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Atlanta Braves designated hitter Orlando Arcia is mobbed by teammates after hitting a two-run home run for a walk-off 5-3 win against the Boston Red Sox in the ninth inning of a baseball game on Wednesday, May 11, 2022, in Atlanta. (Jason Getz/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Cheap champs

Hey, the Braves played last night and the Braves won last night. Hooray. They are 15-17 and, you know what, never mind that. It's May 12, and clutching MLB pearls before the 'er' months is a futile exercise unless you are truly one of the dregs in the sport and have no chance.

But beyond the most interesting note in Braves county for me had nothing to do with the final score of Braves 5, Boston 3.

It was this tasty little tidbit that the Braves beat Austin Riley in arbitration, meaning that the worst judge since Reinhold decided to side with the Braves and award Atlanta's star third baseman $3.95 million rather than the $4.25 million he requested.

For starters, both are tidy sums that are multiple digits more than I make. So there's that.

But for a team that just won it all, has had record-setting quarters multiple times in the last 18 months, and has arguably the most enviable ballpark set-up in terms of field, facility and financing in the game, for Pete Van Wieren's Sake, are the Braves truly that cheap?

Yes, the process is what the process is and all that, but dang the appearance of this is not good, Riley was quite possibly the most consistent and valuable piece of the regular-season run to the playoffs last year that ultimately led to Atlanta's second World Series victory.

He led the league in games played, finished seventh in the MVP voting, slashed .303/.367/.531 with 33 homers and 107 RBIs. Hello, that's not worth $4.25 million?  And if not, what would a player need to produce to get his asking price in the arbitration process if Riley's 2021 was not up to snuff? (And while the devil's in the details of the entire CBA in regard to arbitration, you have to wonder what goodwill the extra $300K could have bought when Riley's looking for that nine-figure deal in a few years?)

Other Braves players who are in the arbitration process — which normally happens in February but were delayed this year because of the lockout — are Adam Duvall, Max Fried and Dansby Swanson.

And now consider this: All the above-mentioned hitters are scuffling by comparison. Riley is at .237 with 34 Ks in 114 ABs. Duvall is at .187 with 38 Ks in 107 ABs, and Swanson is hitting .233 with a league-high 41 Ks in 103 ABs.

Can't help but wonder if maybe their minds are on the money after the club's other financial offseason decisions, huh?  

Say what

So Deion Sanders sounded off about name, image and likeness on social media, and tagging the NCAA in his diatribe post.

Among the things he said, according to this story, was this eye-popping quote: "When you start paying athletes like they're professionals, you get athletes acting like they're professionals. And you don't have staffs large enough and equipped enough to handle a young man with money. Let me go deeper. Handle a young man that's making more money than some of the coaches on staff."

I almost did not include this today, because we've kind of discussed NIL stuff a bunch of late. But two things jumped out at me about this story.

First, when Deion Sanders is bemoaning a scenario that in any way allows players to act the fool, well, he knows of what he speaks.

And maybe more incredible to me was when I tried to click on Coach Prime's Twitter account, I was somewhat surprised to learn I had been blocked. Which means that at some point along the way I irritated Sanders enough for him to block me, which is right up there with Humpty from Digital Underground following as a career Twitter highlight.

And how's this for being an equal-opportunity offender, to my knowledge the only two folks that have blocked me on social media are David Carroll and Deion Sanders.

Prime Time indeed.

Shark bites

Uh, this may be a good time for the faces of the new Saudi golf league to, you know, embrace a "No comment" every now and then.

After Phil Mickelson delivered a gutshot to the profile of the league by calling the Saudi leadership some "scary mother ----." CEO Greg Norman's attempt to smooth over some of the atrocities committed by his financial backers in the LIV golf tour were head-scratchingly awful.

How's this headline from The Telegraph of England: "Greg Norman on Saudi-approved murder of Jamal Khashoggi: 'We've all made mistakes.'"

Uh, why don't you stop talking for a while, Champ? Maybe sit the next few plays out, huh? (Side question: The casting of the Channel 4 News Team in "Anchorman" is pretty spot-on perfect, no?)

So here's Norman's quote: "Everybody has owned up to it, right? It has been spoken about, from what I've read, going on what you guys reported. Take ownership, no matter what it is. Look, we've all made mistakes and you just want to learn from those mistakes and how you can correct them going forward."

Uh, Greg, this is a murder, not a mismanaged checking account, a missed anniversary or even a misdemeanor.

Again, for the people in the back: They killed a dude. Man, makes you wonder what the penalty will be for signing the wrong scorecard on that tour.

Or as Judge Smails says, "Don't count that, I was interfered with."

This latest example will surely show if there's no such thing as bad publicity, right Greg?
 
Look, do I think the leadership of the PGA Tour is acting like a bunch of spoiled brats and feel like they are following the Mark Emmert playbook of decision-making? Yes, yes I do.

Do I think someone like Phil Mickelson, who has made more than $94 million in golf earnings on the PGA Tour and at least five times that amount in endorsements complaining about his work conditions comes off as disingenuous and as tone-deaf as a concrete block? Yes, yes I do.

And yes, hopping in bed with murderers to get more access to your media rights and other work-related negotiations, well, that's their decision, I suppose.

This and that

— Yes, the Saudis are clearly scary folks to everyone but The Shark, apparently. But if you think the Saudis are the only government that looks to whitewash its sins and human rights atrocities with sports, well, welcome to planet Earth. Check out where the Olympics just were, where the  World Cup will be, where the NBA will play an exhibition game, where, well, you get the idea.

— Holy Schnikes, this Texas dude caught a 300-pound fish. Yes, three bills. And then he let that big daddy go. Wowser.

— Here's today's sports column from some round-faced fellow on longtime area high school coach and administrator Bumper Reese calling a career after 30 years in Hamilton County public schools. Kudos, Bumper on a great career and all the lives you've impacted.

— Thought this was pretty cool. The Cosmopolitan, a Vegas resort, held its employee appreciation and awards ceremony Wednesday and handed each of its 5,400 employees a check for $5,000. Even my Auburn math tells me that's a serious chunk of change.

— Apparently, there was a crazy ending to Survivor. I know I am certainly shocked to learn that Survivor is actually still on TV.

— So, the lowering water levels of Lake Mead in Vegas are allowing some long-ago dumped bodies to surface. Man, now global warming's coming after the mob. Hey, is that Fredo?

Today's questions

OK, anything you guys and gals want to share in tomorrow's mailbag, shoot it my way at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com.

As for today, well, "Pulp Fiction" was released on this day 28 years ago. Among its many fine qualities, "Pulp Fiction" may have the finest soundtrack of any movie not named "Purple Rain" in my lifetime.

Two of the finest American quote-generators have birthdays today, as Yogi Berra would have been 97 today and Homer Jay Simpson is 66 today. Doughnuts for everyone.

Is there a Rushmore of TV characters and a signature food? Discuss.

Go and enjoy the day, and remember the mailbag.

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