Thursday, September 28, 2006

Falcons, Dawgs, & Jackets Talk

A lot bothered me about the MNF game last when they got down near the goal line, for starters. I thought they ran the ball ok, but the whole game it seemed to be 3 and out. Everyone says the receivers are bad, and I guess they're right. I'd rather have Duckett backing up Dunn than that Lelie guy from least he caught one pass.

And I love Morten Andersen, but his time may have passed. I mean, he's my age! Like the Braves would've done better had they gotten a good closer to begin the year, same with the Falcons kicker. But Morten should improve once he gets his timing down a bit. But kicking is the least of their problems.

What happened to the Falcons is what happened to UGA last week, and will happen to GT this week. As Richt said after squeaking by Colorado 14-13..."the players hear their families and the media telling them how good they are" and get the big head and not play as hard, and lose. No way GT beats Va Tech for that reason, even with two key VT starters out. Too bad, as it looks like Clemson, FSU, and Miami look beatable thisyear...Tech could go into the UGA game with one loss. I could see those 18 year olds on the flats think they're something after winning 3 straight, forgetting that it was Samford, Troy, and UVA.

What did you think about the GT throwback uniforms last week? You know I loved them.

Just when we get over Jenny Ewing's death, Ceil's good friend's 11 year old son goes to school healthy and basically has a stroke. Yesterday he had brain surgery at Piedmont, with a 10% chance of not surviving. The surgery went as good as it could've, so hopefully he'll recover 100%. His dad is the one that works for Turner, composing music. He's won two Emmys, one for last year's Travis Tritt Turner South Braves commercial. He also did the current Braves commercial with M C Hammer, Dale Murphy, Sid Bream, and Phil Niekro.

We've been to Johnson Ferry the last two weeks...even went to the same Sunday School class twice.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Medium Grade Gas for $1.909/gallon!

Driving back from Orlando last Friday, I wanted to get back into Georgia before getting gas, to get it cheaper. I was cruising along and noticed the gas gauge had dropped to empty. Usually that means I still have a gallon or two, but I wanted to be more careful on the highway. I spied a billboard touting gas for $2.139 sixteen miles ahead at the Adel exit, so I made that my goal. Making it to the exit, I noticed two stations had regular for $2.099…even better. I picked the BP station, as it looked cleaner and more modern.

The BP had twelve hoses, but there was only a lone pickup truck filling up in the middle. I pulled up on the outside, and noticed that while regular 87 octane was indeed $2.099 and hi-test also at the advertised $2.299, the mid-grade 89 octane registered on the pump at a price of $1.909 per gallon. The sign said it should be $2.199. I checked another pump…it too read $1.909. Being a good citizen (ok, I didn’t want to pay $2.199), I went inside and asked the clerk. He said it should be $2.199, and went outside and discovered the error. We checked the middle pump, and I noticed the pickup was filling up with the more expensive lower grade 87 regular grade.

Meanwhile, I was able to fill up with the mid-grade 89 octane for only $1.909 a gallon, a savings of 29 cents a gallon!

Unassisted Triple Play!

Will turned his second career unassisted triple play last night, providing a bright spot in an otherwise humdrum loss in Powder Springs. The unassisted triple play is the rarest play in baseball, even more rare than a perfect game...hundreds of times more rare than a hole in one in golf.

With little John Fulton pitching, the leadoff hitter in the fifth inning reached on an error, and hit the lineup's cleanup hitter, putting Powder Spring’s two best players on base. This brought up third-baseman Danny, who had singled home a run in the third.

On a one ball - one strike pitch, Danny lined the ball up the middle, high and to the left-field side of second base. Will moved to his left and reached high to snag the liner for the first out. Both runners had taken large leads before the pitch, and were well off the bags when Will made the catch...but they weren't stealing on the pitch.

In the dugout, my first thought was which runner should Will pick off base. But Will didn't hesitate...his momentum was taking him toward second base, and he quickly stepped on the bag for the second out. Facing first base, Will had a perfect view of the runner caught halfway between first and second. Later Coach White said Will's eyes were open wide at this point. Will accelerated and easily ran down the runner, tagging him out for the unassisted triple play, quite similar to the triple play turned by the Braves Rafael Furcal a few years ago.

Will then turned right and ran off the field to the third base dugout, tossing the ball on the mound as he passed. It was a cool night, with dew starting to form, so the base umpire instinctively picked up the ball to keep it dry. I walked out and retrieved the ball, to put on Will’s shelf next to his first triple play ball, turned almost six years ago on October 6, 2000.

The rest of the game was forgettable, as the young Longhorns were sloppy at the plate and in the field. Both Bradford and John Fulton pitched admirably...with Bradford only allowing two earned runs in three innings, and JF tossing two shutout innings.

Will caught another line drive playing shortstop, but saw his consecutive at-bats with a hit streak end at eleven straight, and his consecutive plate appearances reaching base streak ended at fourteen.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Sept 23rd Longhorns Recap

WILL…2 IP…15 BF…7 hits…6 runs…5 Ks, one BB…36 strikes…25 balls
RUSSELL…1st inn…4 BF…3 Ks…one BB…9 strikes…6 balls
RUSSELL…2nd inn…6 BF…one K…4 hits…5 runs…9 strikes…3 balls
DAVID…2/3 inning…4 BF…one hit…2 unearned runs…one K…one BB…9 strikes…10 balls

RUSSELL…BB & scored, popped to 3B, grounded to P
CHRISTIAN…lined out to SS, grounded hard to SS, HBP…scored 2 runs
DAVID…BB, SB, singled to SS, popped to 1B, scored 2 runs
WILL…tripled & scored on a PB, BB & scored, HR to RCF…4 RBI
PAUL…BB, SB, scored on a PB; and flew out to CF
JONATHAN…K & hit a bases-loaded single to RF…3 RBI
JOEY…grounded out to 3B on a 3 – 0 count & singled to CF on the 1st pitch
CURTIS…singled & picked off 1B in the 2nd; singled in the 3rd & scored from 1B when ball thrown past 3B…2 RBI
JOSIAH…BB & picked off 1B in the 2nd; reached on an E4 and scored in the 3rd
JOHN FULTON…singled to CF & walked…scored from 1B on a double
BRADFORD…BB and doubled…one RBI
MICHAEL…lined out twice…to SS & CF

Notes From the Sept.11th Week

I have to work two weeks in Orlando, so I figured I’d take the family one of the weeks. They never go on my business trips, except Charlotte, but I can’t figure out a less expensive way to swing an Orlando vacation. My old boss Steve, now in Orlando, is certainly ok with it. Next week I’m booked with all the other conversion helpers in a north Orlando Courtyard at $139.00 a night…hopefully I can get a comparable rate closer to Disney in October, that has a shuttle. The Orlando plant was a company we purchased last year that is just now going on our computer system, and I’ll train and help with that. Next week is training, and then they go live October 2nd. They are already entering orders on our system; they just bill them until October. Steve has lined up other helpers from the Jacksonville, Miami, and Tampa offices to come help as well. Four plants in Florida are too many…eventually some will probably be closed. Tampa will probably be the first to go. Orlando has the most modern and largest facility. Miami does a bunch of export business, which could save them.

With so much going on, Ceil’s not too keen about this trip right now. Jenny’s death, Anna’s birthday, and the Charlotte trip all took away from starting off the school year…this week Andrew’s hospital stay has slowed stuff down. I will keep moving forward with the plans, since this is such a good opportunity…similar to the Wendy’s cups. I’m sure this is one of the better times to hit Orlando…I always wanted to go at an off time.

Our plants are taking physical inventory today and tomorrow. Usually this doesn’t effect my department, but I did have to spend 15 minutes on it this morning. If they plus in material at inventory, I don’t get the gain by receiving the material on my stock PO…we worked it out. I’ve got to get in the mode of preparing for Orlando. Just when I’ve almost caught up, I’ll be gone 2 out of the next 3 weeks, so my desk will be nice and messy when I get back.

We may have a special small group meeting tonight to pray for Andrew Hall, but you would think the Halls would have a lot going on…dad Reid is busy at work as well.

When people talk about all the great young pitchers the Marlins develop, they forget the Braves have produced several of our own, even in the last few years…and still have some in the minors. Who would’ve thought James would win 10 games this year? Seems like there are a few clear thinking people out there on the AJC blogs, at least.

Guess that first game Wednesday night was typical of the whole season…we scored enough runs to win, and they bullpen (& poor fielding) gives it up. Seems like more than any year in recent memory there have been many fielding miscues that have led to losses.

Coach Henry hurt his leg again playing tennis, so I’ll be busy. He just started going to the little Presbyterian Church near us, where Will goes on Wed. nights with friends. I took Anna to Claire’s in the Avenue to get some earrings…a rare experience for me. After practice I took my kids to Taco Bell…they never get to go there with Ceil, so I took them there instead of Moes.

Sept.16th Longhorns Recap

Will's Longhorns lost their Saturday game, though they played tough. Henry tried out some new pitchers, only throwing Will two innings. The only run that scored off him was unearned, when the throw from the shortstop for the third out was dropped for the first baseman. Will struck out five batters in two innings and allowed only one hit and walk. He finished with 24 strikes and 13 balls.

Will played shortstop three innings and threw out three runners. On one he flipped the ball to the second baseman for the force, but had he stepped on the bag himself, he probably could've turned the double play and saved a run. He caught the last inning, catching a tough foul tip for a strikeout.

He had another good day at the plate. In the first he singled to drive in a run, and hustled all the way to third when the leftfielder couldn't handle the ball. He raced home on a grounder back to the pitcher. In the third inning Will hit it in the gap in left center to drive in another run, and hustled to second. He was arriving at second just as the ball got away from the second baseman, so without sliding Will rounded second and beat the throw to third. He was stranded there when the next batter struck out to end the inning.

Going to the bottom of the last inning, the Longhorns were losing 12 - 8. Christian and David reached base, and I was hoping Will could deliver another big hit. The first three pitches weren't close, but the 3 - 0 pitch was a called strike. The next pitch rode in on Will. He turned away, and the pitch hit him in the side, knocking out his breath. Then after one pitch, Paul singled past the second baseman. Will took off from first, rounded second, and Henry waved him home. Though this brought the Horns within a run, and they loaded the bases, they weren't able to knock them in.

Will has reached base in every plate appearance so far this fall, with seven hits (three doubles), and a walk and a HBP. Plus five RBI and six runs scored.

Russell...two singles, SBs, RBIs, & runs scored...Also grounded back to the pitcher.
Christian...grounded to 2B twice & RBI and 2 runs scored.
David...single to drive in Russell, fouled out, reached on a E6...scored from second twice.
Will...singled and doubled, scored twice...once from first. Two RBI & one HBP.
Paul...big bases-loaded single after grounding to the pitcher & striking out looking...4 RBI.
Jonathan...struck out, grounded to first, & walked.
Michael...struck out 3 times, once looking.
Curtis...struck out twice, then walked. Was swinging under the ball. Wasn't himself.
Josiah...struck out looking, walked & scored, and HBP.
Bradford...struck out twice (looking...with 2 out and the tying run on 3rd). Walked, but allowed himself to be tagged out by the catcher without sliding.
Joey...walked & scored; & struck out looking.
John Fulton...infield single, scored from second, & grounded out to second...knocking in Josiah. Goes up to bat looking to hit the ball, though sometimes swings at bad pitches. Both times he hit the ball on an 0-2 count.

Christian...1st inn: 11 BF, 4 H, 5 runs, 4 BBs, one K, 19 strikes, 27 balls.
Christian...2nd inn: 5 BF, 2 H, 2 runs, no BBs, one K, 8 strikes, no balls.
Will: 2 innings, 9 BF, one H, one ER, one BB, 5 Ks, 24 strikes, 13 balls.
Bradford: one inning, 8 BF, 2 H, 3 runs, 3 BBs, 17 strikes, 15 balls.
Curtis: one inning, 5 BF, one H, no runs, one BB, two Ks, 13 strikes, 7 balls.

Orioles/Rays Game Notes

My big adventure…driving 115 miles in a downpour from Orlando to St. Pete to see the Rays/Orioles. Left the office at 4:40, stopping once for gas/Arbys…arrived at the box office five minutes before game time. Parking was close and free. Only saw one scalper…an amateur selling two club seats. Bought an upper deck row seven seat, right behind the plate…for eight bucks. Never made it…instead alternating between the third and first base foul lines. They’ve reduced seating capacity in the dome by taking out upper deck seats up high…perhaps they are obstructed view seats due to the catwalk.

The crowd was very old, even for a baseball game. One couple was celebrating their 54th wedding anniversary. When a between innings contest won my section a soft drink, and two old gentlemen discretely moved over to our section. As I was keeping score, Raymond the Mascot tossed a cushy ball over my head. Another old dude two rows behind me fumbled the ball into the row between us. I could’ve easily grabbed the ball, but since he wanted it so bad, I let him have it. Vendors hollered “Water! Soda!” Over the loudspeaker, “Rays baseball” sounded like “Braves baseball”.

2ND…with Baltimore’s Jay Gibbons on first, Corey Patterson grounded sharply to 1B Ty Wiggington close to the bag. Ty wheeled and fired to SS Ben Zobrist to force Gibbons. Then Zobrist fired back to first for the DP…but there were two out when the play started!

2ND…Rays fireworks…after Wiggington drove the rightfielder to the wall, 2B Jorge Cantu homered to left, then Damon Hollins hit a loud foul to left, then a double in the RCF gap. BJ Upton drove him in with an infield single, and Zobrist tripled to RCF. But then Rocko Baldelli attempted a two out squeeze bunt! Baldelli came up to bat with ZZ Topp blaring.

4TH…Baltimore puts together four singles. Each time the runners can only advance one base, and only one run crosses the plate. The Ray’s Hammel has a 30 pitch inning.

4TH…Nick Markakis makes a wonderful diving catch into foul territory. Markakis had his own cheering section there in the dome.

5TH…Brian Roberts leads off with a nice single off a big curve ball, and is balked to second. Later Tejada lofted a pop near the RF foul line behind first. Though RF Delmon Young could’ve/should’ve caught it running full tilt in, 2B Cantu called for the ball. He made a nice running catch, but Melvin Mora easily tagged and took third on the play. Then Cantu made a wild, off-balance throw to third…allowing Markakis to take second. The O’s send ten batters to the plate, and score four runs off four hits and three walks…a 20 pitch inning for Hammel, his last.

5TH…CF Patterson cuts in front of RF Markakis to make a nice running catch…and barely avoids a collision.

6TH…Carl Crawford (C.C. to the fans) manufactures a run to make it a one run game. He walks after an eight pitch at bat. With the pitcher looking right at him at first, he leans toward second. Pitcher Loewen is so distracted he walked Wiggington. Then Crawford takes a running lead and steals second without a throw, and tags and scores on Hollins’ line drive out to left.

7TH…after the playing of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, fans were encouraged to stay on their feet for…the Chicken dance? Upton leads off with a single and is balked to second. A two balk game! Makeup call, I think.

8TH…Baltimore’s reliever Todd Williams allows a leadoff Carl Crawford hit, the potential tying run. Williams slows down the game. Wiggington has a nine pitch AB, lining out to 2B Roberts. Caught off first, Crawford is a dead duck, but when Roberts goes to tag him, Crawford doesn’t let him make the unassisted DP…making Roberts throw to first. Cantu then grounded down the line. Mora makes a great backhand catch and acrobatic throw, but Cantu legs out the hit. The game slows, as Ryan Burres is brought in to face PH Greg Norton (batting .296 with 14 HR…but only 37 RBI!). After Norton walks, LaTroy Hawkins comes in and strikes out Shawn Riggans.

9TH…after warming up alongside lefty reliever Bruce Chen, righty Chris Britton comes in and picks up the save for Baltimore. Bullpen notes…starter Russ Ortiz watched the game from the spartan “bullpen” bench down the left field line. On the Astroturf field, the bullpen plate was dirt colored Astroturf, the “plate” just a painted pentagon.

Fan Poll…favorite Rays giveaway:
14% Noisemakers
16% Caps
26% Figurines
44% Bobbleheads

The game ends after 10 pm. I wander around more and drive out at 10:30. the rain and traffic have cleared, and I make it back to the Maitland Courtyard shortly after midnight. I’m getting too old for these adventures!

Walk Off Home Run!

With the Longhorns losing by one run with 2 out in the bottom of the last inning, Will hit a two run “walk-off” home run, to win the game 14 – 13, this past Saturday. While Will has had game winning hits before, this was his first walk-off home run.

Powder Springs had come back to go ahead by one run in the top of the last inning. In the bottom of the inning leadoff hitter Russell grounded out, but Christian was hit by a pitch, and represented the tying run. But David popped out, leaving Will as the last hope. Will lined a 0 – 1 pitch through the gap in right-center all the way to the fence, and circled the bases, scoring ahead of the relay to the plate.

In the first inning Will lined a 2 – 2 pitch through the gap in left-center for a triple, driving home two runners. He scored on a passed ball.

He came up in the third inning with two runners on again, but walked on a 3 – 1 count. When Jonathan singled to right with the bases loaded, Will was off on the pitch and scored from first base.

This game continued Will’s string of reaching base every time he has come to bat, and has gotten a hit in every official at bat…his Batting Average and On Base Percentage are both 100%...he best start ever, five games into the season.

Will was the starting pitcher and pitched 2 innings, striking out 5 and walking one, throwing 60% strikes. He also played shortstop.

Last Thursday the Longhorns lost 4 – 3, but Will went 2 for 2 and actually stole home. While on third base, Coach Henry noticed Will was able to get a huge lead while the left-handed pitcher had his back to Will. Henry gave Will the steal sign, and Will charged down the line, and was safe of the play. Playing shortstop, Will caught a popup.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Game 2 Recap

HITTING…everyone scored except Bradford & John Fulton. Everyone reached base except Bradford.
Christian…struck out, grounded out to first, grounded to the SS, and walked…scored one run, had 2 RBI.…was waving with his wrists at some tough low & outside pitches, needs to work on staying back and making a full swing.
Paul…walked, struck out looking and swinging, popped to second.…he has been aggressive at the plate…seems to make his mind up to swing, and went after some high pitches, though in his last at bat he held off some.
Russell…walked 3 times, grounded to second, scored 3 runs.
Will…infield pop, fly to center, walked, doubled down 3rd base line.…swung at at least one bad pitch.
David…lined out to center, struck out swinging, grounded to short, grounded to third.…scored twice on wild pitches, once from second base.
John Fulton…after striking out swinging 3 times, he lined to single to left to drive in a run.…after seeing Will & David score on wild pitches he tried it himself, but the ball bounced back, & he was tagged out.
Bradford…both times he struck out the catcher dropped the 3rd strike, and Bradford didn’t run.…hit a grounder down the 1st base line he could’ve hustled more on as well…some times it’ll make a difference.…needs to get his turn hitting early tonight, since he missed hitting last Tuesday.
Jonathan…grounded to short, struck out swinging, was hit by a pitch…then hustled to second on a pitch that didn’t get too far away from the catcher.
Michael…struck out looking & walked twice…scored 2 runs.
Josiah…walked twice & was hit by a pitch. He was comfortable on base taking leads…did he not score from first when running on the 3-2 2 out pitch, when Paul popped to second?
Joey…struck out looking twice, and walked…scored a run.

Michael made that nice play on the grounder at third base. Jonathan made one nice backhand catch at first, but let at least one get past him…he made a good throw to second to beat that slow runner. John Fulton…dropped the throw to nail the slow runner…he should be ready next time. Joey…waiting til the ball went past him in RF to go after it…but did better on the next ball hit to him. Paul…fielded a grounder for a putout at first. Was that him at 2nd in the last inning, throwing out a runner at 1st? Russell…caught a fly ball in the 3rd and got it in quick, freezing the runner at 3rd.…then lost the 2 fly balls in the lights the last inning, though he looked like he had a bead on them. Will…tossed the ball to Christian to force the runner at home. David…at short, threw out the lead runner at 3rd…at catcher, threw the ball past Bradford at 1st, into RF.…he also had a putout at the plate on a force play in the last inning. Josiah…had a putout at 1st…he almost pulled his foot off the bag too quickly! Bradford…let a ball get past him at first, but at pitcher he fielded a grounder and forced the runner at the plate. Christian…did ok at catcher, catching the toss from Will for the force.

Bradford walked 3 of the first batters he faced, but the 3rd walk was on a full count. Then he got the next 3 batters to hit into outs (but 2 were dropped in CF)…then Bradford struck out the last batter. All of the runs he allowed were unearned. Josiah threw 60% strikes and struck out 2, only walking one, and allowed one unearned run.

Longhorns Game One

Will's Pony League Longhorns lost their first game Saturday, 10 - 5. He was the only player to get two hits, and he also scored two runs.

In both his at bats he led off the inning with a base hit and stole second base. Then both times David Bartlett, the next hitter, hit a grounder...first to the shortstop, then to the pitcher. Both times Will took off for third. The first time he went hard all the way, sliding in head first barely ahead of the tag. The second time he got in a rundown, and was safe at second when the ball was dropped. Both times Bartlett took second on a steal, and both times Christian Amland, the next hitter, drove Will home. Bartlett scored both times as well.

Will played shortstop and caught. He threw one runner out at first on a grounder to him at short. One other slow roller was hit to Will at short. He charged the ball, scooped it up, and quickly threw sidearm to first, but was unable to get the batter.

In the last inning the Longhorns loaded the bases but only scored one run. Will was on deck when the third out was made.

Monday night the Longhorns play in Powder Springs, and Will is probably pitching.

John Fulton…struck out to lead off the game, and walked twice. He was not timid, but swang at several balls out of the strike zone, particularly high pitches. Advanced to third on a passed ball. A good choice for leadoff hitter. Paul…struck out looking, singled to right field, and reached on an error to short, driving in the runner from third. Advanced to second on a passed ball. Bradford…struck out all three times…the first time looking. Will…reached first on both at bats…once on a sharp grounder to third, then on a hit into left. Two stolen bases and scored two runs. Twice with no outs got caught off second on ground balls…being aggressive is nice, but Will can’t afford to get thrown out in those situations. David…reached twice on fielder’s choices…once each to the shortstop and pitcher. Twice stole second with a runner on third. Scored from second on Christian’s single to right, and scored from third on a grounder to first. Christian…Nice single to right to drive in 2 runners. Also hit a two-strike grounder (to the second baseman?) to drive in another runner. Was thrown out stealing second, but later stole second with a runner on third. Russell…grounded out short to first. Hit a line drive to right field…caught by the right fielder, who was playing in closer than usual. Jonathan…hit by a pitch, but later hit a sharp grounder down the first base line…that would’ve usually been a hit, but the first baseman was playing close to the bag. Michael…walked and struck out swinging. Josiah…grounded out to the second-baseman, and struck out looking. Joey…twice struck out swinging. He did have some nice hits before the game with the whiffle balls. Curtis…struck out looking, then walked on a full count. Reached second on an error, took third on a wild pitch, and scored on an infield grounder.

Better defense could’ve prevented 2 runs at least, perhaps more. We need to work on taking throws at 2B & 3B on steal attempts…positioning.
John Fulton…2 assists at 2B. Bradford… 3 putouts at 1B. Curtis…assist at pitcher (on a bunt), putout at pitcher..caught a popup…at pitcher, threw ball away on a pickoff to 3rd…also threw one past 1B. Paul…caught a pop at 2B. David…at catcher, threw out batter at 1B on dropped 3rd strike…pitching, picked runner off 2B & chased him down, to tag him out without a throw…pitching, threw out batter on a grounder. Will…assist at SS, throwing out a batter at 1B on a grounder…had another tough play / slow roller that he charged & quickly threw to 1B, but couldn’t get the batter…at SS let throw to 2B on a steal get through to CF. Christian…playing SS covered 2B on a steal, let ball get by into CF…in CF, ran down a long hit & got ball in quickly to hold batter to a double. Jonathan…putout at 1B. Josiah…putout at 1B. Joey…did ok in OF, had the pop fall in front of him that he could’ve gone for.

PITCHING Curtis David
Innings 3 2
Batters Faced 17 12
Walks 1 1
Strikeouts 5 2
Balls 19 16
Strikes 41 31
% Strikes 68% 66%
Runs Allowed 6 4
Earned Runs 6 4
WP/PB 2 0
Stolen bases 5 3

CATCHING David Will Russell
WP/PB 1 1 0
Stolen bases 3 2 3
Innings caught 2 2 1

19th Anniversery

We celebrated our anniversary Sunday. Tuesday was our anniversary, but even with a game Monday, we had practice tomorrow. We went to PF Chang, IKEA, a plant place down on Cheshire Bridge, an art store in Buckhead, and Perimeter Mall / Cheesecake Factory. The kids got to go to Whitewater.

At least Bradley has been saying how remarkable the string has been, how it shouldn’t be taken for granted. There was a letter to the editor in SI regarding the Mets cover issue, how with the huge Mets payroll the last several years, that winning the division is overdue for them. The reader was from Mississippi…could’ve been a Braves fan. Guess Bradley and Bisher knew there were going to be all those injuries…plus, that’s no big deal to pick the Mets with the lineup they have. The way the season has gone, the Braves will probably sweep today to win the division for the Mets.

Are the Braves turning it on, or is it just the Cubs? Interesting that the Cubs could be the first team in history to not have a complete game all year.

My pet peeve is a QB throws off the wrong foot. I mentioned it last week talking about Ball. I noticed on a few Matthew Stafford incompletions / interceptions he did it as well…but for the most part he had a good game, all things considered.

Up late Monday night, and saw Maria Sharapova on David Letterman last night. She had less of an accent than her camera commercial. She and Dave compared birthdays…both in April, he in 1947, she in 1987. Thought about calling Reid, but figured Lang would’ve let him know!

If you got that Callaway golf magazine, you saw Morgan Pressel’s blog… – you may have to type that as a Google search.

The test yesterday morning showed they do need to operate, but they scheduled surgery for the 22nd……perhaps the equipment required is booked until then. The dad is the one who works for Turner, who had booked Hammer (& Travis Tritt) for those Braves commercials.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Longhorns Game Two

Will's Longhorns won their game Monday night 16 - 6. It was a pitching duel the first four innings, as Will and the Powder Springs starting pitcher only allowed one run apiece.

Will doubled home Russell from first to score to Longhorn's run. He drove the ball over the centerfielder's head, and Henry waved short-legged Russell home, and he scored.

Will started the game by throwing two straight strikes before hitting the leadoff hitter. He then settled down and struck out the next three batters.

Will also struck out three batters in the second, the inning only spoiled when Will threw a pitch on the outside corner with two strikes. The leadoff hitter stuck his bat out and poked the pitch to right field for a triple. That runner scored when a batter struck out, but the pitch was dropped. When David threw to first for the out, the runner scored. Then Will eased up a third time, and the hitter grounder the ball to the 3rd-baseman, who fielded the ball cleanly and threw to first. The ball bounced and Jonathan didn't catch it. The slow runner contined to second, and the throw to second easily beat the runner...but John Fulton dropped the ball. No matter...Will struck out the next batter to end the inning. He finished the inning having thrown 25 strikes and 7 balls...and he had only eased up on three pitches.

In the Will got the leadoff batter to ground out to first. The next batter doubled to left center, then Will walked the next 2 batters to load the bases. He got the next batter to pop out, then the next batter grounded back to Will. He flipped the ball to the catcher Christian for the force at home.

In the 4th Will settled back down, again striking out three batters. One batter hit an easy grounder to third, but again the throw to first was off the mark. Will finished with 9 of the 12 outs as strikeouts, walking only the two batters, and allowing only two hits and one run in 4 innings.

In the top of the fifth the first 3 Longhorns walked, loading the bases. Christian grounded to short, but the throw to the plate was off the mark. After a strikeout and a walk, Will also walked on four straight wild pitches. David's grounder forced Christian at home for the second out. The pitcher's pickoff throw to 3rd got away, scoring Russell. Then Will scored on a wild pitch, and when the catcher's toss to the pitcher got away, David came around to score from second...a 6 run inning.

The Longhorns scored 8 the next inning. Will came up with a runner on second and knocked him in with a double down the left field line. He then stole 3rd base, and scored on David's infield hit.

Will also had a pop hit in the first, so he went 3 for 3 with a walk, 2 runs scored, and 3 RBIs. After 2 games Will is 5 - 5 with a walk, 4 runs scored, and 3 RBIs and stolen bases.

This year Will and David Bartlett (Henry's son) are the 2 vets on the team. Paul Lovallo has played with Will in the past, but he's still rusty after taking off two years. Russell and Curtis have played 2 seasons of Pony ball and will have to contibute more, but the rest of the team are like last year's baby Braves...Christian, John Fulton, Bradford, Josiah, Joey, and Michael all just moved up from the younder division, and Jonathan is playing his first year at Mt. Paran after a layoff.

Friday, September 08, 2006

More 2007 Braves Talk

Glavine was asked about returning to the Braves next year, and he said there were only two teams he’d want to play for next year…and he’s played for both of them already. The Mets can pick up his option, but he can meet incentives to make next year 14 million. Last night he won number 288, and he may just want to win 12 and get out.

I was also noticing all the starters we’ll have next year. This morning I was updating my Braves player spreadsheet…who were the major players this year, and today I added the 2007 column. I wondered the same about Davies…perhaps they’ll trade him or Ramirez for a LF. I remembered Boyer, and what you’ve said, that the bullpen will be better next year. What is the contract status of Thompson and Reitsma…and especially Baez? He may be better pitching in LA, the north, or a dome, the way he sweats. Guess with MM, Boyer, and Devine, they don’t need to spend money on Baez.

Will’s first game is tomorrow, but that’s all that’s on tap this weekend. Nothing good at the Picture Show, except the Lake House.

Beauty & the Beast

Made it to the OK Café by 6:20, and there was no wait. When we left shortly after seven, the waiting room was full, and it looked longer than the posted 20 minutes. Ceil loved her vegetable plate, but Anna just poked at her mashed potatoes.

Beauty & the Beast was fine…Anna loved it, and we had good seats. We left using the upstairs exit that goes down to Ponce de Leon, reminding me that we’ve seen the actors exit there in the past. There we ran into Grover & Betty Swilley and Craig & Kay McKenzie. Daughter Kate McKenzie had a featured part in the show, one of the five miked singers. Years ago we had taught her in Sunday School. As we talked, we saw most of the other actors leave.

With today being a school day, it was easier on Ceil if the boys didn’t spend the night, so I dropped the girls at the van at Eastside Baptist, and drove near Jim R Miller Park to pick up the boys…making it home at 12:30 am.

Mark Bradley has a good reminder for everyone today…

I guess Dave O’Brien meant that the BRAVES should sweep yesterday’s DH. Guess we shouldn’t read too much into Glavine’s comments. JS will make the decision, and Glavine would have to take a huge discount to come back. Think the Mets will pick up his option…unless they’re other FA out on the market.

The Braves slim playoff hopes were all but snuffed out Wednesday. Every year they have injuries, as do all teams. I think with all the injuries they had this year, especially to the pitchers, makes winning 14 straight divisions all the more special. No one else has done that, not even the Yankees…who The Mets have had a high payroll for several years, and this is their first division win since 1988. The Red Sox and Orioles are others with high payrolls but little to show for it.

The bats may have been silent Wednesday, but the pitching continues to be the problem. They’ve run through tons of pitchers, and have made comparatively few moves with the position players, despite injuries to Giles, Chipper, Andruw, McCann, and Jordan.

If you’re going tonight you’ll miss the Columbus LL team…they’re appearing Saturday, I hear. See them at the Tech game?

Saturday at First Baptist Woodstock at 10:30 am…SAFE AT THE PLATE with John Smoltz, Terry Pendleton, Greg Olson and Sid Bream.

Lang took his dad to a Yankees Tigers games last week…with nice box seats. Reid said it was the first time he’d been to Yankee Stadium since seeing DiMaggio in 1949. More from Reid…- Broadway musical "Tarzan" - Edith was disappointed right away as we discovered Shuler Hensley was taking the night off…show was very good - music good - lots of movement - people swinging back and forth, and from the top balcony to the stage - walked to hotel…- Lang had a car take us to US Open - security check about same as airport - great seats at center court - weather perfect with no sun - saw Phillppoussis vs (2 seed) Rafael Nadal and followed by Barrois vs ( 1 seed) Mauresmo…lunch in the Hospitality tent with free buffet plenty of delicious food - Wang vs Roger Federar (1 seed) and a little of Domingquez vs Serena Williams before leaving for Yankee Stadium by car.

I’m wondering if I want to drive from Orlando to Tampa and back the same evening just to see the Rays / Orioles game. I’ve been to a Rays home game before…I may be lazy.

Brush with greatness…the summer before I turned 16 I umpired Little League. Had a great time, got good at it. My supervisor was Brannon Bonifay. He got his kid brother to fill in some…Cam Bonifay…the Pirates GM, who kicked and played baseball at Tech. We were sharing umpire stories here at work…Damon also umped as a teen.

These days when I find the most recent NOLA Notes, the envelope has been opened, the stamp cut out, and any envelope inserts have been removed. I’m lucky to find the cards or cutout somewhere else in the house. We’re the world’s worst at hanging frames on the wall, but Anna has cutouts framed and on display in her freshly painted room.

No practice last night. I hate it when the coach’s shirt says COACH MURPHY on the back. Then everyone knows which one is my son…not that I’m not proud. I’d rather be anonymous. I’ve been digging deep into work lately. My desk is cleaner, but I’m also making headway into some research projects. I’m so scared these rookies are going to mess up the big Carrier account. I’ve got to make sure all actual costs aren’t much greater than the costs we show on paper. It’s different from our other large account, where so far we’re doing great...for a few years.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Brave Tech Talk

Working around the house Saturday, I was flipping between football, movies, and the Braves. Not thinking about the 7 pm game 2, I thought it may be time for game 2 to start...after watching other stuff for a while. Diaz had just homered to complete the comeback, and I couldn’t believe Wickman couldn’t hold the lead. Nice that he got another chance later that night. Bad about Chipper…at least Aybar is back, as well as all the call-ups. All these injuries make the 14 year run all that more special/significant. Another nice start out of James.

Getting Ward can only help. You can never tell with pitchers. I keep checking Adam Wainwright, who hasn’t made me feel bad for trading him.

It was fun to watch the first to Giants games, and to see LaRoche get the pie in the face. Giles was the one who got JF last year. LaRoche hollered out on air that he’d get Giles back when they went hunting. Last night it appeared Smoltz was ready to come out when Cox pulled him, judging by his exit. At least the media is also talking about the Red Sox “run” being over as well. Perhaps trading for David Wells will have a negative effect on the Padres. Yes, playing the Phillies will be key, considering the August they had. James has been impressive. Giles has been impressive since the break…perhaps finally getting healthy, but I agree, with JS’s track record, they wouldn’t overpay when they have Aybar and all the middle infielders in the minors.

Last week at Wrigley Field they gave away 200 authentic Greg Maddux jerseys. Then it was Prior jerseys…Wednesday Clemente jerseys. Earlier this year they gave away Ruth jerseys, then Jackie Robinson jerseys.

I wasn’t expecting Tech to win, and thought Weiss did a good job with a few clutch calls. I don’t understand the rule on a pass reception when the guy is falling down. I know I’m bad about listing a few plays that, had they gone the other way, would’ve changed the winner of the game…and I know ND missed 2 FGs. Tech played good, and I’m sure the poor defense was worn out at the end. Saw a guy yesterday whose first comment was ’same old Reggie’, and I agreed. I think Bisher even said that ND was happy to defense Ball on the QB draw…much easier than defending Calvin. I just hope they play good every game, instead of not showing up against lesser opponents. Perhaps a backup GT QB will shine this week.

Will has a night game the Thursday night Tech plays Virginia, so I won’t get to see much of the throwback uniforms. So many teams have recently done a good job with throwbacks, but if anyone can screw them up, it will be Tech. Prediction: they wear non-throwback black face masks.

Another good baseball practice Saturday morning. Henry is holding them to a higher standard than these boys have been used to, and the boys and parents appreciate it. Henry teaches at Campbell and helps coach the baseball team. Saturday we worked for a long time on turning DPs…everyone was a 2B, SS, or 1B, and we really broke it down. Afterwards Henry had a long talk with Will, which is good, he needs to hear this stuff from others besides me. Henry had talked to a former college infielder, who had spoke of taking hundreds of grounders a day. So I’m getting better hitting fungos, and only threw about a hundred pitches. Will still can improve his fielding fundamentals, and sometimes gets lazy at the plate as well. We seem to be playing every other week in Powder Springs or Acworth. The defense will be weak if Will and the other good player are pitcher and catcher…hopefully other catchers will emerge.

All this extra duty has broken a few laces on my old Dale Murphy Rawlings glove. May have to break down and get a new glove.

When the Little League championship game was on, but the kids, including Will, decided to watch Animal Planet instead. I stand by my comment that it's a racket controlled by grownups. That Columbus pitcher got excited in the last inning, hitting a batter and walking another. A hit would’ve changed the game.

We went to see Cars Sunday at the Picture Show…not surprised that it was packed. Didn’t realize that Paul Newman was in it. Also Bonnie Hunt, Owen Wilson, Cheech Marin, George Carlin, Richard Petty, Costas, Leno, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Keaton, Ratzenberger, and the guy from Monk. Since then Matthew has been playing with his Hot Wheels.

Monday, September 04, 2006

August Month End Thoughts

This month end is busy for me, the way some costs are going down, I need to make certain things happen before month end. Though I’ve already done a bunch, there’s more to go.

Degrees of separation…I remembered that one time Susan Coley said something about somehow knowing young Jeff Francoeur back in their Gwinnett County days.

Taking your kids to the game is certainly a different experience than going with grownups/buddies, etc. The older they get the easier it is to go, but already Will has conflicts…other things he’d rather do. Anna doesn’t like to go, but I haven’t told her that I’ve been parking a lot closer than I used to…much less of a walk.

Sounds like Davies is in good shape and had two good outings in Richmond…hopefully will be a boost, but like you said, middle relief was the key. Hudson allowed those runners and Cox took him out…Hudson looked frustrated, but it didn’t seem to show in postgame interviews. Would’ve been a good game to be at.

Will had practice Tuesday, and with Coach Henry at the schedule making meeting, I conducted the practice, with the help from two dads. All the pitchers got to throw off the weird fake mound (sturdy plywood covered with carpet), everyone took lots of grounders and fly balls in the infield and outfield, and everyone hit a bucket of balls in the cage. Not being in shape, I wore myself out…hitting fungos for a while, then catching 4 or 5 pitchers throwing 20 pitches, then throwing 4 buckets of balls in the cage…about 300 throws. I’m usually a terrible BP pitcher, so I moved the fence closer and used an overhand flip, and it worked out well. Will was the last batter, and as everyone else left, asked to hit an extra bucket…a good sign. The “younger” guys are actually a little in awe of Will, so he needs to not goof off so much and be a good example.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Tech / Irish In-Game Update

Like Brent said, Tech should’ve thrown the fade to Johnson before settling for a field goal. As I’ve always said, if they can beat Auburn and Miami, and play Notre Dame like they have in the first half, why can’t they beat all the lesser teams? I’d much rather them not lose to Wake, UNC, UVA, and Duke. I know the defense was exhausted on that last drive in the first half, but it seemed like Tenuda quit blitzing on that drive. We’ll see how big that dropped interception on that drive will turn out.

Reggie Ball continues to throw off his back foot, or falling away. Calvin looks better than ever. Just what the Falcons need!

UAB is playing Oklahoma so tough…hopefully they’ll let down next week. And hopefully Tech won’t let down next week. Though I said back when the schedule came out that I wouldn’t be surprised if they did.

Joe T looked serviceable for the Dawgs. Cox didn’t look as good, throwing the ball up for grabs. All the Dawg fans have been clammering for months for Matthew Stafford to play. Didn’t they think that perhaps with a huge lead they’d get their chance? Richt had even said he could play three QBs. But when Stafford entered the game in the 4th quarter, two-thirds of the crowd had already left. People will forget that he came in fresh against a very tired Western Kentucky team. For all the talk about having such a strong arm, he did show nice touch…but will he be able to sidearm throws down the middle of the field against Auburn or Florida?

The refs made the right call on Henderson’s fumble on his first punt return. Hopefully he learned a lesson. I would’ve benched him, but Richt showed what a great couch he is, gently talking to him, then sending him back out there for another return…and how it paid off. I thought I saw a clip on that second return, so during the end zone angle replay I watched the blocking…and counted four clips on the return. No wonder he scored a TD! Even after the embarrassing first fumble, as Henderson fell into the end zone on the second return, he stretched the ball out…only to quickly tuck it back close as he fell.

Logo creep…Auburn’s navy jerseys now sport the ultra cool Under Armor logo. Have the Terps had that logo on their jerseys the last few years?

Adam LaRoche continues with the hot bat…amazing. Hopefully the pitchers will show up tomorrow. Devine looked good on the one pitch I saw him throw.