Presenting 5 top storylines for Atlanta sports in 2010

Santa Claus will be comin' to town soon enough. Will the Eastern Conference finals follow? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Santa Claus will be comin' to town soon enough. Will the Eastern Conference finals follow? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

1. Will the Hawks reach the Eastern Conference finals? Step by inexorable step, this team keeps moving. It made the playoffs in 2008 and won a series in 2009. Can it do what the Hawks haven’t done since 1970 — when they were based in the West, not the East, and you needed only one series victory fo reach the conference finals — and play for the right to go to the NBA finals? Bradley’s prediction: Yes, they can. Yes, they will.

2. Will Ilya Kovalchuk re-up with the Thrashers? This isn’t so much about a player as it is a franchise. The Thrashers have made a bright start to the season, but all that goes poof if Kovalchuk won’t agree to stay. It has been a decade-long struggle to sell hockey in this Southern city, but if the franchise player leaves, will the franchise itself be long for the A-T-L? Bradley’s prediction: Kovalchuk stays, simply because Don Waddell has to pay him whatever it takes.

3. Will Georgia Tech qualify for a bowl ever better than the Orange? Here’s another story of progress: The Jackets were 9-4 in Year 1 under Paul Johnson and went 11-2 and won the ACC championship in Year 2. The Ramblin’ Wreck,  alas, figures to hit a speed bump. At least two juniors — defensive end Derrick Morgan and B-back Jonathan Dwyer — are apt to leave in the NFL draft, and receiver Demaryius Thomas could join the exodus. And Tech’s defense is at least a year away from anything bigger than a league title. Bradley’s prediction: Tech goes 9-3 and doesn’t win the ACC.

4. Will Georgia ever hire a defensive coordinator, and will he improve on what we’ve just seen? The search now figures to last into the new year, and that’s not necessarily bad news. (No matter how halting the early returns have been.) There’s still a chance Georgia can make a big run at former Bulldog Kirby Smart, who’s coordinating Alabama’s D at the moment, and that would be a significant upgrade. Then again, just about anybody would be. Bradley’s prediction: Georgia hires a big name and sees results immediately.

5. Can Paul Hewitt take Tech on another long NCAA run? It hasn’t happened since 2004, when Hewitt took the Jackets to the NCAA title game, and another big season is long overdue. The deflating loss to Florida State in the ACC opener aside, there’s enough time and resources for something good to happen. And Hewitt, to be frank, needs something good to happen. Bradley’s prediction: The Jackets qualify for the Big Dance as a No. 5 seed and play into the second week, losing in a regional final.

Now what, you’re asking about the Falcons? Well, the biggest story regarding them figures to be decided by Jan. 3, 2010, when we’ll know for sure if the forever-sought consecutive winning seasons have been attained. And the Braves? Well, after the events of today — Javier Vazquez for Melky Cabrera — we might be doomed to another summer of flailing.

216 comments Add your comment

Jamaaliver

December 22nd, 2009
1:29 pm

Enter your comments here

Tom

December 22nd, 2009
1:32 pm

Bobby Cox’s last season seems like a big deal, just my two cents.

Dawgs2009

December 22nd, 2009
1:33 pm

Jeff

December 22nd, 2009
1:33 pm

Hope #2 comes true!!

Dawgs2009

December 22nd, 2009
1:34 pm

dylan

December 22nd, 2009
1:34 pm

$1.4 million vs. our $14 million bowl

December 22nd, 2009
1:36 pm

You can’t spell Shreveport without

Samuel
Hebron
Richt
Ealey
Vance
Evans
Pugh
Owens
Rambo
Troupe

pilgrim

December 22nd, 2009
1:36 pm

Will Georgia and Georgia Tech fans realize all this smack talk is like cousins arguing at Thanksgiving dinner?

Sonny Clusters

December 22nd, 2009
1:36 pm

Something is wrong here. We was wondering how things got messed up? Ol’ Jeff may have rigged some things to mess up while he’s in LA with the gang.

Melky can be like Jeff and have some fans dressed up like milk cartons instead of like franks (we told Jeff they was hot dogs but he said they was franks).

$1.4 million vs. our $14 million bowl

December 22nd, 2009
1:37 pm

You can’t spell Shreveport without

S-amuel
H-ebron
R-icht
E-aley
V-ance
E-vans
P-ugh
O-wens
R-ambo
T-roupe

Hhahahahahahahaha

BravesFan79

December 22nd, 2009
1:39 pm

Cant believe we traded my favorite Braves pitcher to watch! This makes me dislike Lowe and Wren even more!!
And i see GT being a sweet 16 caliber team, (with a Final 4 roster!) due to lack of great assistant coaches on the bench. Not bringing back Keener was a BIG mistake!

Dawgs2009

December 22nd, 2009
1:40 pm

Wea re officially back to the late 1980s for the Atlanta Braves. Turner Field will be a graveyard this year.

jr

December 22nd, 2009
1:41 pm

Melky ok til JHeywards ready…

skip

December 22nd, 2009
1:44 pm

Frank Wren has lost his mind!! Can’t believe the higher ups signed off on this one.

$1.4 million vs. our $14 million bowl

December 22nd, 2009
1:49 pm

pilgrim
“Will Georgia and Georgia Tech fans realize all this smack talk is like cousins arguing at Thanksgiving dinner”?
For me, IT’S EXACTLY LIKE COUSINS ARGUING AT THANKSGIVING DINNER. I ABSOLUTELY HATE ONE SET OF FIRST COUSINS (OBNOXIOS DOG FANS) AND ABSOLUTELY HATE SPENDING THE HOLIDAYS WITH THEM. However, for a lot of the dog nation, it’s also about getting put in their place by Tech then subsequently taking it out on their cousins which in a lot of cases is also their spouse.

Ross

December 22nd, 2009
1:49 pm

Tech hoops dancing? Yellow jackets are now flying from my nether region.

-drl

Hillbilly Deluxe

December 22nd, 2009
1:50 pm

This may not be as bad as the Len Barker fiasco but it’s damn close.

Braves losing it

December 22nd, 2009
1:51 pm

Francouer (spelling) will prove to be a bad one too

Chris

December 22nd, 2009
1:53 pm

“$1.4 million vs. our $14 million bowl” Still doesn’t get it I see. Mark, will you try explaining to him that (A), Tech splits that with the other ACC teams and that (B), UGA will get just as much, if not more, then Tech will from bowl games after the ACC and SEC divide the money up. “$1.4 million vs. our $14 million bowl” please take a look at Tech’s bowl games vs. UGA bowl games from 2002 – January 2009. Feel free to look at the results too.

Ross

December 22nd, 2009
1:53 pm

This may sound petty – but the prospect of hearing Chip Caray say “Melky” something like 162×4 = 600+ times, some of them while the camera zooms in on the blank, soul-emptying stare of LaRoche, with CJ writing his initials with expectorated tobacco juice, fills me with existential horror.

Ted M

December 22nd, 2009
1:53 pm

the yankee’s had a loaded line-up and didn’t need another bat, which is why Melky played so much for them. So we not only lost one of our best pictures we are stuck with even less offense. What a stupid senseless move.

Tiger Woods' Wing Man

December 22nd, 2009
1:54 pm

One thing is a given: Dawgs smack Nerds upside the head again.

Froggy Dawgy

December 22nd, 2009
1:55 pm

The Dawgs got another beatdown in Jacksonville.

Mike Jay

December 22nd, 2009
1:56 pm

Bradly, What about the Atlanta Dream? They might be more compelling than the Braves going forward…unless Heyward makes the opening day roster. Of course what could go wrong with ushering in a ‘can’t miss’ rookie ‘phenom’ in the outfield and depending on them to help the anemic offense. That can only end good, right?

D(r)ooley

December 22nd, 2009
1:57 pm

Any Dawgs in Denial in the house today who say they won the National Title in 2007? Here is a history lesson :

2007 – Tennessee 35 Georgia 14

Tennessee finished the regular season with a 9-3 overall record and a 6-2 record in the SEC Eastern division. They tied with Georgia as champions of the SEC East, however, by virtue of a head-to-head victory over Georgia, the Volunteers were the SEC East representatives in the Championship Game.

National Title Game : LSU(SEC Champions) vs. Ohio State(Big 10 Champions)

Ted M

December 22nd, 2009
1:57 pm

Mark,

When is your next interview with FW?

SHORT BUS

December 22nd, 2009
1:57 pm

HAY BRADY U FORGOT2 MENTON HOW THE FLACONS SENSOR THERE MESSAGE BAORDS WIN SUM 1 COMPALINS OR CRITISISE THE TEAM. 2 ME THATS EVEN BIGER NEWS

Charlie Dalton

December 22nd, 2009
1:58 pm

Mark, I like your predictions. I wish Tech could land Mark Price as an assistant b-ball coach. He’s done wonders for the Hawks. I think the Dawgs will land Kirby Smart.

PDawg

December 22nd, 2009
1:59 pm

Well, at least the Braves got $500,000 cash in the deal….next thing you know Richt will announce he has hired Bill(Willie) Martin(Martinez) as the “new” DC.

Ron Mexico

December 22nd, 2009
2:00 pm

$1.4 million vs. our $14 million bowl – 30 24 HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Dawg44

December 22nd, 2009
2:08 pm

Mark,

You need to help the NCAA finally get to the bottom of all the use of steroids by some of Georgia Tech’s KEY football players. I have many friends in the high school coaching ranks in this state and have been TOLD this is going on. Tech is getting past the testing procedures some how. They are probably PAYING to pass the tests.

Contact me for details.

law dawg

December 22nd, 2009
2:10 pm

“1.4mil v. 14mil” – you seem to be using UGA as a measuring stick for your program, i thought your coach told you not to do that. you guys are better than that, right?

“d(r)ooley” – the dawgs were playing really good ball at the end of 2007, but no reasonable fan would claim they actually won the national title. i have no idea where that came from.

Braves losing it

December 22nd, 2009
2:12 pm

The Len Barker trade was bad but in my opinion slightly worse than the Jeff Francoeur for Ryan Church trade. AND NO TRADE CAN BE AS BAD AS Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, Neftali Feliz, AND Beau Jones for Mark (One Year) Teixeira and Ron (Mayday) Mahay. Trading prospects is ALWAYS a bad idea.

David Granger

December 22nd, 2009
2:13 pm

You’re absolutely right, Ross. Chip Caray, for crying out loud…what a wretched lack of ability. (Basically Erin Andrews without the boobs.) Proof that genetics can oftentimes mean absolutely NOTHING.

Braves losing it

December 22nd, 2009
2:15 pm

I’d like to know exactly how much of that “plus $500,000″ Frank Wren got. Nice Christmas bonus dude at the expense of the fans

richtfan

December 22nd, 2009
2:17 pm

30-24 hahahahahahahahahahahaha

Cuz

December 22nd, 2009
2:18 pm

Will Wommack get the axe after the Orange?

Braves losing it

December 22nd, 2009
2:18 pm

In 10 years, when the Braves are the laughing stock of MLB again, some one will take over and rebuild the franchise through the minor leagues like Bobby Cox did (in Atlanta, then Toronto and then again in Atlanta). A World Series title as well as multiple division championships followed each time.

GT Brill

December 22nd, 2009
2:18 pm

I grew up listening to the Braves on radio. I guess not anymore. 680am after dark ?!?!
I guess if you live across the street from Turner Field you can get the games.

Typical Dawg Fan Here

December 22nd, 2009
2:20 pm

Kirk Heirbstreet Biased Anti-Georgia Reporter

December 21st, 2009
7:58 pm
The problem is, you don’t have to win your conference to get into the Natl Champship game.

Nebraska in 2001, Oklahoma 2003, neither won their conference, but both won a Natl Championship.

Georgia was Natl Champs in 2007

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha

GT Brill

December 22nd, 2009
2:20 pm

And yes 790 is even worse. I don’t even live all the way to Stone Mountain and it disappears after dark. But oddly enough, I can get 870 out of New Orleans almost clear as a bell.

CMR Wins the 2009 George Hamilton Cocoa Butter Open!

December 22nd, 2009
2:21 pm

It’s called “clear channel”, Britt. The FCC sux.

$1.4 million Shreveport vs. our $14 million BCS Orange bowl

December 22nd, 2009
2:21 pm

30-24 = georgia’s first “signature win” since they were voted preseason national champs in 2008. Next year it will be Kentucky or possbly Tennessee Tech.

Hahahahahahahahahahahaha

CMR Wins the 2009 George Hamilton Cocoa Butter Open!

December 22nd, 2009
2:22 pm

Ooops, meant “Brill”.

Brill?

Don Gill

December 22nd, 2009
2:22 pm

Just in time for Christmas. How stupid, stupid can the Braves get? Trading Vasquez for a mediocre hitter. They are filled with mediocre hitters. Sign LaRoche, for crying out loud. He’s the only one that consistently hit wi power last year. And Vasquez was getting close to being as good as John Smoltz in his prime. Just plain stupid.

Not Disappointed

December 22nd, 2009
2:22 pm

Cuz, I hope so…… “Happy Holidays!”

balismith

December 22nd, 2009
2:23 pm

the falcons hawks and bulldogs at least seem to be trying to get better…. the braves seem to be marching to a different tune . maybe more trades are on the way…. seems like the braves just had a brain fart.

Chris

December 22nd, 2009
2:23 pm

“$1.4 million vs. our $14 million bowl” Still doesn’t get it I see. Mark, will you try explaining to him that (A), Tech splits that with the other ACC teams and that (B), UGA will get just as much, if not more, then Tech will from bowl games after the ACC and SEC divide the money up. “$1.4 million vs. our $14 million bowl” please take a look at Tech’s bowl games vs. UGA bowl games from 2002 – January 2009. Feel free to look at the results too.

Braves losing it

December 22nd, 2009
2:25 pm

Frank Wren = Chuck Tanner (clown)

Hope Bobby Cox has a short retirement and takes over as GM next November

law dawg

December 22nd, 2009
2:27 pm

the only good thing about this trade for the bravos is that it does free up some money for wren to play with – maybe to go get a big bat (deal to get Adrian Gonzalez at first)