Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mark Texeira Song Guys are Back

Mark gives the new song a thumb sideways.
A couple of years ago when the Braves traded for Mark Teixeira, two musically inclined fans got revved up, pulled out their sofa like Wayne and Garth and sang a tribute to the man who was sure to put a chicken in every Braves fan's pot. 

It turns out the song was much better than the Braves' chances of making the playoffs that year because they had a starting rotation of John Smoltz, Tim Hudson, Craig McMurtry, Zane Smith and Tits McGee.* But we all were pretty fired up about the trade, and the song got some publicity for symbolizing that optimism.

(Curiously, there was no song about Casey Kotchman when the Braves traded Teixeira to the Angels the following year.)

Well, those guys (who call themselves Tito and the Gun Show) are back at it with a Bobby Cox tribute which they recorded at the behest of ThankBobby.com

Personally, I think the Mark Teixeira effort was much stronger, but this one is no slouch either. And anyone who writes original songs about the Braves is a winner in my book, I don't care what the scoreboard says.

*For the curious, the other three pitchers actually were McMurtry, Smith and McGee.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Last Week in Atlanta Sports

From the scene where all they did was stop and look around
In the immortal words of Ferris Bueller, life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

(It's the 1:12 mark here, in case you need a FBDO refresher. It's the same getting-ready-for-the-day scene that brought us the following philosophical gems:

• On licking your palms to get clammy hands: "It's a little childish and stupid, but so is high school."

• "I'm not European. I don't plan on being European. So who gives a crap if they're socialists. They could be fascist anarchists. It still wouldn't change the fact that I don't own a car."
• And, "I could be the walrus. I'd still have to bum rides off of people.")

Anyway, my point is that we need to look back on the week that was and remind ourselves of just how it impacted our lives as fans of Atlanta sports. Some things happened to make us laugh. Some things made us cry. And some things made us want to fire Mark Richt.

Here's how it all went down.

Monday - 9/20/2010
• The Braves began the day three games out of first place in the N.L. East and opened a series with the first place Phillies. Jair Jurrjens wimped out of his start because he probably didn't want to be part of the impending humiliation. In his place the Braves thought it was a good idea to start a guy named Beachy, which turned out to be his real name and not Bobby Cox's unimaginative nickname for him.

• No one on Georgia's football team got arrested, but looking back someone probably should have planted some weed (or some red panties – something) in Mike Bobo's car.

Tuesday - 9/21/2010
• The Braves, in desperate need of a win to provide a boost for their floundering playoff hopes, sent pitching stalwart Mike Minor to the mound to face Roy Halladay in a classic late September pitching matchup between division rivals. And that sentence is all you need to know about why Bobby Cox has driven approximately 7,000 Braves fans to insanity in the last 20 years.

• Even though the Braves lost, Freddie Freeman hit his first career home run. (And I must confess here. Until he was called up in September and I saw a picture of him, I genuinely thought Freddie Freeman was black – like maybe he was Marvin's nephew or something and I just hadn't heard that detail of his background. My bad.)

• The Falcons announced that Jerious Norwood was out for the season thanks to a torn ACL. We've heard over and over about how "explosive" Norwood is. I didn't know they were talking about his ligaments.

• Also, I wrote this.

Wednesday - 9/22/2010
•  The bad news was the Braves lost again to the Phillies, 1-0. The good news was that they didn't start someone from the East Cobb Yankees on the mound to do it. Tommy Hanson pitched and went toe to toe with Roy Oswalt. At this rate, if I'm Tommy Hanson I'm already counting the days to free agency when I can go to a team that doesn't incessantly hit pop ups with the bases loaded.

Thursday - 9/23/2010
• The Braves had an off day, but they took that time to work on their situational hitting. Terry Pendleton threw soft toss while Melky Cabrera and the boys practiced hitting weak three-hoppers to shortstop with runners on first and third and one out.

Friday - 9/24/2010
• I picked Georgia with a confidence of 10 in my ESPN College Pick'em contest. If I were a gambling man, I literally would have bet all but about $10 of my money that Georgia was going to win that game. I keep thinking that I should start gambling for fun, but things like that just keep me from taking the leap.

• The Brave lost...to the worst team in the East. And yet somehow, they remained only a half game out of the wild card race.

Saturday - 9/25/2010
• Braves win. (Yay! Fire Bobby Cox anyway! Oh wait, he quit already.)

• Dawgs lose to Mississippi State. I turned off my TV with over four minutes left in the game and never even bothered to look back. Like a cool guy walking away from an explosion. 

Sunday - 9/26/2010
• The Braves lose...again. To the Nationals...again. In the stretch run of a pennant race in the next to last week of the season the Braves score 1, 3, 0, 3, 5, and 2 runs and go 1-5 for the week. I'm inspired, aren't you?

Don't look Garrett. It isn't pretty.
• If the Falcons and Saints were playing a game called "make a football do a horizontal parabola in mid air to avoid going through a u-shaped structure," then the Falcons would have lost and Garrett Hartley would be league MVP. However, as it is, Hartley is a huge embarrassing failure and the Falcons salvaged what was basically the sports week from hell.

That's it for this week's version of LWIAS. Check back next Monday when we talk about the end of Bobby Cox's career as a Brave, the Hawks' new uniforms and Georgia losing to Colorado then having their airplane struck by lightning on the flight home because that's the only way things could get any worse and they seem intent on making all Georgia fans as depressed as possible.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Georgia Bulldogs New Rule: Everyone Has to Walk

And now this from the "hole in the head" department (as in, I don't need another one).

I admit that I have gotten in the car and driven after having a few drinks at some point in my past. But if I was on a team of bloggers and nine of my blogging buddies got arrested within the past year, that's what we'd call "a trend." I'm pretty sure I'd call a cab. Demetre Baker is exhibit number 3,492, 944 in my contention that 18 and 19 year old boys are the stupidest people on earth.

In response, Georgia head coach* Mark Richt is taking the cars away from every one of his players for the rest of the season. He'll return them when he gets his pink slip.

*lame duck

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Jim Harbaugh is Looking Mighty Nice for Georgia

Sanford Stadium on Saturdays next year if Richt is still the head coach.
When I was growing up in south Georgia the local river flooded so bad that they called it a 500 year flood,  meaning that it was so excessively floody (not a word, but roll with it) that it wouldn't happen like that for another 500 years.

I'm getting the feeling that that's how bad this season is going to be for Georgia. (Which means you can print this post and wipe your butt with it.) But I'll come back to that.

Mark Richt just lost his job. Losing to Mississippi State, and only scoring a garbage time touchdown doing it, automatically renders you not qualified to coach at Georgia. It's in the contract. The fact that you even got into the wrong end of "garbage time" against the other Bulldogs is enough to make Athens want to shut down as a municipality.

So it may not happen until the end of the season, but if Richt is back next year Georgia might as well go join the Big East.

Which means it's time to start talking about a replacement.

For my money (a nickel's worth of free advice) I think Jim Harbaugh should at least be in Georgia's top three, whenever it starts its search (read: Monday).

Harbaugh has turned a moribund Stanford program into something to be reckoned with in the Pac-10, but that's obvious. Perhaps not so obvious is the fact that Harbaugh's recruiting tentacles already reach the talent rich south. I've covered high school football in metro Atlanta for the past four years and frequently you'll hear of quality local recruits having Stanford on their list. Harbaugh's even managed to talk a few of them into becoming Cardinal.

Henry County receiver Jamal-Rashad Patterson, Woodward Academy defensive lineman Henry Anderson, Walton High School linebacker Chase Thomas and Centennial High School offensive lineman David Yankey have all packed their southern drawls and headed west for Harbaugh in the past two seasons.

He seems to know what he's doing, he can get players and he's an up and comer, which means he's got two qualities that Mark Richt does not.

As for the rest of Georgia's season, is there a game on the schedule – other than Idaho State and maybe (MAYBE) Vanderbilt – that looks like a sure Georgia win? Five wins looks like pie in the sky right now.

No wonder A.J. Green sold his jersey. He might as well sign with an agent today because his team's season is over.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Hawks the NBA's 14th Most Powerful Team

"What's that up there?" It's five other teams in the Eastern Conference
ESPN's Marc Stein came out with his preseason power rankings today. And can someone please explain to me why they're called "power rankings"? Something called power rankings should be a list of dictators or superheroes, not sports teams. When I think of the word "power" I think of He-Man or Hitler. I'm not sure the word is being used properly.

Anyway, Stein has the Hawks listed as the 14th most powerful team in the NBA, and less powerful than five other teams in the Eastern Conference – the Heat, Celtics, Magic, Bulls and Bucks.

(That list of teams reminds of how my sister-in-law thinks that virtually all NBA team names would work just as well for names of male strippers.  If you don't agree just ask one of your friends who doesn't follow basketball whether "Houston Rocket" is the name of a basketball team or the dude who twirled his chaps over his head at your wife's bachelorette party.)

I bring up the power rankings for two reasons.

1. It means we're that much closer to listening to our hero Dominique Wilkins use the word "good" 78 times per night as color analyst for the Hawks. 'Nique is basketball royalty, but he is to color commentary what Richie Tenenbaum was to art.

2. I needed someone credible to agree with regarding the fact that the Hawks are going to be worse this year.

The team made no significant improvements, hired a career backup who no one else even considered as a head coach and spent $120 million on Joe Johnson. Jamal Crawford is suddenly a malcontent, and the team is hoping for an infusion of energy from the 27th pick in the draft (Jordan Crawford) and a point guard who barely averaged 10 minutes per game last season.

Everyone else (the Heat, Bulls and Celtics in particular) got better, but the Hawks basically stood pat with a team that got humiliated in the second round of the playoffs. And you can only tread water for so long before you eventually sink. Just ask Leonardo DiCaprio.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's Never Sunny in Cincinnati Says Hi

I have to give a blog hug of appreciation to the folks at INSIC for welcoming DDC with open arms. (And for incorporating the word "blumpkin" into their shout out. If you're a PG or even a decent R rated person, don't Google it. I'm serious about this. You don't want to know.)

If for some reason you ever Google "It's never s" they're already fourth on the list, indisputable evidence that they have arrived as the blog about Cincinnati sports.

When our cities cross paths on the playing field (October 24 Bengals-Falcons, for example) we'll probably collaborate on some kind of blogging dueling banjos to try to figure out which is better, the Big Chicken or burned down Touchdown Jesus. And they may try to burn the Big Chicken to make it an even fight.  I wouldn't put it past them.

Anyway, thanks again to the folks at INSIC.

Braves Swept by Phillies, but At Least We're Not the Twins

The Braves have the day off, but I'm only about 90 percent sure they won't lose to the Phillies today anyway.

The Braves still have a half game lead in the wild card, but I can't seem to escape the ubiquitous question, "How are they going to blow this?" (As you can see, I ask myself this a lot.)

I'm already consoling myself with the thought that if they blow it it's okay, because if they actually made it to the playoffs it's not like they would win anything there. (I'll get into the reasons why, other than my pessimism, if they actually get in.) And that brought me to the Minnesota Twins.

The Nemeses of '91 just clinched the AL Central Division title for the second straight year and the sixth time since 2002. They're in. Good for them, right?


In their previous five trips to the playoffs (no wildcards for the Twinkies) they have won a total of six games. They lost four times in the Division series, and in those four losses they were swept twice and never won more than one game. They have an overall playoff record of 6-18 since they beat the Braves in the World Series. If you Google "Just glad to be here" it takes you directly to the Twins official website. (It doesn't really, but you get my point.)

I don't know about you, but I don't want to end up like that. We've done that here in Atlanta (Braves playoffs since 2000: six appearances, five LDS losses, 11-19 playoff record) and it's the very reason why you can get playoff tickets the day of the game in this city.

I'm not saying I want the Braves to lose. I'm saying that they need to show us something in these last nine games. Sweep the Nats. Regain some dignity against the Phils. Throw the fans a bone. Give me something to believe in.

Because at this rate, if the Braves do get in, it will almost be by accident, and that doesn't bode well for their chances of doing anything significant once they get in.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Time for the Bag of Tricks

Roger McDowell's tenure as the Braves pitching coach has been about as boring as his playing career was entertaining. I mean, this is the guy who was the Second Spitter on the gravelly road. He was in an episode of Seinfeld for crying out loud!

The picture over there ran in Sports Illustrated's Hot Clicks last week. I'm not sure which is funnier - the fact that he showed up at home plate in full Tim the Tool Man regalia or the fact that he's brazenly sporting a curly mullet that looks like it's attached to his hat.

But he's been so unnoticeable as the Braves pitching coach that I'd be thrilled just to see him start rocking back and forth in the dugout.

The Braves starting pitching has been inconsistent at best down the stretch, and with a one-game lead in the wild card with 10 to play maybe it's about time he started teaching them how to use some "hardware" to enhance their stuff.

I don't condone cheating, but Braves opponents have certainly taken some liberties in the past. And cheating is as big a part of baseball as fixed games in the NBA. So put some Crisco on your chest, Roger, and show 'em how it's done.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I'm No Optimist, but if Georgia Wins Out...

As you can surmise by the overall heartbreak theme of this blog, I'm not exactly an optimist. As I was watching the Georgia game on Saturday the first thought that entered my mind when the Bulldogs got the ball trailing 24-17 in the fourth quarter was "How are they going to blow this?"

My timing was off, as they scored on that drive to tie the game, but the question is one that obviously warranted asking. The game ended in horrific DDW near-miss fashion which prompted me to set a new distance record in the time-honored couch potato game of "projectile remote control."

However, even though the season has been a horrific series of uninspired foul-ups thus far, all hope is not lost.

First of all, I'm no dunce. This team has a ceiling. For the 29th year in a row the Georgia Bulldogs will not be national champions. It sucks stones that this is a fact only three games into the season.

However, the possibility of the Dawgs reaching the SEC title game is not completely unrealistic, despite their recent performances.

If Georgia wins out, they have a very real possibility of winning the East. They won't beat Alabama in the title game, but getting there will be the equivalent of Tommy Callahan's first brake pad sale - completely unexpected and a cause for celebration regardless of what happens afterward.

Let's get down to brass facts.

• Georgia has two SEC losses, one of which is to South Carolina, so if the cocks lose two or fewer SEC games, they will finish ahead of Georgia.

• Since South Carolina joined the SEC in 1992, it has never (NEVER) had fewer than three SEC losses at the end of the season. With games remaining against Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas and Florida it stands to reason that that streak will continue.

• If Georgia wins out, that means that they will have beaten Florida. Florida also plays Alabama and LSU, in back to back weeks, no less. (And now I have to go take a shower because I got that information from the schedule on a website called Gatorzone. I feel violated.) The way Florida has played to start the season, there's a very good chance that they will not win both of those games.

• If Florida has two SEC losses (one to Georgia), and South Carolina has three SEC losses, and Georgia wins all of its remaining SEC games, the Dawgs will win the East.

Honestly the biggest test to my willful suspension of disbelief in that entire scenario is the Dawgs not losing again. They'll get the help they need, but the question is, will they take advantage of it? Probably not, but I do think they beat Florida this year as a consolation prize and a stay of execution for Mark Richt.

Jim Leyritz in Trouble? Yes!

Jim Leyritz and his stupid stiff front leg are a giant doo-doo stain on the sports history of Atlanta. I'll add more about that later, but this blog post from Atlanta Metblogs pretty much encapsulates how we here at DDW feel about him. (And by the way, I know that's the name of the blog network, but I'd have a hard time writing for something called "Metblog.")

It's no laughing matter that he is now in legal hot water in a DUI manslaughter case. But the part of my brain that is unable to separate perceived sports evil from real world justice is sort of relishing the fact that this d-bag could end up behind bars for his crime against humanity.

This documents his crime against my heart.

(Also, how did we lose to a team with fat Cecil Fielder and old Darryl Strawberry on it? Pass the HGH, Jimbo!)

The Horrible Dominique Trade

The first post goes to our namesake, Dominique Wilkins.

On February 24, 1994 the Atlanta Hawks made one of the worst trades in the history of the NBA. In honor of 'Nique, I'm going to document exactly why this trade was the Jump To Conclusions Mat of NBA trades with a bullet point breakdown. (Why, oh why weren't Samir and Michael Bolton in the meeting when Pete Babcock brought up the idea to trade 'Nique?)

The Hawks were in first place in the Eastern Conference at the time. They were 36-16 at the time of the trade, tied for first place in the Central Division with the Jordan-less Chicago Bulls. Why in God's name would you trade a go-to scorer when you have a legitimate shot at earning a No. 1 seed (which they eventually did).

The Hawks included a No. 1 draft pick in the deal. It's almost like they got confused in their negotiation tactics and drove up the price on themselves. I'm convinced the Clippers initially asked for Stacey Augmon and a second round pick, but the Hawks talked them out of it. When you get taken to the cleaners in a trade with the Clippers you know you've slipped into some kind of alternate transaction reality.

• Both Wilkins and Manning were in the final year of their contracts. The Hawks would have to attempt to re-sign either one. So why not make that attempt with your best scorer and the face of the franchise?

After the season, Babcock admitted that he had no expectation of re-signing Manning. This was his quote in an AJC article by Steve Hummer dated August 4, 1994.

"Lenny [Wilkens] and I are disappointed Danny is not coming back. But we were prepared for it. We made the trade with the understanding he wouldn't be back."

This means that they made the deal strictly because they thought Manning would be an upgrade over 'Nique on the court. With talent evaluation like that, it makes you wonder how they got to the top of the Eastern Conference heap in the first place.

The Hawks were viewed as a legitimate contender in the East before the trade. After the trade, they continued to win, but their status as a contender in the playoffs took a major hit. And of course, they quietly bowed out in the second round (sound familiar?) to Indiana.