Tough Break for Hudson, Braves

file0001806819405It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy, or at a more pivotal time for his team.

The July 24 Braves/Mets matchup was looking good for the local favorites. Tim Hudson was working seven innings and change with a four-hit shutout cushioned by a 6-0 lead. Left fielder Eric Young, Jr. landed a weak hit. Freddie Freeman moved for the ball, Hudson covered first base and Young tried a full-force run to beat the out. What came next was a worst-case scenario in real time.

Young stepped on Hudson’s ankle. Hudson went down…and stayed there. The Citi Field crowd went into group shock. Young was mortified, even tearful. Fans watching Fox Sportsouth (this writer included) had a long-distance moment of disbelief, followed by the reality of Hudson leaving the field on a cart and those impossible-to-watch replays. The news kept coming: none of it was good. Tim Hudson, the Braves’ ace starter, out for the season with a broken ankle. At age 38 and in the final year of his contract, there’s the sad but real possibility that the game against the Mets might be his last as a Brave.

Losing a 200-game winner and seasoned vet with postseason play under his belt leaves a gaping void for a young pitching crew, there’s no getting around it. How much of an impact will it make in the big picture? Too soon to tell. Brandon Beachy, Paul Maholm, Kris Medlin, Mike Minor and Julio Teheran are all solid starters: Medlin is the only one with playoff experience (last year’s one game “playoff” against St. Louis). This could be a factor if the Braves stay on top of the NL East or, at the least, make the wild card cut. That said, the team is both resilient and determined. Write them off at your own peril.

Ballplayers get hurt. It comes with the turf. But local fans can’t help but take what happened to Hudson a little more personally than most. Many remember his years at Glenwood, CVCC and Auburn. As an Oakland Athletic, he gave us a good (and rare) reason to root for a Left Coast team. We were elated when the Braves acquired him in 2005 because our local hero was, well, local again. Known as one of baseball’s genuine good guys, Hudson has no shortage of fans, but none like the ones here. We knew him first. He’s one of our own.

As baseball rolls toward October, there are plenty of games left to play. And, yes, it’s going to be strange not seeing Number 15 on the mound for Atlanta, but we’ll adapt. We always do. In the meantime, here’s to a complete recovery for Tim Hudson and continued success for the rest of his team. After all, this is baseball. Down doesn’t always mean out. And even when you’re out, things are never really final

Atlanta Falcon QB Matt Ryan in Contract Talks with Team

Matt Ryan is entering the final year of his rookie contract with the Atlanta falcons, and all summer the player and the team have been in serious talks of a contract extension.

The 28 year old quarterback is coming off a phenomenal season where he threw for over 4,000 yards.  As a starter, Ryan is 56-22 and has led the Atlanta Falcons to playoffs 4 out of the last 5 years.  He has only missed 2 games in his career.

Ryan’s agent Tom Condon is reportedly asking the Falcons for a big contract – Joe Flacco/Aaron Rodgers big.  If he gets the contract, it is expected he will receive an extra $50 million in guaranteed money.

This is a ton of money to be tied up in a single contract, and if the Falcons are indecisive, they have the option of putting a franchise tag on Ryan for the next season.  This does risk putting the quarterback in a bad mood and thus not trying his hardest to help the team win – which Ryan of course has given no indication of doing so.

Now the Falcons must ask themselves if Matt Ryan is worth the money.  Based on his incredible regular seasons statistics – you would be inclined to say so.  However, Ryan has not has the same success in the playoffs and has failed to win or even reach a Super Bowl.  This is what separates Ryan from other highly paid quarterbacks such as Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers.

Many fans feels Ryan needs to earn a big contract first by winning a championship.  With so much money tied into one player, it makes it hard for the team to sign other good players to support the star quarterback.  Rodgers and Brees’ teams are now suffering from a lack of defense and are unable to hire quality players to help.

On the flip side it would be hard to find a quarterback to replace Matt Ryan.  He is considered to be among the top 10 of the NFL and the team would surely suffer if they let him go.

Now the ball is in the Falcons general manger Thomas Dimitroff’s court.

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Braves Mid Season

Braves BaseballAs baseball hits the halfway point of its April to October ride, four words can sum up the Atlanta Braves’ overall performance: so far, so good. Last year’s sudden-death playoff loss to the St. Louis Cardinals is in the rear-view mirror. And the Great September Collapse of 2011 was a couple of lifetimes ago. After launching the season with their best start since 1994, the Braves have consistently led the National League East. The Washington Nationals are only single digits away but haven’t managed any forward momentum. The Phillies are stuck in the middle. The Mets and Marlins are, well, the Mets and Marlins. We’ll leave it at that.

The Braves are playing well because of some things–and in spite of others. Their pitching lineup, led by Tim Hudson and Kris Medlin, is among the best in either league. The bullpen continues to lope along, evidently feeling the loss of Eric O’Flaherty and Jonny Venters to season-ending surgeries. Slow starts from Jason Heyward, Dan Uggla and Justin Upton have hurt in the scoring department, but hits still come when they’re needed. Baseball analysts are betting and mid-season trades will focus on the bullpen, the center of the batting order, or both.

Aside from staying atop the NL East, some key highlights have marked the Braves’ first half. In April, hometown hero Tim Hudson joined the elite group of 113 major league pitchers to rack up 200 career wins. Evan Gattis, whose personal story is the stuff of Hollywood scripts, showed his big-league stuff while subbing for an injured Brian McCann. Julio Teheran has started to realize his true potential as a starting pitcher. And Ozzy Osborne’s “Crazy Train” rocked the Turner Field sound system one last time on June 28 as Chipper Jones’ #10 jersey was retired, part of his induction into the Braves Hall of Fame.

There are plenty of home stands and road trips between now and October. Baseball is no crystal ball sport, so anything can still happen. The Nats could resurge. The Phils could too. The Mets and Marlins might…oh, never mind. The potential for slumps and injuries still looms (insert “God forbid” here). A meteorite might land on home plate in “The Ted.” That said, there’s a young, determined and talented group of guys in Atlanta uniforms who love the view from the top. They’ll fight to stay there, and do whatever it takes to make their so-far-so-good season even better. Post-season play has slipped from the Braves’ collective gloves in a cruel fashion for two years straight. In their minds, 0-for-3 is not an option.

Columbus Lions Military Appreciation Event

934657_494123717308215_809638623_nAre you ready to roar?! The Columbus Lions are facing off against The Alabama Hammers in an indoor football game at the Columbus Civic Center on Saturday, May 18 at 7:30 P.M. This game is including many special events such as military appreciation, a tailgate party, pet adoptions and donations, Camp Joy donation collections, a 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 Quad-Cab give-away, and Halftime Lotto Ball Mania.

In order to honor military members, active duty military will enjoy special priced seating, $10 for lower level seats and $5 for upper level seating. Also, the first 150 military members will get in for free.

Due to the rain forecast, the tailgate party has been moved inside the civic center. The gates will open at 6 P.M. Admission is free with the purchase of a game ticket for that night. The Damn Skippy Band will be playing on the field to welcome home the Third Brigade Infantry Division. Try your chance at a game of corn-hole toss in the lobby to win 2014 season tickets. In addition to all of that, concessions will only be $1 and drafts will be $2; those prices will only last during the tailgate party so don’t miss out!

Do you like adorable animals that have undying love for you? If so, don’t miss out on pet adoptions at this game. Members of the East Alabama Humane Society and Harris County Humane Society will have some animals in attendance that are available for adoption and they will also be accepting donations. Don’t pass on the chance to change an animal’s life!

The Lions are also teaming up with The Valley Rescue Mission by taking collections for this summer’s upcoming “Camp Joy.”  Large bins will be placed in front of the Civic Center and fans are urged to donate the following items to underprivileged children: socks, shoes, girl’s one-piece swimsuits, t-shirts, towels, pillows, pillow cases, wash clothes, sheets, sleeping bags, toiletries, etc.

Active duty military members do you want a free 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 Quad-Cab?! Well good news you can enter for a chance to win one! In association with Carl Gregory, during halftime the Lions will be giving away a 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 Quad-Cab to an active military member. Sign-up registration forms will be placed in the front of the Civic Center and a drawing will take place during halftime.

In addition to the truck give-away, one lucky fan will receive $300 in Georgia Lottery tickets and a $100 Georgia Lottery prize package.

The ticket prices for this wonderful event are as followed: $15 for lower level seating and $10 for upper level seating. Active duty military members can purchase lower level seating for $10 and upper level seating for $5. Also, the first 150 active duty military members will get in for free. With the purchase of an adult ticket, children 12 and younger get a free ticket.

For more information go to http://www.columbuslions.net/index.php

Don’t miss out on a great game and all of the special events going on! Also, don’t forget to roar and cheer on our Columbus Lions!

Brave New Season: Opening Day

With Spring Training coming to a close, the boys are getting ready to head north and get the 2012 season underway. The Bravos open up the campaign Thursday on the road at Citi Field to take on the still-rebuilding New York Mets. So now that they’ve had a chance to brush away the cobwebs, and hopefully, the memory of last year’s unspeakable finale, what can we expect from our boys from this point out?

The rotation looks good, with the only question mark being the number 5 starter. It’s looking like the choice between the two rookie studs, Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado, will come down to the wire. Tommy Hanson got the opening day nod for the first time in his young career. He and Jurrjens have looked healthy and look to bounce back from the injury-ridden season they experienced last year. Hudson will be back in the rotation sometime in April, and with the addition of Livan Hernandez, we certainly have depth and experience.

Things seem to be looking up for the offense as well. Dan Uggla, Brian McCann, and Freddie Freeman have been swinging the lumber with some real authority throughout exhibition play. Jason Heyward has been showing signs of life, with glimpses of the JHey Kid’s return to his rookie form. Chipper looks to give it one more productive go-around, as the eventual Hall-of-Famer announced his retirement following the 2012 season. It looks as though rookie Tyler Pastornicky will begin the season as Atlanta’s starting shortstop, although, should he struggle, Andrelton Simmons may be nipping at his heels after a very impressive spring.

All in all, I like our club and our potential to compete. It’s a new year and a clean slate, so let’s do this Bravos!

Back in the Lion’s Den: Home-Opener

The Columbus Lions are back in action for the 2012 season. After a tough loss on the road to the Richmond Raiders to begin the schedule last weekend, the Lions look to right the ship this Saturday night against the expansion Knoxville Nighthawks, with the help of a little home-cooking in the Civic Center.

The Nighthawks are led by quarterback Tony Colston, a seasoned veteran with an Arena Cup Championship under his belt. The Lions will hope to rebound with a better defensive showing, as Richmond exposed a several holes in last week’s matchup. The offense looks to build off of a strong performance, particularly the huge day quarterback Randy Hippeard had. The keys to victory over the Nighthawks will be keeping mistakes to a minimum and playing four quarters of solid football.

Come support your Lions this Saturday night, March 17 at 7:30 P.M.

Thunder in the Valley

The Columbus skies will be in a frenzy next weekend as we bring in the annual Thunder in the Valley Air Show. This exciting event, in its 15th year, will take place next Saturday and Sunday, March 17 and 18. The air show proceeds help to support local youth organizations throughout the Columbus area.

This year’s theme, “Xtreme Thunder”, will showcase some of the most intense stunts by some of the most talented pilots ever seen at the annual event. Some notable participants include Team RV (the largest aerobatic formation team in the world), Gary Ward, the F-18 Demonstration team, and many more. With pilots from all around the world, Thunder in the Valley offers the whole family a chance to see some amazing airplanes and some jaw-dropping entertainment.

Advanced general admission tickets are $8 ($6 for military), and $10 the day of. Gates will be open from 10 A.M. till 5 P.M. on both days.

The Globetrotters Are Back in Columbus!

Looking for a great way to spend a Tuesday night that will be perfect for the whole family? Well get ready to clap along with “Sweet Georgia Brown” while watching some of the greatest basketball stunts and tricks you’ve ever seen! The world-famous Harlem Globetrotters are returning to the Columbus Civic Center!

This exhibition of athleticism and showmanship will have you and yours in awe as you witness some of the most talented ball-handlers in the world.

Go check out all the high-flying action and great family fun that the Globetrotters have to offer this Tuesday night at the Civic Center. Tickets are available on their website and other major ticket sites.

Doughboy Revival: Army Spring Football at Ft. Benning

Experiencing those pig-skin withdrawals that always seem to surface this time of year?  Well we’ve got a great way for you to get your grid-iron fix!

For the first time ever, Fort Benning will be hosting the Army football team of West Point for their Spring game. The annual intersquad contest has never taken place away from the West Point campus, and Fort Benning has undertaken a $1.5 million renovation of the historic Doughboy Stadium to get ready for this exciting event. To help celebrate the occasion, Nike has donated jerseys featuring both the Infantry and Armor insignia for the teams.

The two teams, Army Black and Army Gold, will take the field at 2 P.M. Friday afternoon. Go check out this great game to shake off those no-football blues!

Brave New Season: Spring Training Begins

Should we thank the Braves for the nice, mild winter we’ve all been enjoying here in Georgia? Maybe Mother Nature decided to cut us a break by saving an extended cold spell for another year, after seeing that chilling September in which the Braves weren’t just on a cold streak–they were frozen solid. Thinking back over that epic collapse that marred what once was such a promising season is enough to give any die-hard Braves fan shivers.

But of course, I’ve got to believe that this warm weather helped to thaw our Bravos out.

And so begins Spring training. A new year, a clean slate. The boys have reported to camp, and hopefully they’ll be able to put last season’s painful finale behind them. With GM Frank Wren standing pat this off-season and running the same team (more or less) out onto the field, it may make more than a few of us in Braves Country feel a bit uneasy about our chances. But we should all keep in mind that prior to an ugly September, we had a really formidable squad.

In order to be successful this year and prevent a repeat of that historic breakdown, a few things need to fall into place. Jason Heyward needs to brush off his pitiful sophomore campaign, regroup, and show that superstar promise he put on display in his All-Star rookie season. And while I marveled at Dan Uggla’s colossal 33 game hit-streak, I’d like to see his average well over the Mendoza line for this season’s first three months. And as always, our pitching can match up with the best of ‘em, providing we can stay healthy. A case can certainly be made that if we had Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson healthy down the stretch, we wouldn’t have blown that 8 1/2 game lead that denied us our spot in the playoffs.

We certainly have the talent. A lot of young arms and bats, with a few grizzled veterans providing leadership. It’s just a matter of making it count when it matters the most. And while I enjoyed wearing shorts on Christmas, I’d trade a sub-zero December for a red-hot Brave’s October any day.

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