5-at-10: Braves next big star, UK's big man's big-dollar week, "Better Call Saul" thoughts

Atlanta Braves' Vaughn Grissom celebrates while running the bases on his two-run home run against the Boston Red Sox during the seventh inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022, in Boston. At right is Braves third base coach Ron Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Braves next star?

Yes, it's one game. But wow, Vaughn Grissom sure looks the part of star right?

In his first MLB game, Grissom was a key part of Atlanta's 8-4 win over Boston. And his presence left me with three big-picture questions for these Braves.

First, can they play Boston every weekend, because dear Lord, the Red Sox could darn from now until February and not patch all the holes in that pitching staff. Second, man, how well is Alex Anthopoulos running this Braves franchise?

Seriously, the emotion caused some consternation about the Freeman deal, and maybe signing Marcel Ozuna to multiple years will be a C-minus deal in the long run, but with all the team-friendly deals in place, look at the skill sets of the three rookies now playing meaningful roles for a playoff contender.

Michael Harris is a dude. Spencer Strider has legit ace stuff. And now Grissom, who homered and singled in his big-league debut at Fenway last night.

That's a loaded present and a very bright future.

Finally, where does Grissom play in the coming years?

He is a shortstop by trade, and he's playing second for the foreseeable future with injuries to the top two names on the depth chart there.

He could play left, too, because he certainly could not be as bad as Ozuna out there.

But, here's the elephant in the room: Dansby Swanson is headed to the open market, and if you are thinking about a 'hometown' discount from Team Swanson, please remember that he and Freddie Freeman have the same representation.

If Grissom is legit - he's on pace to hit .500 for his MLB career with a home run a game, which would make him a sure-fire Hall of Famer if I had to guess - could AA let Swanson walk and redirect those millions toward a loaded free agent crew that will have multiple top-end starters in it?

Or, did the big-market club with a small-to-medium-market budget already blow its spending cash on Austin Riley's $200-plus-million extension?

Either way, welcome to the show Vaughn.

(And yes, here's hoping someone hit him with the "Major League" classic, "Vaughn, a juvenile delinquent in the offseason," when he entered the clubhouse.)

Big man big checks

So Chas' favorite player, Kentucky rebounding machine and NCAA player of the year Oscar Tshiebwe had a very lucrative week.

According to The Athletic - paysite - Tshiebwe is packing $500,000 worth of NIL obligations into his time with the rest of the Cats in the Bahamas.

Heck, here's betting he made more last week than John Calipari.

So, according to Kyle Tucker's look at the trip and Oscar's obligations, Tshiebwe had some sort of marketing duty - be it photo shoots, signings, promotional meetings with companies or ad reads - every day.

He signed 2,000 Topps trading cards and a slew of other memorabilia, and the monster week moved his career NIL number close to $2.75 million.

Yep, that's a chunk of change.

It also shows that NIL deals will really behoove the Blue Bloods of college basketball and it will help the game's appeal.

As for the latter, the actual product of college basketball has been watered down and diminished by a lot of factors, and a big chunk of it was one-and-doners.

If that $2.75 million is accurate, Tshiebwe has made more money than 11 first-round picks from the 2021 NBA draft made in salary in their rookie season. Why not come back unless you are a slam dunk top-five pick?

So with Tshiebwe - and the accomplished crew at UNC and the big dude at Gonzaga - coming back, the level of play will only improve.

As for the Blue Bloods, well this advantage is clear, but it may be bigger than even college hoops junkies could know. According to Tucker's look into Tshiebwe's NIL deals, the UK star makes north of $20 grand a month in jersey and memorabilia sales.

And, while the coaches hypocritically complain that NIL can cause locker room division and jealousy, here's betting Coach Cal is happy for every blue chipper this side of a sad Larry Jones to know how much green Big Blue Nation ponies up for hoops gear.

It's far more than nil.

The show of Saul

So we are finally caught up on "Better Call Saul."

Wow. Not sure how to describe the last couple of weeks. Slow is accurate. But far from dull.

Technically beautiful, as always. Depth - of character and of storyline - is always applicable.

But, I think ultimately, the word is sad.

Sad it's near the end. Sad in terms of where our characters are. Sad about where our characters are headed.

Sad about the news that Vince Gilligan announced this is the final chapter in the "Breaking Bad" universe. It's almost assuredly the right call, since, as the shows' creator said, "You can't keep putting all your money on Red 21."

But with that sadness comes great gratitude to all the players in this magnificent journey. Gilligan has been forever true to the story, regardless of which favorites it cost us. (Tear. So long Nacho.)

Now, with Saul unraveling into depravity in Nebraska - and how great has Carol Burnett been Vader? - and the ties back to BB with Jesse and Kim and Jesse's pre-Walter White cohorts, the tapestry is almost finished. Will it be tied neatly up by the end Monday night?

Not likely. But this show is like life. There is good and evil, and neither has preordained rights to first dibs.

We could all make predictions, of course, and you guys and gals who have been part of this journey are surely welcome to offer yours. I'm not looking for any hints or teasers or plot reveals until the finale.

I don't really want to know, and since Gilligan's magical tour has led us to this place, I'm happy to wait and see where it ends.

This and that

- OK, we had one more question from the Braves game last night. Why did Snitker pull Kyle Wright, who had cruised through six innings on 77 pitches? Man, good thing this was the Red Sox and gasoline alley of a bullpen.

- You know the rules. Here's Paschall with some UT football knowledge for you..

- Is this even possible? Brett Favre says he suffered thousands of concussions in his NFL career. Did he even take 1,000 hits in his career?

- Did you see the highlight of the Pirates player sliding into third and his cell phone fell out of his back pocket? Kids these days.

- Preseason football is back. Yippee. Give me the Titans plus the 3 at Baltimore and the Giants minus-3 over the Pats. Thoughts - other than who wagers on preseason games?

Today's questions

It's a fire-away Thursday. And remember the mailbag.

That got a little lengthy, no?

Quick side question: Man, the universal DH has really stopped the over-managing and second-guessing - especially of Snit - that used to happen fairly regularly, no? Discuss.

As for today, Aug. 11, let's review.

Want to feel old? Hulk Hogan is 69 today. Wowser. Hulkamania was a thing, brother.

Robin Williams died on this day eight years ago.

Viola Davis is 57 today. Man, "The Help" is fantastic cinema friends.

Bill Bartholomay would have been 94 today. If you are wondering, "Who the flip is Bill Bartholomay" well he's the man who moved the Braves from Milwaukee to the A-T-L.

What's the Rushmore of sports franchise relocations?

And remember the mailbag.