5-at-10: Number 700 (How'd we ever win 8?)

5-at-10: Number 700 (How'd we ever win 8?)

June 24th, 2013 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

Welcome to the 5-at-10, the whimsical, family-oriented, interweb-based (mostly) sports column that celebrates an anniversary this morning.

We've trotted out our morning ramblings for 700 consecutive Mondays-through-Fridays - including vacations and holidays (much to the chagrin of the Mrs. 5-at-10) - since we started in October 2010.

Wow, and to paraphrase the manager in Bull Durham, how'd we ever get to eight? It's a miracle.

Well, the daily miracle keeps churning along, loving the draft and the SEC and trying our best to figure a way to address any situation with the wisdom of Ron Burgandy, Pepper Brooks, Crash Davis, Norman Dale, Al Czervik and Judge Elihu Smails, or Rush Chairman Eric "Otter" Stratton.

Every now and then we'll engage in a lively debate, and sometimes it's not about football or our fondness of all things draft and LeBron James.

As always, let's get cracking. From the "Talks too much" studios, let's pay a tribute to numbers with this oldie but a goldie from George W. - "It's clearly a budget; it's got a lot of numbers in it." Amen and pass the biscuits.

Number 1

Being first is what makes the pursuit of sports success and excellence so rewarding.

Winning the lottery is great, but that's just the reward. Winning a title - be it team or individual - is sweeter because of the effort and sacrifice and work put in to reap the spoils of victory. (Now if someone wants to trade the winning PowerBall numbers for that 1988 Region basketball championship, we're listening.)

So with that, we have tipped our respect cap toward the Heat and their celebration to back-to-back titles. (Side question: Did you see the club where the Heat celebrated last week picked up the check on the six-figure alcohol tab? How come the folks that can afford a six-figure alcohol check get comped, and everyday working Joes like the 5-at-10 and Todd and Spy, when we run up six-figure alcohol tabs we have to either a) put our Bud Light on layaway (and we don't know much, but we do know if you have to finance your bar tab, you may need to seek assistance) or b) start putting rounds on SeaBass's check?)

We also tip the visor to Ken Duke, the journeyman pro golf veteran who delivered a birdie on the second playoff hole for his first career PGA Tour win. What a moment, and what a finish considering that Duke had to to survive Chris Stroud's 51-foot chip-in birdie on the final hole to force the playoff.

UTC coach John Shulman

UTC coach John Shulman

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Duke, who developed a friendship with former UTC basketball coach John Shulman during the years of the then-Nationwide event at Black Creek, used a world-class break on No. 10 Sunday. Duke turned his approach into the trees left of the green, but the ball ricocheted off the limbs and settled 6 feet from the hole. He made the birdie putt.

Hey, luck always helps, but winning No. 1 after 187 PGA Tour starts has less to do with luck than life. Duke weathered and survived and fought the good fight until his time was at hand, and he made the most of that time. Sure, you need a break here or there, but luck is for the lottery. Heck, Kenny Duke is an overnight sensation 19 years in the making.

Picking 1st

Sticking with our number theme, numbers-crunching has been a part of the draft that has actually made it even more intriguing in recent years.

In fact, the numbers analysis is really what makes the distinction between good picks and great ones and makes the divide between bad picks even worse. Who will be available when matters. So does whether you could have gotten a certain former Florida quarterback who struggles with his accuracy, is an all-around good dude and his name sounds like Jim Jebow at least one round later than when Josh McDaniels picked him.

It all plays into the equation. And with the NBA draft this week, we'll look at the best and worst picks in the basketball selection process in recent years.

Let's start with the negative.

Sure, we all know that the Trailblazers took Sam Bowie over MJ in 1984, but we can at least defend their thinking there. At the time, Portland had one good player - shooting guard Clyde Drexler - and he played the same position as MJ. (If you wanted to ask why the Trailblazers passed on future Hall of Famers at power forward and point guard - Charles Barkley and John Stockton - in the same draft, you could really lament the worst NBA draft picks of all time.)

Still, looking at need and nature, we'll say the worst draft pick in NBA history was the Atlanta Hawks taking Marvin Williams No. 2 overall with future Hall of Fame point guards Chris Paul and Deron Williams still on the board. Yes, the franchise who's best point guard is still Doc Rivers, plucked Starvin' Marvin Williams over two sure-fire point guard prospects. And remember, Williams had come off a freshman season at UNC in which he did not start for his college team.

The Hawks are still paying for this decision.

There does not appear to be the same stakes in this week's draft because there does not seem to be a true difference-making presence in pool. So it goes. We still love the draft.

And just to show we're not all negative, Marvin Williams has a boss name. His given name is Marvin Gaye Williams Jr. Don't let the smooth taste fool you.

Numberology start to college football countdown

We stated last week that with college football now less than 10 weeks out - we're nine weeks from this Thursday from the opening act, but who's counting - that we would spend each of the next six weeks looking at some of the college football teams of interest to those around these parts.

This week we'll start with Auburn.

And to play into the number theme of this week's show, is there another school that can 100-percent say with certainty that its best football player and basketball player wore the same number? It happened at Auburn, where Chuck Barkley and Bo Jackson each wore No. 34.

As we get comfortable with the college football countdown, we'll spend Monday covering the basics and if you have questions, feel free. We'll also all-but guarantee a mailbag question about the team in question.


2012 record 3-9 overall, bagel-8 in the SEC

Highlights: That 2012 is over; A team great effort against LSU

Lowlights: There were several, lowlighted by the season ending with world-class spankings against Georgia and Alabama.

Fallout: The coaching staff was purged. The emotional state of the fan base is in flux. The hated arch-rival in Tuscaloosa and Lord Valder-Saban are the class of college football. Auburn's dealing with a lot of stuff.

Biggest question: Is there a competent quarterback in the 334?

Second biggest question: Can new coach Gus Malzahn flip the script in the college-football-crazy state of Alabama, even if he's going to a gun fight with a peeling knife by comparison?

This and that

- Enjoyed our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer's look at the Braves in today's TFP. The numbers that caught our eye were these: "Yet the team is 40-9 in 2013 when hitting at least one home run. Unfortunately, the Braves are 4-24 when they fail to hit at least one pitch out of the yard." Wow.

LeBron James

LeBron James

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

- Miami columnist Barry Jackson polled eight Hall of Famers and Shaq O'Neal about where LeBron James ranks among the best in NBA history. The answers varied wildly. Scottie Pippen says James is the most complete player ever and will be the best of all-time. (Think Scottie and MJ are hanging out and kicking back Co-Colas during retirement? Likely not.) Magic Johnson said James is top-10 and "rising fast." Chuck Barkley said he's not sure if James would ever crack the top 5 (Kareem, Wilt, Russell, Jordan and Oscar Robertson) and Shaq said LeBron does not rank in the top 10. Seriously Shaq? Put down the Gold Bond and pay attention. Of the anti-LeBron folks out there, can anyone name 10 players in NBA history you would rather have than LeBron James?

- Congrats to Martin Truex Jr., who ended a 218-race winless streak. We could make a serious, "Who is the best Jr." joke here, but why. Let's go here: We were starting to wonder if Martin Truex III would toddle his way to victory lane before his old man.

- Side question: What's your Rushmore of Juniors: Cal Ripken and Ken Griffey are no-doubters. Floyd Mayweather Jr. is likely there too. Is Dale Jr. there? Who else is out there? Marvin Gaye Williams Jr. will not make the cut.

- One more golf note: Bubba Watson was in the hunt at the Travelers on Sunday before making triple-bogey on No. 16. Buh-bye. He handled it with the grace and poise of a chainsaw, hammering his caddie loud enough for the CBS cameras to pick up on the tongue-lashing. You stay classy Panhandle.

Today's question

Today has been about the numbers and we appreciate you guys playing along.

What's the Rushmore of numbers in sports?

It could be 1,000, as in the accepted measure for a successful season for a running back or a receiver. It could be 500, as in the number of homers that used to be the gold standard of power-hitting excellence. (Granted, in the PED-era that number, like a lot of other syringe-injected items, seems pretty tainted since guys like Puffy Palmeiro, Sammy "big head" Sosa and Mark "Big Back Acne" McGwire each blew beyond that number.)

But across the landscape of sports what are the numbers that carry the significance. Here are our four, and some of them are multi-purposed:

- 1, as in No. 1, the chase for championships and getting to raise one finger in joyful reason rather than in boyful response

- 3, as in Dale Earnhardt, Babe Ruth, the 3-pointer and the cornucopia of 3s in the baseball lexicon

- 100, as in Wilt's mark of excellence and the highlight mark for football running backs and receivers; and the almost-mythical speed of the Greek God of fastballs

- 300, as the gold-plated standard for pitching wins, the accepted level of batting average excellence and the bowling number of perfection

Discus? (And tomorrow, we'll talk about jersey numbers, too.)