Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Thumbs Down on Stevie B's

Ceil didn’t want to the Johnson Ferry thing, and several from the small group weren’t going, so we skipped. Will’s game was at 2 pm, then the team party was way up in Woodstock at Stevie B’s pizza…Anna and Matthew came along, while Ceil went home to work on costumes. I am a sucker for Ci Ci’s Pizza, but Stevie B’s was awful…most of the time there was no cheese or pepperoni for the kids…only sausage. They had plenty of other kinds…BBQ, baked potato pizza (with sour cream), spinach (without much spinach), etc. Matthew liked the s’mores dessert pizza, and the soft serve ice cream looked scary as well.

We listened to the end of the Tech game on the way home…hopefully Ball can heal some. I’m not sure, but I bet winning at NC State will be no easy thing. Vick looks great when he comes to play. My reunion was pretty fun Friday night at Tech…many old friends I hadn’t seen in a while.

Sunday after NP Will and I drove up to the Dawsonville outlets. On the way up the Browns Bridge parking lot looked full. On the way back cars were stretched back as far as you could see trying to cross/enter 400. Will tried out for a travel team yesterday at Mt. Paran…a team that had been playing at Sandy Plains. Will said he didn’t feel good, but he fielded and threw as well (or better) than anyone…at shortstop. He didn’t hit…only a few more marginal boys hit. The coach, who administrates at the MP fields, said Will could play on the team. We’ll have to decide…last night the Shaw Park Cooperstown coach called as well.

We may go up to Clemson Friday evening…that would mean we would miss small group.

A college friend’s son is a Marine air-traffic controller in SD, and has saved over $20,000 the last couple of years. He’s not yet 25.

Will’s 12 year old cousin in SC had a hole in one last Sunday. I told Will that’s a lot more common than having an unassisted triple play, no-hitter, and walk-off home run in the same season.

Richt is getting flack in a rebuilding year…inexperience at QB, WRs with the drops, and injured RBs and kicker. Take away a fumble and they take Florida to OT. The GT/UGA game should be close…unfortunately.

Seems like every time I turn on Sports South the Thrashers are on, and it's the last few minutes of a close game, so I watch. Ceil has taken notice of my new viewing habits.Rome Braves Francoeur bobbleheads…there's not much likeness, so don't get your hopes up. We were so unimpressed that we didn't go back for the McCann bobbleheads, even though he is Matthew's favorite.

Season Ending Defeat

The Longhorns lost their last game of the season Saturday 10 – 8. Will accounted for 7 of the 8 runs…scoring 3 runs and driving in four. He also went 2 for 2 with a walk, and stole four bases, including home.

Powder Springs started a pitcher with a powerful fastball and a wicked curve. Will was the only Longhorn to get a hit off him…and he got two. The pitcher faced 15 batters…John Fulton was the only other Longhorn to put the ball in play.

In the first Christian and David walked, then Will drove them both home. Will hit a line drive right at the right-fielder’s feet for a single. He took second on the throw home, then took third and scored on wild pitches.

In the second the Longhorns scored three runs with two out. Russell and David walked, and both scored when Will hit a sharp grounder past the first-baseman. Again Will took second on the throw, and he stole third base. With two out and the weak hitting Bradford up, Will had been following third-base-coach Henry’s instructions, moving far down the line on his secondary lead off the base. He finally drew a throw to third from the catcher, and Will broke for home, sliding in safely.

Will led off the fifth with a walk, stole second and third, and scored on a groundout.

Will caught one inning, played first base an inning, and played shortstop the other three innings. He made a diving catch of a popup, and tagged out a runner stealing second. No other balls were hit to him.

In 12 games Will led the team in every offensive category except most walks. I track how many bases each player reaches…4 if they score, 3 if stranded on third, etc…Will had 99 “total bases” in the 12 games, scoring 20 runs.

Christian was a joy to work with, from the first practice to the last game. He was always enthusiastic, smiling and hustling. The jump to Pony is tough, and Christian proved he belonged…even statistically. He was third on the team in batting average, hits, times reaching base, RBIs, and runs scored.

Henry showed confidence in Christian by batting him second, as well as throwing him in the fire at the toughest positions…catcher, second, centerfield…even pitcher. Saturday he hung tough on the mound, getting out of the bases loaded jam by only allowing one unearned run…not bad at all. All the boys who came up from Bronco helped make the season more fun and exciting. Will and I had a great time, and Henry is one of the best coaches around.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A BSU Reunion

Nice touch to honor Harriet for her 27 years at the BSU. And nice that it was so well attended by graduates of all ages…Great to see so many old friends…I am a sucker for reunions, so this was right up my alley. No one stepped forward to the open mike to give a speech, though I should have bit the bullet and made a fool of myself one more time…I was afraid I wouldn’t have remembered much of what I had written the day before.

Looking around the room, in no particular order, I saw…Billy Brundage lives in Fayetteville, with at least two sons. Jim Johnston lives in Powder Springs and works at Lockheed. He remembers many crazy things we did, that I had forgotten. Wife Kimberly Kitchens Johnson homeschools their kids…as does Jenny Parker, who lives within walking distance of her parents in Snellville. Paul Morris’ younger brother John also lives near Snellville…his wife Mary Beth Owens Morris also homeschools.

Keith Harp! Karen was home in Suwanee with their 6 year old…they moved back from Raleigh a few years ago. I was able to talk to Keith for a long time, which was great. He said Jeff had visited them up in NC once. Keith said they had airline reservations to come to the Murphy New Year’s Eve / Freemon Missionary Sendoff in 95/96, but was sorry they didn’t make it. The Harps don’t live too far from my brother Frank, who brought wife Lori and kids Stuart and Sara. That younger guy that looked like Keith was also there.

David and Lynne Travis showed up. Still in Lithonia, they brought their two teenage daughters. David said he hears from Tom Leuze about once every three years…last he heard, Tom is teaching at a denominational college in Indiana. Greg and Beth Travis and Rex attended as well.

Tom and Melissa Jennings brought their tall 15 year old son and blonde 12 year old daughter. Melissa looks the same, though Tom’s hair is now straight. He looked good, but not how I remember him. They live in the new Johns Creek area and attend a small church near there. After living in Florida, they moved to Kansas, Tom said…the look on his face saying they didn’t like it there.

Wayne Price still works at Jordan, Jones, & Goulding…going on 27 years. He looked good…lives up in Jackson County. Son Mark is now at Gainesville Community College.

Mary Deaton enjoyed the evening. Goes to Prince Avenue, still works at Eaton. She said that Charles Bolian & family go to church where my brother goes.

Ken and Melanie Kopitke were snapping pictures. They live near Dayton. Their 14 year old had a marching band competition in the Georgia Dome this weekend, and their younger son was back home playing soccer. Ken loves baseball, and they’ve traveled to Boston and SF to see games. My kind of guy. While Harriet was talking Ken shouted to her to tell a particular story…Harriet out late with the girls at BSU convention.

Darrell Harrison showed off his beautiful three year old daughter and caught me up on Jeff Yearwood…reminding me that I am more out of touch than I need to be. Darrell also told me a story that I had forgotten…one of his first days at Tech, being Methodist, he checked out the Wesley Foundation, but found it locked. Discouraged, he walked by the BSU and decided to check it out. Walking in he encountered me, apparently leaving…but I stopped and took the time to make him feel welcome. How ‘bout that!

Robert Crabb and family were there…he hasn’t changed much, either. They still live in Gwinnett…Mary Deaton told me they have crossed paths a few times, and that his mother had been mayor up there.

Shane and Kim Austin came. I had seen Shane at Johnson Ferry Baptist a few weeks ago, and he told me at the BSU that he had spoken to Ceil just the day before, picking up our daughters from ballet at Eastside Baptist. The Austin’s still go to Mount Vernon Baptist, as does Danny Brundage, who was also there. Tommy Sweet still looks good, though he’s maturing into a distinguished older Southern gentleman…without grey hair. He is a builder with an office in East Cobb, near Johnson Ferry Road and Lower Roswell. He lives in Newnan. Speaking of Newnan, I hear Bill Headley is now a doctor, a family practitioner down in Jessup. He did not attend.

Dana Hammonds Sizemore was there with hubby Tom, still a smiling South Georgia country boy. They live near Raleigh. Dana says Warren still lives in Richmond, but left the convention and works for Meals on Wheels.

Al and Jane Rahn came, as did Bobby Evans and his wife. Bobby says he hears from Jeff every now and then. His wife told me she counsels at the Carrollton jail, after we had talked about the Jenny Ewing murder. The campus minister before Al was also there, as well as a few after Bobby, but no Johnny Pierce, Dave Stewart, or Tommy Prince. My old neighbor Warren Skinner joked that Al was campus minister before the first guy.

Former Maconite Jimmy Berry brought his family. I happened to be standing at the door to the meeting room when he walked in, and I recognized him and called him by name. I think he was relieved.

Got there around 6:45 and found a parking space right in front of the BSU, and didn't leave until about 9:40 pm...quite a fun evening.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

More From The Week...

SF…hadn’t considered where to stay…somewhere cheap with breakfast? Location may not matter, as we’ll be bopping around, to Oakland, Berkeley, north of SF…I doubt we could go the 300 miles to Yellowstone.

I converted four of my AirTran credits to vouchers…I need to do the other two under my dad’s name. I’ll go ahead, though I really have another 2 months. I need to start looking at when to use them…June would be good, depending on what kind of ball Will is playing next spring. Just when I’ve been telling Ceil we really need to look at our budget/spending. We got a big income tax refund (and my bonus) that we should’ve used to fix up the house, but we’ve eaten it up with regular spending every month, even factoring in the raise I got. Some months are tighter than others…August is back to school, the car tags are due, Anna’s birthday, and fall baseball registration. Last month was actually not bad, and this month is going even better…I think.

Went downtown after work to Tech…traffic was fun. There’s another big Homecoming thing going on that sucked up parking spaces, not that there’s many to begin with. Hopefully the rain will cancel that outdoor event.

Don't think I don't know who Neil Sedaka is...but mainly from his one hit in the 70's. Whenever an oldie comes on I try to tell my kids a little about the history of the band and song. Last night I had Will and Anna in the car, and we were listening to oldies. Matthew calls Elton John "the Lion King man".Today Will bought "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" off the internet. He was never interested in it while he was playing the violin. Maybe he'll pick it up again. He has to build a toothpick bridge for his science class, so that should be some fun.

Will always talks a big game when it comes to trick or treating, but it never seems like they’re gone too long. Catherine’s brothers would always rake in the biggest bag of loot that I’ve ever seen. The Normans recently went up to Furman and took in a football game while they were there.

Why I Like Baseball More Than Football

Dad was a huge Falcons fan…he actually had season tickets for years, until I started playing HS ball in the 70’s, so I went to bunches of Falcons games, just a few Tech games. We went to several Braves games a year as well, but I didn’t go to many when I was at Tech…though I wish I had. I started liking baseball more thanks to Bart Giamatti.

What made me not like football as much had a little to do with all the losing years of GT and the Falcons. I liked Montana’s 49ers and teams that would beat the teams they were supposed to…that’s what frustrates me so about football…on any given Sunday… In baseball the last place team may beat the Yankees every now and then, but not half the time. Took me years, but now I understand that in the postseason that most often the hottest team at the moment wins. One day I'll explain it more clearly.

I fell behind on my SI’s…I used to read them pretty much cover to cover, except for hockey, horse racing, and motor sports. Lately I’ve been catching up, finishing 2 or 3 a week, so the stack is getting smaller. But I don’t read as much of it as I used to. I heard Rick Reilly on the Dan Patrick show this week.

I’d just as soon Sheffield stay with the Yanks than go to the Mets…not that the Mets would get him. Will Zito go to the Mets?

Thursday night Ceil was watching Clemson, and I was having so much fun watching them lose that I didn’t turn it to baseball until the game was over. Tim Robbins was on Letterman, he took his sons to the Mets game 7 loss. His boys were bummed afterwards and weren’t talking. One of them changed his ring tone to REM’s “Everybody Cries”.

Clemson had it tough, coming off the big win at home, having a short week and tough place to travel to, and a hostile crowd on the road. VT did a good job stuffing the run. Someone said Clemson bussed to Charlotte to take a plane (but maybe it was Greenville), flew to Washington, and bussed to the game. Seems like it would be shorter to bus the entire route. I may Mapquest it. My FBI friend, a Clemson grad living in Fredericksburg, may have taken his son to the game.

Tech very well could’ve lost to Miami…this showed us what kind of team they have….a little. They needed to kick Miami while they are down, even though Miami wanted revenge for last year. With all this rain, the field will be a factor. With the RBs they have, GT should run the ball better. The more they run, the easier it will be to pass. One day I’ll write contrasting how emotional football is compared to baseball…why so many love football, but why I like baseball better.

SI says Jarrett Jack will be the starting PG in Portland, that the team voted after last season, and the players liked Jack better than Telfair and the other guy, so Portland traded Telfair to Boston. Houston should be even better by adding Shane Battier…he’ll make Yao Ming and Tracey McGrady even better, and they have Juan Howard as well. Too bad Marvin broke his finger. The Hawks will be wearing those Dominique-era unis for several games throughout the year. The Hawks and Thrashers are giving away those mini-statues this year, like the Braves did. Must be the rage.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Family Update

We Murphy’s are doing well…now we’re parents of a teenager!

Ceil keeps real busy home schooling our children…she loves it, though it consumes her. She keeps up good with Becky Norman. Ceil still misses Jenny very much, and has enjoyed taking Will over to the Ewings…Will helps George with his grass cutting business. Ceil received tons of support right around and after the funeral. Last night she finished up a Beth Moore women’s small group study, and we’re in another group with dear friends here in East Cobb.

Thirteen year old Will loves the little Living Science School he attends with the Norman boys on Tuesdays…run by a couple similar to the Hubert’s! All the students love “Mrs. D”, and Becky and I have chaperoned on some of their “expeditions”. Will continues to excel on the baseball field, playing with and against boys older than him…this fall Will made an unassisted triple play, pitched a no-hitter, and won a game with a walk-off home run. On Wednesday nights Will has been going to youth group at a small Presbyterian church near us, where many of his friends are. The Normans have been recently trying out that church.

Anna is ten, still taking ballet. We’ve tried to keep her young, enjoying her childhood. She and Will would like us to attend Johnson Ferry Baptist on Sundays, so they can be with more friends. Ceil, Matthew, and I prefer North Point for the messages (Matthew likes the rock music). We know many down at the Buckhead Church, including the Hurts, Ewings, and Tadros’, but feel more at home in Alpharetta.

Matthew just turned eight and is quite the artist…drawing and cutting with scissors, taping to make little devices and animals. Matthew marches to the beat of a different drummer, so he keeps us all entertained. He has dabbled in baseball as well. Thankfully all our children enjoy reading.

I just try and keep Ceil and the kids running in the right direction! Work is OK, still at what’s now called Ryerson Steel, going on 20 years now. My parents are hanging in there down in Macon, and Ceil’s parents still play golf up in SC.

October 3rd Tie

Pouring over the first game in Smyrna that I missed, it appears the game was a tie. Based on Paul’s scorekeeping and Will’s recollections…Curtis pitched the first 3 innings, followed by one inning each of Will and David, then John Fulton for 2 scoreless innings. Will said in the last inning just about everyone walked…then Paul got a hit. Joey led off with his long fly out, then 7 straight walks!? (Curtis, Josiah, Bradford, Russell, Christian, David, and Will). Paul got a hit, but was put out on base? John Fulton and Michael reached base (walk or hit?), then Jonathan struck out to end the inning. Looks like Smyrna had the winning run on first with 2 out when time was called.

Big surprise that Andruw’s agent wants big bucks.

Will has his last practice tonight, though this winter a coach is going to practice on Saturdays, weather permitting. Sunday he may try out for a spring travel team.

Took Anna and Matthew to Moes last night.

Tomorrow night they’re having a retirement reception down at Tech for a lady, so I should see a lot of college friends, if I can make my way through traffic.

Any big plans for Halloween? I see the Avenue has stuff from what, 3 to 5? We’ll be at Will’s game and party. Johnson Ferry puts on a huge deal Saturday evening from 6 to 9, with rides and animals and everything. I’m sure we’ll be there. Tuesday we’ll trick or treat in our neighborhood, unless someone talks the kids into going around another ‘hood.

Had a mole that sneaked in the house the other night while the kids were watching TV…Anna thought it was cute. Hopefully it’s not nesting somewhere in the garage.

Last week he revealed that on the famous photo of Bill Buckner walkingoff the field after committing the World Series error, since he hadtaken off his mitt and was carrying it in his other hand, you can seewhat kind of batting glove he was wearing...one with the Chicago Cubs logo. He had been playing with the Red Sox two years...carrying the twomost famous curses in professional sports on his back.

Harriet Retires

I remember as a student when older alumni would drop by, telling stories of people whom I had never heard, of some old BSU building across the street. What out-of-touch geezers, I thought. Now I am one! I’m so old…I was at Tech before Harriet!

My freshman year (1977) the BSU secretary was Renee Box, the wife of grad student Ben Box. They participated in BSU activities and were lots of fun. Renee was like one of the gang. At the end of the year we were all heartbroken when we learned the Boxes were moving…where could we get a better secretary?

Rumors spread quickly about “the new lady” as Harriet settled in. Did she not rearrange the office? Outrage! We had never done it that way before! Different trinkets and pictures on the desk. But it didn’t take us long to warm up to Harriet. She was just what we needed…a mom away from home to take care of us. She wouldn’t lecture us when we did dumb things, but would keep up with us and gently steer us in the right direction. Her words and example made her every bit as effective a campus minister as Al, Bobby, or Tommy.

Harriet was cool. When we would pull a prank, decorate the steps, park John Rose’s VW Bug in the meeting room, or fill the campus minister’s office to the ceiling with newspaper, she would look the other way. She’d let Kyle and Fred O and Jim (and me) make fools of ourselves yakking over the speaker system for the entire building to hear. She’d let identical twins Clay and Jay Porter fight and call each other ugly. She would type term papers. Harriet even kept up with sports! What fun to sit around her office and debate the upcoming Tech game. This was before sports-talk radio.

Harriet had to put up with antiquated equipment. Those were the days before PCs and desktop publishing and printers at your desk. If Harriet wasn’t at her desk, she was around the corner hand-cranking out mimeographed newsletters or mailings. In the age before self-adhering stamps, Harriet’s tongue licked a lot of stamps. Actually she was smarter than that…she had us students lick them.

Harriet made us a part of her life. She was brave enough to host some gatherings at her house, and she kept us up to date on the educational and social activities of her children. Harriet is a part of our lives, a face we love to see…not only here at the BSU (or whatever it’s called now!), but also at Braves games, weddings, funerals, and other special occasions. We’d bring our babies for Harriet to hold, if she didn’t come to the hospital to see for herself. We all call Harriet to get the latest news on our college friends…she’d always have a nugget to tell.

There are more stories to tell, but I’ve forgotten them. Harriet, we love you!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Uni-Watch Scoop

Incredible scoop by ESPN.com's Paul Lucas regarding Kenny Rogers wearing a different cap than his teammates...to perhaps better hide foreign substances. Paul's is the Uni-Watch column.

Adam Wainwright was part of the JD Drew for Jason Marquis trade. People will forget that without Drew, the Braves miss the playoffs that year. Though he may become a dominant closer, he’s taken years to develop. We still have Wickman and Boyer, to begin naming names. I’ve seen Sosa milling about, but will he get into a game? I have missed several innings.

I messed up my car radio presets by hitting a button that I guess I’d never hit before. On the way to the game last night I was re-setting them. I knew 680 has an AM sister station (1250 or something), and in afternoon drive time they were rerunning the Dan Patrick show. Yesterday there were talking about Kenny Rogers.

Reid, the low-key Turner music producer, was driving an old Bonneville, in pretty good shape for its age…not in the market for a new car. His dad’s neighbor was selling his wife’s low mileage 1996 Mercedes, still in great shape. It was a deal Reid couldn’t pass up.

Saturday and Sunday I worked on taking out winter clothes and putting up the summer clothes. Will split his doubleheader, hitting well in game 1 and in game 2 pitching 3 innings of a 6 inning no-hitter. As usual, I’ll pass along the details. I have to leave early to get him to his 7 pm game in Smyrna…should be chilly. Watched the GT game Saturday night…Sunday I took the kids to the Picture Show to see Barnyard.

Smyrna Defeat

Will’s Longhorns lost the game last night 7 – 3 in the cold at Smyrna. At that park games run 2 hours 20 minutes, so they were able to play seven innings, making for a long night in the cold.

The Smyrna Rockies were an older Pony team and ran the bases aggressively and well. The Longhorns had problems throwing and catching, committing twelve errors, and this was the difference in the game. Of the seven runs scored by the Rockies, errors played a part in six. At least three times the Longhorns had a Rockie picked off base, only to throw the ball away. In one rundown our first-baseman caught the ball, ran at the runner, dropped the ball, and fell down.

The Longhorns did outhit the Rockies 9 – 4. Will got hits in each of his three at bats, and scored a run and stole a base.

Will caught the first three innings and also played shortstop. In a stretch of three pitches Will was part of a double play and fielded a grounder, throwing the batter out at first.

Coach Henry’s son David pitched well, not allowing a hit for the first 4-1/3 innings, extending the Longhorns no-hit string to eleven innings. Will relieved him and pitched to six batters. During that six batter stretch the Longhorns committed five errors!

Will has been asked to play with the older Colt team again... he may also play with them Saturday night and later in a weekend tournament. His last Longhorns game for the fall is Saturday.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

DH First Game Loss

Will’s Longhorns split a Saturday doubleheader to two Acworth teams. They led 8 -4 in the first game after three innings, with Will scoring two runs and knocking in four more. He turned two double plays in the first game as well.

Will caught a pop at short to end the top of the first, then, batting cleanup, stepped in with the bases loaded in the bottom of the inning. He hit one deep into left-center for a double, driving in all three runners, and cruised over to third when the throw went home. He scored on Michael’s groundout.

Will played third in the top of the second. With runners on first and second the batter grounded it down the line. Will backhanded it, stepped on the bag, and fired to first for the double play. In the third Will played centerfield. He got a late jump on a short pop fly and missed a diving try, but they were able to force the runner at second to get an out.

In the bottom of the third Will quickly went down two strikes in the count, but laced a line drive up the middle for a single, driving home David from third. Will stole second and third, and scored on Paul’s clutch two-out single.

In the top of the sixth Acworth pounced on Bradford’s pitching to go ahead, but Will was able to finally stop the rally. Playing shortstop Will caught a hard, low line drive, and quickly fired to first to double off the runner, for his second double play of the game. Will then caught a popup to end the inning.

He then led off the bottom of the inning and lined one past the shortstop. Acworth pitched out. Will was going on the pitch, and he still stole second standing up. He scored from second on Paul’s single.

Will finished the game with three hits in three at-bats, including a double. He stole three bases and scored three runs, and had four RBIs. He had four putouts and two assists.

No Hitter!

Will hasn’t had to pitch as much this season. Though he started the year strong, he struggled a little in his last appearance on October 3rd. Now 18 days later he started strong, striking out the first two batters in the first, then getting the number three hitter to bounce back weakly to him at the mound.

In the second Will hit the first batter and walked the next two, loading the bases. But he worked his way out of the jam with only one run scoring…with a groundout, strikeout, and tagging out the runner trying to score on a passed ball.

In the third Will struck out the side, giving him six in three innings. Coach Henry stuck to his plan and pitched Russell the next two innings. Russell was able to pitch two no-hit innings, aided by a force at second after a pop fell between three fielders. John Fulton came in and retired the side in the sixth to secure the no-hitter, the first that Will has been a part of.

Will also played shortstop and an inning at first base, getting a tough putout after a dropped third strike. At the plate he reached base once and scored from second on an error that got past the shortstop.

Clemson Dances on Tech's Ball

Notes from the Clemson / Georgia Tech game: Purple on purple for the first time since 1939…certainly a statement…certainly despised by ESPN.com’s Uni-Watch columnist Paul Lucas. Paul likes the Cardinals’ pitcher’s stripes stirrups, as do I. ESPN seemed to be in on the uniforms…earlier GT’s radio play by play announcer Wes talked about the Tigers wearing purple pants and orange shirts in the warmups. At the opening ESPN’s Mike Patrick retells the story of Howard’s Rock - and the story is retold later in the first quarter as the AFLAC trivia question.

Penalties came early and often…Clemson seems to have shaken the penalty bug after jumping offsides three times in the first quarter…including on the 42 yard field goal try. Tech’s penalties continue throughout the game…two holding calls in the first half, and offsides on the bad Clemson punt, which allowed for a rekick. Then a personal foul in the 4th quarter didn’t help. The refs blew the interference call on the punt play.

ESPN has made such a big deal about Clemson shutting down Calvin Johnson, but fail to make the connection with Reggie Ball having such a bad game, mostly due to being so banged up. They also failed to remember the 15 yard interference play on the first play from scrimmage. This would be the week SI features Johnson in an “unstoppable” article…as well as the Austin Murphy Heisman article.

Ball had the big game on the road at Virginia Tech, but has laid an egg against Clemson. Nice that Todd Blackledge calls Reggie out for throwing off his back foot, throwing backing away, for not throwing to Johnson when he was wide open. When he finally throws to Johnson, Ball threw behind him. I'm not the only Tech fan that won’t miss him next year. Mercifully Gailey replaced him at the end of the game.

Davis has run well despite obvious pain from his shoulder injury. Had he not been hurt he might’ve gone all the way on the two long runs that he has broken so far. His play is finally winning me over after a year and a half. Davis is especially nimble at picking his way through the line of scrimmage. Tech needs to get lots of helmets on him to wear him down. Up 24 - 7 he broke off another long one and got thrown down on his shoulder, and stayed in the game. The way Tech's offense is struggling, it might be time to rest him. Perhaps there's a little Herschel in him, though Walker would never show up wearing a number one jersey.

Clemson has had lots of injuries, but Tech failed to take advantage.

Tech’s defense hasn’t played that bad, but they’re getting more and more tired. There have been a few missed tackles, including on the early TD run. Nice early INT, but had the Tech defender dropped the fourth down pass, Tech would’ve picked up several yards…not that it mattered. They have kept good pressure on the QB, but it was only a matter of time before Clemson was able to break off a big play. Then two more missed tackles, turning the short pass into a 50 yard TD. Afterwards you could see the fatigue and defeat on the GT defender’s faces, and Clemson quickly scored again.

How a D1 kicker can miss a 36 yard field goal, be 4 – 9 for the year, and still have his job. For a few minutes Bell's FG miss looked like it might loom large. Then he almost flubbed the PAT in a similar fashion. At least the punter is having a good night…a graduate of my high school in Macon.

Tech came out passing in the second half, with little improvement. They often went without a running back in the backfield. Down ten nothing they should’ve continued to mix the passing with the running…they still should keep a back in for an occasional run when down 17 – 0. When 89 breaks open long, he lets up…Ball didn’t overthrow him…the receiver just didn’t give his all. At least he redeemed himself with the nice TD catch. The DB tried to knock the ball straight down, but swung and missed…giving James Johnson the second chance.

Hopefully Tech will be able to rebound next week against Miami…certainly not an automatic win. Hopefully the beat up Ball will be able to rebound, and not go into a funk. It will be interesting to see how the season plays out for both teams…will Clemson be able to fight off BC to win the division, and will GT be able to win out on their side.

NOTE: Albert Pujols’ goatee looks like it was colored on with a Sharpee.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


One thing I do is take the cool stamps off the envelope Reid sends (if Ceil doesn’t get it first) and put all the stamps together in my calendar for each type of stamp. I have all the superhero stamps together, and then I put the baseball stamps in another place and the cartoon stamps in another place.

Lang probably wouldn’t like my Mike Vick comments, and since the Falcons are tied to his contract, he will probably stay and the coaches will probably be replaced instead. The people on the AJC blogs are saying that Vick was more productive when Dan Reeves was coaching. John Elway said that they would run Reeves’ offense for 3-1/2 quarters, then Reeves would tell Elway to do whatever he needed to do to win the game.

We may go up for the Maryland – Clemson game on November 4TH. I’m worried about the Tech – Clemson game…hopefully Clemson is getting the big head and will come out flat. Seems like they’ve only played patsies besides Boston College and FSU, and FSU hasn’t been tearing it up this year. I won’t get my hopes up…Tech could just as easily lose as they could win.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A Note From Bob Marsh

We were able to touch base with our former pastor Bob Marsh and his wife Myra this summer, under unfortunate circumstances. They were the reason we went to Willowbank to Bermuda for our honeymoon. The Ewings also vacationed there, and the Marshes are able to return there every August. Bob's recap of the summer was refreshing, so I'll share it here...

'I turned around and the month was gone' is the way a friend framed his disquieted observation on the brevity of life. To put it more succinctly, 'where did the time go?' July was one of the most intense months of our lives. Having to go through arduous physical therapy and striving to be able to walk paled into significance compared to the awful death of Dana Goodwin Smith and then the inexplicably horrific murder of Jenny Ewing. August was to be defined by the ministry at Willowbank, Bermuda, but there were moments when we wondered if it would actually occur, given that so many responsibilities were challenging us in Atlanta. The Lord graciously made it possible for us to go, all the little details fell into place, and Willowbank 2006 was a blessed experience that could be explained only in terms of God's guidance and presence!

The three weeks there were filled with hours of Bible study, counseling, praying with people, listening to stories of struggle people, and building bridges of relationships. Our son and his family were there for a while, and the joy of being with the grandchildren was a balm to our spirits. I will never forget the wonderful thrill of looking up each morning as I prepared to teach and seeing the entire family together in Bible study! The thought gripped me that this was a 'foretaste of glory divine.'

A couple from New Jersey: their daughter is hospitalized with depression, and they struggle to know how to deal with this overwhelming problem. A woman from the USA: her husband walked out on her, a man who had the reputation of being a 'spiritual leader' in the community. Another woman who had witnessed 9/11 while working in Manhattan, struggling to make sense of life's tragedies. The head of the department of pediatric neurology at a major university and his family were there, seeking to solidify their relationship to one another. A man from England who had fallen into irrational behavior and sinful actions, telling me the sad story of a family coming unglued because of his moral failure. Stories of bad reports from the doctors, disruption of dreams and hopes, disappointments with children, failure in business, on and on go the stories of people who come to Willowbank, and the Lord gave to us the privilege and responsibilities of ministering grace and encouragement from the word God.

I mention these folk to you because you, in your ministry of encouragement to us, in fact touched their lives. A Canadian pastor and his wife summed up the feelings of many: 'The Lord has spoken through His word, He has given us what we need to go back and face what we have to face.' You are in our hearts with much love and praise.

MARTA Breeze Cards

FYI…MARTA is going to smartcards, if you haven’t heard…called Breeze Cards.

Single use tickets can be purchased…they are recommended for out-of-towners. They will require a 50 cent surcharge over the regular $1.75 fare. These paper cards can be loaded with up to $20.00, but they expire after 90 days.

Plastic Breeze cards never expire, but unless you order them now for free, they will cost $5.00 in the future. MARTA recommends even occasional users to get the plastic rechargeable cards.

You can get them at www.breezecard.com

Sunday I tried it...quite confusing! I quickly gave up and drove downtown, and actually saved time and money.

Top Ten Ways The Country Would Be Different If a Woman Were President

10. On our currency, "In God We Trust" will be replaced with "You Go, Girl!"

9. NASA's Mars mission cancelled, replaced by mission to Venus

8. Wars would be over as soon as someone breaks a nail

7. New cabinet position: Secretary of Electrolysis

6. Library of Congress changed to Oprah's Book Club

5. Terror Threat Level colors are plum, mauve, fuchsia, periwinkle and pink

4. Inaugural speech urging the nation to "moisturize"

3. She wouldn't interrupt prime time TV for a stupid press conference, especially when "Grey's Anatomy" is on

2. Pointless invasion of Bloomingdale's

1. Mandatory prison sentence for leaving the toilet seat up

Monday, October 16, 2006

Weekend Notes...a Colt Base Hit!

Friday night Ceil and I went to pick up Will, who had cut grass with George Ewing. We ate at Ceil’s favorite Mexican place, then I went to pick up the kids at NP…they watched Herbie outside…bundled in blankets.

Early Saturday I took Will back to the Ewings for more grass cutting, and ran errands & cleaned up some. I picked him up and we got to the field at 1 pm for his 2 pm game. The Colt team was playing…they had nine, but their opponent only had eight, so they got Will to play the rest of the game. He singled in his only at bat, a nice line drive up the middle. His Mt. Paran Colt friends scored four two-out runs in the bottom of the last inning to win the game.

Coach Henry had scheduled four Saturday home games with one team, but told them our weekday road schedule was full, so we couldn’t play any games at their place. The other coach must’ve erased the games and scheduled something else, because they haven’t showed up, and won’t return Henry’s calls. So we had another practice. Anna and I did a lot of running around in the outfield, then I went home and washed both cars, scrubbing extra hard to clean the buggy front bumpers. That night my back was hurting bad.

Ceil took Anna and Matthew to NP and got a sermon CD, which I’ll listen to this week. Will and I went to the 8:30 Johnson Ferry service…they are doing a similar sermon series based on the book “Ten Lies Ten Truths” …saw John Parkes and John Adair in the choir. Next week we’ll all go to NP. I was how wondering if the Browns Bridge opening would effect traffic.Last night our fiends came over to pick up their dog that we kept Saturday night. Their son plays bass at a new NP video church in downtown Birmingham. They said Andy made reference to 2004 in the message…I suppose they can pick which series to air.

I noticed the Braves had published the 2007 schedule in the handout we got at that Astros game. Looks to be the opposite of the 2006 schedule…they close on the road in Houston. I want to see the Cards, one of the few teams Will hasn’t seen. They’re in town the weekend we return from the beach in July. The Tigers come to town in June…Will has seen them, but Matthew hasn’t. With the schedule out, now I can start to plan next year’s SF trip.

No big loss to lose Ken Ray, though it is a little newsworthy, I suppose.

I played golf Thursday like a guy who only picks up a club a few times a year…worse than in August, worse than last year. Had a good time, though, and the course and weather were great. Good to hang out with my co-worker.

They opened the new gym in the little East Cobb Presbyterian Church not far from the Avenue. I’m trying to talk one of the members into organizing before work basketball. I’ll let you know if it happens. When we lived in Morningside I would meet some guys at the Second-Ponce gym. Sometimes we’d run together around Buckhead, or they’d be on the treadmills while I ran the track or swam…they weren’t the basketball type.

Falcons / NY Giants Game Notes

The Falcons aren’t getting a equitable return on their investment in Vick. He kept dropping the ball in the pocket for no apparent reason. They’d be much better using that money for something else, and play Schaub or DJ. My pet peeve has always been pro and college receivers that drop passes…both the Falcons and UGA had three this weekend. Funny that today’s AJC blogs are saying that Vick was more productive being coached by Reeves.

We had the usual busy weekend…Friday I got home, the kids were all gone, but Ceil and I were exhausted…our neighbor knocked on our door with Falcon tickets, giving me and Will something to do Sunday. With my back hurting so I normally would’ve rested Sunday, but Will had never been to an NFL game.

Will & I ate at Subway and drove downtown, finding a good parking spot near the Tabernacle. We hung out at Falcons Landing a bit, and made it to our seats an hour before kickoff…watching the kickers and punters, then the QBs warm up. Vick threw less than half as many in warm-ups that Eli did. Ex Kentucky QB Jared Lorenzen is still a Giant, and he’s still huge. The Giants warned up with four lines of receivers taking throws, with two lines going each way down the field. That makes sense, since you always have at least three QBs to warm up. That made me look to see who the fourth passer was…punter Jeff Feagles, who was throwing as well as Lorenzen. Perhaps the Giants will fake a punt later in the year.

I didn’t take notes…wish I had, though I would’ve gotten some weird looks. On the radio that morning 790’s Chuck Oliver had said that Saturday night at home he had charted the plays of the Auburn / Florida game. The upper deck row 20 seats were high, but we had a great view, even though they were on the 20 yard line. With all the tailgating and jersey wearing, the crowd was late getting to their seats…well after the game had started. I can understand a late crowd for a 7 pm weekday Braves game, but not a Sunday Falcons game…one of eight home games. The pregame fireworks were nice, but there was a haze that took most of the game to clear.

Jay Feeley…every time he came out to kick, the fans would boo. I heard several comments of how he never made kicks while he was with the Falcons, when in fact I’m pretty sure that not only was he the most accurate kicker in Falcons history, he was so good that the Falcons let him go free agent than have to pay him his value. Last year he had the bad game in Seattle, but l think he’s done ok since then.

Bob Whitfield…another ex-Falcon who had written a SI article about training camp. He was playing left tackle, the new glory position that SI had run a feature article about. The only athletic thing I saw Whitfield do all day was push…I hardly saw him run all day.

When the Giants scored their last TD there was still well over five minutes to go in the game. The lead was only 13, but still huge numbers in the crowd left. I’m wired different, I guess…if I make such an investment in time and money on something that only happens eight times a year, I’m going to get there early and stay late. Amazing all the people that did the opposite…unless they were given tickets, which certainly could be the case. A fan chugged a squeeze bottle of ketchup for Falcon tickets, and the announcer asked “what would YOU do for Falcon tickets?” I heard a little girl behind me say “not much”!

There was a lot of standing to watch the game, which I tried to avoid to safe wear and tear on my back. The huge video screens came in handy, as did the guy next to me who didn’t stand much either. He actually dozed off during the game, so did the more rabid fan in front of me. The game wasn’t slowed by a lot of plays being replayed and reviewed…only one, which was hilarious. A Giant ran for a TD, but the replay seemed to clearly show him step out of bounds. The crowd erupted, and only then did Coach Mora walk out and throw his red flag on the field. The call was probably closer that it looked, but it was overturned. Of course the Giants then had a first and goal, and promptly scored.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Weekday Golf!

Here’s the recap of our round at the Steel Services’ 4TH annual Customer Appreciation Day Golf Tournament, held at The Club at River Forest, north of Forsyth. Again Phil Rodenbaugh outdid himself with the overwhelming hospitality, and we had a great time. Last year’s Phil’s team won the tourney, so this year he placed with a fellow playing his first round ever. Phil is always thoughtful in pairing the foursomes, last year placing Jeff and I with George, the GM of one of our large customers.

This year he paired us with a former co-worker of mine, Scott Johnston of Olympic Steel. Scott is in the same stage of life as me, with growing kids, though his golf game doesn’t show it as much as mine. He lives in my hometown and his son plays Little League where I did, and I even knew his son’s cross country coach. Spence Lovett, a young salesman for SteelFab in Dublin, also played with us. Darryl and I both were hitting the ball well on the driving range, which is always a bad sign for things to come.

Everyone appreciated the pains Phil took to ensure a shotgun start, and we started on the 4TH hole. On the first tee Phil was greeting all the carts as they drove past to their starting holes. This held up the line of carts just a little, and Charlie’s line “Phil, you’re going to have to be quiet for two minutes!” brought the house down.

The entire course is beautiful and immaculately maintained, and we enjoyed seeing the beautiful houses that line parts of the course. Here are the details of the round…

4TH - par 3…PAR…Scott was the only one to hit it close…just off the green. We all just missed the birdie putt.

5TH - par 4 dogleg left…PAR…Spence put his drive in the fairway, then I was happy to do the same…a straight, low drive down the middle (unfortunately, it was to be my best shot of the day). This gave Scott a chance to really cut loose and he hit a great drive. Spence and I hit good approach shots on the green, and we putted from mine. Again the all the birdie putts were close, but missed.

6TH - par 5 dogleg right…PAR…Darryl and Spence hit good drives, so Scott tried to turn the corner with his, but he missed. Darryl, Spence and I all hit good fairway shots that went right…all rolling off the sloping fairway. Scott hit a long fairway shot all the way to the bunker in front of the green, and he hit a chip just off the green, but none of us could convert the birdie opportunity.

7TH - par 3…BOGEY…Again we relied on Scott, who hit in the greenside bunker. My chip out was ok, but well past the hole, so we used Scott’s chip. Again we all came close…but missed.

8TH - par 4…simple & straight…BIRDIE…Scott hit a long drive and a nice approach to the green. My putts had started to be too strong, after being too weak on the putting green before the round. On most holes I went well past the hole, not even helping my team read the line. Putting second, Spence made the nice birdie putt.

9TH - par 4…green guarded by a lake on the left…PAR…Spence’s drive was in the fairway, but Scott’s was again further. He was also the only one to hit the green. Faced with a tough sidehill putt, Scott had to pull us through by first getting it close and making the par.

10TH - par 5…downhill dogleg left, then over a lake to the green…PAR…after I pulled the cart up too far to the wrong tee box, I promptly hit the cart with my drive. Spence and Darryl hit ok drives to the left that didn’t quite make it through the dogleg. Using another good drive by Scott, Darryl and I hit ok fairway shots, but Spence placed his perfectly…at the bottom of the hill at the base of the lake. Spence hit his approach well past the green and Darryl hit his in the bunker, but I hit a nice shot to the middle of the green. This gave Scott the chance to get it close, and he did. Once again all four of us came close, but missed the birdie putts.

11TH - par 3 with ‘Lion King’ rocks…BIRDIE…Spence’s tee shot hit and rolled back down the hill, and mine landed in the front bunker. Darryl’s tee shot was short, but it hit a rock and bounced high, landing in the center of the green. Going last, Scott made a nice long birdie putt.

12TH - par 4…BIRDIE…this was the long drive hole, so Scott went for it. He hit it long and straight, just about equal to the longest drive of the day. Spence and I hit good chip shots onto the green, and Spence made the birdie putt.

13TH - par 3…PAR…Faced with a very long birdie putt, Darryl, Spence and I did good jobs getting it close, and we saved par.

14TH - par 4 dogleg right downhill to green…PAR…after the three of us flubbed our tee shots, Scott had to play it safe with his. Darryl was the only one to put his approach shot on the green, and we all missed a makeble birdie putt.

15TH - par 4 dogleg left, then over the lake to the green…BOGEY…Scott got his drive in position, close to the water. He and I just missed clearing the lake, but Spence’s approach cleared the water. Scott’s chip landed closer then Darryl’s, but we all missed the putt for par.

16TH - par 3…carry over water…PAR…Spence’s tee shot cleared the lake but was past the green, but Scott hit his just off the fringe. I had hit a weak chip shot on the previous hole, but going first I redeemed myself, chipping it within two inches of the cup.

17TH - par 5 dogleg left to green…BIRDIE…on the tee Scott showed us how one could chip the ball onto the nearby cartpath, and the ball would roll down the hill and continue over the bridge and out on the fairway, as good as the drive I hit last year. Darryl hit a great drive, but it bounced to the base of a large rock. Scott hit another good drive, and wrapped his second shot around the dogleg and onto the green. We had a very long, winding uphill eagle putt, and Scott got it within inches.

18TH - par 4…wide fairway to elevated green….PAR…with a wide fairway in front of us, we all hit it in the trees…but both Darryl and Scott’s drives bounced out. Darryl’s approach was left and mine right, though both were playable. Spence hit his in the front bunker, so we played Scott’s approach just short of the green. He chipped it close, and we made par.

1ST - par 4…fairway narrows close to green…PAR…my tee shot was playable, but Spence hit a perfectly placed drive. Darryl and Spence hit their approach shots close but short, but Scott hit the center of the green. None of us made the long birdie putt.

2ND - par 4 dogleg left…PAR…Darryl hit a playable drive, so Scott hit his drive long. He had hoped it would turn, but it went straight…into the woods. Still, we had a playable shot, and Spence chipped on the green. Darryl put his long birdie putt closest.

3RD - par 5 dogleg left…BIRDIE…Scott ripped his best drive…320 yards! He called his approach shot to the green his best shot of the day. Spence and Darryl both came close with their eagle putts, and we finished the round with a birdie. Our score reflected our day…we hit 13 greens in regulation, but we just failed to make birdie putts.

Scott had to run to make his son’s game. Darryl and I both had our son’s ball practice to make as well, but we dropped by with Spence for a quick visit to the Clubhouse, where we were able to catch up on everyone’s round.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Will's Best Position?

I’ve actually had my head down working. Went to see Talladega Nights last night…the other guys like it. I laughed, but it really didn’t do anything for me.

Yes, a “kick-off meeting” couldn’t be productive. We had a quality system introductory meeting yesterday morning…there were only five of us here yesterday, so it would’ve been hard to get out of. I needed to go anyway, because I’m signed up for the program. But training won’t be until next spring, so hopefully the Cubs/White Sox/Brewers will be in town.

Today I played golf in one of our vendor’s tourney, south of Jackson. I was in the office for an hour or so, and a co-worker rode with me, whose company I enjoy…we were pared together, was fine. I don’t even have to use a vacation day. I had hoped that Damon was going, but he backed out and is instead visiting another vendor…partially because I had written a memo while in Orlando regarding how inventory needed to be taken at all our vendors in as short a time frame as possible.

Will’s best position…good question. He’d be a much better shortstop, centerfielder, or catcher if he played one position consistently. He enjoys centerfield the most, so he can run, dive, and throw. He likes catching second best, and he does a good job blocking pitches, even with hard-throwing pitchers. Lately he’s had a bobble or two, but that’s with some softer throwing pitchers bouncing balls to the plate. He’s ok at shortstop, but needs to work on charging slow grounders, getting rid of the ball quicker to first, making accurate throws, and relaying cutoff throws quicker. He just doesn’t get to play game after game at short.

You factor in hitting ability when determining ultimate position…I tell Will he needs to play short or second if possible, and he can always play outfield or catch.

As I might have said, Henry has done a good job developing other pitchers so Will can play defense and not pitch all the time. I consider pitching a necessary evil for a good Little League player…I think it helps keep their head in the game and makes them a better all-around player. Will’s mind wanders, and though he’s had plenty of coaches work on his mechanics, it’s hard for him to repeat the same movements pitch after pitch, game after game. But even in his pitching he has continued to improve season after season, particularly with his strikeout to walk ratio. He has struggled his last few outings.

When I interviewed here (in 1987) the personnel director (Ed Gossage) interviewing me had Tech knick-knacks on his desk, so I steered the conversation that way. I hadn’t heard of him, but he played on an undefeated Tech football team in the 1950’s…a lineman or something. Last year he wrote into the Sunday AJC memorabilia column regarding Sugar Bowl watches. At Tech one of my PE instructors was Wack Hyder. He knew my grandmother, who worked for years in the registrar’s office. So for years after that he would speak to me when we ran into each other, like at basketball games.

Wild the NYC story… -- New York Yankees manager Joe Torre says the plane that crashed into a building in Manhattan is registered to team pitcher Cory Lidle.

Anna just got the High School Musical soundtrack, though we haven’t seen it.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

ACC Champions?

Tech was so bad when I was there, particularly in football, so now I only pull for them, especially against Ceil’s Clemson team and UGA. But I have admired Dooley and Richt’s programs ever since the Herschel days, and now I enjoy following UGA more than GT. While I understand the reasons why the Braves win or lose, it’s hard to follow a 6 – 5 team year after year. How anyone could follow Clemson like my in-laws is beyond me. Academics isn’t a problem, though what is there to attract top athletes to Clemson? It is close to the ATL, but that’s it. Year after year they fall short of their expectations. It would be wild if they met in the ACC Championship game…there would be tons more Clemson fans than GT fans.

Will’s season ends October 28th. Had he not played for his Pony team last night, the older Colt team had asked him to fill in as well. Saturday the opponent didn’t show again, so eight of the Colt team stayed to play the Pony team. I didn’t keep score, but it was close…some said it was a tie. Two of the Colt boys who hadn’t pitched much took the hill, but they were still good and fast. Willie, my favorite, didn’t play. Will had an unassisted double play at short to kill a rally, and hit a couple of good line drives.

Those days when you could practice were great. I had the key to the old gym at our old church, before they tore it down. In college we practiced a lot…I even kicked a bunch. Now Will enjoys pitching to me, and it’s nice to hit, though we don’t get out as much as we should. Last night we were up until after 12:30 am after the game working on his reports…that’s when I wrote up his game recap for the grandparents.

I was able to develop two good relationships in Orlando…so with my old boss Steve, they are the three most influential people in Florida. Nelson, the GM of Florida, is a big baseball and football fan…he was impressed with my knowledge of stuff like early 70’s Kansas City Chiefs…Otis Taylor, Ed Budde, etc. He’s been to Fenway, Wrigley, etc…and is related to Robin Roberts, who he visits in Tampa. Nelson said he’d thank me for the work I did by bringing me to Miami next year for a Marlins game…and to play golf at Doral! Later I told Steve I wasn’t worthy of playing Doral, but Steve said that Nelson wasn’t worthy of playing there either.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Game Saving Double Play

Will turned a dramatic game-ending double play with the tying run racing to the plate, to save the Longhorns 7 – 6 victory last night in Powder Springs. It was at least the fourth straight game where Will turned a double or triple play.

Will came up in the top of the first with two on and one out, and drove the ball to deep left-center field. The ball bounced once, then hit the top of the fence, and bounded over for a ground rule double, knocking in the first two runs of the game.

In the second Will came up with two out and the bases loaded and hit the ball even harder…pulling it down the left field line. The sizzler bounced once and scooted down in the corner. All three runners scored easily, and Will pulled into second with a standup double. He took third on a passed ball and scored on a wild pitch. After two innings the Longhorns led 7 – 3, with Will accounting for six of the seven runs.

Coach Henry’s defensive plan finally worked, with Will catching and David Bartlett playing shortstop most of the game. In the first inning Will just missed throwing out a runner stealing second. He made a great throw, but the runner slid in just ahead of David’s tag. Later it appeared Will let a pitch roll away from him, trying to goad the runner to go to third. Then the next pitch sailed to the backstop, and bounced back close to Will. He grabbed the ball, squared his body, and made a perfect throw to Michael to nail the runner at third, ending the inning.

Will threw out another runner stealing in the fourth inning. After the leadoff hitter struck out, the number two hitter, the shortstop, lined a single into left field. On the second pitch he took off for second. Will made another perfect throw, and David made the catch and applied the tag, ending the threat and preserving the one run lead.

The Longhorns failed to score for the third straight inning in the top of the fifth. Will again reached base with a sharp hit after being down two strikes in the count, but he and Christian were stranded. Will finished with the only Longhorn hits of the game.

Up by only one run going to the bottom of the last inning, Henry stuck to his plan. Little slow-baller Russell went out to pitch his third inning, having only allowed one run in the first two inning he had pitched. Will went out to play center field. The cleanup hitter led off, and he quickly lined a single up the middle. Will charged it with the intent to throw the batter out at first. I don’t know if Paul was paying attention, so it was wise for Will not to throw.

Then the next hitter hit another sharp single up the middle. Again Will charged the ball. Coming up with it quickly, he had the runner coming from first. Second-baseman Christian was a step off the bag, ready to take the throw from Will to force the runner. But at the last minute shortstop David stepped in between Will and Christian, so the out couldn’t be made. The next batter grounded out short to first, putting the tying run on third and the winning run on second with only one out. The runner on second was Powder Springs best player, a tall, lean fast runner.

The next batter again lined the ball into centerfield, a high rope that Will had to reach to the right, across his body, to spear for the second out. The runner at third went back and tagged, heading home to score the tying run. Will took this in, but quickly turned and snapped a bullet throw to second base to double off the runner and end the game.

The Playoffs

I liked LA because of all the ex-Braves on the team, though Drew and Lofton aren’t my favorites. I like Nomar and Jeter. Not a fan of SD…like the Cards better. I had thought the same about Clemens. In general, it seems that the press forgets that it should be ok for players to look out for themselves…like JD Drew or Peyton/Eli Manning. Clemens wanted to stay close to home and win a championship (he warmed up in the bullpen Sunday!). He surely toyed with everyone before signing…he doesn’t seem like the type to change his mind a bunch. Did he think he’d be better off not pitching the entire year…fresher at playoff time? I don’t see how he wouldn’t have factored in that the Astros weren’t a shoo-in for the playoffs. You’d think at least one of the media blowhards would’ve called him out, but perhaps no one wanted to get on his bad side. I’ll use this as the subject on my Fox blog, and see if anyone comments.

My old boss Steve and I were driving to Einstein’s for lunch, and a guy was walking far ahead of us…looked like a clown from a distance…red cap that looked like a wig, plaid baggy shirt, droopy red shorts/pants. We drove 2 more miles to Einstein’s…later, as we were eating, the same guy walked past.

Last week Will’s team lost a close game to a good team in Smyrna. He didn’t pitch well the one inning he pitched, but scored twice in 3 plate appearances and made several good plays at short. Coach Henry’s strategy is to develop other pitchers and catchers so the two best players, Will and David, aren’t pitching and catching all the time. Will has got to play a lot of SS, which is good. Will made a diving catch on a looper over third base, and also caught a line drive and doubled the runner off first.

You’d think a more even-tempered Torre type would fare better there than the volatile Piniella, but imagine Girardi not talking to the NYC press! Hate to see Joe go out this way, but that’s still going out close to the top…nine straight division titles, and 11 of the last 13 years…with four World Series crowns. ESPN was running a stat of most consecutive years with 90 or more wins…13 or 14, I think…one more than the Braves and Cox.

You would’ve thought that the Yankee lineup could overcome any pitching shortfalls…similar to the Braves situation this year, except the Yankee lineup was one for the ages. Who goes free agent this year…Sheffield? With all the changes, the Red Sox could take the flag next year. I think pressure had something to do with it as well. Funny how the SI story last week was “Collision Course…is another Subway Series inevitable?” Go Cards!

This postseason is interesting because no one left is really hot, unless it’s the A’s. The Tigers limped home in September, as did the Cards and Mets. So whoever heats up in October can run the table. I won’t even rule out the Mets. I had forgotten the Piniella – ARod connection. Lou will manage the Yankees over the Marlins?

For Atlanta, it makes some sense that old hands Eddie Perez and Brian Snitker are promoted, to keep up the Braves winning tradition, as opposed to bringing in someone from another team. That’s something to lose so much of your coaching staff. I guess the Mets will want to keep Glavine, with Pedro missing so much of next year.

Perhaps now the I’m back to normal I can keep up better…the in-laws were here until Sunday as well…the GT – Clemson game on the 21st will be big, but no way GT wins without Ball. I guess it’s good to win when the team comes out flat…I guess you can’t be up for every game…at my age/experience, I’d know I’d only get to play so many games, and treat each as special…easy to say anyway. Without the two returns UGA really got beat…perhaps they should’ve gone to another QB. Saturday night the in-laws wanted to keep tabs on the South Carolina game, so we were flipping between that, UGA, and baseball.

Busy week…Will has a game and a project due tomorrow for school. Ceil is going out two nights, and Will has practice tomorrow and Thursday and church on Wednesday. I signed up for a golf outing Thursday to hang out with boss Damon.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Cy Young...Smoltz?

Greg Maddux won 15 games again...one off the NL lead. Stole a base, his second of the year, and 8th of his career. Got a great jump when the pitcher wasn't paying attention. Do you think Roger Clemens decision to come back has a little to do with Maddux behind him on the all time list? Smoltz won 15, plus how many times did he leave the game with the lead, only to have the bullpen lose it for him...eight or nine. Third in the NL in strikeouts. Last year Clemens won the Cy Young with a comparable year, right? Or is the sentiment to give the award to Trevor Hoffman?

Can the Twins knock off the Yanks? LA could topple the Mets and continue on to the Series. That after the Cards top the Padres. See Adam Wainwright closing out today's game?

Clemson lost to Boston College but beat FSU, Florida Atlantic, UNC, and La Tech. They have yet to play Wake, Temple, Tech, Va Tech on the road, Maryland, NC State, and South Carolina. GT still has Maryland, Clemson, Miami, NC State, UNC, Duke, and UGA. Shall be an interesting season.

Interesting Sagarin ratings this week...
1. USC
2. Ohio State
3. Michigan
4. Florida
5. Texas
6. Oregon
7. Louisville
11. Notre Dame
12. Clemson
14. Boise State
15. West Virginia
16. Tennessee
18. UGA
19. FSU
23. Virginia Tech
28. Boston College
30. Miami
31. Georgia Tech

Roger Clemens Last Game?

With the Braves - Astros Friday game potentially the last game ever for future Hall of Famer Roger Clemens, I took the boys to Turner Field for one last 2006 game. We got a late start, as Will was studying with classmates in Dunwoody. I finished up my month-end work and left early, and picked up Will's friend Joel Norman on the way home. Then I tried a new route that didn't work, that delayed us more. Still, we made it inside Turner shortly after 6:30...in time for Matthew for hit a couple of home runs at Tooner Field before the 7 pm start.

Joel had borrowed Will's navy Chipper jersey, so we were decked out...Will had his usual red Francoeur jersey, Matthew his white Chipper jersey, and I sported my grey Milwaukee era jersey. The boys danced and cheered, but were unsuccessful in their attempts to land on the big screen. We made it to our seats near the foul pole in time for a police ceremony, where Bobby Cox was named an honorary police chief. He replaced his Braves cap with the police cap, a humorous moment. Police motorcycles lined the warning track. The crowd of 31,034 was late arriving, as cars continued to file into the parking lot in the 5th inning. When Clemens made his first few pitches, there were hundreds of flashes from the cameras in the stands.

Clemens pitched well, scattering six hits in as many innings, only allowing two runs in the sixth. Pete Orr chopped high to the third base side of the mound. Clemens barehanded it, but Orr was safe on a close play. Renteria lined one off shortstop Adam Everett's glove into center, and Orr scampering around to third on the play. Chipper grounded down the line to first-baseman Lance Berkman, who charged the ball. His attempted backhand stab missed, and Orr scored. Renteria scored on Andruw's single to center. Clemens finished with no walks and seven strikeouts. His strikeout of Chipper in the fourth was the 4600th of his career. Clemens threw 94 pitches...61 strikes.

With two out in the top of the seventh and a runner on first, the crowd had started to buzz when pinch-hitter Chris Burke moved into the on deck circle. When he was announced, the crowd had already begun the applaud Clemens. When Roger bounced up to the top of the steps and doffed his cap, the crowd stood and continued to applaud. Clemens pointed in appreciation to the crowd, then across to the Braves dugout, and then to the players on the field.

But it was Braves pitcher Chuck James that stole the show, earning his 11th win. He had a no-hitter going into the fifth inning, and only allowed four hits in seven innings, including a solo home run by Craig Biggio in the seventh. Everitt had an infield roller that died in the grass, and Endsberg had a pop to center that Andruw didn't get a good jump on. James walked two and struck out eight, including the last two he faced...throwing 109 pitches...71 strikes.

Is this the new Jeff Francoeur? He saw 19 pitches in his four plate appearances, going 1 - 3 with a walk. His single was to right field. The Astros just about played a shift on Brian McCann. Poor Adam LaRoche...he struck out all four times, though he worked the count...seeing 26 pitches in four at bats. Renteria and Chipper hit back to back homers in the 8th. When Andruw stepped in, the pitching coach trotted out to the mound for a visit. Feet wide, Andruw stayed in the box for a long time, before backing out. He then lined an 0 - 2 pitch that the shortstop speared.

The Braves had a strike'em out / throw'em out double play in the 5th, when McCann threw out Everitt at third.

Wickman came in to pitch the 9th, getting two quick fly outs before allowing two hits, before striking out pinch hitter Aubrey Huff to end the game. We moved down to the lower deck for an above average fireworks show...with many effects I'd never witnessed before. Traffic jammed downtown after the game, with Braves fans mixing with Thrashers fans, as well as football fans in town for the Saturday Florida A&M / Tennessee State game.

GT Beats Virginia Tech!

Last week I said no way GT beats VT…I’m glad it happened, though. Ball is too inconsistent for them to run the ACC table…hope I’m wrong on that one as well. I see the AJC is already hopping on the bandwagon…then as Richt said, the players start thinking they’re something, and they don’t play as well. Last night I watched that special on the Cubs.