From the "Drunken Moose Studios," here we go...
Tennessee's Jonathan Wade (4) intecepts a pass from Georgia's Mohammed Massaquoi (1) during their game Saturday, Oct. 8, 2005, in Knoxville, Tenn. Georgia won, 27-14.(AP Photo/Wade Payne)
Alright Mr. sports know-it-all, who do you like this week, Tennessee or Georgia? And we all know you're a Georgia homer.
Thanks for question and the chance to respond to one of our more common complaints/questions/arguments. The TFP Sports Department is not a homer for anyone and does not root for teams — we root for the best stories to tell. That's it, really, whether people want to believe it or not or whether it fits into their rationalization of what ever perceived bias they believe exists. The sports department and in turn the sports page does not a favorite team. We have 'beats' — teams that are of higher local interest than others — and the Tennessee Vols football team is atop the local interest meter. That doesn't mean we root for them or against them, it simply means we cover them and we write more about the Vols than any other football team.
Side note: The TFP Sports Editor's favorite complaints/questions/arguments from UT fans wanting more coverage plays out in the following scenario: Let's say we have an interesting story from UGA, the state school in our Southern neighbors where we circulate more than 30 percent of our papers, and we put that on the front page of the sports section. Let's say that day was a busy day and the Vols somehow found their way inside. It is a flat-out certainty, a solid-gold, you'll get your pizza in 30 minutes or it's free guarantee, that at least one person will call our desk with the following exchange:
Ring, ring, ring:
5-at-10: "Times Free Press Sports."
Caller: "Yeah, do you know what state Chattanooga is in?"
5-at-10: "Yes sir. It's in Tennessee."
Caller: "Exactly. Now, why is Georgia on the front page of the sports section? We're in Tennessee."
5-at-10: "Well, one of the things... (CLICK). Hello? Hello?"
Thanks for letting us vent. As for the game. Here are my our for each team (LINK). And we'll have a column later today on which coach has more to prove Saturday. But our pick is among the contest entries listed below (there still are a few to add, and everyone is welcome to add their picks).
Here's a quick prediction category-association game about the Vols-Bulldogs (and feel free to play along in the comments):
Saturday's MVP: Tyler Bray
Saturday's Least Valuable Player: Cornelius Washington, Georgia's sack leader who will miss the game after getting a DUI
Saturday's surprise hero: Let's go with Jacques Smith, who may have a sack or three
Saturday's special player: Devrin Young breaks a big punt return and jump starts his "cult" hero status in full speed.
We'll offer up a couple of Mocs tickets for next week's homecoming game and a sleeve of Titleist golf balls with the Masters logo on them. There may be some more stuff in the prize vault in case of a tie.
McPell — UT by 6
Oso — UGA by 6
BlueOval — UT by 3
Spy — UT by 4
Jefe — UT by 7 in OT
MemphisExile — UGA by 13
Dawg747 — UGA by 10
TigerDawg — UGA by 3
Bookworm — UT by 20
CelticVol — UT by 11
JordanRules — UGA by 27
Weena — UGA by 9
OTWatcher — UT by 4 (and the Yankees stink)
ThatIDoKnow — UT by 1
scole023 — UT by 3
Lovable — UG by 4
VolsFan — UT by 10
PDavis — UGA by 14
TFP ace David Paschall — UT by 7
TFP ace Patrick Brown — TBA
TFP ace columnist Mark Wiedmer — TBA
Mrs. 5-at-10 — UGA by 14
5-at-10 — UT by xx
SportTalk's Quake —
SportTalk's Cowboy Joe —
SportTalk's Dr. B (he's a doctor after all)
Chicago Cubs left fielder Moises Alou reaches into the stands unsuccessfully for a foul ball against the Florida Marlins in the eighth inning during Game 6 of the National League championship series Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2003, at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The ball was caught by spectator, Steve Bartman. Cubs were unable to get a fan interference call. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)
Did you happen to watch the ESPN show last week on Steve Bartman? That guy is still hated in Chicago. It’s like that he has just totally vanished. Nobody has a clue about his whereabouts. I feel bad for him. I have to say that I would have probably done the same thing if I had been in his shoes on that fateful night. That play was just another cruel twist for the cursed Cubs. My question for you this week involves the subject of curses and sports. Everybody says that the Cubs are the most cursed franchise in sports. A lot of people are now saying that the curse is back on the Red Sox after their late season collapse. So Jay, do you believe in these curses and how do teams manage to get themselves in a curse?
That show on Bartman was gripping (it was too long, but it was still pretty awesome nonetheless). The story-telling and the witness accounts and the recreation of the night that Steve Bartman's life changed forever was well-played indeed.
(Not-so-quick recap: Bartman was a long-time Cubs fan who was sitting down the left-field line during Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS between the Cubs and the Marlins. Bartman reached out and deflected a foul ball that looked as if it was going to be caught by Moises Alou. Given the extra out — and another extra out by a Cubs error — the Marlins rallied to beat the Cubs in Game 6 and again in Game 7. Bartman has never granted an interview about, issuing only a heart-felt apology and has even turned down six-figure offers to be in commercials or speak out. In fact, the ball that Bartman deflected was bought by Harry Caray's restaurant for $100,000 and blown up in a public ceremony that was designed to remove the Cubs curse.)
As for Bartman, wow, what a game-changer. We probably all would have reached up at the ball. That's what fans do. But dude has been the poster boy for the next generation of Cubs fans' anguish. And he has handled it way better than most — including the 5-at-10 — all things considered.
As for your question, we do not believe in curses mainly because none of our teams are cursed (if that makes any sense), but we understand people that embrace them. There are a lot of things that happen in sports that are hard to explain. Things that happen for reasons that are difficult to comprehend. So if a "curse" is the catch-all umbrella that houses those anomalies, then so be it.
That said, sports are a crazy blend of passion and knowledge and mysticism. Are we superstitious? Yes, of course we are, we're sports fans. If you believe you're putting well because you marked your ball with a Canadian coin or believe you're winning because you're wearing women's underwear, then you are, and we're smart enough to understand that.
As for removing curses, there are only three acceptable ways:
You can sacrifice a live chicken;
You concoct a mixture of Copenhagen, glove leather, eye black and a bird feather found in the outfield and bury it in the opposing dugout of your home field;
You can win.
Have you ever noticed that winning teams don't spend a whole lot of time on curses? Hhmmmm. Maybe there's a connection there. Or maybe not. Yeah, it's Bartman's fault.
LSU's Morris Claiborne (17) returns a punt for a touchdown against West Virginia during the third quarter of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011, in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP Photo/Jeff Gentner)
From A 5@10Reader
Got to tell you that I really enjoy your stories. Your funny — sometimes.
Other than that here's my question: If you had one wish for this college football season, what would it be?
Great question, and one that we ponder frequently. And yes, we try to be funny — sometimes it works, sometimes you guys just don't get it. So it goes.
Now we're assuming that you're speaking specifically about now, in the moment college football, rather than what we'd do if we were the College Football Czar, the all-knowing Wizard of Onside Kicks.
Let's breakout a quick 5-in-10 (five items explained in 10 words or less) by the 5-at-10 for our college football wish list:
— LSU vs. Alabama happens once a month: The Nov. 5 showdown is Christmas morning for fans everywhere.
— Tickets to LSU-Alabama: Bad seats start at $300 on the InterWebs.
— More day games: One marquee 8 p.m. game, everything else starts in daylight.
— Less expansion talk: This stuff can't wait two more months?
— Fitting end: JoePa gets to Big Ten title game and retires.
There's probably a lot we're forgetting, but there you go.
New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, left, and Derek Jeter leave the field after the top of the ninth inning of the Yankees' 3-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers in Game 5 of baseball's American League division series Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
From Sports Fan,
You got your wish, and there were three game fives in the LDS. Playoffs baseball is awesome and deciding games are better. What do you think happens in the playoffs?
Enjoy your column (but you do talk too much).
Thanks for the kind words, and if we had a dollar for every time some thought or told us we talked too much, well, we'd have a pocket full of dollars. Not Bill Gates type of cash mind you, but enough to have lunch at Wally's and still go out that night and buy Dorothy Mantooth a nice seafood dinner and never call her again. Alas.
Our first wish for the baseball playoffs is the same as every year: The 5-at-10 wants as many decisive games (Game 5s or Game 7s) as possible. It completely changes the game and approach and the pressure and atmosphere and the experience. Decisive playoff games are boss. Period. Last night's Game 5 between the Yankees and Tigers was high-valu baseball entertainment.
As for this postseason, our next wish was for the Yankees and the Phillies to meet in a seven-game World Series. (Yes, EC, renowned Phillies hater, and renowned Yankees haters Spy and Jefe just spit up in their mouths a little bit, but still.) Those are the two best teams and would have made for the most exciting World Series. Yes, the Yankees are cooked, so it goes.
As for tonight's NLDS Game 5s, here's hoping the Brewers and the Cards pull it out. That way, those teams can meet in the NLCS that will be dubbed, "Thanks for the fun postseason trip, see you in a decade or so because our slugging first baseman is headed to Chicago or L.A. or Anaheim in free agency battle to the finish."
Miami Dolphins safety Tyrone Culver, left, and Dolphins cornerback Nolan Carroll, right, combine to tackle Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) in the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Friday, Aug. 12, 2011, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
The Atlanta Business Chronicle had a story this week about the Falcons being the No. 15 most popular team in the NFL. ((Click here for story)).
I think that’s about right. Titans were No. 21 which I thought was a bit high (ahead of the Raiders?).
Any surprises on the list?
Green Bay Packers
New England Patriots
New York Giants
New York Jets
New Orleans Saints
San Francisco 49ers
San Diego Chargers
St. Louis Rams
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Kansas City Chiefs
Great question. That list looks about right. A few surprises are the Vikings are that high and the Browns are that low (below the Titans and Lions?).
The biggest surprise, though, has to be the Oakland Raiders at No. 25. That's stunning. We thought for sure Da' Raiders would be a certain Top 10 and would challenge the top five.
The only way for us to get answers here would be to call out friend, Pretend Al Davis.
5-at-10: Pretend Al, are you there?
Pretend Al Davis: What do you want, punk? Do you know I have sweat suits older than you?
5-at-10: Uh, OK. Uh, Pretend Al, we called to ask...
Pretend Al: Get on with it punk, we don't have all day. I've got things to make calls to do and stuff to handle. I need to call Lombardi and see what he's planning for the Packers. That Bart Starr is some kind of player. I need to call Art Modell, too. Heard he was thinking about trading Jim Brown.
5-at-10: Wow, Al, you've lost it huh?
Pretend Al: What are you talking about? You called me remember.
5-at-10: Good point. Anyhoo, did you know that your Oakland Raiders are the 25th most popular team in the NFL?
Pretend Al: Shut your mouth. Who put out a crud list like that, Women's Wear Daily? That's what you read isn;t it, nancy boy?
5-at-10: Al, there's no reason to be insulting.
Pretend Al: Stick it wise guy. You call over here and wake me up from a nap — a pretty dog gone good nap, by the way — and start some mumbo jumbo like the Raiders are the 25th most popular NFL team. Poppycock. You suck. Who's below us, the New Jersey Generals?
5-at-10: Sorry Al, didn't mean to upset you. At least you're ranked higher than the Bucs, Bengals and Rams among others.
Pretend Al: The Rams? The Rams are worse than us? Well, that's something, I guess, but that's surprising. Roman Gabriel is a tough guy and a good player. Oh well. I do this, wise acorn, we may be 25th most popular, but our fans are the most loyal out there. I mean, we drafted JaMarcus Russell and they're still supporting us. You know what I mean, snot-nose?
5-at-10: You got a point there, Al.
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 ...