We're still looking for a couple of mailbag questions for Friday. Let's get to it. From the "7-Up Stinks Studios," here we go...
Atlanta Braves' Brian McCann, center, has dirt thrown on him by teammate Martin Prado, right, after McCann hit a walk off two-run home run as Dan Uggla looks on in the eleventh inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros Tuesday, May 17, 2011 in Atlanta. Atlanta won 3-1. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Braves keep working late
Hey, is that Braves catcher Brian McCann entering the MVPBTASB (MVP before the all-star break) conversation? Why yes, yes it is. And a quick thanks to EC for the copyright freedom to use his acronym flexibility.
Anyhoo, the Atlanta Braves played their final late-night West Coast game of the regular season Tuesday, topping Seattle 5-4 in large part to McCann, who had a two-out, two-run single in the seventh that was the difference. He also threw out Adam Kennedy trying to take second on the back end of a double steal that stopped the Mariners' threat in the seventh.
As we have discussed all season, Atlanta's pitching has been stellar. And while Tommy Hanson allowed three runs (GASP!), the back end of the bullpen was lights out. Again. In fact, looking at the the ERAs of the five pitchers the Braves used Tuesday at it looks like a list of prices of kiddie meals at the Burger-Doodle. Hanson — 2.62; Sherill — 2.61; Proctor — 3.14; Venters — 1.26; Kimbrel — 2.70. And yes, those include small fries and a drink. Or even a juice box.
And hey, how about the power of positive thinking for Dan Uggla? As we mentioned Tuesday, the Mrs. 5-at-10 wants us to work on being a little nicer in our presentation, especially in regard to Mr. Uggla. Well, with a kinder, gentler 5-at-10 at work, Uggla promptly hit a 409-foot homer Tuesday night. Way to go. (Now we just have to find him a jersey that fits. Wow, that thing is painted on.)
South Carolina players, including the tournament's most outstanding player Scott Wingo, right, pose with the trophy after beating Florida 5-2 in Game 2 of the NCAA baseball College World Series best-of-three finals, to win the championship, in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday, June 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Eric Francis)
South Carolina repeats
That was fun. Seriously.
The College World Series concluded Tuesday night with South Carolina completing a CWS sweep and securing its second consecutive crown with a 5-3 win over Florida. The Gamecocks did not lose a game in this CWS. They have now won 11 straight CWS games and 16 straight NCAA tournament games — both are records.
Of the memories of this tournament, here are three:
— New bats = better baseball: The echoed "PING" of college baseball is as dead as high stirrup socks. Good riddance. The new bats have brought a new focus on pitching and defense, and each served South Carolina well. After allowing four runs in the first inning of their CWS opener against Texas A&M, South Carolina surrendered all of six runs in the next 50 innings in Omaha. USC also scored unearned runs in extra innings to secure wins over Virginia and Florida.
— The new stadium was awesome. Sure, Rosenblatt had earned a special place in CWS lore, but the new home looked stellar.
— As for Omaha, the city has embraced this event like few others. In fact, in the last decade, there was steady talk — on the NCAA side as well as the city's side — of Chattanooga forming a similar bond with the FCS title game as the one Omaha has with the CWS. Wow, since the FCS game moved to Frisco, Texas last December, that seems like long time ago, huh? Want to hear something crazy? The FCS championship football game has been gone for only one year. It feels like it left five years ago.
This April 20, 2009, file photo shows Tiger Woods during a news conference about the AT&T National golf tournament he hosts, in Bethesda, Md. Tiger Woods will speak to the media Friday, Feb. 19, 2010, from the clubhouse at the TPC Sawgrass, headquarters of the PGA Tour in Florida, for the first time since revelations about his infidelity, his agent says. (AP Photo/Rob Carr, File)
Tiger taking it slow
Tiger Woods said Tuesday he won't return to golf until he is completely healthy. He did not give any clues, however, as to when he would be returning to his old form on the golf course.
Has there been a bigger drop in three years? Barack Obama, maybe? Charlie Sheen?
After winning the 2008 U.S. Open on one leg, Tiger Woods was on top of the world. He was a billion-dollar entity and seemed destined to destroy every meaningful golf record ever.
Then the Thanksgiving wreck. And the whirlwind of stories of his infidelity. The apologies and the glares and the protests and the time away. Now the injuries, and Eldrick has played nine competitive holes in six weeks — remember his front-nine 42 at the Players before he WDed? — and golf has new names, faces and stars.
And Woods is not among the heavies. Who could have predicted that three years ago?
This and That
— Holy Bugs Bunny’s 1-2-3 Strikes Your Out, how good has Phillies lefty Cliff Lee been? Sweet Knee Buckles, Lee just completed the month of June with a 0.21 ERA. On Tuesday, he threw his third consecutive shutout and he has the fourth lowest ERA in a month ever. Nolan Ryan and Cory Lidle each posted a 0.20 at various points in their very different careers. The top spot is occupied by Orel Hershiser, who posted the John Blutarsky Special — 0.00 in September 1988.
— We'll have more on this later, but something tells the 5-at-10 that the NFL wheels are finally starting to move. We've said from the beginning that the July 4 timeframe was what we expected, and, well, July 4 is Monday. We'll see.
— David Stern is hopeful that a deal can be reached with the NBA players before the current labor agreement expires Thursday. In other news, the 5-at-10 is hopeful the Braves are going to draft us and give us a $10 ka-jillion signing bonus. And we're hoping it will be tax-free. And we're hoping it will be here by Thursday. And we're hoping that it will rain beer. And we're hoping... you get the idea.
— Georgia has notified the NCAA about eligibility concerns of linebacker Jarvis Jones. Jones, the USC transfer who was expected to compete for a starting job, is now left in the limbo that is the NCAA timetable. We'll see.
— Floyd Mayweather Jr. said he may fight Manny Pacquiao after all. Mayweather, speaking at a news conference to discuss his bout with Victor Ortiz in September, told reporters, "I want to fight the best they got out there, not just [Pacquiao], the best they got out there, and if [Pacquiao's] on the list as one of the best guys, then absolutely." Uh, hello. Even Floyd the Barber knows Manny Pacquiao is "on the list as one of the best guys" in boxing. This needs to happen — sooner rather than later.
Atlanta Braves' Dan Uggla runs to first before being thrown out during a baseball game against the Florida Marlins in Miami, Tuesday, June 7, 2011. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
OK, we have to repeat BIspy's spin for Dan Uggla on the intro for Randy Watson in "Coming to America" — "And you know him as Officer Thirdout from "Who's on Base" episode of "That's My Braves Offense." Give it up for Dannnn Uggglllaaa!!!! That boy good. Yeah. Good and terrible."
Well played indeed — and we were able to share that and still remain in our kinder-and-gentler state of mind.
A friend of the show suggested that the next 5-at-10 contest be guessing the date that Dan Uggla would surpass the Mendoza Line (the mythical line above and below a .200 batting average, named for light-hitting shortstop Mario Mendoza). The first question is will he surpass the Mendoza Line? After that we can discuss some other possibilities.
Anyhoo, here today's question: Here at the halfway point (and we'll have more on the first half of the baseball season in Friday's mailbag), what are your expectations from this point forward for Dan Uggla (Officer Thirdout... that's gold Jerry, gold)?
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 ...