published Monday, May 20th, 2013

5-at-10: Winning the offseason, Saban's metaphysical process, Braves and Madonna — yes Madonna

We're back. We've de-sanded, re-set our mini-golf handicap and amazingly have very little color to show for our trip to the Gulf, but it was a world of fun.

Thanks to those of you who played along in the mini-series that was the vacation 5-at-10 top-five lists. Good times.

We've been out of pocket for the better part of the last week, but let's recap some of the things that caught our eye.

From the familiar confines of the "Talks too much" studios, the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.

Winning the offseason

As our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer points out here, UTC AD David Blackburn has enjoyed high times and high energy in his first month on the gig.

Late last week, our UT football ace Downtown Patrick Brown was in town with the Big Orange Caravan as Butch and Co. hit the Scenic City. (Side note: There is a real chance to mis-type Butch in a less than flattering way, especially for those of us who do an early morning, family-oriented, sports-column that is only self-edited before hitting the interwebs. Look at your keyboard and see what letter near the 'U' could make 'Butch' quite different. And no, we do not need to guess or to review the options. We're not sayin', we're just sayin', you know?)

This got us thinking, how important is winning the offseason. More times than not, it's of marginal import at best, and never compares to the actual production on the field or in the standings.

That said, for Blackburn and for Butch, big offseasons are paramount.

For Blackburn, generating the tidal wave of feel good that has come with two fully endorsed hires helps craft the perception of the first-time AD. And that perception is a large part of the reality when it comes to the new script Blackburn is writing. It also is of huge value when trying to raise funds, which we all agree is job No. 1 for Blackburn and his staff. Yes, hiring a Hall of Famer in Jim Foster and what appears to the be a hot, rising star in Will Wade, is great, but making it rain is atop Blackburn's daily to-do list every day other than family birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas.

For Butch Jones, the offseason is about making Johnny Vols Fans believe. And, more importantly, make potential future Johnny Vols Players interested. Jones has done both, making splash after splash on the dinner circuit and making headlines on the recruiting trail.

If we were to grade the offseason, we'd give each an 'A' and do it readily and justifiably.

Of course, when the seasons, start, those mean the same thing as Spy's Physics grade at Georgia Tech.

————

Saban responds

For the second time in a little more than four months, a football coach has compared Nick Saban to the devil. This happened last week, and we missed it until we started catching up on our missed readings.

  • photo
    Alabama's head coach Nick Saban walks the sideline.
    Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Guys, couple of things here:

First, when you are an SEC football coach, when you step to the microphone, you're being recorded. Yes, we complain about guys being vanilla and not giving good quotes and what have you. You know why, because when they say anything controversial — especially when it's something as stupid and offensive as former Alabama assistant Tim Davis calling Saban "the devil himself" — it becomes the soundbite of the moment and the story of the day.

Secondly, you know who loves that comparison? The devil, because after Vandy's James Franklin apologized for calling the Tide coach Nicky Satan, it means that he is dominating his field in unprecedented ways in the modern era.

Side question: Do you think Saban was more upset about the "Nicky" or the "Satan" part of Franklin's comments earlier this year?

Third, Davis, the new Florida O-line coach, was trying to praise new boss Will Muschamp at a Gators fan event when he spoke. He did not mention the fact that he followed Saban from Miami to Alabama and spent three years working for Saban. So, he willingly worked for Saban — the man he called the devil himself — and cashed the checks.

Which means he was, by his own wrong and offensive description, willingly serving as the devil's errand boy. So, we put it to you Greg, in a metaphysical and hypothetical kind of way, which is worse, the devil buying a soul or an assistant coach selling his and then bellyaching about it?

———

Braves sweep

We have been a life-long Dodgers fan. And yes, that is as tough as it sounds. The Dodgers have spent money on a shiny roster that looks great on paper and lousy in the standings.

  • photo
    Atlanta Braves Jordan Schafer (17) hits a single to score a run in the MLB National League baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers Sunday, May 19, 2013, in Atlanta.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

In a lot of ways, they are the anti-Braves.

Looking at Atlanta's line-up after the Braves swept the Dodgers this weekend, is to see a ton of holes. It's also a chance to view the gang that has a 2.5-game lead over Washington in an NL East that has the complete appearance of being a two-team race all summer.

Freddie Freeman is a professional hitter. Chris Johnson is on fire, and Jordan Schafer has been better than Jason Heyward — Johnson at .342 and Schafer at .308 are the only regulars above .300. Justin Upton is a .275 hitter with power. There are issues, but this bunch wins with solid starting pitching and timely production.

The rest is confounding. And troubling. Sure, the injuries have been staggering, and the fact that the Braves are in first is a testament to a deep bench that has absorbed those injuries.

What happens hen Johnson and Schafer cool — and they will, considering each is hitting more than 60 points better than their career averages? It's going to be a summer of swings and misses and misses — yes, the strikeout emporium that is Upton, Upton and Uggla is on pace for more than 180 whiffs apeice. Maybe 'U' should be the new 'K' huh, Spy?

The Braves' troubles with the bats are magnified by the ailments in the bullpen, where set-up guys Eric O'Flaherty and Jonny Venters are on the shelf for the season. Rhea County product Cory Gearrin will get a lot of chances to establish himself in the Braves' pen this summer, that's for sure.

————

This and that

— We're going to swing by ESPN 105.1 FM today around 5 p.m. and catch up with Jim Gumm and Wells. Give it a listen, don't cost nothing.

— This is one of the busier and crazier weeks in the TFP sports department with Spring Fling spinning on all cylinders. FYI — In case you missed it, you need to check out the Sunday sports section, with Stephen Hargis' words and Jamie Poole's design looking at the 20th anniversary of the Fling. Good stuff all around.

— Sang Moon Bae — not totally sure but we're pretty certain he's not from Hixson — won the Byron Nelson Championship on Sunday. He made more than $1.2 million for his efforts. Former Baylor School golfer Harris English finished tied for 17th ($97,150).

— The Memphis Grizz took one on the chin Sunday — sorry Downtown. And rumor has it the Heat may play again sometime this spring. The NBA playoffs, where naps happen. Seriously, how long do these guys get between games?

————

Today's question

We watched some of the Billboard Music Awards last night, and we have to say, it was puzzling to hear Justin Bieber get offended by boos and saying "the craft" and his music should be the only thing considered. (Side note: Hey, Beebs, if the craft and your music is all that should be considered, then come out with an acoustic set rather than the lip-synched dance productions. Also, if you are only doing this for the "craft" then start giving away those hundreds of millions. You can't have it both ways, big boy. You can't have your cash and spend it too.)

It was equally alarming to see the artist formerly known as Madonna — played last night by a Joan Rivers impersonator — and realize she has been doing this for 30 years. THIRTY years. Wow.

Madonna, in some ways was the perfect melding of personality + moment = superstar. If she had come along 10 years later, she could have been the chick from C&C Music Factory. If she had been 10 years earlier — pre-MTV — she would have had a hard time making it.

But she made the most of the new medium that was MTV and exploded on the scene, dominating the 1980s like the Lakers and Cosby.

What's your Rushmore of person + possibility = superstardom? Your people that cashed in big-time on the moment and the chance and became big-time stars?

We'll take Madonna, Chris Berman, Howard Stern and Isiah Thomas? 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.
jgreeson said...

Comments have now been turned on.

That is all.

May 20, 2013 at 10:29 a.m.
jomo11 said...

Jay-I still cant beleive you went on vacation, didnt you have one last year ? . . .You cant leave us 5-at-10ers alone for that long. . . unsupervised playground. . . .and poor Nick Saban getting his feelings hurt. . . .How many times did Uggla strikeout while you were on vacation ?

May 20, 2013 at 11:07 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

I'd put Magic in Isiah Thompson's place. Earvin was the right guy (I'm keeping a peristaltic wave down as I type that) at the right time for the right team (see above).

You know who else might fit into that realm? A little bit of one of last week's 5@10 favorite topics - Mr. Eddie Murphy.

May 20, 2013 at 11:31 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Jay

Bullet Points

Mocs: We'll start with Weeds. Two words: great column. However, quality is only as good as its intended use. Needless to say, I am looking forward to mid-July when the actual BB schedules are released just to see what Wade -n- Foster are up against.

Billboard: I haven't watched a music awards show in more than 20 years. 1) All Top 40 music is in-studio and sung by "literally" nameless people. I actually am working on a bit regarding the "DJ" format of most Top 40 stations. Basically, they NEVER tell who-sings-what as if we're suppose to already know. Instead, they hire these literally "bubblehead" chicks who talk about nothing but shopping, Hollywood gossip, and "the club" then segway to "If corporate radio won't allow you to do a real radio show, then 'Steven Bates' it." (Followed by my Steven Bates impersonation).

Bieber is basically a corporate tool. Period. His only appeal is girls between 10-12. Most girls after the age of 14 start to really discover their musical tastes. And as crazy as this reads, not all of it is modern pop. I talked to this one girl (via public event) who was 19 and she had early Beatles on her iPad playlist. Quality will win in most cases.

Madonna: You are correct that MTV helped brand her. However, she was trying to break into the music biz pre-MTV. In fact, I remember reading an article about an auction house that was selling one of her "many" rejection letters dirt-early in her career. Nutshell: She got to experience a "little" of that pre-MTV stuggle.

My all-time favorite though has got to be Dr. Suiss. His first transcript got rejected up to 21 times by some of the major publishing houses of his era before someone gave him a shot.

Didn't attend the Bryon (go figure). I want to attend the Colonial (to see you-know-who) but at $45.00 for a daily ticket and I have no idea when he would tee off, that's not a gamble I'm willing to take. Plus, I'm saving for a possible return trip home in July.

May 20, 2013 at 12:17 p.m.
Livn4life said...

I am with you on David Blackburn. I knew him back in Loudon low those many years ago. His father, the late Henry Blackburn was my biology teacher and assistant football coach for LHS. I hope not just the Wade and Foster hires but all he does turns out on the upside for UTC. Sabanistic tendencies...that seems to be the trend in responding to the Tide's head coach. By the way, was Davis trying to compare Mushchamp to Mr. Saban when he made that claim? I'm becking on th Nicky part being the rubbiest thing in the Franklin spiel. Finally, I am no Roman Catholic but there is only one Madonna and she ain't ever been nor will ever be on MTV! Gotta go shine up my JohnnyVol orange slippers.

May 20, 2013 at 12:32 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Rushmore:

Clint Eastwood (the spaghetti westerns) - "Rawhide" got his name out there, but those, low, low, budget films is what help put him on the map.

Hugh Jackman (The X-Men/Wolverine movies) - without Marvel, who by then was getting their act together after several misses [DareDevil anyone?], he probably wouldn't have much of a career outside of Australia.

Jim Carrey (In Living Color) - enough said.

Matt Groening (The Tracy Almen show)- No one remembers Tracy herself, but her show helped launched an American jauggernaut that has not stopped for 20+ years.

May 20, 2013 at 12:38 p.m.
Buschleague said...

Rachel Ray, Erin Andrews, the whole MMA phenomena, and the all-time cherry picker-Phil Jackson(triangle really?).

May 20, 2013 at 12:41 p.m.
deboman said...

Quick one for the Rushmore... how's abouts >> Tom Brady, Ringo Starr, Wolf Blitzer, and Jerry Springer.

May 20, 2013 at 1:27 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Jomo —

Here's hoping we have one next year too.

Here's saying Nicky will be fine. It's saying something when you make Saban the sympathetic character, huh?

If Dan Uggla opens a bar, it will need a playground and then on ladies night, he call it "Swings and Misses." Thank you, we're here all week.

JMC —

Blackburn is rolling, no doubt.

Nice Rushmore, although we think Clint would have made it either way. Heck his career survived not one, but two musicals for crying out loud. Eastwood's career arc is almost Pacino's inverted; dude made some serious stinkers during the first half of his career, and now almost every swing is a homer.

Groening may be the most influential TV Hall of Famer no one knows. (Side note: He created The Simpsons.)

Debo —

Brady is a great call. Montana finding Walsh could be on that list too, because if he had gone to the long-throwing Raiders, he never gets off the bench.

Busch(lite)leaguer —

Wow, Erin Andrews is an excellent call. Plus she got to learn on the job because of her "talents."

LivnLarge —

Is Mr. Blackburn still around? That's good intel.

Actually Mr. Davis was praising Coach Muschamp's ability to withstand the heat of working in Saban's kitchen for seven years when the devil himself made him do it.

Spy —

Eddie Murphy was on our original list.

Magic would have needed more time with another franchise, but dude would have won a title or two. Isiah never could carry a team — the Pistons won because of a front line that made the Red Wings look soft — and somehow Thomas is an all-timer at point? We're not buying it.

May 20, 2013 at 2:19 p.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent —

Nick Saban.....YAWN.....biggest non-story ever. Saban's feelings aren't hurt by this, nor should they be. As my wife said, he was probably made fun in junior high with that nickname. It's kid stuff to say things like this. It's like calling the TFP sports editor Greasy Greeson. If James Franklin called him Greasy Greeson, I bet his feelings wouldn't be hurt.

May 20, 2013 at 2:51 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

I didn't get a chance to see any of the Billboard Awards last night. I heard reports of a dumpster fire downtown and opted to watch that instead. Did they play that song "Saban Went Down To Georgia"? During the acceptance speeches did any of the stars thank the guy that invented Pro Tools? Without Pro Tools, Auto Tune, and the other automated gimmickry available in today's studios most of these "artist" are as pleasant sounding as a fork being scraped across a chalkboard.

Fire on the mountain run boys run, Saban's in the house of the rising sun.

May 20, 2013 at 3:07 p.m.
Livn4life said...

5, the elder Mr. Blackburn passed a number of years back, great guy though!

May 20, 2013 at 3:48 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Though your Dodgers stink like Steve Yeager's socks, are you stoked 5 for the postgame concert coming up at Turner Field?

Run DMC!

May 20, 2013 at 4:19 p.m.
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