5 at 10: Dodgers Renewed, Payton's Place and Who's the Best Coach in the Final Four

5 at 10: Dodgers Renewed, Payton's Place and Who's the Best Coach in the Final Four

March 28th, 2012 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

Los Angeles Dodgers

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Don't forget about Friday's mailbag - we'll have a full one this week, we promise.

From the "Talks Too Much Studios" here we go.

Dodgers Blue no more

Growing up a big baseball fan in Smyrna, Ga., right outside Atlanta, it makes complete sense that the 5-at-10 has been a lifelong Dodgers fan, right? Of course not, but that's how it goes. (The best present we can remember from Santa was a "real-life" Starter Dodgers' bullpen jacket just like the ones the big leaguers wore. It was awesome.)

Well, the Dodgers recent decade of struggles and embarrassments have not gone unnoticed. In fact, the Dodgers are one of "those" franchises in sports that simply should be better than average every year. For the franchise, its fans and the sport. Baseball is better when the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Braves and Cubs are better than most. Football is more enjoyable when the Cowboys, Steelers, Raiders and Packers are competitive. The NBA feels right when the Lakers, Celtics and Bulls are relevant. Call this big-city bias, call it sports' sense of entitlement, call it whatever you like. But it's true and it's simple - these are the teams that generate feeling and emotion from the fans, and everyone knows it's much better when sports are laced with feeling.

Anyhoo, the Dodgers appear to be emerging from the dark cloud that was Frank and Jamie McCourt's destructive tenure as owners. And it appears that Magic Johnson, the former Lakers superstar and unofficial ambassador of L.A., is a key figure in the group that is paying $2 billion - yes, billion with a 'B' - for the Dodgers. Sure, Magic is putting a relative small part of the $2 billion - yes, billion with a 'B' - but still, it's Magic and it's Magic smile and it's what L.A. sports should be.

And yes, there are nine-figure adjustments to the aging cathedral that is Dodger Stadium and close to nine-figure adjustments to the rosters of the major league and minor league clubs. (Not sure how this affects the Chattanooga Lookouts, the Dodgers' AA affiliate, but we'll look into it.)

But those questions are for another day for Dodgers fans. This day was about moving forward with new owners. This day was about taking away the pain and the darkness that was arguably the worst decade in the franchise's storied history. This day was about re-found belief.

This day was about believing in Magic.

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New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Payton speaks

After his historic suspension for the 2012 season, New Orleans coach of the past/future Sean Payton spoke to the media Tuesday.

Here are the highlights:

- He's grateful for the chance to appeal Roger Goodell's year-long suspension (and his loss of almost $6 million is salary) for Payton's role in Bounty-gate and his decision to ignore the league's requests and attempts to cover-up the Bounty process.

- He's has spoken with Bill Parcells and apparently played golf with the legendary former NFL coach known as the "Big Tuna." The two sides are obviously kicking the tires on the possibility of Parcells roaming the sidelines for the Saints this fall.

- He's "100 percent" sure he'll be the Saints' coach in 2013.

OK, great Sean. Just great.

First off, skip the appeal. Just do it. You got caught trying to make this mess go away, and that's what the year is for. The bounty is bad enough but if the NFL can;t force the head coaches to enforce their rules, well, the system is broken way beyond Bounty-gate, Spy-gate, Open-gate or even Gateway to the West.

As for the other, for kicks and giggles, let's say Parcells takes the reins, goes 14-2 and wins a title - but does it without bounties and injuring opposing QBs - what happens then in 2013. Hey, Payton is a great coach and he'll have more jobs in the future, but 2013 is a long way off. And if football terms and the NFL realm - where everyone has a bounty on their job - one season is a lifetime.

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Los Angeles Lakers

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

NBA update

It's been a while sense we've given the NBA a look-see.

Well, there is much noise afoot.

The Lakers have benched Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum on separate occasions in the last week. As Kobe said recently, the Lakers are in third place and everyone believes they are imploding. Maybe they are maybe they aren't, but Kobe still has final say on who is coming out of the West. Period.

Reports from Miami state LeBron James may have dislocated the ring finger on his left (non-shooting) hand. James is on an Oscar Robertson-type pace this season - averaging 26.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game - and looks the part of a sure-fire MVP. How this affects him is unknown of course, but here's saying the numbers and injuries will not alter what will determine James' season. The final factor on whether LeBron had a good year or not will be determined this June in the final quarters of the NBA finals. Period.

There's more of course - Oklahoma City and Chicago pulling away with the conference leads - but the big storylines are the Lakers and LeBron.

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This and that

- Dennis Rodman owes more than $850,000 in child support and alimony. His lawyer says Rodman, who made a hair less than $27 million playing for four different NBA teams, is broke and an alcoholic. (Side note: Rodman was the Andrew Luck - the sure-fire No. 1 pick - of the "Which former NBA all-star is going to be broke next after Allen Iverson" draft.)

- Freddie Freeman homered twice in a rare Braves' spring training win Tuesday. Freeman is now up to .262 this spring with five homers - four in the last two games. He'll be fine and be part of a strong top five in the Braves order that likely will be Michael Bourne, Martin Prado, Brian McCann, Dan Uggla, Freeman. That's a nice group. From there, however, it slides - especially until Chipper Jones returns from his knee injury. The strikeout law firm of Heyward, Diaz and whichever rookie plays short has been swinging like rusty gates this spring.

- UConn and Notre Dame completed the women's Final Four, denying our resident UK fan Chas9 of a UK double-up in the Final Four. Alas. The bigger question for the women's game is where have the upsets gone. There were four 1-vs.-2 matchups that produced a Final Four of four No. 1 seeds. Either there is simply zero balance of power or the women's committee is a collection of Joe Lunardis on bracket steroids.

- The New York Giants will host the Dallas Cowboys to open the NFL season. Is that next week? Alas, no it's not until September.

- Programming note: We're planning on stopping by the spacious and luxurious SportTalk studios for some, you guessed it, sports talk around 4ish today. Give it a listen if you can, don't cost nothing.

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Today's question

Who's the best coach at the Final Four? Why?

Yes, these are four college basketball big-boy programs. Yes, these are four coaches who have earned some serious accolades.

But who's the best and why? And we're looking right now, at this moment, who would you want to coach your club.

Right now we'd rank them:

  1. Bill Self
  2. Coach Cal
  3. Ricky P
  4. That guy at Ohio State that choose coaching over being a science teacher... Thad what's his name.

(Career-wise, we'd go Pitino, Self, Calipari, Matta, but the question is who is the best coach right now.)

Enjoy