Archive for October, 2011

Braves had to cut their losses and dump Derek Lowe

Derek Lowe was 9-17 with a 5.05 ERA this season. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Derek Lowe was 9-17 with a 5.05 ERA this season. (Jason Getz/AJC)

(UPDATED: 7:40 p.m.)

You can always tell how much a team wants to get rid of a player by how big of a financial hit it is willing to absorb from his contact. The Braves basically just announced: “Feel free to drop that concrete block on our heads — just take Derek Lowe off of our hands.”

It’s done: Lowe is gone.

Lowe, with one year and $15 million left on his ridiculous four-year, $60 million contract, has been traded to the Cleveland Indians for minor-league pitcher Chris Jones. An official announcement is forthcoming.

The Braves reportedly will get a low-level minor-leaguer in return. But this was really all about getting: 1) Lowe, a fallen former starter, out of the rotation and out of the clubhouse; 2) the Indians being willing to pay $5 million of Lowe’s salary next year.

Lowe wasn’t the worst free agent signing in Braves history. For that, he can thank Kenshin Kawakami. And he actually was a solid …

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With LaRussa out, Pendleton could be Cards’ candidate (UPDATED)

Terry Pendleton has been waiting for a managerial opportunity.

Terry Pendleton has been waiting for a managerial opportunity.

(Updated with brief comment from Pendleton)

Now that Tony LaRussa surprisingly has decided to retire as St. Louis manager, don’t be surprised if the Cardinals place a phone call to Braves coach Terry Pendleton.

Pendleton for a time was considered a candidate to replace the eventually retiring Bobby Cox — before Fredi Gonzalez became available. He spent the first seven seasons of his major league career in St. Louis. He is liked and respected by players. He’s a leader. He certainly showed that on the field as a player with the Cardinals and the Braves. His acquisition was key in the Braves going to the World Series in 1991, his first season in Atlanta.

Pendleton told our Carroll Rogers that he has not yet been contacted by anybody in the organization. (She will be posting a blog later today.)

Pendleton had his critics as a hitting coach. General manager Frank Wren obviously was one of them, as evidenced by …

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Jackets’ response to critics suddenly gives them title shot

Tech linebacker Chaz Cheeks is carried by fans after the win. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Tech freshman linebacker Chaz Cheeks is carried by fans after win. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Few took them seriously at 6-0.

Everybody piled on when they lost two straight.

This is what happens when a sports team operates in a world of around-the-clock analysis and hyper kinetic Tweeters.

Georgia Tech is a good football team, one that, as improbable as it seemed a few days ago, suddenly has a chance to go back to the ACC title game for the second time in three seasons. When Virginia Tech comes to Bobby Dodd Stadium on Nov. 10 – assuming the field and maybe some fans have been resuscitated by then following an unscheduled, late-night Saturday block party — the Yellow Jackets can all but assure themselves of the ACC Coastal Division title with a victory.

There is a pretty good chance they will be home underdogs again.  But if this bunch of 18-to-21-year-olds has proven anything this season, it’s that they seem to operate better after most have already drop-kicked them into …

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Jackets stun Clemson — and did that just happen?

Tevin Washington and teammates Roddy Jones and Shaquille Mason celebrate after a second-quarter touchdown. (AP photo)

Tevin Washington and teammates celebrate after his second-quarter touchdown run.

(UPDATED: 12:15 a.m.)

Was it all a setup? Was the plan to unravel offensively like never before during Paul Johnson’s tenure on The Flats, lose consecutive games after a 6-0 start, then hit the BCS’s No. 5 team across the head with a 2-by-4 — you know, just for a little drama?

Or maybe Georgia Tech was just teasing Independence Bowl officials.

The Jackets didn’t merely upset Clemson Saturday night. They handled the Tigers with alarming ease. They played easily their best game against their strongest opponent of the season. They allowed Clemson the first three points of the game, then scored the next 24. They had well over 400 yards in offense. They won 31-17.

Did that just happen?

“We played hard and we played with emotion,” coach Paul Johnson said. “When that happens, you have a chance to win.”

And suddenly, a season that seemed to be spinning out of control still has the chance to turn into …

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LIVE: Jackets’ upset of Clemson hinges on more offense

Tech coach Paul Johnson hasn't been a happy camper lately. (AP photo)

Tech coach Paul Johnson hasn't been a happy camper lately. (AP photo)

Welcome to the almost game-of-the-week.

Two weeks ago, Georgia Tech and Clemson looked like the center of attention. Both teams were 6-0. Each seemed to have a pretty good chance to stay unbeaten for two more games. But while Clemson beat Maryland and North Carolina to run its record to 8-0 and climb to No. 6 in the rankings, the Jackets dropped consecutive road games to Virginia and Miami (falling to 6-2 and from 12th to unranked).

The biggest difference in the teams: offense. Clemson has rolled up 115 points (12 offensive touchdowns) in its last two games, Tech only 28 points (three offensive TDs).

The Jackets’ offense actually has produced only three touchdowns in the last 10 quarters. This isn’t just a matter of the team playing tougher opponents than during its 6-0 start. Quarterback Tevin Washington appears to have lost his confidence, right down to making decisions and executing a pitch in the …

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Weekend Predictions: Deja vu time (Gators over Dogs)

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Before we get to the SEC East, the Republican primary of college divisions where everybody looks like a 4-4 team with two soundbites, a new tax plan and reservations for the Liberty Bowl, this just in: We’ve officially gone to hell.

With the holiday shopping season just around the corner, Mattel is preparing to launch, “Tokidoki” Tattoo Barbie in the U.S. I am not making this up. She has pink hair, is covered with tattoos around her neck and arms and has another just above her Barbie Buttocks (copyright?) that reads, “Ken” (in a heart).

tattooedbarbie[1]Mattel has come under criticism but says the doll is targeted at adult collectors, not children, which is why we can also soon expect Wowsa Mondo Implant Barbie, Underground Kim Kardashian Video Barbie (with rapper), Strung Out Lindsay Leg Chains Lohan Barbie, and, a sidekick: the Ha Ha How Does It Feel To Have That Tie Rod Jammed Into Your Forehead Ndamukong Suh Psychotic Ken doll (candy Thorazine in grape and cherry …

Continue reading Weekend Predictions: Deja vu time (Gators over Dogs) »

Hawks’ sale is in peril — and that’s bad news we don’t need

Alex Meruelo says he resources to buy and run Hawks.

Alex Meruelo insists he has the resources to buy and run the Hawks.

The NHL wasn’t happy with the Atlanta Spirit when they owned the Thrashers. The NBA never has been thrilled with them as Hawks’ owners, either. But the league and Atlanta may be stuck with them a little longer.

Our Tim Tucker is reporting that the proposed sale of the Hawks from the Atlanta Spirit to Los Angeles businessman Alex Meruelo has hit a “significant snag.” You generally can read that as financial.

Tucker noted last week that the league approved the sale of the Philadelphia 76ers but would offer no update on the Hawks’ sale. Now we know why.

Meruelo, whose purchase of the team was announced Aug. 7, subject to league approval, did not deny that the deal might be in trouble in a statement but he maintains that he has the resources to purchase and run the team: “I have more than ample resources to purchase and operate the Hawks in a first-class manner. I am committed to the purchase of the Atlanta …

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Ending Dogs’ drought against Florida starts between ears

Mark Richt was doused by players after beating Florida in 2004, but there haven't been many celebrations in last 21 years.

Mark Richt and Dogs celebrated after 2004 win over Florida, but celebrations have been few.

ATHENS – It was the Tuesday of Florida week, and Mark Richt took the expected route for a coach who has been on the losing end of too many of these things. Downplay the history. Downplay the emotions. Downplay any suggestions that the other team is in Georgia’s heads.

Like that first play of the game last year when Aaron Murray threw an interception to Janoris Jenkins? It wasn’t about Murray being overcome by the moment, Richt said. “I think it has a lot more to do with the fact [Florida] just played well. A guy breaks on the ball and he makes a play. I don’t think it had anything to do with emotion. It’s more of an execution issue, really.”

Here’s the problem with execution issues: An athlete’s body parts can do only what the head tells them to, and sometimes there are all of these things that get in the way. Nerves. Atmosphere. Confidence. The general dread of, “We’ve …

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Poll time: Is this the year Dogs finally thump Gators?

Orson Charles and the Bulldogs walked off field last year after an overtime loss to Gators.

Orson Charles and Dogs came close last year but lost in overtime. (Brant Sanderlin)

Here we go again. Does I-95 morph into Georgia’s “Trail of Tears” again?

Heading to Athens this morning for Mark Richt’s weekly news conference. I think you can make a case that this is the most important Georgia-Florida game during Richt’s administration, given the ramifications for both this season (the SEC East is still up for grabs) and the big picture (no elaboration necessary).

Taking an early temperature: Who wins Saturday?

  • Georgia.
  • Florida.
  • Clueless.

View Results

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The Gators have lost three straight, but they had lost three straight last season when they defeated the Bulldogs in overtime 34-31. The Dogs have won five straight, but the fact the wins have comes over Coastal Carolina, Mississippi,Mississippi State, Tennessee and Vanderbilt justifiably tempers the celebration (the four SEC opponents have a combined conference record of 1-15.)

I’m not …

Continue reading Poll time: Is this the year Dogs finally thump Gators? »

Ndamukong Suh fires back at ‘Rodney’ White, Falcons (UPDATED)

Here's Ndamukong Suh grabbing Matt Ryan's facemask, not that there's anything wrong with that.

Here's Ndamukong Suh grabbing Matt Ryan's facemask, not that there's anything wrong with that.

(UPDATED: 10:40 p.m. with White comments.)

Please excuse Ndamukong Suh if he is not well-versed in what’s considered acceptable behavior for an NFL player. Turns out, he may not even know the names of many NFL players.

Suh, the Detroit Lions’ defensive tackle who reportedly taunted injured Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan Sunday, fired back Monday, telling Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press: “Do I need Rodney White’s respect? No. Leave it at that.”

In fairness to Suh, he’s right. He doesn’t need Rodney White’s respect, whoever Rodney White is. The assumption is he doesn’t care about earning Roddy White’s respect, either.

This all started Sunday when White,Todd McClure and other Falcons said they heard Suh, Cliff Avril and possibly other Detroit linemen taunting Ryan when he was lying on the field. One of White’s comments: “Like 92 [Avril] was kicking [Ryan’s] feet, saying, …

Continue reading Ndamukong Suh fires back at ‘Rodney’ White, Falcons (UPDATED) »