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Atlanta Braves' Austin Riley at bat against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, July 30, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Braves home run

Yes, Atlanta was off on Monday. Still doesn't mean the hits don't keep on coming for All-Star third baseman Austin Riley and a Braves team that has been the best in baseball since June 1.

Before we get to the details that some of our regulars saw in the tea leaves Monday in this space, we have to continually tip the visor to Braves GM and grand wizard Alex Anthopoulos. Holy buckets, does that guy know when to pull the trigger on deals with young dudes so they feel happy and the franchise gets a supremely team-friendly deal.

Monday, AA inked Riley to a 10-year, $212-million deal that is the richest in team history.

Yes, it's a ton of money. Generational money. Mickelson-selling-his-legacy-to-the-Saudis money.

But, in terms of money (a lot) and value (even more), these things are relative, especially when Juan Soto is demanding a trade because the Nationals won't pay him $500 million over the next 10 years.

So in terms of value, with what AA has positioned, would you rather have Juan Soto in right field contending for a triple crown at half a billion for the next 10 years, or would you prefer the Braves nucleus of Ronald Acuna ($100 million over the next eight years), Ozzie Albies ($35 million over the next seven), Riley ($212 million for the next 10) and Matt Olson ($168 for the next eight).Soto = $500 million for a decade; those four = $473 million over the next eight.

In that view, wow.

Yes, we were all hurt that Freddie and AA could not come to terms. Yes, Matt Olson is fine, but he's certainly no Freddie.

That said, AA earns every benefit of the doubt. And to further expand on the Braves acquisition of and locking down young talent. The four dudes above, who could comprise as good a 1-thru-4 as any team not located in L.A. or NYC, are part of this list of Braves building blocks that are signed through the 2027 season: Acuna, Albies, Olson, Riley, Michael Harris, William Contreras, Kyle Wright, Spencer Strider and Ian Anderson.    

It's a monster day for Austin Riley for sure. And it's deserved considering he's on the short list of NL MVP candidates for the second straight season.It's a great day for the Braves as well.

But the star of this hour is AA himself.

Move over Arn Anderson, the real AA is doing work.

Wheelin' and dealin'

The Riley signing was not the only move made Monday as the hours start dwindling before today's 6 p.m. trading deadline.

The Braves added Robbie Grossman, an outfielder hitting .205 who presumably will fill the 1-for-5-with-2-Ks spot left vacant by Adam Duvall's injury.

The Braves reportedly have sent reliever Will Smith to Houston for a starting pitcher. If AA had gotten three boxes of sunflower seeds, a dozen BP balls and a used fungo for Ron Washington to hit infield with in exchange for the ever-struggling Smith, it would have made the Braves better. Smith's departure just lowered the heart-attack rate across the deep South by 8% over the next two-plus months.

It was part of a busy day for the Astros, who also acquired Baltimore slugger Trey Mancini for prospects and added catcher Christian Vázquez from Boston.

As the Braves are stockpiling young stars at affordable prices, you have to feel for the Orioles fans right? Baltimore is in a playoff chase for the first time since W was in office, and they deal their longest tenured player who was hitting .268 with 10 homers for prospects.

To be expected the Yankees added a couple of quality arms, raiding the small-budget A's for starting pitcher Frankie Months — who is the best pitcher you've never heard of and finished sixth in the Cy Young voting last year and has a 3.18 ERA this summer — and a reliever.

The Padres also got better, reportedly adding the best closer in baseball in Josh Haver, who the Brewers sent to San Diego for some top-flight prospects.Man, being a small-market outfit in this MLB is tough sledding.

Tiger's stripes

So, Greg Norman was on Tucker Carlson on Monday and in a taped interview, the Shark said Tiger Woods turned down between $700-800 million to join the LIV golf experience.

At first, I thought, wow, Tiger loves the PGA.

Then I thought, "Holy buckets, all those injuries and pill addictions have caused Tiger to lose it. Who turns down $800 million for anything?"

Then I thought, "Wow, how drastically different would this whole thing be if Tiger had been the Pied Piper rather than Phil Mickelson?"

Because, Tiger is one of the biggest needle movers in sports, regardless of said sport.

(Side question: Is he the biggest needle mover in sports? And before you answer, view it this way: Is there any other athlete in any other sport that if they are prominently involved it would make you, as a casual fan, watch? I can't answer that on Tiger because I enjoy watching golf, so I'm already watching whether Tiger plays or not. But there is no one in baseball or in the NFL — I appreciate Aaron Rodgers' greatness, but it's not that close to be honest — or the NBA or soccer or racing or fighting that I can think of that moves the needle currently like El Tigre. Can you?)

So if Tiger had gone, the questions are limitless. Would some of the young guns who idolize him have followed? Would it be viewed with more credence and less scorn, especially from the media throng, which needs Tiger way more than any other golfer, and they and Tiger know it?

In that regard, should the Saudis have kept bidding? I say yes, but who knows.

And conversely, would Tiger — or even Phil for that matter if he had not offered the 'scary mothers' quote in February — be viewed more favorably by the public.

Because big picture, how much does this hurt Phil's legacy? I'm genuinely asking, because is he still not a top-10 golfer all-time?

If Tiger had gone and become sports' first $2 billion athlete, would he not still be a top-2 player all-time by every measure?

I guess in the end, I am stunned anyone would turn down $800 million, and conversely, just as stunned the Saudis did not ask Tiger to name a price and meet it.

This and that

— Yay, America. And kudos to the leadership — when you sit in the Office that is round but not perfectly circular, you get the raves of the good and the smears of the bad, rightly or wrongly — and Biden's crew for bagging al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri with a reported drone strike. By most reports, al-Zawahri was the ring leader of the 9/11 attacks. Tell Beelzebub we said hello and enjoy a lifetime supply of three-day-old cole slaw served by barefooted clowns.   

— Here's today's A2 column on a couple at Alexian who just celebrated a pretty monumental anniversary. Bill and Gloria have been hitched for 75 years as of last week

— So all this back and forth between the Lookouts and the frontrunner for county mayor, and the he said-he said makes for fun headlines. And for head-scratching and head-shaking groans. Anyone else waiting for this to get to the point that Weston and Freier are going to meet in the cafeteria after study hall and drop the gloves? 

— Speaking of LIV golf, new European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald is not directly opposed to having LIV players on the European roster in 2023 when the Cup will be contested in Rome. Here's more.

— So the idea was floated Monday in the comments. How many folks are interested in a 5-at-10 Fantasy league? We can keep the comments free and you can email me at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com if you are intrigued. Don't want to get the moderators all worked up at us, you know?

— You know the rules. Here's Paschall on the Vols start to preseason practice. Buckets it's August people. Where did the summer go?

— So some Black fellow with a hairdo that's a cross between Don King and Fletch playing for the Lakers offered some fairly insulting analysis on that bastion of fairness known as MSNBC of Herschel Walker, calling him a "GOP-owned Negro." Wow. Here's the thing. There are more than a few points to raise about Walker's candidacy for Congress, but if that's the best you can offer, well, that's even bad for MSNBC, which has set its bar lower than a salamander's stomach.

Today's questions

So, it's Tuesday, true or false. Happy August, Ernie. Where did the summer go?

True or false, AA is the best GM in the history of Atlanta sports (and yes, that includes John Schuerholz).

True or false, the Braves will sign Dansby Swanson next.

True or false, the Braves should sign Dansby Swanson to a long-term deal.

True or false, the Braves make a big deal today.True or false, Tiger is the biggest needle mover in sports.

As for today, August 2, let's review.On this day in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was formally signed.

On this day 49 years ago, "American Graffiti" premiered. Considering all the players involved, who had the better career, Harrison Ford, Ron Howard or George Lucas?

Tim Wakefield is 56 today. Yes, it's a slow birthday day. Wakefield was a minor league outfielder who was about to be cut until the coaches saw him messing around in warm-ups with a knuckleball. The rest is history and a 19-year MLB career that produced 200 wins. (Yes, I was shocked by that number too.)

Rushmore of specialty pitches and pitchers. (And no fastball and curveball are not 'specialty pitches' people.)

Go.

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