published Friday, March 30th, 2012

5 at 10: Friday mailbag on Tebow, Final Four and more

From the "Talks Too Much Studios" here we go.

From CelticVol

  • photo
    Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard (12) is defended by New York Knicks' Tyson Chandler (6) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 28, 2012, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Hey 5@10,

How disgusting was the fiasco with Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic before the trading deadline. What a soap opera! He was staying, then he was going, then he was staying. It was like watching my kids choose between a chocolate and strawberry pop-tart. According to reports, Howard was given the choice of whether or not GM Otis Smith and Coach Stan Van Gundy were retained. For the life of me I don’t understand how you can let one player run your whole franchise. There’s no way, no how, I would ever have re-signed Howard. I don’t care if he is one of the top 5 players in the league; no one player is going to hold my team hostage. If you were the owner of that franchise how would you have handled the whole situation?

C-Vol,

Great question, and a tough one to answer. Basketball is such a different beast because one great player can change so much. Plus, with the movement afoot that superstars are now trying to align with other superstars, if you let one stud duck like Dwight Howard go, it's going to be tougher to get other studs or convince other players and your fans you're willing to do anything to win.

In the end the Magic offered Howard the most money, and it bought them an extra year — and these same headaches this time next year. It's a complete lose-lose situation for the franchise. I would have done everything in my power to deal Howard. Follow the example Denver set when they shipped Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks. At least that way you are trying to make the best of the bad situation and get something in return.

But again, and heard friend of the show Quake talk about this the other day on SportTalk, all of this was so stark in contrast compared to how the Peyton Manning exit from Indy was handled. And as we stated before, one player means the world in hoops, but no one player meant more to one city than Peyton did to Indianapolis, and that break-up was so impressive compared to the one-year stay that Howard and the Magic worked out at the 11th hour.

Side note: Here's a quick list of the top five current players that mean the most to their cities, considering at least two — Albert Pujols and Manning — spots opened up when icons switched teams:

1) Tom Brady, the greater Boston area

2) Derek Jeter, NYC

3) Kobe Bryant, L.A.

4) Drew Brees, New Orleans

5) Ichiro, Seattle

And to be fair, it's not just Dwight Howard. Some would say Da'Rick Rogers is holding the UT football program hostage in some ways. Do the Vols need Da'Rick's talents? Of course. Do they need Da'Rick's distractions? Of course not. But where does the balance tilt from dealing with to dealt with?

It's hard to believe that Da'Rick Rogers — some folks we know have dubbed him the Calhoun Cancer — is not already on Dean Derek Dooley's double-secret probation. What are the odds Rogers plays another regular-season game in UT orange? Is it 5-to-1?

————

From OTWatcher

  • photo
    Kentucky coach John Calipari talks to reporters during a news conference in New Orleans, Thursday, March 29, 2012. Kentucky will play Louisville in an NCAA tournament Final Four semifinal college basketball game on Saturday. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

It's been a great tournament and the Final Four can't get any bigger than this one. Who do you think wins Saturday, and who does this mean more to that anyone?

We agree OT about the Final Four. We're genuinely excited, especially for the Louisville-UK showdown. It's hard to remember two arch-rivals facing off for bigger stakes in a long while. (Red Sox-Yankees is close, but those teams play so often and that rivalry is shoved down the nation's throat to the point of backlash.)

Our son has Kentucky and Kansas meeting in the title game on his sheet. (He's 4, and he beat everyone in the house, including the 5-at-10, who is, you know, paid to be informed about sporting matters. Did we mention he's 4 and right now he's playing Angry Birds in his PJs. Alas.)

We'll stick with that, and we think Saturday's UofL-UK game could be every bit as good as the Duke-UNLV game in 1991 and could match the epic 1983 Louisville-Houston semifinal that was simply amazing.

As for meaning, for the fan bases this could mean everything to Louisville. It would be a big chip in the big banter game. The Cards will never get as many titles, but a win Saturday would forever be some ammo.

UK fan: "You guys are never going to be UK."

UL fan: "Maybe, but we beat you head-to-head in the Final Four."

UK fan: "Shut up."

As for participants in the game, it's easily John Calipari. Dude has become an A-list coach in every way except he does not have a title. And if Coach Cal falls short this year — with the best team mind you — there will be serious questions about whether he can win the big one.

(Side note: There's still time to enter the Kemba Walker Memorial Shootout, Final Four edition. Here's the ground rules: Pick two players — can be from the same team can be from different teams; most total points scored wins; submit your picks in the order of which player you think will score the most; the first tie-breaker if people submit similar entries will be the points scored from the top dogs — this means if you enter Jared Sullinger and Thomas Robinson, it's not the same exact entry as Thomas Robinson and Jared Sullinger; further tie breakers will be announced as needed.

Here's who is in:

5-at-10 — Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Thomas Robinson

McPell — Tyshawn Taylor and Anthony Davis

scole023 — Thomas Robinson and Anthony Davis

Follower — MKG and Jared Sullinger

Tiger — William Buford and Michael Kidd Gilchrist

OTWatcher — Anthony Davis and MKG

dawg747 — Sullinger and Anthony Davis

StuckinKent — Sullinger and MKG

wcole777 — Kyle Kuric and Jared Sullinger

Mrs. 5-at-10 — Doron Lamb and Thomas Robinson

BlueOval — Thomas Robinson and Anthony Davis

Blessed — Silva and Buford

Norman — T. Jones and Craft

————

  • photo
    In this fie photo, Tim Tebow holds his first news conference with the New York Jets on March 26, 2012, in Florham Park, N.J.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

From Follower

Did you see Tim Tebow's tweets? The guy never fails to make the proper move. Classy guy. Is there anyway for him to make it work in New York with the Jets? Love the 5-at-10.

Follower,

When the deal was first announced, we thought there was no worse situation than the New York Jets.

But now let's review the parameters of this deal:

What do the Jets need more than anything? Leadership in the locker room, and who is a better leader than Tebow. (And yes, it's tough to be a leader and be a reserve, but even as loud as strong as his skeptics can be about Tebow's physical skills, there is no one that does not say this kid is a five-star leader. And he was a leader at Florida as a freshman without being the starting quarterback on a team that won the national title.)

What does Tebow need more than anything to be successful? An offense that will maximize his strengths — power running — and help mask his lack of passing accuracy. It would take an aggressive and rebellious coaching staff to install a true power spread-option attack, and who is a more aggressive and rebellious coach than Rex Ryan. (He's a lot of things — good and bad — but Ryan has his players' backs and is willing to try just about anything to win, and both of those things are high praise for a coach.)

What about the bright lights of NYC? Well, as you pointed out, Tebow rarely makes a wrong move off the field. (And the tweet you mentioned included Tebow making fun of Tebow by saying he's "excited" about being in New York — using the same word he used 44 times in his press conference.)

It's going to be tough sledding for Tebow in NYC, but if anyone can make that scenario work, it's Tebow.

————

  • photo
    Atlanta Braves' Jason Heyward swings at a pitch against the New York Yankees in the seventh inning of a spring training baseball game in Kissimmee, Fla., Wednesday, March 28, 2012. Heyward struck out in the at-bat, but hit a two-run home run in the ninth inning. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

From Chopper

How do you think the Braves will do this year? Every other team in their division got better and the Braves stayed the same. (I am not super confident about them if you couldn't already tell.) What do you think and thanks for the 5@10.

Chopper,

We can understand and appreciate your concern. Between injuries and unknowns, these Braves appear to be as big a question mark as there is in the National League.

And the face of that uncertainty is Jason Heyward. Is he the face of the franchise, the can't-miss kid who opened his big-league career with a three-run homer on opening day at Turner Field in 2010? Or is he the can't-hit kid that became the MLB version of an automatic out during the dog days of last summer. Heyward was so confused at the plate for the latter half of 2011 he lost his job to George Constanza (it's close enough), and there's really no way to tell what he'll do this year. Granted the spring stats are less than encouraging — Heyward is at .214 with 15 hits and 21 strikeouts in 70 spring at-bats — but even those present their own dichotomy.

Is Heyward coming around — he has four hits, including two homers, in his last 10 ABs — or is he barely hanging on? And if spring matters so much for Heyward, then why was he not any better in 2011 when he hit .356 in the spring?

It's hard to know, but there seems to be two distinct paths here. Path 1: Heyward finds the confidence (and that's what the all-knowing and mystical mind-reader that is the Shabazz-at-10 believes is the main problem) that made him the talk of baseball in April of 2010. He starts the season quickly and starts having fun again. He moves his way up the lineup and the Atlanta offense becomes as good as any in the NL. If this happens, Jason Heyward is baseball's Jason Seaver and we chalk 2011 up to "Growing Pains" and all is well — both now and in the future.

Path 2: Heyward struggles. Badly. And the questions keep coming. They'll start with..."What's wrong?" and "Are you injured?"... and they'll grow to "Fredi, have you thought about sitting Heyward down for a few days?" and "When are you guys going to call Jason back to the bigs?" And while that throws a major monkey wrench into the franchise's long-term goals it also changes this year's lineup. If Heyward contributes, this team can score runs. If not, the holes — a rookie shortstop, Chipper Jones' uncertain health, etc. — start to mount.

Chopper, the Braves are going to be competitive, especially if Tommy Hanson and Timmy Hudson return healthy and Mikey Minor and Brandon Beachy are ready to hold down spots in the rotation. The offense, though, could not be more unclear.

————

  • photo
    In this July 29, 2011 file photo, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton, left, talks with general manager Mickey Loomis during NFL football training camp at the team's practice facility, in Metairie, La. A person familiar with the situation says decisions are still pending on a possible appeal of Payton's suspension or an interim coach should his season-long punishment be upheld. The person says Payton, general manager Mickey Loomis and their staffs are in meetings at the team's suburban headquarters and focused primarily on preparations for next month's NFL draft.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

From JordanRules

Bounty-gate has been so over-hyped. It's up there with the Decision (and all things LeBron) as the biggest media-created sports story. Give me a break. Why do you guys latch on to some thing like that and just keep going and going and going on it?

JordanRules,

Good to hear from you. Where you been and why have you not participated in the Kemba Walker Memorial Shootout? Alas.

It's fair to say the Decision was a huge, media-created debacle. And there are other ones out there too. The post-wreck Tiger coverage bordered on stalker-status and Lin-sanity was insanity and at times in the last year it has felt like Tebow has inherited the Earth (how many third-string QBs get traded and then have a press conference with 200 people in attendance?).

The answer to your question is pretty simply. The 24-hour news cycle generates a lot of time to fill on a lot of different platforms.

Take this morning for example. Let's say you woke up, kissed your life-sized MJ Fathead on the wall and clicked on ESPN. They are talking about Tebow tweeting for the first time in more than a month. OK. Now, after you put on your Hanes, you're on your way to work and click on the Dan Patrick show. He's discussing Tebow. Now, after you have enjoyed your morning Gatorade, you check out the 5-at-10 and we have a Tebow question above and you think, "Sweat baskets of Aunt Edna's socks, I'm sick of Tim Tebow."

That's the short answer for you. It's not so much overkill more times than not, as much as it's over exposure, we guess.

That said, you couldn't be more wrong about Bounty-gate, and we're not even talking about the bounty part of it as much as the fall out. This was a situation that has the potential to be a nine-figure lawsuit against an NFL team and the NFL itself. It strikes at the moral fabric of the nation's most popular sport (and made its most influential entity in pop culture this side of American Idol). And the punishments were historic and fitting. Bounty-gate is a huge story that the media is covering properly in our view.

Want to know another story that's kind of getting under-covered right now? LeBron's regular season numbers this year are better than any regular season MJ every put up. Period. (The 5-at-10 apologizes to everyone in JordanRules' office since he just cussed really loudly.)

Good day, and swing by and share your comments. (And don't forget the Kemba Walker Memorial Shootout, Final Four edition.)

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

9
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Livn4life said...

Da'wight and Da'rick=two very complicated situations. My guess is the future has a more certain payoff for Da'wight than Da'rick. IN my world, they'd both be gone from the team I was king of.

Tebow, the man will be fine. He will face a lot of challenge in New York. The problem is not him it may become a matter of whether or not the players already there will be positively influenced by him. And of course to be Hollywood about it, of Paramount importance will be whether or not they gel as a team and win. Pro Tebow or NegaTebow, it should be interest-raising to see how this all plays out in the fall. When does football season start anyway?

March 30, 2012 at 10:50 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Livn(Large) —

No doubt each scenario is complicated — and in the real world there would be some walking papers handed about. But big-time athletics is not the real world.

We've about talked ourselves into believing that Tebow can make this work. And the answer about "When does football season start?" is not soon enough.

  • 5-at-10
March 30, 2012 at 1:17 p.m.
chas9 said...

If Louisville wins, Cal may leave for the NBA. And for KY fans, the honeymoon will be over.

But The Cards are going down.

Who wins the other game, 5er?

And most important, keep the Strut on MLK where it belongs!

March 30, 2012 at 1:36 p.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

We agree that the Cards will fold. But it could get tight. Fair point about Cal, and we think his dribble-drive O could work in the League.

We're pulling for Kansas. You know we have a man-crush on Thomas Robinson. Dude plays hard.

Sad day for the Strut. That was our favorite event in town. That and Myron Noodleman night at AT&T Field (kidding, kidding).

— 5-at-10

March 30, 2012 at 2:18 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Frankly, I haven't been that bowled over by this year's tournament. Other than the two 15 v 2 upsets, don't flatter yourself, it wasn't that great. Maybe because I had my head down trying to bust tail on a half dozen projects while the TV in my office was blaring the games, but the Sweet 16 games weren't that overwhelming. (As Bill Walton once said, I'm underwhelmed by Dan Gadzuric and Jerome Moiso. I miss Walton.)

5, working on getting a badge for Thursday. Won't know until almost last minute. You going this year? If so, you wanna meet up, big fella? Weeds coming too?

March 30, 2012 at 2:54 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

Heading down Wednesday A.M. Uch will be riding shotgun.

Look us up if you make the trip. We'll buy you a pimento cheese sammich.

— 5-at-10

March 30, 2012 at 4:39 p.m.
chas9 said...

MKG and Sullinger

March 31, 2012 at 9:40 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Updated entries

5-at-10 — Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Thomas Robinson

McPell — Tyshawn Taylor and Anthony Davis

scole023 — Thomas Robinson and Anthony Davis

Follower — MKG and Jared Sullinger

Tiger — William Buford and Michael Kidd Gilchrist

OTWatcher — Anthony Davis and MKG

dawg747 — Sullinger and Anthony Davis

StuckinKent — Sullinger and MKG

wcole777 — Kyle Kuric and Jared Sullinger

Mrs. 5-at-10 — Doron Lamb and Thomas Robinson

BlueOval — Thomas Robinson and Anthony Davis

Blessed — Silva and Buford

Norman — T. Jones and Craft

Chas9 — MKG and Sullinger

JordanRules — T. Taylor and A. Davis

33wannabe — Terrence Jones and Sullinger

Weena — Anthony Davis and Thomas Robinson

Jones — Lamb and T-Robinson

War Eagle — Sullinger and Anthony Davis

Fred — Tyshawn Taylor and MKG

Player A (no name and we try not to put e-mail addresses) — Lamb and Taylor

Player B — Sullinger and MKG

Player C — TJones and Tyshawn Taylor

Player D — Buford and Jones

That's all we have at 5:52 p.m. Saturday afternoon. Good luck to everyone.

— 5-at-10

March 31, 2012 at 5:53 p.m.
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