Monday, January 15, 2018

Falcons: Not So Super

Survive the weekend? It has been COLD.

I’m not going to spent time bemoaning the Falcons loss. Winning in the NFL ain’t easy. They were the only NFC who’d made the playoffs in 2016 to make the playoffs again in 2017. The offense wasn’t as explosive as they’d been last season – seems like that blame should be heaped on the new offensive coordinator. The Falcons did better this year than all but four teams in the league – not bad considering they really hadn’t played well all year. People hate on Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, but they did all they could. Had that defender made the interception at the end of the half the Falcons could’ve kicked a chip shot field goal to win the game.

Left work Friday at six. Got home, changed clothes, and headed out to the Oglethorpe game. The parking lot was crowded. The girls game was finishing up. The girls overcame a large halftime deficit to win going away. David Norman was at the game. I kept my jacket on until I finally warmed up, then announced to those around me that it was time for the big unveiling – underneath my jacket I was wearing my Oglethorpe shirt. Oglethorpe shot poorly and the game was close the entire way, but the good guys won in overtime.

Learned my young friend Connor Smith had played high school ball with Memphis Grizzlies guard Kobi Simmons. Connor was a senior and Kobi was a freshman. Now Connor is a redshirt senior (he was hurt last year) and Kobi is in the NBA. On Sunday Connor hit five three-pointers and now holds the school career record for most three point shots made.  

After the game it was cold cold cold. My low gas light had lit up on the drive to the game. I probably could’ve made it back to East Cobb, but I took Windsor Parkway to Roswell Road, and filled up at the Kroger. Really really cold. It was almost 11 pm before I got home.

Saturday morning I cleaned upstairs. Had a PB&J for breakfast and one of Ceil’s leftover sandwiches for lunch. Took a nap and watched the Falcons. Also did some laundry. Matthew cooked fish and chips for supper. C grilled me a chicken breast. Watched some of the Patriots and Gilmore Girls.

Another good SS lesson on the armor of God. Brian keeps it simple and to the point. Bryant Wright preached on the wayward son. Stopped by Whole Foods on the way home. Lunch was rotisserie chicken, wild rice, and salad. Drove down the the Westside to get my new glasses adjusted, so now they fit much better. Back home I took a nap and watched a little football and a lot of Girlmore Girls. Ordered a new wallet off Amazon, made from Rawlings baseball glove leather. 20% off.

Also discovered another website for a guy who makes wallets from old baseball gloves.

Anna had been sick all weekend. She skipped a girls trip to Atlanta yesterday, but seemed to be feeling slightly better Sunday.   

Ceil doesn’t have school today. M went to work at seven. C has a birthday lunch, then is helping Beck Norman with wedding invitations for Charles. Will is going to miss the wedding – it’s when he’ll be Peru.

I’m had lunch with my brother today at the Duluth Diner.

More from my Neil Armstrong book: when Apollo 10’s lunar module split off and flew down close to the moon it experienced unforeseen computer problems that caused it to tumble out of control. The astronaut had to take manual control, jettison the lower landing section early, and fire the return rocket to get out of trouble.

Then as Apollo 11’s Armstrong and Aldrin descended to the lunar surface, they experienced a similar computer overload when Aldrin ran two computer programs at once. They were able to continue their approach but overshot the planned landing spot by four miles. Then they almost ran out of fuel before they found a suitable (flat) place to put down. Armstrong figured that with the moon’s gravity only 1/6th that of earth, running out of fuel only 20 feet off the ground wasn’t that big of a deal. After the landing NASA told the press the astronauts would rest for four hours, when in fact they were working feverously to prepare for their moonwalk. Had something gone wrong they wanted to be sure to have samples of moon rocks to take back.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Visiting Bowl Game Cities

There were 39 bowl games in 31 cities in 18 states.
I’ve visited 21 of the 31 bowl cities.

AL Camellia Bowl in Montgomery: yes
AL Dollar General Bowl in Mobile: no
AR Arizona Bowl in Tucson: no
AR Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix: yes  
AZ Cactus Bowl in Phoenix: yes

BA Bahamas Bowl: no
CA Foster Farms Bowl in Santa Clara: yes
CA Holiday Bowl in San Diego: no
CA Rose Bowl in Pasadena: I’ve seen the stadium.

FL Cure Bowl Orlando: I’ve seen the stadium.
FL Boca Raton Bowl: yes
FL Gasparilla Bowl in St. Pete: been to games in the stadium.
FL Camping World Bowl in Orlando: seen the stadium
FL TaxSlayer Bowl (Jacksonville): yes  
FL Orange Bowl (Miami): attended a game in the old Orange Bowl
FL Outback Bowl (Tampa): seen the stadium.
FL Citrus Bowl (Orlando): seen the stadium.

GA Celebration Bowl in Atlanta: yes.
GA Peach Bowl in Atlanta: I’ve attended several.  
GA Championship Game in Atlanta
HI Hawaii Bowl: no
ID Potato Bowl in Boise Idaho: no

LA New Orleans Bowl in the Superdome: yes
LA Independence Bowl in Shreveport: I’ve seen the stadium
LA Sugar Bowl in New Orleans: I attended one.

MD Military Bowl in Annapolis: no
MI Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit: yes
NC Belk Bowl in Charlotte: yes
NE Las Vegas Bowl: no

NM New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque: no
NY Pinstripe Bowl in NYC: yes
TN Music City Bowl in Nashville: yes
TN Liberty Bowl in Memphis: yes

TX Frisco Bowl in Frisco Texas: yes
TX Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth: does Dallas count?
TX Heart of Dallas Bowl: yes
TX Texas Bowl in Houston: I’ve seen the stadium.
TX Alamo Bowl in San Antonio: no
TX Cotton Bowl in Dallas: I’ve been inside Texas Stadium
TX Sun Bowl in El Paso: no

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Petrels Win in OT

Friday night Oglethorpe broke their first place conference tie with Sewanee, winning a close, exciting game 65-60 in overtime.
I had come to see senior Connor Smith, who had played Flight basketball in high school with Will. We know the family well: from basketball, East Cobb, Living Science, and Johnson Ferry. I see Carol (above left) at the Stinky Kroger.  We're practically related: Connor's sister Holly dates Thomas Gilbert, brother of Will's wife Mary-Clayton.
As the Petrel mascot looks on, freshman Will Perry (#30) drives the basket. The Centennial High graduate leads the conference in scoring.
Connor's former Flight teammates David Norman (L) and basketball marvel DJ Hoffer attended their second game of the season.
Smith struggled offensively in both games they saw,
but Friday led both teams with six assists.
Connor is no longer the skinny teen I remember.
As a senior at St. Francis Smith paired with freshman Kobi Simmons,
who now plays for the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Petrels play on one of only five "blacktops" in the NCAA.
Before the season Charles Barkley filmed in the Oglethorpe gym, messing up the floor. Since the floor had to be redone - so they did it in black.
We stayed around after the game to greet Connor. Both David (L) and DJ are married, and live in the same West Atlanta neighborhood (as does DJ's brother Ben). DJ and his brothers play competitive basketball at Peachtree Presbyterian, and softball at Northside Drive Baptist. DJ remembered that David's father and I had also played softball at Northside.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Man on the Moon

Reading an interesting book about Neil Armstrong and his involvement in the space program from X-15 in the 50’s through Apollo in the 70’s. Learning details I never knew about the space programs from both the USA and USSR. Armstrong’s Gemini flight was cut short only hours into the flight due to a faulty retrograde rocket that caused the astronauts to spin and tumble violently through space – while they were out of radio contact with Houston. Armstrong was able to fire the main rockets to get them out of trouble. His cool under fire was one of the reasons he was selected to command Apollo 11 – though when he was picked (during the Apollo 8 flight) it wasn’t a certainty Apollo 11 would be the first to land on the moon.

The decision who would be the first to walk on the moon was decided based on where each of the two men stood in the lunar module. Since the LEM’s door opened inward into the cramped cabin, and the LEM pilot (Buzz Aldrin) was positioned “behind” the door, the mission commander (Armstrong) had to be the first to exit and last to return. The subsequent Apollo missions (12, 14, and 15) followed the same protocol. According to the book (written by Armstrong’s longtime friend) Neil never lobbied to be the first to walk on the moon, and Buzz never “officially” tried to take his place.

Amazingly Aldrin graduated West Point at the top of his class, and as a pilot shot down more than one Korean fighter jets. Then he got his doctorate from MIT. His dissertation on orbital rendezvous was used by NASA. Aldrin then became a test pilot, and was selected for the astronaut program. During the Gemini missions the first spacewalkers had life-threatening problems maneuvering around the capsule. Buzz devloped a series of foot and handholds. On his flight he made spacewalking look easy. This – and his status as a scientist – helped him to be picked for the first moon mission. He is the only scientist to walk on the moon. Years later he officially changed his name to Buzz.

I never want anything for Christmas, but this year I figured out what I wanted: last year the Hawks wore blue and green Maravich-era uniforms. They sold the uniform pants for several months, but I missed that. But I did find the blue and green socks they wore, and Ceil ordered me a pair. Very nice. Next Christmas maybe I’ll get some Braves socks. It’s not too practical most times to wear a cap or jersey, but you always gotta wear socks. 

I’ve had the same black wallet for years and years. It’s really not a wallet but a leather case for business cards. I recently discovered wallets made from the leather of old baseball gloves, with the glove logos and autographs still showing. I’m going to order a wallet similar to that, made from Rawlings baseball glove leather but more like a wallet. When you drop your black wallet in your car at night, it is extremely hard to find.

Anything on tap for the weekend? It’s supposed to get cold again. I got some cleaning up to do, and I need to get back to selling on eBay. And get the oil changed.

Thursday: worked till 5:55 and shut down my computer, but it took 20 more minutes to update and shut down. I finally just grabbed it and threw it in my breifcase. On the way home I didn’t take a turn I usually take, and around the next corner traffic was backed up due to a wreck. Then I had to sit through three red light cycles at Holcomb Bridge and Old Alabama.

M cooked supper: black bean and mushroom burgers. Watched Gomer Pyle, a news report about UFO coverups, and the Gilmore Girls. Went to bed at 9:30. Gotta try and get more sleep. My new glasses came in the mail. They’re taking some time to get used to.  

Got out and walked/ran yesterday morning. Was trying out a new pair of shoes but needed thicker socks. Sore from that. Nice and warm this morning so I sould’ve gone outside again, but was extra sore from the loose shoes. Stayed inside and did my weights. So far I’ve worked out four days both weeks of the new year, and eaten right. I need to step it up in both areas.

I need to read up more on Joan of Arc. Seems like God worked in and through her unlike anyone else in history.

The CPA on the Braves: With Winkler, Sam Freeman and Vizcaino agreeing to contracts, by my numbers, that puts them at $115.6 million for payroll.  I think they will sign a veteran to play 3B - I don't think they will go into a season with Camargo penciled in at third.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Hot Stove: Andrew Gist

Went to the Hot Stove meeting in Cumming after work Wednesday. I think we had eleven or twelve regular attenders plus three special guests: Forsyth Central head coach Kevin McCollum (in red), his pitching coach Brian Bull, and former FCHS pitcher Andrew Gist. I sat directly across from Gist, and it seemed like he was talking to me, so I did my best to actively listen. He probably wondered why I scribbled notes, and evidently he caught me snapping his picture.

Andrew spoke first, detailing his baseball journey starting in Mashburn Middle School, where he’d been taught by one of the men there at our meeting. His next door neighbor was former Brave Matt Lipka. At FCHS Gist was sent to the outfield until the coaches realized he was a pitcher. During summers he played East Cobb Baseball and pitched for a team in upstate South Carolina. One unpleasant memory was leaving after his high school graduation and making the long drive to Fort Myers for a tournament, missing all the after parties at the fairgrounds. Then when he only pitched in one game, making the long drive home even longer.

The lefty turned down several partial scholarship offers to pitch at Walters State Junior College, located north of Nashville. Gist loved it there, and again worked his way up to more innings pitched. His roommate Brent Honeywell just made the Rays 40 man roster. As a sophomore WSJC finished one game away from the championship game.

Gist made a visit to Louisville, but UGA had recruited him harder, so it was an easy choice. He was happy with his workload (about 40 innings, first in relief, then making weekday starts). His first SEC appearance came at the rowdy LSU stadium. At Mississippi State players could trade baseballs for hot dogs or brats. Michael Curry, his first catcher at UGA, suddenly developed an aversion to throwing the ball back to the pitcher.

As a senior Gist started the higher profile Friday night games. He was scouted by Milt Hill (a friend of the Hot Stove), who lives in Windermere. As the draft approached Andrew signed with an agent, who told him he’d be drafted during the second day of the draft. But on the first day the Orioles called, asking if he’d sign for $2500.00. Gist said yes and called his agent, who said no. He was eventually drafted by the Rays in the ninth round, much better than he’d expected.

After just a couple of days in Florida Gist was assigned to the Class A Hudson Valley Renegades in the short season New York Penn League. Without a car, Gist lived with two other players with a host family across the street from Dutchess Stadium. One of his roommates was bonus baby Brenden McKay, who many say had the most illustrious career in college baseball history. In 2017 McKay hit .341 with 18 HR & 57 RBI – and went 11-3 with a 2.56 era on the mound. Andrew described McKay as humble and smart (before signing McKay established residency in Florida to lower his tax hit). Gist played golf with McKay but didn’t hit him up for swag from his Nike contract.

This fall Andrew worked out in Athens while taking a class (he’s five classes away from graduating). He’s reporting to the Rays Velocity Camp in an effort to increase the speed on his fastball. His agent likes Gist’s chances in spring training – the Rays are rebuilding and are so desperate for lefthanded relievers that they signed former Brave Jonny Venters, who’s had three Tommy John surgeries and spend the 2017 season in AAA. Venters lives just around the corner on Canton Highway.

McCollum started by praising Gist for his steady countenance and hard work, for patiently waiting for his turn to shine, and taking advantage of those opportunities when he could. McCollum grew up in Harrisburg Pennsylvania and moved to Florida, then Cumming. His current star pitcher Ethan Hankins could be selected near the top of this year’s MLB draft. Hankins, a tall righty threw 88 MPH as a freshman but now hits 98 (and allegedly 99).

Bull grew up in Holly Hill SC, playing three sports in high school. He pitched for two seasons at Newberry College before transferring to Clemson to get his engineering degree. He works at a software firm and helps coach at FCHS. He was one of the last to leave, talking to with me about playing more than one sport and various Clemson bowl trips.

After the meeting Gist was starting his ten hour drive to Florida, driving several hours to break the long trip in two. Still he stuck around to talk to everyone. When he arrived he took out several photos of himself and autographed them, and there was plenty for everyone.

The Hot Stove gang:
Johnny Tallant born 12.20.1949. He taught musician Zack Brown, and is past president of the Braves 400 Club. He recently spoke to the Georgia State head baseball coach, who invited the Hot Stove to meet one Sunday afternoon in the Braves old clubhouse in Turner Field.
Hugh was born October 1940
Jerry Anderson lists all the transactions
Jerry’s son Jeremy teaches music at Mashburn Middle School, and usually brings his young son to the meetings.
Big Tom drove a school bus for a few years after retiring.
Brian walks with a cane.
James always smiles, travels with Johnny
LJ Avery was a first time attender.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Sports Illustrated: Fading Away

This year Sports Illustrated is only publishing 28 issues. For decades it was a weekly magazine with 52 issues a year, plus additional special issues. Then they started taking off Christmas week, then also a week in July. In 2017 they published 48 issues including special issues (I think). The magazine had also dramatically reduced the number of pages in each issue. The actual paper was thinning, and much smaller than its old size: 8-1/2 x 11. Now they’ll publish every other week, but on thicker quality paper. Each issue will have lots more pages as well.

SI is cutting back because fewer people are subscribing and buying hard copies of the magazine. More people are getting their news off the internet. As up to date and topical SI has always been, the articles are always several days old by the time it hits the mailbox. SI has shifted from reporting sports news to going more in depth with its stories. I almost always find the its worth my time to read a SI article, even if I hadn’t been interested in the subject. SI is a part of Time magazine. Sounds like Time, Newsweek, People, and other magazines are cutting back as well.

I also noticed that no college football player or coach graced the SI cover after the early August college football issue until late November, when Baker Mayfield was featured.

I like to look at newspapers, but it’s not worth it for me to subscribe. I’ve been subscribing to SI since 1983, and have 99.9% of the issues. They’re fun to leaf through and look at the pictures, but it’s hard to read all the articles. Maybe now with fewer issues I can get caught up, but it will probably take me a year or two.

I don’t subscribe to the paper, and over the past few years I have gradually decreased the number of AJC articles I read on line. Reminds me that Anna had wanted a hard copy of the Tuesday AJC, but I forgot. Anna is used to hard copies of newspapers because the University of Georgia’s student newspaper can be found everywhere around campus.

Hoops: GT beat Miami. They were talking about that game on 680 . There were two or three articles about the GT game on the AJC’s website. Not sure who lays out the stories in the actual newspaper. I guess the game didn’t end until it was too late to get it in the Thursday paper and then it was old news for the Friday paper. I’m sure AJC GT beatwriter Ken Seguira was at the game. I had to look hard and scroll down but I found one video and two articles about GT/Miami. The articles are on “myAJC” which is for subscribers only, but I wouldn’t know how you as a subscriber could log on.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Bama Edges Dawgs

Did you stay up? A great game, especially if you’re an Alabama fan. At one point when things were going good for Georgia I actually calculated in my head how long before the game would end, and could it sit in the same position without getting up. It was before ten and I knew the game would last until midnight.

Announcer Kirk Herbstreidt’s love affair for Jake Fromm - I’m sure the Bama fans were tired of hearing about it, both before and during the game. Surely it’s what jinxed the Dawgs.

Seems like the UGA offense had a special game plan to penetrate Bama’s offense. Chubb kept trying to bounce outside, but Bama’s D is better than any they’d faced. Take away his one long run and Chubb had 17 carries for 18 yards. Some wondered where Sony Michel was in the fourth quarter. I’m sure there was a reason he wasn’t in there. My thing is that when you throw an incompletion on first down it makes it harder to call a running play on second and long. The Dawgs offense looked decent in the second and third quarters, but when the pressure was on in the fourth quarter UGA had too many 3 & outs.

On Bama’s first field goal attempt it looked like UGA drew Bama offsides, but the call went against Bama. The kicker made the practice kick, but missed the one that counted. Several kickers have had problems in the new stadium. Some say it’s because all the tiny plastic chips haven’t settled or been pushed deep.

I didn’t start taking notes until halfway through the third quarter – the obvious turning point. Everything went Bama’s way. Sure only Nick Saban is the only coach with the guts to replace his incumbent QB (25-2 as a starter) with a true freshman who’d never played. The greatest in-game adjustment in a big game ever. But besides that, the deck was stacked against Georgia. Said a coworker: “it was like watching a slow motion car wreck.”

1. Bama punt team moves – uncalled.
2. UGA punt return team called for offsides, when they weren’t.
3. Facemask on Bama not called, resulting in a UGA punt.
4. Three times Georgia running backs took poor routes and were thrown for losses.
5. Block in the back on a UGA punt return.
6. UGA has the freshman QB cornered, then he breaks away for a first down, then later throws for a touchdown.
7. Hardeman catches the high kickoff in the corner of the end zone, and runs it out. He is immediately cornered, and tackled inside the ten yard line.
8. Even the 80 yard Fromm to Hardeman bomb is almost called back on a ticky tack penalty not called all year – no sideline warning had been given.
9. Then a sideline warning was given after UGA’s interception.
10. But after the Bama interception no sideline warning - seemed like Fromm got a little cocky on that play.
11. After tackling Fromm the tackler hits him again. No call.

This was just like the Rose Bowl. How many penalties were called against Alabama? They were flagged by the irate special teamer, who then threw a fit on the sidelines, attacking his coach.

The injuries were even: Tyree McDonald defensive back. The big offensive lineman. UGA had a defensive lineman go down, and receiver Weems. Eighteen true freshmen played for Bama.
Dubious call to have Ramsey pooch punt – left-footed even. Almost blocked.

The stat: UGA led Bama 20-10 at the end of the third quarter of the 2012 SEC Championship Game. 20-10, then 20-13. Kirby used a time out. Another poor kickoff return, and the Wild Dawg doesn’t work – too slow developing. Bama has the mo with nine remaining. Another three and out. Bama is wanting it more.

Pass interference on third down. Bama is doing a better job pushing the pile. Fourth and four deep in the red zone. The touchdown ties it with 3:48 remaining. Had it been incomplete, interference could’ve been called.

Hardeman a decent return. Two incompletions. Another three and out. Punt. 2:55 to go. UGA needs a big play on D. Another personal foul on Georgia puts the ball on the 31 yard line. 1:02 left. First down. Then the missed field goal.

Overtime. Some will say poor play calling – two straight runs, then a sack. But Rodrigo nails a 51 yarder. ESPN has made him a national sensation.
Bama takes over. The sack makes it second and 26. You’d think Georgia was in a great position, but now the entire field was opened up for the freshman QB. Saban wins again. 12:09 pm.
I can hear it now – the naysayers wanting Kirby fired for not properly planning for the backup freshman quarterback who had never played meaningful minutes. Others: “this was our only chance. All the seniors are gone, and so is Roquon Smith.” How soon we forget the number one recruiting class (at least one new 5 star QB recruit is already practicing with the team - below). 
And forget enjoying a sensational season – back in August what UGA fan wouldn’t have been happy with an SEC Championship, Rose Bowl victory, and taking the national championship game into overtime?

Just like in the first preseason game back in August, there were delays getting spectators into the stadium. Forget the increased security - seventy thousand cell phones just can’t work all at the same time. Increased tensions and at least one racial slur, according to a reporter from LA. Why was he outside – was he looking for trouble? Once inside my eyes didn’t fool me – the roof was leaking. At least it wasn’t noted on the broadcast.

Wonder how much they had to pay those poor souls standing outside in the cold and rain to watch that halftime show in Centennial Park? I’m sure the 72,000 football fans who’d paid an $2,500.00 or more per ticket enjoyed the music.

Perhaps now both Jalen Hurts and Jacob Eason will transfer to Georgia Tech (Eason is bound for Washington).
Above: Anna's friend Josh Moran got his picture in the AJC.