Friday Fives: Oh, joy, A-Rod's a-comin'

A fistful of comments, asides and quick hits on the state of sports.

And a heartfelt “You had it coming, you louse,” to everyone exposed in the hack of the AshleyMadison website.

Some memories come back to bite

OK, we get it, already. This is the year when every ghost from Atlanta's past comes back to haunt.

Whenever Melvin (nee B.J.) Upton Jr. hits two home runs in a game, that is a clear sign of the apocalypse. And then, when he does it against the Braves – as he did Tuesday – that is the most obvious indication that something very weird is going on between this town and some of its more infamous temporary guests.

That was a brick to the head, whereas Dan Uggla’s game-winning homer against the Braves earlier this season was more a pebble in the shoe.

Anyone else want to come back and torment us?

Running back Steven Jackson recently tweeted that he’d like to sign with Dallas. Great. The Cowboys may want to think about it just for their Sept. 27 home game against the Falcons, in which Jackson obviously would go for 150 yards and three touchdowns.

That Georgia-UCLA national championship game will be a tough one to swallow, seeing Jim Mora up there tanning himself in the bright lights of victory.

Circle Jan. 27, 2016. That’s when the L.A. Clippers come to town and Josh Smith no doubt will hit a three to beat the Hawks.

Does Sherman himself wish to rise from the grave and start another spark?

Is it time to re-think A-Rod antagonism?

A few months ago, the New York Yankees wanted nothing more than for Alex Rodriguez to be kidnapped by aliens. Or to join a witness protection program. Maybe move to Costa Rica like the other burned-out Americans. You know, just go away and take that morbidly obese contract with you.

Now, in a stroke of shameless marketing hypocrisy, the Yankees will throw a pregame ceremony next month to honor A-Rod's 3,000th hit. It only took them about three months to work up the stomach for it (the hit happened June 18).

If they can get around to recognizing the rather remarkable comeback that Rodriguez has staged this season, if they can appreciate that he has been slightly less of a jackleg this season, then should we all?

I would suggest, in probably more vulgar terms, some variation of: “Oh, shoot, no.”

Baseball needs a thoroughly unlikable Alex Rodriguez, and it can’t allow his recent performance to blur that imperative.

The Yankees come to town next weekend, so those who attend may offer a voice vote on this important issue. Of course, the Yankees will have to expose him to playing the field (he is almost exclusively a DH in the alternate universe of the American League) for you to get the most out of the experience.

Can anybody here take a snap?

The quarterback headliner in the SEC is as rare a Starkville snowflake.

All around the beautiful conference coaches are reading tea leaves and flipping coins trying to decide who their starting quarterback will be. This generally is not a good sign for the vitality of your average powerhouse.

Three SEC teams have players on the Davey O’Brien preseason watch list – Mississippi State, Tennessee and Auburn (by contrast, the ACC and PAC 12 have four each). And everyone else in the south seems to be in a tizzy.

Georgia and Alabama were withholding stats from closed scrimmages, as if their quarterbacks’ numbers were nuclear launch codes. Such secrecy breeds the suspicion that whoever is throwing the ball must be doing it underhand.

At places like LSU and Florida and South Carolina none of the choices seem to inspire flaming hope in even the most optimistic fan.

'Bama's Nick Saban went against all prevailing thought when he said: "I don't think that we need to have a quarterback that needs to win the game. I think that if we could have someone who could play well enough and make good choices. . .that probably would keep us in the game. With the rest of the players that we have, I think we'd have a good chance." The caretaker QB is hardly the symbol of 21st Century football.

It is one of the more puzzling aspects to the SEC: A great conference has not produced a trove of great quarterbacks – just five tried and true starters in the 2000s according to a Bleacher Report count. I know. That sounds impossible.

That leaves me with just one question: Why doesn’t at least one of those surplus arms at Ohio State just transfer south?

The Wren rumors fly 

Stories abound that Frank Wren, fired by the Braves at the close of last season, is the front-runner for the Boston Red Sox GM job.

Who you know is as big a deal in baseball as it is in any other corporate enterprise, and Wren goes way back with the man the Red Sox just hired to head their baseball operations, Dave Dombrowski.

What a soft landing that would be for Wren, after he was cast out as part of the Braves Let’s-Get-It-Right-By-2017 campaign. He could go to a rich franchise that is able to shake off the effects of a Melvin Upton contract as easily as brushing off a few flecks of dandruff. I believe after every game Boston players all spend at least 20 minutes in a training room tub filled with Beluga caviar and blue chip stock certificates.

Should it happen, it will be fascinating to watch how Wren can operate in an environment without economic restrictions. And, should it happen, why wouldn’t the fans back in Atlanta wish him well? It’s not like he wanted Uggla to develop an allergy to a pitched baseball.

His new constituency in the northeast would be hard enough on him. No need to pile on down here.

How soccer is ruining our children, Example No. 1,300

Until just recently, I thought Mario Balotelli was that pony-tailed, smock-and-Crocs–wearing chef who makes a killer risotto.

Turns out he’s a sometimes soccer player for Liverpool, a sort of problem child in a mohawk and dangly earrings.

I see here in a British tabloid dispatch that Balotelli, despite the huge transfer fee paid AC Milan to acquire his services, has scored but four goals in 28 games.

Proving once more that substance is losing the war against foolishness, Balotelli recently released his own soccer shoe, complete with a little strips of fluff on the heel, representing tiny mohawks. The shoe comes with a soccer ball that also is adorned with a hairy strip.

To recap, according to Deadspin, our hero just came out with a line of “cleats that you can’t really kick well in, and a soccer ball that you can’t really kick well.”

The perfect package for the age of nonsense.

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