Let's handle our BID-ness first.
You know the rules. Here's Paschall on UT football being in the 2025 Chick-Fil-A kickoff game against Syracuse. True or false on a Friday, Josh Huepel will be the coach for that one.
And it's not part of the rules, but Sweet Buckets of Bologna and Bratwurst, Mark Emmert is some kind of piece of work. After all of this — all of it and he just watched as the castle crumbled — now comes the time that Emmert believes it's time to 'rethink' college sports. I know of potted plants that are more aware of their surroundings. Egad.
Here's today's A2 column on our city and county facing the very real challenge of hiring its most important non-elected employee in the days and weeks ahead. And a call for transparency in these matters.
As for the Rushmores, well, here you go:
Rushmore of most forgettable presidents: Taylor, Fillmore, Garfield or W.H. Harrison.
Rushmore of athletes loved in three or more states (and this one was a little more difficult than I guessed): Manning, Reggie White (Tennessee, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania), Larry Bird (Indiana and a slew of the New England states), Kareem (New York, California and Wisconsin).
Rushmore of actors' catalogs for the deserted island (but you have to watch them all): Duvall, Ford, Cruise, Hanks.
Rushmore of worst game shows: "Press Your Luck" is far left. I hated "Name That Tune." After about two watches, "To Tell the Truth" is rather flat, "Bowling for Dollars." (And I tried to do actual game shows that a run of multiple years and not the one-and-doners like that awful Chair show McEnroe did.)
From a slew of you in varying forms
Should the Braves be buyers or sellers?
My answer was written before I got up this morning and saw that the Braves had acquired Joc Pederson from the Cubs for a bag of chips and a fungo.
(Seriously, I know the Cubs have spiraled into the Mortimer Duke, "Sell, Sell, Sell" category, but a MLB left-handed power bat who can play multiple outfield positions for some 23-year-old dude named Bryce Bell who was hitting .207 at Single-A Rome? Yes please. And if they decide to sell, here's betting they can spin Pederson into more than a Single-A first baseman who strikes out in 25% of his ABs.)
Plus, Pederson is comfortable in the lead-off spot too, which the Braves will clearly need after Ronald Acuña Jr. tore his ACL and made me cry.
But this addition is a) not enough on its face — unless Pederson goes full-blown Fred McGriff-level torrid for the next 10 weeks — to get the Braves to the top of the division and b) not a sure-fire sign of the Braves true intentions.
We have two weeks until the trading deadline, and while the Braves have underachieved mightily, there is a clear half-full/half-empty scenario with the defending NL East champs.
Half-empty: The Braves have been at .500 for exactly one day through 89 games; Half-full: They are only four games behind the East-leading Mets.
The half-full detail contains the most pertinent answer to the buyers/sellers question. Atlanta plays the Mets four times right before the deadline after a tough stretch that starts with the Rays and Padres coming out of the break. If the Braves get to the Mets series in contention I think they add.
There's one more practical detail here. That super nice new ballpark still has to be paid for and after last year's loss of revenue because of COVID-19, I'm sure the money-minded Braves leadership are also well-aware that a firesale down the stretch could also hurt their wallets.
And that leads us to —
Jay, I think the Braves are the biggest disappointment in MLB. Why are they this bad?
I love the 5@10 so I wanted to ask you what would you do to fix the Braves and what in your opinion are the biggest surprises — good and bad — in baseball.
Thanks for the 5-at-10 and are you ever going to get back on the radio?
Thanks for the kind words and for playing along. I don't know is the honest answer about getting back on the radio. I miss the interaction and the fun, but I do not miss the daily commitment. Getting kind of spoiled spending this much time with my kids.
Yeah, even Chief Noc-A-Homa would admit to being disappointed with these Braves. It's been a struggle.
Another half-full/half-empty scenario: The Braves are still in contention despite not clicking across the club all year; The Braves also are under .500 and the guy that has carried them so far will be in street clothes until spring training at least.
The reasons for the disappointment are pretty clear, and we can go in sequential order:
— Alex Anthopoulos thought Drew Smyly was part of the solution, and that's only the case if the problem is your team ERA is too low;
— Leadership thought fewer quality arms in the bullpen would be a way to go and underestimated the importance of Mark Melancon and everyone in the bullpen knowing and upholding their roles;
— The young, super prospect outfielders like Pache and Waters swing and miss more than Pedro Cerano at a curveball convention;
— Marcel Ozuna melted down after getting paid.
All of those hurt. But none are the two biggest questions for this club.
What do you do with Brian Snitker and Dansby Swanson?
Snitker seems like a super nice dude, but from the outside, he looks overmatched. And worse, his connection with the Braves' best player is at best strained. Big couple of months for a guy who less than a year ago was on the shortlist of manager of the year. Fair? Probably not, but it's the world in which we live.
As for Swanson, dude went to arbitration and got a one-year, $6 million contract, betting in part on himself and looking for one of those four-year, $70-plus million deals down the road.
Not likely. Swanson went sizzling into the All-Star break — he was 9-for-17 with three doubles and two homers in the final four games of the first half — to raise his average from .228 to .243.
Still he's on pace to strike out almost 190 times this season, and in the last month — since June 15, that is — Swansby has started all 26 games and struck out at least once in 22 of them.
Are they in the market for a shortstop? Only if they become sellers because of what it likely would do to the chemistry and flow of this bunch. (Although the chemistry that really helped them last year has been almost non-existent so far this year.)
As for disappointments, the Braves qualify but they are not atop that list.
That list starts with the Yankees, who are spiraling and it likely will cost Brian Cashman his job. The Cubs qualify too.
I know Mike Trout has been hurt, but you get this kind of first half from Shohei Ohtani and they spent a ton in the offseason, and the Angels still are a relative non-factor in the AL West. The Phillies are too talented to be this mediocre as well.
As for good surprises, that starts with the Giants and Buster Posey returning to the limelight. Will they win the West? Likely no, but still a fun story.
The Red Sox are better sooner than anyone this side of Spy believed possible.
And if the Marlins would actually hold on to the young talent it's grooming, they would be a handful for the foreseeable future. (not holding my breath though.)
From Mike R
If you could have one baseball gift — just one — which one would you choose?
Such a great question, and the options are varied.
I would love to have Griffey Jr.'s swing. It was poetry.
I would love to have Robbie Alomar's hands. Dude was the best with a glove I've ever seen.
I would love to have Jacob deGrom's fastball. It's better than Ryan's or Johnson's.
I would love to have Greg Maddux's control of the ball or Tony Gwynn's control of the bat.
But here's the thing about all of those. Just that one thing, as great as that was, does not get me in the majors or keep me there for very long. (Throwing deGrom's heater would get you a slew of opportunities, but if you can't throw strikes or mix pitches, then it's not going to last.)
So if I could only have one, I'll take Mariano Rivera's cutter. Because there has never been a greater one-trick pony in the history of the world.
Everyone on the planet knew what was coming and he still rode that single pitch to Cooperstown. Unanimously.
Enjoy the weekend friends. And good luck on The Entries in The Open.