Archive for May, 2011

Thrashers, Atlanta were never given a chance

Thrashers fans tried hard to keep hope year after year but the deck was stacked against them. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

Thrashers fans tried hard to keep hope, season after season. But the deck was stacked against them. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

(Updated: 12:30 p.m.)

This is how it ends: With the weasel of a commissioner not stepping foot in the city, with another season passing without a playoff game, with a lying ownership group maintaining it did all it could to save a franchise that in reality it spent most of seven years wrecking.

Atlanta has lost an NHL expansion team to a Canadian outpost for the second time. The Thrashers are going to Winnipeg just like the Flames went to Calgary in 1980. A press conference was held in Winnipeg, while the Thrashers sent out this warm-and-fuzzy news release: “The Atlanta Thrashers announced today that they have entered into an asset purchase agreement with True North Sports and Entertainment …”

This isn’t about the fans or the market or certainly Gary Bettman’s fictional “covenant” with fans, which I believe he left in the same sock drawer with his conscience. …

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Liars, cheaters like Jim Tressel deserve to lose their job

Jim Tressel, here at news conference in March with his protector E. Gordon Gee, resigned under pressure Monday as Ohio State coach. (AP photo))

Jim Tressel, here with his protector, E. Gordon Gee, resigned under pressure Monday as Ohio State's coach. (AP photo)

(Originally posted: 11:15 a.m. Last update: 1:15 p.m.)

There is no shortage of problems with college athletics.

The NCAA too often seems overwhelmed. School presidents preach academics only when they’re not in meetings with network executives. Athletes make millions for universities but walk through campus bookstores, see replicas of their jerseys for sale and and know they won’t get a nickel for it.

But the biggest problem of all: Coaches who cheat and get away with it.

Jim Tressel has resigned as coach at Ohio State. Finally, somebody pays a price before fleeing for another job (see: Pete Carroll, Lou Holtz, etc.).

Tressel almost certainly beat Ohio State and the NCAA to the punch. He would’ve been fired and humiliated anyway. The NCAA is expected to hammer him and the football program for gross infractions, including knowingly playing illegal players for an …

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Braves show some offense in win over Reds (honest)

Brian McCann gets proper welcoming after his first of two homers against Reds. (AP photo)

Brian McCann gets proper welcoming after his first of two homers against Reds. (AP photo)

During the past several weeks, as the Braves have struggled and waited for baseball’s cosmic forces to breathe life into their anemic bats, beleaguered hitting coach Larry Parrish has been consoled by his predecessor.

“[Terry Pendleton] has said to me a few times, ‘Hey, I’ve been there. I know how you feel,’” Parrish said, referencing the former hitting coach who was moved to first base by new manager Fredi Gonzalez. “I know this comes with the territory. If things don’t go well, you’re going to catch some heat. Unfortunately, you can’t just lay hands on them and heal them.”

Of course not. Otherwise, Oral Roberts would’ve been a hitting coach.

But maybe this was the beginning of some awakening. The Braves, floating in and out of consciousness on offense for most of this season, scored six runs in the first five innings against Cincinnati on Saturday night. If Derek …

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LIVE BLOG: Braves still waiting for bats to wake up

Brian McCann actually hasn't been a problem for the Braves' offense this season but this strikeout Friday night typified their frustration in a 5-1 loss. (AP photo)

Brian McCann actually hasn't been a problem for the Braves' offense this season but this strikeout Friday night typified their frustration in a 5-1 loss to Cincinnati. (AP photo)

There’s a baseball adage that you don’t look at the standings until after Memorial Day. If that same philosophy applies to statistics, the Braves hope their bats wake up sometime during this holiday weekend.

After Friday’s 5-1 loss to Cincinnati, the Braves go into tonight’s second game of the series with a .242 batting average and having scored two runs or fewer in 18 games this season (4-14 in those games) and three or fewer in 26 (7-19). It’s actually remarkable that they still have a winning record (28-24), given that they rank in the bottom 10 in the majors in batting average, runs scored and on-base percentage.

Dan Uggla, who was expected to be one of their biggest run producers, is hitting only .183 (just 50 points ahead of tonight’s starting pitcher, Derek Lowe at .133). Chipper Jones, who has …

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Are Braves affected by transition from Cox to Gonzalez?

Maybe we should've expected a transition period from Bobby Cox to Fredi Gonzalez. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Could the Braves' erratic start have anything to do with an adjustment period from Bobby Cox to Fredi Gonzalez as manager? (Jason Getz/AJC)

After 51 games, or nearly one-third of the way through the season, the Braves have been something less than predictable.

They have winning records against Philadelphia and San Francisco. But they are a combined 4-8 against Washington, Arizona and Los Angeles. They have pitched and defended impressively (No. 2 in the majors in ERA at 2.97, No. 3 in fielding percentage at .988). But they have struggled at the plate, hitting .242 (24th overall) with 377 strikeouts (fifth most), when offense wasn’t expected to be a problem.

Words like flow and rhythm don’t come to mind.

Let’s assume the Braves are still as good as most believed coming into this season. It’s possible that this is nothing more than common early season hiccups, and at some point there will be a market correction.

But could it be that the transition in managers, from Bobby Cox to …

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NFL lockout: Falcons cut pay of some office staff

If only Arthur Blank and rest of us could see into future on the NFL lockout. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

If only Arthur Blank and rest of us could see into future on the NFL lockout. (Curtis Compton)

Several NFL teams have announced furloughs or payroll deductions for their office staff and even coaches during the current lockout. The Falcons are no exception.

While owner Arthur Blank has not mandated furloughs or significant cuts, there have been minor payroll reductions to members of the office staff, according to somebody familiar with the organization. The team has not made any announcement regarding the pay cuts, per the organization’s policy of not discussing internal business matters.

Blank, who is as image-conscious as they come, also prefers that this type of news not get out. But the cuts seemed inevitable.

This is a situation worth watching. The longer the lockout goes, the more antsy owners will get. The lack of television, ticket and advertising revenue, as well as other sources of income, at some point will lead to difficult decisions.

The owners are banking on the …

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Poll time: What would you think of Smith-for-Bynum deal?

Andrew Bynum has some baggage but he would give Hawks a legitimate center. (AP photo)

Andrew Bynum has some baggage but he would give Hawks a legitimate center. (AP photo)

The other day I wrote that it might be time for the Hawks to part ways with Josh Smith– not just because he’s the most likely trade candidate in their core, but because it’s becoming clear that he’s getting tired of being blamed for everything when something goes wrong.

The Smith-bashers in town favored the column. The Smith fans hated it, some taking it as another media assault on Smith. Fact is, as I wrote, I agree with Smith that he takes more blame for the team’s shortcoming than he deserves.

How would you view a Josh Smith-Kirk Hinrich for Andrew Bynum-Ron Artest trade?

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But that column sparked immediate trade rumors, including this one: Smith and Kirk Hinrich to Los Angeles Lakers for Andrew Bynum and Ron Artest. Barring other moves, that would leave the Hawks with a starting five of Bynum (center), Ron Artest (small …

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Cowardly Bettman ignoring evidence of Thrashers fans

Gary Bettman is blaming Atlanta hockey fans for not supporting a bad product.

Gary Bettman is blaming Atlanta hockey fans for not supporting a bad product. (AP photo)

In his most recent spoken example of the Wile E. Coyote/Acme explosives/NHL public relations disaster, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman somewhat admonished Thrashers fans for not buying tickets to what has been a crummy product for most of their 11 seasons.

Quoting here: “Demonstrating your dissatisfaction by not going to games is an interesting strategy. It’s your absolute right. But if it becomes a turnoff for anybody who might want to buy the franchise, the long-term consequences could be severe.”

Imagine if we applied this philosophy to other aspects in our life.

Buy a new car. If  the doors fall off two blocks down the street, that’s OK. Just make sure you support that dealership by buying another one next year. Eat at a new restaurant. If dinner makes your stomach feel like there are a thousand screaming piranhas in it, that’s OK. Eat there the following week, because you wouldn’t want …

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Countdown: Bettman, Spirit on Facebook and Monta’s tattoo

The Count must now acnowledge . . .

The Count must now acnowledge . . .

Every family has its skeletons, and it’s with that as a backdrop that The Count begins today’s blog with this confession: He has an evil twin brother whom he seldom talks about. His name is Gary. The Count loves numbers, as you know. He learned his times tables the old fashioned way in school. But not Gary. Sure, he promised his parents and teachers he would study and do things the right way. But he took shortcuts and stole test papers from his friends and then sold them on the black market in far away foreign

. . . his evil twin brother Gary.

. . . his evil twin brother Gary.

lands, like Winnipeg. Of course, nobody saw it coming. Gary is skilled in that way. Eventually he was kicked out of school and the family cave. But he didn’t care because by then he had made $60 million for math test relocations in Canada. The Count had hoped to never speak of Gary again. But unfortunately, then the photo on the left showed up on the Internet and he had to come clean. Everybody would …

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While Bettman hides, Thrashers’ slow death near complete

Burning of a Winnipeg Jets banner this weekend likely won't stop move.  (AP photo))

Burning of a Winnipeg Jets banner this weekend likely won't stop move. (AP photo)

So the slow death continues.

Still waiting for commissioner Gary Bettman to show his face in Atlanta so he can reaffirm the NHL’s  “covenant with our fans” that he recently spoke so eloquently about.

Our Chris Vivlamore has a new blog posted this morning, stating that the last potential bidder to purchase the Thrashers and keep them in Atlanta is “probably, but not completely” out of the picture.

The team’s sale to a Canadian outfit and move to Winnipeg seems to have been a fait accompli for a while now, notwithstanding the constant denials by Bettman, Thrashers’ ownership and anybody else who’s worried more about their own reputation than what’s wrong or wrong.

The only reason we know the move won’t be completed today is that it’s Victoria Day in Canada and the banks are closed. Alas, Bettman/NHL (relocation fee) and Bruce Levenson/Atlanta Spirit must wait on their millions.

I’ve written a lot …

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