The Mrs. 5-at-10 went to dinner with her brothers Monday night, so after the 5-at-10 tots were nestled snuggly in their beds, we sat down, cracked open a beverage that sounded a lot like Lud Bite to watch a little sports. Then it dawned on us — the NBA Finals are done; the Braves were off Monday; random regular-season MLB with no rooting interest is dry as your Uncle Gary's jokes.
We were in trouble — and it turned out way better than we could have ever imagined (more on that below). Let's get to it.
From the "Talks Too Much" Studios, here we go...
The future of the college football postseason will be reviewed today by a collection of college presidents who are way smarter than all of us and way less athletic than everyone. So it goes, we guess.
TFP ace columnist Mark Wiedmer and the TFP's goofy sports editor bounced around a few thoughts on the decisions to be made in a new back-and-forth column in today's sports section. You can find it here.
We believe the following to be true and will likely be self-evident long before the TV contracts for the proposed four-team playoff run out.
— Protecting the quality and passion of the regular season should be the first goal.
— It needs to be an eight-team field. Period and capped at eight for a 30 years.
— The process needs to be as transparent as a newlywed's undergarments. The selection committee should pick the teams on national TV and even have a Q&A after the fact.
— Split the eight-team field into four conference champs and four at-large teams. The four conference champs will be from the four leagues that have the highest computer ranking. Not rankings of the champs mind you, but the conferences. This helps to make sure the leagues are doing everything they can to improve. Heck the Big East hasn't cared about football for a decade and is still cashing BCS checks. Now if you want to be invited to the ball, you better show you're willing to dance.
Most of this we trotted out there last December in this column.
Texas forward Damion Jones, front, pulls down a rebound in front of Colorado forward Austin Default in the overtime session of an NCAA college basketball game in Boulder, Colo., on Saturday, Feb. 14, 2009. Jones was the 2010 first round pick for the Atlanta Hawks.
We love the draft. You know this.
And we have committed to spending some time this week on the NBA draft. OK, twist our arm.
Not that long ago we discussed the worst NBA draft picks of all-time. And while Portland has two of the worst five — Bowie over Jordan in 1984 and Oden over Durant in 2007 (which will be five years ago Thursday, the day of this year's NBA draft... cue the creepy 80s-scary-movie music) — we contend they are not the worst drafting team in NBA history.
Nope that honor belongs to your Atlanta Hawks, who have selected such a steady collection of first-round bums that we believe the commissioner needs to hand the Hawks' first pick a stick with a red kerchief tied at the end with a can of beans in it.
They have an all-time gaffe — picking Marvin Williams over Deron Williams and Chris Paul. They have the mega-bad-break gaffe — they picked David Thompson No. 1 overall in 1975 but he went to the ABA. Even when they got it right, they got it wrong — the best Hawks' first-round picks in the last 30 years were arguably Pau Gasol (No. 3 in 2001, whom they dealt for Shareef Abdur-Rahim), Kevin Willis (No. 11 in 1984, five picks before John Stockton was picked) and let's not forget that the best player in Atlanta franchise history was Dominique Wilkins, who was drafted by the Utah Jazz.
Here are the last 10 years of Atlanta first-round picks and at least one NBA all-star that was on the board when they selected:
2011 — No first-rounder
2010 — Damion Jones/none as of yet but Landry Fields was on the board
2009 — Jeff Teague/two picks in front of Darren Collison with Taj Gibson and Danny Green
2008 — No first-rounder
2007 — Al Horford and Acie Law/No complaints on Horford and the rest of that draft was junk
2006 — Shelden Williams/Brandon Roy and Rajon Rondo
2005 — Marvin Williams/Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Raymond Felton, Andrew Bynum, Danny Granger, Monta Ellis
2004 — Josh Childress and Josh Smith/ Luol Deng, Andre Iguodala and J.R. Smith and Jameer Nelson
2003 — Boris Diaw/Kendrick Perkins, Josh Howard, Mo Williams
2002 — No first-rounder
2001 — Pau Gasol/Joe Johnson, Zach Randolph, Tony Parker
So what does that tell us? One, new GM Danny Ferry does not exactly have to have a 1980 Boston Celtics-type of draft (the year they added McHale and Parrish for the rights to Joe Barry Carroll) to hit a home run. Two, it's not going to shock us if the Hawks deal Al Horford to move up. Horford is their best player and most moveable asset, but the Hawks need to blow this up or be faced with a decade run of No. 4 or No. 5 seeds and a second-round playoff ceiling.
That said, we're committed to the Draft contest — the "Feeling the Draft contest" that will have the following:
Second player drafted (we all know Anthony "Uniblocker" Davis is going No. 1)?
Number of SEC players picked in Round 1?
Who do the Hawks take first (and there are trade talks afoot)? (and judging from history BiSpy 4 could be in play here.)
Who has the most "impactful" suit (this category will be judged by the Mrs. 5-at-10 and all her decisions are final... trust us, all her decisions are FINAL. End of discussion)?
U.S. Olympic trials
As Mr. 962 noted Monday, the Olympic stuff is engaging TV. We watched some of it last night, including local-girl-done-great Phoebe Wright, who missed a spot on the 800 Olympic team by a couple of steps.
Can you image the angst in the last 100 meters or so of that race?
You've spent countless hours preparing for a shot at the U.S. Olympic team, and here you are sprinting down the back stretch with four others, knowing that only three will reach the dream. Wright found another gear down the homestretch, making a strong kick, but it was just short.
Want to know why we love sports? Yes, the action is cool and bragging rights are great and even the enjoyment of the event itself can be a pleasure.
But we love sports — truly love sports — because of the look on Phoebe Wright's face as she was sprinting angst the pain, the pressure and her peers. We love sports because Wright stretched herself and offered everything she had in the race's biggest moment.
Sure winning is great, but competing is the soul of sports and Wright shared her soul with everyone who was watching. It was awesome and pure, and that competition and the emotion and drama is why we love sports.
This and that
— Congrats to Arizona for winning the college baseball title. It would have been cool for South Carolina to have won so the SEC could have held the football, basketball and baseball title at the same time, but so it goes.
— There is a report that Larry Bird will resign as the Pacers president. Dude was the NBA executive of the year last year. Maybe Mother Boston is calling? Or maybe they will give the Celtics GM gig to Booby Valentine, who will then promptly trade Paul Pierce for prospects.
— The Braves host the Diamondbacks tonight in a rare meeting of Hudson vs. Hudson. We think it's about time Brain McCann goes on a tear between now and the All-Star break. It's official — we're calling it. It starts tonight.
OK, we mentioned before that we were left in TV sports seclusion Monday night. Well, we found the safe haven.
No, it was not the US Olympic trials or even the College World Series. Nope, it was not even the historic 2007 UT-Vandy game, although we're prone to watch any number of the old SEC replays during the next six weeks. (Side note: If you ever catch an Auburn-LSU game, pull up a chair, it's likely going to be a dandy.)
Our Monday night was saved by the insightful tones of one Howard Cosell doing the play-by-play with Morgan Fairchild on the 14th annual Battle of the Network Stars (circa 1983) on ESPN Classic. It was glorious. Seriously.
For those not familiar, here's the recap: Male and female stars from the big-three networks (ABC, NBC, CBS) compete in a made-for-TV athletic competition that included bike relays, running relays, tug of war, dunking booth and the dreaded obstacle course.
Cosell was brilliant, setting the scene outside the obstacle course by describing the "torrential rains that have covered this area in the last fortnight," as Fairchild gazed at the camera. Cosell did play-by-play and said Adrian Zmed was, "no slouch of an athlete himself," and that "father time was starting to win the war" against competitor Tom Wopat. Cosell said that former Knots Landing star Ted Shackleford "had a propensity to choke in the clutch." Mr. T was in the competition as was Heather Locklear and a few folks from the old-school Dallas. It was awesome in its awesomeness.
Of course, Scott Baio (this was Chachi Arcola not Charles in Charge so Baio competed for ABC) was the Bo Jackson of these events — Cosell called him, "the king of the hill," — primarily because he was a good 10 years younger than everyone else.
This got us thinking (which we always admit is a dangerous thing). Why, in this era of paparazzi, the love of all things celebrity and the love of reality TV, has this not been remade?
And — you know how we love the draft — if they had a Battle of the Network Stars this summer between ABC, CBS,Fox and NBC, who are the top picks? Discuss.
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 ...