Bradley’s Buzz: Not much spring love for new-look Braves

The Bravos’ bandwagon? It’s not yet rolling

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.”

Michael Dwayne Vick in (another) legal fix

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?

More draft! More draft!

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.

138 comments Add your comment

Getaway

April 6th, 2009
7:17 am

The national media rarely has any valuable insight. They boldly predict the Yankees or the Red Sox. How many saw Tampa Bay coming out last year?

FalconUGAFan

April 6th, 2009
7:24 am

Hmm, they may take notice of the Braves after last night. Long season, though…

Mark Bradley

April 6th, 2009
7:25 am

Only 161 more games to go, from what I understand.

matt_T

April 6th, 2009
8:23 am

I’d rather sneak up on people than fall flat on our face after being picked for the World Series by Jayson Stark, and Peter Gammons.

Leland

April 6th, 2009
9:03 am

Dear Mr. MB–it’s not true that some people can’t predict the future. Most of them can’t, even when they know what they’re talking about. Your pal, Leland

NC Braves Fan

April 6th, 2009
9:15 am

Hopefully last night is a positive sign of things to come. That opening night ESPN game against the Nationals last year was a brutal loss, and it seemed to set the stage for what unfolded thereafter.

Maybe last night is a sign that the baseball gods will be a little kinder to the Braves this year.

Dr. Warren

April 6th, 2009
9:18 am

Adverbs are rarely needed in good writing. Let me rephrase: Good writing requires few adverbs. Go Braves…quickly?? competently??

MatthewH

April 6th, 2009
9:23 am

This is why I waste time at work reading this blog-The Braves, NFL Draft, college football and a reference for The Band. Where else can I get that?

dap01

April 6th, 2009
9:33 am

Does ESPN really think that all of America is interested in the teams from the Northeast? There are other teams other than Boston and NY.

Left to Right

April 6th, 2009
9:34 am

Mea culpa regarding your column on Anthony Grant (Damon Evans Hire Anthony Grant Now) a couple of weeks ago. I believed there would be a a number of well-known coaches who would be interested in the possibilities of Georgia basketball and the large amount of money Damon Evans was willing to spend. But I underestimated the amount of damage that has been done to the Georgia basketball brand by Adams and Dooley. As it turns out, there was not the level of interest I anticipated. But I do believe Fox can be successful at Georgia. As David Ching of the Athens Banner Herald points out, Fox has had 5 players he coached reach the NBA. He has also won as much as Grant did at VCU (and please don’t tell me the Colonial is a tougher conference-one fluke run by George Mason does not a conference make). It will be interesting to see how well they both do over the next 4 years.

Wildcard

April 6th, 2009
9:36 am

Blindog

April 6th, 2009
9:36 am

The Braves looked good last, man, it feels good watching the Braves again.I don’t like Johnson batting lead off,MARK,what would your opening day line-up look like?

Dennis C. Brown

April 6th, 2009
9:42 am

Give the young Turks a chance and we might be pleasantly surprised. Last night was a thrill for those of use thirsty for signs of the past. McCann, Escobar and Kelly are legit, Francouer and Kotchman need to come through, and pitching a question as always. But Lowe sure looked awesome last night and while Gonzalez made it frightingly interesting, he came through, Schafer’s home run opened my eyes, and Jones – well he’s Chipper. Looked as good as ever last night. Hopefully we can get a 100 good games out of him this year. My Brave’s enthusiasm has them a legit contender and fighting for the division title this year and overall, certainly higher than the middle of the pack that the so-called “experts” pick them to finish.

Ryno

April 6th, 2009
9:44 am

Go Braves Go!

Mark – so far, so good on your call for an MVP award for Brian McCann.
Although, I was more pleased to see that Chipper seems to be close to 100%. Nice hits last night from him.

Do you have any idea how Garrett Anderson is fitting in with the team? He seems to be a quiet, no-nonsense guy, like the rest of the Braves. I hope he adds some great veteren chemistry in the dugout. We need more guys with World Series experience!

Little Brave

April 6th, 2009
9:44 am

Now, if they can repeat their accomplishments of the opening game in game #2 and #3, things may be brighter for our “new Braves”. Winning three of four would be NICE!!!

The_Superhoo

April 6th, 2009
9:44 am

i want Johnson leading off EVERY GAME. he’s the man for the job right now.

Little Brave

April 6th, 2009
9:46 am

Four of four against the WCs may wake up some people . . .

Reid in EAV

April 6th, 2009
9:46 am

I, for one, am complete happy and at ease with the national media ignoring the Braves. It’d only bother me if I felt that, deep down, they were onto something. And honestly, I don’t believe they do. Just in the rotation alone, we’re far better than the 72-win team of last year.

So here’s from being the surprise from outta left field. Let ‘em ignore us until after the All-Star break, or even longer. (After all, what does a preseason assessment get you? Absolutely nothing but a few short-lived bragging rights.) Fine with me, as long as we’re there in October. And I think we’re going to be.

Tech sucks

April 6th, 2009
9:46 am

Knowshon not going in the 1st round is laughable. If you voted No, you are an idiot.

Reid in EAV

April 6th, 2009
9:48 am

That should say completeLY happy… (Sorry, I write and edit for a living. It bothers me.)

marseilles mutt

April 6th, 2009
9:48 am

Judging from the few comments and, contrary to popular belief, it appears that there is hope and that at least a major portion of your readership actually have jobs.

Great win, great article and a lot of impressive potpourri for a Monday. Ought to satisfy even the most jaded of your bloggers. ( After having said that, now get ready for the MB you are and idiot routine!)

Still have to respectfully disagree with you however; I don’t think Francouer has to positively have a banner year for this team to be successful. Two reasons: Anderson and other options on the bench. I suppose the caveat would be if BC feels comfortable using them.

Great start! Too bad we are not playing today.

PS- Three to four inches of snow last night. Please have some good weather for G Day!

Reid in EAV

April 6th, 2009
9:49 am

Tech sucks, I don’t think this is the blog you’re looking for.

pat

April 6th, 2009
9:50 am

I’d prefer to stay under the radar. And somebody please kick Joe Morgan in the nuts….Evertime he opens his mouth some thing stupid comes out of it.

Bill

April 6th, 2009
9:50 am

Great job Mark. I believe the Braves will win 85-90 games if Chipper plays 135 games. If bullpen can get the job done. (my opinion closer not that great)If Frenchy can bounce back. The Braves after last three years have alot to prove.

Falcons will draft a good player because they have a GM that knows
his job.

Your 7:25= One win or good game doesn’t make a season. How true that is.

Go Braves, Falcons, Hawks, GT, UGA, and go away Paul Hewitt.

Blackberry Cobbler

April 6th, 2009
9:56 am

There is no reason for the national media to jump on a Braves bandwagon. The Braves are still a big, big question mark. A good, but not real good starting rotation, question marks in the bullpen, an aging and injury-prone Chipper Jones, and a big question mark as to whether or not Francouer will have a better year than last year. Facts are the Braves are far from playoff material. They are potentially a better team than last year but there’s no reason for the media to be in love with the 2009 edition of the Braves.

Keeper

April 6th, 2009
10:18 am

aka Mr. Bill, aka Sarah Grace’s dad (I took this screen name in pre-Facebook days when Wendy Parker was breaking AJC blog ground, though back then I’m pretty sure it was only because no one thought soccer deserved print space, rather than any strategic push to be interactive)

Anyway, my opinion is you’re being too conservative, Mark – not that I blame you after last year. But this is the year the sleeping giant awakens. The lack of national respect will only help the Braves sustain focus over 162 games, and pitching will take care of the rest. Phillies realize what life is like with a bulls-eye on their backs and can’t cope; Mets crumble because, well, they’re the Mets, regardless of talent; Florida gives it a good run, but they don’t have Bobby Cox. Meanwhile, we’re flush with pitching and have a perfect balance of veterans and fresh, eager talent – sort of like ‘91, eh? In ‘09, we reclaim the NL East as Braves property.

Mark Bradley

April 6th, 2009
10:20 am

Thanks, Bill. Hey, Leland. And Dr. Warren, you’re absolutely, positively correct about adverbs.

GeoffDawg

April 6th, 2009
10:20 am

“Les Miles is a classless jerk and I love to hear him shut up.” Must be opposite day.

Mark Bradley

April 6th, 2009
10:22 am

And Ryno, I have to admit that when McCann hit the home run in the first inning I thought, “See? He’s already the leading MVP contender.”

ssiscribe

April 6th, 2009
10:22 am

For what it’s worth — and it’s probably not worth much, because I don’t like him — but Skip Bayless on ESPN First Take just picked the Braves to win the pennant and go to the World Series, losing to the Red Sox.

He cites Lowe, Chipper, Cox, and the young talent as to why he’s going with Atlanta.

Just thought I’d share.

The Scribe abides.

–30–

bravofan

April 6th, 2009
10:24 am

Lowe was stunning 2 hits through 8 innings! Gonzo scared me at the end I kept thinking he looked very nervous but i gotta hand it to the guy he settled down and slammed the door shut. To beat the world champs forst game of the season off to a good start!!!!

Mark Bradley

April 6th, 2009
10:30 am

Now we’ve got bloggers (meaning Left to Right) doing mea culpas — is this not the place for confessing one’s misfired predictions or what?

Of course, nobody has as much to confess on that front as I do.

Mark Bradley

April 6th, 2009
10:34 am

Thanks for the insight, Keeper. I agree about the Phils and the Fish. About the Mets, I’m not yet sure.

Brad in Jasper

April 6th, 2009
10:43 am

“Up on Cripple Creek ….. If I spring a leak….” Thanks, Mark. Now I have an earworm for the day. Go Braves! End the season NOW!!!!

Mark Bradley

April 6th, 2009
10:50 am

That is one infectious ditty, Brad. (Me, I always try to imitate Levon’s voice, which is impossible, when I sing along.)

ND

April 6th, 2009
10:57 am

Mark, do you know what Schafer had to give up to the fan who caught his HR? They didn’t throw that one back like the did BM and JF I don’t think.

Mark Bradley

April 6th, 2009
11:06 am

I don’t know for sure, ND, but it’s usually a bat and an autograph.

WestPalmDawg

April 6th, 2009
11:28 am

Yeah, I hate thinking like this, but we could technically go 1-161. Ouch

Baba O'Riley

April 6th, 2009
11:30 am

WestPalmDawg- I live in Jupiter. S’posed to get a bit cooler here tomorrow.

spotts

April 6th, 2009
11:31 am

Go ahead and call me a wet blanket, but I hope Schafer’s night last night doesn’t give people the expectation that he’ll be like this all year. Rookies not named Albert Pujols typically struggle at the plate early on.

Mark Bradley

April 6th, 2009
11:39 am

You mean Schafer isn’t going to hit a home run every game? Send the bum down!

scott

April 6th, 2009
11:44 am

i can’t wait to see Schafer’s speed on the basepaths and in center. I hope that he quickly matures into the leadoff spot–would be nice to see the Braves become a base-stealing team . . .with Escobar, Schafer, and Kelly J et al, is it possible?

spotts

April 6th, 2009
11:51 am

no no….I know that Schafer WILL be good. I’ve just seen fans on these blogs make impulse impressions based on one game. Some people might call for his head when he hits about .250 in April and doesn’t keep his 162 HR, .667 pace.

Dr. Warren

April 6th, 2009
12:02 pm

Most certainly, a finely conceived rejoinder by the AJC wordsmith!

marseilles mutt

April 6th, 2009
12:05 pm

ssiscribe

Haven’t seen the ‘30′ sig on a column for some time. Nor have I heard someone sign off with “…and that’s the three o for tonight…”.

Good memories! Thanks.

Thomas

April 6th, 2009
12:13 pm

well peter gammons thinks very highly of us, he picked the mets to win the east and i think the Phils to win the wild card and after he said that he said do not count out the braves, theyre going to be very good this year

Mark Bradley

April 6th, 2009
12:15 pm

Why, thanks, Doctor.

And Marseilles, I’ve been in this business since 1977 — when we were using telecopiers to transmit stories — and I’ve never put “30″ at the end of my stories. But I do remember a newscaster somewhere — in Lexington, perhaps, or maybe Cincy — signing off with “and that’s 30 and good evening.”

Charlotte Mike

April 6th, 2009
12:23 pm

Great looking game by the Bravos last night. Although obviously Schafer won’t play like that every game, you can’t underestimate what it does for a young guy’s confidence. Remember how Jeff took off after he started hot as a rookie?

I really like the Braves to take the Wild Card too, I think the Phils rotation is going to let them down. Mets take the East, but the Braves get in as the WC. Solid bullpen and three proven inning-eaters in the top of the rotation should carry them a long way. Also, I believe I have heard about a very well-regarded 1B in the Braves farm system. Does anybody know if there’s a chance he could get called up if Kotchman doesn’t step his game up? I’d give it a month or so at least before I’d consider it, but even Prado at 1st could be an improvement. He’s looked pretty lost since the minute he put on the tomahawk.

speaking of wordsmiths...

April 6th, 2009
12:23 pm

Shouldn’t the title say “NOT much spring love for the new-look Braves”?

uga_b

April 6th, 2009
12:31 pm

I love mock drafts because at the end of them everyone has taken everyone and no one is wrong. If only work could be like that.