Friday, April 27, 2007

April 20-21-22 Weekend Recap

Will & Matthew had practice Friday. I got to the field as Matthew’s team was finishing, but half the team stuck around for more. Matthew wasn’t into it, but hit some extra balls, then I threw him some popups. This year he hasn’t been into hitting as much…not swinging as hard, using his whole body. He has done well in the field…Saturday he actually dove for a ball. Afterwards I took him to Burger King, though Ceil cooked pizza. I folded clothes while watching the Braves.

Saturday we got up early to get Will up past Lake Allatoona by 7:15. He started and only allowed one run in three inning, only 2 hits…throwing 54 pitches (but ten to one batter). He had a sac fly, a hit, and a run…they won. Then we hustled back to Mt. Paran and won…batting second, the leftfielder was playing shallow, so Will hit a fly ball over his head for an RBI double. He did the same thing in the second, knocking in 2 more…scoring both times. He caught one inning and played shortstop two. A coworker came to the game and got to see both Matthew and Will play.

Then we hustled back north for a 2 pm game, a loss. Will had 4 assists at shortstop, then caught the last two innings. When a runner was stealing second, the pitch bounced in front of the plate, and Will rose a little to block it. It bounced up into his bare hand, so Will gripped it and almost threw out the runner. Then the runner tried to steal third, and Will gunned him down. Later with runners on first and third the coach told Will and the shortstop to go after the runner. Will fired the ball to the base and would’ve nailed him, but the shortstop didn’t cover.

Saturday night Ceil and I drove down to Atlantic Station and IKEA, then down Chattahoochee Avenue past the outlets. There’s supposedly a great hole-in-the-wall Mexican place there…we found it on the right side of the road. It was crowded so we didn’t go, but will go back earlier. Wound up at El Porton after 9 pm, as Ted’s was crowded.

Sunday Will had a must-win game. He lined a double past the leftfielder to the fence, but the coach waved his son home from first, and was out by several steps. Will had 3 assists at short, and took the mound up 3 – 1 in the bottom of the sixth. He got the first two batters out, including a called strikeout. Then the next batter drew a full count walk, the centerfielder couldn’t run down a deep fly, and an opposite field liner just over the second-baseman tied the game. Will played third in the climatic seventh. The leadoff batter singled, them the Titans made 2 errors, putting the winning run on third. They intentionally walked the next two to load the bases, then got 2 outs before a single won the game.

On the way home Will bought a Far Side paperback and loved it. I cleaned up the upstairs and washed my car for the first time in months before small group. Watched some of the game. Nice that Wickman worked out of the jam even without his best stuff.

Email to Uni-Watch

Uni-Watch was asking for examples of players looking weird when making a late-career change in teams, and here’s what I jotted down this morning…

Greatest ever was Unitas as a SD Charger, complete with blue high-tops.

Hank Aaron as a Brewer. Babe Ruth finished his career as a Boston Brave. Eddie Matthews finished as an Astro. Stretch McCovey and Steve Garvey as Padres. Who did Warren Spahan finish with? The Mets, I think.

Satchel Paige as an Atlanta Brave sometime the late sixties/early 70’s……so he would qualify for a MLB pension.

Andy Messersmith as a Brave in the number 17 jersey…with the “nickname” CHANNEL on the back, to shrill owner Ted Turner’s Superstation.

Namath as a LA Ram, Eric Dickerson as a Falcon, Jim McMahan as a Charger.

Maravich and Dominique as a Celtic.

The Packers Jim Taylor made the Sports Illustrated cover for the expansion Saints.

Like you, Mays as a Met was no big deal. I also had memories of Ted Williams as the Senators manager…didn’t he mange the first Texas Rangers team? Some memories are from baseball cards. Billy Martin looked at home managing the Yankees, but not the Rangers. Catfish Hunter looked normal as a Yankee, after signing as a free agent.

Oakland A Bert “Campy” Campaneras visited my Cubs Fantasy Camp in the mid-nineties…wearing an Angels uni. Did he play there, or perhaps just a coach?

Tony Perez finished up with the Phillies and/or Expos.

Great Mets/Braves series this weekend. Ugly David Wright shoes. Seems like several Braves have taken to wearing pants high on Sundays…Kelly Johnson, Andruw, Francoeur, Langerhans…could be more, like Pete Orr. Now that I think about it, it probably started last year, or before.

April 20th Notes

Now we know about Aybar.

Haven’t done the hotel yet…hopefully I’ll book it in mid May. Will anything change as far as Priceline goes, moving from spring to summer. Better to book earlier or later? I heard a radio ad for an Orbitz special…may have been for 5 night stays. We’ll be out there 5 nights, but we haven’t decided whether to spend a night out near Yosemite or somewhere else. Best to book a rental car at the same time? I got the Giants/Pirates tickets in the mail last week.

Ceil and Anna may go to a mother / daughter thing tonight at Johnson Ferry. Saturday Will has an 8 am game out near Lake Allatoona, then we’ll race back for his 11 am game. Matthew plays at 10:30. Sunday Will’s tourney game is at 8 am again, then he may have more games that afternoon. We have small group at 5 on Sunday.

April 18th Notes

Our group left early Friday and got back yesterday evening…another group left this morning and will come back Sunday evening. Most of the HS student leaders went down last Wednesday and stay the whole time. We won’t go next year, but perhaps in 2009 when Anna is in sixth grade. Will could be one of the leaders starting next year, and I can go on other senior high retreats with him starting next fall.

Yes, Redman was such a bargain, and it’s too early to tell about LF and IB…I read DOB this morning, and have agreed about Johnson coming along. Would be nice if it got warmer. Last night I listened to some on the radio, and later watched a good chunk of the game on TV.

Damon here at work played with Michael Barrett and the Houston SS.

Last Thursday Will’s team was winning real big, and won something like 19 – 11. Will started and pitched 3 no-hit innings, allowing one baserunner in each of the first 2 innings. I let Russell pitch for the first time…he threw strikes, and they hit him. Then I let embattled pitcher Curtis go an inning, with about the same result. Big Andrew cranked one to the centerfield fence, ran out of gas chugging to third, and barely slid under the tag for a triple…as we howled in the dugout.

Saturday they lost without Will and Andrew. Coach Frank started his son Clay, who had trouble finding the strike zone. Clay did great a couple of times coming in to pitch in relief, so perhaps that’ll be his role.

April 12 Notes

Kelly Johnson had another big hit last night…and a great defensive play. Wilson is not exactly cut from the classic Braves cloth, but they say he can hit. So far, so good with the Braves. Listened to Chip and Pete in the car, then Boog and Joe at home. Another quality start. DOB was concerned that they’ll overuse Soriano and Gonzalez. Wickman appears able to go every day, though I know he can’t.

We’ve been so busy that I turned down tickets to last night’s game. This year Ceil will go to the game if I get company seats, since it will be lower deck.

Good Boston/Seattle game as well. I like ARod, so I’m glad he’s hot. Interesting Ruth-like look as well.

Uni-Watch is giving away a David Wright BP jersey…just what I need. I bought an old Cleveland Indians BP jersey…because it had BELLE 8 on the back. Couldn’t pass it up. Last night at Perimeter Mall Matthew wanted me to give a guy a hard time because he was wearing an Ichiro Mariners jersey. We went to El Porton as well.

Hawks…will they fire Woodson and/or Billy?

I especially had to read Lang’s column this week, as I’m right on the border of understanding the pull of video games. All three of my kids are into them…last night we HAD to go into the EB Games store at Perimeter so Anna could buy a game she had her eye on…she had just got money for Easter and she knew exactly what she wanted. I didn’t know that she knew what EB Games was.

April 11 Notes

Will was only playing 20 games a season, but the challenge of going against older competition helped much more than 40 games against boys his age would have. The older you get, the faster the pace of the game…a lesson Will has been able to learn.

I‘ve was shooting for practices heavy on repetitions combined with on the spot instruction. I’m the organizer, which turns the other coach dads loose to instruct. Seven of the dads are coaches with more experience than me. With 15 on the team, we’ve had to use in-season practices into intersquad games. These have been successful because these rec leaguers need the experience reacting with live baserunners, etc.

It’s helped us identify who can pitch and who can’t…Josiah would’ve gotten as much of a chance to pitch, but will become one of the main pitchers now. During the “game” we coaches can roam the field offering instruction on the position each player is playing. Boys can try out positions they want to play, or a new position where they might excel. Josiah needed work at first. Nick and Andrew both struggled at first, but blossomed at third. With the glut at second and third, Russell got work at first. His arm is weak for a catcher, and he’s not that tall or fast, but his glove is reliable enough to play first. I’ve enjoyed putting the puzzle together.

Yesterday Will practiced with the travel team, and I helped some with Matthew’s practice. Only one rec player showed up for optional BP. I could tell Russell had been working on his hitting…he had been to Sportsarama some. I fed him soft toss, then threw him 2 buckets worth. Then he threw off the mound some, because he’s eager to pitch. He’s slow, but that throws off batters after a faster pitcher. I may give him an inning tomorrow after Will.

Nice Braves win. Have there been a quality start in every game except the Friday game? Perhaps not Davies.

Acworth Popup

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

April 23 Game Recap

Knowing we were playing an undefeated Powder Springs Braves team, then finding out we’d be without Andrew, Clay, Jake, and Michael, I thought we might be in for a long game. As it turned out we played hard, hung tough, and stayed in the game for most of the night. We tied it up in the top of the third by scoring four runs, and after the top of the fifth we were still only down two, but we left five runners on base in the last three innings.

Had we played perfect defensive ball, my trusty scorebook says we would’ve won 5 – 4. There were several throws just inches too high or a second too late. Thomas almost threw out a batter from right field. Corey almost threw out two at first…from centerfield! David’s throw to third was just a little too high to nail a baserunner, and later almost doubled off a runner at second. Catcher Will almost picked a runner off first from his knees, then later almost made a nice running catch into the outfield. Russell had a runner picked off at second, but threw just high. All were great, aggressive attempts…we’re playing some exciting baseball.

The play of the year ended the fifth inning. The batter lined a one-hopper to centerfield. Corey charged the hit and fired a strike to Christian at first, barely missing the out. With the runner heading home from third, Christian fired home. Will caught it, took several steps up the line, and threw to third-baseman David. David caught it, chased the runner a few steps, and threw back to Will. Will ran the runner back towards third and threw to shortstop Curtis at the bag. The runner took off past Will toward home, so Curtis fired a strike to Christian, who survived a push from the runner as he tagged him out.

There were other fine defensive plays as well…
…Christian had an assist at second and later wizzed in a quick throw from the outfield. He also made a nice running catch in center, threw out a runner at second while playing third, and had two putouts at first.
…Corey and Curtis played first for the first time and made all the plays. Curtis also made a fine running catch in center while avoiding Will…call it louder next time, boys! …Russell had four putouts at first (three in one inning), including one ball hit to his right that he beat the batter in a race to the bag. Russell took his time on a grounder at second, but still got the out at first. In left he ran down a hit headed for the gap, making a nice sliding catch to hold the batter to a single.
…Josiah had an assist and caught a pop while pitching.
…In addition to his alert play in right field, Thomas made a perfect scoop of a grounder at second, throwing out the batter at first.
…later John Fulton had a similar play at second.
…Nick had a great play at third, going to his knees to field a ball smashed to his left. He got up and fired a strike to first to prevent a run from scoring and ending the inning. Nick almost smiled coming off the field.
…Will had some nice blocks behind the plate.

Josiah pitched so well I left him in for a fourth inning. He only walked one of the 25 batters he faced, and the two runs that scored in the second were unearned. My count showed that 43 of his 64 pitches were strikes. Most of the hits he allowed were bloopers, and he only gave up two solid hits. A great job against a tough team. While batting Josiah walked twice.

Russell also threw more strikes than balls, and walked only one of the ten he faced. Half the runs he allowed were unearned. At the plate Russell hit the ball hard twice, but right at fielders. To their credit the Braves made most of the plays in the field.

The rest of the team also contributed offensively…
…Christian led off the second with a single to right, hit so hard he had to hustle to first so they wouldn’t throw him out. He took second on a wild pitch, third on a fielder’s choice, and scored on Corey’s hit.
…Corey went two for two with a walk, scoring twice and driving in two.
…Curtis sliced a line drive into the right field corner for a two-out RBI double to give us the lead in the first. Later he slammed another line drive, just right at the first baseman.
…David tried to bunt for a hit, and advanced the runner to third.
…Joey reached base both times again. He beat a throw to third base, but when the third-baseman tagged his ankle while his foot was on the bag, the umpire incorrectly called him out. To his credit Joey didn’t argue the call, but the expression on his face said it all.
…John Fulton’s nice hit to right was caught in the second. In the fourth JF successfully executed third-base coach Sharp’s bunt signal, reaching first safely and advancing Josiah around to third.
…Nick didn’t reach base, but you can tell experience is helping him to be more comfortable to the plate…even when working a tough pitcher to a full count. Nick was robbed of a hit when his low line drive was caught by a diving shortstop.
…Thomas scored from second base on Corey’s single, after walking in the second. Like Nick, you can see Thomas improving every game he plays.
…Will walked in the third, took second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on David’s grounder, then scored on a wild pitch with two out…just before Curtis lined out.

Coaches Posial and Sharp did their usual good job coaching the bases and keeping me calm. I’ll repeat my line from last night: I had to holler enough for both me and Coach McElwain. Hope I didn’t let anyone down!

April 21 Game Recap

Nice win Saturday over the Powder Springs Cardinals. First some “bad” news, then lots of good: We actually banged out more hits Thursday against Hobgood (6) that we did Saturday (5)…though we did bat four fewer innings against Hobgood. We did put the ball in play more often Saturday, and as Coach Frank says, good things can happen when we swing the bat.

I had originally scheduled Nick to pitch the third inning, but I knew he had practiced little if at all in several weeks, so before the game I grabbed him to throw some off the mound. He pitched well, and before the game started I realized his hard-throwing style is better suited to face the meat of the opponent’s order, so at the last minute I made Nick the starting pitcher. He pitched great, throwing two hitless and scoreless innings, striking out three. In the first inning Nick’s only walk came on a full count, as he got the other three batters he faced out. In the second inning Nick worked out of a bases-loaded jam with a big strikeout, on another full count. Nick walked and scored both times he batted, including an exciting romp around the bases when Powder Springs threw the ball away a couple of times on the one play.

Corey had less pitching notice than Nick. He hadn’t practiced much recently, either, and I gave him no warning…just telling him before the third inning that he was the pitcher. He responded like a champion, not letting a few bad bounces rattle him. He struck out two batters in the inning. At the plate Corey led off the game with a single and later walked, and scored both times.

I wanted to get Clay back on the mound as well, and he came back and pitched a scoreless inning. Clay didn’t walk a batter, and with runners on second and third struck out two straight to end the inning. Clay had an RBI double in the first, and walked in the second…scoring both times.

Andrew beat out a dropped third strike in the first, and had an RBI in the second. He later pinch-ran for catcher-to-be David. Andrew caught the second inning, and tagged out a base-stealer playing third base in the third inning.

Christian started the game at second base and got a key out on a ground ball. He also fielded flawlessly in center and right, getting the ball in quickly. Christian lined out to second in the first inning, after fouling off several pitches and working the count full. In the third he walked, and later scored on a wild pitch. I was wrong to come down so hard on Christian for not sliding on the play…I just didn’t want the catcher’s throw to hit him just as he crossed the plate.

Curtis played centerfield and short. He almost made a great backhand play, but the ball didn’t bounce, instead dying in the dirt. He also almost made a great catch of a pop running away from the plate into the outfield, a play which is rarely successful even in the big leagues. Great trys. In the first Curtis hit it hard back to the pitcher and beat it out, and eventually scored. He also put the ball in play in the third, grounding out to short.

David walked in the second inning, played some catcher and first base…almost making a sweet backhand grab of a grounder to his right. He did have two putouts at first base, and threw out a base-stealer at third.

Jake was all over the base paths as usual, reaching base and scoring three times. He singled in the first and reached on an error in the second. In the field he played third and left field.

Joey hit the ball sharply (sorry) in the second inning, reaching base and scoring from second. He walked with two out in the third, on a full count, but was stranded on base.

John Fulton walked in the first inning, and grounded out to second in the third. Playing second base he fielded a grounder and threw out the batter at first.

Josiah reached base both times. In the first he aggressively tried to take second base after the ball sailed past first, but was thrown out on a close play. He walked all the way around the bases to score a run in the third inning. He played left field and first base.

Michael hit the ball both times up, knocking home a run in the first when the shortstop couldn’t handle his grounder. He later scored. In the second he grounded back to the pitcher, but was thrown out. Michael played third base and left field.

Thomas walked both times he batted, which will keep him nestled among the team leaders in on-base percentage. The bases were loaded when he walked in the third, giving Thomas an RBI. He had a tough grounder hit to him at second base. On our field the ball will bounce along several feet off the ground almost all the way to the fielder. Just when the fielder readies himself to catch the ball where the hop should be, the ball hits a sandy patch of dirt and skips low, under the glove.

Will came up in the first and noticed the left-fielder playing shallow, and quickly hit the second pitch he saw over his head for an RBI double. He did the same thing the next inning, knocking in two more runs.

April 19 Game Recap

In my experience, the Mt. Paran games against Hobgood Park teams have never turned out well. We lose, get rained out, or someone gets hit by a line drive. But even when the Warriors didn’t have their best game at the plate, last night they hung tough in a nail-biting seven inning pitching duel, to earn a 3 – 3 tie.

David pitched great, allowing one unearned run in his 3 innings. He struck out 3 and walked only one, and alertly covered first when the game’s leadoff hitter grounded one to Clay in the hole. David threw 28 strikes and only 10 balls.

The meat of the Hobgood order had hit the ball hard in the first inning, and was just the team to be thrown off by a pitcher like John Fulton. JF pitched 4 innings, only needing 41 pitches, including 30 strikes. He struck out three, and the only walks were two intentional passes. Both runs he allowed were unearned, and the only 2 hits he allowed never left the infield. One “hit” was a bunt that JF just missed throwing out at first. John Fulton also caught an infield popup.

The Warriors made key defensive plays throughout the game. In the first inning catcher Will gunned down a base-stealer at 3rd-base, then Michael threw out a batter at first from his second-base position to kill a rally. In between, Thomas almost made a leaping catch in right field.

Andrew’s big game began in the 2nd when he threw out a base-stealer at third. Jake applied the tag, and later ended the inning by throwing out a batter at first. Will caught a pop to end the third and threw out a runner from short in the 4th…with Josiah making a nice play to tag out the runner after being drawn off the bag.

Christian had a leadoff walk and reached third, but received a rude welcome at home plate, getting tagged in the face. Curtis had a single to right in the third. Corey, Russell, and Clay caught quiet innings. Nick’s hit a high pop that was uncatchable. Will also had an infield hit and two stolen bases.

As the sun set and innings ended, we kept waiting for the game to be called due to the increasing darkness. This made each inning more suspenseful. In the fifth Joey made a tough catch in right, and Michael caught a high pop at third. Will’s triple and Clay’s double plated one run in the bottom of the inning.

The suspense grew in the bottom of the 6th inning. Andrew led off with a line drive single just out of the shortstop’s reach. Jake pinch ran and quickly stole second and third, getting a great jump both times. Josiah walked, and then Christian came through big with an RBI grounder. Thomas was hit with a pitch. Josiah got a huge jump and stole third, which I thought was big. He drew a throw from the catcher, and scored the apparent winning run when the ball sailed into the outfield. But the game continued.

The Hobgood leadoff hitter reached base and quickly advanced to third. Then he raced home when a pitch bounded away from Andrew. But Andrew quickly recovered, and dived headfirst back to the plate to tag out the runner…a great play. One out.

The cleanup hitter reached, and then the next hitter hit an easy grounder to Will at short. Will fielded the ball and prepared to throw to Christian at first…but the umpire was right in the way, and the batter reached….runners on second and third. As John Fulton worked the count full on the next hitter, we decided to walk the batter intentionally and draw the infield in to get the runner at the plate. More suspense. The next batter struck out, but all three runners advanced on a dropped third strike. Tie game, two out.

The next batter had hit the ball hard both times, so he was intentionally walked to load back the bases, the next batter grounded one to short. Will bobbled the ball, but recovered in time to dive headfirst into second base, just ahead of the runner, ending the inning.

JF tried unsuccessfully to bunt his way on, then Michael doubled to right. Russell squared and laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt. But the pitcher fielded and looked to third. The third-baseman had also charged the bunt, and the shortstop didn’t cover. Russell raced to first with a rare sacrifice hit. Michael tried valiantly to score on a passed ball, but Hobgood executed the toss perfectly, and in the darkness the Warriors had to settle for an exciting tie.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Easter Recap

Made it to SC for the birthday dinner. Good steak. Came back to the in-laws house and caught up on the Friday Master’s round after seeing the Braves were in such trouble. Saturday was more Masters, and I caught up on Will’s team stats (he’s 9th on the team in average and 11th in OBP…but leads his travel team in both categories). Sunday morning I discovered my slacks were left in Atlanta. We drove through Augusta while Tiger was on the 14th hole, and picked up my car at work at 8 pm. All the Moes were closed by then, as was Chipotle…so the kids ate Taco Bell.

Jekyll trip should be fun. I was checking the list, and a majority of kids on the trip will have parents along as a counselor. Amazing considering there’s about 150 total on the trip. Ceil, Anna, and Matthew will be unable to go on the secret trip, so they’ll take bikes and ride around Jekyll. Side note…Jim Ewing said they started riding bikes on Jekyll years ago, and the bike Jenny gave Ceil got it’s start on Jekyll. Ceil will be taking it back. I’ll be driving Becky Norman’s 15 passenger van on the first leg of the trip, from Woodstock to Macon. Usually women drive vehicles with the girls, and men drive the boys. Becky has a problem driving early in the morning.

Funny Callaway ad with Nick Price and Paula Creamer.

Confession: I do like Q100 in the mornings. Completely by happenstance last year I was at a bank when they started setting up for a remote, and got my picture taken with Melissa Carter. I was able to chat with her about what they had talked about that morning on the show.

The Path to Improvement

What’s your opinion on what path a youth should take to progress in baseball? I’m of the opinion that playing against 13 & 14 year olds when my son was 11 and 12 helped more than anything.

He does need game a point. Our family is not at a point to commit 15+ hours a week to one sibling’s extracurricular activity. I’m not sure the prize (a spot on a HS roster, a partial scholarship, the MLB draft…all mostly longshots) are worth the time and expense. And I’m not knocked out of my socks by coaches more interested in immediate wins than player development. They think Will is just fine, and dad sees many areas for improvement.

Driving this past weekend my mind was working on an opinion piece, on the relationship between the spoiled athlete and youth activities with large time commitments. How they’re symptoms of today’s society. It’s taking out my frustrations, as well as a response the recent AJC article. You’ll get to read it soon…I might as well post it.

Braves Restore Order in NL East

Lang had a good comment in his article this week…”The Braves took 2 of 3 from the Mets this weekend, restoring order in the NL East.” He knows how biased the media is for the Mets and against the Braves, so he gets his shots in as often as he can.

Too bad about Hampton…at least they have insurance…and Davies, Redman, and Cormier. Could be worse…look at the Phillies. Someone suggested we send them Tyler Yates. SIkids picked the Braves to finish third behind the Mets and Phils.

Not bad, taking two of three. Hopefully JF can continue dumping outside pitches to RF. It’s frustrating when he gets down 0 – 2 and you know he’s swinging at the next pitch, no matter where it is. Callers after the game yesterday thought we were overloaded with starting pitching, wondering if JS would make a trade. Hampton’s situation doesn’t look good, Cormier isn’t back yet, Davies had just one good outing, Redman will at best just keep us in the game, James is in his first full season, Hudson has to pitch more to prove he’s back to his AL form, and Smoltz is in his forties. I like our situation, just not enough to trade a starter.

Another caller thought Andruw should be dropped in the order. Chip and Lemke squashed that one. Why mess with a winning recipe? Andruw will come around…it’s hard to hit in the cold.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Warriors March 26th Recap

The Warriors won on the road Monday evening, pulling away from the Shaw Park Mudcats 16 – 8. The boys overcame some interesting ball / strike calls (that went against both teams) by being aggressive at the plate and swinging the bat. We’re a lot more competitive this year because the Kiddie Corps from last fall have continued to improve and show poise at the plate, in the field, and on the mound.

Corey had another big game, starting with an RBI single in the second. He raced to second when the throw went home, then stole third, and scored on Will’s RBI groundout. In the 4tth Corey hustled to beat out an error by the pitcher. In the dugout Corey showed his teammates and coaches the dance he would do if he hit a home run. Then in the 6th he belted the first pitch he saw past the outfield and raced around the bases. As he rounded third there was no doubt in third-base coach Don Sharp’s mind (or Corey’s) for him to continue home. He easily scored, and entered the dugout doing his home run jig.

Will had a nice catch of a pop in front of the plate. In the 1st he was hit with a pitch, stole second, took 3rd on a fielder’s choice, and scored on Jake’ grounder to third. Down two strikes in the 4th, Will slammed a line drive…right at the left-fielder, who made a nice catch. It caught both our baserunners by surprise, and for a minute I thought I was about to see a triple play. Joey made it back to third, but Corey, who must’ve been stealing second on the pitch, was doubled off first. In the 6tth Will singled up the middle, stole second, and scored on Clay’s pop into centerfield.

Clay singled in the first, stole second, and scored when the throw sailed past first. In the 2nd Clay walked, stole second and third, and scored on David’s single. Clay knocked home Joey with a single in the fourth, and also blooped a pop out of the centerfielder’s reach in the 6th to drive in Will.

Clay also pitched a great game, going all three innings without allowing a hit. He only walked the first batter he faced, then struck out six of the next ten batters. The only run he allowed was unearned, and he threw 30 strikes and only 17 balls, a great performance on the road.

David had an RBI single in the second inning, and then stole second base. He caught the 1-2-3 fourth inning, and played three errorless innings at shortstop.

Jake had a putout and assist playing second base in the first inning, and later added two putouts at second base in the sixth inning. In the top of the first the third-baseman couldn’t handle Jake’s hard grounder, which knocked in 2 runs. Jake wound up on second on the play, and then he easily scored on Andrew’s double. Jake later singled to lead off the 5th. After stealing second, he later scored on Curtis’s single.

Andrew slammed a first-inning RBI double into the left-centerfield gap. He also hit the ball on the button in the third, slamming a 3 – 0 pitch deep to centerfield. In the 5th he fouled a ball off his foot. The ball was ruled fair, and Andrew was thrown out. Guess I should’ve appealed to another umpire, because later the base umpire told me (and the plate umpire) that the ball was fair. Andrew made two nice plays at third base, fielding grounders and throwing out the batters at first.

Nick always causes things to happen. He doubled down the left-field line to start a rally in the third. He then took 3rd on a passed ball, and scored on Curtis’ infield grounder. In the 5th he swung at a pitch in the dirt, but hustled and was safe at first on the dropped 3rd strike, and later raced all the way to 3rd when the pickoff throw got past the first-baseman. Defensively Nick made two clutch plays at third base. With a runner on second he back-handed a hard grounder down the line. He then looked the runner back to second, then fired across the infield in time to nail the runner at first…a perfect play. Later the runner stole third, but Nick prevented him from scoring by making a tough catch of the throw to third.

Curtis rebounded at the plate, as I knew he would. He led off the 2nd with a single, stole second and third, and continued home when the catcher’s throw sailed past third. He reached in the 3rd when the shortstop bobbled his grounder, which knocked in Nick. Curtis advanced to 2nd on a passed ball, but was stranded at third. He got another hit in the 5th inning. Curtis has gotten an unfair shake this season, having to pitch every game on the road…but he hasn’t complained. He made his centerfield catch of a line drive to end the 4th look easy.

Christian took over for Joey wearing the collar…he was the one to receive several bad calls. Just when we thought the umpire was calling low pitches strikes, Christian got rung up on a pitch at his eyes, and another way outside. The ump actually hesitated before calling it a strike. Undaunted, Christian was aggressive, slamming several pitches just foul. He did his usual great job in the field, running down a drive that carried far over his head in centerfield, getting the ball in quickly to hold the batter to a double. After the game he was a good big brother, smiling broadly as his little brother did a fine job leading the team in a post-game prayer.

Josiah walked twice, scoring one run from second on Michael’s base hit. He made a nice catch at first base for a putout in the third. Josiah continues to gain valuable experience on the mound, pitching two nice innings with the game on the line, preserving our lead. He struck out three batters in two innings, only walking two.

John Fulton walked in the second inning. He went from 1st to 3rd on Michael’s single to right-center, and scored on Joey’s double. He then got aggressive, reaching first in the 3rd inning on a grounder the shortstop couldn’t handle. John Fulton gobbled up a grounder at second base and threw out the batter to end the game, killing a Shaw Park rally.

Michael continues to come through in the clutch. In the second he singled to right-center to drive in Josiah, then scored all the way from first on Joey’s double. In the 6th he started another rally by doubling, and scored from second ahead of Corey’s home run. He also helped out by manning the vacant right field in the first, and made a head’s up play, almost throwing out a batter at first base.

Joey had one of the most productive games on the team. In the 2nd Joey slammed the ball high and deep, far over the centerfielder’s head for an easy two-RBI stand-up double. He then scored from second on Corey’s hit. In the 4th Joey walked on a full count, took second on a wild pitch, advanced to 3rd on a single, and scored on another hit.

Friday, April 06, 2007


I wish I could write for a living. I may not have the most extreme opinions, but I enjoy covering the facts. In the hectic pace of everyday life, I really don't have time to nuture and develop these little exposes you read here. Most of this drivel as just the context of daily emails to friends.

Several years ago I started writing recaps of Will's baseball games and emailing them to grandparents, who are unable to attend many games. That's why they're here. This season the parents on the Warriors responded favorably to the long recaps of what each player had done, they said it was most encouraging. So those will show up here for another month or so.

Every one in a while I can just kick back and write on a topic that interests me...hopefully those pieces are above average. In the meantime, thanks for putting up with all the other stuff!

Good Friday

Working today? Looks like I am going to SC, so hopefully we’ll leave early…we’re supposed to celebrate her brother’s birthday later this evening at a steak house in Chesterfield.

Kelly Johnson…I say he works out at second. He may not win a gold glove or become an all-star, but I don’t anyone beating him out or the Braves trading for someone else. His defense will be ok. I just hope Thorman / Wilson works out at first…everyone says Wilson feasts on lefties, and that he’s back healthy this year. They say McBride is great…only in those crucial situations, but has trouble going out an pitching a normal inning.

Hitter’s Park in Alpharetta is where McCann’s dad teaches…somewhere near McFarland Road. A vendor we work with has a son that goes there, that made his HS team in Cumming. Says that Brian comes in every now and then…and helps out.

Was just offered the company tickets for Sunday’s game…had to turn them down.

Dave O’Brien does radio bits in the morning, I heard him briefly yesterday. 750 I think, but it could be 640. I had the radio on 640 when I got home yesterday, listening the end of the game and Lemke on the postgame. So when I got in the car this morning I got Randy & Spiff. Yesterday the AJC wasn’t mentioning that Q100 was involved in that Six Flags mess, but last night they were mentioned. This morning Q100 was laughing it off.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Motley Crew


Last night I didn’t do much except watch the game. But I did go online and buy 5 tickets to the SF/Pirates game. The Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday games are all day games, so I thought we’d maximize our time by going to the night game. Our seats are in left center, lower level. Ceil didn’t want upper level, which would’ve given us the view of the bay. The bleacher seats in right center were almost gone…they didn’t have three seats together. When I tried to buy in that section a few weeks ago, that section wasn’t available for purchase. I’ll wait a month to buy the hotel accommodations.

Sometimes we venture up to John’s Creek for lunch. There’s a guy that likes this Greek pizza place up there…I think the name is Sal’s. I‘ve heard a lot about Shane’s, but have never been.

Ceil was in such pain before Tuesday’s operation that she’s relieved now. Yesterday and today she’s run around on Easter errands. Last night she went out to I got to see most of the game last night, including McBride’s one pitch to Ryan Howard, Thorman’s HR, and Wickman’s save. As Joe mentioned on air, the one hit Wickman gave up came when he missed McCann’s mitt. So far, so good. Then I flipped over and the Mets were winning 10 nothing. Slow start by the Cards, huh?

Monday night after picking up Will from science, we went over to the Ewings to get Will’s mower and blower. Matthew played in the rain while I talked to Jim.

Remember When You Were 13?

Brett & Carla's Wedding

Our next-door neighbors Brett and Carla got married this past Saturday, and our three children were in the wedding. Brett moved in a few years ago and has been a great neighbor. He met Carla and courted her for a year or two. She eventually moved to a nearby condo just across the river. Since our garages face each other through the pear trees, we often see each other coming and going. Our kids often run over to talk, play with their dogs, swim in their pool, and “help” when they work in the yard.

This past Thursday and Friday Will helped Carla’s parents set up the flowers for the wedding, several large, beautiful arrangements that you’d never would’ve known weren’t professionally done. The rehearsal dinner was in Roswell at Sugo, the Italian restaurant just north of the river.

As the diners went back and forth from the buffet, I recognized a red-haired face from the past. Beth Sanders was in senior high when we both sang in the Second-Ponce de Leon Chapel Choir. Later Ceil got to know her parents and younger sister Catharine when we worked in the SPdL youth department. Beth was there to officiate the wedding. She told us that after college she went to seminary, and later served as singles minister at Peachtree Road United Methodist. She was leading the Bible Study where Brett and Carla first met, and Saturday she did a great job weaving several personal stories about the couple into the ceremony. Beth is currently a pastor at a smaller church in College Park, where she said there were more funerals than weddings. Catharine, now a pharmaceutical sales rep, shared a condo with her older sister until Beth moved down to College Park. Beth says her parents are doing well, and attend Peachtree Road Methodist.

The wedding was held in downtown Roswell at Naylor Hall, an old Southern house used for weddings and parties. I have driven past Naylor Hall on Canton Street dozens of times and had not paid much attention. I noticed when I arrived that down the street another wedding was about to begin as well. The wedding program was lovely, and included personal information about each person in the wedding party, texts from readings, and other memorable information. There was a nice paragraph on our family.

Ceil did a great job getting the kids ready for the wedding. Anna spent most of Saturday with her hair in curlers. Friday Anna attended the bridesmaid’s luncheon, and then went with the girls to have their nails done. Will couldn’t wait to put on his tux, and I worried that he’d get it all wrinkled. The kids were needed at the wedding at 3:30 for pictures, meaning Will couldn’t play in his 2 pm game (or the Friday and Saturday night games). Will was the usher, and handed out the wedding programs.

After Brett and Beth came out of the front door of the house, the groomsmen and bridesmaids marched up the aisle and took their places on the front steps. Ring-bearer Matthew and flower girl Anna then processed together and stood at the base of the steps. Anna was the oldest of three flower girls. The groomsman standing next to Matthew had a spider scooting around on his back, and sometimes creeped dangerously close to his neck. Neither the groomsman nor Matthew ever noticed.

Carla arrived with her parents in a horse-drawn carriage. As the wedding was starting threatening dark clouds filled the sky, and we felt three or four drops of rain. But by the time Brett took Carla’s arm and escorted her to the top of the steps for the ceremony, the afternoon sun shown brightly down on the front of the west-facing house. Immediately after the wedding Brett and Carla hopped on the carriage and took a short ride around downtown Roswell, returning to take pictures with the wedding party.

The reception was a sit down dinner inside Naylor Hall, complete with dinner music from a live band. The wedding party was introduced, including Will, Anna, and Matthew. We had a great time eating with the best man and his wife, and a groomsman and his family who now live in Fredericksburg. Anna and Matthew danced, and Matthew created a tall Dagwood sandwich, made up mostly of crackers. Will made his rounds and hung out with the men in a quiet side room in the house. We left somewhat early only because Anna was so tired. Will and I stopped at Kroger on the way home, and older teenage girls were asking Will what prom he was attending.

Early Sunday evening Brett and Carla flew out on a two week honeymoon in Italy. Monday the dogsitter misplaced their housekey, and that night I had to help get into the house in the dark. I entered the house with the huge dog aptly named Bear eyeing me and barking. I hadn’t been around Bear in many months, and didn’t know if he would lick me or eat me. I survived.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Some had fun, others didn't

Oral Surgery

Ceil had some oral surgery to relive the pain she’s had for the last few weeks. It had been getting worse and worse…the one good tooth she had holding up a bridge had become infected, and they had to take it out. She feels much better already, although she’ll have to go back soon to get the teeth replaced. I had thought I’d only be out for a few hours in the morning, but quickly realized that I’d be needed at home all day.

Will had spent Monday night at the Normans, and rode with them to Living Science yesterday morning. I had to go out to Woodstock to pick him up yesterday afternoon. I never get to go out there during thee week like all the moms do, and I was able to spend a little time helping Mr. Davis, the “headmaster”, which was good.

I agree about the bullpen being stronger, and Frenchy, Langerhans, and Thorman need to improve. Perhaps Thorman will be serviceable and improve, but he could be the next Klesko. Johnson could always hit…like you say, that’s why they gave him the job, not just because of this spring, but because of his past performance. He hit those 3 HR in one game in 2005 in Texas. They’ll give him some time, and he’ll eventually sink or swim.

Does Frenchy think he’s proved himself to be the player that McCann has? He’s said he needs to be a more disciplined hitter…he things he can consistently hit .290. Other’s (Baseball Prospectus?) agree…but he has to prove it. The Braves were willing to talk about a long term contract, but were unable to agree on terms. Does he really want to go play for Boston? They’ll back up the truck for him…they’ll sign anyone. But Boston already has a young Frenchy…a guy named David Murphy. I haven’t checked on him yet this spring.

I’ll get to watch the game tonight…though Anna and Matthew will want to watch Idol…Tony Bennett.

Wedding Photo

Monday, April 02, 2007

Final Four

In all the business of the last few weeks, I’ve been finding things in piles that haven’t been taken care of…here at work at my desk, stuffed in my messier than usual car, and stacked up at home. I had taken off a couple of Fridays ago to clean house for out of town company, which helped there, but not at work. Coaching the baseball team has been fun…I’m hitting a comfort zone there, but it’s taking up time I don’t have. I haven’t had time to follow the NCAAs, or grade my bracket. Then yesterday I found the unmailed envelope in my car…my brackets that I hadn’t mailed! I think I got two of the final four…but I have no idea how I did in the early round games.

Thursday I had three unexpected meetings pop up, so today I’ve got lots of end of the month stuff to do. I had to leave on time Friday to get to the rehearsal dinner. Sunday they’re having a Dome Dribble for kids, but I doubt we’ll be able to go to that, as much as I’d like to.

Matthew Plays a Key Role in 3/29 Win

Matthew’s team, the Storm, beat the Defenders yesterday 14 – 12, in a close game. As was the case last year, to win a team has to not only score runs, but must also shut down the other team by making good plays in the field. Yesterday Matthew played a key role, both offensively and defensively.

The Storm only scored two runs in the top of the first, as both Josh and Adam grounded into easy outs at first base.

In the bottom of the inning the Defenders scored three runs, and were on the way to more when Matthew stepped in. With two out the batter singled up the middle, and when the ball got past the centerfielder the batter continued to second. The throw in bounced past both the shortstop and second-baseman, rolling in the infield grass between the mound and third base. The batter, standing on second, took off for third. It was a safe play, as only a perfect hustle play would get him out. Playing third-base, Matthew did just that, quickly scooting over to pick up the ball, then hustling back to make the tag just one step away from the base. This ended the inning with the Storm only one run down.

The Storm failed to score in the top of the second, making another defensive stand necessary in the bottom of the inning. With one out and a runner on first, the batter hit a ball over cute little Cole at third base. The hit landed right on the left field foul line. Many times an aggressive runner can score from first on this play, but Matthew, playing left field, hustled over and grabbed the ball. There was no way little Cole could catch a throw in at third, so Matthew quickly ran the ball in to the infield, holding the runner at second. The next two Defender batters struck out, so the rally ended…Matthew had made a second key defensive play.

The Storm scored five in the top of the third, and held the Defenders to only four in the bottom of the inning, helped by a great catch by the Storm centerfielder.

With the score tied going to the 4th, Ryan led off the inning with a single. Matthew stepped up to the plate, and grounded a single in the hole past the first and second-basemen on into right field. Ryan was able to circle the bases and score, giving Matthew the go-ahead RBI. When the throw went home to try and get Ryan, Matthew took off for second. He rounded the base and didn’t stop, continuing on to third. As he ran he glanced at the pitcher, holding the ball in front of the plate. The pitcher took off toward third, but Matthew sped up and made it to third one step ahead of the tag. Matthew scored on a hit, but it was the only runs the Storm would get that inning.

Again the Storm held the Defenders scoreless in the bottom of the 4th, and then they increased their lead by scoring five runs in the top of the fifth. With Ryan on first, Matthew beat out an infield hit. Ryan dashed for third, allowing Matthew to advance to second. Both Matthew and Ryan then scored on Alex’s hit. This put the game out of reach, as the Storm led by seven runs.


Perfect in Roswell

Before Will’s Wednesday night travel team game in Roswell, I ran into the dad of one of his former teammates, whom I hadn’t seen in a while. His son plays on a team that has already played in four weekend tournaments, from Cumming to Morrow. He said the Will’s opponent that night had only lost one game last year, and that 1 – 0 loss game on a suicide squeeze play in the final inning.

The game started good. With one out three straight Titan batters walked. Batting cleanup, Will walked on a 3 – 1 count. Ritchie scored from third on a passed ball, and Audie and Will moved up a base. Will took third on an RBI groundout, and scored on a single to right center. The next batter beat out a swinging bunt, and though the Titans led 3 – 0, that would be all the hits they would manage that night. But for most of the game it appeared that would be enough offense to win the game.

Will was the starting pitcher, and he pitched perhaps the best he’s ever pitched. He threw three perfect innings, facing the minimum nine batters. He struck out three and only reached a full count on one batter, who had fouled several pitches off. One batter tried to bunt on him, but Will easily fielded it and threw the batter out to first. Will only needed to throw 30 pitches in the three innings, with innings of 13, 8, and nine pitches.

Unfortunately the other Titan pitchers didn’t fare so well. The next pitcher only got one out while throwing 29 pitches…walking three and giving up six runs in the 4th inning. In the 5th inning four batters walked and five got hits. Eight more runs scored, and the game was called on the run rule.

Will caught the next two innings, and the only reason bases were stolen were because of big leads and jumps, and pitches in the dirt. Will almost nailed one stealing second, but the runner slid under the tag. On the next pitch the runner tried to steal third, and Will’s perfect throw easily nailed the runner. Later a runner scored on a wild pitch, but Will ran down the ball and returned to the plate in time to tag out the runner trying to score from second.

Catching on March 23rd

Titans' Tuesday Loss

Will’s travel team lost a close 5 – 2 game yesterday evening. Will played rightfield in the first inning and made a nice running catch, on a line drive trailing away from him, ending the inning.

Then he played left field, third-base, caught two innings, and the last inning played shortstop. While catching he threw out the only baserunner that tried to steal on him. Later playing short he almost tagged out a base stealing at second, but the throw was over Will’s head. He leaped in the air trying to make the catch, but the ball sailed into the outfield.

The Titans only managed three hits. Charlie led off the third by hitting a short pop just out of the reach of the pitcher.

Will had the other two hits. In the first with Audie stealing second, Will went with the outside pitch and hit it hard through the hole between the first and second basemen, moving Audie over to third. When the throw went to third, Will hustled over on to second…a play identical to Saturday’s. Both Will and Audie scored on the next play, when the third-baseman threw past first.

In the third Will pulled a line drive right down the left field line, and the ball rolled all the way to the corner, 300 feet away. Will slid into third with a rare triple to left field. He has tripled in almost every Titans game.

I recorded the time at the end of the game…7:56 pm. The sun had set, and the lights on the scoreboard burned brightly. The Titans had just been retired in order in the bottom of the 6th. Will had uncharacteristically swung at a low & away 1 – 1 pitch, though he did hit a sharp ground ball up the middle. The pitcher made a nice play to get his glove down to catch it, and he threw Will out at first. Riding home, Will said it had been tough to see the pitches in the darkness.