- Created on 07 May 2013
(AP) — Jason Collins, the NBA veteran who last week announced he was gay, is disputing reports from publishing insiders who say he is shopping a book deal.
Officials at three publishing houses told The Associated Press on Monday that they had been contacted about a planned memoir by Collins, the first active player in any of four major...
- Created on 06 May 2013
The Braves looked like a well oiled machine in their 9-4 victory over the New York Mets Sunday afternoon, but that machine is still missing some key components.
The Braves, who hold a two game lead in the National League East, have four key players expected to make their return this season and two of them are big time sluggers. Six time all-star catcher Brian McCann has missed 30 games after an off-season surgery to a repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder and golden glove winner Jason Heyward is on the 15-day disabled list after an emergency appendectomy last Monday.
"McCann is expected to fly with us to Cincinnati if he feels up to it," Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Heyward could travel to Cincinnati as well but there is no time table on him, he will be day-to-day."
Without some key players in the lineup, the Braves are still putting up impressive offensive numbers and are in first place in the N.L. with 41 homers.
In the third inning of Sunday's game, the team manufactured five runs without the aid of a home run. Justin Upton drove in the first run of the game with an RBI single after Andrelton Simmons reached base with a leadoff double and a Chris Johnson walk. Both Johnson, who replaced Heyward in the lineup after his injury, and Upton scored when Freedie Freeman launched a 3-1 pitch to deep left field. Freeman later scored on a wild pitch from Mets' starting pitcher Jonathon Niese.
"We haven't played a game yet with our full lineup and we're in first place so everyone is excited to get these guys back and healthy," said Johnson.
The Mets would make it interesting in k in the fourth inning when Braves' fans most loathed player David Wright belted a two-run homer to center field to cut the lead 5-2. But that Braves quickly answered back. In the fifth inning a Reed Johnson single scored Evan Gattis and Dan Uggla to extend the lead 7-2. Freeman added another run with his second home run of the season in the sixth.
Freeman finished the game 3-for-5 with three RBI and a home run. The slumping Uggla and B.J. Upton combined to go 2-for-6 with three walks.
Hudson (4-1) pitched 7 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts giving up just three earned runs.
The Braves bullpen struggled to get an out in the eigth inning after Hudson's exit, giving up two runs. Lucas Duda had an RBI single and Justin Turner walked with the bases loaded.
The Braves, who have the third best ERA (3.23) in the majors, are still missing two pitchers. Brandon Beachy is expected back in June after Tommy John surgery, and Johhny Venters, who has a career 2.23 ERA with 258 strikeouts in 230 innings will also be rejoining the lineup later in the year.
On Sunday the Braves bats once again picked up up the bullpen. Upton reached on a lead off walk and later scored thanks to a sacrifice fly by Gattis.
McCann is expected to play against Cincinnati and Tyler Pastornicky will be optioned to the minors to make room for his return to the lineup. Having two prominent catchers in the lineup could prove to be tricky but Gonzalez could move Gattis to the outfield to play left and shift Justin Upton to right field.
"We are excited to have him back and have him healthy anytime you can plug an all-star in your lineup its a good thing," said Hudson.
The Braves will begin their 10-game road trip tonight at Cincinnati.
- Created on 05 May 2013
After the loss to Indiana in Game 5 in which the Pacers took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven NBA Eastern Conference series, Atlanta coach Larry Drew referred to the lack of team play by his Hawks in saying, "We got into kind of a me-me-me state."
But after connecting on just one field goal the entire second quarter, and shooting a meager 6.7 percent from the field during the period – it was more like "not me" for his team in Friday's Game 6.
Despite going on a 23-9 run to pull to within three points late in the fourth quarter, the Hawks failed to recover from what may well have been the worst quarter in league history as they were eliminated in the opening round of the NBA playoffs by the Pacers, 81-73.
Indiana broke a 13-game losing streak in Philips Arena, and for the second consecutive season the Hawks were unsuccessful in advancing past the opening round of the playoffs. The Pacers move on to face the New York Knicks and former Atlanta head coach Mike Woodson.
"We finally got the monkey off our back in this building," said Indiana guard George Hill.
Not only did the Hawks experience a shooting drought in the first half when they did choose to shoot against the league-leading defensive unit, but on many occasions were reluctant to even go to the basket – often over-passing or throwing the ball away. Atlanta was 9-for-38 from the field in the first half.
Toward the end of the fourth-quarter rally with just under two minutes left in the game, again Josh Smith and Al Horford passed up driving layups – choosing to go instead to teammate Johan Petro, who missed the 21-foot 3-point attempt from the corner. Horford and Smith would then both miss attempts from 16-, and 24-feet out respectively with about a minute left to play and with the Hawks trailing by six, before the Pacers would tally the last five points to seal the win.
After compiling 34.8 percent shooting in the first quarter, Atlanta was able to stay close enough through four lead changes and six ties. That is, until the disastrous second quarter that proved to be fatal.
"I think the story of this game was our inability to make a shot," Drew said during the post-game press conference.
Atlanta's scoring drought began at the 10:35 mark in the second with the Hawks trailing by just one point, 23-22.
They then missed 13 straight shots while failing to drive to the basket for any layups. Eleven of those 13 misguided attempts were from 16 or more feet from the basket. In fact, the Hawks had just four points on the break the entire game – none in the first three quarters.
"We did not get out and run...we were standing at half court," Drew continued. "A few times we just settled for the jump shot when we knew we had to go to the post."
But if nothing else, these Hawks showed character by not going down without a fight.
After trailing by as much as 19 points – 52-33 at the 7:31 mark in the third quarter – Atlanta began to rally from behind to cut the lead to nine points by 8:20 in the fourth. And by 2:55, the Hawks deficit was cut to five...then three, 76-73, by 2:19. However, the Pacers were able to hang on long enough for time to expire.
Hill and David West scored 21 points apiece to lead the Pacers, and Roy Hibbert added 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Atlanta was led by Horford's 15 points, followed by 14 each by Smith and Devin Harris.
- Created on 06 May 2013
LeBron James was at his best this season, and the voters tasked with selecting the NBA’s Most Valuable Player took notice.
Every voter except one, that is.
The NBA still does not have a unanimous MVP, though no one has come closer than James did this season. The Miami Heat star was presented with the Maurice Podoloff Trophy for the fourth...
- Created on 04 May 2013
The Atlanta Braves continue to struggle when Kris Medlen (1-4) takes the mound, a drastic contrast to last season when he posted a 10-1 record. Medlen suffered his third straight loss as the Washington Nationals came away with a 3-1 victory in Thursday night's series finale at Turner Field.
Washington's starting pitcher Dan Haren (3-3) pitched eight innings giving up just four hits with four strikeouts. In 2012 the Braves won 23 consecutive games in which Medlen pitched, however Atlanta is just 2-4 in his starts this season with Braves' hitters providing him an average of just two runs in support (the lowest of any Braves starter).
"I'm tired of giving interviews where I say I tried to keep us in the game," Medlen said. "I just didn't have my 'A-game' in those first two innings; I told myself just go out there and just pitch the...ball."
Medlen pitched seven innings and was charged with seven hits and three earned runs and a season-high eight strikeouts, but struggled early, giving up doubles in the first and second inning. In the first inning, the Nationals claimed an early 1-0 lead after Denard Span led off with a double and scored on a single from Steve Lombardozzi.
"I thought Medlen was outstanding and he gave us seven strong innings," Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "If it wasn't for an out at [third base] we might still be playing."
Along with a poor hitting performance, Medlen didn't receive much help from the defense. In the second inning a tricky hop down the third base line proved costly for the Braves when third baseman Chris Johnson misplayed a ground ball allowing two runs to score for the Nationals. The play was originally ruled an error, but was later changed to a two-run double for Span. Adam Laroche hit a double to lead off the inning and Anthony Rendon hit a single. Both runners would score and were the difference in the game. After Thursday's loss the Braves now hold on to a slim 2 1/2 game lead in the National League East.
"Johnson said he just booted the ball. Nine times out of ten that's a play he makes," Fredi Gonzalez said.
The Braves were able to squeak just one run across in the seventh inning when Dan Uggla managed to connect with a home run on a 3-2 breaking pitch, ending Atlanta's scoreless streak at 15 2/3 innings over two games.
"It's very frustrating, our guy pitched well we just couldn't get any run support behind him," Uggla said.
Haren kept the Braves hitters off balance with his cutters in the strike zone and threw 62 of his 90 total pitches for strikes.
"[Haren] was doing whatever he wanted to do out there, he had great command of his pitches," Uggla said.
Gonzalez said before the game that his star hitters' (Uggla and B.J. Upton) lack of production is not because of a lack of effort
"I tend to stay out of the batting cage when it comes to those guys," said Gonzalez. "They are putting the work in so you have to stay with your players when they are struggling."
Despite the Braves recent hitting slump, Evan Gattis and Justin Upton were awarded National League rookie of the Month and National League Player of the Month for April respectively. Since joining the Braves, Upton has been one of the few hitters in the lineup with consistent offense. In 26 games, Upton leads the majors in home runs (12) and is tied for first with 22 runs scored. Gattis continues his meteoric rise as one of the top rookie in Major League Baseball. Gattis leads all rookies in home runs (6), runs batted in (16) and has a batting average of .250.