Gang, remember the mailbag — we have some spots open.
We're going to be in and out today preparing for company — we and about 2,000 of our closest fans of high school sports are convening at the Convention Center tonight. As Ed tells H.I. in Raising Arizona, "We got some decent people coming over."
From the "Talks too much," happy Dale Jr. day.
Pacers stay alive
Paul George went nuts — scoring 21 of his game-high 37 points in the fourth quarter — and the Indiana Pacers prevailed 93-90 in a must-win Game 5 Thursday.
And that's about it. Well other than....
LeBron James played the worst game of his career and Lance Stephenson blew in his ear on national TV. Read that again.
James was saddled with foul problems — which could be a completely different discussion — and finished with just seven points. Seven. Dude never got going early, going 1-of-5 from the floor before heading to the bench with foul No. 3 midway through quarter No. 2. He picked up fouls four and five early in the third quarter.
Still, the Pacers needed a career night from George to keep a James-less Heat at bay. Miami's reserves — was that a Rashard Lewis sighting? — and Dwyane Wade battled, but fell short.
The question now is how will James respond after the pesky gnat that is Stephenson again challenged him with the subtle flirting gesture that was a) a calling card for Arthur Fonzarelli and b) a major talking point in postgame interviews.
So it goes. And we'll see how the King responds, because Game 6 becomes big for the Heatles. Game 7, remember, is back in Indiana.
We'll get another litmus test on the value of Tiger Woods to the PGA Tour and golf in general.
Woods will miss the U.S. Open, unable to return from the back surgery that has now sidelined him for three months.
Without Woods — and the struggling Phil Mickelson, who missed the cut — the Masters had its lowest weekend ratings since before Tiger turned pro. Not good, and that was the Masters, the tournament and tradition unlike any other.
Now the U.S. Open returns to Pinehurst No. 2, a challenging course with turtle-backed greens that has gone under a $2.5 million renovation in the last three years that could give birth to a no-name champion — hello Michael Campbell, who won there in 2005.
A star-less leaderboard and a course that will require players to grind out pars and play safe.
Philly Mick to the white courtesy phone please, Mr. Mick to the white courtesy phone.
Early signing possibilities
As TFP SEC ace David Paschall tells us here, the SEC is reluctant to an early signing period, but if the issue is forced, they would prefer the early signing day be the Monday after Thanksgiving rather than in the summer.
Now is it fair to question the fact whether the SEC is going to get 'forced' into anything in the world of college football? Of course it is. Still, the thought of this is intriguing, and we have long held the belief that an early signing period would be a very good thing for the high school players, especially those that get tired of the process.
We think the early day should be even earlier than in late November — right in the middle of the season seems strange — and could even see a situation where they could have one in May before a kid's senior year. Kids are committing that early and if they are ready, let them pull the trigger.
Another idea is letting the really committed players sign on national signing day — the first Wednesday of February — of their junior year. Again, kids are committing that early already and that would have little alteration to the current recruiting calender.
Thoughts? Early signing period, friend or foe?
This and that
— Also among our craziness today is a scheduled interview with Titans first-round pick Taylor Lewan for Press Row, which should air early in the 5 p.m. part of the show. Listen in locally on 105.1 FM and online here at timesfreepress.com.
— The Braves called up second base prospect Tommy La Stella. As Spy noted on the radio show yesterday, here's hoping The Struggla becomes a rallying cry of La Stella. The kid collected two hits in his debut — Viva La Stella — and leads the majors with a .500 average (if he was eligible) and is on pace to be the all-time leader in average, on-base percentage and possibly hits. But the Braves lost as they made John Lackey look like John Smoltz. Viva La Stella.
— Man, this Sterling roller coaster is hard to follow. The Donald says he'll fight to the end. The Mrs. is setting deadlines for bids. All the while the dial is rolling on the lawyers' time clock. Somebody's going to get paid.
— Brad Pitt got attacked on the red carpet of the premier of wife Angelina Jolie's movie 'Maleficent.' That stinks. Side note: Pitt has putt together a pretty eclectic and not-too-shabby catalog of feature flicks. From Inglorious to Fight Club to Se7en to even the first Ocean's Eleven movie, to his early stuff of a River Runs Through It (vastly underrated) and Legends of the Fall. Pretty solid.
— Johnny Football says his Vegas trip is not a story and how he spends his down time is his BID-ness. He's right, and he's wrong. He's Johnny Football because he does things like this and we talk about it. He gets paid and makes endorsement money — he has like a dozen copyrights on his various nicknames and such — on these type of things. So it's a story until it's not a story, and when it's not a story, well, Johnny Football will be a greeter in Vegas rather than a guest.
— The man the myth the legend, Dr. James Andrews and some cohort had released a position paper about Tommy John surgeries. You can read it here. Interesting stuff. Some of it is expected and common knowledge; some of it is a little surprising, like this statement: "Biomechanical research and epidemiologic research have not shown a strong connection between curveball and elbow injuries. Too much competitive pitching and pitching while fatigued are the biggest risk factors."
We may have asked this before, but we'll trot it out today in honor of Dale Earnhardt Jr. coming to town.
What's the all-time sporting father-son combos?
The Dales are on there for sure.
Who else you got?
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 ...