5-at-10: Baseball, Bray, betting and birthdays

5-at-10: Baseball, Bray, betting and birthdays

October 3rd, 2012 by Jay Greeson in Sportscolumns

Gang, nice discussion Tuesday. Well-played. Remember Friday's mailbag and to keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.

From the "Talks too much studios," here we go...

Atlanta Braves Kris Medlen

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Baseball hodgepodge

The Braves are set to host St. Louis in the one-game wildcard showdown. Mr. Medlen report to the training room, Mr. Medlen report to the training room. The Cards are in after the Dodgers lost late last night. Stupid Dodgers.

Miguel Cabrera continued his silent assault on the first triple crown since unleaded gas become the norm. Cabrera went 2-for-3 Tuesday to raise his average to .331 and to extend his lead in the batting race to seven points over Mike Trout. He is one homer and 11 RBIs ahead of Josh Hamilton. How quiet has this been? Heck, there are a lot of baseball folks who think Trout deserves the AL MVP, even though Cabrera is likely to win the triple crown.

Adam Greenberg had the most enjoyable strike out in recent memory. Greenberg, the former Chicago Cubs player who had one big-league at-bat and was plunked in the melon and never made a return to the majors, got a second chance Tuesday. He fanned on three pitches against R.A. Dickey, but his 1,000-watt smile was unforgettable.

Speaking of R.A. Dickey, the former University of Tennessee hoss and NL Cy Young frontrunner, revealed he pitched almost all of the 2012 torn abdominal muscle that will require surgery in the coming days. Dickey had a 2.73 ERA, a 20-6 record for a bad Mets team, a mind-blowing 1.05 WHiP for a knuckleballer and is one tough son of a gun.

Going into the final day of the regular season, the Yankees have a one-game lead on the Orioles and the A's and Rangers are tied in the West. Oakland and Texas face each other tonight in a huge game - the winner gets into the AL divisional series; the loser has to play in the wildcard showdown. The Yankees have been the latest team on the receiving end of Booby Valentine's blessed gifts as a manager.

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Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Bray debate

Our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer has a column in today's TFP sports section. You can read it here http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/oct/03/letter-to-tennessees-bray-time-to-be-the-vols/.

We have believed since July that Tyler Bray has first-round NFL talent. We love the draft. You know this. On his first 2013 NFL draft big board, guru Mel Kiper Jr. had Bray listed as the second draft-eligible quarterback.

Bray's physical gifts are elite. Plus arm strength, plus release, better than average accuracy and pocket presence.

But the production has not matched the product. Bray has not delivered against the best - and we all know that quarterbacks get too much credit or blame depending on the outcome, but that's the nature of the beast and the blessing and curse of being a quarterback. Is that fair, probably not? Is it reality? Absolutely.

Winners write history in all walks of life, and it's the same for quarterbacks. Trent Dilfer is the remembered face of the journeyman QB because he won a Super Bowl. Despite his undeniable gifts and eye-popping stats, what's the first thing you think of when you hear Dan Marino's name -other than Isotoner gloves, of course?

So Tyler Bray now has passed the halfway point of his college career and his highlights are as jaw-dropping as the absence of a meaningful win from his resume is eye-popping.

What the future holds is unknown, which is a bit telling for a guy with first-round talent at the most important position in sports.

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Silver lining

In the grand scheme of things, almost all of us can agree that the replacement refs were on par with New Coke and cole slaw on the scale of bad ideas.

Well, don't shovel that stuff to Gino DiFelice of Ontario. Mr. DiFelice won more than $725,000 on a $5 wager when he picked all 15 NFL games correctly, and the final win of that monster parlay was made possible by the atrocious Monday Night Football call that gave the Seahawks the win over the Packers.

The kicker here is DiFelice normally turns in two parlay sheets - which is brilliantly done by the Canadian lottery (and if you want to bring the Hope scholarships back into solid financial footing, find a way to get football parlays on the list of Tennessee lottery options). One sheet DiFelice does himself; one he lets his kids help. His sheet went 4-11; the kids-aided one went 15-0 and was worth almost three-quarters of a million bucks.

DiFelice said the final 90 seconds of that game was torture, and the video review seemed to last days.

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This and that

- Orlando Magic forward Glen "Big Baby" Davis took to The Twittter to discuss the departure of stud center Dwight Howard. When asked about what the Magic will miss most from Howard, Davis tweeted Howard was a, "A great farter. He can fart. He can fart loud -- the loudest farts. Silent farts." Sounds like Howard was a five-tool tooter, and it's stunning how he never led them to a title with that kind of ability.

- Make it stop. Mike McQueary is suing Penn State in a whistle-blower lawsuit that is reportedly seeking millions of dollars in damages. Mike, Mike, Mike. You're the one that saw what you saw in the shower, and you're the one that has to answer the whispering questions inside your soul about whether you did or did not do enough. Your demons are yours, guy.

- Did anyone watch the 30-for-30 "Broke" last night? We watched some of it and was underwhelmed. It dealt with a tough subject for athletes to talk about - their personal shortcomings - but far too much of the millions squandered were blamed on outside parties. Other than Andre Rison, and his B-O-S-S sunglasses, there was not enough of the behind the scenes story of financial irresponsibility. (And granted, a part of our underwhelm-ment is because we have such high expectations for all of the 30-for-30 series. So it goes.)

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Today's question

A childhood spent reading the backs of baseball cards leaves you with a strange wealth of knowledge. Among them, is the fact we know that Dave Winfield, Dennis Eckersley and Brian Downing were born on this day. So it goes.

Then it dawned on us, that Winfield may be the most underrated total athlete of our lifetime. Dude was drafted by in three sports - by the Padres in baseball, the Vikings in football and the Hawks in hoops - out of the University of Minnesota.

In fact, in the modern era, our Rushmore of best all-around athletes would be Bo, Deion, Winfield and Jordan. That's pretty stout company.

What's your Rushmore of all-around athletes since 1970?