Archive for April, 2011

Braves can’t go lightly on discipline for McDowell, Lowe

Roger McDowell has helped Braves' pitchers but that won't help him now. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Roger McDowell has helped Braves' pitchers but that won't help him now. (Jason Getz/AJC)

(Originally posted: 3:11 p.m. Updated throughout: 7:15 p.m.)

For the past two days, the Braves have been a staple on TMZ, with storylines about a coach’s alleged homophobia and a pitcher’s alleged drunk driving and street racing. Suddenly, they sit uncomfortably in the same talk show green room with Lindsay Lohan, Charlie Sheen and, “Sara Evans’ Ex: She Surrounds Our Kids with Drugs!”

And you thought Dan Uggla hitting .180 was a concern.

Derek Lowe has been charged with DUI and reckless driving. He allegedly was racing his Porsche through Buckhead Thursday night. This came a day after pitching coach Roger McDowell was accused of spewing anti-gay slurs and inappropriate comments to some fans at a recent game in San Francisco.

Lowe was at Turner Field Friday night and apologized. He will make his scheduled start Sunday, the Braves rationalizing that decision with the standard explanation …

Continue reading Braves can’t go lightly on discipline for McDowell, Lowe »

Time for Falcons to open offense (and defensive fix coming)

Minnesota defensive end Ray Edwards is one player who could help Falcons' defense. (AP photo)

Minnesota end Ray Edwards could help Falcons' defense. (AP photo)

One pick into the NFL draft and some Falcons fans already are apoplectic over the decision to trade a bunch of picks for the chance to select Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones. Sorry, I don’t get it.

Obviously, there’s a gamble element to the move. But as I wrote last night, I like it for two reasons: 1) This team needs a few more playmakers — and, yes, that includes the offensive side of the ball; 2) There was no difference-maker available to draft for the defense. The only defensive player the Falcons were enamored of in the first round was Texas A&M defensive end Von Miller, and he went second overall to Denver.

Drafts are all about player evaluation — sometimes accurate, sometimes inaccurate. But if a team identifies a player it believes can make a difference, I’m all in favor of going for it. That’s what Thomas Dimitroff did.

With that brief rant out of the way, here are five things to keep in mind moving …

Continue reading Time for Falcons to open offense (and defensive fix coming) »

Falcons pick right time to make big move, get Julio Jones

Julio Jones will help the Falcons open up their offense after averaging nearly 15 yards per catch at Alabama.

Julio Jones will help the Falcons open up their offense after averaging nearly 15 yards per catch at Alabama.

(Originally posted: 9:13 p.m. Updated: 10:30 p.m)

FLOWERY BRANCH – Last week, I had a private conversation with a general manager (guess who?) of an NFL team (duh) about his team’s draft plans. Because of what just happened, I feel safe in concluding that the Falcons’ Thomas Dimitroff won’t mind if elements of that conversation now go on the record.

Me: “Go get A.J. Green. He’ll probably have the greatest impact of any player in the draft.”

Dimitroff: “How do you think people would react?”

Me: “More than half will love you. The rest will think you spent too much and should draft for defense. But I’m guessing you won’t do it.”

Dimitroff: “Why not?”

Me: “You won’t want to trade that much for one player. You’re conservative.”

Dimitroff: “Hah! So what you’re saying is, if I make a trade, you’ll write that you goaded me into …

Continue reading Falcons pick right time to make big move, get Julio Jones »

NFL draft LIVE: Playoff hangover driving Dimitroff, Falcons

The look on faces of Arthur Blank and Thomas Dimitroff haven't changed too much since playoff loss. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

The looks on the faces of owner Arthur Blank and general manager Thomas Dimitroff haven't changed too much since the playoff loss to Green Bay. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

(This will be updated after the Falcons draft tonight. Want to chat about the draft? We can use the comments section.)

About three months ago,  Thomas Dimitroff made a really bad decision. He went to the Super Bowl without his team.

“It was one of the few times I sat in the stadium to watch the game,” the Falcons’ general manager said.  “I realized about 10 minutes into the game that it was a huge mistake.”

So what did he do?

“Honestly, I left at halftime.”

He left his friends at the stadium in Dallas and went back to the hotel. The wounds were still fresh from the Falcons’ playoff humiliation against Green Bay. As Dimitroff was preparing for Thursday night’s NFL draft, they still haven’t completely scabbed over.

The Dimitroff-Mike Smith regime has posted an unprecedented three straight …

Continue reading NFL draft LIVE: Playoff hangover driving Dimitroff, Falcons »

NFL draft: Cam Newton will succeed, Tim Tebow won’t

Cam Newton could be first pick in draft.

Cam Newton could be first pick in draft.

Tim Tebow was a surprising first-round pick.

Tim Tebow was a surprising first-round pick.

Tim Tebow was drafted in the first round by the Denver Broncos last year. That decision was such an overwhelming success that the organization was mocked and ridiculed, the Broncos finished 4-12 and coach Josh McDaniels, who pushed the button on the decision, was fired.

Cam Newton is expected to be the first overall pick of tonight’s NFL draft by Carolina. There’s a pretty good chance many will ridicule them for it. But it says here the Panthers would not be making a mistake.

Who will be more successful in the NFL?

  • Cam Newton.
  • Tim Tebow.
  • Both will succeed.
  • Neither will succeed.
  • I refuse to acknowledge the existence of either.

View Results

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I can’t remember the last time two quarterbacks caused so much debate and even moronic dissection going into a draft. One draft analyst, Nolan Narwocki of Pro Football Weekly, even declared that Newton “has a fake …

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Hawks need more from Johnson, whether he likes it or not

Joe Johnson needs to know he's not just one of Hawks' faces in the crowd. (AP photo)

Joe Johnson needs to know he's not just one of Hawks' faces in the crowd. (AP photo)

There is still a level of doesn’t-get-it-ness with Joe Johnson. Stars get paid the most because stars are expected to do the most, but that second part is seldom acknowledged by the Hawks’ guard.

“I don’t get all of the glory when we win, so I don’t get to take all the [blame] when we lose,” Johnson said before this playoff series started.

Oh, Joe.

This much is true: The Hawks did not lose game five to Orlando by 25 points solely because Johnson made only two of 12 shots, at least when we even noticed he was on the floor. They all stunk. But Johnson didn’t do nearly enough to prevent the loss – or even collective team humiliation – from happening. And yes, he does deserve a greater share of the blame than Josh Smith or Jamal Crawford or anybody else on the roster because more is expected from him.

Such are the little inconveniences that come with a $123.7 million …

Continue reading Hawks need more from Johnson, whether he likes it or not »

Magic wake up and Hawks show their ugly former selves

When J.J. Redick hit five straight shots in the first half, Hawks knew it would be a long night. (Gary W. Green/Orlando Sentinel)

When J.J. Redick made five straight shots in the first half, Hawks knew it would be a long night.

ORLANDO – Remember these guys?

This is what you feared. Not a game, but a cartoon. Not a loss, but four quarters of exploding body parts.

For most of four playoff games against Orlando, we saw what the Hawks were capable of. Then we saw what we already knew they were capable of because they showed it all too often during their bipolar season.

Before the game was half over Tuesday night, the Hawks trailed by 10, then 15, then 25, and then everybody pretty much stopped paying attention. Now the doubt is back in Atlanta, and the hope is back in Orlando.

The final score was Magic 101, Hawks 76. It would’ve been worse if Orlando hadn’t put it in cruise control early.

The Hawks lost by 25, and Dwight Howard wasn’t even a factor. He scored eight points.

Remember these guys?

There’s only one positive if you’re the Hawks. It counts as only one loss. This remains a very winnable series. …

Continue reading Magic wake up and Hawks show their ugly former selves »

LIVE BLOG: Hawks try to close out Magic (honest)

Now taking all predictions for the final score of Hawks vs. Magic, game 5.

Now accepting all predictions for the final score of tonight's game five: Hawks vs. Orlando.

ORLANDO — I keep thinking of the opening verse to the Talking Heads’ song, “Once in a lifetime.”

You may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
You may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife
You may ask yourself, “Well, how did I get here?”

The last time the Hawks played a playoff series, they lost by a combined 101 points. To Orlando. But now they are own a 3-1 lead and can close out the previously favored Orlando Magic tonight and move on to the second round.

How did they get here?

They haven’t played great in every game. But they have been consistent in two important areas: 1) Defensively, players have stuck with coach Larry Drew’s game plan to not double Dwight Howard, which has enabled defenders to harass the Magic’s three-point shooters (who …

Continue reading LIVE BLOG: Hawks try to close out Magic (honest) »

Digi-Blog gives a game 5 preview of Hawks, Magic

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(Updated: 2:05 p.m.)

ORLANDO — The Hawks are one win from clinching their NBA playoff series against the Orlando Magic. That’s not going over very well in Mouseland.

As you can see from headlines in today’s Orlando Sentinel above — “Curtains for Magic?” and, “A case of swishful thinking” (cute) — some panic has set in. And while we have spent a little time in Atlanta this season discussing the possible ramifications of a quick Hawks’ playoff exit, consider the case of the Magic. General manager Otis Smith could/should be out. Coach Stan Van Gundy is catching some heat. Center Dwight Howard can opt out of his contract next season, assuming he doesn’t try to force his exit before then, which he probably will.

The Hawks? Hey, it’s all good! They’re suddenly the blueprint!

OK. Nobody is going to assume a series victory, even with a 3-1 series lead going into tonight’s game. We’ve seen too much. But I just came from the morning shoot-around and there’s certainly no sense of …

Continue reading Digi-Blog gives a game 5 preview of Hawks, Magic »

Cam Newton ‘offered’ $1 million if he can pass lie detector (UPDATE II: They’ll do interviews)

OK Cam, while you're up at the dais, somebody has a proposition for you. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

OK Cam, while you're up at the dais, somebody has a proposition for you. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

(Originally published April 25, 2011, at 12:01 p.m.)

(UPDATE II at 2 p.m., Tuesday, April 26: Received an email from the folk(s) at CamNewtonLieDetector.com, who claim this is a legitimate offer. They declined an interview with me but, according to the email, will be conducting two interviews this week with ESPN and Yahoo! Sports. Details below.)

Maybe you believe Cam Newton and think everybody should just leave him and Auburn alone.

Maybe you don’t believe Cam Newton and are convinced he and possibly Auburn got away with something last season.

But are you willing to put up $1 million to prove your suspicions? Well, somebody is – or at least claims to. There is now a website called CamNewtonLieDetector.com. The author of the website proposes, “An Open Challenge To Cam Newton.” Newton will be paid $1 million if he can pass the, “4 Questions College Football Fans Want Answered” …

Continue reading Cam Newton ‘offered’ $1 million if he can pass lie detector (UPDATE II: They’ll do interviews) »