Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend. From the "Shapiro Stinks Studios," here we go...
Take that NL West. After taking three of four from the defending World Series champion Giants, the Braves swept Arizona out of Atlanta with a 1-0 masterpiece Sunday.
The pitching — Tim Hudson went seven innings before handing it over to the wonderful skills of the closeout wholesalers Venters & Kimbrel — was stellar. The defense — did you see the play Freddie Freeman made? — was stellar. The offense was just enough.
And, yes, the Phillies are cruising and scoring eight runs a game and thumping people. But playoff baseball is won with timely offense and shutdown bullpens. The Braves appear to have each of those traits in full.
Sidenote: It's worth repeating, but do you know closer Craig Kimbrel has not allowed a run since June 11. That's right, the last time Kimbrel allowed a run we thought Ohio State was the dirtiest program in the country, we had just put a wrap on the Best of Preps banquet and EC was belly-aching about getting more MMA in the TFP, and this was long before the deal between UFC and Fox made them bona fide. There are a country full of 10-week-old babies who have never seen Craig Kimbrel allow a run. Think about that. Think about the children, guys.
This April 16, 2011, file photo shows Sebastian the Ibis, the Miami Hurricanes' mascot, leading the team on to the field for a spring NCAA college football game, at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro told Yahoo! Sports he provided extra benefits to 72 football players and other athletes at Miami from 2002 to 2010. His claims involve several current players, but coach Al Golden said it was too soon to take disciplinary action. (AP Photo/Jeffrey M. Boan, FIle)
More Miami fallout
Whether it was background information or scheduling irony, ESPNU on Sunday showed two of its best — and most topical — episodes in the really great "30-at-30" series. Back-to-back episodes of "Pony Excess" detailing the rise and fall of SMU and "The U." showcasing the rise of the University of Miami football program.
With all the reverbs coming from last week's bomb dropped by Yahoo! Sports that a rogue booster had given hundreds of thousands of dollars (maybe millions) to more than 70 Miami football players, watching those documentaries was even more fascinating. The SMU scandal was unbelievably deep — even involving then-SMU board president who had just been elected Governor of Texas. It also was brazen and unflinching and so deep that when the boosters and the athletic department officials agreed to stop paying players in 1983, they had to continue playing the players on the roster so as to not violate any contracts. Read that sentence again.
The death penalty that was delivered to SMU was devastating. And it was such a traumatic experience the NCAA bigwig that announced the death penalty fainted walking out of the press conference. It was surreal.
As for the early days of the "The U." well, to say you couldn't see this coming is shortsighted at best and a plain falsehood at worst. One thing that did jump out to us was that as wild and talented as those Jimmy Johnson teams were — and without a bad call at Notre Dame and a turnover-plagued bowl loss to Penn State, Johnson's teams would have win three straight national titles — he was in control then.
And it's obvious no one is in control at Miami now. That said, unless they can prove the administration had direct knowledge of Nevin Shapiro's shenanigans (could that be Shapirigans?), it would be hard to see Miami getting the death penalty.
Neck and neck in Indy
OK, we know that Peyton Manning is a stud. We know that the Colts struggling in the preseason is nothing new. (Indy has lost more preseason games than regular-season games since 2005. Seriously.)
We also know that Manning's recovery from neck surgery is making the Colts explore other back-up plans for the season opener in three weeks. Couple of things here:
— If Manning can't play, his real value will be overwhelmingly obvious. And that's saying something for a guy who has already won xxx MVPs. (Yes, El Jefe and BIspy, Tom Brady's a great quarterback and has three rings. He also has had a better supporting cast for years. Much better. The Patriots minus Brady would smoke the Colts minus Manning).
— Colts owner Jim Irsay recently tweeted that he was in Brett Favre's hometown. NOOOOOOOOO. Brett Favre — the NFL's offseason combination of Beetlejuice and Lord Voldemort in that if we don't mention his name — who has been relatively absent from preseason un-retirement talks. (Sidenote: When you google "lord voldemort" to make sure you're spelling it right, you learn that lord voldemort has a twitter account. Gotta admit, we're intrigued by that. OK.)
— Here's saying that Manning, who has started 208 consecutive regular-season games, will be on the field for the opener. Here's also saying that Brett Farve is the Jason Voorhees of NFL quarterbacks. There is no way to get rid of that guy once and for all.
This and that
— OK, we all agree that voters for the baseball Hall of Fame take themselves a little too seriously, right? Here's the other extreme: Miley Cyrus is in the bowling Hall of Fame. Read that again. Yes, the bowling Hall of Fame has an online election, and Cyrus topped such other famous bowling celebs Lady Gaga and Justin Beiber. Not really sure what else to add here other than last year's inductee was Taylor Swift. Let's just move along.
— Four LSU players were involved in a bar brawl last Thursday, and among the group was starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson, but the devils are in the details. Reportedly there were as many as 50 LSU players that went out in mass to celebrate the Tigers wrapping up two-a-days. First question, who picks a fight with 50 SEC football players? Second question, how many of those guys were still around for the starting quarterback to get in the middle of the scrum. Third question, which is the best word/phrase to describe a bar fight — a melee, a brawl, a scrum, a donneybrook, or a knock-down-drag-out (our favorite)?
— Kurt Busch secured his spot in the Chase with a win Sunday. It was Busch's fourth Sprint Cup win of the season. If dude wasn't such a pain in the tuckus he would be getting Jeff Gordon-type praise from a decade ago. Seriously, the guy can drive anything with four wheels and he can drive any one with four or more IQ points crazy.
— It was good to be back at a high school football game Friday night. We watched (and were impressed by) Baylor on Friday. And yes, we're getting a little longer in the tooth (We're a man! We're 40!), but high school football is one of the good things in life. The buzz on Friday mornings, the excitement, the band and the crowd... it's joyful. (Sorry to go all Hallmark on you, let's just move along before EC starts heckling us.)
The Braves have the two best rookies in the NL in Freddie Freeman and Craig Kimbrel. You know this.
Which one is your NL Rookie of the Year and which one is more valuable? The answer may not be the same, you know? (And if you want to know the difference follow along this first-ever 5-at-10 Mad Lib: You're watching the ESPN ticker and the blurb, "Braves' star rookie seriously injured," comes across the screen. How do you finish this sentence — "Holy Snikes. Please don't let it be__!"
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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 ...