5-at-10: Fun Braves, NBA -- where losing is cool, running backs drop

5-at-10: Fun Braves, NBA -- where losing is cool, running backs drop

April 17th, 2014 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

Gang, remember the mailbag.

From the "Talks too much" studios, it's the best Jerry. The best.

Braves

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Julio Teheran reacts after Philadelphia Phillies' Cody Asche flied out to end the eighth inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, April 16, 2014, in Philadelphia. Atlanta won 1-0.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Julio Teheran was aces Wednesday night, going the distance in a 1-0 gem that was awesome in its awesomeness. Maybe it's because we missed them in the offseason, but this Braves team is fun to watch right now. Good times. Evan Gattis homered and went 4-for-4.

The good - We asked this on The Twitter last night: Is Roger McDowell the best pitching coach in the bigs right now? Maybe so, considering the Braves lost their Nos. 1 and 3 starters in spring training and one of their right-handed set-up guys to season-ending arm injuries, and the team ranks second in baseball in ERA (2.52) and quality starts (11 in 14 games) and fourth in WHIP and sixth in batting average against (.219). Good? That's great.

The bad - Wow. Say hey, J-Hey so we know you're still alive. Jason Heyward went bagel-for-5 with four Ks and is hitting .145. Ouch-standing, When you are 40 points below BJ Upton, well, that's not good.

The Uggla - Our update of favorite player/nemesis Dan Uggla (he still keeps his actual name off the two-homer night Monday that included a game-winning grand slam that is even better when watching this video on Deadspin) centers more of two very good defensive plays he made in the ninth inning of Julio Teheran's 1-0 masterpiece. Our man Dan went 1-for-4 (just like David Paschall predicted on Wednesday's Press Row on ESPN 105.1 FM) and is at .264. Uggla is 5-for-his-last-12 with two homers and seven RBIs. Is there a 5-at-10 reverse jinx, where if we start poking fun you flip the switch? Happened with Cuonzo. Happened with Uggla. Hmmmmmm. His recent hot streak has lifted his average to its highest point since opening day 2013 when he went 1-for-3 and was hitting .333.

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NBA playoffs

So the NBA regular season ends. Wow that only took like 12 years.

Here are the playoff match-ups, and we'll break them all down and our regular-season awards in Friday's 5-at-10.

Basketball tile

East Division

1) Pacers vs. 8. Hawks

2) Heat vs. 7. Bobcats

3) Raptors vs. 6. Nets

4) Bulls vs. 5. Wizards

West Division

1) Spurs vs. 8. Mavericks

2) Thunder vs. 7. Grizzlies

3) Clippers vs. 6. Warriors

4) Rockets vs. 5. Trail Blazers

The match-ups have been jostled and jangled by teams losing games on purpose. Yes, you read that correctly.

And it makes good sense. It's bad for the sport - losing on purpose is fundamentally opposite of the mission of sports in general - and it happens now for good teams in playoff positioning and bad teams for draft position.

Still, it's hard to argue with the thought process of the Nets, who tanked down the stretch to avoid the Bulls in round one and get in the bracket with the Heat, whom the Nets swept in the regular season.

When it becomes wise strategy to lose on purpose, the league needs to examine this, if for no other reason than it feels so fundamentally wrong.

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NFL's new view

In this Aug. 8, 2013, file photo, Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson talks with teammates on the sideline in the third quarter of a preseason NFL football game against the Washington Redskins in Nashville.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Chris Johnson signed with the Jets. He got half of the $8 million he was set to make with the Titans. He signed a two-year deal that could be worth up to $9 million with incentives.

He was the most accomplished running back on the free agent market, and the truth of the matter is the value of running backs has plummeted. Consider this: Two kickers - Robbie Gould and Dan Bailey - signed contracts bigger than any running back got in the recent cycle. Wow. Kickers with more value than running backs? Welcome to disposal NFL 2014.

This makes you wonder three things: What's the value in the draft? What's the future of the position if kids see running quarterbacks and wide receivers getting the big checks? How long before this switches back?

Discuss, and we'll be back with more on this.

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This and that

- Want to follow a great story in college football? Meet Shon Coleman, the projected starter at left tackle for Auburn. Coleman was a five-star recruit back back in the 2010 class and developed leukemia. He has fought through the disease that caused him to lose 50-plus pounds and is now in line to replace Greg Robinson.

- Speaking of fun baseball, how about JMC's Rangers, who now have four walk-off wins this season. And they beat King Felix last night. Good times.

- The next ESPN 30-for-30 film is tonight on the Detroit Pistons and the Bad Boys. Hope they have the follow-up to that, and how Riley's Knicks and the Jordan Rules and the football in shorts brand of the NBA has set basketball back a generation.

- Cubs got shut out in both games of a doubleheader against the Yankees. It's the first time that's happened since 1988. Ah the Cubs. Making history two losses at a time.

- The NCAA has now reduced its drug rules, allowing for more lenient punishment for pot offenses. This comes on the heels of 24/7 snacks. Somehwere Spicoli smiles.

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Today's question

OK, there is a slew of stuff above to kick around, so feel free. And we have loved the input from the wide array of voices here in recent days. Well-played all-around.

So for today's question, well, let's go here:

The New York Mets single-A affliate is having a Seinfeld night and giving away bobbleheads. Cool idea.

So, in honor of that, we're looking for a Rushmore of non-core Seinfeld charcters. Take our Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer. Who you got on the Rushmore?

Go time.