Monday, October 25, 2010


Really busy getting ready for vacation the rest of the week.

Went to see The Odyssey Friday night, put on by Georgia Shakespeare at Oglethorpe. Afterwards I got in the car and turned on the radio, and heard the final out of the ALCS.

Did not have a good time Saturday at the Clemson game. Football is so emotional, and I’m so analytical. Made a list in my heard of reasons, perhaps I’ll write them down.

High point: Went into an art supply store in downtown Clemson before the game. Lots of stores sell T-shirts and such, and this one and various fan items as well. In the back of the store they had authentic Clemson helmets, a different one for every time they changed the helmet…over 20 in all. You could buy them for around $350.00 each. They might’ve bought them from

Stayed home and watched yesterday. Cleaned up all day. About 9:30 last night my back was about ready to give out.

Van in shop today, which isn’t good.

Mack's Funeral

Mack Johnston’s funeral was last Tuesday in the chapel at Johnson Ferry Baptist. The place was packed. I estimated over 330 people were there, literally a standing room crowd. There were almost as many young people in attendance as there were grownups.

When I arrived Tammy was standing in front greeting everyone, seemingly in good spirits. Christy and a few others stood at Abby’s side. Leann was off to one side, in a larger group of girls that included Margaret and Emily. Tall, fair-haired Connor Smith stood with Spencer, behind Abby.

The service was simple. A pastor opened with remarks and a prayer. An unseen bagpipe played Amazing Grace. A nationally known apologetics speaker read verses. Mack had done volunteer work for his organization. A girl from Independent Studies played guitar and sang a song.

Then a friend of Mack’s delivered a most meaningful and personal eulogy, using the analogy of going from a “sprayer” to a “player” in golf. He met Mack in Brett Smith’s Sunday School class. Recounting the progress of their friendship from acquaintance to close friend, he added personal anecdotes of his own, as well as others from their weekly Christian Leadership group.

From prayer journals and personal conversations with the Johnston’s, he spoke personally to each family member, and recounted Mack’s spiritual growth as a husband, father, and man of God……acknowledging the fruit of the Spirit in his life. “Eight out of nine ain’t bad!” was his joke.

About Abby, he said Mack was fortunate to have a 17 year old daughter able to shoulder the responsibility she does. Mack was also fortunate that Spencer inherited Tammy’s good looks and calm disposition (as opposed to Mack’s!). Leann received Mack’s sense of humor. He liked how she’d sit and watch football games with him. The youngest was Mack’s baby.

Living Science was well-represented: Alyssa and Elizabeth, Kara, Sarah, Jordan, Tia, Joanna, Marshal and Allison, Lucy and Lynn, Charles and Becky Norman, Sandy, Connor’s parents, Christiana, Christine, the other Connor Smith family, and Lauren Cain. There may have been more.


Let us often remember, dear friend, that our sole occupation in life is to please God. - Brother Lawrence

October 25, 1948

Both Dave Cowens and Dan Issel were born today.

Bobby Knight, Zelmo Beaty, and Bobby Thomson also have birthdays today.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Long Live Melky

On 680 Wednesday AM Laurentino was complaining about Giraldi going against the book, putting that run on base by walking the clutch hitting David Murphy to get to the light-hitting catcher Molina. Mazzone came on and said sometimes you gotta go with your hunch.

But everyone blasted Cox for sticking to his book, all the lefty / righty matchups and such. Fredi could very well take the Braves to another level, but the players have to perform.

Dumping Melky was met with overwhelming approval, both on and the Rowland’s Office blog that I read. Saito did ok when he wasn’t hurt, but with Venters/Dunn/Kimbral/Moylan around, that’s more salary space to find an outfielder.

Long day Tuesday. Will’s alarm went off at 3:45. I drove him up to Living Science for his 5 am departure. Got to work at six, after stopping at McDonalds & BP.

At one I drove to JFBC for Abby’s dad Mack’s funeral. Over 300 crammed into the JFBC chapel for the simple service. The minister and a “nationally known apologetics speaker” were quite plain. I don’t think the teen soloist was a close friend of the family, but I could be wrong. She didn’t look thrilled to be there…her mother may have volunteered her.

But then a friend of Mack’s delivered a meaningful, personal, humorous, and spiritual tribute, speaking directly to each family member. Wonderful message. Mack’s Sunday School teacher had been basketball wizard Connor’s dad.

Made it back to work by 3:30, and worked til 6:30. Lots to do before I join Will next week, both at work and at home. Last night I couldn’t get off the couch to go to bed, watching both the ALCS and the GT replay.

Saw the plans for the new GT arena. Looked like they kept the dome, but perhaps it’s a new one. Interesting that seating is decreasing.

Tozer Tuesday

Faith is not a once-done act, but a continuous gaze of the heart at the Triune God. Tozer

Monday, October 18, 2010

Weekend Baseball

Typical game for Will: Two nice hits, then he got overaggressive and swung at the first pitch, grounding to short. He also took his eye off a grounder, preparing to start a double play…and dropped it.

Two interesting plays: the centerfielder forced a runner at second, and the rightfielder threw out a runner at first. Both were tailor-made one-hop line drives to the outfield.

A teammate made three nice defensive plays in one inning. What made it funny was he was playing second and tagged out a base-stealer for the first out, on a lightning-quick tag. Then he switched to first and caught the throw from the rightfielder for the out, then made a line catch of a line drive for the last out.

Parker’s dad said Friday was homecoming at Lassiter. Parker’s brother, the crazy/popular/mascot Spencer, was on the court. The parents had to go out on the field with the court. Fredi Gonzalez’s son was also on the court, so everyone was shaking Fredi’s hand.

Great Braves blog currently on details what the Braves off-season issues will be. Many “fans” won’t read the blog, and will complain about not signing Carl Crawford, etc. Long, but good.

It’s only a matter of time before the Phils/Yanks are in the Series. I’d love to see the Giants and Rangers advance. Fox wouldn't.

Social Event of the Season

The Whitaker party was nice, at South City Kitchen in Vinings/Smyrna on South Atlanta Road. There were almost 30 people there, sitting at two long tables. We were fortunate enough to sit at the “family” table, with all the Whitakers, Claire’s in-laws, and one other older couple that we knew. Ceil and I were actually one of the younger couples there, so I got to talk to Lang a bunch. Sat next to his wife Isabel and got to chat with her as well.

Reid had asked Lang to say a few words, and Lang had asked me for ideas. I volunteered to write/read a Top Ten list, and he readily accepted. I thought this would take place after dinner. But as soon as we were seated Lang addressed the gathering. Easy crowd…everyone was laughing at everything Lang said, and my list was a hit as well. Lang’s mom Edie couldn’t stop laughing, which was good.

Sat across from Claire’s brother-in-law Jeff, who’s one of the North Point KidStuff actors (the tall, skinny skateboarding one…Vinny?). His mother was in a women’s Bible study Ceil attended this summer. It was the first time I’d seen Ron Watts since Judy had died.

Sunday Matthew and I went to Johnson Ferry for the twin’s dedication. Only saw a few people that I knew, besides the Whitaker crowd. They all go to the service in the gym.

Friday night Will went to the home school football game, and Anna went to a low-tech party at Roswell Area Park: campfire, crafts, s’mores, hot chocolate…just a bunch of 14 year olds running around the park. C, M and I saw Toy Story 3. It was Ceil’s first time.

Took Will to his game Saturday morning. With an hour to kill, I went for a walk. Ceil called with bad news. Will’s friend Abby, who I’ve often spoken about…her dad had a heart attack and died Friday. He was my age. Abby has three younger siblings. Funeral tomorrow at Johnson Ferry.

Sunday afternoon Anna had another social gathering in Alpharetta. I had to pick her up. Also blew off the driveway. Will practiced baseball. Nice to hear him flustered about his hitting. He studied and packed…he leaves tomorrow on his trip.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Top Ten Little Known Facts About the Whitakers

I thought about coming up with some “You Might Be a Whitaker If…” lines.

Instead I uncovered…


10. Guinness Book of World Records has recognized Reid for most foul shots attempted in a lifetime. Backyard Division.

He’s on track to break the “foul shots MADE” record early next year.

9. Having gone through over fifty coffee makers, in 1999 Reid & Edie were admitted to Mr. Coffee Hall of Fame.

Unfortunately Reid had choir practice, and missed the presentation by Joe DiMaggio.

8. They were awarded 2008 Hospitality Couple of the Year by the Greater Destin Chamber of Commerce (if you don’t get that one, you're not good enough friends with the Whitakers).

7. Just before dinner I received the following inside information: Today the entire staff at Second-Ponce accepted early-retirement packages. Reid was named Music Minister, and Edie Senior Pastor.

6. Due to the tremendous success of the Early Childhood School, the recently dedicated ten story East Wing was named after Edie.

And the basketball arena was named after (look at Reid, then Lang)…Claire.

5. After a 1979 Family Fun Night at Second Ponce, talent scouts offered young Lang & Claire a contract to sing on the Brady Bunch Variety Hour. They declined, and were replaced by a toddler named Drew Barrymore.

Claire! That could’ve been you! (That was for my Oscar clip). Hey, it’s tough digging up several thirty year old pop culture references.

4. Recent plumbing problems were attributed to pipes crushed by the weight of Reid’s baseball card collection. The flooding lowered Reid’s net worth by DOZENS of dollars. Reid, I’m joking, of course. The losses were in the three figures. LOW three figures.

3. Buckhead Coalition Chairman Sam Massell, representing the area’s fine dining establishments, will present Reid & Edie with a special plaque commemorating their streak of 20,000 straight nights eating out.

By the way, Sam was pretty upset that you’re dining in Smyrna tonight.

2. If you think I was kidding about the 20,000 restaurant visits, I asked Reid to bring his list detailing them all (hold up thick old book).

1. Young Claire turned out to be a little more perceptive than Reid & Edie imagined. When they told her I was their adopted big brother, she immediately saw through the “adopted” scam, and realized that I was indeed her actual real brother. Why do you think they let me speak at these things?

Happy anniversery, Mom and Dad!

Eating. And More Eating.

We’re eating out to celebrate the Whitaker’s anniversary. Lang said his dad asked him to say a few words, which sounded like The Office to me. He asked me for suggestions, so I gave him a few. He has something in mind. I wrote down some stuff as well.

Sunday his sister’s twins are being dedicated at Johnson Ferry, so I may go there.

We’re taking another inventory today, so there’s been lots of food. Donuts, pizza, and ice cream cake. No supper tonight.

Went out to lunch yesterday with the Ogre, so I didn’t need supper yesterday either. I had been planning on complaining about two coworkers, but he beat me to the punch. I know he knows, so I tried not to pile on.

Will and Anna have big things this weekend. He has a game at noon.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Booby Retires, Fredi Takes Over

Nice tributes to Bobby, starting immediately after the game. Cody Ross, Bruce Bochy, Verducci, Stockton, and Brenly. Later the TBS guys gave consider time to Cox, more so than about the Giants winning. Even most of the Rowlands posts have been nice. Still a few jerks on Buck & Kincaid.

Glad Fredi gets the job. Pendleton takes Hubbard’s place at first base. He left before the Cox press conference, carrying some personal possessions. Snitker and Roger attended, and will likely stay. Perhaps they’ll promote that batting coach that helped McLouth so much. Mark Bradley opined he’d rather have an outsider like Jose Oquendo, just to be different. Bradley did have a nice story on Conrad’s contributions.

Though many of the Rangers are familiar to me, the Rays are more likeable to me. Can the Phillies be stopped? Perhaps in the Series.

After hearing a Hewitt on the radio, and reading about him in the AJC, I know that everything that comes out of his mouth is said with an eye on covering his back. I think he’s more concerning with himself than to use a comment like that to inspire a team to greater things.

I’m sure ultra-competent GT AD “DRad” is not fooled, and is doing everything possible to produce the best possible GT basketball outcome…with or without Hewitt.

Will’s game was rained out last night. So I didn’t go to the library.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Oct 11 Braves Live Blog

The TBS pregame "experts" were gracious in their comments regarding the recently deceased, I mean benched, Brooks Conrad. The entire tri-state area has talked this subject into the ground. Cox opted for the veteran Glaus over the rookie Diory, who only had nine 2010 at bats. The slumping Heyward was moved down to 6th in the order, the lowest he's hit since he went on the DL in June. I'm glad to see the more dependable Diaz and Ankiel in the outfield, and hope the Giants don't test Glaus with bunts. Hopefully this lineup shakeup will prove benefial.

No spellcheck on the note thing, so hang on.

FIRST: Lowe sets them down in order in the top of the first. Two nice plays by Gonzo. The TBS guys noted Lowe's above average record pitching on three day's rest, and were impressed how he grabbed the mike last night and told the nation that he "wanted the ball." Sounds good to me...I haven't seen Derek this pumped his entire stay in Atlanta.

Same in the bottom half: three flyouts to center. Nice catch on Diaz's shot.

SECOND: Then Lowe sets down three more, with two strikeouts.

McCann hits it hard, but right at the first baseman. Gonzo strikes out looking. I swear the "Fox Track" adjusts to put every called strike at least on the edge of the strike zone. Gonzo wasn't brought here to hit .300 - it's apparent many fans have unrealistic expectations of him. I like his intensity. Before I can type that Heyward needs to be more aggressive, he lines the first pitch into right field for a single. Besides the aggressive play, it shows he's not trying to pull the ball. I have a son that needs to take note.

ERROR! Fontenot throws high to second. With two out, Ankiel walks to load the bases. Lowe gives it a ride...right at the rightfielder. Got to get me one of those Snazzy Nappers!

Those who attended last night's game were impressed by the atmosphere. Louie Giglio was at the "Sid Slid" game, and compared the resulting overflowing joy to what heaven will be like.

THIRD: Infante makes the play, a tough chance on a slow roller. Stockton says Omar is more comfortable at second, though he did make at least one error there against last week against the Phillies. Then two more strikeouts! Lowe's thrown 41 pitches, with 6 of 9 first pitch strikes.

Two straight hits for the Braves! As I've said, I think these announcers are doing a fine job. They're hitting all the topics in a timely fashion. Lee moves Infante to third. McCann swings 3-0, and misses. Full count. High drama for the third inning. RBI! Infante scored on McCann's sac fly. it's the Braves first pre-8th inning lead of the series.

Gonzo keeps it going with a line drive single to left-center, but Heyward strikes out. Atlanta has already matched last night's hit total, and have doubled the hits from game one. Stats courtesy of beat-writer Mark Bowman, sitting next to me. OK, he's tweeting over the phone sitting next to me.

Verducci told a nice story about McCann, laughing at himself for tripping over the bat last night.

FOURTH: With 3B Glaus playing in, he can't cut off a tough grounder Gonzo must backhand. The shortstop can't handle it, giving the Giants their first baserunner of the game. McCann nails the base stealer! He's been throwing great against the Giants, thanks in part to David Ross' help. Even better tag by Gonzo. Infante makes a nice scoop for the second out, then Lowe ends the inning with a strikeout. After four, he's faced the minimum. 57 pitches, 35 strikes.

Uh oh. Ceil's back. Might have to take a break and help with math homework, or do the dishes. I love those Conan commercials. You know the big guy sitting behind the Giants dugout in clear camera view, who goes to every game? His wife has come out of the woodwork for the playoffs. Sunday Isaw him talking to the guy sitting to his right.

Glaus strikes out. Hensley Meulens is interviewed. Quick! What's his nickname? Winner gets a shoutout.

FIFTH: Six pitch inning for Lowe. So I've sat here at the table the whole game, and it's getting kinda uncomfortable. But the Braves are winning, so I'll stay.

Game Four Fun Fact: Both teams have worn a different uniform for every game. The Braves have worn a different jersey each night: navy, grey, red, and white. The Giants wore their traditional home unis, their orange Friday jersey, their Sunday orange-billed cap, and tonight's traditional road uni. Thought you'd like to know.

Infante strikes out. Diaz & Lee are retired as well. We're moving along.

SIXTH: After a strikeout, Cody Ross slugs a first-pitch homer on a line into the leftfield bleachers. Tie game. No more no-hitter or shutout.

HOME RUN! McCann matches Ross with a first-pitch homer of his own. Braves lead 2-1. His third postseason HR. I saw his first, off Roger Clemens in 2005. I was also at the game against the A's when he got his first homer. Jealous?

Heyward singles, and breaks up the double play. Gonzo and Ankiel strike out. So what do you think about Hereafter, that new matt Damon movie?

SEVENTH: Hard grounder, easily played by Infante. Glaus has already made at least two nice plays. Soon as i type this, Glaus can't charge a slow roller fast enough, and posey has an infield hit. Much to the delight of the fans, Lowe talks Cox into letting him stay in the game. But after a five pitch walk loads the bases, Cox puts in Moylan. Lowe shouts an obsenity, but leaves to a huge ovation.

Gonzo's high throw draws Infante off the bag, and the run scores. Bad call? I think so too. The Braves need all the breaks they can get.

Venters and Diory in, to fave the veteran Rowland. Over-managing? Today I read in SI how sometimes the key matchups occur in the mid-innings, while some managers save their best relievers for the ninth. Not here. STRIKEOUT! But the next pitch is grounded through the hole into left. Diaz guns down Pat Burrell at the plate, but the Giants have scored the go-ahead run.

Diory bats for only the tenth time all year. He's wearing number 19, made famous by Fransisco Cabrera. He works the count full before flailing at strike three. Melky pinch hits, and promptly grounds out.

EIGHTH: Whatever happens, Will screams. Venters still pitching. Edgar beats out Gonzo's long throw. "NO!" screams Will. Strikeout! Double play!

Lee strikes out, but McCann singles to left. McLouth pinch runs. Gonzo lines to short...DROPPED! Did he not run to first? It's easy to assume the catch will be made, and not run. These players make it look easy, but playing baseball on such an elite level is not at all easy. Heyward's struggles continue: another strikeout to end the inning. Conrad sighting: he would've pinch hit next.

NINTH: Venters pitching, Huff singles to right. 2011 closer Kimbrel strikes out Posey, then induces an inning-ending double play.

Conrad faces baseball's 2010 save leader. Fly to center for the first out. Light-hitting lefty Ankiel hits, with last-night's hero Hinske on deck. He's the last position player left on the bench. Ankiel walks, putting the tying run on first. Can lightning strike twice? At the season's most crucial moment, I see two people in the front row...texting. Hinske walks...tying run on second, winning run on first. Hudson runs!

Infante bats. A 2010 all-star, he led the NL in hitting for most of the year. He had numerous big hits. But tonight he goes down on a checked swing. Down to their last out, it's...Melky. 5-3 groundout. It's over.

Bobby takes one last bow, and everyone cheers: the crowd, the Braves, even the Giants. Nice words from Cody Ross, who almost tears up talking about him.

If I told you in April the Braves would lose Chipper, all-star Prado, McLouth, Medlin, Jurrigans, O'Flanery, and Wagner to injury. Kawakami would flop. Glaus would earn player of the month, then fade. That Heyward would fade in September. But the Braves STILL make the playoffs. Severely undermanned, the media praises the Braves, who take the Giants to the brink in all four games.

Blame Cox for the loss? How about praising him for getting them this far!

Who Is to Blame?

Going into Monday’s game:

Heyward batted .140 in his last 17 games, with one RBI & 19 strikeouts.

He went 0-12 with 7 strikeouts in the first three postseason games.

Infante batted .197 in his last 17 games.

The team batted .214 in their last 15 games.

In the first three postseason games they batted .165, with 37 strikeouts.

Brooks Conrad:

…batted .350 with a 2B, 3B, HR, & 6 RBI in last 6 regular season games.

…led Braves with a .378 avg with RISP this season (4th best in the NL).

…led Braves with a .313 avg and 1.115 OPS in close-and-late situations.

…had 10 extra-base hits in 48 close-and-late at-bats, including a team-high 5 HR & 17 RBIs.

…1st time a Brave hit a walk-off grand slam when down by 3 runs since 1955.

…one of 4 players to put his team ahead with a bunt hit in the 9th inning.

…5th player in last 60 years to hit two pinch-hit grand slams in same season.

…1st player to hit three go-ahead HR in 8th inning or later off the bench since 1995.

…4th rookie in Braves history to win a 1-0 game with a home run.

(Stats courtesy of Mark Bradley and Dave O'Brien)

And we won’t even talk about Melky.

Defending Derek

A comment Monday night set me on a research project. After a Derek Lee strikeout, he was suddenly “a MAJOR disappointment.” A quick glimpse of the facts tells a different story.

When the Braves traded for Derek Lee, they were well aware of what they were getting. They knew his 2010 year to date statistics, and that he was suffering from back trouble. At the time the Braves needed a cheap bat to replace the injured Chipper Jones. Troy Glaus was also struggling badly.

The team did not want to pay a high price for a replacement, and traded three obscure pitchers from the lower minor leagues for Lee. Had Lee been a complete flop, Atlanta would’ve lost little on the deal.

Instead, with these expectations (and considering the statistics below), Derek Lee in fact far exceeded any expectations the Braves had. The Braves still made the playoffs with minimal contributions from Chipper, Prado, Medlin, Jurrigans, McLouth, Glaus, Saito, and Kawakami.

In the following key categories Lee’s Braves statistics EXCEEDED his career averages:

RBIs: one RBI per every 5.3 at bats with Braves (career = every 6.4 ABs)

Doubles: Lee doubled every 2.7 games with Braves (career = every 4.4 games)

Batting Average: .287 with Braves, .282 for his career.

On Base Percentage: .384 with Braves, .367 for career

Fielding Percentage: .997 with Braves, .994 for career

These Braves stats also exceeded Lee’s 2010 Cubs stats, as did:

Slugging Percentage: .465 with the Braves, .416 with the Cubs.

A similar argument can be made for the value and veteran leadership that shortstop Alex Gonzalez brought to the team, replacing a team cancer, the erratic Yunel Escobar.

Lee wasn't the only one to struggle in the postseason, squaring off against the best pitching staff in baseball. After exceeding all expectations, to label him a major disappointment is quite unfair.

Tozer Tuesday

True religion leads to moral action. AW Tozer

Monday, October 11, 2010

Weekend of Sports

Stayed up Friday night to watch the thrilling win. Will went to bed early, since he was taking the SAT Saturday morning. I was sitting on the far end of the couch, a rare seat for me. But I sat there most of the game, typing a running commentary of the game and responding to comments from other Braves fans on Facebook.

Later I moved to the kitchen table, but when the Giants loaded the bases I figured I’d better go back to my lucky spot on the couch. Not much later Glaus turns the clutch double play. A friend in Macon said to stay put, and asked if I needed anything from the kitchen.

Earlier Friday evening I took Matthew to see Toy Story 3. Sweet movie, especially if you’ve seen the first two.

Saturday I stayed upstairs until about 1 pm, cleaning and swapping out the winter clothes with summer ones. Then I shifted the operation downstairs, folding and boxing while watched GA/Tenn, SC/Bama, and Clemson/UNC.

Ceil wasn’t happy, because Clemson played poorly, and SC beat Alabama. When SC took the lead I wasn’t worried, figuring the SC QB would screw up, and the Bama running backs would wear down SC. But Saban didn’t stick to the ground, so SC won. Having a good RB and WR sure helps.

If Clemson keeps playing bad, maybe Tech will have a chance. Good to see that Louisville transfer have a good game for Tech.

For the third straight weekend I started sneezing. While watching the first two episodes of “The Event” with Will, I realized I was wheezing. A Mountain Dew helped, but the asthma continued all night long. Mtn. Dew has lots of caffeine, which stimulates/clears blocked passages in the lungs. Not as strong as real asthma medicine, but it did the trick.

When I was a kid I couldn’t go anywhere without my inhaler, and I also took daily pills and weekly shots.

Once I had a small asthma attack at the stadium, before my high school football game. The trainer had to drive back two miles to the locker room to get my medicine. After that I carried my inhaler with me to the sidelines. Now I might have an “attack” once or twice a year.

Stopped by Kroger Sunday morning on the way to NP for more Mt. Dew, and was feeling better by the time I got home from church. Did more organizing and laundry as I watched the Falcons, Colts, and Rangers/Rays. After the Braves loss I watched the third episode of The Event.

I’d been worried that The Ogre wouldn’t let me off to go on the Living Science trip, since it will be month-end and a co-worker already has off. He had put off making the decision, then was quite busy and we hadn’t talked much. But he was quite gracious, even declining my offer to work remotely. Made me feel real good. This morning I could tell my two co-workers most affected weren’t thrilled.

At first I tried to rationalize Conrad’s errors. None of the three were routine. But to win in the playoffs when you’re already shorthanded, you’ve got to make those three plays. I just don’t think Cox has many infield options. He sure didn’t last night.

During yesterday’s game beat-writer Mark Bowman kept tweeting/texting with an updated count of how many EXTRA pitches Hudson had to throw just because of Conrad’s errors. At one point the tally was 25 extra pitches.

Was just reading in Sports Illustrated about how important good relief pitching is in the postseason. They mentioned that Philly’s bullpen is weak. Nice they have such good starters.

October 9, 1970

Annika Sorenstam and Kenny Anderson were born on the same day: October 9, 1970.

No Real Option

I probably took too much offense at several fans emotional reactions to the end of Sunday night’s game. Everyone was ripping Conrad (and Bobby for not pulling him) but no one was offering alternative solutions. Late last week DOB wrote of the conversation he had in SF with a national writer (Verducci?) who looked at the Braves roster and was amazed how shorthanded they are.

Diory only had nine at bats all year, and only two since September first. As good as Cox is about getting backups at bats, the Braves were too busy fighting for a playoff spot. Those plate appearances went to corner infielders and outfielders. I’ve heard nothing lately from the team or beat writers about Hinske playing third, and don’t recall him playing a single inning there all season.

I thought Bobby might pull another double switch later in the game, like he did Friday night/Saturday morning. He could have after Glaus pinch hit. But when Melky and McLouth came in to play the ninth, that left Diory as the only pinch-hitter (and position player) available on the bench. Had Diory replaced Brooks and someone gotten hurt, Derek Lowe or Beachy would’ve had to play outfield (and McLouth the infield).

No way Conrad plays tonight. Whether Glaus or Diory, I’m not sure how much better off they’ll be. For an offense that managed only four hits Sunday, they need all the offense they can get. If Conrad were to play, the blame or credit for the outcome will indeed fall on Cox.

Very few of those blasting Cox and Conrad yesterday were posting celebratory messages early Saturday morning after the Braves won. On Sunday many were crying for more offense. That’s the only reason Conrad was playing. “Fans” also forget that Conrad virtually replaced last-years scapegoat, that pinch-hitter that did so bad. Conrad is the THIRD-string second-baseman.

As much as I hope Fredi is the new manager, we’ll see who all the Cox-bashers blame next year if a stronger Braves team falls short of the NLCS. The bullpen should be stronger, especially if they’re not overused. The starters and position players should be healthy, the rookies more seasoned.

That said, Cox does make moves that drive me crazy. In the ninth he went through three pitchers. Had he stuck with Kimbrell, they might’ve come out of the inning tied.

Friday Thoughts on Lincecum's Gem

Watched the Thursday game to the end. Quick game. Lincecum had great stuff, and the Braves were chasing balls out of the strike zone. Conrad is a tough cookie and will want to stay out there, but if he makes another error we might see Diory. At least both official errors did not lead to runs.

I think Diaz and Ankiel are better choices than Melky and McLouth. Ankiel can’t hit, but he hustles, doesn’t make dumb plays as much, and is the best fielder. Hard to hit with Lincecum is on his game, while missing three All Stars. Don’t know if the Phillies or Yankees could’ve done much better.

Lowe is slated to pitch Monday on three day’s rest. Hudson was pulled in the sixth after throwing 96 pitches. That’s a nine inning pace of 169 pitches (151 after eight).

Was just reading about how Gehrig once hot four homers in one game.

Slow Friday at work, with EZGo closed. Trying to get caught up.

Since the in-laws couldn’t make the trip down, we took Matthew out for his birthday. Can’t believe he wanted to go to O’Charleys. He was thrilled to get clothes as presents. His favorite was a simple V-neck sweater.

Anna is going on a NP retreat this weekend. Not much else on tap, except putting up summer clothes and getting out the winter ones.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Friday Night Live Braves Blog

Here were my thoughts as the Braves played the Giants this past Friday night:

Stockton and Brenly both rip Melky for "taking his time"...on TWO plays in the first two innings.

Mark Bowman points out that Hanson was overthrowing in the first inning. He's pumped, and needs to calm down. He does strike out four in the first 3.3 innings. Then five in 3-2/3.

Had Gonzo been correctly ruled safe at first, after Ankiel's single Hanson would've bunted them over with one out...putting two in scoring position for Infante. Surely Bobby pointed out that it was the umpire's second blown call in two games. Cox hadn't been thrown out of a postseason game since 1996.

Heyward pulls one down the first base line, barely foul. Catcher Posey and third-baseman Sandoval collide. Posey holds onto the ball. Had either been hurt, it would've changed the series.

I'm hearing fans say the Braves need to get their offense going. While true, I'm not sure what the expectations should be. The Giants led the NL with the lowest ERA. The Braves are without three All-Stars. Chipper and Prado on the DL, and May's player of the month Glaus a shadow of his former self. McCann seems to be pressing at the plate, as does Conrad. Like Hanson, they need to relax. Do these same fans ride the Reds for failing to tee off on Halladay? Was that Dusty's fault? Sometimes you gotta tip your cap to the team with the huge salaries.

Farnsworth was up in the pen, but now it appears Dunn will relieve Hanson. Would be nice for Ankiel to reach, so Hanson could bunt. Ankiel has now hit two balls hard tonight. Some will say "Bobby" needs to stick with his starters longer, but down four runs, they need all the offense they can get. McLouth pinch hits early, saving Hinske and Glaus and Diaz for later.

Heyward grounds into a DP. It happens...that's baseball. Bowman had just tweeted that it was the first ime the Braves had two runners on base in the series, obviously. But it came with two out. They'll need more opportunities / baserunners for someone to get a clutch hit. That will be tough against Matt Cain.

Pac Bell is a great place to watch a game, though it's freezing at night, even in the summer. Reliever Dunn appears short-sleeved. I was fortunate enough to see a game there a few years ago, just days after Bonds hit his 755th home run. We saw him hit 758, and received a commemorative pin.

Lee doubles and McCann drives him in, but Melky "drives his hitting coach crazy" by dutifully falling into Cain's trap, popping out to left for the second time. Conrad K's on a high pitch: "Conrad can't lay off." But one run is a start. Time for more late-inning heroics.

Another break for the Giants: The hit strikes the third base bag, and sails into left field. But Moylan holds SF scoreless.

Conrad makes a great play at second base. Actually it was much harder than it looked: As Brooks dove with his glove skimming the ground, the ball bounced high. Conrad had to make a last-second adjustment just to catch the ball. In the 7th Conrad knocks down a base hit up the middle. No error.

Again Heyward can't produce a clutch hit. Should the rookie be expected to carry the club? Repeating myself, people are quick to ask "What's wrong with the Braves?" quickly forgetting about the injury decimated lineup and pitching staff. Some say Bobby Cox did his best-ever job of managing this year, getting this rag-tag bunch into the playoffs. From here, isn't everything gravy?

Lee and McCann again collect back to back hits. Brenly correctly opines that the first baseman Huff comes off the back early, trying to sell the out to the umpire. Lee scores on Melky's dribbler, and Conrad sacrifices the runners up a base. Gonzo ties the game with a clutch double. Even though the fan interferred, both runs would've scored anyway. Even on the road, the Braves are in a good spot, with the Giants digging into their bullpen. Steal a win in SF, and it's a brand new series.

Stockton, Brenly, and Verducci are making all the right observations, giving both teams equal time. Though I'd like to hear Joe Simpson or even Ernie Johnson, these guys do just fine. They even discuss uniforms for the second straight night.

Thinking about the offense next year: No one will want McLouth's contract, the Braves will probably be stuck with him. Hopefully they'll GIVE Melky away. Lee and Glaus are free agents. Freddie Freeman will be the first baseman next year. That's a good thing. With Prado and Chipper back, Infante can play left or center. Don't know if Diaz will be back. He had a tough 2010 season, missing time and playing hurt. A friend who knows more than me thinks a White Sock can be signed to play left cheaply: a chubby slugger named Andruw.

Back to the action. Lee JUST misses a ground rule double, the ball landing less that a foot foul...then strikes out. With McCann ripping the ball tonight, that foot may be the difference in the game. Pitcher Brian Wilson: thick black beard, his hair not so much.

Lee makes another fine play at first. He's been hitting tonight, but contributing for two months with his glove. Once more Stockton says what I'm thinking. Kimbrel makes Lang nervous, working so quickly. That's better than working slow. Strike three...EXTRA INNINGS!

McCann gives it a ride, and Brooks rips it down the line...right to the first baseman, practically straddling the line. Smart play.

Tough time to try Glaus at third, but the double switch was almost required: the pitcher's spot is due up second next inning. Wagner got in Glaus's way on Renteria's bunt. NO! Wagner is hurt. One out, winning run on second. As Billy limps off, Verducci and Stockton pay tribute to the retiring veteran.

Farnesworth loads the bases with a HBP and 3-2 breaking ball, bringing Posey to the plate. GLAUS IS A GAMER! He takes a HUGE chance, not throwing to the plate. Troy's throw to second could've been better, but Infante stretches for the force, then turns the DP. Lee pumps his fist. Glaus may have just earned a Sunday start. On to the 11th!

HOME RUN! Ankiel hits it into McCovey Cove. He'd been ripping the ball all night. It was ten years ago that he couldn't throw a strike against the Braves. Does this make Venters the closer on Sunday?

NOW...can Farnsworth close the deal? Stockton makes me nervous, delivering the credits with only one out. Sure enough, base hit. Fly to right...TWO OUT. Two strikes, then Farnsworth almost throws it away. Popup...BRAVES WIN!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Playoff No Hitter

Got home Wednesday night after taking A to art class, and let M finish watching his cartoon. Only at 7:30 did I flip to the game, as the top of the 8th was ending. At first I thought it was just the Philly crowd being rowdy as usual, but I caught a glimpse the zero in the hit column a second before the commercial.

If the Braves lose to Halladay/Hamels/Oswalt/Werth/Howard/Utley/Rollins juggernaut without Chipper/Prado/Medlin/Jurrigans/Saito, whose fault will it be? I know what the “fans” will say. Wonder what the excuse will be next year.

We’ll see how long I can stay with the Braves tonight. They come from behind so much, it hasn’t mattered if I was watching or not.

Didn’t see Frenchy’s double. I’ll be on the lookout for him. Will be interesting to see where he winds up next year.

Don’t know what to think of UGA or Tennessee. Could be a good game.

I had been worried about W driving from Woodstock to east Lilburn at 6 pm, but some friends offered him a ride. This elite ballet company that Anna didn’t make has asked Will to play Jesus in their late November pageant. Not a good idea, considering how busy he already is.

We’ll probably go out to eat tonight.

September Book List

The Hornet’s Nest, by Jimmy Carter (fiction)

Thomas Paine, by Craig Nelson (biography)

The King of Torts, by John Grisham

The Judas Strain, by James Rollins

The Post-American World, by Fareed Zakaria

Disinformation, by Richard Miniter

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Hooks Outscore Royals 32 - 1

Will was once again the most productive player on his team Tuesday night as the Hooks won 15-0. At the plate Will went 3 – 3 with a double, a walk, and two runs scored. He was the only player to reach base four times.

He pitched two scoreless innings, striking out three batters. Playing shortstop, he made a lightning-quick catch and tag to put out a base-stealer at second.

I drove up just as the game was about to start, and was walking toward the field as the pitcher threw the fist pitch of the game. Will pulled a hard grounder right over the third base bag into left field for a double. He took third on parker’s groundout, and scored on Mitch’s single up the middle.

In the second Will walked on four pitches, advanced to second on an error, and scored on Wes’ double.

As Will prepared to lead off the third, I reminded him to relax and hit to right field. He hit the first pitch into right field for a single. He hit the ball off the end of the bat, causing his gloveless hands to sting. Parker’s grounder forced Will at second.

In the fifth Will timed a 1-0 pitch perfectly, and rocketed a line drive into rightfield for another single. He advanced to third on Parker’s walk and Wes’s single, where he was stranded.

I missed Saturday’s 17-1 win due to a meeting at Living Science. Will had to attend the meeting as well, before leaving early for his game. He said he changed and was walking up to the dugout just as the game was to begin. His teammates saw him, and called out for him to go ahead and bat in his usual leadoff spot. So he grabbed his helmet and bat, and stepped into the batters box without warm-up.

Will played his usual game, scoring two more runs. He played centerfield, shortstop, third, and catcher.

Chap Meeting Story

At the senior retreat chap meeting Mr. Landrum was explaining what goes on during the evening large group time. As he explained Who What Where, he added that the chaperones would be expected to join in. His face brightened, and he recounted the chaperone Who What Where from last year’s retreat.

“Last year the chaperones performed a hilarious Who What Where. I don’t remember exactly what they did. I think they just made up something, and didn’t even pull out the slips of paper from the jars. But it was funny. I think Mr. Mason made it up.”

Sitting in the back of the room, I cracked up. Mr. Mason had played the lead role of Mr. D in the short skit:

Who: The Living Science Retreat Caravan

What: Looking at Wildlife

Where: On Bio Lab Road in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Indeed, we hadn’t pulled these out of the jars. I had hastily made up the skit, and helped cast everyone in a role. That way everyone else could play the fool, and I could stay out of trouble. I figured Board Member Jim wouldn’t get chastised for playing Lance. I WANTED Mrs. Hanson to get into trouble, so she was cast as Mrs. D. Mr. Taylor stole the show, pretending to be an alligator. Ad-libbing, someone wrestled him.

While I was perfectly content to let Mr. Mason take the credit (he was not at the meeting), the incident was slightly typical of my life. At work I often help co-workers (both local and around the country) in areas of my expertise, though my superiors have little clue. I also monitor all the fabrication orders for our Atlanta complex, scrubbing the list and keeping it current. These are areas outside my job description.

On our account I also help out on many other tasks without my supervisor’s knowledge, allowing things to run smoother. Many times I struggle with flying under the radar. I always go back to the verses saying God will reward in secret, to not make a show of good deeds. Does this apply to these situations?

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

My Postseason Roster

I doubt Cox will only put three starters on the Division Series roster. That means Minor or Beachy makes the team, if Jurrigans can’t go.

And Cox won’t include all his rookie relievers, will he? If Saito is still hurting, Farnsworth gets the nod over Martinez.

Does Freeman make the team over an extra reliever? I say yes. As usual, the Braves will carry three catchers.

My wish list:

SP: Lowe, Hudson, Hanson

RP: Dunn, Kimbrel, Martinez, Moylan, OFlaherty, Venters, Wagner

1B: Lee, Freeman

2B: Conrad

SS: Gonzalez, Hernandez

3B: Infante, Glaus

C: McCann, Ross, Boscan

RF: Heyward, Hinske

CF: Ainkel, Cabrera

LF: Diaz, McLouth