Archive for the ‘Heat Check’ Category

Heat Check: The Braves close in; Tech and UGA run wild

Pennant fever! Ger yer pennant fever right here! (AP photo)

Pennant fever! Ger yer pennant fever right here! (AP photo)

Is it just me, or do the local teams never lose? Our Heat Check examines.

BRAVES: Swept the team they’re chasing, so the season’s final 2 1/2 weeks might actually see a real chase. They’re 5 1/2 games back with 15 to go — the Nationals have 16 remaining — and if you’re wondering if such a thing could happen: Sure it could. The pholdin’ Phillies of 1964 led the National League by 6 1/2 games with 12 to play. Heat Index: Even if the Braves don’t catch Washington, they’ve still all but assured themselves a wild-card spot. And, assuming they’re indeed a wild card and assuming they win the play-in, they could well play the Nats in the Division Series, which would be a best-of-five with the first two games at Turner Field. (With the new playoff format, teams from the same division can meet in Round 1.)

FALCONS: Technically they haven’t played yet — that comes tonight — but they had a very good Sunday. The Saints are 0-2. …

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Heat Check: Keeping up with the Joneses (Julio and Jarvis)

Julio Jones celebrates with his quarterback, who apparently has mad hops. (AP photo)

The burgeoning Julio Jones celebrates with quarterback Matt Ryan, who apparently has mad hops. (AP photo)

Atlanta, city of winners! And our weekly Heat Check reflects as much.

FALCONS: Went to Missouri, faced an energized home team, still scored 40 points and won by 16. Heat Index: A mighty impressive opening victory.

GEORGIA: Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but … went to Missouri, faced an energized home team, scored 41 points and won by 21. Heat Index: A mighty impressive road-opening victory.

JULIO JONES: Best receiver on the Falcons roster? Yes. Best receiver in Falcons history? Maybe. Best receiver in the NFL? Maybe soon. Heat Index: That draft-day trade looks better and better, does it not?

JARVIS JONES: Best defender in the SEC? Yes. Best in the country? Probably. Best in Georgia history? With apologies to Bill Stanfill, Jake Scott, Ben Zambiasi, Terry Hoage, Champ Bailey and David Pollack … yes, maybe. Heat Index: Tell me his fourth quarter in Columbia didn’t …

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Heat Check: Braves aren’t hot, but they’re getting warmer

From bullpen to bellweather: Give that man (Kris Medlen) a great big hand. (AP photo)

From bullpen to bellwether: Give that man (Kris Medlen) a great big hand. (AP photo)

College football commences this week, with the NFL not far behind. Even so, our Heat Check begins with baseball.

BRAVES: A key week opened badly — the Braves lost the first two games in Washington to fall seven behind the Nationals — but ended rather better. The Nats dropped their next four, and the Braves won three of five to draw within 4 1/2 games. Better still, they won’t face another opponent that is currently above .500 until Sept. 14. Heat Index: Can’t really call a losing (3-4) week hot, but it could have been much worse.

SIX-MAN ROTATION: Well, that didn’t last long. Ben Sheets is on the disabled list, which is where Braves pitchers who stop pitching well land. So now there’s no real debate over who should be sent to the bullpen. Heat Index: This means Tommy Hanson will apparently stay in the rotation, which might not be a great thing. He has worked as many as six innings only once …

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Heat Check: Matty Ice starts hot; Ben Sheets begins to cool

Ben Sheets after yielding the second of four home runs. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

Ben Sheets after yielding the second of four Dodger home runs. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

Our weekly Heat Check commences where you’d expect, although falling five games behind the team you’re chasing does tend to lower any case of pennant fever.

BRAVES: They’ve lost only two of 12 series since the All-Star break, which is good. Less good is this: They haven’t won a series from a team that is currently above .500 since June 26-28, when they took two of three from Arizona.

Dropping the final two games of the Dodgers series only served to underscore a sore point: The Braves are 26-30 against plus-.500 opposition, and they’re 10-20 against teams that are leading divisions. This week they’ll play three games against Washington and four against San Francisco, and they’re 5-10 against those two.

That said, the September schedule is, to borrow a line from the great Joe Dean Sr., as soft as church music. Heat Index: So long as the Braves don’t go 1-6 these next seven days, they should …

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Heat Check: Hot Braves, cold Honey Badger, a final #NBCfail

The Honey Badger will not be playing in the Dome on Dec. 1. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

The Honey Badger will not be playing in the Dome on Dec. 1. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Our weekly Heat Check begins with baseball’s hottest team, and no, I don’t mean the Mets.

BRAVES: On July 5, the day the season’s second half officially began, manager Fredi Gonzalez assessed his team’s first half as “just OK.” They’re 24-9 since. They went 4-2 last week but managed to slide 4 1/2 games behind Washington, which went 6-1. Which leads us to say: No big deal.

There are two wild cards this season. Even if there were only one, the Braves are two games ahead of Pittsburgh, and the Pirates probably won’t hold up much longer. Baseball Prospectus gives the Braves only a 17.1 percent chance of winning the National League East but a 91.1 percent chance of making the playoffs.

The rest of August will be intriguing. Over the next 2 1/2 weeks, the Braves will play three games in Washington, three here against the Dodgers, four against the Giants and seven (four here, three there) …

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Heat Check: The Braves are hot, and so is Dan Uggla (sort of)

Even the old codgers are excited by recent Braves' doings. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Even old codgers are excited by recent Braves' doings. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Our weekly Heat Check begins with the hottest team in town. Technically, it’s also the only team in town that’s actually playing games — the Dream is on Olympic hiatus — but never mind. We take our warmth where we find it.

BRAVES: They went 5-2 for the week and shaved a game off Washington’s lead. (Down to three games, as we speak.) They were 8-2 over the homestand that concluded Sunday, and we should probably prepare ourselves for similar surges the rest of the way.

Of the Braves’ remaining 54 games, only 16 will come against teams currently above .500. By way of contrast, Washington has 22 games left against plus-.500 teams. (Including three at Arizona and three at San Francisco over the next 10 days.) That’s not a major difference, but it is a difference. And with the new playoff format, there’s a major bonus to being division champ. It means you get to skip that terrifying play-in tilt …

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Heat Check: Braves, Falcons, Hawks, Tech, UGA – all HOT!

"Our team is red hot! Our team is red hot!" (AP photo by David Tulis)

"Our team is red hot! (Clap, clap.) Our team is red hot!" (AP photo by David Tulis)

Today we offer the (long-deferred if not necessarily long-awaited) return of the Monday Heat Check, in which we take the figurative temperature of our local sporting entities. And, in keeping with climatic conditions, I must note that every team is HOT!HOT!HOT!

BRAVES: They haven’t lost in a week, and the week ahead looks most inviting. They’re home for four games against the Marlins, who have given up, and three against the Astros, who snapped a 12-game losing slide Sunday and are the worst team in baseball by some distance.

And there’s every chance the Braves will make a trade by 4 p.m. Tuesday. Zack Greinke is gone to Anaheim, and the Braves claim to have moved on from their pursuit of reluctant Ryan Dempster, but I’m not convinced that ship has sailed. There’s no reason for the Cubs to keep Dempster — they’re not going to re-sign him — and the Dodgers’ offer hasn’t been convincing. (If it …

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Heat Check: UGA’s uniforms are hot, as in ‘Burn them now!’

Aaron Murray leads Georgia onto the field for its season opener.

Aaron Murray leads Georgia onto the field and boldly proclaims, "Goldar — er, Boise — you're going down!"

The Monday Heat Check begins not with a player or a team but with the latest in fall clothing. Anna Wintour has nothing on us.

Georgia’s uniforms: They’re new. They’re different. They’re horrible. The good news is that we’ll see them for only one game. The bad news is that the game will televised. Heat index: They’re sure to be a hot item at the thrift store as of Sept. 4.

Georgia’s ranking: The Bulldogs are No. 19 in the preseason Associated Press poll, which is pretty darn good for a team that went 6-7. They’re ranked ahead of Mississippi State and Florida, to whom they lost, and Auburn, to whom they also lost and who went 14-0. Heat index: Yeah, but have the voters taken a gander at those Pro Combat duds?

Georgia Tech’s ranking, or the lack thereof: Forty-eight teams drew votes in the AP survey, the Jackets not among them. Heat index: A cold front has settled over …

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