Archive for May, 2009

Tech’s Hall has everything but a title

Danny Hall congratulates Jeff Rowland after a first inning run Friday night, and hopes it's positive foreshadowing for this post-season. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Danny Hall congratulates Jeff Rowland after a first-inning run Friday night and hopes it's positive foreshadowing for this postseason. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Contrary to popular belief, Danny Hall actually does own a championship trophy.

It might not be the one he really labored for. It might not be the one he dreamed about. For that matter, he’s not even sure exactly where it is in the house.

But he forever may be indebted to those eight-year-olds from the Wills Park youth league in Alpharetta.

“I helped coach a team four year ago because my son, Carter, was on it,” Hall said Friday. “They ended up winning the Dizzy Dean World Series. After the game, I told those kids, ‘However long I’ve been in baseball, I’ve never been part of a World Series champion. So I want you to understand how special this is.’ That was it. That’s my claim to fame.”

Not quite. But we get the joke.

Hall has Georgia Tech in the NCAA baseball postseason for the 14th time …

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We’re live from our king of college sports: Uh, baseball? (and Tech wins 9-3)

Georgia's Dave Perno (left) and Tech's Danny Hall are two of the reasons college baseball's doing well in Georgia. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Too bad the success of Georgia's Dave Perno and Tech's Danny Hall doesn't translate to college basketball across the state. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com.)

This may not ease the pain of Georgia’s pronounced tumble down from No. 1 in the football rankings last year, or Tech’s season-ending face plant against LSU, or certainly anything involving most recent college basketball seasons in the state of Georgia.

But have you noticed? College baseball rules!

No. Most weren’t brought up in the state dreaming of the sound of “ping.” But it’s about the sweetest thing you’re going to hear or see right now on a state campus.

Four schools – Georgia Tech, Georgia, Georgia State and Georgia Southern – are in the NCAA’s field of baseball 64.

That is exactly four more than were in the NCAA’s last field of basketball 64.

Just spoke a little while ago to Tech coach Danny Hall. He was relaxing watching the Elon-Southern Miss game before the Yellow Jackets take on sudden …

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Yo, Mike: Togetherness won’t play in the SEC

Urban Meyer

So let me get this straight: You're going to ask Urban Meyer to play nice with everybody?

Mike Slive stood before the assembled masses the other day and proclaimed, “We’re all in this together.”

Cute. Even if borderline delusional. That would’ve been a great way for Slive to punctuate his remarks if he were trying to inspire a group of Amway salesman instead of some creatures just slightly north of reptilian.

If Slive presided over any conference in the country other than the SEC, he might have a chance at peace, love and understanding. But when you lock Urban Meyer, Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier, Lane Kiffin, Bobby Petrino, Les Miles and Mark Richt into a room, nobody’s coming out the next day holding hands, espousing the virtues of synergies and singing Kumbaya.

Here’s some advice for Mr. Slive: Don’t fight what you have. Market it.

You want togetherness? Go to the ACC. Bobby Bowden, David Cutcliffe, Frank Beamer, Ralph Friedgen and Jim Grobe are a great starting …

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Canseco down again! (And we just found the video)

Jose Canseco never should have let go of the bat today. (AP photo)

Jose Canseco never should have let go of the bat today.

Word is that Michael Vick is about to start his construction work for $10 hour, which of course upsets me because my son has been out of school for over two weeks and he still hasn’t found a summer job. Vick must have a better agent.

But I guess it could be worse. I just found the globe’s most desperate wage-earner.

Jose Canseco – what are you thinking?

This week’s Countdown.

10. And in this corner: A train wreck.

Given Canseco, through his literary excellence (sorry), did more to clean up baseball than anybody else, he’s probably deserving of a Pulitzer or a Nobel or at least the baseball commissioner’s job, which come to think of it has been vacant for several years now. But outing celebrities and writing books and going on Nightline must not pay like it used to. Because abject poverty and too many fried braincells is the only possible explanation for Canseco ever going into a boxing/MMA ring again. Unless he …

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Somebody didn’t get the memo on Kobe-LeBron

Take a good look at this matchup, because we may not see it in the finals after all.

Take a good look at this picture, because we may not see it in the finals after all. (AP photo)

In some recent shoe commercials straight out of commissioner David Stern’s dream world, the NBA’s two biggest stars and marketing centerpieces are depicted as cute but feuding Muppets, taunting each other about the upcoming playoffs.

In one, the “Kobe” Muppet walks around the house, asks the “LeBron” Muppet, “Have you seen my three championship rings?” and then likens them to delicious chocolate-chip cookies and says, “You’ve gotta be hungry, LeBron.” In another, the excited “LeBron” Muppet follows an irritated Kobe around, constantly clapping his chalk-dusted hands to create mountains of powder.

Funny stuff. But like so many marketing ventures, it may end up being more fluff than substance.

The NBA wants Kobe-LeBron. TV executives, sponsors and fans want Kobe-LeBron. Your mom wants Kobe-LeBron and she doesn’t even like basketball.

One-name stars …

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Welcome to Glavine’s field of dreams: Lawrenceville

Here's Tom Glavine struggling as a Brave -- in Gwinnett, not Fulton County (Jason Getz/jgetz@ajc.com).

Tom Glavine struggled as a Brave — in Gwinnett, not Fulton (Jason Getz/jgetz@ajc.com)

A white Range Rover rolled into the parking lot at 4:39 p.m. and out jumped three young boys looking for new hats, a 43-year-old pitcher looking for a renewable lease and Dr. Joe Chandler, trying to keep watch over all of them.

“In case my arm falls off, he’s here to put it back on,” Tom Glavine said Saturday.

Went to see John Smoltz pitch in Augusta the other day. Figured I might as well jump from Single-A to Triple-A Saturday to see Glavine try to defy odds in Lawrenceville. This should do it for the tour of impending Hall of Famers in the minors. Greg Maddux seems content in Las Vegas, playing golf and poker, which doesn’t require traveling with orthopedic surgeons.

Nine months after surgery for a torn flexor tendon and the usual late-career, pitcher’s HMO buffet – labrum, rotator cuff, bursa sac – Glavine was hoping Saturday all this was worth it. Didn’t look like it. …

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Smoltz back on mound — and we shouldn’t be surprised

Greenville's starting battery Thursday: John Smoltz, 42, and Tim Federowicz, 21. (AP photo.)

AUGUSTA – He was just married last weekend and made his season minor-league pitching debut Thursday night, none of which would be that unusual if John Smoltz wasn’t 42 and looking slightly out of place with teammates shortly removed from their high school proms.

“I was in A ball in 1986 when a lot of these guys weren’t even born,” he said. “Their meal money is $29. Mine was $4.50. It was McDonald’s every night. They won’t be eating McDonald’s tonight.”

Welcome to another John Smoltz rehab assignment. Not sure how many this makes now. But it has to go down as his most difficult — less because he’s coming off surgery for a torn labrum last June than the fact he was set to pitch in a stadium just 1.6 miles from Augusta National (venue for his other passion: golf).

“Drove by it on the way here,” he said, smiling, before his scheduled start. “Beautiful place. …

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We’re live from Augusta for . . . John Smoltz?

AUGUSTA — Not that it’s hard to distinguish a 42-year-old from kids fresh off their high school prom on a minor-league baseball team. But I was sure it was John Smoltz I just saw when he looked at me, smiled and said, “Now I know why it’s raining.”

Well. At least we know his vocal chords remain sharp.

Right now, I’m sitting in the small press box at Lake Olmstead Stadium, which generally doesn’t need a big press box because Class A baseball games generally don’t have a huge media (or fan) following.

But tonight, Smoltz returns to a pitching mound for the first time since last June, when the former Braves starter (and closer) had surgery for a torn labrum. That paved the way for a lowball contract offer from the Braves ($2 million guarantee) and his exit out of Atlanta. Now, he’s a member of the Boston Red Sox and, if his rehab continues on schedule, he could pitch against the Braves next month, when the two teams meet for series at Fenway Park (June 19-21) and Turner Field …

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This fantasy hasn’t played out like expected

So maybe we should forget about that whole Roy Hobbs thing.

So maybe we should forget about that whole Roy Hobbs thing.

It was nearly four years ago when Jeff Francoeur appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, holding a bat, flashing a Pepsodent smile, and suddenly looming so large (and borderline Utopian) one month into his major-league career that a two-word headline screamed: “The Natural.”

On Tuesday, the same Jeff Francoeur was coming off a .239 season. After going hitless against Colorado — though reaching base twice on an error and hit batter — he’s mired in a 5-for-41 slump to drop his season average to .242.

When reminded about the magazine cover just before batting practice, Francoeur laughed and said, “Yeah, I know. Screw ‘em.”

Know what? This may be progress.

Nobody ever has questioned his talent. The issues generally have been from the neck up. When he struggled early last season, he didn’t handle it well. When the Braves demoted him to the minors, he viewed it as slap instead of a needed escape. …

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OK, I say, “Michael Vick,” and you say, what?

 

I haven't seen Scooby this upset since he suspected the old innkeeper for the strange hauntings at the inn. (Gary Varvel/Creator's Syndicate)

Until this cartoon, I hadn't seen Scooby so upset since he suspected the old innkeeper might be behind the strange hauntings at the inn. (Gary Varvel / Creator's Syndicate)

Loved the above cartoon. I think it was the only time I laughed from the time the first time federal investigators parachuted onto the property at 1915 Moonlight Road. Gary Varvel took a serious topic and managed to get across a viewpoint in a completely off-beat and inoffensive way.

  OK. So it’s not a jury of Michael Vick’s peers. But really. Who’s going to claim Scooby Doo, Droopy Underdog and Astro are racist?

  Which leads me to this week’s Tuesday Countdown.

10. Can’t we just all get along?

Wrote a column the other day on Michael Vick. Lots of reaction. Lots of reader comments. Lots of page views. These days, I think that’s supposed to be my nirvana. Wish I could tell you it’s been a great last 48 hours. I’ve spent way too much time deleting potential online comments that had been …

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