5-at-10: Crazy NBA, Arms race, Braves debate and Rushmore of Sams

5-at-10: Crazy NBA, Arms race, Braves debate and Rushmore of Sams

May 14th, 2014 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

Gang, bring the noise - and the mailbag questions.

From the "Talks too much" studios, if R. Kelly says he believes he can fly, shouldn't we believe him?

Braves bounce back

Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike Minor throws against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning of a baseball game in San Francisco on Tuesday, May 13, 2014.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Atlanta is fighting through one of those downward slides that hit every baseball team. The cyclacur nature of the marathon of the baseball season requires good teams to manage rocky times.

The Braves were 17-7 a couple of weeks ago, and take away a three-game sweep of the hapless Cubs, well, the Braves had one win in their last 10 against real competition. But with the sweep, and with an impressive outing from Mike Minor last nigh in San Fran, the Braves continue to fight through. Minor got his first win of the season by throwing 6.2 scoreless innings in a 5-0 win over the Giants.

The good: Minor was special, allowing just five base runners. The bullpen continues to toss doughnuts as three relievers completed the shutout. The bats generated five runs on nine hits, including a couple of two-out RBIs - the team's overwhelming Achilles' Heel - by Stinky Upton and Andrelton Simmons.

The bad: It's a minor quibble (wait for it), but the Braves fanned 12 times, and that's without you know who in the lineup. Still it's hard to complain when the Braves score five, although it feels like they used Wednesday's and Friday's allotment of runs.

The Uggla: We'll discuss this more this afternoon, but we're looking for thoughts on what the Braves should do with Danny Uggla. Thoughts? Yes, Mr. Struggla did not play again Tuesday, even watching as Tyler Pastornicky got the start and Ramiro Pena pinch hit for him. Wow.

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Arms race

There is an epidemic in baseball.

Young pitchers are blowing out arms at an alarming rate.

Jose Fernandez, the 21-year-old Miami ace with the slider from Gods, is the latest to be sent to the operating table for a Tommy John surgery.

This has to be more than coincidence, right? There have been roughly 20 this year and almost twice that many in the last two.

It certainly is not poor mechanics - Fernandez' style and deliver are flawless. Sure, the slider - a hard curve ball - puts extreme torque on an elbow, especially for someone who throws as hard as Fernandez, who has a change-up clocked in the 90s.

But what about Braves righty Kris Medlen, who is far from a flame thrower? Or Brandon Beachy, another Atlanta starter that suffered an elbow injury and will be out at least a year after Tommy John surgery in the spring?

Here's one few from afar:

There are several factors in this. First, there is the fact teams are more cautious than ever with young arms and are quick to suggest the surgery because of the modern advances in medicine.

Second, guys like Fernandez, who play year-round baseball growing up and have been pitching 10-12 months a year, have twice as many miles on the elbow than pitchers a generation ago did.

Third, there's the good, old-fashioned advances in talent. Football players are getting more and more injuries despite more and more focus on the game being safer. Why is that? Because the players are bigger and faster and stronger. Same goes for pitchers such as Fernandez, who puts an extreme amount of strain on his arm throwing that hard.

Then there's the debate about pitch counts, which are a great thing for young pitchers coming up but have over time limited the endurance and the strength of some pitchers' arms.

Still, here's hoping Fernandez returns to form, because he had the stuff of a Hall of Famer.

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NBA questions

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.

What has happened to the NBA? There is very little that is solid or known or expected.

What happened in OKC? The Clippers were up double-digits in the fourth. They looked to be on their way. The Thunder responded and the refs helped and then Doc Rivers melted down afterward. Crazy indeed.

Magic Johnson has now become a main character in the Donald Sterling mess. Magic took to CNN to answer the charges and allegations that Sterling ill-advisedly launched at Johnson earlier this week. The biggest question involving Sterling right now is if his representatives have told him to stop talking for the foreseeable future. And as our TFP ace columnist Mark Wiedmer pointed out here, Magic certainly has support from those he met here in our fair city.

Is there a bigger puzzle than these Pacers? Wow, we were all prepared to welcome back the 'good' Pacers and get excited about the possibility of an Indiana-Miami Eastern Conference Finals. Then they let My Favorite Marcin Gortat go all Moses Malone - Gortat was 13-of-15 form the floor for 31 points with 16 boards - and the Wizards pummel Indiana 102-79 at Indiana. The Pacers were outrebounded 62-23.

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This and that

- We'll leave the insight and the detail to the more hockey-aware among us, but the drama of the NHL playoffs seldom disappoints. The Rangers coming full circle to rally from a 3-1 hole to beat Pittsburgh in Game 7 was aces. Boston-Montreal Game 7 for the ninth time (most Game 7 meeting between two teams in any sport) tonight. We'll give that some attention tonight.

Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

- Michael Sam spoke with the media. That's all we have to say about that. Sam chatter dominated Press Row on Tuesday, so we're kind of Sam-ed out if that's OK with the rest of you guys and gals.

- The Utah Jazz have inquired with John Stockton to see if he is interested in coaching. That makes sense. Dude was a great player and a student of the game. Still, if he coaches, will the league require him to wear the old-school short-shorts?

- Why is it that the NFL makes a monster deal about change the PAT rules and creates a storm of buzz and faux consternation but tries to sneak through changes in the drug policy that lower the standards against pot? When he was in middle school and was not prepared for his oral presentation, do you think Rope-a-Dope Roger Goodell stood up and yelled, "Hey look a Blue Hippo driving a school bus" and then turned and ran?

- Brandon Sherrod, a 6-foot-6 forward at Yale, is skipping a year of hoops to sing with the school's famouts male a cappella group the Whiffenpoofs. Good for that dude. If they need one more, we've had some recent singing experience - on the radio even. "We are the World; we are the children... we are the ones who make a brighter day, so let's start giving." Everyone sing along.

- May 14 may be the home run birthday for people who operate behind the camera on movie sets. Check this list: George Lucas (Star Wars), Lazlo Kovacs (who was the cinematographer on Ghostbusters and Easy Rider), Sofia Copola (who wrote and directed Lost in Translation) and Robert Zemeckis (directed Back to the Future and Forrest Gump). Wow.

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Today's question

We're looking to bounce around a bit:

Is there anyway the Clippers can rebound from THAT?

Do you think Magic Johnson is a role model?

What's your Rushmore of Sam?

If two trains leave Hixson going in opposite directions, how long will it take before the blockheaded TFP sports editor gets on Twitter tonight?

What's your Rushmore of medical procedures/illnesses named after people? We have Tommy John surgery and Lou Gehrig Disease. The Heimlich Manuever, too. What else is out there?

Have you sent in a mailbag question?