Archive for April, 2012

It’s a long season, but time might not be on the Braves’ side

A rare sight thus far: The Braves scoring actual runs in an actual game. (AP photo)

A sight seldom seen thus far: The Atlanta Braves in the process of scoring runs. (AP photo)

Update: The Braves are no longer 0-3. They’re 0-4. They lost to the Astros on Monday by five runs, which takes some doing. And now we return to regularly scheduled programming.

Stipulation: It’s a long season. It’s so long that, by the time the Braves finish their regular season, the Georgia Bulldogs — who haven’t yet gotten to G-Day — will have played five actual games. To judge a baseball team off its first series is akin to rating an NFL club on how it handles the opening kickoff of Week 1. That said …

The Braves didn’t enter 2012 with the benefit of the doubt carried by most winning teams. The Braves, as we know, went 9-18 in September 2011. They began the new season by getting swept by a team picked to finish last in the National League East. The awoke Monday having gone 9-21 over the past 30 regular-season games. That’s a winning percentage of .300. Carried over a 162-game …

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What to do about one-and-done? Go back to none-and-done

The first and second picks of the 2012 NBA draft? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Will these Kentucky Wildcats be the first and second picks of the 2012 NBA draft? Probably. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

It’s a lousy rule. John Calipari says so. Even David Stern, whose rule it is, says so. It’s such a lousy rule that everybody insists it needs to be changed. Question is, to what?

The NCAA title was just taken by Kentucky, which is coached by Calipari, who has come to specialize in one-and-done players. (He has had at least one in each of the past four seasons and could have three this time.) Mark Emmert, the NCAA president, told USA Today last month that he had no quarrel with Calipari’s recruiting of one-and-done players, saying the coach was “operating inside the rules.” But this rule isn’t the NCAA’s.

The NBA implemented the rule in 2005 because the image-conscious league was tiring of seeing its scouts trolling for draftees in high school gyms. From 2001 through 2004, three of the players taken No. 1 overall were high schoolers. It wasn’t that such guys …

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Bobby Petrino: On leave, in trouble and maybe out of a job

Uneasy rider: Bobby Petrino speaks after the crash but before the confession. (AP photo)

Uneasy rider: Bobby Petrino speaks after the crash but before the confession. (AP photo)

Bobby Petrino has been placed on administrative leave. Ordinarily this is a prelude to getting fired, but Bobby Petrino coaches football in the SEC. And we’re about to see if Arkansas places a higher premium on winning football games — which Petrino has — than on cornball stuff like family values.

Speaking of which: Bobby Petrino first said he’d spent Sunday with his family at a lake before hopping on his motorcycle. If he had, he wouldn’t be on administrative leave.

Turns out Petrino hadn’t been riding alone. Turns out, via the police report, that Petrino had been accompanied by a 25-year-old woman whom he’d just hired as the football team’s “student-athlete development coordinator.” (Memo to would-be cover-uppers: Police reports are pesky things.) Turns out Petrino lied in his first public statements, same as he’d lied to Arthur Blank when he told the Falcons’ owner, “You’ve got yourself …

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Earnest Reese: A trailblazer who lived a full and exemplary life

Earnest L. Reese, Jr., 1941-2012. (AJC file photo)

Earnest L. Reese, Jr. (AJC file photo)

Earnest Reese’s funeral was attended by a man who’d never met Earnest Reese but who, having met the son he raised and heard the son speak of the father, got on a plane in Los Angeles and wound up in McDonough, Ga., at 11 a.m. Wednesday. The traveler was J. Michael Ortiz, and he’s the president of Cal Poly Pomona.

“I got the e-mail [regarding Reese's death last week] from Renford,” Ortiz said, “and I thought, ‘I need to be there.’ ”

(According to Renford Reese, the e-mail included a link to our obit and the message: “This is the man who molded me.”)

Dr. Renford R. Reese, distinguished professor of political science, was Cal Poly Pomona’s faculty member of the year in 2011. He played football and took his undergrad degree and his Masters at Vanderbilt; he earned his Ph.D from Southern Cal; he’s an author and a playwright. He’s also Earnest Reese’s son, and here I’m going to stop referring to him as Earnest. Because none of us at the AJC …

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Why the stand-pat Braves soon might stand atop the NL East

Brothers in bash: Dan Uggla and Freddie Freeman. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

The new brothers of bash? Dan Uggla and Freddie Freeman. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

The collapse of September? It was, to invoke the word immediately and permanently attached, epic. But here’s the part of the 2011 season that was lost in the rubble: Despite going 8-19 in September, despite not hitting a lick all summer, the Braves still won 89 games.

A new season is at hand, and the Braves haven’t changed much. Some folks can’t understand why the roster wasn’t gutted, but here’s why: The 2011 team had to fall apart as completely as any team had ever fallen apart — 10 minutes later, the Boston Red Sox usurped that throne of shame — not to make the playoffs. As bad as they were in September, the Braves needed only to win two of their final five games to grab the wild card, and the National League wild-card winner wound up taking the World Series.

Is it outrageous to suggest that, with a bit more hitting, the 2012 Braves should win at least 90 games? (The mix-and-match melange of …

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Fredi Gonzalez calls his Braves ‘hyenas’ – in the nicest way

Will 2012 yield yet another lumber slumber for the Braves? (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Will 2012 yield yet another lumber slumber for the Braves? (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Fredi Gonzalez likes his Braves. He likes them so much he unfurled this evocative image: “We’re not a glamorous team. No, we didn’t go out and make a move for a big-time player, but maybe we’re more like hyenas.”

Hang on. The manager was just warming to his metaphor. “We’re not a pretty team to look at. There’s not [an Albert] Pujols in the group. But hyenas hunt in packs.”

Then, nodding to a visitor, Gonzalez said: “You writing this for tomorrow? I might need to run that one by the team first.”

The Braves, who made a hash of last September, broke training camp Monday and showed up at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville for a final exhibition Tuesday. They looked, as Gonzalez noted, essentially the same as they did in 2012. Some among you might regard continuity in the face of epic failure as the height of folly. Their general manager sees it rather differently.

“We went into the spring with a …

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