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Braves' chance to flex

We have openly admitted to the growing man crush we have on Ronald Acuna Jr. Dude is that much fun to watch.

In truth, as we all wring hands and consternate over the Braves bullpen and the ups and downs of all part of the rotation not named Mike Soroka and the puzzling fact that Johan Camargo forgot how to hit, we need to realize something.

For a lot of us, the Braves having a six-game lead in the NL East feels like it's much smaller because in some ways it could really be a lot bigger. 

For a lot of us, the Braves have had a wonderful and meaningful summer. 

For a lot of us, the Braves, while we are invested, are primarily a June and July bridge into football season.

So for those of us in those categories, well, mission accomplished. We have bridged the summer and heading into the meat of the sports season.

Still, we are invested now, and we want the Braves to finish this thing properly. 

A monster chance to increase the stranglehold on the East comes this week. Weeds wrote about it in Monday's TFP and he was right.

But looking at the three with the Mets and three with the class of the NL from L.A.

The Mets come first and in a lot of ways are more important. The Mets are the hottest team in baseball, winning 15 of their last 17. 

The starting-pitching match-ups favor the Braves believe it or not. Yes, the Mets have as good a rotation as anyone in baseball, but the Braves will miss Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard while sending their collection of interchangeable starters behind Soroka against the Mets.

Here are pitching details (all games are at 7:20 p.m.):

  • Tonight — Dan Wheeler (9-6, 4.20, 1.22 WHiP) vs. Max Fried (13-4, 4.11, 1.37 WHiP)
  • Wednesday — Steven Matz (7-7, 4.49, 1.40 WHiP) vs. Dallas Kuechel (3-5, 4.83, 1.36 WHiP)
  • Thursday — Marcus Stroman (6-11, 3.20, 1.29 WHiP) vs. Julio Teheran (7-7, 3.35, 1.28 WHiP)

Making the most of those match-ups — and limiting the exposure of the Braves bullpen — will go a long way the next three days.


Fantasy Island

OK first, the Love Boat-Fantasy Island double-header of my youth on Saturday nights was money. Money.

In fact, the Friday night twin bill of the Dukes of Hazard followed by Dallas was also aces.

Which leads me to the sad realization that back in the late 70s and early 80s, my TV regiment — just like the orders and starting nines for all the NL — were memorized.

Mondays had some excellent shows. White Shadow was there for its brilliant but short run. Seems like M*A*S*H was too. That's Incredible. Monday Night Football. A-Team came later.

Tuesdays was ABC's go-zone with Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley and Three's Company. (Side point to this complete tangent: Three's Company was soooooooo far ahead of its time. Think about how many of today's sitcoms' storylines are pulled straight from the go-zone of Jack Tripper and mistaken sexual orientation or innuendo. Seriously. Three's Company. Who knew?) Seems like Hart to Hart was there and eventually Moonlighting and Roseanne, I think.

Thursday was NBC's go-zone starting with Hill Street Blues, another ground-breaking series. Of course we know about the shows that led us to the Seinfeld and Friends domination later, but if anyone has something bad to say about Alex P. Keaton and the Family Ties crew or Sam or the bunch at Cheers, well, you are excused for the rest of morning. 

Nowadays, we can barely remember that Yellowstone is on Paramount on Wednesday nights. (Side note: Yellowstone is worth your time friends. Trust me on this. It may be Costner's best character since Crash Davis. Truly.)

Anyhoo, where were we? Oh yes, Fantasy Island.

Starting last night, ESPN has dominated its main platforms with an avalanche of fantasy football interviews, stories, breakdowns and analysis. I'm all for it, but I play fantasy football.

(Side question on a rant that has really gone off the rails: For those of you who do play fantasy football, if you have rapid-fire specific questions — sleepers at positions, round to take a QB, a specific player such as when's a good time to take Baker Mayfield, or RB debates like which Pats back do you prefer Sony Michel or James White — we will have one of the chief dudes from RotoWorld on Press Row today at 3:20. Send me your questions, either in the comments below or you can email me at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com. Deal? Deal.)

I think fantasy sports are a great way to have connecting interest in general leagues and random teams. It's not as heavy a financial or emotional investment as say gambling, but it's a connection nonetheless.

Thoughts?

Lifetime pass

OK, we discussed this briefly on Press Row on Monday afternoon, but here are more details of the Olive Garden offering a limited number of lifetime pasta passes — cards that cover pasta, soup, salad and bread sticks for life — for $400.  

I love this idea, and if I lived in Hixson or near Gunbarrel, I would be so interested in the pasta pass, because who can pass on pasta, am I right? 

OK, our first question of the day — even on a True or False Tuesday — has to start with the $400 lifetime pass to a restaurant. Any restaurant?

How many — and which ones — make your list if you could get a lifetime pass for a set price? 

If we set the limit at three, my list would likely be Chick-Fil-A, Cracker Barrel and maybe Longhorn.

If I had to go with one, just because of frequency, I would likely go CFA. 

What is/are yours? 

This and that

— Sometimes karma can cut, well, like a knife. Did you see the story of the North Georgia woman who tripped over her cat and fell on a steak knife? Here's more. She fell and the steak knife was stuck in her abdomen. It could have been a whole heck of a lot worse, according to the story from Rosanna Hughes of the TFP. The karma part? The cat's name is Lucifer. 

— And we only thought we knew the power of LeBron James. Who had any idea he was strong enough to flex and get the NCAA to say how high? Here's TFP ace sports columnist Mark Wiedmer on the NCAA reversing course on its agent certification ideas, which were a very thinly veiled attempt to limit the power of Rich Paul, James' right-hand man. (Side note: Cue Uncle Buck, because while "it's in the books" that we have to read Weeds on college hoops matters, we are also adding NCAA-aimed columns. Weeds do like to throw some stones at the doofuses ((or  would that be doofi, Spy?)) in the NCAA offices in Indy.)

— Speaking of in the books, the 5-at-10 is normally a step or so late this time of year because of all of the excellent college football stuff in the TFP. Here's college football wizard David Paschall on the changing running back scene in Tuscaloosa and Georgia having a stud outside linebacker (yeah, shocking, right) with a name I can't pronounce. Here too is Gene of Many Hats Henley on UT's expectations for tight end improvement. 

— Speaking of college football, here's a list of the best college football team in each state from a couple of 247sports.com college football guys. Wonder who they picked in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina hmmmmmmmmm. That said, there were a couple of surprises. Best team in Tennessee was Memphis according to Barrett Sallee and Ben Kercheval. Best in North Carolina was App State.

— Dang, this message should be viewed by everyone, not just college football stars. Like Stephen A. (some call him Screamin' A.) or loathe him, there is no denying two things. One, he is very good at his job. Period. There is no debating this. Two, this speech is borderline perfect. (And know this, when Nick Saban is sitting in row one and taking notes, well, your message has impact.)

— At the opposite end of clarity comes Rishard Matthews' retirement letter from the NFL. Read here, and if anyone has any ideas on what Matthews' biggest beef is, well, feel free to share. Also of note, no where in that letter, with nuance or directness does it even hint that the 29-year-old Matthews will be giving back any of his more than $13.6 million in career earnings. Yeah, there are a lot of problems and issues that come from being an NFL player, be them physical, mental, emotional, you name it. And I will never know any of those. But I do know that I would role the dice against any and all of them for the chance to 'retire' before I'm 30 with $13.6 million career earnings.

— We will keep one eye on the Braves tonight. We will keep the other on Hard Knocks to see if there are any new details with the entire Antonio Brown drama. Side note: Brown is reportedly going to report to camp today, which is terrible timing for the producers of Hard Knocks considering episode 2 is tonight. We're in.

— Well, Kliff Kingsbury does not see eye-to-eye with Antonio Brown on the helmet issue. For those under a rock, Brown said he would quit football if he did not get his helmet. Kingsbury, when asked if he has ever had a helmet he would quit football over, said he's never met a woman he'd quit football for. In case you're wondering, the very easy on the eyes Kingsbury is dating one Holly Sonders, who also is quite smoke show. (Wonder if Kliff had some splainin' to do when Ms. Holly heard that one.)  

Today's questions  

As for some true or false, let's start here, and remember if you want to leave some T or Fs, well, feel free.

True or false, the Braves will take at least two of three from the Mets.

True or false, you play fantasy football. (Bonus: If you answer false, you are bothered by that 'fantasy football guy' somewhere in your life.)

True or false, Antonio Brown is worth the headaches and the drama.

As for today, Aug. 13, let's explore.

On this day in 2008, Michael Phelps won three golds — each in record time — in the Beijing Olympics. That's a pretty doggone good day.
Bambi was released on this day in 1942, and friends if it does not get dusty when the shots are fired and Bambi can't find his momma, well, you need to get checked for something.

Mickey Mantle died on this day in 1995. He was one of the more mythical sports heroes ever, no?

Bonnie and Clyde was released on this day in 1967. 

Rushmore of most famous/infamous crime duos. Go.

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