Remember the Friday mailbag and feel free to move about the cabin since Captain Carl has turned off the no-smoking light.
From the "Talks too much studios," can we get a hot tub...
Spring is here
Despite the early-week snow — seriously, can we be done with the cold, like now — baseball's opening day is right around the corner.
With the basketball news — the brackets and the draw and the Lady Mocs and the Lady Vols and Shulman, et al. — it's been easy to be distracted. Heck, we haven't even started going really nuts about the draft (we love the draft; you know this) or even the Masters and we've still neglected Opening Day.
That's on us and that stops today.
We'll spend a little Braves time and then kick around five things to know about the American League. We'll do the same with the NL on Thursday, and we have at least one Braves mailbag question, so we'll have some Braves baseball everyday this week. Deal? Deal.
Your Atlanta Braves have a lineup that will either a) score 1,000 runs; b) strikeout 1,000 times or c) both. We'll take c and like our chances.
From the top down this bunch has punch, and in truth, with the additions of the brothers Upton, it may be the fastest Braves lineup since Otis Nixon and Deion were involved. We like that.
Philadelphia Phillies' Jimmy Rollins, right, is tagged out while stealing second base by Atlanta Braves shortstop Tyler Pastornicky in the sixth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 1, 2012, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
How deep is this lineup and even the bench — young shortstop Tyler Pastornicky hit .375 this spring with an on-base percentage of .444 and he's headed to the minors. (Hey, here's saying we teach Tyler how to play second base and when Uggla goes 0-for-April with three weeks of Ks, we look about making a change.)
This is going to be an all-or-next-to-nothing offense. We do not like the ability for every guy in the lineup to strikeout 100-plus times, but you take the good and the Uggla sometimes and never the twain shall meet. Hey, this bunch is going to hit because they swing the bat. They are going to strike out because they swing the bat. One thing they are not going to do for the most part is draw walks. If the A's perfected Moneyball and working counts and what not, this bunch is the opposite. Forget Moneyball, this is Kickball and when was the last time anyone drew a walk in kickball.
We even have stats to back this up — scary, huh, Spy? Let's look at the projected order for these Braves and how many walks they have drawn this spring:
SS Andrelton Simmons (23 ABs — 1 walk)
RF Jason Heyward (65 ABs — 7 walks)
LF Justin Upton (67 ABs — 5 walks)
1B Freddie Freeman (73 ABs — 4 walks)
CF BJ Upton (72 ABs — 0 walks)
2B Dan Uggla (72 ABs — 3 walks)
3B Chris Johnson/Juan Francisco (CJ: 68 ABs — 0 walks; Don Juan: 65 ABs — 2 walks)
C Gerald Laird (22 ABs — 3 walks)
Infield, be on your toes.
As for the American League, here's a quick top five in 10 words or less. Yep, a preseason 5-in-10 by the 5-at-10:
1) Angels soar: Trout, Pujols, Hamilton.... forget about it.
2) Yankees boar: So old and injured they needed Vernon Wells.
3) Baltimore back for more: AL's Nationals — young and strong; get on the bus now
4) Toronto's chore: We'll see if the free-spending model works in Canada.
5) Red Sox restored: Injured players return, Booby V is gone, Boston will be back.
We've wrestled with some kind of contest tie-breaker and some sort of event this weekend, here's what we got:
Which teams will finish tied for 5-8th this year? Yep, War Eagle and BackupQB, send us your Elite Eight losers and whomever gets the most right will win.
Heck, everyone else can play along too if they want, and maybe the overall winner will get something small from the Final Four. Deal? Deal.
Here's our entry for the "Four who were Oh so close to the Final Four" contest:
We have Michigan State, Wichita State, Miami, Florida.
Everybody understand? Let us know if you have any questions, and again this is open to everyone.
SoCon in flux
We discussed at length yesterday the reported moves for App State and Georgia Southern and how those may affect UTC and the SoCon.
In today's TFP, our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer shares a conversation he had with SoCon commissioner John Iamarino here.
Here are a couple of interesting quotes from Iamarino (we're not sure if he has a nickname, but we'd go with Johnny Ice):
"No matter how much success we've had in football, and we've had a lot of it, FCS football doesn't pay off on a national level the way winning games in the NCAA tournament does for you," he said.
"Unfortunately, it's becoming more and more evident that the one common component of the mid-majors who've had some of the greatest success in basketball -- Gonzaga, Butler, Davidson -- is that they don't play scholarship football. It's difficult to find a FCS program that's also successful in basketball."
Wow. Take that for what it's worth, but it sounds a great deal like the focus of the league will be on the ball that bounces true.
This and that
— As first reported on SportTalk on Tuesday afternoon by Quake and Doc and Joe, the most recent round of cuts for the UTC AD gig eliminated former Mocs basketball coach and current East Carolina administrator Mack McCarthy. We'll see what we can find about the names being bandied about, but we have heard some whispers that current UT administrator David Blackburn could be in the mix. Just to let you know that even some of the bigwigs from Mocs Land are paying close attention to this hire, one Mr. Belding from "Saved by the Bell" fame called into the sports department this week looking for some intel. We can't confirm or deny if he asked TFP hoops ace David Uchiyama, "Hey, what's going on here?"
— The Chattanooga Lookouts will open the season with a blue-chipper. As TFP ace David Paschall tells us here, the Dodgers have optioned Yasiel Puig to Chattanooga. Puig is a defector from Cuba who was one of the stories of the spring by hitting .526 in 26 big-eague at-bats and drawing comparisons athletically to Bo Jackson.
— Speaking of former Auburn stars, apparently there is an English bulldog named Sir Charles after Chuck Barkley, and the pup was trending on social media and internet searches this morning. Think Kenny and Greg Anthony and those guys may have something to say this weekend about a canine being more popular than the real Charles?
— Denny Hamlin is out six weeks with the back injury from the wreck that was caused by Joey Lagano on Sunday. That all but ends Hamlin's season in regard to any type of points Chase. Want justice on this? Lagano should be forced to sit the same number of races. (This will never, Never, NEVER happen because sponsors spend seven- and eight-figures for the driver as much as the exposure, but still.) Lil' Joey Sprockets will get his.
— One more note: Brittney Griner is a monster. Three dunks in one game? Monster.
Would you rather your school be elite in football, elite in basketball or pretty good in both?
Elite meaning regularly winning the conference and being among the best in the country. App State and Georgia Southern are elite in football in the FCS. Alabama is elite in football; Kentucky in hoops.
There are some really elite combos out there right now in Louisville, Florida, THE Ohio State and Auburn... wait, one of those does not belong.
Seriously, would you want a Kentucky model or would you prefer say, an Oklahoma State or even a Pittsburgh.
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 ...