published Thursday, February 21st, 2013

5-at-10: Combine gambles, Braves' spring points, Bubble Games part I, sports movies Oscars

Remember Friday's mailbag and to get in your NASCAR picks for the contest.

From the "Talks to much" studios, let's picture Rock City and click our heels and say, "There's no place like Gnomes. There's no place like Gnomes."

NFL combine issues

We covered potential combine headturners on Tuesday. We covered the quarterbacks on Wednesday.

Today, let's pretend the 5-at-10 is a chief talent evaluator. Here's a look at five cats who we would be taking a long look at or have a long chat with because we believe they have a bright NFL future. Plus, you have to scale these guys — it'd be easy to say, well, we want to scout Luke Joeckel, Jarvis Jones, Barkevious Mingo and Cordarrelle Patterson because we know those guys are good.

No, these are some of the guys that will be available after day 1 who could be longtime NFL contributors.

• David Ricky Rogers, Tennessee Tech: Yep, the man you Johnny Vols Fans know better as Da'Rick will be at the combine and has the physical tools to be a No. 1 receiver for most NFL teams. It's pretty easy to say that Rogers needs to convince clubs he's ready to be a professional as opposed to acting the fool. It's also pretty important.

  • photo
    South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore grabs his right knee after getting hit by Tennessee's Eric Gordon.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

• Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina: We'd make a special point to check his rehab and his progress. The leg injuries he suffered against Tennessee last October could mean you could get first-round value in the third-round if he returns healthy.

• Sean Renfree, Duke: The Cutcliffe-trained quarterback is going to pass the mental tests with flying colors. That said, before we would spend a pick on him, he's going to have to show he can move the ball across the field and into tight spaces at least on an average level. It's great to understand all of the stuff going on during any given pass play, but if you can't do most of the stuff required, well, those guys make great coaches. Ask Steve Spurrier. (Side note: Get ready for a lot of Andy Dalton comparisons with Renfree.)

• Phillip Lutzenkirchen, Auburn: A guy who contributed what ever was asked and who missed a big chunk of the season with injuries, Lutz has the make up of a longtime NFL tight end.

• Robert Lester, Alabama: Not sure how he'll test in the running drills, but we know this: If you played DB under Nick Saban and Kirby Smart, we believe you have an NFL pedigree.

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Spring questions

We were thinking about the start of the new spring season starting on Friday and were about to type, "The new phone books are here, the new phone books are here." It's a line from "The Jerk" which we believe to be one the Rushmore of underrated comedies ever. It gets some love, but it's rarely mentioned among the best ever and it should be. It's that good and it's the movie manifesto of Steve Martin, who is surely a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Where were we? Oh yeah, underrated things and spring training games. Amazingly, there is nothing more overrated that spring training stats. Nothing. Guys hitting .450 against pitchers who are wearing Nos. in the 70s and who may be spending the summer in Chattanooga, Rome or Jackson. No thanks.

Here are three under-the-radar things to watch for this spring for your Atlanta Braves, who start spring training exhibition games Friday (when the new phones books arrive):

• The relationship between catcher-and-pitcher. Brian McCann will be sidelined most of the spring and his return for Opening Day is at best a 50-50 proposition. So with David Ross gone, meet Gerald Laird, the Braves' answer behind the plate for the start of the season.

• How many times the Braves regulars strike out. We like the additions of the Upton family — and if Atlanta could find a way to insert Kate Upton in the lineup, attendance would really skyrocket — and think the Braves potentially have one of the three best lineups in the National League. It's also an order that could set a new mark in strikeouts. Putting the ball in play and getting on base — even against the weaken pitching of February — will be a nice start.

• Who steps into the everyday leadership role. This just in — Chipper Jones retired last year. Tim Hudson is the elder statesman of the bunch, but it takes a special cat to be a leader as a starting pitcher who works every fifth day. We want to see if Freddie Freeman steps into the leadership role (we think he can and will), and if he does will he become just Fred Freeman?

————

Average John's Gym

  • photo
    Kentucky coach John Calipari reacts to his team's play during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Tennessee at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Kentucky coach John Calipari channeled his inner-White Goodman and had the Wildcats playing a little Dodgeball on Tuesday to relieve a little stress before Wednesday's key win over Vandy.

Nice move by a guy that has always been regarded as an elite recruiter but has always been a little underrated as a coach.

The results were a more relaxed team — was that a Ryan Harrow sighting? — and a big win for a UK team that is trying to re-establish its NCAA resume in the wake of losing Nerlens Noel. We believe the Wildcats to be on the bubble with an inside track to the Dance.

We believe the same about UNC.

We're looking forward to StuckinKent sharing his bubble-watch teams some time today. With that in mind, here are three games this weekend that are of huge, Huge, HUGE import for the teams involved. We're committed to looking at bubble games each Thursday from now through Selection Sunday. Deal? Deal.

• Tennessee going to Texas A&M — The Vols have to keep rolling and any road win is a good win in February. The Aggies' chances are fading and would be snuffed with a home loss.

• Marquette at Villanova — This likely is an elimination game for Villanova.

• Missouri at Kentucky — Kind of a Mad Max Thunderdome kind of game: "Two teams enter, one team leaves" feeling good about their NCAA chances. Side note: Coach Cal is going to get his team ready for the road test with a game of Whiffle Ball.

————

This and that

— Mike Tyson is suing Live Nation for $5 million on the grounds the financial services firm embezzled from the former heavyweight champ. We think Tyson should win this ruling on sheer principal; what's the over-under on how much money Tyson has had taken from him by agents, hangers-on, et al.? We'll stat the bidding at $50 million.

— The Lakers honored longtime owner Jerry Buss, who died earlier this week, with a nice win over Boston on Wednesday night. That's all we have because ESPN has the market cornered on Lakers' updates... Wait, we think Dwight Howard may be grumpy this morning; let's get a reaction to how Kobe's going to deal with it and whether Mike D'Antoni is handling that exchange properly. Yes, that was typed in a sarcastic font.

— Of more NBA import was the 46 points Beard Harden dropped on OKC. Hey, the Thunder are going to be in the thick of this thing until the end, but there will come a key moment some time in late spring that the absence of James Harden will leave the Thunder cloudy.

— Nice win for Kansas, prevailing at Oklahoma State in double overtime. Each of those teams will be top-four seeds; neither would finish in the top four of the Big Ten.

— Today's the NBA trade deadline. Just passing that along.

— Remember the Hit and Miss Daytona 500 contest. Send us who you think will win and where Danica finishes. You could win stuff.

————

Today's question

We were asked for the mailbag, "What's your Oscar-style list of sports movies — best picture, best actor, best actress, supporting actor, supporting actress?"

We'll share our answer tomorrow, but we thought everyone would like to share their views on this one.

Enjoy, and discuss.

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.
ordinaryguy said...

Perhaps a day early but here goes with the Oscar buzz...why not...Best Sports Movie - Rocky ...Best Actor - Mickey Rourke, unless you know the business as well as I do, this is what the world of professional wrestling is really like...Best Actress - Susan Sarandon in Bull Durham...Best Supporting Actor has to be Joe Pesci in Raging Bull...Best Supporting Actress we have to go back to "The Wrestler" and Marisa Tomei the hottest 40+ alive today...

February 21, 2013 at 10:24 a.m.
ordinaryguy said...

Oh and just an FYI...As I stated earlier this week, Walking Dead destroyed the NBA in the Sunday night TV ratings

February 21, 2013 at 10:32 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

There's a Miss Daytona 500 contest? I thought Jeff Gordon already had that locked up. (Thank you, thank you, you've been a lovely audience. Please tip your wait staff. They work hard for your money).

Best Picture - Hoosiers.

Best Actor - Gene Hackman (There's even a question about this? Seriously?)

Best Actress - Lea Thompson for All The Right Moves. (I woulda said Jessica Lange in that movie about the "fictional" LSU football hero with Dennis Quaid, I'll be danged if I can think of the name of it on an hour of sleep.)

Best Supporting Actor - Rip Torn "Dodgeball"

Best Supporting Actress - Cynthia Gibb "Youngblood"

February 21, 2013 at 10:43 a.m.
ordinaryguy said...

bispy I believe the movie was titled "everybody's all american"...but I will possibly concede the movie...but nobody tops Mickey Rourke, he should have actually won the oscar for that film

February 21, 2013 at 10:47 a.m.
choptalker said...

Hah! Fred

February 21, 2013 at 10:57 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Jay wrote-

"Mike Tyson is suing Live Nation for $5 million on the grounds the financial services firm embezzled from the former heavyweight champ. We think Tyson should win this ruling on sheer principal; what's the over-under on how much money Tyson has had taken from him by agents, hangers-on, et al.? We'll stat the bidding at $50 million."

Live Nation is a ticket management service who was in charge of promoting Tyson's one-man show that was suppose to be at the Verizon Center here in D-town in a few days. The DMN reported the "performance", if you want to call it that, was cancelled on Tuesday as well as the rest of the tour. It did not given an exact reason other than people who bought tickets will recieve an email stating how to get a refund.

This at least answers the question at hand.

February 21, 2013 at 10:59 a.m.
chas9 said...

5-ball--Why should Mr. Freeman's upgrade stop with Fred? He could go straight to Frederick. Or Frederique. Or use Mr. Rogers' exotic spelling, Fred'rick.

When you think about it, it's not a leader's name. History gives us underachieving Freds: Flintstone, Freeloader, Sanford. Not a CEO or President among them. Mr. McGriff was so ashamed of the wimpy name he had us call him "Crime Dog," not Fred.

And I can't even think of leaders named Andrelton without laughing.

With his experience, including World Series, Laird may become a Braves' leader, and I expect him to be a better catcher than Ross.

I haven't seen the Dodgeball video. WCS claims to have an 85-mile-per-hour fastball. Did he victimize his teammates in a way that leaves a mark?

Agree that Cal's fun sports are a smart move, and getting any W may have stopped a psychological spiral, but beating weak sister Vandy by four in Rupp is the definition of lower expectations.

As you say, Mizzou will tell the tale. I'll hold my breath and take KY in The Thunderdome, but I think The Cats are on the outside track around the bubble, not the inside.

A&M is tough at home with its 6th man, or 12th man, or something like that. I'll pick The Aggies to stop The Marvelous McRaes' streak.

February 21, 2013 at 10:59 a.m.
chas9 said...

Spy's right that Gordon's purty, all right. And Rip Torn's terrific.

Million Dollar Baby's award worthy and Bull Durham's got to get some of the little statues. I like Sarandon especially.

I'll give the upcoming 42 some kind of award for using Engel Stadium.

But there's no crying in Dodgeball.

February 21, 2013 at 11:12 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Million Dollar Baby is not an easy movie to watch. I recommend watching it one time but it will emotionally drain you. However, of all of Morgan Freeman's performances, that one is actually one my top favorite. Especially that brief moment when he "steps briefly out of retirement" to take care of a thug in the boxing gym. Even the line he used at the end was funny.

I know racing and the combine are the topic dejour but in reality I have no stakes so I unfortunately don't care. Luckily, Ranger talk is starting to pick-up steam so any audio nuggets on that are nice on the drive home.

Congrats on JR's 1,000th game. Unfortunately, I will not be watching online due to the fact I feel no mojo to want to watch it. I still believe Krystal needs to make a collectable Jim Reynolds cup or glass or have a Coke make a bottle. But that's just me.

February 21, 2013 at 11:41 a.m.
orangeguy said...

I think McCann is the leader in Braves clubhouse now. Vocal guy, longest tenured. Plenty to be excited about the future of the franchise. Young arms, young mashers. That said, I hate strikeouts and double plays. Expect to see plenty of both this season & beyond.

May get laughed off the board here, but I'll take Cuba Gooding Jr as Rod Tidwell in Jerry Maguire for Best Supporting actor. It's not really a sports movie, but Tidwell's a great sports character. Not quite David Rickey level diva, but still a good baseline for today's special athlete.

Thought Brad Pitt was excellent in Moneyball for best actor. Can't go wrong with Hoosiers as best picture. Sandra Bullock in Blindside for best actress. For grins & giggles, give me Bobby Bouchée's momma for best supporting actress.

February 21, 2013 at 11:49 a.m.
chas9 said...

OG--I'll toast Cuba with a McCann Merlot.

JMC--Don't think the JR commemorative bottle can be the classic Coke shape, because it's sorta the inverse of Jim's physique.

February 21, 2013 at 12:11 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Oh dear word was Cuba Gooding guilty of the worst overacting this side of Al Pacino in "Scent of a Woman" where Pacino played a guy playing Pacino playing a role.

Sorry ... I just hated "Jerry Maguire." Other than Jay Mohr, it bored me silly or made me cringe with a collection of bad acting.

Braves leader now? Can't be McCann until he starts playing again. By default, it may have to be Heyward, unless one of the Uptons takes the reins in the spring.

February 21, 2013 at 12:21 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Gang, great list and star to the day.

OG —

Rourke was great, but... (ducking)... wrestling is not a sport.

Spy —

How did Gordon do in the swimsuit judging... not that there's anything wrong with that.

And as inspired as Rip Torn was, Cynthia Gibb... well-played indeed sir.

choptalker —

Any other Braves' questions you want to kick around.

JMC —

We think a JR Bobblehead should be part of tonight's activities. That would be a strong spring for sure.

Wow, a Morgan Freeman Rushmore would be special... Sounds like a mailbag. Deal? Deal.

9er —

Hmmm. Best leader named Fred. Astaire? McMurray as the patriarch in My Three Sons.

In truth, since the last couple of leaders have been a Chipper, a Tommy and longtime skipper Bobby Cox (who was replaced by Fredi G) maybe this Romper Room could be led by a Freddie.

Orange —

Yes, this team will have loads of strikeouts and GiDPs. And homers. It will be last in blown saves, however.

Cuba won an Oscar for his portrayal of T.O. aka Rod Tidwell, right? We know Bullock did for playing Michael Oher's mama. And Kathy Bates (mama Bouchee) won a statue for "Misery" so that's a star-studded group you got there.

Pit was good in Moneyball and very good in "A River Runs Through It" with Craig Sheffer, who was the QB in the program with Omar Epps, who is the Deion Sanders of sports movies.

Where were we?

February 21, 2013 at 12:25 p.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent (Part I)

Here's your initial Bubble Watch (you got me started, so I couldn't resist).

Quickly, here is how I do this. If a team lost the rest of their games, would they be guaranteed to be in? Then they are a lock. If a team won the rest of their games, would they be in the discussion? Then I include them on the bubble. I may occasionally leave someone off who shouldn't, but mostly this keeps me from eliminating teams too early in the process. It also means that during the last two weeks (March 4-March17 this year), I spend a lot of time eliminating the "extras" that have made my list and moving teams to lock status. So, if you think this list looks too stingy on the locks and too expansive on the bubble, it probably is. But I've used the same process for years, and have had success with it (catching bubble teams before other major sites- ESPN, CNNSI, etc- and not locking teams before they are really a lock), so here it goes. Every team on this list has an RPI in the Top 100 at the moment, which, if they are from a major conference, gives them a shot to move up into range. Some teams are hanging by a thread. I'll try to update every Thursday from here on out.

February 21, 2013 at 12:26 p.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent (Part II)

Breakdown: LOCKS: 13 GUARANTEED ONE BID LEAGUES: 15 SPOTS AVAILABLE: 40 TEAMS ON THE BUBBLE: 66

Locks: Miami, FL, Duke, Kansas, Kansas State, Syracuse, Georgetown, Louisville, Indiana, Michigan State, Michigan, New Mexico, Florida, Gonzaga One Big Leagues: America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, CAA, Horizon, Ivy, MAAC, MEAC, Northeast, Patriot, Southern, SWAC, Summit

Bubble Teams: Atlantic 10: VCU, Butler, Saint Louis, LaSalle, Xavier, Charlotte, Temple, Massachusetts, St. Josephs, Richmond ACC: Virginia, North Carolina State, North Carolina, Maryland, Florida State Big 12: Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Baylor Big East: Marquette, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Villanova, St. John's, Providence Big Ten: Wisconsin, Ohio State, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa C-USA: Memphis, Southern Miss MAC: Akron, Ohio Missouri Valley: Wichita State, Creighton, Indiana State, Northern Iowa Mountain West: Colorado State, UNLV, San Diego State, Air Force, Boise State, Wyoming OVC: Belmont Pac 12: Oregon, Arizona, UCLA, Arizona State, California, Colorado, Stanford SEC: Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas A&M Southland: Stephen F. Austin (I can't resist a team with three losses, even with two losses in the Southland and a terrible SOS) Sun Belt: Middle Tennessee WCC: Saint Mary's, BYU WAC: Louisiana Tech

Did you know that the Mountain West is the top rated conference per RPI rankings? Wow.

GAMES INVOLVING A BUBBLE TEAM TONIGHT: Georgia at Arkansas Cincinnati at Connecticut Penn State at Illinois Utah at Colorado Stanford at Oregon State LaSalle at Temple BYU at Saint Mary's

February 21, 2013 at 12:27 p.m.
ordinaryguy said...

I figured that you would say that jay...i need to take you to a show to let you see how bad these guys are physically wrecked lol

February 21, 2013 at 12:28 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Stuck —

Wow. Just wow.

Do we need to apologize/write a note to your employer for the multiple hours you invested in that list? Wow.

OG —

Have been to plenty of rasslin' matches in the day. There's no doubt these guys are athletic and doing untold damage to their bodies.

Still, it's rigged, so = entertainment.

That said, Rourke, Marissa and the movie were all super strong.

— 5-at-10

February 21, 2013 at 12:37 p.m.
sportsfan said...

Jay - Here's my sports movie Oscar nominees. Best Picture - Caddyshack, Best Actor - Will Ferrell In Talledega Nights, Best Actress - in a tie (just because)...Kathy Ireland in Necessary Roughness and Rachel Ward in Against All Odds, Supporting Actor - Bill Murray in Caddyshack, Supporting Actress - Tatum O'Neal in Bad News Bears (I'm older than I look).

February 21, 2013 at 12:42 p.m.
ordinaryguy said...

hats off to you jay we semi agree...now its time for the sports dept to do a youtube harlem shake...I had to last week...its the TFP's turn

February 21, 2013 at 12:48 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Sportsfan —

Well played. Tatum O'Neal also has an Oscar (she was the youngest winner ever, we think).

Kathy Ireland does not have an Oscar but she certainly has the "talents" for a lot of things.

OG —

Tomei may be one of actings really under-appreciated talents considering her range, from bit parts on Seinfeld, her Academy Award-winning effort in My Cousin Vinny (great film), The Wrestler and even The Paper (way underrated movie).

As for the Harlem Shake... we got a better chance landing the lead in the remake of Harlem Nights.

— 5-at-10

February 21, 2013 at 1:17 p.m.
fechancellor said...

10 Ring, going with Slap Shot. The Oscar for best actor goes to Paul Newman, best supporting actors, The Hanson Brothers.

The Lou Gehrig movie has a way of getting inside me, plus Jackie Cooper stars.

Here's a sleeper, Strategic Air Command with Jackie Stewart and June Allison.

February 21, 2013 at 1:55 p.m.
jgreeson said...

FE to the C —

Love the SlapShot call.

Didn't Gary Cooper star in the Pride of the Yankees. (Jackie Cooper was one of the Lil Rascals if memory serves.)

— 5-at-10

February 21, 2013 at 2:09 p.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show (and bubble guru) StuckinKent

No need to apologize. I actually compiled the list mid-week, and just updated it before sending it to you- took about twenty minutes total, as long as most people take for a smoke break (which I don't).

February 21, 2013 at 2:09 p.m.
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