Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July 31: Ten Game Lead

July 30: It’s not that I’m not worried about the Braves. Advancing in the playoffs is hard, and requires superior pitching. The Braves received Quality Starts in four straight games: Thursday through Sunday. Even with several pitchers many consider inconsistent, Atlanta is second in the league in Quality Starts and fifth in ERA. In his first start of the year Beachy allowed five runs to the powerful Rockies lineup. The nine game lead gives Beachy several starts to regain his 2012 form. If rookie pheenom Alex Wood doesn’t work out as a starter, Maholm has the luxury of making several minor league injury-rehab starts to regain his form.
Monday the Braves came back to win after falling behind 5-0. They won without closer Craig Kimbrel. The MLB’s top pinch-hitter Reed Johnson goes on the DL and rookie Joey Terdoslavich steps in and more than fills his place. The offense scored nine runs.

The Braves carry a nine game lead into late July, even though four pitchers are out for the year: Venters, O’Flaherty, Martinez, and Hudson. Even though twelve players have missed time due to injuries: Freeman, both Uptons, Heyward, Maholm, Reed Johnson, McCann, Gattis, Laird, Schafer, Walden, and Beachy. Even though the Braves are near the top of the league in strikeouts, though the rate is declining. A nine game lead even though several players have spent  a major portion of the season below the Mendoza Line: both Uptons, Freeman, Uggla, Francisco. Andrelton Simmons has also struggled at the plate.

Many say we haven’t seen the best from most of the hitters in the lineup. My hope is that the hitters and pitchers heat up in late September, so the Braves will be primed for a dominant playoff run. The Braves sweep St. Louis, the team with the best record in the National League. And what does ESPN talk about? Jeter’s home run, Puig’s slide. Ortiz’s home run. Pujols on the DL. That’s New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and Los Angeles. I shouldn’t be surprised. Looking forward to the new Fox Sports network. 

July 31: Tuesday night the offense busted out. Uggla, McCann, Gattis, Justin, Heyward, Freeman. Those were just the ones I remember. Even Cunningham got a hit.

Another Quality Start by a Braves starting pitcher: at least 4 in the past 5 games. After pitching three straight games it was nice for Kimbrel to get another night of rest. Monday night the Braves were down to Kimbrel and Vavaro were the only pitchers left, and Kimbrel was supposed to have the night off.

The Division Lead is now in double digits. Will be interesting to see if a trade goes down today. I don’t see anyone out there who has better stats than who we already have. Fans clammer for a trade, thinking the Braves can’t win without one of these available pitchers. A year after the Maholm trade no one is talking about what a great job he’s done. No one should’ve expected him to be the next Bob Gibson. Maholm has quietly given the Braves plenty of innings, wins, and Quality Starts.

Mizuno outfitted Gattis with special El Oso Blanco cleats. On the back there’s a white bear, whose red tongue is shaped like Texas, and the number twenty-four. The last number 24 for the Braves who had his own special shoes was Deion Sanders.

Catching Up

With the internet down at home I haven’t been able to make blog posts. Here’s the catch-up post:

July 22: Ceil had fixed a BBQ brisket in the Crockpot, so we had that last night. Will went to a 4H event at Perimeter Mall to see MC’s brother, and Anna drove off to her Bible Study, so M and I had a quiet evening. I watched the Braves, but missed the Mets took the lead. Went to bed early and wound up sleeping late, since the dog didn’t come wake me up like he normally does. He stayed downstairs hoping Ceil would return.

Will took Mary-Clayton to Canoe. It was her last night off from Tarzan before he goes back to UGA next Monday. Earlier in the day yesterday Will asked me why I had driven the new car to work. I wondered why he asked. He drove my car down to Peachtree City. He probably wanted to drive the newest car, plus, it’s almost 200 miles from our house to Peachtree City back to Canoe, back to Peachtree City, then home. No wonder he wanted to borrow a car. At least he took the one with the highest MPG. Ceil said he was all dressed up when he left.  
Flying stand-by, Ceil made both her flights Tuesday: first to Salt Lake City, then on to Jackson Hole. Ceil’s longtime best friend Dawn, Ceil’s Matron of Honor in our wedding, who we sometimes visit in Fredericksburg (and she comes to visit us) – her oldest son Kirk is getting married out in Jackson Hole. Kirk recently graduated from William & Mary, and has a similar personality as Will. This summer he worked as a park ranger in Yellowstone National Park so he could be near his fiancĂ©. The newlyweds will probably settle in Denver…a long way from Fredericksburg. Dawn wanted Ceil to be with her all week leading up to the ceremony Friday evening.

July 24: Will and Matthew went with me to Olive Garden to eat with Sharon Langley, who coached Mighty Mites with me back in the day. She teaches at Dalton High, and has a daughter at UGA she’s trying to get involved in a campus ministry. A good visit, brought back plenty of good memories.

Wi-Fi is down at our house. Modem wore out. That model seems to only last a year and a half. Thinking about switching to Comcast internet.

When I returned from the week at the beach in June my customer shut down for inventory, vacation, and re-tooling. So after being so busy for years I actually had four weeks of quiet. Caught up on all my paperwork and had zero emails in my in box…a first. Now things are getting busy again, and a co-worker is out today and tomorrow, so I’ll be flooded.

July 25: With the internet / Wi-Fi down until next Tuesday, W and M went to Starbucks for an hour, then took Barney to the park. Anna was at the art studio in Sandy Springs most of the day. Wednesday night Will went down to Peachtree City again, and Anna went to a friend’s birthday party and slept over at her friends. I ate leftovers and baked a frozen pizza for Matthew, who didn’t want to do anything. I watched the replay of the Braves game, and read Grisham’s A Painted House.

July 27: Saturday Ceil woke up at 4 am and made the first flight out of Jackson Hole. When she got to Salt Lake she had an hour before her flight to Atlanta, but she noticed another flight was boarding right then. She got the last seat on that earlier flight, and landed at Hartsfield at 2 pm. When Matthew and I picked her up at 2:24 Ceil said she was ready for breakfast. Saturday night we went to Willys, and I had a little soft taco.

July 28: Sunday night we had homemade chili. Watched Invincible, about the Eagles. During the games the owner was standing on the sidelines, right behind the coach. The crowd booed when Dick Vermeil elected to punt late in the game. I was surprised the owner didn’t step forward to over-rule him. But the was the movie. Doubt the owner was so close during the actual game.

July 29: Had a busy Thurs and Friday with co-worker Dialysis out for medical tests and vacation. Sunday night his 18 year old totaled his car, so he’s out today as well. I was supposed to be off today, but my boss called and pleaded for me to come in. So C and A and MC are taking Will back to UGA without me. So I was super busy again today, not getting any of my regular work done, and my boss takes me out to lunch, in appreciation for coming in to work. When to Duluth Diner, where they have a great Philly chicken sandwich loaded with cheese. But I was good: had grilled chicken and a salad, with hardly any dressing.

C, A, and MC didn’t get home from Athens until after nine. Will’s new dorm room is ok. He has his own bathroom. But the dorm itself is palatial. Hardwood floors. Widescreen TV’s. Lots of places to study. At 8:30 I left to pick up Matthew. On the way I stopped at the dollar store and Kroger. On the way home Matthew and I stopped at Chickfila and a different Kroger.

Since Friday the new CR-V has gotten 30 MPG. We’ve driven to the airport and back, to Willy’s and back, down to Buckhead and back, and to Athens and back.

July 30: Got the internet set up at home…everywhere except on my laptop. Ceil was on her computer, so I didn’t get anything done. Was on the phone for 30 minutes with Comcast, who only wanted to sell me a service package. They didn’t even know what the problem was. Very frustrating.

Tech to Throw Back

To celebrate Grant Field’s 100th season Georgia Tech is wearing throwback uniforms against Virginia Tech. Perhaps they’ll like them enough to wear them all year. Instead they’ll probably have a fresh set of weird-looking uniforms, that look nothing like any other decent-looking football uniform.

So many schools will be wearing ridiculous uniforms this year, like chrome helmets and such. Some will wear a different “uniform” every week. These days it’s more like costumes. You’ll turn on a game and not know who is playing. Many schools will have three or four different HELMETS. Makes me thankful for teams like Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Ohio State, and Oklahoma. USC looks the same, but now they’re wearing burgundy shoes. perhaps that’s why they’re so bad. Even Penn State is altering their uniform and wearing names on the back of their jerseys. North Carolina’s uniforms are predominantly black. Not just tar heels any more.

Georgia’s uniforms will be a little different, with rounded numbers. Will take some getting used to.

Hudson Repercussions

July 25: The moment Hudson got stepped on I knew the injury could be serious. I was thinking Achilles. Don’t know if it was good or bad that Hudson’s wife and family were there. Lang was at the game. His first thought was when Greg Olson got hurt back in the early 90’s. Other injuries crossed my mind, like Joe Thiesman. More so than other nights my attention was on the rest of the game, and I continued to watch most of the postgame show.

A bad injury like Hudson’s is why any talk of who Beachy or Wood would replace is useless. Beat writer Dave O’Brien didn’t want to mention injuries, but fans have been asking him all season who Beachy would replace, and DOB refused to answer. This is why. Now people are wondering whether the Braves will trade for another starter. I hope they stick with what they’ve got.

Like my friend, another of the first things I thought about was how last night was Hudson’s last game in a Braves uniform. Even coming back from an injury he will command much more money from any other team. Hudson would give the Braves a home town discount, but unless several starters fall flat on their face the rest of the way, Hudson won’t be back.   

Maholm is on the disabled list. We’ll see if he gets his job back. Wood’s start this afternoon will be interesting. Beachy replaces Hudson. Like Hudson, Maholm is gone after this year anyway.  

July 26: Seems like everywhere the Braves play there are plenty of Braves fans. The love to show them on the telecast. Although the game didn’t have my undivided attention, after I saw your tweet I was on the lookout for you.

I like it when fans where jerseys to games, and I love jerseys, but I usually have a hard time wearing one to the game. I’d rather wear a plain shirt and a Braves cap. Rob takes his daughter to every Friday night game, and each year they decide which player jersey to wear. Since it was Dale Murphy night I wore my cheap-o light blue Murphy replica jersey. I did buy a light blue polyester Braves shirt. It has the lower-case a from the seventies.  I’m thinking about getting a cream colored Uecker jersey, but it wouldn’t be any good unless I wear it.

Dick Van Dyke: Former Atlantan

Currently listening to Dick Van Dyke’s memoir “My Lucky Life in and Out of Show Business.” Van Dyke hosted TV and radio shows in Atlanta some time back in the late 40’s or early 50’s. Do you remember any of them? He started at WAGA and moved to WSB. He loved Atlanta and only left town because WSB was going to fire his partner.

When Van Dyke was a boy in Ohio his father worked for the Sunshine Biscuit Company. For many years my grandfather worked for Sunshine here in Atlanta. Later the Van Dykes moved to Crawfordsville Indiana.
Ceil’s cousin Dic Dac lived in Crawfordsville for several years.  

Van Dyke’s co-stars in Bye Bye Birdie included Paul Lynde, Janet Leigh, Ann Margaret, Maureen Stapleton, Kim Darby, Ed Sullivan, and Charles Nelson Reilly.

Playing Backups

July 26: Yesterday’s game should’ve pleased lots of fans: No Malholm, BJ Upton, or Heyward. When you play 162 games, players get hurt. With the day game after a night game, Laird replaced McCann behind the plate. Not Gattis, because the rookie Wood was making his second start. Heyward sat out the day game after a night game so he wouldn’t over-exert the hamstring injury he’s coming back from. Therefore Reed and Gattis played outfield. Laird’s batting average is higher than McCann’s or Gattis’s…in the high .290’s. Sure, the all-star break was last week, but several players are still banged up. The Braves have played seven straight games since then, including yesterday’s day game after a night game. It’s good for the bench players to get playing time, to remain sharp. And it’s good for the regulars to get rest every now and then. This will keep everyone fresher come late September.

Wrote the paragraph above to convince Reid that yesterday’s lineup was ok.

With the dreaded nationally televised Sunday night ESPN getaway game AND Saturday afternoon regionally televised FOX game, fans will be disappointed unless the Braves sweep the loaded Cardinals. I do enjoy listening to Tom Verducci.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Review: The Legacy Theatre's TARZAN The Musical

Georgia’s professional premiere of “Tarzan, the Stage Musical” is being expertly performed by The Legacy Theatre in Tyrone, just off Highway 74 between Fairburn and Peachtree City. The Legacy has produced many plays over the past few years and draws talent from across the country, as well as local actors from their own Legacy Studios school.

Tarzan, strongly portrayed by loincloth-clad Jeremy Varner, and his two families (human and primate) courageously swing, climb, sing, and hang on the breath-taking suspended set - which was created by Jeremy’s father Gary. Lines are often delivered (and songs sung) while the performer is suspended upside down. In our show Tarzan also expertly dropped rose petals twenty feet down onto Jane’s head and lap.

The Ape Man’s story is told by the family of gorillas that raised him. After losing her baby Kala is delighted to name and raise Tarzan, who was orphaned in a similar attack. Katie Friedel brings warmth, compassion, and a strong singing voice to the Kala role. Her love of Tarzan is contrasted by family-group leader Kerchak, played by Daniel Burns in a wondrous (yet Willie Robertson-like) costume.    

Eean Cochran plays Tarzan’s “brother” Terk with engaging personality and even more physicality then Tarzan himself. In a cast full of personable performers, Cochran connects with the audience the most. As intermission ended Terk ambled out into the audience to beg for a snack, flouting the many “do not feed the animals” signs on display.  

Jane (Randi Garza) glides through her musical numbers with grace and ease, even when precariously perched on the tallest tower of the set.

Nicholas Crawley (Clayton) played the villain role so well that when he came out to take his bow after the show, the appreciative audience didn’t know whether to applaud or hiss.

In his professional debut, the likeable Steve Blane steps onstage and handles the role of Jane’s father (Porter) with ease.  

The aptly-named Sara Short wins hearts as Young Tarzan, bounding across the stage with a huge smile despite constant rejection from her preadolescent primate playmates. The children cast to fill out the gorilla family group added an even younger exuberance to the show. Like their older family members, the youngsters expertly moved like primates – right down to hand movements while crawling or beating a pan. A favorite child activity was picking and eating insects from their own hair – an activity performed almost to extreme. Perhaps these kids missed the pre-show meal. The adults ate much more sparingly.   

The production is wound together by the six do-it-all gorilla Storytellers, who set up the scenes (1) Musically: singing alone, with each other, the children, and the whole cast, (2) Physically: bounding about the stage and catwalks like primates, and (3) Literally: delivering and retrieving props and rearranging the sets for each scene. These Storytellers (Mary-Clayton Gilbert, Taylor Hunt, Amanii McCray, Nathan Lubeck, Kelly Methven, and Tyler Sarkis) actually play as large a role as any of the main characters.  

Legacy’s Tarzan employs the original choreography from the Broadway Show, as well as Phil Collins’ songs from the Disney animated movie. The costumes are gorgeous thanks to the hard work of Amanda McGee.

Tarzan runs through August fourth, with evening shows Tuesday through Saturday, and Saturday and Sunday matinees. It’s definitely worth the trip, so swing on down.

1980 Choir Tour

Great photo from the 1980 SPdL Chapel Choir Tour. Jim Watterson, Stuart Condra, me, and Charles Hooper. Jim lives nearby and attends Johnson Ferry Baptist. Stuart is a minister of music in Columbia SC. Charles lives in Johns Creek. Dig the beltless white pants.

Jackson Hole or Bust

Saturday and Sunday night I didn’t sleep well. Too much caffeine and no naps. Monday I drove the CRV to work and didn’t eat cereal for breakfast. Kinda had a headache all day, so Monday night I didn’t do much besides watch the game. Got up at 4 am this morning to take Ceil to the airport. Headache was worse so I took two Advil and drank a Mountain Dew. Got to work at 6:45 and ate cereal and drank tea, so I feel better now.

Ceil wound up flying stand-by. This morning she got the last seat on the first flight out, and she also made the first connecting flight to Jackson Hole. She’s already sent me a picture of the mountains. She hopes to get on the first flight out Saturday morning (the wedding is Friday night). Otherwise she hangs out at the airports until she gets on a flight.

Monday night Will took Mary-Clayton to Canoe. It was her last night off from Tarzan before he goes back to UGA next Monday. Earlier in the day yesterday Will asked me why I had driven the new car to work. I wondered why he asked. He drove the Civic down to Peachtree City. He probably wanted to drive the newest car, plus, it’s almost 200 miles from our house to Peachtree City back to Canoe, back to Peachtree City, then home. No wonder he wanted to borrow a car. At least he took the one with the highest MPG. Ceil said he was all dressed up when he left.  

As usual, Anna drove herself to her art class today. Will took Matthew to his orthodontist appointment this afternoon.

The Catch (2013 Version)

These past two games the Braves have been hitting the ball hard, without much to show for it. Reed Johnson has come through in the clutch in both games. Minor and Teheran both pitched well. Julio would’ve had a shutout if Justin hadn’t misplayed that ball in rightfield so bad.

In the bottom of the ninth it was interesting that Reed Johnson stayed in the game to play defense, as opposed to pinch-runner Constanza. At that point the Braves didn’t have many position players on the bench. Terdoslavich was burned on one of several bad calls by the home plate umpire. Laird probably wasn’t available. Pastornicky had been send down, so the light-hitting Janish was the last one on the bench. Since Justin would’ve been up in the next inning (right?) and with out many pinch-hitters left on the bench, that’s why both Reed and Constanza both didn’t enter the game on defense. Kimbrel threw so many pitches in the bottom of the ninth, and was due up third had the game gone to the 10th. If Justin and Freddie made outs, Kimbrel could’ve hit.    

Heyward made an great play to save the game. The fact that it came against the Mets in NYC with two out in the ninth should place it high on ESPN’s Top Ten plays and Web Gems. After watching the replay I went to bed, where I starting thinking about what would’ve happened had Heyward missed that catch. At best the game would’ve been tied with a runner on third. Heyward couldn’t play it on the bounce, it was too far away. No guarantee that Reed would’ve been able to cut the ball off before it rolled to the wall. So Heyward made the best play.

Made me think about the catch Ron Swoboda made in the 1969 World Series, when I was ten. I only saw replays of that catch. Some said he should’ve played the ball on the bounce because of the situation, which I don’t know the details of.

I checked out Maholm’s Twitter a few weeks ago. Looks like he goes to church somewhere where you have to dress nice. Saw where he supported Louie Giglio’s End It movement, the one with the red X. Also interesting about Maholm’s scar, from being hit in the head with a line drive in the minors.

Good SI article about Roberto Alomar and John Hirshbeck. I’m trying to read most of the articles in that issue, because they’re all so good. Neal Walk, even Dennis Rodman. Will be interesting to compare the Grady Little article to what Tim Wakefield said about him.

LOTH Trivia

Here’s an old round of trivia from Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee that I’d never written up. The players came and went: Alyssa, Haley, Elizabeth, Emily, Margaret, Craig, David, Mary, Denise, Kevin, and me.

1. COFFEE: Where does decal coffee come from? Brazil. I think we missed it.
2. MOVIES: What actor died shortly after filming The Dark Knight, where he played the Joker? David knew: Heath Ledger. Five points.
3. GREEK MYTHOLOGY: The name of the winged horse was called? Pegasus. Three points.
4. AMERICA: Where is Rockefeller University? New York. One point.
5. ASTRONOMY: What planet is closet to the sun? Mercury. An easy five points.
6. FAMOUS PEOPLE: What country is Arnold Schwarzenegger from? Emily knew: Austria. Three points.
7. HISTORY: In what month was Pearl Harbor attacked? December. Five more easy points.
8. SCIENCE: What is the first element on the Periodic Table? Hydrogen. Three points.
9. GEOGRAPHY: The Great Barrier Reef is off what continent? Australia. One point.
10. HALFTIME: A handout.
11. ANIMALS: How many appendages does a squid have? We said nine. Ten was correct. A two point miss.
12. FAMOUS PEOPLE: What country is Oscar Wilde from? Ireland. No one got it right, but I’m sure some teams only wagered two.
13. MOVIES: In what year was the last Harry Potter movie released? Emily knew: 2011. Six big points.
14. GAMES: How many pieces does a player start with in chess? Kevin knew: sixteen. Another six pointer.
15. SPORTS: Who won the 2010 World Cup? Spain. Four points.
16. DISNEY: In Peter pan, what were the names of Wendy’s two brothers? Michael and John. Two points.
17. CELEBRITIES: What is Jimi Hendrick’s middle name? Alyssa knew (Marshall), but she was over-ruled. Alyssa was steamed.
19. MUSICALS: What musical featured the song “The Street Where You Live”? My Fair Lady. Another miss.
20. MOVIES: What was Aunt Em counting in the opening scene of “The Wizard of Oz”? Chickens. We missed this?
21. FINAL: What were the top five most visited countries in 2011? We got the top three (France, USA, and China) but not Spain and Italy.

When In Rome

Friday I left work at 3:40. Wanted to leave earlier. 285 traffic was heavy, as was the traffic on 75 north. Then I had to stop for gas. Pulled in to Rome's State Mutual Stadium around 5:45. Long line to get into the main gates, which were to open at six. But I'd noticed the rightfield gate was already open, and I was able to walk right in and get my Craig Kimbrel bobble-arm (later I discovered it is more like a less desirable figurine).  

Since batting practice was still going on, I headed toward the steep grassy bank in rightfield. Saw my Turner Field BP buddies Marshall and John. John was being attended to by EMT's. He had slipped chasing a ball on the bank and broken his wrist. Said he was in a great deal of pain, and he looked it. He had to ride to the hospital in an ambulance. At least it was his left wrist. Gonna put a damper on his BP shagging. Maybe I should let him borrow one of my left-handed gloves.

Raul Mondesi Jr stood out for Lexington: a skinny shortstop. Hit a long first-inning home run into bullpen in right center. Lots of speed. Tried to bunt the next time up. .265 average with seven home runs.

Wren played centerfield. Not very tall. .316 average. Decent speed. Bunted for a hit, and later stretched a single into a double. he won't be able to do that in Triple A. Then Wren stole third, and scored on a single. Not exactly a cannon for an arm.

Level of play much worse than Gwinnett. Pitchers were more dominant than hitters.

Left after the bottom of the 8th with Rome losing.

Saturday morning we drove over and picked up the CR-V. Ceil really likes it. Gas mileage should be much better than the van. Saturday afternoon I was out looking at the car. Matthew came out and wanted to know if the raised SUTHERLIN MALL of GEORGIA sticker could be removed. I wanted to take it off as well. When I got it off, I took it inside and gave it to Matthew. Later I saw that he had put it up in his room.

Did a bunch of laundry on Sunday.

Top Ten Players Who Never Played in the Super Bowl

The NFL Network knows they’ll get objections to their Top Ten lists, though they don’t seem to care. In fact they have begun to play it the disputes. Sunday I tuned in to the top ten players who have never played in the Super Bowl. The network came up with a decent ten, though any choice could be debated.

1. Barry Sanders. The obvious number one.
2. Dan Fouts. Came close several times. Was he to blame for the Chargers losses in the championship games?
3. Steve Largent. Retired with NFL career records for most receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. His hard work and making the most of his talent were lauded. Nice to see him get the recognition.
4. Eric Dickerson. The Rams played the Bears in the 1985 NFC Championship Game with Deiter Brock under center.
5. Chris Carter. Quotes: “big time ego” “best hands I have ever seen” “knew all about winning, just never did it himself”
6. Dan Dierdorf. Was this a media driven pick? What about other great offensive linemen?
7. Ladainian Tomlinson. Set the record for most TD’s in one season (28). Better than Sayers?
8. John Randle. Better than Butkus? “slave to the soundbite, you guys are”
9. Randall Cunningham. His problem? He played for Buddy Ryan, who was only interested in his defense. Later in Minnesota he was victimized by Gary Anderson’s first missed field goal of the season, late in the NFC Championship Game. Cunningham “wasn’t a consistent passer” and “didn’t do enough”.
10. Sterling Sharpe.
Best of the Rest: Gary Anderson (NFL’s all-time leading scorer), Sonny Jurgenson, Jim Everett, Michael Vick, Gale Sayers, Dick Butkus, Ozzie Newsome, Kellen Winslow, Tony Gonzalez. Jim Brown’s last season was the first year of the Super Bowl.
As usual, no mention of the back who retired with the NFL’s third-most ever combined yards, Herschel Walker. Nor NFL darling Bo Jackson.

On the Town: Peachtree City

Left work Thursday at 4 pm and drove to Peachtree City. Met everyone there to see MC’s play: Tarzan, the Musical. MC is one of three girls in the chorus (she’s also Jane’s understudy). Similar to the recent Disney cartoon, scored by Phil Collins, if you’ve seen that.

Afterward we ate at Taco Mac. I didn’t get to bed until 1 am. While at Taco Mac on of the TV’s was showing a WNBA game…LA was playing Diana Turasi. During a timeout they were talking about Donne, but the sound was down. When Lang’s commercial came on I pointed it out to everyone.

More on Matthew: He’s has been hanging out a bunch with a girl from PCC. She lives 24 miles away, up in Canton (40 miles away from PCC). Ceil thinks she’s great. She helps out in the PCC nursery with Ceil. Last night M kept asking when we were going to SC. Later I found out why: he wants to take her up there.  

I finished The Racketeer, and am halfway through A Painted House.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Car Rankings


G – miles per gallon
Q – quality & reliability
$ - price   
SP – seats & space
Y – newest car we can buy
C – Ceil likes
L – best looking
1 = best and 6 = worst, so lowest score wins

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Injury in Rome

Fought afternoon traffic and made it up to Rome for the game. Long line at the main gate. Bought my ticket and walked right in the outfield gate.

Lexington was still taking BP so I headed to the outfield. Saw my Turner Field BP buddies Marshall and John.

John was being attended to by EMT's. He had slipped chasing a ball on the bank and broken his wrist. Said he was in a great deal of pain, and he looked it. He had to ride to the hospital in an ambulance.

At least it was his left wrist. Gonna put a damper on his BP shagging. Maybe I should let him borrow one of my left-handed gloves.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

ASG: Why I Watch

Didn’t get home until 8:30, then watched the rest of the All-Star Game. Hated missing the pregame. Heard Joe Torre did something. Maybe it will be on YouTube. Ever since I was a kid, the main reason I like the all-star game above everything else is that I get to see all those uniforms in one place. And players wear fancy shoes, that are interesting to see, but I really don’t like. Again, it’s been that way since I was a kid. I loved Dave Concepcion’s red and white adidas…just not with his traditional Reds uniform. But they were great on Dick Allen’s White Sox uni.

I was watching the Fox broadcast, but not hanging on every word. My phone was charging during the game, so I wasn’t monitoring Twitter. I did notice a few clips of Puig has worked their way into the Fox postseason commercial. Only saw a single Braves clip, of the Upton brothers. That old clip of Chipper chugging around the bases is long gone.

Joel Norman performed out in Los Angeles a day or two ago, and his new song “Errant Girlfriend” can be bought on iTunes. His partner is Isaac George, who played baseball with Will.

Tuesday night I ate salad, a couple of pieces of chicken, yogurt, and popcorn.

The past few years we’ve been paying for a special tutor for M. Tuesday night was the final session, so C and I attended. To celebrate, on the way home we got him his favorite: Panda Express Orange Chicken. His fortune was fitting: YOU HAVE THE MAKINGS OF A LEADER. M has had a good summer: he’s as tall as W, he went to Camp Highland and Passion Summer Camp, he’s wearing nicer clothes, he fit in better at the beach, and he’s getting to hang out a lot with his friend Sarah. Hopefully this will carry over to his schoolwork this fall.

Took off Wednesday morning, but worked the afternoon. Discovered there was little oil in my car. Don’t know if that’s why it’s been struggling lately. Got oil changed this morning, but it runs about the same. I get my oil changed at the car wash, so my car will get cleaned at the same time. They still try to get me to buy more stuff, but it’s not as bad.

Back Back Back! (Away From the Microphone)

Chris Berman is in a world of his own. He’s had that same home run call for 20 years, and doesn’t realize that people are tired of it. Berman is so powerful at ESPN that he can name what broadcasts he wants to do. The Home Run Derby is easy, high profile work. The point of the whole home run derby is to hit home runs. Over the course of the evening about a hundred home runs are hit. Berman acts like he is broadcasting a game and is surprised that the hitter hit a home run. Drives me crazy.

Last night someone on ESPN said the American League lineup was full of Hall of Famers. Mike Trout, Robinson Cano, Miguel Cabrera, Chris Davis, Jose Bautista, David Ortiz, Adam Jones, Joe Mauer, JJ Hardy, and Matt Scherzer. All have a long way to go, even triple Crown winner Cabrera. Trout is in his second year. Cano was dominant, but his production has fallen off. After struggling in Texas, Davis is just getting going. Bautista, Jones, and Scherzer have a long way to go. Ortiz plays in Boston but is a DH. As a catcher Mauer may have the best chance, but he’s playing first base and DH-ing more and more. The Orioles aren’t bringing JJ Hardy back next year. Being voted into the Hall of Fame is no easy thing. Just ask one of the most dominant players of the 80’s: Dale Murphy.   

After the Derby I stayed up and watched the Celebrity Softball Game. Jennie Finch has become an annual attraction. Most of the women who play do not contribute much to the game or broadcast, but Finch does both. King of Queens Kevin James stole the show, sliding headfirst into second base. The former Mets and Yankees (Gooden, Strawberry, Piazza, Franco, and Bernie Williams) added to the game. Annual invitees Fred Lynn and Rickey Henderson need to be replaced. Henderson did play for both New York teams, but sported an Oakland cap in the game. Rollie Fingers is another regular that could stay or go. Chicago was represented by Frank Thomas and Andre Dawson.

One great addition to the Celebrity Softball game has been the addition of the Wounded Warrior players. They have made great plays in the field, at the plate, and on the bases – even though they are missing limbs. Last year in Kansas City one team almost turned a triple play.   

ESPN has run two nice features recently:

1.The 7th Inning Stretch at Wrigley Field (narrated by Jim Belushi and featuring Chip Carey). Once Mike Ditka was late for his appearance, and had to run up to the press box. Then he quickly sang the song in a polka style, and was out of breath when he finished. NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon said “Hello Wrigley Stadium!” and couldn’t figure out why the crowd booed him throughout his song. Will Ferrell does a great Harry Carey imitation. My favorite singer is Bill Murray. who gives it everything he’s got, screaming “LETS!...GET!...SOME!...RUNS!” at the end.

2. Top Ten Worst First Pitches included Mariah Carey in high heels, Michigan QB Dennard Robinson, the mayor of Cincinnati, and Bill Murray throwing the ball over the Wrigley Field backstop into the Opening Day crowd.

Ceil brought the mail in last night, saw your letter, and opened it as usual. She saw the stamps and squealed with delight. Then she checked the envelope and said “That’s all that’s in there. It’s only stamps!” I told her to check who the letter was sent to, and she understood.

On the way home yesterday afternoon I cut through Bishop Lake Road, not far from our house. I enjoy going that way because the houses built around the lake and the winding narrow two lane road make it look like you’re in the mountains. It looked like some recent thunderstorms had knocked down several trees in that area, about a mile from our house.

Minor League Ballparks

I’ve only been to seven different minor league ballparks, some multiple times.

Macon Peaches (2) – Tony Perez
Macon Braves – Chipper Jones
Greenville Braves – Chipper Jones
Rome Braves – Hawaiian first baseman
Chattanooga Lookouts (2) – Prince Felder
Chattanooga’s historic Engle Stadium
Myrtle Beach Pelicans (2) - ?
Gwinnett Braves (4) – Billy Hamilton

Top Ten NFL Running Backs of the 1980's

I recently watched the NFL Network’s “Top Ten Running backs of the 1980’s.” They did a decent job, with one notable exception.

Rank, total yards, & touchdowns in the 80’s
1. 12859 - 82 Eric Dickerson (Colts & Rams)
2. 12914 - 63 Walter Payton (Bears)
3. 10936 - 80 Marcus Allen (Raiders)
4. 10866 - 65 Roger Craig (49ers)
5. 11828 - 61 Tony Dorsett (Cowboys)
6. 10286 - 64 Otis Anderson (Cardinals & Giants) (best in 1979 & 1990)
7.  4729 - 62 John Riggins (Jets & Redskins)
8.  8172 - 62 Curt Warner (Seahawks)
9.  2368 - 13 Bo Jackson (Raiders)
10. 7178 - 47 Billy Sims (Lions)

Best of the Rest: Freeman McNeil (Jets), Gerald Riggs (Falcons), Rueben Mayes (Saints). Franco Harris, Chuck Muncie, and Earl Campbell finished their careers in the 80’s, but did most of their damage in the 70’s.

13582 - 61 Herschel Walker (combined 1980’s USFL & NFL yards)
6536 - 38 Herschel Walker (1980’s NFL yards)

As usual, Herschel Walker was left out of the conversation. Walker’s NFL yards in the 80’s bettered Riggins and Jackson, and his NFL touchdowns bettered Bo’s as well. If you add his USFL totals, Herschel gained more yards than anyone else in the 1980’s. At the very least, he certainly merited a mention. Herschel never played in the Super Bowl. This surely held him back. Of the ten who made the list, six of the top seven played (and won) the Super Bowl.

The NFL has recognized the time Steve Young, Jim Kelly, and Reggie White spent in the USFL, but not Walker. Why is this?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Chinks in the Armor?

Even as I become more and more of an old fogie, I continue to be an ardent follower of transcendent rookies as they matriculate into pro sport. Most recently the young careers of Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Evan Gattis, and Yasiel Puig have been interesting to read about and watch. In past seasons the rookies to watch have included Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, Joe Mauer, Stephen Strasburg, and others. Sports Illustrated has detailed the back-story of each. As these rookies begin to face the adversities that come during the prolonged MLB season, it is interesting to see how they react and make adjustments.

Bryce Harper’s all-out style of play may have contributed to several of the injuries he has suffered, leading to extended stays on the disabled list. Saturday he was thrown out of the game for arguing balls and strikes. And though he gets tremendous media exposure by playing in the northeast and plays for the Braves arch-rival, Harper is still interesting to observe.

Nationals fireballer Stephen Strasburg also receives constant exposure, has been called a sure hall-of-famer, and has been compared to Bob Feller. Braves closer Craig Kimbrel’s 2012 season far exceeded Strasburg’s and was one of the best in baseball history, though he was overlooked for the Cy Young Award. A contributing factor was lack of exposure. Even Braves rookie starter Julio Teheran has exceeded Strasburg in several areas this season.

Puig started off with a bang, much to ESPN’s delight. The AJC’s Mark Bradley found it interesting to compare Puig’s first 36 games to Braves’ rookie Evan Gattis, and the recently released / former rookie sensation / Sports illustrated cover boy Jeff Francoeur:


Like Harper, the constant glare of the national spotlight is starting to expose chinks in Puig’s armor. On the field the league is learning how to pitch to him, and the gaudy stats from his first two weeks are quickly plummeting back to earth. Puig has repeatedly thrown to the wrong base and been thrown out trying to take the extra base. Off the field Puig has shown disrespect for teammates and coaches, as well as for former greats who had earned respect by coming through in the clutch time and time again. Puig has brushed off the media, driven his sports car at unsafe speeds, and had his interpreter line up women for him. When an injury knocked Final Vote winner Freddie Freeman out of the all-star game, NL manager Bruce Bochy passed on Puig and selected Brian McCann.  

In his past eight games Puig has batted .270 with more strikeouts (13) than hits (10) or walks (3), with only one RBI and one extra-base hit (a double). More like Uggla than Freeman or McCann.  

Many Braves’ fans and players have derided ESPN for so blatantly promoting Puig in the All-Star game Final Vote. Puig was featured in every SportsCenter broadcast while the other candidates weren’t mentioned. Then on the last day when it was a race between Freeman and Puig, ESPN showed five Puig highlights for every one of Freeman’s. The network was trying to make news, not report news. Calmer heads remind me that like the Braves and MLB, ESPN is a business out to make money. As the latest thing, Puig brings in higher ratings than Freeman, especially in the biggest media markets. So be it. As a consumer I can choose to change the channel. Hello MLB Network.


I like the All-Star pregame pageantry better than the game itself. The introductions, the national anthem, the flyover. Once the game gets started I start to lose interest. Only when the true superstars are batting or pitching do I really care. The managers have the thankless job of trying to work almost everyone into the game while trying to win the game at the same time. Fans select the starting eight, plus the final team member. Often these choices are based more on popularity than the best player. Then the manager must select at least one player from every team, which leaves out even more good players. Adam Wainwright and Justin Verlander, two of the best pitchers in baseball, pitched on Sunday and will be unavailable for the game. Fans want to see their team's player play, but the manager, usually from a team in World Series contention, wants to win to get the home field advantage. After Brian McCann won the 2011 all-star game, Giants manager Bruce Bochy was so grateful that he awarded McCann with a spot on this year's all-star team.

It's hard for any all-star game to be significant these days. There are too many injuries in football for the Pro Bowl to be significant. NBA players want to score and dunk and put on a show in the all-star game, so defense takes a back seat. Comparatively, the MLB puts on the most competitive game by far. While most players will not be going to the World Series, I don't think they want to be embarrassed on national TV. Great pitchers are facing great hitters, so someone will get the short end of the stick. Most players know that it's easier to get hurt when playing to not get hurt. What sets the MLB all-star game back is the modern day placating of players, trying to get everyone in the game.

To make the game more watchable, should only the greatest stars play? Derek Jeter has been out all season. Should he play, since he's been an all-star so many times before? What about a great player who's having a lousy year? Most fans want to see the superstars. They (like me) have no idea who's having a good year and who isn't.

How can the MLB All-Star game be fixed? After Sunday's Braves game I watched a replay of last year's Celebrity Softball Game. Rob knows that I love those things. Not the same without Kenny Mayne.

Some will be happy to know that Braves pitching changes will be coming sooner than later. Alex Wood was sent down to make a start or two at Gwinnett before coming back next week to take Medlen's place in the rotation. Beachy started for Gwinnett last night and will also be ready soon.

But remember, this weekend the Braves were playing one of the best-hitting teams in baseball. With a six game lead at the all-star break, what more should the Braves be doing? Almost every team would gladly trade pitching staffs with the Braves.

Braves and Cars

Wednesday night Ceil and I rode out to Peachtree Industrial Blvd to look at Kia Sorentos. One dealership had just lowered their price a thousand dollars. We left there and I thought that would be the car we’d get. Back home I did more research, and began to worry about all the low MPG claims on the Sorento, as well as many other quality claims. There sure were a lot of 2011’s out there for sale.

Thinking I might buy a car, I took a vacation day Thursday. Ceil wouldn’t have to cancel her hair appointment. That morning I did more car research, and talked myself out of the Kia. That left the Honda CR-V, and I found three with good prices.

Wanting to sleep on my decision, I headed out to Turner Field. The sky was cloudy, with scattered raindrops. Got to the park earlier than usual, but the ticket line was already pretty long. Wore my cheap Dale Murphy jersey. At the front of the line Crazy Darryl had on the same jersey, and we waved at each other and smiled. Didn’t see John Parkes. Darryl’s mother ambled up, so I said hello. She wanted to break in line with me. Great. Talking to her I realized that she didn’t remember me. She is just one of those people who talks to everyone. She said she planned on conning the ushers into giving her two bobbleheads. Great. Then he other son (also named Darryl?) came up and wanted to break in line with us as well. As usual, it took forever for us to get our tickets and get into the ballpark.

I finally got in to watch batting practice. Had a nice long chat with Johnny. He caught a ball, but his friend Marshall and I were shut out. A fan announced that Freddie Freeman had won the Final Vote to earn a spot on the All-Star team, and the crowd in the outfield cheered. After BP I talked to my designated driver lady friend, checked out the game-used jerseys, and made it to my seat not too long before the first pitch. Passed the recently fired 790 DJ Chris Dimino. In the top of the seventh I walked downstairs and circled the park, and left in the top of the eighth.

Friday morning I worked on my calendar scrapbook. Friday afternoon I zeroed in on the two Honda CR-V’s up at the Mall of Georgia. Same price, same mileage, same color. One was a 2010 at the dealership that didn’t want to haggle. The other was a 2011 that another dealership wanted to move. I was able to buy it for $1,100.00 less than the 2010. Left work at four and drove through the downpour to the dealership. Test drove the car in the car. Had Ceil come up for her stamp of approval. She had just picked up A and M at PCC, and had to drive up I-85 in rush hour traffic. Left the CR-V at the dealership for some final detailing. Didn’t get home until after eight.

Friday Will and MC dressed up as cows and got free food at four Chickfila’s. That night we all put on spots (except Ceil) and went to Chickfila to eat. They even gave Ceil her soup free.

Saturday Ceil had some running around to do in the morning, then we left for Macon after lunch. Visited with my parents and ate at Cracker Barrel. I had the grilled turkey salad. Sunday I got a lot done around the house: some laundry, bill-paying, and cleaning. After church Will went to see MC’s Tarzan play in Peachtree City.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Car Search Recap

For our new car Ceil wanted a small SUV. We are finally moving out of the dreaded minivan phase. We drive too many miles to lease a car, so we had to go used. Larger SUV's like the Highlander and Pilot are too expensive and don't get enough miles per gallon. These are the six models we considered most seriously.
Ceil's favorite was the Ford Edge. We looked at them at our first (and only) venture to CarMax. The Edge was at the top of our price range. I liked the styling as well, but was wary of Ford quality. After Ceil talked to our mechanic she wanted to focus on Honda or Toyota.

Next I took Ceil to the Toyota dealership to show her my favorite, the Venza. She immediately gravitated to the car next to it: the RAV4.  I had never liked the RAV4, and she didn't like the spare tire on the back. Seemed like only the 2009's were in our price range. My least favorite.
While at the Toyota dealership Ceil checked out a good-looking white 2010 Prius. Even though it would be too small for extended trips, the great gas mileage would make taking two cars on trips affordable. I researched prices and found many 2010's in our price range. Even one 2011. But in the end, Ceil thought the Prius was too small. Too bad.
Ceil hated the Toyota Venza, which was far and away one of my favorite cars on the road. Toyota quality, the largest of all the cars we considered, AND the best gas mileage. At the top of our price range for a black 2009 or green 2010. I just couldn't talk Ceil into the Venza. Probably a good thing, because in the end we paid thousands less.

I also liked the Kia Sorento, which is made in West Point Georgia. Kia is supposed to be the new quality leader, surpassing Honda and Toyota. The Sorento looks great on the outside and inside. Some models even have a third row seat, which would soften out transition away from a minivan. Visiting the nearby Kia dealer, by chance Ceil picked the loaded model to test drive. She liked it. 
Thinking the Sorento would be our next vehicle, I looked for the best deal. Last Wednesday we hit the dealerships on Peachtree Industrial. Though silver seemed to be her favorite color, we stopped first to look at a white 2011 LX at the Honda dealership. The price had been reduced to $15,900.00, as had a loaded dark grey EX with the third row of seats.

As we drove home I thought we had found our car. I'd been praying that God would lead us to the best car at the best price. But driving up PIB it bothered me how every dealership had a Sorento or three. Back home I continued to research, and wondered why there were so many 2011's for sale. Ceil's brother has a Sorento, and has been disappointed with the MPG. So were many others that had commented on line. The Sorento reports 21 MPG city / 28 highway. Many on line reported mileage in the 15-17 range. Unacceptable. There were also many reports of poor quality. Not what we need in a car.

I turned my attention to the Honda CR-V. I love Honda, and love the CR-V remodeled in 2012. But we couldn't afford a 2012. We'd be doing good to get a 2010. A 2010 looks like an old car, with the new model out. The CR-V's in our price range had the ugly wheels. Not my first choice. But there were some CR-V's with decent prices. I was ready to buy, and narrowed the field to three cars: a 41,000 mile black 2010 with expensive aftermarket wheels and two lower-priced silver CR-V's with 61,000 2010 and one 2011. Higher miles, but a thousand dollars less than the black 2010.
Ceil thought the black CR-V with tinted windows looked too gangster-like, and the CarFax showed a previous accident. The 2010 was at a dealership that didn't want to lower their price. Friday afternoon I checked out the 2011. Clean CarFax. It had the lowest price, and the dealer fee was waived. Sutherlin Nissan had lowered the internet price because this CR-V had been on the lot for too long. This dropped the price another $275.00. Best deal in town. I'd better act fast.

I drove up to the Mall of Georgia in a bad thunderstorm, and took the test drive in the rain. I had Ceil drive up in rush hour traffic to be sure, and had the dealership hire an outside professional to clean the seats. Deal.