We still have a spot open for Friday's mailbag.
From the "Talk Too Much studios," let's go.
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.
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?
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)
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?)
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.
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)
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.
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 ...