Archive for the ‘Thrashers/NHL’ Category

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 …

Continue reading Bradley’s Buzz: Sporting News says we’re No. 13! Yes! »

Bradley’s Buzz: Peter King picks the Falcons, and woe is he!

More of that great Falcon D. But I still think they'll be OK. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

More of that great Falcon D. But I still think they'll be OK. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Poor, poor pitiful Peter

I’ve known Peter King for 30 years, or since he was at the Cincinnati Enquirer and I was working in Lexington. There’s not a nicer guy or a harder worker in the biz. But I feel truly sorry for Industrious Pete today. Because he picked the Falcons to go 10-6 and win the NFC Southsame as I did! And we know what that means, don’t we?

Pete’s SI.com colleague Don Banks sees it differently. He picks the Saints to win the South and the Falcons to miss the playoffs. And Clark Judge of CBSsports.com likewise picks New Orleans. Of the Birds, he writes: “I’m not sure why, but I don’t see it happening again. Maybe it’s because I trust history, and history tells us that when the Falcons go to the playoffs they fizzle the following season.”

I won’t lie. I was utterly underwhelmed by the Falcons’ preseason. (I was appalled by the defensive non-showing against the …

Continue reading Bradley’s Buzz: Peter King picks the Falcons, and woe is he! »

The Hot Button: Who’s the biggest dud in local sports?

Eddie Haas, who was a megaton dud, relieves Gene Garber. (AJC photo by Calvin Cruce)

Megaton dud Eddie Haas pulls Gene Garber. (AJC photo by Calvin Cruce)

Again, I have you folks to thank — or blame, as the case may be — for this entry. This tangent arose on Saturday’s live chat off the Falcons’ defensive collapse, and I thought it would make a nice Hot Button. (Or Cold Button, as the case may be.)

The question: Who’s the biggest dud in local sports?

Parameters: It has to be someone currently employed locally. Meaning: No Len Barker, no Aundray Bruce, no Eddie Haas, no Ron Jirsa, no Bruce Pickens, no Jeff Francoeur, no J.R. Rider, no Jeff George, no Priest Lauderdale, no Ray Goff, no Corky Miller, no Marion Campbell, no Peerless Price, no Damian Rhodes, no Bill Lewis, no Albie Lopez, no Robert Fick, no Shelden Williams, no Jimmy Williams, no Bobby Petrino, no Dan Kolb, no Steve Broussard, no Adam Keefe, no Brad Komminsk, no Reggie Kelly … enough already!

I’ve taken the liberty of nominating one deserving — or undeserving, as the case may be — candidate from …

Continue reading The Hot Button: Who’s the biggest dud in local sports? »

Do the Thrashers really have the NHL’s worst fans?

Each of the ladies seated behind John Anderson has her own blog. (AJC photo by Jessica McGowan)

Each of the ladies seated behind John Anderson has a blog. (AJC photo by Jessica McGowan)

I guess I see it differently. When I go to a Thrashers game and see 5,000 empty seats, my first thought isn’t, “Why don’t more people come to these games?” It is, on the contrary: “Why do so many people come to these games?”

Let’s face it: In a decade of operation, the Thrashers haven’t given their constituency much. They’ve committed the two glaring sins of professional sports: They took too long to build something and then couldn’t sustain it. They’ve had two winning seasons. They’ve made the playoffs once (and were swept in Round 1).

I mention this because it has come to my attention that Derek Felska has, on the blog Most Valuable Network, decided the Thrashers have the worst fan base in the NHL. I present his “justification” in its entirety:

“I am going to share a little story with you which will might explain why the Atlanta Thrashers are deserving of being called the league’s worst …

Continue reading Do the Thrashers really have the NHL’s worst fans? »

The Atlanta Spirit case: No decision is bad news for Belkin

Only in the tangled realm of the Atlanta Spirit can a no-decision be deemed a rousing victory for one side, but that’s what this is. The Atlanta/D.C. connection — essentially the Gearons and Bruce Levenson — cannot proceed with the proposed buyout of the battling Bostonian Steve Belkin, and somehow that’s better  for the party of the first part. (If this sounds like a Marx Brothers movie … well, it should.)

Much has changed between 2005, when this jerry-built partnership splintered over Joe Johnson, and August 2009. The economy has gone so far south that even wealthy men have lost real money, and the idea of not having to put up more cash — $145 million plus interest — to get rid of Belkin must seem mighty appealing to the seven other Spirit men right about now.

With Belkin long since removed as the Spirit’s representative on the NBA’s board of governors, there’s no pressing call to sign divorce papers. The Atlanta/D.C. bunch can simply continue to do as it did on Joe Johnson, …

Continue reading The Atlanta Spirit case: No decision is bad news for Belkin »

Bradley’s Buzz: There’s something fishy about Joe Cox

New Georgia QB likes Tiger, Halle and bass

You know Joe Cox — he’s taking over for Matthew Stafford as Georgia’s quarterback; he has red hair and a redhead’s temper. But do you really know Joe Cox? Do you, for instance, know who his “dream date” would be? Hint: She has won Best Actress.

No, not Helen Mirren. Halle Berry.

This nugget and more come to us from esteemed former colleague Jeff D’Alessio of Sporting News Today, who last week made J.C. of UGA the subject of SNT’s “My Profile.” (D’Alessio is famous in the biz for such daily touches — he did the “Gimme Five” feature for the ol’ AJC’s sports section for years.) And here are some revelations offered up by Cox himself:

He likes Young Jeezy and Gucci Mane. He drives a gold 2002 Altima. (Gold? Wrong school, Joe.) He doesn’t always check his voice mail. He likes Tiger Woods. But what he really likes is bass fishing.

He has a 10-pound bass he caught mounted on his bedroom wall. No. 2 on his “bucket list” is to “catch a …

Continue reading Bradley’s Buzz: There’s something fishy about Joe Cox »

Bradley’s Buzz: Frenchy makes an impression in NY minute

The fallout on Francoeur, and there’s a lot of it

The nice thing — well, one of the nice things — about hanging around New York is you can buy four papers a day. Pretty soon, though, you realize most every sports story in all four papers contains the same quotes. (New York writers, of which there are many, tend to travel in packs.) So I won’t offer every link regarding Jeff Francoeur’s arrival, lest we be here all week. I’ll hit the highlights:

• How did the deal happen? According to Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News: “Mets GM Omar Minaya said assistant GM John Ricco suggested investigating the availability of the 25-year-old Francoeur during an afternoon brainstorming session on Thursday. The deal was completed within 24 hours.” (And you think the Braves weren’t thirsting to dump Frenchy?)

• The headline on Jay Greenberg’s post-trade column in the New York Post says it all: “Minaya’s swap is better than doin’ nothing.

• From David Lennon of Newsday comes this analysis: …

Continue reading Bradley’s Buzz: Frenchy makes an impression in NY minute »

There’s competence in Atlanta sports, and woe is me

I’m a little distressed. I’m just now realizing I might not have a job much longer, and it has nothing to do with the AJC or the state of the newspaper industry. It has to do with the state of the local pro teams. They appear, horror of horrors, to be doing things right.

Good news for fans.

Bad news for the nit-picking pundit.

It hit me this week. I posted an item on the Falcons’ apparently successful offseason. I posted another on Don Waddell improving the Thrashers, yet another on the Hawks keeping Mike Bibby. And then I got to thinking, “This is Atlanta! We’re supposed to be Losersville! What in the name of Marion Campell is going on?”

I don’t mind telling you I’m at a loss. I can’t remember a time when the local franchises seemed so clever. (Then again, I’ve only been here a quarter-century.) The Falcons just went 11-5, traded for Tony Gonzalez and loaded up on defense in the draft. The Hawks had a winning season, won a playoff series, traded for Jamal Crawford, drafted …

Continue reading There’s competence in Atlanta sports, and woe is me »

Thrashers’ Waddell aims to sway an audience of one

It’s an odd task. Don Waddell is making moves with the goal of improving his hockey club, which ordinarily would be a general manager’s highest priority. But this GM has something more in mind:

He’s trying to impress Ilya Kovalchuk.

The best player in Thrashers history is scheduled to become a free agent next summer. He has given indications he’d like to stay here, but his desire is conditional: The Thrashers must first get better. “I know for sure we need some more players,” Kovalchuk told reporters after the final game of last season, and that’s where Waddell comes in.

Known as the Teflon Don in some circles for his ability to avoid blame — and to stick like Krazy Glue to his GM’s chair — Waddell has had an impressive fortnight. The Thrashers appeared to do well in the NHL draft, picking a power forward in Round 1 who might soon be with the big club. (Waddell to Evander Kane on draft night: “You’re going to look good next to Ilya Kovalchuk.”)

And then, scarcely having …

Continue reading Thrashers’ Waddell aims to sway an audience of one »

Bradley’s Buzz: The best franchise? It’s not Atlanta’s

The 40th-best owner would like to enhance your "stadium experience." (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

The 40th-best owner aims to enhance "stadium experience." (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Having time on its hands in these long hot summer months, ESPN The Magazine has trotted out its annual rankings of professional sports teams (link requires registration) but not so much as competitive teams as corporate entities. To quote from the mag, “Which teams are most worthy of your hard-earned dollar”?

None of our local clubs crack the top 20. The L.A. Angels rank No. 1, and the L.A. Clippers rank 122nd, or dead last. And one of ours finished in triple digits. Guess which.

Tick, tick, tick … time’s up!

27. Atlanta Braves: Attention, Bobby Cox bashers! The Braves receive their highest rating (15th) for coaching. (Er, shouldn’t that be “managing”?) They’re 21st in affordability and a surprisingly high 32nd in “title track.” But they’re only 54th in ownership and 59th in “stadium experience.” What, you mean not everyone’s a sucker for “Thank God I’m a Country Boy”?

43. Atlanta Falcons:

Continue reading Bradley’s Buzz: The best franchise? It’s not Atlanta’s »