Archive for July, 2009

A Tweetin’ Tech man denies Old Tom and the tide of history

Maybe only a Yellow Jacket could have held back the tide of history. Maybe only someone who played at Georgia Tech, which is an underdog in its own state, could have thumbed his nose at the hopes of a globe of golf watchers. Maybe Stewart Cink, who lives in Duluth, was the exact right man to do the exact wrong thing.

The sporting world wanted Tom Watson to win the British Open, and he came as close as you could and not win. One modest putt on the 72nd hole and he’d have lapped what Jack Nicklaus did at Augusta in 1986. The famous Golden Bear comeback Masters came at age 46. On this Sunday in Scotland, Watson was 46 days short of his 60th birthday.

Watson was once the greatest player in the world, but his last major title came in 1983. The 1983 National League Most Valuable Player was Dale Murphy of the Atlanta Braves, who retired from baseball in 1993. The 1983 AL MVP was Cal Ripken Jr., and even the iron man of his sport stopped playing in 2001.

Twenty-six years after the …

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Greg Maddux is nothing but a big phony, I tell you!

Why give him a plaque? He'll just toss it in the back of his car. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Why give him a plaque? He'll just toss it in the car. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

A slew of words have been tossed around these past few days in order to characterize Greg Maddux, and I’d like to add a new one:

Phony.

The man, I’m telling you, was a total fraud. He tried to come off as just another guy trying “to make pitches” and “get guys out,” and there’s a Fox Sports interview from the ’90s — it’s available from YouTube and can be viewed below — in which he discusses what a lousy student he was in high school.

Lousy student. Yeah, right.

Smartest ballplayer ever.

Three hundred fifty-five wins with a fastball that wouldn’t get clocked for speeding on the Downtown Connector. Seventeen consecutive 15-win seasons with pitches that shouldn’t have fooled anybody but bumfuzzled everybody.

The Swiss philosopher Henri-Frederic Amiel (who had a lousy fastball himself) famously said: “Doing easily what others find difficult is talent; doing what is impossible for talent is …

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From the vault: M. Bradley on G. Maddux – April 19, 1994

As a rule, I don’t like re-reading my stuff. (It was bad enough reading it the first time.) But I make an exception because Greg Maddux will be inducted into the Braves’ Hall of Fame tonight and I’ll be there and, of the dozen or so Maddux columns I’ve written over the years, this one I hated least. (And not because I did anything special therein. Because Maddux’s quotes were ace.)

I wrote it early in what would become the Strike Season, the truncated entity that yielded Mad Dog’s third (of four) consecutive Cy Young awards. And I do remember Mr. Ron Martin, then the AJC’s editor, saying he liked this one. So maybe it wasn’t too awful. Anyway, I re-submit it for your approval:

To an artist like Maddux, pitching seems simple

Barbra Streisand once described Andre Agassi, the tennis player from Las Vegas, as a Zen master. Greg Maddux is likewise from Vegas, and doggone if there isn’t a hint of Zen about him, too. He seldom changes expression. When speaking, his voice rises only …

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Our first Guest Blogger: Why Tech will finally win at UVA

Today we present something new on the ol’ MB blog: A post written by someone other than MB. (For many of you, this will represent the best development yet.) Our first Guest Blogger is Matthew Harrison, who won the right to write by answering a trivia question that turned out not to be so trivial. He grew up in Atlanta and lives in Midlothian, Va. He started going to Georgia Tech games at age 5 with his grandfather, who had season tickets.

Matthew’s two favorite things regarding Tech games: “Before the games we would sometimes go to Krystal [or the Varsity]. I remember how excited I was when I could finally eat 2 Krystals! Another thing that was neat? I got to say a bad word at the Tech games with my grandfather. ‘Helluva engineer’ — love that fight song!”

As was part of the guest-blogging arrangement, Matthew got to pick his topic. And here, by golly, it is:

Nineteen years is too long
By Matthew Harrison

In 1990, gas was $1.16 a gallon; “Murphy Brown,” “L.A. Law and “Northern …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Fix the Braves by moving Chipper to 1B?

We’ve all been kicking around what the Braves should do before July 31 — my latest prescription is to do nothing — but Steve Goldman of Baseball Prospectus has a notion that is, as they say, out of the box. Writing for ESPN.com’s Insiders, Goldman suggests the Braves trade for Scott Rolen (link requires registration), the third baseman currently employed by Toronto.

And now you’re asking: Don’t the Braves have a third baseman? Why, yes they do. His name’s Larry. So what should be done with ol’ Larry?

Move him to first base, Goldman maintains. Here’s his reasoning:

“The Braves have been baseball’s most aggressive team in trying to fix what ails them, but even with the recent exile of Jeff Francoeur, there’s work to be done, as the offense remains weak. While Nate McLouth and Ryan Church might help boost aggregate outfield production above its present rank of 28th in the majors, Garret Anderson probably is a lost cause. It also remains to be seen whether Casey Kotchman will ever …

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Tennis player’s successful drug defense: He kissed a girl!

True confession: I haven’t cared about tennis since Bjorn Borg stopped winning Wimbledon. If Roger Federer walked through my living room, I might not recognize him. (I would, however, recognize Maria Sharapova. Not that she has ever stopped by. Although I once attended the same R.E.M. post-tour party as Monica Seles. But I digress.)

I noticed this item only because of one of those AOL home page headlines that are impossible not to click. The headline: “Athlete cleared on cocaine charge; said he ingested it by kissing a girl.”

OK, I clicked. And here’s the deal: Richard Gasquet, a French tennis player, “escaped a lengthy doping ban Wednesday when the International Tennis Federation ruled that he inadvertently took cocaine by kissing a woman in a nightclub.” He had, the Associated Press story goes on to note, “just met [the woman] at the club.”

Gasquet, of whom I’d never heard until this bussing incident, served a 2 1/2-month ban for testing positive but was denied a longer …

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The Hot Button: Glavine, Maddux or Smoltz – who was best?

Tom Glavine was the one who got it all going and who was MVP of the only World Series the Atlanta Braves won, and John Smoltz was the one who saw the run of excellence through until its ridiculously delayed end. They were great pitchers, first-ballot Hall of Famers. Greg Maddux was more than just a great pitcher. He was the greatest of his era — yes, this includes Roger Clemens — and among the five greatest ever.

Glavine had more 20-win seasons (five to Maddux’s two, and one of the two was as a Cub). Smoltz was more utilitarian (a 24-win season and a 55-save season). But Maddux stands above his longtime companions — first among equals, if you will — because of his matchless consistency.

The Braves will induct Mad Dog — or “Doggie,” or, as Bobby Cox sometimes had it, just “Mad” — into their Hall of Fame tomorrow, and such a designation for this particular pitcher seems slightly off. Maddux was never really “famous” in the way Clemens was famous. (Then again, Clemens is now …

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Beefed-up East mightn’t be too brawny for new Hawks

Mike Woodson said it Monday: “Everyone’s loading up in the East.” On paper, that’s true. Each of the Eastern Conference teams that finished ahead of the Hawks have added a bigger name than Jamal Crawford. But games, as we know, aren’t played on you-know-what.

And there’s a chance the Hawks, assuming Marvin Williams returns to their roster or a reasonable facsimile is found in a sign-and-trade, have closed the gap even more. Think of it this way:

1. Cleveland: The Cavs added Shaquille O’Neal, one of the five greatest centers ever. But he’s 37 and he hasn’t played on a team that won a playoff series since Miami took the NBA title in 2006. And, just as he didn’t fit with Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire in Phoenix, there’s no guarantee he’ll mesh with LeBron James in that charming American city on the banks of Lake Erie.

LeBron is the world’s best player because he can get to the rim anytime he wants. Shaq has always been at his best two feet from the rim. Mightn’t the latter gum …

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The five coaches I hated omitting (Benedict Arnold is one)

The trouble with Top 10 lists is, duh, there are only 10 spots. (Tune in next week when I suggest water is indeed wet.) In yesterday’s exhaustively unscientific rundown of my Top 10 college football coaches, there were moments when I thought, “Let’s just make this a Top 15.” But then that would have become a Top 25, and before you know it I’d have a list that includes Ron Zook.

But, in the interest of completeness, I do feel compelled to share these names with you, and — fair warning — one of them will make you throw a shoe at your computer monitor.

11. Jim Grobe, Wake Forest: Look, the guy won an ACC championship at Wake Forest, which to me is bigger than Steve Spurrier winning one at Duke when Florida State hadn’t yet joined the league. And Grobe had to outcoach the mastermind Chan Gailey to do it.

12: Jim Leavitt, South Florida: Every time I say, “There’s no way Georgia State can ever have a decent football team,” I rebut myself by thinking about USF. Leavitt started a …

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Braves should take a trade holiday, not trade for Holliday

Frank Wren is a man in a hurry. That’s his nature. He walks fast. He’s forever fiddling with his BlackBerry. His predecessor gave the impression of having all the time in the world, but this general manager is always in motion. (Perhaps that’s due to their backgrounds: John Schuerholz started as a school teacher, while Wren was a minor-league center fielder.)

Wren’s default mode is to try something. No GM was more aggressive over the winter, and now we arrive at the fortnight when GMs feel duty-bound not just to try something but to do anything. And surely the temptation of Wren will be massive as July winds down.

His team is six games out of first place in a division where nothing is settled. The Phillies are so desperate for pitching they signed Pedro Martinez, whose fastball is no longer fast. The Mets are hurting. The Marlins are nothing special. The imp perched on Wren’s shoulder keeps whispering, “One more move and you can win this thing.”

And Wren is, by his very …

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