My Dear Dixie: A September Sports Update On Professional Teams Around The South
At Tide 100.9, we bring you daily coverage of all things Alabama athletics and local high school football. In addition to our bread and butter content, there is never a dull day in sports happening all across the south.
Each month, I am going to catch everyone up on the biggest storylines in sports from around the region.
For Dixie has quite the array of sports stories to tell.
Ready to begin? Let's do it.
The Atlanta Braves clinched a fifth-consecutive playoff berth on Tuesday night. The Braves have a Wild Card spot in the postseason locked up, but are currently battling the New York Mets for the right to the NL East crown.
If the Braves happen to win the division, it will mark their fifth-straight since completing the last rebuild. However, they still have a shot to defend their world championship from 2021, even if they end up a Wild Card team.
Atlanta is the only professional team within a stone's throw of Tuscaloosa, so most of the attention around these parts happens to be on the team in Truist Park.
Can the Braves do the impossible and be the first team to repeat since the Yankees in 2000?
Only time will tell.
Aside from the transplant fans from northern or western cities, Tuscaloosa includes a split market of Falcons, Saints and Titans fans. Unfortunately, none of the three teams have been all that great so far, with a combined 1-5 record through two weeks. Of course, the lone win coming from New Orleans in their matchup against Atlanta, which made both squads look rather abysmal.
The Saints likely hold the best chance to make this year's playoffs, as the Falcons seem to be in a rebuild and the Titans lack any offense whatsoever.
Outside of the local market teams, former Crimson Tide players such as Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts continue to dominate the headlines. For folks looking for an NFL team around Tuscaloosa this season, it might be best to just pull for those that donned the Crimson and White. At least you can't get your heart broken, right?
This weekend, Tagovailoa will face his toughest challenge yet in Buffalo, while Hurts squares off against the Washington Commanders and Mac Jones plays the Baltimore Ravens.
The NBA is still in the midst of its annual offseason period right now. For as close as the sport has gotten to being a year-round event, there are a few weeks where nothing seems to happen. This is that period of time, as the preseason does not begin until mid October.
Atlanta, Memphis and New Orleans are all coming off playoff appearances, with the Grizzlies advancing to the second-round last season. This year, look for all three to be a factor in their respective conferences, as the franchises all start to develop their young core of talent.
If Atlanta and Memphis aren't your style, the Pelicans do have former Tide favorites Herb Jones and Kira Lewis on their squad. Jones grabbed the headlines last season for his performance on defense, taking the skills learned in Tuscaloosa with him to the NBA level and becoming Oats' first Tide product to make an impact as a pro. Lewis is returning from an ACL injury in 2021.
Tuscaloosa lies within one of the driest spots for hockey action in America. Unfortunately, the closest thing to the NHL around these parts is the Alabama club hockey team or the Birmingham Bulls minor league team. However, the Nashville Predators are a popular pick amongst the local hockey crowd.
The Predators are coming off a first-round playoff exit where they got swept by the cup champion Colorado Avalanche. Although the Predators ran into a buzzsaw, they suffered from missing their starting goaltender for the series and never really put up much of a fight.
The 2017 Stanley Cup roster is almost all gone by now, as the franchise looks towards a looming rebuild soon. Don't get your hopes up on Nashville this season, for it could be quite a long year on the ice.
We recommend picking a team at random or waiting until the playoffs start.
If you're a soccer fan in Tuscaloosa right now, all the action is over by the rec center thanks to Wes Hart and the No. 6 in the nation Crimson Tide. However, Nashville SC continues to achieve on the professional side of things, sitting in 4th place in the Western Conference.
Meanwhile, Atlanta United, the team that won a championship in its second year back in 2018, continues to struggle under new leadership. Atlanta has not found a true spark since manager TaTa Martino departed for Mexico and striker Josef Martínez lost his wing man in Miguel Almirón.
We recommend sticking to Tide soccer until the world cup comes around.
The NASCAR Cup Series is about to start its second round of this year's playoffs. Meanwhile, the NASCAR Xfinity Series begins its first round this week, while the truck series moves on to its third round.
In the Cup Series, the sport's most popular driver Chase Elliott leads the points standings. Meanwhile, Noah Gragson continues to make a name for himself in the Xfinity Series, winning the past three races. In trucks, Chandler Smith and Zane Smith currently seem like the favorites to hoist a trophy in Phoenix this November.
With three key playoff races coming up from Talladega in a week, the sports' attention will shift to Alabama shortly.
Make sure to stick around for our Talladega coverage soon!
That's all there is to know on southern sports for now, folks!
Stay rollin' Tuscaloosa!