Mark Bradley blog 

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

In the end, even this Wren defender has no objection

  • 10:59 am Monday, September 22nd, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Frank Wren: Gone as GM. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

It wasn’t so long ago — on Monday, July 7, to be precise — that these fingers offered up a few hundred words in defense of Frank Wren. My reasoning, such as it was: Since 2010, the Atlanta Braves had won more regular-season games than any team in baseball, and I believed that Wren’s offseason push to re-up four key pieces of the team’s young core would secure the future of the franchise. (I should also note that, at that moment, the Braves led the National League East.)

Today the Braves fired Frank Wren, and this former [More]

Have the Braves quit on Fredi G. and themselves?

  • 8:04 am Monday, September 22nd, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Heads not held high: The story of the 2014 Braves. (David Goldman/AP photo)

One week ago, the Atlanta Braves opened a 10-game homestand against Washington and Stephen Strasburg, a team and a pitcher they’d come to own. They weren’t in great shape, playoff-wise, but they had a chance: They trailed Pittsburgh by four games for the second wild card. Take two of three from the Nats and maybe sweep the Mets and the Braves would face four games against the Pirates at Turner Field. (Never mind that Milwaukee was also ahead of the Braves.)

Today the Braves and Pirates will begin that four-game series, and the former has been eliminated. The Pirates went 4-2 [More]

For Georgia Tech, Justin Thomas was just in time

  • 5:56 pm Saturday, September 20th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
A triumphant Justin Thomas greets his constituency. (AP photo by Matt Gentry of the Roanoke Times)

Blacksburg, Va. – These short takes are presented as a companion to the Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech game column, which can be found here. Georgia Tech won 27-24, in case you haven’t heard.

1. The bigger the moment, the better Justin Thomas is. Eight days after engineering the drive that rescued the Jackets against Georgia Southern, Thomas presided over a tying surge and then a winning one in the final 5:21 in a stadium where Georgia Tech hadn’t won since 2006. Until those final two possessions, the Jackets’ quarterback had completed 3 of 11 passes. He completed 4 of 7 thereafter. [More]

Live from Blacksburg: A tough trek for Georgia Tech

  • 10:17 am Saturday, September 20th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Lane Stadium, 9:55 a.m. (M. Bradley)

Blacksburg, Va. – Not for nothing is Virginia Tech known as every ACC program’s least favorite destination. Logistics are never easy, there being no great way to get here. As evidence, we offer Georgia Tech’s latest trek.

The Yellow Jackets boarded their plane in Atlanta before noon Friday. They expected to land in Roanoke, which is 40 miles up the interstate. They landed instead in North Carolina. Two landing passes at the Roanoke airport proved unavailing due to fog.

So the plane flew to Greensboro, which is a 2 1/2-hour drive from here. (I know because I made that haul on a [More]

Bucs stomped here: The Falcons romp 56-14

  • 11:47 pm Thursday, September 18th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
A record dash: Devin Hester does the Deion. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

These short takes are presented as a companion to the Falcons-Buccaneers print column, which can be found here.

1. This offense is really something, and we don’t mean Tampa Bay’s. After a blah performance at Cincinnati, the Atlanta Falcons needed 177 seconds to score a touchdown. By halftime they would lead 35-0. After three quarters it was 56-0. Through those three quarters, the Falcons had outgained the visitors 457 yards to 151 and had mustered 24 first downs to the Bucs’ six. Julio Jones caught nine passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns. Devin Hester scored on a reverse and [More]

Who’s at fault for this September’s Braves flop?

  • 10:20 am Wednesday, September 17th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Somebody got to celebrate at Turner Field. (David Tulis/AP)

I’m on record as saying I believe Fredi Gonzalez to be a good manager. He passes the test every successful manager must pass: His men play hard. (That’s the weird part about what’s happening now; the Atlanta Braves still, at least to these eyes, appear to be playing hard. Just not well, at least when it comes to hitting the ball.) If you ask me today if I’d be comfortable with Gonzalez managing this team the next five years, I’d say yes almost without hesitation.

Here, however, is where the “almost” arises: For the second time in four years, the Braves [More]

The .500 Braves are facing change. But how much?

  • 9:24 am Tuesday, September 16th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
"I find this ejection unacceptable." (Curtis Compton/AJC)

On the night of Sept. 15, the Atlanta Braves completed their downward journey to break-even. After 150 games, they’re where they were on April Fools’ Day. Then they were 1-1. They’re now 75-75. They’re no longer a winning team.

It was altogether fitting and proper that this inglorious moment came against the Washington Nationals, the one opponent they’d been able to handle, and Stephen Strasburg, the pitcher they’d come to own. Alas, these Braves have fallen so far that even those Old Reliables have been rendered moot. Strasburg pitched seven shutout innings. The Nats won 4-2 to pare their magic number [More]

Was Bobo so wrong for not giving the ball to Gurley?

  • 7:16 am Monday, September 15th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
"What the heck did we just do?" (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

If a good decision yields a bad result, can it have been a good decision? Mike Bobo, Georgia’s offensive coordinator, made what seemed a terrible choice — terrible in hindsight, we emphasize — by opting not to let Todd Gurley, the nation’s best tailback, run on first-and-goal from the South Carolina 4 with the Bulldogs trailing by a field goal. (Perhaps you’ve heard a bit about this.)

Georgia’s failure to score on that series — Marshall Morgan pushed what would have been the tying field goal wide right — has led to much criticism, some of it from this sector. [More]

Yes, Georgia was outplayed. But Georgia also blew it

  • 9:24 pm Saturday, September 13th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
A scene Georgia fans are sick of seeing. (Rainier Erhardt/AP)

Columbia, S.C. – These short takes are presented as a companion to the Georgia-South Carolina game column, which can be found on myajc.com.

1. Georgia botched a better chance than it probably deserved. Having been on the back foot all night, the Bulldogs finally had the game in their hands after Damian Swann flashed in front of Dylan Thompson’s third-down pass and gave the Bulldogs possession at the South Carolina 4 with 5:24 remaining. A touchdown might have won it. The first-down call was a bootleg pass off a play-action fake to Todd Gurley, the nation’s best tailback. If it [More]

Live from Columbia: Will Georgia reign in the rain?

  • 1:49 pm Saturday, September 13th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Pollack for six on a rainy day. (AP photo)

Columbia, S.C. – It’s not raining yet — the sun’s out now and it’s unbelievably humid — but, according to the Weather Channel, it’s coming. There’s a 60 percent chance of storms at 4 p.m., an 80 percent chance at 5 and a 50 percent chance at 6. Conventional wisdom holds that rain favors a running team, which both Georgia and South Carolina have been, at least to date, but rain also slows fast teams, and the Bulldogs are the faster side.

The famous David Pollack game here in 2002 featured a first-half thunderstorm so wicked that play was stopped for [More]