5-at-10: Tie that binds, Time to cut Uggla, Delany's double talk and Rushmores of child sports stars

5-at-10: Tie that binds, Time to cut Uggla, Delany's double talk and Rushmores of child sports stars

June 23rd, 2014 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

Now that was fun. Thanks soccer folks for including us - much props to the Twitter chat Sunday - @jgreesontfp - and the feedback. Good stuff.

From the "Talks too much" studios, we believe.... well you know. (We believe in God the Father..., We can fly..., We believe children are the future..., We believe we can win..., We believe there are a lot of "We believes...")

A tie that binds

United States' Clint Dempsey, left, celebrates scoring his side's second goal during the group G World Cup soccer match between the USA and Portugal at the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, Brazil, Sunday, June 22, 2014.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

The U.S. men's soccer team played exceedingly well Sunday before having a win ripped from their grasp by a Hail Mary-esque goal off a perfect pass from arguably the sport's biggest star.

In the end it was a 2-2 tie that felt like a loss but still leaves the U.S. in fine shape to advance from group play. The U.S. would have clinched a ticket into the next round if not for the latest goal - coming in the 95th minute and with mere seconds left - off a perfect cross from Cristiano Ronaldo. It was awesome to watch.

The hidden truth here is that the expectation for the U.S. team has catapulted, and that's a good thing. There was real disappointment - understandably so - and now not advancing would be a crushing blow for the U.S.

And with those growing expectations comes an undeniable acknowledgement of improvement: If before the tournament, almost everyone involved with the U.S. squad would have accepted a draw with Portugal right? Now it's viewed as a disappointment. That's a good thing in the growth of a program

Still, from the view of someone who only gets into soccer once every fours years, Sunday was high drama and greatly entertaining.

From Jermaine Jones' perfect goal that left the Portugal keeper dazed and confused - L-I-V-I-N, livin' - to Clint Dempsey continuing to be that guy who is always in the right spot at the right time, this was fun.

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Court hijinks

In more and more ways, the sporting world is being judged by those in robes rather than those in attendance.

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling, right, sits with his wife, Rochelle, during a Clippers NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons in Los Angeles in this 2010 file photo.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Court rooms have become as common place as court-side seats this summer, whether it's the Sterling fiasco or more serious matters like Aaron Hernadez being on trial for multiple murders.

Still, the one that could have full sweeping changes is in Oakland, where Ed O'Bannon's suit against the NCAA continues this week.

To close last week, Mark Emmert continued to be less-than-impressive and at times strained believability by saying college sports would not be as popular if the players were paid. Be for paying players or be against paying players - we're actually against it but understand the debate when Nick Saban and John Calipari are making roughly $7 million per season - but do not offer that paying players would make the games less popular.

That's like saying Beyonce wearing tennis would make her less attractive. It's apples and pineapples.

To make matters worse, Jim Delany, the Big Ten commissioner and one of the power brokers in all of college sports, continued to stretch the fiber of credibility when he took it another step or 30.

While trying to reinforce the stance that paying players was against the very core of college sports, Delany said he couldn't see league members agreeing to it, ergo, he said that schools that did agree to paying players would be removed from the Big Ten because of the imbalance between paying and not paying players.

He even took it a step further, telling the court, "There wouldn't be a Rose Bowl if either they or we were operating in a very different wavelength in terms of paying players," according to The Associated Press.

Jim. JIM! C'mon man. Are we supposed to believe the Big Ten would tell THE Ohio State or Michigan or Indiana hoops so long and good night if they started offering stipends or extra checks? Jim. JIM! The whole union affair happened in the Big Ten, remember. Dude, whose side are you on, because at times, you and Dooffleshirt Emmert seem like ace witnesses for the plantiff.

Egad.

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Braves

Well it's been a while, and since we started drifting away from our daily Braves report, the Braves started drifting away from the top spot in the NL East.

After Sunday's 4-1 loss that completed a four-game split with first-place Washington, the Braves are 38-37 and 1.5 behind the Nationals. There are two teams in baseball that have winning records and are on the negative side of run differential - the Braves at minus-14 and the Yankess at minus-30.

Washington Nationals' Danny Espinosa (8) is safe at first against Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, left, during their baseball game on Sunday, June 22, 2014, in Washington.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

These are less than high times, considering the Braves started 17-7 and this bunch was built around a starting staff that was impressive in its depth but has started to leak oil.

With that in mind, let's review - and know that we know the season is long, but it's hard to find reason to believe with this bunch right now.

The good: Evan Gattis has been the best hitting catcher in the National League. He and Freddie Freeman and the non-stinky Upton form a nice, albeit streaky, middle of the lineup. Chris Johnson's average is starting to climb, too. Julio Teheran has ace stuff. Despite his struggles, we believe Craig Kimbrel is as good as there is in the game.

The bad: Despite improving numbers and decent looking pieces, the offense is one of the worst in baseball - next to last in runs scored in the majors - because it is plagued by high-volume strikeouts and a gross inability to deliver with two outs. The arm injuries that have ravaged this team for the last two years are starting to take a toll. Wow, would the last healthy arm turn off the whirlpool?

The Uggla: We had AJC Braves beat guy Dave O'Brien on Press Row a couple of weeks ago and he said Danny Struggla was a pro's pro in how he has handled the professional train wreck that has become his career. Man, this is becoming a Shakespearean tragedy. Uggla's last year in Florida he hit .287 with 33 homers and 105 RBIs. That was 2010. In three-plus years he's gone from the best hitting second baseman in the game to a punch line. His four years in Atlanta have gotten progressively worse - .233 in '11, .220 in '12, .179 last year and .163 as of this moment in '14 - to the point that the Braves are realistically taking a 24-man roster in almost every game. He has played in eight games in June and is 0-for-9. He is 3-for-48 since April 24. Ouch-standing. Time to cut bait and realize that the money spent is money wasted. Yes, it's a lot of money wasted, but if no other team is willing to part with a box of balls and case of sunflower seeds for Uggla - and that's with the Braves picking up a sizable part of that $13 million contract - then the team has to make a move. Now. This bunch is not good enough to have a void on the roster, and rightly or wrongly, Uggla has become non-existant.

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This and that

- Incredible finish to the PGA event Sunday as Kevin Streelman birdied the final seven holes to come from way back in the pack to win the Travelers. Question: If seven straight birdies fall in the cup and no one is watching did it really happen? Rest easy golf fans, Tiger returns next week, and whether you like him or loathe him, we all know for sure now that golf needs Tiger way more than Tiger needs golf.

- How about you Vandy? The Commodors take the field tonight in the first of a best-of-three College World Series final against Virginia. War Smart Kids.

New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, left, makes a move against the defense of Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce during the first half in Game 4 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series in Boston, Sunday, April 28, 2013.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

- Carmelo Anthony opted out of his contract with the New York Knicks. We always thought NYC was the perfect for Carmelo - overpriced, stuffy, less-than-friendly, more sizzle than substance - but who knows. The dominos of the AAU, hey-let's-hook-up-and-make-a-super-team player machinations are just starting. In other news, while Chicago is visioned as the front-runner for Anthony, Bulls mending point guard Derrick Rose states he'd rather have Kevin Love than Carmelo. Alrighty then.

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Today's question

We will offer dichotomic Rushmore today in honor of Michelle Wie winning the U.S. Open to garner her first major championship.

We have know of Wie, who was a Nike star before she could drive, since she was very young. With this win, she has delivered on the vast potential we first witnessed when she qualified for the Open at the tender age of 10 - 14 years ago.

So with that Wie officially arrived and moved from the Rushmore of child sports stars that never did to the Rushmore of child sports stars that delivered.

Who is on the Rushmore of child sports stars that flamed (Hi, Todd Marinovich) and those that made good on being a savant at a young age (Tiger Woods is far left)?

Discuss.