Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Collision at the Plate


In the final intersquad game of the year Curtis took off slowly from first on a ball hit to the fence in the gap. I hollered at him to score, and he picked up the pace as he approached second.

The relays were perfect and catcher Clay received the throw in several steps before Curtis arrived at the plate. Clay did not brace for Curtis' slide...instead his football instincts took over and he leaned forward and stepped into Curtis as he slud. I feared Curty would be injured, but you can see the smile on his face.

Picture was actually snapped after the collision, as both fell back in opposite directions.

Monday, May 28, 2007

My Highlights in Sports

A fellow blogger listed his athletic achievements and asked for similar reader submissions. Through few and unglorious, here are some of mine, in order only by sport...

Olympic Torch Runner
...1996 in Gary Indiana…bus ride through crowded streets, then running south on main drag at sunset.
...1996 at Wake Forest University/Winston Salem NC…uphill into a crowded downtown at lunchtime.
...2002 in Lenoir NC…running past a crowded elementary school.

Football
8th grade Colts…60 yard TD reception in Porter Stadium.
9th grade team…96-0 victory in Milledgeville, after beating the same team in Macon 66 – 0.
11th grade…1975 state champs…won playoff game 21-19.
12th grade…won three games 7 – 6, with my extra points being the difference.
College intramurals…scored all 19 points in a victory.

Baseball / Softball
Little League: line drives…hit one over my buddy Mike Hussey’s head at third to the fence,
and caught one at first hit right to me.
Adult softball…getting thrown out of a Macon church league game.
…cracking my shin playing second base in an industrial league game.
…over 15 years playing for the same Atlanta church league team.

Basketball
…my first game in double figures.
…all my shots fell in the Marathon Game’s ‘Bible Verse’ hour, where the points only counted if you were able to recite a verse from memory after a shot.
…playing the most hours in several 24-hour Marathon Games.
…driving past the best player on the other team for a layup, because he didn’t know I was lefthanded, until afterwards, when my buddy told him!

Running
…completing the 1993 Atlanta half marathon in under two hours.
…completing several Peachtree Road Races in the top 10% of finishers.

Golf
…my first par and birdie.
…my first chip-in, from about 60 feet.
…hitting the pin with my tee shot on a par three.

Can This Swing Be Saved?



Example of how Will is badly upper-cutting the ball, especially on low pitches.

Roswell Tourney Qualifying Round Recaps

Thursday Will went 2 – 3 in the Titans 10 – 7 first-round tournament victory, scoring two runs. He hit one line drive to the left-centerfield fence, a hit he said could’ve been a home run had he got under it a little. Will said he was robbed of a third hit on a sharply hit ball the second-baseman made a good play on. He caught the last three innings.

Will’s team hung tough in their 6 pm Friday game against an excellent Big Shanty Bats team, before losing 9 – 4. He was one of only two Titans to reach base twice. Will stole two bases and an RBI. He played third base the first two innings and caught a popup. Will played shortstop the third inning, and caught the last two innings.

The Titans won game two of the Friday doubleheader, besting the Kennesaw Warriors in a 7 – 3 pitcher’s duel. Six of the first seven Titans scored in the top of the first. Batting cleanup, Will singled to left with the fourth straight Titan hit, driving in run number three. The Warriors then changed pitchers. After Will scored on a wild pitch, the new pitcher struck out 13 of the next 24 batters…throwing a whopping 108 pitches. Will and Audie were the only two Titans not to strike out.

Will also walked in the second inning. Will played the first four innings at shortstop and easily handled the only grounder hit to him, for an out at first.

With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the fourth, Will was brought in to face the top of the order…particularly the tough leadoff man Michael, who had already reached twice with a walk and a deep double to left-center. Michael hit a fly ball to right. As the runner at third tagged up, right-fielder Kendle caught the fly and fired home. The strong throw in made the runner hesitate, but the throw came in low and skipped under catcher Trey’s mitt, rolling away to the backstop. Trey chased the ball down and tossed to Will at the plate, but the throw was behind the runner. Will caught the ball and swung his glove around to the right, and barely tagged the runner before he touched the plate. Double play, and the Warriors were help scoreless.

Will pitched two more scoreless innings to secure the victory. He struck out three, and 28 of his 43 pitches were strikes. By finishing the tournament qualifying round with a record of 2 – 1, the Titans were seeded eighth out of 16 teams.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Portrait of a Star



Also taken May 12, in his Storm jersey.

Title taken from the book "Catcher in the Wry" by Bob Uecker

Matthew's Finest Hour

Matthew’s team won last night’s championship game 23 – 17. He had his best game ever, despite spending part of the day in the doctor’s office with an infected finger. Coach Turner said afterwards they couldn’t have won without Matthew.

Matthew’s long two-out double to left drove home a slow runner from second-base, with the fifth run of the first inning.

He pulled a line drive into the left-centerfield corner for an RBI triple in the third. The ball bounced twice and hit the fence! Then Ryan produced a swinging bunt that the pitcher fielded. The pitcher held Matthew at third, but when the pitcher looked at Ryan Matthew danced further off third, regaining the pitcher’s attention. This allowed Ryan to advance to second. Matthew then scampered home when Carson hit the ball to the third baseman.

Matthew hit one even further in the fifth. With one out and nobody on he fly the ball to deep right center. Though not a line drive, the ball still bounced twice and hit the fence. Had he pulled it a bit more it might’ve been a home run! Matthew pulled into second with an easy double. He had to hold at second when the next batter grounded to the third baseman, but then Matthew scored from second on a grounder to the second-baseman.

Matthew fielded the pitcher position in two of the five innings. He threw out two runners…while playing other positions! In the third inning he played second base, and he cleanly fielded a grounder off the bat of his former teammate and buddy Mihir, and threw him out at first. This helped hold the Defenders to only two runs in the inning.

In the fourth inning Matthew played left field. The Defenders had runners on first and second when a pop fly headed toward Matthew in left center. He came close to catching it in the air, but immediately picked the ball up off the ground. As I hollered for him to throw the ball to third, Matthew instead fired a strike to Alex at second to force the runner.

Matthew was on deck when Alex drove in the last two runs of the game. He finished the year with at least five straight hits. Using a productivity points system, Matthew was the most productive of players that batted only three times. Only one non-first-baseman who batted four times was more productive (He ranked high Saturday as well).

The players voted for All-Stars back around the first of May. At that time I reviewed the roster and realized there were more deserving players ahead of Matthew than there were roster spots. Though Matthew finished strong, last night Coach Turner was apologetic while relaying the news that Matthew had just missed out on the All-Star team. It was great that he was considered!

Poser



Taken May 12, 2007

2007 Pinto National Champions

Matthew Murphy looked sluggish as I arrived at the batting cages before the May 24th Pinto National Championship Game. He was kneeling near the cage door, and stayed there for a long time. But he hit well in the cage, a good sign. By the time we all made it to the Shetland field I was a nervous wreck, so instead of a friendly seat in the bleachers, I picked out the lone chair behind the plate. Melissa Turner sat next to me for the same reason. I was even worried when I saw Payton in red ribbons, as opposed to the black ones she wore in Saturday’s playoff victory.

Cade opened the game with a line drive to deep centerfield. He raced confidently around the bases and Coach Tim waved him home…but the Defenders throw to the plate was accurate and beat Cade to the plate. Cade slid between the fielder’s legs under the tag, and the umpire correctly called him safe. I don’t know if my cries of “Safe! He got in there!” helped, but it made me feel better. Brandt hit a high pop that the pitcher backhanded in the air, just off the ground.

But Payton got things going, grounding hard just over the first-base bag into the rightfield corner for a triple. She scored when the first-baseman couldn’t handle Josh’s grounder. Adam then lined a pitch into left for a triple, and Joshie motored all the way around to score. Joshua then poked the ball out to the third-baseman for a hit to drive home Adam. Joshua advanced to second on Alex’s grounder to first. Matthew Murphy doubled to left to drive in Joshua for the 5th run of the inning.

The Storm was on the board with five runs, but the difference in the game would be if we could keep the Defenders from scoring. Josh got things started by venturing into foul territory, and made a backhanded catch of a pop off the bat of dangerous leadoff hitter Jack Regitz. Later in the inning Alex caught a grounder at second and tagged out cleanup hitter Nathan McLauren…then Alex almost turned a double play. This out was big, as the next Defenders batter struck out to end the inning, putting the score 5 – 2 Storm.

Ryan led off the 2nd with a base hit and scampered to second, when the throw in bounced past the shortstop. Carson’s single to center drove in Ryan, but although Matthew Gibbs and Cade reached base, we couldn’t drive home any more runs. Coming off his big day Saturday when Cole had a double and triple with two RBIs and runs scored, Cole just missed another extra-base hit when he ripped a line drive foul to the left side. And despite Payton’s force of a runner at second in the bottom of the second, the Defenders took the lead by scoring five runs of their own.

Payton then led off the 3rd with a single to right, and she took second when the ball again got away from the shortstop. She scored on Josh’s big triple to left. Adam’s smash hit to the shortstop plated Turner. Joshua’s grounder to the right side advanced Adam from first to third, and then Alex’s single to right drove home Adam. Alex alertly took second when the shortstop couldn’t catch the throw in from the outfield. Matthew Murphy pulled a line drive down into the left-field corner. The ball bounced twice and hit the fence, one of Cosmo’s best hits ever. As Alex scored Matthew raced around to third.

Ryan produced a swinging bunt that the pitcher fielded. The pitcher held Matthew at third, but when the pitcher looked at Ryan Matthew danced further off third, regaining the pitcher’s attention. This allowed Ryan to advance to second. Then Carson lined a pitch right into the third-baseman’s glove. It fortunately popped out, and as Matthew scored, Ryan ran toward third base. He ran around the third-baseman, seemingly not to avoid a tag but merely to avoid running into the player. Umpire McCarn ruled Ryan out for running out of the baseline, but Matthew’s 5th run ended the inning anyway.

The Storm held the Defenders to only two runs in the third. Matthew Murphy fielded a grounder at second and threw to Adam at first for an out. The next batter singled to right. As he rounded first he ran into Adam, a typical collision that happens all the time in Pinto and Shetland ball. This held the batter at first, though the Defender coaches and parents argued for interference. Had the runner been granted second base, he would have scored…changing the way the entire game turned out!

The Storm extended their lead in the fourth. Matthew Gibbs beat out a grounder to first, took third on Cade’s single to right, and scored on Brandt’s RBI grounder. Payton then hit another triple to right, driving home Cade. Payton scored on josh Turner’s RBI grounder to third. Adam’s single to right drove home Josh, and Adam raced all the way to third when the rightfielder bobbled the ball and then threw home. Joshua then hit for the third straight time, and almost beating out the throw to first.

The bottom of the fourth typified how the Storm won: outfield play. The Storm had 39 batters put the ball into play, and 20 of those were hit to the outfield (51%). Nineteen of those 20 balls were extra base hits…only once was a Storm batter held at first on a hit to the outfield! The Defenders only hit 13 of their 34 balls hit to the outfield (38%), but Storm outfielders held 6 of those 13 at first base. That 12 extra-base hit difference helped Storm fielders to make eight putouts in the field. And it seemed like all twelve Storm players handled the ball, both in the outfield as well as the infield.

Bottom of the fourth: After the leadoff batter reached, Jack Regitz hit a grounder up the middle into the outfield…not a good start of the inning for the Storm. But Adam fielded the ball in center and ran to the infield, tagging out the runner before he reached second…a huge play that directly prevented one run, and indirectly one more. Later the Defenders had runners on first and second when a pop fly headed toward Matthew Murphy in left center. He came close to catching it in the air, but immediately picked the ball up off the ground. As I hollered for him to throw the ball to third, Cosmo instead fired a strike to Alex at second, to force out the runner. Two outfield outs in one inning! The next Defender batter struck out, ending the inning with only three runs scored.

The Storm led 15 – 12, and added five more runs in the fifth. Cosmo hit a one-out double to deep left-center. Ryan reached on a grounder to third, and Carson’s grounder to second knocked in Matthew from second-base. Then Matthew Gibbs had a single to deep right field, driving in both Ryan and Carson. Carson scored all the way from first. Cade singled to right, and took second on the throw home, that held Gibbs at third. Brandt then hit a hard grounder right at the first-baseman. The ball skipped under his glove, hit his left foot, and caromed behind second base. This allowed both Matthew Gibbs and Cade to score.

But the Defenders wouldn’t go away, scoring five in the bottom of the fifth. Adam made two nice plays for outs at first, and Cade almost speared a line drive in centerfield for the third out. With the score 20 – 17, three runs would win the game for the Storm.

Payton led off and smashed a double off the pitcher’s foot. She scored from second on Josh Turner’s single to center. Then another big play: Down two strikes Adam grounded back to the pitcher, and took too many glances as he ran to first. But the throw was off the mark, and Adam was safe. On the hit Josh was running from first, and when the throw was wild Coach Tim waved him home. The pitcher caught the throw home, but Josh slid in safely. The throw home allowed Adam to advance to second, which was key. But before the play had even ended, the Defenders coach was on the field, reminding the umpire that runners get one base on an overthrow. Josh was sent back to third.

The drama grew. The Defenders huddled behind the mound, aware that Adam represented the winning run on second base. With one out Alex fouled off the first two pitches. The thought crossed my mind that my Matthew might come up with two out and the game on the line. Alex was reminded that he had five more pitches, so he watched as the next pitch came in low. The fourth pitch came in lower, and though Alex had been ready to swing, at the last second he wisely held back. Then Alex watched another pitch come in just outside. The tension grew even more…probably not for Alex, but certainly for all the grownups!

Pitch six was perfect, and Alex smashed a rope right up the middle into centerfield. As Coach Conrad waved his arms in the air in victory, both Josh and Adam scored, ending the game. The Storm are the 2007 Pinto National Champions!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Rainbow Warriors



Back Row: hard-hitting Clay (dark hair), slick fielding Curtis, playful slugger Andrew, student-of-the-game Joey, oft-pictured Will, Coach Frank, me.

Front Row: newcomer Thomas, big-footed David, the un-sung Michael, versatile Christian, unlikely pitcher John Fulton, oft-walking Josiah, lefty Nick, full-speed leadoff man Corey, faster-than-a-speeding bullet Jake.

Not pictured: utilityman Russell

Dodging the Police

Had my second close call with a police car in as many days. Monday I was passed near the Roswell Square by a black SUV in a hurry. We both turned onto Oxbo. The police were coming the other way. I saw him and slowed, but the police passed me, then turned around and hit the lights. It passed me and got the SUV, but I didn’t breathe until I passed them, fearful that he would wave me over as well. Yesterday evening I rolled through a right-on-red onto Johnson Ferry, then sped up and got in the left lane. A police car came up fast behind me, so I slowed down, and eventually signaled and got in the right lane. The police car stayed in my blind spot, not passing. I kept going south on JF as the police car finally turned left onto 120. Had to make a U-turn to go home.

Hawks caught a break for sure…would be nice if they could get the OSU PG and Georgetown center. Seems like Josh Smith & Marvin could be enough where they could do without that Texas forward, good as he is. But you never know with Billy Knight calling the shots. Your thoughts?

Listened to the Braves on the way home from baseball practices. Matthew was hitting well last night…in no socks and Crocs for shoes. He always seems to peak right at the end of the season. His championship game is on the smaller field that he doesn’t like…sometimes there are tough bounces of the lip of the grass. But the setting sun won’t be a factor.

Will has a Thursday game and Friday doubleheader. He hasn’t pitched well on back to back days. No baseball Saturday! If I’m a good husband I plan something fun for the family, though Will has at least one Sunday game, and Monday we go to a cookout. Social overload.

Appears Kelly Johnson is back on a roll. Someone said it was good that Cox rested Kelly Sunday after he had a huge game, as opposed to after taking an 0-fer…better for the confidence. Same with Torre and the rookie pitcher who doubled off the Mets…took him out after seven with his confidence intact. Thorman was 0 – 9 went he blasted his HR deep to right. Interesting that Lemke was doing color on radio last night, and Skip was on TBS. DOB had some good stats on the Jones’…Chipper has struck out less in the last calendar year than Andruw has this season.

Can’t believe all the Vick-lovers calling into Buck & Kincaid, who are telling it like it is. Buck said Herschel never got in such trouble, but he didn’t bring up the falling asleep in the garage with the engine going incident. Tom Brady has had the recent pregnant ex-girlfriend episode, but he owned up to it…nothing like Vick’s repeated offenses.

What restaurants have y’all been to lately? We went to Moe’s, Chipotle, and Chili’s with the grandparents, and here at work I went to Firehouse Subs and Ruby Tuesday. The height of cuisine.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

At Bat



Think his weight needs to be back more?

He recently moved up in the box to better ward off curveballs...what he has most struggled with recently.

Stats

Though I didn’t keep up with the stats during the year, I did have the most productive players at the top of the order, in terms of OBP and batting average. I compiled the stats halfway through the season, and afterwards. I did notice the two players who had the biggest increase and decrease in those categories, and moved them up/down in the order accordingly.

Will also started slow, but raised his average over 300 points and his OBP rose over 200. In the second half his OBP was almost .800, and he went one stretch where he reached base twelve straight times.

I need to compile the pitching stats, then I’ll have time during tourney downtime to compile the travel team stats.

Rounding First


Monday, May 21, 2007

Notes From Tropicana

I'm republishing my notes from a weeknight Rays/Baltimore game last September...

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

They’ve reduced seating capacity in the dome by taking out upper deck seats up high…perhaps they are obstructed view seats due to the catwalk. The crowd was very old, even for a baseball game. One couple was celebrating their 54th wedding anniversary. When a between innings contest won my section a soft drink, and two old gentlemen discretely moved over to our section. As I was keeping score, Raymond the Mascot tossed a cushy ball over my head. Another old dude two rows behind me fumbled the ball into the row between us. I could’ve easily grabbed the ball, but since he wanted it so bad, I let him have it.

Vendors hollered “Water! Soda!” Over the loudspeaker, “Rays baseball” sounded like “Braves baseball”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9TH…after warming up alongside lefty reliever Bruce Chen, righty Chris Britton comes in and picks up the save for Baltimore.

Bullpen notes…starter Russ Ortiz watched the game from the spartan “bullpen” bench down the left field line. On the Astroturf field, the bullpen plate was dirt colored Astroturf, the “plate” just a painted pentagon.

Fan Poll…favorite Rays giveaway:14% Noisemakers16% Caps26% Figurines44% Bobbleheads

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

Cumberland Live Oak Forest


Standing in the middle of the forest, I could've taken a north, east, south, and west panoramic view...all four would've looked similar.

Social Overload

We are in social overload right now. Friday Will went going to a concert at the Tabernacle…a group called Reliant K.

This week Will has played well in front of the grandparents…
…Tuesday a 2 RBI hit and another hard line drive, plus he threw out a base-stealer.
…Wednesday 3 for 3 (his team only had 6 hits), and 4 IP with 4 K’s & 2 ERs.
…Thursday 3 for 3 (single, double, & triple), scored 3 runs & 2 RBI, and 3 spectacular assists.

We won Thursday night 8 – 5 over a team we had previously tied. Will took a cutoff throw behind second from the right-center fence and easily nailed the batter trying for a triple, ending the fourth inning. Then the first two batters in the fifth hit hard grounders to Will’s left. Will was able to reach the first one on the run and had a nice cross-body throw to first. He had to dive for the second grounder. For years I’d been pointing out MLB shortstops making the same play, diving then basically performing an immediate pushup to quickly get back on their feet for the throw. WiIl had never done this before in a game, but he executed the play perfectly for two quick outs.

The top 5 in our order went 13 OB – 15 PA with 10 hits, 7 runs, & 7 RBI. The infield made lots of good plays, but the outfield was asleep last night. I got a new scorebook for Will’s March 27 game, and last night’s game filled it up. Social overload.

The Braves haven’t eaten many $2 million contracts…hopefully this isn’t a harbinger of things to come under Liberty. The series loss to the Nats doesn’t bug me too much, with the 2 – 1 pitching gem. But it’ll be tough to turn things around at Fenway.

One hundred goals would be a lot, though there are lots of little ones I can think of. Stay after me & perhaps I’ll do it. So far this year I’ve had trouble checking things off my to-do lists.

Cumberland Island Views




Cumberland Island: When walking from the forest of live oaks to the Atlantic beach, we first emerged in this desert-like area.
Top view is looking south to Florida.
Middle view east toward the Atlantic Ocean.
Bottom view looks north.
We were near the southern tip of the island.

13 Activities in One Weekend

We did go to the Coleys…I wore my new party shirt and jeans, though most wore shorts & tees. Ceil knew two other ladies, and I “knew” Blake, who I had talked to at a couple of other Coley get-togethers. There were lots of kids, so they all had a fun time on the treehouse. Bryan says he’s taking the treehouse with him…he has the easy half taken down. They move next weekend. The Coleys had looked for a house in our neighborhood, but bought a house in Blake’s neighborhood. Blake’s kids are the same age as my kids.

Friday we didn’t make small group. I left work because my father-in-law was having problems taking out a faucet in our master bath. He finally used a drill to get it out, and we got them in. I was late getting Matthew to practice. He was tired and didn’t practice well…right now he has a problem if someone hustles ahead of him and gets ‘his’ ball. The Millers were tired and didn’t go to practice, but made a quick shopping trip. I realized I left my laptop cord at work, so that night I did the team stats manually, which was fun, though I stayed up past 12:30.

Matthew’s team played well and won their 9 am playoff game. Matthew played pitcher in the top of the first and only had one ball hit to him…he fielded it cleanly and threw out the runner at first. Matthew had 2 nice RBI hits and scored both times. Playing third he cleanly fielded a grounder near the bag and made a good throw to first, though the runner beat it out. Then Matthew went hard after a pop and just missed it.

Will had spent the night with a teammate. He came over to Matthew’s game and borrowed my keys to get his uniform and batbag. I went by the car and locked it, not knowing Will had left the keys in the car…along with his uni for the afternoon game. Ceil had to make a trip home and to the park between Anna’s recitals.

Screw-up # 2: …in my busyness last week I failed to confirm the game with the other coach, for the first time all year. They didn’t show…my bad. We did have a fun intersquad game…7 on 7 with dads/brothers filling in the extra spots. All the guys who didn’t get to pitch much got to pitch. Then we had a postgame pizza party before I hustled to Anna’s 2 pm recital.

Will stayed at the field and was really dragging by the time his 4:30 game started…making a first inning error at short. He caught the rest of the game. No one stole second, but he pulled a Javy and picked a runner off first. Will was the only Titan to reach base three times, and the only one to score twice (both times from second ). He had a nice opposite-field double, and stole a base. Afterwards we ate at Chili’s…Will’s pick.

Saturday I bought gas for $3.099, so Sunday we packed in the Civic to go everywhere. We only made Kidstuf, after the in-laws left. Afterwards we stopped by Target and Dick’s (where Ceil used my $75.00 gift card to get her a new pair of running shoes). Matthew was worn out and fell asleep when we got home, so I stayed home while the rest went to our friends’ son’s baptism at Johnson Ferry. Another weekend one the go.

The Thursday game looks enticing…Smoltz/Glavine. Prado had a rough first game. Doesn’t look good for Redman, and DOB made it sound like Lerew didn’t stay in Cox’s good graces.

Determination


Sometimes it appears he's trying too hard. Makes him especially succeptable to curveballs.

Braves All-Stars?

Though it’s not as important as the pennant race, what Braves are in line to make the All-Star team? Hudson, Smoltz…the big three relievers would be long shots, I suppose. Kelly has cooled off, but could he have a change if he keeps his numbers up? Andruw won’t make it, but do you think Frenchy has a chance? You’d think McCann would have a chance even though he’s been in and out of the lineup. Chipper & Renteria as well, though we’ll be lucky to have more than two representatives, since each team has to be represented.

As usual, the Mets will compete for All-Star roster spots…3B, SS, catcher.

Will’s game didn’t end til 8:30…he had a nice 2 RBI single and threw out a base-stealer at second (the runner on third didn’t budge). Went to Moe’s with my parents, then I drove them back to their hotel. First time I saw their tricked out Honda Odyssey they bought used…it has 44,000 miles.

Guess Who Does the Laundry?


Taken during game ONE of a doubleheader.
My laundry secret...keep the baseball pants in the washing machine and wash with each load until the next game. This worked for this pair that Will removed elastic from the legs, but I'm not having the same luck his new pair.
Spoiled travel team teammates think it's odd that he only wears one batting glove.

Final Game Victory

I was reminded a few days ago that we had played Hobgood Green earlier in the season, so I looked it up. It was the long 7 inning 3 – 3 tie played on an April Thursday evening. We didn’t hit well that night, but David’s 3 innings and John Fulton’s 4 innings kept us in the game. It was David’s turn to pitch again, so I thought we’d stick with the same recipe. We won 8 – 5 even though everyone didn’t play their best game…though many did.

David had another strong first inning on the mound, catching a pop and striking out the next two. Offensively we started strong. Corey walked on four pitches and stole second, then Will lined one past the centerfielder on the fly for an RBI triple. Clay then had his own RBI triple, and Andrew singled him home. On a full count Jake was hit. Nick fouled several pitches off to hang tough and work the count full, before striking out. David dinked a hit down the right-field line for an RBI double.

In the second Hobgood scored three runs, but David mixed in three more strikeouts. Jake almost made a spectacular catch in center on a ball hit far over his head. He didn’t get a good jump, but raced back and got a bead on the fly, even though he was looking back directly into the late afternoon sun. At full speed the ball glanced off his glove, and Jake fell hard to the ground, reopening elbow and knee wounds. Will said from his shortstop position he heard Jake emit a loud shout as he hit the ground. His fall reminded me of Nick’s plop in left-center a few games ago. Rightfielder Russell ran a long way over to back up the play. Jake was banged up, but stayed in the game. It was a great effort by both Jake and Russell.

The only second inning highlight was Josiah. After getting hit by a pitch, he had second base stolen. His foot hit the bag as the fielder held his glove on top of the base, but the umpire called him out. I didn’t have a good view, but I saw third-base coach David Poisal striding purposely toward the umpire between innings, and thought I was going to have to restrain him (not really!). That call didn’t go our way, but later in the game several others did.

David had to face only four batters in the third, striking out one. Russell made a nice play at second, ranging far to his left to field a grounder. He threw to Clay for the out at first. Then when a pitch got away from the catcher Corey, he flipped to David covering the plate to nail the runner trying to score from third. Ready to put in another pitcher, I asked David as he ran off the field if he wanted to pitch another inning. He smiled and nodded, saying, “Yeah, I’ve got my changeup working!”

John Fulton had a one-out walk in the third, and raced to second on a wild pitch. Will doubled him home, then Clay singled home Will. Andrew singled, and then Jake singled, knocking in Clay. The Warriors now led 7 – 3.

We continued our fine defensively play in the fourth. Third-baseman Clay ranged almost to the fence to catch a foul pop for the first out. David then struck out his seventh batter of the game for out number two. The next batter hit a long drive to the fence in right-center. I expected centerfielder Curtis to run down the ball, but rightfielder Josiah outran him to the fence. Josiah made a great throw to cutoff man Will in short center. Will turned and fired to Clay at third. Coach White and I were standing in the dugout door, and we had a great angle to see Will’s throw sail past the batter as he ran to third. The throw beat the runner to third by several steps, and Clay applied the tag for an easy inning-ending out.

Against a tough new pitcher, David led off the fourth with a walk. He stole second and took third on a passed ball. He couldn’t score when Russell beat out an infield hit. Michael walked on a full count to load the bases, but we couldn’t drive them home…though Christian came close.

With John Fulton now pitching, the first two batters in the fifth hit hard grounders to Will’s left at shortstop. Will was able to reach the first one on the run, and made a nice cross-body throw to Josiah at first. Will had to dive for the second grounder. For years I’d been pointing out MLB shortstops making the same play, diving then basically performing an immediate pushup to quickly get back on their feet for the throw. WiIl had never done this before in a game, but he executed the play perfectly for two quick outs. John Fulton ended the inning with a strikeout.

We got a two-out insurance run in the fifth. The Hobgood first baseman made a nice catch of John Fulton’s foul pop, robbing him of an at bat. Corey was hit by a pitch, and it took a perfect throw by the catcher to nail Corey stealing second. But Will singled and stole second, and scored on another RBI single by Clay. Andrew followed with his third hit of the game.

As the darkness grew, we started another inning. The defense continued to make plays. Clay fielded a grounder at third and threw to Nick at first for out number one. Russell caught a high pop for the second out. Then Russell again ranged far to his left and left his feet to secure a ground ball. He hopped up and fired to Nick just in time to nail the runner, ending the game. A fine win for the Warriors.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Pitching


May 17th Warriors Win

I was reminded a few days ago that we had played Hobgood Green earlier in the season, so I looked it up. It was the long 7 inning 3 – 3 tie played on an April Thursday evening. We didn’t hit well that night, but David’s 3 innings and John Fulton’s 4 innings kept us in the game. It was David’s turn to pitch again, so I thought we’d stick with the same recipe. We won 8 – 5 even though everyone didn’t play their best game…though many did.

David had another strong first inning on the mound, catching a pop and striking out the next two. Offensively we started strong. Corey walked on four pitches and stole second, then Will lined one past the centerfielder on the fly for an RBI triple. Clay then had his own RBI triple, and Andrew singled him home. On a full count Jake was hit. Nick fouled several pitches off to hang tough and work the count full, before striking out. David dinked a hit down the right-field line for an RBI double.

In the second Hobgood scored three runs, but David mixed in three more strikeouts. Jake almost made a spectacular catch in center on a ball hit far over his head. He didn’t get a good jump, but raced back and got a bead on the fly, even though he was looking back directly into the late afternoon sun. At full speed the ball glanced off his glove, and Jake fell hard to the ground, reopening elbow and knee wounds. Will said from his shortstop position he heard Jake emit a loud shout as he hit the ground. His fall reminded me of Nick’s plop in left-center a few games ago. Rightfielder Russell ran a long way over to back up the play. Jake was banged up, but stayed in the game. It was a great effort by both Jake and Russell.

The only second inning highlight was Josiah. After getting hit by a pitch, he had second base stolen. His foot hit the bag as the fielder held his glove on top of the base, but the umpire called him out. I didn’t have a good view, but I saw third-base coach David Poisal striding purposely toward the umpire between innings, and thought I was going to have to restrain him (not really!). That call didn’t go our way, but later in the game several others did.

David had to face only four batters in the third, striking out one. Russell made a nice play at second, ranging far to his left to field a grounder. He threw to Clay for the out at first. Then when a pitch got away from the catcher Corey, he flipped to David covering the plate to nail the runner trying to score from third. Ready to put in another pitcher, I asked David as he ran off the field if he wanted to pitch another inning. He smiled and nodded, saying, “Yeah, I’ve got my changeup working!”

John Fulton had a one-out walk in the third, and raced to second on a wild pitch. Will doubled him home, then Clay singled home Will. Andrew singled, and then Jake singled, knocking in Clay. The Warriors now led 7 – 3.

We continued our fine defensively play in the fourth. Third-baseman Clay ranged almost to the fence to catch a foul pop for the first out. David then struck out his seventh batter of the game for out number two. The next batter hit a long drive to the fence in right-center. I expected centerfielder Curtis to run down the ball, but rightfielder Josiah outran him to the fence. Josiah made a great throw to cutoff man Will in short center. Will turned and fired to Clay at third. Coach White and I were standing in the dugout door, and we had a great angle to see Will’s throw sail past the batter as he ran to third. The throw beat the runner to third by several steps, and Clay applied the tag for an easy inning-ending out.

Against a tough new pitcher, David led off the fourth with a walk. He stole second and took third on a passed ball. He couldn’t score when Russell beat out an infield hit. Michael walked on a full count to load the bases, but we couldn’t drive them home…though Christian came close.

With John Fulton now pitching, the first two batters in the fifth hit hard grounders to Will’s left at shortstop. Will was able to reach the first one on the run, and made a nice cross-body throw to Josiah at first. Will had to dive for the second grounder. For years I’d been pointing out MLB shortstops making the same play, diving then basically performing an immediate pushup to quickly get back on their feet for the throw. WiIl had never done this before in a game, but he executed the play perfectly for two quick outs. John Fulton ended the inning with a strikeout.

We got a two-out insurance run in the fifth. The Hobgood first baseman made a nice catch of John Fulton’s foul pop, robbing him of an at bat. Corey was hit by a pitch, and it took a perfect throw by the catcher to nail Corey stealing second. But Will singled and stole second, and scored on another RBI single by Clay. Andrew followed with his third hit of the game.

As the darkness grew, we started another inning. The defense continued to make plays. Clay fielded a grounder at third and threw to Nick at first for out number one. Russell caught a high pop for the second out. Then Russell again ranged far to his left and left his feet to secure a ground ball. He hopped up and fired to Nick just in time to nail the runner, ending the game. A fine win for the Warriors.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

lords a'leaping


When third-baseman Andrew strugggled with a popup hit just over his head, shortstop Will stepped in at the last second to make the catch.
Note Andrew's lucky purple socks.

Baseball or Track?

Saturday I was proud that the Warriors hung close against a tough Hobgood team, even though we didn’t play our best game.

Josiah pitched two innings and threw a lot of strikes. In the first inning, against the top of the order he only allowed two earned runs. Jake and Will threw out runners at first, and Nick made a nice catch in left field. Corey led off the bottom of the first with an exciting triple. With no out Coach Ellis wisely held Corey at third on Will’s fly ball to center, and Corey scored easily on Clay’s hit. Andrew’s single and Jake’s walk loaded the bases.

As Nick stepped to the plate, first-base coach White remembered he was holding a stopwatch. Jake was taking his lead off first, and George said, “Let’s see how fast you are. I’ll start the watch on the crack of the bat.” I’m sure Jake smiled. Nick launched the first pitch to the left-centerfield fence for a bases-loaded triple, his best hit of the year. Jake took off around the bases, and had to slow down when he caught Andrew just before both crossed the plate. Coach White stopped his watch and couldn’t believe the result…9.72 seconds!

David’s grounder knocked in Nick, then Josiah walked. John Fulton hit it hard, but right at the second-baseman to end the inning. We had retaken the lead 5 – 4. Clay relieved Josiah in the second. With Corey catching, a runner was tagged out trying to score. Curtis caught a fly ball in centerfield, and John Fulton threw out a batter at first, to Christian.

Thomas led off the second with a walk, but was retired on Christian’s grounder. Christian took second on a wild pitch, advanced to third when Curtis hit to the right side of the infield, and scored on Michael’s RBI grounder. Corey walked, but Will couldn’t drive them in.

In the third Clay pitched out of a bases-loaded jam with only one run scoring, and made a great play. A runner on third charged home when the ball got away, but catcher Andrew chased the ball down and flipped low to the plate. Clay caught the throw inches from the ground. Knowing the runner was approaching, Clay moved his glove up and toward third, and the tag found the runner’s feet for the out. Then shortstop David threw to 1B Josiah for another out, and third-baseman Michael ended the inning by tagging out a runner headed to third.

Leading off the bottom of the inning Clay was hit, and Andrew singled. Both advanced on a wild pitch. When Nick struck out a wild throw allowed both runners to score, and Nick raced around to third again…another exciting play. Down two strikes, Josiah’s two-out grounder was run down by the first-baseman.

Nick’s pitching was the bright spot in the fourth. After his first pitch hit the leadoff batter, Nick struck out the next three batters. Catcher Corey threw to first-baseman Clay to end the inning. Corey made a smart play: instead of rushing the throw or throwing too hard, he took his time and threw softly. Instead of the throw being too high or skipping at Clay’s feet, the throw bounced perfectly into Clay’s glove for the out.

The third-baseman couldn’t handle John Fulton’s leadoff grounder, and Thomas walked for a second time. But Christian’s line drive was caught by the right-fielder, and Curtis’ groundout ended the game. As we gathered at home plate after the game for the closing prayer, one of the Hobgood coaches walked up next to me. I asked if he would like to lead the prayer, and he did. A nice Mt. Paran moment.

High Pitch



Will motions for Christian to hold at third when the Smryna Nationals' catcher hauls in a high pitch, as Coach Henry looks on. Hey! We're winning!

Note the catcher's stylish New Balance sneakers.

Intimate Encounters

Sunday we sat in the West, and the guy who sang Ring of Fire always does a good job singing in Kidstuf. I was trying to determine if someone different sang it simultaneously in the East.

The Intimate Encounters study we are doing in our small group goes a predetermined number of weeks, and we finish June 8. That will be the last week with Alpharetta couple appointed to lead the study by North Point. Unfortunately Ceil and I have been the most “slack” in the group in completing the mandatory weekly assignments. With the in-laws here this weekend, and Anna having her ballet rehearsal Friday, we’ll probably miss, putting us deeper in the doghouse. We may not graduate, but the studies have been well-worth it.

This summer our group will probably only meet occasionally. We added a new couple sometime last year, a little younger but fun and outspoken. The husband is a busy accountant with Earnst & Young, who went to Michigan. We’ve had 4 couples do Intimate Encounters, plus the leaders. The three non-North Point couples in the group dropped out when we started IE, so they may rejoin this summer (two are having lots of problems with sick kids). You should’ve seen the astonished look on the new couple’s faces when Lee first mentioned ending the group, only a few months after they had joined.

IE is a 16 week commitment with a break in the middle, where individually you complete each weekly chapter, then have a ‘staff meeting’ with your spouse to discuss. The chapters focus on needs, meeting needs (relying on God to meet them, as opposed to your spouse), past family relationships, how to deal with past, negative emotions filling your cup, etc. It gets real specific, and the blanks to be filled in/discuss require thought and soul-searching…certainly not to be breezed through. The idea is to make the weekly staff meeting ongoing after the study ends…an emotional checkup a little more involved than just a date. It has helped all four couples…the other three probably more than it’s helped us.

Will Vick be suspended? Murphy’s Law…it got worse after Schaub was traded.

Titans


Top row: Cornel, Charlie, Bryce, Will, Richie, Christopher, Audie, Bob.
Front row: Jared, Austin, Trey, Colin, Kendle, Donnie.

Devastating News?

Monday night we went to Perimeter Mall & Trader Joes, making it home just after 24 started. Listened to some of the pregame/game on the radio, including news of Redman’s good AAA outing. During 24 commercials I was running upstairs to help with baths, so I wasn’t flipping over to the Braves. Just before 10 pm Fox 5 teased their newscast by saying ‘devastating news for Braves playoff hopes!’ I saw it was Smoltz, but missed the report, since it ran second and I was flipping channels. Then I logged on at 10:15 pm to read DOB saying Smoltz might not miss a start.

Yesterday morning 790 was saying Redman would start Friday, I think. They said he did worse than normal in Fenway. Remembering what you said yesterday about Lerew can probably get back on track, Davies having a couple of promising outings, James getting back on track, and Hudson still being hot…although Smoltz getting hurt would throw us for a loop, the cupboard wouldn’t be bare.

After the Mets weekend, I flip over last night just in time to see Delgado’s bases-loaded walk to bring in the game winning run. People keep giving them games.

Houston is ready for me to come back, so I’ll be looking at the Astros schedule.

Yesterday afternoon I picked up my parents near Perimeter Mall and took them to Will’s game…mucho traffic. My folks aren’t doing too well, but they’re driving up today, Saturday, and next week. Ceil’s parents arrive today and get to see Will play for both his teams, as well as Matthew’s 9 am playoff game Saturday. When Matthew heard his Storm team drew the Aeros, he said “good.” I asked why it was good, and he said “they’re all little guys”.

The photos of Will that I post on my blog are all taken by leadoff hitter Corey’s dad...many from behind the centerfield fence. After every game he emails everyone 20 – 30 closeups of all the players. Many times if there’s a crucial play or diving catch, he’s got a shot of it. When I posted the ‘meet the warriors’ post, I considered including photos of each player. Pretty nice.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mother's Day Weekend Recap

Friday was Matthew’s Practice, small group, and then picking up Will from his Six Flags Thursday night sleepover near Jim R Miller Park…Anna was sleeping over Friday night.

Saturday Matthew has a nice 2 run inside the park HR in his only at bat…he hit it hard and ran hard all the way. He played pitcher two innings, but didn’t get a ball hit to him. He had a rare outfield error, not stopping a grounder. He usually gets those…I was surprised. They won, but Will’s rec team lost while Ceil worked concessions. After the game I took Matthew and Will to Wendys and QT to beat the heat.

Will’s team won their 3:30 game, and he hit it hard each time up, including a long ground-rule double to left-center…a nice line drive that one-hopped the fence. After the game we went back to the smaller field, for a birthday party for Matthew’s teammate Lucas. Will and his friend Zach were surrounded by a field full of little kids, it looked funny. Fun party. Didn’t get home til 9 pm…long day.

The guy at NP did a nice job singing Johnny cash’s ‘Ring of Fire’. Went to PF Changs for lunch, then Ceil did some running around, so the only weekend Braves game I see is Sunday. Matthew started feeling sick at lunch. When we got home he went straight to the couch, and stayed there until 1:30 this morning, except to throw up twice. He’s never stayed still for that long. Anna went swimming with friends, and we were headed to Blockbuster when we saw you. Last night I watched Cobb, the Tommy Lee Jones movie.

Baseball History?

After last Thursday night’s game Henry Bartlett said that baseball history was quite possibly made last night: probably never before in one inning has there been a triple play AND a strikeout / 1 – 3…where the dropped third strike is picked up by the pitcher, who threw out the batter at first. As Pete Van Weiren says, just when you thought you’ve seen everything in baseball…

The triple play was special. Like last time, it was the players on the field who immediately knew what to do, as opposed to us grown-ups pulling the strings. With runners on first and second, pitcher John Fulton’s pitch was blooped / lined to second-baseman Michael’s left. Michael scampered over and easily caught the ball. The runner on first was moving away from first and Michael was moving toward first, and Michael immediately knew to throw to Josiah to double off that runner. As Josiah was easily catching Michael’s throw, John Fulton began instructing Josiah to throw to second. Shortstop Curtis had moved toward the second-base bag on the hit, and was standing there ready for the throw. Josiah’s throw was perfect, just beating the runner desperately trying to get back. Curtis squeezed the ball…triple play!

Thanks to David Arasmith’s wonderful scorekeeping, I noticed this interesting note on the triple play: Only three batters came to the plate in that fifth inning, but they were retired in reverse order. The 3rd batter made the 1st out, the 2nd batter made the 2nd out, and the 1st batter made the 3rd out. Well, I thought it was interesting! Those Powder Springs Yankees were the same team that we turned a triple play on last fall…and John Fulton was pitching then as well.

The rare strikeout / pitcher to first-baseman putout happened in the bottom of the inning. Russell took a swing at a ball in the dirt, and when the catcher tried to scoop up the pitch, the ball popped up high and out in front of the plate. The catcher didn’t see the ball and turned to look behind him, and Russell took off to first. The pitcher charged in to recover the ball, and his throw to first barely beat Russell to the bag. Russell did good running straight up the foul line, as he was almost directly between the pitcher throwing and the first-baseman trying to catch the ball…something to be aware of when running the bases.

Last night Ceil was discouraged with the loss, but I was able to quickly rattle off several encouraging things. We did come closer to beating these Yankees back on April 28th, but Thursday their entire lineup was spraying base hits beyond our infielders and in front of the outfielders. David and John Fulton faced 39 batters and walked only one, which was excellent. David threw 79% strikes, and JF threw 67% strikes, which was great. David struck out seven batters in three innings, including four of the first six batters of the game.

Baseball is great because any night a lowly team can rise up and defeat the mighty. The Yankees hits were hardly ever hit at our fielders, but we seemed to always be hitting it right to their fielders. In the first four innings we only struck out twice and had 11 runners reach base, but hit into two straight tailor-made inning ending double plays. That’s baseball! Andrew doubled and scored on Jake’s sacrifice fly to center. Clay’s fourth inning hit knocked in Joey and Corey. Nick and Michael also had hits, and Curtis reached on an error.

In the field we had several highlights: first baseman Josiah fielded a grounder to his right and flipped to pitcher David covering to end a 1-2-3 first inning. Nick made a dramatic catch in left-centerfield, that I heard was caught on film (though I didn’t see it on SportsCenter). Corey ran a long way into right-center to make a fine catch, and I believe also caught another fly ball as well. Will ran all the way into foul territory to catch a fly behind third base. That’s what I’m talkin’bout…fly balls aren’t going to bounce far past you in the outfield, so all fielders should run full speed to try and catch them in the air. Do this and they give you an out, and a snack after the game. A few games ago Clay took his eye off a double-play ground ball and muffed it, but on the same exact play recorded the putout at second this time.

Triple Play Note: Saturday little Jack Regitz had an unassisted triple play, playing for the Pinto National Defenders. There could be more, but it is only the fourth triple play that I have heard about at Mt. Paran.

Squeezing In A Braves Game

At the last minute Thursday I offered to take one of our visitors to the airport. We left the office at noon and there was traffic the whole way…I dropped them off at 12:58. Knowing it would take an hour to get back, and I had to leave at 4 pm anyway, I just went to the Braves game.

I parked and left my car as Hudson recorded the last out in the top of the first, and was in the park before the end of the first. Good decision to quickly buy from a scalper under the bridge ($5 for Lexus Level), because there was still a real long line for tickets. Nice seat in the shade in shallow right field foul territory…I resisted the urge to eat at the Lexus Level Moe’s. When Yates came in I didn’t remember Gonzalez had pitched the last two days. Fun to watch Soriano walk in and close out the ninth.

The game ended about 3:40 and I got to my car just before four, so I got to the field early for the game. I never thought before about the number of BP pitches I’d throw in one session…yesterday we had 14 players take at least 15 - 20 pitches. We lost, but perhaps made baseball history…in the same inning we turned a triple play and suffered a strikeout / pitcher to first putout on the dropped third strike. Will was on the bench when we turned the triple…L4 – 3 – 6.

Good recent posts on Rowland’s office. Dumb comments about Hank by that guy in Alabama…I caught Dimino on Comcast last night. Unbelievable that Aaron could be a bad guy in the Bonds HR chase.

Yesterday I got an AirTran email with a small time change in flights. We leave mid Wednesday afternoon and leave SF Monday evening at 9 pm, to arrive at in Atlanta 5 am Tuesday morning. We’re probably in somewhat similar situations considering travel and our families. Ceil is going through a tough time right now because we’ve been so busy and our house is so messy/disorganized. I straightened up for over two hours Thursday night and made some progress.

Work

We had four new people / visitors through the office in one day…some stayed most of the week. They’ll all be spending time with me. Sometimes they can help get my work done, but the little things still pile up.

Overall my workload will decrease with the new people, and my time will be more freed up to concentrate on the more important/financial aspects of my job…and much less time spent on repetitive, delegatable tasks. But the next few months we’ll be ramping up on the new EZGo business, as well as having our own profit center to manage…instead of helping other profit centers that I’m not directly responsible for.

Nice comeback last Tuesday night, and good to see Andruw wake up a little. If McCann hasn’t homered since the first series, it could have to do with his finger. But he’s such a good hitter, going opposite field, etc, he can still contribute at the plate without being 100%.

Sliding Into Second


Note Will had adopted the habit of running the bases carrying a batting glove. This keeps a runner from opening his fist when sliding, which can lead to injured fingers. I don't know where he learned to do this. I happened to learn this same thing when I was thirteen!

Eye of the Tiger

My co-worker Randy, the super-outgoing sales guy who just moved to Lindbergh and recently attended Will & Matthew’s games, has a new kick-butt cell phone. He just added “Eye of the Tiger” as his ringbone. This morning it went off, and I commented to the three new people in the office that whenever we hear that, we all get up and start dancing. Then my new boss CK took us to the Atlanta Athletic Club for lunch, because there were two people in from Chicago. Right after we were seated the inevitable happened…Randy’s cell went off. He always appears to stare at the phone for several long seconds as it rings, as if he were checking the caller ID before answering. Randy finally hit some button to cut it off. CK commented that we were going to get kicked out of the club. Less than a minute later it rang again, and again instead of immediately answering Randy bolted up and marched quickly out of the room…Eye of the Tiger blaring the whole way. When he came back we made sure the phone was turned off.

After my boss SDA moved to Florida, I “reported” to his old boss KR, a super busy VP who never had time to spend with Steve, much less me. I would send him his monthly reports, but never saw or heard from him the entire ten months. With last week’s reorganization it makes sense to report to CK, another VP that I’ve known for a while…the guy who assigned the office location decision last week. I knew CK had frequented the Roswell Dreamland once or twice, so on the way to lunch I mentioned my recent visit to The Swallow on the Hollow. He’s never been, but wants to. CK has a ten year-old daughter, like me. He just came off heading the SAP conversion, which will help set me up on SAP training. I had been shunning it to avoid being a trainer, and having to travel for weeks and months on end. Now the timing is better. We joke that KR could be a hatchet man, so perhaps I’m in better hands.

When we returned from lunch, co-worker Matt was happy because he got to take the Little Rock trainee out to Dreamland for lunch…until he asked where we ate.

The One That Got Away

Confession: I sometimes frequent thrift stores…mostly looking for unique items or books for the kids. That’s where I found the Albert Belle BP jersey. Over the years I’ve bought a Bo Jackson BP jersey, a kids Chipper jersey with the old vertically-arched lettered JONES nameplate, a navy kids Braves BP jersey, an Astros ‘peach-melba’ kids jersey, light-blue polyester kids replica pullover ‘Atlanta’ 80’s-era jersey, Atlanta Knights jersey, three Thrashers jerseys of different colors and sizes, two different Reds jerseys, a navy Mariners jersey, a mint $250.00 Clement winter league jersey, a Mike Schmidt Phillies St. Patrick’s Day jersey, a Rochester Chiefs baseball jersey, a kids Len Dawson jersey, a Yankees BP jersey…probably more. All were under $5.00 each.

Saturday I made a quick trip to a store between Will’s two games and saw a black Giants Bonds jersey, pretty authentic. I really didn’t feel like buying it. Later I had second thoughts, but last night was my first chance to go back, and it was gone. Could’ve worn it this summer. I had been thinking about wearing my royal Aaron-era Braves ‘feather’ jersey to the Giants game, since we’ll be sitting behind Bonds in the leftfield stands.

Other purchases… Rangers, Canadians, Ducks, and Black Hawks hockey jerseys, several antique baseball gloves (Moose Skowron, Warren Spahan, etc), Masters golf shirts, replica Jim McMahon Bears jersey, several wood Louisville Sluggers (Garvey, Ripken, Cepeda, Felipe Alou, Kaline, Go-Go Sox, Montenez).

May 8th Game

Will had a good game last Tuesday night, though the Titans lost to North Cobb 14 – 11.

He played shortstop the first 4-1/2 innings, and in a rare move was moved to catcher in the middle of the inning, when the other catcher continually allowed wild pitches and passed balls. The bases were loaded with no outs, and the next three batters were retired, included an unsuccessful suicide squeeze attempt where Will tagged out the runner charging home from third.

At shortstop Will had two putouts in the first inning. On a single the batter rounded first and continued to second when the rightfielder threw home. The pitcher cut off the throw and threw to Will covering second. The batter stopped, caught between the bases, and slowly backtracked as Will ran to him holding the ball. The batter expected Will to eventually toss the ball to the first-baseman, so he did not run full speed back to the base. Instead of throwing Will simply accelerated and tagged the batter out without a throw, perfectly executing a rundown.

Will later tagged out the next runner attempting to steal second base to end the inning.
In the second a batter chopped a grounder just out of the reach of the pitcher. Will charged the ball and barely had time to throw out the batter at first.

In the first Will’s hard grounder was bobbled by the shortstop, and Will beat the throw to first. The first baseman fired across the diamond past third, allowing the runner to score and Will advanced to second. After Chris walked, Lanz popped the ball high and fair in front of first, and was out on the infield fly rule. When North Cobb let the ball bounce Will raced to third. Will scored on Bryce’s single.

Will singled up the middle in the third and stole second base, and took third on an infield hit.
When Bryce hit a grounder to third Will took off for home, and the third-baseman’s only play was at first.

At 8:05 pm the sun was setting, but a fifth inning was started. North Cobb scored a quick insurance run, but was retired with only four batters coming to the plate. Down five runs, three of the first six Titan batters scored, and Will came up as the light continued to fade. He singled up the middle on the first pitch, but the next batter grounded out to end the game.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Shortstop


Whether Anna?

Anna was probably embarrassed about what she had put down. She has always been big into ballet. A friend’s daughter graduated from college last year in music. She went to NYC to audition, but I don’t think she landed anything. The girl had a recital one Sunday afternoon at Johnson Ferry that Anna and Matthew enjoyed immensely, and Anna got a copy of her demo CD to play…popular/current Broadway tunes, like from Wicked. One easy thing Anna could do would be to join her good friend in the Johnson Ferry youth choir. They’re almost to the age where they go on trips and put on musicals. Last fall Anna had a friend dance in the Nutcracker, and she wants to try out this fall.

Back in the mid 80’s even I was going to the Omni so much that I was beginning to recognize the ushers myself.

Will was out to 10:30 last night…the Living Science gang hit Starbucks after their Bible Study. A friend of his called needing him to fill in tonight at a game in Dunwoody, but Will already has a game. That would’ve been fun.

The results of the AJC poll on what the Braves should do were funny…overwhelmingly in favor of bringing in the best players possible. JS couldn’t say how much cheaper it is to develop players in the Dominican than here. Baseball in the USA appears to becoming a rich man’s game. If you don’t pay thousands to play travel ball you’ll never make the high school team. MLB is making token efforts to bring baseball to the inner city, but those leagues will produce few, if any, big leaguers. The one black boy on Will’s travel team may be a good football player, but is way too mechanical in baseball…at the plate, on the mound, and in the field. But he definitely has the family support.

Everyone is panicking about Chuck James, except Dave O’Brien. Hopefully/probably this slump is just a bump along the way. Yes, this appears to be a down year for many in the NL. Since Andruw doesn’t like talk of moving him from the cleanup position, Cox will probably leave him there, considering it’s early May and we’re high in the standings.

High Strike


Will on the mound, Andrew catching.

May 5th Win

What was nice about Saturday’s 14 – 10 victory over the Smyrna Nationals was the way we won: coming back every inning to regain the lead, lending our opponents a 9th fielder, having 12 of our 13 players score runs, executing squeeze bunts, etc. We would’ve won by more had we let them play with only two outfielders!

David pitched a scoreless first inning, striking out two. Then second-baseman Thomas patiently stuck with a ground ball and threw to Josiah at first to end the inning.

Corey led off our side with a fly ball over right-fielder Christian’s head, and Corey hustled to second, then took third on a wild pitch. Will walked, then Andrew singled to right, driving in Corey and sending Will to third. Andrew stole second and advanced to third as Will scored on a wild pitch. After David popped out on a 2-2 pitch, Jake’s sacrifice fly to center plated Andrew.

Exciting defensive play in the top of the second. The second batter blooped a single to right. Christian charged the ball and fired to cutoff man Will, who wheeled and fired to third-baseman Joey, who easily tagged out the runner from first…the exact play Joey had practiced Thursday night! Smyrna continued to bloop hits just out of our reach and tied the game, but David struck out two more after the score was tied.

Russell lined a single to right to start a second inning rally. Right-fielder Jake’s throw to first was just late. Michael walked, then Joey belted the first pitch over the centerfielder’s head for a double, driving in Russell. The shortstop couldn’t handle Thomas’ grounder, and Michael scored. Josiah’s sharp grounder was nabbed by the pitcher, who forced Joey at third. Christian sliced a nice single to right. Jake fielded the ball and heard his Smyrna ‘teammates’ hollering to throw it home, so he hit the cutoff man (right?). The relay home nailed Thomas trying to score from second, though Thomas would’ve scored easily had there only been two outfielders.

The top of the third was similar to the top of the second…more seeing-eye hits. David struck out two more, and Josiah ended the inning by fielding a grounder and stepping on first base. David pitched three innings and struck out six batters, only allowing one hard hit ball.

Corey led off the third with a triple to right, and scored on Will’s single. Will stole second, then scored on Andrew’s base hit. Andrew took second on the throw home, and advanced to third when Jake beat out another infield grounder. Jake stole second on the first pitch, then Nick was hit with the second pitch…loading the bases. Curtis reached on a fielder’s choice, then Jake and Nick scored on wild pitches. Russell then singled to right again to drive home Curtis.

Curtis pitched the fourth inning and struck out the first and last batter he faced, and only allowed one opposite-field hit. Andrew made an amazing stop of a hard hit smash to third, and almost threw the batter out at first from a seated position. Will caught a tough fly ball behind Andrew for the other out.

With the score tied going to the bottom of the fourth, time was running short. Joey sliced a line drive to right, where Russell charged and made a valiant sliding attempt to catch the ball in the air to rob Joey of a hit. But the ball was tailing away from Russell, and it nicked off his glove. (I haven’t tracked it, but this could’ve moved Joey ahead of Russell in Batting Average!). Joey took second on a wild pitch, then Thomas and Josiah walked to load the bases. After Christian took a ball and strike, he bunted just out in front of the plate. Joey raced home to score the go-ahead run, and everyone was safe. Corey collected his third hit of the game, a single to right that drove in Thomas and Josiah. Will walked on four pitches and stole second. After a pitching change, Andrew hit a grounder and crossed first before Smyrna could make a play. This drove in Christian, and the game was called.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Nets & Other Friday Notes

I hate it that the goal doesn’t have a net. It’s hard to tell when I bought the thing, but it didn’t come with a rim with the standard net loops welded on…instead it had these cheap plastic clips that kept coming off and getting lost. I would tape them up there with duct tape, but they wouldn’t stay on. I need to get a new rim at least, if not a whole new goal. Will lowered the height so he could dunk, and I recently noticed it’s starting to break. Anna and Matthew will play occasionally.

As talented as Robin Williams is, I like him much better as an actor than for his comedy. We saw Night at the Museum, which was good. I was surprised that Mickey Rooney and Dick Van Dyke had major roles.

Seems like it was the regular packed crowd for Ramsey…not like an Easter crowd or anything. He does do a good job, and the way he speaks ‘Southern’ and is funny makes him easy to listen to. I’d been meaning to listen to hear him plug the appearance, but I only have been turning it on when it’s about time for him to go off and the Braves to come on. I'd like to go see Smoltz/Maddux, but I checked and Will has a Wednesday night game next week.

Listened to the book ‘Rich Dad/Poor Dad…What the rich teach their children, and the poor and middle class do not’ good read…a lot of truth to it. Had Will listen to some of it, and maybe we’ll go over it more.

Big discussion last night on Uni-Watch regarding the stirrups worn on the Simpsons various baseball episodes. Some readers quoted the lyrics to the Simpsons remake of the ‘Talkin Baseball’ song, discussing the exploits of the guest star in that episodes…Steve Sax, Strawberry, Clemens, etc.

Wild about Langerhans being traded again…this was also discussed at Uni-Watch. Evidently the Nats had long coveted Langerhans, but didn’t think the Braves would trade within their division. The guy the Nats traded to the A’s used to play for Seattle, who wouldn’t deal with Oakland. Attached is a picture of Langerhans playing for Oakland.

Will was selected for the leadership training program at his Living Science School, though he doesn’t know it yet. With more and more kids attending they have to be more selective, but he made the cut…along with Joel Norman and baseball teammate Andrew. Willis and David Norman are already leaders.

Wednesday Will, Anna, Matthew, and I play ball outside for a long time…the boys against Anna and me. Last night Matthew took some swings against the hitting stick. Hopefully he’ll have a strong finish.

Had a good, fun, and productive intersquad game last night. Got the guys to pitch and catch who usually don’t, and pitched Josiah an inning, after he had a shaky outing Tuesday. Only one dad was there to help, but it went fine. If I say that more and more of the guys are hitting then tomorrow the bats will go quiet, but throughout the year the bottom of the order has continued to be almost as productive as the top. Hopefully Will is getting some confidence back at the plate after his mini-slump.

The kids are going with friends to a field day today while Ceil goes down near the airport for a home school conference. Matthew has practice this afternoon, then we have small group. Three games tomorrow (2 W, one M), then Ceil and I are supposed to go out. Hopefully Sunday not much is going on. Should be a quiet day at work today.

Weekend Recap

I’ll have to borrow Will’s Ipod and check out more books from the library…the selection is greater than the limited CDs they have. I’ll start with The Millionaire Next Door. Anna is saving for a Nano…she figures she’ll have enough in a couple more months. Yesterday in Upstreet she filled out a sheet saying she wanted to live in NYC when she grew up and be a Broadway actress/dancer, living in a NYC rowhouse (and have 2 kids and drive a Mini Cooper). She didn’t want Ceil to see it, so she tore it up. Her beloved American Girl doll/store/franchise is having an open casting call this month to cast a girl in the next TV special, and Anna printed out the script. The casting is in NYC, LA, and Chicago, so I doubt we’ll make it. But maybe we can pursue something smaller, on a local scale. Bryan Coley seems to be developing scripts more than producing local plays.

Ceil heard that all the computers were stolen from the new Buckhead Church the day before the security system was installed. It appeared that “Fergie” video was shot on the roof of Buckhead Church. We arrived early yesterday because Ceil and Will were working in the 4-year old class, and when I entered the East Auditorium the front center section was nearly full…due to all the graduating seniors. The good looking guy who was joint-enrolled at Reinhart had attended Living Science with Will. Lanny used to host Kidstuf and is generally pretty funny, but he doesn’t hold a candle to Jon Williams, who you’d recognize as a zany character from several dramas.

Dave Ramsey was good, but I liked the last two years better. I couldn’t remember the point of everyone singing the Beverly Hillbillies theme. I sent Ceil and Will into the 11 am service for the introduction, and Anna and Matthew got to see the video. Kidstuf was also real funny yesterday, thanks to Jon Williams. I think NP sometimes goes overboard on days they expect lots of visitors, trying to be different from other churches. That’s when they drag out the hip hop.

Yesterday afternoon Ceil shopped for mother’s day presents. I did some laundry and wrote game recaps during the Braves game, and a snake Matthew discovered outside got away before I could kill it. Will cut a neighbor’s yard, we watched Tiger’s last few holes, and then Ceil and I at The Swallow in the Hollow in Roswell. Good BBQ but crowded and loud…they had a couple singing Jimmy Buffet, Bread, American Pie, etc.

Friday while Ceil was at a homeschool conference the kids went to a elementary school track meet, and Will got to talk to Evander Holyfield, who had a son competing. At practice Matthew complained other fielders were cutting in front of him to field a ball, then when he did it on a pop, the distracted shortstop was hit in the head. Then we had small group. Saturday night I took Will over to the Normans, and we rented ‘Facing the Giants,’ made by the big Baptist church down in Albany. Not bad for a film made by locals…several football scenes that didn’t look too fake. You know it wasn’t made by North Point. Mark Richt’s reaction shots during the championship game were priceless, and he is interviewed on the extra features of the DVD. Of course it was interesting to me because one of the main plot lines revolved around the kicker.

I need to do a better job with goals…lately I’ve been blaming baseball on not getting much of anything else done. We’ll be at the park every day this week, through Saturday.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Will's May 5th Afternoon Game

Saturday afternoon Will’s Titans held on to in 11 – 9, thanks in large part to Will’s catching. He blocked numerous balls in the dirt, and threw out three base-stealers…two at far-away second base. Will reached base three times, stole a base, and scored two runs.

Throwing out base-stealers requires teamwork: the pitcher must do a good job keeping the runner from getting a big jump (and deliver an accurate pitch), the catcher has to make a strong, quick, accurate throw (after catching the pitch), and the infielder must catch the ball and apply the tag.

In the second inning West Forsyth’s best baserunner Justin stole second. Will made a strong throw, but it was just on the third-base side of the bag. Then the runner stole third. Will’s throw beat the runner, but the third-baseman didn’t make the catch. The next inning Justin stole second. Will’s throw had him, but the shortstop dropped the ball. But when the runner tried to steal third, Will’s throw beat him by three steps, and the third-baseman easily tagged him out. Then in the sixth Will threw Justin out trying to steal second.

Will also threw out another base-stealer at second base, in the second inning. Remarkably, of the twenty West Forsyth batters that reached base, there were only two other stolen bases in the game.

Offensively Will was one of two Titans to reach base three times. Batting cleanup, he was stranded in the first. In the third Will’s grounder rolled under the shortstop’s glove into short leftfield. The second-baseman ran out to retrieve the ball, and when the shortstop failed to cover second, Will hustled all the way, sliding safely in to second headfirst. He took third on a wild pitch, and scored when the pitcher’s pickoff attempt rolled away from the third-baseman.

In the fifth Will walked and stole second. Bryce then hit a slow roller to short, and Will took off on the swing, ran in front of the ball, and was safe at second. He then scored on a single.

Matthew's Big May 5th Game

Matthew had a big 10:30 game as well. He fielded the pitcher position for the first time this year and did great, quickly pouncing on two grounders and firing to first. Hid first throw was caught at first by Josh for the out, but the next inning Cade wasn’t ready, and he dropped the throw.

Matthew also made a nice play in the outfield. When his teammate misplayed the ball, Matthew backed him up, scooped up the ball, and made a long throw across the field to second base, holding the batter at first.

Batting he went 2 for 3, beating out an infield hit, and also lined a single into centerfield.

Catch at Short


Will's First May 5th Game

Will’s teams both won home games Saturday. We got a decent amount of rain Friday night, but the field was in reasonably good shape. In the morning game Will played shortstop the entire game, but only saw two balls. In the second our rightfielder Christian fielded a base hit and fired to cutoff man Will, who turned and threw to Joey, playing his first inning at third base all year. The throw beat the running to third, and Joey applied the tag for the out.

In the fourth inning third-baseman Andrew was having a tough time tracking a pop fly, so Will stepped in to make the catch. Later a pitch bounced away from catcher David, and the runner seemed to have an easy extra base, and didn’t slide. David threw to Will at second, and Will’s only chance for the out was to slap a tag on the runner as quickly as possible. Had he held on to the ball, they would’ve had the out.

At the plate Will reached all three times, on a hit and two walks. He scored twice and knocked in Corey with his hit. In the first Will walked on four pitches, and raced to third on Andrew’s hit. He then scored on a wild pitch.

In the third Will singled home Corey, and stole second base. He scored from second on Andrew’s single. Will walked again with two out in the fourth, then stole second, but Andrew grounded out to end the inning.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Catching


Meet the Warriors

Here they are in a typical batting order, with my preferred positions. Interesting the number of home schoolers on the team…

COREY (CF, C, 1B)…batted leadoff last spring. I think football has improved his baseball…he goes at it aggressively and full speed, which gives him a leg up on most teammates and competitors. That’s what makes him a good centerfielder, though he catches and can play any infield position. He struggles throwing strikes, or he would pitch more. Parents work at Lockheed and went to Tech, dad takes great pictures at the games.

WILL (SS, P, C)…bats second to get him up to the plate as often as possible, with 14 teammates. I try to play him as much as possible at shortstop to give him experience. Other coaches always have him pitching or catching, but that takes away from the defense…and this way others get to pitch and catch. Home-schooled.

CLAY (1B, C, P, SS)…has also improved since I last got to see him play, and football has made him aggressive. His pitching has improved…he is best at relieving. Clay hits the ball hard and runs full speed. A good catcher who can also play first, third, or short. His dad is the assistant coach…Will’s longtime head coach. Home-schooled, at least in the past.

ANDREW (3B, C)…worked his way up the order by being productive. He hits the ball hard...even on bad pitches. A smart but slow baserunner, if he reaches base I often invoke the “pinch-runner for the catcher” rule…changing my plans so he will catch the next inning. He struggled at first early in the season, but I was pleased when he flourished at third. Dad keeps score for me, mom teaches at Living Science. Home-schooled.

JAKE (3B, CF)…fastest on the team, but doesn’t slide or want to bat higher in the order. He’s always smiling and hustling, and enjoys playing second and outfield, “where I can run.” He plays third because of his stronger arm and our surplus of second-baseman. Jake beats out infield grounders and takes bases two at a time. Dad helps coach and was Matthew’s coach last spring.

DAVID (P, C, SS)…the funny, tall, long-legged, big-footed younger brother of Willie, son of Campbell JV coach Henry, who helps when he can. David is a fine pitcher and knows the game well, backing up when he’s supposed to, etc. Besides Will, the only pitcher I’d bring in to pitch out of a mid-inning jam. A very able catcher and serviceable shortstop who puts the ball in play most of the time. Home-schooled.

NICK (P, 3B, 1B, CF)…the team lefty. Hasn’t played enough to do things without thinking, but he has a pretty swing and isn’t afraid. He gets on base and scores runs, and has done well at first, third, and outfield. He throws a hard, tailing pitch and was just starting to shine on the mound when he came down with a sore arm.

CURTIS (CF, SS, 3B, 1B, P)…has played with Will for years and is another fearless player, but quiet. “Curty” is one of the best fielders on the team, playing mainly center and short, and some first and third. He is known for his patented diving catches in the outfield, which puts a pleased look on his face. He was the main pitcher last fall, but has struggled with his control this year. Aggressive at the plate, Curtis has had several clutch RBI hits this spring.

RUSSELL (2B, 1B, OF)…older, smaller, and scrappy, often away performing his Boy Scout leadership duties. He can play all nine positions…when I needed a reliable first-baseman who would catch the ball, I thought ‘why not Russell?’ and he filled the bill. Henry batted him leadoff last fall, and lately Russell has worked hard to improve his hitting. He begs me to pitch, but was hit hard in his two outings. Home-schooled.

MICHAEL (2B, 3B, OF)…comes from a baseball family. His dad coaches his younger brother and is a big help to me, so Michael is usually found at the field. Possessor of the team’s best knuckleball, I let him pitch for what I later learned was his first time ever. He threw strikes and did well. He also knows what to do with the bat, and has had some big hits, including a few doubles. Not the fastest runner, Michael can play second and third, in addition to outfield.

JOEY (RF)…has already taken classes at Georgia Tech. Though not the best athlete, he always knows what to do. A bad ball hitter, when he connects, look out. He has hit several balls over the centerfielder’s head. His dad played a lot of baseball and is a big help at practice and coaching bases.

THOMAS (RF, 2B)…the new kid, but has fit in well. I’m told he’s never played baseball before, but he has made some plays and gotten some hits, due to his athletism…despite a tricky knee. He has come through at second base, and has almost thrown out some runners at first from right field. Has pitched in inter-squad games, but he figures he’s not quite ready for a game.

JOSIAH (P, 1B, OF)…only pitched once last fall and has a mechanical delivery, but this spring has had several good outings. When he pitches we can put our best fielders behind him, even with six on the bench. Though not the best hitter, Josiah has improved. His on base percentage is high due to his good eye, and though not fast, he is very comfortable, attentive, and knowledgeable baserunner. He likes to play first, which is a good fit, but can also play third. His attention to detail and black & white personality would serve him well as an accountant. His dad has been a missionary, and is a big help in the dugout and coaching bases. Home-schooled, at least in the past.

CHRISTIAN (2B, 1B, LF, 3B)…has the best attitude, but is sometimes crushed when things don’t work out. I’ll put him at any of the nine positions. He hasn’t has his turn pitching yet, but should get the chance before the season ends. Henry batted him second last fall and put him in prime fielding positions at a young age, but Christian wasn’t afraid to try. His hitting should improve as he grows.

JOHN FULTON (2B, CF)…also comes from a baseball family…his dad coaches and has three sisters playing. His small stature means nothing, as he is aggressive at the plate (I wish he would lay off the pitches at his eyes, and his OBP would be higher). I will play him in center and second. But his pitches come in slow and inviting, and batters gear up and swing hard…while gravity overtakes the ball. He went four innings in one game.