published Thursday, May 15th, 2014

5-at-10: NBA playoffs, APR updates, Braves fall and Dan Uggla

Gang, remember the mailbag, and thanks for the feedback and support — here and on Press Row. It's much-appreciated.

From the "Talks too much" studios, hey Eazy, why you wear your pants so baggy? For easy access baby.

  • photo
    Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) checks the scoreboard in a game against the Brooklyn Nets in this May 10, 2014, file photo in New York.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

NBA playoffs

LeBron James and the Heat bounced the Nets and a couple of his long-time nemeses. James went for 29. The dagger was delivered by Ray Allen, who hit a corner 3 in the final minute to give the Heat the lead for good. More on this in a moment.

The Spurs thumped Portland to also advance to the conference finals. Each team now waits for its dancing partner to see which teams get to the NBA Finals.

The Pacers will look to join the Heat in the East tonight. Indiana has a 3-2 lead and plays at Washington. Same scenario in the West, where OKC takes a 3-2 lead to L.A. to play the Clippers. Good times.

As for the Heat, where does Ray Allen rank among the greats of the game? Is he a top-50 player all-time? A 17-year veteran and 10-time all-star who is in the top 30 in scoring and has titles with different teams. He will also be the subject of today's Rushmore.

———

APR updates

The NCAA released the APR scores of its college sports teams on Wednesday.

Of course, the first question is — What is the APR? Glad you asked. The Academic Progress Report is a score on a 1-to-1,000 scale that charts two things primarily, the eligibility of each scholarship athlete and the progress toward graduation for each. If a team scores less than 930, it faces NCAA penalties. The most important score is the one that is a program's four-year average.

Here are the four-year averages of SEC football teams:

• South Carolina 980

• Missouri 980

• Alabama 975

• Vanderbilt 974

• Mississippi State 974

• Texas A&M 971

• Florida 969

• Georgia 967

• Auburn 965

• Ole Miss 946

• LSU 946

• Kentucky 937

• Arkansas 935

• Tennessee 932 (to be fair, Butch Jones and Co. posted a 962 over the last graded cycle to lift this score)

Also of note, as all-around TFP ace Stephen Hargis notes here , the UTC athletic department continues to have a banner year. Each sport easily surpassed the bench mark — soccer was the lowest at UTC and that was still a 962 — and a special tip of smarty cap to men's golf and men's cross country for posting four-year scores of a perfect 1,000. Well-played.

On the other end of the spectrum, Oklahoma State's score of 929.41 meant the Cowboys will have to give up a day of practice each week this season. Ouch-standing. They should be OK — they're men, even in less than a 40-hour week.

———

  • photo
    San Francisco Giants left fielder Michael Morse, right, is congratulated today by third base coach Tim Flannery (1) after hitting a solo home run off of Atlanta Braves pitcher Alex Wood during their baseball game in San Francisco.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Braves fall

The Braves lost at San Francisco. That's hardly surprising considering the Braves are Custer to the Giants.

We could do a Good, Bad and Uggla, but there was not a lot of good, plenty of bad — including the continued super struggles of Stinky Upton — and relatively no Uggla. Again.

Dan Uggla pinch-hit in the 10-4 loss Wednesday afternoon, flying out on the only pitch he saw. He is at .183 on the season and is 1-for-15 in May and 3-for-his-last-34.

We asked yesterday for thoughts on how to handle this matter — and this was after weekend reports that Fredi (with an 'i') Gonzalez was completely bungling this ordeal.

Fredi admitted to the AJC that Uggla's role had changed but said he had not discussed that with the player. Bad form. In fact, that form is every bit as bad as Uggla's swing.

But when your third-highest paid player has four official at-bats in the last week — and he's not on the DL — things have to be addressed, whether Fredi with an 'i' wants to or not.

In fact, this has now moved beyond Frdi's desk. It's time for Frank Wren to get involved and find Danny Struggla a new home. If that happens via trade great. If that happens via waivers, great. If that happens via "Two guys and a truck" so be it.

  • photo
    Atlanta Braves second baseman Dan Uggla, left, throws to first on a ground-out by a Future Stars batter, as shortstop Andrelton Simmons watches Saturday during their exhibition baseball game in Pearl, Miss. The Braves won 10-0.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

It's time for Dan to go.

Every player goes through struggles. Ups and downs, downs and ups. Heck, as Crash said, the difference between hitting .250 and .300 is one extra hit a week. A more ground ball with eyes and you're in Yankee Stadium.

But when the struggles become the expectation — and worse, the norm — and when those expectations of failure permeate any organization, well, that must be changed. And to extend this relationship runs the risk of poisoning the entire clubhouse.

Uggla may be a great guy in the locker room, but questions about his place and the differences in interactions become commonplace. When those things happen, then they become distractions, and hitting a baseball is tough enough that any controllable distraction must be eliminated.

We know Uggla can't hit water from the shore, but if his presence is going to start affecting the others in the lineup, well, it's time for Frank Wren to cross his cross his t's and dot his i's.

(Yep, we meant to do that.)

———

This and that

— Casey Kasem has been found in Washington. Wonder if he had his feet on the ground and was reaching for the stars?

— The New York Post is reporting that everyone's favorite curmudgeon Donald Sterling has another round of audio tapes out there. Here's the story http://nypost.com/2014/05/14/sterling-stiviano-was-an-animal-in-bed/.

— Sweet buckets, there was a high school kid who threw 194 pitches in 14 innings. That coach should be fired. Today. Yes, we believe there is too much babying of arms at times and that has hurt arms too. But 194 in one start?

————

Today's question

Feel free to riff on any of the above including the Uggla dilemma and more.

Here are our Ray Allen questions:

  • Who is on your Rushmore of clutch shooters? We believe Allen has found a spot.

  • Is Ray Allen a Hall of Famer?

Go.

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...

Michael Sams had said he wanted to known as a football player only..then the kiss...now he has an Oprah Winfrey reality show planned. Earth to Michael Sams, you were a 7th round pick, many 7th rounders never make the NFL. You should devote every minute to making the team and not have a reality show following you around. Teams don't like these things, it is a distraction. The same goes for AJ McCarron, the concept of having a reality show highlighting you trying to make the NFL is a distraction. Both of these guys are idiots if football is really their goal.

With respect to Uggla, his contract is what as known as a "sunk investment", the money has to be paid, now the question is can getting somebody else help them win more games. But to walk away from a sunk investment that failed can cause GMs their job as they are admitting they made a mistake. Egos don't like to admit they made mistakes.

May 15, 2014 at 10:07 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

Shouldn't any Rushmore of clutch shooters start and end with one Bird, Larry Joe, of French Lick, Ind.? Joe Dumars was pretty clutch in the day.

Fredi is the anti-Bobby Cox. For all he got beat up on about, Bobby was upfront with his guys and wasn't afraid to pull them into his office for a chat. Fredi's procrastination only exacerbates the situation. How much longer before Uggla starts to howl? I mean, if you can't knock Tyler Pastornicky or Ramiro Pena out of the lineup, shouldn't you knock on Wren's door or pull the Patty Roy and lean to the GM sitting next to the bench after you get yanked and go "I'm through here"?

But Uggla may well be untradeable. Big contract. Declining skills. Already on the downslope of 30. The Braves, if they decide to deal him, may have to take what they can get, and it may be the Greg Olson the catcher deal in reverse.

May 15, 2014 at 11:04 a.m.
jomo11 said...

Considering all the money the SEC ( the greatest conference of all-time, that ever lived and existed and ever will be ) Has all this money for academic support, tutors for individual athletes, multi-million dollar facilities where athletes have access to computers, study areas, etc WHY should their APR scores not be 1,000 ? Here you have schools like UTC with very high APR scores and academic support budgets not even 1/10 of what an SEC school has ? and yet, SEC schools are bragging ? ? ? they should be embarrassed . . . .and athletes time-constraints are absolutely no different at SEC schools as they are at SoCon or even D-2 schools, none

May 15, 2014 at 11:29 a.m.
MocTastic said...

I read an account of a college athlete the other year, he had transferred from a BCS level school to a FCS level school. He asked for the name of "HIS" tutor. Apparently at the school where he was every athlete who requested one was given a full time tutor assigned just to them. He was informed that his new school had four or five tutors total for the whole athletic department. JoMo11 is correct.

May 15, 2014 at 11:44 a.m.
jomo11 said...

In fact i know of an SEC school WALK-ON swimmer who has a tutor assigned to him alone ! Can you imagine how many a star running back gets ? No excuse for SEC schools to not have 100% graduation and 1,000 APR

May 15, 2014 at 11:51 a.m.
Stewwie said...

MT, agreed on Sam and McCarron.

At first glance, I think Ray Allen deserves the HOF. Top 50 player? Tougher than it looks. I'd have to look at the others on the list to be sure. Allen has been a great player, but he didn't win his titles until he became the 3rd best player on his teams.

Rushmore of clutch shooters:

Allen, Bird, Reggie, Horry

May 15, 2014 at 12:11 p.m.
fechancellor said...

MocTastic, Full Marks!

But watch out! Fox is reporting Sam's life partner is none other than Vito Cammisano, grand son of noted mobster "Willie the Rat" Cammisano of KC.

So Sam is selling out his own football tryout to OWN? I suspect this to be more centered around the home life of the pair instead of anything that might make NFL Films. If Sam doesn't make it, what's left for our intrepid pair??? Flipping Houses or dedicated hour to sell wares on HSN, or gut it out on a crab boat?

This ain't about the football, probably never was.

May 15, 2014 at 1:38 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Stewwie —

Excellent list. Ours swaps Jordan for Horry.

Top 50 is tough. Yes Ray_Ray is mid-20s in scoring, but dude has never sniffed an MVP and made a All-NBA second team.

Jomo —

See your point about resources.

There's also the question of motivation, no matter how well-heeled an athletics department may be.

Da'Rick Rogers believed he was going to be in the NFL so his seriousness about school — rightly or wrongly — could very well have been lacking. And the big conference schools have the resources — extra scholarships and such — to take some chances on kids academically. Ask Russ, he has frequently said to us that there is no wiggle room because of the limited scholarship numbers.

Quite often a lot of big-time players feel college is a way to the NFL rather than a way to an education, and no matter how many tutors are lined up, that way of thinking can doom some student athletes. Smaller-school guys who know that the NFL may be a longshot know that football is a way to a degree (how it should be for all).

MT —

But at what point does not admitting the mistake — and hurting the team in the now — become bigger than the original mistake?

Spy —

Dumars, nice call. DJ, too.

May 15, 2014 at 1:43 p.m.
jomo11 said...

Jay- whimp Sanderson was once asked how many of his players graduate his answer was " As many who want to " . . . .remember the APR factors in kids who go play professionally, that does not hurt your APR if that NFL hopeful doesnt graduate, as long as he is eligible when he leaves. I just think it is an Institutional Failure at SEC schools to allow kids to play who in their last semester are failing miserably considering all the resources and support they have. And surely these SEC and BCS schools have to be embarassed when they send kids to NFL or NBA who cant read i.e. the Bruce Smith's of the world. . . . .but I guess the win at all costs must trump everything else , , , a sad result of the billions spent on these academic support taj mahal's at BSC schools, what a waste of money with these types of results. . . .i just dont buy that the SEC schools should get a pass because their athletes are un-motivated since they MIGHT go to the NFL or NBA, yet they still feel like they are getting taken advantage of without their "cost of attendence". . . .

May 15, 2014 at 1:53 p.m.
MocTastic said...

JG, I agree with you, thus my "sunk investment" comment. The money has been spent, no point in continuing the failure. Find a solution and move forward.

May 15, 2014 at 1:53 p.m.
jomo11 said...

A good question for Friday - is there a risk in sports of there being an economic bubble ? Can you continue to pay $1.5 billion for a franchise and hope to sell it years later for $3 billion ? Can pro sports continue to build stadiums at rising costs and make it cost effective ? Can SEC schools continue to build facilities and pay coaches millions based on future TV revenues that they are projecting to keep going up and up ( could a point of diminishing return kick-in ) As much as pay-per-view and Conference networks seem like the holy grail, however we dont know if future technolgy could help or ultimately hurt this ? 10 years ago the markets were saying cable companies are dead and satellite is the future and now its not. .. Could College football hit a bubble like NASCAR did ? What if college presidents, who have more power than ever just say STOP with the arms race ? Dont think it cant happen . . . . .Remember sports IS A BUSINESS now, and if history has shown us anything in business, is that no business is immune from a bubble or even a collapse

May 15, 2014 at 2:18 p.m.
MocTastic said...

I think if college football at the highest level effectively becomes minor league NFL it will hurt ratings and the attendance. Will people keep filling the 90,000 seat stadiums to see players who are being paid and most of them not even bothering to go to school? The football players at Northwestern have started the game down a path that might best be untrodden. Remember the old adage, be careful what you wish for, for you just might get it.

May 15, 2014 at 2:36 p.m.
Stewwie said...

Jay, I didn't include Jordan because I see MJ as more of a clutch scorer than a clutch shooter. Is it fair to split hairs in that way? Either way, I just remembered Mr. Clutch, Jerry West. Seems like he ought to be on this Rushmore somewhere too.

May 15, 2014 at 2:49 p.m.
Stewwie said...

MT,

Unfortunately, I'd say the average football fan cares less about Johnny 5-Star's achievement in school, and cares most that he is signed up to be able to put on the jersey of his favorite college team. So if schools like Bama, TN, etc. are able to break away from the NCAA and start paying players (in addition to their full scholarships to attend school), I don't think it'd hurt attendance or ratings at all. The traditions/brands of the schools would still be a popular part of the draw for the sport. And what's sad is that there would be less accountability or motivation for athletes to succeed in school, unless the NFL mandated an APR-like standard for its effective minor league teams. Don't see that happening though.

May 15, 2014 at 3:03 p.m.
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