NEW YORK CITY — It's pre-dawn here as we look for random socks and pack our stuff in our Times Square hotel room and start our trip back.
Great trip for sure, and dear Lord this place is surreal. Looking forward to returning to the 423, which is decidedly more speed. I am a realist, and in the Andy world, I am way more Sheriff Andy Taylor than Soup-can-specialist Andy Warhol. And I good with that.
Let's do this.
From Patrick -
Jay, love your 5-at-10 and I hope you guys can get the sign-in worked out for comments.
Hope you had a great 'vacay' with the 'fam'. Did you see anyone famous?
Thanks my man, and remember if any one needs help with the new sign-in system — and I am being told you can use handles if you would prefer — email the system folks at email@example.com.
The Mrs. 5-at-10 and I did a lot of celebrity scoping as we walked to and fro the Big Apple.
Here's my best guess:
I am 99 percent certain I saw Danny Kannell at Tony D. Napoli's restaurant last night for dinner. (Holy buckets was that a lot of food and DEE-licious. My caloric intake was quite large the week.)
I am almost certain I saw Pat O'Brien on the phone, and think I saw Adnan Virk, the former ESPN personality.
I know I saw about 1,406 females that were desperately trying to by a Kardashian, but with the K-Klan bankroll I doubt they were traipsing down Fifth Avenue without some form of entourage or security detail.
It was not for a lack of looking mind you, but we did not check many celebrity boxes. So it goes.
From Trish -
What was your biggest takeaway from going to NYC? I love that city.
Thanks for your inaugural question. Don't be a stranger.
NYC, for me, is a lot like Vegas. Love going. Tons to do and see. Feel like you just got there and you've been there for 10 days within the first few days.
So the best phrase I have for NYC — great place to visit, but there's no way I could live.
I could not drive with these people. Seriously, how there are not more accidents and pedestrian hit by cars is baffling.
I could not handle the over-swell of humanity. Seriously, there were so many pushy, out-of-control, people and kids at the Natural History Museum I was prepared to punt a 5-year-old with a passport.
(How about that headline in the TFP: "Local columnist and 5-at-10 arrested at national landmark for assaulting a toddler." That would change the mood, huh?)
And the mosh pit that is the sidewalk filled with bodies and 70 percent them looking at their devices rather than where they are going — and expecting you to get out of their way as they are doing it — is infuriating.
Plus, considering how pricey things are here, the people who live here have to make insane salaries. And while they get paid twice as much annually, they almost assuredly 'make' less than me and Steve and the rest of us hard-working middle-class Southern folks.
You could not get to everything in this city in a month to be honest. So much to see. And start with the Natural History Museum; we spent almost five hours there and did not get to half the exhibits.
I don't have any good travel tips, per se. The Mrs. handles the details because she's much better than that than me.
I can understand your view point: it's an easy city to love. But it would take me a long time to get used to living here.
From WarEagle -
I normally refrain from writing to you and just like to play in your contests, but your SEC rankings have bothered me all week.
How can you, an Auburn graduate, have the self-loathing gall to list 'Alabama second-team' No. 5 in the SEC.
You sir are an embarrassment and a fair-weather fan of the Tigers.
We don't need the likes of you bandwagon types who flock to Alabama at the first sign of trouble.
Turn in your fan card.
Thanks for the letter, and my first instinct was to tell you where to go and what to do when you got there.
You can have my fan card when you pull it from my cold, dead, 2010 Blue and Orange foam No. 1 finger. (Side point: And yes there will be a Red foam tomahawk on the other hand, thank you very much. Side point on the side point: If I am some young entrepreneur, when the season starts next year, I am for sure finding a space outside SunTrust next year and selling foam Red tomahawks. As conservative and cranky as Braves fans are — and as ticked as they are with the way the season ended and with the decision to kowtow to the whims of one relief pitcher before the biggest game in that park's history because his PawPaw may have lived in a TeePee or wore a WigWam — those puppies would fly off the shelves.)
Where were we? Oh, yes, my first instinct in regard to my AU fandom. That instinct would not have allowed me the following teaching points:
First, here's betting that WarEagle watches Fox. (Most AU graduates for sure and fans in general are a conservative bunch. Trust me on this.) If not W/E watches the competitor, and like so many of the news-haters and choir-members-wanting-to-hear-the-preaching-they-already-agree crowd, the word bias gets thrown out a lot.
Sadly, there are instances, especially in the big cable TV news markets where bias — and profiting off pleasing their regular viewers — is part of the agenda. It would be folly to argue that and to argue that would diminish the rest of the argument.
But can you have a claim of bias and then call someone a traitor because they have a differing opinion that yours? (Which is doubly worse, when a) it comes from a family-oriented, interweb-based sports column that tried to be humorous, and b) in this instance is right.) I don't think so and here's why: Then the absolutely only message you put stock in is the one you have already crafted.
That's not news or a discussion. That's your thesis paper W/E and, while I'm sure you worked hard on it and believe it to be right, that's not the baseline for all of us.
Let's look at the basic tenets of the Auburn debacle in The Swamp:
> Bo Nix regressed and played like a freshman. Maybe that was to be expected, but if he makes two more plays — two — Auburn's defense would not have been gassed and I think Auburn wins;
> Gus Malzahn did an awful job last week. The week of preparation was awful. he said the crowd noise at The Swamp 'surprised' him, uh Gus, 'How?" since that was a true road game at a top-10 team with GameDay, the CBS brood and all of America watching. And his Saturday was worse. He quit on the running game, which is something you never think about in terms of Gus, so he must have really panicked. He never used Joey Gatewood — which would have truly helped on the litany of third-and-shorts AU failed on. He failed the basic rule of this offense: You have to get Anthony Schwartz at least 5 touches a game, and hopefully twice that. (Dude wears No. 5 and he is the fastest player in college football.) And he wasted a great defensive effort by a defense that got caught in one bad mismatch — the 64-yard slant when their WR was lined-up on an AU LB — and missed one tackle because it was gassed on the fourth-quarter back-breaker.
> And this loss is so painful for several reasons. This was the easiest of the four top-10 tests that filled the back half of AU's schedule. A win there would have meant Auburn could have gone 1-3 down the stretch in at LSU, vs. UGA and vs. Bama, and been the best two-loss team in the country, which is never the goal but may very well have been this year, still a playoff contender, depending on how it plays out. And as we said earlier this week, Auburn likely goes 8-4 and plays a Michigan State or an Iowa in a Florida bowl, and this team has entirely too many NFL defensive players on the field for an 'offensive genius' to botch this.
Those are the specifics. Was "Alabama's second-string" ahead of Auburn hyperbole? Yep, but I believe they have more belief in success than Auburn's starters and that comes from leadership, in my view.
As for your email, I'll say this in summation: In the big picture, W/E, you and I may have a ton in common in a lot of viewpoints, positions and beliefs.
But know this: Those people in the "It's this way (i.e. my way) or you're not a true (American, Believer, Auburn fan, whatever)" or on the other side, "If you are not in support of this you're a (tyrant, racist, hate-monger, et al.)" are really at the heart of what is wrong in America these days.
It's easy to blame the cable news networks for that, and maybe they started that movement. It's right to blame the politicians, who have found millions and fame and success playing to that message rather than leading our nation.
But we, the people, are the only ones who can and will change it. We, the masses — sadly, not unlike the mob in Dr. Frankenstein — have to demand better.
From a slew of you -
Do you fire Snitker?
From Areader -
How in the world do you think this will be Acuna's team? This is Freddie Freeman's team like it was Chipper's team like it was Smoltz' team like it was Murphy's team like it was Neikro's team.
None of them are close to the "hot-dogging, look at me, self-center' type players that are wrong with the game like Acuna is. No way he is ever a leader - on this team or any other.
You don't know (bleep) about these Braves!
As for the Snitker question, that is a toughie for sure.
Snitker was good this year. He was terrible in the postseason. And the "the 3-4-5 guys" didn't hit is hollow. Because if that's the truth, then does he deserve credit for the 1-through-5 guys mashing since the All-Star break? How hard is it to fill out the same line-up card? When obstacles arise is when great decisions must be made.
The analytic, play the numbers game of Mike Soroka getting the Game 3 start was understandable in the Stat-o-Matic, or Baseball Stratego or whatever those board games are.
In the end, it meant the Braves best and most consistent pitcher through 2019 got one chance to pitch in five games. One.
Look at every other series. Scherzer was a threat almost every game. Gerrit Cole has been the star of the postseason. Heck, even stupid Dave Roberts rolled the dice with Kershaw. (Yes, it blew up in his face but he gave the ball to his best and rolled the dice.)
The Braves? They routinely dialed top the Luke Jackson Experiment. (That said, if Max Fried wants to be a true shutdown lefty out of the 'pen, that dude could be Andrew Miller 2.0 and very valuable for the next few years.)
Plus, after seeing this rant from the Cardinals manager it was quite clear that he had his team motivated and the Braves were just showing up to the office.
(And don't even get me started that Mike Shildt, the Cards skipper, was passionate about his team and winning and most animated Snit got was discussing Acuña's base-running gaffe in Game 1.)
As for the decision to get rid of him, if you can get a manager who can bring a World Series ring into the locker room and the belief that he can get a championship roster to championship level, then you do it. And thank Snit for getting the team from rebuilding to contending.
Snitker also refused to see what every other Southern this side of Ray Charles noticed: Freddie Freeman was either hurt or playing to avoid more pain, and that Freeman killed more rallies than tear gas. Dear buckets, your 3-hole guy going 4-for-20 and 1-for-15 in meaningful ABs in a five-game series is devastating.
That's not 'just not hitting' that's playing for yourself rather than the team.
Which brings us to Areader.
On a periphery sense, and this is not to allege that Freeman is a selfish player — because I do not think he is, but I also do not think Ronald Acuña is either — which would you determine more selfish: Playing with an injury because you want to play even though your play is hurting your team or watching a fly ball you think is gone hit the wall and not get second base?
And Areader, I don't know you, sir or madam, and Freddie Freeman, healthy, is a great ballplayer, but if this organization is not ready to embrace Acuña as the next great superstar in this game — and team's revolve around its best player 90-plus percent of the time — then they are going to miss the rocket ship. (And that does not even bring into account that Acuña's best friend is Ozzie Albies, the Braves third-best position player.)
And maybe it doesn't happen, and Acuña is content with Freddie being the face to the public and spokesperson on topics. (And yes, it matters that Acuña still has a translator, because if there's one thing reporters and TV crews hate it's answers from a translator. Truly.)
But the Braves better handle this better than they did the Cardinals or a decade-plus window of excellence will be crumbled much more quickly, regardless of who is filling out the lineup card.
This week's Rushmores
Rushmore of rock stars lucky to be alive: Steven Tyler (and Joe Perry), Keith Richards, Ozzie and the entire crew of Motley Crew.
Rushmore of all-time NBC shows: The Tonight Show has to be there because it was the Godfather of late night programing, SNL, The Today Show, which like The Tonight Show created its own genre, and Seinfeld, which opened syndication to everyone. (You could make a hard argument that The Cosby Show should go here, but we have disavowed all things Cosby.)
Rushmore of modern actors with the best comedy catalog: Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Eddie Murphy, Mel Brooks.
Rushmore of unbreakable college football records: (need to start with the caveat that no 'single-game' record other than margin of victory should be listed because what happens if this thing goes to 38 OTs, and a lot season records are more vulnerable that ever because a team could play 15 games?) Margin of victory — 222-0; Sewanee winning five games in six days; Derrick Thomas' 27 sacks in a season; and just about everything that happened in the 1939 Texas Tech-Centenary game that featured no points (a record but one that has been matched since and will never be duplicated again) and 77 punts. Yes 77 punts. There were 13 still-standing records from that single game.
As for the NFL picks, we gave you pats by a million Thursday and Pats by 21 was enough to cover every line anywhere. (Wished Sony Michel could have done a little more for my fantasy team, but, hey we need these picks to get back to that 60 percent across the board range considering the coin we dropped in NYC. Yes, the 31-19-1 after last night on NFL pays some AmEx bills, but the college being a game under this late into the season needs some Saturday love.)
Seattle minus-1.5 at Cleveland, Houston-Kansas City over 55, New Orleans plus-1.5 at Jacksonville, Dallas minus-7 at the Jets (buy the half).
Enjoy the weekend friends. Be back in the saddle come Monday.