Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Six Straight Strikeouts

Will’s “mugging” was fun Monday night…a rite of passage/time of encouragement for those turning sixteen, at Living Science. Spoke with Hurt…he’s deep into the Braves playoff race. The fathers had to speak, so I spent a good part of the day writing and polishing what I would say. Also had more ideas on the drive there, as well as during the evening. We were the last to leave, and we didn’t get home until after ten.

Yesterday after work I drove to Will’s game. They started extra early. Will was pitching to the first batter as I drove up. Ceil was in the car, having not realized the game had started.

After a leadoff walk (he started off with 2 strikes and lost him), 3B Tanner started an around the horn DP. David Bartlett, Coach Henry’s youngest, blooped a hit to right…then Will struck out six straight. That was no big feat, based on the talent level of the opponent, though I always told Will he should throw strikes against weaker batters. When he got to forty pitches (41 actually) they took him out, in mid-inning. Tanner promptly struck out the next batter, to extend the streak to seven.

Will’s line: 2-2/3 IP, 9 BF, 6 K’s, one BB, one hit…29 strikes, 12 balls.

Crown won 7 – 1…seven different players scored. Five of the runs were unearned. Will scored on a passed ball. He caught two innings, and finished the game at shortstop. Flame-throwing Chris pitched the last inning. With games scheduled for Thursday and Friday, I don’t know why the coaches didn’t try out more pitchers in the easy game.

Picked up Anna at ballet after the game, so it was another night not getting home until 9:45. More of the same tonight and Thursday.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hiking With Steve Norman

I’ll tell a story that I might’ve told some of you before. I’m not even sure Ceil or Becky knows about this. In the late 90’s we went with the Normans up to Ridgecrest North Carolina. Our old church has a lodge up there, and we would go up for long weekends in the fall. I don’t think the Hurts were on this trip. Joel’s dad Steve would lead us out on these long hikes. We had been doing this forever, even back in the mid-80’s, before I met Ceil. We would hike and climb and cross creeks and get wet and dirty. In July of 1996 he had Ceil, eight months pregnant with Anna, tramping through the woods.

Once we were next to a waterfall. Steve was 50 feet above me. All of a sudden all I could hear was Steve screaming “Bees! Bees!” It had taken us forever to climb that far, but we got down real quick. The amazing thing about these hikes was the return trip - you had gone so deep in the woods that without Steve, there was no way you’d ever make it out without him.

So this was Will’s first big hike at Ridgecrest. He was five or six. All the Norman boys, even tiny Charles, had gone on these hikes before. They knew how to keep up, how to get back. Will didn’t. We finally reached the top of the mountain, which gave a great late-afternoon view of North Carolina’s tallest mountain. Looking at our watches, we knew we needed to hurry back to the cars before dark.

Spencer, Willis, and David took off, followed by Joel, Will, and little Charles (who might’ve still been in diapers). Steve and I walked behind. My fears were soon realized…Will had missed a turn, and was running around in the darkening woods alone. It was only by God’s grace that I found him, but that ten minutes seemed like an eternity.

My Comments at Will's Mugging

FUN FACT: On my desk at work sit two mugs…got both of them in high school. I won’t say how long ago that was.

Thank you all for coming today. This means a lot to Will. Means a lot to Ceil and me as well. God has blessed us so much today…even though I’m kinda sticky in this heat.

If I could write a letter to myself when I was 16, I would tell myself that I should be like Will Murphy. Not for the things that you have done, but for who you are…the young man that you are becoming, sometimes in spite of me.

Will, I can see a lot of myself in you, both good and bad. As a father I certainly haven’t always been the greatest example. I pray that you, like me, will let God work in your life and mold you, to enhance the good and do away with the bad. Many times I can see you choosing better ways than my poor example, and for that I am thankful.

Reminds me of something on TV last night. You may have seen it as well. If so, I am sorry…please keep quiet! A dad was talking to his sons. Like many fathers on TV these days, this dad is not portrayed in the nicest of terms…hopefully no one sees me like him.

After sharing good news, the father shouted “Five second dance party!” and started dancing. The cool sons did not join in. At the end of the show something good happened, and one of the sons exclaimed “Five second dance party!” and started to dance. Then he walked away, saying “I’m becoming my father.” (I see familiar nods from two or three girls, including Haley).

Where I am cautious and quiet, Will is outgoing. Mr. D reminds me that I didn’t say anything on the first two Expeditions I went on. I finally came out of my shell on the last two Senior Retreats. It is great that God made Will the way he did. It does drive me crazy to see a video of him jumping into the Chattahoochee on a bicycle. Dad, Joel, Charles, everyone was doing it! Will, who did it first? Will (smiling proudly): I did! Here’s a picture of Will jumping into a pool, OVER a friend on a raft. Note it’s the shallow end of the pool. Don’t ever lose that, Will. God will use that boldness for His glory.

Like me, sometimes I see Will feeling like he’s gotten the short end of the stick. Life isn’t fair. I pray he will see all the great things and fun things he’s able to do. That he will know his great help at home is such a blessing for Ceil and me. That his example so impacts Anna and Matthew.

Romans 12: 17-21 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with all men. Do not take revenge, my beloved, but instead leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “vengeance is mine, I will repay” says the Lord. But if you enemy is hungry, feed him, if he is thirsty, give him something to drink, for in so doing, you will heap burning goals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Think about whose name you can insert there for the word “enemy”…sometimes your best friend, a parent, or a sister or brother.

Being an example here at Living Science, on the baseball field, in the dugout. It’s not the great catch or big hit or the hustle, but even more what I’ve seen Will do in baseball, & DJ and Kara in basketball…something y’all wouldn’t make a big deal about: compassion for an overmatched opponent. Up 30 points, they may let an opponent get off a shot, as opposed to blocking or stealing the ball. (Joel still goes for the block!).

The first two verses of that same chapter say…Romans 12:1-2 I urge you therefore brothers by the mercy of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, acceptable to God, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you will be able to prove what the will of God is: that what is good, acceptable, and right.

Will has some of this down already…hopefully most of you do. Will, I encourage you to not be content with where you are, but always keep reaching and growing, taking the next step.

(Next I tell the Steve Norman hiking story. Becky moves forward to hear every word).

As a parent, I must continually give Will up to God…he is not mine, but God’s. Now at 16, this lesson is all the more meaningful to me. I pray for God’s protection, moreover, that God will use Will for great and mighty works.

One of the great things that happens at Living Science is when parents get to come in to watch the presentations, and encourage and pray for their child. But it’s even more meaningful for the students when an older servant leader does the encouraging, because they speak the same language. Try as I might, being older, that’s something I just can’t replicate. So Will, in the language of your peers, you are awesome!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Eddie Matthews

Few remember when the Braves wore huge red names on the jerseys, in the early sixties. Long ago I had a paperback showing Braves baseball cards year by year...that's where I noticed them. Not a fan of the tiny numbers, but I love the names...also worn big by the Big Red Machine, the Go-Go Sox, and the Tigers. Love the striped stirrups as well.

Down by the River

My usual route to work was blocked this week, due to the floods...Azalea. Photo taken from Roswell Road, near the Chattahoochee Bridge.

Sloppy Win

Will's Crown team beat the "Acworth Six" 3-2 last night. Acworth only had six players, so we provided the outfield.

Top One: Leadoff batter reaches on an error, then scores on a two-out hit, just out of SS Will's reach. All five Acworth batters should've been put out.

Bottom One: Batting leadoff, Will slugged the second pitch over the leftfielder's head for a double. Had he not hit it off the handle, it could've gone out. He continued to third as the throw in rolled away, then watched as Nathan and Tanner struck out. But Chris cracked a ground-rule RBI double, and Matthew singled Chris in. Michael grounded out pitcher to first.

Top Two: Starting pitcher Chris walked the bases full. He struck out a batter before Will was brought in to face the big cleanup hitter. After throwing three straight balls, Will threw three strikes...two out. First-baseman Michael went to his right to field the next batter's chopper, and he flipped to Will covering first. Crown survives a bases-loaded no-out situation, without allowing a run.

Bottom Two: With two out and a Crown runner on third, the pickoff throw only goes a short distance away as John dives back to the bag. John hears his manager across the field in the first-base dugout shout "Go!" - and is easily thrown out at home. No report on what the nearby third-base coach was saying. (in the next inning, the first three Crown batters reach base).

Top Three: Typical Will pitching: Walk, strikeout (the leadoff hitter's only time not reaching base), and walk. Next hitter flies out to right, and RF Michael doubles off the novice runner from second to end the inning. Totals: 29 pitches: 16 balls, 12 strikes, no hits or runs...5 batters faced, 2 walks and 2 strikeouts.

Bottom Three: Four pitch walk and a double puts two in scoring position. After a conference on the mound, Will doesn't see a strike. I was thinking he could poke an outside pitch to the right side to drive in a run, but ball four is high and tight. Bases loaded, no out. Nathan hits it to the pitcher's left, but the hurler tracks it down and gets the force at home. Then Tanner hits into a 1-2-3 double play. No runs score.

Top Four, Tanner pitching, Will catching. A high fly ball should've been caught, but it drops between four infielders. A two-out double, the throw in is dropped by the shortstop (Will could've thrown out the runner at home). Throw goes home anyway, and the batter races for third. With plenty of time, Will throws him out by ten feet.

Bottom Four: Matthew gets another single to right, takes second on an error, third on Michael's groundout, and scores on John's second single to center. John barely steals second, and takes third on a wild pitch. Charlie V walks, but gets picked off first. In the rundown John breaks for home and draws the throw, but can't survive the 1-3-2-5-1-6 rundown.

Bottom Five: Up 3-2 as the sun sets, Crown gets a final at bat. Walk. Caught Stealing. Walk. Stolen Base! But on a wild pitch, Charlie W gets a late start to third. No action from the third-base coach, and poor Charlie is out by a mile. Walk. Pickoff throw rolls away...don't run! He does...and barely makes it! Will...hit the ball! Two balls, then he gets hit in the neck. Next batter. The pitcher turns and picks the runner off second. Four baserunners and three outs...without the ball being put in play.

Crown reaches base 14 times in 23 plate appearances in five innings, and only scores three runs. I knew it was going to be a long season!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Baseball Jerseys

Astros Nolan Ryan 34, the old peach melba home uni.

Braves Warren Spahn 21 1963 road, with the huge red name on back

Brewers Robin Yount 19, light blue with yellow trim.

Cardinals Stan Musial 6…road grey.

Cubs Ernie Banks home white, from early in his career.

Diamondbacks Randy Johnson 51 home

Dodgers Jackie Robinson 42 road grey

Expos Rusty Staub light blue road

Giants Willie Mays 24 road grey

Marlins Josh Beckett black road

Mets Tom Seaver 41 road grey

Nationals Alfonso Soriano 13 home white

Padres Tony Gwynn 19 road brown, with yellow sleeves

Pirates Roberto Clemente 21…road grey

Phillies Robin Roberts home white

Reds Dave Conception 13 home, with huge name on back

Rockies Todd Helton road grey

Angels Nolan Ryan 34 road grey

Athletics Reggie Jackson 9 yellow vest

Blue Jays Fred McGriff 27 light blue road

Browns Eddie Gaedel 1/8

Indians Bob Feller road grey

Mariners Ken Griffey Jr 24 road grey

Orioles Brooks Robinson 5 road grey

Pilots Jim Bouton light blue with yellow trim

Rangers Billy Martin 1 light blue road

Rays Fred McGriff 27 road

Red Sox Ted Williams 9 home

Royals George Brett 5 light blue road

Senators Ted Williams 9 road grey

Tigers Mark Fidrich home

Twins Rod Carew light blue road

White Sox Joe Jackson home

Yankees Babe Ruth 3 home


Know of three couples hit pretty hard by the flood, who live down in the Vinings/Paces Ferry area. Two parents of youth group kids we worked with years ago…one the blogger formerly from Saipan. The fellow in the boat on, who lost his new Jaguar at his Paces Manor house is the cousin of our CEO. He runs a company that cuts parts for us.

Our creek rose higher than we’d ever seen it, but it floods over on the other side of the creek. Lots of mud over there, that will soon be covered with leaves from the trees. My neighbor was down by the creek Monday evening, with this 8 year-old daughter and a neighbor boy. Didn’t think it the best idea…15 minutes later I heard a large branch or tree fall, in the same area.

Becky reminded us that Tuesday would have been Steve Norman’s 57th birthday. I posted the funeral remarks from Steve’s funeral on my blog…a pretty funny speech. Will was over playing football with David, Joel, and former basketball teammates DJ, Isaac, and Josiah. Will’s game was rained out…we’ll see about the Thursday game.

Matthew found a lost dog Tuesday, and made all these plans, including lost dog posters, and what he’d do with the dog if nobody claimed him. An hour or two later the owner showed up.

Funny that Oudin was at the Braves game Saturday and the Falcons game Sunday. Lang’s parents are going on a cruise down the Danube River.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Happy Birthday, Steve Norman

Becky reminded us that today would have been Steve's 57th birthday. Fred O also remembered, and posted a link to his blog. He published his remarks from Steve's funeral, which I republish here:

For those who did not have the pleasure of knowing my friend Steve, I am including a portion of the remarks that I made at his funeral three years ago. I think it will give you a flavor of his uniqueness. This is from the funeral of March 3, 2005, after his death on March 1:

Steve is the most brilliant person I have ever known. He could figure out and fix anything, whether it was schoolwork, or computers, or cars, or something around the house. How ironic it is that this “beautiful mind” he possessed betrayed him in the last years. I had always thought I was smart until I saw Steve come up with unique ways of looking at problems and finding solutions. He proved himself as brilliant, not only in his schoolwork or in rigging up little inventions around the apartment or the house, but in other areas as well. We both liked puzzles like the Jumble. I would often be working on it and was normally pretty good. But I almost always had to write down the letters to get the answer. It always unnerved me a little when Steve would look at the Jumble over my shoulder. While I was writing combinations of letters down, hoping I would hit something familiar, Steve would in his head get all the words and the puzzle and then say, “That’s pretty cute.” We also have had a good time with the Car Talk puzzlers over the years. Steve had a wonderfully nimble mind.

Steve’s genius was confirmed in his idiosyncrasies. He was, in some ways, the “absent-minded professor.” One day while living on campus at Tech, he drove his old Mustang to the Student Center to pick up his mail. He got distracted talking to some folks and walked back to the dorm. The next morning he got up but couldn’t find his car—and it didn’t occur to him that it was at the Student Center. So, he called the police to report his car missing. He found it himself a few weeks later—happened to walk by it and finally remembered. Jim Haskell wonders why he would think the Mustang was stolen. Who would take it? This is the car that, when Steve would take a sharp left hand turn, the passenger door would fly wide open. Now, why didn’t he fix that? I think it was because it served a dual purpose on dates: if he liked the girl, it gave him an excuse to reach out and grab her. If he didn’t like her, well, it gave him an easy way to get rid of her.

Let me say one more thing about his brilliance. It went beyond mere computing power. Steve was brilliant because he knew his limits. One Saturday a bunch of us were at the old gym here at Second-Ponce, playing basketball. Steve was, as usual, playing in the middle, mixing it up with the other “big guys” while the little guys like me were staying safely outside. Apparently it got rather heated inside—a few elbows flew and words were exchanged. Finally Steve walked off the court and sat on the bench. He said, “I quit,” and nothing more. At first, some of us were thinking, “Come on, you’re a Christian; you can handle it. Without you we don’t have an even number of people.” I know, because those are the kinds of things we began to say to try to get him to come back and play. After a few moments of listening in silence, Steve finally spoke. “If I stay out there, I know I’m going to lose my cool. I don’t want to do that, so it’s better for me to take myself out and calm down over here.” We had thought Steve immature for quitting; his answer showed he was the one being mature. He knew that his limit had been reached. He knew the temptation that lay before him. He knew that God counsels us to get ourselves out of temptation’s way, to flee from it. He reminded me in that moment that many times we should remove ourselves from difficult circumstances instead of staying in them, that the “way of escape” often involves taking just the kind of action that Steve did that day.

Yes, Steve was brilliant, but not everybody knew that. That’s because he often kept it well-hidden behind a unique sense of humor. I know that others would have more colorful descriptions of his humor, but since I shared it in every way, I think unique will suffice.

This sense of humor is well illustrated in one of his famous escapades with Linn Acuff. In college days, they were headed to Florida for a vacation, and they were going to meet up with Cindy—Lin’s wife, who he was dating at the time—and some friends in Cedartown. Steve and Lin plotted an elaborate hoax. Lin was to pull up his car in a parking lot where he was to meet Cindy and her friends. Lin would step away from the car but leave the keys in the ignition. Steve, who would be let off a block early, would disguise himself by putting on an old wig they had found, run to the car, hop in, crank it up, and take off. Lin would give chase in Cindy’s car. The plan called for them to turn off on a county road. Steve would stop the car by the side of the road and flee. Lin would give chase and catch him. They would tumble out of sight. Finally, Lin would emerge alone back to the car filled with frightened girls. When they asked the inevitable, “What happened?” Lin was to raise the wig he had taken from Steve’s head during the fight and say, “I scalped him.” And it would have worked, too—except for one thing. An alert Cedartown citizen witnessed the car theft and notified police. So, instead of two cars in the ensuing chase, there were three—and one of them had lights and sirens.

Steve had a lot of humorous adventures in his life, but I think he went on these adventures, not as much for the adventures themselves as for their story value. Steve loved more than anything else to tell stories. And if they happened to be true, so much the better.I met Steve 30 years ago. He was 22, and I was 18. He was, of course, already bald on top at that age. One day I made the mistake of asking him why he was bald so early in life. “You’ve never heard this story?” he asked. “Well, I use to smoke cigars, and one day I was reading the newspaper, and my cigar fell out of my mouth and caught the newspaper on fire, and my hair was burned off and never grew back.” I bit: “Why didn’t you throw the newspaper down and run?” Steve said, “Well, I couldn’t get out my crib.”

I wish I had time to explain and tell you the Dog Joke—but Steve never let me tell it. I had to supply the laughter so people would think there was something funny in it and wonder why they couldn’t get the joke. Of course, they would often laugh, pretending they got the joke that wasn’t there. Or to tell you about Steve’s game called, “Name a State” or to tell you the true facts of the time we saved a man from floating off into space that turned into another wonderful story or about the ceramic owl that Bill Hunkin once made me that our families have surreptitiously smuggled to one another over the years. I wanted to put it in the casket, but someone said, “You’d really be surprised to see how Steve would get it back to you, then, wouldn’t you?”

Steve was brilliant, yes. And he certainly possessed a unique sense of humor. But his life is even more defined by the loves of his life.

Steve was a man who loved his family. Becky, Steve had dated many girls before he dated you. But he knew quickly that you were the one with whom he wanted to spend his life. So he pursued you and caught you. And he has always been glad for that. In the last couple of years, as Steve’s behavior changed but we didn’t know why and there was frustration and Steve and I spent extra time together, he told me that he wanted to do anything that would make him the husband you wanted. He loved you so much.

Children, how he loved you! What a great concept he and your mother came up with that he would take a trip with each of you at age 10. I know that those of you who got to take the trip were blessed. Remember and cherish that time forever. For those who did not—just know that your dad wanted so much to share that time with you. And several of us have been inspired to do the same with our families. Getting a late start, I do it at age 13. In Elizabeth Musser’s e-mail in memory of Steve, which many of you have read and all of you should, she mentions how they too have been inspired by the example set by Steve for trips with the children. My, how he loved you. Let me encourage you, as you face life without the physical presence of you father, to draw even closer together as a family. As you have drawn together in his sickness, let that continue in the months and years ahead. Remember the words of the Scripture:“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity.” You will honor your earthly father and your Heavenly Father as you put this into practice.

Steve not only loved his family.
Steve also loved the Lord Jesus and His church.

Yes, Steve loved Jesus, and he was what there are too few of in the world, in my estimation. He was an intellectual Christian. He didn’t just love Jesus with all his heart, all his soul, and all his strength. He loved him with all his mind. He liked to grapple with issues of faith. And he liked to help others grapple with those issues, too, whether it was through leading a Bible study or Sunday School class or simply engaging someone in conversation about the implications of what we say we believe. Steve didn’t want to have a faith that amounted to nothing more than window dressing. He possessed a faith that animated who he was and everything he did. He believed Jesus when He said, “I have come that you might have life, and might have it more abundantly.” Steve loved life. He loved his family. He loved His Lord. He loved this church and has been committed to her ministry through the past 30 years. And he died, by my reckoning, at least 30 years too soon.

When we learned of the Pick’s Disease, we didn’t know much about it. The one thing that we knew frightened us: it makes people less inhibited. Or, disinhibited, as Steve said it. Steve Norman, never possessing much inhibition to start with, was going to be less so? But we saw that happen. And many other things. We saw obsessions with washing and clothing and such things. I took him for a walk in the park near his house a few months back. He got tired and asked me to go get the van. When I got back, I couldn’t find him. I ran around asking people if they had seen a guy with a walker. No one had. I finally found him. In the park, there is a water treatment plant surrounded by a 6 foot iron fence and gate. I noticed Steve up in the air, straddling the top of the gate, with his walker hanging on the gate. He got it in his mind that he need to be on the other side of the gate and tried to climb over, but he couldn’t do it himself. And as I was taking him to a Tech game in the fall, as we were driving down Roswell Road near Buckhead, Steve kept unbuckling his seat belt and opening the car door as we were driving 40 miles an hour. And if I saw these things in my infrequent visits, how much more the family struggled day by day.

We knew that, barring a miracle, death would be the end result of this disease. It has come, and it has taken all of us by surprise at its suddenness. Death remains a great mystery. As Nurse Margaret Houlihan said in a M*A*S*H episode many years ago, “I’ve seen it many times, but I still don’t understand it. One minute you’re alive. The next minute you’re dead.” While all of us are sad and death is frightening to most of us, I think we will be able to say that in this case, death has come as a friend. None of us wanted to see Steve suffer and not be able to live the life he loved so much living. He has been spared that.

But death cannot be a friend by removing physical suffering alone. Death can only be a friend when we are confident of what comes after death and that we see that as good. While none of us has been able to die and come back to report what it is like on the other side, we have One who has—our Lord Jesus Christ. And this One, who would never lie to us, even to make us feel better, said,“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He also said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.” [John 14.1-6; 11.25]

Death does not write the final chapter of life. Steve has a strong faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and he is there with Him today. And those of us who share that faith in Jesus Christ will see him again. How we look forward to that day.

Let me close by making one last observation. True to God’s promise that He causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, I want to point out that there have been some hidden blessings that have come out of Steve’s illness. First, Becky, we have seen the body of Christ unite in a way that has been so encouraging to witness. While the body of Christ is often divided, we have seen the Spirit of God work in such a marvelous way as people have poured out their love to Steve and you, Becky, during this time. Your house is a tangible reminder of the strength and blessing of God. And, as funny as this may seem, there has even been a hidden blessing in the disinhibiting of Steve, at least to me personally. Several times in the past months, Steve has said, “Fred O., you’re my best friend.” And on one of my last times at the house as we sat around the kitchen table and I was rising to leave, Steve said something that I have long known but I had probably never heard. Steve looked up and said, “I love you, Fred O.”

I love you, too, Steve. We all do.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Under Bridges

Saturday Matthew’s class went out to feed and pray with the homeless. We met with a group that goes out every weekend, at the Cleveland Ave K-Mart. It was an adventure just getting there, through the rain and traffic. They took us out underneath bridges, first there at Cleveland Avenue, down at the Hapeville Exit, up to the 75/85/20 interchange near the capitol, then west to an I-20 bridge near where the downtown carriage horses are stabled. This was right in Ceil’s wheelhouse, and the kids weren’t hesitant to step in there either.

After a stop near the Dome, we ended up at a women’s shelter north of the river on South Atlanta Road. One homeless woman came with the group to the shelter. There we sat in on their daily “Bible Study” …a fiery sermonette by a black dude, complete with amens and banging on tables. From where I sat I couldn’t see our kids reaction. Then Matthew’s class went table to table, taking orders, getting the food, served the ladies, then finally bussed the tables. BBQ beef and chicken…I was dishing slaw. Nice to watch our kids selflessly serving, especially Matthew.

Afterward we went to Willies and Publix. Will watched the UGA game down the street with several friends. Sunday after church I was sick, and actually took a nap. Saw some of all three weekend Braves games, and some of UGA, the Falcons, and Cowboys.

Friday I worked a little late, then had the house to myself for a bit. C and M came home from the grocery. Later I picked up Anna at Molly’s, then headed out to LS to get Will. Baseball Saturday was a rainout…tomorrow’s game doesn’t look good. Thursday’s home game could be cancelled, since the infield is all dirt.

De-cluttering…we’re past due. We would move to be near Living Science. Seems like eastbound AM traffic from there isn’t fun, nor westbound in the afternoon. Bout like anywhere else, I guess.

I don’t Twitter, but follow Lang, Andy, and NP funnyman Lanny Donnehoo online. Andy and Lanny have humorous exchanges, most recently about a neighbor’s cat Andy anonymously sold Lanny on EBay. Friday Land had mentioned the Francoeur/Hanson/pinstripes quote I hadn’t seen anywhere else.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Tech Lays ANOTHER Egg

Was going to say yesterday that I didn’t have high hopes for the game. Unfortunately, I was right. Miami did a fine job on offense and defense…many had said they would be strong this year, and they appear to be.

While Nesbitt is a fine runner, he continually makes poor decisions running the option. The announcers pointed out his poor footwork and inability to focus on more than one receiver. Paul Johnson said he is a great competitor, but Nesbitt’s body language tells a different story. Johnson continues to support him, perhaps because he has no current alternatives. My man Jaybo isn’t the answer, but we’ll see if Johnson plays a freshman next year.

Dwyer is good, but perhaps his success last season had a lot to do with the system. All the running backs looked worse last night due to Nesbitt’s poor decisions and pitches.

The “great” defensive end (# 91) seems to be following in Michael Johnson’s footsteps from last year…he spent most of the night on the sidelines. The four defensive backs didn’t seem to want to cover anyone…they all wanted to play free safety. The Tech players seem to think they’re good, and that the other team should just roll over. They have played the same way for the last four games, dating back to the bowl…both Schultz and Bradley speak the truth today.

Many fans think it’s a one game blip. Guy here at work had thought beating Miami would be easy. Tech has been relying too much on the big play, waiting for the other team to make a mistake. They’ll be in big trouble against NC, FSU, Va Tech, UGA, and maybe Wake Forest. Humanitarian Bowl, here we come!

Looking forward to Florida / Tennessee this weekend, and the Falcons throwbacks.

Two rainouts for Will, and probably another tomorrow. Matthew actually has activity this weekend, perhaps all of us will go. Someone needs to stay home and clean house, and some need to study. Will has something at Science tonight…I’ll have to pick him up.

Nice the Braves are winning. Chipper sure is frustrated. I don’t see him having two straight years like this.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

More Practice

Ceil said that yesterday Matthew was wanting to get back outside and catch more fly balls. Instead we hung out at that college fair for a good while. Thankfully Will’s friend Spencer and his dad Jim were there, whose brother was manning the UAB table. Will also knew another guy representing a small Tennessee school, Bryan College. Matthew was happy we stopped at Little Caesars on the way home. I went to bed at 9:45, without checking on the Braves or Facebook, or Rowland’s or UniWatch…or posting to this blog.

Everyone’s got a lot going on, schoolwork, etc. Will and Anna and Ceil have figured out that they need to keep hacking away at the schoolwork on weekends. A bunch is due for every Wednesday, so to keep Tuesday nights less hectic they’re doing better at spacing it out. Everyone but me has had a cough, and I haven’t been feeling 100% either.

Matthew is the toughest, getting him to sit down and concentrate for extended time periods, even 10-15 minutes, has always been hard. Getting him to sit and eat has always been a chore, as well as some behavior issues. We’re working to improve things.

I enjoy the “Rock Opera” Kidstuf’s, where they tell the story in rewritten rock songs.

Retirement Planning

When I got home Monday, for some reason Matthew wanted to play baseball. Ceil said it was because he figured out ballplayers make lots of money, then retire young. Usually I bounce tennis balls and he hits them with a racket…instead we dug out an unused / new wood Lookouts bat. He hit ten, then said it was time to work on pitching and fielding. Matthew pitched for a while, then he was ready for popups. He said that eventually we would switch to baseballs. We stood in the street until dark playing catch. He was barefoot the whole time, and he finally stubbed his toe on the curb. Bleeding, he went inside and doctored himself. Supper was ready anyway.

Lang’s dad came into thousands of late 80’s / early 90’s baseball cards…a friend was closing shop and moving, and gave him all these cards. He’s giving me a bunch. Several were in a notebook. Doubt any are super valuable, but highlights include…Randy Johnson SEA, Bonds (PITT), Gwynn, Nolan Ryan (TEX?), Biggio, Bagwell, Jeter, Kruk (PHI), Yount, Maddux (CHI), Palmerio (TEX). No Braves. A Jeter rookie card…doesn’t even look like him.

Kidstuf. Sunday’s was just average. Jon is the funniest…he and his co-host Mike are the only holdovers from Bryan’s days. Matthew was diligent in his note-taking. Not as much music as usual Sunday.

Read Carroll Rogers today? Friday Dan Ackroyd is singing during the stretch. Saturday Melanie O throws out the first pitch.

Will’s game is cancelled, so I’m taking him to NP Mall, where a bunch of colleges have info tables set up. Anna’s best friend’s brother is a recruiter for UAB, and he’ll be there. On Sundays he plays bass at Redstone, a NP Church.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Prowlers Statistical Leaders

Games: 43 Mitch & Will, the only ones to play every game.

At Bats: 125 Audie, 124 Will

Hits: 47 Mitch & Will

Runs: 44 Jared, 42 Tyler, 40 Will

RBI: 37 Tyler (Will was 5th with 23)

Average: .517 Tyler, .388 Mitch, .379 Will

Plate Appearances: 147 Will

Times Reaching Base: 70 Will

On Base Percentage: .618 Tyler, .521 Ryan G, .476 Will

Slugging Percentage: 1.034 Tyler, .573 Jared, .548 Will

OB+SLG: 1.653 Tyler, 1.025 Will

Total Bases: 240 Will

Walks: 21 Tyler (Will was 4th with 17)

Strikeouts: Mitch struck out least, only 5.3% of PA.

Stolen Bases: 14 Mitch, 13 Will

SB%: 100% Parker (4-4), Will was 5th with 76%.

Sacrifices: 6 Jared

Hit By Pitch: 7 Ryan T, 6 Will & AJ

Doubles: 11 Jared (Will was 5th with 6)

Triples: 6 Tyler, 3 Will & Jared

Home Runs: 8 Tyler, 3 Will & Jared

Games Pitched: 17 Michael

Innings: 57-2/3 Mitch, 57 Michael

Strikeouts: 52 Mitch & Michael

Walks/Inning: 0.4 Mitch

Hits Allowed: 46 Michael

Runs/Inning: 0.40 Michael, 0.50 Mitch

Batters Faced: 265 Mitch, 244 Michael, 202 Ryan T

Batters/Inning: 4.3 Michael

% Strikes: 62% Mitch, 61% Durham

# Pitches: 895 Mitch, 887 Michael

Pitches/Inning: 15.2 Durham

Pitches/Batter: 3.1 Durham & Audie

Hit By Pitch: 8 Ryan T & Michael

Average Against: .220 Michael, .255 Tyler

On Base % Against: .332 Michael, .343 Mitch

Wins: 8 Michael, 5 Mitch, 3 Tyler & Durham

My Total Bases Stat includes all bases reached, regardless of how.

Any run is four total bases, a hit and SB is two.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Our host at Thursday night's Tech game. Former Tull employee, Gene was the sports editor of the Technique, and later president of the GT alumni association. He's had season tickets for 50 years. Probably had that hat for the same length of time. Wishbone pin is only 30 years old.

MJ's Speech: Not HOF Material

Friday night we watched the basketball HOF inductions. Enjoyed Jerry Sloan’s speech, but I was not impressed with Michael Jordan’s. I’ve always been his fan, but his speech was not at all humble or thankful…quite the opposite! Saw where several in the media had the same opinion.

Shaming Dean Smith for not including him on the SI cover as a freshman, as well as his high school coach for cutting him. He was making a point about fueling his competitive fires, but at some point things like that need to be put behind him…especially once he retired as the greatest ever. Charles Barkley could get away with that speech, but MJ should’ve been above it. Afterwards, several HOFers denounced the speech.

It appeared that Jordan took a date to the induction, a young girl who sat between his mother and his kids. Looked tense.

Saturday Will’s team beat Coach Henry’s team 5-1, as they should have. Will reached all three times, on a single, double, and error. Scored once, drove in two. Got thrown out at third, trying to take an extra base. A few of the younger guys looked like they could play, but they’ll be doing good to break .500.

Henry’s young starting pitcher struck out 7 in the first 2 innings, and had 9 K’s in the first three innings…facing 15 batters total. Will made an error at short, then made two nice defensive plays. Later Will talked the coach into letting him catch the last 2 innings.

Took Ceil to PF Chang’s Saturday night, then we poked around a few nearby stores. Saw most of the UGA / SC game. Seemed to miss Braves games all weekend. Took Matthew to Kidstuf Sunday, then to the 3-year old class he helps with.

Will worked me out in the afternoon. I hit him 2 buckets full of grounders, then pitched him 2 buckets as he hit. Knowing he will pitch this week, I stepped in and hit off him for a while. I was already exhausted, but I still got in a few good knocks. Beat squatting behind the plate and catching him, and I figured me in the box would help him ease off a bit, which is what he needs to do when pitching.

Tech / Clemson Recap

Gene got bumped by a Ringgold GT student on North Ave exit ramp, in the middle of traffic. Saw four people we knew: Kathy Arnold, and Jere & Mary Goldsmith. before the game, then Curt Swilley during. Gene’s friend Frank Maier had seen his grandfather a few years ago…could this be true?

Nesbitt’s passing abysmal…first 2 passes intercepted…repeatedly putting the GT defense back on field. GT defense holds, Clemson punts. Long TD run on first play, similar to last week. Clemson should’ve kicked long FG, instead pooches punt. Returner breaks 2 tackles, shifts gears, and goes the distance…14-0.

Kicker throws a TD pass. Great how that was set up, perfectly: Interception reviewed and overturned…during delay, Johnson sends offense back on field to “try” to draw Clemson off-sides, calls a TO, then as offense comes off field, the WR walks off, and stays a yard in bounds. Ten members of FG team line up…even when ball is snapped to kicker, Clemson thinks punt (though no deep man). Kicker Blair immediately throws to WR for easy TD. GT goes up 21-0. Today (Monday) I hear Paul Johnson speak of this on 790 AM.

Later FG makes score 24-0, but I know Clemson can also score on any play. They do…Spiller lines up at FB, then no one covers him on route out of backfield. He catches pass and goes the distance…while Ceil is off getting a Coke. Before the half, Erin Andrews yucks it up with Paul Johnson.

Second Half: Why throw on first down? Why throw on 2nd & long? Since Nesbitt isn’t good at passing or making decisions on the option, teams like Clemson take away the pitch and stuff Dwyer up the middle, leaving Nesbitt to take a beating. At least he’s wearing high tops.

Both teams repeatedly scored on big plays. Clemson had one good second half drive, then Tech had two…when they decided to keep the ball on the ground. It’ll be tough for Tech to have as good a year as last year.

Clemson has an easy schedule, with Miami and FSU the tough games. They still might find ways to lose 2 or 3 more. Will is trying to secure tickets to the FSU or UVA game.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tech Pregame

Going to the Tech game tonight. Ceil already has her game face on, she’s all stressed out. She’ll be upset if Clemson loses, which I don’t think is a forgone conclusion. Last week GT scored 37 points…14 on a punt return and a 79 yard run. Take those away and the score was 23-17, right? They did fumble 4 times, miss a FG and PAT, and play lots of reserves.

Clemson had a similar game…scoring on 2 long plays, plus an INT return to the red zone. Both QBs had similar stats, though Nesbitt is a more talented runner. The team that prevents the big plays will be in better shape to win. Hopefully GT will run the option over and over, and stay away from the pass. AJC says Clemson’s defensive coordinator is experienced, and could be up for the job. Could be a long year for Tech, if they keep playing like last week.

Will says that US Open girl attended Walker, a private school at Allgood and Hwy 41, near baseball. Before that she went to East Cobb Presbyterian’s K-8 school, where Will goes to youth group. We know several kids who go there, all younger than Melanie. (we still need to drag Claire & Andrew there…lot’s of young families). Saw where she trained at the Country Club of the South in Alpharetta, right?

Braves…one run in 9 innings won’t win many games! Besides the overworked bullpen, that lack of hitting has done us in for the last week. It appears that even the guys who are hitting aren’t getting clutch hits. Infante has cooled, McLouth is streaky, Chipper was due for an off year. My friend Mark Bradley was saying Cox was having an off year. Perhaps Cox is doing this so he can easier retire at the end of the year.

Saw the Dews program after last night’s game and laughed. He did things like get in that movie, something else I would do. I’ll have to look him up on Facebook. Too late to change my name from Mike Lum, which I use whenever I’m irate enough to post on any AJC topic.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Labor Day Weekend: GT & UGA Radio Review

Friday I worked late, just cleaning up old stuff.

Saturday I finished painting the outside of the playhouse, looks good…need to take pictures. While painting I listened to the Buck Belue pregame, the Tech pregame, the GT win, the UGA loss, and then the Braves until dark. GT and UGA are on that ISP Network, more corporate than local…less “home-team” commercials/flavor. Both ex-QB color men, Zeier and Strom, have zero personality (and Zeier does Budweiser commercials!). Strom sounds like he learned broadcasting at the feet of Jeff Van Note. Sounded like UGA couldn’t catch a break, but the announcers didn’t wail about it.

Comparatively, Wes Durham is great, working in lots of personal stories, but has to yuck it up with the sideline reporter. Tech changed back to the shiny gold rather than last year’s mustard yellow. Buck mentioned Chipper was making his way to the ESPN stage, so I went inside to catch his performance. Very knowledgeable, as the ESPN guys mentioned…”he brought a lot to the table”. Don’t know what his thing with turtlenecks is. Every time I flipped on the Braves this weekend they weren’t doing well, so I saw/heard more football.

Sunday AM I locked myself out of the house, without even the car keys. Couldn’t go to church, so I washed the car, worked in the yard, and took a nap. Later Will and I drove down to Macon…should’ve taken Matthew, but he had schoolwork to do.

Monday’s 10K race was OK, since it was straight through all my old stomping grounds. Both Will and I bettered our Peachtree times by just a little. We only did it because my dad entered us in the race. Will was 5th out of all the 16 year olds, and I was the 9th 50 year old, but that’s not saying much. Left my wallet in Macon.

Went to the Macon Chickfila with my parents, and a news crew interviewed me, Will, and my dad. We performed miserably and didn’t make the broadcast. My quote did appear in the internet article

Arrived home to find Ceil sick, so the rest of the day I was on my feet cleaning up. Monday night we went to Kroger at 6, then I dropped Ceil off at the Avenue, and picked up something at Trader Joes (that we forgot at Kroger) next to the Willys…must’ve been 6:45 or 7. The name of that shopping center is Pinestraw Plaza, because for years and years that land remained undeveloped, and people sold pine straw there.

Drove the kids to Living Science Tuesday AM so Ceil could sleep in.

That Marietta girl is something, isn’t she. Might have to learn her name.