Saturday, September 28, 2013

VT Beats GT

I was looking forward to watching the Tech game last night for several reasons. I hadn't seen them play all year, and I thought they had a real chance to beat Virginia Tech. The offense had been opened up to best utilize the tremendous skills of Vad Lee. Any offense than can run Paul Johnson's option and pass with precision would be hard to stop by even the best of defenses. Ted Roof's defense was showing marked improvement over last year, and I also wanted to check out freshman kicker Harrison Butker. And as an additional bonus, GT was breaking out throwback uniforms for the occasion.

Unfortunately GT once again fell flat on national TV. Thanks to the defense (and several VT miscues), the game was close – actually quite winnable. But time after time GT's offense sputtered and committed stupid mistakes – so many that a list is required.

1. Six offsides penalties. Three by the same lineman. Once by two wideouts. How long have these guys been playing football? Vad said these penalties were his fault, because he had lost control of the huddle. This was his fourth game as a starter. Not good at all.

2. GT couldn't run the option. VT has a great defense, and made a point of stuffing the middle and covering the option. Vad made many poor option reads, especially on his handoffs up the middle. Not the best play-calling OR execution.

3. GT's passing game was ineffective, for several reasons. Lee only completed 7 of 24 passes, with two interceptions. Despite working with the much-heralded "quarterback guru" Vad kept under-throwing receivers due to throwing off his back foot. The passes went too high and too short. VT put great pressure on Vad, which was definitely a factor. Several passes were dropped, including a couple by Smelter.

4. Johnson's decision to go for it on fourth & two with over eight minutes remaining was rightly taken to task by the ESPN announcers. The play call was horrible: VT had stuffed the middle all night. Had VT scored, GT could not have scored twice to catch up.

5. On GT's final possession Vad took most all of the snaps from under the center. With the clock counting down VT would've loved for GT to run, but knew GT had to pass to win. Despite this, Paul Johnson had Vad waste time dropping back to pass in an effort to disguise the pass. Instead VT defenders had more time to pressure the passer. Only on the final fourth down play did Vad take the snap from the shotgun – even though he had taken many shotgun snaps earlier in the game.

VT did not play their best game, and the Hokie offense is definitely beatable. The VT offensive coordinator makes the best use of QB Logan Thomas' abilities. GT has never been able to tackle Thomas. The large QB is not forced to make many difficult, long throws, instead focusing on short, quick passes. Unlike many, I do not see Thomas making it big in the NFL.

The fans in the stands did dress mainly in white, perhaps GT's best white-out yet. Although white-outs have become the latest thing in the NBA playoffs. they are yesterday's news in college football. GT is usually late to recognize trends like this. Despite a few alumni non-participants, the white-out did not contribute to GT's embarrassment.

GT's uniforms were the highlight of the evening. The gold pants with simple stripes looked great, The uniforms were supposed to be replicas from the 1950's, when GT's three sleeve stripes were black-gold-black. In the 70's GT only had two stripes. Thursday night most players only wore two stripes, not counting the lower black band at the end of the sleeve. The offensive linemen did have the 50's style three stripes plus the black band. In the early 80's Ted Roof captained the black Watch defense, which were designated by an all-black GT helmet logo. Thursday night GT went without a helmet logo to be like GT's helmets in the 1950's. I wish they'd wear these throwbacks in every game.

Turner Field Thursday

Decided to check out the Braves “mystery giveaway” Thursday. Quite the disappointment: a small Chipper retirement poster dated back in June. I did receive a voucher for a free 2014 ticket. For that I should’ve gone through the dollar line twice.

After walking from my usual parking place I arrived at the dollar line around 4:10. There were a few people in line, but not many. I could see that there wasn’t a pile of white bobblehead boxes stacked up inside the gates. I should’ve known that had the Braves given away anything good they would’ve advertised the specific item.

Crazy Darrell was at his usual spot at the front of the line. He entertained us earlybirds by playing a pretend baseball game. I thought about taking his picture. I looked for John Parkes at the front of the line, but he arrived late due to MARTA. John joined me in line and we had a nice chat. He only missed two games last season, but missed many weekday games this year while watching the Sneaderman trial. Once inside John follows a specific routine: watching BP from the shade near the left field foul pole, heading over to the designated driver booth at 5:20, then visiting with several of his upper deck usher friends.

While in line I noticed a guy sitting on a retired number monument. Not sure he wasn’t mentally handicapped. Later during BP a line drive sailed over the mesh fence protecting the fans down in the left field third foul territory. The shot appeared to hit this guy smack in the side of his head. He continued to sit there, but you could tell it hurt him. ushers rushed to attend to him, but he actually was able walk off to get further aide.

It was the first game I was able to wear my new Bob Uecker jersey. Fortunately it wasn’t too hot. I also wore my new Braves road cap. Since the Braves tepid offense exploded for seven runs, Perhaps I should continue to wear my new cap.

My friend Johnny was in his usual spot, still wearing his cast and left-handed first-baseman’s mitt. We had a nice chat – he agrees with me about Brian Jordan’s inability as an analyst. Very few home runs were hit in BP, and Johnny was shut out for only the fifth time all season (45 games). Evan Gattis hit a ball that bounced up and landed on the ledge just below the 1995 world champions banner. Ceil called, and I missed chasing two home runs while on the phone. Johnny narrowly missed two balls. he played one bounce perfectly, but his lack of lefty experience caused him to miss one of them.

Marshall wasn’t at the game, and a big guy grabbed two balls while standing in his spot. He didn’t have to move to catch one home run. Marshall’s son came by to say hello. Says he almost has the neon tomahawk fixed. Johnny joked that the mystery giveaway was getting increasingly worse as the gametime grew near, saying that soon they’d be giving away BJ Upton bobbleheads. I added that after that they’d give out TWO BJ Upton bobbleheads.

After BP I checked out the game used shop (no Bobby Dews jerseys), got my designated driver Coke Zero, and headed back to the car. Downtown traffic wasn’t bad at all, and I made it home before 8 pm, even after making a long stop at Kroger.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Bulldog Notebook

Saturday ESPN College GameDay will be set up just outside Will’s dorm. Right now Will is rockin the Johnny Damon look. Will lives just up the hill from the stadium in the brand new Rutherford dorm. Last fall they tore down old Rutherford and built a palace in its place: hardwood floors, elevators, various wood-lined study/library/media rooms. Pull down screens for projector TV’s. As an RA, Will has his own spacious room with a private bathroom. He had to miss the NT game to watch the dorm…not a bad game to miss. He watched the game on his laptop outside on a covered balcony while studying. He could hear the roars from the crowd before the play on TV unfolded.

The stadium wasn’t packed, but there was a good crowd in the lower bowl. Lots of open seats in the upper deck. Late in the game the light sprinkle turned to rain. After the game came the downpour. I got wet walking to Will’s dorm, but really soaked walking back to my car.

It was interesting how UGA changed from letting the clock run to trying to save time. You are right, had Georgia not called time out before the punt, they would’ve had an extra time out to use after the first down stuff. They ran down the clock then pinned North Texas near the goal line. I wonder if that changed their strategy.

Early in Richt’s tenure at UGA he was often blasted for clock management, particularly after a home loss to Auburn, if my memory is correct. Hopefully clock management won’t be an issue against LSU. Last year’s success, and having North Texas as an opponent, may have lessened the criticism. Many regular season ticket holders skipped the North Texas game. The stadium was filled with fans who rarely attend Georgia games…like me.

Blasting Brian Jordan

What does Brian Jordan bring to the table as an analyst? Last night takes the cake. After discussing the bizarre brawl, Jerome tried to get Brian's opinion on the Braves lackluster September offensive performance. Brian stammered his way through an answer, saying the Braves needed to "shake things up and add a big bat in late August...I don't know..." Surely Jordan knows when the trade deadline is, and the likelihood of passing a big bat through waivers while owning the league's best record. To even offer such an uneducated opinion makes Jordan worthless as an analyst.

Do Braves fans just want to see any former player in that seat? Is anyone watching? Or listening? I only watch the pregame show when something big is happening at Turner Field: a number being retired or some other big pregame ceremony. I pay the most attention to the postgame show when it was a dramatic win or when I missed a good portion of the game. Both Paul Byrd and Ryan Klesko offer sincere, heartfelt, well thought out analysis. Brian Jordan may be a nice person, but he adds nothing to the broadcast.

Another interesting moment from last night's postgame show was when Skip said the Braves and Cardinals had tied for the league's best record. Instead of looking at his partners or looking thoughtful, Dale was staring into the camera. Skip and Dale were wearing blazers, but for some reason Joe was in a black golf jacket with the collar up. While Skip was talking Joe was staring off out into space. Finally he corrected Skip, saying that since the Cards had been a half game back before their win, they were now a half game ahead. Skip nodded, realizing his error.

After work last night the Ogre had me go out to eat with our customer. Stoney River was great, and we had a fun time. My main contact was seated to my right and the Ogre to my left. Over the Ogre's head were two TV's, off in the distance. Only after the Braves game had started was the channel changed to the game. I kept stealing glances, even though I couldn't read the score. When I saw the brawl I was transfixed, but when they quickly cut back to the action I knew they were only showing a replay. I had seen the lineup, so when Uggla batted after Justin I knew something had happened. Freeman wasn't playing first base. Injury or had he been thrown out? I didn't find out until I got home.

I brought clothes to go down to tonight's game. Not sure how long I'll stay. Though it's doubtful the "mystery giveaway" is a bobblehead, you just never know.  

Enjoyed the AJC article about the homecoming queen/kicker. Made a few comments about Tech’s ugly uniforms and lack of “white-out” participation.

Will’s friend Preston, a junior, was just named West Georgia’s Homecoming King. Nice young man. Will be interesting to see where his younger brother gets a tennis scholarship to. Alabama has been looking at him.

Dan Schlossberg

Somewhere along the way I friended Dan Schlossberg, who is some sort of old-school Jewish baseball writer/radio host. Lives in the northeast, but has been a longtime Braves fan. His Facebook posts are like little recaps of what happened, or what he hopes will happen. Every now and then I chime in on one of his posts as a sign of support. But I’m feeling a little guilty about taking an opposite stance on a few of his posts lately.

After Saturday’s loss Dan was critical of Fredi “benching two sluggers” before the division had been clinched and the home field up for grabs. I objected, since Heyward was returning from injury and a slumping McCann not needing to catch the day game after the night game. Now he’s worried about the home field, but I reminded him that banged up players and tired arms need a little rest so the team isn’t spent come playoff time.   

I had no problem with Fredi resting Freeman Monday night. In general the lineup seemed normal Tuesday night. Interesting that Garcia is coming on like he is. I suppose the ejection helped doom Wood to bullpen duty. I was thinking CJohnson needed a night off. When a player is battling for a batting title, it’s nice that the manager plays him as much as possible, but a day off can be just as helpful.

Wednesday afternoon it must have been a madhouse at Yankee Stadium. I am always slow to follow more people on Twitter because I feel like I need to read every tweet…otherwise I would follow Hample.

Great SI article about Mariano. I always knew he was a great closer, but I never knew that much about him, so I was never a big fan.

I think I told you the story about when I was sitting in the left field bleachers at Atlanta Stadium as a kid. Hank was playing left field, but late in the game Sonny Jackson replaced him. A fan startled harassing Sonny. Later a batter singled to left with a runner on second. Sonny charged the ball and fired home, but his throw to the plate sailed over the catcher’s head and hit the backstop in the air. The irate fan was standing but hadn’t yelled anything. Walking back to his position with his head down, Jackson took off his cap and tipped it to the fan.  

Back in the 70’s, long before the days of statistical analysis, how do you think personnel decisions were made? Surely the statistics available at the time were looked at. Free agency was just getting cranked up. Before that did teams just keep players just because they always had them? Bad teams, perhaps. I always wondered why Sonny Jackson had such a long career in Atlanta. Makes me remember the scene in Moneyball where Brad Pitt can’t believe what he’s hearing from all the old scouts sitting around the table.

Sept 23 & 24

Ceil tried a new recipe for a Mexican lasagna, with a layer or two of tortilla shells in the middle instead of the lasagna noodles. Also enchilada sauce, ground beef, black beans, cheese, etc. Ceil and I loved it, but A and M weren’t keen on something new…even though it had the same ingredients as the burritos they wound up eating.

Watched the Braves, but C and M were doing schoolwork, so I went off and read the Sexton book. Also finishing up Dan Brown’s latest book: Inferno. Very good.

Wore a blister in the back of both feet walking through the downpour in Athens Saturday. Tuesday after work I’m playing golf at a nearby par 3 course. Hopefully the blisters will hold up. Bought a pair of New Balance running shoes…model number 310, I think they are called.

Wednesday night I have a work dinner at Stoney River. Thursday night is the Tech game. It may be Wednesday night before I can look at the Schultz picks contest. I am certainly not an expert!

Tech "Fans"

Tonight Tech fans are all supposed to wear white. I bet a good percentage don’t…especially in the West Stands. So many GT fans have no concept of what being a zealous sports fans means. In Clemson most fans wear all orange every week. At Georgia everyone has on UGA gear. Not so at Tech. Alumni may dress up to impress the other fans, but its obvious they care much more about being seen than what’s going on down on the field. As an alumni it is embarrassing.

And the team is wearing throwback jerseys, except Tech never wore a jersey with a big dark section above the number. Have I ever said that Tech has the worst uniforms in college football? Back in the 50’s and 60’s and early 70’s Tech had great uniforms. The fans on AJC.com are upset that VT is wearing special helmets. They don’t understand how it works in college football.

Tech fans are different from most sports fans. You can tell not only how they act at games, but also by the comments they make at AJC.com.

I saw photos of all the long lines at Yankee Stadium. Glad I wasn’t there. I’m sure the Mariano bobbleheads will be on eBay for $50-100.00. And Yankee fans will buy them. Not me.

I would like a Greg Maddux bobblehead. Last night I was talking to a guy who had 36 bobbleheads. He knew exactly. Nice conversation, but short. He said I should buy a Maddux bobblehad for $10-$15. I get paid $20.00 per month in Amazon giftcards for doing stuff on the internet. I’ve been buying fun things with the money: a Braves road cap, a Bob Uecker jersey. Might get some shoes, a watch, or an old timey looking baseball mitt. Might also get a Bob Uecker bobblehead.

Enjoyed Stoney River last night. Had a coffee-marinated filet that was wonderful. They were showing replays of the brawl on the TV’s. I could tell something had happened. I knew Uggla was playing but hadn’t been in the starting lineup, and Freeman wasn’t playing first. Went home and caught up with what happened.   

They should start calling McCann “Pudge” after Carlton Fisk, who did the same thing to Deion Sanders. How many home runs has that Brewers guy hit? He is certainly no Roger Maris. Freeman was right: players should act like they’ve hit a home run before.

Same Old Braves?

People are saying “Same old Braves” and ‘What’s wrong with the Braves?” – without stopping to review what happened this season.

1. Season-ending injuries: Pena. Beachy. Hudson. Venters. O’Flaherty. Martinez. Pastornicky. Had these players not gone down the Braves record would’ve been several games better.

2. Others that have missed time due to injuries: Freeman. Heyward. Gattis. Schafer. Uggla. BJ. Laird. Maholm. Janish. Walden. Reed Johnson. In total, over three-quarters of the roster missed time to injury.

3. The continued ineffectiveness of Uggla, BJ, and Francisco.

Despite all these setbacks the Braves easily won the NL East, with one of the best records in baseball. They were in first place every day of the season, except one. With all this juggling manager Fredi Gonzalez should be named manager of the Year. Freddie Freeman is a MVP candidate. Andrelton Simmons is having the greatest defensive season in baseball history. He and Jason Heyward should win Gold Gloves, and Freeman is also contending for one. Chris Johnson is battling for the batting title. Evan Gattis has led all rookies in home runs all season. Craig Kimbrel is having another record-setting season, and should be in the running for the Cy Young Award.

What should the Braves have done differently? There were no great hitters on the trading block at the deadline, no one with better stats than players currently on the Braves roster.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Fair Catch Kick

Saturday against UGA, North Texas lined up to punt with ten seconds left in the half. The ball was on the five yard line. UGA had called timeouts after both second and third down so there might be time remaining when they got the ball back. The punter lined up near the back of his own end zone and was able to get off a poor punt. Georgia punt returner had to race forward to catch the ball. The punt returner caught the ball on the move, at the 40 yard line. He immediately took a knee to stop the clock, at the 37 yard line. With 3 seconds on the clock, Georgia tried a 55 yard field goal. It barely missed.

Had this been a pro or high school game, the returner could’ve called for a fair catch. If the free kick rule were legal in college football the returner could have fair caught the punt, then Georgia could have attempted a rarely-used “free kick”. The kicker could have kicked the ball from the 40 yard line, without a rush. If the kick goes through the goal posts it counts as a 50 yard field goal. A rare play that should be used more often, especially at the end of games or the first half. A few years ago a high school used the play to win the game.

As a kid I had read about the free kick…perhaps the successful free kick made by Minnesota’s Fred Cox against the Falcons in 1966. Once in a blue moon a free kick is taken, or at least mentioned by an announcer. Many coaches have no idea about this rule. The kicker comes in and kick off the ground, with a holder holding the ball like a field goal. But there are no opposing players trying to block the kick, which can be taken from the middle of the field.


Wikipedia refers to it as a “Fair Catch Kick” NFL teams tried it more when the goal posts were located on the goal line. Only four successful free kicks have been recorded in NFL history, out of 21 attempts. The low success rate is due to several factors: most free kicks are from long distance, fewer short punts, and field goal success rates were much lower in the 60’s and 70’s and 80’s.  

A list of “known” Free Kicks attempted in the NFL regular season:

………distance/qtr
11.20.33…30 G 3 Ken Strong – Giants vs. Packers
10.23.55…56 M 2 Ben Agajanian – Giants vs. Steelers
11.02.58…61 M 2 Gordy Soltau – 49ers vs. Lions
09.13.64…47 M 2 Sam Baker – Eagles vs. Giants
09.13.64…52 G 2 Paul Hornung – Packers vs. Bears
12.04.66…40 G 2 Fred Cox – Vikings vs. Falcons
11.23.67…55 M 2 Bruce Gossett – Rams vs. Lions
11.03.68…43 G 4 Mac Percival – Bears vs. Packers
12.08.68…47 M 2 Fred Cox – Vikings vs. 49ers
10.05.69…56 M 4 Curt Knight – Redskins vs. 49ers
11.23.69…57 M 2 Tom Dempsey – Saints vs. 49ers
11.01.70…49 M 2 Curt Knight – Redskins vs. Broncos
11.08.71…45 M 2 David Ray – Rams vs. Colts (MNF)
11.21.76…45 G 2 Ray Wersching – Chargers vs. Bills
11.25.79…74 M 4 Mark Moseley – Redskins vs. Giants
09.29.80…73 M 2 Fred Steinfort – Broncos vs. Patriots
11.18.84…61 M 2 Raul Allegre – Colts vs. Patriots
01.01.89…60 M 2 Mike Cofer – 49ers vs. Vikings (playoffs)
10.09.05…58 M 2 Rob Bironas – Titans vs. Texans
11.23.08…68 M 2 Neil Rackers – Cardinals vs. Giants
12.28.08…69 M 2 Mason Crosby – Packers vs. Lions

Percival’s kick won the game. Link 

Interesting that two of the 21 free kicks took place on the same day. Many were taken at the end of the first half.

There have been five free kicks attempted in NFL preseason games, all unsuccessful. Chester Marcol attempted a 68 yard free kick just before halftime in the 1972 College All Star Game against the Dallas Cowboys. The four other preseason kickers were Lou Michaels (57), Percival (60), Rafael Septien (53), and Stone Mountain’s Chris Gardocki (63).  
  
The free kick can be attempted after any fair catch of a punt or kickoff. You’d think more teams would use free kicks at the end of the half or game.

A free kick is also taken after a safety. The team that gets tackled in their own end zone lines up and kicks (or punts) from its own 20 yards line. Since this is 90 yards away from the goalposts, the other team catches the kick and returns the ball.




Just Another Loss

SEPT 19: Crushing for the Braves to lose Tuesday afternoon on a Simmons error and Kimbrel blown save. First time in his career giving up three runs. His season stats are still amazing…as are Simmons. Then Tuesday night they don’t hit.

Last night the Braves only got one hit in the first five innings. Freddie Freeman made an error. Then after Fredi and Wood were ejected they got seven hits in four innings. Perhaps it was the wake-up call they needed. First pitch home runs from Uggla and Justin. Gattis single and McCann RBI double. Simmons scores from first. Schafer takes third on a bunt. And Uggla and BJ struck out. Fredi needs to play Todd Cunningham more. Even Bethancourt would be better than BJ. Hopefully Heyward will return next week.

Funny suggestion that after his ejection, Fredi should’ve donned a Gerald Laird jersey and returned to the dugout. Umpire CB Bucknor had a smirk on his face when he threw Wood out of the game. Bucknor called the 3-2 pitch to Werth a ball, then later calls a pitch even further inside a strike.

September 19, and the Braves have the best record in the National League. Second best record in baseball. A nine game division lead. All this despite all the injuries, and giving the starting pitchers an extra day of rest the last two weeks. Wood had been on track for a Quality Start, as no earned runs were allowed in his 4-2/3 innings pitched (no ER the entire game).    

Worked til 5:30 Tuesday night. Ceil cooked a chicken & dumpling casserole thing. I cleaned up the kitchen, then went to WalMart to more ink. Then upstairs to read the Sexton book.

Yesterday I got a haircut on the way home. Ceil fixed spaghetti and meatballs. Watched the Braves, then drove to Sandy Springs to pick up Anna. She was babysitting Margaret Ewing Gaither’s two kids. When I arrived Margaret and her husband Will were in shorts and T-shirts. For their date that had gone cycling on the Silver Comet Trail.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Dock's First Sunday

Dock Hollingsworth’s first Sunday as senior pastor of Second-Ponce de Leon was a special day. I had worked for fifteen years with Dock’s dad Neil, who has retired back to Greenwood SC. When I arrived I went over to speak to Neil, who was sitting with three rows of relatives. Neil insisted I sit with him, so his daughter Paula had to put up with me. Paula said she and her sister Hillary were there to make sure their brother didn’t get the big head.

As usual, the ministers walked up to the front as the service was about to start. As they arrived the entire congregation stood and applauded Dock. Dock’s eyes teared up, and he was visibly affected and speechless. A special moment. As we were clapping I told Paula that the congregation did this every week for their REGULAR pastor. Both she and Neil cracked up.

Dock’s sermon was about getting back to fundamentals: loving each other. He likened the church with a new pastor to a baseball team starting off spring training with the fundamentals: “This is a baseball” as Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda put it. Dock told the story of how unlike his nine previous interim pastorships, the people of Second-Ponce had captured his heart. He shared many stories of personal interactions, including of how Frank Gudger had taken him to play golf so Dock would feel better about his own golf game.

After the service a luncheon was held in the Family Life Center. The gym floor was packed, and latecomers had to eat in the racquetball courts. I ate with Reid and Edie Whitaker, at a table with Ernie Garrison and his wife. I reminded Ernie that we had played softball together over thirty years ago. His wife asked about Ceil. Since I had worked with Dock’s father, the entire table was interested in my stories of the Hollingsworth family.

Bill Dukes served as master of ceremonies and asked Dock a series of questions that SPdL members had asked in advance. How he got his name, favorite food/restaurant/movie, how he met Melissa, etc. There was much fun and laughter. Dock also introduced all the many family members that were present. I was glad this didn’t happen during the service, when I was sitting with the family.

For the second time this month I was able to speak with many old friends. Dolly and Ben Craig, Debbie Light Painter, Sara Maddox, Jeff Bunch, David and Ivy Anderson, David Hall, Drew Kelly, Jerome, Ricky Richardson, Milton Jarrell. I spoke for a long time to Ron Watts, the stood in line with Bob and Patti Lamb. Bob reminded me that we were in a pre-wedding small group with them, Thad & Darlene Warren, and Mike & Shirley Ayers. Skip and Peggy Whisenbaker had led the group. Both Neil and Jerry Head told me the story of when Dock and Debra Head had gotten their driver’s license they met at a stop sign. They both stopped, then both went. Crash!

Reid told me that Dock and Melissa will spend a few nights each week in SPdL’s nearby parsonage, and that Dock was already working out in the FLC. They still have their house in Braselton, but that is 45 miles away. Dock spent the past few weeks visiting nearby churches in Buckhead, getting to know his new neighbors.

Friday night we watched the ABC sitcom “Last Man Standing”. Tim Allen works at a Bass Pro Shop type place. His wife is played by Nancy Travis. We usually don’t watch, but Duck Dynasty’s Willie and Si Robertson made an appearance. The Robertson’s were there to buy hunting gear, but the discussion turned to scripture. Bible verses were quoted and Jesus was mentioned. There was also some Tea Party talk. As the show was ending Willie and Si sat down at the dinner table with Tim and his family, and Willie said a prayer.

Second Surprise

Ceil has had it rough lately trying to get M to do his schoolwork, so any good news is a pick-me-up. C had worn herself out last week. Every day was full with appointments and running around.

Early Saturday evening she was at the Dekalb Farmer’s Market. Will came home from Athens and wanted to surprise her again. The kids needed to eat, so I had them meet me at Will’s…where Will had surprised Ceil a few weeks ago. C was taking her time getting there, but when I called her she had just parked around the corner at Trader Joes. W went to hide near the restroom. C came in and ordered her food. I went over to see her. A and M were at the booth texting Will, but M kept looking around and acting suspicious. C asked what was going on, and I said that I had inadvertently left my phone on the table and M was playing with it.

While I was paying C said she was going to the bathroom. I thought W would surprise her in front of the restroom, but her waited until she came out and sat down. I had sat down next to Anna so Ceil would have to sit with her back to the restroom. Will was able to walk up and tap her on the shoulder. It made her day.

When C got home from PCC she asked how it went at SPdL, so I told her that everyone had asked about her.

UGA vs. North Texas

Friday night we had a quiet night at home. Watched some of the Braves replay. A was upstairs studying, and C was helping M with some homework. At 10 pm I was on the computer when the phone rang. One of Will’s old coaches had Georgia tickets he wasn’t going to use.

Every year Ceil talks about how she’d like to go to a game at Sanford Stadium. In 2011 I came into some tickets for a night game, so she didn’t want to go. Since this game against North Texas kicked off at 12:15, I thought this one would be better. But C was stressed about Matthew’s lack of progress with his schoolwork. He’s in the 9th grade this year and the workload has increased, and M has struggled. C also hadn’t grocery shopped, and she was looking forward to a trip to the Dekalb Farmer’s Market.

Now that I had the tickets I felt like I needed to use them. Coworker Dialysis had been talking about wanting to go to a Georgia game, since he had never been before. He lives near Monroe, halfway to Athens, so we agreed to meet at the Varsity. I drove up 85 to Jefferson, GA, and then took that four-lane into Athens. Traffic wasn’t bad until we hit the red-lights in Athens. I found the same free parking place I had used in 2011 on the street running behind the Varsity. Dialysis arrived, and we made the mile walk to the stadium. Arrived just before the national anthem.

After having to get up for the first two huge games against Clemson and South Carolina, and with the big LSU game looming next week, there was no way the Dawgs could have been expected to come in to this North Texas game all pumped up. In the fan’s eyes, Georgia’s offense failed when they did not score on their first two possessions. The Dawgs did rack up a large statistical advantage on both offense and defense: over 250 yards passing in the first 16 minutes of the game, and negative rushing yards allowed. But the “Mean Green” got extremely lucky, hitting on four unlikely plays to tie the game at 21 all. The Georgia fans were beside themselves. A NT receiver made a diving touchdown catch, a NT kickoff return went all the way for another TD, and a UGA punt was blocked into the end zone for a third score.

Since the Dawgs were playing North Texas many of the real fans had given/sold their tickets to more casual fans, who were prone to make inane comments. QB Aaron Murray was “awful” though at the time he was 13-16 and 256 yards passing. I decided to make similar stupid comments loudly enough so others could hear.

The first half was played in a very light sprinkle. In the second half this sprinkle slowly got heavier. By the end of the third quarter the very same fans who were imploring the team to play harder must have decided the team had done enough, for as the rain increased so did the stream of fans out of the stadium. Dialysis had bought a cheap poncho before the game and was mostly dry. I knew how hot those ponchos could get, and I knew it wouldn’t keep me completely dry anyway, so I got wet. With less then three minutes to go Georgia was up 17 points, and Dialysis had seen enough. We walked out together. He went straight to his car, and I walked over to Will’s dorm. The rain continued to grow heavier. I was wet, but not soaked. Yet.

Will had dorm duty and didn’t go to the game. He watched the game on his laptop while studying on the dorm’s covered porch, where he could hear the sounds from the nearby stadium. He gave me a quick tour. Outside the rain had become a downpour. Will gave me a jacket that helped, but on my walk back to the car I got completely soaked. Some placed I had to walk through six inches of water. I’d worn shoes and a cap I didn’t mind getting wet. The rain slacked off for the last quarter mile, but my wet shoes wore blisters on my Achilles.

At the car I grabbed dry shorts, shoes, and a shirt from my trunk, and changed out of the wet clothes. Traffic headed back out toward Jefferson GA wasn’t bad until I got near the interstate. With a police escort, the two buses carrying the North Texas team lumbered past. I stopped at RaceTrac for a drink and heard talk of an accident on the interstate. I considered an alternate route, but decided to risk it. Wrong. After several clear miles traffic backed up. THEN my Low Fuel light came on just after I had passed an exit, and I got worried. Traffic was stopped, or moving 5 MPH. I called Will, who had left after 5 pm to come home, but was stuck in traffic on 316. He would beat me home by an hour.

Fortunately traffic improved, and I made it to the Chateau √Član exit for gas. From there my GPS directed me over to Gainesville, down 985 to highway 20, over to Cumming, and down 400 to Roswell. Not a bad drive.

Georgia Tech: A Winning Season?

Many Tech fans wear Rose colored glasses and think the Jackets will cruise through the season unscaived, slipping past Georgia an on to the BCS. based on past history, I know that a winning season will be a much tougher proposition. Before my predictions I will provide some light analysis.

The good news: Georgia Tech's passing game and quarterback play are much improved this year. The defense and kicking game have also improved.

The bad: With the exception of Robert Godhigh, GT's running back play seems to have taken a step backwards. Days has finally accepted the fact that he is not a quarterback. He gained 97 yards against UNC, but has yet to become a breakaway back. For Tech to succeed someone needs to step forward.

More bad: After three relatively easy opening games, Tech's schedule gets increasingly more difficult. Four games will be very hard to win: Miami, BYU, Clemson, and Georgia. Others could go either way: Virginia Tech, Virginia, and Pitt. Last year Tech lost a tough opener to VT. This year these early easy games may not have gotten Tech tough enough for the meat of the schedule.  

Should Vad and the defense blossom, Tech could win eight or nine games, and then win a bowl game. If everything goes wrong, the Jackets could go 4-8 with no bowl bid. I predict 6-6, followed by a bowl loss. But I've been wrong before.

Aug 31 vs. Elon: WIN. A good first game...70-0. (1-0)

Sept 14 at Duke: WIN. Tech's defense bends but only breaks twice. (2-0)

Sept 21 vs North Carolina: WIN. After surrendering twenty first half points, Tech shut down the UNC offense in the second half. I'm sure the rain helped. (3-0)

Sept 26: vs Virginia Tech on Thursday night. A tough game will show the national TV audience what the Jackets are made of. The Hokies played number one Alabama tough, then laid an egg against East Carolina. They'll come ready to play. The question is: will Tech show up? It will be Vad Lee's first big game. (3-1)

Oct 5 at Miami. Tech will not be able to beat this improved Hurricanes squad. Miami has already beaten Florida. (3-2)

Oct 12 at Brigham Young. Another loss for the Jackets. (3-3)

Oct 19 vs Syracuse. Hopefully Tech bounces back and wins this game, but it won't be easy. (4-3)

Oct 26 at Virginia. The Cavaliers were thrashed by Oregon, but playing tough opponents will help UVA. Tech always struggles in Charlottesville. Should Vad Lee shine, Tech can win. (5-3)

Nov 2 vs Pittsburgh. Another tough opponent. (5-4)

Nov 14 at Clemson on Thursday night. Having already played one Thursday night game, the Tigers will take care of business...especially on offense. (5-5)

Nov 23 vs Alabama A&M. A win for Tech. (6-5)

Nov 30 vs Georgia. Tech loses a high-scoring affair. (6-6)

Spotlight on Clemson

When we watch Clemson football games on TV we look on the sidelines for our nephew Ben, who is a student manager for the Clemson team. Last Thursday night he was in the right place at the right time: a player got thrown out of the game and was chewed out on the sidelines by Dabo Swinney…right in front of Ben.

Friday I noticed an article about the play on Yahoo Sports, so Ben’s moment in the spotlight was captured for prosperity.


Speaking of Clemson, the Tigers have a clear path to the ACC Championship Game and a possible Orange Bowl berth. Should they also beat rival South Carolina, the number three ranked Tigers have an excellent chance at playing for the BCS National Championship. Besides the Gamecocks, the only other really tough game is against FSU, at home.

Aug 31 Georgia: WIN
Sept 7 South Carolina State: WIN
Sept 19 at North Carolina State: WIN
Sept 28 Wake Forest
Oct 5 at Syracuse
Oct 12 Boston College
Oct 19 Florida State
Oct 26 at Maryland
Nov 2 at Virginia
Nov 14 Georgia Tech (Thursday)
Nov 23 The Citadel
Nov 30 at South Carolina
Dec 7 ACC Championship Game

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Global Warming? No!


Discussion of global warming data and issues is being suppressed. Leading scientific journals have taken strong editorial positions of the side of global warming. They have no business doing this. Under the circumstances, any scientist who has doubts about global warming knows they should keep quiet. One proof of this suppression is the fact that so many of the critics of global warming are retired professors. They are no longer seeking grants, and no longer have to face colleagues whose grant applications and career advancement may be harmed by their criticism. 

Temperatures are not rising. The HadCRUT3 index shows temperatures rising to 1878, cooling to 1911, warming to 1941, cooling to 1964, warming to 1998, then cooling through 2011. This recent cooling data is backed by by weather balloons, ground stations, and satellites. Two science teams showed that accounting for increased growth in urban areas reduces the warming trend in half.

Increased CO2 levels do not add to the Greenhouse Effect and do not warm the planet. In fact, there is solid evidence that increased carbon dioxide levels are the result of warming. As temperatures rise and fall cyclically due to various factors, more CO2 is expelled.

Global warming advocates use circular reasoning to prove their assumptions. Computer models make assumptions, but the model’s output cannot be verified because assumptions were used.

In 1996 the United Nations reported that CO2 caused global warming, but deleted two statements from the final draft: (1) “None of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the odserved climate changes to increases in greenhouse gases.” (2) “No study to date has positively attributed all or part of the climate change to man-made causes.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that sea levels rose about 3.1 mm per year for 10 years. Three millimeters is about the thickness of two dimes. A change this small cannot be accurately measured, based on the current measuring devices (satellites) and variables such as weather, temperature, tides, icecaps, and shorelines. Scientists even use “fudge-factors” in their work, making it even more clear that this sea level increase number isn’t an actual number.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Great Expectations

Ranked number three in the nation, ESPN had high expectations for Clemson's performance last night against NC State. I'm sure Clemson fans are irate at how their team was treated, but that comes with being ranked so high…especially considering Clemson's past performance in similar situations. There was lively debate on both sides of the issue by Reece Davis, Jesse Palmer, and David Pollock. Amazing that Pollock once ate 118 wings at one sitting.

Likewise, there was much talk of "Heisman-hopeful" Tajh Boyd's performance. Clemson's quarterback repeatedly made poor throws, held the ball too long, failed to spot open receivers, and chose to scramble outside the pocket instead of stepping up into it. That's why I'm no fan of the "quarterback guru" that so many college QB's like Boyd are working with. The guru helps the QB withstand pressure in the pocket, but I don't see much progress in reading defenses and improved passing performance. The Mannings work with high school QBs, and use elite college quarterbacks as camp counselors. I'm sure many college QB's could benefit from spending more time with the Mannings.

Boyd did thread the needle several times and connected for three touchdowns, but he is not the quarterback Johnny Manziel is. Right now the Heisman race is between Johnny Football and Oregon QB Marcus Mariota. Boyd may make it to New York as one of the finalists, but I don't see him winning. I would like to see Georgia's Todd Gurley have a monster year and become a candidate, but both the Dawgs and the Crimson Tide have a quarterback and running back that are Heisman possibilities. This will split the Southern vote, handing the Heisman to Mariota. You heard it here first.

Those churches that are getting millions for their land to build the new Falcons stadium have a great opportunity that hopefully won't be wasted. It's a shame people are saying they are selling out for the big bucks. Hopefully the churches will use the money wisely.

Even though the Nats edged the Marlins last night, the Braves can clinch the division crown before the end of the day. It is doubtful that ESPN will make as big a deal about it as they did when the Dodgers clinched last night.

Finally cut the grass Wednesday night. Also raked and blew off the driveway. Enough pine straw had fallen to cover the area where Will parks his Jeep. Looks a lot better.

Thursday Ceil had a lot of running around to do (school, art, orthodontist Jerry Capps), so I hustled home to take Anna to Roswell. But Ceil wanted some time to unwind, so she took Anna and looked for fabric near North Point. Matthew and I braved the long line at Moe's free queso day. I'm not a big queso eater, so Matthew had leftovers to bring home. Saw "young" Jim and Angie Watterson. Watched the Clemson game and rode back to Roswell to get Anna.

Lum & Leuze


Yesterday I stumbled across an autobiographical article on Mike Lum on SABR website. That's where I got the MJ nugget. The article said he was living in Atlanta. Later I learned a bunch about my old friend Moe Drabowsky. http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/e4e5530a

Tom is no Louie Giglio, which I'm sure is OK with Tom. I always remember Tom saying, not long after I met him, that Christian Scientists were like Grape Nuts…not exactly grapes and not exactly nuts. Leuze was knocking Lum. When I read that about Lum coaching MJ I did cringe, though I knew that he was a well-respected hitting coach in baseball circles.

Leuze was my roommate for several years, a fun guy. In our single days I always regret not road-tripping with Tom up to Yankee Stadium and Fenway. He took his brother. I wasn't invited, but probably could've tagged along. Tom is now a college professor and attends many nearby Reds games. I had lost contact with him until Facebook, and got to see him at a Braves game a year or two ago.

Hopefully Uggla can carry his success Wednesday night over to this weekend at Wrigley Field and on to the postseason. Same with other players as well. Would be nice to get Reed Johnson back to pinch-hit. Haven't heard an update recently.

Interesting photo from last Sunday when the rookies had to dress up. Some (like Gattis) looked worse than others.

Have you seen a recent of Will? He's starting to look like Johnny Damon. Or the outdoorsman from my favorite Dr. Pepper Ten commercial.

Now that Matthew got his braces off, it looks like it's about to be Anna's turn.

ACC Championship Game

It amazes me that Georgia Tech has played in the second-most number of ACC Championship Games since the event started in 2005.

2012 FSU 21 Georgia Tech 15
2011 Clemson 38 Virginia Tech 10
2010 Virginia Tech 44 FSU 33
2009 Georgia Tech 39 Clemson 34
2008 Virginia Tech 30 Boston College 12
2007 Virginia Tech 30 Boston College 16
2006 Wake Forest 9 Georgia Tech 6
2005 FSU 27 Virginia Tech 22

Georgia Tech also won ACC championships in 1990 and 1998. Interestingly, Miami has yet to win an ACC championship.

14 Clemson has won 3 straight (twice)
13 FSU won 9 straight
9 Maryland also won 3 straight (twice)
7 NC State (3 straight)
7 Duke also won 3 straight (twice)
5 North Carolina
4 Virginia Tech
3 Georgia Tech
2 Virginia
2 Wake Forest
1 South Carolina
0 Miami, Boston College, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Notre Dame

Monday, September 16, 2013

Weekend

Thursday was our anniversary. Brought Ceil a dozen roses and her favorite Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.  Anna was off at her church gathering, and we didn’t want to leave M home alone. C was worn out from a rough week of teaching M, so the three of us went to Moxie Burger. Great burger, but I did eat too many stringy onion rings and thick French fries.

Back home C and M did more schoolwork, and I got on the internet. Also had the Braves replay on the TV.

Since we changed the cable I am sure if we have ESPNU to watch the GT/Duke game (we don’t).

On the 22nd Dock’s father Neil is coming down for Dock’s first service. Neil is a tall man in his 70’s. Good guy. He worked here at Tull Metals until he retired. Now he lives up in his hometown: Greenwood SC. I’ll let you know if I can come.  

Hardly anything happened this weekend. Friday I went a different route home and it took longer. Watched the Braves and worked on eBay. When C and M are doing school I try to leave the room.

Saturday morning I came downstairs to watch ESPN College GameDay. Will wanted some information so I looked that up. Had to call ComCast Customer No-Service…that wasted an hour. Loaded the lawnmower up in the CRV…Ceil took it to get serviced. Took Matthew all the way to his girlfriend’s house in Canton.

Listened to the Tech game on the radio…the announcer is terrible. Only his second game, but he fails to mention the number of yards gained or lost on the play. Lee’s 50% completion percentage will not beat Clemson or Georgia. Too many dropped passes by his receivers. On the interception the receiver could have caught the ball if he had dove. The defensive player dove and made the catch as the GT receiver stood watching.   

I also missed the start of the Texas A&M/Alabama game. A great game to watch. When it ended it was time for the Braves game. Ceil baked a spaghetti casserole for supper. Didn’t go up the Birmingham to get M until 10 pm.

Sunday at 11:20 am I turned on SPdL on TV…it was last week’s service. Just missed the parent dedication. Did a bunch of laundry and other cleaning. Watched the Braves and just a little of the Falcons. Took a nap. Ate leftovers, yogurt, and popcorn. Also watched some of the Broncos/Giants and Seahawks/49ers. Got back to reading Frank Sexton’s book.

Macon Boy Does Good

Deandre Smelter, the Tech receiver who caught two TD passes Saturday at Duke, was a former GT baseball pitcher who had a bad shoulder.

I didn’t realize that Smelter was the pitcher my dad had followed at the high school around the corner from his house in MaconTattnall Square Academy. Smelter had an athletic scholarship to the small private school and was a three-sport stand-out. He had football scholarship offers and was drafted by the Twins, but went to Tech to play baseball. He also played for the East Cobb Yankees.

I didn’t realize it was the same guy until my dad pointed it out to me. The radio broadcasters mentioned he had been drafted, but never said what high school he had gone to. Wes Durham and most other college radio announcers mention the players high school to gain popularity and a following in the player’s hometowns. That is a smart thing to do, and the new radio announcer should do that as well.

Brian McCann: HOF?

Last week Brian McCann joined Yogi Berra, Johnny Bench, and Mike Piazza is the only catchers in MLB history to hit 20 home runs in six straight seasons. I decided to compare McCann to the three great backstops. For fun I added Carlton Fisk, Gary Carter, Mickey Cochrane, Ivan Rodriquez, Joe Mauer, and Yadier Molina.

PL…YR…HR…AVG..OBP..SLG..OPS
MP…16…427…308…377…656…922
MC…11…119…320…419…478…897
JM.….9…105…323…405…468…873
YB…17…358…285…348…482…830
BM….8…176…277…350…475…824
JB…16…389…267…342…476…817
IR….20…311…296…334…464…798
CF…20…376…269…341…457…797
GC…18…324…262…335…439…773
YM….9..…89…283…339…403…742

Interesting that Berra, Piazza, Fisk, and Carter played in large media markets. Molina and Mauer have each hit 20 homes runs in only one season.

The YR column does not include rookie call-up seasons where only a handful of games were played, or at the end of the player’s career where just a few games were played.

Other catchers in the Hall of Fame include Roger Bresnahan, Roy Campanella, Bill Dickey, Buck Ewing, Rick Ferrell, Josh Gibson, Gabby Harnett, Ernie Lombardi, Biz Mackey, Louis Santop, and Ray Schalk.