published Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

5-at-10: King James delivers, Jose Blockhead, Urlacher a HoFer? and rejected water park names

Gang, we have a couple of open mailbag slots, so if you have a question, shoot. If not, well, read and comment and enjoy the sunshine. (Side note: If you were complaining about the rain or the cold snap, then you can't complain about the heat until at least mid-June. As Uncle Buck would say, "That's in the books." Well, unless you are over 60, complain about how the Braves announcers are not as good as Skip Caray and eat lunch around the time you're reading the 5-at-10. Then you have earned the right to complain about almost anything, so get your gripe on.)

From the "Talks too much" studios, let's round up the usual suspects.

King delivers

We got into this BID-ness because we grew up a sports junkie. Sometimes the Lord guides your career into places it's supposed to go. We got lucky.

And we became a sports junkie because of moments like last night's Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. Miami beat Indy 103-102 in overtime. The Heat won despite a huge, Huge, HUGE game-tying, final-second 3-pointer by Paul George in the fourth quarter and a brutal foul call on a George 3-pointer with 2.2 left in OT that gave the Pacers a 102-101 lead.

The Heatles won a crucial game because the best player on the planet was at his best in the big moments. LeBron James, who finished with 30 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds for his ninth career playoff triple-double, caught the in-bound pass, went hard left and delivered a lay-up that fell through the net as the horn sounded.

It was a money play. It was a superstar play that a few years ago we doubted that James would or could make on a consistent basis. It was quite simply what Michael would have done.

And when James gets to the point that we expect him to deliver in those moments — not unlike how we expected Jordan to deliver or pre-2009 Thanksgiving Tiger to make every meaningful 5-footer — then he will be on the pantheon that we expect for him and the level at which he was destined to attain.

Last night, we wanted LeBron to make that shot. Hey, we like LeBron and the Heat deserved to win that game considering the brutal call that gave the Pacers the lead. We wanted James to make the play, but we were not sure.

We're starting to feel pretty sure that the King is going to deliver, time and time again.

Four quick tidbits:

First, we think this series could be excellent and Game 1 did not disappoint.

Second, Paul George is a legit star in the making.

Third, having Reggie Miller do this series — yes, Reggie Miller, Mr. Pacers, who is almost openly rooting for Indy — do the commentary on this series seems about as fair and balanced as having Chipper work national Braves games.

Fourth, when LeBron goes to the rim, it may be the single most unstoppable NBA move since Kareem hung up his hook. In fact, dude gets the reverse of the Jordan calls because he absorbs contact and keeps going.

Anyway, Game 1 was why we watch. And why we love it.

————

Canseco slide continues

At one time, Jose Canseco was the best bet to be the most accomplished baseball player ever. He went 40-40 in his third full season in the bigs, and through those three full seasons and at the age of 24, Canseco had 105 homers and 71 stolen bases and already had a rookie of the year award and an AL MVP. Carried over a career of any length and his numbers would have been unbelievable.

He finished with 462 homers and 200 steals in baseball career that was dotted by spectrum-ranging, eye-popping, must-rewind highlights — the 1,000-foot homer at SkyDome that still is going; the home run that bounced off his head and over the fence. Of course Canseco will always be remembered as the face and whistle-blower of the steroids generation in baseball.

After making more than $45 million in his baseball career, he declared bankruptcy last year, reporting he had less than $21 K in assets and more than $1.7 million in debt, including $500,000 in back taxes.

It's a duplicitous image for sure. He wrote a tell-all book for money about the PED culture in baseball, a move that betrayed trust among friends and in the locker room and revealed his blatant disregard for the rules or the laws. He also was one of the few in that time that has stepped forward and told the truth about his use and the use of others — which in almost every case has proved to be true.

Now, his plummet into the puzzling abyss took another head-scratching turn Wednesday when he announced on The Twitter that he is being accused of sexual assault, a charge he disputes and one about which he challenged the accuser to take a polygraph test.

It's impossible to know what to expect with Canseco or how to view him. Is he one of the few honest violators of the steroid debacle or was he the genesis of it? Is he a victim of the times or on the Rushmore of all-time talent wasters?

We do know this, just about every time his name pops up in the news, we feel the need to take a shower.

————

Urlacher retires

After being released in the offseason because of an escalating salary, Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher retired Wednesday. He left the game after 13 decorated years with the Bears, and leaves us with a couple of points/questions.

First, a situation like Urlacher's is one of the only bad parts of a pro sports salary cap. Because the league forces each team to stay under the same salary limit, the ability to pay a former All-Pro player his contract for a farewell tour is to all-but wreck an entire season. So it goes.

Second, is Urlacher a Hall of Famer? We say yes. He was a four-time First-Team All-Pro in his 13 years and an eight-time Pro Bowler and won the defensive rookie of the year in 2000 and the NFL defensive player of the in 2005. Was he the dominate linebacker of his generation? No, that was Ray Lewis. But to be on that many All-Pro teams playing in the same era as a transcendental talent like Lewis only helps his resume.

Third, Urlacher was arguably the best first-round pick in a supremely strange 2000 NFL draft. It was a crazy draft that actually featured four players — Tom Brady, Marc Bulger, Brian Waters and Adalius Thomas — that had first-round careers despite being picked in the sixth round or later. It also was the first year since 1966 that a team took a kicker in round one when Oakland took Sebastian Janikowski. (Side note: As badly as the Raiders over-spent for a kicker in round one is as much value as they got with punter Shane Lechler in round five.) Hey, we love the draft. You know this. So if you were to re-pick the top of 2000 first round, it would look something like this (Team — actual pick — player they should have picked):

1) Cleveland Browns — Courtney Brown — Tom Brady, who went 199th overall

2) Washington — LaVar Arrington — John Abraham, who went 13th overall

3) Washington — Chris Samuels — Marc Bulger, who went 168th

4) Cincinatti — Peter Warrick — Jamal Lewis, who went fifth

5) Baltimore — Jamal Lewis — Shaun Alexander, who went 19th

6) Philly — Corey Simon — Brian Urlacher, who went 9th

7) Arizona — Thomas Jones — Brian Waters, who went undrafted

8) Pittsburgh — Plaxico Burress — Julian Peterson, who went 16th

9) Chicago — Brian Urlacher — Keith Bulluck, who went 30th

10) Baltimore — Travis Taylor — Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, who went 149th

Another interesting tidbit about that 2000 draft: There were seven Vols picked in the first two rounds. Seven. Feels like roughly seven Vols have been picked in the last four drafts, no?

————

This and that

— Congrats to Silverdale baseball for a hard-fought 2-1 win over Riverside to advance to the winner's bracket final in the Class A state baseball tournament at Spring Fling. Keep an eye on all of the Spring Fling coverage from the blanket firm of Hargis, Henley and Smiddie.

— Your Braves swept the Twins and have won six straight. As our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer shares here, the legend of Evan Gattis continues to grow. In fact, we like to view it not unlike the old SNL "Cowbell" skit, and just about any problem can be solved with the answer "We need more Gattis."

— One more Braves note: We like the cut of Paul Maholm's jib. Dude is 6-4 with a 3.38 ERA, meaning he goes deep into games and gives his team a chance to win almost every start. He threw 112 pitches Wednesday, and while the five-run cushion helped too, he was able to help rest a stressed and stretched bullpen. Other than a blip at Detroit and an unfortunate development at S.F, Maholm's ability to give the Braves a chance every start is the anti-Derek Lowe, who either threw 8 scoreless innings or allowed 8 runs in 2 and a 1/3.

———

Today's question

In honor of the newest Chattanooga-area attraction — the much-anticipated water park known as Soakya at Lake Winnie — we want to hear your best worst water park titles.

That's right, what are the most quickly rejected water park names?

We love a good top-5 list. Not as much as the draft, but still so we'll start with this top-five of rejected water park names:

5) Urine Heaven

4) Flo-max

3) WHEEEEEEE-coli

2) Wedgie World

1) The Runs

Discuss, and here's hoping the folks at Soakya do not sell Baby Ruth bars at the snack counter.

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.
LaughingBoy said...

The foul call on the three was more than deserved especially after the no-call on Bosh's foul, pushing under the basket to get the offensive rebound and putback. It's telling when one of the announcers, maybe Kerr, brings it up and the other two don't even respond. Don't even get me started on the foul call on Hansbrough when he was decked, right in front of all three referees takes away the excuse of "second guy gets called." Or all the missed calls when the Heat got possession on balls out of bounds. "If they don't allow a basket with 2.2, it doesn't matter", that's not a good response either. The Pacers shouldn't have been in that position to begin with. Typical NBA.

May 23, 2013 at 10:14 a.m.
LaughingBoy said...

Or the flops. Now I'm done.

May 23, 2013 at 10:15 a.m.
TNBuck said...

Anyway to get some type of cycling news in the mailbag for Friday?

Is Canseco the anti-Lance? Everything Lance says continues to be untrue while Canseco's revelations seem to pan out. Very interesting to me how one guy's rep is ruined while apparently telling the truth while the other continues to hold onto lies and gets Oprah specials.

Tejay van Garderen is in Chattanooga for the weekend. As a 23 year-old, he finished 5th in the Tour de France last year and his team was riding for a different guy. He's fresh off a win at the 8-day stage race Tour of California and is poised to be the first American winner of the Tour de France since our boy Lance...wait, I mean LeMond.

May 23, 2013 at 10:43 a.m.
ordinaryguy said...

Thanks to that former QB and now pitchman...hands down choice is (drum roll please) THEISMAN'S SUPER BEAT PROSTATE

No mention this am of another gut shot taken by the SoCon? I stand by my opinion that adding ETSU and Mercer which are just starting football, and a very pathetic VMI, has Kavorkianed the conference. No matter how its wrapped up, the SoCon is done let us hope the Mocs don't have to stay in but three or so yesrs

Well played on the "cowbell" and "baby ruth"...there is hope to turn you into a cantankerous old fart yet

May 23, 2013 at 10:50 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Laughter,

We can surely agree that the level of play in the NBA — on both ends of the floor — may be as good as ever. The level of officiating is worse than ever.

You make fair points, and we all know Hansbrough is never going to get a benefit of the doubt call. But there were a slew of calls each way — LBJ gets mauled going to the glass on a regular basis — that were hard to stomach. In fact, pulling for the Heat, we had a small amount of trepidation during the review of the last-second shot, even though it was clear and unequivocal.

TNBuck —

Great call on the Lance/Canseco divide. The power of being a cancer survivor has allowed Lance to be cleansed of a lot of scum.

Tejay is the HOUSE.

OG —

We did not know about the Elon exit until after we got done this morning.

Wow. Just wow. The Mocs needs to plan some exit visas, stat.

— 5-at-10

May 23, 2013 at 11:42 a.m.
Todd962 said...

R. Kelly's Golden Shower Waterpark would be one to continue to drive past. Neverland's waterpark addition would be another to pass on. Why do you have to be under this height to enter the park? "Uncle Fannie's Fecal Park, where if you dont mind, then the fecal dont matter." I feel like a lot of waterpark downfalls revolve around human waste. Soakya isnt taking home any awards, but The Runs is an all timer, simple but telling.

Congrats to your pops by the way. My Padre is a man who doesnt like change either. Same woman since '77, same job since '75, same beard since '72. The fact that my mother has never seen the man without a beard is baffling. Any thoughts of nightime shaving raids by my brother and I were quickly abandoned following the images of the thumpings that would follow. Self preservation.

May 23, 2013 at 11:57 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

Bad water park name? Itsmellsandburnstoo.

Braves are rolling, but they are feasting on carcasses right now. The Twins stink. The Mets stink just as bad and the Braves won't have to face Matt Harvey. And 5, your Dodgers ... well ... if you can't say nuthin' nice, don't say nuthin' t'all.

May 23, 2013 at noon
JonathanMCook said...

Ten-Ring,

I normally do mail bag through my AOL account but at work I'm a little leary about doing that. So save this for tomorrow.

Anybody who follows Frierson (my method being Facebook) already knows by now that Elon is fix'n to jump ship. With that said, the conference is down to seven schools not counting the ones who will probably accept membership once the paperwork is finalized. That being the case, if Mercer, ETSU, and VMI re-enter, the SoCon would have just nine football schools technically (none of the three would actually not be ready by next year to the best of my knowledge).

Needless to say, within the next 24-48 hours, the "grumblings" will start producing on this forum, on Sport Talk, on 105.3, and every social media from here to Timbucktoo regarding where do the Mocs go from here. At this moment, there are at least some comments on Frierson's FB post stating UTC needs to start preparing to either head for the Sun Belt or the OVC.

Not that it matters, but I wouldn't mind hearing Blackburn's take on all this or even speculation given the fact the SoCon in my honest opinion is about to go the way of the SWC (via "Pony Excess" reference).

Again, reserve this for tomorrow's mailbag (unless you already have 1.5 fecal-load of letters on the same subject matter).

UPDATE: as of this posting, I see the ball is already starting to roll on this. And as mentioned above, it's not new news on the account Frierson was hinting it as of late last night (via Twitter comments linked to my FB account).

May 23, 2013 at 12:03 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

Southern Conference = Dead League Walking

May 23, 2013 at 12:19 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

We will have to agree to disagree on the Heat getting or not getting the vast majority of the calls. The Pacer coach just stopped complaining and had to smile and shake his head, he knows what his no-name bunch if facing. Almost as annoying is the Heat's reaction when a close call actually does go against them, it's like they were nailed in the groin and no flagrant or ejection resulted. Wait, that went their way last night, too, didn't it?

May 23, 2013 at 12:39 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Mr. 962 —

R. Kelly's Golden Shower Park and Day Care facility may be the single most haunting title this side of Dr. Lector's Fava Beans Farm.

Well played.

The ceremony for Pops 5-at-10 was nice and touching and a little surreal. You know the guy as your Pops and then everyone comes and says all these wonderful things about him, and you know them to be true but when everyone else starts chiming in, it makes it more real and more special in a lot of ways. We're blessed.

Spy —

Nice.

What about Potato Creek? Or Doobie Falls?

Yes, the Dodgers are impossible to discuss under your mom's rule.

JMC —

You're in and Laughter's response is pretty spot-on.

May 23, 2013 at 12:45 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

LB = agreed. Also, keep us posted if anything happens between now and tomorrow (i.e. press conferences, Blackburn quote/soundbite [or Wade, Huesman, Foster, etc.]).

May 23, 2013 at 1 p.m.
fechancellor said...

10 Ring, yeah Shane Lechler was great value considering how often and how well he's had to punt over the years. When compared to the heartbreak of Oakland's first rounders, including McFadden, since Sea Bass' draft onward when have the Raiders tasted real success with #1 picks?

Sea Bass must be considered one of those. Al went high on Sea Bass, for the simple reason Oakland lost four or five games due to crappy kicking the year before. The kicker is (pun intended) the Raiders posted 12-4 the next season.

May 23, 2013 at 1:05 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

ooze park. Also a bad water park name. Love Canal too has bad connotations as does Asian Tsunami.

Wow is the Southern Conference folding quickly. It loses its two biggest football programs. It loses its two best basketball programs. Looks like Furman will be the last one left to turn off the light.

Meanwhile, Georgia approves a $93 million athletic budget that is said to be "middle of the pack" in the SEC.

May 23, 2013 at 1:08 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

And note to Pacers: There are 2.2 seconds left. Ya think LeBron gonna get the ball? Ya think he might try to drive the lane? Ya think you might not want to play defense flat-footed (take a look again at Mr. George's defensive posture. Not on the balls of his feet after the inbounds pass, which no one tried to deny, either)?

May 23, 2013 at 1:12 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

How soon until ETSU and Mercer planning to start football?

May 23, 2013 at 2:14 p.m.
Stewwie said...

[We can surely agree that the level of play in the NBA — on both ends of the floor — may be as good as ever. The level of officiating is worse than ever.]

Agreed on the level of play but I disagree on the officiating. There's always room for improvement, but the NBA refs are light years ahead of where they were in the 90s and most of last decade. No more obvious superstar calls throughout the game and they actually do call fouls (LeBron picked up a quick 2 last night and ended with 5). Also, no more 70-69 slugfests that were par for the course 10 years ago.

What's worse? Bad calls or bad non-calls? Or does it matter so long as the refs are consistent?

May 23, 2013 at 2:22 p.m.
ordinaryguy said...

2014 I do believe laughing...but I keep waiting for someone other than myself to just come out and speak the truth...adding VMI, ETSU, and Mercer do NOTHING to help the conference...you have one HORRIBLE athletic program already (VMI) with no chance of being competitive in the major sports...Mercer and ETSU are just STARTING football, can you say SMU with them? It will take a decade for either to be a factor, and ETSU is not the old ETSU in basketball which the casual Chattanooga fan just can't comprehend...Mercer is good but not great in basketball,so the SoCon takes a huge gut shot and will NEVER recover...I just hate being the lone voice saying the SoCon is DONE REPEAT DONE

May 23, 2013 at 2:26 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

I think a good name for a water park would be Littoral Stimulation. And that's all I've got today. Glad I could help.

May 23, 2013 at 2:49 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

I would love to see the Mocs move on to the Ohio Valley Conference, if the Sun Belt isn't an option. Division play would lessen the likelihood of frequent trips to Eastern Illinois, etc, or whatever the northern-most teams are now.

Impossible, but I love to dream, a new league with the Mocs, Samford, Jacksonville State, Mercer, Kennesaw, North Alabama, and others, including maybe even Lee in a decade. True rivalries could be formed, location is a big part of that.

May 23, 2013 at 2:59 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

OG-

You're in like-minded company but right now the Mocs are almost in neutral territory. While I try not to appear as a be-all know-it-all analyst (That's what Dr. B and ESPN yahoos get paid for), I will do my best to predict the situation as it currently stands.

Right now, UTC is in repair mode. They first had to plug three major holes: New AD, new women's BB coach, new men's BB coach. Blackburn was hired and and backed up his commitment by offering serious coin (by UTC's standards) with the hirings of Foster and Wade. Blackburn's next course of action, which is numero uno, is generating funds for the Athletic Department by any means necessary short of NCAA violations. For right now, if I was David Blackburn and I was talking to Dr. B, I would say flat out the fundraising is job one. I would hint that a conference move is ineviable but state we are no position to make such a move (because we really aren't).

Moving on, the current SoCon is still in-tact at least for this year. So in order to build momentum for a move, I would advise my big three (Huesman, Wade, and Foster) to do what they are paid to do: Win ballgames. This would be the toughest for Wade because all eyes are on him and the fact other than Z-Mason and a couple of others, he doesn't have a whole lot to work with. Even our new 6' 9 dude is not eligable for another year and boosters want this program back up and running overnight. The excuse of "I CAN'T REWRITE THE LAWS OF PHYSICS CAPTAIN! I CAN'T START THE ENGINE UP COLD!" only works in television.

Best case scenerio is this: Huesman is able to win the SoCon championship this year. After four years and lot of seasoned players, there should be no excuse not to. Foster continues to upgrade the Lady Mocs and Wade has the program to a healthy status within a year. This in turn should help with whatever methods D.B. uses to generate coin for the program.

My estimate is Blackburn has at best two years from today for the program to be in a position to where they can negotiate a move to either the Sun Belt or OVC. By then, the SoCon will be a shell of its former self and WILL DRAG UTC down with it if it does not get out. Knowing the community, they will go Sun Belt but would be satisfied with the OVC.

May 23, 2013 at 3:12 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Direct quote from I-man:

“In recent years, it became increasingly evident that Elon’s negative view of the diversity in the Southern Conference was not shared by the majority of the membership. Our core group remains firmly committed to each other and to the academic and athletic success of the Southern Conference. We are preparing specific initiatives to achieve that success.”

OUCH-standing.

May 23, 2013 at 3:30 p.m.
Stewwie said...

The SoCon will be weaker in both football and basketball going forward, but is that necessarily a bad thing for the Mocs at this point? With an automatic bid to the postseason in both sports, a weaker conference schedule will help us get there year after year. And the continued successes will be attractive to the good recruits.

That said, I can understand a move to the OVC if that is the desire of the powers that be. However, I think that any thoughts of a move to the FBS should be put on the back burner for now and let's wait and see how GSU and App St. fare first. I think the FCS is what's best for the Mocs for at least the near future.

May 23, 2013 at 3:36 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

The athletic ability is better than ever before but I'm not so sure about the level of play. Way too much one pass, run an isolation set, maybe you're open, maybe you're not, chuck up a guarded 18-footer, don't contest the rebound and jog back down to the other end as annoying music thumps through the PA system. At least, that's the Atlanta Hawks-Josh Smith version of the NBA. Haven't seen much else different from the rest of Mr. Stern's minions.

May 23, 2013 at 3:46 p.m.
sportsfan said...

Jay - I don't have any rejected water park names to add to your list, but Mrs Sportsfan just told me that there are weight restrictions at the new Soakya water park and they won't let me wear my jeans shorts with metal rivets. What am I gonna do til football season starts? That can be for the mailbag.

May 23, 2013 at 8:43 p.m.
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