Yes, that good
I was prepared to start this morning writing about the Hawks. As JMader has noted in the comments, there is a lot to like about the rebuilt version of Atlanta's NMBA franchise. We'll save that a day because as I was doing my morning reading, two prep stories caught my eye.
First, and we discussed this a smidge when TFP sports editor and prep sports guru Stephen Hargis broke the news that Tyrus Ward was leaving Tyner after a month on the job. Here's Hargis' complete story, and no, I do not know what Ward's career opportunity is.
That said, kind feels like the Tyner leadership pulled the classic movie adultery scenario, right? In a longtime marriage, and yeah there are some bumps here and there and the occasional argument over money or the kids or what have you. And then Tyner gets word that the hot young name around town may be interested and the flirting starts. Then the next thing you know after a month of heavy petting at the Cherokee Motel and telling your partner it's over, the hot young name now is getting courted by something better.
And you're left with your kids hurting and your reputation shaken.
The other prep story is way more entertaining — maybe not for McCallie folks, though — and worthy of a moment of our time.
This Baylor baseball bunch is sickeningly great. At 18-3 and with 33 homers in 21 games, it's a juggernaut that overpowered rival McCallie. Here's more from TFP prep sports ace Patrick MacCoon.
There are nine D-I commits on the roster and the seniors are looking for their third state title in as many attempts in their high school careers.
Baylor was ranked 13th nationally by MaxPreps going into last night's game, and the 10-0 win over the Tornado certainly won't hurt that.
I have been in this area and connected to sports for what will be 19 years next month, and with all due respect to the slew of great teams and players we've had in Chattanooga and the surrounding area, this Baylor baseball team may be the best in my almost two-decade run here.
Yes, Hamilton Heights was different for a slew of reasons and had teams compete for national basketball titles, but the requirements and eligibility guidelines put a different prism on the view of their accomplishments.
I know the Baylor boys' golf team in 2006 with three future PGA players and running a decade-long streak of state titles is amazing, but in the traditional team sports realm, I can't recall one better.
Draft, day 2 — literally
Yep, two days away. Two long days, sadly.
The NFL draft is this week, and I love the draft. You know this.
I also love the way the draft has been reconfigured. Round 1 Thursday with rounds 2 and 3 Friday. It adds intrigue and value and time, and the last of those is especially important, because after debating which team had the best picks and the worst picks of the first round, the extra hours before the start of Round 2allows all of us wannabe-GMs the chance to ponder trades and the best names left on the board.
It's one of the great sports rule changes of my lifetime if I'm being honest.
Which leads me to today's draft debate. Best second-day picks in the modern form, which means rounds 2 and 3 in the modern format, which was adopted in 2010.
Deal? Deal. And since it's a Tuesday, let's do a top 10 — some could call that a poll, right? — and, despite trying, a bottom five is almost impossible. Which means Day 2 in a lot of ways is every bit as important as Day 1, because while you are looking for Hall of Famers in Day 1, these guys below wins a lot of championships with their teams by being true difference makers at extreme values.
2010 — Rob Gronkowski, 42nd overall. Yeah, one of the three best ever at his position 10 picks into Day 2 works.
2012 — Bobby Wagner, 47 overall.
2012 — Russell Wilson, 75 overall. Grouped these together because they became the faces of the Seahawks for a decade and were key parts of the Super Bowl win. (In case you're curious, the Seahawks drafted Bruce Irvin at 15 overall in the same draft. Hmmmmm.)
2013 — Travis Kelce, 63 overall.
2013 — Keenan Allen, 76 overall. How about round 3 of 2013, which will have more Hall of Famers — these two dudes — than Round 1 (DeAndre Hopkins) in the same draft?
2016 — Derrick Henry, 45 overall
2016 — Michael Thomas 47 overall. Two future AP offensive players of the year after Day 1 works.
2017 — Alvin Kamara, 67 overall. Yeah the Saints became an every-year playoff team by dominating Day 2.
2018 — Nick Chubb, 35 overall.
2019 — DK Metcalf, 64 overall.
And friends there were a ton of names from last year that looked like bona fide future stars from day 2.
War Draft week.
Yes, I love watching Ronald Acuña play, and even with all the angst against MLB and its panicky and dreadful All-Star game evacuation, his at-bats are can't miss. Heck, I had money against the Braves last night — Cubs +1.5 was too good to pass up — and still found myself rooting for Acuña to get on base, because the only more fun that watching him hit is watching him run the bases.
But there is better must-see baseball TV out there, even if it rotates in the anonymity that is the Angels.
Ladies and gentleman, Shohei Ohtani.
For those of you who know your way around this neighborhood, my amazement at Shohei's plethora of skills is not new. And, a long-standing baseline for worth of accomplishment is the company you keep on reaching set lists.
Last night when he took the mound against the Texas Rangers, he became the first AL home-run leader — his seven homers was tied for the league lead going into Monday — to be the starting pitcher since some dude named George Herman Ruth did it 99 years, 10 months and 13 days ago.
Chew on that.
Ohtani is going to offer up great, 'not since Ruth' stats and phrases almost every outing. After a disastrous first inning, he got his first win since 2018 in part because of his bat. He scored three times and his two-run double in the second. Want to discuss stuffing a stat sheet, how about this night of work for Shohei:
How about 2-for-3 with a double and a walk, 3 runs scored and 2 RBIs; Five innings pitched, 3 hits, 4 ER and 9Ks. On the year, that's 1-0 in three starts with a 3.29 ERA and 23 Ks in 13.2 innings on the mound and 24-for-80 (.300) with 7 homers, 18 RBIs and 17 runs scored with an OPS of 1.016.
Gang, that's unheard of. Those numbers are closer to what you'd see for a Best of Preps pick not an American Leaguer.
Bigger picture as the MLB deals with waning popularity is how to make the most of these young stars.
The MLB's regional structure for broadcast and team-negotiated rights are a long standing line item that a) gives local ownership control and b) keeps the small-market teams underfunded because there's simply no way the broadcast deal the Yankees can command and the one the Royals work out are remotely similar.
But beyond finances, MLB has to find a way for every time Acuña reaches first, every deGrom start, every time Ohtani is involved in the action, every time Juan Soto picks up a bat, or Fernando Tatis or the slew of young Blue Jays sluggers whose last names you recognize because their daddies were famous players in the 1990s on my TV.
My idea is simple. Blend the marketing approach of the NBA and the broadcast approach of the Red Zone on the NFL Network, with a slight twist.
The Red Zone clicks to every game as soon as possible if a team is about to score. This feeds a fantasy-creed fan base of a league that other than QBs is relatively faceless because of facemarks. You don't care if David Montgomery scores unless you are a) a diehard Bears fan, in which case you are already watching so the Red Zone does not cater to you, b) have David Montgomery in your fantasy lineup or c) have money on the or against the Bears, and depending on the size of the wager, you may already be watching that one too.
The NBA markets its stars. How many commercials for upcoming national games do you hear phrased as "LeBron and the Lakers face Steph and the Warriors" these days? Answer: All of them.
Mesh the two. Every time Jacob deGrom throws a pitch, it should be on out-of-market MLB. When the Mets bat? Flip to the next best starting pitcher or show us the complete at-bat of Tatis, Soto, Acuña, Trout or any of the other needle movers in the game.
Mix in highlights, of course, but magnify the stars and the intricacies of each at-bat. The baseball nerd in me loved the game-winning back-to-back at-bats for the Braves last night, as Acuña refused to give in and drew a two-out walk on a pitch that two years ago he would have chased. A 10-plus pitch at-bat for Freddie Freeman followed that ended up with a hanging cutter becoming a 400-foot, three-run homer.
But the highlight was that one swing. The beauty was in the build-up — Freeman spoiling a river of grade-A pitcher's pitches to finally get to the mistake — and that's baseball.
Find a way to show that to the masses, and magnify your young stars in the process.
This and that
— OK, the Kentucky Derby is this week, which means one thing: Contest. Send me your pick for the winner and your pick for DFL aka DTBGBTEOTM (destined to be glue by the end of the month) for Saturday's big race. Don't cost nothin' as they say at the Delta House.
— Here's my A2 column in today's TFP about the amazing stat that the Newark police department lowered crime by 6% without firing a shot in 2020. Seriously. And I can't say this enough: I am optimistic for Tim Kelly's regime, and I hope that he will be way better than his predecessor, but I am 100% a believer in David Roddy and know that unless Andy Taylor wants the job, Roddy > anyone else for the job of CPD chief.
— Interesting announcement about the reappointment of U.S. House seats and how California lost a seat for the first time and Texas gained two. Among the countless things that fall into the "Way it's always been done"/"Victor go the spoils" part of politics that truly needs to be addressed is the gerrymandering seediness that happens across both aisles. Not sure I have a solution, but when party A is in control they say it's politics, and party B does the same thing when it has power. And both cry foul when the other side does it. In some ways, redrawing the lines on census data is needed because of population shifts but when a system gets this exploited and everyone knows it, it's either A) part of the NCAA and more reason to fire Mark Emmert or B) time to change an antiquated protocol.
— Offering this without commentary. The Oscar numbers were record-settingly dreadful. Sunday's show — which had to be expecting awful numbers considering the lack of connection with most movies released in 2020 because of COVID — drew an average of 9.85 million, which is a 58% decline from the average of 23.64 million that watched in 2020. And as one of our regulars passed along that the swag bag for actors and big shots just nominated for an Oscar were worth $205,000. A piece. That's right, each, and among the goodies as a 24-karay vape pen, liposuction fort 'celebrity arms,' trips and stays at resorts around the world, and an NFT tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman, and who knows what that would be worth considering the collectible market these days. (Side question: With all the preaching that the A-listers do about how the rest of us live our lives, wonder how many folks in and around the movie business whose names we don't know could use those swag bags a heckuva lot more than Glenn Close or Robert DeNiro? Do as I say and not as I do, huh?)
— You know the rules. Here's Paschall on the newest UT QB in an already crowded QB room. Side question: In the modern with this portal-influenced form of free agency in college football, how much would Josh Heupel love to trade one of his multitude of QBs for a linebacker? Hey, Saban, Harrison Bailey for any of those five-star outside pass rushers who you'll have on special teams in 2021? Deal?)
True or false, in honor of Big Ern, it's Tuesday.
True or false, with betting legal in our state, you will make a legal wager on the Kentucky Derby this weekend.
True or false, Baylor's baseball bunch this year is the best traditional prep sports team of the 2000s.
True or false, Wayner Turner is smiling somewhere this morning.
True or false, you would rather have Shohei Ohtani than Ronald Acuña Jr.
As for today, Rocky Marciano retired on this day in 1956.
John Milton sold the copyright of Paradise Lost for 10 pounds. Ouch-standing.
Casey Kasem would have been 89 today.
On this day seven years ago, "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" premiered. He's a wicked far-left leaner, but he has amazing comedic timing if you ask me.
Does he make the Rushmore of Oliver? Go.