Morning. Let's handle our business.
First this week's Rushmores.
Rushmore of college football TV announcers (and TV is an important modifier here because it eliminates Munson, Ward, Ciraldo, Fyfe and Bramblett, the Durhams and the glorious team-loving hometown radio guys we grew up loving; "My God a freshman,") — Keith Jackson is the MJ of the conversation; Lee Corso has to be here for longevity and his role in the growth of the game. Yes, he's a caricature of himself now, but the best comparison I can offer is he's college football's Dickie V and if we had this same conversation about college hoops, Dickie V's on that one, you know; Verne Lundquist and Lindsey Nelson. (But there were a slew that were left off that were great back in the day including Musberger and Dick Enberg, who was always the voice of the Orange Bowl.)
Rushmore of 'spit' — Spit the bit, spitball (which could have three spots in the pitch, the idea-generating brainstorming session and the straw-launched weapon/flirting choice for misguided middle-school boys everywhere), Spittin' mad (which also could be spitting nails depending on where you were raised) and The Outlaw Josey Wales, who simply put is the most accurate spitter in the history of saliva.
Rushmore of baseball catches: Mays over the shoulder, Edmonds' over the shoulder and diving catch, Ron Swoboda in the 1969 World Series and Griffey Jr. robbing a homer — any of them. Best catches in baseball movies — Dottie Henson with the splits, Lupus in right field against Roy Turner's Yankees in the title game, Smalls' catch to earn the trust of his buddies in "The Sandlot" (visor tip to Benny Rodriguez), and the final scene in Field of Dreams. "Dad? Wanna have a catch?" (Excuse me. Got something in my eye.)
Rushmore of first basemen — Albert Pujols, Lou Gehrig and Jimmie (not Jamie) Foxx are the top three and pretty much no-doubters for this category. The stats are staggering for these three. Gehrig finished .340/.442/.632 with 493 homers, 1,995 RBIs and 1,888 runs in 8,001 ABs. Pujols' numbers are .299/.377/.546 with 662 homers, 2,100 RBIs and 1,843 runs in 10,839 ABs. Foxx was .325/.425/.609 with 534 homers, 1,922 RBIs and 1,751 runs in 8,134 ABs. Wowser. Fourth in a coin flip of a slew of great names and careers? Give me Johnny Mize, who, despite not playing from the ages of 29 to 33 — the season from 1943 through '45 — because of WWII finished with 359 homers and a slash line of .312/.396/.562 and more than 1,110 runs, 13,330 RBIs and 2,000 hits in 6,443 ABs. As for first basemen of my lifetime, I'll go Pujols, Bagwell, Thomas and Cabrera, although Freeman and Votto are stating cases. And how Todd Helton is not in the Hall if Harold Baines and Ted Simmons are worthy is beyond me. Yes, I could write about this for hours.
We're sprinting to the finish line of the voting in the second 5-at-10 Bracket Challenge. Here's your chance to support your favorite Titans player.
You know the rules. Here's Paschall on the Vols, who must have a monster game this week if they want to get to that six-win, bowl-eligible threshold. And here's Hargis on the annual showdown that is Baylor-McCallie, the area rivalry that has Grey Poupon on the condiments counter at the concessions stand.
Like Cliff Clavin getting his workday started, let's get to the bag.
Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha. You have hated on them all year and I know you wanted the Braves to lose and Will Smith shoved it in your FACE! I love it. Take THAT, you (bleep)!
Couple of things.
First, some of the best writing advice I have ever received was, "Treat exclamation points like they are a book of matches, and that's all the exclamation points you'll ever get in your life, and once you use them, they are gone."
So, was your misguided angst about my Braves criticism really worth two of your lifetime supply? If so, thanks for reading and your passion. That's what makes sports fun.
To be clear, and I have made no bones about this, I grew up and remain a Dodgers fan. Have been since Steve Garvey was still viewed as wholesome and Tommy Lasorda was spry. So it goes.
But I watch way more of the Braves, and I cheer for the Braves.
But your belief that I "hated on" the Braves or "wanted" them to lose seems disconnected to me. Have I had criticism? Of course, that's the forum of sports in which we operate these days.
And, while the criticism can get over the top and even vitriolic (Nate, have someone look that word up for you), it makes for more enjoyable conversations and analysis than the antiseptic eras of days gone by.
Ask yourself this: Do you want to discuss the Braves with only folks like the crew of team-paid announcers like Chip and Jeff and Paul Byrd and the rest of the crew who could watch the Braves make six errors on one play and rationalize it with how hard the opponent hit the ball?
Yeah, no thanks.
The Braves' rally this year and the ability to overcome all the obstacles — they lost their best player and leadoff hitter, their No. 3 hitter, their No. 4 hitter for most of the season, and all three were Silver Sluggers in 2020, and Mike Soroka never threw a meaningful pitch, and yes, Will Smith aged all of us like a fine batch in a single barrel in Lynchburg — makes this division title even sweeter.
In fact, if I had to rank the division titles since the Braves became an A-list organization, I would go 1991 as the clear far left, followed by a dealer's choice of the year McGriff helped the club get red hot in the final two months, 2018's super surprise and this year.
Congrats. And try to ration those exclamation points, my man.
From Scott C
I meant to email you when you asked which UT coach deserved the most blame for our current state of affairs because there's an argument for all of them as well as the ADs who made those ill-fated decisions.
But my question for you is this: Which will rank higher among the all-time worst hires in SEC football history, Derek Dooley or Jeremy Pruitt?
Thanks and GBO.
Thanks for playing along my man, and your question is a fair one. And they both will be in that discussion of worst ever, certainly at a power program like UT.
I'll say Pruitt because of the cloud of NCAA impropriety left in his wake.
You can be a nice guy and a terrible coach and you'll get a little extra time because people like you. You can be an absolute jerk and a mediocre coach and eventually your personality will get you got, too.
What no one can abide or understand is being an NCAA-rule breaker and still getting your tail whipped on Saturdays. Which leads us to Pruitt.
Side note: Speaking of the slew of NCAA violations unearthed under the previous regime, here's a hunch that if the Vols go to Columbia and lose this week, a self-imposed bowl ban could very well be announced sometime in the next few days. If UT loses to Missouri, that means UT would be 2-3 with winnable games against Vandy and South Alabama at the end of the year.
If they lose to Missouri, the Vols likely will be favored over South Carolina and a slight underdog to Kentucky. The rest are whippings waiting down the road.
So a loss this weekend makes the ceiling 6-6 by most measures, which would be what, Birmingham or Memphis?
Yeah, impose the ban and start anew with loftier goals in 2022.
From Michael P
Jay, are you as excited about "Seinfeld" coming to Neflix as I am? This is going to be awesome.
It also got me thinking which old TV shows would you most want Netflix to bring back?
Thanks and love your column.
Michael P —
I will offer this caveat first: I love "Seinfeld." Love the guest characters. Love the quotes. Love the development of the primary players. After the first year-plus, it found its stride and it's among the best TV comedies ever made.
That said, I don't have a single emotion about it coming to Netflix because I've seen them all. And likely seen all of them multiple times.
I am there with the 8 million episodes of the original "Law & Order" too.
But your question about which old TV shows would I want a chance to watch again.
Hmmmmmmm, such a great question that needs some context.
Sitcoms I missed or was too young to truly get the first time around: "Mary Tyler Moore" and "All in the Family" come to mind.
Dramas from that same era: "Dallas," at least the first handful of seasons before the Bobby dream sequence, and "Hill Street Blues."
As for the rewatch factor, and we have referenced these two before, but I would love to start from scratch on "The Wonder Years" and "Cheers."
There are a couple of others that were world-class popular that I just never watched. Shows like "Lost" and "24" and "How I Met Your Mother" and even "Two and a Half Men" in its heyday.
But all of this is dwarfed by my overflowing excitement for "The Many Saints of Newark," which hit HBOMax today. God bless the 'er' months.
Questions for Friday's bag: Why are the Britney crew so worked up? Are their own identities dependent on her being? Have they been wounded by an overbearing father and feel a vicarious redemption? Do they suffer with mental health issues and sympathize with her struggles and want to support her?
Sure, there may be legal issues, there may be wrongdoing, but the world's full of worse cases than hers. Are they hurt by injustice in the world? Or just slights to their favorite girl? I don't get it.
There is simply no way to know the answer to this, but I will offer this big-picture generalization that may be oversimplifying the whole shebang.
There are a lot of these acts — be it Madonna back closer to my generation to Taylor Swift today — that provide a connection to a group of teenagers at a time when they are starving for an identity.
We joke about the perils of social media and how happy I am that it was not around when I was a teenager.
But think how many folks pre-Twitter connected to NSYNC or Britney or whatever 1990s band or group through MTV and how big a part of their lives that could have been.
I know people who were more upset when Michael Jackson — or Princess Di — died than immediate family members.
Sure, it seems illogical to me and you, but for those who are trying to find better realities — even extended and illogically connected realities of their favorite celebs — than their current ones, they become supremely invested in the lives of their favorite famous people.
Yes, that's a cross between Newhart (the original) and Frasier Crane and I could be way off in my pop psych analysis because I don't get out either.
But that's my guess.
To some hate mail.
"I would ask you to take your responsibility more seriously for you lose a lot of credibility when you write as you did in yesterday's column. But perhaps I'm not your target audience. In this time of misinformation and the propagation of that by media sources, realize you are part of the problem. Congratulations on that."
"You know people see how outright stupid and prejudiced you are right?"
"Free bus rides?! Yikes! A slippery slope towards the Soviet Republic of Chattanooga can't be far behind!"
And we'll finish with
"The best thing about the paper going to the iPad is that I won't have to see your face on A2 three times a week!"
Have a great weekend friends.