Archive for the ‘Bradley's Buzz’ Category

Bradley’s Buzz: ESPN’s Dinich now likes Clemson over Tech

According to ESPN's ACC expert, Tech won't win this time. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

According to ESPN's ACC expert, Tech won't win this time. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Say this for Heather Dinich of ESPN.com: She’s consistent. She didn’t pick Georgia Tech to win the Coastal Division, and she’s not picking the Coastal champ to win the ACC title.

Ms. Dinich call her choice of Clemson over Tech in Tampa on Dec. 5 a “wacky prediction.” I wouldn’t call it wacky. I’d just call it misguided. You can make a case for Clemson. You can make a much better one for Tech.

Winning the ACC would put Clemson in the Orange Bowl. So where, according to Ms. Dinich, would Tech land? The Chick-fil-A? Nope. She has Georgia Tech falling behind Virginia Tech in the pecking order and landing in the Gator Bowl against a Big East opponent or Notre Dame. (I understand the Chick-fil-A might not want to have Georgia Tech for a second consecutive year, but I also understand that there would be local pressure from Jacket fans to keep Tech out of Jacksonvile.)

But … Notre Dame? Is it …

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Bradley’s Buzz: UGA’s going to a bowl, but which one?

Gerogia's last trip to the Chick-fil-A was yummy. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

The last trip to the Chick-fil-A was yummy. Like a peach milkshake. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

The good news: Georgia is bowl-eligible. The not-so-good news: Shreveport still has a bowl. And, according to Matt Hayes of Sporting News Today, the Independence Bowl is where the Bulldogs are bound. (To face Iowa State, per Hayes.)

The better news: Four other bowl projectors see Georgia headed elsewhere. Stewart Mandel of SI.com has Georgia in the Music City Bowl against Boston College. Bruce Feldman of ESPN.com likewise tickets UGA for Nashville, but to oppose Florida State. Feldman’s colleague Mark Schlabach (who used to be my colleague) has Georgia coming to Atlanta for a Chick-fil-A date against Clemson. And CBSsports.com shows Georgia paired with East Carolina in the Liberty Bowl.

What this all means: Nobody knows. We’re 19 days from Bowl Selection Sunday, and the projected field for Georgia hasn’t been narrowed much at all. If you’re counting, the five projections show …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Vazquez could be going, but I bet he stays

"We won't trade you unless Norton-for-Pujols falls through" (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

"We won't trade you unless the Norton-for-Pujols deal falls through." (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

The well sourced Buster Olney of ESPN’s Insiders keeps hearing the Braves will trade their best pitcher. (Link requires registration.) Writes Mr. Olney:

“Some rival executives are convinced that Atlanta’s Javier Vazquez, who was arguably one of the four best pitchers in the National League this past season, will be traded in the weeks ahead. Vazquez will make $11.5 million next season before becoming eligible for free agency, so the Braves might be compelled to move him now to take advantage of his value. Atlanta needs a right-handed-hitting outfielder, and the other possible trade pieces on the Braves’ pitching staff — Derek Lowe (who is owed $45 million over the next three seasons) and Kenshin Kawakami (owed $13.3 million over the next two seasons) — do not generate much enthusiasm among some rival talent evaluators.”

If this line of reasoning sounds familiar … well, there’s a …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Is UGA bound for (shudder) Shreveport?

The scariest word in college football has been pinned to the Georgia Bulldogs. That word: Shreveport.

To play in the Independence Bowl is the worst of all fates, worse even than playing in no bowl at all. Because a team has to pretend to be excited about a trip to Shreveport, whereas a bowl-less team can just slink off under cover of winter. And now we turn to ESPN’s bowl projections and we see Bruce Feldman’s chilling forecast:

AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl: Georgia vs. Missouri. Yikes.

(Then again, Georgia could wear its black helmets, which would make things confusing. Because Missouri also wears black helmets.)

(Oh, and for those among us who have never heard of AdvoCare — I hadn’t — here’s its Web site.)

Serving as the Shana Alexander to Feldman’s James Kilpatrick, esteemed former colleague Mark Schlabach sees the Bulldogs as bound for Nashville and the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl against Florida State. And that would beat the heck out of Shreveport. But I must also …

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Bradley’s Buzz: ESPN thinks UGA can (almost) beat Florida

When last I doubted the wisdom of ESPN’s Insiders and its Scouts Inc. brand of predicting, the Worldwide Leader was right and I was wrong. I thought Georgia Tech would beat Miami. Scouts Inc. picked the ‘Canes. Score it Scouts Inc. 1, MB nil.

So I pass this along for purposes of edification. Scouts Inc. gives Florida the edge over Georgia in seven of nine categories. (Link requires registration.) The Bulldogs are preferred at wide receiver and linebacker, you should know. Me, I’d have made it eight of nine, but I’m a famous Gator fan

Regarding Georgia’s offense, such as it is, against Florida’s top-ranked defense:

“Look for Georgia to attack the middle of the Florida run defense. True freshman RB Washaun Ealey and 222-pound backup Richard Samuel are both tough between-the-tackles runners who can lower their shoulders and pick up yards after contact. In addition, FB Fred Munzenmeir is an effective lead blocker who has done a nice job filling in for the injured Shaun Chapas. On …

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Bradley’s Buzz: FoxSports says Hudson to decline his option

Tim Hudson: Having been on the mend, is he now on the wing? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Having been on the mend, is Tim Hudson now on the wing? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Here’s a a bit of a surprise: Citing “major-league sources,” Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com reports Tim Hudson will decline his option to re-up with the Braves and will become a free agent instead. From Rosenthal’s story:

“The Braves are likely to exercise their option on Hudson, a decision that must be made within five days of the completion of the World Series. Hudson then would be required to decide within 10 days of the completion of the Series whether he wanted to return to the team on a one-year deal. He almost certainly would command a longer deal and a greater total guarantee on the open market.”

Update: Dave O’Brien spoke to Hudson this morning, and Hudson denied the report, saying he’d even accept a hometown discount to remain a Brave.

Until Rosenthal’s report, we’d all pretty much assumed Hudson, who returned only in September after Tommy John surgery, would be content to take the …

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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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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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Bradley’s Buzz: John Hollinger picks (on) the Hawks again

Zaza Pachulia: Operating on a 500-day calendar? (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Is Zaza aging? (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

My Facebook friend John Hollinger of ESPN.com is a fine fellow and a fine writer. (I am, as we know, neither.) But Hollinger had a Bradleyesque moment last fall, picking the Atlanta Hawks to go 31-51 and describing their bench as “a FEMA disaster zone.” (The Hawks finished 47-37 and their bench was rather good.)

I mention this because Big John — I call him Big John, although he’s actually quite slender — has made his 2009-2010 Hawks forecast on ESPN’s Insiders, and I wouldn’t say he gushed. Indeed, he picks the Hawks to backslide. He still has them as the fourth-best team in the Eastern Conference and the second-best in the Southern Division, which is how they wound up last season, but he crunches his numbers and decides they’ll go 44-38. (Link requires registration.)

Some Hollinger highlights:

In the end the Hawks won 47 games, and there was room for them to go higher — Josh Smith had a disappointing season that saw him slump to …

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Bradley’s Buzz: Did Smitty coach scared in Foxborough?

Mike Smith: Was Sunday's loss a function of timidity? (AP photo)

Mike Smith: Did timidity hurt his team? (AP photo)

I read Ron Borges‘ Monday column in the Boston Herald on the plane back, and I was impressed: He had a good point and made it nicely. And his point was:

Mike Smith coached a dud game against the Patriots.

I’m not apt to paraphrase Mr. Borges half as well as he expressed himself, so I’ll just quote:

“Falcons coach Mike Smith, of all people, should have known what was coming yesterday. Even when Tom Brady isn’t sharp, if you go soft on him he will make it hard on you.

“Yet despite being armed with knowledge gained from harsh experience, Smith allowed Atlanta defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder to make the same decision yesterday that Smith made Jan. 12, 2008.

“Both paid the same price: They got beat.

“At the time, Smith was the defensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars. In a divisional playoff game, he decided that his team could not pressure Brady under any circumstance and chose instead to drop seven and eight …

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