Numbers are everywhere in Atlanta, whether you are navigating the city's nightmarish interstates or deciding whether to spend your last $5 on MegaMillions or Powerball tickets. In the Atlanta sports scene, numbers are even more ubiquitous. This sea of numbers may seem overwhelming at times, but we here at SB Nation Atlanta can help. In order to enlighten you about the true meanings of numbers, we consult the appropriate deities, read only the most prescient tea leaves, and spend endless hours hunched over our trusty Ouija board. In short, we think about numbers so you don't have to.
This week's numbers to know are 119,000,000; 41,166; 186; 0; and 350.
The number of dollars that the Hawks will pay all-star guard Joe Johnson over the next 6 seasons.
If you're like me, you've probably become a bit jaded by the huge amounts of money made by professional athletes. When the Braves signed Troy Glaus this past offseason, for instance, I lauded the deal (which guarantees less than $2 million) for being remarkably frugal. This despite the fact that I may not make that much money in my entire lifetime.
Even though I have been inured to huge pro sports salaries, when I first heard that the Hawks were offering Joe Johnson $119 million, I nearly did a spit take. That is a mind-bottling sum. The contract, which Johnson has reportedly accepted, makes him the highest-paid person in Atlanta sports. It is also the second-largest contract in Atlanta sports history, trailing only Mike Vick's 10-year, $130 million deal with the Falcons (which really isn't the same thing, since Johnson's money is guaranteed and much of Vick's was not). And we saw how well that one worked out.
There seems to be little doubt that the Hawks overpaid for Johnson, since no other team could offer him nearly as much as the Hawks did. I think the best that Hawks fans can hope for is that Johnson will be worth his salary for the next three or four seasons. Basically no one thinks he will still be performing at an all-star level in the final year of the contract, when he will be 35.
The number of minutes played by Shaquille O'Neal in his career; the Hawks have reportedly offered O'Neal a two-year contract that starts at the mid-level exemption of $5.8 million.
I remember the days when the thought of Shaquille O'Neal in a Hawks uniform would have caused thousands of Atlantans to faint in delight. While those days are undoubtedly past--O'Neal averaged just 12.0 points and 6.7 rebounds for Cleveland last season--his name does still carry some weight with the media. Shaq is reportedly seriously considering the Hawks' offer, though it seems doubtful that he would have a huge impact on the team given the huge amount of minutes he has already put his old-man's body through. O'Neal's 41,166 minutes are 20th all-time, and 3rd among active players (behind the ageless Jason Kidd and the similarly broken-down Kevin Garnett).
The number of points (goals + assists) that the Thrashers have lost, or seem likely to lose, this offseason.
Our own Laura Astorian details the personnel changes that the Thrashers have already gone through this offseason. The biggest loss is undoubtedly Maxim Afinogenov, the right-winger who tallied an impressive 24 goals and 37 assists in the 2009-2010 season. Afinogenov (who is a free agent) has been partially replaced via two trades with the Chicago Blackhawks, which netted the Thrashers left-winger Andrew Ladd (17 goals, 21 assists) and forward Dustin Byfuglien (17 goals, 17 assists). Still, the Thrashers have some work left to replace last year's production; they have only brought in 96 points, or a bit more than half of what they have lost.
The number of home runs Braves shortstop Yunel Escobar hit in the first half of the 2010 season.
Coming into the 2010 season, many observers predicted that Yunel Escobar would have a breakout season, at least as far as his power at the plate is concerned. In his first three seasons, his home run totals had risen from 5 to 10 to 14, so it made complete sense that he would continue to add power to his arsenal. Instead, he has regressed, and has somehow not hit a home run yet this season. What's more, I've watched most Braves games this year, and I can't even remember a time when Yunel came close to hitting one out. It has been a startling power outage from a player who had previously been considered a rising star.
Escobar has struggled with injuries at times this year; I have to wonder if perhaps an injury is the cause of his power outage. Regardless, his fragile psyche is unlikely to be helped by the recent reports that the Braves are considering putting him on the trade market. Count me as a Yunel supporter; I think his bat will come around soon, but even if it does not, his excellent defense makes him a valuable player.
Yellow Jackets QB Nesbitt is more known for his darting runs, but apparently he is quite the workout wonder as well. According to this entertaining Q and A with Georgia Tech director of player development Neal Peduzzi, Nesbitt can lift over 1.5 times his body weight with ease. That is pretty impressive, though of course one might wonder if he might be better off honing his decision-making skills rather than toning his quads.