Jeff Schultz blog 

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not
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Poll: Falcons open camp, what’s your pick?

  • 9:59 am Friday, July 25th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
061114 falcons CC21

FLOWERY BRANCH — I usually get a feeling how good or bad I think a football team will be. That doesn’t mean I’m right, but something about the previous season and the offseason at least gives me some sense of direction.

But about the 2014 Falcons: I have no idea what’s going to happen.

If you missed it, I have a column posted on MyAJC.com on the start of training camp later today. Here’s a free link to it.

I’ve posted a simple poll because I’m curious what you think. Rather than guess how many games this team will win, let’s focus [More]

Giants take a chance on Dan Uggla

  • 2:32 pm Monday, July 21st, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Dan Uggla has landed on his feet with a pretty good team. (AP photo)

(Updated: 2:50 p.m.) Dan Uggla may have face-planted in Atlanta, but he was just picked up by one of the best teams in baseball. Is this bad foreshadowing for the Braves?

San Francisco, which has won two of the last four World Series and is tied for first place in the National League West, have signed Uggla to a minor-league contract, according to multiple reports. The news was first reported by Fox Sports. Uggla, who was in the fourth season of a five-year, $62 million contract that he never lived up to, cleared waivers, paving the way for any team to [More]

June Jones whiffs on spring football idea

  • 9:40 am Monday, July 21st, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
June Jones might want to clear his plan with Larry Brown. (via SMUMustangs.com)

Back from vacation.

First question: When Braves general manager Frank Wren has his performance review at the end of the season, does Liberty Media count Dan Uggla as one mistake or 62 million?

Second question: What is June Jones thinking?

The former Falcons’ coach has an idea. It’s a really bad idea. Jones who is entering his seventh season at SMU, believes football schools in non-“Power 5” conferences – including Georgia State in the Sun Belt — should move their season to the spring.

I’m going to assume that Jones has not run this idea past Larry Brown, the basketball coach on his campus.

Jones’ [More]

Braves’ tryouts at leadoff are dizzying

  • 12:36 pm Wednesday, June 25th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
So what's the chance B.J. Upton provides stability for Braves at leadoff? (AP photo)

When Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez tabbed B.J. Upton as the Braves’ next future ex-leadoff hitter — sorry, just an assumption — it continued an ugly trend that began in 2006.

The Braves have struggled to find a leadoff hitter since Rafael Furcal left for Los Angeles as a free agent following the 2005 season. Furcal hit .284 as a Brave with a .348 on base percentage, a career-high 48 stolen bases and a 100 runs scored in 2005. Then general manager John Schuerholz lost a bidding war with the Dodgers that winter. Oops.

Want to a venture a guess how many players [More]

LeBron, Carmelo opt out: Hawks an option? (Updated)

  • 10:12 am Tuesday, June 24th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
LeBron James reportedly will opt out of his contract with Miami. What next? (AP)

(Updated below with link to full column on MyAJC.)

We have known for a few days that Carmelo Anthony will opt out of his contract with the New York Knicks. He’s available.

Now we learn from his agent Rich Paul that LeBron James has told the Miami Heat that he will trigger the early termination of his contract and also hit the open market. And soon, we will hear the words, “I am taking my talents to . . .”

Marietta Street?

Should it be considered so far-fetched that the Hawks can land a high-profile free agent like James or Anthony? I know: [More]

It’s ‘Mark Emmert Appreciation Night!’ (sorta)

  • 9:51 am Monday, June 23rd, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Mr Emmert, "Skipper" would to have a word with you. (via Lake County Captains)

Congratulations, Mark Emmert: Now you have alienated minor league baseball.

Emmert, the NCAA president, has made a habit of saying the wrong things while defending the organization’s antiquated and disingenuous stance to not significantly increase the value of scholarships for student-athletes, even in the wake of mega-million revenue streams for this “amateur” enterprise. It happened again last week when Emmert testified in the Ed O’Bannon class-action anti-trust lawsuit: “To convert college sports into professional sports

would be tantamount to converting it into minor league sports. And we know that in the U.S. minor league sports aren’t very successful either for fan support [More]

Braves out of first — not they deserved to be there

  • 11:30 pm Tuesday, June 17th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Ervin Santana was dinged early with a first-inning homer by Philadelphia's Ryan Howard. (Curtis Compton)

You know that question some people have asked about the Braves: How is this team in first place? Well, there’s no reason to ask that question right now.

In losing to the last-place Philadelphia Phillies for the second straight game 5-2 Tuesday night, the Braves fell one-half game behind the Washington Nationals in the National League East.

The significance of a half-game deficit with 92 games to go? Bupkis.

The significance of scoring three runs in two games over 22 innings against a Phillies team that ranked third from the bottom in the National League in ERA (3.95), as well as committing two [More]

Possible Braves’ moves: Bethancourt up, B.J. to bench?

  • 12:13 pm Monday, June 16th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
If Gerald Laird (left) and Christian Bethancourt are Braves' top catchers, Evan Gattis would move to outfield. (Curtis Compton)

For most of this season, the Braves have had problems with their offense.

For most of this season, the problems at least partly trace back to Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton.

But is it possible that two players who combine for $26.45 million in salary this season both will be on the bench soon? Uggla already has lost his starting second base job to rookie Tommy La Stella and Upton may soon lose his as well.

Mark Bowman of MLB.com has an interesting blog in which he lays out a scenario the Braves are considering for a roster shake-up, and I [More]

Is it time to drop Freeman in batting order?

  • 1:09 am Sunday, June 15th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Freddie Freeman is hitting only .182 over his last 24 games. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

That a Braves’ hitter is in a tailspin is not unusual.

That it’s Freddie Freeman is like some nonsensical alternate universe.

Freeman has been one of the team’s best and certainly most consistent hitters since 2011. He was the team’s best player a year ago, hitting .319 with 23 homers, 109 RBIs and a team-leading OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of .897. When he hit .397 in the first 18 games this season, all seemed well. Then came weirdness with a .227 average in 48 games and .188 in the last 23 before Saturday night’s game against the Los Angeles Angels.

Maybe Saturday [More]

Falcons make wrong call saying yes to ‘Hard Knocks’

  • 2:20 pm Thursday, June 12th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Make no mistake: "Hard Knocks" is preferred by Arthur Blank, not Mike Smith. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

The Falcons have decided to be the subject of the annual NFL-HBO voyeuristic enterprise called, “Hard Knocks.”

Well. This isn’t the worst decision they’ve ever made in recent years. There was that one year they hired Bobby Petrino.

So let me understand this: The same organization that fell apart a season ago, and not just because of injuries, has decided to let a cable television show go behind the scenes in training camp and follow players in practices and meetings and areas of Fort Flowery Branch normally off limits to non-team personnel?

Headquarters in Flowery Branch will be a sea of wires, cameras [More]

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