Archive for July, 2009

Coming soon: MB goes live from the Bulldog Club meeting

So I’m sitting in my AJC Brainstorming session — it’s Day 1, with two more to come — and I just got, of all things, a brainstorm.

I’m going to the Bulldog Club of Greater Atlanta meeting tonight at the Cobb Galleria, and I’ll be blogging live from it.

A word or two about this particular Bulldog Club gathering: I’ve been to a half-dozen in the quarter-century I’ve worked here, and I always find it educational. Sometimes we as jaded journalists forget just how big college football is in this city, but the Atlanta convocation always serves as my personal reminder.

I’ve seen all four Georgia football coaches of my quarter-century — Dooley, Goff, Donnan and Richt — appear at this meeting, and the dynamic has always been fascinating. Dooley was revered; Goff was liked but not respected; Donnan was respected but not particularly liked; Richt is both respected and liked.

I was there the night Richt, coming off the 2002 SEC championship, yielded the final spot in the speaking order to …

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Bradley’s Buzz: There’s something fishy about Joe Cox

New Georgia QB likes Tiger, Halle and bass

You know Joe Cox — he’s taking over for Matthew Stafford as Georgia’s quarterback; he has red hair and a redhead’s temper. But do you really know Joe Cox? Do you, for instance, know who his “dream date” would be? Hint: She has won Best Actress.

No, not Helen Mirren. Halle Berry.

This nugget and more come to us from esteemed former colleague Jeff D’Alessio of Sporting News Today, who last week made J.C. of UGA the subject of SNT’s “My Profile.” (D’Alessio is famous in the biz for such daily touches — he did the “Gimme Five” feature for the ol’ AJC’s sports section for years.) And here are some revelations offered up by Cox himself:

He likes Young Jeezy and Gucci Mane. He drives a gold 2002 Altima. (Gold? Wrong school, Joe.) He doesn’t always check his voice mail. He likes Tiger Woods. But what he really likes is bass fishing.

He has a 10-pound bass he caught mounted on his bedroom wall. No. 2 on his “bucket list” is to “catch a …

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T.O. and I agree: Vick shouldn’t be re-suspended

Michael Vick was suspended by the NFL on Aug. 24, 2007 and remains suspended to this day. That’s 23 months (plus three days) of a suspension that ran almost concurrent to a 20-month jail sentence (reduced from 23 months for good behavior). That is, in a word, enough.

So far as we know, Michael Vick has broken no law since he reported to Leavenworth. So far as we know, he hasn’t further violated the NFL’s code of conduct. Currently speculation holds that commissioner Roger Goodell wants to clear Vick to sign with a team and participate in training camp — but then suspend him for the first four games of the regular season. I’m not a lawyer (though I was accepted to law school 32 years ago), but that seems, to use a legalistic term …

Stupid.

It’s essentially saying, “We know you’ve paid your debt to society, but we’re afraid certain parts of society [read: PETA] will look ill upon us if we let you play on Opening Day. So we’ll tack on another month. Doesn’t matter if you’re as …

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All-Football Friday! The questions facing the Falcons

From 2007, the saddest season on record, to 2008, among the happiest seasons ever: Was it really that easy? Just hire a new general manager and a new coach and sign a new tailback and draft a new quarterback and go from 4-12 to 11-5? This fall is when we find out. This fall we’ll learn if the Falcons are — borrowing a book title from the noted author Arthur M. Blank — built to last or just another one-year wonder. Other questions along that line:

• Is Matt Ryan really that good? So good he’s impervious to a sophomore jinx? So good he can make full use of all the accessories now at his disposal? Did his arm get tired near the end of last season, or did he reach the limit of his capacity?

• Will Michael Turner carry the ball fewer times with the addition of Tony Gonzalez? Will Mike Mularkey be tempted to run it less and throw it more? Given the rebuilding ongoing with the Falcons’ defense, shouldn’t the Falcons run it even more to keep their D off the field? Will Falcons …

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All-Football Friday! The questions facing Georgia

If you believed the polls, Georgia underachieved in 2008. If you believed Mark Richt, he and his staff did a masterful job overcoming a raft of injuries. Almost nobody expects as much from these Bulldogs, which has led some Georgia fans to suggest this might indeed be a big season. Got that? Good. Because we’re about to examine the questions facing the new-look Dogs:

• Is Joe Cox the next D.J. Shockley, who led Georgia to an SEC title after waiting his turn, or the next Joe Tereshinski III, who waited to little avail? Can Cox make the throws Richt requires of his quarterback? Can Cox maximize the talents of A.J. Green and freshman Marlon Brown? Since Green is the Bulldogs’ most gifted player, isn’t it mandatory that Georgia’s quarterback is more than just a game manager? Who takes over if Cox can’t move the team — true freshman Aaron Murray?

• Is Caleb King, of whom Bulldog Nation expects so much, really a first-string SEC tailback? Is Richard Samuel better than King? Is …

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All-Football Friday! The questions facing Georgia Tech

A surprise a year ago, Georgia Tech will surprise us this time only if it stinks. Which it probably won’t. But that doesn’t mean it has no issues. Every team does, and thank goodness. If teams had no issues there’d be no place for folks like me. Forty-three days ahead of its opener against Jacksonville State, here’s what we should be asking about the Jackets:

• Is Paul Johnson’s offense, as Paul Johnson contends, going to make an exponential jump in Year 2? Are there really that many different ways to hand or pitch someone the ball? Or will the going get tougher for the option-based spread the second time through the ACC?

• Will the passing game become more than a diversionary tactic? Does Tech need to bring the disparity between rushing and passing yards — 73 percent of the offense against 27 percent last season — into closer harmony? (Say, 65 to 35?) Will the Jackets, who could well be playing for a championship, throw the ball effectively when the day comes when they’re …

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Bobby Cox: Still cranky after all these years

There are moments when you’d swear he has mellowed. He is, after all, 68. But then one umpire makes one call and the Thumb King reminds us why he is the most-ejected man in the history of humankind.

Bobby Cox posted No. 146 Thursday at Turner Field, and it was a weird sort of ejection. He wasn’t so much outraged as incredulous. A 3-2 Barry Zito curveball to Yunel Escobar in the sixth inning was adjudged Strike 3 by plate umpire Jeff Kellogg, with whom Cox has a history. (Then again, Cox has amassed more history than David McCullough.)

Martin Prado, running on the pitch, was thrown out at second base after appearing to slow on his approach. Thus di what could have been runner-on-first-and-second-with-one-out become nobody on and three out in a tie game.

The manager emerged from the dugout and walked — he did not run — toward Kellogg. At first it was unclear which play Cox was arguing, and afterward those among us in the press box weren’t sure he’d been ejected. (Leaving the …

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Live from the ballpark: Braves put Bradley mojo to test!

I’m here at the ballyard to conduct a grand experiment. I’m here to see if the El Marko mojo still works. (”El Marko” was what Max Baker, who was so addled he nominated me for president of our senior class at Maysville High, occasionally called me.) And my mojo is mighty. From the AJC of Oct. 22, 1996:

“That the Braves are going to win this World Series is apparent. It is also, in the grand scheme, secondary. No longer is this team playing against the overmatched Yankees. The Braves are playing against history … This is the greatest team of the post-free agency era, among the best ever. You can trot out any of baseball’s storied assemblages – the 1927 Yankees, the Gas House Gang, the Big Red Machine – and wonder how these Braves would have fared, but that sword cuts two ways: Would those clubs have seemed so majestic if they’d had to hit against the Braves?”

That was, alas, the zenith — or the nadir — of El Marko’s so-called career. The Braves led that World Series 2-nil. …

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Hot Button: Is Hanson the best Atlanta rookie pitcher ever?

Your attention, please: No Braves pitcher has been named the National League’s rookie of the year. Only two were awarded the (since-discontinued) rookie pitcher of the year award given by The Sporting News: Steve Bedrosian in 1982 and Craig McMurtry in 1983.

At this moment, Tommy Hanson must be considered no worse than the league’s second-best rookie, behind only fellow pitcher J.A. Happ of Philadelphia, who’s 7-0 with an ERA of 2.68. (Colby Rasmus of St. Louis, considered the ealry leader, is hitting .265 with 34 RBIs.) Hanson is 5-0 with a 3.00 ERA. He yielded six earned runs in his first big-league start, 12 in the seven starts since. On Monday he struck out 11 Giants in seven innings. He is, in a word, good.

But even good rookies, as we know, are rookies. Hanson hasn’t hit his rough patch yet, and we’ll see how he fares when he sees an opponent a second time. (His first eight starts have come against eight different clubs.) So there’s your boilerplate disclaimer. And now …

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Why, these Braves might be playing in October after all

I’m starting, again, to think this is going to happen. I thought the Braves were a playoff team when they left Lake Buena Vista, and then I watched the first 80 games and thought, “Wrong again, Brad.” (Bobby Cox, as you know, calls me “Brad.”) But now they’ve won six of seven and they just beat Tim Lincecum and I’m back to where I was in the spring.

The 2009 Atlanta Braves. A wild-card team.

Only three back in the WC standings, if you’d care to check.

What Frank Wren and I thought would happen all along is happening now: The pitching would keep them in every game, and they’d hit enough to win most of those games. The hitting took a while to come around — to be honest, I’d convinced myself it never would — but here it is. And this looks like a real team, a good team, a team that wouldn’t be out of its depth in October.

This isn’t the same team we saw in May, both figuratively and literally. Jordan Schafer and Kelly Johnson are in Class AAA and Jeff Francoeur is a Met. Those …

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