published Monday, July 16th, 2012

5-at-10: SEC media event, Braves' Ben Sheets and farewell to Rick Hart

5-at-10:

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    Alabama coach Nick Saban talks with reporters during Southeastern Conference Football Media Days in Hoover, Ala., Friday. (AP)

It's here

The SEC media event is this week. There will be hundreds of news folks making a mad dash to to the greater-Birmingham area from all over the country to ask the football coaches and stars of college football's best league questions about just about everything.

As our UT ace Patrick Brown wrote last weekend http://timesfreepress.com/news/2012/jul/15/big-orange-debate-can-dooley-win/, University of Tennessee coach Derek Dooley's "hot seat" could be a major point of discussion this week. Dooley is 11-14 in two seasons in Knoxville and returns a slew of starters and the quarterback/receiver pieces to have one of the nation's best passing attacks.

Expectations are high. So is the energy, and the anxiety.

Our SEC ace David Paschall outlined some of the other potential questions you can expect to hear frequently this week here http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/jul/15/big-12-newcomers-meeting-sec-media/?sportscollege.

Here's two questions we have this morning:

First, where did the summer go? Seriously, the SEC media days are the unofficial start of the season and they are here. Which means summer is all but gone. (Forget the temperatures, and trust us.) Holy buckets it's about to get busy.

Second, this week will be fun if for no other reason than we get to catch up with our old friend Les Miles again. We love Les, and if you don't love Les then that's on you. Here's a quote from Les from Paschall's story above: "I think there is a real hunger and want to start the season, and any time you finish the season on a negative note, you turn to the opener with some anxiousness, and that's very much the case here."

The 5-at-10 has the want to include "want to" in nearly every story we want to write. There is a hunger and want here, folks.

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    Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Ben Sheets (30) celebrates with teammate Tim Hudson after defeating the New York Mets 6-1 in a baseball game, Sunday, July 15, 2012, in Atlanta. Sheets pitched six scoreless innings in his first major league game in two years.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Three Sheets to the win

Wow, how about that weekend in the A-T-L? The Braves sweep the Mets to push their winning streak to seven games. And on Sunday, Ben Sheets looked like Ben Sheets from eight years ago.

Sheets, who has battled a river of arm injuries and other ailments during his career, had been out of the big leagues baseball since 2010 when his second major elbow surgery all-but ended his career.

Sheets told reporters that he had reconstructive surgery in 2010 so he could play catch with his kids and never really believed he'd get back to the majors. Sunday, he held the Mets to a run in a 6-1 victory that was sensational and stunning and special and any other cool 's' word you imagine.

Whether signing Sheets was a stroke of genius or a move by a Braves team that simply does not want to spend money (and yes Spy, it can be both), Sunday's return was great. Plus, as other contenders start to stock pile assets and look at payrolls to make a push for a Dempster, Garza, Grienke or even Hamels, the Braves may have found a steal.

Granted, this was one start — Sheets allowed seven runs in 10 innings with Double-A Mississippi — but it was one great start. Here's saying the Braves front office types can't help but feel a little like the folks on an "Antiques Roadshow" after giving the appraiser great-granddaddy Whit's family portrait and finding some rare art underneath.

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Hart breaking out

UTC athletic director Rick Hart is scheduled to be introduced at SMU today. Hart is a very good guy who did a very good job here and deserves the very good raise he's about to get.

As UTC football ace John Frierson told us here, http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/jul/16/lots-of-change-in-air-for-utc-outgoing-chancellor/?sports Dr. Roger Brown has some big shoes to fill. And as our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer tells us, there are a few familiar names out there that could be interested http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/jul/15/hart-hard-to-replace/?sportsColumns.

As Ulysses Everett McGill might say to the Mocs powers that be, "Boys, we're in a tight spot." UTC does not have the bankroll to lure away someone with AD experience from bigger schools, and when you're making a hire that is a promotion for someone, it can be dicey.

Hiring Hart was the Mocs winning on a scratch-off lottery ticket. It worked, and now they need to find another winner.

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This and that

— At one point, the 5-at-10 enjoyed NASCAR. A lot. Is it just us or is there something missing from today's NASCAR? We've been underwhelmed.

— Ray Allen bought a full-page ad in the Boston Globe thanking Celtics fans for his time there. Class move. Now is that going to save him the tons of heckling and grief that his headed his way when the Heat play at Boston next year? Of course not. But it was still a class move.

— Did you see the final round of the John Deere Classic, where the kid picked up Troy Matteson's ball on the 18th hole. Here's the video http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/golf-devil-ball-golf/video-kid-picks-troy-matteson-ball-final-hole-021324962--golf.html. Matteson got a free drop after getting his ball back from the sticky-fingered youngster, and eventually lost to Zach Johnson in a playoff.

— Don't forget about our Openly Open Championship Championship. Pick five golfers and count the best four finishes in this week's British Open. The twist this time is if you pick Tiger Woods, you only get four choices. Questions? Winner will get some tickets to something soon.

— The TSSAA will vote today on whether to stay with six classes or go back to five classes. Either way, it's too many. And here's saying that before long all of the private schools will be divided into their own division and will be subdivided at least a couple of times. And at this pace, we're a few years away from crowing 14 state champions in every sport. Hey everyone's a state champion.

— Does anyone write a movie script that does not contain a comic book character? We had the 32nd installment of Spiderman last weekend. Batman returns Friday. There is a new Superman on the horizon. Heck, if we put a cape on Toonces the Cat that drives a car, he'd have a script in 48 hours. (For those that don't know, Toonces was an SNL character in the late 1980s, back when SNL still tried to be funny.)

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Today's question

It's a free-play Monday. Got something you want to share, deliver. If you need to respond, here's a starting point:

Jeremy Lin appears to be headed out of New York. After the Lin-sanity stuff and the craziness that jumped out of his quick rise to uber-celebrity, Lin rasies one of the most difficult front office decisions in sports. The contract Houston offered Lin — three years, $25 million — seems way, Way, WAY too high, especially for a Knicks team that has acquired Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton in recent weeks.

That said, Lin has real, economics class value. He may stuff a stat sheet like Kidd or be as fast or talented as Felton, but Lin is an actual money maker. His jersey sales were big last year and he puts fannies in seats. Lin's situation has even generated discussion at Business Week.

If you were a GM, how much value do you put in real value? (Side question: Where else but NYC can a back-up point guard and a back-up quarterback be international stars?)

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.
chas9 said...

Remember when Santana pitched that no-no? Me neither. As of today who would you take, Sheets or Santana? I'll take Big Ben.

Thanks, Rick.

And who's the hottest team in MLB? Will they ever lose again?

July 16, 2012 at 10:27 a.m.
Todd962 said...

I would like to take credit for the Braves win Sunday. I turned the tv on in the fifth inning to a 0-0 tie and turned it off at the end of the inning with a 6-0 Braves lead. To all you Braves fans out there, you're welcome. I will see if I cant do more closer to playoff time.

Your Openly Open Championship Championship reminded me of a Neil deGrasse Tyson tweet the other day. He said "Does it disturb anyone else that "The Los Angeles Angels" baseball team translates directly to "The The Angels Angels"? He's pretty funny for a space nerd.

July 16, 2012 at 10:45 a.m.
fechancellor said...

Ten Ring, Dooley has to beat at least one more SEC team than Miss. ST. Why not Florida, even with their usual puckering effect on the Vols, these Gators are several notches below Gainesville's best.

As for Lin, he's the People's Champion in NYC much like "The Rock" was to fans of the WWE. What's $25 million to the Nicks after many high salary deals that went bust. Lin has value as the 6th man.

July 16, 2012 at 10:59 a.m.
Stewwie said...

Big loss for UTC with Hart's resignation. He has done a great job as AD during his six years here. Best wishes to Rick in his new endeavor at SMU.

The Rockets are taking a risk with signing Lin for that amount of money. Was he merely just a flash in a pan or is he the real deal? Playing in the #1 TV market and a city known for its melting pot of ethnicities certainly helped both his exposure/international appeal and the Knicks' $$$ bottom line. If he ends up with the Rockets though, he moves to the #10 TV market and a decent, yet non-playoff team. Hate to say it, but I think that Lin-sanity won't repeat itself. Hope he proves me wrong though because he's got a great story and he's a very likable guy.

More questions that won't be asked at the SEC meetings this week:

"Mr. Spurrier, who do you miss more, Lane or Urban?"

"Mr. Saban, when you first heard that Reuben Foster was changing his commitment to Auburn, what thoughts went through your head? Be honest."

"Mr. Dooley, as you begin preparing for the opener against N.C. State, would you say that your team is more like the Germans or the Allies during the D-Day invasion?"

"Mr. Miles, have you kissed and made up with Jarrett Lee's father yet?"

July 16, 2012 at 11:13 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

Put Lin in Memphis or Minnesota and would those jersey sales have been the same? I argue not. So he goes to Houston, which gave up on him once already. How are those jersey sales going to be?

The Braves signing Sheets was like the Red Sox signing Smoltz - plenty of upside potential (and not's even NFL draft time!) with little risk and little investment to be made. Let's hope Big Ben provides more impact to the relocated Boston Braves than Mr. Smoltz had with the Olde Towne Team.

When do you want Open Championship picks, 5?

July 16, 2012 at 11:40 a.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Yes, the Braves will lose again. When does Minor pitch next?

Mr. 962 —

You get full credit. In fact, we may or may not have read the postgame interview with Chipper that went something like this:

Hefty, angry sports reporter: "So Chipper how about that Ben Sheets?"

Chipper: "Who? Oh yeah, Sheetsie was tough. But what about Todd962? That dude is money. The way he turned the TV on and watched. That was H-U-G-E."

Hefty, angry sports reporter: "Where are the snacks?"

FE to the C —

The Knicks can afford it no doubt, but it's more than that. And here's saying that's the first time Lin and The Rock have been accurately comparable.

Dooley's driving the biggest question mark in college football right now. The Vols could go 10-2; they could go 5-7. Giddy-up.

Stew got what we need —

Everybody think up, we're going with another run of questions that won't be asked at SEC media days tomorrow. Thanks, Stew, for the motivation.

Here's our answers: 1) "Neither" 2) "Shut up or I'll have my daughter pay you a visit." 3) Well, glad you asked.... (20 minutes and 15 historical references later)... right now we're more the Allies. God Bless America. 4) "As a coach and as a man, you have to have the passion and the want to to kiss another man, no matter who's fault that may or may not be. Right now, our team has the direction but I don't have the want to smooch any other men."

Spy —

Picks due Wednesday night and we'll publish them on Thursday morning.

— 5-at-10

July 16, 2012 at 12:32 p.m.
deboman said...

Houston must be trying to build some residual interest from the Yao Ming effect in signing Lin, especially for that kind of money. Maybe they see China as the new NBA talent pipeline and want the inside track as being the friendly landing spot for the expected influx from the Far East. I would have to say that is a pretty sizable fan base to try and tap into. Yao-za.

I'm also getting a sneaking suspicion that LeBron is behind this whole Dwight Howard hullabaloo. James was able to add a championship to his mantle, now he just needs a scaptegoat to make his 'Decision' situation go away. The fiasco that Howard has created just might do it.

July 16, 2012 at 12:33 p.m.
Stewwie said...

Great answers! Looking forward to more questions that will not be asked at the media days.

Add Kyrie Irving to the list of nominees for the Gus Frerotte Stupid Injury award. Upset about a play during practice this weekend, he slammed his hand hard against a padded wall and broke it. Now comes surgery for the young fella. Also, he recently bet Kobe $50,000 that he could beat him 1-on-1 (money going to charity). But we'll have to wait until next year to see who can win that matchup. (I pick Kobe 10-5.)

[If you were a GM, how much value do you put in real value?]

Ultimately, fair or unfair, GMs and coaches are judged based on one thing...wins and losses. That said, if I'm the GM, my first priority is trying to put a winning product on the floor. Trying to profit off of a splashy signing has to come second.

That got me thinking about the Falcons' decision in '01 to trade up to get Vick with the first pick. Knowing all that they know now, if they could do it over, do you think they still make that trade and pick? Or should they make a move to trade down to take Brees late in the first round?

For one thing, mobile quarterbacks rarely (if ever) win the Super Bowl. The NFL is full of world-class speed to take away some of that advantage for the QB. Plus the hits are harder when the QB scrambles and the risk for injury (as Vick knows, unfortunately) is pretty high.

At the same time though, someone like Vick is incredibly fun to watch. Fans are in the seats and jersey sales are off the charts. I saw Vick play 4 or 5 times while he was with the Dirty Birds and every play was exciting with that guy under center. At the end of the day though, after six seasons in the ATL, there was one good year and five mediocre years record-wise.

July 16, 2012 at 1:40 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Debo —

Strong call on the Manchurian Rockets. In Asia, they could be the NBA's version of Hasselhoff in Germany. Is that a good or bad thing?

And great point on the Howard debacle making the decision seem like only a mildly bad idea.

Stew —

Kyrie Irving is a starter on Team Frerotte. As is the dude that blew his knee out jumping on home plate after a walk-off homer.

Vick owned Atlanta during his time there. And he made the Falcons fun/relevant again, which is saying something. Granted it ended badly but still.

And you're right about the wins/losses thing, because as much money as the Falcons made, the deal they made for Vick became LaDainian Tomlinson, Drew Brees and all-pro kicker Nate Kaeding.

— 5-at-10

July 16, 2012 at 2:15 p.m.

Jay, I laughed out loud at Mark Wiedmer's list of AD choices for Chattanooga. Tell me he wasn't serious? If so then why wasn't Dennis Haskins on the list, too?

Does Dave Hart have another son/Rick a younger brother?

July 16, 2012 at 2:21 p.m.
jgreeson said...

BTG —

That's awesome. Let's start the Mr. Belding for AD bandwagon.

Would he bring AC Slater in as an assistant?

What about Bret "The Hitman" Hart? Is he related?

— 5-at-10

July 16, 2012 at 2:28 p.m.
deboman said...

And in an effort to offset the silly hat selection ceremony, Reuben Foster has not added some Auburn ink. Apparently he has added the Auburn helmet sticker to his forearm to show he is serious about heading to Tiger country. Guess there's no turning back now...well there is, but he would look really silly putting on another helmet with that on his arm.

July 16, 2012 at 3:13 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Debo —

Let us not forget about Marlin Lane, the projected Tennessee starter at tailback who was a longtime Clemson commit and had the Tigers paw tattooed on his arm.

In the NCAA pecking order, it's soft verbal, solid verbal, tattoos, signed letters of intent.

— 5-at-10

July 16, 2012 at 4:37 p.m.
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