Gang, remember the mailbag, and thanks for the feedback and support — here and on Press Row. It's much-appreciated.
From the "Talks too much" studios, hey Eazy, why you wear your pants so baggy? For easy access baby.
LeBron James and the Heat bounced the Nets and a couple of his long-time nemeses. James went for 29. The dagger was delivered by Ray Allen, who hit a corner 3 in the final minute to give the Heat the lead for good. More on this in a moment.
The Spurs thumped Portland to also advance to the conference finals. Each team now waits for its dancing partner to see which teams get to the NBA Finals.
The Pacers will look to join the Heat in the East tonight. Indiana has a 3-2 lead and plays at Washington. Same scenario in the West, where OKC takes a 3-2 lead to L.A. to play the Clippers. Good times.
As for the Heat, where does Ray Allen rank among the greats of the game? Is he a top-50 player all-time? A 17-year veteran and 10-time all-star who is in the top 30 in scoring and has titles with different teams. He will also be the subject of today's Rushmore.
The NCAA released the APR scores of its college sports teams on Wednesday.
Of course, the first question is — What is the APR? Glad you asked. The Academic Progress Report is a score on a 1-to-1,000 scale that charts two things primarily, the eligibility of each scholarship athlete and the progress toward graduation for each. If a team scores less than 930, it faces NCAA penalties. The most important score is the one that is a program's four-year average.
Here are the four-year averages of SEC football teams:
• South Carolina 980
• Missouri 980
• Alabama 975
• Vanderbilt 974
• Mississippi State 974
• Texas A&M 971
• Florida 969
• Georgia 967
• Auburn 965
• Ole Miss 946
• LSU 946
• Kentucky 937
• Arkansas 935
• Tennessee 932 (to be fair, Butch Jones and Co. posted a 962 over the last graded cycle to lift this score)
Also of note, as all-around TFP ace Stephen Hargis notes here , the UTC athletic department continues to have a banner year. Each sport easily surpassed the bench mark — soccer was the lowest at UTC and that was still a 962 — and a special tip of smarty cap to men's golf and men's cross country for posting four-year scores of a perfect 1,000. Well-played.
On the other end of the spectrum, Oklahoma State's score of 929.41 meant the Cowboys will have to give up a day of practice each week this season. Ouch-standing. They should be OK — they're men, even in less than a 40-hour week.
San Francisco Giants left fielder Michael Morse, right, is congratulated today by third base coach Tim Flannery (1) after hitting a solo home run off of Atlanta Braves pitcher Alex Wood during their baseball game in San Francisco.
The Braves lost at San Francisco. That's hardly surprising considering the Braves are Custer to the Giants.
We could do a Good, Bad and Uggla, but there was not a lot of good, plenty of bad — including the continued super struggles of Stinky Upton — and relatively no Uggla. Again.
Dan Uggla pinch-hit in the 10-4 loss Wednesday afternoon, flying out on the only pitch he saw. He is at .183 on the season and is 1-for-15 in May and 3-for-his-last-34.
We asked yesterday for thoughts on how to handle this matter — and this was after weekend reports that Fredi (with an 'i') Gonzalez was completely bungling this ordeal.
Fredi admitted to the AJC that Uggla's role had changed but said he had not discussed that with the player. Bad form. In fact, that form is every bit as bad as Uggla's swing.
But when your third-highest paid player has four official at-bats in the last week — and he's not on the DL — things have to be addressed, whether Fredi with an 'i' wants to or not.
In fact, this has now moved beyond Frdi's desk. It's time for Frank Wren to get involved and find Danny Struggla a new home. If that happens via trade great. If that happens via waivers, great. If that happens via "Two guys and a truck" so be it.
It's time for Dan to go.
Every player goes through struggles. Ups and downs, downs and ups. Heck, as Crash said, the difference between hitting .250 and .300 is one extra hit a week. A more ground ball with eyes and you're in Yankee Stadium.
But when the struggles become the expectation — and worse, the norm — and when those expectations of failure permeate any organization, well, that must be changed. And to extend this relationship runs the risk of poisoning the entire clubhouse.
Uggla may be a great guy in the locker room, but questions about his place and the differences in interactions become commonplace. When those things happen, then they become distractions, and hitting a baseball is tough enough that any controllable distraction must be eliminated.
We know Uggla can't hit water from the shore, but if his presence is going to start affecting the others in the lineup, well, it's time for Frank Wren to cross his cross his t's and dot his i's.
(Yep, we meant to do that.)
This and that
— Casey Kasem has been found in Washington. Wonder if he had his feet on the ground and was reaching for the stars?
— The New York Post is reporting that everyone's favorite curmudgeon Donald Sterling has another round of audio tapes out there. Here's the story http://nypost.com/2014/05/14/sterling-stiviano-was-an-animal-in-bed/.
— Sweet buckets, there was a high school kid who threw 194 pitches in 14 innings. That coach should be fired. Today. Yes, we believe there is too much babying of arms at times and that has hurt arms too. But 194 in one start?
Feel free to riff on any of the above including the Uggla dilemma and more.
Here are our Ray Allen questions:
Who is on your Rushmore of clutch shooters? We believe Allen has found a spot.
Is Ray Allen a Hall of Famer?
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 ...