Heat Check: Braves lose the NL East; Falcons haven’t lost

If you're not going to win something, the division title is the thing not to win. (AP photo)

Well, if you're not going to win something, the division title is the thing not to win. (AP photo)

The regular Monday Heat Check was delayed because of logistics. It arrives today, and we can only hope that absence really did make the heart grow fonder.

BRAVES: They can’t catch Washington. They were eliminated from the divisional chase last night. That’s a disappointment, but — speaking of logistics — it might not be the worst thing in the world. The thought of having to play a division tiebreaker in D.C. on Thursday and then, if they were to lose, play the wild card elimination game here on Friday and then, if they were to win, start the best-of-five NLDS here on Sunday was rather daunting, not to to mention confusing. Forecast: The play-in game is a coin flip, but if the Braves prevail — and Kris Medlen hasn’t lost since May 23, 2010 — they’ll be a tough out. And I say that knowing full well they managed only two hits against Pittsburgh on Monday.

FALCONS: You can’t really quibble with 4-0. (Well, maybe you can. I can’t.) And they seem to have the figurative wind at their backs: Pat Yasinskas of ESPN reports that their surge to the climactic field goal against Carolina marked only the fourth time in the past 20 years that a team has fashioned a game-winning drive that started inside its 5-yard line with under two minutes to play. Forecast: A testing game awaits in Washington, but this is the NFL. They’re all testing games. And the Falcons are favored.

GEORGIA: The Bulldogs played somebody last weekend and won. I forget who. They play somebody else this Saturday. I forget who. Forecast: South Carolina is favored by a field goal. I figure the game goes one of two ways: The Gamecocks win close or the Bulldogs win big. Not really sure why I think that, but I do.

GEORGIA TECH: The Jackets played somebody last weekend, and they’d like to forget it ever happened. Forecast: Next up is Clemson in Death Valley, which some see as a wipeout-in-waiting. I’m not among those. To paraphrase what Bobby Knight said about Dale Brown:  When you look up and see Dabo Swinney, you always feel you have a chance.

GEORGIA STATE: Lost to 0-4 William & Mary by 32 points to fall to 0-5. I would advise the Panthers not to think about scheduling Middle Tennessee. Forecast: Has a coach who has announced his retirement ever gotten fired before his exit date?

HAWKS: They opened training camp Monday, and they have a new look about them. This should be good in the long run. It could be good in the short run. It could also not be so good in the short run. Forecast: At this moment, the best small forward the organization has is 52 years old. His name is Dominique Wilkins.

DREAM: They had a chance to win their playoff series at Philips Arena on Sunday. In the grand tradition of the other Philips Arena tenant, they tripped over the moment. Forecast: They’ll try again tonight in Indiana, and they handled the Fever up there in Game 1. And yes, it’s a little disconcerting when the names of teams involved in a postseason series are “Fever” and “Dream.”

By Mark Bradley

104 comments Add your comment

SicEmOnAChicken

October 2nd, 2012
10:00 am

First, Go Dawgs! Beat the (Game)Cocks!

Clemson Brad

October 2nd, 2012
10:00 am

First for Dabo!!!

Mark Bradley

October 2nd, 2012
10:02 am

Kudos, Brad.

Clemson Brad

October 2nd, 2012
10:02 am

Goooooooo Braves…I really feel good about Friday Night….More about Med-Dog pitching then anything. I agree though…this team’s offense does seem to go missing sometimes against good and bad pitching.

Mark Bradley

October 2nd, 2012
10:05 am

Whoa. After further review … I believe SicEm takes the kudos. My sincerest apologies.

TheOnlyBravesFan

October 2nd, 2012
10:06 am

Kudos? Go Braves. We got this.

Ostrich Racer

October 2nd, 2012
10:08 am

Fredi needs to make sure the clubhouse boys don’t even hang Chipper’s uniform in the locker in Pittsburgh. He desperately needs at least one day off.

Clemson Brad

October 2nd, 2012
10:08 am

Very controversial. This must be a “replacement” message board.

Mark Bradley

October 2nd, 2012
10:10 am

What can I say, Brad? I’m just a moron.

Clemson Brad

October 2nd, 2012
10:12 am

Mark, why all the AJC hate towards Dabo? The guy is a recruiting machine and definitely has Clemson the most relevant it has ever been since Danny Ford.

Sonny Clusters

October 2nd, 2012
10:15 am

Mark, two hits may be enough, if one is a Braves patented three run homer. If nobody’s going to hit one of those, though, then the bats are going to need to come alive and Dan Uggla is a big part of that because we all know that though he is “a notorious slow starter” he can get hot at anytime and carry this offense. That is comforting to us and we bet it is to other Braves fans, as well, who may have noticed all the Uggla LOBs during a season of popups, strikeouts, and pretty walks. We was wondering if it’s fair to say the Braves “lose” the NL East when everybody knows the spin from the Braves is that they “won” the wild card opportunity. We can’t wait to see the little sign but we hope something good happens and we get to see a real NL pennant. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Decades of Disapointment

October 2nd, 2012
10:16 am

Those who put their faith in the Braves/Falcons/Dogs are bound to have a mournful winter.

Hopeful, but....

October 2nd, 2012
10:18 am

As Mark stated in his last article, UGA has not beaten anyone of note in a very long time. And Tech in ‘09 does not count (sorry Techies). We have seen this type of hype before, and the result is always the same. “Won’t Get Fooled Again” is the song that keeps going through my head. USC covers pretty easily against an undisciplined, penalty-ridden, turnover-plagued UGA team. That’s my head (and past experience) talking, not my heart.

Goldenrod

October 2nd, 2012
10:21 am

Mark, I must ask why all the hate towards Georgia Tech lately? Have you really got to kick our program while we’re down?

We curbstomped Clemson 31-17 and I can see Coach Johnson’s bunch bouncing back to do the same up in “Death Valley” {ooh, I’m scared} Vad Lee will take over the QB duties and restore the Georgia Tech football program to the honor & dignity that it deserves!

Shocker of the week – GT 37-Clemson 21 – you heard it here first!

Decades of Disapointment

October 2nd, 2012
10:22 am

Didn’t coach Johnson see Middle Tennessee when he was at GSU? How was he not prepared for that?

Dawgdad (The Original)

October 2nd, 2012
10:22 am

Dabo versus CPJ? Let me see! I think my money goes on Dabo, his team is three dimensional, versus CPJ who only has a one dimensional team.

GTMoose

October 2nd, 2012
10:26 am

I can see the Jackets running the score up on Clemson like West Virginia did last year in the bowl game. I think the Mountaineers trounced the boys in orange something like 70-21.

Sammy Watkins is over-rated and I see Groh’s defense regaining the form we showed to take VT and Miami to OT.

Goldenrod, I think your prediction is a little high, I see the score more like 34-21 GT in the upset of the week.

Sonny Clusters

October 2nd, 2012
10:27 am

Chipper’s big weekend made us cry and made his momma and daddy cry and even made Chipper cry and probably some more people we don’t know and all the Braves pajama wearers. That’s a lot of crying. Maybe the Chipperfest was good for baseball in this town and maybe not. He’s still an active player and it seems unusual to do this right now with the team actual contending for the division if it could win out. Maybe it wasn’t a distraction for the team but then again, maybe it was. We’ll never know because last night the Braves got eliminated. The fans must be content to know that the prize all along was a one game chance to play for the wild card. Let’s hope that turns out well. Go Braves!

Clemson Brad

October 2nd, 2012
10:27 am

The score of Saturday’s game could seriously be..

Clemson 100 GT 70

Sonny Clusters

October 2nd, 2012
10:29 am

Filtered! We’re going to go do something else before the Clusters stalker shows up.

drew

October 2nd, 2012
10:30 am

Goldenrod…after last Saturday, GT deserves every kick it gets.

Cock-n-boose

October 2nd, 2012
10:32 am

All you Jawja fans need to realize you’re about to lose to Spurrier & his Cocks for the THIRD time in a row! Gurley & Marshall are overrated and Lattimore is still THE BEST back in the country.

Connor Shaw is a better all-around QB than Aaron Murray and Clowney is superior to Jarvis Jones any day of the week.

Bring that WEAK defense into Columbia, looking forward to more pick 6’s, fake punts and fumble recoveries en route to the Cocks proving to the world that Jawja is overrated!

I can’t wait to beat Bama in Atlanta!

dtanner

October 2nd, 2012
10:32 am

nice little jab at dabo mark,you gotta give the guy credit though,he is a good cheerleader

Heisenberg

October 2nd, 2012
10:32 am

Good news for Braves in playoffs is that they most likely will not have to face either:
a) a journeyman lefty with an ERA north of 6
b) a rookie they have never seen before

Bring on the former CY winners and current CY candidates.

Gamecocks

October 2nd, 2012
10:33 am

All you Jawja fans need to realize you’re about to lose to Spurrier & his Cocks for the THIRD time in a row! Gurley & Marshall are overrated and Lattimore is still THE BEST back in the country.

Connor Shaw is a better all-around QB than Aaron Murray and Clowney is superior to Jarvis Jones any day of the week.

Bring that WEAK defense into Columbia, looking forward to more pick 6’s, fake punts and fumble recoveries en route to the Gamecocks proving to the world that Jawja is overrated!

I can’t wait to beat Bama in Atlanta!

RGIII

October 2nd, 2012
10:38 am

Bring it on Dirty Birds! I’m gonna run all over that defense!

Cam Newton is overrated and couldn’t beat you but I will!

Steve

October 2nd, 2012
10:44 am

“Cock-N-Boose” is going to have a very rough and sad Sunday after what UGA does to SC Saturday night. I assure you UGA is not worried about playing at SC. Yes, they lost by 11 in 2010 but won there in 2008, 2006, and 2004. UGA 34 SC 24. Sorry little man, no trip to Atlanta this year.

Vel Crow

October 2nd, 2012
10:45 am

If the Braves can’t play small ball in the playoffs, it’s gonna be one and done. Pitching rules in the playoffs, and the Braves play for the three run homer.

TexGT

October 2nd, 2012
10:54 am

Mark, any rumors about heads rolling post-MSTSU meltdown? At the very least, any word Groh may be gone?

Mark Richts Pool Party

October 2nd, 2012
11:08 am

Dawgs wont get the signature win in Columbia. Hot seat will come alive again. Bank on it!

Dawg1

October 2nd, 2012
11:09 am

Oh boy…

I agreed with everything you wrote.

That’s about the same odds as winning the lottery…

Think I’ll buy a ticket…

Mark Richts Pool Party

October 2nd, 2012
11:09 am

Oh No Three in a row!

Paddy

October 2nd, 2012
11:15 am

GT needs to play a very respectable game or this season just left the barn. I hate to say this, hope Tech wins, I hate Clemson!
I am w/ the above post. Play V. Lee, what have you got to lose? You know what you have in Washington, and it ain’t enough!

Terrible Truth

October 2nd, 2012
11:25 am

Has a coach who has announced his retirement ever gotten fired before his exit date?

Yeah, some guy named Paterno.

Ivan

October 2nd, 2012
11:45 am

“Very controversial. This must be a “replacement” message board.” – LOL

“Pat Yasinskas of ESPN reports that their surge to the climactic field goal against Carolina marked only the fourth time in the past 20 years that a team has fashioned a game-winning drive that started inside its 5-yard line with under two minutes to play”

I see the stat was updated. Another piece on ESPN cites slightly different. That Atlanta was the ONLY team in 20 years to score from within their own 5 with less than ONE minute.

sidslid

October 2nd, 2012
11:45 am

Left handed pitching is the big time Achilles Heel. That’s why we got Uggla and his .210 average killing us. Heyward, Freeman, and McCann cannot hit left handed pitching, and Chipper looks very week from the right side this year. In other words, Prado the only productive player against lefties. Cardinals have got to start a left hander.

Steve

October 2nd, 2012
11:50 am

It’s already been decided that Ryan Lohse, a Righty, is starting for St. Louis Friday.

mcdonoughbrave

October 2nd, 2012
11:50 am

prediction for friday’s game. prado and simmons will get the only hits and the braves will lose 3-0.

Steve

October 2nd, 2012
11:51 am

Way to be positive McDonoughBrave! Such a good fan you are!

*Correction, Kyle Lohse, not Ryan.

Steve

October 2nd, 2012
11:52 am

Kyle Lohse this season vs. Atlanta:

One game started at Turner Field, 5 innings, 9 hits, 5 earned runs, 2 HR, 1 BB.

nate from detroit

October 2nd, 2012
11:53 am

Why all of a sudden do Cracalacky fans think they are the ‘95 Nebraska or ‘04 USC (the real one) teams? Carolina has a good team but this is the same team that very easily could have lost to Vandy and was losing to Kentucky by 10 pts at the half. Can we lose to Carolina? Yes. Can we beat Carolina? Yes. All you lamecock fans keep believing what Granny Holtz is telling you and then when we open a big, old can on you Sat night it will make that taste in your mouths more bitter.

Ivan

October 2nd, 2012
12:03 pm

“The sequence marked Ryan’s 17th game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime.”

I saw another stat (ESPN?) that showed this is the lead among active QB’s since 2008. One more than Peyton, and two more than Brees. And Ryan is only starting his 5th year.

lkb

October 2nd, 2012
12:26 pm

Goldenrod is a moron. You heard it here 10,000th!

Sonny Clusters

October 2nd, 2012
12:26 pm

We’re not sure why people would hate Clemson when we was almost a student there except for one of us going to play ball for the Braves instead. If we’d gone on to Clemson we’d probably have played some baseball and some football there and won a few championships and brought home some more trophies. Still, second shift has been good to us and we can go see a Clemson game anytime we wish. As far as the Braves go, we have anguished over them for so long when they get dusted in the wild card or the divisional series or even, shudder to think, when they miss the playoffs altogether. We hope they can beat the other wild card challenger in a one-game play-in or there’s going to be some wet pajamas on this blog. Can you imagine the excuses? We was always a Braves fan and will always be one but we want to see great baseball and winning baseball and championships and less hero worshipping and country singers prancing around at the game. By the way, somebody’s been hanging around you-know-who (talks like a deer) and seems to have developed some problems at home. Hmmm . . .

Sonny Clusters

October 2nd, 2012
12:29 pm

Mark, come clean. Have you ever shared a deer stand with Chipper Jones? We have not seen any deer heads on the wall in your videos.

PreyDawg

October 2nd, 2012
12:33 pm

@Bradley I would go so far to say that this Saturday is the biggest game of Richt’s career. There are still whispers in DawgNation that Richt cannot win as big as Saban or Myles. He came close in the SEC Championship game but we couldn’t catch the ball early. David Green and Pollack were close but we dropped the critical pass against Florida. It says here that if the Dawgs beat Carolina, then they run the table (including Florida).

Gameday will be covering it. We get the bigtime announcers, It’s Spurrier, both teams are top 10 for the first time ever, this is as big as mid-season college football gets. If Richt wins he totally changes the thinking and conversation about him.

The Dawgs will win if they keep their heads in the game (mental mistakes seem to plague us in big games) and if we see the Murray of the last 3 weeks and not Rocketball Murray. We will have to throw our way to victory. Clowney and Co. will seel out to stop the young backs.

PreyDawg

October 2nd, 2012
12:36 pm

@GameCocks, are you man enough to come back to this blog post game and eat your crow?

Under The Bleachers

October 2nd, 2012
12:37 pm

Thanks Mark.

Falcons- shows what a Good GM is suppose to do and find players who fill gaps from previous failures. Great Job, so far

Braves- bounced back from a dissappointing first year with Freddie. Pitching and Defense wins in the playoffs.

Georgia- Time will tell, and the clock is fast approaching to determine contenders and pretenders this saturday night.

Georgia Tech- Why Paul Johnson is not let go now and allow someone to come in and start recruiting players is just ludicrous. Johnson is taking the program the wrong direction and the attendance at games proves it.

Georgia State- Not what Bill Curry wanted in his final year, but he has laid the foundation for someone younger and and an open offense philosophy to excel.

Stinger 2

October 2nd, 2012
12:39 pm

Some bloggers continue to post rambling drivel about the Braves. I guess you put them in the category of those who love to hear themselves talk but never say anything of substance. My thoughts at this point are that Fredi and the team have won 93 games. That fact should have everyone saluting and cheering without any negative feedback from the naysayers. Go Braves!

Paul in NH

October 2nd, 2012
12:43 pm

Georgia is hot – expect them to beat USC
GT fans are hot – Groh goes in witness protection program after a 42-28 loss in Death Valley
The UNH Wildcats are hot and put 50 on GSU in their favorite sport not involving a frozen liquid
Everton stays on fire with a win at Wigan to remain 2nd in the EPL behind Chelski
Liverpool continue to warm up – they are now at room temperature – with a win over Stoke at Anfield – Michael Owen plays but gets booed by his old fans.