I have been so busy that I haven’t gotten a chance to post individually everything I want to say. Therefore, I am doing this Tuesday Morning Quarterback-style. Here we go:
THE LOCAL FRONT:
Braves swept by Reds in Four on way to weekend Series with Nationals
The Atlanta Braves (26-20) were blown away by the Cincinnati Reds this weekend, losing a four game series to them for the first time since 1980. Injuries (Chipper has missed five straight games since series with Rays with a bruised lower left leg) and illness (McCann has the flu, missed 3rd straight game & Freddie Freeman has been out with ‘vision problems’) coupled with poor pitching, the Braves lost leads twice in this series.
Here is how the series played out:
I don’t want to say this is typical of the Braves, to power over top teams (Swept the Cardinals last week, played the Rays well last weekend) then play poorly against teams they are better than (not to say the Reds aren’t a good ball club, but they lost a series to the Chicago Cubs before they swept the Cards), but it is something that happens this time of the season every year. Unlike past years, this year we have a hot lead off hitter (Bourn is hitting everything he can, with three home runs during the sweep). A home run was allowed in every single game to the Reds by Braves pitching, including Randall Delgado (2-5, 4.53 ERA) struggling through Thursday night, pitching 5 1/3 innings, 7 hits 4 ER 3BB 4SO. The Braves also hit .154 BA during a 1-4 streak as a team. That is something they cannot do against a Nationals team that leads the Majors in team ERA with 2.90 average.
Projected Nationals Line Up
1. D. Espinosa, 2B
2. B. Harper, RF
3. R. Zimmerman, 3B
4. A. LaRoche, 1B
5. I. Desmond, SS
6. R. Ankiel, CF
7. X. Nady, LF
8. J. Flores, C
During this sweep, they let a 1 1/2 game lead atop the N.L. East back to their weekend opponents and upstart Washington Nationals (26-18). Here is a brief series preview with the probably starters (NOTE, we get Strasburg, they get our aces, Hudson and yes, I am calling Beachy an ace).
Friday: Braves RHP Tim Hudson (3-1, 3.30 ERA) vs. LHP Ross Detwiler (3-3, 3.65)
Saturday: Braves LHP Mike Minor (2-4, 6.96) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (4-1, 2.21)
Sunday: Braves RHP Brandon Beachy (5-2, 1.77) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (6-1, 1.98)
Nationals Hitter to Watch: Bryce Harper
STAT LINE (FROM ESPN.COM):
This is pivotal for many reasons. A game behind the Nats going into Friday, the Braves have a great chance to take charge in the East and show if they can begin to compete with this upstart team who has given us problems and losses before they became an upstart. With the addition of former Brave Adam LaRoche finally coming around with his bat, the Nats are a great team, and one of the leaders in the pack of the National League.
A Few Thoughts on the Atlanta Hawks
|Yeah, Josh, Joe and Marvin. Y’all need to get it together for next season. Hawks fans are tired of your soft —S-O-F-T —play. Especially during the playoffs (photo from the bleacherreport.com, Jim Rogash/Getty Images).|
This will be brief, I don’t have much to say, but I do have to get this off my chest —
The Atlanta Hawks are a franchise mired in mediocrity, so loosely speak like Stephen A. Smith. For the umpteenth time in a row (5th as a matter of fact), they were put out of the NBA playoffs by the elderly Boston Celtics (for the 3rd time in a row) in the first around (again). Yet, they release a vote of confidence for head coach Larry Drew, who did what he could during a shortened, injury riddled most-of-a-season in 2012. Even with Al Horford returning during the playoffs after missing most of the season with (torn pecoral muscle).
This video is evidence of what can happen if “could have, would have, should have” dictates your playing. Get better Hawks. You fired a Mike Woodson to do better, only to hire the guy RIGHT UNDER HIM to continue the same level of play in “The Highlight Factory”. Only if it here so. (video from nba.com):
Georgia Bulldawgs Ready Themselves for Summer & Fall with Coaching Extensions
In case no one knows, the Georgia Bulldawgs are ranked top-5 in pre-season rankings. After finishing the 2011 season with a triple overtime loss to Michigan State in the Outback Bowl, most are questioning how the Dawgs can win the SEC East, much less be a National Championship contender. See for yourself, courtesy of The Bleacher Report.
The big news from Athens are the contract extensions for defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and the contract extension negotiations for head coach Mark Richt. While both are undergoing the legal complications of restructuring contracts, UGA President Michael Adams and Athletic Director Greg McGarity, as reported by the AJC.COM, are going to extend the years of the contracts for both coaches, 3 years through 2016 for Richt and two years for Grantham through 2014. McGarity is also quoted as saying that Richt’s salary will stay “basically the same”, at a cozy $2.8 Million, with the main restructuring coming in the fine tuning of performance bonuses, doubling pay-outs if the coach leads the team to victories in the SEC and National Championships.
UGA hired Danna Durante as the next head coach for the Gym Dawgs this week. An assistant coach of the gymnastic programs at Nebraska and Arizona, she comes to Athens with only one year as a head coach, at The University of California-Berkeley. The 2007 National Assistant Coach of the Year, was a champion gymnast while a student-athlete at Arizona in the late 1980s-early 1990s. She replaces Jay Clark who resigned earlier this month, Georgia Alum and long time assistant coach of legend Suzanne Yoculan, who retired three years ago amidst controversy.
NFL —- Peyton throws, “Feels like a Football Player Again”
Nothing makes me happier than seeing Peyton Manning return to his bread and butter. As someone who admires and loves the game of football and how Peyton dictates it, it’s great to see him back on the football field. While I will not get too excited until the summer training camps and the preseason to see him in live game action, madly yelling gibberish to his linemen and receivers, and making the deep pass, this is the step to something positive. Plus, we get great interviews.
NBA Playoffs Conference Finals Predictions (Posts coming soon):
Eastern Conference Finals
Miami Heat v. Boston Celtics
Heat in 7
Oklahoma City Thunder v. San Antonio Spurs
Thunder in 7
Lakers, Clippers out with no style points, hopeful for uncertain futures
The Staples Center will now be devoid of basketball until next season, with the Lakers and the Clippers losing in their respective series against the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs. A thought each on this:
|The Lakers miss the D. Fish, too. From the Bleacher Report.|
– If the Lakers don’t go and retrieve Lamar Odom from the obscurity they sent him to, or get Andrew Bynum into the shape of a consistent premier big man in the NBA, Mike Brown will not last in LA LA Land past 2013, that is a guarantee. Kobe, you can’t make every shot. Sorry, brother. You can’t put a whole team of inconsistency on your back. That makes YOU inconsistent. Mike Brown gets a bad rap, but if he can coach LeBron, be a Coach of the Year, he can do his job. But, heed my words above.
– The Clippers were finally worth the price of admission, and Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are going to be a powerful duo in years to come. A mid-season injury to veteran Chauncey Billups definitely forced Paul and Griffin to have to do more, which wore them down, effectively cutting their significance and strength down the playoff stretch. The Clippers definitely were out-played by the “boring” (I don’t think they are boring) Spurs, who are stealthily making a quiet run through the Western Conference.
But the Clippers did provide this adorableness. Presenting, Little Chris Paul’s ‘Griffin Dunkface”.
A Lakers fan sings his discontent here. This essentially says it all (via YouTube):
Finally, A Note to Dwight Howard
Ok, Dwight. We are the same age, and I can tell you, brother, you have a lot to learn. It must be difficult to be the man when you are 23 and making as much money as you do. I get that. You used to seem so playful, so fun. Now, since you’ve seen actual superstars move around, and team up with other superstars, you somehow think that’s the way to go. I get that. I understand that. You wanted to be traded, only to sign the clause in your contract saying you’re in Orlando threw the duration of your contract, where you’ll become a free agent at the end of 2013. Your head coach, Stan Van Gundy, came out with this tidbit of conspiracy information:
With this sealed Van Gundy’s fate, who was a successful coach while in Orlando — 259-135 record, playoff appearances in all five seasons and a Finals appearance in 2009– just makes you look like a manipulative child. There is NO WAY a superstar of a Chris Paul or Deron Williams are signing with Orlando to make your life easier. To make matters more interesting for you, while your team was losing poorly in the first round of the playoffs this year, you were out with a back injury. Now, resurfacing in L.A. days after your coach was fired and general manager let go, you say this, via TMZ.COM:
Next time, try and hide the smirk from your face. I hope this doesn’t ruin your reputation.
Information used in this article from ESPN, ESPN.COM, AJC.COM, MLB.COM, BRAVES.MLB.COM, NBA.COM, NBA.COM/HAWKS, The Bleacher Report, USA TODAY, basketball-references.com, baseball-references.com, latimes.com, TMZ.COM. Photos from Getty Images, The Bleacher Report, Google.com.