Mark Bradley blog 

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

The Falcons play and win and don’t look awful

  • 11:02 pm Friday, August 8th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Matt Ryan completed six passes and called it a night. (David Goldman/AP)

So: Did the Atlanta Falcons look bigger? Tougher? Meaner? Are they ready to “rectify with a vengeance,” as general manager Thomas Dimitroff hopes? Is one exhibition victory over the Miami Dolphins cause to fire up the Super Bowl Express?

Nah.

They looked OK. Not great, not awful. Just OK. They didn’t take a lead until the second half, and by then both starting quarterbacks were long gone, neither having played beyond the first quarter, neither having thrown an incompletion. The Dolphins took the opening kickoff and drove to a touchdown. The Falcons answered. That was it for both No. 1’s, and that [More]

On the bright side, the Braves get to face Strasburg

  • 8:57 am Friday, August 8th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Stephen Strasburg gets a second-inning thumb. (AP photo)

If you’ve lost eight in a row to fall 4 1/2 games out of first place in your division and 3 1/2 games out of the second wild-card spot and you’re about to begin a 10-game homestand over which you’ll meet three of the six division leaders … well, you take your positive signs where you can find them. Here are the only two I see:

1. The Atlanta Braves won’t have to face Clayton Kershaw next week.

2. They do get to face Stephen Strasburg tonight.

Of all the big-name pitchers the Braves see regularly in the National League East — that’s [More]

Pete Van Wieren: The Professor of baseball studies

  • 8:39 am Thursday, August 7th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
The smart one, the nice one and the snarky one. (Marlene Karas/AJC)

Think of them as the three uncles. Ernie Johnson was the essence of avuncular, the nice man who’d shake your hand and ask how you were doing and make you feel welcome. Skip Caray was the sarcastic uncle, the one who’d make fun of your shirt. Pete Van Wieren was the clever uncle, the one who’d show you the ropes of coin collecting or how to use that telescope you’d gotten for Christmas.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Pete, whom Ernie Sr. famously dubbed the Professor and who died Saturday of cancer at age 69, and I’ve realized that little [More]

Silver lining: Nats aren’t exactly seizing the moment

  • 8:51 am Wednesday, August 6th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Out at home: The Nats' Jayson Werth is thwarted. (Nick Wass/AP)

The Atlanta Braves have lost seven in a row, the latest coming on a night when they actually scored off Felix Hernandez, albeit on a broken-bat single, but were undone when Tommy La Stella dropped a pop-up. (At least he didn’t lose a grounder in the lights, as Chipper Jones managed to do against the Marlins in the Epic Collapse of 2011.)

The Braves remain three games behind Washington in the National League East. That’s not great, but it could and probably should be much worse. The Nats have lost eight of their past 13 games and six of the past [More]

Is UGA really the third-best job in college football?

  • 8:09 am Tuesday, August 5th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
"If we don't make a first down right now, I might slip to No. 4." (Jason Getz/AJC)

In a post for Fox Sports, Clay Travis of Outkick The Coverage has rated the 25 best coaching jobs in college football. He has Florida No. 1, Texas No. 2 and Georgia No. 3. Ohio State is No. 5, Alabama No. 6 and LSU No. 7.

Travis’ methodology: It’s better to be based in the South — “Increasingly, college football is a game played in the sunshine,” he avers — and most big-name recruits either hail from or want to move to the South. Which doesn’t explain why Florida State ranks No. 12, especially seeing as how Florida State graced [More]

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