Monday, October 31, 2005

September golf

I traveled up to Greenville SC on September 12th and thirteenth. Left the office around 2:30…perfect timing to drive back across the Georgia state line and over to Victoria Bryant State Park for a round of golf. I had received a free round of golf at a state park in the mail for my birthday, but they’re all far away, and the opportune moments to use it are rare. But that Tuesday there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The course is near Royston, in the north Georgia hills, away from the roar of highway traffic. The leaves were starting to turn, and the occasional eagle or hawk would take flight.

A group of five was teeing of on one, so I was directed to go off on the back side. Ten was a downhill par three, a nice hole to start. The only good shot I made was a chip shot, from off the green, that ran not far from the hole. Eleven was a dogleg right par far, and I hit two tee shots…both good shots for me, both in good position in the fairway. With absolutely no one around, I often took a second shot, eventually figuring out if my first shot was decent, I was better off keeping ball number two in my pocket. There was a long carry off the twelfth tee over a valley of rough. My tee shot carried the valley, and I reached the green by hitting two more good shots. A two putt for bogey was fine with me, as was another bogey on thirteen, another par four. Though my tee shot wasn’t the greatest, my next two shots got me to the green.

My tee shot on the par three fourteenth landed on the green, and I two-putted for par. Next up was a par five, where I hit a decent drive and two more good fairway shots, putting me on the fringe. Another two-putt gave me two pars in a row, and I was sky high. The par three sixteenth brought me back to earth, as I hit several shots into the lake. A good tee shot on seventeen helped me par the hole, even though it took two more short fairway shots to reach the green. The putt for par was long and uphill, but straight, and I sank it for perhaps my best putt of the day. On eighteen my tee shot barely carried the water, and I continued to hit bad shot after bad shot all the way to the green. Though I had often played two balls, I was still quite happy with a 46, as long as the course played.

On the first hole my tee shot went right, as usual. I relaxed and hit my second shot over the green, and pitched back and made the up-and-down for par. My tee shot on two was short, but my next shot was long and straight. I reached the green with a third shot, again happy to two-putt for bogey. The sun was bad in my eyes teeing off on three, but my shot carried the rough. I still had a long way to go, and even though my two fairway shots reached the green, I still double-bogeyed the hole. Hole four was a par five, and I hit a pretty good drive, to the right side of the fairway as usual. My second shot crossed back to the left side, putting several tall trees between me and the green. I relaxed and hit a nice approach to the fringe. I just missed the birdie putt, but was quite happy with the par.

There were two golfers in the fairway on the fifth hole. I was in no hurry, but they signaled me to play through. Hurried, my tee shot on the dogleg right sailed further right, but I was able to pitch it through the trees, toward the hole. With them behind me I pressed, not hitting good shots finishing that hole or the next, an uphill par three. The par four seventh hole was unbelievingly straight and narrow, almost spooking me. The sun was setting, and I quickened my pace. Tired from all the shots I had taken, I continued to hit poor shots, but it was still fun. Strangely, while on the eighth fairway, the two players passed by in their cart, saying they were calling it a day. There was still plenty of light to finish, but I was worn out. My back nine score was 51, for a 97 total.

Not bad at all, but I still have a long way to go before I can actually break a hundred. But it was a glorious day to be outside with a club in my hands.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Finally caught up with Lang's links and SI column last night, where he recapped his weekend...his dad's recap was just as good.

Forgot about the Hawks/Thrashers summer reading program I had enrolled my kids in. Yesterday they each got two ticket vouchers to both a Hawks and Thrashers game.

Speaking of the Colonial, I've probably bored you with the story of eating lunch there in Dallas at the course, a week before the tournament, while there on business.

Who is Natalie Gulbis? Hard for me to keep up sometimes. And what is Ty Tryon doing these days? Why is Tiger good in real life and on video games?

I must be a carrier…a girl in the office was out sick yesterday. Everyone else in the family is under the weather. Then Staci and Charlotte got sick after their party...guess we shouldn't have gone.

Both Anna and Matthew lost teeth yesterday. I had to go to Kroger at 11:30pm to get change for the tooth fairy. Ceil took Matthew to the dentist to get his pulled, but he was brave. Stayed up late folding laundry, but didn’t stay until the end of the game.

Will’s team had a father/son wiffleball game last night. I was the first dad to bat, and homered on my first swing...setting a good tone for the game, but the dads lost.

Work is getting busier with month end approaching.

Dodgers Oct 8th game

I never wrote up a recap on Will’s game from Saturday, October eighth. The Dodgers beat the other Hobgood team 7 – 4 in the 10 am game at Mt. Paran. Will started the game at shortstop, but didn’t get any balls hit to him, though Hobgood scored two runs in the top of the first.

Chris put Will in to pitch the top of the second, and after the leadoff batter dumped a single into right field, Will struck out two batters on three straight pitches, and got the last batter to pop out to him…a ten pitch inning. Will also pitched the next two innings, allowing no earned runs and only two unearned runs. He struck out a total of five batters.

The Dodgers scored seven in the bottom of the second. Will singled to left to drive in a run,
and stole second base. From there he scored on a single to center.

In the final inning Will was playing third base, and tagged two runners out on attempted steals, to end the game. He had been on deck when the final out was made in the bottom of the fourth.

Immediately after the game Anna, Matthew, and I sped over to Six Flags for my company picnic. Anna drove some co-workers around the Hanson cars track, followed by me, being chauffeured by Matthew. Anna had a big lead, but with my coworker Jeff in the backseat, turned around taunting Matthew. Matthew kept the pedal to the metal and gradually caught up. After Anna had stopped at the end of the ride, Matthew plowed into the back of her car, causing everyone in both cars, as well as everyone standing in the long line, to erupt in laughter.

Will chose to stay at the field and play in the YellowJackets game. He played centerfield and shortstop, and turned a couple of double plays. The Jackets were playing the tough Hobgood team that had given the Dodgers their only loss of the season, and though the Jackets had lost every game to the Dodgers, they beat the Hobgood team. After the game Will got to go home with Willie and the other Bartletts, so it was a big day for him.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

halloween, etc.

We were talking about Halloween over here. Looks like at least Darryl, Jeff, and Renee are dressing up. Steve looked at me and said “me and you don’t dress up”…so I thought to myself “I guess not!”

We have a Halloween party because years ago someone in Accounting spoke up in an employee meeting and asked a bigwig if we could dress up. Legend has it that was the famous Ingrid. I thought about dressing up like her, but thought some might think that as mean. Other than that, I usually consider wearing a football jersey or something dumb, then usually back out at the last minute.

We all had a great time at the party Saturday. It was good to hang out with the Freunds, and I wish I’d talked to Todd a little more, even if it was just about sports. As usual, Staci outdid herself.

Watched a lot of the Sunday Series game, only to leave the room and miss the grand slam. I may hit a late movie tonight, which means I’d miss the game.

Ceil is better. Sunday she was still sick as could be, but Monday she was feeling good enough not to go to the doctor. She’s not afraid to go to the doctor, she actually kept another doctor’s appointment yesterday afternoon. She still sounds bad.

This new North Point series on money, LO$T, is coming just in time for us. We’ve been spending a lot lately.

Yesterday afternoon Lang drove his dad to Nashville for the Hawks game. They got back home at 3:30 this morning.

Monday, October 24, 2005

October golf

Jeff and I played golf on October 13th with Phil from Steel Services in Macon. He belongs to a nice new course just north of Forsyth, just east of the interstate. The carts even had GPS units, so you always knew how far you were away from the hole. We also played with George Elkins, the GM of the Harris Waste plant in Baxley, one of our big customers…so we had to be on our best behavior. George used to work at Club Car, and had several golf cart stories. While riding with him, he told of testing out the carts…and rammed Jeff to demonstrate. George also helped us both out with several tips.

Though the day started off cloudy, gradually the sun came out, and it turned out to be a beautiful fall day. We started on the 18th hole. My tee shot avoided the rough, and my second shot from a bunker went further than I’d thought. But I had a great shot from the greenside bunker, closest to the hole, to help save par.

I also avoided the rough on the first hole, but muffed my second shot. I think I had a half decent long putt. I had the best approach shot on the second hole, the only one to hit the green, and also hit a nice putt. The third hole was a par five, and all I could contribute was another good putt, though my chip shot wasn’t bad. I had two chip shots on the fourth, a par three, but didn’t really put either close.

I couldn’t remember any shots from the next three holes, but finally hit a nice tee shot on eight, into a bunker on the par three. I also hit a long putt pretty close to the hole. The ninth was a par four, and I nailed my second shot too good, and it landed just past the green. Again I putted well, putting the ball close to the hole, in spite of a big break.

The tenth hole was a long par five, dogleg left, then over a lake to the green. All three of us kept hitting bad shots…but I finally hit a nice putt. We managed to par eleven, a par three, where I put another big-breaking putt close. On twelve I hit a nice drive out in the middle of the fairway, as well as putting another putt close. Again on thirteen my only contribution was another long putt close to the hole. None of us sank a long putt all day, though I did make two or three in the four-to-six foot range.

The fourteenth hole was a par four…dogleg right, then downhill to the green. I hit a great tee shot, pretty long and straight for me, with a slight slice, which is quite normal for me. Jeff also launched a great drive. Both shots turned out to be in perfect positions for pitch shots to the green. I hit mine real close to the pin, and made the putt for a birdie.

Though I hit a few shots into the woods, for the most part I kept the ball in bounds all day. I did hit four or five into the water. Fifteen was a tough par four, dogleg left, then over a lake. My only decent shot was a chip shot. Sixteen was a par three, also across a lake…all of my shots were bad.

As we arrived at the seventeenth tee, George commented how he enjoyed playing with Jeff and me. Jeff told George he would love to as well, gushing and offering his business card. George had the perfect comeback…” Jeff, I was just being nice.” We had a great laugh. George had been riding Jeff all day, and we did have a good time.

Before I teed off on our last hole, George told me to get out a long tee and tee it up high. I had been teeing it off real low, just because I seemed to be hitting it better that way. Seventeen was a par five requiring a long tee shot over a creek. I teed it up high and swung. It was my best shot of the day, a long, straight drive that easily carried the creek. It turned out to be a better drive than George or Jeff hit. I also hit a good approach shot, chip shot, and long putt, so I finished well.

With only three players, we alternated taking a second shot. Too often I was faced with the approach shot on the fairway. I came through several times, but more often the pressure was on George to hit a decent shot. We finished with a 70, done in by the double-bogey on the tenth hole.

Dodgers Oct 22nd game

Will’s team beat a bunch of big boys from Kennesaw this past Saturday, 9 – 1. After his complete-game shutout on Thursday, Will was ready to pitch again. Coach Chris held him in reserve, in case the game was close, but Will’s pitching was not needed.

Will scored the only run in the first inning, after drawing a walk. He stole second and third on consecutive pitches. Christian grounded one back up the middle, and the pitcher knocked it down. Will broke for home and scored.

At the end of two innings the Dodgers led 2 – 0. Neither team had gotten a hit, so with the game close Chris left in the starting pitcher for another inning.

Will led off bottom of the third and again walked, this time on four pitches. Again he stole second and third, and later scored. He was the only Dodger to score twice. The Dodgers went on to score six more runs in the third. With the big lead, Chris opted to let another boy pitch the fourth inning.

Will played shortstop the first three innings, and handled every ball hit to him. He threw out two runners at first on ground balls, and caught a fly ball on the outfield grass.

The last game of the season is Saturday, at noon against Henry’s YellowJackets.


Ceil came down with some sickness last Wednesday. Usually she's only sick for a day or two, but she's just now starting to feel better. She had wanted to go to the signing Saturday, but stayed in bed all day, also missing Will's game and a Halloween party that night.

The Latin Chic write-up in Saturday's AJC...nice! Today I am showing it around the office.

Friday afternoon I took a late lunch and ran some errands. A Washington Mutual was having a grand opening, and I wandered in. It took longer than I needed it to, but it was worthwhile. While inside I noticed a guy with a radio station tee asking questions. By the time I left the store, the radio station had set up a table to broadcast. I checked out the table and then looked up, and there was their morning DJ greeting me! They took a picture of me with her, so I had them e-mail the photo to a co-worker who listens to the station.

Tough that Shockley got hurt...would be nice if they could beat Florida.

Friday, October 21, 2005

complete game shutout!

In easily his best pitching performance ever, last night Will pitched a five inning, complete-game shutout, leading his team to a 4 – 0 victory.

Leo Mazzone’s goal is for a pitcher to throw 14 pitches an inning, and Will’s first four innings were 11, 12, 14, and 14 pitches. He struck out four in his first four innings and walked none. In the 5th inning Will struck out two more batters. He only allowed four soft hits the entire game.

In the field, Will fielded a grounder back to the mound, and threw the runner out at first. Later he covered first to record a putout, when the first-baseman ranged to his right to field a grounder in the hole.

Will also was the leading hitter at the plate, collecting two of the Dodgers’ six hits. inning Will singled up the middle in the first, but was forced out at second on Christian’s grounder to short. In the third Will hustled to stretch a single into a double, sliding in to just beat the throw from the outfield, Ryan Langerhans style.

Priest Holmes

Matthew was scanning one of Will’s old SIKids magazines. His favorite page is the calendar/birthday page. He asks “Dad, who is Priest Holmes?” I tell him, and ask why he wants to know. “He has the same birthday as Charlotte”

Lang’s wife co-wrote a book, that just came out this week. Note the section on current events…book signings and release parties! Check out the website...

Here it is on Amazon…listed 49th among newly released books on cooking…

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Wie DQ

I sent the Wie articles to my father-in-law for his wife to read, as both are huge golfers. He was glad I sent it because it enabled him to finally find a link to write Bamberger and give him a piece of his mind...sounds like he wasn't the only one.

In baseball and football, calls can't be overturned after the next play begins. In golf the scorecard can be correctly any time before it is signed at the end of a round. Weird that the officials waited until after the Sunday round to take action, though the official was notified Sunday morning. In other sports, officials are right there calling the action. Golf has officials, but they don't follow every group, not even the leaders.

Was there any discussion on the TV broadcast on Saturday or Sunday about the possible rules violation? Interesting that there were photos of the drop, in addition to the TV coverage. Saw a headline about the DQ, and should've realized it was a huge story, but didn't figure it out until I got that SI golf email. When Lang wrote his article about breaking 100, it was linked on the SI golf email.

Sounds like her dad handled it pretty good as well. I haven't been following her progress with a microscope, but he seems to have stepped back from his days as her caddy and dropped into the background.

Hopefully she is taking the entire weekend as needed experience, since there will be plenty of paydays ahead. She was on Letterman a few months ago. Nice to see her acting like a teenager. But distance aside, Michelle doesn't have anything on Creamer or the other youngsters.

Monday, USA Today had a box/chart, showing the five winningest postseason pitchers. They noted that the Astros currently have two of the top five…”Pettitte” (14) and Clemens (12). While they noted all the teams they played for, they didn’t note that almost all of the wins came for other teams.

They didn’t make a big deal that the other three on the chart (Smoltz-15, Glavine-12, and Maddux-11) got all their wins playing for the Braves. They listed the Cubs for Maddux…did he get a postseason win for them in 1989? They did not list the Mets for Glavine. Glavine was listed ahead of Clemens, though they were tied…in reverse alphabetical order. Because Glavine got his wins in fewer years than Clemens?

The proof-reading here could be better, as whenever I go back and look at it, I see phrases that ought to be changed, and I don’t always change them.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

too busy

Know what you mean about people being ‘busy’. When we worked on Charlotte’s room, I made it a point to go regardless of other stuff. I knew/hoped we’d probably be doing the same thing at my house. I’m sorry it didn’t work out with the Freund’s house. It was great when so many people chipped in with the Norman’s house.

I have a friend that used to take me to Hawks games (he no longer has season tickets). He’s always had money, but he’s not afraid to use it for good purposes, as well as give of his time. He’s not the big leader type, but he married an organizational genius, and she does great giving of her time for good causes, and organizing others to join in. Come to think of it, lately they’ve been getting in small groups, and when their group gets to the point where people aren’t doing stuff, she’s ready to drop out.

After the work day at my house, Chris hung around with his chainsaw and cut down some small trees in the back. Then we went down near the creek and he tried to cut down this huge, dead tree. I noticed on Sunday that it had just fallen down…exactly where it needed to fall, away from the house, across the creek.

It would be unbelievable if Leo got away…seems like JS counting on Leo to hang around, figuring he’d get the last look to match any Yankee offer. But I also hear Leo’s good buddy just was named Oriole manager, so that’s another chip for Leo to play. I see where Pendleton withdrew his name from the LA job. Joe Girardi has interviewed in Miami and Tampa. He played for both teams, right? Unbelievable he’s a candidate, just because he’s so young. Forgot he took Zimmer’s place on the Yankee bench.

Been working on a spreadsheet…researched the info last night. Over the last ten years, only the Yankees have been to the Series more than the Braves, and only two other NL teams have won the Series. Gotta find more playoff info for the last few years. When did the wild card start? I’ll probably extend it to 1991, or as long as the Braves still have the best stats.

Jason Collier, etc.

A personal connection with Jason Collier? At first I thought no way, but I actually do, in a Kevin Bacon kind of way. There’s a chance Collier’s father played for Wack Hyder, the long-time head coach who won the NIT and beaten Adolph Rupp up in Kentucky. For years my maternal grandmother worked in the registrar’s office at Tech, but had retired before I arrived in 1977. Hyder knew her from his frequent visits to the registrars office. As a freshman I took an aerobics PE class (back then that meant running). Hyder was the instructor. He remembered my grandmother, and would ask about her when I’d see him around campus or at a Tech basketball game.

As a kid there was a tall, stern looking man at church with a son my brother’s age. He was a principal somewhere nearby. He was Jim Nolan, who also played for Hyder…perhaps with Collier. That’s the closest I come!

In college I was an extrovert…life of the party. Maybe just to draw attention to myself, to be popular. I was probably more well-balanced in high school, maybe more myself. Gradually during my single days, and more so after I got married, did I swing the other way and become more of an introvert. Heavy. I’m like Tiffany in that my alone time is in the car, some at work, and at night after Ceil goes to bed.

That Coley group was the first time we had been in a group where no one knew anyone going in, but I thought it turned out half-decent. There was something here that connected couple one to couple two, and something else that connected couple two to couple three, and so on. We had trouble conceiving, as did y’all. Chris hired Staci, and Donna and Amy connected through their daughters, it seemed. Kurt and Brian mountain biked, and Susan helped Ceil with her organizational problems. I liked the discussions, because we weren’t all coming from the same background/viewpoint. So that group may have been above-average, as groups go.

Our previous groups were made up of people we already knew, and though they were more Bible study groups, it was a chance to meet regularly with friends. Our current group is funny just because the two new couples have done such a good job fitting in. One new couple is always on the go, and invites one or two of the other families (that’s good for us Murphys, who aren’t big inviters). The other couple is the guy that goes to movies, and the girl hangs out with the other girls. Since four couples are old friends (particularly the girls), with kids exactly the same age, we’re more apt to see each other more often.

Andy (or his wife, who’s probably more involved in the process) seems to have the right idea of asking neighbors/people they don’t know to be in their group. (Haven’t heard him saying he goes to Grouplink…nor any of the other bigwigs). But it sounds like they seldom have extracurricular activities, and group members are busy and sometimes miss, like my group.

When we went to Boston in 93, we didn't check out the harbor (or Cape Cod), but there is probably lots of stuff to do there. I hear Will Bynum is doing well up there. We visited the Harvard campus and Fenway Park. We rented a car, spend one night in Boston, and one or two nights in Maine. Saw Kennebunkport and Arcadia National Park and L.L.Bean.

We're going to the Clemson/Duke game. The kids will have a big time. Perhaps we'll see some leaves. Guess I'll wear this new purple shirt I the store it looked blue!

I was at Moe's watching the ND game and it was hard to hear the announcers. Didn't even see the fumble until the replay. I'm sure Weiss hard a hard time figuring out what was going on...guess it helped that he was wearing a headset.

more Bravos

One thing that has struck me about hitting coaches is that the pupil has to be open to change. Andruw had gone years with generally the same stats. They were above average, but everyone expected more from him. Last year I think he got married and was adding an indoor batting cage to his house. There were reports of him working hard over the winter. So Pendleton looks good, though we may have been trying to get through to Andruw years ago. Or perhaps Pendleton had suggested several things over the last couple of years, that one thing finally paid off.

There’s a tall boy on the team that was cut from the school , though he stars on the school’s undefeated basketball team. His hitting is all messed up, and I’ve heard several teammates, coaches, and parents shouting (conflicting) instructions. Not all Little League coaches are equal when it comes to teaching guys to hit!

I see where Yankee great Don Mattingly is getting the rap for the Yankees’ failure to advance. ARod, Jeter, Giambi, Bernie, Posada…when they don’t hit, is it Mattingly’s fault?

To me, winning divisions is tons better than not competing, which is what the Braves were like for 22 of the first 25 years here. The Hawks were a lot more fun in the ‘Nique years. Then they regressed but still made the playoffs, then they redid the team and flopped. For years the Falcons weren’t a factor.

Yesterday I remembered that the goal for the Braves management is money related…getting fans to come to games. That’s why they spent all that money on that big TV in centerfield, instead of four new all-star pitchers (this year they brought three…Hudson, Kolb, and Farnsworth). Since two million are showing up every year, including an attendance increase this year, the moves are paying off, as far as management is concerned. They care about the fans…so they can make money. I can’t fault them for that…furthering their own interests as opposed to mine.

more unis

Here’s an update on my search to find when the Boston / Milwaukee Braves wore large red names on their backs. I’ll tell it in story fashion, as if you weren’t busy…

While attending the September 20th Braves / Phillies game, I made another visit to the Braves museum. Not much has changed in the museum over the past few years, with the exception of new members being added to the hall of fame. My youngest son was enjoying the rail car, and while inside I spied it…a home Eddie Matthews jersey, with smaller than usual numbers…because of the large red “Matthews”, with a tiny black border. There was no card or sign identifying the year.

This past Thursday I returned, during the Clemens/Smoltz playoff game (how could anyone miss that?). Entering the museum, I thought to ask the employees present about the Matthews jersey. I was directed to the lady in charge of the museum. She went off and checked, returning to say the jersey was from 1963, as was the Warren Spahn jersey next to it. The front of the Spahn jersey is displayed, so you can’t see the number on the back. I didn’t think to check for the laughing Indian patch that would’ve been on the ’63 Milwaukee jersey.

The lady said that she relies on the uniforms section of the National Baseball Hall of Fame website. I checked that wonderful resource, but did not see a way to see the player’s backs. The internet had several places that said that the Matthew’s jersey in the Braves museum was indeed from 1963, but I could find no other photos on the internet of Milwaukee Braves with names on their backs (My research was quite limited, though).

Perhaps that Selig fellow in Milwaukee knows something.

The HOF site stated that the ’61 ChiSox were the first team to put names on the backs, using a road Nellie Fox jersey as an example.

I did notice a photo of Milwaukee Brave Roy McMillan, wearing glasses. Seems like in the late 60’s, lanky Atlanta reliever Cecil Upshaw wore glasses his first few years with the club…as did utility player Sonny Jackson, who lately has been a coach for the Giants and Cubs, tagging along with ex-teammate Dusty Baker.

Monday, October 17, 2005

weekend ramblings

We had seven at practice...Nathan and Joe had something come up. We did a lot of hitting, in the gage and soft toss, and worked on making infield outs with guys running the bases. It clouded up and got dark early, so we didn't have long. We got some work in, and I think they had fun as well.

As you could tell from my novel, everyone contributed today. Everyone reached base and scored except Russell, who did reach base twice, in addition to his two putouts and assists. Russell or Curtis could've gotten the game ball, but after his big hit to win the game, I gave it to Mark Allen. On the way home Will thought he had gotten one earlier, but I couldn't remember that.

Here at work we like to eat lunch at the old rail station in old downtown Norcross...called the Norcross Station. Railroad theme, certainly not high brow. Open for lunch or supper...

We all thought Jenny would 'retire' from teaching now that their youngest had graduated from home-school high school (now he's a freshman at Tech). But she got a contract...teaching up at the Johnson Ferry school for home-schoolers. Ceil is threatening to send Will up there in January. He and Anna have taken classes there in the past.

While painting Friday afternoon I was blaring the TV, listening to Andy's Defining Moments message that I had to lead the discussion on that night. I found the questions and wrote them down. Since we had enough talkers there, it went well. The last two meetings have had real good discussions.

After Will's game I typed up an extra long recap for the head coach, since he missed the exciting game. Will had a teammate over, and we all went to see Sky High…not too bad for a teen/high school movie. Wild about Jason Collier. I saw it Sat evening at Moe’s, on the TV crawl of a college football game. That’s where we watched the end of the USC game. I was rooting for the Irish, to better UGA’s chances in the BCS. We took Allen home, near Kennesaw Mountain. After church Sunday Will and I took a van load of furniture to Macon, for my dad to sell. Arrived at my parent's house just in time to see the Falcons' game winning field goal. Will watched most of the NLCS game there. Kroger had gas for $1.469, so I filled up.

Almost finished painting the playhouse, but there's still caulking to do. Perhaps tonight when Ceil goes off with the girls. Looks like we'll be going to the party…hopefully there will be costumes ready. My kids seem to think that parents need to be in costume…is this true? I can always wear a baseball jersey.

Don't be like me. After an email two weeks ago asked my Myers Briggs score, so without thinking I looked it up, took the test, and replied back. On the way home, I got to thinking…was the Myers Briggs comment a way of saying I was way off on something I’d said, maybe a Braves opinion? And by replying without getting it, I had further incriminated myself as being even more na├»ve! I was mad at myself for replying so thoughtlessly…I had missed the slam! So I was chasing rabbits in my head. The Myers Briggs comment came out of the blue, and since I didn’t know what it was, I googled it. It all became clear when he said the group was taking it…I had gotten all worked up over nothing. I laughed at myself for getting all worked up!

No big news with us, though we’re resisting getting too involved at the Wednesday night activities at the big church around the corner. Anna has ballet two days a week. Will’s baseball is winding up this month. In a desperate move, they made me assistant coach! Matthew enjoys first grade, but has a front tooth that needs pulling. He is his usual adventurous self.

Ceil, Nancy, and the kids went hiking last Friday at a nearby state park.

Jim had built one for his daughters and started another, had it in his mom’s basement, had to move it, and decided to give it to us. Should have it up and finished in a few weeks. Last week Anna painted most of it herself! (I assisted). I’m concerned the doorway won’t be big enough for lawnmowers, etc.

Speaking of, Will has been spending his money on…landscaping equipment. He’s helped our friend’s son with his small business, caught the bug, and bought himself a gas powered blower. Passed out flyers in the neighborhood. Gets lots of practice in our yard. Wants an edger for Christmas. Dad is proud.

walk-off victory

Saturday's Dodgers game against Kennesaw was too exciting. The Reds were a bunch of solid players, but even without Christian and Alex, the Dodgers were capable of winning, if they played a good game. Both teams played with nine players.

Allen struck out their best hitter to lead off the game. The next hitter hit a Texas League single, just out of shortstop Kurt 's reach. The third batter grounded one just out of second-baseman Russell' s reach, but the cleanup hitter popped out to Mark at first. A walk loaded the bases, but Allen struck out the next hitter to end the inning.

Allen and Will both singled to lead off the bottom of the first. After Mark struck out, Garrett grounded it hard up the middle. Allen took off home from third, before the pitcher stabbed the ball. Allen tried to avoid the catcher, but was tagged out on a close play. I wish I could've held him at third. Kurt struck out to end the threat.

Kennesaw scored three unearned runs in the second. Allen got the first two batters out, and the third hitter grounded sharply to Kurt, now playing second. The ball took a nice bounce, but Kurt, expecting a lower bounce, missed it. The leadoff hitter nailed a payoff pitch deep into right-center. Curtis chased it down, but the hitter circled the bases for an easy homer. The next hitter hit it over Curtis' head in center, but was held to a double. Will went deep in the hole to field the next grounder, but made an ill-advised, off balance throw nowhere close to first, and two runners scored.

Russell led off the bottom of the second with a walk. Since he was catching, Kurt ran for him, and stole second. He took third on Curtis' groundout, but Joe struck out. With two out and Nathan up, I told Kurt to go for home if the ball got away from the catcher, an unlikely event, given the solid battery. But the ball did get away, and Kurt scored on a close play.

In the third the batter dribbled the ball out in front of the plate. Catcher Russell scooped it up and looked to first, then back at the runner on third, who had ventured too far down the line. The runner from second arrived at third base, and Russell ran the ball all the way back to third and tagged out the runner. With two on, the dangerous leadoff hitter hit another ball deep into the outfield. This time Curtis was there, making a nice running catch to kill the rally.

Allen had thrown 65 pitches, 23 in the third inning alone. Thirty-seven strikes, 28 balls, four strikeouts, two walks, five hits, only one earned run...a nice outing.

Down three runs in the bottom of the third, the Dodgers only scored once. Will singled to left, stole second and third, and scored when Garrett reached on an error.

The momentum started to change in the fourth, as Will got three outs on seven pitches, including a three pitch strikeout for out number three. Before that, Russell had fielded two grounders at second-base for the first two outs.

After Russell's leadoff popout, Curtis hit a line drive single to right. He hit it so hard I was afraid the rightfielder was going to throw him out at first. Curtis reached second on Joe's dropped third strike. Nathan walked, and both runners advanced on a passed ball. I was worried about Allen, as he was swinging off-balance as he fouled off two. But then he drove a ball over the right-fielder's head for a triple, his best hit of the year. On the play the ball got away from the catcher, and Allen scored as well. Will walked and again stole second and third, and Mark walked as well. Garrett's single scored Will and advanced Mark to third. Then Kurt swung, dribbling the ball out in front of the plate. The catcher scooped it up and threw wildly past first, allowing both runners to score. Russell walked, but the first-baseman made a great play to rob Curtis of a double down the line.

Things were looking good...up 8-4 with ten minutes to go, and the bottom four in the order up. But after a groundout, Will walked two and hit one, loading the bases for Kennesaw's best hitter, who promptly singled to right. The next batter also dumped a single to right, tying the game. I had a chance to talk to Will at the foul line when the other coach called time, telling him to hang in there. The runner on first took on the first pitch on a steal of second. Kurt moved over to take Allen's throw, but the batter swung, grounding it right where Kurt had been. The next hitter also hit a grounder through the hole between third and short, and kept rolling, allowing the batter to reach second. Will was starting to hang his head, so I paid him a visit to encourage him, trying to lighten his mood. He was making good pitches, but was falling behind in the count, allowing the hitters to look for their pitch. He allowed an easy grounder to short, but Kurt let it go through his legs. After a walk, I changed pitchers.

Six runs had scored, and there were two on and still only one out. As Garrett warmed up, I was out there, still encouraging Will. Kurt asked who was playing where, so I moved Kurt to third, with Will at short. Garrett's first pitch was lined low into the hole, well out of Kurt's reach. Will extended his body fully and speared it...inches off the ground, an amazing catch. He stood up, and had all the time in the world as he tossed the ball to Russell covering second, doubling off the runner to end the inning.

Still, things looked bleak, as Kennesaw led 10 - 8. But Joe lined a single into center, and Nathan walked. I didn't give the take sign to Allen or Will, but both walked, bringing us within a run. During a meeting on the mound, I spoke with Allen and Nathan, the runners on second and third, noting how shallow the centerfielder was playing.

I wanted Mark to take, but forgot to give the sign. He swung and missed a low pitch for strike one. Mark had a tough day so far, twice striking out swinging. But he drilled the next pitch into leftfield, driving in Nathan to tie the game. Allen rounded third just as the ball got to the leftfielder, who didn't come up with it cleanly. The throw came home, but Allen scored easily. The team ran out and mobbed Mark. Dodgers win a thriller, 11-10!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Brave fixes

Watched the first two innings Sunday, then Jim came over and we worked on the playhouse we're building until about dark. Will would come out with updates, and the game ended as we were cleaning up, so I missed the whole thing. I knew that with Farnsworth gone, then Reitsma, that anything could happen as the game wore on, and the home team had a big advantage. I could only imagine how many players were used up by both teams. Sounds like the Braves were in better shape than Houston. Didn’t realize until Monday that Clemens pitched the last three innings.

Mazzone probably has input on the pitching decisions...people forget that. It’s easy to second guess, but most times people leave out big facts from their ‘opinions’…like you said, they’re upset about no offense in the extra innings, when they were up five with five outs to go, or even that they should’ve let Hudson go the whole game, when he was already pitching on short rest.

I think a purist would look at the overall game, the entire series, the overall team (injuries/roster/budget/etc), the overall season, the overall MLB, and see how the Braves have been better off than a vast majority of teams. Replace Cox? With who…Pendleton, or anyone else, could fall flat on their face. Nothing’s perfect. The Yankees aren’t doing much better…is anyone?

Some say..."those in charge would see that this is a team on the brink, and they'd make the necessary moves to improve -- maybe picking up an ace set-up man and one more quality starter. But we're talking about the Braves here…They don't have unlimited funds…" Easy to forget all the ace / all-star pickups…Kolb, Farnsworth, Hudson this year, and Hampton & Reitsma before that.

And..."Maybe we Braves fans won't know what we had until it's gone. But at this point, I think a majority of us are willing to take that chance and find out." Accurate, but a majority?

I don’t think there are easy answers. I’d like to study/compare the Braves to all the other teams. Below you tossed out 12 ideas, and those aren’t the only questions that need to be addressed for next year. Sports changes so much from year to year…think of all the changes just with this season. Smoltz start, Hudson’s injury/slow start, Brower, Thompson, Hampton…just the good things that happened with the pitchers, in the face of all the bad things.

Francoeur's Guerrero impression is starting to drive me crazy. He gets a pass here in 2005, I keep telling myself. Before his triple, after going after the first pitch two of the previous times up, he takes the first pitch…a strike down the middle. Then he swings at the next pitch, a ball in the dirt.

I had always thought that the continuous turnover of players over the years had some sort of effect in the way they got to the Series much more in the early part of this run. People forget how close they were in 91 and 96. Chipper and Andruw have upped their level of play.

Painted a bunch Monday and Tuesday…Anna did too. This week I’m trying to work a little and paint in the afternoon, so I’m behind on all my Braves post-mortems and little-league stats, and the rest of my little world I’ve created. You think the Braves have problems…Will doesn’t wear the Hawks stuff I got him. Imagine that!

Third Jackets game

Will played with Henry’s green Pony team, the Yellowjackets, again last night. They beat the Blue Jays in the fog at Powder Springs, 16 – 4. The Jackets started the game with nine players. Will caught the first four innings, and did a good job handling pitcher Justin, who threw many in the dirt as well as high.

Will was the leadoff hitter and reached base the first two times up. In the first inning he stole second and third base on the first two pitches, taking a big lead, a big jump, and stealing the base standing up. The next pitch was grounded to third, and Will scored on the play. In the second Will reached on an error, took second on a groundout, and scored from second on Jared’s single to center.

Will led off the fourth and tried to bunt the first pitch of the inning. He fouled it off his foot, but the umpire ruled it a fair ball. The catcher picked the ball up with one hand, and tagged Will with his other hand. The umpire called Will out, so the catcher threw the ball back to the pitcher. Realizing his mistake, the umpire told the pitcher to throw Will out at first base! So the ump made three mistakes on one play.

In the fifth Will drove the ball over the centerfielder’s head for a run scoring double. Later Will broke for third on an attempted steal. The pitch was grounded to short, and when the throw went to first, Will continued running, scoring from second on the infield groundout.

Will played shortstop the final two innings. With one out in the last inning, and runners on first and second, the second-baseman charged in and snagged a soft hit in the air. He then tossed to Will at second to double off the runner to end the game. Had there been no outs, Will could have easily tagged out the runner from first for a triple play.

Will’s Dodgers play at ten on Saturday, and after that game he’ll probably pull on the green Jackets jersey for their game at noon.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Rebuilding Year

Most days, if I tune to 680, I am reminded how unlistenable it is. But yesterday the author of the AJC article on the postseason roster was on there…Dave O’Brien, who Belue called ‘a friend of the show”. O’Brien was giving Kincaid a hard time, as well as defending the Braves. But he conceded the Astros strengths and noted that they had four players with more than 24 homers. O’Brien was where I heard the ‘best record since June’ line. He also said it's unfair to bash attendance when the working fans get two days notice as to when the game will be played, and then it's an afternoon game, as well as the no titles since 91 deal.

Not many afternoon drive options on the radio dial…any suggestions? I’m not a big music guy.

When we went to the Phillies game, near the end of Braves BP the Philly pitchers came out to throw in front of us in left field. Wagner stood out, not so much for his small stature, but because he seemed to be throwing hard from his first throw. I wanted to holler at him something about coming to play in Atlanta, but he never came close.

I went and took this test…

Certainly not a lock that the Braves will beat the Astros. In addition to their dominant starting pitching, Houston also has a great closer. Smoltz is hurting, as well as Boyer. Estrada's back is still hurting, and Francoeur is only hitting .225 after his first big month. The bullpen, outfield, and catcher position were overhauled in the middle of the year, and the pen is still quite unreliable. And the Astros have the MLB's best record since June. Even if they beat the Astros, then they must face the Cards, owners of the baseball's best record.

If the Braves don't win the World Series, no one will remember that they weren't picked to make the playoffs, or that they easily won the division despite all the injuries: Jordan, C Jones, Mondesi, Smoltz, Hampton, Thompson, Furcal, Estrada, Franco, Hudson, Boyer, Powell, Devine, Perez. Francoeur even missed some time, and didn't Ramirez miss some starts as well? They won playing 18 rookies, most of whom were called up from Double A a few months into the season. And the Braves' payroll is smaller than most of the other playoff teams.

Rob's take...this was a rebuilding year. A losing season for most teams, but the Braves won 90 games and another division title. Since the 95 Series win, twenty-two teams haven't won the title, and would surely trade places with Atlanta.

Sure would like to go to Thursday's game two, with two future Hall of Famers on the mound. Will's team is practicing. I'm the assistant, and I've missed a few practices already. Matthew wants to go, and Friday's his birthday.

Dodgers Game Five

Will’s Dodgers beat the other Mt. Paran team for the fourth straight time Saturday, this time by a 9 – 4 score.

Having won all their previous meetings (and with another game Monday night), Coach Chris rested Will in the Saturday game, giving others some work on the mound. Will played shortstop for all but one inning, and handled every chance in the field. He threw two runners out at first, and had a putout at second base. He caught one inning.

Batting second as usual, Will grounded out to first a checked swing and popped out to second. In the third he hit a hard grounder that the shortstop couldn’t handle, and later stole second base. With two-out and a weak hitter coming up, Will was waved home from second on a short single to left, but the perfect throw beat Will home by several steps.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Dodgers game six

Will’s Dodgers beat a tough Mariners team in Powder Springs last night, 10 – 7. As I had suspected, Will was given the nod as the starting pitcher. The first pitch of the second inning was grounded back to the mound, and Will threw the batter out at first. The next pitch was popped up, and Will made the catch for the second out. The third batter reached on the shortstop’s error, but was thrown out stealing on the first pitch. Will retired the side on six pitches! With the game close throughout, Will pitched the first four innings…tying his longest stint of his career. It was encouraging to see him work through what to do in his head…if a pitch missed the strike zone, you could see him reminding himself to come through and release the ball out in front of his body. Will said that when a Mariner hit an off-speed pitch hard, it made him buckle down mentally and vowed not let it happen again. Indeed, after that the only ball hit out of the infield was a bloop single. The Mariners only had nine players show, so Will faced the meat of the order three times. Will stranded four Powder Springs runners. Will finished with five strikeouts, and the victory upped his record to 5 – 1. Will leads the team in every pitching category, including innings pitched and fewest runs allowed per inning (ERA). In the fifth inning Will played shortstop, and handled his one grounder flawlessly, throwing out the runner at first. He leads the team in assists, and has committed the least number of errors (one, in a practice game). Will continues to hit the ball hard, but right at people. In the first the pitcher made a nice play to field Will’s sharp grounder up the middle. He also had a bases loaded walk, and took second on a single, then third on a wild pitch, but he was stranded there. After every game Coach Chris and I put our heads together on who should get the game ball. I made a couple of suggestions, but Chris felt strongly that Will should get the award. While the girls stayed home to shop for Matthew’s birthday, Matthew tagged along to the game, and entertained the Mt. Paran crowd. Halfway through the game, while playing behind the bleachers, he accidentally flipped his sandal onto an adjoining field. After the game I had an umpire track it down. Matthew had come based on the promise of a stop at Burger King, for a beloved kid’s meal. With no time before the game, we stopped afterwards. We got our order, but had to go back in, as the toy had been left out of the bag. Then Matthew wanted to trade toys (they graciously gave him a second one). Since the shake machine was down, we made a second stop at Wendy’s, for Will’s promised ice cream. Then Matthew found mustard on his burger…bad for him / good for Will. So we made a third fast food stop, at McDonalds. We secured a Happy Meal, then I realized I’d forgotten to hold the mustard. Matthew wanted McNuggets anyway, so I had to go back and make a switch. Eventually we made it home, but the girls were asleep in bed.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Dodgers game four

Will’s Dodgers fell flat Thursday night, losing 10 – 3 way out at Hobgood Park in Cherokee County. They fell behind 6 – 0 in the first, then made nine errors in the last five innings.
They only managed two true base hits all night, so both the offense and defense fell flat the same night.

Will was the starting pitcher and struck out the leadoff hitter. He had to come out of the game after just four batters, as his back was hurting. Unknown to me, it had started hurting in practice on Tuesday, and Coach Chris didn’t want to take any chances.

Later he played an inning in left field and one at third base, but had no balls hit to him.

After striking out in the first, Will walked his next time up, in the 4th inning. He advanced to second and took third on a wild pitch, still with no outs. The next three batters were unable to put the ball in play, and Will was stranded there at third.

In the final inning Will grounded one hard to deep short. The throw came in high, arriving at the same time as Will. The large first-baseman stretched high to his left and made the catch. Will, running hard, tried to avoid him. There was a minor collision and both players fell to the ground. The base umpire looked to see if the first baseman held on to the ball, ready to call Will out. Though the ball was not dropped, the plate ump consulted with the base ump, ruling that Will was safe. Again Will made it to third, but with the bases loaded, the last two batters couldn’t drive any more runs in.

The sore back means Will won’t play three games Saturday, as he was asked to play an afternoon doubleheader in Powder Springs. Hopefully he’ll be able to contribute in the Dodgers noon game against Henry’s YellowJackets.