Not for the first time, I’m in the distinct minority. I believe the undefeated Braves will win 88 more games and the wild card. Almost nobody else does.
This is the time of year when the big Web sites poll their experts, and the raw data isn’t promising for the local nine. Of ESPN.com’s 21 baseball analysts, only two see the Braves making the playoffs. Of SI.com’s 13 baseball pundits, not one does. (Though, intriguingly enough, three different Braves are tabbed as rookie of the year — Jordan Schafer, Tommy Hanson and the 33-year-old Kenshin Kawakami.) Of CBSsports.com’s four baseball analysts, two have the Braves finishing third in the NL East and two have them fourth.
As for power rankings: Sporting News Today puts the Braves 15th among the 30 big-league clubs; USA Today has them 14th, and ESPN has them 11th. But Jayson Stark of ESPN does call the Braves “the best team nobody is talking about,” and Stan McNeal of Sporting News Today does endorse Bobby Cox for manager of the year.
Oh, and in the first (but surely not the last) Buzz invocation of Facebook, I should note that esteemed former colleague Gerry Fraley, who now corresponds for only the finest publications, posted this on FB at 3:59 p.m. Friday: “Best team in Florida this spring: Atlanta.”
It has gotten so bad for the former No. 7 that he can’t even go broke properly. Lester Munson of ESPN.com calls Judge Frank Santoro’s rejection of Vick’s reorganization plan a “serious” setback, and Munson believes Santoro “was not impressed with Vick’s story of true remorse.” And if Vick and his lawyers couldn’t sway a judge, Munson asks, how will they persuade NFL commissioner Roger Goodell?
Writing for CBSsports.com, Clark Judge analyzes the Falcons and sees a need for starting defensive linemen and linebackers. This would seem to dovetail with last week’s Buzz, which addressed the possibility of Atlanta drafting the Missouri DT Evander (Ziggy) Hood. But in his latest mock draft, Don Banks of SI.com has the Falcons picking tight end Brandon Pettigrew.Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.
More Banks: He has Matthew Stafford going No. 4 overall to Seattle, and he doesn’t have either Knowshon Moreno or Michael Johnson going in Round 1. (Me, I think Knowshon’s a Round 1 lock. But maybe that’s just me.)
Les Miles and the English language (Part 3)
Nobody in the world — not Salman Rushdie, not Philip Roth, not John Ashbery — uses adverbs with the flair of the LSU coach. For most football men, a bon mot is saying, “We’ll have to watch the tape.” Not for our Leslie. In an interview with Matt Crossman of Sporting News Today, Miles breaks out another beauty. Ready?
Miles: “The new staff that was hired on the defensive side has really been bringing in what responsibly has to be a new approach.”
And even when Linguistic Les eschews the adverbial, he remains a threat: “To be frank, any loss is a miserable event. The opportunity to minimize that experience is what we’re all about.”
In “Up on Cripple Creek,” the Band’s Levon Helm sings of his paramour Bessie and her feeling about the humorist/vocalist Spike Jones: “She said, ‘I can’t take the way he sings, but I love to hear him talk.’ ”
I have no idea if Les Miles can sing — actually, I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if he’s another Perry Como — but I do love hearing the man talk.