5-at-10: Braves-Mets deadlocked in NL East, sports and TV, Tom Hanks' toughest critic

Atlanta Braves' Ronald Acuna Jr. celebrates after hitting his second solo home run against the Washington Nationals during the seventh inning of a baseball game at Nationals Park, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in Washington. The Braves won 8-2. (AP Photo/Jess Rapfogel)

Baseball’s magical ‘er’ months

For those of us who grew up loving baseball, there is a universal symmetry in the magic of numbers in the game.

Last week we mentioned the all-time Jim Murray line that “Man has never come closer to perfection than 90 feet between the bases,” and that’s just one of the iconic figures in a game forged by iconic figures.

Pick any of them: 90 feet, 60 feet and 6 inches, .300, .400, 3,000, 300, you get the idea.

Well, 162 is just as recognized and regal.

And just right.

So after 155 games, the Mets and Braves are dead even at 97-58. They each have seven games left; they play each other in three of those.

The Braves pulled alongside the Mets with another destruction of the Nationals. An 8-2 win Tuesday featured two Ronald Acuña Jr. homers and two more hits from Michael Harris II, who should be a slam dunk pick for NL Rookie of the Year.

(Side question: Do you have any idea how good Harris has been? Check the digits: He had all of 13 at-bats before June 1 but since getting to the bigs he has put on a show, slashing .306/.346/.536. His average would be top-five in the NL if he had enough ABs to qualify. Now, add in his 19 homers and 64 RBIs — despite spending a lot of his time in the No. 9 spot in the order — and Harris been amazing. Prorated over 162 games, Harris would be on a 28-homers, 96-RBIs, 30-steals, 112-runs-scored pace. Forget Rookie of the Year numbers; those are MVP caliber.)

So as the balanced Braves lineup appears to be heating up, Atlanta has one more tune-up with the Nats and an off day before a season-defining series with the Mets. Heck, even Matt Olson has shown a pulse over the last few games.

This is the joy of late September baseball, friends. God bless the ‘er’ months.

TV tidbits

I am fascinated by the movers and shakes of the TV world in terms of sports.

In truth, normal and cable TV realize that live sports is the last bastion of immediate interaction on a platform they once dominated.

There are more and more streaming options. Can you even remember the last non-sports show you watched in real time with DVR or streaming?

But sports and the social media interaction that comes with them in real time are overvalued because they can point to numbers that advertisers can truly believe have viewers’ eyes. (Yes, some of us DVR some sports, but for the most part it’s live and in living color.)

Which brings us to three interesting items in terms of sports and TV.

First, LIV golf is closing in on a deal to buy airtime on Fox to broadcast its tournaments. This would be exceedingly interesting.

They already have hired David Feherty. They made a pitch at Chuck Barkley, and here’s betting if the deal with Fox comes to fruition, they will pitch Chuck again. And now they are going to have a platform.

It will be intriguing in two directions: How will this impact Fox’s dealing with the PGA Tour or the USGA in future bidding conversations? Also, if LIV starts to make money — and turn a profit — selling its own ads and sponsorships with a TV platform, would future leagues and sports entities look at flipping the model?

Second, there are few things better on TV right now than the ‘witching’ hour between 3:15 and 4:15 on the Red Zone on the NFL Network on Sunday afternoons. It’s straight adrenaline mixed with caffeine pumped directly into an NFL fan’s heart.

Finally, speaking of the NFL, egad, the popularity is through the roof. 

As TV numbers trend down in almost every metric and genre, let these numbers sink in:

Tennessee-Florida pulled a 3.0 rating and averaged more than 5.57 million viewers Saturday, the largest TV audience for that rivalry in 13 years. It was the most watched college football game Saturday.

Sunday, Fox’s showing of Green Bay’s 14-12 win over Tampa Bay — a game that featured two surefire Hall of Fame QBs but very few surefire must-see highlights — did better than four times the numbers of the Vols-Gators. Fox had a 13.4 rating and averaged 26.4 million viewers Sunday, the largest Fox audience for a week three game in almost a decade.

How popular is the NFL and why does it demand multi-billions (yes, billions with a ‘b’) from its TV partners?

Because even as pleased as CBS must be with the UT-Florida numbers, it was roughly the same audience that Amazon pulled last Thursday for Steelers-Browns with its streaming service.

Hanks for the memories

Pardon the tangent here because this is assuredly not sports, but so what?

So Tom Hanks is writing a book. I’ll probably read it too.

(Side note: The next book on my list, after high reviews from a buddy who was directly involved in minor league baseball for longer than he likely would care to remember, is Ron Shelton’s book about the making of “Bull Durham.” I’m not sure anyone who enjoys movies can name a singular favorite movie, but if I had a personal Rushmore of movies, I know that “Bull Durham” is on there somewhere.)

In advance of Hanks’ book — “The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece” which is set for release next May — he is making the interview rounds.

In this chat with ‘People,’ Hanks talked about his career and said, “I’ve made a ton of movies, and four of them are pretty good, I think.”              

Do what?

Hey, I know I am my own harshest critic, but Hanks’ career catalog only contains four ‘pretty good’ movies in his view?

I’ll say it again: Do what?

Hey, I think “Forrest Gump” is on the short list of most overrated movies of my lifetime, but even its haters have to qualify it as ‘pretty good’ no?

And “Bachelor Party” was a ton of fun. So was “Splash.”

We know “Saving Private Ryan” and “Big” are much, Much, MUCH better than ‘pretty good.’ As was “A League of Their Own.”

And that’s before we get to the “Toy Story” collection or “Apollo 13.”

Hanks saying he’s made four ‘pretty good movies’ is akin to Tiger saying he had four pretty good seasons in the early 2000s.

This and that

— Enjoy the weather today and tomorrow friends because it looks Ian is going to pack a punch this weekend, even up here in the greater Chatta-Vegas area. 

— As BeardDawg predicted, there is now a legal challenge to President Biden’s plan for a student loan bailout. Here’s more from an opinion piece in USA Today. 

— As the Braves prepare for a free-for-all this weekend with the Mets, every other MLB division is locked down as the Cards and Yankees clinched the NL Central and the AL East, respectively, last night. So, the Dodgers are the 1 seed in the NL with the Cards headed for the 3 seed. The Astros will almost assuredly be the 1 seed in the AL followed by the Yankees and the Cleveland Guardians. Whoever prevails in the Mets-Braves race will be the NL 2 seed, and  the other will be the 4 seed.

— So the new Lookouts stadium has one more hurdle to clear, as TFP government ace Andy Sher shares here. Do I think it is more a technical issue than an actual issue? Yes. But considering the way some of the folks who have worked feverishly behind the scenes to get this done have kind of snubbed their noses at the state legislature — and considering the number of statewide political allies of new Hamilton County Mayor Weston Wamp, who has been against the stadium from day 1 — this could get interesting.

— Speaking of the TFP, and you know the rules. Here’s Paschall on Tennessee wide receiver Bru McCoy making the most of his time with his new team. 

— We all have our favorite college players from our preferred college teams, but if you’re looking for a player to cheer for, how about Mississippi State’s Will Rogers? The Bulldogs QB took an NIL deal before the season from a Mississippi erosion control company which offered up $1,000 for every TD pass Rogers tosses. But here’s the twist, Rogers has 16 TD passes through four games, and that $16K is going to the Make-A-Wish foundation. That’s using NIL for the greater good right there friends.

Today’s questions

Which way Wednesday starts this way: Which of his four movies do you think Tom Hanks thinks are ‘pretty good?’

Which team wins the East, Braves or Mets?

Which young Braves outfielder will have the better career, Acuña or Harris?

Answer some ‘which ways,’ ask some which ways.    

As for today, Sept. 28, let’s review.

J.T. Walsh — an all-time ‘that guy’ actor who made almost everything he was ever in better — would have been 79 today.

Jeffrey Jones — who played Ed Rooney, the principal who never quite caught Ferris Bueller — is 76 today.

Steve Largent is 68 today.

The amazingly gifted Miles Davis died on this day in 1991.

Rushmore of ‘miles’ and be creative.