For all the new folks, here's a quick disclaimer: the 5-at-10 is five things/categories of sports items of interest from TFP Sports Editor Jay Greeson every Monday through Friday at 10 a.m. I refer to this column as the show, refer to myself in first-person plural or simply as "The 5-at-10" and have a certain fondness for the NFL draft that's hard to explain. There are attempts at humor and occasional contests that include prizes, and every Friday is a mailbag with questions — and answers — from readers like you. Feel free to join the discussion.
From the "Drunken Moose Studios," (for why click HERE and know that in our younger days, well, let's just say we have a lot of kindred spirits with that Moose) here we go...
Will Bray slay or get Swamped
Tyler Bray leads the SEC passing and has led a renewed hope among UT Nation. For the first time in a while, Johnny Vols Fans everywhere are excited about facing a big-name SEC foe. Think back over the last few years, and when was the last time UT fans were pumped about a road trip to a Florida or Bama or LSU?
Well, that excitement stems from Bray, and his ability to throw the football. While the rest of the Vols may be either too young or too thin depth-wise, Bray gives UT a chance against all comers. And CBS analyst Gary Danielson, who will work Saturday's UT-Florida game for the sixth consecutive year has been impressed by Bray's talent since he first saw it last year in practice.
Danielson, who was on a conference call with reporters Tuesday, recalled a conversation with UT offensive coordinator Jim Chaney last year when Danielson asked about Bray. Danielson said,"[Chaney] said, 'He [Bray] has no idea what he’s doing yet. We gotta break him down a little bit, because he’s so darn cocky, he thinks he knows it all. He thinks he can fit the ball in anywhere.' I have been touting him for a year and a half. He was my breakout/sleeper player of the SEC this year.’’ No doubt Bray can jumpstart the legend — and even possible 2012 Heisman hype — with a big performance on Saturday, but the physical tools have never been in question with Bray.
Let's not forget the last time Bray started against an above-average defense (in last December's Music City Bowl against North Carolina), he fluctuated between doing the loco dance, doing a throat slash and crying on the sideline with the game still going on after throwing an interception in overtime. Let's just say that emotionally stable was not in his tool box 10 months ago.
How Bray passes the ball is not the concern; how he passes the pressure test of Gators defense — and the Swamp in general — will be very telling about Bray and the immediate future for his Vols.
When it rains it pours
The Atlanta Braves scored all of their runs after the fifth inning in Tuesday's much-needed 7-1 win over Florida. With 13 games left, the Braves maintained their 4.5-game lead in the NL wildcard standings over the St. Louis Cardinals, who beat the Pirates 6-4 Tuesday. The Braves ended a four game slide with the win.
Atlanta Braves' Brian McCann is congratulated at home plate by Matt Diaz, left, and Dan Uggla, right, after his three-run homer against the Florida Marlins during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)
Couple of things here:
First, we were as guilty as any overzealous Johnny Braves Fan of worrying to death about a lead that seems stout with two weeks left. Better yet, let's recount how SportTalk's Dr. B put it — and remember he's a doctor, folks — "If someone asked you at the beginning of this season if the Braves had a 4.5-game lead with 13 play, you'd take it, right?" Yeah, Dr. B was talking to a caller, but the 5-at-10 could have easily been flagged for Illegal Hand-Wringing, which is a five-yard penalty and you replay the down. (Side note: We'll be on with the SportTalk guys — all of whom are friends of the show — on 102.3 FM today around 5 p.m. Stop by if you get a chance.)
Second, Brian McCann's three-run homer jumpstarted the offense Tuesday, and call it a hunch, but we expect McCann to light it up in the next two weeks. He struggled mightily after coming off the DL, culminating in Monday's strikeout with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth of what turned out to be a 12-inning, 5-4 loss to Florida. Tuesday, though, McCann hit everything hard, and that three-run shot looked like a Stone Mountain laser show light screaming beyond the centerfield wall.
Dan Uggla hit a three-run homer to all-but finish things Tuesday. How do we judge Dan-imal? Let's put it to the Dr. B test:
Uggla's numbers as of this morning: .236 average, 34 homers, 76 RBIs, .310 on-base percentage
Uggla's average year before joining the Braves: .263 average, 31 homers, 93 RBIs, .349 on-base percentage
By that measure, Uggla's season is a disappointment, right?
Well now factor in that on July 4, Uggla was hitting .173 with 12 homers and 29 RBIs. Since then he's hit safely in 56 of the Braves' 62 games, including a franchise record 33-game hitting streak. We still think Uggla should be the NL comeback player of the year for his comeback in this year.
NBA Commissioner David Stern, right, and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, second from right, talk to reporters after taking part in talks between representatives of the basketball league's owners and players, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011, in New York. (AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams)
NBA action, it's phan(tom)-TAS-tic
A day after NBA player Corey Maggette told ESPN's J.A. Adande that some progress was made in the NBA talks, Maggette, who was at the talks in Las Vegas, on Tuesday said the negotiations took, "eight steps back."
The owners want players to take less money (which seems to be the base line for every owners group in every sports labor issue), and the players want the owners to share revenue. OK, how about some of each. It doesn't Shooter Flatch from "Hoosiers" — he does know everything there is to know about basketball — to see the merits of compromise. Heck, Shooter McGavin can see that.
What also is apparent to everyone except those involved in the dragging talks of what could be a potentially crippling work stoppage is that time is off the essence. Players are looking for teams in other countries. Owners are probably looking for other ways to spend their money. And fans — remember us — will not be waiting around for the NBA, regardless how exciting last year's postseason was.
The NBA folks better button up for a long winter, because examine the sports calendar with or without for most of the country (yes, there are die-hard NBA fans and great NBA towns like NYC, L.A., Chicago, Oklahoma City and a couple of others that will miss it).
Now until early January: College and NFL football
January to February: NFL playoffs
Mid-February: Pitchers and catchers report/NASCAR speed weeks in Daytona
March: Spring training and March Madness
April: Opening Day in baseball, the Masters, spring football and The NFL draft
May: Weather starts to break and everyone starts moving outside
June-July: It's summer and we're at the beach.
August: Football starts again.
That's a sports calendar that is plenty full without you NBA. If you give the fans a reason to ignore you/find something else, they will.
Boise State's Titus Young (1) celebrates with teammate Austin Pettis (2) after scoring a touchdown against Hawaii during the first half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010 in Boise, Idaho. BSU went on to win 42-7. (AP Photo/Matt Cilley)
This and that
— Want to know how powerful the NFL is? After it's summer of labor unrest, it just enjoyed its biggest opening weekend. Ever. The NFL reported that there were more than 660,000 more viewers this year than last year's previous mark. (Pssst. NBA, you are not the NFL.)
— Hey, we're finally ready to admit that Boise State has arrived as a football program. No, it has nothing to do with whipping an ill-prepared Georgia team 10 days. No the Broncos can mingle with the big boys now because they just received three years probation from the NCAA. Welcome to the official NCAA doghouse, Broncos. feel free to look around and if you have any questions, the USC folks or the officials from THE Ohio State University will be happy to answer them for you.
— Three great baseball pitching numbers from Tuesday for you: Mariano Rivera collected his 600th save, which is amazing because he really only throws one pitch — a cutter. Granted it's on the short-list of most effective single pitches ever, but still; Tim Wakefield collected win No. 200 Tuesday, which is amazing because he came up in the minors as an outfield prospect with the Pirates with guys named Bonds, Van Slyke and Bonilla before throwing his knuckleball in warm-ups and being discovered by a minor-league pitching coach; Justin Verlander won his 23rd game of the season, which is not all that amazing considering the guy has the best stuff baseball has seen since a young Pedro Martinez.
— Sweet Roy Kramer's Abacus, scoring is up all across college football, especially in the SEC. In fact, did you see that first-year-starting quarterback Barrett Trotter has Auburn scoring 41.5 points per game? That's a full seven points more than the Tigers averaged in their first two games last year with some guy named Cam Newton at QB.
Today's question for the group
If there's one downfall to college football season, it's that the days leading up to Thursday night and Saturday's games can really drag, Drag, DRAG on. Especially kin the TV world. After last night's Monday Night Football doubleheader which included Tom Brady throwing for a million yards, Tom Brady's hair getting a million heckles and ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski pulling his Andrew "Dice" Clay impersonation, Tuesday night seemed to be a TV wasteland.
That said, as we were flipping around the Braves game, we were fortunate enough to find "Rocky III" on AMC and "North Dallas Forty" on Versus, and while Rocky III is a bona fide guy classic, we had forgotten how good "North Dallas Forty" was.
Today's question is what's your surprising guilty movie pick. That one that you either forgot how good it is and always watch it or one that if no one is around you'll stay a little longer than you want to admit. Don't come back with "Godfather" or "The Natural." Of course you watch those. What's one that's a surprise — maybe even to you. (C'mon PDavi, we know you're itching to admit to LOVING "The Notebook.")
Two quick things: First, yes, the Mrs. 5-at-10 was at book club last night while we were debating the underrated-ness of "North Dallas Forty." Second, we'll get the ball rolling and say that we're suckers for "Little Giants" with Ed O'Neill and Rick Moranis.
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 ...