Mark Bradley blog 

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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Do the Braves really win in spite of Frank Wren?

  • 9:23 am Tuesday, July 8th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
The future's so bright, he's gotta wear shades. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Today’s AJC contains 800 words in defense of Frank Wren, the general manager seen by some folks as the reason the Atlanta Braves aren’t better than they are. The crux of my defense — and it’s a considerable crux, you’ll have to admit — is one basic fact: Over the past 4 1/2 seasons, the Braves have won more regular-season games than any team in baseball.

That can’t, I submit, have happened by accident. Somebody in charge has to be doing something right. If the four massive contractual errors — Derek Lowe, Kenshin Kawakami, Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton — can’t [More]

Hooray for Julio Teheran, a most deserving All-Star

  • 6:45 am Monday, July 7th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
How about a hand for a great young pitcher? (Jason Getz/AJC)

Three Atlanta Braves made the National League All-Star squad. Two were all but certainties: Craig Kimbrel is an annual lock; Freddie Freeman is becoming one. I’m usually not one to get worked up over All-Star selections — despite MLB’s attempts to confer True Meaning, it remains an exhibition game — but I have to confess:

I’d have been ticked if Julio Teheran hadn’t made it.

As it was, he made the NL roster as a replacement for Jeff Samardzija, who was traded from Chicago to Oakland — “Moneyball” is going for it all! — over the weekend. That’s a bit of a [More]

ESPN survey: Matt Ryan is a second-tier quarterback

  • 9:08 am Thursday, July 3rd, 2014 by Mark Bradley
He wears No. 2, and he's ranked in Tier 2. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

In the effort to rank the NFL’s quarterbacks, Mike Sando of ESPN Insider has conducted a survey of 26 front-office types. For the Atlanta Falcons, the good news is that Matt Ryan ranks No. 8 overall. (Though he’s tied with three others for the eighth spot.) The sobering news is that some of those FO types are quoted, albeit anonymously, as feeling chilly toward Matty Ice.

Sando’s ranking groups five quarterbacks into the top tier: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Andrew Luck. The second tier begins with Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger. Thence cometh the Iceman. [More]

For the Hawks, Luol Deng would be an upgrade

  • 7:48 am Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Luol Deng and Kyle Korver: Once and future teammates? (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Esteemed colleague Chris Vivlamore has identified Luol Deng, once of Chicago and lately of Cleveland, as the Atlanta Hawks’ top target, realistically speaking, in free agency. (The Hawks will try to woo LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, but neither pursuit would seem realistic.) What would landing Deng do for the local franchise?

It would give them a better No. 1 small forward than DeMarre Carroll, who shouldn’t be starting for an upper-level NBA club, and would make their first five — Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Deng, Kyle Korver and Jeff Teague — one of the league’s 10 best. Deng is [More]

Orlando Sentinel ranks Tech 55th in the nation

  • 9:47 am Tuesday, July 1st, 2014 by Mark Bradley
All the color and pageantry of that rainy T-Day. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Every summer, Matt Murschel of the Orlando Sentinel undertakes the massive task of ranking all the FBS (formerly Division I-A) football teams. Murschel slots Georgia Tech at No. 55 this time, which is above the halfway point — there are 128 FBS teams — but not all that far above it. Still, there’s a bit of a silver lining.

Even at 55th, Tech should be favored — at least by the Sentinel’s ratings — in half its games. Wofford, against which Tech opens, isn’t ranked since it’s an FCS member, and Tulane (75th), Georgia Southern (124th), Virginia (118th), North [More]

Say hello again to the first-place Atlanta Braves

  • 6:29 am Monday, June 30th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
It's thumbs-up for Fredi G. and his resurgent team. (H Rumph Jr./AP)

The Atlanta Braves are again alone in first place, holding a half-game lead over Washington. They were two games back six days ago, but they won two of three in Houston and four of four in Philadelphia. Such are the undulations of a six-month season.

The Braves have benefited, if slightly, from having B.J. Upton bat leadoff. He’s not exactly knocking the cover off the ball — he’s 6-for-22 since moving to the No. 1 spot, which has enabled him to lift his average from .202 to .205 — but he has managed a hit in all six games and has [More]

Payne is Hawks-like, but is he right for the Hawks?

  • 11:02 am Friday, June 27th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Props for the plaid and the pink, Mr. Payne. (Jason DeCrow/AP)

Danny Ferry knows what he’s doing, and I haven’t always said that about every Atlanta Hawks general manager. (And I’ve known five.) I don’t doubt that Adreian Payne fits what the Hawks want to do. Strange as this might sound, that’s my problem with them picking Adreian Payne.

If you’d asked me at noon Thursday, “Among players apt to be available at No. 15, who’s most Hawks-like?”, I’d have said Adreian Payne. He’s big and he can shoot 3-pointers. The Hawks like their big guys to shoot 3-pointers. Paul Millsap does it. Pero Antic does it. Mike Scott does it. Even [More]

UGA vs. Notre Dame – a risk well worth running

  • 3:34 pm Wednesday, June 25th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Scott Woener intercepts a pass; Irish eyes aren't smiling. (AJC file photo)

Georgia has announced that it will play Notre Dame in 2017 (there) and 2019 (here, or more precisely in Athens). When you play somebody good, there’s always the chance you’ll lose. In the grand scheme, however, that will be a risk even more worth taking.

We’re about to enter the playoff era. With a committee to select the teams, as opposed to a combination of computer rankings and polls, strength of schedule is going to matter more than it has. We’re going to see deserving two-loss teams make the four-team field. In the BCS era, only one two-loss team played [More]

B.J. bats leadoff. Braves win. Problem solved?

  • 9:55 am Wednesday, June 25th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
B.J. Upton, the new Rickey Henderson? Er, no. (David J. Phillip/AP)

To recap: B.J. Upton batted leadoff for the Atlanta Braves in Houston on Tuesday and didn’t go 0-for-4 but got an actual hit, and not just any hit but the go-ahead home run. (Although the homer wasn’t struck when Upton led off an inning, just for the record.) The Braves won 3-2. For one night, everybody was happy. Does this mean B.J. Upton should remain in the No. 1 slot?

No. No. No. And, just for effect, I say again: No.

The primary job of a leadoff man is to get on base. Upton’s on-base percentage is .272. The average OBP for [More]

Should the Hawks trade Horford? Not now, I say

  • 11:27 am Tuesday, June 24th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
"Take my advice: You'd rather tear a pectoral than break a foot." (Jason Getz/AJC)

Danny Ferry just reminded me of this: “The first time we ever talked — two years ago in Centennial Tower (where the Atlanta Hawks’ offices are located) — you said, ‘You might have to trade Al Horford to get where you want to go.’ “

Not that I have a one-track mind — and not that I know anything about anything — but here it is 2014 and I’m still thinking the same. With Ferry as general manager, the Hawks have become a pretty good team with a very good coach and a clear idea of how they want to play. [More]

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