Atlanta Braves right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. (13) is shown during a baseball game against the New York Mets Monday, May 17, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Braves beatings go on

Side note before we get going: I wrote the transfer item below first this morning, and it got lengthy. So it goes. So let's move quickly because we have a lot of ground to cover. Deal? Deal.

OK, so the Braves played, the Braves lost because the Braves bats must be cold — "They need hats for bats, keep bats warm. Gracias." — and the bullpen stinks.

Yes, that was a Major League line. God bless Pedro Cerano. In fact, let's plow through four more baseball movie quotes that will detail the stagnating state of these Atlanta Braves.

"Did you hit me with your left hand or your right?" Crash Davis' important question to Nuke LaLoosh when they fight in the pool hall when Nuke gets called up should be a reminder to Hoascar Ynoa, who will miss several weeks with an injured pitching hand after punching the bench in frustration Sunday.

"That's all we got was one bleep-bleeped hit?" Harry Doyle's infinitely perfect lament about the struggling Indians early in Major League was apropos for the Braves for most of last night. Through seven the Braves had one hit — and that was from starting pitcher Max Fried, who also had to leave the game with muscle spasms in his pitching hand.

"You're not supposed to have open liquor in the car. It's against the law." Is what Engleberg told Coach Morris Buttermaker in the original Bad News Bears. It also applies to the dugout, but watching this Braves bullpen makes me think the entire coaching staff starts pouring shots when the starter gets tired and the relievers start warming up. (Side note: Buttermaker's answer was gold when told by his catcher that drinking in the car was illegal. "So is murder Engleberg. Now put that bottle back before you get me in real trouble.")

"There's no crying in baseball." The Jimmy Duggan classic in League of Their Own was never more on display last night in the awful and gruesome scene when Kevin Pillar was hit in the face with a fastball. Oh my, the blood. It was everywhere. Dude laid on the ground for a few minutes, got a towel to cover the gushing blood spigot on his face and walked off. It took longer to clean up the blood, in truth. My prayers to Pillar that his face is OK and that there is no vision or permanent damage. If that does not elicit tears, then there is truly no crying in baseball.


PGA Championship

Gotta admit, I don't normally view this one a major.

I know it is. I know they count it like one, and that's fine. It is what it is.

But it's the Aussie Open. It's leading the league but not the majors in average. Yeah those are cool and noteworthy and career achievements, but it's juts not the same as Wimbledon or saying you were the batting champ.

That said, the track this year makes it more special than normal. Kiawah Island, a Pete Dye-designed masterpiece that features 10 holes along the Atlantic — which is believed to be the most of any course in U.S. — and has an undeniable place in history with that memorable Ryder Cup there 30 years ago, is a short-lister among the best in the world. Side question: Did you know that the slope rating of 79.1 is one of the highest for any course in America? Side note on the side question: Slope rating is a USGA term to grade every course for an everyday (bogey) golfer compared to a scratch golfer. So, for everyday hackers like us, a 79.1 slope rating means that par at Kiawah is 79.1 not 72.

And yes, it's a major — even if in name only — so I'll be watching. (Side note: I'm not the best litmus test. I watched most of the Match Play earlier this spring.)

So who do I like? Glad you asked.

First, this joint is playing long. Really long. Like more than 7,800 yards long, and the wind will make it longer depending on the direction.

So with the need for length and the ability to play comfortably in the wind — think Texas or an Aussie — I'm going with Marc Leishman to win. Leishman is +8000 (bet $100, win $8000) this week. So, and we may sprinkle a few bets on the board because know this: Small golf bets are a lot of bang for your buck, considering if your guys heads into the weekend, you get the extended electricity of being in contention for several days rather than the finalists of a 28-0 first quarter in football or the lightning quick dealer turning a 4 for you and a K for him in Blackjack.

But we'll do a half-unit on Leishman this morning. (Summer betting to date: -1.0 units.)


Transfer mania

Arizona State's best player is headed to Kansas. Georgia's best player is headed to Kentucky, which has landed more incoming transfers than Hartsfield International Airport.

It's happening everywhere, and like everything in college sports, the rich appear to get richer.

But the transfer portal is also creating a cavalcade of catcalls, a bevy of boos, an overflow of 'Oh No's' because it 'violates the nature of college sports.'

Please. Just stop.

The essence of college sports is not in gyms in Lexington or Lawrence or stadiums in Clemson or College Station. Playing for the ol' college try is the exception these days in big-time college sports.

So stop it with the Hallmark cards and the made-for-TV movie nostalgia.

Stop it Dick Vitale.

Stop it millionaire celebrity coaches who are irate that they have adjusted their my-way-or-the-highway, only-way-kid-gets-to-the-League-is-through-me status quo.

Stop it pearl-clutching college basketball fans who bemoan the shark-infested waters that has become the NCAA transfer portal (aka college basketball free agency/aka college basketball equality for labor to management). Those waters have been choppy and shark-infested for decades, we just chose not to notice until it negatively affects our favorite team. (Have you noticed the teams that get the transfers, well, their fans are not that upset about it? And if you want to talk about fairness in college sports, well, give me one area of major to even mid-major college sports that is regulated with the idea or goal of fairness?)

I can't speak about the perspective of Vitale because, while we're both technically in the same field, we're far from the same level. And of course I can't speak for the millionaire coaches out there, who have the rights to look for better opportunity around the corner, have guaranteed contracts (something that most NCAA scholarships are not since they are year-to-year deals, and if you do not fit into the plans of next season, well, they can be year-to-tear pacts), and provide grand lifestyles for their families.

I can, however speak for the pearl-clutchers who long for the 'good ol days of four-year players and traditional powers facing on Big Monday and the conference tournament mattering and no one caring about improper benefits. (Well that part has changed).

Here's the deal friends, the toothpaste is out of the tube. It's like longing for the extra-wide newspaper with the 28-page Sunday sports section. (This I know a little bit about.)

It's gone and it's never coming back. And the angst you feel should not be at the players, it should be at the NCAA leaders who have Chicken Little-ed every problem coming down the pike and got into the fetal position and hoped the problem would somehow, some way go away.

It hasn't and without any type of structure or regulation, it's become worse. The conferences are regulating themselves — which sooner rather than later will cause the conferences to ask why do they need the NCAA at all — and the unforeseen issues that do not affect those conferences are going uncovered and ignored.

That's line item 14,509 on the list of things Mark Emmert has done or not done to forever damage college sports.

I'm not sure who coined this phrase many decades ago, but I'm not sure it's ever been more applicable than to describe the Dickie Vs and the folks up in arms about the transfers moving across college sports.

Don't hate the players; hate the game.

(And love Dickie V or loathe him, and there are a lot of us who do both because his announcing is God awful but he's a sweetheart of a man, his boot-licking to scumbag coaches likes Bobby Knight and Rick Pitino give him zero credibility in terms of the 'purity' of the game and the essence of college basketball in my mind.)  

This and that

— Here's today's A2 in which I catch up with longtime former US Congressman Zach Wamp and discuss the growing divide in the Republican Party and the perils of picking person over party. (Yeah, I'm willing to bet you can guess that person.)

— You know the rules, and here's Paschall on a UT football commitment that is best described as a project. But you know what? These kinds of risks make sense for Josh Heupel and his new staff. Are they going to get five-stars at every position like Lord Saban and Kid Kirby? Of course not. But find a 6-foot-8, 250-plus-pound basketball player who is athletic and can move — whether it's laterally to protect the passer or vertically to catch throws from the passer — and you can get better in a hurry. Plus, yes, Alabama has it rolling at an elite level right now, but want to know why it's at that kind of apex where five-stars come and wait — even transfers like Henry 2o, 2o — to play for the Dark Lord? Because he develops them. And if Heupel and Co. can prove they can develop good high school players into good prospects they will get in the conversation sooner rather than later to get great high school players who want to be first-round prospects.

— Cool next chapter to Juantarius Bryant's story. After being pranked to show up in Atlanta for a try-out with the Falcons that was a hoax, Bryant has received an invite to an NFL-sponsored rookie free agent camp next week. I like that.  

— Hey, Bob Baffert's in the news. It's not overly flattering. Side note: When you become the poster child for shadiness in horse racing — or college basketball recruiting — I don't care how white your hair, how dapper your kerchief or how pricey your shades, you're a scumbag.

— Who knew? It makes sense, though, that one of the hardest hit industries by the pandemic has been strip clubs. Spy can you confirm? This story is from San Francisco but it does not paint a pretty picture of what already is far from a Norman Rockwell existence.

— Speaking of the pandemic, in the latest reversal of fortune in one of the most common refrains of the over-politicized argument about fighting COVID would be laughable if it was not so hypocritically dense. The CDC in the last few days has said masks should not be mandatory for vaccinated people. I listened to a slew of folks clamoring that the CDC is wrong. Which completes the circle from the group that demand  we listened to the experts who are now ignoring the experts because the experts' opinion does jive with theirs. Perfect. And this comes from someone who was trying to high-five my keyboard — that does not work friends and leaves something like this "kt3hrvhty" on the screen — after Vader's common-sense filled view of our state. I had my second shot more than three weeks ago. I wear a mask if the business requires it because I believe in the rights to grant or refuse service for almost every reason ranging from a lack of shoes to religious convictions. If not required, I am comfortable going without a mask, but I would no more chastise someone wearing a mask than I would someone for wearing nicotine patch or a yarmulke.

— Wow, the movie "What About Bob" turned 30 on Monday. Friend or foe? And if you read that story, and then remember the other feuds Murray has had through the years, you have to kind of wonder if Murray is as good a dude as we want to believe him to be, no?  


Today's questions

Well, let's get right to it.

As for today, well, it's not today, but did you know that Top Gun turned 35 on Sunday. Yes, 35. Top Gun would have kids likely in little league right now. Side note: Look at the primary stars in that movie and how they have aged, and when you look at Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer, Meg Ryan and Anthony Edwards, well, there is no better commercial for the effects on Scientology than that team photo friends. Oh my. Cruise looks younger than Top Gun. The rest look headed to Alexian.

That cast, wow, and it leads us into a True or False onslaught.

True or false, it's Tuesday. (Morning, big Ern.)

True or false, there was a time when Meg Ryan was a bigger star than Cruise.

True or false, Anthony Edwards has a better Rushmore than Val Kilmer. (And this Ray Ban commercial/Navy aviator recruiting film is on both, no?)

True or false, you would not want to play cards for money with Bob Baffert.

True or false, Bill Murray is good guy.

True or false you could break 120 from the tees the pros will play this week at Kiawah. (and if your handicap is not single digits, the answer is unequivocal.)

As for today, let's review.

On May 18, 1999, the third Backstreet Boys album dropped. Intern Scott, is that your fav?

Reggie Jackson is 74 today. God bless you Mr. October, who could make a run at several Rushmores.

Also, Tina Fey is 50 today. She has to be on the Rushmore of SNL female cast members, right? Who else makes it.