Friday, July 30, 2010

Student Athletes: We'll Huff & Puff...

Consider this: The NCAA is the governing body of intercollegiate athletics. They are in control, and it seems that they enjoy being in control. They have a ridiculous, somewhat outdated, rulebook that makes the old Sears-Roebuck catalog look like its been on Weight Watchers. Nevertheless, everyone has to play by their zillion rules. Since this is the case, why not add another page or two to the big book by letting the NCAA handle punishment for student athletes. Just take it out of the hands and off the backs of college coaches and administrators, and dole out the same consistent punishment for all guilty athletes at all schools. If the NCAA is going to hand out possible punishment for "Agent Gate", then let them do it for every offense. Determine it by this: if the law is involved , then the NCAA is involved. If the law is not involved, the individual schools can handle unsavory behavior as they see fit. And of course, An Opinion On Sports has a few suggestions. Let's just look at one seemingly prevalent offense, that being underage drinking. For first time offenders, the punishment could be a one game suspension (you want to make it a conference contest?). The second time around, turn the lights off when you leave. One and done. But here's the testy part: don't allow an athlete cannot transfer to another school as he/she can now when kicked-off the team. Not the same year anyway. How about a one year suspension, plus the loss of a full year of eligibility? Just like a stroke and distance penalty in golf. Now the plot has thickened and the noose has been tightened. Further, each different violation might carry its own punishment due to its severity. But it would be the same for all schools. Just a thought. What say ye?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Frank Wren: Trick or Treat

As the trade deadline draws ever so close, let's play Major League Baseball general manager. Imagine you're a general manager and Braves GM Frank Wren gives you a call. He has a proposal for you for a three player package deal. He asks the simple question of "what/who will you give me in exchange for Nate McLouth, Derek Lowe and Kenshin Kawakami (above)?" Well, pick your poison and fire away. What kind of a deal would you make for these three hellacious ballplayers? Select a team but don't forget, you have to take all three. Let's make a deal! What/who do you have in exchange?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Glenn "Fireball" Roberts: NASCAR Legend

One of the first real superstars of NASCAR was Glenn "Fireball" Roberts. Great racing name, huh, except for the fact he earned it as a young American Legion baseball pitcher. Although Roberts tragically died at the age of 35 due to burn injuries suffered in a flaming wreck in the 1964 World 600 at Charlotte, he nevertheless accumulated 33 victories and 35 pole positions. He was a colorful, larger-than-life, go for broke racer who performed at a very high level during the "Golden Age" of NASCAR. Characteristically, "if he didn't show for the dough, you'd know he's blow". The restricted, rules-laden sport that we know as today's NASCAR can't hold a candle to the sport as it was known in Robert's day. No teammate crutches, no partners on the track, and no restrictor plate follow-the-leader races. If Fireball had been around for this modern age of stock car racing, he would have stopped competing in today's micro-managed sport a long time ago. And I for one wouldn't blame him. In fact, I would applaud him.

Atlanta Braves: Your Official Wake-Up Call

No need to set your alarm clocks. No need for the hotel desk to give you a wake-up call. You have it right here today from An Opinion on Sports. Wake up Braves. Since the All-Star break, you've played like you did in April again. All season long each game has counted, of course, but now each game REALLY counts. You might want to glance behind you because here come those Fighten' Phils. You had to know they weren't going to fold up and go away. Heck, they're healthier now than they've been all year. The Mets might fade, but those pesky Marlins will always be a pain to you. You have to cut out the sloppy fielding. You have to get back the clutch hitting. The starting pitching has to shut teams down. The margin for error is diminishing daily. The prize is large, but the battle is fierce. You better wake-up Atlanta, or you could find yourselves out of first place when August arrives.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mark Richt: The Dean of the SEC Coaching Fraternity

As Mark Richt enters his 10th season as Georgia's head football coach, he is the longest tenured Southeastern Conference coach by four years. After completing this 10th year, he will join an elite group of only eight of the 72 coaches hired since 1970 to last more than 10 years at a single institution. Richt won at least ten games in five of his first six seasons, and at least nine in eight of nine seasons. His winning percentage at UGA is .769, which is eighth best in SEC history. He is, however, coming off his most dismal season where his Bulldawgs finished with a sub-standard record of 8-5. His name has been mentioned, rather unjustly I might interject, as being one of several coaches on the "Hot Seat" as we enter the new season. Believe it or not, the 8-5 season doesn't have as much to do with the negativism toward Richt as his 2-7 record against hated rival Florida does. No matter how good a year might be as far as wins are concerned, if Georgia falls to the Gators there will be an asterisk by that season. He has to beat Florida very soon, and then win his 'share' against them from then on. The "Hot Seat" talk is premature, because after the next five months Richt will either be completely out of those talks or dead solid in the midst of them. I don't think it will even be an issue by then. Georgia needs Mark Richt. There aren't too many like him out there.

Nate McLouth Has Got To Go...

Trade Nate McLouth. Release Nate McLouth. Cut Nate McLouth. Put Nate McLouth back on the disabled list. Send Nate McLouth to AAA, AA, or A. Send him to the Varsity to pick up some burgers. Give him a one-way ticket to Alpharetta. Do anything with Nate McLouth, but please don't pencil him back in the Atlanta Braves lineup. Put him on one of those stools where kids are to retrieve foul balls. I think McLouth is the only Braves' player I ever hated to see come off the disabled list. He is a bonafied detriment to the Braves. He is hitting a frigid .168 with three blistering homers. His speed has benefited Atlanta with a whopping four stolen bases, but then again, it is kind of hard to steal bases when you can't reach first base to begin with. The trade deadline is less than a week away now, but I don't think there is a team in the major leagues who would want McLouth. We would have difficulty trading him for a batting practice pitcher. His productivity is so low it's like rushing a sick cow to the sale. Bobby Cox is known for his extreme loyalty to veteran ballplayers. Even though this is a great trait, I hope he won't let blind loyalty get in the way of making the best decision for his ball club. Plain and simply, Nate McLouth must go. Now.

Friday, July 23, 2010

NCAA: It's Time to Take a Look at Yourself...

I'm not sure I believe a college athlete should have to provide receipts for a trip he/she took to the NCAA. I don't have to provide that kind of evidence unless I'm writing an expense off on my income tax report. I frankly don't want to keep receipts other than to reconcile my credit card statement. Alabama's Mark Ingram recently (May) took a trip to Washington to attend a party of NFL draftees. Crimson Tide compliance officials contacted the NCAA before Ingram attended the party to see if it would be a violation of any of the outlandish rules. 'Bama was told he would have to provide proof that he paid his own way to the extravaganza. Why? If an agent paid for the trip, it doesn't affect his situation at Alabama. Heck, he's already there. Recruiting isn't involved. If another outside party paid for the trip, so what? I would love for someone to pay my son's expenses to an out-of state party. I would thank them and tell my son to have a great time. Look, colleges will never be able to contain the activities of agents. They would have to have a task force set up for that. Neither can they stop alumni and boosters from providing those "hundred dollar handshakes". Nor can they babysit their student athletes 24/7. Everyone needs to get real about this. College football is big business. If you don't think so, just look at the numbers regarding the top 25 NCAA programs. Take a look at coach's salaries. Take a look at television contracts. Take a look at donations and ticket prices. There is money at every turn for the high profile Division I schools. Remember, that money is generated by the success of their programs, and the success is due to the performance of its athletes. Yet athletes receive no monetary stiffen. I realize a fully paid scholarship is a big deal that is worth more than a lot of money. However, a 'regular' college student has the time and opportunity to pursue a part-time job. No so for a 'jock', because intercollegiate athletics are a year round endeavor. Let 'em take a trip. Let 'em go to a party. They deserve to exercise that freedom without an entity like the NCAA looking over their shoulder all the time. The NCAA has everyone all up in arms over an agent's party in Miami. It's the agent they should be targeting, not the kids. Some of the rules of the governing body are legitimate and warranted. Yet many others are ridiculous, outdated , and unnecessary. It is past time for the NCAA to take a look at itself before it continues to look at everyone else.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Don Mattingly: Nobody Knew the Rules Anyway...

Joe Torre (R), was one of three Dodgers ejected from Tuesday night's loss to the San Francisco Giants. In his absence, hitting coach Don Mattingly (L) acted as on-the-field skipper. Mattingly went to the mound for a ninth inning strategy meeting with closer Jonathan Broxton. As he was leaving the dirt area on the mound, he took one step onto the grass infield and turned to answer an infielder's question while stepping on the mound area for a second time. Giants manager Bruce Bochy called for a citizen's arrest (a la Gomer Pile) of Mattingly for making two trips to the mound in the same inning. The umpires concurred with Bochy, sending Broxton to the showers earlier than he expected to go. His relief, George Sherrill, was only allowed eight warm-up pitches and the Dodgers, leading at the time, went on to suffer their sixth consecutive defeat. OK, now that the stage has been set, here's the bottom line. The umpires enforced the rule all wrong. Broxton should have been allowed to pitch to one more batter and Mattingly should have been ejected from the game. Even without that happening, Sherrill should have been given as many warm-up pitches as he needed. The outcome of the game may or may not have ended the same, but at least get it right to begin with. It wasn't a split second judgement call, it was a rules interpretation and execution (or lack there of). Shouldn't a Major League umpire know the rules book completely? At least much better than Congress knows the health care bill. Come on guys, run with the big dogs or stay on the porch.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Matt Diaz: Hard-Nosed As Heck

Matt Diaz is a ballplayer's ballplayer. He's willing to do whatever it takes to win, and he doesn't seem to get all wrapped up into how he looks doing it. He's the kind of player a fan enjoys watching play the game.I believe it's fair to say that "Matty " is somewhat of a streak hitter. Perhaps platoon type guys get that way, and he's that way now. In Tuesday's 4-1 win over the Padres, his two-run homer drove in both the tying and winning runs, and was the third home run he's hit in his last three games. In the thirteen games since coming off the Disabled List, Diaz is hitting a sizzling .400 with six doubles, four homers, and eleven RBIs. He never seems to cheat himself with an at-bat. He'll take some nasty swings at some questionable pitches, but his results speak for themselves. Matty's on fire, and I hope he stays that way.

Farewell St. Andrews: A Favored Son Bids Goodbye..

Tom Watson missed the cut at this year's British Open at St. Andrews by two shots. However, by finishing in the runner-up spot in last year's Open he earned a five year exemption to continue to play in the tournament. The 60 year old Watson is shown above saying goodbye to the throngs at the "Old Course" because he knows 2010 is his last visit here. The Open will not return to the hallowed grounds of St. Andrews until 2015. The five-time British Open Champion stooped to kiss one of the stones of the storied Swilcan Bridge farewell before going on to make birdie at the finishing hole.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Miguel Angel Jimenez: The Shot of the Tournament!

The infamous 17th hole at St. Andrews requires skill, imagination, and just plain out luck. On Saturday of this year's British Open, Miguel Angel Jimenez found himself literally between a rock and a hard place. His ball was stuck close to a stone wall, which virtually left him with no shot. Maybe no shot, but nevertheless an option or two. With his back to the green, Jimenez ricocheted his ball off the wall and miraculously onto the green. The fact that he went on to double bogey the intriguing 17th is of little consequence when the shot he struck was the shot of the tournament.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Georgia Bulldogs: No Dawg Days of August This Year...

Coach Mark Richt and his staff have decided to break tradition. This preseason at UGA, the Dawgs will have no two-a-day practices. The NCAA limits the number of practices to 29, so the Bulldawg coaches believe they can make better use of single practices, as opposed to multiple trips to the practice field on a given day. When you think about it, it does seem to have its merits. Players have to be a little less sharp in the second practice of two-a-days, the coaches can make better use of chalkboard and film time between practices, team morale just might be a little higher, and the risk of injury might be reduced. I'm sure plenty of those 29 workouts will be in the dead of the day so that conditioning and acclimation to the heat will not be a factor once the season opens. Georgia's 'Mat Drills' in the winter serve as their drudgery workouts anyway. It sounds like a good decision by the coaching staff, but only time will tell how successful the theory will actually turn out to be. Sometimes, the decision to change the way something has always been done is the hardest part of a productive decision.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

UGA Media Guide: First Go a No-No

Damon Evans is no longer the athletic director at the University of Georgia, and soon he will no longer be in UGA's media guide. Athletic department administrators have decided to reprint approximately 14,000 copies of the 2010 media guide that went to press before the dismissal of Evans. The publication is distributed to donors, recruits, and to the media. Other copies can also be purchased by the general public. The University did not give a cost for having the reprint done, nor did they indicate what they would do with the ones already printed. Humm... I might have a few ideas what to do with them!

Bobby Johnson: A Huge Loss for Vanderbilt

Bobby Johnson unexpectedly resigned yesterday as head coach of the Vanderbilt Commodores. That's a huge loss for Vandy, as well as a big loss for the Southeastern Conference. Johnson is a man of character and class, and he exemplified both as the head man of the 'Dores. His winning percentage wasn't very good during his reign in Nashville (29-66), but he did make Vanderbilt a very competitive team. That is not the easiest of tasks at a school which still values higher education strongly over intercollegiate athletics, not to mention playing in the toughest football conference in America. One of Johnson's biggest obstacles was recruiting numbers, meaning building depth. His starting eleven on both sides of the ball had improved tremendously since he arrived at Vanderbilt. He just did not have as deep a bench as his conference competition. He led the Commodores to their first bowl victory in 53 years when they defeated Boston College in the 2008 Music City Bowl. Johnson was also named S.E.C. Coach of the Year that season. He leaves in a fourth place tie for the most wins in the program's history.

Bobby Cox: Thumbs Up So Far...

The Atlanta Braves begin the stretch run of the season tonight at Turner Field against the Milwaukee Brewers. They enter tonight's fray with a 4 game lead over National League East foe New York. With the season half over now, every game will seem to take on a bigger significance, especially since New York and Philadelphia aren't fading away by any means. Every Brave who was dinged up should be back in the line-up tonight, and the clubhouse will probably be perked up a notch or two since temperamental shortstop Yunel Escober now resides north of the border. It should be an exciting sprint to the finish between the Braves, Mets and Phillies. Even though it doesn't appear that Florida and Washington will be in contention, they will still have a lot to say about who finishes on top. Stay tuned, because September is "looming large".

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Alex Gonzalez: The Newest Atlanta Brave

The Atlanta Braves have traded disgruntled shortstop Yunel Escobar to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for journeyman shortstop Alex Gonzalez. There are other players involved in the trade, but the two shortstops are the focus here. I don't think Escobar ever "got it". I believe he has an enormous amount of raw talent, and from the neck down he is close to being the total package as a major league shortstop. However, he never seemed to grasp the Braves way to play team baseball. He was so very often moody, he very often failed to hustle on the base paths, and he just never seemed to mature into a bona fide major leaguer. I think that this trade will be good for Escobar. He needs a change of scenery, and a chance to get his head straight. I hope he goes on to have a great Major League career. As for Gonzalez, he is 33 years old and in the midst of one of his best offensive seasons. His batting average is .259 with 17 homers, 25 doubles and 50 RBIs. He in no way is the shortstop of the future for the Braves, but he will be a good addition for the stretch run this season. His bat will be a good addition to the lineup, and his attitude will be an improvement in the clubhouse. I think this is a good trade for Atlanta, and I really believe Yunel Escobar orchestrated his own ticket out of town.

Brian McCann: All Star Among All Stars!

Brian McCann is the first player in Atlanta Braves history to make the All Star team in each of his first five years in the major leagues. Monday night in Anaheim, his three run bases clearing double earned him MVP honors for himself, as well as World Series home field advantage for his league (and hopefully his team). His big hit also snapped a thirteen year losing streak for the National League. As a bonus, the bat he used in the All Star game will immediately go into the baseball Hall of Fame. Not a bad night at the old ballpark for McCann, huh?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Billy Martin: Hired and Fired 5 Times by "The Boss"

Billy Martin was hired and fired five times by the late Yankee boss George Steinbrenner. Their love/hate relationship was volatile and tumultuous, but the Boss knew Martin could manage. His intensity and knowledge of the game were upstaged only by his insanity and often times irrational behavior. Steinbrenner would have to fire him to clear the air in the "Bronx Zoo", only to bring him back when the team desperately needed an overhaul. In 16 seasons as a Major League manager, the self-destructive Martin won five division titles with four teams, two pennants, and one World Series title. When he died on Christmas Day in 1989 in a one car accident, he was a special consultant to Steinbrenner. Billy Martin lived to be 61.

George Steinbrenner: Always Large and In-Charge

Whether you despised him or loved him, there was never any doubt who was in charge of the New York Yankees when George Steinbrenner was around. "The Boss" died today at the age of 80, victim of a massive heart attack. At certain points in his Yankee ownership career, many wondered if he even had a heart. What he had was very deep pockets and an insatiable desire to win at all cost. He was willing to pay a high price for all the superior talent he assembled for the Yankees throughout the years. For those huge payouts, he demanded superior effort and outstanding performance. If he didn't get both, you were gone. Now, he's gone. Not larger-than- life anymore.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Jesse Jackson: Just Shut the Heck Up...

Jesse Jackson would try and make a racial issue out of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He just has to play the race card on everything he gets into, most things of which he doesn't even need to be involved with in the first place. Like the old saying, he doesn't have a horse in the race. Lebron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers for what he perceived to be greener pastures. Plain and simple. End of story. On the night of his farewell, Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert called the decision cowardly, among other things. Gilbert spoke too soon when his emotions were running high. He should have waited until he cooled down and logically addressed the situation before he commented. He was wrong, but he did not show 'slave master mentality" as Jackson accused him of. Where the heck did that come from anyway? From the Rev. Jesse Jackson. So just consider the source and move on. It is sadly obvious he hasn't moved on in a lot of respects.

NCAA: Get This One Right...

The NCAA is considering a rule (another rule) to ban scholarship offers to high school athletes
before July 1st of the summer between their junior and senior years. The rule would apply to all sports if passed. This means there would be no more sophomore and junior , or even earlier, offers. This is one piece of legislation that I hope the governing body of intercollegiate athletics passes. Offering kids scholarships early in the formative high school years serves as no great service to the kid nor the college. Too many things can and do happen when the time span between offers and college entry is drawn out too long. Let high school student athletes be high school kids until they get much closer to meeting their eligibility requirements.

Bob Sheppard: "The Voice" is Gone at 99

The Yankees affectionately called him "the Voice of God". Any other non-Yankee baseball aficionado knew the distinctive voice was indeed the voice of the Yankees and old Yankee Stadium. The voice of the legendary PA finally gave up the fight at the age of 99. It's significantly ironic to note that he always said the players number twice in his introductions, and to say his final age one must say the number nine twice. All of baseball will miss Bob Sheppard. He's a part of the lore of the sport, a significant part of baseball's legacy, and a part of all that's right with the grand old game.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mark Richt: Why Do Kids Keep Testing Him?

It's been a very long time since I was 18, 19 or even 20 years old . That is the biggest understatement since the declaration that the ACC is a basketball conference. The passing years have eroded the recollection of the reality of perhaps how dumb for my age I actually was. Having admitted that, it continues to baffle me how kids the same ages as I mentioned above repeatedly push a coach like Mark Richt, even though his track record proves to his players that he will sit you. Furthermore, if those players are repeat violators of behavioral standards, he will forget you. Being a Bulldog is a privilege, but that privilege can be denied those who abuse the membership in that family. Tavarres King and Dontavious Jackson have been suspended from the Bulldog family because of their arrests on charges of underage drinking. Jackson will miss at least six games this coming season, and King a minimum of one contest. Jackson's penalty is half of the season. Heck, he might as well red-shirt. Or transfer for that matter. But the point I was reaching for is that these two kids have seen past teammates suffer at the disciplinary hand of Richt. You screw up, you miss games. You mess up really bad, you're gone. Why do these kids keep testing Richt? He is a man of principle, which means he will not give in to this insubordination by his players. Why do players keep forfeiting the single thing that is most cherished by them, that is playing time? Game time. Time between the Hedges. Time wearing the red headgear with the prideful 'Power G'. Perhaps I was that hard-headed, that stupid. I'm just glad time has eroded the truth of that possible reality.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Lebron James: A Ton of Cash, A Thimble of Class

Please understand this. I wouldn't walk across the street to watch an NBA game even if it was free. I love college basketball, but I am not a fan of the pro game. It is the only form of Dr. Naismith's game where walking with the ball is allowed, and is exercised on one heck of a lot of trips up and down the court. From a very admittedly narrow viewpoint, I think most of the participants are spoiled millionaires. But I digress..The Lebron James free agent announcement was a debacle. ESPN really took a black eye for that ridiculous program they aired. I could care less where LBJ plays the next 5 years, but just sign the contract without rubbing Cleveland's nose in it. By signing with the Miami Heat and joining Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosch and with James' terrible play in the playoffs, I don't think he wants to be the guy to 'take the last shot' anymore. I don't think he can handle the blame for a big loss. I don't think he relishes that role. He can't handle the heat (no pun intended). And now he doesn't have to anymore. Just pay him and surround him with a cast that that enable him to wear a ring. He can't do it without them.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Paul Goydos: A Titillatingly fine 59!

Paul Goydos became only the fourth player in PGA tournament history to post a competitive round of 59. The three others were Al Geiberger (1977), Chip Beck (1991), and David Duval (1999). Goydos 12 under bogey free round was posted during the opening round of the John Deere Classic today. He made the turn at only 4 under, but amazingly birdied every hole but one on the back nine. Goydos has been on the Tour since 1989 and is currently ranked number 137th in the world. At least he knows he'll be ranked number one on the leader board at the end of the day.

Martin Prado: The Total Package

Last night Martin Prado went 3 for 5 with two home runs in the Atlanta Braves thrashing of the Philadelphia Phillies. He is stroking the stick at a torrid .336 clip. It was his second multi homer game of the season, and he has three lead-off dingers. He has 121 hits, 15 three-hit games, and 40 multi-hit games. He leads the Major Leagues in each of these categories. Deservedly, Prado will be the starting second baseman for the National League in next week's All-Star game. He has been quietly putting together a stellar season, but now his impressive stats are beginning to speak louder and louder. In a first half season where all of his Atlanta teammates have struggled at some point, Prado has not only been consistent, but superlative. To coin an old cliche, he has literally carried this Atlanta Braves team on his back. As I posted earlier, I don't see how he can play any better in the second half. His start has just been too impressive. Having said that, I do feel that his all-around game is so solid that he will remain steady and productive. Don't be surprised if his September stats are very close to the ones he's comprising before the All-Star break. I think that will be a matter of him just staying healthy the rest of the season. If he can stay on the field and the Braves can win the division, it is possible we could be talking about the National League MVP. Now don't both of those possibilities sound grand? We'll just have to wait and see...

Jason Heyward: A First Half Highlight!

Jason Heyward has been cleared (from a thumb injury) to possibly take batting practice by the weekend. That may also open the door for him to participate in his first (of many) All-Star games. As the Major League Baseball season arrives at its season midpoint, Heyward provided fans with a storybook highlight by belting a 414 foot homerun in his very first big league at-bat. The stadium rocking blast came off Chicago Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano, which looking back, might have been the beginning of his demise. Nevertheless, the Braves roll on. With a healthy Heyward returning after the All-Star break, things are looking up for Atlanta in the National League East. I don't think any team is going to run off and hide from the pack, but Braves fans have to feel good about our chances to make a legitimate run for the playoffs. I don't see second baseman Martin Prado playing any better, but every other roster position player has the potential to pick his game up for the stretch run. It should be an exciting second half of the season. Go Braves!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Yunel Escobar: Have Some Fun...

I watch the Atlanta Braves play a lot. They are winning, it is a contagious attitude moving around the team, and all the guys are having fun. Winning and leading your division will allow a ballplayer to have a little fun, and the Braves are soaking it all in. All except one. I never see shortstop Yunel Escobar smiling. The cameras are not always on him of course, and I don't recall any of the announcers bringing it up, but he just doesn't seem to be happy at the ballpark. Escobar has always had a propensity to be a little on the temperamental side. A little moody with a tendency to pout when things begin to go south on him. He probably won't win the Most Mature Ballplayer Award anytime soon. He can allow an error to change his total demeanor for an entire game. But the kid can flat out play. He has a cannon for an arm, he can make all the plays in the field, and until now has been more than capable with a bat in his hands. This year he is hitting only .241 with no homers. Last year he hit .299 and smacked 14 round trippers. The Braves will need Escobar cooking on all cylinders during the second half of the season if they want to stay atop the National League East. Yunel needs to get hot. He needs to get happy. He needs to have some fun.

Michael Adams: Kudos This Time

I think the University of Georgia made the best of a bad situation by handling the Damon Evans situation the way that it did. Not by any stretch of the imagination am I about to jump on President Michael Adams bandwagon. The way he handled the Vince Dooley situation a few years ago still doesn't fly well with most of the Bulldog Nation, myself included. However, I will admit that the quick, decisive manner that he exercised in dismissing Evans was one of his better hours as UGA president. There is absolutely no way Damon Evans could have remained under employment by the University of Georgia. One of the most detailed, thorough and complete incident reports in the history of law enforcement sealed his fate without a doubt. His continued association with Georgia could only have been detrimental. The fast resignation and settlement was exactly what was called for. Evans carries the spoils, not the university. My hat is indeed tipped to President Adams and the athletic association board for their smooth resolution to a tough situation.

Jim Joyce: One of The Best Who Missed One of the Biggest

One thing that still puzzles me about the infamous incorrect call that Jim Joyce made to deny Armando Galarraga a perfect game is that major league umpires always give that close play at first to the team in the field. It seems that runners very seldom even are privileged to the unofficial rule of the "tie goes to the runner". Yet Joyce made the call in favor of the runner and he was even out to begin with. I realize Jim Joyce is a stand-up guy and he had the humility to apologize, as well the courage to admit he blew the call. Nevertheless, I still wonder what he saw on that play that he hadn't seen on probably hundreds of other plays just like that where I'm sure he called the runner out. One up for sportsmanship, none up for the human element in our national pastime.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Peachtree TV: Get Ouside the Box

Peachtree TV is one of several networks that telecasts Atlanta Braves baseball games. The play-by-play, the commentary and the game itself are all presented to the viewer in an above average manner. However, the thing that gets me about Peachtree TV is the way that they handle the telecast between innings. Zilch, zero, nada. No commercials, no music, no cameras panning about bringing the viewer candid shots. Nothing. Silence. Now I'll be the first to admit that there are far too many stupid commercials out there that we have to suffer through. Thanks for sparing us that misery Peachtree. But otherwise, the silence is deafening. How about piping in the crowd noise between innings? Or a little ballpark organ music perhaps? Something besides utter and complete silence. And while we're at it, how about letting the cameras move around and give us some shots of the crowds, the ballpark, and/or the city? Does it have to remain in a single, fixed position the total time the teams are changing the field? Think outside the box for a change Peachtree TV. Give us some sights and sounds no other network can do because they're too busy making money showing commercials. Give us a reason to hang with you between innings. I'm getting up and down enough already.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Damon Evans: Dawg Gone With No Bone...

A few vodka cocktails, a pair of red panties, some illegal lane changes, and the next thing you know $550,000 is being windblown down Peachtree. In southern vernacular, it's all "gone with the wind". Such are the recent circumstances regarding Georgia's former athletics director, Damon Evans. One minute he orchestrates one of the most prominent university athletic programs in the country, and literally the next minute he only orchestrates his own departure. The river is wide and the valley is deep. Evans will have to negotiate all of the rivers and valleys now. Where does he go from here now that this chapter in his professional life has been closed? His credibility is wounded, and he can only hope the damage to it is not terminal. His image has been forever tarnished, and he can only hope it is recoverable at some distant point. Life is full of blown chances, but it is also full of second chances. I'm sure all Damon Evans is looking forward to is a second chance. From his family as well as from a future employer.