5 at 10: Braves a month in, NBA playoffs and questions for Tiger

5 at 10: Braves a month in, NBA playoffs and questions for Tiger

May 1st, 2012 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

From the "Talk too much studios" here we go.

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Minor (36) is shown during a Major League Baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates Monday, April 30, 2012 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Braves a month in

Atlanta lost to Pittsburgh 9-3 Monday night to split its four-game series with the Pirates (what's the bigger question confronting Southerners, "Why the Republicans can't find an electable candidate for President?" or "Why do the Braves always struggle with cruddy opponents?" and maybe only Mitt Romney knows).

With that the Braves put April in the books and let's review.

Atlanta is 14-9 after the first month, a half-game behind surprising Washington. The Braves host scuffling Philadelphia at the Ted tonight. (Before we review, let's comment on the importance of burying the Phillies as much as possible as they are struggling to click. With that much starting pitching, there will be a 14-wins-in-17-games stretch for the Phillies at some point. It's important for Atlanta to get some distance, and that starts tonight with Brandon Beachy vs. Cole Hamels.)

Offensively the Braves were OK in April. Freddie Freeman hit .273 as did Jason Heyward, and those could be termed a mild disappointment and a mild surprise respectively. Apparently the April curse that landed on Dan Uggla last year has found Brian McCann, and other than Michael Bourn the bats have been mediocre. But they have been opportunistic - and give a little credit to Fredi Gonzalez for putting people in motion and trying to create some things.

The pitching has been sound, and will only get better with Tim Hudson's return. And the bullpen is light's out.

As we were discussing with the guys at SportTalk on Monday, it's hard not to be excited about this Braves bunch, and that's huge heading into the dog days of summer.

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Miami Heat LeBron James celebrates with teammate Chris Bosh after a play during the third quarter of game 2 of an NBA Eastern Conference playoff game at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Monday, April 30, 2012. (AP Photo/el Nuevo Herald, David Santiago)

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

NBA Playoffs

So after losing at Miami, Knicks star forward Amar'e Stoudemire had his feeling hurt. He responded to those hurt feelings by punching the glass case protecting a fire extinguisher. We're trying really hard to refrain from any "glass case of emotion" jokes.

Punching a glass case? Really? What happened some girl wouldn't talk to him in study hall?

On a 1-5 scale of stupid with 1 being reading the 5-at-10 and 5 being eating yellow snow (that's not good Spy), this is a 14.

What could the fire extinguisher have possibly said to draw that kind of reaction from Amar'e? And besides, Amar'e has to know that fire extinguishers normally just blow smoke anyway. (Thank you, thank you. And remember to tip your wait staff.)

This just further seals the fate of the Knicks, which has lost 12 consecutive playoff games. The last time the Knicks won a playoff game - April 29, 2001 - the World Trade Center was still vertical.

Around the NBA playoffs:

Atlanta leads Boston 1-0. Next: Tonight at Atlanta (FSS)

Chicago leads Philly 1-0. Next: Tonight at Chicago (TNT)

Orlando and Indiana tied at 1. Next: Wednesday at Orlando

Miami leads New York 2-0. Next: Thursday at New York

Western Conference

LA Lakers lead Denver 1-0. Next: Tonight at L.A. (TNT)

San Antonio leads Utah 1-0. Next: Wednesday at San Antonio

LA Clippers lead Memphis 1-0. Next: Wednesday at Memphis.

Oklahoma City leads Dallas 2-0. Next: Thursday at Dallas

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Golfer Tiger Woods

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

What's your favorite color?

Tiger Woods declined to meet with the media this week, instead choosing to answer selected questions from fans on his Twitter and/or Facespace or whatever social media avenue he deemed worthy.

In truth, Woods should have embraced that idea long before this week. It would have been a great way to re-connect with a slew of fans that were estranged/outraged/perplexed after the off-the-course debacle that came to light around Thanksgiving 2009.

But for Woods to take questions just from the fans and skip out on his obligations to the guys and gals that work tirelessly to cover golf - and the media organizations that spend big coin sending them there - is at best weak and vindictive and more likely cowardly and petty.

For the better part of his decade of golf dominance from 1997-2008, a time frame in which he ascended to the pantheon of sports icons, there was talk that media types were intimidated and/or fearful of being cut out of the loop by Woods. He was that powerful in the sport, and that's never good.

After the wreck on Thanksgiving eve and the sordid details and stories and scandal that followed, Woods was buried from a lot of directions. Some could say it was over the top, but we don't think so considering Woods made a $1 billion and a large part of that was from sponsors who were selling his image and brand, which turned out to be as empty as Woods' major championship trophy case since then.

Now he turns to the fans - a group that has never been super high on his list. (And if they are why does he shout cuss words on the course and throw clubs at Augusta National?) Or is he trying to punish the media, fulfilling the fears from his reign of terror and tremendous golf? Plus, he gets to pick the 14 or so questions he's going to answer, so he can skip the temper issue, the club throwing stuff and anything else he doesn't want to address.

Hey, we think dude should start winning again before he should be the day-in, day-out topic on The Golf Channel, but everyone has to admit that Woods moves the needle on a mass-interest scale. Tiger's agent said this avenue of questions was about trying to reconnect to the fans, and that's all well and good. But if that's true, why not do both? And why make a big deal about the one for the fans? As Woods' biggest financial backer has always said, "Just Do It," rather than "Just Doing It so you can tell us about/Poke the media in the eye by Just Doing It."

It will be interesting to see how the golf media and the PGA Tour handle Woods' decision to skip his news conferences. Is it a matter of Tiger being Tiger, and what would they do if Phil had done this? Or what about Steve Stricker?

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This and that

- OK, we discussed Warren Sapp last month. You remember Sapp, the former All-Pro defensive tackle who made more than $40 million playing football who declared bankruptcy protection and listed his more than 240 pairs of Air Jordans as one of his main assets? Well thankfully Sapp has found a new job to help him out of his financial crisis. Sapp is following in the illustrious legal robes of Judge Judy, Judge Wapner and more than likely Judge Elihu Smails and will wear a robe and disperse made-for-TV justice to a collection of heathens who want to have their 15 minutes of fame and settle which former boyfriend/girfriend owes the other money for what. The paths here are endless, although did you know that Judge Judy hauled in more than $45 million last year. Let's at least hope Sapp does not go over-the-top Smails-style and sentence boys younger than you to the gas chamber. He didn't want to do; he felt he owed it to them.

- We had our way-too-early ranking of the top 20 prospective draft possibilities for next year, and we left off a couple of names that should be there. As some of our Alabama readers rightfully noted, DJ Fluker and CJ Mosely will likely have first-round grades in the draft and all-world grades in the initial world. The biggest omission, though, was LSU safety Eric Reid, who is big, fast and likes to hit, and rumor has the NFL is fond of players like that.

- Did you see the Thunder-Mavs game last night? Give the OKC faithful their due; that's a group that shows up in large numbers. (And how they get them all to wear the same shirt is awesome. Kidding, kidding.)

- OK, it's official. We're on the Yu Darvish bandwagon. Dude is slap sick. He's 4-0 with a 2.18 ERA for the Rangers in five starts as a rookie. He fanned nine Blue Jays in seven innings Monday a 4-1 victory. Reportedly, the 6-foot-5 righty likes to warm-up throwing left-handed, too, (he says it keeps him balanced) and he can throw 85-88 mph left-handed. That's faster with his off-hand than Jamie Moyer. That's as fast with his off-hand as future Hall of Famer Tom Glavine. Crazy. We're on-board the bandwagon. Heck, we'll even call it the Yu-Go.

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Today's question

Would you trade places with Tiger Woods?

Seriously.

Beyond the nine-figure bank account and every creature comfort you can image, here's saying dude is wicked isolated and 90-percent of people in his circle are paid to be there.

He can't really go anywhere in public, and even if he's very-good-to-excellent at his day job, it's still not good enough for yahoos like the 5-at-10.

Would you trade places with Tiger Woods? We sure wouldn't.