The Falcons? 6 Wins?? Really???

I think the Falcons will win 6 games. Forget about the journalistic strategy of building suspense throughout the article, and climaxing toward the end. I’m putting it out front.

Why, you say, will the Falcons win 6 games? I’ll tell you. The team is not that bad. These guys looked bad last year because they were playing for a gigantic dickhead. Some of the stories that have come out of the locker room in the aftermath of the Bobby Petrino debacle make one wonder how the team didn’t cut his (undoubtedly tiny) penis off and shove it down his throat. Oh, and they were a walking Inside Edition episode, thanks to Mike Vick’s dumb ass. So yeah, they looked bad last year. But this year, it’s a whole different story.

The Falcons like their coach this year. The Falcons don’t have PETA picketing in front of their headquarters this year. The Falcons don’t have Joey Harrington starting this year (some may say Ryan isn’t much better, but he’s better). Yeah–this year, it’s a whole different story.
And you may not have noticed, but the bumbling Falcons have actually had some decent drafts the last few years. Just this year, they drafted guys to fill all kinds of holes at QB, Offensive Line, and throughout the Defense. Maybe the new regime knows what the hell they’re doing.

But anyway, back to my crazy prediction: the Falcons aren’t that bad. Everyone just thinks they are because they’re using 2007 as a frame of reference. I would argue that is not an accurate body of work to base a 2008 prediction on.

I could sit here and go through the schedule to decide which games the Falcons will win, but that’s impossible. We have no idea how teams are going to perform this year. Sure, the Patriots will probably be good. And so will the Cowboys. But beyond that, who knows? Larry Johnson was everyone’s #1 pick in fantasy drafts, and then he proceeded to take an actual shit on the football field all year long. No one picked Green Bay to do anything, and they made it to the NFC Championship (and almost the Super Bowl). There is almost no bigger crapshoot in sports than the NFL.

So, that’s my prediction. Some people may not even say it’s that crazy of a prediction. Other people may say that I’m an idiot. Actually, many people probably say that, and not just because of this. But either way, I think the Falcons will win 6 games. I don’t think Matt Ryan is going to make the Pro Bowl, but I think he will in the next few years. I don’t think Michael Turner is going to win the league MVP, but he’ll rush for 1,000 yards. I don’t think Roddy White will have quite as good of a season this year as he did last year, but I think he won’t have to because he has more talent around him now in his fellow receivers.

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Kanye West Doesn’t Care About White People

I’m a pretty fortunate person–in February, I sold my house for just under the asking price in the worst housing market in years, and just yesterday I sold my V8, 15 mpg truck for Kelley Blue Book value during the highest gas prices in history. Continuing that good fortune, my wife scored free tickets to Bonnaroo through her job, including backstage passes (to every stage except the main stage), a free hotel, and free shuttle rides to and from the concert. Yeah, I didn’t get the whole hippie-in-a-tent experience, but whatever. I’ve never been known for roughing it–the first time I ever went camping, I forgot my sleeping bag and underwear. So, you could say I’m not really cut out for that kind of life.

Over the past 24 hours, a lot of my friends and family have been asking how the experience was, so instead of repeating the same story 1,000 times, I thought I’d just write about it here.

Friday – Willie Nelson Still Looks Old
We got to the hotel Friday afternoon, where the person in charge gave us our passes and explained what kind of access/amenities those passes came with. She was a Bonnaroo veteran, and said trendy Bonnaroo things like “gen pop” and “yeah, like, her music is really revolutionary.” I was confused.

We boarded the shuttle and headed on our way. People were discussing who they wanted to see the most, and I said, among others, Donovan Frankenreiter. Someone asked if he invented the hot dog. These people gave me free Bonnaroo VIP tickets, so I won’t criticize their comedic talents.

We got to Bonnaroo, and were whisked to the Artist’s Tent where all the artists go to hang out in the lounge, or grab dinner in the mess hall, or get free merchandise from any of the vendors’ tents set up back there. The first celebrities I saw were comedians Brian Posehn and Zack Galifianakis. As the young kids say, “meh.”

We headed onto Which Stage (the various venues within Bonnaroo are titled What Stage, Which Stage, This Tent, That Tent, the Other Tent, etc…you know, because dumb hippies with a minimum of 7 lbs of marijuana in their systems aren’t impaired enough) to see Willie Nelson (speaking of dumb hippies). There were roughly 37 people on stage with him, 4 of which were physically propping him up, like “Weekend at Bernie’s.” But he was good nonetheless, and played a lot of his classics, which the crowd wanted to hear. After that, we saw Chris Rock, who was just hilarious. Really, really funny. I wasn’t sure how he would mix with the crowd given their general demographic (I think he was the only black person I saw all weekend), but he was great. Some of his best jokes were (and I’m paraphrasing, here):

“Could Barack Obama’s name sound any more black? He shouldn’t be running for president, he should be the bassist for The Commodores…and one of those black as fuckin’ night guys, too…not the light skinned motherfuckers!”

And,

“Why are gas prices so high? Let me get this right–we invade countries with shitloads of oil, and gas prices skyrocket??? I’ll tell you this: if I invade IHOP, pancakes are gonna be cheap as shit in my house.”

Good stuff, and the crowd loved it. Shortly thereafter, Metallica went on. They were really loud. Good, but loud. Then, My Morning Jacket followed them, and the skies opened up. It was flood-level rain. MMJ performed really well–lots of energy and enthusiasm–but Jim Jones’ voice sounded like shit. I have tickets to see them in Atlanta in August–I hope Jones’ voice sounds better then. Afterward, we went back to the hotel, showered, and slept.

Saturday – More Sweaty, Hairy, Naked Hippies
The next morning I noticed there was a Great Clips next to our hotel, and I needed a hair cut. While I was waiting, the barbers were discussing Bonnaroo, and who was headlining. None of them could think of a single act, until someone said “Yeah, I think that band ZZ Top is the headliner.” And another concurred “Yeah, yeah, that’s right…ZZ Top. I ain’t goin’ out there with no damn smelly hippies to watch no damn ZZ Top.” I just kept my mouth shut, and thanked every deity I could think of for ZZ Top not actually headlining Bonnaroo. I fucking hate ZZ Top.

We headed back out to the farm a little after noon, and caught Donovan Frankenreiter on one of the smaller stages. As I mentioned before, he was one of the main guys I wanted to see, so this was a great show. He and his band did a phenomenal job, and sounded great. We got backstage, and were able to watch the concert from there. That was cool–cooler than I thought it would be. Afterward, I corralled a completely stoned Frankenreiter for a picture, and he obliged. Cool! I told my wife I could’ve gone home at that point and considered the weekend a success. Little did I know–we had a pretty big night ahead of us…

Our plan was to watch the following bands Saturday afternoon/evening:

BB King
Iron & Wine
Ben Folds
Jack Johnson
Pearl Jam
Kanye West

This was going to take some deft manuevering and strategizing, given that

a) some of these bands were playing at the same time
b) we hadn’t eaten since breakfast
c) we didn’t have a map
d) Kanye West wasn’t playing until 2:45am

But we soldiered on. We first went to see BB King. PHENOMENAL. He put on a great show, with great music and really entertaining storytelling. He’s 82 years old, so of course he’s not what he used to be–but his band is one of the best I’ve ever heard. Very talented musicians.

From there we caught a brief glimpse of Ben Folds…glad it was only a glimpse, from what I heard. I spoke with someone who had been to at least 10 Ben Folds shows, and she said it was one of the worst she’d seen. He apparently didn’t sound so great, and didn’t play many of his recognizable songs. I’m sure some people get tired of hearing his hits, but his most recent album sucked ass…so I wanted more of the older tunes. Oh well. Iron & Wine was too far away from where we were, and we missed him. It’s probably better we didn’t catch him. That guy is the most mellow singer I’ve ever heard, and mixing him with all the pot in the air probably caused everyone to fall asleep.

We were then whisked to the Yahoo! tour bus (Yahoo! gave us the tickets, which is why I feel inclined to include the exclamation point), where it was rumored that we would be able to get up close and personal with Jack Johnson and Pearl Jam for the evening. This was a big deal, because since there wasn’t much else happening Saturday evening, almost all of the 80,000 people were at the main stage already, and had been since earlier in the day. So it would be difficult for us to get a good spot that late in the day without some preferential treatment.

While waiting at the Yahoo! bus, someone in the group asked if I was a hockey fan. At that very moment, Sean Avery drove by us on a golf cart…I’m not kidding. I couldn’t make this up. Supposedly, many of the NY Rangers had chartered a bus to Bonnaroo, and it was parked next to the Yahoo! bus. He waved to us. I asked him not to beat the fuck out of me.

Soon enough, some head honcho with Bonnaroo was herding us like cattle to a special spot in front of the stage, in front of all of the campers. I felt bad because these guys had sweated and slept through days of heat for their spots, and here we were waltzing in 15 minutes before the show with a better view than them. I got over it soon enough, though.

Jack Johnson came on and performed an excellent set. I had never seen him in concert before, and didn’t consider myself a huge fan, but he was great…I consider a performance to be awesome if it convinces me to go home and download more music by that artist; and that was the case with Jack Johnson (and many others I saw this weekend).

We were told that the Bonnaroo Honcho would have to corral us out of the area between Jack Johnson and Pearl Jam’s sets because of all the setup that needed to occur. So, we walked backstage again after Jack’s concert and waited. Soon enough, Johnson was walking right next to me, so my wife snapped a picture. Good story, though (well, at least to me): He was getting harassed by people to sign autographs, take multiple pictures, meet and greet, etc. I could tell he was being really nice, but was also really tired and probably growing weary of the whole thing. So, not feeling sympathetic enough to just leave him alone as I should have, we had the following conversation:

Me: Hey Jack, walk and smile while my wife takes a picture?
Jack: Hey dude, yeah. Walk and smile. I like that. I’m gonna use that from now on. Cool?
Me: Wha….huh? Sorry, I just got lost in your eyes.

Okay, so the last line didn’t happen…I actually just said “yeah man, cool” and then my wife took the picture. So, in our brief interaction, I can say he seemed like a cool dude. Very laid back, which is what everyone says about his music. And I’m not posting the photo because if I revealed who I am on my sports blog, I might get fired (Please see Exhibit A). I guess since I’m reluctant to “come out” to the blogosphere, I now know what gay people feel like…well, minus the whole sex-in-the-butt thing.

While we waited to be herded back to the front for Pearl Jam, my wife squeezed my arm with strength that I didn’t know she had. She whispered, “OLSEN TWINS…OLSEN TWINS…HONEY…HOLY SHIT…OLSEN TWINS” Sure enough, there were the Olsen twins standing three feet away from me. They looked very waifish and drugged out…and had the whole “grunge look” (circa Seattle, 1991) going on. One had on a red flannel shirt, and the other a white shirt and a big black hat. Everyone around them was dressed the same, and all of the men had very scraggly hair and beards. They were all so alternative!

Then I saw Sean Avery again, and I put two and two together, remembering that I had read somewhere that he was dating one of the Olsen twins. My wife wanted me to take a picture of her with them, but everyone around us was saying that they got pissed earlier when someone asked to take a picture with them, and that for the sake of my wife’s job, she probably shouldn’t do it. Me, I just pictured Avery punching me in the face and taking my camera. My wife was trashed at this point, so she would not be denied. She stole the camera from me, walked about 10 feet away from the Olsens, and pretended to take a picture of the backstage, instead taking a picture of the Olsens from behind. At this moment she’s still employed. (In the picture to your right, one is in the red flannel shirt, and the other is on the right in the white shirt and black hat).

The Olsens and their grungy entourage were allowed on stage with Pearl Jam (not actually on stage, but right off to the side). We were taken to the same spot where we watched Jack Johnson. (In the picture below, one of the Olsens (not sure which one) is in the white shirt and black hat).

I consider myself a “fan” of Pearl Jam…not like a card-carrying member of their fan club or anything, but a fan. I have all their songs, and like most of them. Some I like a lot (Corduroy, Hail Hail, Rearviewmirror), and some I like a little. Well, consider me a fan of Pearl Jam now. When you go to a concert, you want to feel like you got your money’s worth. Now, when you didn’t pay any money for the tickets, “getting your money’s worth” becomes a figure of speech, loosely meaning that you want the band to earn their money; to seem like they want to be there; to give their all, to put everything into that one show that one night. Pearl Jam did that Saturday night.

They were supposed to play for two hours and played for three…in a time where most headliners play for an hour and a half tops, that’s a lot. By the end of the show they had played all their hits, and they were drenched in sweat. Eddie spent too much time being political, but that’s just Eddie…comes with the territory these days. Even still, it was a positive political bent…a lot of “we’ve all come together tonight for a wonderful peaceful thing, and we can make change in this world in the same way” type talk. I almost didn’t want Kanye West to even perform afterward, because anyone following Pearl Jam would’ve been a letdown.

Well, you could say Kanye was a letdown. Here’s the rumored chronology of events that transpired to put Kanye in the 2:45am time slot. He was scheduled to perform Saturday evening on the Which Stage, which is the second-biggest stage after the main stage, the What Stage. Rumor has it that he (or, more accurately, his ego) was pissed that he wasn’t on the main stage, so he bitched and moaned until they moved him to the main stage. The only problem was that the main stage was already full in the evening. So the only time they could put him on the main stage was 2:45am.

We had every intention of staying until 2:45, because we had heard that Kanye’s show was supposed to be quite entertaining–something about glow in the dark, or something…I don’t know. My wife wasn’t feeling well (which is what happens when you drink 15 beers and don’t eat anything), so we had to leave after Pearl Jam had finished. The whole way home I was angry with her, because I wanted to stay for Kanye. Good thing we didn’t.

The next morning we saw some friends in the hotel lobby that stayed at the concert until 3:15. They said that at 2:45, Bonnaroo’s video boards stated that Kanye’s show was delayed until 3:15. At 3:15, they said it was delayed until 4:00. So, at 3:15, they gave up. He ended up going on at 4:15, shortly after the stage was pelted with glow sticks and everyone chanted, “Kanye sucks! Kanye sucks!” The guy really knows how to work a crowd.

On Sunday we packed up our things and went home. We both had to work Monday morning (should’ve taken the day off…now we know) and with the time zone change, we would’ve gotten home well after midnight if we stayed for the Sunday performances. We had seen plenty of music, though:

Willie Nelson
Chris Rock
Metallica
My Morning Jacket
Donavon Frankenreiter
Gogol Bordello
Ozomatli
BB King
Ben Folds
Jack Johnson
Pearl Jam

We had an amazing time, got some access we’ll probably never have again, and I got confirmation that years and years of waiting on the Olsen twins to become adults was a complete waste of time. But hey, Jack Johnson thinks I’m cool, so, you know, I got that going for me…which is nice.

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Q1 Earnings Report: Braves

Javy

Ha ha ha…it looks like they’re having sex.

I figure since we’re around the end of the 1st quarter of the season, it’s a good time to review what the Braves have done so far, and what they might do over the course of the summer.

Most sports fans have their favorite teams in the NBA, NFL, and MLB, and many even have their favorite of their favorites. For me, I’m a Braves guy through and through. The Hawks and Falcons are lagging pretty far behind, and have all my life. When the Falcons won the NFC Championship in 1998, I was ecstatic. When the Hawks won…well, they haven’t really won anything of significance. But when the Braves won the World Series in 1995, I almost blacked out. I might have shat myself. I’m not sure. Actually, yeah, I probably did. Consequently, when they suffered one postseason heartbreak after another, I died a little inside. During the 18-inning game vs. the Astros in 2005, my wife was legitimately concerned for my health. Seriously. So, yeah, I’m kind of a big fan. BUT, I also like to think of myself as objective. Read on and let me know what you think…

This season has been quite an interesting one for the Bravos. Some people picked them to finish third in the NL East, some picked them to finish first. Heck, some picked them to finish fourth. All along, I was confident that we would have the best pitching staff, top to bottom, in the league (call it an east coast bias…I guess I forgot about the DBacks). With Smoltz, Hudson, and Glavine in the rotation, along with Jair Jurrjens, who showed tons of promise in spring training, I thought we had a solid group there. The bullpen seemed strong, with Rafael Soriano closing, Peter Moylan setting him up, and a collection of more than capable arms behind them (with Mike Gonzalez set to rejoin the pen by mid-June). The lineup seemed strong as well. Escobar, Chipper, Teixeira, McCann, and Francoeur were destined to produce big numbers, with question marks Kotsay and Diaz and a passel of bench players.

Then, a lot of stuff happened. Hampton got hurt (please notice I didn’t even mention him above…I didn’t count on him for 1 inning pitched (okay, maybe 1 inning) and no one in the Braves brass really did either. So, no harm, no foul), Glavine got hurt, Smoltz got hurt. There goes 3/5ths of the starting rotation. Soriano got hurt, and Moylan is done for the season. There goes your closer and set-up man. Teixeira got off to a bad start, and Francoeur’s season, to date, has been wobbly at best.

However, Chipper is hitting like gangbusters (I always wanted to say that, even though I have no idea what it means), McCann is doing what he’s done in the past–and will do for the next 7-8 years, Escobar has been what he thought he would be, and Kotsay has been an upgrade over Andruw Jones. Jurrjens has been one of the best rookie pitchers in baseball, Hudson has been his usual self, and the bullpen has absolutely pitched out of their mind. Along the way, the Braves have accumulated the worst road record and 2nd-best home record in the bigs.

In my estimation, some of these trends will continue, and some won’t. Chipper won’t hit .400. We all know that. McCann will continue to do exactly what he’s doing now. He’s on pace for 25-30 HRs, around 100 RBIs, and just south of 200 hits. He’s had the third most ABs of any catcher in the game, so it is to be expected that he may not catch as many games down the stretch as he’d like–so those numbers may dip a little. But he’ll be in that ballpark.

The pitching staff is patchwork at this point, but holding together pretty well. As mentioned above, Hampton and Smoltz are out. Still remaining are Hudson, Glavine, and Jurrjens, with Jo-Jo Reyes, Chuck James, Jeff Bennett, and Jorge Campillo filling in the other holes. Chuckie (I hate when people call him that) needs some more work, so I hope to see him in Richmond until we absolutely need him again. Campillo looked like Maddux last night, but of course I don’t expect that to continue (at least not that well). Jo-Jo is beginning to show us why the Braves braintrust held him in such high regard for the last couple of years, and Jeff Bennett has done anything the team has asked of him (starting on literally 5 minutes notice, closing, long relief, set-up, etc). The bullpen will be bolstered over the next few weeks by the return of Soriano, Gonzalez, and perhaps the addition of Smoltz.

TeixeiraI think the Braves will take the East. Why, you ask? Because Mark Teixeira is about to explode. It has been well documented that he starts slowly each season. It has also been well documented that he catches fire in late May, and stays hot through the end of the season. Well, it’s late May, and he has been hitting the ball pretty well the last couple of games. That would make it even more difficult for teams to pitch to Chipper Jones (and at this point, it’s almost unfair how well he’s hitting), and would provide another steady bat in the middle of the lineup that the Braves sorely need.

As for their chances in the postseason, that’s anyone’s guess. As evidenced by how much upheaval we’ve seen in the first two months, so many things can happen between now and October. I just want to get there again, and have the opportunity to soil my boxers. Yes, you read that right.

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It’s Not Too Early, Is It? College Football Quick Hit

The AJC’s Tony Barnhart has posted his pre-season Top 10. He’s got UGA at #1, which I am a big fan of, obviously. Here’s my point, though. If UGA makes it through their 2008 schedule undefeated, they have to be #1, right? Right? I don’t see how they couldn’t. Sure, the USC vs. Ohio State winner could make a strong case for the top spot, but even with each other on their schedules, they don’t have as tough of a run as Georgia does.

I think it’s interesting that people (like Barnhart) are putting Matt Stafford in Tim Tebow’s league. I don’t think Stafford is in the same ballpark yet. Tebow is an other-worldly QB, and has achieved that title with arguably less talent around him. However, I do think that Stafford will get there…maybe even this year. He’s just not there yet.

Oh, the Braves won 6 in a row. I am continually amazed at how little pub they’re getting, given the injuries they’ve faced. Thinkabout it: 3 of their 5 starting pitchers have been (or still are) on the DL: Smoltz, Glavine, and Hampton. In addition, their set-up man and closer are also injured (Moylan is out for the year, and heck, Soriano could be too). It’s absolutely unbelievable that they’ve been able to do as well as they have over this last stretch of games. Kudos to the players left standing, to Bobby Cox, and to Frank Wren. I never believed the “You can never have enough pitching” edict–well, at least the extreme version of it. But the 2008 Braves are a perfect example of how wrong I am. Wow.

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The Obligatory “Atlanta Is A Bad Sports Town” Post

Philips ArenaAccept it, folks: Atlanta has developed quite the reputation of a bad sports town. Detractors tout our low attendance numbers at Braves home playoff games, our fair-weather Falcons following, and the number of fans wearing empty-seat costumes at Hawks and Thrashers games. As a lifelong Atlanta sports fan, this is quite troubling.

As far as excuses go, there are the usual suspects. One common excuse: there are too many transients. If you were to walk down Peachtree (any of the 279 variations) and randomly ask people where they’re from, I guarantee the vast majority would say somewhere other than Atlanta. While the plethora of transients lends credence to the fact that Atlanta is a wonderful city to live in, it also turns the Dome into Heinz Field South for a Falcons-Steelers game. This is why the four sports franchises’ attendance numbers are in the middle of the pack of their respective leagues; they get decent attendance, it’s just not always the kind that roots for the home team.

But there are other reasons; either you or your parents can probably remember when there were no professional sports franchises in Atlanta. The Braves and Falcons were both “born” in 1966; the Hawks arrived soon after in 1968, and the Thrashers came to life just 8 years ago. These franchises are babies compared to many other cities, where their teams have been around for over 100 years, and where the allegiance to them has been passed down from generation to generation.

College football shares some of the same blame as well. If you have ever tried to patronize a business below the Mason-Dixon Line on a fall Saturday, you were probably greeted by numerous “Sorry, We’re Closed” signs. That’s because in the South, all other sports finish a distant second to college football.

Finally, one of the most obvious (yet rarely discussed) reasons is the overall lack of success of the teams. In their relatively short history, the Falcons have racked up 20 double-digit loss seasons (not just 20 losing seasons, but 20 double-digit loss seasons)! The Hawks had the longest playoff drought in the NBA until 3 weeks ago. The Thrashers had the longest playoff drought in the NHL before making the playoffs in 2006-2007 (and getting swept by the Rangers, which was quickly followed up by one of the worst seasons in franchise history this past year). The Braves are in much better shape, given their unprecedented run from 1991-2005, but that followed a horrendous stretch where they were the laughingstock of baseball (and are still derided for their “Buffalo Bills-esque” performance in the postseason).

So who-or what-is to blame? The carpetbaggers at least make our attendance numbers decent. We can’t change how young the franchises are. College football certainly isn’t going anywhere. Therefore, the blame invariably falls on the franchises themselves. Given their collective track record for failure, I don’t see this changing anytime soon.

But hey, at least we’ve got the WNBA’s newest franchise, the Atlanta Dream!! LET’S GO DREAM!! LET’S GO DREAM!! LET’S GO DREAM!! LET’S GO DREAM!!

Fuck…why do I feel like I need to take a shower now?

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John Kincade On: 87% Paycuts, Rebuffing Bristol, and General Hospital

John Kincade, co-host of 680 The Fan’s afternoon drive show “Buck & Kincade,” and host of ESPN Radio’s “The John Kincade Show,” was kind enough to answer some questions from me, a long-time listener and infrequent blogger. Although I was most interested in hearing about 80′s sitcom TV moms, I think his assessment of Atlanta sports fans is dead on, as is his metaphor of bloggers as perceived “wedding crashers.” Oh, and no truth to the rumor that I begged for him to give me Buck Belue’s (his co-host, and QB of the 1980 National Champion Georgia Bulldogs) home address, given that I’m a UGA grad and that “Lindsay Scott!! Lindsay Scott!! Lindsay Scott!!” is one of my first memories as a child.

Enjoy…

Atlanta Sports Fan: How did you get started in sports talk radio? What’s been your proudest achievement in this business?

John Kincade: While working for the Philadelphia Flyers and coach Mike Keenan in the mid-80s while a student at Temple University, I was asked by WCAU radio in Philadelphia to be their “Flyers Insider” during the playoff run. I was studying broadcasting at Temple, but thought I wanted to be an NHL coach. This was a good way for me to experience the broadcast business, which was a passion, and to talk about something that I loved–hockey! After one playoff year, Sportsradio 610 WIP caught my work and started to use me in small spots that got bigger as hosts like Angelo Cataldi enjoyed my work. I relocated to Atlanta in 1995 for what was supposed to be a short stay of a few years for business. I started working at the original 680 The Fan on the weekends, then 790 The Zone in the same capacity. In 1999 I “retired” from the business world and pursued radio full time. I took an 87% pay cut to do it! I did Thrashers radio broadcasts with Ferrell and Kamal and hosted a weekend radio show with Mike Bell and Julie Ionni. The next summer 680 The Fan was being reborn, and they hired me to be a co-host for the afternoon drive show.

ASF: How have you and Buck developed the chemistry required to stick together for 7-8 years? That’s unheard of in sports talk radio–especially in Atlanta. Do you guys ever get tired of each other?

JK: Buck’s answer may be different than mine! All kidding aside, of course we get tired of each other from time to time. You have great days, tense days, but rarely awful days. This is a very passionate buisness and the job is very close quarters. You are reliant on each other for mutual success. Buck and I both understand this from our time in team sports–you have to work together. And I have a saying: sometimes it’s the Buck Show, when we are at a big college football weekend. Sometimes it’s the Kincade Show, when we have a real breaking-news/controversial topic. Many days it’s the collaborative Buck and Kincade Show. Both of us know when the other is going to “drive the bus” a little more that day. We celebrate 8 years in afternoon drive on Labor Day and the show has never been more successful. Chemistry is not created, though; it just happens. Credit Mike Thompson (our first boss) for seeing the two of us independently and realizing it could be a hit!

ASF: You’ve been in Atlanta for some time now, and it seems you’re here to stay (much to the dismay of the “Get At Kincade” callers). What is it about Atlanta that has kept you here, other than gainful employment? Would you leave if ESPN came calling for full time duty?

JK: ESPN has called for full time duty in the past few years. The position was not one that would have been worth uprooting the family for. My wife and 4 year old daughter love Atlanta as much as I do. It is a less stressful lifestyle, and the “gainful employment” allows us to live very nicely. It is much more than I could ever have imagined as I grew up. To get paid to talk about what I would be talking about anyway is just a huge bonus. Thankfully, I have a great local stage on 680 The Fan and ESPN has given me a spot on the national stage where I can live here in Atlanta. I am very honored to do my own show nationally and to fill in for Colin Cowherd a few weeks every year.

ASF: Describe Atlanta sports fans in 2-3 sentences.

JK: Atlanta’s college sports fans are some of the most knowledgeable and passionate that you will find anywhere in the country. Atlanta pro sports fans are fickle and inconsistent with their support and passion. Atlanta sports fans have a huge chip on their shoulder whenever teams from more successful cities are brought into the conversation.

ASF: Bob Costas’s HBO Town Hall Meeting – going into it, were you optimistic that there would be intelligent discourse, or were you afraid that it would turn into an assault on sports talk radio and bloggers? Did you think talk radio and bloggers were treated fairly?

JK: I did not have high expectations. When I saw that Mike Tirico and Dan Patrick were going to be the representatives for sports talk radio I knew that the topic was in trouble. I respect Dan and Mike and their place in the sports industry immensely. What they do in sports radio is far different though than what your local drive time hosts do every day. They are national, well connected, friends or at least acquaintances with almost every guest they interview. It changes how you do the job. What they do is very informative and interesting. You rarely get strong opinions and criticisms, especially of their peers. Just look at the major radio markets,–the consumers of the product almost uniformly choose to hear from their local favorites over the national hosts.

I think that the bloggers were made out to be “wedding crashers,” and people whose opinions don’t deserve to be heard. I disagree. I have publicly stated that I don’t think bloggers deserve press box and locker room access. Bloggers don’t have the professional responsibility that I have to my employers and the advertisers. I have to keep things at a professional level. They can sling whatever they want without ramifications. That said, I want bloggers to have their voices heard just as I want mine heard. People can choose for themselves what they prefer. I don’t need Bob Costas to tell me what is acceptable or “good.”

ASF: What do you think is the most positive thing that sports talk radio can contribute?

JK: It is a voice for the fans. It is a chance to enjoy the conversation, debate, and discourse on their favorite teams and breaking sports news. It is immediate. It is topical. When done right you can entertain while including strong opinions and criticism. I always say that we are just guys with an opinion and a radio show. I am not that much different than the listener EXCEPT for my access to the coaches, athletes and fellow media members.

ASF: Do you read any sports blogs? If so, which ones, and how often–besides my blog, which you read daily, of course…

JK: I find many blogs, like yours and some of the AJC blogs, very interesting. I like hearing another opinion. It gives me more ways to think as I try to articulate my own opinion. Sometimes I even get swayed a bit by a passionate argument. I do find that many bloggers comment about coaches, GMs, players and what they are doing and thinking. I wonder, how are they coming to that conclusion when they don’t know these people at all?

ASF: Many people say “if you don’t like the TV show, change the channel.” However, because of ESPN’s gigantic reach, you almost can’t do that if you want to watch sports news/coverage. I realize you don’t want to bite the hand that feeds you, but is that dangerous? Is ESPN too big?

JK: In my opinion, ESPN is big because they do it better than their competition. If they were not serving the audience, the ratings and revenues would sink. Are there things about ESPN that I would change? Absolutely! I like my Sportscenter to be the way it was in the 80s and early 90s. I don’t need all the opinion segments and debate. I like the sports news, highlights and features. If other networks picked up their game a little, they may carve out a nice little niche for themselves. It is fashionable to bash ESPN, yet no one has a formula to beat them.

ASF: You’ve been critical of the local teams in the past when they haven’t been accessible to the media. You mentioned on Tuesday that the new Falcons’ regime has been more available to the local media. Do you think this is sincere, and will continue, or is it a PR move? What’s your impression of the new guys (GM Thomas Dimitroff and Head Coach Mike Smith) after dealing with them one on one?

JK: I think the Falcons have realized that they need to be friendlier to the people that give them free exposure. They got rid of their ridiculous association with 790 The Zone as the “official” sports talk station this year. The Falcons had more of their fans and a great number more of listeners consuming 680 The Fan and they made the move. I think this will last.

Dimitroff and Smith are both first-class gentlemen. We will see what kind of football executives they are over time.

ASF: Which was the funnier 680 The Fan/Max Howell bit – when he tried to repeat Dikembe Mutombo’s full (9 words long) name, or when he tried to rap an Eminem song? Do you ever hear from him these days? (For those who have never heard of him, Max Howell is a radio host (syndicated in some markets) originally from Prattville, Alabama with a very deep southern accent. He was a part of the midday program on 680 The Fan 4-5 years ago).

JK: I think Max trying to read the Thrashers roster was still the funniest bit ever. Max rapping is in a class all by itself. Max is one of the greatest influences on my career. He taught me that I better embrace what the locals embrace if I want to be successful. I did not have to be a fan of any team or player, but I better be talking about what THE FANS want to hear. Max is one of those guys that you think on the surface is just a laid back good old boy and then you reflect and you understand he is as sharp as any Madison Avenue executive–he just does not feel the need to let you know that.

ASF: Do you have any regrets about not pursuing your hockey coaching career further? And is Mike Keenan as much of a jerk as he seems?

JK: Mike Keenan is one of the greatest personal influencers in my life. I started to work for Mike at the age of 19 as a college student. I wanted to be a hockey coach. He took me under his wing, worked me ungodly amounts of hours and took the time to help me out in so many ways. My dad had died a few years earlier and Mike was never warm and fuzzy, but he was a great Father figure. Keenan is a genius and is very misunderstood.

I enjoyed my time coaching at the high school, club and collegiate levels. I really did want to coach an NHL team. I just got side tracked on my way as I did not want to ride buses in the minors for low pay and do that struggling that it takes to succeed. I was willing to do that for a radio career and did. I guess that it was not my prime passion after all!

ASF: As a Temple grad, what’s your opinion on John Chaney? Like, love, loathe, tolerate?

JK: John Chaney in his early years at Temple was outstanding. In his later years I found him to be an embarrassment. He got too powerful and nobody could control him. He got bigger than the program and I am glad that he moved on. He is still a great coach, but needed to leave.

ASF: You’ve interviewed a ton of sports celebrities during your time at 680 The Fan. Who was the best interview you’ve ever done? The worst?

JK: The worst was one of the tennis playing twins from Georgia. I criticized him for oversleeping for a match and he hung up on me, saying I was being unfair. The best interview may have been my on-air debate with Stuart Scott (ASF – this was great. Stuart Scott actually said “I’m not one of those guys who jock sniffs.”) or Governor Sonny Perdue. I questioned the professionalism of Scott for getting too close to the athletes he covers. He took great offense. I also told the Governor that I felt he had better things to worry about than UGA football headlines. He disagreed. I never shy away from speaking my mind.

ASF: A few years back, you told the story on your show of running into Meredith Baxter-Birney in Las Vegas. I also seem to remember a Judith Light encounter at some point as well. Just how many 80s TV moms do you interact with on a day-to-day basis, and which one is the hottest in person?

JK: I am a huge old TV fan, and have had the embarrassing guilty pleasure of being a General Hospital fan for years. I don’t see many 80s Moms around, but I do have a crush on Kelly Monaco from GH (ASF – Wow. Me too, John).

ASF: Will you ever forgive George O’Leary for snubbing you in a hotel lobby a few years back?

JK: Of course! I think that the karmic gods took care of George very nicely for me.

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W-O-W

SmithAbsolutely unbelievable.

We have a series, now? Are you kidding me? I can’t stop saying that to myself…are you kidding me?

I said before this series started that the Hawks had a chance to make some noise if they got on a hot streak, given that their streakiness has been their most defining characteristic this year. They’re on one now, that’s for sure. How did we get here?

Your Defensive Player of the Year, Kevin Garnett, has played like crap on the defensive end. The Hawks–whether it has been Josh Smith, Al Horford, or Zaza Pachulia–have dominated the middle on both ends of the floor. Garnett has largely been a non-factor (even in Games 1 & 2…Horford owned the paint in those games) defensively. Oh, and good move by Garnett to elbow Pachulia for no reason (a guy that wouldn’t back down to anyone, especially Garnett. Choose your battles carefully, KG. Remember Anthony Peeler?

Has Ray Allen always been just a jump shooter? I know that his jump shot is his specialty, but I thought there were other parts to his game…I guess not, though. Granted, he hit numerous daggers throughout Game 4, but the Celtics need some more slashers to weaken and wear down the Hawks in the middle. And it’d be nice for Boston if Ray played defense, too. Oh, and Paul Pierce–where was he, exactly? As I said on The Big Lead before Game 4 started, if I had a dollar for every person that said “Paul Pierce is gonna go off for 40 tonight” because Al Horford talked trash to him in Game 3, I would be able to retire very early. Kirk Herbstreit guaranteed today on Tirico’s show that Pierce would go for 30+. As I also said on TBL before the game, I don’t think Pierce is the kind of guy that would get motivated by something like that…it’s not in his makeup. Garnett might be that type of person – he’s a little more emotional…but not Pierce.

I said in my previous post (see below) that Bibby needed to score more, and that Johnson had to take over. Both of those things happened. Before you say anything, I realize both of those points seem obvious. But Joe Johnson is this team’s leader; he has been all year long. And at times like this, the rest of the team needs to know that they’ve got that one guy to go to when the going gets tough. Joe wasn’t that guy through the first three games, but he was definitely that guy in Game 4.

Look, here’s the deal: the Hawks have evened the series at two games apiece. I never imagined I’d type the previous sentence. When they made the playoffs, my attitude was “Hey, I’m just happy to be here.” When they won a game, my attitude was “I’m just glad they played well and showed the world that they’re not as bad as they looked in Games 1 & 2.” Now that they’ve won 2 games??? That’s it. I’m all in, now. Don’t let me down, Hawks. Don’t let me down.

Get your sleep, Joe. You deserve it.

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