5-at-10: Braves big hole, Athletes getting into physical confrontations, Aikman's comments spark controversy

Atlanta Braves first baseman Matt Olson (28) hits a three-run homer during the ninth inning in Game 1 of a National League Division Series baseball game between the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022, in Atlanta. The Philadelphia Phillies won 7-6. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Braves blow Game 1

OK, there were a slew of mistakes made.

Some we kind of predicted. Like Dansby Swanson looking around the clubhouse of his hometown team — he grew up roughly the distance from Hixson to downtown Chattanooga from Truist Park for those unaware — and seeing everyone with a deal lasting well beyond tis series, next season and even the one after that.

The result? Swanson K’ed in his first four ABs, left a small village on the bases, and looked pedestrian in the 8-7 loss.

Some we did not see coming. This was supposed to be the clear starting pitcher advantage for the Braves, with Max Fried getting the ball against someone named Ranger Suarez.

Fried was clearly off and gave up more two-strike scorchers than a kerosene-soaked pack of matches. His final line of six runs (four earned) allowed on eight hits in 3.1 innings is far, Far, FAR from ace stuff.

Now the Braves turn to Kyle Wright, who had a top-three Cy Young season, and led the majors in wins in a must-have game. Wright will face Zach Wheeler, who has year-in, year-out top-three Cy Young stuff.

Edge Phillies.

Side baseball question: OK, I know the Braves made history by becoming the first team ever to complete a MLB season with fewer than four sacrifice bunts. The team’s only sacrifice bunt came in game 161 against the Marlins when Michael Harris advanced the runners.

But, if Bryce Harper, who has two more MVPs than the Braves roster combined, is cool enough to lay down a sacrifice bunt, then why are the Braves not doing it?

And moreover, and this is knowing that Matt Olson hit a three-run, ninth-inning homer to make a very one-sided Phillies’ performance only a one loss, did anyone think of Olson bunting there in the ninth?

Braves were down 7-3 with one and runners on the corners. The Phillies had third baseman Alex Bohm in shallow right field and their shortstop playing at a normal shortstop spot.

Even a bad bunt down the third-base line allows the slow-footed Olson to reach and brings the tying run to the plate with only one out. Yes, Olson hit a three-run shot and the tying run came to the plate anyway, and the absence of the bunt for the Braves this year has a ton to do with the universal DH.

Thoughts? Well other than the Braves better win today or the questions will 100% become about Dansby Swanson and his future. 

Take the dresses off

So Troy Aikman is getting blowback for his “take the dresses off” comment that, if I had to guess, was echoed through millions of living rooms on Monday Night Football after replays of the latest bogus (anything but) roughing the passer penalty.

This is the peak of cancel culture. 

Aikman has made a vast percentage of his career living with words. Did you know Aikman made around $55 million over his 12-year playing career, which is roughly $4.6 million per? He made a reported $140 million over his 20-year career in the Fox booth and signed a MNF deal worth a reported $90 million over the next five years.

And through that long and lucrative broadcast career, Aikman has far more often been critiqued and criticized for being too vanilla. (Side question: Is ‘being too vanilla’ allowed these days? Discuss.)

I hate moments like this for the most part because the pearl clutchers who are always looking for ways to be offended get in a lather which then causes the ‘everything is being canceled’ crowd to galvanize and we all lose to be honest.  

Personally, I have a sports story that humbled me to a place where I have chosen not to use ‘take the skirt off’ or phrases of that ilk.

Playing in a pro-am golf event before the Georgia State Women’s Amateur way back in the day — like late 1990s, and very early in my newspaper career — I was playing with one of the ladies in the field. And she was good.

On about hole 12 maybe, I reached a par-5 in two and left my eagle putt woefully short. “God you putt like a girl,” I mumbled loud enough for all to hear. I was still away and missed the birdie putt too and picked up for par. 

(Spy has seen me play golf (as has Alejandro); both can attest that a) reaching  apar-5 in two is not a shock, and b) me three-putting from anywhere is less of a shock.)

Anywell, as she stood over her 10-footer for birdie, my playing partner said casually, “If you putted like a girl,” pulls putter back and strikes ball, “you would have made it” as we watched the ball roll in the cup. 

As for Aikman, ESPN will likely make him apologize for his word choice, but this is a whole lot of nothing in my eyes.

When athletes go wild

No, this is not a 30-for-30 about the Vegas All-Star game weekend that turned into a melee of epic proportions, even for Vegas.

This about the physical altercations that happen beyond the scope of the physical altercations of playing physical contact sports like football and basketball.

Example one: Hot-tempered player takes words from a teammate personally. Hot-tempered player, with a history of losing his cool, punches said teammate in the face. It’s caught on video, because everything is on video these days.

Example two: High-energy player sees a fan run on the field. High-energy player body slams attention-seeking fan, who files a police report.

Example three: Emotional player after a painful loss exits visiting field and shoves a credentialled cameraman to the ground. Cameraman files a police report.

Of course these are not the same sport or even the same circumstances.

But the conversations and outcomes are intriguing. 

Example one is Draymond Green, who has been fined but will not be suspended for punching teammate Jordan Poole in the face. Gang, if that surprises you well, you have not been paying much attention.

Draymond is a bona fide star; Poole is an improving player who can shoot. Throughout time in organized sports — from middle school to the majors — a star punches a player, it’s a team matter. A reserve punches a star, and it becomes too big a distraction.

Maybe Jimmy Johnson said it best when asked about treating every NFL player the same, he said, “Absolutely not. If Troy Aikman falls asleep in a team meeting, I’m going to send an assistant over there to nudge his arm and wake him up. If a third-team special teams player falls asleep, I’ll cut him before I finish my talk.”

Example two was Bobby Wagner, who tackled one of those lunatic fans who came on the field for attention. Sorry fan, you trespass, which is what that theoretically is, then you get what you get and don’t pitch a fit.

Example three was Davante Adams, the frustrated Raiders wideout who shoved a cameraman to the ground.

Can’t happen Davante. Just can’t. 

Will be really interesting to see how the league handles this and how they try to make this one go away.

Hey, Adams was emotional — it was a charged game that the Raiders really needed — and I think anyone who has played, has watched or who has even ever liked sports understands that.

But you can’t shove some dude who is simply trying to do his job.

Yes, Adams apologized almost instantly afterward, but it’s hard to believe that’s all that’s coming from this, no?      

This and that

— Speaking of the MLB playoffs, the Braves were the only higher-seed to drop Game 1. The Dodgers won 5-3, the Yankees won 4-1 and the Astros rallied for a dramatic 8-7 win on a three-run walk-off homer. 

— So the state comptroller has given a tentative OK for the new Lookouts stadium funding plan. So another hurdle cleared.

— You know the rules. Here’s Paschall on how the Vols are getting prepped for an Alabama offense that is not as good in years past, but still among the best around. 

— I think the world would be a better place if we had more honey badger videos. We all remember the one about the honey badger “take what I want” one that went viral several years ago. Now here’s one with a honey badger fighting three leopards, who I am sure are upset they did not bring more back-up. 

— Kansas is one of the best stories in college football. Seriously. That story turned very unfortunate with news that KU quarterback Jalon Daniels could miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury. 

Today’s questions

Before we get to ‘Which way Wednesday’ did anyone else have trouble with the comments Tuesday? I know mine were exceedingly slow for most of the afternoon.

Which punishment is most fair for Davante Adams — fine, suspension, nothing?

Which UT other than Hendon Hooker needs to be great Saturday for the Vols to beat Alabama?

Which number in your phone are you going to call first if UT beats Alabama on Saturday? Why?

Which description fits your mood as a Braves fan, “calm,” “upset,” “very nervous” or “panicked,” after Game 1?

As for today, Oct. 12, let’s review.

On this day in 1492, ol’ Chris Columbus reached landfall on an island he calls San Salvador.

“Three Blind Mice” was published on this day in 1609.

Marion Jones is 47 today.

If we had a Rushmore of non-MLB PED users, she makes it right?

Go and remember the mailbag.