published Monday, June 3rd, 2013

5-at-10: Game 7, Braves rolling, the best written TV shows and worst diplomats

Morning. Hope the weekend treated you as well as you deserved.

From the "Talks too much" studios, let's get to it before Roy Hibbert drops an F-bomb.

Game 7

All the posturing and stares, the praise and the criticism, the cheers and the jeers are background noise now.

The historical debates about who is better are meaningless and the talk of dynasty is lip service.

This is Game 7, and these are the moments that define players who want to be included among the elite.

LeBron James, this is your moment. Good or bad, these are the moments that define great players

Sure, as our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer says here, without James the Heat would have been swept in this series. But how we got here is no longer pertinent. (Side note: And because it has been an interesting discourse through this series and we have enjoyed talking about the perception of officiating, we'll bring this up: We're interested in your views on the critical offensive foul that was whistled on LeBron in Game 6. James attacked the rim where Roy Hibbert, who was inside the offensive foul arc, met him in the air. James went hard at the basket with both hands on the ball; Hibbert tried to defend and brought his arms forward. The calls was a push-off on LeBron, which led to two technicals. And yes, James' reaction was down right 9-year-oldish, so we have no problem with T. The offensive foul, however... Thoughts?)

Either way, we're here and the rest is a footnote. Because LeBron is the best player on the planet, winning is the only answer. In fact, James and the Heat have way more to lose than they have to win in this moment. A win is the expectation, the baseline, and meeting expectations is a good thing but not the measure of history. History is gauged in totals, and if James' title total does not continue to ascend, then it doesn't matter if he walks on water or scores 50 a game, his historical place will be trivial by comparison.

And moments like this shape that historical mosaic. It's Game 7 wins — decisive efforts in decisive moments — that lead to championships and championships provide the framework around the legend.

James is 1-2 in Game 7s — he's 1-0 with the Heat — but this hardly seems like the Heat that was the terror of the NBA for almost all of 2013. In fact, if the Pacers win tonight, it would be the Heat's first back-to-back defeats since Jan. 8 and 10.

But that doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh continue to look like they couldn't play dead in a Western. This is on LeBron. Period. If he has to score 45, then so be it. If he has to guard Pacers center Roy Hibbert, then so be it. If he has to crack Bosh's 2-foot neck, then so be it.

Fair or not, that's how it is for superstars, especially in big moments and on the biggest stages. And LeBron is the biggest superstar in basketball and this is the biggest stage.

It's Game 7. Whatcha' got? Who you got?

————

Go Smoke

  • photo
    Driver Tony Stewart performs a burnout after he won a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, June 2, 2013, at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Del.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

We've always been a fan of Tony Stewart. Like his passion and his respect his talent. (Side note: Say what you want about his temper or his quick lip, but never say Tony Stewart can't drive. Dude is the living image of one the best and truest definitions of sports excellence: He could take his and beat yours and take yours and beat his.)

It was nice to see Stewart end his 30-race losing skid. The sport is more fun when he is in the mix.

It also was very eye-opening to see NASCAR black-flag Jimmie Johnson for trying to jump the restart late in the race. It likely cost Johnson the win and looked to be the right call.

Still, it was definitely surprising.

Heck, who in a million replay reviews would have guessed LeBron James would have fouled out of a playoff game and Jimmie Johnson would be called to pit row late in a NASCAR race in the same 10-day stretch. Maybe Stewwie's right and the officiating is getting better?

————

Braves keep going

Atlanta took two of three from Washington this weekend to stretch their lead to 6.5 games in the NL East. It is the biggest lead in baseball.

And Atlanta continues to win — they are 12 games over .500 — with its swing and miss and swing, swing again mentality.

Hey, Danny Struggla has struck out at least once in nine consecutive games, and is on pace for 203 Ks. That would be an excellent total for a starting pitcher; for your everyday second baseman who is making more than $13 million per year, not so much.

There is going to come a point that Braves manager Kid Fresh Fredi G has some tough decisions to make.

Those decisions — sitting Struggla for Ramiro Pena, who is hitting .325; sitting Heyward for Schafer; etc. — can wait as long as the Braves are winning.

But when the five-game losing streak comes or when the Braves drop 10 of 12 — and those things likely will happen because baseball is a long season and you have to trust it — then how those questions are answered will likely shape this club's fate.

————

This and that

— Tough news for UTC, with projected starting defensive end Vantrell McMillian having knee surgery, as UTC football ace John Frierson/Ned Ryerson tells us here.

— Matt Kuchar won Jack's tournament on the PGA Tour, edging a couple of young go-getters and clipping Tiger Woods by a mere 20 shots. Good for Kuch, who answered last week's Sunday meltdown in style and really appears to be a favorite going into the U.S. Open at Merion.

— And we've discussed this topic before, but it never gets old. This time the list is from the Writers Guild of America and it's called, "The best written TV shows of all time." Here's their top 10:

  1. The Sopranos
  2. Seinfeld
  3. The Twilight Zone (1959)
  4. All in the Family
  5. M*ASH
  6. The Mary Tyler Moore Show
  7. Mad Men
  8. Cheers
  9. The Wire
  10. The West Wing

— As for that list, well, it's pretty stout. We think 8, 9 and 10 each could be higher — the first few years of West Wing was exceptionally well-written. Also, we think Friday Night Lights should be somewhere in the mix.

————

Today's question

Hey, if we were to write a book on international diplomacy, well, it would not be as long as most 5-at-10 entries.

That said, and after Dennis Rodman's stint chatting with North Korea's leaders, we get word that Steven Seagal is serving as a guide for some GOP bigwigs as they tour Russia.

Sweet buckets of pony tails and neck tats, who's next? Are we going to turn on the TV and see Whoopi Goldberg trying to lead peace talks in the Middle East?

OK, who would be the worst American celebrity to hear is playing some role in international relations? We'll start with Lindsay Lohan and could be talked into a little O.J. Simpson.

Thoughts?

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...

Jay- the news about Roy Hibbert being fined $75,000 for a homophobic slur and the national outrage, media, etc. . .my question to you, Why is it ok for an athlete to take the Lord's name in vain during a press conference or on the floor or field and there is NO outrage or fine for that. Considering it would insult and be hurtful to alot of people also ? . . . .

June 3, 2013 at 10:06 a.m.
MocTastic said...

JoMo11, you know your answer, it is okay to bash the Christian religion, especially Catholics, ie see Gordon Gee of OSU most recently. Had Gee said that about Muslims, he would have been removed from his job, and probably had a fatwa issued for his death. But the Islamic faith, homosexuality, and other issues are politically correct now, but Christianity isn't. Islamic kids are given the right to leave school to pray: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/31/16791998-maryland-school-allows-muslim-students-to-leave-class-to-pray?lite Yet, the courts hammer when a Christian prayer is offered: http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/20...

June 3, 2013 at 10:25 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Jomo —

That's an excellent question with definite mailbag potential.

Our short answer is pretty simple: In this country, Christian religious groups are considered the majority, so it's not considered discriminatory. Insulting yes, but insults are not enough to generate the NYC hand-wringing that comes with a racial slur or a sexuality zinger.

Great question.

June 3, 2013 at 10:27 a.m.
jgreeson said...

MocTastic —

We need to find a way to work "fatwa" into our lexicon.

Great word choice. Well-played indeed.

The options are limitless.

5-at-10

June 3, 2013 at 10:35 a.m.
LaughingBoy said...

Lebron gets far more calls than his opponent/defender gets. There were some badly missed calls even in the game he fouled out, so he could have been out earlier. The offensive foul looked as if it could go either way but it wasn't an outrageously bad call after I saw it again later, watching in a restaurant as it happens isn't the best view. As said last week, it's because of who it was on and because of the time that it's memorable. The uproar over it takes away from the Pacers annihilating the Heat inside.

Hibbert's little slur isn't much of a slur..I was thinking he'd dropped the F-bomb that rhymes with maggot when I first heard of the $75,000 fine.

Mad Men doesn't do much for me. Hill Street Blues could be on the list.

June 3, 2013 at 10:46 a.m.
MocTastic said...

I am waiting to see how somebody is going to work Michael Douglas into this conversation. :)

June 3, 2013 at 10:56 a.m.
ordinaryguy said...

Once again PC rules...the days of speaking your mind are over, just ask Chris Broussard! Where are the apologies to Tim Tebow for all the garage he had to take for his faith? If I insult you, SO WHAT, I spoke what I felt and you have to let it go.

MocTastic is exactly right, had Gee made remarks regarding Muslims he would have been fired, keelhauled, whipped, drawn and quartered by the world wide leader and every journalist in the world. However, because it was a slap at Catholics, he is just being made fun of and given a free pass.

Is poetic justice about to take place with the Heat?

Granted Lebron is a great player there is no doubt, but this slobbering love affair with the Heat is out of control, and almost beyond ridiculous.

Smoke definitely needed the win, although would have been nice to see Juan Pablo win his first on an oval. Kudos to DW for saying Danica will be the first of this year's rookies to win a race.

Dang just felt a big breeze outside. Oh that was just Uggla wiffing again.

TV writing, no so sure on the Friday Night Lights, altough will give you that one. The original Bob Newhart Show should be considered, clever stuff! At least "Small Town Security" is not mentioned.

June 3, 2013 at 10:56 a.m.
ordinaryguy said...

MocTastic just did not have the heart to offend anyone, but interesting that Douglas talks about this right on the heels of playing Liberace in a HBO film

June 3, 2013 at 10:57 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

MASH after the first five years ... not so much. Got extraordinarily preachy. I would put in either The Larry Sanders Show and a darkhorse of Modern Family.

Wonder how many David Stern-directed traveling violations will be called on Indiana on inbounds plays tonight ... before they even get the ball inbounds.

Worst celebrity to play any role in international relations? Doesn't this begin and end with the word "Kardashian"?

June 3, 2013 at 11:09 a.m.
ordinaryguy said...

Worst celebrity to be involved in foreign relations? Hands down Gary Busey!

June 3, 2013 at 11:10 a.m.
jgreeson said...

OG —

Gary Busey is an inspired call. And the Newhart Show (both of them) were high quality TV. In fact, the original Bob Newhart Show was a front-runner to something Seinfeld and Simpsons perfected, and that was giving fringe characters an identity and re-occuring parts.

Spy —

You're so right about MASH. In fact, we'll make the claim that after Henry Blake croaked, the show was never the same. Until then, it was slap money.

We thought Kardashians would be a popular choice.

MT —

Yes, we saw the Douglas story. Wonder if it was his choice of bedroom activities or the 40 years he spent smoking and drinking that caused it.

Laughter —

Not sure LeBron gets more calls than anyone else per se, considering he has the ball in his hands way more and drives to the rim more than most.

— 5-at-10

June 3, 2013 at 11:24 a.m.
Stewwie said...

In regard to LeBron's offensive foul in Game 6, I see it as a 50/50 call. On one had, Hibbert jumped up from the restricted area and had his hands forward (thus he was not entirely "straight up"). On the other hand, LeBron led with his knee and forearm and Hibbert ended up hitting the floor in a non-flopping way. That said, I think either call by the ref could have been justified on that play. And if the game were being played in Miami, I think LeBron would have gotten the benefit of that call.

Agreed with the above comments in regard to the double standard in the media's and NBA's handling of certain comments. In regard to what Hibbert said, since when is "homo" a gay slur? What's next? The word "gay"? The p.c. police have won again apparently. If anything, Hibbert should have only been fined for his cursing at the reporters.

June 3, 2013 at 11:27 a.m.
LaughingBoy said...

Maybe a higher percentage.

June 3, 2013 at 11:29 a.m.
John_Proctor said...

It hasn't been on long but The Newsroom is really well-written. Trouble is, which of the others listed would I drop to include it? That is where we would differ.

June 3, 2013 at 11:50 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Stewwie —

You are probably right about the call going the other way in Miami.

This likely won't shock you, but we thought it was an awful call that penalized LeBron for being bigger and stronger than most any other ball-handler in NBA history.

Was it the difference? No, the difference was Dwyane Wade playing DeWayne Wayne from that awful 1980s Cosby spinoff.

Still.

Laughter —

Maybe.

June 3, 2013 at 11:53 a.m.
jgreeson said...

JP —

Great point about dropping one, because they all are pretty top shelf.

Have heard good things about Newsroom — which we think is written by Sorkin, who did the West Wing.

June 3, 2013 at 11:54 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

5, I still say the Braves have to address the Struggla situation sooner rather than later. For one, it has gone on far too long. Two, you can survive now because the rest of the NL East reeks (nobody else is above .500, though I think the Phillies are the closest to putting together a hot streak and tightening things up).

But to paraphrase Cliff Robertson from "Three Days of the Condor": Not now. But then. When the Braves run into deeper pitching staffs (I'm looking at you San Francisco and St. Louis), Struggla's Ks will be even more pronounced, especially if he makes the long walk back to the dugout with ducks on the pond, like Friday night.

I don't consider Ramiro Pena a long-term solution but right now, he is playing better than Struggla and projects to do so, given Struggla has never hit above .233 with the Braves and he's already struck out ... this can't be right, but it is ... 394 times in two and a half seasons.

June 3, 2013 at 11:59 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

Yep, the Struggla questions will linger all summer.

How about these stats:

Joe DiMaggio — 13 years (1736 games) in the majors, 369 Ks

Danny Struggla — 2.5 years (366 games) in Atlanta, 394 Ks

June 3, 2013 at 12:04 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

How will Puig do in LA..I was able to see him a few times for the Lookouts and potentially, the sky seems like the limit. And he's already used to that 100 MPH freeway speed.

June 3, 2013 at 12:06 p.m.
fechancellor said...

10 Ring, our next national shame will be Snooky and/or the Situation touring Russia on Putin's dime. Putin then says, "Now, Russian people, the people of Puskin, do you see the untalented decadence of USA. This is more severe than it was during the Cold War. This is why I prefer censorship to syndication."

Maybe better would be a tour of Syria and the Bekaa Valley.

MAS*H, (The funny seasons 1-3 only), WKRP, LA Law, The Andy Griffith Show, The Rockford Files South Park, The Simpsons (before turn of century), Hill Street Blues.

June 3, 2013 at 12:10 p.m.
MocTastic said...

Just went out that Braves dealt Juan Francisco to Brewers for minor league LHP, reliever, Thomas Keeling. He plays for local team to me, he is okay, but not ready for prime time in Atlanta...probably will go to Mississippi Braves.

June 3, 2013 at 12:14 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Two hours into the five and ten and we're already up to 20 comments, dang!:

MT- Agree with you about Islam and it points to the reason why I see anybody wearing anything remotely Islamic I go the opposite direction. I know this is painting with a broad brush but unless they make us lose the mindset that they're the MS-13 of the world's religions, it's not going to get any better.

Regarding Michael Douglas, yes, we can make Liberace comments but what he believes caused the diagnosis is more in line with Rachael Meddow taking a tour of Carpets of Dalton because she thinks they have an all-you-can-eat buffet. (I know that's pushing it Jay but 1) It was too easy and 2) Does she really think anyone takes her seriously?

I'm a little more liberal on M-A-S-H as to when they jumped the shark. I liked some of the post Henry Blake episodes. To me, it started getting bad when Radar left to go back to Iowa and Clinger had to take over communication ops.

Seinfeld is one of those rare shows (in my opinion) that was lousy at first and found their stride later on in the run. All In The Family is one of those shows I really don't think you can pull off today. The Twilight Zone, despite its budget restraints for that period, is money across the board. The fact that the material can stand the test of time makes it a rare gem.

Some of my personal favorites (not on the list) include "The Wonder Years" (even though I wish they produced one more season so we would get to see everyone graduate) and for the very few sci-fi buffs in the room, the later seasons of "Star Trek - The Next Generation".

June 3, 2013 at 12:41 p.m.
Buschleague said...

5, Don't follow the roundball much until June, but when I do I'm always astounded by all the home team calls. Look for 'Hibberts Homos' signage all over the arena tonight and the whole Pacers team to foul out by halftime thus the Heatles move on to the finals. Ted Nugent gets the nod for worst ambassador.

Stay thirsty friend

June 3, 2013 at 12:46 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

I nearly choked on a biscuit I was eating when I came across the Steven Seagel article. What made me concerned was the fact these congressional representatives, these "elected" congressional representatives actually take this seriously? What's he doing with ties to Russian intelligence or Chechnyan leaders? I know we've had celebrities offer their services for our country (Audrey Murphy, Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable) but this sort of stuff is exclusively reserved for people who work for the State Department and Central Intelligence with "years" of expertise in foreign relations. Not conspiracy-minded formal marshal artists who hasn't had a hit movie since 1990. O_O;;

Also, I DEFINITELY wish to concur JP's add-on for Newsroom. ::Dead Serious:: Go to YouTube and type in "Newsroom - The three most honest minutes in the history of television." You'll agree with 100% of it.

June 3, 2013 at 1:10 p.m.
Stewwie said...

[Was it the difference? No, the difference was Dwyane Wade playing DeWayne Wayne from that awful 1980s Cosby spinoff.]

It may have made a difference in that the call and the subsequent 2 Ts pretty much killed any chance of a comeback for the Heat at that point. But good point about Wade. Dude needs to step up and play like an All-Star. And where in the world is Chris Bosh? That guy has been virtually useless since Game 3.

It will be interesting to see how LeBron approaches this game. Will he focus on trying to get his teammates going in the 1st quarter to try to get their confidence back? Or will he take charge from the opening tip and try carry the team on his back the entire time?

And how has LeBron not been fined for flopping in Game 6 on a play while guarding Paul George? That one was pretty obvious.

June 3, 2013 at 1:34 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

NASCAR's just more fun when Tony Stewart's involved. He's a terrific driver, and don't forget his ability on the open wheel circuit, and he is not afraid to speak his mind. There's as little governor on his speech and motor patterns as there is on his car's motor.

June 3, 2013 at 1:41 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

If cheatin' refs give this to the Heat I'll probably be looking for a new television, one without a remote control thrown through the screen.

June 3, 2013 at 1:43 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

Steven Seagal International Diplomat? His diplomacy skills could not be any worse than his acting skills. Did anyone else see where Seagal recently took credit for teaching UFC fighter Anderson Silva the moves he used to win a fight. The chop-saki thespian then followed that by challenging Randy Couture to a fight. So Seagal has an overinflated ego, smug sense of self-importance and has not done anything of note in years...Heck, I'm surprised he's not in congress. He has all the qualifications.

As for other bad idea celebrity international delegates, I'm thinking we should keep Mel Gibson away from any middle east peace talks.

And concerning the well written television shows I think "The Sopranos" is the most challenging to properly place in history. The first two seasons I would rank number one all-time. After that, I don't know if it would even crack the top ten. That show fell off fast.

June 3, 2013 at 2:54 p.m.
Todd962 said...

The PC world we live in is getting out of control, and the only people this Hibbert fiasco is actually going to hurt are the pasty skinned youths of America.

Background story: When two heterosexual men are preparing to go outside (such as the beach, lake or any shirtless environment for that matter.) and there are no members of the opposite sex within the adjacent vicinity, it is common knowledge that you ask your fellow man "hey bro, you mind getting my back, no gay." (or homo as Mr. Hibbert chose to use) They are then at liberty to apply suntan lotion with the knowledge that all parties involved are not deriving any kind of erotic enjoyment from the process.

Now tell me this, if this common phrase is irradicated from our daily vernacular, who is going to answer for all the red-skinned (I mean that in the literal sense, not the Native American term) , blistered, and peeling kids walking around cause they no longer felt comfortable with another person of the same sex smearing lotion on them and they don't have a fail safe to allow them to go through that process comfortably. This is going to be a big issue my friends. Thanks for the melanoma David Stern.

June 3, 2013 at 3:51 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

Todd, I think the time for a national campaign is now. I have an early suggestion for a slogan to get the ball rolling: Political Correctness, It's Malignant.

June 3, 2013 at 4:02 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

As one of the original students of the now famous Chattanooga Professional Actors Training Program (aka Rex and Sherry's X-Men), I tend to "cringe" seeing the words "Steven Seagal" and "thespian" in the same sentence. If not for Jason Staton, SS would be top dawg in "how not to act" department. I didn't see the whole "take credit" stuff on the UFC fighter but the way you described it sounds like his M.O. My issue as stated previously was again the fact we have actual "congressional" reps taking his "connections" seriously.

While I do believe in the concept of events where truth is stranger than fiction, I also believe there is a thin line between "reality" vs. "Tom Clancy".

Then again, we're same country where a one-time Commander-in-Chief made Elvis an honorary member of the DEA.

June 3, 2013 at 4:14 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

So, Scott Loeffler, architect of Auburn's fetid offense last year, is now the offensive coordinator at Virginia Tech, will he try to educe Logan Thomas' talents out of Logan Thomas?

Best joke I've heard all year, especially since it's based on Logan Thomas actually having talent.

June 3, 2013 at 4:42 p.m.
sportsfan said...

Jay - Winding down before heading out for a couple cocolas and the Dropkick Murphys tonight. I had a few thoughts on some of this past weekend's sports. In my opinion the NBA looks more and more like pro wrasslin with the outcome scripted before the players get to the gym. I appreciate ESPN telling me every two minutes that Tiger's not in the lead at the Memorial. Looks like Earnhardt Jr drives for the paycheck and not the win. Put me down for Moonlighting as a well written television show. I understand the fast paced banter between Willis and Shepard required the writers to prepare much longer scripts for each episode which was the ultimate demise of the show. That and Willis' ego...

June 3, 2013 at 4:47 p.m.
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