Archive for August, 2009

News and Views: Favre fallacy, Vick back in jail (not that one)

Megalomaniac

Welcome back to News and Views, the blog creation of convenience when there’s really no subject at 11 a.m. on a Friday that’s worth more than a couple of paragraphs. Wait. That didn’t come out quite the way I intended. . .

News: Several NFL experts pound Brett Favre for his Hamlet act but claim all that really matters is this signing makes the Minnesota Vikings a better team.

Initial reaction: Huh?

Views: Look, I’m well aware of Favre’s resume: He has won one more Super Bowl and three more MVP awards and been to 10 more Pro Bowls than Tarvaris Jackson. But why is everybody so certain this makes the Vikings better? They did go 10-6 and make the playoffs last season without Favre. Logic dictates that Jackson would only get better this season. If Minnesota is doing this largely to take the next step, why roll the dice on a beat-up quarterback who: 1) is going to turn 40 in October; 2) had his right arm dangling like linguine for the last five …

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This decides Braves’ playoff hopes! (at least this week)

The Braves don't necessarily have to this to the Marlins, but they'll never have a better opportunity to make a move in the National League wildcard race. (AP photo)     The Braves don't have to this to Florida but this is their best chance to make a move.

The Braves don't have to this to Florida but this is their best chance to make a move.

I’ve decided not to make any more grand declarations on the Braves’ playoff chances. There have been too many bizarre developments in the past month or two to boldly state something absolute like: The Braves must sweep this series, or this home stand, or win 10 of the next 13, or they can just forget about working past Labor Day.

You must declare: Who wins the N.L. wild card?

  • Colorado
  • San Francisco
  • Atlanta
  • Florida

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But this is the best opportunity the Braves will have to make a move in the National League wild card race. And if they don’t do well in this next series, or this homestand, or in this stretch of games, they can just forget about working past Labor Day. (That didn’t last long.)

This is how the schedule lays out in the next two weeks: seven against Florida, three against Philadelphia, three against San Diego. The Braves open a …

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We now interrupt our regularly scheduled program . . .

I'm going to spend three hours in a room with this man. Pray for me. (John Spink/jspink@ajc.com)

I'm spending three hours alone with this man. Pray for me. (John Spink/jspink@ajc.com)

I’m filing this early because they’re waiting for me in makeup. I’ve been tabbed as a co-host replacement for David Pollack on today’s Pollack and Bell show. There has been no official announcement as to why Pollack is out this week. But I’m pretty sure it’s because he’s young, good looking and a former All-American at Georgia, and that’s so yesterday. Better to get the middle-aged sports writer!

Seriously, it should be fun. I’ve done quite a bit of radio over the last 28 years but this will be the first time I’m locked in a room with Mike Bell, who isn’t completely normal and proudly wears that on his sleeve, sort of like a gravy stain. No, really. Mike’s cool. I’m not worried. Besides, I’ve had all my shots. (Thank you, I’m here all week. Actually, after that line, probably not.)

I have  no idea what we’re going to talk about. With Mike, you never know. But I’m soliciting topics here that …

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Hey, Kentucky: Now you’re on Calipari’s Shame Train

Look familiar? John Calipari could bring UK down this road again.

Look familiar? John Calipari could bring UK down this road again.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, who graduated from the University of Kentucky and I would imagine sleeps under a big blue Wildcat bedspread and wears those big puffy blue Wildcat slippers around the governor’s mansion, defended (shockingly!) Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari Thursday. When asked about Calipari causing humiliation at yet another of his past schools, Beshear said, “I’m not worried about it because they have never said Coach Cal did anything wrong at all. I think he’s a very upstanding guy. I think that’s his reputation and I think that reputation will be with him here. I really don’t foresee any problems.”

How much do souls go for in Lexington, anyway?

John Calipari has coached two different schools to Final Fours in his career — Massachusetts and Memphis. He also has managed to get two different schools stripped of Final Fours because of some combination of cheating/academic fraud/using an …

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Falcons, Dogs, Jackets: Pick your magic number

It's not often the Falcons have danced on stage. But 1998 was that kind of year.

It's not often the Falcons have danced on stage. But 1998 was that kind of year.

In 1980, Georgia won the national championship and the Falcons won the NFC West, but Georgia Tech went 1-9-1 in Bill Curry’s first season.

In 1990, Georgia Tech shared the national championship, but the Falcons (5-11) had their eighth straight losing season and Georgia (4-7) had its worst finish in three decades under Ray Goff.

In 1998, we experienced the closest Atlanta has come to the three levels of football Nirvana. The Falcons went to the Super Bowl. Tech went 10-2 and tied for first in the ACC. Georgia went 9-3, which maybe didn’t completely satisfy the masses in Athens but it continued an impressive turnaround under Jim Donnan after the Goff years.

How many wins will the Falcons, Bulldogs and Jackets combine for?

  • 32 or more. I’m feeling optimistic.
  • 31. You hit it on the head
  • 30. Same as last season.
  • 29 or less. I fear a step back.

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Georgia’s Martinez isn’t running from criticism

Georgia defensive coordinator Willie Martinez apparently has convinced Mark Richt he can do the job. Now he just has to convince everybody else. (Brant Sanderlin/bsanderlin@ajc.com)

ATHENS — The most maligned football coach in Athens cracked a joke. Or maybe it wasn’t a joke.

“I want to coach on offense,” Willie Martinez said. “Tight ends. A guy drops a pass, so what? That’s my dream job — to coach the tight ends in a passing offense. ‘Hey you: Get in! Get out! Did you block your guy?’ Ah, but my guys tell me I would just get bored.”

He should experience such boredom on defense. Martinez has coached at Georgia for eight seasons. It’s only in the past four, during his term as defensive coordinator, that he has been more like a dart board with ears. It’s the perfect storm for an assistant football coach: Work at an SEC school with a demanding and obsessed fan base; follow somebody popular (Brian VanGorder); and have, frankly, only moderate success.

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Braves are learning hard way about Lowe

Here's when Bobby Cox finally rescued Derek Lowe in the fourth. It was too late.

Derek Lowe is a really nice guy. He’s also a popular player in the clubhouse and his career numbers show he would be a solid addition to any team’s starting rotation.

Here’s what Derek Lowe isn’t: A No. 1 starter.

We suspected it before the season and he has confirmed it since. Last night, it hit home like a falling piano on Bobby Cox’s head. Given an early 4-0 lead to work with and facing the broken-down New York Mets in a game the Braves had to have, Lowe was pounded for eight earned runs and 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings. I can only assume Cox was hoping Lowe would channel Grover Alexander at some point in the Mets’ eight-run fourth inning, because that’s the only explanation for the manager leaving him in for as long as he did.

This implosion brings Lowe’s season earned run average to 4.45. That ranks 13th on the Braves’ staff and sixth among pitchers who’ve started at least three games — behind …

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Why Favre deserves to fail but Smoltz deserves to succeed

John Smoltz has a massive ego. He won’t retire. He believes he still can help a team win a championship, even though people think he’s nuts. Gee, you would’ve thought he was Brett Favre.

Big difference.

Smoltz will officially sign with the St. Louis Cardinals today after he clears post-release waivers at 1 p.m. eastern time. Here’s a guy to pull for at the end of his career, not a guy to mock.

Smoltz will sign with St. Louis because the Cardinals are giving him a chance to be a fifth starter. That’s something that wasn’t afforded him after his collapse with the Boston Red Sox. He also presumably won’t have to rehab in the minors, which the Red Sox also wanted.

So you might say, “Smoltz is getting his way. How selfish. He’s just like Favre.”

Not even close. Favre has managed to get his way and signed with the Minnesota Vikings Tuesday, which is what he wanted to do two years ago. But in getting there, he stepped on three NFL franchises along the way and scorched any remaining …

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Here’s hoping Favre’s comeback ends in a faceplant

"I'd love to put this helmet on, but I can't seem to get it to fit my head."

Hey, weren’t we just here two years ago?

And six months ago?

And three weeks ago?

Brett Favre is coming back again. This brings his career totals to three un-retirements, which I believe qualifies him for a top 10 ranking by the WBC.

Three weeks ago, Minnesota’s invertebrate coach, Brad Childress, claimed Favre told him that he was officially retiring because he hadn’t sufficiently recovered from shoulder surgery. (Turned out to be just another lie — by both actually). At the time I wrote that Favre was retiring as the most selfish athlete in sports history. I believe that now more than ever before. Favre went from a former MVP and Super Bowl winner,  a player to be admired for his courage and toughness, to somebody who really only cares about his own ego.

He is not someone to be admired any more. He’s someone to be mocked.

If I’m a fan, I don’t want him on my team. If I’m a teammate, I don’t …

Continue reading Here’s hoping Favre’s comeback ends in a faceplant »

Countdown: Belkin in charge, Pitino safe and Erin leaving?

The Count's also getting a little pudgy.

The Count (Belkin?)

Belkin (The Count?)

In the interest of full disclosure, neither The Count nor I have a law degree, although the American Bar Association is considering bestowing an honorary degree on The Count based on his looks and fangs alone that would enable him to practice as a defense attorney.

However, both of us came across something rather startling in the 38-page opinion from the Montgomery County-Maryland Circuit Court regarding the dysfunctional blob that is Atlanta Spirit. And it involves The Count’s long lost twin, Steve Belkin. (Stunning resemblance don’t you think?) We count down . . .

10. Judge to Atlanta Spirit: Feh

Ah, one big happy family.

Ah, one big happy family. (We're not certain if Harry and Thrash have voting rights.)

Michael Gearon Jr. and lesser Atlanta Spirit owners were celebrating Monday when a judge said, in so many words, that their purchase and sale agreement (PSA), much like their general partnership agreement, makes no sense. The language is too vague. This …

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