Wow, Wednesday was a crazy sports day. Lots of stuff to get to — and as promised we'll mix in some "Dodgeball" references after WC777 made a great call last week. We still have an open spot for Friday's mailbag, which includes a couple of the better questions we've ever had and full details on our next opportunity to win some sort of sports trinket.
Here we go...
An undated photo provided by the Auburn Public Safety Department shows Harvey Almorn Updyke Jr., 62, of Dadeville. Updyke Jr. was arrested early Thursday morning, Feb. 17, 2011 and charged with one count of first-degree criminal mischief in connection with the poisoning of the historic Toomer's Corner oak trees at Auburn University. (AP Photo/Auburn Public Safety Department)
Al from Dadeville
Harvey Updyke had his first court appearance Wednesday. Afterward, he was roughed-up at a gas station, saying multiple people attacked him and was treated for small bruises and scratches, according to authorities.
For those reading the 5-at-10 today from outside the greater SEC country, Updyke is the hardcore Alabama fan suspected of poisoning the oak trees at Toomer's Corner in Auburn. How hardcore is Updyke's fandom — his kids are named "Crimson Tyde" and "Bear." Let's just move forward.
First off, this is in no way to justify anyone being attacked, but did Updyke really think it was a good idea to swing into the Gas 'n' Sip for some Combos in the greater Lee County area? Seriously, that's the best plan for a guy that has been granted a special circumstance in his bond agreement to live with family in Louisiana for his safety? So, he swings by a convenience store called Tiger Express to get a few gallons? Sure.
Secondly, there now seems to be some holes in Updyke's story, even the police officer telling the Auburn-Opelika News that "the extent of his injuries does not equate to an assault charge," and that Updyke "has not really been too cooperative at this point."
Thirdly, the gas station does not have surveillance cameras and the attendant, who worked all day with a clear view of the parking lot told reporters that she had no idea what they were talking about and that the day had been pretty normal until all the reporters started showing up.
"Dodgeball" reference: "How would you like to take a break from that fine lead-based paint... and learn about Dodgeball?" Updyke is a nut, and that seems to be the lone unifying opinion between Auburn and Alabama fans alike. That said, there seems to be no shortage of conspiracy theories about distractions and goodwill and innuendo and goodness knows what else. We are now to the point that nothing short of aliens landing in Harvey Updyke's front yard and abducting him to the Planet of Holy Oaks and Lemonade will be surprising.
Atlanta Braves' Martin Prado (14) scores on a Nate McLouth double as Florida Marlins catcher John Buck (14) waits for the throw in the third inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 12, 2011, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Braves new star
When Nate "Dogg" McLouth is leading the way, the Braves offense is officially stagnant.
If you take out McLouth, the Braves got all of two hits and no runs in Wednesday's 6-1 loss. If you take out what proved to be a cosmetic eight-run ninth Tuesday, the Braves have scored all of seven runs in the last 35 innings.
McLouth, however, continued to rake the Dodgers, going 2-for-3 Wednesday and is 6-for-11 in the first three games of this four-game series.
Maybe it's the No. 2 spot that is carrying the bad mojo. Since McLouth dropped from batting second to batting eighth, he's lifted his average to .270. Since moving into the No. 2 hole, Jason Heyward has dropped to .190 — and he fanned three times last night against Jon Garland, a right-hander that was hardly blowing people away.
"Dodgeball" reference: "If you're going to become true dodgeballers, then you've got to learn the five d's of dodgeball: dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge!" Patches O'Houlihan's ultimate dodgeball philosophy is the only way to be prepare for the Derek Lowe experience. Lowe, the Braves starter Wednesday who allowed five runs and nine hits in three laboring innings, will have the look of a true All-Star starter three starts out of every five. Then out of nowhere comes a big-time stinker, with a line that looks something like Wednesday or worse. The best advise, as Patches always said, is to dodge.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell answers a question during a news conference in this file photo. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Will NFL return
What looked to be posturing and positioning some six weeks ago is now starting to take on a eerie turn in the NFL labor talks.
More players want to be at the table. More owners are looking around and grumbling.
The representatives from each side are being forced to sit down and talk to each other. And while we may not know what it's like to make million- or even billion-dollar deals, we all know what it's like to be forced to talk to someone. Think back to family reunions, and how your mom would make you go hang out with your weird cousin George or Simon or Heather or whomever. That was never productive and the only thought you had was, "When will this be over."
Well, the "When will this be over" thoughts need to be about the lockout not the negotiations. And when these talks stop this week, the sides are not planning to get back to the negotiating table until the middle of May. Really?
For the first time it seems football season may be in jeopardy.
"Dodgeball" reference: I found that if you have a goal, that you might not reach it. But if you don't have one, then you are never disappointed. And I gotta tell ya... it feels phenomenal. This was Peter LaFlour's all-time slacker line of thinking to explain Average Joe's Gym below-average business practices. It also should be the exact opposite approach for everyone involved in the NFL — which is a $9 billion (Yes, BILLION, with a 'B') operation that is about to try and commit an act that can only be described as seriously senseless self-suffering. (Another Dodgeball reference: "Alliteration aside, I'll take my chances in the tournament.")
Dan Marino, quarterback, for the Dolphins talks to reporters in the locker room. Jan. 20, 1985. (AP Photo)
Some NFL draft questions
The 5-at-10 loves the draft. You know this.
We're now officially a week away and the talk is starting to grow. The gang on SportTalk was discussing the merits of taking a quarterback early — they were against it. The 5-at-10 will be on with friend of the show Chris Goforth on 1310 AM today around 2 p.m., and there will likely be some draft talk there.
It's just an exciting time for the entire 5-at-10 clan.
That said, let's talk about the driving factor that determines most of the early first-round picks. We'll call it the "fire-able pick" and define it as the player that can make a GM's career or kill it. There is the reverse of that too, and we'll call it the "fire-able miss" and define it as the player that becomes a Hall of Famer after a bunch of teams passed on him. Those picks could also be dubbed first-team "All-Dan Marinos" in honor of the former Miami Dolphins quarterback who was the 27th pick of the first round in 1983 and was the sixth and final quarterback drafted in round No. 1.
That's the rub with Cam Newton. He could post the all-world numbers that match his all-world physical skills. Or he could be overmatched by the intricacies of the game and not able to overmatch the rest of the league with his physical skills. The risk-reward swing is amazing, even more so than when the Houston Texans passed on Reggie Bush a few years ago and everyone thought they were nuts.
Turned out it was the right move — Mario Williams is a beast — but that "do we or don't we" moment on Newton for the Panthers, Broncos, Bills, etc. in the first five or 10 picks will be highly dramatic and highly entertaining. We love the draft.
"Dodgeball" reference: It's time to separate the wheat from the chaff, the men from the boys, the awkwardly feminine from the possibly Canadian. OK — everyone around these parts knows how we feel about the NFL draft. But it's official that the NFL would be even more awesome if Cotton McKnight (Gary Cole) and Pepper Brooks (Jason Bateman) and the entire production crew from ESN 8 — the Ocho did the NFL draft. Sweet Mother of Chris Berman that would be outstanding. (Another Dodgeball reference: "Pepper needs new shorts.")
This and that
— Josh Chapman, Alabama's nose guard, was ranked as the strongest man in college football, according to ESPN college football ace Bruce Feldman, who wrote Chapman was "now up to 305 pounds, Chapman benches a jaw-dropping 580 pounds and squats 630, according to the Crimson Tide strength staff." The only two other SEC players on Feldman's list were Alabama running back Trent Richardson and LSU running back Michael Ford.
— For the Love of Judge Wapner's Robe, is there an uglier divorce anywhere than the McCourts. Now the split between the couple than owns the L.A. Dodgers has left the team paralyzed and MLB has stepped in to run the organization. Unbelievable. Side note: If you Google Judge Wapner to make sure you spelled it right, two things happen — first, you remember his first name is Joe and second, he marketed a brand of "Judge Wapner Root Beer." Seriously. If we can't find a Kemba Walker bobblehead, will a six-pack of Judge Wapner Root Beer do?)
— NBA action, it's FAN-tastic. That's the slogan that will always be the one that sticks in the 5-at-10's noggin' rather than the NBA, it's where happens. Although, last night it was where missed shots happened. And it's where turnovers happened (the Lakers-Hornets combined to score 165 points after all.). It's also where the OKC Thunder happen. EC said a week or so ago that Kevin Durant was going to get some rings down the road. Why wait? Who else wants a seat on the Thunder bandwagon? They were fun to watch last night, and with all the crazy, head-scratching, stomach-turning things going on in sports (and that's without a Tiger Woods meltdown in the last couple of months), being fun to watch is more than enough for the 5-at-10.
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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