Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chepes Disappoints Again

It’s hard to mess up Mexican food. I’ve been to many Mexican restaurants, and they’re pretty much the same to me. Salsa varies in hotness and consistency, but I’m good with the rest. But for the second straight time, Chepes failed to deliver.

Like its sister in East Cobb, the Chepes in Cumming was teeming with customers, particularly for a chilly Tuesday night. Diners of every age group: families, couples young and old, teenagers, children. Service wasn’t super quick, perhaps due to the three Happy Birthday songs sung while we waited for our food. Same two kinds of salsa: regular red (few chunks, little zest) and brown (tasted like an ash tray to me, but other table requested more). As before, the chips were greasy. Our first basket was filled with tiny pieces.

The service was very attentive, but the burritos, chalupa, and enchiladas were unspectacular. What was particularly bad was the “corn” enchilada casing…hardly edible!

Why do crowds keep coming? Surely they weren’t ALL like us, cashing in the BOGO. At El Porton, Ceil and I usually share one combination plate. She drinks water, though I spring for a Diet Coke. The Chepes coupon gives us twice as much food for the additional cost of a Coke for Ceil. I really don’t eat more, I just have leftovers for lunch (or the kids devour it, like last night).

But after two disappointments, it’s doubtful we’ll be returning to Chepes. The coupons don’t help. Too many better choices for Mexican.

Why I Run The Peachtree

Submitted to the Peachtree Road Race magazine…

For me the entire Peachtree Road Race is a big adventure, from the entry process, the often tangled journey to the starting line, the familiar sights, faces, and memories along the race, the triumphant finish, and proudly wearing the T-shirt while watching fireworks that evening.

I’ve run 21 Peachtrees, and volunteered for two years before that. It’s become a great fitness habit that’s been passed down to my son: 2011 will be his eighth Peachtree. Much has changed since the late 80’s, and I often use my Independence Day mornings to reflect on many of these differences. For the first ten or so years my race times improved, and I enjoyed starting up front in Time Group One. As the years went by I would drop back to run with friends, neighbors, co-workers, my wife, and son.

The old Saturday ritual of buying a Sunday paper, clipping the entry form, and finding the right mailbox with Saturday afternoon pickup was time consuming, but it was the first steps of the journey. Next came the packet in the mailbox, hoping for a coveted silver number (I actually got it one year!). Chatting with friends about what Time Group we got (now this happens on Facebook). Even putting together my running outfit plays a part. Wearing something different every year, I often “know” when I’ve found just the right shirt.

Living in Morningside made the race commute easy. My wife would drop me off at Peachtree and Piedmont before the race, and afterwards I’d walk home. Now we drive down I-75, park near my old Greenwood Avenue apartment, and walk to MARTA. Even listening to the pre-race on WSB is part of the ritual. With a back-of-the-pack number one year, I determined it’s possible to watch the wheelchair FINISH and still have time to hop MARTA and make the race start, though I’ve never chanced it.

I like to get to in the starting group before it gets super crowded, but not TOO early. The huge American flag flutters in the morning breeze, the Star Spangled Banner is sung, and a patriotic feel sweeps over the masses. Planes pull signs, helicopters buzz about, and I feel part of something much bigger than myself. The race (and the people-watching) begin.

After the first half mile the pack thins, and I’m able to more enjoy my surroundings. The “new” Buckhead skyscrapers keep Peachtree shady and cool, before the bright sun appears as runners cross Piedmont. People line the streets, wearing red, white, and blue. Their cheers add to the excitement and give needed encouragement. In the early years Buckhead sidewalks were packed five deep, and crowds partied on the rooftops of bars. As I pass, I often remember this.

At certain spots in the race I instinctively look for familiar faces, like the elderly twin sisters seated in lawn chairs in front of Peachtree Methodist. Tears came to my eyes the first year one of the chairs sat empty, holding a picture of the twin who had passed away. At the water stop near West Paces Ferry I remember all the years Mr. Hooper passed out cups. I watch runners snag Publix donuts (never me!). Near Lindbergh I look right for Max Cleland, sitting near the brick mansion that was the setting for Anne Rivers Siddons novel, Peachtree Road. My grandmother lived three places along the route, so she also graces my mind.

At the two mile mark I’m welcomed by many familiar faces: my old friends from Second-Ponce de Leon. After over 50 friends greeted me one year, a nearby runner wondered if I was running for office! Lately I’ve stopped to chat, using it as a rest stop.

Peachtree Battle is filled with cheering families, and the long trek up Cardiac Hill looms. Thankfully, half the hill is in the shade. Patients from the Shepherd Spinal Center encourage us to keep running up the hill. As I trudge, more friends come to mind. Patrick lived next to Bennihanas, my doctor friend in his white coat outside Piedmont Hospital, Watson at the four mile mark, the trumpet player near the train station, the Taylors at Equifax, the elderly lady at Peachtree Christian, Harriet at Pershing Point.

The race flows left, for the shady “Olympic Mile.” Bands play. Hoping to get a sneak peek at the T-Shirt design, I look for slender runners who’ve finished the race walking back with T-shirt bags. Most years I’m rewarded for my efforts. The crowds (and cheers) grow stronger at Colony Square. Children hold signs, and its fun to give them high fives as I pass.

Every year I’m amazed at the new buildings and restaurants that spring up. Running makes gawking so much easier than driving a car. The stretch from Colony Square to 10th Street (and on down to Juniper) has completely changed, making the last mile much more pleasant. After the 10th Street turn the photographer’s bridge comes into view, and runners jockey for an open spot with a renewed spring in their step.

A lot can happen over 21 years. It’s only rained once or twice. One year I was sick, but I stubbornly braved the race anyway. In April 1992 I cracked my shin playing softball AND had unrelated outpatient surgery, but recovered in time to run. I’ve run in almost every time group. One Sunday I finished the Peachtree in time to make the 9:30 church service. Having been around long enough to remember the manual finish rope shoots in Piedmont Park, I was one of a few thousand runners with failed chips last year, and our race times didn’t register.

The last half mile seems to take forever. The cheering increases as onlookers encourage runners to finish strong. I crest the final hill, and the finish banner comes into view. Crossing the finish line, the race that seemingly took forever is suddenly over way too fast. Relieved, I continue to look for friends on the stroll to the T-shirt line. The park will only get more crowded, but usually it’s not hard to find my son.

We join a stream of tired walkers trudging up shady streets, past Grady High and refurbished older homes. Following yet another ritual, only when we reach the car do I pull out my T-shirt. It’s fun to wear the coveted Peachtree shirt to the evening fireworks show. The rest of the day, where-ever I go, I’m always amazed to see dozens of other runners wearing Peachtree shirts.

Through the years, despite it’s changes, the Peachtree Road Race is one of the constants in my life. Though some surroundings change, the Fourth of July classic still flows on like a river, 6.2 miles down Peachtree, wave after wave. I’m proud to be one of those little drops.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Psalm 34: 18

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

Monday, March 28, 2011

Taking a Stand

Sunday morning during the closing song Ceil whispered that she wanted me to stand up with her. The song hadn’t been especially moving to me, and no one in the East Auditorium had stood up yet. I shrugged my shoulders, not really wanting to. She stood up, so a second later I stood as well. No one else was standing. I took her hand, and she squeezed. Eventually a few others stood, scattered across the auditorium. After the longest time, the service ended. A lady behind Ceil thanked her for being so bold. Later I told Ceil she had a new spiritual gift…the ministry of standing!

Knowing the seats would be filled with conference attendees, North Point seemingly called out the A-team for the services. The new campus pastor had to get in his words of the week. Grizzled vet Todd Fields led the singing. Great sermon by Andy, but he seemed to be a little over the top, going out of his way to fully elaborate his point. Several near me were taking pictures and videos on their iPhones. The late-arriving couple next to me loved it, hanging on every sentence and filling in every blank.

Sunday afternoon Ceil was happy the Braves were on TV. She’s looking forward to Opening Day, and the specials on Fredi and Heyward. Spent most of the game reading Dan Brown’s third book, Deception Point.

Most of Saturday and Sunday I was upstairs organizing clothes. Got about 75% of it done. I’m giving away more this year than ever. I’ve got too much that I save, from Will’s little league jerseys, 21 years worth of Peachtree Road Race T-shirts, and other pro and college baseball, football, and hockey jerseys, caps, and T-shirts.

On the way home Friday I picked up Matthew in Johns Creek, and we ate at Moes. He’d read where fashionistas often assemble their wardrobes from thrift stores, so he wanted to go. He found a black bow tie. For the last year I had in the back of my mind to be on the lookout for a North Face jacket. Friday I happened to find a black one, in Matthew’s size. A great deal. Now I’m spending more time in the book section.

Not long after we walked in the nice Johns Creek Goodwill, a lady approached me, asking what size shoe I wear. Her husband needed a pair of cowboy boots for a costume, and wanted me to try on a pair for her.

As close as we live, I never see Claire or Andrew around town. That sure changed this weekend. Saturday morning I was taking Anna to her Johns Creek rehearsal around 9:15. At a Roswell stoplight Anna goes “There’s Mr. Andrew!” He was right next to us. Late Sunday afternoon I took Ceil to Kroger. As we walked in I remembered Claire and Andrew said they grocery shop every Sunday afternoon, but quickly dismissed the thought as I wandered through the store. Then I found the four of them in the back of the store, and we had a nice chat.

Ten Strikeouts in 4 Innings

Will’s Crown baseball team won games this past Thursday and Friday, both by a 13-0 score.

Friday Will pitched four innings and struck out ten, one of his better performances. 71% of his pitches were strikes, and he threw first-pitch strikes to 15 of 17 batters. Unlike Thursday, Grace Baptist appeared to be a quality opponent on Friday.

Batting leadoff, Will got a single to right, stole a base, and scored a run. The box score didn’t show that he also reached twice on errors.

In the fifth inning Will played shortstop, and made a great backhanded catch on a grounder in the hole.

Thursday Crown took Varsity and JV pictures before the game, and all 19 players stayed and played in the game. The batting order consisted of 18 players, in two groups of nine. Will hit 18th in this order, batted the one time, and scored a run.

In the Varsity drubbing of undermanned Mill Creek, Crown junior-varsity pitcher Charlie V pitched a three-inning no-hitter. During the game I daydreamed that Will could’ve pitched “King & His Court” style, with his catcher the only fielder on the field. Mill Creek is a small school in Fulton County for teens with learning difficulties. Their young team only had one good player, who pitched.

The score was already 10-0 in the third, so Will did not try to steal. The weak Mill Creek catchers and infielders made stealing bases almost a certainty. But with the mismatch in talent, there was no need to steal. Two Crown players stole bases anyway, though one was a JV player who didn’t know better.

Will knocked his second opponent out of the game Thursday when his hard, spinning grounder took a high last hop, deflected off the tip of the shortstop’s glove, then off his face. After initially falling to his knees, the kid was able to walk off the field.

In the top of the first, a Mill Creek batter strode to the plate, twirling his bat. With long hair, short tight pants, and baseball socks showing, one dad thought the teen looked like John Travolta, in the baseball tryout scene in Grease. Another dad pantomimed Travolta pulling the catcher’s mask. When the kid came up in the third, I muttered “Here’s Danny Zooko again.” The other dads cracked up, since they hadn’t remembered Travolta’s character’s name.

The Mill Creek blowout lasted 63 minutes. After the game Coach Rosemond took the team to Buffalo’s for dinner. He had promised the team dinner should they sweep the Tuesday doubleheader with rival Gwinnett. Fortunately for the Crown players, the Barons are rebuilding this season. In addition, two of their best players are injured.

Will was slated to bat leadoff and play shortstop in Monday’s 6 pm game, but it was rained out. Hopefully they’ll be able to play Tuesday night’s doubleheader.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Anna's First Driving Lesson

Thursday the van was overheating, so Ceil took it to the Chevron station at JF & Roswell Road, next to the Firestone, about as far away as our regular shop. Will had class and a game, so I came home early, and we all went for a ride. He went early to his game for pictures, so we hit Publix and Wendys.

When we returned, I walked down to the field, while Ceil gave Anna her first driving lesson. I saw my car scooting around the parking lot, a little faster than normal. She was thrilled. After the game we checked on the van, and it was ready.

Signed Will and me up for the Peachtree, which means I better start working out. Thursday night I did well, so I’ve got to keep it up.

Watched more basketball Thursday night than I have in a while. Finally getting into the tourney. Hated that Duke and BYU lost. That Lamb guy for UConn played at Norcross High. Will has played pickup games against him. Lamb's brother played for Flight, the homeschool team Will played on.

Friday morning I had to take a detour around the Spaulding fire. I was ahead of the traffic, so it wasn’t too bad. There’s a fire station across the street from the building the burned.

Will was the starting pitcher Friday afternoon, and neither me nor Ceil could be there. Ceil stayed at Anna’s rehearsal to work on costumes. Saturday I’ll get out the spring/summer clothes, and put up most of the winter clothes. That will probably run into Sunday.

I always hated it when people laugh at their own jokes, though most other people don’t seem to mind. Lately I’ve found myself laughing at my own jokes. Not TOO loud, luckily.

Researched some books that I want to read, checking if they’re at the library. Since they closed that Merchants Walk library, no Cobb library is convenient for me.

These days it’s unfortunate that youth activities have become so specialized, that a kid who doesn’t take up a craft or sport at 4 or 6, then wants to try it when they’re 10 or 12, and they’re so far behind the curve that it’s no fun. Just a couple of Matthew’s basketball teammates also played football and basketball, and they were the most well rounded athletes. Many families can’t make that time commitment, especially with multiple children.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tweet of the Day

Msg: louiegiglio:
The God who made the world out of nothing
can make something beautiful
out of whatever you're facing.

March / April Reading List

In the Time of Bobby Cox: The Atlanta Braves, Their Manager, My Couch, Two Decades, and Me; by Lang Whitaker. Instead of listening on CD during my morning and afternoon commute, I actually read this book the old school way. I may actually start reading more books this way.

Seabiscuit: An American Legend; by Laura Hillenbrand. Now that I’ve seen the hit movie, I’ll give the book a try.

White; by Christopher Whitcomb

The 5 Laws That Determine All of Life’s Outcomes; by Brett Harward

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Nike High Tops

Fur! These 11-1/2's were hard to pass up. Still a deal at $18.99.

Old School Uni

Stanislaus State shows a baseball uniform can still look good.

Master Toothpick Bridge Builder

Yesterday was typically chaotic. Both A and M had presentations. Anna’s toothpick bridge ranked with MC’s brother’s as the strongest in the class. I made several suggestions about how to lay out the toothpicks, but Anna diligently did all the work. Will had to break it, because the weights didn’t bust it.

At the last minute Matthew couldn’t find one of his notecards from his Jellyfish speech, but he was able to improvise. Then Ceil had the Tuesday night Johns Creek run all by herself, while I got to chat with friends at Will’s game.

After Will’s DH last night we took MC over to MP, where her younger brother had played. On the way, Will commented how he hopes there is Facebook when he gets old, so he can keep up with old friends. I didn’t tell him it wasn’t as great as he thinks, though there are many exceptions.

Ceil thinks it’s funny (or not) when she texts me, and I reply by saying “great!” Not a word I often use in conversation.

Before I leave on my April trip I’ll add DOB to my Twitter feed, so I’ll get plenty of updates on Jekyll, when I’m cut off from the world. Then I’ll drop him and Bowman, since I’m receiving so many texts from them.

I need to get Anna running, so she can run cross country this fall. JFBC has a good kids league, and probably FBC Woodstock as well.

Found out Lucy’s mom reads my blog, which means I’ll go back and check what I’ve written about her family. But they’re great people, so I’m not worried. Welcome, Lynn!

Crown Baseball Uniform Suggestions

At Tuesday’s game I got a good uniform discussion going. Whenever I watch sports, I’m looking and the uniforms. Every day I read a national uniform blog, and participate in the discussion group (once they posted pictures of Will, playing in his fall Crown uniform!). I’ve been underwhelmed with Will’s home-school team’s cookie-cutter uniforms, obviously ordered from a uniform shop catalog. Here are some ideas and suggestions to perhaps improve things next year.

Through the years Crown’s colors have been mostly navy, with burgundy accent. With so many navy teams, Crown could stand out by wearing predominantly burgundy uniforms (this may rankle the leaders who are LA Dodger fans). And the key word to good-looking uniforms is SIMPLE. The more extras you add, the busier the uni. Too much gets ugly (and costly). Simple is best.

CAPS: Grey shows dirt, so go with an all-burgundy cap. I love the simple block “C”, but suggest making it even thicker and blockier, to produce a classic old-school look. White or grey C. The top button and air holes can match the C color. I’m OK with numbers on the back. Just make them as small as possible, with the same block font on the jersey..

HELMETS: If burgundy helmets are more expensive, navy is still fine. Same block C, with as few stickers on the back as possible. Matte finish is the latest trend in baseball helmets, and they look great. But mixing matte finish navy with white accents screams “I ordered this from the latest catalog!” You don’t see this in MLB. Keep them plain.

JERSEYS: Fancy jerseys can get expensive. The goal is to have a simple, cheap, classic jersey that doesn’t show much dirt. This rules out white and grey, stitched letters and numbers, vests, and button fronts. That’s quite ok, since all the extras make you look like you’re trying too hard (note Holy Spirit’s busy jerseys).

1. Since the majority of Crown’s opponents wear navy, a burgundy jersey is the obvious choice.

2. Large, untrimmed, traditional-font, block white letters and numbers look best, and look most professional. Any higher costs for the larger letters/numbers are offset by not having two-color letters and numbers. if possible, a small number on the lower left front of the jersey is a nice touch. Two-tone letters and numbers are quite hard to read at a distance, and Crown doesn’t play on TV.

3. The jersey should be one color, without a different color panel under the sleeves, running who knows where. Another obvious cookie-cutter cluttered catalog creation. Even big-leaguers look bad in these, which were created solely to sell more jerseys. Remember, keep it simple!

4. No names on the back. It’s about the TEAM, not the individual. And it gives angry opponents less opportunity to razz our players.

PANTS: Crown usually wears grey pants, which look better the longest. White looks best, but grey is not horrible.

1. Un-striped pants are cheaper, and there’s always the player who loses their single striped pair, and shows up stripeless.

2. These days players look out of place if they don’t wear the stylish long, unhemmed pants down over their shoes. Not the greatest look, but at least the team all looks the same. Less baggy “Clemson Cut” pants are an alternative. At least long pants make the players look taller!

BELTS: Match the jersey. Navy belts would work with burgundy jerseys, though.

SHOES: Black shoes work best. White shoes get dirty, and there’s always one or two players who show up in black anyway. Coaches should have players periodically clean their shoes, at least a quick wiping with a damp rag.

PULLOVERS: If the team issues new warm-up pullovers every year, it might be fun to alternate navy and burgundy every year. I’m not adverse to having a SIMPLE second-color accent, under the arms or as shoulder loops (but stay away from tiny pinstripes running hither and yon around the jacket!). If it’s not much more expensive, stitch or screen-print CROWN or KNIGHTS across the front, in untrimmed block letters, similar to the jerseys. IDEA: Add small block uniform numbers below the outside back collar.

PRACTICE SHIRT: Players are issued a cotton practice T Shirt. Since they have numbers on the back, these can be worn as an alternate jersey, in the second game of doubleheaders or in the national championship tournament (that will help with laundry!). This practice shirt should be a DIFFERENT color than the game jersey (if the gamer is burgundy, the practice shirt can be navy or grey). Same simple, large, block, screen-printed, white letters and numbers as the regular jersey. If possible, upgrade from cotton to a cheap dri-fit type tee.

SOCKS: With such long pants, socks are hardly an issue. But if Crown really wants a distinctive uniform, the Knights can really stand out with bloused pants and striped stirrups. Forget about the long, single colored soccer socks that were popular in the early part of the last decade. Instead break out low (6”), striped stirrups, in either navy or burgundy, with three white or grey stripes. Navy stirrups with a white / burgundy / white stripe pattern would look great, similar to the old Milwaukee Braves. Plain unstriped stirrups would be OK, but not as good as striped ones. And even if only half the players wore stirrups, the team would still look great. With white sanitary socks underneath, of course.

Will Scores 7 as Crown Sweeps Barons

Batting leadoff, Will scored seven times in eight plate appearances, helping Crown sweep a doubleheader from his good friend Holt’s Gwinnett Barons team. He stole five bases, pitched an inning, and started a nifty 5-4-3 double play.

Will reached base in the first, stole second, took third on a wild pitch, then tagged up and scored on Tanner’s sacrifice fly.

In the second Will was hit by a pitch, stole both second and third, then scored on Tanner’s single.

In the third he walked on four pitches, advanced to second on a bunt, took third on a passed ball, and scored on Tanner’s single.

After being run-ruled 14 - 4 in Game One, the Barons threatened to reverse things in Game Two. But Will promptly squashed the first inning rally, starting an around-the-horn double play.

In the bottom of the first Will walked, again on four straight balls. A single to left advanced him to second, and he took third on a passed ball. He scored on Braeden’s single.

With two out in the second Will smashed a hard grounder that the official scorer ruled an infield hit. He stole second, and scored when the left-fielder dropped Tanner’s fly ball.

Will was hit by another pitch in the third, to load the bases. A passed ball scored a run and put runners on second and third. Will later scored on an error.

In the fifth Will stroked a one-out single up the middle, advanced to second on a walk, and scored on Braeden’s double.

When I arrived I caught up with Holt’s parents during the first game, then moved over to the Crown side for Game Two, sitting with Lucy and her mom, Nathan’s sisters Jordan and Erin, and Mary-Clayton. After the game we took MC over to her brother’s game at Mt. Paran, and visited with her parents for a bit.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Crown vs. Barons Stats

Patrick…2-3, HR, 4 RBI, 2 SB, 2 runs (11/3=3.67)

Sam…2-3, HR, 3 RBI, run (7/3=2.33)

Michael…1-1, 2 BBs, 3 runs, SB (7/3=2.33)

Will…2-4, 2 BBs, 2 HBP, 7 runs, 5 SB (18/8=2.25)

Nick…2-3, 2 runs, 3 RBI, BB, 2B (9/4=2.25)

Braeden…3-5, BB, HBP, HR, 2B, 5 RBI (12/7=1.71)

Tanner…2-5, 2 runs, 5 RBI, sac (10/6=1.67)

Jordan…0-1, 2 BBs, HBP, 3 runs (6/4=1.50)

Ian…1-4, 2 runs, RBI, SB (5/4=1.25)

Nathan…1-3, BB, RBI (3/4=0.75)

Ray…1-3, run (2/3=0.67)

Franklin…0-3, run (1/3-0.33)




Louis Zamperini

Andy had sent out tweets that Sunday’s service would be special, but toward the end of Jeff Henderson’s good sermon I was beginning to wonder. He read from a book, then brought out the author to read his own letter, forgiving his Japanese captor. Louis Zamperini was in his 90’s, though still spry. The congregation rose and gave him a long ovation. Amazing to see in person a living link to Hitler and Jesse Owens (his roommate in the Olympics). Here’s his profile from the USC Hall of Fame:

Louis Zamperini was not only one of USC’s greatest distance runners, but he gained international acclaim for his amazing exploits during World War II. A 3-year letterman (1938-39-40) who co-captained the 1940 Trojan squad and was a member of 3 NCAA championship teams, he was the NCAA champion in the mile run in 1938 and 1939. The collegiate mile record (4:08.3) that he set lasted for 15 years. He placed eighth in the 5,000-meter run at the 1936 Olympics. He was lost at sea during World War II, spending 47 days adrift and then two-and-a-half years as a prisoner of war in Japan (his experience was the subject of a CBS-TV feature, which was shown during the 1998 Winter Olympics).

Anna said she wanted to read Zamperini’s book.

It was a fast food weekend. Ceil took Anna to her Friday rehearsal and returned home at seven, saying she needed to be picked up at 7:30. I dashed to Johns Creek, only to find out her rehearsal was 7:30-9:30. Matthew and I ate at a pizza place in a nearby shopping center…very poor. Anna did gobble up the leftovers on the way home.

Saturday Will and I left for Rossville at 8 am. Before we left we ate a little breakfast, but also stopped at the Dalton Chickfila for biscuits. On the way back we hit Subway. Ceil had been sick all day, so I took her and Anna to Willys. Matthew had gone to a play, and after I picked him up, I got him a spicy chicken sandwich at Chickfila.

Sunday Will had sushi with Kevin and Haley. Anna had Chipotle with the Hargraves. On the way to pick her up I succumbed to a Taco Bell burrito.

Interesting how the “official scorekeeper”’s decisions seem to favor a certain player. Made me look up the scorekeeping rules for stolen bases, passed balls, and wild pitches. Saturday Will stole two bases that he wasn’t given credit for, though other players were credited for stolen bases that were actually wild pitches or passed balls. Eventually I related to Sunday’s sermon on forgiveness…now I guess actually need to!

See where Melky was hitting .500? Bet he doesn’t keep it up. Interesting that Schafer is doing so poorly. Just out of practice? Too early to be concerned about McLouth? I suppose anything Freddie contributes this year will be a plus. As his average dropped, so did his Tweets. After his two-error day, will Conrad still make the team? Guess his bat keeps him around.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Leadoff Home Run

Batting leadoff for the first time this season, Will opened his doubleheader by hitting a home run far over the centerfield fence. It was his third home run to lead off a game in his career. This Saturday he was even more productive than last weekend, with six RBIs and nearly hitting for the cycle.

Here’s what Will did in each plate appearance…

1st…The home run came on the second pitch of the game.

2nd…With runners on 2nd & 3rd, Will laced a one-hopper in the hole. The fine shortstop was able to backhand the ball, but knowing he had little chance to get the out at first, he instead tried to get the runner headed to third. His throw was high. The official scorekeeper ruled it an RBI single. After advancing to third, Will scored on a groundout to the third-baseman.

3rd…In the third inning Will stroked a line drive seep into the gap in right-center. At first I thought the ball would carry all the way to the fence, with only two or three bounces. Instead the ball died in the grass, and Will was held to a 2-RBI double.

4th…With a single, double, and homer in the books, Will only needed a triple to hit for the cycle. He hit a line drive into right field and took off, rounding first, and didn’t stop until he made it to third. Unfortunately, the hit was an obvious single that the poor rightfielder badly misplayed into a two-base error. The hit drove in two more runs, giving Will six RBIs for the game.

Later in the same 4th inning Will’s spot in the order game up again, with runners on 2nd and 3rd. Up 23-0, Will was lifted for a pinch-hitter. Ian promptly stroked a single to right, driving in both runners. So Will just missed having an 8 RBI game!

Will led off the second game by hitting another hard grounder. The second-baseman went to his right and back-handed the ball, knocking it down. After scooping it up, his throw pulled the first-baseman off the bag. Tough play. Hit or error? Chris said error, Nathan’s dad said hit. Will advanced to third on Ian’s grounder. With runners on 1st and 3rd, Crown executed a double-steal. When Ian took off for second, the catcher fired to the shortstop, charging in on the grass. Will took off from third and slid in, safely ahead of the throw.

Later in the game Will walked, stole second, advanced to third on a 1-3 groundout, and scored on Patrick’s single.

Playing third base, Will handled all three ground balls hit his way.

Stats from both games combined, ranked by my Productivity System…

Will…5-7, BB, 5 runs, 6 RBIs, 2B, HR, 2 SB (21/7=3.00)

Russell…4-5, double, 4 runs & RBIs (13/5=2.60)

Franklin…2-2, BB, HBP, 4 runs, 2 RBIs (10/4=2.50)

Jake…0-1, 2 BBs, 2 runs, 3 SB (7/3=2.33)

Patrick…2-3, HBP, 2 runs, 2 RBIs, 2 SB (9/4=2.25)

Ray…2-3, BB, 3 runs & RBIs, sacrifice (9/5=1.80)

Adam…2-3, BB, run, 2 RBIs, SB (7/4=1.75)

Nick…0-2, 2 BBs, 4 runs, RBI (7/4=1.75)

Nathan….1-4, run, 2 RBIs, double (5/4=1.25)

Michael…1-3, BB, 2 runs, RBI (5/4=1.25)

Ian…1-5, run SB, 3 RBIs (6/5=1.20)

Tanner…2-6, BB, HBP, 4 runs, RBI (9/8=1.125)

Jordan…2-4, 3 runs, 3B (6/6= 1.00)

Braeden…1-6, 2 BBs, 2 runs, 2 RBIs (7/7=1.00)

Sam…0-3, run (1/3= 0.33)

Crown’s Rossville, GA opponent had swept last year’s doubleheader with a squad loaded with talented seniors. This year they only had a couple of good players, and the outfielders literally were unable to catch a fly ball. In the fourth inning Crown batted around TWICE, scoring 15 runs in the inning. Game One ended 27-0 after 5 innings. Using my scorecard and notes, I later determined that had Rossville fielded even average high-school outfielders, Crown would’ve “only” won Game One by an 11-0 score. Game Two was called in the top of the fourth, with Crown leading 11-4. Rossville had run out of pitchers!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

If the Phils Could Catch

As a home-school team, Crown often encounters teams they greatly outmatch. Saturday was one of those days. In tiny Rossville Georgia, the Phillies lost several fine players to graduation last year. Saturday their outfield couldn’t catch a routine fly ball.


Crown one-hit the Phils 27-0, scoring in all five innings. In the fourth the Knights batted around TWICE and scored 15 runs. Safely up 23-0, Crown inserted players off the bench.


After the game the players munched sandwiches and cookies. As we chatted, I wondered how different the game would’ve been had Rossville been able to field the ball…say, as well as Crown. Since I made these very notes as I scored the game, here’s what would've happened:


FIRST (no change)

Will homers to center.

Michael hits a hard grounder off the pitcher’s glove. SS scoops it up, but makes a bad throw to first.

Jordan grounds into a 1-6 force play.

Braeden lines out to center.



Tanner hits a fly ball to left center. Either the leftfielder or centerfielder could have easily caught the ball. In this re-creation, this is the first out.

Nick hits a foul pop into the sun. In the stands we can’t see it, and it strikes Nathan’s mom in the hip. He then dribbles one a foot in front of the plate. The catcher throws the ball into right field. Should’ve been out number two.

Russell strokes a single into left.

Ray’s double would’ve been a mere single off an equally-talented opponent.

Franklin’s short pop to center would’ve been out number three.

Still 1-0 Knights (in real life they scored seven).



Will lined a one-hopper deep in the hole. The SS speared the ball and immediately threw to third. Would he have been able to instead make the long throw to first? Official scorer Chris Maiocco ruled it a hit.

Michael hits a fly ball to right, that should’ve been caught for the first out.

Jordan grounds to third, forcing Will at second.

Braeden strokes a two-out single to left.

Tanner flies out to center, ending the scoreless inning.



Nick pops out to the third-baseman.

Russell hits a pop fly to left, that should’ve been caught.

Ray pops out to the third-baseman, in foul territory.



Franklin is HBP.

Will hits a line drive to deep right-center. I expect the ball to carry more, and bound to the fence. Instead the ball dies in the grass, and the outfielder holds Will to a double. Franklin scores.

Michael lines out to first, and picked off second.

Jordan hits a fly ball to right. Perhaps it wouldn’t have been caught. Single.

Braden walks.

Tanner hits into a 5-4 force play, ending the inning.

Crown leads, 2-0.



Nick walks.

Russell singles to center.

Ray walks, loading the bases.

Franklin walks, “driving in” Nick.

Will singles to right. Russell and Ray score, Franklin to third.

Michael walks, loading the bases.

Jordan singles to center, driving in Franklin and Will.

Braden hits a fly ball into the leftfielder’s glove. This time, he holds on.

Tanner walks, to load the bases.

Nick walks, “driving in” Michael.

Russell hits a fly to left. This time it’s caught, but Jordan scores from third.

Ray singles to center. Bases loaded.

Franklin singles to center, driving in Tanner.

Up 9-0, Coach Rosemond holds Nick at third. Bases still loaded.

Ian, batting for Will, strokes a single to right, driving in Nick and Ray.

Sam, batting for Michael, pops out to first.

Crown leads 11-0.



Jake, batting for Jordan, grounds out to third.

Adam, batting for Braeden, strikes out.

Tanner singles to left.

Patrick, batting for Nick, is HBP.

Russell singles to center, loading the bases.

Ray lines out to left, ending the inning.


Crown wins 11-0. Much tamer than 27-0.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Less Facebook :)

Hasn’t been crazy busy, but there’s always plenty to work on.

I am facebooking less, and cut out Family Feud completely. I’m now posting more often via text or email.

Will be in Rossville Saturday for Will’s DH…another long Saturday.

Went home early Thursday and washed the car. Ceil was bushed, so I cooked the hot dogs.

Finished the book. Interesting last chapter…I’ll get Ceil to read that one. She had already paged through it some. Perhaps the book WAS more interesting because of all the personal stories.

More Numbers: 1 - 9

Famous “1”’s…Richie Ashburn, Chauncey Billups, Bobby Doerr, Penny Hardaway, Billy Martin, Eddie McAshan, Tracy McGrady, Warren Moon, Kevin Porter, PeeWee Reese, Ozzie Smith, Otis Nixon

Famous “2”’s…Alex English, Derek Jeter, Joe Johnson, Larry Johnson, Mitch Richmond, Matt Ryan

Famous “3”’s…Dale Earnhart, Allen Iverson, Dennis Johnson, Harmon Killebrew, Darrell Lamonica, Joe Montana (Notre Dame), Dale Murphy, Bronko Nagurski, Chris Paul, Babe Ruth, Dwyane Wade

Famous “4”’s…Jeff Blauser, Adrian Dantley, Joe Dumars, Brett Farve, Lou Gehrig, Sidney Moncrief, Dolph Schayes, Spud Webb, Chris Webber

Famous “5”’s…Johnny Bench, Carlos Boozer, George Brett, Donte Culpepper, Joe DiMaggio, Freddie Freeman, Ron Gant, Hank Greenberg, Bob Horner, Paul Hornung, Garrison Hurst, Neil Johnston, Jason Kidd, Danny Manning, Brooks Robinson, Harmon Wages

Famous “6”’s…Bobby Cox, Walter Dukes, Julius Erving, Steve Garvey, LeBron James, Al Kaline, Stan Musial, Bill Russell,

Famous “7”’s…John Elway, Phil Esposito, Jeff Francoeur, George Halas, Kevin Johnson, Mickey Mantle, Pete Maravich, Lamar Odom, Jermaine O’Neal, Kelly Tripucka, Mike Vick

Famous “8”’s…Buck Belue, Walt Bellamy, Yogi Berra, Kobe Bryant, Archie Manning, Joe Morgan, Andy Phillip, Cal Ripkin Jr , Willie Stargell, Deron Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Steve Young

Famous ”9”’s…Richie Guerin, Mia Hamm, Gordie Howe, Marques Johnson, Sonny Jurgenson, Roger Maris, Bill Mazerowski, Bob Pettit, Rajon Rondo, Randy Smith, Ted Williams

Did I miss anyone?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Moore or Wren?

Reading the new SI article about the Royals makes me wonder: Who’s the better GM…Dayton Moore or Frank Wren?

I guess I’m a good baseball fan. Loads of NCAA coverage in the new SI, and I read the baseball article. that was a good John Calipari article, though.

Didn’t get home Tuesday night until after nine. Met Ceil in downtown Alpharetta and loaded up A & M, then hung around while they were in their class, finishing up “The War of the Worlds”

Texas Rangers Nesting Dolls

I’m pretty sure Matthew grabbed these babies and put them in his room.

Alex Rodriquez, Rafael Palmero, and Juan Gonzalez.

More junk that I couldn’t resist, though I could double my money on eBay.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Millhouse and Lightning Bug

I’m paying more attention as I read Lang’s book. Some things (like dates) I’m not super sure of, like which years Blauser did well. I wasn’t aware of about a quarter of the information about Lang. In the middle section he listed all the players that played for Cox. Most of the stories were good, like them Millhouse and Lightningbug. I still have a few chapters to go.

This proves I can read while I’m at home. I just feel like I should be cleaning or ironing or folding laundry. Usually I’m just watching TV or surfing the internet. “War of the Worlds” isn’t holding my attention, but I think it’s getting better.

Had an actual comment on my blog yesterday, regarding last month’s rundown of thrift stores I frequent. “Michelle” thought it a rip-off that publicized sale tags didn’t exist. She’s right.

I’ll watch the Fab Five show on ESPN eventually. That would be a good one for Will and DJ to watch. DJ and Connor are out in Springfield Missouri for the national homeschool tourney. Last night they blew out the first team they played.

Live Imitates Seinfeld

Two recent events in my life were reminiscent of classic Seinfeld episodes.

At the Costanza’s, Elaine left with George’s dad’s TV Guide, then left it in her Subway seat. Elaine tried to replace Frank’s magazine with one with sandwich drippings, further enraging Mr. Costanza. A suitor found the magazine and returned it, thinking Elaine lived there. First he cut up the Guide into an elaborate work of art. When the suitor arrived, Frank was outraged all the more. At least the suitor and Mr. Costanza agreed about TV Guide’s greatness. This was the famous Cigar Store Indian Episode.

Recently Braves’ youngsters Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman were featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. As usual, after reading the issue I save it as part of my collection. Our neighbor gave his Braves cover to Will. Knowing it would languish in his room, it took it to work and cut out photos for my scrapbook…throwing away the rest of the magazine. When Will decided he wanted it, the only one I had to bring was my saved copy. My dad had a SI subscription at the time, but he gave that edition to a neighbor.

In another Seinfeld episode George rescued an injured squirrel, to impress a girl. Meanwhile, Kramer had fished the Merv Griffin Show set from a dumpster, and was staging mock shows in his apartment. George showed up with the squirrel while Jim Fowler was showing off his falcon. Later George visited Jerry, with scratches all over his face.

Last week Matthew rescued an injured baby squirrel, who playfully crawled on his and Anna’s leg. All I could think about was George and his scratched face.

Typographical Errors

Friday I had lunch with Reid. He gave me a recent issue of SLAM, where they ranked the top 500 players in NBA history…Pervis Ellison and Kevin Duckworth were ranked among the 490s. After the issue went to press, someone noticed they’d left out Gale Goodrich.

In his book “Baseball Is a Funny Game” Joe Garagiola retold the story of a player confronting the official scorer after the newspaper boxscore only credited him with two hits, instead of three. “Typographical error” explained the scribe. “Error!” exclaimed the player. “Two were clean singles up the middle, and the third was a line drive over the third baseman's head!”

Friday night I noticed a kid I know is friends with Paul Hewitt. I sent Hewitt a friend request, on a lark. Sunday morning he accepted my request, the day after he was fired.

Ceil took Will down to Peachtree City for Monday afternoon game. They played a tough team, and lost a close game. Will walked twice and got one hard single, driving in a run. It was an all Astroturf field, so Will wore his turf shoes. Sounds like there's one guy who knows the web-site the best, and he probably had to work. He left after the first game Saturday, and the other dad was struggling to get the new lineup posted in his phone. Tuesday’s DH at ECB was rained out. Thursday they play in Jonesboro, and in Chattanooga on Saturday.

Saturday Matthew went with me to Will’s game, then didn’t have anything to do when his little buddy didn’t show. He sat with me and my dad and watched the game.

I’ve got a huge ladder, so big that it’s kinda hard to lug around. When I got engaged in 87, the Doraville company I was working for closed down. Everything had to be cleaned out, so I paid ten bucks for a great ladder.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Noodles Neal

I hadn’t seen a picture of Craig Neal in years, since he “grew up.” Now he looks like a young Bobby Cremins! For a while he dated a girl I knew, don’t know if they got married. Sounds like his boss Steve Alford is pushing Neal hard for the GT job.

Friday night C and A went to Anna’s old ballet recital. I read the first half of Lang’s book Friday and Saturday night…great so far. Stuff about Lang (and the Braves) I didn’t know!

Matthew found a baby squirrel that must’ve fallen from a tree, and fashioned a bed in the garage, feeding it lots of peanuts and pecans. The squirrel seemed ok, and it played with Matthew and Anna. It also spent a lot of time sleeping.

Saturday W, M, and I left at 9 am, headed to McDonough for Will’s games. He did great. My dad drove up from Macon. Game two ended at 4:45.

Will pitched the last two innings, striking out three. The last batter swung at an inside pitch and fouled it off. The pitch actually hit the batter’s hand as he swung. The coaches thought he may have broke his hand, though he stepped back in and grounded out, to end the game.

Anna had rehearsal, then C and A went down to a paper store in Virginia Highland. BTW: Anyone who calls it "Virginia Highlands" or worse "The Highlands" isn't a real Atlantan.

Watch Kate & Leopold early Sunday afternoon. When I turned on the ACC final early in the first half, Duke already had a commanding lead. Did some yardwork, and worked on the computer a bunch, When Matthew got home from church, the squirrel was dead.