By: John Wickham

The Braves are 12-6 and lead the division by 1.5 games over the Washington Nationals. Everyone expected that, right? Well it might be true that many expected the Braves to lead the NL East race on April 21. The way they have done it is probably not the way most would have seen it coming.

Andrelton Simmons has flashed with the glove and arm, of course we saw that coming. What we didn’t see was that he wouldn’t strike out to start the season until his 52nd plate appearance. Freddie Freeman is hot. He has continued his torrid pace from last year. But did anyone expect him to 3rd in the majors in batting average, 2nd in on-base percentage and 1st in slugging?

Both B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla are barely hitting over the Mendoza line, .208 and .234 respectively, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. In B.J.’s last 10 games he is hitting .256 with 3 extra base hits and 8 runs, 3 SBs and 6 walks. Dan Uggla’s last 10 games he has hit .243 with 3 extra base hits with 7 RBI and 4 walks. That doesn’t mean that we should start their All-Star campaigns but it is a far cry from where they were last season.

After losing Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen before the season started and Mike Minor for the first 3 weeks of the season who would have believed that the Braves would lead all of baseball in starter’s ERA with a 1.54. The Braves starters have thrown the 3rd most innings and also have the most complete games with 2 so far.

Ervin Santana and Julio Teheran have lead this team’s staff and the rest have followed suit. Julio Teheran pitched a complete game 3-hit shutout at Citizen’s Bank Park. The first time an opposing pitcher has done so against the Phillies. Ervin Santana started his Braves career by throwing 20 consecutive strikes to start the ballgame.

Freddie Garcia was swapped out with Aaron Harang just hours after he was let go by the Indians. And Harang has only put up an ERA of 0.70 and pitched over 25 innings in his 4 starts. He has twice carried a no-hitter into the 7th inning.

The Braves are right where they want to be: Leading the NL East and are getting healthier all the time. Mike Minor is expected to make is Braves debut later this week. Gavin Floyd is about 2-3 weeks away from his debut as well. I haven’t heard much about Jonny Venters as he is not expected back until late May, early June.

By: John Wickham

Really what I would love to happen for the Falcons is that they stay put and either DE Jadeveon Clowney or OLB Khalil Mack fall into their lap and they race to the podium to hand in their card. I think both will most likely be picked before our spot though. I have the Falcons big board looking something like this:

1. DE, Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
2. OLB, Khalil Mack, Buffalo
3. OT, Greg Robinson, Auburn
4. OT, Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
5. OT, Taylor Lewan, Michigan
6. OLB, Anthony Barr, UCLA
7. OT, Zach Martin, Notre Dame
8. FS, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama
9. TE, Eric Ebron, UNC

So what I wish would happen is that the Falcons would trade down to in the area of 10-12 and pick up the other team’s 2nd/3rd round pick and get their 4th rounder as well. And for me, I would take OT Zach Martin at the pick I traded down for so pick 10-12. Then I would use my 2nd round pick and probably my own 4th round pick to move up and take the best available pass rusher. According to the NFL Draft trade chart the Falcons 2nd round pick is worth 530 points and the 4th round pick is worth 104 points. That should get the Falcons to the 25th pick in the 1st round and would be a difference of about 86 points and the point differential would lessen the later they decided to trade back. Guys like Jeremiah Attaochu, Dee Ford, Kony Ealy, and Demarcus Lawrence come to mind for the pass rusher. If the Falcons believed that one of theses guys will make it to their 2nd round pick, 37th overall, then sure they could sit back and take whichever one was available, but I think we need to go out and get the guy we want. That would still leave us with the 2nd/3rd round we picked up in the trade back and the Falcons original 3rd rounder, along with the other teams 4th rounder and with the 4th round compensatory pick. The Falcons could still get a FS, TE, RB, LB, WR, OL, FB with their remaining picks.

But more than likely the Falcons will not trade down with their 6th overall pick. In Thomas Dimitroff’s previous drafts he has not really done so. I think it is more likely we see a trade up than a trade down. It doesn’t necessarily have to be at the beginning of the 1st round. I see it more likely happening with our 2nd round pick into the late 1st round and get a guy that we either really like or that has fallen.

By: John Wickham

According to ESPN Reporter Vaughn McClure, who covers the Atlanta Falcons, OT Jake Matthews, DE Jadeveon Clowney and OLB Khalil Mack are all set to make the trip to Flowery Branch and spend some time with the Atlanta Falcons.

And according to Zack Klein, the Sports Director for WSB-Atlanta, OT Greg Robinson will visit with the Falcons tomorrow.

I think one of these four young men will be the Falcons pick come May 8th. The Falcons may have to move up to get the one they want but I firmly believe at least one of them will be available at their pick if they stay put.

Originally posted on The Fields of Green:

(Credit: Larry Busacca/Getty)

(Credit: Larry Busacca/Getty)

The Atlanta Hawks’ ownership just scored a big win.

Turner Entertainment Network’s president and entertainment chief Steve Koonin was named CEO and minority owner of the Atlanta Hawks last weekend and will commandeer all business, financial and strategic operations of the Hawks and Philips Arena.

As the former president of Turner Entertainment, Koonin oversaw cable networks TNT, TBS, and TruTV. Prior to Turner, Koonin was a top executive at Coca-Cola overseeing sports and entertainment marketing among his many responsibilities.

Bruce Levenson will remain the Hawk’s controlling owner with Koonin serving as the team’s lead executive. Bob Williams will remain with the organization to operate Philips Arena while Danny Ferry will remain president of basketball operations and general manager.

Hawks’ Rocky Ownership

By 2005, Time Warner had sold the Hawks to the Atlanta Spirit LLC ownership group— a collection of executives located both in Atlanta and Washington DC.  The deal also included the…

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Originally posted on Atlanta Falcons blog:

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The Atlanta Falcons are not playing around.

Next week is a big as the Falcons finalize their board for the NFL draft, which will be held May 8-10. This will be the “grit and toughness” draft. Don’t look for them to deviate on character. They will stay close to normal methods of drafting players with degrees, former team captains and individuals with high football IQ’s.

The Falcons start offseason conditioning on Monday. We’ll have some media access on Tuesday.

Also, several of the top prospects including UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack are scheduled to visit Flowery Branch next week.

The Falcons have also been connected to all of the top tackles in the draft in Auburn’s Greg Robinson, Texas A&M Jake Matthews and Michigan’s Taylor Lewan.

It’s pretty clear that they are going either edge rusher or offensive tackle in the first round of…

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Originally posted on For The Win:

To gear up for the NBA playoffs, the  For the Win  staff is sharing our favorite things about all of the teams that made the postseason. Up next, the Atlanta Hawks.

1. The team got rid of a ton of contracts, and got in a better situation as a result

So long Joe Johnson. Goodbye Josh Smith.

The Atlanta Hawks went into this season a lot lighter in the contract department after taking the last two offseasons to offload Johnson and Smith for expiring contracts and draft picks. Everyone thought their team would take a tumble. They did…but still managed to stay relevant.

Josh Smith and Joe Johnson on their new teams. (Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

Josh Smith and Joe Johnson on their new teams. (Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

They added Paul Millsap at a very friendly contract, picked up some shooters and cap-friendly veterans, and somehow this team managed to make the playoffs. They got nice contributions from Jeff Teague and Elton Brand…

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Originally posted on Nose Bleed Network:

For the first 8 innings of Thursday’s game, the score between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Atlanta Braves was 0-0, until Ben Revere stepped up to the plate. The outfielder got an RBI bringing home  Dominic Brown, who was in scoring position when the hit was made, to make the score 1-0.

A.J. Burnett tossed three-hit ball over seven innings to outpitch Alex Wood (2-2). Atlanta’s Julio Teheran beat Cliff Lee 1-0 less than 24 hours earlier.

Antonio Bastardo (2-1) worked the eighth and Jonathan Papelbon finished off the four-hitter with a perfect ninth for his fourth save in five tries.

Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg successfully challenged a call in the fifth inning when Andrelton Simmons was ruled out trying to steal second base. Simmons overslid the bag on a headfirst dive, and reached back to touch the base as shortstop Jimmy Rollins lunged to tag him. The replay showed…

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Originally posted on Hang Time Blog with Sekou Smith | NBA.com:

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com

[nba-video vid=channels/nba_tv/2014/04/13/20140412-arenalink-jeff-teague.nba]
VIDEO:Jeff Teague talks about the Hawks clinching a playoff berth

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – The Atlanta Hawks are the only playoff team that finished below .500. The Indiana Pacers basically led the Eastern Conference from start to finish. So there shouldn’t be much intrigue in this 1-8 series.

But the Pacers been rather mediocre over the last two months, struggling on both ends of the floor against good teams. And the Hawks have played Indiana rather well. In fact, no Eastern Conference team has scored more efficiently against the league’s No. 1 defense.

Here are some statistical notes to get you ready for Hawks-Pacers, with links to let you dive in and explore more.

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

Indiana…

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Originally posted on CBS Atlanta:

Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith joins Jason and Randy to discuss the current state of the Falcons.

He discussed the upcoming NFL Draft and what the Falcons need to get back to the playoffs.

When asked “if he feels it’s a make or break season for him” Coach Smith answered, “every season is a make or break season”.

He also spoke on the evaluation process of some of the players available in this 2014 NFL Draft, and his upcoming golf tournament he’s involved in.

[cbs-audio url="  http://cbsatlanta.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/coach-mike-smith-4-15-14.mp3" size="normal" download="false" name="Jason & Randy With Mike Smith" artist="92-9 The Game"]

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Originally posted on From VA to the show:

I thought this might happen. Braves OF Justin Upton (Chesapeake) was named NL player of the week for the week ending April 13. Upton hit .591 with 4 homers and 8 runs scored, tops in baseball, and his 8 RBIs were third in baseball.

Upton went 1-15 to start the season, but this hot streak has sent his batting average soaring nearly 300 points, to now .386. His batting average has increased in four straight games.

This player of the week award is Upton’s third career honor.

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