Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ball Ground

Not working on Friday. Look like I’ll be taking Matthew somewhere. Saturday I hope to watch Tech, probably while folding laundry. Supposed to go to a party one night, via surface streets for 30 miles north in Ball Ground.

The other party is in Milton, 15 miles north on the same surface street route. Ceil still has her cough, and Anna feel pretty poor.

Wednesday night Ceil and I ate at PF Changs. I had the Sweet & Sour Chicken and Ceil had Buddha’s Feast. We also had spring rolls.

I ought to tell where the young crowd goes for lunch every day. They talk about it all morning, and it’s always an adventure. Wednesday it was Five Guys. Thursday it’s a Chinese buffet.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Funnies

Do you still read the comics? They aren’t as good as they used to be. I used to read a bunch of them. Sometimes I’d get interested in Steve Canyon, usually when the boys were playing football. I’d usually LOOK at Dick Tracy more than I read it. Dagwood was one of my faves. Started reading Mary Worth after another comic strip made fun of it. I never really like Pogo, but I formed that opinion as a kid, and never gave it a second chance.

There is one antique shop just down from the fire station that Ceil likes to frequent, but I’m sure there are others.

My work neighbor drove to SE Missouri on Wednesday. He’s been buried trying to handle the Whirlpool account. Tuesday I was helping him, and Wednesday I had plenty of work to do.

Tuesday night I took Ceil to Perimeter Mall, to return some things she’d bought. I was starved, so I cashed in a kids meal coupon at Chickfila. Then I traded the toy for an ice cream cone.

Watched some of the Kennedy Center Awards. They were honoring Meryl Streep, Neil Diamond, Yoyo Ma, a jazz musician, and a lady Broadway singer from Atlanta. Lots of stars took part: John Lithgow, Bill Cosby, Kevin Klein, Anne Hathaway, Stanley Tucci, Glenn Close, Lionel Ritchie, etc. Interesting to hear some actors sing, that normally just act.

Will and MC went to David Norman’s birthday party.

Found out a young guy here at work lives on Greenwood Avenue, down in Virginia Highland. I used to live on that street as well. Another guy lived just down from Greenwood, across from Grady High.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas

Thursday night I left work shortly after 5 pm, but traffic was gridlocked in Roswell. I circled around the Centennial High Kroger, where traffic was worse. Everyone in the right turn lane was going straight, passing the hesitant drivers in front of me. No Christmas spirit at all. Pouring down rain when I stopped at the stinky Kroger and El Porton. Took five minutes to change clothes, then drove the mile to our small group party. That total commute took two hours.

We watched the Las Vegas Bowl at the party. Will drove back from Cartersville to attend. Ham, turkey, mac & cheese, cheesecake, and lots of fixins. A buddy told the joke of the guy who didn’t get into heaven because he loved money: he even married a girl named Penny.

Friday we woke up, packed, and left for SC around nine. Went up 85 so Will could shop the Nike Stores for shoes. Neither the Commerce and Gaffney outlets had what he wanted. Ate at the Cook Out in crowded downtown Gaffney: BBQ sandwich (with slaw), rings, chicken quesadilla, and cherry cobbler shake. Arrived in Jefferson around 5:30.

Saturday I went grocery shopping with Ceil, and visited her aunt and cousin. Her cousin was distributing $60.00 worth of chocolates and other sweets into everyone’s stockings. He said he loved that stuff. Then he introduced us to his new girlfriend…named Candy. When we left, I had to call my friend to tell him.

The kids went over to Uncle Lennie’s to mess around. Will and Anna wanted to shoot his pistols, but they couldn’t without me or Ceil there. Will hit golf balls on his backyard driving range. Saturday night we had chili.

Sunday we had turkey, ham, chicken salad, shrimp, salsa, artichoke dip, spinach dip, pimento cheese, tossed salad, and two congealed salads (cherry and lime). Desserts included apple pie, ice cream, ambrosia, coconut pie, chocolate cake, brownies, and pecan pie. We had at least 23 for the late lunch. I hardly ate any supper.

Monday morning I packed up my stuff, and as much Christmas stuff as possible. Did some laundry, and organized everyone else’s stuff. Will went over to Lennie’s to shoot. Anna played with her cousins, and C and M went shopping in Charlotte. I left Jefferson around 1:30, and arrived back in East Cobb at six.

Plenty to do here at work this week. It took over two hours for Thomas to removes the virus from my laptop this morning. Ceil was sick most of last week, and W and A aren’t 100%.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Aaron Murray < Andrew Luck

One of my pet peeves is hearing “experts” on sports talk radio throw out comments as if they are fact. Few call them on it, but actually the statement couldn’t be further from the truth.

Friday Chuck Dowdle was talking with an ex-UGA lineman whose spate of injuries ended his fledgling NFL career. He wants a post-football career in radio. He’s getting off to a good start, saying UGA sophomore Aaron Murray had stats equal to Stanford’s Andrew Luck. He also said Murray will be a “front-runner” for the Heisman Trophy next year.

I decided to compare. Luck’s numbers held a substantial edge in EVERY statistical category. Since Murray was only in his second season as a starter, to be fair I compared Murray’s stats to Luck’s second-year stats. Once again, Luck’s stats dwarfed Murray’s.

QB…yards..TD.INT..comp..att…avg…rating…comp%.rush…avg
AL…3170…35…9…261…373…8.5…167.5…70.0%....153…3.6
AM…2861…33..12...218…371…7.7…146.4…58.7%...116…1.5
AL2...3338…32…8…263…372…9.0…170.2…58.0%...453…8.2
DG….2924…22…8…218…379…7.7…137.3…70.7%

I thought it would be more applicable comparison to compare Murray’s stats to those of record-breaking UGA QB David Greene, when he was a sophomore. Even though more passes are thrown in today’s game, this comparison proved more “equal.”

Friday, December 23, 2011

Connor and Goliath

Had a good time at the Saint Francis/McCallie high school basketball game Tuesday night. We went to see Will's former teammate Connor. I knew McCallie would be a tough opponent…the prep school in Chattanooga. Connor's dad told me one McCallie player had signed with SW Missouri State (tourney MVP CJ Reese, above), and another has a few offers from Division 1 schools.

In the first half St. Francis played very sloppily, turning the ball over way too many times. After falling behind 4-2, McCallie went on a 22-1 first-quarter run, hitting four three-pointers. Connor was playing ok, but the McCallie defense was guarding him tightly. He grabs two rebounds and dished an assist, but missed two three-pointers, plus another shot.

Up 24-5, McCallie was able to coast the rest of the game, emptying their long bench. For the most part, St. Francis stuck to their regular rotations, and actually outscored their more talented opponent 46-40 over the rest of the game…thanks to a 15-3 run to end the game. They outscored McCallie 24-9 in the fourth quarter.

After being held scoreless in the first half, Connor came alive in the second. After a three-point attempt rolled out and a drive also missed, the senior was fouled making a sweet move to the basket. Connor made both foul shots, and later sank a three with 20 seconds left in the third.

In the fourth quarter Connor helped lead the late rally. He sank two more foul shots, forced a turnover, and scored off a rebound, and St. Francis cut the lead to twelve. Connor finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals, going 5-6 from the charity stripe. Connor was named to the all-tournament team, helped by his 18 point effort the previous night.

Connor had a big cheering section: Joel, Kevin, Haley, Preston, Lee, Will, and two other pals. Before greeting us after the game, Connor spoke with the coach at Oglethorpe. I also noted coaches from Clayton State and Reinhart watching the game.

I had a busy Tuesday...didn't get to work until 10:30. Stayed home to meet the insurance adjuster about the damage from the leaky pipe. Not good news.

Went over to the Hurts Wednesday night. They're all doing well. Will's classmate Alyssa and her family were there. She only got to play in one tennis match for West Point before she suffered a concussion.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Student of the Week!


This past Friday Will was named “student of the week” by WCNN-AM, an Atlanta radio station. He was chosen based on his extracurricular activities and community involvement. Friday afternoon another one of the 15 weekly winners was chosen as the Student of the Year.


Monday night Will and I ate Trader Joes orange chicken, with rice. At lunch Monday I had leftover vegetables and beef. Monday we watched the NFL Network, then two Seinfeld episodes.


Tuesday MC and Will rang the bell for the Salvation Army, at a WalMart in Cartersville. I made a to-do list, but only did one thing. Tuesday I have leftover roast beef. For dinner I had turkey chili.


When our neighbor moved out, he gave us a wall unit air conditioner. Will and I posted it on Craig’s List, along with several other items. No phone calls yet. Now I’ve got Craig’s List set up on my phone, so I can take pictures of an item and post it for sale. I need to post at least one item per day.


I hate riding with a co-worker driving too fast. I always remember riding across the Mississippi River bridge to lunch in Memphis with a co-worker driving fast because “there’s no police between the states.”

Monday, December 19, 2011

Miami Marlins: Contenders or Pretenders?

Recently I’ve heard several “fans” proclaiming the Marlins will be contenders next year, for the mere fact that they signed free agents Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Heath Bell. While the Marlins always give the Braves fits. Making a pricy splash in the free agent market doesn’t assure them a pennant run. Several points to remember:

Reyes won the NL batting crown last year with a .337 average, but it’s the first time since his 69 game rookie year that he hit over .300. Not that a career .292 average is shabby, but his career OBP is relatively low: .384 in 2011, and a mere .341 career. Reyes doesn’t walk much…just under 7% of his plate appearances. He strikes out more…11% of the time. Health is always an issue for players with huge contracts. The last three years Reyes missed an average of over 30 games a season. His lithe frame and headfirst slides make the shortstop an injury threat every time he steps on the field.

The addition of Reyes has caused current shortstop Hanley Ramirez to grumble: someone will have to change positions. Like ARod and Cal Ripken before him, Hanley’s career may be lengthened by a move to third base. But since management went out and signed another shortstop, Ramirez is mad. Only time will tell if this wound will grow into a clubhouse cancer.

Buehrle has been a good pitcher for eleven straight years: he’s won at least ten games and pitched over 200 innings every year. His 3.59 ERA was his lowest in the last six seasons, though his 3.83 career ERA is above-average (though far from HOF worthy). The long-time White Sock has a good strikeout-to-walk ratio, and a decent 1.282 career WHIP. In today’s market these stats guarantee a pitcher like Buehrle a significant payday, particularly when there are hungry teams like Miami in the mix. But Buehrle has won 15 games only once in the past six seasons, and his WHIP has been higher in the past two seasons. Is he beginning a downhill slide? Even if not, just because the Marlins give him an elite contract doesn’t mean he’s an elite pitcher. Buehrle is above-average, at best.

Will the pressure of living up to these big money deals cause these three to press? Reyes seems easy-going, and Buehrle is a vet. By virtue of his job, closer Bell seems the most likely to crash. He has a larger-than-life ego, so perhaps his psyche can be salvaged. But will his body hold up? At 34, he has averaged over 70 appearances in each of the past three seasons. Like Buehrle and Reyes, the possibility of injury can never be discounted.

Just because Miami had the money to spend doesn’t mean the Braves need to “respond” by immediately signing an elite shortstop or outfielder. None of the free agents or trade possibilities are attractive enough for Wren to pull the trigger on a deal. Both Prado and Jurrigans are rebounding from injuries Both could again post All-Star years, either would be enticing bait at the trade deadline next July. The braves have two shortstops moving up in the minors: should Pastornicky not pan, Simmons is just a year behind him. If Wren throws money at anyone, it should be centerfielder Michael Bourne.

For most of the 2011 season the Braves owned on of the four best records in baseball. This with a rookie first-baseman, two slumping sophomore outfielders, three injured outfielders, and a slumping second-baseman. There’s no reason they can’t go all the way in 2012.

NBA Top 500 By The Numbers

SLAM once ranked the top 500 players in NBA history. Some time ago I arranged many of the top 500 by their uniform number.

0. Orlando Woolridge, Gilbert Arenas

00. Robert Parish, Kevin Duckworth

1. Tracy McGrady, Kevin Porter, Chauncey Billups, Penny Hardaway

2. Alex English, Mitch Richmond, Larry Johnson, Joe Johnson

3. Allen Iverson, Dwyane Wade, Dennis Johnson, Chris Paul

4. Dolph Schayes, Dumars, Chris Webber, Adrian Dantley, Sidney Moncrief

5. Jason Kidd, Neil Johnston, Carlos Boozer, Danny Manning

6. Bill Russell, Julius Erving, LeBron, Walter Dukes

7. Maravich, Kevin Johnson, Jermaine O’Neal, Lamar Odom, Kelly Tripucka

8. Kobe, Walt Bellamy, Deron Williams, Andy Phillip

9. Bob Pettit, Richie Guerin, Marques Johnson, Randy Smith

10. Walt Frazier, Rodman, Nate Archibald, Joe Fulks, Tim Hardaway, Bob Love

11. Isiah Thomas, Bob McAdoo, Paul Arizin, Jim Pollard, Detlef Schrempf

12. Dwight Howard, George Yardley, Gene Shue, Fat Lever

13. Wilt Chamberlain, Steve Nash, Mark Jackson, Glenn Robinson

14. Oscar Robertson, Bob Cousy, Dick McGuire

15. Earl Monroe, Hal Greer, Vince Carter, Carmelo, Latrell Sprewell

16. Jerry Lucas, Bob Lanier, Cliff Hagan, Pau Gasol, Peja Stojakovic

17. John Havlicek, Chris Mullen, Kenny Sears

18. Dave Cowens, Bailey Howell, Lou Hudson

19. Willis Reed, Lenny Wilkens, Vern Mikkelsen, Don Nelson

20. Gary Payton, Maurice Lucas, Phil Smith, Manu Ginobili, Doug Collins

21. Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Dominique, Dave Bing

22. Elgin Baylor, Clyde Drexler, Dave DeBusschere, John Drew

23. Jordan, LeBron, Calvin Murphy, Frank Ramsey, Jeff Mullins

24. Moses Malone, Rick Barry, Sam Jones, Bobby Jones, Bill Bradley

25. Gus Johnson, Chet Walker, Mark Price, KC Jones, Jimmy Walker

26.

27. Joe Caldwell

28. Quinn Buckner

29.

30. Bernard King, George McGinnis, Terry Porter, Reggie Lewis

31. Reggie Miller, Jack Twyman, Shawn Marion, Cornbread Maxwell

32. Magic Johnson, McHale, Karl Malone, Billy Cunningham, Bill Walton

33. Bird, Jabbar, Pippen, P. Ewing, David Thompson, Alonzo Mourning, Grant Hill

34. Shaq, Hakeem Olajuwon, Barkley, Paul Pierce, Charles Oakley

35. Paul Silas, Larry Kenon, Darrell Griffith

36. Shaq (Celtics), Lloyd Neal

37.

38.

39.

40. Shawn Kemp, Bill Laimbeer, Mike Bantom, Marvin Webster

41. Wes Unseld, Dirk Nowitzki, Glenn Rice, Thurl Bailey

42. Nate Thurmond, James Worthy, Lucius Allen, Kermit Washington

43. Brad Daughterty, Mickey Johnson, Jeff Ruland, Grant Long

44. Jerry West, Elvin Hayes, Maravich, George Gervin

45. Rudy Tomjanovich, Phil Chenier, Purvis Short, AC Green

46.

47.

48.

49.

50. David Robinson, Ralph Sampson, Corey Maggette

52. Buck Williams, Terry Dischinger, Happy Hairston

53. Darryl Dawkins, Mark Eaton, James Edwards

54. Horace Grant, Luke Jackson

55. Dikembe Mutombo, Kiki Vandeweghe, Steve Stipanovich, Albert King

99. George Mikan

I see several of Lang’s favorites, including Ken Norman, Gerald Wilkins, Tree Rollins, Drew Gooden, Eddie Johnson, Spud Webb, Jason Terry, Stephen Jackson, Chuck Person, Steve Smith, Mahmond Abdul-Rauf, Kevin Willis, Theo Ratliff, Doc Rivers, Dan Roundfield, Shareef Abdur-Rahim.

Even at 486, I think Manute Bol was over-ranked.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Golf

After attending the 9 am service at NP, we drove downtown to play golf at Chandler Park. We hadn’t been there in several years. With a cloudless sky, the crisp sunshine made for a great day.

Arriving just after eleven, we feared encountering a crowd. But the lone car belonged to the cashier, who spend a great deal of time on the putting green. For the first seven holes we had the course to ourselves…so we took plenty of mulligans. I needed them.

1. Poor drives. Great approach. Sweet chip. I didn’t putt well all day. Both: double bogies.

2. Will: two poor drives. My first drive was great, but short. While Will looked for his ball, I completely flubbed several chips. Finally popped a nice one close. Both: double.

3. Wonderful drive hit close, and rolled to the fringe. W: double. D: bogie.

4. Nice drive, though it landed past the green. Again my chipping escaped me. Both: bogies.

Discovered the vast open area between 4 and 5 had been transformed into a natural wetland and lake.

5. Great drive, just short of the green. OK lag putt. Both: bogies.

6. Good straight drive that just missed traversing the long wetland. Had I known, I might’ve aimed right. Around this time my game left me. Will had his “best drive ever” at Chandler Park, and hit two decent approaches just off the green. W: par. D: triple.

7. Hit a couple of decent approach shots, and a nice chip. W: double. D: triple.

8. OK drive. Will’s drive wound up within putting range. I flubbed my approach, but it still wound up rolling all the way downhill…to within 15 feet of the hole. Will just missed his eagle putt. W: birdie. D: par.

9. Will hit another good drive just off the green, but he missed his par putt. Another flubbed approach rolled close to the green, and my long putt rolled close. W: bogie. D: double.

Will: 41
Me: 46

It was 1 pm when we drove away, giving us plenty of time to eat at the Vortex. It was our first time. The staff looked Little Five, but the patrons looked normal. Perhaps we should’ve split a humongo burger, but the regular-sized burgers were great. My tater tots were plenty, and perfect. Will’s fries were hot, but not very crispy or tasty.

When I walked out I ran right into Rich Morris. We immediately recognized each other, and had a nice chat. Walking away, I reminded Will that Rich had visited us at Piedmont when he was born. Before heading home we browsed a few stores.

Stopped for gas on the way home. Will blew the drive, showered, went to PCC, and then to a Christmas party.

Friday, December 16, 2011

When It Rains...

Wednesday night we discovered a water line had split in our master bath. Water has dripping down through the dining room ceiling. We had three buckets catching the water. Thursday our kitchen contractor came out and fixed it, but he had to rip a big hole in the ceiling, as well as the shower. Some of the wood is rotten, underneath the tile bathroom floor.

Will was leaving to go to a party, and we heard a terrible grinding. On his way home that afternoon his car and konked out. Still moving on a busy street, he tried to shift to neutral so he could re-start his car. He shifted too far, and for a second the car was in reverse. There was a terrible noise as the transmission grinded. Now his car won’t go into reverse. Repairing the transmission will cost more than the car is worth. When it rains, it pours.

Thursday Ceil picked Anna up from a sleepover, and took the kids Christmas shopping at Perimeter Mall. Last night I met them at the Outback Steakhouse near Claire’s house. Ceil and the kids were starved. I’d eaten chocolate/peanut-butter cheesecake at work, so I drank a lot of Diet Coke (I hardly ever drink it anymore). We got the spinach & artichoke dip. Will and I ordered hamburgers. M got the ribs, Ceil a steak and baked potato, and Anna a chicken sandwich. Last night I couldn’t sleep all night.

Bought a linen Masters vest, and a navy Ebbets Field Flannels wool baseball cap. Both very nice.

Friday we had a Christmas Luncheon at work. Turkey and ham from HoneyBaked Ham, plus mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy, sweet potato soufflĂ©, green beans, and iced tea from JR’s BBQ. Lots of home-made deserts: key lime cake, carrot cake, peach cobbler, and lots of chocolate.

Tonight C and A have tickets for the Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker. Anna’s longtime friend Molly is in it this year. With her parents in poor shape, Ceil will probably spend next week in Jefferson, along with A and M. Due to school and Ceil’s parents’ surgeries, we have yet to even decorate.

Another Damned Christmas Letter!

Our family wishes you a most Merry Christmas, with the hope that you had a wonderful year. We Murphys are doing well. It has certainly been a year of change for us.

Matthew turned 13, giving us three teenagers in the house. He continues to dabble in guitar and cartooning. He has become so involved at Passion City Church that people there consider Anna and Will to be “Matthew’s siblings.” He took up basketball, and returned to the diamond after a three year layoff from baseball. He and Anna worked with the homeless. In addition, Matthew has become somewhat of a fashion plate.

Anna is now 15 years old, and is learning to drive. After watching a musical in January, she decided to audition for “The Wiz” and landed a featured dancer role. Anna took art classes and babysits, and spends lots of time studying. According to my calendar she spent at least 55 nights away from home, on sleepovers, retreats, and vacations. On Mother’s Day Anna was baptized, at North Point Community Church. She participated in the world’s largest flash mob at Panama City Beach, with the NP youth.

Now 18, Will flew the coop for the summer, working as the youngest counselor at Camp Highland in Ellijay. There he became an outdoorsman, traversing the high ropes course, rock walls, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, and the like. This spring Will was named MVP of his high school baseball team, setting the single-season record for the highest batting average. In October he struck out 22 batters in nine innings. This year Will took trips to northern Kentucky, Orlando, Birmingham, and Mississippi. Currently Will is a dual-enrolled student, taking freshman classes and applying at colleges for next fall.

Once again Ceil did a great job home-schooling the kids and keeping the household running. She started back painting, while continuing to knit and sew. She worked one day a week at both the Veritas School and Living Science. Ceil was able to spend a week in Fredericksburg with her longtime friend, and is spending time in South Carolina helping both parents recover from simultaneous surgeries.

Dave enjoyed another year of scorekeeping, writing, and chaperoning the kid’s trips. He helped coach Matthew’s baseball team, worked backstage at “The Wiz,” and attended several Braves games. On Independence Day he ran his 24th Peachtree Road Race (Will’s eighth). Dave accelerated his reading hobby, devouring about forty books this year.

After attending North Point for eleven years, we have begun worshipping at Passion City Church. All three kids feel more at home there, as does Ceil. Will and Anna continue to teach at NP, and sometimes Dave tags along to worship.

After seven years of taking classes at Living Science Home Studies, in April we went on our last Spring Expedition to Jekyll Island and Cumberland Island. Will led, I chaperoned, and Anna and Matthew were Explorers. It was Will’s 16th trip, and my eighth. Anna and Matthew continue to be enrolled at Veritas. Of course, there’s always the chance we could return to Living Science.

In addition to the coastal Expedition, we took several other trips this year. The highlight was a June week touring Washington DC, with many thanks to the Virginia Broadwells for their gracious accommodations and hospitality. In July we joined the extended Miller family for our 19th annual Myrtle Beach vacation. We returned and headed to North Georgia, to visit Will at camp. There were additional trips to Macon and Jefferson, which included horseback and ATV riding, and panning for gold.

We look forward to more adventures in the new year, and hope to stay in touch with good friends like you.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Winning?

Seems like every little private school wins a "state championship"...when they really are only involved with a conference made up of less than ten schools. That's the way it was with Will's home-school baseball and basketball. They would play several teams that were greatly overmatched, that could scarcely field a team.

Will's baseball team will be playing a more competitive schedule, which is a good thing. One coach took a few other players and formed a new team. One player batted near the top of the order all year, but had the worst statistics of all the regulars. Don't know if parents complained. A big deal was made about all the stolen bases he had, but most were against inferior teams that had no chance of throwing him out. This year he would still have had to play outfield. This fall the new team was playing less competitive teams.

Guess it's similar to Matthew playing intramural basketball at a church, instead of sitting on the bench in a more competitive league, like Flight.

Some people take off 11-14 days at Christmas/New Years. I would go crazy. There's so much "stuff" I only get to do at work.

Comparison: Braun vs. Fielder

Late Saturday afternoon I saw contract details on the ESPN crawl, then they said they’d be back with news on Ryan Braun.

Knowing free agent Prince Fielder would be signing with another team, I decided to compared the stats of the two Brewer sluggers (RBI & HR totals for the last five years).

PL…RBI…..HR…AVG..OBP..SLG..OPS

RB…531…161…312…371…563…933

PF…565…200…282…390…540…929

Both had excellent 2011 seasons…

PL....RBI…HR…AVG..OBP..SLG..OPS

RB…111…33…332…397…597…944

PF…120…38…299…415…566…981

Milwaukee’s reasons for keeping Braun and letting Fielder go:

…Prince’s next contract will be too high.

…Prince’s massive body seems more likely to break down than Braun’s.

…Braun’s batting average and slugging percentage were higher.

…Braun’s OPS comparable to Fielder.

…Braun’s HR, RBI, and OBP nearly equal to Fielder.

How does Braun’s HGH suspension muddy the Milwaukee waters? It remains to be seen whether Braun can post such significant numbers without the use of banned substances. His 50 game suspension, coupled with the loss of Fielder, quite possibly has already taken the Brewers out of the 2012 pennant race. The signing of Aramis Ramirez will help, but its more likely that the magic is gone.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Durn 23 Year Warranty

For lunch Tuesday I brought leftover chicken and rice. Instead of dirtying up a Tupperware dish, I just brought the casserole dish to work. After lunch I put it under my desk. When it was time to go home I picked it up with one hand, but dropped it before I could set it on my desk. It shattered. Since my desk is in the center of the office, everyone’s eyes were on me. The dish was one of the few remaining everyday dishes we had received as wedding presents, over 24 years ago.

Last night we had spaghetti and salad for dinner. Afterwards I helped edit Anna’s paper on The Odyssey.

We are off two days for Christmas and two days for New Years. Hopefully I will be here at work every other weekday. Interestingly, Matthew’s regular Monday basketball practice is scheduled for Jan 2, during the Fiesta Bowl.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

College Bowl Picks: Part One

New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque)…Wyoming wins the battle of two 8-4 teams. Temple is favored, but has to travel too far. Dec 17.

Idaho Potato Bowl (Boise)…similarly, Utah State (7-5) beats Ohio (9-4) on the blue turf. Dec 17.

New Orleans Bowl (Superdome): Having faced superior competition, San Diego State bests fellow 8-4 team Louisiana Lafayette. Dec 17.

Beef O”Bradys Bowl (St. Petersburg): Local school Florida International (8-4) beats faraway Marshall (6-6). Dec 20.

Poinsettia Bowl (San Diego): TCU (10-2) beats Louisiana Tech (8-4). Dec 21.

Maaco Bowl (Las Vegas): Boise State (11-1) trounces 6-6 Arizona State. Dec 22.

Hawaii Bowl (Aloha Stadium): Southern Miss (11-2) loses their coach, but still beats 7-5 Nevada on Christmas Eve.

Independence Bowl (Shreveport): Missouri beats North Carolina. Both enter the game with 7-5 records. Dec 26.

Little Caesars Bowl (Detroit): Nearby Western Michigan (7-5) upsets 6-6 Purdue on Dec 27.

Belk Bowl (Charlotte): In a matchup of two 7-5 teams, NC State beats Louisville on Dec 27.

Military Bowl (Washington): Air Force (7-5) fought to be in this bowl. They’ll upset 8-4 Toledo on Dec 28.

Holiday Bowl (San Diego): Two 7-5 teams. Texas doesn’t want to be there, and Cal gladly supplies the upset. Dec 28.

Champs Sports Bowl (Orlando): Notre Dame beats a fellow 8-4 team, FSU. Dec 29.

Alamo Bowl (Hawaii): In Heisman Trophy winner RGIII’s swan song, 9-3 Baylor beats 7-5 Washington. Dec 29.

Armed Forces Bowl (Dallas): BYU (8-3) handles Tulsa (8-4). Dec 30.

Pinstripe Bowl (Yankee Stadium): Rutgers (8-4) crosses the river and takes care of 6-6 Iowa State. Dec 30.

Music City Bowl (Nashville): In a battle of 6-6 teams, Mississippi State outlasts Wake Forest. Dec 30.

Insight Bowl (Tempe): Oklahoma (9-3) narrowly fights off 7-5 Iowa’s upset bid. Dec 30.

Who's The Best?

SLAM ran a special issue on Who's The Best. In addition to the magazine’s picks, I’ve added my pick, along with Reid’s…

Magic Johnson vs. LeBron James...Magic won more championships. LeBron is more talented. Reid: Magic. SLAM - Magic

Isiah Thomas vs. Chris PaulIsiah won more championships, but Chris Paul is LOADS more talented. Reid: Paul. SLAM-Thomas

Kareem Abdul-Jabar vs. Hakeem Olajuwon…Kareem: more results (points/rebounds), and championships. Reid: Olajuwon. SLAM - Jabbar.

Larry Bird vs. Dick Nowitzki…Larry…greater will to win. Played through injuries, won more championships. Reid: Bird. SLAM-Bird

Elgin Baylor vs. Julius Erving…Dr J. Baylor had a better supporting cast. Reid: Erving. SLAM-Erving.

Patrick Ewing vs. Yao MingEwing was a more complete player, played longer, won more. Reid: Ewing. SLAM - Ewing

Wilt Chamberlain vs. Shaquille O'Neal…Wilt had less competition. Neither was a good foul shooter. Tough call. I’ll say Shaq. Reid: Wilt. SLAM – Wilt.

John Stockton vs. Deron WilliamsStockton did it over the long haul. Can Deron? Reid: Stockton. SLAMStockton.

Oscar Robinson vs. Jason Kidd…Kidd has played long enough to make this comparison valid. The Big O had more results. Reid: Robertson. SLAM-Robertson.

Bill Russell vs. Dwight Howard…based on championships, it’s Russell. Dwight has more talent & potential. Reid: Russell. SLAMRussell.

Karl Malone vs. Amare StoudemireMalone, based on results and longevity. Reid: Malone. SLAM – Stoudimire.

Jerry West vs. Dwayne Wade…this one may be closer than it looks on the surface. Both had help to win championships. I still pick West. Reid: West. SLAMWest.

Allen Iverson vs. Derrick Rose…Rose. The talent level is close, and Iverson’s attitude could bring down the team. Reid: Rose. SLAMRose.

Scottie Pippen vs. Kevin Durant…Scottie is one of the all-time greats, but he faltered without MJ. One day soon Durant could be ranked up there with MJ, even above LeBron. Reid: Pipp. SLAMPipp.

Michael Jordan vs. Kobe Bryant…close, perhaps. MJ was better at elevating his teammates. Kobe tries to do it all himself. Reid: Jordan. SLAMJordan.

'86 Celtics vs. '00 LakersBoston’s team play outduels the Shaq/Kobe combo. Reid: 86Celtics. SLAM - 86Celtics.

'89 Pistons vs. '03 SpursSpurs rise above Detroit’s physical play. Reid: 89Pistons. SLAM - 89Pistons.

'65 Celtics vs. '83 Sixers…Philly is too athletic for Russell and Havlicek. Reid: 65Celtics. SLAM - 83Sixers.

'70 Knicks vs. '87 Lakers…LA overwhelms Willis Reed & Co. Reid: LA. SLAMLA.

'72 Lakers vs. '96 Bulls…MJ & Scottie too athletic for LA. Reid: Bulls. SLAMBulls.

Second Place

Sunday Will came in second in his 2-1/2 mile road race at Rock Eagle, with a time of 15:17. It was his fastest race ever, averaging just over six minute miles. In the girl’s race, Mary-Clayton finished fifth. Shortly after arriving at the 4-H retreat, Will sat down for lunch and noticed the guy next to him was wearing a letter-jacket. On closer inspection, the jacket read “cross country state champion.” That night several boys in Will’s cabin spoke of running cross country.

Ceil’s mom had gall-stone surgery Friday, but was able to go home Saturday. Her dad is doing better, but usually patients having that back surgery stay in the hospital for at least two weeks. Ceil said the new GPS was invaluable. She returned Sunday evening.

Anna spent the weekend studying. She and Matthew rented the final Harry Potter and Monte Carlo, a Disney movie. Friday afternoon I had started feeling sick, so I spent the evening one the couch. Saturday morning I cleaned up upstairs, then did laundry. After Matthew’s game we stocked up at Trader Joes. I watched RGIII win the Heisman Trophy, then “The Marinovich Project” on ESPN.

Sunday I tool M and A to NP. They had a cute little middle school rock band play several Christmas songs before the service. After a study session M and A went to the 3 pm Christmas Party down at Passion. I read the first 45 pages of a JFK Assassination book (the CIA did it) before the Passion service. Will and MC arrived late, after missing a turn on the interstate.

FaceTime

Monday night supper was chicken and beef burritos, with Trader Joes corn chile salsa.

After supper Anna went off to study. Before Ceil got up, she started checking the “FaceTime” option on her iPod. Push the Facetime button, and it’s like a video phone call. Matthew took his iPad upstairs. First Will grabbed my iPhone and connected with Ceil. Then he got on Ceil’s computer, and connected up. Ceil connected with Anna’s iPad. M connected with me, then Will got connected on his laptop.

Yesterday Ceil’s mom was home recovering from her surgery, and she was able to FaceTime chat with Ceil’s dad, still in the hospital. Looks like he will be going home this Friday.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bowl Match-Ups: The Good & Bad

The BCS is solely designed to match the top two teams in the championship game. After that, the BSC bowls draft teams, with consideration for conference commitments and (more importantly) ticket sales. Matching two highly ranked teams is of secondary importance.

The best match-ups, based on lowest BSC rank and total number of wins, is somewhat surprising:

24…BCS (3) LSU vs Alabama

22…Fiesta (7) Oklahoma State vs Stanford

22…Rose (15) Oregon vs Wisconsin

20…Cotton (18) Arkansas vs Kansas State

20…Outback (20) Georgia vs Michigan State

21…Sugar (30) Michigan vs Virginia Tech

19…Capital One (31) South Carolina vs Nebraska

19…Orange (37) Clemson vs West Virginia

21…Ticket City (44) Houston vs Penn State

20…GoDaddy.com: Northern Illinois vs Arkansas State

The only other post-New Year’s game is the Gator Bowl, which managed an attractive matchup based on Urban Meyer: the former Gator coach freshly hired by the Buckeyes. This overshadows the mundane 6-6 record of each team. Three other bowls match six-win teams: Meineke, Fight Hunger, and Music City. In addition to these eight six-win teams, another five bowl teams managed only six wins: Vandy, Iowa State, Purdue, Arizona State, and Marshall.

12…Gator: Florida vs Ohio State

12…Music City: Wake Forest vs Mississippi State

The Chickfila Bowl’s magical run of highly ranked matchups ended this year. Often thought of as the best non-BCS and/or non-New Years Bowl, the CFA lost out on highly ranked teams from both its conference affiliates. UGA headed to sunny Florida. SC was last year’s SEC representative. Arkansas opted for the Cotton Bowl, who secured higher-ranked teams than two BCS teams. With its move to Jerry-World, the Cotton Bowl has positioned itself as the front-runner as the next BCS bowl in-waiting.

No New Years Eve Bowl is fielding a ranked team, though six earlier bowls landed one. Ten pre-New Years Eve bowls have win totals higher than the five December 31 bowl games. UCLA managed a New Years Eve bowl bid, despite having a losing record.

15…Chickfila: Virginia vs Auburn

15…Sun: Georgia Tech vs Utah

14…Liberty: Vandy vs Cincinnati

12…Meineke: Northwestern vs Texas A&M

12…Fight Hunger: UCLA vs Illinois

Trivia Night # 3

Will and I arrived at Land of a Thousand Hills close to the starting time this past Thursday to find the place packed: there were a record ten teams competing. Soon thereafter the front door opened, and in walked Joel…followed by Becky, Charles, and Willis. Surely this week we would have a competitive team. We at least had to beat “The Foxy Four”…a team of young Pope High coeds.

1. Which star of Grease had a career revival with the movie Pulp Fiction? This one I knew right off the bat: John Travolta. Five points.

2. Narcolepsy is a sudden attack of? Joel immediately knew this answerSLEEP. He remembered the YouTube videos of goats. Three points.

3. In British slang, what does “knackered” mean? During our discussion, Willis thought it meant “tired.” He was OK with my answer: Drunk. Willis was right. Zero points.

4. What instrument of torture had a hinged instrument of spikes? We really didn’t know the names of many torture devises, except “cat’o nine tails.” I remembered the joke from the movie “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” and suggested Iron Maiden…and was right! Alas, we’d only wagered one point.

5. On Sunscreen, what does SPF stand for? I thought Becky’s incorrect answer was submitted, but somehow we were credited with five points. Sun Protection Factor (not Skin).

6. In what city did Jim Morrison die? I knew it was in Europe, so we guessed London. It was PARIS.

7. In what country are the most divers attacked by sharks? We used Willis’ answer: Australia. During our discussion I wondered if the obvious answer was correct. I was…the USA was the correct answer.

8. Coffee is the second most traded commodity. What is the first? Joel thought it was Rice. Wrong! it was OIL. Afterwards Becky said that was her answer.

9. What Georgia college has the world’s largest campus? Willis’ face brightened. “Bryan!” he exclaimed. Joel and I knew what he meant: BERRY. Five points. After getting 4 of the first 5 correct, we missed three of the next four. Amazingly, we finished the first half in second place.

Halftime Question: Name the capitals…

...SpainMadrid (right)

...TurkeyAnkara (we said Istanbul)

...PeruLima (right)

...IndiaNew Delhi (we said Bombay)

...KenyaNairobi (right)

10. Which month’s birthstone is Opal? We tried to eliminate as many months as we could, but we didn’t guess OCTOBER.

11. The Fresh Prince of Bellaire: what was his butler’s name? Will and Joel both knew: JEFFREY. Six points.

12. What year was the Nintendo Wii introduced? 2006. Our guess was one year off.

13. What was the first US city to operate a subway? We narrowed it down to New York and Washington. During the discussion, I wondered if it could be Boston. We answered NYC. It was Boston.

14. What singer from the 70’s changed his name to Yusef Islam? We had no idea. It was Cat Stevens.

15. Cashmere comes from what animal? We guessed Sheep. It was Goat.

16. Dinger, a purple triceratops, is the mascot for which MLB team? Will was pretty sure it was the Colorado Rockies, and it was. Six points.

17. Which country has more active volcanoes than any other? Willis knew: Indonesia. Two points.

18. What person has won the most Academy Awards? Streep? Newman? Hepburn? No, no, no. WALT DISNEY. Despite missing 6 of the 9 second round questions, we were still tied for third. Emcee Erin must like Joel or Will.

Final Question: According to the FDA, what were the five most consumed raw fruits in 2011? Avocado is one of the five. We guessed Apple and Banana (both right). We missed on Cantaloupe and Grapefruit.

Dr Spacetime won, with 68 points. The Grindelows also aced the final question, taking second with 65 points. Our 50 placed us fourth. We beat six teams, including the Foxy Four, who managed 19 points.

Matthew's Season Opener

Saturday afternoon Matthew’s Red team lost their first game of the season. M did well, gabbing six rebounds.

The opposing Blue team took the first shot of the game, and Matthew got the first rebound of the season. The Blues had their two best players on the court, two boys that Will had scrimmaged Monday night, while M’s Red team was practicing. The Blue boys kept stealing the ball, and quickly ran up a 12-0 score after the first five minutes.

The game’s momentum turned after the subs came in when the Honey Badger, the Reds point guard, took control. He and Big Chris quickly staged a 14-0 run, giving the Reds the lead at the end of the first quarter.

Matthew started and played the entire second quarter. He grabbed two rebounds and barely missed a shot. Mixing up their lineup, the Blues only scored a single basket before subbing out halfway through the quarter. The Honey Badger again rallied the Reds, who outscored the Blues 4-2, leaving the score tied at the half. Doing his part, M grabbed another rebound.

The Reds weren’t able to keep pace, as the Blues went on runs of 8-0 and 4-2 in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter the Reds outscored the Blues 10-9, making the final score a respectable 39-30. Matthew grabbed a rebound in both the third and fourth quarter, giving him six for the game.

QTR…….1………..H………..3………...F

R…..0…14…14…18…18…20…27…30

B…12…12…16…18…26…30…38…39

Chris’s mom kept score, and was concerned that the referees had called the game one way. It appeared to me that neither team was called for many fouls. One Blues player camped out in the lane, but three seconds wasn’t called until the fourth quarter. Chris was one of few players whistled with a foul, but only one, as far as I can remember. I enjoyed chatting with Chris’ grandfather, who had grown up playing basketball in Indiana.

Matthew’s Marine sergeant coach broke out a red USMC cap to match the jerseys. Older than me, he wore the cap backwards. Due to the Christmas break, the next game isn’t until January 7th.

The Reds, in order of contribution:

Honey Badger…took too many outside shots in second half.

Big Chris…dominated inside, but often stayed outside.

Young Kobe…helped with the ballhanding

Smiling Jack…made one basket, and several steals

Blondie…took several shots

Matthew…played more than HB or Chris

Little Joe…moved well without the ball

Manchurian Candidate…several turnovers

Friday, December 09, 2011

Life With the Normans

Went to trivia Thursday night, and Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee was packed. Ten teams. Somehow we came in fourth. Our team was large, with Will and four Normans: Joel, Charles, Willis, and Becky. Willis graduates from Toccoa Falls College this spring.

Ceil drove to Rock Hill Friday, for her mom’s gallstone surgery. Used the new GPS. Hope she can return Sunday, or I may miss part of Monday. M is spending the day at the Normans, being tutored by Becky.

Will is leaving to spend the weekend at Rock Eagle, at a 4H retreat. This morning he practiced with Charles’ home-school basketball team.

We rented a movie...the last Harry Potter. M’s first basketball game is Saturday. He also has schoolwork to complete.