Sunday, February 13, 2011

Ten Things JJ Thinks He Thinks

1. Georgia Thoughts
A 1-1 week for the Dawgs and if I had to choose which game to win it would have been the South Carolina game. On Tuesday night we lost a tough game to Xavier when we did not get any breaks, but at the same time you have to create your on breaks. In the last two contests against the Musketeers, Xavier has shot 60 free throws, we have shot 20. Yes, I believe you can call that fair.

On Saturday it was a tale of two halves for the Dawgs. In what was a strange game to say the least, with Georgia cruising into the half with a 28-9 lead, only to let Carolina out score them 47-32 after the break.  But after all the dust settled in the Colonial Life Center, Georgia came out on top with the 60-56 win. I have said it before and I will say it again; a win is a win is a win.

Next week gets bigger as the Dawgs will play both SEC teams from the Volunteer State. Wednesday night the Commodores visit Athens in a huge game with the winner having the inside track at the #2 seed out of the SEC East in the SEC tourament. This is important as the first two seeds in each division get a first round bye. Even more important is the fact Vandy has an RPI of 15 so a win would look good on the NCAA resume.

Then on Saturday the Dawgs make a trip to Knoxville in a game that will be broadcast Nationally on CBS. Tennessee has an RPI of 25 so again the Dawgs have a great opportunity. We should have/could have won the first game if for not a Brian Williams over the back non-call. Time to take care of business.

Here is how the SEC East stacks up for the rest of the season.
EAST ............. W-L ....... RPI
Florida ………. 9-2 ….…..11
Tennessee, at LSU, Georgia, at Kentucky, Alabama, at Vanderbilt
Georgia ……... 6-4 .…..…43
Vanderbilt, at Tennessee, at Florida, South Carolina, LSU, at Alabama
Vanderbilt …. 6-4 …......15
At Georgia, at Auburn, Tennessee, at LSU, at Kentucky, Florida
Kentucky ……. 5-5 …..... 14
Mississippi St., S. Carolina, at Arkansas, Florida, Vanderbilt, at Tennessee
Tennessee ….. 5-5 .….... 25
S. Carolina, Georgia, at Vanderbilt, Mississippi St., at S. Carolina, Kentucky
S. Carolina .... 4-6 ….....120
At Tennessee, at Kentucky, Ole Miss, at Georgia, Tennessee, at Miss. St.

2. Baseball Thoughts
a. A couple of the greatest words in the English language. Pitchers and Catchers report today.
b. ESPN Radio is doing a great job today by having a baseball guest every hour from 6:00 am to 10:00. Safe to say I will have some podcasts for the trip to Athens Wednesday night.
c. I picked on Mark Reynolds a little last week but among third basemen the last 3 years he first in home runs (104), 4th in RBI (284), 2nd in runs (264), and 3rd w/ 185 extra base hits. He is probably first in K's as well.
d. Over the past five years only one hurler has five seasons of 14 wins, 200 innings pitched, and 120 Ks - Roy Halladay. Only three others have reached those totals four times - Dan Haren, CC Sabathia and Bronson Arroyo.
e. How does Mr. Arroyo get in with that group?
f.  Earlier this week Jayson Stark tweeted out his all-Unemployed team. Pretty fascinating group of players that could probably win around 70 games by themselves. Here are the players on Stark's team.
g. Starting infield on Stark's All-Unemployed Team: 1B Russell Branyan 2B David Eckstein, SS Orlando Cabrera, 3B Willy Aybar, C Bengie Molina
h. Rotation for All-Unemployed Team: Jeremy Bonderman, Kevin Millwood, Daniel Cabrera, Pedro Martinez, Jarrod Washburn
i. All Unemployed Outfield: LF Scott Podsednik, CF Jay Payton, RF Ryan Church, DH Nick Johnson
j. Bullpen for Stark's All-Unemployed Team: Chad Durbin, Manny Delcarmen, Mike Lincoln, Alfredo Aceves, Elmer Dessens, Scot Shields.
k. Wasn't Matt Lincoln a big time prospect like three or four years ago?
l. How about this Buster Olney quote: "A lot to be excited about with the Braves. Atlanta should have a strong pitching staff; the Braves just added Dan Uggla; Jason Heyward is a year older; Chipper Jones seems to be progressing well in his injury rehabilitation. The battle for the NL East title figures to be fierce, and a lot of fun." Why is that not the quote of the week?
m. Even though he pitches for the Red Sox one of my favorite players in baseball is Jon Lester. How about the stats Lester has against the AL East. He is 13-0 against the Orioles (2.33 ERA), 9-3 against Tampa Bay (3.80), 7-4 against the Blue Jays (3.43), and 6-1 against the Yankees (3.28). That’s 35-8 with a 3.19 ERA.
n. Last season, Red Sox closer and former Mississippi State Bulldog Johnathan Papelbon had a 2.12 ERA in the 16 games he pitched on no rest, a 5.40 ERA in the 18 games he pitched on one day of rest, and a 7.36 ERA when he pitched on two days’ rest. Those numbers do not make any sense.
o. I have started reading Bill Madden's book on George Steinbrenner and even though I am only one chapter in I am absolutely fascinated so far. Everyone knows that Steinbrenner bought the Yankees from CBS for $10 million dollars, do you know how much of his money was put up? Only $186,000.
p. Another thing that fascinates me about this book is the references to the New York restaurant Elaine's. The reason this intrigues me is I would walk by Elaine's on the way to lawyer Dan's. For those not familiar with Elaine's it is a restaurant/bar on the Upper East Side that is the hangout to Woody Allen, George Steinbrenner, etc.
q. Great read from LA Times writer Bill Plaschke and he discusses how he loves to eat lunch at Dodger Stadium. I have the same opportunity to do this at Turner Field every day and never take advantage. That is an awful job by me.
r. Here is one more outstanding baseball read. It is part 1 of a conversation Braves Beat writer David O'Brien had with Freddi Gonzalez. The interviewed happened after the two rode motorcycles together through the North Georgia mountains. Here is part two.
s. Only two center fielders who hit .300 last year - Josh Hamilton (.359) and Carlos Gonzalez (.336). Oddly, only one player who spent the majority of his time at DH last year hit .300, and that was the even .300 mark of Vladimir Guerrero.
t. The AL leading walk leader was the Athletics' Daric Barton with 110. That total of 110 is the same as the combined marks of Brandon Inge (54) and Ian Kinsler (56). It's also the same as the combined marks of Robinson Cano (57) and Curtis Granderson (53) OR Denard Span (60) and Vernon Wells (50).
u. Both Aaron Hill and Kelly Johnson hit 26 homeruns last season as second basemen. Hill had three fewer RBI than Johnson, 68 to 71, but there was a massive .200 point difference in their OPS - Hill was at .665 while Johnson was way up at .865, a mark that was third at the position behind only Robinson Cano (.914) and Dan Uggla (.877).

v. How did Braves get Dan Uggla for only Infante and Dunn?
w. Brett Cecil won 15 games last season despite not getting his first win until April 23rd. Cecil's win total was fifth in the AL. Amazingly, of the 14 pitchers in the Junior Circuit who won at least 15 games, seven of them were left-handed: CC Sabathia, David Price, Jon Lester, Cecil, John Danks, Gio Gonzalez and C.J. Wilson. Two more lefties also won 14 games in Francisco Liriano and Ricky Romero.
x. The league leading WHIP with men in scoring position was .79 which was posted by the NL Cy Young winner, Roy Halladay. His current Phillies teammate Roy Oswalt was third at 0.91, just behind another righty from the NL who pitches in the NL East - Josh Johnson (0.89). The best mark by an AL hurler was by the Twins... Brian Duensing (0.92). 
y. Who in the heck is Brian Duensing?
z. The last Braves’ first baseman to serve with the Braves for five years or more is Fred McGriff. He was acquired in 1993 and played with the Braves through 1997. Can Freddie Freeman reverse the trend?

3. Hodgepodge of Thoughts
a. Kind of sad to see that Jerry Sloan retired as the coach of the Jazz on Thursday. What a living legend in the NBA. For those that do not think his feud with Darren Williams did not play a role then they are out of their mind.
b. Sloan's first point guard made $300,000 in 1988. His final point guard made nearly 50X more. ($14.9 million)
c. Here are a few things that existed in Jerry Sloan's 1st year as NBA coach: the scoring leader: George Gervin. The Kansas City Kings were 2nd in Midwest. and the Rookie of the Year was hick from French Lick named Larry Bird.
d. I watched some of the Heat-Celtics game Sunday and if the Heat can not beat the banged up Celtics then the Heat have some serious issues.
e. I saw this stat on Sunday and was shocked. Rajon Rondo has a .491 career shooting percentage, Steve Nash is .490.
f. College Baseball gets going next weekend. My Dawgs start the season with a visit to the alma mater of my parentals Stetson University in Deland, Florida.
g. Not sure what to make of the Dawgs next season but it is a very big and important season for Coach Perno. Everytime he has had a make or break season he has responded with a trip to the College World Series.
h. Said news on Friday when Cal announced that they would not reinstate their baseball program. A university with the resources of Cal should have a baseball team.
i. Also look for more coverage of college baseball this season as ESPN will broadcast a Thursday night game of the week. I think UGA and Vandy will play each other this season in one of the Thursday games. Also the Big 10 Network will televise 30 games on the Big 10 Network.
j. I failed to mention the games that are normally on ESPN U, CSS and Fox Sports South.
k. Another reason to hate the University of Texas. In 2012 any baseball game not televised by a network will be televised by the newly created Longhorn Network. That is ridiculous.
l. In total the The SEC has 68 games and the ACC will probably have around 25-30. Then you have the Big12, with six total televised games.
m. Safe to say that's one of about 50 reasons why you have three Big12 schools that have expressed interest in bolting to the SEC. More exposure. Safe to say that includes more than baseball, basketball and football.

4. Gridiron-NFL and College
a. I looked at a couple of different SEC teams 2011 schedules and I am very intrigued about the opportunities that the Dawgs have in 2011 as we only have four games outside the state of Georgia. This includes trips to Knoxville, Nashville, Oxford and Jacksonville.
b. In addition, dodging Alabama, Arkansas and LSU from the West certainly doesn’t hurt.  Biggest negative is that the Dawgs are tied with Alabama for the most conference opponents which have bye weeks before playing, with three. However, we do get a Bye week before Florida.
c. After looking at the Gators schedule I see why Urban Meyer wanted to spend time with his family. The Gators draw Alabama, LSU and Auburn from the West this season. They play those three on consecutive weekends and LSU and Auburn are road games.  Furthermore, South Carolina is a road game.  Last season showed FSU is close to being back. Good luck Muschamp.
d. The defending national champions Auburn Tigers step up their schedule in 2011 with trips to Clemson, Baton Rouge, Fayeteville and Athens, Ga. Furthermore, they drop Kentucky off the schedule and add Florida. They also lose a boat load of talent.
e. Things look a little more difficult for Bama in 2011. Early season schedule is similar to last year’s, except for the fact the Tide travel to Happy Valley to play Penn State.  As for conference games, ‘Bama drops South Carolina for Vanderbilt. Arkansas and LSU have to travel to Tuscaloosa (and Alabama’s bye week comes before the LSU game).  Florida is a road game.  They’ve scheduled Georgia Southern the week before the Iron Bowl, which can be a pain in the butt trying to prepare for that offense. 
f. I also read this week where celebration will be a live ball foul instead of dead ball foul thus touchdowns now have the opportunity to be taken off the board. This is going to cost some team a game next season and it could turn into the most talked about story in college football.
g. We need to get celebration come when Tim Tebow went crazy it was not a penalty but when AJ Green looked at the student section it was a penalty?
h. What about when coaches like Auburn's Trooper Taylor do jumping jacks on the sideline all game. That looks excessive to me.
i. A lot of ploys in the NFL going on right now. I still think it is tough to ask the players to play more games and cut their piece of the pie from 59% to 40%.
j. Why did the Owners ever agree to sharing the 59% of their revenues with the players in the first place? That is ridiculous.
k. This is the first weekend without football since early in August when I was in Cincinnati watching the Braves and Reds. Man was that a long time ago. Good trip however.

5. My 5 Favorite Places in the SEC
1. Calhoun's-Knoxville, TN- On the banks of the Tennessee river are some of the best ribs and secenery. When I was a student manager for the baseball team at UGA I was always jealous that Tennessee's baseball team had Calhoun's as a post game meal. I may or may not have talked one of their managers into grabbing me a plate on getaway day in 2003. Looking forward to lunch here on Saturday.
2. Dreamland BBQ-Tuscaloosa, Al-Ain't nothing like em nowhere. This is the original where the only options on the menu are full slab of ribs, half slab of ribs or rib sandwich. Some of the best sweet tea one can taste.
3. The Hoffbrau-Fayetville, Ark- One of the best burgers and steak places in the SEC. Fayeteville is underrated as far as SEC towns go the problem is no one can get to it as it is in the middle of nowhere.
4. Mike Anderson's Seafood-Baton Rouge, Louisiana-The CBS or ESPN broadcast crew eats here every Friday night before a football game on the Bayou. Some of the best seafood I have ever eaten.
5. Otters Chicken Fingers-Nashville, Tn- One of the best chicken fingers you will find in the South. They have the best Honey Mustard dipping sauce around. An Otters has opened up in the suburbs of Atlanta but I have yet to make the trip for a Big Boy Box. I will be in Nashville next weekend and an Otter's visit is in my future.

Just missed: Rama Jamma (Tuscaloosa), Joe Bologna's (Lexington), Cheeburger Cheeburger (Auburn) and Ballywho Grill (Gainesville).

6. Halftime
This week's song that Smoak and myself used to rock out to includes Jane Says by Jane's Addiction.Last week no one knew the single season home run leaders for the Royals, Marlins, and New York Mets. Co-worker Bob did get the closest of all the entries. Steve Balboni was the all-time leader for the Royals. Gary Sheffield was the leader of the Marlins. Carlos Beltran and Todd Hundley have each hit 41 home runs which is the most in a season for the Boyze from Quinze. This weeks trivia question is name the top 10 home run hitters in Braves history. Notice I said Braves not Milwaukee or Atlanta or Boston.

7. College Hoops Notes
a. Georgia Tech is ranked 305th in the nation in field goal percentage. That would be just ahead of Sacramento State....way to much talent in this state for the two flagship programs to be as bad as they have been.
b. If this does not prove that statement true what will? On Tuesday the 76ers trio of Norcross' Jodie Meeks, South Gwinnett's Lou Williams & Georgia Tech's Thaddeus Young combined for 52 points -13 more than ALL Hawks starters. The Hawks would lose 117-83 on Tuesday night.
c. If I told you one team was 6-6 in conference, 14-10 overall, 3-6 versus AP 25 and had RPI of 48. No what about this team 6-4 in conference, 17-7 overall, 1-3 versus AP 25 and had RPI of 43. What team would you think was the better team?
d. Well the team with the RPI of 48 is Michigan State and the team with the RPI of 43 is Georgia.
e. Other teams with an RPI higher than Michigan State, Harvard, Missouri State, Boston College, UAB, Cleveland State and Colorado State.
f. No idea why I am picking on Michigan State, except to say they are not the top team they are normally year after year. Also they are not a lock to get into tournament but if they do we all know they could make a deep tourney run.
g. What are everyone's thoughts on this team? 15-10 overall, 6-6 in conference RPI of 59. That would be Marquette. Another team not a lock to make the tourney.
h. How cool is The Pavilion where Villanova plays its on campus basketball games? The basketball court only takes up half the space of the building; it is expandable as an indoor track facility and recreation center.
i. How crazy was the Purdue-Wisconsin game Saturday afternoon? This is the eighth time a school has beaten the No. 1 team in both football and basketball in the same season.Who keeps track of stats like that?
j. Ohio State started the 2nd half on fire, making nine of their first 10 shots and outscoring the Badgers by 13 points to go up 47-32. The last 13 minutes were another story as the Buckeyes shot just 30 percent the rest of the way while being outscored by 19 points.
k. Baylor fell to 8-2 in its past 10 games against its three in-state Big 12 opponents.Quietly they have turned things around from the disaster that was the 2002-2003 basketball season.

l. The Morris brothers for the Kansas Jayhawks were pretty impressive on Saturday as each recorded double-doubles as Markieff had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Marcus 16 points, 11 rebounds. It's the fourth time this season the brothers have had double-doubles in the same game, and they've done it in both games against Iowa State.
m. The Jayhawks are on a roll as they heir past five games by double digits. Four of them have been by at least 20 points. Iowa State is not butter and they are not on a roll as the Cyclones have lost seven straight, its longest losing streak since dropping eight straight during the 2001-02 season.
n. I wonder if anyone is missing Larry Eustachy in Ames? Speaking of Eustachy he is now the coach of Southern Miss and has led the Golden Eagles to an 18-5 record this season and an RPI in the low 50's. Not to shabby.
o. San Diego State has won five straight games since suffering its lone loss of the season Jan. 26 at BYU. At 25-1, San Diego State is one win shy of tying its single-season school record of 26 wins, set two seasons ago.

8. College Hoops Power 5
1. Ohio State- I can not knock them off from the top spot for losing at Kohl Center. If the NCAA ranked teams they should have the Buckeyes as overall #1. Thus I have them as my top team.
2. Texas-The Longhorns are 10-0 in Big 12 play for the first time since the inception of the league.
3. Kansas-Kansas has won 24 games for the fifth straight season.
4. Duke- Duke extended its home win streak to 33 games, the longest active home win streak in the nation. The Blue Devils are 62-2 at home since the start of the 2007-08 season, with the only two losses coming to UNC.
5.Pitt- Have never made a Final Four run under Jamie Dixon, is this the year?

9. What I Read This Week
This first read of the week takes an inside look at the US Secret Service. The Secret Service known for not allowing access granted the Atlantic's Marc Ambinder unprecedented access as the Service pulls off keeping two-thirds of the world's leaders safe while they visit New York City every September. I love when I am at an event where there is Secret Service present, mostly because I am fascinated with guys talking into their watch. So awesome. This is probably my favorite article in What I Read This Week since last summer. Very fascinating.

The second article of the week comes from Tom Friend of and profiles William "The Refrigerator" Perry. Very sad read of what has happened to one of the great defensive players in the 80's. What makes this story even more sad is that everything is self-inflicted. Hard to believe what has happened to The Fridge.

10. Extracurricular Activies
a. I saw a screening of Just Go With It earlier last week. It was a typical Sandler movie where he out punts is coverage and somehow, someway gets the girl in the end.
b. Everyone should know what I think of Ms. Andy Roddick (Brooklyn Decker) put her acting skills were better than I had imagined going in to the movie.
c. All in all the movie was better and funnier than I thought going in. Not as fun or funny as No Strings Attached but still worth a viewing. Also, no red blooded American male will be disapointed with couple scenes of Jennifer Anniston and Brooklyn Decker entering and exiting water.
d. By the way Dan Patrick shows up like he does in all Sandler movies and he was absolutely hilarious. How many people thought he was committing career suicide by leaving ESPN years ago? That guy is on top of the world.
e. DP also hosted the Sports Illustrated Selection show on the 101 Network Friday night. It must be good to be DP right now.
f. Also on Saturday I went and watched The Fighter and it is the best movie I have watched in a long time. Wahlberg did an amazing job getting his body in shape for this movie and I am amazed how much bigger the muscle in his left arm was compared to his right arm. (I might have been the only person to pick up on this).
g. Christian Bale was the real star of the movie for his portrayal of Dicky Eklund. If he does not win an award for the job he did in this movie there should be an investigation.
h. Judging by the previews it does not look like we are having any good movies come out anytime soon.
i. I absolutely had a blast on Friday night with my former boss with the Colts was in town. He used to be a student manager for South Carolina football so a lot of good Lou Holtz stories were told.
j. I was definitely more awesome than disaster.
k. You should get what you expect with the Grammy's, at least I did. I do not understand those who excpect it to be such a great show. It never has been why should it be one now?
l. I do not get or see the fascination Lady Gaga? She has a sound similar to Madonna, the only thing is the queen of pop was talented not a nut case.
m. I think I might have sounded like a really old man in the last comment. Now you kids get off my lawn.
n. The power of twitter continues as I was able to learn that Florida QB Coach Scott Loefller had taken the position as offensive coordinator at Temple. The reason that I credit Twitter is that I was able to learn before Loeffler's cousin who is a co-worker. He was not intrigued with me breaking news about the family.
o. Speaking of twitter you all should follow me @justinwjohnson, the Captain @bigbodyss, my buddy Brice @brice2173 and my buddy Todd @toddeaston20
p. What was Cee-Lo wearing last night? Aint that some sh..................
q. Dissapointed my girl Hillary Scott with Lady A straightened and darkened her hair. Bigger fan of the curls and lighter hair but I am always a fan of the curls and lighter hair. With that being said I seriously doubt she cares or seeks my approval.
r. When did John Mayer become a dead ringer for Johnny Depp?
s. Mick Jagger absolutely rocked it on The Grammy's last night. I need to see him perform in person.
t. I got multiple comments about Hawaii 5-0 and everyone seems to enjoy the show. Tonight Nick Lachey comes out of hiding or wherever he has been for these past few years to guest star. No way I can miss that can I?

Tweet of The Week
@notthefakesvp who is the real Scott Van Pelt texted this last night during the Grammy's
I think she is just trying to dress like all portions of the grand slam breffuss. I am going to work tomorrow dressed as red velvet cupcake

Great use of breffus. I am glad I am not the only one.

Quote of The Week
Comes from Penguins owner and NHL Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux....

“If the events relating to Friday night reflect the state of the league, I need to re-think whether I want to be a part of it.”

The game he was referencing was The Islanders and Penguins contest on Friday night where both teams combined for 346 penalty minutes according to the NHL's game summary. That is the 2nd most penalty minutes in a single game since the 2000-01 season.

Text of The Week
From my great friend Brice on Saturday letting me know what Hayden (his son) was doing.

The kid is in the yard taking BP off the tee! He was on the physically unable to play list last year so he has started spring training!

Brice is right those injured last season can start spring training early. That's good parenting.

Picture of The Week
Comes from SI_Vault on twitter. He calls it the best photo of an extra point you will ever see...I can not help but agree. By the way if you are on twitter you should follow @si_vault.

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