Sunday, April 22, 2018

North Avenue Updates

Thanks to money-grubbing adidas, Georgia Tech took one small step into the 21st century this week, introducing their first-ever wordmark with letters resembling the Tech tower. For a school that prides itself on being at the forefront of scientific development,
Tech was always woefully behind the curve in the graphics department.
Sheldon Cooper and Brick Heck would be ashamed. 
The new end zones look tremendously better.
Looks like the yard line numbers will use the same font.
One goal of the rebrand is to have a consistent color gold on uniforms and merchandise. In the past the gold helmets didn't match the pants or jerseys. Of course none of this matters if the actual uniforms don't look good.
The Stripers also debuted their new alternate uniforms, to rave reviews. 
Chopper needs to get with the program.
I'm loving the fish on the sleeves.
The green jerseys also look swell.
The White Sox and Athletics also wore sweet throwbacks this week.
The bat boy was the only one to wear striped stirrups.
I finally gathered all my Braves caps for a group photo.
Not as easy as you'd think,
Ceil's new summer sneakers: blue Vans Authentics.
Cool helmet photo. Experts can determine when the picture was taken by noting which teams are and aren't present, and which facemask change has or hasn't been made. But I'm not that expert.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Braves Mets (Friday)

Let work at three and fought traffic to SunTrust.
Made it a little later than usual.
A decent early line at the Chop House Gate had already formed,
but LJ and I helped form a new line near the Terrapin tank.
Gathered bobbles and a Designated Driver Coke Zero,
walked around and rested in the warm sunshine.
Wore my Reebok Furys. Excellent choice.
Walked around some more.
The Pin Man was posing for pictures, so I leapt at the chance.
Told him I'd seen him dancing with Blooper the previous night.
He asked that my Braves not beat up his Mets too bad. 
I received numerous compliments on my green Acuna jersey,
including from several Braves employees.
Before the game the Braves honored the 2018 Braves Hall of Fame inductees. First rode longtime announcer Joe Simpson. 
Lots of cheers for the slouching Tim Hudson.
Lots going on in my usual "releivers to the bullpen" photo.
Dansby is tossing a ball into the stands. Tonight I noticed at least twice Swanson make long tosses not to the first row but 20 or 30 rows back.
I'll have to bring my glove.
To the right starter Newcomb and catcher Suzuki approach the dugout.
Proof that Blooper is lefthanded.
Last night I saw him retrieve a foul ball and toss it to a kid - left-handed.
He has the only left-handed jumbo mascot glove I've ever seen. Want.
We hung out at the top of the stands for a long time,
first people watching, then watching the first few innings of the game. 
The Braves jumped out to an early lead thanks to an Ozzie Albies home run. But a leadoff hit by pitch - to a relief pitcher - turned into the eventual game-winning run for the Mets in extra innings.
Tonight's prize. I collected two,
and had sold one by the time I'd gotten back to my car.Brick of the day.
Noticed a new dedication on the Windy Ridge Parkway bridge.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Braves Mets (Thursday)

Left work Thursday just after four. Picked up Reid and Noelle at six
(they live a mile away). Not much traffic on the way to SunTrust.
Decided to eat inside the park instead of outside at The Battery.
Saw the Pin Man in Monument Grove.
Dude had pins and message lights on his jersey and cap.
Went in and walked all the way around looking at options. Reid opted for a Holman & Fitch burger. Ceil & Noelle got BBQ and slaw. I opted for a cheeseburger and curly fries from the concession stand. I was surprised with my portions: two tasty grilled patties with cheese, lettuce, & tomato on a tasteless white bun. The curly fries were plentiful and tasty, but quickly got cold in the chilly weather. The BBQ portions were large as well.
Flags were at half staff for Barbara Bush. Saw David Hall at the game. Also David Norman and his wife Beth. Good game. Freddie Freeman was back in the lineup, and the Braves jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the first. Kurt Suzuki’s high fly kissed the foul pole for a two-run homer. The numerous Mets fans never had a chance to cheer. When a Met homer cut the score to 6-1 the Pin Man's "Let's Go Mets" cheer fell on deaf ears.
The game moved along quickly, but due to the chill the ladies were hinting at making our exit. Then another big rally in the bottom of the seventh kept up on the edge of our seats. The Braves batted around,
and Tucker’s bases-loaded double cleared the bases.
Third baseman Jose Reyes' socks had the NYC skyline on them.
Excellent seven inning performance by starting pitcher Matt Wisler,
who’d been called up from Gwinnett earlier in the day.
It was the longest appearance by a Braves starter all year.
The Mets scored three in the top of the eight,
but it was too little too late for New York.
Ceil hugged Blooper, who later led the chop right in front of us.
A few foul balls came near our seats next to the Mets dugout.
One buzzed Ceil as she chatted with the visiting David Hall.
I broke out the KD7's for the evening.

Fans vote on the song to be playing after “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the 7th Inning Stretch. We made it home by 10:30, just as the game was ending. M came home from work with lots of food: a dish for him, pastries, and a peach pie.

I just started reading “Five Presidents” written by secret service agent Clint Hill. Eisenhauer, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford. Ike played a lot of golf, including twelve straight days at Augusta National. Ike also traveled overseas a lot.

Buffets: I like to try lots of different things but stay away from the filler foods like mashed potatoes.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Unlike Any Other

These days some make fun of the Masters for their antiquated positions, outlawing phones, cameras, and allegedly the term “dilly dilly.” No mention of this on the pairing sheet Ceil brought back from the Masters, that does say “Although cheering and positive patron responses to great play are encouraged, unsolicited or consistent calls from the gallery are prohibited.” Yet sports fans flock to Augusta National and marvel at the perfection of the grounds, and everything affiliated with the Masters – because of the very guidelines so many mock.

Printed on the pairing sheet is a quote from Masters founder Bobby Jones: “In golf, customs of etiquette and decorum are just as important as rules governing play/ It is appropriate for spectators to applaud successful strokes in proportion to difficulty but excessive demonstrations by a player or his partisans are not proper because of the possible effect upon other competitors.”

And: “Most distressing to those who love the game of golf is the applauding or cheering of misplays or misfortunes of a player. Such occurrences have been rare at the Masters but we must eliminate them entirely if our patrons are to continue to merit their reputation as the most knowledgeable and considerate in the world.”

Or as someone put it: ”Leave that crap at the Phoenix Waste Management Open.”

Tuesday night new Phillies manager Gabe Kapler ran out of position players by the eighth inning. He had relief pitchers warming up in the first inning, made a double switch almost every time he made a pitching change, and delayed the game making decisions while consulting with his coaching staff. The Phillies hit into three or four double plays, including one with no outs by the pitcher after he whiffed on a bunt attempt. Yet Philly won in extra innings, in part due to numerous walks by Braves relievers.

The Phillies manager - worst ever? It is his first month. These days they’re giving the managerial jobs to former players who’ve never managed before, like the Yankees Aaron Boone. Used to be managers spent years managing in the minor leagues so they’d get to see as many different situations as possible. Stengel, Lasorda, Cox, etc. 

Pitching is the Braves weakness. That’s why they’ve been trading for so many young pitchers the past few years, because not all of them turn out to be major league material. All the fans who thought they needed to trade for position players aren’t saying that any more, now that the Braves are leading baseball in most runs scored. Plus they have more hitters in the minor leagues: Acuna, Johan Camargo, 3B Austin Riley, etc. Ozzie Albies has gotten off the a better start than Mike Trout or Bryce Harper.

Bad Wednesday for the Braves: first the pitcher pulls his hamstring then Freddie gets hit in the hand again – exactly like last year. At least there are several replacements ready: Tyler Flowers can play first. Also Jose Bautista, who they just signed yesterday. Johan Camargo was just called up (below, in his new Stripers uni). Johan or Flaherty could play first. Flaherty is leading the league in hitting. Preston Tucker could play first. They could call up Ronald Acuna to take Tucker’s place in the outfield, but Acuna is only hitting a buck eighty. And the Braves called up Lucas Sims, who can take the injured pitcher Sanchez’s spot. 

Wednesday morning Mack brought in CFA biscuits. Will said at hospitals the vendors often cater lunches. After work Will hung out with Joel and studied, then came home to eat a late supper with us: BBQ chicken, broccoli, salad, and scalloped potatoes. Watched the Braves. M came home from work and cooked himself another veggie burger. Will and I were eating on M’s cheese dip.

Couldn’t sleep last night because I had two caffeinated beverages yesterday. Someone left some V8 green tea strawberry lemonade “energy” drinks in the break room, but the only thing energy about it is the caffeine – as much as a cup of coffee. Also I have a stash of chocolate covered coffee beans at my desk, but I try to only eat one or two a day so they will last.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Tax Day

Well I had an adventure last night. Late last week I had moved some money from one account to another to pay for our income taxes. I wrote the check to deposit it in the bank my e-file return would take it from. Then this Monday morning on the way to work I made the deposit. Tuesday evening after work I first completed Anna’s return with no problems. I had only recently received the information needed to finish it.

Then I logged on to complete my return. Everything was finished except the last step – filing the return. As I neared completion I decided to double check to make sure the deposit had gone through. I saw where it had been credited – but then it had been taken away. It wasn’t there. What?

I called the bank and talked to three different people. Person #2 told me the problem: the check was “out of date.” How can a check be out of date? I had the deposit slip bank receipt, with the check image printed on it. I looked all over and saw my mistake: I’d written “2017” instead of “2018” – and the bank had rejected it. Hey, Jerry Seinfeld’s bank had deposited all those old ten dollar checks his grandmother had given him that he’d never cashed. I spent 35 minutes on the phone, to no avail.

Instead I had to mail my return. That took extra time to print out the forms and carefully write the check. Then I discovered only one post office was open late – the main PO down near the airport. Great – road trip. Left the office at 7:20. Ceil had just learned the IRS had just granted a last-minute one day extension, but by now I wanted to be sure. Adding salt to the wound, I had to use a “LOVE” stamp on the envelope to the IRS.

Made good time through town, arriving at 8:10 pm. Traffic was backed up on Central Avenue for a quarter mile, but the postal employees standing outside kept cars moving. When I was headed back onto the northbound ramp to I-75 the cars had backed up on the southbound exit ramp all the way to the freeway.

Made it up to the East Cobb library by 8:45, and home shortly after nine. Ceil was watched Blackish. Had some salad and a pocket PB&J. Matthew emerged from his room and cooked himself a veggie burger and cheese dip. Earlier he made a corn and black bean dip. W&MC were at the Fox Theater watching “Something Rotten.”   

Friday W&MC and Ceil and Matthew were all out running around, and I beat them all home. Barney and Okie greeted me. Ceil cooked stir fry, and afterward we watched Jesus Christ Superstar. While the movie and stage version ended with Christ’s crucifixion, at least this recent TV version had the Jesus ascending into the sky, becoming a beautiful bright light. Then Jesus came back to take a bow.

Saturday morning Will cooked breakfast: a mixture of eggs, hashbrowns, and turkey bacon. Then W&MC went off on a day trip to a farmers market near the Carter Center, then a cool coffee shop nearby. I did the dishes, cut the grass, did some raking, and blew the drive. Ceil worked in the back yard. Matthew arrived home from his sleepover and helped out. W&MC ate at Joey D’s Oak Room near Perimeter Mall.

At three I journeyed out to Gwinnett for my first Stripers game. UGA linebacker Roquan Smith was signing autographs. Saw bobblehead friends LJ, Johnny, Hugh, Michael, Bobby, Norman, Alan, Jonathan, Corrine, James, and others. The game went quick, and I saw home by nine after a stop by QT and Taco Bell. Couldn’t believe the Braves lost their big lead to the Cubs, but strange things can happen over the course of a 162 game season. After the game they let Jackson go. So far the Braves have only lost one series.

Sunday W&MC went to a reformation church near downtown Atlanta, then ate lunch in downtown Marietta. At JFBC several couples gave reports of their recent mission trips, including one story of a class member snapping too many photos in a predominantly Muslim country, and subsequently being surrounded by unhappy locals. Another lady in our SS class who had to flee Iran due to persecution of her Christian beliefs. She lost everything she had.

Leftovers for lunch, but Ceil made homemade pizza for dinner. Sunday afternoon Will was outside shooting baskets with the neighbor boy when Ceil let Barney and Okie outside without a leash. Okie spotted a deer down near the creek and took off after it. Eventually Okie came back, bounding up the steep hill with no problem. Barney has a gentle leader leash that fits over his nose. Without that just a regular leash isn’t enough to control him. He would pull on the regular leash and choke himself. Even up in South Carolina when I take him out I use the gentle leader, because if he were to run off I wouldn’t want to have to chase him down.

W&MC rented a movie, and we all watched. Jumanji was filmed in Midtown’s Sherwood Forest neighborhood behind White Columns – 1646 Friar Tuck Road NE. Also at Westlake High School, the Gulch near Mercedes Benz Stadium, at Atlanta Metro Studios, and in Griffin. A total of $35 million was spent on the movie in Georgia.

I had a so-so Monday. Let life get me down a little. Left at my usual time. MC was having dinner near Lenox with a friend who’s in town to perform in a play. Will drove her down there and took Okie with him. Barney needed the break, you can tell he’s worn out. He laid around all night.

Stopped by Kroger on the way home, making me a little later than usual. Ceil also had a long day, but M went to the grocery and Ceil started supper at 7:30 - Mexican. We weren’t through washing the dishes until almost 9:30. I had turned on the Braves so Ceil went upstairs. I went to bed around 10:30. M had another good doctor’s appointment. The doctor recommended protein so M came home with Ensure. He also brought Rotel tomatoes and Velveeta to make cheese dip.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Ranking All the College Unis

Anyone can rank uniforms. So why not me? With the exception of several schools I’m not familiar with, here are over one hundred college football teams ranked by worst uniform to best. My criteria: simple and classic is best.

What I learned: while there are ten or twelve uniforms that stand above the rest, plus another twelve that are also above-average, there are actually almost seventy schools with decent-looking uniforms. On the opposite end, I also confirmed it’s hard for teams with black and gold to come up with good-looking uniforms.

My ranking was based mostly on the uniform set most closely associated with each team. I did go my memory, which is decent when it comes to uniforms, though there may be several recent changes I have missed out on.   

Deduct points for certain pet peeves: too much black, too many uniform combos, ugly number fonts, bad logos, even a facemask color that clashes with the helmet (are you listening, Georgia Tech?). Also not good: dark pants with white jerseys, especially pants without stripes.

Bad logos: it’s too much to combine the mascot and a letter. Hard to see from a distance, be it on a helmet, jersey, or coach’s shirt. You see lots of small colleges and minor league teams do this – also high schools (and clueless Georgia Tech). You rarely see this issue at major schools, or by an NFL or MLB team.

102. Northern Illinois: too much black, including pants
101. New Mexico State: too much black
100. Cincinnati: too much black. Bad logo.
99. Texas Tech: too much black.
98. Louisiana Monroe: unis look cheap.
97. Western Michigan: too dark, bad logo
96. Washington State: bad pants but nice helmets
95. Indiana: too plain
94. Kennesaw: new program had the chance to be different, but the same old thing: too much black and yellow.
93. Appalachian State: black and gold, black pants
92. Southern Miss: black and gold
91. Central Florida: black and gold
90. Purdue: black and gold
89. Army: black and gold
88. Boston College: italic numbers?  
87. Arizona: too much red, too many combos.
86. Georgia State: blue pants, generic logo & unis
85. Maryland: trying too hard, forgot tradition
84. North Texas: they messed by their simple green unis
83. Rutgers: too many combos
82. Illinois: need to wear throwbacks
81. Navy: they’re trying but still mostly ugly.
80. Wake Forest: black and gold but they’re trying
79. Kansas: bad logo, nice grey masks
78. East Carolina: good logo: yellow too bright.
77. Louisville: too much black, hate the olde English L
76. NC State: hate the red facemasks
75. Utah State: generic but simple
74. Coastal Carolina: they got potential
73. Middle Tennessee: nice stripes
72. Nevada: not the same old uni
71. Colorado State: nice rams horns, too many combos
70. Houston: nice helmet, nice and simple
69. Utah: traditional but ditch the red pants
68. San Diego State: I like all the stripes
67. Vanderbilt: they’re trying to be unique
66. South Carolina: too much black
65. Colorado: traditional uni is best
64. Memphis: nice color but too many combos
63. Boise State: nice big helmet logo
62. UConn: same design as basketball
61. Alabama Birmingham: unique
60. Tulane: nice colors, different from most
59. Iowa: don’t look as good as the Steelers
58. Louisiana Tech: nice stripes
57. South Florida: different than most
56. Oregon State: nice stripes
55. Oklahoma State: nice big logo but too many combos  
54. Pittsburgh: best are the 70’s throwbacks
53. Marshall: classic look
52. Hawaii: unique to their state
51. Duke: nice stripes, too much black
50. Washington: unique but I hate the dark pants
49. Missouri: decent for black and gold
48. Tulsa: nice colors and logo
47. Arkansas: mostly simple
46. Georgia Southern: simple and classic
45. Baylor: nice base uni & grey mask but too many combos
44. Georgia Tech: I hate the black masks
43. Mississippi State: their own simple look
42. Air Force: nice colors
41. California: mostly classic
40. Kentucky: nice but too much black and grey
39. Nebraska: classic but too much black
38. Wisconsin: simple but bad W logo.
37. Stanford: simple but too much black
36. Texas Christian: good except the dark pants/white jersey combo
35. SMU: love the classic striped uni
34. Arizona State: stick to the traditional uni
33. Syracuse: mostly good combos
32. Virginia: nice traditional uni with grey facemask
31. Minnesota: nice stripes
30. Brigham Young: nice colors and stripes
29. Kansas State: different but nice
28. Wyoming: different but nice
27. West Virginia: modern yet simple.
26. Virginia Tech: good look but too many combos
25. Texas A&M: simple, their own look
24. Florida: rarely changes but number trim is outdated
23. Northwestern: classic uni
22. Ole Miss: traditional with several uni sets
21. Oregon: different every week but rarely bad
20. Penn State: need grey facemasks  
19. Iowa State: great stripes
18. Ohio: great stripes
17. Michigan State: simple green and white
16. North Carolina: too much black, weak number font
15. Florida State: unique but nice
14. Miami: classic unis
13. UCLA: classic stripes, grey masks
12. Auburn: classic and simple. Hate the blue masks.
11. Notre Dame: classic but they look slow
10. Ohio State: classic but too many combos
9. Tennessee: simple and classic
8. Michigan: unique, several classic looks
7. Georgia: classic and simple
6. Alabama: classic & simple, and grey masks Too plain to rank higher.
5. LSU: classic but number font weak.
4. Oklahoma: classic and simple
3. Clemson: classic, simple, bold
2. Southern Cal, classic & simple, and grey masks
1. Texas: classic and simple.

While the Longhorns aren’t my favorite school, there were certain things holding other schools back from claiming the top spot.

I left off several schools I was unfamiliar with: Texas State, Arkansas State, Troy, Idaho, Florida International, Old Dominion, Kent State, Ball State, Louisiana, New Mexico, San Jose State, Miami of Ohio, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Akron, Temple, Texas El Paso, Eastern Michigan, South Alabama, Texas San Antonio, UNC Charlotte, Toledo, Fresno State, Buffalo, UMass, Rice, UNLV, and Western Kentucky.

Monday, April 16, 2018

One Man's Opinion

I’m a sucker for various rankings. Here’s Maury Brown’s MLB ballpark rankings for Supposedly last year he had Turner Field ranked higher than he has SunTrust Park. I’m not sure. Also not sure how the two new ballparks in New York rank so high. Must be the amenities.

Indeed we are in a second golden age of ballparks. Most teams have nice stadiums. Some rise to the top and a few could stand to be replaced, but most are pretty nice. Being at a baseball game at the worst stadium is better than most alternatives.

To anyone with an open mind who looks at the details, SunTrust Park is far superior to Turner Field for several reasons – including Brown’s own criteria. Turner was surrounded by a sea of parking lots and a slum. The stands offered a glimpse of downtown Atlanta, but not a breathtaking view. From the SunTrust stands you can see downtown Atlanta, Buckhead, the Perimeter and Cumberland areas, Stone Mountain, and Kennesaw Mountain. One of the best views in north Georgia. And the surrounding development certainly adds to the experience: several of the nicest restaurants in Atlanta. Not an Applebee’s in sight.

Brown lists his methodology for his ranking. If indeed he went by his listed criterial then good for him. I shall attempt to assign points based on his criteria to see which stadiums have the most. Seems to me that some of Brown’s criteria overlaps. One criteria he failed to mention: is it a nice ballpark?

Brown: “For my methodology, I looked at the overall aesthetics of the ballpark design, including (A) integration with additional structures, such as in Baltimore and San Diego; (B) its setting; (C) the visuals from within the seating bowl or surrounding views; (D) the amenities offered at the facility; (E) historic relevance; and (F) external development that adds to the experience.”

A “integration with additional structures” not many stadiums qualify.
B “setting” the area of town the ballpark is in – is it nice? How does the Bronx and Queens rank higher than rivers and trees?
C “the visuals from the seating bowl or surrounding views” Can you see more than just the ballpark?
D “amenities offered at the facility” Did Brown visit every park? Since most all stadiums make an effort to relieve the paying customer of as much cash as possible, I checked this box off for everyone.
E “historical relevance” disqualifies most parks, including new Yankee Stadium and Citi Field.
F “external development that adds to the experience”

By Brown’s criterial here’s my rankings, with SunTrust ranked twelfth (up from Brown’s 18th).  

1 = KC CWS

1. AT&T Park SF 2000 A B C D = 4
2. Oriole Park 1992 A B C D F = 5
3. Busch Stadium StL 2006 B C D F = 4
4. Dodger Stadium 1962 B C D E = 4
5. PNC Park Pittsburgh 2001 A B C D = 4
6. Coors Field Denver 1995 B C D F = 4
7. Fenway Park Boston 1912 B C D E F = 5
8. Kauffman Stadium KC 1973 D = 1
9. Petco Park SD 2004 A B C D E = 5
10. Wrigley Field Chicago 1914 B C D E F = 5
11. Safeco Field Seattle 1999 B C D F = 4
12. Yankee Stadium NYC 2009 C D = 2
13. Citi Field NYC 2009 C D = 2
14. Globe Life Park Rangers 1994 B C D = 3
15. Comerica Park Tigers 2000 B C D F = 4
16. Target Field Twins 2010 A B C D F = 5
17. Miller Park Brewers 2001 B C D = 3
18. SunTrust Park Atlanta 2017 B C D F = 4
19. Citizens Bank Park Philly 2004 B C D F = 4
20. Progressive Field Indians 1994 B C D F = 4
21. Minute Maid Park Astros 2000 B C D F = 4
22. Rogers Centre Jays 1989 B C D  F = 4
23. Great American Ball Park Reds B C D F = 4
24. Nationals Park 2008 B C D = 3
25. Angels Stadium 1966 D F = 2
26. Marlins Park 2012 C D = 2
27. Chase Field Phoenix 1998 B C D F = 4
28. Guaranteed Rate Field CWS 1991 D = 1
29. Oakland Alameda Stadium 1966 B C D = 3
30. Tropicana Field Rays 1990 B D = 2