5 at 10: Derby Debate, NBA star power and stumbling Braves

5 at 10: Derby Debate, NBA star power and stumbling Braves

May 2nd, 2012 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

Before we start, we wanted to thank the folks who stopped by Tuesday; it was one of our better back-and-forth sessions in a while. Nice job all the way around.

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

Kentucky Derby hopeful Daddy Nose Best yawns as he gets a bath outside Barn 38 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., Monday, April 30, 2012 following his training. The 138th running of the Kentucky Derby is Saturday, May 5. (AP Photo/Garry Jones)

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

More contests

Who doesn't love a good contest, right? It's time for our second annual First In/Last In Derby Debate.

The rules are simple: Give us the winner and the horse that you think will finish dead last. Each is worth two points. (If no one picks the winner, we'll award one point to the highest-finishing picked horse.) The tie-breaker will be after the fact and it will be a paragraph essay contest on whether there is a drink out there that's worse than a Mint Julep, which sounds as tough as kittens but can be as painful as an IRS audit. Seriously, a Mint Julep is a mint leaf, bourbon, sugar and water, and maybe we have never had a proper one, but we know we've never had a good one. And we like bourbon. (Bourbony, bourbon, bourbon. Here it goes down, down in my belly.)

There is a Seattle slew of horses that could win this year, making this one of the more unpredictable Derby fields ever.

That said, none of the horses on the final list of those that will be announce in the field this afternoon are any of the following:

1) Glue Stick

2) Mr. Ed's Mouthpiece

3) Alpo, Alpo, it's off to work we go

4) Short Bus

5) Nachos

6) Washington Hogwallop (yes that's a reference to "O Brother Where Art Thou" - a movie we sorely under-use here)

7) Strollin'

8) Elmer's Choice

9) FleaBag

10) Quitter

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Injured Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose leaves the court before the start of game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Chicago Bulls in Game 2 in the first round of the NBA basketball playoffs in Chicago, Tuesday, May 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Star power

Sheer mathematics tells us that basketball can be affected more by one great player than any team sport. There's fewer people and there are more chances to go one-on-one, which means there are more chances to magnify a great player.

With that, the three NBA playoff games Tuesday highlighted the greatness of great players. And their importance.

Without Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls looked as confused as the 5-at-10 at a Vegan restaurant. There was no flow, there was no purpose and there was an actual sense of panic as the Philadelphia 76ers rolled after halftime in a 109-92 win at Chicago.

With Paul Pierce looking like his 2004 self, the Celtics snatched a win from Atlanta on Tuesday to head back to Boston at 1-1. Let's be real honest, there are more than half the franchises in pro sports that have ZERO chance of winning a title, right? It's hard to see the Atlanta Hawks ever winning a title. (And you may have heard that we love the draft - in fact you know this - but as bad a pick as JaMarcus Russell was, you can make a hard argument that the Hawks taking Marvin Williams over Chris Paul and Deron Williams is almost as bad.)

And if you want to talk about star power and taking over a game, Kobe Bryant is an all-timer on that list. There with MJ and Bird and a select few, Bryant can flip a switch and go from superstar to unstoppable to turn out the lights this one's over.

Around the NBA playoffs

Orlando and Indiana tied at 1. Next: Tonight at Orlando (NBA TV)

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

Atlanta and Boston tied at 1. Next: Friday at Boston

Chicago and Philly tied at 1. Next: Friday at Philadelphia

Western Conference

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

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

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

LA Lakers lead Denver 2-0. Next: Friday at Denver

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Philadelphia Phillies' Jimmy Rollins, right, is tagged out while stealing second base by Atlanta Braves shortstop Tyler Pastornicky in the sixth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 1, 2012, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Braves stumble

One of the great things about baseball is pace. The game seems slow but the mood can turn in a blink of an eye.

Your Atlanta Braves stumbled and fumbled away a game against Philadelphia on Monday. The winning run scored on a wild pitch by Jonny Venters, who was roughed up in the 4-2 defeat. Venters, who normally is as reliable as a toddler's curiosity, allowed two runs on four hits - marking only the fourth time in 174 career games that he has allowed four or more hits in a game.

The Braves will send Tommy Hanson to the mound tonight against Roy Halladay for a game that certainly feels bigger than May 2.

Side note: Here's saying Brian McCann is about to get hot. He homered off lefty Cole Hamels on Monday, and Thursday is scheduled to face Joe Blanton, a pitcher McCann has pounded. Dude is too good a hitter to be scuffling around .240.

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This and that

- If we were talking about the Preds, we'd mention that there is no way to overstate tonight's home game against Phoenix. If we were going to take a chance and discuss the Preds, we'd say that the Bridgestone Arena will be rocking and a quick start is paramount - for the fans, the team and especially goaltender Pekka Rinne. But, since the 5-at-10 has jinxed the Preds and we're not talking about said Preds, there's no way we're going to mention any of that stuff.

- Former Titans quarterback Vince Young had a tryout with the Buffalo Bills. Young is a puzzling draft bust - dude looked all-world in college, right? Now he's scuffling around the league hoping to be someone's No. 3. Wow, how about that 2006 draft that went Mario Williams, Reggie Bush, Vince Young 1-2-3? If you reordered that draft, and the Texans, Saints and Titans each drafted the same position, the order would have been Haloti Ngata, Maurice Jones-Drew, Jay Cutler.

- Is there a franchise with more positive aura right now than the L.A. Dodgers? Trade the McCourt soap opera for Magic Johnson's smile and a group of investors that include a 12-figure investment firm. Plus, L.A. has the best pitcher on the planet (yes, we're on the Yu Darvish bandwagon - the Yu-Go - but he's not better than Clayton Kershaw) and the best position player in the game in Matt Kemp, who hit .417 with 12 homers and 25 RBIs in April. And they are 17-7 in the weakest division in baseball. War Dodgers. Where's Fernando?

- Shout out to WC777 and know the only way to get there is to keep going.

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Today's question(s)

After the first month of the season, the previously mentioned Matt Kemp and Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton are putting up sick numbers.

In fact, each is in the top two in his league in the three triple crown categories. Kemp leads the NL in average and homers and his 25 RBIs is two behind teammate Andre Either. Hamilton (.395, 9 HRs, 25 RBIs) shares the lead in homers and leads in RBIs. He is five points behind Derek Jeter in average. (Yes, that means the 37-year-old Jeter is hitting .400. Scary stuff right there.)

First question: Could either Kemp or Hamilton actually win a triple crown?

Second question: Which triple crown will we see next - horse racing or baseball?

Third question: Which is the most impressive feat: baseball triple crown, horse racing triple crown, tennis grand slam, golf grand slam?

Discuss.