published Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

5 at 10: Ryan Braun, College hoops and NFL discussions

We still have a spot open for Friday's mailbag.

From the "Talk Too Much studios," let's go.



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    Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun speaks during a news conference at spring training baseball in Phoenix, Friday, Feb. 24, 2012. National League MVP Braun's 50-game suspension was overturned Thursday by baseball arbitrator Shyam Das, the first time a baseball player successfully challenged a drug-related penalty in a grievance.(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

He said, he said

Baseball claimed Ryan Braun tested positive for steroids. He said he was innocent and that the testing procedure was flawed in that his urine sample was not shipped to the lab for 44 hours after the test. Braun appealed and his suspension was over-turned — the first ever for baseball in regard to PED testing.

Dino Laurenzi, the guy known simply as "The Collector" who took Braun's sample, sent an e-mail to reporters Tuesday, saying he did everything by the book. And sources inside Major League Baseball have told ESPN that they believe the test was accurate, Braun was guilty and baseball is furious about the recent turn of events.

(Side question: Is there a nickname that can swing from boss to loss more than "The Collector" does? If you're a dynamite middle infielder who gets to everything or even the guy that gets the cash for a bookie, "The Collector" would be an awesome nickname. If you're a guy that handles urine samples or has an entire room dedicated to Archie comic books — Yes, we all know they're an investment — well, being called "The Collector" would be less than great.)

Here's a kicker to the whole mess: Dino "The Collector" has worked for the same testing company since 2005 and claims to have handled more than 600 previous tests. He also says he did this one exactly like all of the others in regard to protocol. So, in the transitive property of legalese, if Braun's test was faulty, and it was handled the same as the previous 600, does that make the previous 600 faulty? Hmmmm. While that may be a stretch — only a fraction of the tests would not have gone directly to the shipping company — here's saying that Roger Clemens, Mark McGuire and Barry Bonds have been in touch with their attorneys in the last 24 hours.



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    Vanderbilt forward Jeffery Taylor (44) drives against Kentucky forward Anthony Davis (23) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012, in Nashville, Tenn. Kentucky won 69-63.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

College hoops

We have a great weekly feature at the TFP during college basketball season, where our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer details teams that can go all the way in March Madness. We call it Weeds Seeds, and it's worth your 50 cents.

Anyhoo, with less than two weeks until Selection Sunday, the field is starting to take shape.

Barring a complete meltdown that would include multiple losses and early tournament defeats, Kentucky and Syracuse have locked down the No. 1 seeds in the East and the South, respectively.

Kansas appears to be the front-runner for the No. 1 seed in the Midwest, but that could change depending on how they finish the year and how others finish the season around them.

The top seed in the West is anyone's guess at this juncture. Last night added even more intrigue into the fray. Duke won at Wake Forest, and head into Saturday's date with UNC as the new frontrunner for the No. 1 seed in the West. That was made even more concrete by Michigan State's loss at Indiana on Tuesday.

The biggest monkey wrench in this entire thing is Duke. As things sit this morning, here is one 5-at-10's view of the top 2 seeds in each regional.

South — 1) Kentucky; 2) UNC

East — 1) Syracuse; 2) Ohio State

Midwest — 1) Kansas; 2) Michigan State

West — 1) Duke; 2) MIssouri

The above is assuming Duke holds serve at home against UNC Saturday night. But what if the Devils beat UNC handily and win the ACC tournament. That would make Duke 30-4 and we could see them being the top seed in the South, UK being the top seed in the Midwest and Kansas being the frontrunner for the West. Or if Duke loses to UNC at home and exits early from the ACC tournament, they could be a 2 in the East.

Does anyone else's head hurt?



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    In this photo provided by the Heisman Trophy Trust, Robert Griffin III, of Baylor University, holds the Heisman Trophy award after being named the winner, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011, in New York. (AP Photo/Heisman Trophy Trust, Kelly Kline)

NFL discussions

We have three quick NFL-related points, and while the regular readers of the 5-at-10 are saying,"Quick? Please. You're grocery list reads like a Tolstoy novel," we really are going to try to move quickly. Promise. (Side question: Why is it called 'Quick' sand? We've never seen any in real-life, but we've all seen it TV and cartoons, and it doesn't appear all that quick to us. In fact, it's almost always one or two seconds too slow, and everyone who gets caught in quick sand seems to narrowly escape. Anyhoo.)

— The NFL moved its season-opening game from Thursday to Wednesday, Sept. 5 to avoid a conflict with President Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention. Is that a TV decision, a polite gesture of respect of the Oval Office or a sign that Roger Goodell and Co. are showing their political colors? Discuss.

— The Rams have now had three different team officials say the No. 2 pick is open for trades. Hey we get it. You want to trade. Now calm down and lighten up Francis. The more times you discuss your desire to trade the more it devalues your part of the trade. In fact, a better pitch may have been to talk about how much you love the No. 2 pick, and how much you like the options of having the chance to pick from a talented pool that includes everyone not named Andrew Luck.

— The 5-at-10 loves the draft. You know this. So the combine also has a special place in our heart. News from this combine looks like this may be as deep a defensive back draft class in recent memory. LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, a sure-fire top-10 pick, was great in drills. So was fellow first-round corner Janoris Jenkins. Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick is a first-round dunk, and South Carolina corner Stephon Gilmore and Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith had great workouts Tuesday and likely moved into first-round conversations. Plus, a young fellow named Janzen Jackson — yes, Johnny Vols Fans, that Janzen Jackson — was impressive in drills Tuesday and will be an interesting prospect to follow for the next six-plus weeks.

(Sorry, that was about as quick as quicksand, wasn't it?)



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    Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive talks with reporters during Southeastern Conference Football Media Days in Birmingham, Ala., on Wednesday. (AP)

This and that

— The SEC even has better negotiators than everyone else, too. How else to explain the fact that West Virginia had to pay $20 million to get out of the Big East, and Missouri and Texas A&M each had to pay $12.4 to leave the Big 12 to go to the SEC. Hmmmm, paying $20 million to go to the Big 12 while someone else is paying $12.4 million to go to the SEC is not unlike paying $45,000 for a Honda before learning your neighbor paid $30,000 for a Mercedes.You can almost hear the "S-E-C, S-E-C" chants from the board room, right?

— Our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer believes your Tennessee Vols can — he says 'can' not will mind you — get into the NCAA tournament without winning the SEC tournament, and effectively states his case here http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/feb/29/vols-have-legitimate-ncaa-shot/. We think it would be a mighty long shot without an SEC tournament win, and the main reason is two simple words: Austin Peay. That loss to the Governors in December is an ugly mark on the resume.

— NASCAR has said that Brad Keselowski can keep his cellphone in his race car. Why is this a story? Have you looked inside those cars? The drivers are strapped in so tight, it looks like a midway point between a stretcher and water boarding. It's not like dude can reach over and start texting. Move on. Hey if you want to make a story out of thin air, let's ask Juan Pablo Montoya why he hates jet-engine trucks? It's a conspiracy we say.



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    In this Dec. 2, 2011, file photo, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning talks to reporters in the locker room at the NFL football team's practice facility in Indianapolis. The Super Bowl is getting upstaged by the greatest spectacle in football. Manning is making headlines without playing a down, dominating conversations without saying a word and superseding the two conference champions from the sideline.
    Photo by (AP File Photo by Michael Conroy)

Today's question

We know Peyton Manning will be anywhere but Indianapolis next year. We know the St. Louis Rams are looking to deal the No. 2 pick to anyone willing to pay a King’s ransom for the chance to draft Robert Griffin III. We know there are at least five teams — Miami, Washington, Cleveland, Seattle and Arizona — that are starving for a quarterback. We know you can’t win in today’s NFL without at least good QB play.

Knowing all this, would you rather have Peyton Manning for three-to-five years or RG III for 12 to 15? And know this decision is baggage, warts and all.

If you pick Manning, you are getting the creeky neck and all the uncertainty. You’re also getting a Hall of Famer who figures to have a Superdome-sized chip on his shoulder to show up Jim Irsay.

If you pick RG III, know that you’re going to have to part with a ton of picks/players to get the No. 2 draft choice for a guy that looks the part of NFL superstar but still has not taken an NFL snap.

Discuss.

about Jay Greeson...

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 ...

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Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
dawg747 said...

5er: Great articles as always. When it comes to Ryan Braun who has more clout "The Collector" or "The Commish". Do you think Bud Selig is going to let the Brewers lose their star player? Since he IS kin to their owner. Just a thought! As for Peyton every time I see the photo you post of him it reminds me of Carl in Sling Blade.

February 29, 2012 at 11:02 a.m.
fechancellor said...

I detest Hussein, and 10 Ring, if you did not know this before, embrace it now and for all time.

There's no conspiracy here by the NFL or Hussein. I'm sure you know Hussein moved his lack of jobs and dearth of economic success whine-a-thon before a Joint Session of Congress an hour ahead of the Saints/Green Bay match up so as not to conflict with the season opener.

What really caused last year's deviation was the fact Hussein told Congress instead of consulting Congress as to the day and date of his speech. For whatever reason, an alternate date was agreed Hussein's speech was to be moved to 8PM September 8th. 2011. Ain't separation of powers fun?

February 29, 2012 at 11:28 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

Why do I get the feeling a jet truck will be involved in March Madness as well? Are there really any teams, perhaps besides Kentucky, you feel that good about putting a chunk o change on? And I'm not sure I feel that good about the Cats.

Maybe Keselowski can text his crew chief, did you see the wreck Danica just caused? LOL!

February 29, 2012 at 11:52 a.m.
chas9 said...

First time for me: Praise Patrick, challenge Mark. In today's story, Patrick takes the moderate approach and speaks of Tennessee having a chance at "postseason play." Mark today chooses to set his hair (thin though it is) on fire and outline a scenario whereby The Vols get to the Big Dance. Really, Mark? Really?

If, as Mark fantasizes, Cuonzo's charges win out (a big IF), they'll be a four seed in the SEC tourney. The four seed plays the winner of the game between #5 and #12, and beating that team won't help UT's RPI much.

If The Vols do win that game, they'll play KENTUCKY in the semifinals, a little detail Mark neglects to mention. So Mark's scenario of Tennessee making it to the SEC championship game isn't going to happen. Unless Coach Cal rests Davis for half the game (as Pitino did Antoine Walker) to show his teammates how much they need him. (Of course, if UT takes down UK, they'll be in.)

The Vols vs. 1-50 are 3-7. MTSU is 0-1 (lost at Vandy by fewer points than UT lost at Vandy). The Vols vs. 51-100 are 2-2. MTSU is 3-2. The Vols vs. 101-200 are 6-4. MTSU is 11-1. MTSU's RPI is 48, traditionally a bubble number. Prediction: MTSU dances. UT, not.

The selection committee doesn't have to go by the RPI. But it's hard to see a committee that refused Bama last year taking The Vols this year.

February 29, 2012 at 11:56 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Dawg747 —

The Carl from Sling Blade line made us laugh out loud. (One of those real chortles that causes everyone around the office to say, "What's so funny?")

And yes, the fact that Braun is a Brewer and Selig is the Commish can not been ignored.

FE to the C —

Message delivered loud and clear. We'll put you down for a 'No' in regard to the current President.

Spy —

Loved the Brad K. line. The regulars are bringing it today. And from this point forward every time the 5-at-10 menions Ms. Patrick, we'll follow that sentence with "Go Daddy." (Go Daddy")

To borrow a George Strait line, the jet engine crash will be the fire we can't put out by golly. At least through the spring or until Danica wins a race. ("Go Daddy")

9er —

Don't go and start using numbers, that will only confuse us.

The 5-at-10 knows how you feel about the Vols; what's your view on if Duke wins out and the possibility of UK as the top seed in the Midwest rather than the South?

— 5-at-10

February 29, 2012 at 12:34 p.m.
patrickbrown said...

Chas --

if Tennessee wins out and Kentucky beats Florida in Gainesville on Sunday afternoon, the Vols are the second seed in the SEC tournament because they win any three- or four-team tiebreaker at 10-6, whether it's Florida/Vandy or Florida/Vandy/Alabama. I still don't trust this team enough for them to win a pair of tough games this week, but they essentially control their own destiny because you expect Kentucky to beat Florida. I'm still trying to figure out how this is even a possibility on February 29th. Not even two full months ago I wasn't sure if they'd get to six SEC wins.

February 29, 2012 at 12:46 p.m.
Stewwie said...

[Is that a TV decision, a polite gesture of respect of the Oval Office or a sign that Roger Goodell and Co. are showing their political colors? ]

On the surface, it looks like they are showing their political colors for sure. Does Goodell really think that the Democratic Nat'l Convention would heavily compete against the first NFL game of the year (featuring the Super Bowl champs)? And no, it wouldn't be disrespectful/unpatriotic the keep the game on Thurs. night. It would be just as easy for the Democrappers to adjust their schedule if they wanted to ensure a full audience for the convention. But who's really going to watch that anyway?

Goodell must be anticipating pressure from the liberal media to move the game to accomadate Obama's party. If true, how sad. Other than that, this move by Goodell makes absolutely no sense. I wonder what would have been done if this were the Republican Convention?

[Knowing all this, would you rather have Peyton Manning for three-to-five years or RG III for 12 to 15?]

Obviously, it depends on whether the rest of the team is able to "win now" or needs further development. I'm not quite sure if the 'Skins are more "win now" than not. That said, getting Manning or Griffin could be a 50/50 tossup for them. I think any draft deal by the 'Skins will be done after the Manning situation becomes a little more clear.

The Rams may not get what they're looking for in a trade for the #2 pick. Teams wanting Griffin would be the only ones making a serious play for the pick, and the Rams have no leverage since everyone knows they have no intention of drafting RG3. Also, the Vikings may open to some wheeling and dealing as well, though they might actually be high on drafting Kalil and won't deal the pick. Either way, I see Cleveland staying put at #4 and drafting Griffin if he's there. Otherwise, draft Claiborne.

February 29, 2012 at 1:12 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Downtown P-Brown —

Thanks for swinging by. Now get back to work.

We got Stew babe —

Interesting take on the media angle. You know how those yahoo media-types are. And completely fair question about whether Goodell and Co. would have done it for the GOP. (Our thought is the NFL would do it for whomever was sitting in the White House — it being nice to have friends in high places and all — be them donkey or elephant. Goodell makes more then $8 million a year, if we had to make a guess, something tells us he's voting Republican.)

It is a surprising toss up between RG III and Peyton. And whether Cleveland waits out the Rams will be super interesting. We love the draft. (But you know this.)

— 5-at-10

February 29, 2012 at 2:40 p.m.
chas9 said...

Patrick--You schooled me. The Vols' dramatic rise so dazzled me that I forgot to look above them to see how far FL and Vandy have slid. No doubt TN is the surprise (shock) of the SEC, but FL and Vandy's falling short of expectations are the second and third biggest surprises. So I just figured 4th was the best The Vols could do. My bad.

What are the tiebreakers? Must be the logarithm of some crazy quadratic equation.

So Sunday's games will be BIG.

February 29, 2012 at 3:05 p.m.
chas9 said...

Jay--I don't know if the committee gives #1 special treatment. I think they treat all one seeds the same and look for the best geographic balance. So, yeah, KY could go to St. Louie and Duke to the ATL. The two sites are about equidistant form the Commonwealth of Kentucky, but most fans (and that goes double for me) would prefer Catlanta. (Though the Dome is an ugly place for basketball.) Either way, there'll be far more blue there than any other color.

And Nashville would be sweet for the subregionals. The Yum Center would be yummy, but that'd be almost unfair.

And as for your seeds, I'll boldly predict that Kansas will be a two seed.

February 29, 2012 at 3:19 p.m.
jomo11 said...

Losses to Oakland and Charleston, as well as the loss to Austin Peay will aso doom UTK's NCAA tourney hopes, even if UTK makes the SEC tourney final and losses

February 29, 2012 at 10:20 p.m.
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