Posts Tagged ‘Atlanta’

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! »

This just in: Atlanta, Ga., is NOT a lousy sports city!

We get interested in college football pretty early down here. (AJC photo by Sunny Sung)

We get interested in college football pretty early down here. (AJC photo by Sunny Sung)

For reasons unclear, I’m occasionally called to converse via radio with an audience in some other town. Invariably I’m asked, “Why is Atlanta such a bad sports city?” And invariably I’ll say this:

“Actually, Atlanta isn’t a bad sports city.”

When folks in other places think of Atlanta sports, they see the empty seats at Braves playoff games or they recall the Falcons and their wild mood swings. (Sometimes they even think of the Hawks. Not the Thrashers, though.) But there’s more to Atlanta sports than the teams that carry the word “Atlanta” on their jerseys. We’re about to see it yet again.

Georgia Tech opens its season against Jacksonville State on Saturday. Georgia, which technically isn’t based in Atlanta but which has something of an Atlanta following, plays Oklahoma State in Stillwater that day. And that night Alabama and Virginia Tech, each ensconced in the top 10, meet under the …

Continue reading This just in: Atlanta, Ga., is NOT a lousy sports city! »

Don’t look now, but the Bravos are back in this thing!

They’re back in it. We can’t know if they’re going to win it, but they’re in it. The Braves went 6-4 on their loudest homestand in years, and if 6-4 doesn’t sound all that hot, let’s recall they were 2-4 as of Sunday morning. Let’s also recall that only five days ago a lot of us figured they’d wind up 2-8.

But they didn’t. They roused themselves and played at a higher level than we had seen since Memorial Day, which not coincidentally marked the last time they had won a series. Back then they swept the Blue Jays, who were leading the AL East. This time they swept the reigning World Series champs, who arrived leading the NL East but who depart in a first-place tie.

The Florida Marlins are now co-leaders, and the Braves, while still in fourth place, are only two games back. Talk about exquisite timing. Lose three to the Phils and they would have been eight games out and surely looking to dump salary at month’s end. They’re not dumping anything now. They figure with their …

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Live from the ballpark: The mighty Bako and my U-turn

I’m headed to the ballpark for Game 3 of Braves-Phils. Actually, I headed for the ballpark at 8:55 p.m. last night but never made it. Sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of my fateful trip …

Last night I endeavored to do absolutely nothing, and I was successfully negotiating my mission — hadn’t looked at the computer in three hours — when I happened to pick up MY NEW IPHONE. And I noticed, via the ESPN scoreboard app, the Braves were leading the Phillies 9-1. Then I noticed the Phillies didn’t have a hit through 5 2/3 innings. I waited until the third out in the top of the sixth was made, and I called the office and said, “If Jurrjens throws a no-hitter, can we take a column for print?”

Yes, came the answer. And I swung, as it were, into action. Put on blue jeans, sandals and the same Led Zeppelin T-shirt from Wolfgang’s Vault — it has an iPhone app, too — I was wearing when I drove to the ballyard at 9:15 on a Friday night in September 2007 because the office called …

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The Hot Button: Should the Braves trade Yunel Escobar?

Yunel Escobar is, shall we say, a different sort of Brave. He has blond highlights in his hair. He doesn’t always pay attention. He has a temper and is given to the sulks. He has yet to respond to the gentle urgings of Bobby Cox, which have become less gentle over time.

According to Buster Olney of ESPN.com, the Braves “are willing to trade Escobar for a good hitter right now.” (Link requires registration.) But I don’t think they will. Nor do I believe they should. Because Yunel Escobar is a different sort of Brave in another way:

He can really hit. And he can really play.

The Braves have become so skilled at siphoning off higher-maintenance types that they have lesser tolerance for one than do, say, the Yankees or the Dodgers. But sometimes a higher level of maintenance isn’t just needed but advisable. Some guys are worth the trouble. John Rocker was not. Yunel Escobar is.

He’s a great talent who comes with an inherent disconnect. He doesn’t speak much English. (He’s from …

Continue reading The Hot Button: Should the Braves trade Yunel Escobar? »

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:

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Your attention, please: Braves have a new second sacker

You know dumb ol’ Bobby Cox? The manager who never changes his mind? The one who wouldn’t give up on Kelly Johnson as his second baseman no matter how little he hit?

Bobby Cox announced Tuesday night he has a new second baseman.

After Martin Prado had four hits (two singles, a double and a homer) and four RBIs (three to tie the game on three separate occasions, the fourth to win it in the 10th), Cox said: “Every time he’s in there, he does something good.”

So an enterprising journalist (blush) asked the manager: Is Prado your starting second baseman?

Should Martin Prado start at 2B the rest of the season?

  • Yes.
  • No.

View Results

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Said Cox: “Right now, yes. He’s too hot to take out, unless his groin flares up.”

Contrary to popular belief, Cox isn’t the world’s biggest idiot. (As we know, this enterprising journalist is the world’s biggest idiot.) He has seen his team not hit for what seems like forever, and he has seen the nudge Prado has provided. …

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Another special Bradley’s Buzz: All-free agency edition!

The NBA: Hawks on the clock!

In his breakdown of the top 30 free agents (link requires registration), Chad Ford of ESPN.com lists Mike Bibby as No. 7 among unrestricted free agents — Zaza Pachulia and Flip Murray are included among “other notables” — and two more Hawk properties among the top restricted free agents. And now you’re asking: Two?

Yep. Marvin Williams is No. 3, and Josh Childress, who hasn’t played for the Hawks since May 2008, is No. 5. Here’s what Mr. Ford has to say about those two, and also about Bibby:

Williams: “Has as as much raw talent as anyone else in the class of 2005, but he’s been frustratingly inconsistent in his first four years with the Hawks. While he’ll probably stay in Atlanta, he’s not playing well enough to earn anything close to the $60-64 million over five years that [Danny] Granger got last fall, to contrast Williams with one small forward from his draft class.”

Childress: “Shocked many in the NBA by deciding to bolt for Greece last summer. …

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After 75 forgettable games, Braves have one to remember

When you’ve played 75 games and nothing much has happened, you’re looking for that one good night. You’re looking for a start, a spark, a reason to keep hoping when you’re a good week away from even nosing above .500. Maybe this was that night. Maybe this was the start of something, if not quite big, then at least bigger than what we’ve seen.

The Braves blew a game against the reigning world champs and won it anyway. They won it because Gregor Blanco, who was playing only because Bobby Cox decided after batting practice that Nate McLouth shouldn’t, and Martin Prado, playing only because Kelly Johnson has forgotten how, mustered seven hits between them.

They won it because they outpitched the Phillies, which everyone does, and also outhit them, which you wouldn’t figure these Braves could ever do. They won it despite two horrendous pitches from Mike Gonzalez that turned a 3-2 lead into a 4-3 deficit. They won it in the way the Braves used to win games all the time but this team …

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Live from the ballyard: Charlie Manuel reconsidered (by me)

I’m going to the Braves-Phillies game and will be doing another in our series of live chats — please note the Braves have lost the past two times we’ve tried this — but I’ll be a little late getting to the ballpark. We Digital folks at the ol’ AJC have a media coaching session this afternoon, and if you recall my encounter with the Mayor of Cleveland you know I need all the media coaching I can get.

In the interim, I’ve giving you folks a little homework. Read this story, by Mark Bechtel of Sports Illustrated, about Philly manager Charlie Manuel. When first I had occasion to speak with Mr. Manuel — back in 2007, as I recall — I walked away thinking, “He reminds me of Eddie Haas.” And that is not, I should stipulate, a comparison you’d want me to make about you.

But the Bechtel story — it’s terrific — opened my eyes, and it also made me feel a bit ashamed. If anybody should know the perils of drawing conclusions from background and appearances, it’s a guy who was, in the summer …

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