Archive for August, 2009

Bradley’s Buzz: GT’s Dwyer is on Mel’s board; Tebow isn’t

Dwyer breaks another, and this wasn't even against UGA. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Dwyer breaks another, and this wasn't even against UGA. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

First running back taken in April will be a Jacket

Here’s how big this Mel Kiper Jr. thing has gotten: Mel reveals his first Big Board of the 2010 Draft — which isn’t, as you might surmise, scheduled to occur until next year — and ESPN.com Insiders not only makes a huge deal out of of it but also gives us a feature entitled, “Behind Mel’s First Big Board,” written not by Mel but by Chris Sprow.

Because this is Insiders content, any link requires registration, we’ll do a deep dive — “deep dive” is a buzz phrase I took from last month’s AJC brainstorming — and give you most of the big names. Sam Bradford, the OKlahoma quarterback, is No. I overall. Eric Berry, the Tennessee safety, is No. 2. Carlos Dunlap, the Florida defensive end, is No. 3. Jevan Snead, the Ole Miss quarterback, is No. 7. And Dez Bryant and Russell Okung, a receiver and a tackle from Oklahoma State (which you’ll be seeing in …

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Night NASCAR on a holiday weekend: A hit or a miss?

A night race at venerable Bristol. Looks pretty swell, doesn't it?

A night race at Bristol. Looks pretty swell, huh? (Photo from CaptainThunderRacing.com)

Our geographic clocks — we do live in the South — are synchronized to Sept. 5, which is the first big Saturday of the college football season. Georgia’s at Oklahoma State that day for a game the Bulldogs may or may not lose 387-24. Georgia Tech opens at home against Jacksonville State at 1 p.m. and seven hours later Alabama plays Virginia Tech underneath the Dome. But you know all this already.

What I’m wondering now is if we Atlantans know, or care, that a major NASCAR development will be held at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sept. 6. This installment of the Pep Boys 500 will be the first night Cup race in track history, and Ed Clark and the AMS folks have huge hopes for this event.

You know me: I’d rather be wrong than wishy-washy. (Explains a lot, huh?) But I could see this one going either way. I could see it become a holiday weekend staple — night racing in the A-T-L on Labor Day eve — and …

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The 2009 Falcons: A slow start yields to a furious finish

Good news: The team is accustomed to its coaches, and vice versa. Bad news: The schedule is much more difficult. Good news: The defense is faster. Bad news: The defense is younger. What will it all mean for the 2009 Falcons? Something like this:

Miami, Sept. 13: The first pass of Matt Ryan’s first season went for a touchdown. The second pass of his second season will do likewise. This won’t become a negative until he’s as old as George Blanda. Falcons 27, Dolphins 17.

Carolina, Sept. 20: Here’s what we private detectives call a red herring. The Panthers come to the Dome, exploit the Falcons’ remade secondary and lay early claim to the NFC South title. Panthers 23, Falcons 17.

At New England, Sept. 27: Speaking of an exploited secondary, here come Messrs. Brady and Moss and Welker, and there go 41 big fat points up on the ol’ Foxborough scoreboard. Patriots 41, Falcons 14.

At San Francisco, Oct. 11: The Falcons come off their bye and begin to put things right. And didn’t the …

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T. Boone’s line on UGA-OSU: Cowboys by 363 points

I’ve picked Georgia to lose to Oklahoma State by 10 points. T. Boone Pickens, who has more money than Arthur Blank and I put together, likes Georgia to lose by 363 points.

When I read T. Boone’s “predicted” score of 387-24 in a post by Terrance Harris on Fanhouse — thanks to observant reader Dink for the tip — my first thought was that the oil wildcatter has obviously been scouting Willie Martinez. But after reading Dave Sittler’s original column in the Tulsa World, I’m not sure this was an actual prediction. Sittler used the word “requested,” which is a bit different.

Example: I would like to request that Mr. Pickens give me 165 million bucks, but I’m not predicting he will.

T. Boone is 81. (He and the fourth Mrs. Pickens traveled to Athens in 2007 when OSU lost to the Bulldogs. Both Boone — his pals drop the “T” — and Madeleine spent some time in the press box. They seemed nice.) Three years ago the oilman gave the OSU athletics department $165 million. The refurbished …

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Dick’s to Vick: We say ‘nix’ to your jersey, sort of

From Sam Wood of the Philadelphia Inquirer comes this predictable news: Dick’s Sporting Goods will not stock Michael Vick’s new No. 7 Eagles jersey until the chain, according to a spokesman, “evaluate(s) the reaction of Eagles fans.”

Wood quotes Jeff Hennion, Dick’s chief marketing officer, thusly: “Right now we don’t know how much of a demand there is for [the jersey]. If there is a demand for it, we’ll sell it.”

I have three words for Dick’s. Those words:

Are you serious?

The Vick jersey will be the hottest seller of the year, hotter even than Brett Favre’s purple No. 4. NFLShop.com is selling Vick’s jersey, which tells us the league itself isn’t backing away from making money off No. 7. Were Dick’s taking a iron-clad stand on moral grounds, that would be understandable. (Self-righteous, but understandable.) To suggest their stores must first test the water is merely a case of trying to cover one’s corporate assets.

Dick’s wants to be able to say to PETA: “Look, we resisted …

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The Hot Button: Can Bobby Cox handle a pitching staff?

You know, I don’t just write these little posts. I listen to what you folks have to say about them. And in the wake of the Mets’ eight-run inning against Derek Lowe on Tuesday — not to be confused with the Braves’ eight-run inning against Bobby Parnell on Wednesday — the matter of Bobby Cox and his pitchers arose yet again.

I would suggest a check of the Braves’ team ERA over the fullness of time stands as powerful evidence that Cox does indeed know how to wrangle pitchers. From 1991 through 2002, the Braves finished first, second or third in the National League in ERA every blessed season. The only way that happens is if a staff stays healthy. The only way a staff stays healthy is if the guy in charge doesn’t overwork his men.

I know, I know. Cox had Leo Mazzone rockin’ beside him back then, and it was only after the 2002 season that the Hall of Fame rotation came unstuck — Glavine left for the Mets and Millwood was traded to Philly — and the Braves’ pitching hasn’t been …

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Tony Gonzalez: A high motor chugs on alternative fuel

Regardless of the occupation, it’s always a treat to watch a pro at work. Tony Gonzalez is a pro’s pro. A tiny example:

After practice Tuesday morning, the Falcons’ tight ends gathered around Chris Scelfo, their position coach, for extra work. Taking turns, each slipped on a harness tethered by one of those heavy-duty resistance bands and ran with the ball while being tugged the other way. (Think of this as the John Mackey drill. The greatest-ever tight end would routinely lug defenders for 10-yard ride-alongs.)

It was tough going, and all four were chugging hard. Chugging hardest without seeming to chug at all was Gonzalez, who’s in the discussion when the subject is greatest-ever tight ends. He emits effort without appearing to emit anything at all. In football argot, he has a high motor that runs smooth.

He’s also, as you doubtless know, particular about what he eats. He’s not quite a strict vegetarian, but he’s close. He has just published a book — “The All-Pro Diet: Lose …

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Joe Smith to the Hawks? If it happens, it’s no big deal

It has been reported in many places that Joe Smith has signed with the Hawks. According to esteemed colleague and soon-to-be mayor of Smyrna Sekou Smith, Joe Smith hasn’t yet. It wouldn’t bother me if he doesn’t.

Because Joe Smith, at this stage of his career, is just another guy named Smith. (Not that guys named Smith can’t be big-time players. Josh Smith is. And not that a guy named Smith can’t be the best beat writer in the NBA. Sekou is.)

But Joe Smith is 34 and has already played for nine different teams. Last season he played for a bad team (Oklahoma City) and averaged 6.6 points and 4.6 rebounds and then went to a good one (Cleveland) and averaged 6.5 and 4.7.

And for all of you who are shouting, “But he’s a big man! The Hawks need a big man!” … he’s big only in theory. He’s a power forward. He shoots little jump shots. He’s no taller than Al Horford and considerably skinnier. Not to mention 11 years older.

At best, Smith is a 10-to-12 minute guy who can man a position …

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The SEC in 2009: Every game picked, one or two correctly!

We’re 17 days from kickoff, and already I know how The Only League That Matters will go. I know because I’ve applied the special Bradley brand of forecasting and come up with this detailed look at the SEC in 2009. Read it quickly, lest I run afoul of the league’s new media policy. (Section 3-a-iii: No writer can mention our school’s names without first slipping Verne Lundquist 10 bucks.)

SEC East

1. Florida: I don’t know how Urban Meyer does it. Every other year he takes a bunch of no-names and wins the national championship. This year, however, he’ll fall just short. He’ll win the first 13 games and then lose No. 14. Regular season: 12-0. SEC title game: Beats LSU. BCS title game: Loses to Texas.

2. Georgia: Joe Cox will be better than Joe Tereshinski III but less good than D.J. Shockley. A loss in Stillwater on Sept. 5 will set the tone for a solid season by most standards but a middling one by Mark Richt’s. Regular season: 8-4, losses to Oklahoma State, LSU, Florida and …

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The Braves’ Prado gets dizzy, and I think, “Esasky”

Esteemed colleague Dave O’Brien reports Martin Prado is returning to Atlanta to see what’s causing his headaches and dizzy spells, and if you’re a student of Braves’ history you’re concerned. You’re concerned because of two words:

Nick Esasky.

You young folks won’t remember the name, and you old-timers might have forgotten it. Because Nick Esasky wasn’t a Brave long. He played nine games in 1990.  Then he developed vertigo. He never played another game.

This came at a time when nothing had gone right for the Braves for so long you figured this was simply par for the overgrown course. The team hadn’t had a winning season since 1983 and had pretty much sworn off any big offseason moves after Bobby Cox — then the general manager — got burned in the Steve Bedrosian swap of December 1985. (On cue, Bedrosian won the 1987 Cy Young Award as a Phil.)

But in November 1989 the Braves gathered their courage and their money and signed Esasky, who grew up in Marietta and who was coming off …

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