published Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

5-at-10: Braves off and not walking, Hoops contest, SoCon's focus

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.

  • photo
    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.

————

College hoops

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?"

  • photo
    NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin celebrates with his team after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012, in Loudon, N.H.
    Photo by The Decatur Daily /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

— 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.

—————

Question

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.

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.
jgreeson said...

Gang,

Sorry the comments were not available.

Thanks to the head's up among you who emailed us.

Discuss.

March 27, 2013 at 12:28 p.m.
chas9 said...

5er--Have you tried out the hot new "urinal gaming system" that'll be in use in a minor league baseball stadium? You, too, could be a wiener. No word on whether the game's soundtrack is "It's a Small World After All."

No SEC teams remain in the NIT, and only one in the Big Dance. UF and FGCU will be a battle royal.

Four of the women's sweet 16 are SEC teams. The distaff side of the tournament had some strong action yesterday.

LS&U had a big win. A'dia Mathies' 34 led The Big Blue over Dayton and the terrific Elena Delle Donne's 33 led The Fighting Blue Hens over UNC.

After Baylor's freakishly dominating Griner, Delle Donne may be the women's game's most charismatic and talented player. She's a statuesque, glamorous 6'5" and plays like a guard. She has a quick release and easily finds seams in tight defenses.

Speaking of Baylor, they were up 63-20 when I decided it was over. Is there no mercy rule in basketball?

March 27, 2013 at 12:32 p.m.
ordinaryguy said...

As much as it pains me thanks to the gang at SportTalk for breaking the Mack news...I am surprised I did not violate a noise ordinance from the sigh of relief...we dont need to take a HUGE step back by bringing him here...far too much baggage...I notice from Frierson that the first shoe has dropped in the SoCon and the other will later today...Everyone keeps mentioning Kennesaw State as a possible new addition, correct me if I am wrong but their ultimate goal would be a move to FBS just like GSU and App St, would a two to three year addition ot the conference be advantagous...and glad to see you appear to be over that Rock crush...

March 27, 2013 at 12:37 p.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

Delle Donne can really play. And she has no time for Geno, which we agree with.

Still Griner is a monster. That is all.

OG —

Say what you will, but we know and believe this — Mack loves UTC and would have put everything he had in to that job.

If memory serves, KSU is more than a couple years away from an FCS move because they have some facility issues to handle first.

March 27, 2013 at 12:50 p.m.
ordinaryguy said...

Thank for that info...was not sure on that with KSU...I have no doubt of Mack's love for the school...the department has made so much progress the last few years that I would be hard pressed to see what advantage it would hold...

March 27, 2013 at 12:57 p.m.
jomo11 said...

Jay- i must have been out of the country last year, but which of those 2 sports is Auburn good at ?

March 27, 2013 at 12:59 p.m.
jgreeson said...

OG —

Fair point about the progress, especially in the marketing side.

Jomo —

C'mon man, we know the reality.

Let the dream breath.

March 27, 2013 at 1:06 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Ten Ring-

I read Iamarino's quotes in Weed's column while eating breakfest about choked on my bacon. I can see the "logic" in his statement but this is "the South" where logic has no meaning. South: Football IS Life. I may not always agree with that, but I acknowledge it in order to keep the peace.

(Which is why all native Chattanoogans of free thought and progress chose to leave and some never to come back - but that's another soapbox for another day)

I'll start with what I might as well call the toothless redneck devil's advocate (named humorously after your typical Sport Talk caller who stays on hold for 15 minutes just to say Go Big Orange).

Chattanooga is a football city. More for the SEC than anything else. Iamarino really scares me with this talk. It's like he wants football here to fail by his hand because he thinks B-Ball is the waive of the future. I personally would like for UTC to be good at both sports but my leaning is towards a better football program. But that is simply just my opinion.

I do believe a lot of people feel the same way other than maybe that guy who writes for the Enigma about his Uncle Rossco and Auburn football and nothing else. He really hates Mocs football.

March 27, 2013 at 1:10 p.m.
jomo11 said...

hey ordinaryguy, the advantage to Mack as AD would be 1) to raise money 2) raise money 3) raise money . . . . . if we dont get an AD in here to RAISE MONEY it doesn't matter what his skills are in marketing, administration, compliance, whatever. If the new AD cant raise money he will have problems

March 27, 2013 at 1:14 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Judging from Commish Iamarino comments to Weeds (Weeds!), looks like one half of my predictions yesterday was accurate - the death of SoCon football.

On the Braves - at some point, you have to manufacture a run, especially in the playoffs when the other guys' pitching is as good, if not better. That means a walk, maybe a steal, maybe hitting to the other side or hitting behind the runner. And I'm still not completely sold on the Braves' starting staff. Medlen was very, very good last year, and Minor really got better over the season. But let's get a little bigger sample size. Even Pete Smith went 7-0 with a 2.05 ERA for the 93 Braves.

And 5, I would dearly love to know your take on Tiger's new "Winning cures everything" ad.

March 27, 2013 at 1:38 p.m.
ordinaryguy said...

jomo I see your point...however there are as many people in this town that would not donate if he were AD as would...

March 27, 2013 at 1:46 p.m.
Stewwie said...

JMC, it's a tough call for sure on how the SoCon should proceed going forward. According to the commish, basketball is the moneymaker (better profit, I guess), yet we live in football country as you said. Financially, it would make sense to work toward a stronger emphasis on basketball and less on football. But would the remaining schools and their fans want that? It sounds like the SoCon needs to develop and commit to a new vision so that the strategy is clear going forward.

[Would you rather your school be elite in football, elite in basketball or pretty good in both?]

That's a tougher question than it looks, but I'm going to say "pretty good in both" for the Mocs. There are lots of folks who care about UTC football around here simply because it's football, though I suspect that there are more Chattanoogans in Knoxville than at Finley on game days. And our b-ball team has a lot of passion in the fan base. So it would be good for both sports to try to do well instead of championing one sport to the detriment of the other.

I'm surprised Big Mack got an early cut for the AD job, but I also know nothing about the "baggage" that OG referred to.

March 27, 2013 at 2:26 p.m.
mcpell3 said...

I agree with Spy - the bravos will have to manufacture a run at some point. With this line up, who will bunt the runner over?

"Four who were Oh so close to the Final Four" - Syracuse, Kansas, Duke & Wichita St.

March 27, 2013 at 2:46 p.m.
cmocs said...

I think the SoCon can "have it all" in regards to football and basketball, if it is approached properly.

The CAA (or the former CAA before defections) was a great example. They have had numerous at-large selections to the Big Dance AND they have gotten 4 teams in the FCS playoffs (things that the SoCon has never done).

But it shows you can have a great emphasis on basketball league (no one would argue that CAA basketball isn't the front porch of their conference) and still be very strong in FCS football.

Of course, the football first mentality of ASU and GSU is exactly why they outgrew FCS football and the SoCon. 20-25K fan interest is the top end of FCS and they have both been bumping their heads on the ceiling for years. They only way to go further is to go up.

It has always been interesting to listen to the fans around the SoCon. ASU and GSU fans complain that all the conference cared about was basketball while CofC fans always complained that the conference only cared about football. I guess it is about bias and perspective.

Anywhoo...I am sad to see ASU, GSU (and CofC) leave, but in all honesty, it just made Chattanooga's chance of winning SoCon title and going to the post-season a little bit easier. The SoCon has survived teams leaving for 70 years, they will survive this too.

Or, the Mocs could just head over to the OVC (but only if ETSU goes with us).

March 27, 2013 at 3:05 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

I agree with Stewwie, I'm unfamiliar with any baggage that I am aware of. Then again, I remember as a post-undergrad when he resigned after the Sweet 16 run. Rumor had it there was no star players coming up from the pipeline and he decided to move on and I never thought beyond that.

Following up, I didn't really consider the fan-factor of the other schools in regards to their feelings on this. Mainly because it seems to always be us, GSU, App, Wofford, and the other schools.

Still, this is football country. Period. The reason Kentucky, in my observation, dominate well is because they are closer to basketball country than football but that's not a reliable factor (considering both Michigan and Ohio State tend to dominate in both). Regardless, the Mocs will survive in one form or another. Hopefully, they'll have a chance to dominate in both as well.

March 27, 2013 at 3:22 p.m.
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