Mark Bradley blog 

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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The Braves have arisen, mostly due to J-Up

  • 10:35 am Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Rounding third and heading for home. (Keith Srakocic/AP)

When the Atlanta Braves lost three of four to the Dodgers last week, I was very close to saying, “That’s all, folks.” (And I’m normally pretty cautious about such proclamations, having been wrong so often.) The Braves had gone 0-8 on the West Coast and had come home to lose four of seven. They’d gone 3-12 at a time when you don’t need to be going 3-12.

They were one game above .500. They were six games behind Washington in the National League East. They’d fallen to fourth in the wild-card pecking order. They had nothing going for them, and they [More]

The fickle finger of Johnny Football: What it means

  • 10:47 am Tuesday, August 19th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
This sort of gesture is A-OK. (Evan Vucci/AP)

In most cases, it would be wrong to make too much of a gesture made in the heat of competition. In the case of Johnny Manziel, the middle finger he flashed toward the Washington Redskins’ bench during Monday’s exhibition game — repeat, exhibition game — is too much in keeping with his persona to be dismissed as a one-off. This being Johnny Football, you half-expected as much.

Having seen Manziel in person as he directed the epic Texas A&M comeback against Duke in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, I consider myself a convert. Before the 2013 season, I wondered if the 2012 Heisman [More]

From SI: Petrino and Grantham aren’t getting along

  • 10:18 pm Monday, August 18th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
"All these guys? They hate me already." (Garry Jones/AP)

Well, that didn’t take long. According to an SI.com report by Pete Thamel and Thayer Evans, the odd Louisville couple that is Bobby Petrino (once the Falcons’ coach) and Todd Grantham (recently Georgia’s defensive coordinator) has already had a falling out. Who among us didn’t see this one coming?

Write Thamel/Evans:

Sources with ties to the Cardinals’ football program and Petrino said there’s significant friction between Petrino and Grantham. The two have feuded often since Grantham’s hiring in January — so much that one source insists Petrino would have already gotten rid of Grantham if not for his guaranteed five-year contract [More]

The Braves remind us that they can play, too

  • 7:45 am Monday, August 18th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Justin Upto, Jason Heyward, Andrelton Simmons, Phil Gosselin

A homestand that might have been the Atlanta Braves’ last stand of 2014 became something rather different. For the first time a long while, they proved they can beat somebody good besides Washington. They reminded us that they can play, too.

They swept the Oakland A’s, who have baseball’s best record no more, after nearly being swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers. The homestand ended with the home team going 6-4, which mightn’t sound like much until we recall that, as of Friday morning, you’d surely have predicted 4-6 if not 3-7. They even beat two excellent pitchers — the A’s [More]

At the home of the Braves, another flurry of homers

  • 11:49 pm Friday, August 15th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Freeman puts up a three-spot. (David Tulis/AP)

When the ball flies over yonder wall, the Atlanta Braves are a different team. We’ve known that for a while, and we’ve seen it again this homestand. A week ago they hit four home runs off Stephen Strasburg and won. On Friday they hoisted four more — three off starter Jason Hammel, the fourth off former Brave Jesse Chavez — and beat the Oakland A’s, who hold the best record in baseball.

This was the way it worked in 2013, when the Braves led the National League with 181 homers and won 96 games. It hasn’t worked nearly as well this [More]

Many outlets have UGA No. 12; this one won’t

  • 8:36 am Thursday, August 14th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
"If you ask me, Phil Steele really knows football." (AJC file photo)

A rather strong consensus is emerging: Georgia will enter the season ranked midway through most Top 25s but not in many Top 10s. (There are exceptions, as we’ll see.)

Sports Illustrated just revealed its Top 25, and SI has Georgia No. 12, with three SEC teams ahead of it, South Carolina included.  ESPN The Magazine likewise has the Bulldogs No. 12, also with three SEC teams ranked higher, South Carolina among them. That dovetails with the USA Today coaches’ poll, which had Georgia — do I detect a theme emerging? – No. 12 in the land and fourth [More]

Free-falling Braves: Closer to fourth place than first

  • 11:13 am Wednesday, August 13th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Missed it by that much. (John Bazemore/AP)

Folks, this isn’t getting better. The Atlanta Braves are 2-3 on this difficult homestand, having fallen five games behind first-place Washington. They haven’t lost an acre of ground in the wild-card chase because most of the other aspirants have likewise been losing, but they’re still 2 1/2 games out of the second WC spot.

Having already depressed the heck out of everyone, we might as well go the full Monty and note: The Miami Marlins, who lost their best pitcher to Tommy John surgery in May, are one game behind the Braves. And the Mets, who haven’t had their best pitcher [More]

The puny Braves suffer a most sobering loss to L.A.

  • 6:46 am Tuesday, August 12th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
One picture, one hundred thousand words. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

I admit it. For a minute or two Monday, my thoughts, such as they are, got ahead of my brain, such as it is. News arrived that the Dodgers had bumped Zack Greinke back a day — meaning the Atlanta Braves would face neither of L.A.’s two great pitchers in this four-game series — collided with the belief that the Braves would have much the better of the pitching matchup in Monday’s Game 1. Which spawned this scenario:

Braves win Monday behind the All-Star Julio Teheran. Braves beat the beatable Dan Haren on Tuesday and the eminently beatable Roberto Hernandez on [More]

The Braves beat the Nats, but what about B.J.?

  • 8:19 am Monday, August 11th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
B.J. Upton after whiffing. (John Bazemore/AP)

A strange series — with the Atlanta Braves and the Washington Nationals, there can be no other kind — ended with both sides feeling they’d done what they needed to do. The Braves won two of three to slow the slide that began on the West Coast and draw a game closer to first place. (Though 3 1/2 games back isn’t all that close.) The Nats didn’t get swept by the team they lead in the standings but rarely beat on the field.

The Braves again trumped the two Nationals pitchers they’ve come to own. Stephen Strasburg yielded four home runs [More]

A really long night ends really badly for the Braves

  • 2:34 am Sunday, August 10th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Ol' Rochy's homer put the Nationals ahead, briefly. (John Bazemore/AP)

The game began at 10:51 p.m. Saturday, after even the West Coast games had commenced. It followed a rain delay of three hours and 41 minutes, which is about the time it takes the Red Sox and Yankees to play three innings. It ended at 2:29 a.m. Sunday, and it ended the way few games between these teams has ended of late.

For only the 10th time in 35 meetings since Aug. 22, 12012, the Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves. This came at a galling moment for the home side, given that the Braves entered the series 4 1/2 games [More]

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