Archive for June, 2009

Braves take their mediocre act on the road

Bobby Cox drew his first ejection of the season Thursday. Given how the Braves have played, it's amazing that it's actually taken this long. (Brant Sanderlin/bsanderlin@ajc.com)

Bobby Cox drew his first ejection of the season. Given how his team has played, it's amazing that it has taken this long. (Brant Sanderlin/bsanderlin@ajc.com)

The last time the Braves completed a homestand, they leveled the Toronto Blue Jays, had a few games where the batting order suddenly didn’t resemble a funeral procession (8, 12, 10 runs) and won six out of nine. And everybody rubbed their eyes.

As it turned out, that wasn’t the start of something big. More like the end of it.

The Braves lost to the remains of the Pittsburgh Pirates, 3-1, Thursday at Turner Field. They split four games with a team that came to town with an 11-19 road record and an anemic roster further dented by the trading of its best player (Nate McLouth).

They went 4-5 on a homestand, even with six of the nine games coming against the Cubs and Pirates, the flotsam and jetsam of the National League. That puts them at 15-17 at home and 29-30 overall. These past days in Atlanta also included yet …

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OK, Pollack: Twittering class is now open

 

Follow @DavidPollack47 on Twitter (and tell him what to say).

Follow @DavidPollack47 on Twitter (and tell him what to say).

So I’m sitting at home last night when I get a text message from a former All-American.

“Just joined twitter homie. I am following u but don’t really know what that means. confusing stuff.” — David Pollack.

I text back: “You’ve only got 140 characters. No big words. You can handle it.”

“Hahaha. I don’t know what I’m supposed to say.”

We go back and forth a few times before I finally phoned him.

“David. I can’t do this. I can’t have entire conversations texting. I had to call.”

“Why? Because you’re old?”

“No. Because I’d rather just call somebody.”

“Yeah. Because you’re old.”

It was right about then when I thought: Wait a minute. Pollack’s 26. I’m 40 . . . 40 . . . well, not 26. He’s calling me old. But he’s asking me about Twitter? What’s wrong with this picture?

Any way, I thought I would use this opportunity to bring you up to date on the wisecracking (I’m being nice) former Georgia star because he’s actually …

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Furcal, others aren’t making Braves look bad so far

 

Here's Rafael Furcal, presumably looking for a helmet to smash (AP photo.)

Here's former Brave Rafael Furcal, presumably looking for a batting helmet to smash. (AP photo)

So I’m heading out to the Braves game today to attempt to assess where this team is at the end of another homestand. (Dime-store analysis: 29-29 overall, 15-16 at home. They’re pretty average.)

But I started wondering something: With all the focus since this winter on all the players the Braves DIDN’T get, compounded by the early failures of Jordan Schafer (.204 before being bussed to Gwinnett), the seeming indifference of Garret Anderson (also a .254 average) and the reality check concerning Kenshin Kawakami (he cost how much?), are the Braves missing much with the guys who aren’t here?

Here’s a rundown of a few, in no particular order:

A.J. Burnett, pitcher, New York Yankees: It has been no loss so far — for the Braves. He signed for five years and $82.5 million with the Yankees, which was way more than any other team was going to pay. Oops. He’s 4-3 with a 4.89 ERA, …

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Calm down — name doesn’t make this Montana a legend

 

The fact that these guys were legends doesn't mean Joe Montana's son, Nick, would be a savior at Georgia. (AP photo.)

The fact that Joe Montana and Bill Walsh were legends in San Francisco doesn't mean Joe son, Nick, would have been a savior for Georgia. (AP photo)

For those who don’t know, I worked in San Francisco before coming to Atlanta in 1989. Or, to look at it another way: I went from watching Bill Walsh and Joe Montana, the greatest football coach and quarterback, respectively, I’ve ever seen, win Super Bowls, to covering Marion Campbell and Chris Miller . . . neither of whom were too great at anything or won very much at all. (That said, Campbell was a lot more amusing than Walsh.)

I say this because you’d think my first inclination when I read that Joe Montana’s son, Nick, was going to enroll at Washington instead of Georgia, my reaction would be similar to the AJC.com headline I just read: “Bulldogs’ plea: Say it ain’t so Joe.”

Comment: Huh?

Never met Montana’s son. I’m sure he’s a good kid and he might even turn out to be a very good college …

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Favre must’ve left wrong note on night stand for ESPN

 

He's a Packer! He's a Jet! He's a Viking! Or is he? (AP photo)

He's retired! He's a Jet! He's retired! He's a Viking! Or is he? (NYT photo)

You would think that with so many ESPN football reporters sharing a room with Brett Favre, the network would get a story right. But no.

The unofficial Favre Sports Network reported earlier this week that the Minnesota Vikings had given Favre a deadline to make up his mind about whether he wanted to come back. Then when Favre was a no-show Tuesday for organized training activities (OTAs), ESPN amended that and followed with another story, attributed to “team and league sources,” that the Vikes were cooling their pursuit of the NFL’s Hamlet of quarterbacks.

Guess what? They may have gone 0 for 2.

Minnesota coach Brad Childress — and I think we can trust him — told Minneapolis radio station WFAN Wednesday morning of the reported deadline: “Absolutely not. Maybe by [Favre’s wife] Deanna or somebody like that, but certainly not from me. Not even close. Don’t know where that would have dropped out of …

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Georgia didn’t hire Tim Floyd; Don’t you feel better now?

 

Tim Floyd could've been the next Jim Harrick at Georgia. That's not a good thing.

Tim Floyd could've been the next Jim Harrick.

Welcome to the first edition of, “News and Views,” which will be an occasional feature on AJC.com that will look at news items that have some connection to Atlanta sports fans. Two pretty good ones this Wednesday morning.

♦ NEWS: Tim Floyd resigns as Southern Cal basketball coach.

♦ WHY SHOULD YOU CARE: Because he wasn’t hired as Georgia’s coach in 2003.

♦ VIEWS: Maybe you forgot. When Jim Harrick was fired as Bulldogs coach, leaving behind probation and a grease spot, Vince Dooley and Damon Evans held a national search and narrowed their list of candidates down to two: Dennis Felton and Tim Floyd.

Now, I know things didn’t exactly work out great for Felton. But at least he didn’t get Georgia on probation (again), which is exactly what may happen at USC. Floyd’s resignation follows allegations that he gave $1,000 to a man who helped steer former star O.J. Mayo to the Trojans. Fact is, I wouldn’t want to be USC athletic …

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Don Waddell has a plan; Is this where we came in?

The two constants in Atlanta hockey since for nine seasons: Don Waddell and the Thrashers' logo.

There have been two constants with the Thrashers since 1998: Don Waddell and the logo.

Eleven years, nine seasons, 16 goalies, three coaches (not including himself twice between firings) and one lone playoff berth after his hiring, Don Waddell is sitting at a table in his office, doing research.

“One, two, three . . .”

He’s counting team logos on the cover of an NHL reference book.

“Four, five, six . . .”

Seven. Only seven other NHL general managers have been in their respective jobs as long as Waddell.

Three run teams that have won Stanley Cups (Detroit, New Jersey, Carolina). Two have been in the finals (Buffalo, Washington). One made the playoff seven straight seasons (St. Louis), the other four straight (Nashville).

And then there’s the Teflon Don.

“I put myself in good company,” he said, managing a smile.

He’s employed. He’s fortunate. He knows that.

More than likely, if he worked in a bigger hockey market and for owners who cared about the …

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Waddell still confident in Atlanta as a hockey market

 

I'm not sure but I think the Thrashers lost this game. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com.)

I'm not sure but I think the Thrashers lost this game. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com.)

Did you know Tom Glavine used to play hockey?

(Sorry. That was just for the Glavine bashers.)

But speaking of hockey: I sat down with a Thrashers general manager (still!) Don Waddell Monday afternoon. We had an entertaining 35-minute discussion about all sorts of things, one of which was how he’s been able to keep his job (he was hired in 1998) despite only one playoff berth in nine seasons and no playoff wins.

Don took the hardball questions in good humor. As much as people have always assumed he and I hate each other, given I used to cover the team, I actually like the guy personally. We almost always have great conversations and I think only twice have actually reached for weapons. This was no exception. (The conversation part).

The reason for our talk is the Stanley Cup finals could end tonight (much to the chagrin of my wife, the Penguins fan). So it officially will signal the …

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McCain: Glavine got jobbed! (but, please, no grievance)

 

This guy had the deciding vote in releasing Tom Glavine.

I'm pretty sure this guy had the deciding vote to release Tom Glavine.

Interesting few days last week. Tom Glavine got released and Braves’ management went to great lengths to convince everybody that they weren’t just cold, corporate, nickel-squeezing weasels who basically told a Hall of Famer to go pitch a game in Single A even though they had no intention of signing him (and he fell for it!).

I took a scientific sampling of readers’ comments and reached this conclusion: Half of you believe the Braves are cold, corporate, nickel-squeezing weasels — and one day, we will share several beers.

The other half of you have held a grudge against Glavine ever since he dared to accept a four-year, $42.5 million contract from the New York Mets, which was one year more and over $15 million higher than the Braves were willing to offer. (Why that capitalistic pig. How dare he!) So really, your mind already was made up.

Now the Braves are trying to cleanse themselves of another …

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Well, at least it was a great three innings

 

Tommy Hanson looked like an All-Star for the first three innings and something significantly less than that in the next three. (Kent D. Johnson/kdjohnson@ajc.com)

Tommy Hanson looked like an All-Star for the first three innings in his debut Sunday but something significantly less than that in the next three. (Kent D. Johnson/kdjohnson@ajc.com)

As major league debuts go, Tommy Hanson couldn’t quite slide in through the back door.

Tales of his minor-league starts seemed like mythology. Sounds of fans screaming his name had been echoing in the blogosphere since spring training. Then the Braves suddenly decided to drop Tom Glavine through a trap door, the Bat Phone rang in Gwinnett and trumpets started blaring.

You half-expected Hanson to be delivered onto the pitcher’s mound by helicopter Sunday.

There’s a downside to this. It makes for a louder crash.

For the first three innings, Hanson showed he could be baseball’s next dominant pitcher. For the next three, he reaffirmed there will be a learning curve before he gets there. When he left after the sixth, he trailed, 7-5. Only an unlikely Braves’ offensive explosion – and he …

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