Archive for June, 2010

Time for some downtime . . .

I'm not really going to Wally World. I just think the moose had it coming.

I'm not really going to Wally World. I just think the moose had it coming.

I’m out of here for a couple of weeks. I’ll leave the other blogs opening for commenting, just play nice.

I’m guessing the Braves will still be in first place when I get back. Probably a better chance of that, anyway, than Joe Johnson still being in Atlanta. Guesses, anybody?

See you soon, Jeff.

Continue reading Time for some downtime . . . »

Chipper feeling young again, and Kawakami, Braves benefit

Chipper Jones' three-run shot in seventh gave the Braves a 3-1 lead tied him with his hero, Cal Ripken Jr. (AP photo)

Chipper Jones' three-run homer gave the Braves a 3-1 lead and tied him with Cal Ripken Jr.

When Chipper Jones retires – and all assumptions on that should be off the table right now because a 38-year-old whose body screams, “Help!” every other day just watched a 100-mile-per-hour fastball fly through in the shadows and cranked it for a 400 foot home run – he will remember this.

He will remember the euphoria of the moment: A three-run shot that put his team ahead and resuscitated an 0-9 Kenshin Kawakami (who in his mind might have been half way to Hartsfield).

He will remember the historical significance: Home run No. 431 of his career tied him with childhood hero Cal Ripken Jr.

He certainly will remember the embarrassment that followed: Running to third base for the eighth inning, not immediately realizing his teammates had stayed behind so he would be out there alone, in the middle of a standing ovation from 39,000 fans.

“I felt naked out there,” he said later.

The …

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We’re LIVE from Braves-Tigers (and is this it for Kawakami?)

Former Braves great Dale Murphy played in an oldtimers/celebrity softball game Saturday before the Braves faced Detroit at Turner Field.

Former Braves great Dale Murphy played in an oldtimers/celebrity softball game Saturday before the Braves faced Detroit at Turner Field.

Sitting up in the pressbox, watching Steve Avery pitching to Greg McMichael in an old-timers/celebrity softball game before the Braves face the Detroit Tigers. Kenshin Kawakami had been schedule to start the celebrity game but he was pulled from the rotation.

Kidding, kidding. I’m a kidder.

Actually, there was some hilarious banter in the clubhouse between Dale Murphy and Chipper

Kenshin Kawakami lasted only two innings in his last start against Kansas City. (AP photo)

Kenshin Kawakami lasted two innings in his last start against Kansas City.

Jones.

Murphy to Chipper: “Are you playing a doubleheader today?”

Chipper to Murphy: “Weren’t you retired by now?”

(Murphy retired when he was 37. Jones is 38.)

“He was all over me [Friday],” Jones said later. “I was like, ‘Murp, you were done when you were 38.’ He was like, ‘Yeah, so?’ I said, ‘So how are you giving me a hard time about being old and not being able to do stuff? I’m …

Continue reading We’re LIVE from Braves-Tigers (and is this it for Kawakami?) »

Drew finally speaks to Joe Johnson, and he wants him back

For the first time since getting the Hawks' coaching job . . .

For the first time since getting the Hawks' coaching job . . .

Larry Drew was tired late Thursday night, so tired that, as he said, “One of my bulbs is out and the other one is blinking.”

But the new Hawks coach was happy for two reasons: 1) The team had drafted Xavier’s Jordan Crawford, whose game tape makes Drew light up; 2) For the first time since he was named the team’s head coach, Drew said he finally got a return phone call from impending free agent Joe Johnson and the two spoke about the future.

“It was encouraging,” Drew said. “Joe’s not going to tip his hand. But we had a good conversation. I had left him a couple of messages and

. . . Larry Drew had a chance to speak to Joe Johnson. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

. . . Larry Drew spoke to Joe Johnson. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Joe did respond back, and I was happy that he did.”

Drew said he was sitting in his Philips Arena office on Monday. His phone was on his desk and he had left for a minute to go to the restroom. “When I was in the restroom I heard the phone vibrate on the desk. When I got back …

Continue reading Drew finally speaks to Joe Johnson, and he wants him back »

A rare Hawks’ draft highlight: Jordan Crawford falls to them

Jordan Crawford averaged 29 points in three NCAA tournament games for Xavier.

Jordan Crawford averaged 29 points in three NCAA tournament games for Xavier.

Did this just happen?

A Hawks’ highlight … on draft night?

This is the franchise of Cal Bowdler. This is the franchise of Doug Edwards, Shelden Williams, Roshown McLeod, Ed Gray and Priest Lauderdale.

It doesn’t end there. But if I mention more names, I believe it becomes felony verbal abuse.

Last year, Hawks general manager Rick Sund acquired Jamal Crawford from Golden State for Acie Law (another past draft mistake) and Speedy Claxton (a significant free-agent mistake). When the press release came out, we all figured it was some belated April Fool’s joke. Instead, it turned out to be the trade of millennium. Crawford was the biggest — possibly the only — reason the Hawks won six more games last season.

What happened Thursday night may not equal the Crawford trade in impact. But given the Hawks’ largely inglorious draft history — notwithstanding the grand slam of Al Horford and the wonder (though …

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LIVE DRAFT BLOG: Hawks have a few hours to wait (UPDATE: Hawks expected to get Jordan Crawford in trade)

Derrick Favors gets a few interviews out of the way before heading to . . . New Jersey?

Derrick Favors gets a few interviews out of the way before heading to . . . New Jersey?

(UPDATE: 9:45 p.m. The Hawks drafted Texas forward Damion James with the 24th pick in the draft. But they are going to complete a trade with the New Jersey Nets for the 27th pick, Jordan Crawford of Xavier, and the 31st pick. Getting a Crawford is huge for the Hawks because he gives them bench scoring. He had a great NCAA tournament and he’s also the player who dunked on LeBron James in a summer camp last year. I’ll be posting a new column soon.)

Welcome to generally the scariest day in Atlanta Hawks’ history, and we speak of course of . . . the . . . draft! (Cue organ music . . . thunder clap . . . loud shrieks from the top of the stair case.)

OK, OK. Actually, things have gotten better in recent years with the drafts of Al Horford, Josh Smith, to a lesser degree Josh Childress, and potentially Jeff Teague. But the ugly history, which includes No. 1 picks like Shelden Williams, Cal …

Continue reading LIVE DRAFT BLOG: Hawks have a few hours to wait (UPDATE: Hawks expected to get Jordan Crawford in trade) »

Dudley gives Thrashers needed jolt in short amount of time

Craig Ramsay coached Philadelphia to within one win of the Stanley Cup finals in 2000 but was fired early the following season.

Craig Ramsay coached Philadelphia to within one win of the Stanley Cup finals in 2000 but was fired early the following season.

(UPDATED AT 6 p.m.)

Two weeks ago, when I asked new Thrashers general manager Rick Dudley how close the team was to competing for a Stanley Cup, he remarked, “We’re as close as Chicago was two years ago.” Whether he was being realistic with that comment or was setting himself up for a fall has yet to be determined, but you had to admire the man’s confidence.

Now we know something else about Dudley. He’s proactive. In the last 24 hours, he has swung two trades involving nine players, three draft picks and “future considerations” — the major deal bringing forward Dustin Byfuglien from the Stanley Cup-champion Chicago Blackhawks  – and finalizing the hiring of head coach Craig Ramsay.

This franchise needed a jolt, and Dudley didn’t take long to provide one.

Dudley said he has a mandate to “get better now.” You would like to think that would be …

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Fredi Gonzalez fired — and Braves should hire him now

The potential transition from Bobby Cox to Fredi Gonzalez just got easier.

The potential transition from Bobby Cox to Fredi Gonzalez just got easier.

When Bobby Cox manages his final game in four months, give or take, depending partly on how long Troy Glaus channels Harmon Killebrew, the Braves officially will begin a search for his replacement.

Logic says general manager Frank Wren already has a list with a few names.  But if he lost it in a drawer, it’s no big deal. The search just got a whole lot easier. The Florida Marlins fired manager Fredi Gonzalez Wednesday morning. This would be a good time for Wren to phone Gonzalez and see if he would be willing to accept a job as special consultant in charge of, I dunno, looking for a new house.

I’ve written about Gonzalez in the past, most recently when he earned the respect of his peers and the players in the Marlins’ clubhouse by benching the immature Hanley Ramirez (click here) for laziness. He is a former Braves coach who has managed winning teams in Florida despite a minuscule payroll, little fan …

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Michael Turner finally admitting the obvious: He was fat

A slimmer Michael Turner helps Matt Ryan and the Falcons (Curtis Compton/AJC)

A slimmer Michael Turner helps Matt Ryan (Curtis Compton/AJC).

Michael Turner has been just like one of us when it comes to weight gain. He denies it.

He denied throughout last season that he was a step slower — before his ankle injury — because he was out of shape. Coaches and team officials stayed mum on the subject. His fans thought the media (like me) was being too hard on him. Then this offseason, Turner started to concede there might have been a problem. In a Q-and-A with our Darryl Ledbetter, he said: “I’m still the same [weight], it just looks different. I just moved it around a little bit to all the right places.”

Yes, moved it around. Who among us haven’t been trying to “move around” 10 pounds for years? Does insurance cover “move it around” surgery?

But here’s the good news: The more interviews Turner does, the closer he comes to actually saying, “I was a porkpie.”

He just flogged himself, relatively speaking, in a story with SI.com’s Jim Trotter. The meat of the …

Continue reading Michael Turner finally admitting the obvious: He was fat »

Hawks can’t afford to slide back (and why not Chris Paul?)

Are these the three players who will lead the Hawks again next season -- and is that your first choice? (Courtesy of Slam Magazine)

Are these the three players who will lead the Hawks again next season — and is that your first choice? (Courtesy of Slam Magazine)

After consecutive years of first-round wins but second-round humiliations, the Hawks are in a precarious situation. They are mandating improvement at a time when their best — albeit sometimes unpopular — player, Joe Johnson, is entering free agency and owners have a death grip on their wallets.

The draft is Thursday. It’s safe to assume that the Hawks’ chances of taking the next step do not hinge on the 24th selection. It depends on almost everything else: Johnson’s re-signing; the front-office scramble if he leaves; the potential return or trade of expatriate, Josh Childress; any potential trade involving almost anybody else (save Al Horford, who might as well stick his feet in concrete because he’s not going anywhere).

As summers go, this one ranks up there in importance with any in Hawks’ history. If they take a step back, they …

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