Atlanta Braves starter Drew Smyly releases a pitch during the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

'Field of Dreams' game thoughts

So the "Field of Dreams" game between the White Sox and the Yankees is set for Thursday.

Read this with the cadence and background music of Sinatra: "Thoughts, I have a few."

> First, I don't really think "Field of Dreams" is a baseball movie, like I don't think "Die Hard" or "Iron Man 3" are Christmas movies. They are films with the background of baseball and Christmas, not baseball and Christmas movies. Thoughts.

> Second, the litany of quotes from "Field of Dreams" is exceedingly underrated and, in fact, I use them more than I realize. From the whispering ghost in the cornfield — "Ease his pain" — to the hilarious "When did these ballplayers get here?" and "Rookie, you were good." There are a slew of them I use even unknowingly at times. People will come Ray, people will most definitely come.

> And if they want to turn up the drive for reasons they can't even fathom, they better have way more than $20 in their hand, even if it is money they have and peace they lack. The lowest price on Stubhub currently is $875 for a ticket.

> Also, since we have committed to passing along more betting tips and advice, there is a Field of Dingers special on FanDuel, that if you place a $25 parlay with three or more legs (minimum odds of +400), you will get $5 for every homer hit in Thursday's game, up to $35. Gang, and if I ever decide to cover gambling more extensively — and you decide to read it — these are the opportunities you have to take to maximize your chances against the online betting operators.  


Speaking of baseball

Braves played. Braves won.

Drew Smyly has created more smiles than frowns over the last few weeks. In fact, after a dreadful start, since June 1, he's won his last six decisions.

He gives the Braves a chance — especially against mediocre opponents — and there is value in that during the regular season. Atlanta is 10-2 in his 12 starts after May and he has a 3.31 ERA over that span, during which the Braves have averaged 6.1 runs per Smyly start.

But the takeaway here is the reloaded lineup Alex Anthopoulos gave Brian Snitker and Co.

Who knew that Adam Duvall was the hero the Braves needed as much as the hero they deserved? In 10 games with the Braves, Duval has scored five runs and knocked home 10. He has three homers in that time, and when the new-look lineup — without Ronald Acuña Jr. — has Duval — who is top 10 in the NL in homers and RBIs — hitting sixth and Joc Pederson hitting seventh, well, that speaks well about this team's chances.

Now and in the postseason.

That's right, in the postseason. Because Pederson and Duvall are more than products of the current launch angles and swing-hard, miss-a-lot philosophy.

They are also instant rallies that so often are the difference in the "er" months, when stringing multiple hits together for a run are much harder and the value of a one-swing crooked number is immeasurable.

And now picture that lineup with catcher Travis d'Arnaud returning.

Chop house indeed.


'Hard Knocks,' episode 1

OK, I'll ask for the group: How is Mike McCarthy an NFL head coach? I wouldn't trust that dude to run my middle school team.

McCarthy's oafish ways and less-than-inspiring persona — even in when he was "overdoing" it for the cameras — were clear takeaways from the first installment of "Hard Knocks" with the Dallas Cowboys. If you have not watched and are planning to watch, well, skip down to the 'This and That' and check back after you have watched.

Deal? Deal.

Some thoughts about the annual preseason rite of passage from the good folks at HBO Sports.

It's hard not to root for Dak Prescott, and it's hard not to be intrigued by his fantasy upside. Those weapons, that running game, the monster chip on his shoulder, that question-mark-filled defense that could demand the Cowboys score 35-points-per to get to the playoffs. Yes, yes, yes, and double yes, in terms of fantasy checkmarks.

(Side note: Thought it was really interesting that the Cowboys training staff reached out to MLB teams about ways to safeguard Prescott's shoulder injury.)

Speaking of energetic and fantasy-football-attractive people from the first episode, I'll buy on Zeke Elliott, too. Dude was giddy to be back to work — have to believe Dak's return aided that, too — and looked to be in really good shape, even if he wanted to lose some more pounds with a sweatshirt in the heat.

As for McCarthy, uh, Austin Powers references? Really. And if you want to go MoJo movie references, uh, hello, "Friday Night Lights"?

Final thoughts: One, I was hoping for more, and still am hoping for more. I'll give the debut a C, even with Dak's salty mouth and Zeke's perma-grin. Two, hey, you want some breakfast sandwich with all that salt? Egad, what's his sodium count, a billion?

Finally, the producers either need to tell McCarthy to drop the canned and corny or find another lead voice for this thing. But, as with each season, I'm in, and as we say each year, Liev Schreiber is glorious as a narrator.


This and that

— Hmmmmmm, atta boy Kyle Seager, who hit his third homer off Kolby Allard in 14 career at-bats. A nice +280 payday for some.

— So in  an interview with The Athletic, O.J. Simpson says he doesn't go to L.A. because he may run into the person who killed his wife. Hmmmmmmm. "I have trouble with L.A.," he told the site. "People may think this is self-serving, but I might be sitting next to whoever did it. I really don't know who did this." Yeah, I got a pretty good idea. And if O.J.'s not in L.A., then I don't think the killer is in L.A., either.

— There was a hubbub from the North American Association of Subway Franchisees meeting, as local operators of the footlong factories want the ads with Megan Rapinoe pulled from the air. Hmmmmmmm. Not that Subway has ever had a spokesperson cross any lines or anything.

— Isaiah Thomas scoring a billion points in a pro-am game is a reminder of several things. One, fringe NBA players are so, So, SO much better than anyone you have ever played against, it will make your head explode. Two, Thomas was done dirty by Danny Ainge at the end of his time in Boston. Three, I don't know if Thomas will ever get back to the NBA — scoring 30 and allowing 35 because you can't guard anyone is a losing equation — but the social media clips of his 81-point outburst are fun.

— You know the rules. Here's Paschall on one of the deep threats to keep an eye for the Vols. And while we're here, I have heard nothing but raves about the increased speed for these Vols on the perimeter. So there's that.

— Hmmmmm, my buddy Dancin' David Cobb has an interesting look at the 23 members named to the NCAA Constitution Committee, which will shape (reshape) the organization moving forward. Uh, gang, that list is painfully short on Power Five representatives and has only one  — of 23 — with current SEC ties, which is the same as the number of folks currently linked to Wisconsin-Oshkosh, by Gosh. Hmmmmmm.


Today's questions

Which way Wednesday starts this way: which professional sporting event would you pay $875 (or more) to attend, if there is one?

Which "Field of Dreams" quote do you think of first when the movie is mentioned?

Which Braves addition will turn out to be the most important?

Which QB will have the better statistical season, Dak with the Cowboys or Matt Stafford with the Rams?

Answer a few, leave a few.

As for today, Aug. 11, let's review, and to be honest, there's not much.

That said, Chris Hemsworth is 38 today and dude is aces as Thor, which may be my favorite of the Marvel folks.

Question, on this day Babe Ruth hit homer No. 500 and Warren Spahn got win No. 300. Which is the cooler achievement?

On this day, 30 years ago, John Daly went from ninth alternate to major champion with a title in the 1991 PGA Championship.

Rushmore of biggest upsets in individual sports, and I think Daly's feat is in the running for second all-time. No. 1 is a no-brainer, to me.