Monday, October 31, 2011

22 Strikeouts in 9 Innings

The Major League record for strikeouts in nine innings is twenty. In his last nine innings Will struck out 22 batters, including 13 in six innings this past Saturday.

But after facing the first four batters of the game, Will gave no indication that he was embarking on perhaps the finest pitching performance of his life. Friday morning he was out the door at 7 am, and worked all day clearing yards with George Ewing. After sitting through a movie in a cramped theater seat, Will arrived home at 8:30 pm hardly able to walk. As Game Seven of the World Series began, Will came in the door with an aching back and collapsed on the sofa. He tried to watch, but nodded off instead.

Crown’s Saturday morning opponent was the undefeated Bulls, the Mike Tamucci-coached team comprised of local high-school and East Cobb Baseball players. Will played on this team last fall, and with most of the Bulls for the past two summers. Mike’s son Ryan started on the mound for the Bulls. He and Will have discussed rooming together in college. Before the game I was able to have a nice long chat with Mike.

This fall the Bulls’ potent offense run-ruled most of their opponents. Last month the Crown-Bulls game had been cancelled, making this the League Championship game.

The beginning of the game could not have gone worse for Will. His first pitch hit his former Ray’s teammate Kyle square in the back. His buddy Parker stepped in and worked out count full. The Lassiter senior swung at the payoff pitch, but his bat wasn’t long enough to reach the pitch that was clearly outside. Despite the shaky out Will walked the next two batters, both on full counts. Bases loaded and one out, with slugging lefty Tyler at the plate. Now a senior, Tyler had made state-champion Lassiter’s varsity as a freshman. Still struggling, Will walked his former teammate on four pitches. But with the bases still loaded Will finally settled down. He struck out the next two batters on eight pitches, to end the Bull’s rally.

Down a run, Will had some work to do on offense. Leadoff hitter Nathan walked, then advanced to second on Ryan’s sacrifice bunt. After working the count full, Will then smoked an RBI single through the hole into leftfield. When the throw from left went home, Will scampered on to second. He took third on a wild pitch. After Tanner struck out, Will scored the go-ahead run on a two-out wild pitch…just before Silas struck out to end the inning.

After throwing 32 pitches in the first, Will only needed 13 to retire the side in the second. He fooled his buddy Ryan with an 0-2 curveball. After a pop to second, Will got the next five outs with strikeouts, including the first four batters in the Bulls’ order in a row…all ECB players.

Crown staged a two-out rally in the third. Protecting the plate, Nathan reached out and slapped a 2-2 single to center. Ryan was hit with a pitch, and a passed ball placed runners at second and third. Will stroked a hard grounder that completely ate up second-baseman Durham, his former Prowlers teammate. Both runners scored on the play. When the rightfielder ever-so-slightly fumbled picking up the ball, Will raced to second, sliding in just ahead of the throw.

But after the fourth-inning leadoff hitter whiffed at a curve on the outside corner, three Crown fielders stood by and watched Tyler’s high pop fall between them. Shortstop Andrew had tried to make the catch, but either the leftfielder or centerfielder should’ve made the play. I was standing next to Mr. Shelter and Mr. Vollenweider. Both are experienced scorekeepers, and both ruled it an error. Then Kell High’s Michael Lattizori hit a fly to right-center that landed in Charlie’s glove…and popped out for the second-straight error. The next batter hit a fly ball the centerfielder couldn’t catch, driving in an unearned run. It would be the only hit Will would give up all day.

With runners on second and third, a pitch skipped past the catcher. Lattizori broke for home as Nathan chased down the ball at the backstop. I didn’t think they had the chance to get the runner, but at the very last second Nathan grabbed the ball and fired the 30 feet to Will, arriving to cover the plate at the same time as the runner. The throw was perfect. Will caught the ball with his glove arm outstretched and immediately tagged out the sliding Lattizori, with less than an inch to spare. Play of the game. Then Will struck out Ryan again to end the inning, this time on a fastball.

The fifth was another 13 pitch strikeout-popout-strikeout inning. In the sixth Kyle grounded out, then Parker whiffed on another 3-2 curve. After Durham walked the Bulls’ cleanup hitter hit a routine fly ball to right. What should have been the third out of the inning turned into another dropped fly ball, and unearned run. Tiring, Will again walked Tyler on four pitches, before inducing Lattizori into an inning-ending fielder’s choice.

Going to the bottom of the sixth Crown held a slim 4-3 lead. Will was done pitching, but needed some insurance runs to help protect the lead. In a repeat of the third inning, Nathan again expertly slapped another single, this time to left. Again Ryan was hit with the first pitch. I urged Will to be patient, but he jumped on the first pitch: another single to left, loading the bases. Tanner was 0-2 for the day, but this time cranked the 1-0 pitch over the centerfielder’s head for a bases-clearing double. Rounding the bases Will almost caught Ryan, before sliding into home headfirst. He made a satisfying slap of the plate with his outstretched left hand. Crown would win by that 7-3 score.

Will finished the day with 13 strikeouts in six innings. He struck out every batter in the Bulls’ lineup at least once, and allowed only one hit. Tyler was the Bull to not strike out (he went 0-1 with two walks). This ranks with his near no-hitter as a 14 year-old high school freshman for the varsity (in Chattanooga’s historic Engel Stadium, no less), and his 11 strikeouts in 4-2/3 innings, also in 2008.

All seven Crown runs were scored by the first three batters in the order: Nathan, Ryan, and Will. The last six batters in the order went a combined 1-13, with no walks.

After the game moms snapped photos of the boys, and Will posed with his old teammates.

Anna's Social Calendar

Anna went home from school Monday with the friend who lives down the street from Kevin, in Milton near the Cherokee line. Guess I have to go get her. We’re going over to our small-group leader Lee’s house, where Matthew will trick-or-treat with lifelong buddies Nathan, Daniel, and John. They’re wearing those blue-man group bodysuit things…Matthew looks hilarious.

More on social butterfly Anna: Friday Ceil took her up to Forsyth County for a NP small group get-together. C got lost on the way home. Later I had to drive up to get her, so I missed most of Game Seven. I’d taken off early to do yardwork before it rained, and I looked thrown away when I arrived at the nice house. Anna’s BFF Brittany came home and spent the night.

Saturday A and B met some girls back up at that Forsyth County Avenue for the “In Time” movie (which looks good), then spent the night at Lily’s house (the girl who shot MC’s brother with a slingshot). A came home with Will after church, and went to Passion last night. She says next Saturday we’re working at Passion’s Fall Festival, at an elementary school near PCC.

Saturday morning Will struck out 13 in 6 innings, against his old ECB teammates. It was good visiting with all the parents. Then W did yardwork all afternoon, at MC’s grandparents. Friday he did yardwork all day, then went to see Footloose with the Gilberts.

Will landed George Ewing and John Hoffer’s Tech tickets. We forgot our nice jackets (his Clemson, mine Tech) but it wasn’t that cold. Visited with DJ at the FIJI house, then saw a few old friends at the Baptist Center…including Frank Gudger. GT played well, and Clemson’s turnovers killed them. More on the Tech game tomorrow.

Sunday I finished up the summer/winter clothes swap, and did laundry. Got a bunch of clothes to sell at a consignment shop. C, M, and I ate at Willys Friday night. Saturday M and C ate at Chipotle, and Will and I ate at Moes.

Heard that Lowe was traded. Think Pendleton will get the Cards job?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Jim Nolan: GTAA HOF

When I was a boy, Jim Nolan was a tall, stern-looking man in my church…I think he was a school principal. I heard he played basketball at Tech. He must've been good, as he is in the GT HOF. Also went to my high school.

Year Inducted: 1962 Category: Basketball. Born in Macon, Georgia...Threeyear letterman at Georgia Tech in football and basketball...Selected to the 1948 SEC Basketball Tournament first team...Captained Tech's 1949 squad...Drafted by the NBA's Philadelphia Warriors in 1949...Earned "Best Athlete" awards in 19431944 and 19441945 at Macon's Lanier High School...Earned nine letters in basketball, track, football and tennis.

Tuesday this young guy here at work wore a sport coat all day. Wednesday several of us came in wearing sport coats, to give him a hard time (my idea, of course). Another guy declared Thursdays would be "Sportcoat Thursday." He wore a coat that is barely off-white. Co-worker Sue, who is about my age (with a syrupy Southern accent), said he shouldn't wear white after Labor Day. I agreed.

Busy Thursday…a co-worker was out.

REM and the B52's started up in Athens, and that Sugarland is also from the state. REM's Stipe, Mike Mills, and Bill Berry still live/spend time in Athens. Berry has a farm outside of Athens. My lawyer friend Mike went to UGA law school with REM lawyer Bertis Downs.

Will's coach had been thinking along the same uniform lines as me. My additional comments: Nothing wrong with one burgundy jersey and one navy. That way the team can have two different looks. Wear burgundy if you know an opponent wears navy, and vice versa. I agree that the simple, inexpensive jersey is the way to go. Looks great, and it tells people that you're here to play ball, that you look good without trying too hard.


1. The great thing about a burgundy cap would be that hardly any one else ever wears them.

2. It would look fine to wear all burgundy hats/helmets with navy jerseys, since Crown is burgundy and navy. And navy caps with burgundy jerseys would also look fine.

3. But if you don't like the cap not matching the jersey, having two burgundy jerseys would be good. One could say CROWN and one could say KNIGHTS (or CROWN KNIGHTS or CROWN BASEBALL).

4. Since the coach makes the final call, he gets the deciding vote…he can pick his favorite!

White pants are great…they probably look better than grey. Everyone says white shows dirt more, but that's just part of the game. Some guys are going to get dirty no matter what, and others always seem to stay clean.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Will is rooting around hard looking for scholarships. Mary-Clayton and her mom are good influences in that area. He interviewed Sunday for a Coca-Cola scholarship, and is filled out a long Elk’s Club scholarship. Someone told him about that AM 680 Chuck Oliver 5th 3rd Bank Student of the Week $1680.00 prize, so he had me enter him for that. He’d heard that one week there was only one entrant. I’d rather win the trip to Braves Fantasy Camp.

The Herschel book remains interesting, though at times he comes off as haughty. He didn’t think the Vikings used him properly, and he goes into detail about his relationship/divorce with wife Cindy. Just as much how he felt/thought about stuff as details about his life. Still, it just skims the surface on most stuff. Stuttered as a child.

Ceil’s brother, and his 17 year golfer/punter son are coming to the Tech / Clemson game. Ceil’s mom is offered to pay for tickets for me and Will if we can find them. I called our old Morningside neighbor, who was just named Campus Minister for Tech’s Baptist ministry (where I lived on campus). He is keeping an eye out, and suggested buying them on the street. Either way is ok with me, but Will may want to go. It’ll be a late finish.

I may take off Friday to clean house, since it’s such a mess.

Another layoff was announced, a salesman in a territory where we weren’t competitive. Otherwise, our Atlanta performance remains comparatively strong. The expansion into a second warehouse is going well.

Georgia Tech's Freshman Rat Caps

Whereas RATS Week must be a relatively new “tradition”, the little yellow rat caps have been around GT for ages. You may have read where all freshmen were required to wear the rat caps constantly during the fall. They could take it off if Tech beat Georgia (back then the game was played the first Saturday of December). Otherwise freshman had to wear the cap until Christmas break.

Back when I was a freshman in 1977, we only had to wear the caps to football games. Freshman had to sit in the Rat Section, the wooden West stands closest to the field. Any freshmen sitting in the Rat Section without caps were verbally harassed. Freshmen were instructed to write “The Good Word” on the back of the cap.

My best buddy Don Lott and I would always sit together, wearing our caps. As good Baptists, we wrote “To Heck With Georgia” on the back of our caps. One game an upperclassman saw this and screamed at us. We made the correction for the next game.

Before games upperclassmen would chant “rats on the field!” until the freshmen ran out to form a tunnel for the team to run through. The band would line up across the field, forming the top of the “T”. Then the upperclassmen would chant for the rats to “get” the other team’s mascot. If a couple of freshmen bolted ranks and chased the mascot, the stands would go crazy. If not, the upperclassmen would chant “damn poor rats!”

Nowadays the wooden Rat Section is gone, and few students are seen wearing rat caps. The exception is the band. When the band is shown on TV, sometimes you’ll spot a bandmember in their rat cap.

In addition to The Good Word, freshmen are to write the score of each football game on their cap. Losses are to be written upside down, and ties sideways. On the underside of the bill (which shows since rats must wear the cap with the bill flipped up) you write RAT, your name, major, and expected graduation year. Co-op students are to draw a circle around the top button.

I still have my rat cap. Google “Georgia Tech Rat Cap” and you’ll see tons of photos.

When we were freshmen, freshman orientation was called FASET: Familiarization and Adaptation to the Surroundings and Environs of Tech. A nice upperclassman showed us around the campus, and showed us where all fraternity houses were. At night he took us to several bars. One was just down the road from SPdL, and another was Manuel’s. It was during FASET that I met Steve Norman and Fred O’s friend John Rose.

COMPUTERS: About all I’m good at it is untangling wires and turning things on and off. But sometimes with these newfangled computers, I don’t even know where the switch is. Especially Apple computers, and iPods and iPads and the like. My family loves them. I’m decent with the desktop, but Saturday was the first time I messed with an iPad. I didn’t do much.

Now we have an “extra” iPod. I could use it to take pictures and listen to books, and have the Bible on it for church. But whenever you see someone at church, you never know if they have a Bible app or if they’re just checking text messages.

Our modem at home isn’t as fast as it’s supposed to be.

Crown Wins Again

Will’s team won an uneventful game Tuesday night in the Sandy Plains Fall League. He played shortstop the whole game, and had two assists. Offensively, he knocked in one run and scored another.

In the top of the first, leadoff hitters Ryan and Nate both singled up the middle, and advanced to second and third. Will went with an outside pitch and sent a fly ball deep enough in right field for both runners to tag up and advance, making the score 1-0. It turned out to be the only run Crown would need.

Sandy Plains rallied in the second. The first two batters reached, then the next hitter singled through the hole to right. The rightfielder fielded the ball and fired home. The runner from second took a big turn around third and only pulled up when he was halfway home. He turned back to third just as the other runner steamed into third. The other runner reversed course and headed back to second. When Tanner fired to Will to nail that runner, the other runner headed home. Will took the throw and immediately fired home. Nathan took Will’s throw just as the runner stopped and reversed his course. The speedy Nathan had no trouble running him down.

In the third Will rocketed a line drive right back at the pitcher. The pitcher reacted just fast enough to get his glove up in the way. The ball hit the glove so hard that it ricocheted out, falling to the ground. The pitcher had plenty of time to pick it up and throw Will out.

With two out in the fifth Will swung at a 1-2 pitch in the dirt. The ball skipped past the catcher to the backstop, and Will hustled to first before the catcher could retrieve the ball. With a runner at third, Will advanced to second, and scored on Tanner’s drive to right center.

Weather permitting, Crown plays their last game of the fall on Saturday.

Uniform Suggestions

Will’s baseball team is having a uniform fitting on Thursday. The suggestions I wrote in April were much too long and detailed, so I shortened them up and sent this to the coach:

I’m one of those idiots more concerned about the uniforms than who’s in them. Please allow me to offer some suggestions, which you are welcome to ignore.

JERSEYS: I love the fall jerseys. Isn’t that all that’s needed? Simple, breathable, and affordable. The plain white number on the back is easy to read, unlike many two-tone numbers and letters. Suggestion: Make them big block numbers, like the Braves.

COLOR: I love navy. So do many of Crown’s spring opponents. Suggestion: Burgundy jerseys, which hardly anyone wears. Still looks great. CROWN or KNIGHTS on the front in big, block, vertically-arched white letters. Simple looks way better than busy. Those Holy Spirit Prep jerseys were the ugliest things ever!

HELMETS: Colored helmets with white trim is the latest thing is all the catalogs. So is matte finish, which looks old school. Both white trim and matte finish is too much. Suggestion: A simple single colored helmet, like Jackson’s. Same color as the jersey: burgundy or navy. Big plain “C” big enough to see from a distance, in white or grey.

CAPS: Again, keep it simple. Match the jersey color…burgundy or navy. A plain “C” big enough is see from a distance, in white or grey.

Last night I told Jay I was going to do this. Thanks for putting up with me!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Comparing Herschel with the HOF RBs

I’m researching to write a defense of whether Herschel Walker deserves a spot in the “Professional Football” Hall of Fame. Soon I’ll compare only his NFL statistics to those of the 30 other “modern day” running backs already in Canton, as well as other less quantifiable factors.

Before I do, it’s quite revealing to compare his combined professional statistics (NFL and USFL) to those immortals already enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame…

13,787 rushing yards: retired 2nd all-time to Walter Payton (since passed by Emmitt Smith & Barry Sanders).

6,343 receiving yards: retired 1st all-time for a RB (since passed by Marshall Faulk).

5,084 return yards: remains 1st all-time among HOF RBs.

25,214 all-purpose yards: remains 1st all-time.

145 touchdowns: retired tied with Marcus Allen for 1st all-time among RBs (since passed by Emmitt Smith).

241 games played: remains 1st all-time among HOF RBs

15 seasons played: remains tied for 2nd all-time among HOF RBs, behind Joe Perry (16).

1,681 average all-purpose yards per season: retired 2nd all-time to Jim Brown.

919 average rushing yards per season: retired trailing only Jim Brown (9), Walter Payton (13), Earl Campbell (8), Eric Dickerson (12), Tony Dorsett (12), OJ Simpson (11), and Franco Harris (13). Years played in parenthesis.

The official HOF website acknowledges accomplishments from the old AFL and AAFC. Steve Young and Jim Kelly's USFL statistics are mentioned, but not added to their NFL totals. So why is Herschel not in the Hall?

The website also notes certain collegiate accomplishments, like winning the Heisman Trophy. In 2009 ABC Sports recognized Hershel as one of the top five players in college football history.

32,200: Herschel’s combined all-purpose yards, college and pro.

27,588: Jerry Rice’s combined college and pro yards.

21,803: Walter Payton’s NFL all-purpose yards. Payton did not gain 6,000 yards in college, much less ten thousand.

By adding his 3,167 rushing yards as a high school senior, Herschel gained over 35,000 yards in 19 years.

680 the Fan Nomination

I nominate senior Will Murphy to be your Student of the Week.

As his team’s closer, Will struck out 9 batters in 3 innings against teams loaded with East Cobb players. Offensively, he went 7-11 with a triple, 7 runs, 5 stolen bases, 3 RBIs, and 2 walks. Will caught one game, and played shortstop the rest of the time. And that was just last week!

This spring Will was named team MVP, leading the team in most batting, fielding, and pitching categories.

Will takes honors classes, and has helped lead and tutor younger students for the past four years.

(The nomination had to be 100 words or less!)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Second Straight Weekend A-Go-Go

Another weekend on the go. Left work a little early for Matthew’s baseball practice. Will rode along, and wound up pitching almost the entire time. Practiced until dark, and didn’t get back home until 7:30. Then Will took Matthew up to ECPC for the middle-school lock-in. I had to pick him up at 7 am Saturday. Saw my friend Lee, basketball wiz Conner, and his mom.

M slept from 7:30 to 12:30, and Ceil eventually got him to his game. After the bonfire Saturday night Matthew slept from 11:30 to 12:30 on Sunday afternoon.

After taking Anna to the PCC high-school bonfire (behind NPCC), Matthew and I realized we had the wrong directions to the middle-school bonfire. Finally got him there at 8:30. He went in and accepted a cup of hot chocolate. A kid accidentally knocked it out for his hand, and it got all over his clothes. The host put his clothes in the dryer, so Matthew spent the evening wrapped in a blanket.

Since the bonfires ended at ten, it made little sense for me to drive home. Had I known I would’ve taken my book. Filled up the Civic and got something to drink, then found a Dunkin Donuts to buy Ceil a bag of coffee beans. Hung out there for a while and played with Anna’s iPad. Cleaned out my text messages and emails.

Met Anna’s host, who said his name was Kenny Thorne. I almost asked “THE Kenny Thorne?”, recognizing the name from Georgia Tech circles. I should have, as he is the former GT All-American, current GT Tennis coach, and winner of several professional doubles titles. Interesting that he referred to himself by both first and last name. Kinda like a Seinfeld episode.

We left there and headed over to pick up Matthew. On the way we saw a huge, multi-point buck standing right next to the road, just off Kimball Bridge Road.

Having spent the entire day Saturday away from home, I stayed home Sunday morning and cleaned up. I wanted to finish organizing the summer/winter clothes changeover. Around noon I started to sneeze, and took a few breaks. The sneezing only got worse, and I never finished. Watch some football, the Big Bang Theory, and parts of several movies: She’s having a Baby, The Legend of Ricky Bobby, Get Smart, and Working Girl. Watch 60 Minutes about Steve Jobs, and surfed the internet. Tried to read my book, but couldn’t concentrate because I was sneezing so much. Pretty much went to bed at 8:30.

Still felt weak Monday, so I used that as excuse to stop at QuikTrip for breakfast, and Moes for lunch.

Saturday Tripleheader

Had another long day at the ball field Saturday. Will’s team split a doubleheader, then Matthew’s Tigers took the field for their last game of the season. Matthew scored one of his team’s three runs in their loss. Will struck out 6 batters in 2 innings, and again was his team’s most productive offensive player of the day.

Catching his second game of the calendar year, Will had an uneventful defensive first game. Though eleven Sandy Plains Prowlers reached base in the seven inning game, none tried to steal a base. There were no bunts, and the only throws Will had to make were after strikeouts.

With two out in the bottom of the first Will slugged a high line drive to left. The outfielder hustled over to his right and leaped to catch the ball, but then dropped it as he fell to the ground. Will made it to second, then scored when Tanner’s short popup dropped in front of the centerfielder.

Crown added two runs in the 4th and another in the 6th, and won 4-2.

Sandy Plains’ game two leadoff hitter stroked a line drive to shortstop. Will timed his leap and caught the ball for the first out of the game. Later Will added an assist and another putout.

The Prowlers brought in a talented “pitcher-only” to hurl game two. After retiring the first two batters of the game, Will stroked a line drive well over the shortstop’s head for a single. He stole second and third, but was stranded when Tanner walked and Silas struck out.

In the third Will walked on a 3-1 pitch. He scored all the way from first on Tanner’s double to straightaway center.

After Charlie allowed the first three batters to reach in the fourth, Will came on to pitch in relief. In the last two innings he struck out six batters, including the number 2, 3, and 4 batters in the order. All three had doubled in previous at-bats.

Down 8-3, Will sent the first pitch of the last inning deep into the right-centerfield gap. He cruised around the bases for a stand-up triple. Tanner walked and later took second, then both scored when Nate’s one-out grounder skipped past the shortstop. After Nate scored Crown had the tying run on first, but that’s where the rally ended.

Without two of their best players, the Tigers recruited two players from the Nationals for their 3 pm game against Shaw Park. But the two stand-ins went 0-4 and committed a key error. Overall the Tigers committed ten errors. They lost again, but they probably had more fun than they’d had all season.

With one out in the third Matthew drew the first walk for the Tigers, on a 3-2 pitch. He advanced to second on Brock’s walk, took third on Randal’s ground ball, and scored on Nate’s grounder.

After being divided into several factions all season, the kids had a swell time in the dugout, eating doughnuts and having fun. After Matthew was retired in his fifth inning at bat, his teammates Tanner and Nate rushed the length of the dugout to mob Matthew as he came off the field. They escorted him all the way out of the dugout. After the game they had a party with cupcakes, Chex Mix, and giant marshmallows.

After showing up just in time for the 10:55 am first pitch for Will’s first game, Matthew and I didn’t leave the park until after 6 pm. Not long after we got home I was back on the road, taking Anna and Matthew out to their separate bonfires in Johns Creek, for the youth of Passion City Church. It wasn’t worth it to go back home, so we wound up staying out until 10:45 pm.

Exhausted from his Friday afternoon baseball practice and all-night church lockin, Matthew slept five hours Saturday morning, then Sunday he didn’t wake up until 12:30 pm. Thankfully, he was still able to complete his entire math assignment a day early, before heading out to PCC later Sunday afternoon.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

LEGO Beatles

After going several months without touching his formerly beloved LEGOs, I found it interesting to discover Matthew sequestered in the living room, hard at work. Later he immerged with these LEGO men, made up as Ringo, Paul, John, and George.

Friday, October 21, 2011

October / November Reading List

Breaking Free: My Life With Dissociative Identity Disorder, by Herschel Walker. Though filled with DID details surely written by Walker’s professional co-authors, the book does a good job of weaving this dry analysis with previously untold details of Herschel’s life, starting with his early childhood in rural Wrightsville. Library book.

Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, by John E Ferling. Book on CD from the library.

Executive Orders, by Vince Flynn. Features CIA counterterrorism veteran Mitch Rapp. Book on CD from the library.

The Appeal, by John Grisham. Book on CD from the library.

Teeth of the Tiger, by Tom Clancy. Features Jack Ryan Jr. Book on CD from the library.

The Fourth Shot, by Christian L Balling. Was more about a post-WWII Nazi plot to conquer the US and Russia than the Kennedy assassination. After picking it up at a thrift store several months ago, I finally read it.

One More July, by George Plimpton and Bill Curry. Conversations between the writer and center on their cross-country drive to Packer training camp. Bought from Amazon.

The Joy of Keeping Score: How Scoring the Game Has Influenced and Enhanced the History of Baseball, by Paul Dickson. I should’ve started reading scorekeeping books long ago. Bought from Amazon.

I’m getting more purposeful in the books I get at the library. Instead of showing up and checking out whatever looks good, Now I’m reserving the books I want to read in advance.

Will leads Crown's Chilly Win

Thursday night Will’s Crown Knights blew open a close game in the last inning to beat perhaps the second-best Sandy Plains team, in the competitive Fall League.

Will was again the most productive offensive player for either team, going 3-3 with a walk, two stolen bases, two RBIs, and three runs scored. He pitched the last inning, striking out three batters and hitting one. Playing shortstop, he caught two balls for outs. All this after a very long day: dressed and downstairs by 6 am, presentation at 7 am, classes until noon, then removing leaves from EIGHT yards before his 8 pm game.

The Knights faced Avery, a tough pitcher who plays for perennial class AAAA powerhouse Lassiter. In five innings Avery struck out 10 of the 29 batters he faced, allowing only three earned runs. He held Crown close, despite the nine errors his shorthanded defense committed. Two SP players left the game with injuries, and their best player had to catch, despite being left-handed.

In the top of the first Will smacked a line drive single to left to drive in Patrick from second. The ball was hit so hard that the left-fielder caught it on one hop. Will stole second and later third, but was stranded when Silas and Hunter struck out.

In the third Will helped Crown add to their lead. After Jackson walked, Will smashed a hard grounder through hole into left field, then scampered around to third on Tanner’s RBI single. Will then scored on Hunter’s grounder to second. In the bottom of the inning Will caught a high pop fly, to end the inning. Ceil had seen enough, and headed home to warm up.

Sandy Plains rallied for two runs in the fourth, and threatened to score more with runners on fist and third with one out. A batter looped a line drive to Will’s right, at shortstop. He caught the ball on the run and immediately tossed to Tanner, as the beefy third-baseman ambled back to the bag. Tanner just missed tagging the runner before he made it back to third. Otherwise they would’ve had a double play.

Against a new pitcher in the fifth Will didn’t get a pitch near the strike zone, and he walked on four pitches. With Jackson on base ahead of him, Will advanced to second on Tanner’s Texas League pop fly. After Silas’ bases-loaded walk advanced Will to third, he and Tanner scored on Hunter’s single to right. Succumbing to the 39 degree cold, Will’s friend Lucy headed home.

Crown led 8-2, and young Jackson took the mound for his fifth inning of work. A batter struck out, but reached first when the dropped third strike rolled under the backstop. Undoubtedly tired, he allowed three runs on a single, double, and sacrifice fly before retiring the side. It was 9:47, and I thought they might call the game. But Crown had just disputed a balk call, and the umpire might’ve wanted to give the home team another chance.

With the game suddenly closer, Will warmed up to close the game. But Crown blew the game open, batting around and scoring six runs. Will drove in another run with a Texas League single. He took second on a wild pitch, then scored on Tanner’s double over the leftfielder’s head.



Patrick…BB, two SB, two runs

Jackson…single, 3 runs, SB, 2 RBI, BB

Will…3 hits, 3 runs, 2 SB, 2 RBI, BB

Tanner…single, double, run, 3 RBI

Silas…RBI, two BBs

Hunter…single, two RBIs


Ryan…single, run, 2 SB

Charlie V…BB, run, RBI

Nate…double, run

Charlie W…HBP, BB, SB, two runs

Saturday Will plays a doubleheader at 11 am, then Matthew follows with a 3 pm game on the same field.

This past Tuesday Crown won 7-5, scoring one run in each of the first five innings, plus two in the sixth. Playing shortstop, Will had a putout and assist. After beating out an infield single (breaking up the no-hitter), he stole second and scored on a single to center.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tale of Two Churches

After attending traditional churches for the first forty years of my life, I’ve been spoiled by two churches who are helping re-write the blueprint. A large percentage of those who grew up in the traditional church eventually quit going, most often during their college years. Others grew tired of the boring sermons, dreadful music, poor teaching, dead worship, or factions dividing the church.

Knowing there were already plenty of “regular” churches, North Point Community Church was founded as a “church for the unchurched.” Their goal is to create excellent environments: hassle-free parking, great music, post-modern teaching of applicable, relevant topics. Safe, clean, fun places for younger children to learn. Same-sex group settings where teenagers can discuss in-depth personal issues and go to well-planned, fun events. A church that leads attenders toward spiritual growth, but not in an overbearing or boring way. Lately Andy has been teaching more and more from Biblical passages, as opposed to past messages more loosely based on scripture. Every three for four years a topic might be re-addressed, only because of its significance. For me, the messages remain the best part of the service.

Though hard to notice, North Point services are strategically timed. This is done out of respect for the worshippers time. Only the most important announcements are discussed, though many others are in the bulletin and on the screens before the service. The number and selection of songs are determined based on the message and whether there are baptisms, to keep the service meaningful and on schedule. The pre-taped video testimonies often make the baptisms the most touching parts of the service. Anna went through the baptism process on her own, with our blessings but not our help.

In addition to the five main campuses (Alpharetta, Buckhead, Cumming, Canton, and Gwinnett), North Point has opened many more satellite churches further away: Peachtree City, Athens, Birmingham, Chattanooga, Charlotte, and Pittsburgh (there are more). The live services at draw huge numbers each week, and broadcasts have increased to five times on Sunday, plus once on Wednesday. They have long passed a million hits.

All together, this network of churches draws national interest from both inside and outside Christian circles. NP’s leadership can leverage the best opportunities to bring Jesus to the unchurched. When Michelle Obama spoke at NP during a Thursday visit, there were over a thousand in attendance who had never set foot in a church. Before the First Lady arrived, NP had an hour to deliver the message of Jesus.

Based on where North Point’s campuses are located, the worshippers largely resemble the demographic of the immediate area…white, suburban families. Still, several cultures, races, and types of families are represented. Buckhead surely attracts the most singles. Regular attenders are strongly encouraged to serve, and most do so willingly. Each year thousands of NP people travel around the world on hundreds of mission trips. Even more serve locally, particularly during NP’s annual “Be Rich” service campaign. Church members are allowed to vote on various matters, but membership is rarely discussed.

North Point’s structure and organization most surely reflect its very detail-oriented senior pastor. Ministries and resources are leveraged across all campuses, glorifying God through a streamlined, well-run organization…allowing a greater percentage of offerings to go directly into ministry and missions. Instead of creating new organizations to minister to a certain populations, NP instead wholeheartedly supports established organizations that are already in place. Locally, North Fulton Community Charities is a prime example. NP contributes volunteer hours, money, and twice-yearly food drives. Additionally, Andy serves on NFCC’s board of directors.

Similarly, Passion City Church closely resembles its founding pastor Louie. Big and bold, worshipful and fun. Though surely services are painstakingly planned, they usually start several minutes late. Fun, loud, spirited songs are sung, seemingly until the Spirit moves Louie to talk. His rambling messages are filled with love, smiles, and God’s Holy Spirit. Whereas NP’s sermons are delivered as multi-part series, Louie’s talks often skip around from week to week. This summer he started preaching though the book of John, taking a chapter a week. After several chapters he had moved on to another topic.

Still, PCC worship services are almost always special, as are Louie’s messages. Services are targeted to college students, and worship is enthusiastic. Chris Tomlin’s welcoming eyes seem to focus directly at each individual in the large room, quite unusual for a “celebrity”. Announcements are few, and rare. There’s no church bulletin…I suppose students know to check out the website for information.

Before starting this church, Louie and Chris traveled the country staging one night Passion Concerts on college campuses. These continue. Every New Years the Georgia Dome and GWCC are filled with tens of thousands of college students for the annual multi-day Passion Conference. Will went for the first time last year, and is returning again this January.

Anna and Matthew enjoy the smaller, low-key youth activities at Passion much more that the huge, blowout youth events at North Point. Even though NP focuses on small groups led by the same leader every year. NP does attract scores of worldly public-school kids. Though caught up in the extreme fashions, music, and lifestyles of the day, it’s great that they’re presented the gospel. Matthew in particular is known by the youth leaders (and all the musicians as well). Where else do you have a youth leader like recording artist Brett Yonker? For the first time ever, the outgoing Will is known as “Matthew’s brother”.

The PCC building is most always packed, with young worshippers standing in the aisles and out in the wide hallways. Even after expanding to two weekly services, the 11 am service is still crammed full and the 5 pm about 90% so. Repeat worshippers know to arrive an hour early to wait for the doors to open, so prime seats can be quickly claimed. Most Sundays the entire front section is completely full literally one minute after the doors open. As organized as the “door-holders” and parking-lot personnel are, there’s still a large traffic jam after the service as cars flow out to Piedmont and Lindbergh.

This makes attending PCC hard. Since teenagers meet at 3 pm, we need to leave before 2:30 to make it to south Buckhead. Then we have an hour to kill before the doors open, plus another hour to wait for the service to start. PCC services are great, but they last a good two hours. Then it takes over twenty minutes for the traffic to die down, and another thirty minutes to drive home. That’s 5-1/2 hours…quite a chunk of time for a family with homework and other undone household chores.

But we’re still at the stage where we need to go where our kids WANT to go. For all three kids (and Ceil) that’s PCC. Guess I can always watch the NP service on line.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Love the Doctor

I'll have to try that DP10. They might have them here at work. I love diet Dr Pepper. Every now and then I'll get a diet cherry/vanilla DP, but that's just too many tastes. But look out…it may make you hungry!

A diet book I read a couple of years ago made the same claim about colas. It used to be a real Coke would fill you up (they still fill me up). Then they replaced the cane sugar with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Diet colas have the artificial sweeteners. The body doesn't recognize all this artificial stuff, and it doesn't know to sent the message that its full. So you can drink and drink and drink. When I do that, it passes right through me.

When Will got his car, the miles we put on the van dropped immediately…a savings of over $100.00 a month. Ceil has also been doing a better job of driving the Civic when it's available. I haven't been checking Will's mileage…it doesn't seem to be too substantial. I have to make sure he gets his oil changed at the right time. Will sent me an article about where it's best to park.

Getting a new stove, dishwasher, and microwave installed today. Soon we'll get new countertops, cabinet fronts, kitchen drawers, sink, and disposal. All much needed. The microwave handle broke a long time ago, and the dishwasher (that my boss had given me) just broke. The disposal didn't work either, the faucet had come loose, and the stove is rusting. Both Sears and Kitchenaide were running multi-appliance sales, so we got them for the same price the Kenmores were on sale for.

Watching the ESPN show on Herschel motivated me to read his book. So far, though, it's more about the technical aspects of DID than his personal life.

In addition to UGA, Will is looking at a small college, where he might possibly play baseball.

Tuesday the cruise lady here at work is going to the Alpharetta/Johns Creek Bonefish. Cruises, Bonefish, the Florida Gulf Coast, an older son and younger daughter…they have a lot in common with the Whitakers.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Oct 8 NCAA Recap

Finally figured out that we get ESPNU, so we watched the end of the Tech game, and all of the Clemson game. Virginia’s upset win over Tech didn’t surprise me. Undefeated Clemson stayed on track to make the National Championship game, coming from 18 down to win by eleven. Take away the fumble and pick six, and they win by 25. The only ones that can beat them are themselves. After the game Dabo quoted from the book of Matthew.

I was flipping over to the UGA game during Clemson commercials. Ugly scene at the end of the game…looked like Vandy was as much to blame as UGA. That Rodgers kid looked good for Vandy. I’d say Tech’s defense is worse than Georgia’s. UGA plays better teams in the SEC.

I heard that UGA was going too conservative late in games. Even Ritch didn’t like it. After the Tennessee game he said he had sat in on the offensive meetings because he hadn’t like the scheme for the Ole Miss game. I couldn’t believe Drew Butler let a punt get blocked…he’s pretty good. Good thing he tackled that guy.

Looks like UGA will have a tough time beating Florida. They’ll have to play better than they have all year. Same with beating Auburn.

Read where it was doubtful Boise would make the national championship game this year, even undefeated. I’d hate to see a Bama/LSU rematch if there were other undefeated teams out there (except Boise!?). I could even see an undefeated Clemson team leapfrog Boise, having played Auburn, FSU, Virginia Tech, GT, SC, and the other ACC Division Champion.

Analysis Paralysis

Under the circumstances, the Tigers fared pretty well on Saturday. Without Tanner and Alex, we went to the fifth inning trailing by only one run. We had the meat of our order coming up to bat, and our leadoff hitter reached base. The next two batters put the ball in play, and the leftfielder made a great running catch when we had our baserunner stealing on the pitch. That’s baseball!

In the bottom of the 5th we only had eight fielders. Shaw Park slapped four singles to centerfield. Brandt did get two outs. Only then did those last two errors completely sink our morale. That late in the game, we were living on borrowed time anyway.

In all, we committed seven errors. Only two of them led to additional runs. In rec ball, errors are the nature of the beast. There are always going to be weak fielders in at least one key position (or three). The pitcher and catcher need to focus on the batter, and not throw to bases. Its tough getting that in their young heads! A lefty will seldom pick a runner off third. This also speeds the game along, giving us more at-bats. Brandt should still throw to first, since he has such a great pickoff move.

We walked seven. Of those, four led to runs. Take away these four, and the two runs off errors, and we win. But it’s unreasonable to expect this team to play perfect baseball.

We were outhit 6-2. There’s usually going to be one or two batters who have a bad game. Last week it was Brandt, this past Saturday it was Matthew. Everyone else put the ball in play (or walked) at least once.

22 plate appearances

2 hits (Nate & Thomas)

4 walks (Harrison & Randal…Nate had two).

3 reached on errors (Brandt, Jayln, & Randal)

6 hit into outs

4 of 9 baserunners scored.

7 struck out (5 in a row). Tough to score when almost a third of the batters strike out.

Thoughts on positions: We’ll never make everyone happy, or be fair to everyone. Some like to stay in one position the whole game. Others like to move around. Players earn (and lose) playing time at the prime positions with their play. There’s no shame in going all out to win one game. Against us, I’d say the Nationals have played their best lineups and pitched their best pitchers.

1. We’re probably at our best when Jayln pitches the first three innings…I think the Nationals (except Grace) are a little scared of him. Then Brandt, with Tanner ready just in case.

2. The best player possible needs to play shortstop every inning: either Tanner or Jayln.

3. Since so few balls are hit to the outfield, Brandt’s excellent fielding is best utilized in the infield…either first, second, or short if needed.

4. Harrison has struggled at catcher, but done ok at third and first. He doesn’t seem to mind playing an inning or two in the outfield, as long as it’s not the whole game.

5. Same with Thomas. He’s uncomfortable playing second, though he’s done well at first and third.

6. Nate is fine with catching every inning.

7. Some, like Matthew, seem ok with playing the whole game in the outfield.

8. Marlon is uncomfortable at third, but has done ok at second. He has voiced frustration with batting last and playing so much outfield. It was a great idea for him to bunt. Unfortunately, he can’t seem to break his habit of stepping toward first base when he swings.

Being head coach is often a thankless job. Things never seem to go as planned. Some things I’d never think would work turn out great. “Sure things” sometime turn into disasters. I certainly stress out about too many things that really aren’t important.

Weekend A-Go Go

Friday after Matthew’s practice we vegged out on TV: reruns of Psych and Monk. Will had taken Anna to a sleepover, then hung out at the Normans with DJ and Sarah.

Saturday Matthew played at Shaw Park at ten, and Will played at Mt Paran at eleven. Matthew’s Tigers played a close game. In the last inning I noticed in my scorebook that the hitter had a line drive to left center. I called out and moved Matthew over to his left. Sure enough, the batted hit it in the same spot. Matthew reached up and caught the line drive, saving a triple. After the game my umpire friend said the move impressed him.

After the game we zipped over to see the last inning of Will’s game. He pitched one inning, striking out two batters. Walked twice. We saw him score from first on a double to left field.

Mary-Clayton was at the game, wearing one of Will’s old jerseys that she had “fixed” (her term, which we both laughed at). She “fashionably” puts rips in the sides and back, and outlined the number and team name with a craft pen. Must be a dancer thing. Later I apologized for wearing black long sleeves under my navy Tigers shirt.

Took M through the Taco Bell drive-thru…took ten minutes! (five after we made it to the window!). Later Ceil went to the DeKalb Farmers Market. I drove up near the Forsyth/Cherokee/North Fulton border to get Anna, just down the street from Kevin’s house. Should’ve dropped in on the Hurts, who live nearby.

Great sermon at NP, how God’s power is perfected in our weakness. Andy closed with a video testimony from a young couple who had lost their house and house-building business in the economic downturn. They’re living with his parents, thankful for God’s day-to-day provision, happy to serve in the pre-school Sunday School.

Saw Andrew’s niece Caroline Hargreaves. She said they had kept the older twins. I don’t see how C and A do it (much less you and E!).

Shopped for appliances at Sears and groceries at Kroger, watched the Charlie Sheen movie “Chase”, met the Gilberts to pick up Will, and read more of my Nazi book, The Fourth Shot. The Delany Plaza scene was just one part of the book. The main character was supposed to shoot Oswald immediately after Lee shot Kennedy, but missed. Then the book moved on.

Speaking of books, for the first time ever I bought books from Amazon. Since I’m so crazy about scorekeeping , I bought one on that. Also “One More July” by George Plimpton, about Bill Curry. Both used, for a penny.

Without leftovers, today I cashed in a coupon for one of those new, improved Wendy’s quarter-pound cheeseburgers. It was ok, perhaps better than before. Looks like they’re trying to compete with Five Guys, the way they wrap them in white paper and stack them in a half box. They’re also right there with Five Guys on the price. In the future I’ll stick to the dollar menu, or go somewhere else.

Hadn't heard of Letterman’s HBO special...sounds funny. I had been aware of the morning show, but not enough to have ever watched it. At that time I tried to tune in whenever Dave guest-hosted for Carson. Then when he started Late Night, I tried to watch as much as possible. Bill Murray was his first guest, singing/dancing "Let's Get Physical."

Just this weekend I'd been thinking about the late comedian George Miller. I think I stumbled across a movie he appeared in. Once David Hurt and I saw him perform at a comedy club on Roswell Road, just north on the Piedmont Road intersection. Forgot if Don was with us then or not. Don was once heckled by Jay Leno!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Freaky Friday

In a "decentralization" move, my company laid off 23 or 24 people this past week, mostly in Chicago. One person in Charleston lost their job, and two others were offered less-desirable positions. The Western division was consolidated into the SW and Midwest, so the Western President (a former Norcross employee) lost his job.

Here in Norcross they just hired one pricing manager, and have an opening for another. We also just hired a second administrative assistant, and several more young salespeople. Four others had been promoted to new positions.

I have 4 or 5 more days of vacation to use this year. Can't use them all at Christmas. Need to start looking at the 2012 calendar for a week to go to Destin. Next year is our 25th anniversary.

A co-worker discovered you get FOUR Monopoly Codes when you buy two hashbrowns for a dollar, so I stopped by McDonalds this morning. I'm mainly hoping for the MyCokeRewards points, and free food.

Anna got her Learner's Permit Thursday. She and Ceil watched Aladdin Thursday night. I'm not a Robin Williams fan, so I read my book. I had thought it was a fictionalized alternative Kennedy assassination. That happens at the end, but right now it's about Hitler's Germany , so it's not as interesting. This morning I just finished my Jefferson/Adams book on CD.

Took physical inventory at work Friday, so there was pizza for lunch. I laid off the doughnuts.

Couple weeks ago the Hurts took their daughters down to the Taylor Swift concert. They hung around at Atlantic Station.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Hank Aaron's rookie road jersey, from 1954. Recently sold at auction for a tremendous sum. Featured the dark tomahawk, the large, classic indian chief patch, zipper front, and interesting smaller jersey patches. Nothing like it can be purchased, especially the road greys.

Co-worker Darryl's son is serving in the military in the Far East. He says people there will manufacture any jersey for $30.00...all they need is a photo. This is my order...we'll see if it makes it across the Pacific.


This early-60's era creme-colored Milwaukee jersey can be bought for $275.00. I like it because it's so rarely seen.

The Braves only wore these huge names on their backs for just a few years. Hank's brother Tommie was also on the team, making the "H" necessary.

The tomahawk had been dropped. Milwaukee (and the first few years in Atlanta) wore the small numbers in the front. Wish they'd add these numbers back.

The laughing indian patch (which would bring protests today) completed the classic look.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Trivia Night

Thursday night I pinch-hit for Joel at the “Land of a Thousand Hills” Coffee House Trivia Night. Will and Joel had been “competing” for a month or two. Their best finish was third. This time Joel was off at “some concert” so Will especially needed my help. Matthew tagged along, primarily for the hot chocolate. Staging a late comeback, we placed second.

Since I’m not a coffee drinker, at first I figured I’d also get hot chocolate. But at the last second I changed to an orange Italian Soda, mixed per order. Then sitting among everyone with their steaming mugs, I realized how out-of-place my brightly-colored beverage looked. Next time I’ll get another flavor, or something else.

Including us, there were five “teams.” Will recognized most as regulars. The first question was “Who was the Greek God of the Sea?” Matthew saved us, knowing it was Poseidon. I knew the first satellite launched into space was Sputnik. Later Will correctly guessed that Calcium Carbonate was caulk (it’s also antacid). We thought too hard on some questions, missing on the capital of Colorado (Denver, not Boulder). We were correct on Texas, Georgia, and Wisconsin, but missed Oregon (Salem).

At “halftime” we were mired in fourth place, losing 26-18 to the first-place team. I figured their lead was insurmountable, particularly when we started out slowly in the second half. In 1962 the British and French agreed to join forces to manufacture the Concorde (not the Chunnel). Insects most often bite feet (we were close, answering “legs”). The animals featured in Watership Down were rabbits (Will said Mice). In chess, Bishops can only move diagonally (we guessed Rooks). We had no idea which Benedictine Monk has created champagne (Dom Perignon). Robocop was set in Detroit (not LA). Russia suffered the most casualties in WWII (not Japan). Who Skelator was the nemesis of (He-Man).

I got lucky a few times, guessing that bi-chromatic vision is color blindness. Males are more likely to contract leprosy. In the 1970’s, grocery stores began using Bar Codes. Some questions were easy. Where the last 20th Century Olympics in the US were held (hello!).

After nineteen questions we were still fourth, just one point out of last. We trailed the first place team by twenty, and the second place team led us by fourteen. The most we could “bet” was fifteen points. Of course, that’s what go-for-broke Will wagered.

The final question was about music, a category at which I’m a novice. We had to put four legendary albums in chronological order. As the oldest person in the competition, I embarrassingly had to ask the MC to repeat what group made one of the albums (The Rolling Stones). My “educated” guess:

Abbey Road: The Beatles (69)

Exile on Main Street: The Rolling Stones (72)

Dark Side of the Moon: Pink Floyd (73)

Kiss: by Kiss (74)

Frampton Comes Alive: Peter Frampton (76)

Remarkably, I was the only one to get the question right. The fifteen points vaulted us into second place. The first place team wisely wagered nothing.

Joel would’ve known several questions that we missed. But to be really good, we need Kevin.