The NBA championship will be decided tonight between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics. This comes a day after the New Orleans Saints received their $30,000 Super Bowl rings Wednesday and a week after the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup.
Feeling a little left out of title celebration nirvana?
I do this every once in a while — seemingly every time somebody wins a championship — but here we go again. If you had to pick the next Atlanta pro sports team to win a title, who would it be? (I could’ve thrown college teams into this debate, but I figured we have plenty of time to have every blog devolve into a you stink/no you stink drunk argument between drunk frat boys from Georgia and Tech, and I mean disrespect to drunk frat boys, especially the ones on game days who offer me a beer when I walk by their house.)
Anyway, we’re in baseball season now and there has been this general feel-good atmosphere around the Braves in the past six weeks. It would be one of the greatest stories in Atlanta sports history if the Braves could somehow win their second World Series in probably the final season for both Chipper Jones and manager Bobby Cox.
But if I’m ranking the four teams right now, the Braves’ title chances are No. 2. Here goes:
♦ 1.) Falcons: They’re coming off a season during which almost everything went wrong, including injuries, and they still won nine games. They’ve improved their defense this offseason (signed cornerback Dunta Robinson; drafted linebacker Sean Weatherspoon) and bounce back seasons are expected for quarterback Matt Ryan and running back Michael Turner. One NFL expert already has picked them to win the NFC South, ahead of the Saints. Ryan obviously is the biggest key.
♦ 2.) Braves: They’ve managed to take over and hang onto first place in the National League East despite slow starts from several key players. Starting pitching (on non-Kenshin Kawakami nights) will keep them in the race this season, regardless of how the offense goes. If improbable success stories like Troy Glaus and Eric Hinske keep hitting like this, they could win the division. If Jones, Yunel Escobar and Brian McCann come around, they have a real chance to win it all. But I still see the Philadelphia Phillies as the best team in the league, notwithstanding their problems over the past month.
♦ 3.) Hawks: They’ve made the playoffs the last three years, which puts them ahead of the other three franchises. But there are too many uncertainties right now: Joe Johnson’s impending free agency; the development of point guard Jeff Teague; the lack of a legitimate NBA center; and the transition of new head coach Larry Drew.
♦ 4.) Thrashers: General manager Rick Dudley still hasn’t hired a head coach, the roster needs proven scorers and ownership is expected to provide him with a Walmart budget to work with (again). Dudley’s eye for personnel will help, but there are limits to what the team can do in the short term.
So, what do you think? Agree with the rankings, or do you think the Braves (or another team) are closer than the Falcons?