Archive for October, 2009

Michael Vick gets a reality show, but hold the outrage

The Los Angeles Times reports that Michael Vick will star in a reality series on BET, only it really won’t be a reality series. Writes Greg Braxton:

“Producers of the Vick series emphasized the program should be considered a docu-series — not a typical reality show like VH-1’s ‘The T.O. Show,’ which revels in the excesses of its flamboyant star, wide receiver Terrell Owens. The tone of Vick’s show, say producers, will be serious and somber as it focuses on his personal struggles since his release, including the strains on his relationships with his fiancée, Kijafa Frink, and his children. It will also revisit the federal prison in Leavenworth, Kan., where Vick spent 1 1/2 years behind bars and the Virginia property where he ran and financed a dogfighting ring.”

The eight-part series, Braxton reports, is scheduled to air next year and is being financed in part by MV7, Vick’s production company. And it has, you should know, already drawn the boilerplate complaint from our pals …

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Tech and Georgia in the Dome? A capital idea, I say

It might not happen. If you were betting, you’d probably bet against it happening. But I hope it does. I hope Georgia and Georgia Tech play one another in the Georgia Dome.

Try it once. Try it in 2011 at the beginning of the season, as opposed to the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Try it and see how it flies. If both sides agree it’s a dud, then everyone can walk away and go back to the November status quo. But I’m guessing it won’t be a dud.

I’m guessing the game will be good for both schools, good for the Dome, good for Atlanta, good for the state. I’m guessing one turn under the off-white roof will serve to juice a series that’s just getting juicy again. (As we know, Tech-Georgia as a concept only works when there’s the real possibility of Tech winning. Tech won last season and should win again this time. Whoa, Nellie.)

Any change regarding the game will be met with resistance on both sides. Tech fans won’t want to give up a home game. Georgia fans won’t want to play such a …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Sporting News says we’re No. 13! Yes!

Pretend you don't see the guy in the Panthers sweater. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

A nice image. Just pretend you don't see the guy wearing the Panthers sweater in the foreground. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

Get the picture: We’re not as good as Philly or Phoenix, but we’re better than Cleveland. We’re not as good as Miami, but we’re better than Auburn, Ala., or Auburn, N.Y.

We are Atlanta, and we, according to Sporting News, are the 13th-best sports city in these United States. Thirteenth out of 399, I’ll have you know.

I confess: I don’t know that I could name 399 cities, let alone rate them. But SN has made the brave attempt. And here, for purposes of civic pride, is the top 13:

    1. Pittsburgh
    2. Philadelphia
    3. Boston
    4. Chicago + Evanston
    5. Los Angeles
    6. New York
    7. Phoenix + Tempe
    8. Miami
    9. Dallas-Fort Worth
    10. Detroit + Ann Arbor + Ypsilanti
    11. Houston
    12. Nashville
    13. Atlanta

We can, of course, quibble. We’re behind Nashville? With its two pro teams to our four? With its Vanderbilt to our Georgia Tech? But I’m too busy celebrating to carp. I’m …

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Tennessee: The Orange menace that will challenge UGA

History will be made in the big stadium by the river Saturday. For the first time since 1937, Georgia will face Tennessee at a time when neither is ranked. (And the Associated Press poll, it must be noted, was only instituted in 1936.)

Underpinning that bit of trivia is something less trivial: How Tennessee fares in the coming months will have a direct effect on Georgia.

Even in what seems a slightly down season, the Bulldogs are still second-best in the SEC East. Steve Spurrier notwithstanding, South Carolina has proved it’s not going to jump above Georgia, and Vanderbilt and Kentucky provide dual safety nets at the division’s bottom. No matter what happens in Baton Rouge this weekend, Florida has established itself as the nation’s best program. That leaves Tennessee.

The Big Orange is in big flux. It has lost twice to then-unranked opponents in the big stadium by the river, and it managed to treat a double-digit defeat in the Swamp as some sort of victory. We cannot yet know …

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Tech-FSU: A rising power against the ghost ship of football

Paul Johnson told reporters Tuesday he expected Florida State to react to the turbulence surrounding the program by “circling the wagons.” Which assumes wagon-circling can serve as a buffer against turbulence. Which it might not. But I digress.

PJ needn’t worry about Florida State. That ship — if we can graft a maritime metaphor onto a Western one — has sailed. This is now (more metaphor!) a Flying Dutchman of a program. It has a few good players but is woefully coached. It beat BYU, which says something about talent, but fell to South Florida and Boston College and nearly lost to Jacksonville State, which tells us Bobby Bowden has lost the plot.

We can argue at length over whether Georgia Tech’s offense can win a national championship, but we cannot argue that Georgia Tech isn’t a well coached team. Paul Johnson is among the finest football men working. He can fix what’s ailing. His team had a bad night in Miami but a very good one in Starkville, a place where it’s hard to …

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Why the Braves must keep Greg Norton at all costs

True story: My daughter and I were sitting in Section 401 last week the night of the Ricky Nolasco/Matt Diaz game. Elizabeth is 12 and, unlike her father, very smart. She doesn’t follow baseball closely but has played softball and does know how to read a batting average. So, in the bottom of the sixth, I said to her: “The Braves are sending up a pinch-hitter.”

She looked at the scoreboard. She noted the pinch-hitter was hitting .135. She said, “Why are they using him?”

I laughed out loud. I said, “Believe it or not, you aren’t the first to have asked that question.”

Believe it or not, the pinch-hitter struck out. Elizabeth gave me a questioning look. I shrugged. And right there is why I make this plea:

For the sake of father-daughter bonding, the Braves must keep Greg Norton.

Actually, there’s another reason. In the past months, we at AJC.com have seen some key page-view drivers depart. Michael Vick is now an Eagle. Jeff Francoeur plays in New York. (Willie Martinez is still …

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Adam LaRoche: All of a sudden, the Braves really need him

Ol' Rochy and that McGriff-like follow-through. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Ol' Rochy displays that McGriff-like follow-through. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

It was a a walkaway trade. The Braves dealt Casey Kotchman, who didn’t hit enough, for Adam LaRoche, who would presumably hit a bit more and would become a free agent at season’s end. But a funny thing happened on the way to October: Ol’ Rochy, as Bobby Cox famously called him, became the most productive hitter on a team not overrun by productive hitters.

In 57 games as a Brave, LaRoche hit .325 with 12 home runs and 40 RBIs. (If that doesn’t sound like much, consider: In 68 games as a Brave in 1993, the catalytic Fred McGriff hit .310 with 19 homers and 55 RBIs.) And now LaRoche is free to sign elsewhere, and certainly he’ll stir interest. He should stir the Braves’ interest most of all.

With the exception of the one-year rental Mark Teixeira, the Braves haven’t found a big-time first baseman since Andres Galarraga. They’ve tried Rico Brogna, Robert Fick, the ancient Julio Franco, the younger …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Are the Braves the team to beat in 2010?

Expect three of these jerseys to be filled next season. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Expect three of these jerseys to remain filled next season. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

They finished the season on a six-game losing streak and wound up third in the division, but ESPN.com’s Insiders sees the Braves as perhaps the NL East favorite in 2010. (Link requires registration.) Insiders quotes one unnamed “longtime NL scout” as saying, “That’s a team that has the pitching to run down the Phillies next year.”

More from Insiders Buster Olney and Shawn Hoffman:

“Atlanta needs a bopper. It’s maybe the one missing ingredient. The Braves appear poised for a breakthrough season, in what Cox says will be his last year as the team’s manager. Atlanta is flush with starting pitching, from Javier Vazquez to Tommy Hanson, and has some excellent young prospects expected to rise into the major leagues — outfielder Jason Heyward, most notably. A 20-year-old slugger with exceptional plate discipline, Heyward reminded his Double-A manager of Darryl Strawberry. Atlanta is expected by …

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Dooley on penalizing excess: ‘No question it’s a good rule’

It's not as if it hadn't happened before. Note headline on Bisher column.

It's not as if it hadn't happened before. Note the headline on Furman Bisher's column.

When Vince Dooley says he feels your pain, he really feels your pain. He didn’t just sit in Sanford Stadium — by the way, isn’t it high time the thing became Sanford-Dooley Stadium? — and watch Georgia lose to LSU in excruciating fashion Saturday; he sat there knowing a rule he championed helped make it so.

Then Georgia’s athletics director, Vincent J. Dooley was chairman of the NCAA rules committee when it moved in 1995 to make “excessive celebration” a 15-yard penalty. Let the record reflect that Mr. Dooley wasn’t a disinterested party: He lobbied for the rule and defends it to this day. Yes, even after Saturday.

“Sportsmanship had gotten so bad [in the '90s] that we spent one whole year without passing a rule [pertaining to anything else],” Dooley said Monday. “There’s no question it’s a good rule. Guys were watching [NFL players] on Sunday, and the whole thing had gotten choreographed. …

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A midseason assessment of the hard-to-assess Bulldogs

Hope on the horizon: Washaun Ealey. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Hope on the horizon: Washaun Ealey. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Mark Richt said it himself: “It’s been an unusual year in terms of knowing what you’re going to get on a week-to-week basis.” And it has: Georgia yielded 78 points in consecutive games and won both. Georgia yielded only 44 points against two Top 10 opponents and w0n neither time. A midseason appraisal of this strange bunch of Bulldogs:

Plus: The effort has returned. After a strangely tepid performance in Stillwater, the Bulldogs have taken to playing in the full-tilt manner to which we’re accustomed. Indeed, effort was all that kept Georgia in the game against LSU.

Minus: Georgia hasn’t yet run the ball to appreciable effect. Wasn’t the line supposed to be the strength of this offense? Yes, Trinton Sturdivant has been lost again, but didn’t Georgia advertise itself as having six starters for five positions? Isn’t Stacy Searels supposed to be some hotshot line coach? So how come the Bulldogs rank 105th among 120 …

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