published Monday, June 23rd, 2014

5-at-10: Tie that binds, Time to cut Uggla, Delany's double talk and Rushmores of child sports stars

Now that was fun. Thanks soccer folks for including us — much props to the Twitter chat Sunday — @jgreesontfp — and the feedback. Good stuff.

From the "Talks too much" studios, we believe.... well you know. (We believe in God the Father..., We can fly..., We believe children are the future..., We believe we can win..., We believe there are a lot of "We believes...")

A tie that binds

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    United States' Clint Dempsey, left, celebrates scoring his side's second goal during the group G World Cup soccer match between the USA and Portugal at the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, Brazil, Sunday, June 22, 2014.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The U.S. men's soccer team played exceedingly well Sunday before having a win ripped from their grasp by a Hail Mary-esque goal off a perfect pass from arguably the sport's biggest star.

In the end it was a 2-2 tie that felt like a loss but still leaves the U.S. in fine shape to advance from group play. The U.S. would have clinched a ticket into the next round if not for the latest goal — coming in the 95th minute and with mere seconds left — off a perfect cross from Cristiano Ronaldo. It was awesome to watch.

The hidden truth here is that the expectation for the U.S. team has catapulted, and that's a good thing. There was real disappointment — understandably so — and now not advancing would be a crushing blow for the U.S.

And with those growing expectations comes an undeniable acknowledgement of improvement: If before the tournament, almost everyone involved with the U.S. squad would have accepted a draw with Portugal right? Now it's viewed as a disappointment. That's a good thing in the growth of a program

Still, from the view of someone who only gets into soccer once every fours years, Sunday was high drama and greatly entertaining.

From Jermaine Jones' perfect goal that left the Portugal keeper dazed and confused — L-I-V-I-N, livin' — to Clint Dempsey continuing to be that guy who is always in the right spot at the right time, this was fun.

————

Court hijinks

In more and more ways, the sporting world is being judged by those in robes rather than those in attendance.

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    Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling, right, sits with his wife, Rochelle, during a Clippers NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons in Los Angeles in this 2010 file photo.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Court rooms have become as common place as court-side seats this summer, whether it's the Sterling fiasco or more serious matters like Aaron Hernadez being on trial for multiple murders.

Still, the one that could have full sweeping changes is in Oakland, where Ed O'Bannon's suit against the NCAA continues this week.

To close last week, Mark Emmert continued to be less-than-impressive and at times strained believability by saying college sports would not be as popular if the players were paid. Be for paying players or be against paying players — we're actually against it but understand the debate when Nick Saban and John Calipari are making roughly $7 million per season — but do not offer that paying players would make the games less popular.

That's like saying Beyonce wearing tennis would make her less attractive. It's apples and pineapples.

To make matters worse, Jim Delany, the Big Ten commissioner and one of the power brokers in all of college sports, continued to stretch the fiber of credibility when he took it another step or 30.

While trying to reinforce the stance that paying players was against the very core of college sports, Delany said he couldn't see league members agreeing to it, ergo, he said that schools that did agree to paying players would be removed from the Big Ten because of the imbalance between paying and not paying players.

He even took it a step further, telling the court, "There wouldn't be a Rose Bowl if either they or we were operating in a very different wavelength in terms of paying players," according to The Associated Press.

Jim. JIM! C'mon man. Are we supposed to believe the Big Ten would tell THE Ohio State or Michigan or Indiana hoops so long and good night if they started offering stipends or extra checks? Jim. JIM! The whole union affair happened in the Big Ten, remember. Dude, whose side are you on, because at times, you and Dooffleshirt Emmert seem like ace witnesses for the plantiff.

Egad.

————

Braves

Well it's been a while, and since we started drifting away from our daily Braves report, the Braves started drifting away from the top spot in the NL East.

After Sunday's 4-1 loss that completed a four-game split with first-place Washington, the Braves are 38-37 and 1.5 behind the Nationals. There are two teams in baseball that have winning records and are on the negative side of run differential — the Braves at minus-14 and the Yankess at minus-30.

  • photo
    Washington Nationals' Danny Espinosa (8) is safe at first against Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, left, during their baseball game on Sunday, June 22, 2014, in Washington.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

These are less than high times, considering the Braves started 17-7 and this bunch was built around a starting staff that was impressive in its depth but has started to leak oil.

With that in mind, let's review — and know that we know the season is long, but it's hard to find reason to believe with this bunch right now.

The good: Evan Gattis has been the best hitting catcher in the National League. He and Freddie Freeman and the non-stinky Upton form a nice, albeit streaky, middle of the lineup. Chris Johnson's average is starting to climb, too. Julio Teheran has ace stuff. Despite his struggles, we believe Craig Kimbrel is as good as there is in the game.

The bad: Despite improving numbers and decent looking pieces, the offense is one of the worst in baseball — next to last in runs scored in the majors — because it is plagued by high-volume strikeouts and a gross inability to deliver with two outs. The arm injuries that have ravaged this team for the last two years are starting to take a toll. Wow, would the last healthy arm turn off the whirlpool?

The Uggla: We had AJC Braves beat guy Dave O'Brien on Press Row a couple of weeks ago and he said Danny Struggla was a pro's pro in how he has handled the professional train wreck that has become his career. Man, this is becoming a Shakespearean tragedy. Uggla's last year in Florida he hit .287 with 33 homers and 105 RBIs. That was 2010. In three-plus years he's gone from the best hitting second baseman in the game to a punch line. His four years in Atlanta have gotten progressively worse — .233 in '11, .220 in '12, .179 last year and .163 as of this moment in '14 — to the point that the Braves are realistically taking a 24-man roster in almost every game. He has played in eight games in June and is 0-for-9. He is 3-for-48 since April 24. Ouch-standing. Time to cut bait and realize that the money spent is money wasted. Yes, it's a lot of money wasted, but if no other team is willing to part with a box of balls and case of sunflower seeds for Uggla — and that's with the Braves picking up a sizable part of that $13 million contract — then the team has to make a move. Now. This bunch is not good enough to have a void on the roster, and rightly or wrongly, Uggla has become non-existant.

————

This and that

— Incredible finish to the PGA event Sunday as Kevin Streelman birdied the final seven holes to come from way back in the pack to win the Travelers. Question: If seven straight birdies fall in the cup and no one is watching did it really happen? Rest easy golf fans, Tiger returns next week, and whether you like him or loathe him, we all know for sure now that golf needs Tiger way more than Tiger needs golf.

— How about you Vandy? The Commodors take the field tonight in the first of a best-of-three College World Series final against Virginia. War Smart Kids.

  • photo
    New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, left, makes a move against the defense of Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce during the first half in Game 4 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series in Boston, Sunday, April 28, 2013.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

— Carmelo Anthony opted out of his contract with the New York Knicks. We always thought NYC was the perfect for Carmelo — overpriced, stuffy, less-than-friendly, more sizzle than substance — but who knows. The dominos of the AAU, hey-let's-hook-up-and-make-a-super-team player machinations are just starting. In other news, while Chicago is visioned as the front-runner for Anthony, Bulls mending point guard Derrick Rose states he'd rather have Kevin Love than Carmelo. Alrighty then.

————

Today's question

We will offer dichotomic Rushmore today in honor of Michelle Wie winning the U.S. Open to garner her first major championship.

We have know of Wie, who was a Nike star before she could drive, since she was very young. With this win, she has delivered on the vast potential we first witnessed when she qualified for the Open at the tender age of 10 — 14 years ago.

So with that Wie officially arrived and moved from the Rushmore of child sports stars that never did to the Rushmore of child sports stars that delivered.

Who is on the Rushmore of child sports stars that flamed (Hi, Todd Marinovich) and those that made good on being a savant at a young age (Tiger Woods is far left)?

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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MocTastic said...

First, we must discuss the Portugal goal scorer yesterday. After making the first goal he proceeded to jump into the arms of his teammate, hug him like a baby does, and he was sucking his thumb just like a baby.

I guess that says it all. These are not men. A man would not do that.

http://pixel.nymag.com/imgs/daily/intelligencer/2014/06/22/22-thumb-sucking.w560.h375.2x.gif

And speaking of young athletes, what has become of that young American we were told by the press would be the next Pele'? That would be Freddy Adu. I don't seem to see him on our national team.

June 23, 2014 at 10:04 a.m.
jomo11 said...

Jay- on the Jim Delany thing, makes you wonder if the so-called Big 5 ALL agree with the SEC ? What if 3 or 4 of the Big 5 conferences say "to heck with the SEC and D-IV" that could leave the SEC on an island. What would the SEC do then break off from NCAA, and their seasons would end after their own championship games ? Im not so sure, or is anyone that the Big 5 conferences would ALL just go lock step with the SEC . . . and anyone who thinks they can predict what the BIG 10 or the other Big 5 would do is just guessing . .particularly with the hatred and jealousy that the SEC has outside of the South

June 23, 2014 at 10:12 a.m.
jgreeson said...

MT —

Freddy Adu is a great call.

Jomo —

Concur on the guessing part, but we'd guess the Big 12 and the Pac 12 would agree with the SEC, and the Big Ten would be the outlier. Too much money at stake for the OSU T-Boones and the Oregon Nikes, etc.

But we believe Delany is full of it — if the SEC starts paying players, do you really think THE Alumni of THE Ohio State University are going to allow downplaying the Buckeyes? And then Michigan and Nebraska follow suit, and then if the Big Ten wants to have a football league with Northwestern, Illinois and Minneosta, well, go have some fun Mr. Delany.

The odds of that happening are the same of us watching non-World Cup soccer: Bagel.

June 23, 2014 at 10:50 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Jay, reminder.

You forgot to answer my question on Friday. Thank you.

June 23, 2014 at 10:58 a.m.
jomo11 said...

Jay- were you a little surprised that Butchy would sign someone like the once-arrested and kicked-off Alvin Kamara ? What message does that send to this building brick-by-brick ? Hard to build brick buildings on sand. In case fans dont know about Kamara this is what UTK just got

http://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/news/2014/feb/14/former-norcross-star-alabama-signee-alvin-kamara/

June 23, 2014 at 10:59 a.m.
MocTastic said...

Jomo11, Butch in Knoxville is speeding up the rebuilding of the days of Fulmer. Rather than signing kids who then get arrested after signing, he is just signing kids who have already been arrested. Not only was he arrested, but quoting the CTFP "Though he redshirted, Kamara continued to make news by missing practices the week of the LSU game for what coach Nick Saban described as "behavioral issues." Kamara also was suspended for Alabama's Sugar Bowl matchup with Oklahoma." Faster rebuild that way to back to the glory days when UTK was a Phil Fulmer Cup top 5 year in and year out team.

June 23, 2014 at 11:04 a.m.
fechancellor said...

Tennessee, no rules, just right? Saban never seems to have problems in the procurement of running backs, so he cut bait instead of waiting for the "potential" to catch up to the person.

If the last few years is any guide, Tennessee cannot function without a running back. This admission by Butch that he hasn't one, and will use to police blotter to obtain one, ought to go down hard with those backs on the roster.

Could Knoxville see more headlines like three players terrorize the Pilot, the old 3 dogs for 99 cents, the 2:00 AM fraternity gathering place, or just three basketball players cruising about with three pistols on the floor board.

June 23, 2014 at 11:54 a.m.
MocTastic said...

FEC.. No rules, just right? No, that would be the Outback Bowl. It was you can't spell Citrus without a U and a T Bowl.

June 23, 2014 at 12:37 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

You want bad offense? Check out the defending World Series champs. Fifteen runs in eight games. Jim Rice is rolling over in his grave, and he's not even dead.

Child sports stars ... well, you could go all gymnastics (Nadia Comeneci) or figure skating (Tara Lipinski) or even tennis (Andrea Jaeger). But I'll submit one Damon Bailey for consideration.

And does anyone know how much "extra" time there is? No, unless you are the ref, with FIFA in your headset telling you to give Ronaldo a few extra seconds to try to make a play and oh look at the pass he made for a goal to tie the game and aw wouldn't you know it, there's no time left to do anything else. That plus there is more flopping than Nicolas Cage's filmography and everybody goes down like they've been shot with a sniper rifle. And do we have to have French Army corpsmen come out with a stretcher like it's the battle of Verdun for every little owie that stops play? In the U.S. you get a stretcher if you've broken your neck. Otherwise, walk it off, Francis.

June 23, 2014 at 1:16 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

Great call on the stretcher.

Sweet buckets of sprained toe nail, they brought the stretcher out after one flop and dude was back in moments later.

All-time Flops — Battlefield Earth, World Cup soccer dude, Ishtar, another World Cup soccer dude (with all apologies to Vlade Divac)

June 23, 2014 at 1:32 p.m.
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