Atlanta Braves' Tommy Milone pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Braves refusal

Alex Anthopoulos, the Braves GM, has pushed a lot of proper buttons to make the Atlanta organization a year-in, year-out playoff contender.

Alex Anthopoulos, the same Braves GM, has refused to push the needed buttons to make the Atlanta organization a year-in, year-out championship contender.

Sometimes the truth is a compliment, and sometimes that same truth is an indictment, and that's the daily dichotomy that Double AA is dealing with right now.

Braves fans should love the youth, affordability and ceiling of the nucleus of this club. Team-controlled and affordable contracts for superstars like Ronald Acuña Jr. and Freddie Freeman, almost assured future stars like Albies, Swanson, Fried and Soroka. He has assembled a deep bullpen, which is a huge lily pad of stability over the long haul, and a culture of chemistry and cohesiveness.

That last one can not be overvalued in the marathon that is a normal 162-game regular season, because whether you are fielding grounds, fielding complaints from readers or fielding questions from third-graders, if you are working in a place that you like the people and enjoy going to work — be it Truist Park, the TFP or Thrasher Elementary — you are going to be a better worker.

But the continued inactivity at the trading deadlines, and the refusal to add a top-flight starting pitcher in free agency in any offseason leaves this team good enough to get into the tournament and nowhere close to complete enough to be taken seriously in the tournament. (Side question: Was the last truly difference-making addition to the rotation Tim Hudson? Seriously?)

To expand Anthopoulos' dichotomous existence, his reasoning for the Braves not getting involved in the surprisingly busy trading deadline dance over the weekend is either head-scratchingly flawed or downright flawed, and sadly it may be some of each.

Flawed: The Braves did not want to deal one of its prospects for a starting pitcher. Why in the world not? The rotation right now is Max Fried and a whole lot of guys who look like they could either be your State Farm agent or the best player on your rival church-league basketball team.

How much better is this team with Lance Lynn or Mike Clevinger behind Fried and in front of Ian Anderson? And if the cost is a minor league outfielder — a place the Braves are already flush with bodies, and remember, Cristian Pache got all of one start in his mini-stint debut last month — and one of those interchangeable arms that belong to guys with lacrosse names, so be it.

False: AA said this was not about money. C'mon, man. Everything is about money, and this was about money in January and it's about money now. And we asked earlier if Tim Hudson was the last upper-level difference-making starting pitcher that the team added, I'll continue with this: If Ted Turner still owned this team — with his billionaire and free-spending ways — how many more titles would they have?

So, the Braves stood pat and watched as the Padres got better, the Reds got better and, heck, the Phillies got better with deals at the deadline.

The Braves stood pat with the knowledge that what they currently have is nowhere close to what the Dodgers have — barring the sporting-world miracles that can occasionally remind us of the inexplicable joys of sports.

And let's remember the phrase John Wooden famously coined. "You either get better or you get worse; you never stay the same."

He's 100 percent right, and that tells us what happened to the Braves when Monday's deadline passed without a move.

But, in a crazy 2020, in which nothing is as we expected and everything from schemes to schedules are always in flux, maybe we should celebrate the consistency of these Atlanta Braves.

Good enough to get in, nowhere good enough to stay in.


Shouldn't we all be pro-protests, anti-rioters

Before the protests grow in L.A. — another cop-involved fatal shooting of a Black man who may have had a gun was reported Monday — and before we learn of the next name to join George Floyd and Jacob Blake for all the wrong and tragic reasons, there's one more name we need to remember.

We as a country and as a human race of the same beings continue to try to find racial equality in our nation, we can not afford to get there at all costs, gang.

The ends can't justify the means, because if that's the case, then we all need to arm up and get ready for the worst.

And before anyone offers, "it's going to get worse before it gets better," well, how much worse can this get in the big picture and in either direction.

Here's today's A2 column on the tragic death of a St. Louis police officer during the riots.

I support the protests and understand and appreciate the reasons the protestors are taking to our streets. But when the protests become riots and cops are being shot and, in Tamarris Bohannon's case, being killed, then you lose me.

(Side question: Wonder if any NBA players will have Bohannon's name on the back of their jersey in the next round of the playoffs?)

Rogue cops, crooked cops, bad cops and racists cops must be weeded out and prosecuted if need be. And I believe the vast majority of us believe that, including the 98-plus percent of the heroes in uniform protecting and serving us in the right way every day.

And while we are here, we have discussed the NBA's financially driven decisions to not confront China and not defend Daryl Morey's support of Hong Kong freedom fighters last fall.

Hey, the new spin on that argument is akin to "fixing your house before working on your neighbor's" and that's fine. It's hollow and reactionary considering the length of time needed to craft it, but at least it's better than cancelling news conferences and offering no comments, which was play 1 and 1A originally.

And, big picture, I would hope that we all would want to find ways to make America better before turning our attention globally. Still, the positioning and the posturing from last October and the financial stake the NBA had at the time — the crazy thing is, the NBA still sacrificed some social credibility and still lost hundreds of millions because of how this played out in China — made the motives and the reasoning clear.

But I also wonder about the change agents that our professional athletes have become. Case in point: Before a recent WNBA game, the players from each team gathered with white T-shirts that spelled out a message and Jacob Blake's name on the front with seven bullet holes drawn on the back.

The video of the officers in Kenosha, Wisconsin, shooting Blake in the back in front of his family as he tried to get back into his car are horrifying. Those images must be explained and prosecuted as the charges warrant.

In terms of the WNBA players unabashedly supporting Blake — again, the cops' actions deserve protesting and demands scrutiny — what does any of the female basketball players have to say about the reason the cops were called in the first place?

But the details of the real-life terror for the woman who called the cops on Blake to begin with and the other victims of sexual assaults and crimes deserve our support too — she alleged Blake sexually assaulted her in May and called the cops because he was violating a restraining order. Especially from the most recognized female athletes in our country, no?


NFL is close; color me excited, reason No. 102

The NFL is around the corner. I feel strongly about the NFL at least getting started. (No matter how hopeful I am about college football, it's still 50-50 if I had to guess.)

I am excited about the season. I am excited about gambling. I am excited about defending my Fantasy Football title in The Pitch league run by Saturday-morning ESPN 105.1 the Zone all-around good egg Weston Amp.

Simply put, yes, I am excited.

And I am excited to actually pull for the Patriots. In some ways, I somewhat pulled for the Patriots in the past. Not Spy-like passion but with intrigue and interest.

The Patriots — with Bill and Brady, with Gronk and that grudge-match mentality, with the controversy and the conquests — made everything more interesting more interesting, be it playoffs or Monday night football. Yes, I wanted the Falcons to hold on up 28-3, but the Patriots are the Patriots and it made it more interesting.

Now add a simple and universal realization around these parts akin to the fact that I love the draft. You know this.

I am, have been and likely almost always will be a sizable Cam Newton fan. (Shush the size jokes, Intern Scott.)

Cam delivered the unimaginable to this Auburn graduate, and I will be forever grateful.

Yes, I know Cam Newton has a past that is easily mockable. I don't really care.

Here's what else I know: Newton is truly a great dude off the field in terms of causes and charity. The stories are everywhere. And, when healthy, Newton is something that the game of football really does not have a playbook against.

He's a LeBron-like athletic specimen that defies tradition, betrays logic and refuses to be boxed in by expectation.

And if Bill Belichick is praising anyone for working hard, then you have to believe that cat is humping it.

I am truly intrigued by what happens in New England this fall if Newton is 100 percent and ready to roll.      


This and that

— Iowa State is planning on allowing 25,000 fans into the stadium for next Saturday's season opener against Louisiana-Lafayette. This news came out on the same day that the New York Times labeled Ames, Iowa — where Iowa State is located — is the worst COVID-19 town in America with 8.2 new cases per 1,000 residents.

— You know the rules. When TFP college football expert David Paschall pens prose on college football, we read and link his words on college football. Here's DP on the SEC title carrying an asterisk and UT landing a Knoxville-area offensive tackle who is quite large.

— You know the rules. When TFP ace sports columnist and college basketball whiz Mark Wiedmer opines on college hoops, we read and link Weeds on college hoops. Here's Weeds' words on the legacy John Thompson had among his peers and, from Sunday, a very important chat with UTC men's coach Lamont "20-win" Paris from Sunday.

— Another day, another piece of bad news for the LSU athletic department. A day after super-duper-star wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase announced he will sit out the 2020 hybrid season to get ready for the NFL, LSU defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin — arguably the Tigers best defensive player not named cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. — is opting out of the season too. Not sure who the 'Bad News' staff member is in Red Stick, but I bet Coach O is tired of seeing whomever it is.


Today's questions

True or false... it's Tuesday.

True or false, the Braves should have dealt for another starting pitcher, no matter the cost.

True or false, if Cam Newton is truly healthy, the Pats will have a better record than the Bucs and Brady.

True or false, that's all Bill Belichick ultimately cares about this season — having a better record/finish than Brady.

True or false, if you were a top 50 NFL draft prospect heading into the unknown of this season, you would opt out.

And feel free to bounce back some T or Fs as well.

As for today, Sept. 1, let's review.
On this day in 1975, Gunsmoke went off the air.    

Dr. Phil is 70 today. So is Phillip Fulmer. Which makes it clear. Rushmore of Phil/Phillips. Go.