Gang, hope this finds you well and well, finds you. We will be welcoming new Auburn coach and universal fan favorite Bruce Pearl on Press Row today around 4:30 p.m. If you are outside the power blasts of 105.1 FM, you can listen to it right here on timesfreepress.com. Check it out.
As the Vols turn
Despite petitions and hot seats and talks of other jobs and former coaches, it appears now that the The Conz and the Vols will be together and should get some form of extension done rather quickly.
Unless you live under a rock here in the Volunteer State, you have at least been aware of the love-to-hate/hate-to-love relationship between Johnny Vols Fans, UT administration and The Conz, who appeared on the fast track out of the 865 until a torrid stretch down the stretch propelled the Vols within a 3-pointer from the Elite Eight. Good times.
So the Vols surged, the fans purged and Marquette seemed poised to urge The Conz out of the dysfunctional family dynamic.
Reportedly, Martin has decided to stay in Knoxville and has let it be know he has withdrawn from the Marquette job. Whether that was because Marquette was looking in another direction like Duke assistant Steve Wojoskdhfakjdghasdkjhaskdjhgasdjhki or because Martin wants to stay, who knows. And who cares.
Martin deserves an extension, and while we thought his Vols underachieved for most of the season, we have said all along that the regular season is becoming more and more meaningless, so those struggles were relatively meaningless.
That said, it will be interesting the reaction within the Vols fan base that a coach that just led the Vols to a Sweet 16 and has won 60 percent of his games elected to stay. This was the same group that was devastated when Lane Kiffin left after going 7-6 in one year. So relax Johnny Vols Fans, this time the coach stayed.
Whether the fan base is happy about that will remain to be seen
Baseball opening day
Wow, and with that the first full pitch of the baseball season has started. We are going to track the ups and downs of the Atlanta Braves on a regular basis — hey we were born in the South in the 1970s, so that means three things: 1) We say sir and ma'am; 2) We are never late for church, work or golf (in that order); 3) We have to be able to speak intelligently about the Braves. (The college football craze could be added in there, but that all-consuming passion happened a little later in the time frame.)
So by now you know the Braves lost 2-0 in their season opener. It was a performance that resonates with their long-standing struggles against good pitching. Offensively this team has consistently been about draw walks and hitting homers. That's fine over the long haul when more than half your games are against mediocre arms.
But against good pitchers, like Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo, the Braves struggle to generate offense. It's one of the reasons the Braves have struggled in the postseason for so many years. If we're looking for a positive, however, it's that Danny Struggla's 0-for-4 effort Monday did not include a strikeout. We've set the over/Uggla at .210 this year, do you think gets over that average or not? (We'll take under and feel pretty good about it.)
As for the rest of baseball's opening day, well there was a lot to see. Let's recap:
• Retired Angels slugger Vladimir Guerrero threw out the ceremonial first pitch Monday before the Angels-Mariners. More on him in a moment. Catching the pitch was universally renowned tough-guy Don Baylor, who was hit by more pitches during his day than anyone. So what happened? In a freak accident, Baylor broke his right leg squatting to catch the off-target throw. Sad stuff. As for Guerrero, a look back at dude's numbers, and he's a first-ballot Hall of Famer, right? After playing nine games in 1996, Guerrero played 15 big league seasons and never hit worse than .290. His career average finished at .318 with 449 homers and 181 steals, and he was a homer away from going 40-40 in 2002. Add in the fact that he routinely wads regarded as one of the best defensive outfielders of his generation, and it's a surprisingly one-sided discussion.
• Impressive start for the Nationals. After the run of elbow injuries suffered in Atlanta, Washington appears to be the team to beat in the NL East. After a rocky start by ace Stephen Strasburg, the Nats rallied. Multiple times. Down 3-0 early and 5-4 late, the Nats scored four in the top of the 10th for a 9-7 win. Sure it was the Mets, but the Mets have the look of being that stinky team that causes trouble for someone almost daily.
• If you had to guess the one team to lose 1-0 in extra innings on opening day, it would be the Cubs right? If you had to guess the first team to use the new-fangled instant replay system and still not get the benefit of the review, it would be the Cubs, right? If you had to... Forget it. You get the idea. Go Cubs, get hot. And keep the Old Style cold.
• Ryan Braun got a standing ovation from the Brewers fans in his first at-bat after being suspended for the final 65 games last year for PED use. He also lied through his teeth multiple times about the PEDs, yet still was embraced with the glowing fire reserved for conquering heroes. Whatever. But it's now past time for the baseball powers that be to admit that almost everyone — players, coaches, executives, owners, fans, media, et al. — turned a blind eye to steroids and seems to continue to do so. It''s time to move on.
• Shame on the Texas Rangers fans. Sorry, JMC, but the pregame drunkards who turned the statute of Shannon Stone into a trash can should be embarrassed. Period. Smith, if you recall, was the fan that fell over the rail and died trying to catch a home run ball for his son at a Rangers game, and his statue was littered with beer cans and trash.
Pacers lose. Heat win.
The simple facts tell us that the Heat now have the edge in the race for homecourt in the Eastern Conference.
Does it matter? Hard to know, but as top-heavy as the East is, it seems almost assured that these two teams will meet in the conference finals.
We'll say this: It's hard to remember
This and that
— Gee McGee was among the three players who have transferred from the UTC hoops program. Our all-around TFP ace David Uchiyama had that scoop Monday afternoon. This is not a surprise. This is the process (copyrighted Nick Saban) and simple mathematics.
— Speaking of Saban, Alabama is back to work and let it be know that the Tide linebackers will be slap nasty. Saban also added that college players deserve a say in their future. Of course they do Nick. Do they deserve a say in your practice scehdule, too? Be prepared for a flood of good cop (coaches)/bad cop (administrators) dynamics on the horizon.
— Hey, UConn is pretty good at women's hoops. Hey, UConn is pretty good at hoops in general.
On this April Fool's Day, we honor those great physical comedians that have forever made us laugh.
What's your Rushmore of great physical comedians?
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 ...