Before we get to the mailbag, we wanted to offer our thanks and best wishes to Luis from the web team. Luis and his bride are leaving the TFP to seek their fame and fortune elsewhere. We wish them the best and thank Luis for his excellent contributions. Luis was the Photoshop wizard that offered some of the done up pictures of the 5-at-10 on various folks from Webster to Swayze to The Jerk (zip it Spy). Good luck gang, and feel free to swing by the 5-at-10 down the road. It don't cost nothing.
From the "Talks too much studios," let's get to the mailbag...
What do you think the chances are that the Braves re-sign Michael Bourn? If not, do you think Jose Constanza could do the job on a daily basis? The 2 things that Constanza has going for him is his hair and his last name, right?
The Braves have to resign Bourn. Have to. Or at least they have to make every effort, and if Bourn wants a $100-million deal, then you cut bait.
Look at where the Braves are: They are close to the top in a competitive division. They are losing one outfielder already (left fielder Martin Prado will move to third to replace Chipper Jones). They have some coin to spend with Jones coming off the payroll and the corpse of a contract that was Derek Lowe coming off the books. They have the pieces for a strong lineup, but Bourn at the top is of paramount importance, especially in the post-steroid-testing era when homers are down and creating runs are magnified.
As for Constanza, we believe he could be a fall back answer to replace Prado in left, but it's a stretch for him to be the everyday center fielder and lead-off hitter.
As for Constanza's last name, is there any way his nickname is not T-Bone. And how may Seinfeld lines does this dude from Santo Domingo get. It has to be off the charts right?
We also believe he has excellent hair. There are only a select few who can pull off the Mohawk. Mr. T is the modern day John Wayne of Mohawks. Shute from Vision Quest had a boss Mohawk. (One most underrated sports movies out there with a world-class smack talk line: Shute the state's reigning bad dude asks Mattie Modine if he's going to make weight to wrestle.
Shute: Think you'll make the weight?
Loudon Swain: Don't know. I hope so.
Shute: I hope so too.
We may need a 5-at-10 with a Mohawk. Luis, whatcha got.
Been a while 5, hope everything is good in your world. (Sorry about the Tigers. They stink.)
I have two questions for you: I saw that Beano Cook died and wanted to know what Pretend Les Miles would have to say about Beano's great career.
I also was watching TV and saw one of those Progressive insurance commercials and started to wonder if that creepy lady has become the Julia Roberts of commercial actress. What do you think?
Thanks, and how do you think the boys will do against Mississippi?
Thanks for the condolences, and yes, they stink.
We had a lot of respect for Beano Cook. Dude help create a true piece of modern sports entertainment - the college football pregame show. That's a strong legacy.
Granted at the end, he became as known for his jowels and his missed picks as he did his long ago insight, but know there was a time when dude was a legit college football expert.
As for the exchange, well, we'll do the best we can:
Beano: Coach, you have built a tremendous program that has the parallels and feel of some of those great 1980s Oklahoma teams - great defense, great energy, a quarterback who couldn't throw a fit in diapers. Your thoughts?
Pretend Les Miles: Well, Beano, thanks. I think. I certainly enjoy the fact that in any regard the finish is there. Beano. We want all comparisons and compare all of them with the want of the former and latter. And that want is wanting.
Beano: Do you speak English?
Pretend Les Miles: Of course. But not all discussions in footballese can have a lot of different meanings, but the goal is always the same. And if that trophy foes away from you it means a lot more to you whether it be a boot, a shoe or a toothpick.
Beano: That's interesting. I think. In some ways it's like college football in general. And in the college football TV world ESPN is like your family, it's always there. The networks are like your mother-in-law. They are there on the weekends.
Pretend Les Miles: Well I can certainly say that wanting the presence of an individual relative is relative with the wanting of that individual's presence. And presents don't hurt either.
Beano: No doubt, Les, no doubt. In fact gifts may be up there with some of the best things in life. Remember though, you only have to bat a thousand in two things - flying and heart transplants. Everything else you can go four for five.
Pretend Les Miles: Four of five? Ha. You've been away from the game too long. Four of five means you're falling behind the Sabans and the rest of the world. This a dog-eat-dog BID-ness now, Beans, and I have every intention of being the dog.
As for the commercial part, absolutely, Flo has become Flo forever. If she went on to win an Oscar, it would have to be as Flo in the Progressive Insurance Commercial: A Love Story.
Here's our Rushmore of unforgettable but unknown actors that will forever be that "commercial person" Mikey from Life cereal; Flo; the Wendy's "Where's the Beef" lady and the "Time to make the doughnuts" guy from Dunkin' Donuts.
PS - We think Auburn plays well Saturday. But we're the eternal Auburn optimist. So it goes, but you knew that.
This is not my first question, but I didn't want to sign in again.
I wanted to tell you that I enjoy your column. It's a good way to waste time but you really do talk too much.
As for my question, well, it's been such a crazy week, I was kind of hoping you could give us a winners/losers recap of playoff baseball, college football, TV and wildcard? Is that a fair question.
PS - When did college football become so stressful? Wow.
We've fallen behind schedule and we're running late, so here's a quick winners/losers:
Playoff baseball winner: Fans. Wow how great have the games been and how much drama has been laid out there. Fun times all around. (Side winner to Justin Verlander who dotted the exclamation point on, "This is what an ACE does!" with Thursday's great showing against the A's.)
Playoff baseball loser: Cincinnati in general, and manager Dusty Baker in particular. So it goes.
College football winner: South Carolina. No 3 in the polls and carrying a panache unforeseen in those parts. Want to know how to build a winning program: Find a great coach and pay through the nose to get him.
College football loser: The Big Ten. First the new logo - B1G stinks - and is confusing. The legends and leaders are the divisions. And the only team in the national title conversation is THE Ohio State, and the Buckeyes, by self-inflicted measures, are ineligible.
TV winner: Watched "Nashville" last night. We're in. We don't have a whole lot of extra time for extra shows, but we're going to give this one a shot.
TV loser: Wow, there was a time when "The Office" was must-see TV. Now it's a car wreck. You can't take your eyes off it because it's that bad, and worse still, it's like a car wreck where you know the people involved and hope they get out unscathed. Sad really.
Wildcard winner: We want some suggestions here.
Wildcard loser: We want some suggestions here, too.
Question for the mailbag: We constantly hear/read about the pass-happy NFL and inflated stats in today's pro game. People mainly attribute the awesome passing stats to the rules changes to benefit QBs a few years back. However, is it more due to the rules changes, or should more credit be given to the current crop of QBs and receivers?
Excellent question. And the answer is yes.
The pinball scores that pass for passing stats in today's NFL can be attributed to a slew of reasons. Let's examine:
1) The rules encourage coaches to throw the ball. This is by design because the league office and TV networks like offense. Know what a Sunday afternoon with 3-0 is? That's the AL Central. Nope, the NFL and its TV partners want 35-31 with a quarterback with the ball in the last two minutes. So the rules - defensive backs can't sneeze on receivers after 5 yards, holding is by-and-large ignored, and if you do much more than tickle a star QB, it's 15 yards - are in place to maximize a passing offense.
2) The offenses are excellent. The quarterbacks are getting world-class - and year-round - coaching from high school on up. The receivers are amazing athletes. The coaches are crafting better and more confusing sets and schemes that make playing defense in the NFL the athletic equivalent of advanced calculus and doing differential equations.
3) The excellent athletes that are playing defense have helped push the league into its pass-happy state. It's next to impossible to run the football in the NFL with any consistency because there are 270-pound linebackers who run sub-4.7s.
The worm will eventually turn, though. It always does because football is a copycat league that is predicated on practice habits. And if you follow the path, a new offensive idea comes up, it takes the league by storm because it's new and teams can't prepare for it. Then the other teams in the league start doing it, and defenses start practicing against it and drafting players to fit a scheme to stop it. So when defenses become completely comfortable with five DBs and speedy linebackers to match-up with athletic tight ends, some bright whipper-snapper with a bright visor will say, "Hey, they have a bunch of speed on defense, let's get a 250-pound running back and go right at them off left tackle. Who's with us?"
I never imagined I would ever think that playing Miss St would be a big game but this year it is. With Dooley coaching from the box this Sat night, if TN wins do you think we might hear some Vol folks (and I'm a one of them) say with Dooley off the sidelines we finally beat a ranked team? For the record I hope he does well in Knoxville and it gets turned around.
We are right there with you, in each regard. In fact, we believe this game is off-the-charts big and we believe the Vols know it. (How often can you hear, "Dooley's 0-12 against ranked teams" before it starts to wear on you?)
We also believe that there are moments in sports that carry more weight and radiate even before they happen. Moments in a possession, a game and a season. This is one of those moments. This is one of the moments that you know the outcome of Saturday will lead to more. Will it be more good or more bad? More frustration or more excitement? More angst or more hope??This is one of those moments, a fork in the road for these Vols and potentially the Vols of tomorrow if you believe this is the game Dooley needs to win to get off the hot seat. A split in the path that carries two separate directions and two distinct results. There is no competing and standing toe-to-toe this week. This is the core of team sports meritocracy - it's win or lose, there's no close.
Be it a missed call, a tough break or bad luck, a loss is a loss Saturday, and it will hurt.
And if success is reached Saturday, there will be a few folks who say, "Well, without Dooley on the sideline, we finally beat a ranked team." And that's their right, but more than likely nothing short of beating Alabama will convert those to the pro-Orange Slacks camp.
Saturday is paramount for the undecided Johnny Vols Fans out there. And we can see the weight of these stakes since everyone - coaches, players, et al. - know the stakes.
Whether they deliver will be a testament - good or bad - about how much loyalty and respect Dooley has within the walls of the program. Will they produce knowing Dooley needs it Saturday more than ever?
We'll see, and whether he's on the field or in the press box, Saturday will tell us plenty about UT football and its coach.