Wednesday, June 30, 2010

When the Aliens Attack...

When the aliens attack, a good place to hide might be a stairwell.

If their bodies are different from ours, they may not be able to go up or down steps.

Of course, if they have a death ray, I guess it wouldn’t matter.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Strasburg's 5th MLB Start: We Were There

The Braves’ Tim Hudson outlasted Washington Nationals pheenom Stephen Strasburg in a nationally televised pitchers duel Monday night. In possibly the biggest game at Turner Field since the Braves last playoff appearance, the veteran and rookie matched goose eggs for the first six innings. Then after Hudson pitched a scoreless seventh, the Braves’ offense erupted for five runs, with four charged to Strasburg.

Chipper walked on four pitches, then McCann singled to center. Jones then shielded Nats shortstop Ian Desmond from Glaus’ ground ball, forcing an error. Hinke’s sac fly to centerfield was deep en that all three runners advanced. With the lead, the crowd’s tomahawk chop rocked the stadium. Escobar’s single to left drove in McCann, and Strasburg’s night was done. The crowd waved their goodbyes and continued chopping.

But the Braves weren’t finished. Gregor Blanco perfectly executed a safety squeeze bunt, pushing it past the pitcher on the first base side. Pinch-hitter Omar Infante stroked a sharp grounder in the hole, off the glove of the diving third-baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Shortstop Desmond had ranged far to his right to back up the play, and the deflected ball dribbled away from him. As the ball rolled almost to the outfield grass, Blanco rounded second and raced to third, as Escobar scored from second. Martin Prado drove in the fifth run of the inning with a sacrifice fly to right.

The stadium was filled with Braves fans, taking advantage of the cheap Buck Belue Buck night dollar ticket, eager to see the “once in a generation” rookie. The dollar tickets completely sold out, and attendance of 42,889 was announced. Will and Kevin rode MARTA down to Five Points, walked to the stadium, and snapped up eight Skyline tickets for the group. I left work at four, swapped cars with Ceil in Roswell, and parked the van just after five. Anna sported her big sunglasses, and Matthew wore his Chipper jersey, Braves cap, shorts, white adidas shell-toes, and black crew socks. The socks were obviously for the look, as he always wears white footies.

Before Anna, Matthew, and I arrived at BP, Kevin had already had a “run-in” with my friend Johnny Pierce, going after a home run ball. Will had recognized Johnny from the game two weeks earlier, so we chatted for a long while. He had talked to Stan Kasten a couple of years ago, when he went to a game at old RFK.

Soon Craig, Denise, and Alyssa arrived. I tossed Will’s glove to Alyssa, and she put it on and watched BP. But when a ball came near, she didn’t move. After BP we went upstairs to our outfield seats in the sun, sitting down over 40 minutes before game time. Ceil had packed a feast, so we passed out hot dogs and drinks. Matthew ate 2-1/2 dogs. After the game he said he was so full he would never eat a bite, though it didn’t stop him from ordering fries and an FO at the Varsity.

Marietta’s Eastside Baptist Church Choir sang the national anthem. Anna recognized several choir members. She takes ballet classes there. During the anthem, Denise and I noticed Matthew standing with his Braves cap held over his heart. When the starting lineups were announced, Matthew wanted to know where Jason Heyward was. Injured, J-Hey was put on the 15-day DL after the game.

The pre-game talk was Strasburg, nicknamed “Jesus” by some. The Braves usually run a short video on the opponent’s team history. In addition to this Expos video, that also ran a story on Strasburg. Before warming up in the bullpen (surrounded by on-looking fans), Strasburg stretched, ran, and threw in the leftfield corner. This attracted much more attention than Hudson, doing the same in right field.

For six innings, the rookie did not disappoint. At one point he struck out six of seven batters, including five straight. He left the game with seven, falling short of Herb Score’s record of 50 strikeouts in his first five MLB starts. Meanwhile, Hudson was even more effective for the Braves. While not a strikeout pitcher, Huddy struck out six, in his seven shutout innings. Pitching so well on the ESPN stage may have solidified his spot in the All-Star game.

Interesting play: The Braves put the infield shift on pull-hitting Adam Dunn. With a runner on first, the National’s first-baseman hit a grounder to the second baseman. Escobar fielded the ball and flipped to Chipper for the out…a rare 6-5 putout at second base.

Another rare sight: After the top of the seventh ended, it was announced that the seventh inning stretch would be led by NASCAR’s Michael Waltrip. He hopped on the top of the dugout with a cordless microphone in hand, dressed in black: T-shirt, shorts, and flip flops. His rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” was forgettable, but he got points for dancing with the Braves girls during “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” Perhaps he is a good luck charm: the Braves promptly scored five runs after his performance.

Kevin still had his ticket stub in his wallet from his recent trip to Washington, where he saw Strasburg's previous start.

After the game we grabbed free Coke Zeros. My wallet was right where I left it, sitting on the floorboard of the van. Big postgame crowd at the Varsity. In the early evening heat I had a Gatorade and hot dog, but the extra Frosted Orange was so refreshing. After downing Matthew’s French fries, I felt like throwing up on the way home.

Friday, June 25, 2010


Will got back late Thursday morning. He tells me he wants to go to see Strasburg…we’ll see. We had said he could do something like take several friends to a Braves game for his birthday, so maybe it will be that one. I’m sure the Braves are hating that it’s Buck Belue Buck Night.

Buck seems to “shouting” when he is alone. It’s to the point where I can tune in and figure out that Kincaid is off, just because Buck has his voice raised. He should take more calls instead. I still say that Buck is pretty humble for an ex-UGA QB. Seems like Zeier knows more how to pull strings and orchestrate backroom political deals…hence he landed the coveted UGA radio colorman job over Buck.

Will said he broke a wood bat, hitting one off the end. The bat shattered, with part of it going over the pitcher’s head. Ball went through the middle for a base hit. It was a team bat, as opposed to the one he had bought…”I don’t like that one.” Said he made a nice backhanded play at third base, but continued to show his inexperience in the outfield, whatever that means. Starting Saturday, they play four doubleheaders in five days.

I really liked the National Archives, which we saw before National Treasure came out. Doesn’t take too long. Did you see Night at the Museum 2, filmed at the Air & Space wing of the Smithsonian? (actually, it was a studio set/computer generated)

Southside Steve is always fun to listen to, though I mainly turn over to 100.5 when other stations are running commercials. Last night Katie Temple had some decent postgame comments, though most of them had to just be conjecture on her part.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Matthew: Shoe Hound

Before the youth group pool party last night Matthew decided he needed a pair of flip flops.

He went into the attic and searched through a box of shoes, and emerged with a pair of white leather adidas shell-toe basketball sneakers, low-cut with black stripes.

Here’s his current collection:

1. adidas Sambas: the popular indoor soccer shoes, black with white stripes.

2. Chuck Taylor low-cuts, black: they’re quickly becoming too small.

3. Chuck Taylor high-tops, black: Since the low-tops are getting too small.

4. adidas shell-toes: From Goodwill, like 1, 2, 3, and 7.

5. Toms: Those simple cloth shoes so popular with the kids these days…

…he’s been letting Anna wear them as well.

6. Sperry Topsiders: also popular with the kids.

7. Crocs: Once the only shoe we’d wear, now he only wears them to the pool.

8. Flip Flops: Of course, Ceil went out and got him some today. He wanted them, didn't he?


I doubt the Braves will have a huge amount of All-Stars, as it never turns out that way. There’s always a last-place team that needs a spot. Prado deserves a spot, and we’ll see if McCann is named. We’ll be lucky to get one pitcher, maybe Hudson. Doubt Wagner will make it.

Toughest will be the first baseman choice. Pujols gets voted in. Has Ryan Howard had an all-star year? He’d be hard to leave off. Do the Brewers have any candidates other than Prince Felder? Is the leading outfielder a Brewer? I’ll check tonight, and compare their stats to Glaus’, but the other factors will decide the first basemen.

Will went to Tuesday night’s Clemson/Oklahoma game, and sat in left field. Even after more rain, the Rays played a doubleheader this afternoon before departing for Georgia. Four games in Nebraska…I don’t want to calculate the cost per game.

He texted me…the first game was “forgettable.” Will was brought in to pitch with the winning run on third, and no out. He said the umps blew the second game in extra innings. He went 1-3 with 3 RBIs.

I see where Costas has jumped on the Strasburg HOF bandwagon: “he could be an all-time great.” It’s good for his win total to start so young, but he’s got a long way to go. Should he be an All-Star?

Will it be Fredi or TP?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

hot wings

Sunday in Omaha, Will pretends he's on "Man vs Food"

Lost, But Now Found

A few months ago I thought I had locked my keys in my car, so I told Ceil no rush, but she’d have to bring over a spare. Around 6:15 I was talking to one of the last guys to leave the office, and happened to open my drawer, and there were my keys. I never put them there. Ceil had yet to leave East Cobb.

Took A & M to see a movie last night, while Ceil was at her women’s Bible study. More rain in Omaha, glad I’m not there. Sounds like no games today for Will’s team, and maybe not for the college world series, either.

Lots of problems at work. Going to Augusta Friday, then Nashville Saturday.

Lang doesn’t seem like a dude ranch kind of guy, but he often surprises me.


Here’s a picture of Will, eating some really hot wings Sunday night.

They won one and lost one in Omaha Monday, against teams from California and Massachusetts. Will struck out the only batter he faced, and also played third base. He got at least one hit and also walked, and had an RBI.

Last week they lost a doubleheader to the East Cobb Brewers. Will had a clutch 2-RBI double, and walked three times. He scored at least three runs.

Playing outfield, he threw out TWO runners at home. That’s three runners he’s thrown out at home this year, in part-time outfield duty. I may be wrong, but I don’t recall anyone else throwing out a baserunner from the outfield this season.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Saturday Will got his haircut, spent a little time with friends, and make some trip money cutting grass before leaving for Nebraska. They didn’t do too much there yesterday due to the rain, and today’s 8:30 am game was pushed back to 1 pm CDT.

I missed seeing a bunch of people at the Ewing wedding, that C and A went to. For a wedding present, Margaret surprised the groom with a Corvette. I was sneezing both Saturday and Sunday, so it was just as well. Anna and Matthew cooked me breakfast in bed…eggs (A) and toaster waffles (M). Later C and A made peach cobbler while Matthew and I went swimming.

Saw chunks of the Braves all weekend. Would’ve been nice to see the Cy Young winner Friday night, but I turned down tickets. I was excited to see Hinske get a Sunday start, but he seems to hit better in the clutch. They’re getting more highlights shown on ESPN these days. I’m sure NBC enjoyed airing most of the US Open in prime time.

On 790 Sunday morning, Kincaid’s fill-in was discussing whether Strasburg should be an all-star. The thinking is still who is most deserving, and about getting everyone in the game, rather than playing the best players the whole game and going for the win. Perhaps he should make the team, if the NL wants to win. In the old days guys like Aaron and Mays would play nine innings. Most of the backups probably never got in the game. I’ve started following the polling, to see if Heyward will get voted in.

Still hectic here at work. Friday I stayed til 6:30 trying to catch up, and will probably do so again tonight. Will take Ceil to Relish tomorrow, while A and M go to youth group.

Found a nice Joe Namath throwback at Goodwill, for four bucks. A classic, though big.


Soon we’ll go to Relish, that restaurant on the Roswell Square, in the old mortuary building. Things will calm down at our house next week, with Will in Nebraska Sunday thru Thursday.

Thursday night I thought the Celtics would win as well.

Matthew cut the grass for the first time ever. This means I have another eight years before I’ll have to take over. I better stay in shape.

Yesterday we had a customer appreciation day here at work. Lots of Dreamland BBQ, but it really was just OK.

Top Ten Brett Freemon Memories

10. Brett played lots of games at Georgia Tech: Risk, Hearts, Backgammon. Always used the same line from the Superman movie when I conquered my first Risk continent: “Murphy, ruler of Australia…”

9. He always took part in the midnight Saturday night Krispy Kreme run. We’d go as a carload down Ponce to the “mother ship” to pick up the TEN dozen doughnuts, to set out for Sunday morning van pickup at the BSU. We’d eat our fill before hitting the sack, then have more for breakfast. After church we’d return and finish off the rest.

8. Like many of us, Brett entered college with a quite slender build. Thirty years later he’s still skinny. Unlike me. Maybe it was the doughnuts!

7. Does Brett still perform puppet shows? He joined his older brother on the BSU puppet team, as I recall.

6. Brett often joined me cashing in Arby’s coupons, that were regularly found in The Technique, the Tech student newspaper. I can still hear his distinctive “coupon!” call (make him do it for you now!). Since those times, I remained a cheapskate. As a matter of fact, I think I’m getting worse. Over the past thirty years, I’ve continued to blame Brett Freemon for this.

5. At Tech we played whatever sport was in season. Brett’s sport was volleyball, as I recall.

4. He would always sit next to me in the passenger’s seat as I drove to Second-Ponce, or Tuesday night Wendy’s, for all-you-can-eat chili. Brett was always excited about something. Whenever he had an idea, he’d flip out his hand and flick me on the upper arm, exclaiming “Hey!” One day after one too many “Hey!”’s, I finally cracked. Took my arms off the wheel, turned, grabbed Brett, and shook him vigorously, shouting “STOP ITTT!!!” Or not. But the thought crossed my mind!

3. So of course Brett was there the day I ran out of gas, on West Wesley Road near Moore’s Mill. I THINK I was headed to the gas station. Brett always was a great car pusher.

2. Brett was my wing man as we traveled about the state, visiting other BSU’s. Jeff, Keith, and Jim would sing in the quartet (NEVER me or Brett!). We might perform a skit. Is this not how he met Donna, at North Georgia?

1. Come to think of it, just about ALL my Georgia Tech memories include Brett. And that’s a good thing…Brett was a great friend. We had so much fun together!

Happy 50th birthday, Brett! Having crossed this significant passage myself recently, I can assure you that it’s not the end. I’m sure the best is yet to come!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Turner Tuesday

Got to Turner Field right at 5 pm Tuesday and started watching BP, while it thundered and lightning-ed all around. The rain started, and BP was cancelled around 5:15. M and I walked all the way around the stadium. Saw two old friends: John Parkes and John Pierce (who writes for a Macon-based Baptist group…he knows Becky Matheny). Matthew won a free haircut by answering who was the Twins first baseman who pushed Ron Gant off the bag.

Every time I go to a Braves game, I see the same retarded fellow, with a bushy beard and huge grin. He had his smiling face pressed against the window, watching Lemke, Leo, Buck, and Kincaid do the radio show. Lemke was messing with the guy, making like he was going to get him thrown out of the park. Funny, and nice.

Later the tarp was pulled to the outfield, and the infield groomed. The anthem was played and lineups announced…then the tarp was pulled back, even though it wasn’t raining. In the upper deck, Will caught a T shirt shot from the launcher thing. During the delay they showed the Yanks/Phils, and both the Braves and Rays fans cheered for the Yankees.

Two busloads came from Nashville, and 90% of the riders wore blue #14 David Price T-shirts. Somehow we passed the time during the delay. Anna figured out her best friend Molly was at the game, so they visited for a while. Two of Will & Joel’s classmates appeared out of no-where, Woodard and Katelyn.

Lately Matthew has only been wearing “cool” t-shirts and skinny jeans, but he was a sight in his almost too small Chipper jersey, long shorts, and adidas Sambas. For several years A and M shunned going to Braves games, but now that they’re older, it’s become an event again.

Once the game finally started, Joel and Matthew started dancing between an inning, and they immediately appeared on the Jumbotron. It was nice watching Price and Longoria. Eventually we went downstairs and sat near Katelyn’s college group, which was interesting.

I’d promised Matthew we’d stop by the Varsity, so we left after the 5th inning…11:15. I didn’t realize the V closed at eleven on weeknights, so it was Taco Bell instead.

Tonight Ceil and Mary Hurt are helping arrange flowers for Margaret Ewing’s wedding. Friday they’re attending the bridesmaid’s luncheon. Anna and Ceil are going to the small wedding Saturday evening.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Monday night I took Will up to Mt. Paran and threw him three buckets of balls. Even at 8 pm it was hot. He’s more up-beat about baseball today than he was on Sunday. Found him another wood bat, that he used for most of the BP…I guess to get the feel.

Anna had lunch with her long-time ballet director today, to discuss Anna’s lack of desire to take ballet next year. Like baseball, it seems like the older you get, the more time ballet takes. Last year she was taking classes four days a week, and her grades suffered…some assignments weren’t turned in.

Ceil is a big meat eater, but we rarely go to Ted’s (which she’s not crazy about) or Longhorn (which she likes better). I’d just as soon eat a burger or Mexican, but I never get to pick.

I’ve been hitting the humor section at Borders lately. Found a great book in Nashville, but couldn’t locate it here at The Avenue.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hot Weekend

Had a good time Friday night at Oglethorpe, watching the musical version of “Taming of the Screw”. Stayed out until midnight, though the evening flew by. On the way home I listened to the Braves postgame on the radio.

Woke up early Saturday, so I got out of bed, went downstairs, and made sure Will’s uniform was washed. Spent two hours cleaning out the laundry room and cars. Took Will to his game, then ran in the heat before the game. After the game we hit QT for drinks. Took him to the Perimeter Taco Mac so he could watch the World Cup with Alyssa, Kara, DJ, and David Norman. I hit several Sandy Springs stores and ChickFilA. Back home I took a nap, then C, M, and I went to Zaxby’s and The Avenue. Stayed in the car at Publix to listen to the Braves.

After church Sunday Will had a 12:30 game, again in the heat. Then I watched the Braves and folded clothes while Ceil went to IKEA. Washed the van, played Wii golf with Will, and watched the Finals.

Liked what Phil Jackson said during a fourth quarter timeout, that the Celtics were the NBA’s worst 4th quarter team, “and they’re proving it right now.” Didn’t work, though they cut into the lead.

I’ve got to renew my driver’s license and get emissions and tags done by early August.

Mental Errors

Rough weekend for Will. Friday he struck out all three times, as did Tyler. Entire team struck out 12 times, out of 21 batters.

Pitched well on Saturday, coming in with bases-loaded and no out. Infield was in, or he would’ve had a double-play ground ball and 4-3 putout. He hit two hard line drives, but right at the 3B and CF.

Sunday he started in centerfield. First batter walked and stole 2nd & 3rd. Next batter hit a fly to Will…who dropped the easy catch.

Down two runs, Will bats leadoff and walks. Jake singles to center. Will rounds second at full speed and inexplicably continues 1/3 of the way to third…and watches as the shortstop takes the throw from CF, and relay to second. Will was so dead he didn’t slide. Bradley walks, and Tyler homers. Next SIX also reached base (both teams batted eleven).

Instead of being ahead 7-1, the lead is 6-2. Jacksonville comes back to tie game 6-6 in the fourth. With runners on 2nd and 3rd and no out, Will is brought in to pitch the fifth. Strikes out the first two, and gets the next batter to check swing a dribbler back to him…pitching out of the jam.

But in the next inning the substitute second-baseman bats for the first time. He drives Will’s first pitch over the leftfield fence, with a wood bat. Next batter walks, then Will starts a 1-6-3 double play, and gets another 1-3 dribbler. Rays lose 7-6. Fittingly, Will is the losing pitcher.

Searching where the Saturday opponent was from, today I discovered notes from many of the tourney games. Jake’s 4-4 game Thursday was the only Rays mention, along with his time running to first. Not a good week for Will to struggle at the plate.

Will's recent games

The Rays had a rough tournament this parts weekend, losing three straight games after winning the Thursday opener. They used wood bats all week, and the hitting took a dive.

Tuesday vs. ECB Saints at Sprayberry High…Rays won.

Will played several positions, including catcher, third base, and centerfield.

Elevated to second in the batting order, he gets a hit and knocks in two runs.

Thursday vs. Knoxville Thunder at Pope High…Rays won 8-1.

With Parker out until Sunday, Will starts at third base and makes all the plays, including starting a double play.

Friday vs. Team Georgia at Walton High…Rays lose.

Pitcher and umpire combine to strike out 12 of 21 Rays batters, who muster only three hits.

Will played third base again.

Saturday vs. ABA Braves (FL) at East Cobb…Rays lose 11-0.

The Rays only managed two bloop hits, though Will had two of the hardest hit balls. He hit a hard line drive right at the third-baseman, and made the centerfielder back up to catch his high drive. He also walked.

Will played third base, then was brought in to pitch the fifth, with no out and the bases loaded.

The first batter hit what would’ve been a double-play ground ball, but since the infield was playing in, it got past the second-baseman for a two-run single instead. The next hitter hit a grounder to the first-baseman’s right, and beat Will to the first base bag for another infield hit. Will got the next batters to foul out, strike out (on 3 pitches), and fly out. He threw 16 pitches, and broke one of the opposing player’s bats with a pitch.

Sunday vs. Jacksonville FL Warriors at Walton High…Rays lose 7-6.

Will started in centerfield for the first time, and caught two fly balls in four innings.

Batting leadoff for the first time all year, Will walked twice and stole a base, getting a huge jump on the pitcher.

In the fifth Will was brought in to pitch with no out and runners on second and third…and pitched out of the jam with no runs scored.

He struck out the first two batters, then got the third batter to hit a checked swing dribbler back to the mound. After allowing a leadoff hit in the next inning, Will started a 1-6-3 double play, then fielded another dribbler for another 1-3 out.

Wednesday they play a 5 pm doubleheader at Chattahoochee High, in Alpharetta.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

vs ECB Astros

Matthew took this picture a few weeks ago, from behind the plate on East Cobb field one, in the game against the 16U Astros.
Perhaps the apex of his baseball career.

May recital

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday Grab Bag

Friday was Matthew’s last day of acting camp. Said he had a big role in the play they’d been practicing. Early in the week he and friend Daniel choreographed and performed a dance routine. Now he laments that “everyone is copying us.” We went swimming again Thursday night.

Only made it to the last half inning of Will’s Thursday game, at Pope. They beat a Knoxville team 8-1. Will made several plays at third, including starting a double play. Using a wood bat, he went 0-3 (strikeout, 5-3, and F2). Seemed down about his hitting after the game. He didn’t play the last two innings, so he went down to the cage and hit.

I haven’t run the stats, but he’s got to be among the team leaders in OBP. Tuesday and again yesterday Will batted second. Seems like whomever they bat second struggles: first Richie, then Parker, now Will. Parker may just be out of town this week.

This week’s tourney admission is $10 a game, or $30 for the weekend. Ceil was astounded, and felt like Robin Hood sneaking in the back way. Game this morning at Walton, then a teammate’s pool party. Anna has one as well. Tonight C & I are going to a Shakespeare play at Oglethorpe.

While the Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers unis are generally ranked near the top, many consider the Braves to have a classic uni as well. A couple of years ago I was getting tired of the tomahawk, but this year I’m really liking it. Heyward wears it well…there are so many pictures of him. Every time he bats I’m amazed about how skinny he is, standing sideways. Didn’t see the collision with McLouth.

Thursday night I noticed the Dale Murphy picture posted on Rowland’s Office…in the royal feather uni. Not many Braves wore the feather, the red pinstriped Messersmith uni, the early 80’s powder blues, AND the tomahawk, like Murphy did. Wish the Braves would wear striped socks. Zito is wearing some this year.

Tuesday I finally read some OLD magazine articles I had been carrying around, for years. A June 1988 Sport article on Roy Campanella, by Ron Fimrite. A 1989 Ralph Wiley SI article on Andy Van Slyke. The same issue had an article on baseball unis, just two years after the Braves brought the tomahawk back. In it Tommy John said the old Milwaukee Braves unis were the best all time.

I always forget about the DBacks first unis. They didn’t wear them so loose back then. Should the championship uni be kept, since it was special? If they were my team I might feel stronger about it. I do like the shade of red they wear. When they changed, it got a big write-up in UniWatch, of course.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Friday Split

The Rays split two Friday games in Nashville, beating the Music City Outlaws 11-8 in the afternoon heat at Nashville Christian School, then losing the nightcap 10-1 to the 18U Ohio Elite at Lipscomb University’s Dugan Field. Will went 1-2 with a HBP, scored two runs, and stole three bases. He didn’t get much action in left field.

Seven of the first eight Outlaws reached base in the top of the first, and the Rays quickly found themselves down five runs. RT then pitched three scoreless innings, allowing the Rays to get back in the game.

Leading off the second, Will reached first and stole second. Dustin was hit, and both advanced on a wild pitch. Will scored on Cole’s grounder, and a balk plated Dustin.

The Rays took the lead in the third. Parker walked and Bradley was hit, then Tyler slugged a three-run home run to tie the game. Will was hit, but Dustin’s grounder forced him at second. Cole’s single and AJ’s walk loaded the bases, then Dustin tagged and scored the go-ahead run on Austin’s sacrifice fly.

The offense kept it up in the fourth, rudely greeting the Outlaws’ new relief pitcher. Jake reached on a dropped third strike and Parker singled. Bradley then hit a three-run homer of his own. Tyler doubled. Will hit a grounder off the third-baseman’s outstretched glove, that bounded to the shortstop. The shortstop threw the ball way, allowing Tyler to score. Will stole second and third, and scored when the catcher’s throw got past the third-baseman.

There were a few bright spots in the loss to the older Ohio Elite, supposedly the best team in Ohio. Fowke struck out the 2-3-4 hitters in order in the first, after a leadoff double. He later struck out the leadoff hitter. In the second he only allowed two unearned runs.

But after calling mostly strikes for both teams in the first two innings, the strike zone suddenly shrank in the third. When the second Elite batter took ball three, the umpire waved him to first. Everyone, including the batter, was astounded. The Elite scored two in the second, three in the third, and five in the fourth. Ritchie did make an outstanding catch in right field.

Will scored the lone run for the Rays, pinch-running for pitcher Tyler, who was hit by a pitch to lead off the fourth inning. Will stole second, advanced to third on a balk, and scored on Cole’s sacrifice fly to left.

Jake and Dustin both went two for two, and Tyler and AJ went one for one.

Will was brought in to pitch the last inning, giving him experience against the tough competition. He struck out the first two batters he faced. After a walk, he got the number three hitter in the order to hit it back to him. He lunged to his right to field the ball, almost diving to the ground, before getting to his feet and tossing over to Kyle at first.

Wood Bats

With the NE-based media, Strasburg can have an average season and beat out Heyward for ROY. He could make the All-Star game. Even Uni-Watch had him as the lead story yesterday. We’ll see how this year’s wunderkind works out. Will’s teammates were talking about him over the weekend.

Wednesday night I took Will to get a wood bat last night, for his games this weekend. Teammate Richie bought one just before their practice yesterday…and cracked it during practice. Will hits so many off the handle, I won’t be surprised if he doesn’t break his.

Will’s head coach is a great guy, with a dry sense of humor. He heard I have been recapping some of the games on Facebook, and asked if I could friend me. Monday I sent him an upbeat but wordy response, telling how many of the recaps focused on Will, since they were written for his grandparents. I attached the recap from last week’s ten inning win, but I haven’t gotten any feedback. The recap included a few negative sentences about the Titans’ comportment…perhaps that’s why. I’ll have to talk to him about it.

Money worries never seem to end. I thought our spending would slow down during the summer, but it hasn’t much. It was good for the whole family to take the Nashville trip together, but it sure ran up the cost.

Saturday Night Win

The Rays scored four two-out runs in the top of the seventh inning, then held on to defeat an older Georgia Baseball Academy team 6-5 Saturday night at Overton High School.

In the Rays down 3-2 going into the seventh, Will led off and reached first on an error and stole second on the first pitch. Cole then laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt, advancing Will to third. But a strikeout put the Rays one out from defeat. Dustin walked, then Kyle hit a ground ball. The third-baseman couldn’t reach it, and the shortstop had to go deep in the hole to backhand the ball. Kyle hustled down the baseline and beat out the infield hit, driving in Will to tie the game. Richie walked on a full count to load the bases. Jake singled to center, and Dustin and Kyle scored, giving the Rays the lead. Later Richie scored on a passed ball, the first miscue by the Joe Mauer-like Ga BB catcher.

Down 6-3, the Peachtree City team tried to rally. The leadoff hitter hit a bouncer up the middle. Playing second, Parker made a fine play to get to the ball, but his throw to first was not in time. When the next batter hit him another grounder, Parker tossed to shortstop Will to get the force at second. After a walk brought the tying run to the plate, Will was brought in to relieve Connor, and promptly struck out the first batter he faced.

This brought up Georgia’s number three hitter, with two out. The lefty drove a high fly to deep left field, that sliced away from Kyle. The ball just glanced off his glove, but Kyle got it in quick, holding the batter to a two-run double. Up by one run, the cleanup hitter was intentionally walked. Will then struck out the next batter to secure the victory.

Other game highlights:

Austin pitched three scoreless innings, striking out two and walking none.

…Connor also pitched well, only allowing two hits in three innings.

…The Rays played errorless defense.

…Jake went 3-4 with an RBI, stolen base, and run scored.

…In the sixth Jake singled with one out, stole second, and scored on Bradley’s single to right.

Will scored the first run of the game, reaching on an error in the second. AJ sacrificed him to third, then Will scored on Dustin’s RBI grounder. Getting his first start of the summer season at shortstop, Will had two putouts and three assists.

One more key play: AJ led off the fifth and hit a grounder to short. When the throw sailed high, AJ rounded first and headed for second. He had to slow down to avoid the umpire, who then called AJ out on a literal bang-bang play at second. AJ had slid in head-first, and laid motionless for several moments afterward. The coaches went out to check on him, and walked him off the field to polite applause. Richie’s mom Denise was enlisted to help patch the cut below his chin. Will incorrectly announced to the crowd that he was fine. Instead, father Jose took him for another emergency room visit, where he received six stitches. The next day Steve had the joke of the weekend, when he had AJ thinking he was to catch half the game.

Sunday Thriller

The Rays won three exciting come-from-behind games in Nashville this past weekend, two of them in their last at-bat against 18U teams. The excitement grew with each game, culminating with Bradley’s bases-loaded single to drive in the winning run late Sunday afternoon. Here is a rundown of the Nashville games, from last to first:

ECB Rays…………..5

Nashville Cyclones…4

After surrendering two runs and three hits to the first three Cyclone batters in the Sunday afternoon game, Dustin retired the next ten batters in order. He finished with seven strikeouts against just one walk, and allowed only two more hits from the next twenty batters. He received excellent defensive support: First-baseman Tyler made a nice backhanded catch of a line drive hit right at him, and Austin made a difficult catch in left, sliding on his knees.

The Rays slowly crept back to tie the game, scoring single runs in the 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 6th. ..all by the leadoff hitter in each inning:

2nd…Will hit a line drive single up the middle, stole second & third on consecutive pitches, & scored on Cole’s grounder.

4th…Bradley reached first, stole second, and scored on Tyler’s double to left.

5th…Austin walked on a full count, advanced to second on RT’s grounder, and scored on Jake’s two-out single to right-center.

6th…Bradley doubled to left –center, stole third, and scored on Cole’s single to left.

Jake came on to pitch a 1-2-3 seventh, striking out two of the three batters.

With one out in the bottom of the seventh, pinch-hitter Kyle reached first on an error. Connor ran for him, and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Jake was then intentionally walked. Parker hit a potential game-ending double-play grounder to the shortstop, but the Cyclone infielder made his second error of the inning. Bases-loaded, one out, winning run on third.

The corner infielders played in, and the outfielders were drawn in as well. The shortstop and second-baseman stayed at double-play depth. Bradley stepped into the box and worked the count full. By this point in the weekend, I felt confident the Rays would win. I was just excited to be able to watch how they’d do it.

The Cyclone pitcher delivered the payoff pitch, and Bradley pulled a line drive. The second-baseman leaped and stretched his glove arm high. Were he to snare it, he could possibly double one of the three runners off base, and win the game with a double play. Instead the line drive soared over his mitt and landed safely in right-center field, for the game-winning base hit. The team streamed out of the dugout and mobbed Bradley as he crossed first.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Blind As The Proverbial Bat

Rough day last Thursday…I left my glasses at home.

M is at an acting “camp” this week. Anna might take an art class. She returned from NC after five days.

Will’s team beat the elite East Cobb Titans 3-2 in ten innings last Tuesday. He came on to pitch the 10th after they went ahead in the top of the inning. Will also closed the earlier game. I stayed up late and wrote a recap, that I’ll send separately.

Will went to yesterday’s Braves game with the pack of older girls who’ve been coming to his games. His game was rained out last night, so they played at 10:30 this morning, and won.

Will said he talked Ceil back into going to Nashville tomorrow. He really wants to go see Tampa play the Braves.

Got another new phone, this one a little more modern, but not much. I was just getting used to the one I got in late February.

Nashville Weekend

Got the van all packed up and was all ready to leave on time Friday morning, then M went crazy. He was hitting on W and A, already upset that C had lost his iTouch (several weeks ago, but he wanted it for this trip). C got upset and said they would all stay home. I had to get Will to his game, so I quickly loaded what we needed in my car and left.

By the time we hit Chattanooga C had calmed down. She had really been looking forward to the family trip, as had I, so I told her to get in the van and come, since she was all packed. She made good time and arrived early in the 3 pm EST game. Friday night they played at Lipscomb University stadium, and it was too late to eat anywhere except Jack In The Box…the group that ate Mexican had a bad experience.

With no game Saturday til seven, we explored Nashville . Went to Vanderbilt and explored an old row of shops similar to Virginia Highlands . At lunch near campus at San Antonio Taco Company. Next to the campus was the huge Centennial Park and the replica Parthenon, which Matthew wanted to see. Then we went downtown, to the avenue of country music shops, bars, Ryman Auditorium,etc. M got a guitar pick holder. Went back to the hotel so M could swim. Anna finished a James Patterson book Friday, and started another one Saturday.

After the Sat 7 pm game a big group ate at Pie In The Sky Pizza, which was good. Eight players shared a huge twelve topping pizza. As usual, M had a big time hanging out with all the older kids.

C departed late Sunday morning for home, stopping for a late breakfast at Cracker Barrel. After some rain at noon, the clouds disappeared. With a 5 pm game, some of the group saw Robin Hood, which they didn’t like. A larger group decided to go to the Adventure Science Museum/Planetarium, which turned out to be for elementary school kids. After the game Will and I left Nashville at 8 pm EST, didn’t stop, and got home by 11:45.

I had thought the Lakers would run away with this, but perhaps the Celtics will put up a fight. Will and heard most of it last night while driving back from Nashville .

I don’t see me being a big texter…we’ll see. I do know several dads to keep in touch with their teens by texting, moms too. We have a vendor who communicates best by text, so that might help. Will, of course, texts all the time. He drove part of the way to Nashville , so I spent some time orienting myself with the phone. Updated my Facebook status a couple of times. Took a few pictures…now I have to learn how to do something with them.

Heard that Andy was preaching at his dad’s church on Sunday.

Ranking The East Cobb Baseball 16U Teams

Will’s team is about 4th best among the 16U group:

1. Astros…beat Rays 13-1. 27 players from all over the country.

2. Titans…Rays beat them 3-2 in 10 innings, but it wasn’t a top pitcher.

3. Rangers…had beaten the Rays twice, both close games. They recruited Will.

4. Rays…the best team Will has ever played on.

5. Brewers…haven’t played the Rays yet. Several of Will’s teammates from last year play on the Rangers (later in the season the Brewers twice edged the Rays).

6. Patriots…Rays are 2-0 against the Patriots.

7. Diamondbacks…Rays are 1-0 against the DBacks.

8. Saints…Rays are 2-0 against the Saints, and also beat the 18U Saints.

With at least 130 kids of just about every age from 8 to 18 playing, just because you’re on an East Cobb Baseball team doesn’t necessarily mean much. That’s over 1,000 players. If you’re not on one of the top two teams, iy's basically just another travel team. I'm told none of the Ranger’s players know each other, that they drive long distances to play at East Cobb.

In Nashville, all the other teams were geared up to play (and beat) East Cobb teams.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Worth a Thousand Words

Rays Topple "Elite" ECB Titans

The Rays won a ten inning thriller, beating the elite East Cobb Titians 3-2 in a come from behind pitcher’s duel. Michael Fowke struck out seven in nine innings of work, not allowing an earned run or even a walk, while throwing an economical 100 pitches.

.....Parker scored the eventual game-winning run in the top of the tenth, when the Titan first baseman couldn’t handle Tyler’s hard grounder.

.....With the one run lead, Will came on to pitch the decisive bottom of the inning. After hitting the leadoff batter with a 2-2 curve, second-baseman Cole threw out the next batter for the first out. Will then made a nice play on a swinging bunt, getting the second out at first. After an intentional walk and down 3-0 to the next batter, Will threw three straight strikes to end the game.

.....The Rays scored first, when Cole hustled home on a second-inning wild pitch. The Titans took the lead with two unearned runs in the bottom of the third.

.....Then Fowke finished his gem, not allowing another runner to third for another five innings. He spread out Titan hits over the nine innings. His low pitch count allowed him to stay in the game for so long. His pitches per inning: 9-13-15-8-9-12-3-12-19. Of the 35 batters he faced, Mike only went to a 3 ball count on five of them.

.....Down a run going into their last at bat, Austin struck out to lead off the top of the seventh. But when strike three skipped to the backstop, he made it to first base. Ryan G struck out trying to bunt pinch-runner Richie into scoring position, then Dustin also went down swinging for the second out. But the third-baseman couldn’t handle Jake’s grounder, giving the Rays runners at the corners.

.....Parker blooped a fly ball into short centerfield. The hustling centerfielder charged the ball. Were he to catch the ball, the game would end with the Titans on top. The Titans are East Cobb’s second-best 16U team, perhaps a top-ten team nationally. But one batter was pinch-hit for, called back after entering the batter’s box. Another was castigated for not allowing a pitch to hit him…in the head. The Titans did hustle and keep their shirt-tails neatly tucked, but they committed four errors.

.....Inexplicably, the centerfielder pulled up to play the hit on the bounce, allowing Richie to easily score the game-tying run. Jake couldn’t venture far from first, but he easily made it to second. Three innings later the stage was set for the extra-inning heroics of Parker, Tyler, and Will.

.....The Rays also played well in their earlier game, but fell apart in the sixth, allowing six unearned runs, and the 15U East Cobb Astros won 9-6. One of the top five 15U teams in the country, the Astros scored a total of eight unearned runs off the Rays, I was told.

.....Bradley slugged a two-run home run, and Cole drove in at least two runs. Parker scored at least two runs. Will was hit twice, went 2-2, and drove in a run.

.....Dustin pitched well in defeat, allowing one earned run in 5-2/3 innings. Will pitched a 1-2-3 seventh, starting a double play, then finishing with a strikeout.

Memorial Day Weekend

We really didn’t do much this weekend. Friday evening after spaghetti and meatballs, C took A to a friend’s. Will tagged along. A went with that family to NC until Wed or Thursday. M and I hung out at home.

Sat I woke up and cleaned the upstairs. Will spent the day cleaning the neighbor’s overgrown backyard. I drove C and M to Decatur . Dropped Ceil off at the sewing shop. M ate Chickfila, I had Checkers. We walked around N Dekalb Mall, looking for at wood bats at Play It Again Sports, for Will. Picked up Ceil, then cruised downtown Decatur , looking at the crowded Arts Festival. Hit the Dekalb Farmers Market, where M ate a few wings. Later M and I went to Target for a webcam.

Watched several episodes of Andy Griffith, then Barkley compared Kenny Smith’s suit to Matlock/Andy.

No Sunday School, so Matthew rode home with me, while Will helped Ceil in preschool. I drove M crazy with all the errands I ran on the way home…Dicks and Sports Authority looking for bats, Goodwill, Moes (he liked that), BP for gas, Kroger, and then I got a haircut. Folded clothes while watching the Braves. Swam with M until the rain hit. That night C cooked brisket, ribs, and peach cobbler, which M devoured.

Cleaned again Monday morning, then went to a cookout. Will’s games were cancelled, but he had indoor BP.

As expected, Ceil is wavering about going to Nashville this weekend. There is a shower for Jim Voyles’ daughter.

Excited to have friended three old Macon stalwarts on Facebook this weekend…

…my old offensive coordinator, who writes quite effectively for a 64 year-old football coach,

…my dad’s ex-pastor friend who I’ve known for years, who recently wrote a book,

…the long-time sports columnist for the Macon newspaper, who probably knows my dad.

KK pitched well Sunday. Missed the 8th inning heroics of Chipper, McCann, and Heyward. Listening to a syndicated radio show yesterday, a caller opined that Heyward could compete for MVP. I hear they signed a Cuban OF buddy of Escobar’s, and sending him to Gwinnett. Chipper seemed to have come around, and his OBP is over 400. Think he’ll retire?