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Thank you AA: Braves show commitment with Shane Greene signing – BY DAN MATHEWS

Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Shane Greene (19) works against the Miami Marlins in the ninth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

May 10, 2021
680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – This Braves bullpen needs help! It’s not for ineffectiveness, but for the impending wall if they continued down their current path. 

The bullpen ERA is 4.56 and that has them 11th out of 15 teams in the National League. They’ve thrown over 125 innings of pitches through 34 games. Those numbers show this group needs help. 

The good news, is that you’re getting help on the way. You have to expect that Chris Martin will join this group soon. More importantly, you get a great option back in Shane Greene. 

The Braves signed Greene on Sunday to a one-year, prorated deal. He’s immediately heading to Triple-A Gwinnett, in order to get ready for a return to the major league club. 

You have to tip your hat to the job that Tyler Matzek, AJ Minter, Will Smith and the rest of this bullpen have done to this point. The truth is, they’re not good enough as currently constructed to help this team win the National League East and get back to the postseason. The numbers tell you that. 

Greene is a huge help to give this team a chance at getting back to the National League Championship Series. He was a key part of the team who made a run last season, with his 2.60 ERA in 28 appearances in 2020. Losing Mark Melancon hurt. Not having Greene around has proven to hurt them at times as well. 

This signing is every bit as strong as making a huge trade at the MLB deadline in July. It seems to come at a perfect time, as the Braves offense seems to be coming to form. 

The good news is that we’re approaching the middle of the second month of the season and you’re in striking distance of the NL East lead. You still have not played your best baseball. 

You’ve had some bright spots on this roster at times. Plus, you’ve had some players you’re counting on, who have yet to find their stride. 

It is refreshing to know that the commitment is there to make this team as competitive as possible in 2021. This will not be the last move needed, in order to make a strong push for a World Series title. 

It will be great to get Mike Soroka back for the months where you need to play your best baseball. If he’s Mike Soroka, that is like making another strong trade for this team. 

The fact that you’re not going to have Travis d’Arnaud around for much of the season, might make me interested in adding another strong offensive catcher through a trade. The same goes for a starting rotation arm, if you don’t start getting better results consistently out of Charlie Morton or Drew Smyly. 

This season is the one, where the Braves need to make “The Trade,” if it presents itself at the deadline. I am talking something like the Astros did in 2017 to get Justin Verlander. You’ve got the prospects. If presented, pull the trigger. This team is good enough. The fans are ready to be champs again. 

Dan Mathews

Chuck Oliver Show – Anchor/Fill-In Host 
WCNN-AM 680 The Fan, also on FM at 93.7

The 20th Annual 680 The Fan Classic

Sign up your favorite foursome for the The 20th Annual 680 The Fan Classic – A benefit for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
Besides a round of golf at Lanier Islands, participants will enjoy breakfast and lunch with beverages, fabulous 680 The Fan gift packs, and contests including longest to the pin,
hole-in-one, and longest drive for prizes and an after party with food & raffle! INFO & SIGN UP HERE!

Falcons Draft: Mixed bag but mostly positive reaction – BY DAN MATHEWS

atlanta falcons, 680 the fan
Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

May 3 2021 –
680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – The Falcons pick up nine players over the three days of the NFL Draft. Overall, I like what they did. 

I think they had two goals over the three days. One, they wanted to take the best available player who could also help their strength… The passing game. Two, they wanted to add depth to key positions of need. 

One thing I didn’t like, is that the running back position was not addressed. I believe that is a concern heading into the season. 

These are the three things I noticed over the last three days. 

  1. Add depth to the offensive line and actually promote good competition: The Falcons made the decision to go forward for at least this season with Matt Ryan as their quarterback. It is clear from the last three days of the draft, that they want to give Ryan the best opportunity to succeed. First and foremost in reaching that goal, is to make sure he down’t take as many hits. I love the additions of Michigan’s Jalen Mayfield (tackle competition) and Drew Dalman from Stanford (guard/center competition). I like that the team has spent five picks on the offensive line over the last few years. If nothing else, you’re giving yourself a better chance at getting your starting five correct. It is good that they’re making Matt Hennessy earn the start at center through training camp and preseason games. The same goes for Kaleb McGary at right tackle, now that Mayfield is part of this team.

  2. Where are the running backs?: That was kind of disappointing over the weekend, I’m not going to lie. While the running game in the NFL is not the most important part of your offense, it is still very important. Yes, you would like to have a strong offensive line to make that happen. The depth now looks to be there up front. It is hard for me to believe that the Falcons couldn’t have used one of these nine picks to add help in the running game. 18 running backs were drafted over the weekend and not one was by the Falcons. It’s clear that they want to go the veteran route to add to this group heading into the season. No disrespect to Mike Davis and Qadree Ollison… But, I still need someone else to be part of the group to make me believe in their potential high level production.

  3. I like the direction of the defense: Five of the nine picks belonged to Dean Pees’ defense. A lot of people are very impressed with the second round selection of Central Florida safety Richie Grant. He is known as a disciplined player who has a nose for the football. Has that been a description of a Falcons defensive back over the last few years? No, it has not. The Falcons needed help in the secondary and added cornerbacks Darren Hall from San Diego State and Avery Williams from Boise State. They added help on the defensive line with defensive end Adetokunbo Ogundeji from Notre Dame and defensive tackle Ja’Quon Graham from Texas. This is needed for a line that is going to be part of a defense that is “multiple” in their looks the season, from what Dean Pees told us earlier this offseason. That side of the ball needs capable depth and hopefully added that. Aside from Ogundeji, I’m not going to say I know anything about these players. We’ve all seen the highlights and it’s what most of us have to judge from at the moment. That said, I still do not understand the perceived reluctance to draft players from SEC programs, much less from Georgia. I’m not saying it’s a must. But, I also think it is a pretty good group to pull from…  
Dan Mathews

Chuck Oliver Show – Anchor/Fill-In Host 
WCNN-AM 680 The Fan, also on FM at 93.7
WFOM-AM 106.3 FM ‘XTRA SPORTS AND TALK’

Falcons draft weapon Kyle Pitts at #4! – BY BUCK BELUE

FILE – Florida Gators tight end Kyle Pitts (84) scores a touchdown during an NCAA college football game against Kentucky in Gainesville, Fla., in this Nov. 28, 2020, file photo. The Southeastern Conference championship game features two of the nation’s top playmakers, and neither is a quarterback. Alabama receiver DeVonta Smith and Florida tight end Kyle Pitts are the real stars of the league’s most potent offenses. (Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun via AP, File)

April 30, 2021
680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – I’m thrilled with the Falcons first round selection! Bet Matt Ryan is too. Fontenot made the right move.

For a minute, I was thinking the best move would be to trade back and accumulate more quality picks in order to rebuild the defense. But obviously, nobody wanted to offer up a #1 pick in next year’s draft for Justin Fields or Mac Jones and make the trade up.

So, Fontenot stayed at 4. And took the draft’s #1 rated player not named Trevor Lawrence. As you know, it’s called taking the best available player.

But the smart move doesn’t stop there.

Apparently, finances require that we cut Julio Jones loose in a cost-cutting move salary cap wise.

So, with receiver Kyle Pitts in the fold now, the Julio exit won’t be a killer blow to the offense. With Pitts, Matt Ryan still has a match-up advantage in the passing game.

As you’ve probably heard me say on The “Buck & Hut” Show leading into the draft, I totally love Kyle Pitts skill set and it was on full display at Florida. Mullen had Pitts lining up all over the field. Tight-end flexed. Spilt out wide. At the slot. At X & Z. This man is a big receiver, not a tight-end.

Pitts is a weapon.

The rest of the story is this: Kyle Pitts is a high character guy! The Falcons are investing in a mature, hard-working young man. That counts for something in my book. Looks like the Falcons feel the same way.

As far as passing on Fields and Mac Jones, well they both landed in good spots. I wish them both the best. Justin is probably better off not here in his home town (lot of distractions) and Mac simply wasn’t a Top 5 pick.

Fontenot and I have the same NFL 1st Round Draft philosophy: Go get the Best Available Player!

And now, the new Falcons General Manager can go address all the needs this team has entering the 2021 season. Most of them are on defense.

That’s right, focus on needs in the rest of the draft.

Today we get the 2nd & 3rd rounds. Go find a corner and a safety. Please draft a quality defensive lineman! Focus on an interior offensive lineman too. The Falcons need to upgrade on the line of scrimmage!

Maybe pull in Asante Samuel, Jr. Or Alabama tackle Christian Barmore. Georgia’s Azeez Ojulari is available to come off the edge. Oklahoma’s Creed Humphrey or Ohio State’s both Wyatt Davis look like a quality play.Nick Bolden at linebacker would be a nice addition. Maybe that TCU safety Trevon Moehrig?

Would you be shocked if Fontenot tool Stanford QB Davis Mills with today’s 2nd round pick? He can spin it and they said they would draft a QB.

Fontenot left the 1st round with a good first impression! Now, go get it done the rest of the way and let’s get this Atlanta Falcons team ready to go in 2021!

Dan Corso – Atlanta is Bidding for the 2026 World Cup

Cellini & Dimino are joined by Dan Corso, president of the Atlanta Sports Council to discuss the city completely reopening after the COVID restrictions and what will be coming up for sports in Atlanta. 

Chief among them, the World Cup is coming to the United States in 2026 and Atlanta is one of 17 cities bidding to host.

Beginning May 7, Atlanta Braves to Expand Capacity to 100%

ATLANTA (April 28, 2021) – With vaccinations across the Southeast increasing and health and safety protocols still in place, the Atlanta Braves are set to resume normal Truist Park seating capacity beginning Friday, May 7 as the team begins their third homestand of the season with a series against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Truist Park before the Pandemic. (Photo: Scott Maxim, 680 The Fan)

“We have had great success welcoming our fans back safely to Truist Park,” said Derek Schiller, President and CEO of the Atlanta Braves. “Our outdoor environment, the demand from our season ticket holders and fans to watch us play in person plus safety measures which are in place make it feel that now is the right time to get back to full capacity at Truist Park.” 

All modified health and safety measures at Truist Park will remain in place.  Measures include wearing a face covering unless actively eating or drinking, cashless concessions, mobile ticketing and ordering, and a no bag policy.  Enhanced sanitization efforts throughout the ballpark will also continue.  Revisions to the seating capacity or other health and safety measures will be subject to continuous review throughout the season.

Tickets for all remaining 2021 games, beginning with Friday, May 7th, are currently available at www.braves.com/tickets   

For a complete list of what to expect at Truist Park in 2021, fans can find additional information at www.braves.com/letsplay

 

Mr. Blank, emotions can hurt you: Especially in the NFL – BY DAN MATHEWS

falcons, julio jones, 680 the fan
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) makes the catch ahead of Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Ryan Smith (29) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

April 28, 2021
680 THE FAN, ATLANTA –
Trying to lock up players to long-term deals in order to make them “Falcons for life,” is what has the team in its current situation. Team owner Arthur Blank’s words of the past are coming back to bite him.

Giving huge long-term deals to Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Grady Jarrett and Devonta Freeman were the signs of being too close to this team. I get it. The team is your investment. They are your business. Please feel free to run them any way you wish.

FILE Atlanta Falcons’ Arthur Blank walks the field before an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP FILE Photo/Michael Perez)

It is a noble thing to be known as the owner who will pay players. Just please don’t let the personal relationships melt into the professional ones that need to be had first and foremost.

Ryan’s deal in 2018, was the rate of doing business with a proven winner at quarterback. That is what NFL teams did. Those days, with the proliferation of the passing offense in college are starting to become a thing of the past.

In regards to Jones, that was almost a “poison pill” that was signed in 2019. $64 million guaranteed? Jimmy Sexton is a heck of an agent. Even though there is no other Julio Jones in the NFL… You still should have resisted the urge to pay a wide receiver that type of money.

With Freeman, you had gotten everything you could out of him production wise. Hindsight is 20-20. But, the long-term money should have gone to Tevin Coleman. Freeman was basically like a second round draft pick in the NBA, who becomes a very productive player. You find said player… You don’t pay them.

I can understand giving Jarrett the money they did. He’s probably your best defensive player. Part of that was probably due to the previous general manager not finding much success on either line and wanting to keep a player who performed at a high level for one of these positions.

I bring all this up to say this… Let’s general manager Terry Fontenot and head coach Arthur Smith do their jobs. I’m not saying you won’t let them. But, you’ve brought them in to build this roster back to a competitor in the NFL.

In other words, no more “Falcons for life.” Long-term commitments in a salary cap world almost never meet at the right intersection. Your current GM is on the record saying that they have to make trades to fix the current salary cap constraints.

Atlanta fans love your commitment to this city and organization. But please, leave your heart out of it when it comes to contracts. No one is going to doubt that you care about the Falcons being a winner. You’ve proven that with your financial and emotional support of the team.

Dan Mathews

Chuck Oliver Show – Anchor/Fill-In Host
WCNN-AM 680 The Fan, also on FM at 93.7

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