5 at 10: Vols, SEC expansion and the Braves going down to the wire

5 at 10: Vols, SEC expansion and the Braves going down to the wire

September 28th, 2011 by Jay Greeson in Sports

Gang, two things: First we're moving quickly this morning because the TFP has insurance meetings today. We're almost as excited as Navin R. Johnson was when the new phone books arrived. Almost. Second, remember about Friday's mailbag. You know the drill.

From the "Drunken Moose Studios," here we go...

Atlanta Braves pitcher Derek Lowe walks off the field after giving up two runs to the Philadelphia Phillies during the third inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Curtis Compton)

Atlanta Braves pitcher Derek Lowe walks off the...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

And then there was 1

The Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals are deadlocked in the NL wildcard race. You know this. Most of you are worried about this - and should be.

The Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays are deadlocked in the AL wildcard race. You may not know this, but at least two 5-at-10 regulars - BIspy and Eljefe - are exceedingly worried about this.

Each of those four teams have a game left today: Philadelphia at Atlanta; St. Louis at Houston; Boston at Baltimore; New York at Tampa.

Before we get to the five things you need to know about today's drama-dripping baseball, let's talk quickly about Derek Lowe. If every Johnny Braves Fan everywhere - best guess there's what 15 million across the country - sends in a buck, one dollarino, 8 bits, $1 to buy out the the $15 million final year on Lowe's contract, it would be better for everyone involved. Sweet Kerosene on a camp fire, every time Lowe pitches it makes opponents' batting averages rise and the 5-at-10's eyes burn. There are some older folks we know - and the true, passionate Braves fans come in all ages, but especially register in the that plus-60 age group - that won't even speak Lowe's name. Which is just great, the staff's top-paid pitcher, the guy that is supposed to be your ace ranks somewhere between Lord Voldemort and Beetlejuice. Let's just move along.

Here's five things that you need to know about today's baseball showdowns

1) If the baseball postseason expands, then today would be a meaningless, "finish the drill" kind of day with pitchers wearing No. 73 making starts and hitters like Moonlight Graham getting some playing time. Do not expand baseball. Sure, that would be a more relaxing thing for Johnny Braves Fan and Paulie Red Sox Guy, but days like this reward the everyday baseball fan for sticking with a team all season.

2) Pitching matchups:

Philadelphia: Blanton (1-2, 5.03 ERA)

Atlanta: Hudson (16-10, 3.23 ERA)

St. Louis: Carpenter (10-9, 3.59 ERA)

Houston: Myers (7-13, 4.31 ERA)

Boston: Lester (15-9, 3.49 ERA)

Baltimore: Simon (4-9, 4.85 ERA)

New York: TBD

Tampa Bay: David Price (12-13, 3.35 ERA)

Each matchup appears to favor the team in the playoff chase. Of course, that means nothing, and as a wise 5-at-10 follower likes to say, "That's why they play the games."

3) We imagine the juxtaposition of needing help from the Yankees is more than a little painful for Red Sox Nation.

4) If the Braves and Cards finished tied, Thursday's one-game playoff would be in St. Louis. That's not good news. Derek Lowe likely would not be involved. That is good news. If the AL wildcard race finishes tied, Thursday's playoff game would be in Tampa Bay.

5) Boston led the AL race by 9 games on Sept. 2; the Braves led by 8.5 games on Sept. 6. The leads have vanished because of big runs and bad runs. Check it out:Boston is 7-19 in September, and Tampa is 16-8 in its last 24; Atlanta is 5-12 in its last 17, and the Cards are 22-9 in their last 31 games.

Photo by Michael Patrick/Knoxville News Sentinel Former University of Tennessee football coach Lane Kiffin talks to reporters on his way out of the University of Tennessee Neyland-Thompson Sports Complex Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010. After only 14 months on the job and with five years remaining on his contract, Kiffin broke the news Tuesday night that he was leaving UT to take the head coaching position at the University of Southern California.

Photo by Michael Patrick/Knoxville News Sentinel Former University of...

Vols move back into

The scaabs from the Lane Kiffin 13-month reign in Knoxville keep getting pulled open. Here is TFP column ace Mark Wiedmer's (view here), and Weeds makes some valid points.

Here's what we think:

- Kiffin is petulant child who looks disinterestedly at the rules. In the end, this whole Willie Mack Garza thing will hurt Kiffin way more than UT, if for no other reason than Kiffin carted him west to SoCal. Not good, especially when relatively new USC AD Pat Haden did not hire Kiffin and has zero intention of putting up with any monkey business.

- Is there any semi-famous to famous people with three names that comes across as trustworthy? Willie Mack Garza, nope. Billy Bob Thornton's out there. David Lee Roth is a whack job. Charles Nelson Reilly is a kook. Billy Ray Cyrus, uh, no thanks. John Wayne Gacy, John Wilkes Booth, Anna Nicole Smith, Mary Kate Olson. Hmmm, no, no, no, and no. Lisa Marie Presley, uh, she married Michael Jackson. Nope. The best we got are Martin Luther King, Neil Patrick Harris and Olivia Newton John. Mental note, no three-name tots.

- Derek Dooley's response was perfect. He did not duck the question, which would have made this story last an extra week and he said clearly and emphatically that the current staff did not make the mistake that involves a player that never came to Knoxville. Well played indeed.

- Who's with the 5-at-10 in believing that Lache Seastrunk/Willie Lyles will leave a lasting mark on the new-look NCAA rule book. And that Seastrunk will be this generation's Marcus Dupree (and if you don't know who Marcus Dupree is, well, (click here) for a story about Dupree went to Oklahoma as the best football recruit maybe of all time, and now he's trying his hand at professional wrestling).

Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive talks with reporters during Southeastern Conference Football Media Days in Birmingham, Ala., on Wednesday. (AP)

Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive talks with reporters...

SEC expansion

Missouri looks to be making moves toward joining the SEC, at least that seems to be the feel.

It won't stop guys. It won't. Especially now that word comes out that SEC commissioner Mike Slive expects the BCS to lift the two-team limits per conference.

Now it's starting to make more sense. (Or cents, see what we did there? That's called a homophone, Weena, not that there's anything wrong with that.)

Plus, UK basketball coach John Calipari told ESPN: "If they're going to add, I'd like us to go and get Virginia Tech, Maryland and Missouri to go along with Texas A&M. We're not going to do anything at the expense of academics. You're also going to see basketball step up in the next five years in the SEC."

Those names would make sense (and cents) in regard to the TV market mass consumption.

Does it matter how it affects the fans, of course not. At the bottom of TFP SEC ace David Paschall's excellent intro to Texas A&M http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2011/sep/28/new-sec-member-won-39-national-title/?sportscollege is a chart detailing the drive times for the SEC schools to College Station, Texas. Granted the teams will fly, but fans normally drive. If fans that drive to games are tailgaters are fans that fly to games winggaters?

In this file photo, Head Coach Russ Huesman watches from the sidelines at the UTC Moccasins 2011 Blue & Gold Spring Game. Huesman is in favor of adding a fifth year of eligibility for football players.

In this file photo, Head Coach Russ Huesman...

Photo by Robin Rudd /Times Free Press.

This and that

- Apparently the NBA owners have eased their demands a bit. That silence was the shrug of millions of shoulders. A loss of games will be tough for the NBA.

- Matt Kemp's triple crown hopes are all but dashed. A red-hot Jose Reyes has opened up a 12-point lead (.336 to .324) in the batting race. So it goes.

- UTC football coach Russ Huesman was in relative good spirits at Tuesday's media event after the painful loss at App State this weekend. Huesman is a good dude and a very good coach.

Today's question

Today's question is the same as yesterday's.

Who wins the wildcard races? And remember there are UTC football tickets at stake here.