Hello there. I’m at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where a goodly crowd has already gathered in preparation for tonight’s Pep Boys 500, which will be a significant gasoline-driven event in local annals. It is, as you’re aware, the first night Cup race in track history, and hopes, as they say, are high.
But because this is NASCAR and we car-racing veterans know to get to the track early lest ye sit in traffic worse than the seventh circle of Hades, I’m here with time to burn. And I’d like to spend it with you, dear readers. I’d like to give you my impressions of a fairly eventful weekend in Atlanta sports doings, and I’d be greatly interested in hearing your feelings. So here goes:
Georgia: I wasn’t shocked the Bulldogs lost. I was shocked they lost the way they did: Rather routinely after having jumped out to the necessary on-the-road start. Oklahoma State seemed determined to choke on that game, but the Cowboys were let off the proverbial hook.
I’ve already folks say Georgia is now destined to start 0-3, which it won’t. I think Georgia will be OK — not great, but OK. Just because Joe Cox didn’t overwhelm in his second career start doesn’t mean he’s in over his head. He’ll get better. But the annual loss of Trinton Sturdivant is again a major debit, and I still wonder about Willie Martinez’s defense. (No takeaways, no sacks.)
It’s difficult to extrapolate overmuch from any one game, especially a road loss to a top 10 opponent, but I saw nothing Saturday to contradict my belief that the Bulldogs have lost an edge. This is not the program of five years ago.
Braves: A week ago I was saying they had a good shot. They’re about down to a last shot, and it’s a 45-footer off the wrong foot. (Basketball metaphor.) They’ve lost ground at a time when you can’t reasonably expect to regain anything. As has been the story of the season, they lost ground because they can’t hit.
They’re tied with Cincinnati in the seventh as I write, and one more loss to the Redlegs might just do it. Never thought I’d be saying this the day before Labor Day, but that’s what four consecutive losses will do.
D.J. Shockley: Not to sound smart, but you could see this coming. He hadn’t yet played in a regular-season game, and he was drafted in 2006. He had worked under three coaching staffs and two general managers, and nobody seemed to regard him as a viable NFL starter. He was hugely popular among his mates — he and Matt Ryan are big buddies — but Shockley didn’t get enough chances and didn’t show enough when he did.
Give the Falcons some credit. The easier and more popular course would have been to keep Shockley and cut John Parker Wilson. But the folks in Flowery Branch aren’t running a UGA alumni chapter; they’re trying to put together the best roster they can. They like Wilson more than they like Shockley, and they acted professionally.
NASCAR: I’m not very good at estimating crowds, but I’m thinking there will be a good one on hand here tonight. Far better than at the spring race, and probably good enough to justify Ed Clark’s gamble. The track president traded a spot in the Chase for a shot at a night race on Labor Day weekend in the hopes that this could become a destination-type event. I’m guessing he’ll be pleased with the inital results.
OK, enough of me. I’ll be here for a couple of hours or so — I’ve got nowhere to go until I start working on a bit of Pep Boys writing for tomorrow’s AJC — and I’d be happy to discuss any and everything with you. Otherwise I’ll have to do something drastic. Like read a book. Or take a nap.