published Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

5-at-10: Wide array of sports topics that mostly do not include the draft

OK, we're committed to admitting that there is more to sports than the draft. Allegedly.

We're here. We're dear-ly devoted to the draft. Get used to it.

From the "Talks too much studios"

Sexuality shoulder shrug

Everyone is making a huge deal about Jason Collins' decision to come out.

We say, "OK, can he play?"

That's arguably the best thing about sports. It's the closest thing to a meritocracy we have left in our world. If you can play, you can play. It shouldn't matter that you are blue or polka-dotted or tattooed or homosexual or short or whatever.

It has not always been that way of course — and for that reason the folks such as Doc Rivers claiming Collins is like Jackie Robinson are so off base that it does a disservice to Robinson's memory, especially in this time of politically correctness and socially tolerance, by comparison — and those changes are a very good thing.

The knowledge that there have always been gay players in professional sports has always been right in front of us. The numbers — a recent Gallup poll that asked 200,000 people found that 3.5 percent of that group said they were gay; a number that is lower than the popularly referenced 10 percent of the population — tell us there are millions of gay Americans, so to think that none of them play a professional team sport is silly.

Jason Collins just came out of the locker first. Good for him. Good for tolerance. Good for the discourse.

Still, the bigger question in sports should always be, "Can he play?"

And that's how it should be.

————

Braves bounce back

  • photo
    Atlanta Braves' Andrelton Simmons, 19, hits a sacrifice fly to bring in Gerald Laird for the go ahead run against the Washington Nationals during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Atlanta.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

After a brutal three-game sweep at the hands of the Tigers in wet and cold Detroit, your Atlanta Braves claimed a much-needed, come-from-behind 3-2 win over Washington and the Nats' ace Stephen Strasburg.

It was a big win made bigger by the opponent and the setting. (Side note: Anyone else getting a strong Mark Pryor vibe from Mr. Strasburg? We sure are.)

Consider these Braves, who are among the most __ teams in recent memory. Pick a word there and it works. They have been great and terrible. They have been dominant and lost. They have slugged and whiffed; pitched like champs and like chumps. It's going to be the dichotomy ride of the summer.

OK, let's pick two guys here and discuss.

First, Mr. Dan Struggla, he of the 33 strikeouts in 79 at-bats so far. Mark Reynolds struck out a record 223 times in 2009. At his current pace, Struggla will fan 214 times. The reverse of that for Struggla is 14-for-46 (.304) on balls he puts in play. Is that sad or optimistic.

Second, let's consider Mr. Jason Heyward, who went on the DL after having an appendectomy. Before he went on the DL, Heyward was hitting a woeful .121. When he comes back, he'll get a chance to right the ship, but his replacement — Jordan Schafer — has been excellent. Schafer has hit .346 with an on-base percentage of .485 and has been the true leadoff hitter this team covets. He also has five steals in six chances.

But these are the Braves, so we can't expect anything to be easy can we. Well other than handing the ball to Craig Kimbrel and feeling really good about it.

————

NBA update

We have mostly ignored the NBA playoffs because we have been fully consumed by the NFL draft. (We love the draft. You know this.)

That said, we're starting to get re-acquainted with these NBA playoffs.

Here's the five tidbits we feel like sharing:

• The OKC Thunder are operating on borrowed time. No Russell Westbrook makes the Thunder just a mild afternoon distraction.

• The Heatles are the team to beat. After sweeping the Bucks — yes, no great shakes, mind you — LeBron and Co. are resting and waiting. It's hard to see anyone beating the Heatles four times in seven games since they have lost four times total since Jan. 15.

• The Lakers were such a distraction and such an eye sore, we're kind of happy they have been dismissed.

• The Spurs are the perceived favorite in the West since the Thunder has been reduced to a mild storm. That said, we believe the winner of the Grizz-Clippers series will win the West. Call it a hunch.

• The Hawks smell like feet. That is all.

————

This and that

  • photo
    In this fie photo, Tim Tebow holds his first news conference with the New York Jets on March 26, 2012, in Florham Park, N.J.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

— Tim Tebow was released by the Jets on Monday. Much like the Jason Collins news, we ask, "Can he play?" Side question: No one wants to be released, but what do you think the strongest feeling for Tebow was Monday? Sure there was probably some uneasiness about losing your job, but no longer having to deal with the Jets and Rex Ryan had to bring some relief, too, right?

— Good luck to the UTC Mocs women's golf team at the NCAA regional at Auburn.

— We talked some about the falls of Tyler Bray and Da'Rick Rogers in the draft. As our SEC football ace David Paschall tells us here, Georgia's Cornelius Washington's fall to the sixth round was the biggest surprise to Mel Kiper Jr. We're not sure it blew Mel's hair back, but we're pretty sure not much could blow Mel's hair back, if that makes sense. (Side note: Washington's nickname is Corn Wash, and we really like that. That's like the 2.0 version of A-Rod or K-Rod or K-Fed or what have you.)

————

Today's question

Feel free to riff on anything that tickles your fancy.

If you need a starting point, would you want your team to sign Tebow? What about Jason Collins?

Is it possible Dan Uggla's bats are afraid of the curveball? And if he's that much like Pedro Cerano, should we look into getting him a live chicken?

And do not forget the mailbag for Friday.

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.
jomo11 said...

Maybe like Cerano, Uggla needs some golf club head covers, you know "Hats for Bats" ? . . . . heck Rick Camp wouldnt strike out more than Uggla, and he is DEAD !. . . . 214 strikouts at $13 mil a year ( Uggla's pay ) NICE

April 30, 2013 at 10:24 a.m.
fechancellor said...

10 Ring, the only way for a quarterback to make believers out of sceptics is have ten men surrounding him in the huddle during a game. I'm not sure any franchise in the NFL will give him that opportunity at this time. The CFL was the perfect platform for Warren Moon and Doug Flutie to obtain the coveted ticket south back to the League.

Go north, young man!

April 30, 2013 at 11:05 a.m.
chas9 said...

A little weak Hawk praise: They held Indiana to 69 Saturday. But that may be a reflection of how flawed the Pacers are.

Today Pat Kerwin writes that after the draft dust settled, it's clear how many teams (ATL included) are desperate for OT's. A bidding war will ensue.

I hope the Collins announcement and its aftermath are non-events, showing how far we've come.

April 30, 2013 at 11:11 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Jomo —

Nice Rick Camp shoutout. And to continue the Major League riff,

"This guy here is dead"..."Well, cross him off then."

FE to the C —

Well-played indeed. And if we're Chip Kelly, we're interested in Tebow.

9er —

Nice Collins assessment. And as our man StuckinKent pointed out, the Hawks aren't terrible, but we just loathe watching Josh Smith turn what should be the body and skills of an all-NBA 4 into a really frsutrating, 3-jacking, 6-foot-9 waste of talent.

April 30, 2013 at 11:16 a.m.
mcpell3 said...

First a disclaimer, I am not a Tebow fan, but the dude could flat out win. The Jets really did him a disservice by waiting until after the draft to cut him loose. They knew back in Nov/Dec they weren't going to keep him, much less use him.

Uggla doesn't need just a chicken, take him down to market & main and put a whole chicken plant on his bat.

April 30, 2013 at 11:30 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Ten Ring-

I have to admit, comparing Jason Collins decision to come out of the locker with what Jackie Robinson delt with in breaking the color barrier is not even close. Janet Guthrie is more in-line with what Robinson went through to smash barriers (Even though Sara Christian is technically the first to break NASCAR's gender barrier). Doc Rivers is an idiot!

As long as Jason doesn't do anything really stupid (think Northgate Mall restroom stall fiasco that was reported in this very newspaper many moons ago), what he does on his own time is his own business. Just play ball.

Passed over Bravos coverage. It's all Greek to me. ^^()

On the other hand, YUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!! is Smoke'n. He's already starting to surpass Ryan's records from 1973. Don't believe me, you will when you check your mailbox about Thursday or Friday. :P

No, I do not want Tebow playing for the Cowboys or the Titans. Get yee to a male-nunnery I say! Leave thy game to Ceasar's true gladiators who maketh rain at thy Third of Cheetah in Atlanta and packith thy heat at the clubs in Miami. He is but a square peg for a round hole.

April 30, 2013 at 11:54 a.m.
chas9 said...

JMShakespeare--You remind me of the old saw "As long as they don't do it in the street and scare the horses..."

April 30, 2013 at 12:31 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

Whatever their actual opinion, it's doubtful many players will risk David Stern's wrath and six figure fines by insulting Collins. I agree, if he can play, get him out there on the court. If not, move him on out.

What is the record for most strikeouts by one team in a season in the modern era? Not rhetorical.

April 30, 2013 at 12:47 p.m.
MocTastic said...

Why does the cynic in me question Jason Collins' timing? Given his age and ability, he might have finished his NBA career this past season. Wait, what? He is gay? Now, trust me on this, the NBA will quietly pressure a team, if needed, to make sure he will have a roster spot on a team this coming season if he so desires. He has just guareented himself a salary of over a million dollars. The NBA and teams do not want to be accused of descrimination if Jason is cut from a team or does not even get an invite to camp. Jason played for three teams this past season and played in 76 games scoring a total of 82 points for the season. Yet, he will get a contract over some younger more productive player because of public perception. Right or wrong? It is reality.

April 30, 2013 at 12:53 p.m.
jgreeson said...

McPell —

Lutz signed with Rams; Onterio signed with someone... we'll look it up.

Chicken plant for Uggla, huh? That fits because they both stink.

JMC —

Yu has nasty stuff for sure.

Laughter —

The 2010 Arizona Diamondbacks struck out 1,529 times. And yes, Justin Upton was on that team, too.

MocTastic —

Sadly, we had a similar cynical view. What if he doesn't get a gig and files a lawsuit because he and his 1.06 ppg didn't make a team because of his sexual oreintation?

9er —

Thou sayeth, thou maketh.

Be your future, Danny. May. May. Make it.

It's kind of hard with you talking like that.

April 30, 2013 at 1:02 p.m.
MocTastic said...

I had wrong stats, 38 games, sorry

April 30, 2013 at 1:09 p.m.
Stewwie said...

Agreed, MocTastic. Jason Collins was probably finished as an NBA player until he shrewdly timed this announcement. Now a team will probably sign him just for the PR and/or "making history". He may have earned his spot back on the Wizards just because of that. Liberal D.C. will love it.

And comparing Collins to Robinson is absolutely crazy. Gay is not the new black.

Part of me would like to see Tebow be open to playing a different position (i.e. TE) just to get on the field in the NFL. But if he insists on continuing to try his luck at QB, I think he should take his talents to the Great White North and start getting on the field up there. Maybe, just maybe, he can succeed enough to draw interest again from a team in the states.

[That said, we believe the winner of the Grizz-Clippers series will win the West. Call it a hunch.]

Bold pick. I think the winner of that series will make things interesting in the next round, but I don't think they'll get past the Spurs.

April 30, 2013 at 1:49 p.m.
MocTastic said...

Jason Collins would be the MPP (Most Popular Player) on the roster if he signed with the Golden State Warriors next season, it being in the San Francisco area. Either there, the Wizards as Stewwie said.

April 30, 2013 at 1:53 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Jay-

9er wasn't the one talking like that, it was me. :P

Moctastic-

I did read the guy's age and stats and more or less thought "shouldn't he be concluding his caree-ooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhh" ::flips light switch on::

In that case, I would probably have no sympathy. It's one thing to have sencere internal conflict but it's another to play the race/gay/creed card in order to pull an organization's PC strings and win public support for your cause/career extention/etc.

But I'm no sports expert, I just tell the jokes to the keep the audience entertained in between takes. :P

April 30, 2013 at 2:06 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

First, I didn't even know Jason Collins had been playing for the Celtics. And for someone who could once recite the entire rosters for the Celtics from 1972 on, that's saying something.

So what would be more manipulative? Putting Jason Collins, a third center who is essentially at best 12th man, on your team because he is gay? Or not signing him because he is?

I ordinarily like Dan Patrick's show but today three of his first four questions to Steph Curry, who is reviving a moribund Golden State franchise, were about Jason Collins. I mean, these are completely hypothetical questions about a guy whose career may be ending anyway. But how about asking Curry about the playoffs and coming from a mid major to be a NBA star?

The Braves won a game without hitting a homer? Which sign of the apocalypse is this again?

April 30, 2013 at 2:39 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

5, you are so right about the pros. Marketing is one thing; but the cold, hard calculus of whether a guy can play is the ultimate decider. Unless it's New York, and then it's all about getting the back page of the tabs, which in itself is a short-sighted strategy.

And you love "Struggla." Shoulda copyrighted that when I had the chance.

April 30, 2013 at 2:41 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Looks like Geno Smith's first attempt as an NFL quarterback is throwing his agent out of bounds.

If he runs into his guard's backside and fumbles in his first OTA, the Jets franchise may simply get swallered whole by the earth.

April 30, 2013 at 2:45 p.m.
ordinaryguy said...

Hate that I am chiming in late in the day...but a reliable source is saying the local ESPN has gone dark...JG can you verify?

April 30, 2013 at 3:21 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

I see there is some hand-wringing going on concerning the amount of press coverage received by Jason Collins and his announcement. Collins is making more of a name for himself with a personal admission than his play on-the-court. In sports, your numbers and performance and wins and losses always determine the amount of press coverage one receives right? I would like to offer up just a few questions. Did Tim Tebow receive more press coverage last year sitting on the bench for the Jets than Matt Ryan? Does Brad Keselowski get as many commercial offers as Danica Patrick? Was Anna Kournikova the best female tennis player of her time? Had any of you heard of Kris Humphries before he married a Kardashian? Last week, did a linebacker from Notre Dame taken in the second round garner more attention than two linebackers from Georgia taken in the first round?

I agree that in the context of the games we should let merit rule, but if you are outraged that media coverage can become skewed towards certain athletes due entirely to non-sports issues...Where have you been? That ship sailed a long time ago.

April 30, 2013 at 3:24 p.m.
MocTastic said...

Word is JG is out on the course at Mocs Bend with Mocbeats Frierson and Coach Huesman....

Saw a tweet that Chattanooga ESPN had a power outage.

April 30, 2013 at 4:02 p.m.
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