We have a ton to cover, so let's drop the formalities and do work.
From the "Talks too much" studios, please, Hammer, don't hurt 'em.
We're here, on the cusp of Game 1 of an intriguing NBA Finals between the Miami Heatles and the San Antonio Spurs.
Will this be the passing of the dynasty torch to the Heat or will it be the Spurs' final moment in the sun? Will it be LeBron's next big step into the pantheon of the elite or will it be another dent in the forged armor that is his career resume — a list of accomplishments that are platinum in prime numbers but paltry in terms of title parades? Will it be Tim Duncan's swan song, the Big Fundamental capping his career as the greatest power forward of all time whether we realized it or not?
The questions do not end there. Will this be the global coming out party for Tony Parker? Will this be Dwyane Wade's return to elite status? Will this be the time that Gregg Poppovich finally gets his due as arguably the best coach in all of team sports? (Side note: Popp may be the only person on the planet who hates the mid-game interview more than Nick Saban. Watch Doris Burke — who does as well as can be expected in that spot, by the way — ask Popp a question, and it could be something as profound and insightful as, "Coach, what's the meaning of life?" and Popp's answer will be one word. Seriously. Good stuff. Side note II: We hate the mid-game interview. This needs to go away sooner rather than later.)
So we're dealing with a lot of stuff. (Candlesticks always make a nice gift, maybe we can find out where she's registered... Let's get two.)
Here's a top-five checklist of the things we're looking for in this series:
1) Mr. James if you please. How will the Spurs defend the best player in the world. It will be a rotation of guys that will try to be physical with LeBron. But we don't see a whole lot of double teams from the Spurs, since James is the best-passing superstar since Magic and Bird.
2) Deter D-Wade: Also, expect the Spurs to be exceeding physical with Dwyane Wade.
3) Is Norris Cole the most important player in this series for Miami? Mario Chalmers will start at point guard, but Superintendent Chalmers will be replaced by Cole more frequently in these Finals because Chalmers can't keep up with Tony Parker. (In fact, if Chalmers is in the game, we can see James trying to slow Parker's speed with his length.) If Cole can keep Parker in check, then that negates the Spur's biggest edge. That's a monstrous 'if' of course.
4) Will Chris Bosh "turtle" (go into his shell when the moment matters) and/or will he let loose a barbaric yalp after a put-back basket? We say yes and yes, and each will be frustrating.
5) Can the Spurs win? Of course they can. But they will have to follow the Pacers' tact of playing big. If you allow the Heat to go small and let James play the 4 on defense and the point on offense with Bosh and Wade and two 3-point gunners around the perimeter, it's going to be tough. But if the Spurs can make this series hinge on Bosh and Birdman Andersen and whomever else inside — like the Pacers did for most of the Eastern Conference Finals — then this could be a dogfight. At least we hope it will be.
Prediction: We expect James to be excellent. He has been throughout the entire postseason. We expect the Heat to roll tonight — emotions are running high and the Spurs haven't played in like six weeks — which means the numbers are stacked against San Antonio, considering the Heat have not lost back-to-back games since Jan. 8 and 10 and are 10-0 straight-up and against the spread since then following a loss.
Miami in 6.
That was impressive. Julio "Down by the school yard" Teheran has been the Atlanta Braves' top pitching prospect for a few years.
We're starting to see why.
Teheran took a no-hitter into the eighth Wednesday and finished his eight-inning, one-hit, 11-K masterpiece with a flourish. Teheran was hitting 94 mph on the gun in his final inning and — unlike Tommy Hanson — has the smooth, easy delivery of a guy that's going to be a round and be atop the Braves rotation for years to come.
Wednesday's 5-0 win was the personification of his promise and potential and the justification of the Braves holding on to him through a river of recent trade offers.
And he's only getting better. Teheran has provided a bevy of quality starts — you have to go to late April for his last start that did not last at least six innings, and you have to go to early April to find his last start in which he allowed more than three earned runs.
Good stuff. No, wait, great stuff.
(Side note: Rest easy Braves fans, Danny Uggla extended his strikeout streak to 12 consecutive games. Sadly, it's not his longest run of the season, since he struck out at least once in his first 14 games of 2013. He's on pace for an even 200 Ks.)
Game, set and quit
Did you see the high school tennis player who walked off the court after losing the first set in the New Hampshire state singles championship match? Yep, she walked off in protest because she was being heckled by the crowd. Yep, tennis heckling caused this girl to pack her rackets and hit the trail. The crowd — and don't know about New Hampshire, but having seen more than our fair share of high school sports, we've never seen a tennis crowd number higher than 50 or so — was heckling this girl because she lived in Massachusetts instead of New Hampshire, according to her parents. Huh?
Her parents called it bullying. PUH-lease. How is everything under the sun bullying now a days? You know what that does, it devalues real bullying. If you call everything bullying, then nothing is bullying. This is not bullying; this was barely teasing. And most of all, this is a part of sports — dealing with the pressure and the environment.
How did we get here? And we hate that it has come to this, but you know who is to blame? The girl's parents.
We loathe all the current psycho-rabble, blame it Mom or Dad that has consumed a modern science, given a generation of young people a ready-made excuse and forced an entire generation of parents to hug it out and make sure they have 250 "My kid is great" bumper stickers plastered on the back of the mini-van. We can't possibly make some sort of quality judgement of anyone's child-rearing, but where we can raise a question is how this tennis debacle unfolded, according to the newspaper reports.
How in the world do you let this girl walk off the court and quit? Over being heckled about where she lives? We're talking about a senior in high school, and what do we think her response will be the next time life presents a hurdle? Quitting? You can bet tour Massachusetts home on it.
We played a lot of sports growing up and spent endless spring and summer nights at ball parks across the metropolitan Smyrna area. Like most young kids we thought we'd pitch for the Dodgers or shoot jumpers for the Lakers. We never got that chance from sports but we have few regrets because we got about as much out of our ability as we good. And we're good with the trades we made with athletics.
Know what we did get though? We got the chance to learn how to win and lose and handle moderate success and what felt like world-ending failure. We got the chance to work for stuff and set goals and experience the benefits of practice.
We got life skills, and no where among them was, "Hey, when the going gets tough and the critics get loud, let's turtle-up, go into a shell and get in the Volvo and drive back to Massachusetts."
Said Sunday Swett, the new New Hampshire singles tennis champ who won the first set 6-4, to the Concord Monitor: “I thought it was a bathroom break and when everyone started cheering I thought it was more like, ‘First Set! Keep it going!’ And I was kind of like, thank you, but I’ve got to stay focused here. But she just picked up her stuff and left. I’ve played her before [including a 6-0, 6-1 loss to Leonard in the 2012 quarterfinals], and, not to be mean, but I know she has an attitude, and I was ready to put up with it. But this brought it to a whole new level.”
This and that
— Just saw this, but after three years away from the top spot Tiger Woods is back at No. 1. No, we're not talking about the world golf rankings, we're talking about Forbes' highest paid list. Yep, after climbing back to the pinnacle of golf, Woods made $78.1 million in the last 12 months (about 13 million from golf winnings), most of that coming from sponsors. Not so coincidentally, Nike's golf revenues rose 10 percent in the last year after three straight years of decline following Woods' 2009 Thanksgiving lass-than-Cleaveresque-family revelations. Maybe Nike's recent commerical was right — maybe winning does take care of everything.
— Here's Forbes' top 10, with what they make total and what they make in salary/winnings (numbers are in the millions of course):
1) Tiger Woods ($78.1/$13.1)
2) Roger Federer ($71.1/$6.5)
3) Kobe Bryant ($61.9/$27.9)
4) LeBron James ($59.8/$17.8)
5) Drew Brees ($51/$40) — Side note: Brees' new contract included a $37-million signing bonus that vaulted him here.
6) Aaron Rodgers ($49/$43) — Another big-time signing bonus lift
7) Phil Mickelson ($48.7/$4.7)
8) David Beckham ($47.2/$5.2)
9) Cristiano Ronaldo ($44/$23)
10) Lionel Messi ($41.3/$20.3)
Some serious cabbage, no?
— Talk about dual threats. Alabama football and Louisville men's basketball teams were national champs and among the 10 programs to win the top prize on their respective fields and in the class rooms, too. Each of those programs scored 978 or better on the 1,000-point APR scale.
— Tony Bosch, the head honcho at Biogenesis, the most recent PED saloon that has created a baseball buzz, is apparently willing to name names for MLB. Among those names are Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez, who alleged that Bosch asked for six figures of hush money before coming clean to MLB. What's that old saying, if you lie with dogs you get up with PED-using dirt bags? It's something like that, any way.
We messed around and had a lot going on, so as always feel free to free style as your style may be free (MCA, get on the mic my man).
Knock your self silly on any of the above topics:
• How do you see the Finals playing out?
• This side of Yu Darvish and Elvis Andrus, would the Braves trade the promise of Andrelton Simmons and/or Julio Teheran for anything out there right now?
• (Feel free to fill in the blank)
We also want to occasionally toss this out there: We will come across some serious slow TV sports stretches in the next couple of months. If you have rented a good OnDemand movie or are watching an interesting TV series, please share.
Last night, after getting the tots to the rack, we joined the Mrs. 5-at-10 for a movie night. We are unfamiliar with a lot of titles since if it's not animated, it's likely not on during the waking hours at the 5-at-10 compound.
So we were looking for some sort of comedy that we had not seen. We enjoy Jason Bateman's work — Arrested Development is top notch and some other things highlighted by his turn as Pepper Brooks in Dodgeball. So, long story short, we tried "Identity Theif" and it was worse than we could have possibly imagined. It was so bad, to call it dreck would to risk a libelous suit from the entire dreck family.
So if you have a random tip or positive recommendation about a recently released film, share.
Discuss and remember the mailbag.
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 ...