Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Brandt Snedeker story: One weekend reaps one windfall

"High five for the man who just broke the bank!" (AP photo by John Bazemore)

"How about a high five for the man who just broke the bank?" (AP photo by John Bazemore)

The Tour Championship isn’t considered one of golf’s majors — or even the figurative fifth Beatle, the Players Championship having laid claim to that designation — but this autumn event has risen above niche status. It’s golf for those who don’t much care for golf. It’s golf on (medicinally prescribed) steroids. It’s golf with huge names and big money and fabulous prizes.

Those who do care for golf might cringe at the description, but the Tour Championship is golf as done by NASCAR. Which is no accident, seeing as how the season-ending Chase was the figure-it-out-on-the-fly model for this whole FedEx Cup deal. (”Deal,” as we know,  being the catch-all term favored by those on the stock-car circuit.) Only the PGA might just have out-NASCAR’ed NASCAR.

On Sunday at East Lake, Brandt Snedeker won himself a tournament — something he’d done only three times on tour — and the $1.4 million purse …

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Video: On the Braves’ chances after Brandon Beachy’s injury

Continue reading Video: On the Braves’ chances after Brandon Beachy’s injury »

OK, this year it’s official: I DO feel sorry for LeBron James

Here's LeBron looking to pass again. Why doesn't he shoot? (AP photo)

Here's LeBron looking to pass again. Why doesn't he shoot? (AP photo)

A year ago I almost felt sorry for LeBron James. This time there’s no “almost” — I do feel sorry for him. He cannot simply play a game anymore, and woe be unto him should his team happen to lose one.

About playing the game: The general idea is to win by whatever means necessary, but LeBron and the Miami Heat are held to a different standard. They have to win in a way that satisfies their critics, which has become impossible because there are too many critics. (I know. Before my sympathy button got pushed, I was one.)

You can see it at the end of these games against Boston. The Celtics trust one another; they don’t care who takes the last shot. The Heat may profess not to care, but deep down they know that there’ll be hell to pay if LeBron James — or, failing that, Dwyane Wade — doesn’t take the last shot.

And then come the permutations: What if LeBron is triple-teamed (as happened in Game 4) and passes to …

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Numbers suggest Minor hasn’t been quite as bad as all that

A kick of the leg, a flip of the wrist ... but what's the xFIP? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

A kick of the leg, a flip of the wrist … but what's the xFIP? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

In the light of Mike Minor’s latest strange outing — he yielded five hits in six innings, but four were home runs — I thought I’d pass along some data presented by Red Reporter in its preview of the Reds-Braves series. (Warning: If your eyes glaze over at the mention of sabermetrics, cease and desist reading.) My two favorites:

That Minor has a left-on-base percentage that’s off the charts, and not in a good way.

That Minor, who now carries an ERA of 6.97, has, at least according to one key stat-geek metric, pitched almost as well as Brandon Beachy, whose 1.33 ERA leads the majors.

The metric in question is xFIP, and it stands for expected fielding independent pitching. Here’s the simple definition — actually, it’s not all that simple — from the really useful site FanGraphs: “ Fielding Independent Pitching measures what a player’s ERA should have looked like over a given time period, …

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His team’s hitting, but Jurrjens isn’t pitching – and he knows it

Jair Jurrjens works to David Wright on Wednesday. (AP photo by John Bazemore)

Jair Jurrjens delivers to David Wright on Wednesday. (AP photo by John Bazemore)

If it’s not one thing, it’s another. There can be no baseball without worry. As the Braves finished a splendid homestand, we offer two findings:

1. The offense, for a change, looks really good.

2. Jair Jurrjens does not.

In taking five of six from the Brewers and Mets, the Braves broke double figures twice. They managed 10-plus runs only six times last season, never after Aug. 12. The influence of new hitting coaches Greg Walker and Scott Fletcher already is apparent. Even when Freddie Freeman couldn’t buy a hit, he was (baseball phrase) grinding out good at-bats, and the culmination came Tuesday night — an 11-pitch AB that yielded an RBI double.

Freeman had two more extra-base hits Wednesday afternoon — a double to right and a homer to left — plus a sacrifice fly. Not to get all Zen on you, but this grinding stuff works. If the Braves keep at it, they’ll hit enough to be a playoff team. Provided …

Continue reading His team’s hitting, but Jurrjens isn’t pitching – and he knows it »

A tale too often told: The Braves play as the great Chipper sits

Chipper Jones hit a homer in Houston on his first night back. (AP photo)

He's still got it: Chipper Jones hit a homer in Houston on his first night back. (AP photo)

The last home opener of Chipper Jones’ big-league career brought to mind what should have been his first home opener as an Atlanta Brave. He couldn’t play then, either. The year was 1994, and he’d torn his ACL running to first base in a night exhibition against the Yankees in Fort Lauderdale.

Now as then, it was his left knee. (Not that his right has held fast. He had meniscus surgery on that one last summer.) He wrenched his left knee an hour before announcing in spring training that he will retire at season’s end, and there could have been no grimmer twist of fate: Even in trying to say goodbye, the great Chipper Jones had to say “Ouch” first.

That latest injury — a tear of the meniscus — forced the great Chipper to start his final season on the disabled list. Without him, the Braves lost their first four games. He rode to the rescue in Houston, hitting a home run in his first game …

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In a difficult season, Mfon Udofia has become Tech’s anchor

He has known highs and lows, but Mfon Udofia has perservered. (AP photo)

He has known highs and lows at Georgia Tech, but Mfon Udofia has perservered. (AP photo)

Mfon Udofia was the second-ranked prospect in the fourth-ranked recruiting class of 2009, and he arrived at Georgia Tech believing great things were possible. “Yeah,” he said. “Final Four, national championship.”

Three years later, Udofia is the point guard on a Tech team that required the fullness of a regular season to win four conference games. “This way is harder,” he said last week, speaking after the Jackets beat Wake Forest on Saturday. “But it’s still playing ball.”

One by one, heralded contemporaries  have departed: Derrick Favors to the NBA after one season; Brian Oliver to Seton Hall after two; Glen Rice suspended last month without hope of restoration. Given that the other two members of the Class of 2009 — Daniel Miller and Kammeon Holsey — were redshirted as freshmen, Udofia remains the strongest link to the bold expectations that became a massively tempered …

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Kennesaw State (3-22) is losing, but its coach isn’t conceding

Lewis Preston on the day he was introduced as KSU coach's. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Lewis Preston on the day he was introduced as KSU coach's. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

When Lewis Preston delivered the first halftime speech of his life, his team trailed 41-8. And what, Preston is asked, did he say to the Kennesaw State Owls that November day?

“I said, ‘We’re going to go out here [meaning against Wisconsin in Madison] and continue to play, and we’re going to get better as a group no matter what the score is.’ ”

Three months later, Preston offers that oration, or a variation thereof, on a daily basis. His Owls are 3-22. They last won two days before Christmas. They’re 0-13 in the Atlantic Sun, and they’ve already been eliminated from inclusion in the conference tournament. Adding to the fun and frolic is this: The rookie head coach is working on a one-year contract.

But that last part is about to change, and not in the way you might think. Said Vaughn Williams, KSU’s athletic director: “We’re working on a multi-year contract. In a lot of ways, we’re improving …

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Live from Athens: UGA hooks Harvey-Clemons – or does it?

Bulldog Nation -- at least a portion of it -- gathers in anticipation. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Bulldog Nation — at least a portion of it — gathers in anticipation. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Athens — Here we are at Butts-Mehre, sometimes known as Dawg Mahal, and you can cut the tension with a … well, you know. It’s Signing Day, and the biggest undecided name in Georgia’s sights is about to pledge his troth. (Or, to use a more contemporary image, don some school’s baseball cap.)

And Josh Harvey-Clemons, the linebacker from Lowndes, picked …

Georgia.

For the record, Harvey-Clemons did not do the now-tiresome hat trick. Instead he allowed his younger sister to take off one sweatshirt to reveal a red Georgia shirt underneath. Style points!

And that, you’d have to think, would ease the doubt some Bulldog fans had over this class not being ranked as highly — at least not by Rivals and Scout — as last season’s. Harvey-Clemons gives Georgia the No. 1 player (at least in somebody’s ratings) in four different states.

UPDATE: As of 3:07 p.m., Georgia hasn’t received Harvey-Clemons’ …

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Live from Falcons-Giants: We’re a lousy sports city, are we?

"If I give you two dimes and a nickel, will you give me a quarter back?" (AP photo)

"If I give you two dimes and a nickel, will you give me a quarter back?" (AP photo)

East Rutherford, N.J. – Here’s a fun little nugget that was posted on the New York Post’s web site yesterday: As of Friday night, the Giants-Falcons playoff game was not sold out.

If said game were being staged at the Georgia Dome, we Atlantans would be hearing yet again how lousy a sports town we are. But this is New York, where millions live and where sports are, we’re constantly reminded, a point of strutting metropolitan pride.

Let the record reflect that an attempt to find available tickets this morning via Ticketmaster was unavailing, so we can assume that the game finally has sold out. Still, the thought of a Giants’ home postseason game with available seats not 30 hours before kickoff would surely come as a revelation to those New Yorkers who love to poke fun at us dumb ol’ Southerners for our indifference/inattention.

But I digress. The Falcons arrive with a point to prove, and the …

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