published Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

5 at 10: Dodgers Renewed, Payton's Place and Who's the Best Coach in the Final Four

Don't forget about Friday's mailbag — we'll have a full one this week, we promise.

From the "Talks Too Much Studios" here we go.

Dodgers Blue no more

Growing up a big baseball fan in Smyrna, Ga., right outside Atlanta, it makes complete sense that the 5-at-10 has been a lifelong Dodgers fan, right? Of course not, but that's how it goes. (The best present we can remember from Santa was a "real-life" Starter Dodgers' bullpen jacket just like the ones the big leaguers wore. It was awesome.)

Well, the Dodgers recent decade of struggles and embarrassments have not gone unnoticed. In fact, the Dodgers are one of "those" franchises in sports that simply should be better than average every year. For the franchise, its fans and the sport. Baseball is better when the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Braves and Cubs are better than most. Football is more enjoyable when the Cowboys, Steelers, Raiders and Packers are competitive. The NBA feels right when the Lakers, Celtics and Bulls are relevant. Call this big-city bias, call it sports' sense of entitlement, call it whatever you like. But it's true and it's simple — these are the teams that generate feeling and emotion from the fans, and everyone knows it's much better when sports are laced with feeling.

Anyhoo, the Dodgers appear to be emerging from the dark cloud that was Frank and Jamie McCourt's destructive tenure as owners. And it appears that Magic Johnson, the former Lakers superstar and unofficial ambassador of L.A., is a key figure in the group that is paying $2 billion — yes, billion with a 'B' — for the Dodgers. Sure, Magic is putting a relative small part of the $2 billion — yes, billion with a 'B' — but still, it's Magic and it's Magic smile and it's what L.A. sports should be.

And yes, there are nine-figure adjustments to the aging cathedral that is Dodger Stadium and close to nine-figure adjustments to the rosters of the major league and minor league clubs. (Not sure how this affects the Chattanooga Lookouts, the Dodgers' AA affiliate, but we'll look into it.)

But those questions are for another day for Dodgers fans. This day was about moving forward with new owners. This day was about taking away the pain and the darkness that was arguably the worst decade in the franchise's storied history. This day was about re-found belief.

This day was about believing in Magic.


Payton speaks

After his historic suspension for the 2012 season, New Orleans coach of the past/future Sean Payton spoke to the media Tuesday.

Here are the highlights:

— He's grateful for the chance to appeal Roger Goodell's year-long suspension (and his loss of almost $6 million is salary) for Payton's role in Bounty-gate and his decision to ignore the league's requests and attempts to cover-up the Bounty process.

— He's has spoken with Bill Parcells and apparently played golf with the legendary former NFL coach known as the "Big Tuna." The two sides are obviously kicking the tires on the possibility of Parcells roaming the sidelines for the Saints this fall.

— He's "100 percent" sure he'll be the Saints' coach in 2013.

OK, great Sean. Just great.

First off, skip the appeal. Just do it. You got caught trying to make this mess go away, and that's what the year is for. The bounty is bad enough but if the NFL can;t force the head coaches to enforce their rules, well, the system is broken way beyond Bounty-gate, Spy-gate, Open-gate or even Gateway to the West.

As for the other, for kicks and giggles, let's say Parcells takes the reins, goes 14-2 and wins a title — but does it without bounties and injuring opposing QBs — what happens then in 2013. Hey, Payton is a great coach and he'll have more jobs in the future, but 2013 is a long way off. And if football terms and the NFL realm — where everyone has a bounty on their job — one season is a lifetime.


NBA update

It's been a while sense we've given the NBA a look-see.

Well, there is much noise afoot.

The Lakers have benched Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum on separate occasions in the last week. As Kobe said recently, the Lakers are in third place and everyone believes they are imploding. Maybe they are maybe they aren't, but Kobe still has final say on who is coming out of the West. Period.

Reports from Miami state LeBron James may have dislocated the ring finger on his left (non-shooting) hand. James is on an Oscar Robertson-type pace this season — averaging 26.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game — and looks the part of a sure-fire MVP. How this affects him is unknown of course, but here's saying the numbers and injuries will not alter what will determine James' season. The final factor on whether LeBron had a good year or not will be determined this June in the final quarters of the NBA finals. Period.

There's more of course — Oklahoma City and Chicago pulling away with the conference leads — but the big storylines are the Lakers and LeBron.


This and that

— Dennis Rodman owes more than $850,000 in child support and alimony. His lawyer says Rodman, who made a hair less than $27 million playing for four different NBA teams, is broke and an alcoholic. (Side note: Rodman was the Andrew Luck — the sure-fire No. 1 pick — of the "Which former NBA all-star is going to be broke next after Allen Iverson" draft.)

— Freddie Freeman homered twice in a rare Braves' spring training win Tuesday. Freeman is now up to .262 this spring with five homers — four in the last two games. He'll be fine and be part of a strong top five in the Braves order that likely will be Michael Bourne, Martin Prado, Brian McCann, Dan Uggla, Freeman. That's a nice group. From there, however, it slides — especially until Chipper Jones returns from his knee injury. The strikeout law firm of Heyward, Diaz and whichever rookie plays short has been swinging like rusty gates this spring.

— UConn and Notre Dame completed the women's Final Four, denying our resident UK fan Chas9 of a UK double-up in the Final Four. Alas. The bigger question for the women's game is where have the upsets gone. There were four 1-vs.-2 matchups that produced a Final Four of four No. 1 seeds. Either there is simply zero balance of power or the women's committee is a collection of Joe Lunardis on bracket steroids.

— The New York Giants will host the Dallas Cowboys to open the NFL season. Is that next week? Alas, no it's not until September.

— Programming note: We're planning on stopping by the spacious and luxurious SportTalk studios for some, you guessed it, sports talk around 4ish today. Give it a listen if you can, don't cost nothing.


Today's question

Who's the best coach at the Final Four? Why?

Yes, these are four college basketball big-boy programs. Yes, these are four coaches who have earned some serious accolades.

But who's the best and why? And we're looking right now, at this moment, who would you want to coach your club.

Right now we'd rank them:

  1. Bill Self
  2. Coach Cal
  3. Ricky P
  4. That guy at Ohio State that choose coaching over being a science teacher... Thad what's his name.

(Career-wise, we'd go Pitino, Self, Calipari, Matta, but the question is who is the best coach right now.)


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 ...

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.
Livn4life said...

I'd have to say, all waitresses aside Pitino has done the best job to get his team to the Final Four. Now they may fold when the Kats come purring. Of the four teams, Louisville is the least likely one I'd have thought would be there. As for Payton, it is a tough row to hoe but he made the bed and needs to lie in it(that's posture not untruthtelling). Tuna will come and work the fish magic in Nawluns for one year. But that could illicit a Tunaistic rebirth and who knows where that could lead. It might make New Orleans a Payton-Place! The NBA, anybody can be benched even those top dogs if they do not pony up when the coach calls on them(yeah right). The Lakers have a lot to prove this year and it is yet to be seen that they will do it. LeBron has everything to prove, MVP or not, until he wins the whole shooting match. Could this be the year for the Heat to burn the competition? We'll know soon enough. By the way, when is the Draft(thefiveatspinlovesthedraftyouknow)? I'm tired of hearing about it dissected, misdirected, and speculatively mutilated. When does it actually happen? Spring football has begun.

March 28, 2012 at 11:02 a.m.
chas9 said...

L4L--Good post, especially the waitress line. When discussing Ricky P, you should lay all your cards on the table.

5er--No double double, but the Lady Kats have a bright future. I tend toward your theory tat there's a stratification of women's talent. The Irish sure looked strong.

The men's Final Four is a heartland thing, no coastal teams. Imagine the tight geographic cluster it'd have been if Ohio or Indiana were there in place of Kansas. Kinda like a subway series in baseball. Wonder what's the smallest Final Four geographic circle ever?

March 28, 2012 at 11:38 a.m.

Bill Self. Why? Just look at your list. Cher, Sting, Bill Self, and E.F. Hutton.

March 28, 2012 at 11:46 a.m.
fechancellor said...

10 Spot, I apologize for not addressing your question as to USA or else, definately not Els.

Just a taste on the US side brings Tiger, Phil, Hunter Mahan, Dustin Johnson and Keegan Bradley.

For the Euro Tour there's Luke Donald, Rory, McDowell, Rose, Westwood just to name a few.

I believe the Euros to be as stacked today as they ever where in the 1980's when Seve kicked down the club house door at Augusta bringing all his friends with him including two time champ and Ryder Cup partner José María Olazábal.

March 28, 2012 at 11:57 a.m.
choptalker said...

Any chance Magic comes to pay AT&T Field a visit?

March 28, 2012 at 12:25 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

5ish, One of those satin jackets? Sweet. While Magic's name is the in big lights, how about how key it is for that group to have Stan Kasten on board? (He is, isn't he?) Dude knows something about being baseball organizations.

The best coach in the Final Four? Each one of them. Or at least that's what they think.

There is far, far less parity in the women's game than in the men's game. A Butler gets to two straight final games on the men's side. Since when does a non-power conference team crack the distaff Final Four? Look at the regular season scores and even the postseason scores. Lots of blowouts. No competition can lead to non-interest. (A lot of other things can too but I am trying to be nice).

March 28, 2012 at 1:30 p.m.
jgreeson said...


Well played sir.

Pitino has done a great job the last six-plus weeks getting this group refocused.

And the draft is April 26-28. The 5-at-10 loves the draft, but you already know this.

9er —

We'll look into the circle theory. Interesting idea.


We concur about Self. And which one is Cher? Is there a Lady Gag-Gag in the mix, too?

FE to the C —

We'd take the Euros, too. And think Lee Westwood may have his time in the sun.

Choptalker —

We sure hope so. Our boy Weeds would definitely be in attendance.

— 5-at-10

March 28, 2012 at 1:40 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

Look at you embracing the softer side, and being all polite to women's hoops and everything.

Great call on Kasten. Dude has some serious knowledge. That said, great call by the money folks to make Magic the face of this deal. It's getting huge play and everyone in L.A. loves the dude.

In fact, this move is so popular, there may be folks 10 years from now who will remember McCourt somewhat kindly for being the guy that sold the team to Magic. How crazy would that be?

— 5-at-10

March 28, 2012 at 1:44 p.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent

There's no doubt that Bill Self has done the best job this year. Sure, Pitino's bunch was the lowest seeded team to make the Final Four. They also were preseason #8 and were as high as #4 in December. Kansas, on the other hand, was gutted, and everyone couldn't figure out why they were ranked #13 in the preseason. People were saying that this was the year that Kansas would finally not win the Big 12, and I thought preseason they were a borderline Top 25 team. When they played Kentucky in NYC back in early December (or was it late November- I was the night Coach K set the record for wins against Michigan State, and the Mocs had a game that night too, but I forget against who), Kansas played OK for a half, but were clearly outmatched in the second half. The game was not as close as the final score indicated- UK could have won by 20 if they kept their foot to the pedal. If you told me then that Kansas would be a Final Four team, I would have laughed at you. Louisville was overrated in December too. Calipari is always tough to figure out- he has the best talent every year, and he gets them to perform and even improve while he's coaching them. But his gameday coaching leaves something to be desired. Matta is a great coach (even if he has yet to figure out what this whole substitution pattern thing is), but this is an elite list of coaches. I guess he has to be fourth on the list. It's hard to do better than this list of coaches.

As far as the Braves go, Freddie Freeman needs to save some of those homers for the regular season. I have him on my fantasy team, and want him to hit them when they actually help me. Plus the whole thing about how the spring training games don't count.

Finally, Final Four contest or no?

March 28, 2012 at 1:47 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

and to think ... McCourt was all set to buy his hometown town, the Red Sox, when Bud Selig steered the deal to the Corleones, I mean, John Henry and Tom Werner. Thus begat two World Series titles on one coast and several years of miasma on the other. A lot of folks cried foul on the deal but it turned out to be one of Selig's better maneuvers.

March 28, 2012 at 1:51 p.m.
jgreeson said...

StuckinKent —

Great breakdown. Well-played indeed.

Yes, we're going to have the Kemba Walker Memorial Shootout, Final Four edition.

Here's the ground rules:

Pick two players (can be from the same team can be from different teams); most total points scored wins; submit your picks in the order of which player you think will score the most (first tie-breaker if people submit similar entries will be the points scored from the top dogs — this means if you enter Jared Sullinger and Thomas Robinson, it's not the same exact entry as Thomas Robinson and Jared Sullinger; further tie breakers will be announced as needed).

First prize will be a Final Four T-shirt.

Who's in?

Spy —

It's not one of Selig's finests if your a Dodgers fan, though.

— 5-at-10

March 28, 2012 at 1:57 p.m.
chas9 said...

I was in the buffet line at the club Sunday behind Nick Saban, who was asking this fat cat board member for a raise. But here's the thing. Can you be an actual god if you stand barely 5'7"?

March 28, 2012 at 2:09 p.m.
chas9 said...

I'm in. When's the deadline?

March 28, 2012 at 2:11 p.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

On Saban — of course you can. Look at Tom Cruise. He's like the archiduke of Scientology and dude is like 5-foot-2. In heels.

Deadline will be Saturday at noon.

We'll start with our professed two favorite players not wearing AU uniforms:

5-at-10 — Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Thomas Robinson

— 5-at-10

March 28, 2012 at 2:22 p.m.
mcpell3 said...

Put me down for Tyshawn Taylor and Anthony Davis.

March 28, 2012 at 2:44 p.m.
jgreeson said...

OK, now we're rolling and here's the first list with some of the e-mail entries, too.

5-at-10 — Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Thomas Robinson

McPell — Tyshawn Taylor and Anthony Davis

scole023 — Thomas Robinson and Anthony Davis

Follower — MKG and Jared Sullinger

Tiger — William Buford and Michael Kidd Gilchrist

OTWatcher — Anthony Davis and MKG

— 5-at-10

March 28, 2012 at 2:51 p.m.
chas9 said...

The 5@10 loves T-Rob and MKG. We know this. So what does the 5@10 think of the AP all-American team slotting Isaiah Canaan and Marcus Denmon above the Kentucky phenom?

March 28, 2012 at 3 p.m.
dawg747 said...

Jared Sullinger and Anthony Davis.

March 28, 2012 at 3:05 p.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Hard to argue against Denmon — dude made huge play after huge play for one of the nation's best REGULAR season teams. (And no we're not the least bit bitter about Missouri wrecking our bracket.)

Canaan was what it was — the media voting for the best player for lovable mid-major storyline.

MKG is a better player than each — he will be the No. 2 or No. 3 pick in the draft this summer if he enters — and we can see Denmon making it. Canaan is laughable.

Early this season we called MKG a "Rodrick Rhodes who cared" but that was selling MKG short. Right now, at this young age he's super-shiny Swiss Army knife — a more polished Scottie Pippen — and has the ceiling to be a Carmelo Anthony that plays good-to-great defense. Dude can ball. Period.

Isaiah Canaan... Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. Right.


March 28, 2012 at 3:07 p.m.
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