Archive for November, 2011

LIVE: Alabama vs. LSU for division… and SEC, and BCS

Time to weigh in with your predictions. Here's mine: Alabama 20, LSU 16.

It's time to weigh in with your predictions. Here's mine: Alabama 20, LSU 16.

Nick Saban looks a lot shorter on TV.

Nick Saban looks a lot shorter on TV.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — I’m quite certain there’s drinking going on here.

I heard something crazy like 30,000 LSU fans made the five-hour-plus drive from Baton Rouge to Tuscaloosa for the LSU-Alabama game, even though most of them don’t have tickets. Given the number of people I saw out there tailgating, I’m guessing a lot of Bama fans are here just for the scene — and the beverages — as well.

Welcome to the game of the week, the month, the season, the millennium — whatever you want to call it. It won’t get any better than Alabama vs. LSU or Nick Saban vs. Les Miles the rest of the season, nor probably even at bowl time. It’s difficult to imagine even the BCS title game living up to the buildup or the match-up.

These are the two best teams in the nation. By the end of the night, we might still believe they’re the two best teams in the nation (notwithstanding the fact …

Continue reading LIVE: Alabama vs. LSU for division… and SEC, and BCS »

Collapse of Hawks’ sale is just one more Spirit nightmare

Alex Meruelo is out as potential Hawks owner, which means ...

Alex Meruelo is out as Hawks' owner. That means …

(Updated at 5:45 p.m.)

The only thing worse than bad ownership in professional sports is uncertain ownership. We have been cursed with both.

The sale of the Hawks from the Atlanta Spirit to Alex Meruelo has gone from in danger of falling apart to officially dead. Our Tim Tucker reports that the deal was terminated by mutual agreement.

This is what it means to you: There is nobody minding the office. Not Meruelo, who presumably never had the funding and/or wouldn’t provide the financial guarantees as laid out by the NBA to purchase a franchise, his claims to the contrary not withstanding. His purchase was announced Aug. 7. The dissolution of deal was revealed 89 days later on Nov. 4. This lasted only slightly

... These guys are back running the show.

… These guys are back running the show.

longer than a Kim Kardashian marriage (72 days) — the only problem being that most consider this closer to real life.

Not the Atlanta Spirit. They weaseled out of NHL ownership …

Continue reading Collapse of Hawks’ sale is just one more Spirit nightmare »

Alabama, LSU have what everyone else wants: great coach

(AP photo)

Nick Saban and Les Miles again find themselves the centers of attention. (AP photo)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Nick Saban turned 60 on Halloween, and his players – tempting fate and possibly their scholarships — turned off the lights in a meeting room and yelled, “Surprise!” when their coach walked in. As it turned out, even in the week of the Alabama-LSU game, the little curmudgeon showed a humorous side.

After acknowledging, “It’s hard to think about birthdays,” Saban referenced the No. 60 jersey that was presented to him and cracked, “I wasn’t thinking about age. I was thinking I’m a skill player. There’s no way I can sport this 60. I’ve got to have a lower-than-50 number of some sort.”

Might as well give Saban and Les Miles jersey Nos. 1 and 2. They coach the two best teams in the nation. They’re probably the two best coaches.

Maybe we think of them differently: Saban as cold, evil, I-hate-him-I-hate-him-can-I-get-him-on-my-team brilliant. Miles as goofy, …

Continue reading Alabama, LSU have what everyone else wants: great coach »

I’ve got guaranteed picks on Alabama-LSU, Dogs, Falcons! (no, seriously)

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Yes. I decided to come back.

Did you lose the bet?

So there I was, sitting by the railroad tracks,  just me and my Pop-Tarts and my Florida-Clemson-Broncos  parlay ticket and some creepy guy who kept staring at my shoes, waiting for me to fall asleep, when it struck me: I was getting too good! Everybody needs a market correction now and then. Me. Wall Street. Everybody who plays running back for Georgia, at least when they’re not sitting in their dorm room, in a cloud of smoke, next to a bong and an open box of Ho Hos, staring at the same fly for like, I dunno, seven hours, wondering what it would be like to be a fly, then trying to catch the fly, giving up after 12 seconds, then napping for, I dunno, another seven hours. (Hey, did I miss class?)

If Crowell's not careful, "Up In Smoke" might describe his career.

Crowell better hope this isn't his career.

OK, so my strategy sorta went kaboom last week. Sort of like Custer, whose reported famous last words at Little Big Horn were, “Hurrah boys, we’ve got them!” And then …

Continue reading I’ve got guaranteed picks on Alabama-LSU, Dogs, Falcons! (no, seriously) »

Falcons’ next challenge: Don’t faceplant against 0-8 Colts

Arthur Blank won't have to worry about Peyton Manning when Falcons play Indianapolis.

Arthur Blank won't have to worry about Peyton Manning when Falcons play the Colts. (AJC photo)

It didn’t figure that one day somebody would feel the need to reference the Wake Forest-Duke football game of the 2000 season. But it’s appropriate this week.

The Falcons are preparing to play the 0-8 Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. It will be 11 years, almost to the day, since the game between 0-7 Wake Forest and 0-8 Duke (Demon Deacons vs. Blue Devils — the battle of the college football underworld). Falcons tackle Tyson Clabo remembers because he played for Wake Forest.

“We had a tight end named Ray Thomas of Canada,” Clabo said. “We scored a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to win the game, and I just remember him screaming when we were kicking the extra point, ‘We’re not the worst! We’re not the worst!’”

Here’s the kicker: The coach of that Wake Forest team was Jim Caldwell, who now coaches the Colts.

This is a dangerous week for the Falcons. That may seem like …

Continue reading Falcons’ next challenge: Don’t faceplant against 0-8 Colts »

One reason for Ryan’s struggles: Sam Baker (hurt again)

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Here's Sam Baker blocking somebody (albeit with a hold, it looks like). (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan hasn’t had a great season. In fact, this Sports Illustrated story ranks him only 17th among NFL QBs this season (albeit, that seems a bit harsh).

But it’s fair to suggest that at least some of Ryan’s problems stem from poor protection — he has been sacked 18 times in seven games — and that leads me to the subject of this blog: left tackle Sam Baker.

Baker is shaping up as one of general manager Thomas Dimitroff’s few personnel mistakes — and certainly his biggest. Coach Mike Smith said Wednesday that Baker will miss another three-to-four weeks with a back injury. Baker already has missed one game this season, and was mediocre in the other six. He also missed two games in 2009 with an elbow injury. He was limited to eight games (five starts) as a rookie, largely because of back issues.

The Falcons spent their first pick in 2008 on Ryan. Dimitroff …

Continue reading One reason for Ryan’s struggles: Sam Baker (hurt again) »

Crowell, others suspended — Dogs don’t need this now (UPDATED)

This already is the second time Isaiah Crowell has run into trouble. (Jason Getz/AJC)

This already is the second time Isaiah Crowell has run into trouble. (Jason Getz/AJC)

(Updated with confirmation of failed drug tests)

Timing is everything.

A few days following Georgia’s biggest win of the season over its greatest tormentors (Florida), the Bulldogs suspended three tailbacks, including Isaiah Crowell, for the next game. But because Saturday’s opponent is New Mexico State, half the team could be suspended, and it wouldn’t make a difference in the result. It just means that with the team now down four running backs, quarterback Aaron Murray’s favorite call in the huddle will sound something like this: “Everybody go out!”

But, yes — timing is everything, and for Georgia this stinks.

The Dogs have won six straight. They’ve started to distance themselves from a 0-2 start. But now the news is not about the team being on a roll and possibly running the table for the next four weeks and winning the SEC Eastern Division. Rather, it’s about three players veering off …

Continue reading Crowell, others suspended — Dogs don’t need this now (UPDATED) »

Lowe aside, Braves’ offseason may lack major moves

Frank Wren's next move will be lower profile than the Derek Lowe signing.

Frank Wren and Derek Lowe did not have a news conference to say goodbye. (Brant Sanderlin)

The St. Louis Cardinals made the playoffs on the final day of the season only because the Braves collapsed, but won the World Series. So there’s a school of thought that maybe if the Braves had won just one more game during that 10-20 stretch and won the wild card spot, they also could have won it all.

Maybe. But probably not.

Which leads to this question: Do the Braves need to make a major move this offseason?

General manager Frank Wren made the right decision dealing pitcher Derek Lowe to Cleveland so early. With the trade of Lowe to Cleveland (which will pay $5 million of his $15 million contract) and the $1.25 million buyout of Nate McLouth (instead of a $10.65 million option year salary), Wren has a better idea of his budget long before baseball’s winter meetings Dec. 5-8.

But to do something major would necessitate moving a major player out of the starting lineup. That’s probably …

Continue reading Lowe aside, Braves’ offseason may lack major moves »