Mark Bradley blog 

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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LeBron back to Cleveland, and that’s not a bad thing

  • 12:41 pm Friday, July 11th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Gone from South Beach in a puff of smoke. (AP photo)

LeBron James is taking his talents to …

How about we just retire that tired line here and now? How about we just say, “LeBron James is headed back to Cleveland to play for the Cavaliers?” Is that good enough?

I’ll be honest: I never thought he’d leave Miami — a good organization based in Florida, which has nice weather and no state income tax — but the Cavaliers, of all teams, closed the sale. (LeBron announced his decision via an essay on SI.com, which beats the heck of “The Decision,” that overblown hour of ego-gratification that aired on ESPN in [More]

ESPN’s future power rankings: UGA is No. 8

  • 6:07 am Thursday, July 10th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
"See if you can get me higher grade than 7.9, Jeremy." (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Not content simply to dissect the here and now, ESPN Insider has turned its collective eye toward the next three college football seasons. Travis Haney and an illustrious panel — recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill, playoff maven Brad Edwards, former quarterback Brock Huard and esteemed former colleague Mark Schlabach — have cast votes and (big shock here) Alabama is ranked No. 1 going way, way forward.

Florida State is No. 2, Ohio State No. 3. Then come SEC reps LSU and Auburn. Then comes Southern Cal, then Oklahoma. Then comes Georgia.

The panel assesses five categories — coaching, talent, recruiting, title path [More]

Sporting News: Falcons third in division, 24th in NFL

  • 9:39 am Wednesday, July 9th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
"One word of advice, men. Don't buy that Sporting News yearbook." (Curtis Compton/AJC)

As faithful readers — and perhaps some unfaithful ones — know, I’m a major fan of preseason predictions, and not just mine. (Especially not mine.) There was a year when Sporting News, which historically has produced first-rate annuals for all the big sports, didn’t publish a single one, and I was beyond consolation.

I’m happy to report that Sporting News is again back in the yearbook business, and it was with great delight that I bought its Pro Football edition over the weekend. (I also bought Phil Steele’s idiosyncratic college football annual, of which I’m also enamored and which [More]

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]

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