published Thursday, May 29th, 2014

5-at-10: Pacers respond, early signees, Tigerless and Happy Dale Jr. day

Gang, remember the mailbag — we have some spots open.

We're going to be in and out today preparing for company — we and about 2,000 of our closest fans of high school sports are convening at the Convention Center tonight. As Ed tells H.I. in Raising Arizona, "We got some decent people coming over."

From the "Talks too much," happy Dale Jr. day.

Pacers stay alive

Paul George went nuts — scoring 21 of his game-high 37 points in the fourth quarter — and the Indiana Pacers prevailed 93-90 in a must-win Game 5 Thursday.

And that's about it. Well other than....

LeBron James played the worst game of his career and Lance Stephenson blew in his ear on national TV. Read that again.

James was saddled with foul problems — which could be a completely different discussion — and finished with just seven points. Seven. Dude never got going early, going 1-of-5 from the floor before heading to the bench with foul No. 3 midway through quarter No. 2. He picked up fouls four and five early in the third quarter.

Still, the Pacers needed a career night from George to keep a James-less Heat at bay. Miami's reserves — was that a Rashard Lewis sighting? — and Dwyane Wade battled, but fell short.

The question now is how will James respond after the pesky gnat that is Stephenson again challenged him with the subtle flirting gesture that was a) a calling card for Arthur Fonzarelli and b) a major talking point in postgame interviews.

So it goes. And we'll see how the King responds, because Game 6 becomes big for the Heatles. Game 7, remember, is back in Indiana.

Giddy-up.

———

Tiger out

We'll get another litmus test on the value of Tiger Woods to the PGA Tour and golf in general.

Woods will miss the U.S. Open, unable to return from the back surgery that has now sidelined him for three months.

Without Woods — and the struggling Phil Mickelson, who missed the cut — the Masters had its lowest weekend ratings since before Tiger turned pro. Not good, and that was the Masters, the tournament and tradition unlike any other.

Now the U.S. Open returns to Pinehurst No. 2, a challenging course with turtle-backed greens that has gone under a $2.5 million renovation in the last three years that could give birth to a no-name champion — hello Michael Campbell, who won there in 2005.

A star-less leaderboard and a course that will require players to grind out pars and play safe.

Philly Mick to the white courtesy phone please, Mr. Mick to the white courtesy phone.

———

Early signing possibilities

As TFP SEC ace David Paschall tells us here, the SEC is reluctant to an early signing period, but if the issue is forced, they would prefer the early signing day be the Monday after Thanksgiving rather than in the summer.

Now is it fair to question the fact whether the SEC is going to get 'forced' into anything in the world of college football? Of course it is. Still, the thought of this is intriguing, and we have long held the belief that an early signing period would be a very good thing for the high school players, especially those that get tired of the process.

We think the early day should be even earlier than in late November — right in the middle of the season seems strange — and could even see a situation where they could have one in May before a kid's senior year. Kids are committing that early and if they are ready, let them pull the trigger.

Another idea is letting the really committed players sign on national signing day — the first Wednesday of February — of their junior year. Again, kids are committing that early already and that would have little alteration to the current recruiting calender.

Thoughts? Early signing period, friend or foe?

———

This and that

— Also among our craziness today is a scheduled interview with Titans first-round pick Taylor Lewan for Press Row, which should air early in the 5 p.m. part of the show. Listen in locally on 105.1 FM and online here at timesfreepress.com.

  • photo
    Boston Red Sox starting pitcher John Lackey delivers to the Atlanta Braves in their baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston on May 28, 2014.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

— The Braves called up second base prospect Tommy La Stella. As Spy noted on the radio show yesterday, here's hoping The Struggla becomes a rallying cry of La Stella. The kid collected two hits in his debut — Viva La Stella — and leads the majors with a .500 average (if he was eligible) and is on pace to be the all-time leader in average, on-base percentage and possibly hits. But the Braves lost as they made John Lackey look like John Smoltz. Viva La Stella.

— Man, this Sterling roller coaster is hard to follow. The Donald says he'll fight to the end. The Mrs. is setting deadlines for bids. All the while the dial is rolling on the lawyers' time clock. Somebody's going to get paid.

— Brad Pitt got attacked on the red carpet of the premier of wife Angelina Jolie's movie 'Maleficent.' That stinks. Side note: Pitt has putt together a pretty eclectic and not-too-shabby catalog of feature flicks. From Inglorious to Fight Club to Se7en to even the first Ocean's Eleven movie, to his early stuff of a River Runs Through It (vastly underrated) and Legends of the Fall. Pretty solid.

— Johnny Football says his Vegas trip is not a story and how he spends his down time is his BID-ness. He's right, and he's wrong. He's Johnny Football because he does things like this and we talk about it. He gets paid and makes endorsement money — he has like a dozen copyrights on his various nicknames and such — on these type of things. So it's a story until it's not a story, and when it's not a story, well, Johnny Football will be a greeter in Vegas rather than a guest.

— The man the myth the legend, Dr. James Andrews and some cohort had released a position paper about Tommy John surgeries. You can read it here. Interesting stuff. Some of it is expected and common knowledge; some of it is a little surprising, like this statement: "Biomechanical research and epidemiologic research have not shown a strong connection between curveball and elbow injuries. Too much competitive pitching and pitching while fatigued are the biggest risk factors."

———

Today's question

We may have asked this before, but we'll trot it out today in honor of Dale Earnhardt Jr. coming to town.

What's the all-time sporting father-son combos?

The Dales are on there for sure.

Who else you got?

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...

Bobby/Barry Bonds in baseball is hot, Pete/Pete Rose Jr is not. In racing, the Andrettis. Ken and Ken Griffey Jr in baseball. Archie and Peyton/Eli Manning in football. Here is one I bet you didn't think of Dick and Pete Weber in bowling, both Hall of Fame members.

JoMo11, what do you have today? .....bring and bring it hard!....

May 29, 2014 at 10:06 a.m.
Stewwie said...

LeBron's 2nd foul when Hill was driving to the basket was a bad call. I saw no problem with the other 4 fouls called on him though. The bottom line is that he simply played a bad game. And his foul trouble kept him out of the action for a while. All that said, the Heat had a chance at the end when Bosh had a good look at a game-winning 3. It rimmed out, and now we're on to Game 6.

Stephenson is a bit of an odd character. But him blowing in LeBron's ear was hilarious. Anything to try to get an edge apparently.

As to your point yesterday about American tennis...well, we're usually not that great on clay anyway. But the Williams sisters leaving this early is a surprise, but then again, they are in their 30s now so they've got to slow down at some point. On the men's side, we're guaranteed to have 3 Americans in the 3rd round, Isner (our current best), Donald Young (a D-Wade lookalike), and either Jack Sock or Steve Johnson (2 lesser-known names who are playing each other in the 2nd round today). It's sad to say, but I'd be happy if we could just get a guy into the 2nd week at the French.

Jay, which comment is crazier: Mark Jackson saying Dwayne Wade is the 3rd best shooting guard of all time or Van Gundy saying Bosh is a future hall of famer? Who is on your Rushmore of all-time shooting guards? Who are the future hall-of-famers on these 4 remaining teams in the playoffs?

May 29, 2014 at 10:33 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Stewwie —

That's mailbag-worthy and we'll address it then when we're not going 200 mph in Dale Jr. prep mode.

As for LeBron's fouls, hey don't put yourself in position to let the ref dictate the moment, but we will say this:

We agree that No. 2 was a bad call. We think No. 3 was a bad call, too — that should have been a block on George and at the very least a no call. And we think No. 5 was a classic no call since LeBron and Stephenson actually each fouled each other and no one had possession of the ball.

So it goes.

One more thing about that — does LeBron get less respect from the refs than any all-timer ever? And that's likely a pretty good thing because the "breath on Jordan and it's two FTs" time in the 1990s was bupkis. Not saying, just saying...

MT —

Love the list and the Webers were a great addition. Add in cousin Chris and what they did the grill industry, and they are fine Americans all around.

May 29, 2014 at 10:58 a.m.
jomo11 said...

On early signing, from an FCS standpoint it would be great, football of all sports due to the physical nature and kids bloom late and grow late, would help FCS schools as FBS scholarship numbers would get taken early and not leave room for late bloomers. As the population continues to grow in the south and Texas areas, and more kids are playing football, etc. as long as FBS remains at 85 scholarships the talent level is growing at the FCS level, proven by the largest number of FCS kids drafted and free agent signees this year. So from that standpoint, early signing - go for it, the earlier the better

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

On No. 3, LeBron stuck his arm out and George sold the call with his fall. I'm not sure why LeBron stuck his arm out at all when his subsequent move was taking the ball behind his back to sidestep George anyway. Seeing it live, this seemed like a fair foul call. But if LeBron had kept his arm to himself, there should have been no call on this play regardless of whether or not George still fell.

On No. 5, LeBron and Stephenson were indeed both grabbing each other at first, but then it appeared that Bron took down Stephenson (regardless of whether or not it was intentional). That said, I was honestly surprised they made a foul call because there's always a scramble like that for a loose ball. But it's hard to say it was a bad call when Bron did cause Stephenson to hit the floor and lose a chance to get to the ball.

Fair point that LeBron gets less respect than MJ did. But then again, the NBA tried to start making a better effort of eliminating superstar calls a few years back. So when LeBron has nights where he doesn't get the benefit of the doubt (like last night), it's hard to complain. But to be fair, in either Game 2 or 3 (can't remember which), I thought LeBron did get away with 2 or 3 calls that could have easily gone against him. So it goes.

May 29, 2014 at 11:48 a.m.
fechancellor said...

Anything that will help the kids and their parents during the process, I conditionally see as a good thing.

Father and sons,

Craig Stadler/Greg Stadler, King Richard and Kyle Petty, Bobby Allison/Davey Allison.

10 Ring, one HOF quality pair. You pick it.

To be cynical about a league that has stretched out Conference Finals in the past, well, the answer...More Tickets, More Hot Dogs, More TV.

May 29, 2014 at 12:12 p.m.
sportsfan said...

Jay - a rare moment during the day, but about to head to another meeting. For the record, you're a gem, but that's not why I'm posting. For the mailbag, what's your best and worst takeaways from your time hosting/managing/prepping for/and attending the BOP's over the years?

May 29, 2014 at 12:30 p.m.
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