The rich got richer over the weekend on the college football recruiting trail, but the richest did not.
Miami got a commitment from Al Blades Jr., a four-star corner and a player that Tennessee had really coveted. (Side note: Mark Richt is doing work in his first full recruiting cycle. For those that pay attention to such things, that first full recruiting class for a power program coach can not be overstated. Urban Meyer landed monsters at Florida and THE Ohio State in that first full cycle. Nick Saban brought championships back to Alabama in large part because of that first full class. Richt landed a boss group at Georgia and now has done work in South Florida — 16 of Miami's 18 commits are from Florida — and has the No. 2 ranked class.)
While a look at the recruiting rankings in mid-to-late June would seem like a "This and that" item more than anything, let's delve deeper.
Alabama has four commits — three fours stars and the nation's No. 1 punter — and is ranked 62nd nationally and 13th in the SEC. (As a side note: The normally SEC-top-20-dominated recruiting rankings is very much a hodgepodge.)
Yes, it's June 20. Yes, Alabama will go on one of those flurries and get five kids in a week, and they will be five kids almost everyone wants. Yes, we fully expect to see Alabama among the elite.
Remember, with an early signing period that starts in six months, this June 20 is later than most realize. But what if they are not? What if this is the cycle that kids actually want to go somewhere they can play early rather than sit and wait behind other five stars?
Because, other than Saban leaving, we simply do not know what it's going to take for Alabama to come back to the pack.
Remember a couple of years ago, when the folks who know such things tried to tell us that the Braves had the worst minor league system in the MLB?
Well, did you notice the lineup your Braves trotted out there on Monday?
Of the eight position players and the starting pitcher, exactly one player — rookie third baseman Johan Camargo (no the other one) — came up through the Braves system.
To that end, the moves and shuffles and pieces this front office has done in a relatively fast-paced rebuilding process is pretty dog-gone impressive.
No we are not buying playoff tickets yet, but when you look at the consistent losing spiral that can hover a lot of franchises as they 'try' to rebuild, the fact that these Braves are a) playing pretty well and b) inching toward .500 is a bonus. More importantly, the identifiable needs are now focused and clear.
Rather that rebuilding the system and adding arms and bats — big picture macro needs — every Braves fan knows Atlanta needs a top-of-the-line starter and an long-term answer at third. Could it be Camargo, who is 6-for-his-last10 and is hitting .318. (Want the definition of an aggressive hitter? Dude got two hits in four at-bats last night and saw all of four pitches, and one at-bat ended in a strikeout.)
So, despite a rather blahtastic 32-37 mark, the fact that the Braves are interesting again is of note. And the fact that their needs are now way more isolated and clear is areason for renewed hope.
We mentioned this Monday, but the noise continues to rise as the NBA Draft approaches.
The NBA Draft, and its glorious combination of size and awesome suit attire, was the first one we fell in love with. We love the draft. You know this.
Yes, we have moved on to a stable relationship with the NFL Draft first and foremost, but we will always have a soft spot for the NBA Draft.
As much as people complain about the one-and-done stuff and how it affects the product, and it truth that is debatable because the game has never been more athletic. Yes, the one-and-doners are coming in more raw, but the goal of college coaches is to win games not develop fundamentals. That said, the one-and-done stuff — and the influx of so many foreign players — has forever rendered the NBA Draft as a pale comparison to its former self when we knew and had opinions on all the guys in the Green Room.
Still, the movements and shake-ups as we are two days away from the draft are interesting to say the least.
First, Cleveland realizes it has a window and that LeBron is a) not getting younger and b) making no bones about the fact that, like Randy Newman, he loves L.A. (and remember, James is a free agent after 2017-18 season).
The Cavs are kicking the tires on trade possibilities for Paul George and Jimmy Butler to get more perimeter oriented to topple the Warriors. And make no mistake, toppling the Warriors has to be the only goal right now for Cleveland, why else do you fire a GM that brought LeBron back home and built a roster that has three finals appearances and one ring?
Then you look to Boston, which dealt the No. 1 overall pick for more picks down the road. Remember, Boston could have dealt that pick for Paul George at the deadline but held on to it. (Side note, Phily has a chance to have a legit big three in Embiid, Simmons and Fultz if they can stay healthy and together.)
And all this is happening, and we're still two days away from the draft starting.
This and that
* Interesting state-by-state look at the most common last names in the U.S. As you would expect, Smith is the most common last name, and is the top one in 40 of the 50 U.S. States. Five states have more Johnsons. (Stop it Spy.) Williams is tops in Louisiana. Lee is first in Hawaii. Martinez is No. 1 in New Mexico and Garcia is most common in Texas and California.
* Deuce Gruden whom a gold medal in power lifting over the weekend. The son of Jon Gruden has a 622-pound squat, 440-pound bench and 666-pound dead lift, Redskins.com said. Deuce is an assistant strength coach with Washingtom, and who knows, could be a UT strength coach in the near future. I heard his mom was a cheerleader in Knoxville.
* Welcome to the show Cody Bellinger. The Dodgers rookie has 20 homers in 51 games, matching the marks set by Wally Berger (no the other one) and Gary Sanchez for fewest games to get to 20 career homers.
* Tiger Woods tweeted that he is getting "professional help" for his pill problem. Good.
You know how we roll on Tuesday. Answer some, leave some.
True or false, Alabama will never win fewer than 10 games as long as Nick Saban is coaching there. True or false, this Braves team will finish .500 or better. True or false, if you are the Cavs, everyone on the roster other than LeBron is tradebait.
On this day, the following folks came into the world:
- In 1942, Brian Wilson was born;
- In 1944 Terry Funk was born;
- In 1946, Bob Vila was born;
- In 1949, Lionel Richie was born;
- In 1952, John Goodman was born;
Nicole Kidman is 50 today. Yes, 50. Also, 50 years ago today Mohammad Ali was convicted of refusing induction into the armed services.
Bugsy Siegel was killed 70 years ago today.
On this day in 1782, Congress gave its OK seal on the U.S. Great Seal and that the bald eagle is our symbol.
O.J. was arraigned on murder charges on this day all the way back in 1994.
"Jaws" was released 42 years ago today; "Blues Brothers" was released 37 years ago today "Despicable Me" was premiers at the Moscow film festival on this day in 2010.
In honor of Jaws, we will do a Rushmore of all-time movie animals. Go.
(And yes, we know the shark was fake. Go with it.)