Monday, June 19, 2006

Schilling vs. Smoltz

On the way to Kroger Sunday afternoon I glanced at the clock, and noted the Turner Field gates were opening for the 8 pm Braves – Red Sox game. It would be nice to relax and watch some of the game on ESPN. But when I got home, Will game running out in his red Braves jersey. We had tickets!

Our friends the Stubbs had two tickets available, so we hurried downtown. Was tired as we were, I might’ve considered turning them down, but it was Curt Schilling pitching against John Smoltz, the home game of the year. I knew the stands would be full of Boston fans, so I wore my royal blue Hank Aaron-era Braves jersey for the first time. We had fun with the Boston fan sitting next to us the first five innings, several rows behind the Braves dugout. The rest of the game we sat with the Stubbs, behind the Red Sox dugout, just closer.

The number of Red Sox fans in the standing room only crowd was amazing. For a while I thought there were many more Sox fans, until the Braves fans began cheering themselves, letting the Boston fans know whose house it was. Got to see all-stars David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez hit home runs.

Before Sunday games Little Leaguers run out to the positions in the field, to await the Braves before the first inning. A little girl ran out to left field…and kept running. Everyone was laughing and pointing, and it took me a while to find her…standing next to the fence. Her dad was in centerfield, waving for her to come closer. She would only take one step at a time. She was still near the warning track when the Braves took the field. Rookie Scott Thorman was playing his first ever major league game. He ran to his position, took a knee, and gently waved for the girl to come to him. She finally made it.

The JumboTron showed another little girl in rightfield, getting Jeff Francoeur’s autograph. Francoeur gave her a hug. His 7th inning home run put the Braves ahead 5-3, but the bullpen blew it again, and they lost 10-7. At least management isn’t sitting pat…they’ve brought in four new players in the past few days, including three pitchers.

There was a special 6th-inning stretch for Father’s Day, and they played ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’. They had the 7th-inning stretch as well, when they played the Sunday standard ‘God Bless America.’ Got home around 1 am, listening to Miami beat Dallas in OT on the way.

Thursday Game

Will’s Shaw Park Cougars lost their game in Roswell Thursday night 8 – 5, though Will had another good game. Will batted second, and his first time up popped the ball high in the air, and Roswell was able to make the catch.

In the third he grounded a 2 – 2 pitch to the shortstop, who fielded the ball cleanly at the edge of the infield grass, and make a quick throw to first. But Will hustled all the way, and beat the throw, for an infield hit. All night the pitchers were enthralled with throwing over to first to hold the runners. Eventually the throw over to keep Will close got away from the first baseman, and Will took second. He reached third on a passed ball, and scored when the catcher tried to get Will straying too far off third. The throw went past the third baseman, and Will scored easily.

In the fifth Will walked on four pitches, and again stole second. He reached third on an infield groundout, and scored on a base hit. He was the only player on his team to score two runs

He also had another good game in the field. The leadoff batter in the bottom of the first lined the ball up the middle, and Will caught it on the run in centerfield. The next hitter hit another liner to center, but this time it was lower. Will considered making a diving Andruw Jones attempt, but he wisely played it on the bounce.

In the second the batter hit the ball to the fence in right-center. Will ran over and threw to second quick and hard, holding the batter to a single.

Will played shortstop the last four innings, throwing out one runner on a grounder by charging and making a quick throw. He made another spectacular catch of a grounder going to his right deep in the hole, and almost threw out the runner.

He played well the entire game, but I noticed that between pitches he was dragging. Anna told me that he had stayed up just about all night the night before, spending the night at a friend’s house. Hopefully he was recovered for Friday night’s 8:30 game up in Jasper.

Will’s long time small group leader at North Point Community Church got to see him play for the first time. We had chatted after the service this past Sunday, and he again expressed interest in seeing Will play. Thursday afternoon at work I remembered this, and sent him a quick email. The park happened to be right down the road from his office, and he was able to see Will play. It turned out that Dan Callahan was in the same grade as me down the road at Warner Robbins High, and we were probably at the same events several times almost thirty years ago.

Six Flags, etc.

Friday afternoon I hustled home to take Will to his game up in the north Georgia mountains. I quickly changed clothes, kicking off my shoes next to the bed. The game didn’t start until 8:30, so it was 11:30 before we got home. Anna was spending the night at her friend Mary Lee’s house.

Saturday we left the house at 8 am, headed back to Jasper for a 10 am game. It ended at noon, but with a 4pm game scheduled in nearby Ball Ground, it didn’t make since to drive home and back. I could’ve worked on my laptop or gone sightseeing, but instead we ate lunch with the team in Ellijay. After a postgame Dairy Queen, we got home at 7 pm, exhausted.

Ceil arrived shortly after us, having been shopping and running errands all day. I had to make one more run to Publix. The kids carried the pieces of the new bunk bed upstairs, and pretty much put it together themselves, but we all got to bed later than I wanted.

Sunday we were out the door headed to church by 8 am. If you missed North Point, you might want to go online get a taste of the speaker…Holly, a 25-sh girl who works with the youth, told about her rocky relationship with her dad. Then Candy sang the Lindsey Lohan song ‘confessions of a broken heart / daughter to father’, which fit perfectly. In two weeks Andy said he’s telling ‘part’ of his story…could be when his dad got divorced and Andy left FBC Atlanta, just before NPCC came together. He’ll probably gloss over that and go into detail how they got back together relationally.

Afterwards we went to Six Flags with the Earharts. I was so tired that I didn’t mind standing in line. That’s where something interesting happened.

Matthew and I were alone in the slow-moving line for the mini-mine train roller-coaster. Matthew was well behaved, not bouncing around too much. After a while I handed him the Six Flags map to look at, and he studied it for a while. Eventually I picked him up and held him, as he likes me to do. I hadn’t paid much attention to the Mexican family in front of us with a stroller, but after I had held Matthew for a while, the lady pushing the stroller turned around and asked if Matthew wanted a Coke. They had a small cooler in the stroller, as well as other soft drinks outside the cooler. To thank her, I gave her one of my coupons for five 2-liter Cokes. Then she gave me a Mountain Dew. It was the classic Coke commercial, strangers coming together sharing a Coke.

Hanging out with his buddy Daniel, Matthew also rode the log flume, airplanes, rocking boat, hot air balloons, monster plantation, and the carousel. They played in the new Skull Island water section too. Lee and I were able to cool off just standing near all the water. Anna and Will rode different rides, but also played in the water.

We got home around six. Tech was winning in the 9th with one out and two strikes to the next batter, so I flipped over to see Mickleson leading the U.S. Open, before making a quick Kroger run. Then Will and I went to the Braves game. Got home around 1 am, listening to Miami beat Dallas in OT on the way.

Dressing for work this morning, there were my shoes, right where I left them. Seemed like minutes before.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Diet Coke Code

Back at the first of the year I held out on my CPA friend about a sweepstakes I was entering. Coke celebrated the Winter Olympics by putting codes on their product. Entering these codes on-line paired you with an Olympic event. If the USA medaled in that event, you won five two-liter bottles. Since no purchase was necessary, you could get codes on line. Most every day from mid January until the end of February, I got the maximum three codes for both Ceil and me.

Since college I have loved to drink Coke, and since Diet Coke came out it has been my drink of choice. Many days it would be the only liquid I would drink…morning, day, and night. Of my habits, drinking Diet Coke is among my worst. At restaurants I could down four glasses during a meal. Then in the first half of 2005 I drastically curtained my Diet Coke consumption, and along with not eating to excess, lost almost 35 pounds. I fell off the wagon after the New Year, and was back on my Coke habit. I have also collected souvenir Coke bottles and cans, just short of it being an obsession.

I always remember reading in the Georgia Tech newspaper how the student sportswriter was selected to attempt the halftime half-court shot during a men’s basketball game. He made the shot…and won a year’s supply of Coke. His prize was delivered to his apartment all at once, and he often wrote of the stacks of Cokes piled in his apartment. How cool, I thought.

Once the Olympics began, the USA began winning medals. Ceil and I began getting emails that we had won the five two-liters. They kept coming and coming, and by the end of the contest, we had accumulated well over three hundred bottles. Could this be too good to be true? The rules only stated that the certificates would be mailed after mid-April. Not wanting to count chickens before they were hatched, I didn’t get my hopes up. Perhaps Ceil and I would only get one award each.

In early May one envelope arrived in the mail, with a single coupon, good for five two-liters. Ceil knows that I often enter sweepstakes, but I never fill her in, because so few are won. Now I told her the number of envelopes that could come, though I still had my doubts. Was that it? But a few more came the next day. She began calling after the mail had arrived, with the daily tally of Coke coupons. They began to arrive in droves. Before they quit coming, it seemed like I got more coupons than I had expected, based on the number of emails we had received. Now that I think about it, some of the emails told of multiple wins on a particular day.

Now the question was, what to do with all these Cokes? Drink them, for sure, but all the coupons must be redeemed by the end of August. I have been bringing Cokes to all the parties and small group meetings we’ve attended, as well as keeping several brands in the fridge at work for the office and plant. We always drink lots of Cokes at the beach in July, so I told my father-in-law, the main grocery shopper, that the Cokes are on me this year.

Seems too good to be true, right? What possible downside is there? Diet Cokes in hand, I started pounding them down, more than ever. But for the first time in my life, for some reason I began getting a funny feeling in my head when I drank a lot of Coke. I also began getting headaches, another first time occurrence. Once this well of Diet Coke runs dry I can see me jumping off the wagon, drinking water instead.

The other big downside is the incredibly laborious task of redeeming the coupon. Even though I’ve almost exclusively redeemed all the coupons at the Krogers nearest home and work, often using the same cashier, it always stupefies the cashier when they try to process the coupon. Often they must ask for help, and it becomes a longer process. Once the bar code is scanned, the screen says to key in the amount of the five Cokes. Sometimes they want to key in the price for one, and I have to give a gentle reminder.

So far I have redeemed 19 coupons for 95 two-liters, in little over a month. I try to purchase only one other item, as I can always make another Kroger run later in the day. They go fast…right now I only have about seven stocked up at home.

One benefit of getting them at Kroger: the dollar value of the Cokes count toward the $100.00 in spending needed to get $0.10 off a gallon at the Kroger Fuel Center.

Another benefit is my next small obsession, similar to getting the three codes a day to enter in this Olympic contest. The two-liter Cokes all come with a red cap…with another code! These can be entered at www.mycokerewards.com to be redeemed for more merchandise. I have my eye on a nice pair of Addidas for me or Will. I have about 400 points so far…well on my way!

Bobby Dews Strikes Again

Last night Matthew made up his own word search puzzle.
Most of the extra letters were X’es, or numbers.
There were only five words to find…
TACOS
ARE
GOOD
NO
GREAT

He said he didn’t realize it, but there were 8 other words as well…
XMEN
CURRENT
BOBBYDEWS
ME
YOU
AND
EVERYONE

Not long ago Betemit hit a HR into the RF bullpen, and you could see Bobby Dews near his usual spot, raising both arms signaling touchdown.

Last night I had the game on off and on, between washing the car and taking Anna and Matthew to the pool. When Helms hit the game-tying HR, I was on the phone with the Coleys. They were out on a date and were wondering if I had the showtimes for the Picture Show. I felt like I was Kramer on the phone, acting like a recording of the movie times. I should’ve hopped on the internet, as I have it bookmarked, but instead unsuccessfully rifled through the garbage looking for the AJC theatre listings. When Helms hit it, I decided not to give Bryan an update on the game.

Saw both managers warming up their pitchers from the previous inning in the 9th, only to change before the first batter. I wonder if that won’t be employed more throughout the year, though both managers had legit (and different) reasons. It would be a long shot to execute three consecutive bunt plays, using three guys who had hardly bunted at all throughout the year (or career). Had Renteria’s bunt worked, they still would’ve walked Chipper, and not much would’ve changed. Missed the Remlinger/Chipper play.

There’s no big problem with the offense, they’re scoring runs most of the time…and several hitters have yet to get going. Five should be enough to win…at least it used to be. In the 80’s the AJC had a weekly corner devoted to answering reader questions on Braves and baseball. I got published at least twice, once asking about quality starts, and again about AFC upper deck HRs.

Took my laptop to the pool last night, and put a big dent into my essay on the Coke sweepstakes.

Will's Tuesday Game

Will played with the Shaw Park Cougars Tuesday night, and had a good game. They played out in west Cobb, the first time he has played at Oregon Park…a nice wooded park near Barrett Parkway and Highway 120, two congested roads. I took Burnt Hickory Road, a scenic shortcut through the Kennesaw Mountain National Park.

Will played errorless ball at shortstop and centerfield, throwing out several runners at first, and almost turning a double play. The right-handed pitcher had fielded a grounder on the first base side of the mound. I figured he would get the sure out at first, but he made a nice play throwing to Will to get the lead runner at second. Will came across the bag and quickly fired to first. The runner would’ve been clearly out had the first-baseman stretched just a little. As it was, the seasoned base umpire hesitated with his call, and for the second time in the game looked to the plate umpire for help. This solicited shouts from our side of the field (ok, including me), so the base umpire called the batter safe at first, seemingly to spite our shouts.

On one play Will fielded a grounder at short. The runner on first had been stealing second on the pitch, so with no play at second, Will threw the batter out at first. The runner rounded second and hustled to third, so the first-baseman threw across the infield to third. The throw was wild, bouncing past the third-baseman. After Will had thrown the ball, he had immediately turned around and hustled over to back up the throw…a real heads up play.

In center Will caught at least three fly balls, including one he had to run along way for. He also ran down two balls hit to the fence in the outfield gap. The first was in right-center, and he fired the ball in to second on the fly, almost getting the batter out at second. The shortstop couldn’t handle Will’s hard throw. Later Will threw a hard one-hopper from the fence in left-center to third.

Batting cleanup, Will reached base twice. He led off the fourth with the walk and quickly stole second, sliding in headfirst (because they allow it, he said). For the second time in the game, with no out the coach gave a runner on second the steal sign, both times resulting in a caught stealing. But Will had gotten a great jump and slid in head first, his hands wrapped around the bag and his head on top of the bag. It appeared obvious the tag was applied on top of the bag, after Will had first touched the base safely. Some even said the ball had been bobbled. The base umpire called him out, positioned at a bad angle, behind the mound, his view obstructed.
In the sixth Will was hit with the pitch. He scored from first on the next boy’s double to the left field corner.

Today Will plays in Roswell, and up in Jasper on Friday and Saturday. Travel ball, here we come!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

More Baseball

RFK does look very much like AFC. I have my list of stadiums and arenas. Some I’ve only driven or walked past…different category, of course. As a kid we drove past Arrowhead and Kauffman Stadiums on a Sunday afternoon when Vida Blue was pitching for the A’s…packed house, and it opens up to the interstate. The Mainers are the only MLB team I haven’t seen…I keep a list for Will and Matthew, as well. That’s why I want to see Toronto next week.

While not a Woody Allen relationship movie, Eight Below was good not just because of the story about the dogs, but also because of the beautiful scenery (Antarctica and Oregon), and the dynamic between the male and female leads. Kids like it, and there's a little for couples as well.

Will plays in Roswell tomorrow, and Jasper on Friday and Saturday. Travel ball, here we come. Ceil is still not hip to going to Cooperstown, and I think it's too late anyway. One day I'll write my travel ball thesis.

More from the CPA...I was doing some research on "Quality Starts (QS)" <3> earlier. In a study I found on a paper written about the stat, from 1984 to 1991, if a pitcher had a QS, the team won approx. 67% of the time. People rip on the stat, but I think it is named incorrectly - it should be named something more like "a start good enough to give your team a chance to win", but I guess Quality Start is more concise.

What I am interested in is the correlation between QS and wins. Looking at the Braves and Mets stats this year: Atlanta has 25 QS and 30 wins NY has 36 QS and 40 wins In QS/Games Started, Smoltz is 9/14, Hudson 7/14, Thomson 3/14, Ramirez, 3/15 and Sosa 3/12 (Davies has 2). Everyone wants to complain about the bullpen, hitting, etc., but I think this is the key.

Moe

One of my favorites died this past Saturday, Moe Drabowski.

Read about his exploits years ago, and had the chance to hang with him for a week at the 1995 Cubs Fantasy Camp. From time to time I’d think about him, and realized the next time I’d hear something about him would be when he passed away. Nice column on SI.com this week…with an interesting photo, modeling the terrible ChiSox unis of the 70’s.

At the Cubs camp he played to his image, bringing in a big snake one day. You could tell by the look in his eyes that his mind was always calculating what fun could next be had. He was the coach of our squad, and went out of his way to get to know the campers…more so than most of the other big-leaguers. He dubbed me “Murf”.

Rest in peace, Moe.

Braves Bits

Braves Bits...Interesting…Reitsma to the DL. That’s also an easy way they could “let go” of Jordan. The 6’8” callup has good stats. Most “experts” don’t mention what my friend the CPA did…the unpredictability of baseball. Today' AJC article was mostly on the mark, talking about how you don’t completely overhaul a business for one bad quarter after 15 successful years, not to bring in high-priced free agents like Baltimore, keep Cox and JS, etc. As much as I’d like Dontrell, we’d only need to get him if they could sign him. Every now and then, an AJC columnist or a national announcer will give the Braves props for the moves they make, but more often I hear “they need to do something!”, forgetting the almost weekly moves that are made.

Guess we should’ve made the Thomson trade with the Pirates in the spring, even though Davies and Horacio have since been hurt. You never know the inner workings of a deal that doesn’t go through…until the book comes out, anyway.

That Giles deal sounds sound…makes sense both for the money and to improve the team. In the off-season people won’t make a big deal about the struggles he’s currently having. While reading the Schultz piece I was thinking about how the CPA thought he’d rebound…I still think he will.

Hadn’t mentioned the Andruw and Chipper player statues. They’re nice in that they’re individually numbered, but the resemblance isn’t that great. Will wants to get all of them, but one is the night before we leave for the beach, and another is on our anniversary.

My CPA friend has such good insight, I don't want it to go to waste. He writes...Smoltz losing to Fla hurt last night. It seems like we are finding new ways to lose. Of couse, you know how unpredictable baseball is, Thomson and Sosa could win the next 2 games and turn the season around. At least we have Hudson, Ramirez and Smoltz going against Boston this weekend. I read in Ken Rosenthal's column on Fox yesterday about how some in Baltimore's management is not happy with Mazzone. They promoted their minor league pitching coach to be the bullpen coach.

No matter what you do, everyone is always wanting that 1 big mid-season trade. I don't think it is that often that you are going to get McGriff for 3 minor leaguers who don't make it and if you are not careful, you may end up trading a John Smoltz for a Doyle Alexander. Even if you do make the trade, who/what is it going to be for?

A position player? They probably could still trade for Craig Wilson, but where would you play him - in a 1B platoon. LF - I don't think the organization is ready to give up on Langerhans / Diaz.

Starting pitching? Do you want to give up a package of kids for Willis, if you don't know if the new management will be willing to spend the money to tie him up long-term. Certainly not Zito, though I am sure Beane would make a deal with JS... outside of those 2, who is available who is available that is a significant upgrade over the group of (choose 3 as your starters) Ramirez, Thomson, Sosa, Davies, James?

Relievers? This is where a move, if any, will be made. They caught lightening in a bottle last year with Farnsworth, but everybody is always looking for more relief pitching, so whatever is out there will command a high price.

Another thing people don't realize, realignment made a big difference for mid-season acquisitions. So many more teams are in contention in July than pre-realignment. It takes a bold GM who is 5 games out of the Wild Card in July and trade their best pitcher for prospects.

More of my misc. ramblings...
Loved reading Staci's recent blog posts. Hers made me jealous, as we could certainly stand for more clearing out. Ceil has been better about clearing out stuff…actually I’ve gotten bad about wanting to keep some of the more classic toys and stuff. Will wants to put everything on his shelves. We’ve gotten into the habit of taking small loads to Goodwill instead of saving up for garage sales…we easily give away the $500.00 max claimable on taxes.

One “fun” thing I’ve done is take clothes to consignment shops. There’s one on East Piedmont near y’all…ReRuns, behind the Walgreens, across from Kroger. Mainly women’s clothes, but they also do men’s, kids, and baby. Pays lots more than yard sales.

Was going to work in Charlotte Friday. I would’ve been ok with going up and back, but Ceil decided to go to her parents. Yesterday afternoon the guy I’m going to see quit, so the trip is off. Ceil may still go. I could stay and work around the house. Will might stay here this weekend and play games TH-FRI-SAT…I was wondering about catching a Boston game Friday had he not been playing. Who is going for the Sox? Will did fine in his game last night.

Lang was in Dallas for games 1 and 2, and now is in Miami. He invited his parents to game 5.

Not exactly what I wanted, but looks like we’re going to Six Flags Sunday with friends.

Saw Hollandsworth in RF for the Indians Sunday night…is he a regular?

There’s been more info published and on the internet since the movie has come out, which I agree is good. I haven’t read much of it, though I have read a lot about the movie and how it jives with the book. The ‘Secrets of the Code’ book I had mentioned a few months ago is exhaustive in it’s detail…it quotes/complies opinions from previous books, like the one involved in the lawsuit against Dan Brown. One co-author of that book wasn’t involved in the suit, and was interviewed on the History Channel.

The Pelicans are in town when we’re at the beach in July

Monday, June 12, 2006

Matthew's Stats

Matthew’s 2006 stats…
Games 16
AB 51
Hits 33
AVG .647
Runs 20
RBI 13
TB 105
2B 5...5th on team
HR 1
SL% .800
He put the ball into play 84% of the time…6th best on the team.
I'd only give the boy a single if the reason he got extra bases was a fielding or throwing error.

Tidbits…
…2 boys hit over .900…and almost a third.
…almost half the team batted over .800
…team batting average was .759
…73% of the team put the ball into play at least 80% of the time.
…the team hit one HR for every 7.6 AB’s…better than Ruth or Bonds.
…Scott hit one HR for every 3.6 AB’s

Johnson Ferry Baptist is having a Andy Griffith Bible Study this summer on Wednesday nights this summer, from 6 – 7:15.

Stranded at Sea!

We had spent a very fun day Friday with some friends at their Lake Burton cabin. As the sun was setting, we decided to take one last boat ride out to the middle of the lake to watch the sun set. As we floated about, we continued to chat, and an old country gospel cassette was played. Warren turned the key to start the engine for the cruise home, but it wouldn’t turn over. He tried several times, with no success. The boat had been working fine all day, and though he had mentioned troubles with the jet-ski and smaller ski boat, no problems were mentioned about this larger vessel. The sun had dropped far below the north Georgia mountains, and as it got darker and darker, I wasn’t sure whether a cell phone was brought on the boat. We were stranded!

Lake Burton isn’t too bad a drive from our house, and we didn’t get up early, but still arrived before 11:00 am. The other family invited up arrived shortly before us. We spent the day riding in the boat, taking turns being pulled on the raft. Anna and Matthew were hesitant at first, but quickly were asking to take more turns. Anna almost fell off her first time, but Ceil was able to pull her back. Lynn McCray, the baseball team mom, got bounced off the raft and turned upside down…but she held on! Luckily she wasn’t hurt.

We also hung around the boat house and watched the kids swim and fish. Anna and Matthew caught their first-ever fish. Matthew was so excited that he quickly handed Jacob the pole and ran up to the cabin to tell Ceil, shouting the whole way. Will caught several fish as well. Will and I both rode the jet-ski as well. We saw the cabins owned by Vince Dooley and Fran Tarkenton, and grilled out burgers and dogs. The McCrays left around four, for their ball game.

Out in the middle of the lake, Warren was checking the engine, and no one had considered how serious the situation was. But with few boats out, we discussed almost jokingly whether we should wave down another boat. It didn’t take much waving…daughter Audrey had barely started waving when the first boat by slowed and turned. A young family stopped (the code of the lake), and gave us a quick tow back to shore.

After eating up most of the leftovers and relaxing some more, we left for home after 10:30. No one had trouble sleeping on the way back.

Perhaps I should write for the National Inquirer…

Other stuff…
…Last night I watched some of Hanks on Inside the Actor’s Studio.
…a dad has copied video DVDs of Matthew’s championship game, and it appears he did it up right. He writes “The video is actually on two DVDs that are approximately one hour each. I have created a menu for each DVD – which breaks it down into chapters for Batting Practice, Each Inning, “The Catch”, Victory Celebration and Awards. I have also added captions, credits and music where it seemed appropriate. The DVDs are on DVD+R media, so you will need a player or computer that can read that format.”
…Sunday: We went to the 10:30 service…I let Matthew sleep late, Ceil and Anna went early to work in her class. The van was conking out at lights, so on the way home I put in some fuel injection cleaner, and it seemed to do the trick. I may have run the tank down too far last Sunday, when I put in over 16 gallons…the most ever.
…Saturday Ceil painted the kitchen and TV area. I cleared stuff out of the way, and did more organizing in the school room. We also have a ways to go.
…Sunday we ate at Moes and went to see Eight Below, missing the Braves game.
…You used to could always count on the Mets to collapse, but it appears they are growing more confident, the more they win. Hopefully the Braves can turn things around and compete for the wild card. Perhaps they’ll try and repeat last year, and bring up the 1B/OF guy from Richmond, and play Betemit more.
...I think the movie will be more understandable/interesting have read the book. Did you re-read the book, or was that the first time? Perhaps they’ll make movies out of Dan Brown’s other books, which are supposed to be good as well. My in-laws have Angels and Demons on CD, hopefully I can listen to it this summer during my commute.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Rain Delay High Jinks

Friday night we went to Lenox and the Peachtree Battle Starbucks. During the rain delay, and Stu/Lemke mentioned on the radio that an unnamed player took the field for warm-ups wearing Matt Diaz’s #23 jersey. Stu pointed this out to the third base coach, who quickly told Stu to be quiet.

I was checking out the Pirates web site over the weekend, since they have the all-star game. It’s tempting me to add them to the trip to see the Reds. The Cards go from Cincy to Pittsburgh, but now Puhols is hurt. Also tempting…the Cooperstown tourney late this month…an old neighbor went a few years ago.

Will’s first Braves jersey was a navy Chipper tee. He wore it a bunch, as did Matthew…so much so that holes were worn into it around the Braves logo. Matthew’s Javy Lopez Braves tee, also handed down from Will, is also pretty ragged. Will’s favorite tees are stained from wearing them all the time, diving, etc……only the ones he doesn’t like / wear get handed down to Matthew.

At the game last Tuesday Will finally became concerned about getting his expensive red jersey dirty. It was so hot I didn’t mention to Matthew about wearing his white polyester jersey…he really hasn’t worn it yet. Sure enough, he was hot and sweaty during BP, but wouldn’t have laughed had I reminded him of one of his favorite jokes…
Q. Why it so cool when San Francisco plays?
A. The stadium is filled with Giant fans!

Sunday afternoon John Watson, the little boy who lived next to us in Morningside, had a high school graduation reception. He was valedictorian at Grady, and is going to Tech to study engineering. At 16 he came in 20th in qualifying for the 2004 US Olympic kayaking team.

His younger brother James pitched a shutout and hit 2 grand slams in the same little league tournament game in Cooperstown...…and came in third in a home run derby involving 64 teams there at Cooperstown. A year or two later he had ACL knee surgery and is no longer playing baseball.

My boss took me to lunch again today. Thursday and Friday we worked through lunch so we wouldn’t have to work Saturday. It’s nice to spend time with him…most of the time we discuss non-work related topics…movies, Christianity, etc. He’s been so focused on solved these mountains of problems that it’s taking up all the time. I’ve had little time to pay attention to other duties. And there have been a lot of lunches with the boss. I think there’s another one tomorrow.

Anna decided she didn’t want to run in the Peachtree Junior Race this past Saturday, and neither Will nor Matthew wanted to run either. Even tempted Will with a round of golf afterwards. They had a birthday party late in the morning they didn’t want to miss.

Went to Johnson Ferry Baptist yesterday…made me appreciate the practicality of most NPCC sermons. On the way out I held the door for a lady. Shortly afterwards Matthew commented out loud “I never want to go to Johnson Ferry again!” The lady laughed, but not as hard as I was on the inside.

Anna’s style is drifty toward the jeans/tees/sandals/boots. She wanted to go to Johnson Ferry, where her friends go, but wasn’t crazy about having to wear a dress. I forgot to notice what girls were wearing, but her two friends were wearing dresses. I didn’t wear a tie or coat, but did tuck my shirt in…Jennifer Cordoza was singing, and her husband had his normal North Point untucked shirt look.
…See Terrance Moore’s column on Chipper and the HOF?
…Steve Nash is married with 2 baby girls? I wasn’t aware!
…Caught me on a day I feel like writing down all this stuff.
…Feel like I’m misspelling more words these days, even with spell check.

Ga Tech: Movin' Into the Nineties!

Interesting and true comment from the new GT AD, when asked if “Tech’s long and storied athletic history give Tech an edge in recruiting?” No, he replied…teenagers don’t have a connection with the past. The article, and seemingly Tech’s entire approach to sports, has always been the “we’re so great…look what we’ve done in the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. The history was great…I love stuff like that…but it certainly doesn’t win games now. Nice to know we’ve got someone running the show who understands what is and isn’t needed.

Last night Ceil and I went to Sam Flax, IKEA, and Atlantic Station. Ceil wanted to get a bunch of small glass frames. When we got home she put several of cutouts in them to hang on our walls. She wants more! Ate a late meal afterwards at the OK CafĂ©. One of Will’s baseball coaches was in the booth behind me, and we had a chat about ball. He’s one I hadn’t had the chance to talk to much, so that was good. the Colt team…15 & 16 year olds, where the competition is really tough. He’s looking forward to Will moving up, but that won’t be this fall! Will is playing for that same Shaw Park squad he played 3-4 games for earlier this spring. They’d like him to go to Cooperstown, but I don’t know if that will work out. Friday we’re going to the lake with friends.

I checked into the AirTran vouchers, talked with an agent…we could’ve gone to SF in September. Since I delayed making plans early, nothing was available in June or August. Now my thinking is to book in December or January for next June, soon after the MLB schedules come out. Ceil wouldn’t mind us all going to NYC in December, but I think the kids wouldn’t like the cold…being outside for extended periods while walking, taking buses/subways/taxis. But I’ve learned a lot more about the process. I had checked flight times, and had hoped to travel similar to how y’all did, in terms of flight times.

Yesterday my boss called me and a coworker in to let us know he’s moving to Orlando. Shouldn’t be a surprise, he has said he wants to return there. He only has a few years left, so the timing is right if he wants the company to take up the tab. He’s been fixing up his Decatur condo, and he’s repeatedly said we need to be ready for when they make our department report to the Atlanta people.

I’ve probably said recently that I was sure my recent raise had more to do with other stuff than the fact I deserved it……the struggling co-worker, now this move. Since I do work for the entire southern division, Atlanta won’t want to be charged with my entire salary, so in the next few weeks I’ll need to work to make sure my future is secure, and that I’m reporting to someone favorable, that I don’t get lost in any shuffle. The Atlanta people are good, as are some Operations/Quality people…that would mean more travel, which wouldn’t be the worst thing.

Most days I exchange emails with a friend on what’s going on with our families and the Braves, and I also swap stories with Lang’s dad. A while ago I figured my parents wouldn’t mind me sending the stuff to them as well. Last week my mom didn’t know who Mia Hamm was…the famous USA soccer player from UNC who married baseball’s Nomar Garrciapara.

Talk Radio Madness

Hear the guy on AM680 yesterday wanting Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton fired? His reasoning…”I know the Braves are leading the league in runs scored, BUT they’re also leading the league in strikeouts.” Isn’t scoring runs what it’s all about?

Seems like the Braves would be real hesitant to move Betemit to 1B or LF, or Chipper to 1B…particularly in the middle of a season. Seems like Pratt has allowed more PB & WP than McCann or Pena would.

The Braves radio announcers had mentioned that James was starting in the minors. Kyle Davies was talking to your buddies on 680 late yesterday. He said his return was ahead of schedule, but he was still a month away. Davies praised Cox for sticking with guys, & Kincaide agreed that he was a good manager. Davies also reminded them of the 6-3 record on the recent road trip.

Buck & Kincaide (& callers) agree that the biggest problem is the bullpen…but every day they announce the starting lineup, wondering what changes will be made, considering the losses over the last week or so. But if there’s no real problem with the offense, why expect changes in the batting order?

There have been changes in the pen…not only the off-season overhaul, but since the season has started. Boyer was officially classified as hurt, as was Davies, Ramirez, McCann, Chipper, Renteria, and Hampton. McBride, Paronto, and Yates were called up, Ray replaced Reitsma as the closer, and a few guys were sent down. They’re getting James ready to start, Horacio is back, McCann back late this week.

Changes have been made almost weekly, and more are planned. People forget that. Buck is like me, acknowledging that Betemit is ready for prime time. He says he needs to take the initiative and practice at first and left…but couldn’t that be considered going behind Cox’s back? Actually, Betemit was taking balls in left last week when I was there, though it didn’t seem serious.

All five of us got Jeff Francoeur bobbleheads at the Rome Braves game not long ago. The likeness isn’t the greatest in the world. May sell one or two on EBay.

The other night we had some friends at the swim meet at the subdivision next to ours. We decided all five of us should walk/run/bike/scooter the two miles to it. It was further than Ceil had remembered. It was going to dark when we went back, and though there wasn't that much traffic, I rode Anna's small bike home (swallowed a bug!) and got the car.

I'm not in shape for the Peachtree! Got the number today in the mail.

There's this big discussion on Ceil's email news group nationwide about VBS: some churches charge a fee to attend VBS...some higher than others, depending on theneighborhood...because some parents figure anything free isn't worth sending their children to.

This morning I caught up some on my famous calendar/scrapbook. Even worked a little on my list of games attended...did 2001 during lunch.

Braves / Nationals June 7th

I always stress going to the weekday Braves games. Wanted to leave work around 2:30, 2:45…3 pm at the latest. Boss called me in to work on a project at 2 pm, so I didn’t leave until 3:15. Left home with the boys right at 4 pm, make a quick run through the Lower Roswell McDonalds drive-thru, and it took 30 minutes to make it to 75…going my best short cut way. Still, even with a stall on the downtown connector, we were in line at 4:55, before the games opened. The same guy was behind us in line last week. I’ve ditched my old free Clark Howard parking spot across the connector and park next to the stadium at the old ballpark lot. Getting out of the car, I realized Matthew hadn’t brought his glove.

We had the same deal as always during BP…Will on the front row, me sitting several rows back, at the end of a row. Francoeur was wandering around the outfield…Will wanted him to sign his jersey, but it was a logistical impossibility. Frenchy picked up a ball, and facing the plate, tossed it high over his head, into the stands…right toward me. I should’ve made a leaping basketball rebound, because the guy in the row in front of me knocked it away…neither of us got it (it bounced to a lady, which was nice). But then a Brave hit a BP HR to the section to my left, so I stood and turned that way, to observe. The ball bounded right, soaring past me. I reached back with my right hand and made a nice outstretched one-handed catch, which brought a few cheers. Matthew was delighted when I handed him the ball. Just a minute later Will reached across his body, in front of a few others, and speared a line drive HR himself.

For the first time, both the balls had green print on them…they were official MLB practice balls, with Selig’s signature…made in China. Aren’t game balls still made in Haiti? Andruw hit a HR off the facing, inches below in 1992 championship flag, the longest ball I’d seen hit. It seemed like he and JF were just trying to hit HRs in BP. Levian Hernandez was having a good time tossing balls into the stands, as was that long-haired Nats reliever. Soriano waved to those calling him while talking to Jorge Sosa. Remlinger chatted with John Wetteland and Mike Stanton. It was fun watching Soriano and Nick Johnson’s sweet swings. In BP Soriano hit most of the balls to RCF. Orr was in CF during BP, charging every ball and throwing home, but he was just amusing himself…seeing where the ball rolled to. Betemit stayed close to the infield, particularly 3B.

Matthew wanted to return to Tooner Field after BP, and he and Will played in the little game with the other kids. Matthew almost hit the ball out of the park, up onto the ramp to the upper deck…much further than the other kids his size. I was amazed. Will had brought his notebook to keep score of the game. We sat in RF, but Matthew and I walked around to the Coke bottle so he could run a little. We sat in a spot where we couldn’t see the Nats CF crash into the wall and get hurt…and they didn’t show a replay. We stayed to the end of the game. During last night’s game, Will decided we’d get one of those 40th anniversary patches to sew on his red jersey sleeve.

I was thinking that same thing yesterday…that while Cox sticks by his players and they win it at the end, other managers (like Larry Bowa, the Phillies and the Mets) make those daily changes. In the meantime, everyone panics when you’re not in first place, winning every game. I shouldn’t let Kincaid get to me (that’s his plan, right?), but after several days of panic over the losing streak, yesterday they weren’t happy about the victory. What will make them happy? It’s not like we haven’t had these same problems the last 14 years…we haven’t led wire to wire every year!

When the Braves hit 8 HR that Sunday afternoon in Chicago, so many were hit that Matthew made a list of who hit them. This was when Will was in Rome, Ceil was napping, and I was off shopping with Anna. Watching by himself, he was “keeping score”!

I’m taking off tomorrow…we’re going up to Lake Burton…a Little League family is up there for the week.

As my boss had suspected, this morning when a guy called from one of our Florida offices, he mentioned the upcoming move. When I boss leaves, I will get more questions about the reports that I send out.

Last December Ceil went to the same optometrist’s office we had before, in network. But a different doctor, who was out of network. Only cost $175.00 extra. I’ve used up my Flexible Medical Spending amount…next year I’ll know to raise the amount.

Saw a Georgia plate…NWOLEANS

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Orr's Oars

You probably saw McCann’s cans, but at the game Tuesday three guys were shirtless, in inner tubes, with sailor’s caps and paddles, each with a letter painted on their chest…O R R. They showed them on the jumbotron, then flashed to Pete on the bench, who dutifully doffed his cap. They were Orr’s Oars. Will liked my idea to dress up like a package of mints…Bete – Mints. Or great big oven mitts, to be Longer Hands. Or a long blue wave, to be Hudson’s River. Reitsma is taking it on the chin for the bullpen…read the AJC blurb where he was harassed in his neighborhood. They’re having three Sunday post game Christian music concerts in June, with Smoltz, Reitsma, and Sid Bream giving testimonies. Matthew, a rocker like his siblings, said his favorite was this week, the 4th...Aaron Schutz.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Champions!

The RockHounds upset the big strong Bees Thursday evening 25 – 19, combining a potent offense with timely defense, to win the Mt. Paran Pinto National League Championship.

The game was exciting from the start. Lucas led off the game by beating out a grounder to the pitcher. When the throw to first got away, Lucas hustled to second. Matt doubled home Lucas. But Stephen and Scott were robbed of hits, putting the Hounds in a dangerous two-out hole, with only one run in. Then Matthew got things going with a hit, and they scored four two-out runs.

A key part of the game was the bottom of the first. With two on and two out, the Bees batter hit one to the left field fence. The runners scored the third and fourth runs of the inning, but Dillon fired the ball in from the outfield as quickly as possible. Lucas fielded the throw as the batter had rounded third and headed home. Lucas took off toward home, stopping the runner in his tracks, narrowly missing the tag out at third. When the next batter struck out to end the inning, the stranded fifth run on third was huge. The Hounds led 5 – 4...a lead they would never surrender.

The key to victory at this level of baseball is to score the five run maximum every inning, while stopping your opponent from scoring the five runs more than they stop you. Instead of working on the fundamentals of hitting and throwing, the Bees coaches trained their boys to run the ball in and hold runners, by charging up to the runner on the base and tagging them (the umpire wisely calls time before this happens). The Bees were mostly made up of big older boys that for some reason weren’t put onto Pinto American teams, made up of the older, more experienced part of the age group.

In contrast the RockHounds were mostly made up of younger, smaller boys having just moved up from tee ball. The coaches have concentrated solely on teaching baseball skills that will make the boys better players in the long run, particularly hitting, throwing, and catching. Matthew has gone from being a weak tee ball hitter to being able to hit pitches thrown anywhere in the strike zone…often hard and to the outfield.

Both teams scored the five run limit in each of the next three innings. In the second inning Lucas singled, driving home both Dillon and James. Steven then hit the ball into right field and was held to a single, but Lucas motored all the way around to score from first. The Hounds scored 3 two-out runs in the second.

The next play was also exciting, as Scott socked the ball to the left field fence. As he approached third base, the shortstop caught the throw in and raced to third. Scott won the race to the bag, and the shortstop stopped at the bag. But Scott never slowed down, and rounded third on the inside of the bag, and raced home to score.

In the third Lucas hit the ball up the middle, but the pitcher grabbed the grounder and threw out Lucas at first. But the out drove home James with the fifth run of the inning.

As the fourth inning ended, the Hounds still up by a run, a brief thunderstorm halted play for ten minutes. Then disaster struck…the bottom three batters in the Hounds order struck out, perhaps the first time this happened all year. Now all the Bees had to do was score two runs, and the championship would be all but won.

Even when the first Bee struck out, I had no expectations of grandeur. Then the leadoff hitter hit a grounder to Lucas at second. Coach Tracey had just moved Lucas closer to the plate, but I feared he was taking too much time fielding the ball. But the throw to Christian at first was quick, just beating the runner…two out! But the next hitter popped the ball over Nathan’s at third. Like most of the team, Nathan hadn’t caught a pop all year, and this was a tough chance. He had to retreat away from the plate and to his right. Right-handed, he reached his glove across his body…and caught the ball in the air! Coach Turner Skipped from his spot in the outfield and hugged Coach Tracy…a sight to see.

There was time for one more inning. With the top of our order up, Lucas singled into right field, but Matt Smith’s grounder forced Lucas at second for a quick out. But Scott knocked in Matt, then Matthew knocked in Scott.

Next up, Matthew was involved in an interesting play. Matthew was on third when Josh lined out to the second baseman. Matthew went back to third, but Nathan, the runner on second, had started running to third when the ball was hit. The second baseman could’ve easily stepped on third to end the inning with only two runs scored (indeed, two Bees coaches ran across the outfield to second, hollering at their player). Instead the second baseman did as he had been coached…he charged home to hold Matthew at third. Then the boy circled and headed toward Matthew, standing on third. Only then did he see Nathan still well off second base, and his coaches yelling at him. Then he took off after Nathan, who finally retreated to the safety of second base. This allowed Matthew to scamper home with the fourth run, guaranteeing at least a tie.

Then Christian stepped up and drove the ball to deep center, and Nathan easily scored…game over! Up by six, there was no way the Bees could come back. The RockHounds were champions!

Lucas…in addition to the truly game-saving play in the first inning, and the clutch assist in the fifth inning, Lucas made several more plays in the field to hold runners from extra bases, rotating most innings between second and first base. At the plate, Lucas went 3 – 4, scoring two runs and driving home three.

Josh highlights…his double to left in the first drove home Matt and Matthew. Then Josh scored from second on Christian’s single to center. Josh’s single in the third knocked in Nathan. In the fifth Josh grounded the ball at the second baseman for a single. Matthew ran past the second baseman, rounded the bag and raced to third, having watched Scott run the bases too much. The second-baseman chased Matthew, allowing Josh to advance to second. Both boys scored on Christian’s triple. In the sixth Josh got an RBI when Matthew tagged up and scored when Josh’s fly ball was caught. Josh also finished the game with 3 hits in 4 at bats, and scored 3 runs, with 4 RBIs.

Stephen made several nice plays in the field. My favorite was when a ball was hit out just in front of the plate. Stephen pounced out from behind the plate and grabbed the ball, and the runner at second dared not try for third. He also went 3 – 4, with an RBI, a double, and three runs scored.

In addition to Dillon’s game saving throw, he had a couple of other strong, quick throws in to hold runners. He scored two runs, going 2 – 3 with an RBI.

Matthew played an important role, going 3 – 4 from the fifth spot in the batting order. He scored three runs and knocked in two. His only out came when his hard hit up the middle was speared by the pitcher, robbing Matthew of a sure hit. He didn’t get many balls hit to him in the field, though he did chase down a swinging bunt quickly enough to hold the runners to one base. He played pitcher, shortstop, and outfield.

Notes...I did the RockHounds stats because it was more fun...I was certainly into it, and wanted to see how they were all doing myself. I went to RockHounds games because I thought Matthew needed me there more than Will needs me...Matthew probably won't be playing as many games in his career than Will. I didn't get into Will's games as much, until the end of the year. I do want to compile his stats just to see...he was on a better hitting team than usual (but nothing like the Tigers). I just don't know his average...but I doubt it was as high as Matthew's. Both Josh and Matthew raised their average there at the end of the season.

After every game I write up recap for Matthew's grandparents. Here in the playoffs they've gotten longer due to the excitement. Since Carol is out and Lucas had such a good game, I'm going to add his exploits to Matthew's recap, and send it to her.

One of the big reasons I think the RockHounds beat the Bees last night was coaching. Tim and Tracey (and David and Clint, etc) focused on improvement in baseball skills...hitting, throwing, and catching. TheBees focused instead on holding runners at the base, and this backfired on them two or three times last night.

Bees Scouting Report


Scouting Report for the Bees...the championship game opponent:

This shows to what fielding position the Bees hit the ball…2B = hit to the second-baseman…doesn’t mean a double. Starting with the most recent game, and going back through the season.

Andrew Reynolds (lefty) SS, SS, RF, SS, RF, 2B, 1B, LF, LF
…hits singles
Samuel Brand 3B, P, SS, CF…SS, RCF…SS…had one double
Jack deFreitas CF, SS, 2B, 1B…LF, CF…2B, RF…only hit singles
Ryan Foster (lefty) RCF, 3B, 1B, 3B…RCF, 3B…2B, P…only hit singles
Thomas Young CF, RF, CF, 2B…2B, P
…hits the ball up middle to the OF…had a triple & a double
Max Werner 3B, 2B, 2B, SS…3B, SS…1B, CF
…rarely out of the infield…only hit singles
Carson P, LCF, RCF, LCF, CF…most times to OF for extra bases
Harris Hudson SS, CF, P…1B…1B, P, RF…only hit singles
Jack Darlington P, RF, 2B…1B… RF, 2B, 1B
…always to 2B, 1B, or RF…only hit singles
Hunter Lyons LF...2B, SS, CF, 2B, 2B, LF
…only singles, but lined out to Lucas
Brandt CF, 3B, SS…LF, 3B…LF, P
…always hits to the left field side, but rarely out of the infield.

My comments…I liked the batting order last night - with Scott, Christian, & Adam as the three cleanup hitters. Everyone was hitting well last night, but…

The Bees will have their best players in the infield as usual, and will get putouts when the ball is hit to first or third…this could effect several boys in our lineup. We’ll be ok if we can get the ball into the outfield, as long as we stay away from baserunning mistakes…the Bees will catch popups and can double off runners.

The difference in the Bees /RiverBats game was two baserunning mistakes by the RiverBats. One boy ran on a popup, and was easily doubled up after the Bee caught the ball in the air. Another boy tried to score from second on a grounder to the first-baseman, who easily ran home and tagged out the runner.

The Bees hardly ever throw the ball, instead running the ball in to hold the runner. Reminder…sometimes fielders get sloppy when they run to the base to tag the runner standing on the bag. Instead of remaining between the runner and the next base, the boy with the ball will run up to the base, apply the tag, and sometimes continue a step or two past the runner…giving an alert runner an open avenue to hustle to the next base. (but we don’t need to give them a careless out!). This happened several times yesterday afternoon, but most of the time the umpire had already called time.

Matthew's First Home Run

Matthew hit his first ever inside-the-park home run yesterday evening, and was one of the leading hitters as his RockHounds beat the MuckDogs 22 – 16,in the semi-final tournament game. Matthew batted fifth in the order. In the first inning he came up with two runners on, after power hitter Scott struck out. Matthew smashed the pitch into leftfield for a double, the third-baseman unable to react in time to the hard hit ball. This drove in both runners, and the outfield had to make a good play to hold Matthew to a double, as he had run fast. He scored from second on the next batter’s hit. In the third inning Matthew singled up the middle. He scored all the way from first on the next batter’s hit into the outfield, but the most exciting part of the play was yet to come. As Matthew ran home, he failed to touch the plate. Many runners will go back and touch the dish to be sure, but Matthew continued into the first-base dugout, sitting down and removing his helmet. I noticed the umpire was intently watching Matthew, as I discussed the matter with Coach Tracey. We quickly got Matthew to run out and touch home, and only then did the umpire signal safe. Monday night after his practice, Matthew told me at bedtime that he was going to hit a home run in the game. I told him he needed to run fast, all the way. Later as he said his prayers with Ceil, he prayed that he would hit a home run. Ceil mentioned this to some of the parents sitting with us in the stands during the game. Matthew led off in the fifth inning and hit a hard line drive into centerfield that rolled past all the outfielders. Sitting in the first base bleachers, you could see the smile on his face and gleam in his eye as he rounded first base. He made it to third by the time the outfield was just getting the ball to the shortstop behind second base. Matthew slowed as he rounded third, but scored easily…his first ever home run. His teammates mobbed him, and Scott even picked him up. When the RockHounds scored their second run of the inning, the game was called, as they were so far ahead that the MuckDogs wouldn’t be able to come back. Matthew was the only player to go three for three, score three runs, and drive in three runs. For the season, he leads his team in doubles. After the game the coach had his postgame comments, then reminded everyone that the team mom was having surgery today. The entire team gathered around her, then the coaches and parents gathered around to pray for her surgery. Someone suggested that Matthew should pray, since his home run prayer had been answered. Touching moment. Before the game the rival Bees easily beat the strong RiverBats in the other semi-final, meaning that Thursday’s championship game will be a tough one to win. We celebrated the win by eating at El Porton. Moes was closed after the game…closed at 9 pm! So we went to Ceil’s favorite Mexican restaurant, near the house. Watched the whole Braves game last night while writing that Matthew recap, and compiling stats and scouting reports for the big championship game tomorrow…I was up until one am, real late for me. Notes...I was just wondering if Diaz would turn out to be a .330+ hitter! ...I didn’t stick with the Padres game, but with Peavy mowing them down, I knew our only chance to win was for Smoltz to outduel him. Nice win. ...was reading an SI.com column yesterday on overrated players, and someone was compared to Claudell Washington…someone overpaid. Can’t remember who. I always thought Claudell did ok here, though I thought the ‘Washington slept here’ banners were funny. Will and I may take a quick trip to Ohio to see the Reds. I want to go when they play a day game after a night game, and Aug 9-10 looks good, against the Cards. Then we could hustle back to Chattanooga and see the Lookouts play that night, on the way home. If we went June 28-29, we could see the Louisville Bats play a day game, then see the Reds/Royals game that night. Those are the only combos that worked…I checked Rome, Knoxville, Lexington, Nashville, Asheville, and Greenville as well. I’m still checking the weekend games. We may stop at the Tennessee and Kentucky campuses.

BP HR

Hustled out of work early yesterday and took the boys to the Braves game. We arrived right at 5 pm, and there were long lines qued up waiting for the gates to open. Will saw a friend right when we went in, and then he quickly got Todd Pratt’s autograph. As usual, he lined up on the front row of the outfield, trying to get a player to toss him a ball, and I sat back several rows, taking in the scene. Matthew hovered back and forth between us.

The batting practice home runs were few, and the crowd thinned after the Braves finished BP, replaced by the Dodgers. One ball was hit well over my head, but bounced back to my left, only to be deflected at the last minute to me. It glanced off my fingers, all the way back to the front row. Usually they don’t come so close. Will also came close twice, one time having a home run ball deflected away by a guy without a glove.

Sitting in the stands, I realized Matthew’s tiny glove was adjustable, so with nothing else to do, I widened it so I could fit my hand into it. Not long after that a Dodger hit a high fly that headed right toward me. I moved a few steps down the empty row to my right, and reached up and caught the ball in the air. It felt weird, with the little glove, and I had to double check to make sure I caught it. Matthew was happy to have the souvenir. The last ball hit in BP was a deep line drive right at Will, and he caught it.

We sat in the upper deck, between a youth group and a Little League Tee Ball team from South Atlanta…so we had plenty of entertainment to keep us occupied. We stayed in our seats the entire game, resisting the urge to go down to look for Mia Hamm near the LA dugout. She was at the Monday game…you didn’t see her on TV last night, did you?

Went to see the Tim Allen movie, the remake of ‘the shaggy dog’. Jane Curtain played a judge in the movie, and eventually they showed her name plate on her bench…it read ‘Judge Claire Whittaker’.

We were at the pool the last four days. I usually don’t get in, but it was so hot that I did. Been eating out a lot…last Tuesday and Thursday after ball games, then Friday we had pizza at the team party before going to our small group. Saturday night we ate at the Rome Braves game, which was fun until this huge thunderstorm hit. Will went back to the Rome Braves Sunday with his team, and Monday we went to the movies. Last week I also ate out at lunch four days…all on the company. Friday it was at a country buffet.

Friday was Matthew’s team party, and everyone was gathered around the TV watching the replay of their championship game win. They kept rewinding to see what everyone dubbed ‘the catch’…where a boy caught a pop to secure a scoreless inning. Matthew was named the most improved player, and they made me read the game recap I had written. I started off “It was a cold February afternoon when the RockHounds first gathered to practice…”

Finally got DSL at home…hooked it up last Thursday. Got the wireless stuff so I can be mobile with my laptop. But I messed something up, because I can’t get on the internet at work…so I can’t read the AJC, Lang, etc…until I go home. Then I don’t have time until everyone goes to bed. Stayed up late last night doing stuff…could’ve used a west coast Braves game to keep me company. Not going to Houston…this week, anyway.