Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Dodgers game three

Will’s Dodgers team beat a bunch of big boys from Kennesaw on Saturday, 9 – 6. It was one of Will’s better games. He played second base in the top of the first, but didn’t have a ball hit to him.

As usual, Will batted second. In the first he walked and stole second and third. Leading off, he drew a throw from the catcher after a pitch. The third-baseman missed the throw, and Will scored easily.

With the Dodgers winning 5 – 3 after the first inning, Will came in and pitched three innings of shutout ball in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. He only allowed one hit, an infield single. In the third inning he retired the meat of the order on six pitches.

Will was set to be the leadoff hitter in the bottom of the 3rd inning. Watching him swing, I reminded him to swing with his whole body, not just his arms. After taking a strike, he launched a line drive deep into the left-centerfield gap, that landed well past the outfielders. He cruised around the bases for a stand-up triple, and scored on a wild pitch.

He also lined a single to left in the 4th inning. Will caught the final inning.

Cool things on Will's shelf…Mickey Mantle card…Al Kaline Louisville Slugger/Dixie Youth bat…Go Go Sox LS bat…Cal Ripken bat…those Braves bobbleheads…GT football bobblehead…several PEZ dispensers…Beatles LP (meet the Beatles?)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

batting practice

Monday night at bedtime Matthew had been rattling off the birthdays of the Braves players and coaches. He gets the game program and pours over it for hours, like I did as a kid. Went to the Braves game last night. Not too crowded, since it was a school night, not many early arrivals for batting practice. Jim Brower threw Will a ball not long after we got there. Later Jeff Francoeur had a ball, but had to pick between Will and another boy. Francoeur asked who knew when his birthday was. Matthew was seated there on the front row, of course pouring over his new program. I pointed to Matthew and told Francoeur that he knew, but naturally Matthew was speechless at that moment. Francoeur tossed the ball to Matthew, who almost caught it on his own. Not long after that Francoeur threw a ball to Will. When the Phillies came out, Jon Leiber tossed me a ball for Matthew. Later he threw a ball to a guy standing way up near the big Coke bottle...the guy made a nice catch. We weren't there begging the players for balls (well, maybe Will), but it just worked out that we got a bunch. A couple of batted balls came close, but I wasn't fighting through people for them. One of the balls was marked 'practice'...had never seen that before. Tried to get Matthew to go do other stuff before the game, but he wanted to sit there during BP, though he'd just sit there and study the program. When the game started, though, Matthew stayed focused on the game. Says one of the boring parts of the game is the 7th inning stretch. Will was trying to break 60 mph on the radar gun, then Matthew wanted to try, and he whizzed some 29 mph pitches. We were going to sit near Francoeur's Franks, but they didn't show. Two things I noticed in relation to the big hi-def screen. In the tough situation, Sosa had Jimmy Rollins down 0-2. They flashed on the board that Rollins was batting .333 against Sosa. This seemed to invigorate Rollins, hanging tough, hitting one HR distance, barely foul. Later Francoeur came up, and there was a live shot of him taking his stance. I noticed some hair out of place, just above his sideburn. He seemed to notice it as well, as he discretely brushed his hair away from his face. Of course, it may just be me. No comment on the wild west night, but the western photos seemed to be computer generated. Will’s been putting the balls up on that shelf that Chris Freund helped make. It’s his room, but I thought it should be only special or autographed balls. Last night I was thinking that maybe some could be put away, or even into my bucket we use when me and Will go out (most of those balls had been wet and are dead). But when we got home there was Will, making space on the shelf. The ball Leiber threw was in real good shape…white, one little mark. I took it to work, for my desk.

Monday, September 19, 2005

unassisted triple play

Will always had a head for the game, having already made several unassisted double-plays in his short career. But nothing compared to the play he made on October 6, 2000, at the Mt. Paran Pinto Field. Will was the pitcher when the opposition’s first two batters reached base. The next batter lofted a popup behind the mound, and Will drifted back and made the catch for the first out. The runners had failed to tag, so Will, now just a few steps away from second base, stepped on the bag for out number two. The other runner was turning around to head back to first base, but he was close enough for Will to tag out. Unassisted triple play! Will had accomplished the most rare play in baseball!

Ironically, the very next inning, a line drive was hit that both the first and second basemen went after. The first baseman couldn’t catch it, taking him away from the first base bag. Will, now playing second base, charged to his left and made a running catch. He continued running and beat the runner back to first base, for an unassisted double play. But he wasn’t finished yet! Will fired the ball across the diamond to the third-baseman, and narrowly missed turning a second triple play in two straight innings.

I was lucky to witness all this. Without a car on my Charlotte business trip, it was decided to lunch before beginning the return trip. We arrived at the office at five, then I hitched a ride home with another co-worker. By this time my only hope was to catch the family at the field before they left. But the game had started late, and Will's A's were taking the field for the fateful triple play inning as I walked up.

Dodgers game two

Will’s Dodgers beat the other Mt. Paran pony team, Henry’s Yellow Jackets, 10 - 7 last night.

Again Will was the starting pitcher. He arrived at the game tired, having worked with George again, cutting 9 yards. Will struck out two of the first four batters, and got three of the next four to ground out. Two of the groundouts were back to Will on the mound.

On one high grounder, Will had to quickly reach across to spear the ball. His cleat couldn’t catch on the carpeted artificial mound, instead sliding out from under him. He fell onto the mound, his hands making a big thud on the carpet-covered wood. He was able to quickly stand up and throw out the batter at first.

In the third Will struck out two more batters, but the shortstop’s throwing error on the leadoff hitter led to two unearned runs. After Will’s three innings of pitching, the Dodgers led 7-2. The only balls hit off him had been grounders.

At the plate, Will batted second again. In the first he walked, stole second, and scored on a single. With two out in the second, he walked again, advanced to second on an error, and to third on a walk, before the side was retired.

Garrett came in to pitch the top of the fourth, threw hard, and made good pitches, but the fielders had a hard time catching the ball. Our small group’s babysitter Jared led off and drove the ball to the fence, over 350 feet away. In right-field Joe made a good throw to Will, now the second-baseman/cutoff man. Will wheeled and fired home, holding the long-legged Jared to a triple.

The Jackets scored four to come within a run, with one out and the tying runner on third. Then our neighbor Alexander hit a soft spinner down the first-base line. The spin kept the ball from rolling foul. As the tying run charged home, the first-baseman came in to make the play. But the ball spun past him, near the bag. Alexander sprinted to first. All the activity kicked up a cloud of dust, but the umpire’s OUT call was clear…Will had charged over from his second-base position, grabbed the ball, and slid into the bag for the putout!

On the play Alexander had spiked Will’s ankle, but Will was able to field the next batter’s more routine grounder, to make the last out of the inning. Now it was getting darker as the Dodgers came to bat in the bottom of the fourth. Will came up with two on / one out and hit a two-strike pitch hard, but right at Jared at third. Jared made a nice play and stepped on the bag for the force. Later Will stole second and scored, when the shortstop’s throw to first to end the game tied was off the mark.

Joe had another good game with two hits…lining a single to right for an RBI, and singling up the middle in his other at-bat. He and Nathan each scored once. Nathan showed up for the game with a Red Cross sticker on his helmet, just like the Braves.

There's the chance they won't make the playoffs, sure. Things have gone the Braves way the last 14 years, so you never know when it's gonna go the other way. It's never the regular season when Ron Gant gets pushed off first or Lonnie Smith gets fooled on the bases. But the Braves have been there before. The Marlins have a good team, but have never won the division. The Phillies are always waiting for things to go wrong. That rookie 1st-baseman is good, as is Bobby Abrahue, but it seemed typical last night when Langerhans took an extra base off Abrahue. The Mets and Nationals won't charge.

So for the Braves not to make the playoffs, both the Marlins and Phillies or Astros would have to pass the Braves. But since the Marlins have to play the Phillies, that just makes it harder for both teams have to win a lot of games. I wouldn't bet that the Braves won't make the playoffs.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Dodgers game one

This fall there are two Pony age teams at Mt. Paran. Playful Henry, Willie’s dad, is coaching the Yellow Jackets. Chris, who coached W several years ago, drafted him on the Dodgers. Chris asked me to be the assistant…much to W’s excitement. After the draft I ran into Henry, who good-naturedly said he’d worked it out with Chris for W to also play on Henry’s team, whenever the schedule allowed. I laughed, but thought nothing of it.

This past Saturday the Dodgers opened the season at 10 am against a Powder Springs team. W was the starting pitcher, and induced the leadoff hitter to hit a soft grounder. The first-baseman dropped the throw, however, and the baserunner eventually scored an unearned run before the side was retired. W didn’t allow any hard hit balls, getting outs on a foul pop to third, a grounder back to the mound, and a strikeout.

W struck out all three batters in the second inning. The Dodgers came up and two of the first three batters walked, and W knocked them both in. With a 10 – 1 lead, Chris decided to try out another pitcher. W caught the third, and threw out a batter at first after a wild pitch was swung at.

Four of the first five Dodger batters walked in the bottom of the 3rd, then W poked a single into center to drive in another run. He was forced out at second. The game ended after the 3rd inning, as the Dodgers were winning 18 – 1.

After the game Chris gave a short postgame speech, then everyone began to part ways. As the Yellow Jackets warmed up, Henry approached W…handing him a green Yellow Jackets jersey with MURPHY on the back!

W batted second for the Jackets, as he had for the Dodgers. He almost beat out a nice bunt his first time up. He also walked and scored on a wild pitch, and hit a ball that the second-baseman made a running catch on. He caught two innings and played short and third, throwing out two batters at first. The Yellow Jackets lost a close game.

Two of W’s Dodger teammates played for the first time ever in the spring, on W’s Lightning team. I hadn’t mentioned them, except to say they’d never played before, which sometimes caused defensive liabilities. Nathan and Joe live next to each other and practiced together all summer. You could see the improvement at tryouts. Saturday Nathan walked and scored both times he batted. Joe hit the ball sharply all three times he came up, for two hits and two RBIs. He was playing second in the 3rd inning. With two out and a run in and another runner in scoring position, the batter hit a hard, high grounder up the middle. The shortstop was only able to deflect the ball with his glove. Joe was running toward centerfield, and reached out, barehanded the ball, and turned and threw the batter out at first. You won’t see a nicer play, and you couldn’t tell that Joe hadn’t been playing ball for a year.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Aug 16th notes

Watched most of the Hawaii win over Idaho. Even if one team has a big lead, it's worth it to continue to watch, because the other team can always come back. I'll probably write a long 'what I think' piece on it.

Hawaii was doing a good job of swinging early / not swinging late...a problem many of the losing teams have. Most of HRs come on outside pitches, when the batter extends his arms and pokes the ball over the RF fence. At 12, the boys are too big for the LL field...the mound is a bit too close to the plate for most batters to turn on the pitches these fast pitchers throw. There is no margin for error on ground balls...infielders cannot play deep, and must make quick, strong throws to put out runners at first...even the second-baseman. Routine grounders become base hits. Whereas 60'6" and 90' are perfect dimensions for the majors, LL dimensions are a bit small for the cream of the twelve year old crop. I suppose if the field were bigger, there would be less offense, meaning fewer viewers.

W certainly noticed this in June when he switched back to the smaller 12-year old field, from the larger Pony fields he had played on for the past year...particularly the lightning-fast pace of infield play. He was able to pull the ball, as both his HRs were pulled to left-center.

Fundamentals are another thing to watch for in these games, as well as plate discipline. With these sage coaches tossing out so many fake-bunt and take signs, the boys wind up taking strikes down the middle, then swinging at bad two-strike pitches. That's one reason why Francoeur's aggressiveness is so refreshing. Seems like the less aggressive little leaguers are at the plate, the worse a hitter they are, and vice versa.

Pitching coaches signal what pitch to throw, but how many dictate location as well? These LL pitchers have advanced this far have figured out how to locate high or outside when the hitter is apt to swing. They will be in a different world next year, when the plate is farther away, the hitters older, larger, stronger, and smarter.

That said, I stress out at W's games, so I couldn't imagine coaching with a live microphone on! There are a few of W's coaches that would do a great job, and would be fun to listen to on mic.
The Idaho pitcher last night was the coach's son, but once he was down five runs, you could tell he didn't want to be out there. After every pitch, he and the catcher would turn to the dugout for instructions. (W is at the other end of the spectrum...he's in his own world out there). Idaho was overmatched by the bigger, more talented Hawaii team, but in these games, that wasn't an insurmountable lead...except the pitcher had already beaten himself. After he retired the side in the top of the 6th, he threw his hands in the air, relieved that it was over. Like I hear too often...an experience that he'll never forget.

I had checked out that scout’s web site, and noticed his extensive book tour. On the way to work yesterday I caught myself thinking about that guy, asking who was he to write a book like that. I guess any of us could write that book, though not many of us are in Billy Beane or JS’s position. Was Shanks an actual ML scout? Didn’t JS say one day he would write a book?

Mahler was another guy who wasn’t a Gibson-style pitcher. It still amazes me that Gibson had that low ERA season, and the mound was lowered almost because of him.

Occasionally hosting events is good for us, to get us to do that extra cleaning. We’ll be ready for Friday, though we’re not there yet. Our small group is hosted in only 3 of the 6 homes…the ones with the entertainment center basements, better for the 16 kids.
The long line of kids going to Sunday School made me miss the announcements Sunday, but this week’s Kidstuf ad had a photo of me holding M, one that was several years old.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Mazzone / Boyer

Highlights from Saturday morning's father/son field day, featuring Leo Mazzone and Blaine Boyer, at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church...

Leo was pretty much in a 'speak when spoken to' mode, but when spoken to, he opened up pretty good. He wore his '99 Braves/World Series cap, grey Braves tee, navy shorts, Mizuno running shoes. They had a rocking chair for him to sit in while he answered questions. Didn't say anything earth shattering...Maddux: 'best control'; Glavine: 'toughest competitor'; Smoltz: 'best stuff'.

Mazzone said Boyer had a good shot at eventually being the Braves closer...but that may have been said because this was a pro-Boyer East Cobb crowd (he didn't say anything about the Braves #1 pick Devine, also a closer). Leo said Boyer was struggling because many people were offering pitching advice, that Blaine just needed to let his natural ability take over.

Boyer wore his Braves navy BP jersey, khaki shorts, Reef sandals, white UGA cap. After the Q&A he was given the floor to give his testimony, which included alcohol in 6th grade, drugs in the 7th, and his parent's divorce. He had attended Sope Creek Elementary and Dickerson Middle before moving on to Walton, and had participated in some Johnson Ferry youth activities. When asked if it was true that he used the new Johnson Ferry fields to train in the off-season, he smiled, 'yeah, I had my dog out here.'

Neither had much hope for Jay Powell, who had broken his arm the night before while pitching. Boyer rode in the ambulance to the hospital with Powell.

Boyer told how it was his job to take the bag of gum/sunflower seeds/candy/etc to the bullpen every day. In Philly the gum bag had been replaced with a pink Care Bear 'love' bag. His comrades had delayed packing the bag until just before game time, and made Boyer walk alone across the field, from the dugout to the bullpen. No one else was on the field, and Blaine looked up to see the video board showing a live shot of him carrying the pink bag. The Philly crowd was on him good, talking about his mother, asking about his trailer back in Georgia.

Later he told how he wasn't really a pitcher until Walton's main pitcher got hurt, and Boyer struck out 14 Lassiter batters in a playoff game, throwing over 90 MPH. My friend Jim found out that his stepson Jordan graduated from Walton the same year, and Boyer remembered him. Jim later gave Boyer one of his son's band's CDs. Looking at Boyer, he didn't look much different than Jordan, a big kid just finishing college, cell phone in tow.

That night Boyer pitched for the first time in eight games. He struck out the side the first inning he pitched, but later had to leave the game after pulling a back muscle. As he walked off the field, head down, he pulled the bill of his cap down low, then lower. A big kid, bummed out.

The boys were divided into three groups by age. Leo watched as boys threw a few pitches and would make a comment every now and then (when a boy took his turn to pitch had his cap on backward, Leo made him turn it around. The boy complied). W was a finalist in a strike-throwing contest. Boyer kind of hung around and chatted with whoever. W figured out the most fun thing was to field balls the other kids were hitting off tees. There was a big inflatable fence to hit balls over, and W was diving all over the place. The Varsity served lunch, then W organized a pick-up game where little boys hit off the tee and ran bases, and the older boys were in the field.

There were supposedly 400 signed up for the event, and I was one of about 25 recruited for a home run derby (after lunch, the crowd had thinned considerably). I thought W would be able to compete, but it was dads only. I was about the 12th guy to bat, and only two guys had hit home runs so far. I hit one of my three swings over the fence, the first on my 'team' to homer (later the homers came more often). Luckily, the rain started coming down harder, and the day ended.

W had a great time. Typically, he was soaked from head to toe.

Joke: A South Carolina man wearing a baseball uniform was shot twice in the legs by a sheriff's deputy on Saturday morning after he wouldn't stop throwing baseballs at cars and people. In related news, the Yankees still need to find a starting pitcher for Tuesday night's game.

1st HR

Took the day off so we could make some progress on painting the kitchen cabinets. C is doing the painting, and it's coming along fine. I'm trying to help by clearing and organizing the stuff out of the cabinets, and doing other household stuff while she paints.

W has been filling in on the Shaw Park traveling Bronco team, the Raiders, playing with his friends Tanner and Brooks. They had games Tuesday and Wednesday, both losses to the Georgia Titans. W batted fifth in the first game and third in the second game. He was playing a lot of outfield, so after lunch today we went up to the field and practiced some.

Tonight they began a weekend tourney at Shaw Park, playing the Rangers. W's Raiders lost the coin toss and were the visitors. The first two batters reached, then the first pitch to W hit him on the foot, loading the bases. The next batter grounded into a force out at home, keeping the bases loaded with W on second. Little Jordan singled to center, driving in two runs, including W, from second-base. The Raiders scored another run in the second and two in the third, and led 5-1.

C had worked hard all day, and also shuttled A and M to their last 'Daniel and the Lion's Den' art class. As I was leaving to take W to the game, C was about to call it a day, and said she might make it to the game, as she had missed the first two games this week. She showed up not long after the game started.

W didn't get much action in center, where he played the first and last two innings. He played second-base the second two innings, where he caught a popup and made a putout on a force play. He did do a good job of hustling out to his position, and making strong, useful warm-up throws.

W came up in the 4th inning with one out, and with a one ball one strike count, drove the ball deep into left-center, far over the fence, into the trees for his first-ever over-the-fence home run. He didn't see how far it cleared the fence, but as soon as he hit it, I knew it was gone. He hustled around the bases with his head down, but a big grin on his face, and leaped onto home plate, where he was mobbed by his teammates. W said that he heard Brooks' dad call out as he rounded the bases, for W not to smile so big.

As W took the field for the top of the 5th, he called to me, pointing to the outfield, asking me to retrieve his home run ball. I reached in my pocket and showed him the ball...Brook's little brother had gone out and tracked it down.

The Raiders won the game 6-2, and W was the only one to score two runs. To celebrate, we dined at Moe's. They play a doubleheader on Saturday...the first game at 9 am, the second game at a time to be determined.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Stuff like politics in a group setting is tough. My small office has widely different viewpoints, and some people can’t help but continuously share their views. Missed the third part of the Hero series, where the soldier was there. Before that it seemed the series wasn’t particularly about the war, instead about what an individual should do, faced with knowing what needed to be done. Actually similar to other series, where the point was to act, not sit. I know that there are things I should do (become more of a people person, for one).

In the past Andy hasn’t ventured into controversial subjects like politics or the war, except perhaps from a biblical perspective, with the point being something personal or how accurate the bible is, as opposed to making a point about politics or the war. That said, I can certainly see how politics/war can come up in group. Our old group might’ve had more interesting discussions than my current group, but even the new group wouldn’t be in complete agreement, either.

I’m not sure it’s the best thing for a Christian to have a Bush sticker on the back of the minivan/SUV. How would y’all feel if the first time you went to North Point you drove up and most of the cars in the lot had Bush stickers? There…I need to love everyone, not just those like me. Kinda like Romans 14:12 – 15:7, big verse quoter that I am (had to look it up).

Hopefully I can stick to the ‘trying to get it right / not there yet / work in progress’ part…are these not NP themes? Don’t know if I could be so bold. What I appreciate about Andy is that he speaks for/about himself and what/how he believes God is. From there, God can use those words in other’s hearts and minds however God wants. I can’t hold a gun to someone’s head to make them agree with me (perhaps not the best way of looking at things). Not that I’m the best at building relationships, or even loving my neighbor. Regardless of what’s going on in our country and world, does not God just want our honor and praise, our trust in Him?

Is the goal of a blog to be an easy way to share, especially with particular people whenever you write something…like emailing something to many people…with the opportunity for anyone else to read it? What’s the downside? Noticed that Jeff Dollar, that Q100 / Braves between innings guy, had mentioned his blog on air. I looked it up and it’s basically it’s own web site.

Nice win last night. M & I saw the Langerhans hit. W was supposed to be asleep, but had the radio on.

As far as Smoltz’ HOF credentials, in addition to his starting/relieving/starting success, throw in that he’s the leader in all-time postseason wins.

A Braves publicist should put together a game-by-game highlight listing of Andruw’s contributions…HRs, RBIs, run-saving diving catches, etc. Suspect it would compare well with the other MVP candidates.

One I hadn’t heard…from Ken Rosenthal in Choptalk…the Braves made a run at Alfonso Soriano, offering two players and a prospect for him and OF Kevin Mench. Who? Giles and Furcal? Furcal and Johnson or Langerhans or Estrada? Texas doesn’t need a SS…isn’t that where Michael Young plays?

Just won tickets for the game of the year…the Falcons/Eagles Monday Night Football game next week. But this morning I'd planned an out-of-town business trip for next Monday & Tuesday…my only open days on this month’s calendar. Letting a connected co-worker go, with hopes of him returning the favor later in the season.

An interesting story in the paperback…’Incredible Football Feats’ by Jim Benagh, published in 1974, saying Tom Dempsey played on a weekend semi-pro team after getting out of Palomar Junior College, and made a 57-yard field goal…without a shoe! Probably hard to fact-check. Dempsey is still alive, I suppose he could be asked.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

NYC trip

Left Myrtle Beach at 5 Thursday and drove to Darlington for our nephew’s Dixie Youth regional tourney game. That meant we didn’t get to Jefferson until 10:30…where I stayed up late unpacking and packing. We left for the Charlotte airport at 4:30 am and flew out at 7:30. At LaGuardia we caught the hotel van to drop our bags.

The Sheraton in downtown Flushing Queens was real nice...decorated to accommodate mainly Chinese guests…instead of USA Today…Chinese newspapers were delivered to each room. That area has become another Chinatown…the restaurant across the street was called the ‘Flushing Noodle Café’. Outside the hotel was the subway station…the end of the number 7 line. The express made few stops and goes straight to Times Square.

Friday we got off at Grand Central. After enjoying the station for a bit, we walked north. C had to check out the American Girl Store, to prepare for her August Chicago trip. At an outdoor Rockefeller Center market C bought a small plant, that became a child we cared for over the weekend. Then west to Times Square, eventually grabbing lunch at Carve Unique Sandwiches on Eighth Ave at 47th Street. Walked north on Eight and Broadway…the Hello Deli was crowded, but I did catch a glimpse of Rupert. Back south through Times Square, down to the Empire State Building. We had discussed going up, but C didn’t want to. Missed Madison Square Garden, but I’d heard it’s not much to see on the outside.

By the end of the afternoon we had checked out the NBC, ABC, CBS, NBA, and Yankees stores, Maxie’s Deli, NYC visitors bureau, passed Macys, and stopped at about three Starbucks. At Times Square they were handing out playbills for a comedy club where Colin Quinn was headlining, who I now hear is back in the news. We were headed to Madison Square Park at 25th Street, where the Shake Shack has great burgers and shakes.

Tiring, we hopped on the N train at 34th and went downtown to Battery Park. The fort was closed for the day, but we walked around at rode the Staten Island Ferry, just for fun…but also to rest our tired bodies. The breeze felt good, and we got good views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Manhattan. Then we took the number 9 back to Times Square. C decided the salad bar at the original Sbarro looked good, so I had pizza. After walking around a little more, we headed back to the hotel, exhausted. Passing Shea Stadium, I caught a glimpse of Andruw in centerfield.

Saturday morning we ate at Hot & Crusty on Lexington and 84th, and saw the Egyptian and Matisse Exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Went up to the Roof Garden overlooking Central Park. Then C enjoyed checking out the Upper East Side shops on Madison and Park, the apartments on the cross streets, and the small groceries and flower shops on Lexington. Made us wonder how people live there in the city, and where SW lived and hung out. At one point C was in a shop and I was people-watching on the sidewalk, discretely checking maps, planning our next move. A 1960s era maroon Rolls limo pulled up. The driver got out and opened the back door, and an old lady got out and entered the store. We ate lunch at a different Hot & Crusty, on Lexington & 79th.

Saturday afternoon we wandered north on the Upper East Side, making our way to the Guggenheim museum. C noticed ginko trees near the Guggenheim, just like the ones we had seen planted at Frank Lloyd Wright’s house in Chicago. We stuck our heads in the museum, and poked around across the street at Central Park. We took a needed rested on a park bench, waiting on a bus. That route down Fifth Avenue was popular with the tourists, past the Metropolitan Museum.

One of C’s memories from previous trips to NYC in the 1980s was visiting Barneys department store, so we got off at 62nd Street and ventured there. We especially liked the $ 575.00 leather dog carrier, and the $ 250.00 leather ordinary Puma running shoes, marked down four times to $110.00. We stopped by Niketown, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and some small shops near Rockefeller Center. In one store I saw a man wearing his 2005 Peachtree Road Race shirt. I nodded to it and asked, ‘What group?’ He had run in group eight, same as me.

From there we hopped back on the 7, and this time got off at the Shea Stadium station. Lang had told me it was ok to wear Braves stuff, and there were plenty of Atlanta fans in our right field foul territory Mezzanine section. Our seats looked out on the airplanes taking off, an East River bay full of boats, and our hotel in Flushing. The Mets fans were into the game, with lots of cheering and ‘let’s go Mets’ chants...as well as disappointment when the Braves would make a good hit or play. We tried to sneak down to the lower level to look around, but they were checking tickets. Shea was in good shape, for it’s age. For kicks, I had written the Mets, requesting my name be put on the scoreboard. I trained my camera on the board when they started welcoming fans by name, but my name didn’t show that inning, so I fulfilled my promise to get C a bag of peanuts. I missed a full half inning, arriving back just in time to see my name on the board…but C missed it. For the 7th inning stretch the Mets had a singer perform “God Bless America”, so it must be sung at every game. After that they played ’Take Me Out to the Ballgame’, as well as another song the crowd enjoyed singing and dancing to.

In the hotel each night I tried to plan out and prepare for the next day, as C would crash, exhausted. I had thought that Shakespeare in the Park was in the afternoon, but it was at 8 pm. C opted for the game, so I didn’t argue. We had checked out the TKTS booth in Times Square, but would’ve had to commit several hours to that. We could’ve gone to a Sunday afternoon matinee, but that’ll have to go on our ’next time’ list.

It was raining when we woke up Sunday morning, but we set off to Manhattan anyway. The rain had stopped by the time we emerged on Bleeker Street. We ate at the French Café Angelique, and wandered from Greenwich Village south through Soho and Chinatown. C would spend more time in the groceries and shops, while I people-watched (an amazing variety of footwear!). I played the ‘New Yorker or tourist?’ guessing game. We both enjoyed the Pearl River store in Chinatown, where C bought some bowls…and shoes, soap, little purses, toy dragonflies and fish, etc. (Later that day Lang’s wife Isabel said she also loved Pearl River, as Lang opened the cupboard to reveal stacks of Pearl River plates).

Being at the beach, then in NYC, out of the normal routines, I had to search for a billboard to tell me when ‘Charlie in the Chocolate Factory’ opened…this past Friday. On Sunday someone on the street offered to sell me a DVD of the movie for ten dollars.

We waded through looking at the street vendors wares…watches, $17.00 ‘Izod’ shirts, etc, before hopping on the 9 train uptown. Tired, I got us off a station too early, but we enjoyed the Upper West Side walk up 79th to Columbus, where we met Lang on the street. He bought us a sandwich made by his neighborhood grocer, and pointed out his STRIKER magazine stickers that soccer-loving neighborhood merchants had placed on their doors.

Lang and Isabel live in a 4th floor walkup at the corner of 86th and Columbus, conveniently located above a Starbucks (frequented by Kevin Bacon). Tiny, cute kitchen, spiral staircase up to the bedroom, where a door leads outside to a rooftop… with views south to downtown, east to Central Park, and west to the Hudson River. We had a great visit…Isabel showed us the proofs of her book coming out this fall, while Lang showed me his HD TV, shoes, and recounted their weekend in Toronto with Steve Nash. So we were able to see how some people live in NYC.

They encouraged us to not be late to the airport, as crazy things can happen…but to first walk down 86th to the park, then south on Central Park West. We quickly checked out the American Museum of Natural History, before hopping a train to end our little adventure…or so we thought.

We arrived at LaGuardia before six for our 8:30 flight, but the scanner told me there was a problem…due to the weather, the flight had been cancelled. The same thing had happened to many of the evening’s flights. They rebooked us on the 8:30 am Charlotte flight the next day. Another night in the city would be fun, but we’d blown so much already, a hotel room would hurt bad. I had something Monday night in Atlanta, so I called Delta Direct twice, and battled with the desk help twice, to no avail. I called Direct a third time with another idea, and an evening flight had opened up.

The flight was delayed until 11:45, and landed in Atlanta two hours later. Hartsfield was quiet. By 6 am I had read the Sunday and Monday AJCs and most of the Sunday NY Times, too cold to nap. We landed in Charlotte before 8 am, hours earlier than we would’ve had we not switched flights. Unfortunately, my checked bag didn’t make the Delta to ASA switch, even with the 4-1/2 hour layover (it was delivered intact to our house Wednesday). We zipped back to Jefferson, picked up the kids, and headed back to Atlanta. After a stop by the Dekalb Farmers Market, we arrived home.

Tired and confused, C wasn’t sure where she was when I pulled into the garage…there was a white folding door covering the laundry room, where previously there had been none. C and the kids opened the doors to reveal fresh paint (with a painted flower border!), new shelves and light…and a new dryer! The old doors were gone. Inside the house, our quilts were draped over couches, frames hung on walls, junk cleaned up, a new area rug in the boy’s room, two drawers fixed, new light fixtures…a while-you-were-out home makeover! C was about to cry, the kids excited.

I was even amazed, even though I was aware that NE was cooking up something with our small group. She had asked for suggestions and I gave her a few, thinking that they may do a couple of things. Husband L, along with S and K L among others, finished the list, and did several others projects as well.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


W’s new fall baseball team, the Dodgers, had an informal scrimmage against the other Pony team, and won 6 – 5.

W was the starting pitcher. After the leadoff hitter reached when the 1st-baseman dropped the throw, he retired the next three batters, striking out Justin Brookshire with a two-strike curveball. W threw five strikes and only two balls in the one inning he worked…faced 4…one K, one reached on E3…2 balls, 5 strikes.

In the second inning W played shortstop, and caught the 3rd inning.

W batted second in the order and hit the ball hard, but right at the shortstop. He also walked, took 2nd on a force out, took 3rd on an error, out trying to steal home.

You may remember my friend Lang, who we visited in NYC. Broke 100 for the first time yesterday and wrote about it here…


I’m not a huge boxing guy, but Cinderella Man was good. Boxing is only part of the story, also showing the guy dealing with bad times during the Great Depression…taking care of his family. While not at all a prideful man, Braddock had to greatly humble himself to provide and keep his family together. The violence and language seemed in check with the ring and era, certainly a more gentle and moving story than Rocky…no pounding ‘Eye of the Tiger’ soundtrack. At 2-1/2 hours, it turns the 9:45 show into a late evening! No chick flick, but I thought W might like it.

Hear the Earharts went to their neighborhood keg party last night.

Herbie review…made in the style of the originals, with some Buddy Hackett slapstick…updated to include NASCAR and today’s midriff-baring fashions.

labor day

SI ranked the ball parks…interesting the categories they chose…Braves got a 10 for the team. TB beat SF, LAD, and DET’s new stadium. Would be interesting to plot the scores on a spreadsheet…Mil was first with 51, Atl 44, and NYM a 27 for last.


Took the kids Saturday, missing the Griffey HRs on Fri and Sun. Macay McBride threw Will a ball. W had brought a Sharpie, but couldn’t get any of the rookies to sign there in the outfield during BP…no big surprise. Reitsma was big buddies with Sean Casey, the one who’d been upset about the trade. Farnsworth ran across the field to hug Mercker. Griffey didn’t take BP outside, but played, making one great play to turn a double into a single. After BP, we happened by Lemke and Stu, so W got Lemke to sign the ball. I wasn’t paying attention, and Stu signed the ball as well. Neither signed the sweet spot. A wanted autographs as well, so she got them to sign her ticket.

Then we made it to Tooner Field…not much there. M and A hit on those little fields, while W played the field. He didn’t realize it, but he pulled an unassisted triple play, like Frucal’s. I suppose it’s set up where it’s easy to turn often triple plays there.

Found seats in LF back behind the aisle, but M couldn’t see the scoreboard or fireworks, so we went to the upper deck, near the bottle. M and A wanted to sit at the top, so we played around up there for a while. Late in the game that seemed to be a popular couples spot. Never noticed the office windows there in LF, under all the 1969 – 2005 pennants, under the 755 club, behind the last row of the outfield bleachers. A couple of guys were in there working…one office had cubicles, another had a framed Boston jersey, bobbleheads, TV, etc.

Langerhans has been putting on a show, both in the field and on the bases...diving catches and going for the extra base. Think I've even seem him smile a time or two.

Had enough of Kolb. My expert friend thinks he won't be on the postseason roster. At least outings like Sunday's make that decision easier to make. The rookies were standing around in the OF during BP Saturday...McCann, Boyer, McBride, Francoeur, Johnson, Langerhans. Then Kolb walked up to join the group, it seemed the group dynamic changed.

Sat nite we got home from the Varsity late...we had watched Tech there until the half. There were TVs at the Ted tuned to the UGA game, so it was easy to keep up. C was watching Clemson when we walked in, so we had to watch that until the finish. Since Tech was winning, I stayed up...hopefully they can keep it going this week. Sounds like Calvin Johnson wants to stay at Tech to get his degree...though he may be the type to graduate early!

Stuck to the end of the Miami/FSU game last night, since both teams had used their timeouts. Didn’t do much this weekend besides that…saw Herbie again.

Had a great time at the baseball practice last week. C and I talked about it afterwards, and realize that playing for the Reds would be too big a burden for our family. While it would be great for W to be able to receive the best coaching and training possible, we feel that as a family we have many obstacles we need to place ahead of baseball, as much as W and I enjoy playing. I don’t see how our circumstances would change much by the spring. I always feel like I have to explain myself on things like this. C is quite whelmed, schooling our kids, and we still wonder if we’re meeting all the needs, particularly for our youngest. Often we’re stressed just to keep the Mt. Paran schedule!

24 has been showing reruns on one of the cable channels...soon it'll be time to get hooked again.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

2004 recap

I've never written one of these letters before. Enjoy reading them, but only I have the urge to write them. They're so fun, even if we don't lead the most fascinating lives.

I completed my 17th year with RT, his 5th as Ops Mgr in the Fab Department. Travel is infrequent enough to be enjoyable, & included exotic trips to Greenville, Greensboro, Charleston, Chattanooga, Birmingham, & Little Rock. Enjoyed playing with the kids, watching games & recitals, washing cars & teaching W the joys of yardwork.

C is now home-schooling all 3 kids, and every year has done an even better job. She teaches Pre-K at our church's Waumbaland, prays regularly with close friends, meets weekly with a friend to organize for school, and attends local home-school support group meetings & activities. She has exercised more this year, including running during A's twice-weekly ballet practices.

W is in 6th grade, his most academically challenging year so far. He's taking Science & English at the Living Science Academy in rustic Cherokee County, and continues to shine playing violin...he & C saw violinist Joshua Bell perform with the Atlanta Symphony. W often cooks the evening meal. He loves read, roam the woods & creek, but didn't get to play golf with dad enough. Because of his July birthday, W is often the youngest on his baseball teams. This year for the first time he even moved up an age group...having just turned eleven, he was one of the better players on a team of big 13 & 14 years olds! W played in 46 games, reached base 74 times, and scored 49 runs. He caught 46 innings and pitched 52 innings, throwing 1004 pitches to 279 batters (dad is the scorekeeper!). Highlights included a bases-loaded triple to put a game out of reach, and numerous diving catches and double-plays.

A is turning into a young lady...8 years old, in the 2nd grade. She was invited to join an advanced ballet group, giving C the extra day to exercise. A loves to read, swim, playing & sleeping over with girlfriends, and is into Build-A-Bear and the American Girl craze. She loved her summer knitting camp. She's great to have sandwiched between the two boys.

Six-year old M is our Renaissance man. He's been drawing for years, but wants to keep up with his older siblings, so he learned to read and write...before starting Kindergarten. He's also picky about his wardrobe, and types stories & lists on the PC, knits, swims, and rides his scooter & bike. He joined dad on the golf course for the first time this year, and played his first season of baseball. After the season ended, he decided he liked baseball, and set out practicing to become better. Now he's catching, throwing, & hitting line drives, and is ready for a breakout year in 2005.

We wound things up in June with our first NP small group, but have managed to keep in contact with each other reasonably well. We loved the old group because we all came together having never met before, & were able to learn & grow from the wide variety of strengths everyone brought to the table. This fall we started in with a new group, comprised of some old friends as well as some new ones. Things have been great so far.

Highlights this year included...D & W went to the Jan 2nd Clemson win in the Peach Bowl with most of C's family. We all enjoyed ice skating in Centennial Olympic Park. We attended two Alliance Theatre plays with our small group, put on by our group leader's company. Easter is always a big time in South Carolina, with a big egg hunt and cookout, in addition to celebrating our risen Savior. D's father & brother went with him & W to the Masters. In May D & W went with L & M E to visit the B's in Virginia, & spent several days sightseeing in Washington DC...even taking in an Orioles game in Baltimore. C, A, & M went to South Carolina in June for birthday parties, while D & W attended Father's Day weekend Braves games & golfed, & saw the Olympic Torch Relay pass through Atlanta. D ran his 17th Peachtree Road Race this year...with W, who ran his first. Then we went straight to Turner Field to see the Braves/Red Sox game, donned our new T-shirts, & both caught batting practice home runs. The annual July Myrtle Beach trip included over 40 extended family members. The summer also included trips to minor league games in Rome & Chattanooga, as well as witnessing Barry Bond's 693rd career home run. The fall included a trip up Stone Mountain and a fun East Cobb Fall Festival with our new small group.