Wednesday, March 27, 2013

SI MLB Issue: Trendy Picks

The Sports Illustrated baseball issue picks the Braves to have the second best record in Major league Baseball, then suggests they trade Craig Kimbrel. The Braves' closer had a 2012 season greater than any pitcher in history. The Capitol Avenue Club blog suggested the same thing. With the status of Jonny Venters and Jordan Walden uncertain, perhaps now isn't the time. Any thoughts?

No surprise that SI picked the Nationals to win the World Series, or that the Dodgers would beat the Braves in the Wild Card game. Or that Trout and Harper would win MVP. Or that Verlander and Strasburg would win the Cy Young. Based 2012 stats, perhaps they should've considered "C-Med". Or Kimbrel.


Am I the only one who thinks Michael Bourn looked much better in a Braves uniform than his Indians BP outfit? That might change once the Tribe breaks out their all-white home uni, or the nice cream alternate.

Today's big news: Evan Gattis made the Opening Day roster. My idea: He should become Hudson's catcher, like how Eddie Perez used to catch Greg Maddux. Perhaps Gattis could also catch Maholm or Medlin, leaving Gerald Laird to handle the less experienced Minor, Medlen, and Teheran. As we get into April, Gattis could get three starts per week: two behind the plate and one in left field. That way BJ, Justin, and Jason could have one day off every three weeks (not that they'll need it). In late April Gattis gets to DH in Detroit. When McCann comes back Fredi and Frank will have to decide the White Bear's fate…most probably an everyday job at Gwinnett.

Top 30 NCAA Football Uniforms

Last week I got bored while taking notes. I know I’ve done this before, but here’s an updated 2012 list of college football's best all-around uniforms. These days football uniforms are much uglier, especially the tight jerseys with no sleeves.

1. Alabama. Traditional & simple.
2. Texas. Traditional & simple.
3. Notre Dame. Traditional. Grey masks.
4. Michigan. Traditional. Nice grey masks.
5. Ohio State. Traditional.
6. Clemson. Need better numbers.
7. Southern Cal. Points off for red shoes.
8. Oklahoma. Traditional & simple.
9. Texas A&M. Simple & unique.
10. Tennessee. Traditional.
11. Iowa State. Same stripes on helmet, jersey, & pants.
12. Nebraska. Lose the red facemask.
13. Auburn. Traditional.
14. Georgia. Need better numbers, less clutter.
15. Virginia Tech. Many combos, most look good.
16. Stanford. Simple.
17. SMU. Pony Express.
18. UCLA. Need better numbers.
19. Kansas State. Simple & unique.
20. Oregon. Except the yellow shoes.
21. Syracuse. Grey masks.
22. Georgia Southern. Simple.
23. Duke. Simple, but too much black.
24. Miami. Nice colors. Getting uglier.
25. Ole Miss. Somewhat traditional.
26. Iowa. Traditional.
27. North Carolina. Nice colors. Getting uglier.
28. Missouri. Interesting color combos.
29. West Virginia. Not too bad.
30. Penn State. Need grey masks.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Distant Relatives

Back in the mid-1990’s I chaperoned a SPdL youth trip to Orlando. Friday afternoon I left work and drove straight to the church. We left Buckhead around six in two busses, and arrived at our hotel around two in the morning. Saturday we went the day at Disney World. Sunday we toured Epcot, then boarded the busses for our return trip. When we arrived back in Atlanta early on Monday morning I drove straight to work, where I nodded off in my office in the plant.

While waiting to board the busses that Super Bowl Sunday afternoon (Troy Aikman would lead the Cowboys over the Steelers), I was sitting on a bench next to Melanie, a bubbly teenager I had been pals with for several years. As we watched the group assemble, I pointed to a young middle-schooler and said “You know Charlie? I’m related to him.”

Melanie’s face lit up in astonishment. She wheeled to face me and exclaimed “I’M related to Charlie!”   

Together we exclaimed “We’re related!” and we shared a big hug. My aunt married Charlie’s uncle. Melanie’s aunt married Charlie’s father.

Years later I was chaperoning a Living Science spring expedition to Jekyll Island. Anna spent most of the week joined at the hip with her good friend Caroline. One day they came up and Anna said that Caroline often babysat with Claire’s twins. Claire’s husband Andrew’s mother was Caroline’s aunt. I looked at Caroline and said “That makes us related!” I explained that as a sophomore in college that Claire's family had adopted me as part of a program at SPdL. Ever since then Caroline has called me Uncle Dave.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Ted Williams, Pitcher

A blurb on UniWatch, where the above photo was colorized: Saturday, August 24, 1940. Detroit at Boston for a double-header. Trailing 11–1 after seven innings and needing to save a few arms for the second game, the Red Sox turned to their lanky left-fielder for mop-up duty. Ted Williams pitched respectably, allowing 3 hits and a run in two innings of relief. It was the only pitching appearance of his major league career.

Williams’ battery-mate that day, Joe Glenn, was also the man who caught Babe Ruth’s final pitching appearance…a complete game win on the final day of the 1933 regular season.
DET 12, BOS 1 (8/24/40) Box score
NYY 6, BOS 5 (10/1/33) Box score

Comparing Rice & Dale

Jim Rice played in Boston, appeared in one World Series, won one MVP, and was voted into the hall of fame. Dale Murphy played in Atlanta, did not make the World Series, won back to back MVP’s, and was not voted into the hall of fame. As two of the best hitters in the 80’s, it’s interesting to compare their stats. Rice edged Dale in most offensive categories, except home runs, stolen bases, and walks.


In 1983 Murphy became the sixth player in major league history to join to the 30/30 Club, with 36 home runs and 30 stolen bases. Rice grounded into over fifty percent more double plays than Murphy.



Murphy was a superior fielder, playing most of his games in center or right field. He won five straight Gold Gloves. Over 26% of Rice’s appearances came as a Designated Hitter. Almost all the rest came in left field. Rice’s high assist total may have been due to throwing batters out at second on balls hit off the Green Monster.


Does Dale deserve to be in the Hall of Fame?

Wakefield, Rice, & Phillip Phillips

Last week work was all consuming. Every night when I went home I was worn out. Friday afternoon I worked until 5:20. Ceil was doing some of her work Friday afternoon, then she went grocery shopping. I read my Tim Wakefield book, “The Knuckler” which prompted me to compare the career stats of Hall of Famer Jim Rice to Dale Murphy. Rice’s numbers were only slightly better, though Murphy hit more home runs and Gold Gloves, and won two MVP’s to Rice’s one.

Saturday morning I wound up sleeping until 10:30…mostly because of the draining week, but not all. Did some laundry and folded some clothes, then Ceil encouraged me to take Matthew out on an adventure. He found three CD’s to add to his collection, and I found a nice Nike backpack to replace my tattered Reebok sack. I got him some Taco Bell, and stopped by Kroger. Later Ceil took Anna shopping, ran an extra errand, walked the dog, then finished cooking for our small group pot luck. The guys watched most of the Gonzaga loss to Wichita State. Watched more of the Braves and Doral golf tournament than the NCAA tourney.

After attending the UGA Baptist group’s formal, Will spent the weekend  in Cartersville. Sunday morning Will stopped by for a couple of hours, then headed back to Athens. I caught up on paperwork and bill paying, then cleaned the kitchen and downstairs. Ceil took Matthew to Passion, and I drove Anna and her friends to the Phillip Phillips concert at Kennesaw State. I came back home and ate pizza, then drove back and read my book and listened to the concert while waiting.

Friday, March 22, 2013

More on Faithful

Faithful, the Stephen King/Stuart O'Nan diatribe on the Red Sox first World Series-winning season, was probably better listening to the book on CD, as both authors took turns reading what they had written. Both seemed to get into the reading. O'Nan went to much further lengths than me, hanging out by the player's parking lot to get autographs, and taking a net to catch BP balls. Sounds like there was a corner at Fenway Park where you can catch numerous balls. Will likes to catch balls more than me. I stay on the lookout, but mostly just enjoy the pregame atmosphere.

I'm about to start Wakefield's "Knuckler" book. I noticed he when he thanked Phil Niekro, Wakefield said Phil had gone well out of his way to help out.

I usually check the Rome and Gwinnett promotional schedules (and whatever teams are in the vicinity of planned trips, like Myrtle Beach and Pensacola). Minor league bobbleheads sometimes aren't worth the hassle: cheaper quality, longer lines, fewer bobbleheads given away. The April 6 Beachy bobblehead might not be so super crowded, but the intriguing Medlin doll on the hot holiday weekend will draw crowds. I immediately knew I had a conflict with the Upton giveaway (also co-worker Tim's wedding). Perhaps I can make a swap on Craig's List.

Talking to a Yankee fan about the Yankees troubles, I told him the Braves should trade Gattis and Uggla for Robinson Cano. Cano is getting older and is well paid, but so is Uggla. If our third basemen keep producing, Uggla could find himself batting eighth. Guess we should let Gattis catch in Gwinnett, to get ready for next year. Is Bettencourt still two years away? With two catchers waiting in the wings and rich AL teams like New York and Boston salivating over McCann, it's looking more and more like the Braves could let him walk.

Hopefully the Braves can keep their bats going on into the season.

I am the drive until the wheels fall off type. Both my Civic and the van have around 170,000 miles. The Civic has slightly more, but is in better overall condition. C doesn't like to drive the Civic, but it makes sense to drive it for the MPG, especially on highway trips when there is enough space. The van has a slow oil leak that isn't worth fixing, but otherwise still runs pretty good.

AEM doesn't have any money saved up for a car, but says she wants to work this summer to earn money for one. Right now C has to do a little juggling to have AEM and M where they need to be every day. Hopefully next year won't be worse. Instead of buying an old car for her, it would be nicer to let her drive the van and get another car for C or me. AEM would hate driving the mom-mobile…she tries to drive the Civic whenever I'm in a generous mood.

C thinks the Civic is too low to the ground, but has mentioned that she'd like to drive an Accord. Buying another sedan would make long family trips crowded, but we could always take the old van. I love the Civic, and smaller cars in general. The older I get I wonder if I need to get a larger "older man" car, though I'd hate to take the hit in MPG. As I age I find it harder to maneuver a vehicle in tight spaces, so a smaller car would work best. I used to be an A+ driver, but now I might only give me a B plus.

With a tiny bit of breathing room in the household budget, I'm leaning toward making needing repairs in the master bath. The shower isn't currently useable. 

Tuesday night I was helping Anna with her Jane Austen essay, and the phone was out of my reach. Still super busy here at work, so I didn't write very much this week.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Bobblehead Beatdown

In addition to three bobblehead giveaways at Turner Field this year, both the Gwinnett and Rome minor league affiliates are featuring bobblehead nights. The major league franchise’s strategy is to hold the popular giveaway during the week to boost attendance. Weekend games are always well attended, leaving little need for expensive promotions.

You’d think the same would hold true at the minor league level, but five of the six bobblehead night in Rome and Gwinnett are on Saturday nights (number six is a Friday night). The difference? On most of these weekend nights the minor league teams are competing against Atlanta Braves home games. Fans living near Rome and Gwinnett are less likely to travel to Atlanta during a weeknight than on the weekend. The minor league teams need the big weekend promotion to keep fans from driving down to see the big boys.

Attendance does swell for bobblehead giveaways. I know I try to attend those games. Fans line up early, before the gates open. Many come just to get the bobblehead. After securing their prize, they head back to their car instead of staying for the game. That night the bobbleheads are posted on eBay, to be sold at outrageous prices. Turner Field ushers do not allow fans to re-enter to gobble up multiple bobbleheads, though many scofflaws try. Some do succeed.

Minor league bobblehead nights are much less appealing, for several reasons. The attendance increase for these promotions is much larger, in proportion to a regular crowd. With fewer total bobbleheads to be given away, the line waiting for fewer stadium gates to open is even longer. And the quality of minor league bobbleheads is poorer. Facial features are not as distinct, there’s usually an ugly local advertisement (as opposed to a Coke or Delta logo on the base), and it’s not the major league uniform. All together, these negatives make minor league bobbleheads hardly worth the effort. Several years ago I packed the fam into the minivan and drove up to Rome for Jeff Francoeur bobblehead night. I was so disappointed that I didn’t return several weeks later for the Brain McCann bobblehead.

The 2013 Bobblehead Schedule:
April 6: Gwinnett Braves Brandon Beachy
April 20: Rome Braves Henry the Hot Dog
May 18: Gwinnett Braves Jason Heyward
May 30: Atlanta Braves Freddie Freeman
June 20: Atlanta Braves BJ Upton
July 6: Gwinnett Braves Kris Medlin
July 11: Atlanta Braves Dale Murphy
July 19: Rome Braves Craig Kimbrel
August 10: Gwinnett Braves Craig Kimbrel

I already have a Murphy, Kimbrel, and Heyward (also Aaron, Spahn, Mathews, Hudson, Teixeira, Uggla, Sid Bream, Francoeur, two Chippers, and two of Bobby Cox). These days my youngest son is more interested in displaying music memorabilia than yielding shelf space for more bobbleheads. While I plan on adding Freeman and Murphy to my collection, I will not be able to attend the Upton giveaway. If my son or daughter go with me to the Freeman night, hopefully I make a Craig’s List trade for an Upton. I’d like to trade for an old Greg Maddux bobblehead.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Early December Trivia

Before Christmas I returned to Land of a Thousand Hills for Trivia. Will, Kevin, and Joel were playing. When I arrived I greeted David and Charles Norman. Connor was with them, just back from his prep school in North Carolina. They asked me to play with them. Feeling needed, I accepted. Mary-Clayton and Thomas joined Will, Kevin, and Joel near the front.

1. Name a Barista. We didn’t know any of their names. I’m sure Joel did.

2. A Sophomore is a student in which year of college? An easy five points.

3. What is the name of Dr. Seuss’ egg hatching elephant? Horton.

4. What movie introduced the song “Someday My Prince Will Come”? We knew: Snow White.

5. Who created Snoopy? Connor knew: Charles Schultz.

6. What design is on Charlie Brown’s shirt? David knew: zig zag.

7. What was the music festival held in New York state in 1969? Woodstock.

8. What British band recorded the album “Another Brick in the Wall”? David knew: Pink Floyd.

9. What Civil Rights leader did Dorothy Parker leave her estate to? After some debate, we correctly guessed MLK Jr.

10. HALFTIME: State Nicknames. Golden State (California), Beaver (Oregon), Great Lake (Michigan), First (Delaware), Sunflower (Kansas). We got all but Kansas.

11. What rock group was Charlie Watts the drummer for? The Rolling Stones. Two points. Might’ve been my answer.

12. What measure of energy comes from the Latin word meaning heat? I said calorie, and everyone agreed. Six points.

13. Which Chinese year comes after the sheep and ram? Monkey. No team got it right.

14. What was the first Disney animated movie not based on an already existing story? The Lion King. Only two teams got it.

15. In what year was the first iPhone released? We correctly answered 2007. Four points.

16. What branch of the US military only had 50 members when WWI broke out? I thought it was the Air Force, but we answered Marines. I was right. A six point miss.

17. How many grooves are on the edge of a quarter? No one got it right: 119.

18. Nollywood refers to the huge movie industry in what country? No one got it right: Nigeria.

19. Which First Lady said “No one can make you feel inferior unless you consent.”? We correctly answered Eleanor Roosevelt. Six points.

20. FINAL: Name the five biggest selling soft drinks. Coke, Diet Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Dr. Pepper. We got four of the five, in order, only missing Mountain Dew.

The DoorHinges did better than us, finishing second…two points out of first place.

Monday, March 18, 2013

To Heaven and Back

Got out of work Friday at 5 pm, thinking I was done for the week. Got a call on the way home, then I had to do some work between 7:30 and 8 pm. Matthew cooked chicken soup for dinner. Read my Hank Haney book, then around 9 pm I went into the living room to take a quick nap. Didn't wake up until 1:30 am. Went upstairs to bed, but tossed and turned all night. At 6:39 am I thought my alarm was going off, but it was work calling. Went downstairs and worked for another 30 minutes. Sent an email shortly after 7 am and went back to bed. Later I discovered the customer replied to my email ten minutes after I had sent it.

Finished the Haney book and started "To Heaven and Back", written by a surgeon from USC who drowned while kayaking. She was escorted by angels to the gates of heaven before being revived. I have found these books on Near Death Experiences (NDE) are filled with how God worked in the individual (and entire family's) life both before and after the NDE…much to the chagrin of skeptics who don't want to hear about God. To Heaven and Back is a quick read. I knocked out 150 over the weekend. A good, personal, life story shared by a woman who grew up in the church, who chose a busy career in the medical and academic communities.

Home from his quick trip to NC, on Friday Will went mountain biking with MC's brother Thomas, then attended his baseball practice. Saturday morning Will went to Thomas' doubleheader, and got sun on his cheeks, nose, and forehead. Before he drove to the airport to pick up MC (coming home for her spring break), Will shaved off his long beard. The couple stopped by Grant Park for a quick date before coming back to the house to eat Will's favorite meal: spaghetti and meatballs. Later in the evening MC's parents swung by on their home.

After doing some cleaning, M and I hit four thrift stores Saturday afternoon. He found two Relient K CD's. When I spied a new pair of size 16 Nike basketball shoes I thought of big-footed David Bartlett, who was excited to have them. After feeding M at McDonalds we swung by David's house, and had a nice chat with coach Henry, recent UGA grad Willie, and KSU student David. Henry wants Will to play adult league baseball with them this summer. David will be the youth intern at East Cobb Presbyterian, a position formerly held by Willis Norman.

Sunday morning Ceil served me breakfast in bed: scrambled eggs and homemade bread with strawberry jelly. I cleaned upstairs for a long time. Later we went down to Passion Church. It was the first Sunday for their new service times: 9 am, 11 am, and 5 pm. Afterward we ate at Chilis with the Gilberts. Back home I finally saw the two new episodes of Duck Dynasty.

Walking across the parking lot this morning I thought that most of the emergencies had been taken care of last week (and Saturday). But as soon as I got to my desk my phone started ringing. Here we go again!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Bullpen Struggles

Watched Kimbrel "blow" the game Thursday night for Team USA. It was big of him to come out for the interview after the loss. Great strike call by Angel Hernandez just before Aybar's big hit, on a pitch a foot outside. The call seemed to just fire up Aybar. Watching Torre in the postgame interview session made me think how funny it would be if Team USA were to lose a crucial game on a botched infield fly rule call.

Wednesday night I watched Venters walk four straight batters. Perhaps he was just working on a certain pitch. Makes that Capitol Ave Club post about overvalued relieve pitchers all the more poignant. Walks and strikeouts: I hate'em both. Speaking of strikeouts, my man Uggla continues to flail. I shouldn't get too worried about what happens in spring training.

Saw highlights of Andruw striking out against Japan…his future league. Considering his struggles against everything but fastballs, it doesn't seem like a good idea for him to join a league where most of the pitchers specialize in everything except fastballs.

Thursday night I took M up to Woodstock to look at an electric guitar. Turned out to be too small. Saw a nice one on Craig's List, but it probably is already sold. After feeding him at Taco Bell we picked up W at Living Science. He and Kevin had just returned from their trip to High Point NC. Several LS graduates had met up at the property during their spring break…
…Holt is still playing baseball with the Gwinnett Barons.
…Sarah has gotten quite active at the College of Charleston. Learned that she is a big Bieber stalker.
…Alyssa was home from West Point.
…Kevin has found our new Braves blog. He mentioned that we need to add on the comments feature. Since we hadn't posted anything in a while, last night I posted a couple of few old items, including a response about the makeup of the bench. Doesn't seem like too much has changed since then.

Wednesday night A and C went looking for prom dresses. They found a nice one at Macys for a good price, and it was on sale. A crazy busy week at work.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Big Miss

The Big Miss, Hank Haney's book about his years coaching Tiger Woods, is pretty good…if you like golf. Lots of technical stuff about what Hank was trying to get Woods to do, in terms of his swing. You learn as much about the soft-spoken Haney in the book as you do Tiger. Haney touches on some of the most controversial aspects of Woods, but generally does so without judgment or pointing fingers. In some instances Hank took the blame for coaching errors he made.

Haney says Tiger could've won more if he had practiced putting and chipping more. He was sure Tiger injured himself training like a Navy SEAL, bulking up his upper body, and running in combat boots, though Woods claimed all his injuries were golf-related. Hank was not aware of Woods' extramarital affairs, but said over the years Tiger had become increasingly distracted by his cell phone during practice sessions. Afterward Haney tried to remain supportive and encouraging, though Tiger had rarely been more than businesslike toward Haney.

I was the one running around Tuesday. Stopped by the auto shop on the way home from work. Drove M to his group meeting. While I was waiting for him I bought him an Italian soccer jersey, and wrecked my diet at Taco Bell. Read my Hank Haney Book. On the way home we stopped by Goodwill and Taco Bell. Back home I read more of my Haney book, and took C up to Roswell to pick up the van.

Lavonia GA

Lavonia is one of those small Georgia towns with a quaint downtown, and several old buildings and brick warehouses. Café 211 is run by several Mennonite ladies wearing plain dresses.  The younger women serve as waitresses: ours was very outgoing and pleasant. She recognized one of my lunch partners and had a quick conversation. The entrees were similar to that of a mid-to-upscale Atlanta lunch spot…mostly salads and sandwiches. I got a southwest chipotle grilled chicken salad. The Ogre’s boss, Sue, ordered the quiche. Lots of cakes and pies for dessert. On the way back to Norcross we stopped by the Mayfield Dairy in Braselton for ice cream.

Friday night Ceil cooked boneless bbq chicken. I was still full from my trip. Saturday and Sunday morning for breakfast Ceil cooked bacon and eggs, with toast made from homemade bread. Matthew and I ran some errands: library, Goodwill, and McDonalds. He found several good CD’s for his collection, including the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and Fleetwood Mac Rumors. Later in the afternoon Matthew had a guitar lesson. I washed my car and cleaned the interior, and ran up to the bank. Later we went to eat at Willys.

Sunday I read my book and did laundry. Watched the Doral golf tournament all afternoon: all 18 holes that Tiger played, plus more before he started. Will arrived home from his weekend chaperoning the 4-H congress at Rock Eagle. Exhausted, he took a three hour nap. Paid bills and caught up on paperwork, and watched Duck Dynasty. Had to run back to the bank and Publix, then left my car at the shop.     

Monday Ceil bought some shrubs at Lowes, and Will and Matthew got most planted before it started raining. Tuesday Will rode up to High Point in NC with Kevin, to visit Kevin’s sister in college.

Several other sports websites were buzzing about the top 64 NFL QBs, copying what Cowherd had started. Looked up the HOF QB’s…besides several from the 1930’s that no one has heard of, I had only forgotten Otto Graham and Warren Moon. Also Dutch Clark and Bobby Layne. Left my notes at home, so maybe I’ll work on it more tonight.

I really don’t use that many apps on my phone. Seems like tablets are more convenient than laptops, to use while sitting in front of the TV. The book reader app is nice, giving one less to carry around. eBay app: I use eBay more by clicking on the app. Seems faster than going through the internet. Twitter. Other apps: Bible. Alarm. Email. Camera. Video. Weather. Newspapers: AJC, USA Today, etc. Golf games. GoodReads, to track the books you’ve read, and want to read.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Duluth Diner

The Duluth Diner: not my favorite, but they have an extensive menu and decent food. My favorite is the Philly Cheese Chicken sandwich…much better than their burgers. Chris likes the patty melts. I need to get a salad. Thursday morning I ate a banana…my first in weeks. The rest of the morning my stomach felt queasy.

Had a decent chicken salad sandwich at the Duluth Diner, with lettuce and bacon on toasted bread. I guess I had to ask for tomato. Ate fries, though I shouldn't have. Between the food and the Diet Coke, I got a bad case of heartburn that lasted the entire meal. My sandwich looked better than the club I almost ordered. Another guy got the Philly Cheese…looked good but it would've filled me up even more. The guy finished it. Nice when the Ogre picks up the tab.

My back was feeling better, but Wednesday night I did more chores than I had since my back went out. Woke up with mild pain during the night, evening though I slept on the electric blanket to keep my back warm. 

Tuesday night I woofed down leftover pizza before taking Matthew to his group meeting. Back home I helped Anna with her Jane Austen term paper, and read my Hank Haney book.

Friday I'm going up to visit our fabricator up I-85 in Lavonia. We're eating at Café 211, a Mennonite restaurant that serves fresh vegetables, etc. I'll give you a review afterwards.

The Uggla Conspiracy

After Dan Uggla went on another one of his patented Spring Training strikeout streaks, the second-baseman was able to pad his lofty On Base Percentage Tuesday night against the Yankees by getting hit in the neck with a pitch. According to reports, Dan was fine, but the ball was damaged beyond repair. Despite slimming down in the off-season, the pitch did not knock Uggla down. As a precaution, Uggla was removed from the game. Had it been the regular season instead of spring training, Dan probably would have stayed in the game. Even Fredi Gonzalez knows a hurting Dan Uggla is better than a healthy Tyler Pastornicky.

The hit-by-pitch incident got me thinking. Say what you will about Uggla’s performance: the strikeouts, the low average, yadda yadda yadda. Uggla shows up to play, every day. The only time he’s been out of the lineup these past two seasons is when he’s been sat because of poor performance. In the meantime, other teammates have strung together time on the DL because of various ailments: Chipper, Heyward, Prado, Hudson, McCann, Freeman, Simmons, Moylan, Beachy, Jurrigans. Seems like everyone gets hurt, except Uggla.

After his slow start, perhaps the Braves front office got together and conspired to find a way to get Uggla out of the lineup. And what better accomplice to help with the deed than the evil empire: the New York Yankees? Bean Uggla, and find a way to get every fan’s favorite pheenom Evan “El Oso Blanco” Gattis into the lineup?

To many fans I read on blogs or Twitter, the fact that Gattis cannot play second base would be not problem at all. Though only a serviceable fielder at his two “natural” positions (catcher & left field), fans continue to suggest that Gattis be moved to third base. These self-proclaimed experts see no difference between the National League and Little League, where position changes aren’t as problematic. Move Freeman to third and install McCann at first. Move Heyward to center. Move Chipper to first. I’ve heard it all.

But if Uggla gets hurt, who plays second so The White Bear can squeeze into the lineup? No problem. BJ Upton looks like a second-baseman. Move him there.

The Uggla Conspiracy. You heard it here first.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Von Dutch Bowling Bag

Came across a vintage Von Dutch bowling bag at Goodwill last night. Beat up just a little bit, but it still looked great. Only $3.98, but I really didn't need it. Would it have brought twenty on eBay? Perhaps.

Quote of the Day

"Baseball is designed to break your heart.
The game begins in the spring,
when everything else begins again,
and it blossoms in the summer,
filling the afternoons and evenings,
and then as soon as the chill rains come,
it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.”

- A Bartlett Giamatti 

Bunting Heyward?

Heyward’s bunting: As I recall, last Friday the defense put on the shift. Needing a baserunner, Heyward bunted for a hit. McCann and Ryan Howard have done this in the past. The “fan” on Twitter is in fact quite the sabermatician. Yes, his tweet was polite, and seemed to be offered from a true fan’s perspective. Later he tweeted that he wasn’t expecting a response. The fan was taken to task by other “experts” – who went as far as setting up mock Twitter accounts in his name. Even Medlin got involved in the conversation, and thought Heyward might’ve gone too far when Jason mentioned Ryan Braun and PED’s in the same tweet.

But back to bunting. Even in this era of statistical analysis, there is still a place for bunting in baseball. Perhaps it will be rare that a beast like Heyward is asked to bunt, even batting in the two hole. But when the defense puts on the shift, the bunt can be a valuable weapon – particularly with the bases empty. Many fans may disagree, instead wanting to see doubles and home runs. These same fans bemoan the high strikeout numbers. They want to have their cake and eat it too.

Hudson: I’m thinking Medlin will be the opening day starter. The order of the rotation will be determined not by best to worst, but to not bunch the lefties together.

Bethancourt: Knowing the Braves, they’ll keep him in the minors until June so they can wrangle another year of service out of him before he goes free agent (like Simmons last year). We may not see Bethancourt until June 2014 (unless McCann walks). Better to keep Gattis on the roster as the backup backstop until McCann returns.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

New Braves Blog

In an effort to broaden my horizons, I’ve joined three friends as co-writer of a new blog about the Braves. Named “Subject: Re: Braves”, it’s the swapping of emails between us on the day-to-day ups and downs of the Braves season. I so enjoyed “Faithful”, the diary of the Red Sox 2004 season, kept by authors Stephen King and Stuart O’Nan, that I thought we should try it ourselves.

For years my friend Rob and I have swapped Braves-related emails. Rob attends most every Friday night home Braves game, and is quite knowledgeable about what’s going on down on Hank Aaron Drive. Lang is a huge fan, who keeps up with the Braves from afar. He wrote the book “In the Time of Bobby Cox”. John was also anxious to start a Braves-related blog. He attends most weekday games, driving up from Macon with longtime friend Marshall in time to shag batting practice home runs. I knew John and Marshall in college. John officiated Don Lott’s wedding.

My hope is that we each can share our personal Turner Field experiences and adventures, in addition to our thoughts about the team. To me, this is what made Faithful a great book. We’ll see how this new adventure goes. It’s similar to throwing four guys into an apartment, who are used to doing things their own way. John and Lang are professional writers, and Rob has the statistical and analytical end covered. Keeping up with these guys will be a challenge. Perhaps I can add humor, and analyze the uniforms.

The name is reminiscent of an email subject line, which would be commonly used when swapping emails about the Braves. For other names we considered, check our first blog post at

I considered asking young Kevin and recent UGA grad Isaac to join us, but figured four would be plenty. Both are devoted baseball fans that I hope will at least add comments to our blog.

This may lessen the amount of material posted here on Sac Fly, at least as far as Braves news is concerned. Please check out our new venture, and tell us what you think.

Good News

Will got the job as a resident assistant in the UGA dorms next year. I told him to only do it if he wants to, and not just because we’re strapped for cash. Will says he wants to do it. That means we can get our master bathroom fixed up. Also both cars need to go into the shop, and we need a new garage door opener.

When he has the time, Will is helping coach the baseball team at Donovan High, a Catholic school in Athens. They play some of the teams that Will’s old Crown team plays. Learned over the weekend that Will’s former teammate Nathan had season-ending shoulder surgery. A switch-hitter, Nathan was the lightning-fast second-baseman/catcher/pitcher that Crown was counting on to help replace Will. Nathan’s sister Jordan graduated with Will, and his dad was a perennial scorekeeper like me. Brother Justin always goes to Switchfoot concerts with Matthew.

Will’s beard is getting pretty long.  

My back is better. Certainly not 100%...perhaps I’m at 75%. I tried to rest all weekend. Monday night I was trying to help clean the kitchen, and it started hurting.

Friday night we had Duck Dynasty on. I watched some, and read some.

Stayed upstairs reading Saturday morning. Eventually finished “The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven”. Just as interesting as “Heaven is for Real”…perhaps a better story. Started on Hank Haney’s “The Big Miss” about his time coaching Tiger Woods. The first part of the book is about Haney’s background, how he was always interesting in teaching golf. I’m not super knowledgeable about Haney, but he comes across to me as a humble guy. Haney revealed that he had to battle (& overcome) alcohol, and that he was always focused on improving as a teacher.

Will came home Saturday morning, and everyone (but me) went to see Joel Norman’s play in Rome. Sunday I watched the Braves. Joel came over and rode with Will to church. Last night we watched The Bible on the History Channel.

Monday night Ceil cooked Sloppy Joes for dinner, and they were great. Kinda sweet. Better than any recent spaghetti sauces or chili that she’s made. Chili is usually good, but too spicy. Ceil also cooked some squash soup. After supper I helped M with the outline for his Wright Brothers essay. Didn’t know that Orville once flew in a modern airplane piloted by Howard Hughes. Also read my Hank Haney book. I’ll sail through that one quickly.

Hear about the fuss people were making about the Capitol Ave Club’s author tweeting Heyward, telling him not to bunt? I first read about it on Rowland’s Office, then looked the guy up on Twitter. Heyward seemed pretty mature about it, except when he mentioned Ryan Braun and PED’s in the same tweet. Medlin thought he went too far with that one.

Friday, March 01, 2013

RUSH 2013

104.7 the Fish was advertising an event that included Switchfoot and members of the Duck Dynasty family. I looked it up…RUSH is the first weekend in May down at Truitt Cathy’s farm south of Griffin. Brad Jones, the young assistant pastor at Passion City Church, is the main speaker. The worship leader of the glorified youth retreat is also from Passion, Kristain Stanfill (grew up attending Johnson Ferry). Ceil’s favorite singer has a concert Friday night: David Crowder. I guess Willie and Si Robertson are speaking Saturday, before the evening Switchfoot concert. I signed up to be a volunteer. If they need me, I’ll sign up Matthew for the event.

Felt a little better Friday. If 100% is being able to run and work out, I may have improved from yesterday morning’s 10% up to maybe 30 or 40%. Still some pain, particularly when I go to stand up, but I am walking around a little better. Yesterday I was feeling better as the day progressed, but I didn’t take many trips from my desk. The afternoon was better than the morning. On the way home I stopped at the stinky Kroger and walked to the two far corners of the store, for meat and yogurt. By the time I got back to my car I was worn out.

Took it easy last night. Lay down for a little while before supper. Ceil cooked homemade pizza. Sitting on the couch isn’t the most comfortable, but I knocked out about forty pages of my book. I’m trying to not overdose on the painkillers. I haven’t had the killer pain since Wednesday.

Jan / Feb Thrift Store Recap

Joe Torre autobiography. Great read.
Brooks Brothers dress shirt. Hard to pass up this great deal.
Flannel Shirt. So I can fit in at Passion Church.
Black pants. Brand new, with tags. A little big, but another great deal.
Black wool dress slacks from the Gap. Very nice, perfect fit.
Bobby Jones plaid golf pants. A great addition to my growing collection of comfortable yet flashy golf wardrobe.
North Face short sleeve shirt. Great looking blue plaid. Perfect for the summer.
Black New Balance warm-up pants. I’m a sucker for these, but now six nice pairs are probably enough. I do want a pair of royal blue adidas warm-ups, though.
Cotton Nike warm-up pants (also black). New, with tags. Warmer than the other polyester warm-ups.
Blue grey Nike running shorts. Good looking, replaces the pair Will got paint on. To wear in the Peachtree.
Grey hiking shorts. What seems to be the latest style. Will likes them.
Black Izod golf shorts. Pleated, but they’re my favorite color.
New Balance tennis shoes. Good looking, particularly with shorts in the summer, or my navy warm-ups pants. Broke my cardinal rule: no white shoes. But these have LOTS of navy trim.
Two ten pound weights. I needed them, and these are in perfect condition. Saved me a trip to Play It Again Sports.

Matthew has officially discovered thrift stores, so on several Saturdays he’s gone with me to run errands and go thrifting. Consequently, I’ve bought more than usual for me. Matthew’s finds:

Black Beatles T-shirt. I got this one for him, and he loved it.
Camo jacket. M picked it out, and it worked perfectly on his winter youth retreat.
Switchfoot combo CD/DVD. M had never seen this particular product, either on-line or in a store. His prized possession.
Six other CD’s, including two Jonas Brothers CD’s. Additions to the growing collection he keeps in his room.
Two VHS movies. The Lord of the Rings, or the Hobbit.
Four car magazines.