How they really stand — from Braves (1) to Jacket hoops (10)

Original Caption:  	101010 Atlanta : Braves pinch hitter Eric Hinske is celebrated by teammate for his 2-run homer for a 2-1 lead over the Giants during 8th inning of the Game 3 of the National League Division Series at Turner Field on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2010 at Turner Field in Atlanta. Hyosub Shin hshin@ajc.com

Expect Braves to do some postseason celebrating, and maybe win division. (Hyosub Shin)

I was going to wait until after the NBA playoffs to reveal this year’s edition of the, “How They Really Stand” rankings, just on the chance that Hawks guard Jeff Teague (based on his Monday playoff debut) suddenly morphs into Oscar Robertson and Atlanta’s NBA franchise becomes the standard for area sports teams. But I’ll take a chance. Following are my completely unscientific rankings of the local pro and major college teams. (No Georgia State football yet; longer resume is needed). It’s impossible to do this without somebody reacting, “Schultz, you’re an idiot.” But I get that at breakfast every morning, so I’m OK with it.  Rankings are based on current strength of team, franchise/program stability and direction. Last year’s rankings are in parenthesis.

♦ 1. Braves (2): They’ve tripped out of the starting gate. But this is too good of a roster to stay down for long. They have the pitching and hitting to win the National League East over Philadelphia, assuming Dan Uggla remembers that he’s supposed to be good. Success also hinges on limiting those TMZ-like moments.

♦ 2. Falcons (1): The league’s second-best record (13-3) last season isn’t meaningless, but the playoff loss to Green Bay exposed sinkholes. If wide receiver Julio Jones turns into the playmaker the Falcons expect, the draft day trade was a bold and great move. But defensive help is needed in free agency.

Yes, your sometimes-bipolar Hawks have put it together in playoffs.

Your bipolar Hawks have put it together in playoffs. (AP photo)

♦ 3. Hawks (3): Many aspects of the franchise are up in the air, ownership included. But the elimination of Orlando was bigger than previous first-round series wins over Miami and Milwaukee. Winning the opener against Chicago, minus Kirk Hinrich, certainly wasn’t on the radar. Larry Drew deserves some credit, folks.

♦ 4. Georgia basketball (8): Mark Fox went from 14-17 in his first season to 21-12 with an NCAA tournament bid in his second. Has he proven everything? No. With

Mark Richt is trying to be Mr. Fix-it at Georgia.

Mark Richt is trying to be Mr. Fix-it at Georgia. (Brant Sanderlin)

Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie leaving for the pros, Fox is going to be more dependent on his recruits now. But there’s no reason to doubt a man who has coached his players up from forgetting to pack their shoes on a road trip to making the tournament. He has changed the culture of Georgia hoops.

♦ 5. This space for lease (6): TSFL moves up one spot. Needed some space before we dropped to the next tier.

♦ 6. Georgia football (5): Mark

Brian Gregory arrives without the benefit of the doubt. (Johnny Crawford)

Brian Gregory has to do some convincing. (Johnny Crawford)

Richt’s win totals in the last four seasons: 11, 10, 8, 6. Athletic director Greg McGarity is giving him another year to fix the problems, dividing the fan base. But to his credit, Richt has been making staff changes and just put together potentially one of the top recruiting classes in the country. He says he feels “rejuvenated.” We anxiously await to see how he feels after the Boise State and South Carolina games.

♦ 7. Georgia Tech football (4): After going 20-7 with an ACC championship in Paul Johnson’s first two seasons, the Jackets descended to 6-7 last season (Johnson’s worst record since going 2-10 in year one at Navy). Tech had lost its best players to the NFL, but there were too many games when players seemed to be mentally drift. So expect Johnson to be meaner and snarkier in practices. Wait. Is that possible?

♦ 8. Atlanta Dream (9): They’ve come a long way since having a playoff game bumped for Sesame Street Live, reaching the WNBA finals last year. Look at me, talking women’s basketball. Electroshock therapy appointment scheduled for later this week.

♦ 9. Thrashers (10): The Thrashers gave us a couple of good months. That’s something. But in the end, they missed the playoffs for the 10th time in 11 seasons. Not sure what the mathematical probability of that even is. The new general manager (Rick Dudley) and coach (Craig Ramsay) have been solid, but this franchise will go only as far as a thrift store budget will take it. The hope is the Thrashers don’t turn into something only after being unloaded from a moving van.

♦ 10. Georgia Tech basketball (7): Welcome to the bottom. Get comfortable. Paul Hewitt was paid $7 million to go away. He already has landed a job at George Mason. Tech is in a budget crunch and hired Hewitt’s replacement on the cheap. Now administrators are hoping new coach Brian Gregory can hold things together so recruiting doesn’t take a significant hit. Also, Iman Shumpert just went pro. For a rosier picture, see fund-raising pamphlets.

By Jeff Schultz

– Earlier Tuesday: Countdown: Smoltz’s splat, Gators’ buzz, Newton to UFL!

– Earlier Tuesday: Twitter meltdown: Mendenhall seems to defend Bin Laden

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

190 comments Add your comment

David

May 3rd, 2011
2:38 pm

Chan Gaily

May 3rd, 2011
2:39 pm

Miss me yet?

Bum

May 3rd, 2011
2:39 pm

David

May 3rd, 2011
2:40 pm

Gregory will have Georgia Tech basketball back soon so they won’t be comfortable at the bottom. UGA basketball 4th is a joke….they haven’t won a tourney game since 1996 LOL horrible list

@DanWeiner

May 3rd, 2011
2:41 pm

The Falcons are clearly number one. It’s not even up for debate. The Phillies starting pitching is better and once Utley is healthy their line up is better. Hell, at least the Hawks have won playoff series each of the past three seasons. You’re crowning the Braves who haven’t won a playoff series in years.

@DanWeiner

May 3rd, 2011
2:43 pm

Actually, it is up for debate. In this sad sports city the Hawks may be #1. The Braves are #3.

zzggyy

May 3rd, 2011
2:44 pm

“Schultz, you’re an idiot.” (Just to make sure you were right about at least one thing!)

Jeff Schultz

May 3rd, 2011
2:45 pm

zzggyy — An upset! It took seven comments! (I’ll mail you a certificate.)

Jeff Schultz

May 3rd, 2011
2:45 pm

Chan Gailey: Always.

Jeff Schultz

May 3rd, 2011
2:46 pm

News bulletin: Iman Shumpert is remaining in the NBA draft.

Brock

May 3rd, 2011
2:48 pm

that sounds about right.

AT

May 3rd, 2011
2:51 pm

So you’re going to rank the Falcons and Braves ahead of the Hawks? Forget the Green Bay at home already? And the Braves are #1? Really? The Hawks are the only decent product in town right now and last night they take a huge leap forward.

Beast from the East

May 3rd, 2011
2:51 pm

Jeff,
Your list is way off. It’s springtime in the state of Georgia and that means UGA Football is #1!

MatthewH

May 3rd, 2011
2:52 pm

Even though they have a new coach, does this mean we can put Kennesaw St at 9.5?

DawginLex

May 3rd, 2011
2:53 pm

Delusional Dawg here:

1.)UGA football after Richt makes all the ahters eat crow
2.)Falcons
3.)Braves
4.)Hawks
5.)UGA basketball
6.)Tech football
7.)Tech basketball
8.)Thrashers
9.)Dream
10.)Kate Upton doing the dougie at a clippers game

DawginLex

May 3rd, 2011
2:53 pm

haters, not ahters

DawginLex

May 3rd, 2011
2:55 pm

CantonBraves

May 3rd, 2011
2:55 pm

Of course the Bravos are first….and this where they should have been last year. All teams will have hiccups…Good luck to McDowell and Lowe. Everyone have their moments of poor decisions and any of you who are faultless, then chuck all the stones or boulders you can.

joe

May 3rd, 2011
3:00 pm

After the top 4 and TSFL, I’d rank the following before UGA football:

6.Sprayberry JV swimming team
7. E. Rivers Elementary Dodge Ball team
8. Atlanta Silverbacks Soccer
9. W. GA College Debate Team
10. UGA football
11. Tech football
12. Tech hoops

BYRDDAWG

May 3rd, 2011
3:11 pm

Lex, you hit it right dawg
!!!!

PTC DAWG

May 3rd, 2011
3:13 pm

Will be fun this fall….watching CPJ frying fish.

Jim Bob

May 3rd, 2011
3:14 pm

UGA basketball No. 4 is a joke. No tournament wins in 15 years. When your program is at a high after making the tournament and losing in the 1st round that’s pretty sad. Next year they will be awful.

Jeff is it true the only time you see the sunlight is when Mark Fox smiles?

RxDawg

May 3rd, 2011
3:14 pm

No Georgia Southern football? They at least made it to the playoffs last year.

Gordon

May 3rd, 2011
3:15 pm

Way too low for GT Hoops. You will be surprised. The transition was made without losing our biggest recruit, our best player (probably, will know in a few days), and we already have two great assistant hires. UGA hoops is in general on the upswing, but may take a step back this year. Think about this: as bad as Hewitt was the last two years, he accomplished more than Mark Fox. Both had a losing season and made the NCAA, but Hewitt won a game in the NCAA.

I also think UGA football is too low. They will have a good year. Tech football is just too hard to predict.

Dawgsfan13

May 3rd, 2011
3:17 pm

As a baseball fan I have to insert Tech baseball at 4 and move UGA basketball down one. I would then put UGA baseball just ahead of Tech basketball only because: They play the #1 schedule in the country and have seemingly gotten hot and at the right time.

Give me a break

May 3rd, 2011
3:17 pm

UGA football should be on the bottom, right next to basketball. Exactly where they belong :)

DawginLex

May 3rd, 2011
3:20 pm

gordon, Hewitt took a highly successful program and destroyed it.

Fox inherited a graveyard of cheating idiots and has made it respectable.

Reid Adair

May 3rd, 2011
3:20 pm

Larry Drew does deserve a lot of credit.

Let us know how your electroshock therapy goes.

rxdawg79

May 3rd, 2011
3:20 pm

@Jim Bob: So who would you place above them? The Dream? Thrashers? Either football team (losing records both)? GT BB? They can’t beat the Dawgs BB, so they have to be below them.

Note that he didn’t say they were great. To me, they are the fourth-largest fish in a small pond.

Gordon

May 3rd, 2011
3:20 pm

Yikes. GT Hoops just fell a notch with Shumpert leaving (big mistake IMO but good luck) but the long term outlook is still good.

Jim Bob

May 3rd, 2011
3:28 pm

rxdawg, I would put UGA football then Tech football. Yes both went 6-7 last year but Uga is a perennial top 15 FB program and Tech a regular top 25 program. IMO both will rebound next year. Yes GA basketball made the field of 68 but they will digress.

Joe Tess Fish House

May 3rd, 2011
3:28 pm

I would of had put the Flacons last for all the dum draftday stuf they do. Starting with drafting Matt Ryan 2 Perrei Jerry 2 Juliet Jones.

Briley Parkway

May 3rd, 2011
3:33 pm

Dawgsfan13 I’m with you. Tech baseball definitely deserves some love, and UGA baseball appears to be on the right track after a pretty dismal season a year ago and a slow start this year.

enz

May 3rd, 2011
3:36 pm

Weird as it is to say it the Hawks have had the most recent success. Sure as heck isn’t the Braves as much as I love them….
Hawks get no love! Only ATL team that can get past the first round of their sport’s playoffs…

Kramer

May 3rd, 2011
3:38 pm

I would have placed tech baseball ahead of tech football. I am a UGA fan but, you have to respect techies baseball prgram. The football program on the other hand is not so good.

rxdawg79

May 3rd, 2011
3:41 pm

@JIm Bob: You may be right, but I assumed (perhaps incorrectly) that the rankings were based on the most recent results. I would agree that both UGA and GT FB are historically better than UGA BB (as is GT BB), and that both will re-emerge as stronger teams sooner rather than later. GT BB…I’d don’t see the re-emergence quite so quickly.

The Real JC

May 3rd, 2011
3:44 pm

I’d like to respectfully suggest a 2-3 switch, based on most recent playoff performance. The 10-11 Falcons are like the 09-10 or 08-09 Hawks – they made it past the first round (bye) only to get humiliated in the second. The Hawks, meanwhile, have at least won one second round playoff game. It’s close, for sure, but it’s hard not to give the edge to the Hawks right now.

the real Old Gold

May 3rd, 2011
3:49 pm

UGA basketball? This ranking made the list a joke early on.. didn’t even finish reading.

J Clay

May 3rd, 2011
3:53 pm

If ranking based on expectations – would have to put the Hawks #1 – they have already done more than predicted – while the Falcons did less and so far the Braves have done less.

Crazy stat – they are only 1 of 3 teams to make the 2nd round in each of the last 3 seasons (along with Lakers and Celtics)

PureEvil

May 3rd, 2011
4:07 pm

What are the Atlanta Dream and Atlanta Thrashers? Never heard of those teams before!!

Dan

May 3rd, 2011
4:07 pm

falcons certainly had a debacle of a playoff game, but they did have the best record in the nfc last year. Hawks wouldn’t have made the playoffs in a football format. Braves do look good but they are still second in their division. Falcons/Braves/Hawks/Thrashers and minor league teams should have their own ranking

Heath

May 3rd, 2011
4:08 pm

I’d put Kennesaw State football in there somewhere. They’re still undefeated!

RxDawg

May 3rd, 2011
4:09 pm

Jim Bob, I thought you were talking to me. I was thinking huh?

PureEvil

May 3rd, 2011
4:10 pm

1. Braves
2. Falcons
3. Hawks
4. UGA football
5. Gwinnett Braves
6. GT football
7. GT Baseball
8. GT Hoops
9. Gwinnett Gladiators
10. Gym dogs
11. UGA baseball

PureEvil

May 3rd, 2011
4:11 pm

Sorry meant UGA Hoops at 8 not GT hoops.

ugaclassof2004

May 3rd, 2011
4:19 pm

I would put the Falcons 1#, Hawks 2#, Braves 3#. The Falcons are working their way towards a legit Super Bowl push.The Hawks and the Braves are playoff caliber teams that aren’t likely to make it past the first couple of rounds. Plus, the Falcons have had to overcome more due to the Michael Vick/Bobby Petrino debacle. That’s why I rate them ahead of the Braves and Hawks.

One thing is painfully clear though, UGA football is at 6# and falling fast. In fact, I might be tempted to put Tech ahead of us due to the fact that at least Tech has won a conference title and played in a BCS bowl as recently as 2009. UGA football on the other hand has completely crashed into a ditch the last 3 years. All this ” Coach Richt has my full support” is a bunch of baloney. Make no mistake about it, Greg McGarity is there to clean house.Richt loses those 1st two games and he’s gone, mark it down.

BIG BUFF

May 3rd, 2011
4:19 pm

If the Dream were playing in my backyard, I would close the curtains.

No respect for the Thrash but that’s typical. Hockey, the only sport that hasn’t been taken over by money and thugs and police reports and PEDs, gets no love. If you watch the game and realize how much these guys (not necessarily the Thrash, although they do play hard, this year but the good teams)care and play for each other and play with so much emotion and play so dad gum hard, I’m telling you, you’d love watching the game.

Braves .....lol

May 3rd, 2011
4:20 pm

I am boycotting Braves till that joke of a coach is fired. Distant 3rd already in standings, no stolen bases, (wait maybe 1), DUI for starting VETERAN pitcher, and Pitching coach gettin inna back and to with a couple of queens from SF. This is baaaaad people.

Lum

May 3rd, 2011
4:25 pm

You are far too enamored with pro sports. The college game (though it IS inching towards pro-dom) is still the creme de la creme in Georgia. I do not live or die with the Braves, Falcons and Hawks like I do with the Jackets and the ‘Dogs. But maybe that’s just me.

JSS

May 3rd, 2011
4:28 pm

@ Jeff Schultz…
You know I’ll be back later to take care of that crack about the Dream! You’re like those commentators cracking on the Queen’s yellow dress. She can wear grey wool re-enactors uniform like Larry and Sid; but she is still the Queen!

Sesame Street, Peachtree Street… The Banner hanging in Phillips Arena will still read; 2009 Eastern Conference Champions! Tell the Braves to shine that Wild Card one up before Roger gets back and threatens a large segment of the Metro communality with some lewd act after his little vacation! Maybe he’ll go and get one of those Julio Bow Ties off layaway and hang out in Hall County with Dick Dastardly (Blank) and Muttley (Coach Smith)? what’s Dudleu Doo Right doig since he can’t sign anybody till after the Appeals Court rules?

Hey, I thought you were going to carry the bag for Smoltz? +27, good grief, was BugKiller or Izzo must must have been giving him advice? he should have gone all John Daly on Day 2!