OK, let's get to it. From the "7-Up Stinks Studios," here we go...
Atlanta Braves' Chipper Jones hits a three-run home run against the Detroit Tigers during a spring training game in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Braves have reason to worry
The Atlanta Braves continue to stagnate. Chipper Jones and Brian McCann — the team's top two everyday players — are hurt. Derek Lowe, the team's top paid starting pitcher, has been awful. The Phillies looked poised to runaway and hide in the NL East, and now there are true wildcard contenders in the NL West with the Diamondbacks and the Giants.
Is this a reason to panic Johnny Braves Fan? Of course not, these Braves are good, and it's a long season and you have to trust it. That means ups and downs. That said, here are two ideas to help pull the Braves out of this tailspin:
First, let's get Lowe to the bullpen. Today. We don't care if he's the highest paid long reliever in big league history. He's 6-10 with an ERA sprinting toward 5.00 and his last quality start was in June. Worse, to be the team's "ace" (that's in salary only, mind you), Lowe has been surprisingly fragile mentally. One bad play, one marginal call or maybe even one obnoxious fan talking into his cell phone and waving behind the plate — whatever it is, there always seems to be one moment that triggers a meltdown — let's call them Lowe-points. Tuesday's Lowe-point came when Freddie Freeman's throw home pulled catcher David Ross off the plate and allowed Jonny Gomes to score. That Lowe-point led to a hanging meatball that the next hitter, Rick Ankiel, hit for a grand slam. Good night.
Secondly, Fredi Gonzalez needs to get tossed. Like now. Like this minute. If the waitress brings out a black coffee, and Fredi asked for Splenda, then he needs to get run out of the Capital Hill Coffee Shoppe. Show some emotion and maybe this young team will respond. At least they will know your paying attention. Let's just say that Bobby Cox would have hit the fan on the call at the plate that led to the Lowe-point. Did the ump get it right? Absolutely. Would that have mattered to Bobby? Absolutely not.
Sidenote: Is it possible for Dan Uggla, who extended his hit streak to 24 games Tuesday, to be the comeback player of the year for his turnaround THIS year? We say yes.
UT's Jacques Smith, who attended Ooltewah High School, sits on the sidelines during the spring Orange and White game at Neyland Stadium.
So it begins. Thankfully.
College football is here. The Vols practiced Tuesday (read TFP's UT ace Patrick Brown's reports here and here). The Bulldogs start Thursday (read TFP's UGA ace David Paschall's report here). The Mocs start Thursday, too.
Ah, sweet college football, oh how we missed thee.
Does it not seem like the summers get shorter and shorter? We know, when we're in the middle of June, we all start looking longingly toward football season. But this year, it kind of flew by and then — BANG — we've started practice, rivals have start making fun of each other's weaknesses and Les Miles has started to add spices to his yard so he can chew on some grass.
So it goes. Thankfully.
OK, the Philadelphia Eagles have apparently decided to set the professional sports record for most high draft picks on one team. The Eagles added former Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown, who was a top-5 pick out of Auburn in the 2005 draft.
That means in the last two years, the Eagles have added a No. 1 overall pick (Michael Vick), a No. 2 overall pick (Brown), a No. 3 overall pick (Vince Young), a No. 16 overall pick (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie), a No. 27 overall pick (Jason Babin) and a No. 31 overall pick (Nnamdi Asomugha). And they drafted none of these guys.
That said — and we'll cover this more in Friday's mailbag — here's saying that Philadelphia coach Andy Reid spits up a little bit every time he hears the "Dream Team" term used or the comparisons made to the Miami Heat.
— Not to be out done, the Falcons have added some nice parts this offseason. Check out this tweet from Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez: “This kid Julio Jones is the real deal. He’s the best incoming receiver I’ver ever played with. Come to think of it, it’s not even close.” We don’t know what’s more impressive — Gonzalez’s high praise for Jones or his perfect English and punctuation (on Twitter, no less).
— P-Davi made a good point the other day (shocking, we know) that the last two weeks of NFL moves and machinations have been so much fun that the league should do it this way every year. Minus the lockout of course. All these moves have been crazy fun to follow, but we know of at least one group that thinks that's the worst idea since New Coke. Think the Madden 2011 guys are working around the clock to get all the rosters set? Here's saying that the local Domino's knows how to get to the EA Sports compound and there have been a lot of working breakfasts, lunches and dinners over the last couple of days.
Tiger Woods hits from the sand at the practice range as he prepares for the Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., on Sunday, April 3, 2011. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
This and That
— TFP prep ace Stephen Hargis has an excellent story on the TSSAA's decision on the Signal Mountain-Soddy-Daisy melee here. The TSSAA determined that since the fracas happened during the summer, it was outside its scope. Whether you believe that was too light, too much or just right, let's all make a deal that we'll have no more yahoo parents coming out of the stands or off the sidelines. Seriously, if it's frowned upon even in professional wrestling, we can all agree that it's a TURRR-ible idea, right?
— Surprisingly, Eldrick Woods said all the right things at his news conference Tuesday. He expects to win. OK, great. We expect him to have a good round — and then read a flood of stories about how golf needs Tiger, and he's back, and blah-blah-blah — and fade into the middle. He won't win and he won't finish last, but he'll be closer to the back than the front.
— Please tell us you saw the Kevin Durant's highlight clip where he scored 66 points in a pick-up game. It's worth your time. Dude is fun to watch.
Los Angeles Dodgers' Kirk Gibson celebrates as he rounds the bases after hitting a game-winning two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the Oakland Athletics 5-4 in the first game of the World Series, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Rusty Kennedy, File)
Friend of the show Chas9 closed the comments part of Tuesday's column with a great reminder that the Braves lost their 10,000th game on the last day of July.
Yes, 10,000 losses — and we're sure Derek Lowe was not to blame for most of them. The only professional team with more is the Philadelphia Phillies (somewhere EC just did a Tito Ortiz-type scissor kick).
Today's question is, what is your favorite infamous number in sports? Be it 10,000 losses or 4.000 (Kirk Gibson's slugging percentage in the 1988 World Series) or whatever.
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 ...