227 this season, well clear of the .210 Struggla line we set before the season.

———

NBA playoffs

LaMarcus Aldridge is legit.

LeBron is LeBron.

Side note: Do you think the 5-at-10 needs an extra Le syllable? like we could be La5-at-10 for the rest of the week? Thoughts?

Where were we, oh yeah — let's cover three points from last night's action.

1) Aldridge torched the Rockets, giving the Blazers a 2-0 series lead — winning both in Houston mind you — by going for 43. Are we to a point that two of the four best players in the NBA are from the University of Texas?

2) The Spurs stumbled against the Mavs last night. We still believe in the Spurs, but that was decidedly one-sided and somewhat puzzling as San Antonio has surrendered home-court to Dallas. This could be one to keep an eye on.

3) LeBron was aces last night. He scored 32 on just 17 shots and had eight assists and six boards in a tight 101-97 win over the feisty Bobcats, who are a player or two away from being fun to watch. (Side note: Kemba Walker is nice, MKG is improving and Al Jefferson is a man. Charlotte's roster — not unlike Washington's — has some nice young pieces.) LeBron closed the game out with a couple of free throws. Good times.

———

  • photo
    Chicago Cubs right fielder Justin Ruggiano reacts after sustaining an injury in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field in Chicago on Wednesday, April 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Cubs being Cubs

We mentioned Wrigley as a bucket-list destination. The Cubs, however, keep kicking the bucket.

Among the many famous Chicago athletes invited to celebrate the 100th birthday of iconic Wrigley Field were former Bears football players and even Ryan Dempster and his Boston Red Sox World Series ring.

No where to be seen was Sammy Sosa, who was the face of the franchise for a decade, holds the record for the most home runs in franchise history with 545 and joined Mark McGwire in the PED-induced homer barrage that helped lift baseball beyond the strike of 1994.

No Sammy Sosa. Really? Feel how you want about steroids, but to pretend it did not happen — especially for a Cubs organization that has a historical legacy of being terrible — is stupid and wrong. Especially since baseball and the teams benefited from the PED-induced homer explosion that resulted.

For baseball now to wash their collective hands of this and treat the PED stars like Sosa and Bonds and the rest like they are the ex we have cut out of the photos, well that's juvenile. And wrong. Sammy should have been there. Heck, a few years ago the Reds got special permission to invite Pete Rose back for a celebration. We can hug the guy that put the competitive fabric of the entire sport on the line but the guys that used PEDs are lepers? Really?

Baseball turned a blind eye to steroids back then and benefited from it. It was wrong and the higher ups in the sport let it happen.

Now baseball is hoping if they turn a blind eye to the steroid era it will go away. And that's just as wrong.

———

This and that

— Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda got tossed for having pine tar on his neck. Pine tar on the neck? What happened, Jeter didn't let Pineda sample the Sex Panther? It's made with bits of real panther you know. And 60 percent of the time it works every time.

— The NFL schedule was released. Yes, we are in a place that the NFL listing its dance card is a prime-time event. Goodell may be a lot of things, but he is leading the pop culture roller coaster du jour. Hmmmmm, that sounds good — we believe we'll have that.

———

Today's question

We meant to bring this up earlier in the week but forgot.

In an interview this week, new Texas football coach Charlie Strong said his team was not going to be in the national title game this year.

Hmmmmmmm. We appreciate the honesty Charlie, and we agree with you. But if we're a burnt orange fan, we're slap puzzled why our coach does not believe our team can't play for the title.

We're like four months removed from Auburn being 13 seconds from the BCS title a year after going 3-9.

It's a danged if you do, danged if you don't proposition for sure, but what are your thoughts on Strong's statement?

Discuss — and remember the mailbag.

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.
MocTastic said...

If the consensus is that Texas doesn't have what it takes to make the title game, then give Strong credit for being honest rather than blowing Longhorn smoke.

Don't forget that there is nothing wrong with taking the pressure off a team then letting them perform. If Strong had come out predicting a national title he would be putting pressure on his team and a target on their backs.

Braves pitching, who woulda thunk it? With Minor coming back to the roster it looks like David Hale will be demoted with a sub 3.00 ERA. There are some teams who don't have a single starter with an ERA as low as his. And remember, they signed middle of the rotation Gavin Floyd in the off season and he is about ready to return. What do they do, put him on the trading block immediately?

If the Braves pitching just stays close to this pace and the hitting picks up, they could run away and hide this summer. But as we are always reminded, it is a long way to October.

April 24, 2014 at 10:11 a.m.
jomo11 said...

Watched the Braves game and the Braves announcer actually said " Dan Uggla's foul balls look better than last year " . . His FOUL BALLS ? Seriously ? why dont they cut this clown Uggla and eat the $14 million. Pena can play !

April 24, 2014 at 10:17 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

First things first,

WLS - When I say nothing is going on, I'm talking about me personally and what I'm following. Not the sports world in general. This week I'm doing extra hours due to more work and human resources needed to help with the demand. So by the time I get home (6:30), be done with dinner (8:30 to 9:00), I'm usually working on stuff that is front burner. Last night I was setting up by Google Docs account for a freelance writing position while listening to Tokyo Tower on wawl.org. Also, I have a web TV show audition this weekend. So this week, I can only peek at the 5 & 10 and I'm unable to follow the Rangers (when compared to last week against Seattle). So when I say stuff like that, I'm talking about what I can follow at the moment (I didn't even get to read your comment until 9:30 last night).

Anyway, I don't see anything for today other then the two cents on Sammy Sosa (agree with the writing). If something breaking like Will Wade signs all the players who opt out after the Conz left, I'll be happy to contribute. Later

April 24, 2014 at 10:28 a.m.
chas9 said...

The part of the 5@10 where Jay asked me to "follow along" was where I had trouble following along.

So The Donn is the guy who followed THE GUY (Pearl). And if the situation is similar to where Butch Jones is now, and Butch followed the guy who followed THE GUY, that would make Stinkin' Kiffin THE GUY. Can that be right?

And you don't want to be the guy who follows the elephants in the parade.

Jeff Borzello has a rundown today on the best remaining uncommitted 2014 and juco players. You BO fans might want to look and dream. But forget Myles Turner.

April 24, 2014 at 11:14 a.m.
jgreeson said...

MT —

It is a long way to October and the pitching has been flithy. We'd be tempted to put Harang on the block first — his value will never be higher, considering he's 113-117 in his career with a 4.22 ERA even with a light's out April.

And this just in — the Braves need some bats.

As for the not-so-Strong quotes, agree that honesty is underrated in the sports interview, but there's honesty and then there's too honest some times. Yes, that's a hazy line, but guys with eight-figure contracts are expected to navigate it.

And yes, there's value in lowering expectations. But there's also value in believing in your guys. The story goes that from the week he was hired, Malzahn was telling Auburn every day last year that they would play for the BCS title, and he believed it to the point that the kids started to believe to.

That can be infectious, you know?

Jomo —

Missed that interview, but comparing Uggla's balls — foul or fair — seems unseemly to us.

And when a guy is in a two-plus-year funk like this, the hometown crew has to find something positive.

JMC —

Good luck on the audition, and thanks for the DMN stuff — it's always appreciated.

And swing by when you can — you're always welcomed.

April 24, 2014 at 11:21 a.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Yes, for a lot of Johnny Vols Fans, Kiffin was the guy. Heck it was hailed as a home run hire by everyone — including the 5-at-10. It blew up because he bolted and left a mess, but there was so much hype and promise and belief, that while it sounds crazy, Kiffin was the guy.

And while Kiffin did not have time to deliver on being the guy, he certainly created interest and excite — like Pearl — and had the thing trending up — like Pearl — and then it blew up — like Pearl.

And then Dooley happened, and we know for sure he was not the guy. No where close to the guy in fact.

And no one wants to be the guy behind the elephants. Or behind Rusty after Kramer feeds him a can of Beff-a-rino.

RUSTY!

April 24, 2014 at 11:27 a.m.
chas9 said...

Apparently Snoop Lion is back to Snoop Dogg and The Artist Formerly Known as Prince is back to just Prince. But shouldn't we now refer to Kiffin as The Stinker Formerly Known as THE GUY?

April 24, 2014 at 12:08 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

::To add to chase's comment:: And Russ Huesman is now the guy in the community formally known as "Rodney" (No respect, no respect, I tell ya)

How I back this up?: Orange and White game: 70,000 people. Alabama Crimson and White game 70,000. How many at the Blue and Gold game? ::crickets chirping SFX::

Jay - (Regarding the now extremely dated DMNs) Your welcome as always.

April 24, 2014 at 12:44 p.m.
Stewwie said...

I'm fine with Strong not wanting to set expectations too high in Year 1, but he shouldn't have said what he did. Maybe he should instead have said they their goal is to win the Big 12. But if they can do that (not an impossibility), then he could possibly get into the Final Four as the conference champ. Win the semifinal game and he's in the title game. It may take some lucky bounces along the way (Hi, Auburn), but he shouldn't have admitted defeat now and say that they definitely won't be the big game this season.

Aldridge as a top 4 player in the league? Just curious, who is your other guy in that bunch besides Durant and LeBron? I would put Aldridge in the top 15 for sure, and a good case can be made for top 10. But not top 4 right now.

Le5-at-10 sounds great. Side question: Your son's real name is LeeBron, right? Lee for short?

April 24, 2014 at 1:59 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Stewwie —

That is exceedingly well played. LeeBron. LeeBron, loves his money. He makes a lot they say.

Sorry. Sidetracked.

Do not think Aldridge is a top 4 player. Think he is playing as a top 4 player.

We'll rank our NBA top 10 tomorrow. Deal? Deal.

Chas9 —

Yes. Yes we can.

April 24, 2014 at 3:53 p.m.
fechancellor said...

NFL Schedule??? When's the Draft??? Did I miss it?

April 24, 2014 at 10:13 p.m.
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