Bradley’s Buzz: The so-so Braves, plus a bit more on NIL

Atlanta Braves' Travis d'Arnaud is safe at second with a double during the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Friday, May 20, 2022, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Credit: AP

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Atlanta Braves' Travis d'Arnaud is safe at second with a double during the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Friday, May 20, 2022, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Credit: AP

If you didn’t know the Braves were the 2021 World Series champs, you wouldn’t have guessed from their first 41 games of 2022. They’re tied with Boston and Philadelphia for the 16th-best record among 30 MLB teams. They’re eight games out of first place, matching their biggest deficit of last season. They’re 3.5 games back in the not-exactly-white-hot race for the National’ League’s third (and last) wild card.

They’re coming off their third series victory of this season. They’ve played 13 series. Sunday’s 4-3 loss in Miami prevented the Braves from a third consecutive win, which would have been a seasonal best. They managed no earned runs off Sandy Alcantara, who worked the sixth complete game any pitcher has thrown in 2022.

The most remarkable aspect of the first quarter of the Braves’ season is how unremarkable it has been. They’re 17th in runs and ERA. They fit the profile of a mediocre team. Still, we’re all waiting for them to go on a tear and remind us what they can do, which assumes they can still do it.

If we count a week the baseball way – starting on Monday, ending on Sunday – the Braves have had one winning week. They’re 19-22, which is what they were after 41 games last season, which is why nobody in his/her right mind would dismiss their chances. That said, we’re within sight of Memorial Day, the sport’s first checkpoint, and they’re hasn’t been much to see.

The Braves’ next 26 games will be played against teams now holding a losing record. The first-place Mets are without Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom. This correspondent has learned over time the value of patience re: baseball teams, but it’s high time this team won seven or eight – or even three – in a row.

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About this thing you’re reading

This marks the first appearance of a new, at least for me, endeavor. This is a newsletter. It will appear in your in-box on Mondays and Fridays. The thoughts, such as they are, expressed herein will not appear in the print Atlanta Journal-Constitution. This is what we in the trade like to call bonus content.

Welcome to one and all, and – as goes without saying – we welcome your feedback. I’ve done many things over my several years in the business, but I’ve never done a newsletter. Give the kid a chance, will ya?

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About these NBA blowouts

The NBA is where everything important happens in the final two minutes. These NBA playoffs have seen almost nothing of note happen in the final two minutes. Of the 32 games played in the conference semis and finals, five have been decided by five points or fewer. The average margin in the biggest series upset – Dallas over Phoenix – was 18 points. Games 5, 6 and 7 of that set were decided by 30, 27 and 33 points.

You ask: Why? Injuries – they seem to happen more often with every postseason, which doesn’t say much for load management – are an obvious factor. But I’d suggest that the NBA game itself now lends itself to wider margins. Over seven games, the Mavericks and Suns tried 463 3-pointers. That’s an average of 33.1 per team per game. If both teams are hitting their treys, you’ve got a wild game. If only one is, you’ve got a blowout.

Golden State will forever be remembered as the team that perfected the 3-pointer. In three games against Dallas, the Warriors have taken 89 3-pointers, or almost 30 per game. The Mavericks have taken 138, which is 46 a game, which is nuts. (The same Mavs have taken 101 2-pointers.) I know what analytics say – the only shots worth taking are 3-pointers and layups – but more and more I rue the loss of the mid-range jumper.

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About NILs and Nick and Jimbo

Having spent much of last week discussing this issue, the thought occurs that Nick Saban’s tweaking of Texas A&M – and Jimbo Fisher’s rant regarding his former boss – could mark a tipping point for college sports. Somebody had to say something, so Saban nominated himself.

Then I think: Nah.

Will the federal government override what state legislatures have done? Will the NCAA seize the day? (Here I LOL for 30 seconds.) Can the conferences negotiate a truce? Will all be forgiven when Alabama and A&M meet on Oct. 8? (Going with “no” on that one.)