Archive for February, 2010

Flying south, and I’ll take your Braves questions with me

Santonio Holmes and Chipper Jones exchanged jerseys last spring. Not sure who big ears is. (Photo courtesty of The Disney Blog)

Steelers receiver Santonio Holmes and the Braves' Chipper Jones exchanged jerseys last spring. I'm not sure who mister big ears is in the middle. (Photo courtesty of The Disney Blog)

OK, folks. It’s too cold in Atlanta so I’m outta here for a few days. Heading down to Florida tonight and will be in Camp Disney tomorrow, so that Bobby Cox can tell me again that he’s thinking of retiring  (Here’s a three-year-old link with my old column picture. Feel free to print out for your dart board.) I dunno. Maybe he’s telling the truth this time. You think?

I haven’t come up with a writing budget yet for the rest of the week but this will be the first spring training since the multi-blog era was born here at the AJC. So I figure it will be a good chance to bounce around the clubhouse and practice fields and give you a few things a day. Also, if anybody has a practical joke you would like me to play on David O’Brien, I’ll be more than happy to accommodate you. Maybe load up with iPod …

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Tech’s spring just turned into open tryouts at quarterback

Georgia Tech won't have either Josh Nesbitt or Jaybo Shaw available to them this spring. One is hurt, the other is transferring.  (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Tech's spring update: No Josh Nesbitt (hurt) or Jaybo Shaw (transferring). (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

We all found out how important a college team’s spring football game was two seasons ago when Georgia Tech had 14 fumbles and a muffed snap on a field goal and went on to have pretty remarkable first season anyway under coach Paul Johnson. In other words, it’s not that important.

But this spring just took on added interest for the Yellow Jackets. Quarterback Josh Nesbitt is out after ankle surgery. And now it appears his backup, Jaybo Shaw, will be out, period.

Although there is no confirmation yet from Georgia Tech, according to our Doug Roberson, all indications are that Shaw, presumably tired of mostly sitting and watching behind Nesbitt, is going to transfer to Georgia Southern. In Statesboro, he can start and run the same option offense for former Tech assistant Jeff Monken.

Even if this isn’t perceived as a huge deal for Georgia Tech,  it’s no minor concern, either. A few …

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A Falcons’ nightmare: Tomlinson to the Saints?

Wonder how happy the Falcons' Michael Turner will be if his team has to go against Tomlinson twice a season. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Wonder how happy the Falcons' Michael Turner will be if his team has to go against Tomlinson twice a season. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

The great thing about an athlete having a Twitter account is it’s like having him sit next to you in a bar. Maybe he’s drunk. Maybe he isn’t. But either way, there’s a pretty good chance that at some point he’s going to say something that hasn’t passed through the usual filter that sanitizes thoughts before they reach the public.

Like this: “I would love to get L.T. in the black and gold.”

That was a message New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees sent out on his Twitter page. The L.T. stands for LaDainian Tomlinson, his former San Diego teammate who was released by the Chargers.

Brees then sent a followup Tweet, saying: “OK, due to popular demand, I am asking the question….who thinks LT should be a Saint?”

Now, personally, I think this would be a great move by the Saints. Tomlinson isn’t an every down back any more but he’s still one of the top running …

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If Hawks are moving forward, it’s time to show a sign

If Mike Woodson is getting a headache trying to keep up with the Hawks' mood swings, it's understandable. (AP photo)

Mike Woodson may have a headache trying to figure out his team.

After a 19-6 start that led us to wonder about a ceiling and a post-slump, 8-2 run in January that seemed to indicate resiliency, the Hawks are back confusing us again.

Maybe this should be expected. Maybe this is still a team still trying to figure out what it is with a star (Joe Johnson) still trying to figure out how and when to take charge and a coach (Mike Woodson) still trying to acclimate himself to his team’s pieces (Woodson admitted to under-utilizing his bench the other night after a loss at Phoenix). But when it’s almost March and contending teams should be establishing direction and the Hawks still resemble a car tooling around a perimeter highway — 6-6 in the past 12 games, 16-14 in the past 30 — you start to wonder.

The Hawks open an important stretch of games Wednesday night at home against Minnesota. Five of the next six games are at Philips Arena. This would be a fine time for clarity. Following …

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Should Jermaine Dye be on Braves’ radar?

Jermaine Dye still has power and isn't ready to say goodbye yet.

Jermaine Dye still has power and isn't ready to say goodbye yet.

The other day, in the aftermath of Johnny Damon’s decision to sign with the Detroit Tigers, we asked you to pick your favorite for the Braves’ leadoff hitter. Your overwhelming choice was Nate McLouth (49 percent), who finished just slightly ahead of my outside-the-box pick of Yunel Escobar (13 percent).

I’m leaving the poll open in case there’s a late run on Escobar votes. I hear the polls never close in Havana.

Today, we go in a different direction. Many of you do not feel comfortable with this Braves team, primarily because of the seeming lack of offense and trades like Javier Vazquez-for-Melky Cabrera.

The chances of another trade at this point are relatively non-existent. But there’s a significant number of unsigned veterans still on the market. Do I think Frank Wren will sign one? No, not for some time anyway. Damon was his one shot, and even then Wren wanted him only at discount.

But with spring training …

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Countdown: Holyfield KOs Dr. Phil, and that Tiger gal can act!

The Count has saved a lot of money on roses.

The Count: "One quack, two…"

The Count has trust issues. It probably goes back to when he was a kid in 15th century Romania and he used to drink a lot of Bosco, except once a month during a full moon, when he suddenly and inexplicably craved plasma and his mother kept saying, “Don’t worry, Skyler.” (And this explains why he always preferred to go by, “Count.”) “It’s very normal to want to down a few quarts of Type A or B plasma once a month. Now go fetch mommy two eyes of newt and a lizard tail from Target.” Any way, when The Count heard this story about Evander Holyfield planning to go on the Dr. Phil show to fix his marriage, he didn’t trust it. So ordered his research staff to do something that nobody in the media had actually done yet: Talk to Evander Holyfield! And guess what we found out? That Dr. Phil thing? It ain’t happening. Something about not trusting the quack doc’s motives. Nooo. Really? It’s We Don’t Trust Nobody Week, as we count down . . .

10. Holyfield …

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Sorry, Hawks: NBA can’t stop Ilgauskas’ return to Cavs

If Zydrunuas Ilgauskas doesn't sign with the Hawks and returns to Cleveland, he's staying within the NBA rules.

If Zydrunuas Ilgauskas doesn't sign with the Hawks and returns to Cleveland, he's staying within the NBA rules.

Phil Jackson is upset. Doc Rivers is upset. There is a report that NBA commissioner David Stern is upset, and certainly the last thing ANYBODY wants is for a New York attorney with a nice leather desk chair and the name “commissioner” on his business card to be upset.

But I’m just wondering: If, as expected, Zydrunas Ilgauskas has his contract bought out by the Washington Wizards and he re-signs with the Cleveland Cavaliers — the team that just traded him — who really has a right to be upset?

Oh that’s right: Nobody.

The NBA reportedly may attempt to block Ilgauskas’s move back to Cleveland, believing it was a pre-arranged deal. The player’s agent denies that. Personally, I dont think it should matter. He’s got the rulebook on his side and if somebody really wants to continue to live in Cleveland when he has the chance to get out, who are we to rescue him?

I realize …

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Pick the Braves’ leadoff hitter (and why not Escobar?)

mclouth

Nate McLouth: The likely pick.

escobar

Yunel Escobar: The intriguing option.

Johnny Damon is a Detroit Tiger, which means his wife Michelle will have to settle for tanning on the banks of Lake Michigan and the Braves don’t have a lot of great options for a leadoff hitter.

Now, we all know how this probably will go. Nate McLouth, who was acquired last season from Pittsburgh and proceeded to have one of the worst seasons of his career, almost certainly will be handed the job. Platoon outfielder Matt Diaz probably also will take a turn there. And who knows: If and when Jordan Schafer is ready to play every day in the majors, he could be the leadoff hitter the Braves haven’t had since Rafael Furcal left (and then didn’t come back).

Who should bat leadoff for the Braves?

  • Matt Diaz
  • Yunel Escobar
  • Nate McLouth
  • Martin Prado

View Results

Loading ... Loading …

But until that happens, the Braves need to generate some offense, some excitement and have some sense of a threat at the …

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ACC doesn’t look deserving of several NCAA slots

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Paul Hewitt hopes Tech is pointed up.

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Mark Fox sticking up for the SEC.

After losing on a last-second shot at Maryland Saturday, Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said his team is “starting to play our best basketball at the right time of the year,” which probably would instill a lot more confidence in the masses if the Jackets weren’t in seventh place in the ACC — or least what remains of it — and threatening to become one of the most talented teams ever to miss the NCAA Tournament.

The calendar turns to March next week. Once again, “Madness” has taken on the wrong meaning in the state of Georgia.

This is one of the most talent-rich states in the land. But we’re starting to look like paupers peering through the gates at the NCAA Tournament again. The Jackets may yet get in. But at 6-7 in the ACC  — which has only one team ranked in the nation’s top 22 — and with two wins over North Carolina suddenly looking just slightly more significant than the ones over Chattanooga and …

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Tiger Woods can go in either direction after public humiliation

podium

Tiger Woods leaves the podium after a 13-minute confessional, taking no questions. (Bloomberg photo)

We are used to witnessing confidence and cool. We are used to seeing Tiger Woods standing over a 12-foot putt, with several million people watching and several million dollars on the line, and calmly tapping a small white ball into a four-inch cup.

We are used to uncommon resolve: 14 victories in majors, the first at the Masters when he was 21, the last at the U.S. Open when he labored on a torn knee ligament and a double stress fracture in his tibia.

We saw none of that Friday. We saw a broken man. We saw flaws. It was uncomfortable. Woods, who used to own the room because he owned his sport and to a degree the celebrity landscape, read from a statement that he might’ve rehearsed 1,000 times. Still the words tumbled out of his mouth slowly like he was speaking a foreign language. In a sense, he was.

This is what happens when reality hits. We’ve seen it  before — weeping …

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