Gang, it's a busy week, and we're heading to Augusta in a matter of hours. We're planning on relocating the 5-at-10 satellite office there through the weekend. (And yes, since the Masters is a tradition unlike any other, we'll continue our own tradition like any other and had the Masters-only weekend editions of the 5-at-10 on Saturday and Sunday from Augusta National.) Plus, don't forget about Friday's mailbag.
From the "Talks Too Much Studios" here we go.
Masters thoughts and projections
It is the eve of the Masters, the tradition unlike any other. There is no other event like this one in the world. Period. It has forever been about the game and the pressure and course.
The greens are oil-spill slick and roller-coaster wavy, but they are the same for each of the 96 players. The grounds are scenic and pure, and, even without their trademark colors that were swiped by an unseasonably warm winter, if God crafted a sporting venue it would be Augusta National.
It is a throwback jersey and cutting-edge technology. It is a $5 lunch - Pimento Cheese sandwich, chips and a drink - for everyone, regardless if the clientele is a perfect blend of folks who believe that's a good deal or slumming.
The club, the organization, the members and the scene drip with money, yet the tournament is not concerned with it. To trifle with dollars would compromise the golf, and nothing good folks compromises the golf at Augusta National. Nothing.
Yes, we love this event, and we could go on and on, but we won't. There's golf-type stuff to discuss.
- Ernie Els and Retief Goosen will not be in this year's Masters. The 5-at-10 has always been pro-Ernie, so it's a little sad to have the Big Easy absent for the event that he has openly discussed his longing to win. Here's hoping Els, twice a runner-up at Augusta, will find his way back next year.
- Dustin Johnson withdrew because of aback injury. Good thing we did not submit our entry too early, we were expecting big things from him at the majors this year.
- Sweet buckets of unfulfilled promise, did you know that Sergio Garcia enters this week with the current longest streak of consecutive majors with 50? Yes, Sergio Garcia. Want to know who's next? Adam Scott with 42. And, yes, in regards to wins those two cats are a 0-for-92 in those major tournaments.
- As you scan Thursday's tee times http://www.masters.com/en_US/players/pairings/index.html for upset picks, please know that Tiger and Phil have won six of the last 11 green jackets. Just wanted to make sure you were aware of this. Which leads us to...
The Masteing the Masters Masterful contest
Tiger Woods is the main attraction at every tournament. (Well, every tournament other than the Masters, because the Masters is the main attraction at the Masters. We promise that made sense in our head.)
Woods, however, is clearly the lightning rod in every way, especially in the betting circles. Consider the following numbers provided by friend of the show R.J. Bell at pregame.com:
Will Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy win the Masters? Yes: 2.5-to-1/ or No: 1-to-3 (which means betting $300 wins $100)??Finish position by Tiger Woods? Over/under 5.5 place??Will Tiger Woods make the cut? Yes: 1-to-11 ($1100 wins $100) or No: 8-to-1??Will Tiger Woods finish in Top 10? Yes: 1-to-3 ($300 wins $100) No: 2.5-to-1??Highest round by Tiger Woods? Over/under 72.5??Lowest round by Tiger Woods? Over/under 67.5??Lowest round by any golfer? Over/under 65??Winning 72-hole score? Over/under 275??Tiger Woods 72-hole score? Over/under 278.5??Cross-sport prop - What will be higher: Tiger Woods score on Sunday's round or Lebron/Wade/Bosh total points on Sunday?
Wow. We love prop bets. Love them. (Not as much as the draft mind you, but still.) As for our pick of the above, we'll take over 275 (13-under) for the winning score. And how great is that over/under of 5.5 for where Tiger will finish? Those Vegas folks are smart we say. Not dumb like people say. They're smart and they want respect. Sorry for the Godfather II tangent. Where were we? Right the contest.
Here's a rule recap: Submit your top five players (order on the entry is not important) points will be awarded as 10 for first, 7 for second, 5 for third, 4 for fourth and 3 for fifth and one point for each of your golfers that made the cut but did not crack the top 5; perfect score is 29. Whoever has the most points will get a Masters trinket or something (we won't bring you back a pimento cheese sandwich, but don't expect the moon either - the 5-at-10's on a tight budget).
Blueoval - Mickelson, Tiger, Donald, Mcllroy and Mahan
StuckinKent - Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Adam Scott
BIspy4 - McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Jason Day, Keegan Bradley, Geoff Ogilvy
mcpell3 - Verplank, Mickleson, Choi, O'Meara, & Donald.
TFP golf ace David Uchiyama - Tiger, McIlroy, Lee Westwood, KJ Choi and Bo Van Pelt
Mrs. 5-at-10 - Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Zach Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Steve Stricker
We'll have more later, including some other sports folks from the area.
OK, we'll say it - it was pretty awesome seeing Bobby Cox in the dugout with a Braves' cap on Tuesday night. And, here's saying Fredi G better thank his lucky stars that the rain came because Bobby was going to pull some magic out of that hat and find a way for the Future Braves to beat the current Braves.
In the end of course, it's all fine. Tuesday was like a spring football game, in which, the view is determined by perspective more than performance - if the minor leaguers play well it either means great things for the future or struggles for the present, depending on your view.
We prefer to take the best of each for these Braves. (Hey, we're forever the optimist.)
We like this bunch, but there are three things that must happen for Atlanta to play meaningful games in September against an improved NL East.
First, Tim Hudson has to return healthy and be the top-of-the-rotation starter this club craves. With a healthy Hudson, the depth of the rotation 1-through-5 is right there with the Phillies. Without Hudson and moving everyone one step up in the pecking order makes the rotation simply better than average.
Second, the offense needs to find at least two contributors beyond the expected. The Braves have five reliable offensive options: Michael Bourne, Martin Prado, Dan Uggla, Brian McCann and Freddie Freeman. Before you say it, we full know Chipper Jones is reliable when healthy, but we don't know how healthy he'll be. So, if the Braves can find timely and/or consistent production from any two of the collection of Chipper/Jason Heyward/Tyler Pastornicky/whomever else may be in the lineup. (Side note: Is anyone else giddy about an entire season of Braves announcers saying "Pastornicky," because we know we are.)
Third, Fredi Gonzalez simply must not strain and drain the back-end of the bullpen this year. Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel were spent last September, and the shutdown firm of Eric O'Flaherty (78 games), Venters (85) and Kimbrel (79) ranked tied for fifth, first and tied for second in games pitched last year. If Fredi G burns up his bullpen again, the Braves will burn out. Again.
This and that
- It's easy to understand the outrage about the one-and-doners in college basketball. It hurts the game, the programs and the interest-level since no casual fan or a fan base of a major program will really know most of its players until mid-January. But it's the system - not John Calipari - that's to blame. Calipari has figured out a way to recruit to that system, and that's strategy not a sin. It's not unlike Nick Saban and over-signing and his process in college football. Those two guys have figured out a better way within in the system. Period.
- Congrats to Brittney Griner and the rest of the Baylor women's team. Going 40-0 is pretty special in any league, be it the NCAA or the California Penal League like Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn. She has to declare for the WNBA early, right? And if she does go, will there be outrage at Baylor's notorious three-and-out way? (We're kidding of course.)
- The headline simply read: "Ravens' Flacco: 'I think I'm the best.'" And after we wiped the coffee off the computer screen and clicked on the story, it was much easier to understand. Flacco said, " I assume everybody thinks they're a top-five quarterback. I mean, I think I'm the best. I don't think I'm top five, I think I'm the best. I don't think I'd be very successful at my job if I didn't feel that way. I mean, c'mon?" Whew, that was close. That makes better sense. It's a confidence deal. The laws may be different in Maryland, but we know some states that would have you committed to a mental ward for less than the seven-word headline. (Side note: Someone should ask Ray Lewis if he'd rather have Joe Flacco than, say Aaron Rodgers for the next couple of years. Best, huh?)
- Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Tigers starting quarterback James Franklin's recovery from shoulder surgery could be linger beyond spring. "We're expecting that he won't (miss time), but to say that that can't happen, I can't say that," Pinkel said. "We feel that he can get ready to play, but bottom line is we'll have to wait and see what happens."
The NFL unveiled new Nike uniforms Tuesday. Mercifully, other than the overhaul to the Seattle Seahawks' duds, the changes were mostly subtle.
Subtle changes from new Nike uniforms ranks just behind USA Hockey in 1980 and Villanova over Georgetown in 1985 on the surprise scale. Seriously, with Nike's penchant for day-glow colors and outlandish attire, we were expected the Green Bay Highlighters against the Denver Flamigos or the Pittsburgh Black-Outs (it's a slimming color, after all) against the Atlanta Red Birds (a re-purposed version of those awful UGA uniforms from last year's season opener).
Thankfully, though, it was minor changes.
But we still couldn't help but think of the worst uniforms in sports. Be all time or right now, whatcha' got? (And to be fair, Oregon can rank on the worst and the best list depending how they mix and match. And before you say they're terrible, those helmets from the Rose Bowl were awesome in their awesomeness.)
We'll start: Worst all-time is the Chicago White Sox in the mid-1970s, when they wore shorts for crying out loud. The worst current: Any and all of John Daly's golf attire.