This year's final notes from cocktail napkins.... Good riddance 2013! A lost year for Atlanta Sports.
All in all this year is one fans of the home teams will want to to forget. Injuries derailed the Falcons and Bulldogs, The Braves won a division pennant but their playoff series with the Dodgers resulted in the kind of let down Braves fans have come to expect. Georgia Tech endured a 3 game losing streak that guaranteed more grumbling from it's septuagenarian fan base and later blew a 20 point lead to it's bitter in state rival. The Hawks fizzled in the first round against the Pacers but not halfway through the 2013 season the future sure looks bright. The roster may look like roll call at The U.N. but Danny Ferry has a plan and I'm buying it.
Gotta give Fredi Gonzalez some props for winning the NL East with three dozen different line ups. Not to mention the fact that a third of his team's payroll couldn't hit their weight all season. Just wish he would have rolled Craig Kimbrel out for 2 innings work in game 4 in L.A. We say adios in 2013 to fan favorites Brian McCann and Tim Hudson.
So far nothing for Braves fans to get fired up about in The Hot Stove League. I guess Frank Wren's plan for 2014 is simple. Dan Uggla's eyeballs will work well enough for him to hit .250 and the laws of probability dictate there's no way BJ Upton will suck as bad next season. They will do it on the cheap and hope the younger pitching and some retreads will keep em in the race.
I still can't believe the Braves are heading to Cobb. Suburbanite fans are ecstatic. I think it stinks. I know I'm in the minority, as a Midtown resident I like stuff close to me. I think it's an embarrassment for the city. Everywhere else in the country stadiums spark urban renewal, entertainment districts and economic development.
The chance to make Turner Field the focal point of downtown was an epic fail that can trace it's roots along with the ineffectiveness of MARTA to the lack of leadership and vision by state and city government 25 years ago. A baseball/football complex should have been built where Atlantic Station sits, too late now.
Lets face it, the Braves were ticked off that the city was kissing the Falcons butt. They weren't feeling the love and they got a deal from Cobb the city couldn't come close to matching.
Give the people what they want, and they want their ballpark OTP. They don't want to endure the connector at rush hour and deal with Turner Field Parking and a neighborhood that frightens the Braves mono-chromatic fan base. It will sure be interesting to see how Cobb County and the state will handle the guaranteed nightmare traffic scenario that will grip 285 and 75. Good luck with that.
The Falcons season ended "10 yards from the Super Bowl". It was stupid to put it that way and we all said it way too much. The Falcons were in a position to get to the Super Bowl. They got a lot of breaks last year. The defense had major weaknesses, but they capitalized on the other team's mistakes and turnovers. To win the NFC Championship you need your quarterback to not miss the shot gun snap. Or not have Harry Douglas trip over the 20 yard line.
But how we got from 13-3 to a potential 4-12 is mind boggling.
This season Thomas Dimitroff wanted to get more physical upfront and thought the young guys could do a better job. They couldn't. Combined with Julio and and Steven Jackson's injuries the offense sputtered.
It's not all on the line. Matt Ryan had some bad games, Smitty had some bad games from a clock management standpoint. I still don't understand how he decides when to go for it and when to kick field goals.
Had no unrealistic expectations for the defense, I thought we'd be average and that the offense would be scoring North of 28 points a game anyway. But without the Beirmann and Spoon a lot of what Mike Nolan wanted to do went out the window. If there is a silver lining to the lost season of 2013, it's the development of the rookies; Warrilow, Bartu and Trufnat & Alford. Combine that with a stud draft pick (Clowney, Barr, Mosley or Mack) and things will be looking up on the defensive side of the ball.
I like Arch's idea of plugging in established free agents on offensive line. I say eat Baker's contract or try him at guard. Bring back Harvey Dahl. And let's hope that Julio bounces back and stays injury free as a Falcon.
I don't expect Arthur to hand out any pink slips. But certainly Mike Smith and Thomas Dimitroff have to produce a playoff team next year or they're gone.
I felt the Bulldogs title window was last year...and it was. There was so much talent on last year's defense, with Alec Ogletree and Jarvis Jones gone to the NFL and Todd Grantham not getting any smarter UGA was gonna have to rely on Aaron Murray in 2013. I don't know if he did enough to silence the "he cant win the big game" critics. I know he did enough to win in Death Valley. Or against Mizzou. How much are you gonna put on his shoulders without his best wide receivers or running back? He had to do everything himself because his defense couldn't get off the field. How about the heroics and scramble in the comeback win over the Vols, the LSU shoot out win over Mettenberger? Murray is a great kid and his legacy deserves more respect from Bulldogs fans.
I don't know what Mark Richt could possibly see in Todd Grantham to keep him around. That has to be addressed if UGA is going to have any shot at a crystal football anytime soon.
So to review, a lost season for the Falcons & the Dawgs, GT and the Braves doing what they usually do...underwhelm. The Hawks? Not sure but the upside looks promising. The Thrashers? Yeah even up in Winnipeg they still stink.
Lets hope that 2014 sees one of our beloved teams on top. I just wanna see one championship parade on Peachtree Street in my lifetime. And the way I eat and drink there's a really tight window here!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everybody who listens to 790 The Zone. I know it's been a funky year for us too and we appreciate you sticking with us -Mike