From the "Talks too much studio" here we go...
Rest easy big guy
We'd be remiss if we did not mention the huge talent we lost in Michael Clarke Duncan, who died Monday night.
Dude had more range than you realized, considering he shared - and even stole - the screen from Tom Hanks and Will Ferrell in completely different genres. That'd be like a musical artist sharing the stage with George Strait and Weird Al at the heights of their game and stealing the spotlight.
Not too bad for a guy who broke into the showbiz game by being a bodyguard of the Notorious B.I.G. (Moment of silence please - that'll do.)
So let's take a moment to review the weekend with the five most memorable M-C-D movies. (Hey, you know we love a good list show. And considering we've coming off a holiday weekend, the 5-at-10 having a themed, list show was not even on the board as a betting option in Vegas. So it goes.)
1) Green Mile: M-C-D's tour de force goes to the weekend's biggest headline stealer, your Alabama Crimson Tide. If you're a quarterback, and you line up opposite the stable of athletes that Nick Saban has assembled and they are aligned where Nick Saban has aligned them, the goal line appears to be a green mile away. OK, maybe that was a stretch, but not by much. As our SEC ace David Paschall noted in today's Alabama story http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/sep/04/tide-will-try-to-avoid-letdown-vs-wku/, the Tide went on a 70-0 run from the third quarter of the Auburn game last November through the BCS title game demolition of LSU to just before halftime after building a 31-0 lead on Michigan.
2) Talladega Nights: NASCAR heads to the final weekend of its regular season with several teams still in position to make the Chase. In truth, of all the changes NASCAR has enacted - and we can only remember about a third of them since they can decide things on Tuesday, race that way on Sunday and then change again Wednesday - the fact that an early September race in Richmond has this much at stake is a good thing.
3) Armageddon: First off, don't bad mouth Armageddon. Is it cheesy and goofy and sappy and fill-in-the-blank with any number of corny synonyms? Of course it is. But it's also a Rushmore member of the movies so bad they're good: Armageddon (Buscemi is great), Road House, Toy Soliders and Raw Deal. It also is the perfect description of what is on the horizon for the NFL. Replacement refs is up there with Leprechaun: In the Hood, the 75th Friday 13th and Ninja III as ideas that were born completely out of the need to save a buck. It may not happen Wednesday night in the opener or even Sunday, but know that at some point very soon, the replacement refs will be the story everyone is talking about.
4) Friday: Our man M-C-D had a small role in the awesome Ice Cube, Chris Tucker original. And with that we'll take one more look back to the monumental Vols' win last Friday night. There's no way to put a value on UT's 35-21 win over N.C. State. Not in the locker room, not on the Interwebs not among the fan base. It was simply huge, and that it was impressive is simply a bonus. With Florida looking vulnerable, it's a very real possibility that these Vols will be 4-0 heading into a showdown with Georgia.
5) Sin City: Vegas was better than anticipated in the opening weekend. The lines were tight and the numbers tighter. That said, there were three gambling highlights of the weekend (beyond the 5-at-10's picks going 3-2 against the number, of course): First, the books took a bath on Alabama's overpowering win over Michigan. More than half the bets were on the Wolverines, but almost 70 percent of the money was on the Tide. That means the smart gamblers (i.e. the pros) were on the Tide heavy. Second, Houston was a 34.5-point favorite and lost to Texas State. It's only the seventh time since 1980 that a 34-point (or more) underdog won outright. Third, Oklahoma State was a 67.5-point favorite over Savannah State. It was the biggest spread ever, and it still was not big enough since the Cowboys won 84-0. (Which yet again proves that if a line looks too good to be true, it normally is.)
Braves' secret weapon
The Braves won 6-1 Monday and still hold the NL wildcard lead. And a big reason why is Krafty Kris Medlen.
Ah, that krafty, kudley Kris Medlen is a sweet blend of Greg Maddux, Jerry Mathers and David Silver (Brian Austin Green's character from 90210). That would be a right-handed pitching wizard with a baby face and a funky, new hat twist.
OK, here's what we know. Medlen has been untouchable since moving back into the rotation. Heck, he's been untouchable as a starting pitcher in a Braves uniform. Atlanta has won 18 consecutive games in which Medlen started on the mound. Yes, 18. That's the longest streak in the majors since the human formerly known as Roger Clemens won 20 games - and allegedly suffered through 400 back zits, ate three bats, bench-pressed two VW Passats and a killed a small village of kittens for sport - with the Yankees in 2001.
And, if asked in early June, if there was an impossible Rushmore of people Kris Medlen would be compared to, we'll take our chances with Maddux, the Beav, B-A-G and Clemens. Wow. Where were we?
OK, Medlen's 6-0 with a 0.54 ERA in seven starts since July 31. He has not allowed an earned run since Aug. 11 - heck, back then we still thought Michigan could compete with Alabama. (Well, y'all thought that; the 5-at-10 has said from the start the Tide is the team to beat.)
To make the Medlen magic more meaningful, his dominance comes at a time when NL East-leading Washington is about to either a) sit ace Stephen Strasburg or b) say, "We're just kidding," and let Strasburg pitch beyond his 170-innings limit. (The latter would make sense if you're a Nationals fan but be a tough pill for the entire sport to swallow since every level of baseball has some sort of pitch limit and/or innings limit and for the big boys to send the message of, "Hey this is important unless it's not important because we're winning," is less than good.)
In fact, the Braves said the decision to start Medlen in the bullpen this year was a way to save his innings - he had arm surgery last year like Strasburg did - for later in the year.
Either way, Medlen has been a legit ace for a team that has starved for one, considering the injuries to Hanson and Beachy, the ups and downs of Hudson and the stinkyness of Jurrjens and Minor.
Thank you Kris Medlen. All of Smyrna loves you.
Yes, we know we've spent about 2,000 words already - hey, they don't call it the "Talks too much studio" by accident - so let's move quickly. The NFL starts Wednesday with the Cowboys and the Giants kicking it off.
Let's break down the NFC today. Deal? Deal.
Division winners: Packers, Falcons, 49ers, Eagles
Wildcards: Bears, Giants
NFC player of the year: Aaron Rodgers, Packers
NFC defensive player of the year: Navarro Brown, 49ers
NFC offensive rookie of the year: David Wilson, Giants
NFC defensive rookie of the year: Luke Kuechly, Panthers
First round of playoffs: 49ers over Giants; Eagles over Bears
Second round: Falcons over 49ers; Packers over Eagles
NFC title game: Packers over Falcons
Feel free to discuss.
This and that
- The Ryder Cup selections will be made about the time this is posted. We think U.S. captain Davis Love will pick Steve Stricker, Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker. Call it a hunch.
- And it may not matter with the way Rory McIlroy is playing of late.
- Yep, the prize money in golf is nuts considering on average Tiger Woods needed two starts to make more money playing golf than Sam Snead. This weekend Woods became the first golfer to top $100 million in career earnings. Snead, who has a PGA Tour record 82 career wins, won all of $620,000 and change. Woods has won tournaments that paid more than $1 million 38 times, and he has averaged collecting $362,276.89 for each of his 277 career starts.
- OK, Bobby Valentine may be the single biggest baseball mistake since the White Sox wore shorts in the 1970s and certainly the biggest Red Sox miscue since dealing Jeff Bagwell for Larry Andersen 22 years ago last Friday. Sweet buckets of sour chowder, it has become terrible in Beantown.
- Tough loss for the Ga. Tech Yellow Jackets last night. What do we make of those uniforms? Thoughts Spy?
We'll normally do this on Mondays, but since most of you good folks took Monday to be with family, we rolled it a day this week.
Who had the better weekend:
- Rory McIlroy, who likely wrapped up player of the year honors?
- Nick Saban, who had his spot atop his profession sealed in liquid cement?
- Derek Dooley, who despite his "Weekend at Bernie's" attire had his team ready to play and unleashed Cordarrelle Patterson on the masses?
- Dr. B, who is a doctor after all and has been singing Cordarrelle's praises like he was the second coming of Randy Moss, which now looks clairvoyant rather than homerish?
And, with that said, who had the worse weekend:
- Bill O'Brien, who took the emotionally tattered Penn State family back to the field only to be handed a 24-14 loss by Ohio?
- Lance Armstrong, who has had a former teammate and a former significant other questioned about his PED past?
- Joker Phillips, who needs to polish the resume after Louisville hammered his Kentucky Wildcats on Sunday?
- The Old Navy dude that approved the hundreds of thousands T-shirts that had to be recalled that had "Houston Texans 1961 AFC champions" on them?
- Donovan McNabb, who has spent this preseason waiting by the silent phone as his once Hall-of-Fame, now above-average career came to an end at someone else's choice?