5-at-10: Huge UT fan, NFL power poll and Rockets, Astros and the Yak Woman

5-at-10: Huge UT fan, NFL power poll and Rockets, Astros and the Yak Woman

September 11th, 2012 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

Hey, there may be a head-spinning amount of stuff happening, but don't forget Friday's mailbag. If you do, well, there's no telling what could happen, because a player in the streak has got to respect the streak.

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

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Back in Black

How big is this Tennessee-Florida match-up? Well, there are whispers that UT may look to go with all-black uniforms Saturday night. Here's a photo of a possible helmet.

Gang, theses are rumors. RUMORS. But they'd be pretty cool, no?

Sweet buckets, this game means a lot. That said, our UT beat ace Downtown Patrick Brown says the chances of this are "really slim" and he's quick to point out that UT boss Derek Dooley is a big, Big, BIG fan of tradition.

Fans anthem

Have you seen this video about the young UT fan who has a meltdown when he realizes his flag football team is not in orange jerseys? Take a moment.

We all know fans like this. Heck, a large chunk of us are/were fans like this. (Side note: The only difference between this kid and most of us is that they didn't have video cameras in phones and this crazy intertube thing to share embarrassing moments around the globe when we were young.)

So it goes, but here's proposing two things:

First, the stakes get raised and emotions get twitchy when teams start experiencing success. That's a good thing, especially for Tennessee considering the Vols and Johnny Vols Fans everywhere have been forced to watch from the porch the last couple of years.

Second, here's hoping someone in Knoxville sees this and does the cool thing. Send this kid a jersey or a pair of tickets to the Akron game in 10 days.

C'mon Vols, little fellow just gave you a worldwide commercial that will bring smiles to even Alabama fans' faces.

NFL power poll

Baltimore Ravens free safety Ed Reed (20) celebrates his touchdown on an interception with quarterback Joe Flacco in the second half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Baltimore, Monday, Sept. 10, 2012. Baltimore won 44-13.

Baltimore Ravens free safety Ed Reed (20) celebrates...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

We'll rank a top five every Tuesday of the NFL season. This is not a list on potential or pretense (sorry Green Bay, we know you have talent, but there's no room for 0-1 teams after Week 1).

So, after last night's touching tribute to Art Modell by Baltimore - which likely went over as well as a toot in a crowded elevator in Cleveland - here's the five best in pro football:

1) Baltimore: If Joe Flacco plays like that - well are we ready for a world in which Joe Flacco is the NFL MVP? - this team will go 19-0. We bet the 1972 Dolphins are not overly worried about Air Flacco just yet.

2) San Francisco: If you sub out Alex Smith for Joe Flacco in the above sentence, well you get the idea. Again, the 1972 Dolphins - the only team to finish the year unbeaten and win the Super Bowl - are not shaking in their old-guy shoes. That said, the 49ers defense is special, and after stuffing the preseason power poll pick Packers (yes, alliteration is your friend), San Fran is a playoff lock in the worst division in football. Anything less than 12 wins would be a shock.

3) Atlanta: That's an offense loaded with options folks. Julio Jones, we have believed in you from the start. If not for Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones would be the best receiver in the league. How about that overstatement, huh?

4) New England: Here's another overstatement for you: New England will have a top three defense by year's end. Don't sell them short.

5) Dallas: Hey, the Cowboys went to New York, beat the defending Super Bowl champ and did it without a healthy or effective Jason Witten and with pro bowl defensive tackle Jay Ratliffe in street clothes. That said, the Cowboys are the '72 Dolphins of September almost every year.

Baseball puzzles

Sugar Land Skeeters starter Roger Clemens waves to the fans as he leaves during the fifth inning of a minor league baseball game against the Long Island Ducks at Constellation Field Friday, Sept. 7, 2012, in Sugar Land, Texas.

Sugar Land Skeeters starter Roger Clemens waves to...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

The Braves appear to be coasting toward the one-game Wildcard playoff - they are 6.5 back of the Nationals and 5.5 in front of the Cardinals for the top wildcard spot.

The AL playoffs race is a hodgepodge of possibilities from overachievers (Hello, Oakland), underachievers (We're looking at you Detroit) and everything in between. (Side note: There are 10 teams - three division leaders and seven in the mix for the two wildcard spots - and almost all of them are rooting for the same thing: Let our team make it and let the Yankees fold. It's good to be the king.)

That said, the biggest eye-popping development in baseball is the report that Houston may add Roger Clemens for the stretch run. Yes, that Roger Clemens, the 50-year-old right-hander who has pitched eight scoreless innings for the Sugar Land Skeeters and shutout the U.S. legal system on the steroid charges by focusing his defense on the scumpuppy that is Brian McNamee rather than Clemens' guilt or innocence.

Couple, three things here.

If the Astros try to do this, baseball needs to step in. Houston is 44-97 - 53 games under .500 and 31 games back of the wildcard spot. The Astros were eliminated about the same time their fans turned their attention to preseason football practice. (It may have even been spring football practice, but we're trying to be kind). So it's not like the Astros are making this move to make a push for a competitive edge.

No, Houston has only two avenues of explanation. Either the Astros are tanking on purpose to secure the No. 1 overall pick in next year's draft or they are trying to sell tickets. The first one is out since the Astros are 11 games clear of baseball's next biggest loser. So, if the Astros are going to be a sideshow carnival, will the rotation be Clemens, the Yak Woman, the bearded lady, Wandy Rodriguez and the sword swallower? Selling tickets is great, but being a circus is not.

As for Clemens, his motivation for this is clear. He may say he wants to pitch because he loves the competition. Great. He'll even allude to the fact that he wants to help the young pitchers. Sure you do Roger, because your career has been about sharing. (Did the sarcasm come through there?) Some may say he's a spotlight chaser of the highest order and he has very little else beyond the glow of the stadium lights. Hey, all of those are cool and there are millions of us who would do just about anything to pitch in the big leagues.

However, we believe he is hoping to reset his Hall of Fame clock with a single appearance, let the dust settle and the public opinion soften on the steroid mess and try again on the ballot five years from now. Dude is obsessed with being in the Hall, and if he appears on the ballot this coming offseason as scheduled, he has no chance. Plus he would be among the heavy-lifting class of big-time steroid names like Bonds and Sosa.

Do the right thing baseball. We're not holding our breath.

This and that

- Major congrats to Andy Murray, who should not be confused with Aaron Murray, who is not related to Billy Murray. Andy Murray ended one of the more painful chases for a major championship in tennis history with his somewhat surprising win over Novak Djokovic. Hey, we notmally do not spend a lot of time on tennis here, but Murray's run of so-close - especially at this year's Wimbledon - has been magnetic, and to see the journey complete was fun. "Relief is probably the best word I would use to describe how I'm feeling just now," Murray told the AP afterward. "You do think: Is it ever going to happen?"

- We're simply giddy about the UT-Florida game this weekend. This is one of those games that should matter, and this year it does. Plus, as our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer wrote today, the stakes always matter.

- Looking for your high school football fix, here's the TFP sports editor and prep ace Stephen Hargis breaking down the week. And hey, 5-at-10 family, message received. Did you see Hargis' tie? Well-played all around.

- Caesars Palace in Vegas just finished a $17 million buffet. Yes, $17 million. It has more than 50 items and nine chefs. Two things here: One, you notice that gamblers are not building $17 million buffets, it's the casinos doing those type of ventures. Second, somewhere there is a Golden Corral executive sitting back and saying, "Yeah, big deal. Do they offer Cotton Candy." Take that Caesars Palace. Plus, is that place beeper friendly and did the real Caesar stay there? We say no on both counts.

Today's question(s)

What's your Rushmore for superstar athletes who could not leave the game and hurt their legacy?

We'll take Clemens, Favre, Gordie Howe, Jordan. That's a pretty strong list of studs, too. This also leads us to...

What's your Rushmore of athletes who left on their own terms?

We'll take Chipper, Ted Williams, Barry Sanders, Larry Bird.