Archive for March, 2012

What’s worse: Saints’ ‘BountyGate’ or Patriots’ ‘Spygate’?

Gregg Williams messed with players' livelihoods.

Gregg Williams messed with players' livelihoods.

Bill Belichick was hammered for taping signals.

Bill Belichick was hammered for taping signals.

The Falcons are about to get some very good news. Their primary competition in the NFC South, the New Orleans Saints, are expected to get slapped by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for a “bounty” program by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

We can’t be sure yet what the penalties will be, but the Saints are expected to lose some high draft picks. Williams, now with the St. Louis Rams, likely will be suspended for several games, possibly the entire season. Both parties also will get fined — which is sort of like Goodell collecting his own bounty.

My initial thought when I heard about the bounty program actually was not one of surprise, but maybe a little disgust. I don’t condone it. I just don’t believe it’s that uncommon. We celebrate football players for hard hits all the way down to the youth level. So we shouldn’t be surprised that a coach or a player is being rewarded …

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My Braves’ camp wrap (and finally, your questions)

For the last time, Chipper Jones is not fat. (David Justice in decent shape, too.) (Jason Getz/AJC)

For the last time, Chipper Jones is not fat. David Justice in decent shape, too. (Jason Getz/AJC)

First, an apology. Before heading down to spring training, I wrote that I would take your questions and give responses. But I kept putting it off and, before I knew it, my week at Camp Bravos was almost over. So rather than go back and answer questions on the original blog post, I figured I would just create a new one.

Below are some of your questions and my answers. If you have any other questions that you haven’t already thrown at David O’Brien, post them below and I’ll answer them as best as I can.

Overall, I liked the vibe in camp. Emotionally, the Braves don’t seem too hungover from last season’s collapse, and the best way I can describe the mood right now is cautious optimism.

But truth is, it’s really impossible to draw conclusions right now. This is spring training. Often you can’t even tell much from spring games, let alone batting practice and bullpen sessions, which is …

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Wagner reminded Kimbrel to learn from last year’s ending

Braves closer Craig Kimbrel has learned from his mentor, Billy Wagner. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Braves closer Craig Kimbrel has learned from his mentor, Billy Wagner. (Jason Getz/AJC)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Having just watched the final out of the final loss of the final-month bloodletting that would crush the Braves’ season, Billy Wagner – retired, but a little sick over matters himself – picked up the phone in his rural Virginia home to call one of the team’s players. He figured Craig Kimbrel would be in need of some emotional counseling.

“It was right after the game,” Wagner said. “I was just going to leave him a voice message, but I was surprised when he actually answered. I think he was still in uniform. I just reminded him of the season he had. I told him what an honor it was for him just to be there. I said, ‘You went out there and it didn’t work out. But you got the greatest gift ever. So learn from it, go back out there next year and don’t beat yourself up.’ He’ll be fine.”

The Braves start playing games again Saturday, albeit a …

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Braves pan Bud Selig’s latest gem — a one-game playoff

Bud Selig has rewritten the "Baseball For Dummies" manual, and a new one-game playoff is just the latest example of bad moves. (AP photo)

The one-game playoff format is straight out of Bud Selig's "Baseball Commissioner For Dummies" manual. (AP photo)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – There’s no need to spend time debating whether Bud Selig is making a good decision any more. It’s more about ranking his degree of nonsensicalness.

Is it worse than leading torch-carrying villagers against former commissioner Fay Vincent (and then taking his job, of course), but probably not as bad as inexplicably preventing the New York Mets from wearing FDNY and NYPD hats on the 10th anniversary of 9/11?

Is it worse than doing nothing about performance-enhancing drug use in baseball until getting humiliated before Congress, but maybe not as lame as deciding that home-field advantage in the most important game of the season (World Series, Game 7) would be determined by the winner of a meaningless exhibition (the All-Star game)?

Where does this gem rank? Major League Baseball is on the verge of approving an expanded playoffs. Sort …

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