Wednesday, March 28, 2007

March 24th Afternoon Games

Saturday afternoon the Titans won both games of a doubleheader, twice beating the John’s Creek Jaguars. Will batted cleanup in both games.

In game one he went 3 for 3…two singles and a double over the centerfielder’s head. His single in the third was particularly impressive. With the count was no balls and two strikes, and knowing the umpire liked to call outside pitches strikes, Will swung at an outside pitch...driving it through the hole in the right side of the infield. The runner from first had been stealing second on the pitch, and he continued on to third, drawing a throw. This allowed Will to hustle down to second on the play. The next hitter lined out to the rightfielder, and the runner on third tagged up and scored. When Will saw the throw go to the plate, he advanced to third.

Will caught for three innings, allowing no stolen bases. He made a nice play when a batter grounded a ball straight down...the ball died in the dirt, right in front of the plate. Will popped out from behind the plate, grabbed the ball, and easily threw out the runner at first.

He also played shortstop for three innings. In the 6th inning Will went to his right and backhanded a ball in the hole, and quickly fired a throw to second base to force the runner. Later he caught a line drive to end the inning.

The next inning the batter hit a grounder up the middle. The pitcher got a glove on it, but the ball rolled behind the mound and died. Will raced in, scooped up the ball, and quickly fired to first…barely beating the runner.

In game two Will caught the first part of the 4th inning, but the rest of the defense could not convert several ground balls into outs. With a slow pitcher on the mound, Will still almost threw out a base-stealer at second with a very impressive throw. Then when the coach changed pitchers Will was moved back to shortstop, the position he played the other 4-1/2 innings of the game. There he had a putout and two assists.

At the plate Will had another good game, scoring all three times he batted. In the first Will hit another ball over the center-fielder’s head, and raced around for an RBI triple. In the third, again with two strikes, he singled to center, driving in another runner. He stole second and scored from there on a hit.

In the fourth Will hit a grounder to the third-baseman. Will hustled down the line, and the throw brought the first-baseman off the bag. The first-baseman tried to make a tag, but Will put a move on him and was safe. After advancing to third, he tagged up and scored on a line drive to center.

Safe at Home

Don't Like Being Busy

We’ve been so busy that I gave away my Sunday afternoon Hawks/Mavs tickets…then I had an asthma attack, perhaps due to the pollen. Friday we had small group. Matthew also had a game Saturday. Game Monday, and Will’s travel team played last night and today. Then Matthew plays Thursday. The rehearsal dinner is Friday, with our neighbor’s wedding Saturday night. Ceil and I have separate Saturday meetings for the April Jekyll Island trip, and Will’s team is playing in a Sandy Springs tourney this weekend as well. And it’s the end of the month here at work.

Will’s rec team has won two straight and 3 of their last 4…Saturday was a no-hitter, only one walk and one error away from a perfect game. Will went 7 for 9 in 3 games Saturday, and made several good plays at short and catcher. If I have to be so busy, at least it's baseball.

What do you think about Dave Justice entering the Braves HOF? Seems like he’s just the first from that era to become “eligible”. Will Pendleton not be considered as long as he’s on the coaching staff? How many from the 90’s will get in? Chipper, Andruw, Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz, Cox, JS, Leo…any more?

Rowland’s Office said TP when he retires, as well as Leo. Lemke had some big hits, but you wonder how many they’ll put in, considering they haven’t put in many from the 57/58 teams. Rico Carty could also rank up there, considering they put in Garr last year. Bob Horner? I guess the HOF feels they can be patient, and put in one or two per year.

More on the sermon series later.

I’m “reading” Dan Brown’s ‘Digital Fortress’, which is pretty good.

Lang was published in Sunday’s New York Times.

The Pitch

Safe at Second

Coaching Move

I’ll pat myself on the back for a string I pulled that helped spark our late rally. We came in to bat in the top of the 6th down 6 – 1, and I began posting the fielding positions for the bottom of the inning. I had accidentally left one of our better fielders on the bench two straight innings…I try not to do that to anyone. Though I had seven innings of defense already plotted, I had strayed from my plan due to pitching changes. I put Corey down to catch and the not-so-speedy Andrew playing corner infield.

Just then Andrew singled to start the inning. I quickly noted that the “last batted out” was one of our better baserunners, David Bartlett (younger brother of the great Willie Bartlett, now playing JV ball at Campbell). For the first time all year I pinch ran for the catcher…something I had forgotten about up to that point.

Later another slow runner singled to clear the bases, he represented the tying run. I considered pinch-running for him, which technically I could’ve done were he the pitcher in the bottom of the inning. I didn’t, as he hadn’t even practiced pitching much, though he’ll at least pitch in practice games. The last batted out was only marginally better, so I didn’t make the move.

Will threw 59 pitches under tough conditions. It’s no myth that you can hit a baseball farther with a metal bat, right? If you were 13 and had a chance to hit the ball over the fence, wouldn’t you use a wood bat? Guess it’s like that video they run before the NP service, for

Good O’Brien blog on why Kelly Johnson is the frontrunner to win the second-base job.

March 24th Morning Games

Saturday was another all-day baseball day. Ceil had dugout / field maintenance duty for Matthew’s 9:30 game. She said he hit the ball both times at bat, just not very far. He didn’t get any balls hit to him in the field.

Will’s Warriors won as convincingly as a team can win, as three pitchers combined to toss a No-Hitter. Offensively they scored six runs each time they came to bat, for a final score of 18 - 0.

Will walked in the first inning, stole second, tagged up and advanced to third on Clay’s pop out, and scored when a pickoff attempt sailed past third.

In the second inning Will popped out. Later Jake hustled to beat out an infield grounder, but tripped over the bag and scraped himself up pretty good. As the last batted out, Will pinch ran for him. Andrew was the next batter up. Will stole second on the first pitch, and advanced to third when the next pitch that bounced past the catcher. Then Andrew ripped a single into left field, and Will scored. Since Andrew was to be the catcher in the next inning, after Will crossed the plate I had Will pinch-run for Andrew as well. Again Will stole second on the first pitch, and third on the next pitch. Will later scored on a wild pitch.

With the bases loaded in the third, Will walked on four pitches, and later scored from first on David’s bases-loaded double.

Will's Longest Hit

Will’s travel team played on the odd-shaped field at Fullers Park. The fence makes the outfield look like a wedge, because it’s not rounded off. The left field corner is the deepest part of the outfield…the sign says 330 feet.

Will went back to a metal bat, and pulled a high fly ball down the line. I immediately lost sight of the ball, so I looked at the left fielder. To my surprise he was running back toward the corner, and he pointed like the ball was foul. Will slowed as he rounded first base…both he and the first base coach thought it was foul. The umpire pointed fair. Some said the ball kicked up chalk when the ball landed just short of the fence. Will hustled over to third for a stand-up triple.

It had to be the longest ball he’s ever hit, and it was obvious had he not gotten under it quite so much the ball would’ve easily cleared the fence. Jay Smith said it would’ve been a home run on the big Mt. Paran field.

Batting cleanup, Will walked in the first, and scored from second on a single to left field. He also converted several chances at shortstop into outs at first, and had some nice stops behind the plate, and a strong throw to second that almost nailed a base-stealer.

After the game the team voted him co-captain.

Comeback Falls Short

The Warriors almost staged a dramatic comeback last night in the unfriendly confines of Shaw Park. Our opponents played well…time after time we hit the ball to them, and they made the catch. We put the ball in play 17 times, and they only made two errors.

Under tough circumstances, there were many bright spots. It’s always tough to pitch on the road, with a mound and a different plate umpire’s strike zone unfamiliar and with holes.

Curtis pitched a fine 15 pitch scoreless first inning, throwing more strikes than balls. With a full count to their dangerous number three hitter, Curtis’ first inning walk turned out good, particularly when he then struck out the cleanup hitter to end the inning. Two of Curtis’ second inning walks also came on full counts, and the only hit he allowed was an infield roller that shortstop Will tried to sling over to first. The only second-inning ball not caught was a grounder that took a bad hop on third-baseman Jake. Curtis fell victim to the plate umpire’s interpretation not only of the strike zone, but also of the “batter gives himself up on a dropped third strike rule.” Curtis seemed to hesitate before taking off for first, inducing the catcher to throw to first, allowing David to race home with a run.

Will relieved in a tough spot and pitched well. Two of his four walks were on full counts, and he struck out three, not allowing a run in 2-1/3 innings. He also threw more strikes than balls. Will hit two nice line drives, one foul and another deep in the gap. Rumor is both would’ve cleared the fence had he been swinging a metal bat instead of wood. He almost made a spectacular play at short, and he also did a good job catching.

Josiah earned his turn on the mound with an impressive performance in last Thursday’s intersquad game. Last night he continued to pitch well, facing the top of the Shaw Park order. He struck out the last batter to end a rally. Josiah hit the ball both times, collecting an RBI when he beat out a fumbled grounder to first. He then stole second and later scored on Michael’s single. Josiah also caught a tough popup at third.

At the plate we put the bat on the ball. Corey led off the game with a swinging bunt hit, stole second, advanced to third, and scored on David’s line drive. Corey did a great job blocking pitches with runners on base in the second, and later ran down a ball in deep right-center to hold the batter at third.

Clay’s strong throw came real close to nailing a base-stealer at second, and he also blocked several pitches in the dirt. At first base he made a smart play on a roller down the line for an out, reminding the coaches of the slick-fielding Adam LaRoche. Clay had a big smile on his face after that play.

David hit the ball hard both times up to bat. He raced to third on his RBI single to right field when he alertly noticed no one was covering the base. Pinch-running, he set a wonderful example at third base, not risking making an out at home on a passed ball, instead waiting for the right scoring opportunity. In the field he wisely held on to a cutoff throw, running the ball in the pitcher instead of risking a throw.

Jake drilled a single to left and alertly raced to second. He made a nice first-inning running catch in centerfield, and made a good stretch at first for the inning-ending putout.

Andrew singled to start the 6th inning rally. Playing third base for the first time all year, he made a fine catch and throw for the second out in the first inning. He also did a fine job catching Will in the third. Andrew made an exciting putout at first base by quickly picking up the ball, a play you rarely see successfully executed. Andrew’s fine play last night could’ve been because he wore my belt!

John Fulton nearly beat out a grounder to short, and walked and scored in the sixth. He had two putouts in the second, including a tough catch of a popup in the outfield grass.

Nick walked and scored in the sixth, and hung in tough even when striking out. Playing third base for only the second time, he easily converted a tough grounder into an out at first, with a strong, accurate throw.

Christian hit the ball sharply both times…once the pitcher had to make a tough play to get him out. His sixth-inning groundout drove home Nick. Christian had a putout playing first, and caught a high, deep fly ball in left.

Michael had yet another RBI hit to keep the 6th inning rally going, and also reached on a walk. I’ll check, but he must be among the team leaders in RBI hits.

Russell walked twice, both times on full counts after hanging tough, fouling off several pitches. He also hung tough behind the plate after the first pitch of the inning was foul tipped off his ribs. Russell also out-sprinted Jake to win their 5th inning race around the field.

Joey hung tough at the plate and fell victim to the umpire’s changing strike zone. He shined in several aspects of the game, as he also completed his Algebra homework in the dugout, putting him ahead of his teammates in that department.

Thomas arrived late and was immediately inserted into the game on short notice. Despite a hurting leg, he raced to first on a dropped third strike, only to be called out by the ump citing the “giving himself up” rule…though he didn’t leave the batters box. In right field he made a smart play that might’ve gone unnoticed. When the hitter drove a one hopper right to him, Thomas quickly threw to first to try and throw out the batter. The throw wasn’t in time, but it was an alert play that can sometimes nail a batter who doesn’t hustle. Thomas also pitched well in last Thursday’s scrimmage, despite his legs hurting him then.

I’m enjoying working with these young men, and appreciate the help by all the dads (and moms). Coaches McElwain, Ellis, White, Hamil, and Bartlett are five of the finest coaches at Mt. Paran, and we’re fortunate to have them working with the team.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Matthew's Bases-Loaded "Triple"

Matthew’s team beat the Defenders Saturday afternoon. The game was originally scheduled for 9 am, but was pushed back to 3 pm due to the cold. Matthew alternated between third base and left field every inning, and cleanly handled the only ground ball hit to him.

He fouled off several pitches in his first at bat, including one that was called foul, though it was rolling close to the foul line when a coach picked it up. It could’ve easily rolled back into fair territory. Matthew grounded back to the pitcher his next time up, driving in the runner from third. The pitcher and first baseman made good plays to record the groundout.

The Defenders only scored two runs in the top of the fourth inning, and though the Storm led 10 – 6, the coaches decided to play another half inning, despite the cold. Matthew came up with the bases loaded, and chopped a hard grounder off a low pitch past the centerfielder. This drove in all three runners on base. Matthew was almost to second base when the throw came in from center. The shortstop couldn’t handle the throw, and the ball rolled right in front of Matthew. He hesitated, then continued running…crossing second and easily raced safely to third. He then scored the fifth run of the inning on Carson’s single, ending the game.

Matthew finished the game as the only player to drive in four runs.

Anna's Recital

Right after the game ended I hustled over to the Eastside Gym for Anna’s recital. I arrived during the second dance and trotted up the stairs to the running track, to look down for Ceil and Matthew. After saying hello to Jeff Pipe, I took my seat on the third row behind the dancers. I saw Sunny Freund dance, but didn’t see her parents.

Anna danced beautifully. After her second dance Matthew and I quietly snuck out, then ran around to my car. Traffic was heavy on the 120 Loop, but we made it back to the field in time for Matthew to be the last Storm player to take batting practice. The wind was blowing so hard that I stood in the cage to hold to net from blowing it into the batter.

After Matthew’s game, we made it home just in time to zip off to Pappasito’s to celebrate Rachel’s 12th birthday. We then drove inside 285, down Northside Drive to Buckhead, past the Governor’s Mansion, then over to Chastain Park, back up Lake Forest to Sandy Springs, across the river into East Cobb. We stopped off at Publix for ice cream and the Sunday AJC, for the Peachtree Road Race application.

Warriors Win Again

Will’s Warriors beat the Powder Springs Cardinals Saturday morning 14 – 10, without four of the older players…Will, Andrew, Russell, and Jake. David gave up only four runs in the first three innings. Clay pitched a scoreless fourth, and the Warriors added four more runs to bring the score to 14 – 4.

Everyone pitched in for the victory…Corey reached base all three times and had a 2-RBI single. He caught three innings and caught a key foul pop.

John Fulton continues to contribute more each game. Batting second, he scored a run and reached base twice.

Clay went 3 for 3 with 2 RBI and scored a run. He caught two innings and pitched two innings, caught a foul pop, and struck out two. Besides when he hit a home run in Mustang, this could’ve been his best game playing for Mt. Paran.

Besides being the winning pitcher, David added an assist while playing shortstop. He struck out five and only walked two.

Josiah walked twice and scored once, and had three putouts playing first base. Christian twice hit the ball right at infielders before walking, and had a putout at first. Michael had a bases-loaded double and scored two runs. Joey also had an RBI single, scored a run, and walked.

Curtis went 2 for 2 with a walk, had an RBI, and was the only player to score three runs. Playing shortstop all but one inning, he had two assists.

Nick also had perhaps his best game ever, going 3 for 3 with an RBI, scoring twice. He played more third base, and knocked down a hard grounder.

Thomas also had a big game. He reached base all three times, with two walks and an RBI single. He scored from second base twice. He also cleanly fielded a grounder playing second base, throwing out the batter at first.

Weekend On The Go

I took off work Friday, and spent the entire day organizing and cleaning house. Matthew’s practice was cancelled, then he and I went to small group. Will left on his youth retreat to Chattanooga, and Ceil went to pick up her former roommate Dawn, who flew in for the weekend with her daughter Rachel.

Sunday wasn’t much more relaxing. After the 9 am North Point service I drove over to my office to get Will’s ID for the race application. I gassed up the van and investigated the noise the back tire was making…it was about to tear apart. After picking up the gang after KidStuf I dropped them back home, then Matthew drove over to WellStar, but Tire Deals was closed. The Firestone across from Trader Joes quickly put on two new tires, then Matthew and I drove downtown to take in the Thrasher game. We made it to our seats just before the anthem, beating our hosts Reid, Andrew, and Nathan Hall.

Exciting game against on of the best teams in the NHL, the Buffalo Sabres. When Buffalo tied the game late in the first period, you could see the number of Sabres fans, at least a quarter of the crowd. Former Little League World Series Pitching Hero Chris Drury now plays with Buffalo. The Sabres tied the game at three late in the game, just after the Thrashers goalie was dazed with a hard shot. Overtime started with the Thrashers a man down, after a slashing penalty was called as regulation expired.

Overtime started tensely as the Thrashers successfully killed the penalty, and as the five minute period wound down, I thought I’d be seeing my first shootout. Then a Sabre player was sent to the penalty box with one minute left, and the Thrashers scored the game-winning power-play goal with 35 seconds left.

After the game Matthew and I drove straight to the Earharts for dinner, beating Ceil and Dawn, who had just picked up Will from his youth retreat. Tired, I came home early.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Dirt Face

Tuesday Warrior Loss

Will’s Warriors team lost 13 – 3 last night in Powder Springs. The team didn’t make many errors, but too many times the Yankees blooped hits just out of our defenders reach, and then ran the bases aggressively. Several Warrior runners were stranded and a couple of other runners were tagged out on the basepaths.

The game started good. Corey bunted for a hit, and Will walked on four pitches. Will stole second, then David and Clay walked. But with one run in and the bases still loaded with no out, the Warriors couldn’t score again. Jake’s infield grounder forced Will at home, David was picked off third, and Andrew struck out.

Will caught the first inning, played shortstop in the third, and pitched the fourth inning. Will knew the leadoff hitter would try to bunt, and purposely threw the first pitch high. The bunt landed just fair near third, and the batter barely beat out the throw. Then Will struck out the next batter, and another batter hit a slow roller between the mound and the first-base line. Will ran over and scooped it up, and continued a few steps more and tagged out the batter. He then looked the runner back to third. Will struck out the final batter of the inning.

Will’s second at bat came in the top of the fifth. He grounded the first pitch of the inning hard, directly at the third-baseman. The third-baseman knocked the ball down, picked it up, and threw wildly to first, and Will was safe. He stole second, and took third on a passed ball, and later scored on Jake’s single up the middle.

They practice at the Pony Field tomorrow at 5 pm and plan on playing an intersquad game, to give all 15 players an extra opportunity to get infield playing time and at-bats, as well as opportunities for everyone who wants to pitch.

Rounding Third

Warriors First Win

Will’s Warriors’ Saturday morning rematch with the Shaw Park RiverCats started out quite similarly to last Saturday’s game. The Warriors jumping out to a big lead, then the game slowed down as Shaw Park continued to walk the bottom half of the Warrior order. This time I left the starting pitcher in for a third inning, then Clay McElwain closed out the 12 – 4 win by pitching a one run final inning.

Behind 2 – 1 going to the bottom of the second, the nine of the first ten Warriors reached base and scored. Will was the 10th batter of the inning, and he walked on a 3 – 1 pitch. With Corey on third, the pitcher threw over to first. Will got back safely, but the throw went past the first-baseman. When Will was rounding second, the throw back sailed past second into left field, allowing Will to circle the bases and score.

David Bartlett pitched well, giving up just one run in each of the three innings he pitched. One of the runs was unearned. In each inning he threw more strikes than balls, finishing with 22 balls and 38 strikes. He struck out one batter in each inning, and only walked one batter. David faced five batters each inning.

David hit a single to center in the first to drive home Corey, but was doubled off first base on a line drive to right field. He walked in his other two at bats.

Will played shortstop the first three innings, and caught two fly balls.

With a 10 – 3 lead and a new pitcher, this was where things fell apart last week. The inning didn’t start well when the first batter reached on an error, and the second batter walked on four pitches. The next batter popped one back foul. Will tore off his mask and raced to the backstop. With mask still in his bare hand, he made a nice catch of the pop right next to the fence. Then Curtis stabbed a line drive at shortstop, and little second-baseman John Fulton fielded a grounder and threw to first to end the threat.

In the fourth Will came up with two out and runners on second and third. He drove a 1 – 2 pitch high and deep to left-center, past the chasing outfielders. Both runners scored easily, and Will had a two-RBI stand up double. He stole third base when David drew a walk on a full count, but Clay’s hard grounder up the middle was backhanded by the second-baseman to force David, ending the inning.

Off With A Hit

Titans' March 10th Win

Saturday afternoon Will’s Titans travel team easily beat the Wolfpack.

Will was the starting pitcher and set the tone of the game, striking out the three batter he faced, the top three in the order. He threw only two balls, one each to the first two hitters, both as waste pitches after going ahead in the count 0 – 2. Will struck out the number three hitter on three pitches. All three strikeouts were on a called strike three.

For the second straight game Will batted cleanup. In the first inning he walked on a 3 – 1 count, then he stole second base. He advanced to third on a grounder to short, and scored on a base hit.

The Titans batted around in the first, and with two out Will beat out an infield grounder to deep short, driving in the runner from third. He stole second base again, and scored from second on a single to left.

Will caught the second and third inning and did not allow a stolen base.

In the bottom of the third Will came up with two out. I had been pretty quiet the entire game, tending the team’s scorebook and pitch charts, but I noticed the left-fielder playing well over in the gap…so I called out “inside pitch!” Will got the message and pulled the first pitch down the third-base line, but the third-baseman made a nice backhand catch, and he threw out Will at first on a close play.

Will played two innings at shortstop, and one inning of outfield, but didn’t get any balls hit to him.

In the bottom of the fifth Will came up with two on. Again he grounded an inside pitch down the third base line, and the third-baseman made an even more outstanding play. But this time the grounder was foul, giving Will another chance. He drove the best hit of the day, a deep low line drive into the gap in left-center, all the way to the fence for a two-RBI triple. This was his second triple in two travel ball games. Will then scored on a single to right.

Will finished the game as the most productive player, with two hits, a walk, three runs scored, and three RBI.

Fielding Photo

Matthew's Big Game

Matthew’s Storm won a close game Saturday, stopping the other team from scoring to hang on for the win. Matthew again had a good game. On defense he played shortstop, third-base, and left field. He again gobbled up several grounders in the infield…whenever an infielder can corral a ball, this prevents baserunners from taking extra bases and scoring more runs.

He was able to catch one grounder at third and step on the base for one putout. Another time he caught a grounder and threw to second, but the runner beat the throw.

While in left field he ran down a ball and fired to second. The shortstop applied the tag for the out…Matthew’s first outfield assist of the year.

Coach Turner employed his 13 year old son Zach as the pitcher, and team hitting improved a bunch. Zach has played on teams with Will in the past. After the game Tim asked if Will would be able to pitch when Zach has conflicts.

Matthew batted third in the order and got two hits…once making it to second, and then making it all the way to third on the hit.

While Matthew was playing shortstop, Ceil saw him hold up two fingers. Ceil thought he was signaling the outfield the number of outs. We asked him about it after the game, and he said that when the umpire held up two fingers, Matthew held his hand up and waved hello to the umpire!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Other Late February Happenings

Ate at that Bennett Street Micks a bunch. We never went to the one on Ptree not far from the Varsity, but occasionally went to the one at Perimeter, only once to Cumberland. The one in downtown Decatur was fun, but crowded. We also like the one at Underground, which was also convenient. We wore Micks out.

Houston is big and flat. Brantley and I went to a Houston’s, and the next night I ate with my college roommate. Andy dated his wife’s sister. Our office isn’t far from the Astrodome and Reliant Stadium…Brantley is staying right next to them. Not too far from Hobby Airport. Guess I’m not going to the Heat/Rockets game, or Houston vs. Tulane.

Friday I got to the field in time for most of Matthew’s practice. He may concentrate better at practice when I’m not there, though he knows he needs to go all out in games. The Pony guys didn’t hit and pitch Saturday when facing peers.

See the egg-breaking mythbuster at NPCC? That bearded guy used to be a recurring character at KidStuf…now he is one of the big youth leaders.

I painted Anna’s room, and will be repainting a lot of trim upstairs. Ceil got a new dresser at IKEA, and Will put it together. Hopefully we’ll get a lot done on our house between now and July.

I try and bone-up on SF several days a week. We’re not big planners, but I’ll try and have it all mapped out before we go…what we’ll be doing each day, etc. Giants tickets go on sale, so I thought I’d go ahead and buy for the section I want. Then I’ll book the lodging in April or May, so I’m not paying for everything at once. We also have the April Jekyll Island trip.

Spring Training Bits

There was an article in the Chicago Sun-Times regarding Cubs numbers. Jason Marquis is the first to wear 21 since Sammy Sosa left. The Cubs said that for a number to be retired, the player must be in the Hall of Fame. They haven’t let anyone wear Ron Santo’s number, and this year a player requested 31, but they turned him down. So the Cubs are saying that 31 will be retired when Greg Maddux enters the Hall. Santo, Gil Hodges, and Jim Kaat weren’t voted in by the Seniors Committee.

Makes you wonder what cap Maddux will have on his plaque. After Dave Winfield went in, didn’t they change how the cap is determined? Wade Boggs wanted to have a Tampa Bay cap, but it wasn’t allowed.

Hear Dale Murphy’s comments on steroids, etc? Strong. He has been hurt as much as anyone, since his numbers pale in comparison to that bunch.

Tim Hudson was wearing Under Armor cleats instead of his usual Pumas.

I’m not that crazy with those red side panels on the BP caps…or on the BP jerseys. Don’t mind the navy bills, though. Of course the uni-watch community is all up in arms about this as well. I figure every few years they’ll change them in order to sell more apparel. Those will be what we’ll see when we get to games early this year for BP. Supposedly Eric Gagne isn’t wearing a BP cap…he’s wearing a game cap, so it will get dirty faster.

Interesting that the price for fans on the new non-wool caps are higher than last year’s wool cap. I have no strong opinion, but wonder if the new cap will look shinier. Uni-Watch had a good interview last week with a guy who had an extensive cap collection going back to the 70’s.

I liked that Rowland’s Office blog…good point on Dews catching. Guess that’s why he wears all that gear. The other blog certainly has a lot of detailed info.

Amazing what Calvin Johnson continues to do. Hopefully he’ll be drafted by a decent team who can make good use of him…perhaps Tampa Bay.


Helping out at some of Matthew’s practices, I noticed that Matthew is struggling at the plate. He is usually a slow starter, but he is hitting the whiffleballs with authority. He has his great head coach Tim again, but Tim doesn’t think he’s a good pitcher, so he delegates the task. The guy he has pitching usually throws it high, though it may drop at the end. Could be a long season, and not just for Matthew.

During last year’s championship season Tim’s assistant coach Tracy pitched. Tracy often spoke of knowing where to pitch each boy, and that Matthew could hit pitches in any location. The team flopped badly in one game he missed. Tracy has coached his sons at Mt. Paran for years, and might’ve been an athlete in his younger years…he’s about forty. His youngest son Stephen, Matthew’s age, may be the athlete of the bunch, a scrappy little infielder who can get the bat on the ball.

Will had played just one season with Tracy’s older boys, Alex and Jake. Both are participating in HS sports…at least one is a wrestler. Neither stood out the year they played with Will, but this year Jake is on Will’s rec team and from the minute he walked on the field, he has been impressive. Many struggled Saturday when they faced each other, but Jake hit well. He’d like to play second, but I’ll also need him at third. I have him penciled in batting 5th in the order. I’ll juggle the order so no one is always at the bottom.

Tracy is active with his kids…I know they’re big into soap box derby. They missed the bowling fundraiser because of Wednesday night commitments at their church. He’s coaching Stephen’s team this spring but has helped out at several of our practices, and will be a base coach for us when he’s there. I called him one of the best coaches in the program. We’re not that close, but last year when I’d email the team stats and other comments to Tim, I began copying him. He’s been included this spring on my informational emails to team parents, but nothing beyond that. I don’t know where they live…it could be not far from us, perhaps across 120 from The Avenue.

Yesterday morning I came in to work early and found an email from an address I didn’t recognize, with the subject line “our house burned to the ground last night.” Tracy must’ve been in shock. He had sent the email to about six guys…I was the only one from baseball. The fire started at 1 am and they lost everything but the clothes on their backs…but they were all safe, as was their dog. His in-laws live near Indian Hills, they’re staying there…that’s where he had sent the email from. Their church, our Little League, and the kids’ schools are all helping out

Will's Travel Team Opener

In the Opening Ceremony assistant coach Frank’s older son was recognized for being the first Pony player to hit a home run on the huge Pony Field. Luke homered in his last at bat in the last game of the spring season.

After we took team photos, Will watched the older Colt team play. Matthew and I walked up to the younger fields and saw several of his teammates in action. Little Lucas lined two hits into the outfield and threw out a batter from the outfield fence. Noelle’s son Nathan was thrown out by catcher Stephen Ellis. The youngest Turner boy tallied his first assist, while his parents were asking me about Luke’s spring home run.

At that same time down on the Pony Field Luke stepped into the batters box. He had played football in the fall, so this was his first game and at bat since the homer. This time he slugged the pitch deep to right center…and over the fence for another home run. And just like last time, in his jubilation he missed first base and had to retrace his steps.

Matthew and I made a quick run to McDonalds, Will’s travel team game finally began. Will played third base the first two innings and then shortstop for three innings, finishing with three putouts and two assists.

Batting cleanup, Will drove in a run in the bottom of the first by lacing a single into right-center. He stole second, but was stranded when the next two hitters popped out.

In the third Will lined a pitch right to the shortstop. Then leading off the sixth, the first pitch came in high and inside. Will leaned down, and I heard the slightest sound of the ball nicking his helmet. The umpire heard it as well, and Will was awarded first. He stole second and third, and scored on a single.

Though the team lost, Will finished the game as the most productive player.

Will's Warriors Season Opener

Will and I were at the ballpark Saturday from 8 am until 6 pm, but it was a fun day. Matthew had his team photos taken at 8:15, then both boys warmed up for their 9 am games. Ceil and Anna walked back and forth between the two close fields during the games.

As the Pony team warmed up, Jake Ellis showed up sporting a brand new uniform, tennis shoes, and spikes, since all his family’s possessions had been lost in the house fire early Thursday morning. Coach Tracy Ellis showed up with new gear as well, and he gave me much needed relief in the batting cage. He later said he knew what to do on the ball field, meaning in the course of the week’s strange events, he was doing many unfamiliar tasks. As the morning wore on he would receive many more hugs from the many men he had coached with for so many years.

Will’s Warrior team was involved in an interesting game down on the Pony Field. Wanting a strong defense against the top of the Shaw Park batting order in the first inning, I placed Will behind the plate. He was able to tally two assists in the inning, neither throwing out base stealers – quite an oddity for a catcher. Both plays involved a throw to third that sailed past the base. Both times Will chased bown the ball near the third-base dugout and quickly tossed the ball to third for the putout…once to third-baseman Jake, and then a second time to Curtis, the pitcher backing up the play.

After Corey led off the game with a walk, Will belted a line drive over the right-fielder’s head that rolled to the fence. Will raced around the bases and beat the relay throw to the plate by several steps, finishing his inside-the-park home run standing up. David and Clay both walked, then Jake tomahawked a high pitch over the left-fielder’s head for a two-run triple.

Curtis completed his second fine inning of pitching by chasing down a short pop, then throwing to first to double off the runner. Will added a putout at short. Then the Warriors first nine batters scored in the bottom of the second, to go ahead 14 – 5. After fouling off several pitches, Will worked the count full, and walked with the bases loaded. He later scored when Jake smashed a hard liner off the second-baseman’s foot. The ball caromed all the way into left-center field, all three runners scored, and Jake wound up at third.

This half inning took a long time, and considered leaving Curtis in to pitch the third. But I stuck to my script, and gave hard-throwing lefty Nick some experience. Nick struck out the first batter he faced, and got a second out after shortstop David committed an error. Then another infield error, and the rival RiverCats plated ten unearned runs to take the lead.

There was time for only one more Warrior at-bat, but with the bottom third of the 15 batter order due up, the RiverCats retired the side to win the game.

Matthew's Season Opener

Late last week I had written about my concern regarding Matthew and his teammates hitting the pitcher that Coach Turner had selected to pitch to the boys. This turned out to be a factor, as many boys did struggle with the pitching. But in the first inning the first few Storm batters were able to circle the bases with home runs. Matthew hit the ball past the first baseman in his first at bat, and scampered around to third…a triple!

In pregame batting practice Matthew had unusual success hitting several very low pitches, so in his second at bat he swung and missed at a couple of pitches in the dirt. Like many of his teammates, he wound up striking out.

In the field Matthew was a vacuum cleaner, stopping at least three balls at third base. While he did not convert any to outs, he prevented a few runs and extra bases. After the game he was awarded several game stars for his play.