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Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker celebrates with fans after winning baseball's World Series in Game 6 against the Houston Astros Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021, in Houston. The Braves won 7-0. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Ball is tipped

I watched a fair amount of college hoops last night.

Yes, we had youth hoops practice. (Side note: We run sprints — almost wrote suicides there, but we'll call them sprints from now on — for every missed free throw. Our team missed five, so that's five to half court and back to the end line and back while dribbling. After three, I gave them a double or nothing chance on me making one from half court. Nothing but net, and four more sprints.)

So we missed the first half of the Kansas win. We did get to hear Bert Bertelkamp bemoan the referees on the UT radio network on the drive home. I love that guy.

Anywell, I'm going to enjoy college basketball this season for a few reasons.

First, the nightly gambling tangent is real and it's spectacular. Anyone else get the Mocs at plus-260 (bet $100 win $260) on the money line last night? Early hunch: Ride the Mocs until the folks in Vegas catch up. More on that in a moment. Also, one of the sites had a Kansas and Duke straight up parlay for plus-230. Yes, and yes.

Second, the game with fans back in the stands was such a joy last night.

Third, every team that I'm even remotely concerned with is going to be fun this year.

Auburn? Check. UT? Check. UTC? Check. Even UK? Check. (Side note: For more than a year at Auburn, I lived with a guy named Griggs Powell, who grew up in Lexington. Biggest UK fan I've ever met, and it's not really close. Heck, his over-the-top love for the Wildcats made me keenly interested in the Wildcats — especially back then because Pitino was just rebuilding a broken program and Auburn was terrible. Add in how much our buddy Weeds loves the Wildcats — he's a contender for the No. 2 spot behind Griggs — and there's a fascination with UK for sure. Now, I would never count myself as a UK fan. That's too easy. And you can't sling a deadbeat across the South and not find a "I root for Alabama football and UK basketball" fan. So there's that.)

And while we're here, the Blue Bloods that are Duke, UK and Kansas are going to be fine. That kid UK got from Davidson can really shoot it, and Duke's freshman Paulo Banchero can really play.

Anywell, now expand those college hoops ripples, be them locally — there's plenty of room on the Mocs wagon, friends — or nationally with the storylines. Seriously, this UTC crew is ready to roll.

Call it the Lamont Limo. The Paris Porsche. The Mocs Mobile or the Blue Bandwagon, I don't care. Just get ready to be impressed — and to cash some tickets.

And know that I'll be watching a lot more college basketball this year.

You can bet on that.

 

Baseball not completely done

Yes, the postseason awards are starting to trickle in.

Side question: Postseason awards being voted on before the playoffs begin, friend or foe? For me, 96 times out of 100, that's a friend. So this is not a call for a change. But there are two instances that occasionally pop up that make the postseason awards feel hollow by turning in the ballots before the first playoff pitch is hurled.

First, is manager of the year. And in truth, the manager and coach of the year awards have all too frequently turned into a "Who did more with less" tribute, which actually is a media CYA because it's actually, "Who did more with what the media perceived to be less in the preseason?" So the NL manager of the year will almost assuredly be Gabe Kapler, who led the Giants to the most wins in baseball despite being picked no better than third by almost everyone in the NL West.

He had a great year, sure. Was it better than Brian Snitker's year, though? And the timing on this matters because the Giants were bounced quickly, and the Braves — not sure if you heard — won it all. And they won it all because in a lot of ways the groundwork and trust Snitker put in and earned before the 'er' months. That's managing over the long haul and that should deserve points too, but it can't if the ballots are due Oct. 1.

Second, that Alex Anthopoulos was not even a finalist for executive of the year — front office types for the Rays, Brewers and the aforementioned Giants filled the final three spots — calls for examination of the process.

Again, this is a spin job of which GM did the most with the least, be those expectations or payroll.

But AA delivered the pieces that lifted the Braves to a title, and made the moves to energize a listless clubhouse for a stretch drive for the ages.

OK, rant over.

 

Yes more baseball in November

It's still the 'er' months after all.

As for the other current baseball storyline that has grabbed my interest, I find this to be an extremely intriguing 5-at-10 Bracket Challenge.

Who, do you think, is the fans' favorite among a litany of favored sons of the South who suited up for the Atlanta Braves? Nominations go here, and we'll vote on it next week.

We had a strong support of Hank Aaron in yesterday's comments. (Best? Assuredly. Favorite? Not sure because the team was not as popular during Aaron's time as it has been over the last three decades.)

I offered Chipper as the 1 seed, and someone countered with the Hall of Fame pitching trio of Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz. Where will Freddie finish?

Personally, I have too many to name, even though the Braves are not my favorite team. You see, I bet we went to 15-plus games a year growing up. Yes, tickets were available everywhere and we'd sneak in gas station hot dogs to save money, but Pop and I went a lot.

(Side note: My father was tighter than the bolts on the Hoover Dam growing up. In fact, my mom made him quit saying she was sending us to the poor house when I asked "Do the folks at the poor house send a van for you or can we take our own car?" Then Pop got grandkids and turned into a softie and was handing out $20s like they were Hershey minis on Halloween.)

Anywell, my first favorite Braves player was Roland Office. His name was clearly cool and on the metric board in centerfield, with its Atari 2600 graphics, when a fly ball was hit to center, there was a cartoon image of a guy behind a desk sticking his glove out and the ball falling harmless into his mitt as the words "Roland's Office" flashed across the screen.

Of course, that morphed into Murph during the 1980s. Know this: Playing youth baseball during that time in the Atlanta suburbs, your dad better be the coach of your team if you wanted to get No. 3 friends. Of course, my dad did coach the team, and he still made me pick last. (Side note: Of course, as a 'big-boned' youngster, I almost always was forced into the largest number available because it was the largest size. Zip it Vader.)

The Braves were lovable in that time, even for those of us who rooted for another team. In the 1990s the excitement was unlike the city had ever seen. So if you want to go Terry Pendleton, who helped change the culture of any of the four Hall of Famers mentioned above that became Atlanta staples like Coke and heartburn after Varsity chili dogs, I'm good with that too.

There are a bunch that make a lot of sense.

My nomination: Ronald Acuña Jr. (Yeah really.)

 

This and that

— Here's Paschall on the Vols-Bulldogs tussle set for Saturday. It includes the proper perspective on a UT player saying they are going to beat top-ranked Georgia. OK, Joe Namath made a guarantee, and it was glorious, and in some ways was the moment that put the NFL on the trajectory to becoming the global juggernaut that it is. And every scribe since and every remotely close 'guarantee' has become message board fodder even before there were message boards. As teams — and especially college coaches — always are hunting for the "Us-against-the-world" or "They're disrespecting us" cards to galvanize a locker room, the reverse question deserves exploring. As in, would you rather said UT player offer, "Well, we really hope we don't get blown out. They're awesome." It makes me think of when Joe Flacco said he believed he was the best QB in the NFL. Was he? Of course not. Would you expect that almost every QB in the NFL should believe that? I would hope so.

— Aaron Rodgers got fined. Kind of. Dude is worth close to $150 million and makes better than $27 million this season in salary alone. So the NFL handing him a $15,000 fine for his COVID-19 lies and protocol failures is 1/1800th of his annual salary, which means if you make $54,000 a year, this would be a $3 fine. So Rodgers got fined a cup of coffee figuratively. (And literally if you go to Starbucks. Ever notice there are no junkers in the Starbucks line? Or as Crash would surmise, "You never handle your own bags in the show. You hit white balls for batting practice. All the hotels have room service. And all the women have long legs and brains.")

— OK, the college football playoff rankings were released. Georgia was and deserves to be a unanimous 1. Alabama is 2. Oregon is 3 with THE Ohio State 4. Unbeaten Cincinnati is 5 followed by Michigan, who lost 10 days ago to Michigan State, which is 7. In some ways, I think the committee juggled the order of the two Michigan rivals so folks would have something to bellyache about. Hey controversy equals conversation, and all sports love that. Me? Shrug. Call me around Thanksgiving.

— So tell us how you really feel, Tom. Bucs QB Tom Brady blasted the addition of the 17th regular-season game Tuesday. OK.

— So Paul Rudd is People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive. OK. Like that dude. He strikes me as genuine and genuinely funny. So great. Side question: In this era, could People magazine have a 'Sexiest Woman Alive" or not? Asking for a few million of us with a Y chromosome.

— Ernie Johnson returned to his point guard chair for the Tuesday night version of the NBA on TNT. He got emotional talking about the support he and his family received after his 33-year son died last week. It was a real and special moment. I'm glad I watched it. Also of note: There simply is no studio show with the chemistry, insight and humor that comes remotely close to what Ernie, Chuck, Shaq and Kenny provide.

— So Wallethub.com ranked the best sports cities in 2021. Chattanooga ranks 212 out of the 392 cities graded and 50h among mid-sized cities.

— So Arby's has French Fry vodka. Not sure who came up with that one. While we're here on strange combos, did you see that there is a Reese's peanut butter cup with potato chips stuffed in there? Seriously.

 

Today's questions

Which way Wednesday starts this way, in the name of my early memories of Roland Office: Which is your favorite Braves player and why?

Which Braves star should be more angry for the award snub, Alex Anthopoulos or Brian Snitker?

Which NFL should sign Odell Beckham Jr.? (And 'none' is an intriguing answer as well.)

Which is Paul Rudd's best movie, because I loved him as Brian Fontana in "Anchorman" with that cast of characters?

Which other celebrities simply do not age like Paul Rudd, who is 52 and looks the exact same as he did in "Clueless," which was released in 1995.

As for today, Nov. 10, let's review.

"Sesame Street" premiered on this day in 1969.

"Home Alone" premiered on this day in 1990.

Linda Cohn was born on this day in 1959. Rushmore of ESPN female broadcasters. Go, and remember the Bracket Challenge and the mailbag.

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