5-at-10: Saban dropping some right-timed truth, Braves shortstop solution, Masters makes a move

FILE - Alabama head coach Nick Saban introduces the Alabama juniors declaring for the NFL draft, Monday, Jan. 2, 2023, in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

A voice of reason

What do we know about Nick Saban.

Welp, he's the best college football coach to ever blow a whistle. Better than Bear. Better than Osborne. Better than the General or Papa Bowden or anyone else you may be thinking of and wondering if I thought of them, because I did.

And Saban is better.

He is the best recruiter I've ever seen, and moreover, the best talent evaluator I can ever remember. Name the last time a five-star busted for Saban at Alabama. Sure, it likely has happened, but they are few and far between.

In fact, as a talent evaluator, Saban has found more two-stars who became NFL players than five-stars who missed.

We also know that he is so far above coach speak that sometimes it may sound like coach speak because of the environment, but it's not. There are few coaches who will give a better or more direct answer to good questions than Saban.

We also know that no one uses his pulpit to speak directly to his team or his fan base through the media as well or as frequently as Saban does.

And now we know he will use that podium to not only hold his plastic bottle of Coca-Cola, he will use it to remind Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats who runs Tuscaloosa.

In addressing the indefinite suspension of five-star defensive back Tony Mitchell on Monday, Saban looked into the media horde and said this: "There's no such thing as being in the wrong place at the wrong time."

For those unaware of the context, that was the terribly misguided quote Oats used to describe star freshman Brandon Miller's connection to the events of Jan. 15 that left a 25-year-old woman shot dead.

Oats apologized for his awful word choice and insensitive messaging later that day, saying he misspoke.

Saban assuredly will not apologize for his diction Monday. And do not believe for a second he misspoke.

Those words were calculated and direct.

Maybe it was a reminder, as we mentioned above, for Oats and the Alabama administration who is the Head Coach In Charge, because if Saban even hinted that he needed a change or he would walk, they'd do everything from changing the name of the town to replacing houndstooth with paisley if needed.

Maybe he indirectly was taking a stand for young Black women -- to reassure the mommas who he convinces to send their five-star babies to T-town each cycle -- and giving a voice to Jamae Harris in some ways.

Maybe he was voicing his frustration that Oats and his basketball program are the talk of the town or his displeasure that negative spotlights on other sports in any program frequently bleed into the football program, too.

Or maybe, just maybe, Saban has looked around and, after tiring of the double-talk two-step from every Alabama voice to speak on the matter in the last month or so, decided someone needed to stand up and speak like a grown up.

Either way, just remember two things:

Saban is the GOAT. And Monday's message was as purposeful and straight-forward as his love for Miss Terry.

Braves taking shape

So, UTCMocs mentioned Monday that it appeared that Vaughn Grissom was going to be sent to the minors and Braden Shewmake was going to win the shortstop job.

I disagreed.

We both were half right, I suppose.

Grissom was part of the gaggle of young players the Braves optioned to the minors Monday. The tall and athletic shortstop prospect will start the season in Triple-A.

But, like their matching plus-.320 batting averages and clear improvements through spring camp in the fight to replace Dansby Swanson, Shewmake also will start 2023 in the minors.

In what Braves beat ace Dave O'Brien termed "Shortstop Stunner" for The Athletic (pay site) it is clear the Braves are going with Orlando Arcia as SS1 with Ehire Adrianza filling the utility role off the Braves bench.

So there you go, and a large part of this decision has little to do with baseball. Each of the four names mentioned above -- Grissom, Shewmake, Arcia and Adrianza -- are valued pieces to the Braves' planned puzzle. The two youngsters have more minor league options and roster flexibility.

Will that mean Grissom -- whose offensive skills are apparent -- gets time in left field at Gwinnett? Maybe.

Speaking of the outfield, the Braves are in a similar roster quandary in the search for a fourth outfielder. Veterans Kevin Pillar and Sam Hillard are out of options, which likely contributed to Eli White being sent down Monday, too.

So that leaves us with a very clear idea who the majority of the Braves everyday crew will be, and it's clearly impressive.

A top five juggled with Ronald Acuña (RF), Ozzie Albies (2B), Matt Olson (1B), Austin Riley (3B) and Sean Murphy (C) is as good a top five as anyone in either league.

Add in Michael Harris (CF), the DH combo of Travis d'Arnaud (when he's not catching) and Marcel Ozuna, and Eddie Rosario (LF), and as long as whoever is penciled in at short plays solid defense, the rest is gravy, you know?

Even Masters get better

My high school basketball coach used to preach, "You either get better or you get worse. You never stay the same."

I thought it was brilliant and wise. I later found out he borrowed it from John Wooden. And that's OK, too, because Wooden was brilliant and wise.

Regardless of the origin, the words are true. It's the practical -- be it athletics or personal -- definition of inertia, which is both our friend and the law.

It also applies to the great events around us. Like The Masters.

Because as so many people and things wrestle with "Well, that's how we've always done it" or embrace the status quo, just look at a very un-Masters move The Masters are trying.

The folks there know they have me -- now and forever. They had me at "Hello ... friends."

But in an effort to appeal to other audiences -- be them young or varied -- the Green Jackets are hosting a "Road to the Masters" event Sunday, April 2.

It's based on the EA Sports video game and will incorporate the Drive, Chip and Putt winners and celebrities from all genres.

And it's smart.

Of course, it is. It's the Masters. And they are always getting better, and could never get worse.

This and that

-- Speaking of shortstops, have you seen the numbers for Chicago free agent acquisition and former Braves fan favorite Dansby Swanson this spring? Yes, it's spring training so it be what it be, but Swanson is slashing an eye-wateringly-bad .071/.235/.107. That's two hits (and three total bases) in 28 ABs for the Cubs. Somewhere Alex Anthopoulos smiles.

-- More baseball. According to this story from The Athletic (again, pay site), the MLB rules committee met Monday to discuss tweaks to the massive rule changes that have been implemented this spring. Most have to do with the pitch clock, but somewhat surprisingly, the issues are being voiced by the hitters. Either way, through Sunday's spring training games, the average length of games is down to 2 hours, 36 minutes from 3:01 at this point last spring.

-- So Cam Newton is working out at Auburn's pro day today. That leaves me with two questions: One, does he have any eligibility left because good Lord, even at 33, dude is a D-U-D-E. Two, I'd venture a guess he's better than at least five current starting QB1s in the NFL.

-- Cool for the stars from "Ted Lasso" to discuss mental health at the White House with the media. Even more cool was Ted taking one question and it turned out to be from Trent Crimm, The Independent. (If you know, you know.)

-- Rupert Murdoch is engaged. He is 92. This will be his fifth marriage. Yeah, that should cover it.

-- You know the rules. Here's Paschall on UT coach Josh Heupel being tickled Orange to have a deeper and more talented crew entering year three.

-- Egad, a bagel-and-2 showing last night on the NBA Plays, and my personal account is spiraling with eight straight losses. Brother, can you spare a dime?

Today's questions

True or false, it's Tuesday. How's your bracket, Ernie?

True or false, you have all your Final Four still alive.

Trie or false, you watch "Ted Lasso."

True or false, Orlando Arcia will hit better than .250 this season.

True or false, someone from the administration had a word with Nick Saban about his Nate Oats comments.

True or false, if Nick Saban walked into the Alabama chancellor's office at lunch today and said, "It's either Nate or me, you choose," Nate would be gone by dinner.

True or false, the Falcons should sign Cam Newton.

True or false, Rupert Murdoch is just a hopeless romantic looking for a partner.

You know the drill. Answer some T or Fs and leave some T or Fs.

As for today, March 21, let's review.

On this day in 60 years ago, Alcatraz was closed. "The Rock" is a super fun movie, true or false.

Matthew Broderick is 61 today. Yes, Ferris Bueller is closing in on retirement age. Egad.

Does Broderick have a good Rushmore, and what would make it?