Friday, April 30, 2010


Did I mention that Will’s co-teacher at NP, Kevin, has been writing long Facebook recaps about the Jekyll trip? Even Ceil has been reading them. Kevin reminds me of a young Andy Stanley, which I think he doesn’t like for me to say. He’s bright enough to reinvent something, like Andy has done with church. Plays soccer. His role in the skit was to teach, which he and Holt did quite well. Hard act for week two’s teachers (Alyssa and Christy) to match.

I didn’t know I was related to Ben Franklin…my dad just sent an email this morning. Supposedly we’re related to Thomas Jefferson as well. Just finished a book about Franklin ’s lightning rod. Back in his time people thought lightning was a way God punished people.

The new hires here at work have been in training all week, and we’ve been feasting on the lunch leftovers…BBQ, Jimmy Johns subs, and today pizza. Last night I had pizza, playing spades with the guys from small group.

Working late tonight due to month end. Hopefully tomorrow I can sleep late and clean house. We’ll go to dinner Saturday night. Will has his first East Cobb practice Sunday, and I need to do something with Matthew, who has been acting up. Been too busy to see much of the Braves, but Will and I did watch the recent Hawks loss.

Ever play StratOMatic? I may have only played a couple of times. Never had it as a kid, but I would’ve loved it.

Ben Franklin

Benjamin Franklin's son, William Franklin born 1730 (Governor of New Jersey),

His son, William Temple Franklin , born 1750.

His daughter, Sarah Franklin Cooper [wife of Joseph Cooper] born 1785.

Her son Temple Franklin Cooper, Born 1804 in South Carolina , Lawyer by Profession. Entered the Confederate Army March 4, 1862, as Captain of Company K, 52nd Regiment , Georgia Volunteer Infantry. Captured at Baker's Creek (Champion Hill), Mississippi , on May 16,1863. Died Prisoner of War at Johnson's Island , Ohio on February 2, 1864. Cause of Death-Erysipelas fever induced by vaccination. Buried Erie Cemetary ['F.' F. Cooper, Captain Company II, 52nd Georgia Inf'y, Grave #111]

His son, Willaim Arminius Cooper, born 12/17/1847-died 6/4/1926

His daughter, Mattie Lena Cooper McBath, born 12/17/1872-died 9/25/1905

He son, William Cecil McBath born 9/9/1897 died 1987; wife Isabel Wayt McBath

Their daughter, Marion Isabel McBath 7/5/1930 married William H. Murphy, Jr.

I am their son. Does that not make Ben Franklin my great great great great great great great grandfather?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Sickness

Found an interesting shirt at Goodwill that I couldn’t pass up, that still had the manufacturer’s tags on it. A button-front, collared “dress shirt. Blue front and back, white collar and sleeves. “Braves” stitched on the front, like a jersey, with “44” on the lower left. Big “44” on the back. On the sleeves, down near the cuff, are the distinctive Braves feathers. Made in Turkey . Bet Will wants to wear it. Some people like fancy new cars. I collect junk like this. One day I’ll stop.

Pictures of the skit (and trip) are beginning to surface on Facebook. I got to see only one night of the skit in person, but the pictures of other nights show a lot. I was amazed with how far they went with the costumes. You can see them on Will or Anna’s profile. Several pictures of them, Ceil, Matthew, DJ, Alyssa, and the Hurt girls. Every time Matthew goes on one of those trips, his voice gets deeper.

In the Sports Illustrated with Sam Bradford on the cover, one of the full page pictures near the front is of a high school baseball team warming up on Chattanooga ’s historic Engel Field. That’s the field where Will got to play a few years ago, where as a freshman he almost pitched a six-inning no hitter.

I keep telling myself, and others, that the Braves bats will come around. Lots of Cox chatter so far this year, on places like ESPN and USA Today.

No Joy in Mudville

Typical, but interesting, game last night against the big McDonough team. Even though there have been numerous JV games that upperclassmen can’t play in (including this Thursday), this was another varsity game against a senior-laden team where Crown fielded all their freshmen and sophomores, while talented upperclassmen bided their time on the bench.

McDonough’s first two batters scored before the game became a pitching duel. Crown’s only hit in the first three innings was Will’s smash lined over the rightfielder’s outstretched glove, to the wall in the gap, for a first-inning triple. McDonough added four more runs in the fourth, then Crown’s offense woke up in the fifth.

Nathan and Will walked, then advanced a base. Both scored on wild pitches. Michael’s line drive right to the third-baseman was dropped, and Ian snuck into third. The throw came into the pitcher covering the bag, who proceeded to put a hard slap tag on Ian’s knee. Despite the outcry, the umpires did nothing. Things like that have a way of coming around, and sure enough, Trey stepped up slugged a game-tying home run.

The wing was blowing hard for most of the game, the American Flag flapping hard, pointed straight to center. Playing shortstop, Will retreated into the outfield to make a difficult catch. The gale even made little Michael’s fly ball fly further than ever, all the way to the centerfielder.

In the sixth McDonough scored twice, off Crown’s tiring starter. With two out and runners in scoring position, Will was brought in to face the hot-headed, hard-tagging pitcher/cleanup hitter. I wondered if Will thought about throwing at him, but Will methodically fired two strikes before inducing a soft line drive right to the first baseman.

Crown was able to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth. Nathan walked and Will was hit. When the catcher threw to first to try and pick off Will, Nathan alertly stole third. Later Will stole second, then both scored on Ian’s single.

Will pitched a great seventh, but was the victim of inadequate defense and bad luck. A weak leadoff grounder was just out of the freshman second-baseman’s reach. The next batter chopped one high, just out of the immobile third-baseman’s reach, for a “double.”

With runners on second and third, McDonough put on the suicide squeeze. As the runner bore home from third, the batter missed bunting Will’s fastball. The runner could easily be tagged out at the plate…but the catcher didn’t catch the pitch. The runner scored on the passed ball. Coach Maiocco called to Will, telling him he would have to strike out the batters. That’s what Will did, striking out the next two.

Down a run, Crown tried to rally one more time. Big Trey led off with his second-straight extra-base hit, a double to the gap in right-center. The clock struck nine, and the chilly ballpark was quiet as young Russell was intentionally walked. The quiet was broken by the loud laughter of Russell’s mom, who couldn’t believe they didn’t want to pitch to her freshman son. I thought this laughter might intimidate the opposition. Nathan struck out, bring up Will.

Two out, bottom of the last inning. Tying run on second. Winning run on first. Will watched. Ball one. Ball two. Next pitch hit the outside corner. So did the next pitch. Will said he wasn’t expecting a two-strike fastball inside. Mr. Donovan said it was a ball. The umpire called it a strike. Game over.

25 Hours of Jekyll

After reading the recent Sports Illustrated article on Steve Nash, where he talks about having to remember to “live life”, I decided to drive down to Jekyll. Since I couldn’t leave until Saturday, I feverishly cleaned Friday night. Only but a dent in what was on my list.

Woke at 5:15 Saturday, and was on the highway by six. Only made one gas stop, and crossed the bridge to the island before 11 am. I knew they were riding bikes, so I headed to the lunch spot on the northern tip of the island. I spotted Ceil sitting in a van in the parking lot, and was able to surprise her. Soon W, A, & M arrived. Hung out with Ceil the rest of the afternoon, as we followed the bike ride through the historic district.

Sat in a bit of the skit rehearsal, though it was tedious. It was the last night, a supposed serious time. Funny-kid Matthew Ellis remarked that since it was a serious night, he hadn’t worn his orange socks. Made me feel bad for wearing red shoes. I had only written the first half of this Act Four, and hadn’t seen the “serious” ending.

After a poolside cookout, the chaperones were staking out the best seats. I didn’t think much of the School Director making sure I got a front-row seat…until her announcements, when she pulled me up on stage to thank me for writing the skit. It was good to see the finished product, to see which jokes worked, and which didn’t.

Will was involved in two of the more serious scenes. He managed to accidentally crack the audience up in both. He was supposed to quickly remove his evil cape and switch over to the good side, but the tightly-tied cape wouldn’t budge. He finally had to give up. Then, for the climatic final scene the cast was to run off, change shirts, and return. Will couldn’t find his shirt until the last second, and was hurrying back on-stage, pulling it on. He arrived at his designated spot in the center of the stage just as he finished pulling it over his head. But he had put on the shirt backwards…much to the delight of the young campers.

Not long after the break I hit the road (at 9:25), and drove back to Macon to spend the night…arriving just after 1 am. Didn’t sleep well, due to the caffeine I had drank, and the raging thunderstorm. Read the clock wrong, and departed Macon at 5:15 am. Got home shortly after 7 am Sunday. Took a nap, and got a decent amount of housework done. Picked up C, A, & M at six, then Anna went back with me to get Will at 9:30.

Co-worker Darryl has to check into the hospital Thursday night. He’s started dialysis and hopes to check out today, but it looks doubtful. He needs a kidney transplant, but must first lose 25 pounds.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Puma Californias...Red!

I was liking those grey Pumas,
but I couldn't pass up this sweet red pair.

You'll be seeing me this summer in these.

Or not! The red soles cracked! major bummer!

Dic Dac on Discovery

Ceil called Wednesday night at 10:20, right after cousin Dic Dac was on the Discovery Channel. He got more air time than anyone else. Ceil said his wife Debbie had emailed about the show. Ceil took her iPod, so she can get emails. Sometimes cell service isn't that good on Jekyll.

Tuesday Will called, and wanted to talk to everyone, including Matthew. He said the first week went real good.

I got Ceil, Anna, and Matthew up to living yesterday right at 5 am. Matthew couldn't sit for being so excited. Anna was in charge of numbering the vans. All the older students had left the day before, so it made the departure take longer than they had hoped. I stuck around until they loaded the cars around 5:45.

Ceil thought she was riding with her friend Mary Hurt, but they had her assigned with another lady. Last night Ceil said she did get to ride with Mary the last half of the trip. One time they got to talking, then they looked back to discover they had sped up and left the caravan behind!

When they got to Jekyll they immediately went down to the park at the south end of the island...where there's the weakest cell service. They ate lunch there, then divided into teams, and conducted their dissections (cow's hearts, I think). Will was a lead instructor for that.

I think they even ate dinner last night at the park. It's a nice place, shaded by dozens of huge Live Oak trees. Back at the hotel last night Will and the older kids put on Night One of the skit I wrote. Ceil said it went real good, that since the high schoolers had put on the same skit last week, this time they're more relaxed and doing better. Will plays the lead role!

Sounds like the two bowls of sugary cereal Matthew had for breakfast today have him acting up. However unlikely, I might have to go get him.

Couldn't believe my parents planned such a big trip, driving to Iowa and back through Mississippi, gone for two weeks. I have so much to do, I doubt I'll get it all done before Ceil gets back.

Two Weekends Ago

Friday Ceil and I got a late start going out to eat. She didn’t want our usual Mexican. At lunch someone had a big Zaxby’s salad, so we went there…a place we almost never go. Later I picked up Will at a fancy birthday party…a bunch of Living Science kids were ballroom dancing. I stayed in the packing lot with several other parents, but there were some good Facebook photos.

Saturday W had practice. I got the oil changed, then worked around the house. Finally started doing some yardwork, Ceil mostly did the gardening. Sunday was a long, fun day at the Masters…got back at 11:45. Writing up a long recap. Tired today.

We really don’t go to malls that often. For a while we weren’t going at all, until Ceil discovered Anthropologie, so now she wants to go every month or two. Not much for me to do, except peoplewatch and look at shoes…which isn’t as interesting to me as it used to be.

I never went on a DC trip in school. Didn’t even go to the state capitol…still haven’t. First time in DC was about six years ago, with Will. My friend Lee had business there, so we went with him and his daughter. Stayed with our mutual friends in Fredericksburg . Lee knew the drill, and was a great guide. Haven’t been to the White House. Need to get A and M up there, but I doubt it will be this summer.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Stan Putnal

I was fortunate to play three seasons of high school football with Stan Putnal. Though that’s where most of my memories of him came from, it’s quite evident he was much more than a football star.

To me he was affectionately known as Putnal, and very rarely Stan. He and I ran in different social circles, weren’t in the same classes, and parked in different parking lots (hilariously now, a huge determining factor back in the day). He was back of the bus cool, while I sat closer to the front. But as teammates, we always had each other’s back.

We shared few things in common, like our slim stature and dark hair. On occasion I would be mistaken for Stan, which always made me laugh. His skinny arms and legs were hard-wired with speedy fast-twitch muscles. Al Lewis said what we all thought, dubbing Putnal the “fastest white boy.” Stan’s chiseled face was far more handsome than mine.

The 1973 Central ninth-grade team was a behemoth, rolling over opponents with abandon, easily earning the City Championship. Though we would win the state championship two years later, Coach Jones’ squad is discussed more at reunions. Stan played both ways, at receiver and defensive back, making his quarterback buddy George DuBose look like Namath. Putnal’s dark green jersey number was 55, very odd for someone with his speed and stature. I would be remiss not to mention our victories over the GMC Junior Varsity…66-0 in Macon, then 96-0 on the road in Milledgeville (66-0 at the half).

The greatest catch I remember Stan ever made was in a practice. For some reason the coaches would have the offense run plays on a different part of the field every day, perhaps so the grass on the field would wear out evenly. One day the offense was running plays toward the road, with their backs to the bushes separating the “Proving Grounds” with the old baseball field.

From the left slot Putnal ran a deep flag pattern, going straight for ten yards, then angling left toward the far away corner of the end zone. Not far from me, quarterback Mike Jolly dropped back, stepped up, and zipped one of his signature passes. Though it was a deep route, Jolly didn’t throw a high, arching pass. Instead he fired the ball 30 yards on a line…straight at the back of Putnal’s orange helmet. Running full speed, Stan sensed the approaching ball.

Without breaking stride Putnal bent at the waist, leaning his upper body to the right. The pass whizzed past where his head had just been, sticking sweetly in Stan’s hands. He bent his body back upright and continued racing down the field. Everyone was speechless. To Stan, it was just another catch.

One thing we had in common was dear to me: We both liked to tape our cleats. Wrapping our black Spot-Bilts with white athletic tape created a cool, distinctive look, much to the chagrin of our coaches. I’d like to think we were the trend setters, for as the 74 and 75 seasons unfolded, more and more of our teammates joined in....even those silly linemen. Before games I’d usually catch Stan checking out my shoes. I would be checking out his tape job as well. There’s a great action shot of Stan in the yearbook: white jersey, orange pants, and black taped shoes.

In 1975 Stan showed up for the season opener carrying his own pair of cleats, a black pair of multi-cleated Astroturf shoes. He taped then up as usual, and for several games quietly went about his business playing great football. Then on a soggy Friday night at Porter Stadium, Putnal kept slipping in his turf shoe,s. On the sidelines there was a quick search for a 10th-grade backup wearing Putnal’s shoe size. I think it was Tom Whatley who “volunteered.” Stan came off the field, hastily unwrapped the tape and tore off his turfs, and just as quickly returned to the field, to wreak more havoc.

Stan became one of the few tenth-grade starters on the varsity. Such was the Big Orange system that I really can’t remember a spectacular Putnal play. Coach McWilliams gracefully shared this one on Stan’s on-line obituary:

...Just before halftime, Lindsey had caught a pass that set up a field goal to give them strength...we took the ensuing kickoff back to the 35...wherein, I noticed Lindsey Scott (I did not know who he was at that time, and I am not sure many people know what I am going to write...including Stan)...we checked into a sprint pass to Stan on our sideline...Stan catches an 18 yard comeback, tries to stop the clock...does not get out bounds, so we have to check into the same play to the shortside of the field...I want Stan to run by the defender...and I am telling him coming to the sideline to take the guy "downtown"...which he wiggles and breaks by him and scores the late firsthalf touchdown, this is ultimately the hammerblow from which Coach Donaldson and Wayne County never recover...Stan had beaten Lindsey on this play...(I'm not finished)...I was ecstatic and fussing in the same breath going in at halftime...I say to Stan and Jolly...I wanted you to go deep the first time...they both said... Coach, we saw him get up limping...Stan replied...we knew what you were going to call, Coach, so Mike and I were setting him up on the first one....what could I say, but here we go guys...get in there and get us on the scoreboard...I did so learn so much from Coach Steiner...he would have loved Stan. It is altogether proper and fitting that Michael Jolly chose Stan for his guest to the Atlanta 100 Percent Wrong Club that year...I thought you might want to hear that story which has meant so much over the years...particularly after I found it was Lindsey Scott that bore the brunt of these two guys...

Crusty offensive coordinator McWilliams seemed to have a soft spot in his heart for Stan. Here’s a story Roy neglected to tell: Sunday afternoons were for watching game film. As much as us players wished otherwise, the meetings were mostly serious. Coaches would point out the mistakes and “gently” “instruct” and “teach” the players.

It had been another game where Stan had gone both ways, sacrificing his slight body, pushing himself past exhaustion, rarely coming off the field. McWilliams noticed this on the film. As usual, when the offensive huddle broke, split end Putnal had the furthest “jog” to his position. As McWilliams narrated, he poked out to his spot, worn out. Jolly was calling signals, and Stan was too tired to take his stance. As the ball was snapped, Putnal was just leaning over, waving his arm down to the faraway ground. The entire team was rolling in our seats. Stan just sat there, with that wide, sheepish grin on his face.

Years later I was told Stan had become an artist. I checked out his web site and discovered amazingly detailed drawings, putting my high school cartoons and doodles to shame. Two things I really admire are those able to make the most of their God-given gifts, and fathers devoted to their children. Reading the obituary comments, it was apparent that Stan was quite successful in these important areas of life.

Many of you knew him much better than me. I’d love to have you share your thoughts and memories. Many years have passed, but it’s still sad to lose another classmate. And teammate.

Long Day

Woke at three this morning to take C, A, & M up to Living Science to go to Jekyll. Both the kids were excited to get haircuts yesterday. Matthew sported his new rocker cap and Chucks. Picked up Sandy on the way. Ceil didn’t get to ride with Mary Hurt, but I’m sure they’ll spend plenty of time together on the trip. Saw three dads I knew well…made me hate missing the trip. Ceil had me stay until they piled in the cars. At the last minute I found the extra car keys, sitting in the lobby.

Will called yesterday and said things were going well. Everyone seemed to love the skit. Last night Ceil had to stay at Anna’s ballet practice, leaving her less time to pack and sleep. Then an old friend called her at 9:30, stuck at the airport. Plenty to do while they’re gone. I’m not motivated to play golf, and there are no movies I’m waiting to see. Need to wax the cars.

While packing I got to see the huge Braves comeback. Funny how McLouth received the empty dugout treatment. The Hawks keep winning, perhaps because I’m not watching.

An SI article about the Twins bullpen told how LaRussa changed the relief pitcher dynamic by bringing in the closer only when leading in the ninth. Some complain that Cox created the problem. Last night Wagner pitched the tenth, with the game tied.

Lots of “fans” thought the Braves were cheap to not re-sign closer Mike Gonzalez. With Baltimore he blew 2 of his 3 save chances, then went on the DL April 14. Nobody lauds Frank Wren when he makes the right call.

The Discovery Channel aired a show about steel production, filmed at Ceil’s cousin’s Steel Dynamics plant in Indiana. He got more air time than anyone, describing the process.

Everyone but me in my family has seen the Blind Side…maybe I’ll rent it this weekend.

Wrote a note about Stan Putnal, a former teammate who died. He had two brothers who played college football in the early 70’s: Rex Putnal, a WR at UGA, and brother Steve, a LB at Tech.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Puma Californias

My latest purchase. Comfortable enough to wear all day. What the Buckeye tennis team must wear, were they not a Nike school.

Movie Weekend

Turned out to be a busy weekend. Worked until six Friday night, then went to Zaxbys with C, A, & M. Ceil liked this Zaxby’s at Lower Roswell & Johnson Ferry much better than last week’s, further north on JF near the WalMart. This one was a lot more crowded. Matthew had wings. Then we shopped at Old Navy, Kohls, TJMaxx, & Target. Got home & watched C & A’s favorite Friday night show…TLC’s What Not to Wear. Caught some of the Braves on TV, and earlier on radio.

Saturday & Sunday I worked on getting out the summer clothes from the attic, cleaning out closets, and putting up the winter clothes. Probably got it 80% finished. Should’ve put more in the giveaway pile. So I was on my feet most of Saturday and Sunday. Ceil worked in the yard. Everything’s starting to look better, except for the grass. For that to look better, we’ll need to start with a truckload of dirt. Late in the day I blew off the driveway, which was covered with pollen. Sneezing a little today, but not much.

Took A & M to the 5 pm showing of Percy Jackson at the Picture Show. Anna had read the book, and Ceil had taken both to see it before. No good alternatives for me to watch, so I watched it as well. Interesting role for Pierce Brosnan, as half-man half-horse (a centuar).

That night I had the Braves on, but I wasn’t paying close attention. Saw KK get picked off second. Then we watched the end of The lake House, not a movie to only watch the last 45 minutes of. C & A wanted to watch While You Were Sleeping at nine, so it took me a while to figure out Jimeniz had a no-hitter going, just turning it back during the commercials. We missed the bottom of the 9th, flipping over in time to see the celebration. Three exciting games this weekend at Turner Field.

Sunday Anna was dancing at Eastside Baptist, so we missed NP. Afterwards we ate at Willies, then she turned on Cheaper By the Dozen 2. As she often does, Ceil stopped at Harrys on the way home from NP…not getting home until 2:30. C like the new sermon series, and is looking forward to hearing from Sandra Stanley. Surely this is the first time she’s spoken in big church.

I’ve been talking up Heyward to Ceil…she hadn’t heard of him before the season started. She & Anna went shopping, so she missed the end of the Braves game. It led ESPN’s Baseball Tonight, so she was able to see the highlights. Got to watch The Lake House in it’s entirety. Ceil came in late, so I was basically explaining every scene to her…how they could be in the same place.

I doubt I’ll go to Nebraska with Will in June. I was thinking that would be a good time to go to Fredericksburg VA & DC, without him. Now we may work in an early August beach trip, in addition to the mid July beach trip to SC. I want to go on Will’s school trip in November. All that would completely eat up all my vacation. Guess it’s time to get back on that diet/exercise plan that got shelved in February.


Enjoyed the throwbacks last night, even though the uniforms were baggier than back in 1984. Since it was Jackie Robinson night, it looked like the Braves fielded a team of Rick Mahlers.

Yesterday I drove through Roswell and hit a huge backup. They have a big festival every Thursday afternoon.

Nothing big on tap for the weekend.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Jason Heyward & East Cobb Baseball

The AJC's Dave O'Brien had said SI had been working on a Heyward piece during spring training. Based on the headlines, I thought they’d dig deeper into the changing face of youth baseball, which only received a few paragraphs. The Braves scouting and drafting came out looking good, as did Heyward.

I have mixed emotions on ECB. Each age group has one or two “elite” teams, that travel about winning trophies, often playing against older teams. At Will’s 16 year old level there are 5 or 6 teams. The non-elite teams are basically mid-level travel teams, paying to wear the ECB logo (& their sponsors). Perhaps part of the entry and tryout fees paid by the parents of these lower-tier players are funneled to the travel budgets of the top tier teams. Younger teams probably don’t travel as much as the older teams, so part of younger teams’ fees probably help fund the older teams as well.

Since almost all the parents are like Heyward’s, they have no qualms about forking out the dough. They are thinking pro contract and college scholarship, and have no problem hiring personal trainers. Very few of these ECB players have Jason’s combination of physique, physical & mental ability, desire, commitment…AND parents with the time and resources to drive and pay. As well as the commitment to forsake most all other teen interests and pursuits.

Last summer Will’s Sandy Plains 15U team lost both times they played the ECB elite 14U team, the Astros…mainly due to the fine ECB pitchers. The outfielders were fast, athletic, black players who were poor hitters with horrible baseball instincts…unaware of where to throw based on the situation. Obviously, most hadn’t played travel ball since they were eight, like Heyward.

ECB is Baldwin's sole focus in life. He could care less what others think about him. Undoubtedly he’s built a fine program, winning titles and producing hundreds of pro and college players (you can buy a T-shirt that lists them!). He gives a certain segment of the population exactly what they want.

You read in SI how Baldwin stretched the truth about Heyward’s height and weight. The ECB entry fee may be $1,400.00, but that doesn’t include uniforms (4+ sets), equipment, $400 bat, Reeboks (required), and travel. Will’s team costs $1400 before travel, and they’re going low budget / no thrills.

As a dad perhaps I look through rose-colored glasses. Will has practiced and played less games than most of his summer competition. He’s worked just a few times with personal baseball coaches, unlike most of his teammates. His fundamentals are average...BUT his baseball instincts, the ability to take the extra base, score the tough run, or make the play & get the out are tops. I see better pitchers, fielders, and hitters, but few better all-around players. A shortstop he’s not, but he has more defensive range than most. His best position is catcher. When it comes time to make a play, Will does so more often than most.

Public school players get tons more practice and swings. East Cobb public schools play mostly seniors, with a few juniors sprinkled in. Will needs more reps. He is hitting more off the tee, and getting more swings than ever. Decent coaching and instruction would also help (In 2011 he hit .527 with a 1.418 OPS, and led the team in many pitching and fielding categories as well).

I’m thankful that Will seems to live a more-well rounded life than most of his teammates, perhaps even on his “Christian” home-school team. Many teammates seem to only play sports, go to school, play video games, and hang out. I was planning on showing the Heyward article to Will, particularly the part about all the practice he did. Any player wanting to play small college ball would need to put in the same work.

Sunday Will asked me who he’s played against that might have a shot at the pros. Some opponents have had great games, but I haven’t seen enough of them to really know. If Will wants to fully dedicate himself to baseball, he could certainly play college ball.

Extra Long Loss

Arrived at Will’s game last night over an hour late, so I didn’t keep score. Then the game went two more hours, including an extra inning. Lucy’s dad came, who I’d hung out with on the Gulf Shores trip. The team was making errors and playing sloppy.

Will caught, and battled several pitches that bounced in front of the plate. With the score tied, a batter reached first on a strikeout wild pitch. Will had him picked off first, but had to step away from the lefthanded batter, and threw the ball over the tall first-baseman’s head. The opponent went on to score four runs, and Will blamed himself, even though the leftfielder’s misplay allowed two of the runs. Earlier Will almost made a nice diving catch of a popped up bunt, but the third-baseman got in the way.

Sam, my favorite, walked, but was lifted for a pinch-runner…who was promptly thrown out stealing. Sam would’ve made it. His replacement was the leftfielder who would make the 2-run error. In the extra inning the coach wanted Sam to come back in and bat with the bases loaded, but the rules didn’t allow it.

Will got a key hit and later scored, sliding in headfirst just ahead of the throw. On the way home he asked if I thought it was wise to risk the out. I told him I was surprised he hadn’t broken for the plate sooner. He went 2-4, and admitted he should’ve beaten out another grounder, but hadn’t hustled.

Got up at 4 am this morning to take Will to school for his 5 am departure…so I beat EVERYONE to work. The coworker who’s supposed to start at six arrived almost 20 minutes late. Went to Ruby Tuesday’s with the Ogre. A lady mentioned she booked a flight to Seattle for $35.00…she cashed in miles.

The Date Night movie does look funny…I do like Steve Carrell and Tina Fey. Heard him on Q100 last week, and a Fey clip somewhere else.

Ceil is so worried about losing all the pictures we have. We have them on a disk AND a flash drive, but she still doesn’t want to delete them ,to clear up memory. Now my old laptop is our home computer. It’s working fine, but I hope it can take the wear and tear.

I’ve been missing a lot of Braves action. Monday I tuned in with the score 14-0. Facebook has a Jason Heyward Fan Club that’s garnering lots of comments, mostly from fair weather bandwagon jumpers. I’m sure my comments aren’t appreciated.

Wrong Way Feldman

I remember when Tech first joined the ACC, and they were getting killed in every game.

At NC they passed inbounds to open the second half to Jack Mansell, the not so tall center. To his surprise, he found the path to the basket wide open, so he drove in for a layup. Unfortunately, it was the wrong basket.

Bulls-Celtics last night. Rasheed Wallace of Boston went up for a defensive rebound, and forgot it was defense, and scored a basket for the Bulls.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sunday at the Masters

We secured a fantastic place to stand at eighteen, just behind only seven rows of green Masters chairs. Seven of the 24 groups had already finished, including such big names as Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia, Chad Campbell, Steve Stricker, Mike Weir, Retief Goosen, Zach Johnson, and Ben Crane. Still, over half of the hundreds of green chairs were vacant.

After Tom Watson hit his approach to 18, playing partner Bill Haas effectively dissed the former champion, by walking to the green ahead of Watson. Still, it was obvious to all that the huge ovation was for the former champion. Away, Watson putted first, narrowly missing the birdie attempt. He tapped in to another huge, extended ovation. Watson let it soak in, acknowledging the crowd. All Haas could do way wait.

To me, torture is thinking up a joke while surrounded by hundreds of hushed patrons, but not being able to tell it because Tom Watson is setting up to putt. During the hush I heard a lady behind me stage whisper “He’s the 60 year old?” I so wanted to reply “He heard that!”

Tied for second place, Anthony Kim hit his tee shot on 18 into the fairway bunker, then into right greenside bunker. It took an incredible pitch to save par. As Yang putted Kim exchanged an extended “handshake” with his caddie…Kim was obviously pumped with his strong finish. Both he and Yang took time to quite personably acknowledge the crowd.

In the next group, fashion plate Oklahoma boy Ricky Barnes hit his tee shot right, into the woods. After pitching out, his approach shot landed short of the hole and rolled back off the green. After a Poulter pitch, Barnes’ chip rolled up and in, to great cheers. He doffed his “engineers” hat and took a dramatic bow.

The patrons soon cheered loudly again, with crowd favorite Fred Couples in the next group. Another fine round left him just four back, which was amazing, considering his obvious back discomfort. It must’ve been the shoes, black Ecco walking shoes with seemingly smooth blue bottoms. Every time he bent over Fred’s pants rode up, his bare ankles were exposed…no socks. I know from personal experience that when your back hurts, putting on socks is a real pain. After putting out, Couples tossed his ball into the crowd, not too far from me.

As Tiger Woods made his final walk up the hill at 18, he had hardly any chance to win. After struggling most of the day, he was able to lower his score on the back nine. Woods removed his sunglasses and cap, smiled broadly, and made a point to look each section of the crowd for an extended period, as if to thank them for their support. In the past Woods would hardly remove his game face until finishing the round, and he would hardly ever remove his cap, exposing his receeding hairline. I’m not sure how CBS captured the moment, but it looked quite sincere to me. After Choi barely missed his birdie putt, tapped in, and shook Tiger’s hand, Choi initiated a big hug. Another unforgettable Masters moment.

Then the patrons turned their attention to their favorite, Micholson. Phil hit his approach close. It was quite evident as he took his victory march to the green that he was on cloud nine. He beamed widely as the crowd roared it’s approval, forgetting he had left his playing partner Lee Westwood behind. Finally the crowd quieted, and Westwood finished his round. Phil set up and stroked his putt…it went in, for yet another birdie.

Over 14 hours earlier Will and I arrived at Augusta National, and admired the new, pristine driving range. We passed the crowded pro shop, and walked up past the 150 year-old Live Oak next to the clubhouse. No one was on the putting green, so we looked to the 18th green. I counted 40 rows of green Masters chairs ringing the green, most empty.

It was a pleasure to meet Augusta National’s Director of Wildlife Planning. Who knew? The club identifies certain species of birds, and sets up the proper nesting environment, be it high or low, in the proper tree, bush, or hole. Birds are mostly selected for their distinctive songs. Roger, the director, said these bird issues are continually a problem, largely due to migration and predators. Smaller European swallows are preferred to their larger African cousins. I had read a short profile about Roger in the April 1st issue of Sports Illustrated, if you catch my drift. Even at the tournament’s penultimate moments, birds could be clearly heard whenever a golfer prepared to putt.

Will had a great idea, positioning us on the third green, where we could watch the player’s short approach and putts on the tough hole. Play on Flowering Crab Apple, the adjacent par three fourth hole, can be seen as well. We could also watch players tee of on five, just behind the fourth green.

We watched all 48 golfers complete hole three. Chad Campbell and Nathan Green, the first pair, both bogeyed the hole. Only three of four golfers all day posted birdies, including a long putt by Couples. Yuta Ikeda had the longest drive, but Tiger’s blast came close. Wood’s drive down the right side landed closest to us. When his approach rolled past the green he showed just slight flustration, then took several recuperative practice swings.

At one point we heard a huge ovation, quit louder than average. Could it be a hole in one on sixteen? It was…Nathan Green. First hole in one I’ve ever heard. Later nattily attired Ryan Moore repeated the feat, outfitted in a kelly green tie and black carnigan.

As the sun rose higher and the temperature rose, the grass dried. Balls that previously stuck at the top of the bank now rolled back down to the fairway.

After the final group finished the fourth hole, we made our way back to eighteen. On the way we saw the 5th to last group tee off on eight, Anthony Kim and Yong-Eun Yang. Kim had a huge belt buckle, and his caddy/buddy rocked old style Air Max’s. Tiger’s mother Kultida followed Yang, and with a small group of her Korean lady friends.

At the concession stand we qued next to a college baseball coach, decked out on San Francisco Giant cap and tee…so we had a nice baseball conversation with him. I lamented that I was going to wear my 74 Braves cap to the Masters, but had forgotten it. On the way back I discovered the cap in the back seat, along with my St. Louis Browns cap, another distinct option.

We both munched on pimento cheese sandwiches. Earlier I had one of my favorites, an egg salad sandwich.

Standing together in tight quarters for several hours developed comradery in our group, as we were continuously pushed and jostled. I started off standing next to one lady, then later found her to be eight people away. We made way for a man in a little 3-wheel cart, who was delighted to get such a great view. Later I discovered he had dropped his paper. I asked a guy to help, but the elderly man was intent on reaching down and recover it himself. As he did, the cart started to topple. Luckily, we were in such tight quarters that I was able to quickly catch him.

We all let little Colton, a tiny Clemson fan from Spartanburg, stand in front. He entertained us all with his exclamations of what was going on. I showed Colton Will’s orange shorts wit the tiger paw on them. Another lad next to me attended St. Anne’s, the Catholic church at the end of our street. While I dealt with one particularly obnoxious family, will was happy to chat with a teen softball player from Houston, and her mother. You could say I got my “Masters degree” in golf etiquette.

As more and more people ringed the green as the tournament crescendoed, it became increasingly difficult for the “patrons” to even find their seats. Several front row chairs were still vacant when the third to last group was finishing. Those seated in front of us couldn’t even see the hole, which was above their line of vision. Whenever a putt was struck, the entire section would stand. Several behind me took great joy in then shouting “sit down!” Several in front then took joy in remaining standing. Throughout the afternoon I thankfully remembered there are few better places to spend a majestic Sunday afternoon in April.

Exhuasted as we were, we still took the scenic route back to our car…back across the course to the rear entrance. As we walked through the nicely maintained wooded area, I hoped Allison Howell also went that way, since she usually doesn’t spell AZALEA Allenby, Zach (Johnson), Adam (Scott), Lee (Westwood), Ernie (Els), and Arnold (Palmer).

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Not much going on. Plenty of emergencies here at work, but I’ve gotten my desk pretty clean. With a team member out today, I showed the new guy what she does, and he thinks he can automate a great deal of it.

Will is excited about going to the Masters Sunday. As few chances as I’ve had to go, badges are hard to turn down. Ceil still says she might go, but I doubt she will. Last night I came home from work and changed into shorts and a tee shirt, then after eating Ceil wanted to go to Perimeter Mall. Anna, who’s really into shopping now, went instead of me. So I watched almost the entire Braves game.

Nothing on tap for tonight or Saturday, except Will has a practice.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Most. Yards. Ever.

Herschel Walker compiled more total “combined” yards in pro football history, a little known fact.

His 18,168 combined yards gained in the NFL are currently eighth all-time, though his rank was higher when he retired (he may have ranked first).

He is the only player in NFL history to have at least 4000 yards rushing, receiving, and in returns. He is also the only NFL player to score a touchdown of over 90 yards rushing, receiving, and on a return, in the same season.

Walker set the NCAA single season rushing record for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. His college rushing yards are a three-year record. Had he played his senior year at UGA and maintained his career average per game, his four year total would remain the record, by far.

Herschel’s total yards gained in college AND pro ball (and/or high school, college, & pro) are probably the most yards gained by any football player in history.

8225 NFL rushing yards

4859 NFL receiving yards

5084 NFL kickoff return yards

18168 total NFL yards

7115 total USFL yards

25283 total pro football yards…most all-time

5749 UGA total yards

31032 total yards, college and pro

3167 yards rushing as a high school senior

34199 grand total yards

28239…Jerry Rice (23546 NFL plus 4693 college)

25303…Walter Payton (21803 NFL plus 3500 college)

23316…Brian Mitchell NFL yards

22504…Barry Sanders (18308 pro plus 4196 college)

22375…Tony Dorsett (16293 pro plus 6082 college)

21579…Emmitt Smith NFL

19679…Tim Brown NFL

19172…Marshall Faulk NFL

17648…Marcus Allen NFL

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


Heyward does appear to be different, a level or two above Frenchy and Schafer. Some even compare him to Pujols, who went 4-5 on Opening Day. Heyward appears to be a big kid, with way he loped around the bases on the HR. No reason to leave that game early, even with the big lead, with rush hour still clearing up.

Will played golf yesterday with David Norman. No baseball all this week. He’ll only get to play one game before he leaves on his two week trip. Geno, the Tech alum, may give me Sunday Masters tickets.

Ceil doesn’t have to drive on the Jekyll Island trip, so hopefully I can clean out the garage some while she’s gone. Both cars need waxing, but that’s more of an afternoon activity. My nicely washed car was covered in pollen when I left work yesterday.

Went to Canoe last night. As usual, Ceil loved it. I had the Duck & Beef Burger. We got a late start, so by dessert time she was worn out. We skipped dessert and went home.

The J-Hey Kid

I’m as excited about Heyward as the next guy, but it appears thousands of bandwagon fans have forgotten two things…

1. There was similar hoopla several years ago, about another rookie rightfielder for the Braves, who homered in his first game, was a high draft pick from a local high school, who played at East Cobb, who was a leading rookie of the year candidate, who often swung at the first pitch. Years later most fans either hadn’t realized he was the least productive MLB outfielder, or they were glad to see him go.

2. In last season’s opening game yet another heralded rookie outfielder homered, in his first MLB game. Days later he hurt his wrist, and he’s still not back to full strength.

Fans are quick to move on to the next big thing. Heyward comes across as a big kid, which is just fine. I’m not that crazy about his flat-brimmed hat, which seemed to be worn slightly off-center.

Friday Ceil & the kids weren’t ready to go to SC until 6:30, due to last minute Easter shopping and extra play rehearsals. We didn’t arrive until after midnight. On one isolated stretch of backroads I saw just as many varmits (deer and possum) as I did cars.

Will hit golf balls Saturday until his hands were blistered, at our uncle’s farm. Anna and I hit a bunch as well. Later I walked around the town three times…once with Ceil, and twice with Matthew. Made me miss the Butler win, then I fell asleep during the Duke game.

Washed both cars last night before 24 last night. Will watched the game down the street at his friend Preston ’s house.

After Zoubec made the first foul shot late in the NCAA final, I thought he would need to make the second, because Butler only had time to take a 3-point shot. Butler was out of time outs, so they’d have to inbound the ball. I noticed that during the tourney several teams employed the same strategy…miss the foul shot and make the opponent create something if they got the rebound. There were at least two buzzer beater game winners during the tourney.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

20 Questions / 10

Q. Could the worst Division 2 mens team beat the UConn girls team or any other good girls basketball team ?

A. Will and I were watching a D2 game last Thursday, and the play seemed sloppy. The Tennessee girls practice against guys who just missed earning scholarships. I’m not sure.

Q. If a sports athlete refuses to sign any autographs ( Woods , Jordan ), does that affect their popularity?

A. Not signing autographs and treating fans rudely definitely affects popularity, at least on the fan chatter level. It may not affect an athlete’s “Q-score” or endorsements much, just the word on the street. Pre-wreck Tiger & MJ fell under this category. Once you reach their status, stopping for autographs creates a quick mob scene. So many autograph seekers these days want them to sell. Tiger & MJ got to where they are not by being nice guys, but being focused only on being the best…often at the expense family and friends. They’ll always have people sucking up to them.

I try to remember I love watching them because they’re so good. Neither would probably be a good buddy, due to their selfishness. Same with many in the sports & entertainment industry, who sacrifice everything to be famous. There are exceptions, like Phil Micholson and Cal Ripken Junior. I’ve heard bad things about Glavine, and good things about McCann. At what point can a celebrity watch a little league game or eat dinner without being bothered? Such is the price of fame, I guess.

Commercials can make an athlete appear to be fun and outgoing, and engaging to fans. What’s different about Paul Johnson? I love him because he’s a winner, but reading between the lines, he doesn’t care for anyone’s opinion but his own. That’s great for a head coach, lousy for a friend. He’ll be popular as long as he wins…then he’ll get unpopular quickly. Mark Richt seems to be much nicer and caring. Is this keeping the Dawgs just under teams coached by Meyer and Saban?


Good SI article by Deford, and the one about Gasol. The baseball issue and the Masters preview came yesterday, so I’ll take them to SC. I had bragged about almost catching up reading them all, then when I moved desks I discovered several I hadn’t read. Then it’s been busy the last two months, and I’m back being way behind. Just extended my subscription one year for twenty bucks.

Watched the SportsSouth special on the Braves last night. Not much new info, but it was fun. Then the top 25 plays in Braves history rerun, and the Cox interview, while I was doing other stuff. Only DOB reported Chipper’s ingrown toenail and Heyward’s shin splints.

We had a real good March…sales to my customer were the highest since 2008. April should be just as good. Yesterday I was able to clean up a bunch of my old stuff, which is always good. This morning I drove Will’s carpool to Living Science, so I didn’t get to work until nine.

Didn’t realize they turned that old Kroger across from Sprayberry into a new LA Fitness.

Tonight is our last marriage group meeting. The leaders are feeding us dinner…we always meet at their house.